Separation

Who: Zinovia and Akemi
Where: Silverfield Hold, Honshu Territory
What: Akemi and Zinovia make their choices.


Since learning of what Akemi tried to have done to Zaimika’s father – and the part Akio played in it – she’s notably kept out of her own quarters, choosing instead to sleep in one of the guest bedrooms in one of the wings furthest away from the heart of the Hold, where she might quite deliberately avoid any company that isn’t that of her children. It doesn’t go unnoticed, for the staff that attend her still gossip like any others, if not outright unkindly, and word of the Lady’s marriage ending and murmurings that she should never have thought to take Akio to bed are heard in the kitchens and through the backstairs of Silverfield. Yukijiath takes great joy in unnecessarily picking off beasts from the herds when she thinks Zinovia isn’t paying attention, pawing through bones and blood as she might before rising, sending half a dozen false alarms running through the Hold. It’s after one such incident that Zinovia retreats to the room she’s adopted and slams the door, never mind who might be watching.

Akemi has made no effort to bridge the distance that Zinovia has been claiming since Akio revealed their actions all those years ago. She has never been able to easily handle confrontation, especially when that confrontation centers around reactions to her own decisions and actions. Rather than allow himself to be in the middle of the battle that is surely coming, Akio has taken himself to the Smithcraft Hall. Rumors are rumors and Akemi has had the discomfort of walking into more than a few rooms where she’s heard the whispers of doubt that are circulating about her place at Silverfield. She’s down the hall when Zinovia enters the room she’s claimed — and hears the slam of the door. It’s the slam that decides it for Akemi as she moves to the door and wrenches it open without knocking or announcing herself. She strides in, her face cold and eyes sharp as she says to Zinovia, “Enough of this. Your people,” she has never felt comfortable claiming any of Silverfield as her own, “are concerned for you. Akio has left and he has told me that you know. Will you punish us for a decision made years in the past?”

Having been about to fling herself down onto the bed, Zinovia whirls to face Akemi, full of a fury that she takes no time to bother concealing. “That’s just the problem!” she exclaims. “The two of you think it’s in the past. You thought you could do such a thing and that would be that and there would be no repercussions. It may be in the past for you, but with Fort’s Weyrwoman questioning me about whether I bear her Weyrleader ill-will, she plainly knows something that I didn’t – and that //I// am now the suspect for!” She stalks the full length of the room, quite as if afraid of what she’ll do if she stands closer. “You //knew// I had to have children to secure Silverfield. And you might have known I hated the idea too, but it was mine to go through with! It wasn’t your decision to make. Time after time, I told you that you didn’t have to bear any of this if it would make you unhappy and you insisted you wanted to stay. To be with me. And all this time, you were so unhappy that you had someone beaten half to death and merely tolerate his daughter’s presence in your life, for all I know.” Throwing her arms wide, she tells her, “And //now//, if they choose to make their accusations, all of it will have been for nothing!”

Akemi keeps her face perfectly still and devoid of any flicker of emotion as she listens to Zinovia’s outrage. She keeps her hands clasped behind her back, shoulders stiff, and legs straight – much like a guard, or soldier, would do. “Are you done with your tantrum?” Akemi asks, her voice-controlled, and her eyes blank. “//Our// daughter is one of my greatest joys. That I needed to warn the man who made her not to hurt you does not equal my supposed ‘tolerance’ or not of our daughter.” She remains stiff where she stands as she watches Zinovia. “I will go to Fort and disclose I was the one who bid the attack on C’aol. You needn’t worry about Fort’s blaming you.” She waits a moment and then turns to leave, hand moving to reach for the door.

Akemi keeps her face perfectly still and devoid of any flicker of emotion as she listens to Zinovia’s outrage. She keeps her hands clasped behind her back, shoulders stiff, and legs straight – much like a guard, or soldier, would do. “Are you done with your tantrum?” Akemi asks, her voice-controlled, and her eyes blank. “//Our// daughter is one of my greatest joys. That I needed to warn the man who made her not to hurt you does not equal my supposed ‘tolerance’ or not of our daughter.” She remains stiff where she stands as she watches Zinovia. “I will go to Fort and disclose I was the one who bid the attack on C’aol. You needn’t worry about Fort’s blaming you.” She waits a moment and then turns to leave, hand moving to reach for the door.

“Don’t you dare talk down to me when //you// are the one who resorted to deplorable actions because you didn’t know how to handle yourself,” Zinovia responds, her fury cooled to a bitter chill. “You still demonstrate no understanding of the gravity of the situation you’ve placed us in. As if it would be so simple as confessing; as if I am concerned solely about //blame//. They could play their card tomorrow or never, if he knows at all. She could bide her time and tell him and light the fuse whenever she chooses or just for sport.” She takes steps back and sits down on the edge of the bed. “All this because of your jealousy. As if it were some kind of affair I was having. You could have talked to me or told me you wanted me to find someone else, but since you so rarely deign to share your feelings, in this or in anything, I can only assume you found sundering your better sense more appropriate.”

“My //jealousy//?” Akemi’s voice holds a note of derision. “If I were the jealous sort, would I not have more jealousy over your infatuation with my twin?” she demands, turning to face Zinovia with her face showing her flash of anger before she once more holds firm to no expression at all. “That man was hurting you, Zinovia. Whether or not you submitted to it, I don’t care, what he was doing to //your body// was wrong. You’d come back beaten and broken. I was supposed to sit quietly by your side and let you be abused? Or, as you love to remind me, I should have walked away and ‘freed’ myself of you.” She draws quiet as Zinovia reminds her of her failings and her eyes grow distant. “I am who I am Zinovia. If you feel that I am not good enough for you, say so. Perhaps I should have seen that for what it was. You liked me better when I was playing at a boy and now that you have your children and my brother, you don’t need your unfeeling woman any longer.” She shakes her head and adds, “If Fort were to have recourse for the actions that were taken all those years ago it would do them no good. You already know that. And yet, you think this man you defend, would come here and what? Harm his daughter? Harm you? I would not put it past his cruelty but it would reduce his claim of leadership to do so.”

“No,” Zinovia responds so very carefully and clearly, her lips quirking in a small, humourless smile. “//You// liked you better when you were playing at being a boy. I’ve never cared whether you were male or female and never expected you to spend your life as a woman if it’s not what you wanted. The fact that I married //you// and find pleasure with //you// has got nothing to do with what you do or don’t have downstairs.” She shrugs and casts her arms wide again. “If you’ve wanted to be my husband all this time and not my wife, I don’t know why you haven’t! It makes no difference to me!” Planting her hands at her sides, she leans there and hangs her head. “…I would defend anyone that you had done this to. It’s not specific to him. But because it is him and because there is something of that same streak in his Weyrwoman, my harbouring an attempted murderer or being one is all they need to petition the Conclave to take this Hold.”

“Ah,” Akemi’s voice hitches as her focus latches on to the last of Zinovia’s statements. “As it always is, it is about the Hold. You’re right. You can’t be seen to harbor an attempted murderer,” her voice sounds almost mocking, “lest the Conclave use it as leverage against you.” She shrugs one shoulder and allows one word on the rest of the statements that were shared with her. “I was a boy out of necessity. I suppose I’ll become a fugitive on the run as one. I don’t know what you will do with your life, Zinovia, but you have made it very clear to me what your priorities are.” She shakes her head again. “You may do what you need to do about our marriage. I’m sure you’ll have some reason to legal dissolve it, lest that Conclave use it against you.” She reaches for and opens that door. Her eyes remain fixed on the hallway before her. “When you are ready to recognize yourself as more than a Lady Holder, let me know.” A thought takes her and she turns, fully allowing her anger to show on her face as she adds, “I hope you will not burden the children to have this level of self-sacrifice when they take the knot from you.”

“Running is what the two of you do best, isn’t it?” Zinovia retorts, her head tilting as she studies Akemi. “You don’t stay and fight. He’s already fled. But that’s fine. This is your decision. I’ll tell you what I told him: what’s this much of me when I’ve already given the rest?” She gets to her feet and brushes her hands over her skirts to smooth them down and into their proper place. “I warned your brother before Zio was born that if he ever walked out on him he shouldn’t expect to be welcomed back. It’s not your right to worry for children you intend to leave behind. If she’s lucky, perhaps Zaimika won’t remember.” Looking her up and down, she clasps her hands before her. “Do as you will. I will not beg for a marriage you think so little of.”

“Why must I always be the one who stays to fight, Zinovia? Why don’t you learn how to chase? Your Holder arrogance, as ever, is showing,” Akemi tells her stiffly. “Akio is at the Hall taking care of duties for Silverfield. I would think, of all people, that you would respect someone putting the Hold first.” She glances back to Zinovia then, still posed in the doorway. “You cannot have everything the way you wish it to be, Zinovia. You cannot force me to mold into what you want. You tell me that I am a danger to this Hold, to Zaimika, to //you// for attempted murder. That the Conclave will come calling regarding it. I tell you I shall leave then, if that is what is needed, and here you are, twisting it on me. Like I am a coward who is choosing to flee.” She offers Zinovia a bitter smile. “You always find a way to win the war of words.” She walks out then without bothering to shut the door behind her.

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