Disclaimer: The characters are not mine — I just borrowed them for a while to make them do what I wanted them to do for a change. I will now return them - in their original packaging - to Renaissance Pictures. Neither do I claim any credit for research into space travel or starship design. There is no violence, no sex, no swearing or anything like that.

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For Lindsey


"… And that one — that one’s a bear."

"A bear? Looks more like a frying pan to me."

"What?! How do you get that? It’s a bear! Look — that’s its paw, its eye…"

"No, no — you’re wrong. That’s the handle, and that bit is where it joins on to the rest of the pan."

"No it’s not — look — can’t you see it? That little shiny one is his nose…"

"His nose?"

"Well, yes. The she-bear has more sense than to come out on a night as cold as this — she stays at home to look after their little bear cubs. They’re all tucked up, nice and safe and snug and warm."

The bard showed her understanding of bear behaviour by burrowing further under the thick woollen blanket that she shared with the warrior, who shifted dutifully until they were both comfortable again.

The warrior smiled indulgently at the cheerful young woman whose head lay on her shoulder. Shining green eyes looked back at her until both women laughed, the musical sound rising on the light wind with the sparks from the fire. Following the tiny, dancing, glowing lights, their eyes reached the skies once again, and the argument over the stories portrayed in the glittering stars was in danger of resurfacing.

The warrior was trying to gauge the reaction she’d get if she mentioned that one particular cluster resembled the scar on her horse’s hind leg when the bard drew in a breath. She held it, ponderingly.

The warrior waited.

"Do you think that there could be captains that sail their ships through the stars?"

The warrior, although slightly thrown by the absurdity of the question, knew that the best way to deal with her bard’s imagination was to take her seriously. And never, ever laugh.

The bard turned her attention back to the warrior’s handsomely beautiful features for a moment, holding her gaze calmly. A light danced behind eyes of searing blue, but the warrior replied without the threatening laughter.

"A ship? In the sky? How would it stay up there?"

"Oh, I don’t know. But if sailors on the sea navigate by the stars then why shouldn’t it work up there too? It’s like a map that you can sail around for real."

"The heavens are a pretty big place, sweetheart. How would the ship choose a route — where would they go? And if they got lost…"

The warrior was aware that she must sound patronizing but her friend had completely baffled her. Who knew what she would dream up next? Her partner’s change in tone caught her attention suddenly.

"Oh, no, that would be awful — to be up there alone, separated from your family, your love, for so long…" The bard shivered and felt strong arms pulling her closer.

The warrior was intrigued now. The bard had really thought about this one…

"Well — if there are ‘star ships’ up there, then why can’t we see them?"

The bard indignantly poked her friend — and temporary pillow — under the blankets, for the remark she took as cynical.

"Maybe you’re just not looking in the right place," she chastised. "They must go at quite a speed to visit all the stars, so maybe by the time you look at one star, they’ll already have gone on to the next one. And maybe they’re going fast so that they get home quicker."

"You mean they’re there one heartbeat and gone the next?"

"Well, I suppose so…"

"Sort of like that shooting star?"

With one arm around the bard, the warrior pointed up to the skies where a softly shining light was moving across the velvet darkness. The friends were silent for several breaths, enjoying the mystical feel of the moment, and the warmth and comfort of the night.

The light paused for a heartbeat then vanished. A sudden silver glow was the only sign that it had ever touched the sky, but the mark it had left on two hearts would shine forever.

No more words were spoken. The bard settled her head in the crook of her warrior’s arm and closed her eyes. She slept almost immediately, knowing that she was protected and loved.

The warrior watched fondly as her friend drifted further into Morpheus’ domain. The light from the glowing fire caught the dusky red streaks in the bard’s golden hair, entangled in her own tresses that were as black as the night that held them. She smiled to herself then rested her cheek on the fair head and joined her friend in sleep, under the watch of a hundred thousand lights.

The End

(sweet dreams)

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