A Fine Gift For a Fine Woman
Characters: Corran, Nohria
Description: Corran shows Nohria how much he appreciates her with a token of affection.
Location: Amber Hills Hold
Date: month 11, day 14 of Turn 8
Notes: Mentioned: Jisalle, Goulan (ONPC)
Corran had decided to get Nohria a gift. Even now, he couldn't believe she'd agreed to let him court her. He still found her mind whip-sharp and her personality appealing and he was so glad she'd said yes. And while he wasn't always able to use his words to be the demonstrative type, he liked to do things to show how he felt. So, a gift it was.
It couldn't just be any gift. He wanted it to be something that showed he'd picked it out while thinking about her - and he didn't want to pick out something insulting, or something she couldn't really use. So it had to be practical and not just decorative. Flashy jewelry and delicate items were out: she might not feel comfortable with them given her position, and since she did a lot of physical work, it would likely be damaged anyway.
Then he had to think about what would be practical for her. He knew drudges did a lot of cleaning and cooking and laboring, so he thought about items that could improve work. A good pair of thick gloves? But he didn't know what kind of gloves that they'd need. So then he’d considered a toolbelt with lots of pockets to stash items she needed. Or a firelizard egg. She liked Warden, and maybe she could train one to help her out.
One excellent thing about his parents being around the Hold was that they still had valuable trader contacts. So when he'd talked to them, his father had smiled and told him that he would arrange for either item to be acquired, which did he prefer? Corran had decided on the firelizard, and his father had been able to barter Corran's half-mark and one of his mother's hand-embroidered quilts for an egg.
Then he'd spent two sevendays worrying about his choice - was this too ostentatious, did it look like too much too soon? He didn't want to seem like he was pressuring her into anything more than what they had. And firelizard eggs were expensive, though this one really had been a bargain. He'd been thinking about how to present it and hoped his words would be all right.
Now it was sitting at his parents' cot, waiting to be presented to her. The guard had this all planned out. His parents had a habit of taking meals in the main Hold at least twice a sevenday so they could spend time with people and it had been no problem to ask them to do it this nice. He'd ask Nohria if she wanted to take dinner privately. They'd walk to his parents' cot, have a meal together, and she could see the egg. If she didn't feel like she could accept the gift, he could sell it for marks or see if either parent wanted to Impress it.
Now it was the end of his shift and around when he thought Nohria ended hers. He walked through the halls of the Hold looking for her, hoping that everything would go as well as planned.
It turned out Nohria was leaving Jisalle’s workspace, with a grizzled old man and a small boy in tow. The old man was carrying a jar of tooth powder and what looked like a packet of tea. “Now, do you promise to listen to your grandpapa and brush your teeth twice a day?” she was saying to the boy in a firm but gentle tone.
“Yes,” the boy said glumly.
“Trust me, he will,” the old man said with a nod. “The last thing he needs is another cavity for the healers to handle. Thank you, and please extend my thanks to Jisalle as well.”
“I will, sir,” Nohria said with a nod, and waved to them as they went their way before she noticed Corran. Pleasingly to the guard, she blushed on seeing him. “Good evening,” she greeted.
“Evening, Nohria. Have you had a chance to eat yet?” the guard asked. It wasn't always that their schedules intersected.
“No, I’ve only had time for snacking,” Nohria admitted. “But my shift just ended, so I would be happy to join you."
Now his pulse was racing and his heart felt lodged in his throat.
“Mind a bit of a walk? I'd like to have dinner in private tonight, if you don't mind,” he said, voice a little quiet as he tried to get the words past his nerves.
“Now that sounds promising,” Nohria said, and stepped up to the guard, placing her hand in the bend of his elbow. “I won’t mind at all."
“It's about half a candlemark, to my parent's place,” he said. It was by a supreme act of will that Corran was able to keep his voice casual as he and Nohria walked along.
“Don't worry, they won't be there – I'm not springing a surprise 'dinner with my family' on you,” he added.
“I wouldn’t mind if you did. I like your parents,” Nohria commented. It was through meeting them and learning more about Corran that she truly fell for him.
“Well, we could do that later in the sevenday if you'd like,” he offered. “I liked the idea of having a quiet dinner away from the entire Hold's dining hall, though, and they had friends to catch up with.”
His family's cot was more private than the guard barracks, too. If their dinner was quick and they had time, then… But he didn't want to speculate about how the night would go when he didn't even know how she'd take the present.
“It would be nice to see your parents again.”
It was a pleasant walk; the earlier rainshowers had cleared up, leaving the air smelling fresh, and even though it was night, the temperature hadn’t dropped too far. Nohria stood a little closer to Corran anyway, just because she could. “So what’s for dinner?"
“Herdbeast steak and mashed fingerlings. Gravy and seasoned greens on the side. I remember what vegetables are,” he joked.
As they walked, he tilted his head to look up at the sky. “I wish we'd get one of those lightning storms, aren't they great to watch?”
“They make me nervous,” Nohria confessed. “I know I’m safe, but I had to spend some time traveling from Amethyst Cliffs, and no one liked traveling when there was lightning involved.” Corran was one of the only people she would admit that to. “Will you need help cooking when we get to the cot?” She wasn’t perfect, but she did have a fine hand with seasoning. Why learn only the bitter ways to use herbs?
“It's true, traveling changes your perspective on a lot. What's beautiful from safe inside a guard tower must be less so in the field,” he agreed.
“If you'd like to help, you could take the greens, but don't feel obligated,” he said. He wasn't sure if she hated cooking or not.
“If I felt obligated, I wouldn’t offer,” Nohria countered with a grin as they stepped inside the cot. “Your parents always keep this space so cozy. It feels lovely. So, where are these greens?”
The kitchen was to the back of the communal space, and he hunted around for a moment. The tubers were in this basket...the meat was in that one...and when he opened the third one, there were the greens. “Here,” Corran said, pointing triumphantly. “And over there is the seasoning rack and I'm sure you can use anything.”
He picked up a big bowl to put the tubers in, carried the basket and bowl to the table, sat down, then began to peel the first one. His strokes weren't smooth and practiced, but he was getting the job done sufficiently well.
Nohria watched him between finding a skillet and a bit of bacon grease to cook the greens. She liked how he moved. There was power hidden in his motions, even when he was being domestic. She bit her lip and grinned before turning her attention back to what she was doing, cooking the greens until they only just went limp and adding four different, popular seasonings that complemented each other nicely. “All right, where should I serve these out?"
He gestured with the knife at the cabinet that was by the table. "There should be some bowls in there we can use, I think," he said. The water he'd stuck on for tubers was simmering so he tossed them in. "The timing on this might not be perfect, sorry.”
“That’s all right. I can keep these warm by the hearth,” Nohria reassured him, and got the bowls, spooning the greens into them. On carrying the bowls to the hearth, though, she was surprised. “Corran, what’s this pot doing so close to the flames? It could crack if you’re not careful."
He turned away from the tuber pot to look at her. "That one is fine there, I promise," he said. "It's holding something that needs to be kept warm.”
“What?” Now very curious, Nohria pulled her hand into her sleeve and carefully lifted the lid. “Ohhh, I see now. You have an egg. Did you decide to get Warden a little sibling?” she teased.
Corran wasn't intending to pause for dramatic effect, but he looked away long enough to put the skillet on to preheat and poke the tubers. Once that was done, the guard turned back to his guest.
"I thought, perhaps, you'd like a flit of your own?" he asked, his voice gone a little quiet as he tried to keep it steady.
The herbalist’s eyes bugged out, and the lid dropped back onto the pot as her hand went slack. Somehow she thought to put the greens on the hearth before she spilled them. “Oh, Corran,” she said softly. A fire-lizard of her own! If she could teach it properly, she and Goulan wouldn’t have to risk themselves to carry messages and give orders to or receive them from their group, and it would be so much easier to contact the group in Malachite Gulch. And if her world fell asunder, she would have her small companion always. Nohria approached Corran and embraced him tightly. “Thank you,” she whispered, overwhelmed by
gratitude and love and guilt.
He had held his breath waiting for the answer. Was she going to think it was too much? That he was offering it not as a gift, but as a bribe or trap? because he did remember what she had said about not wanting to marry or feel chained...
When Nohria came over to give him a hug, he breathed out in relief, circling his arms around her and patting her back gently. "I'm glad you like the idea," he said.
“I’ll show you how much I enjoy it after dinner,” Nohria purred.
Corran chuckled and pressed a kiss to her cheek. "We can find private space," he said.
Then he hesitated, thinking about logistics. "Is there somewhere you're going to able to keep it warm?”
“I’ll think of something,” Nohria promised, and drew back. “Is there anything else I can help with in the meantime?"
He gestured at the pot of tubers. "Do you mind minding these while I cook the meat?" he asked.
“Not at all.” Nohria sashayed to the food, riding high on a heady and disheartening mix of emotions.
Last updated on the May 5th 2017