Who: Isolwyn and C’aol
Where: Weyrleader’s Weyr, Fort Weyr
What: Isolwyn is finding it difficult to do as the Healers ask.

To her immense displeasure, what has started with the Headwoman and some of her staff diverting work away from Isolwyn has reached a point where the Healers have finally found the courage to tell her that she needs to slow down for the next few months. That she has not taken it well is something of an understatement, her quiet displeasure manifesting in a ripple of thunder from Eosyth before something beyond the Weyr steals the queen’s focus away. Minutes later, she appears at the mouth of C’aol’s weyr, hauling a fur, a blanket and two books with her as she announces, “If I’m not allowed to work, I can still watch you,” with bitter indignation. Without further comment, she takes up residence on his couch, wrapping herself in the blanket and the fur.

C’aol’s weyr is warmed by the warmth of a well-stoked fire in his hearth. He’s settled in his favorite leather chair, with the ottoman pulled close enough for his feet to rest upon it. He’s gnawing on the end of a stylus when Isolwyn enters and he pauses mid-chew as his brow raises. He glances towards the variety of papers he’s positioned on his lap and then closes a particular folder to lean forward and hand her way. “If the staff believes your pregnancy does not allow you to read reports, tell them to find me. There’s no reason you can’t.” The folder he’s handing her way contains various reports from sweeps conducted over the course of the month. “Nothing stands out to me, aside from one cotholder seeming insistent on asking our bluerider to carry them wherever they please without payment.”

“Apparently, I ‘don’t know what rest is’,” Isolwyn claims, reaching forward to accept the folder before settling back down and drawing the blanket up to her collarbone. Opening the aforementioned folder, she begins to flip through its contents, uttering, “Next time that cotholder requests the bluerider’s assistance, I suggest they tell them to pay what’s owed before any other journeys could possibly be contemplated. I don’t think Eosyth would mind setting the expectations straight there, if needed.” She wrinkles her nose. “The Healers are idiots. I swear they’re only trying to overcompensate to make amends for their colleague informing my uncle. And a lot of good that did the both of them.”

“If they say it puts your life in danger to work as you enjoy, then you should listen to them. If they are being overly attentive in an annoying way, dismiss what they say. You are the Weyrwoman,” C’aol reminds her as he casually flips through pages in his lap. He pauses now and then to note something in the notepad on the arm of the chair. Mostly, he’s browsing reports for the highlights. He glances up at her now and then, watching her do the same with a faint smile. He lets silence fall between them, finding comfort in it. He doesn’t notice that the feline that usually calls Isolwyn’s weyr ‘his’ has trotted into the space to inspect Isolwyn’s blanket and demand attention from her with a rumbling purr and the tossing of his body enthusiastically against her hand for attention.

Just whether the Healers are right, Isolwyn is being unreasonably irritable about the whole thing, or it’s C’aol who has the right of it in the middle ground, the only telling is in the silence that descends and that he is the one who receives no argument from her. She huddles down into blanket and fur, propping the folder up against her to continue reading through its contents, occasionally lifting her gaze to meet his and offer him a small smile of her own. She doesn’t realise that the feline has decided to adopt a different weyr today until paws disturb the tail of her blanket and fur brushes against the hand that she lifts to adjust it. As she runs her fingers across silver fur, she glances up at C’aol for a moment, then rather pointedly asks the feline, “Where have you been, hmm?”

C’aol glances up at Isolwyn’s question and only then notices the feline’s presence near her. He makes a pointed show of dismissing the entire scene by resuming his work. The feline does a great show of taking all of Isolwyn’s attention as she’ll give it. He may be so pleased with himself to have also found //her// here that he little pleasure droplets of saliva wipe their way from his chin to her palm when she gives him affection. C’aol gathers his papers together and rises. “Are you done with those?” he asks her as he bends to retrieve the papers he’d passed her for review. He ignores the feline as he leaps up to rub himself on his leg. He gives it a little nudge back towards Isolwyn before he disappears back towards his desk area to file away the papers. He returns to his chair with a small amount of relief that it is still empty of the feline when he settles himself down. “How is Priska’s training coming?” C’aol asks almost too pointedly. “Emily seems to be thriving in her role.”

Isolwyn does her best to keep a straight face as she hands the folder back to C’aol and swaps it for the feline, leaning over the side of the couch to pluck the cat from the floor as he nudges him back towards her. Curling up, the feline finds a way to fit himself between her chest and the bump of her abdomen, a little smug in his sleepy eyed kneading of the blanket beneath him. For a moment, Isolwyn hesitates, yet she doesn’t seem to be able to help herself when she says, all too casually, “Emily moved her and Yedrith out of the barracks early because Hanath gave them a feline.” It’s with the hyper-focused desperation of trying not to smile that she watches the feline settled at her middle. “Priska will be more than ready for Honshu when Yedrith is physically grown. The bigger issue is who ends up as her Weyrleader, or Weyrlord.”

C’aol settles his arm on the arm rest of his chair and tucks his chin into the palm of his hand as he watches the feline make himself at home on Isolwyn. That the attention of the feline gives her a smile earns a smile in return from C’aol, who must be in the right mood for the discussion at hand. “Over a feline,” he drawls, lifting an eyebrow. “Dare I suggest in future we do not allow such actions to move forward over the keeping of a pet? I would hope more went into that decision than keeping a feline company.” He straightens up in his chair and settles his arms in front of him. “I’m assuming she is feeling anxious about the eventuality of having an unknown man,” he would not be the one to suggest a female may take the role, “may lead with her? And said partner may be inept? I don’t know how to fix that. I would be deeply unhappy if one of Benden’s bronzeriders were to catch Yedrith. Do you have any suggestions on how to prevent such a thing?”

“Yedrith hasn’t integrated well with her siblings and I think the whole thing has alienated Priska from the rest of her class too. I may not like to say it, but if she’s to lead… perhaps it’s best that she learns to be content with distance from others.” Isolwyn smoothes her thumbs over the feline’s ears, which only makes his purring kick up a notch. “Having been Telgar’s heir, I’m sure she understands that she has to be careful who her friends are and who she trusts.” She wrinkles her nose a little as she suggests, “She could declare the flight closed to outsiders. Stating that it’ll be a Honshu rider might win her their support early, though it would limit Yedrith’s choices. To say only Benden are excluded would cause her problems she doesn’t need to start her tenure as Weyrwoman with.” It’s as she runs her hand along the feline’s back that he glances behind him and startles, leaping off her and towards the hearth, earning him a burst of laughter. “It’s just the baby, you small furry fool.”

“We don’t one of Honshu’s bronzes catching Yedrith either,” C’aol notes with a thoughtful frown as he considers the options presented to him. “Our best chance is someone we like who is of Fort catches Yedrith. To limit the flight to Honshu means we are allowing the same temperaments to likely run it that started the problems all those years ago.” He considers the reaction of the feline and blinks at Isolwyn. “Is it a violent affair when the child moves?” he asks of her, not moving to rise from the chair to rush to her side in excitement like some might. He watches the feline out of the corner of his eye as he slinks closer towards C’aol’s chair. “Maybe it is best that you do as the Healers say if you’re so far along that movement happens.” He looks to her and tries to steer the conversation back to the easier topic of placing Priska at Honshu. “We will have to hope that Yedrith is not caught by an idiot. If that is the case, will Priska be strong enough to hold her own against that? Aerishani fell madly in love with her fool and look at all it brought her.”

“I suppose one way would be to have the flight here and the pair of them then move to Honshu,” Isolwyn thinks aloud, adjusting the blanket in the wake of the feline’s departure from her company. “I feel that that would only irritate the Council, however, and we don’t want them deciding that Honshu isn’t to be Yedrith’s after all.” She idly runs a hand over the bump of her stomach and gives a one-shouldered shrug. “It wasn’t when they were littler, but now it depends what they’re kicking or punching at,” she wryly admits. “It’s not so bad,” she murmurs with more obvious affection for their unborn child. Her focus is kept quite firmly averted from C’aol when she gathers herself to ask, “…Will you think that I’ve been… defeated… That I’m weak, if I comply with what they want?”

C’aol furrows his brows at her question and is so intent on trying to frame his answer he doesn’t immediately fling the feline off when his lap is claimed by the creature. He still ignores the feline as it rubs a demanding face against his hand. “Isolwyn,” he manages to say as he moves to grab the feline and set it back down on the ground. “You are the furthest thing from weak. You aren’t defeated. Why would you assume I would say you were? If the healers are right in their decision, you follow their advice. Pern has advanced quite far when it comes to medicines these days, but it is still a real possibility childbirth could lead to your death,” he reminds her not unkindly, “I wouldn’t want to lose you because you thought you had to try… and keep up with everything you used to do. Don’t put yourself at risk. Or, if you need the reasoning, don’t put the child at risk.”

Isolwyn stares determinedly at her feet, waving her toes back and forth beneath the blanket. “…You seem to prefer it when I… have everything under control,” she says slowly, determined to keep her voice even and from wavering. “I don’t mean… I //know// you’d do anything to protect me and look after me. You already have. You do. I just… don’t want you to think I’m ridiculous. Or that I couldn’t cope. That I’m… less.” She shakes her head and dips her chin towards her chest as she closes her eyes. “Which I’m really not helping with saying any of this out loud, so if you could forget it and pretend I never said a thing, I might be able to scrape together enough of my remaining dignity to last the day.”

“Isolwyn,” C’aol’s tone is firm as he sits forward in his chair to rest his elbows on his knees. He clasps his hands together as he focuses his intense gaze on her. “Please explain to me how you will not have everything under control by delegating tasks to others? You won’t lose control of this Weyr because the Healers have told you that you need to cut back on your work and slow down. This does not make you ridiculous. What concerns me is that you seem to think that following their orders reflects poorly on you. It doesn’t. So stop worrying about it.” He waits and tells her after he lets a flicker of a smile cross his features. “Your dignity is intact. Now. What would you like to do since you’ve come to my weyr?” The feline has taken the time since he’s leaned forward to leap up and claim the back of his chair for a perch.

Though she doesn’t look away again as C’aol speaks, Isolwyn can’t help but continue to seem reluctant and apprehensive about the whole thing, her doubt writ large in a moment of vulnerability that she promptly smothers by finally averting her gaze and taking a deep breath. It takes her another few seconds to completely compose herself, yet she manages to resist any urge to further rail against growing restrictions or deny that she wants anything at all. “I… would quite like you to come and sit over here so that I can rest my head in your lap while I read,” she confesses, colouring only very slightly. “And you can tell me the highlights from the rest of those reports, if you like.”

C’aol does not immediately move as he digests the request he’s been given. He rises without offering her an answer, moving forward with ease to settle himself down beside her. He pushes his long legs out and crosses them at the ankle to support himself as he waits for Isolwyn’s head to find his lap. Once she settles there, continuing with the silence, he looks down at her. “The reports are nothing of interest or concern. Would you understand that… in not sharing them, I am not hiding them from you? I would rather listen to you read aloud or do something… like this,” he moves his fingers to draw them through her hair, an action that he has thought about often but rarely allows himself to do. “We can separate our relationship from the Weyr. Sometimes,” he allows, with a hint of a smile, “it’s what we need. Maybe if we… found other things to talk about, you’d feel less like I will judge you for stepping back from your duties.”

The feline plainly has a rival in seeking C’aol’s affection, and there isn’t all that much difference in how they do it, for Isolwyn instinctively tips her head back to follow the touch of his fingers, her content sigh more audible than she may realise. Her brow furrows a little as his words settle, a moment’s silence taken that draws her to utter a quiet, “…I didn’t notice. How often we talk about the Weyr. We even talk about it in bed.” She lifts her gaze to his, searching. “I like this. I didn’t realise… that maybe it was what you wanted too.” Quiet again, she closes her eyes and lets a faint smile claim her lips. “I don’t think I’ll mind stepping back so much if it means we have some time where we can just… be.”

“I’m not good at hobbies or having things to share with you that probably aren’t tied to the Weyr. I’ll learn though,” C’aol explains as he looks down at her with a smile he allows to show. “If it will make you worry less.” He taps his finger briefly against her forehead. “Let’s start now. What’s this book you brought me?” He glances towards the novel and waits for her answer, only to encourage her to read aloud to him. He won’t move from the floor until she is ready and then he’ll stand before her so he can help her to her feet. The rest of the evening will be spent in as relaxing a fashion as C’aol can find, with conversation consistently steered to other topics that allows each of them to learn a little something more about the other that doesn’t involve titles or past traumas. It’s a start.

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