Can’t Be Changed?

Who: Zinovia, C’aol, Yukijiath, Daeserath
When: Month 7, 203 AT
Where: Lakeside, Ierne Weyr
What: Zinovia comes to C’aol to sign legal papers.  They try and be civil.

It’s been nearing three weeks since C’aol and Daeserath went to join the ranks at Ierne Weyr.  C’aol still bares a limp from the attack he faced all those months ago, a grimness added to his face that no one has been able to shake.  He’s got no time for friends at Ierne, choosing to watch those around him and decide where best to stake his name in the politics of a new Weyr.  He’s taken himself down to the beach that most of the residents and riders prefer, scrubbing Daeserath’s hide in public view of those that come to relax or bathe their own dragons.  Daeserath’s mental frustrations roll out around him like electric sparks, however he’s listening enough to his rider to not transmit it to the entire Weyr.

Maybe they should have called ahead, yet even when Zinovia and Yukijiath reach Ierne, they don’t appear to be in any hurry to get on with their errand, an hour or so spent in the council room with the Weyr’s leaders, either the price of rank or pre-arranged for one reason or another. Zinovia is dressed more for her duties as Lady Holder than flying, her heavy skirts ones that she has to lift an inch or so from the ground as she takes steady steps across the sand once her meeting has finally finished, Yukijiath her dark, looming shadow. It doesn’t take her long to pick out Daeserath and C’aol among the others dotted along the shore, yet she moves no further than dry sand permits, unwilling to risk damaging her dress with salt water, while her lifemate sits herself down behind her. There’s little telling whether it’s a corset to which Zinovia owes her slim middle or weight quickly shed, next to no indication that she birthed a daughter so few months ago.

Daeserath felt Yukijiath’s mental presence the moment she came from Between, though the bronze gave no mention of it to his rider.  The bronze’s red-hinted gaze is settled on the green and her Lady as they cross the sands, drawing C’aol’s focus to turn and assess the situation drawing before him.  He’s not so weak as to //need// that hand that’s put on his bronze’s shoulder to steady him, yet it goes out and rests there all the same as he takes in Zinovia’s form before him.  “What brings you here to visit, Lady?” C’aol draws, noting the thinness of frame and making whatever assumptions he might – though he’d never voice them. “Certainly you cannot be so in need of my company that you’d seek me outside of Honshu’s protection?” he querues, eyes narrowing as Daeserath vocalizes a hiss of indignation at the mere mention of Honshu.

“What need have I ever had of Honshu’s protection?” Zinovia not quite questions, tilting her head the slightest fraction. “If I had listened to them, there would be nothing at all between you and I.” Yukijiath remains a solid presence behind her, her gaze a placid green in the face of Daeserath’s temper. “And, on that subject, I bring the documentation to relieve you of any further commitment to me and my daughter.” Not his daughter. “You once stated no interest in seeing the child; this will only confirm it.” Zinovia offers no paperwork yet, perhaps unwilling to see it stained with water. “Word has it that you’re of no further use in securing my line – and I’m not of a mind to ask that you try – so I also release you from any duty there. You should still live quite well on the one percent from a brutal conception.”

C’aol looks at Zinovia with a bland expression, uninterested in playing any sort of games that he might have enjoyed before.  He steps away from Daeserath, moving further up the beach and out of the damage water may provide. He offers a hand out for the paperwork and informs her, “If you’re going to limit me to one child, I’ll require three percents of profit.”  His eyes sharpen and the blue in his gaze turns an icy-flint color. “I’m perfectly capable of bedding a woman. I appreciate your concern for my near death experience.” The smile he offers her is cold and without humor. “We could prove that point today.  Perhaps I’ll require it before I sign away all my claim to the heir I gave you.”

Zinovia proffers the paperwork without flinching, calmy informing him that, “The original contract stipulated two percent: one for each child. You’ve supplied one child. One percent. You’ll never see three.” She folds her hands behind her back. “If you think to force me into bed by refusing to otherwise sign the document, then so be it. I’m not afraid to do that, for her. If it makes you feel like a proper man again, to take a woman without regard for her wishes, then better me than another girl who doesn’t know what she’s in for.” Only then does the mildest flash of irritation cross her features. “I named her Zaimika. The girl you have no interest in. No thought for how she could change you.”

C’aol barks out a dry laugh, his brow lifting as he considers Zinovia.  “It’s amazing to me that you’re always willing to claim it’s forcing a woman, when you yourself, are stating right now you’d sleep with me if I required it.  It may be considered coercion, but it’s not //forcing// you in the sense you always like to imply I do to women.” He tilts his head at Zinovia, the predatory reflection of Daeserath’s penetrating stare as the bronze focuses on green and her rider.  “How would a baby change me? Am I not grown enough that most would realize one cannot be changed? Zaimika,” he rolls the name around his tongue, nostrils flaring. “No claim for her father in that name. It’s clear you don’t want me to have interest in her, as you’re requesting I sign away any visitation rights to her.”

“I’m stating that if letting you do what you want to me keeps you from having any legal sway over my daughter’s future, then I’ll comply,” is what Zinovia chooses to declare, lifting an idle hand to rest her palm against Yukijiath’s jaw when she leans closer. “If you leave me no option – if I don’t //want// to – then you are making me do as you want instead. You can argue the semantics all day to make yourself feel better, but I would have thought that, one day, you might want to find out what it’s like to have someone want you for more than because you manipulated a situation to suit you.” The curve of her lips is not a smile. “I can pretend, if you like. Maybe then you’ll pursue the real thing.” She glances up at her green, whatever it is that passes between them something that makes eyes flicker with hints of orange. “Legal power and visitation are two different things. I might not think that you will be a positive influence on her, but she could stand to help you more than any other girl in this world. I would have you know her for your sake, not for hers.”

C’aol falls to silence in the wake of Zinovia’s words, his gaze drifting to Daeserath.  The exchange they share leaves the bronze snarling at his rider before he launches himself into the air, not caring that he casts sand and dirt in the wake of his wingbeats.  C’aol flicks his fingers through his hair, clearing it of residual grit before he considers Zinovia again. “I’ll sign the papers,” he tells her, the angry glint gone from his gaze, something humble flickering there and then disappears in a blink.  “I don’t know anything of children, Zinovia. I don’t know what you think her knowing me will do for //me//. I would rather she know my brother, and her bloodline, than me as a person.” He looks to the distant sky where Daeserath’s massive shape is beginning to narrow into the horizon.  “We needn’t fight about it,” he informs her, keeping his gaze locked away from hers. “I won’t torture you or her.”

Zinovia swallows hard and manages to give the tiniest of nods, allowing herself only to acknowledge C’aol’s agreement and not anything else she might feel. “Thank you,” she utters a little stiffly, as if not having anticipated any chance that she might use those words. “If you wish for me to take her to see and know your brother’s family, then I will. It’s right that she should know all the sides of her history.” She glances down at the floor, yet makes herself look up at him again as she confesses, “I had no expectation of loving her. I would never have had my children now if not for Conclave’s insistence. But I do love her and she’s mine and I’d do //anything// for her. She’s made me better in so many ways already.” She swallows again, the orange easing from Yukijiath’s gaze. “I don’t think that it’s wrong to want that for you too, no matter what has passed between us.” When she reaches a hand out, it’s a hesitant thing only after the impulse has already made her reach. “Come and sit with me in the caverns? We can sort the papers and show people that we can be civilised.”

C’aol considers Zinovia’s hand long enough to make it an uncomfortable wait, but before she can rescind the hand he takes it and gives it a firm shake.  He drops it immediately after, stepping up to offer her arm, transitioning into a mask of civility he never showed much at Honshu. “No one at Ierne cares to know our history,” he remarks as he escorts her towards the main cavern system.  “It’s refreshing to not have that surround you.” It’s all he’ll talk on the matter of his placement at Ierne. As requested, C’aol is indeed a civil host with Zinovia. Tea and lunch will be gathered, eaten, and paperwork signed. He’s not the sort for idle conversation, so he does not make efforts to extend the meeting longer than necessary.  In the end, he watches her leave atop Yukijiath long after she’s gone Between. Daeserath does not return to Ierne until early morning, his anger for his rider too great to allow him to return before then.

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