The page was mocking her.
So was the pencil, and the eraser, and the weird smudges it left on her (terrible horrible ugh) fifth attempted sketch of the day.
With a growl Ruby pulled over a new piece of paper and mashed her headphone on tighter, trying to drown out her own irritation. She’d spent half the afternoon on this without getting past first part.
Who knew drawing kitty ears could be so hard?
Having to draw them from memory probably didn’t help, but still you’d think by now she’d have managed something other than stupid triangles!
Maybe she should just give up…
A shift in the curtains brought Ruby’s eyes to the window. A second later the room was set blazing with sunshine as the wind played with the summertime clouds.
And there was Blake.
Curled up on her bed with a book in her lap, the older girl looked like ink drawn perfectly onto snow. The only hint of color was her eyes, glimmers of gold dust moving with words she probably knew by heart already, but would always love reading again.
Ruby let her chin droop to rest in the palm of her hand.
She could feel the corners of a smile pressing into her fingers, you just couldn’t be anything other than happy on a day like this, with a view like this…
Which is why she’d wanted to draw it in the first place.
Blake lost in dreams. The soft shadows on her face, the way they danced whenever her feature lifted in a tiny smile, the reflected glints of gold in her dark hair and the fact that Blake was too deep in the story to bother tucking back that one stray strand.
Ruby was no artist. Still, if she was going to fail at drawing, at least the act of trying to might help carve this scene into her memory.
With a nod to herself and one flourishing twirl of her chosen weapon, Ruby went back to work.
Maybe if she tried sketching Blake like a weapon’s design? Function first, character second, depth third.
Slowly Ruby started building the picture up.
At first she glanced up every other second, regular as the smallest hand on a clock. Then her focus went to shape rather than position, and memory began to kick in.
She drew gentle arms that liked to hold her as they lazed in a shady spot of the Beacon grounds.
She drew a curving waist she’d only just gathered enough courage to trace sometimes, when Weiss was off training and Yang was visiting next door, when they had the room all to themselves and could lie in Blake’s bed for an hour at a time just talking and watching and looking back.
The chin that tucked snuggly into the crook of Ruby’s neck when Blake snuck up behind her for a hug. The shoulders Ruby had gotten into the habit of kneading at the end of particularly long day of classes, massaging until the stress dropped from Blake and made her human enough to make it through dinner with saying more than two words- Ah, darn it.
The tip of Ruby’s pencil froze as she frowned at herself, unhappy to have slipped up even in her own head.
Blake was a Faunus.
She was a Faunus. So instead of saying ‘human’, Ruby should have used something else less exclusive, something like… uh, ‘and gave her the energy to make it through dinner’ or ‘made her personable enough to make it through dinner’….
Sighing Ruby tapped restlessly at the empty top-half of her sketch.
It was months after Blake’s revelation and she still didn’t know how to draw cat ears. What kind of failure almost-girlfriend couldn’t even remember what part of their partner looked like?
Ruby sat up with a start and came practically nose-to-nose with a faintly curious Blake.
“Ah!” Quick as she could Ruby leaned forward to spread herself over the sketch and shield it from view- accidentally making their noses bump a little in the process.
“No! Um, well yes- but it’s nothing I was just scribbling!”
Blake didn’t try to put any more space between them. Instead she settled herself kneeling before the desk and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying this close-up view of a panicked and fibbing Ruby.
Silver eyes met gold and Ruby felt a bead of sweat slid down her face. She was no good at lying to Blake, not even little white lies like this one.
“Okay, okay….” It had been worth a shot, anyway. “Just, please promise you won’t laugh where I can hear…?”
“I’ll try.” Blake agreed with complete honestly. Considering the scribbles she had previous seen Ruby produce, it was entirely possible that she wouldn’t be able to stop herself from laughing a little. Still, she would certainly make an attempt to hold it in.
Head hanging in surrender, Ruby slumped back and spun the page around for better scrutiny.
“It’s not done yet.” She mumbled, too embarrassed to even look up and see Blake’s reaction.
“I keep trying to draw the last part and getting stuck… guess I don’t have such a good memory, heh.”
It was a hollow laugh.
She felt like garbage, she felt like scum. One of the most important days in either hers or Blake’s lives, and she couldn’t even remember the key surprise clearly enough to do a bad sketch of them.
“My ears are what’s giving you trouble?”
Ruby wanted to melt into the floor.
“Hmm.” Floor-melting wishes intensified as Blake went quiet, probably reconsidering who she had chosen to spend her afternoon with-
“Want me to pose for you?”
Ruby’s heart did a double-take.
“Pose?” She looked up to see a perfectly serious and not at all angry Blake smiling back at her. “You mean, for the last part? Take off your bow and everything?”
“I think it’s a little too early for ‘everything’ to come off.” Blake teased, making Ruby turned bright red.
“But certainly the bow if it’ll help. Just let’s lock the door first-“
The door was locked and barricaded shut in a swirl of rose petals.
Blake held back a chuckle as Ruby scrambled to re-seat herself, nervously rearranging her meager art supplies before setting pencil ready upon the paper again.
A little heat sparked up from Blake’s chest to her cheeks as silver eyes watched her eagerly. The ribbon took a bit longer for her jittery fingers to untie than normal, and the silken scrape of the bow sounded a lot louder than normal as it slid off her ears, but she managed in the end…
And almost immediately had the urge to put it back on, never mind how stifling it was.
Blake stared at Ruby’s motionless hands, suddenly unable to look the younger girl in the eyes. She felt her ears flinch and twitch nervously, and wondered if the movement unnerved Ruby, wondered how alien and strange they looked to someone who hadn’t grown up with such inhuman extras to her body.
Most of all, she wondered why Ruby wasn’t doing or saying anything.
“Hey, um, Blake?”
Blake felt her stomach leap into her throat.
She couldn’t keep the sharp, on-edge not from her voice. By the way Ruby’s hands shifted, pencil twirling so she could tap her pointer fingers together, Blake knew Ruby had heard and was worriedly reconsidering finishing her question.
Doing her best to keep her face smooth Blake looked up to catch Ruby in what she hoped was a reassuring gaze.
This time when she spoke her voice was a warm as she could make it.
“It’s okay to be curious, Ruby. I don’t mind.”
Ruby nodded and sucked in a slow breath.
“…What do they feel like?”
“Feel like.” She had honestly never thought about it before. “Like ears, I suppose. A little sore after a full day under wraps. I… don’t really know what else to say.”
“Ah, no.” Ruby winced apologetically and bit her lip.
“I meant more along the lines of, er, texture and stuff? I’m not so good at the drawing thing but it seems to go better if I think about how things feel instead of just how they look…”
Blake cast an apprising eye down at the drawing between them. If that was ‘not so good’ then Blake’s own attempts were downright pitiful. It would be a shame for the rest of it to be of lesser quality… Blake felt one corner of her mouth crook upwards in a grin.
“Why not find out for yourself?”
And she bent forward a bit to proffer her ears, no longer twitching but pricked expectantly towards Ruby.
The younger girl squeaked.
“What- really!?” The sheer awe and disbelief in those words was enough to erase any doubts Blake had been harboring. “That’s… Blake, you don’t need it if you don’t want to! It’s just a stupid sketch, I don’t even have to finish it-“
“I don’t mind.”
That was true. More than true, actually. Blake had vague memories of someone from long ago brushing her (then much shorter) hair and smoothing her ears out afterwards, but it was only the ghost of a recollection.
Since then no one other than herself had touched her Faunus ears to do anything that didn’t involve a mean-spirited pinch or tug. It might be nice to have a little contact, and if Ruby’s touch did to her ears what it did to the rest of her, then even just a little contact would be very, very worth it.
Still Ruby hesitated.
“You’re positive?” Blake bobbed her head in an awkward nod. “Really sure?” Again the pseudo-bow, and Blake’s neck was started to ache. “You’re really, absolutely positively sure-?”
“Ruby,” The name came out in a mix of exasperation and amusement. “Yes, I am sure. Just don’t yank on them and it’ll be fine.”
There was a faint clatter as the pencil was unceremoniously discarded, then an odd silence as Ruby slowly reaching out.
A second later Blake realized the silence was from Ruby actually holding her breath. She had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing and startling the younger girl.
…Then softest caress in the world just barely grazed the tip of Blake ear.
Her ear flicked away on instinct, and Blake flinched internally, cursing her body from moving when she had been trying so hard to hold still-
The sound was a like a key unlocking the stress from parts of Blake she hadn’t even realized had tensed up.
“They’re super touchy, huh? That bow must really drive you mad.”
“Sometimes a little.” Blake confessed with a smile Ruby could almost certainly hear. “Sometimes a lot, mainly on summer days after a rain.”
Again the touch, light a feather and following the line of her ear like a trace.
“The humidity makes your fur get all bushy?”
Blake swallowed hard and almost nodded before remembering that would move her out of Ruby’s reach.
She very carefully stayed put as she answered.
“That sounds about right. It does happen in the shower too, now I think about it…”
A soft hum was Ruby’s only reply as she moved a little closer. Her fingers rand down the velvet of one ear until they found the base, pausing for a moment before curiously exploring how fur transitioned into silky hair.
Blake shifted until she could rest her head on her arms, sighing deeply as her eyes became unfocused and half-lidded.
There was something unimaginably comforting about this.
Maybe it had to do with the warmth Ruby was spreading down her neck and into every last hidden ache in her bones. Or maybe it was just the fact that Ruby was the one touching her, not being anxious or uncomfortable with this side of Blake, but enjoying it instead…
Whatever it was, all Blake knew was that she hadn’t been this relaxed in years.
“They’re so soft.” Whispered Ruby with wonder. “And, do you mind if I..?”
She waited until Blake murmured something agreeable before careful smoothing one ear back until if folded flat against Blake’s dark tresses.
“Wow.” Ruby giggled again.
“Wow, Blake. They’re so cute!”
Blake mumbled something again and Ruby paused, waiting for her to repeat it.
“..’Cute little kitty ears’ hmm?” Blake tilted until she could peer up at Ruby with one golden eye. “You said something like that, I think…”
This time there was a bit of self-consciousness in Ruby’s laugh.
“Sorry… It was the first thing I could think of at the time…”
Blake smirked and let her eyes fall the rest of the way shut as Ruby switched hands. She was dozing before Rub’s free hand found the pencil again, and thoroughly snoozing by the time the last careful bit of shading was added to the sketch.
Ruby pushed the drawing aside and leaned in to tuck back an errant strand falling over Blake’s face.
“Beautiful…” She whispered, and then blushed like a sunburned tomato.
Well, she really is, Ruby reasoned to herself as she settled into a slow rhythm of carding through ebony hair and gently stroking the warm base of Blake’s kitty ears. I can’t believe she kept something like this a secret for so long… the whole world should know. It’s a real crime that hardly anyone gets to see this side of her…
But if only one person in Remnant was allowed to have a memory of Blake Belladonna as amazing as today’s was, then by god and by all the Grimm, Ruby was selfishly glad that she got to be the one.
Fifteen minutes later Yang would come walking through the door, not even noticing it’s supposedly locked state.
Blake would hear her approach but linger anyway, not wanting to go back to restraining ribbons and bows after the freeing feeling of Ruby’s gentle touch.
This would lead to a scramble of fingers and troublesome cloth as Yang tripped over the barricade just inside the door, buying Ruby enough time to zip between her and Blake, blocking the view of anyone who happened to be passing in the hall.
Yang would tease them about the locked door and wonder aloud if she had interrupted anything, but Blake would catch sight of her partner’s searching gaze and know Yang was only half joking.
A blush would rise in her cheeks, even though they really hadn’t done anything, and she would hide behind her book and leave the much more capable Ruby to weather Yang’s playfulness alone.
The sketch would find its way into one of Blake’s books before bed time. And that book would end up under her pillow, safe and within easy reach whenever she needed reminding of how Ruby really saw her.
A smiling girl cast in carefully shaded shadows, busy with her favorite past time of reading … and someone who was unmistakably a Faunus.