Work Header

It's a Curious Thing

Work Text:


It's a curious thing to be happy.

Syenite does not have the trick of it. So she scowls at the rare warm beautiful day. She scowls at the sunlight that reflects brilliant gold on the blue water and the white capped waves. Like a burst vesicle spilling everywhere.

She curls her lips at the pink flowers that have decided to show up on the useless plants that cling to the hard bare rocks, which refuse to absorb any rain. Plants with thick meaty leaves that can't be eaten or used in any way.

The flowers keep blooming.

She lowers her eyebrows at the puffy white clouds floating in the wide blue sky.

They kept drifting in pleasant shapes despite her brows.

The children have brought up rags that have been stretched into tight shapes over thin light sticks. They are ridiculous things with long woven grass tails knotted with shells. Bits of broken pottery and shells are tied into the strings that they use to pull the silly objects behind them as they run. That they set on flight on the brisk salt wind coming off the sea. The children run and shriek up and down the green slopes dragging their colorful captives behind them; even as those captives struggle to break free on the wind.

Syenite can sympathize.

It is ridiculous.

Coru feeding in the sling on her chest takes a moment to detach his lips from her nipple – greedy beautiful wonderful thing – to laugh at the bright colors in the sky. Sometimes, she can't even believe that she and Alabaster made anything or anyone so happy.

All it lacks, so of course this is what happens, is for Innon to launch his own brilliant red and blue bit of ridiculous into the sky. His laugh booms over the high laughter of the children. It invites the young adults of Meov to join in.

A young sailor, whose name she cannot pronounce, and who speaks only Eturpic, which still grinds in her ear and comes rough off her tongue, is flying a kite – they are called kites Alabaster tells her with a smirk – past Innon, who pulls on his string to make his kite swoop and saw at the young sailor's string. In a moment, that's all it takes, the shells in Innon's string cut through the young sailor's kite string and the kite flies free.

Aloft on the wind and out to sea.

That startles a laugh out of Syenite. She doesn't even stop when the people of Meov cheer and someone hands her the thigh of a bird that has been jerked and grilled over a bed of coals. They chatter something at her that she doesn't understand. She doesn't frown at the thigh. She doesn't frown a the words she doesn't know. She licks at the grease and savors the meat. She turns her face up as Innon swoops down to where she's sitting for a kiss of jerked grease from her lips. Grabs a leg that's just come off the fire and tosses a joke at Alabaster, who is watching Innon as painfully as always.

She shares some meat with Alabaster, who is too much of a rusted idiot to eat on his own.

She sits with him as they watch Innon attack strings with his ridiculous kite that cuts strings in the air, until his kite loses the war and heads off to sea.

She and Alabaster do not touch, but when Coru is done feeding, she hands him to Alabaster to cradle against his bony chest.


It's a curious thing to be bored when there's so much to do. It's a curious thing to have the freedom to do nothing.

Syen doesn't have the trick of it. There's always been studies and tasks and her Guardian and Fulcrum. She does not have the trick of boredom.

It's been raining for weeks. There's damp on top of damp. Syen tells herself that the rain is good. It fills the cisterns that some rogga made. The fact of which still baffles how she shapes the world. Not the cisterns. Water is something everyone needs. But the idea that Innon feels free to boom with laughter. That everyone is comfortable with what the headman, Harlas, is. That some long ago rogga made a deep cistern and lived in one place long enough to drink the water that filled it. When the only source of water is what falls from the sky.

Harlas has told her stories about the columns and arches shaped into the stone around the cavern. Boredom made those. Some long ago rogga, possibly drunk, possibly in love, possibly both, made them.

She couldn't blame them. Syen is bored. She has nothing to do but repair fishing nets and gut fish and dry fish and smoke fish and admit the smoked fish does taste good.

It's especially good when Innon decides the weather's not good for piracy and stays in bed. They feed each other smoked fish while sharing the wide space of their bed.

Coru's off with the women somewhere. Being told a story or cuddled or fed. Syen doesn't care. She's watching Innon make 'Baster beg while she strokes herself and sucks on a piece of smoked fish like candy. There's rain outside the wide windows of their room. She could get up to close the windows, but there's no wind. Not with this exposure. Just rain falling like it's fallen for weeks growing mold on top of mold. Beyond that the hiss-purr of the sea.

She molds herself to Innon's firm buttocks and lets her hips move with the motion he makes inside Baster. Hiss-purrs like the ocean. To make him laugh. To make him go faster until Baster's all undone and it's her turn.

Innon always has more to give. She's got a fresh pessary in place, and she's more than ready to take without being forced to give.

She tells herself it's a relief from the boredom and collapses into a pile with Innon in the middle. Innon somehow hooks a leg over both of their thighs without looking ridiculous given the mass of the man.

She lifts her head off his shoulder and looks at where 'Baster is snuggling into Innon's abs. Perhaps a little ridiculous.

Syen doesn't care.


It's a curious thing to blush like a maiden when she's sharing a bed with two men.

It's the old women in Meov and the young girls and the teenagers and really everyone. But mostly it's the old women when sitting in the hot baths full of water from that cistern, which the children heat with rocks.

Syen is naked, which isn't much of anything. But for some reason, as she leans back and stretches, she never expects old Melva to ask in slowed down and simplified Eturpic, as if speaking to a child, "Stretch like that when taking cock?" The sweet little old woman with a dozen grand-children rounds her mouth and taps her pelvis as if to be clear she means more than one cock at a time. Then follows it up with, "A long soak feels good after."

Which rust it, startles a blush from her. She can't exactly protest that she and 'Baster aren't like that. They've had a child. The entire village can hear through the curtains some form of what they get up to in their home.

But rust it, she and Baster aren't like that.

She wants to protest, but now the young mothers are at it. Discussing words that she can't quite understand, but accompanying them with gestures that now that she's got the gist have her burning from nothing to do with the hot water.

With whatever dignity she can, she climbs out of the water and dries off.

Goes to find where 'Baster is meditating with their child up on one of the high areas of the island. Looks out into the grey foggy afternoon that's common on the coast and even more common out of the sea where there's so much water in the air that everything seems soft. Wrapped in a cool blanket.

'Baster says, "The old ladies make you blush again?"

She's not going to take that from him, so she takes Coru and goes for a walk. She tells Coru, "Innon's out there somewhere being a pirate." Honesty is important. Also, Coru is the only one she can tell this sort of thing.

He's also the only one she can tell, "I want to be out there too. Doing something."

He tells her, "Mama." He tells her, "Down." Which since he's using his words, she puts him down. Keeps an eye on him as he toddles around on the fog wisped hillside with its plants that do nothing except help hold the hillside together.


There's something you should know.

There's always choices. There's always factions who push for war or peace. Who send your story tumbling a certain way.

There's also a good deal of random chance.

Sometimes the wind blows one direction and restless, finally free of your island peace, the Clalsu sails you that way. Sometimes, your ship finds two ships. One ship has cargo to steal and another alongside to guard it. Sometimes, hardly knowing just how strong you are, you push up with stone to sink a ship. Sometimes in your grief at what you've done with the cries of dying sailors in your ears, you go to look at an old wound and heal what you shouldn't.


Other times, the winds blows the other way and restless, finally free of your island peace, the Clalsu sails you that way. Sometimes, that wind sends you to where a ship skirts the coast and it's got a guardian, but not the kind that sails alongside. The kind that chills all power in the hold and it's all you can do not curl into a ball.

But you're you. So you don't.

Those times.

Those times you put up a little bit of chill. It's the ocean. It's the winter. Just a bit of chill to shatter a plank of wood that rides well under the water. Because you can feel at the edge of your sessainae that this Guardian has a charge. A new grit going to their new home and you say, "No." And you say, "No." And for good measure, you say it a third time to be sure.

The Guardian, for whatever reason, sinks with the ship. The little grit, a girl as you once were, floats.

Innon laughs and tells you that cannot follow orders for even a day, which is true.

It's very true. It is how those times, when the wind blows the other way that you end up risking your life over and over looking for feral children one step ahead of Guardians. But really, you've had a lot of practice not standing out and you speak Sanza-mat like a native.

If your new students on their new island home, end up teaching you more than you teach them, that's how the story goes.

Sometimes. Those times.