The Dance and Lavender by Veteran1972


The Dance
The wind was cool as it blew the misty rain around.
Seeing the lights at the inn the traveler decided he needed to stop and rest.
Stepping up onto the porch he removed his pack feeling his muscles relax from the weight.
He turned his senses to the inn.
He could detect the scent of food, people males and females, and the slightest smell of lavender.
His ears picked up the murmur of conversations.
Shaking the moisture from his cloak he opened the door standing there filling the door frame taking in the view with his eyes to confirm what his other senses had told him.
The murmur stopped only for a second as they all looked then returned to their own places continuing the murmur barely giving him any notice.
“Please be seated!!” came a female voice from the kitchen area. The words were like the sounds of beautiful music.
He took a table in the corner near a window covered by the misty rain. Placing his heavy pack on the ground he pulled the chair back and seated himself with his back to the corner. Finally satisfied he slowly eased his hand away from his dagger. The place was safe, at least safe enough.
He pulled his hood back revealing his face. He was a grey wolf, an old wolf. His features were hard. His fur tattered with a lack luster shine. His face bore his age. His ears the marks of combat. He was not a beautiful wolf. His one stunning feature was his eyes. They were sharp and clear. Focused. Determined. A color not matching his fur making them stand out. Yawning he showed his teeth. Still sharp and strong. His sense of smell still keen after all the years of his life.
The young female, a vixen with golden hair, came out of the kitchen moving with a grace and beauty of her youth. She moved effortless across the floor to his table. The scent of lavender was now much stronger. He caught her eyes fixing on them. They showed the youth and vibrancy of life but he saw deeper. He saw the pain, hurt, and loss, incredible loss.
“What would you like, sir.” her melodic voice said.
Answers rushed his mind. To be young? To be able to un-see all that I have seen?
To be home?
“A flagon of ale, please.” he said returning from his muse.
She spun heading back to the kitchen, her skirt spinning him with a breeze scented with lavender. He allowed the slightest of smiles.
She returned with the flagon placing it on the table….”And your name gentlewolf?” she asked.
“Thank you” was all he said placing several silver coins on the table for her. Taking the coins she walked away. She looked back with eyes that wished to take his pain away.
“Was it that obvious?” he thought to himself.
He took a drink. The ale was good. Chilled to the right temperature. The taste washed the road from his mouth and his mind. His thoughts drifted back to his trip. The meeting had not gone well. The usual bickering and accusations flying back and forth with him sitting the middle listening, not taking sides. It was not his to decide but he would carry the message back to his kind. Bad times were upon them again. The evil thought defeated was returning. How many more lives will this cost this time he thought, how many more.
He opened his eyes looking about the room. Over in another corner he saw an elf bard. He always appreciated music himself being clumsy fingered. Hands more adept at weapons than instruments. A slight nod acknowledged the others presence. The bard removed his instrument from it’s case. Adjusted a few strings and began to play.
The song he immediately recognized from his youth. A beautiful melodic song of perfect notes and balance. His mind now drifted back to his youth. When his fur gleaned in the sunlight. His claws strong and sharp. He teeth white as the snow and oh, so sharp. His muscles new and strong with the vigor of youth. His mind uncluttered.
He remembers her now. His mate sitting back at his home still far away. Waiting. Always waiting. She use to make these trips but age holds her back. She does her fabric work with hands that move automatically. So long she has sewn she could be blind and still do the work. Her love for him unconditional but for one thing. Always find your way home. Where ever you are. Find your way home. His mind now drifts in the melody. His foot tapping the beat. His hand moving an unseen dancer.
Lost in thought he suddenly looks up.
The young vixen stood there before him reaching for his hand. He resisted the urge to pull back. He decides to take her hand. He rises from the chair to his full height. His cloak falls to the chair revealing the old gray uniform of the Wolf Clan. His service patches indicating the Rangers. An old service with a heroic past. His uniform was like him. Old, tattered, the silver buttons darker due to their age. His weapons hung on his weathered belt. They too were well weathered but strong and still sharp. Each in its exact place from years of training.
Together they walked to the middle of the floor. Taking up their respective positions. Taking her right hand in his left. His right hand on her hip. Her left hand taking up the full of her skirt. With a nod they began to dance.
Memories filled his mind. The song was remembered as were the steps and patterns he thought long forgotten. Matching move for move the pair danced as one. The patrons fixated on the display of precision and grace. Each step and move carefully place to the beat of the music. Music from a time before bad things went on. He could feel her young body move with a grace and power that made him feel alive. Only glancing at each other as new positions were done.
The song slowly ended as did the dance. The scent of lavender filled his senses. The soft applause reached his battle hardened ears.
He stepped back still holding her right hand as the music stopped.
Finally looking into her eyes he felt his weight lifted. He felt absolved of all his transgressions. He felt younger for the first time in years.
As is the custom he stepped back bowing kissing the back of her hand.
“My name is Rikard.” he finally said.
Rikard stood back erect releasing her hand. She curtseyed so slightly then turned hearing calls from the kitchen. She headed there stopping to look back as he stood in the center of the floor now alone. Rikard returned to his table finishing his flagon. He put his cloak back on reaching into the folds retrieving a small bag and a piece of paper on which he wrote a note. Picking up his pack he walked out the door looking back at three individuals who watched him intently as he closed the door behind him. Rikard put the pack on his back. The misty rain now gone. A bright full moon lit his way. Stepping off the porch he went down the road. He looked back upon reaching the woods.
He expected what was next. He could smell their pheromones outside.
The young vixen came back into the room seeing the now empty table. The chair was now bathed in a soft moon lit glow. She saw the small bag and the note. Picking up the bag she was surprised at the weight. She opened it finding it filled with gold coins. With shaking fingers she read the note.
“Thank you for the dance. R.”
Wiping a tear from her eye she said softly “You’re welcome.”
She raced back to the kitchen to show her friend.
Behind her the three stood up leaving less than what was expected for their drinks. Together they walked out the door heading for the woods.

Thanks to Jayelle Anderson for the inspiration.