Breath of Fresh Air

FaithLeafCat

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Mr. Harn spent a few minutes spraying whipped cream on the tarts, humming happily and casting frequent looks back towards Noah and Lily. He'd rarely ever seen his son this happy. Especially after falling over fifty feet. Clearly something had happened in Lower Floaten, and he was curious to find out what.

He carried the tarts over and set them on the counter before sitting down himself. He took the letter gently and smiled, chuckling at the slogan. "Thank you very much. I do appreciate it." Then he did a double take and stared incredulously at Lily. "Wait, it's from who?!"

Noah cleared his throat and took a bite of his tart. "Mr. Jenkins. Father, we . . . we have a few things to talk about. B - but don't worry! It's good news," he added quickly, waving his hands.

"I see," his father replied. He sighed heavily and slipped the letter into his pocket. "I'll have a look at it in a bit. For now - Lily, how is the Dragonry coming along? I imagine Noah and I can talk later on, in private."
 

CanaryCry

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Lily sat down at the table a bit gingerly, sheepish and a bit uncomfortable now that he’d reacted with such shock. Had she said something she shouldn’t? "I- I’m sorry, I thought you knew where he lived. . ." Hadn't Mrs. Harn gone and visited a lot, before she’d fallen ill? He had to have known she was going to see family, right? It was strange to wonder if she hadn’t. Maybe Mr. Harn had just never gone to visit himself, and didn’t know where the house was.

"The Dragonry is going through some much needed repairs," she continued, not wanting to dwell on the possible mistake she'd made by speaking up, and settling into more familiar territory. "I'm sure they can’t say thank you enough for your generous donations." It was enough for the materials and labor to keep everything running, and perhaps even a few more stable hands to help take care of the dragons. Only some that came to the Dragonry ended up going back to the wild, after all, so the numbers were always slowly growing.
 

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"Of course I know where he lives," Mr. Harn said delicately. "It's just . . . I never expected to hear from him again. Not after the falling out we had a while back." He pulled in a breath and smiled gently. "But thank you for delivering the letter, Lily. I'm grateful to have it."

He dug into his tart with a fork, delicately eating it. "I'm glad to hear things at the Dragonry are going well, though."

Noah bit his lip and nodded, beaming. ". . . Aw, damn it, I can't wait any more. Father - I got a dragon!"

Mr. Harn nearly choked on his tart. "You - you what?" he stammered. He smiled and set his fork down. "Noah! How did you - ?"

Noah blushed and playfully jabbed Lily's arm. "Thank Lily! She's the one who brought me to the place where I first saw her."

"Ah. Now there's a story I've got to hear," Mr. Harn said, beaming and turning towards Lily.
 

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Lily smiled a little at his thanks, relaxing some and finally taking the first bite of her strawberry tart. She was careful not to whipped cream all over her face, but couldn’t help the small, happy little sound she made at the taste. They were so good!

When Noah couldn’t hold in the news anymore, she only gave a little laugh. "You like to thank me for things I really had nothing to do with - Fern and I were just your ride!" She gave him a playful nudge back, then just smiled at Mr. Harn. "Noah did all the work! He noticed some feral dragons flying around where they shouldn’t be and let us know, so we flew up with someone from the Dragonry to take a look. We weren’t going to go too close, but the group of ferals was being led by Chaital, a dragon who used to do surveyor work with her rider, until the accident a while back. After she lost him, she didn’t stay at the Dragonry for very long - but she fell in love with Noah right away!"

She gave Noah a big grin and reached out to lift his arm up like a fighter that had won a match. "He brought her back home to us, and Pumpkin was with them too! She’s much happier now, with a person to bond with, and her friends with her at the Dragonry, and I’m sure Pumpkins glad to find you guys, too." She wasn’t going to tell Mr. Harn the details of just how Noah had gotten back to the ground after that.
 
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FaithLeafCat

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Mr. Harn listened quietly, resting his chin in his hands and smiling. "I'm very glad everything worked out so well," he said softly. He cleared his throat and went back to eating his tart. "Now, um - I take it, being part of the mail service, you have a dragon as well." He raised his eyebrows and smiled a little wider. "How would you like a saddle upgrade? Something a bit newer? I'm going to make one for Noah and his dragon, and making multiple saddles at once is no trouble."

"Oh! You're gonna make me and Chaital a saddle?" Noah burst out.

"Of course! It's a bit hard to ride a dragon without a proper saddle, isn't it?" Mr. Harn asked, ruffling his son's hair. "Of course, it'd be easier if I could bring a few supplies down to Lower Floaten and work there . . . not as many forms to fill out. More open space. But the most open space is near the Dragonry, and I don't know if Mr. Jenkins would take kindly to me being so close by . . ."
 

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"Yes, sir," Lily was quick to answer, happy as always to launch into any sort of talk about Infernus, but melted into an uncertain smile at his offer, holding her hands up in front of him and giving them a little wave back and forth as if to dismiss it. "You two are both too generous! Noah's already trying to get me to take one for my birthday. . ."

She didn’t want them to end up giving her two. That was really too much!

"My friend Jasper made me the one I have now, and it’s been working great, don’t worry," she added, not wanting them to think there was anything wrong with hers so they wouldn’t try to hurry overmuch. "He has a workshop under our apartment where he works with metal, mostly, and leather, too, but if I offered the space without asking he would probably kill me." She laughed a little and shook her head at the very thought of doing something like that. She would never upset him that way. "I’m sorry, but even if I could convince him, it wouldn’t be for free."

Housing Noah was one thing, but sharing his personal working space, and with a businessman from Upper Floaten, at that, was definitely not something Jasper was going to ever agree to without getting what she probably would think was too much money out of it.

"But I wouldn’t count Mr. Jenkins out just yet." She tried, shrugging a little and giving a cautious little smile. "He might be turning over a new leaf." Mr. Harn couldn’t know until he read the letter, but that was his business.
 

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"Ah! What a splendid idea. Saddles make lovely gifts for dragon riders, I hear," Mr. Harn replied warmly. He held up a hand and shook his head, chuckling a bit. "But I wouldn't want to take up anyone's space without asking. Especially if they're not prone to sharing. No, I was hoping for an open field. Anywhere with enough space to put two dragons and supplies to make saddles for them."

Noah licked his plate clean and set it aside. ". . . I really think you should read the letter, father. Grandpa Jenkins said - well, I'll tell you after. But it's good news."

"All right, all right," Mr. Harn murmured at last. He sighed heavily and stood up. "You two make yourselves at home. I'll be back." With that, he wandered off to go read the letter.

Noah nodded and turned towards Lily. "You want anything else to eat? Or want a house tour, maybe?"
 

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Lily didn't have the heart to tell Mr. Harn that Jasper wasn’t worried about sharing so much as he hated Upper Floaten with every fiber of his being. She was content enough to work on eating the delicious tart as Noah and his father discussed, and left herself out of the conversation on purpose since it was a family matter and she was really just the messenger. She hoped Jasper would be nice when his new 'family' came to visit.

"I’m okay for now," she said with a smile when Noah asked if she wanted anything else, already shifting over to get back onto her feet, "but a house tour would be great! I’ve never lived in anything this big!" She’d never been inside homes in Upper Floaten at all, either. She really only ever saw the city from above it, or from the few dragon docks where she made mail deliveries.
 

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Noah smiled and tossed his head in a nod. "Right this way, then! Follow me!" He guided Lily carefully through all the rooms in the house. All of them were large, with high ceilings. Most were lined with a variety of pipes, both functional and decorative. Bright light poured in through various windows throughout the home. And there were dragon decorations everywhere, especially ones that looked like Pumpkin.

". . . and that's the fifth guest room!" Noah finished a while later. "So, what do you think? Pretty neat, huh?" He chuckled and shrugged. "The only thing is the place is so damn big. So when it's quiet . . . you really feel it," he added, his voice getting softer.

He glanced briefly down the hallway. "I wonder if I could convince Father to move to Lower Floaten. Then it would be easier to visit each other."
 

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Lily was excited to be able to explore the rest of the house, following eagerly after Noah and 'oo'ing and 'aw'ing at the scale of each new room as it was presented to her. Everything was so big and open! It was so different from any places she had lived in, which were obviously smaller but had also been more crammed with stuff - whatever furniture could fit without making things too crowded, however many people could be reasonably kept in the same bedroom.

"Your house is amazing!" She enthused after the last guest room - Five! Just guest rooms, not even counting Noah's and his father's bedrooms, and each of them basically half the size of her and Jasper's apartment on their own. Her smile went a bit soft when he got quiet, following the implication that he had grown up lonely.

"But . . . isn’t his whole business here?" She asked gently, not wanting to crush Noah's dreams but trying to think of things practically. She gave him a little smile and shook her head. "He'd have a hard time finding customers down below. . . Maybe once you get more used to Chaital, you could get permission to fly her here!" Dragons were allowed since it was a dragon related business, right? She was sure most of the working dragons utilized by Upper Floaten were using Harn saddles, so maybe he had special privileges.

"I know moving away from home is hard . . . but I promise it gets easier, and I’m sure you’ll get to visit all the time." She gave him a smile and slung her arm through his, giving his shoulder a few pats with her free hand. "And you’ve got me and Jasper and Mr. Jenkins to spend your time with, and I’m sure you'll make friends at the Dragonry!" It wasn’t like Noah could never come back, right? If he was second-guessing his choice to move to Lower Floaten, she hoped he would at least visit Chaital often.
 

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The young man's eyes lit up, and he smiled. "Flying Chaital up here is a great idea, Lily! Thank you. I guess I kind of forgot that might be an option." He sighed heavily and sat down on a nearby couch. "See, it's not me I'm worried so much about. I have so many friends and family now. It's my Father . . . once I move down to Lower Floaten, it'll just be him up here. I'm worried he'll get lonely," he explained, running a hand through his hair.

Then he blinked and raised an eyebrow. "Unless - say. Chaital finding me helped her heal a lot. What if we find someone to stay with my father? Someone who could really use a quiet place to stay, with someone who could dote on them?" he added.
 

CanaryCry

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Lily settled onto the couch at Noah's side, listening patiently, nodding sympathetically along. "Every parent has to deal with empty nest syndrome eventually," she said gently, "but I get what you mean. It’s hard not to worry."

When he suggested finding someone to take his place, she couldn’t help a small, quickly stifled laugh. "I-I'm sorry, I don’t mean to laugh, I just can't decide if you’re trying to find him a roommate, a new child, or a girlfriend." It almost sounded like he was trying to find his father a 'sugar baby', and that was the thought which had made her chuckle. "Did you have someone in mind already?"
 

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Noah burst out laughing too, blushing a bit. "Oh! Yeah, good point. I mean . . . I guess literally anybody. Any of those options. They don't have to be a romantic partner, but somebody who will spend time with him would be ideal," he explained. He tapped his chin for a moment. Then his eyes lit up. "Say. You don't know anyone who's homeless in Lower Floaten, do you? Someone that would tolerate living up here?" he asked hopefully.

He knew most of Lower Floaten probably loathed Upper Floaten - and for good reason. But there was bound to be at least one person searching for a home that wouldn't mind moving upstairs to get it.

"Otherwise I could try to find somebody here in Upper Floaten - but it'll be a bit trickier," Noah explained at last.
 

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Lily made an uncertain sort of expression, smiling a bit still but very hesitant. This was strange, uncharted territory they were wandering into. "I'm sure there's someone that would jump at the chance for free housing, if that’s what you’re suggesting, but thats sort of the problem. . . What if your dad doesn’t like them, or they don’t like him? What if they’re only coming for the money? And even if they didn’t mind moving up here, what kind of things would your neighbors say to them? That’s a tough one. . ."

She could think of plenty of people that were homeless, but none that she knew on a personal level. Maybe she could ask Nel, since he was always nice to everyone, or any others she knew of that did any sort of community outreach work. Surely there was someone out there that needed help but was also a trustworthy person. It was just a hard thing to decide about someone, and she didn’t want to pick the wrong person and have everything go wrong.
 

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"Ohhh. I see your point," Noah realized. He clicked his tongue and stared at the floor. "I wonder if there's a way they could meet each other first, just to see if they'd get along. Something with not as large as a commitment, but where Father could get to know them . . ." He grinned and snapped his fingers. "I've got it! Suppose Father hosts a picnic or dinner in Lower Floaten? A free one. He could meet all sorts of people, and if there's someone he really gets along with, he could offer them a room!"

He blinked when he suddenly noticed Pumokin padding through the hallways, chirping softly. "You okay, Pumpkin?"

The dragon squealed and hurried to Lily's side when he found her, gently pawing at her leg to be picked up.
 

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"Oo, picnics are fun!" Lily nodded thoughtfully along, trying to come up with new ideas, and gave a little bounce when she thought of more to add on. "Oh! Oh! If we don't say he's the one throwing it - and we maybe dress him up kinda normal for down there - then maybe he’d make a friend more naturally!"

When Pumpkin came plodding along, she held her hands out immediately and picked him up the second he touched her to ask for it. "Hey, little man," she cooed as she cradled him against her chest with both arms, close enough to her chin to give him a little kiss on the snout. "What happened? Did you get lonely? You can always hang out with us." She hoped he wasn’t sad, being in this house without Noah's mother in it, but it could also have been that he’d just wanted snuggles.
 

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Noah grinned from ear to ear. "Lily, that's a great idea! Why don't we ask him about it once he comes back?" he suggested.

Pumpkin chirped and nestled against Lily. He'd gotten plenty of snuggles from Mr. Harn - but once the man got distracted, Pumokin realized Lily was gone, and he'd hurried off to find her. Now he knew where she was and was perfectly content. He closed his eyes and rumbled.

"Awww. Looks like he wanted some extra pets," Noah said, reaching over to scratch Pumpkin's horns.

A few minutes later, Mr. Harn staggered into the room, wiping his eyes and giving a deep sigh. "Lily," he said gently. He held up the letter. "I cannot thank you enough for delivering this to me. I honestly can't. Do you know what's in this letter?"
 

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It did not escape her that Pumpkin was coming only to her for snuggles, more and more consistently, but Lily was happy to shower him with love. Noah had already said he didn’t mind, and if Pumpkin wanted to spend some time with her some days instead of staying at the Dragonry it would probably be okay. He and Nobu got along, too, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, having another little dragon around. . . She tried not to think about it too much before she could talk to Jasper about it.

When Mr. Harn came to find them, she sat up straighter, eyes a bit wide in surprise but also concern. She hoped if he had been crying it was about good things. "Of course!" She insisted at his thanks, but smiled a little when asked if she knew what the letter contained. "No, sir. After delivering so many, you kinda lose the temptation to look inside." It was mostly a joke. She had wondered what Mr. Jenkins had said, but she was sure it was something along the lines of apologizing for the distance between them, or at least a request to meet together again. She hoped it all went well for them.
 
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Mr. Harn gave a light chuckle. "In as few words as I can manage . . . it was a deepfelt apology, and an invitation to visit Mr. Jenkins and begin anew. I'll be more than happy to accept both. Though I get the feeling you and Noah know him more than I do, so - would he like a letter in return? Or perhaps a message sent through you both?"

Noah got up from the couch and went over to hug his father. "Or maybe you could come accept the letter in person."

The man winced, though clearly not from the hug. "Do you think he'd be all right with that?"

"Father, before I knew who he was, I thought he was going to literally kill me for being from Upper Floaten. If he accepted me after all that, you'll be fine," Noah promised.

". . . Ah. Well, if you're sure - when do you both plan on traveling back to Lower Floaten?" Mr. Harn asked. "I should like to go with you both. We could even have a dragon rider take us down, if you like."
 

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  2. Female
Lily only smiled, as she’d guessed most of the letter's contents, and petted idly at Pumpkin as Noah went to give his dad a hug. "I think it’d be a surprise, but I know he’d like to see you. . . After Noah showed up, and we figured out you guys were all family, a lot of things got ironed out." The reasons Mr. Jenkins had been angry were gone. She was sure he would be happy to have their family together again.

"We came to see you." She added with a shrug and a grin. "It’s been a fun adventure, but we can go whenever you and Noah want to. I don’t mind." If only she had a way to call Infernus to come get her. She was sure the other riders were just fine, she was just used to being the one 'driving'. After a pause, she gave a thoughtful little tilt of her head. "Although I should probably warn you about Jasper. . . He may or may not be there today, if Koatl is ready for the fitting on her new leg."