Music of the Spheres
By: Manna


All nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres.
"This Is My Father's World"

Happy Birthday, Qieru!


Her toes splash in the water of the lake behind Castle Caelin; her toenails are painted a strange dark red—it was a suggestion of one of the handmaids, and the girl took such delight in painting them for her that she could not refuse.

She smiles, enjoying the sun above her, the grass below her, and, of course, the company.

She falls onto her back, her legs still in the water, and she closes her eyes and smiles wider as a shadow falls over her.

"Lady Lyndis, you shouldn't be out here for too long lest you burn."

She cracks open an eye and grins lazily at Kent, who sits beside her, the stem of a foxtail in his mouth. The tip of it tickles at her face and she swats at it like a cat before crossing her arms behind her head.

"They'll think of something else terrible to say about me, anyway." She shrugs and sighs as she closes her eye. Her feelings aren't really hurt, and he understands.

He leans over her further, brushing the end of the weed across the bridge of her nose.

The corners of her lips twitch a little bit, but she doesn't indulge him with the sound of her voice so he tries again, and again. Finally, when it tickles at her neck, she squirms away from it and sits up straight, mock-glaring at him as he sits there, a perfectly serious expression on his face.

"Don't play innocent with me," she says.

It's his turn for the corners of his lips to twitch, and all she can do is just laugh lightly as she tackles him into the grass. He looks a little shocked, but also amused, maybe even pleased. "I don't know what you're talking about, Lyndis…"

She pulls the foxtail out of his mouth, staring at the chewed stem before tossing it aside.

Her toes are still dangling in the water as she rests her arms on either side of his head and presses her lips against his, slowly, carefully, pulling back before going back to kiss him again and again.

Finally, she stops. She knows he's disappointed, but he understands that they can't get carried away, and the atmosphere is so perfect that it would be only too easy to go too far.

He opens his mouth as if to speak, but she rests a finger against his lips and shakes her head. "Let's just listen to the music," she tells him, snuggling up beside him, pressing her head against his chest.

"Music? But—" She pokes him hard in the ribs, cutting him off.

"You Lycians don't know what real music is." Her voice drops to a whisper so soft he can scarcely hear it. "Tell me what you hear."

"I…" Puzzled, he chews on the inside of his cheek. "I don't hear anything."

"You're not listening close enough." Her fingers rub little circles in the fabric of his shirt over his chest.

"The wind in the grass?" he asks after a long moment.

She nods, smiling. "And in the trees, through your hair, across the water…"

"Your feet are splashing in the water, milady."

She lifts both feet out of the lake, up and over her back so fast that a few drops of water splash on his face.

She grins. "And don't forget the birds, Kent."

"A killdeer is blocking out any other birds."

"Mmhmm." She twists a finger in his hair and turns onto her back, one knee bent, the other crossing over it. She doesn't care that it's probably improper; the only one with her is Kent, after all.

"Grasshoppers chewing on plants," he murmurs after a time, one hand playing with her ponytail, the other beneath his head. "Bees flying by…"

She remains silent, enjoying the sound of his gentle voice and that of all the other sounds around her.

Minutes pass and neither of them feel the need to say anything.

"I hear something else." His voice startles Lyn from her half-conscious state, and her eyes flutter open as she turns her head toward him.

"What is it?" she asks him sleepily, fingertips touching the slant of his jaw. "Your horse cropping at the grass? A squirrel chattering in the tree over there?"

"No." He looks thoughtful for a moment before his expression turns serious. "It's much louder."

"Oh?" Lyn listens carefully, with only the feeling of Kent's heart beating against her palm to distract her. Finally, she hears it: rrrrummmble. She gives his arm a playful slap, a chuckle escaping her throat.

His brown eyes remain mirthless, though, and she realizes he's playing innocent; he would be good at it except that she knows him too well; he can't fool her. "What sort of music is that, milady?"

"That's my stomach," she says, hands grabbing his sides where his skin is sensitive; he's the one squirming, now, and he can't help but give her one of those little half-smiles of his as he grabs her arms and pushes her away from him.

"Shall we fill it, then?"

She grins and attaches herself to him, lips pressing against his. "I wish I could fill up on kisses," she tells him when she pulls away.

"You'd never go hungry on my watch," he whispers, but the serious edge to his voice has been replaced by something softer, gentler, and when he kisses her back, she almost melts against him.

She wishes he could act so loving and—and wonderful—within the walls of Castle Caelin, but she knows that he can't. It would get him in a lot of trouble, perhaps more than she can even comprehend. She's happy with the fact that he can act himself around her, because that's all that really ought to matter.

Lyn's stomach growls again, and she rests her hands against it, laughing in embarrassment, a barely noticeable blush staining her cheeks, "I'll say that the killdeer sounds a lot more like music than this."

He chuckles a little and touches her back lightly, pushing her toward their horses. "Let's return to the castle, Lady Lyndis."

She doesn't seem to need any encouragement from him, as she's already swinging onto the back of her mare, a broad grin stretching across her face that is nothing short of sly. "I'll race you," she tells him earnestly, pulling back on the reins just a little bit to keep her over-eager mount from taking off. "If I win," she insists as he puts his foot into the stirrup and pulls himself into his own saddle, "then you have to come back here with me tomorrow—and we have to bring lunch with us and eat it here."

He opens his mouth to ask what he might get if he wins, but she doesn't give him a chance to respond before her boots gently kick against her horse's side and the animal hurries off toward the castle. Shaking his head, he pushes his own horse into a slow canter.

He really doesn't care what he might get if he wins.

He fully intends to let her win.


Author Notes:

Now that your teeth have rotted out from the insane amount of cute, I hope that you'll tell me what you thought of this. This is, to date, one of my favorites. Either way, feedback is very much appreciated! (And Happy Birthday to Qieru, again!)