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Old Jul 12 2008, 07:42 PM   #1
D. M. Domini
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Chicagoland
Gender: F
Fan of: Afra Lyon, and Robinton!
Now Reading: Sabriel by Garth Nix
Post The Perfect-Matched

The Perfect-Matched

By D. M. Domini

Author's Notes: As always, the world of Pern and the characters inhabiting it do not belong to me. They belong to the lovely and talented (and possibly Talented if rumors are true) Anne McCaffrey. I am merely playing with my impossibly cool Pern Action Figures! I also have a few paper dolls of my own included in the mix.

This--embarrassingly enough--is actually a sequel to The Skyboom. Despite not having entirely completed The Skyboom. So. No need to read that first; I intend to remap the writing (although not the events portrayed so far).

Synopsis: Quick and dirty synopsis would be - I had the urge to try to write a fic about the Talented and Beautiful Daughter of Robinton and Menolly who Impresses a Queen Dragon. Please let me know if I succeeded in writing a good story despite the cracktastic and Sue-tastic premise.

* * * *

The Perfect-Matched

Chapter One

Brekke

I don't know how I didn't catch it. Except, of course, because I hear all dragons, not all humans. But still, I did hear her--I just didn't realize it was her until it was too late. The diffuse worry, the fear, and longing for a hovering, protective parent--I felt all of those from the eggs quivering and rocking on the hatching ground, and truth be told, when the queen emerged from her egg, nobody was paying attention to anything else, not even me. Certainly not to the little brunette-haired waif trundling up behind the Weyr staff who gathered at the entrance of the hatching grounds trying to catch a glimpse of the proceedings before having to hurry back to the spits and tables before the Hatching ended.

The queen shattered her egg, short, wet tail flicking sand and shell shards into the knees and chests of the gathered candidates. The young women lurched out of her way, far enough to be out of the reach of sharp claws, close enough that if it was one of them, one of them who had finally found their life's partner in this savage little queen, they wouldn't be more than a few strides away.

The queen didn't want them. She screamed, a frustrated, lonely wail that brought an echoing half-roar from Ramoth, and made a beeline towards the gathered cooking staff at the entrance to the Hatching Grounds. Boys and youths, knowing she was not for them, got out of the way, and half the cooking staff, seeing which way the queen was headed, scurried to move too. Queen candidates uncertainly trailed behind her as she darted forward. One young cook, a badge on his shoulder proclaiming him to be a Chef, took quick steps backwards away from the oncoming queen--and staggered and tripped over the her, the little girl that shouldn't be here at the Hatching, the little girl that should knocked out dead asleep from a heavy dose of felis juice, and they both went down in a tangle of limbs, the man desperately trying not to crush the little girl beneath him. It was futile; the little girl landed on the stump of her bandaged left wrist and screamed in pain and terror.

The newly hatched queen dragon went berserk, and I felt a stab of pain in my mind from her roar, a flashback to--to--oh, Wirenth--and I hid my face, trying not to let the clamor below and memories fell me like a sapling. I'd promised Menolly--

A strong hand clamped down on my shoulder and I opened my eyes to see F'nor giving me an anxious look, instincts warring visibly within him. My hand still clutching my brow, I gave a quick jerk of my head. Help the girl, help the poor cook that was being savaged by the pain-frenzied queen--

F'nor took off, charging down the stands and leaping onto the Hatching grounds the quick way, one of several dragonriders doing the same. I swallowed and tried to close my mind, best I could, and took off towards the stairs myself, shouldering people aside rudely when they didn't realize that I was trying to move by them, and couldn't hear my words over the din. The poor cook--he would need someone to tend his wounds.

I'd promised Menolly...a horribly guilty little thought wormed through my mind as I moved.

I didn't see what happened next, as I hadn't seen the moment of Impression between child and dragon, but somehow I reached the cupboard with medical supplies at the end of the stairs, and fumbled the lock open, and quickly took what I needed, bundling it up in my skirt in lieu of a basket. Some kind man--I didn't recognize him by sight, his rank knots proclaimed him to be some visiting Harper--took up the duty of clearing my way, getting people to move for them when they had been oblivious to me, and when we arrived at the scene, we found the entrance of the Hatching grounds had been vacated, occupied now only by the girl and her fiercely hissing queen, the cook bleeding some length away onto cooler shadowed sands, F'nor, F'lar, and a couple of various other quick-thinking wingleaders. None of whom approached the angry little queen and the little girl clinging to her, sobbing hysterically.

I could see the bandages on the girl's stump had darkened with fresh blood, but the man before me was in worse condition, so I set about doing what I could to staunch the bleeding. F'nor knelt behind me and did what I told him to do, holding a wound closed here, slathering numbweed generously there, until the cook, delirious with relief now instead of pain, thanked him profusely and offered to have his babies.

"I don't think that's possible, but I appreciate the offer, Groden," F'nor said soothingly, with a slight chuckle. As for me, I went to work with a needle and thread, and was understanding of why I was not the one getting the bizarre proposition.

Before long, more Healers arrived, and I handed my work over to them. They understood. The queen and girl had to be calmed down, and Lessa, in contact with all dragons even as I was, had chosen to stay and soothe Ramoth while the rest of the eggs hatched, knowing that I was headed this way, and that I was generally better with children.

I actually didn't know if it were possible to calm the two--I couldn't decide if this was the best of times or worst of times for Menolly's young daughter to have Impressed...even barring the fact that the girl only had five Turns.

"Merelly," I said to them, rising. I had bandages and a cloth, and a small pot of numbweed. The queen craned her neck around, eyes whirling fire-red, and hissed again. "What's your name?" I asked her, verbally, and on that other level I used when speaking to dragons.

We stared at each other in silence for so long that I started to think the queen would not deign to answer me. But then she did--perhaps prompted to Merelly's nascent knowledge that an adult should be answered, or perhaps by Ramoth, who I saw was standing up on the Hatching Grounds, looking our way even as she loomed over the rest of the candidates, dragonettes, and eggs, assuring nothing else went awry.

I am Wrath, the little queen told me. Curiously, her voice was not an echo of the sweet treble Menolly's daughter possessed; it was alto, mature, almost a curious, deeper echo of Menolly, if Menolly had lost her self control and was letting a few notes of pure rage seep through gritted teeth.

I almost felt as if I was facing the woman herself, trying to explain how her wounded, exhausted, hysterical daughter had awoken from a felis-laced sleep just in time to Impress a queen named Wrath of all things, at the unforsaken age of five. I tried to explain to myself that my horror, my shock was not due to someone else yet again Impressing a queen (surely I had put aside such petty, small emotions by now), but due to the complications it would bring to poor Merelly. Nobody impressed at the age of five, not even the boyos who generally stood as candidates up to eight Turns or so younger than the queen candidates. A part of my mind wondered what would happen when Wrath matured in two or three Turns, with Merelly only seven or eight, and just fell over, blank, at the idea.

Well, we would get over that mountain later. I pushed my thoughts aside, and addressed the pair. "Merelly, Wrath; I have some numbweed. Will you let me near?"

What is numbweed? I heard the queen ask her newly Impressed rider.

It makes the pain go away, Merelly replied, and I heard that as well. Not surprising, for a newly Impressed pair; eventually I would only be able to hear the dragon.

Will it help my stomach? the queen asked hopefully. The streak of rage was less pronounced in her mind tone, replaced instead with wistfulness.

No, the girl said. It will help my hand. "I'm hungry," she told me.

It was possible Merelly was hungry; she had only eaten a little before we'd dosed her with felis. But it was more likely she was projecting her dragon. "We have food for you and Wrath. But I was hoping to change the bandages on your...wrist, first. And apply some numbweed. It will not take long, love. Will Wrath let me near?" I asked again.

"Yes," Merelly said. I heard the dragon say nothing.

Still, I approached cautiously; Wrath's eyes continued to whirl wildly, shifting from color to color like a spill of oil on water. They let me near, though, and Merelly unwrapped her arms from her dragon's golden neck, and let me undo the bandages on her left one, revealing the raw, bloody wound where her left hand had once been. Menolly had not told me what happened to the child, and I hadn't dared asked little Merelly, who had been on the edge of a breakdown when F'lon and Menolly on Simanith had popped out of between into the skies of Benden Weyr early this morning.

I was as gentle as I knew how to be, and quick to apply the numbweed, and I saw lines in the child's face that shouldn't be there on one so young ease, and the dragon's eyes started to slow down and stabilize in color. I checked the stitches holding the skin closed over the stump of her wrist, to make sure they had not ripped open, and, satisfied they weren't, bandaged her up again, while they both watched. Done, I smiled at them, trying to leech the rest of the sour emotions that had pervaded the atmosphere away. "Congratulations," I told Merelly. "You're a dragonrider!"

F'nor echoed me, as did a few of the other on-looking riders. I glanced up at them, and saw that F'lar was frowning, a line between his brows, but he also congratulated the young queen rider, shot his brother F'nor an unfathomable look, and turned heel, presumably to go speak with his Weyrwoman Lessa, who had stayed with Ramoth.

Merelly looked as if she didn't know what to say, and shyly hid her face in her dragon's neck. This unsettled me, as it was normally the other way around at a Hatching, the young dragons taking comfort in their riders. But I supposed if I were in a frightening new Weyr without my parents around and I had only five Turns, I would have turned to my dragon too as a source of comfort and love.

I missed Wirenth deeply again with that thought, and sighed.

Crisis stabilized, if not averted, I went to check on the cook again, and found that he was asleep, having been dosed with felis himself. A bronzerider and a brownrider were readying to load him onto a pallet so they could transport him somewhere safe to rest. The Harper that had forged a path for me earlier on the stairs gently touched my shoulder, and we both watched as Merelly and Wrath, along with a couple of other newly formed dragonrider pairs who had been waiting for them to clear the hatching ground entrance, walked off towards the Weyrbowl and food. "What's her name?" he asked me.

"The girl or the dragon?" I asked.

"The girl," he said.

"Merelly."

"Merrily and Wrath," he said. "Now there's a pair for a ballad! The names alone..."

"Don't go stepping on any toes, now," I warned him. "Merelly's mother is Menolly."

"Oh?" he asked. "I wouldn't have guessed. I suppose the name..." and he trailed off for a moment. "But her eyes remind me of someone else entirely. Not Menolly. I can't put my finger on it, though..."

Merelly's eyes seemed blue to me just like Menolly's, so I wasn't any help. "What's your name?" I asked. "I don't believe we've met."

The Harper grinned. "My birth name is Cordell, but everyone calls me Spinner," he said. "I used to ice skate," he said by way of explanation.

"Ice skate?" I asked. "What does that entail?"

"You find a pond that's frozen over, and strap special blades to your boots. Then you sort of skate over the surface, like you're dancing. You can spin really, really fast--it's a lot of fun!"

"That sounds dangerous," I said.

"Sometimes it's that too, more often due to the lake not being frozen through, though, than the blades." He shrugged. "Merry merrily Merelly, and Wrath. There really is a song somewhere in that."

I had to concur, and I knew nothing about songwriting. "It does have a certain ring to it, although for both their sakes, I hope nothing more ever happens to them that's ballad-worthy." I thought of Merelly's missing hand. "However, I'd like to thank you for your help earlier, Journeyman Spinner," I said. He wore a Journeyman rank knot on his shoulder.

"Not at all," he said. "Everybody knows you're talented at Healing; I can't believe the oafs weren't letting you through. Too busy rubbernecking at that poor guy being mauled to actually do anything about it, or even get out of the way so someone with the ability can do something about it."

"Well, it's not wise to get too close to a dragon who thinks her rider is in danger," I said. "Even a small dragon."

"You're too kind to them," Spinner said. "Anyhow--do you wish to watch the rest of the Hatching? I'm sure we could bull our way back into the stands," and he offered his arm to me, like a gentleman.

I looked at him, and wondered if he was one of Sebell's "special" Harpers, the ones F'nor and F'lar muttered about outside of Lessa's hearing. Sometimes I wondered why Sebell had need of such people, when Robinton hadn't--after all, if you were speaking to Sebell or Menolly or Piemur, you had known they had been The Harper's eyes and ears, and there'd been no secrecy about it...but I supposed it didn't matter. And the Harper here had been a help. "I'm going to head towards the Weyrbowl, actually," I said.

"Oh good," Spinner said, and offered his arm again. "My stomach is in the process of consuming itself in the absence of food."

I eyed him once more, in case he had any false ideas about my nature, but I only saw boyish good intentions and a friendly personality, so I shrugged, and let him escort us away from the Hatching Grounds where the last, straggling eggs rocked, and the last Candidates hoped and dreamed they would Impress.
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