Who: Jet, Arlet, Safiye, Kyramith
When: Month 2, 205 AT
Where: Court of Shadows, Honshu Territory
What: Arlet breaks down.
She was a bad mother.
That was the only explanation she had for why things had turned out as they had. If she had never been so selfish as to leave Arlet the means to find her, her daughter wouldn’t have gone through everything that had reduced her to a shell of a woman. She would have been safe and with parents who knew her better than she did; better able to help her with what she was going through. Arlet might never have found Akanyth, but… wasn’t he the root of so much of what had happened to her?
That too was an unkind thought.
With what fragments she had managed to piece together and was still trying to sort through, she understood that Arlet had loved Honshu’s junior weyrwoman. Something had gone wrong there to make her believe she had been nothing more than a plaything. As she learnt more and more of what had gone on at Fort… Any suspicions she had of Arlet loving the Weyrwoman – and her weyrmate – that she had been with had now been firmly set aside. Whatever it was that had happened between them, it might have been a distraction and she might have wanted it and convinced herself that she had been willing… But more and more, now, she was convinced that Arlet had been an amusement, a toy, a thing that they had used for their own gratification. As the brownrider had begun to surface from the depths of her depression, she’d seen and heard her reach that realisation in unsteady steps, her regret over their respective fates fading bit by bit.
Maybe that was why Arlet felt a duty to Aadi and nothing more. She couldn’t say that she had seen her demonstrate any love or affection towards the child. What bond might have been formed at his birth or the weeks that followed had never taken hold. Might never take hold, now.
Whatever it was between her daughter and J’kson (whether she liked it or not), she had only managed to grasp – from between Arlet’s sobs – that she felt she wasn’t worth his time, or anyone’s time, and it was best that he only think of her as someone to bed. That was what everyone else had thought. That was what M’tan thought of her, and…
And that was exactly why her eldest – once her youngest – daughter was sobbing at her feet. She’d hurled accusations until her throat was raw and that was when the crying had started and everything had all come tumbling out.
“I can’t stay here. I can’t be here. This isn’t what I—“
Crouched next to her, Jet laid a gentle hand on Arlet’s head.
“Papa would never think those things.”
The voice belonged to Safiye, who stood at the door, peering in. How long she had been there, listening, Jet had no idea.
“Safiye, I don’t think you understand—“
“I understand. I know what happens between men and women. I know Arlet thinks that Papa wants her to go to bed with people to find our their secrets, but he wouldn’t think that. He wouldn’t ask that.”
“You don’t know!” Arlet lashed out, rounding on the sister she had spent next to no time with.
“Papa is a good man,” Safiye insisted, stepping forward and closing the door behind her. “He’s looked after me since I was little, even when I was at Kadross. He cared, even then. I may not be his blood, but he’s my father. He’d be yours too. And he’d never not want you to be happy.”
“You’re just a kid,” the brownrider accused.
“I’m your sister,” Safiye responded, calm as anything. “I’m not that bad once you get to know me. I bet you aren’t either.” She shrugged and turned for the door again, slipping from the room as quietly as she had entered it.
Jet reached again for Arlet, startled when she fell into her arms, not to cling or to hold, but exhausted and unconscious. In the minutes that passed before the Hold’s Healers arrived, she found she wouldn’t need their assessment, or imagined it wouldn’t surprise her. Beneath the jacket and the too large clothes, there was nothing of her. If she had been eating and taking care of herself, it must have been only enough to keep her functioning and Akanyth from sounding the alarm.
Though she let the Healers take her to the infirmary to clean her up and run their tests, she ordered Arlet moved from there as soon as they could tell her that they were finished, determined that she should wake up in the set of rooms that she’d had waiting for her for months and had hoped to eventually coax her into accepting.
<< You have done all that you can, >> Kyramith informed, more than assured, her.
At her daughter’s bedside, Jet passed a hand over her face and pushed down the urge to shed tears of her own.
Haven’t I just?
Hadn’t she just.