Winter (Vignette)

Frost limns Rhysanna’s dreams. It spreads, unbidden, through the landscape of her innermost thoughts; it probes with childlike interest, teasing out strands of emotion and memory. Tavehtiath is hungry, and that hunger will soon interrupt this exploratory adventure, but for now she’s enthralled. Those vibrant colors are exciting and new— those feelings, so abruptly real within her. Perhaps she’s not even aware of the way her frostedness leeches away the colors. She belongs here, after all.

It’s been a long day. Tavehtiath can sense how exhausted her new rider is, even lost in dreams. She can feel the pink of embarrassment and the darker remnants of shame; in her rider’s mind, she’s found that passing encounter with Niarhys, and puzzles, now, over the complexity of the emotions it has left behind. It makes no sense, to Tavehtiath, that Rhysanna should feel so torn, so uncomfortable. How peculiar.

She hates to wake her, but that pain inside her is growing stronger, and the sensation bothers her. Should she be feeling this way? Is it normal? She knows, even now, her place in the Weyr: perhaps she should be above such things.

« Rhysanna? »

It’s a tentative question, like that of a child not sure if she ought to wake her sleeping parent. Perhaps it simply isn’t done to wake a person, even one’s very own person. Besides, Rhysanna has just buried her head more deeply into the pillows, and the sound she’s made is not ladylike at all - would that be called a grunt, Tavehtiath wonders. Or something else?

« Please, Rhysanna. I’m hungry. »

Still lost in her dreams, Rhysanna finds herself shivering. It doesn’t make sense that she should, though, even in her still-sleeping mind. This is Western, and she knows she fell asleep against the warm length of her dragon. She’s sure of it, though: there’s ice creeping through her thoughts, and finally, finally, it’s enough to wake her with a start.

« Rhysanna? »

Tavehtiath! Rhysa lifts her head, wiping the encrustations of sleep away from her eyes. The darkness suggests it’s very late, but she can see her dragon’s eyes, whirling in front of her. “Tavehtiath? Are you… you’re hungry. I’m so sorry. Come on.”

Later, after the feeding and the inevitabilities that follow, Tavehtiath leads the way to her couch, curling up upon the fresh rushes. Rhysanna slides in next to her, fighting back a return to sleep.

« You’re afraid. »

Rhysanna is surprised, caught out of her weariness by this abrupt insight from the young dragon. “No, I’m… I’m overwhelmed, that’s all.”

« You were born for this. For me. Why should you be overwhelmed? »

“Because I… I don’t know. I didn’t think I was. I thought it was just Mother’s deluded ideas, and that I’d… Impress a green and that would be the end of that.”

Tavehtiath’s disapproval for the very idea of this green sends a shiver down Rhysanna’s spine: she presses her hand flat upon the gold’s hide, and promises, quietly, “I don’t want a green. I thought I did, but I know… I only want you.”

There’s something radiant about Tavehtiath’s approval; it’s still cold, and yet Rhysanna can’t help herself: she warms herself in front of it.

« This is who we are, Rhysanna. I am a queen. You are a queen’s rider. Our duty is to the Weyr; to Western. We must be… we will be everything that is required of us. You’ll see. This is who we are. »

It sends a shiver down Rhysa’s spine, and this time, she’s not so sure it comes directly from Tavehtiath.

« Tomorrow, you’ll have to show me everything. Sleep, Rhysanna. Sleep. »

Rhysanna dreams in snowflakes and fractals, color muted (enhanced?) into blinding white.

Winter has never felt so right.


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