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Historical Fiction LGBTQ+ Fantasy

There’s something wonderfully entrancing about watching a roaring fire.

An amber inferno engulfs the crumbling timber, sending ashy plumes spiraling towards a star studded sky. It’s a blazing lily, blooming petals of flame. It’s a beacon, burning bright in the night, bringing hope and change.

It’s a wondrous sight to behold. She’s never been able to see the beauty in fires before, caged in hearths well-tended and tame. But here, with this unleashed hell of her own creation, she finds herself awestruck, pupils dancing as they follow the fiery peaks, and the stinging tears that well in her eyes are only partly due to the smoke.

The house burns to ashes before her, and she smiles.


Corin of Axton dies on a warm summer’s night that at once becomes significantly warmer.

Come morning, the locals will follow the trail of fluttering ash in the breeze, and find the smouldering remains of a little house at the edge of the village, and tut and shake their heads.

"What a shame," they'll say to each other, mournful. "What a senseless waste, what tragedy."

"Only a matter of time," they'd mutter through the corners of their closed mouths. "Inevitable, really, what with… well." With raised brows and rolling eyes: "You know."

"How terribly, terribly sad," they'll agree, as they work their way through the wreckage, tentatively picking their way through charred belongings and fallen timber, all of them secretly scavenging, under the guise of intrigue, or courtly concern.

She only hopes that no one thinks to look too closely at the body.

Corin of Axton is dead.

Long live Corin.


She reaches Leaport a little after noon, after walking through fields and forest half the night and day. Her knapsack feels as though it has grown paradoxically heavier, although she knows she’s carrying less weight than she had starting out: she drained her waterskin hours ago, and her mouth is bone dry. 

Her feet ache, and each step is more of a trudge, and her pack weighs her down, but as the hustle and bustle of a market town fills her ears, she relaxes, some invisible burden lifted from her broad shoulders. 

She’s made it. She’s here.

She almost collapses where she stands, from sheer relief. Somehow she pushes on, legs trembling, fingers hot and fat with blood, hanging heavy at her side.

Her muffled footsteps start to ring out, hard soles clattering against cobblestone as she reaches the central street that cleaves Leaport in two.

She is Corin, no longer of Axton, and she is on the road to the rest of her life.


She has walked nearly thirty miles to arrive here, on little sleep and a knapsack full of heavy knick-knacks that she hopes will have some value in volume, if not individually.

Even so, she arrives earlier than she anticipated and, with her friend Josephine nowhere to be found, she amuses herself by taking turns about the market.

Her hair hangs loose and uncovered, brushing just past her ears but not quite long enough to braid. A little girl skips towards her, basket dangling half-empty from her hand. She reaches in and offers her a dying flower - wilted stem and delicate blue petals. 

Corin takes the flower with a small smile, and holds it, gently. Her smile grows as the girl laughs, realising she doesn’t quite know what to make of her gift, and beckons at her to lean down.

She obeys, and the girl laughs again, and takes back the flower to tuck it behind her ear. Corin has to bring her hand up to catch it almost immediately, the stem refusing to stay in place, and the two grin at each other, conspiratorial even though she is sure neither of them have any active scheme.

At least, not a scheme they worked on together.

The girl scurries a few steps away, all of a sudden, and calls to someone further along the street, though she can’t make out who. After a few moments, a young man approaches them, colourful cloth bands dangling over his arm.

He stops beside the girl, who tugs at the bottom of his tunic and points at Corin excitedly. Her finger jabs violently in different directions, and Corin isn’t quite sure what she’s trying to convey but her friend seems to take some sort of meaning from it, because he nods seriously before turning towards Corin.

Brother, she revises, now that they’re both facing her. They have the same straw-yellow hair and almond eyes, and his face is as warm and open as hers when he opens his mouth to speak.

He raises a hand in greeting, and she returns the wave.“Good morrow,” he says, and her response is reflexive, before she can think better of herself.

“I think the morrow is long gone, sir.” 

Her voice is gruffer than she would like, but he only glances skyward, eyes twinkling bright even when he looks away from the sun back to her. “I think you will find I am far from a sir, my lady. But, very well, let me redeem myself. Then, good day, to you, Miss.”

“Hail, sirrah, and well met.”

At that he laughs aloud. “Hail indeed. Might I ask from where you hail.”

Corin winces despite herself. “Somewhere… not from Leaport.”

He accepts her answer with grace. “Forgive me, and apologies if I am too forward. I only ask to assure myself that I have not passed such beauty as yours before and been so disgraceful as to forget the occasion.” She blushes even as every inch of her body tenses, and he continues. “Might I have the honour of your name?”

“Corin,” she replies. “And yours?”

“Isaac. And this,” he adds, gesturing to the girl, “is my sister Eve.”

Eve, growing tired of the conversation that does not involve her, takes a pretty yellow strip of fabric from Isaac, and beckons at Corin once more.

Once again, she dutifully leans down, and Eve ties the band around her head. It keeps the hair from falling in her eyes, and tucks the flower snugly between the fabric and her skull. She claps twice, and then skips away.

Isaac appraises her, as she straightens. They are almost of level height with each other, and she notices his eye catch on all her angles and edges, her wide shoulders and square, boxy waist, the lace-up ties of her bodice that sit flat and flush against her chest. Her dress doesn’t quite reach the floor, despite her best attempts at alteration, and the hemline is bumpy and uneven.

She notices him notice all that she is, and feels as though she is vibrating beneath her skin, ready to take flight. But he simply nods at her and smiles.

“The colour suits you.”

The tension drains out of her. “Thank you.” She moves to untie the band. “But I’m sorry, I’m afraid I don’t have the money to-”

He halts her with a raised hand. “For you, I will take for payment nothing, but the possibility that you might come visit my stall at the next market?”

Her hand stills, and she breathes, deeply. 

She’s really here. She’s made it.

“It would be my pleasure.”


She had been packed for months.

Two of her mother’s largest dresses, lengthened to the best of her ability, and clumsily brought in at the bosom. A small purse full of bronze coins. Any artifact of her parents she could find that gleamed gold, be it true or fool’s.

She had planned her escape for just as long: the fire, the route to Leaport, the reunion with Jospehine, who had absconded from Axton just two years before her.

What she had not planned for, was her uncle stumbling in long after dark, to find her before the tender fire, in her long tunic dress and outer bodice, hair loose and her mother’s wedding chain, long and sparkling and sparsely pearled. dangling about her neck. 

He stumbled towards her, fist reaching out, like he had so many times before. He tripped as she backed up, and his fingers caught in the necklace, snapping it as his whole weight fell forwards.

When he stood up, the chain was clutched in his hand, and as if emulating the necklace, something in him seemed to snap. 

“Fine,” he said, and then louder, yelling. “Fine!”

He stalked towards her, frothing at the mouth. “You like being a woman so damn much, fine. Then I’ll goddamn treat you like one.”

Her back hit the wall by her knapsack, and she slid down it towards the floor as he loomed over her. He reached for her throat, and she reached blindly for the candlestick she knew she had secreted into the bag all those months ago.

One swing stunned him enough for her to push him back and stand up. He was still off centre with drink, and another strong hit sent him to the floor. 

She rolled him over and knelt beside him, raising her arm up high.

The third hit caved in his face.

She left his body by her table, and began stacking kindling beneath it. They were not of a similar height nor stature, herself being a little taller and quite a bit slimmer, but she hoped the fire and rigor mortis would somewhat shroud those differences. His face was brutalised beyond recognition, which she hoped would be put down to the fire as well. They were both likewise, endowed. 

She left the necklace on the floor with the body, and the candlestick on the table, blood hastily washed off, to sell the scene.

And that is how he, Corin of Axton, the village eccentric and recluse, known of by all and to by none, died.


Josephine finds her after her troupe finishes their matinee performance in the square.

They hug for a long few minutes, and she buries her face in her hair, vowing that one day her own will be just as luscious and long.

They break away reluctantly, and Josephine doesn’t not release her sleeve even as they pull away.

An unexpected bonus of finally being openly herself, Corin thinks, is that she can be affectionate with her dearest friend without it being deemed inappropriate.

Josephine beams up at her.

“You’re here!”

And Corin grins back, heart light.

I am, she thinks. I made it.

August 14, 2021 03:47

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1 comment

Keya J.
11:09 Aug 14, 2021

It's a very interesting story! The start only hooked me up and I couldn't stop reading. Great Job!


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