At Dawn

Who: Isolwyn, C’aol, Casi
Where: Weyrleaders’ Weyr, Fort Weyr
What: Of Casi, Safiye, and what’s kept hidden.

It’s early enough that light hasn’t settled quite settled over Fort, and though Casi has chosen this morning to sleep on peacefully, Isolwyn’s sleep patterns have been rewired enough that she’s drifted awake without there being anyone or anything immediately demanding her attention. Unlucky for her, it seems the chances of getting back to sleep are unfavourable, and after a little while of watching her daughter get the rest she’s being denied, she just shuffles herself closer to C’aol and nudges her way into his arms with a content sigh. Many of the marks she received during Eosyth’s flight have darkened and begun to fade at their edges, and if they bother her at all, she’s not let on, doing her best to keep them out of sight during the day.

C’aol stirs as Isolwyn moves into his arms as he’s drawn to more full awareness than the light slumber he was taking part in. When Casi wakes in the middle of the night, or requires care, he does not attend to her needs – however, he does wake up with Isolwyn and watches her do what their daughter needs. His eyes focus on the bruises within his view as he draws a finger along her arm. He has not done more than hug and lightly kiss her since the flight and now is no different as he simply kisses the top of her head to signal he is also awake, if not speaking yet. He’ll wait until she does, for fear he may do one thing that could wake their daughter.

Through a sleepy gaze, Isolwyn tracks the progress of the finger drawn along her arm, then tucks herself more securely against C’aol and ducks her head down a little to rest it squarely over his heart. “She has your eyes, you know,” she murmurs. “I officially entrust you with the duty of instructing her in how to strike people down with them when she’s older.” She presses a smile against his chest. “And then in how to take over the world. But still, baby steps first.” If she catches her inadvertent pun, there’s only a twitch of her lips to betray so.

That pun is not lost on C’aol and earns her one of his rare smiles should she catch it in time before it disappears behind his more serious expressions. “Her eyes will be a source of much speculation as she gets older. On whether or not she is kind-hearted like her mother, or hard-hearted like her father.” He kisses her forehead and shifts himself up against the bed, moving to drop his feet over the edge and stand up. He turns and looks to her, then the sleeping baby, before he offers a beckoning hand. “Let’s step out so we do not wake her, since we are both awake.” A rare consideration shown for their daughter. He waits until Isolwyn stirs before he guides her towards the door, pausing long enough to fetch her a robe to put on against the chill of the morning.

Isolwyn glances back at Casi, who continues to sleep peacefully on, unaware of her parents’ focus, then slips her legs free of blankets to pad after C’aol. Her, “Thank you,” is a quiet thing, just as she secures the robe’s tie around a waist that is still settling back to its narrower former nature. She leaves the bedroom door slightly ajar and moves to fill a kettle with water, settling it to heat up before folding herself down onto the couch. “I’ll be very happy if she learns to be both, as and when is best for her,” she admits. “Though I’m not sure everyone would agree with your assessment of my being kind-hearted.”

“If you were to compare the two of us, I feel very strongly most would agree you are far kinder than I,” C’aol drawls as he moves to settle himself on the chair across from the couch. He props his feet up on the small table that separates the items of furniture and folds his arms in front of him, clearly at his leisure. “Regardless of our hopes for her, she will be her own person. Of that I am certain.” He glances from Isolwyn towards the bedroom door, alert to the potential movement of their daughter only to find the cat striding from their bedroom and into the main room. He promptly ignores the cat and looks back to Isolwyn with the barest hints of a smile competing to show itself. “What do you have on your agenda today?” he asks, pointedly ignoring the forward movement of the cat as he strides towards the two of them.

Perhaps,” Isolwyn agrees, curling her feet beneath her. “But then, other people tend not to get to see when you’re kind… and I’m selfish enough to admit that I like it that way.” While she must note the cat’s presence, she likewise does nothing to attract his attention, while simultaneously pretending not to watch to see which of them might get pounced on. “I thought I’d take Safiye to the Smithcraft to pick out a couple of pieces of jewellery. I know she has a piece by her mother, but she’s less a girl and more a young woman now, and I don’t want her feeling that she doesn’t have the attire of a junior if she goes out with Emily. We may be protecting her, but she’s been doing a junior’s work without a the same pay.”

“I wouldn’t want to lose my reputation,” C’aol drawls, a tiny smirk surfacing. “How would I get people to listen if they thought I was soft?” He rests his arms on the arm of his chair and leans his head back against the chair. The cat makes his way close enough to launch himself up on the table, where he sprawls and eyes C’aol for a moment before flopping on his back and rubbing his head along the tables’ surface in an indulgence of marking his scent along it. “You shouldn’t let it do that,” C’aol comments, frowning at the cat as he removes his feet from the table. He lifts his gaze from the feline towards Isolwyn. “If she’s doing the work, she should be appropriately compensated. I won’t have her mother here railing at me that we used her labor and time for free. Besides, she’s good at what she does. I’ve never heard one complaint about her. And even though we’re clearly protecting her and Vesoviath, I think people would still grouse about the girl if she were incompetent.”

Isolwyn glances between the cat and C’aol, only to remark, “You also appear to be ‘letting’ him do that,” in dry tones that cannot quite conceal her amusement. “I don’t think Safiye’s mother is fool enough to suggest we’re exploiting her daughter. She and her husband were compensated well for their part in ensuring Priska’s safety when Yedrith flew, though part of me does wish she’d just finished S’ven there and then. I suppose it at least left Priska and B’lian the opportunity to use him as an example.” She waggles her fingers towards the cat, who swiftly decides that her lap is a warmer spot in which to lie and curls up there. “I’ll do something about Safiye’s pay. We need to find some boys her age for this clutch, if we’re to stand a chance of ever letting Vesoviath fly.”

How old is the girl now? What age did you and her mother decide upon as permissible for her to take part in a flight? Obviously, with the state of how flights have gone, we are not talking about anything remotely open. If anything, I’d suggest her parents take her home and conduct it there. To remove other Weyr interference. Do we even //know// where they live?” C’aol speaks openly as he watches the cat move to Isolwyn’s lap and begin to knead her lap and drool happily in response to her pets. “When are you going to hold a meeting with Rori, Priska, Emily — and who else do you trust? Not Aerishani,” he answers that flatly, “she’s given up her rights as a Weyrwoman.” He shakes his head, “Still, you should discuss with them what steps you want to take moving forward. The Council should not be trusted to see this as a real problem that is speaking of change that is needed.”

“She’ll be fifteen in not too long,” Isolwyn replies, keeping her hands moving over silver fur. “Last we discussed it, seventeen was the earliest we were willing to consider, and only anything sooner if Vesoviath were to be obviously suffering from being prevented from rising. In that eventuality, I’d rather she try and get through it alone.” She sighs and looks down at the cat rather than anywhere else, plainly discomforted by the whole thing. “It would be a year and four months from now before any from this clutch would be old enough to chase, leaving her at nearly seventeen. If we can somehow find Safiye a mate that she //likes//… a boy or a girl…” Dropping her head back against the couch, she murmurs, “I don’t know,” and abruptly abandons her train of thought. Her dark gaze darts towards C’aol before she lifts a careful hand to the more prominent marks along her neck and collarbone. “…I need a little more time for these to fade, lest anyone get the wrong idea,” she says quietly, her voice edged with regret for having to speak so directly about it. “Then I’ll meet with Priska and Emily first to decide on who to invite.”

“Are seventeen year olds set to mate for life? Seems awfully young to me to have that between them,” C’aol comments, not in the least uncomfortable about the topic, as he’s clearly looking at it as a matter of strategy and nothing else. “I suppose it doesn’t matter so long as they like each other and the flight is guaranteed.” He watches her hand go towards her neck with a sudden sharpness, the earlier cavalier nature of their conversation tossed aside. “Yes,” his voice is cold and his gaze hardens with it. “You would have to with those two, wouldn’t you? Very well,” he moves to rise from the chair. “You know what is best for everyone either way. I leave it to you to guide the Weyrwoman to some form of resolution. I will not have further goldriders put at risk.” That he is saying this and staring so openly at her bruises hardens him further. “I’m going to get dressed and get breakfast sent up.” He moves to stalk back towards their bedroom.

The poor cat goes from a state of sleepy bliss to startled terror as Isolwyn leaps to her feet to stride after C’aol, his little paws scrabbling and catching at the rug as he tumbles to the floor and rights himself. She doesn’t hesitate in launching herself towards her Weyrleader, first grabbing at his arm, then planting herself directly in-front of him, any consideration of just how not a wise move it may be that she makes gone with the set of her jaw and the fire in her eyes. “None of this, you did on purpose,” she utters lowly. “And when you do choose to leave marks deliberately and I ask you to, I like it. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t like it. The only problem here is that other people wouldn’t understand. And I’m not explaining to them what’s between you and me.”

C’aol shakes off Isolwyn’s attempt to grab his arm and stops only when he’s faced with her in front of him. “You’re defending the marks on your body. But you have to hide them. Plenty of people are waiting for me to do something atrocious to you.” He looks like he may be reaching for her to hug, only he places his hands firmly on her shoulders. “You don’t need to defend me. Especially from my own thoughts.” He forcefully shifts her so he can walk passed her to go and dress as he said he would. He doesn’t slam a door or demand her away

Isolwyn closes her eyes and simply stands where she’s been moved for a few moments, then turns and heads after C’aol, not stalking him down, but to move to the cradle beside the bed and lift Casi into her arms as she stirs, holding her close before she can fuss and cry. She pads back towards the door, where she turns and watches him for a second or two before saying, “You love me.” She presses a kiss to the top of Casi’s head. “Us. Plenty of people don’t know how hard. We hide that too.” Turning back, she resumes her previous path, where she busies herself with half humming, half softly singing to their daughter as she sorts out things in the kitchen, deliberately keeping her back turned so as to give him a clear escape route.

C’aol’s dressed relatively quickly for him and he does not pause to enjoy the view of watching Isolwyn with Casi like he normally would. He does escape from their weyr, as Isolwyn likely knew he would, and takes his time ordering breakfast to be brought to their weyr. The food and drinks arrive by one of the kitchen workers ahead of C’aol’s return. It may look like he was planning on staying in a mood but before the food gets cold he returns. He makes no effort to do more than talk business with Isolwyn, careful to keep the conversation neutral. Before he leaves for his meetings, he moves to kiss her lips gently. “I love you.” He offers a faint smile in the direction of their daughter. “Both of you,” he amends and then turns to leave without talking further about her bruises.

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