'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.

Fort Weyr - Galleries
The galleries are carved right out of the rock face, the rows and rows of benches rising high up into the air on a slight slant. Stone and wood benches that used to be known for offering little in the way of comfort, are now padded with cushions in Fort Weyr's colors. Placed along the railing at regular intervals are antique looking baskets filled with cheery fabric flowers. The curving walls sport tapestries in warm vibrant colors that seem to add a dash of color to the otherwise dreary stone. Where the galleries curve slightly at the ends, affording those attending hatchings or clutchings a decent view of the sands, shaded laterns offer warm lighting along the rows of benches.

Luckily for Xandis, the day is almost done - who would have thought that one girl could keep you so busy? Certainly, the young man has new respect for the nannies who do it day in and day out with multiple children, and for the fact that the amount of attention a new dragon will take dwarfs that of a talkative, inquisitive, 5 turn old. With the hour inching towards dinner, Xandis's freedom is drawing ever nearer - unfortunately not quickly enough, for he's currently sitting in the galleries with the red-headed child - the girl's hair in messy braids while she's showing of a dress that's hardly meant to play in, while Xandis has had ribbons tied here and there in his hair, and a bright pink blanket wrapped around his shoulders like a cape.

It's a yawn that preceedes Melze up the stairs, both in feeling and the louder than most intake of breath she's prone to doing. There's a book held tightly in one hand, but any sort of reading seems to be far from her mind as she trudges her way up into the galleries and blinks around blearily. Spotting Xandis she moves over int hat direction, not actually taking in the little girl more focussing ont eh fact that Xandis looks odd. "I am readin gabsolutely the most boring book ever. No competition." it's only when she flops down into a seat that she really notices the girl and offer a smile and a fingerwave.

Dani looks up from where she's having her stuffed dolphin walk on its tail back and forth along the benches, humming to herself as she does so, apparently giving Xandis a momentary break from the questioning that has continued all day. However, as Xandis spots Mel, he moves to tug the blanket off his shoulders, "Xan!" Dani protests hurriedly, jumping to her feet to tug the blanket closer around his shoulders again, staring at him as she regards his ribbons, nudging one a bit. "Dani.." He murmurs, trying to distract her with the stuffed firelizard, while he glances at Melze. "Hey, Blondie.." He murmurs, and peeks at her. "I'm better than a book.."

"It suits you." Melze murmurs at Xandis as he tries, and fails, to be blanket free, adding in a wink just to be sure he knows she's teasing. "Ohhh, so you're Dani. I've heard all about you. You did all this?" This, of course, meaning Xandis. "I'm impressed." The book, the poor maligned book, is placed down on the seat beside her as she snatches on the opportunity to be distracted. "Definitely better than a book." She nods to Xandis, grinning slightly, "Or running, or begging the Weyrwoman for ribbons but not knowing how long they needed to be." At least this seems to amuse her more than frustrate, and she reaches a hand out to touch one of the ribbons in his hair.

"I have more!" Dani proclaims loudly as Melze settles down to inspect Xandis's hair, the girl beaming widely at her. "You can match, then, since you're his -girlfriend-." She says with a smirk, bouncing a bit, looking eagerly at Mel. "Canni canni?" She looks impatiently from one to the other, eyes wide, her stuff toys forgotten for now. Xandis smiles a little awkwardly at Mel, trying to loosen the blanket from his shoulders again, though without any actual luck, sighing slightly. "Dani.." He offers again, before wincing. "I'm sorry, I.. She…"

"You do?" Fake enthusiasm is fake, but Melze does manage to add on a genuine smile, "I suppose they're not really big enough to decorate a room are they?" There's a flicker of shock that comes across her face at the mention of the 'g' word and she glances at Xandis for a second with a puzzled but amused expression. "Sure, why not. Matching is a good thing." She doesn't correct the 'girlfriend' comment, but she doesn't confirm it either. Instead asking quietly of Xandis, "So when did this happen?" The girlfriend status? The ribboning? The assumption is his to make.

"Why would you want to decorate a room with ribbons? They're for your -hair-." Dani corrects Melze with a giggle, bouncing as she agrees, tearing around to find a basket, and rummaging around the stuffed firelizard that guards it, pulling out lengths of purple and pink ribbon, bouncing back to Melze, and holding them up to show her. "Look!" She beams widely, waving them around. Xandis blushes at Melze's question, distracting himself by idly fingering one of the ribbons that rests against his chin. "Uhm. I.. I don't know." He answers the vague question, sparing her a long look. "She.. She saw the stone, so.. she.." He tries to explain.

"Because." Melze leans in a little closer to Dani, ready to share a huge secret, "We're having a party and we want it to look pretty." As the girl bounces off she shakes her head, "Maybe the book would have ben safer. Back in the barracks." She's mostly teasing and as Dani bounces back she smiles at her, "Oh, they're far too pretty for me. I bet they'd look amazing in your hair though." She tilts her head ot the isde a little so that she can watch Xandis as he stammers and tries to figure out his explanations, eventually reachign a hand over to rest it on his leg, "I meant the ribbons, Xan. Have you been walking about like this all day?"

"A party?" Dani asks excitedly, bouncing a little bit. "Can I come?" She asks, looking from Melze to Xandis to Melze, as if the pair of candidates can give her the permission she so desperately seeks. "They're for *you*". Dani says, before she's awkwardly scrambling over the rows to end up behind Melze, fingers reaching to tug just a little on her hair, ribbons still in her other hand. Xandis holds his breath as the child goes climbing, squeezing his eyes shut for a moment once she's steadily on the ground again, blushing more darkly as she clears up what she was asking, hesitantly resting his hand on top of hers. "The ribbons are new… I've had the blanket since.. Lunch? We played dress up after lunch, right Dani?" He asks, even as he glances down at his pink covering.

Melze shakes her head, "I don't think you'd be allowed to. There'll be a lot of people and Xandis and your parents would be very upset if you got hurt accidentally." As Danigoes climbing she leans back, way back, to try to make things easier on her hair. There's still a wince as it's tugged, though, but she manages to not complain out loud, simply turning her head a little towards Xandis and crossing her eyes with a pained expression. her hand stays where it is, though her fingers twitch a little as her hair's tugged "Pink's good, happy colour, though since lunch you must be roasting. Especially here. What do you think Dani? Time for Xandis to get undressed a little so he doesn't faint or something?" The corners of her mouth twitch a little with amusement and it's clear the 'undressed' was deliberately chosen.

"Awwww…" Dani protests, sulking stomping a foot just a little, before she's settling down to style Melze's hair - surprisingly without any more tugging. Little fingers gently separate her hair out into sections, the first pink ribbon added. "Over… Under. Loop. Loop. Twist." She carefully murmurs to herself, figuring out the knot, looking proud at her handiwork. Melze's request has her considering Xandis for a moment, before slowly nodding. "Its your turn now anyway!" She giggles, Xandis thankfully shedding the blanket, "Maybe.. Maybe we should just have pretty hair for now, we don't want to look prettier than you, Dani." He wagers, even as his hand twitches briefly at the word undressed.

Melze braces for the tugging that never comes, and it's something of a pleasant shock which likely saves Xandis' knee from being squeezed to death. "All done? How does it look?" The quetion is aimed at both of her companions, though it's Xandis that she looks to for a real answer. "Maybe keep the blanket for outside, it's too hot in ehre because of the eggs and things and we don't want anyone getting sick or having to go and see a healer because of it.

"Not done!" Dani protests as Melze asks, shaking her head and carefully repeating the steps once, twice, thrice more, giving Melze a lovely, crooked row of bows in her hair before she finally dusts her hands off, waving at her handiwork. "Now everyone will know you're his girlfriend!" She declares, looking quite proud of herself before she's going to fetch her stuff dolphin, talking to Bubbles briefly about how lovely Melze and Xandis look. Xandis, for his part, is quickly cracking a smile, nodding. "You look… uhm… look beautiful." He offers, hurriedly looking away, blanket balled up - but kept in his lap.

"Oops, sorry." Melze offers up a quick giggled apology, leaning back once again so that the girl can finish her work. She keeps silent until teh girl moves off, leaning across towards Xandis to whisper, "Least she hasn't demanded we kiss or something." His comment makes her smile brightly, head twitching in just the right way to make the ribbons bounce, "You're biased you know. Not that that's a bad thing."

"Hmmmm.." Dani considers the pair with a tilt of her head, before another ribbon is looped around Melze's head, and she half climbs into the candidates lap - should she be allowed - to try and tie a bow so it rests on the young woman's forehead. "You can go to the party now, too. And make sure everyone knows. My sister will be jealous!" She beams as she lingers, watching them expectantly, while Xandis smiles as the ribbons bounce. "I.. I hope you don't mind." He murmurs, dropping his gaze. "And.. I.. I know you don't want to do that anyway." He sulks just a little. "You still owe me a dance."

Melze doesn't stop Dani from climbing, though she does retrieve her hand from Xandis' leg to make sure the girl doesn't slip or fall. "I will defintiely tell everyone, but the party isn't for a few days. Can I maybe keep one ribbon, I promise I'll wear it to the party." Her mouth opens to say something else, but the thought dies as Xandis speaks and she looks confused for a second. "Dani? Will you do me a favour? Can you scoot along to the end of the galleries for a minute so I can talk to Xandis? Secret boyfriend stuff."

Xandis sulks just a little as Mel's hand shifts, but he's lifting his own to steady Dani as well, just in case, "I'll keep one too, Dani, promise." Maybe on his shirt, or something. The girl looks from one to the other, starting to settle down in Mel's lap before she's asking her to move for a second, and she's pouting. And then after a moment, she sighs. "Count how long it takes!" She finally declares, apparently agreeing to move at least, running off down the row and away. "I didn't tell her you were my girlfriend.." Xandis begins defensively, as soon as she's out of range. "But, I.."

Melze waits until Dani's safely out of the way before turning to look at xandis. She doesn't look angry, nor particularly disappointed, perhaps just a little confused. "Kids assume, it's fine. Why do you think I wouldn't want to kiss you? Well other than the whole candidate rules and you're not allowed to be near someone just in case you get the urge to rip their clothes off or something. I do still owe you a dance, don't think I've forgotten. Koi just asked first, and it's only polite to say yes. Right?"

From the look on his face, its evident that what Melze said was not what he was expecting Melze to say. "10!" Xandis lifts his voice carefully to Dani as she looks back at them expectantly, the candidate then looking back to his fellow. "But.. Koi.. He… You…" And Xandis is very much at a loss of words, as he sits there, blinking. "Are you and h-?" He looks completely baffled, hurriedly looking away, ribbons falling into his face.

Melze shakes her head as Xandis babbles. "You gave me a present, he gave me a present. I'm not going out with him any more than I am you or… anyone else for that matter. Do I like him? Yes I do. But he knows I'm not looking for anything, I think. I hope he does." There's a moment's hesitation, uncertainty.

"He gave you a present?" Xandis frowns a little bit, tilting his head. "What did he get you?" He asks, nosily. "Bad enough I came after a firelizard egg…" He murmurs and as Dani comes running back down the way, he puts out his arms to snag her, and keep her from tearing off again, the girl giggling as she moves to sprawl across their laps, looking up at them. "Aren't you going to kiss? Mommy and daddy kiss all the time."

Melze thinks for a second, apparently debating whether to tell or not, "A necklace." Her voice is quiet as she confesses that bit, and she quickly adds, "But it doesn't matter what it is it's the thought. And I don't even know if I can keep it really it's… well I need to talk to him about it." Further thoughts are saved as Dani comes back, though that question makes her blush for some reason, "We're not allowed. Candidates aren't allowed to have boyfriends and girlfriends and kissing is a big nono."

Xandis's shoulders droop at the mention of a necklace, muttering something about no good, gambling jerks, before he's quickly changing his tone, giving Dani a little tickle, the girl giggling and squirming as she looks up at them. "I won't tell anyone!" (Lies!) She proclaims innocently, staring at them intently, before Xandis grins a little, leaning to whisper to the girl. "Why don't you give Mel a kiss for me?" He asks, catching the girl's blush, and looking a little relieved.

Melze's expression hardens just a little at the muttering, but it barely lasts any time and as Dani squirms she laughs, "I know you wouldn't. But you never know when people might walk in and if we did we'd get in really bad trouble and they wouldn't let us go to the party." Not to mention everything else that would happen. Xandis' suggestion certainly seems to smooth over any ruffled feathers and she nods, turning a cheek down towards Dani and patting a finger against it.

Hand steady Dani as the girl continues to squirm, tilting her head to look at the two of them, contemplating this idea, before she's flopping a bit, managing to sit up and wrap her arms around Mel's neck, giving her a sloppy kiss - not on her cheek where she's pointing, but crookedly on the side of her mouth - eeew, kid cooties! Xandis, meanwhile, can't help but dissolve into laughter at this turn of events, whatever he was going to say forgotten, as he moves to pull his charge into his own lap, and to free Mel. "I never even kissed her there!" He protests, squeezing Dani a bit. "Why not?" Squeaks out of the girl with a little giggle.

Melze lets out a squeak of her own as she's kissed properly instead of the peck on the cheek she was expecting. She does well in not wiping off the damp too quickly, eventually using one finger to clean up but then putting that finger into the pocket of her trousers, "Keep the rest of that for later." Xandis' laughter is quickly followed by her own. "Because it's baaaaaaaaanned." Mel's hands reach out aiming to tickle their little voyeur. "Maybe he'll get to kiss me after the hatching."

Dani sulks a little at that explanation, pursing her lips as she stares at the eggs on the Sands, and then back at them. "When we play dragons and candidates, the ones who get dragons go 'way right away. What if you both do?" She asks with a thought, tilting her head to stare at them, turning to kneel in Xandis's lap, and play with his ribbons, fixing them slowly. "Your ribbons.." Xandis glances over at Melze, though he freezes as his hair is fixed, looking a little excited. "Maybe?" Maybe is better than a no!

"I guess that's just something we'll need to see when it happens." Melze replies, "He might have to wait a bit longer, or I might. You never know." She turns to watch Xandis' get his hair fixed, then mouths a silent 'probably' and has to work hard to keep the smile that accompanies it down to normal levels. "Anyway, it's not like it's forever."

"I'm going to be a candidate… But that's -forever- away. I have to be… this many more turns." And she holds up nine fingers to them, grinning. "Forever is foreeeeeeeever." The girl drags out, and Xandis smirks a little at Melze with a sigh, and a nod. "Not forever.." And he quietly adds 'even if it feels like it' under his breath, giving Dani a little shake. "Aren't you getting hungry?" He asks softly.

Melze grins, "Forever is foreeever and ever. And you never know what might happen between now and forever, you might get yourself a boyfriend or something! Then you'll be too busy kissing to think about forever."

"Like -you-!" Dani says enthusiastically, giggling and nodding at Xandis's suggestion. "Dinner time!" She offers, wiggling off his lap and giggling as she grabs her basket and her dolphin, running away down the aisles to wait for Xandis, the candidate slower to get up and get moving. "I'll.. I'll see you later Blondie?" He asks, his hand moving to rest lightly on her shoulder.

"Still banned." Melze winks at Dani, adding another fingerwave as she runs off. "You know where I live." This time it's Xandis gets a wink, her hand lifting to cover his for a moment, "Walk before bed maybe?"

"Melze and Xandis, sitting in a treee…" Dani goes singing as she waits, and Xandis smiles at Melze and nods, waggling fingers at her. "Walk, yah.." And then Dani's singing sinks in, and he's rushing after her to get her redistracted.