Sterling stopped by the dancing square to listen to some of the music and watch the dancers, but was quick to move elsewhere, wanting to see everything before settling any specific place. So from there, the food court was visited to sample a bit of drink and some food. She particularly liked a heardbeast steak skewer cooked by a Southerner stall, and got a second one on her way to the merchant stalls to munch on.
It was hard to not spend more time over at the merchant stalls and traders. There was so much to look at, and some of the stall tenders tried to reel people in. Sterling knew how to talk them down so they didn't keep her distracted or convince her to buy something she didn't need or really couldn't afford. A stall of jewelry, Sterling couldn't help but stop to look at. She admired the various works, the delicate chains and perfect settings and wonderfully chosen stones. She didn't buy anything though, moving on to continue, finding another jewelry seller she decided to check out and compare.
They had a lot more stock than the other stall, but the stuff was of lesser quality. It didn't necessarily make the stuff bad though, she said as she looked things over. What did make it a lesser stall in her opinion though was much of it was over priced for the quality or the stones being used not worth as much as claimed here. It was as she was making this silent observation she noticed the stall tender, who had left her be when they realized she was just a window shopper, was trying to convince an elegant young woman to buy a jeweled hair clasp. For a moment, Sterling just watched nonchalantly, but when it seemed the stall keeper was wearing the woman down, Sterling couldn't help but intervene.
“Excuse me, but I wouldn't buy that,” she outright said, talking to the young woman. “Not for that price anyways,” she then added. “Some of the settings are a bit loose, and these jewels here aren't rubies, those are garnets, they're far too dark for rubies, and garnets are worth a lot less. It's not a bad piece, but it isn't worth nearly that much. I'd say it's worth half of what he's asking.”
As she said this to the woman, Sterling could feel the shop keeper grow angry.
“Oh, well, in that case,” the woman said, sounding a bit disappointed by the reveal but setting the clasp back down in the display case. “I suppose I don't need a new hair clasp,” she then commented toward the shop keeper before she turned away. Sterling was quick to follow, ignoring the shop keeper that she was sure spouted a very impolite name toward her and was about ready to curse her out, but she ignored him blatantly, catching up with the young woman.
“Excuse me,” she called again, reaching out toward the woman, but stopping her hand before she made contact when the woman turned around. “There's another stall, it's got much better pieces there, it's a little pricier but the stuff there is well worth it. I could show you if you want,” Sterling offered, hoping to make up for potentially ruining the woman's interest in purchasing herself a new trinket. It was as she said this, Sterling realized the woman was a Southerner by the curve of her face and eyes.
“Oh, well, that's ok,” she started, but Sterling shook her head.
“It's no problem, I might as well make it up to you,” she insisted, giving the other woman a friendly smile, hoping to look inviting so she could show the other woman the other stall. A moment later, the woman agreed, and so Sterling took her to the stall and had the stall keeper show them their hair clasps and hair ornaments. Sterling stayed, and even helped the woman out a bit when she seemed unsure. When the woman made a comment on liking the clasp but it being a bit more than she could justify spending, Sterling placed a few of her own marks on the stall counter in front of her, smiling.
“Don't worry about it, I would like to help you get something you like,” Sterling assured with a smile. Sooner after, the woman had purchased her new hair clasp, and had the stall keeper help her put it in her hair.
“Thank you so much for all your help and generosity,” the woman said to Sterling with the clasp now in her hair. Sterling couldn't help but admire the clasp in the woman's dark hair, or how the hair framed the woman's face and dark eyed.
“My name is Auri, I would love to know yours,” the woman continued with, looking at Sterling hopefully. Sterling just smiled.
“Sterling,” she said with a nod, earning a slightly quizzical look from the woman.
“That is a... unique name,” she said wit ha bit of a grin, and Sterling just laughed a bit and nodded.
“Most Northerners don't have names like mine, but at least it'll suit once I pick back up smithing,” she finished with a chuckle and a smile, earning a chuckle from the Southern woman as well, who nodded in agreement.
“I would love to show my gratitude for your help, perhaps some food?”
Soon, Sterling was sitting back in the food court with Auri, sipping at some wine with the woman and nibbling on a bit of food as well. They sat and talked for a while, and Sterling couldn't help the way she felt around this other female. While Sterling had somehow never had negative opinions of same sex couples, she honestly never really had thought about it as a possibility for herself, though she had noticed being attracted to some women sometimes. This though, getting to know this other woman, noting how her eyes sparkled when she spoke about dragons and their hatchings, or how long her midnight black hair was, Sterling couldn't deny her instant attraction to the other woman. Sterling found out this woman was Southern born, but was a dragon candidate hopeful living in the Weyr. Soon they finished their meal, or at least noticed their food and drinks had been emptied for a while and sunset was imminent, however, both seemed a little reluctant to just say goodbye so quickly.
“Perhaps we could go see the dancing square before the bonfire,” Auri suggested, and Sterling jumped on the suggestion, wishing to spend more time with the other woman. Once at the square, for a bit they listened to the music, then talked about the beautiful songs and the skills of the harpers. Soon, Auri asked Sterling to dance, and the wherling was taken aback by this, not thinking women could dance together, but not wanting to say no.
“Fair warning, I'm not very good at this,” Sterling chuckled nervously as Auri smiled at her in reassurance and led her out onto the dance floor. Soon she was leading her through a slow and careful dance, the steps were small and simple, keeping Sterling from stepping on Auri's feet. Well, more than once at least anyways. Two songs went by before the pair of women noticed the first song had stopped and they led each other off the dance floor, Auri holding onto Sterling's hand and Sterling unable to ignore it, glancing down curiously at the interlocked hands.
“I'm sorry, I didn't meant to,” the woman suddenly said, seeming like she really honestly hadn't tried to do it on purpose, but Sterling just smiled and shook her head.
“It's ok... I kind of like it, your hand is soft and warm,” she said with a chuckle, slightly nervous about admitting that, but having the forwardness to say it at all without turning several shades of red. Auri smiled in return.
“Would you like to go to the bonfire with me? They should be lighting it soon.” The Southern woman asked, and Sterling agreed, accompanying Auri to the bonfire where they were indeed just now lighting it and soon groups of people arrived to appreciate the flames or dance around the fire that soon became their dominant source of light on the beach. After a while, Sterling and Auri wandered away from the bonfire, down the beach a little ways. Not terribly far, they could still see the bonfire, and could still hear the music and laughter of people dancing around the fire, but it was just enough so it wasn't all as loud and they felt a little shaded from the large group.
“I know we just met, but I've really enjoyed spending the Gather with you,” Auri admitted, possibly blushing, but her darker complexion kept that immediately hidden from Sterling's eyes, nevermind the dimmer lighting on this area of the beach. Sterling smiled and nodded in agreement.
“I'm glad I stepped in then, I don't think I would have had as much fun on my own.”
And then, there was a moment, a moment where they stood awkwardly staring at each other face to face. At least, to Sterling it felt awkward, if only because of how strongly she was overcome with and urge to act. She couldn't stop how she kept glancing at the other woman's luscious lips.
“Can I... try something- I mean... Can I kiss you,” Sterling asked, almost whispering her request, taking half a step closer to the other woman, who looked up at Sterling, and nodded quietly. Sterling took one more step closer, brushed a hand against the other woman's soft cheek, and leaned into her, pressing lips together tentatively. Immediately, Sterling felt a sense of excitement swell up in her, and her mind urge her to try a little more. She pressed her lips against Auri's more deeply then, and Auri responded eagerly, so that before long Sterling was kissing the woman in a way that she had only kissed men. She loved every moment of her, gently holding onto the back of the woman's neck as she took in the sensations, felt how soft it was but how exhilarating it felt.
A catcall from someone on the edge of the bonfire crowd made Sterling pull back, a bit of an embarrassed smile on her face, though Auri just chuckled a bit, ignoring the whistle that had made Sterling feel unsure about being watched.
“You kiss well,” she complimented the Northerner, making Sterling chuckle nervously and blush a bit.
“Oh! Ah, thanks,” she said nervously, making Auri chuckle again and take her own turn initiating a kiss between them. Again they kissed one another, though a little more subdued and not as long as Sterling realized she should really get back to the Weyr, realizing she had promised she wouldn't be gone terribly long after dark. Soon the wherling found someone to take her back to the Weyr... with Auri in tow, arms wrapped around Sterling's waist as she sat behind her on the dragon that ferried them back home.
Sterling left Auri briefly to check in with Irena, showing the wherlingmaster she was home when she promised before going off. Soon after, Sterling introduced Auri with Stesk before the Andalusite went off to go to the feeding pens for a few wherries, leaving the two women alone again, this time in Sterling's living quarters.
“She seems amazing, I wish I had given the whers and handlers more of my attention before,” Auri commented with a chuckle before adding, “Maybe I would have met you sooner.” Sterling blushed again at that, but chuckled.
“Perhaps it's better this way, before I wouldn't have been able to do anything... less than innocent with you,” she chuckled a bit cheekily, making Auri look directly at her again. For a moment, the two women stood there, staring at each other. Sterling had to swallow hard to moisten her drying throat as Auri crossed almost all of the distance between them.
“Are you... wanting to...” the Southerner asked, her voice going up in a way to suggest what she meant without saying it. Sterling swallowed again, thinking about it... and then... nodded.
“I... do... I'm sorry, I hope that's not too forward,” she quickly responded with, a bit afraid her comment had upset Auri, but soon, she felt the slightly shorter woman touch her arm and smile up at her reassuringly.
“No, it's ok.”
A few moments later, lips bruised together eagerly. Sterling felt her skin prickle with excitement where Auri's hands brushed along Sterling's back over her shirt. Sterling paused the heated kissing long enough to go to her door and close and lock it before telling Stesk the door would be locked for a little while. Then she turned back to Auri in time to see the woman strip off her shirt right then and there, grinning at Sterling invitingly before stepping back toward her, gently pinning Sterling against the now locked door, and catching her in another eager kiss.