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Gedroth is melting!

Who: Jantha, Kai, W’ton, Hattie, Rhodya, Phara, Chielyth, Elaruth, Gedroth
Where: Within the barracks
When: It is a winter afternoon, 15:11 of day 24, month 2, turn 19 of Interval 10.
What: Weyrlings get knots and haircuts; dragons get hairy.

Weyrling Barracks, Fort Weyr

A vast, volcanic bubble has been left in its natural state, creating a
functional -- if unrefined -- home for growing dragons and their riders. There are two large entrances along the eastern wall leading out of this space, with plenty of room to allow dragons and riders alike to come and go as needed. Several rows of rush-lined stone couches, each paired with a small cot and a clothing press, fill the bulk of the floor space.
Tucked off toward the northwestern corner of the ovoid cavern would be a teaching area, with diagrams and other devices for demonstration, such as straps, oiling paddles, and the like. Scattered throughout the chamber at convenient intervals are oil-filled bins, spaced specifically for convenient access. A larger bin is located toward the southeastern corner, which is meant to refill the smaller ones. Storage for other supplies -- cleaning, straps-making, and such -- is tucked behind the teaching area.
There is a curtained off alcove along the southwestern wall that leads to a small bathing area -- just large enough for a few people or a pair of smaller dragons -- while another curtained entry that's approximately in the middle of the westernmost wall leads to a cool, dark cavern where meat is stored. This entry is flanked to either side by bins for meat; weyrling riders can dine at the wooden tables located along the east wall, between the entrances. The natural lighting is augmented with glow baskets that are strategically placed throughout.

Obvious exits:
Weyrlingmaster's Office Bowl

Afternoon might just as well be night for some of the weyrlings, with naps grabbed at all hours and whenever permitted. On his cot Kai rolls to one side and pushes up to sit, grinding the heels of his hands into his eyes blearily. Chielyth slumbers on, a wing cast over her face to shade her poor, delicate self from the light and sound.

Jantha strides into the barracks with a purposeful expression, coming from her office. She raises a hand in acknowledgement to V'rel: the boss is here now. In her other hand, she's got a wooden box which she places on a bench. She calls to the weyrlings, "Right, we need to get you all fitted out with these. Weyrling knots! Come and get them. You wear a knot at all times, from now on. And if anyone needs a haircut, I've brought the scissors."

A woman of about 40 turns, Jantha is of medium height and build, with plenty of muscle but not an ounce of fat visible anywhere. Dark hair that's starting to show a sprinkling of grey is cut short and shaped into her neck, with a short fringe. Deep brown eyes are set in a tanned, triangular face with the beginnings of lines around eyes and mouth, above a neat, straight nose, thin lips and a pointed chin. Hands and feet are small, with the fingernails filed short, and pale, smooth scarring runs across the backs of the fingers of her right hand.

Jantha's smart outfit is mostly made of wherhide, dyed a pale grey. The comfortably-fitting trousers and short jacket aren't warm enough for flying gear, though. The jacket is well-cut, slightly bloused, to allow a sweater beneath, but finishing in a band just below the waist. Today she's also wearing a tunic in a soft burnt-orange fabric, its cowl neckline falling over the neck of the jacket. Grey shoes complete the outfit, and a matching belt-pouch is worn at her side.

Dasarth is wide awake which means W'ton is wide awake. Although neither of them is really relaxing. Dasarth's couch needed cleaning so the freshly minted bronzerider has been doing just that. It's all done and smelling better now though and so the bronze lumbers into it and then twists his head around and around to get a good look at it. It must pass inspection because he curls up and his eyes whirl slower and slower as eyelids begin to close. W'ton lets out a grateful sigh as he comes back from putting up all his cleaning supplies. One palm slides over his head and he grins. "At least that's one thing I don't need to worry about," he tells one of the others by him. But he does step up to get his new knot.

Kai squints at that voice, that call, but doesn't immediately stand. One or two of the other weyrlings, more awake, do head over to Jantha and her box. "What if we don't need it?" calls a long-haired brunette who absently pulls his hair back into a tail and smoothes it. "Sir," B'kaiv grunts at him, reminding, and Hairy appends, "Sir."

Elaruth twitches suddenly awake at a strange raised voice and looks desperately around her; looks for Hattie, who hasn't gone far and pushes herself up to sit on the edge of her bed, hands outstretched to soothe before she's even completed the movement. Hattie's on her feet next, with the gold trailing slowly from her couch as if making one elongated stretch. "Yes, Ma'am," she says, yet her eyes don't leave the gold at her feet and she tilts her head toward Elaruth as though asking whether she's coming along on the short trip too.

Jantha picks out a knot with a bronze thread and hands it to W'ton, then raises her eyebrows as she hears B'kaiv and Hairy. She picks up the scissors and approaches the two young men. Standing before them, she says in a positively dangerous tone, "Do I /look/ like a 'sir'?" The scissors make a distinct snipping sound. "And /you/ certainly need it," the unfortunate Hairy is told. "Sit down and let it loose." Snip!

"Ah, thank you, ma'am," W'ton tells Jantha smoothly before he gets out of the way of scissors and fierce sounding weyrlingmaster. As he goes about putting his new knot in place he watches Hattie, and by extension, Elaruth as they move closer to where he's at. Of course he also cannot help watch the two in danger of snippage. Of hair.

"Ma'am," Kai corrects obediently, with a wry twist to his lips. "Sorry, ma'am. How come we got t' wear knots all th' time?" Hairy looks distinctly less than pleased to be so ordered, but with a sigh - /so/ put upon! - he drops his hands from his hair and back to his lap. "Why do we have to get our hair cut, anyway?" he wonders. Kai mouths at him. "...Ma'am."

"Well, there you go, something to add to the ensemble," Hattie remarks in W'ton's direction, flashing a grin as she pauses a step or two away from the foot of her cot. Elaruth takes this as an opportunity to peer up at the weyrling bronzerider. For the most part she remains behind Hattie, however, and she sneaks more of a peek that makes a proper study of it. Both dragon and weyrling react to the sound of the snip of the scissors, one by trembling and the other by reaching a nervous hand to her hair.

Jantha looks across at the goldrider. "Hattie, would you give out the rest of the knots, please, while I do this? Make sure people get the right colour thread in them." She turns her attention back to B'kaiv and Hairy: that long hair starts to fall as she speaks. "You get your hair cut because you aren't going to have time to look after it long, and because it's a perishing nuisance if it doesn't fit under a helmet, when you get that far. As for the knot, you wear it because you're entitled to it, and to identify yourself. Aren't you proud to be a dragonrider of Fort Weyr? When you get flying jackets, you'll wear a wing badge, as well."

"Lovely, Elaruth," W'ton says in a low murmur to the gold by way of greeting. He shifts his gaze up to grin at Hattie and then steps out of her way so she can see to passing out knots. "Who wouldn't want to wear their knot?" he asks B'kaiv with a flashing smile. His is quite snazzy on his clothes and he makes a slight adjustment so it's hanging just so. In his couch Dasarth lets out a teeny snort and rolls onto his side.

Chielyth shifts in her sleep and B'kaiv is immediately on his feet, looking down at her as though expecting to have to run get food, or oil, or a shovel. A few blinks and the green settles to stillness, allowing Kai to look first at Jantha, then W'ton. "Ain't never wore one before I come here." A last squint at the weyrlingmaster and he heads over to collect one from Hattie. Meanwhile Hairy sighs the sigh of the much put-upon but only fidgets a little.

Since the voice that she's addressed in is soft, Elaruth doesn't cower further and even sneaks in another glance or two up at the bronzrider weyrling. "Yes, Ma'am," Hattie repeats. She makes to retrieve the knots and heads off several paces before she realizes that Elaruth is still making her slow, steady way after her and not keeping up. The little queen gets an expression that just about manages not to be a grimace shot back at her and she stops altogether to tuck her head more towards her body. Upon retrieval of the knots, Hattie manages to distribute a couple of blue and one brown-threaded one before Kai reaches her and she carefully locates one with a green thread to hand over. "Here you go," she chirps.

Snip. Snip. Hairy actually looks quite reasonable once you can see his face, and Jantha does actually seem to know how to give a reasonable haircut, if you ignore the fact that she's doing it dry. "Well, you've got rank now, in the eyes of most of the planet," she tells B'kaiv. "Even if you're the bottom of the dragonrider heap, still, as weyrlings. People outside will respect you, strange as that may seem to you right now. Make sure you deserve it." Snip, snip. "Do you want a trim, Hattie, once I'm done here? Yours isn't too long, but you don't want it getting any longer." Snip.

Once again his smooth head is given a palm rub as W'ton watches the haircut in progress. Fingers flick once more at his knot, such a lovely thing to add to his clothes, but his eyes drift not to the skittish acting gold baby, but to the not quite sleeping bronze. Dasarth lies somewhere between sleep and awake not quite uninterested in what is going on and not quite tired enough to succumb to the idea of a nap.

B'kaiv says, "Thanks," for the tangle of cords in one hand. A glance past Hattie to Elaruth and he wonders, "She tired, or somethin'? I can carry her back t' her couch, if you want help." Over under Jantha's care Hairy sighs again and plucks disconsolately at a lock of discarded brown. "We can let it grow again, once we're not weyrlings, right? It took me -turns- to get it this long."

Hattie's hand strays to her hair again and she nods. "Maybe a few inches," she agrees with Jantha. "I was going to - will - braid it tight to my scalp, Ma'am, so it won't fall everywhere or need washing as much." She shakes her head in answer to Kai and a faint smile tries to curve her lips. "Nah, she's just... her," comes out somewhere between troubled and affectionate. "Thanks, though." Reaching around him, she offers over several more knots to reaching fingers and almost winds the bunch into a tangle in her haste.

Dasarth lets out what might be a satisfied sounding snort or might just be the bronze giving in to sleep and letting out a little snore. Either way W'ton looks over to the bronze and his eyes roll. "Insufferable," he mutters to himself and when his eyes drift to Hattie it's an almost apologetic look she gets before the bronzerider heads to his cot to sit down out of the way.

"If you want," Jantha tells Not-So-Hairy. "That'll be up to you; life will be a bit less hectic then, and it's not as if you'll have Thread to worry about - I sincerely hope. But you'll probably thank me, when you really work out how much time you aren't going to have for that sort of thing. So." She glances round the little group, asking, "How are you all doing at distinguishing your dragon's feelings from your own? Hunger, tiredness, and so on. Itches, even." Her gaze settles on W'ton.

The greenrider doesn't look convinced, precisely, by Hattie's protestations, but he nods and heads back to his cot, stepping around the little clot of eager weyrlings. "Think she likes bein' awake at night best," he answers, though Jantha isn't addressing him precisely. He settles down, one leg folded under him, and spreads the knot out on his leg, frowning at it. "How come they do that? T'rev ain't never said Mecaith does that. S'that just 'cause Mecaith's different?" A hesitation, and a glance sidelong at W'ton. "--Or a bronze?"

Knots go out to the rest of the class and Hattie retreats back to her cot to find Elaruth no longer watching her, but looking round at her clutchsibs, neck craning to get a better look when she can't quite see. The weyrling sits down on the edge of the cot and doesn't look at anyone at all when she says, "Feels like she reacts to every tiny little thing and when she starts, I do," in a low voice, like she can get away with saying it and maybe not have everyone hear her.

Hand to his head where he's scratching absently W'ton pulls his hand away and grins sheepishly at Jantha. "Always been hungry all the time, ma'am," he tells the weyrlingmaster. "So, that ain't so different I think." His fingers twitch and while he keeps them in his lap the minute Jantha's looking at someone else he's scratching his head again and looking over at Dasarth who sleeps on.

"Like what? Being awake at night?" Jantha shakes her head, grinning as she glances towards the B'kaiv's little green. "Mostly when they're like that, it's because they're babies. Human babies are just the same: they don't work on the same sleep schedule as adults. Grown-up dragons tend to like their sleep, though you always get the odd exception." To Hattie, she says thoughtfully, "It might help you to practise calming yourself. I'll give you a breathing exercise, and you can use that to calm down if things get tense. If it doesn't calm her too, it'll at least help you to see if it's her or you that's wound up."

"It ain't that," Kai says, stops, at a loss to explain. He gestures in tight, frustrated half-circles and aborted waves as he says, "Ain't /just/ that. I mean... all of it. The... the hungry. The tired. The... whatever it is Hattie got goin' on." The look he sends to the goldrider has a certain rough sympathy in it, but it's back to Jantha and her victim, who's still sitting like he's afraid the weyrlingmaster will remove an ear if he moves. "How come they do that?"

After a second or two more of staring stubbornly at her boots, Hattie looks up and throws her shoulders back just in time to catch whatever sympathy she finds in Kai's gaze and recoils suddenly. "I ain't got-" she sharply begins, but Elaruth flares her wings and fixes her lifemate with an anxious stare that has her falling silent for a few moments. "Sorry," is quick to make itself known and she exhales incredibly slowly. "Thank you, Ma'am," she tells Jantha, looking at her only very briefly. "I'd... appreciate that," she admits.

"Babies," W'ton says all knowingly like he's had anything at all to do with babies before this. "At least we got each other to commiserate with. Suppose they mostly have us which cannot be so easy since it just makes us feel all...what you're feeling." Not him, of course. He's doing just spiffy! Dasarth's no trouble at all. His eyes switch to look at Jantha as he asks, "Something like that at least, ma'am?" he asks with a roguish grin.

Ex-Hairy now has a neat, straight Beatle-cut, and Jantha's in the process of adding some layers, though she's not exactly striving for artistic effect as she trims, and she's answering B'kaiv at the same time. "You mean, how come you're feeling what she's feeling? It's quite normal at this stage. You can feel her thoughts and emotions, and she can feel yours, and you need to work out what's who. Something you can do, though, when you can be quiet for a while: just sit and try to feel with your mind, where you end and where she starts. Try to notice what her thoughts feel like, and how they're different from yours." She nods to W'ton. "Something like that."

Perhaps Kai glanced back at Hattie for that truncated outburst, or maybe he's nodding to whatever Jantha has to say. Either way, it's a single bob of his head, and his hands never stop smoothing the triple-cord of his soon-to-be knot. "Like... now? Or does she got t' be awake? ...And what's com...whatever that word?" he asks suspiciously of W'ton.

Hattie shoots an odd look towards W'ton at the word 'commiserate', but then she's gazing right at Elaruth with something like adoration hidden deep, deep beneath a determined frown as she attempts to placate the young gold with low murmurs and gentle hands. Once those little wings get folded and tucked back into place, Hattie turns from Elaruth a touch to set about dealing with her knot.

"Commiserate," W'ton repeats to B'kaiv with a grin. "Means to sit around and feel sorry for each other. To help each other through tough times by being in those same tough times." It's not /quite/ a lecturer's tone, but it's nearly veering there at the end. He just cannot seem to help it. So busy is he on explaining the word he misses Hattie's look wanting to keep an eye on the weyrlingmaster as well in case she takes offense somehow at something he said.

"It would help if she's awake, but you can try it when she's asleep too," Jantha answers B'kaiv, meanwhile frowning in concentration as she gets Hardly-Hairy-At-All's fringe straight. "You can at least feel what's her being tired and what's you being tired." She moves round her victim, lifting hair and cutting successively so that it falls into neat layers. "All right, let's /all/ try this breathing exercise. I want you to breathe in for a slow count of four, hold it for a slow count of four, and then out for four. Then repeat." She pauses for a moment to let them get ready, then, "In... two... three... four.... Hold... two... three... four.... Out... two... three... four. And repeat." She stays silent, giving them the time to do the exercise for themselves. "If you do that when you feel wound up, or when he or she's getting agitated, it'll help to calm both of you."

"I ain't sittin' around and feelin' sorry for -nobody-," Kai starts in a growl to W'ton. You can almost see the hackles lifting. But Jantha's instructions neatly head off that display of temper; he scowls at his knees instead and breathes. Well, mostly following Jantha. With him it's more like in, two, pause, out, two, set the jaw, and always, always flatten his poor abused knot. In her wallow, unattended, Chielyth peeks out from under her wing before yawning with a cute little squeal.

Hattie tries, she really does, to do the breathing exercise, and evidently feels like a fool whilst she does so if keeping her head dipped and her dark eyes aimed at the ground betrays anything of her mindset. A second attempt is made with her eyes closed and she doesn't get to see Elaruth sink gently back to her haunches, or see those wings get a cheerful little flutter. She does smile, however, which is... something.

The reaction from B'kaiv hardly creates a ripple in W'ton's charming calm. He's not worried about the other weyrling at all. When breathing exercises are explained he goes right along with them. No problems here! Of course Dasarth continues to sleep too so that might be helping the bronzerider out.

Jantha watches the weyrlings breathe. "That's it. Four in, hold for four, then four out. Practise that when you remember, and use it when things get stressful for you. We'll teach you other things to do, too, but that's good for a start." She walks right round Looks-Quite-Good-Now-He's-Not-Hairy, takes a few further snips until she's satisfied with his haircut, and then dismisses him with a cheerful, "There you go. Who's next?" She takes herself off to attend to the long thick locks of one of the greenriders, and leaves the rest to themselves.

Not-Hairy-Anymore mutters a sulky, "Thank you sir. ...Ma'am!" and gets up to clean up the mess left behind. Kai stares after the Weyrlingmaster as though he'd interrupt that haircut, but folds his arms over his chest and settles back in his cot instead. Chielyth burbles at him and hides her face again when he turns to look; he snorts and rolls to his feet, letting his knot fall unnoticed to the floor. "Gonna cut some meat for her before she's hungry - anyone else want some?"

Those breathing exercises did their job and then some when it came to making Rhodya relax. Likely unnoticed by anyone but Gedroth, she's fallen asleep right there on her cot, held upright by the wall she's leaned her back against. Tired of watching her, her dragonet marches forward to investigate the hair left behind after the latest cut, and when Not-Hairy-Anymore comes back with brooms to clean it, he'll find Gedroth sitting right in the midst of his mess, snuffling and sneezing at the loose, dry hairs.

Hattie opens one eye and peeks at Elaruth, who tilts her head in response and makes a soft thrumming noise in her throat, eyes dappling a bright, happy green. That all just prompts a silly little giggle from the weyrling, who silences it quickly and lets the laughter linger in her eyes. "I'll come help in a minute, Kai," she calls across the barracks. "Good to get ahead of the game and all."

Dasarth continues to lie on his side breathing in and out and W'ton rather than use any breathing exercises seems to be breathing more in time with his bronze. "We're fine," he tells B'kaiv with a grin. "We'll just commiserate with each other when he wakes up." Again his hand lifts and he starts to scratch his head until realizing what he does and then pulling it back down. He meant to do that. Yep.

"Right," Kai nods to Hattie, venturing a smile; W'ton's echo is done in a much tighter voice. As he crosses the room to get to the meat (freshly delivered only an hour or so ago) Chielyth pops her head out of her wallow to stare, delighted, at Gedroth. More eager burbling and she pulls herself out of bed to cross to her brother, whuffling likewise at the discarded hair.

Gedroth's been oiled recently, so you see, he's kind of sticky. Shoving a sticky nose into a pile of hair has an obvious result: when he looks up again, he's got a mustache. A very irregular, wispy mustache, but a mustache all the same. << Hello, Chielyth, >> he greets the green. << How long do you think it takes them to grow these things? Rho isn't awake, so I can't ask her. >> He glances back at his sleeping rider, then to Chielyth, and his eyes whirl faster. << There's something moving on my face. >> He can't quite manage to see it, though.

The knot gets shoved under her pillow for safekeeping and Hattie stands to head after Kai and to the joys of meat-cutting. Elaruth sneaks after her a few steps but is soon left behind again, her eyes still that bright green eve as she watches her lifemate get further and further away. More sneaking has her slowly advancing towards her green and brown siblings with a clatter of a cry to greet them. A cry which Hattie doesn't miss and has her grimacing. "Let's get to it then," she says to Kai. "This isn't quite as revolting as I was expecting though, I gotta say."

A study in contrasts is this mid-sized brown, his build all odd angles and long planes on a spindly body that gives him the distinct appearance of a bundle of sticks. His hide boasts an even coloring with little to dispel its uniformity other than an undercurrent of ochre that intensifies here and there. A swathe of this warmer shade sweeps along browridges and under round, alert eyes only to vanish into the near-drab of his neck and re-appears again along wing tips like the late rays of sunset. Overlong, his neck seems endless, its toasted-tipped ridges smaller and less prominent than average and in places, almost flat, more like little raised patches of hide than proper ridges. A narrow-muzzled head with a long nose bears high-set eyes that peer out at the world with uncannily sharp and interested intelligence. His limbs are the gangling sort, awkward and at odds with his body except that when he moves, it all starts to come together in the tip-toed steps of a dancer, though that long, flat-topped tail is more of a menace than a help.

At 0 turns, 0 months, 2 days old, Gedroth is 3 feet, 9 inches long with a wingspan of 6 feet, 6 inches, standing 2 feet, 6 inches tall at the shoulder.

Chielyth bounces, back feet to front, like a particularly awkward rocking horse. << Oh! You are melting! >> she announces with glee and a spray of sunshine, almost knocking into her much bigger brother. << Your face is coming off! Elaruth, come see! >> Her rider hands over a knife, hilt first, to Hattie with a little snort. "You ain't never done this before? It's worse when they start out mooing, but that's over quick, if you're good."

Gedroth dances back from Chielyth's enthusiasm, his whiskers waving wildly all the way. << My face is /not/ melting, >> he tells the girls, but he does sound a little bit concerned that it might be. Plopping his butt down (which of course means that when he moves, he will have even more hair on him), Gedroth wipes a paw down his nose. Some of the hair gets pushed off, others wind up stuck to his paw, and one devilish strand goes straight up nostril. A/CHOO/!

"Never before I had to feed her," Hattie confirms. "Worked in kitchens, sure, but that and this are pretty different." She takes the knife with a nod of thanks and just gets on with the work. "Though you'd wanted to be a guard? When've you done this?" she asks Kai. Meanwhile, Elaruth quickens her pace into a bound and skids to a halt beside Chielyth to observe Gedroth with obvious curiosity. << You cannot melt! >> she exclaims, leaning towards alarm, sealed at alarm by the loud noise of the brown's sneeze and she rears back.

"Grew up at a waystation," Kai explains, waiting until Hattie has a good hold on the knife before either releasing it or turning back to his work. "Had t' make sure people got fed, those as wanted t' eat, anyway. This ain't much different." Heedless of the blood he grabs up a leg by the hoof and starts carving off fist-sized chunks. << It -is-!! >> Chielyth crows, twinkling like the night sky. << Your face will melt off and then it will get stuck to your feet! >> This is a fabulous enough idea that she crowhops again, tail flailing wildly as she tries to keep balanced. << Elaruth, do not be afraid. I do not think you can melt. >>

Gedroth whines loudly, looking back and forth between Chielyth and Elaruth. << Help me, >> he demands, getting to his feet again. He pads towards Elaruth and bumps his chin against her, trying to use her shoulder as leverage to push his melting face back into place. << I'm not supposed to use my feet on myself anymore. But I am not melting! >> He ducks his head under Elaruth's, looking sternly back at Chielyth. << If I could melt, Rho would have told me about it. >>

Hattie isn't quite so good at ignoring the blood, but she gets on with the carving anyway. "I guess," she agrees. "Might've known how to run a Hold, but I never really got into any of the... Well, I rarely saw anything actually go from mooing to not." Elaruth is a bit shocked by the sudden contact and lets out a high-pitched cry as Gedroth presses against her. << I'm trying, >> she returns, hoping a snort will do the trick, not that it does much good. Another snort follows and she squeals, prompting, "Ela?" from Hattie.

Phara has been sequestered in the Weyrlingmaster's office for awhile now. She finally emerges, hefting a broom in one hand and a bucket in the other. She glances around and smiles shyly at a few weyrlings who meet her eye curiously. "If you don't sweep it up quick enough, hair gets everywhere," she says by way of explaination to one of those faces, a one-sided shrug offered with her words.

One more slice and Kai turns at the draconic fracas, plants his hands on his hips heedless of the bloody one. "Chielyth!" << Now your butt is melting! >> the green twinkles, crouching down to peer up at her sibs, hindquarters wriggling. "Chielyth!" Reluctantly, and with a decided air of 'But Daaaaaaad!' she bounces one last time, careening into the hairy cot, then trots oh-so-innocently over to Kai. "Sorry," he apologizes gruffly to Hattie and scoops up the few handfuls of meat he'd cut, takes Chielyth to a quieter corner to feed her.

Gedroth sticks his legs out in front of him and braces for Elaruth's snort in his face. It ruffles his 'whiskers' again, and he gets one of those scrunched-up looks that suggests a sneeze is on the horizon. Unfortunately, manners are not something he's learned about yet, so he releases that sneeze straight back at Elaruth - a fine reward for her helpfulness. Not that it occurs to him there's anything wrong with this. << I felt funny when you did that, >> he tells the gold. He sticks his muzzle out, bringing it even closer to hers. << Do it again. >>

Elaruth just about manages to keep herself righted, though Gedroth's sneeze has her stumbling back a few paces. She hangs her head for a moment and her wings flare out to try and cover it, shield her from the world. During all of this, Hattie hangs back and watches from where she is, one hand pressed to her head and a pained look in her eyes. It takes around a full minute for Elaruth to tentatively fold her wings back and stretch out to simply rest her muzzle against Gedroth's for a beat or two. Confused, she snorts again. << Like that? >>

Gedroth prances in place, making an odd clucking noise at the back of his throat. << Yes. Like that. >> He crinkles up his nose again, but this time - not wanting anything to interrupt his play time - simply whomps it against his foreleg to drive the sneeze out. Once it's gone, he looks at Elaruth and snorts back at her, his breath whisking sraight up her nostrils. << Do you feel funny too? >>

Elaruth jumps and her wings flare out again to balance her. << I do now! >> she declares, shaking her head from side to side. As she does so, she finds stray hairs clinging to her wingsails and looks back at Gedroth in alarm. It's all too much and she folds in on herself, trying to keep her muzzle rested against his for reassurance, until Hattie relents for one reason or another and crosses the barracks to attempt to calm the little queen down and guide her back to her couch.