A Courtship of Dragons is a M/M Romance (it could be short, it could be a novella, it could be any size, I have no idea) told in short scenes, between two young dragons, Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight. It’s pure fluff ‘n’ stuff and not intended to be anything other than that.
While Estenarven is having a fine time on one side of the table, Mastekh’s not enjoying himself quite so much on the other. Poor Puddle.
MASTEKH HATED BANQUETS. They were always so noisy, so full of people, so full of food. Sitting hunched in his chair, he stared down at the soup in front of him. It was cold. It had to be by now. Soup had been the first course, the only one brought in by the draco servants. The rest of the food had been piled high in the middle of the table for all and sundry to serve themselves as much or as little as they liked.
Mastekh hadn’t eaten any of it. He couldn’t. He was too nervous, his stomach a mass of confusion and anxiety.
Estenarven sat directly opposite him, across the wide expanse of tabletop, laughing and completely at ease. As well he might be in a crowd such as this. The Boulderforce was naturally gregarious and always popular. Lieutenants Anhardyne and Vish were seated next to him and they made quite the striking trio – young, beautiful, tall, but where the humans were slender and shining, Estenarven was broad and dark and –
Oh, dear. Mastekh sighed and stared down at his untouched soup. He felt like that soup, cold and colourless and utterly unappetising. Why would Estenarven ever want him when he had such a feast available?
Rumour had told him all about the young Boulderforce long before Estenarven had been assigned to Elder Blazeborn as an aide, in punishment for playing too roughly with humans. Mastekh cast him another glance and sighed again. It seemed little had changed, since Estenarven appeared as eager as ever to play with the Riders.
Not that Mastekh could blame him. Humans were vibrant and fun, and those two in particular were extremely flirtatious. And more. Mastekh had heard rumours about them too. Their reputations for excitement and experimentation more than matched Estenarven’s before Mastekh had ever met him. The dragons of Teirenlai had had only good things to say about the Boulderforce, in all areas.
Mastekh shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He wasn’t a prude, nor was he shocked or even surprised. He was a Rainstorm, after all, and all Flowflight dragons were known for being fluid in many aspects of their nature, be it relationships, gender or sexual preferences. But sitting in that hall, watching Estenarven flirt rather outrageously with the humans, made Mastekh feel young and inexperienced and small.
He may have grown up a Rainstorm, but attraction was new to Mastekh. He… he wasn’t like his other clutch mates and fellow fledglings. He’d never been attracted to them, couldn’t imagine ever being intimate with any of them. He’d thought he wasn’t much that way inclined. It happened, even amongst the fluid Flowflights. He’d been happy enough with that thought. After all, he could barely make it through the day without spontaneously melting into a puddle, so throwing romantic entanglements into the mix would surely only make things worse. Not that anyone would ever choose to get involved with him. Why would they? He could barely stand his own company, so why would anyone else ever choose to willingly spend time with him?
Mastekh was staring again. He couldn’t help it. Estenarven was everything he wasn’t. People wanted to be close to him, and who could blame them? It wasn’t just that the Boulderforce was handsome, it wasn’t even that he was friendly. There was just something about him that made Mastekh feel safe, made him feel calm, and that wasn’t anything he’d ever encountered before. No one had ever made Mastekh feel safe, no one had ever quieted the doubts and fears that constantly warred and chattered inside his head.
With Estenarven he could breathe.
But that was selfish. What could Mastekh possibly have to offer in return?
Feeling miserable, he stared across the table as a laughing Anhardyne picked up something sticky with sauce and pressed it to Estenarven’s lips. The Boulderforce opened without hesitation, licking her fingers clean afterwards.
Mastekh stopped breathing.
Dark eyes flickered his way, shimmering with the pale blue of the surrounding glow globes.
Mastekh dropped his eyes, fists clenching in his lap. He had no right to feel this way. No right at all.
But the daisy…
He’d baked rock cakes…
Nothing had been said. No promises exchanged. Even if Estenarven had kissed him, there had been no vows offered, no words given. If there was even anything between them, it didn’t mean they were exclusive. Estenarven was a free dragon. He owed Mastekh nothing.
He looked up, blinking away a wash of tears and found the seats opposite now empty.
They’d gone then. Vish, Anhardyne, Estenarven. Off to have even more fun together somewhere secluded and private. Mastekh wished them well of their evening, even if his chest felt hollowed out and his heart trampled beneath their carefree feet.
“They don’t mean anything by it,” a soft voice drew his attention sideways.
Mastekh tilted his head the tiniest fraction to see Lieutenant Nera watching him with compassionate dark eyes. Mastekh twitched his head away, unable to bear her pity, barely holding himself together.
He felt like ice, cold and frozen, but knew that ice was just a thin layer over the roiling waters beneath. If he moved too much or too fast, the ice would crack and all the hurt and fears and unworthiness would come flooding out. He’d lose control and embarrass everyone. He had to hold on. He couldn’t afford to crack.
“It’s only flirting,” Nera continued, her voice low beneath the babble of excited chatter. “They can’t help it. It comes as easy to them as breathing – Esten too. But he’s barely taken his eye off you all evening. They’re just having fun.”
Mastekh’s breathing hitch, almost a sob, but he couldn’t respond. He wanted to thank Nera for trying to be kind, wanted to tell her it didn’t matter. He knew they were just flirting, that it didn’t mean anything. He also wanted to tell her that she was wrong. It was more than flirting and it meant everything, everything bad and hurtful, and proved everything that was wrong with him.
Why else would their seats be empty? Where else could Estenarven have gone, except back to the room the lieutenants would have been assigned, along with a big bed that offered so many more opportunities than the cramped quarters available to them on the Skylark. Estenarven was a big dragon, even in human shape, he would need room to stretch out. More room than he’d been assigned in Elder Blazeborn’s suite. They could offer it to him.
Stone scraped on stone as the chair on Mastekh’s far side was dragged out. He didn’t move, couldn’t, didn’t want to know who was sitting there now. He hadn’t even noticed that the other dragon had left. He’d been seated beside an older Tempestfury all evening, one who had been interested in nothing except the food in front of him. His lack of conversation had suited Mastekh perfectly, but he wished the gobbling old drake hadn’t left so early. He was not in the mood for fending off the conversation of strangers.
A warm, heavy hand settled on his thigh and Mastekh jumped. The ice threatened to crack as he stared aghast at the newcomer.
Dark eyes, pupils blown wide, gazed back, accompanied by a lopsided grin in a broad and beautifully familiar face. “’lo, Puddle.”
Mastekh could have cried. Estenarven was here. He had come to him. He could have had the pick of the room, he had already had two humans enjoying his company, but no, Estenarven hadn’t chosen to be with any of them. He’d come to Mastekh. He was here. Mastekh breathed in a short, stuttering breath, trying to hold back the tears.
Estenarven smiled at him and he melted.
The ice covering him faded away, but he didn’t break. No flood of feelings poured forth, he didn’t lose control. Instead the waters inside him settled and calmed and he was back, safe inside his skin, wanting to be nowhere more than where he was right then.
“Missed you,” Estenarven mumbled, pitching sideways until his head rested on Mastekh’s shoulder, his face pressed against his throat.
The calm waters began to bubble and fizz beneath his skin, sending a wash of heat rushing through him.
He hadn’t expected that.
Just as he didn’t expect Estenarven to half-turn towards him, one hand still pressed against his thigh, the other stretching across Mastekh to link their fingers together. The Boulderforce hummed with contentment, setting Mastekh fizzing and bubbling once more. Their hands were so different – Estenarven’s broad and strong, with thick fingers and calloused skin. Mastekh’s hands were slender and cool and soft – not to mention trembling as Estenarven shifted his grip to Mastekh’s wrist. Then he slid his fingers slowly, slowly down, over fragile veins and tendons, tickling against his palm then teasing between his fingers, where fine webbing extended between each to the middle knuckle.
By the Family! Mastekh shivered.
Estenarven hummed with approval. “Sensitive?”
He swallowed as the Boulderforce’s lips brushed against his throat and nodded. He hadn’t known, he’d had no idea but, gracious, as Estenarven teased his fingertips over the webs again, Mastekh couldn’t restrain a full body shudder. Nothing had ever felt so strange, yet wonderful, and oh, he wanted more.
Chuckling, Estenarven slid his other hand down Mastekh’s thigh towards his knee. He circled his thumb slowly, keeping time with his fingers as they stroked the webs, Mastekh’s palm, his wrist, slipping inside the sleeve of his robe and up to the crook of his elbow.
What was he doing to him?
Family have mercy.
Estenarven opened his mouth against Mastekh’s neck and licked, just as the hand on his thigh began to move upwards.
A loud laugh broke the spell and Mastekh flinched, raising his shoulder quick and sharp and catching Estenarven on the cheek. He also pressed his hand hard against the one on his thigh, stopping it from exploring any further.
Grumbling, Estenarven shifted back onto his own chair and rubbed his cheek. “Sorry, Puddle, forgot you’re not one for exhibitions.”
Mastekh hadn’t thought himself one for sensual touches either, but look how wrong he’d been. “S-s-sorry.” He hugged his arms miserably over his middle. Yet another way that he was less than other dragons.
“Don’t apologise,” Estenarven said, clucking his tongue and prising one of Mastekh’s hands loose. He pressed the palm against his lips and sighed. “Never apologise. I’m the one who should have known better.”
Yes, he should have known far better than to have ever expressed interest in an inexperienced, anxious, watery, wimpy, useless excuse for a dragon such as –
Estenarven smiled against his palm, then licked the web between his fore and middle finger again.
“Bad thoughts gone?” Estenarven chuckled, lowering Mastekh’s hand.
He shivered all over and stared at the Boulderforce. “Wh-what thoughts?” he asked, dazed and then dazzled as Estenarven smiled at him. It was wicked and sultry and all for him.
Mastekh’s insides fizzed and bubbled all over again.
The next update contains scenes of flirtation, inappropriate snickering and mild indignation. See you next Wednesday.
Take care, my lovelies!