Learning to Lie - Chapter Two: Before the Gates
Wednesday, June 14, 2006

AU. Where it begins for Inara.


Inara was ten-years-old when she stepped through the gates of The Companion Training House on Sihnon.

Before that, she’d only ever seen the school from outside the opulent gates that surrounded the acres and acres of grounds owned by the guild. Growing up, the youngest of three daughters in one of the most affluent families on Sihnon, she should have known nothing about the Companion Guild. The goings on behind the columns that stretched toward the sky, ivy twisting around the aged marble, were not the thing for young girls to hear.

But Inara knew from a young age that her fate lay within the stone walls. It was her mother who’d brought it up first, when she was only six.

Her fathers study was a favorite hiding place, she liked the smell of old books and leather interlaced with the lingering scent of the Leisri cigar smoke that her father favored. They’d entered silently, and Inara prepared herself to jump out from behind the chaise lounge and surprise them. Quite often, her father would gather her into his lap and read to her from the oldest books; stories about kings and queens, gods and mortals.

The snap in her mother’s voice stopped her.

“Silia and Anika are not suitable.”

“And neither is Inara!” Her father snapped, his back turned to his wife as he crossed the room to his desk. “This is not up for discussion, Isadora.”

“Nor should it be,” her mother exhaled slowly. “Inara is the youngest. She’ll be the most malleable to that way of life. You’ve only but to look at her to know her beauty exceeds that of her sisters.”

Inara felt a flush of pleasure at the compliment. Her mother had never called her beautiful before. As far as she could remember, her mother never paid much attention at all to Inara or her sisters.

“The prestige of a Companion in the family is immeasurable, Solon.”

“I will not have my daughter made a whore!”

Inara didn’t know what that meant, but it sounded bad. Whatever it was, she vowed then and there that she’d never be.

Her mother’s voice dipped low and Inara could barely hear it. “You’ve contracted with a Companion frequently enough, my love. I hardly think Cassandra would think kindly of you for calling her a whore.”

Inara knew Cassandra.

She was friends with her mother.

Her father’s voice was cold, colder than Inara had ever heard it. “The answer is no. Not Inara.”

Spine stiff, her mother straightened the silk of her skirt. “That may be your answer now, but when she reaches the age of ten, you’ll have changed your mind. I promise.”

“I don’t want your promise,” He ground through his teeth at her retreating back.

It was the first time Inara had ever heard her parents fight. She curled up where she was, too scared to move from her hiding place, until she fell asleep.

The next thing she knew, she awoke beneath the down blankets of her own bed, warm and secure.

But she didn’t forget.

In the four years that followed, Inara learned all that she could about the Companion Guild. She was small and young, two facts that meant she was often ignored by the adults around her. If she kept quiet and discreet, people simply forgot that she was there.

That was how she learned that a Companion held the greatest status a woman could rise to on Sihnon of her own accord. And that the prestige would be a boon to her family. Though she could never expect to see them again.

It was why, when she was ten-years-old and she stood at the gates with her father’s hand clasping hers tight enough to cut off circulation, she twisted her fingers free, kissed his cheek and walked up the granite path to her future.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006 7:40 PM


yeh. Wowo. You've a gift for prose, mate. I'm on the edge for more.

Thursday, June 15, 2006 5:32 AM


What a wonderful glance into the origins of Inara's extraordinary life.
This is just getting better and better and I can hardly wait to see where you take the tale.

Thursday, June 15, 2006 6:41 AM


Sounds from this chapter as if Inara's mother was simply getting rid of any competition for her father's affection. After all, a beautiful daughter whom the father dotes on may not be the mother's favourite person. With them being monied I can't see how they did it for the money. Poor Inara. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, November 22, 2006 6:58 PM


What do you mean there's no more... sniff sniff... it was just starting to get interesting. Hope you'll decide to take this story up again in the near future. You've drawn me in and I'd love to know where you're going with it.


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