Who: Zinovia and Akemi
When: Month 9, 202 AT
Where: Silverfield Hold, Honshu Territory
What: It worked.

It’s an odd coincidence that the morning that news filters down from Honshu via gossip and dragon alike of C’aol’s present state of health – or lack of one – Zinovia loses her breakfast before she can even finish it. It’s true that she’s wanted to sleep a lot more over the past few weeks, rarely giving in to the temptation, and on occasion she’s had to completely avoid Silverfield’s kitchens, but one would have thought: Healer, diagnose thyself. She’s not said anything to anyone about any suspicions, the worst of the bruising from her encounter with the Weyrsecond still refusing to lift from her skin. Zinovia doesn’t bother attempting to go back to breakfast, instead dragging herself upstairs to the quarters she shares with Akemi, pausing at the bathroom to clean her teeth before shedding her dress in favour of a nightgown and crawling back into bed.

Akemi has been more withdrawn since Yukijiath’s maidenflight. The staff has plenty of whispered assumptions about the silence of the bluerider, much of which involves her and Zinovia’s relationship. Also, Akemi has yet to do much by way of finding a rhythm or a purpose at Silverfield. She spends much of her time going over the ledgers and talking to the Steward and Headwoman about the market worth of their own goods and those they seek to buy. She’ll always be a trader and knows no other life than to barter and haggle over everything her money is spent on – Silverfield’s mother is no different. She hasn’t made much of Zinovia’s morning illness, though the whispers from the kitchen speak to reasons why – a baby on the way? The titters of hopeful interest are beyond Akemi. She’s withdrawn even further since Silverfield had received the news of C’aol’s injuries. Honshu has been hit by many things of late – again, rumors circulate that this could be Fort’s doing. Akemi’s lip is bleeding from her worried nibbles at it as she strides into their bedroom, preparing herself to face the day in a new set of clothes when she notices Zinovia back in bed. “Are you ill?” she asks, concern puckering her brow.

There could be better ways of breaking the news, but Zinovia must presently be feeling too sorry for herself to manage to dredge up one of them. Hauling the blankets up to her shoulders, she shakes her head, looking away from Akemi as she confesses, “No. I’m pregnant.” The difference between knowing a thing and saying it is enough to make her curl up and press her face into the pillows as if she could pretend it isn’t happening. That, or another wave of nausea hits. “…I’ve thought it had to be the case for a while now,” she murmurs. “It’s why I didn’t… call him here.” She presses her eyes closed. “So, it was worth it, at least. I just have to hope I carry to term. If he’s hurt as badly as they say, he’s in no state to sire anything on anyone.” Not even halfway through this first pregnancy and already she’s thinking, “If he can’t manage to get me with another, I’ll have to find someone else.” A burble of bitter laughter breaks free. “Maybe it’s the world’s way of saying that enough was enough. I can have someone kinder now. If he can’t.”

“Pregnant,” Akemi repeats, nodding her head slowly as she lowers herself to tie up her boots and hide her face from Zinovia as she conceals her emotions. “Why would you have called him here?” she asks, looking up with her neutral expression. “I thought you had time and it wouldn’t have had to be so frequent.” There’s mingled relief in her gaze as she moves to sit on the bed beside Zinovia, reaching for her hand to hold. “It’s unfortunate he won’t be able to function to sire more children on you,” she drawls, lips twitching as she blinks a few times and then shakes her head. “No, that’s a lie. It’s a //good// thing. Using him was a mistake.” She’s said it, finally, and her eyes go steely as she locks onto Zinovia. “You’ve got one by him and now you can dissolve the contract due to his injuries.” She squeezes Zinovia’s hand. “This is wonderful. Someone kinder, yes. Someone less… of a dragonrider. We don’t want to compete with the sire of your children,” she lets Maozheth’s feelings show through, “it’s bad enough I have to share you, Maozheth doesn’t want to share Yukijiath.”

“Because, if I wasn’t, I would have had to go to bed with him again,” Zinovia answers, peeking up over the top of the blankets, much of her expression concealed before she draws them down a little. “With the flight it was… instinct. I didn’t feel half of it until later. But I only have three and a half years left. They want two heirs or they take Silverfield from me. From //us//. Kinder or not, I’ll have to find someone else.” She gives Akemi her hand, not allowing herself to look away again even when she’s told things that she might not want to admit or acknowledge, her silence enough of an indication of some level of tacit agreement. There’s a moment where she flounders in the wake of the bluerider’s confessions, no words escaping her despite a slightly startled parting of her lips, yet soon she gathers herself, slotting bits and pieces of her composure back into place. “It was never a competition,” she says softly. “I was never going to run off with him or choose him. Yukijiath was so ashamed after that she—“ She shakes her head. “A sire is a sire, just that. Not who we //love//.”

“I can’t give you the physical child that is required by these archaic Holder institutions,” Akemi says, moving forward with unconcealed frustration. She’s channeling all her worry and rage over C’aol into //this// part. “But I don’t want the sire to be a monster to you either. If you’re to make a child, it shouldn’t be so..,” anger flashes in her eyes, “physically damaging to you. It may not be //me//, but it should be someone //decent//.” She puffs out a breath and looks down at their combined hands. “I know you don’t want to lose Silverfield, but if you did, I’d still be by your side.” She looks up at Zinovia again. “We could live a different life,” she offers up, something hidden in her gaze as her brows twitch and her expression smoothes, “We could live as I had before. Trading, traveling, //being// whomever we want to be.” She shakes her head then and reaches down to brush her fingers along Zinovia’s cheek. “Don’t listen to me. I’m babbling on like a petulant child. Do you want to celebrate?” she asks, changing course of the conversation swiftly, “We should celebrate. It’s a big thing to be carrying a child.”

“Some things are worth enduring monsters for.” It’s all the argument Zinovia provides, too weary to manage to put up a better fight and plainly lacking the will to try, besides. She watches Akemi with guilt all too visible in her dark gaze, her fingers tightening against hers for a fraction of a second to go with the apology that follows. “…I’m sorry, but this… This is what I have to do. For them. This was theirs and now it’s mine… A-And if they hadn’t all come here for my turnday, they might still be alive. I owe it to them and to everyone here to make sure they don’t end up with a master who doesn’t understand the land or the people.” She bites down on her lip, that same look colouring her features as when she’s told Akemi to go and to leave her, and though she takes a breath the words never find the air. “…I just want to sleep,” she murmurs, denying any will to celebrate. “Maybe later? It’s been… long enough that it should be safe to tell people.”

Akemi takes it all in with a simple nod, not knowing what to say and opting for silence – though it isn’t meant as a stony, angry, silence. She’s a little defeated, that’s clear, yet she eases Zinovia’s covers about her and tucks her in properly. She tips herself forward to press a kiss to Zinovia’s forehead. “Sleep then,” she tells her, letting her fingers linger along a cheek before she rises from the bed. She dims any remaining lights before she heads out to the face the rest of her day. She doesn’t fuss at Zinovia like some might with the news of pregnancy between them, it’s not in her nature to draw too much attention to that fact. She does do small things in the coming days to acknowledge the struggle Zinovia is facing – a warm cup of tea on a dresser each morning along with biscuits that someone told her eases nausea. It’s not flowers or dramatic acknowledgement, yet that small gesture seems to be enough to Akemi. As to a celebration? She’ll let Zinovia take lead on that when and if she wants such a thing to happen.

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