Diplomatic Liability

Rubicon River Hold - Great Hall

The long, cylindrical area of the Great Hall has been formed mainly by natural processes. This isnt to say that centuries of leveling, expansion and general use have failed to leave their mark on the room. The high ceiling has been left in its natural state, rough with the wear of water and deposits of minerals glittering like distant stars. Massive light fixtures hand from above, retrofitted for use with electric lights. Their style is simple and understated, as if there were no need for gaudy opulent display. This brings to light the massive intricate mosaic set against the western wall - a detailed representation of the holds device. On a field of white, a purple Catherine Wheel over a blue sea, divided as an inverted chevron. Its bordered by a geometric maze pattern in tiles of various shades of gold and black. Smaller fresco paintings depict the typical scenes of hold life here, tall masted ships in roiling seas, herdsmen looking after their flocks, lumberjacks mining the forests for skybroom trees, guards facing down massive hordes of renegades. The furnishings are sparsely placed, chairs and tables lean along the walls more for decoration than function, as its rare to see anyone actually use them. Mainly however, this whole room gives a feeling of great amounts of space, and the power that represents.

The hour is late at Rubicon, well past the dinner bell, and the Great Hall is all but empty of people. A few members of the Hold's serving staff remain behind to do their odd tasks, but the only real source of noise can be heard coming from the direction of the Infirmary. "I just don't understand why you keep leaving," a quiet, young man's voice calls out. Another, softer one answers, deeper, rusty. Dry. "Because I have no reason to be here, Healer. My instructions were sound, and by all appearances, they appear to be working. Explain to me why I should stay?" There's a brief flutter of cloth. "Because," the younger man calls, a bit louder. "All you do is show up at night, you never give any instructions to the Lady Holder's physicians, and you just…give us plans for treatment. What gives you the right?" Tenebrous finally appears around a corner, pulling his hood low. "Because I think I'm right, healer." He stops, turning to face the other, younger man, most likely a junior journeyman at best. "And that's your lesson for tonight. That's why people give orders. Because they think they're right, and they think they're *doing* right. They give the orders because there's not a good enough chance that they could be WRONG. And somtimes, they give them anyway." There's a smile in his voice, but it never reaches his eyes. "You're more fortunate than most, because my orders are rarely given…and I make it a point never to give them unless I *am* right."

Down one of the corridors, in the direction of Lady Ryeira's office a door opens, a quiet-voiced female says something, then that door clicks closed. Moments later the soft footfalls precede the person as she makes her way up the hall. Thea steps into the great hall with carefully measured pace, although her breathing is faster than normal; someone trying not to rush out. Her carriage is erect, head held high, eyes are alert as she enters the great hall, but anyone knowing her well would know there is a slight tension to her posture. She’s out of her depth and trying not to let it show. She's dressed not in riding clothes, but a calf-length dress of moss-green made finer than her usual office wear, her hair swept up into an intricate net. The discussion over there by that infirmary door is none of her business and she intends to pay it no mind, merely nodding politely to the two men without taking note of who they are as she focuses on that door and escape.

"Being right and doing the right thing doesn't always stop people from getting their feelings hurt, you know," The younger healer calls out. Tenebrous merely snorts, turning to face the man again. "Believe me, Toris, I am the last person you need to remind about that. But in the end, there's only truth…and reconciliation, if it goes poorly. Truth and Reconciliation." The woman's greeting passes him by for the moment, so preoccupied is he, but the younger man has the good sense to offer a quiet, "Weyrwoman," as she passes. "The Lady Holder knows how to find me if she needs me. And for Thread's sake, man, keep a closer watch on her diet, would you…" Then he blinks. "Weyr…woman?" His eyes close slowly. It could be Niva…It could be Niva and Moria, come to deliver Ryeira's gift…it could be that…

Thea pauses, her back already towards the two healers and grimaces, giving the door one last longing glance before she turns back, her reply comes as she is turning, "Evening. Xanadu's duties, Rubi-" The greeting falters to a stop as she finishes turning, her eyes settle upon Tenebrous first. Several expressions cross her face - surprise, relief, dismay and wary resignation among them. The other healer is forgotten as she stares at the absent-from-Xanadu healer searchingly, noting the differences in his face and eyes. Her mouth opens to greet him, but the awkward words die upon her lips and she is left speechless and rooted to the spot.

The other healer looks between the two of them for a moment before muttering, "He has that effect on the Lady Ryeira as well." Then he waves a hand and stalks back to the Infirmary door, closing it behind him with a bit of a push. And then there were two: One, a woman in a dress that doesn't fit her, no matter how finely tailored it might be, and another looking out from under a hood, trying to keep a straight face when all expression wants…is out. Finally, he simply bows, as one out to do when travelling, and in the presence of Weyrstaff, rasping, "Ma'am…"

Thea's head lifts proudly, her chin tilting in unconscious attempt to mask her discomfort with formality. The dress and the task she'll grow into; she'll have to. "Journeyman," she replies. Walls are walls and both have them up. She nods, then wavers between saying more and running. Her discomfort wins out as she pivots on one foot and strides towards that huge door, struggling to open it. Once open, she pauses with her back to the room, inhales and turns back, "I… we should probably talk…" But she's not going to make him do it and is steeling herself for a flat refusal to do so.

Tenebrous raises a brow at the mention of his rank, but it's Thea's latter statement that he responds to vocally. "Do you?" One hand moves up to his hood, pushing it away from his face. His hair is lighter, a mark of time in the sun, and is darker, much the mark of the same. Lines of change are there, lines from happiness, and perhaps deeper lines from sadness. "Do we…need to talk, Weyrwoman?" But that doesn't stop him from turning a little and cupping his hands. He whispers into them for a moment, but when he opens his hands, more than air is there. A tiny, recently hatched green rests in his hand. "Go find her," he rumbles to the little thing quietly. "Tell her I'm going to be late. Someting important has come up." The little green yawns once, licks one of Tenebrous' fingers, and promptly vanishes again. Then he turns back to face the Weyrwoman, his face even. "Regardless….we have time now."

"Maybe not so much you." Thea replies with a quiet reserve she never had with him before, noting the tiny green with a faint smile, her gladness for him not verbalized. "I do, if you'd do me the favor of listening." She steps back from the door, allowing it to swing shut, hanging onto the heavy handle to keep it from echoing throughout the hall. She turns and moves to one of the nearby chairs, lowers herself gracefully, waiting for him to join her if he's going to. Shep winks out of *Between* just then, glides to land upon her shoulder, creeps to wrap himself about the back of her neck with a chirp of relief now that she is free to have him back. Far up on a light fixture Ruin appears silently, watching.

Tenebrous's gaze never wavers, even as the two flits arrive, but he does smirk a little. "I never thought I'd be jealous of a flit," he calls quietly. Only then does he shake his head and turn a little. "Yeah," he says quietly. "I can do that…" He turns away from her then, pacing over to one of the larger colums and leaning his forehead against it. Beneath his skin, the stone is cool, and he closes his eyes. There's a brief shimmer in the air as Reconciliation appears, hovering just above his shoulder. "No, little one," he calls softly, not even bothering to open his eyes. "Not this time. Go home…and keep your little sister company." The little queen warbles mournfully, flapping in the air for another long moment before she vanishes *between* with a tiny hiccup.

Thea can't manage a smile, not even a flicker at the comment about being jealous. She watches the interaction between man and firelizard as Cila appears, then lets out a long quiet breath as he leans his forehead on that pillar. She looks down at her lap and her folded hands that rest there. Silent for a time, waiting to see if he's moving from that column or not, she finally speaks quietly, "I'm sorry I had to leave Cold Stone Hold without warning… or returning for you and Phylicia…" She lifts her head, "My da made it impossible for me to remain there even to wait for you. There would have been… violence." This she says with firm certainty.

Tenebrous nods once, finally turning around to see her. "Your father is an ass, by all accounts, but I assume it would have been imprudent of me to announce that during our visit." He makes a small gesture of dismissal. "I assumed your leaving probably had something to do with your discomfort, either with me or with your homecoming. Don't let it trouble you. The two of us returned to Xanadu safely."

Thea nods to this, a bitter smile tweaking her lips, "I know he is." That gesture of dismissal is ignored. "I wouldn't have left you behind to hazard *Between* for my own discomfort. There were holders coming for me, expecting-" she grimaces, "-fulfillment of a bargain. The Weyrsecond decided their disappointment was more fittingly taken out on Holder Thadan than Seryth and I." She's speaking more for her benefit than his. "Turns ago I lost a friend because I didn't communicate when I should have. So you should know I tried. I left a brief note with my ma, but if my da knew it, he'd be sure you didn't see it." Thea continues quietly, methodically plowing through. "I sent Shep to find you with another when you disappeared, but…" She shrugs. "I didn't get the impression he found you, although he came back without it." She lifts her eyes to him, smiles faintly. "Troubled is something I can't just turn off, sorry."

Tenebrous mms once. "And what did you decide, Weyrwoman? To abide by your Weyrmate's decision?" He waves a hand. "It doesn't matter. What's done is done, and I've no right to ask that question, regardless." He turns away again "Oh, I don't imagine your little friend found me. It's very possible that he left that note at Stormhaven… my apprentice may have found it, but…I havent' been there in a long time." He paces over to one of the deeper chairs and lowers himself into it. "No…troubled…is something you can't just turn off…"

Thea's chin tips up at both the continued use of her title and his assumption. Her answer is cool, "I chose to abide by my -Weyrsecond's- decision on that matter, Journeyman. That he is my weyrmate was secondary in my response." The correction contains a slight reproof in it. "Please understand. Weyr policy is we do not engage holders in conflict. Especially if it can lead to violence… or death. And in this case it well could have." She takes a deep breath, willing tension to leak from her shoulders as he crosses to sit in one of the chairs. She nods to the mention of Stormhaven, sorrow on her face at the abandonment of the place. "I'm sorry." The words are breathed softly, "For everything."

Tenebrous laughs softly, leaning his head back to stare at the ceiling. "OH yes…diplomatic liabilities. Do you know, before Master Fraille signed off on me taking an apprentice, she wanted me to go and ask Weyrwoman Niva what a diplomatic liability was? I didn't understand why she was so…adamant about me learning that, but I get it now." He waves a hand. "Weyr policy…The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." Her apology has his head snapping up, eyes hard. "That's dissapointing. I don't regret any of it except for that last part." He gets his hands under him and pushes up. "I'm sorry to hear that you do."

Thea just gapes at Tenebrous for a moment in disbelief. "It isn't all diplomacy or the Weyr's image. It's…safety. Enraged dragons can…" She's striving for patience, "So what would you have had, then? Seryth shot with arrows? *I* could have been the one killed, did you think of that. Journeyman?" She clamps her lips shut on her ire over his sarcasm. His next words have her affirming. "I -do- regret. You were hurt, he was hurt." This is said firmly, meeting his eyes with her expression unapologetic for saying it. "I don't like hurting people. And I won't go on doing it." She lets out a long breath, "I love D'had, Tenebrous, whether you believe that or not, I do. And I told him we are not close friends anymore. Your disinclination to even use my name proves that."

Tenebrous paces over to the doorway out. When Thea finishes speaking, he turns to look at her again, his free hand on the side of his hood. "You know that's not what I wanted, and you know that's not what I meant, Thea. You regret? You regret what you said, what you did? The love you offered me, confessed to me? And now we're not even close friends anymore, that even before we talked. You were my best…" He chokes on his words then, and when he can finally speak again, his voice is soft and resigned, even apolagetic. "I don't understand," he breaths. "Friendship or love, I don't understand them, and I thought I did…and I'm sorry…"

Thea shakes her head, watching him walk away, "No, I didn't really know what you meant by diplomatic liability, Tenebrous." She lets it go with a shrug. "Regret yes." She's firm on that point. "In retrospect, I think I was simply confused. By many things. We have very different opinions about what love is. I let you sway me briefly with the persuasive arguments you gave, but I cannot change what I know in my head and heart to be right for me… into something else." From the tone of her voice, she's not going to argue it all over again. As to what she did, "A kiss or two… I told him about that, you know. Told him it was my fault. He's angry, but not with me. And being close friends would complicate things for you… for me." His words about understanding have her nodding, "Friendship and love are complicated sometimes, I'm afraid. But this is my choice and I am at peace about it." She raises her head to look him with a clear-eyed gaze. "He is my choice. And I am his."

"I…swayed you." The words are dead and hollow. That free hand pulls his hood up slowly, and he opens the door without a noise. "My apologies then. Goodbye, Thea." And then he steps out, allowing the door to close behind him.

Thea remains still for several long minutes after Tenebrous has gone, looking down at her folded hands, clenched tightly until the knuckles are white. Finally she whispers, “Throw you to the winds.”

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