Title: Blossom to Blossom
Ratings/Warnings: PG-13 for mild allusions to violence, m/m sex, and self-injury
Summary: Five drabbles on flowers.
Notes: Many moons ago, ranalore guessed correctly which remix_redux story I'd written, and so I asked her for a story request. She said, "I want Richard/Alec. Maybe with Alec being snarky about spring and flowers and noble courtships (and allergies)." Here, finally, it is. Also, Phoebe, you can still request something!
Disclaimer: All characters and places belong to Ellen Kushner.
He'd claimed the rose as soon as Richard had come home, heedless or fascinated by the thorns; the pricks of blood on his fingers were much redder than its orangish petals. "Not the time of year, really, for roses."
"It's the new fashion, showing them off in winter. They grow them in hothouses."
Alec hummed thoughtfully. "Coral for desire." He twisted the rose in his hands. "And did you thank her, who gave it to you?"
"I brought it to you," Richard pointed out, and Alec smirked and touched Richard's shirt, Richard's chest underneath, his fingers marking them with red.
Alec waited under a flowering tree, cloaked against the sleet; in the grey of twilight, Richard recognized him by his slouch, his ill-concealed impatience. The trees had bloomed early this year, but the cold had returned and destroyed the delicate petals, burning brown bruises into their white.
He stepped out of the shadows to halt in Richard's path, blocking him. Water sparkled on the rough cloth of Alec's hood and his skin was pale and hair brown as the frost-ruined petals fallen onto his shoulders, and when Richard kissed him, he tasted sharp as their heavy, rotting scent was sweet.
3. Cherry Blossoms
It was warm in the city, and the trees were sprouting small leaves in bright, living greens, vibrant in every shade from nearly yellow to emerald-dark. Tiny petals of white and pink piled in the gutters and corners of doorsteps like a strange sort of warm, soft snow.
Alec was miserable. In between sneezes, he cursed flowers, plants in general, spring, allergies, and Richard, for not suffering.
Richard had tried to be comforting, but he wasn't a doctor, and Alec scorned his attempts at sympathy. "It will pass."
"And return," Alec said, in a voice deep with predicted doom. "Yearly."
4. Sweet Peas
"In Riverside," Alec said, glaring at a girl carrying a tray heaped with pink flowers, "she would be selling beer."
Richard shrugged. "Flowers make more money in spring."
"Flowers do give a courtship that air of pleasant spontaneity," Alec drawled. "These nobles enjoy pretending to be dirty peasants too poor to buy more for their sweethearts; it would be crude for one to acknowledge that their loves are arranged by economics, politics, boredom- not romance."
"But not yours?"
Alec looked away, but answered coolly. "I *am* too poor to buy anything else, and besides, Richard, I'd rather have a drink."
Richard was still breathing hard from the fight, his hand still curved to hold a sword's weight; he felt quick, or that the movements of other people had slowed in the hot, humid air.
Small things stood out to him with an intensity given them by the challenge: Alec's eyes glittered as he stared at the dead body; white, star-shaped flowers grew near his feet; sunset streaked the sky above the rooftops in blood red and bruise purple. Alec lifted his chin, a knife-edged grin spreading across his face, and Richard felt a danger as appealing as the brief duel.