Brave Face

Xanadu Weyr - Secluded Woods Cottage

The first impression this tidy cottage gives is one of warmth. The smoothed golden logs that form the walls have been left bare, matching the floor and the half logs that form the stairs to the loft. Plush rugs break up the monotony of the wood, as do several wide windows with cheery lemon yellow curtains.

The main level is divided into two halves by a wide, low couch in rich blue which is nearly buried in pillows of white, yellow and blue in varying patterns. It faces a large hearth with a wide mantle above and a spit within perfect for roasting meats or hanging pots. One matching chair is nestled in the embrace of the bay window, whose window seat provides a bit of storage currently filled with warm blankets and a few cushions that could be used as additional makeshift seating. The other half of the room holds a dining table with four chairs, and the wall is lined with cabinets and a small sink with a pump for indoor water.

The stairs lead up to a spacious loft. The far side boasts an enormous skylight and the bed lies against the wall beneath it, giving the occupant a clear view of the night sky. Should privacy be wanted, a Roman-style shade's pulley is easily reached at the lowest edge of the ceiling. The bed itself is large and sturdy, fashioned of the same knotty pine as the rest of the cottage and its furniture, a sage green coverlet and another wealth of pillows, this time shades of green interspersed with white eyelet. A chest sits at the foot of the bed and a small nightstand and simple wardrobe complete the loft's furnishings.

It's just barely dawn at Xanadu. The slowly lightening sky is clear as the last stars fade, but it's humid and hot already with a storm-front building to the south. The Weyr, expecting the hatching any day with the time elapsed since the clutching and with the eggs hardened to the point the dragonhealers say it could be immanent, is making preparations for the guests and feasting to follow. Classes for the Weyr’s young ones have been suspended since yesterday as little legs run minor errands for the cooks, the headwoman and anyone else in need of a gopher. Between meals the caverns have been a busy hive of decoration and preparation using little fingers as well as big ones. miah has been there helping where she could, but this morning she’s in no hurry to join the frenetic activity and the sense of overwhelming suppressed, excitement and dread transmitted by everyone around her. What's one less person? At least that's her conscious thought as she remains within the cool sanctuary of her willow-shrouded home.

Matrin has ducked and dodged the Weyr's needs long enough to come seek Mishkia out. He strides with purpose into the willow-framed clearing, pausing absently to touch steadying fingertips to the tiny gold firelizard who rides his shoulder. Then it's a few long strides and a hop up over the shallow steps so he can rap his knuckles on her doorframe. Though that sense of suppressed tension is no less present in him than the rest of Xanadu's inhabitants, he readies a smile for her while he flicks a glance at his reflection in her nearby window and idly slides his fingers through the planned tousle of his hair.

As the harper approaches not a whisper of leaf stirs the silence in the breathless clearing over which the willows stand sentinel. The sounds of the sink pump being used drifts though those open windows where the lemon-yellow curtains hang limp, loud by comparison or perhaps fed by tensions, it seems so. By the time he's knocked, however the pump is silent and it's but a moment before the door is opened by Mishkia, copper hair hanging in damp tendrils about her bare shoulders. That she's just taken the desperate measure to splash face and arms with cool water is evident in the moisture beading her skin - the spaghetti-strap sundress she's wearing in the vain attempt to remain cool hasn't worked to her satisfaction and the towel in hand isn't applied save to dry her hands so she can turn the doorknob. Anyone this early is unexpected, so it's with genuine pleasure wide eyes crinkle in a smile of welcome for Matrin. "You're up early," she notes offering the tiny gold a scritch with one finger.

The muggy day holds its breath and does nothing to help soothe the anxiety that leaves Matrin's jaw set and the line of his shoulders taut in spite of the casual air he seeks to convey. He listens to the telltale sounds of the pump and has just enough time to affect a leisurely lean against the doorpost when the door swings open. Bright eyes flicker from bare knees to bare shoulders, then up to those damp tendrils with admiration filling their depths as his smile grows wide and easy across his mouth. "And you're not hard at work in the kitchen yet," he replies with a dry note. Scarlett peeps and trills and leans her little head into that finger, then springs upward to fly over Mishkia's head and into her cottage. It makes Matrin smirk and he leans in to brush a kiss across Mishkia's cheek. "Can I come in, since the little troublemaker has already availed herself of your hospitality."

Grey eyes travel from Matrin's finger-combed hair to the set of his jaw which seems to contradict that casual pose. One coppery brow twitches, lips part but the teasing comment that springs to mind departs, replaced by the faint flush of chagrin across damp cheeks as she admits, "Ah, no. I was hoping they wouldn't miss me." As Scarlett takes wing, she ducks - a reflexive action, turns for a moment to watch her flitter past, then turns back just in time for that kiss to her cheek. Her eyes are warm as he straightens, and though her arms lift to him, since they're still moisture-beaded they hover awkwardly before she drops them. Since damp sets wrinkles, it's best not to mess up his shirt, or so her so readily readable expression seems to say as she pushes the door wider with fingertips to let him enter. "Of course you may come in. Have you had breakfast? I can make klah if you'd like."

Matrin arches a brow at the chagrin and the pad of his thumb skirts the bit of color in her cheeks. "Honestly, I am not sure that 'they' did. I missed you, but I was looking for you." The lift and pause and drop of arms makes him grin, and when she pushes the door further he gives her a little bow with a flourish at the end. "My thanks, kind lady," he teases before slipping past her, only to slip his arms around her waist from behind and pull her back against him. One arm will lift just long enough to push the door closed, then he tries to get her turned around. "Getting a little damp is a more than fair trade, especially on an impossible day like today," he notes as he pulls her close. "And I managed to nibble on a muffin, but I think that's all I can do this morning. I'm nervous." The confession is but a breath he tries to banish with a shake of his head. "But I'm here with you and that will make it all better, I'm sure."

Mishkia stays right where she is, dipping a curtsy in response to that bow, eyes dancing as she turns her head to watch him walk around her. "Oh watch out, I'll get you all-" Ah well, too-late says her shrug as she settles back easily against him, tipping her head back to catch an upside down view of his face while he's closing the door. "Then how fortunate for me you knew right where to look." It's said in a smug little purr, her smirky-smile growing as she's turned around where she raises up on tip-toes to be even with his bright eyes. Since he doesn't seem worried about his shirt, she's not going to be either and one of her arms wraps 'round his waist, the other lifting so she can trace that tight jaw with a light touch of her forefinger while she tips her forehead to his. "Yes, I can tell you are, but I doubt anyone else can. Do you want to talk about it?"

The curtsy is enough to make Matrin chuckle a low note in the back of his throat, and her purr deepens the sound to something rougher when she ends up in his arms. "I think I'll live through a wet or wrinkled shirt," he comments lightly, then dips his chin enough to plant a kiss on the finger that touches his jaw before letting her forehead find his. "I'm…" deep thought furrows his brow against hers and he lets out a rush of breath before shrugging. "I'm not sure talking will help much. I'm not even sure what I'm nervous about. That I will Impress, or that I won't Impress? Both I guess." Chagrin quirks his lips and he wraps his arms tighter around her back, dropping his face to nuzzle into her hair. "That I'll miss you, that you won't miss me, that I'll forget the way your damp hair smells in the morning." Nuzzling turns to hiding as he gets himself together with an effort and manages a wan grin finally as he lifts his face. "I know, think less. What about you, how are you feeling?"

With a low laugh, "Well, if you'd rather get your mind off it, I know of a cold spring back there in the woods that bubbles out into a pool that's perfect for skinny dipping in on such a hot day as this." Obviously with the eggs so close to cracking, Mishkia's not serious but one never knows. She listens to him elaborate, the teasing expression fading to a more sympathetic one, if not completely understanding. When his arms tighten, she snakes her hand over his shoulder, both arms respond in kind to return the embrace, seeking to reassure while wide eyes search for wisdom in the knotholes in the honeyed wood walls behind them. Nothing. "I'll miss you," she starts to assure, her breath stirring the hair around his ear, only to break off with a startled blink about the forgetting part. Thus when he pulls back to peer at her, she's ready with, "A little confused frankly. Why would you forget? If you impress, won't we be able to visit… to-" Her eyes lift to the loft and she leaves the thought unfinished as she drops them to him. "Oh. You said… wait, didn't you?" Vague confusion reigns as she tries to understand just what that meant.

Matrin responds in kind with a husky laugh and a press of the line of his body against hers. "Oh, Miah that is a very tempting offer indeed. I worry that I would be so distracted I'd miss the humming and the hatching all together." And yet his eyes search hers for a beat and the thought that this outcome might not be all bad plainly flickers over his face. Then he hastens to reassure her as she has done for him, loosening his hold enough to trace his fingers down first her jaw and then her throat and finally across her collarbone. "Of course we will be able to visit. In fact, if I Impress I will require frequent visits until I'm able to come visit you." His smile is soft as he shrugs and captures a stray auburn tendril that curls at her shoulder. "So not waiting as far as that goes. I'm honestly not sure how much… what… exactly will be okay when though." His smirk returns, wry and amused. "But I doubt I will be burying my face in your hair in your living room for a few months at least. Still, I'm sure I'm just being silly. I'm a harper, we exaggerate?" He tries that excuse on for size, but the sparkle in his eyes says his mood has lifted at least a bit.

With their bodies together like that he'll feel the light laughter before he hears it, as is bubbles up her frame to dance on the air around them in silvery notes. "Only if they hatch today?" says the vixen in Miah while pretending to tempt him to it with a little wriggle meant to be enticing as is the lift of coppery brows. It's all a cover though. She knows this is important to him and thus it is to her as well and she wouldn't have him miss it. Lightly, "Well, then. I'll come visit you at dawn with just-washed hair for you to bury your face in. Just so you don't forget how it smells. Because I'm not cutting it off to send with you." This is followed by a slight sobering, understanding clouding her eyes just a little, so it's likely she sees right through that excuse. Her smile is brave as fingers flick the time they must spend apart from one another away, "Pff! What's a mere few months? It's an unknown adventure, for both of us, yes? We'll take it as it comes. If you impress, I'll fill the lonely hours with practicing my penmanship by writing you lengthy love letters which you shall read to your dragon and he can help you reply to them." Yes because babies understand all the nuances of romance, right? Only Miah probably doesn't know they aren't hatched as miniature adults.

She is more tempting than she knows, and Matrin's growl is a rumble more felt than heard as the fingers that were drifting along her collarbone inch the spaghetti strap of her sundress toward her shoulder. "You do make a good point," he murmurs, dropping a light kiss on the skin bared by that nudged-aside strap. But then she's speaking and he sighs a rueful breath before putting that bit of cotton back in its place. "Faranth forbid you cut it off," is his playfully aghast rejoinder, and the appreciation for her light reaction shines in his eyes. "An adventure indeed. And it's not like we won't see each other - " as soothing for him as it is for her more likely than not. "Though I am not sure how well any dragon can compose letters fresh out of the shell. I suppose we might find out, hmm?" Amusement steals a bit of his tension away, deepening when Scarlett comes fluttering back from wherever she was perched to settle on Matrin's shoulder. "Oh yes, can she stay with you during the hatching? I think she'll be satisfied with that and I don't think firelizards are welcome on the sands." There's a bit of apology flickering across his face for the return to the mundane, but he keeps one arm around her waist and the other on her shoulder just the same.

Oops? Miah should have stopped while she was ahead, but then, she'll likely keep the idea of that particular invitation for another summer day should life allow it. Her shiver answers the touch of lips to her skin and looming life changes or not, even as he's replacing her shoulder strap, she breathes, "How long can you stay?" Scarlett flutters over then and the ethereal bubble of time-pausing, hiding-from-future possibility pops in an eyeblink. "Will she? I'd be happy to watch her. I've overheard talk about how crazy hatchings can get. I hope she won't be scared." Perhaps meant for both firelizard and sitter, the disquiet she's trying so hard to stifle might be felt in the way that she drops her head to his other shoulder, pressing her forehead to the spot where it rests against the pulse-beat of his neck. She remains quiet for a time, keeping her arms encircled around his waist, inhaling his scent as if making a point to remember it while both giving and receiving comfort. So it's with the thought of how things change so rapidly here at Xanadu and the nebulous understanding she has of dragon-rider bonding that she speaks, making herself say the words, "Whatever happens, I won't get in the way of it and… and I'll be wishing you luck-"

"Not nearly long enough," is Matrin's soft reply to how long he can stay. Whether that means the time is insufficient for sneaking out to skinny dip or just not enough time in general is hard to say. But then it is back to practical matters, and he pauses to look into the gold's little whirling eyes. "I think she will. All I get from her are images and a general sense of emotions, but she likes you. I imagine Seryth will be enough to keep her off the sands at any rate, and I think she's attached enough to not go wild." He shrugs, and the motion is enough to send her fluttering over to the mantle, leaving them to stand alone in the warmth and welcome comfort of the embrace. Her impromptu words make his mouth go soft around his smile and there is a bit of sheen in his eyes that he quickly blinks away. "I am not worried about you getting in the way. If a dragon wants me, it will have to love you too." Brave words for a man so concerned scarce minutes ago. "Thank you for the well wishes, but I am sure that whatever is meant to be will be. And regardless, I love you." By the end his hands are cupping her face, and he punctuates his words with a lingering kiss.

Sounding much like the birds that now greet the brightening morning as they swing from the willow strands outside, Mishkia offers a few chirps to young Scarlett as she flitters across the room. The feeling is certainly mutual and in there is the pleasure of doing something to help him while he faces his auspicious moment on the sands as she says, "I'm glad. I'll do my best to help her not be frightened." He may have been able to face her dry-eyed, but when he lifts her face to his, hers glitter with moisture. There's really nothing more to be said, but the words, "And I you," which are breathed against his lips as she returns his kiss, lingering in the sweetness as long as possible. When it ends, she reluctantly draws away, squaring her shoulders and lifting her chin to meet the hectic day ahead, offers her hand and accompanies him, not to a dip in the rock springs but to plunge into the whirl of activity wherever they are needed.

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