An Endless Line of Suitors

Who: Isolwyn and C’aol
When: Month 8, 205 AT
Where: Weyrwoman’s Weyr, Fort Weyr
What: The Lord of Fort Hold has been sending suitors to his niece. No-one is happy about it.

The first time it happens, Isolwyn manages to frighten the off the young man from Southern Telgar by introducing him to her dear, sweet Eosyth, who bares her teeth and snarls in his face when he gets closer to her rider than she’d like, the matter of the bronzerider who attempted to harm Isolwyn one that has yet to dislodge itself from her memory. The second time, the gentleman from Fort Sea Hold is tolerated to the extent that he manages to sit down to dinner with Isolwyn and is promptly offered the assistance of a bluerider to help him home after she manages to get him well past inebriated before the end of the main course. The third time, the handsome son of Ruatha’s Lord actually gets to the matter of proposing marriage not an hour after his arrival at Fort, and in public, no less. He is dispatched with the most regretful of apologies, the beginnings of tears, and the suggestion that it’s far too late and she couldn’t possibly expect him to wed her and raise a bronzerider’s bastard. And after this fortnight of dodging uninvited suitors and fully expecting to see more, Isolwyn sprawls in-front of the hearth in her weyr, lying in a tangle of furs and her own skirts as she waits for the heat to ease the ache in muscles tensed too long from being both prey and predator at any given moment.

C’aol hadn’t heard about the Southern Telgar man from anyone, aside from Daeserath, whose anger boomed across Fort when Eosyth’s teeth and snarl faced the man. He heard about the man from Fort Sea Hold by the perplexed bluerider who inquired whether or not his Weyrleader would like him to begin to post outside Isolwyn’s weyr to protect her from drunken young Lords. The matter of the last – and the rumor of Isolwyn somehow carrying his child – has settled the matter to C’aol. He strides into Isolwyn’s weyr and moves right to the hearth, his arms folded in front of him as his jaw juts out and his glare angles downwards. “I won’t tolerate this absolute nonsense any longer, Isolwyn. Who is telling these men that you’re a marriageable woman? You are a //Weyrwoman//. Your duties are //here//. Fort Weyr will not tolerate //any// wedding to take place with it’s Weyrwoman. You are not some breeding mare out for hire!”

Irritated enough by the whole situation, Isolwyn blinks wearily up at C’aol through narrowed eyes as she demands, “Does it look like I’ve run off with any of them to say my Harper vows?” She lifts a hand and presses her fingers to the bridge of her nose, wincing at her poor attempt to ease the growing pressure of a headache. “I think I’ve dispatched them quite cleanly, thus far. The last one might create a bit of a stir, true, but he took me rather by surprise and it seemed better to play the sort of weaker creature he was likely expecting than trying to appeal to what intelligence he probably doesn’t posses, given his complete lack of subtlety.” Her lips twitch. “And I think it’s more that they’re expecting to live here, with me, than my taking Eosyth and moving to a Hold.” She reaches out a hand, a silent offer to join her, but she makes no more of it than that. “The most plausible explanation is my uncle. Should he broker a marriage, he benefits, likely in some financial way. That, or he’s simply attempting to ensure that my children are fully Blooded.”

“I wasn’t blaming you for it,” C’aol clarifies – the closest he can get to an apology. He eases himself down into a chair and lets out a grunt as he watches her press against her face. A kinder man might get up to offer her something for it, he simply watches her. “The Weyr thinks you are pregnant with my child. They aren’t unhappy about it,” he tells her lowly, something sparking in his gaze. “While I wouldn’t mind a child between us, I certainly don’t need you using it as an excuse to fend off unwanted suitors.” His brows sharpen into a line of displeasure. He notes her hand and takes it, though he doesn’t move from his chair. He’s tipped forward to hold it, his arms resting on his knees as he considers her for a long moment. “I will kill your Uncle,” he decides, not nearly close to jesting. “If you were to have a child with me, they would be fully Blooded. He may keep his suitors at home if that is his concern. Brokering a marriage for you is out of line. I won’t allow it to go further.”

“It was the first thing I could think of that I knew for certain would make him leave,” Isolwyn murmurs, curling her fingers around C’aol’s. “A Ruathan heir wouldn’t give up so easily if I had tried to politely decline, even if he was just following orders and couldn’t think for himself.” She shrugs her left shoulder in a slow ease of a gesture that accompanies, “And I wasn’t technically lying. Until a certain point in the month, who knows if I am or otherwise? I’m sure the Weyr understands that accidents can happen with Between when they see no evidence of a child.” Biting down on the inside of her lip, she looks into the fire for a long moment before confessing, “The idea of my expecting your child is repulsive to a man who would want me for his own, but it’s not repulsive to //me//. My loyalty lies with Eosyth and this Weyr and you. If we have children, they may be destined to be heirs and riders, but they will be //ours// first. I wouldn’t choose to bear your child just because it would keep other men at bay.” She tightens her hold on his hand. “And if you kill my uncle, you will be tried for murder and Eosyth and I will lose the only mates we //want//.”

C’aol is silent, seethingly so, as he listens to Isolwyn speak. His grip remains firm on her hand and tightens briefly at her assertion that Eosyth and her want Daeserath and himself. To be wanted draws a smirk from him, the cold anger in his gaze slowly giving way to a flash of tenderness offered towards Isolwyn. “Alright,” he tells her, “I won’t kill him. I’ll hire someone to do it,” he sounds confident that such a person //is// hireable. “And they’ll make it seem like an accident and we will be rid of your meddlesome Uncle.” He lifts his other hand to brush his fingers briefly against her cheek, moving to tip her face up to look at her more clearly. “Or if you have some attachment to the man staying alive, I’ll go and speak to him. I am a Lord’s son and Weyrleader of Fort. He needs to respect my interest in your well-being and recognize he may not attempt to do what he would’ve done to you were you not to have found Eosyth on those Sands.”

“I have no attachment to the man staying alive, but I have a care for my cousin’s wife,” Isolwyn says slowly and with some consideration. “Were he suddenly to become Fort’s Lord, it would be her duty to produce an heir as quickly as possible, which she has yet to do. I wouldn’t like to see her mistreated or passed over for another if she cannot conceive to the tune of my cousin’s will.” It’s instinct when she tips her head into the brush of fingers at her cheek, her eyes briefly falling closed. “And it would be too convenient if my uncle were to perish just as he begins to aggravate us again, a Harper might suggest. I’ve little assurance he would be open to listening to you, but a man used to getting his way is a man easily led into traps.” With one hand, she tugs the fabric free of her shoulder, her laces loosened only enough to be more comfortable where she lies, and seeks to guide C’aol’s fingers over the black and blue mottled imprint of his own teeth. “I hope you know I’d not let another man, heir, Blooded or rich in marks, do that. They can want me all they like. They won’t be marrying me, or in my bed, or siring my children.”

“It is only because you care for your cousin’s wife and that it would bother you deeply if I got the man killed – that I won’t do it,” C’aol tells Isolwyn softly, the glint back in his gaze. “The moment you change your mind, his neck will be slit.” He talks to easily of death and killing others to serve his purposes, he knows, and yet he shrugs and focuses on the bareness of her shoulder. “I’m going to have a talk with him regardless of whether or not he may listen,” he tells Isolwyn as he pulls his attention back to her face. “I am his Weyrleader. If he wants me to make his life difficult for him and his people, I will. It is easy for me to refuse any rider’s to take their people – money paid or not – wherever they may. There are other ways to pressure him to remember his place,” he pauses, thinking as he considers her shoulder once more. When her hand guides his to the marks he’s left he smiles. “I have marked you as mine as Daeserath will Eosyth next she rises. No one may touch you unless you request it.” He draws his finger gently along the bruise. “I would suggest you continue to find me the more suitable match.”

“If he persists in his belief that I’m even remotely his agent to further his personal gains and those of his Hold, I may well change my mind.” Isolwyn adds only, “Provided there is no chance of you being implicated.” She tips her head back a little more and closed her eyes, whether to make it easier to say or to avoid being met with anything that might hurt and elicit a more emotional response. “Eosyth and I made our choices long ago,” she says softly. “If you’ve been covert in seeking others, then the more fool me, I suppose.” Blindly, she grasps for C’aol’s fingers again to guide them back over the mark he’s left. “You can do it again when it fades… If you want…” She doesn’t quite manage to not make it sound like a plea. “And if you want the Weyr’s rumours to be true… That’s easily enough made a reality, I would think.’

“The reality of you being with child should wait,” C’aol tells her, his voice roughening as desire stirs within him. “I am not prepared to lose you to a pregnancy nor to the needs of a child. When Fort is settled and strong, when our junior is prepared to lead so you can take the time to focus on our babe, then I will encourage it.” He leans himself forward to press his lips to the bruise and gently nip at it once before he draws back. “I will handle your Uncle,” he tells her as he rises, reaching a hand out to her. He waits until she is standing before he moves his hand to the small of her back. “Come,” he announces, “I will draw you a bath and you will soak in it. After, I will make sure to please you,” he smiles slightly down at her as he guides her towards the back, “and will remind you that you have chosen well as I know I have chosen well.” He kisses her neck briefly outside of the bathing area before he disappears inside to begin to pour her the warm bath. He adds bath salts and scents that he knows her to enjoy before he gently undresses her and urges her into the warm waters. He disappears so as not to be tempted by her nakedness and waits for her to leave the waters to pursue the other promise he made her.

Isolwyn makes a soft sound as C’aol’s teeth graze the mark he’s left behind, her eyes slowly lifting open to find a hand offered to her that she studies for an instant before asserting control over herself and accepting his assistance to get to her feet instead of using it to tug him down over and onto her. As he undresses her, there’s a further instant where she reaches and hooks her hand into the front of his shirt, holding on tightly and unable to express whatever it is that she means to say, and so is forced to relinquish her hold and do nothing more than touch her lips to the underside of his chin before stepping into the pool. That she doesn’t eventually return to their bedroom in a towel or clothed in any other manner may not be a deliberate thing, but perhaps only highlights how entirely trusting she is in clambering into his lap and over him to claim what has been promised her. She’s quiet in her response and insistent in her right to map out as much of him as she pleases, and quieter still later, when she curls up against him and is, for once, not concerned about seeming needy in encouraging him to wrap himself around her. No matter what she says of suitors and handling them, there is, as ever, the front and the woman beyond and beneath it.

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