Once, In Estre, The Left Hand of Darkness (Therem/Arek) Title: Once, In Estre Author:karanguni Rating: PG Summary: Once upon a time, in Estre, Therem Harth had been happy. Warnings: Uh, "incest"? Prompt: July 3rd: The Left Hand of Darkness - Arek/Therem - incest - did you rescue me just to kill me?
512 words. If unfamiliar with the context and willing to read 6000 words worth of extracts of Le Guin kicking the ass of every writer on earth, go here!
Once upon a time in Estre, he had been a foolish youth. Is there a better way to tell this story?
Yes: once upon a time in Estre, Estraven, the man, had been happy. Not Estraven the Prime Minister, whose words must need shape the future of Karhide, or Estraven the Traitor, whose words must have spoiled it. Instead, Therem. Therem of Estre, who in the first year of his kemmering put his hand against the hand of Arek of Estre, and saw that their fingers fit, and was glad.
'Harth,' his friends had asked him when they made the pull across the ice lakes of Kerm, in those old days where the future always seemed muddier, more confused and so full of potential. 'Harth, you do know what you are doing?'
'I know,' Therem had said, and that was a terrible thing that had made him smile. He did know, but he thought it was the pessimistic folly of youth alone that had him dreaming, at night as he lay side by side with his brother, about a future full of exile and majesty and love. Dreams were not for Therem Harth rem ir Estraven. Therem Harth saw too well, and kept his feet too close to the ground. Dreams were not for him, and a smarter youth would have recognised it earlier.
Yet, once upon a time in Estre, the future had not mattered quite so much.
And, turning away from the one who saw but did not see, they asked his brother, 'Harth, are you happy?'
And Arek Harth rem ir Estraven had laughed, and pulled in time with Therem, saying, 'Some vows do not need to be spoken.'
They pulled together well, for however long it had been that Arek could remain by his side. Arek Harth had lived life like he had loved – completely, utterly, and with his eyes closed, blind as he was to the things that mattered too much to other men. When life had exhausted his patience and his spirit, Arek Harth had opened his eyes and realised what he had to do. He pushed his brother from him using the twin weapons of shame and abruptly ended joy; it was those things, and not exile, that sent Therem forth into Erhenrang, to sit at the feet of kings.
Estraven - and all of Estraven - died alone in the snow, bleeding out his suicide for country and for hearth, for a love that loved only that which was, and not that which were the borderlines between country and country, or kin and kin. There was no one there to warm him back to life, no one to save him from the cold when he passed. Genly reached him too late, and his palm overstretched Estraven's where he grasped at it and cried.
Now they will remember Estraven for the stories that he failed to listen to, and the morals he refused to learn once upon a time in Estre.
And yet his name, Therem, will still be given to children of that domain.