Disclaimer: Sadly, I don't own F'la-er, DRoP. That's Anne Mccaffrey's.

Title: Always

S/N: So school is literally driving me to drink (or it will in a month when I'm legal), and taking up my time...time I could be spending writing. But alas, I'm reduced to smaller 'shots for the moment, just to keep my spirits up and so I don't forget how to write non-essay style, or something like that. So it's just a little insight into what I hope is a deeper perception of their relationship - particularly the ever complicated Lessa -, a sort of test on my part at looking at the softer underbelly under the stern leaders. And yeah, it's written when they're quite a bit older. Thanks to calenlily (Hi, stalker! )for the encouragement, advice and appropriate squeeing that helped me when writing. -hearts- Yeah, and this might be inspired by one or two of my favorite songs, because I'm a musical symbolist. Hehe.

He is watching me.

I do not need to look at him to know this. I always know when he does so, from the minute he lays his eyes upon me. I can feel it; it is like a gentle caress against the back of my mind. His gaze is akin to a physical embrace. So much like a dragon's, like my precious Ramoth's, yet at the same time, so very different. His presence always lingers in the peripheral of my mind, and almost constantly, my mind will unconsciously seek out his wherabouts in some way, whether it be by my own gaze travelling around the area, or something more elaborate, perhaps enquiring to Ramoth or Mnementh as to where he currently is. Our bond is still as strong as ever after all these decades, as devoted and steadfast in a time when the bond between many pairs begins to fade. Always lingering, his gaze, making me feel reassured, content, loved and cherished in a way I have rarely ever been in my life.

I often wonder if he imagines that I am not aware of his quiet but constant (and often protective) vigilance over me, but just as often, I quickly dismiss the thought. He is not stupid, far from it. He would know that I am perfectly well aware of his presence, just as I know that he is always well aware of mine. How could he not be? It seems so very long ago when we first started out together, uncertain, closed off and not a little misunderstanding and irritated with each other, but now? I could not imagine him anywhere else but by my side. We have been together so long that to think of him anywhere else is beyond unbearable. For, though such a conclusion would surprise so many people, it is true - Ramoth is my queen, my beloved Ramoth. She holds the essence of my soul, but while she holds that most important portion of myself, he holds something equally important. He holds the essence of my body; he holds the heart that I so tentatively gave to him to hold and protect so many Turns ago now.

I feel the small smile tug at my lips as my fingers move, deftly unsecuring my silver streaked cloud of hair from its plait. Imagine what the people of Pern would think, if they knew that Benden's fierce and feared Weyrwoman was musing like a naive hold girl pining for her first love. I can't help it though, when it is the truth, and I have never cared much for the opinions of others, anyway. They will not change my reflections, and during these tumultuous times of change, it is these reflections, this bond that stays with me, unchanging, as sure and as steady as the sun rises and sets.

Moving to the entrance of our weyr, I gaze out over our home, quietly taking in the tranquility of the setting as another day passes, taking in the familiar, comforting sounds of rustling wings and deep, throaty rumbles, of quiet voices both human and draconic. I cannot help but marvel at the scene; it seems so long ago, that time of unrest and uncertainty, when we first set out to make things right in a world that was filled with scorn and disbelief for people like ourselves. And yet we fought, and in the end, we prevailed. Together. It was amusing, really, how people often looked at us and sized up which one of us was the superior one. It is amusing because they are so ignorant, and we know better. Both of us bear traits of equal standing, and where one of us falters, the other's strengths rise to balance out the sphere that is our partnership.

Our strengths compliment one another; I am bold and hot, sometimes overly passionate; he is cautious and calm, more reserved. We compliment one another, neither restraining or oppressing the other, but tempering ourselves out, despite what others may think. I may be Weyrwoman of Pern, powerful and frightening, but he is no less strong, for he is Weyrleader; he is the only human (no Ramoth, I would never leave you out, silly creature), that knows who Lessa is as woman and lover on the inside. When we are alone in the privacy of our weyr, we leave our respective facades outside. I am simply Lessa, with the spirited temper and annoyingly curly dark hair, Ramoth's rider, and he is F'lar, with the less than innocent sense of humour and the liquid amber eyes, Mnementh's rider, who loves and needs his mate just as she needs him.

The bond between us strengthens with each passing Turn; there is little we can hide from each other these days, and little we want to hide from each other. And what we do try to hide from each other never stays hidden for long, for as our own bonds have strengthened, so to have the bonds between our beloved life partners strenghtened. Dragons are terrible gossips, after all, particularly when it comes to the well being of their riders. I do not mind though, for it is just one more piece in place that further cements the feelings of complete love and contentment. It makes me feel precious and allows me to be vulnerable where I would normally never allow myself to be, though at the same time, it frightens me. It frightens me because it is my greatest weakness too. They are my weakness, he is my weakness, and at any moment, they could be taken from me in the same way the ones I loved were taken from me so many Turns ago. And to lose any one of them would be beyond torture and heartbreak, to lose him too soon, for me to be completely left alone, would be the catalyst that would bring me to my knees. My world would simply go dark - no Ramoth, no Mnementh, no F'lar; it would be akin to telling me I could no longer see the light of day.

I know one day we will be parted; it is unavoidable. We are growing old, weary, delegating responsibility to the younger generations, ensuring they will pass on our legacy, praying we will not be disappointed by them. For disappointment is perhaps one of the worst feelings, the shame and hurt, and irrevocably, my mind is drawn to the times I have witnessed the disappointment in my weyrmate's eyes for me, and how, later, it made my cheeks flush in shame and my heart twinge with more hurt than I had ever thought was possible for me to feel. Yet, at the same time, it reminds me that he still loved me, and still does love me in that unconditional way that even now, I have never fully been capable of understanding anymore than knowing that it just is.

I shiver slightly at the icy touch of the night breeze against my skin - Benden Weyr in the autumn is always chilly, and being so slender, I have never liked the cold much. Still, I smile when I feel rather than see those amber eyes look upon me, feel the playfulness and adoration in his countenance as he moves behind me, his arms wrapping around my waist and pulling me into his arms, close to the broad plane of his chest, a band of warmth that immediately aids in chasing away the ice cold of the night. As it always does. His lips pass fleetingly over my neck, his cheek resting companiably against mine and I feel his eyelashes flutter closed against my skin.

"What are you thinking about so deeply, my love?" he murmurs, his voice a familar, soothing baritone in my ear that makes me shiver slightly, for it is a shadow of the soft, low, husky tone he uses when we make love. And of course, I could hear it a thousand and one times and still be reduced to a weak-kneed mess inwardly. Shrugging, I smile and turn my face to nuzzle lightly against his jaw, allowing the glow of smugness to permeate my smile at his intake of breath. Ha, that's one for one, dear heart, and I grin when I hear what could be Ramoth's or Mnementh's snort in response to our tactics with one another.

"You," I murmur in response to his question. I feel his chuckle against my back.

"Me?" he retorts, his voice teasing in that way that reminds me that age will never completely quiet either of us down. "I'd have thought there would have been nothing for you to reflect upon after all these Turns. Well, unless you're contemplating on what tricks Mnementh and I might employ to ensure you remain ours."

This time, there is a suggestive note to his voice, and I don't need to pull back to know he is smirking in that lascivious manner that he knows riles my temper, the glitter in his amber eyes nothing short of pure mischief and shameless intentions. I hit his thigh lightly in warning, but I smile again as he draws me closer, attempting to ignore his mouth ghosting over that oversensitive spot just below my ear.

"And I thought you would have learnt after all these Turns that I'll always find something to think about," I retort, "Especially when it comes to you, oh infallible one."

He laughs quietly, the sound soft but warm against my skin as his chin rests against my shoulder. We are silent for long moments before I feel him breathe in, exhaling softly in my hair as he speaks soft words that he rarely speaks to anyone. Only to Mnementh, only to me. And no matter how many Turns pass, they warm my heart and soften my harsh demeanour just as they did the first time he uttered them.

"I'm not infallible, we both know that. But what I do know for certain is that I love you, Lessa. And I always will."

I turn my face up to him, gracing him with a rare smile just as his lips capture mine in an equally rare, tender kiss that barely caresses my lips.

"I know you do, dear heart. It's all I need to know."

Because I love you too. And I always will.