The Truth

Who: Zinovia, Akemi, Yukijiath, Maozheth
When: Month 13, 200 AT
Where: Weyrling Barracks, Honshu Weyrhold
What: An accidental Impression and a girl who was a boy.

The first few days of weyrlinghood have gone by in a daze for Akemi. She’s still unused to being called by her birthname, something she learned early on she was not allowed to forgo being called. << It is your name. Use it. >> Maozheth’s presence in her mind often left the young woman feeling like she saw double and made her reaction time slower as she tried to deal with the blue’s presence in her mind. It’s that early, eerily quiet, time of the night when pre-dawn stillness falls over the world. Most of the others are still asleep, at such points of exhaustion that it would take a loud shout and banging pots to get them to rise. Akemi is awake on her cot, Maozheth still small enough that he can crawl onto the bed to share space with her. She’s quietly talking to him, still unable to focus her thoughts in a clear conversation with the blue. It’s is the blue’s chirp and lifted head that draws Akemi’s focus. << I can see you are awake Yukijiath. Bring yours over here. >> The tickle of flame reaches out to touch at his clutchsibling’s mind – the hint of a sparkler lighting up the dark.

Zinovia (or Nova – no-one seems to be able to decide exactly what to call her) has done her best since Impression to avoid interacting with as many people as possible, for Yukijiath. In the first instance, she demanded that she be able to take her lifemate back to Silverfield Hold with her, and, having gained no traction with that, hasn’t taken well to weyrlingmasters meddling in her affairs, despite a life of a Craft’s chain of command. With the shock of losing all of her immediate family still too fresh to take well to a supposedly unbreakable bond, she’s become aggressively possessive of Yukijiath, as if afraid she might vanish, as she almost did at her hatching. She’s curled herself around her green and pretends to sleep, stubbornly ignoring Akemi, just as she has since realising who //she// is, though Yukijiath peeks out over her shoulder and eyes Maozheth in the dark. << Perhaps you should bring yours over here, >> she counters with dry amusement, sending a puff of heavy smoke back to the young blue.

Smoke! Fun — Maozheth’s mind grabs hold of that heavy puff and pulls it closer, conjuring sparks of blues and purples within it before he pushes it back towards Yukijiath. He gives Akemi no option as to whether or not they will move over to visit, he falls off of the cot promptly and lifts himself up with a comical shake of his body. He waddles his way towards Yukijiath in the dark and tries to fit himself up on the cot with her and her rider. << Make room for me! >> he protests, his wings flaring out as he vocalizes a draconic whine. << I’m cold! >> Akemi rises to follow after the blue, frightened his protests may upset those who are still trying to sleep. She doesn’t know what to say at Zinovia — she has been ignoring the Holder since the girl joined them in the barracks. Embarrassment and shame mix within her gaze as she looks to the sleeping form of that girl she had kissed so long ago. “I’m sorry,” she murmurs into the darkness, trying to coax Maozheth off of the cot and back onto the ground where she kneels.

Anyone trying to sleep is also treated to a wordless exclamation from Zinovia, who nevertheless fights not in the least and finds herself all but beneath both her own dragon and Akemi’s, her legs trapped beneath Yukijiath, who noses the blankets back into place and drapes her neck across Maozheth, seemingly not troubled by these new sleeping arrangements, especially since her rider has surrendered herself to it with only a murmured, “Careful or you’ll fall,” for the both of them, as awkward as the tangle of girl and dragons is. There’s nothing but silence from the Zinovia when Akemi approaches, despite there being no chance of it being believed that she’s asleep after that kerfuffle, though she opens her eyes and lets them adjust to the darkness to fix her with a steady stare that reveals nothing of what she’s thinking. “He’s done nothing wrong,” she eventually says, words soft and lacking in any particular inflection.

Akemi may have been ousted as a girl but she has not given up on wearing the comfortable clothes she has grown used to over the last two years. Her sleep attire are boyish in cut and her hair is pulled away from her face in a severe bun. She watches as Maozheth contents himself where he’s settled, a purring-croon resonating from him as Yukijiath cuddles against him. Akemi remains on the floor, tucking her feet beneath her as she sits on her knees. Her arms fold in front of her as her chin dips towards her chest. “I’m not apologizing for Maozheth,” she tells Zinovia finally, not wanting to make eye contact. “I’m apologizing for not telling you the truth when we… were friends before.” Her jaw tightens as her teeth grind together.

Carefully, Zinovia adjusts how she lies so that she at least has her arms free of blankets, doing her best not to disturb green and blue too much or encourage them any close to the edge of the slim cot. “When were you going to tell me?” she asks of Akemi, keeping her gaze trained firmly on her even if it’s never met. “Or were you never going to? Was I some sort of… experiment? Was it a game?” The heat of anger never enters her voice, her questions kept distant and clinical, whether for her own sake or Yukijiath’s, who curls herself about Maozheth and drapes herself more comfortably over her rider’s legs all at once, a content sigh leaving her as her breathing drifts towards the slower rhythm of sleep.

Yukijiath’s slumber lulls Maozheth into his own sleep, his breath matching hers as he curves his nose against her warm hide and lets the dreams of his day take hold of him. Akemi keeps her eyes down and her jaw continues to tighten and release. “I had been living as a boy for two years. I would have… I think I would have kept living as a boy if Maozheth had not forced me to admit I am a woman.” She lifts tear-glittering eyes finally up to Zinovia. “You were as much an experiment to me as I was to you. You kissed me back, knowing you were going to go and become a Lady and would never take anything a simple trader’s son had to offer you.” Her face grows sullen as she tightens her arms about her chest. “At least I apologized. You haven’t even looked at me once since you came here. Are you still too good for me?”

“I didn’t know anything,” Zinovia insists, finally averting her gaze. “I didn’t know what I was going to do and I hadn’t decided any of it. It isn’t as if you would have come with me, is it? What you are didn’t make a difference to me, but the //Lady// had to marry.” She stares up at the ceiling, her hands curling into the blankets around her. “…They’ll take the Hold from me now, anyway. And riders can’t marry. And you //aren’t// a boy, so none of it would have worked out even I had stayed or you had gone with me, because if you were going to court me, courting eventually leads to clothes coming off.” Letting her head loll to one side, she looks over at Akemi again, her jaw tight. “Do you even like girls?” is a little too direct a question. “Never mind the rest of it. We’re the same rank now, anyway.”

“You were always going on about family duty,” Akemi mutters, shaking her head as she readjusts her feet beneath her. “I should’ve known it would’ve meant a man and an heir.” She snorts then, looking at her fingers. She opens and closes her fists a few times. “These hands were as strong as any man’s on the road.” She lifts her gaze to Zinovia’s face. “My lips were as good as any man’s when I kissed you.” It’s too hard to see her flush of scarlet at Zinovia’s direct question. “How should I know what I like? I was a boy, I //liked// being a boy. No one… treats you as less when you’re a man.” Her face hardens. “I liked kissing you,” she admits, softening slightly as she lets that truth out. “I never thought about the clothes coming off part. I’ve never–,” a shrug, “saw a reason to go there.” She refolds her arms in front of her again. “They can’t strip me of my wagon or my runners,” she grumbles. “And they shouldn’t strip you of your Hold. It’s not as if they //need// us to stay here.”

“I’m not sure that I want to spend any more time thinking about a girl who only likes girls when she’s pretending to be a boy.” It’s a flat assessment of the situation, despite what confession it is of where her thoughts have strayed since last they saw each other. “If you… as a girl… still like me, then that’s one thing, but I don’t want to do anything like kiss you again if it means either one of us is lying to themselves about what’s actually going on.” She twitches a shoulder. “I’m the last of my line with a true claim to my Hold. I’ll //have// to have children at some point – likely soon – if I’m ever to keep it in the family. If you can live with that, I don’t much care that you’re not a boy.” A gentle hand lifts to smooth over Yukijiath’s nose. “We’re stuck together now, at least for a while. Maybe we won’t like each other much after all.”

Akemi offers Zinovia silence in answer to her statements – it’s not an outright refusal, as Akemi’s chin tucks down and her brows furrow together as she thinks through all that has been laid before her. “I’m not going to lie to you. Stating things like you must bare a child to some man to continue your line? Makes me sick to my stomach. It’s the same line of talk that drove my twin away from my family, drove me to leave, and pretend to be him.” She shakes her head and lifts her hands to press the palms of her hands into her eyes. “Maozheth is insistent that I acknowledge I’m a girl. I’m trying to tell you… I wanted to //stay// a boy.” She puffs out a sigh and drops her hands, looking up at Zinovia. “I’d want to be that man that wouldn’t simply take your body and make an heir. Someone that’d love and cherish you… and if a child or three came from it? All the better.” She looks to their sleeping dragons and tips forward, reaching to offer her hand to Zinovia. “We’re not allowed to kiss or think of clothes coming off,” she whispers, conscious for the first time that other people may be listening. “Since I’ve got to learn to have a male in my head and say I’m a woman… and you’ve got to figure out your Hold… should we at least be friends?”

“I don’t have a family anymore, Ok—Akemi. They’re all gone. I watched them die one after the other and it’s just me now. If I don’t make my own family, I won’t ever have one. It’ll just be me for as long as I live.” For the first time, some hint of the raging despair beneath Zinovia’s matter of fact acceptance of her situation breaks the surface, though she’s quick to shove it back down and bury it again. “…You don’t need to be a man to love me and cherish me or do anything anyone I loved would do.” Except the making heirs part. “If you want anyone who doesn’t know you to think you’re a boy, I won’t stand in your way. I’m just saying… I don’t think it matters to me.” She takes the hand she’s offered, inching over across her cot to make what is no doubt a supposedly scandalous proposition, meaning to tug Akemi nearer beneath her tangle of dragons. “Sleep here. If they want to tell us off, they can tell us off, but we’ve got clothes on and it isn’t as if we’d be doing anything more than what Yukijiath and Maozheth are doing.”

Akemi looks up at Zinovia and takes in all that she has to say with a solemn expression. Her best answer comes as she pushes herself gracefully off of the floor. She somehow finds room to wriggle herself onto the cot, her feet needing to be tucked against Maozheth’s hide to fit herself on. She curves herself against Zinovia, seeking her warmth as her blue sought out her green. She should say something – but silence continues to drag on. Sleep doesn’t claim her, she’s got too many thoughts to mull over as dawn breaks over the world and the weyrlingmasters crash into the barracks to wake their charges up. Whether or not Zinovia and Akemi get in trouble is a fleeting thing to the new bluerider. She’s risked many things over the years and reprimands for being by her friend’s side in a time of change she’ll take. She and Maozheth make a habit of crawling to bed with Yukijiath and Zinovia once the barracks grow still with slumber. She never brings up anything when she seeks Zinovia out other than simple things – how was her day, what was she thinking. Often she encourages the other girl to simply talk to her, giving little commentary herself. Zinovia’s presence is always enough to eventually lull her to sleep.

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