~~*~~ Fort Weyr - Stonehaven Cothold ~~*~~

This cothold is nesteled high up in one of the valleys of Fort's mountain ranges. It has seen much heartbreak in its history, but it is currently going through a rebirth. Construction abounds as the cothold is cleared and readied for inhabitation once more. The main courtyard has been freshly cleaned and the stone walls repaired, new brick paths laid and gardens dug. The tree in the corner still stands but it has been pruned and now sports fresh, new growth, a small, round stone table beneath it being a memorial to those who lost their lives here on that fateful winter's night. Inside things are being cleaned and repaired, new furniture brought in and some of the older pieces being repaired. It is a place of renewal.

Summer rains mean more irrigation for the fields, which are ablaze with life. The crops are doing well and Stonehaven is squeezing as much out of the short growing season as they can. The hold looks well, workers out in the fields and tending the animals beyond that. The courtyard gardens are blooming, plants watered by a pump well that sends water through irrigation channels to each bed. The gates are open, welcoming, though two guards walk the inside wall walkway, alert and enjoying having pulled the day shift despite the rain that still drizzles down. Clouds are moving fast though, and warm sun is not far away.

The gates to Stonehaven's courtyard are open, but D'ani, seeing the hold from a spur on the rough trail that threads the pass, does not aim for it. Rukbat is high and thus the work that sustains Stonehaven goes on in field and barns. As such, that's where D'ani expects to find its holder. Clucking under his tongue, he nudges Kuleana on and descends into the valley. Back at Fort there's someone who's missing the 2-day gone rider. I'm almost there, Dremkoth. Enjoy the sun by the lake and your rest, my friend. Flirt with Kayath and coax her to swim in the lake. D'ani guides Kuleana towards the fields and begins asking after Ezra. Should he keep getting shrugs or headshakes, he'll eventually head for those gates. For now he rides the hold for the day is pleasant, he's not missing his office or the stone walls of Fort and he's interested in seeing how the abandoned hold has flourished.

Ezra moves around a lot, the holder not often sticking to one task. He checks in everywhere. When D'ani rides up, the young holder is out past the stables, holding the lead rope of a runner that's getting a bath. Why is he doing this? Faranth only knows, but he seems happy enough to hold the rope and duck the buckets of water the stablehands are using to wash the flaxen chestnut filly.

It's the sound of hoof beats that heralds the approach of D'ani. But not running ones - not in populated areas where younguns might dart out into his path. Kuleana rounds the corner of an outbuilding and the weyrsecond reins her towards the barn, where he'll inquire- ahh theeeere he is! "Ezra!" D'ani calls across the distance, lifting one arm in greeting and continues towards the holder, pulling the mare up with a grin for his best friend before dark eyes move over the filly, gleaming approval for her. He's dressed roughly, leather legging protectors snapped over his jeans, hide jacket over his cotton shirt, wide-brimmed hat on his head, bedroll and saddlebags behind the saddle, canteen and rope to the front. There's a days worth of stubble on his jaw and some mud on Kuleana's fetlocks, speaking of the two days' travel behind them on trail, but his face is bright his smile warm as he notes, "She's looking great, Ezra."

Ezra looks rather startled to see his best friend ride up, not on a dragon, but a runner. Still, the young Holder grins widely at the sight of him. "D'ani! Hey! Yeah, thanks, she really is." He looks proudly at the filly, rubbing a hand over her muzzle and letting her nudge him affectionately. "So you rode?"

D'ani grins over at Ezra and quips facetiously, "Nah, Kuleana rode. I'm beat." He swings off the mare, loops the reins over her head and retains them in his gloved hand as he steps closer, offering Ezra one of those back-pounding manhugs. "Lookit you, Holder Ezra, you gone and grown six inches since last winter!" It's an obvious exaggeration but the, "Stonehaven's agreeing with you," isn't. And then he'll drop the teasing and answer the previous question, "Aye. We've candidates camping in the forest. Dremkoth can't land amongst the branches, so runnerback is the best way to check on 'em. Thought we'd just keep going, so I took a few days leave and here I am. Ready for the tour of your very own hold." Now that it's no longer desolate and abandoned. Or icy winter.

Ezra snorts with a smirk, shifting his filly's lead to one hand so he can return the manly hug. "Yeah, she is," he agrees, grin wide. "Give me a minute here and I'll be with you? You want one of my stablehands," /his/! Beam! "to take care of Kuleana for you? If not, feel free to help yourself to anything in the barn."

"I'll see how well your stable hands deal," smiles D'ani and so saying leads Kuleana on into the barn where her reins are handed over to whoever's in charge. He lingers, watching and apparently approves, for presently he wanders back outside to stand beside Ezra. "So what'd you name her?" he asks with a nod towards the filly.

By the time D'ani returns, Ezra is done and washing his hands in a bucket of clean water. Watching, with a proud smile, as the filly is brushed to a gleam. Reaching out, he claps D'ani on the shoulder. "Named her Joy." He shrugs. "Seemed fitting…" It's cheesy, but…

Well maybe it is a little cheesy, but D'ani nods approvingly anyway. "'Bout time Stonehaven had some of that." His hands get shoved deep into his pockets as he takes a look around the barnyard, waiting for Ezra to… do whatever holders do when ranking people come a-calling. He's in no hurry, content to just stand and take in the serenity of the place.

Ezra grins. "Come on in, let's get you settled. How long are you staying? Overnight at least?" he asks, gesturing towards those open gates that lead to the inner courtyard. "How's the weyr? Things good? Eggs on the sands, right?"

At the word 'in', D'ani casts a longing look towards those green crops, the rolling pastures and thick woods, but he falls into step with Ezra. He's interested in seeing the inner hold also and so he pass between those gates with a pause to touch the spot Ezra showed him long ago before moving forward. "The Weyr's good. Eggs on the sands, yep. Kayath's got a clutch of nine." He draws a breath, tilting his head to eye the rock cliff ahead and adds, "Overnight would be good. I just needed… to get away for a little bit. So…" So here they are, Kaleana and he - surprise! "How've you been?"

Ezra grins, touching the spot on the gate archway and then the one at the hold door as he opens it and gestures D'ani inside. "Overnight it is!" He sounds excited. He gets to play host. "Glad things are going well at the weyr. Oh." He grins. "Stonehaven's duties of course, to Fort and her queens." He dips in a slight bow while walking to the passthrough to the kitchen. "Want something to eat? Drink? I'll have an ale," he tells the homly looking woman approaching the passthrough, wiping floured hands on her apron. "I've been good. Great, actually," he says with a grin. "I'm /happy/." One guess why, as his eyes move around the hold, brimming with happiness and /life/. "Got other news too. Laurali is holdblood. Rayathess found the records. Shadowacre. It's a cothold on the other side of the mountain range. Lowlands. Isn't that great? She's /holder/." He beams at his friend, excitement in his pale green eyes.

"And to Stonehaven's halls," responds D'ani traditionally before a chuckle escapes his lips at Ezra's excitement. "Water please," he responds to the question but directs it towards the woman with a smile. turning to his friend, he listens, growing a touch perplexed, though he nods and smiles along. Yes, they'd talked awhile back about Laurali and his advice had been for the boy to follow his heart, not to worry about liaisons and marriage for political reasons. "Yeah, Ezra, that's great," he says politely but, still still sincerely. "Is she the one then?"

Ezra takes his ale and then hands D'ani his water gesturing for the two of them to take seats by the fireplace which is empty at the moment. "Maybe? I don't know. I told her I'd court her, but…" Here he looks at D'ani a bit helplessly. "I don't know how? Proper, you know. Like a Holder. I want to do it /right/."

They had this conversation too. D'ani, having taken his water with a grateful murmur for the woman who'd served them, turns with Ezra and heads for that fireplace. He sends the other a quizzical look as he sinks into one of the seats. "I'm not sure there is a 'right' way, Ezra." Sure he had the boy deliver notes to Dtirae back when, but… "You know, every couple is different, you know?"

Ezra sits down and takes a sip of his ale. "But surely there are…things that are typical? Expected? I know every couple is different. I need some ideas. Beyond…jewelry and flowers and things. I'll be taking her out to see her hold soon, when she gets the time off…"

D'ani considers Ezra for a long moment after the question, taking his friend seriously. "There are formalities. Like meeting her parents and requesting permission to court her," he says eventually, slowly. "You have met her parents, right? Because if you haven't, you should." He's ridden a long ways through Fort's forests; he's thirsty. And so he lifts that glass to his lips and swallows a few times. "Her folks will probably invite you to formal dinners and Stonehaven should host them in return. There'll be dances…" So formal.

Ezra clears his throat. "I can skip that step," he murmurs with a slight, very slight smile. "Her mother is dead and her father is in exile with the rest of Laris' men. I don't think Th'ero would appreciate me asking for a ride to the exile's island to meet her father." Nor would he want to, honestly, be face to face with a man who likely held a blade that cut down members of his family. "Formal dinners and dances…hmm."

"Right, I vaguely recall…something to that effect," D'ani murmurs with a grimace. "Does she… have any uncles? Brothers? Someone who she looks to? The 'hall maybe?" Then he shrugs; that'll be up to them to decide. "Mostly though, courting's a matter of getting to know what the other wants and needs. See… with Dei-" He coughs, frowns. He's hardly on nickname terms with the former senior anymore. "Dtirae hadn't ever had formal. Just casual. And most of those weren't very healthy relationships. And her… obsession with work made her into a somber recluse. So she needed light and fun and spontaneity." He scowls down at his water. Everyone knows how wonderfully that worked out. Why's he giving dating advice again? "You should probably…find someone else to ask."

Ezra shakes his head. "She has no family. She has the Hall, yes. Sarah will be the Journeyman posted to Stonehaven that she'll be working under." He quiets then, nodding a bit and silencing himself with his ale as he watches his friend. "She wasn't good enough for you." Did he say that out loud? Yeah…he did. "I don't think Laurali would like big formal affairs. More quiet ones. She's not a fan of crowds or being put on the spot."

"The 'hall will suffice for the formal permission," D'ani assumes. Unless some distant relative pops up to screech breach of protocol later. Then Ezra will just have to flail and cross that bridge when he gets to it. He nods about Laurali's preferences. "What she - and you both - want is important. Just… be yourself and take the time to be with her. It'll work out." In regards to Dtirae, he just grunts ambiguously, frowns and lifts his glass to drain it. Too bad it's just water! But he's got a long ride ahead of him tomorrow morning for which he needs to be alert, so he'll forego alcohol until he's back to the Weyr. Not a word passes his lips about the woman who fled Fort Weyr. Instead he places his now empty glass on a low table with a thunk and rises to his feet, restless. With a gesture towards the outside, he pleads, "Show me your place, Ezra?"

Ezra pushes to his feet and clasps D'ani on the shoulder, giving him a squeeze. He knows. "Love to," he says with a grin. "We'll start in the fields, if you're up for a little hike up to the pastures too?"

Is he ever up to it! Out in the open where others won't overhear and speculate about what Dtirae was to D'ani and why the Weyrwoman scrammed to parts unknown…out where they can talk crops and calves, weather and woodworking (manstuff, y'know), there D'ani'll relax, the tension in his shoulders will ease and he'll smile again. He'll follow Ezra around Stonehaven, perhaps tease his best friend a little about being 'caught' like a fish on a line. He'll earnestly praise his accomplishments and express his pleasure for the young holder's happiness. By the time they've shared camaraderie over a meal that evening, it'll have been a pleasant visit that sadly, cannot be prolonged. He'll take his leave reluctantly the next morning, hitting the trail back to Fort Weyr astride Kuleana with the promise to return soon.