Upstairs/Downstairs, Chapter 1 (a teaser?): Andal

I just have not been writing much since this whole thing blew up, like… maybe 1/4, 1/8 of what I was writing before.  And that was like 2/3 at the most of what I was writing before hand, thanks to an unhealthy February.

All that to say, well, I am running out of buffer on everything, as you may have noticed from the lack of Purchase Negotiation since 3/14.  That’s just all I have written on the poor guy. 

So in the meantime, here’s a bit of something I’ve been working on that hasn’t quite made the 10,000-word buffer to start posting. 

It’s set in Tír na Cali, so the setting warnings for that setting apply: Slavery, institutionalized and accepted. Kidnapping, Stockholm.  In addition, suggestions of abuse. 

Cheers?  Cheers. 

(I don’t remember when I scheduled this but Somehow I put it for 5/2 instead of whatever I meant to put it at – probably 4/2, looking at things.)

Andal

“The Count is getting a new pet.”

Andal, in the middle of trying to find a position the last pet was suited for and comfortable in, aside from being the Count’s… attendant… pinched his nose and didn’t quite look at his son. 

“All right.  Make sure the Rec — the Comfy Room is aired out and cleaned, all right?  You have the paperwork?”

Davan, who’d been serving as Andal’s assistant since he was old enough to reach a keyboard, held up his tablet and beamed the information to Andal’s computer.  “She’s a catgirl,” he added. “A full job, I think, not a skin job.”

And where had the eleven-year-old picked up terms like that?

Probably from the Count

Andal put the thought aside with all the other thoughts he didn’t let himself linger on.  “All right. I’ll look up grooming needs; you research nutritional needs once you’ve gotten Housekeeping on the Comfy Room.  Tanner, mind you, not Padraig. Pad slacks.”

“Pad better not slack much more,” Davan muttered — and Andal knew exactly where the boy had gotten that tone of voice. “Tanner, Comfy Room.  Cat-moddie food requirements. Oh.” He ducked his head.  “There’s more.”

He really had to work on Davan’s habit of trailing out the bad news one thing at a time.  “Of course there is.”

“He got Lady Risalka a slave, too.”

Andal raised his eyebrows.  Lady Risalka was one of the Countess’ younger daughters, the only one of her heirs fathered by the Count, and thus, despite their… clashes… the Count’s favorite.  Still. “He’s never gotten anyone else a slave before.”

“I think, ah.” Davan cleared his throat.  Andal recognized — from a mirror and a younger self — the expression of someone trying to find the most politic words to say something completely impolic.

Working in this household gave one plenty of opportunities to practice that.

“I think that his Lordship found it amusing.  The slave is an American.”

“Ah.  A… fresh American?”

“Still in a slave-shop collar, sir, and, ah, slave-shop restraints.”

“Oh, good.  All right, that was with the other paperwork?”

“Of course.”  Davan had also been practicing Andal’s affronted-that-he-may-have-failed-to-serve expression.  He was quite good at that one already.

With luck, Andal would be able to find the boy a position similar to his own in another household.  Preferably, one in another county. Maybe even in another duchy, although he’d miss him and the boy’s mother would … be displeased. 

“I’ll take care of the initial details there, then.  You go work on nutritional requirements. Get them documented — no, write them up, and make sure Billie reads them.  Use pictures if you have to, and if she hits you for that, I’ll make it up to you.”

Davan ducked his head, almost hiding a smirk.  “Got it, sir.”

Billie was an amazing chef, a steadfast runner of the kitchen, and she could feed twenty people for a dollar without breaking a sweat and pull off a gourmet feast in less time that it took the Countess to make the invitation list. She would be nearly impossible to replace when the Countess allowed her to retire — if, of course, not when — as she had a hard time holding an assistant’s patience long enough to train them.  And she hated change, refused to use a computer or a tablet unless the Countess ordered it, and did not like to read anything longer than a couple lines. 

Working around her took Andal almost as much time as working around the Count’s proclivities.  

“Well?  Go on.” He smirked a little and tossed his son a candy — also Billie’s work.  “There. Good job reporting, but lead with the ‘cat girl’ part first next time.”

Once Davan had run off, Andal allowed himself a solid minute to put his head down on the desk.  A cat-girl. This was not going to go well. This was going to go so poorly.  But the Count was the Count, and unless the Countess, the Duchess, or the Queen chose to tell him no, Andal was just going to have to keep cleaning things up. 

First, the former pet.  He flipped through her file again, letting him look at it with fresh eyes. 

Ah.  Yes. A walk would do him good, and he always liked talking to Stella in the orchard.  He grabbed a broad-brimmed hat and headed in that direction. Perhaps the fresh air would do the girl some good.  And Stella, Stella might do her good too.

Better to have her out of the way before this new pet came in, too.  It was hard to tell how the two would get along — sometimes a former pet and a new one commiserated, sometimes they clashed, sometimes the jealousy was a thing to behold (preferably from a great distance) — so better to put it off until Andal, at least, had a feel for this cat-girl’s personality.

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