Where the hills of Gar meet the softer plains of the valley, rock slowly turns to gravel, dust and earth, leaving a large natural courtyard tucked against the walls of the hall. A low wall marks a boundary for the courtyard, rock and earth's battle for domination kept outside of it. Strong doors set in the hill wall, provide a new way to get into the hall, long windows letting light into the otherwise quite dark hall. They look out upon a grassy valley, filled with water, vineyards and herdbeast. Trails formed by the feet of human wind around rocks and trees, trailing off into the wilderness.
It is a winter afternoon.
Cress is here.
Linora makes her way across the field to the courtyard, on her way back to the Hall, her step light, enjoying what's left of the afternoon... the gentle breeze, the sharp rays of the lowering sun bathing the landscape with a golden glow that seems to surround her as well. Spray is curled around her neck as usual, unbothered by having to share her shoulders with the younger brown with the perpetual attitude.
Cress smiles as he sees Linora come walking toward the Hall and follows her movements with his eyes, not saying anything, just watching.
Linora crosses the courtyard, nearly reaching the big door... when she stops, unwilling to consign herself to the archives on such a beautiful afternoon. Anyhow, maybe it doesn't matter what she does now... Lost in thought, she turns abruptly and goes to sit on the low wall, leaning back on her hands and closing her eyes.
Cress just watches Linora from afar, sitting on a rock in the outskirts of the courtyard. He could just sit here forever watching her fall away in a daydream.
The sun on her face, the breeze in her hair.... Linora sits for a long moment, just soaking in the afternoon. Will summers up north be as pleasant as even winters on Ista island? Finally, she opens her eyes... looking around at the hall that's been her home for... more than a Turn now, very nearly two... at the sky, and the trees... drinking in every detail for when she won't be able to see it anymore. Finally noticing she's not alone, a flush creeping up her cheeks as if Cress might have been able to read her thoughts, sitting there and watching her like that. "Hey."
Cress smiles, seeking out Lin's eyes as he tilts her head. "What were you dreaming off?" He gets off the rock and comes toward her, taking her hand when he comes close enough.
Linora swallows, trying not to look guilty but pretty sure she's failing... her open face always gives her away, after all. "Just... thinkin'," she murmurs. "'Bout what it'll be like t'live someplace else." Something she's never ever done before. Never even seriously considered before. She squeezes his hand in hers, hoping to find reassurance there.
Cress couldn't tell her. He was used to moving and had never really lived in a place long enough to call it home. Apart from the time he'd spent at the Hall. Looking down at the stones of the wall, he says, "y'know, we could just travel on Ista to begin with," he says tentatively.
Linora looks up sharply, almost daring to hope... but then she sighs. And shakes her head. "Summer's coming..." And she knows how much Cress hates Istan summers... but she doesn't say that. "I know how much you miss the cold places." She chews on her lip, thinking of all the times he's told her about snow, and about traveling... and remembering the way he'd acted at High Reaches. And thinking she really won't know him until she knows him there. And starting to feel a little afraid.
Cress swallows the lump in his throat, seeing the uncertainty in Lin's eyes. "I don't want to tear you away from your home...." Meaning Ista Island.
Linora doesn't know if home will seem like home to her, if Cress isn't there. "You already done that," she whispers. Because now she doesn't really feel at home anyplace.
Cress blinks, then brings up a hand to wipe away the tear from his eye. How could he have let this happen? Sure, he loved Lin, but how could he make her leave while she was still so young?
Linora blinks too, tilting her head to look up at him. He's... sad? Because of her? Confused, she gets to her feet, a tentative hand reaching up to touch his cheek. "What?" Concern mixes with confusion in her pale eyes, her brows knit with worry.
"Well... I know what it's like to travel," he begins, then pauses for a long moment. "It's not always pretty, and definately not easy..." Cress wanted to be sure she knew what she was getting herself into, and looks into her eyes. "Sleeping on the ground.. Or in caves..."
Linora chews her lip, nodding slowly, her eyes locked on his. Of course, she has only the vaguest idea of what he's talking about, but she's /trying/ to understand. If it's so unpleasant, why does he want it so badly? Badly enough to leave her behind if she won't go with him? Then perception dawns in her eyes. "You don't think I can do it?" Blink.
Cress blinks, his eyes moving down then up to make eyecontact with her again. "It's not that I don't want you with me... It's just.. I'm not sure you realizes what kind of life it is.." He's not trying to talk her out of coming with him. Really! He just don't want her to do something she'll regret.
"I don't." Linora's too honest to lie to Cress. She has no idea what she's getting herself into, other than she wants to be with him. "I kinda thought maybe you'd help me and stuff... y'know..." Her hand drops to his shoulder, then down his arm until she catches his hand, her fingers linking in his. "On accounta you know how." And stuff. And because ... she trusts him.
Cress gives her a rather strained smile, nodding. "I'll help all I can," he whispers, looking into her eyes. "I'll take care of you..."
Linora gives his hand a squeeze. "I wanna take care of you too," she whispers. How, she has no idea... but she's pretty sure she'll be able to think of something when the time comes. "So..." Oh, no. Here's the question again. She chews on her lip. "You talked t'Riina yet?" Because she's not going to look for Keris until she's good and sure Cress is actually leaving.
Cress is pretty sure she already knows the answer to that question, but shakes his head 'no'. "I haven't been able to find her lately," is his excuse, though, the real reason is that he wanted to work things out with Lin first.
Linora nods, ready to accept his excuse. After all, she hasn't seen much of her mentor lately either. A cool breeze whips across the courtyard as the sun dips below the horizon, and she shivers a bit... involuntarily glancing up to look at the first stars. Well. The stars will always be there, no?
Well maybe not as much up north with all the cloudcover.... "They're a lot clearer up north," Cress mentions, reading the look in her eye as she glances toward the sky.
Linora tears her eyes from the stars to look at Cress again. "Yeah?" She's pretty sure he told her that before. A little smile lights her eyes and she steps a little closer, trying again to picture the sky looking different. She hadn't thought to look when she'd been at Reaches, it'd been much too cold. The first time. She swallows hard as she suddenly remembers... the last time. And steps just a little bit closer to Cress. "Um... you're not gonna travel t'any Weyrs, are ya?" Just making sure.
"Weyrs? We might have to stop by 'em at times," he mumbles, looking slightly confused. What was wrong with Weyrs? Not that he'd actually /been/ to any when he'd been travelling with his family, but their 'route' had not taken them by any. "Not much business in a Weyr, though..."
Linora ohs, her voice very small, but her eyes are hopeful. Not much business means not much reason to go there, right? "I... um... I'd kinda rather not." She looks down at the ground, wrapping her arms tightly around herself.
Cress still looks confused as he tries to make eyecontact with her again. "Why wouldn't you wanna go to a Weyr?" Weyrs were exciting, right? And there were dragons there. She liked dragons, didn't she?
Linora shakes her head, glancing back up to be caught by his eyes. "On accounta the dragons." Not all the dragons. But Cress doesn't look like he understands, so she tries to explain. "Hyzen came back again, an' Imbriath."
Cress frowns, remembering the green dragon and her rider. Hyzen had been nice enough hadn't she? Bring them to Reaches and all. It was Imbriath he was slightly afraid of... Shaking his head, he indicates that he still doesn't understand what she was talking about.
"Imbriath was... um... proddy?" Linora stumbles on the unfamiliar word. But she'd certainly heard enough of it that day. She looks at the ground again, her voice dropping even softer. "An' so was Hyzen." She shifts uncomfortably, reluctant to elaborate.
"Proddy?" Cress had heard that word more than once around the campfire at night, though he wasn't complety sure what it entailed (sp) other than the dragon was ready to mate. "And...?"
Linora is definitely turning pink under that tan, her eyes looking anywhere but at Cress. "She wanted /me/." Of course, Hyzen had been easy enough to distract, but that didn't change how shocked Lin had been, to be the target of a greenrider's... attentions.
Cress blinks, his face frozen for a moment, then breaks into a grin, his eyes gleaming slightly. Jealous? No, not at all, he's finding it rather funny actually. "Yeah?" he says, still smiling, and squeezes her hand.
Linora looks sharply up at Cress, her expression amazed. "What?" Not that she'd expected him to be jealous... but she hadn't expected he'd find it amusing! "I never been so scared in my life!" She tries to pull her hand away, succeeding only in pulling herself closer to him. Or vice versa. "An' you think it's funny?" She tries to look cross, but that grin of his is infectious.
Cress actually breaks into a chuckle, having heard far worse stories from the Weyrs. Pulling her into a hug, he mumbles into her hair. "You're still here, aren't you?" he notes, running his hand over her hair, taking in the scent of it.
Linora can't help smiling as Cress wraps his arms around her. "Yeah," she admits, even as she wonders for how much longer. "Course I hadda beg Cayl t'take us home." Well, that's how she remembers it. Ask Cayl, and the bluerider was just looking for an excuse to escape the caverns that day.
"Cayl?" Had he ever heard about someone named Cayl? Cress couldn't remember, and pulled back a little to look her in the eye. "You sure know a lotta riders now....." he mumbles, maybe a little jeaslously at that fact. So far he'd met, what? 2 or 3 dragon and been to a Weyr once.
Linora blinks, then looks at the ground. "Um... it was Cayl's blue Mzadith that licked ya at Crystal Lake," she reminds him. Maybe being licked by a dragon wasn't the best way to remember his rider; she'd had other things on her mind that day. She looks back up, a little apologetic. "I dunno that many really," she says, shrugging a bit. And she'd always tried to share, hadn't she?
"Oh.. Yeah," Cress mumbles, the image of the dragon coming back into his head. That was one meeting with a dragon he could have done without. "Mss...Mza..Mzadith," he tries to get that name right. And the rider he couldn't get a fix on in his mind.
Linora grins, peeking back up at him. "Yeah. Mzadith." Her tongue's not tripping over the name anymore, but she's not thinking much about dragons, unable to keep her eyes from wandering back up to the stars. And thinking that the night air is definitely warmer now. Even the light breeze that flutters the ends of her hair isn't at all chilly.
Cress tilts his head, as he watches her looking at the stars, forgetting what it was they'd been talking about. "Think'll be a nice day..." he mumbles.
"Tomorrow?" Linora watches the stars a bit longer, then shrugs, returning her eyes to Cress, almost succeeding in suppressing a little grin. "Prolly. It's kinda always nice around here this time a Turn." One thing you can usually count on, the weather being nice on Ista Island. "Wanna go t'the lake?" And watch the stars? Like they used to? She bites her lip, trying not to be too hopeful, just in case.
Cress sighs, then releases Lin again, to look her in the eye.. "I need some more rest," he mumbles, not really wanting to leave her. "I'll see you later?"
Linora drops her gaze to the ground, nodding slowly. "Sure," she murmurs, not really understanding why lying on the lakeshore and looking at the stars isn't enough like rest, but not willing to ask. "I'll be around and stuff." She peeks back up, managing a little halfsmile, and sits back down on the wall.
Cress goes home.