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Interlude

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Tanith sped down the back road on her motorcycle, with Sigrun clinging to her back. It had taken some convincing to get her girlfriend to agree to take a day off and a lot more than that to get her on the motorcycle. Between helping Sephiran to take care of Sanaki, college and life's little inconveniences, it had been forever since they had gone on a date. They would only have a few hours to themselves and she was determined to enjoy some peace and alone time with Sigrun.

She slowed the motorcycle and turned up a dirt driveway towards a large stable. She parked her bike near a pick up truck and waited for Sigrun to loosen her grip and hand her her helmet before getting off. Tanith opened a side compartment on the bike and pulled out a basket.

Sigrun was looking around, her long hair messy from the ride over. She looked a bit odd in jeans and a light shirt since Sigrun was almost always in a dress or a skirt and had been quite amused when Tanith had told her she had to wear pants and boots for once.

“Considering that this is your idea, you look awfully serious,” she said mildly. Tanith forced a smile to her face in response and brushed her short hair out of her face.

“I know,” she said suddenly shy. “It's hard to relax even when I know I should.”

“I know.” Sigrun reached for Tanith's free hand. “Let's go meet the horses.”

~

An hour later they were on the trail, enjoying the warm sun and the spring breeze. Sigrun handled her horse well; she had surprised Tanith by pushing for speed in the clear stretches and jumping a log that had fallen across the trail. Apparently horses did not rank nearly so high as motorcycles on Sigrun's list of dangerous things. She seemed at home on a horse; but then Sigrun seemed at home anywhere. She went with the flow and adjusted to the world in a way that Tanith found to be admirable. They were so different and yet they fit together so well because of it.

As they came to a meadow with a picnic table to one side, they drew reign and loosely tied the horses. Tanith took the basket from the pommel of her saddle and found a spot in the shade.

“I can't believe you went to all this trouble,” Sigrun said as they sat down to lunch. “It's not like you to take time off. Or to encourage me to.”

“I know. We just don't get out enough. And Sanaki enjoys having Sephiran's undivided attention,” she replied with a rueful shake of her head.

“She likes having everyone's attention,” Sigrun laughed. “And she's become quite fond of her aunt Tanith.”

“I'm really not family though,” Tanith said, serious once more. Knowing what she did of Sigrun's situation, it was an odd point to make. Sigrun, Sanaki and Sephiran were all unrelated, but caring for the girl had made them into an odd sort of family. There were secrets there and Tanith knew she didn't yet know the half of them. She was curious but she wouldn't pry.

“Yet,” was Sigrun's only reply as she turned her attention back to her lunch.

“I'd say it's a little early to plan the engagement.”

“Why would that be?”

“We've been together less than a year, most of your friends refer to me as a demon and we're still in college,” Tanith replied, ticking each point off on her hand.

“Lots of couples get engaged faster, neither of us know if we want to do post grad yet, so waiting another two to six years seems silly and I'll have you know that you are my little demon,” she finished with a laugh. Tanith rolled her eyes before breaking into a smile.

“Still, I'm glad we're doing this. And I can't believe you remembered that I used to ride when I was little. It's very sweet of you.”

“I... Well actually I forgot you had said that. I just know that you like horses and being out of the city,” Tanith replied awkwardly.

“Yes. I think I'll have to make time for this more often.” Sigrun slipped an arm around Tanith and leaned onto her shoulder. Tanith set the remains of her lunch down and put an arm around Sigrun, gently playing with her hair. It was such a pretty pale blue-green and always silky smooth to the touch. It also happened to be a guilty pleasure to run her hands through it.

“This is nice,” she murmured.

“Yes, it's-” a horse snorting in Tanith's face interrupted Sigrun's reply; Tanith jumped, clunking heads with her girlfriend. The horse – Nugget? – nudged Tanith's head in apology and neighed in her ear. Sigrun looked up from rubbing her head and started to laugh.

“What does he want?” Tanith asked as the horse continued to headbutt her.

“Pet his nose and I'll get him a treat.”

Tanith reached up awkwardly to pet the horse and wait as Sigrun rummaged around in her pack for some treats. The other horse wandered over, obviously feeling slighted and began to demand attention as well.

“Oh you're a natural,” Tanith heard from somewhere to her left.

“A natural head scratcher,” Tanith grumbled. She paused in her ministrations long enough to ask, “did I just hear you take a photo?”

“You're just too cute looking right now.”

“Please just get one of them out of my face.”

“Oh, alright.”

A few minutes later, Tanith was on her feet and packing away the remnants of their picnic while Sigrun held the horses and fed them mints. Every time Tanith glanced at Sigrun she saw her duck her head to hide a smile. Trying very hard not to roll her eyes, Tanith moved to hang the basket off the pommel of her saddle. Sigrun handed her a helmet and soon they were ready to set off again.

They rode side by side while the trail was wide enough to do so, following the markers easily. The horses seemed content to go at a leisurely pace and didn't frisk or pull at the reigns. The silence was companionable, only broken by bird calls and the clip-clop of the horses' hooves. They reached the sign that indicated the way back before Sigrun broke the silence.

“Did you ever think about marriage?”

Tanith turned so suddenly in her saddle that she almost unbalanced herself. Sigrun had her eyes straight ahead on the trail but it was obvious that she was listening closely for the answer.

“I never really thought about it. Begnion is still a very religious country and no real legislation allowing it has passed yet.”

“There is nothing in the laws outright preventing it though,” Sigrun reminded her gently.

“And normally I'd agree that whatever isn't forbidden is permissible but... I don't know. Never really saw myself in a white dress.”

“You do look awfully nice in formal wear. But that's a wedding, not being married.”

“One often leads to the other.”

“So you've never wanted a wife?”

“I guess one day. I'm just not going to run into it blindly,” Tanith hedged.

“So you could settle down.”

“Sigrun, I think you've already settled me down,” the brunette laughed.

“I just like knowing that you'll be there. I really depend on you.” She ducked her head as she said it, hiding her face behind her blue green hair.

“I know.”

They continued riding in silence for a moment.

“I'm sorry for making this get all... heavy.”

Sigrun looked up from her thoughts and nodded. “It's fine, I shouldn't have pushed you.”

“Don't worry about it. I push everyone else.” Tanith shrugged.

“But not me.”

“No not you,” she admitted. “Love you.”

“I love you too,” Sigrun replied, a smile lighting up her face. She reigned her horse in close and wrapped Tanith in a one-armed hug. “Let's go home.”