Hedara was relaxed. This almost never happened. She was flitting in and out of sleep, but something in the back of her mind told her that she would be permitted to rest. It was quite comfortable in her bed right now, and the warmth convinced her to not try to wake up fully. She turned over her arm rest on the source of warmth. Her not-quite-conscious mind requested more warmth. So she pulled it closer.
Hmm, this wasn’t a pillow. Well it was as comfortable as one, in some ways. So she continued to keep it close.
It took some minutes of her flickering in and out of a light doze for her to catch on. She opened her eyes slowly and peered at who exactly she was hugging. The familiar dark hair and freckles of V’quin greeted her. She stared.
Her reactions had stalled, so she looked at him expressionless for a while.
Perhaps one of the best things about flights, or at least winning them, had to be the absolute sense of contentment that took over him after all was said and done. It helped that he was surrounded by warmth and cozy furs. Peripherally aware that he wasn’t in his own weyr, V’quin stirred slightly as the body beside him shifted and an arm slid over his chest. Mumbling incoherently, his head rolled toward Hedara, his hair a bit of a mess despite being cropped shorter; bits and pieces sticking out in various directions, mussed by both the nap and previous activities.
HIs waking was gradual and involved an jaw-popping yawn as well as a stretch. Lifting a hand to rub his eyes, V’quin finally took in Hedara beside him. She was staring with that unreadable look of hers. No doubt she was trying to overthink things. It wasn’t that he didn’t worry about what Irrikath catching Temperanth would mean for their friendship, but more that he was hopeful that it wouldn’t ruin anything they had.
“Afternoon, Heddy. You alright there?” Rolling toward her, he shifted so that he was facing her, his head cushioned by his bent arm. He was careful to keep a sliver of space between them in case she needed it. This could go two ways; things could get awkward or it would just be one more facet of their relationship. Well three ways...but as good of friends as they were, he knew better than to entertain even the notion of the idea right now. The fact that Hedara had let him in was surprising enough.
V’quin moved, and even then her expression didn’t shift. He yawned. It was quite cute. She didn’t have time to examine that thought in particular, since as V’quin might have guessed she was overthinking things.
Actually she was silently melting down, but it was very similar.
Her mind was working five different directions all at the same time. She was distinctly aware of the different things that had popped up in this moment, some of which she was trying to blame wholesale on ‘stupid flight things’. One of which was that she was very much feeling attracted to V’quin at the moment. Not in the friend way, though that was still present. The problem with that was she had felt this before and recognized she had. That was the problem. Being attracted to him like a woman loved a man was so distinctly foreign an idea to her. It was impossible for her but evidence seemed to point that direction. Perhaps, for most people that had her personality it might have been borne. For her, in her position? It represented a weakness that she couldn’t allow herself. Except, blame it on Temperanth or no, those feelings were making themselves known an hard to deny.
That wasn’t the half of it.
Leaving that aside she knew now that V’quin, by traditions of Weyrs, was now a Weyrleader and that was a terrifying thought. Not because she didn’t believe in him, but because he was her friend and being a Weyrleader of ISW was a dangerous position. Hadn’t she just heard of RMW’s own leader being murdered? ISW was not more loved, and in fact had an active, albeit secret war, ongoing. V’quin was minimally her very good friend, and she did NOT want him hurt. Could she get out of it? She was trying to move ISW into something different, but this was fast if she tried it now. What could she do?
V’quin asked her if she was alright. She opened her mouth, and then closed it. Something, flashed across her face, but it was hard to tell what it might be. What he asked her was hard. She hated presenting weakness. But this was V’quin, he could be trusted. But it was hard. She felt so weak. Too weak to do what she wanted. She couldn’t tell him everything up on her mind. But she would not refuse to answer. When he words did come out they were broken up, a far cry from her usual serious cadence or wry tone.
“I’m…not okay.” She lifted her hand to her head as if she was trying to will herself into being fine. Into being okay. “Stupid sharding Queen.” She didn’t move away, though it was possible it was just that she found her inner world too overwhelming. It was in all truth, because he desire to push him away and draw him nearer was equally matched in this moment and therefore did neither. She wasn’t emotional on the average day, but her feelings fought their hardest to a crippling degree in this time.
Her mouth opened again and she tried to push something out of her mouth. What could she possibly explain? Could she find it in herself to actually explain? A sudden thought gripped her and she grabbed his upper arm with firm grip.
“It’s nothing you did, you were…” Here only somewhat hazy memories of the flight and activities therein came without prompting and as fair as Hedara was it was hard not to notice her face flush somewhat. She stumbled in her words for an adjective. “Good.” Well, she was going to leave it at that. She was trying not to talk about what she may or may not have really thought. “It’s everything else I’m…having to…” She let out an exasperated sigh. That was about all she could manage in one go.
The man’s lips twitched, one side pulling into a smirk as Hedara failed to answer right away. His dark eyes sparkled with laughter. Just as he’d suspected, she was very likely over thinking things. Though the thought crossed his mind that maybe she wasn’t sure what to think. He supposed that he’d probably been a little overzealous; his own feelings toward Hedara had only increased the intensity of the merging of his being with Irrikath’s during the flight. Until that point he’d never really pressed for anything more with the woman beside him; he’d respected her obvious desire to remain...apart from such things.
As she finally managed to string a few words together, it wasn’t exactly what he’d been hoping for, but he supposed he could relate. It was very likely that everything would change between them. His only hope was that their relationship wouldn’t become awkward or strained. Certainly he would do his best to avoid such a fate. Not only did he respect Hedara as a leader, he appreciated her as a friend. With Irrikath’s overwhelming protectiveness still lingering, he was very certain in that moment that he would do anything to keep her from strife.
When Hedara grabbed his arm, her rough fingers digging into his olive-toned flesh, V’quin blinked, startled by her sudden distress. HIs brows furrowed then one popped up in surprise and the man let out a bark of laughter. “Heddy, you don’t have to worry about bruising my ego. Just relax, nothing has to change if you don’t want it to.” Even as he said it, he wasn’t quite able to resist reaching out for a strand of pale hair, rubbing it between thumb and forefinger. She usually wore her hair up and away and he’d always been a little curious how soft it would be compared to the rest of her.
Hedara paused, her expression shifting to only vaguely baffled as he laughed once. He spoke and she suspected she might have been misunderstood. She thought he was talking about… Well she wasn’t, well not yet. Shard everything. He reached out to fiddle with her hair and she really couldn’t help a jab.
“I will have to remember to keep my hair back if I don’t want you to turn into a feline with a toy.” Not that she ever really forgot. It was the one bit of conventional vanity she permitted herself, but she still kept it as practical as possible. She did keep it well, she didn’t see the point in having it if it wasn’t healthy. However, if it ever came down to it she would sacrifice it in a heartbeat if got in the way of anything meaningful.
“I am trying to say that it’s not…this..” She almost choked on the words even as she gestured to both of them. “I am worried about having you as Weyrleader. Which again has nothing to do with you being bad at it, but what with Tiberax and his confederates being more active after W’nal’s introduction means anything…Burn it.” The last words were said as she realized that V’quin didn’t’ know about the recent attacks because of the whole secret fight with the rebels. And she’d let that slip. Which she had been keeping a secret because she wanted to keep him safe. Again.
She swore that Temperanth would feel her ire for the feelings soup that was a part of post flight recovery.
In a brief show of playfulness, V’quin twisted the end of her hair around and used it to tickle Hedara’s nose. The moment was short-lived as he wasn’t so inept as to not be able to read her mood. Something was bothering her and he was more than willing to help her talk it out. Though the more she talked the more he began to wonder if he should be offended or amused at how flustered she was. Then her words actually sunk in and his fingers stilled in her hair and he frowned.
“Wait...Weyrleader?” It was his turn to fluster and bluster about as he rolled to the side and sprawled dramatically beside Hedara. “Shardit...I mean I knew that’s how it worked but...I forgot.” Turning his head toward his bedmate he looked dangerously close to pouting as the reality of all the political crap he was going to be expected to do. He wouldn’t be able to slip into the shadows like Irrakath when he wanted to. He’d teased Hedara about this for ages and now he’d gone and gotten himself stuck in the same position. No, Irrakath had!
“Do I have to? Why can’t W’nal just be Weyrleader and we do the fun stuff?”
Yes, V’quin was certainly a feline with a new toy. The edge of her mouth twitched for a moment, but her smirk didn’t ever properly appear. She rather appreciated V’quin doing as he liked, it helped. Though it brought up other thoughts she wasn’t quite ready to deal with.
Finally V’quin caught on and joined her in the pit of fluster and finally her smirk DID appear. His dramatic realization was at least comforting to her as the sense of they were both in the same boat. As he continued, asking to be let off, Hedara let out a soft unamused ‘ha’. She sorely wished she could.
“W’nal was brought in to help in addition to another weyrleader. Right now the expectations are still for a Weyrwoman-Weyrleader pair at the forefront. It will be turns yet before that can change. Besides, I really do not want to go back to have only two people to handle all the paperwork at the top.” She shifted to look at him properly, he gaze had somewhat drifted as she spoke. “I am curious, what ‘fun stuff’ are you talking about?” It gratified her that V’quin was trying to pull her into absconding from responsibility, but that just wasn’t her.
Groaning rather loudly as Hedara responded in a predictable manner and refused to let him abdicate from his new role, V'quin lifted a hand and draped his arm over his face. The last thing he wanted to think about while naked and under the covers with his best friend whom he'd low key had a bit of a thing for for turns now, was duty. In fact there were at least twenty things he could name off-hand that he would rather be doing than thinking about all the things that he would have to do and all the things he'd have to stop doing. Though as the dreaded p-word was uttered, another dramatic groan escaped the ironrider and he pulled the pillow out from under his head to cover his face.
"Irrakath what did you get me in to?" Came his muffled lament. Of all the flights to participate in, it was one that put him in a position that he wasn't exactly keen on being in. After a moment, V'quin pulled the pillow down and to his side as he turned his head toward Hedara, still looking as miserable as ever. "You know...eating. Visiting other weyrs and eating there. Dancing on occasion. Anything but...paperwork." It was probably one of the main reasons he'd never actively pursued leadership of a wing or anything of the sort. Now he would be expected to document damn near everything that he did for posterity and do math and inventory and all sorts of other nonsense.
"Hedara do I have to?" Rolling toward her, he put in place his best pout and made his dark eyes as large as he could make them as he wriggled closer to her and grabbed for her hand, intending on clutching it between both of his.
His despair at the prospect of paperwork which was amusing, and not entirely unexpected. Cursing of one’s dragon had been her natural response as well. Considering the things he named, she expected that if V’quin actually talked to other political figures, they would probably like him more then they liked her. He was quite likeable.
Suddenly he reached out, grabbed her hand and did his best to give her a full face of comedically adorable V’quin. She was struck with how close he really was to her, and the strange set of conflicting feelings intensified. His hands were warm enclosing hers. She liked warmth. Her mind grasped at ideas, how to handle things, and what exactly she wanted. What she wanted was hard, but simple. It was made harder by her avoidance of talking about her very deep thoughts, and showing of any physical affection.
But her room was the one place she allowed herself to pet her bondeds. She felt safe here.
She took her free arm, reached for his head and leaned in, pushing their foreheads together, touching. Her other hand remained enclosed by his, and she felt all the warmer for the closeness. She hoped she wasn’t turning red. She spoke, softly because she didn’t need to be loud. Truthfully, this was done so she could be quiet, any louder and she might not be able to get her words out clearly.
“Do you trust me?” Her own hazel gaze met his brown one, looking expectant. A trace of the color she feared was in her feature, but not as badly as she might have thought.
His comical mask fell away as the mood shifted and Hedara’s fingers slipped into his short hair. As their foreheads touched, V’quin closed his eyes briefly, drawing in a deep breath and willing himself to be patient. The time for silliness had clearly passed and things had suddenly gotten very serious. His attempt to keep the situation light, to keep Hedara from over thinking things had run their course and now he just clung to the sensation of her breath light against his lips as she spoke. His fingers tightened reflexively around her hand as he opened his eyes and was greeted by her beautiful hazel ones.
V’quin had never been this close before to notice that Hedara had little flecks of gold in her eyes. She might not look like other women or fit the standards of a lovely pernese woman, but V’quin had always found her to be subtly alluring and quite frankly wouldn’t have cared if she was eight feet tall and twice as wide as he was. He preferred her sarcastic and salty company to anyone else.
“Always.” He finally replied, his tone soft and low as his grip on her hand lessened and he slowly pressed her palm to his bare chest, keeping one hand pressed over hers as his free hand moved to her face, his fingertips lightly grazing the edge of her jaw.
In the silence, it felt so tense. When he finally spoke, the single word shot straight through her. It was more then she had hoped, and she could feel her pulse beat a little quicker. The words that escaped her were quiet, barely audible.
“Thank you.” She was sorely tempted, to say something else now. But she wanted to say what followed. It was important. Because if she wanted the impossible (in her mind) she had to give the foundation for that. So she started to speak again, slowly and quietly at the start, but with more confidence as she talked.
“I need to tell you everything.” And she did. Starting way back at the first fight with Tiberax, how she started to take over as Weyrwoman and found a way to wage a secret war, unknown to the Weyr. How she pulled together more people to help, and how RMW’s war with Igen made it impossible for her to fight two wars. How she had put T’vax as a head and how she continued to manage supporting them while keeping the affairs hushed. How Tiberax’s supporters were starting to get loud again now that W’nal was placed in a leadership position. And how she wanted to move the Weyr away from the ordinary Weyrleader system in favor of nominated individuals regardless of rank. Last, and most radical, she wanted to move the entire Nunatak into a council situation because of the closeness of Weyr and Aerie, with the Self Impressed needing a voice as well. “-but that can’t happen until Tiberax is taken care of. He keeps managing to evade us. Now you know. I wanted to tell you because, V’quin, I …” Hedara had slowed her words to a crawl again. She doubted her ability to say anything more. It was huge to her that she had explained it all, even to V’quin, but saying more seemed infinitely harder.
“…I…” He was still too close and too warm. Her heart was hammering along in the forge in her chest trying to make something of it all.
And then something snapped.
“Burn it.” She pulled him to her and kissed him. She might regret this later.
Somehow that single word seemed to change things. V’quin let out a breath he hadn’t even realized he’d been holding at her softly spoken gratitude. Whatever she might have said next, he certainly wasn’t expecting the complete revelation of a secret war that was being waged under his very nose. For turns. In hindsight it made sense why Hedara was so stressed and agitated much of the time and he resisted the urge to pull her closer as she continued to unwind the tangled mess that she was in. More and more things began to fall into place in his mind, things that hadn’t made much sense before but now, with the proper context, left no doubt in his mind.
With T’vax as the leader of this secret army waging a war against his own father, there was only one logical conclusion to come to; Davquil was in on it. His spunky, talkative little sister had managed to keep a secret from him like an expert! He wasn’t sure if he was upset or impressed though with this new knowledge he did question whether or not T’vax weyrmating with his sister was just a cover. His brows furrowed at the thought, but he wasn’t able to obsess over it for too long as Hedara barrelled forward into her hopes and plans for the Weyr. Certainly they would not be very popular with the more traditional folks, but Ice Stone had been moving away from tradition almost since its founding, spurred on by the dragons themselves. What fool denied dragons?
Though it was all a bit much to take in, V’quin knew that he would support Hedara in anything she chose to do. All of her ideas were sound and if she needed Tiberax out of the way for her to bring them to reality then he’d best set his mind to thinking about how to accomplish that. He was pulled from his calculating mind, however, when she spoke his name and seemed to lose her voice. He wasn’t sure he’d ever witnessed her stutter like that. In an attempt to put her at ease, V’quin pulled back just enough to nuzzle her forehead with his lips; not quite a kiss but a comforting motion none the less. “Thank y--”
Before he could thank her for letting him in on her secret, she pulled him in and their lips met. Startled, his heart lurched then began to gallop beneath her hand where he still held it pressed to his chest. His free hand moved to her waist, pulling Hedara closer as he gave in to her demands. He’d be a damn liar if he said he hadn’t thought about kissing her like this before; usually when drunk and not able to properly box his thoughts in.
This was either going to be the best thing that either of them had ever done...or it was going to blow up in their face. But there was no turning back now.