Willpower

Willpower

Who: Nala and Rori
When: Month 6, 204 AT
Where: Rori’s Weyr, Fort Weyr
What: Nala might be healing physically, but otherwise is a different matter.


If the more conservative residents of Fort Weyr were not pleased with having a brownriding woman as their Weyrleader, they’ve reacted just as well to the understanding that their new Weyrwoman has ‘that bluerider’ staying with her and that Jynth and Inaskashath look too cosy together for either of them to be entertaining the idea of their being together to be a bad thing. Nala’s had more to occupy her mind than any rumours circulating, namely trying to convince her body to heal faster than it wants to, and while bruises have begun to fade in earnest, damage still stubbornly lingers and restricts much of what she can do. As evening falls, she’s curled up on Rori’s couch beneath blankets and a fur, idly stitching needless patterns across a length of Jynth’s straps just to remind nerve and muscle that doesn’t want to cooperate of how it should work.

Few of the conservative residents of Fort Weyr give Rori the proper respect due her station – her youth, her foreign roots, all of them mark her as ‘other’. The placement of C’aol has been a wise one, the older man’s ability to pander to the more conservative riders has earned him the respect he needs to lead the Weyr’s riders. Rori comes home after dark, exhaustion weighing on her features that lends her a level of maturity she doesn’t usually carry with her. Her tendency to prefer skirts and dresses has at least earned the staff’s encouragement, her gentle and solid demeanor something that the Headwoman has learned to anticipate, though the judgements she delivers always lead to a level of micromanagement Rori is unused to having to deal with. “You’d think these people are used to a Weyrwoman that doesn’t care one bit about the level of stocked food, the tithes, or the functioning of the Weyr,” her voice proceeds her as she swishes towards Nala, her red hair tied up in a series of braids as she settles beside Nala’s head. She moves to rest her hand against Nala’s cheek, noting the work in her lap. “You have an eye for stitchwork, Nala. That’s beautiful.”

“It does seem that the Weyrwoman had more on her mind than the inner workings of her Weyr,” Nala murmurs, her needle slowing. “As much as I regret speaking ill of a woman who has suffered such a loss as she has. You care and that will be enough to turn things around for Fort.” She has tried to get out of the habit of instinctively flinching whenever anyone touches her in the wake of the attack, this managed now by taking a deep breath as Rori’s hand touches her cheek, her focus lingering on her rather than any pain she might feel. “Embroidery is one of the things that they like young Blooded girls to be able to do,” she utters a little dryly, the matter of exactly what it is that she’s said one that catches up with her only after she’s spoken. “…Maybe they would think me a better match for their Weyrwoman if they knew,” is a poor attempt at humour.

“She loved Arlet,” Rori notes with a shrug, “and was also juggling her Weyrleader’s needs,” so says the gossip Rori has come to grasp at for understanding, “and the Weyr Council made everyone on edge. I fault her not. She has no dragon now,” she sounds sad as she tips her head back against the couch and looks at the ceiling, “I don’t know what I’d do without Inaskashath. She is more me, than I am me, sometimes.” She looks to Nala, trying gauge her mood. She notes the breath and drops her hand, if nothing else – she is as sensitive as Inaskashath to her partners reactions. She has put no pressure on Nala, offering her a bed with her, or an adjacent room when the bluerider needs her own space. She considers the stitches, a brow puckered in thought. “I suppose being a crafters’ daughter who was probably too stupid to do more than what I did, I never learned such things.” Her commentary isn’t self-deprecating as much as self-analysis. She looks at Nala more sharply when she mentions ‘they’. “You are my partner, Nala. I don’t care what these people of Fort think. Their choices drove you to near death. They are,” she stiffens, Inaskashath’s weight in her words and eyes as she levels them on Nala, “lucky I did not destroy them all for their words and gossip.” Once Inaskashath lessens her grip, she slouches against Nala, her head moving to tuck against a shoulder. “I love you,” she murmurs.

“Crafters are not stupid and neither are you.” It’s a statement flatly made, not out of a need to supply any form of reassurance, so emphatic that Nala must only see it as fact. As Rori tucks in against her shoulder, she surrenders her straps to the floor and loops an arm through hers, folding their fingers together. “Aislara felt it necessary to declare that you only love me because you are young,” she says softly. “That who I am will be nothing that you want when you are older and wiser. If that is to be true, I hope you know now that I love you too.” Slowly, she carefully tilts her head to rest it against hers. “There are things that I need to do and try to understand while I still have the willpower to. Not to do with her, or with you, but with what got me to Fort and Jynth in the first place. Being in that infirmary bed reminded me of things that I have tried to forget and now they will not be dismissed so easily.”

Rori listens to Nala as she examines their twined fingers, as if their joined hands hold all the answers to the problems before them. “I think she is hurting,” Rori’s words are soft as she tentatively tries to form words to her thoughts, “And doesn’t quite understand. I knew I had to share your affection when this started. Maybe she wasn’t as prepared to do that.” She keeps her gaze on their hands. “I’m young and foolish,” she snorts, a rueful lilt entering her words, “so many would like to remind me as I go about my tasks here. All I can do is prove them wrong. I don’t have anything to prove when it comes to you, Nala. This is, how it is, and that is all I can say.” She shrugs, then tilts her face upwards to try and catch Nala’s eyes. “Will you tell me about it?” she asks, careful in her question, “Maybe if you say it aloud it’ll ease it from your mind.” She lifts their joined hands to press a kiss to her fingers. “I’m here for you.”

“Even if she is hurting, it would be nice if she could refrain from telling me how much of a failure and a disappointment I am for two or three minutes,” Nala says slowly, her voice drifting past wry or deadpan and onto devoid of any feeling at all. “Perhaps she would have spoken better of me if I had died. Maybe someone else will make an attempt and give her another chance to stand at my bedside and tell me how awful I am.” That seems easier to linger on than the rest, her gaze darting to Rori’s and away again before she appears to even breathe again. Her attention drifts around the room for a few moments before it dissipates, her focus going far and distant. “…When I was sixteen, my parents sent me to another Hold as a potential bride for its Lord. Only, I did not fall for the Lord, I fell for the Hold’s new Harper and… when I was not to be a bride, I returned home, prepared to forget. Except there were consequences and they shut me away for the duration of a pregnancy they assumed was with a Blooded bastard they could use as leverage.” Her lips twitch, yet no other sign of any discomfort betrays her. “It was the Harper’s, not the Lord’s. They drugged me and took the baby away. A boy. He must be… ten, now? If he lives. If they let him live. I need to know.”

“I was completely awful to Arlet,” Rori offers up softly, looking towards the wall. “And I shouldn’t have been, and every time I go and try to say that, we fight. I hope that you and Aislara can fix it. You’ve been together a long time, you should be able too?” she sounds hopeful and unsure at the end, the upswing of a question also in her eyes as she tilts them to Nala. She’s quiet when Nala shares her past, her fingers tightening at the situation. She doesn’t rush to say anything after she’s been told all of it, choosing the safety of silence as she tries to weigh out what to say. “They had to have let him live,” she reasons, “even if he isn’t given his title. A child is worth something to most people. Even horrible people.” She folds her arms around Nala, tugging her closer as she hugs her tight. “I’ll go with you,” she offers, “to find him. We can ask Inaskashath to sense him.”

Nala hesitates, focused only on the arms around her and Rori’s nearness, yet she makes herself hazard, “…If Arlet feels… anything like how I felt after the birth of the baby,” she can’t say ‘my son’, “then half of what she says she does not mean and most of what she states about herself, she believes. It is… an unpleasant combination and difficult to see clear to reality.” It’s easier to focus on that that the matter of Aislara, which garners an abrupt shrug and silence until she murmurs, “If Aislara does not like who I am, then… It is worse than her not loving me. I could deal with that. Not liking me?” Further silence follows, her only movement to tuck her head into the crook of Rori’s shoulder, no matter what pressure it might apply to bruising. “…I do not even know the boy’s name,” she confesses. “And I have no desire to see my family again. My brother, perhaps, but the rest… I appreciate what you would do for me, but it is complicated. I will not be claimed by Bitra ever again.”

“My nearness to Arlet will not fix her. We were broken before she had the baby. She is living with her mother now and I hope they can find a way to fix her. But it will not be me who helps her,” Rori is firm in that decision, which may show her youth more than anything else she’s said to Nala in the past. “It’s unkind to say it, Nala, but she is not my problem. I have to run Fort, as she had to run it, and that made her put distance between us. So I’m doing the same.” She shakes her head and sighs, holding Nala, “I do not want to talk of Arlet.” It would seem the pair of them are prepared to avoid the harder conversations of other relationships which draws a tiny pucker of brows from Rori but she loses that thought quickly. “That’s not what it is. She’s hurting,” she affirms, “all she needs is you to show up with flowers and give her a way out. If she can’t apologize, smooth the way for her. I wish Arlet had done that for me.” She’s quiet once more as Nala leans in, not so weak as to be easily bruised, though she does reach around to press fingers to a chin and draw Nala’s gaze up. “I will go then,” she decides, “and I will find out for you.”

“You have bigger things to worry about than her or me,” is what Nala chooses to say, the lifting of her head enough that she has to close her eyes for a moment and wait for equilibrium to be restored and pressure to ease. “I would be keeping an eye on whether C’aol intends to keep his knot one way or another, for a start.” The idea of going to her weyrmate is dismissed with a tiny shake of her head, her, “Aislara does not need me,” little more than a whisper. “…I cannot face it. Her. My absence will let her find someone better. It is…” She closes her eyes again to both avoid Rori’s gaze and try to ground herself. “It is the same as not returning to Bitra. I will not give them the satisfaction of knowing they made me wish I no longer lived. I cannot have her ever know that she made me feel the same after I was attacked. Until I can look at her and not feel it… It is better for us both to be apart.” Lifting a hand, she gently smooths her fingers over Rori’s hair. “Bitra is an unkind place,” she says, blinking her eyes open. “Are you certain you wish to go there? Questions will not be welcomed. They may be… aggressive.”

“C’aol keeping the knot may not be a bad thing for Fort. He’s gotten a lot of the angrier riders in line, calming their fears that we’ve come to destroy how ‘they’ do things in the North. Inaskashath doesn’t like Daeserath’s heavy-handed ways… and yet, it’s working.” Rori’s startled face is hidden from Nala when the bluerider closes her eyes. “Don’t, please. Don’t wish you no longer lived. We need you. We want you.” She leans close again to wrap her in another firm hug, willing the hug to ease all the hurts from Nala. There’s a glint to her gaze when she pulls back from the hug enough to offer Nala a small smirk. “I am not frightened by unkind places, Nala. I did not grow up wrapped in furs and tucked into safe places. I’ll go,” she straightens then, easing her shoulders straight and lifting her chin before she tilts her head at Nala. “And they can try to be aggressive with Fort’s Senior Weyrwoman and see how far they get with //that//. I will find the boy,” she promises, “and your family will suffer if they dare to deny me.” She kisses Nala’s forehead. “You will be whole again soon, love.”

There’s a lot that Nala could say – or should say – and a lot that she might argue, but the temptation of just curling up against Rori for a little longer is too much to resist, and so all she does is offer a single nod and cuddle herself close to her, denying the outside world for a few moments more. That she doesn’t argue further is perhaps a better indication of her mental state than anything else, yet she would have all seem fine as she presses a kiss to the curve of Rori’s neck and rises, freeing herself from furs and blankets. “I will make dinner,” she states quietly. “You should get some rest. Someone is bound to interrupt your evening for some reason or another.” She can cook, yes, but she still has to rely on Rori’s baking skills to provide dessert once she’s put together a meal for the both of them and made sure that the goldrider has at least had long enough to relax for a time, should someone demand her presence again. Outside, Jynth casts a wing over Inaskashath, caring not who looks to the ledge and sees blue where bronze ‘should’ be, and later Nala wraps herself around Rori, holding her close even in sleep.

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