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.
In which Estenarven doesn’t see Mastekh for a few hours – and panics.
(I really don’t envy Khennik having to live with these two through all of this XD)
The Second Gift
IT WAS LUNCHTIME and Estenarven hadn’t seen Mastekh since he’d put the Rainstorm to bed the afternoon before. He knew Mastekh was shy and likely more than a little embarrassed about what had happened the day before, but this long absence was beginning to worry him. Estenarven had been so excited at breakfast, sitting in the suite, waiting for Mastekh to return from the kitchens so he could ask about the gift. Did Mastekh like it? Had it made him smile when he saw it?
Was he willing to accept it?
He’d paced the main room of the suite for ages, fighting the urge to knock on Mastekh’s door – or simply barge inside – just to see if the jade pot was still there. Just to see if it had been accepted. If his courtship had been accepted. To see if Mastekh liked it.
But just as his patience finally broke, someone knocked on the outer door and three dracos entered carrying breakfast. Confused, Estenarven had waved the servants towards the appropriate table to lay the food on and knocked on Mastekh’s door.
When he looked inside he found it empty, as expected, but the presence of the dracos implied that Mastekh wasn’t coming back. He always joined Estenarven for breakfast. It was a chance to catch up and sort out what chores they would each do for Elder Blazeborn through the day – well, when Estenarven didn’t have a hangover, anyway.
Except, by the time the dracos had finished putting everything in its place, there was still no sign of Mastekh. When the tallest servant poured out a pungent cup of ginger tea, drawing Elder Blazeborn out of his lair, Estenarven had to accept that his fellow aide wasn’t coming. Clearly, Mastekh had already been down to the kitchens that morning and ordered breakfast, but he had no intention of returning to share it with Estenarven.
Which hurt more than he’d expected it to. Rubbing at the ache in his chest, he’d tried to ask the dracos where Mastekh was, but they’d ducked their heads shyly and giggled behind their hands instead of answering. Sipping his cup of tea, Elder Blazeborn had rolled his eyes, thanked the servants and dismissed them.
“Trouble?” the elder had asked, folding elegantly to his knees before the low table and filling a platter with breakfast fruits.
Baffled and hurt, Estenarven had shaken his head. Elder Blazeborn had ordered him to eat, so Estenarven had joined him at the table, yet his usually robust appetite had fled and he’d only been able to pick at some eggs.
Now it was lunchtime and Elder Blazeborn had dismissed him to take his meal in the grand dining hall, telling him to stop sulking and sighing around the suite and find someone else to mope at. Normally Estenarven would have jumped at the chance to spend time with others, but since a single glance on entering the dining room was enough to assure him that Mastekh wasn’t there, Estenarven didn’t feel much like company.
Before he could think of somewhere else to slope off to, since he’d been banned from the suite and he didn’t know where else to look for Mastekh, Estenarven felt a slap on the shoulder and a friendly arm hook through his.
“Hey, Pebble, why the sad face? Tired of all the storms already?” Vish grinned up at him, while Anhardyne tugged him towards a long table filled with familiar Rider faces.
“Come sit, join us,” Anhardyne urged, pushing him into a seat beside Nera.
“Oh, I, er, was just leaving,” he protested weakly.
“Nonsense,” Vish chuckled, slapping him on the shoulder again. “You’ve only just arrived. A dragon like you needs to keep up his strength. Go on, tuck in.”
Wedged in between the female lieutenants on an already crowded table, Estenarven realised he didn’t have much choice but to stay and sighed. Nera shot him a commiserating smile, and he knew he couldn’t be rude enough to get up and walk away now. Anhardyne and Vish might be a pushy pair, but Nera was a friend. So he gave in and slumped in his seat.
“Try the soup,” Nera said, surprising him with a wink.
Estenarven frowned: Nera was not the winking sort. Rubbing a hand over his head, feeling more than a little out of his depth, he accepted a soup bowl from a passing draco and stared down at it in confusion.
There was something in the bowl – but it wasn’t soup.
“Ooh, what do you have there?” Anhardyne asked, leaning against his arm.
“I…” Estenarven put the bowl in front of him and dipped a finger inside, stirring the contents. “I have no idea.”
“Look like beans to me,” Lieutenant Gharrik remarked from across the table.
Estenarven frowned even harder. Beans? Why would a draco give him a bowl of beans? He stirred the small, dark shapes with a claw and drew in a sharp breath.
Pebbles. Mixed in amongst the dark beans were small, oval pebbles. But not just any pebbles, each one was a different stone, a different colour, but all almost the same size and shape, polished to perfection. A collection, painstakingly made and carefully gathered. And hidden in a bowl of beans.
“Blimey, you could crack a tooth on one of those,” Anhardyne chuckled, reaching for a pebble.
Estenarven smacked her hand away without thought. No one was touching anything within this bowl. No one but him.
“Ow. You could have just told me not to touch,” the blonde lieutenant grumbled.
“Don’t touch,” Estenarven growled.
“All right then.” Hands raised, she shifted as far away from him as possible on the crowded bench, while on his other side Nera snickered.
“Boundaries, Hardy,” Vish murmured. “We’ve talked about them. Apparently other people have them, even if we don’t.”
“That’s because other people are boring.”
Ignoring them, Estenarven stirred his precious bowl again, studying the beans more intently this time. Why beans? Raw, untouched ones at that.
“Looks like quite a crop you have there,” Gharrik said, leaning across the table for a better look. “I didn’t know you dragons cared that much for farming.”
Most dragons didn’t, but a rare few, mostly Rainstorms, occasionally showed an interest. “Ah…” It was starting to make sense now.
Pebbles for him: small, sturdy, permanent. Beans for the future, full of potential and possible nourishment. Mastekh hadn’t just given him a meaningful gift in return, he’d given him hope.
Smiling, Estenarven lowered his hand into the bowl and let beans and pebbles run between his fingers, smooth and rough and small and perfect. A wonderful second gift.
Only five more to go.
Feeling his appetite return with a rush of good cheer, Estenarven placed the bowl carefully on his lap, shuffled forwards and started reaching for the nearest bits of food, his mind already racing.
“So what happens next?” Nera asked, passing him a plate piled high with seed rolls. “I take it you accepted his gift, yes?”
Of course the Riders had been in on Mastekh’s plan – well, one of them, at least. That explained Nera’s uncharacteristic wink. Reaching for the mulberry jam, Estenarven slathered it all over his roll and took a big bite, shrugging.
“Are there more gifts?” Vish wanted to know.
“I hope so, because beans? What kind of a gift is a bowl of beans?” Anhardyne shook her head, making Estenarven smile. If anyone had asked him such a thing just that morning, he would have agreed with her. Now, though, he couldn’t think of anything he’d rather receive.
Swallowing his mouthful, he realised he was the centre of a lot of Rider attention and raised his eyebrows. “Dragon courtships are sacred things.”
“Does that mean you don’t want any help?” Anhardyne asked, nudging him with her shoulder. “’Cause we have a few ideas, if you’re interested.”
He turned an enquiring glance her way.
“We’ve already helped Mastekh,” Nera pointed out, drawing his attention in the opposite direction. “It’s only fair to help you too.”
“If you want us to,” Gharrik added, ever fair.
Estenarven reached for the jam and slowly spread more on a fresh roll, considering the offer. It was true Mastekh had enlisted the Riders’ help in making sure Estenarven sat down to lunch and received the special bowl at the right moment. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if he did something similar.
Licking a bit of jam from his thumb, he considered the next gift on the list and smiled. “There might be something you can do for me. But not a word to Mastekh,” he warned.
Anhardyne and Vish both mimed locking their lips with a key, while Gharrik and Nera smiled. “Not a word,” they promised.
“All right,” he agreed, motioning the four lieutenants closer and gaining a few extras Riders who were also in earshot. “The next gift needs to be something meaningful for Mastekh. I already have something in mind, but getting it and giving it to him might be a bit tricky, so here’s what you can do for me…”
More next week.
After I’ve hopefully written it…
Take care, my lovelies!