Dancing In The Moonlight

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.

Are the gardens designed for dragons? No. No they are not. But you know what they are? Placed to get optimal amounts of sunlight, and in Xanadu's winter, that's enough of a motivation for Garouth to tuck his wings close to his body and navigate carefully between the bare branched trees (and evergreens that still provide a splash of color against the grey and white of snow) to find a large… well, it was probably a flowerbed in summer, raised up a bit off the shoveled stone path that his tail drapes down across because he really… does not actually fit. But OH WELL. He's here anyhow! D'lei is here too, sitting on a bench set up with a view across one of the (now frozen) ponds. There's an open notebook on his lap, but mostly… he's looking out into the distance. Hi, scraggly winter plants! How are you? "…and if you don't?" Maybe he's talking to the trees. Or possibly Garouth, but that'd just be weird.

Trees certainly are not made for dragons - not even the yet-to-be-fully-grown kind (who are still pretty darn big and have definitely outgrown their clutchsibs), but HERE THEY ARE ANYWAY, being guided by their lifemates who have a hand rested on their hide to help guide them as they walk, singing, and… okay. So Risali is doing a lot more than walking; Risali is hop-skip-moving in half turns around Leirith, only to turn and face her and move backwards with come hither fingers before she turns again and places her hand back on her hide. So what if Risali is dancing with her blind dragon? And singing to her? SHE GETS TO HAVE FREE TIME TOO. That… doesn't involve horrifyingly large needles and a slew of written text in serious need of study. AND THAT MEANS SHE GETS TO DO WHAT SHE WANTS. Leirith? Still as loud as ever, but this time her voice is simply the ecstatic beating of drums to accompany her lifemate's song, pulsing at Garouth in greeting and invitation both. Risali spots D'lei, and maybe she sees the face he's making or overhears his words, but it's game over; she's moving to his bench, hair unbound and unruly with loose curls that curtain her when she leans forward to grab his hands and breathes out, "Stop thinking. Dance with me." IN A WINTERSCAPE, in a frozen garden, where two dragons who really don't belong try to fit in. Risali will try to pull D'lei up FOR A DANCE then. YOU WILL DANCE WITH HER, D'LEI. YOU WILL DO THE THING. And maybe your notebook will meet a snowy fate in the snow, but YOU, sir. YOU WILL DANCE WITH HER. And if he obliges, well… Risali will just keep singing, won't she? As she lures him into a HEEL TOE POLKA.

Garouth's tail sways with the beat, a bronzed metronome to sweep the path as he rumbles a greeting to Leirith, the rhythm guitar to go with her throb of bass. D'lei? Well, there's a song and dance number happening, and he is not immune to their call. The very birds on the trees are going to bob along with this one! …admittedly, that might be because Leirith and Garouth's tail are, between them, making the entire garden bounce, but that's irrelevant. The point is that D'lei tilts his head one way, his mouth quirks the other… and then he bumps up one leg before the other so his notebook is slid over to the bench next to him, so it at least won't be immediately trampled into oblivion as he's tugged to his feet. And then… he dances! He even has a clue what he's doing. Like, there are his feet and they go places that are not on top of Risali's… and they do it on the beat! Which is probably helped by the fact that Leirith's drums are making it quite clear what the beat is, but still. Dancing! He does it, and Garouth… joins in the song with harmonizing notes, drifting through the distance like the howls of distant wolves drawn to add their voices to the mix.

It would be okay even if D'lei didn't know! Risali guides him with her own body regardless: heel-and-toe, heel-and-toe, hands joined as they hop, hop, hop to the right in a dip, and then repeat it, do-si-do after they dip back to the left. Risali pulls D'lei in circles with her, dropping her eyes to occasionally watch their feet as they move and, every now and again, interrupting her song to laugh and breathe out encouragements to D'lei. And what kind of an impromptu dance party would this be if Leirith didn't dance with Garouth as well? Certainly not physically, because it would be more than just the birds being jarred from trees underneath the feet of such a partnership, but in her mind; the bronze harmonizes notes with his wolves, and Leirith unleashes her dancers among them, dressed in iridescent colors that match the winter landscape and masks made of snowflakes that glint like the clinging bits of snowfall in Risali and D'lei's hair. They move to the same rhythm, mimic every motion of their riders, hunting the shadows for Garouth's monsters in invitation to dance. And the little gold herself? She's making herself as small as possible, but that growing body is certainly bobbing up and down with the music. After all, Risali and Leirith both love to dance.

And D'lei is quite willing to be led! This way, and that with his feet knowing the pattern they repeat and the rest of him taking cues. Round again and back to middle, now the right and spin a little… thoughts are gone, replaced by the particular kind of concentration that comes, not when one's trying to figure something out, but when - knowing what to do - it can be given a full focus and attention. Just because this dance party is in the privacy of a winter's garden with nobody watching except their dragons, that's no reason to not dance his best as he grins to Risali, his attention… all over her, really, as he looks for those cues of just what she's thinking that make dancing not entirely unlike mind-reading. And speaking of minds! The wolves howl, and the monsters appear; the four-legged ones who give their voices to the song - or stomp paws and tail in the rhythm - and the ones who bow to Leirith's dancers before they join them, hands to paws or claws as their feet move and step, dancing through the forest and slipping from deeper shadows to the paler regions where enough light shines to make snow-masks sparkle and iridescent patterns shine against the darkness.

And Risali's attention is back on D'lei, mouth forming a smile around the words of her song, nearly as brilliant as the blinding snow, and still she dances. Grey eyes hold amber as they move in tandem, interrupted only when her attention strays to their feet, or his hands, or the way the snow catches at his hair and his clothes in a particularly distracting way. They keep time with Garouth and Leirith's rhythm, and Leirith's dancers spin with the wolves, completing the circle in new outfits: dresses still iridescent, masks white as the snow with the snouts of arctic wolves sprouting from them. Carnival lights blink into existence in time with her drums, strewn among the trees, marking a path from the darkness to the light as they move from the privacy of shadows to where mirrors wait to catch their reflections. But all good things must come to an end, as they do now, with Risali stepping into D'lei's space while one hand retreats from his and the other remains locked in his grasp. Her free arm pushes around his side, coming to rest against his lower back with fingers curling into his jacket as she presses half her body to his and tilts her head back, rocking sideways, back and forth, back and forth, joined arms extended as she laughs. When her song ends, Risali pulls D'lei in one last circle with her, pressed close, and coming away at the end with a bow, fingers of one hand still interdigitated with his. Leirith's dancers do the same, parting from wolves, curtseying in dresses with an elegance the mini queen will likely never know, and Risali finally releases her hold on D'lei as she comes up from her bow with another laugh, grey eyes dancing with mirth as they seek amber once more and she breathes out a giddy, breathless, "Thank you." Aaaannnd then she just lays down, right there, in the snow, hands placed against the swell of her ribs just under her chest as she relearns how to breathe. "What are you doing here?" She finally asks, still breathless.

The snow sparkles, after all. The little flakes, caught against the folds of fabric that protect bodies from the cold - and at the same time, protect those delicate snowflakes from the heat of bodies that could melt them back to water. They too will come to an end! If not now, when spring comes and the banks of snow turn to rivulets of water and Garouth's cold couch becomes a flowerbed once more. These things will pass, as the white of winter-wolves turns to all the shades of the iridescent rainbow, as light turns to shadow and back again. Left and right, forward and back, and they dance in the pattern that… ends, just as each step of it does! (But is it really over?) It's a change of the pattern, D'lei's arm going in around Risa, higher over hers and catching her to him to hold as they dance on in this new pattern, different steps as they go back and forth over and again, following the music until… that too ends! A grand sweep through, and so the song ends, their bodies swept apart once more in symmetry to the closeness… and the bow, D'lei leaned deep to face Risali across tangled hands. When he lifts his head again there's a grin on his face as amber eyes meet grey on a held breath that… "Ha!" He beams. "Thank you." And as she tumbles to the snow, he bows again, a sweep of his arm to emphasize it. The monsters in Garouth's mind bow with crouches that take them to the ground, even those two-legged ones lowering to a canine's play-bow addressed to their partners as the bronze rumbles his satisfaction. D'lei has at least a bit more breath than Risali, given he wasn't also trying to sing, but… it's still there in the pattern of his laugh. "It's nice," he says with a sweep to snow and bare branches. "Peaceful."

One day winter will end, but not today. Today is for winter garden dancing with friends and laying in the snow while you catch your breath; today is for not-so-little gold dragons that shift among the trees and croon their own contentedness into the landscape of white separating her from her usual source of heat, too-big sentries with their riders between them. Risali closes her eyes when D'lei begins to speak, patting the ground to indicate that he should join her as she takes in one breath, then another and another before those grey eyes blink back open to him. "Don't let it go to your head, bronzerider," she warns him, but her mockingly stern tone is ruined by the smile that just refuses to leave. "You dance mediocre at best. But don't fret, I'm sure we'll find something you're useful for. Eventually." You know, aside from being a human space heater. And serious conversation. And giving in to Risali's whims without so much as a protest. When the bronzerider makes a sweep to gesture their surroundings, Risali's eyes follow the motion of his hand and then finally, finally stray back to his face. "It is nice," she concedes. Definitely peaceful. "What were you thinking about?" Or probably rather Garouth.

Flomp. D'lei sits down on the ground next to Risali, upright (if seated) for a moment before he gives up on even that semblance and lies back to the snow to join her in making the world's laziest snow angels. "I aspire to vague competence," he replies with a crooked grin. "Maybe even a solid mediocrity. I'm thinking like… Wing-Fourth, hmm? Or is that too high to aim for?" He studies Risali as she looks around at the scenery, then grins as she looks back to him again. He's caught looking at her! Not that he seems overly upset by that. "I was looking over the meteorology notes." A wry smile. "Don't want to be too rusty on that when I get back to my wing." But… then his gaze strays over to Garouth, who… seems content for the moment, watching Leirith as she wanders. « The one with green needles has an interesting smell, » he notes, because one of the duties of a Garouth-minion is to present subjects for Leirith's investigation. Even with the dragons thus distracted… D'lei hesitates. Are they distracted enough? Oh well. He's going to make the attempt. "He," if he just makes a vague thumb-point and doesn't say names, maybe they won't notice! "…thinks he's going to sweep halfway across Pern in just the nick of time for… her." No names! This is dragons anonymous time.

"Faranth, D'lei. Shut up," Risali breathes out, but she's laughing again, as she catches a very small handful of snow and lazily tosses it in an upward arc towards the bronzerider's general direction. It probably misses, but her point gets made regardless. "Anyway, that's definitely way too high for you. Fifth or sixth at best. Maybe even seventh." If Risali has any misgivings about being studied while she sweeps the landscape around them with her eyes, none if it shows in her face when she turns back to look at D'lei; in fact, that wry smile is returned with a quiet one of her own, mischievous, teasing even as she listens to his Very Serious reasons. « It all smells interesting! » Leirith booms back, and her dancers in his mind sweep into complicated formations: the snow, the trees, the way the world can somehow manage to smell like the color grey - and what a fantastic smell it is. « And I can smell you, Garouth. Like heat, melting the snow. » She's limited by her lifemate's eyes being on D'lei though, so while Garouth says green one, Leirith only sees… WELL. D'LEI'S FACE. Hopefully before too long, the queen will be granted her sight. For now, she's still got patches over her eyes. « And something else. » Something that she can't quite place, but something so very winter. Still, Garouth proves distraction enough for Risali to roll onto her stomach, chin resting on the palms of her hands as she rests on her elbows and risks a glance at the bronze. "I see," she says. "I wish you both the best of luck, then," she offers, and she means it. But still there's… the drawing of brows, Risali's gaze retreating to their surroundings again so that she doesn't have to meet D'lei's eyes. "Explain it to me, D'lei. Quinn gets you and whoever she wants, but what about you? Is it the same for you? And if it is, why…" A helpless gesture, and then a shake of her head. "Nevermind. I shouldn't be asking these things. That's your business." So she will force a smile, as she reaches out to POKE HIS NOSE and keeps her finger there. "Any idea yet when you get to be free from us here in Xanadu?"

Yep, that's definitely snow! It lands… on the snow, mostly, but some of it does vaguely dust D'lei's jacket. Like the white chalk version of the blood spatters that it symbolizes! He laughs, with a nod for her assessment of his probable rank. "I could just go for permanent weyrling status. There'll be a clutch in Half Moon soon…" Roaming the world, always a weyrling and never a rider! It's a fate suited to … nobody, really. The dragons wouldn't actually impress someone that incompetent! Or so the stories go, anyhow. Even the little (okay, not exactly anymore, even if she's hardly full size either) blind gold will, someday, graduate to a life of blundering around WITH SIGHT and stepping on things WHEN SHE MEANS TO. Probably. Maybe. Hopefully! Garouth rumbles, amused, and a gust of wind brings the memory of tree-scent, mingled with earth and small creatures who decided that it was home. Now she knows! And she can smell it, along with all the everything. Including Garouth! « Something else? » he asks, curious as he splays his paw against the edge of the snowy flowerbed, sending bits of it tumbling to the path that someone had to shovel out and that he is once more dusting with white, and leans his muzzle down to investigate this meltingness as his bulk thaws it and melts it down to water that will freeze overnight into a dragon-shaped shell of ice. Which keeps him distracted for that glance from Risali. D'lei half-smiles. "Thanks," he says to the offered luck, and leans his head back to the snow. It's earnestly meant, just as the offer is, and yet. There's so much And Yet to this whole thing. He glances to her as she starts to ask questions, then away when he sees that she's wanting to Not Look At Him, with a sigh that comes out and… then she's changing her mind before any of his answers can come out, with a poke to his nose that has him reaching up to capture her hand and hold it, head turning to her to try to do the same with her eyes. "Because I want her," he answers, backtracking to the unasked question. "And that's the way I can get her." The corner of his mouth twitches, just a bit. "If I tried to pin her down… she'd just run away." And then his fingers uncurl, releasing Risali's hand. And not actually answering the question he was supposed to.

"You could," Risali says, and despite the concession and humor in her voice, there's something quieter, something sad. It changes the brilliance of her smile and makes it dim as grey eyes stare out much like D'lei was before - into the distance, as if she's seeing something far away. Home, perhaps. WORLD BEWARE for the day that the little queen has her sight. She will be a force, unstoppable, purposely running into things all around the world with Terrible Ideas and a very real desire to party. Maybe one day she will even meet Garouth's moon, and figure out what it is about her that makes him so inclined to chase - and so sad when he fails. But the moon and Garouth's lost flights are not what are on Leirith's mind now; the gold is focused on the scent that comes to her, lifting her head instinctively into the projected wind, crooning her delight at So Many Things she has a lifetime to discover anew when all the other dragons have already become familiar with them - through her own vision, of course, which just makes it special. « Something else. » And the impressions come that she has no words for: the smell of something sweet, the hint of a fire, the chill in the air and the way snowflakes refract the light, and catch the eye, and it's beautiful. And right. This cold, solitary, beautiful blanket of barren white is just… right. « What do you see? » she asks him, dancers still with anticipation. As for Risali, well… She smiles at D'lei's thanks, coming back to the here and now, but stills when he catches her hand and holds her gaze. Risali holds her breath when he talks, brows furrow again, and when he makes to let her go, she tightens her grip on his hand so that he cannot escape her - not physically, not mentally; she anchors him to her for just this moment, with this touch. And the goldling is shifting again, sitting so that she's pressed against his side while he remains prone and her knees come up, towards her stomach. She sandwiches his hand between both of hers, holding tight, locking fingers, tucking his hand between her thighs and her stomach as she leans forward just so. "That's not what I asked you, D'lei," she says, and it's quiet, the spark of fire in her a mere ember. "I am asking if you get the same freedoms she does. Because you should be equals." Risali pulls one hand free from the pile against her stomach, reaching out to press chilled fingers against his cheek as her sadness returns. And she hides it, with a smart little PINCH to so much CHEEKY FLESH. "You don't have to tell me, stupid bronzerider. So long as you're happy."

Just imagine when Leirith is knocking things over on purpose. Not just a mischance or random chaos, oh no. She will deliberately see things and decide to crash into them! …or trip over them because she was thinking of something else, but never mind that. Leirith surely won't! Garouth lifts his own head, looking out across the snow - past the trees. Past their riders. Out to where a hill slopes up, and past it… who knows? « I see winter. » Garouth answers after a long moment of staring. « It is cold, with snow and ice… and people keep warm. Smoke rises from the homes. They have fireplaces. Hot food. They are together, because it is cold and they want to feel warm. » Like Risali is warm; keeping D'lei's hand caught with hers, tangling fingers together like the ivy dormant on that trellis… and his curl back to hers, accepting and supporting that grasp as his eyes are fixed to hers, paying attention in a way that's almost more intent even than dragons, for that happens whether he wills it or no but this… he is a participant in this moment; he is here, with Risali. Her body is warm too, like her hands as she presses to him, as she draws his hand in and… he's holding his breath, because she's so quiet and if he breathes he might miss it and he doesn't want to do that. He wants to listen, to hear with his ears in addition to his eyes fixed on hers, his hand that curls more tightly to the one of hers as the other departs to his cheek… and his head turns, just a little, toward that hand on his cheek as it touches him, fingers cold and yet there's still such warmth there in the fact of touch and… he doesn't have to answer. There's a small nod. Acknowledging that, maybe. Or maybe he's tilting his head further toward her fingers… but D'lei stops that motion before it goes too far. "…yes," he answers softly. Despite not having to. "And I have. Once." He turns his head back, facing her gaze more directly, and his fingers give another squeeze to hers.

To be sure, Leirith will do many great things. TERRIBLE, yes. But great (LEIRITHMORT). And from wherever she is, doing whatever it is that she's chosen to do, she will share it with Garouth. And maybe one day, he will be there with her to crash all the parties and accidentally on purpose destroy all the things - because he promised he would. Travel with her, anyway. To Fort Weyr, and Monaco Bay, and Ierne. But don't worry. She's already forgotten all about that. Leirith listens, paying attention, seemingly captivated by Garouth's assessment of the world until - « Boring, » she tells the older dragon, amusement thick in the upbeat quality of her voice, as it so often is. « That's like saying, 'Hey Garouth, look at all those stars! What do you see?' and you saying, 'Well, Leirith. I see stars.' Obviously you see stars, Garouth. But what makes them stars? Why are they so bright? I am starting to think you are getting old. » Yep. She's totally laughing at him. JUST MAUL HER AND SAVE PERN THE TROUBLE, GAROUTH. NOBODY WILL BEGRUDGE YOU HER DEATH. Except maybe Risali, who might also die in her grief, but that is not important. Important is the way that Risali holds D'lei's gaze with that same intense attentiveness, as if she can communicate the importance of his abrupt arrival into her life without words, as if she can share everything she's found that makes him inexplicably different, as if his thoughts are there to be read, displayed in every subtle nuance of expression when he speaks. As if she can make everything okay. But she can't; instead, she offers him what she can. "Serena?" she whispers back, as if speaking any louder might break the tenuous moment and bring the real world back in, where it is currently unwelcome. Or, perhaps, there is already too much of it here to accommodate anymore. Risali returns the squeeze to her hand with one of her own, one that persists where she's trapped their hands against her own body and then… a quiet smile, as if she's trying for humor. "You don't have to answer that either." The fingers on his face? Well, they just start tracing the lines of his face as Risali leans into her knees, cheek pressed to the top of them, both of their hands still trapped between her. She traces his brows, and his nose, and the lines of his jaw. And then she's shifting again, letting go of his hand so that she can lay on her back again, touching her head to his as she exhales up towards the sky. TOPIC CHANGE. "Tell me about your family."

And the secret is that D'lei's thoughts are there, written on his face and in his eyes, but they're encoded in an arcane language that has only one fluent speaker. What does that intensity of gaze mean, to him? What does it mean to her? What does it mean, exactly, that he nods to the questioned name, a small motion of his head instead of any words. It's an assent, clearly, but… every little motion, every choice of words, speaks volumes that can only be fully deciphered with all the context of his life to date. That can be understood, and known, and yet leave so much more that's yet to be explained. Maybe it means he doesn't want to talk about it. Maybe it just means he doesn't want to disrupt the trace of her fingers on his face… though surely that motion would do so as much as words might. Maybe… there are so many maybes, and so many of them… accidents. Like the accident that brought him here, that even had them meet. It just… happened. Not that there wasn't a cause, but it's not like there was an intent to go to Xanadu and become a weyrling. Not from D'lei, anyhow, yet he's the one who's actually here! And with no words to say on that topic - not now, anyhow; not that make it out in time - it's a good opportunity for the next one. D'lei's fingers uncurl as Risali moves, brushed to her arm as she shifts, gaining his sense of her placement in his world while he looks up to the sky with her. "My ma's a sailor. Up and down Paradise River, mostly. And my mom fixes machines in the casino there. So that's where I grew up." The happenstance of place, yet another accident! Well. On his part, anyhow. On purpose and by accident do seem to blur together, sometimes. Like, if Leirith accidentally hears about a party and then goes there on purpose, did she or did she not crash it on purpose? There's an ambiguity there, and one she will have plenty of chance to explore as she goes to Fort Party, and Party Bay, and I-can't-fit-the-word-party-into-this-erne. With Garouth. Maybe not every time, but when the time comes and the curiosity comes, why wouldn't he go with? Well… his duties; those other bonds that tug at him, the other connections he has besides Leirith. But surely one of those times, he'll go with her! And they'll see those places together, he with his eyes and Leirith… with hers. Because she will see, someday. Or else she'll find a better minion who can do it for her, but in her grand procession of smashing everything, her own blindness is surely one she'll be able to manage along the way. « There are no stars out. » Garouth replies, because he is MISSING THE POINT. Intentionally. Because that's what old geezers do, they miss the point. His forest wrinkles, furrowing into little hills and hollows, dappled ground with canyons and culverts for his aged self that are lined with ferns that ripple in amusement as the wind passes them. « Because they die. » The wind blows on, past the ferns to where a forest giant stands, branches heavy with ice and snow. The wind gusts against it… and the tree snaps, a loud creak that's followed by a crack that shatters the world as that mighty oak falls. Other snaps follow, as that one dying tree takes others with it. Smaller trees lose their branches, cracked beneath the weight of this one giant. The earth shakes as it lands, shatters into a splay of broken logs, and the slow patter of fragments of branch and bark follow it to the ground before there is silence in the forest once more. « That is why they gather close. That is what I see. »

And yet here D'lei is, the result of every probability in life Risali's life landing her here, laying in the snow, head pressed to D'lei's, watching the sky unleash a quiet, gentle flurry of snow above their heads. Sometimes life is funny. And cruel. Who would want to be sharing these moments with a SHREW after all? Poor D'lei. For a moment, Risali is quiet. First, because she is listening, and then because she is thinking. Thinking like Leirith, whose dancers move through the forest to mourn the fallen trees, wondering at their destruction, holding their breath when - « That sounds really sad! » But at least she sounds cheerful about it? « Let's talk about something else - like why you are all the way over there and I am all the way over here and it is cold! And dark - wait, nope. I just can't see. Well, it's okay that I can't see. You! You are definitely old. » "That sounds - ma and mom? Like, they are two different people?" There's no judgement or disgust in her tone, merely curiosity meant to lend clarity for her own confusion. And then, "My Mom is a goldrider, and my Dad is a bronzerider. My Mom makes the best bubblies, and my Dad is the scariest man I know, but they -" A pause, a soft sound, and then a whisper, "Didn't work out." That's just probably what happens when sweet (read: strong-willed) bubbly-making bakers end up weyrmated to former renegades: nothing good. Risali sucks in a breath, holds it, and then rolls onto her stomach again, pushing to her feet. "I don't want to talk anymore, I want to dance one more time and then find someplace warm to work on those sharding straps again. Will you dance with me?" And she will wait, timid almost, hands pushed into pockets on her jacket as she hunches her shoulders up in an impossible attempt to maybe get a little warmer. "Please?" She is also used to tropical climates, you know. Those are her Step-Father's dragon's babies, after all, that will be making new riders at Half Moon Bay.

Not only does D'lei get snow thrown on him by Risali, he also gets it from the sky. Even nature colludes with her. This is what happens when … well. When all the probabilities in the world all come together into a moment! Which… is sort of true of every moment. The world doesn't have a script, it just… happens. All around them! And including them. Life! It's like that. "Yeah," D'lei says to the question, and his lips quirk. "I'm a flightbaby." Despite the fact that he said Hold, not Weyr. And that he hasn't mentioned a dragon for either of those people. There's a trace of humor under the word, but it's sufficiently tangled with bitterness, old and new, that it isn't the sort that really brings a laugh. It just… is. The nature of a D'lei and his two mothers! Which might explain a lot, if only you know which of the thousands upon millions of other pieces to connect it to and what conclusions to draw from there. He listens to her explanations in turn, with a small nod and then… "That sucks." No blame there in his tone, no sense of propriety violated or what should have been. Just a simple emotional reaction to the feeling of being there for that. Nothing more. As she shifts he tilts his head, looking up to her as he lies on the ground and… smiles. "Sure." He levers himself up, one elbow dug in the snow and a roll around to get a leg under him, and extends his hand to her. "One more dance… but only one, because I don't want to answer to Leirith if you turn into an icicle." Not that Leirith is paying attention! She's much more interested in caling Garouth old. « I don't know. Why are you all the way over there? » he asks. Monsters creep out from the edges of the broken forest, starting to gather pieces of splintered wood. « I mean. I'm old. I have an excuse for not moving very fast, but you're supposed to be young and strong. » He's teasing, a tickle of wind against her as those monsters stack up wood into a layered pile.

Risali hears the bitterness in D'lei's words, but her reaction is to turn and look at him, in opposition of the desire to speak meaningless words. There are just some things that words cannot do, situations that words cannot fix, and Risali's not well enough read on the book of D'lei's life to know from where the bitterness originates. She also is wise enough not to question whether or not his clear resentment for his circumstances is the reason for his determination to be there for his child. She doesn't have the full story, and now is not the time to pry. He's offered what he will; she will take what she gets. 'That sucks,' has her laughing - a sound stark in contrast when compared to her emotions. Perhaps it's an attempt to keep both emotions and Leirith's attention at bay. "It did, but… I think it was for the best." A beat. "I will murder you in your sleep if you ever repeat that." She's only teasing. Right? Her smile says so, but WHAT WOULD D'LEI KNOW ABOUT HER SMILE. NOTHING. He's too busy LOOKING AT THE SKY. Until they're agreeing to dance, and Risali's on her feet, and D'leil's in the process of gaining his own. When D'lei's hand extends to her, Risali takes it, digging her heels into the ground so that she can help him use her rather insubstantial weight to haul himself up. SO LONG AS THERE'S NO TRICKS TO BE HAD HERE. One NEVER KNOWS with these two. "Two if I ask really politely," she tells him around another smile. "Three if the first two don't end well. And four if I say so." Because Risali does what she wants, much like Leirith. Leirith who projects amusement to the bronze across the way, finding humor in his words. « And here I was, Garouth, thinking only one of us could not see. » There's laughter flitting after him, and the dancers join the monsters in this gathering of wood, stacking it in piles alongside piles - but possibly with the intent of setting them on fire. Because WHO COULDN'T USE A GOOD PARTY? « It was a mistake. Kind of like my choice in seeing-eye minions. Okay, so she was an excellent choice, but my point stands. Is vision one of the things that goes when you get old? » Ha. Ha. Ha.

"I like being not-murdered," D'lei observes. It's contemplative, really. A calm assessment of just what he prefers, the same as he might note his opinion of bubbly pies. Which he also likes, just for the record! In case that is relevant, which it might be, because Risali's mother. See? He can put his newfound knowledge to use… without being murdered. Probably, anyhow. He won't know until he's dead (or not (which he'd prefer (just saying (again)))). And he rises to his feet WITHOUT TRICKERY, because he wants to keep her on her toes (er, digging in her heels) and thus not knowing whether or not she can trust him. Always betraying? Pfft, that's predictable. There's no fun to be had in that. "Do they ever end well?" he just has to ask, despite a strong suspicion that he already knows the answer. Now that he's afoot (much like the game), he lifts one of her hands to his shoulder, an intent to deposit it there while keeping the other one caught and thus out of trouble. Well, okay, keeping it entirely out of trouble might be a bit ambitious, even for D'lei. Distracting it somewhat on the way to trouble? Yeah, that sounds more likely. "Besides." He smiles, tucking his arm around her waist. "We could just skip straight to number seven." Breaking the natural order of things and violating the rules, that's him! He breaks things. And so does Garouth, except those things are trees and the monsters clean them up… with the help of those dancers. Bigger and bigger the piles grow! « There you were, being wrong. » The winds dance, bringing with them flurries of snow that dance and sparkle in the air with amusement. « But at least I am old, and have an excuse for my mind to be going. » So elderly, with his two whole turns of age. « It's okay. I've grown used to you and your mistakes. » The wind calms, his voice lowering to a whisper. « I've figured out what to do about it. » The monsters step back, lifting their arms to the skies, and… whooosh! Their breath turns to flame, shooting out to light that stacked wood on fire in a crackle of heat - and light, flickering flames casting fragments of vision to Leirith to show her path with Garouth's eyes as he begins to hum… and the monsters, to sing!

"That's unfortunate," Risali says in somber tones, fighting to keep her smile at bay. "I had plans involving you and that big sewing needle they just gave me." SO UNWISE. MUCH UNWISENESS. "It was going to be a lot of fun - for one of us, anyway." And then she's laughing, genuinely surprised to find herself on her feet and not sprawled once more in the falling snow beside D'lei, grey eyes already dancing when he puts her arm on his shoulder and catches her around the waist. It's a good thing he caught her other hand, because trouble it was definitely headed for. She uses her free hand to smack his shoulder lightly, half a push, as she breathes out, "Shut up, D'lei," around a smile. The arm on the bronzerider's shoulder slips to his bicep where fingers dig with gentle pressure, grey eyes holding amber for a long moment around a smile, and then Risali's going up on the tips of her toes to lean in just a little closer. "What is number seven, D'lei?" She assumes how many times he really wants to dance with her, which is why she says, "And here I was, thinking you didn't even like me enough to share more than one." Leirith, meanwhile, is all amusement. Garouth is positively decrepit, one paw in the grave, so to speak, and Leirith teases him with this impression as her dancers twirl in the breeze, the fabric of their clothing changing colors every time the feathers of their masks shift in the wind. They continue to gather sticks, and pile them high, reaching for the sky alongside monsters and catching fire again in a cry of delight, untouched as they dance in fanning flames that rival those on the bonfire that they've started. « Watch out, minion! We've got a badass over here! What are you going to do about it, Garouth? » But the mini queen's drums are starting amid all of her amusement, and she walks that path with all the gusto she exercises in everything. « My Risali says that this one is for you. » And Risali is dancing, pulling D'lei with her as she sings about everybody DANCING IN THE MOONLIGHT (totally a song on Pern now, fight me).

"You should at least wait until between lessons," D'lei advises. "Makes it much easier to hide the body." Beat. "…unless you're more the trophies type?" An arch of his brows for the question, because this matters in terms of whether he should expect an unmarked grave or a gruesome display after his sudden yet inevitable murder. Risali will practically have no choice! How else will she get him to actually shut up? He grins, leaning back to her as she asks about his chosen dance, and his eyes are bright like the reflection of a fire (or a hungry dragon). "Why… it's the lucky one, of course." He did grow up around a casino! And he gives that hand he's keeping untroublesome a squeeze, as Garouth's monsters take grotesque shapes that mimic age and frailty but are really just… the natural shapes of those unnatural beasts. The creatures of the forest! And they summon fire, the terror of the animals and destroyer of woodlands… and Leirith's dancers are the fire, their costumes flickering orange and glowing red, their feet coals as they cast off sparks that fall upward into the sky. The monsters howl, lifting their arms again, and Garouth speaks his answer to Leirith. « PARTY. » And that's the signal for the monsters to cheer and bay, to swing their arms as they dance around the fire-dancers in turn, a circling spiral of shadows that celebrate the light and cast their own shadows from it, out into the darkness of the forest where other creatures lurk and wonder at the bonfire flames that shine and the wild party that rages there… and is echoed out among the falling snow as D'lei and Risali dance together in the winter gardens for the second (or maybe seventh) time.

"That's for me to know," Risali responds, wickedly. "And you to never find out." GET IT? Because he will be dead. HA. THAT IS THE JOKE. Whatever, it's (totally not) funny. Speaking of making D'lei shut up - which is something Risali has resigned herself to never seeing happen in her lifetime, ever. Not until he goes back to Monaco Bay, anyway, which gives rise to feelings she doesn't want to examine yet because now is not the time for premature goodbyes. Now is the time for dancing, and so Risali breathes, "Shut up, D'lei," with as much affection as she can muster in three unaffection words, and they're dancing. Leirith's joy overflows, sending carousel horses dancing through the trees of the forest where creatures hide, turning the skies into mirrors that reflect the party below, sending her dancers howling too. And to be sure, Risali and D'lei dance for a second time. Maybe even a seventh - if he's lucky.

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