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Dinah Lance blondecanary
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Room 312, Saturday night
Post-luau, Dinah was playing with Camille in her room, music on and thinking of everything that had happened over the last two weeks, including vampires, demons, boys-who-were-girls, and presents and the party and everyone else there.

Loooots to think about.

[for one blonde witch]

"I wouldn't tell you that it was wrong. It wasn't," Karla said, resting her cheek on Dinah's head. "Regardless of circumstances, he was there because he wanted to be and that is important. You didn't trick him or manipulate him into going; the decision was his. Immorality or wrongness comes not in the act, but in denying the right of consent to another."

Consent was a big thing in Kaeleer.

There was a moment or two of quiet while Karla collected her thoughts again. This was a big topic and she knew her propensity for just talking could do Dinah more harm than good. "And while you want to share some characteristics with other-you, you don't want to be like her. You want to be fearless and sexy and confident, and, hell's fire, I'd like to be those, too." The wanting to be sexy thing, at least, was new. "But you wouldn't use your sexiness or fearlessness or confidence the same way she did. You wouldn't explore pain and fear for pleasure. So, you can want to share some common, positive traits, but not want to be like the her that killed Priestly. It's not just the tools you have that are important, it's what you build with them."

Dinah gave a small, rueful laugh, and closed her eyes, emotionally exhausted. "And how dumb is it, that I have to hear someone else say that when it should be obvious?" She sighed, tilting her head further onto Karla's shoulder, and just petting Camille for the moment. Telling Tony had been about comfort and reassurance, knowing someone would love her no matter what she'd done. Telling Karla meant dealing with all this, and as glad as she was to be doing that, it was wiping her out.

Carefully, she unlatched the bracelet, and put it aside, then curled closer to Karla. "Don't ever let anyone tell you you're not good at this."

"Just as dumb as I am, when I need you to remind me that being here doesn't make me a coward or a bad Queen," Karla said, wrapping her arm a little more tightly around Dinah and shifting a bit, soDinah wouldn't be resting on anything particularly bony.

When the bracelet was set aside, Dinah likely felt a warm rush of pleasure, pride, and genuine happiness from Karla. "Thank you, Dinah," she said, trying not to smile too broadly. "I can't tell you how much that means to me."

"People are strange," Dinah muttered as they shifted together, one arm around Karla. "Or pain is, or emotions, I don't know." She thought of Raven and sighed a little sadly. "There should be better ways to learn to deal with all this." She thought of Sam again, and felt something in her chest hurt. "I hope... I hope that guy is okay. I hope he got through that last fight, and is doing something more than just surviving now."

She smiled with her eyes shut as Karla's emotions came though, and sent back, You're welcome. It's the truth. I know I could tell this to Barbara or Helena, and they'd love me and try to help, but I needed to understand it first. They both want to protect me so much. I needed a little distance first.

*I understand,* Karla sent, just a bit of wistfulness echoing down the link. *Their first instinct may be to shield you from the pain. But that only works for awhile. The pain must be confronted and worked through before it can truly leave. You're very brave to have chosen to face it directly. So many don't.*

Karla wasn't being patronizing. In fact, her psychic thread was tinged with the world-weary sorrow of one who had seen too many people turn to other methods of coping.

"I hope this male did, too," she said aloud. "I hope they all did. But, his taste in sexual activities may not change, even as he finds the connection he seeks," she cautioned. "I don't know how your world views these kinds of relationships, but in Kaeleer, we don't see them as unnatural. Unusual, perhaps, but nothing shocking."

Dinah sent back, I wonder if I'm kidding myself, if I'm not dealing, but this feels right. I don't want to be crying about it forever, or make more of it than it was. But it does hurt, and it was confusing, and I just... I can deal, if I don't have to do it in public. Just with a couple friends. She sighed. Helena will get so angry, too. I can't tell her this until I'm mostly okay. She doesn't think, sometimes. She's no Warlord Prince, but she's got her own set of instincts. An image of Helena, furious as hell and near-to-strangling Clayface flitted through mind. I don't need her blaming anyone here for this mess.

More meditatively, Dinah said, "Well, it depends. Some people are pretty harsh about it. They'd call it perverted, or crazy, or evil. Others would just say it's okay if there's consent." She straightened, and reached for her wine, taking a couple gulps, wishing for water, too. "I don't know. I'd hope that he'd find something less deadly to play with. God." She contemplated that. "He could've gotten in so much trouble, from either side, I know that much." She looked down again, shaking her head. "He has those two lovers here. And that shocked me, when I met him. This-him. Not Other-him. But he was just... nice. Kind about me being intimidated by some of the alumni." Dinah snorted. "One woman was fighting Leto in that Weirding Way, and actually doing well. The people who graduate from here are hard-core." Her voice softened again. "I liked him. But I knew he was out of my league. So I didn't really...." She shook her head.

Edited at 2009-08-17 09:17 pm (UTC)

*I know what you mean. I mentioned how Uncle Saetan rising to the killing edge when he first saw me, right?*

An image, a handsome and distinguished-looking man, going silver at the temples shifting into a predatory stance, with frozen eyes. And in a silky croon, the words: Tell me about this school I sent you to. Explain to me why they aren't feeding you. What happened to add this new fragility. Where the headmistress was when this was being done to you...

"Like Helena, though, he does it out of love and concern."

Another image, of the same man, only this time he was by her side, easing her back to the couch, arranging pillows, handing over food. His golden eyes were still worried, but filled with warmth and paternal tenderness.

"In Kaeleer, having two lovers like that would be seen as odder than enjoying sex with an edge of violence," Karla said after she released the images. "The only time violent sex is considered dangerous is when a Warlord Prince goes into rut." She had a feeling Dinah would prefer not to hear about such things and hurried on. "Hopefully that connection will ease whatever was driving him to playing so closely with death. But I'm glad he was kind to you. In both cases."

"Though I would argue him being out of your league," she said with staunch loyalty.

Dinah shook her head at the first image, then calmed at the second. It's exhausting, sometimes. Barbara is better at keeping Helena from doing stupid things than I am. But having somebody who'd protect you no matter what is nice, I know. He looks nice. It's just rough when they don't think of how maybe anger's not what you need. But given Karla's Uncle Morton, it was good to know that her 'Uncle Saetan' was tough enough to take him.

"Yeah? No one goes in for threesomes there?" Dinah found that kind of amusing, that there was finally something about her world that was more weird to Karla than Karla's world was to her. "Rut? Seriously? I just..." Ugh. Okay, no hiding that, but Dinah kept it internal. Sorry. That sounds scary and kind of ... animalistic, I guess. Not appealing. Nope. Especially not having been a slave to her instincts recently. Dinah didn't think she was some hopeless airy romantic, but she'd never have picked that for an idea of what sex would be like.

"Two years older, already taken, really really cute--" Dinah kept her memory of Sam locked down, because she'd asked him not to talk about it, and had to think that this world's Sam would appreciate being recognized that way. "Typical choice I'd make, though." An image of Lee flitted through her head, and she added, The guy I was crushing on around Graduation. Who had a genius girlfriend.


*It's tough when their instincts are pushing them so hard they can't back down. That's why we have Protocol, to have a way to bring them back from the killing edge. Thank the Darkness.*

Karla sighed, leaning back a little. "I'm sure threesomes happen, it's just not a typical lifestyle choice," she said, a little dubiously. It was very much a 'I accept this because there is nothing wrong with it, but it's still totally weird' tone of voice. "Queens can take lovers even when they have Consorts, but it's not a permanent thing. Just a matter of...of convenience, I guess." Yeah, definitely weirder.

*Rut is...not pleasant. For either the female or the Warlord Prince. I suppose if there is already love and trust between them it can be, but...Your impression is not far off.* Karla's shields were a little higher than usual with that psychic thread. Dinah didn't need to see those images.

"So you like males who are handsome, strong, smart, and special, whether than means powers or simply strength of character. Dinah, this is frustrating, surely, but not a bad thing!" Karla said, laughing a bit. "I would rather see you frustrated than with someone unworthy. And you're still young, even for your Virgin Night."

Which was totally different than a serious relationship in Karla's worldview.

And that works? Forgive Dinah for sounding and feeling incredulous. But no mobster or villain she'd ever run into, or cop in a rage, had ever stopped for anything when pissed off. Seriously? Well. Wait. Jesse had. And Barbara. But there was a reason they were her role models for this stuff.

"It's not typical here, either, really. But people would accept it more than the violence. Even if violence is more common." Dinah shook her head. "But so much of it here isn't about choice, I mean, that's why we have battered women's shelters. It's hard for people to separate them, I think." She frowned. "Okay, wait. Consort I get, but they're not the Queen's lover? Or husband? Automatically, I mean."

And yeaaah, Dinah was backing away from that impression of rut that she got from Karla as fast as she could.

"I know. I do. Tony said the same thing." Dinah was quiet, then slowly said, "I guess I'm just tired of being disappointed, and feeling like I set myself up for it. Partly just because the guys here are more likely to have some kind of different viewpoint, you know? I just can't assume anything."

*Following Protocol is ingrained in us from the cradle,* Karla explained. *It's based around the instincts that the Blood already have. If you think there's a male nearby getting dangerous, ask him for help with something. Something physical is best. The males need to serve. It's part of who they are. Asking for help is the easiest way to route their temper towards service. Also, asserting your authority helps. It's...weird, I know.*

Talking about Consorts would hopefully get Dinah's mind off vampires, ruts, and violent sex, at least for the moment. They'd have to return to those topics eventually, but there were limits to facing things head-on.

"A Consort is a contractual position within a Queen's Court. He has the same duties as First Escort, except his duties extend into the bedroom, whereas the First Escort's duties stop at the bedchamber door." Karla took a few more sips of wine, thinking how to out the position in the best possible light. "It's contractual, as I said, which means that a Consort can have a definitive end date to his duties and draws a salary the same way as any other member of the Queen's Court. One would hope that he would be an emotional intimate of the Queen, as his his duties put him in a very particular position with her--politically speaking, I mean!--but he could just be a handsome stranger, I guess. Fidelity is usually expected of him but not required, and as for the Queen, well, it is the lady's privilege to sleep with whom she chooses, providing that it is consensual on all sides."

"But many Consort-Queen relationships are more than that. My father was my mother's Consort. He had a lifetime contract, and they were both faithful to one another. Those are extreme cases, though. Most usually fall somewhere in the middle. Usually, when a Queen loves her Consort, they will marry and he won't be a Consort anymore."

It is weird. Dinah didn't know if that was a whole different psychology, the magic working to protect itself, or like Karla said, a different set of instincts layered through the usual human interactions. No weirder than other weird things though, I guess.

"All the hierarchies weird me out too. Since we don't have them, and got rid of them because of wanting democracy and self-rule," she admitted, listening carefully. "But I know that you don't mean the same things with Queen as we do, and Consort doesn't mean Prince-Consort, or King, or anything." She frowned. "And making your boyfriend a paid escort-- wow, that wouldn't go over well here. Or a paid escort your boyfriend? Anyway. No one would be okay with that. No one's supposed to be getting paid for sex. Even though it happens a lot, everyone's ashamed of it or tries to keep it secret." She shook her head, thinking a moment. "And nothing assumed to be permanent from the start? We have a lot of divorces, but no one wants to think about it, going into marriage."

Talking about the abstract helped. For one thing, she could turn it around to Karla, a little bit. "Do you want that? A marriage, a Consort forever? Eventually? I know, I know. Long way off. But do you know yet?"

Karla just shrugged a bit. Being a Consort doesn't carry the same connotations as being a whore. It is a respected and highly-sought after position in the Court. The inner triangle around the Queen is her Consort, her Master of the Guard, and her Steward. And his duties extend far beyond just sex. Like any other member of the First Circle, he is bound up in the life of the Queen, her decisions, and her decrees. All members of a Court draw a stipend for their service, whether they're First Circle or Thirteenth, Consort or kitchenmaid."

Huh. Dinah was asking some really tough questions. On the one hand, it made things difficult, because Karla had to think about her answers and thus spent less time focused on Dinah. On the other hand, it was certainly giving Dinah other things to think about.

"Consorts are contractual, with the option to renew the contract once it expires. And it takes the consent of both parties to renew the contract, so it's not like some poor male will be trapped as a Consort for life or anything. And, technically, contracts can be dissolved at anytime, too. But in cases where it truly is a love-match, like with my parents, the contracts are made out for years at a time. Or they agree to a lifetime contract." Sealed with blood, but what Dinah didn't know wouldn't squick her out.

"Marriage, however, is different than Queen and Consort. And everyone hopes those will last forever, too, but we also have divorce. My parents never married. My father was a bastard and was a little ashamed of that. So he decided to remain my mother's Consort. She was saddened by that, but understood. Social rank weighs the least when it comes to power, but it still has weight."

By the time Dinah was done asking her last set of questions, Karla was practically chewing on her bottom lip, trying to pin down vague emotions with words. "I...don't know," Karla answered eventually. "Morton will be my First Escort, so I don't need a Consort. And so much of my heart is already taken up by my devotion to Witch and my love for the land and people that I'm not sure I have enough for the kind of love it takes to have a marriage or a permanent Consort. Assuming I could even find someone who could tolerate me for an extended period of time like that. I like the happily-ever-afters of my romance novels, but I don't know if I truly expect to ever have one."




"Hunh." Dinah was quiet a minute, thinking about that, then quietly said, "How do they feel about the girls in the Red Moon Houses? Is that just another job?" She looked away for a minute, then finally admitted, "I didn't like feeling like I was a... client at one of those places. Or maybe I was the sex worker. I'm mostly over that now. I did what I had to, so I'd be able to eat. But it didn't help at the time, not with how unhappy we both were."

"Life-time contract... yeah, that isn't very different from here, really. Although your dad was being-- well, I don't want to say silly. But. Hey, I have no idea who my dad is. I could be illegitimate too. It shouldn't matter. That's down to the parents, not the kid, and sometimes there's reasons for that too." Dinah thought of Merlin's embarrassment when she'd asked what his last name was, that he didn't have one because he didn't know his dad either. "People stopped really caring about that here about a generation ago. It's not fair that it's still an issue in Kaeleer." She looked at Karla. "I'm glad your parents loved each other, though. And you got to be around that when you were a kid."

Dinah squeezed Karla's hand at her last answer, and was quiet a minute. "I have my sisters, and the rest of my family. My friends. New Gotham, and everyone I have to protect." Her voice got softer. "Maybe I want a boyfriend now because I don't think..." She looked away. "I don't know if it'll even be possible, people from the future aside, for me to have that. There might be a lot of guys like Matt who are not okay with me being a crimefighter, or guys who don't want to deal with me being in danger or busy a lot. And I won't be able to tell them the truth until I'm sure. Too risky. I can tell people here because they're awesome and it won't get back to New Gotham. Anyone I tell the truth there, about my powers or the crimefighting... it's a risk."

"Whores get about as much respect there as they do here," Karla said, frowning. "If they work in Red Moon Houses that cater to aristos exclusively, they might be able to command a bit more respect, but not much. Red Moon workers are better off than whore who work the streets because they not considered 'fit' to grace a House, but..." she trailed off. "They're both pretty far down on the social ladder. But you do what you need to in order to survive and I feel there's no shame in that. And at least whores peddle their own flesh. But that's what you need to remember."

"Legitimacy is structured differently in Kaeleer than it is here," Karla said, stating the blindingly obvious. "I am no bastard, though my parents never wed. Paternity was acknowleged as part of the Birthright Ceremony and my father's name is recorded in the records at the Keep. That's the only thing that counts: the affirmation or denial of paternity of the child by the mother. And illegitimacy doesn't have to matter--Uncle Saetan is the bastard son of a gutter whore. But my father was from Little Terreille and they do things differently there." She shrugged again. "We don't have much to do with them."

She listened to Dinah's explanation with sympathy and uderstanding. "Here, you can be yourself. There, you're going to have to hide who you are and then hope that whomever likes the true you when he discovers it. Your options are to lie or to endanger people. Those...aren't good options." She gathered Dinah in for a fierce hug. "I'm sorry."

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