Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

It's a bit loyaltyoathy for my taste, but with idiots like John C,Wright around...

As a member of the Outer Alliance, I advocate for queer speculative fiction and those who create, publish and support it, whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity. I make sure this is reflected in my actions and my work.

And it's Outer Alliance Pride Day.

You can find the Alliance here.

And here, behind the cut, is a moderately queer bit of the novel. All you need to know is that Emma has been working as a fixer in the supernatural world for some years, accompanied by her ghost lover Caroline - and they have found themselves caught up in the affairs of elves and vampires.

, She wore a silk scarf round her throat and took the trouble to eat three cloves of garlic just before arriving at the concert.

'I'm here to observe the vampires,' she said, more to boost her own confidence than to communicate information. 'I'm not here as their snack.'

The concert audience looked pretty much like any other and if there were vampires among the audience, it was hard to be sure in a crowd of people most of whom tended to the frail, pale and distraught looking. No-one was wearing useful signifiers like evening dress with red-lined black cloaks.

'What about the Goth kid?' Caroline said, pointing at a particularly pale girl in her late teens with long black ringlets, carefully layered black and purple eye-shadow and net gloves carefully torn to reveal small scars, none of them deep and most of them new.

'That would just be too obvious,' Emma said, ' but in a world with vampires and elves in it, I suppose the obvious should not be ignored. Particularly when she seems to have minders.'

As they watched, it became clearer that somewhere within a couple of feet of the young Goth , while seeming never actually to be watching her, were two large men whose coarsely shaven heads did not match their tailored black suits and whose ears jutted out as if they were twin gargoyles.

'Now they,' Emma said,' are more like my idea of a vampire.'

'They are more like my idea of an East-End gangster, actually,' Caroline said. 'The sort that are supposed to have gone out of fashion in the Sixties but somehow still seem to be in the queue for salf-beef bagels at three in the morning.'

'You mean you don't sit faithfully by my bed all night while I sleep,' Emma said.

'No,' Caroline said. 'What is the point of being a ghost if you can't go out and people-watch some of the time? You are not a very interesting sleeper, as it happens; you just lie in a curled up heap blowing little bubbles from your mouth and making vague whimpering noises. I love you dearly, but I do get bored sometimes, particularly if you forget to leave the television on for me.'

As the audience started to file into the concert hall, the young Goth disappeared round a corner and down the stairs to the ladies' toilet. The two men took up positions at the head of the stairs and those few women who were moving against the press of the crowd, clearly intending to make a last minute dash before the Brahms, suddenly changed their minds.

Emma, though, just smiled sweetly at the men - charm costs nothing - and walked straight past them and down the stairs; there seemed to her little point in being subtle, because, after all, they were in the foyer of a concert hall surrounded by some scores of people.

'Was it wise?' Caroline said, ' to tip them off that you can brush aside low level compulsions?'

'Yes, ' Emma said,.' I rather think it was wise to make it very clear that I am who and what I am. It is not as if these people, if they are who we think they are, do not know all about me anyway. So attitude is all.'

She smiled at her lover mischievously.

'Either this kid is a player of some sort, or she is a completely innocent and random cute young thing whom I have followed into the loos on general lascivious principle. Right now,' she went on,' I am not too bothered which.'

'I'll stay out here,' Caroline said. 'You'll need some sort of warning if they decide to come in after you.'

Emma had noticed that Caroline very rarely followed her into lavatories.

'There are some bits of human existence I don't care to be reminded of,' she had said haughtily when Emma had asked her about it.

When Emma walked into the toilet, the elderly attendant was curled up asleep on the tiled floor and the Goth was sitting in her comfortable chair.

'You're Emma Jones, aren't you?' she said, looking up. 'My father said you would probably turn up around now.'

She looked Emma up and down with a bored expression.

'Personally,' she said with a long stress on the first syllable that was clearly intended to be a far more successful sneer than it was, 'I don't see what the fuss is about. '

Emma smiled at her in a way that this child might think benevolent.

'Personally,' she echoed in a way that was only mildly mocking, ' I'm inclined to agree with you. It's very easy to be the best at what you do if there is no-one else much doing it. '

The Goth looked vaguely puzzled, in an aggressive sort of way.

'Father said you were a lot more arrogant than that.'

'I find,' Emma said, ' that one should never place too much reliance on the opinons of one's father.'

She looked at the young woman appraisingly.

'Come to that,' Emma said, ' I had sort of hoped that when I finally got to meet a vampire princess there would be some sort of surprise involved. I suppose both of us are doomed to disappointment.'

The Goth drooped her lower lip petulantly, in a more or less becoming way that had only a little bit to do with the very expensive looking plum-coloured gloss that she affected.

'I mean,' Emma said, ' I would have expected something by way of fangs at least.'

'I've got fangs,' the girl said in a hurt little voice. 'They're almost through. Look.'

And suddenly Emma found herself conducting an impromptu dental examination as the girl stepped in close and opened her mouth wide so that Emma could see two small white points that had barely penetrated the gum.

'You poor dear,' she said. 'Teething those must really hurt.'

'It is part of the price of blood,' the girl said. 'Learning to live with pain is part of what fits us for rule.'

'Ah,' Emma said noncommittally. Why is it that upper class people are so keen on telling you how their problems make them superior?

Even Caroline, bless her.

'They're a little on the small side,' Emma said.

'I know,' said the girl, disappointedly, ' but they're ever so sharp.'

And raked one of her hands against her mouth in a way that made clear where the tears in her gloves and skin had come from.

'Yes,' Emma said. 'I see that.'

This close, the girl smelled strongly of patchouli and iron, with a faint undercurrent of mothballs; Emma was uneasily aware of just how close together they were standing but was not going to back away from a child half her age.

Even if that child was a supposedly deadly predator.

The girl smiled, making the most of those extra teeth and a pair of eyes that some would find hypnotic in their kohl-rimmed intensity.

'Am I making you uneasy, Emma Jones?' she said.

Emma smiled back.

A properly aggressive smile really is all in the carriage of the neck, far more than the teeth or the eyes.

'Not especially,' she said. 'Once you've fended off the occasional lamia and succubus, glamours don't affect you very much. And you really should air velvet for a couple of hours before you wear it.'

The child looked disappointed.

'I don't know what your father said,' Emma went on, ' but I don't fall for teenagers. I'm an old married woman, you silly thing.'

She thought about mentioning the fact that the girl was on the brink of some vast dynastic marriage, but, standing this close, with the girl's hot breath in her nostrils, mentioning elf-princes did not seem appropriate.

'Still, ' Emma said. 'After a quick run through the literature, glad to see that you fit the seductive stereotype, rather than going for the bat ears and withered features look.'

'Oh,' the goth said. 'I do have an uncle like that, but most of us are really quite presentable. My uncle doesn't go out into society, of course. Or anywhere much.'

'Nice to know,' Emma said.

Then from upstairs came the galloping chords that start the Brahms and called Emma back to recollection of what she was here for.

She started to turn for the stairs but the Goth pulled gently but firmly at her wrist.

'You can't go in just now,' she said, ' because the concert has started. So we may as well take our time. In a few moments, the room will be prepared and you can take your seat with the rest of the cattle... We won't, of course, feed from you because that would be a discourtesy in the circumstances. Oh, and for future reference, many of us rather like a smidge of garlic in the blood.'

Emma genuinely did not know what was about to go on - nothing good she was sure but equally nothing especially bad.

If vampires regularly devoured whole concert audiences, the market for classical music would be declining even faster than it is.

'Oh,' she said with one of those leaps of intuition that almost never got her into trouble and sometimes got her out. ‘Little and often. That makes sense.'

The Goth looked at her pityingly.

'Of course,' she said. 'We are vampires, not psychopaths.'

'And concerts are handy because they give you access to a reasonable number of people in a state of relaxation. Which makes them suggestible, which means a group of you can use glamours on all of them. Don't the musicians ever notice?'

'No,' the Goth said. 'Musicians never notice anything which makes concerts a far safer space for us than theatres. Actors are always checking for love out of the corners of their eyes.'

Caroline suddenly arrived through the ceiling - poor dear must be flustered, Emma thought, because normally she uses stairs and the door.

'Everyone upstairs seems to be falling asleep,' she said. 'I know it's Brahms, but that seems excessive. They haven't even got to a slow bit yet.'

'Oh,' Emma said. 'Apparently it's some sort of trance that combines aesthetic ecstasy with vampiric glamour. You didn't think they came to concerts for the music, did you?'

'Some of us like the music,' the Goth said. ‘Not my sort of thing, personally. Great-grandfather realized that concerts were a good convenient feeding place, but only because he was going to concerts already. He had his man of business ask that Haydn to London, you know - we don't just take.'

'How very responsible of you,' Emma said, stepping back over the snoring attendant and walking up the stairs, past the Goth’s bodyguards and into the hall. The quartet were sawing away like fury in seeming blissful ignorance of the fact that their audience were all slumped in their chairs, snoring gently in time to the music.

The moderately gaunt men and women who were still awake stepped along the rows of sleepers, shoving long legs out of their way with no particular care for shins or fear that anyone would awaken. They paused by each person, seized their right wrist and efficiently sucked for half a minute - it was a little like a wine-tasting and a little like an assembly line.

Caroline, suddenly wearing a red satin opera cloak and little else save satin knickers and a mostly transparent bustier wandered around behind them with a finger on her lips - there did not seem anything useful for her to do, so she might as well indulge her taste for parody.

The Goth followed Emma in and placed a restraining hand on her shoulder, not that Emma had any idea of anything useful that she needed to do. Nothing specifically murderous was going on after all, and she was significantly out-numbered by quasi-supernatural individuals with unknown powers.

Part of her job was not to be stupid, and to watch and learn and keep her temper on a leash.

And bide her time.

One of the bodyguards stepped up, and replaced the goth's admonitory hand with a more forceful pressure of his own.

Emma glared at him and he reduced the pressure a little.

The Goth smiled.

'Normally,' she said, 'Estvan takes attempts by the lower orders to put him in his place rather amiss. I suppose it is a long time, really, since you could properly be regarded as mere cattle, Emma Jones.'

Emma thought of a number of smart retorts and refrained; that too was a part of her job.

Two svelte vampire women in extravagantly tailored black business suits and white ribbed blouses stepped up.

'Princess,' the one with black hair said, and the one with red hair opened her mouth improbably wide before walking up to the Goth, who leaned her head back, but not in submission..

Quite suddenly, the redhead vomited a small quantity of fresh blood into the Goth’s opened mouth. The Goth swirled it round her palate meditatively and swallowed hard. The redhead stepped back and the brunette replaced her, and did the same.

The Goth stepped back, took a tissue from her voluminous sleeves and patted her lips dry.

Then she looked at Emma enquiringly.

'If it's all the same,' Emma said,' I'll abstain. Sharing would be such a very vulgar thing to do. It's not particularly that I disapprove, you understand - you are doing what is in accordance with your nature and I, sooner or later, shall do what is in accordance with mine.'

'Is that some sort of a threat?' said the Goth.

'Only if it needs to be,' said Emma, and paused to listen to the music. The hunting theme was by now periodically turning into one of those gorgeous Brahms cello and viola meanders, the music of rivers thinking to themselves.

Sometimes one needs to experience the pleasure of the moment rather than focus.

A couple more minions came over and did the thing with the blood - clearly this was not all about their princess getting to eat and in part some sort of ritual of submission. How tediously feudal, Emma thought, though somewhat less repulsive than you'd think.

As the music quickened to the end of the movement, she turned to the goth and said ' Oddly enough, no one has yet bothered to tell me your name.'

'Elodie,' the Goth said and was vain enough to say it with a 'one day you can say you knew me before I built my empire' emphasis.

How adorable villainy often is in the young, Emma thought to herself.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.