May 19, 2014 by Lyn
After If You Knew…
“Be calm, please.” Gina had sent Colden out the door with those words – that, and a quieter warning. “Remember, Ceinwen has three years left – and her children will attend after her.”
It was as good as saying We got her into this, so please don’t make it worse. Colden had smiled, or at least he’d tried. “I’ll be calm, love.” That much he could say – if not promise.
He drove. It was a five-hour drive each way; they had picked their home for its proximity to Gina’s family, not to the school they’d eventually be sending their daughter to.
It was something of a penance for Colden, the five-hour drive, something of a time to clear his head, and something of a time to get his ducks in a row.
He knew what they’d promised. He’d pulled a copy of the contract out of their safe-deposit box and read it until the words were burned into his mind. He’d spent a few nights drinking and swearing quietly at a younger version of himself. He’s spent a few more nights arguing with a Faded lawyer friend of his – a man who had his own two kids heading to Addergoole in a few years – and looking for holes in the contract.
There were no holes. And Colden and Gina had talked the friend into signing up; the fees that had bought Colden and Gina’s house had, in their friend’s case, paid for law school.
He added another mark to the register he kept in his mind, the one of debts he was owed and those he owed others, and he packed the truck.
“Be calm,” Gina asked him. He found a smile for his wife and assured her that he would be.
He tried not to lie to his wife, so he also did some breathing exercises. Calm.
Calm was not particularly going to help, but neither was angry. Instead, Colden focused on the facts.
They had signed a contract they could not get out of, a contract that bound their descendants – Ceinwen’s descendants, at least; they could still have more children if they wanted – for generations.
There was not actually an age clause in the contract. They had assumed, in their own youth, that Regine would bring the children to Addergoole in their twenties. They had assumed – but it was not in the contract.
Once the student was at the school, their Mentor – who they would choose – had ultimate and complete authority over them until they graduated, as it was in the Ellehemaei world.
This was important. This was the part he needed to focus on.
It was a long drive; he could not stay focused on the facts for the entire time. He found himself thinking about the way Ceinwen had looked, carefully picking her way through the things she wanted to tell Gina and him, clearly avoiding topics that she wanted to shelter them from.
He’d had enough uncomfortable conversations over the years, he’d known enough people under the collar, to have a guess at what their daughter wasn’t telling them. And there was enough in what she had said – and enough in the way she looked, sometimes, at her child, when she thought he wasn’t looking – to tell Colden the things he needed to say to the people who needed to hear them.
And there was enough left unspoken to make him want to hurt those people who had hurt his baby girl. All of them.
Calm. He had told Gina he would be calm. Colden uncurled his fingers from the steering wheel, one at a time. Not enough. He pulled over – nothing between the last city and this one but hayfield and cornfield, but he could stretch his legs, at least – and got out of the truck.
Calm. Calm, thinking about his baby girl, and the oaf who’d gotten her pregnant. Pregnant.
Calm. Calm, thinking about all of those kids there. They’d thought this was going to be Xavier Academy, not Lord of the Flies. I know how to handle emotional trauma.
Calm. She was going to walk out of that school an adult. An adult, legally and by the Law, and a mother of two.
Calm. The Director was a Grigori. The Mara and the Daeva in her crew might respond to anger, but the Director would simply dismiss it.
Calm. He had told Gina he would be calm.
He got back in the truck and drove into Addergoole.
He hadn’t been certain the Director would see him. He couldn’t have been the first angry parent she’d seen – and he probably wouldn’t be the last.
When he was ushered into her office, he was less surprised to see the big Mara there, Luca, wings spread and wearing a neutral look that still looked threatening than he was to be there at all.
“Mr. Davis.” Regine nodded her head, simultaneously greeting him and putting him in his place: Mister, because he’d never earned a Name, Faded as he was.
“Sa’Lady of the Lake.” He nodded his head in return, giving her her due. “Sa’Hunting Hawk.”
“How can we help you?”
Colden took a breath. Calm. The way to win against a Grigori was not to shout, not at all. “I am uncertain you are aware of the actions that are occurring within your school walls.”
“It is certainly possible that we’ve missed something.” The Grigori’s admission startled Colden more than anything he’d ever heard from her.
“It’s been a bit of a busy year.” Luca Hawk’s gravelly voice seemed to underscore the surprise. “We’ve done our best – but please tell us if we missed something.”
Any steam he’d had was gone. Colden bowed his head for a moment. Busy year. They’d been so intent on what had been done to Ceinwen, they hadn’t asked about the rest of her year.
It was still important. “I believe that your ‘Keepings’ are inflicting a culture of revolving abuse – and rape – on your school behind closed doors. They are still children, and they are not yet ready for the responsibility of themselves, much less for another person.”
“The false Keepings and false promises are meant to begin to teach that responsibility, before they are out in the world and learning in an environment with no safety net, as it were.”
“I know. And I agree with the concept. However, as per the agreement we signed when my daughter was conceived, the students will be under the supervision of a Mentor at all times, as it is in the Ellehemaei world.”
He noticed the shift in both of them, the way that Regine sat up a bit straighter, the slight breeze from Luca’s wings.
“That is in the agreement, yes.”
“I believe you are not allowing sufficient supervision by Mentors – either of the ‘Keepers,’ or of the ‘Kept.’ I believe that you need to enforce a more extensive oversight of these ‘Keepings,’ including post-mortem discussions. Thorburn, in particular, was traumatized by his ‘Keeping’ by Indigo. Only Ceinwen’s nature and her powers allowed her to take what would have been a horrific situation and turn it into something that was uncomfortable and unpleasant, but not – as far as she will allow me to know – traumatizing.”
“She’s a tough girl. That whole crew is.” It was unclear whether Luca thought that was a good thing or not.
“She is.” Colden was quite a bit more certain: his daughter was tough and that filled him with pride. However: “crew?” Ceinwen hadn’t mentioned a crew, either.
“If they aren’t a crew yet, they will be. Jovanna, Ceinwen, Æowyn, and Ahouva. Tough girls every one.”
Colden made a note to ask Ceinwen about that later. Right now, he had other concerns. “She’s a very tough girl. But that doesn’t mean that she should have gone through that situation alone.” He looked Luca in the eye, and then turned, to look at Regine the same way.
Faded who didn’t have enough fae blood to even earn a name did not look at full-blooded Grigori – or full-blooded Mara – that way. Colden didn’t care. This was his daughter at stake here. “You are not – as Mentors – taking sufficient time with your Students, or you are not – as administrators of this school – allowing your Mentors sufficient access to your Students.”
“The problem with this theory is that, due to the nature of the Mentor-Student groupings here at Addergoole…”
“I am not asking!” He had told Gina he’d try to stay calm. Well, he’d tried to stay calm. Colden took a breath. “This is not a request, Director Avonmorea. This is a demand. This is a demand that you and yours honor the contract we signed.” He looked back at Luke. Was he about to get into a fight? It would be a losing one, but he might be able to make them hurt, first. “The contract states – you said – that the Mentor-Student relationship would exist as it is in the Ellehemaei world. If that is the case, the Mentor needs complete access to their Student at any time.”
“You don’t want us to stop the abuse?” Luke’s voice was soft. Colden suspected a trap.
“It is not your job, except in the case of your Students.” He looked between them one more time. “I am saying: let your Mentors do their job, and let them do it fully.”
“And if we do not?” Regine sounded as if she wanted to bargain. That was in no way what Colden had in mind.
“Then I will hold you in breech of contract and vow, and consider all those who are mine to no longer be bound by our deal. And I will tell everyone I know the same.”
It was a risky threat. If they killed him, they could renegotiate with Gina from a position of strength.
He thought Regine looked at Luke. He didn’t dare take his eyes off her to see what the old Mara’s reaction was.
“Very well.” Regine nodded her head. “We will do as you as – as you so rightly demand.”
Colden felt his knees to go rubber. Just like that? There was nothing to say except “Thank you,” so he said that.
“We will meet again in a year, to be certain that you feel your demands have been met. Thank you, Mr. Davis. Have a nice day.”
This was written in response to Kuro-Neko’s commission, requesting more of the Ceinwen story.
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