Never Left
Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A sequel to Don’t Leave Me . What would Inara’s life be like if she never left Sihnon?


Words: 1334 Disclaimer: It’s all about Joss Summary: A sequel to Don’t Leave Me . What would Inara’s life be like if she never left Sihnon?

Never Left

Inara Serra, House Priestess of House Madrassa on Sihnon, disrobed in the solitude of her lush chambers letting her clothes hit the floor one garment at a time. Even as a child, she had never been one to leave her clothing on the floor. As House Priestess, however, she found that such small and irrational indulgences were key to keeping her sanity. Inara deserved to let her clothes fall to the floor. She’d had a long day, and the next promised to be even longer.

The morning had started like any other. She had gathered the girls she could (on any given night, at least ten of her thirty-nine charges would be away one business, sleeping outside House Madrassa’s warm walls) and led them in morning meditation, a ritual she had led tirelessly each morning since taking on her duties as House Priestess four months earlier. Inara did not much like leading the rituals. She had always taken such joy in meditation before her promotion. Losing herself in the breathing and the chants had been a source of great strength and peace. Now, she dreaded meditations each morning, dreaded each tedious bell chime. Remembering her role in the ritual wasn’t hard. Performing the ritual wasn’t difficult, either. Overcoming the longing for what once was, however… Inara sometimes missed her old freedoms.

A small sacrifice, she reminded herself, for attaining the position she’d always wanted. Inara was High Priestess of House Madrassa, an incredible feat, and as the young age of twenty-seven years old. She was a singular woman, they said, a phenomenon. And they weren’t wrong. No one had ever achieved the rank of House Mistress at so young an age. Inara was extraordinary.

After meditation she and the girls had breakfast. She tried to eat with them when she could, but work nearly always called her away. Running a house required a high level of organization. She often found herself eating her breakfast on her feet, talking with the cooking staff about the latest supplies needed, or asking the gardeners what flowers they would be planting in the spring. There were a thousand little details to take care of, and Inara couldn’t afford to let them get away from her.

For two hours after breakfast Inara kept office hours. Very rarely did any of her girls (or boys – she had accepted the first two men into House Madrassa two weeks after her term began) have appointments that early in the day. Most who had appointments away from the House had returned by that hour. She left her door open, inviting any who needed her to seek her out, to talk to her. And they did. The girls loved Inara. She wasn’t like their instructors at the training houses had been, so concerned about the rules that they sometimes forgot about the girls following them. No. Under Inara’s rule, the girls came first. She was talk with them about anything no matter how trivial or taboo.

After meeting with the girls she tried to make time to visit a training house, sometimes two if she had the time. Inara, like all the House Priestesses on Sihnon, made a point of keeping track of the progress of the Companions in Training. Inara was unique in that she would spend some time with the younger girls – fourteen, thirteen, even twelve – while most of the other priestesses with focus their energies on the older girls, silently picking and choosing who would go to which house and how much they were worth. Inara silently abhorred the game, but made no secret of how good she was at playing it. House Madrassa had a long reputation of being one of the best Houses on Sihnon. Inara wouldn’t want to be remembered as the woman who let House Madrassa slip.

She came back to her House and attended to more business. All the little details she couldn’t get to during breakfast she took care of now. Sometimes, she ate lunch, but on most days she forgot it entirely. She held regular meetings with senators and state officials, with Sihnon higher-ups and frequent customers. She would wave other Guild officials, visit them if she had the time, to discuss their latest policies and politics and whatnot. And of course, she took care of all the paper work – performance reviews, clientele reports, contracts to be amended and accepted. She wrote letters, asking for this and that, tending to such-and-such an agreement, all the little business that needed to be tended to behind the scenes in order to ensure her girls lived comfortably under her care.

She then spent a number of hours going through the latest batch of applicants who wanted to be listed in the Guild registry, accepting some, rejecting others. She would sent Fatima a wave, telling her a newly registered female – Loretta Westfall – seemed compatible with her services. She told both Nimue and Elias about Bogdan Wrobel, a middle-aged businessman who just lost his wife. Nimue and Elias were among the most sensitive of her girls and boys, Inara thought. Much better than Petronel or Magda at dealing with grief.

On that day, there had been extra arrangements to be made. Tomorrow evening was the Annual Sihnon Governor’s Ball, for which all of her girls and boys had been contracted for months. As House Priestess, Inara was expected to participate in the services and to attend the function on the arm of the Governor himself, who had never married. There were phone calls to be made, contracts to be mended at the last moment. She had to have her dressed fitted and adjusted. Inara would be glad when tomorrow night was over. The stress… there was so much to do and it never ended. It never stopped. Inara felt almost ready to fall over, there was so much…

And, like a fool, she had scheduled a dinner contract. Inara didn’t take clients on as frequently now that she was a House Priestess and received most of her income from the Guild direct, but she liked to keep them nonetheless. She had dinner with an old client, Randolph Della Monaco. She had contracted with him first after the death of his mother. It had been a difficult time for him, but Inara had helped him through it. She liked to contract with him now from time to time, just to see how he was. After dinner they made love at his apartment. She left shortly after midnight and returned to House Madrassa. She disrobed, letting her clothing fall onto the floor.

She put on her robe – an old robe, blue, covered with flowers – and stepped onto her personal balcony. Below her was a waterfall. Above, the stars. Inara looked up, out at the universe. And for a moment, she let herself wonder, let herself wonder what it would have been like if she’d left when she wanted to, let herself wonder who she would be if she hadn’t suffered through the pain and the sacrifice she’s gone through to attain the position she had now, let herself wonder if out there, somewhere, was a cure for all the pain and the exhaustion and the utter emptiness that she –


Inara woke with a start. For a moment, she could do nothing but shake in her bed. She took a deep breath, calmed herself down. It was just a dream. It had all been a dream. She was lying on her bed. She was on Serenity, in her shuttle she… she needed some tea. She went to the kitchen to fetch tea.

And of course, Mal was there. Her… she couldn’t think of it, couldn’t think of the dream, the things that he meant to her couldn’t… and of course, their exchange was dry and meaningless. What are you doing? Maybe hurtful. Getting some tea. I couldn’t sleep. Is that all right with you, Captain Reynolds? Inara didn’t know. She couldn’t tell what Mal was feeling, not tonight, not exactly.

So she went back to her shuttle, she drank her tea, and she began to cry.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006 11:48 AM


Nice take on Inara's life had she not left Sihnon. I honestly did not believe the beginning was a dream, but I'm glad it was! I really like the way this is written as well. Please give us more M/I.

Thursday, August 31, 2006 12:52 AM


really enjoying this keep writing

Thursday, August 31, 2006 3:47 AM


Nice. Had no idea it would be a dream. Nice

Sunday, September 3, 2006 3:21 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER's fascinating to think on how Inara's life would have gone had she not decided to explore the 'Verse and rent one of Serenity's shuttles. Not as blatantly horrific as Mal's dream...but you can sense the frustration and exhaustion leaking through your descriptors about Inara's life on Sihnon;)

Gotta say though...would have been interesting to have seen her note about events like Reavers on Whitefall or the Ariel heist from a non-involved perspective:D


Monday, November 27, 2006 3:42 AM


Awsome story... It captures so much of her personality and gives a little insight to what life as House Priestess would mean for her...i

Keep it up!


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