Who: Jet, Arlet, Kyramith, Akanyth
When: Month 10, 203 AT
Where: Council Room, Fort Weyr
What: In which time travel is a bitch.
She chose to visit Fort dressed entirely in black, her outfit one that blended the expected and often elaborate skirts of a Lady Holder with the tailoring and movement necessary of the clothes she wore both for the darker undercurrents of her world and life as a rider. No effort was made to conceal the weapons she brought with her, her sword at her hip, where the skirts of her dress began to grow long at the back and short at the front, revealing the form-fitting trousers beneath and their holsters for daggers. There were more defence mechanisms in her rings and hair, all crafted to merely decorative, but could be the difference between life and death in a struggle.
Jet took one look at the girl claiming to be her daughter and instantly knew that she would need none of it. Not the sword, not the jewellery, not Blaze and Inferno and their firestone. Not Kyramith and Sirhyth and M’tan on the rim of the bowl. None of it. What threat might come would not be from her.
The girl was tall, taller than she was, her complexion and the hair that fell to her waist both lighter than her own. Slim, bordering on too skinny, though there was a subtle roundness and softness to her that was incongruous with her figure.
From across the table in Fort’s council room, she finally addressed her. “You’re Arlet.”
The girl, Weyrleader, brownrider, nodded. “I am. You’re Jet, of Kyramith.”
No matter what else she was now, that was all she had known her to be. “I am. But I’m not the one claiming any connection between us.”
“I could tell you anything you want to know, but there’s no reason for you to believe me. All I can do to prove to you who I am is to show you. For Akanyth to share with Kyramith.”
“Memories are difficult to fabricate,” is all she would admit, yet she still gave the slightest nod to convey permission.
The people that she saw – that Kyramith saw – were undoubtedly the most important in the girl’s life. Mostly, she saw the goldrider she’d left her with and a dark haired man she didn’t recognise. Flickers of the biological father who had so rarely visited. The boy, a brother, now grown. Others she assumed to be Arlet’s siblings. Maybe cousins. Places she’d been, exactly how she remembered them herself. The home she and M’tan had lived in, occupied by others, a thought that made her irrationally seethe.
Despite it all, she had to be to the point. “Why did you come here?”
Arlet hesitated, her hands gripping the top of the chair before her. “I became a Candidate as soon as I was the right age. No dragon ever looked at me. I guess… my mother… the one who raised me, I mean… she felt sorry for me. She felt I needed answers. I thought… maybe if you felt you didn’t belong there, maybe I didn’t either. But Akanyth found me before I found you. I just… I wanted to meet you. Know who you were. Why you…”
“Gave you up?”
“Your mother gave you a better life than I could, at the time. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be a mother to anyone. You were—“
“An inconvenience,” Arlet accused.
“Yes,” she said bluntly. “If you want to look at it that way, then yes, you were. I didn’t want another child. I hardly wanted to be alive at all when Kyramith flew and you were conceived. I wasn’t going to inflict myself as a mother upon an innocent child. I did the right thing. She loved you. It didn’t matter that she hadn’t birthed you; you could see it whenever she was with you. I couldn’t do that, at the time. You were safe and loved and wanted. I couldn’t keep you safe and I wasn’t capable of loving anyone except Kyramith and my husband.”
“That’s a story for another time, if there is another time.”
The brownrider swallowed hard, her grip turning white knuckled. “…What if I want a mother? What if I need a mother, now?”
“That depends on whether it’s safe to trust you around your siblings and if we can welcome you into our Hold without wondering what those under your command will do.”
“Under my…” Arlet let out a choking sob of a sound and stepped away from the chair, letting what she revealed speak for itself.
Jet clenched her jaw as she realised just what the softness she had noted earlier indicated. Subtle though it was, for now, the bump beneath the girl’s shirt was undoubtedly owing to pregnancy.
“Who?” she demanded.
“The Weyrwoman’s weyrmate.”
“With your consent?”
“With your consent?” she repeated, louder this time.
“Yes, with my consent!” Arlet shouted, just as loudly. “My… My girlfriend’s queen was going to rise and I couldn’t stand thinking about her and… And I went to bed with him and my Weyrwoman. More than once. I’d gone Between and thought I’d sorted it, but…”
And if that wasn’t the very same reason that Arlet herself existed. Between had let Jet down more than once.
“I don’t want anything from you other than to get to know you. You said I have more siblings? All… All I want is a family. I don’t want to be on my own anymore. I don’t even want this knot! My girlfriend doesn’t want me anymore and she doesn’t even know about this. She’s managed to replace me pretty quickly, I’ve heard.”
Jet was determined to stand firm against the girl’s tears. To do otherwise would to be too naïve. To suggest that she could be manipulated by shows of emotion.
“If what you say is true, then you’ll give me time to consider it. If you want to meet again, it will be here, or outside the Weyr, but not at my Hold.”
Silent, Arlet nodded.
“I’ll contact you again in ten days.” She turned, only to hesitate at the door. “Don’t ever let them see you cry. Your position is too tenuous to risk showing weakness. And don’t try to go Between again. It’s too late now. It’ll be your life at risk too.”
Jet would have liked to have said that she left in a calm and collected manner.
But, in truth, she fled.