Who: Nala and Rori
Where: Benden Weyr
What: Nala finally visits Rori at Benden.
It’s been a longer while than either might have expected when Nala finally makes the journey to Benden, yet no long enough that she deems it safe or appropriate to let Jynth be the one who brings her to the Northern Weyr. It’s a green and their rider who bring her and leave her in the middle of the bowl, where she blinks about at her new surroundings in a somewhat dazed manner, the stress of being away from her blue and keeping his objections and anger (and determination to disobey her) forcing her features into stern, tense lines. She has to ask the nearest passerby to tell her which of the weyrs belongs to the Weyrwoman, in so stilted a fashion that they stare at her for a moment before supplying a response, and, with an answer given, she turns to head across to the weyr she’s been informed is Rori’s.
Inaskashath is lounging on the ledge outside of the Weyrwoman’s weyr and the eye that greets Nala as she approaches is flickering red. Rori is dressed for her day in a layered dress, her hair is pinned up off of her neck, and she’s sipping tea. She sets it down once Inaskashath announces Nala and smoothes her dress briefly before she moves to greet her wife. The interior of the weyr is sparsely decorated, no attention paid outside of basics needed for comfort and seating. There is no smell of any freshly baked goods and other than the hearth, it doesn’t appear that there would be a place to bake inside. “I’ve missed you,” she says as she sees Nala and moves to hug her warmly.
Nala more clings to Rori that hugs her, unconsciously leaning her weight into her as her fingers curl and form a solid grip that might actually leave marks when she lets go. When she realises that she’s putting more pressure on her wife to hold her up than her own two legs, she straightens enough that she can just tuck her face into the crook of Rori’s neck and stay there for a while with her eyes pressed tightly closed. “He hates me,” she eventually rasps. “They hate me.” It’s all the acknowledgement she gives what she’s seen of Inaskashath’s gaze, having been determined not to note it on her way past. And still, when she draws herself back to her full height, she smoothes a hand over Rori’s hair and murmurs, “You look well.”
“I know we talked about keeping him away… next time, Inaskashath and me will travel. We’ll go to our cothold and… it’ll be the four of us. As it should be,” Rori answers, not as ready to move to far from Nala as she reaches to hold the hand once it’s done brushing along her hair. “It is as it always is when I’m the Senior. There’s little to no time to bake and I field a lot of complaints. At least…, well. At least the Weyrleader seems to be keeping to his own tasks.” She tugs Nala along to the overstuffed couch she has and settles herself down against a cushion. “Tell me all about Honshu. How are things? How are you?”
Nala settles herself back against one arm of the couch and opens her arms, giving a gentle tug to Rori’s middle in the hope of drawing her into them so that she can envelope her. “What if that makes it worse for her when she rises?” she asks quietly. “I do not want to make it dangerous for either of you when that time arrives.” She makes to prop her chin on Rori’s shoulder, pressing a kiss to her cheek. “There appears to be some unrest among the Crafter community at Honshu. They dislike having to participate in drills more frequently and claim it is a waste of time when Thread is no more.” She shakes her head a little. “It is a foolish way to think. To be so complacent and ill-content with a life that affords you the chance to do as you wish more often than not… They do not appreciate what they have.”
Rori can’t help the sigh that escapes her as she tilts her head back into the couch and looks to Nala. “I don’t know what’s right for any of us. It’s not as if she isn’t talking to him and checking on him, despite the distance. When she glows… we can keep them apart. We can keep them apart here at Benden so we don’t have any contentions brought against us. But we should be allowed time in our own home, to be together.” She curls her fingers against Nala’s and raises them to her lips. Her brow puckers at the news shared. “They have new leadership. They had to have known things would change. It’s not as if B’lian is a Crafter as O’rlen was, or Priska. I don’t think Priska will make it easy for those who do protest. Though I don’t know much about how B’lian handles these things.”
“Did I tell you that B’lian decided I ought to be a wingsecond?” Nala questions, the knot not one that is present at her shoulder. “I informed him that the timing was awfully convenient and more than suspicious. That I would not be bought. I know full well than his intention is to distract both me and Jynth, but there was little fighting it. He may well regret it, if he believes I will go soft on anyone wilfully or dangerous ignorant and lazy.” Her hold on Rori tightens a little. “What of Benden? This is surely a far more dangerous nest of vipers than Honshu will ever be. Have you made any discoveries as to how far their former leaders’ thinking has taken hold of the rest of the place?”
“You should be a wingsecond,” Rori answers Nala firmly, “as you were once a Weyrlingmaster. It stands to reason if B’lian needs his dragonriders to step it up as //riders// you and Jynth would be a good fit for it.” She shakes her head and looks towards the entrance to her weyr. “I haven’t found out much since coming here. The Headwoman was more than a little disgruntled at my ‘qualifications’; and what she really means, is that I am married to a woman. Regardless, no one has stepped out of line and the Weyr is running smoothly. I was able to negotiate new tithe contracts with Benden Hold, which should save the Weyr in the long run. All the Hold wanted was more access to our riders for shipments of their wines.” She shakes her head and smirks at Nala. “Leave it to Benden… to focus on wine.”
A low note of scorn rises from the back of Nala’s throat. “I am half-convinced that those who are so concerned about people of the same gender marrying are only overly worried that they have some inclination of the same nature and only wish to loudly deny it.” Her smirk is most definitely nothing akin to a smile. “Perhaps she ought to be pressed about it and found a nice wife of her own.” She nudges her nose along the line of Rori’s jaw and presses a kiss there. “As long as you are safe,” she says quietly. “If you are in any danger here, from anyone at all, Honshu and Fort should send support. You are very good at what you do, but you are aiding them more than yourself, especially given…” A sigh escapes her. “What we cannot change of what else they expect.”
“There may come a day when I no longer go to whatever Weyr requires my immediate support. Perhaps Benden will become mine,” Rori toys with the ends of Nala’s hair, content by her wife’s closeness. “I have a feeling were I to ask for it, especially with all that I have contributed to Fort, and Honshu… that maybe, it could be.” She sighs and shakes her head and glances around her weyr. “I’m just not sure this is the life I want. Where I have moments of peace to myself, but otherwise it’s long days with little to no thanks.” She hugs Nala to her suddenly. “And it keeps you away from me. That’s worst of all.”
“If you wish to keep Benden, that it keeps us apart should not decide you,” Nala replies, letting her fingers idly wander from Rori’s ribs to her hip. “I think it is quite plainly what they want. In sending you here, they gain Benden’s stability and they no longer have to worry about Inaskashath mating with a blue.” She draws back enough that she might look down at her, her palms settling at her middle. “Rori, if it turns out that this is what you wish, then you should take it. If this gives //you// stability and fulfilment, when the worst of bringing Benden into line is over, then you should remain here. You and I… we have the cothold. Somewhere that is ours. You need never worry again, nor wait for another Weyr to uproot you for their gain.”
“I would not live apart from you for the rest of our lives. Would you want to join me at Benden? If you don’t see yourself joining me, then I will do what I can to right this Weyr and we will wait until another goldrider is sent to claim it.” She smiles then, tipping forward to kiss Nala’s cheek and nuzzle her nose briefly there. “I’d only come if we could have a life here. If it’s not possible, then we will return to Honshu and live as we can. Pern cannot always have need of me to help a Weyr,” Rori’s voice is dry as she adds, “Unless it keeps having a habit of goldrider’s losing their minds.”
“…It is not a matter of whether I would want to join you here,” Nala replies, flinching as what must be Jynth grabs a firm enough hold on her mind to drag serenity from her. “If I were here, it would not settle the matter that so many condemn us for. I could never promise you that I could keep Jynth from chasing her or catching her for the rest of our lives, and if it happened while you were a Weyrwoman, then the Council would stride in all over again.” She closes her eyes for a moment. “To be apart during the day, but to have a life that is ours and free of public commentary may be the best that we can hope for. It would not mean we feel anything less for each other… You should not sacrifice the opportunity to do what you are good at and have a voice.”
Rori moves to lay down on the couch, placing her head in Nala’s lap without saying anything further on the discussion. She lays like that for a moment, reaching for Nala’s hand to tug near enough that her fingers can idly sweep up and down her arm in a soothing gesture. “Nothing needs to be decided now. We’re assuming that I’m going to even enjoy having this knot. I never wanted Honshu’s. And Fort wasn’t mine to have either. Enough about the knot… are you well? How is Cinder? I can probably find reason to spend more than one night away from the Weyr. We can meet at the cothold in a few days?” she proposes with a smile aimed upwards.
With her other hand, Nala gently tugs at the tie in Rori’s hair to free it, so that she can gently run her fingers through it as she speaks. “I can probably swap a rest day with one of my wingmates,” Nala murmurs. “I believe B’lian has more to concern him than one wingsecond taking a few days off.” That, she cannot help but comment a little more dryly than before. “The person I bought Cinder from suggested that she was of an age and temperament to make a good dam. There are others who use her breed for hunting and assistance with transport. I have valued her company and it seems right that others might have the opportunity to have such a canine for themselves.” She curls the ends of Rori’s hair around her fingers. “You could keep one, if you wanted to.”
“I have missed her company as much as yours,” Rori teases with a smile, “without her here, I have no one to slip my scraps to under the table.” She smothers a yawn into the palm of her hand and blinks a few times. “You should breed her. She can start a new line. One that doesn’t always require hunting. More for support. I would imagine it would feel good if I went in to some of these meetings with a large male canine and had them rest at my feet.” She shakes her head and reaches a hand up to press her palm into Nala’s cheek. “We have to promise not to stay apart so long. I’ve missed you desperately. Just… the normalcy of being together. It helps make everything else… easier.”
“Oh, I see how it is,” Nala drawls, allowing humour to brighten her gaze when it so rarely touches her lips. “Well, I will find a partner for her and then you can choose which of the puppies you wish to keep. I am sure she will be glad to keep one of them in her life.” She catches at Rori’s hands and presses her lips to the backs of her fingers. “…If I can tire Jynth out with work or chasing someone… Maybe I can get away and he will not inflict such a headache every time.” That, he must not appreciate, for she winces again. She shakes her head and sits up a little straighter, reaching to gather Rori to her as she does so. “For now, we should make the most of the time we have. I am assuming they furnished you with a bedroom?”
“I have a bed,” Rori says with a delighted laugh as she stands up from the couch. She reaches for Nala’s hand and tugs her through the weyr towards the bedroom. She doesn’t bother to shut the door behind them once they’re inside and she’s quick to remove her dress before she goes after Nala’s. “We’ll talk later,” she declares before she moves them to the bed.