Fort Weyr Region - 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.

A late season snow settled over Stonehaven during the night, and Ezra decides to give his four workers a day off. They've been working for ten says straight, and everyone deserves a break. So while the workers are in the weyr sleeping and staying warm, Ezra caught a ride to the cothold with a dragonrider friend and is now alone, feeding the animals in the newly refinished barn. In here it's warm, despite the cold outside, the sharp wind bringing flurries of stinging flakes broken by faint sunlight, only to close off again as another flurry settles. While the very pregnant Zoi rests in the aisle, Ezra moves forkfuls of hay into the feed troughs of each of the four milk beasts, the morning milk already sitting in buckets, ready to be strained, cream separated, and taken back to the weyr as part of Ezra's payment.

Rayathess has had to pull a few strings and maybe, despite his pride, begged a little in order to get another day off but he's managed to do so! And as unusual as the snows are this late in the season (though perhaps not so high up in the mountains), he'll ride in on his runner stallion and his arrival will be announced by his firelizards who fly ahead and into the refinished barn. Bronze, brown and green come to settle on the rafters with a few chirps and chitters. Ezra should know them by sight now, at the very least Gren - the brown - would be. Rayathess will be only a few minutes behind as he leads the stallion behind him, shoulders hunched against the sharp winds and cold. He's dressed in thicker traveling gear and his Harper apprentice knot is pinned to his shoulder beneath the cloak he wears. "Ezra," he greets, forgoing formality. He's family after all! "Not a bad time? Where can I put him?" He means the runner, of course.

Ezra looks up in startled surprise when the firelizards swoop in, his trio of gold, bronze and brown chirping greetings in return, though Stone, ever unpleasant, zips out to sulk somewhere. "Rayathess?" he calls, turning with a forkful of hay poised at waist height. "What're you doing back so soon?" He's not upset, just confused and a little bit concerned. "Is something wrong? That stall there," he says, nodding to the one the runner vacated not two days ago. "Hay is there, even have some oats if he wants it. I'll put some straw down in a sec, when I'm done feeding these four."

"Nothing is wrong. I just wanted to visit again," Rayathess admits with a shrug of his shoulders and offering his brother a reassuring smile. "Thanks. I can pay you back for the feed. No rush either about the straw," he goes on to add as he leads the stallion into the stall and after slipping off his travelling cloak, he begins to untack the runner and rub him down. He's very fond and possessive of the animal and it shows. Though he works swiftly, he is cautious and careful. "Saw the buckets. Not interrupting your chores, am I? And where are your workers?" Maybe he's noticed their lack of presence on the ride in.

Ezra snorts as he goes back for more hay. "You're family, I'm not going to charge you a boarding fee," he says, scoffing at the very idea. "I kept them at the weyr today. Wanted to spend some time here on my own. Think and plan a bit before we move to the next project." Ezra needs quiet time to think - he's not a man to think real well on his feet, or make swift decisions. Especially not when Stonehaven is involved.

Rayathess opens his mouth to protest but only grunts as he's nudged in the shoulder by the stallion's muzzle. Swatting at it gently, he'll go about finding some oats and hay and sees that the runner is comfortably fed and watered, leaving it for Ezra to lay down the straw. Setting his saddle and bridle nearby, Rayathess dusts off his hands. "Why? Because of the snow?" he murmurs and then nods his head in understanding. "Ahh, yes. That'd make sense. You didn't seem to have too much peace the last time I swung by to visit." he murmurs. "What is your next project?"

Ezra tosses a towel to Rayathess for him to wipe down his tack, shaking out a bale of straw into the stallion's stall and leaving it to the runner to put it as he sees fit. "Yeah, and I wanted this time to think." He gives his brother a warm smile though, as if to reassure him that he's still glad he showed up. "That I'm not sure about. We've got the interior gutted, and everything is sound and secure. Did the barn…next might be the low barn, or a few of the pasture shelters. Or maybe we start working on the interior. I just…" He grimaces a bit. "Not quite yet ready to move in." So he might be leaving the hardest - for him - till last.

Rayathess catches that towel and crouches down to begin wiping down his runner's tack. The stallion will eye Ezra curiously when he straw is brought in and even before the stall door is closed and latched, the runner is pawing and nosing it all over the place. He'll probably roll in it too before settling to munch contentedly on his oats and hay. Ahh, perfect! "You've done a lot of work in such a short span," Rayathess says by way of praise and probably not for the first time to his brother. When Ezra grimaces, Rayathess frowns and done with wiping down the tack he will step closer to his brother's side. "That will take time," he says quietly. "And you shouldn't feel rushed to take that step. Have you begun lining up families or folk for the hold?" Hard though it may be, it may not be as bad if there are other souls about.

Ezra shakes his head. "No, I haven't done that yet, but I should get started finding folks to move here. Another family or two. But that's a ways away, nothing inside is finished." When Rayathess steps closer, Ezra smiles up at him - a rare, relaxed and almost childish grin before he gives his brother a shoulder bump. The days of holding hands are long gone, but a desire for contact still lingers. "What to come inside? The kitchen is almost done at least. We just fixed the existing cabinets…" Their mother would have been pleased. Those cabinets were brought all the way from Nabol and installed by their father.

Rayathess nods his head again, in agreement this time as he gives Ezra a long look. That smile makes him at ease and he laughs softly at the shoulder bump and is swift to return it. It's rare that the young man can unwind and he's likely still working on the whole 'friendship' thing back at the Hall. "Of course," he says to the offer to come inside, giving his brother an odd look. Where else would they go? Yet even he hesitates for a breath. He hasn't been inside all that much and while he may not have a fit like he did when Ezra and D'ani brought him here well… who knows? "Completely new or just restored them?" he asks, motioning for Ezra to lead the way.

"Restored," Ezra answers. "A lot of it is restored, but it's a slow process. Take everything out and then clean, paint, and put everything back. Everything I want to keep. Repairs…we've got a lot of new stuff but some of it was salvaged." Like their parents' enormous bed. Which will soon be Ezra's, as soon as he can bring himself to stay here without being plagued by nightmares. Closing the door to the barn, he hunches his shoulders and flips up the hood on his jacket, trudging across the bare space, through the tall iron gate into the newly finished courtyard, and up to the main entrance. Touching the stone by the door, the key flicks in the lock and he opens the door, stepping inside with a shiver. "I'll lay a fire."

Rayathess looks almost curious when Ezra mentions that much of the original hold was restored rather than replaced but he does not press his brother further. If they have toured before, it could be that he didn't really focus on the rooms. He has his own nightmares and demons to battle every time he steps through the door. Rayathess grits his teeth against the cold, having left his cloak by his tack. His jacket will be enough for the short trip and just as though nothing has changed he too will touch the stone by the door before entering. "Alright," Rayathess murmurs, shivering and brushing off any of the snow that has clung to his boots or jacket on the walk over. "So is this all you've been up too of late, Ezra? And I happened to notice Zoi is pregnant. When is she due for pups?"

Ezra is swift to move down the hallway and turn left into the kitchen, which is large but low ceilinged, the few windows closed against the cold. The large hearth looks much the same as it did before, though a few stones have been replaced. Crouching, Ezra lights a fire and puts on a kettle to warm. "Mostly," he admits. "Now that Harper lessons are mostly finished, this is what I've been doing. And yeah, she is. Another month or so. Interested in a pup?" he asks, grinning at his brother. "An exchange for maybe using your stallion as a stud when I get my mares up here soon?"

Rayathess follows along and tries not to look further down the hallway. He knows where everything is and should be and a few memories threaten to surface only to be shoved deep down and locked away. Stepping into the kitchen, he will approach the cabinets first, not so much to inspect but to see first hand some of the restoring work. He snorts, "Kind of ironic how your Harper lessons are mostly finished and mine have just begun," In a completely different sense. "Dunno, Ezra. Not sure if they'll allow me to keep a canine, let alone a pup. I could keep an ear out though and see if anyone else may be in need of one?" Grinning back, Rayathess just shrugs his shoulders. "No payment needed if you want my runner for stud. Might do him some good to go to pasture and breed. Damn thing has been frisky as a proddy green of late." Ahh, springtime!

Ezra laughs, "Yeah, I guess that is kind of ironic. Well you were always better at them than I was anyway," the teen says, shrugging his shoulders a bit as he gets out some bread and some cheeses, all cold but relatively fresh. "Shards, I forgot the milk. Be right back," he says. "And I'll take you up on that breeding offer." Then he's gone, leaving Rayathess alone in the room.

Rayathess rolls his eyes, "You would be too if you had focused!" he drawls teasingly. Though it's true, the elder Stonehaven brother always seemed to grasp the lessons far more easily and with eagerness. Once the bread and cheese is brought out, Rayathess won't be shy in helping himself to some, only to pause and blink. "Want some help?" he asks, smiling crookedly when the offer for breeding is more or less accepted. Bread and cheese in hand, he's about to add more but Ezra is already gone. Snorting, he glances about the kitchen again as he takes a few bites of food and before he's even aware of what he's doing Rayathess has stepped back into the hallway. He should go back into the kitchen and he even glances that way, frowning. Instead, his feet take him forwards and he disappears down deeper into the hold.

The main hallway lengthens, evidence of recent work apparent in a tool bucket against one wall and fresh glows laid in their baskets in the recessed nooks along the wall. Doors begin, then. The master bedroom. Ezra's room. Anrila's. Rayathess'. Another tunnel leading deeper into the hold. To the store caverns, beyond to link up with the mine entrances further along the mountain. The bathrooms. All familiar, and yet all eerie, no longer echoing with voices raised in happy times or shouting and screaming in terror. The Hold is quiet.

Rayathess is thankful for the glows though if they hadn't been there, he would have turned around. It nags at him, as though he feels like a trespasser walking down that lengthening hallway. He continues on though as if drawn, past those doors and each familiar. Each with their own memories: good and bad. His progress comes to a slow, wavering stop once he's reached the store caverns. No need to go further, though his head turns to the right. It wasn't far from where he stands now that he made that panicked decision to grab his two younger siblings and dash for that back exit. Only he never thought to look behind his shoulder… Rayathess shivers and blinks his eyes as though to clear his head and thoughts, grunting a bit in surprise to find himself so deep in Stonehaven. The quiet weighs down on him, making his ears ache with the emptiness of it.

Ezra's voice echoes in the tunnel, the emotion of it lost with each bouncing sound wave. "Rayathess?" The jingle of Zoi's collar is not far off either, as she trots along the tunnel without fear, sniffing for the wayward Harper.

Rayathess whistles a simple two-toned call only to realize too late that he's not in the Hall and he's not being called on to report or being tested to see if he remembers the codes. Whoops. "I'm alright," he calls and begins to walk back towards the sound of Zoi's collar jingling.

Ezra meets Rayathess part way down the hallway, outside one of the doors. "You okay?" Ezra asks quietly, rubbing his hands together after being out in the cold. It's clear he's not talking about physically okay, either, as he glances around and then back at his older brother.

Rayathess didn't think for a second Ezra was asking after his physical well being. "I'm fine. Sorry, I didn't mean to worry you. I just… I don't know why I wandered off." he mutters, chafing his hands together and then forcing them apart to rest by his sides. "Didn't worry you too much, did I?" he asks, apologetic both in look and tone.

Ezra shakes his head quickly. "No, it didn't worry me, just didn't know where you were." Okay, so maybe he was a little worried because of his issues, but not terribly so. "You're welcome to wander, Raya," he murmurs. "This is your home too."

Rayathess quirks a brow and before he can stop himself the words are crossed his lips. "It was my home. It's your hold now." As if that makes a difference! He steps past Ezra then, making his way slowly back towards the kitchen. "So have you figured out your exports then for tithe and trade?" he asks, fishing for easier and lighter topics of conversation.

Ezra frowns as he turns to follow Rayathess, his hand absently caressing Zoi's head. "It's still your home," he says quietly. "You're coming back here." Right? "Cut stone and stone and wood crafting materials," he answers. "Nothing Craft stamped but still quality. Wool from our beasts, so likely wool goods as well."

"That hasn't changed," Rayathess assures Ezra as he steps back into the kitchen and helps himself to a little more cheese and bread. "It will just be several Turns before I see a Journeyman's knot." he murmurs with a smirk, only to listen in silence as Ezra lists off the planned exports. He nods his head in agreement, looking rather impressed. "You'll have runners too, if you were serious about bringing the mares up. Every healthy foal will likely be snapped up if you find the right bidders."

Ezra nods, "Well yeah, I know," he says, taking a towel and pulling the kettle off the fire, pouring them both a mug of tea. No klah, looks like. Not yet. "That too," he agrees with a nod. "Should make some fine foals, with your stallion. Work runners, sturdy." Pulling out a rough wooden stool, he sits in it at the high work table in the center of the kitchen, elbows on the table. "Keep an eye out for any girls you think I might like, yeah?"

Rayathess doesn't seem to have anything against a mug of tea and murmurs a low thank you to Ezra as he too takes a seat at the table with the mug held between his hands to absorb the warmth from it. "He's a good tempered beast and it'd be interesting to see what offspring he throws. Especially if they prove to be of help to you here or valuable." Either is a win-win situation! He then laughs, giving Ezra a funny look. "So that's how it is, huh? Am I to be offering you as stud to all available women I cross paths?" he remarks dryly. Really? Ezra should remember, this is Rayathess he's talking to. The one girl he was 'sweet' on shot him in the foot!

Ezra blushes darkly at Rayathess comparing him to his stallion, coughing and shaking his head. "I need a wife, Rayathess," he murmurs. "Eventually. Not now, but…doesn't hurt to be looking." Is it possible the teen is feeling rather lonely gazing around his empty cothold?

Rayathess does not look the least bit apologetic for using such a reference. "Aren't you a bit young to be considering marriage already?" he murmurs, giving his brother a frank look only to smile softly. "No, I suppose it doesn't hurt to look but to be honest… if I were you I'd focus on the cothold for now. The suitors will follow. Once it's official that you've rebuilt and are prospering, I don't doubt you'll have other cothold families lining up all their daughters for you to choose." And for a moment, he sounds almost envious.

Ezra shakes his head a little bit, exhaling into his mug before he takes a sip. "I'd rather find a wife while there's still hard work to be done," he murmurs. "Someone who does not show up just because I'm prospering. There is time, yes, but…I am looking for someone."

Rayathess scoffs. "What, you think that once the hold is done it's just going to be easy living? Shards, Ezra… the hard work really begins when you try to keep Stonehaven prospering!" he drawls, lifting the mug to his lips and taking a careful sip. He then keeps his gaze on his brother for a long, long time before finally looking away. "I'm probably the worst person to ask for help in these matters, Ezra. All I can say is that you may find someone in the families that join you or back at the Weyr or in a neighbouring cothold. Beyond that… I don't know."

Ezra shakes his head firmly, frowning at his brother. "That's not what I meant. Right now I have nothing but stone walls and some ideas. I want a woman to marry /me/. Not Stonehaven." Then he shrugs, sipping his tea. "Time will tell."

Rayathess frowns right back. "You're too smart to let a girl like that get to you, Ezra. Usually it's pretty damn obvious when a girl is after your title and riches." he says with a surprising amount of bitterness before he lifts his mug again. When he lowers it, his expression is neutral again. "Mhm. Time will tell."

Ezra lifts his brows at his brother in quiet and mild surprise. "Is it?" he asks, carefully. He wants more details.

Rayathess seems to shrink in on himself and it should be evident enough then that he may not part easily with more details. "It is, especially when you know what to look out for. And you're already on your guard so… not likely some girl sniffing for marks and wealth is going to get by." he mutters.

Ezra is still going to press until his brother tells him flat out he's not talking about it. "Did a girl try and court you like that?"

Is it a battle to see who is the most stubborn? Rayathess is certainly digging in his heels, though he flashes Ezra a narrowed look. Not out of anger, but because he's startled and ashamed. So busted! His lips press into a tight line and his hand grips his mug so fiercely for a moment it's probably a good thing it's a sturdy object. Then in the next breath, he relaxes again and is collected. "Maybe." he admits reluctantly.

Ezra looks around and then back at his brother, his eyes bright with curiosity. "Who? When was this?" he asks, leaning forward eagerly. He wants to hear!

Rayathess doesn't look nearly as thrilled to be sharing the gritty details of his failed relationships, even with his brother. He looks uncomfortable and embarrassed, but seeing Ezra so curious and eager has him thawing eventually. With a gusty sigh, he relents. "You know her, Ezra. She shot me, remember?" Purely by accident. "It was Lyreh. Though I don't know if she really was after me for my title. Since I never told her the truth to start, y'know?" he admits with a shrug. "Can't really fault her when I wasn't exactly honest with her. Not that the truth kept her…" With him. Rayathess falters and just goes awkwardly silent. No more talking about it, okay?

Ezra ohs, shaking his head a bit. "I thought you meant someone /before/. When you were still heir. She wasn't after you for your title. You never told her. That's different." Then the teen pauses, thinking for a moment before he asks, "have you heard from her?"

Rayathess laughs. "From before? Like dad allowed me enough free time to go chase skirts! I had my mind on other things then." And then things all fell apart. He shrugs his shoulders. "That's why I said maybe. Still. It wasn't me she was interested in, but the alter ego I fabricated to save my hide." Ouch. Shaking his head, he glances sidelong to Ezra and his expression is grim. "No. I've seen her though. Healer Hall. Not sure if she's just a worker there or an actual Apprentice. The moment she saw me, she evaded me and disappeared." Which he's taken as a 'don't bother' sign.

Ezra shrugs a bit, smirking as he glances around the kitchen. "We had visitors, I don't know, maybe you had a fling with one of them or something…" Looking back at his brother, Ezra's expression sobers quite a bit. "You'll find someone who wants /you/," he says with a quiet but solid confidence. He hesitates for a moment and then asks, "Do…can you still…play…him?" he asks, hesitating only so he can formulate his words properly. "Your alter ego? Is he still in you?"

Rayathess blushes darkly now and just… coughs. Flings? His brow quirks up and then he's looking away. Surely the man isn't… Nah, couldn't be. Could it? "I had to be on my best behaviour with visitors, Ezra. And it's generally frowned upon for a heir to deflower another holder's daughters." he remarks dryly and with some honest sarcasm. Again, he looks a touch surprised by his brother's solid confidence and instantly he is on the defensive. "Nice of you to say, Ezra but I think you stand a better chance at that." Since Rayathess is still convinced he is broken. Whole enough to function and make a decent enough Harper but deep down? Broken. What he wasn't expecting is what Ezra asks next and he starts, eyeing him with a sharp look. He wavers on saying anything and in the end he speaks in the quietest voice possible. "Yes. And Ezra?" Now his voice firms and his eyes harden. "You don't want to ever meet him. Don't ask me to."

Ezra rolls his eyes. "I didn't mean have /sex/ with them. Just…romantic…stuff. I don't know." Ezra is such a romantic at heart. "Take them on walks, talk about stuff." The teen shrugs, swirling the dregs of his tea and refraining from taking another sip. "We'll both find someone eventually." But not Anrila. She has to stay at home, safe and pure, forever and ever. Lifting his eyes, he meets Rayathess' gaze without flinching or looking away, and he nods. "Don't want to. I like having /you/ back," he says softly.

Rayathess is baffled and confused. Romantic… stuff? "Isn't that what leads to sex?" Right? Ezra is the romantic. Rayathess is not or he was and just has forgotten about it. He wrinkles his nose playfully at his brother, trying not to laugh. Mushy gushy stuff! Yet who's acting like the child? Nope, Anrila will go inside a protective glass box. Forever pure! Rayathess hasn't even begun to THINK of what will come to pass when their younger sister matures. Ooh, male suitors beware! "I like being myself again too," Rayathess admits and with relief. For a moment he was concerned Ezra would be too curious and ask him to venture into things he's not ready to face. Neither of them are ready to face it.

Ezra /is/ curious but he knows it's not the time. And it might never be the time. And he's okay with that. "It doesn't always lead to sex! Sometimes it's just…talking and picnics and sunsets and stuff." Cough. "Are you a virgin?"

No, it's not the time right now but one day Rayathess will have to talk about it. One day it's going to come around and bite him hard and then he will call for Ezra or just show up and talk and he will have to hear things that may very well give HIM nightmares. Not now though and Rayathess just eyes his brother with another confused look. "So… courting then?" he murmurs, only to blush furiously and drop his gaze. Now he looks uncomfortable again, but his behaviour is too obvious for him NOT to say something. "Yes." he admits quietly and then seems to brace himself. Go ahead and laugh!

Ezra will be there, ready, when his brother calls for him. "I guess it's courting, yeah," he says with a shrug. "Fling was the wrong word maybe?" Tilting his head, Ezra nods slightly, swirling what's left in his tea cup. "Me too," he murmurs.

Would it be harsh for Rayathess to say he didn't doubt for a second Ezra was a virgin? He somehow thinks that'd be quite cruel and so keeps his mouth shut. Instead, he only gives his brother a sympathetic look. Sucks, doesn't it? Yet something nags at him, "How…? I mean. A Weyr full of girls and — and the gold flights?" Common! Something had to have happened with that? Never mind that Rayathess is proof that that doesn't always work.

Ezra shakes his head and shrugs. "It almost happened a few times, but I always stopped. I don't know. Just…didn't feel right. Then once word got around that I wasn't…/doing/ anything, the girls stopped asking, I guess." There's another shrug as he stares into his tea mug.

Rayathess grimaces and makes a sound in his throat that is almost disgruntled, but when he makes himself look up to his brother his eyes flash with something close to being impressed and proud. "You've a good deal of restraint. And the girls are missing out then. Maybe it's good they don't come calling since they've made it obvious they're after only one other thing." So cheer up? "At least you had girls ask you." he says and now his tone is saddened with an underlying current of hurt and anger. "No one wants to bed a traitor or a man who has walked alongside Laris and his men. Like I'm… tainted. Lyreh didn't care." But she left him too. Which couldn't have done much at all for his confidence. Woe are the current lives of the Stonehaven brothers! Neither having luck with the opposite sex.

Ezra doesn't say that the first girl he brought back to his room - a girl he actually liked - took one look at the pigsty and fled. He glances up at his brother, and in an instant all of his selfish 'woe is me' is washed away. The Stonehaven brothers have not had it easy. One painted a victim, the other a traitor, when the realities are so much more complex than those labels. "I can't even…fathom what you went through, Raya," Ezra says quietly, looking at his brother with an expression that is almost awed. "What you're still going through. I wish…" But he stops that train of thought with a soft exhale. The things he wishes for would take ages to speak.

Rayathess would have many things to say about that girl and none of them very nice. If there is one thing he's trying NOT to show is his lingering overprotectiveness of his younger brother. Poor Anrila and Ezra. Their future partners will come under such heavy scrutiny by him. Of course the reality is far more complex and complicated, but most folks will only see what they've heard and it will take time for them to shed those labels. "Neither of us had it easy, Ezra. You had your share of dark moments," he remarks, only to level his brother with a look. "You wish?" Now it's his turn to pry.

Ezra just shrugs a little bit. The turns have eased his nightmares somewhat, but they will never be gone from him. They are as a part of him as his name. They've helped shape him, mold him into the man he is becoming. Hopefully for the better. "Yes," he agrees, "but my label earns me more pity than scorn." Not that being pitied is a great thing to be, but perhaps it's easier on the psyche than scorn. Lifting his free hand, he gestures around the kitchen. "That none of this had happened," he says quietly. "That Mother and Father were around. That our biggest worries were the harvest and the visiting neighbors. That you had a sweet, easygoing girl who adores you and sees you the way Anrila and I see you. Laris took everything from us. Home, family, and a lot of our futures. It shouldn't /be/ this hard."

Rayathess has fought his nightmares and the other fractured parts of his mind by going into a Craft. Harper Hall knows who he is, but they accepted him anyways and through his work and studies he finds some peace. It's a distraction and one sorely needed as he heals in his own way. Detached, but it was necessary. "I don't understand why the pity and scorn remain. It has been Turns and we have clearly grown into young men, not at all what our labels state we are." he mutters and then listens with a saddened and pained look as Ezra explains. Rayathess takes a breath and then his features harden again, anger and regret darkening his eyes only to have it vanish with the next heartbeat. No, he knows now that vengeance and emotions like that serve no purpose. "It shouldn't be hard but we're surviving, Ezra. That's what matters. Against all odds. Your heir to Stonehaven and I am to be a Harper some day. Anrila is safe and will grow up to go her own path now too. He took almost everything from us. And in the end Laris lost everything that was HIS and was killed for his madness, with most of his loyal followers exiled." Such is karma?

Ezra shrugs a little bit. "It's hard to move past it, I think, for some people. That is who we are, or so they assume. Some people just won't see past their first impressions." He meets his brother's gaze when it hardens, and doesn't flinch away. "Almost everything," he agrees with a small nod. Still. STILL. It hits him sometimes, the utter unfairness of it all, and he has to just let those emotions wash over him until he's back to normal.

Rayathess smirks and drains the last of his tea. "Wisely spoken," he mutters and then lapses into silence. A comfortable silence though there is a tension to his shoulders as he pushes off his seat and walks over to where the kettle is. He even sets his mug down as though he's about to serve himself but he never does. Instead he is, of all things, hugging Ezra to him. Forget that they're too old for such things, who's around to see? Rayathess just hugs him without a single word spoken and no explanation given. Does he have to?

Ezra turns, rising from his stool when Rayathess approaches him. It's as if the younger brother had the same thought, the same desire, but Rayathess acted upon it first. Clutching to his brother, Ezra's long arms loop around him and squeeze him tightly, firm, almost clinging.

Rayathess will cling back, trying not to notice how tall Ezra has grown and just staying in the moment. No dropping back into darker memories. Just the here and now. Eventually, he'll give his brother a few reassuring pats to the back and a silent signal that he's about to slip out of the hug. There's no awkwardness from Rayathess, even as he goes about pouring his tea. "You've done a lot for Stonehaven. It's going to be a very nice hold." Again. But no need to reflect on that.

Ezra slowly lets his brother go with a few back pats of his own, setting onto his stool again. "Thanks," he says, looking around. "I want it to prosper, to be…happy again," he says, swirling his tea in his mug.

"I think you can do that easily, Ezra. It's already… starting to feel different." Rayathess admits and takes a seat closer to Ezra this time to nurse his second mug of tea. "You're going to make this place happy. I know you will." Otherwise Rayathess may not have so freely parted with his title as heir.

Ezra smiles at his brother. "Thanks. I'm glad you approve of what I've done so far." Rising, he pours himself more tea and gets some more food from the pantry - cookies, just a little stale. "Do you have any ideas or suggestions?"

Rayathess will take one of the cookies, even if a bit stale, just because Ezra went through the trouble to bring them out. "What, for the restoration?" he says, sounding a touch surprised. Blinking, he glances about the kitchen and then shrugs, sipping at his mug. "Not really. You've already touched upon the things I'd have thought to rebuild. Aside from restoring things, getting new furniture and all those odds and ends, what more is there to do? Though… for the families and workers. Have you considered interviews?"

Ezra nods, "Yeah, I need to talk to folks, meet them, see…if I can trust them. It's going to be a long, long process," he says with a small grimace. "I'm thinking about guards, too. If I need a few…or even just one. I don't know though. I don't want to be scared, but security…you noticed we've built up the wall a little higher."

Rayathess sips his tea and mulls over his thoughts. "It will be a long, long process but I could vouch for a few Harpers if you're looking to have legal backup in that sense? Access to archives normally closed off…" he offers with a vague smirk. As for the guards, Rayathess perks up a bit. "Why not? It's not uncommon for holds to hire personal Guards. If you think you can house them here, then they can stay on. And I did notice that." And he approves.

Ezra considers for a moment before he nods slightly. "That might be nice. And I will be wanting contracts for people to sign. Not quite sure what they'll say yet, but…something legal, something in writing, about expectations and all of that…" Then he smiles, looking relieved at his brother's reaction. "Alright. I'll be looking for that then, too. Probably just two."

Rayathess frowns thoughtfully, "I didn't think there were contracts involved. Though I suppose it makes sense. I'm still shaky on my understanding of most laws and the charters beyond the standard things." Which any Pernese would know, is what he's getting at. "Might be wise to have some legal binding. So no one can swindle." Way to feed into his brother's trust issues! He chuckles dryly. "Just two? For a whole hold?"

Ezra nods, "Yeah, exactly. And just to have it out there, clear, so there's no confusion." Then he stares at his brother and laughs. "It's not /that/ big of a cothold."

Rayathess snorts and eyes Ezra right back, "No, it isn't but Guards need to do patrolled shifts and rotate. So if you think about it, you'd only have ONE Guard on duty at a time. You need at least four. Maybe six." he points out and lifts his mug up to take a long, deep sip.

Ezra frowns slightly, but in thought, not in argument. Then he grunts with a shrug. "I'll see what I can figure out. Probably talk to Breshir at the weyr and see what he thinks. Maybe he can come out and give me his professional opinion." Looking around, Ezra is quiet for a moment before he looks back at his brother. "Is there anything from here that you want? I mean, I'm not keeping /everything/, but if there's something that's special to you…"

"That actually might be a good idea. Get a Captain's view on it, though you could always check with Fort Hold's Captain too." he suggests softly, beginning to relax again as he enjoys his tea. He then looks up sharply at Ezra and not for the first time or the last he is taken by surprise. "I… well. No. I didn't think anything was left." He hasn't thought to look either.

Ezra clears his throat a little bit. "Rather deal with the weyr right now," he murmurs. "I'll build Hold relations later, when I'm established. And…well. Your room was mostly left alone…mostly…" But he understands.

Rayathess quirks a brow and his eyes flicker with so many questions but he does not voice a single one on the matter of Ezra choosing Weyr over Hold. Instead, his head turns to glance towards the hallway. "I thought it was all gone…" he remarks. "Or it would be all gone."

Ezra shakes his head. "No. They went through and took what they thought was valuable, but they weren't going to take furniture. They broke a lot, but not everything."

Rayathess frowns heavily and he seems to try to recall what he had in that room of his. "Suppose they wouldn't," he agrees and downs the last of his tea in a few long gulps. "Can I look?" he asks, giving his brother a sidelong look. Will he come along too?

Ezra nods, grinning a bit. "Of course you can look!" Silly man. "It's your room. Want me to come with?"

Rayathess only smirks. What? How was he to know. The hold belongs to Ezra and though he's family, Rayathess is a guest! For now. "If you want." he murmurs and waits on his brother's response before stepping out into the hallway and following the familiar route. That, at least, hasn't changed and Rayathess comes to stop by the door. Here is where he hesitates and then with a steadying breath he nudges the door open and steps inside.

Ezra slides off the stool and tops off his tea mug before following after his brother. He hangs back when they reach Rayathess' old room, not out of fear or nerves, but simply out of respect. Pulling a glow basket off the hall alcove, he passes it into the room for his older brother. "Here," he murmurs.

Rayathess takes the basket of glows and leaves the door open. He's inside for a few seconds before he reappears in the doorway again. "Coming inside?" he inquires with a look that is difficult to read before he's turning away. He moves slow, not so much hesitant but definitely lost in his head.

Ezra nods, "Of course," he says, following his brother into his old room. Ezra has been in here before of course, once or twice, but he leaves the exploring to his brother.

Rayathess explores in silence, setting the basket of glows nearby so that their light will fill most of the room. "So you never touched anything in here?" he says after considerable pause as he passes by a few items. Most of them are things he no longer needs or cannot bring with him to the dorms in the Hall. "And what is left behind… if it's still good will you just recycle it? Give it to a family or someone who does need it?"

Ezra shakes his head. "I checked in here a few times, to make sure no animals had gotten in. But no, I didn't really touch anything." Then he shrugs. "Depends. If you want it to stay in your room, then it can stay. If you don't want it, then I'll put it in other rooms that need to be furnished. But this is still your room."

Rayathess frowns as if debating something in his head, "I can't take this stuff with me." he admits quietly. "But it'd be nice if it can stay in here. Unless someone is in dire need of it. Then it wouldn't be right for it to be in here." Makes sense, doesn't it? He finishes with his round of the room and then sits on the corner of the bed.

Ezra nods, "Sure, we can do that," Ezra murmurs, moving forward to sit on the edge of the bed as well, glancing around the room and then back to his brother. "If someone needs it, I'll pull it out. Otherwise…" It stays here. And knowing Ezra, it'll stay here no matter what. He'll get other furniture for other people. "I'll have the room cleaned too, kept tidy for when you visit."

"That'd be nice. Thanks, Ezra." Rayathess murmurs and he knows his brother will honour his requests. He has no worries or doubts in that sense. He glances about the room again and frowns heavily as his mind begins to pull up memories long since buried. Happy memories. "They took my tools, didn't they?" he asks quietly.

Ezra pushes to his feet and walks over to Rayathess' desk, pulling out the top drawer. "They grabbed your kit," he says, turning and holding out one tool - just one - and offering it to him. "This must have fallen out though. I found it under the bed."

Why hadn't he thought of the desk? Rayathess grimaces when Ezra confirms it and then blinks in surprise when the lone tool is offered to him. Without the others, it's not much of a useful tool but he takes it all the same and holds it tightly in his fingers. "At least this survived." he murmurs softly. "They must've dropped it."

Ezra nods, "Yeah, or your kit wasn't closed, or something…but yeah. That's what's left of your set. I'm going to order more, of course, but." That set was special, and Ezra was sad to see that it had been taken.

Rayathess shakes his head. "I always closed it." he states firmly, as if that is something important to point out. He very carefully shifts the tool through his fingers, his eyes following it as if reabsorbing every detail of it. Maybe he thought he'd never be touching any of them again. "It'd never replace what was lost, Ezra… The set, this tool… they were heirlooms of sorts. Once." Not anymore.

Ezra glances at his sibling but doesn't argue, nodding slightly. "No, it wouldn't. But…" They have to have tools. "Maybe they'll turn up someday."

Rayathess scoffs and then gives Ezra an incredulous look. Really? "No. They're long gone. Either traded off, destroyed, lost or with some of those bastards on the islands. Even if I saw 'em in the hands of one of them… It'd have been next to impossible to get them back." he mutters.

Ezra shrugs a shoulder, ever hopeful as he looks around the room once more. Silent, he just sits, lost in thought for a few moments. With his brother he /can/ be silent, and be comfortable in that silence. There are few people on Pern with which he can just be quiet.

Rayathess feels comfortable in the silence as well and Ezra is one of the rare few that he can be this way too. With one last glance to the tool, he tucks it safely away in a pocket and then slips an arm around Ezra's shoulder in a brotherly way. Probably a gesture he hasn't done since they were both younger. "It's probably a good thing I never found them. When you had things of value in the camps, it made things… much more dangerous." he admits quietly.

Ezra shifts to lean against his brother's shoulder, like when they were younger, not caring for the moment that he's now 17 and no longer a child. He's growing, heir, soon to be a man…yet he takes a lot of comfort from having someone to lean against. "Oh?" he asks, gently pressing for more information. "I can imagine…"

Rayathess finds comfort in it too and familiarity. It helps keep him calm and grounded too, to have Ezra beside him and so understanding about the silences. It's a relief. "Mhm," he answers and doesn't add anything for several minutes though his eyes move about the room. They're distant though, as though he is drifting through memories. Darker ones. "I remember watching one man knife another - and old man - in his sleep, all quiet and stealth like because the fool bragged about some bauble or another he was carrying. Made it so folks thought the old one died in the night from natural causes and thought nothing of it. S'why I had so little on me. It was bad enough I had Anrila…"

Ezra twitches slightly, but does nothing else other than continue to lean. "Horrible," he murmurs with a heavy frown. He doesn't even have to ask if Rayathess spoke up about the murder. He knows. He had Anrila. "Did people know she was your sister?" he asks, curious if that part of their relationship was hidden.

Rayathess would not have spoken up about it. Why bother? Laris did not exactly follow justice as most do and did not expect his men and followers to either. "I never really outrightly said it, though they assumed. Once I made it clear that she wasn't to be touched." he mutters darkly. So he played his role as overprotective brother!

Ezra nods, quiet for a long moment. In the end though, he decides to ask. "How did you make it clear?"

Rayathess's arm slips from around Ezra's shoulder and comes to rest in his lap and his hands rest over his knees. His jaw clenches and works silently but he works through it and finds the words he needs without delving too deep. "I had to get pretty aggressive. Stand up for her and against others until they backed off. Sometimes it lead to scuffles. Sometimes I think they just goaded me for the fun of it when they realized I wasn't going to roll over and take it like some of the others."

When Rayathess removes his arm, Ezra slips his around his brother's after a moment's pause. He just nods though, not wanting to push for more details than that, and really not having anything more to say. What can he say at this point? Thanks? It's so hollow. So he lets the silence settle again, comforting and safe.

Saying nothing is the right thing and Rayathess will take his turn now to lean against Ezra. Comfortable in the silence, he allows it to stretch on and on until he gives himself a bit of a shake. "Should we get back?" he asks his brother, giving him a curious look. "Are you staying here or do you have a way back to the Weyr?"

Ezra hugs Rayathess tightly against his side, firm and secure. Stable. Ezra has grown up and filled out, the young man stronger now than he's ever been. "I'm staying until this evening," he says. "Have to take care of the evening milking, and then a rider is coming to pick me up."

Rayathess has likely noted how much Ezra has grown and filled out, but he's not about to bring it up. It'd just be awkward at a time like this. Instead, he'll just try to ruffle his brother's hair like he always done. Grown men or not, that's probably something he won't stop trying to do — when they're alone like this. "Want some help with that? Or just… help, I guess? I'm not due back until sundown again."

Ezra ducks his head at the hair ruffling, but doesn't protest it as he pushes to his feet. "Sure, I'd love some help. There's a few things that still need doing in the barn, if you'd like to help out. It's warm in there. I can show you my plans, too…if you want to see."

Rayathess chuckles softly and pushes to his feet, patting his pocket where that tool rests. "Of course. Seems only right that I help out and visit, right?" he murmurs and then gestures for Ezra to lead the way.

Ezra leads the way back out to the barn, where he and Rayathess will spend the next few candlemarks doing normal, routine things. Except they're not all that routine. They're special because it's Stonehaven. Because it's home, and because they're working to bring her back to life.