Unknown ‘verse, possibly the one I wrote another slave rebellion in that nobody’s ever read, to lilfluff’s prompt “Mistress meets former slave after the successful rebellion”.
The rebellion had gone far more smoothly than anyone had ever expected such a thing might go.
It was bloody, of course; it was violent, of course, and in the end there were nearly as many slaves dead as owners.
The thing was, though: there were a lot more slaves than owners, and they had been a lot more willing to die than their owners had.
Paleyah Rose, formerly Junior Lady of Rose Heights, had not been willing to die, and her personal slaves had not felt very strongly about killing her, the way some owners’ slaves had. She was incarcerated in what had been the slave quarters of Rose Heights, and she had been put to work with such tasks as the current establishment believed she might be able to handle. At the moment, that was light cleaning and light food preparation, her former Head Chef keeping the position but working under his own free will now.
She did not mind the work, finding it meditative. She did not mind working for Yothen; she had always been of the impression that he thought she worked for him anyway, so the change was only in the labor she was performing. She did not mind, much, no longer being Junior Lady, and she found, rather guiltily, that she did not altogether miss Geshana Rose, the former Senior Lady of Rose Heights and Paleyah’s step-mother. She did not know where Geshana had been taken, as nobody would tell her, but she had not tried very hard to find out, either.
Her own daughter, Teregrine, had, on the other hand, been returned to her, as Teregrine’s nanny had, as a matter of course, been freed in the rebellion. She had not seen her now-ten-year-old daughter since she was weaned, and found she enjoyed the girl’s company, and that they could, together, enjoy peeling carrots.
What Paleyah did not enjoy was the gloating of some of the former staff – both those who had worked at Rose Heights before and those who had climbed up the ranks in the rebellion. There had been many reasons for the slave revolt, and Paleyah could not argue with many of them, but that didn’t stop her from finding their leering and joking and gloating – well, revolting.
And, at the same time, strangely impotent. Many had died in the initial surge, but since then, there had been very few deaths and almost no violence against the former owners, except those who attempted to fight back. Paleyah had not attempted to fight back; she was comfortable where she was, for one, and for another, she had no interest in a losing battle.
She had retired for the evening to her tiny room; her daughter was playing with some of the former-slaves’ children, and nobody seemed to think that was a bad thing, least of all Paleyah.
“Jun- Paleyah.” Herusten had not quite broken himself of calling her by her former title. “You have a visitor.”
Paleyah had heard enough of “visitors” through the gossip mill which now, as when she had been a Junior Lady, assumed that since she was quiet and spoke little, she also heard little. She stood and pulled her robe around herself. “Teregrine…?”
“I don’t think it’s that sort of visitor. But if it is, you know I’ll take care of her like she’s my own,” he assured her. Herusten had always been part of the household; now he ran it. It was Paleyah’s private opinion that he did a far better job at it than Geshana Rose ever had.
“Thank you.” She stepped out into the common room, wondering who might be coming for her, if it weren’t the leaders of the rebellion.
She thought for a moment her heart had stopped in her chest. “…Calandro.” She managed to whisper it, despite her breath having left her. “You-”
She’d woken to a house awash with violence and the slave who shared her bed – who had shared her bed since she was old enough for such things – gone. She’d feared he’d been killed as a sympathizer; she’d feared he’d joined the rebellion and helped with her incarceration; she’d feared he’d taken the first opportunity to leave her.
He was holding the hand of a young boy, maybe half of Teregrine’s age.
“I had to take care of some things. And I couldn’t be there in your bed. I might have tried, if it hadn’t been for the kids, but there were the kids… and they might have killed me if I’d been there.” He sounded, she thought, the same, and yet older, tireder. “If they’d decided you needed to die, and I couldn’t save you – and I wouldn’t have been able to, not against the whole rebellion – then I’d have died, too, and…”
“I’m glad you’re alive,” she cut him off gently. Calandro had been born into service. The ones who had started the rebellion, most of them hadn’t, or they’d served hard lives in hard positions. She had regrets about some things she’d done when she’d been Junior Lady, but Paleyah was fairly certain being her bedroom slave had not been a hard position for Calandro. “But you keep saying ‘children’. They brought Teregrine back to me.”
“Took me a while to find her. But this one, they’d hidden him even better.”
“This…” Her voice broke, the way it hadn’t when they took her mother away, when they took away her title and her silks, even when she woke to find Calandro gone. “Cal, our son was born dead.”
“No.” He shook his head, and she didn’t even bother to try to hide the sob. “No, he wasn’t, my Lady. I’m sorry, but he wasn’t. And this is him.”
She wasn’t a lady anymore. There was no reason to care who heard her cry.
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