Who: Isolwyn and C’aol
When: Month 8, 208 AT
Where: Weyrleader’s Office, Fort Weyr
What: Isolwyn admits where she’s been.

C’aol has been holed up in his office most of the late afternoon and on to the early evening, kept to task by reviewing various reports and requests from the his wingleaders. Some kitchen staff must’ve taken pity on their Weyrleader for he has been delivered soup and bread, which go untouched by him on the corner of his desk. Daeserath is sleeping on the fire heights, having joined the watchdragon some hours ago to keep a surly eye on the comings and goings over Fort Weyr.

When Eosyth appears from Between, she circles over the Weyr for a handful of minutes before drifting down into the bowl, settling near the caverns so that Isolwyn can climb down her straps and take Casi into the nursery and see her safely into the care of the nannies before the two of them head over to the weyrs that house the Weyr’s leaders and queens, one bounding up onto the ledge and the other taking the stairs. Isolwyn removes her lifemate’s straps and abandons her jacket, peering into the weyr for signs of life, then turns to head across to C’aol’s office, where she lets herself in without knocking. She eyes the soup and break, remarking, “You’ve not eaten?”

C’aol looks up from the pile of papers around him and glances towards the soup. “I wasn’t hungry. I think the cook is trying to keep me from getting… what do they call it, ‘hu-angry’?” He lifts a brow at her and shifts himself up from hunching over his desk. “Daeserath’s the one that’s more prone to angry outbursts. I don’t see them making him eat crusty bread and soup.” He nudges the bowl towards her. “Are you hungry? If you don’t want this, I’ll send it back and we can have a proper meal now that you’re home.”

“It is slightly more difficult to throw a herdbeast towards him than it is to offer you soup,” Isolwyn answers wryly, easing herself down into the chair opposite. “Think of the logistics. Think of the mess.” She shakes her head when he nudges the bowl in her direction, saying, “Let’s get something at home. I’ve settled Casi in the nursery for the night. She didn’t cry when we went Between, but I’m not sure that she really liked it all that much.” Taking a deep breath, she hesitates for a moment, then admits, “I met with Terse today. Whatever you may have assumed that her husband does to her, if it’s anything like the conclusion I had drawn, I think you can be sure of it and worse.”

“You know very well Daeserath would delight in the mess. I could see him catching it and ripping it apart just to watch the blood splatter on the hapless fool he offered it to him,” C’aol answers dryly, as close to making a joke as he ever gets. His other brow lifts at the mention of Terse and he takes a moment to gather his papers and set them aside. He leans back in his chair and steeples his fingers against his stomach as his elbows rest on the armrests of his large chair. “What is it that she told you?” he asks in a neutral tone, that hints at a potential angry retort from him.

“Largely that he makes her life a living nightmare,” Isolwyn states, impassive in her delivery of the facts. “He hits her. That he forces her is quite plain, though she didn’t use the actual word and I’m not going to put words in her mouth, no matter what I think.” She folds her arms just beneath her chest. “Her assumption was that I was in the same situation, which I quite bluntly told her was incorrect.” Pressing the bridge of her nose between thumb and forefinger, she utters, “She seemed to like meeting Casi when she was here. I made it clear she would never be permitted to look to her as some kind of commodity, but if she wanted some company every now and then… She won’t take me up on it, anyway.”

C’aol shifts his weight forward from his chair so he can rest his forearms against the edge of his desk. “Holden is the sort of monster who hides well amongst others. You’d never know, looking at him, that he was the way he is. I imagine you were able to pick up on it because he did very little to hide his true nature when they came here.” He sighs and then lifts a brow, considering Isolwyn for a moment before he questions, “Why would you want her to take you up on it? Terse has been married to him for almost a decade. If she hadn’t left him within the first 6 months of their marriage, she probably never will.”

“Because if all I can do for her is give her some time to herself or someone to talk to, or the chance to get to know Casi in an environment I have control of, I thought I ought to do it.” Isolwyn bites down on the inside of her lip, pausing for a moment. “I am very aware that I have you and Eosyth and Daeserath to keep me safe. And, no matter what you think, I’m not under any illusion that you’ve treated other women in your life this way. I’m pretty certain that, half the time, you don’t even like that I feel safe with you. But I do.” She exhales sharply. “I can’t do anything for most women. But if I can use the awareness of my situation to argue to keep other goldriders safe and give Terse a few moments of peace, then I should do it. I don’t expect her to leave him. I just wanted to try and be good to her.”

“Terse has the ability to change her situation,” C’aol says once more, frowning at Isolwyn. “If it makes you feel good to help her… I won’t tell you no. But I don’t know if it’ll help.” He shrugs and looks down at his papers, as if he’s dismissing her. He thinks better on something and looks up at her. “Holden may find out and he will not handle it well. The meddling. I hope you’re aware of that. I can’t— how can I keep you safe?”

“It isn’t about feeling good about it. I don’t… want her to think she has no-one. I could have been her, if not for Eosyth. There are Holder girls everywhere who are her.” Isolwyn gives a tiny shake of her head. “I don’t know that you can keep me safe in this instance. Maybe the best I can do here is not tell you about anything else, so at least you don’t know. Like I said, I might never see her again.” Her dark gaze wanders a little, growing distant. “Eosyth’s inclinations may be… more gentle at the surface, but I think we both know why she’s always known Daeserath is her mate. If necessary, she could incapacitate Holden or anyone he sends after me. Him taking it out on Terse is the bigger risk, and why I don’t foresee being able to see her more than a time or two every few months, or even a year, if she wishes it.”

C’aol’s gaze hardens. “I will hope that Terse knows better than to involve you in her problems.” He moves to stand. “I know you won’t listen to me.” He steps around his desk and holds a hand out to Isolwyn to draw her up to her feet. “You could spend your time helping goldriders. You can’t right all the wrongs in the world, Isolwyn.”

“If I listened to you and obeyed you in everything, would you still want me?” Isolwyn looks up at C’aol as she sets her hand in his, her head tilting in a makes her words at least half a question and not some wry remark. “I think if I were to interfere with anything else pertaining to goldriders right now, people might start to more vocally question why Eosyth and Daeserath’s daughters and our juniors end up leading Weyrs.” Stepping closer, she lifts her other hand to press a palm to his chest. “I can’t right this one. And I’ll be the cause of more wrongs, to someone, one way or another, before I’m gone. Some of them, I won’t even regret. Some of them, I don’t regret.”

“It’s easy enough to answer – Fort is the superior Weyr and we find, train, and support strong Weyrwomen,” C’aol answers firmly, a ghost of a smile showing as he looks down at Isolwyn. “Of which I would not have without you. So, no. I wouldn’t want you to obey me in everything.” He looks down at her as her palm moves to his heart and he tenderly brushes a thumb along her cheek. “I regret few things in my life. And most of them are actions I cannot change or take back. You shaped me. Perhaps you can shape Terse. Maybe she’ll grow a spine and leave my brother. I do wonder where he will go next with his heir bid. I’m amazed he hasn’t disposed of her for not producing one.”

Isolwyn’s eyes brighten with a soft smile and she leans closer, lifting up onto her toes to press a kiss to C’aol’s cheek. “I do like to think I claimed you as soon as I set eyes on you,” she quietly teases, gently tightening her hold on his hand. “Perhaps he’s afraid she’ll talk and be believed. Not that I can see enough people wanting to do anything about it, even if she was. I’m most surprised he hasn’t sired a child outside of marriage and attempted to legitimise them by acknowledging them.” Slow steps begin to carry her towards the door, meaning to bring him with her. “We should probably go and call for dinner before I get ahead of myself and think too long about claiming you. I’m not sure we ought to be caught in a compromising position by the kitchen staff.”

There’s a wicked gleam to C’aol’s eyes as he says, “He may have tried and //he// is unable to sire a child. That would be suitable. End my father’s line at Zaivar. I would not feel sadness over that.” He moves his arm briefly about her shoulders and draws her against his chest for a hug. He steps back and tucks her hand along his arm. “You’re always thinking of claiming me,” he adds as they walk out of his office, leaving the soup and bread behind to be cleaned up by someone else. “And that is as it should be.”

Isolwyn doesn’t deny it, acknowledging, “True enough,” before she adds, “To be fair, there are worse endorsements a person could get.” She manages to behave herself through dinner, though, just before they reach dessert, she strays from her seat and into his lap, bringing her wine glass with her to sip at while she idly loosens ties and fastenings on her attire until she can slip out of her dress and his lap in one move and reach a hand back to clasp one of his and lead him off towards their bedroom, where she sets to keeping him occupied for much of the evening.

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