Title: Swooping to Landward (from “Tristan and Iseult” by Matthew Arnold)
Pairing: Chithra/Lemuel (OCs)
Word Count: 13,800
Warnings/Alerts: double penetration
Beta: Elfscribe. With this story in particular I’m indebted for her astute observations and recommendations. Thank you for your guidance so it became a more impassioned story.
Disclaimer: Were it not for Storm Constantine and her creation of the harish world, this wouldn’t exist and I’d be the poorer all around. I’m grateful to continue to play in the Wraeththu sandbox.
Summary: Opposites attract because they are not really opposites, but complementaries. (Sydney J. Harris) When a trio of Colurastes spend a few days in Orense, one particular Froia finds his life forever changed.
A/N: First and foremost, this is a gift for Rainwish, who was such an affirming anchor for me during this past spring and early summer when my life seemed to be imploding and/or exploding around me. I said I wanted to write something for her as a way of saying thanks, and she asked for a fic about the potential interaction between a Froia har (I began calling them Froian as plural) and a Colurastes. This is for you, my dear heart.
Lemuel, his hostling and father, and Cloudblaze are OCs who came to life in “Maelstrom and Mage, Desire Thine Darkling,” as did the location of Castlegar; they’re all in this story. If you’ve read that story, it will give this one a bit more depth, but it’s not necessary. This is set sometime in the Ai-cara 30s, I suppose.
I created several words in Froian vocabulary since it’s from a Froian’s POV. When Swift, Cal and Leef visit, mention is made to instruments and robes and the like, but without particular vocabulary. I’ll list them here so as not to be confused with Storm’s marvelous canon, though in fanon, especially Wraeththu, sometimes new characters and concepts do become part of the extended canon!
- oulla= Froian traditional robes
- barbol= a lute-like instrument (not included in canon, but I thought they’d go well with the flutes and drums)
- surist= one of the musicians in the Braga’s court who plays for the theruna [and while we’re here, I created an additional theruna OC, and decided the plural is ‘therunans’]
- nedbriar= outsider, non-Froian
Swooping to Landward
Rexines strummed and plucked at his barbol while I waited to hear a familiar tune. As the lilting, sinuous melody rose like incense smoke, I realized this was something new he’d been crafting. Given its sensuality, the modulations slithering one to another in a provocative series of quiet, daring combinations, I was certain that it would get transcribed and given to one of the surists. Still, it was just the two of us in this moment, both infected with the spirit of impromptu. I crooned a melody without words and let my body hold sway as I told a tale of aruna taken at dawn, a gold anklet given in affection. When Rexines brought the song to its close I ran my fingers through my hair, easing my hood back over my head and wiping at the beads of sweat that had formed at my temples.
“That was inspired,” Rexines said, taking a cloth to rub down the strings on his barbol.
“I could say the same,” I retorted, pouring us each a cup of sweet wine from a nearby jug. “Pity neither you nor I will ever actually get to perform anything like that.”
He looked over at me, one dark eyebrow raised. “And why do you say that?”
I fidgeted with one of my bracelets. “Because it’s too good. If you play it for Hephas, he’ll fall in love with it and only the therunans will get to dance to it. You know I’m right,” I said, strangely irritable given the joy I’d felt in our unchoreographed duet.
All at once the reed-door was pulled open and one of the young hara from the Braga’s court stood silhouetted in the mellow sun of mid-afternoon.
“There are some foreign hara near the southward docks,” he said excitedly. “The Braga sensed them three days ago, and he’d like for you two to go and bring them in. They seem to have much to trade, and are of a tribe he’s never seen before.”
I glanced at Rexines, trying to cover my disquiet. As Froia, we did have our share of hara from varying tribes — or hara without tribes — who wished for our assistance to navigate the swamps of our home. We’d not had visitors for a while, however, and my curiosity soon overcame my unease.
“Chithra, do you need to make any preparations?” Rexines asked me as he stood, putting his instrument in its handcrafted case.
“No. Well, I should get some water for the travel jug.”
The young har appeared to be satisfied with our response and he gave me a wide grin. “You’ll bring them directly to the court, of course,” he enthused. I didn’t doubt that the fact that it was an unknown tribe made him giddy with anticipation. Our people don’t interact with other Wraeththu all that often, so novelty of this type was exceedingly rare.
“Yes, we do know protocol well, Lunul.”
I noted the edge of irritation in Rexines’ voice, but the youthful court-har only made a gesture of thanks and closed the reed-door again. Rexines let out a sigh, adjusting his robes with the elegant fingers that could produce such evocative music from his instrument.
“You really don’t mind?” I said as I padded over to him.
“No,” he admitted, welcoming my lips to his with a low murmur of pleasure.
We shared breath for a short time, a token gift of flesh to accompany the gift of artistry. He was a not-infrequent rooning partner of mine, but neither of us felt drawn to become chesna. As we headed to the raft, I pondered that in silence.
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