Cousin Time JP: Kashara/Andreya


sailyn2
 

It was the end of the day, about halfway through the evening free time and Andreya was exhausted from running around all day with everything she was trying to do. But she was still sitting at a table in one of the smaller study rooms, unfortunately without her normal mug of klah in front of her due to the heatwave, instead with a mug of juice sitting there with her as she sat with her head bent over her study materials. Her flits, both having learned early that when their person was studying that she preferred to focus on what she was doing without them pulling her attention, were out with the other flits of the Weyr. She could feel, in the background, that Elly was chattering at a brown flit while ‘Zar was annoying the pale green with his own mimicking of what she was going...and she could feel her green’s slowly building frustration with ‘Zar’s less than charming behavior.


Still, the pair of them (clutchmates who very much acted like brother and sister with the way they annoyed each other) were doing fine, so Andreya could focus on the material she was reading. There were a few other people scattered around the room, but they were all mostly quiet as they studied their own topics. 


Just finishing summarizing a paragraph into her notes, Andreya let out a small sigh and rubbed the back of her neck before she leaned back in her chair a moment. She’d already cleaned herself up after dinner, but instead of leaving her red hair to dry loose she’d braided it up and then bundled the mass of red hair up off her neck to hopefully catch a breeze. She had also already changed out of her candidate uniform into some more casual, but still pretty, outfit before bed. She wore a skirt, loose and flowing to her knees, and a slightly longer blouse style tunic that only had a wide belt around her hips to tighten the shirt down to her frame, and no other accessories and wearing only a pair of comfortable slippers. She was very much casual...for her anyway. 


Still sitting back, she took a moment to lift the mug up to her lips and sip at the juice, wishing that it wasn’t so hot so that she could have some klah without feeling like she was overheating.


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Kashara limped into the room carrying her books. She was off the crutches, but still working on getting her leg back to where it needed to be to officially Stand. For the time being she was unofficially still a Candidate while she spent more of her time with the dragonhealers and her homework from the dragonhealers was ever growing.


She smiled as she spotted her cousin. “Good evening, Andreya,” she said as she settled at the table. “How are you this evening? Had enough of the heat?”


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Swallowing the mouthful of juice she’d been drinking, she turned at the new arrival’s greeting and smiled in welcome. Putting her mug down, making sure to give the other girl plenty of room at the table as she adjusted where she’d spread her things out a bit while studying (that always happened and she just couldn’t help it!) Andreya replied with “Good evening yourself, Kashara.” Finished moving her things around, she settled back into her chair and added “I’m doing fine, and yes I’m very much ready for Arolos to go back to it’s *normal* amount of ever present sweltering heat, not this extra special heatwave.” With a smile still on her lips, concern was also present as she asked “And you? How are you doing now?”


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“Working on getting better,” Kashara said as she made herself comfortable. As she did so, Harmony flew in and sang a few notes in greeting before curling up in Kashara’s lap. “The dragonhealers sure keep me busy with homework when I’m not doing my physical therapy. What are you working on?”


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As Kashara said she was getting better, Andreya smiled gladly as the concern slid off her face. With the other candidate’s comment about what she was studying, Andreya nodded saying “Well, that makes sense. You switched from Beastcraft to Healing, so I’m sure part of the workload is you trying to catch up a bit.” Andreya smiled at the green as she appeared and sang a bit, admiring how pretty the sound had been.


Kashara’s question about what she was studying had Andreya replying confidently as she glanced down at all the different materials she had previously had spread around the table “It’s actually a bit of advanced politics lessons, like what gold-specific candidates learn. But I’m also studying dragon anatomy, just kinda switching between both topics when I need to take a break from one topic and let myself absorb what I was learning before moving further in that topic.”


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“You’re taking the gold-specific classes?” Kashara asked. Unless there was a gold egg on the Sands, those lessons were optional. Kashara had no desire to follow in her mother’s footsteps and she knew a lot of what went into the gold-hopeful classes from her own upbringing so she didn’t bother.


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Andreya nodded at the other girl’s question, explaining with a smile “I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, but even so...even though they are optional classes I’d rather be prepared for the possibility of a gold claiming me as Theirs the next time a gold egg is on the sands.” 


There, she explained *why* she was specifically taking the classes, a reasonable explanation, without gushing about how she was ‘destined for gold’ like a lot of the gold-only candidates did. She was open to all colors, and because she was she wanted to be prepared for any of them to call to her. 


And yes, she hoped it would be gold that found her, but she just as much hoped to be found by *any* color and not left on the Sands long enough to age out of Candidacy…


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“That’s a better answer than most give,” Kashara replied. “After that flight, I’m not betting on a gold this go around though but you never know. We’re getting closer to finding out, though. Is it getting unbearable dealing with my mom and Foreth while you help my mom out?”


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Andreya’s lips lifted up a bit at one corner at Kashara’s comment to her reply and she nodded understandingly as Andreya had a feeling what kind of replies girls who normally took ‘gold-specific’ lessons gave. 


As Kashara commented on the Flight, Andreya nodded and said “I’ve seen and read...that Flights and Clutches at Arolos have had a tendency to surprise, so who knows after this Flight. I can’t wait to know, to go through all the candidacy activity with eggs newly laid on the sands, instead of arriving as a Candidate not long before a Hatching.”


Kashara’s next question, about working with the Weyrwoman, caused Andreya to sit up slightly as she considered her reply, her eyes glancing around the room a moment to see who else was around and possibly in hearing range. After a moment, Andreya said “After Foreth’s initial ‘test’ she gave me, which I’m sure she’s given to anyone getting close to her lifemate, I’ve not had any problems with the Queen giving me attitude, and of course she’s loving this heat. I’m very much enjoying being Kassia’s helper/personal runner, even now.” 


That last bit was said with utter sincerity, even though both she and Kashara knew that a pregnant Kassia was...not as friendly as a non-pregnant Kassia. 


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“That’s good to hear,” Kashara said. She didn’t need to be able to read Andreya’s mind to know that her mother was probably being more difficult than usual. It’d been a long time, but she still remembered her mother being pregnant. “I love them both, but I know how they can be. Especially with them both being pregnant. The heat is a mixed blessing. It probably makes my mom harder to be around, but anything to make Foreth happy at this stage of her pregnancy is good.”


She returned to the topic of the Hatching. “But you’re right, we never know what will happen with clutches. Who knows what will happen with two possible sires. We’ll just have to see. And then everything does get busier. Some of the exercises before Hatching are fun. Others...not so much.”


She looked down though she couldn’t see her leg through her table. “The healers said I’m most likely to be able to Stand, but it depends on if I still have a bad limp or not. I keep hoping.”


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As Kashara mentioned the heat being a mixed blessing, Andreya nodded in agreement to Foreth being happy meaning Kassia was at least a *little* less grumpy due to Foreth being less grumpy. 


With the other candidate mentioning the upcoming Hatching exercises, Andreya tilted her head a bit and was about to ask something, but then the other girl mentioned her injury and the Harper-candidate couldn’t help the flash of a sympathetic look that crossed her face, thankfully when Kashara was looking down at the table, and offered up “Same here, that you don’t have a bad limp. It’s good the healers are optimistic about your ability to stand.” 


After that, hoping to lighten the other girl’s mood, Andreya asked “Which pre-Hatching exercises are you most looking forward to?”

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“They used to do a mock Impression with seven days taking care of a stuffed dragon,” Kashara said. “I hope they bring that back. Other than that, I’ve been through them all. If there’s somehow a gold, I look forward to mom’s lecture. It’s always hilarious to see the other girls’ reaction.”


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As Kashara talked about the mock Impression, Andreya nodded her head with a smile having already heard of this from Shalia and she also hoped it happened again...and not *entirely* because of being able to keep the stuffie after. But at mention of there being a lecture from Kassia if there was a gold, which she hoped there would be, Andreya looked curiously at the other candidate before replying “Yes, Shalia mentioned the mock Impression as she was giving me the ‘newbie candidate’ tour, and I’d love to be able to do that activity. But about the lecture from WW Kassia, and the...hilarious reactions. Reactions to, I’m assuming, her talking about what it really is like being a goldrider, as this lesson only happens if there is a gold egg. What causes these funny reactions with that topic?”

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“Girls who want a gold often go in just wanting the status symbol and the shiny dragon,” Kashara said. “They don’t think about the responsibility of their duties or what it’s like to have a gold gravid and then with eggs or to have such a strong willed dragon. A lot of girls still don’t believe it when they’re told or are just amazed.”


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As Andreya listened, her delicate eyebrows rose in surprise at how...unprepared those girls were thinking about golds as just ‘ohh, shiny’ instead of what they really meant. Giving a stunned shake of her head, Andreya said “I just...being that oblivious to that level of responsibility, that unprepared, is horrifying to think about considering that there is a chance one of those girls who are that desperate for a shiny dragon might actually impress the gold. That’s one of the things I’ve most enjoyed being Kassia’s assistant, getting a peek into what being a goldrider actually involves.”  


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“I think if you’ve never experienced it closely, you can’t really understand,” Kashara said. “Mom mentions the part about never having privacy, but leaves out the part where it’s dangerous. They never think about things like that even after mom was nearly stabbed at the Gather.”


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Andreya nodded at the first comment, understanding that there’s only so much someone on the ‘outside’ (meaning, not a goldrider or very closely associated) could know...but she thought at least being able to see a little bit while being Kassia’s assistant was better than not experiencing anything. As Kashara went on to mention the lack of privacy and then the danger, Andreya’s expression grew serious as she remembered the Gather and her worry for Kassia in the middle of all that panic. 


After a moment, Andreya replied with “I’m glad that your mom is actually ok, after the Gather. You’d think that would be fairly obvious for anyone who’s hoping for a gold, not just the danger but the lack of privacy. First, all the Arolos goldriders don’t just have guards but also whers, so that alone should show that there is a high concern for their safety. And privacy? Well, those girls hoping for a gold are mainly thinking about the status, so why would they not think about the consequences of that status too.” 


Andreya let out a small sigh as she finished with “It’s life changing that’s for sure, even more than Impressing any other color. So many more things to consider when you are hoping for gold than just their hide color.”


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“I have a glimpse because of growing up with my mom,” Kashara said. “And I imagine you do with working with her. But I know the only way you can really know it is to Impress. But my mom wants to try to open the girl’s eyes a bit before they go into it. And then it can make girls think twice. Not that she wants girls to not want to Impress gold, but it makes them think about greens and blues instead. Or even that Standing isn’t for them.”


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Andreya listened to her second cousin, nodding at first in agreement that Andreya had indeed gotten that glimpse as well as you could only really know when you impress. It made sense, after all, for Kassia to do her best to explain how things *really* were...not just to all the girls who were star-struck by a gold hide, but even to the girls who thought they knew and were prepared. Andreya was looking forward to this lesson with the Weyrwoman. 


As Kashara finished, Andreya nodded again saying “Very understandable. Better to have that information, as much as possible, before you impress so that you can make a fully informed decision...even if that decision is changing your mind about being a candidate altogether...than to just go in with blinders and then be hit with it all at Impression where there’s no going back to who you were before. I’m looking forward to this lesson with the Weyrwoman.”


After a moment considering, Andreya asked “So, Shalia has been pretty vocal about wanting blue only, so I assume she might not be at this lesson if it’s girls who are gold-hopefuls. Do you have a preference?”


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“I’m sure it’ll be soon,” Kashara said with a nod. “Better to warn girls now and give them a chance to decide not to Stand, in which case they probably won’t be allowed to see the eggs ahead of time.”

Kashara shrugged. “It depends on how my mom does it. She might do it for gold-hopefuls. Or maybe all the girls. I don’t know which. I do know that I want a green, but even though I know a lot more than the average person about what goldriders go through, I’ll still try to go either way. Of course, like I said, it might be to giggle at the reaction of some of the girls. But also because I want to Stand and if I Impress gold I’ll be happy even if I’m expecting a green.”


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As Kashara said this lesson would most likely be soon, Andreya nodded her head understandingly as that was a logical reason on why, after all. 


When Kashara explained that the lesson might not be *just* for the gold-hopefuls but for every single female candidate, Andreya’s eyes widened slightly at having every single female in the same room for a lesson before realizing that Kassia would probably have multiple of the same lessons to have smaller groups of girls...more manageable for when there were questions from the lesson. As Kashara explained she hoped for a green dragon more than any other color, Andreya again nodded before she grinned at the other girl saying she’d go to the lesson, not just for the opportunity for some amusement factor either. 


When Kashara finally said she’d be happy to impress Gold even if expecting a green, which was a much different reaction to Shalia saying she’d *run* if a gold looked her way, Andreya nodded thoughtfully before asking “And what about if a blue claimed you?”


After asking that, Andreya did add “For me, logically I could see myself Impressed to any color and based on sheer numbers green, or even blue, is more likely than gold. But, if I walked off the Sands with a blue I’d be...highly surprised at having been chosen as his lifemate just for the fact that they are male dragons. Having a guy voice in my head that is supposed to be the dragonic personification of, according to some Candidatemasters, your match...your missing piece? Yeah, that would be a big surprise, but that wouldn’t make me love him any less.”


After a pause she continued with “A gold though? Yes, so many girls are hoping for gold and while I count myself in that number it’s not for the same reason as those ‘star-struck’ other candidates. The politics and bureaucracy, the duties, putting others (an entire Weyr!) before yourself, being part of something *more* than just me...all of that on top of a gold’s strong will and forceful personality? It would be a dream worth working very hard for and striving to do right every day for those who goldriders lead, and an honor to be chosen as a gold’s lifemate.”


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Kashara nodded. “I agree with the possibility of Impressing blue. I can’t imagine my other half being male, but it could happen and I’d just have to adjust. Really though, I hope I get a green and save the blue for Shalia.”


She raised an eyebrow at her cousin. “You’re still crazy,” she teased. “I’d rather be a part of the wings that fight thread than the person that does all the paperwork. I don’t even understand Shalia’s desire to lead a wing.”


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As Kashara mirrored Andreya’s own thoughts about the possibility of a blue dragon being their match, the harper candidate nodded in firm agreement and then added with a smile “Yes, Shalia should totally get her blue. But you’re right, if a blue looked to me I’d adjust too...I mean, a blue is more unshakeable and emotionally stable than a green, not just emotion wrapped in a hide, so maybe if a blue did call me ‘Theirs’ that would be why I matched with one. So that, at least, I could see as a possibility.” 


At Kashara’s eyebrow raise and tease, Andreya just gave an amused shake of her head as she said “Paperwork doesn’t frighten me. It actually was a quite...enjoyable part of being a harper apprentice.” And then she couldn’t help the chuckle as she added “I don’t think Shalia had mentioned wanting to *lead* a wing to me...but if any girl was going to convince a brown that she was their lifemate, I’d think it would be her.”


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“They’re starting to use blues and greens in wingleader positions,” Kashara pointed out. “That wing of tiny dragons is led by a greenrider. I don’t know if you know him. His name is T’lack. He’s one of mom’s best friends. There have also been blueriders as Wing Seconds and Thirds. So maybe she’d get her dream.”


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As Kashara corrected her attempt at humor, thinking a brown would ever consider impressing to a *girl*, Andreya flushed slightly in embarrassment. And what’s worse is that she *had* met T’lack, enough to know he was one of Kassia’s friends, and he’d been the rider who’d spotted her rushing away from the Gather’s dance floor and gotten her back to the Weyr. She’d *known* that he was a Wingleader to the tiny dragon wing, but for the moment it had slipped her mind. 


Cheeks still pink, Andreya nodded as she lifted a hand to smooth down her hair saying “Right, of course I knew about Wing Seconds and Thirds being promoted from bluerider ranks, I was thinking of actual Wingleaders...and I have met T’lack actually, he’s the one who thankfully spotted me at the Gather, recognized me in the middle of all that panic, and got me back to the Weyr. I don’t know why it slipped from my mind that *he* was actually a Wingleader too. So yeah, she actually *could* get her chance to lead a wing someday.”


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“T’lack’s a good guy. A good painter, too, though I bet he doesn’t have as much time now.” Kashara tucked a strand of hair back behind her ear. “He does all sorts of paintings. Some of them...a bit risque.” She tried to block out the times she’d seen the ones he’d done of her mom and someone else. Way too many times. 


“The nice thing about not being a goldrider is that there is more time to pursue other things. I want to keep working with the dragonhealers once they let me.”


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Kashara talking about T’lack being a painter but not having much time had Andreya nodding in understanding as that made sense with him being a Wingleader. His time would now be taken up with that instead of painting. But before she could comment to that effect, Kashara went on to describe some of the paintings he’d done, and at the idea of a *risque* painting, which by necessity would need to have it’s subject in that risque pose for quite a while as the painter...well, actually sketched and then painted the pose caused a deep blush to brighten Andreya’s cheeks at the thought of being examined like *that* thoroughly enough to get painted. 


Giving herself a mental shake out of imagining that situation, when Kashara finished Andreya said “Yes, it makes sense he’d have less time to paint being Wingleader...just like any craft a goldrider might have been doing *before* impressing pretty much has to be stopped except as a rare hobby. I mean...I’d still try to sing and play when I can, even with the little time available if I impressed gold. But...but the trade off, the ability to do so much potential *good* as a goldrider, for me, makes the craft tradeoff worth it.” 


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“Even a goldrider needs something for herself,” Kashara says. “Mom is a fair sketcher herself and she takes time to sketch once in a while. A chance to do something that’s just for her and her enjoyment. But no, it’s not the same time wise.”


Personally Kashara thought her cousin was a little nuts for being so eager to potentially Impress a gold, but she supposed someone should and she was more likely aware of what she’d walk into than most girls.


“Speaking of time,” she said, looking back at her books. “I have some homework I need to catch up on. That’s what I get switching crafts this far through.”


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When Kashara actually mentioned that Kassia had time, even a little time, to herself for a hobby, Andreya actually smiled being relieved thinking that if the *Weyrwoman* of Arolos had even a little free time for a hobby that surely the other goldriders (once out of Weyrlinghood, of course) would have just a bit more free time than Kassia did. She did make a mental note to ask Kassia about her sketches as she was curious and would like to see what talent her cousin had.


As Kashara fell silent, Andreya was formulating a comment about Kassia sketching or having time as a goldrider, when the other candidate mentioned needing to get back to catching up on her studies. Nodding her head in agreement with a smile, Andreya responded with “Oh, I understand that very much. I didn’t *actually* switch crafts when I became a candidate, still doing the Harpercraft for my craft time...but with how much I had and still have to catch up on as a candidate...it feels like I did switch.” 


Andreya fell silent a moment before, conscious of the other girl’s still healing injury, Andreya offered with a helpful smile “Just let me know if you need a cup of klah or something and I’ll run to get it for you while we study.” And with that offer hanging in the air between the second-cousins, the Harper turned her gaze and focused back down at her own study materials.


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