Who: Nova and Akemi
Where: Silverfield Hold, Honshu Territory

Over ten days, Silverfield operates in a hushed fear of losing its Lady, for infection and fever claim Nova to an extent that she, six days in, she’s brought down to a pleading Yukijiath so that they might go together if the worst happens. Thankfully, for the both of them, that doesn’t occur, though it takes another four days for Nova to become aware and alert enough to hold conversations with the Healers who have tended her, who inform her that there is no chance of her having any more children and that her recovery will be a slow one. The Harpers who visit bring her somewhat up to speed about the state of her marriage and children, informing her that Aerishani brought Zaimika and Zio to the Harper Hall for protection, and that statements are being gathered from Siilverfield’s staff and residents about Akio’s behaviour. Of his fate, she doesn’t enquire, only of Yukijiath and Akemi and her people, and after the women who have previously aided her have helped her to bathe and into a clean nightgown, she’s left propped up in bed with a bowl of broth on a tray in her lap, spoon foregone.

Akio and Veruth had taken themselves to Honshu in order to find shelter with the fallout with Nova and Silverfield. Veruth may have found peace in the company of other dragons but it ultimately was short-lived. The Smithcraft used Akio’s fallout at Silverfield as a reason for their own stripping of Akio’s knot as the Smithcraft Hall has decreed no Mastercrafter may be a dragonrider – or a Lord – one must have one title and that is it. With his knot gone, his marriage dissolved, Akio and Veruth find themselves unwelcome at Honshu. Before tensions can escalate too far, a bronzerider descends on the outside of Honshu’s territory and it is rumored that Veruth and Akio both disappeared Between with him. Akemi has been at Silverfield for the full ten days of Nova’s recovery. Akemi has been a quiet figure at the Hold, choosing to keep to herself when not at Nova’s bedside. She is returning to the room with tea and seems pleased to see Nova propped up and food in her lap. She moves to sit herself in the chair close to the bed. “You should eat it while it’s still warm,” she encourages Nova.

“If I spill it all over myself, you’re to say you saw nothing,” Nova insists, glancing from Akemi and to the bowl, which she cups with her palms and slowly manages to lift to her lips, though not without evident tremors. She sips carefully at the broth, then lowers the bowl when it feels too heavy for her to keep raised up. “Aerishani’s going to go and get the children back from the Hall tomorrow,” she says quietly. “Taking them there was a better idea than I would’ve thought of, truthfully. It was the only way to avoid political fallout and seek safe and neutral asylum.” The contents of the bowl has her full attention as she murmurs, “…She offered to… explain… to them about the baby.”

“If you think that it coming from Aerishani and not myself, or you, is what the children need – then she should tell them the news. Otherwise, that is something to tell them when you’re ready. Zaimika’s probably the only one who would truly understand. Zio, I’m not so sure,” Akemi leans back in her chair and glances up at the ceiling. “They probably know Aerishani best at this point.” She shakes her head and sighs. Her hands move to scrub at her face before she drops to her lap and looks at Nova once more. “The Smiths have stripped Akio of his knot and he seems to have disappeared from Honshu.” She pauses, trying to gauge whether or not Nova already knows this information before she adds, “I’ll find him and deliver his divorce papers to him as soon as you tell me to have Maozheth feel for Veruth.”

Nova swallows hard before admitting, “…I don’t know how to explain it,” and then, “I don’t… I can’t face them asking questions.” She lifts the bowl again and makes herself drink down some of the soup, if only to try and distract herself. News of Akio is met with impassivity and a distance to her gaze, there seemingly being no indication of her intention to give a response, the silence filled by her taking another mouthful of broth. “I understand that I was only ever a means to an end for him, and that he took me for a fool, but if he was prepared to treat me as he did, I can’t, in good conscience, ask you to do that,” she says eventually. “He won’t be happy that the Smiths took his knot, or that I’ve divorced him, and he could take all of that out on you.”

There is a sharp glint that enters Akemi’s face as she leans forward, moving to rest her hand on Nova’s thigh. “He is my twin. He has already taken everything from me twice. First, a future that I was forced to accept. Even if it brought me freedom. He did not ask me to help him and he would’ve destroyed our parents. Second, the future I built with you.” She shakes her head and removes her hand from Nova’s thigh. “I need to find him and he needs to hear from me all that he has done. If it comes to blows, so be it. I’m not unfit. I will knife him if I need to. To see the state that he brought you to… and this Hold… and the impact to our children.” Her eyes narrow. “I’ll end him.”

Nova darts a look up at Akemi, then away again, shame writ large across her features. “How you can ever forgive me for walking into his trap… I don’t know,” she confesses, keeping her head ducked. “I have no opinion about what you do to him. I find I don’t care what his fate is, as he didn’t care for mine, or that of the son I’ll never know. If he perishes, so be it. I wish I could bring myself to care for Veruth, but that’s what brought me to this.” She shrugs one shoulder. “They’re nothing to me. We can only hope Zio doesn’t turn out like his father.”

Akemi stands up from the chair and moves to seat herself beside Nova on the bed. She takes the broth from her hands and leans down to set it on the side table before she clasps both of her hands around Nova’s. “I won’t let us do that. I won’t have you believe I am seeking your forgiveness. I have not once asked for yours more than that once. I should have known better, about Akio. I should have fought harder against him. I was tired,” she confesses, shrugging, “tired of always being second to him. I had to go away and sort myself out. And Fort was the place that I needed to go. I have hoped, all this time that we’ve been apart, that you two were happy. I never once wanted this for you.” She keeps her hands firm around Nova’s. “I am of the same blood as Akio. I do not believe Zio will turn into his father. That was… that’s something Akio is unique for. None of my family was as selfish as he is. I’ve never thought about going back to tell my parents what became of us – of me. If they’re still living, perhaps I should find them. So I can show you that Zio comes from kind people. I don’t want you thinking Akio is all of us. He isn’t.”

As Akemi moves, Nova watches her only at the periphery of her vision, until she reaches to take the bowl from her and she all too easily surrenders it. She listens, darting the occasional look up at her and testing what strength she has to cling to Akemi’s hands, and, try as she might, she can’t quite stop the tears that silently slip free. “…I should have fought for you,” she tells her, pressing her eyes closed. “You were never second; not for me. He may have thought he was first, but that’s what he thinks of himself in all things.” She smiles sadly. “Your family would think I’ve been awful to you and they’d not be wrong. Still… Zio will never know my family… It would be nice for him to know yours. His, I mean. Zaimika too. She’s never been anyone’s but yours.”

Akemi shakes her head and offers Nova a sad smile. “You forget, my family valued Akio over me. He was their future. That is why I tried to uphold it for them, when he wouldn’t. We could try and find them. I’m sure my parents are too old to keep up their trader lifestyle. Perhaps they’d want to come live here with us and the children. To help raise Zaimika and Zio. That’s what they would’ve done, anyway. Only they’d still travel with us or Akio. Traders… it’s a different life.” She shrugs and looks down at their joined hands. “If you wish it, I’ll find them. And I’ll see if they’ll come live with us.” She looks up at Nova and her smile has a little more light to it. “It’ll be a good distraction for us both, I think. To try and move past what Akio has done.”

“It shouldn’t be if it’s what I want,” Nova gently insists. “If they’d treat you like they did before… or make you feel like less… then they shouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t want that kind of reminder here for you all the time.” She tightens her hold on Akemi’s hands a little, though she only manages it for a short time. “When I’m back on my feet, I’ll be moving into new quarters. The Headwoman and the mindhealer suggested it would be… for the best… to close these and try to forget what happened here.” Lapsing into silence, she bites down on the inside of her lip. “…Would you want to… move into them with me? I’ve missed sleeping in the same bed, like when we were weyrlings. I’ve always missed that.”

“They might have changed Nova. I gave Akio a chance… and yes, he proved to me he did not change, and he hurt you deeply and put our children at risk for his own ambition. However, my parents deserve a chance. You’re right, the children deserve to know their extended family. I don’t know much about C’aol’s people… so, let’s focus on my parents for both of them for now.” She reaches for that bowl of broth and hands it back to Nova. “Finish this while we talk. You need to keep finding ways to rebuild your strength.” She moves to seat herself in the chair once more. She glances around the room and then looks to Nova. “A fresh room would be nice.” Her eyes go distant for a moment as she speaks to Maozheth. “I will have to talk to Isolwyn again. To see if we can look to moving here again… permanently. My time at Fort is not technically over. I feel like I have done well for them but I still am bound to honor them.” She looks at Nova, face pinched. “You know that I wish to be here full time again.”

Nova summons a moment of dry laughter. “If C’aol turns up and starts accusing me of putting Zaimika in danger, I think that will just about finish me off,” she mutters. She’s obedient in accepting the bowl back, but it takes her a moment or two to summon the strength to lift it again. While she can, she drinks as much down as she can manage, then has to settle it back in her lap. “If it will put you at odds with Fort, you shouldn’t push the issue. Especially not if it’s been a good home for you. That shouldn’t be sullied by what he did, no matter why you’re there.” Her hands remain around the bowl, warming them. “I can wait as long as it takes.”

“I have permission to be here until you are well and you are only just starting to regain your strength. I’ll leave later today to check in with Isolwyn and ask what next steps I can take. I didn’t get the impression that she was willing to free me of my duty, however — she did say I would owe Fort. I’ll ask how else I might pay Fort back,” Akemi answers and then she considers Nova for a second. “We could see if a tithe may do it. I don’t want to burden you or your people for it. I technically owe them another year and a half or so… that is a long time to be apart from you if there’s need of me.” She sighs and flicks her hair through her bangs. “Our life has always had shades of complicated to it. I suppose we shouldn’t expect that to end any time soon.”

“Knowing them, it won’t be something as simple as a tithe.” Nova takes a deep breath and lifts the bowl again, draining the last of the broth. “There’s a Fortian queen at Honshu. Maybe they’d be content enough with you performing duties for the Weyrhold. That said, it isn’t as if we couldn’t afford a tithe. C’aol already receives money from the Hold. Perhaps we could settle land on his other daughter or a future…” her shoulders slump only just enough for the motion to be perceived, “…child.” In an obvious effort to move on from those thoughts, she murmurs, “Yukijiath is glad Maozheth is home, as she sees it.” She ducks her head again, this time to try and conceal a yawn. “I’m not sure I can stay awake much longer,” is a rueful admittance.

Akemi is thoughtful and quiet as Nova shares the news about Fort’s queen being at Honshu. “I should offer to go and transfer to Honshu to protect Priska. For her future goldflights and for any of their juniors. Leaving it to a greenrider may be fine, but Maozheth is unphased by goldflights. And it’d give Priska another Fortian to have at Honshu with her.” She shakes her head and smiles as she stands up from the chair so she can bend over to press a kiss on Nova’s forehead. “Sleep, love. I’ll handle the affairs I need to so I can be by your side.” She takes the bowl from Nova’s grasp and settles blankets about her. “Rest.” She watches her for a moment before she turns and leaves. She exchanges a few brief words with the healers in attendance outside of the room and then she and Maozheth enter the skies to turn to Fort for solutions.

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