Fort Hold - Fort Hold - Courtyard
The entire courtyard is covered by neatly cut flagstones of grey-blue color. Special care has been taken to make sure that the edges fit neatly together, and even the obvious age of the structure hasn't caused any great alteration from the original plans. When it was first built, the yard must have been quite bare when emptied of people, but nowadays there are raised areas filled with dirt and covered with bushes and plants that flower year round. The patches of flowers are held about half a meter off the ground, prevented from extending further by walls of stone and a lip which makes an excellent bench.

Overnight a storm had raged across the northern continent, blanketing most of the Fort region in a fresh and heavy covering of snow and ice during the nightly hours. But as dawn approached, the storms dispersed and left the skies an almost eerie clear. With the sun now up and shining, the lands are a dazzling sight, almost /too/ much at times. It makes for a sort of calm, serene beauty though, especially if one is stuck flying sweeps or patrols or — for two Fortian riders, possibly a third — a straight flight from Weyr to Hold. Fort Hold was hit just as heavily during the winter storm, drifts of snow still being shoveled and piled to the sides. Velokraeth lands in the courtyard to start, the pale bronze lingering only long enough to allow his rider to dismount before he's aloft again and heading straight towards the fire heights for the sun warmed ledges there. He'll settle himself comfortably enough, but be polite about it and leave plenty of room for his comrades.

The Weyrleader though waits only long enough for two two accompanying him to join him at his side in the courtyard before turning with them to head inside and towards the council chambers to meet with Lord Laric (not to be confused with Laris… seriously) and Lady Tresa. The meeting itself takes barely over an hour to complete, with the Lord and Lady being much gracious hosts and politically well matched. Perhaps they too are unsettled by Gold Hills behavior, more specifically in it's Lord and the heir. But the news they bring is troubling: Gold Hill will not change or bend to reason, which puts both the Hold and the Weyr in a rather awkward position. With no more information to go on or work with, both Th'ero and Lord Laric (seriously), agreed to adjourn the meeting, while they continue to try to speak with Gold Hill's lord and perhaps work some sense into the man.

Leaving the council chambers, the Weyrleader is in a deeply thoughtful and somewhat brooding mood. Not a bad sort of temper, but not the greatest of one's either. Still dressed in his more formal riding gear, Th'ero barely pauses as he tightens the collar to his fur-lined jacket before stepping back outside, only to shield his eyes against the glare of the snow and ice. Ow. Side stepping under the shadow of a ledge, he half murmurs, half mutters under his breath to those still accompanying him. "Well that went… not entirely as I had thought but not terribly either. Only now, we're at a stalemate."

Varmiroth does much the same as his ledgemate, lingering long enough to let Kimmila dismount before he joins the bronze on the heights, finding some sun to stretch out in. During the meeting Kimmila is actually well behaved…or at least she's quiet. But her mood is much the same as Th'ero's as they exit the council chamber and head back outside. Dressed in her own formal riding leathers, the bluerider is even wearing her knot - a wingsecond's knot with an extra tassel - and her hair done up in a braid and coiled at the base of her scalp. "It's damn frustrating," she mutters. "Now what do we do? Wait for the Hold to put more pressure on them? Or do we go in ourselves?" Shaking her head, she peers out across the snowy grounds and tugs on her gloves and then pulls out her shaded goggles from her pocket, pulling them on even if they're not leaving just yet.

M'lo follows them, frowning thoughtfully as he pulls his gloves on. Irelanth is playing in the snow somewhere, probably to the delight of the Hold children. "If we go in ourselves, we might be stepping too far beyond our boundaries," he muses. "If we wait for them, we might be waiting a long time. They didn't seem too enthusiastic about sending in some eyes." He pulls a knitted hat out of his pocket and jams it onto his head, tying the flaps under his chin. The pom-pom on top flutters in the chill breeze. During the meeting he, too, was polite, and refrained from mentioning his wild idea… there's really no evidence to support it, after all.

"M'lo has a good point," Th'ero agrees as he turns to face both the Weyrsecond and Kimmila, though it's obvious that he shifts a little closer to the bluerider's side. He's being stubborn though and remains squinting a little against the glare of ice and snow if his gaze happens to drift out towards the rest of the courtyard. So for once his gaze remains fixed on both of them, darting between the two at times. "We cannot go in ourselves without forcing Fort Hold's hand in the matter or intruding on the old rules," Weyrs shall not interfere with Hold affairs and already they're pushing that line. "Give them time to accept the idea of a spy. No doubt they'll wish to speak to Harper Hall on that one too," Th'ero adds in a quiet tone, though truthfully no one is lingering close enough to them to hear. "But perhaps we can at least insist on that. Putting one of their men into Gold Hill. Even a loyal Guard would do…" he murmurs, reaching up with a gloved hand to scrub at the base of his jaw as he frowns heavily.

Kimmila shakes her head at M'lo. "I can't blame them, really. They don't want to spy on one of their holdings without some true evidence that they /are/ hiding something. Even I can see the potential for political disaster with that. I think it's as simple as stupid pride and an inflated sense of untouchability." Glancing at Th'ero, she shakes her head slightly. "I'm still not sold on the need for a spy. But perhaps a good Guard who is at least alert and willing to report any suspicious activity to the main hold. And what we /can/ do is just add some sweeps over the area. That's not infringing at all. Even send folks there to look at or buy some of their products. Give them some business, increase their like of us." Since she did some damage to that relationship.

M'lo tugs his colorful striped scarf a bit closer to his neck. The thing is rediculously long, and even looped around his neck three times it almost trails the ground. "Do you think we should speak to Harper Hall?" he asks quietly. "If they think it's worth it, perhaps the Hold will be more willing to get more actively involved." He nods approvingly at Kimmila's suggestions. "You know, I've been meaning to get Ely some more jewelry." Gold Hill surely has some metal-crafters, it would be a good excuse. "If I commission something, I'd have a valid reason to go and check on the progress every so often."

Th'ero takes a slow and steading inhale of breath, letting it out just as slow, his breath streaming white in the cold air. "Also a good point, Kimmila. I cannot fault them entirely for that, as if I were in their place, I'd be leery of the political backlash too. /IF/ the spy were ever found out." He pauses then, tilting his head a bit to give the bluerider and his weyrmate a lingering look as she voices more of her thoughts. "Perhaps," he murmurs in agreement to the Guard, though the mention of sweeps have him frowning. "M'lo, did you think the Wings could handle extra or extended patrols? Thunderbird is still on rotation out to Xanadu, though not as frequent… but I cannot stand to lose favor with them either." There is no mention of Kimmila's first encounter with Gold Hill, but Th'ero does step a little closer to her side. Reassurance? If it is, it's very subtle. "We could speak to Harper Hall too, though I am not sure entirely of what help they could give us, beyond reaffirming what we already know." he murmurs to his Weyrsecond, but his tone says that he's not entirely against the idea. And they /are/ in the area, aren't they? There's a little half-smirk, half-smile for M'lo's next suggestion. "That would be one way of slipping in with an excuse, at least, to be present. Another thing to ask the Hall, if they know of any… reputable skilled metal-crafters posted there."

Kimmila shrugs her shoulders a little bit, toying with her gloves. "Wouldn't hurt to keep the Harpers updated as to what's going on, I suppose…though I don't want it to come across like we're whining, either, about Gold Hill not heeding our advice." There's a small smirk next, and a nod to M'lo. "A fine idea. Win win for everyone involved." Glancing to Th'ero, she nods, but has nothing to offer in regards to the wing rotations. That's M'lo's department, so the bluerider looks to him for that answer. "No, we need to keep rotation in Xanadu," she does say, firm on that. "What about Roc? Or would Gold Hill see through it if we offered some Roc riders to help with their deliveries of ore and the like? That might be a bit too…transparent." And she frowns, glancing at Th'ero again and giving him a small smile.
M'lo thinks about Th'ero's question for a bit, doing some mental calculations. "We'd be stretched a little thin," he admits. "But if we asked some of the retired riders to do a few sweeps, part-time, perhaps, we could manage it. I'd want to keep them closer to home, let others go over Gold Hill." He considers Kimmila's suggestion about Roc wing, and nods slowly. "Caravans are more traditional. Roc isn't exactly standing around idle, but I'm sure one or two dedicated riders would be appreciated. After all, it's very difficult for outlaws to hold up a dragon in the air. If we approach them from a profit angle, refusal would be suspicious. They'd almost have to agree. Especially if we keep our own prices low."

"Fort Weyr does not whine," Th'ero drawls with a strange edge to his tone, somewhere between being serious and yet his almost lazy, vague smile hints at amusement. "And our worries are valid, concerning Gold Hill. Stonehaven was a regrettable and completely unnecessary tragedy. Neither Hold nor Hall wishes to see a repeat of it. It'd be… wrong of us to show no interest or concern. It could come off as the Weyr being uncaring." At least, that is how the Weyrleader is viewing it. Turning his attention then to M'lo, he frowns heavily, mouth turning down into a thin pressed line as the Weyrsecond goes over the Wing situation. "We could do that," he murmurs in a ponderous tone and there's a notable sidelong glance given to Kimmila as well, as if considering some detail that he leaves unvoiced for now. "So you're proposing we offer a few older, seasoned riders up for trade agreements?" he asks gently, tone still low and firm as his gaze drifts from Kimmila to M'lo.

Kimmila nods at M'lo. "Perhaps a…winter special we offer to some of the closer holdings. We already have riders checking in with the more outlying ones." A task that Kimmila has personally taken on, making sure the further holds see more dragonrider presence than ever before. And with Varmiroth's knack for between images, it's been fairly easy to pass on those pictures to other riders, and set up a small duty rotation within various wings - riders that Kimmila has quietly hand selected for the task. "At this time of turn very few of them have anything to trade and transport. But I can think of a few holdings that do brisk trade right through winter, when caravans are impossible." It stands to reason then that during the winter and spring months are when Roc has its busiest season. Noticing Th'ero's sidelong glance, she arches her brows to give him a questioning look. "Or have the older riders take on the traditional sweeps, and send the younger ones to sweep Gold Hill more frequently."

"I was thinking of keeping the older ones closer, so it's less of a burden on them," M'lo clarifies, "And like Kimmila said, send the younger ones to Gold Hill." He nods at the bluerider. "I think you're right, we'd have to offer the same deal to other holds to make it seem more plausible. A winter special. I like that." He nods a few times. "Active riders, but those with more experience, should go to Gold Hill specifically. I can think of a few I'd trust to keep an eye on things."

Th'ero lapses silent for a moment, gaze dropping as he mulls over his thoughts though keeps a polite and respective ear open to the discussions passing between Kimmila and M'lo. His own opinions are a little slower in being voiced, the Weyrleader picking over his words carefully for once. "I agree with the "winter special" idea, as it's perfectly valid and plausible. Not to mention would put us in likely favor with a few folk where we may need it later." he murmurs quietly. "Perhaps we can ask the older riders which they would prefer. Some of them may be insulted if we try to restrict them based on their age…" Pride. Such a fickle thing. "I am not sure about sending the younger rider's to Gold Hill. Unless they can prove themselves capable to handle a Hold that is, more or less, problematic. Neither lord nor heir are easy to handle to an unprepared rider…" he points out, glancing sidelong towards Kimmila again. "It'd be best if we send in /experienced/ riders to Gold Hill, regardless of what the purpose of their nature in being there is." Then his gaze darts back to M'lo and he nods his head slowly in agreement. "Exactly. Active and experienced. And I could think of a few as well." he adds, though there is a hint of curiosity in his tone. A subtle invitation, perhaps, for the Weyrsecond to share?

Kimmila shrugs a bit, peering across the courtyard and shoving her hands into her pockets. "Mmm, yes. Experience and temperament over age, I agree," she murmurs. Then she looks back at Th'ero, her grin a little twisted. "So not me, then." Not that she'd want to.

"Well, if the older riders want to make the longer trips to the smaller holds, they're welcome to, but I was thinking of their dragons," M'lo says honestly. "Riders usually retire for good reason, and I wouldn't want to overtax any of them. But perhaps you're right. It should be their choice. I'm sure they wouldn't think of endangering their dragons on a sweep that's too long, simply because of their /pride/." He's trying really hard not to sound sarcastic, there, and almost manages it. As for the riders he was thinking of, he rattles off a short list. Two browns, a blue, and a green, each rider steady and reliable, each dragon in their prime and known for their endurance or speed.

Too bad she doesn't want too, since Th'ero is about to awkwardly volunteer her. At least she's not being volun-told? Or worse yet… ordered to. The Weyrleader is not as foolish as to do that, respective of all his rider's feelings to any situation and she no different. He does look a touch surprised though when she counts herself out and his reaction is telling enough. "Well," he begins a touch awkwardly, clearing his throat and lowering his eyes again. "I had you in mind, yes." Awkward, especially when his gaze darts to M'lo again briefly. "But if you are not wanting to, we can find other riders." Which is the next discussion Th'ero shifts too, lifting his gaze to meet the Weyrsecond's without hesitation. "Oh, I know. And rider's pride or not, if there is any doubt on their lifemate's capabilities I would not allow them to proceed. As you said, they wouldn't endanger themselves, but /pride/," And yes, he stresses that word too, almost to the point of sarcasm. "Does make one do foolish things at times." As M'lo recounts the list, Th'ero considers each and every name given and he nods his head briskly. "All good candidates." he agrees. "I trust you could handle meeting with them? Or I could speak to a few as well. Then… we can all move on from then, when we know how many and whom we will be working with."

Kimmila blinks in surprise at Th'ero. "Honestly? Me? After I insulted half of the lording family?" She glances at M'lo and back to Th'ero, brows knitting in a thoughtful frown. "I'll consider it," she finally says, adjusting her jacket over herself. "It'd be a long day of flying though…" And she gives Th'ero a significant look.

Awkwaaaaaarrrrrrrrd. M'lo shoves his hands into his pockets and pretends to be interested in the toes of his boots until Th'ero addresses him again. "I can meet with them," he agrees. "I'll have the new duty roster to you by… oh, tomorrow, lunch-time at the latest." He considers butting in for a moment and then decides he kind of has to agree with Kimmila. "She's right, Th'ero. If we're trying to be inconspicuous and pull this off like it's just something we're doing for everyone, sending in Kimmila would put their hackles up." He shrugs a bit helplessly. "I don't think anything short of grovelling from her would make them amenable to the idea of having her around more." He pauses. "And, this is just a shot in the dark, but I'm guessing that grovelling is out of the question."

"We all make mistakes," Th'ero points out firmly, leveling Kimmila with another pointed look that lingers until she glances back at him with a significant one. Oh, right. Clearing his throat, he straightens a little and takes a steadying breath. Awkwaaaard. "True. But we will consider it." Later. The Weyrleader nods again to M'lo, simply sliding back into the flow of things as though the awkwardness never was, though it still lingers. "That would be just fine. My thanks, M'lo." he murmurs, likely relieved that he will not have to go hunting down riders all day and trying to strike up small talk (though he /has/ improved over the Turns… somewhat). He frowns then, jaw setting slightly as if about to stubbornly refuse the Weyrsecond's opinions, only to sigh. No, the logic is sound… to a degree. "Perhaps you are right," he murmurs and then — speaking of hackles — his seem to rise at the last remark made. "Absolutely not. /No/ rider of Fort," he stresses heavily. "Will ever grovel." Ever. "Apologize, yes. But grovel at the feet of a Holder?" Unthinkable! Which is probably not the best lines of thought, but there it is. And coming from a man who is Holder born.

Kimmila arches a brow at M'lo, but she says nothing until the end, when she snorts. "I-" she begins, but then Th'ero is speaking and she reaches out to rest a hand on his arm. "No groveling," she agrees, giving his arm a gentle squeeze and then pulling her hand back to put it into her pocket. "It's probably best…for everything concerned…if I do not take up that duty. But I could perhaps run a few sweeps in the rotation to cover for those that do." Compromise?

"Hey, you don't have to convince me," M'lo says, holding his hands up. A sudden gust of wind showers them all with snow that's been kicked up from the ground. "What do you say we get home?" he suggests. "And have some hot klah and talk about this somewhere a little less… glaringly white?"

Th'ero blinks when Kimmila suddenly reaches out to rest a hand on his arm and he turns to regard her with a lingering, silent look. It must mean something or the Weyrleader simply relaxes conveniently at the same time, as he no longer seems so ruffled. He does give her a vague half-smile though and a nod. "Fair enough, then. If that is your choice. We could work you into the rotations." He goes to glance again to M'lo, only to have to duck his head down and to the side as they're showered with snow. Grimacing, he lifts a gloved hand to irritably brush most of it from his shoulders, though he doesn't seem to bother with his hair. "I can agree to that," he drawls, only to hesitate a moment. Awkward… again? "We have to fly straight. And perhaps best we go now. Faranth knows when another storm may blow in." he notes with a grimace. The Weyrleader has had enough it seems ot the snow and ice. Being caught in it would just dampen his already less than energetic mood.

Kimmila ducks her head as well as the wind gusts up, turning her face away until it passes. Shaking the snow from her hair and goggles, she looks at Th'ero and M'lo, and then nods. She'll forge boldly on through the awkward! "We'll meet you back there? Gemstone, perhaps?" she suggests to M'lo, taking a little step away. Hurry, before he asks questions!
"Gemstone it is," he agrees. Irelanth is already lumbering closer to them, his wings held aloft and eyes whirling a happy blue. M'lo scrambles up his dragon's straps, but politely waits for the others to mount up, and for Th'ero to give the lift-off signal.

Th'ero looks equally surprised both by M'lo's easy acceptance to flying straight and to the location Kimmila suggests. But rather than balk, he simply… goes with it. Awkwardly. "Gemstone." The Weyrleader agrees briskly, also stepping back but also because by then Velokraeth has roused himself, coming down to land in a less cramped spot of the courtyard, where he goes about nuzzling his stunted forearms in his unusual habit while he waits for his rider to gather his wits and mount up already. "I leave the pace for Kimmila or yourself, M'lo, to set." he murmurs, leaving it between the bluerider and Weyrsecond to deliberate the best path back, though his gaze seems to linger longest on his Weyrmate before he's turning away to tromp through the snows. Th'ero then fishes out his shaded goggles (finally) and slips them on before mounting up Velokraeth's straps. Once all are settled in and the path and pace decided upon, the Weyrleader does give the signal to lift-off and Velokraeth will spring up to join his brethren up in the skies, though pointedly taking up the rear. He's a small, stunted bronze but he's still not /that/ agile in the air.

Fort Weyr - Gemstone Tavern
The dim lighting by the flicker of candles lining the walls is enough to offer a view of a room decorated in such a way as to be tastefully appealing. Each piece of furniture and decoration is chosen to accent another piece, and so on and so forth, matching and tying the whole room together in a theme that's separate, and yet at the same time unified. Tables line one wall, dimly lit by candles hanging in sconces all along. The bar along the far right wall is made of richly toned mahogany, tooled by a master and polished to shine with the soft glow of wood at its finest.
Candles strategically placed add to the atmosphere, accenting, punctuating. Towards the back is an open fireplace, constantly burning with a bright light, warming the tavern on cold nights and serving as a gathering place for patrons' story-tellings. Across the room, lush pillows and soft-covered floors promote relaxation at ease. Just before the pillows is a long stage, so full of its own vigor and memory - nicks here, marks there, scuffs from footware and other things - that it's possible to imagine the shows put on for the patrons without necessarily seeing the performances.

Kimmila sets the pace back, steady but swift, regardless of if M'lo flies with them or decides to between it back home. Landing in the bowl, Varmiroth soars up to the star stones while Kimmila leads the way to the Gemstone. Inside its blessed warmth she exhales and begins to remove her riding goggles and jacket, briefly having to fight with a sleeve when it turns itself inside out and does not want to relinquish its grip on her arm. So there's some of that awkward shake shake SHAKE going on, until it's off and hung to dry and warm up, and she's heading for their favored table in the back, taking the seat to the right of the one that faces the entire room.

M'lo is already there, yep. He /betweened/ it, and got the establishment to furnish them with steaming hot food and a nice bottle of wine. There are three wine glasses filled and waiting. M'lo wisely chose one of the chairs that Th'ero wouldn't want, so he's effectively sitting across from Kimmila. "Good to see you made it in one piece," he says cheerfully. "I can't /imagine/ why you two would want to fly straight. all that cold… all that glare from the snow. Mmm," he hums. "Well, whatever. You're here, now. Have some food," he offers. What's there? Why, all of her favorites, and a good helping of sweets besides. And of course, the wine.

Velokraeth lands in the bowl as well, once more lingering just long enough for Th'ero to dismount before springing up again and joining Varmiroth on the star stones, should the blue not reject his company. The pale bronze loves the heights, after all, to observe and best done with another, rather than alone, right? The Weyrleader does not tarry in walking to the Gemstone, just as eager to get out of the cold. He does not have the same battle as Kimmila does with his riding jacket, though he seems to take more time in kicking and brushing the snow from his boots. Then his jacket is hung up and he's striding over to join her at the usual spot and slipping into his accustomed seat by her side and only once he's settled himself does he realize that M'lo has beaten them all to the punch and has already arranged for warm food and wine. Wine. Oh no. Th'ero at least shows no visible reaction, beyond a slight tension in his shoulders and posture, but the small smile he gives M'lo is genuine enough in nature. "It can be relaxing," he says cryptically. "Cold or not." Right. The food is given a cursory glance, though he seems to wait on Kimmila to make her selection first. The sweets will likely be ignored by the Weyrleader, having never been one to favor them.

Kimmila shrugs a bit as she sits down and eyes the spread, brows furrowing slightly. "Thanks, M'lo," she murmurs. And then waves the serving girl over. Rude, much? "Spiced cider, regular," she orders. Non-alcoholic! And as the serving girl goes to fill that order, Kimmila makes her selection of some of the warm bread and a bowl of stew, and she hesitates before also drawing a slice of pie towards herself. "Is there clotted cream?" Because she is suddenly /starving/. As for flying straight, well. Th'ero answered that nicely, so she doesn't discuss it any more.

"Oh, sure," M'lo says to Th'ero. Somehow, though, even though his expression and tone of voice are bright and perfectly cheerful, there's no doubt that he doesn't believe the Weyrleader for a second. "There's nothing like frigid temperatures for an extended flight under the merciless glare of the sun, with the freezing wind whistling in your ears, ice coating you from head to toe, to /relax/." He nods at Kimmila's thanks, and watches with avid interest as she orders the cider, and takes that pie. There is clotted cream, which he doles out for her, a generous helping. "So," he says conversationally. "I'm no dummy. I /know/." He glances significantly at her mid-section. "Ah, I only feel silly not to have realized it before now. But… this is your business, so if you don't wanna tell anyone until it's time to cut the umbilical cord, that's your choice." He grins between them. "Congratulations. If you need help or advice, I'm more than happy."

And look at Th'ero, being polite to allow his suddenly starving weyrmate first dibs on all the food. There's a notable glance given to the serving girl, perhaps a bit of a wince, as the Weyrleader knows that while it wasn't meant to be rude, it's certainly going to make things obvious. Never mind that M'lo is already suspicious and not believing a word that the bronzerider utters. Wise man. "No need to be snarky about it," Th'ero points out crisply, though from the way his mouth twists upwards, it's all taken in jest. Reaching for some of the wine, or his glass at least, Th'ero stares at M'lo when the Weyrsecond calls them out on what they're still trying to keep so low key. Glancing towards Kimmila, he seems to gauge her reaction before he says anything, though he's taking a rather generous sip of his drink — or more like knocking back half of it.

Kimmila freezes when M'lo states the obvious, but when he mentions cutting the cord, she visibly shudders and then frowns at her pie. As if it's the pie's fault they were found out. So she pushes it away and slumps a bit in her seat, accepting the cider and cradling it, taking a sip before she snorts. "It's not public knowledge, no." But it was only a matter of time before M'lo figured it out, since they all work together. Glancing at Th'ero, then her green eyes flick back to the Weyrsecond and she smirks. "Know any good fostering families?" It's supposed to be a joke, but probably falls rather flat.

M'lo chuckles a little bit when Th'ero grins at his teasing. He sobers, though, when Kimmila seems so upset. Glancing at Th'ero, he seems like he doesn't know what to say for a while. "Well," he pulls out slowly. "If you and Th'ero don't want to parent your child, why not ask your mother? Elara's a fine woman, and family. She raised you and your siblings well." He shrugs a little. "We never really seriously considered fostering, so I couldn't give you any recommendations, on that front."

Th'ero's shoulders drop a little too, that tension gone though another sort works it's way in soon enough, his posture is a little to straight still and all in all the Weyrleader just looks uncomfortable but trying to mask it. As Kimmila pushes the pie away, he gives her a sidelong look but does not force it and the hand that may have once pushed the plate back to insist instead comes to rest lightly on her leg beneath the table, out of sight. "Elara may not be able to, though… we have considered that option." Th'ero says slowly, hesitantly. Is that saying too much? If there is more to be said on the matter, it will be up for the bluerider to fill it in. He doesn't seem to flinch from Kimmila mentioning help with foster families, only giving her another quick look as her attempt for a joke falls a little flat. "It's appreciated all the same for the suggestion…" he adds to M'lo, smirking a little as well before he lifts his wine to take a smaller sip this time.

Kimmila dips the bread into the stew and takes a bite, eyes flicking to Th'ero when he rests his hand on her leg beneath the table. "We've considered that, yes," she murmurs, agreeing with Th'ero. "Well if you hear of anyone, let us know? I'm…we're not exactly in tune with the…kid…culture of the weyr." She wouldn't know where to /begin/ finding a foster family. Stalking the nursery? 'Hey, wanna baby?'

M'lo serves himself a plate of the food and has a few bites while he considers this. "Have you, er, considered trying to raise it yourselves?" he asks gently. "Perhaps this time, you will bond. Or even if you don't, Th'ero could." He gives Th'ero a questioning look. "This is your first child, right? Are you sure you want to commit yourself to giving it away, without at least seeing it, first? You might find you want to be a father. I'm speaking from experience." The whole time his voice is gentle, he's trying not to upset either of them, but just see what all of the options are.

Th'ero can only look a touch sheepish when Kimmila admits their woeful lack for being in the loop with the child culture of the Weyr and yet the bronzerider would have it no other way. So he is equally as clueless where to start, though he will find a way. Ignoring the food still, despite the opportunity being there for him to help himself, the Weyrleader instead focuses on M'lo with a heavy, narrowed stare. Even though the Weyrsecond tried to be gentle, the sheer awkwardness of the discussion has the other man's hackles up and defensive. But then, Th'ero has /always/ been touchy under most circumstances. "No," he says bluntly and with a slight sigh, setting his wine glass down while his other hand will likely tighten its grip, still hidden, on Kimmila's leg. "We both agreed we do not have the time," And it's probably a lot more in depth than that, but one look can tell anyone that Th'ero is not the sort to open up much, if at all, on his personal life. He grimaces then and shakes his head, "It is my first and yes, I am committed to that." he admits without a hint of regret in his tone and if any of the words M'lo spoke sunk in, the bronzerider is masking them very, very well.

Kimmila looks at M'lo for a moment, and then turns her head to listen attentively to Th'ero's answer. One of her hands uncurls from her mug to slip beneath the table, covering his hand and squeezing tightly. Her brows furrow slightly, studying her weyrmate, and then she nods. "We don't have the time, either of us. Not with our duties and obligations to Fort." And to each other, but that's mushy so she doesn't say that. "Which is a better answer, I guess, to the question of why I was asking how you did it. But, no, we haven't considered trying to raise it ourselves. It'd be impossible."

"Not impossible," M'lo opines quietly. "But this is your choice. It's not my place - or anyone else's - to talk you out of it. Better that the baby should go to loving parents who feel they have the time and resources to devote, than to parents who may end up resenting it for being an enormous time-suck. Which they totally are." There's no denying that. He has a long drink of his wine and a few more bites of his food. "What about friends?" he asks curiously. "Do either of you have close friends you think would do a good job raising it?"

Th'ero calms a little under Kimmila's hidden touch, enough that the Weyrleader is no longer bristling so defensively, both for his sake and hers. "Exactly," he replies a touch flatly towards M'lo, neatly wrapping up that discussion with a single word. Giving his weyrmate a brief glance once more, he simply shakes his head. "None that I can think of off the top of my head. There is one… but no. I would not consider it. He is a Weyrleader too and busy with his own duties and family." Never mind that Th'ero's /sister/ is the Western Weyrleader's mate. One would think he'd foster with family and yet he's strangely not brought it up and it's probably best left untouched.

Kimmila looks momentarily confused, as if the concept of 'friends' is somewhat foreign to her. And then at Th'ero's words she snorts, and gives a single, flat, "No," before taking another bite of her stew, one handed. "No, we don't know anyone. Perhaps my mother is our best hope, if she's able…"

"Well, if you can't find anyone," M'lo says. "You can always just, er, turn it over to the Weyr nannies. It wouldn't be the first child to grow up in the Brat Caves." This is quite true - many a flight-baby has been raised by the nannies, who dote on the children as if they were their own. "It's like have twenty or thirty siblings and nine or ten parents," he says. "Chaotic, but loving."

"Perhaps," Th'ero agrees though now he does sound a touch reluctant, "It would be a suitable alternative if we find no foster family." And their only choice, really. Kimmila is given another look and this time the Weyrleader seems to smile vaguely for her snort and reply. "We will speak to Elara when the time comes," he murmurs quietly and then reaches again for more wine. Boy, does he need it.

Kimmila looks longingly at the wine and takes a sip of her cider instead. She frowns a bit though, shaking her head. "We'll find a foster family." Seems that, as disinterested in the child as she is, she doesn't want to just dump it in the brat caves.

"You could always hire a nanny, too," M'lo says. "You know. A live-in nanny. She'd take care of it, and you could involve yourself as much or as little as you wanted. We had a nanny for a while, when the girls and Eldann were babies. She was a huge help." Now he's just throwing out options.

Th'ero normally wouldn't indulge in the wine, not in front of Kimmila, but as M'lo had offered to begin with… he wasn't about to refuse outright. And no, there will not be any dumping of the child to the caverns. He may show little interest in the raising of the child, but he has /some/ pride in the fact that it is theirs and his first. "I… don't know if that would work either. But another alternative to consider." he says slowly, his gaze darting back to the brownrider as he lifts his glass again, lips pressed into a firm line. He can truly, in some way, appreciate M'lo's help and for the opinions. But all the same, the Weyrleader is a little uncomfortable again and his gaze will drift back to Kimmila once more. "We're both… very private, with our lives."

Kimmila frowns at M'lo, her brows furrowing slightly. "I don't want the child living with us. That's the whole point of fostering. So we don't have to deal with it." Harsh. "So a nanny wouldn't help us at all." And she glances at Th'ero to see if he agrees, and she nods. "Very private, but M'lo knows that." Poor guy.

M'lo nods a couple of times at Th'ero, observing the man's tight lips and stiff body-language. At Kimmila's frowm, and her harsh words, his chewing slows, and then stops. "Well…" he says. "I'll leave you two alone, then. I have paperwork to finish so I can get home to my family." He wipes his face, finishes off his glass of wine, and stands to go.

Th'ero's hand, still resting on Kimmila's leg and hidden, squeezes gently. Easy, easy. "It is something else to consider but… very much a last resort if no suitable foster family can be found." he murmurs and takes another slow sip of his wine. Frowning a little as M'lo stands to leave, the Weyrleader clears his throat and slowly stands as well, but only to be polite. "My thanks again, M'lo, for joining us to Fort Hold. It was appreciated to have another present for the discussions." Which is Th'ero-speak for: he values the Weyrsecond's opinions and time and hopes he has a good rest of the day. Hard to read all of that in his words, but it's there for those who can.

Kimmila looks a little surprised when M'lo rises, but she doesn't question it. Nor does she get up either, but only because she's reaching for that pie again. "Yes, thanks for going with us," she adds with a small smile. "And for the food." And the wine she can't have but Th'ero seemed to enjoy. "See you around."

"Thank you for having me along," M'lo says, slightly stiffly. He nods to each of them and then scoots out the door, stopping only long enough to don his winter garb and make sure his scarf isn't draggin behind him.

"Of course," Th'ero replies, looking a touch baffled for M'lo's remark but then simply shaking his head. Perhaps he will have to talk privately some day with the Weyrsecond, though they're liable to at least discuss the reports to come in. Once the brownrider has left, the Weyrleader takes his seat again and this time he's slipping an arm behind Kimmila's lower back if he can manage it or if she even allows it. Only now does he seem to take some interest in the food, reaching for a small heel of bread and picking at it idle, as he allows the silence to settle comfortably between them. It's not awkward or tense, but simply comfortable, prone to occur between this pair from time to time. Th'ero will only disrupt it when a thought crosses his mind and eventually one does. A neutral topic. "Have you been to see the Weyrlings, lately?" he asks softly.

Kimmila watches M'lo go and slumps a bit in her seat, not protesting Th'ero's arm behind her. As she finishes her stew and starts in on the pie once more, she shakes her head a bit. "Do you think we insulted him?" she mutters under her breath. And then she latches onto the topic of weyrlings. "Not in a few days, no. Hopefully they've been working with Cro."

"I am not sure," Th'ero replies in a low and hesitant tone of voice, brows knitting together. "Perhaps. But that is to be expected, I suppose. Everyone has their own… views and opinions. He reminds me of Zi'on, in the sense that he too is so focused on family. But it is simply not my way… or ours. And there is nothing wrong in that, either," he points out softly, turning his head down to speak the words more or less closer to her ear. Not that Gemstone is particularly overcrowded at the moment and the spot that Kimmila has chosen, their usual one, is tucked away far enough to be almost considered "private". "Mhm. Hopefully they have, though I do not doubt M'icha's capabilities in handling Crosenturath's… unique quirks." Chaotic, destructive, quirks.

Kimmila frowns slightly. "They do," she agrees softly. "And ours are as valid as his. But I don't think he agrees with our way of doing things at all." Then she shrugs, taking a bite of the pie. "But oh well. We're not getting a nanny. Nor am I overly fond of the idea of the brat caves. It's not…the child won't be an orphan. It needs a family. Just not…us." To Crosenturath, she just nods a bit with a small smile. "And if he can't figure it out, someone else will. They'll get it sorted."

"Which is well within his rights," Th'ero murmurs with a frown of his own, "And I suppose there are likely some out there who think we're all off our rockers for our views. It simply the way of things. You cannot please all whom you meet and I am certainly not about to change my ways. They are who I am, as much as how your views make you who you are." His hold on her tightens a little, drawing her just that much more closer to his side but not by much. It's meant to be reassuring and comforting though, while the Weyrleader continues to seem more focused in finishing the rest of his wine. "No, Wingmate. I know. And I agree… Our child will not be an orphan. It will just not be us who raise him. It has always been the way of the Weyrs, between riders. Most riders." There's a low chuckle then and a slight shake of his head as he sets his now empty wine glass down, "Mhm, they will. Or they will be stuck as Weyrlings for some Turns to come and I don't think any of us wish that, Crostenturath and Harmony included."

Kimmila nods slightly, finishing off the pie and then going as far as to briefly lean against his shoulder. It's short lived though, as she sits up and reaches for some bread. "Though," she says slowly, "it's starting to feel like fostering has become the exception, rather than the rule. Perhaps it's because there's no more thread, but…it seems like a lot more riders are raising their own children. My mother, M'lo and Ely…Are Zi'on and Kiena planning to foster? I feel…well. Judged," she admits with a frown. "Not that it changes anything. I know for a fact that our child will have a much higher quality of life without us raising it. And that's what's important - that the kid has the best life possible." Then she winces, with a low laugh. "I don't think /anyone/ wants them to be in weyrlinghood longer than the rest of them."

Th'ero has barely touched his piece of bread and has in fact left it to sit forlornly on it's plate, with a few pieces picked and shredded from it. Classic for this man, to shred his food and yet not take a single bite. "Perhaps. But that is /there/ choice to do so. Ours is to simply honor an age old tradition." he murmurs and there is a faint shrug of his shoulders, only to grimace. "I have no idea what my sister's plans are. She has not exactly been forthcoming with details. Though Zi'on did mention it. So perhaps it is being considered." He frowns heavily, ready to reply defensively to her claim and yet… he cannot. Not when he felt similarily judged. Why sugar coat it? "Unfortunately that will occur at times. Unintentionally by most, perhaps some intentionally. But you cannot let it upset you so, Weyrmate. You need to focus on your own happiness," Normally now, he would embrace her and he almost does, but catches himself short. Nodding his head, he murmurs again, low and soft, by her ear. "Exactly. We know what is best and that is all that matters in the end. The child will not be wanting for love and family," he says firmly and then smiles a small smile at her low laughter. "Agreed," he muses with a soft chuckle. "Which is why M'icha will have them on the right track. Or enough to at least pass…" Can't ask for total perfection, right?

Kimmila nods her head slightly. "Duty to dragon, duty to weyr…/then/ family," she murmurs, her voice dropping as well. Though he knows as well as she does that those three are constantly in flux. "Mmm. I was thinking of going to visit, when I'm able to between during my second trimester." Reaching beneath the table again, she seeks his hand. "I'm sure it will. I'm quite familiar with judgement," she adds with a small smirk. "Though I'll admit I've enjoyed not being so judged in recent months. But you're right. Our happiness is paramount. And no, the child won't be. I…I couldn't bear it to have another Ziani. A child constantly wondering where I was, or so A'ven said…best to not have it be the norm that I'm there. Have it be a bonus. A surprise, rather than an expectation."

Th'ero nods his head slowly in agreement, knowing full well that those three are in constant flux and accepts it as such for it is much the same in him. "Oh? To Western?" he asks curiously and reaches for her hand in turn, gripping it firmly while his other arm still remains wrapped around her. Now there is no denying that the Weyrleader obviously has his attentions on Kimmila, let alone showing some hints of affection for the bluerider. So he does have emotions! And a heart! "If anyone becomes too overly judgemental…" Th'ero begins slowly, only to let the obvious suggestion linger. She will tell him? His hold on her tightens a little more and the look he gives her, he tries to convey reassurance and comfort without finding the usual outlets of touch that he would use at this point. "It won't be the same." Th'ero promises in a quiet voice, "We are fostering, yes. But that does not mean it cannot learn who it's true parents are when the time comes."
Kimmila nods, "To Western. Just to…see how she's doing. She and I are…somewhat similar. I wonder if pregnancy and motherhood are similar as well." At his trailed off sentence she gives him a crooked grin. "I'll punch them?" Please? Say she can? Leaning against him once more, she shows that she too can be affectionate, though it's brief before she's sitting up once more. "We'll play it by ear," she murmurs, "and just see how things go. If I have my way," and her eyes dart briefly up to his hair, "there will be no doubt whose child it is."

"Oh?" Th'ero makes a low sound in his throat, somewhat thoughtful, somewhat unsure. "If her letters are any indication, Kiena's not exactly… receptive about it. She hardly seems overly excited." So perhaps there is a kindred link between his sister and Kimmila. "Kiena is due soon, if the time Zi'on gave me is correct." he murmurs and perhaps a touch guiltily. It's not like he is bound to Fort, so why hasn't the Weyrleader gone? Th'ero laughs, brief but genuinely, "Depends on who it is insulting you. But if they truly are asking for it, you /can/ slap them. No punching." And then they can all blame it on the hormones. Slaps are perfectly acceptable social gestures right? When she sits up again, Th'ero leans back a little as well. No one saw that, right? Right. "Your way?" Th'ero drawls in a musing tone, missing the obvious point of course, looking down at her as she looks up at his hair.

Kimmila chuckles quietly, with sympathy in her tone. "Then I should go visit," she murmurs. "You know, when M'lo asked about friends, the only friend I could think of for myself was Kiena." Which is really kind of sad, since Kimm and Kiena are barely acquaintances. "You should go," she murmurs. "After the birth." And then she laughs, flexing her free hand. "Slap? Excellent." Can she get that in writing? "Mmmhmm," she murmurs, and leans in to whisper very softly so no one else can hear. "I am hoping the child has your hair."

Th'ero blinks, looking genuinely surprised. "Truly?" he asks her gently and then smirks, adding in his own quiet voice. "I only could think of Zi'on. Anyone else… I do not know well enough and certainly not to call them friend." he admits and then starts a little. "I… do not think that I'd be welcomed, Kimmila. You know how Kiena is." he remarks and it's only the honest truth. Last thing he would want is to upset his sister at such a crucial time. At her laugh though, he smiles again as if that alone brings him great joy. She doesn't have it in writing, but she has his word. Leaning his head down, he then flushes a little at her whispered words and begins to chuckle heartily. "What, this curly and unruly mess?" he whispers back, teasingly and yet flattered all the same.

Kimmila nods. "Truly," she admits. "Though I do get along fairly well with some of the Weyrlings…perhaps there's friendships to be made there. But I'm not holding my breath. Nor would any of them foster a child." She wouldn't even ask. "I think you should go anyway. Ask mother what an appropriate baby birth present is. Zi'on will be happy you went, if nothing else." And then she's grinning, and she actually reaches up to briefly move a curl away from his forehead. PDA alert! Surely that rider at the bar that just choked on his drink was a coincidence. "Yes," she says firmly, grin crooked and eyes bright.

"The Weyrlings do seem to listen to you, as well." Th'ero points out, almost sounding amused even though he shakes his head again. "You may very well forge some friendships there or the start of some. And even if they /wanted/ to, they could not." For very obvious reasons. When she insists he goes, the bronzerider only snorts. "I suppose. Kiena may not see me, but at least Zi'on will be happy… Though I am almost reluctant for THAT visit as well." So much awkwardness to be had, but only because the Weyrleader allows the Western Weyrleader to get to him so easily. Avert your eyes! Because Th'ero is grinning down at her fondly and perhaps that rider might choke on his drink twice for the brief show of affection and love between the pair. "Mhm, well if you enjoy it so much then I won't protest that wish," he drawls, eyes equally as bright with amusement.

Kimmila chuckles. "I'll admit I'm enjoying my little lessons and excursions with them. It's…entertaining." Then she's tilting her head, giving him a curious look. "Reluctant to see Zi'on? If…you are reluctant to see him, then…why is he your friend at all?" She returns that smiling look, while the rider's wingmate has to thump him on the back and ask if he's had too much to drink. "Good," Kimmila says, reaching out to finish her cider. "Well, today has been productive I think," she muses thoughtfully.

"Entertaining?" Th'ero can't help but drawl teasingly, having been present to witness a few. The Weyrleader has never actively participated, but he's seen enough that part of him does agree with her. Shaking his head, he smirks a little and says in a chuckling tone, "It's not so simple, Kimmila. There are parts of Zi'on's personality that I obviously enjoy and tolerate enough for a friendship to form. And there's enough of a past between us too. But there ARE some quirks of his that have my teeth on edge… You know of some of them." Which he may not voice here, just to save the poor Western's bronzerider's reputation when he cannot be here to defend himself. Th'ero is oblivious to those two other riders, which is a blessing since he would clam up entirely otherwise. "Productive," he agrees with a drawling tone, almost sarcastic but not quite. "Hopefully this issue with Gold Hill can be resolved quickly enough…"

Kimmila nods, "Very entertaining. It's fun to challenge them and see what they do in response." It's also fun that she doesn't have to do it if she doesn't want to. Ahh, the blessings of her unique position. "Mmm. Yes, I do know of some of them," she agrees with a small frown. Which only deepens all the more, accompanied by a soft snort. "I certainly hope it can be. If they don't post more guards, what then? We just leave them be and increase our sweeps just in case?"

"They need that challenge. M'icha agrees and I would not be surprised if he'd be, ah… borrowing some of your ideas for future classes," Th'ero remarks with a smirk that borders on a smile. Seems Kimmila may have found another acquaintance with the Weyrlingmaster? Though it's hard /not/ to get along with that bluerider, once you got beyond his barbed comments and quirks. "Sometimes a friendship is built upon the good, despite some of the bad." he adds as well, though it may not help the discussion regarding Th'ero's friendship with Zi'on. "And, he IS the weyrmate of my sister. If I ever want to speak with her again…" But he chuckles at this, as if he doesn't quite believe it, whatever it is that he is implying. "That may be all we CAN do. We cannot demand anything more of Gold Hill or of Fort Hold. So our hands will be tied in the matter… but we do not have to sweep the issue aside either." Which the Weyrleader never would. He let the Holds slip under his radar once and that allowed a man like Laris to gain his start.

Kimmila chuckles, but looks a bit surprised. "Really? Well…that's flattering. And yeah, I guess you kind of have to maintain some sort of relationship with him." Though is it ironic that Th'ero's relationship with his sister's weyrmate is better than the relationship he has with his sister. "Mmm, it's just frustrating," she mutters. "If something happens I will take no pleasure in saying 'I told you so.'" Well. Maybe a /little/ pleasure.

That's just how Irondell's roll? Th'ero doesn't reflect much on it though, turning instead to her flattered look when he speaks of M'icha's outlooks on Kimmila's ideas. "Yes, really. They're good ideas. And the Weyrling's have taken to them very well, or so the reports say. And while I am usually so strict on tradition, I find that… Weyrlinghood training DOES need to change. Adapt. Conform to the class, rather than just be so.. canned. We are no longer compressed for time, trying to crank out riders in time for Threadfall," he murmurs thoughtfully and then at her admiting the frustration behind Gold Hill, Th'ero leans over to gently kiss her, light and brief and oh-so chaste like but it's a very rare display all the same. Did Between just get warm? And that rider might just have to toss up his hands and leave at this point. "Do not let it stress you too much, Wingmate. We can only do so much. And," he adds with a low chuckle. "As you said, we can only tell them "I told you so" when things backfire on them."

Kimmila nods, "It really does need to adapt. There's nothing beneficial about trying to cram everyone through the same training. They're not all alike. This group is /especially/ stubborn and willful and imaginative. They need challenges." She's stunned to silence when he kisses her - in PUBLIC - and she can only blink at him, at a loss for words. Ubuh? Blink. Blink blink.

"Exactly. M'icha knows this, as does most of his assistants and you… so your ideas have been most welcomed. And I have no issues with the lot of you finding innovative ways to keep them in line. I was good, /solid/ and balanced rider pairs from this lot." Th'ero admits with a slightly crooked smile. Does this mean the Weyrleader has expectations? Of course he would. Then he's gone an stunned his own weyrmate into silence and he can only stare at Kimmila, a little baffled. What? Clearing his throat, he murmurs a hasty, "Sorry." Awkward? Now he's likely questioning whatever possessed him to do that in the first place.

Kimmila snaps out of it with a slowly growing smile, and she reaches up to brush hair away from his face once more. "Let's go home, wingmate," she murmurs, rising to her feet and scooting back her chair in the process. "Where there are fewer eyes watching to churn the gossip mills." Though this gossip is likely to be positive - Th'ero DOES feel emotion! Gasp.

Th'ero doesn't flinch or pull away from her touch when she reaches up to brush aside his hair again, though he may cast a quick, darting look about the tavern. At Kimmila's murmured suggestion though, he smiles another one of his small smiles and slowly rises to his feet as well. "Agreed," he murmurs and without another word he takes her arm when she is ready and walks with her to where they left their jackets. He'll pass hers over first, then slip his own on before fastening it and then opening the door, for both of them to slip out into the cold air once more and back to his weyr.

'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.