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[personal profile] maculategiraffe
OK, I'm still not-- entirely sure-- where I'm going to put this in the overall Daughterverse narrative, but that's one of the advantages of posting my stuff on a Livejournal as I go, is I can be like, "Hey guys, I wrote this thing, how bout that?" While I'm working on the structure of the end of The Maiden and all.

This might be like... an epilogue to The Maiden or a prologue to The Mother, I'm not sure. I'll figure it out and then index it properly. But anyway, it's done as a piece/chapter/whatever, so I'm putting it up. Cause I can! Cause I got no editor to say me nay!



I don't remember when Viviane started coming around to our house. I must have been really little, because in my memory, she's just always there. Like my parents. Younger than my parents, but not by that much. I mean, when I was five, she was twenty.

And yeah, I knew she was important. My mother treated her like-- you know, a kid can just tell, when someone makes other grown-ups go all fluttery and deferential. She was sweet to my mother-- I still don't know how they met, but it must have been something to do with work. Back when Viviane was young, you know, before she was a magistra. My mother's job wasn't anything fancy. Element transmutation, something like that.

Anyway, Viviane was friends with our family, and she liked all us kids-- I had, I have, a brother and a sister, older. Twins. But I was sort of special to her. She used to talk to me all the time, and play with me, all my stupid little-kid games, and help me with my homework and everything. I didn't wonder why or anything, at the time-- I must have been a conceited kid, I just figured I was special, so of course she treated me like I was special. But if she was going to take a special interest, it's not like I was the smart one, or the well-behaved one, or even the cute one. We were all cute. Cute kids. Bridget was the smart one, and Andrew was the good boy, he was really-- good. Well-behaved. I wasn't. I was-- mouthy.

So I got in trouble a lot, and Viviane sort of-- protected me-- from the worst of the trouble. She'd talk my mom around, or she'd talk me around to where I was ready to apologize and be sweet. It was like having a guardian angel. My mother got so mad at me, and Viviane never did. She didn't like everything I did, but she was so patient. The way she talked to me-- sort of reasonable-- like she understood everything I'd ever felt. And she never hurt me. I remember once, when I was about seven, I asked her if she could hurt boys, like other women could. Because I'd never seen her do it. She thought that was hilarious. She said yes, she could, and I said-- I told you I was a mouthy kid, right?-- I said, "Prove it!" But she wouldn't, she wouldn't hurt me. My mother would have fried me to a nice even black if she'd heard that conversation.

Anyway, like I said, she never hurt me and she was really nice to me, and when I was a kid I didn't really wonder why. But when I was, what, twelve, thirteen, I started kind of wondering, because it wasn't like I was an adorable little kid any more, you know, it wasn't like "oh she doesn't have any children of her own so she likes playing with me"-- and anyway if it was ever that then she would have taken up with Bridget or Andrew, right, especially Bridget. Bridget being a girl, I mean. Or Andrew if she wanted, just, you know, a sweet boy. But she just liked me. I don't mean she smothered me, or anything like that, and it wasn't creepy, she didn't hit on me, she didn't look at me funny or tell me to come sit on her lap or put her hand down my pants. Okay, I just had to say it, right? I mean, you might not-- but some people might think, you know, especially with what happened later. But it wasn't like that. She just, she-- I mean, she still helped me with my homework. And she let me come over to her place and she showed me things-- her tools and her books-- and she let me mess around, and ask questions. We just sort of talked a lot. We made each other laugh a lot. She was funny. She thought I was funny, too.

But finally I just asked her, I said something like, why are you so nice to me all the time, and she said, I just enjoy your company. And I was like, well, okay, good, I enjoy yours too. So there you go.

Then, though, I got this girlfriend. She was twenty. I was seventeen. Rosemary was her name. She was really pretty. Not that smart-- I mean, I don't mean any disrespect, but she wasn't-- but pretty and nice, and she liked me a lot, I made her laugh. And I started not spending as much time with Viviane. Because, you know, I was spending time with Rosemary. And my grades started to go down, because I wasn't paying much attention to school, because I figured Rosemary was more important-- well, they always tell us boys that the most important thing is to please girls, right, so I was actually being a good boy for once, there. But also, I wasn't getting Viviane to help me with my homework any more, because I just never had that much time to see her. And eventually, Rosemary said she'd protect me and she wanted to take my maidenhead and all. And so I went and told my mother, and she completely flipped out. I guess it had been her plan all along to get me protected by Viviane-- I mean what an honor, the magistra liked me for whatever crazy reason, and here I was taking up with some random girl from school, and I was an idiot and I was throwing away a chance I'd never deserved in the first place and a bunch of stuff like that. She was so angry. And I yelled back at her, because like I said, I was a hell of a mouthy kid, I said if she wouldn't let me then I'd just wait until I was eighteen, and she said good luck getting Rosemary to wait for me all that time and she'd be sick of me in a week anyway and not to come crawling back to her-- my mother-- when Rosemary withdrew her protection because she couldn't stand me and my attitude and my mouth and I said not every woman hated me as much as she did. My mother.

She probably didn't really hate me. It just felt like that sometimes. Maybe it was just how she was, I don't know. And I wasn't a very good kid, not well-behaved, like Andrew. And obviously not a girl. I do know she wanted another girl, my mother, and I guess I fucked up her womb somehow when I was born. I don't know the details. None of my business.

Anyway, my mother punished me, which yes I'm aware I deserved, and then she called Viviane and asked her to come over and talk some sense into me. So Viviane came over, and she sat down with me in the kitchen-- she made my mother leave-- and she asked me was I sure this was what I wanted. She said, "You're not just doing this to get out of your mother's house, are you?" And I said no, no, Rosemary was great and she'd be a great protectrix and yes I trusted her and I wanted to father her children and everything. And Viviane said, "Because if you just need to get out of here, I'll protect you."

She said, she said I wouldn't have to-- you know. She wouldn't take me if I didn't want to be took. Taken. She'd just-- so I didn't have to settle, she said, for just any girl who was willing to take me on. She said I deserved better than that.

But I said no, it wasn't that, I really liked Rosemary, thank you anyway but I'll be fine. And Viviane said okay. And, good luck. But she didn't say good luck in a mean way, though, or a sarcastic way. She really wished me good luck. She kissed me on the cheek. And then she went and talked to my mother, until my mother was willing to let me go.

So I went to live with Rosemary, and she took my maidenhead, and then a few months later-- right after I was eighteen, I mean like two weeks after my birthday-- she told me she was withdrawing her protection. She said she was too young to have a man under her protection and she wasn't ready to have a baby yet and she couldn't afford to keep me and-- other stuff, I don't know, she told me all about myself, how I had no respect and shot my mouth off and thought I was so fucking funny, all the things my mother said she'd get sick of. I didn't hear a lot of it, or I don't remember. I was having a panic attack, I guess. I mean, I was eighteen, I couldn't go back to my mother, even if she would have taken me back, which she wouldn't. She warned me, remember.

So I asked Rosemary to take me to Viviane's house, instead of the men's center, to see. Just to see. If she'd.

I didn't know-- what she'd do. I'd rejected her once already, and now I wasn't a maiden anymore, and my first protectrix wasn't exactly going to give me a good reference. But I didn't have anywhere else to go, except a center. I just-- hoped.

So Rosemary took me over there and rang the doorbell, and Viviane's assistant answered the door-- Dolores, yeah-- and she said, "Michael!" I knew her from way back. Like I said, Viviane used to let me come over and mess around and look at what she was working on. And of course Rosemary did the talking, she said she was withdrawing her protection and I'd asked to come over here and see Viviane and would she see us, and Dolores let us in and went to get Viviane.

I was sitting on the floor when she came in, and I didn't dare look up, I just stared at her feet, her sandals and her toes and the scars on the one foot and ankle, you know. And Rosemary explained the whole thing again and Viviane said, "Yes, I'll protect him. You can leave him here with me."

When Rosemary was gone-- and she didn't even say goodbye to me, she was that sick of me, or I don't know, maybe she was just embarrassed or something-- Viviane pulled me up and hugged me. I was shaking all over, and she was so soft, and she hugged me so tight. I remembered how she used to scoop me up and hug me, and now I was taller than her. She.

She was-- unbelievably-- nice to me. She put me in a chair and brought me food and tea and told me to stop thanking her. I said how sorry I was and she said there was nothing to be sorry for, don't be ridiculous. I said I'd been an idiot to ever go with Rosemary and she said no I hadn't been, Rosemary seemed like a very nice girl and just because things hadn't worked out didn't mean I was stupid to try.

She put me in a guest bedroom. Like I was still a kid, like I was sleeping over and in the morning she was going to drive me to school. I said, I asked, I said "may I ask, how I can serve my protectrix,"-- but she said we'd figure that out later and right now I should just get some rest. So I figured she didn't want me-- you know, in her bed. And that was fair, I figured, because I wasn't a maiden any more, and I couldn't have been very good or Rosemary would have kept me around.

So she was that nice to me. The next day, the next week. She fed me and she showed me what she was working on, and she gave me a bracelet and said I could go anywhere I wanted, that I shouldn't feel cooped up, I could go see my friends or my family or anybody I wanted. I started crying when she gave it to me, I just couldn't believe how nice she was being, and she said, oh Michael, don't, it's okay, it's okay.

And it was-- that's what I couldn't get over. I'd been so scared, and so ashamed-- not just when Rosemary told me, but I could tell for awhile before that that she was getting tired of me and I didn't know how to fix it-- and then the, the axe, actually fell, and I didn't know what I was going to do, and now all of a sudden everything was just okay. Viviane was going to take care of me. Do you-- you understand how that made me feel? I looked at her and I saw-- everything okay, only because of her. Is that love? When you look at somebody and she, the fact of her, is the whole reason your life isn't ruined?

Well, whatever it is, if it's love or not, that's what I felt for Viviane.

So I lived with her, in the guest bedroom, and I did whatever chores she needed done and she showed me the stuff she was working on and I visited my family and my old friends with their protectrices, and the whole time, she didn't make a move on me. And like I said, I figured she didn't want me that way. But she didn't have any other man-- she wasn't sleeping with anybody that I knew of, man or woman-- okay, so it was none of my business, but I did live with her and we spent a lot of time together and women want daughters and I just wondered.

So after a while-- I guess it was about a month-- I said, I asked her, I said, I don't deserve the honor but if it would please my gracious lady to take me to her bed, you know. And she asked was I sure, she said I didn't have to, and I said yes I was sure but I'd figured she didn't want me, and she said it wasn't that, it was just that I was younger and she understood if I wasn't attracted to her, and I said of course I was, she was beautiful-- I mean, she was beautiful, I always thought so, when I was little and all. But, well, you know how she had those scars, on her face. And on her-- all down her side-- she always wore long sleeves, you know, and long skirts. When I was little, I had this little toy car, it was really my sister's, but Viviane would push up her sleeve and let me take the little car and run it up and down her arm, where it was all thick and bumpy and pink and white with the scar tissue. When I was little I didn't think anything of it, you know, the scars and all, it was just part of Viviane, like how she had dark hair, she had one arm all bumpy and funny, and a face-- and I still didn't think anything of it, it didn't bother me. But I guess she was self-conscious about it. Maybe that's why she never really dated. But I told her she was beautiful and I would be honored beyond all measure and all that. And she said okay.

So, and then she got pregnant. Pretty quick. Nothing wrong with my swimmers. I think my mother was a little bit proud of me then, for giving Viviane a daughter. That was nice. And of course Viviane hugged me all to pieces, praised me to the skies, I felt ten feet tall. I loved the baby too. Little Carol. Ah, she was so tiny. But just packed with personality, you'd never believe. I could play with her for hours, peekaboo and watch-the-rattle and what's-that-sound-- and Viviane let me spend all the time with her that I wanted, she loved me to play with the baby. At home, with just me and the baby, she'd-- like when they nursed, she let me sit there with my arm around her, pet her arm-- the one with the scars, I'd run up and down it with my fingernails, like I used to do with the little car-- and watch the baby, leaking milk from the corners of that little pink mouth of hers, with her eyes all squinched up. I...

Look-- can I please-- stop now? I'm-- really-- tired.

Tomorrow, yeah. Like that story about that girl, right, Shahwhatsit-- Scheherazade, right. Except you already know the ending. So that's not going to work.

Okay. Thank you, Emily.


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