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And Nowhere Did Abide - Secrets of the Fearless

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Oct. 13th, 2007 | 10:32 pm

TITLE: And Nowhere Did Abide
FANDOM: "Secrets of the Fearless", Elizabeth Laird (young adult AoS novel)
CHARACTERS: Kit de Jalignac
DISCLAIMER: The Fearless and Kit both belong to Elizabeth Laird. The title belongs to Coleridge; the quote at the end belongs to Kipling.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: major spoiler

Kit would never find the full moon lovely again, after this. Hunched over on the deck, trying to stem the flood of blood with bare and freezing hands – there was no time to appreciate the half-eerie beauty, the way everything was washed to whiteness by the pale light. The blood showed black and sticky against pale skin, and Kit could smell it, the gutted-animal reek of it thick and hot in the air.

She had known this was coming, had known the day she stepped onto the deck of the Fearless that one day or night would find her crouching here like this, tears that wouldn’t quite come burning behind her eyes. Thirteen years old and all alone, and thank god for Betsy or she’d have thought she was bleeding to death, that the pain and the bowel-flux and the thickly clotted blood were all part of some illness she’d taken here, so far away from home under the empty sky.

But Betsy had prepared her well for everything that a woman must face, and Kit had stashed away under her hidden dress pilfered rags, scraps of sailcloth, unravelled hemp from rope – anything that might wick up blood and keep her from discovery for another day, month, year.

Not for the first time, the enormity of what she faced upon the Fearless overwhelmed her. She knew abruptly how lucky she’d been so far, womanhood staved off so far by a diet of burgoo and salt pork and dark Scotch coffee; now she could see the days to come, and then to come again month after month beyond that, under the full moon. All her secrecy redoubled, soiled rags to be disposed of, bloody stains on the grimy paleness of her trousers always to be feared, John Barr’s wretched ugly little dog sniffing after the tempting smell of blood, running the rigging doubled with cramp and gut-ache, dizzy and sick as she felt now, and the rest of the time watching, watching, as the moon bellied and grew in the sky and threatened to betray her. And the consequences of that betrayal so much worse, now, not rape alone but her own belly swelling like the moon, Jalignac’s daughter brought down into the dirt.

She wiped the almost-tears away with a bloody finger and glared up at the moon. Fickle as a woman, they called it, pretty and pale and weak but treacherous with tides. She set her jaw as she thought it, against anger and another dragging pain. What did they know of it, any of them? She had endured all that they endured, and now more beside and worse to come; they could not call her weak.

She wiped herself as best she could with the tail of her shirt, already making plans to filthy the thing with pigshit to hide the stains and excuse her laundering of it, and lurched to her feet. Her head and stomach lurched as well, as if the coming of the blood had robbed her of her sea legs, but she wouldn’t fall. Grimly, step by step and swaying like a wounded man, Catherine de Jalignac made her way below.

(She who faces Death by torture for each life beneath her breast
May not deal in doubt or pity -- must not swerve for fact or jest.
These be purely male diversions -- not in these her honour dwells.
She the Other Law we live by, is that Law and nothing else.

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