Call it a Date

Xanadu Weyr - Secret Garden Refuge
Constructed of hand-chiseled whitestone, this cottage is unique in that it appears to have been here from before the time Xanadu was founded, it's stones bearing a resemblance to the ruins in the old forest. Large windows, flanked by raw wooden shutters faded to a silvery-grey, have thick-leaded diamond panes that allow the meadow's light inside. Pink climbing roses scale the front wall, the porcelain blossoms scenting the air with their delicate fragrance and providing shade over the three shallow stone steps leading to a portico in which an arch-topped door is set.

The space within the cottage is vast, but simple. Stone floors are covered in large rugs in pale, pastel shades and the walls have been painted white. Some spaces have built-in storage: cupboards in the living room; counters and a cooling/heating unit for food in the kitchen, which is accessible via a door to the right. The living room has a double-wide, deeply-inset window that make the sunny room perfect for housing potted plants, Isyriath's portion opening off of one side. Comfortable couches in pale pink line two of the walls, standing opposite each other, a long, low table set between them in the centre of the room. On the wall, above one of the couches, hangs a painting of meadow, in which both the cottage and Marel herself feature, the picture signed with a capital M. To the rear of the cottage, a door to the left leads through to the main bedroom, while French doors open up onto a private courtyard, a garden enclosed within.

The autumn afternoon is fair and just slightly breezy. It's a comfortable temperature, cool enough perhaps for a light jacket, though most who are seen outside are going without. Ka'el is glad to be one who is outside instead of in the office, just barely escaping one last meeting before a break for lunch, and having a candlemark or two open before he's needed somewhere. That gives him … free time! And free time tends to lead to either naps, or time in the nursery, or inspired ideas. Today, he's being inspired. There's something going on out in the clearing. Music is being played by the senior apprentice harpers, which is drawing people to linger and watch with tapping toes. Ka'el has bypassed them and headed through the meadow with a smirk on his face as he approaches a familiar, flowery weyr. He meanders through the path and up to the front door, on which he brings his knuckles to knock. *knock-knock*. "Marel? It's Ka'el!" he calls.

It takes around a minute for Marel to make it to the door, though the presence of one of her firelizards amongst the greenery that clings to the cottage should be some reassurance that she's in, even if there's no sign of Isyriath. When she opens the door, she's not exactly presentable in the usual sense of the word, her long hair twisted and pinned up every which way, with a slim paintbrush lodged between one loop and the next, but at least the only other signs of that paint are in faint smudges on her hands and an odd stripe (that looks like it's been pawed at) down one side of her neck. "Are you okay?" she asks, which is often the first question she puts to anyone, concern lining her eyes.

Ka'el immediately grins when the door is opened, presenting Marel with a rather cheerful look. And…she has paint everywhere! Ok, well not everywhere in the sense that it's all over her, but it's in some places! Like that streak on her neck, which first gets his attention and causes him to laugh. "I am," he answers, eyes drifting from neck to face. "And I hope you are too? Though I've a feeling…" he says as he tries to peer over her shoulder, eyes narrowing with a look of suspicion, "that possibly…you've been taken hostage by a paint fiend. The elusive paint monster that trolls the forest until it gets the urge to lurk the Weyr proper and mark its prey with smudges of paint!" Another glare to the innerworks of her weyr, then he looks back to her. "Do you need rescuing? I may have paint remover somewhere. It's the only known thing that these monsters fear."

"I'm painting the skirting boards before I lose the will to," Marel replies, trying to look stern in the face of his response, but it's a battle lost with a slump of shoulders and a glimmer of a smile as she steps back from the door. "I might have to bathe in paint remover, later. Do you have enough for that?" Truth be told, the whole thing smacks of busy work, though it is at least a productive and necessary task. Self-consciously, she lifts a hand to scrub at her neck again, yet she leaves the paintbrush, lodged in her hair as it is. "I suppose I should be glad that I didn't think to paint them purple, or something equally ridiculous. Then you might have every right to believe I was attacked by a venomous creature." As it is, the white paint smudges don't look too bad.

"Mm, you could have someone do that for you," Ka'el suggests. "Though I know the feeling of doing something with your own two hands. The feeling of accomplishment! … And also the feeling that you haven't completely turned into a pompous ass by having everyone do little things for you just because you can." He grins and waves a dismissive hand at her scrubbing. "Leave it. It looks good! And I'd recommend a speckle of purple or maybe green, just for show, next time." He grins merrily at her, yet doesn't yield to her wordless invitation inside. "Nuh-uh," he says, shaking his head. "I've come to ask you out on a date. Right here, right now, paint washed and everything."

"I could, but then I'd be saying that I'm either too lazy or soon to be too fat to manage it myself without having to send out a distress call to get someone to haul me up off of the floor." Marel's answer is dry, her expression just a little rueful. Reaching out a mostly paint-free hand, she moves to clasp a palm around Ka'el's left shoulder. "You're a lot of pompous away from that yet," she declares oh-so-solemnly. "I promise I'll make it my duty to inform you in no uncertain terms if you ever officially reach Pompous Ass status." Standing there, just inside the rectangle of brighter light let in by the open door, she arches a brow as she processes his last couple of statements. "I'm… rather sure that you're not in that sort of weyrmating."

"And for that, my dear friend, I am thankful," answers Ka'el. It's good to know that he has Pompous Ass gauge! One needs to know when their levels are reaching the critical state. He lifts a hand to place it upon hers that resides on his shoulder, and her skeptical tone makes it rather difficult for him to not laugh again. But he does refrain! But he doesn't refrain from looking amused, as there is still a grin on his face. "You're absolutely right. That sort of proposal would definitely find me sleeping back in my old weyr for countless sevens, I'm sure. But it's not a date! Well, not that kind of romancing date, in any case. I want to take you out," he explains, nodding towards 'out'. "Because you need to have fun. I know that things have happened've every reason to ..not want fun. But, unfortunately for you, I am a friend of yours, and have been for a long time, and I'm now refusing to let fun be something that you miss out on for one moment longer.."

Marel listens with that scepticism still loud and clear in her however patient gaze, and, from there, she retreats back into an expression that's far more bland and difficult to read, her focus not quite on Ka'el at all. After a deep breath in and out, she declares, "Well, it's good to know that I'd be safe from any attempt at seduction; I'm not sure my heart could take it." No matter how much she tries to make it seem like a joke, that she still can't look at him as she says it suggests that there is an element of truth in her words. "…Where are we going, anyway?" At least she's not using the past tense now. "Does Isyriath need to come home?"

Ka'el shakes his head. "No need to call him from wherever he is," he answers, pressing past her distant look, determined to bring something close to a ray of sunshine to beam through the gloom, if even for just a short time. "We'll only be going to the clearing. The harpers are up to something. Showcasing their senior apprentices, from what I've gathered. And so they're putting on an impromptu show! People are gathering and taking lunch outdoors to listen. And where there's music, there's bound to be daaaancing.." he says, drawing his hand away as he takes a step back to give his hips a wiggle with a few dance steps. "And luck's on your side that you're in the presence of not only Xanadu's Weyrleader, but also Xanadu's most skilled dancer!" A self-appointed title, that one!

Marel makes every effort to keep a straight face as Ka'el launches into that wiggling, and though she manages to succeed, it's with a very artificial sort of solemnity that she informs him, "You were edging so far away from pompous until that last claim." Then she has to turn away, just so that she doesn't snigger at said wiggling right in his line of sight, and she lifts a hand to pull free the paintbrush that's lodged in her hair. That she vanishes through into the kitchen without further comment might not bode well, but she returns soon enough, the brush set down somewhere, and her hair unpinned, her hands even mostly free of paint, though that stripe down her neck remains. "Do we get to heckle if they turn out to be rubbish?" She probably doesn't mean that, but it is characteristic of the dryness of humour that's about all she can manage of late.

"What? That's not something a pompous person would say. That's something an honest person would say!" claims Ka'el oh so pompously, though thankfully the Weyrleader is merely being a goofball, which isn't too unusual at all. He narrows his eyes at her, perhaps sensing that she's laughing at his 'amazing' dance moves. But before he can properly reprimand her, she's off! Back into her weyr without a word. He waits, taking a few more practice steps to a song that only he can hear. She's…coming back, isn't she? He peers into her weyr unsurely after a few short seconds, though beams broadly as she returns, sans a bit of paint! "You clean up good," he says in a teasing tone as he offers his arm to her. He can be used a brace or merely a walking partner, whichever she prefers! "Actually, on my way here I heard someone shouting about the bowls of fruit they brought out being either for snacks or ammunition," he says thoughtfully. "We'll see. Hopefully, they've been practicing. I'd hate to see a perfectly good apple aimed at someone's head instead of being in my stomach!"

Marel pauses at the door for long enough to close and lock it, the key dropped into one of her pockets, before she accepts Ka'el's arm and loops her own through it, without too much - if any - leaning required once they get moving, though her gait is, as ever, thrown slightly off by her bad leg. "I don't know. If someone manages to refine the projectile potential of apples, we might save a lot on constructing all sorts of other weaponry. One quick apple to the head; job done." As they move off, the green firelizard who was clinging to the roses swoops down and lands possessively on the brownrider's shoulder, intent on claiming the best vantage point before any of the others get any ideas. A few more steps, then, out of nowhere, she asks: "Are you going to try and keep the knot, whichever queen rises next?"

"But think of the wasted apples," laments Ka'el while they walk. "On the ground rotting …. Though, he. Who're we kidding? The firelizards would make quick work of whatever's been wasted. Call them treats and Nugget will be all over them." He smirks for that thought as they go along, leaving behind the weyr to head towards the heart of the meadow. The green lizard that's made herself at home on Marel's shoulder is given a 'how do you do?' of greeting, right before Marel asks her question. He glances at her in slight question, but he answers easily. "I don't think I have much choice in the matter, huh? I mean … whether I want it or not, it's all…really up to the dragons and what they do." Heh. Go Kanekith, go? He wrinkles his nose briefly. "Kanekith'll chase no matter who it is that goes up. He chases golds. I … if he wins, I'll be glad to keep it… I think. I've gotten used to it by now, and Thea," he falters just slightly on the name, "had so much faith that I could do it. It'd feel.. wrong to not keep it up. But if he loses, it's out of my hands no matter what I want."

Kathy offers a chirp in response, not that she seems terribly interested in either Ka'el or Marel, her focus on making sure that she has what mastery a firelizard can of the person they've hatched into the life of. Marel ducks her head a little when she hears her mother's name, and closes her eyes for a moment or two, yet she manages to turn that twinge into a nod of acknowledgement after a few steps more through the meadow. "…For what it's worth, I hope it's you," she murmurs. "It should be you. I so rarely see—" She pauses, then starts up again. "Saw any of the goldriders who weren't Mama, that I can't really have an opinion there, and I don't directly answer to any of them anyway. But if I could choose someone to look to, it would be you."

Will Thea's name ever be uttered without a pause or a glance away? Maybe. A long time from now, even longer for her children, most likely. But at least .. they can mention her without tears. Fond memories. Or in Ka'el's case, a purposeful cause. His eyes turn to her as they walk, drawn towards the sound of music that drifts from the clearing. But it's her, not the music, which causes him to smile. "A Weyrleader told me once that it isn't only the dragons that win leadership flights. He said it's .. the will of the Weyr. I don't know how true that really is, but … if Kanekith does win whoever rises next…thinking that it'd because the Weyr wants me to lead them …. is a good thought. It'd make me feel like my time as Weyrleader has been useful to everyone. That I've helped people in some way." He smiles crookedly. "Thank you, Marel. Hearin' that from you means a lot." He squeezes at her arm a bit, then grins broadly as he looks ahead. "That means you've won an extra dance from me! Come on, let's have fun. A picnic lunch and dancing. It'll be a great date for the both of us." And hopefully no poor harper apprentice gets knocked over the head with flying fruit!

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