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Frustrating Conversation

Writers: Avery
Date Posted: 24th December 2020

Characters: Jadirah, Kadira, Jadirel
Description: A family meal becomes a conversation about Standing.
Location: Dragonsfall Weyr
Date: month 7, day 8 of Turn 10
Notes: Mentioned: A’kades, Saibra


Kadira sat at the lunch table with her own tray and one for her mother,
waiting for her brother Jadirel to come over and join. It was one of the
rare lunch periods where everyone’s schedule overlapped so they could
have it together. That had been more common when they all lived at River
Bluff, but that was when she’d been a junior apprentice and her brother
had been in Harper classes.

Now she was a senior apprentice - maybe a Journeyman soon if she could
pass the promotion tests, when next the Weyrhealer decided to run them -
and her brother was a Candidate and her mother was busier than ever, and
having a candlemark to share lunch or dinner together was uncommon.
Usually family time happened only on restdays, or in the evening after
meals.

Jadirel arrived with his tray just as their mother came back to the
table. Her brother rolled his eyes as she hugged him. “Ma, you just saw
me,” he protested.

“If you complain about the hug, I’ll ruffle your hair,” Jadirah
threatened, but she let her son go.

“Oh no, not that,” he protested. “_Anything_ but that. I like my hair as
it is.”

“Like a tunnelsnake’s matted nest?” Jadirah asked.

“Ma!” he protested, a little louder.

“You got my fine hair, not your father’s curls, it just tangles when you
let it grow and treat it like that,” Jadirah continued.

“I don’t want to have short hair, I want to grow it out and do something
interesting with it.” Jadirel tugged at the locks of hair in question.

Kadira’s lip quirked in a little smile as she forked some of the greens
on her plate into her mouth. “You’re trying to impress the girls with it
and it fails.”

“Oh, like you know anything about impressing girls.”

“I do too.”

“Uh-huh. So, _how_ did it go with Shiz-”

“We’re not talking about that,” Kadira said, blushing brightly red. “So,
are you excited by the fact that two golds went up close together?”

As she expected, Jadirel leapt at the change of topic from girls or his
hair to talk about Candidacy, which was on his mind but also on everyone
else’s mind lately, with the excitement of having two clutches. “Yes, if
I count right, they’ll both have eggs on the sands for at least a
sevenday. That’s two chances to Impress, right after each other. After a
long stretch with no eggs on the sands, it’s nice to have more than one
chance.”

“And you’re still hoping for bronze?” Jadirah asked.

“I can hope to imitate Da and get a bronze and be a Wingleader some day.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the blue or green type. But a dragon is a
dragon, and I would love them with all my heart.”

“That’s the way to think about it,” Jadirah agreed.

“If I Impress at either of these, I’ll be old enough to fight as soon as
I graduate, too. No waiting in the weyrling wing until I’m old enough.
Maybe that’s why I didn’t Impress the last few times, the dragonets
knowing they needed people of the right age.”

That was Jadirel’s assumptions. The queens knew when to rise and how
many eggs to lay, the dragonets knew who to choose, and everyone heard
it was better to pick older candidates. Clearly it wasn’t that he was
unsuitable, he’d just been a little too young to be totally useful yet.

“I haven’t seen an overlapping clutch since right before the Pass, when
the queens were overproducing. The Searchdragons are going to be going
into overdrive looking for enough Candidates, and they’ll want to have a
number of older ones so there aren’t an abundance of young ones in the
weyrling wing waiting,” Jadirah said.

“Bet that’ll make the Holders mad if we take too many young people,”
Jadirel said.

“That’s for the Weyrwoman to worry about, not you. It’s her job to
ensure there’s Candidates, both Searched and from the Weyr,” Jadirah
said, though she wondered what Saibra’s thoughts were on the topic and
thought she’d bring it up the next time they chatted.

“Kadira, will you Stand this time?”

“Huh?” the Healer asked.

She’d been partially tuning out the conversation in favor of focusing on
her lunch. Every clutch that was laid, her family asked if she wanted
to. She hadn’t wanted to Stand at 6. Or at 12. Or at 16. She’d always
loved how her mother worked as a Healer and saved people’s lives, and
she had seen first-hand how brutal Threadfall was, how it wounded and
maimed and killed people and their dragons.

With A’kades as a father, she got her experience bathing dragons and
taking rides on them and recognizing how neat they were, and she had a
healthy respect for them, and of course she’d thought about the
unconditional love she’d heard about from the riders. Who hadn’t
considered that part? But you could get that from a _firelizard_ without
any of the risks.

“I haven’t Stood yet, why would I stand now?” she asked.

“Because you haven’t done it yet and these are going to be huge
Candidate classes, so now’s the perfect time to try it out just once and
see what happens!” Jadirel said enthusiastically.

“I’m about to become a Journeyman. I think. Aren’t the tests soon?” she
asked her mother.

“When enough are ready,” Jadirah said, vaguely.

“Sounds like it’s not like the test is next month, but the Hatching is.
So why not Stand? It would be awesome if we Impressed in the same
clutch,” Jadirel said.

“If it’s so close, why would I distract myself from studying by
Candidate classes? And if I Impress, then I won’t make it to Journeyman
for Turns because I’ll be a full-fledged rider!” Kadira said,
exasperated.

Jadirah usually told her daughter, ‘you should Stand once and try it
because you should always try new things’. This time, she said, “I think
you ought to try it. So you don’t regret it later and ask yourself, why
didn’t I?”

“What’s got you thinking all about regrets?” Kadira asked.

“It’s just that reaching Journeyrank is a big deal. I’m proud of you for
getting that far. But you’ve wanted it your whole life and never
wavered, and I don’t want you to think later, ‘oh, maybe I did want to
be a Candidate’. There’s time to keep being a Healer if you age out of
Impressing, but you can’t -”

“I like Healing, I know what I’m doing with my life, I don’t want to
Stand just because you’re all telling me I should.” She pushed back from
the table and stood up and stormed out, furious. Why was everyone
suddenly trying to push her into being a Candidate?

Last updated on the January 13th 2021


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All references to worlds and characters based on Anne McCaffrey's fiction are © Anne McCaffrey 1967, 2013, all rights reserved, and used by permission of the author. The Dragonriders of Pern© is registered U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, by Anne McCaffrey, used here with permission. Use or reproduction without a license is strictly prohibited.