Who: Zinovia, Akemi, Akio
When: Month 10, 202 AT
Where: Silverfield Hold, Honshu Territory
What: Akemi’s twin is posted to Silverfield Hold.

It’s been long enough that what little actual sickness that Zinovia has been suffering through has begun to abate, though she still finds herself more tired than she’s used to enduring, even having had an active, working life since her childhood. At least twice every week, she makes herself available in her study for much of the day, letting it be known that she’s there for anyone who wishes to speak with her either formally or informally, outside the usual meetings she holds. She’s seen quite a steady flow of traffic this morning, the lull she’s experiencing now one that one of the assistant headwomen has decided is time enough for tea, the tray left with a small plate of what the kitchen has learned she can keep down without effort. Silverfield’s Lady sits back in her chair, cup cradled with both hands, her eyes closed as she lets the warmth of the tea seep into her hands.

Akio’s arrival at Silverfield Hold came early this very morning, his travel by dragon leaving him breathless and bright-eyed from the adventure of a trip Between. He’s got two bags slung over his shoulder as he departs the bluerider who delivered him. A quick question of a child running by directs Akio to the location of the Lady Holder. He’s dressed smartly in black pants and a fitted brown jacket, his gear for dragonflight having been quickly shoved into a bag. Appearances needed to be kept and his smile is pure charm as he walks along the walkways through the Hold. He knocks on the door before entering, his gaze sweeping the area for the Lady. He notices Zinovia with her tea and pauses in the threshold. “I’m sorry to interrupt your break,” he notes, smile a flash of white across his features, “If you could direct me to the Steward of your Headwoman I can check in with them.” A pause, as he reminds himself, bags dropped and a bow offered. “I’m Journeyman Akio, sent from the Smithhall to post here.”

Zinovia blinks her eyes open at the sound of a voice, a sip of her tea taken before she returns the cup to its saucer and rises to her feet. “No, please,” she invites, gesturing to one of the chairs before her desk, “you’re not interrupting anything.” She waits for Akio to either deny her or sit to sit back down herself, smoothing her skirts down and reclaiming her cup to cradle in her lap. “It’s nice to meet you, Akio,” she tells him, all reined in earnestness and not cool manners. “We’ve been expecting you. Our Headwoman and her staff have prepared quarters for you on the second floor. I’m afraid they’re not palatial, but there’s a good sized bedroom and a sitting room with a study adjacent.” For a moment, she studies the tray with its teapot and ruefully confesses, “I’m afraid I don’t have another cup, but I’m sure someone will offer you refreshments before they leave you to unpack.”

Akio sets his bags carefully down by the door, not wanting to drag the bulk along with him to the desk. He has a slip of paper to offer to Zinovia before he settles himself into the chair. He sits with good posture, a habit and not nerves from the ease of his features and the continued smile on his lips. “Of course, any accomodations you offer are wonderful. I’ll appreciate not sharing a study space with people most of all. And your Headwoman or her staff can direct me to the Smithery?” he queries, followed by another question, “My Master did not indicate what tasks I may do for your Hold. You can see my credentials there,” he nods his head towards the paper, “My largest accomplishment was the latest technology out of the Smithhall – the revolvers. If you haven’t seen one, I brought one with me to demonstrate. I could manufacture you some here, though at the moment, the Hall has the orders on them frozen.” He steeples his fingers together in his lap and lets his mouth closed with a few blinks to hold himself back from speaking further to Zinovia without giving her an opportunity to respond.

Accepting the paper, Zinovia leaves the teacup balanced in her lap and unfolds the document to look through it, though she looks up at Akio every now and then as he speaks instead of giving the paper her undivided attention. “Our Steward will be able to show you the way,” she confirms. “The Headwoman is a little… fussy when it comes to the younger female staff being around it. Something about the heat and the men being a distraction.” She arches a brow. “Not that I would know.” If that’s her way of confirming that her consort is female for any who still might not believe it, she sounds comfortable enough stating so. “Primarily, we’ve machinery and equipment to maintain, both for the fields and the mines. Some computer terminals too, though the bulk of the work is in what Silverfield needs for outside work.” Plainly watching for Akio’s reaction, she enquires, “I hope that won’t be beneath you?”

Akio lifts his hands and shows them to her, palm up, so Zinovia can note his calluses and the chronic grease that stains them. “I’m not opposed to hard work,” he tells her without issue, “I was raised on it. The Smithcraft depends on it. I know my way around farming equipment and mining equipment. I’ll seek to improve what you have here and keep the older equipment running,” he promises. Her noting of the Headwoman’s views on her staff draws a shake of his head. “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that there would be the assumption of wandering eyes among the young. I won’t be a distraction to your people,” he adds, though his easy smile and grizzled chin may attract appreciative directions his way. “I’m not as well versed in the computer work, though I know enough to keep them running through various malfunctions.” He glances to her tea and then up at her. “Anything else you’d like me to work on while I’m here?”

There’s only a quiet intake of breath to betray any hesitation on Zinovia’s part just as she declares, “If you wish, we can provide you with the resources to work on your revolvers, on the understanding that any sale of such items is cleared with me. I believe everyone is entitled to the means to defend what’s theirs, but I’m not in the business of arming neighbours against each other. Necessity only, not desire.” She twitches a shoulder. “As for the rest… You’ll discover that work is a way of life here. Everyone pulls their weight. Everyone is listened to. I was raised to understand that no-one is above any task. I don’t put on fancy dresses and swan off to parties every evening; I’m here to make sure we’re all content and working for a common goal.” Allowing him a faint smile, she concludes, “If you can live your life in line with that… Welcome to Silverfield.”

Akio nods his head to Zinovia’s statements, in agreement and to show he’s listening intently. He offers her his hand, “I promise to uphold the Silverfield way while I’m here. I hope to do this Hold proud with my work.” His handshake is firm, roughened by his calloused palms, and warm. He rises once he releases her hand, preparing to leave when another knock sounds behind them. He turns then, expecting her next guest but not prepared for the face he sees standing in the doorway. His face pales in recognition as he freezes in his twist and stares openly at the woman standing before them. Akemi’s face is contorted by shock, her own coloring pale as her lower lip is captured between teeth to hold back a strangled noise. With them both in the same space, it’s easier to see the familial resemblance. His black hair, hers, the shape of their eyes and the pertness of their lips. It’s Akio who breaks the silence first as he finds his voice, the fraying of his vocal cords betraying his emotions. “‘Kemi,” he pauses, turning to look at Zinovia for her reaction and then back to Akemi. “How?” Akemi does not move from the threshold. “I could ask the same of you, brother,” she asks him tightly.

Whether she wants to stand (literally) on ceremony or not, Zinovia seems weary enough not to be able to manage it just now, and so she settles for remaining seated as she shakes Akio’s hand and returns both of hers to her cup to lift it to her lips. She doesn’t quite grasp what’s unfolding before her until she’s mid-sip and observing both Akio and Akemi over the rim of the cup, but when they spell it out for her she almost chokes, drawing her tea away to clear her throat and compose herself with the minimum of fuss. The drink has to be set down now, just so she doesn’t do anything like drop it, and she demurely folds her hands in her lap to prevent them from betraying her. “I didn’t know you were acquainted with my Lady,” is a dry utterance. For Akemi’s benefit, she states, “I had no hand in this. This is surely beyond my engineering.”

Zinovia’s voice draws Akemi’s focus away from her brother in abrupt head turn. She tightens her hands at her side and walks further into the room, her body stiff as she does so. Akio watches his sisters movements with clear dismay. “I didn’t know she was here,” his voice breaks the silence that has fallen with Zinovia’s words ringing between them. He rubs the palm of his hand against his temple, grimacing and then he drops his hand to offer a confused tilt of his brows. “Your Lady?” he questions, looking to Akemi in wonder. “You’re a Lady?” Akemi’s teeth clench together as she stands beside Zinovia, who may notice the tremor in her hands that she tries to hide behind her back. “It’s been a long time, Akio,” her voice is cool as she masters her features into neutral lines. “I took your place to hide the shame you would’ve brought to father. I Impressed a dragon, //his// name is Maozheth. I married a woman, //her// name is Lady Zinovia.” She arches a brow and considers him, replicating a face her father often held when addressing his children. “And you Akio? Did you achieve your dreams?” Akio moves towards the door, collecting his bags to toss over his shoulder. “I’m Silverfield’s new Journeyman Smith,” he tells her as he moves to leave and then waits, looking to Zinovia to be dismissed.

“She’s //my// Lady,” Zinovia reiterates, now rising to her feet as Akemi nears, using the support of the desk for a moment to make sure that she’s going to remain upright. When Akio moves for the door, she edges herself closer to Akemi and reaches to press a hand over both of hers, standing so near that the gesture is not such an obvious one. “If what’s needed between the two of you to clear the air is an all out brawl, I ask that you do it in private,” is so deadpan that she might not even be joking. That, and a curt bob of her head, is all Akio receives by way of evident dismissal. Only once the door has swung closed and a handful of seconds suggests that it isn’t going to happen again does she turn to pull Akemi into her arms whether she likes it or not, her hold a fierce one. “I can tell the Hall to send us someone else,” she offers. “Some postings just don’t work out. It happens all the time. A bad fit.”

Akemi watches Akio walk out the door with barely controlled rage, which transfers into a stiffness she can’t shake even when Zinovia wraps her arms about her. She takes a number of breaths as she remains in her arms, doing her best to calm the erratic beating of her heart. “No,” she tells her weakly, gently stepping out of the hug so that she can encourage Zinovia back to her seat. She settles on the edge of the desk, pressing the heels of her hands against her eyes to hold off unwanted tears. “It’s such a shock,” she manages to say once her breathing has calmed enough for more words to form. She removes her hands to look at Zinovia. “What are the chances, Zinovia? That he’d come //here//?” She hands are still trembling. “We were so close,” she offers, looking towards the door in anticipation of Akio reappearing. “And he tried so hard to protect me from father. Only… he chose to stop one day.” She doesn’t elaborate, letting silence fall.

Zinovia does as she’s bid and sits back down, but shuffles her chair forward so that she’s close enough to almost be in Akemi’s lap, arms reaching to loop loosely around her waist. “If he upsets you while he’s here, I won’t have it,” she insists. “I don’t need a better reason than that. I don’t care if every one of his Masters throws a fit; it’s not happening. And if he won’t respect you because you’re his sister, then he’ll sharding well respect you because you’re Lady of this Hold.” She leans forward to rest her forehead against her. “If you want to try building bridges, I won’t interfere. You can have all the space you need. But if he crosses the line and he hurts you, Yukijiath and I will plant him back at the Hall ourselves.”

Akemi moves to rest her hand on Zinovia’s shoulder, then moves it to rest a finger underneath her chin and tip her face up so they can see each other’s eyes. “I love you,” she tells her, leaning forward to press a kiss to Zinovia’s forehead. “It won’t come to any such dramatics. It simply is not our family way. We would ignore each other’s existence if nothing else. Peace will be kept in our Hold.” She rarely calls Silverfield ‘hers’ but now the claim is made between them. “He will have to do the repairing, not me. I covered for him, changed my life for him, and his choices led me to Maozheth and you. Who is to say if he hadn’t left where I’d be?” She sighs then, shaking her head, “I still can’t believe it.” A glance is given to the various paperwork around Zinovia’s desk and the teacup. “Want to escape somewhere else for lunch? Maozheth wants a long flight and we could go to that little establishment not to far from here, the one that makes that curry dish that’s so good?”

“I love you too,” Zinovia murmurs, letting Akemi air her thoughts without any interruptions from her, nor further threats as to Akio’s fate if he so much as looks at her the wrong way. It’s an easy thing to twine her fingers with hers and get to her feet to tug her out of the room after her and up to their quarters to change into something more suitable for flying and slightly less presentable than office hours attire. And if, when they reach their destination, she keeps ordering the dishes that she knows Akemi likes, all nicely spaced out so that there’s to be no rushing off back home again, it’s surely not done deliberately. In-fact, the office lies empty for the rest of the day, meetings cancelled via firelizard message when the bluerider isn’t looking, the hours that pass dedicated to her wife and no-one else.

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