Fanfic Journal: “What Do You Hear in These Sounds,” chapter 1

Read chapter 1 here.

Fic summary

Fel’rekt Lafeen is a very good listener.

Or: how Fel’rekt joined Bregan D’aerthe, became an unlicensed therapist to some Very Sad Elf Boys, kissed a few of them, eventually became a lieutenant, and ended up slinging a gun in Waterdeep with everyone’s favorite pansexual disaster.

Introductory Notes

Listen, I know I have two unfinished longfic about sad drow boys being sad, and I haven’t forgotten them, but this story ambushed me in the dead of night. It combines a bunch of things I’ve been wanting to see together in a fic:

  • The origin story of Fel’rekt Lafeen, the trans male Bregan D’aerthe lieutenant in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. Since we are told very little about him, there’s a lot of freedom to invent him. Is that what the kids call “free real estate?” 🤣
  • More internality and introspection from Jarlaxle and his band than we see in canon. (Which is to say, any). In particular, I’ve always been interested to see how Jarlaxle would have been affected by Zak’s death, and how Bregan D’aerthe might have suffered as a result.
  • The boys of Bregan D’aerthe (and their leader) getting some well-deserved therapy. I mean, seriously, most of them probably have PTSD in some form, because #TheInherentTraumaOfMenzoberranzan
  • Sad drow boys kissing. And just generally queering the heck out of Faerûn.

And as we all know, we must write the fic we wish to see in the world. So, one transatlantic flight later, here’s chapter one.

Also, necessary disclaimers:

  • Lolthite drow are pretty awful, and we’re in a period where Jarlaxle’s alignment was listed as neutral evil. Many warnings may apply; I’ll tag them as they pop up.
  • I am not trans. I am agender, however, and I like to think I’m at least somewhat aware of trans/enby discourse, and I’ve extensively researched how to sensitively portray trans characters. But please please please let me know if I fuck it up.
  • Yes, therapy is more than just listening. No, I don’t condone unlicensed therapy IRL. But hey, this is Menzoberranzan and it’s the best they’ve got.
  • There will probably not be explicit smut, unless I somehow manage to break decades of precedent. But there will likely be some non-explicit spice.
  • I’m not going to expend too much effort staying compliant to canon. Because fuck R.A. Salvatore, that’s why. He doesn’t deserve his fans. I reject his canon and substitute my own.
  • That said, I have nothing but love for the folks who worked on Dragon Heist, like Chris Perkins or Matt Mercer, as well as Jeremy Crawford, who was the one who came out and said, “yes, Jarlaxle is pan; did the rainbow cape give it away?” I love how they’ve made Forgotten Realms queerer, and I wish RAS hadn’t missed the memo.

Content warnings for this chapter: casual mentions of slavery, fantastic racism, violence and death, mild transphobia (mostly internalized) and deadnaming.

… so about what you would expect from a closeted trans male character trying to survive an evil matriarchy. This chapter will be the worst of it; I don’t want this to be a story of trans suffering.

Just kissing. Always kissing.

End Notes

“What Do You Hear In These Sounds” is the title of a Dar Williams song about the experience of therapy. Yes, this is the second fic I’ve used a Dar Williams song title for; why do you ask? 😆

House Xalyth is a reference to Xalyth’s Company, a merchant clan that specializes in trading gems, led by a matron. It’s mentioned in the Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue sourcebook.

This time period in Bregan D’aerthe’s history — between Zak’s death and the start of The Legacy of the Drow trilogy — isn’t well developed. I’m honestly not sure who Jarlaxle’s first officers would have been then. I think Kimmuriel — though he works with Jarlaxle as early as the 1010s — didn’t fully become a lieutenant until the fall of his house in 1358. Valas and Rai-guy’s timelines are wibbly-wobbly enough to make it work, so that’s what I decided.

Was Jarlaxle always aware of the circumstances of his birth? Maybe not; just another thing I might know if I could stomach more of RAS’ deathless prose.

As a general rule, any drow words I use will come from here.

In the interest of full disclosure… I really don’t know where I’m going with this. I don’t have an outline. I don’t know how many chapters there will be. (Though it’s gonna cover a period of about 150 years). I don’t know what all pairings there will be (though I do intend to smash Fel’rekt and Jarlaxle together like two Barbie dolls). I don’t know who will find their way to the therapist’s couch. I’m going to try to make chapters semi-standalone, for that reason, because it’s quite likely you’ll be waiting a while between them.