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Ats/FF: Passion of Shadows (Nina/Inara)

Written for the seventh round of femslash_minis: Nina. I was assigned girlchild, who requested Nina/Inara, with Norse mythology, gemstone symbolism, and lilies, but no angst, or Nina-as-client. A smidgen of angst crept in, but otherwise, I think this fits the bill.

Title: Passion of Shadows
Author: voleuse
Fandom: Ats/Firefly
Ship: Nina/Inara
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Whatever I meant to say loses itself.
Notes: Pre-Firefly, very post-Angel

Inara isn't sure what she expected when she first applied to the Guild.

Music, and dance, and elocution, yes. Poetry and, of course, the ways of pleasuring both men and women.

Training in weapons was a surprise, as were the more personal methods of attack. Her instructors teach death like a dance, and she finds the beauty in that, too.

Even more practically, there are lectures in politics and history. Flight simulations for various types of shuttles, and the basics of engineering.

She learns the intricacies of flattery and flirtation, of command and uncommon courtesy.

She drinks it all in like wine, and finds she loves each moment.

Then one morning, the house priestess pulls her aside. Tells her there's an instructor she has yet to meet.

"Another?" Inara frowns, careful not to let her brow furrow overmuch. "I hadn't known."

"Her name is Nina." The priestess presses a slip of paper into her hand. "She expects you this evening."

Inara clutches the paper in delicate fingers, and bows her head to agree.


Across the gardens, up a stairway, and through a wrought iron gate, and still no sign of Nina.

Inara lifts the hem of her skirt above her feet and feels moist grass slip between the laces of her sandals.

She pauses to appreciate the metalwork of the gate, the peaks of its design crowned with semi-precious stones.

"Amber for protection."

The voice startles Inara, and she turns her head sharply.

"Garnet for healing." A woman rises from beside a reflecting pool, previously hidden by a marble statue beside it. "Tourmaline for strength."

Inara casts her eye to the gate again. "And peridot, to bring peace."

"Good," the woman says. She pulls the gold of her hair back, sets a lily behind her ear. "You must be Inara."

Inara smiles. "And you must be Nina."

"Yes." Nina bends, sweeps her hand to the reflecting pool, and rises with another lily in her hand.

Inara stills as Nina approaches, catches her breath when Nina twines the lily's stem into her hair.

Nina's hand is warm against Inara's face, and then she steps back.

"Come," Nina says. "We should start our lessons."

"In what?" Inara asks, because she's never been told. "What are you teaching me?"

Nina's laugh is low and sweet.



Inara repeats, cleverly and convincingly, there's no such thing as magic.

With each reiteration, Nina waves away Inara's logic.

"There used to be," she tells Inara. "In the soil of Earth-That-Was."

The scent of herbs is strong in Nina's bedroom, and Inara rubs soot from her fingertips.

"Earth-That-Was," she emphasizes.

Nina kisses her protests away.


The days pass, full of sun, and the nights, full of silk.

And slowly, slowly Inara begins to understand.

There is a soothing ritual to everything Nina does, a steady rhythm that weaves from her body and into the world around.

She sees the pattern Nina creates, and somehow, everything falls within its lines.

"Why do you call it magic?" she wonders aloud. "Why pretend it's something it's not?"

Nina crushes a pearl with her pestle, grinds it to a fine dust.

When she finishes, she scrapes it into a bowl, and Inara continues to wait.

Finally, Nina licks the back of her thumb, and the air smells like sage and honey.

"It used to be more," she tells Inara. "When I was young."

But she never specifies when that was.


One night, Inara reaches across the bed and finds only the cool mattress.

She wakes then, and rises from the bed, finds Nina standing by the open window, clothed only in the moonlight.

It's cool, and Inara shivers as she walks across the room.

"What is it?" she asks, pulling a blanket around her shoulders. "Are you all right?"

Nina shakes her head and shrugs. "The full moon," she murmurs.

Inara leans against her. "Like every month," she observes.

"Not like before," Nina says. "I-- It was different before."

"Before what?"

"Before the end." Nina smiles, barely. "Before the wolf broke her chains. Ate the moon, and the sun."

"I don't understand," Inara replies.

Nina turns from the window. "I know."

She brushes her lips against Inara's cheek, drags her teeth against her ear.

And in the light of the moon, they sink.


A/N: Title and summary adapted from Lynda Hull's Black Mare.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 14th, 2005 06:08 pm (UTC)
This was just wonderful -- a very sumptous story. Thank you!
Nov. 28th, 2005 06:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it!
Nov. 15th, 2005 01:09 am (UTC)
Thank you for taking my odd requests and turning them into something so wholly unexpected and gorgeous! This is lovely and lush. I especially adore your depictions of both ladies. A younger Inara, eager to learn and not yet as polished as she is in-series, is a rarity to read and a delight. In addition, I really like what you did with Nina-- she's wise and bittersweet, and she flows seamlessly into Inara's world without losing any of her Angel characterization or history.

Thanks again! I'm very pleased and grateful.
Nov. 28th, 2005 06:04 pm (UTC)
I'm so thrilled you liked it! It was a neat request, and I had fun trying to put the pieces together.
Nov. 17th, 2005 05:07 am (UTC)
Oh wow, this is wonderful. I love the dream-like quality you captured and the setting is so unique and interesting.

Thank you so much for sharing this great fic!
Nov. 28th, 2005 06:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it!
Nov. 22nd, 2005 10:48 am (UTC)
Ooh. I really enjoyed this. It's so sensuous and fleeting.
Nov. 28th, 2005 06:04 pm (UTC)
Dec. 14th, 2005 04:45 pm (UTC)
That first section is absolutely amazing. I love it so much.

I think of Nina as being much like Kate, wanting to have a normal life and avoid the supernatural as much as possible, so the idea of her teaching Inara magic was jarring to me, but she's still intact 500 years after we last saw her (and employed by the Guild no less) so it's safe to say some major stuff has happened to her, and given the world she lives in I can see getting a lot more into magic.

"Before the end." Nina smiles, barely. "Before the wolf broke her chains. Ate the moon, and the sun."

A wonderful line -- though it feels more like River than like Nina.
Dec. 15th, 2005 06:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

This was a tough one to write, given the request, so I think I understand what you're saying. There's a lot of extrapolation to do, to get from Ats-Nina to the Nina in this story, and unfortunately, I couldn't think of a way to include it gracefully. Thank you for the feedback, though.
Dec. 16th, 2005 04:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's hard to not go all Exposition Fairy when there's such a jump like in this story, and when you're writing such an atmospheric piece it's extra-hard to fit in enough exposition.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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