Clouds the Color of Fire
That first night back, after Lessa triumphantly led the five Weyrs to the Ruatha of her time - after hours of explanations and plans and arrangements - that first night, Lessa all but fell into bed. The following two nights were similar, between the conferences and the Fall at Telgar. On her third day back in her own time, however, Lessa completed her responsibilities at a respectable hour. F’lar followed her when she retired to her Weyr.
“So, did you have fun in the queen's wing?,” he said, after shutting the hangings behind him.
"I hate you," Lessa called over her shoulder, but she did not resist when F'lar grabbed her from behind and dropped a kiss on her neck.
She keeps saying that,, Mnementh noted. I'm not sure that it means what she thinks it means.
F'lar ignored the dragon, mentally shooing him away as his hand slid up to the fastenings on Lessa's shirt.
"I hate you, too," F'lar whispered, nibbling on her ear.
Lessa gasped and turned in his embrace. She stretched up and forced her lips against his, staring deep into his eyes. The kiss burned through her, fire racing through her veins in a way she had not expected to find outside a mating flight. She slid her hands into his hair as she pressed her body against his, F'lar responding in kind. They stumbled back and tumbled into the sleeping furs together.
Ramoth knew before Lessa did. Dragons often did, but Lessa still found herself vexed that she had not noticed it on her own. After several weeks of being stuck in Benden to make arrangements and receive any and all questions about their time with very occasional participation in the Queen’s Wing, Lessa had slipped into her leathers and gone with Ramoth to stretch their wings.
No, Ramoth spoke as Lessa’s thoughts turned to a quick trip between to Ruatha. The sky around them burned with the setting sun as Lessa raised an eyebrow mentally at her dragon.
“Why not?” she asked.
You are with clutch. The cold would be no good for you.
Lessa’s heart stopped. “With clutch?”
Ramoth gave the mental equivalent of a shrug followed by an image of Lessa’s stomach. There is something there.
It was only when Lessa realized that she had not had a moonday since her return that Lessa seriously considered Ramoth to be right.
“The timing could be better,” Manora said calmly. She set a steaming cup of klah before Lessa and took a sip from her own. “Are you going to keep it?”
Lessa didn’t know. She wrapped her hands around the mug, clenching it as she fought with the need to do something and the complete lack of certainty as to what that something should be. She had only known that she had needed to tell someone. Not that she had actually managed to tell Manora - apparently her expression (which she privately feared may have been somewhat embarrassing) and the hand across her belly had been enough for the older woman to begin bustling about.
“Should we have the healer check to make sure that everything is developing all right?” Manora asked eventually, when the silence had stretched to the breaking.
Lessa lifted the cup and took a slow sip of klah. She could follow its warmth as it slid down her throat, coming to rest just above the spot where a new life had begun to grow inside her. She had responsibilities as Benden’s Weyrwoman. The kind of responsibilities that no one but her would be able to fulfill, that none but she could do anything about. And Ruatha... How often had she dreamed of raising a son her father would be proud to have lead the Hold? How much harder would it be to leave the Hold in Jaxom’s hands, if the world had a child of her own so near in age and (undoubtedly) ability?
Manora sighed, placing her cup on the table. Lessa looked up at the sound.
“You might also make several quick trips between,” the Headwoman said.
"No!" Lessa shuddered involuntarily, a wrenching motion that sloshed klah from the cup clenched tight between her hands. The hot liquid burned her, but she couldn’t focus on the feeling. This was her child. Her child! And no one else’s, and in all the world and all the times there would never be another precisely like this one!
“Lessa.” The firm tone of voice drew her attention. Manora’s fingertips had slipped under her own and were trying to draw the cup from her grasp.
“Thank you, Manora.” Lessa let go. Surprisingly strong, small hands wiped her fingers dry as if Lessa herself were a youngling again who had eaten too many pies and stained her fingers. Lessa stood, and though she felt no better balanced, she held herself together and managed a smile. Manora brushed a lock of hair gently from Lessa’s face.
“You know that I would be happy to foster any child you might have,” she said, "and not just because I fostered F'lar."
Lessa’s smile felt more real.
“Thank you,” Lessa repeated. She turned to leave the kitchen. She had just reached the door when a voice called her again.
The Benden Weyrwoman looked over her shoulder. Manora smiled.
“Talk to F’lar.”
Lessa nodded once and was gone.
“Ramoth, we have to go!” Lessa waved the flamethrower in hand and rubbed at a neck ridge, refusing to give in to the instinct to kick the gold dragon, who remained persistently on the ground. “Thread is falling!”
Are you so quick to give up your hatchling? The dragon asked.
“I’ve fought Thread before now like this! Ista is in trouble! The patterns will be off without us.”
They will manage.
“Ramoth!” Lessa shouted, and in her anger the flamethrower escaped her grasp, falling with a crash to the floor. Lessa jumped down after it, quickly ascertaining that it was still in working order. When she turned to remount, the glowing jewels of Ramoth’s eyes met hers.
For a long moment they simply stared at one another. Then Ramoth said, I am here, and Lessa found herself wrapping her arms around the dragon as tears slipped down her face.
The fight against Thread over Ista had generally gone well, with only one surprise - Lessa and Ramoth had been missing from the Queen’s Wing.
Questioning one's Weyrmate is never the best idea, was all that Mnementh would say on the topic, and Ramoth had apparently not replied to any other dragon’s attempts to bespeak her. Mardra and Kylara’s sniping about irresponsible Weyrwomen had been insufferable, but suffer it F’lar had had to, for there was nothing that he could say.
The sun was just rising in Benden Weyr as F’lar and Mnementh landed. After F’lar dismounted, Mnementh immediately went to Ramoth, twining their necks in greeting. F’lar pushed through the hangings to find Lessa sitting among the sleeping furs, still dressed in her riding leathers.
“The Fall is over,” he said by way of greeting as he began to remove his own garments. “Your help would have been appreciated.”
“Ramoth refused to go,” Lessa said. F’lar stopped, his jacket sliding unnoticed to the floor.
And who knows better than I what is best for you? Ramoth said, speaking to F’lar as well.
“Are you all right?" F’lar asked. He sat down beside Lessa, but the question was mainly directed to Ramoth. "What's wrong?"
Nothing is wrong. Ramoth said. Nor will it become that way.
Mnementh snorted in a way that might have been laughter but that was quickly stifled by a glare from Ramoth. Perhaps, Mnementh said, I ought to be saying congratulations instead.
Both F’lar and Lessa added to the baleful expressions directed at Mnementh. Then Lessa sighed, and took F’lar’s hand in her own. F’lar’s heart raced.
Lessa held her head high as she said, “I’m going to have a child.”
And she placed F’lar’s hand against her stomach.
F’lar’s brain froze as still as the icy depths of Between. Distantly, he could hear Mnementh laughing at him about his first clutch and how F’lar would only get one egg when Mnementh had had forty-one, and the faint impressions of Mnementh fighting Ramoth off after she took offense to the implication that her Lessa was any less magnificent than she herself because Lessa would only have one child.
For F’lar, though, there was only the dark grey of Lessa’s eyes and his hand on her stomach.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” Lessa said eventually, looking away and tilting her nose in the air. F’lar cleared his throat several times before the words would come.
“Well, no one will ever accuse you of good timing.” Lessa flinched, but F'lar held her arm.
Our timing is excellent, Ramoth soothed, and Mnementh's laughter carried her words through the bond to F'lar.
"Ramoth is, of course, correct," F'lar said amenably. He pulled her close, wrapping his arm protectively around her. Lessa fought with competing urges to push him away and to melt against him until he continued, "My thanks, Ramoth, for keeping them safe today."
The gold dragon bobbed her head at him as Lessa smacked his arm. F’lar laughed and leaned down to kiss her breathless as she gave in to the temptation of his warmth against her.
“You realize this complicates matters?” Lessa asked when they paused for air.
F’lar laughed. “You always complicate matters.”
And then he kissed her again.