The Kindest Thing

Who: Isolwyn, C’aol, Eosyth, Daeserath
Where: Weyrwoman’s Weyr, Fort Weyr
What: In which C’aol does something that surprises Isolwyn.

In the time that’s passed since that first night that Daeserath slept away from Eosyth, Isolwyn has adopted a cool distance with her Weyrleader, keeping him at arm’s length without commenting on doing so, nor suggesting that there is any particular reason that she is, keeping matters neatly to business and nothing more and politely excusing herself before any conversation might lapse into silence or another subject. She’s not been cold, yet she’s not been inviting either, though any line that has been drawn has not reached so far as to keep Eosyth from Daeserath if she so chooses, nor the bronze from visiting her queen if he wishes. However, one evening, there’s a different bronze on Eosyth’s ledge and keeping her company, and not one of Fort’s own, the rider that emerges from Isolwyn’s weyr knotted in Southern’s colours and bearing the loops of a Wingleader. He pauses outside, waiting for her, and she presses a kiss to his cheek in farewell before bronze and rider depart, leaving Isolwyn looking wearily after before she turns to head back inside.

Daeserath has only spent a handful of nights away from Eosyth’s side and most of them have been due to his rider’s absence from the Weyr. He returns from another venture that has taken them out of Fortian skies to find a bronze cozying up to Eosyth far beyond his liking. His anger is a blast sent Weyr-wide, whether or not it leads to the dismissal of that foreign bronze is not of his concern. He settles himself on the fire heights and radiates his displeasure and anger, snapping at any who dare to try and fly in or out of the Weyr. C’aol’s changed from their venture and is in the process of walking towards Isolwyn’s weyr to discuss Daeserath’s outburst when he makes note of the kiss delivered to a foreigner’s cheek. Coldness settles over him. He fingers a note in the front pocket of his pants as a reminder to find calm before he strides further towards Isolwyn’s weyr. He doesn’t knock nor asks to enter before he strides in and pauses at the threshold. “Isolwyn?” at least he allows a question to her name rather than the snarl he’d rather share, “Might I have a word?”

Halfway through her living area, Isolwyn pauses, then turns to regard C’aol through a gaze only half as guarded as it should be as she states, “He’s one of my cousins,” in anticipation of protest or a demand for an explanation. “He was sent to enquire as to whether we might be interested in taking on their eldest weyrlings for a few weeks for political polish.” She smoothes needlessly at her skirts. “He has no designs on your knot, nor his bronze on Eosyth, and no decisions have been made without respect of your opinion.” Her sigh is not quite audible, but might be noticeable in the brief lift of her shoulders. “If that’s all for the evening, Weyrleader? Daeserath has no need to be so concerned. Eosyth has never even looked twice at another bronze.”

“I am sure you notice that Daeserath behaves this way anytime he notices a foreign male at Fort. Ever since the attack on you, he’s been convinced we should not allow any foreigners within our skies. Your cousin may be harmless and have business with you, his dragon is the unwelcome one,” C’aol answers without smiling. He takes the portfolio he’d tucked underneath his arm and handed it towards her. “I’m not going to come in here and yell at you for having a man in your weyr. It would bother me if it was a lover but I am not your keeper, am I?” He waits until she takes the portfolio. “I’ve given my inheritance to your Uncle, with the agreement he will no longer seek to use your blood as political leverage in the act of marriage or through any future children you might have. When you do have children, they will have claims to the land.” He waits. “I had hoped it would be our children who would claim it,” he offers, glancing at her and then away. “If we were to have them.”

Isolwyn’s fingers are just closing on the portfolio when C’aol explains what it is, the shock of it something that almost lets it slip from her grasp and to the floor, leaving her to lunge to secure her grip on it and scrabble it close. “You did—“ starts to escape her lips, her eyes wide and staring, until she manages to exert some control over her reaction and flips the portfolio open just to blink down at it without really reading it. “Why would you do that?” she questions, still pale with the shock of what she’s learned, her fingers curling at the edges of the pages she grips so tightly as she flips them closed again and hugs them close before she realises what she’s doing. “I mean it when I say you’re the right leader for Fort. I’m not looking to find another bronzerider to replace you. It’s never been my intention to deny you your rank.”

“I did it because you don’t deserve to have your Uncle treat you like you’re his property and to guarantee that any future children you have won’t be treated the same way,” C’aol answers her, watching her reaction with schooled features. “It gives him control over something he wants – land and power, without tying in the human cost. He was quite pleased with it.” He pauses, letting her other words filter in and still his own. “I was born to lead – either a Hold or a Weyr. I am a good fit here at Fort,” he agrees with her, “and you are the right Weyrwoman. I didn’t give this to you to guarantee I remain Weyrleader,” he tells her, catching on to a thought. “I gave it to you as a man would when they are in love with a woman. It is… an apology for my behavior.” He grows quiet, waiting for her response to that.

A breath taken, it seems as if Isolwyn might speak, only her lips part and no sound comes out for second after second, until she blurts out, “But it’s your inheritance!” no longer able to keep such an exclamation quiet. “Your family, your Blood… For my freedom?” She swallows hard and clutches the portfolio even tighter. “As an apology. For… For our children’s freedom.” Dipping her head, she stares down at the floor for a moment, then closes her eyes and gives a little shake of her head. “…What if I can’t do it, C’aol? What if I spend the rest of my life making you angry because I can’t be what you want, when you want it? That’s no… life… for you. It was wrong of me to tell you that I was better than another who might be more… malleable. Maybe that’s what you need. You don’t deserve to be frustrated and irritated all the time, no matter how I love you.”

C’aol’s reaction to her outburst is to smile – a true, broad, smile of someone who has accomplished a goal. “It was my inheritance,” he reminds Isolwyn, “and now it will be your children’s.” His eyes light with the mention of ‘our’ children and he steps closer to her, moving to grab her arms and draw her towards him without requesting permission for the contact. “You cannot change my nature,” he tells her, looking down at her with that smile still holding to his features. “No matter how you may want to. I cannot change yours. I will be frustrated and irritated with anyone. I don’t //want// anyone else, Isolwyn.” He watches her closely. “Is that enough? Does it prove it to you? I would give you Zaivar Hold itself were it in my power if it was what you needed. You needed to be free of your Uncle and your children free of him as well.”

The portfolio becomes unpinned from its spot between Isolwyn’s arms and her heart, left to flutter and thunk to the ground and settle there in her wake. “I don’t want to change you,” she says quietly, lifting her dark gaze to his. “I only… don’t want you to want to change me.” She gently places her palms down on C’aol’s chest, just as she did the last time they were so close. “No matter what anyone thinks of your nature or mine, what you’ve done is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me. No-one has ever thought ahead to what I might want. Or not want.” Tipping her head forward, she rests her forehead over his heart and closes her eyes again. “So we’d better get on and have some children, because I’m not letting that man keep that land any longer than necessary,” sounds much like a joke, dry as it is and accompanied with a huff of laughter designed to ward off the threat of tears.

“I thought it would give you time to have them or not have them as you wish it. My brother deserves the pain in the ass that Fort will be with a claim to that portion of our Hold. It’s not the largest cothold on his territory but it’s close enough that he’ll feel it was they to find they disagree with each other,” C’aol says this with a hint of pleasure. “I rather like that idea. More than you with a child.” He moves his hand down to tip Isolwyn’s face up, catching sight of any tears that may linger in her gaze. “Don’t tell anyone I did the nicest thing you’ve ever had done or other such nonsense. I don’t want my reputation ruined,” he manages to tease, a lightness still to his face and gaze. He leans down and kisses her then, slow and soft and then harder and more demanding as he moves his arm around her and pulls her close. He’ll fall to kissing her for as long as she’ll allow.

“Maybe if they kill each other we can claim both Zaivar and Fort,” really should not sound as seductive as Isolwyn makes its, unrepentant in both her desire for the potential power and entertaining the thought in the first place, the words uttered as she finally draws back only enough to speak, her hands sliding down to C’aol’s backside just so that she can press herself deliberately closer before baring her shoulder where the faint hints of where teeth have bruised skin still remain. “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure they know you only ever cause me pain. When I ask nicely.” When she turns from him, she plants the end of the lacing of her dress in his hand, letting it unravel as she walks away towards her bedroom, trusting that he will follow her and see that she doesn’t have to ask terribly nicely for anything for the rest of the night.

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