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Commentary on Chase the Glowing Hours, as requested by [livejournal.com profile] lapiccolina. Originally posted here.


I don't know how many people realize this, but writing book fic is fucking hard. It is maybe the hardest type of fic to write, imo, because unless you can mimic the author's style, your fic will be a failure. That sounds harsh, but it's fundamentally true. Even in genre fiction, especially romance novel fiction, which is routinely mocked as trash, this is true. And for anyone that would mock romance novelists, I'd like to see them try it. Those writers turn out more words, faster, than anyone should humanly be able to turn out words. Ahem. This is a pet peeve of mine, romance novel bashing, I mean.

Anyway, when I signed up for Yuletide last year, I offered to write Bridgerton fic, but I didn't think I'd actually get assigned Bridgerton fic. That was a foolish thing to think. So I was assigned it and then I promptly started rereading Romancing Mister Bridgerton, and I actually think I overread it, because it was a week before Yuletide and I hadn't written anything and still didn't know what the hell I wanted to write. Which is why I turned to a five times fic. When I am at a loss for something like this, I find that forcing fic into a set structure can help and it definitely did in this circumstance.

So. Fic. Let's get to that, shall we?


one.

Spending his first night back in London at Lady Mottram's ball wasn't what Colin had planned, but when his mother asked in that particular tone of voice, Colin was wise enough to know that it was best to give in gracefully. He might not be in leading strings any longer, but his mother had a way of making him feel as though he would be forever. And really, he reasoned to himself, it wasn't such an awful request. The food was plentiful, his brothers were both in attendance (which meant he wouldn't be as relentlessly pursued by matchmaking mamas), and this one appearance would hopefully mean not having to attend the upcoming Smythe-Smith musicale with Eloise.

All in all, it was a most satisfactory situation.

Or at least it was until Eloise materialized at his side. He looked down at her with suspicion. Eloise didn't make it a habit of speaking to him at these events. Something about frightening away her suitors. He cocked an eyebrow at her. "Yes?"

Eloise poked him in the side. "Colin," she said in a voice that very clearly meant she wanted something.

"Yes?"

"Dance with Penelope."

He blinked at Eloise in surprise. That had not been what he was expecting.

She poked him again. "Don't goggle that way, Colin," she ordered. "It makes you look like a half-wit."

"Insulting me is not the way to make me more inclined to do as you ask." He frowned at her, just resisting crossing his arms over his chest like a petulant schoolboy.

"Please?" Eloise nodded her head towards something, and Colin followed her gaze to see Penelope standing alone at the edge of the ballroom, looking just the slightest bit miserable in her bright orange ballgown. Something in him twisted. "She's only been asked to dance once this evening, and --"

I remember when I sent this to [livejournal.com profile] leobrat to beta that she was like "um, bright orange? That's not really what debutantes would have worn" and then I laughed, because that was one of those book specific things. Poor Penelope.

Colin held up a hand. "Fine."

Eloise brightened. "Really? You are the best brother, Colin. Far superior to Anthony and Benedict."

A smile twitched at the corners of Colin's mouth. "I've already agreed, Eloise. You needn't try to persuade me any longer."

"Then what are you doing still standing here?" she asked archly, and Colin had a fleeting thought that she was as bad as their mother.

"Make sure Mother sees me," he called back as he started to make his way towards Penelope. It would save her from asking him to do the same thing later.

Dancing with Penelope wasn't a hardship, but it wouldn't do to give him mother ideas about foisting other debutantes at him. He loved his mother dearly, but she was a trifle single-minded when it came to the marital status of her offspring.

He reached Penelope's side and bowed his head. "Miss Featherington."

Penelope started, as though she couldn't believe he was speaking to her. "Mr. Bridgerton," she murmured, sketching a curtsy.

"Would you care to dance?"

A light flared in Penelope's eyes. He pretended not to notice. "Of course."

I wanted to include this because even Colin admits that he always knew, he just didn't want to. Foolish, foolish boy.

He held out a hand. "Shall we, then?"

She nodded, and took his hand. He tucked it into the crook of his elbow and led her to the dance floor.

It was the right thing to do. He didn't realize how much he would enjoy it.

I don't actually remember why I decided to center this around dancing. It probably had something to do with the fact that half of these books take place in a ballroom, as all historical romances do, but the idea was that with each dance, you'd see them get gradually closer. In this one, it's Eloise's idea. In the next one it's Colin's, but it's so that he can avoid his mother making the suggestion, etc. Not a particularly novel concept, I know. But I kind of like it.

two.

"There you are, Colin!" his mother's voice called out from behind him, and he winced. He was certain this meant that the portion of the evening where she asked him to dance with an eligible young lady and pretend to be interested in being married was about to begin.

He turned to face her, winning smile firmly in place. "Hello, Mother." He pressed a dutiful kiss to her cheek. "How are you this, evening?"

Lady Bridgerton wagged a finger at him. "Your smile has no effect on me whatsoever."

He sighed. "I was afraid of that."

"Colin!"

"Mother," he chuckled. "Were you looking for me for some particular reason?"

Her eyes narrowed, but Colin knew his mother wouldn't be able to resist taking the opening he'd left her.

"Actually," she said, a determination in his eyes that Colin recognized. "I was going to --"

"Oh, look," Colin interrupted. "There's Penelope Featherington standing by the refreshments."

Lady Bridgerton blinked and turned to look in that direction. "So she is. Now, as I was --"

"Perhaps I should ask her to dance?" Colin tried to hide his smile, watching for his mother's reaction.

It had the desired effect. His mother's face broke into a wide smile. "Oh Colin, that's a lovely idea. Yes, you should go ask Penelope to dance. She's the sweetest girl, you know."

Colin nodded solemnly. "I worry about the effect Eloise has had on her. I'm sure Eloise is quite unlike anyone else in the Featherington household."

"Colin!"

He laughed and bent his head to kiss his mother's cheek again. "I'll be off then, shall I?"

He didn't wait for a reply, but walked quickly away from his mother, towards Penelope. He was fairly certain that if he turned back, he would see his mother with a satisfied smile on her face. He was even certain she'd convinced herself by now that his asking Penelope to dance had been her idea.

Penelope's alarmingly yellow ballgown came into sharp focus, and he had to blink several times to make sure he was still seeing clearly. Something about Penelope always screamed that she knew that she didn't look quite right, and it never seemed quite fair. He made up his mind that he would make her smile before their dance ended. It seemed the least that he should do.

Poor Penelope. But her crazy clothes are a great deal of fun to write. And she gets the guy, so I'm not going to feel too sorry for her.

"Miss Featherington."

Penelope started, lemonade spilling over the brim of her glass. "Mr. Bridgerton," she stammered. "I didn't see you coming." She nodded her head towards the food. "Were you heading for the refreshment table?"

He grinned. Penelope didn't often tease him back. This was very promising. "No, though that is an excellent notion." He leaned forward. "Would you suggest anything in particular?"

"I'm sure I wouldn't know," Penelope demurred, setting her glass down.

He laughed. "I don't believe you. But I am willing to let it pass on one condition."

Penelope raised an eyebrow. "Yes?"

"I would like the honor of the next dance."

A shy smile emerged on her lips.

He held out a hand. "Is that a yes?"

"Yes," Penelope said firmly, setting her hand in his.

"Good," he said, leading her out onto the dance floor. "You can tell me about the food while we dance."

She laughed, and Colin ignored the shiver that went down his spine.

They danced.

three.

Colin tapped on Penelope's shoulder. The look of surprise on her face as she spun around left him feeling strangely satisfied. He didn't think about why.

"Colin!" she exclaimed. "I mean, Mr. Bridgerton. What a surprise."

"Colin," he corrected. "We have known each other too long."

She smiled, briefly. "I suppose you're right."

There was something sad in her eyes, and he was struck with the sudden need to wipe that sadness away. "I think we should dance."

Now she looked even more surprised. He frowned. That had not been the reaction he was expecting. "Don't you want to?"

"Of course," she said hastily. "Of course."

Hastily is not a word you get to use often enough in fics set in the modern day. Which is sort of a shame, really.

"Good."

He bent his elbow for her to take, and she slipped her arm through his. He led her to take their place among the rest of the dancers and drew her into his arms. She slipped her hand into his, and he looked down, noticing for the first time how small her hand was compared to his. How delicate. How warm.

He curled his fingers around hers and swept her into the dance.

four.

"Everyone is staring."

Colin looked down at his new fiancee as they waltzed around the ballroom. "No they aren't."

"Yes, they are," Penelope insisted, eyes darting from side to side nervously. "I don't think anyone believes that we are actually engaged."

"But we are." That was that as far as Colin was concerned. It didn't bother him that no one seemed to understand what made Penelope so wonderful, but it obviously bothered her. And that bothered him. Penelope deserved more. She always had.

"Colin?" Penelope asked hesitantly. "Is everything all right?"

He shook his head to bring himself back to the present. Back to the beautiful woman in his arms. "Of course."

Her nose crinkled, as if she doubted the truth of what he said. "Are you certain? You looked so --"

He nodded once, sharply. "Very certain." He dipped his head towards her ear and whispered, "I was just wishing that it was two weeks hence and we were alone. Far away from crowds of people and prying eyes and --"

"I-I understand."

This is post-irrevocable compromising, of course. I don't know. Colin just really likes to talk. So I let him.

He laughed. Penelope had grown pinker with each word he said. He wondered how much longer he would be able to make her do that with mere words. "Is everyone still staring?"

"Who?"

He laughed again and tightened his grip on her waist. The dance continued on.

five.

If memory serves, this is the only section I knew what was going to be once I figured out what the fic itself was going to be. It had to go back to Berkeley Square. It just had to.

"Colin, where are you taking me?" Penelope complained, tripping down the steps of the carriage. The tripping wasn't unusual, but the reason for it was earning a few odd looks from people passing them on the street.

He supposed that was fair; the sight of his wife with a strip of cloth over her eyes was peculiar, even by his standards. It was especially strange in the middle of Berkeley Square.

"Patience," he said, leading her to exactly where he wanted her. When they reached the spot, he untied the knot holding the blindfold in place, pulling it away from Penelope's eyes.

She blinked in the bright sunlight, taking in their surroundings. A look of adorable confusion on her face, she crinkled up her nose and said slowly, "Berkeley Square."

He nodded.

She frowned. "I don't understand, Colin. Why did you bring me here? Why all the secrecy? Why --"

He laid a finger over her lips, cutting off the rest of her question. "Do you remember the day that I found you dancing in this very spot? You were on your way to tea at my mother's."

"Yes," she said haltingly, almost tripping over the single word.

"Do you remember what you said when I asked you to dance?"

She nodded and her voice dropped to a mere whisper. "That I didn't want people to think that we were courting."

He nodded and held out a hand. "If I were to ask you to dance now, would you give a different answer?"

Her eyes darted about the street, taking in all the eyes around them. "There are people watching."

He grinned wolfishly. "I know. That's rather the point."

"Colin!"

I like to think that he'll never stop teasing her. I would be really sad if that happened. And yes, I know they're fictional. I don't care.

He laughed, raising an eyebrow at her. "Need I remind you that you promised to obey, wife?"

He didn't wait for her to answer, but swept her into his arms and began to waltz her around the street. Her cheeks were flushed pink and she still wore an indignant expression, but she was biting her lip to keep from laughing, and Colin thought he'd never seen her eyes so lively.

That was why he'd done it. To make her come alive. To show her that she made him come alive. He wasn't sure how he'd lived so long without Penelope in his life, without Penelope in his arms. He'd be forever grateful that she'd been there waiting for him when he finally understood where he was meant to be.

I quite like those sentences.

The first drops of rain were just beginning to fall when Colin drew the dance to a close. Penelope looked up at him, curls slightly disheveled and smile on her face.

"Was this dance worth waiting for?" he asked, voice full of unasked questions.

Her smile got brighter and she squeezed his hand. "Yes."

He bent his head and kissed her in the rain, ignoring time and place and the people scurrying past them trying to escape the wet. Colin didn't care -- he didn't notice. All he could see, all he could feel was his wife in his arms.

The rain continued to fall.

I'm sorry, this was a terrible commentary. I just don't remember all that much about writing it. I feel like I should, I know it was a very rushed thing, that once I started, it came very quickly, but mostly what I remember is the not writing. And it's hard to write a commentary about that. I hope it was some of what you were looking for anyway.

Date: 2011-02-09 02:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lapiccolina.livejournal.com
THIS WAS AWESOME.

Plus, I got to reread it. I squeed throughout.

SIGH.

:)

Date: 2011-02-09 02:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] otherbella.livejournal.com
UM. I was not aware you wrote fic ABOUT one of my favorite book series of all time.

BRB reading and FREAKING out.

Date: 2011-02-09 03:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lapiccolina.livejournal.com
Isn't it awesome?!?

I love her writing!

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