All That Matters

Who: Isolwyn and C’aol
When: Month 8, 205 AT
Where: Weyrwoman’s Weyr, Fort Weyr
What: C’aol learns of the kitten and Isolwyn learns something of his past.

C’aol has not once considered Isolwyn’s weyr his home – though he spends many nights there within her company. His things remain in his weyr, even when Daeserath curls himself about Eosyth in her weyr. He might have been told about a kitten but dismissed it as something he would not concern himself about. As with all things, fire lizard and otherwise, C’aol has always managed to be dismissive and disengaged about them. He stirs in the early morning light in Isolwyn’s bed and stills himself as he hears a tiny little grumbly-hiss. Still half-asleep he freezes, waiting for his senses to fully take in the semi-darkness of dawn within Isolwyn’s room. He blinks blurry eyes and finds himself face-to-face with a kitten who has taken up his chest as a perfect bed. “Isolwyn,” he says slowly, remaining still enough that the kitten resumes sleeping, “there is a creature on top of me.” He reaches slowly to poke at his Weyrwoman’s side.

Isolwyn might have drifted awake as C’aol began speaking, but she only stirs when he pokes at her side, rolling over to face him and open her eyes just enough to take in the scene before her. So recently awake, her effort at concealing her amusement is a poor one, a smirk claiming her lips before she presses them more firmly together and attempts to appear terribly concerned by his present situation. That doesn’t work either, for she’s unable to keep the glimmer of good humour from her gaze and all she does by way of ‘rescuing’ him is gently pet the kitten with the backs of her fingers. “I did inform you about… Well, he doesn’t have a name yet.” She rests her head against C’aol’s shoulder. “Think of it as a networking opportunity. You’re clearly popular with the feline community.”

C’aol’s gaze has remain leveled on the little creature who has barely budged when Isolwyn begins to pet it. He misses most of the sparks of humor in his Weyrwoman’s gaze. He gives a brief glance downwards as Isolwyn tucks against him. “There is absolutely no reason for me to consider networking with felines, Isolwyn,” his tone is deadpan as he remains still lest he wakes the creature up. He is quiet for a stretch of time as he considers his options of moving or allowing the cuddling to continue. “Is this going to be a common occurrence when I visit?” he wonders aloud, his tone surprisingly light and not laced with anger for the situation. “I’m not entirely sure I like the idea of it sleeping on me all the time.” And yet he lets it sleep on now.

“I don’t know, I’m pretty sure we employ their tunnelsnake and rat catching services on a regular basis,” Isolwyn drawls, idly observing the rise and fall of the little kitten’s sleeping breaths. “And I’m certain that at least some of the time it will be //me// sleeping on you and I don’t have any intention of sharing. He’s likely to grow into better manners, I’m informed, as young things are. The two of you could probably negotiate.” She lifts her head a little to take in C’aol’s reaction. “Unless you grow to like each other and he looks to you as his master and not me. Men siding together and all. Then I imagine you’ll probably be stuck with each other and I’ll be relegated to sleeping on the couch or with Eosyth and Daeserath.”

“The idea that I am going to spend my time negotiating with non-sentient creatures truly aggravates me, Isolwyn,” C’aol growls out. “The creature will certainly not look to me,” he decides as he shifts the kitten in one movement off of his chest and on to the floor. He turns and pins Isolwyn beneath him and nips her earlobe. “No more talk of felines,” he tells and her and silences her with a kiss. After he makes certain to drown out all thought of felines by making Isolwyn remember //he// gives her the most pleasure C’aol rises and goes to bathe and change for the day. It’s a long day that he has and has him returning tired and grumbly to Isolwyn’s weyr to take his evening meal with her. He’s settled on the couch and reading a ledger while pointedly ignoring the purring cat that is making happy-feet on his lap.

The click of Isolwyn’s heels announce her return before any appearance of her does, and it’s the pause that perhaps betrays a moment’s study of the scene she finds, no more than that permitted as she crosses the weyr with her head ducked and sits herself down in a very careful and ladylike way right next to C’aol and does her best to likewise not afford the kitten any acknowledgement. Rather than pet the cat, she lifts a hand to run her fingers through his hair instead. “Can I get you anything?” is a little too bright an enquiry to succeed in completely concealing any pleasure she gets from seeing where the kitten has chosen to sit.

C’aol probably should kick the cat out of his lap but doing so would admit he let it sit there as long as it has. “I wish I were a drinking man.” He tells her. “That blue pair is determined to be a problem.” He tilts his head towards her hand. “It would seem even screening candidates can hand you a difficult weyrling.” He sighs and shifts to place his arm over her shoulders and tuck her against him. The cat kneads it’s claws without care on his lap. And still C’aol ignores it. “How are Emily and Hanath? Is there hope we have at least //some// competent riders?”

“I suppose there will never be any sure way of knowing how someone will respond to Impression… particularly if it highlights something about them that they don’t wish to acknowledge or simply haven’t.” Isolwyn lets her heels slip from her feet and tucks her knees up onto the couch, letting her hand slip from C’aol’s hair and down to anchor itself over his chest. “If Hanath has the strength of her bloodline, it’s yet to show itself,” she murmurs. “Then, maybe that’s a blessing for Emily. It’ll make her life easier in a lot of ways. Hanath seems rather focused on young things, so she should be a good dam in future years, at least. I expect Emily will be competent, but whether she’s politically astute enough to navigate politics as you or I might wish may be another matter. We can’t have anyone seek to exploit them in ways they wouldn’t try with us.”

The cat tilts upwards to bat it paws at Isolwyn’s hand to demand attention from her. It chooses then to climb up C’aol’s shirt to reach the Weyrleader’s shoulder. It proceeds to grapple with a strand of Isolwyn’s hair. C’aol promptly scoots the kitten off of his shoulder to spill in a mewling protest to Isolwyn’s lap. “So long as she’s not as dim witted and lacking of ambition as Rori is, I will settle with her not necessarily having the innate skill to walk through the political landscape you and I travel so easily.” He brushes his hand along his pants to rid himself of any lingering fur. “Hanath not being as strong as Eosyth may be a blessing.” He considers the kitten and then glances up at Isolwyn. “I’m debating on holding Teryn and Deyath back from graduating if she continues to be so explosive and out of control.”

Isolwyn catches the kitten in her skirts and adjusts them to make sure he won’t spill straight over her knees and to the floor, smoothing him back into a purring ball with the gentle press of both hands. “I saw you, you know,” she tells C’aol, matter of fact. “You can stop pretending.” But she prods no more than that, declaring, “Not wanting power doesn’t make Rori dim-witted. She had the luxury of choice that many of us don’t. If she had truly wanted to, she could have insisted and taken Fort from me, owing to her experience if nothing else.” She strokes the kitten’s brow with the tip of a finger as he curls his tail around himself and closes his eyes. “If Teryn and Deyath are a danger to themselves or others, holding them back is the right thing to do. Maybe it’s time to get mindhealers involved.”

“The creature keeps a lap warm that’s all,” C’aol grouses at Isolwyn. “And it’s easy to forget when it’s on you like that.” He looks pointedly at the sleeping kitten. The statement is the closest he will get to acknowledging the cat isn’t a nuisance. He sighs at the mention of including mindhealers. “If you think such indulgence will work on the girl then call them in. Otherwise, we will continue to push punishment. I’m not familiar with how being kind and listening to one spoiled child works. My father often beat sense into his children and foster children. It turned the worst of them around,” he says with a shrug. “Your more womanly approach may be better for the girl.”

“Of course,” Isolwyn acknowledges, her voice just dry enough for her to be humouring C’aol and nothing more – and unrepentantly. “I’m not certain that having a healer try to get inside your head and figure you out is exactly an indulgence,” she has to admit. “If I wanted a nightmare of an afternoon, I’d surrender myself to one, but I like to think that I’m reasonably well-adjusted.” Seconds tick by with her gaze fixed on his knees rather than her own, before she takes a breath and asks, “Did your father beat you?” as evenly and lightly as she can manage, dragging her gaze back up to meet his.

“Fathers beat their sons,” C’aol answers without a pause. “I got beat harder than my youngest brother. That stood to reason. When we were young, I hated to see him cry. Then I got tired of hearing him cry, so I’d take the beating, so I wouldn’t have to see it.” He watches the sleeping kitten as he shares this with Isolwyn. “It made me stronger,” he states with a shrug. “And a mindhealer wouldn’t be able to touch my mind,” he drawls, smirking at Isolwyn as he meets her gaze. “It’s too dark and twisty in there. Moreso now that I’ve got Daeserath to contend with as well. If you think you can find one that can work with a dragonrider and their issues with bonding with their dragon, I’ll allow one to take up residence here. The moment it does more harm than good, we’ll have to try another approach. I would even contemplate transferring her to another, more tolerant, and comfortable Weyr. Let Honshu have her, maybe. They like to coddle those who do not fit the proper mold.”

Isolwyn frowns, her focus a little hazy as she lets that information settle and denies herself any immediate reaction. When she finally seems to be breathing again, she gently scoops the kitten from her lap and into the space that she vacates by settling herself in C’aol’s, where she reaches to frame his face with her hands and lightly soothe her thumbs at his temples. “Fathers don’t beat their sons,” she says carefully. “Your father beat you. That doesn’t mean it was right. I wouldn’t change you, but I would change that he did that to you.” She leans forward to press a kiss to his cheek. “You’re better than he was. You won’t beat our sons. I know that to be true because you wouldn’t do that to me or stand for anyone else making an attempt to.” Biting down on the inside of her lower lip, she takes a deep breath, then tells him, “I love you,” without letting herself look away, “and I’m sorry you had to go through that.”

C’aol had not anticipated any reaction from Isolwyn, so sure was he in the fact that most children – especially of prominent Lords – were given heavy-handed treatment to get them to obey. It had certainly driven some of his darker choices in his early reaches for Weyrleadership status. He blinks as Isolwyn settles in his lap and rests his arms loosely around her hips, prepared for anything but the words that spill from her lips. His sharp gaze shifts to soften at the edges as he considers her, knowing how the words may cost her. “I won’t beat our sons,” he says by way of a promise, “because beating them doesn’t make them strong like you, it makes them harder and stronger //despite// you.” He lets her words settle around him as he reaches up to take one of her hands in his so he might kiss her palm. “I’m not sorry for any of it,” he tells her, “I will say I should feel sorry you love someone like me, but for that, I am not sorry at all. I love you as well.” He kisses her then, a soft, sweetness behind his lips that he has never shown her.

Something of midnight and lightning has settled itself over Fort, seen not in the skies, but felt in its dragon population and the more sensitive of its weyrfolk, Eosyth’s reaction to what Isolwyn has learned of C’aol’s past tilted more towards anger than her rider’s distress, yet anything more than that is kept firmly in check by the Weyrwoman in her Weyrleader’s lap, amethyst and sapphire sparks lighting to life without targets to strike. Isolwyn can’t help but let a small smile curve her lips as C’aol kisses her, her hands sliding down to settle on his shoulders when she draws back only enough to rest her forehead against his. “Well, I’m glad you’re not sorry about that,” she murmurs, “because then it would be awfully inconvenient that Eosyth and I have long decided that you and Daeserath are ours to love and protect, as we are yours.” She touches her lips to the edge of his jaw. “You are you. That’s all that matters to me.”

Daeserath’s shudder of rage reverberates across Fort in the wake of his mate’s displeasure. He takes to the skies, snarling grumpily at any dragon who dares to fly above the Weyr at this moment. He sweeps back and forth, on the alert for any who may further draw his focus and channel his rage upon them. C’aol cannot find the words as easily as Isolwyn can so he breathes in her scent and closes her eyes against the fear that too much may be shared from his gaze alone. Daeserath’s rage stiffens his shoulders as he grits his teeth and then lets out a long, shuddering, breath. “I forgot how much he hates being reminded of it all,” he tells Isolwyn. To turn the conversation towards something that will cause disinterest to his bronze, he directs his gaze to the now awake kitten. “Do not take this as a license to bring all matter of creatures into my life, Isolwyn. I may tolerate this one but if you start harboring fire lizards and more cats… I will visit far less.”

Isolwyn shifts her hands to gently cradle C’aol’s head against her, closing her own eyes while she rests her head against his. “We don’t need to speak of it again,” she quietly assures. “Only if you ever want to.” The kitten regards them both through eyes that are on the brink of turning from baby blue to a brighter green, a quiet mew all he offers them by way of entreaty or comment, prompting Isolwyn to open her eyes and slide her attention to their audience. “He’ll be a handsome creature when he’s older,” she remarks. “But he’s not female, so there’s no need to be concerned about unexpected additions in that sense. And I already have homes for all of Askavi’s eggs, I promise. None of which are under your pillow.” She lets her gaze drift back to C’aol and dips her head to lightly bump her nose against his. “I think I should ask you to take me to your bed, but mine is closer and I’ve been thinking about this morning all day…”

“I rather enjoy that you’ve been thinking about this morning all day,” C’aol admits to her as he settles her into his arms and heaves himself upwards. Years of dragonriding and fitness have afforded C’aol that lithe, muscular, grace that allows him to carry Isolwyn directly to her bed. There will be no more talking – of the coherent sense – as C’aol makes sure to once more please his Weyrwoman sufficiently. Daeserath eventually returns to the ground and coaxes Eosyth to join him in snuggling in her wallow. He covers her with his wing and leans into her mind to distract her with stories of his and C’aol’s day. After bathing and chatting more about the Weyr, C’aol eventually settles into Isolwyn’s bed to let sleep claim him. When he wakes the following morning and once more finds the cat choosing to sleep on //his// chest as Isolwyn snuggles against his side he allows himself a small, private, smile.

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