August 21, 2013 by Lyn
Saturday, September 4, 2004
Just before the first week of Year 10 of the Addergoole School (the day before new students arrive)
Thorburn and Ceinwen regarded each other over the dining hall table.
Ceinwen steepled her fingers and looked at him. He looked smaller. Not a lot smaller – Thorburn was a big guy – but he was hunched, like he was trying not to loom. “You’re nervous.”
“So are you. I’m not going to hurt you.”
“The last time you said something like that, you collared me, took away half my clothes-”
“I gave them back!”
“Only after taking more than half of them. And I’m going to stop there.”
“You were…” He trailed off.
“I was yours. And that’s what you think being yours looks like.”
“Thought.” His pale eyes were serious and, she thought, possibly worried; his forehead was crinkled and his lips were tight together. “What I thought, Ceinwen.”
“I’d started to think you didn’t know my name.”
“It’s… you were…”
“I was Kept. And a Kept doesn’t have a name outside of her Keeper, it’s in the Law.”
“Why do you keep saying that?” His voice spiraled up into a shout. Nobody stared. There weren’t that many people here, for one, and for another people knew better than to stare at Thor’s bear.
“Because it’s true, and you keep trying to pretend it isn’t.”
“No. No, I know I Kept you.” His voice was a little less of a thunderbolt now. “And I know I fucked it up. And I know why. I don’t know why you’re talking to me. Are you talking to me to yell at me? To make me feel bad? I already feel bad enough. I don’t need any help on that one.”
“You feel bad.” Ceinwen shook her head. “That’s why I’m talking to you.”
“So you want me to feel bad?” He hunched his shoulders forward. “I suppose I deserve that one.”
She shook her head. “You might. But no. No, I’m talking to you because I don’t like you feeling bad.”
“You don’t?” He frowned at her. “You don’t want revenge?”
“No.” She shook her head. “At one point, sure. When you let me go. When I first went home. But you showed up in my dreams.”
“You showed up in mine, too… wait.” His hands clenched and unclenched on the table, and he frowned. “You did that while I was Keeping you. Showed up in my…” His fists tightened again. “Dreams.”
“Nightmares.” She pitched her voice quietly. “Yes. And… interfered.”
“Helped.” He looked down at the table. “If we’re being honest.”
“We might as well be. I don’t think we can really make things worse.”
“Do you think they’re that bad already then?” He glanced up at her.
“Well, they’re not good.”
“I tr- fuck.”
“You Kept me. We can say that much.” Ceinwen twitched her shoulders upwards. It took effort to make her voice. “I’m willing to try being friends.”
“Friends.” He tasted the word. “Like Curry and Basalt?”
“You had to have friends before you came to Addergoole.” She tried to make it a question, but she wasn’t sure it was.
“Well, yeah, I mean… yeah? But this is Addergoole. Things are different.”
“I don’t know about being crew.”
He shrugged, not quite looking apologetic. “I’m not surprised. You and me, we’re not the sort of people that really end up being in a crew together, normally. I mean, you’ll want a crew to back you up.”
“Not like Basalt and Curry.” She found herself making a face, twisting her lips. “I mean, I guess Basalt’s okay, since he got Ahouva, but Curry…”
“I know.” He reached for her, but stopped, his hand hovering above hers. “He’s a twit. But they’re the friends I have.”
“We all got scattered. Hell Night, and then…” Ceinwen shrugged. She didn’t want to beat him up anymore.
“Being Kept by Keepers that didn’t let you out of the house. It happens.” His hand was still hanging there, waiting for permission.
“It happened to you, didn’t it?” She turned her hand over and wrapped her fingers around his. “With Indigo.”
He didn’t answer for long enough that she’d begin to believe he wouldn’t say anything. When he did, it wasn’t a direct answer at all.
“That doesn’t mean it should have happened to you. Or to your Kept.”
“You should. And you should have a Crew.” He tightened his hand on hers, just a little bit. “But maybe we could be friends, even if that’s all we are.”
The images of his nightmares flashed through her mind. “I’d like to be your friend. Or at least try.” She let herself smile. “As long as I get to keep my clothes.”
“You get keep everything of yours.” His smile was bright and rare. “I might even help you find your own Kept.”
Two weeks later
The halls were crowded, loud, and dark. Ceinwen had picked a corner and camped out, creating a pool of light that chased away the darkness. Akaterina and Ahouva, Jovanna and Æowyn, stood at the edges of her light, watching for newbies and guiding them to safe places behind Ceinwen’s light.
“Hold up, don’t shoot.” Thorburn’s voice wasn’t as loud as it normally was, insinuating himself into her light rather than bulling his way through. “I found this kid wandering in the halls and he looked lost. Now he’s lost and terrified. I guess I do that.”
“You do.” Ceinwen didn’t have much attention to spare; the light held most of it. But she smiled in Thorburn’s direction.
“I told him if he was yours, everything would be okay.”
“He lied to me. He lied to me, didn’t you? She can’t help me.”
“She can help you. She just doesn’t know you yet. And you have to say the words.”
“Oh, Thorburn.“ She looked at her friends. The light started to flicker, illuminating Ahouva’s twisted smile like candlelight. She pulled her attention back to her glow. “He can be mine.” Worry about the repercussions later. “Come here. You can be mine, and everything will be okay. For one, Thorburn didn’t lie.”
She’d just have to deal with it later.
This was written to Kuro-Neko’s donation to my What I Want What You Want Fundraiser, and to the request for something showing Ceinwen in Year 10.
For every $5US donated, I will write 300 words on the character or situation of your choice. In addition, every donation will bring you to a small snippet of story – a new snippet every Wednesday! Want more?