An Invitation

Xanadu Weyr - Thea's Weyr

This clearing is sheltered by a thick canopy of trees, which seems supported at its centre by an immense, wild-growing fellis tree. Hanging from one of its high branches is a swing, made up of two ropes and a seat of softwood and leather. The grass is tall here and interrupted in places by clusters of white and blue alyssum. Alyssum covers the indentation of the wallow, remaining hardy despite being continually crushed. The constant sound of herdbeast in their pens can be heard close-by, though its source is invisible through the foliage.

The cottage itself is made of white softwood, like birch, though creeping vines cover all four of its walls from the outside and even encircle the brown-shuttered windows and matching door. The interior floor and walls are raw wood that has been sanded and lacquered to make them smooth and, for the most part, the inside is quite spacious. The bedroom area is plain, an ornately carved wardrobe providing the only real decoration, and at the rear of the cottage a brown lattice has been built into the doorway to a makeshift kitchen, where a breakfast nook has been carved into the wall, along with short counters. On one counter, a circle has been cut out and fixed with a clay-fired bowl with a nearby matching pitcher.

It is early evening in Xanadu, the sky is washed in a flush of pink and peach. Dragons and riders alike are settling for the night, bringing a rare tranquility to this part of the weyr. In the clearing, alyssum wafts its sweet scent, while small insects twinkle their lights at play. From the lower branches of the huge Fellis tree hang several glowlights in opaque golden baubles lending a hazy luminescent light, just enough to cast a halo under the canopy. There's a soft sound drifting across Thea's clearing, the sound of someone singing quietly. It's obviously not meant to be overheard, so some of the words cannot be discerned. The tune is a happy, lilting song sung in a tongue unspoken in Xanadu.

Into the domestic tranquility of a goldrider finally home and peace, footsteps intrude. There's even a bit of noise as a branch is pushed aside, almost unseen until the last minute as Enkavir's attentions are on a hastily sketched map. Following the sounds that announce his approach he appears, a glow basket slung over one elbow and the tattered bit of scrap paper held up to his eyes. He lowers it, blinks, then shoves the paper in his pocket as this does seem to be the place. In addition to the glowbasket he's got a bag slung over his shoulder and a bunch of wildflowers in his hand. "Thea?" It's a quiet call, just enough to interrupt the song.

The song ends abruptly. For several seconds there is naught but silence. "Up here." That is all Thea says, but the small sound of a snapping twig high overhead in the tree can be heard. The song resumes, but the melody changes, sweetly poignant in its refrain. There's a breathless pause, "Come to visit? You must see me up here." Her words issue a lighthearted invitation before resuming the song. Seryth is nowhere to be found in the clearing this evening as the dusk deepens and the night insects add their cadence to the notes that Thea sings, entwining timbre with counterpoint.

Enkavir lifts his basket as if the glowlight could reach all the way up into the tree. He arches a quizzical brow but ambles over, leaning a hip against the trunk and peering up into the branches. "I do see you, or hear you at least. I have indeed come to visit and I even come bearing gifts, but you don't seriously expect me to climb up there do you?" A hint of his usual crooked grin shadows around his mouth, but even in the low light his eyes are flat. Not amused. "What is that song," he asks more lightly. "It's lovely."

The song ends mid-note. Thea sighs, "Oh, something about the moon rising and a ship sailing. Something my Ma used to sing me." She shifts on a branch, tiny bits of bark shower down. Out from the thick canopy she asks plaintively, "Not coming up, then? I was just… tired of being ground-tied and… Seryth cannot fly tonight." The branches rustle a bit as she descends almost to the point where she can see Enkavir and he can see her. "Don't you ever climb trees?" There's a wistful note in her voice, but her eyes are laughing. "Been aching to climb this since Seryth and I were assigned the place, but there has never been time." She leans, down, hanging by one arm, the other reaches towards him, "I'll give you a hand up, if you want?" There's a bit of dare gleaming in her eye.

"It's-" Enkavir breaks off as bits of bark come filtering out of the branches. He grimaces a bit, leans down to brush the debris out of his hair, which leaves his rats nest of a mop even more disheveled than usual. Not that the difference is terribly notable considering the previous state. "Don't come down, I'll come up." He waves a hand up at her as if the gesture will keep her stationed in the branches, his tone more resigned than excited. "No, I don't generally climb trees. Did you see me climb /Seryth/? Not a talent of mine. Let's hope I don't break something, yeah?" By the end there's a twinkle of amusement in his eyes, and he sets down his glows, rearranges the sack on his shoulder, and grabs the nearest branch. Swinging upward, he plants the bunch of flowers in Thea's outstretched arm, leaving him with both hands to cling and readjust until he's perching on the branch. There might be a low-muttered oath, but it's hard to decipher. "Why can't Seryth fly?"

Thea blinks at the flowers for a moment, "Thanks?" For the flowers, or for climbing she doesn't clarify. Now she has but one hand to climb with and for a moment she looks a bit unsure. Then she shrugs and tucks them into the waistband of her tunic. She slants a look at Enkavir and her lips twitch, "Practice is all you need." Green eyes dance as she considers him for a moment, "She's fed well. Long time since she's hunted." Then she's reaching for another branch to pull herself back up the tree, "Come see what I found up here." As she nears the top, she calls down, "Someone built a chair up here." Perhaps she knows he needs some kind of encouragement.

Enkavir winces slightly at her confusion with the flowers - not the smartest move handing them to her up in a tree. "Uh, you could probably just drop those." They are tied with a ribbon and might survive the fall just fine. Better than Thea would if they distract her too much anyhow. As she tucks them in her waistband he nods approval, giving her a chagrined smile. "Nicely done. And… practice. Right." He is far more tentative than she is, giving the branch above him a little tug to make sure it's connected well, planting his feet on the trunk and carefully levering himself upward. "A chair." It's flat, dry, and not really a question. "Neat?" He's scowling at the tree like it's done him a personal insult by existing and tempting Thea to climb, but he finds another suitable branch and up he comes. "Don't look down, that's what they say right?"

Thea has the grace to behave - at least she doesn't needle him or climb like an old Earth monkey. She's sedate as she climbs, "Don't look up, either," her voice comes from somewhere above him, "Or you'll get bark bits in your eye. And that's even less fun, trust me." She reaches the wide seat - made long ago with sturdy split logs fastened by long wooden pegs that also anchor it to a three-branch y in the huge limbs. She pulls herself into it and slides over to give him room. Above them the canopy provides privacy, yet thins to give a fairly decent view of the darkening sky, already sprinkled liberally with faint stars. "So, ah, what's in that bag you're toting?" Ever curious this one.

Enkavir has the grace not to swear loudly and liberally. There may be a few mumbled under his breath, but with the racket he's making - shoving branches around, stamping before putting his weight on each new step - it's hard to tell. "If you were wearing a skirt I might risk a whole stick in my eye," he calls up, mischief outweighing the irritation in his voice. But then they arrive at the destination and he wobbles a bit before flumping down beside her on the bench. "The things I do for you, woman," he growls at her, but it's playful even if he is nearly out of breath. Letting out a long sigh he scoots over and snatches up her hand, lacing his fingers through hers. "Luckily I'm not afraid of heights." The bag, he makes sure is well out of reach. "Let me catch my breath first would you?" But he won't leave her totally hanging. "A present."

Thea can't help but laugh at that, "Alas for you, I am not." She's still in the lightweight, now-rumpled linen clothes from her time on the Sands. As he reaches the seat and slides over, she smiles sweetly, "Thank you for that." And she genuinely means it from her tone as she allows her hand to be taken, she curls her fingers round his and waits for his breathing to slow, her eyes still have a bit of tease therein, one finger is held up, "Ah, but are you afraid of madwomen in treetops is the real question." Her head tilts as she muses, "Really? Not my turnday or anything…" But she is content to wait and so she leans against him, pillowing her head upon his shoulder and watching his face until he is ready to speak.

Enkavir has the energy to snap the fingers of his free hand, feigning disappointment. "Maybe next time." He blinks at her thanks, waves them away with that same hand. "No thanks necessary, you'd do the same for me I'm sure." Her question only makes him chuckle, a long low rumble as he shakes his head. "Apparently I am not, though I may regret my lack of caution when I fall on my head on the way down. I don't think you're mad anyhow, perhaps a bit unhinged from too much time confined to the sands." He idly smoothes a wrinkled patch of pants along her knee, then twists to pull a package out of his bag. It's just under a foot long and nearly as wide, but only an inch or so tall, wrapped in a length of lovely emerald-green sisal that by itself is part of the gift. The object inside the material is hard, with straight edges.

"Oh, absolutely I would! Can't be very often a skirt-wearing tree-climbing man happens along in one's life." Thea quips. At his next words she pretends to pout, but she can't sound annoyed at him, "I am not unhinged! Wanted to climb this long before being sands-confined." He laughs and her lips part in baffled surprise, "I don't think I've ever heard you do that before." When Enkavir pulls out the package she draws a quick breath. "You weren't kidding?" She's in a bit of awe, "It's pretty packaging. But…" She's shaking her head, "Why is this?" Her eyes raise to his, trying to read the expression of them.

Enkavir raises one stalling finger, a brow arching. "Wait, wait. /You/ should wear a skirt. I am not wearing a skirt. Nor am I really a tree-climbing man. I am an unhinged-goldrider-chasing man, perhaps." His eyes narrow a bit then as he watches her, his grin lingering. "You've never heard me laugh? Surely that's not true. And that wasn't even a gut-busting, nearly leaking tears sort of laugh. You'll hear that one sometime too I have no doubt." Up go dark eyebrows then at her expression, and even if she's not beaming there's a definite glint of delight in his eyes which in the tree are nearly drab green. "Just because? And to commemorate your first clutch, and I admit, so that you put it by your bedside and think of me whenever you open your lovely eyes." For once his expression is easy to read. Warm and hopeful and anticipating her reaction when she opens it. "They said the length of sisal was enough to make a shirt or even a simple dress if it was a shortish one, which I would not complain about just so you know." He's in a jovial mood, giving her hand a little squeeze before releasing it.

"Yeah. Somehow I knew that wasn't even a remote possibility." Not that Thea's complaining. She shakes her head, "Pretty sure I hadn't heard you make that kind of sound yet. Uh mm, no." Her brow mimics his and she's fighting a smile as she drops her eye to that fabric, "I might, though. Be always pulling it down like it needed to be longer." She headtilts up at him, "To commemorate? That's…" She's at a loss for words then, her eyes a bit misty, "No one here does that sort of thing. X'hil just walked off. I didn't see the Senior Weyrwoman anywhere. No word from family." Not self-pitying, just fact. She pauses, then dares to lean over and gives his lips a gentle kiss, ducking her head afterwards as she whispers, "Thank you, Kav."

With eyes a bit widened, Enkavir gives Thea a pointed nod. "Not even remote, thank you for giving me that much credit anyhow." He settles back, and now that he has released her hand he lays his arm loosely over the chair behind her, fingers dangling on her shoulder. "Never, really? Well I must seem terribly intense and broody then." He knows it's true and it brings a quirky little grin to the edges of his mouth, which fades into mock disappointment at her comment about the dress. "Fine then, a shirt. Or scarves or a pillow or whatever you like. I thought the fabric would bring out your eyes." Her emotion at his little gift, which she hasn't even opened yet, brings a concerned crease to his brow and he just shakes his head. "My darling, this is nothing, not at all what you deserve. If the people around you make me seem like something special it only speaks to their inadequacies. Trust me." He accepts her kiss, curling a bit of sable hair into the fingers of his far hand. "You are welcome. Open it."

When she does open it, it is a sketch - brown ink on smooth heavy cream paper. The 'artist' (though he would never call himself that) is only decent, but he seems to have taken his lack of skill into account. Broad strokes and dramatic shading make up for the lack of detail, and the image simply fades to nothing without a background to speak of. It is clearly Seryth on the sands, curled around a dozing Thea at some unknown moment. A few of the eggs can be seen, identifiable by their interesting markings. In the lower right corner is simply an E in exaggerated strokes. The frame is nicer perhaps than the picture, intricately carved knotwork along every side, stained a deep green to contrast the sepia tones of the sketch.

Thea flashes an uncertain look at the nod, but she doesn't comment. Instead her fingers trace the fabric, "We'll see how much material there is here and I'll surprise you one day. How's that? The color is lovely. My favorite." She listens to him and shrugs, faintly puzzled yet again. Perhaps she just doesn't often see the shortcomings of others. She shakes her head, "I think," she says it slowly, "I could be with the richest Lord Holder’s family on Pern and you would still seem special to me." She tugs the ribbon, unwrapping the gift. "I…This is-" She stops, "You drew this, didn't you?" A finger traces the frame, "You carve wood too?" She looks up then meeting his eyes, "It's lovely. I will treasure it."

Enkavir reaches over to finger the fabric gently, nodding his approval. "I'd like that sort of surprise I think. I was going to /buy/ you something to wear, but I had a friend who was a Weaver at Landing and she would far rather make her own, so I was worried you wouldn't like anything I picked. I'm glad you like it." Her compliment leaves him clearing his throat and leaning his head back so he can look up at the leaf-obscured sky instead of at her. "Well the feeling is mutual. But you are, as we've noted, a bit groggy from heat and too much time confined to the sands. I'll ask you again when your life has been normal for a few sevens." His words are light but there's a little pucker to his brow, his lips a carefully neutral line. "Uh, no, I don't carve wood. I did commission it especially though, and yes I drew the sketch. Like I said, it's not much but I wanted you to remember one of the sweet moments instead of all the heat and frustration and restless times." He lifts his head so he can look down at her, an uncertain sort of smile ghosting around his mouth.

"I'm groggy, huh?" There's a bit of rebellion to Thea’s tone but she doesn't pursue it. Instead she gives him a careful look, eyes noting the neutrality and avoidance. She places the gift on the seat beside her with a small sigh. When he lowers his eyes, hers are watching that odd smile, flickering up to meet his. Perplexed now, she opens her mouth to ask and just stops, her lips pressing together in an unhappy line. It's as if she must keep herself from saying something she'll regret later. She drops her head, allowing her hair to shield her face. In a low voice, "You'll ask me what in a few sevendays?"

Enkavir rolls a shoulder. "You said you weren't unhinged." His bit of smile fades when she looks away with that unhappy expression. It draws his own brow down into a frown and he lets his breath out in a rush of air. "Thea. Don't…" he trails off, reaching down to lift her hair and tuck it behind her ear as he leans to peer under it. "I'll ask you if you still think I'm special. Once you're sane again. It was sort of supposed to be a joke." But only sort of, as his expression clearly said at the moment, though all it speaks of now is entreaty. He pauses, but puts aside the instinct to withdraw remembering that puzzled light in her eyes. "It is hard for me to believe you might actually like me," he finally confesses in a rush. "And it's not easy for me to admit that out loud either, but I'd rather you laugh at me than give me that look. OK?" His eyes, shadowed but not shuttered, are almost pained as he slides a finger under her chin, hoping to bring her head up. "Please?"

Thea allows that finger to lift her face and there is pain in her eyes as she returns his look, listening carefully as he speaks, "Oh, a joke." She doesn't sound relieved or amused. The green of her eyes is shadowed as they flicker across his face, lingering on his brows and mouth, then and back to his eyes, much like one would read a book. "You seemed… remote when you said it and I was confused, but Kav…" Her voice trails off. She swallows, pushes herself to continue, "I wish you would understand something." She focuses on his shirt collar, for it's easier to think when she isn't looking into those eyes of his, "It's gone way beyond like, if you want to know the truth." And she finishes that in a rush, much as he did a moment ago.

"Sort of a joke," Enkavir amends half-heartedly as she fails to appreciate the lame attempt at humor. He tugs his fingers through his hair, then tightens his hold on her shoulders with the other arm. As usual he meets her assessing eyes with a level look of his own, watching her watching him. "Remote because if you did decide that it was all sands-induced imagination and you don't like me after all, that would be just about the worst thing I can think of." He admits it slowly, teeth brushing his lower lip. But then she's rushing through her own confession and his brows slowly lift. "Yeah?" A smile trickles onto his lips and he looks down at their paired hands laced together. "I feel the same way but I didn't really think /you/ did. I'm just… me."

Thea dares to peek up from the spot on Enkavir's shirt, meeting his eyes once again. There's a quick shake of her head, admitting, "The sands are hot, but I am not so easily driven insane." A hint of a smile reaches her lips, although it's a bittersweet one and her eyes unreadable. "You could not see?" Thea's genuinely puzzled, but she waves that off. Instead she lifts one hand, resting it lightly over were is heart is. "Everyone else can, but maybe it's because they've never seen me…" Her voice trails off for a moment as she drops her head and she's once again hidden behind that dark curtain her hair so conveniently provides, "…care so much for someone." She can't look up at him just yet as she adds, "That's just it, see? You're just you. I don't think I'll ever want any-" A half-breath and she finishes, "-anything else." From somewhere out in the area of the Feeding Grounds there's a warble carried by the still night air. From inside her sanctuary and Thea's lips curve in a small, amused smile as she coughs suddenly.

Enkavir lets out a little sigh at that peek, his own lips taking on the faintest of grins. "Well that is a relief at least, since you'll be out there somewhat regularly. It was the only reason I could think of that might make you care for me though so…" he trails off to silence, rolling his shoulders in a shrug. "I thought I could see but couldn't quite make myself believe." The warble makes him lift his eyes, glance that way and then back with a brow quizzically quirked. "What does /she/ have to say about all of this?" It is perhaps an easy break to the intensity, though he's inching closer until their sides are pressed together, leaving one arm around her shoulder while the other sneaks inside that hair curtain to cup her cheek. "Confessions of love and defining of relationships aren't things that I'm practiced at, any more than climbing trees. But I am glad to hear you feel the same way I do."

"I've never invited anyone else to climb my tree," Thea points out sweetly reasonable. Weyrwoman's logic, that. "X'hil was out on the sands quite a bit also, but it didn't make me care for him. Wanted nothing more than to kick him." As his hand cups her cheek she raises her head, the ice green in her eyes dances with mischief as they meet his, "Who said anything about love?" There's a teasing note in the words, "I just want you around for your tree-climbing abilities!" Her eyes crinkle and she can no longer keep her grin from spreading, "Oh, Seryth? She says-" She must try to keep from laughing, "-if you were a bronze dragon, she'd steal you from me. So I'd better not let you get away."

Enkavir makes a show of leaning to peer down at all the limbs he had to clamber up to arrive at this seat - and the broken twigs and crunched leaves left in his wake. "Hmm. I might prefer the kick." He quips, impish, and then winces as if away from an incoming smack. Peeking at her sidelong, he straightens when she raises her head, his hand still solidly in place against her soft skin. "Love? I didn't mention love. Did I? Confessions of deep caring then, how is that?" For all that his tone is light again now (whiplash) his eyes are intent. But then it's back to Seryth, and even if she's not laughing he is. He chuckles quietly and shakes his head. "She's pretty wonderful. She's lucky I like her as much as I do or I might be jealous of what the two of you have. And I guess you're lucky I'm not… a dragon?" Yes, something like that.

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