Interlude: Manira

It had been days, almost an entire week, since she’d last talked to Dr. Regine and Ambrus. The succubus who was also Manira had gone about her life like normal over that week; the geasa wrapped around her didn’t allow her to do anything but. On top of that, if she was going to be trapped being a teenager indefinitely, she might as well give in and enjoy it.

She was cy’Linden, and Linden-Blossom hadn’t seen fit to kick her out of its cy’ree - So much easier to keep an eye on you if you’re close at hand, and, besides, who else would have you? - and she was learning that her cy’ree had a certain reputation amongst older students. Even a sweet 4-H farm-girl could be forgiven getting a little wild, with company like that. And now, with the excuse of “study sessions,” (funny how Agatha’s name had slipped off the invite list for Saturday’s party), innocent little Manira was getting quite an education.

She should have been overjoyed and overfed. The Nedetakaei dragon was gone, the mighty warriors were busy tracking down the kids it had stolen, and, for the first time since getting shanghaied, she had an excuse to really enjoy herself. What’s more, she no longer had to worry that her secret would get out; her fellow students would never guess and the staff seemed invested in keeping her where she was.

And if that had been all her punishment - stay where you are, keep doing what you’re doing, and talk to Professor Drake in your spare time - she would have been a happy, happy Daeva. But Regine had put her chastisement in the hands of her pet, and then said tasty little morsel had vanished; disappeared without so much as a word. It was only a chance remark at the “study session” that let Manira know where he’d gone, and why: off to rescue his son from a dragon.

If the source of her gossip hadn’t also mentioned that he’d returned, she would have considered herself well out of it. Half-breeds not even halfway through their first century did not go after full-blooded monsters. Those who chose a life Kept by another’s will did not fight at all.

But he had gone, so insisted her source, and, lovely as he was, he couldn’t lie to her, and he’d returned, the bloody, battered, but still-breathing remnants of his son and the son’s girlfriend with him.

Manira was both awed and livid. He, who she’d had to charm nearly to insensibility just to get a date from, had gone off, without permission from his Keeper, left his collar (That damned collar. His damned love for that damned woman, past any sensibility) and stolen his Owner’s car. For some woman’s whelp he’d happened to seed, and a girl that he’d felt some minor lust for. And he’d come back, whole, with the children still alive.

And he’d done it all without a single word to her. Her entire fate was in his hands, and he’d just gone haring off after a dragon and not even bothered to tell her he was back. The information had soured the party for her, and even the sweet, uncertain lust of the boy under her and his sweet, darting tongue (the half-breed Becomings led to some tasty, tasty variations on a theme, but she’d never had a lizard-boy before) couldn’t completely distract her from her annoyance.

She hadn’t been able to get the boy to come home with her, either, not without tricks she was unwilling to stoop to for someone barely away from his mother’s apron strings, which meant that she was spending Sunday morning alone and chaste and, once again, nervously awaiting Ambrus’ arrival and the determination of her fate.

What if he didn’t show at all? What if his idea of revenge was to leave her on tenterhooks for the rest of the year, for the rest of her time at this damned school? What if she was so unimportant to him, so low a priority, that without her charm pulling him, he’d forgotten about her altogether?

By the time the knock finally came at her door, late in the morning, she had worked herself into a full righteous rage. How dare he keep her waiting! How dare he treat her like nothing! She yanked the door open, ready to give him a piece of her mind…

…and fell silent at his expression.

“I’m here to discuss your punishment,” he said. “May I come in?”


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