A corgi and otter couple spend some time together.
Gwen gasped as the trolls charged her. Incoherent howls echoed through the night as they seized her by the robes.
"Oh no! You got us." Flots lashed his tail in mock horror. "Here's your candy."
The cubs, two canines and a calico, snatched the treats from Flots's webbed paw, then scampered off. They hooted in victory, raising their troll masks just enough to feast on the sugary delights. Painted lanterns splashed puddles of color in their path as they raced off in search of more villagers to extort.
Gwen watched them go with Corgi ears high, paws steepled. "What an unusual holiday."
Her otter companion chittered with glee, checking to ensure he hadn't run out of candy and small toys. "Isn't it great? They say they've been doing it for decades. I wonder how it started?"
"They live surrounded by monsters." She tipped her muzzle toward the high walls surrounding the village. "Perhaps they needed to make light of it."
Flots blinked, considering this, no doubt planning whom he was going to pester for tales tomorrow. After only a week in town, all but the most talkative villagers had started to plead ignorance. Except the other otters, of course; they considered it an excellent cause for hyperbole.
She took his hand in her own and led him along the boardwalk. All around them, villagers pranced about in monstrous attire, the younger ones pretending to steal purses or hats only to ransom them back for various treats. Festive lights played along the carvings in the walls and pillars, making the designs almost seem to move. Some she swore were meant to be spells, but none were charms she knew.
A wet kiss to her ear. She suppressed a squeak.
Flots smiled, then looked around. "You like this place."
She nodded. "So much to learn. All these spells I've never even heard of."
"That's the only reason?" Chuckling, he squeezed her paw.
Her ears dropped under the weight of her blush. "No..."
"Come on." He tugged her toward the inn. "I'll show you why I changed rooms."
They slipped through the crowded porch and tavern, declining several offers for drinks or dances. Gwen's heart raced in time with their paws on the stairs as they headed for the third floor. Warmth crept so readily from Flots's webbed paws, her tail so eager to wag at the bouncy tenor of his voice. They reached his room and, dodging an amused look from the innkeeper's husband, hurried inside.
The room could not be called large, though she had endured more cramped quarters in her travels. Enough room for a washbasin, a small dresser, and a bed--Gwen noted that it was large enough for two, then became very grateful the room was too dark for her blush to be seen. What the space lacked in size, however, it made up for in view. Through the large bay windows, one could see over the roofs of the town all the way to the lake, where glimmers of moonlight danced across the rolling waves. Beyond that, the Dragon Tower loomed, massive even in its distance, lit on one side black to white like an ink print. Much closer, color washed up from between the roofs of Lagan, stirred by the bustle of merrymakers and punctuated by occasional shouts or singing.
Flots led her forward. Her bare paws stepped over the clothes strewn about. A few months ago, she would have cared. Right now, she cared more about the fact that they seemed to be heading toward the bed.
The otter seated himself there, facing the window, and helped her up as well. He assumed Corgis built their beds lower. Together they sat, his arm around her waist and their gazes out the window. Below, villagers milled about. Several colorful forms zipped through the village on butterfly wings—faerrets. After several minutes longer than she'd ever seen Flots sit still, she cleared her throat. "Umm, is something supposed to happen?"
"Shhh. Patience, monk." His light kiss swept away any comeback she might have made. He looked to her with smiling eyes, the starlight clear and cool behind him.
And it was then that the spells drifted skyward, blossoming into delicate plumes of light in colors unknown and unnamed in all the world's gardens. Some swirled and spiraled, others fluttered and flew, still others shimmered and streaked like falling stars: all crafted by the paws of villagers, then set free to soar like airships built of ethereal glow, piloted by the glitter-winged faerrets. Silent, scentless, like so many treasures in life, they hid from those who couldn't be bothered to stop and look. In fact, the only greater beauty the otter could think of came in the reflection of the spells in his Corgi's eyes.
~ ~ ~
Flots sat on the edge of the bed, cradling Gwen against his side with one arm. They watched the lights of the villagers' spells dance and gimbal across the sky, until like the northern lights they tapered off. As the last few stragglers twisted their way into the purple twilight, the otter felt the Corgi move against him, nestling closer, one overlarge ear brushing his nose. Flots nipped at the tip, half-playful, rewarded by a squeak and a little shiver from his companion. The night's chill crept into his fur, but Gwen's weight, warm and soft, kept him too content to move.
"Tell me a story, Flots."
Someone else might have thought the Corgi felt tired from the day's festivities, but Flots knew her better. Gwen's breath against his collarbone come too measured, and he felt her tail wagging against his, too soft to hear.
The otter searched for words a moment and slipped into his storyteller voice. "Once, not all that very long ago, there was a beautiful young Corgi. She and her kind traveled the land in search of adventure, though they pretended that wasn't the reason." He turned his nose to nuzzle down into the softness inside her ear, his voice a dim murmur in the silver moonlight. She smelled so good. "This young Corgi was so kind and so wise that she was held dear by everyone who knew her, and by no one more than a brave, clever, handsome young otter whom she met in a castle on a snowy mountain. He followed her on her not-adventure, all across the land, and together they saved the world."
Gwen gave a soft giggle against his chest, shifting to rest her head on his shoulder, nosing along the curve of his neck. "Flots, I--" She faltered. "I like this story, Flots. How does it end?"
The otter smiled, nuzzling his head against hers, feeling their fingers intertwine. "Oh, no one knows. Some say he followed her forever and pined away to nothing, helpless against her charms. Others claim she accepted his affection, and returned it, and let him keep away danger and boredom for the rest of both their lives." Her warm body nestled against him, both their hearts beating a little faster now. "One thing most can agree on is she once followed him to his room for the night, and he made her mewl like a kitten, and howl like a wolf, until she'd quite forgotten what species she was supposed to be." He grinned against her head fur. "Personally, I think more than one are true, but we may never know for sure."
A blush in her ears soaked his nose with heat. She turned to face him, looking up at him, noses brushing, eyes locked. She favored him with a kiss as her round little paw slipped across his belly, faltering as it swept over his slacks before taking hold of his other arm. "I think…" She murmured, as her weight against him began to bear them backward onto the sheets. "I think I'd like to find out."
A nice little story for a wonderful piece. This takes place at some point in the AP timeline, though since I'm still writing the book I'm not sure when!