Disclaimer: All concepts relating to the world of Velgarth, and kingdom of Valdemar, are the sole property of the author Mecedes Lackey.
Notes: This here one-shot is written for, and dedicated to the lovely Kierseth. Happy Birthday lady! You asked for “humour or maybe angst”, and I’ve sort of combined the two for you, I hope you like!
Shifting to Silver.
Most people would reckon that being a Healer, and a damn good one at that— even if I do say so myself— would be more than enough excitement for one person to have in a lifetime. Perhaps, if my life had turned out differently, I would have agreed and gone along happily with the notion of me-as-Healer.
I never did get the chance to get used to wearing Greens, however, because of the advent of a certain person by the name of D’Trion, who is somewhat lacking in the hands department—
What do you mean ‘is he limbless?’ What kind of question is that to ask, pray tell? Well… yes… I did say that he was hampered in the hands department, I didn’t mean that he’d had them chopped off though! Honestly!
D’Trion is a Companion. Hence the no-hands thing. He’s also my Companion… as well as being the Companion that has just waved his nose in greeting at me from across the Field and fallen into a shallow stream.
I really should stop sitting here, using Jayk as a handy backrest, and go see if ‘Trion is alright, I guess—
:No need! I’m fine!: D’Trion is struggling back onto his feet, having obviously picked up on my surface thoughts, and has now managed to separate the stream from himself. Not without a fight however— he’s going to need a good quarter mark with a currycomb to get that silt out of his tail, not to mention off of his poor legs and hooves.
The Whites clad chest that my back is semi-leaning against is shaking, and I can hear the quiet chuckles coming from my Lifebonded.
“Has ‘Trion ever managed to get more than a few feet before disaster strikes him in unusual and varied forms?” Jayk’s melodious voice is also laced with laughter and I wrinkle my nose inelegantly and elbow him in the ribs.
“You wouldn’t be slandering the good name of my Companion, would you?” I ask in a mock offended voice as I turn to gaze into his depthless dark eyes. He smiles down at me, and I get the same hot-and-cold shiver throughout my body that his smile has always invoked in me, since the first day we met partway through my first Field Circuit.
“Oh, maybe…” He teases as he learns towards me, until our noses are almost touching. He chuckles in a breathy fashion and I glance up at him, green eyes glittering through my once-dark red eyelashes.
“Well, if you are—“ I blink slowly and seductively at my Lifebonded, causing him to blush, a raspberry colour faintly staining his golden cheeks, “— I may have to take steps to chastise you.”
I smile slowly at Jayk’s surprised expression; usually he’s the one springing the seductive-romance thing on me. I wrap my arms around him and tangle my hands in his soft, streaked dark hair and about to kiss him—
An unpleasant cold and wet something has just landed on my head and is now slurping it’s way slowly down the back of my neck. My face freezes with disgust, and I vaguely notice that Jayk is wearing a similar expression.
:Oops,: the Mindvoice echoes apologetically in my head and I pull away from my lover and turn to stare blankly up at my very muddy Companion, who is blinking blue eyes at me in a contrite fashion.
“Great timing.” Jayk tells D’Trion as he reaches out with one hand to remove the slimy crown of pondweed from atop my head. He has a similar fashion accessory, and the telltale strands of green tangled in ‘Trion’s mane and trailing down his long face point to him firmly as the culprit.
:I said I was sorry!: D’Trion protests, flattening his ears, causing another clump of muddy greenery to make a break for freedom— it lands with a splat on Jayk’s outstretched leg and he looks distinctly unamused.
“Yes, but look at the state of us—“ he waves one hand at our Whites, which are now more of the Smudged Browny-Greens persuasion.
D’Trion, and Jayk’s Saffa, long ago gave up the pretence of using each other to communicate with the one of us who wasn’t their Chosen. Actually— thinking about it— Saffa never bothered with that in the first place, and once our Lifebond was apparent and reasonably stable, ‘Trion joined her in kicking small holes in the Silence.
The short version being; that the both of us have a pair of white not-horses talking in our heads. Joy.
Speaking of Saffa; the short mare has just popped up behind D’Trion and is giving her Chosen a significant look. :You deserved it.: Her Mindvoice echoes tartly in my head. :Honestly, the pair of you maintain the “hedonistic Herald” reputation practically on your own!: Her good-natured vitriol is punctuated by weed shifting nods from my Companion.
Jayk is gaping like a fish and I giggle and elbow him in the ribs again. “I think we’re being ganged up on, love of mine.” I observe wryly. “By a pair of horses, no less.”
:Hey!: The predictable indignant response from both ‘Trion and Saff is comical in it’s synchronised nature and Jayk smiles.
“And you deserved that.” He says with satisfaction, as he continues to pick fragments of streambed and pond life out of both of our hair. “Honestly, ‘Trion, where did you manage to find all this muck?”
:Uh,: If Companions could blush, he would be going a strawberry colour right now. :I sort of fell over—:
“I saw dear,” I tell him, “we both did… but it was only a little stream. You look as if you’ve trawled the bottom of Lake Evendim!”
Saffa extends her nose to sniff at D’Trion’s flank and snickers. :She has a point, you know.:
:Hush you, or I’ll nose you.: ‘Trion fixes a stern eye on Saffa, who responds by sticking her tongue out and crossing her eyes.
:Pish.: She responds. :Try it and I’ll tell ‘Sethi not to groom you and you’ll turn into a mud statue when that little lot dries solid!: Saffa’s sapphire eyes dance with amusement as she settles into her second favourite pastime of bickering good naturedly with my Companion. Saff’s favourite pastime is something similar, and usually involves myself and her Chosen, and her advising/teasing us on “compromising positions”.
One of the first things I can remember her saying to me, just after I’d met and fallen for Jayk was an offer to vacate the stables so that he and I could have some “quality time” together, accompanied by as much of a leering wink as something distinctly horse-shaped could manage.
:You are a terrible person.: D’Trion has totally missed my internal monologue, and is looking at Saffa with reproach.
:I know,: she replies impudently, :it’s a side effect of knowing Jayk for so long.:
“Saffa,” my Lifebonded finally seems to have found his voice, and is now looking up from examining a stain on his sleeve, joining D’Trion with the Hopelessly Reproachful Kicked Puppy Eyes at his Companion.
:Oiii… you pair are pathetic.: Saffa sniffs and turns her attention to me. :Aren’t they?:
“If I agree I’ll get poked and possibly kicked, Saff.” I point out to her. “Plus I’ve gotten rather used to having these pair around—“ I pat ’Trion on one muddy foreleg and lean back against Jayk, shuffling my back from side to side to get comfortable, “—plus, if I annoy Jayk, who’ll keep my feet warm at night?” I smile in a devious fashion and chuckle softly.
:There is that.: Saffa agrees in a serious tone, slightly spoiled by the amused glances that she is shooting over my head and at Jayk.
“You are as bad as each other.” He points out as he wraps warm arms around me. I sigh in satisfaction and cover his hands with my own.
:They’ve known you too long.: D’Trion pipes up. :Kierseth was much less conniving until she met you.:
“Conniving?” I raise an eyebrow at my Companion in protest, earning a confirming nod from him in return.
:If I were you I’d tell him to go for a swim in the Terilee to get clean rather than groom him after that kind of insult.: Saffa is whickering with amusement.
“I might just do that,” I pull a ‘conniving’ face at ‘Trion, who responds by hastily stepping forward to nuzzle my cheek.
:I apologise! You can groom me!: A bundle of slender, bright green weed slips from around his left ear and winds it’s way gracefully and quickly along his nose, clinging to the end for a moment, before plopping into my lap.
‘Trion gives it a forlorn look as Jayk and Saffa dissolve into mutual fits of giggles, which I can both hear and feel as a warm effervescence in the back of my mind.
“Never mind.” I pat him on the nose and smile as he sighs. “A bit of pondweed never hurt anyone.” If it did, my poor ‘Trion would have been stretched out on the ground with his legs pointing skywards long ago.
:But I’ve made your Whites all green.: He observes in a mournful voice.
“I don’t think she’ll be hampered too much,” Jayk has managed to regain control of his breathing enough to smile at both D’Trion and myself, “considering that’s she’s a Healer, and all.”
:There is that.: Saff nod vigorously nods her head and attempts to look wise. And that is my Lifebonded and his Companion all over: The pair of them can change mood and mindset at a speed that leaves the average cat on a hot tin roof looking like it’s sat too long in the tanner’s glue. I suppose that it at least keeps both ‘Trion and I on our metaphorical toes.
A breeze drifts past my nose, carrying with it the rich and sharp scents of pine needles and summer flowers from the direction of the Grove and I sigh quietly and exchange a look with D’Trion.
He raises his muzzle slightly and sniffs the air, before exchanging a wordless burst of thought with Saffa, who nods in agreement. :This is all very nice but—: my Companion sighs, :—we’ve run out of time.:
I sit up and swallow, suddenly nervous. “Are you sure?”
:This was an extra afternoon as it is.: Saffa says. :Besides, it’s time.:
“Can’t argue with that logic,” Jayk sighs as he shifts his weight to his hands, which are now on the fence behind him, and levers himself to his feet, before offering me one hand. I accept it and pull myself up, wincing as my hips protest and several other joints go pop.
A wayward tangle of once red— now silver— hair catches around my nose and I brush it behind one ear, before slipping one arm around Jayk’s waist and pulling him close for a hug, which he reciprocates.
The Companions move up so that they are on our respective sides, and I loop one arm around D’Trion’s neck, twining his silvery, pondweed laden, mane around my age spotted hand whilst keeping my right arm firmly around my lover’s waist. Jayk mirrors my actions with Saffa and the four of us set off in a companionable silence, walking towards the Grove.
As we near it, the sunlight seems to brighten, until a pure golden glow is streaming past us, carrying with it all tiredness and regret. I turn and stare in wonder at Jayk’s face, unlined and crowned by black-brown hair once more, before lifting my hands to stare at the smooth skin. Laughing with delight, I fling my arms around Jayk’s neck and kiss him soundly, before breaking away and spiritedly clambering onto D’Trion’s back.
Once settled on his pristine hide, I grin at my Lifebonded, who is already scrambling towards Saffa.
The mare seems to read my mind and I get the sent impression of a grin in reply. :Race you?: She suggests mischievously.
I laugh again, as the melodious chiming of a great Bell begins to shimmer around us. “Of course.” I reply, before leaning over D’Trion’s neck. He responds by springing gracefully forwards, his hooves hitting the misty ground in perfect time with Saffa’s.
They are running so perfectly together that Jayk and I are dead level and I exchange a small smile with him.
Then, using the incorporeal stepping stones that the Bell chimes really are, the four of us race into a field of endless silver.
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