When the guys asked her about her name, she'd tell them that it was French for a place of forgetfulness, because that was her secret power: she would make them forget about things. And they would forget just a little, and they'd leave a little happier and a few hundred dollars lighter. And at the end of the night she'd leave, and head home, to who knows where. She never really seemed to let anyone get close enough to know where she lived or even her real name.
At least no one could remember.
There was good reason for that. She was indeed named after the Oubliette, the Place of Forgetfulness, but it wasn't really her name as much as her title. She had been a member of the White Court, graced from birth with a particular talent to weave herself into the threads of thought of another, and feed. It was luscious, filled with complexities and patterns, truth and deception, pain and pleasure beyond imagining. Her title, and her duty, was one to serve the Court, as both counsel and means of punishment, or in rare cases, redemption.
Those were the worst, when she was tasked with unweaving and feeding on the memories of those who had earned the gift of Redaction, of Erasure by the Court of every trace of memory of some transgression. Most of the things she had to swallow were at best distasteful, and at worst incomprehensibly evil. It was at those times she would weep, sometimes for days, as the tinge of evil permeated her entire body.
The Day. She remembered it that way, with capital letters, draped in velvet as red as blood. He had been one of the lesser counts, brash and abrasive, cocksure and alive with a kind of charisma and energy that stole and devoured the hearts of young women (and as it turned out, more than a few young men), and he had managed to fend off Erasure with some deft political maneuvering and a few well-placed disappearances. The Court had narrowly awarded him Redaction.
The ceremony was intended to be public and humiliating. The count was not one used to humiliation, and looked into her eyes with a kind of hunger, a broad grin starting to form on his lips.
Their coupling-- and that was how she was compelled to look at it was as a 'coupling'-- was forceful and invasive. He invited her in, smooth and silky, then closed around her with great arms like a bear. He had done this before, and she could feel him invading her, tickling her, unweaving her like she had unwoven so many before her. She felt him merge with her, entwining himself so tightly within her that she could no longer tell where she ended and he began, losing herself, feeling herself being drained, mixed, duplicated and shriven.
And then the words, Felt, rather than heard.
YOU ARE MINE
Capital letters. Solid, form and substance. They gave her a core to wrap herself around, to sink her roots into, to stab and feed, and rip and shred and devour, raw energy and lifeblood and screaming, and a sort of blind pressure that was born of panic mixed with a feral intensity, and everything went white.
When she woke, she was surrounded by handmaidens, wrapped in shrouds of ritual cloth torn from the Narthex, and self-consciously naked.
The Prefect loomed over her, scorn in the lines of his face. "She has regained consciousness, sire".
A smell. Electricity, and copper, and something else, something sharper and deeper. And the voice:
"She has taken that which has earned Redaction. She is forefit."
There was a scurry of activity, something that she remembered more as white noise than anything. There were slashes of crimson, some violet, something that she remembered tasting sharp and tangy and metallic, and the kind of darkness that comes with a deep sleep.
When she woke, it was a bit like surfacing from a dream. There were tendrils of vision of something horrible, but the reality of her vision was quiet and clean, with the smell of freshly-washed linens.
"Milady is awake. Milady should prepare."
The Prefect, His voice somehow hollow and empty in the hall, and with a tinge of something approaching respect.
"For your voyage. Quickly now." and the sound of robes rustling, fading into the distance.
The last minutes after that were a blur. There were hands that bundled her into something that may have been a carriage, the sense of deep sleep and the smell of the ocean and earth, and her waking on ground new and foreign.
And the hunger. When she woke, she fed on an entire village, invading their dreams without even having to touch them. She left them with hollowed eyes and minds so vacant that when the winter came, they simply died.
She learned, after a time, to moderate her hunger. That part of her that had been touched and invaded so long ago, that greedy desire, was tempered by her own sensitivity. She knew now that the White Council was rebuilt over time, and that she was legend in its hallowed halls, and that for her own sense of survival, she had to learn to moderate her hunger, to sip rather than gulp, and to keep her profile low and quiet, sleepy and dark. The lonely, desperate men who came to her club and fawned upon her had memories that were for the most part poignantly sweet considering the evils of her past, and left her with enough sustenance to keep her satisfied, and enough cash-on-hand to allow her a comfortable physical existence.
And the occasional vermin that came in and allowed themselves to get close enough to taste? Well, once in a while a girl can indulge, can't she?