The first time she sneaks out of the house - sneaks proper, not just wander off - she is 7 years old. It will be decided, after the fact, that it was the cook’s fault, or rather, her children. She has made friends with the cook’s two young sons, one who’s about her age and one who’s a bit older, who are here to fetch things and be useful and kept watch on. They are her only friends - the only children who she gets a chance to interact with, and they tell her stories of what they get up to when they’re not working, in this case, playing in the creek.
She’s seen the creek, from her window, but she’s never been. She doesn’t get to go outside very much, and when she does it’s always just to the garden, never further. The creek sounds like so much fun, and so she climbs out the tree by her window and runs off.
It’s probably the happiest memory of her whole childhood. She catches a frog.
When she gets caught, she gets into a fight with her mother. She remembers yelling “it’s not fair” and she remembers her mother’s exasperated “because you’re a girl” and she remembers her father’s icy gaze and going to bed hungry.
When they finally let her out of her room again, the cook had been replaced. She never saw the two boys again.
Things her father likes, about her being a girl
- Girls are useful to marry off to business partners or local nobility in an attempt to increase your status.
- A girl is her mother’s responsibility alone; he doesn’t have to deal with her.
Things her mother likes, about her being a girl
- Girls aren’t allowed to leave the house. They track no mud in, and she doesn’t need to worry about them getting lost.
- She can dress up girls like she would dolls
- Girls learn things she can display, art and music and embroidery.
- Girls have to do everything she says, in a way a son never would.
Things she likes, about being a girl
She doesn’t remember the first time her father brings up the fact he wishes she’d been born a boy. It’s one of those things that doesn’t seem to have a first time, a constant background in her life.
The boy would have been named Beauregard. The boy would have been named heir to the company and would have learned everything. He would have gotten lessons about useful things, not how to embroider little hearts or how to make jewelry or how to play the piano.
She is not certain, if the boy would have been allowed outside, or gotten to make friends, but she thinks he would’ve. She thinks the boy would have gotten everything he ever wanted served to him on a silver platter by parents who loved him.
She doesn’t remember when she started resenting him. But she remembers the first time she did something about it.
The first thing she stole was a set of keys, that she very carefully made copies out of using the metals in her jewelry kit. The second thing she stole was Beauregard.
If they wanted to keep everything locked away from her, kept for only the son they never got, then, well, she’d be that son and take it from them.
Things that Beauregard Lionett learned from their father
- How to read Elvish, from children’s language books and letters of business, discarded and stolen
- How to brew wine, from notes on trade secrets locked in to the safe
- How to keep account books, and how to realistically forge them
- How businesses are run, how to identify your biggest competitors and what will ruin them
- How to not love your child and leave them a broken, angry, desperate mess scrambling through your office in the middle of the night trying to figure out how to make you love them.
When she starts selling the wine she steals, that’s when she starts calling herself Beau. Beauregard is a clunky name, and on her it seems way too posh. Instead she’s Beau, which is short and to the point and sounds kind of like a punch.
She punches people a lot. She does a lot of shit that her parents would hate, but it isn’t like they care what she does, anymore. She’s not sure whether they’d care, if she turned up dead.
She’s given up on trying to learn things from her father, because her father is a piece of shit and he knows jack about the world. Instead she learns from the people who’ll teach her. She learns to pick locks properly and how to be sneaky as fuck and how to punch and how to case buildings and how to steal and how to fence and how o survive in a world that wants you dead.
And she learns about herself, too. Learns that she does like kissing after all.
Things she likes about being a girl
- Literally nothing else
Like everything good in her life, her parents find out, and she never sees the good thing again.
This time she isn’t locked in her room for a week. This time she isn’t sent home at all. Instead it’s blue cloaks and too many hands and suddenly she’s all the way in fucking Zadash.
She misses Tori. She fucking hates this place.
Things she likes about the Cobalt Soul
- Nothing, it’s all bullshit
- Okay, the punching people is really cool.
- And although she’d never tell fucking Zenoth, she doesn’t hate the library part. She learns Deep Speech. How cool is that?
“Gender and me are less friends,” Molly says, offhand, “and more casual acquaintances.”
“What the fuck does that even mean?” she asks, and Molly rolls his eyes.
“My gender, much likes the rest of me, usually falls under ‘who gives a fuck’,” he explains, in what isn’t an explanation at all.
She wishes desperately she could be someone who didn’t constantly bear the weight of a gender on top of them, who didn’t spend so much of their life confronted with it, who was free to say fuck it and free to be who they wanted. She wishes she could have woken up in a grave with no memories and joined a circus and not been told who she had to be but allowed to figure it out for herself.
She wishes she could like herself, the way Molly does, and she hates him for it.
Things that might not be a gender but she wishes were because it's so much better than the shit she's been stuck with for twenty goddam years
- Cool rocks
- Punching people
- liking girls
- decapitated manticore heads
- tarot cards
- badass investigation-y skills
- coats that are blue on oneside and brown on the other and don't have sleeves
- graves with flowers on them
- that feeling you get when someone says their proud of you and you actually believe them for once
- owl sounds
- has she mentioned liking girls? that deserves to be on here twice.
She ends up giving the Jeweler's kit to Jester, and the thieves' tools to Nott.
She gives half the story to Fjord, and half the story to Yasha, and half the story to Molly although she's pretty fucking sure that he can't actually hear any of the shit she thinks his way and honestly that's probably for the best.
Here's the thing she loves about the Mighty Nein: they'll judge her for being an asshole, and for screwing up, but they'll never judge her for who she is.
Things Beau would do for the Mighty Nein
- Literally, anything
- She’s pretty sure, now, she would die for them. She wouldn’t like it but she would
Eventually, the name Beau stops feeling heavy in her mouth. Eventually, the word girl stops feeling like a chain tying her to the ground.
Eventually she says the word family and it doesn’t sound even slightly bitter. Instead, it comes out of her mouth sounding like home.