Love Story as Told in Fanfiction Tropes
Magical School AU
“Oh god,” you say after you push through the crowd to stand next to me. “You’re here too. What the hell is going on?”
We are in what looks like a school, even though we have not been in school for years. There are laughing students all wearing an impractical three-piece uniform and carrying wands and staffs and giggling as they walk past. I have Eastern vs Western Exorcisms: A Comparative amongst the stack of books in my arms.
“I think,” I say, trying to find a less ridiculous way to phrase it, but unable to, “we’re in a magical school AU.”
Your eyes crinkle. “Does this mean we have magic powers?”
I think about every magical school fic I have ever read. “Yes, but I assume it’s not allowed in the corridors.”
“Sweet. Let’s try them outside.”
There are a thousand other questions I have, like How, and What is going on, and Why am I here with you but they don’t quite matter now, especially when we end up tossing ice orbs to each other and levitating apples in the sun.
“I didn’t know you knew how to make coffee,” I say stupidly, while standing in front of the counter.
Your eyes are crinkling again. “Well, I know how to pour hot water into coffee powder but this morning I woke with the knowledge to make any possible coffee cocktail. Do you want a latte?”
“I prefer tea,” I say blankly and your hands are already in motion.
“Chai latte? I really want to practice this foam art thing since I now magically know how to do it.”
“Sure,” I say, and you pour the milk into the foam. I watch it bloom into a heart.
“Have you ever thought,” you say slowly into your cup, “that the universe is trying to tell us something?”
We woke and it was night in an unfamiliar apartment, filled with soft rugs and blankets and a sofa and there was nothing in the fridge but milk and bars of chocolate so you made cocoa at two in the morning, melting chunks of chocolate into warmed milk on the stove, and we are drinking them in the moonlight because neither of us can be bothered to get the lights.
“I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about,” I say as I watch your hands wrap around your mug.
The apartment has no more milk or cocoa but there were cartons of cider and beer when we woke. It made sense to drink them.
“Why is this happening?” I ask.
“Maybe we weren’t spending enough time with each other and someone out there decided to give us a push,” you joke and while I laugh, I’m still watching how your face is bright. There are worse people to be stuck with, I think.
“I –” Our hands are close enough that our pinkies are almost touching.
“I’m grateful you’re here in this madness with me,” I finally say. “I can’t think of a better person who’d know as much about fanfic tropes to be stuck with.”
“Same,” you say, and the warmth I feel has nothing to do with the alcohol.
I cough out what feels like my lungs.
Instead of bits of my organs, my palm, when I pull it away from my face, is covered in pink flower petals, wet with blood.
“Oh no,” I say, realisation dawning.
“Is it a sick fic?” you ask, poking around the room, looking for extra clues.
“Probably,” I say, and try to flick the flower petals away.
“So does that mean I have to put you to bed and take care of you? That’d explain the soup on the counter.”
I am laughing, even though it is not funny at all, and then I am coughing again.
“Shit,” you say. “I really hope there isn’t a tragic ending tag.”
There are bits of bark amongst the flower petals and there is no hiding them from you.
“Fuck,” you say, and I blackout.
“You almost died,” you say when I wake up, stabbing the air right next to my nose and I go almost cross-eyed looking at it. “You almost died because you’d prefer to not confess your bloody feelings –”
“What feelings, who has feelings, not me –”
“And you’d rather die than – Hanahaki is the stupidest trope, you’ve ranted about it to me before –”
“Because I’ve never actually had to make the fucking choice between confessing and dying and I froze, okay?”
“I mean just go do it –”
“I can’t –”
“I love you,” you say, and then your face screws up, as if in disgust.
I want to run, but we are still trapped in this apartment and there is nowhere to go and I have to live with the knowledge then that you are disgusted at the fact that you like me.
“Oh,” I say. “Sorry.”
Your face twists again. “Don’t apologise,” you say. “It’s not like – it’s not like I’m ashamed of it or anything. My point is – I’ve confessed. See? Not that hard. Now go do your thing.”
“You idiot,” I say, and reach for your hands.
“What?” you say and stare dumbly at our intertwined fingers.
“We’re both idiots,” I say.
Friends to Lovers
“Well,” I say when we next meet. I woke in my own room, and magic orbs are not forming from my hands by accident and trees are not sprouting out of my lungs. “Have I ever mentioned that my favourite trope is enemies to lovers?”
“If you wanted, I could still get a sword and chase you around with it,” you say, and you have taken my hand and pressed a kiss to it and I am torn between laughing and melting.
“No,” I say. “I don’t think that’d be necessary.”
Natalie Wang is a Singaporean poet who writes about cats, ghosts, and womanhood, and maintains that they are all the same thing. Her debut collection of poetry The Woman Who Turned Into A Vending Machine (Math Paper Press) is a book on womanhood and metamorphosis, and a tribute to the fox spirits and vengeful ghost women she read about as a child.
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