He Lost

Who: Isolwyn and C’aol
Where: Weyrwoman’s Weyr, Fort Weyr
What: C’aol has dealt with Fort’s Lord. Isolwyn says something unwittingly.

C’aol’s sanctions against Fort Hold have not brought Isolwyn’s Uncle to heel. Instead, the Lord has grown more outspoken in his attempt to assert power //over// the Weyr. The Lord has gone so far as to speak out against the ‘mishandling’ of his Hold by Fort Weyr. The Council listened to the Lord’s complaints and did nothing but deny his petition to have his Hold removed from Fort’s territory. C’aol has allowed much of the politics to take place without comment to Isolwyn, choosing not to involve her in his pursuit of tearing her uncle down for all his misdeeds. With the Council adjourned in their favor, it would stand to reason that C’aol has no more issues with Lord Fort. It comes as a shock when Lord Fort falls down some weeks later, supposedly to a seizure. As the Lord has yet to regain consciousness, the healers’ predict he will pass. C’aol takes the news in his office and allows the runner to take the letter to Isolwyn for her to digest the news.

Isolwyn has done her very best impression of someone with no interest and no inclination to know the inner workings of what has been happening as regards her uncle and extended family at Fort Hold, choosing to ask no questions and seek no answers, instead occupying herself with matters at home and trying to help shape her junior goldriders (including the youngest) into a unit strong enough to hold even when they might go their separate ways. It’s an artful calm and disinterest, some of the changes in her now obvious enough that there are murmurings that she avoids the stress of it for the sake of her child – rumours she hasn’t bothered to try and shut down. She’s in the council room when the letter reaches her, the runner dismissed before she casts her gaze over it, its contents read once, twice, before she sets it aside and simply continues calculating financial needs for next season.

C’aol does not immediately go to seek Isolwyn out for her opinion on the matter, leaving her space to continue with her day as she will. He has other duties to see to, outside of how Fort Hold will be handled in the near future, with the Lord likely to pass. If he handles most of his business in the coming hours with a steady sense of satisfaction, none choose to comment on it. Daeserath’s mood seems unusually light, leaving space for more playful freedoms of the dragons of Fort. C’aol takes the time to note the aerobatic displays of blues and greens in the skies above before he heads towards the council chambers in search of Isolwyn.

Eosyth seems to mirror her rider in her deliberate detachment, for all that she is able to create far more distance from reality with hers, her mind somewhere far away while she seems otherwise to sleep peacefully in her wallow. As time ticks by, little changes within the council room, only more tea arrives and food is brought when the Weyrwoman forgets to consider it, one pile of paperwork growing taller while the other keeps shrinking. When she hears the creak of the council room door, Isolwyn looks up, her gaze settling squarely on C’aol with no particular emotion evidently in command of her. She takes a steady breath in and lets it out, closes her eyes for a fraction of a moment, then finally levels a question at him. “Did you?”

C’aol makes his way into the council chamber and ensures the door is locked behind him to prevent entry of unexpected visitors as he walks towards Isolwyn. He waits until he’s standing next to her to answer. “I did,” he offers without any other information as to the ‘how’ of anything. He reaches to glance over one of the documents on the top of her larger stack before he sets it back down. He moves to claim the seat beside hers, angling himself so he can look at her easily. “Politically, we clearly have the advantage with Fort Hold. However, I could not tolerate the man to continue to play his hand at every step to try and ruin all you have accomplished. In his attempt to do so, he chose to pit himself against this Weyr. He lost. He lost more than politically. I am satisfied.” He considers her, adding, “He has not died.”

Isolwyn listens with her pen still clasped in her hand, both looking at C’aol and a little bit through him once she’s received her confirmation of what she’s suspected – or merely expected. Eventually, she sets her pen down, having to use her other hand to convince her fingers to relinquish their hold, her focus sharpening as she lifts her gaze back to him. “Yet.” There’s nothing to colour her tone to make it anything other than statement of fact. Another few seconds pass, then she shifts in her chair, turning to face him. “Good,” bears an underlying savage satisfaction of her own, undeniably not for the matter of her uncle still being alive. “He sent strangers to demand I submit to their intentions for me. He insulted our child. He sought to undermine the pair of us as leaders, and he decided that my choice of you and to keep our child were revolting.” She lifts her chin just a touch. “It can be about the Weyr, if you like. But what he tried to have me do; what he said of us and our baby is enough for me. I hope he suffers.”

“I did not seek to kill the man over politics,” C’aol clarifies with a low intensity, his blue eyes sharpening and his demeanor drawing in to that cold state of anger he is well known for. “I would have knifed him myself were I able to do so, for all that he did to you. From the moment you were sent here, to your Impression of Eosyth, to your rise as Weyrwoman. He has consistently sought to undermine you and cause you pain. He was only going to begin with his attempt to hurt this child in the way he hurt you by the letter he sent. It would have escalated from there once the child was born. Now, he will suffer a painful death. I have made sure of it. You should visit him,” he adds, satisfaction once more replacing the anger. “As I was told he can still hear the words spoken to him, though he may not respond to them.” He reaches for Isolwyn’s hand, his grasp a little too hard as he holds tight to her fingers. “No rumors will be tied to us for his death. I ensured no one could look to blame this Weyr. Your time as a Blooded woman is over. You are Fort’s Senior Weyrwoman. And you are //mine//.”

If C’aol’s grip causes her any pain, there’s no hint of it from Isolwyn, who perhaps doesn’t quite feel it or would rather feel it than anything else. She watches him for a few moments, then lifts herself out of her chair and gets to her feet, reaching with her free hand to twist her fingers into his hair and tug his head back so that she can press a fierce kiss to his lips. Drawing back only slightly, she brushes her lips more gently against his cheek, then touches her forehead to his. “I am yours,” she murmurs in quiet, heated agreement. “And I love you for ensuring I am also //mine//. Maybe I’m awful for being glad of his suffering and for loving you all the harder for it, but I don’t care. You and Eosyth and Daeserath and our child are my family. You’re the best parts of what was a miserable life.”

C’aol is not at all prepared for Isolwyn’s fingers to his hair and he’s mid-snarl before her lips find his and he finds himself forgetting his annoyance at her handling. Her softer kiss to his cheek earns her a twitch of a smile that he hides when their foreheads meet. He takes a large inhale, savoring the nearness of her in the moment. He reaches his hands out to take his turn at handling //her//, with fingers finding hips and his strength tugging her down into his lap. He wraps his arms about her once she’s seated and tugs her close against him. He keeps his nose tucked against her as he takes a moment to settle himself before he speaks. His voice is tight as he speaks, emotion he does not want to surface, still finding a way to find escape in words. “I have killed others for less offenses. I can only say I am sorry I waited this long to end him. I wanted to be different… since I was in power to do so. I was different,” he huffs a laugh, his breath warm against her cheek, “and won. Still, knowing he will suffer for all he has done, and that he lost all he wanted, leaves me far more satisfied.”

There’s no resistance in Isolwyn when hands find her hips and draw her down into C’aol’s lap, more than content to be claimed and held close while her palms settle warmly against him. She waits him out, only gently nudging her nose along his jaw in a moment’s reassurance as he speaks, following it with the ghost of a kiss before she finds her voice again. “To my mind, you dispatched him politically and then with finality,” she says softly. “He was given chances. Opportunities to be better that what he was; to show the respect he believed only he was due. He was never going to change. And though there might be pleasure in outmanoeuvring him in political circles… I’m no better than you or any other who will be pleased that his final hours will //hurt//.” She tilts her head a little, asking, “What of the land you signed over to him? Does his heir inherit it in the years before ours?”

C’aol eases back in his chair, angling his face to better look at her as he speaks. He keeps his hands loosely held around her hips. “The way the title was signed away states that as soon as a child of yours was born, they would own the land. Fort would keep stewardship of it until the child was ready to take it. I am not adverse to that arrangement. Would you prefer we re-tool the title for the next Lord?” He shifts his legs beneath her, settling himself to a straighter seat in the chair. “Unless you want to remove all ties from you and the Hold. Then, the land can be turned to you as steward. It should be easy enough to have the new Lord be persuaded to… not argue our relationship.” He considers her, eyes sharp and attention gauging her for a reaction. “It would depend on what future you want for this child. The land was only ever meant to free you of your Uncle. Now that he is gone…,” he trails off, removes one of his hands to allow fingers to rub at his jaw in thought. “It can serve other purposes.”

“My cousin has no heir of his own and I imagine amending that will become his main priority,” Isolwyn murmurs, shifting both her hands to lie over C’aol’s heart. “His wife isn’t a cruel or unkind woman, and he’s not been known to favour his father, so the two of them… I highly doubt that Fort will be the same Hold under their rule. If she can’t have children… I suppose he’ll have to look to father one elsewhere. If it’s not him who is the problem.” She closes her eyes, exhaling a breath that eases the lingering tension in her shoulders. “Our child’s future isn’t solely mine to decide. All I know for certain is that I don’t want them raised as a holder would be. If they never want to Stand or Impress, then land with a home of their own built for them may be the best thing we could ever give them. This child, or another. Our Bloodlines and a hold of their own would surely be enough for them to petition a Conclave seat.”

“I find it rather archaic that they assume it’s the woman when neither of them have sought to have other partners,” C’aol drawls, lifting a brow and a sharpness entering his gaze that hints at humor. “Of course it will be your cousin who will find another partner to beget children with. And his wife will be expected to remain pious and to blame for it.” He shakes his head and reaches to pat her hands over his heart. “I would also say that my brother is equally in a position without an heir. It’s very possible our children could rise to inherit Fort and Zaivar.” He doesn’t catch his slip into the plural when he speaks of children, his thoughts taking too much of his immediate focus. “We’ve discussed that before. I do not mind them being a Holder, so long as they are the ones who lead. You will be in charge of their upbringing regardless. They will not face what you faced.” He moves to brush his fingers gently against her cheek. Darkness enters his gaze as he adds lowly, “Or what I faced.”

“While women aren’t equal, the world makes easy targets of us. It’s one of, if not the main reason that I’m doing my best to ensure that no-one can fault me or brand me weak for anything that affects me while I’m pregnant. I don’t want people speaking of me as if I’m compromised.” Isolwyn presses her forehead to C’aol’s temple as she utters, “Which I am,” with a fair measure of her true exhaustion beneath her dry humour. She lifts her head, her hands lifting to settle palms across his collarbone as she seeks to catch his gaze and hold it. “Our children will be safe and loved and respected. I will never have to worry about protecting them from you. Even if there are time when you want me to yourself, I know I won’t have to fear for them. Not because of you.” She presses her lips to his cheek again. “My mate.”

C’aol’s entire body stiffens at the mention of Isolwyn not having to worry about protecting their future children from him. He moves his arms from near her to rest on the armrests of the chair, fingers gripping into wood as he controls a sudden rise of anger that displaces any fear brought on from memories of his own childhood. He closes his eyes as she kisses his cheek and allows his fingers to loosen their grip on the wood. He sighs and moves to shift her from his lap, standing up after she does. He draws her to him then to hug her against his chest. He doesn’t want to look at her when he tells her, “Do not let me become the man who raised me.” He kisses the top of her head then and steps away, still unable to catch her eyes as he continues, “You’re tired. LEave the paperwork. I will have it cleaned up. Let me escort you to your room.” He offers her the crook of his arm.

Silently, Isolwyn settles her hand in the crook of C’aol’s arm and lets him lead her away from the paperwork and through to her weyr and her bed, where she stops at its edge and looks up at him, even if he still can’t meet her gaze. “You won’t,” she murmurs. “You won’t let you. I will only say I won’t to give you peace of mind. I have faith.” She’s careless in casting the covers aside, not bothering to do anything more than step out of her shoes before clambering into bed and letting her head drop down on a pillow. The ebb of the adrenaline and bitter-edged anger that has kept her going for much of the afternoon doesn’t help in her efforts to stay awake when combined with what rest she’s been denying her body, and it takes only moments for her to begin to drift off. Somewhere between asleep and awake, she sighs, a faint smile touching her lips just as she utters a soft, “Marry me,” only to roll over and drop into a deeper sleep, curling up into a ball.

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