This fic can pretty much be read on it's own, even if you haven't read the Wraeththu series by Storm Constantine. All that I really borrowed is the setting in the books, and the concept of the Wraeththu. All the characters are original and everything you'll need to know is in the notes.
The Wraeththu have overrun the world, taking the place of humans, and the Gimrah are the only tribe in Jaddayoth that will have any contact with the remaining humans. They allow them to stay in their land, and the interaction is pretty open. Once a boy reaches puberty and has fathered a male child, he can then be incepted into Wraeththu.
The Ferike tribe is famous for their artistic abilities. It isn’t uncommon for rich members of other tribes to purchase a Ferike youth to breed with their own sons, thereby improving their family’s bloodline.
Aghama – The first of the Wraeththu, worshipped as a god
Aruna – Wraeththu sexual intercourse. The ouana is the equivalent of the seme, the soume is the uke.
Chesnari - Partner, this is as close as two Wraeththu can get.
Har – Wraeththu individual. Plural is ‘hara’
Harling – A Wraeththu youth that has not yet reached sexual maturity
Hostling: A har that carries a pearl to term.
Pearl – Harlings are birthed in this form. Seven days after, the fully formed harling emerges from the pearl.
Wraeththu – A beautiful race of hermaphrodites that have evolved from mankind.
For more information on Wraeththu, go to this site
I think that that's all anyone needs to know.
Summary: Ruhari is a human boy growing up within the Gimrah tribe, where humans can freely interact with the Wraeththu. The prominent Canmyr family of Lemarath has taken him in as one of their own, and he grows up alongside the the son of the family heir, Lharon.
Will their friendship survive as Lharon becomes more and more immersed in the ways of the Wraeththu, while Ruhari stubbornly holds on to his human roots?
Ties That Bind
Vanyen was in pain. An awful lot of it, in fact. I could see and understand that much, although little else of what was happening made sense to me. I was only eight years old then, and the development of human children takes notably longer than that of a Wraeththu harling. I'd also never witnessed the delivery of a pearl before, so the whole thing was scaring the proverbial shit out of me.
I stood by the open doorway of the bedchamber, my mind incapable of fully grasping what I was seeing. Vanyen was sprawled out on his bed, writhing about as wave after wave of pain washed over him. I wanted to rush in there and throw my arms around his neck as I always did whenever I noticed he was upset. That always made him smile and say he felt better. But I was scared, and I couldn't get myself to move. I didn't like the way he was screaming. It was as if his insides were being ripped apart. He sounded like he'd lost his mind and had become an animal of sorts, an animal that could do nothing about its suffering but cry out at the top its lungs.
Vanyen's consort, the dashing Lexin, was in an unaccustomed state of disarray. His face was as pale as Vanyen's own and after he caught a glimpse of the dark red stains upon the bed sheets, he looked as though he would have liked to sink down onto a floor in a dead faint. I knew how he felt. Seeing all of that blood made me want to turn around and empty my stomach of the big breakfast that I had indulged in just a few hours ago. Lexin began calling out for the mercy of the Aghama then. His voice sounded choked with fear, which in turn was rubbing off on me.
Was Vanyen going to die? Lexin was certainly acting as though he was. I wanted to get away to where I wouldn't have to see this, but I was paralyzed, so I remained standing there, taking in everything, the frantic Lexin, Vanyen gone mad with pain.
Only Brynn, Lexin's hostling, seemed to be unmoved by the situation, abruptly pushing his son aside and taking his place by the side of the bed. He wasn't at all affected by the bloodcurdling screams coming from his child's consort. Brynn had always been the strong one, the one to take charge of situations when the need arose. "Get out," He commanded of his son, "have your hysterics elsewhere. You're not helping him at all by being here."
"I'm no longer a harling that you can order around, Brynn." Lexin pointed out through gritted teeth. His face was drawn, eyes still on his consort in spite of the argument that was brewing between him and the har who had delivered him into this world.
"Then for Aghama's sake, and Vanyen's, stop acting like one." After a pause in which Brynn gently wiped the beads of sweat off Vanyen's forehead with the sleeve of his shirt, he continued, his tone softer, meant to calm and reassure his son. "It will be over soon. The first pearl is always the hardest. I have seen many birthings, and gone through quite a few myself. Trust someone who knows."
And just like that, the tension between host and son had dissipated, and they were able to focus on more pressing matters, such as Vanyen's comfort. I was reminded of the task that Brynn had given me, and knocked hesitantly on the doorframe, holding out towards him the clean towels that he had asked for when he turned to see who it was that had come.
For a while he looked surprised to see me, having probably forgotten all about the orders that he'd barked out downstairs, once it became evident that Vanyen's time for birthing had come. Then he swept over to me, hurriedly taking the towels and gently nudging me out of the room. "Thank you, Ruhari."
"Vanyen…" I whispered. Brynn had positioned himself so that he blocked my view of the bed within the room, but I could still hear Vanyen's moans, his cursing. I'd never heard him utter a foul word before. Van had always been very genteel and proper, even when extremely emotional, so I gathered that what was happening was making him very, very upset. "Can I see him? I want to know if he's all right…"
"He will be. And you will see him later, as soon as all this is over. But what's going on right now is not for the eyes of little boys. Go downstairs and keep Kaelyn company. He is worried about his brother's consort." Before I could even say anything in response, before I could beg him to let me in for just a while, he'd already shut the door, leaving me standing out there in the hallway.
For a while I just stood there. The sounds of Vanyen's birthing had become muffled. A servant of the family's that was bearing hot water pushed me aside as he barged into the room that I had just been thrown out of. Another came soon after with the village healer in tow.
Once it finally sank in that I could do nothing for my friend, I trudged wearily downstairs, eventually finding Kaelyn curled up on a couch in the living room.
He looked up as I entered, and patted the space on the couch beside him, indicating that I should join him there.
Kaelyn was only eleven years old in human years, but already looked like a young adult in his early twenties. It had been explained to me that Wraeththu children matured twice as fast as human babies, both mentally and physically, and I couldn't wait until I became something like Kaelyn. He was a beautiful creature, much like his brother and hostling.
The sunlight streaming in through the narrow windows picked out the golden streaks in his light brown hair, his pale skin was as flawless as a newborn harling's, and his eyes were the warm color of molten gold. I adored him almost as much as I did Vanyen. How could you not worship someone that was so utterly perfect in every way?
"Hello, little one." He murmured, his eyes following the servants hurrying in and out of the living room, on their way to the staircase that would lead them up to the second floor and the room where Vanyen was birthing. "It's a busy day today, isn't it?"
"Vanyen's time has come."
"Yes. I know, everyone has been talking about it. I'm about to be an uncle!" He laughed at the thought. "Soon it will be my turn to produce another little harling for Brynn to fawn over. But first I have to find someone, the perfect consort. Perhaps I'll wait for /you/, Hari!" He poked me in the ribs, making me squirm.
I flushed bright red. Kaelyn was always saying awkward things like that, claiming that he would wait until I'd been incepted and turned Wraeththu so that he could take me as his partner. It made me uncomfortable, but he wouldn't stop saying such things, even after I'd asked him.
He would joke about being the first to show me the joys of aruna, which Lexin always told him was improper of him, because a human child couldn't possibly understand what he was talking about. But he never cared what his older brother said to him, Kaelyn has a mind of his own and does and says whatever he pleases.
Once I asked Vanyen what aruna was and why Kaelyn would want to be the first to teach me about it, and he just told me not to listen to Kaelyn, who had aruna in the brain anyway and needed to be talked to by Brynn about proper conversation topics with little human boys. He always told me that I would find out once I became one of them. But the thing was that I didn't know if I /wanted/ to be Wraeththu. My older brother once made the choice to undergo the change, and look what happened to him. He's gone now. Dead because the change had gone wrong.
"You look pale, Hari."
"I saw him…" I whispered, taking a handful of Kaelyn's hair and running my hands through it, twisting a silky strand between two fingers. "I think he's going to die, Lyn…"
"And what makes you say that?"
"He kept on screaming 'Get it out! It's killing me!'. I think it really /is/ killing him, and I don't want Vanyen to die! I like Vanyen a lot."
"He's not going to die. He doesn't look it, but he's sturdier than that. You know Van. He's just mouthy, so he's letting his displeasure at his situation be known, because if he can't get comfortable, then he's determined to see that no one else here will be either, which is why he's disturbing everyone with his screaming." Kaelyn reassured me, and I laughed in spite of myself, suddenly feeling a bit better.
If Kaelyn said that Vanyen was going to be all right, then he probably was. I trusted him implicitly, even though Vanyen himself did not. I've known the golden eyed har sitting beside me from the day I was born after all. He'd been with me all my life.
Vanyen, meanwhile, came to Ardith only a year and a half ago, when Lexin's father arranged for his oldest son to take a consort from one of the Ferike tribe's finest families.
I liked him instantly. He spent so much time with me. I suppose I was something of a novelty to him. Until he came to Gimrah territory, he'd never before encountered a human, so he was enchanted by the little boy that followed Brynn around everywhere like an adoring puppy. I suppose he was also pining for his home back in West Jaddayoth, and I like to think that I made the adjustment to his life with the Canmyr family easier for him.
He asked me a lot of questions whenever he had me to himself. He would have me brush his hair out for him or would sometimes teach me how to draw as he asked me all sorts of things. How had I come to live in the Canmyr household? Had I been here my whole life?
I had been born here, I'd told him. My mother had been Brynn's personal attendant, and when she had died several years ago, she'd gotten him to promise to care for me and my older brother, and Brynn was good to his word, becoming something of a second mother to us.
Vanyen had had a lot of questions about this 'mother' person that I'd spoken of. What was she, and why was she so important to me? When I told him that he must have had a mother too, someone that had carried him to term, he'd said no, his hostling had done that. That was when I first started becoming aware of the essential differences between Wraeththu and humans, of which there were many.
"Vanyen's going to be a mother…" I murmured thoughtfully, having a hard time picturing the short tempered Ferike beauty tending to a harling. He'd always avoided them whenever Lexin's best friend brought his brood to the Canmyr residence with him.
"Hostling," Kaelyn corrected me. "Vanyen is a hostling. Maybe someday, you'll have the opportunity to be one too."
I shook my head. "No." I would never, /ever/ willingly put myself through what I'd seen happening to Vanyen. I couldn't picture myself surviving such a thing.
Kaelyn raised an eyebrow at my vehemence. "No?" he repeated, sounding put off, as if I'd ruined some plan of his with that statement. "You wouldn't even consider carrying /my/ pearl? I'm your Kaelyn, and you're my Ruhari after all." His tone had turned playful and he pressed a quick kiss against my cheek, the place where his lips had made contact tingling in a strange way once he pulled away. I brought a hand up to my cheek, and he watched in apparent amusement.
"Lexin told me that you shouldn't be talking to me of such things." I told him softly, not knowing what else I could say. "It's improper."
"Lexin thinks everything I do is improper."
"Maybe you should change then?"
"Do you want me to?"
I considered this for a while. Then finally, I shook my head. "No. I like you the way that you are."
The bright smile that blossomed on his lips after I'd said this was enough to help me forget about Vanyen and his birthing trouble.
Brynn found us still there in the living room two hours later. Vanyen had asked his family to send him children's books for me, and Kaelyn had gotten one of those, and was listening to me trying to read out loud from it.
I stopped stumbling through a particularly hard passage when I saw the tall, fair haired Brynn standing by the couch where the two of us were seated. He had a smile on his face as he beckoned for Kaelyn and I to get up. His hair looked a little rumpled, but other than that, he appeared to be his usual, totally collected self, having left behind the memories of the difficult birthing as soon as he'd set foot out of the bedchambers where Vanyen now rested. "Would you like to see the pearl?"
"He is all right then?" Kaelyn asked, rising gracefully and smoothing down his garments. He took my hand as I slid off the couch and we began to follow his hostling.
"Yes. Lexin shall have his own little harling very soon." Brynn confirmed, his pleasure at the thought of having a harling underfoot was practically radiating off him. This open display of emotion was unusual, since Brynn was not the type who was very vocal about his feelings. He hadn't even shed a tear when his chesnari, the father of his two sons, had died while on his way home from doing business with the Hadassah. At least not in the presence of others.
Brynn chatted of possible names for the harling, already making plans to hire a human woman from the village to act as a caretaker.
"Vanyen will not like that," Kaelyn remarked quite sensibly. The Ferike consort had never taken kindly to having any decisions made for him. He struggled against anything that he felt was being forced onto him. So when his hostling had one day told him to pack his bags, he was going to Ardith to meet the consort that had been arranged for him, Vanyen had not been pleased at all. It had taken him months to get used to the Canmyr family, and that time had been absolute hell for everyone involved.
"Vanyen will like having a harling constantly around him even less." Brynn replied.
At that point I stopped listening to what they were saying. Their conversation had turned to preparations for the harling's hatching. There was an unoccupied room right next to the apartment that Lexin and Vanyen shared, and they planned to convert that into the harling's nursery. Kaelyn actually seemed excited about the prospect of having a new life around. He hadn't been before.
Brynn pushed open the door to the room. He ushered me in before Kaelyn, and there Vanyen was, lying on the bed, propped up into a sitting position by a whole bunch of pillows, and looking very exhausted, but still quite alive. Lexin lay stretched out beside him, his head resting on his consort's shoulder. He was speaking to him softly. Every few seconds he would stop to place a gentle kiss against Vanyen's pale cheek. The healer had gone, as had all of the servants. This was time for the family.
It was remarkable how well these two now got along, considering how rocky the first few months after their introduction had been. I could remember all of Vanyen's outraged screaming once it became obvious that yes, his family had indeed promised him to someone that he didn't even know, and how awkward Lexin had been around the dark haired Ferike beauty. Now they had developed feelings for each other that ran deep enough to enable them to create a pearl. Everything had worked out in the end, as it always eventually did in the house of Canmyr.
I sidled up to Vanyen's bedside. He looked better now, his color was returning, and he actually managed to smile at me. I touched his hand, and it felt a little clammy, but I wasn't worried. He was definitely going to live. "Van, are you all right?" I asked, my voice still soft in spite of the fact that the bedchamber that the two shared had ceased to be a sick room. There was an air of merriment all about us now, Kaelyn was congratulating his brother heartily, their differences forgotten for the time being.
"Were you worried?" He asked me, a little smile on his lips. He reached out to smooth back my hair, his touch wonderfully gentle. I nodded, and he laughed. "Brynn told me that you'd seen me. I must have looked simply horrific, judging by the expression on your face!"
My lips trembled just a little at the memory. "You were shouting so loud! You said you were never going to let Lexin touch you ever again…"
I appeared to have said something funny, because all of the hara in the room with me had burst out laughing, Lexin chuckling louder than all of the others.
"So I'll never lay a finger on you again, will I, Van?" He asked. His arm snaked around Vanyen's shoulders and he pulled him closer to him. They shared breath, seemingly forgetting about the others. Brynn watched all of this, a slightly wistful expression on his face.
Back when his consort, a big, imposing har by the name of Hanji, had still been alive, he and Brynn could always be seen sharing such closeness around the house, but ever since Hanji's death, I hadn't seen Brynn showing such affection to anyone else. It was sad because Brynn deserved to have someone that loved him as much as Lexin had come to love Vanyen.
When Lexin eventually pulled away from his consort, he leaned over and picked me up, heaving me up onto the bed. "Would you like to see the pearl?" He asked me rather unnecessarily.
I nodded, of course. I was curious. I'd seen pearls before. Brynn had lots of them, strung together to form a necklace. He lets me put the clasp on for him sometimes when he wears them, and I think the pearls are very beautiful. Pale, perfectly round orbs; they looked like miniature moons.
What I saw was something completely different from what I had been expecting. Lexin pulled back the blankets a little and nestled between his and Vanyen's bodies was the pearl, where eventually a harling, a new life would emerge.
It was much larger than any pearl that I'd ever seen before, it's shell a lustrous black. I sucked in my breath. "A little harling is supposed to come from that?" I asked somewhat doubtfully. I couldn't see how a creature like Lexin or Vanyen could possibly have emerged from such a thing. Had they made some sort of mistake? Maybe they were playing tricks on me. Kaelyn did that all the time, but the others never had before, so this must be an honest mistake.
"In about a week, a little harling will burst forth from that, and I can't wait!" Vanyen enthused. He was trailing his finger lazily along the surface of the pearl, his expression dreamy. "I hope my harling looks like me."
Kaelyn smirked. "He's insulting you, brother!"
"I'll let him get away with it for now," Lexin said generously. "He's the one that's been going through a torturous birth for the last few hours, so some allowances should be made for him."
I reached out, meaning to touch the surface of the pearl, but snatched my hand back once I saw Vanyen's green eyes turned to me. "Can I?" I asked hesitantly.
In response he took my hand and lay it upon the pearl. I could feel the warmth of it against my skin. Yes, there was quite definitely something in there. I could feel it. Something was growing and biding it's time until it should emerge, a perfectly formed harling that would change life in the Canmyr household as we all knew it.
To Be Continued
Don't Lick the Eyecandy
So many bishounen, so little time -_- So start licking! NOW!
- [fic] (Wraeththu) Ties That Bind