You follow a cobblestone path through the gardens of Gar Hold. It appears to be well kept, as it is one of the favorite spots of the hold. Stone benches are set at regular intervals for people to sit and talk, especially young couples. Camelia bushes of all colors are the focus of the gardens, with rose bushes and azaleas as accents. Cobblestones and gravel pave all the paths, and stones surround the beds, keeping greenery from growing where it ought not. The mixed scents of the bushes are strong enough to be noticed, but not overpowering, and perfectly delightful. The whole effect is very relaxing. Where previously there had been wreck and ruin among the beds berry bushes and rose bushes alike have been replaced by seedlings which are growing nicely in the fertile soil.
Today, the garden is decorated with garlands of flowers, strung everywhere. Greenery ropes its way in and out of the garlands of flowers and an arrangement of blossoms floats in the fountain, yellow blossoms form two golden rings, surrounded by blue, woven into a net and set afloat.
It is an autumn sunset.
Rathan walks in from the Hold Field.
Linora is flat on her back on one of the stone benches, one knee propped up, the other foot idly kicking at the gravel beneath. Her fingers are laced behind her neck, pillowing her head as she silently watches the sky changing colors. Stars will be out soon.
Rathan wanders in slowly. He hardly makes a sound as he enters, having elected to walk carefully through the grass and flowers rather than across the hard cobblestone and gravel paths. He stops every now and then to smell a flower or pinch a dying leaf off a bush. Sure they're the Hold's gardens and not his responsibility, but it's just a habit. Spying another person, he pauses, trying to make out the form on the bench without actually getting too close.
The gardens are more or less silent, but it might as well be an evening breeze brushing against the rosebushes for all that Linora is aware. She's pretty sure that weyrling will be back looking for her, now that it's getting dark, but she just can't bring herself to move. Pale eyes close for a moment, and she inhales deeply the familiar scent of these gardens, the warm autumn air.
Rathan creeps silently through the garden, checking the figure on the bench every so often to make sure it hasn't moved. As he gets closer, he realizes just who it is. Creeping the rest of the way, he stops behind the bushes next to the bench. Trying to contain a laugh that might give him away, he composes himself before sticking his head through the plants. "Heya Lin!"
Linora's eyes fly open wide, and she nearly tumbles right off the bench in her surprise. She doesn't quite hit the ground though, sitting up quickly with a sharp intake of breath that somehow turns into a sheepish little giggle. "Jays, Rathan. You scared me half to death!" She doesn't look unhappy to see him, though, by any means. She scoots over a bit to make room beside her. "I dunno how you can be so /quiet/ all the time," she chides him, her eyes bright with something a little more than just a simple tease.
Rathan actually lets out a soft giggle himself before pulling his head back through the bush and after a moment, reappearing from around the side. Quiet he's not as he steps out of beds and onto the gravel path before sliding into the bench next to her. "You looked a little suprised." He offers his astute observation with a smile. Imagine that? "What are you doing back down?" And more importantly, why didn't she tell him. Not that the latter really matters now that he has found her. And of course the next question is predictable. "When do you have to go back?"
Linora half turns to face him, only blushing a little, really. "One of the weyrlings is Garish, I guess, and wanted some practice betweening... so I caught a ride back with him." She shrugs a little, sharply conscious of the fact that she hadn't gone looking for Rathan right away. "I spent a little time with the charts in the observatory," she grins a little wickedly, "just in case Keris asks. And... I gotta go back later tonight." Maybe she was only trying to avoid temptation, while still soaking up a little Istan warmth to get her through the rapidly cooling northern autumn? She glances up at the sky then, at the first stars beginning to peek out. "Prolly soon," she adds quietly.
Rathan laughs at the remark about Keris. "Better to have a good excuse, huh?" he asks with a wink. But for him, it's really not important why she's here, just that she is. Sliding up next to her, he turns to her with a smile. "Well, just as long as it's not right this minute, I don't mind." Anytime that he can spend with her is worth it, even if it's but a couple of minutes. Leaning back, his face turns skywards as he watches the stars come out. "It's getting close to winter up there, isn't it?" The thought of Reaches winter and the last time he was up there during it causes him to shudder slightly. But with winter approaching, it means that she will be returning soon.
Linora's grin returns as Rathan picks up on her 'excuse', softening significantly as he slides closer to her. "Naw, not /right/ this minute," she assures him, although she does spare a glance at the garden entrance, and a little sigh escapes her as she nods acknowledgement to the changing seasons. "Well... they're into autumn now. It's already getting so cold!" She shivers a little just thinking about it, unconsciously edging even closer to Rathan. "But it's the last season to chart. Once that's done..." And the little smile returns, pale eyes lit with anticipation.
Rathan smiles as she edges closer to him before putting his arm around her at the shiver. At the same time, his gaze goes toward the garden enterance, wondering what she's looking for before it dawns on him that she's probably watching for her ride back to Reaches. "Aren't you glad you don't have to spend another winter up there?" He knows that he certainly is. One final season to worry about and then she'll be back at the hall again hopefully on a more permanate basis and with a new knot. As he looks down at her, his eyes meeting her's, he smiles. "Once that's done...." he echos softly.
Linora settles comfortably into Rathan's arm, letting her head rest against his shoulder as she nods. "Definitely," she whispers. "Once was more than enough." Someday she'll probably be glad she experienced a northern winter, but right now she's dreadfully homesick. And even though these visits are nice, they invariably sharpen that edge, making her long even more to return to stay. Her eyes return to his just as he echoes her words, and the soft little smile returns.
As she smiles and looks at him, Rathan leans down to gently kiss her, his hand brushing her cheek. He lets the kiss last for but a moment, knowing that it lasts any longer, there's no telling what might happen. Pulling back, he tilts his head sideways, his head now resting against her's as he looks out across the gardens. "Are you ready to come home?" he whispers softly, with perhaps the slightest emphisis on the last word.
Linora savors that kiss as long as it lasts, the pleasure of the sensation mixed with the sharp pain of knowing that it must end. And sooner than she'd like. She nods, the barest of movement of her head against his. "Yes," she whispers, feeling as if the time can't pass quickly enough. She's long since stopped thinking of Ista as home. Home is here.
Rathan continues to sit like this for a few more minutes, his arm unconciously pulling her closer. No words pass between them, but there is no need for any. They both know what must come next. She will be leaving to return to her duties, and he to his. But for right now, neither of these things matter to him for she is here with him now. The hand in his lap moving over toward her's, their fingers intertwining as a soft sigh escapes from his lips.
Other footsteps enter the garden now through the lengthening shadows, bootheels crunching in the gravel. "Linora?" The voice is uncertain, but clearly audible, and Linora sighs too... but her sigh is one of regret. "I gotta go," she whispers, squeezing Rathan's hand gently and looking for his eyes. And then, a bit louder, "Coming." And her eyes drop to her hand in his, his hand in hers... before she slowly begins to disentangle her fingers.
Rathan looks up, his head rising from her's at the sound of footsteps. And it looks like the time has come.... As he hears the voice, he gives her hand a squeeze. As she disentagles their fingers, the hand moves up to her face to gently caress her cheek before he leans down to quickly kiss her goodbye. "Hurry back to me..." he whispers to her as his hand quickly runs through her hair before falling back down to his own lap. The next couple of days are going to be the hardest, as they usually are right after she leaves.
Linora shuts her eyes tightly and nods. "I'll come as soon as I can," she whispers, wishing this part didn't hurt so much. At last she manages a small smile, opening her eyes to look into his again for just a moment. And then she's on her feet and gone into the shadows, her voice picking up again as she meets the 'rider who's bringing her back to the Weyr, both voices fading as their footsteps recede.