Prompt: Closest thing I can get to those things is wanting to see a rothnen pair that's happy with each other/glad to find the one from their dreams. by pygmymuse. Ficlet O'Clock Truth or Dare
So frankly, I should’ve finished Jhemet’s coming to Vardin story first, but it didn’t like me, so this is what you get.
Liana Mir reads, writes, and wrangles the muses from her mundane home in the Colorado Rockies and, occasionally, from the other side of the Barrier.
Story Within a Story
Story Within a Story - 508
Story Within a Story - 510
Story Within a Story - 517 W
To Dance with a Dragon
He preferred the translation, Never assume anything.
Etienne has a few assumptions about this girl, this woman he may one day marry. She doesn’t much mind setting him straight.
Vardin Science Fiction Fantasy Romance
Vardin Science Fiction Fantasy Romance
Judge not what you do not know.
— a Rothanari proverb
“You look comfortable.” Etienne leaned against the entry arch of ancient gold stone leading into the family area. He was the oldest son of his Household and often took up that assessing, faintly skeptical stance.
Jhemet, the object of his scrutiny, glanced up at him from her book and grinned. She tucked her feet back up under her dress and snuggled a little deeper into the couch before the great family hearth at Household Calai, then took another sip of tea.
She was dressed as a daughter of Etienne’s house, in a dress of deep velvety blue flaring past her knees. Her hair was different, tucked up high instead of low. It shimmered black and framed the dark gold skin common to dragons and to other Households of Vardin, those of Britak or of Mereta perhaps. Etienne never could put his finger on what made her the same, what made her other. Jhemet, familiar with his scrutiny, said nothing.
“So.” Etienne’s speculative gaze roved over her one more time. Remarkably innocent gaze too, considering his night dreams had recently become definitively not innocent. “You’re a dragon.”
Jhemet grinned at the faint incredulous uncertainty running through his voice. From the time he had first seen her dancing in that waystation between the high mountains of Rothnarak she had once called home and the valleys and foothills of Vardin, his own land, she had enjoyed teasing him and playing coy. He had brought her home because he recognized her and she clearly had recognized him as well.
She almost laughed but managed to smother that beneath a smile. At last, she stated primly, “‘Judge not what you do not know.'”
The translation was somewhat rough. She hadn’t actually mastered the Vardin dialect, despite two years with their family. Etienne preferred the translation, Never assume anything.
He shook his head and sat down beside her. Despite all her friendly, almost childlike ways—and if he admitted, at only fifteen years old, she had a right to them—she was a dragon, born of the rogue houses he had fought and protected his people against all his life.
Another season until her sixteenth birthday, just a few short months and she would be considered a woman. It was getting harder to ignore his dream lover’s presence in his own home. “I know you,” he grumbled. I know you and you act nothing like a dragon.
She just shook her head at him, disagreement, and it shook loose a snatch of that silky black hair. He dared to reach out and brush it back behind her ear. She froze and blinked at him. He almost never touched her. Her gift was fire, but his was touch.
“I know dragons,” he repeated, “and I know you.” He stared at her intently, demanding an answer with that gaze. He wanted to understand this woman, love her if it was possible. Rothnen, the soulmates. They knew their own when they came of age.
A small frown troubled Jhemet’s mouth for a moment, but hesitation faltered into a smooth shrug, and she put down her book with a sigh and handed him her half-empty teacup. She stood, turned around, and threw her hair out of the way so he could see the butterfly burn peeking out atop her dress in the back, chemicals writ in a pattern to change the body beneath it.
“I locked it in,” she admitted, the first she’d admitted as much to anyone.
Etienne reached out and brushed his fingers against the burn, startling her as their resonance flared and she felt the intensity of his touching her and that sensation slammed back into him through their shared bond. He had realized they were rothnen, but he had never felt it so intensely, never realized how deep the bond went. He could feel her inside even though they hadn’t yet chosen each other, hadn’t made the commitment that could make them one. His fingers fell away, quickly.
Before there had been a Queen to bind them, before his kind had even existed, before humans could breathe fire and be named dragon, before humans could touch and alter another’s genetic pattern and be called Template, before their parents had ever been born, there had been the bound. A pattern painted to constrain power or strength. When dragons and the gifted had come into being, Vardin’s houses had willingly allowed such bindings to temper their strength and the Queen’s hand to be able to stop them should they wish to destroy the world. But the Households of Rothnarak had remained rogue and unbound—until now.
“You’re bound,” he said softly, realizing it with his own startled wonder. She had not waited for acceptance or a Queen. She had painted her own pattern on her own skin to keep herself from causing harm.
He heard her breath catch and watched her turn to meet his gaze with troubled black eyes. He had always thought her beautiful. Perhaps she too had wondered whether they could ever really have common ground, her a dragon, him a guardian. Etienne handed her the teacup and she took it.
“Tomorrow we open dance,” he reminded her.
Slowly, Jhemet nodded. It was summerlight. It was time for the great Houses to gather and dance and renew their acquaintances.
He realized she had not understood him and tried again. “I would open dance—with you.” Rothnen were born for each other, thus bonded, but it took a dance to reach the point where they were willing to choose each other and be bound. She had been dancing when he met her, but she had been too young and he had barely been old enough himself.
She did not misunderstand him this time. Jhemet’s face lit with her brilliant smile, one he had found could take his breath away. She cradled her teacup against her and settled back on the couch beside him, tucking herself familiarly close. “Read.” She gestured imperiously at her book.
Etienne took that as a yes.
If you liked this story, you may also like The Cloths of Heaven. Please consider sharing this story or tipping the author at left.