Even though she had been choosing for herself Lauruth could not have chosen a better mate for her rider as well. R'mia had been an ideal Flight partner, relaxed and patient with Keetin's inexperience. True he desired Elysia and the feeling was mutual, but now he had been with a man and stranger both. Someone not Elysia, not even a woman, had won and everything was okay. It was a very positive experience for Keetin. Even after that day R'mia continued to invite Keetin over for fun in the furs. At first Keetin was hesitant, unsure how Elysia would take it. The moment he got a chance he discussed it with her though and found Elysia had no problems with him having a good time with R'mia. Shells but he was so lucky he had her in his life! The times with R'mia were
fun but Elysia...she really added something precious to his life. Keetin made every effort to see her when their schedules allowed.
All of that however was not enough to distract him from the issue of Lauruth's clutching ability. She had finally Risen and had been Flown successfully. That her mate was a blue was of little consequence; if she was fertile she would clutch. A blue had sired a clutch with a zultanite before so Keetin had no reason to fear Lauruth's choice would cost her in that regard. A blue sire would likely mean a smaller clutch and mostly lower ranked colors but it was still a clutch, that all-important first clutch that marked her as a queen for all to see-if it came.
That was Keetin's main fear now as the sevendays ticked by. Surely Lauruth would grow somewhat egg heavy, even with a small clutch inside? She had to, she just had to! Lauruth remained completely confident she would clutch, even as Keetin fretted and doubted and drove himself half crazy over the matter.
Eggs take time to grow my dear,
she informed Keetin calmly one day. When the time comes you will see.
But what if that time never came? What if there were no eggs growing within her? What if, what if, what if!
The questions ate at Keetin though he did his best to push through them. Until the day Lauruth definitely did not clutch he was a queenrider and he had duties to attend to.
Even when Lauruth went into the Hatching Grounds Keetin thought little of it. Probably another act to reassure him, a thought that kept Lauruth quiet initially as she settled in. He still doubted, still worried. Anyone and everyone else could see she was egg heavy. Not as much as she could be, sure, but enough to confirm she had a clutch growing within her. Keetin was allowing himself to be blinded by his fears. Well, no more! Lauruth very deliberately kept to herself when the time came. She knew of course that Keetin would likely feel her pain but she still made every effort to hide it in the beginning. One egg. Just one egg. Solid proof that his fears were unfounded. That was what she was waiting for, refusing to call for him any sooner. He needed to see for himself how wrong his fears were. With the way he was fretting she half expected him to freak out and call the dragonhealers down on her before the first shell hit the sands-if
she called him too early. Pains in her belly from a false clutch? The sage queen snorted and worked the sands, only pausing to tense and breathe when a contraction rippled through her. Soon. Soon she would prove to Keetin that she knew exactly what she was doing and her condition. Not that it was so much he doubted her
as he simply let his fears eat away at him. His good reason went between
ever since her Flight. Soon...
Keetin did indeed feel phantom pains through their bond, though he did not recognize them as coming from his beloved dragon at first. Instead the young man wondered what he had eaten that was not agreeing with him, or if he had strained the muscles in his abdomen somehow and not realized it. Either way the spasms were uncomfortable and distracting. Yet just as he was considering visiting the infirmary they abated. A sigh of relief left him with the pains, Keetin relaxing somewhat. A perfect state to be called away from his work, apparently.
It was done! Though she knew there were more to come, it only took one to prove her point. Lauruth hummed smugly to herself before reaching out to her rider. No doubt he heard and felt her smugness just as much as her love when her mind brushed against his, but she didn't care. This was the moment of truth and she was eager to have him join her.
Keetin my heart, I require your company. Meet me by the Hatching Grounds please.
Then, because she could sense him forming an argument to stay away and tend to his duties: Now, Keetin. This is of utmost importance. Any rider will agree with you that I am more important than silly papers and meetings. I want you to attend me now and if I must let the entire Weyr know I will!
It was a threat she very much intended to follow through and Keetin knew it. Groaning aloud at his dragon's poor timing in being difficult he excused himself, muttering about what an ornery beast his usually sweet girl was being.
In a blink Lauruth had company of another sort however. The zultanite snorted when she spotted Venna and immediately put a mental muzzle on her. He must see for himself,
she insisted firmly, though not unkindly. If you can get him here without ruining this surprise Venna I will be infinitely grateful to you.
Big words. Why were Hers and Lauruth so fond of long, complicated words? The hybrid flit grumbled, trying to piece things together. She was used to this chatter by now, having been spoken to in such a way pretty much since she hatched and Impressed to Hers. The trick was finding the meaning of all the fancy words, feeling for it. She was not to tell Hers...something. What she was not sure. There was a big secret Lauruth was hiding but she could not figure it out. Best to play it safe and not tell him a thing. So when she found Hers once more and alighted upon his shoulder she chirped and sent him an image of Lauruth in the sands, along with a sense of urgency. That one wanted him now.
The sooner the better. Mercifully, she did not include the single egg-though to be fair Venna had been distracted by Lauruth muffling her and hadn't noticed it.
Great, instead of clearing things up sending Venna to check on Lauruth only further complicated things. Now his flitter was urging him to-
Keetin stopped suddenly, rocking back on his heels and earning an indignant squawk from Venna, who had to fight to regain her balance from the jarring movement. The Hatching Sands?!
Lauruth had told him to meet her near
them and yet Venna's image clearly showed her inside
the sands, making herself right at home. Of all the stupid, crazy... Keetin's eyes rolled skyward as he tried to collect his patience. How was he going to explain his dragon's odd behavior? Ugh!
Quickly he made his way to the Hatching Grounds, not bothering to look for Lauruth outside them and instead striding in with swift, stiff steps that spoke of his annoyance-as if his dragon couldn't pick up on it through their bond! She was quick to growl at him, displeased at the thoughts she picked up on.
I am not acting for your benefit Keetin!
she snapped. Right now you can work yourself into an emotional knotbread for all I care! But before you do...
There was no further warning, if her last words even counted as such. Lauruth snapped her head forward, quickly grabbing her rider and hauling him clear off his feet. Later he could blame hormones for all she cared but right now she was adamant that he see her accomplishment. Though she was careful not to hurt him too much Lauruth had lost all patience with him. Instead of waiting for him to look on his own she plopped him unceremoniously on the sands near her precious egg.
she growled at him. I believe that is what you've been driving yourself up a cliff over and there are more to come. Is it so much to ask that I have my rider's company while going through this?
It was being picked up and dropped in the sands that finally got Keetin's attention. This was not at all like the Lauruth he knew. For her this was downright vicious behavior, against her rider no less! When he looked up, eyes wide in shock, it was not at the egg his gaze was directed but the dragon who had laid it. Even if he caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of his eye it didn't immediately register, not with the shock at Lauruth's behavior.
Immediately she regretted having been so rough with him but he was being so difficult! A sigh gusted out of her, followed by a sweet croon of apology. Again her head came near him though much slower, Lauruth opting to nose at him. Look Keetin. I promise, this is worth your time,
she crooned to him, her regret clear to Keetin through their bond.
Yet Keetin did not look. Instead he slowly got on his feet, dusted himself off, looked at Lauruth once more...and opted to wrap his arms as far around her muzzle as they could reach. I am sorry Lauruth,
he murmured to her. I let the stress of recent times turn me sour to you...and that is highly unfair of me. Nothing else should matter but that you want, even need, my company. Now what is it you are so eager to show me?
This time Keetin let Lauruth guide him, pushing him gently with her nose, until he froze with shock anew. An egg! What she wanted him to see was an actual, real, freshly laid- Y-yours?
he stammered, too stunned to think of anything else. His back vibrated as Lauruth rumbled, her nose still lightly against his back.
Of course mine. Do you know any other egg heavy dragons? That is only the first but now you know. Will you stay with me until they are all laid?
Ah, that was the Lauruth he knew. So sweet, loving him as always, wanting him near for such an important event...now. Keetin frowned at that, turning a puzzled look to Lauruth. "Why didn't you call me sooner?" he whispered out loud.
Lauruth sighed and wrapped him in a mental hug. Would you have come if I tried?
she countered, a note of sad resignation in her mental voice. Would you have been willing to stay with me until the first egg was clutched? You seemed ready enough to yell at me when you came in.
Which stung because it was the truth. Keetin grimaced and hugged her again. That was my mistake Lauruth and I am very sorry. You must know how much. I am here now and I...I am sorry for not having more faith in you these last few sevendays.
More croons met his apologies. Faith was not the problem,
she informed him gently, Fear was. You let it control you Keetin. I hope now, together, we can break its hold on you because it pains me feeling you suffer so dear heart.
That was the last straw for Keetin. Undignified as the sight would be should anyone else be around, tears began to leak from his eyes as he hugged his dragon tight. You already have,
he assured her with a surge of love for her. And nothing will tear me away from you today. It can wait.
His words were such that Lauruth shifted, nudging him away from the egg and towards her front. Though puzzled Keetin allowed her to herd him away-and then against her chest. Once he was in place Lauruth opted to give him the best dragon version of a hug she could muster, along with nuzzles and croons. The love he gave was mutual and as strong as ever, as they remained in the sands and more shells joined the first. This clutch proved small, smaller than the last blue-sired clutch had been...but a clutch nonetheless. Lauruth was a proven queen and Keetin could not be prouder of her!
He was no less proud when they hatched. If anything he was happier than ever. The clutch could have been nothing but greens and blues and he would have been overjoyed. There were six new weyrlings at Atricis Weyr, thanks to Lauruth. Shells...who needed a gold? He had a dragon far better than any of them.
((Insanely overdue but finally posted. And knotbread = pretzel, my attempt at coming up with what Pern might call them...))