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"So why haven't you been at the Weyr?" Sallyn asked.  They were sitting on the sun-dappled beach of a small deserted island off the High Reaches Coast while their dragons churned up waves in the sea beyond.  "Whenever I ask after you, I'm always told you're off somewhere and no one ever knows just where."

H'lania shifted uncomfortably and looked down, feeling silly now for being so worried.  "I didn't want to intrude.  I hated seeing all those men around you all the time, but I also felt you deserved a good one.  I never realized…" she looked back up into Sallyn's lovely eyes.  "I didn't even dare hope it was me you'd want."

Sallyn took both of H'lania's hands in hers.  "Understand that I hated being married.  My husband was kind but I wanted nothing to do with it even when…" and she looked away, a tear trickled down her face.  "Oh," she sighed.  "I should have told you sooner; please don't despise me."  She met H'lania's questioning gaze.  "I thought I'd even hate the son I bore him."  

"You've had a child?" H'lania whispered, not at all angry.  She felt great sympathy for Sallyn; they were close in age so the girl couldn't have been more that sixteen or seventeen Turns when she'd had her baby – likely even younger though.

A small smile lighted Sallyn's face and lifted some of the shadow from her eyes.  "I did love the boy though; more than life itself!  I had finally found some measure of happiness outside the Harper Hall.  I could have been happy with my lot I think, being a Lady Holder; I knew I could love, but my time as a contented mother was short-lived.  My milk never came in and I had to foster little Sallinor right away to one of my older sisters who was already nursing.  It broke my heart to give him up and then Kirnor died last winter."  She pressed her lips together.  "When I caught wind that my father was looking for another husband for me I really contemplated taking my life – I couldn't be a Harper and I couldn't be a mother and I certainly didn't want to be a wife again."  She looked out over the ocean to her sleek and golden Thalleth – looking so small next to Praneth – a full-grown bronze, she smiled brightly.  "But then I was Searched and I Impressed my sweet Thalleth!  I know I'll be happy all my days now, that I'll never be alone – I'll always be needed, wanted and loved, but," and again her large eyes sought out H'lania's.  "I never thought I could know such joy from another person until I met you."

H'lania's breath caught in her throat, she didn't know what to say.  It was just how she felt about Sallyn but had never been able to voice it – even to herself.  The cynic in her though – the one unwilling to believe any of this could be true – blurted out, "But we hardly know each other!"

Sallyn merely smiled and cocked her head.  "Well, I've already told you a fair bit about myself; I'd like to learn more about you.  What was it like growing up in a Weyr?"

And so H'lania – reluctant at first - filled her in on all the boring details of her life; she even told Sallyn about her first love, Rulima.  Surely growing up in a Weyr wasn't nearly as interesting as spending several Turns in the Harper Hall, but Sallyn was quite the rapt audience of one and her undivided attention encouraged H'lania to really open up and speak freely.

In turn Sallyn filled her in on the many happy years she spent at the Harper Hall.  Her only cause for sadness had been the fact that Masterharper Tirone had refused to make her an Apprentice despite her obvious talent and strong desire to be a Harper.

"'You're a Holder's daughter,'" Sallyn quoted.  "'And your father will not allow me to make you an Apprentice.'"  She sighed.  "I would have given anything to be a Harper and I could tell it hurt Master Tirone to speak those words, but maybe some things happen for a reason."  She looked over at H'lania.  They were laying on their backs looking up at the darkening sky.  Their dragons had long since grown tired of splashing in the water and were curled up together on the white sands – still warm from the evening sun.  "Maybe I if I had become a Harper I wouldn't have Impressed Thalleth; I wouldn't have met you."

H'lania smiled.  "You would have made an amazing Harper, but I'm glad you're a dragonrider."

Sallyn laughed and looked back at the sky that was starting to become star-speckled.  "Well now we know each other's pasts, what about futures.  Everyone wants something out of life; what do you want?"

H'lania was quiet for a moment and then said thoughtfully, "Ever since I Impressed Praneth I've wanted to be a Wingleader.  I'm not sure that will ever happen though with my being a girl and all."  She looked away, feeling annoyed by the self-pity that rose in her suddenly.  "Maybe it's silly to reach so high."

"Not at all!" Sallyn insisted, rising herself up on her elbow.  "From the little I know of your flying and they way your friends talk about you, you'd be a perfect Wingleader."

"Pffft!" it wasn't quite a laugh but nor was it a sigh.  "Not while S'ligar is Weyrleader!"

"He won't be Weyrleader forever you know."

"Well, how about you then?"  H'lania asked, trying to peel the subject away from her.  "You've had to give up your dream of being a Harper.  Now that you're a queen rider what do you want?"

Sallyn grinned and laid back against the sands.  "To touch the stars."

"That's impossible you know," H'lania replied, rather surprised at Sallyn's lack of knowledge.  "You can't even take a dragon between to one of the moons and they're much closer than the stars."

"Well," Sallyn said dreamily.  "I've always aimed high."
This is a Dragonriders of Pern fanfic that takes place two Turns after the book "Moreta".
Please see the 1st Chapter write-up (link at bottom) for more details.

So we finally find out where the odd title comes from! :)

Ah, we're nearing the end!!
I'm worried about next week though as I'm going to try spanning about a year and a half without it feeling rushed or glossed over. A challenge!
But yes, we're winding down.

Thx much for reading!!

Updated every Friday (or somewhere there-abouts)

New to the story? Start from the beginning:
Chapter 1: [link]

Go back to last week's Chapter:
Chapter 15: [link]

Or continue to the next Chapter:
Chapter 17: [link]
:iconcollon28:
Collon28 Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Nice and well paced. Just a pleasant read, seeing these two interact and almost pillow-talk.
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:iconkiuslady:
KiusLady Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Very glad you liked it! :)
I'm really excited to hear your thoughts when you finish it (almost there!!! Hint-hint)
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