1629, Sea Season, Disorder Week
In Boldhome, Sacred Time has ended with Mellia’s wedding. Varanis, newly a Wind Lord, has been busy at the Temples of Vinga and Orlanth. There has not been a lot of time for loved ones.
WARNING: This is romantic and fluffy and syrupy sweet and includes kissing. Read at your own peril.
Strange things doubtless happen in the Temple of Orlanth. Stranger things possibly happen outside. It is fairly strange, by normal standards, for Varanis to emerge from the Temple, likely after a long day of doing… Vingan Things… to find Serala waiting for her. And it’s a Serala not actually smelling of horses and wearing leather, instead it is a Serala who is dressed up in an elegant silk tunic and skirt, the only leather on show being her boots. And even they aren’t her usual riding boots, but more decorative things. And she’s got a bunch of sweet smelling flowers.
Is this… romance, Grazelander style?
“Walk you home, stranger?”
Varanis blinks in astonishment. “Who are you and what have you done with my Serala?” she demands, though her gaze is warm and teasing.
For her part, Varanis is dressed in her armour, helmet tucked under one arm. Her plaits are frizzy, but holding. Her cheeks are flushed. The Vingan’s heavy fur winter cloak has been replaced for the rich blue wool that she favours most of the year. She strides up to Serala to take up her hand and plant a kiss on her lover’s palm. She smells nose-wrinklingly like armour, damp sheep, dried sweat.
“Your Serala thought you deserved to have someone on your arm who looks like she belongs there on occasion,” the Grazelander replies, smiling and then leans in to brush her lips to the Vingan’s in the lightest of touches. “I thought we could walk together. Home, if you like. The baths, or the market, or the gardens, or wherever you prefer.” Below the light, Varanis senses very slight tenseness in Serala. Nothing major, but there is a slight sense, perhaps, of there being a ‘but’ behind the effort that has been put in. She’s not really always the best at being subtle, this is about as close as she comes.
Varanis’ eyes narrow ever so slightly, as if she is trying to figure out a riddle. She considers. “I should be worthy to be on your arm too then,” she says after a moment. “Perhaps back to the house and I can wash up in the tub quickly and then decide where it is we’d like to walk?”
The tub at the house is a small affair, more an overgrown bucket than a bath. It lives in the kitchen and is suitable for getting clean, thought the children can quite happily splash about it in and someone as petite as Mellia can even sit almost comfortably. For Varanis, it is expedient. A chance at cleanliness that is quick, rather than luxurious.
Serala hooks her arm through Varanis’, and leans in against her, as much companionable as lover-like as she strolls along. “Crap. I missed an opportunity there,” she finally notes. “I should have said you are always worthy to be on my arm. Can we perhaps pretend I thought to say that at the time, rather than ten minutes too late?” She flashes a grin towards the other woman, a little abashed, but still unrepentant. “And yes, there was no-one at the house other than the servants when I left to come over here, so we should be able to splash water around and make a mess without anyone knowing who did it… We can blame Finarvi and run away!”
Varanis laughs. “Let’s go take over the kitchen for a while then, though we’ll have to mop up any water we splash. Poor Yehna doesn’t need more mess and I don’t want to risk driving away the new servants.” She manages to match her pace to Serala’s, though the tension in her suggests she’s resisting the urge to break into a run.
Serala might not be good at reading people in general, but she is pretty good at reading the Vingan. And, as with Finarvi, Varanis is one of the few people who get to really see Serala’s mischevious side. She slows her strides a little more, quite deliberately meandering now, even as she turns her head towards Varanis with a sweet smile. “Did you have any plans for this evening? Otherwise, I thought the gardens.” She flares her nostrils slightly, “I don’t smell any incoming rain at the moment..?” She looks a little quizzically on your direction, as though to get your feedback on her read.
Varanis sniffs at the air, then laughs ruefully. “I don’t smell rain, but I do smell flowers and myself. I’ll not be sneaking up on anyone with ears to hear and a nose to smell.” Her eyes gleam with her happiness. “I never expected Boldhome to become home this way, but it’s good. So very good.” She turns her bright smile on Serala and adds, “If you keep dragging your feet like that, I’m going to have to carry you home!”
“Promises, promises,” Serala teases back, but she does pick up the pace, happy how that she has been ‘caught’. “I’m not sure Boldhome will ever manage to be home-home to me, but it’s good that you have a place here. Far closer than Esrolia.” She pauses a little, then wrinkles her nose, deciding to get it out of the way. “I have to leave for a while.” she blurts out. “Hopefully not long. But I wanted to be sure you heard it from me.”
Varanis’ face falls. “I’d hoped you might come with us on Mellia’s quest for a Wyter. It is bound to be a gentler affair than Berra’s was.” She sighs. “Your queen calls? Or your grandfather?”
“My Queen. Or rather, Tennebris… the political Blob… however you want to put it. Fin and I are to take some captured Lunar mounts to Prax as gifts to various worthies there. It should not take too long, or be too difficult. But you know how it is. When one is ordered, it can be difficult to refuse. Now, if it was Kallyr doing the ordering, then maybe… But no.” The Grazelander sighs softly, “On this occasion, I must bend to the will of those who play the game to its fullest, as opposed to my unwilling dabbling.” She reiterates hopefully, “It won’t be too long. Just a glorified messenger duty.”
Varanis begins, “I could petition him to go with you…” but the momentary hope slips away, “but I am honour-bound to go with Mellia. Lightbringer and kin – two ties that bind firmly.” She sighs again. “How long do we have before you go?”
Serala pauses and turns to hug her lover, sweat and all. “A few days. Long enough to be fair… little enough to be sure we make the most of the time.” She hushes then, and finishes the rest of the walk to the house in silence. She apparently has somewhere to be, and even while the Vingan bathes, she paces restlessly, occasionally peeping out of the door to check the state of the sun.
Varanis is speedy with her scrubbing, choosing to use cold water rather than wait for pots to heat. It isn’t long before she is clean and dressed in a finely embroidered wool tunic and the Vingan-style trews and skirt. She has kept her jewellery simple, choosing only the heavy gold arm ring Kallyr gave her to acknowledge their kinship and glittering spirals of gold for her ears. She stands in the kitchen before Serala, arms outstretched and eyes shining. “Am I worthy of you, fair Grazelander? Golden-lance and thane of Apple Lane? Vampire slayer? You who are the bright light of my sky. Am I worthy of you?”
The Grazelander shakes her head slightly, pacing towards Varanis to stand just out of reach, taking the time to really examine her. “You, most beauteous Vingan, stole my heart when I thought I had it safely caged forever. To others, you are the Lady Varanis, kin to Kallyr and the epitome of all that is noble and good. To me?” She finally steps into reach, lifting her fingers to trail over her cheek. “To me, you are my love and my life, and my heart would be bereft without the knowledge of you in the world. Yes, my beloved. You are more than worthy of me.” She drops into a deep curtsey, a gesture she will bestow on no other, “Would you do me the honour of accompanying me to the gardens this eve, where we may watch the sun set in each other’s arms.” Rising, she preens just a little, “And I can make everyone rightfully jealous of the fact it is my company that you keep.”
Varanis closes the distance between them with alacrity, attempting to sweep Serala up into her arms, to carry her out into the garden. There’s an awkward moment, when Varanis realizes her hands are full and the door to the garden is closed. She laughs and looks at Serala. “Well… how about you open it?”
“Teamwork. There is always teamwork in the best relationships.” Serala agrees, as she carefully reaches to open the door, not wanting to overbalance them.
And when they step through the door, it is apparent that Serala has been busy; a picnic is laid, with expensive wine, meats and fruits, and even flowers, carefully placed at the centre of a wool blanket, a high quality one, dyed so closely to the colour of your hair that the suspicious might think Serala had been taking strands from Varanis’ comb to get matched.
“For tonight, just us. What else do we really need?” asks the Yelmalian.
“Just each other,” breathes her lover, before turning her head to kiss Serala. Eventually, she lets the other woman down to stand on her own and together they sit down to share food and wine. “This is such a beautiful gift, beloved,” Varanis says. Her hand strokes the blanket as she takes in everything that has been laid out.
Serala smiles, “I might be more inclined to wool and leather than silks and gold, but that doesn’t mean quality can’t speak for itself.” Her grey eyes rest on Varanis with the words; apparently in her world comparing a lover to high quality goods is proper-romantic-talk. She really is a barbarian at heart.
“I love wool as much as silk,” Varanis says. “Each has its own merits and each makes our lives better. And they are best of all when brought together.”
Serala lifts a piece of fruit and holds it to the Esrolian’s lips. “True,” she agrees. “Where would be the joy if we were all little copies of one another. It is finding, and embracing, the differences that gives life its spice. Not to mention the partings and the rejoinings…” She shifts around, stealing a kiss and leaning in. “You don’t mind… being a Windlord now… that I can’t measure up? Maybe one day I will be a Light Daughter, but it is in the far future, I fear. Until then… will I be enough.” She pauses, laughs, and rephrases, “Well, not ‘enough’, we both know that exclusivity when apart is not … well. You know what I mean. I hope you know what I mean.” She grumbles a little at herself in Pure Horse Tongue, still not feeling eloquent enough in Tradetalk to get across what she means at times.
Varanis returns the kiss, then leans back to stare earnestly into Serala’s eyes. “I may seek solace with others, a bit of joy against the dark, but my love is yours, Golden Hawk. Serala, you don’t need rank granted by temples or queens to rule my heart.”
“I would never begrudge you companionship,” Serala says reassuringly, before winking and pressing her hand lightly to her stomach. “It’s not like I haven’t done the same. You bring me joy. You bring me friendship. You are the light that I thought was only in the great sky-dome. And I will always return to you.”
Varanis places her hand on Serala’s. “You’ll be careful in Prax? Maybe we should take you to Kalis for blessings before you go?”
Serala can’t help it, she sniggers in an extremely unladylike way. “I’ve heard all about the ‘blessings’ that Kalis dispenses for you,” she notes, wiggling her eyebrows in an utterly juvenile sort of way. “Do you think my sheltered plains upbringing could handle the shock?” Yes, she’s teasing. Mostly. Maybe. There is, perhaps, a moment of speculation in her eyes before, for once, she is the one that blushes scarlet and averts her gaze.
Varanis grins. “Oh, she is very generous with her blessings. We’ll see if she can see us tomorrow?”
“Sounds like a plan,” Serala agrees. And then promptly grabs a carrot, scoops it through some dip and munches on it. Can’t talk, see. Eating. Very important work, is eating…
Varanis laughs, wholeheartedly happy for now. Whatever comes, they have this. She mercifully does not tease Serala further, but sets to selecting a piece of fruit to slice, sharing it between the two of them.