Last Chapter, Chalkin was deposed, his successor found smelling of shit, and Iantine went back to Telgar traumatized by all he had seen and drawn, to have everyone pester him about what happened and then have a laugh at a piece of art he felt shame about.
Dragonseye: Chapter XIV: Content Notes: Sexual Assault
Clearly, this calls for a celebration. Although the chapter opens with telling us about the way that the Conclave meets once on the day before Turn’s End (the day of winter solstice) for any remaining business or referenda that require votes of more than the Conclave (Eh? Since when do feudal arrangements also have mass democracy?), whose votes are collected on Turn’s End and returned so the Conclave can get the results on their first formal meeting of the year on the first day of the new Turn. The first business this year is getting the new Holder formally installed. Vergerin helps cement that things are different at Bitra by throwing a giant party and paying any extra cost out of his own pocket. (Naturally, Chalkin hid his wealth so well that nobody can find it, and nobody is talking about where it actually is.) Vergerin Kai gets released from his promise to Chalkin not to contest a succession, and names heirs of his own that aren’t Chalkin’s kids.
CROM Hold is granted a probationary status, and then there’s a couple more bits of business before Paulin adjourns, including the need to stomp out a rumor that Chalkin was a cannibal while emphasizing that justice happens quickly and publicizing the trials and convictions of the guards.
Then Clisser gets to watch the installation of an Eye and Finger Rock combination at Benden Weyr, with the understanding that all the other Weyrs will get theirs, too.
For the most part, though, the chapter decides to take an intimate focus on Iantine and his feelings for Debera as he sketches the night away, stopping for a bit to actually listen to the new composition being debuted tonight, the “Landing Suite” that’s going to serve as history for generations to come. There’s also a small bit about how everyone is encouraged to read music and pick up an instrument so that there’s always going to be music available wherever anyone is. It’s certainly a difference between this time and the later Passes, where being able to play well can get a girl beaten and maimed for religious trespasses.
Leopol is his usual self, although he’s clearly taken a liking to Iantine and doesn’t want him to leave the Weyr. And Leopol knows, of course, that Iantine and Debera fancy each other, because everyone knows everyone’s secrets in a Weyr. And K’vin and Zulaya cut a very fine first dance, which appears to Iantine’s eyes like Zulaya is flirting quite heavily with K’vin.
Where I’m going to focus, though, is generally the last part of the chapter, where Iantine and Debera are together and Morath is pretending not to listen in on their minds. Morath has said a few times in the past that Debera likes Iantine, and so Iantine is getting ready to confess his feelings for her…and is going to do so in the way that men of Pern confess their feelings — sexual assault.
“Ooooh,” and suddenly Iantine had a hunch. “Tisha gave all the riders that ‘don’t do anything you’ll be sorry for at Turn’s End’ lecture?” She gave him a startled look. And he grinned back at her. “I’ve been read that one a time or two myself, you know.”
“But you don’t know,” she said, “that it’s different for dragonriders. For green riders with very immature dragons.” Then she gave him a horrified look as if she hadn’t meant to be so candid. “Oh!”
He pulled her closer to him, even when she resisted, and chuckled. All those casual questions he’d asked dragonriders explained all that she didn’t say.
“Green dragons are…how do I put it kindly? Eager, loving, willing, too friendly for their own good…”
That’s once she’s resisted. Keep counting as they happen.
She stared up at him, a blush suffusing her cheeks, her eyes angry and get body stiffening against the rhythm of the dance. They were about to pass an opening, one of the corridors that led back to the storage areas of the Weyr. He whirled them in that direction despite her resistance, speaking in a persuasively understanding tone.
“You’re the rider of a young get and she’s much too young for sexual stimulation. But I don’t think a kiss will do her any damage, and I’ve got to kiss you once before I have to go to Benden.”
And he did so. The moment their lips touched, although she tried to resist, their mutual attraction made the contact electric. She could not have resisted responding — even to protect Morath’s innocence.
Cocowhat by depizan
Three times she resisted, but still you had to, Iantine. If you actually liked Debera, you wouldn’t be pressuring her into this. We can also take note of whose side the narrative is on – Iantine’s, and it’s going to use Morath to shore up that position of “clearly, Debera liked it, so nobody should care that she was just violated.”
That’s very nice, you know.
“Morath!” Debera jerked her body upright, though her hands clenched tightly on his neck and shoulder. “Oh…dear, what have I done?”
“Not as much to her as you have to me,” Iantine said in a shaky voice. “She doesn’t sound upset or anything.”
Debera pushed away to stare up at him — he thought she had never looked so lovely.
Because, as we know from Lessa, when women get angry, it makes them cute and sexy instead of terrifying. Iantine forges ahead with admitting that Morath talks to him occasionally, and also knows his name, a thing that might “really distress her”, but that he had to be honest about. Iantine is relieved that Debera hasn’t just stormed off. Truthfully, the narrative is probably holding her in place, and it’s about to make her justify Iantine’s actions toward her.
“I’m glad you do know that [Morath always comes first], but Ian…I don’t know what I feel about you, except that I did like your kiss.” Her eyes were tender and she glanced shyly away from him. “I’m glad you did kiss me. I’ve sort of wanted to know…” she said with a ripple in her voice, but still shy.
“So I can kiss you again?”
She put her hand on his chest. “Not quite so fast, Iantine! Not quite so fast. For my sake as well as Morath’s. Because…” and then she blurted out the next sentence, “I know I’m going to miss you…almost…as much as I’d miss Morath. I didn’t know a rider could be so involved with another human. Not like this. And,” she increased pressure on the hand that held them apart because he wanted so to kiss her for that, “I can’t be honestly sure of it’s not because Morath rather likes you, too, and is influencing me.”
I am not, said Morath firmly, almost indignantly.
“She says…” Debera began as Iantine said, “I heard that.”
Iantine, you are so far in the negative right now that Debera would be well within her privileges to send you out and tell you not to come back. And to report you for what you did, even if she enjoyed it, because you were trying to take advantage of her.
Thankfully, Iantine does respect Morath enough to not try for anything more sexual.
They both laughed and the sensual tension between them eased. He made quick use of the opportunity to to kiss her, lightly, to prove that he could and that he did understand about Morath. He had also actually asked as many questions about rider liaisons as discretion permitted. What he’d learned far been both reassuring and unsettling. There were more ramifications to human affairs than he had ever previously suspected. Dragonrider-human ones could get very complicated. And green dragons being so highly strung and sexually oriented were the most complex.
That’s, what, five times now Iantine has ignored or given pushback to Debera’s boundaries? Morath isn’t the only one that needs maturity here.
I do like the characterization, even if unintentional, of dragonriders as a separate species from humans, since they’re a kind of gestalt being and at least partially incomprehensible. I still think Iantine is taking things in stride a little too well, especially confronted with the very real likelihood that polyamory is the way the Weyr operates, or at the very least, that Morath is likely going to lead Debera into a life of very casual sex and Iantine isn’t going to be her only partner.
Iantine asks if he’s welcome back to the Weyr once he gets done at Benden. Debera says yes, and the two return to the dance with their arrangement worked out, and that’s the end of the chapter. Business, a new song that’s just as great as all the other ones, and a character sexually assaulting another through her no, only for his victim character and the narrative to tell us “no, really, she wanted it, even though it terrified her.”
Blech. Can we get back to politics, please?