Who: Zinovia, Akemi, Yukijiath, Maozheth
When: Month 1, 201 AT
Where: Lake Shore, Honshu Weyrhold
What: Akemi doesn’t like what Zinovia must do to keep her Hold.

Since Impression, there has been very little need for the finer of the gowns that Zinovia owns, yet this afternoon she is undeniably wearing one of her best, though minus any pretty jewels or trinkets that might complete her outfit. She’s also been missing from lessons since about midmorning, Yukijiath sat with Amorenth on the ledge that belongs to her dam, the much smaller green held in the protective curve of gold hide in a gesture more possessive than maternal, the queen’s stare fixed on the council room. Now, down at the shore of the lake, Zinovia sits with her lifemate’s head in her lap, unconcerned that the oil she’s so recently applied to Yukijiath is now staining those embroidered skirts of hers. They’re silent and still, the both of them, a hand smoothing over a green nose.

Maozheth bounds down the shoreline, intent on nearly-colliding with Yukijiath and her rider in his enthusiasm. He reigns it in before he can trip or make himself look especially ungraceful (something he usually is) as he seeks to bump noses (and Zinovia’s arm in the process) with his clutchsibling. << Was it grand? Being with Amorenth? >> he’s bursting with firecrackers, the bzzt-pop-pop of sparklers crackling in contained laughter. Akemi is more practical in her approach than her blue. She’s not dressed in anything different since she came to Honshu – dirty, reliable, workclothes don her person. She no longer binds her breasts but they were never large enough to go unconcealed by a shirt in the first place. “How was it?” she asks as she sits down beside the other girl.

Yukijiath lifts her head and bumps her nose back against Maozheth’s, while Zinovia lifts her hand to brush her fingers gently along his jaw in a greeting of her own, her acceptance of the young blue as easy as ever it has been. << She is a fierce kind of mother, >> Yukijiath remarks with a swirl of the same silver that their dam uses to keep anyone and everyone at a distant, her mimicry a softer thing; more malleable and inviting. << There is a darkness in her. >> And that’s what seems to fascinate her most of all. << What did we miss? >> Zinovia leans to rest her head against Akemi’s shoulder, sighing, “There’s one more round of talks to go. It seems to be more of a matter of what I’m //not// allowed to do than anything else. If they can all agree on the restrictions and I’m willing to comply, I might be able to keep Silverfield.” She wrinkles her nose. “The matter of an heir is, apparently, non-negotiable.”

Maozheth near-purrs a croon in response to Yukijiath and Zinovia’s attention. He curves himself against the green, tucking in so half of his tail can flop over Zinovia’s lap and his rear foot touches Akemi. He inhales that silverness of Zinovia, puffing it out as a series of smoke circles. << Darkness? Hmm. I do not talk with her much. She is always very closed off. >> He starts a slideshow of images, voices, and impressions for Yukijiath from the classes that were missed. The overall impression from the blue is consistent boredom with what is taught but the facts are laid out for her to glean what information she may want from them. Akemi does her best to maintain utter stillness when Zinovia’s head tips to her shoulder. She doesn’t want to shift to displace it nor does she feel comfortable encouraging anything more. “Do you not have a distant relation that could be called heir?” she asks.

<< I will find it out, >> Yukijiath has decided, whether it’s a truly foolhardy mission or not, though it must be set aside so that she can observe and be attentive to what Maozheth shares with her, lazily draping a wing over him as she closes her eyes so that she may better concentrate. “If I refuse to produce an heir of my own before a set time elapses, they will choose the most capable from what relatives remain,” Zinovia says slowly, her hand drifting to Yukijiath’s neck, where it stills. “That would eliminate any children I might later have from the line of succession and rob them of their birthright before they even exist. I don’t have… the right to take that from them when I want what’s mine so badly. It would be hypocritical.” She glances down at her lifemate, murmuring, “I think Yukijiath would be happy there. There’s so much space…”

“Oh,” Akemi’s breath escapes her after she realizes what it will mean for Zinovia to remain a Lady Holder. “So once you’ve finished your training – they’ll let you go?” She shifts herself then, unconsciously moving away from Zinovia. “Do you get to pick your heir-maker?” she continues, trying to hold back on her thoughts that statement takes her down. “I could keep trading? Even if I have Maozheth now,” she murmurs to herself, daring to say it aloud, as her hand moves to press against his blue hide. “I thought they’d keep us all,” she continues and then grows silent. Her face stills as she glances towards Zinovia again to await her thoughts and answers to her questions. “Will you marry?” she asks then grows quiet once more.

“If they can reach a decision about what I may and may not do if they are to let me return, I imagine it’s their intention by now, yes. They could have outright said no from the start.” Zinovia lifts her head as she feels Akemi move, retreating into her own space without comment, both hands held demurely in her lap now. “…I thought I might try and form a contact with a Holder’s son unlikely to inherit, just for the siring of a child. Maybe there’s one somewhere who prefers men and has written off fatherhood. It would potentially be as advantageous for them as for me. If I don’t need to marry for that to happen…” She gives an awkward little shrug. “Riders can own businesses here. I don’t see why you couldn’t keep trading, if you wanted to.” For a few moments, she finds one of her knees absolutely fascinating, then she blurts out, “You could come with us.”

“The way all of this heir business works out makes me sick to my stomach. The idea of a man… allowing them to… simply to get pregnant,” Akemi can’t hide the disgust from her tone. “I don’t like it. If you do find a man, I hope you like him, because otherwise it sounds like rape to me.” She shifts then, preparing herself to stand, but stops herself when Zinovia blurts out that offer. Hesitation stills her movement as she shifts back and to the side, positioning herself at an angle so she can maintain eye contact with Zinovia. “What use could you have for a trader?” she asks, then considers that statement with a calculating gleam. “Ah,” she sees reason to the question now, “I could be your Steward?” Always to business, Akemi is not quite grasping that there may be other reasons that Zinovia would want her to go with her.

Zinovia tips her gaze to the sky when Akemi pronounces exactly what the process of making an heir could be, and though she doesn’t flinch, Yukijiath lifts her head and noses against her, offering silent comfort even as Zinovia pretends not to be affected in the least by what her future holds. “No,” she says gently, if no less sure of how she means to correct Akemi’s assumption than she has been of anything else. “Though I don’t see why you couldn’t be, if it would be something you’d be interested in.” Silence follows, her focus still fixed on the clear blue skies above, until she closes her eyes and murmurs, “You could be the reason I never marry.”

Maozheth shifts from his sprawl against Yukijiath and Zinovia, alerted to the shifting of Akemi’s moods that her face does not betray. He rises and moves to curl himself about his rider, thrumming a comforting noise as he angles his head in her lap. Akemi maintains an air of calm as she rests a hand on his head, staring at blue hide rather than the Lady Holder in front of her. “I’m just a trader’s daughter who wanted to be a trader’s son,” she manages to say, blinking against the pressure of Maozheth’s pushing in her brain. << I will get her to say what she will not say >> he tells Yukijiath, << be patient with us. >> She inhales sharply and exhales as her fingers curl against blue hide. “If I were to be the reason that you wouldn’t marry, that would make me the reason for you to have to force a man to do that act.” Her eyes close as her chin dips towards her chest in defeat. “How dishonorable that would be of me. To try and steal your love and force you into that life.”

“You can be ‘just’ anything for your whole life, if you like, but I intend to claim my birthright no matter what anyone thinks of me.” Including Akemi? Carefully, Zinovia gathers her feet beneath her and stands, brushing off her skirts so as not to flick dust and dirt over Akemi and Maozheth. << To make her say something would be untruthful, >> Yukijiath decides, pressing herself against her rider’s legs. “I will have a family one way or another whether the thought sits well with you or not. Whether you want to be part of that family is up to you. If I must walk this path with only Yukijiath at my side, I will walk it with only her.” And walk she does – away, moving back towards the barracks to shed the finery of one life and step into the practicality of another.

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