...and damn me, too.
Previous - this entry written on January 24, 2006 at 3:14 am - Next

I should be sleeping.

Instead, I'm wandering the House in my mind, fingers touching a shelf here, a picture there, finding this place far more real than anything else. So many rooms... several I've already written, the library, the kitchen, the attic, the front entrance, even a few of the closets. Others have been touched upon, things in old, old tales of mine... the rooms on the lowest level, down a flight of stairs that extends all the way from the floor my bedroom is on to the ground floor and two more stories' worth beyond that, come swiftly to mind. There is a decent-sized stable; the House sits on several acres of land, much of it open enough to be pleasant to ride in. There are, of course, secret passages and hidden rooms.

Right now it's one of those hidden rooms that has caught my attention. Think of it as an alchemist's laboratory and bolt-hole... although few alchemists would keep cages large enough to hold a person in their workroom. It's here that the potions and tinctures and herbal syrups are mixed, here where drugs are kept and poisons, carefully labeled, are hidden in a secret nook.

The room is empty. Bare, compared to its usual state - many of the beakers and jars and flasks have been tucked away, the books are shelved instead of lying open on the tables, the cages are unoccupied...

...except one cage. There is one cage that is not empty. I've been sitting for an hour on a small wooden stool, staring at him. He's been sitting on the cage floor, a scrap of rough blanket wound around his hips, his back against the wall, staring at me. No words. Just that long exchange of gazes.

He didn't expect to be brought into this room; didn't know this room existed, I think, until he was led here, blindfolded. He expected to be taken down to the rooms belowground, or deposited at my feet in the library, or perhaps turned over to whoever was in the kitchen, to serve there for a while. Instead he is here, sprawled in a cage.

He'd looked around quite eagerly when the blindfold was stripped off, though it was only a second after its removal that he was pushed down, shoved into the cage, and the door locked. From there I know he can't see much of the room, but enough, no doubt, to give him some clue regarding its purpose. I could see the moment he realized what sort of a room it was, and then his confusion as he tried to guess why he'd been brought here.

After a few minutes of that, his expression stilled, schooled once more into the calm mask he so determinedly holds. I said nothing, and so he said nothing, just waited. Watching.

I wanted to scream, sitting there. Perhaps to throw things, to drag him out, beat him, hurt him, anything to get a response. Instead I simply sat and stared intently.

An hour passed... then two... and by now he'd shifted position several times, as had I, neither of us looking away for more than a moment. He'd not been fed today and only given scraps yesterday; there were still faint bruises on the side of his face and on his back; he hadn't been allowed anything to drink today, leashed in place before he was showered off to prevent him from gulping even a few drops. He knew how to earn food and water, how to avoid the beatings... and yet it seemed of late that he was going out of his way to be punished.

Three hours now. Three hours, and finally his head lowered, gaze falling, staring at the floor of the cage while he shifted to his knees, the scrap of blanket that had been in the cage when he arrived now pushed to one side, no longer covering him. I can't express how beautiful he was in that moment, finally surrendering, however slight the act might be. It was enough.

A small sink in one corner of the room provided water; I poured a beaker full of it and returned to him, kicking the stool over until I could sit on it and reach easily inside the cage. His head was still bowed, he knew better than to raise it once he had submitted; this was becoming an old game between us and he knew the rules quite well.

My hand slipped between the bars, palm up, a teaspoon or so of water held in the cupped palm. I told him to rise and drink.

He hated doing it. Hated himself for being too thirsty to refuse. It was visible in his movements, his posture, his frustration and shame were there for anyone to see. It did him no good. The first taste of water was enough to make his thirst even stronger, and it took only a minute before his head was bowed again, his hands crossed carefully behind his back, that lovely voice of his pleading softly to be allowed another drink. He begged well, prettily, and I rewarded his words with a few more sips of water, making sure he begged for each one.

...and that is where my mind keeps leaving off. That moment, watching him drink, hearing him beg... from there it simply loops back, like listening to a song on repeat, over and over again. I can see him so clearly it hurts. Every time, I keep hoping that he'll beg sooner, or that he'll say something that matters, or... or a lot of things. *twitch* But it's just mental rambling, it means nothing.

Damn it, I don't want to miss you like this.

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