Xanadu Weyr - Steward's Office

The office of the Steward is a place for things to pass through. On the side of the wooden desk nearest the door are a pair of boxes labeled In and Out. The center of the desk provides a place to process those papers, with a set of draftsman's tools - pens, pencils, rulers and compasses - tucked in a small wooden box. The computer, as it receives fewer messages, is set off to the side of the desk.
One thing that stays in the office is the Steward himself - at least, so long as he holds that office - and so there's a comfortable chair behind that desk, as well as a pair of plain wooden ones in front of it for those passing through.
Bookshelves line the walls, crammed with tomes ranging in topic from weather patterns of the southern continent to crop output for the last one hundred turns. They are some the many things of which a Steward must have a passing knowledge - one sufficient to let him delegate the rest. To record the events so delegated, there are a pair of file cabinets full of paperwork not yet so historical as to merit relocation to the archives.

There exists a certain ambiguity regarding whether Jethaniel is working late today. He is in his office, seated at his desk, but while documents exist in his inbox which require his attention, he does not have any of them out in front of him. He might be waiting for a meeting, but there are no appointments listed on either his calendar or the one currently sitting on his desk beneath a piece of tissue crumpled around a small object. It is plausible that he is merely considering on some work-related topic; Jethaniel's expression is a thoughtful one, a faint frown, and while his fingers toy restlessly with a small silver-and-gold object, at this particular moment he does not appear to be observing it in a non-tactile sense. If he is working late, it is not very late; dinner is being served in the caverns and people are still in the process of their emergence to that meal.

Darsce's workday is just now ending, having seen that dinner is progressing smoothly despite her initial impression that the meal tastes…odd. But she's been assured - and overruled by one of her assistants, corralled as taste-tester and also by Cook - that the fare is not only acceptable, but delicious. Eheheh… this is awkward still and Darsce beats a swift retreat to see if Jethaniel is free. At least the meals she eats these days stay down, though she may have to settle for the vegetables and bread. The admin wing is at least quieter than it was when she'd last traveled the corridor, nevertheless she knocks lightly upon the steward's office door, though doesn't wait for an answer before poking her head in. There's a small breath out, relieved she hasn't interrupted a meeting; she could have waited, but noooo, she's not seen her husband all afternoon. Impatience, thy name is Darsce! Or maybe that's eager. Regardless, the smile that began as a prelude to her greeting changes to a flickery ,uncertain thing as she catches sight of his face. Easing into the room, closing the door behind her with a backwards press of manicured fingertips, she starts towards his desk, while asking quietly, "Something wrong?"

At the tap of fingers on his door, Jethaniel begins to look up and adjust his expression toward one of neutrality. At the sight of Darsce, he ceases the attempt. The somber cast remains, but it cohabits with a smile for her presence. The time since he has last seen her - while insignificant according to any number of scales - is nevertheless longer than he would, under ideal circumstances, wish. He turn toward her, reaching out his hand in a silent invitation as the fingers of the other curl themselves lightly around that watch, feeling the textured metal press against his palm. "Not as such." Which is to say… "Nothing new." Everything which is, at present, wrong has been so for some time; it is merely discovered, in an emotional sense, at a variable rate. Jethaniel may comprehend certain matters swiftly; others take time to be truly understood, and that comprehension may come in increments as his experiences provide a new context for assessing them. "Mur'dah says hello."

Try as she might not to think on things, thoughts of Thea's accident will creep in now and then. Cyrus was correct in one sense; Darsce is not a dragonrider. However, she knows what he's failed to grasp: the death of the queen and Weyrwoman affected people she cares about and thus affects her, however indirectly. For Jethaniel's answer, there's empathy iceblue of her eyes and they hold his steadily as she approaches him. His hand invites, though she's just as likely to invade his space without it, and so while she places her hand into his, she also keeps right on going around the end of his desk stopping only when she's behind it and beside his chair. There, she kicks off her dress shoes, hikes her skirt a bit for ease of maneuvering, climbs into his lap, loops her free arm about his neck and curls into him. Mur'dah's name draws a grimace of guilt. "I need to try harder at catching up with him," she mutters before she kisses Jethaniel's cheek and eases back enough to eye the thing he's holding, most likely wondering, by the quizzical look he's given next, why he was frowning at the pocket watch when she'd entered. "That's pretty. Is it broken?"

Jethaniel's fingers curl around Darsce's, and as her approach continues, his arm adjusts as indicated by an inclination to do the same. It may be implausible to call something so welcomed an invasion; Jethaniel finds his space substantively improved by the presence of Darsce. He has already placed his chair at sufficient distance from his desk that Darsce may seat herself, and as such, he merely waits for her to do so, his fingers providing a gentle caress to hers. His eyes half-close as she settles into place, and he breathes out, the positions of his arms adjusting to encompass her and welcome her to this position even if the hands themselves remain occupied. "He is desirous of that." Jethaniel's tone regarding Darsce's brother is factual; a report, not an imperative or request for action. That desire - unlike the one to have Darsce pressed close against him - is not Jethaniel's, though he conveys it; nor is he averse. He merely states Mur'dah wishes, since he has been requested to do so… and has no reason not to oblige his brother in law to at least that extent. Darsce's kiss increases the proportion of smile which is present relative to pain, and he lowers his head slightly, observing her face in preference to the further visual contemplation of that artifact of temporal measurement he holds. "It is not," he nevertheless answers, because he does not need to view it further to state that it is functional. "It is…" He hesitates, his eyes lowering to trace the line of jaw instead of cheek. "…mine." So saying, he lifts it, uncurls his fingers to reveal golden filigree on silver, patterns of dragons and the name… Thea.

Darsce nods about Mur'dah. "I should find Marel also." Her expression is both wistful and disquieted as she adds reluctanly, "I will… soon." Even though he's merely passing on a message, she seems to want to assure him - perhaps herself as well - that she intends to. His, he says of the watch and her attention returns to it, her lips part as though a question might spring from them but his fingers move revealing the cover. "Oh!" That was Thea's. But now… "Yours?" There's nothing but surprise in the question, "She gave it to you…or…?" She bends closer to examine it but makes no attempt to touch it.

A small silver pocketwatch. It's not small enough to easily be lost, however. The outside of the case is silver, decorated with filigreed patterns of gold carved delicately into its surface. The patterns are two silhouettes of gold dragons chasing each other around the circumference of the front of the watch. Their looping bodies form a circle that decorates the front of the case. In the area left open and free of their antics is carved a single word, in gracefully-looping filigreed lettering


When the watch is open, it reveals the face of the watch, where the time is displayed. The hands are black, with gold-leaf inlayed in them. The face itself is white, and upon it there is a depiction of a gold dragon. But not just any gold, as the word in black-outlined golden filigree lettering notes. It reads:

Thea and Seryth

May your days be filled with light

Jethaniel nods slightly, an acknowledgment of the social imperative for Darsce to encounter her half-siblings and engage in the reaffirmation and continuation of familial bonds. "When you are ready." He has no intention of making such a plan on her behalf. He has conveyed the message; that is all… so far as that matter is concerned. So far as the watch in his hand… Darsce's surprise is not unexpected, nor is her question. "No." Jethaniel's smile turns wry, his observation remaining as one of Darsce rather than the watch he holds. "She might have preferred it as a posthumous investment in the Weyr, but… I find the sentimental value more significant than the monetary." His lips twitch, a brief increase in the intensity of his smile that fades as he exhales. "I wished a reminder."

Darsce might squirm a little after verbalizing that intent, her discomfiture, if not her reasoning clear. She nods absently, murmuring, "I…miss them," but her attention, perhaps deliberately so, remains upon the watch. She has nothing to add about the Weyr's monetary status, though a sidelong glance is flicked at him for his clarification. A remembrance. "It's… fitting," she agrees quietly, a glance flitting down to the calendar underneath the watch, "She managed our schedules, after all." And that's about the sum total she knows about the Weyrwoman's interaction with the admin staff - aside from delegation and follow up. "I'm glad they left you something." Here she assumes those, the family of Thea, who dispersed her belongings made the decision. "It's lovely," she says at last, leaning back against him and redirecting her attention to his face. "But… it doesn't seem to be bringing you as much comfort as I might imagine." There's a hint of a question there at the end of that observation. A tacit admission that she could be way off.

Schedule management. Jethaniel smiles faintly, the expression one with an undercurrent of pain. "To a certain extent." When Thea involved herself with Jethaniel's schedule, it was usually to inform him that he should be working fewer hours than indicated by his projections… which, admittedly, were made in an attempt to accomplish the projects she suggested. The equilibrium was both dynamic and complex. Jethaniel lowers his head at Darsce's gratitude, admitting quietly, "I did not entirely present it as a choice." Though even so, Marel suggested the theoretical potential for this bequeathal and Mur'dah did not choose to dispute Jethaniel's statement. He traces his thumb along the edge of it, then lifts his gaze to Darsce once again. "It is… not intended as a comfort." He curls his fingers around the pocketwatch, lowers it to his desk and sets it down. His hand rises without it, and Jethaniel's fingers brush gently down along Darsce's cheek, then trace back along her jaw. "She had a tendency to excess in work." There is a certain aspect of a pot-kettle scenario in Jethaniel's use of such a description; that is, in fact, the point. "I reminded her to take time for herself." By managing her schedule, to provide it at regular intervals. Jethaniel lifts his eyes to Darsce's, lingers there as his fingers curve against her cheek. "I wish that reminder."

To a certain extent; Darsce concedes this point with a small inclination of her head. She'd set her own appointments, the tasks of the day, but her restdays and leave were determined by Thea. His admission draws a direct look, a slim brow lifting in silent question. He's stated a preference? She finds this significant in ways others will not, but doesn't comment upon that; he'll already know the reasons for her marveling over that. "How'd you know of the watch?" She never saw Thea pull it out and use it; in fact, the Senior never appeared hurried to her. Her eyes drop to his hand, watching as the thumb brushes the curve of the timepiece. They then lift to his when he speaks again. The iceblue grows puzzled, concern growing as he completes the thought. She's silent while his hand touches her cheek, moves only to press it closer to his hand. "Dark sentiments, Jethaniel…?" She falters to a halt, but her eyes remain on his and her brows partially knit while she completes the question, "You think it's your fault? That…she died?"

Jethaniel is capable of so doing; Darsce knows this. She also knows that the… motivation required… can be significant. He inclines his head slightly to acknowledge the arch of her brow, though his eyes remain steady. He has done so. He… does not appear to regret it; he has the pocketwatch. "It was in her desk. I discovered it while cleaning." A self-appointed task, once it had become clear that Thea would not be returning to do so herself. As Darsce's perplexity - and concern - grows, Jethaniel's expression echoes it, particularly as she speaks of the darkness of those sentiments. His brow furrows, though his fingers are warm and gentle against her cheek, and he listens to her question… "Ah." Comprehension, and he shakes his head. "In a sense, but no." He could construct a chain of events such that causation would descend to him. "It was her choice." To actually take that restday; to go to Cold Stone. "I…" Jethaniel pauses, takes a breath as his thumb traces the line of Darsce's cheekbone. "I wish I had not scheduled that restday, but it is not my fault she… died." He attempts a smile; the intention is to reassure Darsce, but his sorrow remains present.

Darsce does know. That he did proves how strongly he'd felt and so the arm she has about his neck curls further, drawing him closer. She leans in for a moment, brushes a soft kiss to his brow, after which she leans her forehead against his and says lowly, "I'm glad you did." Even though it is not intended for comfort. The voiced intent still troubles her, as evidenced by the pinch of her brow that he'll feel against his. She nods as to where he found the watch - he'll feel the slight movement of her head before she eases back, eyes seeking his face as he answers her regarding blame. "And she's the one who didn't check with the High Reaches before Betweening there. Or… went anyway," she reasons, albeit reluctant to disparage Thea. Reassured? Oh most certainly! He'll see that in the easing to the line of her shoulders, the breath out, though iceblue remains shadowed. "Why do you wish you hadn't? And if so… why do you want the reminder?" Oh, that sorrow! It's understandable, even so, her heart aches for him; he'll see it in her eyes.

If Jethaniel had been the one to suggest that trip… ah, but he was not; he knows he was not, and so he may merely nod to Darsce as she aportions that responsibility to Thea. Despite that knowledge… "If I had not, she might have lived." Jethaniel's mouth tugs sideways, a wry expression. "It is irrational," he admits, and further, "It is not my fault." He knows this; he states it now to Darsce, as he has stated it to himself. "Nevertheless…" His eyes lower, tracing Darsce's lips, and then Jethaniel touches those lips with his own for a brief moment before his eyes lift to hers once more. "I took it," the watch, that is, "because it is a reminder to take time. To not always be in the office; to remember that… there are things far more important than work." He tilts his head closer, offers Darsce another gentle brush of his lips.

Darsce listens to Jethaniel as she always does, with intense focus and the desire to understand his mind as well as a calm confidence that his reasoning, once heard, will be logical and moreover, perhaps more importantly, sound. She doesn't disagree with his conclusion by either argument or equivocation, but it's obvious the thought is… troubling to her; clearly she doesn't like anything said that might seem to disparage him, either. One corner of her mouth curls downward before she firmly halts the progress to what would be a frown instead of neutral acceptance and her lips remain so as they meet his, though his touch is, as always, welcome. She attempts a smile when his eyes seek hers, but they're far too bright, her throat too tight to reply verbally and so she nods mutely while the sad line of her lips eases slowly. Her answer is elaborated on as a willing meeting to that offer, her mouth this time soft, her emotion betrayed in the slight quiver of lips that return his kiss with sorrow, regret…and the sweet promise of those tomorrows, of the time he will take. She will be there.

The first touch of Jethaniel's lips is the briefer, and it may - given that unhappy neutrality to Darsce's lips - hold something of an apology to it, placed with a tilt of his head to below the implied center of mass to her mouth. That she wishes to hear his thoughts does not necessarily imply her enjoyment of them; nevertheless… he speaks to her of the hypotheticals he ponders, the emotions he feels. If she dislikes some of them, so does he; they are still felt, still spoken. Others… The second kiss is more lingering, soft and tender. Jethaniel will take time; he does take time, before his lips draw back - just a little; enough that he may speak, his breath felt as he murmurs in a voice barely-there, "I am yours."

"It's not your fault," Darsce echoes as their lips part the first time. Agreement, yes, but also staunch defense for though spoken quietly, the words are intensely-pitched. She'd better not overhear anyone implying otherwise either! She'd rather be troubled for him than not know his mind, accepting both light and dark musings, because she is here for him and such is conveyed the second time their lips meet. Her breath mingles with his as she agrees with a subtle growl, faintly playful, "You are mine." The arm curled about his neck tightens again, the fingers twined with his press possessively in a quasi-pounce as she completes the affirmation, "And I am yours." She leans closer, the low-voiced purr meant to tickle his ear has nothing to do with food, "I'm hungry. We should go-" Her eyes begin their sweep towards the door, her head, already angled suggesting they depart through it stops the motion as her gaze settles instead on his desk. "What's that?" Idly curious, she's looking at the crumpled tissue.

Jethaniel inclines his head to acknowledge that agreement. External confirmation can be important; Darsce - and her being here for him - is assuredly so. Her defense of him may not actually be necessary in this case, but her inclination to do is nevertheless comforting. Their lips linger in the second kiss, and her agreement following that makes his curve upward. His thumb brushes along the side of her hand, his other hand teasing past the bottom of her ear and slowly tracing down along the side of her neck. "You are." Jethaniel smiles, and as Darsce leans toward him, his fingertips brush back toward her nape, a soft tease. While there does not exist a specified duration for these claims (indeed, they are intended in perpetuity insofar as that is possible), it is certainly clear that now - after working hours - they predominate. Jethaniel holds his breath for a moment, the better to listen to Darsce's words, and his caress continues down her neck… only to pause at her question. His eyes lift, seeking… "Ah." The tissue. More significantly, the contents thereof. "I also found that." His fingers hesitate, unwilling to abandon their position in order to satisfy Darsce's… curiosity, then slip away reluctantly to spread the tissue with splayed fingers and show the faded, stained Weyrsecond's knot that lies within.

Jethaniel's touch pleases Darsce, she makes that clear in the catch of breath and the shiver of her body as his fingers travel from her ear to her neck. She'd encourage him further, but they're in his office and while sitting on his lap with be awkward, should someone walk in, undoing buttons might be even more so. Her fingers release his reluctantly as they move to untwine - perhaps because she'd prefer to relocate - but also due to curiosity. She watches as his hand exposes the knot, obviously worn for some time by the condition of the braided cords. A weyrsecond's knot. Found in Thea's desk. Her eyes linger upon it, though she's seen it many times before. She tucks her chin, lowering her head, yet without taking her eyes off of the loops of blue, orange and silver. "Papa's knot," she whispers through the sudden constriction of her throat. "You…kept it?"

Were they not in his office, Jethaniel would assuredly be inclined to go further. Were the door locked, their location might nevertheless not be a significant impediment despite the questions it raises regarding sublocational selection and sound isolation. However, Darsce is not the only person who enters the Steward's office without waiting to be invited, and as such, any inclinations of hands to roam should first be applied in a synechdochal sense. Prior to that, however, Darsce may observe the condition of her father's knot. Jethaniel nods, and then his lips part. "Thea kept it." The clarification is a mild one, made as his other hand rises to brush fingers gently along Darsce's hair. "According to procedure, it should be destroyed." His head lifts, lips brushing to her temple. "I have made no decisions concerning it." Unlike the pocketwatch he chose to keep, or the other artifacts which he passed to Mur'dah without particular comment. This knot is less relevant to Jethaniel; the aspect of Thea's life which it represents is not one in which he had significant involvement, though he is certainly aware of it.

Rome home? Totally works for Darsce, but at the moment all she can do is continue staring at that knot. Her hand reaches towards it, fingertips lightly tracing the cords, following the path the loops make as Jethaniel speaks. Her eyes flick to him, back to the knot with a barely perceptible nod following the correction. She coughs once to get her voice under control, "I assumed you found it with her things, yes." And yet… here it is, on Jethaniel's desk. The silence stretches and while Jethaniel strokes her hair, her fingers continue to caress the knot. Regret slowly replaces the yearning in her expression followed by a gradual resignation at Jethaniel's mention of procedure. She tucks her chin further, withdraws her hand back into her lap and closes her eyes at the touch of his lips to her temple. Of course it should be destroyed. It's the best way to keep it from falling into the wrong hands and being misused. She, of all people, knows that firsthand. And yet, she murmurs, "Must it?"

Despite his statement otherwise, Jethaniel has in fact made a number of decisions concerning this knot. He decided to take it from Thea's desk; he decided to keep it here instead of destroying it. He has decided to present regulations to those who inquire concerning it. What remains undecided? Jethaniel is quiet as Darsce observes her father's former knot, his own attention remaining on her. D'had's influence on Jethaniel's life has always primarily been an indirect one, mediated through Darsce; now is no exception. Jethaniel's head lingers near Darsce's, but he's slow to answer that question. Should it? Yes. An easy answer, an obvious answer. The potential for misuse is significant. Must it? Jethaniel hesitates. His eyes leave Darsce for a moment, looking to the knot itself. The physical answer is obvious, but the question asked is not one of material properties. Must it? "…no." Jethaniel closes his eyes. "Not necessarily."

The protest, as such, is almost rhetorical, though the longing in her tone makes it more of a plea than anything else. A plea Darsce in no way expects… Her eyes blink open at the answer and she turns her head towards Jethaniel, leaning a little to study his face. That it is here on his desk and he hasn't already disposed of it slowly dawning on her. For the tone with which his two words had been spoken, she shifts uneasily, almost guiltily. "No? But- Then why-?" She doesn't allow hope to color the sputtered words, only surprise. She leans to gently scoop up the knot, carefully cradling it in her palms. Her words are spoken as she bends to gaze at it, "It's all that's left of-" a sidelong glance to Jethaniel and back to the knot, "-a time when he was was…my papa." Because he sure isn't now! Not the way he is. Wistfully, "I would like a reminder that he was alive enough to…" Her words trail off in a sigh and she hugs the knot tenderly to her cheek before abruptly offering it back to Jethaniel. "You should burn it." She turns her head away, her mouth trembles briefly; she halts it with effort. "Thank you for letting me see it one more time."

There exist many statements that are not actually as rhetorical as they might seem. Darsce's may be included in that number, and as such… Jethaniel has answered it. Perhaps he has some intention to answer the plea as well - or it has motivated his answer - but his reply is a factual one, and there's no particular duress to Jethaniel's tone, merely a conflict. He knows what procedures dictate. He knows why those procedures are in place. And yet… "Thea kept it." Not him? Jethaniel opens his eyes, looks to Darsce. "I was not aware of this at the time. Had I been… I would not have told her no." His eyes are earnest as he looks to her, continuing to watch her as she looks away, regards that knot which was her father's. There's a tug of his lips to the side as he listens, a small nod. He traces fingers gently out along her shoulder, an absent motion of affection that has them drifting down, beginning to splay against her shoulderblade before they pause. His other hand lifts slowly, palm up to accept the knot from Darsce, but his fingers remain open, simply letting it rest there. He should, and yet Jethaniel's mouth has an unhappy curve, his eyes a troubled expression as he curves his arm further around Darsce, holding her against him. He's silent for a moment, Darsce's gratitude answered by a brush of his lips to her hair, then begins to speak in a slow, measured tone. "It is not unduly difficult to manufacture a knot." A malicious person could certainly steal this one; they could also find a weaver given to ethical lapses and construct a fresh one. "The Weyrsecond should be… a recognizable person, regardless of knot." Or at least be subject to cross-checks in any scenario wherein they use extensively the perquisites of that rank. Jethaniel hesitates for a moment, his gaze troubled as he attempts to study Darsce's face but finds it difficult to achieve. His voice, when he speaks again, is soft. "I can do as you wish."

There's a tiny, wry smile at not telling the Weyrwoman no; she knows he could and did when he felt he ought. "A minor holder out there somewhere on Pern might not know Kiena by sight." Having relinquished the knot, Darsce leans back against Jethaniel and listens quietly, nodding at various stages of the discourse. His final statement is heard, for her breathing stops, then continues but in an irregular pattern indicating a mulling over of her own internal conflict. She turns her head back, eyes dropping to the knot. "I wish… to have it as a keepsake. But if it ever winds up in the wrong hands-" Her breath catches and she can't help it - the irony hits her then. Her lips curl in a smirk as she chuckles and interjects dryly, "-other than mine - it will make the trouble for the others I swiped look like a picnic." She reaches with both hands, an attempt to curl Jethaniel's fingers over the knot; hers remain there cupped around his afterwards. Iceblue eyes lift to grey and she is as earnest as he just was, "I don't want you to get in trouble because of me."

Jethaniel might discuss further ramifications of a hypothetical scenario - the necessity for plausibility of a masquerade as Weyrsecond to have a dragon, for instance - but he does not, merely nods. There exist mitigations, but the fact remains that having such a knot extant represents a risk - and those times when it would be most problematic for a rogue element to employ that knot are also likely the ones in which people are, due to exterior concerns, least likely to check those credentials. He knows this, and so does Darsce. She considers, and he holds her as she does, waiting patiently as he listens to the sound of her breathing. Perhaps he wonders what that catch means, or that sigh… but if so, he does not inquire, remaining silent until she speaks again. She wishes to have it; Jethaniel nods slightly, though his hand does not move. There is a further clause; a sense of responsibility and the avoidance of risk. Jethaniel inclines his head to acknowledge that Darsce is not in fact qualified for the position, a tilt down and to the side that turns into a nod as she continues. His fingers offer no resistance to Darsce's, curling around that knot as she provides her intention, and his gaze lifts to hers once more. "Then I will dispose of it."

Though Darsce's eyes remain steady upon Jethaniel's, they fill. "Do that," she says, her head jerking once - a nod of agreement that ends with her chin tucked and gaze dropped, but not to look at the knot. Instead it is to their fingers - hers wrapped around his - that she gazes at while trying to form her next words. It takes a few tries, but she manages to get them out, "Thank you. I'd rather…trust you with that than anyone else." She takes a ragged breath, ducks her head, lifts a hand to impatiently flick the moisture under each eye while a rough laugh escapes her lips, "Stupid hormones! Don't mind me. And please don't bring the ashes home in an urn, k?" It's a weak attempt at humor; her smile while not one of her best, is genuine.

Jethaniel nods, eyes remaining on Darsce. His arm shifts slightly, tensing with an impulse to draw her closer despite the fact that her emotional reaction is not, in fact, anything which he could protect her from by so doing. Nevertheless, the urge exists, and it's a moment before his arm relaxes sufficiently to trace his fingers down along her shoulder once more. "I will do it myself," he assures her - not that there was any doubt, but nevertheless; the reiteration is one he can make, and so he does. Her laugh draws a smile to his lips, hesitant at first then growing gentler, more tender. He leans in and brushes his lips to her cheek, along the projected path of that moisture but below its actual extent. His head draws back again, and he nods to her request. "I will not," Jethaniel says, but it's followed by a thoughtful expression. "But… I could save a fragment, if you wished." Sufficiently subdivided, a knot is no longer recognizable as such save through the application of intentional extrapolation. A small piece, with scorches added to stains and of sufficient brevity that it might have just as easily come from a junior weyrling's knot as a Weyrsecond's… may, in being so disjoint from what it once was, be as much a troubling reminder as a comforting one; thus the uncertainty of Jethaniel's tone.

Perhaps not protect from, but he does much to ease the heartache simply by being close in times like these. Darsce's watery smile and another nod is the best response she can give while he promises to take care of the knot. "Thank you," she breathes, eyes closing briefly as his lips brush her cheek. She turns fully towards him then, hooks her chin over his shoulder and clings for a moment. Damn hormones indeed! But at least she's not shedding tears all over him. Her breath stops for a few ticks at the thoughtful comment made by her steward-husband and then she, remaining where she is, exhales slowly. Her tone is certain as she states her preference, "May I have just the tassel?" No one's going to question a tassel - or steal it for nefarious purposes. "The rest you can…destroy." Embarrassed at her sentimentality, she adds in a little rush of gruff explanation, "I'd rather it wasn't…dissected." And while Darsce would rather have her father's old weyrsecond knot intact, the silver tassel will suffice as a reminder that'll likely be bittersweet. "Someday," she says after a span of silence, "Life will be less…this. I hope."

Jethaniel nods, and his arms adjust to settle around Darsce as she presses against him. The effect of hormones on mental processes is moderately well documented; the mind, being situated within the body, is subject to influence from the levels of various chemicals, much as reactions in a lab are subject to the influence of proportions of the reagents. The fingers of one hand remain curled around that knot of which he will dispose - which he will destroy, in accordance with procedure - but the other one drifts along her back, rising up until his fingertips bury themselves in her hair. "You may." The tassel will, save for sentiment, be indistinguishable from any other - but the sentiment is significant, even adjusting for the multiplicative effect of current hormonal levels. Jethaniel nods again for Darsce's permission to destroy the rest of that knot, and his head tilts toward hers, leaning his head lightly against hers as she explains, tilting it ever so slightly to acknowledge and agree. "I will." He'll build a fire atop the starstones and let it burn to ashes, then scatter those to the wind. The means of disposal are not specified by the regulations; all that is relevant to them is that it will destroyed and dispersed, gone save for the tassel retained by Darsce. Jethaniel retains his arms around her through that silence, then exhales slowly, one corner of his mouth quirking upward. "Perhaps." His head draws away from hers enough that he may turn it to observe her. "It seems unlikely that life will be entirely smooth." Jethaniel brushes a soft kiss to Darsce's jaw. "Nevertheless, I have you."

Darsce, will imagine those winds carrying motes of ash to the sea where the papa she used to know came from, the rolling waves where Siebith now swims alone. That will be part of the bittersweet. The tassel will find itself sewn to a thin silver ribbon threaded through tiny glass beads of blue - a necklace that she'll likely wear under her shirts rather than displaying to the public eye. Jethaniel, however, will know of it for she will not hide it from him. Fingers entangle her hair and she tips her head back into them, lifting her eyes to meet Jethaniel's. Life won't be a bed of roses, huh? "Smooth is overrated anyway," she says pertly as he kisses her jaw. Then she laughs softly, both pleased and playful, "Correction. You have us. And we have you." A sweet smile follows that, the one she saves just for him, "And for the ones we no longer have, these reminders, we have them."

Life may, in fact, be roses, but there will exist variable quantities of thorns. Despite this (or perhaps because of it?) Jethaniel smiles, nods to Darsce regarding the excessive valuation of the smooth. "We shall have textural variety," he agrees, then arches a brow as she informs him of… a factual error? "Ah." The rate of growth of Jethaniel's smile accelerates, quickly achieving a grin. "So I do." There's a wobble of his head, an inclination toward a kiss that's paused because she has something more to add. Jethaniel's smile does not fade as he listens, but it softens and grows more tempered with emotional complexity. "They are not, as such, necessary." The reminders, that is. "Nevertheless, I am glad to have them." He leans closer, resuming the delayed impulse of that kiss.

Darsce may, inadvertently provide an occasional thorn, even. Sultry sneaks into her smile at his mention of textural variety, and she, perhaps attributing his quirk of brow as a part of that comment, mrows at him, "I'm totally good with providing you with sensory…variations." She speaks, but his approach has been noted - and anticipated. The muscles of her neck relax further, settling the weight of her head more fully into those fingers entangled in her hair. That smile of his - not just the increase of it, but the mingled emotions it holds - makes her catch her breath. Her mind is a-flutter for the duration of his reply about reminders and she can only nod numbly. She is as well. Glad. That… dah… he… she… they… what were they discussing now? When he's silent once more, she manages to find her voice, a silky, teasing request, "Finish what you start, hm?" And the arm she still has around his neck exerts pressure, enough to hint at least at what she wants as she offers him her mouth.

Jethaniel is also glad for the opportunity to kiss Darsce. He demonstrates this by doing so, exploring the sensory variations of her lips with a lingering press as his fingers curve against the back of her head, exploring the silk of her tresses, the scalp beneath - and, as his lips slowly part against hers, suggesting the angle most conducive to the deepening of that kiss. While this does constitute a continuation of what he has previously begun, it is perhaps not entirely applicable as a conclusion, as it suggests certain further activities and explorations of a sensory nature which are not well-suited to the office environment. The chair does present a variant surface, but it seems likely that Jethaniel will find himself most inclined to conduct in-depth research concerning Darsce's tactile features - and she of his - rather than observing a diversity of environmental factors.

Darsce's response to that kiss is ardent, her arm curling more fully about Jethaniel's neck, seeking to arch closer to him while a slow fire, already kindled, seeks to engulf her and include him in the conflagration. Alas, even while breathless, she retains the realization of where they are and thus while tatsing of that kiss and enjoying the composition thereof, her lips move to mumble against his mouth, "…s'go home." She won't dally and should they recieve looks passing through the dinnertime caverns mussed, flushed and breathless, well…oops? She'll push past anyone seeking to delay them with a gasped, rapid-fire, "Gotta go - have an appointment! See one of the assitants!" So saying, the headwoman, while her hand is firmly entwined with the steward's, and making for that entrance most likely leaves no doubt with whom that appointment is booked. She's been trained in the art of assessing the textures of fabric, but there's always more to learn!

Darsce's response to that kiss is ardent, her arm curling more fully about Jethaniel's neck, seeking to arch closer to him while a slow fire, already kindled, grows, seeks to engulf her and include him in the conflagration. Alas, even while breathless, she retains the realization of where they are and thus, while tasting of that kiss and enjoying the composition thereof, her lips move to mumble against his mouth, "…s'go home." She won't dally and should they receive looks for passing through the dinnertime caverns mussed, flushed and breathless, well…oops? She'll push past anyone seeking to delay them with a gasped, rapid-fire, "Gotta go - have an appointment! See one of the assistants!" So saying, the headwoman, while her hand is firmly entwined with the steward's, making for that entrance in a determined stride, most likely leaves no doubt with whom that appointment is booked. She's been trained in the art of assessing the textures of fabric, but there's always more to learn!

Jethaniel can feel the heat of that fire, the warmth of her body against his even through their clothing. Given that, he may seek to assess the temperature of Darsce's lips, to test and taste that part of her as a proxy for the rest… but his analysis is insufficient, and requires further points of data. Several of those are derived by means of a pattern of kisses along her jaw, another one placed on her lips before he assents to the delay necessitated by that change of locale. He'll pause long enough to lock his office securely, but that is the only matter of sufficient importance for him to do so. As there is no dalliance involved, there is no need for it to be held in check… except insofar as gratification must be delayed while they cross the caverns and head to their home. Once they have done so, there exists no impediment to a full and complete demonstration of exactly how pleased Jethaniel is to have Darsce, and what was started… is finished to both their satisfactions.

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