Better With Children Nets Desri a Job

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 eluding 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. The two paths leading away from the entrance have come full circle, wrapping around to meet each other on the other side, yet still continue on to the far left and right. One path leads off deeper into the surrounding woods, while the other wider; cheerily decorated with brightly colored slabs of painted stones.

Early is relative in a Weyr; it's morning still but work begins before the sun rises and breakfast is long since over for most people. The sky is clear, a crisp blue that gives the illusion of warmth if not the reality. Desri is not in fact dressed for an Istan fall but has raided the stores for longer, heavier trousers and a tunic with sleeves. The island Weyr's knot is still affixed to her shoulder, however. Yesterday, it was recommended that she tour the gardens and so today here she is, aimlessly wandering. There's something almost helpless about the way she meanders the flagstone path; she has the wide-eyed, discontented look of someone accustomed to ceaseless labor who now finds themselves at loose ends. At least her hands are busy, deft fingers drawing her hair forward and sectioning it for twin braids as she walks and looks and tries to appear as if she isn't just what she is: a tourist.

The tap of boot soles on flagstone precede Thea as she rounds the corner, stepping briskly around some golden-hued shrubbery, most of which has lost its leaves by this time. Normally the junior might be wearing heavier clothes, but attending a broody queen on the baking sands will tend to overheat a body and thus she is here without a jacket and dressed in thin cotton tunic (though her weyrwoman's knot is affixed to it) and trous, her thick sable hair done up in a twist to keep it off her neck. That she's come straight from the hatching grounds for a brief respite might be obvious to some from the pink-tinted cheeks and the way she's flapping her tunic to allow the cool air inside. Sea green eyes lift to spot Desri and take in that aimless look and so she asks with a friendly smile, "Hello. Are you lost?"

"Hmm?" The answer is distracted, Desri had been looking down to secure the tip of the first braid with a slip of ribbon. When she looks up, it's to blink in startled fashion at the other woman. Her eyes flash to Thea's shoulder and that glimpse is enough to leave her adopting a less slouchy posture, with her hands falling away to her sides. Please to be ignoring the lopsided hair-do. Though the tips of her ears might be pink, she's quick with a smile. "Oh no ma'am. I…Amelia said I should see the gardens, and D'son was busy, so I…" She's here. A brief gesture illustrates that fact. "I'm, ah…Desri. His sister. D'son, I mean. I'm sorry, I'm…I wasn't thinking to run into anyone here and…" The stream of awkwardness is cut short when she makes note of the tunic flapping, leaving her to gnaw briefly on her lower lip before asking, "Are you all right?"

Merriment dances in the ice-green of Thea's eyes as she listens to Desri's flustered explanation. Although she manages to keep her smile within proper bounds, her head cocks to one side with just that hint of 'what-have-we-here' giving away her bemusement. A gentle nod follows the part where she's saying she's not lost, dark brows lift slightly with her introduction; she's both surprised and perplexed, although the words are kind, "You don't need to apologize to me, the gardens are for everyone. And welcome to Xanadu Weyr, Desri." She drops the hem of her tunic at the same time she answers that question, a hint of irritation creeps into her tone, although it's directed at the sands with a flutter of fingers in the general direction of the Hatching Grounds, "I just came from… in there. I'm hot." Her brow clears immediately and she's back to pleasant, "You can drop the ma'am; call me Thea. Seryth's. Are you visiting D'son then?"

"I know who you are, yes ma'am…ah. Thea. I made sure I knew the ranking riders before I came, I didn't want to…I mean…yes. Our mother thought a visit would do us both good, so I'm here until he gets tired of me." Desri finishes this jumbled explanation by taking a deep breath and releasing it slowly. At the end of that exhalation, she's able to adopt a steadier smile. "It's a good day for a walk to get away from the Sands," she goes on, achieving a somewhat less awkward cadence in her speech. "The cold is…new. I mean, I know this isn't cold cold but it's colder than Ista and…I'm sorry, I'm not good with people. Grown people." That's quickly becoming a refrain; this time, she accompanies it with a ducked nod towards Thea while forcing her smile into something resembling humor. To keep her hands from fidgeting, she returns to doing up her hair. The second braid begins to take shape as she steps a little to the side, clearing the path for the woman.

There's a mild, "D'son's a good friend. I'm glad you can come to be with him." Thea makes no move to continue her walk, even when the other girl steps aside. Instead, she breathes in the brisk air with eyes half-closed and agrees with a simple, "It is. I feel better already, but yes, Ista's much warmer." Indeed, the pink is beginning to fade from her cheeks, the damp along her hairline drying, allowing wisps of dark hair once stuck there to move with the breeze. Her eyes drift in a lazy fashion out over the gardens towards the playground where the nannies have a group of tots busy. "Are you?" She's thoughtful for a few beats, considering. "I could use some extra help for a few hours in the evenings, if you'd like a temporary job. I'd pay you well."

That gives Desri reason to pause. She'd been avoiding looking directly at the weyrwoman while Thea enjoyed the cooler air, though it wouldn't take high perception to see a glint of sympathy in her smile. Mostly though, her head remains down while she pretends to focus entirely on finishing up the braid. But the thoughtful offer has the Istan glancing up, first to blink slowly and then to offer the first unrestrained smile she's worn thus far. "Really? Oh, that would be wonderful, ma'am. Thea. I mean…it's been nice seeing D'son but I haven't…I'm used to working and I miss the little ones. I haven't been the nurseries yet to offer a hand since it's only been a few days and…how old are yours?" Her entire manner has shifted, relief and interest combining to leave her seeming far more relaxed. "I'd be happy to forgo pay until you decide you're happy with me, and I'm a good fit with your children. That's important, I know."

Perceiving Desri's unease, Thea's manner is as relaxed and informal as she can be, with a casual, "Care to walk with me?" and a tilt of her chin playground-wards. If the younger girl so chooses, she begins a slow, unhurried walk across the grass in that general direction. Her gaze wanders the area rather than focus constantly on Desri, seeking to put her at ease, although an understanding smile is flashed her way. With a slight teasing in her tone she says, "If you prefer to be busy, I'm sure the other nannies won't object having an Istan amongst them to help. Whenever you are ready, that is." Her hands slip into her tunic pockets and she tucks her chin to eye the ground in front of her feet. "Well, they are both the same age - a little over two and a half turns old. But right now it's my weyrmate who cares for them while I'm on the sands and-" with a little laugh she breaks off, shakes her head with fond amusement. "Let's just say it wouldn't take much to please him right now."

Desri hastens to secure the end of the braid before tossing it back over her shoulder. A few quick steps bring her into line with Thea and leave her walking beside, her hands also sinking deep into her pockets. It's easier now to maintain a less agitated facade; the Istan clings to the prospect of talking children with happy energy. "Busy is better, yes," she says, tilting a small, almost shy smile at Thea to let it be known that she recognized the teasing and finds some amusement in it. She goes back to looking ahead afterwards, gaze drawn to the playground and the children romping there. "And two at that age would be a handful, especially if your weyrmate has other duties to keep them busy during the day. I'd be happy to lend a hand in the evenings to free some time. I work mostly with the younger ones, just weaned to about seven. I like their energy…they never lie even when they're trying to," she confesses with a bolder smile, on the verge of laughter herself.

"As long as you can relax and enjoy yourself when you're not working, then I'll agree with you about busy," Thea says with mock sternness that is rendered ineffective by a conspiratorial grin sent a sidelong over to Desri. "He's the Weyrsecond, so in addition to being overwhelmed with the pair, he is busy yes." So much left out of that statement, but she goes on to say, "Muireadhach- Muir is quite active and headstrong, Marella… she's quite biddable, ah, most of the time." She withdraws a hand to point out two dark-haired children, a sturdy boy digging in the dirt, and a girl being pushed on one of the swings. "They do have their squabbles." But oh, she's curious now and with a quirked brow she just has to ask lightly, "They never lie? Have you found older folk to be so untrue, then?"

"Time not spent tending toddlers would be a good thing then," Desri says, leashing the urge to laugh and spending her amusement in a more muted chuckle. She draws herself up to study the children indicated by the weyrwoman, her head tilting and a gentler smile coming to her lips. "It's the age for headstrong. They look like fine children. Healthy and handsome." The assessment is genuine, though it has the sound of a compliment. Afterwards, the nanny darts a quick and uncertain look at Thea. Caught off guard by the question, perhaps, with the tips of her ears going pink. "Oh, I didn't mean anything by it. Just…after a certain age, they start…people start…sometimes what they say and think doesn't match, and you have to consider…consider what and why they might be doing or saying something, and you can't always predict…I mean, it's…I'm sorry, I didn't mean any offense. Children are…simpler."

"Well, yes and no," Thea says to that. "I'm hold-raised myself and refused to foster them. I think it's good for both the twins and D'had for him to be involved, but right now, without me there to help him…" she trails off with a what-can-you-do shrug, murmurs a pleased thanks for her remarks about the children. It's a steady look that meets Desri's uncertain one as the junior listens, then responds with a gentle agreement, "Of course you didn't. And while it's true, children are simpler-" Candor prompts her to say, "One can spend overmuch time surmising what others may be thinking and in the end really it's only a guess, as it's impossible to read minds. I tend to take folks at face value until they've proven otherwise." Humor twinkles in her eyes as she finishes, "Though I'm sure if you look, you'll find a few childlike adults around here."

The flush that's laid claim to her ears spreads to Desri's face. It would seem Thea's hit the head of that particular nail. "Yes ma'am," she says. The respectful title comes by reflex and she doesn't think to correct it, choosing instead to gently clear her throat while gazing out over the playground again. Her jaw works while she chews on the inside of her cheek; it's a thoughtful sort of tic and diverts her while she considers what to say next. "I haven't met anyone like that," the Istan finally says, "But I can keep an eye out." Her glance for Thea is quick but she's mustered up another smile, and a narrowing of her eyes that might be an attempt to match the older girl's good humor. "Everyone's been very nice. Helpful. And…and yesterday, I was even given some flowers by one of the dragons. Jaesriuth. They were…not /really/ flowers, just weeds, but he was sweet about it. I don't think I could have chosen a better place to visit than Xanadu." She pauses for a beat. "Well, maybe Igen. They're warmer and set a spicier table."

"Thea," it's automatic, the junior's attention on the children, a fond smile laced with longing when her pale eyes find her own amongst them. "I've always found your brother to be quite candid, Desri and you must meet my son N'shen. He's a forthright lad, bless him." She turns, aims a reassuring pat for the other girl's arm, "Most people here are wonderful; don't let the few gruff ones (coughG'enecough) cause you dismay." A chuckle bubbles up as she adds, "Ah did he? Yes, R'iahn's blue is a sweetie." The woman has formed goose-flesh on her bare arms - finally cooled enough to do so and thus she take her leave with another kind smile for the girl, "It's time I headed back to Seryth, but it was good to meet you, Desri. Enjoy your time with your brother, hmm?"

"Oh, Nash is yours? I met him as well, yes. We played kick-ball." Desri ducks her head, though whether it's to hide her smile or embarrassment at needing reassurance is difficult to say. "Thank you, Thea. I will, yes. And if you do want want an evening here or there, with your children in good hands, I'd be happy to help. I think I will speak with the nannies here and see if they might need some assistance in the nursery too." It all comes out in a rush and tumble, reassurance offered in kind. She's doing all right! She's taking what was said to heart, see? "My best to Seryth and her eggs," she adds in a more formal tone. It's softened by a smile, at least, and a gaze that doesn't seem tempted to fly away from sheer awkwardness.

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