A/N: Alright, so I'm going to try for a re-write on this story and see if I can write better than I did back in 2012 when I started this story. I was originally going to rewrite from where I had started, but then I changed my mind. So… we have an all-new beginning. Enjoy!
Savannah Greenley opened her mouth in a soundless gasp as the servant standing behind her tugged harshly at the corset they were attempting to lace. She stood near a window, bracing herself against the wall and trying hard to distract herself from the fact that she felt like she could barely breath by watching the cars rolling up the driveway. She'd barely understood it when Anne had called her into the bedroom, displaying a beautiful emerald green dress that matched her eyes perfectly along with a corset. It was the most expensive dress she'd ever received but it felt like it came with a price.
Anne stopped tugged, wiping sweat from her brow as she surveyed the corset and Savannah's body. "They sent us a dress fashioned for a Fae," she said in her usual quiet tone but with a touch of heat and flashing eyes. Anne was usually very placid, but this situation felt impossible. "You're a bit curvier than the usual type who wear this size, enough that we wouldn't even get the dress past your hips."
Savannah flushed and opened her mouth to speak, but Anne put a hand up and shook her head. "No, there's no need for you to apologize. If the main house was going to send a dress for you to wear to dinner, the least they could have done was inquire about your size." Disgust laced her words – not for Savannah's size, but rather for their treatment of Savannah.
It was yet another slap in the face for the younger woman, yet another sign that her family truly did not care about her. From the moment she'd arrived at the Greenley household, she'd been sent to live with the servants. It didn't matter that she was the daughter of the heir of the Greenley family dynasty. She'd long since acknowledged that her grandfather was angry that she was allowed to breathe the same air as he and her brothers hated her existence. Her father, for the most part, kept his distance and made no attempts to get to know his daughter.
Anne, the woman who'd spent the better part of forty years with Savannah and raising her from infancy, pursed her lips with a thoughtful expression. Wisps of blond hair escaped from her customary bun; one graceful hand lifted to brush it out of her face. She finally looked at Savannah, who'd dropped her arms now that she'd been provided with a reprieve.
"I think we can make something work," she said, biting her bottom lip. "Ivy might be able to help us out but it will take time."
Ivy was their seamstress. She wielded no magic of her own, although Savannah would disagree with that notion – she'd seen her skill with a needle and thread. She sighed in relief as Anne began to free her from the confines of the corset, biting her lip. She was resigned to the fact that nothing was going to fit but... she'd really hoped it would. She liked the dress and would have even tolerated the corset. "Do you think there will be enough time?"
Anne shrugged. "With Ivy, one never knows." The seamstress was fond of Savannah. Most of her nicer clothes had been gifts from Ivy, who'd helped raise her as well. "We'll start by summoning her and see what she has to say."
Ten minutes later, the room was in chaos. Ivy had taken one look at the current situation and growled. "Who in the bloomin' hell would have thought she'd fit into this?" she'd demanded, angrier than Savannah had ever seen her. "We might be able to fit half of Savannah in this dress. She's twice the woman they are."
The next two hours were spent being measured, poked and prodded with pins. Ivy's fingers flew, impatiently capturing her fiery red hair in a ponytail. Her own green eyes were focused on the task at hand. A couple of the younger maids volunteered to work as her assistants and many of the older servants, having heard about the situation, came by offering jewelry that worked with the dress design.
Savannah was overwhelmed by their generosity. Most of the people in this room had helped raise her, in one way or another. They'd already done so much to help her, yet here they were, lending their valuables and offering their valuable time. They were busy people, as she very well knew. This meant so much that they were willing to go so far for her.
At one point, Savannah wondered aloud if any of this was worth it. She could see the stress on Anne's face and she hated seeing Ivy working so hard that blisters were appearing on her fingers. Anne sighed, putting a hand on her shoulder.
"Your grandfather has requested your presence tonight," she'd replied quietly. Her expression spoke volumes about her feelings on the matter. She wasn't sure herself if it was a good thing or not. She was protective of Savannah and she wasn't sure what kind of situation this would end up being.
Savannah turned to face Anne, ignoring both the feeling of the pins poking into her sides and the squawk of dismay from Ivy in the process. "And the whole family is coming?" she asked. She'd seen the number of cars coming up the drive throughout the day. Usually, that meant they were all gathering.
Ivy was the one who answered that, pulling a pin out of her mouth so she could speak clearly. "Yes. They've summoned the whole family for tonight's dinner," she explained. That wasn't why she was working so hard, but she didn't want Savannah to be presented looking less than her absolute best.
Savannah swallowed; now very grateful Anne had insisted that she learn the manners of the nobility. She couldn't let her family down. She was drawn deeper into her thoughts as Ivy pulled the dress off her, hurrying to finish up. It was nearly done.
Anne took a moment to pat Ivy's shoulder before letting her get back to work, moving over to take Savannah's hand. She looked a little shell-shocked. "It'll be alright," she said with a tiny ghost of a smile. Savannah had a knack for taking care of herself and she had no doubt that she would be okay. "Just remember that you belong there. You share the same noble blood. Don't let them intimidate you."
Ivy smiled from her post, nodding. "She's right," she stated, returning to her work as she spoke. "Although you've always done well at holding your own with those pests."
She was referring to her brothers, Rethar and Anenfel. Rethar had always been very vocal of his hatred of Savannah while Anenfel was a little more discreet about it. She still remembered the time that Rethar had destroyed the first doll Ivy had ever made her, his eyes aflame with an unholy light as he watched her break down in tears. He wanted to see her suffer, and suffer she had through the years. Her servant family couldn't speak up in her behalf without losing their positions and livelihoods. No one could afford to do that.
Savannah snorted, slipping back into her robe while she waited for Ivy to finish. They were right. She could do this, even if it made her nervous.
"You're right. This is just another day in my life." She reached out to feel the green material, wondering what kind of changes Ivy was making to it. She'd always wanted to wear something sexy and daring, something that suited her. She was grateful for the clothing that Ivy had provided, but it was only out of the goodness of her heart and stolen fabric. There was no stipend to provide for her, meaning that Anne and Ivy had only done so out of the goodness of their hearts. She'd been lucky, she knew. Other girls in her position weren't so lucky.
It only took another thirty minutes to finish the dress. When Ivy helped her slip into the dress, Savannah wasn't sure it was really herself that she was seeing. Anne had helped her with her hair and makeup, her wild black waves somewhat tamed by mother of pearl pins to pull it out of her face. The dress was a mermaid style dress, meant to draw attention to her upper body and transform her into a sexy siren. Ivy had done a fantastic job on the modifications. Savannah couldn't even tell that the additional fabric had been added later. With the modifications that Ivy had done, the original fabric was pinned to the left side of the dress in the hip area and the new fabric had been gathered below it. The added folds were alternating similar shades of green, but she'd made it work. It was like a whole new dress and Savannah loved it.
She turned to face her two benefactors, trying not to be overwhelmed. They'd really gone all out for this. Savannah hugged Anne first, careful not to smudge the makeup.
"Thank you," she whispered. Savannah could feel Anne trembling against her, feeling just as overwhelmed as she. She kissed her cheek before stepping back, opening her arms to Ivy.
The seamstress, never quite one for physical touch, squirmed away. "None of that now," she snapped, her eyes fearful. Savannah merely moved closer to kiss her cheek.
"Thank you, Ivy. I really owe you this time." Savannah beamed at her, her whole face lighting up.
Ivy sighed. "You know I would do this again for you in a heartbeat." She hid her blistered fingers beneath her skirt, looking proud as could be. "You wear my clothing far better than any of those old witches do. Knowing that they will all be green with envy when you walk into the room is thanks enough for me."
Savannah smiled. "And I will make them green with envy." While she had some reservations about her curves, she knew the Fae women would usually kill for a body like hers. Their men weren't fond of sleeping with sticks, as she'd heard Ivy telling Anne once when she was younger. It was nothing but truth.
"Ivy, it's time for her to go or she'll be late," Anne said gently, not wanting to interrupt but time was slipping away. She held out the green high heels that had been provided – literally the only part of her outfit that had actually fit. "Everland is waiting to escort her to the main house."
Ivy nodded. She understood. This was important. She looked up at Savannah. "Now, more than ever, you really our the Cin in our story."
This was a common joke amongst the servants – that Savannah was their modern-day Cinderella, a story told often enough in the human communities. A noblewoman who was raised amongst the servants and had grown up working alongside them. Savannah had to laugh at the irony of it all as she slipped her shoes on. "I suppose I really am Cinderella."
The three of them moved to the front of the servants' house, Savannah smoothing a hand over the folds of fabric. She still couldn't believe that she got to wear such a gorgeous dress into the main house. Everland, the solemn doorman who spent most of his time in the main house, was waiting for her at the entrance.
"You look wonderful, miss," he said. Coming from the servant who spoke the least, that was the highest compliment. Savannah leaned over and kissed his cheek with a smile, watching as his cheeks turned a bright red.
Everland offered Savannah his arm, which she accepted gratefully. After a few steps, she turned for one last look at Anne and Ivy. Ivy had an arm around Anne's shoulder, uncharacteristically quiet. Anne was usually a rock, but her façade was cracking this time. Savannah could see her shoulders starting to shake as she buried her head into Ivy's shoulder.
She took a deep breath, then continued to follow Everland towards the main house. With each step, butterflies in her stomach made her feel like she was going to be sick. All the windows were lit up in the main house, and people were still walking inside. The Greenleys had once been a large and well-known family, but their numbers and status had dwindled in recent years as their assets dwindled. No one liked to discuss what they had done to deserve that, but they all knew the chief cause of their fall from grace.
Everland led her up the steps, hidden amongst the crowd for the most part. It would be his job to announce her presence, although she wished she could just remain hidden. Part of her didn't want to be here but the other part wanted to prove that she was capable of fitting into their world. She was one of them, as much as none of them wanted to acknowledge it.
Rethar was the first to catch sight of her, as he'd taken up residence at the bottom of the stairs. He'd hated her from the moment she'd first been discovered on the manor grounds and the years hadn't changed that. They both shared their father's green eyes, but his hair was the sandy blond that was his mother's trademark. She'd died shortly after Rethar's birth, yet another disappointing failure to produce a female heir to the family line. He was very vocal about his hatred of her and was generally a cocky bastard, reminding Savannah of their grandfather.
Anenfel was beside him, regarding her coolly over the rim of his cup. It didn't seem as though he particularly hated her presence, but he seemed rather indifferent to her plight. Savannah much preferred that over Rethar's tactics of purposely seeking her out to tear her down. Being left alone had it's advantages.
"So there's our residence princess," Rethar spat, his words slurred as he approached. He'd started drinking early tonight, she noted. How fun.
Everland, seeing that things were about to get hairy, brought down his staff. Once, twice. Enough to get everyone's attention. "May I announce the arrival of Miss Savannah Greenley, daughter of Lysanthir and granddaughter of Alaion."
A hush fell over the crowd as Savannah started down the stairs, Everland staying at the top. He'd done his duty and the rest was up to her. She took a deep breath, then allowed her usual expression to fall back into place. They wouldn't have the luxury of seeing her be nervous. They didn't deserve that. Instead, she tried to meet the gaze of those standing near her, including Rethar and Anenfel. She didn't mean for it to be any sort of challenge to them, but merely a statement. She was here and she would not be ignored.
Behind her. Everland sighed quietly. She was holding steady, their Savannah. He'd worried for a moment there, but this was the young woman they all knew and loved. She had a strong, courageous spirit that she had to have gotten from her biological mother. None of her father's relatives showed that kind of spirit.
As she reached the bottom of the stairs, Savannah couldn't resist searching for her father but didn't see him. She had told herself that she wouldn't be disappointed if that was the case, but her inner child still managed to be hurt. A grown woman of 42 years and she still longed for him to acknowledge her. It would never happen, and she knew that now.
The crowd parted to let her pass as she moved further into the room, aware of their eyes on her. Savannah took another deep breath, aware of Rethar drawing uncomfortably close to her person. She expected nothing but the worst from him and was not surprised to find that he positioned himself in such a way that she'd be hard pressed to avoid him. It would be all to easy for him to stick out his decorative cane and trip her up as she passed. Not something she wanted to deal with, but he made it impossible to do anything else.
Savannah was a vision of beauty and grace as she moved past, wincing just a tiny bit as he whacked her on the legs with his cane. She wobbled a bit on the heels but kept herself upright for the most part. She hadn't even realized she'd been holding her breath until she'd passed him. The dining room sounded lovely, especially if she wanted to avoid her brothers. Hopefully, she sat as far away from them as possible.
She was about to find a table in a dark corner when a waiter gently touched her arm. "Excuse me, miss, but Master Alaion has assigned you a seat beside him. If you'll follow me…"
Savannah's eyes widened, but she dared not protest. Her heart sunk at the possibility of being so close to her grandfather, who hated her with every breath he took. He was ashamed of her in so many ways, ashamed that his son took a succubi lover while his wife was pregnant and dared to get her pregnant. Rethar had only been a few months old when Savannah had been left on their doorstep, with a note explaining who she was and how she'd come to be there. Some part of her suspected that her family had been blackmailed into keeping her at the estate. It explained her grandfather's hatred. He couldn't dispose of her easily, as the succubi clans did not raise their daughters – and all of them were daughters.
Of course, that made her the first female born to the Greenley family in four hundred years and that was like adding salt to the wound, she supposed. She took a deep breath, taking the waiter's arm as he led her towards the main table. There were so many familiar faces at the table, so many Greenley green eyes and blond hair. Her family leaned towards the blond side, finding it far more distinguished than other colors. Inane and inconsequential, but they cared all the same.
Alaion was already seated when she took her seat. His cold gaze raked over her body as the waiter pushed her seat in, the disapproval already evident in the way his lips turned down at the edges. Some things hadn't changed, it seemed.
"What happened to that nice Fae dress I sent you?" he asked, loud enough to be overheard by the surrounding Fae. Rethar, who just happened to be taking his seat across from Savannah, grinned at her. He was going to enjoy every moment of her misery tonight. He might even make it worse.
Savannah tucked her napkin onto her lap, taking a moment to compose herself. She wanted to say what was really on her mind, but now was not the time. She was going to prove that she could behave herself in this shark-infested waters. Anne would be proud if only she could see this.
"I'm afraid that style of dress didn't suit me," she said slowly, her gaze moving up to meet his. This time, she intended it to be a challenge. He'd purposely slighted her, but she'd made it out on top, thanks to Anne and Ivy. "I had it redesigned to show off my assets."
Savannah had the luxury of watching her grandfather's face flush. Aware that the table was watching her, she reached for her own glass of wine. That was one victory that went to her, but the night was young still. She fell silent as the first course arrived, a horrendous pea-green soup that was unappetizing but all the rage in current wood Fae circles.
She was proud that she didn't even make a face as she reached for the soup spoon, although her grandfather seemed slightly surprised that she knew which spoon she needed for the soup. Savannah pointedly ignored him as she sipped at her soup, as was polite. She didn't intend to engage in conversation, but she knew that it was unlikely that Rethar or Alaion would leave it at that.
"So," Alaion started, still watching his granddaughter, "have you decided on a major yet at college? Your father says you've been attending for the past two years."
Savannah stiffened. Going to school was something that she was proud of, but it was a sensitive subject. Her father paid for her to go, although she didn't really understand why. Some part of her worried it was a trap while another part of herself argued that she didn't know where her place was in the world. She had no idea what she would do in the future.
Rethar leaned forward, his eyes twinkling. "I have no doubts that she'll drop out and become a common whore, like her mother," he announced. All eyes at the table turned back to Savannah, some curious and others wanting to see how this was going to go down. Most of them were unaware of her heritage, but she could tell from their expressions that there were a few that knew.
Savannah gave Rethar a patient smile that took all her inner strength. "I could hardly claim to be a common whore," she mused, amused at the thought. "Not like your bitch of a wife; although, truth be told, she'd probably sleep with me too. I'm irresistible."
That last part came out as more of a purr. It was a low blow, even if it was true. Rethar's face turned red and his mouth opened for a moment before he closed it. He didn't have any good comeback for her and turned his attention to his food instead, scowling at his place. He'd get his revenge later, of that she was sure.
Savannah lapsed into silence as the dinner progressed. She was exhausted by the third course, joining in the inane small talk if prodded but kept to herself for the most part. The waiter had just retrieved her plate when she realized her grandfather had stood, commanding all attention to himself as he reached for a wine glass. She didn't feel good about any of this, but this couldn't be good.
The ringing of his wine glass as he tapped it with a knife had to be amplified by magic, as it was unnaturally loud, but it did the trick. He had the full attention of every Fae in the room, including his granddaughter. "Ladies and gents of the Greenley family, you may be wondering why you've all been called to dinner this evening."
The crowd murmured, proving that they had indeed been wondering. Curious, Savannah leaned forward too, wanting to hear what he had to say. What was so important that he'd invited her to an important family dinner like this one?
Alaion turned to look at Savannah. "As you may very well remember, our family has been struggling financially for the past hundred years." He stopped to let that sink in, his gaze traveling across the room. "I'm happy to announce that we have finally found a way to end our financial woes."
He gestured to Savannah, indicating for her to stand. "Some of you may recall my granddaughter, the lovely Savannah."
Savannah stood, her heart sinking. This was looking more and more like a political ploy and not just an invitation to dinner. She should have known that she would one day become a pawn in her grandfather's schemes.
He continued as she stood, putting an arm around her shoulder. "As of yesterday, a dragon has made an offer for a sacrifice and it was decided that Savannah would be the lucky girl."
The sound of her heart pounding in her ears drowned out the applause of the audience, her skin pale. She hadn't seen that coming at all. She knew that it was possible that they'd use her one day, but not like this.
Alaion continued after the applause died down. "She will be taking her place the day after tomorrow," he explained, beaming. She didn't like the unholy gleam in his eyes. He would finally be free of him. "The dragon in question has parted with a rather unique piece of his collection, enough that raise our status back to what it had been!"
Savannah swayed a bit, imperceptible except to those who knew her best. She was trying not to pass out, but her rage was growing. She hadn't even dreamed of this possibility. "Excuse me?" she asked, loud enough to be heard over the room. "Whose decision was this? Who gave you permission to sell me off?"
Her grandfather was obviously not happy with her interruption, but he didn't miss a beat as he leaned closer, his mouth near her ear. "Your father gave me permission to sell you."
Savannah felt cold all over. Damn him. Damn them all. She sat back down, still in shock. This had to be a bad dream, right? She would wake up in the morning and everything would be back to normal. The rest of the dinner flew by without her noticing, feeling like her world was crumbling down around her ears. What would Anne or Ivy say? How could she even break it to them? They'd been so happy for her to finally join her family members and it was all a ruse. A sham to break it to her in the cruelest way possible and in the public eye, no less.
Savannah forced air into her lungs, gritting her teeth. She swayed on her feet, but stayed standing, tuning out the rest of her grandfather's honeyed words. Her gaze swung over the room, surveying the reactions of her blood relatives. They were conveying varying degrees of excitement, glad to have their financial and status within the Fae community changing for the better. It didn't matter that the money would be stained with blood; they didn't care that a blood sacrifice was required for them to receive those funds.
She belatedly realized her grandfather had taken his seat again and the eyes of her family were on her. Anger made her chest burn, but she too took her seat. Dessert was served but she didn't taste any of the delicacy they'd served; it tasted like ash on her tongue. She no longer heard the words from conversation around her. It only sounded like a buzzing hum, which she considered appropriate. They were part of a hive, she supposed. They didn't have the brainpower to make decisions separate from her grandfather's biased ones.
The rest of the dinner flew by, although Savannah was distracted. As the waiter drew her out of her chair, Alaion moved to her side and reached for her arm. With blazing eyes, she slapped his hand away.
"Don't you dare touch me," she hissed, vitriol dripping from her words. "Don't you dare pretend after doing this to me."
Savannah wrenched her arm out of his reach but was surprised by his speed when he grabbed her. He was rougher than he had a right to be. She was almost sure that she would be wearing bruises by the next morning. Damn him.
"You have no right to speak to me like that," he rumbled. He still wore a smile, but his eyes betrayed him. Those green eyes, so very much like her own, blazed with hatred and revulsion but he would continue his charade to the very end.
With the eyes of the family still watching, Savannah subtly slipped her wrist from his grip and glared up at him. The sound of her hand meeting his cheek echoed in the room, the lack of noise evident as she rebelled. "I told you not to touch me," she said, the sharp tone of her voice carrying further than she'd anticipated.
This time, Alaion made no attempt to stop her as she gathered her skirts and hurried out of the room. It was a short walk from the main house to the servant's quarters, but it felt like it stretched on for miles. Her feet ached from the shoes and she was going to have to be peeled out of this dress, but first, she would have to face down Anne and Ivy. Her lungs burned, reminding her that she'd forgotten to breathe. Once the cool night air hit her lungs, she calmed a bit.
She angrily swiped away the tears, angry that she was so upset and hating that Anne was going to see right through her. Anne and Ivy were good at that, although she wasn't very good at hiding things. She had to stay strong, otherwise she wouldn't even be able to tell them what happened. That was important.
As she'd expected, Anne and Ivy had both waited up for her. They'd camped out in the main room, with Anne's head in Ivy's lap. Anne's head jerked up as Savannah stepped into the room, causing Ivy's fingers to get caught. In that short moment where Ivy was untangling herself from Anne, they'd both seen it. They caught Savannah's crushed expression, try as she might to hide it.
Once she was free, Anne stepped over to take Savannah into her arms. "Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have let you go."
Ivy hovered in the background, trying to figure out how much damage control they were going to need as the dam inside of Savannah burst. She cried then – the heat of anger, the sharp bite of bitterness, and the soul-crushing cold of sadness making their presence known. She buried her face in Anne's shoulder and sobbed, letting out that tight ball of emotions that had gathered in her chest. The women that had raised her had no clue what her family had done.
Anne and Ivy took her into the house, getting her out of her dress and into her pajamas. Savannah was moving like a zombie, shock making her slow to think and move. They said nothing, waiting for her to be ready to speak in her own time. Finally, as Anne was pressing a cup of warm tea into Savannah's hand, she spoke.
"They've offered me as a sacrifice to a dragon," she muttered, holding the cup against her chest as if it would breathe life into her cold, shattered heart.
Anne froze, eyes wide as she met Savannah's gaze. "What?"
Ivy gasped, dropping down to Savannah's lap, taking her free hand. She could feel the tremble there, see the struggle Savannah was going through.
Savannah looked up with blank, lifeless eyes. "He announced it at dinner to the family," she whispered. "They've made an offer to a dragon that has been accepted. My family will be regaining their wealth and their social standing while I get to die."
Anne began to curse a blue streak, something that neither Savannah nor Ivy had seen before. It startled Savannah for a moment, bringing her out of her daze for a moment. She waited to see what she had to say, sipping the tea. She didn't even feel the heat of the tea burning her tongue as she drank. She'd regret it later but now was not that time.
"That's what this was all about?" Anne shouted, her blue eyes snapping furiously. "What were they thinking?"
Ivy sighed, snuggling closer to Savannah. "They wanted to be cruel," she whispered, looking up at the young woman she'd helped raise. She was paler than normal, and she didn't miss the sound of the tea cup rattling in her hands. She was shaken. "He's always hated her."
Anne was pacing, biting her lip. There had to be a way out of this. "When?" she asked Savannah, meeting her gaze. "When is this sacrifice supposed to take place?"
"The day after tomorrow." Savannah took another sip, shifting Ivy so she could pull her knees to her chest while she rested in the oversized chair that dominated the room she shared with Anne.
Anne sighed. She didn't have the funds or the manpower to try to free her from this. She had always been aware that she had very little power, but nothing made her feel quite so helpless. She stepped closer to the chair, stroking her hair. "There has to be a way out of this."
Ivy leaned back, her expression thoughtful. "Maybe, maybe not…and maybe she won't need to be saved."
Two sets of eyes turned towards her, curious as to what she meant by that. She flushed under their gaze, settling against the side of the chair. "What do you know about dragon sacrifices?" she asked.
Both Anne and Savannah shook their heads. Dragons were secretive creatures by nature, and very little was known about them.
Ivy looked thoughtful as she leaned forward, her gaze sweeping over the both of them. "The only thing I've heard, and this was in passing mind you, is that dragons don't eat their sacrifices. At least, not right away. The dragons attempt to have sex with their sacrifices first," she told them.
It was just a rumor, but… Savannah wasn't sure what to make of that. She leaned back in her chair, considering that. "Maybe I'll do some research of my own tomorrow." Maybe she wasn't as fucked as she'd come to believe she was.
Ivy smiled, taking both hers and Anne's hand in her own. "We will get through this," she said. "If that rumor I've heard is true, that means you may stand a fighting chance. After all, as much as you like to pretend, you're not a full Fae. You're the daughter of a succubi. That's pretty rare, you know. Succubi can only be impregnated by beings with magical capabilities. Strong ones."
Savannah hated being reminded that she wasn't just a Fae. She groaned, leaning back but didn't let go of either woman's hand. She needed their strength right now. "I don't know what that's supposed to mean," she moaned.
Anne smiled a bit. "It only means that we don't have to give up hope just yet. Maybe it's not as dark as it seems." Her gaze met Ivy's and softened. That had been a good observation and one that was helpful.
Savannah sighed. "Maybe not. I just can't think beyond tonight. I'm so tired," she admitted, finishing off her tea. "Spending any length of time with my supposed family will do that."
Ivy seemed cheered to hear some of that familiar sarcasm back in her voice. She smiled, leaning up to kiss her cheek. "Then I'll take my leave for the night. I'll see you in the morning, love."
Anne didn't see that look Ivy sent in her direction, merely holding out her hand for the cup. "I'll put this in the sink, then let's send you to bed."
Savannah nodded, waving as Ivy left. She missed her presence already but she was tired. So very tired. Anne left for a minute, returning without the cup. "Come on, sweetie. Let's get you to bed."
All she could do was lift her arms. Anne had always been stronger than she looked, a testament to her Earth Fae heritage. She lifted Savannah, smiling a bit. "You've almost gotten too big for this," she said, but her tone lacked heat. She didn't mean it. "I might have to start hiring a brownie if you want to be carried everywhere."
The familiar teasing relaxed Savannah as she curled up against Anne, letting herself be carried. "A brownie doesn't sound half bad," she whispered. "It would be nice to have a new friend."
Anne carried her down the hall and into her room. Shifting Savannah to one arm, she managed to pull down the blankets. "Are you sure you need a nice friend? You have so many."
Savannah sighed as she slid into bed, managing a small smile. She did have so many, even if they were all servants. Their status didn't matter in her eyes. She was just reaching to pull the blankets over herself when Anne slid in beside her, wrapping her arms around Savannah. It was almost as if she'd known how Savannah hadn't wanted to spend the night alone.
"I hope you don't mind," she whispered, holding her tight. "I didn't want to let you spend the night alone after this."
Savannah felt her eyes tearing up again. "I don't mind at all," she whispered. It was exactly what she'd needed, what she'd craved – feeling like she was important to someone. She leaned into her, breathing in Anne's familiar scent. They lay there a few minutes in the dark, letting silence fall between them. That wasn't a bad thing, like it might have been for other people. It gave Savannah time to gather her thoughts, but it appears Anne was doing the same.
"You know, I have loved you from the very moment I laid eyes on you," Anne whispered, stroking Savannah's hair. "I knew I was never going to have a child of my own and I did want one, but I wouldn't have the opportunity. Then there you were, just a tiny little girl being brought to the servant's quarters. A pink nose, shockingly green eyes and a puff of black hair. You melted my heart the moment I held you and I didn't want to let go. In a way, I still don't."
Savannah listened, feeling like her heart was being torn out of her chest again but in a different way. Anne wasn't the sentimental type, but this was important.
Anne continued; her eyes distant. "It was hard to raise you on my salary, but we managed. Ivy helped a lot too. She made most of your clothes and no one seemed to notice the fabric that went missing when they ordered. You were always a curious child, so in love with the world and so eager to be a part of it. I loved that about you."
She stroked Savannah's hair, finally meeting her gaze. "I know I'm not your mother, but I do love you like one. I consider you my daughter, even if I didn't give birth to you. I've spent years raising you and I've enjoyed every minute of it. I have watched you suffer and bleed by their words, from their hatred and disinterest in you. I wish I could save you from it but my hands are tied."
Savannah shook her head. "No, Anne. You shouldn't feel bad about that. It wasn't your fault."
Anne sighed. "I wish I could save you from this Savannah. I wish this didn't have to happen and you could live your life. I want to continue to watch you grow and move on from this life."
Savannah had tears in her eyes. "I don't want to leave you and Ivy," she whispered. "This is my home and… you're my mother. I've never considered anyone else my mother. You and Ivy are my family, the two people who worked so hard to raise me. If it weren't for both of you, I wouldn't have been able to hold my own in there tonight."
Anne closed her eyes, not wanting Savannah to see how happy that made her. She held her tight. "You are stronger than you think, my love. But I'm glad that you see me as your mother. It's all I ever wanted, all those nights I spent soothing you to sleep. The nights I watched you cry because Rethar had said something mean to you. I wish I could do more for you." It still broke her heart thinking about that.
Savannah shook her head. "Don't, Mom." It felt strange saying that for the first time in forty two years, but it was time. "I've never had anyone love me more than you do. I'm only as strong as I am because I had the best mom and role model to show me. Even if you were a servant, I've never seen you truly kneel to anyone."
They lay there for a moment in silence, raw emotions bared between them. Anne sighed and laid her head on Savannah's head. "What if Ivy's right? What if there is a way for you to come out on top? You're a strong girl, but maybe this doesn't have to be the end. It's worth checking out…daughter."
Savannah relaxed, smiling a bit. "I guess it wouldn't hurt to do my research, would it, Mom? I will see what I can do." She'd talk to Angel in the morning. Maybe there was something she knew. She was much more worldly than Savannah was. For now, she would try to regain her balance and see what she could do.
Anne smiled and nodded. "Yes. In the meantime, you need sleep. We'll work on things in the morning, ok?" She was tired too. It had been a long day and an even longer night. Savannah snugged closer, nodding. Tomorrow. They could deal with things tomorrow.