Who: Isolwyn, J’kson, Eosyth, Malynth
Where: Beach, Southern Continent
What: The sharing of news.
It’s the end of a long afternoon when Eosyth reaches for Malynth, her touch feather-light and flickering until suddenly, all at once, she’s there, as if right beside him. << Come and find us, >> she encourages, sharing an image of a northern beach with high cliffs and a pale sun beginning to sink low in the sky. Isolwyn herself is not exactly attired for the beach, but for some formal event, the skirts of her dark dress heavy and her hair shot through with silver and gold threads and ribbons, twists pinned up, but mostly left to run loose down her back and now in the breeze over the ocean. “Dance with me,” she asks, reaching her hands towards J’kson once he’s near enough. “I’ve been stuck at my second-cousin’s wedding all day and I’d like to dance with someone I actually like before it’s over.”
Malynth is quick to radiate joy at Eosyth’s touch, her nearness giving him reason to burst into a vibrant song that has cords from a gitar and bright colors to display like fireworks. It takes him longer than he would like to climb up high enough to drop him and J’kson towards the ground before he can claim his birthright of traveling Between. He appears from Between close to the ground so it is more a graceful tumble in the sky before his feet find solid ground. J’kson is tidier than Isolwyn has likely ever seen him – bathed, beard trimmed neatly, clothes without a stain. He’s got a bright smile for his friend as he closes the distance between them and bursts out laughing at the desire to dance. “Is the event nearby? I could always sneak in with you and we can relentlessly tear your second-cousin’s wedding guests apart with our wit and cunning humor.” He easily steps into a simple dance, his arm moving gently along her hip as he guides her through a tuneless dance.
Eosyth leaves her rider’s side to meet Malynth, moving to gently bump her nose against his before she conducts a quick and affectionate inspection of him and lies down right next to him, just to be near. “It was at South Telgar,” Isolwyn sighs, falling into step and lifting a wry smile to J’kson. “I felt it necessary to get as far away from them as possible, though Eosyth did have a nice time. Some of the children sat down with her and read her stories.” She pauses for long enough to lift up onto her toes and press a kiss to his cheek, missing a step that she soon catches up with. “You look good,” she tells him, her smile easing to something more genuine. “I’m sorry Fort wasn’t for you, but I’m glad that you found somewhere that clearly agrees with you.”
Malynth lifts his chin and raises his wing to allow Esoyth’s inspection, smug in the additional muscle he’s gathered since leaving Fort Weyr. He noses his snout against her shoulder and settles beside her, as close as he may be allowed without a typical claim that another male might try and have on her. He delights in her company, showing her an exciting wheel of images and colors as he goes about showing her the fun they’ve been having at the Court. “Oh they did? I’m sure Eosyth enjoyed the attention. She’s far nicer than what I’ve heard of Amorenth.” He blinks at the kiss and grins down at her, “Thanks,” he tells her with a shrug. “I’ve been… sober for some time now.” He pauses in their dance, moving to clasp her hands in his. “Fort wasn’t for me but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to know how you are there. Are you well? Is C’aol treating you right?” His eyes get a little distant. “I’ve heard rumors…”
Isolwyn tightens her hold on his hands, saying, “I think that might be the best news I’ve heard all year,” as she rocks back a little onto her heels. “I knew you could do it. And now that you and Malynth can go Between, you can go anywhere. You can do anything you want.” The smile she has for J’kson is bright an unforced before it falters and she tries to go about supplying answers of her own. She huffs out a quiet, humourless laugh and looks down at her feet. “I’ve made such a mistake,” she says softly, though steadily enough to own it. “I thought he…” She shakes her head. “No, that’s not it. I allowed myself to think that he… cared for me. It was foolish. An error. He’s the right Weyrleader for Fort; that, I know. But the rest? I’ve made a fool of myself. Everyone must have seen it, except for me. I didn’t want to see it.” A shoulder twitches. “It doesn’t matter now. He hasn’t hurt me and I’m not under his thumb, so I can call the rest self-inflicted and live with it.”
J’kson smiles at Isolwyn and offers an embarrassed shrug. “Someone I love was hurting more than I was. Can’t drown myself in a bottle and be there for someone, can I?” He grows quiet as he takes in her huffed laughter and all that she has to say. His eyes tighten at the corners as his mouth tugs down into a frown. “Why do you think he doesn’t care for you?” he probes for more specifics, still holding on to her hands. “All I have ever heard is that the Weyrleader is tamed because of you,” he offers up information he may not have permission to share. “Honshu’s Weyrleader has said it to more than one person that his dealings with C’aol since his appointment at Fort isn’t all to do with the knot he wears proudly on his shoulders.” He sighs then tugs her towards him for a warm hug. “It sounds like he hurt you. You don’t deserve that. I wish it could be different for you.” He pulls back to look down at Isolwyn, “I can talk to him, if you want?”
Shaking her head, Isolwyn replies, “I think anyone talking to him would quite possibly be the worst move in the world,” and tightens her arms around J’kson, lingering for a moment with her head against his shoulder before stepping back. “He has no interest in letting me be anything other than what he will ‘tolerate’, when he will tolerate it. I can’t afford to be that woman, for the sake of my Weyr. I won’t let Fort have that kind of Werywoman. If it’s a choice between Fort and my feelings, then it’s no contest. And if he doesn’t like or want who I am, then he only needs the Weyrwoman. So… that’s all he’ll have.” The small smile returns, bitter edged. “It’s all right. It’s about time someone played me, isn’t it? You have to lose the game eventually. It was my error, believing him when he said he loved me. I’m only glad I realised all of this before it was too late.” She reaches for J’kson’s hands to hold again, squeezing them as she demands, “Come on, tell me who it is you’re in love with. You’ve been holding back and you owe me. Maybe I want to meet the person you’ve been sober for.”
“I don’t know, Isolwyn. Maybe you should talk to him about how he’s making you feel. I know you were…,” he shrugs, looking at her with a faint smile. “Who am I to tell you what to do? You likely know more about the politics of relationships with leading men than I do.” J’kson gives Isolwyn’s arm a gentle squeeze. He looks away from her briefly, towards Malynth, and then gazes back to her. “You know her,” he tells Isolwyn, “as Fort’s former Weyrleader. Arlet.” He smiles at her ruefully, rubbing at the back of her neck and trying to hide his sudden flicker of embarrassment for claiming someone so high up for love. “The people I look to now,” he hesitates, catching himself by adding the ‘now’, “are who helped get her out of Fort. When it happened.” He lets his smile drop and then shrugs. “She’s wonderful, only she doesn’t see it. People have hurt her. Time and time again. I guess, drunken me, was a safe harbor for her. Now it’s more,” he folds his arms in front of his chest and shrugs. “I’m thinking,” he adds lowly, looking to her with another uncertain smile, “of asking her to marry me. Or weyrmate me. Whichever title she wants. I doubt she’ll want to and I don’t blame her… only, I wonder if asking her might mean something even if she tells me no.”
Isolwyn gives a little twitch of her shoulders. “I appreciate the advice. Honestly. But I functioned perfectly well without any romantic feelings or anyone in my bed for over two decades. I’m not so far gone that any of it has become a necessity.” The soft sound that Eosyth makes plainly disputes this, but her rider only looks to her and declares, “You will still have your mate and you will be fine.” If she’s surprised that Arlet is still operational enough to be around, she hardly shows it, any shock registering only briefly. “Well, she never did anything to hurt me,” is a brief summation. “She seemed all right as a leader. And if you think she’s wonderful, then I do too. Maybe it’ll be your wedding that we can dance at next.” She lifts a hand and sets it down on J’kson’s shoulder. “If you want to marry her, then ask her. Don’t settle for something less. She’d be a fool to turn you down; if she heard how you talk about her, she’d never doubt that you love her.” It’s a sudden thing, when she moves to grab him to her in another hug. “I’m so glad you’re happy,” she murmurs against his shoulder.
J’kson offers Isolwyn a solid, strong hug and keeps his arms about her without moving to end the embrace. “You deserve happiness, Isolwyn. I don’t know what happened between you two… maybe it’s fixable, maybe it’s not. Rumors have never been kind to C’aol and it has been said-“ he cuts himself off and shakes his head as he presses a platonic kiss to the top of her head. “You can walk me down the aisle,” he teases, pulling back enough to smile down at her. “And stand beside me to represent my family. Because that is what you are. Family. And I expect a dance or two with you after as well.” His eyes brighten at the idea and he finally pulls back from the hug to rest his hands on her shoulders. “You’ve always been there for me, Isolwyn. Are you certain there isn’t anything more I can do for you? Now Malynth can Between— we can visit more often.”
“You don’t have to censor yourself,” Isolwyn says quietly. “You can say what you think. Ultimately… I’m a Weyrwoman and I’m Blood. What I deserve doesn’t really have room to factor in. Maybe I just like power too much to be as submissive as any man will ever want.” She’s unapologetic in that, tightening her arms around J’kson in a teasing little squeeze. “What you can do for me is to come and visit when she says yes and tell me all about it,” she insists, looking up at him. “And then I can start interfering and planning your wedding. I promise to do my best to not make Arlet hate me too much, given she’s apt to be my sister-in-law.” Stepping back, she makes to tug him after her. “Come on, let’s walk for a bit. I don’t think you’re going to get Malynth back from Eosyth for a good while yet.”
“Sister-in-law,” J’kson says those words like a caress, the smile he offers Isolwyn full of gratitude and joy as he once more kisses the top of her head. “I like the ring of that for Arlet. I can hear myself saying to her now – ‘Sister for //me//, and sister-in-law for //you//, Arlet’” He laughs, turning to tuck her hand into the crook of his arm. “I’d tempt you to walk me back to this cousin’s wedding for the entrance alone. We’ll save that. Oh, Isolwyn! When Arlet’s parents meet you,” he laughs again, shaking his head as dimples form in his cheeks with mirth. “It’ll be a refreshing thing for you. I’m sure you’ll be able to hold your own with her mother. You’re far more practiced at those things than me.” He takes her down the beach, mindful of their pace with her in her finery, and keeps the conversation to light-hearted things. He won’t have forgotten her words about C’aol – no matter how she doesn’t want him to interfere. He still does the next day. A note is delivered to C’aol’s office with the simple script of J’kson’s hand-writing. Fix what you broke with Isolwyn, Weyrleader or you will be replaced. I don’t make empty threats. – J