Dialog 5: Witches and Warlocks

by Dustin Evermore and Lisa Hartjes

Strong Bow guided the BMW into the parking lot of the hotel. The Marriot Ypsilanti, like most hotels of the Marriot line had the look of efficiency and quality. It was also well out of Fianna's very limited price range.

"Mahpiya, may I ask why you wish to visit this hotel?" Strong Bow asked as he opened the Fianna's door for her. There was a tense undercurrent of concern and perhaps even jealousy in the Indian's voice.

Fianna stepped out and stood up. She smiled, pleased with his concern and touched his cheek as she might an old, dear friend. Strong Bow wasn't used to Fianna allowing anyone touch her, much less see her touch someone else. Fianna had allowed him a taste of her vitae only an hour ago and the seductive, sensual power it gave him opened his senses and his passions. He blushed, ruddy cheeks deepening to rosy red.

"Strong Bow, don't worry about me. I'm here to meet a friend, not stay the day." She place her other hand reassuringly upon his shoulder. "I want you to accompany me today. I want you to begin to understand how we spirits of the night, sky, and the earth interact. Sometimes we may revel in the bodies we have been given. Sometimes we shall maneuver for power over others of our kind. Sometimes we come together to learn and grow. It is time for you to learn that there is a much larger, more beautiful, and even more dangerous world out there. Are you ready?"

Strong Bow looked down into Fianna's eyes. In spite of his greater height and strong build, just then he looked like an eager boy finally touched by the woman he'd had a crush on for years. This would mark the first time he was really included and he wanted it very badly. By now, he thought of little else other than Fianna and knew that he needed her. He would do anything for her if she would but deign to look upon him, touch him. Or give him a taste of her Vitae. "Yes, Mika. I am ready," he breathed, as he leaned, hoping against hope that she might do more than just touch him.

Fianna released him and stepped around the car door, taking her soul-caressing gaze from him. "Strong Bow, I would like you to call me Fianna when we are in the white man's world. It is the name I allow those who are not of the Tribe to use. I do not wish outsiders to hear the sacred name."

"Yes, Fianna. I understand." Fianna could sense his disappointment that she turned away and knew that he would blame himself for some imagined mistake. After 800 years of being one herself, she knew exactly what a bonded human, a ghoul, would think and knew his every move before he made it.

The two entered the hotel. Neither of them wore clothes more classy that T-shirts and blue jeans. In Fianna's case, it was a pair of cutoff jeans that showed off her legs, while her companion just wore an old shirt, untucked and worn blue jeans. The management of this hotel wasn't paranoid enough to inconvenience guests with metal detectors. If they had, they would have discovered that Fianna's bodyguard carried a .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol tucked in the front of his pants under his shirt.

Beren had already given them a room number, so they wasted no time moving to the elevator under the curious, watchful gaze of staff and guests. Fianna got the distinct impression that they were poorly dressed for this place. In addition, they didn't seem used to the presence of Native Americans.

They got out at the top floor and looked down the hall. There weren't many rooms up here since each door was widely spaced along the corridor. Fianna turned to head the direction she thought Beren's room might be and nearly bumped into Andre.

Andre was standing there smiling at her dressed only in swimming trunks and a towel around his shoulders. He still looked wet. Strong Bow was *not* smiling.

Fianna smiled politely at him. "Excuse me Andre. I didn't see you there. Is Berengiere available in her room?"

He flicked a glance at Strong Bow, deftly captured Fianna's hand and placed a caressing kiss on the row of first knuckles. "We have been waiting for you to visit again. I've missed seeing you." There was an almost imperceptible pause after the word 'missed', and Fianna could see the wicked humor in Andre's eyes, though his face was calm.

"She should be finished dealing with her business contacts by now. I find all that stuff boring, so I went for a swim. The suite's this way," he said, pointing down the passageway behind Fianna and Strong Bow.

Andre led the way down the corridor, and pulled a key card out from inside his swimming trunks. Before he opened the door, he turned to Strong Bow. "I'm going to have to ask you to give me your gun before we go in. Be assured that your mistress' safety is guaranteed once she steps through this door. Berengiere de Valcour takes her obligations of hospitality very seriously."

The big Lakota cocked his head for a moment and then nodded. He pulled out the gun, dropped the magazine and cleared the chamber. He handed the full clip to Fianna and handed the now-harmless weapon to Andre. Fianna crammed the clip into the back pocket of her cutoffs. It made an ungainly bulge in her tight pants, which served to prove that her buttocks were as firm as they looked.

Fianna looked up at Andre. "I, too, have come to enjoy our little gatherings. It felt strange not to see Berengiere." She paused. "I do hope that it is all right that I have asked Strong Bow to come. I want him to get used to being close to me. It is time that I allowed him to be a proper bodyguard, but I don't intend to let it intrude too much."

"While I have told Beren that I would be more than willing to guard your body while visiting us," Andre said with a grin as he tucked the pistol away and opened the door, then his demeanor turned a bit more serious. "I understand the need for someone you can hold close to protect you. I have had the privilege of performing that service for Lady Berengiere since shortly after she was Embraced." He pushed the door open, and invited Fianna and Strong Bow to enter the suite. The door swung shut and locked automatically behind them.

Fianna did something unexpected and playful. She gave Andre a friendly punch in the shoulder. "You dog!" she laughed. "Guard my body, indeed!" Strong Bow looked from one to the other uncertainly for a moment and then broke into a tentative grin.

Andre looked at Fianna in surprise, and then a grin covered his face. "Woof, woof," he said with a chuckle.

The living room area they had walked into was luxurious, but nowhere near as opulent as the house Fianna was accustomed to meeting Berengiere. Floral arrangements were scattered throughout the room, filling it with their gentle fragrance.

"This is a very nice room you have found, Andre," Fianna said approvingly.

"Thank you, Fianna," Andre replied. "It is one of the hotel's better suites." He tossed the towel over the back of a chair. "If you'll wait for just a moment," Andre said, "I'll tell her you're here." As he turned, one of the bedroom doors opened and a diminutive figure appeared, saying something in a language that sounded vaguely like French as she spun in place.

At first, Fianna almost didn't recognize Berengiere. Her hair was cut short in a pageboy style and was wet, as if she had just washed it, but it was a brilliant shade of red. She was wearing a cross between a bra and a halter-top that made Berengiere's breasts appear more luscious and ample. The matching denim shorts could barely be called shorts. They barely skimmed her hips, dipping down low beneath her belly button, and the fringe of the slightly frayed leg holes made any attempt to cover the bottom of the curve of her buttocks. The vast, bare expanse of alabaster skin between the two was unadorned, save for a silver ring piercing her belly button. On her feet were a pair of scarlet shoes with three inch stiletto heels. Every move she made just screamed, "fuck me".

When Beren saw Fianna, a genuine smile curved her scarlet-painted lips. "Fianna, welcome! I wasn't expecting you quite yet." The smile turned into a grin as her eyes surveyed Strong Bow. "And welcome to you as well, Strong Bow."

Fianna stared in surprise at the daring, bold outfit. She heard Strong Bow suck air and give a low whistle. "Strong Bow!" she scolded. But her voice was not harsh as she continued, "Don't be rude."

He cleared his throat, "I apologize for the outburst, Lady Berengiere," he said clearly and honestly.

Fianna smiled and winked at Beren. "At home I encourage my people to speak their mind. But I must admit. You look dressed to kill tonight." Fianna stole a glance at Andre and it was obvious that Beren's manservant approved. Swimsuits didn't hide very much.

"No offense taken, Strong Bow," Beren replied with a smile. "You just gave me the exact response I was hoping to get from virile young men."

Beren turned her attention back to Fianna. "What do you think," she asked, looking down at herself. "I was planning on going hunting tomorrow, and was trying on some outfits while I was waiting."

"Oh, I believe you will have your pick. You might want to carry a big old shillelagh to drive some of them off!" Fianna chuckled.

Beren chuckled.

Fianna gracefully crossed the floor to stand close to Beren. "Beren, a lot of things have happened." There was no mistaking the happy light in her eyes. Something had changed for the better.

"Oh really," Beren said with a mischievous smile, her distinctive scent mingling with the flowers. "Does it involve you, me, and what happened in the bathtub?" She chuckled.

Fianna thought about it. "Part of it does, actually. But several parts do not. I'll tell you the bad news and then lighten things up with good news. The first is that Roma knows about you and she knows about these meetings. Yet, she doesn't disapprove. In fact, she doesn't seem to care, so long as it doesn't interfere with clan business."

For a brief instant, Fianna could see the darkness of centuries in Berengiere's eyes. Beren turned away from her and walked over to one of the chairs and sat down. Andre moved to stand next to her and asked her something in that language that Fianna didn't recognize. Beren glanced up at him and gave a brief shake of her head. He bent down and placed a kiss at the sensitive spot on her neck, then went into the bedroom that Beren had come out of.

"What did Roma tell you about me," Beren asked.

"She said she knows of you from times passed, although there was no direction connection. She knows you may portray yourself as a Ventrue but are not." Fianna watched Beren calmly, through curious eyes. "She knows what you are and she wanted me mention this.

Beren nodded, as if expecting the answer Fianna gave. "Roma and I have crossed paths before," she said simply, "but we are neither enemies nor allies." She shifted her position in the chair. "When you see her again, tell her I got her message, and that I am content to stay where and as I am and watch the world."

Fianna nodded and replied, "I will. And that reminds me. Roma took me aside and spoke to me about my future and what is intended with the last Lhiannon. Berengiere, she trusts me a lot with this stuff. She is very serious about this project she and Meerlinda have created and of which I am the subject. It is my perception that Roma is using tactics that are not typical of the Tremere and does not endear her to rival Regents and Lords. I have learned that I have very serious enemies even within the clan because they know I am not one of them."

Fianna drifted restlessly about the room. Strong Bow watched a moment, then spoke up. "Mah- Fianna. What is this Roma? And Meerlindia? What are they to a being of power, such as you?"

"Strong Bow, all societies have an hierarchy of power, be it obvious or subtle. This is especially true of being of supernatural power, although the lines of authority are not obvious to mortal kind."

"So there are others like you?"

"Yes, Strong Bow, there are. Do not be misled by their mere physical appearance. They all have their own priorities and agendas. Some of them, if they knew about our people, would attempt to use them for their own ends. You know the capriciousness of the spirits."

"Yes, Fianna. The legends are full of them."

"Now, Roma is an ancient being who has a desire to grant me power. Because I am allied with her, this will also indirectly grant her more power."

Strong Bow nodded silently. He stared thoughtfully at the floor. He smiled and looked back at Fianna. "If it is good for you, it is good for the Tribe."

"Precisely. Now listen with your ears, not your mouth. You can ask me questions later." Fianna wandered over to a chair and paused, leaning on its back as she continued. "Roma has arranged for the arrival of my new apprentice. She knew just what I would look for. Roma told me she would take the apprentice away from a Tremere who was once a druid, destroy the bond he holds her in and hand her to me. I think it is perfectly fitting, of course, although the act will not win Roma points for popularity. But there are advantages to being Meerlinda's grand-Childer. Especially when it is made known that she carries out Meerlinda's will. The apprentice will already have a rudimentary understanding in the ancient matters only I can truly train her in. In addition, the Clan will readily accept her. Then, with the capture of the last Lhiannon in Ireland, Roma has devised a plan to ensure my own acceptance."

Fianna turned and looked into Beren's eyes. Fianna was covered in a fierce aura of wild energy. "It will not be long before I will be able to seize the respect I deserve and be given a new destiny." Something in her eyes said there was immense power lurking around the corner. But this time, it was *her* power.

Beren sat back at looked at Fianna silently. At that moment, Andre walked out of the bedroom. He paused to gaze at Fianna for a moment, and then moved over to Strong Bow.

"Our mistresses have something they need to discuss that is not appropriate for our ears. Come with me into the room over there", Andre said, indicating one of the other bedrooms, "while they talk, and there are things I wish to speak to you about."

Strong Bow looked to Fianna and she nodded her approval. He left with Andre.

"I have something for you," Berengiere said as she stood in a fluid movement. "Two small gifts, one of which will help you achieve a measure of the power and respect you wish to gain." She walked over to the desk in the corner and opened the top drawer. When she turned back to face Fianna, Beren was holding a box that would hold a necklace, and an envelope.

The elder vampire moved to stand in front of Fianna and presented her with the box. "This is more for Strong Bow than for you, though it would suit both of you equally," Beren said.

Fianna opened the box to see a long, slender knife nestled in the black velvet interior. It looked elegant and deadly, and she suddenly realized that the blade was bone white, and did not have the look of steel.

Fianna looked at the gift with surprise. "It's beautiful!"

"The entire knife is made of porcelain," Beren offered before Fianna had a chance to speak. "It carries a razor sharp edge and cannot be detected by metal detectors. It is, however, relatively fragile. Be careful not to strike a hard surface, especially something like the edge of a table, with it, or the blade will be damaged. One it is damaged, it is very hard to regain the edge."

Fianna looked int the box and studied the knife, although she did not touch it. "You are very kind, Berengiere" She carefully closed the box and set it aside. She reached for Beren's hand and held it in hers. She brought it to her lips and kissed it. "Thank you. Does this mean you are not angry with me because of Roma? I said nothing of you to anyone. I do not know how she found out." She looked hopefully back at Beren.

"What would make you think I was angry with you, ma petite?" Beren asked with a smile. "Roma, like myself and all other Kindred of power, have their network of spies. It was only a matter of time before she learned I was here. I am not without a certain measure of... position within Kindred society, so as much as I would prefer to remain anonymous, it is not in the cards for me."

Fianna smiled and the small cloud of concern that had formed left her eyes.

Beren looked down at the envelope in her hands, then back at Fianna. The younger vampire could see the anger in her eyes. "Someone has stolen one of my... one of the students who attend the University here. I suspect it was the Sabbat pack that has cursed this area with its presence."

"Those meddling scum!" Spat Fianna. "They have trod upon our feet too long."

"The pack may be hiding during the day at a trailor park at the west end of the city." Beren handed the envelope to Fianna. "You received this information from an anonymous source. Memorize the information, then return the paper to me before you leave."

Fianna read the paper, noting the address of the trailor park and the description of the missing student. Then she put it down to listen to Beren.

"If the student is still alive, do what you can to help him. If he has been made one of them, destroy him." There was a hard edge to Berengiere's voice, as if she was taking what had happened to the student personally.

Fianna watched Beren for a moment in silence. She seemed both a touch surprised and a little bit upset. It was a sympathetic emotion instead of an accusing one.

"May I?" She gestured to the balcony. "I think I need some air."

Beren nodded.

Fianna walked to the balcony. Her movements were just noticeably rhythmic, and the lines of her hips slid and moved with the precision of decades of careful training. An image of her as the priestess she might have once been nearly nineteen centuries passed slipped into the onlooker's imagination briefly. It was easy to believe that a mortal, seduced by that body and the promise that must have been in her eyes, would have believed anything she told them. If only they could be close her.

Fianna pushed aside the curtains and the glass door and stepped onto the balcony. She placed her hands on the rail and gazed up into the clear night sky. The moon was still aloft and waxing past the half phase. Wind rustled her hair gently as she scanned the night sky.

Out of the corner of her eye, Fianna noticed the lights in the living room turned off, and Beren moved to stand in the doorway behind Fianna.

"It is always fascinating." She pointed at the North Star and her finger traveled higher into the sky, stopping at the 'M'-shaped constellation of Cassiopeia. "I trace the lines of fate in the night sky, but am still surprised by the weave of the paths we take.

"Two years ago I looked up into the sky and saw the line of my fate ending. It wasn't until later that I discovered that it hadn't really ended. It had simply *moved*, from there," she pointed to a series of faintly glowing specks a few degrees away," to there."

She lowered her hand and looked further north in the sky. "Berengiere, do you see that constellation? I believe they call it the great bear, or big dipper in this language. I have noticed that my friend, Nuyen, has a fate that is often symbolized by what happens in that constellation. A few nights ago, I saw a new star appear within it. Do you see? It is elongated into a short, fine line now. Although the line spreads to the west, I see that it has been moving, directly to my stars, over there."

She turned and looked very seriously at Beren. "A few nights ago, after we killed the demon worshipper, that Nefandi I spoke of earlier, he offered to help me rid the area of the Sabbat infestation. I did not think I would be involved at the time. But I did not read the stars. It is clear, now, that I was wrong. The comet that we see is a harbinger of change, often violent change. It is written in the stars, therefore, that he and I will face this danger. And as the moon grows brighter, I grow stronger. It means that his allies will also participate. A Ventrue hunter and a Brujah cop. The lunar eclipse does not happen until next month. This is a good omen for success.

"Now you can see for yourself, my beautiful friend. It is fated that we will kill these Sabbat for you and for all of us." She looked back up at the sky. "We will do it soon."

"Do you see me in the stars," Beren asked softly. Fianna was surprised to find her standing at her elbow, Beren's skin glowing like the finest marble under the starlight. For a moment, Fianna glimpsed what Andre and so many others longed and lusted for, an angel that treaded the night, an angel that came out of the darkness to give them their hearts' desires.

Fianna smiled and looked back up into the sky. "I do not know the month you were born, or the month you were embraced. But it is my feeling that this constellation most closely parallels what I know of you." Fianna picked out a series of stars. At first, the connection between them was not obvious. "The Greeks did not identify even a small portion of the constellations we do, because they did not overlap the patterns in the sky. They did not realize that the heavens, like all life, are connected on many levels.

"This group is what we call the little Dragon. It is not Draco as they would term it now. But its eye that you see is made up of what they now call the Seven Sisters. The Pleiades." Beren could see now that this star group was close to Fianna's own.

"Every few years, it grows a tail, which is made of a moving star. It is a planet, but the name for it in English or Greek eludes me at the moment." Beren could see the planet had a feint yellowish tinge to it. Perhaps Saturn. Now, the "tail" of the little dragon clearly crossed Fianna's constellation. In fact, it had just entered this stellar group.

"But if you look at it as this one showing the tip of the tail, you can see the Little Dragon's mood as the tail thrashes to and fro in the night sky as the months go by." Fianna looked at Beren and watched her intently.

"A dragon, am I," Beren said with a soft chuckle. "What characteristics does this dragon have? And what does it mean that 'my' tail - which I'm pretty sure is the planet Saturn - is playing amongst your stars?"

Fianna gazed back up at the stars. "The little dragon is noted for having seductive powers and wisdom, although its motivations are always alien and unknowable. Caution is always advised when dealing with the little dragon." She looked back at Beren and smiled, "Yet I rarely take my own good advice."

"Berengiere," she continued, "I told you things were going pretty well for me right now. That includes the matter between Celeste and myself. She's let me control the pace and activity of… what is going on and she has accepted the wisdom in taking our time and enjoying things in a natural progression. But I'm still lacking in experience in certain areas. I would like to be better prepared both for this and my tasks regarding the Brujah, Alfonse. And I could think of no better teacher, no one else I could trust with this…" Fianna was just able to keep from looking away in embarrassment and met Beren's gaze with a both hope and anticipation.

Berengiere's eyes held Fianna's. "What exactly are you asking of me," she asked, her every demeanor calm and neutral.

"You have allowed me to open enough that I can give. But sooner or later, Celeste will want to be the one to give. I don't want to panic and I don't want to freak out. She doesn't understand my past, and I really don't want to relive it in front of her." She sounded small, like a little Irish girl for a moment.


"I want her to know me as I am and as I am becoming. I don't want her to think of me as emotionally crippled." Fianna cast her eyes down and partly turned away.

"Are you sure you're ready for that," Beren queried softly.

"As ready as I ever will be. I don't know that I will like it. Maybe I won't. But at least I want to learn to control myself. I don't want to behave like a maimed animal anymore."

"I will be a *very* demanding teacher, during our sessions, and I will insist on being the one in control."

Fianna looked back at Beren. She didn't know what Beren meant by that. But she nodded in quiet acceptance.

"You probably won't like some of the things I ask you to do."

She nodded again. "I expect that. But if no blood is exchanged and no powers are used, I do not see the harm."

"Come back inside," Beren said, walking back into the darkened living room. Fianna followed her.

"Are you certain you want this," Beren asked one final time. "Roma, amongst others, may consider my doing this as an attempt to gain undue influence over you."

Fianna thought about it. "I think that if we follow simple rules, then Roma will not be alarmed. It can be only two. No blood. No powers. But I must ask one other thing. It is hard for me to imagine that sex alone could influence me."

"If you think that I require my powers to make you scream in ecstasy, you are sadly mistaken," Beren said with a shake of her head. "Sex is a very powerful thing. For some, it can become an addiction. It is more than just a tool, Fianna. It is a means of self-expression and the sharing of one's self. With a mortal, be it ghoul or kine, it is a way to make feeding far more pleasurable for both of you. The act of feeding from a person, rather than a goblet or bowl, can provide the same pleasure as sex.

"It is very rare that one of the kindred of my advanced... age find pleasure in it. For most, the act of feeding is enough, and they lose all interest in the mortal act of intercourse. My sire took my virginity and my mortality in a single act." Beren chuckled softly, and a sweet smile of remembrance curved her lips. "He told me I was greedy then, and the greed and hunger for him did not fade in the four hundred years we were together. After all these centuries, I still long for his touch and his taste, the very feel of him inside me, driving into me like no mortal could." The smile on her lips turned into a grin. "Once we broke the solid marble altar of a small cathedral in Paris."

Beren visibly pulled herself back to the present. "Now, what's this about 'only two'? Two what? Two sessions? Two people? And I cannot promise no blood. I will not force you to drink mine, but I do like to bite. I will ask first, of course, but I have found that a little nip here and there heightens the sensation. And do not fear that I risk becoming bonded to you. My heart and soul belong to another."

"Rules. Just those two rules," replied Fianna, but her voice was distant as she mentally chewed on what Beren told her. What Beren was telling her was that she was going to have to do this more than once. She leaned heavily on the counter top of the bar, disappointed and full of doubt. She put her head in her hand and sighed. "I did not know it was so complicated. I thought it was simple because kine do it all the time."

"Ma petite," Beren said softly. "Just because they do it all the time doesn't mean anything. It can be simple. It can be quick. That is not to say it cannot be pleasurable. However, most people - especially men - pride themselves on their 'staying power'; their ability to do it as long and as often as possible. A man's ability to control himself until his partner has climaxed at least once is held to be in very high regard. Most women want a lover who will tend to their needs and make sure they orgasm at least once. Everyone is different. You need to learn what you want, how to figure out what your lover wants, and how to give it to them. A sexual relationship where one person only gives and the other person only takes will not be satisfactory nor will it last for very long."

Berengiere tilted her head slightly and looked at Fianna.

Fianna thought about her friendship with Celeste. Was it purely due to physical attraction that Celeste liked her? She knew that she really liked Celeste as a person. She wasn't sure physical closeness was important to her, but it did seem to be very important to Celeste. If Celeste became bored with her, would she loose her friend? She hoped not. But then, friends were very rare in this world and she didn't think she could afford the loss.

Celeste was still very young as a person and as a vampire. She may need time to develop depth, or Fianna could be simply wrong about her. The stars Fianna read said she was wrong, that she should simply stay the course and things would work out, as they should. But her heart twisted and fretted with worry and made her doubt her own reading.

Beren watched silently as emotions warred across Fianna's face. The Gaelic vampire pushed away from the counter and looked at Beren. "Please show me. I need to learn."

Beren shook her head. "Not until you can tell me exactly why you want to learn. Is it for yourself? Is it to please Celeste? Are you looking for another weapon for your arsenal?"

Fianna nodded. She knew that she needed to grow as a person, too. She must learn to chase away baseless fears. She had to break down her own walls before she could grow. One day soon, she would have an apprentice to teach, and it would not be well for the teacher to understand less of the world than the student. "Yes. It is because I wish to grow, it would please Celeste and yes I will use it as a weapon, as well."

"I do this for you, and only for you, Fianna," Beren whispered, taking a step closer. "You should do this to please yourself, and to only please yourself. Changing to please others is a useless task, and you will never like what you end up as."

The text here is EXPLICIT! and generally unnecessary to the story. If you want to read the drivel Lisa and I managed to come up with, click here. This section may require more than "parental guidance". :) You were warned.]

[Beren tucked an exhausted Andre into bed.] "He's going to have one hell of a hangover," Beren chuckled, looking over at Fianna. "Can you say to me now that sex does not have an effect on people?"

Fianna shook her head. "Um. Point taken." She shifted a moment, as if trying to get comfortable. "Thank you for stopping me before I killed Strong Bow." She shuddered with the realization that she could easily have done to him what she had done to Mal. This time, however, she'd had better control and Beren had been watching.

Beren nodded. "I suspected you might have a problem. Most Kindred do at first, tasting the blood of their lover. It will take some time for you to gain control of yourself. Next time, bite Strong Bow on the shoulder. You will get the same effect, and drink less from him. In turn, you must teach him to keep his awareness and control, so he can pull you away if you start to drink too deep."

"Lover? I suppose he is, now." Fianna thought about that a moment.

"Does that thought disturb you," Beren asked as she lounged against the side of the bed, perfectly comfortable with her nudity.

"Yes, of course. This is a problem for me. Ghouls who've had such attention tend to want that attention again. I expect that he will become jealous and I will have to take care to exclude him any time Celeste is around." Fianna pursed her lips and continued regretfully, "I will dislike needing to discipline him, but I expect that will be unavoidable."

"You might be surprised there," Beren replied. "That was one of the other things that Andre talked to him about. Strong Bow was told that it was unlikely he would be your only lover, if you decided to take any, and that it was his duty to help you in any way he could.

"If it meant swallowing his pride, he must do it. If it meant helping you seduce someone, he should be honored that you chose to include him in the task. He 'belongs' to you, not the other way around, and any attentions you care to give him should be considered a gift, not a right.

"If you make it clear to Strong Bow what his position is, it will reinforce what Andre said to him. The key is to make sure that if you do take other ghouls as lovers, that you reserve one particular thing as something special you do, just with them, if you can.

"You also must realize that the very fact you did allow him to make love to you, however briefly, and that you drank from him, has only served to reinforce the bond. If you weren't the center of his universe, you most certainly are now, and he will do anything to please you if it means he may get another chance to experience it.

"If he is anything like Andre was, yes, you will likely need to discipline him, but it may not be any more than a look or a softly spoken word. And be sure that if you must do more than just that, to discipline him in private. To do otherwise - unless is was a great breach of etiquette on his part - could do more harm than good." Beren smiled, and ran a negligent hand through her hair.

"When I was your age, I had lovers by the score. Marriage certainly didn't stop me, for it was an institution promoted by the Church to control women," Beren said. "I still have those I pleasure in bed, if only to make feeding a far more pleasant act for them, but Andre is my only consistent lover. He is the only one with the strength, and I need not fear killing him."

Fianna thought about what Beren said. "The situation that works for you may not work as well for me. Add to that the fact that a relationship with Celeste is progressing and things become more complicated."

She shrugged and continued, "I will work it out one way or the other. Ultimately, this must be the least of my worries. If becomes more than that I will take steps ensure it doesn't." Her voice held a little dread, but was full of determination.

Fianna folded her knees and held them in her arms while she rested her chin upon them. "Will Strong Bow be okay?" She didn't mean physically. "I never allowed him this close to me before. Nowhere even near to it." She nibbled her lip in worry. She knew she couldn't afford to replace him right now and that she'd need him intact when she faced the Sabbat.

"He will be a bit weak, but otherwise okay. Luckily I had some extra blood here, and he is getting a transfusion. Allow him to drink more from you tonight and tomorrow, and that ought to help him rebuild his strength." Beren paused. "If you ever drink so deeply that you sense his heart starting to fail, do not let him drink from you to regain his strength unless you intend to make him your Childe. I would recommend keeping some blood in transfusion bags handy until you both can control yourselves."

"Andre also spoke to him about the possibility of this, so he was at least mentally prepared for it."

Fianna blinked. "Tranz-fuzshun bags? Maybe Strong Bow knows what those are."

"He should," Beren replied. "They're a wonderful modern invention."

"Please excuse me. I need to use your restroom for a minute." Fianna uncurled herself and gracefully stood up. A twinge of pain needlessly reminded her of the new experience she just had and she staggered. Her body had never been used quite that way before and the lesson left her with unfamiliar pains. She paused for a moment to concentrate, burning power within her until the pain was gone. Then she collected her clothes and proceeded, walking with practiced grace.

"Fianna," Beren said, just before Fianna disappeared into the bathroom. "If you were a virgin with your maidenhead intact when you were Embraced, it may repair itself every day while you sleep. Strong Bow, or whomever you choose to have sex with, will feel like they are the first person ever to have made love to you. Some would see it as quite an honor, and others, should they know your nature, will find it very, very appealing."

Fianna shook her head. "No. I had lost that after what I did after I killed Mal. If I wanted that back, I know how I could, but I don't want that." Fianna, didn't explain, but proceeded to the bathroom.

After a few minutes, Fianna came out of the bathroom, hair back in place and shirt neatly tucked into the tops of her cutoffs. She had the box with Beren's gift in it in one hand.

She went to Beren. "Thank you, Berengiere. This has been a very… Educational evening." She smiled sweetly. "And I'm glad we did this." She looked Beren in the eye so her sincerity could be seen.

Beren smiled, no longer naked but wearing what must be one of Andre's shirts. "You are welcome," Berengiere replied. "And I think that after what has transpired this evening that you need not be so formal with me."

Fianna looked pleased. "What does this mean?"

"That means, ma petite, that you do not have to call me Lady Berengiere, or even Berengiere. You have leave to use a diminuitive, so long as I do not consider it offensive," Beren explained with a smile.

She smiled back and nodded. "Beren, what does 'ma petite' mean?"

"It means 'my little one'," Beren replied.

Fianna chuckled softly. "Is that what I am?" but smiled with good humor.

Beren shook her head and laughed. "It's a term of endearment, usually reserved for a female younger than the speaker."

Fianna smiled and looked at Beren for a moment.

"If Strong Bow is ready, we need to be going. We don't have far to go, but the sun will be up soon and I do not wish to expend the energy necessary to withstand it." She looked to stave off any attempt to ask her to stay. "I simply must be at my haven today. Besides, it will give me an opportunity to have a talk with Strong Bow."

Beren frowned slightly. "He may not be able to drive very far, as he will need to rest after being drained so much. Is there some neutral place where one of my people may drive you, and then yours can fetch you?"

Fianna nodded. Soon the logistics were covered and Fianna had departed for the evening.

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