Blitz turned toward me again, his jaw set and his dark eyes determined. His meticulous eyebrows were set straight across his forehead, just beneath a worry line I knew gave him anxiety. It worried him more than his crooked nose, for some reason. The son of Freya’s skin was otherwise smooth and unmarked, and he took a little too much pride in his appearance. It was the kindness in his eyes and his heart that I –
He stood, then walked toward me. Unable to help myself I leaned into the back of the couch.
Just like that he deflated. His hand rubbed the back of his head. The merry twinkle came back in his eye.
“Hey, Hearth,” he said, then signed, You hungry?
Maybe I overreacted. Maybe he was just about to tell me that my scarf was crooked, or I needed to tweeze my eyebrows because that one hair was driving him nuts. Not that he had ever criticized my appearance before, but there’s a first time for everything.
Or a second time, even. I felt my cup tipping back over, its contents spilling everywhere irreverently.
My hands still, inside my own head, I completed his sentence properly. Hey, Hearth. You know how we did that thing with Magnus, and now Mimir doesn’t own us anymore? Yeah, well. About that. When do you think this whole travelling-together thing should end? Now? Yeah, me too. Thanks, buddy. It’s been real.
It’s been a few weeks now since I finished the new Rick Riordan novel, Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer. And while there’s still nearly a year until the next book in the series is released, fanfiction’s always got my back in the meantime.
I’m a terrible sucker for dwarf/elf romance—thanks for nothing, Tolkien—and when we were first introduced to Blitzen and Hearthstone at the beginning of Sword of Summer, I half-assumed they were already together. Riordan hasn’t been shy about being inclusive in his various series, and Magnus even describes the two as being like parents to him while he lived on the streets. As I read, however, I realized that they weren’t in that sort of relationship – at least not yet.
Vocabulary is told from Hearthstone’s point of view, and focuses on his relationship with Blitzen post-SoS. When Blitz starts to say something Hearth can tell is serious and important, but then loses his nerve, Hearth assumes the worst. Worried that Blitz no longer wants to be around him, he uses his newfound magical skills to run for it, leaving Blitz and the rest of his friends shocked and upset.
Hearthstone is a fascinating character to me in general because I can’t think of another young reader-aimed story that features a Deaf character in such a prominent role—especially in a story that doesn’t revolve around his deafness. He was abandoned by his elven family because of his disability—apparently, elves have no time for anything they don’t consider “perfect”—but has found a far superior family in Blitzen, Magnus, and Samirah.
Because the book is written from Magnus’s point of view, our understanding of Hearth’s character is limited to what Magnus picks up along the way. Having Hearth as the POV character in the fanfic gives the reader a more personal insight into his thoughts than whatever Magnus can guess at. Genuinelies also does a great job of capturing Blitzen’s dry personality, and, of course, leaves us with a happy ending.
Vocabulary‘s a quick read at around 3.5k words—check it out here at the AO3!