Not Your Fight

Who: Isolwyn, Terse, Casi
When: Month 8, 208 AT
Where: Healer Hall, Fort Territory
What: Isolwyn tries to help.

Whether Isolwyn truly had a reason to go to the Healer Hall is debatable, but it is close enough to Fort that Eosyth can return to the Weyr without the dragon that might bring Terse ever being able to report seeing her at the Hall, and a short skip Between for Casi, who hasn’t ever been far beyond Fort. The room that she’s managed to borrow for a time is just off the courtyard and must usually be used as some sort of relaxation room, for it’s a serene space with more than one water feature quietly bubbling away in the background. She’s occupied Casi with some toys she’s brought along, settled atop a quilted blanket, and leans against the doorframe, looking out into the courtyard as if she’s simply observing the world going by.

Terse finds herself delivered to the Healer Hall by transport of the dragonrider who often takes her requests to travel Between. That she has a particular destination today is of no concern to the greenrider as she drops Terse off in the courtyard. A few quiet requests leads Terse to the room that Isolwyn and Casi are enjoying. She steps inside and looks to Casi first with a fond smile before she looks to Isolwyn. “I’m not entirely sure why your dragon spoke to me. I’m here now. Is there,” she pauses and gathers her skirts together to hold up as she crosses the short distance between them to be closer to Isolwyn. “A matter you wished to discuss with me?”

Isolwyn steps back from the doorway when she sees Terse approaching, and carefully closes the door behind her, keeping a close eye on her in-case it would seem she’d prefer the door to be opened again. “I thought you might enjoy some time… to be as you please,” she tells her, gently ruffling Casi’s hair on her way past. “To see Casi, if you wanted to. If you’d like to return home, I won’t be offended, but it seemed we hardly got to exchange two words, and you’ll forgive me if I didn’t feel like testing the edge of your husband’s apparent temper. I wonder that he navigates any politics at all if he lets impulse govern him so.”

Terse gets a slightly distant look to her gaze as she listens to Isolwyn speak. She shakes her head and says, “Holden is only like that around his brother. He wears a better mask with others. He wanted to get a reaction out of C’aol. They’ve always… I can’t say there ever was love between them.” She shrugs her shoulders and smiles as she looks to Casi. “Is he kind to her?” she wonders aloud and then, flushing, she holds up a hand to Isolwyn. Her long sleeve dips low enough to show bruising on her wrists. “Please don’t take offense to the question. I’ve known C’aol before he Impressed. And shortly after, he’d still visit… but it would seem his bronze brought out more darkness in him.”

“He loves her,” Isolwyn answers without question, while Casi shares a shy smile between the grown-ups in the room. “He’ll never let anything or anyone hurt her. He might never be overly demonstrative, but he’s a good father. He’d do anything for her.” The little girl in question goes back to playing with the coloured blocks and animals before her. Isolwyn looks Terse up and down, her lips pressing together in a grim line. “And unless those,” she gestures towards the Lady’s arms, “are from some fit of passion or ‘accident’, I think that’s the kind of question I ought to be asking you about your husband. You wouldn’t have known you were his wife when you visited.” Rather than probe further, she heads over to one corner of the room and pours two glasses full of a faintly pink coloured flavoured water, one of which she offers to Terse.

Terse offers Isolwyn a bitter smile. “You are a woman or Blood. You know that my marriage was arranged. I had hoped Holden was as he seemed when I was younger,” she looks wistful as she glances to the playing Casi, “I was married to him at 14. My father was eager for the alliance.” She looks to her wrists, then to Isolwyn, “So C’aol marks you and you call it passion? Interesting,” it would seem once the bitterness has descended and the safety offered in the private room has loosened her lips. “Not all women get well matched to a man. My life is not unique in that.” She looks to Casi and adds, “Once I thought C’aol was the worst of them all. I am not sure that’s true anymore.”

“If you believe that I live in blissful ignorance of what your husband and my mate are capable of, then you’re quite wrong.” Isolwyn swiftly drinks down a third of her glass and sets it aside. “Think of me what you will, but I tend to find that there’s a difference between,” she gestures again to Terse’s wrists, “and this…” She lifts one hand to tug aside the neckline of her dress, revealing a faintly discoloured mark with uneven edges in the shape of teeth, long healed more than once. “And let me be clear: I enjoy it. If I ever said no, he wouldn’t touch me.” Pressing her knuckles to her lips, she takes a moment to breathe. “I can’t claim to know anything extensive about you or your husband. C’aol isn’t perfect, but I’m safe and so is our daughter. If claiming you’re with me every once in a while will give you some time to yourself, that’s what I’m offering you. We can make up something I told you that Holden would consider ‘useful’.”

Terse turns to look at Isolwyn and slowly the bitterness fades back into apathy as she considers the words the Weyrwoman is sharing with her. She shakes her head and looks to Casi once more before she looks to Isolwyn. “I appreciate your attempt to help me. I do. I know you mean well. But this isn’t a fight you should involve yourself in. There is nothing to be done about my situation. And like I said, I am not alone in such arrangements. I’m sure there are many women who are married to an abusive man. What option do they have? Leave them? Not all of us get to go to a Weyr for a new life.” She hugs her arms about herself and rocks back on her heels for a moment. “You aren’t even the first one to try, you know,” she adds as an afterthought, “to help me.”.

“Maybe there are many women in are in your situation. I was fully prepared to be one of them, if need be. And no, I can’t help all of them, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to help you, even if it’s only giving you a few hours to yourself every now and then.” Isolwyn twitches a shoulder. “Or some company, if you want it.” She crosses to the middle of the room and kneels down beside Casi, where she starts to help her complete towers and pens for animals. “I may not be the first to try, but I may be the one in the position to do something for you, if we’re clever about it. I can’t save you from what goes on when no-one’s around, that’s true enough. All I can do is try to make it easier.”

“There is no way to make it easier, Isolwyn,” Terse answers Fort’s Weyrwoman softly, as she moves to ease herself into a chair. She fusses for a moment with her hemline and then looks to her. “I go Between after every time he’s had his way with me. He can beat me, he can control me, but he cannot get me with child.” Her smile is triumphant. “Sure, it is ‘my’ failure, however– no heir will be his so long as he is married to me.” She considers Casi and Isolwyn for a moment and then says gently, “I appreciate your offer. Perhaps we can meet now and then so I can see Casi grow. But there is no need for you to try and save me. I am resigned to my fate.”

“I wonder that you seem determined to remain married him, when his behaviour is quite plainly intolerable and his treatment of you abhorrent.” Isolwyn dutifully picks up the wooden runner that her daughter points to and sets it with its fellows. “Letting him marry another seems like the easiest option, unless your honour is in keeping him from treating someone else as he chooses to treat you.” She runs a hand over Casi’s hair and briefly rests her head atop hers. “You understand that if you wish to see Casi… It’s with no designs on her becoming the heir you say you won’t give your husband. If you want to spend time with her, it would be as her aunt, not as someone inspecting her various capacities.”

Terse’s eyes flash for a moment and then she stands once more. “And if I leave him, another will be tortured as I am, as you say. It solves nothing. Where would I go home to? I’d be a disgrace. It wasn’t so long ago that you faced something like that. You know that it is one thing for the man to leave the woman and quite another for her to leave him.” She brushes her hands through her skirts and looks to Casi. “I would never put your child in such a place as to be Holden’s heir. I appreciate all you’ve offered me…, and perhaps, some day soon, I’ll reach out to you to see her again.” She moves to the door and pauses at the threshold before she looks back to Isolwyn. “It may be in her and your best interest to remain in the North.” She leaves with a brief bob of her skirts as a goodbye.

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