Thread was due to fall over South Hold later that day and with all the comings and goings of dragons Josh never got time to speak with Justin about Hannah. Riders that could speak to any dragon were a rare commodity that could not be let to slip through the Weyr’s fingers. The green rider busied himself helping to drag the firestone out from the storage area so that it would be readily available for when the fighting wings arrived.
The hair prickled on the back of his neck and he peered around him catching Derrick staring at him. His heart beat faster as the holder started to walk towards him.
“Since when do dragon riders do manual work when there are drudges to do it for them?” the dark swarthy man barked.
Josh looked him up and down, his nose wrinkled in disgust. “Dragonmen are not afraid to get their hands dirty unlike you.” He bent back to his task, dismissing his former nemesis. With his mind he sought out the steady support of his beloved green and the tightening in his chest relaxed a little with the gentle touch of Edith.
“The wing arrives,” she announced. “Fanath wants to know if Turith and I will be joining the fight. He says he is still short of his wingman and also he wants me to fill in for Janorth.”
Josh bit his lip. Janorth had been out of action for nearly two months now and he was beginning to worry and he knew Janorth’s rider K’pell was also worried. He had overheard the Master Healer talking to Chris and Meredith and from what he could gather no one expected that the blue would ever be able to fly again.
A shudder ran up Josh’s spine. How terrible it would be to not be able to fly, to be grounded like a watch-wher and to watch your Weyrmates go off to fight.
“Janorth is a strong dragon, he will fly again,” Edith assured him. “Lillith wants to know if the firestone is ready and can they start to land”
“Tell her we are ready dear heart and tell Fanath I would be happy to help during the fall as would Justin.”
“Turith’s rider has already accepted for himself. He does not want you to fight. Turith says he worries about you and is happier when we run messages between the Weyr's.”
Josh sighed. This was always a bone of contention between the brown rider and himself. It was as if Justin didn’t trust him to fly thread. The green rider bit his lip and emptied another sack of firestone into the growing pile. He remembered Derrick and looked to see where he had gone. Obviously bored with waiting for Josh to carry on their conversation the holder son had wandered off and was berating a female drudge for not working hard enough on the far side of the compound. Josh gave a tired sigh of relief and waved to his brother in law who had just arrived.
“Fanath tells me that you will ride today Josh. I have to say I really would appreciate it.” Chris slapped his honorary brother-in-law on the back. “G’rath will tell you where he wants you.”
Josh knew the rider of bronze Yourth. The man had shown interest in him on more than one occasion, a fact that he had decided not to burden Justin with. He really didn’t want to be under the older man’s command but he was a dragon rider and was expected to do his duty. Reluctantly he nodded and returned to his room to collect his riding gear and to see if Justin was still there or had already reported to his post. As he ascended the grand staircase he caught sight of Sally. She was gathering bandages and placing them on the huge dining table along with numbweed in case of emergencies. It was not often that a rider or dragon was treated at a hold but in dire need it could be done. Josh remembered as the young girl drifted over to the window to watch the dragons that landed in the courtyard that he had promised her a ride on Edith and he bespoke his green asking her if she would mind, smiling when Edith replied that she never minded flying anyone anywhere so long as it made him happy.
He opened the door to the room he and Justin was sharing and entered, sighing sadly when he saw it was empty. He had hoped to snatch a few precious moments with his lover before they had to go to battle. His head dropped to his chest and he picked up his jacket, jumping when two strong arms wrapped around his waist from behind.
“I thought you would never get here,” Justin whispered in his ear. “Fanath has been pestering Turith for the past ten minutes.”
Josh twisted his head so that they could share a sweet kiss and then swivelled around in his lover’s arms so that they were pressed up against each other chest to chest.
“I’m glad you waited,” Josh breathed.
Justin stroked the green rider’s soft hair and placed a kiss on his forehead. “Keep safe my darling,” he whispered lovingly. “I couldn’t bear to loose you.”
“Or I you,” Josh replied truthfully.
“Lillith says you must come now, you must be ready to meet the thread.”
Josh didn’t have to ask, the look on Justin's face told him that he had received the same message. The two lovers kissed, relishing the taste and the touch of each other for just a few seconds more.
“I love you,” Josh breathed against Justin's cheek. Justin's hands tightened on his arms and the green rider could feel his lover shaking.
“Fly well and sear true Joshua for after the fight I will show my love to you.”
One final kiss passed between them and then with the strength that only dragon riders possessed strode out to face their enemy.
Once more Josh found himself relegated to the rear of the fighting formation while his lover was in the front where the fighting was thickest.
“Turith says that his rider is worried for you.”
Josh cursed under his breath. He knew that if Justin had his way he would be Weyr bound throughout the entire fall. “Tell Turith that I am fine,” he told Edith curtly.
The green dragon turned her head to look at her rider. “I already did.”
Josh felt his dragon begin to tremble between his thighs and he looked into the distance and saw the silver grey sheet that was advancing on them.
“Thread,” Edith growled, the instincts that had been bred into her made her raging for the fight. The closest Josh ever saw his dragon to aggression was when she was fighting thread and rising to mate.
The green trembled between his legs as the deadly parasite advanced towards them. And the men to either side of him raised their right arms in silent signal that they were ready. Josh lifted his arm, his heart pounding in his chest.
“I love you,” he breathed; he knew that Edith could hear his thoughts and would know his declaration was meant for her as well as Justin.
“I love you too Joshua; Turith also loves you.”
Arms dropped and suddenly they were fighting for their lives as thread swept around them. Edith winked out and reappeared seconds later in a clearing. Josh urged her down, chasing a clump of thread that was swirling towards a bronze. The rider was busy attacking another clump and hadn’t seen the menace that was going to consume him. Edith bellowed a warning and then flamed, searing the thread completely and earning a salute in return. The agile green turned on a wing tip and chased more deadly parasite, this time taking it cleanly before diving to catch a wayward clump that was headed towards the queens.
The fight raged on and on, tiredness began to take hold of all the dragon riders. A dragon screamed and blinked between and Josh swung in his seat straining to see who it was.
“It was not Turith,” Edith informed him. “Gorarth took a thread to his wing tip; he rejoins the fight; it is not serious.”
Edith flamed again and again then blinked between unbidden as a lump of chard ash was blown into Josh’s face. It froze immediately in the cold of between and Edith reappeared with her rider none the worse for it.
Josh wiped the ash from his skin and thanked his dragon for her amazing reactions. She had saved him from certain burns.
Edith turned her head and looked at him her eyes whirling with concern. “Lillith is angry; she said I didn’t take proper visualisation from you before going between. She will speak to you as soon as the fight is over. She instructs us to return to the Weyr and wait for her. She tells Turith and he is angry with me too.”
“It is my fault dear heart; I panicked when the ash hit me.” Josh gave Edith a clear picture of South Weyr and she blinked between appearing again above the hunting grounds. The green spiralled down to the ledge that was Josh’s Weyr and let him off.
“Turith is furious and so is his rider.”
Josh dismissed his dragon and stomped into his bedchambers. Why did Lillith have to tell his lover’s dragon about his mistake? Justin gave him a heard enough time about flying thread as it was and now he had the ammunition to try and stop him for good.
Waiting was the worse part. Josh paced up and down chewing his nails nervously. By now the whole wing would know that he had been sent home in disgrace. The fact that he was an inexperienced fighter would hold no protection for him. The teasing and good hearted torment from the other riders he could bare, facing Justin was going to be a different matter. Even the wrath of the Weyrleader was nothing compared to the disillusionment that his lover would have in him.
“The wing returns,” Edith announced. “The Weyrwoman says you must go to her Weyr now. She is very angry with us.”
Josh swallowed hard. Meredith was only a little woman but she had the temper of a raging feline. In the back of his mind he could feel Edith cringing as she was reprimanded by Lillith and then by Fanath. By the time he reached the Weyrleader’s quarters he was shaking.
Chris was taking a glass of dark red wine, still dressed in his riding gear and stained with ash and soot. The Weyrwoman had already changed and glared angrily at him as he entered the room.
“You wanted to see me,” he said shakily.
The Weyrwoman raised herself to her full height. “You are damn right I want to see you. Are you a fool? What in the name of the first egg were you thinking, letting your dragon go between without your direction?”
“I’m sorry,” Josh was truly sorry. He could feel the anger radiating off the two most powerful people in the Weyr.
“You are sorry!” Meredith screeched. “Sorry! You could have been lost between for all time. Are you a weyrling that you have to be instructed in how to direct your dragon?”
Josh’s face burned red with humiliation as the small woman tore into him and he lowered his head and held his hands behind his back like a scolded child. “What will I do with you Joshua?” she demanded.
“I have younger riders that need to know the importance of proper visualisation, how can I impress that importance when established riders like yourself make stupid mistakes like the one you made today?”
Chris placed a steadying hand on his Weyrwoman’s shoulder to calm her mood. “I think Joshua realises how foolish he has been and I am sure there is nothing that you can say that can make him feel worse than Justin will when he returns to South Hold.”
“South Hold!” Josh paled. He couldn’t go back to South Hold and face Justin, not yet.
“Shouldn’t I stay here?” he asked hopefully.
“Get back to South Hold,” Chris said bluntly. “Justin has a few words he wants to say to you.”
The green rider knew there was no use in arguing. Chris’ mind was made up and if Josh was perfectly honest this was his real punishment. Not the telling off he had received at the hands of his Weyrleaders or the taunts of his peers; but the pure disappointment he knew he would see in his lover’s eyes. Josh made his apologies once more and hurried out of the Weyr and rushed to his own rooms asking his dragon to meet him at the landing ledge so they could return to South.
The courtyard was bustling when he burst into the air above the hold, after fall was just as hectic as the fall itself. The whole estate had to be checked for burrows and ground crews were the only way of doing that.
Josh walked up the stairs to his room and took a deep breath before he went inside. The room was empty. Although he was relieved his heart sank. Was Justin so disappointed in him that he wasn’t going to return to the hold and continue the search for a queen candidate?
Sadly he took off his riding gear and tossed it on an empty chair. He hadn’t had time to bathe at the Weyr so he would have to make do with a basin of cold water. Time was drifting on and still Justin hadn’t returned. Josh looked out of the window and sighed.
“Where is he Edith, why hasn’t he come back to me?”
“He is angry. He doesn’t trust himself not to hurt you.”
Melancholy filled Josh’s soul as he curled up on the bed and closed his eyes.
Justin stood outside the room he and Josh were sharing. He could hear his lover moving around inside and his hand rested on the handle.
“Joshua is worried. He knows he has made a bad mistake and he is afraid of what you will do to him.” Turith’s deep rumbling voice filled Justin's mind and he lifted his hand from the handle.
“And he should be.” Justin snapped at his dragon. “Meet me in the courtyard. I will help check the hold for threads and give myself time to calm down.”
“Shall I inform Edith of your plans?”
“No. she will inform Joshua and I want him to sweat.” The brown rider strode out to where his dragon stood waiting. He vaulted onto his back and settled himself between the third and forth ridge, tightening his safety straps.
Turith leaped into the air and swept his mighty wings back, propelling them upwards. The large brown dragon circled the hold in ever increasing sweeps so that his rider could study the surrounding area looking for signs of thread.
“Did you hear?”
Lance looked up from his manuscript and raised an eyebrow at his lover. “What are you talking about Earnest?”
The green rider tossed his gloves and riding cap onto the table and shook his brunette curls loose. “Lillith was furious and so was Meredith. You should have heard your brother ranting about irresponsible riders.”
Lance studied his green rider lover. Physically he was almost as beautiful as Joshua was, almost. His eyes didn’t flash with the same shade of blue and his hair didn’t glint with the same touch of gold but he had the same chiselled cheekbones and long nose.
“I still don’t follow you,” he chuckled. It was funny how riders tended to take on the characteristics of their dragons. Earnest was flighty and over sexed just like a green dragon; and like a green he was a total gossip.
“The green rider that went between without visualising, one of the South Weyr riders. Everyone is talking about how lucky he was not to be lost forever.”
Lance jumped up. Joshua, it had to be Joshua; he was South Weyr's only green rider. “The rider, he reappeared?”
“Yes, but the Weyrleaders really laid into him and sent him scuttling back to South Hold like a Weyrling to continue the search. Everyone is talking about him.”
Earnest moved closer to his lover and put his arms around his neck. “Are you alright you have gone all pale?”
Lance extracted himself and kissed the end of Earnest’s nose. “I have to go out.”
“Well I’ll come with you,” Earnest offered.
“No,” Lance said a little too quickly. He smiled. “No my love you stay here and take a bath, I won’t be long. I just want to speak with Joe.”
The green rider pouted and let his chin drop to his chest.
‘No,’ Lance thought to himself. He is no where near as beautiful as Joshua. If Josh pouted like that he would have to give in to him, he wouldn’t be able to resist.
As soon as he was out of his Weyr Lance spoke to Hogarth and asked him to meet him at the ledge. He had to find out for himself that Joshua was alright and to shake some sense into the silly green rider. The cold of between covered him and in two heartbeats he burst out into the bright sunshine over South.
“Do you know where Joshua is?”
“I ask Edith,” Hogarth’s mind disappeared for a moment then came back to him. “Joshua is asleep in his room. Shall I ask Edith to wake him?”
“No precious. Tell her not to wake him.” Lance instructed Hogarth to land and he sprinted up to the hold. With most of the hold people still out searching for thread burrows the hold proper was almost empty.
Sally was clearing the dining table and was shocked to see a dragon rider.
“May I help you sir?” she asked. “My father is out sweeping for thread burrows.”
“I’m looking for Joshua, the green rider from South Weyr. Can I see him?”
Sally thought for a moment. She knew that the green rider had returned because she had seen him run up the stairs earlier. “I’ll take you to him,” she said.
As they approached the room Lance turned a thought suddenly occurring to him. “What of the brown rider Justin, is he also here?”
The holder girl shook her head. “No he is sweeping the land checking for thread burrows with my father. The green rider is alone.”
Lance gave Sally his best smile. “Thank you. You can go now.”
Lance opened the door silently and slipped inside. Joshua was curled ion the bed and the blue rider walked softly to his side and sat on the edge next to him. Josh looked as if he had been crying and Lance’s heart melted. The temptation to touch was inconceivable but he resisted, instead he basked in the green rider’s beauty. Joshua made Earnest pale in comparison.
“I’d never make you cry,” he whispered. His fingers hovered over Joshua's cheek, burning to stroke the smoothly shaved skin.
“Turith returns,” Hogarth announced and Lance let out the breath he hadn’t realised he had been holding. Swiftly he made his exit, ducking into a deep doorway as he spotted Justin taking the stairs two at a time, headed towards Joshua's room. As soon as he was safely inside Lance rushed down the stairs summoning Hogarth as he ran. He leaped onto the blue dragon’s back and gave a clear visual of where he wanted to go. Hogarth sprang upwards going between before he had cleared the ground. Two heartbeats later and Lance was back at Telgar Weyr and he smiled sadly to himself. Earnest would never know that he had been to South; he had timed it to perfection. He took a deep breath and entered his Weyr; Earnest was already splashing about in the pool. Lance stripped off his clothes and dived in with him, attacking him with the burning passion that he had for Joshua.
The green rider cooed with delight and wrapped his legs around his lover as Lance attacked his throat.
“He’s not Joshua,” Hogarth said reminding his rider that he wasn’t with the man he really wanted.
“He is when I close my eyes,” Lance answered bleakly.
Justin dismissed Turith and sprinted towards the hold. When his brown dragon had told him that Hogarth had arrived at South Hold he had returned right away. There was only one reason for Lance being there and Justin was not going to give him the opportunity to take advantage of Joshua. He burst into the room they shared half expecting Lance to be there. Josh stirred and stretching luxuriously, rubbing his eyes.
“Edith says Joshua was sleeping the whole time.”
The anger that had built inside Justin dissipated a little but not enough for him to forget the stupid mistake his lover had made earlier.
Josh sat up and watched his lover with wide blue eyes, his bottom lip trapped between his straight white teeth.
“Did you sleep well? “Justin asked as he stripped off his riding gear and tossed it on the floor.
Josh nodded but never said anything, he could feel the tension that emanated from the brown rider and filled the room.
“Did you see to Edith yet?”
Josh shook his head and whispered, “I took her to get rid off the firestone ash but I never bathed her, I thought … hoped we could go together.”
“Let’s go then,” Justin snapped curtly. He bent down and scooped up his riding gear and without waiting for Josh he strutted out of the room.
The cove waters were chilly in the late afternoon sun and Josh shivered as he stepped into them. Justin was already waist deep and scrubbing at Turith’s brown hide. Josh lingered in the shallows, his arms folded across himself protectively.
Justin hadn’t said a word to him; it was almost as if Josh wasn’t there. The brown rider just busied himself with seeing to his dragon, totally ignoring his lover.
“Come and play.” Edith demanded and swept a wave of cold water over her rider, knocking him off his feet.
Josh resurfaced spluttering from the water he had swallowed only to be re-submerged by another wave.
Strong fingers biting into his upper arm hauled him to his feet and tender loving hands rubbed and patted his back until he could breathe again.
Josh lifted his waterlogged eyes; his bottom lip trembled as he waited for Justin to say something, anything. Justin looked at him for a long time then shook his head in disappointment and waded back to Turith.
A soft cry caught in Josh’s throat as Justin turned away effectively dismissing him.
Tears began to fall, slow at first then faster and faster until Josh was sobbing uncontrollably. Edith bellowed in concern and rushed to her distressed rider.
“Turith control Edith,” Justin barked as the green dragon began to thrash her tail. Her emotions were being driven insane by the sheer overwhelming despondency of her rider.
Turith bellowed a warning and squared off to the smaller green.
“Joshua,” Justin yelled, grabbing his upper arms. “Joshua control your dragon, now.” the slight green rider continued to cry, his body trembling for the exertions. Justin shook him roughly and brought back his hand, slapping Josh’s face soundly and causing him to gulp. The smaller man looked up at his lover through tear-filled eyes and a large tear drop brimmed on his lashes.
“Control yourself,” Justin said again although not unkindly. “Edith with hurt herself if you don’t." Justin's finger bit into Josh’s upper arms and the green rider gulped to stop his sobs from starting anew.
Justin closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “What were you thinking Joshua?” he demanded.
“How could you have made such a stupid mistake?” Justin was shaking his lover now as the fear and anger he had been struggling all day to control came bursting out into the open.
Josh began to cry again. “I’m sorry,” he wept. “I’m sorry. I panicked when the ash hit my face. Edith went between before I could stop her. I’m sorry.” Josh’s head fell to his chest and he wept, his whole body shaking with grief.
He knew Justin would shake him; he always did when he was angry with him, but it was the weight of disappointment that was breaking Josh’s heart. He had let his lover down, let the Weyr down, let Edith down and let himself down.
Justin gathered him into his arms and crushed him against his chest, whispering soft words against his head.
“I could have lost you,” Justin wept. “I couldn’t bare to lose you Josh. I couldn’t bare it.”
Josh sobbed into Justin's chest until the chill of the water forced them back onto dry land. The brown rider wrapped a thick drying cloth around Josh’s narrow shoulders and then pulled him down onto his lap.
“Never,” he whispered. “Never do that again.” He lifted Josh’s chin so that he could see his face. “I love you,” he breathed. “Snot and all.”
Josh gave a half hearted laugh and wiped his running nose on the edge of the cloth wrapped around him.
“I must look awful,” he said timidly.
Justin caressed the side of his face, dragging his thumb over Josh’s full lips. “Never dear heart.” The brown rider touched the small bruise that was gracing Josh’s cheek.
“I’m sorry about that, but Edith was getting frantic. It was the only way to snap you back to your senses. You have to remember she feels what you feel and no matter how angry or upset you are, you have to reassure her that you are fine.”
Josh nodded his understanding.
“She could have attacked me or Turith; and Turith would have stopped her the only way he knew how.”
Josh shuddered but not from the cold. “I understand,” he whispered. “I’m sorry.”
Justin crushed him to him once more. “I know you are dearest. I know you are.”
The two riders stayed by the lake until the sun had set far in the west, Josh curled into Justin's body for warmth. Edith and Turith had swam for a few hours and then waddled back on to dry land and squirmed around in the sand making themselves large nests to sleep in. they then watched with whirling multifaceted eyes as their riders made sweet passionate love on the beach. Gone was the dragon lust for now. What the two young men shared was pure untainted love. Justin's hands explored every inch of Josh’s body, tenderly caressing the firm lines that defined his muscles with his fingers before dropping lower to probe gently at his lover’s anus.
Joshua whimpered and hissed as Justin's digits thrust up inside of him and he squirmed down impaling himself deeper. His lips parted and his eyes closed as he surrendered to the sensations that filled his body. He reached down and started to stroke his cock, tugging gently as he was finger fucked.
Justin groaned, ignoring the small noises of protest from Josh as he withdrew his hand and rolled on top of him pressing him down into the sand, he lifted Josh’s right leg over his shoulder and then the left, rolling him up slightly and exposing his opening.
He took over the slow masturbation that Josh had been performing on himself and firmly brought the slender green rider to climax. He caught Josh’s cum in his hand and then using it as a natural lubrication he pushed inside his lover’s ass.
The green rider lifted himself impossibly higher so that Justin could thrust deeper and deeper. Justin stopped breathing as he came, holding his breath as he pounded even harder. The two men collapsed, golden sand sticking to their sweat covered bodies as they attacked each others mouths and tasted each other’s tongues.
Josh snuggled into his lover’s arms and sighed contentedly. “I am sorry,” he whispered.
“I know you are baby. You made a mistake and you won’t do it again. It’s called learning.” Justin kissed Josh’s messed up curls and pulled him as close as possible.
“Tomorrow we have to continue the search,” Justin said softly. “The hatching draws near and still there is not one girl that is worthy of a queen.”
Josh pulled away a little and propped himself up on his elbow. “I know of one,” he said.
Justin sat up and raised an eyebrow. “You do? “He asked surprised.
Justin laughed. “Just because you wish to disrupt your former lord’s wedding does not make the dear lady a queen rider.”
“Being able to speak to all dragons does though.” Josh smiled smugly as Justin absorbed this new piece of information.
“And how did you come by this interesting titbit?”
“She helped me to bathe Edith the day before yesterday and she asked Edith to move and she did.”
Justin grinned and opened his arms and Josh wriggled into them. “If what you say is true you have more than redeemed yourself for your misdemeanour this morning. Meredith will be ecstatic.”
Their lips met once more and they settled down to sleep in the comfort of each others arms.
The warmth of the rising sun woke them the next morning and they stretched luxuriously basking in their decadence.
“We should go back to the hold,” Justin said sadly. “The sooner we speak to Lady Hannah the easier it will be to take her from her intended path.”
Josh sat up brushing the sand off of him and slipped his tunic over his head.
“I don’t think she will take much persuasion dearest.”
Justin gave his lover a look that asked what are you not telling me and Josh grinned.
“I already asked her if she would be interested and she made me give my oath that I would present her as candidate.”
Josh stood up and held out his hand to help Justin to his feet. Justin took his hand and pulled him back to the sand, wrapping his legs around him and trapping him.
“Politics are a dangerous game my darling. Be careful and watch your back.”
Josh slapped Justin playfully away and scrambled to his feet calling Edith.
He hopped on one foot as he pulled his pants up over his legs. “You speak with Hannah,” he said. “I have a promise to fulfil.”
“You do?” Justin asked confused.
“I do,” Joshua said winking craftily.
Sally squealed and leaned back in Josh’s arms as Edith leaped into the air. The green rider held her tight and shouted in her ear. “How does it feel Sally?”
The holder girl squealed again as Edith dipped suddenly and then flew up towards the sun once more.
“Edith,” Josh said aloud for the girl’s benefit. “Don’t show off.”
“She is nice and she likes my flying.”
Josh laughed at his dragon’s smug tone. “Edith is trying to impress you Sally.”
“I’m impressed, I’m impressed!” she screamed.
Josh flew her around for a while longer and then told her that they had to return. The girl protested and pleaded but Josh was adamant.
Edith landed in the courtyard of South Hold and Josh slipped from her back. He reached up and lifted Sally down placing the almost bouncing girl on the ground.
“Dragon rider please take me to the Weyr with you when you leave,” she begged. “I am not wanted or needed here, except to become a breeder for my chosen husband’s bloodline. I want more; I want to be a rider too.”
“Not all Weyr folk become riders Sally. More are cooks, housekeepers or any other number of trade people. You could still end up a mother to countless children, although granted the fathers would be your choice. But being a rider would not be guaranteed, a rider is only chosen by his or her dragon. It is fated.”
“You impressed Edith didn’t you?”
“Yes but ….”
“And you were nothing but a drudge,” the holder girl said interrupting him.
Josh paled. “You recognise me,” he gasped. Josh backed away a few steps, looking over his shoulder furtively as if he expected the lord to descend upon him and drag him to the cellars to be whipped for his insolence.
“As soon as I saw you Joshua son of Karen. You have the look of your mother.”
Josh was lost for words; he really didn’t know what to do. “Will you betray me Sally?”
he asked almost silently.
“No. you are not a drudge anymore. You are Joshua rider of green Edith, a dragon rider and saviour of our world. What right do I have to betray you? No Joshua even if you don’t take me with you I won’t tell your secret.”
“I can’t promise Sally but if you still want to come with us when we leave I will speak up for you, not that it will do much good. I don’t have much favour with the Weyrleaders.”
“That is all I can ask.” Sally grinned and skipped away. “Thank you for the ride Edith,” she sang happily. “And thank you Joshua.”
Justin came out of the hold and smiled as he passed the ecstatic holder girl. “Made a new friend dear heart?”
“I hope so,” Josh replied. “She asked me to take her to the Weyr.”
“The dragons do not think she is a candidate for the queen egg,” Justin pointed out.
“She might impress a green.” Edith suggested, eavesdropping the conversation.
“Edith thinks she would make a green rider,” Josh repeated and Justin laughed.
“Girls do not ride dragons other than queens.”
“Why not?” Josh asked seriously. “Why can’t Sally impress a green? A green is female like a queen. Girls ride queen dragons so why not greens?”
Justin frowned, he didn’t have an answer and Joshua was staring at him expectantly. “They just don’t and that is it.” He said dismissing the conversation.
“Mirrim rides green Path at Benden,” Edith pointed out. Josh repeated his dragon’s revelation and Justin grunted.
“Mirrim impressed by accident, she was never presented as a candidate.”
“Like you then?” Josh snapped angrily and without thinking.
Justin spun on him. “I was to be presented when I was 14 but fate wanted me sooner.” He grabbed a handful of Josh’s hair in temper and pulled the green rider to him, twisting him so he could look at his face. Edith bellowed in concern and quickly Josh calmed her. “Don’t try my patience Joshua and never question my ability to be a rider,” he spat.
Josh stammered and winced as his hair was held. “I never meant …you are a fine rider Justin and I meant that maybe Sally could be too.” He winced and hissed again “Justin you are hurting me,” he whispered.
Justin relaxed his grip and pulled Josh to him, kissing his lips in an act of public affection that was rare outside of the Weyr and folk that would understand. “My apologies dear heart. You touched a raw nerve that is all. I should not have reacted in such a spiteful way. Please accept my regrets and put it down to weariness. This search has been long and I long to be back with my own kind again.”
A passing hold dweller saw the two men and the intimacy that they were sharing and grunted his disapproval. “Dirty corrupted Weyr's; you will destroy us all.” he muttered.
The two riders ignored him. It was to be expected outside the Weyr. Only Weyr folk truly understood the demands that a dragon put on a rider.
“Have Turith bespeak Lillith and see if we can return my love,” Josh requested. “I too grow tired of this place and wish to return home. Also ask if a request is made for sanctuary may I grant it.”
Josh nodded. “She is so desperate I don’t want to leave her behind unless I am ordered too.”
“I will ask. Maybe Meredith will be so pleased with Hannah that she will say yes.”
Meredith snorted impatiently and dropped onto a low couch, tapping her foot as she waited for Chris to return from Telgar Weyr.
As he walked into the adequate cavern they shared the Weyrwoman practically leaped on him.
“Did Fanath tell you?” she demanded.
Chris casually went to where a deep earthenware bowl set on a high table and filled it full of water from a matching jug. He leaned over it and splashed water on his face.
“Chris!” Meredith screeched. “Joshua found a really ideal candidate for Lillith’s queen egg.”
The Weyrleader dried his face. “So Fanath said,” he said drollness tainting his tone.
“Chris, you have to go get her!”
Chris sighed and pulled his tunic off over his head replacing it with a clean one. “Just like that? “He asked with faint amusement.
“Yes,” Meredith snapped. “The new queen will hatch any day now; the sands are getting hotter by the hour. I demand you go and get Lady Hannah right now.”
Chris tried to hide the amusement creeping into his voice. “You demand do you?” He lunged for her and grabbed her wrists, pulling them behind her back and holding them both in one hand so that he could lift her chin with his free one.
“One does not just storm into a hold and kidnap the lord holder’s son’s intended wife.”
“But she is wasted on the hold. She will do nothing but make babies and oversee the bread being baked.” The Weyrwoman ranted. “You know Lord Heath knew she had the ability to speak to all dragons don’t you? He intentionally hid it from the Weyrs.”
Chris put pressure on Meredith's wrists bending her backwards. His lips brushed hers. “I promise my love when the time comes Hannah will stand on the sands as candidate but for now we must play it with care. If Brannagan gets a sniff of what we are planning Hannah will be gone, disappeared like charred thread on a summer breeze. Green is the colour of innocence as well as jealousy my pet and the innocent are mostly overlooked.”
Her lover’s cryptic response baffled Meredith for an instance and then she smiled serenely. “You think he is up to it?”
Chris kissed her nose. “From what Justin tells me it is his idea.”
“Maybe I have underestimated that particular young green. After yesterday I had no hope for him but if he pulls this off I may just have to eat my words.”
“Yesterday was youthful inexperience mixed with the adrenaline of fighting the thread. Justin tells me that Joshua has a good head on his shoulders and will be more careful in the future.”
“The Weyrleaders agree, Sally can move to the Weyr if she wishes it.”
Josh beamed at his lover and jumped on top of him. “I knew they would listen to you, I knew it.” The green rider smothered Justin's face in sloppy wet kisses.
Justin pushed his lover off him, went to the bedroom door and opened it. He peered up and down the corridor then shut it again silently. He drew Josh to him and sitting back on the bed pulled him on to his lap, nuzzling his ear. “Josh listen to me,” he whispered. “There is no way Brannagan will let Hannah go; it will be pointless approaching him. If he gets wind of our interest in the girl he will have her married before you could say red star.” Justin licked the shell of Josh’s ear, smiling when the slimmer man shivered and tilted his head further breathing heavily.
“While Brannagan argues with you over Sally, Hannah will run from the hold and straight to me. Turith will be ready to go and we will go straight between. You must be ready to follow. I don’t think he would risk attacking a rider and dragon but you can never be sure.”
Josh gasped as Justin's tongue delved into his ear and then his teeth captured his lobe. The brown rider’s hand drifted down into Josh’s lap, kneading the growing bulge he found there firmly, leaving Edith’s rider breathless.
“I know I can count on you Joshua,” Justin cooed in his ear. “I know you won’t let me down.” Deftly Justin pushed his lover off his lap and ripped down his pants, bending him over the bed that just moments before they had been sitting on. In one quick movement he had relieved himself of his trousers as well and had lined himself up with Joshua's waiting heat.
The green rider gave a whimpering cry as he was filled and writhed under the firm fingers that explored his body. The two gyrated in unison, over taken by pure lust and need until Josh cried out with the ecstasy of his release.
Justin kept thrusting, his hand reaching in front of Josh, stroking his rapidly softening cock and making him shudder and whimper from the sensitivity of it. Josh twisted his head as far as he could, seeking and finding his lover’s mouth. The brown rider groaned and came hard, crying out through gritted teeth and falling forward trapping Josh beneath him.
The two stayed that way for an age, both relishing the closeness and feel of each others bodies.
A tiny whimper from his lover prompted Justin to lift himself and give Josh room to breathe once more.
Josh gulped the air he could finally take into his lungs and giggled slightly. “I can’t believe you just took advantage of me.”
“I couldn’t resist dear heart, you were just too tempting.”
Josh rolled from under his lover and scooped his pants off the floor. “So I am to be your distraction while you and the lady Hannah take flight?”
“I told the Weyrleaders it was your idea.”
Josh choked back a laugh. “And they believed you! Why did you give me the credit?”
Justin reached out and grabbing the green rider’s hand pulled him back down onto his lap. “It was your idea sort of. You were the one that mentioned taking sweet little Sally with us when we leave.” Justin pushed Josh’s hair out of his eyes and kissed the end of his nose. “Would you rather I played decoy and you snatch Hannah?”
“No; Sally trusts me. She may not come to you. I will stay till you have Hannah safely at the Weyr.”
“I will be with you. You and the girl will be safe with me.”
Josh relaxed with the soothing reassurance of Edith in his head. A sharp knock jolted them from their private world and Josh scurried off Justin's lap and to the other side of the room grabbing up a drawing he had been working on earlier.
A petite drudge hovered in the doorway, dipping deep in curtsy as she spoke. “My lord bids me to invite you both down to dinner sir.”
Justin dismissed her curtly and turned back to his lover who had finished getting dressed and was now gathering up his own discarded clothes. He couldn’t help but worry. Josh had the dangerous part in the plan. Who knows what the enraged lord would do at the lost of his intended bride. The calming touch of his dragon soothed his troubled mind reassuring him that Edith was capable of protecting his lover better than he ever could and Justin bowed to his assurances. He trailed his hands over Josh’s ass and wondered what he had done in his life that was so good that he was granted such a wonderful gift. “Tomorrow then my sweet we shall return to South Weyr.” He said aloud adding in his mind. “Let us hope that it will be as easy as it sounds.”