Fort Weyr - Lower Caverns
This volcanic bubble is smaller than the Living Cavern, but no less well crafted. The walls are smooth, with electric lights placed into niches that used to hold glowbaskets. Another hearth burns here, with a pot on always keeping water hot for making tea or cider. Worn but comfortable couches and chairs are arranged by the hearth around a few tables where game boards and a few packages of dragon poker cards are laying.


It's midafternoon at Fort Weyr, and the Weyrhealer and the Steward have been companionably sitting by the hearth, mutually doing paperwork and occasionally conversing. Mirinda is sipping a tea while making notes on a journeyman's surgical reports, Whitethorn curled up at her feet like a smaller-scale guard dog. "I'm giving this one extra points for neatness," she muses to either Zhirayr or herself. This is what their low-key romance looks like, really. Companionable working. When it's not uncompanionable fighting about something like murders or budgets.

"On the handwriting, or on the stitches?" It takes Zhirayr a long moment to reply, a long moment in which he's first finishing reading his own report — having something to do with tuber production, and the fact that the most recent crop was approximately the same by weight as usual, but consisted almost entirely of vast quantities of smaller individual tubers — and then stared at her, replaying what she just said, before speaking. He picks up his inkwell, then looks at it, frowns, sets it down, and reaches across to steal some of her tea.

Ahh, romance.

"Oh, the handwriting, but the suturing was good too," Mirinda concedes, now that he's pointed it out. The tea theft is getting her attention at first, and she starts to snap, "Hey, that was —" before she's cut off by the interruption of a messenger wearing Healer's colors. She is handed a letter closed with a Master's seal, and is left blinking at it as the messenger thanks her and excuses himself. Whitethorn barely stirs at her feet, and Mirinda has to be reminded by a jostle or sound to actually open what she's been given. It looks important. Intimidating.

"Your tea, I know," Zhirayr admits, having left a few sips behind for her — barely — as he shoves the cup back at her. "Mine was empty. Or turned into ink. Either way, not a good drink to try, and are you going to actually open that?" A nudge, with the inkless end of his pen, thus giving her a double prompting to find out what her mail is.

Mirinda lets out a noncommittal, "Don't drink from inkwells," as she gives the letter another empty stare and then pulls a letter opener from her hair (yes, that is exactly what happened) to do exactly as he's prompted. She reads over the brief note, then continues to stare, expressionless, at it — before stealing one of his blank pages and scribbling something quick back, poking Whitethorn with a toe to get her attention.

"I didn't drink from an inkwell," Zhirayr points out. "I stole your tea, instead — and now you're stealing my paper, I was using that," not really, but now he's stealing her note to read it. No objections to abuse of Whitethorn, naturally.

All he has to read is a note that says simply:

I'll be there as soon as I can. Mirinda

before Mirinda steals her note back to attach it to the firelizard and urge her off to Healer Hall. Whitethorn takes a last glance toward her young son, sleeping in Zhirayr's own stuff, before she takes off and blinks between. Oh, and if he took a glance at the original letter, on the much finer paper? That was a summons to the Hall to discuss questions about her reports. No wonder her hand is shaking a little.

"Do you think," Zhirayr muses, pushing the tea gently back to Mirinda and waving at a drudge to bring more at the same time, "that they weren't impressed with your handwriting?" He's trying not to scowl; this is not how he was planning to spend the evening with her. He had plans.

The fact he was planning to spend the evening with her at all might be news to Mirinda; who knows if he actually remembered to tell her? "It's possible," she says, a little frantic, now. "Anyway, I need to — I have to change and tack up Dance." Going on a runner ride in the winter is a great idea, surely. But in this case, it really isn't that far. "I'll see you later?"

"You can get a lift, even though it's hardly anywhere," Zhirayr points out — a minor objection, but it's winter. "I — did you want me to come with you?" How's he supposed to propose if she's gone all night?

Did Mirinda want him to come with her? Oh, probably; she could most certainly use the support. Hopefully other people she knows will be around for her to cry on. "I — think it's probably not the wisest, even if I wouldn't mind," she says honestly. "And I think I'd rather take the ground ride than trouble Tiye or any of the others." Unless one of the healer riders is going anyway, which, as it turns out: they're not. "I promise I'll get in touch when I can. I may be losing my job, or something — can you make sure Tam gets dinner?"

"Of course," an immediate response. He stands, frowning a little, concerned — "Are you sure you don't want me with you? I can't believe you'd be getting fired, though — they know how much you've been doing here. I can't imagine anyone else would do better, here." Zhirayr reaches for her shoulder, pausing her for a moment, letting her have a moment of support before she panics.

"Has nothing to do with what I want," Mirinda says shakily, letting him take that moment to hold her shoulder with hesitant but calming appreciation. Everything still feels tenuous with him, sometimes. "And I think that too, but, but, you never know, really …"

(It wouldn't feel so tenuous if she hadn't been so convinced for so long that he'd killed his predecessor, admittedly.)

"Look, just —" Zhirayr stops, and kisses her forehead. "Whatever happens, you're going to come home and tell me, and then we'll have a glass or two of wine and some dessert, all right? Nothing that they say to you is going to stop that."
Unless they're telling her that she's heading across the planet on an emergency basis, admittedly, but — well, it'll just be a really late dessert, then.

(IT WAS A COUPLE OF MONTHS.)

Mirinda breathes. "Okay," she says, and is kind of nuzzling the underside of his chin a little, "Yes. Okay. I may not be back until morning, it depends on … Well, there might be some sort of incident or …" Something. She just needs to make sure her daughter has dinner, okay? "Make sure Tam eats," she repeats.

"She'll complain if you take a long time, because she isn't going to get dessert until you get back, either," Zhirayr warns.

"Oh, don't do that to me," Mirinda chides, swatting at his arm, and moves to make her escape.

"You'll only be doing it to yourself!" Zhirayr calls after her — and then, pensively, finishes drinking her tea, just before the drudge brings more.

He still has a lot more paperwork to do of his own, after all.


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