When Claire awoke the next evening, she was immediately aware of her growing hunger. She was nowhere near the state that she had been in on the night of her embrace, but it was obvious that she would need to eat again, soon. The very next thing she became aware of was the feel of Sean waking next to her as the sun set, as well.
“Evening.” he smiled over at her as he easily placed a kiss upon her cheek as they both moved to sit up atop the bed, both still only clad in the cover, which Claire held tightly to her chest as her eyes couldn’t help moving to the other side of the room as she felt his lips on her skin.
There, Baila didn’t look directly at them, simply attempted a half-hearted smile before forcing her attention back to the laundry that Ana had finished washing earlier in the day as Chantarell stayed at Haven’s side, and she at theirs.
“Baila, go ahead and get yourself some supper. We’ll be down after we dress.” Sean told her quietly to save Claire the task of having to request Baila’s departure, herself. She simply nodded to him, set aside the clothing she had been folding, and left the room without voicing any dissent, as usual.
Only a moment after they did replace most of their clothing was when there was a light knock at the bedroom door that Baila had departed thru only moments earlier.
“Yes?” Sean responded as he finished buttoning his shirt.
“I may have a solution.” Haven greeted them as he entered the room.
“A solution?” Claire responded hopefully, her subconscious obviously hoping to find one of those, herself, in regards to some situations of late.
“Yes, for the lack of shelter during the days, when the weather already makes it difficult to travel very far in one night.”
“Oh.” she returned, looking down once more.
“What would that be?” Sean continued with the conversation.
“I’m already friends with Marcus, as he’s one of the few Toreador Princes, so this may be a good place to stay, and replenish our supplies, until the weather improves in a month or two.” Haven offered, referring to their own clan and the Prince they had visited with two nights before.
“Sounds logical.” Sean agreed thoughtfully as he cast a look around the pleasant enough farm house, as it was a good size for him and their companions, and hadn’t been abandoned so long that it had fallen into too much disrepair yet.
“I simply have to inform Marcus, and gain the deed for this property if there is one.” Haven continued.
“Well, you should be the expert on moving around, and setting up new lives.” Sean stated quietly.
“That I am.” Haven smiled back before continuing, “I’d like you to accompany me to Marcus’ again tonight, as he was interested in getting to know my childe as well.” Haven added.
“Just me?” Sean asked, looking back at Claire a little warily, though she made no verbal response of her own.
“Well, maybe if you hit it off well enough, he’ll want to meet with yours, as well, soon.” Haven returned with the same gentle smile towards Claire, “Don’t worry, Chantarell will stay here to keep your lovely wife company in our absence.”
“Just Chantarell?” Sean asked.
“Well, Ana will be with me, in case he wants us to stay more than a night.”
“What about Baila?” Sean finally returned, though even more quietly.
“That’s up to you. She is your servant, after all, Sean.” Haven reminded in the same quiet tone.
Sean was quiet a moment as he thought over his options, finally speaking again, “I don’t want to leave Claire unprotected, but at the same time, Baila’s supposed to be watching over me during the day, as well.” he thought aloud, not wanting to have to leave Baila alone with either Claire, or himself.
“Chantarell or Baila are both capable of watching over Claire, especially for only one day or so. Though, maybe it is time you did get that second servant, Sean….for a few reasons.” he added pointedly as he cast another glance toward Claire before continuing, “Ana and I will be leaving in an hour or so, so make sure you, or you and Baila, will be ready to leave then.”
After Haven left the room again, Sean’s eyes turned back to Claire before he spoke up again, “Which would you prefer? Having to spend time with Baila yourself, or her coming with me?” he asked softly.
Claire just scoffed, “Like he said: Your servant, your choice, Sean.” she stated simply, focusing her attention on the stitching of her dress rather than letting herself look up to meet his gaze.
“Claire, my choice is whatever you’re more comfortable with.” he assured her.
“Not really thrilled by either, Sean, but I know that’s not realistically an option.”
“God, just take her with you, Sean. I haven’t spent much time with Chan lately, anyway.” she added to lighten the statement which was sharpened not only by her emotions, but also by her growing hunger after having used up a large portion of what little blood she had stored up, during the previous night, as she still rarely fed.
“Are you sure?” he asked again.
“Sean.” she stated firmly.
“Ok.” he said as he turned to the door with a slight sigh, “But I think he may be right, about us needing a second servant. Think about it, ok?” he gently prodded before finally leaving the room again.
After Haven, Ana, Sean, and Baila left the farmhouse that night, Claire moved thru the half open door of the master bedroom that Chantarell was tucked into, reading thru some of Sean’s writing with a smile.
Claire plopped down onto the bed with a sigh as Chantarell looked over at her from the chair nearby, raising an eyebrow as she did, “Problem?” Claire just shook her head and sighed again, “And have you gotten paler?” she asked with concern.
“I haven’t been in the sun for three months, nor will I be ever again, remember?” Claire stated with a bitterness not really directed toward her current companion.
“But when was the last time you ate?” Chan asked her with concern as she set aside the writing.
“Last week, I suppose.” Claire answered quietly.
“Claire.” Chantarell returned with a bit of disapproval obvious as she moved toward the bed.
“I’ve got bigger problems, Chan.” she returned sadly.
“Bigger problems than keeping yourself alive?” Chan asked, raising that brow again as she reached Claire’s side.
“Feels like it.” Claire mumbled.
“You’re going to have explain that one, you know.” Chantarell told her wryly as she sat next to her.
“Baila’s already tried to get him to sleep with her once that I know of. They’re going to be alone together all night, and now he wants to add yet another person who will most likely want him just as much as she does.” Claire blurted out all her thoughts at once, her voice shaking as she did.
“Another servant you mean?” Chantarell asked, easily following her statements, rushed though they were.
“Yeah, another person bound to him and in love with him; another person whose addicted to the idea of being as close to him as possible.” Claire reiterated sadly.
“But only the Princes and some of the Primogen usually have more than one. At least in the first few decades.” Chantarell furrowed her brow again, “Haven has two now because I was born into his home. It was a bit of an extenuating circumstance. As was Viola's situation.” another pause, as she quickly moved past the mention of the girl, “Plus, he's had a lot more time to figure out this whole existence than either you, or Sean. Are you sure that it isn’t you who is meant to get a new servant?” she clarified.
“Well that’s what they originally said.” Claire shook her head, “But still, that’d be yet another woman around with urges that she can’t help having, and Haven’s dance card is already pretty full.” she sighed.
Chantarell thought on the words a moment, then her bluntness couldn’t help her having to respond, “Who says it has to be another woman?”
“What?” Claire returned quickly, her eyes snapping up to meet Chan’s.
“Why should your servant have to be a woman? Did either of them say that?” Chan continued.
“But…” Claire shook her head, pondering the words, “Ana was different cause she was pregnant and needed someone to take she and the child in. You were different because you were the child in question. But, from what I understand, don’t they usually take in certain types of women. Women who won’t be missed?” she added more quietly.
Chantarell just smiled as she looked down before continuing, “Most of the time, yes, but not all of the time. Think about it. Our father, yes, father, was Haven’s servant too, remember?”
“But…” Claire shook her head, “But there was another issue with your father, because he was a male, a male with those urges. I thought that was the main reason for choosing females now. Cause you and Ana can’t have any children, in spite of those urges. Male servants could father many, many children, and cost many lives, like Sean’s mother’s.” she reminded, her voice dropping, as she spoke the first time of Sean’s history which he had since managed to share with her in the months following her own death.
“From what I understand, the reason he did father both of us is because Haven didn’t at first realize the damage leaving Ezekial to tend to his own needs could cause, until it already had. Haven has gotten a lot more attentive to his servants’ needs since my father. He’s learned the hard way.”
After another pause, Claire replied, “That doesn’t really counter my argument, though.”
“If you were to choose a male servant, he’d have your blood, Sean’s blood, and four women, who can’t conceive, to choose from any time another urge arose.” she added, trying not to play with that last word too long, “It’ll be all right.”
“Four?” Claire blinked back at that part of the sentence, though Chantarell only allowed a brief smile before continuing.
“Listen Claire, all your life, you’ve known, deep inside, that we were always meant to be equals to the men in our lives. Lilith knew it back at the beginning of the human's time on this planet, and we’ve all subconsciously known it since then as well. But because of her fate, the women of the world have always forced that knowledge into the back of their own minds. After all, the ones who didn’t have been persecuted, and even burned, for it. But there are still some of us who they haven‘t gotten to yet.” she added with a smile, “And you are one of those who still consciously know that we’re meant to be equals, and Sean claims to know it too. So make him prove it.” she stated simply.
“Prove it?” Claire asked in a whisper.
“Go, and choose your own servant, like he did. Bring that servant into your lives, like he did. Then it’ll be up to both of you to move on, proving to each other that you are equals, equals who still value each other more than any others, regardless of circumstance. It’ll be the one way to accept Baila, if Sean has to accept a similar addition to your own life. It’s the only way for both of you to get thru this, and move on, together, as equals.” Chantarell assured her firmly.
Another long pause as Claire thought on her words, “All of that aside though, it’s still much easier to find a woman who won’t be missed in society, than it ever is to find a man who won’t.” she said softly.
“But there are men who aren’t really part of this society: Outsiders, just like us. Pagans, just like us.” she smiled, “And quite beautiful too, judging by the few I’ve run across in our travels.” Chantarell had to add, her own desires never completely hidden.
“You mean…you mean the savages?” she asked as she dropped her voice.
“Well, I guess they can have savage moments, here or there.” Chantarell had to add with a little smirk.
“You mean you’ve met them, and gotten that close to them even?” Claire swallowed at the information.
“We’ve traveled around for over a decade, we were bound to cross paths with them sooner or later.” Chantarell stated simply.
“And they didn’t try to kill you?” she added in the same worried tone.
“Well they were scared of us at first, of course, considering how many have been murdered, themselves, by our own kind. But Haven has a way of gaining trust, when he has to. We spent a little time at a camp of theirs not that far from here when we traveled this way last. You should come and meet them. They’re different than what you’ve been taught to think. All the things you’ve heard about them, are probably just as true as all those nasty rumors you originally heard about us evil witches, after all.” she smiled again, and gave Claire’s shoulder a gentle squeeze.