“Which doesn’t change the fact that Ythac and Llredh are being completely horrible and wicked and disgusting,” I noted. They were, too. They’d twined their tailtips together. Drakes should not do that. Especially drakes on a mating flight.
Ythac glared at me. “Easy for you to say. You’ve never wanted drake or dragoness a moment in your life. You’ve never had your fiercely powerful and powerfully fierce father chew up your wing to try to pain the perversion out of you! You’ve never had to make up excuse after excuse to get the touch that you actually do need. You’ve never listened to everyone you ever respected the least little bit mock you for what you needed so much. You’ve never tried and tried to lust after the right sort of dragon and it never, ever works.”
”… except the last one,” I muttered.
“Well. Right. You’ve never lost your oldest friend because of it,” he said softly.
“Not ‘til today,” I snapped.
Llredh reared his head and puffed sparks. “My …” He tried to think of a good word. “My true love, if you make him your enemy, I too will be your enemy.” Most of the remaining vendors and tourists ran away.
Ythac put a forewing in front of Llredh’s face. “Llredh, Llredh, this is between us. Jyothky, I have wronged you. I will give you as vast an apology as I am capable of.”
“How’d you wrong her?” hissed Arilash. “You owe her nothing.”
“I wouldn’t call giving me the keys to Llredh’s soul nothing, Arilash,” said Ythac. “And I told her I loved her and promised to marry her with a particularly favorable arrangement.”
“Y’what?” roared Arilash. ”I should have gotten first choice, not Jyothky!”
“She didn’t accept either one,” said Ythac, his hindwings flat on the ground.
Mine were flat too. “I should have done. Then you wouldn’t be a pervert.”
“No, Jyothky. I was expecting to have some drake friends on the side. Llredh, for one. That I’d go hunting with, or … other things away from home for a while or two. I didn’t think you’d care very much even if you found out. I didn’t think you’d mind much … well, much compared to most other dragonesses.”
“You are the most vile dragon on Hove,” I said.
“Well. Yes,” said Ythac.
“Worse than Tultamaan?” asked Arilash.
“Tultamaan is honest at least,” I said. “Ythac’s been lying to me for duodecades.”
“The loyal friend and ally, he also has been for duodecades! Deny him that if you can, finicky dragoness!” thundered Llredh. ”You knew nothing of his true soul, but it was no mystery to him when he attended stupid birthday parties and cared for your safety from artillery!”
I thought about that a while. “Right. Ythac, I will accept your apology sometime. But you’re a disgusting pervert. Your tastes are as nasty as anything that ever came out of your cloaca, and your lust for Llredh is a disgrace to our entire species.”
Ythac dipped his head. “Thank you. I agree with you on all of that.”
Arilash and Llredh hissed angrily, and tried to argue, both at once. Ythac flapped his forewings at them. “You’re perverts too. You can’t think like a pure one anymore. Jyothky can’t think like anything else. She’s right.”
Arilash snarled at me. “If you aren’t at least pleasant to Ythac from now on, I am going to chew your left wing off in your sleep and you won’t notice and you’ll be grounded for a year ‘til you can grow it back.”
I snarled back at her. “If you try, I am going to quite handily deprive you of your top choice of husband. If Ythac doesn’t do it instead.”
So at least basic civility was restored to the mating flight.
Llredh vs. Tarcuna
“Now that that’s settled,” said Arilash, “Perhaps we should discuss what we’re doing next.”
I had the answer. “Back to the Khamrou Voresc, of course. Back to the mating flight.” I grinned a thin grim grin. “Only, now we’re back to three girls like we should be. I don’t think Ythac is going to come in first or second though.”
Ythac and Llredh looked at each other. “Not for Ythac will I speak — not yet! — but I say this. The full withdrawing from the mating flight I shall make, if Ythac will have me. No more shall I compete,” said Llredh.
Ythac looked supremely happy, but said nothing.
Arilash grinned at Llredh. “I’ll miss you — you’re one of the best lovers in the flight!”
“Hah! The best!”
“In enthusiasm, yes. In energy and force, yes. In technique, Csirnis. In pleasure, Csirnis. Mating with you is like a big meal of raw meat. Mating with him, like meat simmered in butter ‘til it melts,” said Arilash.
“If any shame is on you, Ythac, it must be the shame of depriving Arilash from a lover like me! She will grow fat and torpid on a diet of buttered meat!” said Llredh with a laugh.