charmed life
by Northlight

the sheets are silk his nails are short and clean she can smell apple blossoms through the open window

her mouth is wet wax strawberries his skin tastes like milk

inara has a story


Her father was the governor of their district. He was tall and straight and his grey suit was always neatly pressed. His voice was deep and grave and his laughter rumbled beneath Inara's ear. Mother did water-colours by the window. Sunlight poured through the tall glass and made her dark curls shine. Her voice was warm and rich and made Inara think of hot cocoa.

The earth and sea were rich and her family was made prosperous. They had a home by a lake that glimmered with fish and green grass that rolled to the edge of heavy woods. Their house was all white and brightness and arching windows and Inara's polished shoes clicked importantly against tiled floors. They had neatly dressed servants who dipped their heads at Inara and called her little mistress.

Inara's dress was silk and lace. Royal blue was a warm slither against her thighs. Her shoes were still stiff and new, the first heels she had ever worn. She was the only child born to her house, and her parents doted upon her. She was loved and her father smiled every time a guest complimented her beauty.

The woman in father's study had skin darker than any Inara had ever seen, so dark it glowed. Her hair was curled at the nape of her neck and a gauzy shawl hung from gently rounded shoulders. Her name, she said, was Anaiya, and she thought Inara was lovely. Father's eyes were shinning and mother was smiling and crying all at once. They were so proud, so very honoured and Inara was too.

Yes, she said, yes she would be delighted to attend the Academy. She smiled and smiled and folded silks and laces into her bags. She was happy, so happy.

This is Inara's story.


the couch is brocade there are ink-stains on the woman's bronze fingers the room smells of dust and old paper

her lips are pink and the woman's thighs are warm against her head

inara has a story


Father wore a maroon overcoat and a cravat and he sent out men to collect dues from the men who worked his land. He smoked a pipe and his voice was rough with tobacco. He laughter was loud and quick to life and death. Mother lay thin beneath down comforters. Her hands were narrow and pale and traced by thin blue veins. Her voice wavered and caught and she hated the cook and the maid and the nanny.

They had been rich once, when the land was young and the forests thick. The land grew tired and the forests weak and Inara's brothers had claim to all that was good. The tenants grumbled and the winters were cold and food was scarce. Mother wept when father sold their good china and the servants were no longer as careful when they swept the floors. And the servants left too and mother had never been so humiliated and Inara's eldest brother came home with a bride and with his birthright.

Inara's dress was fine cotton, sky blue and it swirled about her ankles. The hem was long and the scuffed toes of her boots were visible to none. She had scrubbed her hands and there was hardly any dirt beneath her fingernails. She thought she would have made a better lord than any of her brothers.

The woman in the foyer had golden skin and delicate kohl-lined eyes. Her hair was exotic--all curls and twists and clips. Her neckline curved low and round and her collar-bones stood out sharp and shadowed. Her name, father said, was Alosha, and she would take care of Inara. It was a respectable profession, a profitable profession, and resources were scarce and none would take Inara without a proper dowry. Father's voice was loud and Inara understood, didn't she? and mother was too ill to care.

Inara understood and she packed her dresses and her boots and her faded boy's pants. She kissed mother and hugged father and waved to her brothers. Inara rolled her lips together and did not cry and she understood, she did, and she would do what she had to.

This is Inara's story.


pillow tucked beneath her belly his fingers are calloused and thick the sheets smell of stream water and grass air

her mouth is smeared naked lips he is heavy and damp against her back

inara has a story


Her father's face was dark and lined. His shoulders were hunched and his hands were calloused. His knees ached in the winter and his back ached when it rained. He was tired and he was angry and Inara hated the weary bitterness in his voice. Mother's body was heavy and loose with the memory of her children. Her hair was limp and pinned tightly to her head. Her hands were cracked with work and her voice was sharp.

The land was ill suited to life and the landlord's home was finer than his tenants could provide for. He his voice was fine and his clothes were rich and he was nothing like Inara's father or brothers or betrothed. Inara felt the muscles working in his back and kept her legs still and wide and felt fine as a lady must with a man so kind and sophisticated. He shook and grunted and Inara pulled her wool skirt from her hips.

He was not so kind when Inara's belly rounded. Mother and father looked at her with shame and she learned to hate the word whore. They prayed for her in church, and women comforted her betrothed who would not mind that she was a whore quite so much if she would wrap her mouth around him.

The baby was born early, small and bloody and it died hours later without Inara having loved it. She left home still sore with humiliation and her child and walked along the side of the dirt road. Her legs ached and her feet bled and she'd already found herself a whore and let a man touch her so that she could ride in his cart.

The woman on the city's cobblestone streets had hair red as blood and lips like sin. Men bowed to her, dipped their heads and removed their hats as she passed. A man trailed behind her, tall and thin and neat, and he held packages for her. She was beautiful and she was rich and she grabbed Inara's hand before she reached the woman's coin purse. She titled Inara's chin and rubbed spit against her dirtied cheeks. Her name, she said, was Isendre, and she thought Inara had potential.

This is Inara's story.


the floor is varnished his hands are awkward in her hair she smells of horses and sex

spit and semen slick mouth he is soft against her lips

inara has a story


Inara's father was gone. Her mother was old and grey and her fingers bent and eyes fading with hours spent at the factory. Inara sewed her clothes back together and helped button mother into her pants and shirt and tied her boots. She had watched her youngest babies die and had killed the rest before the world had a chance to. Her voice was rough and bitter and she hated Inara's father, hated Inara and she said that she had been beautiful once. She hated the Companions with their finery and their pretensions and she would smile too, if all she had to do was spread her legs--she'd done that enough for the bastard who had stuck her with Inara.

Inara was young enough and small enough that her hands could fit between the gears of the great machinery at the factory. She worked and it was never enough and she was hungry and cold and mother was never happy.

The man in the kitchen was tall and his face was cleaner and fuller than any Inara had ever seen. Inara knew the kind of women who washed his clothes and cleaned his house for him and he should not be far from the sky and clean air in Inara's home. His name, mother said, was Niall and she held money clenched in her fists. You take care of my girl, she said and touched Inara's cheek, crying, and her knuckles went white. It's better this way, you'll see, she said and Inara sent her money until the day mother's lungs went black and withered.

This is Inara's story.


inara has a story

she waits for someone to ask


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