Who: Aerishani and Riel
When: Month 2, 202 AT
Where: Weyrleaders’ Weyr, Honshu Weyrhold
What: Aerishani is supposed to be going to the Gather, but Amorenth is having none of it. It’s Riel who figures out why.
A Gather on the Northern Continent has lured many to put themselves together and slowly begin heading for the skies. There is still plenty of time before the dancing and drinking really kick off but a fair number of people actually attend Gathers for the markets, too. Riel is not one such person today. She is dressed up, opting for a proper strapless sweetheart gown that accentuates her curves. The skirt is a layered, flowy thing sure to twirl wildly, and is a stark contrast to her tight leathers. She searches out Honshu’s senior goldrider, checking the usual haunts along her way and opting not to use Mikketh’s abilities to quicken the process. “Aerishani?”
It’s her weyr that Aerishani is finally trackable to, where she is… decidedly not ready to go anywhere. She must have thought about it, or planned on it, for there’s more than one dress flung across her bed and over the backs of chairs, and she’s even managed to get to pinning up half of her hair, but the rest of her is still caught somewhere between practical and half-dressed, for all that her modesty is maintained. As she lifts her head and looks towards the source of the voice she hears, a palpable stab of displeasure ripples through the dragon population, making her flinch and begin to apologise before offering any sort of greeting. “I’m sorry. She’s being… Amorenth.” Another day, another battle, and still no queen beside those eggs.
Riel’s purposeful step hitches, her gut tightening from the stab. It passes quickly and so too does her pace simply carry on without any outward concern. She even waves it off. “No need to apologise,” she insists, and then she eyes the younger woman sidelong. “Unless you are the reason she’s being a-… unhappy?” Riel flings herself onto Aerishani’s bed among the dresses, lifting the fabric of the nearest skirt. “You do not look like you’re going to be early for the Gather. You didn’t strike me as a ‘fashionably late’ kind of woman.”
“Even if I’m not the reason, I’m probably still the reason,” Aerishani utters dryly, unable to resist briefly flicking her gaze towards the ceiling. Turning, she shifts in her seat, throwing a leg over the chair to straddle it and prop her arms on its back, blinking a time or two to drag her focus to the tangible world and away from mental battle. “You look lovely,” she tells Riel with a soft, genuine smile, subconsciously lifting a hand to scrunch her fingers into hair she’s not yet pinned up. “Looking to catch anyone’s eye?”
“Why’s that? Does Amorenth have a bone to pick with you over something?” Riel smiles at the compliment and reclines blithely across Aerishani’s bed, exaggerating a seductive look while she stretches cat-like. “This old thing?” The question gives her reason to take a deep breath, testing the limits of her gaping neckline before letting her air out in a great gust. “Maybe. No. I don’t know.” She sits up and gets to her feet, crossing the room to join Aerishani. She scans for more pins and gestures for the other woman to turn around. “Mikketh caught a gold and … I thought I could celebrate with-… Anyway, boys are stupid.”
On the small dresser the chair sits in-front of, there are some pins scattered about – pins that almost get themselves further scattered about when Aerishani turns around, reaches for one of them, then abruptly drops it and reaches back in a vaguely swan-like motion to throw an arm around Riel’s shoulders and hug her to her while she makes a sound that is definitely closer to squealing than not. “He caught a gold!” she exclaims, only then remembering to relinquish her, Amorenth’s mood forgotten. “Are you hoping to see the queenrider again? Are you dressing up for her? Was it good?” She blushes at her last question, giving a flap of her hands to say, “None of my business.”
Aerishani’s squealing inspires an almost-squeal sound in return as delight beams across her lips and glows in her smiling eyes. “He did!” Riel giggles softly as she’s relinquished, and almost as soon as her amusement quiets, her mood makes a momentary dive, private pain held back by a strangled swallow. She fights to keep her smile in place and shakes her head, managing to untangle from whatever past injury plagued her. “I… I honestly don’t know if I want to see her again. I don’t want it to be awkward, you know? It was great but- what if she doesn’t want to see /me/?” Her small nose wrinkles. “I don’t think she expected her queen would get caught by a brown – and a brown with a female rider. I really badly want to be there for everything. What should I say?”
Aerishani tilts her head in silent enquiry before she speaks again, unable to miss Riel’s shift in mood, yet not entirely willing to force any information out of her. Instead, she makes to hold one of her hands, covering hers with her own when it might drift towards one of her shoulders. “It’s never crossed my mind to deny the sire of Amorenth’s clutches any involvement with them, whether their riders are male or female,” she says slowly. “Her queen might not give her a choice, anyway. If you want to be involved with //her// – the rider, I mean – I’d treat her the same as anyone else you’d want to be with. If she outright denies you any right to be there for the clutch, Honshu can help you with that. That’s a matter of politics.”
Riel smiles and gently squeezes Aerishani’s shoulder, letting herself be caught and held. She reaches for the pins on the dresser and moves behind the goldrider, beginning the therapeutic task of placing the curl just so before sinking the pin into place. “It’s the most meaningful thing that’s happened in my career. It proves we can do it, Mikketh can do what some bronzes will never do in their lifetime. Screw anyone who ever thought we wouldn’t amount to anything.” Although it’s unclear what winning a goldflight has to do with the success of her career. Riel listens while she attends to another curl. Blue eyes lift to regard Aerishani’s reflection in the dresser’s mirror. “Do you think I have any say in the Candidates?” A beat. “And you never did tell me what’s up with Amorenth?”
“And make sure you don’t let them forget it,” Aerishani declares, an emphatic nod accompanying her words. She murmurs an apology a moment later, squaring her shoulders in a promise to stay still and not upset wherever Riel may wish to place those pins. “I’m not big on arrogance, but there’s a time and a place for it. Still, for what it’s worth, flying a queen or not flying a queen, you’re worth ten of those swaggering idiots. If your new weyrwoman friend doesn’t see that… she’s not worth the time.” She reaches for one of the dresser drawers, pulling it open to rifle through a small collection of necklace. “Here, by rights, if you didn’t like a Candidate, I’d let you remove them, provided you had a reasonably decent reason.” A string of simple quartz is selected, soon fastened around her neck. “Amorenth?” She sighs. “I don’t know. She doesn’t want to be on the Sands, she doesn’t insist that //I// stay and watch the eggs, but she doesn’t want me going to the Gather either. Except she won’t say why, beyond it’ll ‘be bad’ for me.”
In the privacy and protection of Aerishani’s company, Riel will let herself feel the swell of pride. She repositions some of the other pins, ensuring that the hairdo should endure the flight to the extent possible. The corner of her mouth tugs down in one corner. “I’ll bring a few extra pins along with and we’ll fix you up before anyone sees you,” she murmurs, and offers to help fasten the necklace. The twist of confusion is so blatant that it’s nearly comical, her feminine features canted sideways. “Bad? Are you in danger?” she asks in alarm. “What could a weyrwoman of anywhere fear from a Gather — unless you count bruised toes from intoxicated dance partners. That’s a guarantee. Hardly worth a dragon’s frustration. It sounds like she just doesn’t want you going anywhere.” Her hands fall to the other woman’s shoulders, and she watches her through the mirror, expression careful. “Aerishani. Do you think she means you’re /pregnant/?”
“The only danger I’m in is of—“ It would have been a dry remark, had Aerishani the wit and fortitude to finish it once Riel has presented her theory as why Amorenth is being so temperamental. As it is, she falls silent, words abandoning her, and after a moment she makes a funny little sound that could be a ripple of hysterical laughter. Or surprise. Or shock. Or all three. She stares straight ahead, her focus distant and features sober once more, until she lifts her gaze to look up at Riel in the mirror. “If that’s true, funny that she should care for my baby and not her own,” comes out more flippant than she must mean it, the thought having not quite settled. She gives a little shake of her head, only to nod and admit, “…It’s a possibility,” in a murmur. “It’s what we wanted. If it…” If the theory is correct. Tipping her head back, she shoots Riel an apologetic smile. “Either way… Now I can’t go anywhere until I find out.”
The brownrider emits a soft bubble of amusement and affectionately and gently rests her hands on Aerishani’s neatly pinned hair. One shoulder lifts in a noncommittal shrug. “Maybe because your baby is inside you, whereas hers can be tended to by anyone once they are on the Sands? I can’t even begin to unravel the mystery that is Amorenth so I shouldn’t try.” She unwinds herself from Aerishani and moves back to the bed, running her fingers across the fabric and pulling it into her lap as she sits down. Her smile flourishes tenderly. “If it’s what you have wanted, I sincerely hope you /are/ pregnant.” She falls silent, briefly; thoughtfully. Her voice lowers with the reality of the rumour mill. “What would you like the rest of the world to know, to excuse why you won’t be at the Gather?”
“I almost hope I’m not. I’d hoped it might encourage her to care more for her eggs, but if we’ve both been expecting all this time and it’s made no difference…” Aerishani sighs and allows herself a flicker of a sad smile, then eases herself back around to sit backwards in her chair once more and let her gaze follow Riel across the weyr. Only when the brownrider smiles again does she seem to let herself go back to truly entertaining otherwise, her dark eyes going soft and distant for a moment, until the reality of the immediate situation likewise strikes her with Riel’s enquiry. “…I suppose it would be easy enough to say that I was unwilling to leave Amorenth’s queen egg, except that suggests I don’t trust Roreliuth to look after it.” She scrubs a hand over her face. “They’ll draw their own conclusions whatever’s put about. They always do.” Rising, she crosses the room and sits herself down next to Riel on the bed. “Go and have fun,” she encourages, her smile bright again. “And if your lady friend is there, tell her how you feel about the clutch situation. If she doesn’t listen, I’ll make her Weyrwoman listen. I promise.”
Riel offers encouragement at that sad smile. “Maybe she doesn’t tend to her eggs because Roreliuth will? Maybe she would tend to them if he weren’t that sort of mate.” Her shrug casts the concern to the universe. “They get by. Don’t fret.” Blue eyes follow Aerishani on her close course, an arm reaching to snake around the younger woman’s waist with the intention of hugging her close and pressing a kiss to her pinned hair. “Yes, ma’am,” she teases. “Here’s hoping I don’t have to run home to mummy and tattle on my new friend for not sharing.” Riel unwinds herself and gets to her feet, offering a farewell grin before heading back out into the world.