How She Wishes It

Who: Aerishani, O’rlen, Amorenth, Roreliuth
When: Late Month 11, 200 AT
Where: Hatching Grounds, Honshu Weyr
What: Amorenth abandons her clutch.

For four days Amorenth lounged on Honshu’s sands before she decided that the time was right to clutch. She’s made a neat job of it as the hours have gone by, making it look not too much like effort and without directing complaints at all and sundry, her one insistence that the galleries remain closed and she be left to endure the whole affair with only her mate and their riders to witness it. A full hour passes between the eighth egg and the ninth, final one, the clutch arranged in a close knit oval pattern not unlike an egg itself. With the shells half-buried in the pale sand, Amorenth looks them over, seeming to count them, then launches herself up and away, headed for the sky entrance to the hatching grounds. Behind her, she leaves clutch, mate and rider, Aerishani crying out an alarmed, “Amorenth!” to no avail. “Amorenth!” Still nothing. On the verge of tears, the Weyrlady clamps her hands over her mouth and just stares down at the abandoned eggs.

Roreliuth reaches out towards Amorenth, the crisp fall leaves and dappled sunlight etching away in uncertainty as his rider seeks to comfort Aerishani. << Where are you going, Amorenth? They expect you to stay. >> He does not have any reprimand for the gold – she answers to no one. He lifts himself up from where he was seated on the outskirts of the sands. He ambles closer to the eggs, nosing each one and probing them gently with his mind before he curls himself in a semi-circle around them. O’rlen’s arm is firm against Aerishani’s middle as he turns to witness his bronze’s actions. “He will watch them. Maybe she needs to stretch her body out after that effort?” it is a hopeful question that is meant to soothe everyone’s alarm over the situation.

<< I have done my duty, >> Amorenth declares, her voice already as distant as her body, echoing back to Roreliuth as though there are miles between them. << They are yours now. >> Sadly, for Aerishani, she isn’t even subtle about leaving her clutch behind, finding a suitable perch at the Weyrhold’s highest point to stretch her wings out and sun herself, applying a heavy barricade of silver to any who dare to reach for her. That response is all it takes for Aerishani to burst into tears, not dissolving into great sobs, but letting tiny, plaintive and disappointed sounds escape her. She watches Roreliuth do what her queen should with something akin to envy, hands reaching futilely for eggs that she knows she doesn’t dare yet touch. “…No,” she says eventually, trying to fight back her tears. “She doesn’t want them.”

Roreliuth lifts himself up to gaze in the direction of his rider and mate before he settles down on the sands once more. He stretches one dawn-coated wing over the eggs and thrums a soft-throated croon to the eggs. << Thank you. >> He has never had another mate and as such has no concept that it may not be his burden to carry now that the eggs are on the Sands. He senses there is something //upsetting// about the whole thing – still he presses at that unease to bask in the joy of the little future before him. O’rlen’s hand soothes at Aerishani’s back, concern of his own etched over his brow. “I’ve never heard of that before,” he murmurs to Aerishani, shaking his head as he turns a gaze to his bronze. “It’ll be okay,” he assures them all, nodding his decision of that fact. “Amorenth is her own queen. This is how it will be, if it is how she wishes it.”

Amorenth’s affection is not given grudgingly, yet it’s still of the cold and cool variety, a hefty dose of what may well be fabricated indifference there as she acknowledges Roreliuth, letting him be the last that she nudges back behind that impenetrable, shining wall. Still, even he has caught her focus more than her eggs. “…Neither have I,” nearly sets Aerishani off again, but she buries her head against O’rlen’s shoulder to conceal any onset of fresh tears. “They’re her //babies//,” is all but muffled against him. “She should want to be here with them. That’s what queens do.” Seconds tick by before a horrifying thought dawns and she lifts her head to look up at him. “What if… she’s done this because I said I wanted to go Between? That I didn’t want babies now? What if it’s my fault?”

O’rlen’s hand moves up and down Aerishani’s back in wordless comfort. He keeps his gaze on his bronze and the eggs with a small smile. It’s hard for him not to show his pride in his bronze in this moment. “Has she ever followed you in that way? When you’ve said you were going to do something – did she insist on doing it to? Amorenth does not strike me as that sort of dragon.” He kisses Aerishani’s temple. “They are her babies and she has laid them beautifully on the Sands.” He can’t change this outcome, so it seems O’rlen has decided to be resolutely upbeat about the entire affair. “When we have the clutching party we’ll make sure we keep the Galleries closed if you’re worried people will make a fuss.” Even then, it’s not like they could hide the queen. “None of this is your fault,” he reminds Aerishani. “And nothing is wrong.”

“Not unless it’s something to do with my music,” Aerishani supposes, curving a hand to O’rlen’s shoulder as she leans against him, adrenaline spikes leaving her somewhat at their mercy as they ebb. “People will make a fuss either way. Concealing something from them will turn it into something far more grand and twisted in their heads… And Amorenth is hardly likely to be repentant about it, anyway. It’s better that they see, whatever it means for her and for me.” She swallows hard, jaw set before she blurts out, “I’m so sorry. I-It isn’t right that we embarrass you like this. You’ve been so kind and looked after us, both of you, and you made me feel—“ Stopping herself before she can say anything further, she retreats back to another, “I’m sorry.”

O’rlen lifts a hand to press briefly against Aerishani’s cheek, his thumb stroking along that tight jawline. “I’m not embarrassed at all. Roreliuth is radiant – he’s already giving all the eggs special names. He’s fond of ‘This One’ and ‘That One’ and ‘A Third’. I don’t know why he thinks they’re //names//,” he lets laughter enter his tone. It’s a defense mechanism of his to fall to jokes and laughter – yet in this case his smile is pure. “Stop apologizing. You did nothing to apologize for. Amorenth has made it clear she will be a Senior on her own level.” He gives a good natured shrug and then tilts her face up so he can press a gentle kiss to her lips. “We love you,” he blurts out and can’t hide the scarlet that creeps up his neck to splash along his cheeks. He doesn’t say anything else as he holds her gaze with his own, slightly embarrassed, one.

Aerishani stares, not so much shocked as plainly frightened for the moments during which she observes O’rlen in silence and waits for long enough that she must be waiting for it to turn out that he’s teasing her or has something more to say to take it back. When he doesn’t and it turns out that it isn’t to mock her, that fear begins to melt anyway into something closer to longing and she finally remembers how to speak for long enough to tell him, “I love you too,” ever so quietly, too furious and upset with Amorenth to dare to speak for her too. “…I kept telling myself that we were infatuated with each other and it would wear off soon, but it doesn’t feel like it will. And… I don’t want it to. I just don’t want to live in my weyr without you there.”

O’rlen’s embarrassment disappears when Aerishani shares with him that she loves him as well. He tugs her close then, both hands moving to capture her face gently between his palms. “I’ll always be beside you,” he promises her and then leans in to seal that promise with a long, deep, kiss. He doesn’t press for more than that, pulling back when he can find reason to breathe and smiles at her brightly. “Infatuated with you? Of course I am. But who wouldn’t fall in love with you? You’re absolutely amazing.” He tips his forehead forward to press it against hers, whispering, “And you’re mine.” He pulls back then, moving to clasp her hand in his. “Come, love. Let’s go and announce the clutch to the Weyrhold. We’ll send out our invitations for the party to those we had decided upon.” He tugs her close to his side as he begins to lead her out of the galleries. He loops his arm comfortably across her shoulders. “We have much to celebrate.”

“Yours,” Aerishani agrees without hesitation, quite as if the thought of anything else has never crossed her mind. She’s a little unsteady on her feet as she lets O’rlen lead her away, almost reaching the entryway to the hatching grounds before she insists, “Wait!” and breaks from his side to run back along the path they’ve walked and across the Sands in a manner she’ll not tolerate from anyone else so near the eggs, to stop next to Roreliuth and reach to press a gentle kiss to his nose with a murmured, “Thank you.” She heads back to his rider then, tucking herself back in at his side to face Honshu and the paperwork of the invitations that follow, until, duty dispatched, she can take O’rlen to bed and show him exactly how she feels without a hint of restraint. It’s sometime during the night, in a sleepy lull of physical activity between their riders, that Amorenth returns to the Sands, not for her eggs, but for Roreliuth, to settle herself at her side and find sleep. By dawn, she’s gone again, yet there’s no denying the truth of it from those who //know//.

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