Fog Magic

Xanadu Weyr – Forest

This broad path that leads from the Main Clearing into the forest has been designed in such a manner so as to be not only wide enough for wagons to travel through, but also providing ample space for dragons. The path appears only worn in the center though, as the main traffic which finds itself moving through this area is that of the two-legged kind. Grass lines the path and creeps all the way up to the bases of the trees that rise upward in their aged magnificence, gargantuan limbs casting often welcome shade that frequently envelopes the entire path.
The path winds its way leisurely through the trees and a number of less traveled paths branch away. One to the west leads to the Weyrling Field while one headed further northwards leads to the river and numerous popular spots. (see +view) Northeastwards, the path straightens out to join the coastal road that leads out of Xanadu while east leads down towards the beach and the Caspian Lake. A few flowers sprout up and speckle the brown and green area with their little faces of bright saffron and cheeky rose, and the general atmosphere and scent of the path is one of freshness and wild abandon.

Afternoon begins the long, slow glide towards twilight, but with the heavy blanket of fog a lingering impediment to Rukbat's rays it's hard to tell exactly what time it is. Since the sun made its first weak appearance this morning, the world has been filled with a nearly colorless pale glow, and the only hint that the hour begins to grow late is that it is gradually growing dimmer. Matrin has donned a black wool peacoat and a knit grey scarf over his fitted denim, and his boots stir tendrils of fog as he makes his way down the path to Mishkia's cottage. His usual square satchel is slung diagonally across his chest, and after a quick rap of knuckles to her door, his hands disappear into his pockets. It's chill enough that his breath adds puffs of paler white to the grey of the fog, and it is that as much as a nervous sort of energy that makes him shift his weight heel to toe and back again.

There's a soft fog-diffused flickering golden glow coming from miah's window, the girl has a cheerful fire lit by the looks of it. It's but a few seconds before her door opens and the warmth leaks out, curling the wisps of grey eddying around her door. She's dressed in a long form-fitting knit sweater of rich brown that reaches nearly to her knees, the leggings under them nearly the same color. Her feet are once again, bare and over her shoulder on a circular rug in front of the fireplace lies an open book, a pad of paper and a pen; she's been practicing her penmanship. Her first expression is one of curiosity. Who could be at her door? It's clear she's likely expecting Gabit or Keziah, for delighted surprise washes over her face. "Oh it's you! Hi!" She sways to peek around him, then eases back to her heels and twinkles a grin at him, "Would you like to come in? Or did I forget class… again?"

For the first moment or so, Matrin doesn't have attention to spare for all the homey details, or even for the warm brown knit or bare toes right in front of him. No, he's watching features that are growing familiar shift from curiosity to something else, and it's only when he can define the final expression as a happy one that he lets out a breath he didn't even realize he was holding. His own smile is quick to appear, wide and warm as he finally takes her in from top to (shoeless) toes. "No classes today," is his first reply, as he tips his head to peek over her shoulder. "Am I interrupting though? I don't want to pull you away if you're enjoying some quiet time."

There's a low laugh to accompany his peek over her shoulder and Mishkia takes a half-step back. Pivoting on one heel, she tilts her head and her hair swings off of one shoulder, catching coppery glints in the firelight as she eyes her work quizzically for a beat before her eyes dance back to his. With a rich and self-directed humor rippling her voice, "I think all my time is quiet time. I'm not a very noisy person, you know." Her toes wriggle and she adds, "You're not interrupting, but my toes say it's too cold to stand here barefoot, so if you'd like to come in, you may. Or I'll put some shoes on come outside." She sends a glance at the shadowy trails of willow silhouetted in the silvery backlight. "It's a gorgeous day, yeah? Were you out for a walk?"

Incredulous, Matrin arches a brow. "I seem to recall some very specific hooting and hollering going on while we rode a mattress around a swamp, Miss Not Very Noisy." With a wink he steps past her into the cottage, but hovers near the door. "We can't have your toes getting frozen, so I may as well come in, at least long enough for you to find some socks and shoes." And incidentally long enough for him to get a better look at her living space maybe, as his eyes are busy taking in the changes since he first set the space up for her. Her final words finally sink in and he blinks, his focus drawn abruptly back to her. "You think it's gorgeous?" The sentiment has his smile deepening and he shakes his head. "I love the fog, but most of the weyr is in hiding. I was actually…" he trails off, scrubbing a hand at the back of his head. "It's sort of silly."

Mishkia places a forefinger to her lips, grey eyes dancing with merriment. "You'll blow my reputation as a demure, quiet and refined Lady Holder." Yeah, right. With her backwoods twang and wide eyed questions all over the place! He steps in and she closes the door behind him, turning to skip across the room to the door opposite and slip into the room back there. There's the sound of a drawer opening then shutting. It's barely a moment later that she is back with a roll of socks in one hand, a pair of knee-high russet-stained suede boots in the other. While he's looking at the room, she casually drops to a seat on the couch to don her footwear. She doesn't seem to mind his appraisal of her living space at all. It's uncluttered and neatly kept. There are some sort of herbs hanging near the hearth drying that give off a rich aromatic scent, a small bucket of bark shavings sitting nearby the kindling and stack of wood and her writing things by the fire. The rest of the place gleams warmly of wood; a cheerful place. Of the day being gorgeous, there's a firm agreement, a semi-smiled, "I do! The world is my secret place when the fog rolls in. You can hear it speak to you then." And while he's speaking his last, she rises and walks towards him with a quieter mien, "What's silly now?" Eyes on his are kind, interested and open.

For demure and refined, Matrin has a soft breath of laughter that is more air than sound and another shake of his head. "It can be our little secret then, Lady Mire." Regardless of the fact that she isn't technically the Lady of the Hold… uh, as far as he knows. He keeps his hands tucked politely in his pockets and refrains from craning his neck to peer into that back room, but when she reappears there's approval written all over his features. "It smells lovely in here, by the way." A tip of his head gives credit to the herbs hanging near the hearth. Her words bring him back to quiet, his smile fading to a smaller, warmer curve as she approaches him. "You really should have been a harper," is his appreciative murmur for the way she describes the day. Then chagrin creeps in and he reaches to snag her hand. "I used to play hide and seek in the fog with my niece, and I'm missing her today. Someone very wise suggested I make a new memory. I was hoping you might do me the honor of helping me with that." Bright blue eyes drop away, and his thumb rubs across the back of her knuckles hesitantly.

Yes, that was tongue in cheek, but Lady Mire elicits a quiet snicker. "Sounds like Lady Mud when I hear it aloud, but I'll take it." Of the herbs, "Oh those? Peppermint, sage and yarrow. I found them growing in the meadow. The bark is cherry. They're good for sore throat and head colds too." Besides smelling nice. "A harper, huh?" Bemused, she lifts coppery brows while a curious smile works it's way onto her mouth, "It's true. I'll show you," she offers lightly, curling her fingers 'round his when he take her hand. She gives him a little squeeze to encourage him to elaborate, though, about what he'd thought silly. When he does share she is silent for a few beats then gently squeezes his hand once more. Softly, her tone speaks to her own understanding of it, "Aye. Family's near to the heart but far away can be the keenest sort of heartache there is sometime." A breath out and she adds sincerely, "I'd be honored to. And it ain't silly." The last bit firmly spoken and he'll know her well enough by now that when she slips up with her grammar, she's feeling strongly.

"Lady Mud or Swamp Woman, which is better?" Matrin's tone is light and teasing, banishing a bit of the sad shadows that have crept into his eyes. Resisting the urge to cling to her hand, he returns the squeeze lightly and takes a deep, fortifying type of breath. "Yes, and of course you understand." The thought darkens his countenance again and his brows draw down in a faint frown as he gives her hand a tiny tug. "You know that you are free to visit home any time, right? And if your people will be alright with a strange dragon, transport can be arranged." Her final firmness eventually softens him again, and he runs his thumb over her hand one more time. "Well then, I guess we should go play in the fog. I brought a thermos of klah but you still might want a coat?"

"I… have no idea?" Mishkia twinkles while she ducks her head turtle-like into her shoulders for a goofy moment then straightens to regard him more soberly. "I think right now it would be best not to test Chalm's patience with another dragon." She coughs slightly but doesn't elaborate on that. Instead, she nods an affirmative for the question of jackets, uncurls her fingers she steps over to the door, lifts a thick grey woolen cape from a peg and pulls it over her head in a fluid move. She pulls the door open, pivots on both toes to face him so she winds up ankles crossed. She tips her head to eye him, mischief muted so that foremost is sensitive to his mood, aware of the pensive he's suppressing. Quietly, "So. You'll show me how to hide in the fog and I will show you how to listen to the world's secrets, eh?"

However subdued Mishkia's reference to his misstep in bringing that strange green to Mire Hold, Matrin catches it and ducks his head, using his newly freed hand to rub fingertips across his brow. "Yeah… you do have a good point there." He peeks up at her through his lashes, and a sheepish tilt claims his lips as he crosses the room after her. Her considering gaze is easily borne, his own expression nearly smooth and eyes watchful. In the end his teeth snag his lower lip and he dips a slow nod, leaving his eyes downcast at the end. "Yes, I think that sounds just right." When blue finds grey he takes that final step and tugs the hem of her cape straight with an almost absent gesture. "Thank you." Lest the moment grow too long, he reaches past her to turn the doorknob and pushes the door out on outstretched fingers, leaving her a path beneath his arm to slip out.

There's a mysterious quality to Mishkia's smile and she flickers him a sidelong look that promises, if nothing else, to be unpredictable as she ducks under Matrin's arm. She precedes him out onto the porch and the fog is there to greet them, hungry fingers that curl within the open door as if seeking the fire's warmth. The swamp-dweller hops lightly down the steps, almost childlike in her attempt to reach the ground, the moss cushioning and silencing her footfalls. They're now standing within the confines of willow and fern - a living cage that keeps the world out. She turns to wait for him to draw up and the young woman's question is a partial one, "So now…?"

Matrin is quick to close the door behind them, barring the entrance of ghostly fingers into the warmth and cheer of Mishkia's home. He leans back against the broad plank of the door then, watching her with thoughtful eyes and a thumb that idly traces the curve of his lower lip. It's a line that deepens as she goes hopping along, though he might call her birdlike instead. When her words come they stir him up out of whatever reverie has claimed him and he pushes his weight up, taking a more subdued few steps down into the moss at her side. "Now… well if you were a three turn old I would give you boundaries so you don't get lost but I have a feeling that's not a concern with you." His grin lingers, teasing around his mouth as he continues, "So instead I guess I close my eyes for a count of fifteen and you go duck behind a tree and hope I don't see the beckoning flame of your hair through the fog." He curls his fingers around the end of a strand and gives it a playfully demonstrative tug.

Mishkia is oblivious of the eyes on her - well, no not really. But she is absorbed with breathing in the moist forest scent, feeling the caress of mist on her face. So when she turns around her eyes are closed at first. She opens them as she speaks, notes that thoughtful reverie of his and thus her question ebbs away, lips left parted as though the rest of her words have been eaten by the fog. A touch bemused, she watches his approach but grins readily enough at his tease and when he's finished she laughs softly, "I should've worn my hunting gear; you wouldn't have found me in plain sight." With a rueful glance at the wisp of hair between his fingertips, "But I thought to give you a chance at finding me." Her lips twitch into a more serious line, studiously subduing the want to smirk impishly but the glimmer in her grey eyes will give her away. "I promise not to get lost if you'll do the counting?"

Her laughter and that urge to tip toward impish does a lot to encourage the shadows out of Matrin's demeanor. His grin comes more easily, and his clear blue eyes take on a twinkle of their own as her laughter fills the little pocket of space they stand in. The fog envelopes them, and the sound is consumed into silence by the mist, making one dark brow twitch. "I am not so sure I'll be able to find you as it is. You're quiet without the fog to muffle you, and you're more at home outdoors than I am in my studio, I think." Releasing that bit of auburn, he taps her under the chin with one curled knuckle and takes on a teasingly rueful tone. "Will you promise to find me if /I/ get lost? I am beginning to wonder about the wisdom of this venture." Dark lashes hide away the vibrant blue of morning's sky still touched with stars of amusement as he closes his eyes and waves vaguely toward the trees. "Alright then. One…"

Mishkia smirks when she's chin-chucked and she snaps white teeth playfully at the air as he pulls his hand back. She doesn't tell him she'll probably know right where he is the entire time, merely assures him with an airy, "Of course. I'll search until full dark and then if I have no luck I will have the canines brought to sniff you out if need be. Let it not be said that Xanadu leaves lost harpers to starve in their woods!" As though that were a frightening possibility and not a great stretch of the imagination. Her feet brace on that mossy trail, legs flexed, her stance is that of one ready to move as soon as it's time and she waits for him to close his eyes. Beware that sly gleam within hers as yours shut Matrin! When he begins counting, she slowly, silently reaches an arm out, her fingers curl 'round several willow boughs… and she gives them a hearty yank. This, of course brings a sudden spate of water showering down, but she doesn't wait around for retaliation. She's off and running, skittering through the ferns surrounding her cottage, ducking under the trailing willow, leaving naught behind her but a swirl of fog and a giggle.

Matrin flinches back dramatically, waving his hand like those teeth nipped the ends of his fingers. "Let it not be said that Mire girls don't bite, either," he quips. But then his eyes are closed, and he grumbles good naturedly about being even damper than the fog alone has caused. "You do realize you don't need to distract me, either with a storytelling monologue or a spontaneous shower, right? There's no way I'll find you." He speaks between counting, absently brushing a hand down the wool of his coat to shed the droplets that cling to the black fabric. When he finally gets to the end of his fifteen-count he's grinning lopsidedly, and takes a moment to just look around what he can see of the clearing. He discounts the willow branches that continue to bob, and looks for footprints that the moss refuses to give up to him. In the end it's just a matter of striking out into the trees, trying (and failing) to be quiet as he ducks behind trees in pursuit of a flame-haired giggling ghost.

"Oh but they do so…" But he doesn't want a story, so Mishkia will let him discover that the hard way another day perhaps. She's getting a further soaking herself ducking under the branches and skipping through the understory of the forest. They're both of them going to be soaking wet by the time they're finished. At first her footfalls are silent enough, feet avoiding stepping on dead branches, now if only she could stop the laughter. She's not trying too awfully hard to stay all that far ahead of him so he'll hear her, if he can't see her. The sounds coming from her become slightly breathless as she moves along and you know how the impossible takes over? When you're not supposed to laugh and the harder you try the harder it is to control it? This seizes her so that she's sniggering finally into the palm she's got clasped over her mouth, the sounds absurdly muffled, her hand robbing her of the air she needs for escape and making it a touch awkward to run gracefully on top of that. He could totally catch up to her and snare her.

There is a slight chance that discovering the hard way was exactly what Matrin had in mind. We should give him the benefit of the doubt though, and assume he's just keen on getting soaked to the bone in the chilly foggy day, chasing a woman who could outhide and outrun him if she could only control her giggles. The muffled, almost frantic sounds have him chuckling as he plunges through the undergrowth, and it's a lucky thing he's wearing boots and jeans for once as bits of bark come free and here and there mud splashes. "You're worse than Rinia," he teases. A few long-legged strides, a hand planted on the trunk of a tree, and he loops around to head her off. If he times it just right, he'll snatch her up with arms wrapped around her, trapping her close in a loose loop of an embrace as he laughs. "Gotcha."

There's one problem with getting hit with a snickerfit besides not being able to stealth through the forest and that is being stealthed-upon. Mishkia can't really hear over her own mirth and labored breathing and although she's casting the occasional furtive look over her shoulder, making the random course correction if she spots his shadowed form back there, it isn't often enough to do her any real good. Her laughter is nearly checked - it's taken both hands over her mouth to stifle it and she rounds a huge tree trunk with the intent of peeking at her backtrail, dropping her hands to gasp a few good lungfuls of air. She's not expecting him to be right there, but then, she's never gone gallivanting through the forest at a run while choking back laughter as she's being pursued, either. Caught off guard, she nearly trips into him when it happens and there's a bit of a flail-shriek as her feet slide out from under her. She grabs for his shoulders instinctively to keep from falling. For a second she stares at him through strands of soaking wet hair, sort of stunned then loses it entirely laughing helplessly.

It just might be a first, then! If Matrin were a composer no doubt there'd be a song or at least a poem for Mishkia out of this, lauding his surprising victory. And surprising it is, too. He is as shocked to have her flailing and shrieking and grabbing as she is to have him suddenly in front of her. A gasp cannot be stifled and he switches from a loose clasp of his arms to trying to snare her narrow waist in his hands. That should at least keep her upright, even if doesn't save his shins from instinctively kicking feet. He just blinks into that moment of stunned silence, then dissolves into laughter along with her. Trying to catch his breath he pulls her a little closer, letting his palms slide around to her lower back and chuckling down into those wide grey eyes behind wet auburn tendrils. "Um, surprise? I didn't mean to scare you to death, sorry." His expression is anything but apologetic though and is instead full of mischief.

At least it's a short-lived sort of shriek, quickly choked off. And the boots Mishkia's wearing are soft-soled so if her toes do make contact, his shins ought to remain bruise-free. She is better able to get her feet underneath her with that steadying grip around her waist, her shoulders coming to rest against the tree trunk behind her. Her laughter ends abruptly in an indrawn breath as his hands move from her waist to her back and the rose flush that rises to her cheeks is telling that it's just dawned on her how close they are standing, but she makes light of that. "Aye, surprise it is." Her chin tilts and she smiles, approving of the mischief she sees there. Gently, "This new memory, it did help chase the heartache away somewhat, yeah?"

Matrin doesn't really seem to be concerned about either the squeal or the threat to his legs, however mild. The realization of her closeness hits him before her, so while she's still laughing his eyes are intense and his smile is faint but warm. Pink climbing into her cheeks draws his brightly sparkling eyes, and his brows lift at that catch of breath. Even her more somber words can't completely wipe his smile away, and he slowly dips a nod. "It has been quite… distracting, yes. Thank you for coming out here with me." Now that they're standing still the damp is starting to leech whatever warmth running through the forest has generated and his hands move across her back in a brisk, chafing motion. His expression grows thoughtful, almost hesitant and one hand lifts to brush the back of his knuckles down her cheek. "Even looking like a drowned rat you're beautiful."

"You're welcome," Mishkia says easily with a deepening of her own smile, obviously glad to hear she's distracted him from the sadness she glimpsed in his eyes earlier. "So we've hidden in the fog and now I should show you how to hear the forest speak-" His knuckles grazing down her cheek draw a quick indrawn breath and despite her efforts not to seem flustered, her cheeks brighten. There's a curious mix of disbelief and amazement in Mishkia's expression. Awed, she says, "You think so?" Apparently she's not heard this before, but clearly she's pleased for a smile tugs at her lips even as her lashes lower while her "Thank you Matrin" is barely audible.

"And now you should show me…" Matrin trails off, fond amusement brightening his expression at the deepening of Mishkia's blush and look in her eyes. "I know so," he corrects her, his voice going quiet as she drops her gaze away from him. For a moment they just stand like that, damp and none too warm with the fog swirling up around their legs and his knuckles against her jaw. He makes a soft sound, something that would be 'hmm' with more volume behind it - a considering sound as he tips his hand and slips his fingertips beneath her chin. "Sometimes I feel like I'm navigating the swamp again. Not sure if the next step will be firm or quicksand." Quiet enough that it's nearly a whisper dampened further by the surrounding mist, yet he still holds the faintest smile. "Maybe you should teach me about yourself instead."

They both have the same thought at once, for the moment on the same wavelength, though Mishkia is drawn in another direction altogether by that touch to her cheek. She doesn't, can't look up at the confirmation. It could be the cold, but it's likely something else that draws the shiver from her when his fingers slide under her chin yet even then her lashes remain lowered. His last comment, however lifts them and her grey eyes meet his with a semi-dazed expression therein. Breathless, "About myself?" She's mystified and her tendency to take things literally shows. "What do you want to know?"

So often, words serve Matrin. Today they threaten to abandon him altogether as his touch inspires that faint tremor through Mishkia's frame. When she finally lifts her long lashes he tips his head just a bit, as if he needs to duck to maintain that tenuous contact, but even her confusion can only inspire the gradual deepening of his smile. She is breathless, and he takes a long, slow, lingering breath, and with the splayed fingers of the hand still on her back he draws her closer, until they touch. "Will I suddenly find myself wed by some unknown custom, or brained by the sudden appearance of Gabit's staff, if I kiss you?" He breathes the words more than speaking them, the exhale that follows that drawn-out inhalation, and his fingers seek to tip her face further toward his.

Completely forgotten are her hands still hanging onto his shoulders, fingers curling a bit into the damp material of his coat as she is drawn to him. Soaking wet and it's late fall with evening coming on, but she doesn't start trembling until now. There's the impish impulse to tell him they're already wed, did that on the dance floor at Turnover; it's probably quite easily read in the mischievous start of a smirk, but it's a spark that flares only to quickly fade into something more earnest. Her chin follows that gentle summons, eyes wide as her face tilts towards his and though she is suddenly shy, she doesn't drop them this time. Her whispered answer is visible in the cold air, a breath of white that stirs the silver veil enveloping them, "Not if I… let you?"

Mishkia is the only one who can forget exactly where her hands are. Not to mention the angle of her legs, the rise and fall of her breath, the way the diffuse light touches the damp of her skin. Matrin's painfully aware of all of it, watching every nuance of her face as it changes. The flicker of a smirk is all it takes for him to catch the line of her thoughts, and it changes the warm intensity of his smile into something with at least the shades of amusement. The briefest tick of his head will have to serve as a negating shake, taking the place of a scolding wag of his finger or a smart remark. She is too quick to shift back toward earnest, and he settles back down into the moment, leaning in to catch her whisper and breathing in the mist she exhales. "I see," is his barely there murmur, his breath warm on her skin. "You'd be telling me by now if you were intending to /not/ let me, right?" There is a sparkle of blue eyes into grey, and he waits just there with mingled breath.

A puff of white isn't the only indication he's almost made her laugh outright; her stomach twitches against his, her attempt at keeping her sense of humor in check lest she spoil the moment. Affecting a secretive smile with a 'dare ya' gleam to her grey eyes, she quips, "Do you like to live dangerously, Matrin? Because I could just let you do it and tell you no afterwards if you'd like. And you can take your chances with Gabit's staff?" Clearly teasing, Mishkia doesn't seem to know what else to do while remaining a breath away; she doesn't retreat but neither does she take matters into her own hands. It might be obvious she's never done this before in the hint of bafflement beneath the banter. In a minute she's going to say something stupid, just watch!

Though she has made the valiant effort to restrain her laughter, Matrin can't manage it. His chuckle is low and rough, and ends in a faint groan as he releases her chin in favor of winding his hand up into her damp hair. "I don't know what to do with you," he teases, shaking his head and sliding his fingers through her hair until he can cup her cheek again. "I guess I will just have to take my chances." And then, pushing her boundaries or not, when all his attempts at respecting her space induce laughter, he takes matters back into his own hands. Gently the palm that warmly claims her cheek tips her face and he drops his mouth to hers. His lips are soft and far warmer than the chill the day has taken on, and the kiss is more tender than hungry. A first-of-many sort of kiss, a testing-the-waters brush of lips that lingers rather than the sort of desperate devouring that fears not having a second chance.

She neither laughs nor does Gabit's staff appear from the fog to brain him senseless, how's that for lucky? Beneath his hand, Mishkia's smooth cheek, cold evidence of just how chill the damp and the day have become, warms. Her lips part softly just before their lips meet, when they do her eyes drift closed. After a moment's hesitation, her hands slide from his shoulders to encircle his neck and she melts into the kiss with a sigh, savoring the tenderness and finding she quite likes it. Maybe it's what he shared about missing his niece, perhaps it's her growing fondness for him, it could be a little of both, but she seeks to impart a sweetness, a wish for things to be better for him and allows him to decide when to pull away.

Matrin would count himself lucky indeed if asked, but not for those two particular reasons. He could hope perhaps for her to impart some fire instead, but no complaints can be offered when she gives as good as she gets. He lets the kiss stretch a beat without deepening it, a slow sweet something, and when he does break away it is only by an inch or so. Smiling down into those grey eyes from this close proximity, he drops his hand to her upper arm and gives it the lightest squeeze. "You're freezing and I'm standing here kissing you in the fog like an idiot. We should get you back inside." He wets his lips instead of pulling away though, and dips down to brush a second kiss across the warmth of her cheek.

The fog magic that cocoons them in a world of their own allows the forest to speak in that moment of utter still with the intermittent spat! of condensation dripping on leaves here and the faint tssp! of a falling leaf there, if but they were listening to it rather than something else. Eyes opening to give Matrin a rather dazed, faintly smug smile that hints of tease, Mishkia protests, "I wouldn't say like an idiot." But then, it's her first-ever kiss so what does she know? The arms about his neck give him a gentle squeeze, cheek presses into that kiss but she has to agree about the cold, "It's getting dark too. And I'm not familiar enough with this forest to guide us through it."

It is the sort of symphony that adds the perfect background touches to a moment like this. When she is smug rather than spooked, Matrin's smile grows and he gives a bit of her hair a tiny tug. "Gee, thanks for being so generous," he quips with his grin firmly in place. It is definitely good that he didn't know about the whole first-ever thing or it might never have happened at all. As it is, he seems satisfied that she has not smacked him for it, and turns to slide a hopefully warming arm lightly around her shoulders. "I ran through mud a few times and Faranth knows I knocked down enough branches, I bet we could find the way if we needed to. But I would rather not be stuck out in this weather in the dark, no." He starts off in the vaguely correct direction, but though he keeps his arm around her there's not much sense of him being determined to lead if she thinks he's headed the wrong way.

It…. wasnt obvious in the way she kissed him? Just how many opportunities could Mishkia have had back there in the swamplands anyway? Papa and Gramps don't count and kissing your own cousins is just.. eww! Has he thought of that at all? "You're welcome," said with that same smug roguish glimmer of humor as she turns and walks close beside him. "Well just follow the trail you've so conveniently blazed then, shall we? But before the light fades would be best." Where there is no apparent breakage and upheaval, she'll causally point out a few things, the scuff of dirt on a flat stone, a bit of green at the base of a sapling where a foot scraped the thin, tender bark or the occasional twist of ferns that don't quite match up to the way the others are growing. Eventually they get there.

Who knows how swamplings kiss? Or if she was just being nice or following his lead, or… no, he probably has not really put a lot of thought into Mishkia's relative lack of experience. She's strong and witty and gorgeous, so while he will be thinking about that baffled light in her eyes and her atypical uncertainty once the nerves of the moment have passed, until now he likely just assumed her to have a string of suitors. The beginning of this consideration begins on their homeward trek, with his weighing gaze lingering on her features even when she is not teaching him forest-craft. Eventually the loop of his arm becomes an awkward way to traverse the closeness of th path so he switches to lightly holding her hand, expressing interest and generally letting her lead the way home. When they reach her cottage he strides ahead to open her door and hovers there in faint glow of her unstoked fire.

Much more at ease when the focus is on forest-craft, more at home when moving through the woods, Mishkia's composure returns as easily as it had departed. If her mind is on that kiss they shared, it's only evidenced in a occasional happenstance that her glance lands on his mouth and skips away to the signs of passage they're looking for. She falls easily into walking with hands held as she did under his arm, making no comment, though the occasional color to her cheeks is a hint that she's very aware of him. When they reach her cottage and enter though she'd called the day gorgeous, it's with a sigh of relief for the warmth. Turning to him she tilts her head to note in particular the expression of his eyes, looking perhaps for signs of any possible lingering sadness. Her comment is a touch subdued, "Thank you for hiding in the fog with me." Awkward much?

Matrin stays there in the doorway, holding the door open for her but not actually entering the room. Her attention will find his eyes as searching as her own, but notably lacking in the melancholy they held not so long ago. He blinks at her words, his lips parting on a grin but lacking anything to say for a beat. "Ah, yeah. Thank you for playing along." We should do it again sometime? Lest the moment stretch too awkwardly into silence, he just gives her fingers a squeeze and steps backward onto the little porch outside her door. "It was a pleasure," is his second, better attempt and he gives her the wide smile that's been threatening since their kiss. With a dip of his head then, he turns with hands in pockets to head back out into the fog.

Despite the cold, Mishkia remains in the open door, watching him go until the fog swallows him up and even then she doesn’t close her door. To do so would end the day’s magic. How fanciful! But really it’s the way she feels. Blame that on the old harper’s tales she heard as a child. She stands there watching the last bits of light fade from the thick mist drifting about her willow strands until she’s thoroughly chilled. The door is closed softly and inside she leans upon it for a few moments while the fingertips of one hand are lifted to touch the bemused smile that flickers to her lips. Then with a wide grin and a girlish squeal she’s off skipping to get out of her wet clothes.

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