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December 2011

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Songs My Grandmother Taught Me - Thamiris

This is one of my all-time favorite Thamiris stories.  This was written many years ago, right after Ten Little Warlords originally aired, and she knew it was the one of hers I loved best.  She was totally convinced that she didn't write het very well, but as you can see, she was wrong about that!  ;-)

I love the tone and the layers of texture in this story.  When she first posted it, I had to read it a couple of times to "get" the whole story.  She packs so many images and nuances of sub-plot into so few words.  It 's a textbook example of crisp, clear writing where no word is wasted.  This story still stays with me today as one of Tham's best.

Rest well, old friend.

Songs My Grandmother Taught Me - Thamiris

My grandmother spends hours in the pale blue kitchen, rolling dough between her delicate fingers, stirring in cardamom with a long wooden spoon, measuring the milk with her still- sharp blue eyes.  Singing quietly, while she mixes the ingredients for her famous honey cake, her trim figure under the crisp white apron sways to the rhythm.

He watches her from the doorway, dark eyes on her undulating hips.  At seventy, he's still handsome, black hair now liberally streaked with grey, back still straight despite the years of heavy work on the farm, body still hard and lean.  Half of the village women are in love with him, and not a few of the men.  Age hasn't dimmed his desirability, and when my grandmother sees him watching her, she flashes her husband a secret smile, and her hands begin to move in a slower, more sensuous fashion over the heavy, honey-swirled dough.

They've forgotten me, sitting in a corner under a latticed window, the sun shining on the fair hair they tell me I've inherited from her, my mother's mother.  Before her song, she'd been telling me a story about my grandfather, how she'd known he liked her even before he did.  Lost in the memory, her song had begun.

I can't make out the words, but I recognize the haunting tune. It's a ballad, about a young  girl who falls in love with a dark, violent god.  They sleep together one night under the stars in a silent forest grove.  When the rain wakes her the next morning, he's gone.

Saddened, confused, she returns to the village.  When her belly swells, the villagers are cruel, scorning the girl for giving herself so easily to a fickle god.  Her friends, disapproving of her lover,  move on.

Alone, she waits for the dark god's return, as the child grows inside her. But he never appears.  Finally, believing he despises her, the girl walks into a cool, deep stream.  She doesn't come out.

When her body washes up on the sandy banks, face pale, hair tangled and muddy, the villagers realize their guilt.  They carry the dead girl to the dark god's temple atop a green hill, placing her carefully on the altar, while the candlelight flickers over her ghostly pale skin.

Then the god appears.  At first, he doesn't notice the girl, hidden by the mourning crowd, but when they part at his approach, he sees her lifeless body.  Heat floods the room, and the dark god begins to howl.  He pulls the girl into his arms, stroking her hair, kissing her cold, blue lips.  Suddenly, he vanishes, his lover clutched against his broad chest.

He takes her to the king of the gods.  The grey-haired Zeus promises to restore the life of mother and child only if his handsome son sacrifices his divinity, if he becomes mortal.  The dark god, desperate without the girl, agrees.  In a flash, the lovers are back in the forest grove.  Her blue eyes open, and when she sees the beautiful man, she cries.  He kisses away her tears, and they make love under the green canopy.  Later, when she discovers his sacrifice, the girl demands that he beg Zeus to restore his divinity.

The song ends with his refusal.

My tall grandfather loves that song.  Even now, even after all of these years, he can't resist my grandmother.  He is kissing her now, in the warm kitchen, then picks her up in his strong arms, and they disappear up the stairs.  The familiar creak of the bedsprings echoes through the cottage, and I smile, taking the sweet dough in my hands, rolling it.

Despite their beauty, my grandparents are quite ordinary.  She bakes, tells stories, cares for her grandchildren. He works in the field, tends the animals, and watches my grandmother.

I hope someday that I'll find someone who loves me the way he loves her, the way the dark god loved the innocent girl.

I hope someday I'll stand in a pale blue kitchen, kneading dough, singing a song to my granddaughter about romance and passion, life and death.

I hope someday I'll find my own dark god.

The End


This week I have been lured back to the Herc universe after a long lapse. Other places, other things -- we are building a new house which takes more energy than I am sure I have (but knew I wouldn't have at an even more advanced age.)

Yesterday signed up to do an Ares birthday story. Have to get the image of Ares dancing around singing "It's May, It's May. The month of yes you may" out of my head. Or maybe not!

Amorette told me the bad news yesterday. Means a lot to me because I had breast cancer at age 42 but was one of the very lucky ones. Will celebrate 20 years this summer. Gods, I'm not that old.

It's good to see you around. I've loved so many your stories for so long. Congrats on being a long-time survivor. I understand the house-building thing. We're building one too. It's amazing how much time picking out stuff and trying to decide where to put this and that takes.

It's too bad that this sad news is the reason so many of us in the Herc/Xenaverse are "gathering" again on-line. Do you mind if I add you to my friends list?
I already added you to mine. You can read the stories about my house -- which is stealing my time and creativity.
LOL! Thanks...we can compare notes!
I remember this story from when it was posted and from some rereads since then. Although not recently, so thank you for posting it here. It definitely was rare for her to write het, especially after all that went down, but she did write it well - much like everything she wrote. She was one heck of a writer.
Hiya hun!

She was very insecure about her het and gen writing. I told her time and time again how much I liked both of these, but I don't think she ever quite believed how good they are and how much the het/gen lovers of the fandom lved her writing in those genres. She told me once that when she wrote slash, she could sort of step back and write like a reporter does - an impartial observer of the events at hand. But when she wrote het, she couldn't be an "impartial observer" and had to write the story from her own viewpoint and emotions. The slash gave her a mask to hide behind, not revealing too much about her own psyche, but the het laid bare her own soul for all the world to see.

Over the years, she and I worked through our differences and I'm glad we became friends again. In the end, most of the "differences" were pretty silly to begin with. She could be judgemental and sometimes, as we both know, temperamental. But she was also supportive and stood up for what she believed in, and as loyal to friends as anyone.

I knew she was sick, but she didn't really want that to be the focus of her life, so we didn't discuss it very often when we "talked". I didn't know until yesterday that she had gone.

The last email I got from her was in November, I think. I had mentioned to her that I was working on something new and she wanted to read it when it was finished. What I remember from that email was "you know I hate het, but if it's yours, I'll make an exception. Gimme!"

That was high praise coming from Tham.