- Not just here for the cake (JP: Dytha/Cuylar)


IC Date Reference: Set almost immediately after the events of ‘Delicately rummaging is of the utmost importance’.

And it was done. It felt as though it had lasted for days and both she and Ponth had been emotional and exhausted by the time the green brought them both back to Zlorenth’s ledge, landing clumsily in her tiredness. They had re-lived all of it. Every last, ugly detail and all of the hurt that came with it. Dytha was relieved it was over and had wanted to retreat to the weyr in order to decompress. And probably cry. At least Ponth had forgiven her for keeping the memories secret, now craving the contact of her Rider. For a while, they had merely sat there, Dytha stroking the green’s headknobs until she had managed to doze off. And Dytha, she needed tea. So much tea. And maybe a bigger than usual piece of cake.

Leaving Ponth to rest in the warm afternoon sun, Dytha padded through towards the kitchen, setting the kettle on to boil.

Cuylar was not the sort to mistrust his friends. Far from it. But he was also the sort to check up on his friends individually to make sure there was nothing they needed that they might be too embarrassed to say in front of other friends or in group settings.

And if any of his friends needed a little extra checking up on, it was Dytha. So, one day between drills and his shift in the Infirmary, he decided to take the opportunity.

Elphith landed on the ledge, and Cuylar poked his head in.

"Dytha?" he called quietly, just in case. He had fallen into the habit of taking extra care not to wake babies, and this continued to be his habit even when babies were not there.

Whilst waiting for the kettle it had seemed like a very good idea to find comfortable clothing. The sort that allowed comfortable naps. Because a nap was likely on the horizon. So she was wandering back out of the bedroom, pulling a clean, well-worn shirt down when she spotted the familiar head. “Either you smelled the cake or Cremsden told you Ponth was being gold questioned today.” The smile was a little wry but the tone was warm. 

Elphith had been greeted with a tired warble, an eye peeling back slightly as Ponth shifted slightly to make more room for the other green.

"Oh, the cake, for sure!" Cuylar said cheerfully. "I didn't mean to wake you." There was a kettle on, so it seemed likely she had already woken before he arrived, but he apologized nonetheless.

"How are you feeling?"

“Didn’t wake me, just needed comfortable clothing. Shells, I feel like my mind is trying to melt out of my ears like it’s the first day of weyrlinghood again…” Dytha waved for Cuylar to come in as she headed towards the kitchen. “Got the kettle on if you’re a tea drinker. Or do you just pretend to like it around peculiar people who do?”

"I like it just fine." Cuylar smiled. It was no klah, but it was good enough in the interim. "Thank you for sharing." He followed her in but waited to sit down until she was ready to do the same.

"Is Ponth doing alright?"

Dytha began to fuss around the kitchen, pulling out cups and a part cut cake appeared out of another cupboard. “She’s a bit overwhelmed. I think Nykantieth still has a bit of a calm compulsion on her. Wasn’t… wasn’t all that fun walking through it all again.” There was the sound of a sigh from inside a cupboard as she reached for the small tea cannister. “Think Cremsden or Margana wanted to come with. Felt it was something better to do alone so I didn’t get distracted or try to keep things back. Andronda was decent about it though. Not pushy.”

"I can understand why they would want to be with you. I would offer to go with Bl'by… if he had to do the same." There was quite a bit of underlying trauma there that would most definitely have to be taken into account if such a thing were ever necessary.

"But it's good that you did what you feel was best. Sometimes it's easier to get all of your thoughts and feelings out in the right order when you don't have to worry about how someone will take them."

Emerging from the cupboard, Cuylar got a firm nod of acknowledgement. “Exactly that. Sounds terrible, but I didn’t want part of my head to know who was watching or how they might be feeling in case it made me push back on giving it to Ponth so Nykantieth could see it. Feels like a bit of a shitty thing to do at the same time.” There was a moment of silence as she attacked the cake a little more viciously than it needed to be. “Glad it’s done. Now they can do what they need with it and hopefully keep the bastard locked up.”

Wandering over, Cuylar was presented with a plate before the whistling kettle demanded attention. “How you keeping, anyhow? Or you also just here to glean more gossip to tease Cremsden with?”

"I'm fine," said Cuylar around a bit of cake. "Tired as usual. Excited about babies doing baby things. But I'm always up for teasing Cremsden – what's the latest?" He leaned forward and grinned.

Leaving the tea to brew (weak tea did not belong in the world), Dytha tossed a chuckle over her shoulder. “I owe the sod payback. He gave me a full on guilt trip about not visiting my family. Next time you see him, innocently ask him why buttons are so interesting. Although you might want to stand back from the impending facial heat explosion.”

"That does sound fun," Cuylar chuckled. "So, he gave you guff about visiting family? I have to twist his arm to get him to come see my mom. Which, I guess, is not technically his family, but… But she is, so. Did y'all go visit, then? Tell her all about how you're living together and such?"

Tea appeared, strong and decently sweetened and Cuylar was gestured to go take a seat as she handed him a mug and wandered off to claim her usual couch corner. “Came up in conversation that I’ve not visited since before Impressing. Got the full ‘don’t let your mam find out you’re dead in a letter’ stern face.” It came complete with a bad impression of a Bitran accent and a scarily good impression of Cremsden’s stern face. “It’s on the to-do list. Apparently I don’t have an excuse not to since I’m not back in the Infirmary yet.”

"Oh, you didn't go, then? I bet I could get the rest of the day off, if you want to go now." Cuylar felt pretty confident she would say no, but it was fun to offer, anyway. 

“Only came up t’other day. And today I suspect I’ll be in bed before the sun’s even set.” There was a tired semi-scowl. “Need to figure out what I’m telling them first. They’ve been given the ‘everything’s fine, nothing to worry about’ version of events. They’re in the Protectorate so even a glimmer of worry will have them kicking down the Weyr’s main gates. Apparently it’s more of a crime that they didn’t declare me dead to them when I Impressed and still haven’t gone to see them.”

"Sorry, I'm not really trying to make things hard on you." Cuylar offered a soft, apologetic smile. "Hm. Are they going to have heard much about it before you tell them?"

“Their version is - I have a dragon too small to fight Fall so you don’t worry I’m going to die horribly and I’m allowed to be a Crafter again. An absolute win in their eyes.” Dytha gave him a small smile back, clearly not having taken any offence at his probing. “Thankfully they’re the sensible sort who adjusted fairly quickly to the dragon part. I still blame my Da for cheerily pointing out that canines shag on the random but still know how to be loyal.” There was a very blatant eyeroll at that, remembering the cheery grin that would no doubt have accompanied the man’s statement. “Then of course it’s answering the ‘soooo what have you been doing? Anyone special?’ And the very obvious side winks. I’m working on the whole ‘well I was stalked by a two thousand turn old Bluerider and now I’m temporarily shacked up with a Healer and his Blueriding weyrmate who took me under their wing.’”

Cuylar was going to have to remember that bit about the random canine shagging – that was good. But something else made him quirk an eyebrow.

"Temporarily, is it?" he asked. He would not judge, of course, but at this point, he was getting more long-term vibes from this than temporary.

She did seem a little surprised as though she hadn’t expected that it might be questioned. “I’m assuming it is. I mean, Cremsden and Margana were… well… Cremsden and Margana long before we all noticed I’m apparently very nice to cuddle with and make good cake. So it’s only natural to assume that at some point we’ll all realise I’m taking up a bit of space and the… novelty, so to speak, has worn off a bit and they want their bed back.” It wasn’t disparaging, nor was it a sympathy ploy. That was blatantly obvious. It seemed more that in her head, that was just the entirely natural lifeline this whole peculiar situation had.

"I… er…" Cuylar blinked. Was that really how she thought of what they were doing? "Well, I'm not saying that this is guaranteed to last forever, but… Just because they were them before y'all were all o' y'all… doesn't mean they're going to get tired of you. Or that they're only keeping you around for the novelty. If I know Cremsden – and I like to think I have a pretty good read on him – I would say he doesn't fool around just for the fun of it."

Dytha was nibbling at small bits of the cake. She wanted to eat it but the emotional rampage had still left her a little… churny. So she was being a little careful. “Oh, he doesn’t strike me the sort to go off and play away. Neither does Margana for that fact.” And it was true, they didn’t. “I mean, I’m not saying I’m disliking what’s happened… weirdly far from it. And I’m still trying to put my head around how Cremsden has gone from ‘the grumpy Healer I like arguing with in the Infirmary’ to ‘huh, naked? Awesome’.”

"I've always assumed that the fact that Margana stays with him means he's phenomenal in bed," Cuylar grinned and winked to show he was joking. "I really like you being here, too. For whatever that's worth."

That did prompt a small laugh and her ears definitely went a little pink. “Oh well, I was surprised. Lets just say that. And they didn’t go running for the hills when we had a ‘Talk’ and I gave them a bit of insight into… well… personal preferences.” Reaching for the tea, there was a happy sound as she sipped at it. Tea was the fixer of everything. “And thank you? It’s nice to know I’m not being side-eyed as some sort of homewrecker and had some scheme to slide in here and cause damage.” The cheerfulness of the tone lifted the sombre connotations that fed into more Holder mindset hanging around than she’d like to admit.

"As far as I can see, you've been a home improver all around!" Cuylar said. He could not deny wondering a bit how that conversation had gone, but he supposed if she had wanted to elaborate, she would have.

“Oh my mother would be delighted to know that I’m basically playing the happy little weyrwife, cooking and feeding people to my heart’s content.” It was more amused irony than dark sarcasm to her words. “But no, don’t worry that I’m planning some midnight flit and hurting everyone’s feelings. I’m just… being practical that this is more likely to be a temporary situation. Even if I don’t quite get why it feels like it’s been a thing for turns and not in a bad way. I swear, I still keep going ‘wait… how did this happen again? I mean, Ponth’s still clearly besotted with Zlorenth but I can’t keep blaming her.”

"Some of the best things happen when you're not expecting them. Like Elphith and Ponth," Cuylar pointed out. "I'm glad to hear everything is going well. I think it's likely to keep going that way."

The small frown she gave him was definitely confused behind her mug. “You do? I won’t lie, as much as it’s the whole… Cremsden and Margana being… well… them, a bit of me is like ‘well you knew they wanted to know you were safe. When everyone knows you’re safe, surely that means it’s time to go back to the weyr you abandoned. Like it’s just… natural to assume that’s the way it’s going to go. I mean, they’re already a complete family unit - even got the offspring to prove it.” The frown deepened a bit. “I… don’t really know how these… situations are meant to go. I mean, their weyr, they’re in charge, I just make sure I keep making cake so they don’t get a reason to throw me out. Faranth help me if I burn a cake.” It was slightly not a joke but clearly more a joke. Just tinged with genuine thought under it.

"They wouldn't have gone this far if they didn't mean it," said Cuylar, reaching across the table. "And just because a family is complete, it doesn't mean it's full. Imagine if they had another baby – you wouldn't expect them to kick it out because they already had Arden, would you?"

"I understand managing expectations, but… Well, if you don't mind me trying to butt in and help, my advice is to be careful you're not letting your fear get the better of you. I think they would be pretty sad if you decided to go back to your old weyr."

That did prompt a laugh, an actual one. “I’m fairly sure Margana would have to fight Cremsden off if she caught again and she tried to boot it out. I’m amazed he hasn’t adopted half the motherless babes in the Creche already and tried stashing them in the cupboards.” Dytha used her finger to press some cake crumbs into a buttery ball that wouldn’t go to waste. “And honestly? I really don’t think it’s fear. Really not. I mean, I come in here and whoosh… all I want to do is do all the little home things that make people happy. Or in this case, what makes Cremsden and Margana happy. If I had a tail, it would probably start wagging if Cremsden patted me on the head and said ‘good girl’.” 

Cuylar definitely grinned at that last bit. He had a fairly good idea how that felt himself – not that he had ever asked anyone to call him a good girl.

"I know that feeling," he admitted. "Not from Cremsden, but… … actually, maybe a little bit from Cremsden, but in a totally different way." He laughed.

“Cremsden has… commented about it. If they did want me to stay. Honestly? I don’t think I took him all that seriously. Not that I think he’s a liar, perhaps more a… shells, I don’t even think I know what it is.” She waved her hand in a non-commital gesture, slightly frustrated that she couldn’t get the words right. “Sometimes I know it’s my old Holder-head kicking in. The damage it does when relationships involve more than two people. Then it’s more… like I can’t see why it would be anything more than temporary and that at some point we’ll amicably go ‘well, that’s that then. Thanks for the fun times’.” Dytha shrugged, her face frowning a little at the vagueness of the sensation. She couldn’t quite put any of it into place.

"Do you need a hug?" Cuylar offered. "If Cremsden got up the courage to actually say out loud that he wants you to stay, he really wants you to stay." He understood the concern regarding relationships with more than two people – they only worked with communication and openness about everything. Maybe that was why he wanted to offer to be that conduit to help them get used to saying things they were afraid to say.

Some things were a little dangerous to say, especially when you were already feeling wobbly with emotion. Some words had the ability to kick aside constructed safeguards like they were made of poorly laid bricks. So when Cuylar had asked if she wanted a hug, the truth was, she hadn’t heard much more of what came after. It had settled somewhere in her head behind the sound of a sudden sniff and a wobbly nodded head.

Cuylar stood and pulled his chair next to Dytha's, put his arm around her, and then leaned his head against hers.

Dytha liked warm mountains to hide behind. Although just about everyone could be classed as a mountain in her world, even the likes of Cremsden. There was the sound of a wet sniffle as she leaned against Cuylar. “Do like being here,” she asserted firmly behind a wobbly voice. “Just don’t like thinking it might be trouble if it lasts too long. Or upset anyone. I like Cremsden. And Margana. Just don’t want to… cause ruffles.”

"They like you, too. And they want you to stay," Cuylar assured her. "They're not going to get bored or tired of you. And they're not going to let you come between them. Well. I mean, they are. But only in the fun way." He grinned, even though Dytha could not see it. "They both want to be with you. So you're not going to be a wedge. If anything, you'll be like glue."

There wasn’t full crying, just the odd sniffle. Most of it came from the emotional exhaustion from that morning than it did from real upset about the situation she was in. The worry she had was more a niggle, even though Margana and Cremsden had already reassured her she wouldn’t bring any trouble to them. From somewhere near his arm there was a spluttered snort that definitely tried to be a laugh. “Is fun,” she mumbled into something possibly arm shaped but her face reappeared, only a little blotchy. “How do you mean glue? And no comments about body fluids.”

"I mean, you know, because it's the opposite of a wedge. Or maybe that's a vice… but that doesn't sound as positive," Cuylar laughed as he rocked a bit gently side to side. "You won't tear them apart. You'll make all three of you closer together."

“Can’t get much closer in that bed as is…” Dark humour. Definitely a good sign. “Already talked about flights ‘cos chances are Ponth will want Zlorenth to catch again.” She wasn’t entirely sure why the point felt relevant, but decided that it did. “And am not really the, you know, more… exploratory Greenrider. Am okay with same and familiar. Like it.”

"Cremsden probably loves that. Flights already made him uncomfortable because he can't even really hear it when a gold goes up… So if he knows the two of you will probably end up together instead of with someone else, well. I'm sure he likes the thought of that," said Cuylar. "Is that exactly what he said?" 

There was a pause a moment whilst she rifled through the conversation they had had and it had come up again during their ‘Talk’. “Said he didn’t mind if Zlorenth caught Ponth. Margana said it too. Know he doesn’t like the ‘during’ ‘cos Riders aren’t… completely ‘in the room’ as he calls it.”

"Psh. ‘Didn't mind.’ That goof. I would bet a fairly large pile of marks that he not only wouldn't mind, he would be thrilled," Cuylar insisted.

“Why do you think that? I mean… I know he… seems to like watching, if that’s what you mean.” Definitely looking a smidge pink around the cheeks and couldn’t be blamed on a face being squashed into a tunic.

Cuylar laughed. Of course, he did.

"Not exactly. Mostly, I mean he had already come to terms with the fact that flights mean Margana ends up with other people sometimes. It's just part of riding," he explained. "But now, if his mates end up together, that means you're not ending up with someone else."

That… actually made a lot of sense that she hadn’t really stopped to think about other than ‘it’s okay’ from both parties. However she had to fight the urge to choke a little when Cuylar casually dropped ‘mates’ into his sentence. “I’m… going to carefully ignore the word you used there so my mind doesn’t fall over itself. But… I get what you mean. Has to be… not easier in a sense… but at the same time, sort of is… less of a… worry. Because shells, he knows how to worry, doesn’t he?”

"Faranth's golden egg, but that man knows how to worry," Cuylar groaned. If Dytha wanted to ignore the word, then so would he, but it felt weird to call her just Cremsden's ‘bit on the side’.

Dytha moved away slightly, not entirely breaking the friendly embrace but not quite needing it to the full extent. “Poor Margana, she’s got two overthinkers to manage now. I do feel for her.” She rubbed her face, brushing away the stray tears that had somehow escaped. “Flight thing makes more sense though. Hadn’t stopped to think much past the ‘we’re okay if it happens again’ from them.” And that was another thing, she clearly had both Cremsden and Margana as part of the same box, almost a little like they weren’t singular units but part and parcel of the same thing.

Cuylar nodded. Then he considered for a moment how he was going to say this next bit without being too weird.

"So. Not that word. But have y'all decided which word is the right one?"

There was the confused frown again. It probably made her look a bit like she was trying to fight off a sneeze. “We’ve… not talked about it. Just more… what we were all okay with. Like… you know… rules.” Another pause and the frown furrowed a bit more. “Not really thought about it. Am just… theirs, I suppose.”

"That… is incredibly sweet." Cuylar smiled. "Well, that sounds like that word to me, but I'll keep from sayin' it if it makes you feel better."

The face pursed even further into thought. “Needs to come from both of them.” It was a suddenly firm assertion, even if was a little strange after wobbling between clear ‘not sure where my head wants to go’ directions of thought. “Maybe that’s why I wasn’t listening to Cremsden. Needs to be both.”

"Yeah, I get you," Cuylar nodded. That was fair. If Dytha presumed, but then they shot her down, that would be the absolute worst. "Well, I don't usually talk to Margana by herself… Not that I'm avoiding it or anything, it just… doesn't come up that often. But anyway, I can tell Cremsden he should get Margana to tell you so you don't have to worry. Right after I ask him about the button."

The comment broke the tension, not that there had been much, but it provoked the right response - a dark chuckle and a fleeting twinkle in less teary looking eyes. She was definitely going to need a nap at some point, that was for sure. “Oh ask him. I mean… keeping it polite, I was surprised. Definitely not the sort of side I had him down as.”

"Skies above, I need to ask him about it soon, apparently!" Cuylar laughed. "Here. I'll stop keeping you from your cake." He scooted a little further away and up to the table and took a sip of his tea.

“Do it before he can control the blushing.” She used the space to reach for her abandoned cake and equally abandoned tea. It wasn’t quite in ‘too cold to be considered tea’ territory yet. “You know we’ve even had ‘the baby talk’? Cremsden is smugly taking credit for… fixing some other things I had going on. I swear I was ready to punch him when I saw his pleased with himself face.”

"I love babies," said Cuylar, beaming. "So, you've already decided to have one?" he asked. He could guess what issues she might have had after being stalked by an abuser, but he would likely still have to revisit the ‘amazing in bed’ joke. If it even was a joke!

“Oh shells, don’t tell me you’re as bad as Cremsden and secretly plotting to adopt all of the Creche babies,” It was definitely a tease and not a cruel jibe. But she shook her head. “No, not anything like that. I got all worried about if I wasn’t taking the teas properly and… you know… something happened whether it would cause him and Margana problems. Seeing a theme here?” Dytha paused, grabbing cake and chewing it thoughtfully for a moment. “Cremsden said you have my file now. So there’s stuff in there about things not happening once a month. Other Healers typically said weight but that’s not really an excuse now. So likely physical stress of dealing with feet. You know how bodies are.”

"Ohhh." Cuylar chuckled and shook his head. Of course, he should have thought Healer before he thought… well. That. "Yeah, I can see that you three need to keep talking," he agreed. "It sounds like you're off to a good start, but if this worry is really bothering you, you should definitely bring it up."

“More a… present niggle,” she admitted around half a mouthful of cake. “Doesn’t eat at me all day every day. And doesn’t stop me enjoying it. Honest. But agree about the talking. Otherwise I think I would eat myself up with even more ‘what if’ scenarios. Not that I overthink or anything.” Dytha definitely pulled a bit of a face at that, fully aware that if she and Cremsden ever had an overthinking stand-off, it would possibly be a close thing. “So, in short. Like being here. Not complaining about extra legs in a bed. Like making cake for Cremsden and Margana. Just not seeing why would be more than a bit of a thing for now and I end up back in my weyr and probably looking sadly at my very empty bed.”

"Then you want to stay," said Cuylar. Not much of a question, but it seemed he expected her to answer, anyway. It would be much better, as far as Cuylar was concerned, if she got rid of that worry sooner than later. Whether she wanted to downplay how worried she was or not.

“Not my choice, not really. I mean… I’m the… extra bit, if you want to call it that. So they get the main say. Feels rude otherwise. I know, before you even give me a funny look. That’s weird. My head says I’m the guest so their say is more important.” Dytha was momentarily distracted by remembering there was tea, reaching for the mug.

"Just because they were already together when they met you, it doesn't mean you're less important," Cuylar insisted. "It's not a matter of Dytha is with Cremsden-and-Margana all together. Cremsden is with Dytha, and Dytha is with Margana, and Margana is with Cremsden." Cuylar knew he was being a little presumptuous, but he had to be pretty close to right if not right. Right?

“You missed out the bit when we’re all together…” It came absently as she drained her mug, only to stop and blink in some surprise as though her head stopped to actually look at what Cuylar had just said. The look of slight bewilderment very much suggested that her head hadn’t looked at it like that in any shape or form. “I… wait… what?”

"Well, yeah, that whole bit there was you're all together. They're not a couple plus you. The three of you all together are… a… triple… or whatever. You get me? The relationship is all three of you, not them plus you. Am I making sense?" Cuylar tapped his chin and wondered whether if he said the exact same thing one more time, it might be clearer.

There was a moment’s very thoughtful silence. You could probably see it taking shape over her head as Dytha mused. “You are…” she said slowly, still clearly very much in thought. Her eyes flickered over to him for a moment before hopping away. “I promise I’m not being deliberately obtuse about all this. I’m really not. Just… feels a bit like my head has put this… hurdle there of ‘there’s them and you’re just bolted on the side’. If… that makes any sort of sense. I mean… ‘them plus you’ pretty much… summarises up how my head puts it. Like… merging it would be… presumptuous?” She sighed and glanced back over at him. “This is where you’re going to say we need another sit down and talk, aren’t you?”

"Oh, for sure!" Cuylar said cheerfully. "I can mediate if it will help," he laughed. "And some couples might treat you that way, but Cremsden and Margana aren't the type to… treat someone like a toy. Cremsden probably can't even stomach the thought of having sex with someone he doesn't really care about."

“Hmm…” It was another very thoughtful sound and she realised, a little sadly, that the tea was now definitely gone. As was the cake. “I… think maybe... “ A pause. A consideration. But then it was dismissed. “I agree with you there. They’re not as… freely indiscriminate?” It was a highly diplomatic way of saying ‘jumping the furs here and there’. “Either of them. So at the same time it’s… also really obvious that it’s not just about… casual dalliances…” She was clearly trying to be very diplomatic in her wording because at the end of the day, Cuylar was also Cremsden’s friend. The frown furrowed a bit more and at this rate, her eyeballs would probably turn inside out. “I think my… needing permission for things… might be… interfering.” There was half a pointed look in the sense of ‘please tell me you sort of understand what I’m saying so I don’t have to go into detail I really don’t think I want to go into’ plastered on her face.

Cuylar grinned more broadly as he was fairly sure he took her meaning.

"Well, when it comes to those kinds of needs, talking about them is definitely the best way to get them met."

“Oh we did…! I mean… I sort of… gave an idea…” Now she was definitely looking a little flustered. “I didn’t want Cremsden to pop a blood vessel on the spot by… you know, going into detail.” There was definitely a little bit of a squeak in her voice now. “I meant… whether it’s sort of, getting into my head about what’s… okay to assume. About what we’re all doing.”

"Hey, it's OK. Really, you can be as open with me as you like, and I'm not going to judge you or tease you. I will probably tease Cremsden, though, which may not be fair, but… Such is life." Cuylar grinned.

"But yeah, talking about it is kind of an ongoing process. Not really just a one and done kinda thing."

Cuylar was subjected to a thorough scrutinising. Lesser beings had likely been reduced to ash under a similar inspection. “Ambrelli is the only other person who… really knows much about this,” she offered a little hesitantly, a precursor to establish that it wasn’t a topic she bandied about the Dining Hall. “This whole thing with Cremsden and Margana? Totally new. But I’m not completely wet behind the ears. And despite my flight issues I was having with Ponth - I’ve… been a patron at the Black Wagons for a good few turns.” A pause as she weighed up her wording. “I… don’t like being the one in charge. In fact very much the opposite. But safely. And not just about getting hurt… Elphith might remember a bronze that Ponth used to hang about with a good bit. His Rider was safe. But in charge… But not just when we were being… intimate. My brain likes knowing someone is in charge in safe places. And likes doing things to keep the person in charge happy…”

Cuylar's smile did not waver, and he most certainly did not look at all shocked or appalled. 

"Maybe next time, we can go together. You know, just for the shopping, of course. And maybe a few of those half-rolls – those were delicious," Cuylar said. "Have you told Cremsden to use his journeyman voice on you yet? He might need some practice to play that part in the bedroom, but not much, I'd wager."

"And besides that, I hope you're not mad at me stealing your weyrm– er. Your. Uh. Cremsden and Margana's cake. Since I'd bet that's one of the things you do to make them happy."

“They’re a lot of fun up there,” she chuckled with a little twinkle in her eye. “Got to try some of that fancy passionberry chocolate… now that was different…” It wasn’t a ‘no’. Because going somewhere like that just for fun and not ‘fun’ actually seemed like a rather entertaining idea. 

“And no, not mad. You’re in the bubble of ‘allowed to be given food’. Otherwise I wouldn’t have told you about it and would have growled if you got too close to the cupboard.” She caught the verbal fumble but didn’t comment on it. That was a different hurdle. “So Cremsden and Margana know… a bit about it. Truth is… he didn’t need his Journeyman voice…” Definitely pink. Really pink. “... ‘Good girl’ does the job.”

"Aww, that's so sweet." Cuylar beamed, absolutely tickled. "Well, you really are the absolute sweetest. And I know the appeal of that one myself. Well, not good girl, but you get the idea."

"I'm super happy for y'all, really. Absolutely giddy, really."

Elphith more or less rolled her eyes. ((Say ‘really’ again.))

[[Hush, you.]]

More peering and a small nod, it seemed more a nod to herself. Some sort of internal confirmation. She was nurturing a very small idea that Cuylar possibly knew the wavelength she was carefully treading around a little better than she quite had the courage to come out and ask. Maybe another day.

“Don’t let the Infirmary hear you say that. I like keeping people on tenterhooks because they don’t know how much I’ll bite.” Definitely a small edge of relief in there, almost as if she half expected a different sort of reaction to her… insight.

"I don't go around blabbing people's personal stuff, I promise," Cuylar chuckled. "I mean, except now I'll tell you all of Cremsden's. The stuff he's told me, anyway. He probably has his own chestful of secrets that even I don't know about."

There was a small giggle, “Thank you, I have a reputation to uphold as small but fiercely sullen and likely to glare at people asking stupid questions.” Which was probably true. Especially when it came to stupid questions about her feet and ‘have you tried…?’ The cake was also, sadly gone. “Cremsden’s secrets, ey? Might have to take you up on that to find something to really annoy him when he’s being particularly exasperating. I’m holding off on the stuff to make his head implode for when I’m feeling especially mean.”

Cuylar laughed. "Well, don't be too mean to him," he said. "He's a good man. One of the best I've ever known, really. But yes, getting back at him when he's being a pickle is certainly satisfying."

“Oh no, I don’t want to be actually mean.” The idea looked positively horrifying to her. “More… withholding cake privileges type of mean. For when he’s being particularly obstinate because my Faranth, he can be stubborn. I swear I would have woken up in the night to find him poking my feet if I hadn’t let him look at them in daylight.”

They had spent a while longer enjoying quiet and friendly chatter. It was a pleasant reprieve from the earlier events of the day and though she might not have realised it, much needed. It probably would have gone on for much longer if it weren’t for the fact that Cuylar spotted her all but falling asleep into her empty mug, the emotional exhaustion creeping up on her.

The reality was that talks did need to be had, even if just for her own peace of mind. But right now, the only thing that was going to be happening was a nap. Bidding Cuylar a fond farewell, Dytha saw the man safely out, Ponth rumbling quietly to Elphith before she retrieved her most comfortable blanket. Nothing was going to happen without a nap.

= End =

Nutmeg on the Wizzy.
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I'm sometimes slow and have the memory of a sieve at times, so don't hesitate to poke me if you think you've been forgotten!