Dances and Missteps

Title: Dances and Missteps
Time Period: December 31, 134 A.D.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: While there are some missteps, the dance still progresses smoothly.

The minutes have crept by, after the woman in black left Jorn to his own devices; there were things that he now cannot seem to shake about her, despite his willingness to find another pint of drink and attempt to forget that particular mystery. He is halfway into the mug before he simply sets it aside on some passing surface so that his hands find themselves free again. The antlered green-man puts himself aside, along one of the walls of the buildings that line the square, looking up to watch the mixture of lanterns, stars, moon and clouds. It is not yet midnight, though he can feel everyone gaining that celebratory momentum nonetheless.

Jorn is torn between watching the crowd of masked faces, and the nighttime horizon above the rise of the square. Maybe he should have avoided that dance after all. It seems to have left him with a sour, peculiar taste in his mouth that has nothing to do with that brew.

"Hello."

The voice is soft, but still loud enough to be audible. Mairi's been waiting in the wings for a little to find a time to properly approach. Considering he'd been occupied when she had finished her prior dance, the Alice-In-Wonderland clad woman spent a little time looking around and finishing her own drink. Mostly for courage. By now, she's a bit more relaxed, but still a touch nervous as she approaches the larger man.

Jorn looks about for a second or two, as if the greeting were being exchanged around him. His gaze settles downward, soon enough, onto the redheaded woman in simpler garb. Because of his distracted thoughts, it takes a moment longer until his eyes have a spark of recognition behind the coppery half-masked helm. His lips turn up, and a small laugh tries to form in his chest to drive away the awkward chill from before.

"Hello. Are you enjoying the night?"

As she's recognized, Mairi seems relieved. "Are you alright? At first I thought maybe you wouldn't recognize me." She looks down at her dress, then quickly back up to the impressive garb (at least to her) that Jorn wears. "It is a little something out of my element, but I am enjoying it well enough. And you?"

When Jorn shakes his head a couple of times, it almost can give the wrong impression- that is, until he answers her.

"That is the point, yes?" Not being recognized. Not right away. "I learned to make it my element, I think. I was enjoying myself." This he finally admits, mouth looking drawn amidst his scruff. He lifts a hand to finger the buttoning of his coat, watching Mairi. "I feel …slighted, suddenly."

Tucking hair carefully behind her ear, Mairi adjusts her mask as she listens to Jorn. There's a small frown that forms on her features at his admission. "That's not something that should happen at festivities like this. Is there something I can do to bring your enjoyment back?" She looks towards the dance floor. "It was suggested to me that we dance, but I wouldn't mind just sitting and talking if you'd prefer."

"It could not be helped. I was reminded of myself, that is all." A pause comes to his low voice. "Do we not do enough sitting and talking?" Jorn smiles freely, lifting his hand out in an offer to take hers. "I do not mind a lively tune as this one." The one that he was dancing to before was by no means slow, still. "Of course, if you would rather chat-" He would not be totally against it.

"So long as the dance isn't exhausting, I do not see why we can't do both," Mairi says, taking his hand. She smiles warmly in his direction. "It is good to see you here, I wasn't sure if I'd come, myself. I was told it was important for me to be here, though, to get out and enjoy myself. I am certainly glad I did, though. It is good to see you. Your costume is very fine."

Jorn leads her from along the fringe of the square, further onto the area of ruddy brick and plenty of other roving feet. He won't bring up the fact she stumbled across that it is good to see him- well- more than once was enough to get him chuckling to himself. "It is nice to get out, even for loners like us."

"As is yours, though I admit, I am not certain of it's origin." He dips his horned head to Mairi, understanding her following him as assent; her hand remains in his palm, even as he takes up the other. Unless she aims to get close to him as the raven woman did- Jorn does not presume to get handsy with her.

Perhaps the nervousness (and the alcohol) is making Mairi a little more off her game than usual. She falls into step with Jorn, though she isn't quite as forward as his raven and instead keeps a respectable distance, but still closer than she might have danced with a complete stranger. "It's a children's story, about a girl who falls down a hole and ends up in another world. She has all kinds of adventures."

The redhead seems to smile a little more warmly after a moment. "It is good to get out. It is strange to think about things other than my work, but it is strangely freeing. It makes me feel much younger."

Mairi's description of the tale leaves her partner with a somewhat intrigued curve on his mouth. Hm. Perhaps he will ask her about it further, another time. Tonight is probably not a good night for it anyway. "Younger?

"You are not that old, Mairi." Jorn laughs, his dancing slightly less stoic than before. "You are, nay, ten years below me, at least. If you have lost track of your youth already, I fear for your elder hours."

"I'm alone and have no children. I do hard labor and am often disconnected from people, it is hard not to feel old, Jorn," Mairi admits, though there's still a smile on her face. "I have had at least another tell me I'm not old, but it certainly feels like I've done a lot of living and my best years are behind me. Is that not how you are supposed to feel when you're old?"

"You know, I am all of those things too. Alone, labor- and it feels as though I have lived already." They discussed this once, a while ago, over tea, didn't they? Is this going somewhere? "But curse me if I never feel young, even if my back aches and my scars twinge." His arms shift, to turn her smoothly about.

"And that is because I know better. Feeling old is one matter- believing you are, is another, hm?"

They did have this conversation, but it's one that lingers fresh in Mairi's mind as if it had been yesterday. "Perhaps I simply believe it because life is so… predictable. I know what each day will bring me. I know exactly where I will be tomorrow, what I will do… and the future, there are no great grand plans. Perhaps I am just not the dreamer I used to be and that makes me feel as if I am beyond my years."

The widow moves with Jorn's motions, only a brief moment cast about to the others in the square before she looks to him. "I suppose we are similar, you and I, but you are much better at aging in a proper amount of time." She offers him another gentle smile. "We are at a new year… what is it you are hoping it will bring you?"

"Now that you mention it, I may hope for some new dreams of my own, to replace the ones that I've fulfilled." His antlers cant to the side when he tilts his head to look more easily down at her. "Maybe you shall get some too." Truthfully, he is not hoping for much from the new year; just for the world to be kind to him, if it does insist upon giving him something.

"It is possible that you only need a friend willing to lead you into excitement and adventure." Jorn flashes a small grin to her. "I like to think I am moreso after I have been drinking…" Well, most people are.

"You are very right, Jorn, I should get some new ones," Mairi agrees, as if dreams were something that could merely be bought at market. It is his grin, though, that brightens her whole demeanor. "I think you certainly are! We have already been on one adventure together, even it was unexpected. I am still very happy with the skull… it is not a typical decorative piece, but I feel as if it gives me luck and protection and a woman should never be without both." There's a pause, like Mairi feels the need to correct herself on some detail, but decides against it.

"I am sure I would enjoy any adventure with you, Ser Wartooth," the widow grins.

"You could have worn it, tonight. You would be the most fearsome redhead here." Considering it is Scotland, that's a tall order. Jorn doesn't seem to relate that, however, preferring to immerse as much as he can into the state of his liver. "Is that right? I am sure many would enjoy adventuring with me." Though maybe this is leaning into territory that is less actual adventure. "I am an infamous man, where I hail from."

"I am not sure a dragon maiden would have suited me. I am strong, but not fierce, and I have little cause to breathe fire on anyone or anything," Mairi giggles at the suggestion. "But I will have to remember that for the future. Next time I shall terrify all of Dornie with it." She tilts her chin up a little to regard him for a moment. "Infamous? Ah! Well, I should have known such. A man like you would certainly be."

"Quite the figure." Jorn nods gravely, his voice hitting a similar timbre. "You have never seen adventure until you have done so with a vikingr band." He turns her again, more slowly, swaying on his heels when he brings her back again. "Tonight, however, is one of the only nights where I actually wear a horned helm. Blackburn was so disappointed about that part. Broke his heart."

Mairi grins. "I suppose horned helmets aren't fairly practical for daily use. Although they could be very intimidating if needed." She steals a glance around to see if Cas is still around before she looks back to Jorn. "Cas already thinks you quite the hero, I imagine he just like to imagine you in garb that makes you look the image of a hero."

"Oh?" Jorn seems honestly surprised by this. After a moment he comes around to maybe she had told him all about the dragon. That would put the cherry on the cake, for certain. "I would not call me a hero." The word eases off of his tongue as if he shouldn't even be using it. "There are men with less blood on their hands more worthy of such affections."

"He could hardly believe you fought off a dragon," Mairi seems amused. "I think that makes you a hero in his book. And blood on your hands makes you no less of a hero. I very well may owe you my life… and if not mine, my horse's at the very least. Certainly makes you the image of a hero. Saving lives is heroic, blood or not."

He knows that he has mentioned his work before, in passing- but 'mercenary' is not thorough. Jorn watches her face- what part he can see- for an answer first. "It was not a habit of mine, before." More invested in ending them. "Are you aware of who I really was?" Jorn is torn between amusement and curiosity, though part of him is kicking to not say anything more. "I am infamous for a reason, frue."

"I would not like to be making the impression that I am entirely without fault." Likely, he is doing this on purpose. Suddenly sabotaging himself readily for the sake of saving someone else's peace- a piece- of mind. It would not be the first time, even though he is reluctant to do so.

"We all have our faults, Jorn Wartooth. I have heard a rumor or two, but I am sure by the way you are speaking that it exceeds what they say about you," Mairi looks back at him seriously. "But you said it yourself. Who you were. I did not know you before, and I know you now. I know you as you are. No one is without fault. I have made mistakes in my past… and I foolishly continue to do so. What I see of you now is honest—you are honest with yourself and who you are and that is a rare trait."

She tilts her head a little, then offers a tiny smile. "I am not scared so easily, Ser Wartooth."

"So it seems." Jorn's resignation is in his voice, too. That didn't work as he'd hoped, though there is always time to let it stew, right? It isn't to chase her off completely. Just to keep her at a distance, though Mairi obviously has a mind of her own. He lifts one of her hands to bow his head and plant half of a kiss to her knuckles.

"Several years later, and I am always amazed at the absolution I've found here. You've got me there. This town's turned me soft." Jorn can't help a laugh.

Mairi smiles at the kiss, a quick glance to the dance floor once more before her eyes return to her companion. "Well, there we differ. This town has turned me hard. It is interesting how experiences shape us differently." There's a small laugh in his direction. "I think that many in Dornie do not always forgive, but they are willing to set prejudices aside in favor of something more pleasant. Dornie's a place for fresh starts. So long as you do not break trust after you arrive, anyone can do well."

"We are on an island. Only so many places to go from here." If you're going to be stuck on an island with someone, anyhow. Jorn looks up to glance across the floor, but if he sees or misses what he looks for, there's nothing to indicate it. "As shown by recent arrivals, yes, that sounds about right." The song hovering over the square peters out, pausing between numbers.

Mairi gestures off to the side where they can go rest. "I certainly hope new arrivals don't cause too much trouble," she says. "I've heard a few farms had some of their animals go missing. Not enough to be too suspicious, but it makes me worry." The larger man is offered a smaller nod. "As strange as it is to go to one of these… I wish they had them more often. I don't have many opportunities to dress up. I had forgotten how nice it can be."

"'Twas not me." Jorn answers, matter-of-factly, as he guides Mairi from the floor. Maybe a good thing too, the next song is a bit too slow for his taste. "There are plenty, if one knows who spends in excess." He may have been dragged as muscle to a few, from the sound of it. "I had to be taught how to act at these. You do not want to be at the receiving end of Ross etiquette lessons."

"Oh, I believe I would barely be passable in etiquette. Thankfully I have little need to know it. Just enough to be in polite company," Mairi says, seeking out a good place to stand out of the way of the dancers. "I do not mind. I've no need to be too fancy."

"See, I thought that I knew enough. Not according to the book, I suppose." Jorn tails her the few paces to where they might be unbothered, scuffing his heels to a stop. "Poor Jorn, thinking that please and thank you was enough…" He finds a spot to prop himself up, leaning into the wall behind. Gloved hands meet in front of his stomach, one clasping over the other at the wrist. "Fanciness can be overrated. Get too fancy, and you end up with your nose up an arse."

The words get a laugh from Mairi as she comes to lean against the wall next to him. "Your honesty is wonderful. I have to say I prefer to be a little more plain and simple. I do not want to stick my nose into anything like that. This is probably my nicest dress." She pauses. "I am wrong. I do have one nicer, but it's not something I can really wear." Mairi chuckles. "Perhaps it is good that I'm not a terribly fancy person."

Maybe he concentrates on the wrong thing here. Maybe not. "Why can you not wear it?" Jorn questions, eyebrows arching under the mask, and his voice becomes a bit blurred now that he is not pumping energy into moving his feet about. "Though I think that this one is very nice. It is a lovely color."

"Thank you," Mairi says, looking down at the dress. "It is my favorite color, actually. I find blue very soothing at some times and exciting at others." Her other dress, though, is a topic which has Mairi turning bright red. "Oh, well, it's the kind of dress a girl doesn't wear save for once. It's not really something you get to use again."

Jorn has a lack of tact that sometimes gets him in trouble, and now seems to be one of those times. He doesn't look like he entirely gets the point, when she turns red and describes it as such. "Anything can be used again, even a dress." He shakes his head, puzzled. Women are strange things, even if he goes out of his way to make peace with them.

Mairi's cheeks remain flushed with color. She's not about to just drop the topic, now that it's been brought out there. "Yes, but it would be strange to wear a wedding dress on any occasion other than a wedding. It is not exactly something one uses more than once." She hesitates. "Well, one hopes not to." Her gaze moves to the ground for a moment. "I am sorry, I do not sound too harsh, do I? I may have had a little more to drink than I thought."

Jorn locks up, his posture rigid and his mouth all but turning to a grimace. A disturbed little groan comes from him, though not at the topic she has breached, but because he made her. His hands lift in silence, and with an awkward clasp he takes one of hers up. His voice is apologetic, and he bows at the waist some in deference. "Jeg beklager, tilgi meg."

"It is I that have had too much. I am sorry. I think I must be going…" Because he just stamped all over anything that was floating there — and only in most things is he brave.

Her cheeks burn as Mairi looks back over at Jorn, a small frown crossing her features. "If you are only leaving because of this, please don't. I would hate to ruin a nice evening. I enjoyed the dance and I…" The widow trails off, and her gaze lowers. "Perhaps I will see you again soon, then, Jorn?"

He looks awkward, even though she cannot see his whole face. Blue eyes flicker up to her and down again, then up once more. The berserker finds himself torn all the same. 'And I' what? Between this and his shame in embarrassing her, for a few moments Jorn is stuck clasping at her much smaller hand before finally making a decision.

"I will not go if you do not wish me to. I am not good at- talking." To women.

Mairi's gaze slowly rises from the ground, her hand still in his before she does offer forth a tentative smile. "You can do it just fine, especially when given a better topic. There are some topics that no one can really speak well on." Wedding dresses may very well be one of them. Since he has not released her hand, she gives his a gentle squeeze. "I would like it if you stayed. At least until you decide to go because you really need to."

When Mairi puts pressure onto his hand, he glances down as if noticing he is still doing it. Rather than shy it from her grip, however, he decides to edge back into line next to her, her hand remaining in his palm. It is the least he can do for her — she is not a woman that demands much attentions, so far as he knows. "I think I can last some time, yet." Jorn responds, softly. "Forgive my missteps." For that one, and any more that might come up. He makes the plead count, doesn't he?

The gesture is something full of deep meaning, and Mairi is quiet for a good long while before she even decides to answer. "You are already forgiven, Jorn," she says. She looks as if she were going to say more, but instead she decides to linger in silence, letting the void of speech do most of the talking. It is a while before she even speaks. "I shouldn't stay too long. I will need to be getting back to the farm before it gets too late."

"Do you need taken home?" Jorn doesn't think he should ask, but it manages to leak out anyway. "Though perhaps I should not leave town tonight." He amends, regretfully. Otherwise, his gesture of a held hand is steadfast, until she might decide to break it. It seems to have worked, despite the whole fact he is still winging it.

"I brought Cyrano with me," Mairi explains. "He knows the roads well and will see me home safely. I think after that encounter with the dragon he has become much more difficult to spook. He will do just fine as an escort." She looks back up at him through the mask. "But the offer is meaningful. Thank you." His hand is squeezed by Mairi's once again before she lets out her breath in a slow sigh. "I will go. Thank you for the company."

This would likely be easier without a half helm and antlers — Jorn leans down to plant a short kiss onto her hair, near her temple. Some drink, some actual tenderness, it should still count for something. "May your path stay safe tonight, then." Only then does his own hand loosen for hers to slip away properly.

There's one final squeeze from her hand before Mairi slips it away to begin her retreat. The color has returned to her cheeks, eyes studying him from behind the mask. "I am certain it will, Jorn," she says. She doesn't linger any longer, instead turning to leave so she can begin the trek back to her farm.