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 an effort to finally push this story through to the end, I’ve been editing and tidying up some of the older sections. Which means part of this update may seem like a continuity error (Mastekh’s gift), but actually isn’t. At least, not in the version I have. It might not even be obvious, but to the people who do notice these things, I am aware and have already tweaked it. Even if I’m too lazy to update the online version just yet ;D
And with that out of the way, following on from the shortest update last week, now have the longest. #hugsforMastekh
DEEP BREATH IN, deep breath out. I can do this. I can do this. Mastekh tried to focus his thoughts in a positive direction, but his hands were shaking and he felt all liquid inside.
He was nervous.
Some might say that wasn’t unusual, but Mastekh knew better. He had a nervy disposition and was often anxious, but full nervousness was a whole other step into the jitters. He was twitchy, jumping at every sound – and considering the thundering storm currently crashing down on top of Highstrike, there was a lot of sound – chewing at his lip, pacing the floor.
All because of the best flight of his life.
Oh, how wonderful it had been to soar through the raindrops with Estenarven by his side. His tail had fluttered accidentally against the Boulderforce’s side at one point, blown by the swirling wind. Before Mastekh could apologise for the shocking breech of etiquette, Estenarven’s tail had returned the caress. Their tails had twined. Only for a moment, only for a breath but, by the Family, Mastekh’s heart had pounded.
A wing brush, a mid-air nuzzle from Estenarven as he’d drifted beneath Mastekh’s chest.
Small touches, barely discernable to any watching eyes. Tame, perhaps. But they had been everything to Mastekh. Everything.
He hoarded the memories inside his chest and squeezed himself now, hugging them close. Such a gift, such a wonderful gift.
Which reminded him that it was his turn again.
“Oh, oh, oh,” he puffed to himself, trying to remember to breathe, breathe, breathe. Steady, slow, deep. Every so often he forgot and snatched a shallow gasp, leaving him light-headed enough to stop pacing and wait for the moment to pass.
He was so nervous.
“S-s-stop it,” he ordered himself, but he couldn’t help it. The third gift was important. He had to get it right.
Something meaningful to Estenarven. Something meaningful… He knew what he wanted to do, had it all planned, but that was the easy part. Now he had to do it. And Estenarven’s gift to him had been so perfect, Mastekh wasn’t at all sure his own could compare.
“No.” He shook his head, aware of a small scattering of droplets flying from his clammy skin to splatter on the table. He needed to take hold of himself. These nerves would not do. At this rate he would fret himself into a panic and Estenarven wouldn’t get his third gift and the courtship would be over and Mastekh would be alone again and no one else would ever even think of courting him so he would be outcast and adrift his whole life, the sad, pathetic, soggy Rainstorm that other dragons laughed at and talked about in low voices and he wouldn’t be able to blame them because it would have been his own fault all because he fretted himself into a fever over his turn to try and give a gift of meaning to the most wonderful dragon he had ever met.
Black spots appeared in his vision and Mastekh breathed in on a giant gasp, aware that panic had sprung upon him and he was swaying where he stood.
This would not do.
Taking himself firmly to task, he scolded his own stupidity inside his head and stomped across the room, forcing himself to sit down. The carpet squelched beneath his feet, but he refused to feel bad about it. He’d been dripping all day, going over and over his plans, preparing for the big moment.
It was almost here and it would do no one any good if Estenarven returned to find Mastekh passed out in a puddle.
So he sat down, clasped his hands firmly on his rigid knees and stared at the blotchy green patches on his grey-blue skin. He’d dispelled so much water today it was a wonder he could still stand. At the very least he must have shrunk a good four inches, and there was no knowing how much weight he had shed. At this rate his third gift was going to be to drip out of existence and, as shocking as it often was to Mastekh, that didn’t seem to be what Estenarven wanted.
He wanted Mastekh’s company, his presence, his touch. Swirling himself down the nearest plughole would be a poor repayment for Estenarven’s thoughtful courtship.
“All r-r-right,” he sighed, flexing his hands and placing them palm-down against his thighs. “G-g-good.” He could breathe again. His heartbeat was only slightly faster than normal and his skin felt only slightly moist.
I can do this. I can do this. It was what Estenarven wanted, the least he deserved. Mastekh could do that.
A rattle at the door as the knob turned. Then Estenarven was there.
“Well, what a merry dance that was,” the Boulderforce grumbled, stomping into the room and slamming the door behind him. “A whole morning wasted. I’ve been all over this wretched crag today, searching for a special set of flowers and herbs on behalf of the ambassador, and when I finally track down something that might just pass muster, I go back and find Captain Wellswen had the special soap in her trunk all along. What a waste of time!”
He slumped onto the stone couch opposite Mastekh with a weary grunt and collapsed flat on his back, eyes closed. “Humans.”
Mastekh dug his claws into his thighs, unsure quite how he was supposed to react. As a favour to him, the Riders had kept Estenarven occupied all morning. While he was grateful to them for that, he hadn’t expected them to return his Pebble in a grump. That had definitely not been part of Mastekh’s plans.
A dark eye opened, pinning him in place. “How’s your morning been, Puddle? Better than mine, I trust.”
Since Mastekh had spent all of it fretting and most of it pacing in anticipation of this moment, he could only nod. Once again his throat had tightened up, leaving speech impossible.
Estenarven didn’t seem to mind, just closed his eye again and arched his back in a lazy stretch. “Good.”
Staring at the Boulderforce sprawled out opposite him, all power and confidence, Mastekh felt his resolve crumble. This was a stupid idea. What kind of a gift was this to offer to a dragon so fine as that?
Estenarven’s eyes slitted open, a black glint amongst the shadows of his face, and he stretched again, slowly, languidly, raising his arms to fold his hands beneath his head. The broad sleeves of his slate grey robe slid down, revealing the taut muscles bulging beneath the skin. Another arch of his back had the top half of his robe parting to reveal the broad expanse of his chest.
Mastekh stared at the display – and it certainly was a display intended for his benefit if the smug tilt of Estenarven’s lips was anything to judge by – and swallowed hard. Sibling Water, but if this was his fourth gift come early, he wasn’t about to object.
“Did you know the Tempestfurys have a hot house?” Estenarven asked, his voice a deeply contented rumble. “They grow roses.”
“N-no, I d-d-didn’t,” Mastekh mumbled, still staring at Estenarven’s chest, though he filed away the interesting titbit in case he might need it later. “How s-s-strange.”
“It’s Elder Gwyllen’s,” Estenarven said, yawning. “Cultivates her own special varieties. Blue and black and lightning white. Quite impressive.”
“Mm,” Mastekh agreed, though in truth the only thing impressing him at the moment was the magnificence of the dragon in front of him. He balled his hands on his thighs again, claws biting into his own palms. He wanted to touch, he wanted to pet, but by the Family, he didn’t know if he should. Would he be welcome? Would Estenarven mind? He didn’t think so, but he couldn’t bear it if his Pebble rejected him.
A dark eye slid open to stare at him again. “Why are you still sitting over there?” he rumbled, low and deep and inviting. “Come and talk to me.”
Even with the clear invitation, it still took a long moment before Mastekh could force his legs into movement. He felt watery and weak, but he wanted to be closer to Estenarven, so he got up and padded closer.
Every footfall was a squelch and a frown appeared between Estenarven’s brows. “What’s the matter?”
“N-n-nothing,” Mastekh replied, perching on the very edge of the couch, careful not to touch the Boulderforce lounging effortlessly beside him. He was trying so hard to gather his courage, trying so hard to remind himself that Estenarven had started this courtship, had led the way with the gifts and now it was Mastekh’s turn again. It wasn’t the best gift in the world, but Mastekh thought Estenarven would like it.
He hoped he would.
He really, really did.
Because if he didn’t…
Not allowing himself any further time to think, fret, worry or panic, Mastekh leant forward, bending from the waist like a wooden doll and planted his lips on Estenarven’s.
Well, he tried.
Only, he wasn’t very practised at this and Estenarven hadn’t seemed to realise what was happening, so he moved his head, and Mastekh’s nose got in the way and bounced off Estenarven’s cheekbone and now it hurt and he was embarrassed – and somehow ended up on the other side of the room, face flaming, hands dripping, while Estenarven rubbed his cheek and looked confused.
“Puddle?” he asked softly, carefully, as if walking on tremulous ground. “Did you… Did you just kiss me?”
He sounded so baffled, so incredulous that Mastekh wanted to wail at his failure. But his throat was tight again and he couldn’t speak. He just wrapped his arms around himself, shook his head and crouched down, turning himself into a ball of dragon misery.
“S-s-s-s-” He tried to spit out the word, but it wouldn’t come.
“Don’t.” Estenarven was across the room in an instant, sitting behind him and hauling Mastekh onto his lap, into his arms. “Don’t you dare apologise. Never apologise for trying to kiss me, Puddle. Never.”
Lip shaking, Mastekh bit down on it and nodded. He wasn’t sorry for trying – he was sorry for failing. For making a mess of everything. As usual.
“The only thing you should ever be sorry for,” Estenarven murmured, a big warm hand running over Mastekh’s bony back and soothing away his nerves, “is stopping.”
Relaxing into the reassurance of his stroking hand, Mastekh risked a peek. Estenarven was watching him intently, eyes solemn, expression blank.
“I m-m-m-missed,” he said mournfully.
“Only because I’m an idiot and moved. I didn’t realise.”
Well, why should he have? It’s not like Mastekh had ever tried to kiss him before. Their entire relationship until this moment had been instigated by Estenarven. Even back at their first meeting, Estenarven had spoken first. He always spoke first. He looked for Mastekh, he touched him, he kissed him. Always. Estenarven was a leader. He had confidence, finesse.
Mastekh pressed against the warm, soothing hand on his back and tried to steal a bit of that for himself. Loosening the clasp of his arms around his knees, he straightened and turned towards the Boulderforce whose lap he was seated on.
He swallowed hard over the lump in his throat and reached out, slowly, carefully, saw Estenarven’s neck move on a swallow of his own.
Was it possible? Could his Pebble be nervous too?
Mastekh didn’t think about it too deeply, he didn’t think about anything. He placed his hand on the solid line of Estenarven’s jaw and leant forward again. Still wooden, still awkward, but he moved closer nevertheless.
Estenarven gasped in anticipation and – at the last moment – tilted his head ever so slightly. There were no bashed noses or cheekbones this time, just a slow, incremental, creeping closeness and the warm brush of air across his mouth. Mastekh licked his lips, so close, so very close, and flicked a glance towards Estenarven’s eyes.
They were closed, his eyelashes trembling as the Boulderforce held still, so very still. Waiting. Patient. He’d always been patient with Mastekh, had never rushed him. Not when he was speaking, and not in this. He would never rush him, and if, even now, Mastekh pulled away, fled once again from this gift Estenarven was offering, he would remain patient. He would still wait.
The knowledge settled deep inside Mastekh’s watery heart and gave him the final push to close the last, tiny gap.
He laid his lips upon Estenarven’s, light at first, just a whisper, just a brush. Then again, to take a taste, to savour, to learn.
Estenarven breathed in deep and his lips parted, allowing Mastekh inside for the first time. And he was in control for once, he was leading. Estenarven was an eager partner, but he only followed, only reacted. It was Mastekh’s move, Mastekh’s kiss, Mastekh’s gift.
To both of them.
He cupped his hands around the back of Estenarven’s head and hitched himself closer to the Boulderforce’s chest, revelling in the warm, secure weight of Estenarven’s arms closing around his waist, pulling him closer, holding him tight.
The mouth beneath his widened in a smile and he was soon grinning back, the pair of them laughing even as they kissed on and on and on. Until breathlessness threatened them both and they hugged each other tight, giggling like fools.
“Oh, Puddle, my Puddle,” Estenarven chuckled, rocking them both side to side. “I never dreamed…”
But Mastekh had found his confidence now and wanted to make the most of it while it lasted, so he seized Estenarven’s jaw again and shifted to align them just right. “H-happy third g-g-gift,” he murmured, before falling into their kisses once more.
More next week.
Take care, my lovelies.