Fort Weyr - Lake Shore

This lake shares many features common to mountain lakes — a brilliant blue jewel nestled amongst the rocks. The waters are crystal clear, and the north shore slopes gently before abruptly falling away into the depths. This lake does have one significant differentiating feature, however. The south shore of the lake is a tumbled mass of rubble, rock and earth of an ancient rockslide smoothed only by the elements in the intervening years. This rubble, as well as the rather sheer east and west faces, makes for the north shore to be the only one easily accessible.
The chill of winter has iced over the lake shore. One section of the north shore shallows is kept broken up for weyrfolk and young dragons to use, though the freezing waters are not well tolerated by humans for any length of time. It requires constant maintenance to keep this section unfrozen and sometimes is more like wading through slush than water. The deepest part of the lake remains unfrozen, a vibrant pool of icy blue surrounded by frozen white.

The evening deepens over Fort Weyr while myriad stars sparkle overhead in the clear skies. Timor and Belior preside over it like proud parents, hanging high overhead and shedding a soft glow upon the festivities. Autumn has kissed summer's humidity with a cool breath, refreshing but not chilling just yet. The bowl, lakeshore and dancing platform are awhirl with celebrating Weyrfolk, some dancing - which has been underway since twilight - some feasting others drifting from group to group to share spirited banter. The tables by now, are full of people enjoying the food and drink, the platform crowded with dancers, strains of lilting music, merry chatter rises on the night air, punctuated by the occasional sprinkle of laughter. D'ani has made a brief appearance on the platform, paired with Kimmila for the opening dance while the Weyrleader and Weyrwoman did that first obligatory dance and has since slipped away from the press of people, having strolled down the lakeshore a ways where the lantern's glow doesn't compete so fiercely with shadow and starlight but the music still drifts across the water. He's currently sitting on the sand with forearms loosely draped across his knees apparently contemplating the shimmering surface of the lake's dark waters. Between his boots is a re-corked bottle of white wine, still chilled as the beads of moisture slowly sliding down the glass give hint to, and as yet, undrunk from.

Of course, the Weyrwoman can't really slip off unseen after her obligatory dance with the Weyrleader. And, her state of dress does draw attention to the woman who normally dresses in a more manly appearance. So, she's been caught up in brief dances and idle chatter until she's finally freed herself from the platform without anyone following. The music fades with the distance and there is finally a moment where she can breathe deep and enjoy the soft lull of the activity. There's a pause in her movement, however, where she bends over and gingerly hikes up the hem of her dress only to remove the dressier shoes. Bare feet settle into the sand before she continues walking. With shoes in one hand and some of her dress bunched up in the other to stop the fabric from dragging, she approaches D'ani. It's not hard to miss the lone figure out by himself. "Planning on drinking alone, Weyrsecond?" Of course, her tone is teasing as she comes to a stop near by.

Perhaps it's the flutter of white dress standing out in the night that catches his eye, or it could be that D'ani has cast an occasional glance down the shore towards that platform - whichever the case, the bronzerider has seen the Weyrwoman's approach and watches as she moves closer. He's rising to his feet as she draws near, extending a hand in invitation even as she speaks. "Not anymore," he says easily, a lopsided smile tugging at his mouth. "Would you care to join me? I've no glasses so it will be taking turns right from the bottle." His eyes twinkle a humorous challenge. "Unless the Weyr has tamed you already…"

The hand extending invitation is given one of her own and the hem of her dress comes to brush against the ground in response. "I'd love to join you." Dtirae answers cheerfully. As for his challenge, the woman grins quite widely in response. "Just because I'm in a dress does not mean that I've been tamed." She'll close the rest of the distance, and release his hand so that she may carefully arrange the dress so that she can sit on the sand. Her foster mother will likely weep over the fact later. Even her grown child can't seem to keep a dress clean.

Though his half-smile deepens into a grin, it's with a sense of regret that D'ani watches that exposed length of calf disappear behind a filmy curtain of white. He helps ease her down to her seat - at least until she needs the hand back to re-arrange her dress, then lowers himself to sit beside her, knees half-bent, boots propped in the sand. A few brisk smacks of his palms together dislodges clinging grains of sand and then he retrieves that wine bottle. "In that case," he keeps his eyes on hers, lifts the bottle, removes the loosened cork with his teeth, plucks it from his mouth and drops it in his shirt pocket as he offers the bottle over to her with a drawled, "Wild Women first."

Dtirae settles her shoes nearby, and sets to arranging herself in a more comfortable fashion. Toes are partially buried into the sands as she draws her knees up and sits with them partially bent. Her dress is shifted to hide her places that one doesn't go flashing about in decent society, but, calves are definitely still exposed, at least, partially. Her head tilts to watch him with the wine bottle, a playful smile teasing at her lips. When offered, she takes the bottle and lifts it to her lips to take a drink. No delicate sipping, here. And then, she lowers the bottle and offers it back to the bronzerider. "So, I'm curious as to what brings you out here, all alone."

D'ani definitely approves of that skirt arrangement. While she's taking her drink, he leans to flip the edges of it with a light fingertip, fluttering it slightly. "You should do that more often. You look great in a dress." Withdrawing his hand to reclaim that bottle, he lifts it in a salute to her, eyes merry, lifts it to his lips and tips it. Her question is posed as the crisp wine is filling his mouth; his swallow is harder than it might normally be. Offering the bottle back to her, he turns his head towards the lake, silent in the wake of her curiosity. Drifting on the night air, the muted sounds of laughter and music fill what might ordinarily be an awkward pause while a muscle in the bronzer's cheek twitches. "Remembering the last gather I enjoyed," he says finally but almost more to the dark waters than to her.

Dtirae's gaze follows his fingers as he plays with the hem of her dress. There's a soft bit of laughter that follows, "I'll consider it." Whether or not this promise holds true will be an entirely different story. Her gaze continues to linger on him, watching as he drinks. Curious, but, certainly not to the point of where she'll bother him with questions. After a moment, her gaze drifts away towards the water. "Did you have fun?" Comes after a moment of hesitation, more questions likely came before this one. She doesn't aim to look at him again, however.

It's a suggestion D'ani will notice if she follows says the flash of white teeth as he smiles at her right before his sip of wine and the question that sobers him during it. A short nod is followed by a rough-voiced, "I did." He turns his head back to her, dark eyes studying her features in the dim light while the hard line of his mouth softens a touch. "I was on Maiona with my family and some friends, so a small gather. But still a gather." There's no bitterness in his tone, but there is regret. An odd sentiment for a gather he'd just said he enjoyed. He makes drinking motions to that bottle. Is she going to hold it or…?

Dtirae remains staring out for the water, stewing in unspoken questions. There's a pause in which she considers the bottle and lifts it to her lips for a brief moment. Then, she considers him with a single look. She offers the bottle back and nods once. "That sounds like it was nice." There's more, most likely, but she hesitates and her hand lingers near by before it comes to rest on her knees.

There's more and perhaps the wine helps to both loosen D’an’s tongue and the grip of the past. His fingers brush hers as he re-takes the bottle, lifts it and takes another mouthful, savoring it rather than gulping it down. "Mmhm," he agrees with her reflection while swallowing. "It was to celebrate my promotion from beastcraft apprentice to senior apprentice," he takes another long sip from the bottle, swipes the droplet that runs down his chin with the back of his hand during another swallow, offers the bottle back to her while finishing with a wry-toned, "and my betrothal."

Said fingers idly curl, gently clenching onto her dress while she's watching D'ani's movements. Dtirae's brows slightly furrow with concern as he speaks. She doesn't say anything as he takes another drink, even rejecting the offer of the bottle. "But?" There is certainly a but lingering at the end of his statement.

D'ani's hand remains extended to her, dark eyes fathomless at odds with his light-toned and simple, "But it was not to be." Both shoulders roll in a shrug that comes off heavy rather than dismissive. "I wasn't in love with her; she was a girl my father chose and the wedding so far off in the future it seemed unreal because reaching senior journeyman…" He shakes his head and a smirk pulls at his mouth. Yeah, every student feels like the end of schooling is forever away and will never happen.

Dtirae still does not reach for the bottle, despite the fact that his hand is extended still. As he continues with the story, the slight furrow of her brows grows deeper and the hand on her knee lifts away to gently settle on his own, should he not pull away. There is no intention of taking the bottle with that touch "Did… Something happen?"

D'ani's soundless laugh is without mirth, a rare thing for him. "Aye," he nods, his hand hesitating in a 'you're sure' sort of way when her hand touches not the bottle, but his knee before he retracts the bottle and drinks again. "A torrential rainstorm and a flood," he says bluntly. Continuing a touch bitterly, "But first there was grilled pork, swinging lanterns, music and dancing." He snorts softly at himself, the bottle is pushed into the sand between them (still half-full so he's not drunk or anything like that) and covers the small hand on his knee with his own, giving it an apologetic little press of fingers. "I'm sorry, Dtirae. You didn't come out by the lake to hear a sad tale." He directs a curious look at her dim features, his smile creeping back. "What brought you from the party to solitude on the lake shores?"

"Oh." Comes the soft response to his own blunt statement. There is a touch of sadness in her tone, concern continuing to pull at her brows until she's frowning without hesitation. Grey eyes briefly look to her hand on his knee, listening to the rest of his story for as long as it goes. Dtirae doesn't pull away, though she certainly is looking up once his hand covers hers. "Don't apologize." She'll try to draw her hand back slowly before she offers him a smile. "I did tell you I wanted to dance with you." Clearly, she's dodging answering the reason why she left.

D'ani has not told the whole of it to her, but tragic stories are not for this night. He's accepted most of the happenstance of that past event, save for a lingering stubbornness regarding something unnamed that lingers as brown touches grey when their eyes meet. He allows her hand to slip from under his while a slow smile spreads across his mouth. "Indeed you did, though I'll wager you didn't come out here to find me." He gives her a quizzical look, murmurs a lightly sympathetic, "Crowds get a bit too much?" If so, it's a shared sentiment! He rises, takes the wine, the bottle stuck in the wet sand where wavelets can lap the base and keep it cool, steps back to offer her his hand as an assist to her feet at the same time giving a formal little bow and asks, "Then may I have this dance, Lady Weyrleader?" Across the lakeshore the first strains of a waltz, one of the formal dances of Pern can be heard.

That look in his eye? Certainly the Weyrwoman can understand, but, it remains unspoken. If only for the fact that such a look no longer lingers in her own gaze. Such remains unspoken, to allow room for a lighter mood. Another smile touches her lips and she chuckles, "no, I did not." She agrees easily. His question earns a shrug in an answer, "perhaps I was just a little tired of hearing about how nice I cleaned up and how I look like a real woman. And, sometimes, I can't handle the crowds." As he rises, she watches in a rather laid back manner. When he returns and offers his hand, she laughs and takes his offer. The bow is met with a silly curtsey of her own. "Certainly, Weyrsecond. Just be mindful of my toes, I'm not wearing shoes."

Darker thoughts are shed to disperse into the night, a lighter mood settling in its place. As to her reasons for retreat, D'ani grins wolfishly at her, "They must be blind then because you looked like a real woman before tonight." Since she's tired of hearing them say it, he leaves the worn out phrases unspoken and still tells her she looks beautiful: he remains at arm's length, his expression less obvious as his head is tilted to sweep her with an up-down eye that ends on her bare toes. With a quiet chuckle at her warning, he leans down, removes his boots with one hand (because he's keeping her hers), tosses them where they won't get tripped over. Socks follow and then he gently draws her closer, guides her hand to his shoulder, places his hand on the small of her back and wordlessly sweeps her into the dance over the sands.

Dtirae laughs at that, "perhaps they are quite blind, indeed." She'll certainly agree to that, especially as his compliment doesn't come in the form of just present tense. As he removes his boots, the woman is grinning widely and with more amusement this time. Though, it fades as he draws her closer and guides her hands into the proper placing just before sweeping her into the dance. Cheeks flush a light shade and her head tilts downwards as if to try and watch their feet as they move. Sheepish is the normally confident woman.

D'ani is quiet, deft steps guiding her, hands gentle as they direct her with skill borne of practice while they glide in the intricate pattern over their private 'dance floor'. Beneath her hand, his shoulder is firm, but his movements are fluidly relaxed and he's obviously enjoying the dance as the whisper of sand at their feet vies with the faint strains of the waltz reaching them from that distant platform. One might think the silence of the Weyrsecond is due to a reverie taking him back into his past, but no, the top of Dtirae's head is receiving a thoughtful scrutiny at her retreat into shy withdrawal. He'll not point that out to her though, instead he'll allow the silence to stretch rather than fill it with a rush of inane chatter and on his part it's a relaxed, companionable quiet much like the one he employs with the animals he's worked with, seeking to put her at ease with his own acceptance of her mood.

Dtirae appreciates the silence, time to linger on her own thoughts and an attempt to regain her confidence. Dancing, despite the fact that she asked him, is not a skill she's mastered quite yet. Though, that's not to say that she hasn't attempted. She isn't fumbling without direction, nor is she so new that she does not know where to place her feet. But, once she's comfortable, she lifts her gaze to meet his and offers a smile. "Is it normal to have a conversation while dancing?" She wonders, though, she certainly doesn't leave it at that. "It's funny that I can be graceful in other situations, but things like this trip me up…" Though, her dance with the Weyrleader went without spills and she wasn't retreated like this! And her other dances certainly didn't trip her up.

At the sound of Dtirae's voice, D'ani drops his chin to more fully meet her eyes. The quizzical expression in them is slow to fade, especially when she voices her self-observation. Though his lips have parted to answer her previous question, it is the comment he remarks to instead, with a teasing, "Because I am so awesomely hot I make your bones melt." He's totally kidding! His own perception of her unsettled reaction is left unvoiced - and thoughts skittering away from primarily due to humility. Besides, one could argue that Th'ero is also awesomely hot (at least the fluttering, sighing cavern girls coo that when he's out of earshot) and he apparently didn't make her bones melt. They make another sweeping turn in the moments after this exchange and the Weyrsecond has a question for her, "Weyrwoman, are you happy here?" His chin gestures, indicating the Weyr in general, of her role in leading it. Brown eyes are earnestly genuine; he honestly wants to know. And perhaps to know if she can be vulnerable enough to answer him honestly.

Dtirae chuckles softly, tilting inclining her head slightly. "Perhaps that it is." She agrees without much protest. Fingers tighten slightly on the Weyrsecond's shoulder, steading herself and allowing trying to allow her movements to be a little more fluid as they continue to dance. His question draws her gaze back up, and, it is quite lucky that he is leading the dance otherwise she would have stopped abruptly. The look she gives him is one of confusion, then, her gaze drifts to the Weyr. She doesn't answer right away, lingering in silence before grey eyes finally meet brown eyes again. A genuine smile settles on her lips, one full of fondness. "I love my Weyr. It's always been mine and I've always belonged to the Weyr. Yes, I'm happy here. I would never leave for anywhere else."

"I meant," D'ani continues as brows knit in concentration, "being the one at the top, carrying the responsibility. What you said on the sailboat about losing friends…" his voice trails off. That can't be fun and makes for lonely, but she has her work, the leadership team. That's what he's getting at. As he seeks to clarify, he's the one who stumbles, go figure. Finishing his thought waits until he's sure he won't send them both sprawling in the sand as he returns his concentration to his footwork and guiding her in another turn. Vague. He knows his question is being expressed awkwardly. He tries again, "Were you ever able to smooth things over with Th'ero after you punched him? You two can enjoy working together now right?"

"Oh." Dtirae drifts into silence for a moment, "well, I still have my hunter friends. But, they also see me as a leader and a sister. So, I suppose that is also different." She pauses again to consider but ends up stifling a small bit of laughter as he stumbles. "I'm lonely, I won't deny that. But, I am still happy because I can be. I have my Weyr and I have responsibilities. If I allowed myself to be sad over being lonely, then nothing would get done and I'd simply be an awful Weyrwoman." Who would never hear the end of it. She falls into silence before his next question comes. "We smoothed things over, sure. But, I think he hates me. I'm certain he hates me. He fights me on everything, then he and Kimmila run off on their own little plans and I'm left in the dark. Who knows, maybe you as a Weyrsecond will fix that. But, we tolerate one another. I… Would like to consider him a friend, maybe even as a brother. Because he's helped me so much and I'm certain I'd have driven any other Weyrleader off… Or something. I'm not making sense." Lips press together into a thin line and her gaze, again, focuses on their feet.

While there's relief that she still has her hunter friends, the comment about being happy despite her loneliness earns a smile approval from D'ani. His own philosophy exactly! For despite his family's disappearance, he genuinely practices happiness. They circle the area and he listens carefully to the Weyrwoman's expressed frustration. Her head is down so she can't see the comical wide-eyed EEK expression that flits across his face as she utters 'maybe you as Weyrsecond will fix that'. Oh man! D'ani as the go-to guy! That would be either disastrous or hilarious, depending on the perspective… or the outcome! The music tapers off as her gaze drops to their feet and D'ani gradually slows them to a halt. His dark eyes rest on that flat line of unhappy on her lips. For a moment he debates, then releases her hand seeking the underside of her chin with gentle fingers, attempting to lift it so she will meet his eyes. "Yes you are," he says, the corners of his eyes crinkling as he smiles down at her. "You said he's helped you. Focus on that. And let him know he has. The rest will follow."

She's certainly missing those looks! Perhaps for the best, otherwise, she'd feel guilty about throwing him into the middle of everything. As the music comes to an end and their dance follows, she seems content to linger with her hand on his shoulder and her other hand in his, if it hadn't moved away to lift her chin. Her now free hand comes to rest on his chest, gently as her eyes meet his. "I'll try." And then, she attempts to draw away from him and back to where their shoes rest.

Try is all D’ani can ask. Still his approval - and encouragement is expressed in a barely-there chuck under the chin with his knuckle as she says it, allowing her to slip back to her own space. Sadly, they must have caught the last number of the evening for no further strains of music drift their way. Instead the night sounds settle over the lake: the chorus of insects' monotonous hum interspersed with the occasional call of a nightbird, the splish of waves along the shore. While she's getting her shoes, he circles to find his boots - one here and one waaay over there, socks fluttered somewhere in between them. Those are stuffed into his boots as he steps barefoot to the water's edge and retrieves that half-full wine bottle. "Walk you back?" he offers casually. If she's agreeable, he'll share what's left of the wine as they go, bumping her shoulder companionably now and then and maybe share an occasional splash of water kicked from the tip of toes as they walk by the water's edge.

Dtirae does not seem so inclined in putting her shoes back on, letting them hang in her hand. Her dress is again, hiked up slightly by the opposite hand. "If you'd like." A smile is given, cheerful and momentarily distant as they begin to walk back. She will not, however, indulge in too much wine. She will splash back and laugh the whole way.

'The World of Pern(tm)' and 'The Dragonriders of Pern(r)' are copyright to Anne McCaffrey (c) l967, 2000. This is a recorded online session, by permission of the author but generated on PernWorld MUSH for the benefit of people unable to attend.