There’s no secret to the quality of today’s story — just a gripping look at the secrets of a mare facing a life-changing decision.
[Drama] [Romance] [Slice of Life] [Tragedy] • 6,110 words
Untold luxury and wealth. A place in high society. A life full of the finer things. All this and more await Fleur, but at what cost?
Now, Fleur must decide: Is love worth nothing, or is it a secret worthy of sacrifice? Can she be the mare she is and the mare she has to be?
A cipher, after all, can be anything — or nothing at all.
FROM THE CURATORS: This story came to us via multiple recommendations in our story suggestion thread — and it was easy to see why. “The writing is gorgeous,” Chris said. “Pleasantly full of detail without falling into overlong rambling, it nicely mirrored the opulence of the setting.” Horizon similarly praised the way the story grounded itself in detail: “All the little motions and mementos bring Fleur to life.”
That writing was in service of a story far afield from the show’s usual fare. “This is a great piece, full of drama and romance and upper-class tragedy,” Present Perfect said. “We get Fleur on the eve of an arranged marriage, barely pulling off the adoring trophy wife routine while desperately trying to hang onto the last vestiges of the life that once made her happy.” We found Grand_Moff_Pony’s treatment of that premise unexpectedly captivating. “Stories about the tribulations of the exceedingly wealthy have never really resonated with me … so it’s doubly impressive that I enjoyed it so much,” Chris said. “She’s faced with a choice where there’s no good answer, but her decision makes her feel more real — more flawed — than having her either bet on love or try to make a ‘noble sacrifice’ would have.”
It wasn’t just Fleur’s characterization that we appreciated. “Even though her lover spends most of the story offscreen, their relationship is vibrant and moving,” Horizon said, and Present Perfect agreed: “She’s characterized well, and she’s got really good chemistry with the OC brought in to be her paramour.” And the setting itself came to life in much the same manner. “What really struck me was the sense of ‘negative space’ in the story, the feeling of emptiness, isolation, and echoing stillness — I don’t think Fleur moves more than a handful of steps throughout the entire piece,” AugieDog said. “It surrounds her and her mementos in a very effective way.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Grand_Moff_Pony discusses cardboard starships, on-screen level-ups, and over 9000 moments.