Alone At Last

Who: Isolwyn and C’aol
Where: Weyrleaders’ Weyr, Fort Weyr
What: A first night alone without the baby.

Despite the somewhat… uneven… temperaments of both her parents, Casi has, thus far, turned out to be a rather placid and easily soothed baby, tending only towards absolutely screaming when there is something urgent that needs attention. That her daughter is so sweet tempered has only made it all the more easy for Isolwyn to settle into being quietly besotted with her, the rougher edges of her nature eased in softer moments with the little girl. Though she’s kept her close these past few weeks, tonight she’s found someone else to look after her, meaning, for the first time in what is a relatively long time, there’s only Isolwyn and an evening meal retrieved from the caverns waiting for C’aol when he gets home.

C’aol has not done much by way of tending to his daughter, though in the quieter moments that he finds Isolwyn and the baby bonding he does pause long enough to take in the sight of his mate and child content with each other. He often leaves the room when the baby wakes screaming, either getting up for the day or taking himself to the office to work rather than be in the vicinity of the squalls. He returns home today after having a meeting at Honshu, his irritation is clear on his face as he strides inside only to find Isolwyn and dinner waiting for him. “Is she sleeping?” he asks as he hangs his riding gear up and moves to give Isolwyn a brief kiss in greeting.

“I asked the nannies in the nursery to look after her tonight,” Isolwyn replies, briefly curling a hand around one of C’aol’s. “Half of them have been asking when they might get to keep her for more than a few hours here and there. I swear she’ll have them all ready to do her bidding by the time I collect her tomorrow.” She clasps her hands behind her back as she lets a flicker of a smile surface and tells him, “So, tonight I’m yours, or you’re mine; however it goes.” Stepping to the side, she makes to pull out his chair. “How did the meeting go? I can’t say that you look completely thrilled by whatever they had to say.”

C’aol frowns at the mention of Casi spending the night in the nursery but does nothing more than settle himself into the chair she’s pulled out for him. “Oh,” he shakes his head, “S’ven tried to claim that Priska and B’lian both blew the conversation out of proportion before I arrived. He’d never done anything out of line. He also tried to inform me that our training of weyrwoman might need improving. Since we seem to tolerate the back-talking of the weyrlings. I mostly ignored him and then left. Rori was not in attendance. How she has put up with him this long I don’t really know. He can’t have suddenly turned into this… type of leader,” he hesitates on finding the words, “and likely has been behaving this way the entire time he’s been leading Honshu.” He looks to her with a lifted brow. “Next time he asks for a meeting, which he will, I’ll have you go give him a thorough tongue lashing. Or we can let Priska do it again. Either would suit me.”

“Priska says that he told her that she was transferring immediately.” Isolwyn presses a kiss to his cheek and moves to settle herself in her own chair. “To be honest, any weyrling of ours who informs a foreign Weyrleader that they can’t order them around and that they answer to us has my full support. I’d be tempted to play passive-aggressive politics with him go and attempt to order one of his new weyrlings to transfer to Fort if I thought the resulting and inevitable episode on his part would be worth the trip.” She smirks and reaches to lift the covers on the various dishes from the caverns. “I’d think Rori is tolerating him because she sees him as a temporary nuisance. Or, at least I hope that’s the case and she’s not truly unable to see his flaws. Given Priska will be his Weyrwoman, letting her handle herself might be the best thing.”

C’aol rises from his chair and reaches for her plate to fill with various items form the platters. He sets it in front of her before he goes about making his own plate. “I don’t understand Rori much but her people have always listened to and respected her. Even when she was here. That S’ven seems incapable of it is out of character, but not all that surprising. He’s losing the foothold he has to power and it is never fun to have it taken away.” He finishes getting his food together and sits back down. “I have no intention of doing more than sending Priska to Honshu. It would seem B’lian will go with her as well and perhaps two more from the leadership course I’ve been giving. They seem to think it’s prepared them to win a goldflight.” His smile is not kind as he looks to her. “Funny how stupid they can be.”

Isolwyn murmurs her thanks and reaches for her cutlery, only to absently gesture towards the ledge where Eosyth lies with her fork. “I wonder whether others have realised that Amorenth’s line tend to choose their mates long before they fly? Or at least choose mates that they stay with?” She adjusts her hold and sets knife and fork to their proper use. “Moreover, I wonder if B’lian is truly aware that Imahdth and Yedrith are, in all likelihood, going to make him a Weyrleader? Not that I’d put it past S’ven to do something awful to try and interfere. It isn’t as if Priska has the power to address his behaviour until after the flight that could remove him from his station. Yedrith’s maiden flight could well be marked by a bloodbath.”

“I have made it clear to all the bronzeriders in the lecture series that I expect each of them to be prepared to become a Weyrleader in their future. B’lian had sought Fort as a transfer to allow him more opportunities for growth. Apparently, Telgar doesn’t approve of moving their ranks around once someone has gotten into a position of power. I know how that can chafe,” C’aol answers with a brief shake of his head and a small furrow of his brow as he considers his food for a moment. “I should press B’lian more to be prepared to be the Weyrleader we need at Honshu. Whatever his feelings for Priska may be.” He looks to Isolwyn then, “She at least is strong enough to lead no matter the Weyrleader she ends up with. You did well in that pick.” He sets himself to eating some of his food.

“It’s lucky for her that it was Yedrith who chose her and not a green. I don’t think she’d have done well without more immediate opportunities to use the skills she has.” Isolwyn pauses in the inroads she’s been making into her plate, tilting her head slightly. “By the time Eosyth has laid her next clutch, we ought to have new Weyrlingmasters in place. None of them have done well with teaching older weyrlings, nor with any who know their own minds. I don’t think it’ll be all that many months before she rises again, if she keeps to the same schedule.” Quite without a care, she remarks, “Closing her flights is my prerogative, but I envision it causing a stir when it actually happens.”

“I don’t have anyone in mind to take over the role of Weyrlingmaster from those that were so recently knotted for it. They have not taken their demotion well. I’ve tasked them to be in charge of the Search riders and the candidates themselves until they learn how to better work with our new requirements for the future of Fort’s weyrlings,” C’aol answers Isolwyn after he’s polished off a few mouthfuls of food. “The flights are closed,” C’aol answers her without hesitation. “I do not care what stir it may make. Fort deserves stability. I would suggest Priska think of doing the same once she’s found a Weyrleader she tolerates. The rotation of Weyrleaders has not done Benden or the other Weyrs well in recent years. I think we would have argument enough that Fort is stable with our leadership.”

“Frankly, I’ve little idea of what Priska’s reaction will be if it’s B’lian who ends up as her Weyrleader. She declared very early in her training that she would never fall in love with anyone it was and never would she allow any feelings to dictate her actions as Weyrwoman.” Isolwyn sets her knife and fork down for a moment and sits back in her chair. “I suppose she hasn’t quite thought of what she might do if she’s //already// in love with the one who claims a place at her side in terms of leadership. That is, if she’s in love with him and isn’t simply enjoying… other things.” She shrugs. “Which would be no bad thing for either of them; it isn’t as if feelings have to be involved there.” Shaking her head, she mutters, “If the Council or anyone’s disapproval thinks they can force me into a bed with anyone other than the father of my child, they can continue deluding themselves.”

“I’m glad you manage the weyrwomen because the entire nonsense of Priska’s concerns do nothing but aggravate me,” C’aol answers Isolwyn sharply after he polishes off the last of his dinner and sits back. He pats at his lips briefly with his napkin and then tosses it on the plate in front of him. “This is why we need more qualified Weyrlingmasters to shape the older candidates we bring in. I don’t know – should we even employ mindhealers? There’s a lot to be washed away from a previous life when you’ve had it for so long. Evenso, romance is not often tied to leadership. I’m glad Priska understands what Aerishani never wanted to.” He shakes his head and looks more angry and sullen than he has in months past before he puffs out a breath and rises, moving for the first time to clear their table with his plate and hers regardless of the fact she may be done eating or not. “The Council will be bent to our will shortly. We only have to think it through.”

“It would be more easily dismissed as nonsense if we didn’t seem to be accumulating more and more evidence that feelings do have influence, whether our dragons’ or our own. At least in the cases of dragons with particularly strong wills.” Isolwyn does nothing to prevent C’aol from clearing the table, but watches him carefully, her gaze not quite fixed on him. She lets silence claim her, making no effort to speak, only when she finally does, she gets more directly to the point than she might have another day. “Tell me,” she says quietly, unwilling to sidestep his sullenness. “If you’re pondering what life might have been like with Aerishani, I’m vain enough to believe I’m something of an improvement,” she adds a moment later, as if she’d eliminate some of her enquiry’s edge.

C’aol looks sharply at Isolwyn. “I never wanted that woman that way,” he tells her flatly, “and you are no comparison to her in the least. She was never fit for her role as far as I could tell and it has only been proven fact recently. //That// is vindicating. Fort is superior to Honshu as well. Don’t tell Priska that,” he adds with a wryness and a smirk. He moves to sit himself once more, sighing as he settles into the chair. “Would you have preferred someone else?” he asks her, lifting a brow as he glances her way.

“Since you’re the only one here with a sexual history that involves anyone else outside this room, I find that a rather redundant question,” Isolwyn drawls, reaching for her glass of water to watch him over its edge. “Eosyth may have chosen Daeserath long before she had any understanding of what sort of decision she was making or why she was drawn to him, but I made my choice in a more informed manner.” She sets the glass back down. “I’m also vain enough to be quite certain that, if I’d actually been interested in anyone before you, or any of the boys I had to play at having feelings for, I could have had them. The fact is that I wasn’t, and then half the Blooded world knew I was only after information and no marriage prospect.”

“Your Uncle suffered at the end for his missteps with you,” C’aol’s eyes sharpen as she reminds him of her previous life. “And for his continued efforts to somehow use your Blood to his favor. The world knows now that you are Fort’s Weyrwoman and to be respected for it. My only desire is that in choosing Priska for Honshu, we can guarantee similar strength for the Weyrhold. I never wanted it to be ruined the way it was. I only ever thought I wanted it for my own. Now I realize we were always meant for Fort.” He moves to take a drink of his own water and shakes his head. “Have you had any further word from Benden? They’re being far too quiet for my liking. I wonder if they will send some of their own to Honshu for the maidenflight. We can’t be the only ones with eyes on the South.”

“Honshu will still be yours, in a way,” Isolwyn murmurs, sporting the slightest of smiles. “I mean, Yedrith is Daeserath’s daughter. It’s his blood that will run through her descendants, whether or not she produces a queen for her first clutch.” She rises from her seat and wanders over to the kitchen to set out a few plain cookies dusted with sugar on a plate, though she’s already nibbling on one of them by the time she sits down again and puts the plate down on the table. “I think Benden is the biggest threat to Yedrith’s first flight. If they cannot win it, they will disrupt it, especially given the dressing down she gave the winner of Hanath’s flight when he was here. Whether they want Honshu or not… I wouldn’t be surprised if //he// turned up to make a show of himself, at least.”

“I might put it before the Council that he be barred from it,” C’aol muses as he watches Isolwyn fetch her cookies. He makes no move to reach for them as he’s rarely in the mood for sweets. “But involving the Council overly much is likely what caused a lot of issues the last few years. At times I wonder if the Weyrs wouldn’t do better to dissolve the Council altogether.” He shakes his head and taps his fingers along the table, “Priska will have to be consulted on whether or not she wants me to do it. Benden is not allowed to take part in any flights at Fort, gold or green. I’ve made that clear. We could look to do the same for Honshu.” He considers Isolwyn. “What do you think?”

“Whether Priska wants it to happen or not, exactly whose place it is to make that declaration would threaten to provoke other leaders into vocalising things that we don’t want them considering in too much depth,” Isolwyn says slowly and in-between bites of cookie. “Such as Honshu becoming an annex of Fort by way of Priska and her new leader. Right now, it may be that the Council is content that it’s Amorenth’s line being continued at the Weyrhold. If we don’t leave Honshu to deal with itself for a while… As much as I don’t want Benden getting a foothold there, I’m not sure risking what could be judged as overt interference would be best.” She bites down on her lip. “Yedrith has made friends among the blues and greens, to the best of my knowledge. To have them and their riders ‘visit’ when she begins to glow… They could protect Priska without being contenders for the leadership.”

“That she would need protection is a problem in and of itself,” C’aol drawls as he looks up at the ceiling. “We should employ that woman to guard her if we have concerns for a rape attempt or some other coercion. She has a fondness for ending that.” He rubs a hand along his side for a moment and then looks to Isolwyn. “I think we’ve had enough scheming for the day. Finish your cookie and then let us take advantage of the baby being gone for the evening. Your breasts are tantalizing as ever,” he smirks at her, “and I’m sure you’d appreciate my hands massaging them for you.”

Isolwyn deliberately takes another bite of the cookie before arching a brow as she meets C’aol’s gaze. “I do wonder at not being able to simply pounce on me of late making you rather more direct,” she utters dryly, brushing crumbs from her skirts as she stands. “Not that I mind,” seems to be an afterthought, offered as she rounds the table to step lightly to his side, where she lifts a hand to run her fingers through his hair. For a moment, she doesn’t quite look at him, awkward in the silence it takes her to find her words. “…Can we… go slow?” she eventually questions, almost ashamed in what she’s never asked before.

C’aol’s face does not shift from his bland neutrality when Isolwyn makes her request. He looks at her, allowing that awkwardness to grow, before he rises from his chair and hooks his arm about her waist. He tips her chip up gently before he captures her lips with his. There’s an earnestness behind the kiss that is less aggressive and more probing. He breaks from the kiss and then hooks her knees up and lifts her into his arms. “You will regret asking me to go slow,” he tells her as he nips at her ear and carries her from the room towards their bedroom. He kicks the door behind them and takes her to the bed where his slower pace is given over to her until she demands he change it.

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