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Old Apr 6 2009, 12:08 AM   #1
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Default Once, and Nevermore (Pern, Sixth Pass)

Once, and Nevermore

Rating: teen
Summary: Set after the events in "Moreta." On a particular day in autumn, B'lerion finds he's needed at Fort.


"A fine autumn morning," Headwoman Nattal commented as B'lerion entered the Lower Caverns. "Crisp."

"And not a cloud in the sky," the bronze rider replied with a grin. "Though there's a fine mist on the lake. Nabeth insisted on a swim earlier. Got me half-soaked." He raked his fingers through his still-damp hair.

I did not get you that wet, Nabeth protested.

You've no sense of drama, dear friend.

I can sense drama.


"I've just brewed a pot of klah," Nattal was saying.

"I'll have a cup." B'lerion seated himself at an unoccupied table.

"No Fall today," Nattal remarked as she poured. "However will you occupy yourself?"

"Haven't decided."

She turned, cup of steaming klah in her hands. Their eyes met, and each knew the other's thought: It's the perfect day for a Gather. There would be none, though. Not this Turn, and probably not the next Turn, either. It would, B'lerion thought grimly, be a good long while before the fear of pestilence that still gripped Pern began to dissipate. Despite the fact that Master Capiam's vaccine had worked thus far; in the months since its distribution, there had been no further outbreaks.

B'lerion took the cup from Nattal and was in the process of bringing it to his lips when Nabeth bellowed. Hot klah splashed the table and the stone floor, missing the toes of B'lerion's boots by mere fingerlengths.

Did you sense some drama? he inquired dryly, setting his cup down while Nattal looked for a rag.

Hannath calls! We must go to Fort Weyr!

"Fort?" B'lerion was on his feet instantly, his heart hammering against his ribs. Hannath was far too young to be rising; besides, were she in heat, she would not think to summon Nabeth. Is Oklina hurt? Ill?

She is well, but she needs us. Hannath does not understand. She— Hannath --is very young.

There was such fond indulgence in Nabeth's tone that B'lerion's fear was somewhat allayed. Nonetheless, he made a quick apology to Nattal and hurried out of the Lower Caverns. He closed his thick wherhide jacket as he ran, and took the stairs to his weyr two at a time. Nabeth was waiting on the ledge, eyes whirling yellow. B'lerion paused only a moment to catch his breath. Then he grabbed his helmet and goggles, Nabeth's riding straps, and his gloves.

"Nabeth?"

I am ready. I have told Hannath that we are coming. He extended a forearm for B'lerion.

"Take us to Fort Weyr!"

They were only between for three heartbeats, but that was enough time to freeze the sweat filming B'lerion's brow. They emerged high above the Rim, and Nabeth bugled a greeting to the watchrider and his green dragon.

They don't seem alarmed, B'lerion observed, relieved. Oklina, he knew, was well liked at Fort; were her distress keen, the other riders would know.

They do not understand. She is waiting for us. I go to meet her.

B'lerion's stomach lurched as Nabeth descended. Glancing over the dragon's gleaming bronze neck, he glimpsed a tiny figure emerging from one of the many holes in the cliffside. From that distance, Oklina did not appear to be in any distress, but B'lerion was not satisfied until he'd dismounted, taken the girl in his arms, and pulled her close. She sighed against him.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean for Hannath to pull you and Nabeth away from whatever you were doing."

B'lerion stroked her slender shoulders, noting the tension in them. "There, now. All you cost me was a cup of klah. I'll prevail on Nesso before I go – unless…"

She raised her head, flashed him a brief, sweet smile. "You can prevail on me."

Barely seventeen and holdbred besides, she knew exactly what she was doing when she looked at him like that. B'lerion clasped her face between his hands and kissed her brow while Nabeth rumbled approval.

This is good! You will fix what's wrong. I will sun myself.

"Oh, be gone, you."

"Hmm?" said Oklina.

"Nabeth. Off to bake himself. I think he feels shy around Hannath."

I do not.

B'lerion laughed outright at the dragon's indignation – manifest in his tone as well as the flick of his tail – as he took himself from the ledge. B'lerion watched the bronze, his hide dazzling in the autumn sunlight, as he glided across the Bowl. Then he returned his attention to Oklina. "All right. Apparently, I'm here to fix what's wrong. What is wrong? Is someone making you unhappy? Old Sh'gall giving you a hard time? Nesso?"

"Oh, no. No, it's nothing like that." She shook her head. "It's not something you can fix. I'm just glad you're here today. I'm having trouble explaining it to Hannath. She doesn't understand about going between times, and, of course, she has no memory of…of…" She bit her lower lip, and her lashes swept downward to shadow her cheeks.

B'lerion studied her, not comprehending. From within the weyr, Hannath crooned soothingly.

"Your young queen isn't the only one who's confused."

"Oh, B'lerion. Don't you know what day it is?" Without pausing for his response, she went on in a low, solemn tone, "Today…we're at Ista, gathering needlethorn. You, me, Alessan, Capiam, Desdra, and…Moreta. Today…Moreta's alive. Just for today. She's at Ista, and I want so badly to—"

He kissed her mouth to stop the flow of words. He kissed her again because he loved her, wanted her, and was determined to have her – when she was ready to be had. Which could be soon, he thought, if her clumsy yet ardent response were any indication. B'lerion knew they ought to wait for Hannath to mature a little more, but he had no desire to wait until her first mating flight. When he made love to Oklina for the first time, he wanted the two of them to be wholly themselves, not overwhelmed by draconic passion. He wanted to take things slowly, to make certain that she enjoyed herself and—

No, he admonished himself. No, don't think about that now. Ista! And Moreta. How could he have forgotten? How had Oklina learned the exact date? Had she simply sensed…? No, she must have looked to the east and realized she'd seen the Red Star at that angle before. Moreta, alive again for one day! But without Orlith. It was with shame that recalled his flippant dismissal of Moreta's disorientation when they'd landed on that Istan ridge. Of course she'd been disoriented; for the first time in twenty years, she'd been in a world without her dragon. He reached out to Nabeth, who had found a warm, sunny spot on the other side of the Bowl, near Clioth and Pelianth.

You cannot go to Ista, the dragon told him drowsily. You cannot be twice in the same place and time. You cannot see her.

"We can't go," B'lerion murmured against Oklina's lips. "It's too dangerous."

"I know," she said. "It's just…hard. Knowing she's there. And that I can't go and thank her. For what she did for Pern. For my Hannath. And I can't help wondering if my brother knows. If he doesn't, I don't want to make him think about it. It would make him so sad. And he should be happy, especially now that Nerilka is pregnant. But if he does know…"

"Shh." He stroked her cheeks with the pads of his thumbs.

"He loved Moreta, you know."

"I'd…figured that out," he said, remembering Alessan's collapse when news of Moreta's death reached Ruatha. He tried to suppress the memory. Oklina helped by looking up at him with those big, dark eyes of hers. Nabeth sent loving, supportive thoughts.

I can't fix this, B'lerion told his dragon.

Yes, you can. Nabeth seemed unimpressed with his rider's pessimism. There was a long pause. Then he added, I have tried to explain it to Hannath. She is calmer now, but she does not understand why there are three Oklinas today. She is very young.

Three…? Then he remembered that he'd taken her to Nerat as well. On the same day, because it had simply been easier to feed Nabeth the same coordinates they'd used for the Ista trip. Shards, no wonder she was distraught. Strange that it should affect her more strongly than it did him. He'd awoken with a dull headache, which he'd ascribed to bad wine the night before. As he contemplated three B'lerions – one at Fort, one at Nerat, and one at Ista – his temples began to throb anew. He winced.

"What is it?" Oklina asked anxiously.

"Nothing," he tried to assure her. "I suspect Desdra's feeling a bit disoriented as well, wherever she is. There are too many of us today. I hadn't thought about it until you mentioned Ista."

"Oh!"

Her immediate contrition smote him. She hadn't changed that much since they'd brought her to Fort.

"Oklina, it's all right. See? I'm perfectly hale and whole. As are you. The trick is not to think about it."

"It's hard not to think about it," Oklina said, "when one of me is at Ista with Moreta."

"Shells." Clasping her to him once more, he sank to his knees on the weyr's sun splashed ledge. "All right, then. If you insist on spending such a fine day thinking about sad things, then I insist on spending it with you. Besides, I don't think I could budge Nabeth if I wanted to. Which I don't," he added, looking down into her serious dark eyes. "I'll have you smiling again before I go, see if I don't. I'll have you laughing."

It's what Moreta would want, he thought, on a day without Thread.

Yes. Nabeth sounded a breath away from sleep.

Oklina's lips twitched as if she were trying not to smile. The longer and more somberly B'lerion stared at her, the harder she had to struggle. Finally, when it seemed she'd just about mastered her expression, he made a face and she burst out laughing.

"Too easy," B'lerion muttered with mock severity, which fell away as Oklina raised her mouth to his and Hannath trilled with delight.

4/4/09
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Old Apr 6 2009, 09:21 PM   #2
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Brilliant.
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Old Apr 6 2009, 10:43 PM   #3
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Old Apr 7 2009, 08:54 AM   #4
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This was a really nice vignette! It seemed true to the characters, and it was nice to get a glimpse into their post-plague lives.
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Old Apr 7 2009, 10:26 AM   #5
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Yes I have to agree with the others here...You stayed perfectly to what we already know of these characters and added wonderfully to Anne's original story. This was indeed a very lovely short story. Thank you for a very pleasant and surprising read.
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Old Apr 7 2009, 04:58 PM   #6
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Thanks so much, guys! I hadn't planned on writing this, but I recently reread "Moreta" and it occurred to me - for the first time - that because of the Ista trip, Moreta actually got another day. I thought about putting Alessan in the story, but decided that I didn't want to torture him. B'lerion's much more fun to write about, anyway. He's so cute. (Lucky Oklina!)

I'm so glad that you enjoyed this!

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Old Apr 8 2009, 03:16 AM   #7
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This is very heartfelt. I've felt that kind of longing, a bone-deep need to see someone I love again, and thus I can relate to Oklina and B'lerion. I'm also very pleased by the grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Well done, Thistlerose.
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Old Apr 8 2009, 12:34 PM   #8
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This is very good. It feels very true to the original characters.

It is also very well-written, but there was one minor grammatical error that jumped out at me. (Correction in red.)
Quote:
B'lerion knew they ought to wait for Hannath to mature a little more, but he had no desire to wait until her first mating flight. When he had made love to Oklina for the first time, he had wanted the two of them to be wholly themselves, not overwhelmed by draconic passion.
This particular instance really needs the time references to be clear.
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Old Apr 8 2009, 01:59 PM   #9
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Uh...I disagree. The "had" would imply the event has already occured, which it patently has not (though there's an argument to made it already did when they were at Ista for the needlethorn. It's implied, certainly, with Alessan's "If he thinks he's fooling me" and Moreta reassuring him B'lerion's not a bad guy.) Leave out the "had", because he's thinking about when it WILL happen, and the had would say that it already did.
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Old Apr 8 2009, 07:01 PM   #10
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Well written, After the 'sad events' in the books.
Unless Alessan reacted like he did in Nerilka's Story he has the empathy both for dragons and runners, Capiam, Desdra are not dragon linked. So they would just recall that trip, with both sad and happy memories.
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Old Apr 8 2009, 07:24 PM   #11
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It is also very well-written, but there was one minor grammatical error that jumped out at me.
This particular instance really needs the time references to be clear.
Thanks, guys! I really do appreciate it!

Brenda, you're misreading the line. B'lerion is thinking about the future; he and Oklina have not had sex yet, at least not in my vision of events. (I interpret their actions on Ista as canoodling sans intercourse because she's so young, her older brother is close by, and B'lerion has SOME restraint. *g*)

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Old Apr 8 2009, 09:18 PM   #12
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This is very nice. I find I look forward to reading your stories.
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Old Apr 10 2009, 02:08 AM   #13
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Oh, I assumed they made love that day in the jungle when the other two couples were doing the same.
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Old Apr 10 2009, 04:44 PM   #14
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You've inspired me to reread Moreta.

And you know, I now have to wonder, I always assumed all six were really...uh, enjoying their vacation but now I wonder. Oklina's only sixteen and her big brother (who has had basically the worst week of his entire life recently and now has only her as family) is RIGHT THERE, meaning I'm not sure how twice-her-age B'lerion would really feel about that. As for Capiam and Desdra, I really think it all depends on whether or not Desdra thinks he's sufficiently recovered! Masterhealer or no I don't think there's any question who wears the pants in that relationship.
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Old Apr 10 2009, 06:30 PM   #15
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You've inspired me to reread Moreta.

And you know, I now have to wonder, I always assumed all six were really...uh, enjoying their vacation but now I wonder. Oklina's only sixteen and her big brother (who has had basically the worst week of his entire life recently and now has only her as family) is RIGHT THERE, meaning I'm not sure how twice-her-age B'lerion would really feel about that.
Don't forget B'lerion also has a dislocated shoulder. I'm sure he can manage, BUT...given his injury, given her youth, given her big brother's proximity, I always imagined him exercising some restraint. That's how I interpreted Moreta's line to Alessan; B'lerion can be trusted not to rush Oklina. (Though Oklina might rush B'lerion. I would. He's adorable.) I'm sure SOMETHING happened. Just not...everything.

Capiam and Desdra, now... Hmmm.
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Old Apr 10 2009, 06:31 PM   #16
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I'm with you Anareth...this short story also has me wanting to re-read Moreta.

I also had asumed without much thought, that all the couples that were present that day, were...erm...enjoying some private personal time together...but your comments have me wondering now.
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Old Apr 10 2009, 08:07 PM   #17
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I'm actually surprised as how developed the relationship between Capiam and Desdra is from the start. I don't think there's any question that Desdra remaining at the Healer Hall means EXACTLY what Nerilka hopes it means by the end, even without Anne spelling it out for us in "People of Pern" (once she attains her Master's rank Desdra stays to marry Capiam instead of returning to her home.) But I was surprised how "established" they seem from the first segment that's Capiam's POV--not even a condescending 'waiting for her to grow up' sense (in the sense that regardless of her age, she's a journeyman, he's the Masterhealer, wouldn't be quite on until she's equal rank), just 'couple in every sense except having already slept together.' Down to his avoiding looking at her while Tirone's having his drama-queen fit over the runner vaccinations and revaccination issue because they'd laugh. I had really forgotten how charming those characters were.

Though--I can definitely see there being an issue of Desdra not wanting him to stress himself, with Capiam making the counter-argument that if the plague's taught them anything it's to seize the day. Crap, that's a plot bunny, isn't it. I may have to write that "missing scene."

I had also forgotten B'lerion's broken arm. So maybe some cannoodling went on but they had to take it easy.
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Old Apr 10 2009, 10:26 PM   #18
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Though--I can definitely see there being an issue of Desdra not wanting him to stress himself, with Capiam making the counter-argument that if the plague's taught them anything it's to seize the day. Crap, that's a plot bunny, isn't it. I may have to write that "missing scene."
You should definitely write it!

I recently reread DF, DQ, and Moreta, and I was really struck by the way Anne's portrayal of the women changed from the 60s/70s to the early 80s. Desdra, Moreta, the other Weyrwomen, Leri, even Oklina are strong, sexual people. Some may be more so than others, but you don't see that virgin/whore dichotomy that pops up in DF and DQ. I realize customs probably shifted between the Sixth and Ninth Passes, but it's one of the reasons MO is my favorite of the Pern books.

I don't think I properly appreciated the Desdra/Capiam relationship when I first read the series in my early teens - probably because it was so subtly established. It wasn't as exciting as Moreta/Alessan or sweet as B'lerion/Oklina. Now I really like it, and I appreciate Anne's construction of it.

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Old Apr 11 2009, 12:11 PM   #19
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I guess what I have in mind is that "making love" need not include actually having sex; so B'lerion would have been making love that day, but had been waiting to go all the way. In the short story it reads oddly to me, as though nothing at all had happened that day, when something did, even if not everything.
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Old Apr 11 2009, 05:59 PM   #20
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To me, use of the "making love" euphemism really just means sex, unless the writer's using deliberately archaic English. In the modern idiom I don't think it ever really refers to the old meaning, which included just fancy words, never mind making out. (It's not a euphemism I use in general anyway, as it sounds a bit soppy to me.) In this context, I can't quite see what else to say--definitely it's sexual intercourse B'lerion's thinking of, but he wouldn't say it like that, and there aren't many other ways of putting it.

And crap, I totally have to write that Capiam/Desdra fic now. And I know I'm not going to stop with just the trip to Ista. Well, there goes my day off tomorrow!
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Old Apr 11 2009, 06:32 PM   #21
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And crap, I totally have to write that Capiam/Desdra fic now. And I know I'm not going to stop with just the trip to Ista. Well, there goes my day off tomorrow!
Sweet! I'm looking forward to that story.

I use the phrase "making love" to mean sex because that's the phrase Anne uses. It's a phrase I don't generally use because it IS kind of sentimental - but nothing I came up with sounded quite...Pernish. It makes writing characters like Kylara a bit tricky because I want her to sound like a McCaffrey character, but I also want her to sound like the worldly person she is.
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Old Apr 12 2009, 04:24 AM   #22
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In my opinion, making love is an act shared by people who love each other. Sex usually has looser connotations, and is normally sought just for physical gratification; ie, anyone can have sex with anyone. So your phrasing actually makes sense, Thistlerose. ^n_n^ Don't worry about it too much; you could also use phrases like "joining" (as coined in "ElfQuest") or "sharing bodies".
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Old Apr 12 2009, 10:35 AM   #23
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Honestly, in my own works, I've either avoided euphemisms completely and just made it obvious what they're doing, or I've used the f-word (actually with the Roman character that's the really the best translation of the word he'd use for the general act.) But that really doesn't work for Pern (I'm sure they HAVE a coarse euphemism as there isn't a single human culture yet that doesn't) as that's just not how Anne writes as she's a proper lady.
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Old Apr 18 2009, 11:54 PM   #24
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Very nice, good job.
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