Who Mirinda, Zhirayr
What Unexpectedly, Zhirayr made more complex plans for their off day than Mirinda had thought. This is not how she would have done it.
When Autumn 2714
Where The Infirmary and the Mountain Pass


Fort Weyr - Central Infirmary
This room looks fairly similar to most other infirmaries, with it's faint scent of antiseptic and an eerie quiet that goes along with convalescence. Rows of cots line both walls, each separated by a privacy screen. Breaking the line of cots along the outside wall is a entrance to the dragonhealing section of the infirmary. The far end of the oval room is filled with metal cabinets that hold the tools of the Weyrhealers trade, as well as a desk from which the healer can supervise his domain. Upon one wall rests a thick 'chart' containing the information on all patients within the infirmary.

Sometimes, weekends happened, even at Fort Weyr, even for people holding positions of relatively high importance. Sometimes, Zhirayr — as the Steward, who nominally had the ability to arrange at least some people’s schedules to his whims — might ever-so-innocently perform not-quite-corporate espionage when it came to peeking at the infirmary’s schedules in order to ‘coincidentally’ have the same time off as Mirinda. Sometimes, well, he didn’t even bother pretending it was a coincidence, such as on this particular day — when he’d gone so far as to alert Mirinda in advance to the fact that they were both going to have a day off simultaneously, and that he’d been considering maybe they should do ‘something nice’. This is not to say that he warned her they were going to go somewhere, of course, and so it’s probably something of a surprise when he shows up in the infirmary ten minutes before the end of her shift with a large duffel bag, which he stows under an empty bed near the door — ie, out of the way — before approaching her desk with a raised eyebrow and an otherwise nondescript expression.

Mirinda didn't even pack a bag, because she had no idea they were going anywhere, which might bite him in the ass later. Now, though, she just quirks an eyebrow back at him. "Weren't we getting together tomorrow?" she asks with the wary sort of tone that might also be asking if he's here to be seen and is in fact that guy who shows up right before she's trying to leave.

“Well, not exactly,” is Zhirayr’s easy, calm answer, because his giant duffel bag does in fact have things for both of them, because he did actually plan that far ahead. “I’m pretty sure I said we should do something nice, tomorrow — and then I thought, later, that there’s still a fair amount of time this evening to go somewhere else first, so we can have our something-nice-tomorrow be someplace that isn’t here.” Leaning against the side of her desk, with a flicker of a grin that’s mostly in his eyes and more than just a little bit wicked.

At first she thought maybe he was stopping by hoping for an after-dinner booty call, but that is so not Zhirayr. On the other hand, deciding to pack for her and just declaring what they're going to be doing overnight — is. "I have," Mirinda starts to argue, but no, her daughter is nearly sixteen and at Harper Hall right now, so instead she lets the sentence hang in the air for a moment and concludes with a defeated, "… no excuse."

“You could just really not want to,” Zhirayr allowed, the wickedness in his eyes seeping away and replacing itself with puppy-dog hopefulness before her very eyes. “I’m just really hoping that you’re actually a little bit curious about where I’m trying to drag you off to, and why.”

"I figured the why was just because you felt like it," Mirinda answers with a tiny shrug, then pulls herself to standing while shoving things away in drawers. In a neat fashion. Because she is a neat and tidy person who keeps a neat and tidy desk, C'rus. "And the where would be something you would refuse to tell me until we got there because you wanted it to be a surprise. Do I know you too well for your own good at this point or am I actually wrong?"

“The where… no, you’re right about that,” as a rueful grin touches Zhirayr’s lips (and, yes, his eyes), as he watches Mirinda’s ruthless efficiency in putting everything away. “The what, however, I thought I’d let you decide before we leave, between two options. Sound good?”

The eye grin is a gift, and Mirinda knows it, even after many turns. Some of those turns she actually did see him with other women, during that time when she was duty bound to accuse him of murder and all that. "I think I can work with that."

“Okay. Good. So!” Up from his lean on her desk Zhirayr hops, hands extended to frame these two notions, the better to present them to her. “Option one: we catch a lift, head up to the mountains — I reserved the cabin — and we have a nice quiet getaway, maybe with some professional music provided.”

"The cabin. Fort's cabin?" The Weyr might have had a series of nice cabins, for all Mirinda knew, but there is only one that she's actually seen before. Went up there for a weyrling celebration of some sort once, or … something along those lines. She's never slept in that mountain pass cottage, so she looks intrigued. "That sounds lovely." It's a soft smile, tender, one that's especially intimate for a man who likes to be as over the top as possible at times. Or maybe that's just how he naturally is without trying. "But there are supposed to be two options? What can top that?" It sounds quiet, which isn't something that happens much.

“Well.” Zhirayr’s eyes are smiling, but it’s a lot more nervous than the one before, as those outspread hands reach a little bit further to catch hers. “All of that, but we get hitched, too. We can have that professional music-maker help.”

"… Say what now?" Mirinda just stares at him, though he must be serious because he seems mildly uncomfortable. And it's nearly impossible to rattle him. If that's a proposal, though, it's a disappointingly unromantic one and he is going to have to try harder.

“We run off to the mountains and get married by your sister?” Zhirayr tries, desperately attempting to read her mood through her expression. Spoiler: currently failing.

Her mood is bewildered, though definitely very surprised; Mirinda is a little bit lost here. Especially the part where this is his 'romantic' proposal after over five turns (hasn't it been closer to a decade, now? counting the offs, they've been on and off a long time) and apparently her sister was in on it. "My sister?" she echoes, confused. "My sister agreed to this?" Daina probably included that he had to propose in a way that wasn't ridiculous, though she didn't rule out hastiness. She didn't know she had to.

“She… knows that she might or might not actually be performing a ceremony,” Zhirayr allows, trying not to let himself start backpeddling… yet. (Mirinda doesn’t seem pleased. Wasn’t she supposed to be pleased that he was proposing, finally?) “I was kind of hoping you’d be interested in making this more… permanent, official, even if it isn’t exactly broadcasting to the entire Weyr that you’ve definitely, absolutely, once-and-for-all put behind you the thought I murdered my predecessor…”

Mirinda snorts. "That was turns ago. I think we're the only people who even remember." Well, and Nyalle, Th'ero and Inri … but you'd likely have to trigger that memory first. Fort has had enough other disasters. "I mean, of course I am, interested that is, it's just the methodology here is a little … sudden, haphazard, not letting me plan a wedding," though didn't she already have a big wedding and we see how well that marriage went? "and without much in the way of emotional persuasion." Except for the hand-holding, which is nice! Nobody's staring, either, also nice.

“I don’t know how much planning I’d even really want,” Zhirayr admits, his nerves not remotely settling down. “I mean. I plan things around here all the time, it kind of — would detract, I think, from just wanting something that was you, and me, and — well, us? And I suppose your sister being involved, too. I didn’t even tell my sister.” Also a Harper. “I just — wanted this. With you.”

He was getting flustered so that was winning him points in Mirinda's book, anyway. "My sister will probably tell your sister, if she hasn't already," just pointing that one out. "Warning me would probably have gone over better but also would've taken something from the experience, I'm sure — actually ask me, and you'll get an answer, then."

Is that — oh. That’s it? That’s what he’s missing? Hope comes flooding back into Zhirayr’s eyes so really it’s a good thing he’s already in the infirmary at this point, and he impetuously tugs one of Mirinda’s already-captured hands up to his lips for a kiss to her knuckles. “Mirinda,” which comes out slightly huskier than even Zhirayr is expecting, “will you run off to the mountains with me so we can get married?”

At least he's not kneeling, because that might get a 'no' out of Mirinda just because of how uncharacteristic it is! The rest is much more believable, and while it is still missing the romantic speech — her first husband also left out a romantic speech — she smiles softly, nods her head once and says, "I guess," now desperately trying to keep a straight face.

And now Zhirayr’s face is split open by a grin see, again, that this is the infirmary, but no as his hand on her hand turns into a grab-Mirinda-and-run-for-the-door, more or less, given that she’s still on the wrong side of her desk and he has to grab that duffel bag from beneath that bed near the door — but hey, close enough? “Let’s hurry, before someone tries to interrupt us,” is the last thing he says before they’ve managed to escape the infirmary, chased by her helpless laughter.

Fort Weyr - Mountain Pass - Snowbound Cottage
Upon entering, one is greeted with a broad, wide and open room of wood and stone. High ceilings allow for more illusion of space, the rafters above arranged in an almost artful and tasteful way to accentuate the shape and layout of the room. Large windows have been set into the wall facing the mountains and lake below and high above closer to the ceilings, allowing much of the natural light to fill the room. For nightfall, there are several hanging fixtures of metal rings, each capable of holding several clear containers of glows, along with several alcoves set into the walls within easy reach, leaving any guests capable to adjust how much or little glow-light they prefer. The rest of the decor is simple and rustic, with some of the wall space taken up by a few small paintings of Fortian or northern landscapes.
A large stone fireplace lines the other wall, the mantel decorated with a few tasteful pieces of pottery, the vases holding no flowers save for those placed there by visitors in the warmer seasons. Around the fireplace three low couches have been arranged around each other with various sized pillows arranged for even more cozy comfort. A large woven rug is spread out on the floor and an equally low but dark wood table rests on top of it, perfectly placed for easy access.
One one side of the wall where the fireplace rests, a small archway leads to a winding wooden staircase that leads to the private upstairs rooms and the balcony that overlooks the room below from the long hallway. The other side also boasts an archway, but it leads to another short hallway that opens up to a full kitchen, capable of keeping food and drink cool and a small stove for preparing meals. The cabinets are fully stocked as well with dishes, utensils and cookware.
Back towards those large mountain facing windows is an almost invisible wooden door. Even its smaller glass windows look to be part of the design, allowing it to blend in so craftily. If one opens it though, it leads out the large and covered raised patio outside. Another staircase leads to the underside of the patio, where another sitting area is arranged for those wishing to enjoy the outdoors and the fire pit not too far away.

All in all, it’s a nice ceremony, for all that it’s just the two of them and Mirinda’s sister doing the paperwork, and the whole thing takes little enough time that the dragon and rider who brought them up doesn’t even get the chance to be bored before it’s time to give Daina a ride back down the mountain. And then, well, it’s just Zhirayr and Mirinda and some food and a duffel bag that hasn’t been unpacked, and they’re both still wearing the clothing they’ve been wearing all day, and he’s looking at her about as besotted as he’s ever been capable of looking at anyone. “Hi,” he says, therefore proving he’s incredibly intelligent.

"Hi," says Mirinda, who is admittedly a little annoyed that Zhirayr didn't think to pack anything formal. For either of them. But if she'd known, she would have made sure there would be something — if she'd known, there probably would have been a big wedding, which is what he didn't want. But this is fine! This is nice, now, the stupid smitten smile is very nice. She dollops a bit of cake frosting onto his nose with her finger.

(Daina, of course, gets substantially more credit, as the one who remembered to bring some form of cake, and frosting.)

“I’ve never been married before,” Zhirayr admits — not that this is some sort of secret, by any means, they’ve surely gone over this before — “so I could be wrong, but — I think I was supposed to make sure there was some sort of fancy undergarments for this?”

"… that is a popular trend," says Mirinda weakly, not entirely sure where he might be going with this. Also not having a lot of faith in Zhirayr's ability to shop for fancy undergarments, or what he considers fancy. Besides that it's almost definitely black. She does not own black underwear. Yet, apparently.

Or so she thinks. “I wasn’t entirely sure,” Zhirayr admits, “who it was supposed to be for — both in terms of who was supposed to enjoy it the most, and who was supposed to wear it — so, well, I figured we could both have something.” In black, of course, but — well, it’s silky and sheer and they’re definitely both going to enjoy it, right? As soon as they figure out who’s supposed to go into which room to change, or give up on the whole idea as ridiculous and just go to bed. One of those.

"I'm pretty sure that is supposed to be both, on both counts," Mirinda still sounds a bit weak and doubtful. "Though I'm also not sure about fancy underthings for men, in general?" She has never shopped for men’s underwear, and while she has been married before, that wasn't part of the equation.

“Let me know your opinion, I guess,” is all Zhirayr can come up with — before digging through the duffel bag, finding the neatly-wrapped-in-additional-fabric-that-is-NOT-black package for her, and presenting it with a hopeful face. (He’ll end up changing in the bathroom.)

The fancy undergarments went over well enough for all involved that Mirinda is still wearing the garters (and nothing else) when she wakes up in the morning, at oh-no-it's-sunrise-o'clock … though at least they both have up-early jobs with bodies that aren't always the best at understanding that it's break time. Mirinda yawns, and shuffles further backward to be pressed entirely against Zhirayr's chest instead of just having the backs of her (finally not cold) feet touching his legs. "Sheets are still really nice," she murmurs.

“Hnnf? Mmmph,” Zhirayr agrees, half awake at best — sure, it’s sunrise, but the light isn’t coming in, at least not directly, and there was a measure of, ahem, exertion the night before. Which her position is most certainly reminding various other body parts about, which may or may not have been quite what she’d intended; his underthings are currently missing in action after valiant service, possibly existing in the form of a shadowy puddle under some item of furniture or another. Zhirayr’s arm tightens around Mirinda’s waist, pulling her closer and ensuring she’s aware that she’s reminding him of last night. “G’morning,” he mumbles, and kisses the back of her neck.

It's still a strange concept, fancy underthings for men. But now it's a concept that Mirinda can visualize, whether she likes it or not (she probably likes it, but only on this particular man). Her intent was definitely not that particular awareness, but she does smile to herself a little more when reminded of it anyway. "Hi," she whispers again, reminiscent of the earlier part of the night before. "Always a little different, isn't it, when you're married." Sayeth the voice of experience, though that ended fast in her first marriage.

“I wouldn’t know about always,” Zhirayr points out, nuzzling his nose against that little bit of sticky-outy bone at the back of her neck. “We went over me not having this particular experience before, didn’t we? Before — well, in the middle of changing, maybe. Things.” Vague. Things changed. They got married. They also changed their clothes, and then changed back out of them. His memory is remarkably clear for something so hazy and blurry, really.

"Are you perceiving any differentness?" Mirinda asks, trying not to give into the urge to lean backward further and try to do something like look at him when his face is there. Against the back of her neck. She does not bend that way. "From, I mean, the last time we had sex? Besides the location and how smooth the sheets are." Zhirayr probably picked those sheets.

(Zhirayr would like to point out that it’s weird to go have Wedding Night Sex on someone else’s sheets, thank you very much, and the really impressive thing is that the sheets are not black, along with the fact that — ) “I’m glad you like them, because they’re ours,” is the drowsy mumble into the back of her … shoulder, this time, he’s shifted his head a little. “When we leave we can take ‘em with us. And… I dunno, it seemed a little more intense,” he considered, his hands apparently more awake than his voice, judging by the wandering and consideration they, too, are giving to the… subject. And its curves, especially the ones in front, near the edge of the sheet. “Some of that might have been because we’re isolated, and nobody’s going to come make us work on our day off, so we can take as long as we like about… things.”

"Ours," Mirinda repeats, and then it dawns on her: "We'll have to move." Zhirayr's quarters are likely far more substantial, dare she even say palatial, than hers … though perhaps it's also possible that they'll be able to be upgraded to an even nicer cavern, as a family. As the Steward and the Weyrhealer but as a family. "Or one of us will. Or maybe both of us. Or — distract me," she concludes solemnly. They're supposed to be being peaceful here. Not being worried about moving. Substantially more focusing on the gentle touch and the nice sheets.

Tweak. Grope. Et cetera. A chuckle, smothered against Mirinda’s shoulder. “That’s something that happens to some people when they get married, yeah,” Zhirayr admits, as one hand drops to her hip to give it a tug. “Usually it’s something good, at the time — anyway, it’s not like we’re in a hurry.” With moving. Or… moving, maybe, except he’s definitely got some sort of moving more urgently in mind, judging by those grabby hands.

"We're not? I am," Mirinda sounds like she's about to say that she's in a hurry, but the cant of her voice indicates she's saying she is something but hasn't concluded just what it is yet. Instead of finishing the point, she lets his grabby-hands grab to their heart's content, and eventually gets rather mouthy herself in ways that don't involve talking, and it's probably thirty minutes later when she says, "Hungry," like he remembers she cut herself off in the first place.

“Again?” comes out in a rather plaintive voice, as if Zhirayr can’t believe she isn’t satisfied — and then his stomach rumbles, too, and after a moment of startled silence he can’t help but laugh. “Oh. Oh. Yeah, I — did you want breakfast in bed, did you want to watch me make breakfast, did you want to make it yourself, some combination of those…?”

The Weyrhealer looks confused for a moment, squinting at Zhirayr — squinting at her husband — as if there's something she can't recall. "You — make breakfast? Yourself? I don't think I've ever seen you cook." It's not that she thinks he can't, it's just that Mirinda always assumed he'd prefer not to.

It’s Zhirayr’s turn to sound a little bit dubious, here, although his gaze is fixed on scanning through his memories, and not on Mirinda. “I… think you’re right,” comes out slowly. “I don’t think you’ve ever seen me cook. Probably largely because I almost only ever end up cooking either when I’m too tired to walk to the living cavern but need to eat something before sleeping so I don’t feel worse when I wake up, or when enough of the cooks are indisposed that there won’t be enough food for everyone else in the Weyr if I don’t step in and cook, and neither one is particularly prone to inviting observers — I can cook, though. You might have even eaten something I’ve made before.”

"And … your living space is big enough and equipped enough you can cook in it," Mirinda states blandly, this being a statement of the obvious but also a little continuously incredulous. She's been there plenty of times, but she's often surprised at the space he has for one person, when her space for two as Weyrhealer is as yet a bit smaller. "Plus your bath, of course. But I think I've had some … sauce you made before?" She scoots forward a little bit to kiss the tip of his nose, then, "Go make food."

“Allow me to astonish and surprise you, then,” Zhirayr says — substantially more dryly, now. And sticks his tongue out at her, just a little, as she pulls back, before stealing a kiss that’s an actual-mutual-kiss, briefly. (It isn’t as if there’s a full kitchen in his quarters, anyway. He doesn’t have an oven, for example!) “With… whatever’s here to eat, anyway.” He does get at least partially dressed before heading into the cabin’s kitchen to figure out what’s available; if nothing else, the floors are cold enough it’s worth putting slippers on, so that cold feet (the morning after a wedding, no less!) aren’t a distraction from more pleasant displays. Such as, for instance, figuring out if whoever’s wearing the apron bothered to put anything else on under it, other than the slippers in question.

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