Hannah, Q'fex


A parting of ships in the night; a final farewell.


It is midmorning of the twenty-eighth day of the first month of the second turn of the 12th pass.


War Room, Southern Weyr

OOC Date


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War Room

Within this room there is a constant buzz, a low-pitched thrum of activity no matter the time of day — or night. Here are the records for the current leadership, and pertinent information for the time: inventories and star-charts, ledgers and tithe manifests and wing records. Such valuable information is kept twice-watched by two disparate forces: a guard at the door and the archivist at his table, and none quite sure which of the two is more dangerous.

Timor: moon7.jpg
Belior: moon6.jpg

-- On Pern --
It is 9:08 AM where you are.
It is midmorning of the twenty-eighth day of the first month of the second turn of the 12th pass.
In Southern:
It is the eighty-eighth day of Summer and 105 degrees. It is sunny and bright. White fluffy clouds drift lazily across the china blue sky.

Out with the old, in with the new. Q'fex has, in the process of cleaning out his old weyr, found ledgers that rightfully belong here — so therefore the lean man is here to return them. He's settled at a table, ignoring the posted guard to continue his careful penning of whatever it is he's documenting in the last bit of this ledger. He's the only one in the war-room, and if the glow-lights seem dim and listless, it must be in honor of the bittersweet edge of the moment.

Hannah's steps have ever been light, patterned in soft sounds that rarely gave her position away and it's no different today, on a bright summer morning. Though she emerges into the War Room from deeper in the weyr, dressed in a green dress so dark as to appear black in certain lights. Such as now. Gone is the gentle touch of light summer dresses, no, Hannah has changed and the attire of a junior weyrwoman is not the same as what's needed for Senior. The high-necked garment is spidery-laced at the neck and sleeves, tight around the bodice to flare at hips. Pale hair is woven in braids around her head — perhaps, she dresses for a meeting. "Q'fex," her voice is quiet, different. Harder to pinpoint, but there's a weight to her tiny form that wasn't there before, as there is a natural reserve, aloofness to emerald green eyes. As if she would protect herself from the world. They soften, though, when they touch upon the former Weyrleader.

"Hannah." Q'fex doesn't look up, doesn't flinch at the sound of his voice. He knows the whisper of soft-soled shoes against stone, the calculus of the elements composing this moment. He finishes a line, settles his stylus to a side and blows lightly on the ink - real ink, for real parchment - to hasten its drying. Only then do his dark eyes lift, inscrutable, to the goldrider's. He doesn't focus on the change of hair or clothes, just studies her face for a long moment. His smile is faint when it finally, suddenly appears; a ghost of a thing it used to be, it is still nonetheless like wan sunlight breaking through the clouds. "Congratulations."

"Thank you," A softening, a loosening of some of that reserve touches on Hannah's lips with the smile given to the former Weyrleader. In so many ways, the now-Senior Weyrwoman has withdrawn from the people around her, distancing herself from the barbed blows that would once have hurt. Dhioth, possibly, would understand the need for such an inner fortress. Trailing one finger to the edge of the table, she falls silent as she approaches the bronzerider. As delicate as always, Hannah is moonlight to his wan sunlight that, in some ways, echoes a long-ago day when everything changed. "You are looking well," warmth infuses the husky voice that lingers in midnight darkness, "I see Br'er," finally a hitch of tease, "takes good care of you." By the sweep of eyes from the top of Q'fex's head to his feet, this is a good thing.

Dhioth would certainly approve for Hannah's level of reserve, indeed. It is always helpful to keep more back than it is to display — even if Kraakenaeth would laugh robustly at such philosophy. Q'fex is too chaotic to truly bend one way or the other on such a subjective topic. "He tries," Q'fex returns, his voice low and touched with a fond amusement that characterizes his affection for the aforementioned greenrider. "And does Th'seus take care of you, my lady Weyrwoman?" He stands still under her assessment: he's never quite regained the bulk that he lost from Kraaken's incident, but his whippet-thinness seems lean and hard instead of the sickly pallor of a scant half-turn prior. He studies Hannah, then, finally taking in the change in her wardrobe; "Or is that within Cha'el's hands, now?"

"He succeeds," Hannah's comment is quiet when she pauses to lean a hip against an empty chair. The dim lighting does much to give the room a quiet, forbidding feel to it as if it waits in baited breath for the proverbial shoe to drop. "Cha'el is Southern's Weyrleader," steady are the green eyes that regard Q'fex, noting the changes in him with a deep satisfaction, "He will care for Southern." Her eyes slip away, more of herself held untouchable. The porcelain pale skin is fragile but for the strength within the woman herself. "Th'seus…" Expression remains neutral, though a fragility is a hint to vulnerability, "… as he usually is." She digs her nail into the grain of the wood, eyes lost to the textured surface.

There is a a flash of something through Q'fex's face, a shuttering of that faint light at the simple declaration of Cha'el's position. His is as restrained as Hannah was during her entry, and his eyes lift from her to examine the ceiling as if to search the truth of bitter irony from the curves of the natural stone. "Indeed." His lips twitch to the side, the worn half of an unsuccessful smile lackluster. His hands smooth over the ledger in front of him, carefully test to see if the ink is dry before he closes the book. It clunks together with a low *thunk* of sound, a deep noise, resigned and final.

Realizing the error of her misspeak, Hannah considers the next thing that comes out of her mouth with care; another change as rushed, gentle words of comfort don't spill from her lips. "Cha'el's responsibility is Southern." So carefully said, so painfully reserved as if the longer she thinks of herself the further back she pulls within. "Not me." A distinction, definite, set in the darkness of a midnight voice that's tempered only by the goodness that lies within. She doesn't jump with the low *thunk* of sound, but she does raise her eyes and afix Q'fex with a long look. Searching look. Whispers writhe in the shadows of the dim glow-lights that throb with the living organisms inside that produce that faint, greenish light. Words swirl like shadows, left unsaid. Old words, new words, future words; it all comes together. Past hurts, current stumbles and future vulnerabilities; all lend a fragile quality to the air they breathe.

"I should feel cheated," Q'fex states, conversationally. As if this is a topic as easy as breathing. "But I don't. Not of… what you would expect." His dark eyes land upon her, as impassive as before, as enigmatic. "I wish Cha'el with every reverent particle of myself the greatest of luck and greatest of reigns. A Pass is not a time for politicking when people are dying." The words are as functional as the man has become, distilled from the crucible of his tenure. His smile, this smile, lopsided and rueful, feels as genuine as anything that can be felt. "I don't even feel cheated, about the — incident." Kraakenaeth falling from the skies, pain fire thread agony and only the blankness of uselessness thereafter. Matter of fact does he deliver it: "I feel cheated that I did not get to see firsthand…" He ceases that line of thought. "I feel cheated that you weren't my weyrwoman." The facts matter less when there is a growling rasp of possessiveness entirely undeserved in those last pair of words.

Hannah meets his impassive gaze, her own no more enigmatic for its aloofness and the soft glowlight flickering against the wetness of her eyes, light refracted to give a sheen to the whites that almost eclipses the emerald color of the irises not consumed by black pupils. "This is why you were a good Weyrleader," she whispers into this hushed moment, her voice carrying a whiff of nostalia amidst the burgeoning power. "And why only another man of similar ideals could follow in your footsteps." Another pause engulfs. "Dhiammarath would have had it no other way." She takes a step closer, watching as he continues, her face not impassive, but giving very little away. His words are examined, picked through, and consumed with tone, tenor and meaning that the man displays. "Didn't get to see firsthand, what?" Some of Hannah's natural curiosity isn't dead, flaring to life beneath the distance she holds herself against now. But that question is only quietly asked, sent into the darkness to be answered or not, because something else needs to be stated. An admittance in the shadows that shift, writhe. "Yes." Powerful, vulnerable; a whisper given that does nothing to balm the gulf made on a long ago day, but it is an agreement that from each side, there exists a similar desire.

There lies a season of sorrows in the expanse between this, the hale son of summer, and that, the rising star of lambent moonlight, winter-bright. This day turns with the autumnal fire of things passing, things ending… things beginning. This day is a day for farewells. This moment a moment for regretful goodbyes, as paths diverge that once laid aligned. Such is life. Such is destiny. "I am glad to know you consider me such. It is not a global opinion." Q'fex leans back, and the light strikes him in such a way to showcase those silver highlights in his hair, more profound for the recent months. His eyes track Hannah and that half-smile rises again, never whole, never hale, not now. Perhaps not ever, if one reads Fate's handiwork into the lean muscle and hard sinew that encompasses his totality. "You," Q'fex quietly states, answering that which was asked, an answer pulled not unwilling… yet the word falls as a gift peerless, surpassing mortal value.

As the season passes, the past writ into the hazy nostalgia of the presence, Hannah's mask falls — briefly — to reveal a maelstrom of torment, fear, vulnerability and something else. She drops her eyes, however, as small shoulders twitch with the expansion of breath, nail dug into the wood of the table. Pathways diverged, good-byes laid in the firmament between them, the now-Senior is pushed further from herself and the here-and-now. Aloof, reserved. Once green eyes find their way back to Q'fex, some part of Hannah — former Hannah — is lost, forever. "Global opinion doesn't mean as much as the opinion of the people who live under you," she quietly states, confident in Q'fex's abilities. "You have loyal riders still." Even though he is not Weyrleader. Fate is a cruel mistress, but never does pity surface in green eyes that seem to collect shadows this day. Admiration, yes. Never pity. A soft sound escapes Hannah's throat, her hand relaxing as she takes this gift and proverbially cradles it in the silence held soft between. In return, she offers a sweet smile, untouched by Weyrwoman and whispers, "If you hear the stories told by some, I was no different than Lendai." Damn K'ane, undermining everything! She slips him a look before dropping her eyes. Another brick to lie in the mortar of the wall to encase the vulnerability.

Q'fex calmly witnesses the inward struggle, concerned not for himself but assessing Hannah instead. He waits for it to pass, or to at least find check in a gulf of heartrending reservation before he moves to stand. The act of finally rising to his feet is paired with the faintest stretch of shoulders, drawing himself upright with a creak of tendon and ligament and heart and soul. He shakes his head, dismissing commentary about him and loyalties with a gently said, "They are loyal to the weyr." Which is how it should be, by the simple rightness of his words, the gentle self-mockery in, "Not some has-been washed-up once-drunk bronzerider who just happened to be weyrleader, once." For all of the self-effacing words, he seems to calmly take them, grown stronger by the bald statement of the truth rather than finding them bitter. He is who he is; he makes no apologies. He crosses the gulf between them one last time, bending down to press a kiss to her forehead, a benediction in his breath that exhales once across her hair. "You are nothing like Lendai," he murmurs. "You are Hannah, gold Dhiammarath's." He straightens, takes a step back. "Senior weyrwoman." A duality to the words: an end of the statement, her title, but also a more tangible goodbye than all the things that have gone unsaid, implied, left for the aether of heartsongs unsung. A glance of dark eyes to the door, a drawing in of a breath that hitches halfway, a gruff-cheeked head that bows in a courtly nod. Finality incarnate in the lines of flesh and blood, carved hard and high as his cheekbones.

Silence. Hannah cannot speak if she would; she takes his benediction with closed eyes and some measure of hurt is brushed from the soul, but it's not Hannah that peers from the green eyes that find his when he steps back, assuming the finality of a good-bye. She is carved of starlight and moonlight, all warmth leeching from the woman to leave her as spun glass: delicate, brittle but hard and cold to the touch. Brief is the quirk to her lips, a sheen in her eyes for the comfort bestowed, but then she's turning away. All the words, the past; everything is burned to ash in what she's become and what changes are wrought in the soul. Torment is sheltered behind a darkness that cloaks and matches the spidery cling of fabric she wears and the elaboration of pale hair wound around her head. That her heart throbs in the vessel in her throat and the smoothness of movement is not yet without it's stutter matters naught. It is the presentation of what's shown to the world that does. "Thank you, Q'fex." Finality here too, in the way she sits and the final push to unreachable places. Small is the smile that touches her lips, but that smile is far, far from the heart. "Check out the hot springs in the Hold, it may help." Maternal cast to her voice is the bleed of Lady's concern for every soul that falls within her domain. While riders are on the ground, their succor is her concern. Their defense, Cha'el's.

"Perhaps." Q'fex casts one look, one last look. Time spun to a standstill too long ago to recapture anything, so with one last deep incline of his chin, one last lingering look past the elaborate design of hair or cling of clothes, he turns and makes his exit. His boots sound crisp on the stone: he only pauses to return the salute of the guard silent by the door. The muffled sound of the door closing is all that chases his exit, the last moment of impact. Q'fex has left the rarified air of the elite — not that he necessarily ever belonged, with his milk-mustaches and sandwiches and irreverence. The future shines bright for this, the new regime of Southern, clean and optimistic… nary a glass of milk nor crumb of sandwich in sight.

Southern's Senior Weyrwoman watches the bronzerider's exit with a quiet calm that instills itself within the midnight darkness bottled within. The sweet, youthful aspect of herself has been distilled into the very essence of power, of responsibility, and it's left in its wake a woman unable to hide the glint of a feral creature within. Wide, emerald green eyes a little too other now to be entirely the same as before. The guard is dismissed from her thoughts as she pulls forward the agenda that's been put together for the meeting that's to take place. Nary a tear nor emotional vulnerability relayed; Southern's Senior Weyrwoman has learned the trick of hiding behind the guards of the abyss. Whatever thoughts may lurk are indecipherable behind the expression of careful, collected neutrality. Which makes her look all the more delicate, brittle. Hannah is lost to her station, rank.
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