Assuming the Worst

Who: Priska and Emiky
Where: Weavercraft Hall
What: Priska and Emily catch up, mostly about their respective relationships.

It doesn’t take much convincing for the Weaver Hall to spare a private room for two queenriders for the afternoon, and especially not when many of the Masters and Journeyman are well acquainted with Honshu’s Weyrwoman. Examples of the season’s new fashions have been lined up and set out along one side of the first floor room that’s been reserved, along with a range of designs from the more senior Weavers, while a table by the window is home to tea and a selection of small cakes, the view afforded one that looks down into the courtyard. Priska already occupies one of the chairs, though she’s not touched the tea or cakes, while Yedrith has selected a perch on the fireheights to keep a broader eye on the goings-on below.

Hanath’s shadow passes over Yedrith before she drops Emily in the landing portion of the Hall. Emily takes the time to remove straps and is surprised when apprentices come out to take them and her flight gear for her. She’s dressed in a simple pair of pants and a button up blouse and heads forward into the private room as she’s directed by a journeyman. She blinks once she’s inside and assured, “only the best has been put out for them,” before the door is closed and she finds herself in Priska’s sole company. “How much did this cost you?” she asks on the end of a surprised laugh as she crosses the room to hug her friend. “This is such a nice surprise!”

“Not as much as you’d think,” Priska answers wryly, rising to her feet to wrap her arms around Emily before retreating back to her seat. “Then, they’re assuming that at least one of us will buy something. They’re willing to bargain on the price, though, seeing as they want lots of people to see us wearing their clothes. If a Weyrwoman has it, others will want it.” She reaches to draw both teacups towards her and fills one after the other from the delicate pot, then gently pushes one of the cups back towards Emily’s seat. “Maybe there’s something here for Hanath’s first Hatching at Telgar?” It takes her a moment to add milk and sweetener to her tea, then she sits back and lifts the cup to her lips. “Or something to entertain your lady friend.”

“Oh, yes; that will come sooner than later..,” Emily muses as she takes her seat and looks out at the fashions on display. “I’ll admit, I’m nervous to take over a Weyr,” she shrugs and looks at Priska with a shy smile. “Funny to admit, after I’ve trained you and look at you now.” She takes a sip of her tea and can’t hide the blush that rises to her cheeks at mention of her ‘lady friend’. “Echo’s expecting a baby now,” she shares, “isn’t that lovely?”

Priska tries a smile, yet it turns out to be little more than a twitch of her lips and a pained tightening around her eyes. “Look at me now,” she murmurs, quite unable to summon any enthusiasm, words uttered over the rim of her tea. She takes a tentative sip and sets the cup down, reaching to select a tiny cake with pink frosting. “Echo is… I… What?” she questions, as Emily’s news filters in and catches up with her. “Well, I guess it’s lovely if you think it is, but otherwise… I mean, who’s the father? Do you want her //and// a baby in your life? It’s decidedly not lovely if it’s not what you want.”

“Hanath is beyond thrilled about the idea of mothering a baby,” Emily smiles and adds, “Echo already has a daughter and wanted a sibling for her. Why would I be bothered by that? I don’t know who the father is, and I don’t think Echo cares to inform him.” She shrugs and sips her tea. “I’m hoping if it all works out at Telgar, she’ll want to move there with me. So we can all be a family.” She considers Priska for a moment, “I feel like… you need to tell me something. Is everything alright at Honshu?”

“Hanath is thrilled,” Priska must feel the need to make the distinction, “but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you feel the same way. What about if or when you want to have your own children?” She waves a hand dismissively. “I don’t mean the ones she has aren’t or won’t be yours, but I mean… You know. Ones that are biologically yours. Is she okay with that?” Picking up a fork, she slides it into the cake and eases a bite free. “Honshu doesn’t matter,” she insists, only to shake her head. “I don’t mean it doesn’t matter, I mean… I don’t know what I mean. It’s definitely not as interesting as finding you a wardrobe for Telgar and… Do we need baby clothes now?”

Emily sets her tea down and arches a brow at Priska’s line of questioning. “I can have a child if I wanted one and Echo would support me. That’s what I would assume most partners would.” She sets down her tea and holds her arms in front of her. “Are you saying B’lian would refuse you were you to want one?” As to the dismissing of Weyrs, Emily leans forward just enough she’s almost hovering above the table. “//Priska//, what is going on with you?”

Priska grimaces at the mention of B’lian and children, flinching away and back into her own space, her teacup scrabbled for so that she can try to drown her reaction in another sip that’s still too hot. She eyes Emily somewhat warily as she leans forward, her grip on the cup tightening. “I don’t think B’lian and I agree about children, so I doubt we’ll be having any,” she eventually states. She sighs, her shoulders slumping. “…Some Holders from within Honshu’s territory suggested a political betrothal between our children and theirs. And all I could think in that moment was that… //is// that… I’m not good enough for B’lian, especially because… I think I would’ve done it. He told me that my job as a Weyrwoman comes before everything else.” Shaking her head, she mutters, “I should probably get some more suitable clothing while I’m here, so he doesn’t assume I’m a frivolous idiot.”

Emily shakes her head and eases back in her chair. She lowers her arms and reaches for her tea to cup, needing something and somewhere for her hands to go. “He forgets their world is different. And that you were and are Blooded. If he can’t acknowledge your past, he’s doing you a disservice. I told Echo I thought my father may not understand our love, but I don’t see him shaming me for it. He’s always been… different compared to some Lord Holders.” She sighs and looks to the clothes and back to Priska. “If B’lian thinks you’re frivolous you aren’t truly partners. You’re a dynamic woman. You can be frivolous when it suits you, I’d say. Especially if it makes you happy.” She considers Priska with a frank expression. “Are you assuming the worst of him? Have you told him how you feel?”

“He insists it’s the past and that I’m not Blooded anymore,” Priska murmurs, her eyes fixed on her tea. “Which is fine, if I want it to be that way, but being //told// it and what I am…” She puts the cup down before she can endanger it with an unsteady hand or too firm a hold. “…I said from the outset that having feelings for the man I have to work with most closely was too foolish a risk. I knew this would happen. And then I was stupid enough to let it happen.” Shaking her head again, she admits, “I haven’t told him any of it. When I tried to tell him that I didn’t think I’d make a good mother for his children, he told me I was a Weyrwoman and that was first, and I didn’t need to have any. So I thought… Well, that’s that.” A shoulder twitches. “He can sire his children on a greenrider, just in-case I want to sell them off.” It only takes a moment for her to relent. “I’m awful, I know; I’m sorry. I’m just showing he’s an immeasurably better person than I am by being bitter.”

Emily has the air of thoughtful quiet about her as she listens to Priska’s words. She takes a few sips from her tea after she’s sure Priska has said all that she needs to say. “I don’t measure his being better than you because you’re upset. You know me better than that,” Emily’s tone is kind, “He is older than you. It is possible he’s more set in his ways. It sounds to me like he’s more focused on the Weyr than a family. He may not be the man you love the rest of your life. Do you feel like… this is enough reason to end your relationship?”

“I don’t even want a family now!” Priska blurts out, throwing her arms wide, only to knot them over her ribs in-case she should let them escape again. “…But I don’t want to be told that I’m only a Weyrwoman for the rest of my life. That that’s the most important thing about me. That I can’t want anything else, or to ever want something for me makes me a bad person. I don’t want the person… I thought was my home… judging me for the rest of my days because I don’t want to be consumed by a Weyr.” She blinks her eyes wide to fend off the threat of tears, letting out a huff of dry laughter. “Nothing has gone right since we left Fort. Nothing.” One corner of her lips curves in a tiny, sad smile. “I only hope Telgar is better to you.”

“I don’t usually drink, but it seems like we need more than tea,” Emily declares as she stands and moves towards the door. She opens it and doesn’t seem surprised to find an apprentice waiting for them. “Please fetch us some wine. And I’ll also like to see some additional clothes meant for a baby and a young girl,” she eyes the young apprentice, “a little smaller than you.” She closed the door and then turns to stride back to Priska. She tosses her arms about her friends neck and hugs her, kissing the top of her head. “It will be okay,” she promises and keeps her arms around her as she presses her cheek against hers. “No one expects you to be perfect or have all the answers.”

Priska keeps her head ducked as Emily opens the door, pretending more interest in the cake than she actually has, determined that the apprentice will not see anything out of the ordinary to gossip about. She straightens when the door closes, and easily huddles close to Emily, winding her arms around her middle to hug her to her while a few tears slip free despite her efforts. “I didn’t mean to be a wreck on you,” she says regretfully. “But now I have to censor myself for everyone else. Even what I thought he liked about me, I must’ve been wrong.” Her hold on Emily tightens for a moment, then she sits back and smiles a watery smile up at her. “Enough of this. Tell me about you and the baby and partner.”

“I’m not letting you deflect the attention off of you,” Emily gently chides as she looks down at Priska with a lifted brow. “I know we are both close in age, but I trained you. I //know// you.” She lowers herself down to her knees so she’s not towering over Priska. Her hands move to clasp Priska’s as she looks at her frankly, “There has been a lot that I’m not sure you have fully unpacked. S’ven…,” she shakes her head and sighs. “I had my issues with my first clutchsire, but nothing like //that//.” She pauses, looking thoughtful and then she tilts her head slightly as she looks at Priska. “Is it possible B’lian has changed from that encounter too? And the stress of his knot? I wonder if I should talk to him,” she bites her lip and then shakes her head again. “I’m your //sister// Priska. I’d do anything for you. If you need support, just ask. Does Isolwyn know how taxing Honshu is? It’s not as if C’aol is an easy Weyrleader… maybe she’d have more guidance for you there.”

Priska surrenders her hands to Emily without the slightest bit of resistance, taking a hiccupping breath to avoid further tears. “…He’s been… different… since it happened,” she says slowly. “I haven’t wanted to ask, because it isn’t as if I was any use in that flight, was I? I was too lost to it. I didn’t help. I still don’t remember half of it. I thought maybe he…” She hangs her head in shame. “…That he’d got his Weyrleader knot and just needed to keep me happy to keep it. When we went to the Southern Gather, he wanted to buy me things and I said he didn’t have to and I didn’t need him to, but he said wanted to and…” Her eyes widen at mention of Isolwyn and C’aol. “Don’t tell them. Please. They’ll think I’m weak. That this was a mistake. That I’m not useful.” She leans forward, making to wrap her arms around Emily’s shoulders. “You’re the best sister. I hope Telgar knows how lucky they are that you’re going to be theirs.”

Emily wraps her arms around Priska and soothes her hands up and down her back. “Shush. No one would think you weak. What you both went through would create trauma. Don’t you see that in Isolwyn and C’aol both?” Emily’s always been more prone to observations than sharing her thoughts but she adds, “I wonder if he is putting distance between you because of not being able to protect you from it in the first place.” She gently disentangles herself for look at Priska. “Our knots do not define us. You are allowed a life outside of them. I have mine, you need one too. I’m not worried about Telgar. That is my next step in this life, but it isn’t everything.” She squeezes Priska’s hands. “Please don’t carry around this hurt. You’re a brave woman. //Tell him// how he is making you feel.”

“Well… I’ve always thought C’aol would murder anyone who laid a hand on Isolwyn, but I thought that was just… how he is…” Priska supposes, her voice touched with a wry humour that she pushes past any pain. “I’ve never thought of what happened during the flight as B’lian’s fault,” she utters, gaze going a little distant. “In any way.” She sits herself back up as Emily draws back. “I didn’t think that… it was something he could blame himself for. I told him I thought he was defending me from the Holders; he said he was defending the Weyr. Perhaps that wasn’t true.” Her fingers catch at Emily’s chair to draw it nearer. “…I don’t know how to tell him, but… I’ll have to figure it out.” She takes a sip of tea gone slightly cold. “Seriously, though. A baby? D’you want a boy or a girl?”

Emily is interrupted from answering by a knock at the door and a careful, “Ma’am?” called. She rises from her kneeling position and shuffles to the door to open it. Three apprentices bustle in, one with a tray for the wine, and added cheese, nuts and fruit tray, and the other two carry in additional clothing to display. Emily passes them marks for a tip and then closes the door behind them. She returns to the table to pour each of them a glass of white wine before she takes the seat now closer to Priska. “I don’t know if Echo will find out. I know that’s a tradition in the South. She wants to welcome me into her family but,” here Emily has to smile and quirk a brow as she gently elbows Priska before taking a sip of her wine. “She keeps telling me to let Telgar come first. That’s what they all think, you realize. That our ambition is the most important. That’s what our society has taught us.”

Priska murmurs her thanks and reaches to claim her glass with a hand that she tries to keep steady. She look down into it for a moment, then takes a sip, followed by a longer drink. “It’s what we’re expected to want to do,” she replies over the rim of her glass. “Sacrifice ourselves for our Weyrs. But then… it isn’t as if I wouldn’t do it, in the end. I may hate the thought of being consumed by it, but I’m only one person. They are many.” Her head tilts. “Maybe that’s what she thinks. She’s one person. You’re to belong to many. You said she’s a wingleader? Wing before self. Weyr before self.” She sets her glass down and takes another bite from her abandoned cake. “Perhaps she doesn’t want to be something else to worry about. Do you think you’ll get married one day?”

“Aerishani showed the world that you can give up your knot and focus on your family. Whether or not people agree with her choice, she showed us that she still had one despite having Impressed Amorenth,” Emily muses with a smile as she settles back into her chair. She claims her own wine glass and takes a few dainty sips as she considers Priska’s statements. “She’s weyrbred, so that may be part of it. Y’think that’s why B’lian is the same way? Both of us come from Blooded family. While my father didn’t stick to expected traditions as much as some, there was still the undercurrent that one had to marry well to ensure our family prospered.” She shrugs at the mention of getting married and blushes, hiding a smile behind her glass as she takes another sip. “I don’t know if I’ll get married. It wasn’t something I wanted before I found Hanath. Is it something you want?” she queries.

“…I thought for a while that I didn’t want to marry anyone, ever. That Impressing Yedrith had freed me from it.” Priska takes another long drink. “Then I thought that maybe Yedrith had given me the freedom to marry anyone I wanted.” She lifts her shoulders. “Guess it’s a moot point if the person I saw myself marrying someday doesn’t think I’m allowed to be anything more than my job.” The glass gets set down on the table in favour of the cake, lest she drink too much too quickly. “But see, a wingleader would be marrying well, in terms of a Weyr, unless there’s rampant nepotism that secured them their position. And unless you were to find another Blooded rider to marry and foster children back to your Holds.”

“You need to talk to him,” Emily insists, setting down her half-finished glass of wine. “You have to make him say – one way or another – if he truly believes you are only as important as your knot.” She shakes her head and rubs briefly at her forehead with a finger. “I don’t know if Echo even wants to marry. I haven’t thought much about it, if I’m honest with you Priska. I’ve only recently enjoyed having love in my life this way. I don’t want to… put pressure on it more than the world already does.” She settles her hands in her lap and looks at her friend with a shrug and a wan smile. “I’ll let you know how my parents take the news that I have a woman, and not a man, beside me. If they handle it well, I suppose I could see any children of mine going to spend time with their grandparents. If they don’t, Melody seems to be well adjusted and a bright, happy child. And she is weyrbred.”

“I don’t think I really want to know the answer,” Priska admits, following her words with a large enough bite of frosting that she can’t possibly add anything else. She eventually washes it down with a sip from her glass, and drawls, “You know I want you married so that I can dress you up, right?” She smirks and gives a shake of her head. “If your parents are anything less than happy that you’re happy, then they’re fools. Not that I can say how my parents would react to the same, but I already know they’re fools. If yours would be worried it means no children of your body, you’ve already said there’s no issue with you having children of your own.” Her lips twitch. “And, well. You’ll be a Weyrwoman soon. If they’re awful, you can step on them.”

Emily laughs and then rises, moving to draw Priska up with an encouraging hand. “We can pretend to dress each other up in wedding gowns another day. Let’s go and focus on these beautiful clothes you’ve arranged for us to try on.” She hugs Priska once she stands, kissing her cheek before she loops her arm through hers. “We don’t need to talk anymore about the things that we may not be ready to face, or want to change. For now… let’s enjoy the things that we enjoy. Like pretty clothes. Wine. And laughter.” She draws her towards the items on display and pulls a few things off a hanger and tosses them at Priska. “You go first!”

Priska scrabbles to catch the things that Emily throws at her, then obediently moves behind one of the screens to cast off her present attire and try on some of the things that the Weavercraft would have them show off to the wider world. It seems, for a time, that she manages to forget what awaits her upon leaving the Hall, yet she departs having chosen much plainer things that than she would normally have selected, which earns her a watchful stare from one of the Journeymen more familiar with her usual wardrobe. It’s into Emily’s packages that she sneaks a range of pretty accessories, some plainly meant for the child in her life, but she manages to make good on an escape before they can be found and she can be accused of anything at all.

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