August 3, 2016 by Lyn
When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin
He glared at her, realizing that he could, that nothing in her orders prohibited anger. “That’s my mind! My memory!” My children.
She looked taken aback, but he was too angry to be concerned. “You have always trusted me to make those decisions, Ambrus.”
“I didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter, did I?” The feel of her orders clicking down around him like steel locks echoed in his memory, the mind-splitting headache the first time he’s tried to resist a command.
She’d taken his chin in her hand, her grip cool and firm. “You belong to me now.”
He gulped. “Yes, Mistress,” he said softly. “I understand. I belong to you now.”
He’d been chained, trapped, and terrified. He’d been half-convinced she was a serial killer. The memories were visceral and clear; his palms were sweating and, without his volition, his head had dropped and his hands had folded behind his back. But the adult he was now knew what the boy he’d been didn’t. “You trapped me. You made me say the words before I knew what they meant. You took advantage of my ignorance.”
“Yes.” She seemed to have no shame at all for enslaving him.
“Because I needed you. And because you needed me.”
“Steady, Regine. Here, son, you don’t have all the pieces. This is going to hurt,” Reid repeated. Ambrus scowled at him – he’d known about the walls. He’d know she was taking parts out of his memories – but didn’t fight the feeling of phantom fingers in his skull. “Go back a day, back the day before Regine bought you.”
He didn’t want to. The part of his mind that railed against the word “fatherly” fought tooth and nail against those memories. It was going to hurt. It was going to…
…hurt, more than anything before, though it wasn’t the first time Ian had allowed Giana to beat him. It hurt of shame, of utter worthlessness. Not even good enough to sell.
He fought not to cry out as the lash struck his back, sending waves of pain through his already-tortured body. He struggled to stay standing, even when the leather cut into his thighs, into the back of his knees, even though he knew it was a foregone conclusion: eventually he’d fall.
“Reid, you’re hurting him. Stop.” He’d fallen to his knees, landed hard, with no grace at all – he could feel the sting of it in his calves. Worthless. Worthless little nothing. That’s what Ian had called him, the day before he sold him.
“Do you remember?” Reid asked, implacable, persistent .
“Yes,” he answered dully. “Yes, sir. I remember. I know my place.”
“Not yet, you don’t,” the man retorted, and Ambrus flinched, dropping his forehead to the floor. This was going to…
…to hurt, wasn’t it? He hadn’t meant to make the creep angry. He hadn’t meant to make her yell at him like that. He’d been trying to be good. But she’d hit him, and then she’d stomped off to Regine, and now his mistress had called for him. He knelt on the floor of her living room, forehead pressed to the cool wood, hoping she wouldn’t send him away.
“Stand,” she commanded and, like a marionette, he did so, resenting the supernatural command that took away any virtue for obedience. How could he be a good slave when he had no choice but to do as he was told?
He hadn’t been good today, though, had he?
“Take your shirt off, let me see.” Oh, gods. But the shirt was off, and she was walking around him, her hand brushing near the new wounds but not touching them. “I have sent Holly away. She’s not welcome in my Village anymore and, if she happens to be pregnant already, we will deal with that when the time comes.”
He said nothing. He didn’t know what he should say, what he could say.
She stopped, her hands on his shoulder blades. “I’ll send you to Mike for healing in a moment.” Oh, gods, she was going to patch him up and send him away… “But I wanted to apologize.”
“Apologize?” Stupid, stupid, speaking out of turn.
“I knew she was unstable, but I thought her genes worth trying to keep around. I didn’t realize just how bad she was. I never would have sent you to her if I had.”
She was standing in front of him again, her expression solemn, and then, gods, what… oh. She was hugging him. “I’m proud of you for standing up to her, Ambrus. It can’t have come easily.”
I’m proud of you. He blinked back into the modern world, into his mistress’ strained expression.
“I have always strived to balance my responsibility to you with the needs of this project,” she murmured. His proud lady was so subdued, so bowed with pain. “I have, more than once, failed to do so successfully.”
It was a dry apology, and awkward, but from her, it spoke volumes. He could work from that.
“I Belong to you,” he whispered, and was rewarded by tears in her perfect eyes.