A Dance at Night

Xanadu Weyr - Garden
An arch woven from the tendrils of a willow tree stretches overhead lightly creeping with ivy as one steps in from the meadow into this sanctuary of green. Cool gray flagstone carefully spaced enables a soft velvety moss to thrive within the cracks, and creates a single wide pathway that fluidly breaks off into two paths of stone once free of the natural arbor. It is a wonder this place, and meticulously tended from the way it seems not a single leaf is out of place.
On either side of the main path expansive grassy patches are trimmed short and edged behind with natural tan colored stone selectively chosen to stack just right. Beyond these are a line of fine puffed shrubberies in vibrant green intermingled with flowering bushes of brilliant pinks varying in hue from the very light to the very dark, which causes the occasional snowy white blossoms of other scattered here and there without worry to simply pop out of the scenery.
Directly in the center of the garden is another wall of intricately stacked stone, this of muted grays, creating what from the air would prove to be a perfect circle. It's been set high for safety, but not so much as one would not be able to lean over it to admire what lies beyond, either standing or sitting at the smattering of benches whose backs are set every four feet along it. Flush to the ground inside it's protective stone outcropping, is an enormous twenty foot wide fish pond. Within one can glean the metallic glint of playful goldfish, the unhurried cruise of fat koi, and even a frog or three among pale yellow and white flowering water lilies and their thick green pads.
The trees surrounding the entire garden were planted to give the impression that they had always been here, not only lending to a rustic look, but also alluding to the beauty that can be found among the wilds if only one might just look for it. Species vary from the ordinary Birch and Pine, but the flaming red capsules of the Indian Shot to the robust orange spokes of the Firewheel tree suggest the spice of the exotic.

NIGHT. Xanadu sits still beneath a blanket of white, lit by the peek-a-boo appearances of Timor and Belior up high and the pinprick points of stars. And there's Risali in the garden, settled on a bench, bundled up against the chill in a woolen coat and leathers tucked away in warm boots, hands covered in gloves, scarf secured around her neck, black beanie pulled down over her ears. She's catching snow on mittens, grey eyes focused on her task, awaiting the tell-tale crunch of boots to announce SUMMONED BLUERIDERS who DEFINITELY DID get a note with a location, and a time, and a not-at-all vague request that HE COME IN DANCING BOOTS. But THERE YOU GO, THERE IS YOUR SET. WHAT IS A BRAIN, IDEK. #METAPARTYFORTWO

The note may not have specified, but N'kon IS NOT ALONE. But he has not brought a Ricki to crash the party, NEVER FEAR. Instead, said bluerider, less bundled up but still clad against the cold, approaches with the crunch of boots on snow and the tell-tale squawks and chirrs of firelizards. As he steps into the moonlit gardens, a triplet trio of identical greens - varying only in size - wheel above his head, scattering to the winds as he shooes them gently away. A fourth can barely be seen, tucked into the scarf around his neck, her small, golden head tucked against the hollow of his throat. "Weyrwoman," he greets, his already present smile widening slightly at the use of the title. "As you have beckoned, so have I come." He doesn't quite go as far as to bow - although there might be a suggestion of a bob before he comes to stand hipshot before her, gloved hands tucked securely in the pockets of his battered leather jacket.

Risali shifts at the sound of boots, grey eyes finding N'kon to watch his progress until — WAHLAH — he's there, close enough to recieve those raised brows in response to his smile, and then closer still as Risali moves to gain her footing and reaches out to apply a gentle THWACK against leather jackets with the back of her hand in reprimand. "Bluerider," comes with a mischievous curl of lips and grey eyes that communicate mirth, even as she puts hands on her hips, tilts her head, and fixates her attention on her boots. "Well go on then. If you're going to grovel, grovel proper." A wiggle of booted feet, another wicked look for N'kon, and then she's laughing as she moves forward to bump her shoulder into his side gently, attention on his flit. "Hello, darling," she croons softly for the flit, a waggle of fingers that don't stray close enough for nipping, and then Risali is STEPPING BACK to dip into a curtsey. If N'kon wants to be all MANNERED, Risali can play that game. "I am pretty sure that it is I who owes you a dance, Journeyman. Shall we?" And Risali's extending her hand, a challenge in those grey eyes. "Don't disappoint me, bluerider." PLAYFUL, said around a slow smile as she waits.

Fine chirps softly, eyes whirling gently as she considers those wiggling fingers, nostrils flared. Whether through Niko or some other agency, she apparently decides against nipping and instead closes her eyes and cuddles deeper into the knitted, brightly colored scarf masking her from the chill. "Sorry for the extras," the bluerider offers easily, with a lopsided grin, "but Tsarziath said if I absolutely must go dancing without him, I could at least do him the courtesy of taking the 'noisy infantile inconveniences' away as well." One hand lifts free of his jacket pocket to indicate first the newest hatchling of his brood, then the triplets now lazily decorating the foliage nearby. The curtsey brings an answering bow - prim and proper and exactly what one might expect from a journeyman in the presence of so distinguished a personage as Lady Xanadu; but for that vulpine smile that hints at too clever by half thoughts trapped behind sharp teeth. As she extends her hand, he eyes it, then takes it in his, gloved palm cradling gloved fingers; behind that cocky smile, a flash of vulnerability and uncertainty lingers in stormcloud eyes. "I, ah - try never to disappoint a lady." Someone, from the hint of nerves in his tenor voice, never quite expected it to go this far.

Grey eyes go to each firelizard in kind, interest genuine as Risali whispers greetings to each and wiggles fingers in hello, grey eyes jumping up to blue-grey when N'kon speaks and lingering for the explanation of why he's currently inundated with so many babies. "Don't apologize, N'kon; they're all lovely." And perhaps they were summoned or sent, but Risali's own firelizards pop into existence around them, crooning as they move to greet N'kon's and possibly CLIP SOME HEADS WITH SOME WINGS. WAH-POW! TAKE THAT! That gold Potato, though. She's the opposite of her name, patterened like a butterfly, commanding in prescence as she lands across Risa's shoulders and tilts her head to see what the fuss is about, heedless of the fact that those rustling wings keep smacking Risali and threatening the security of her scarf and hat. Risali seems not to mind either, a smiling coming quick, unmutable even as she bites down on her bottom lip and steps into the bluerider's space once his hand is in her own. "Are you going to dance with me, or eat me?" comes on a huff of laughter — an answer to that smile, perhaps, as one hand goes to N'kon's bicep, the other guiding his to her hip before she places it on his shoulder. She's very careful not to squish newly hatched babies. "Don't answer that. It was rhetorical. How good are you at dancing, bluerider?" But she's already moving, a slow sway of her body, a slow half step as she moves to start them in a very slow circle while she waits.

BLAME KERA. Although, only Fine - the only one not a "gift" from the greenrider - is truly a baby. Wait, What, and Stahp are clearly on the cusp of maturity - and given their triplet nature, it's a fair bet N'kon's up for some fun - or something - in the all too near future. "Spend enough time in their vicinity, lovely is the last word you'll use to describe them." Despite the wry nature of his words, they're said with a distracted air - he's a bit more focused on the maneuvering of the goldrider than he is on their conversation. Until - "Is that an option?" The words pop out before Niko can censor them, his hand already on her hip, hers tucked in his before he realizes what he said, the dull flush in his cheeks blessedly washed out in the moonslight. "Ah - uhm. I'm no Tsari, but I'll not step on your shoes." For all of the self-effacement of his statement, he's smooth enough on his feet, for all the only music in the air is the few winter-hardy insects tucked into the snow-covered bushes surrounding them and the varried chirps and squawks of two fairs of firelizards. "Do you do this often, weyrwoman?"

"Well," Risali drawls on playfully dry tones. "I think that just makes them all the more lovely." The torturing N'kon, she means, which she softens further with another hiccup of laughter as she invades his space, and he answers her rhetorical question anyway. The hand on his bicep curls into a smol, ineffectual fist that she smacks him with right on his bicep. Gently. Is it an option? "Only if you can keep up." A flash of teeth, which isn't exactly an answer, but certainly isn't a declaration made meekly. She finds his eyes for that response, holds them, raises those brows before lips curl up again and she looks back down to their feet as they move. "If you mean the dancing, I was a harper before I was a goldrider. Not this kind of harper," — the dancing kind, she means — "but not the kind that romance books, either. So yes; I love to dance. But if you mean the dancing with men in moonlit gardens," a beat, as those grey eyes find blue-grey again, dancing with mischievousness, "then only the lucky ones. Keep up, bluerider." And then, OH IT'S HAPPENING. Risali tightens her grip, does a little wiggle that's not quite a sway with her hips as she sinks just a little and… starts singing? OH YEAH. And it's not some saucy tune (HA!), it's upbeat and quick, cheerful in an almost childish way that her sudden smile echoes. Risali starts them in a quicker step that might be a little jarring for flits — an almost skip to her movement as she steps away from the bluerider and grabs his hands instead. She comes back into his bubble over and over, chest to chest with a smile every time before spinning herself under his arm — THE WORKS. And then she lifts her arm with his hand still in it, giving him the EYEBROWS, and the SMILE, and the small HEAD BOB that says YOU SPIN. DO IT, N'KON. DO THE SPIN.

She's an enormous force of nature in a tiny little package, and Niko is completely out of his depth, over his head - and head over heels because of it. Helplessly, he follows her lead, his steps not quite as certain, his movements not quite as saucy, and his spin perhaps not quite so exuberant - but he's trying, bless his heart. In the trees, whirling eyes glint back moonlight as the trio of greens react to his emotional cacophony with one of their own, their sweet voices tangling with Risali's. Jolted by the goldrider's movements, Fine shifts and wriggles and finally frees herself from the bluerider's scarf, sending it fluttering to the ground as she takes off in a flurry of gold and silver, making her awkward way to cuddle with Stahp instead. The bluerider doesn't even acknowledge the little gold's flight - his blue-grey eyes, almost white in the pale darkness, are trained on the Weyrwoman tossing gender roles out of the window. Is he supposed to lead? Maybe. But he's not going to be the one to tell Risali that - nope. He's too busy just trying to keep up. Orders is orders, after all.

Potato takes flight as well, moving to stable ground with her own flit-kin, leaving Risali the freedom to move. And move she does, undeterred by Niko's not-quite-certain steps, laughing as she pulls him with her, and sings, and interrupts her own song to tell him, "Yes! Like that! Keep going!" every time he gets it right. And it just picks up in energy, Risali moves faster between delighted gasps of laughter, between little swallows of breath until — as it is with everything — the song and dance come to an end. But not before Risali steps back into N'kon's space, moving one hand back to hold his upper arm as she makes him dip with her from side to side in an almost comical imitation of a slow dance. Once those final lyrics are out, once the song is over, Risali settles into a more sedate side-to-side as grey eyes find blue-grey again, smile wide, laughter still coming in little hiccups of amusement. "So, do you do this often?"

Torn between laughter and - well, okay, there's mostly just laughter there; a little incredulous, a lot helpless, but still laughter - Niko spins along in Risali's wake, following her sure movements with his own fumbling ones, never quite getting it -wrong-, but never quite getting it perfect, either. As the song drifts off, as the dance slows to the simpler sway-and-step he'd no doubt been half-expecting, the nervous tension ebbs, bleeding into a rather breathless amusement. "Do what - dance with a fascinating woman, in the moonlight, in the gardens?" he asks, mimicking her earlier comment. "I'd say you're the first that I recall. If you mean just dancing, well…" His grip - on her waist, her hand - firms, drawing her ever-so-slightly closer. "I've been known to, now and again. When the mood strikes." And, probably, alcohol is involved. Cautious now, a mood echoed in his stormcloud eyes, the bluerider eases back, his steps slowing, stilling, until he stands, his touch gentling if never quite releasing. A breath, a beat, then he offers a wry, lopsided smile. "You delight in being unexpected, don't you, Risali?"

There's a flicker of something in Risali's eyes, an emotion that cuts away at some of that surface-deep confidence and makes the goldrider's smile falter — just a fraction, nearly imperceptible, gone before it can fully register into another expression. "I have been called a lot of things, Niko," comes soft, breathless with amusement, "but fascinating isn't one of them. Usually people prefer words like 'wild' and 'crazy' and 'tempest.' And those are the nice words." When his grip tightens, when N'kon pulls her closer to deliver those words of dancing and moods striking, those brows raise before she bites down on her bottom lip to stifle another smile. "Very mysterious," she whispers, allowing the bluerider to slow, to still; following his lead without drawing away until she's left to take him in as he speaks and asks her that question. Lips part as if surprised, the goldrider tilts her head to the side as if ponderous of the answer and… she steps a little closer, draws her hands away from his so that she can delineate his face with the tips of her fingers — if he allows it. "No," Risali answers softly, honest. The smile that comes in the wake of that one word is muted, self deprecating as she finds his eyes with hers and stills. But then she looks away, back to her hands, watching their progress if he hasn't moved away yet as they come along his cheeks and jaw. "I delight in being myself, even if plenty of people would see me act more demure and…" a beat, as Risali considers the word and settles on, "tame." But there comes that full-blown smile again, wicked, mischievous, drowning out the seriousness as she catches at his cheeks between fingers and tugs. Gentle. Almost. "What about you, N'kon? Do you delight in being such a mysterious enigma? Do you practice it in the mirror? It's just us; I promise I won't tell."

"You're all of those," N'kon murmurs with frank honesty. "A wild and crazy tempest - it's what's amazing about you. You're not…" He trails off, lids half-shuttering as he gazes at her from beneath his eyelashes - a girlish expression that looks strikingly unfeminine on him. "Usual." There's a breathy hesitation, a suggestion that the word he originally considered was considerably less flattering to all of those - usual - people. As her fingers glide along his face, his lids close the rest of the way - a brief flicker before blue-grey eyes open once more, latch on to her. Beneath her wandering fingertips, the line of his jaw tenses, trembling slightly, an indignant sneer twisting the stormclouds of his eyes if not his lips. "Does it concern you so much, what people want you to be?" He reaches up, closing his fingers loosely about one of her wrists - not stalling, not stopping, merely grasping gently. With a few pithy words, he offers a suggestion of what those naysayers - haters - idiots - can do with themselves, words implied but otherwise not fit for a public log. "Frankly, yourself is a thousand times more interesting than anything that would satisfy fools who find it necessary to determine how a person should act because of her rank, her position, or the color of her dragon." Something lurks there; indignation on her behalf, to be certain, but personal, too - swiftly chased away by shock at the goldrider's suggestion that he is anything but an open book to all and sundry. "Enigma? Me? My dear, there is nothing mysterious about me. I am who I am." Unapologetically.

"I know," Risali answers around another smile, muted despite the equally unapologetic way she delivers the words. And then she flushes for the compliment that comes, blinking grey to blue-grey, jumping back and forth between his eyes, trying to decipher that hooded expression before it's gone. But still, his indignation and that… something else accompanying words and questions have Risali stilling her motions, leaning just a little closer as if afraid she might miss his words. Does it concern her? "No," Risali answers, stark in her honesty. "If I was concerned, I would have changed for them a long time ago. But I worry that —" No. Risali bites off those words, teeth finding her bottom lip as her eyes drop back to her hands and fingers curl in, pull away, drop to her sides as she takes in a deep breath and seems to let it all go on an exhale. An exhale that turns into soft laughter as Risali tips forward on booted feet and shifts to bump her shoulder gently in against N'kon's sides. "Thank you." She says, and she means it. Then it doesn't matter, because the focus is away from her and back on Niko, who's getting a SUSPECT and WICKED look from beneath lashes. "Well, thank Faranth for that. Not that it matters, but I like who you are, N'kon. Mystery and all." And she's on the move again, because she's Risali who doesn't know how to stop, hooking one arm through his and leaning in against his side as she tilts her head back to smile wide at N'kon. "Alright, bluerider. Come on, we should probably go in where it's warm. I owe you at least one drink for all of that flattery." Humor preceding a gloved hand gently patting his forearm before she attempts to guide him away. Towards warm hearths! And a drink before they part ways! You know, unless N'kon has plans that pull him away first. But she tries!

Because, you know, N'kon has anything better to do than spend a bit more time with a dynamic, fascinating - yes, fascinating! - woman on his list, right? Especially with Ricki tucked away in Landing doing crafting things, and Tsari tucked on his ledge, sulking over being left out of the dancing. So when she tucks and tugs, he follows willingly, a faint laugh echoing in the night behind him. "I won't turn down warmth, or a drink." Or her company, but he's not so far-gone in the moment that he'll let that one slip, although a glance at his autumn-storm eyes, and the suddenly wicked delight lighting them from within, might well give that away. From her perch on the trees, Fine gives a soft chirrup and wings down to settle on his shoulder, glancing back at his scarf, laying forgotten on the ground behind them - unnoticed but by the hatchling.

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