Fandom: The raven cycle
Riassunto: Adam has never met a homework he can't get an A on. Until their professor tells them to write a poem
Note: Scritta per la M9 della 7° settimana del COWT9 per "ERATO: canto corale e poesia amorosa"
Adam has never been one to shy away from difficult homework assignment, sometimes he has even raveled in the most difficult and particular ones. How is he to succeed in life if he isn’t ready to put in a little more work on top of everything else he knows?
Still, as much as Adam is good at putting an effort, his skillset is various but still not infinite. Adam is good at academics, he puts the hours to study and research, and he finds math fascinating.
The one thing he’s not, is poetic.
So when he sees the professor tell them to write a poem for their next class he sits there and wonders how is this his life.
It really shouldn’t surprise him that in a school such as Angiolby these pretentious asshole would like to believe they’re all Wordsworth, but Adam sighs and looks at his notes.
“It’s all right to use a simple sonnet form, or if some of you want to be a little more adventurous, I guess,” the teacher says, looking at them with a smile, “but remember that poetry is as much rules as freedom.”
Ronan, who is miraculously present, snorts beside Adam and the teacher glares at him immediately, but Ronan simply smiles and doesn’t add anything else.
“I expect you all to hand me your poems for next week. Dismissed.”
Their classmates rise from their seat and walk away quickly, talking between themselves, but Adam stays put, trying to fit this assignment inside the multitude of things he still has to do.
He doesn’t know how much of his time to allot to this homework, and the moment he starts to think about what to write on a poem his mind freezes.
When he looks up, Ronan is looking down at him with a raised eyebrow. “Are you going to move here? It’s better than your apartment. Most places are.”
Adam huffs and stands up, putting away his books. “I was just thinking of this assignment.”
Ronan shrugs and waits for Adam to be ready before he starts walking. “Yeah, well, it’s bullshit. Just don’t do it.”
“You know that’s not a possibility,” Adam replies with a little bit of annoyance. If only he could pass through life like Ronan did. If he could ignore the assignments he didn’t like, and just move forward knowing he had some kind of future at the end of the line… but Adam didn’t, and it was useless for him to ever think about it.
“Then fucking copy a poem from someone, there are so many bullshit amateur poems on the internet,” Ronan says, uncaring, before he smiles, “or you could talk about your tragic past. I’m sure the teacher would love it. Oh woe is me…” Ronan starts to recite, while Adam punches him in the shoulder.
“You’re a dick,” he says, but he’s smiling. He’s not sure when the shift happened, but one moment he found Ronan’s entire existence crass and annoying and the next he was more fond of it than anything else.
Even Ronan’s rude and annoying mockery made Adam laugh now, instead of making him defensive. It was… a change of pace, really.
When they reach Gansey for lunch, Ronan has created an entire poem with rhyming only the word fuck and Adam has forgotten about his own problems for a while.
Of course, avoidance has never worked for Adam, and that night, while he’s working at Boyd and thinking about all his homeworks, he thinks back to this assignment and wonders what, exactly he could write.
The thing is: Ronan’s suggestion isn’t without merit.
Poetry, from what Adam understands, should come from the heart or other stupid cliches like that. It should feel personal, and reveal a deep part of yourself to anyone who is willing to listen.
If he talked about himself, the things he has survived, everything that makes him Adam Parrish, he would probably make a poem that is, at least, decent. Or that would make his teacher appreciate his effort.
But Adam can’t.
Unknowable, unseen. How can Adam hand the key and the map to something he keeps hidden so closely inside himself? He wants the good grade, of course he does, but he’s not sure if he’s willing to give up what makes him who he is.
So, talking about himself is out. What could he talk about, then?
His friends? Only if he wanted Ronan to make fun of him for the rest of his natural and not life.
Love? Adam doesn’t really know what love feels like. What he had with Blue was fleeting, and more a research of comfort and a kindred soul than anything else. He wouldn’t start describing it as love.
Their quest? Magic might be something abstract enough to make his poem sound pretentious enough to pass the teacher’s test. He could call any supernatural element a metaphor for life and move on.
It’s not like he has any other ideas, really.
So, that night, he sits down at his desk and tries to write down something that rhymes. He goes for a Sonnet, because it seems to him like the easiest format. How hard could it be to just rhyme words together in order to create something that looks poetic enough?
Apparently very hard.
Adam scrambles the seventh? Tenth? He has lost count how many poems he has tried writing, only to erase it and start over. None of them feels right, and the ones that do are still a little bit too personal for his likings.
The clock ticks three AM before Adam finally finishes one poem and declares himself to fucking tired to read it again.
Whatever he has written, he thinks, will have to be enough.
The next day, however, he keeps thinking about it.
While he’s in class, at lunch, even while he’s driving his bike to work and then towards Monmouth.
Because the truth is that Adam doesn’t need a passing grade. He needs to excel that class. He needs to get an A and possibly the compliments of the teacher. And he knows that his poem isn’t on that level just like he knows that the rest of his homeworks usually are.
So he parks his bike in front of Monmouth and enters, finding Noah and Blue seated in one of the couches. Ronan and Gansey are nowhere to be seen, and that’s such a rare occasion that Adam needs to take advantage of it immediately.
Blue and Noah are, anyway, the two most creative among the the five of them and so Adam walks towards them and sits down on the sofa as well.
“Hi, Adam!” Blue says, with a smile, “everything okay? The boys have stepped out to buy my Yogurt since Ronan ate the last of it.”
Noah smiles at him as well, waving softly. He looks to be more corporeal today, probably thanks to Blue’s vicinity. He’s sticking even closer to her than usual, and Adam worries a little.
“Hey,” he says, rummaging through his backpack, “look. I need your help with something. My lit professor has asked us to write a poem and I need you to tell me what you think about this.”
He takes the poem out of his backpack and hands it to Blue, feeling the familiar anxiousness about being judged build inside him.
It feels strangely stronger than usual. With math he knows if he’s done his exercises right. And even with a paper, he knows by now what makes it good or not, he uses his citation and his researches and he doesn’t usually fear the scrutiny of others this much.
This is something he knows he’s subpar at, and like every other thing in his life where he doesn’t excel, Adam wants to hide it under the earth until no one can look at it anymore.
He almost doesn’t let the paper go when Blue reaches for it, but forces himself to let the paper go. Noah leans in on Blue, so he can read from her shoulder, and Adam watches as the two read the poem for a couple of minutes.
Adam knows the poem isn’t long enough to require that kind of time, and anxiety starts running in his body like wild electricity. He feels like Ronan, ready to burst and kick someone.
“It’s terrible, isn’t it?” he asks at the end, trying to fight the urge to take that piece of paper and destroy it in front of their eyes.
“I wouldn’t say terrible,” Blue says, but it’s obvious that she’s trying to find the words to be kind and that’s not what Adam wants or needs.
“It’s just… very impersonal,” Noah concludes, looking up towards Adam. “Poetry is supposed to speak to someone’s soul.”
Adam wants to tell them that he can’t just laid himself bare for anyone to see, that it’s not how Adam Parrish works and it will never be, but they knows it better than most and it would just feel petulant.
“But you’ve used all the rules for a sonnet,” Blue picks up, “It’s stylistically perfect.”
“That’s just not what poetry is,” Noah concludes, with a shrug, “but I’m sure the teacher won’t care.”
Blue hands him back his paper and smiles at him, trying to be encouraging, but Adam can feel a terrible monster gnawing at his insides. As always, the part of him that keeps repeating he’s not good enough, he will never leave Henrietta is back at full force, eating him away.
When the other comes back Adam tries to joke like always, but he feels like he’s on the other side of the city, on the other side of the planet. Their voices are muffled and they can’t seem to reach him over the chanting of his mind.
At one point he’s so out of it that he doesn’t even notice Ronan gearing up to hit him on the side of his head, and he blinks, surprised, when Ronan’s palm makes contact with his hair. It’s not as violent as one would have expected from Ronan, but he knows very well that Ronan is surprisingly gentle most of the time. “What are you spacing off for?” Ronan asks, his voice probably supposed to sound annoyed but coming off only as concerned.
Adam shrugs looking around. He’s not sure how much time has passed, or what they did until now. He remembers eating something, probably pizza, and laughing at some jokes, but it’s all rather hazy.
“I don’t know, maybe I’m more tired than I thought,” Adam mumbles, standing up, “I should go home.” He should also rewrite the poem, shouldn’t have wasted an afternoon here, doing nothing. Adam can’t afford to do nothing.
Ronan studies him for a moment before standing up as well and yelling to the others: “I’m taking Parrish home, I don’t want him falling on his bike and dying.”
Adam wants to protest, because he doesn't need Ronan’s help, but arriving home earlier would allow him to work more on his poem and that’s time Adam desperately needs.
So he nods to the other, responds to Blue’s smile, and allows Ronan to take him home.
They don’t talk much on the way, Adam too lost in his own thoughts and Ronan at ease now that he’s driving. He always looks more at ease when he’s behind the wheel and Adam wishes he had something that made him feel the same way.
Ronan parks the car in St. Agnes’ parking lot and gets out with Adam. Normally, Adam lets this happen without really saying anything. It’s not that unusual for Ronan to sleep inside of his apartment.
Adam has never asked for an explanation, he doesn’t want to push Ronan to talk about his demons or the nightmares that plague him at night. One day Adam woke up to the sound of buzzing, and that was all he needed to know.
Tonight, however, Adam doesn’t know how he would start writing the stupid poem if Ronan decides to stay.
So, he turns towards Ronan and tries to find a way to word the fact that he can’t have him stay the night. That, for once, Adam needs the quiet and the loneliness.
He doesn’t need to say anything before Ronan is frowning at him. “Is this still about the stupid poem?” he wonders, annoyance sweeping through his tone.
Adam, unable to do anything but get defensive and hurt, shrugs. “Someone needs to get a good grade.”
He doesn’t add I know you don’t care about it, but some of us have to think about our own future because it’s not Ronan’s fault if Adam sucks at this. He knows, however, that Adam is verging on the cusp of losing control, and that Ronan is always a fuse ready to blow.
“Fucking write the first thing that comes to mind and give it to him,” Ronan growls, exasperated, “what’s your average in that class? A+ and a kiss on the ass? Your grades can survive a B.”
They probably can, is the thing, but Adam isn’t sure he can.
But how can he explain to Ronan, who breezes through school like he does most other aspects in life, how important grades are for Adam’s self esteem? The admission, even to himself, makes him feel as raw as the ten discarded pieces of paper balled up in his room.
“Not all of us think school is a waste of time, Ronan,” Adam snarls, because if there’s one thing they’re good at, is fighting. “Most of us don’t have a plan B, and don’t get handed everything in life. So fuck you.”
Adam knows it’s unfair, knows more than most that Ronan has suffered and still suffers more than most, but he’s a creature that bites when he needs to defend himself and cares little for the consequences until it’s too late.
The hurt he has caused is etched on Ronan’s face, plain as day, and Adam wants to smooth it out but he can’t.
“Then fucking torture yourself, Parrish, see who cares. You could have stayed inside that trailer park of yours if you wanted to kill yourself so badly,” Ronan says, all teeth and rage. He enters inside the BMW before Adam can say anything and he can’t do anything but stare at the other’s car while he drives away.
Good job, Adam.
The stairs to his own apartment feels infinite, and when he finally sits down at his own desk, his head is empty. He stares at the blank paper, but his hand doesn’t move.
Hasn’t he always known that, deep inside, Adam was just empty?
The next day, in class, the professor reminds them of their deadline fast approaching and Adam only wants to die.
Ronan hasn’t looked in his direction even once, but he’s surprisingly still in school. It’s enough of a surprise that Adam couldn’t stop staring at him for the first half of the lesson.
Now, an hour in, he only feels sick.
“I’m looking forward to receiving your submissions,” the professor says, with a smile, “in fact! I already had some wonderful surprised from this exercise.”
It’s a strange thing to say, but even stranger is the way Ronan freezes up in his seat. Adam turns towards him, wondering if he’s okay when the professor continues “In fact I would like to read you something that landed on my desk this morning!”
Before Adam can say anything, Ronan has stood up and he’s looking at their professor with real murderous intentions in his eyes. Adam is actually scared of him for a second, but it seems their professor doesn’t have the same survival instincts as he does.
“Ah, Mister Lynch. Do you want to read it yourself?” he asks, with a smile, “it was such a delightful surprise.”
Before Adam can even understand the fact that apparently Ronan has not only done his homework, but apparently written a poem, Ronan stalks to the teacher’s desk, trying to take the paper away from him.
The professor simply steps back. “I understand you might be shy,” he says, maybe not understanding the danger he’s in right now, “but I do believe it would prove to the others what they should strive forward. I mean, you might have not used any kind of rhythmic rule, but that’s the beauty of poetry, right?”
Ronan only growls, and Adam can’t help but think that it’s a fascinating sight. The professor really looks too relaxed for his own good.
Before Ronan can say anything else, the professor continues: “If you don’t read it, I will.”
Ultimatum never work on Ronan, who only grows more in response but then, surprisingly, takes the offered paper from their teacher and turns towards the rest of the class. He doesn’t look at anyone while he rereads his own poem.
Adam, who knows Ronan more than anyone there, can see the moment he makes the decision. He has that same expression he sometimes gets when he’s doing something he really doesn’t want to do, but thinks it will help someone help.
It’s not a gentle expression, even if the intentions are. It’s as endearing now as every other times Adam sees it.
And so Ronan reads:
"I wish I knew you
as I know you in my dreams
or maybe it's you
that should know the person in my dreams.
and you would know your hands
as soft as they are against me
and you would know me
as peaceful as I am under your hands
or maybe you would hate it
just as you hate yourself
or maybe you would love it
as much as you don't yourself"
It’s strangely a really nice poem, but Adam’s heart stops beating for entirely different reasons. Here Adam was, worrying about not laying himself bare for anyone to see, and Ronan just opened himself up so thoughtfully it’s like Adam can see his soul.
Ronan doesn't look up, doesn’t meet Adam’s eyes, but he doesn’t need to.
It’s not like Adam was oblivious about Ronan’s stares, but it’s different when one gets confessed in the middle of class, he thinks.
Before anyone can say anything Ronan walks quickly away from the classroom and Adam is too petrified to follow.
By the time Adam finally processes everything enough to get up, gather his own stuff and Ronan’s, and follow him outside, the BMW isn’t in the parking lot.
He needs to reach Ronan, even if he’s not sure what to tell him, but he can’t do the trek with both his bag and Ronan’s and so he goes to find Gansey.
Adam finds him in the garden, scribbling something down on a notebook.
“Oh, Adam! What are you doing with Ronan’s stuff?” Gansey asks him, smiling. Adam should just drop Ronan’s bag and walk away, but he’s still a little shell shocked.
“I think Ronan just confessed to me in class,” he says, and then he blinks. Saying it out loud feels even more surreal.
Gansey looks as shocked as Adam feels, and that makes him feel a little better. He sits down in front of his friend and tries to think about whatever he’s going to do. Talk to Ronan, certainly, but that’s as far as he’s gotten.
“Okay,” Gansey says after a few seconds, “and how do you feel?”
Oh. Right. He also has that to figure out.
He looks up at Gansey and blinks twice. “What if I don’t know?”
Adam has never been the one to be in tune with his own emotion. Most of his life consists in repressing everything that it becomes almost ingrained in him. Does he like Ronan? Yes. Does he like him more than the rest of the gang? Well, he certainly spends more time alone with him than anyone else.
When he feels down, or when he feels too antsy, Ronan’s company is the only one he can tolerate. Ronan is the first one he usually wants to tell stuff to, and he’s the only one that knows how to comfort Adam when he gets in over his head.
Even when they fight, it’s only because they know each other too well and know exactly where to push to inflict the maximum damage with as little effort as possible.
But any of that could also be things he finds for a friend. Would he be able to kiss Ronan? Sleep with Ronan? Love Ronan?
Adam looks down at Ronan’s bag, in his lap, and tries to imagine it. He has kissed a couple of girls, but nothing particularly incredible.
He thinks Ronan would kiss like he does everything else in life: with abandon, like his life depends on it, like he wants to disappear into it and never resurface.
Adam wants to feel it.
“I think I do?” he says, surprising himself more than Gansey, it seems.
Gansey fidgets for a second and then, with his most diplomatic voice, says “I don’t want to be unkind and this is not my area of expertise, but you’re both my friend and I… I feel like I have to say it. Ronan deserves more than I think I do.”
Even with Gansey’s kind tone, they’re harsh words, but they’re right. And so Adam nods. He holds up Ronan’s bag to Gansey and asks him to give it back to Ronan and walks away.
Adam wanders aimlessly for a while, trying to think about what to do. He doesn’t know where he’s going until his feet take him exactly where he wanted to go.
At this point in his life Adam knows very well how strangely magic works and he stops in front of 300 Fox Way feeling a sense of contentment.
He needs to read his cards, he thinks, but he can’t do it on his own, it wouldn’t be right. There’s no actual reason why he thinks that, but he knows that magic works on feeling more than reason. It’s like someone wanted him to be here, to have someone at 300 Fox Way - Calla? No. Maura? No. Blue? Maybe. Probably - read his future.
So he goes to the door and knocks two times and waits for someone to answer. When Blue opens the door he’s not even surprised.
“Adam? What are you doing here?” she asks him, looking at him a little confused. “Did I forget we were supposed to meet?”
He shakes his head at her and straightens his backpack. “I need you to do a reading for me,” he tells her standing outside of the door. She seems surprised at first, but he imagines this might not be the first time someone asks her to do something out of the blue.
Living with the family she has must have gotten her used to it because she simply nods and welcomes him to step inside.
She guides him to the room where they had their first reading with the witches and takes out a tarot deck from a drawer. No. Adam stops her, shaking his head, and takes his own deck from his backpack, handing it to her.
Blue accepts it without commenting and sits down. While she’s shuffling the deck Maura comes in with two teas and put them in front of them. She doesn’t seem too surprised to see Adam, smiling in his direction and then walking out of the room.
“Do I have to ask a specific question?” she asks him, because she knows very well how this goes, and then she hands the deck to Adam for shuffling.
He does so, thinking about her question. No, he doesn’t think so. This is not a question Blue has to ask, it’s something Adam has to think about, but he needs Blue to take out the answer for him.
“No, just do a three card spread,” he instructs her, handing the deck back to her.
She nods and then reveals the first card. They’re not really surprised to see that it’s the Magician, Adam’s signature card. It’s how all readings about him should start, he thinks, and something inside him settles down.
Blue nods and then looks at Adam, curiously. “Do you need me to interpret them as well?”
“No, just continue,” he tells her, settling in.
She shrugs and then passes her hand over the deck, before picking another card. This time, when she turns it, they can both see the Wheel of Fortune. Destiny and Fate, a decision to be made. Something inevitable that he can’t avoid.
Adam already knew this was a turning point, but having the card confirm it makes him see it with more clarity. It’s startling how easier everything feels when he’s looking at the cards and not inside himself.
Blue is looking curiously both at the cards and at Adam. There’s apprehension in her eyes, and Adam can’t really blame her with everything that has happened to them, but he tries to settle her worry with a reassuring smile.
“I expect an explanation after all of this,” she mumbles before she pulls the third and last card. The Sun, shining upon them, smiling. Happyness, then.
Adam’s decision is blessed by the cards, at least and while that doesn’t mean it’s the right one, it’s also a step in the right direction.
“If I were to pull another card,” Blue asks him, eyeing the deck, “would that be too much?”
Adam looks at her and then back at the deck. While three is the best number, both for balance and to reach a better interpretation, he can see that the deck is still warm.
He also knows what card will be drawn so he stands up and reaches with his own hand. He turns the Lovers with a sarcastic smile.
Blue blinks at it, before she turns towards Adam with a surprised stare. “What did I miss?”
Adam shrugs and then, in the most deadpan voice he can muster, he says “Apparently I’m very gay for Ronan.”
Blue doesn’t lose her composure and she simply looks attentively at him. “Is Ronan very gay for you?”
Adam doesn’t know what to tell her. The little gestures that Ronan has done just for him, the stares that are now impossible to ignore. The cream beside Adam’s bed.
So he smiles at her and he knows it will be answer enough. “I will need your help with this poetry assignment,” it’s what he says instead, and she laughs.
When he arrives at Monmouth he sees Ronan’s BMW parked outside. Gansey’s Camaro is still nowhere to be seen even if it’s almost evening. Adam is curious about his whereabouts, but he has something more important to do.
He doesn’t knock, finding the door open and waltz inside like he has done so many times before. His steps are sure, even if he feels anything but.
Noah is hovering on the couch, and he’s pouting. “Are you here to fix it? I’m bored and Ronan doesn’t want to play.”
Adam thinks about it for a moment and then he nods in Noah’s direction. “I know for a fact that Blue is doing nothing right now, if you want to go.”
His friends eyes shine with mischief for a second before he disappears, hopefully trying to reach Blue’s house. He always feels better with Blue anyway.
Now that they’re completely alone, Adam feels some of his composure slip. Whatever the card told him, it was just for him. Ronan might have bared his feelings for him in school, but that doesn’t mean he’s really ready for it to be reciprocated.
Adam knows very well that sometimes imagining something was very different than actually getting it. Ronan might not actually want everything that Adam is, but only yearn for the Adam that lived in his head. Or maybe in his dreams.
Still, he’s not come this far only to give up.
He enters Ronan’s room without knocking and the first thing he sees is Chainsaw flying towards him. It’s such a normal occurrence that he doesn’t even move out of the way and allows her to perch on his shoulder.
Adam pets her for a second and then looks towards the owner of the room. Ronan is looking at him like he doesn’t know what to do with himself. It’s obvious that he didn’t expect Adam to show up so quickly and it makes something in Adam’s stomach tie up in knots.
Ronan doesn’t look happy to see him, and that makes him waver for a second. This might be a mistake.
“You run out pretty fast,” he says, trying to gauge Ronan’s mood. The other doesn’t smile, doesn’t try to deflect. He keeps staring down at Adam.
“Can we just do this?” Ronan says in the end. He brings his knees to his chest, as if those could protect him. “You’re not that stupid, Parrish.”
He’s not. In fact Adam is pretty smart but, most of all, he might be shit at poetry, but he’s pretty fluent in Ronan’s speech. It’s a language he has observed and studied a lot in their friendship and so he takes a step forward.
“I’ve written a poem as well,” he says, as serious as he can be. Ronan seems taken aback by his exclamation and he hesitates, looking at him. He’s wary, that much is obvious, but Adam continues before he can say anything. “Can I read it to you?”
Ronan glares at him, muttering something that sounds like: “I’m going to kill you after this, Parrish.”
And so Adam gathers his courage and says, in the most serious voice he has:
“Roses are read,
violets are blue,
I think I really like you,
do you like me too?”
He sees the moment Ronan freezes, the little spasm in his hand when Adam says I like you. The flicker of confusion, hope, shock in his eyes.
Adam might speak Ronan’s language, but he feels like he’s seeing a completely different variation, one he doesn’t have the dictionary to decipher.
No one speaks for a couple of seconds before Ronan stands up and walks towards him. Adam stands his ground, even if it looks like Ronan might be more pissed than wooed.
“I swear to God, Parrish, if this is a prank I’m going to beat your face,” he says, but then immediately contradicts himself by holding Adam’s face so tenderly in his hands. It’s like he’s afraid to press too much.
No one has ever touched Adam so reverently, he thinks, hysterically.
Still, it looks like Ronan didn’t have anything else planned beside taking Adam’s face in his hands, and so Adam pushes forward and kisses him. At first it’s just their lips touching, but the moment Ronan gasps Adam licks his way into his mouth.
Ronan freezes immediately and Adam wonders if he pushed too far too fast when the other sinks into the kiss. He moves one of his hands on Adam’s neck and it’s like he’s trying to push Adam even more flush against his body, like he’s trying to make them fuse.
He allows him to do anything he wants, and circles his shoulders with both arms. Sinking into the feeling.
“You,” Ronan says a couple of seconds later, his breathe coming in hurried puffs, “are really fucking shitty at poetry.”
Adam laughs, shrugging. “I don’t know, it seems to me I’m good enough that I managed to get a kiss.”
Ronan, who really can’t disagree, kisses him again.