Title: june
Author: keelhaul lizzie
Pairings: None; Lea, Mularia, Lourd.
Rating: PG-13
Genres: Drama/Horror
Summary: Meat-eating orchids.
Wordcount: 1721
Warnings: theoretical character background (in Wonderland, in case that wasn't obvious), character death, violence. Mularia (Marluxia) is a chinaberry tree, Lea (Axel) is a firefly, and Lourd (Luxord) is a ten of diamonds.
Date: April 29, 2007; finished on June 2, 2007.

notes: I have an unhealthy obsession with Nobody backstory fic.
That is all.

----

the queen of hearts
she made some tarts
all on a summer's day.

When Lourd finds a little plush-lined cookie box on a little glass table, he knows he is safe. He can still hear the Queen's men (all the Queen's horses and all the Queen's men) shouting behind him, but for now he has lost them amid the flora of the Tulgey Wood, gnarled young grape vines and tangles of morning glories.

Carefully he pulls back the lid of heavy acajou and oil in the likeness of flowers, and upon the sea of red (red like a heart—now where was it that he heard those legends of boxes and Queens and pig's hearts?) are floating bits of shortbread made into dough flowers and flour stars; little red sugar hearts.

"Take me", they say sweetly, and the pink icing of the sugar roses gleams indecently like the blushing on a maid's thighs; the blue of the tiny lotuses like the bruises thereafter.

"Take me indeed," Lourd says, and plucks a purple-frosted shootingstar from its resting place, its wooden mausoleum of pressed flowers and dead stars, of the hearts of slaughtered pigs.

He had never much cared for hearts anyway—dangerous business. He cannot help but notice that there are no bits of shortbread spades, no cookies like clubs. Certainly no diamonds.

He swallows the entire dry thing in one bite—without any tea or cream, he laments, and as quickly as he ate the thing his papery body, thin as a tea wafer, thin as shortbread, begins to shrink.

He invites the other fifty one bastards to find him now.

The glass table now seems a shining citadel, a glass tower to lock away a princess, the wooden box an ungainly turret meant to keep her heart in. The nearby pond is now a vast stretch of green, and it no longer seems quaint and still; it is its own microcosm of reeds and primordial creatures as long as his arm. The entire world now seems a metropolis of leaves and roots and pistils—

and of flowers with long and handsome faces.

Being the proper gentleman that he is, naturally he bows to the nearest one.

"I trust the sweets were to your liking," says a nearby voice, and the tree in front of him raises its cobweb-lashes to look Lourd in the eye. He sits inside a fairy ring, little death caps in a halo; destroying angels. He is fragrant and showy and pink, petals like angel down on his sun-browned summer skin and a crown of pellucid white berries—a halo.

All of him is ripe for the taking.

"A bit mealy, truth be told," Lourd says as he sits himself down on a mushroom; silky white angel poison. "Whoever put that box there should perhaps consider a jam filling—and earl gray would be lovely."

"I shall keep that in mind," the chinaberry tree says pleasantly, "though I cannot imagine my brothers would enjoy being brewed."

"Fair enough. Perish the thought, then. Jam would be fine."

"What is your name?"

"What is your name?"

The chinaberry tree smiles, and his teeth are like perfect rows of berries, of juicy white fruit. "Mularia. This is my garden."

"I am Lourd, ten of diamonds."

"So I see... so close to a Jack you are, Lourd. Shame." He pauses, and lowers his dewy lashes once more. "What brings you here? It has been so long since I have looked a card in the eye."

"Rather complicated story, actually." Lourd puts his feet up on a nearby death cap, and thinks that perhaps it winces beneath his feet. "I was playing games with the Queen of Hearts—bridge, euchre, and of course her favourite, hearts—but my nature got the better of me, and I won every game. Needless to say, in moments every card in the deck was after my head. I made the assumption they'd not think to look for me here, and it seems to be a correct one."

"Indeed. You are safe in my garden." One of his petals falls to forest floor; exotic and ephemeral little poppinjay, Lourd thinks. "I take it you are a gambling man?"

"Every man is a gambling man."

"True enough. What say we make a wager?"

"What for?"

"Freedom."

"Freedom? Begging your pardon, but I think now I'm free as I'll ever be."

"Free from the clutches of Her Majesty, perhaps, but not," Mularia lowers his eyelashes, "from me."

He smiles, his summer-mahogany skin tightens around his face, and Lourd understands.

"You are still under rule of the Queen," he says. "All ways are the Queen's way."

"Are they?" His smile is organic poison. "Let's play a game, shall we?"

"What would you have of me if I lost?"

"Your heart."

Dangerous business, hearts.

"I'm afraid I swore off giving away my heart long ago. Hearts are not my strong suit—forgive the pun—diamond that I am."

"Then you shall live under my rule, and I'm afraid I am far less charitable than Her Highness."

The faces of the other flowers, all the bluebells and morning glories and shootingstars, are turned away, and Lourd cannot see their expressions to know if this is true; it is like playing poker with Her Majesty once more.

Lourd inclines his head. "Very well."

At that moment a firefly alights on a nearby death cap, and it blackens and curls under the wreath of flame that is his hair. His eyes are almost phosphorescent, almost bioluminescent, attractive and chemical-bright.

"Personally," he says, "I think you ought to play hearts."

"I wouldn't have expected something so obvious from you, Lea," Mularia says. His insincerity makes Lourd's paper insides twist.

"He beat the Queen at hearts, didn't he? Sounds like he's pretty good at it."

"And how did you know that?" Lourd says.

Lea turns his long face towards him, and the tattoos under his eyes are unsettlingly like spades. "A little birdie told me."

"Useful things, aren't they?"

Lea just grins.

----

Lourd fans his cards in front of him (his thin, velvety pink cards, made of petals like the printed silks of the Orient) and his smile is insolent.

Lea's is indulgent.

As per Lourd's nature, he has won again—despite being a diamond.

"Now then, my good man," Lourd says to the chinaberry tree, as if he were making pleasant and inoffensive small talk to a houseguest, "how shall we go about obtaining freedom for me?"

"My berries," Mularia says, and his petals tremble, almost indiscernably so. Another falls to the forest floor—Lourd thinks vaguely of a story about wilting roses and bell jars; he's getting tired of fairy tales. "Eat one and you'll grow bigger—big enough to be rid of me and my court, small enough to escape Her Majesty's notice, I should hope."

"Might I be able to get a biscuit with that? Tea, perhaps?"

"Earl grey?"

"You tell me. What would you say goes best with your berries?"

Lea says, "Darjeeling."

"You'll have your tea and biscuits later," Mularia says, and extends a cadaverous little branch in Lourd's direction, ripe with fat, pale berries. They glitter like rows on rows of poison-slick teeth; angel poison.

Lourd plucks one from a branch and gives it a cursory examination; seeing no malignant growths, no worms or little bugs, he eats it. It is bitter, and the flesh is filled with seeds.

"Darjeeling, you say?" he says thoughtfully. "I'll remember that."

His body begins to change.

"Speaking of remembering," Lea says, his eyes the embers amongst his skin of ash, his hair of flame, "you forgot to tell him that your berries are poisonous, didn't you?"

"Oh," Mularia says. "So I did."

Lourd begins to claw at his stomach; saliva drips in long strings from his mouth, froth and blood. His body twists and shivers and he waits to die, tearing at the grass, trying to curse—

shadows begin to scuttle out of the darkness, like twitching insects with eyes full of chemicals and fire—

they remind him of Lea.

One tears at his stomach, and all he can see is a cadaverous little arm before he is split open like some kind of juicy red fruit—a pomagranate, each organ a wet and pulsing seed. All Lea can think is how surprising it is that a playing card is filled with blood and viscera like anything else. His body falls to the floor—ephemeral little poppinjay, Mularia thinks. Beside the ruin of his body stands a new creature; its eyes gleam bright with poison.

"Silly you," Lea says, and twitches his wings. "So forgetful."

"Feed his body to my pets, won't you?" Mularia retracts his branch at last, and carefully smoothes his pretty petals right-wise. "They are so hungry."

Lea picks up the tiny and twisted little corpse, still dripping red-organ-seeds, and before it begins to crackle and burn he drops it beside a nearby sundew; its sticky tendrils wrap around it, like a child's hand around a squashed and pulpy fruit.

"You just hate to play fair, don't you?" Lea alights on the blackened stump of a mushroom once more.

"I was playing fair. He is free of me now, is he not?"

"Semantics, man."

"Indeed."

"Of course, I find playing fair highly overrated." Lea edges closer, wings still.

Mularia narrows his eyes. "...Do you now?"

"Oh yeah. I mean, say I never liked you in the first place. Say I was tired of ferrying your pets candy and sweet-talking your playthings. Say I set you on fire right now—that wouldn't be very fair, now would it?"

Lea grins, and his insincerity makes Mularia's wooden insides twist.

"You son-of-a—"

Then Lea is in the air and Mularia tries to swat him away, tries to shake him off and in a flurry of petals and pretty berries and bright waxen leaves he is ablaze as Lea alights on the tip of a branch. Lea watches as his wide and showy body turns to smoke and ash and embers—watches as the shadows crawl out of the darkness once more to feed.

They consume him, and Lea can swear the one that feasts on his heart is thin and papery, his eyes diamond-bright.

He smiles indolently as a new creature emerges from the ashes, as it were.

Ephemeral little poppinjay, he thinks.