Who: Isolwyn, J’kson, Eosyth, Malynth
Where: Lake, Fort Territory
What: Isolwyn shares her news with J’kson.
Though it might be leaning towards being safe for Isolwyn to go Between, it’s a risk she doesn’t appear willing to take just yet, for when Eosyth reaches out to Malynth, it’s not with an image of the South or even anything very far from the Weyr, but a lake somewhere in the otherwise barren mountain range just north of Fort. It’s a spot with a view and perfectly quiet, but for the elements, with plenty of ways for him to climb to go Between again, and she’s settled herself at the water’s edge, watching sheets of ice drift across its surface while Isolwyn unpacks from a basket what must be lunch. << Come and play? >>
Malynth leaps at the prospect of seeing Eosyth and will not leave J’kson alone until they’ve departed for the location shared. Whether or not he acknowledges it, it would seem that Malynth may have timed his trip as he appears from Between within moments from Eosyth’s request. It’s a dive towards the ground and a spiral-spin before he bounces on the ground in his skitter-landing. J’kson’s annoyance over Malynth’s excitement is short lived as he hops off of the blue and frees him from straps so he can launch himself towards Eosyth. He twines himself around her like a cat, his body brushing against hers as his muzzle dips along her cheek. << What shall we play? >> his delight is laced with pop-fizzles of sparks, << The lake may be too cold for a swim. >> J’kson dusts himself off after Malynth’s enthusiasm sent a splattering of dust into his face. He walks towards Isolwyn with a grin and moves to hug her in greeting. “Eosyth needs to call Malynth more often so he doesn’t overreact so greatly when he gets a chance to see her.”
<< Well… >> Eosyth considers – or pretends to – drawing out the thought in wisps of mist and silver. << …You could chase me around the lake. >> Could, might, should; she nudges her nose against a blue shoulder as she picks herself up and abruptly bolts away, teasingly trailing her tail along Malynth’s side as she dances out of reach and off along the shore. Isolwyn briefly watches her queen with raised brows, then folds her arms around J’kson to hug him to her. “I do have a good reason why we couldn’t come and see you,” she promises, releasing him to continue setting out food across the blanket she’s laid upon the rocky earth. “I brought lunch,” she needlessly points out. “And a baby,” is in the same conversational tone. “The two aren’t necessarily connected.”
Malynth’s trumpet of surprise leaves him rearing back in the wake of her nudge and fleeing. He’s quick to regain himself and launches after her, intent on capturing her tail as they dash around the lake. J’kson watches Malynth with an amused expression. “He’s missed her. Akanyth does not have any fondness for play.” He looks back to Isolwyn and moves to help her settle the blanket. “Thank you for the lunch,” he pauses as he catches ‘baby’ and looks inside the basket to see if she’s speaking of some sort of trick. “Where’s the baby?” he asks as his brows pucker with thought.
For a few moments, Fort’s Weyrwoman rummages through the basket as if she’s going to locate that which J’kson asks after, but all she draws into sight is a set of cutlery that she places down on one of the plates. “The Healers have suggested to me that I should probably carry it for another six months or so, but I promise that you can come and visit them when they arrive,” Isolwyn drawls, one corner of her mouth curving into a small smirk.
J’kson takes a moment to let the statement sink in before he breaks out into a wide grin and reaches forward to roughly hug Isolwyn to him. He drops his arms quickly after he’s crushed her against him. “Gotta be more careful with you now!” he all-but-crows, unable to stop his wide smile from its place on his features. “A baby! What a wonder.” His eyes crinkle and a smatter of wrinkles line his face as he beams at her. “Are you happy?” he asks, moving to shoo her away from setting out their lunch so he can take it over. “Is…,” he pauses as he settles a knife down and looks at her briefly before focusing back on his task to ask the rest of his question, “he being good to you?”
Isolwyn presses a kiss to J’kson’s cheek as he hugs her, insisting, “I’m not made of glass. For whatever reason, the universe has decided to spare me the worst of it so far and I’m rather certain the Weyr hasn’t caught on yet.” She mutters brief protest under her breath, but lets him take over, settling on one corner of the blanket. “C’aol is… possessive and knows he isn’t going to be a doting father. I know that too. But I know he loves me and will care for the child in his own way. At the moment, he’s more… protective than anything, I suppose.” Sighing, she murmurs, “My uncle insists the baby is a bastard and a foolish step on my part. A mistake.”
J’kson does not seem as prepared to have such faith in C’aol by the look on his face when she mentions ‘possessive’, however he keeps any of his views on Fort’s Weyrleader to himself. He settles himself on the blanket with his long legs kicked out in front of him. He rests his hands behind him and eases against them as he watches Malynth triumphantly pounce on Eosyth’s tail. “Your uncle is going to wind up dead,” he says as if he were telling her the man was going to lunch that day. “Either by C’aol,” he looks now at Isolwyn, his blue eyes sharpened with his anger, “or by the Court. No child is a mistake,” he shakes his head, “no matter their ‘lineage’.” He snorts then and pushes himself to sit a little straighter. “The sooner the world comes to realize that, the better we’ll be.” He looks towards his feet as he asks, “Is this child something you want?”
“I’d not be sad if he were to end up dead, only regretful for the cousin who would have to replace him,” Isolwyn answers, matter of fact. “I don’t care for the man. I appreciate that there was no command to marry me off young, but it was only because I was useful. He only took an interest in me again when I stood to have power.” She looks down into her lap, her shoulders hunching. “What he said was said to hurt me because I refused those he wanted me to marry. He would have found something else hurtful to say even if C’aol and I were married and he couldn’t pretend the baby is illegitimate. He did it for his own twisted pleasure.” As to whether the child is something she wants, she lets silence consume her for a moment before she inclines her head. “…I thought I would have motherhood forced on me by a man in my bed that I hated or a puppet husband. Then I thought I’d never be a mother. And now my children will be //mine//.”
J’kson remains still as he listens to Isolwyn’s words, his eyes staying focused on his feet. He lifts his gaze to look at her and reaches forward to hold one of her hands in his calloused grasp. “You will be a wonderful mother. And we both know that you will protect your children from being forced in the places you were. It is enough to know that.” He releases her hand then and busies himself with drawing out the food she’s brought to pile first on her plate and then his own. “Would you want to marry him?” he asks after he’s taken a few bites of his food. “It adds something,” he decides to share, “to have that between you and another person.” He glances down to his wedding ring. “I didn’t think it would all those years ago. Now I know.” He smiles at her, adding, “Arlet seems to have found peace at our Hall. I’m glad I took her away from all the places that hurt her. Even her own family… was unwittingly cruel. That’s what husbands should do.”
Isolwyn gently runs her thumb over the back of J’kson’s hand, a small smile rising only to swiftly fade. “He doesn’t want to marry me,” she answers with absolute certainty. “So entertaining the idea is something I don’t do. He said he would, once, to get the Blooded suitors off my back, but that’s… not a reason for a marriage. Nor is giving a baby supposed legitimacy. If I don’t have to marry for one purpose or another now, I’d want to do it because it’s what we wanted and nothing else.” She shrugs. “I don’t think he sees the point. He’s been a rider a lot longer than I have. And I think… if he thought that I let myself fall pregnant so he’d marry me… I think that would upset me more than my uncle calling our child a bastard.” A deep breath drags her up and away from that thought, another smile quirking her lips as she asks, “Do you want children of your own?”
“You know him better than anyone, Isolwyn. How and why he makes his decisions are beyond me. I hope, if you wanted it, he would love you so much that he would give it without thought. That is how it should be, I figure,” he offers a twitch of a shrug. He rubs at the back of his neck and then shrugs again, looking to Isolwyn with a sheepish smile. “Children? Can’t say I have an opinion one way or the other. I don’t, to be honest, think about it. I’m happy with how my life is now. I’ve… been sober for the longest time since I was twelve,” he tells her, “and I try to take each day as it comes.” He lowers his hand and fidgets with a bit of his food, keeping his eyes focused on his plate. “It will be up to Arlet if she is ready to be a mother again. If she is, I would give her a child if I am able to. If she isn’t, I will be happy.” He looks up at Isolwyn then. “Is that… selfish of me to think that way?”
“Some things just… aren’t that simple,” Isolwyn says, tilting her head in an imitation of a shrug as she lifts the corner of a sandwich to her mouth. She spends a little time making inroads on said sandwich before she sets it back down on her plate and reaches for a bottle of juice to pour some into the metal cups she’s brought with her. “I don’t see how it can be remotely selfish to not mind whether you have children or not,” she declares. “If you’re happy together, then you’re happy together and there’s nothing wrong with not knowing whether either of you will want your family to be larger than the two of you. You’re still a family, either way. I think it’s okay to simply… be happy. Like your life. Enjoy what you do. If you don’t feel the need to change any of it… I’m not sure I see why you should.”
J’kson polishes off the remainder of his own sandwich and reaches for the juice to wash it down. He sets the empty cup down and places a napkin over his plate as he looks out towards their two dragons. “The whole ‘why change a good thing’ motto, huh?” he drawls as he looks back at her with a lifted brow and a half-smile. “All I can say is, I’ve finally taken control of my life. The gambling hall is prospering and it seems we have enough… money to supply to the Court… so no other demands come our way. We heard that the dragons have grown and been returned to the Court. I wonder how all of them feel about the differences. Maybe they preferred life at Fort. You’d never get a chance to ask them their honest opinion though,” he notes dryly, looking away and out at Malynth and Eosyth again. “I’m sure there were threats against their lives or those they loved if they did not return. How is Safiye?” he asks, looking back to Isolwyn. “I would… prefer her to be returned to the Court before you have your own child. I don’t want the opportunity of using your child against you…,” he trails off, eyes closing as his brows pinch together. “The way Jet and M’tan lead can be impossible at times. Especially when they feel threatened.”
“Safiye seems happy at Fort,” Isolwyn says over the rim of her mug. “She’s helping Emily to train Eosyth’s newest daughter and her rider. I say helping, but it’s more than I’m interested to see what she’s learned and I want her to feel like she’s being productive. That she’s not the oddity half the world will always paint her as.” The idea of a threat against her own child gives her pause, or it’s more that Eosyth, too, hesitates for an instant before reanimating, Isolwyn’s focus not quite there when she replies. “If they think to use my child against me, they should be aware that I can and will simply wipe their Hold off the face of this planet,” she utters darkly. “Fort has welcomed and protected their daughter when they couldn’t. And to return her to them now would be to let Vesoviath rise… Which cannot, in anyone’s good conscience, be done.”
“I don’t mean to place you in contention with them. I simply feel.. compelled to remind you that they do not think as we think,” J’kson answers, lifting both his hands to ward off any repercussions for his statement. “They value the lives of children. I would hope they would not stoop to such levels. I only know… that they can be pushed into corners and chose to act rashly to find a solution.” He shrugs his shoulders and moves to grab another sandwich to eat. “M’tan went so far as to suggest Arlet whore herself for information,” he adds, a touch of darkness to his tone. “So perhaps they only value their children while they are young.” He takes a large bite of the sandwich and chews with more force than necessary to consume it. “Safiye is a sweet kid. I’m glad she’s finding her way at Fort. And that you’ll protect her from a flight before she is of age for it.”
Isolwyn sports a tiny smirk for a second or so, just before she declares, “They’re the only ones who’ll place themselves in contention with me or Fort, by taking any actions that stand to hurt my family or my Weyr. Safiye looks to Emily first, I know that, but I want to keep her safe because she might as well be mine while she’s living in my Weyr. It’s not to say that there are no politics behind any of it, but if a mother trusts you with her child, it’s got to become more than that.” Her eyes narrow a little as that information about Arlet settles. “…If they think for Safiye to become a puppet for them when she’s of age, the girl need not see them again. If it turns out to be a matter of protecting her from them in the years to come… So be it.” She reaches for a small pastry and idly nibbles at its edge. “I really should be persuading you to have children so that we can raise our babies as cousins, you know.”
J’kson doesn’t make any moves to enjoy any of the sweets, which isn’t unusual for him as he never seems to be fond of dessert items. He settles his hands behind him once more and leans back, kicking his feet out in front of him to cross at the ankle. “Cousins,” he grins, looking to Isolwyn, “with the most powerful Weyrwoman on Pern as their aunt? They would be born into a great future.” He pats his stomach and winks at her. “Unfortunately, it’s impossible for me to carry a child. Like I said, I’m not sure… I’m not sure how it might affect Arlet. Her well being comes first. We don’t talk of her son – not really, anyway,” he twitches a shoulder, “and he’s settled at the Court with her parents to raise with their youngest. I think he’s in a better place to be raised than our Hall,” he adds, lifting a brow and looking sidelong at her, “Despite having been raised nearly in a gamblers den, I don’t want any of my future children to only have cards and poker chips as playmates.”
“If having further children would make her miserable, it’s simply not worth it,” Isolwyn agrees, breaking off small sections of the pastry to slowly consume. “But if the two of you ever decide that it’s what you want to do, they’d be welcome at Fort, if you’d rather not send them to her parents or raise them at your Hall. Then, I’m not sure she’d be thrilled by that prospect, given how Fort treated her before it was mine.” She finishes the pastry and brushes off her fingers. “Truth be told, I’m not sure how I feel about the rest of the Weyr finding out about me. I know one of the Healers informed my uncle, so maybe more people know than I think and know better than to press me about it. I don’t want them suddenly deeming me incapable.”
“I don’t think a Weyr will be where she’d want her children raised,” J’kson replies with a small sigh. He reaches to rest his hand on Isolwyn’s arm. “Not that //your// Weyr would be a bad place to raise children. It’s only… the way everything happened for her, before you, I’m not sure she could feel safe with the decision. I know how you are treating Safiye goes a long way to repairing the damage that others did. I appreciate the offer that you’d help raise my child. Truly. You are my sister in all things but Blood.” He lifts a brow as he listens to her, “You truly think your people would suddenly find you incapable because of your pregnancy? I highly doubt that. You’ve earned their respect. It can’t be so easily taken away.”
Isolwyn briefly covers J’kson’s hand with her own. “I know,” she says gently. “I imagine it’s the same as my not wishing to raise my child in a Hold. If they’re in a position to one day inherit one and they want it, then that’s another matter, but I’d not want them spending their formative years in that sort of environment.” The quirk of her lips isn’t quite a smile, but a wry grimace. “It takes very little to change someone’s opinion of a woman. It’s not the same for men. I’ve mostly only suffered the urge to sleep half the time so far, and I’ve managed to keep it from interfering with my work too much, but I know I’m not going to always be on form over the next few months. People see a weakness in the armour and they go for you. I just need to try not to give them the chance.”
“I would hope your people are not going to behave in such a manner. Besides, Jet probably killed half a dozen men completely pregnant…,” J’kson drawls, lifitng a brow as he looks at her wryly. “Your strength has always been here,” he taps his temple, “and I don’t see //that// being hindered by a growing belly.” He moves to cover her hand with his once more, giving it a squeeze before he places another sweet pastry in her other hand with a grin. “You best take advantage of eating for two now,” he teases as he straightens back up. “Also,” he muses, looking to where Malynth has attempted to hide behind a copse of trees from Eosyth. “Perhaps we should think of a way to make our relationship more legal. I want your child to have the protections… as their uncle,” he looks back to her. “Is that a thing Harpers can guarantee? That no one can dispute my claim on your child? I don’t want some Blooded Fortian trying to interfere with my claim… in the event something happened to you or C’aol.”
“If I’m not taking advantage of the situation in any other way, I probably shouldn’t when it comes to eating either,” Isolwyn drawls, though she doesn’t actually make any true argument about the pastry and obediently pulls off a corner to consume. Her head tilts as Eosyth circles the copse to try and sneak up on Malynth, the petite queen’s paws set down gently and her wings tucked close. “I would think there’s some variety of documentation that names a child’s guardian in the event of death or incapability. The default would be the baby being raised with the Weyr’s other children, but, you’re right, I wouldn’t put it past one of my relatives to try and claim them solely because of their Blood. I imagine C’aol and I would have to sign something naming you their parent in event of disaster.”
“However you wish it to be, I’m only thinking of the ‘what-if’s’ now,” J’kson admits with a shrug. He watches as Malynth twists around and pounces towards Eosyth. “He’s missed her,” he shares with Isolwyn as Malynth tears off in another direction in the hopes of Eosyth pursuing him. “He enjoyed playing with the young dragons,” he adds as he looks to Isolwyn. “I know he claims to have fun at the Hall… I still worry. I should try and bring him around Eosyth and other dragons more often. At least those who know his limitations and do not mind them.” He smiles, lifting a hand to push through his hair as he adds, “I’ve missed you too. Duty keeps us far busier than we used to be. It seems like almost another lifetime that we were weyrlings together… dealing with the ineptness of the Weyrlingmasters. Have they improved at all?”
“I know that, if anything happens to me and C’aol, my child belongs with the family I chose, not the one who values my Blood over who I am.” Isolwyn continues to get through the pastry as Eosyth goes loping after Malynth. “We can visit more often,” she promises. “If you’re able to cope with the distance between you, he’s welcome at Fort while you’re working. Daeserath doesn’t really… know how to play.” Smiling ruefully, she adds, “I’m reliably informed that he gives the best cuddles though.” A huff of laughter follows. “Don’t ever let anyone know that I mentioned Daeserath and cuddles in the same sentence.” Of the weyrlingmasters, she wrinkles her nose and gives a somewhat non-committal twitch of a shoulder. “They didn’t know what to do with Eosyth and they don’t seem to know what to do with Yedrith, her daughter, either. Then, there’s something in Amorenth’s line that makes her queen descendents different. And well… We know people set in their ways don’t deal well with different, don’t we?”
“I don’t want to see Malynth attacked for sharing //that// information,” J’kson drolls with a shake of his head. “We can’t allow Daeserath’s reputation to take //any// slights.” He lowers himself to the ground to stretch out fully. He yawns briefly and tucks his hands behind his head to use as a pillow. “I have to say, I was prepared for you to make them all retire or transfer,” J’kson tells her as he closes his eyes against the glare of the sun. “Simply for being old and foolish. Still, they kept all of us alive. Even though it’s rare, we know that there are risks that take place. I heard that one of the weyrlings at Telgar was not paying attention when they were practicing drills and forgot to tighten his straps. He fell and broke his back. Healers say it’s unlikely he’ll walk again.” He shakes his head and angles himself to peer at Isolwyn. “So, despite them not ‘getting’ the difference, none have been so badly hurt as that.”
“I may yet, if my junior brings me word of their ignorance or unjust behaviour towards any of our weyrlings.” Isolwyn lifts her mug to drain it, then sets it down on a flat rock and mirrors J’kson to lounge down beside him, smooshing some of the blanket beneath her hip as she curls up on her side. “If I fall asleep now, I blame you and only you,” she warns him. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think that was your plan.” Whether she knows better or not – and whether it is his plan or otherwise – she ducks her head down and tucks her hands beneath her chin, sleep claiming her almost immediately while her guard is lowered. At least there’s only J’kson and their lifemates to witness it.