For rix_scaedu‘s commissioned prompt for more of the Baram-and-his-house-elves story.
Baram called it their kid farm, though he didn’t really seem to mind the small people running around.
He wouldn’t tolerate other adults – well, he wouldn’t tolerate un-Kept or human male adults, and Jaelie, Viatrix, and Alkyone weren’t all that thrilled about other female adults. They’d let in one newly-widowed neighbor with her three small ones, mostly to have someone else to help with the small herd of children they now had all over the place.
Aloysius – who was “Wish” because he couldn’t very well be Aly and nobody wanted to call him the Pear (Baram called him “Swish”) – turned out to be no good at all with the kids, but very good in the kitchen, which made all of them rather relieved. But still… Jaelie had to do something with him. He was not, in and of himself, useful enough to justify the expense of feeding him – at least not to Baram.
“The world’s falling apart,” her employer pointed out over breakfast. “And we’ve just doubled the kid population here. Do something with him, Jaelie, or find someone who wants to and will pay us for him.”
No-one missed the pallor that came over her new Kept at that. “Give me a week,” she asked, and was granted, and then she cornered Wish in her room that night.
“You’re going to sell me,” he said flatly. “Your … employer doesn’t like me.”
“My employer is not known for liking people in general,” she answered dryly. “And I’m not known for selling people.”
“He seems to like the three of you.”
“Not many women willingly spend time in his presence.”
“But you do.” He sounded jealous. She wasn’t surprised.
“He’s a big, strong man who is entirely protective of those he defines as his, Kept or employees.” She patted Wish’s leg. “And the three of us are pragmatic women with children to protect.”
“I could protect you.”
“You tried to kill us. I wouldn’t call that very protective.”
“Well, to be fair, you were the enemy. You’re not, anymore.” He seemed rather despondent, despite his cheeky tone. “You’re not a bad sort of Keeper. Not as bad as what I expected.”
“I’m not going to sell you.” She grabbed a handful of his hair and tugged his head until he was looking up at her. “Believe that. You are mine, Aloysius oro’Briar Rose, until I release you. Understand?”
He gulped, and nodded, staring at her in a bit of surprise. “Yes, Mistress,” he murmured docilely. “Thank you.”
“I’m not sure you want to thank me yet,” she told him wryly. “I may not be going to sell you, but I’m planning on renting you.” Before he could say anything else, she picked up her phone.
“I, ah.” He tried to stand; she yanked him back to the floor by his hair.
“Sit. Stay. You’re going to listen to this, Wish, because you need to understand.”
He sat, and stayed, gulping, while she dialed. “Yes, this is Jaelie du’Briar Rose. I have an offer to make Doctor Avonmorea.”
Next: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/290652.html (Paying the Rent)
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