Category: AiA drabbles and one-shots

A Song for the Solstice

[Author’s note: This takes place pretty much exactly a year before the start of Blood on the Snow]

There were plenty of things Sabbat could’ve been doing with his solstice. 

Drinking, for one, since that was part and parcel of the way Sacaan celebrated the longest night, and booze was a damn sight cheaper than the kind of slap-up meal the toffs’d likely be sitting down to (though most of the places he could get halfway decent liquor would also serve him a decent enough meal to go along with it). Taking advantage of the fact that half the rest of the city would be getting drunk to lighten a few purses, for another – plenty of rich idiots who fancied touristing down in the slums, and fully half of them so plastered even the most cack-handed pickpocket’d be able to lighten them of everything they were carrying and then some. Hells, if he was feeling particularly inclined to violence, he could always roll one of the silver-spoon swaggerers who thought coming down Steepside every festival and kicking in a few beggars made them proper street thugs – though, unless there was a whole pack of them on the prowl, an honest barfight’d scratch that itch significantly better and with less chance for the Watch to get involved. 

Point was, there were any number of things he could’ve chosen to do with his evening. Which was, of course, why he was currently hanging one-handed off a gutter four storeys above the ground in one of the richest districts in the city, trying desperately to get a toe-hold on the icy stonework and swearing a mental blue streak at the owners of the house, the concept of solstice presents, and whatever bastard had decided that what the world really needed in the way of instruments was a godsdamn wooden fife with delusions of grandeur. 

He hadn’t had to steal the flute, of course. But Archer’d mentioned that he wanted one, back in a conversation during the heatwave, when there’d been nothing to do but talk, and apparently nobody in the city made anything near as good as the ones you could get back in Efir. And since he couldn’t go to Efir, and he’d be damned if he’d get Archer some shonky splintered piece of shit from one of the pawnshops down the way, the only logical course of action had been to work out who in the city had a flute which’d match the specifications that they’d not immediately miss, and then go and take it. 


Sealed in Blood and Saltwater

[Because it’s National Coming Out Day today, apparently (not sure whose ‘national’ we’re talking here, but it serves well enough as a prompt), and I realised that I’d not actually written the point at which Archer found out that Sabbat was trans. Or, more specifically, the point that Sabbat realised that Archer knew and confronted him about it.
This takes place a good few years before the start of
Blood on the Snow, back when the two of them were crewmates on board a pirate/privateer ship (depending on whose definition you were going by at the time)
For additional context, the worldbuilding post about transitioning in Sacaan]

“So,” Sabbat said, once the silence had dragged on long enough to be suffocating. “Y’saw it, then.”

It wasn’t a question, and Archer was smart enough not to take it as one – he nodded, once, but said nothing.



Fucking spit it out and have done with it, why don’t you? “We goin’ t’have a problem?”

Archer blinked – or, at least, closed his eye for a second. “I beg your pardon?”

“I said, we goin’ t’have a problem?” His fingers itched – with an effort of will, he kept his hand away from the razor and flat on the table in front of him. Ain’t drawing steel on him. Not yet.

“Yes, I heard you. And no, I don’t believe we are – at least, unless you’re planning on killing me for it.”


Home for the holidays

“You’ll be fine. Stop fidgeting.”

“Easy for you to say,” Seb groused, twisting the end of his braid around his fingers. He leant his head against the window, glaring at nothing in particular. “Nobody’s likely to tell you you’re too city.”

Viola rolled her eyes, barely resisting the urge to kick her twin (gently) in the shins. “It’s not like you suddenly turned into a bloody furless, Seb. You’re as much a part of the clan as anyone. We both are.”

“Even though we were born in Sacaan proper?” He pulled a face. “You know what they say about-”

“I do. And if they try anything, I’ll break their sodding noses.” She grimaced. Seb was supposed to be the solid rock – the anchor to her storm, the unchanging point at the centre of the compass – and yet, every year, when it came to the journey back to the Spring Fair, she found herself suddenly thrown into the role of older sibling and hating every second of it. “You don’t have to justify yourself to anyone, Seb. Least of all a gang of wet-behind-the-ears puppies who wouldn’t know a good idea if it jumped up and bit them in the face.”


Chasing moonlight, catching the tide

[Author’s note: While this story is about a trans male character (it’s a chunk of Sabbat’s backstory), it uses she/her pronouns and the character’s previous name for the majority of it, because that’s how he was thinking of himself at the time.
I am a transmasc person who conceptualised myself as ‘girl’, ‘she’ and my previous name while working myself out, and that part of this story is based on personal experience – if it’s not going to play well with your brain, that’s very fair and you’re very much allowed not to read.
Content warnings: misgendering, discussed child abuse (beating, locking in room, forcing a trans kid to wear the wrong gendered clothing)]

Running away was, it turned out, surprisingly easy (not running away from home. Wasn’t home, never had been). 

Took planning, of course. Then again, when’d anything worth doing ever not?

Planning, and luck. 


Barfights and Bloodstains

“Does it help?” 

Sabbat hissed, tightening his grip on the arms of the chair as Archer pressed the damp cloth carefully against the worst of the grazes decorating his ribcage. “Does what fuckin’ help, Archer?”

“This.” The vampire made an irritated gesture with his free hand, taking in the bowl of bloody water, the pile of bandages, and pretty much Sabbat’s entire everything. “Bar brawls? It’s not as though you need the practice.”

“That ain’t the point.”

“Of course it’s not.” He sighed. “I don’t suppose you’d consider switching to boxing.”


“I assume that’s a no.”

The assassin sneered. “The hells d’you think? Next thing you’ll be wantin’ me t’take up fuckin’ fencin’.”

“As amusing as that mental image is, I’ve very little interest in getting stabbed. Again.”

To his credit, Sabbat actually looked somewhat embarrassed at the reminder. “I was seventeen, Archer. An’ it was your bloody idea, anyhow.”

Which was true. And, if he was entirely honest, attempting a fencing lesson on the deck of a ship in full sail hadn’t been the best of plans even before he’d realised his student was a habitual knife-fighter who’d never held a sword before in his life. 

“Fair. Though-”


“Bare-knuckle fights aren’t exactly gentlemanly. And you’ve the skills for it, if you chose to put the time in.”

Sabbat rolled his eyes, yanking the cloth from Archer’s hands and wiping away a trickle of blood from the gash across his forehead. “First off, y’know what happens to fighters who get hit in the head once too often? Fuck that. Second, I ain’t got the time t’waste on it. An’ third…”


He grinned, teeth red-stained. “If I’m fightin’ in a bar brawl, I don’t have t’care what happens to anyone who gets in my fuckin’ way.”

Copyright © 2020 by Finn McLellan.  All rights reserved.

An out-of-context Sabbat & Archer drabble to see in the new year

(Author’s note: Getting this down to 100 words exactly was a damn sight more difficult than I remember it being. But, given I’ve not written proper drabbles for at least five years, I’m happy with this one.
There is absolutely context for it, but since it’s spoilery as all hell, I reserve the right to keep it firmly behind the curtain for now)

Sabbat scowled, poked suspiciously at the silk-wrapped parcel with one finger, and then looked up, eyes narrowed. “-the hells’s this supposed t’be?”

Archer bit back a smile. “It’s yours.” He reached down, picked up the package, and deposited it pointedly in the assassin’s lap. “Open it.”

“Or what?”

Oh for the love of- “Or nothing. It’s a present, Sabbat. Just… open it.”

Still scowling, Sabbat did so. And then the scowl fell away, replaced by a lopsided grin as sudden and fierce as a firestorm. “You bastard. You didn’t have t-”

“Yes,” Archer said, firmly, and kissed him. “I did.”

Copyright © 2019 by Finn McLellan.  All rights reserved.