We *Are* Family! (Pt. 2) ((JP: Andreya, Shalia))


Rosiegirl
 

At mention of the family dinner her mom being invited, Andreya’s eyes widened slightly before she nodded. Her mom would be...ecstatic, surely to come to a family dinner. And at the idea of Weyrwoman Kassia wearing one of Mom’s designs, Andreya couldn’t help but grin and nodded again saying “Oh, Mom would just...she’d be stunned to have Kassia wearing something she makes. And oh, of course about the discounts.”


At Shalia’s comments when Andreya pulled back from the hug, the Harper added “I’m so glad that the timing worked this time, you finally being able to get your gold flit. And yes, you did say...but I didn’t expect the *day after* the Hatching. Although, with Foreth’s soon to be clutch, I suppose if it wasn’t this soon after the Hatching then we’d have to wait until after the *next* Hatching to get flits...or else risk them if we Impressed at Foreth’s next clutch.” 


Listening as Shalia continued talking about when T’rif requested the egg, when Shalia said he’d not given Shalia and Sarati her name, respecting her choice about joining the family, Andreya couldn’t help the smile that crossed her face. T’rif’s respect for her before they’d even gotten a chance to really talk made her feel all warm and happy, helped her to realize how lucky she’d gotten with who her father was. Then when Shalia continued on to talk about wanting specifically a gold from Sar’s Lady, Andreya nodded saying “Well, now Sar won’t have to...She will be your gold and I’m so happy it worked out for you.”


As Andreya was speaking, talking about flits and how lucky Shalia was with being able to get her gold after turns of waiting, over by the hearth the egg T’rif had given her that was buried in warm sand was beginning to shift against the sand in the pot as the flit inside the egg began to tap against the inside of the egg...It was as if all this talk of golds had caught the bronze’s attention in its egg and the bronze was wanting to make it known that *he* was there and would be the one to win all the golds. 

  

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“And there wouldn’t be much better advertising than having the Weyrwoman wearing one of her dresses,” Shalia laughed.  And she’d absolutely make anything look stunning.  “Especially if she wears it to the Gather dance with all eyes on her!”


“We probably would have had until Foreth actually clutched before that would be a real concern, though obviously earlier is better than later,” she responded to Andreya’s comment about risking them.  “But we definitely won’t have to worry about them now!  I’d say they’ll hatch sometime this evening, or tomorrow at the latest, going by how hard the shells were this morning.  And when I checked after lunch.”


Of course, especially at this late stage, heat would make a big difference, and the eggs by the hearth were being kept at a higher temperature than in Sarati’s tiny & crowded weyr, so the hatchlings inside them were getting ever closer to being ready to come out of their shells.

  

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Andreya grinned at Shalia nodding agreement as she said “Exactly. Kassia, the Weyrwoman of Arolos, wearing something my Mom makes, even if it wasn’t to a Gather would be...mind-blowing. But if it was a Gather dress...I can’t even imagine what that would do for Mom. She’d be the envy of the other tailors, that’s for sure.” That last bit Andreya said with a laugh.


As Shalia reassured Andreya they didn’t have anything to worry about with bonding with their flits now, there being enough time, Andreya nodded saying “That’s what T’rif said when I’d asked, worried about the egg. Sometime in the next day or two. I left his office, had lunch, and then got everything ready just in case.” Andreya waved a hand at the sealed meat pot, which had been placed well out of way of the heat from the hearth to help the meat stay as unspoiled as it could be for as long as possible. Another wave of her head directed Shalia to the other bag, the one clearly not full of study materials and hidework, that was laying next to the ‘coffee table’. Then she continued with “I’ve been here ever since, keeping the egg next to the heat.” Thinking about Shalia’s words about checking the shell hardness, with a glance now at the egg Andreya admitted “I’ve yet to actually lift the cover to see the egg, not wanting to do something to damage it unintentionally and knowing it needs to be kept warm..”


And of course, over by the hearth, said egg encased in sand was still being tapped from the inside (on the part of the egg toward the bottom, buried in sand), and the tapping got harder as if the bronze flit sensed the conversation moving on from golds and wanted to go back to that conversation. However, with how packed the sand was around the egg there didn’t seem to be enough give and the bronze in the egg began to tap harder in frustration, clearly wanting to get out *now* and being upset that the shell was so clearly standing in his way. How *dare* that shell disregard the bronze’s tapping against it like this? Didn’t the shell know *who* he was and that he wanted out and out *right now!*?


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“Well, if what I’ve seen you wearing is any indication, she deserves being the envy,” Shalia smiled.  She didn’t know how much of the other girl’s clothing was from her mother, but she hadn’t seen her in anything (well, other than the uniforms, of course) that didn’t look really good on her.  “I wonder if she could improve this,” she laughed, gesturing at her own uniform.  Probably not, though.


As Andreya talked about getting everything ready, Shalia chuckled; a girl after her own heart, this was!  “So you haven’t even looked yet?  I’ve spent hours staring at my gold egg!” she laughed, only exaggerating slightly.  “You should go take a look before it gets destroyed in the hatching, it’s really rather lovely!”  Shalia nudged the other girl’s leg with her own, urging her to get up.


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Shalia’s compliments earned the shorter candidate a blush as Andreya said “Thank you, I’ll let her know you’re admiring the skirts and dresses. A lot of what I’ve gotten she’s helped make or designed, especially since coming here and needing to get clothes as I shot up like a weed.” And a glance down at Shalia’s uniform earned a sad smile as Andreys shook her head and replied with “Sadly, no...I showed her and asked. The basic uniform is just going to have to be terrible...But she’s already thinking of different outfits for once I don’t have to wear the most basic, hoping to come up with some better fabrics or something even if the color has to stay the horrible yellow.”


At Shalia’s laughing comment, Andreya shook her head and said “No, I’ve not. Not even a peek. Mom was always so impressed around my birthdays, she said. Not once did I ever try and sneak a peek at presents before the day.” Shalia’s nudge on her leg and urge to go take a look at the egg earned the covered egg a longing glance, even as she asked “Well, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to look at it, to uncover it even though it does let out some of the heat, if you’re suggesting I look.” And with that, it hardly took another second to convince the tall girl to get up and head over to the hearth. 


Instead of bending over, with the skirt she was wearing, Andreya kneeled down by the hearth and carefully pulled the egg pot closer. With one last smiling glance at Shalia, Andreya lifted the top off the pot and looked down into it. Surrounded by pale, hot sand, the top of the egg was clearly visible with it’s dark color. It was a whirling contrast of colors and it took a moment for Andreya’s eyes to make sense of what she was seeing, especially since she was seeing only the very tip top section of the egg. There was what looked like the tips of a pair of bright red feathered wings that wrapped around the top of the egg, from back to front, and met to form a triangle. Under the red wings the color of the eggs was a really pretty smokey blue color, kind of like swirly clouds even though the colors of the blue sky seemed to shift even as Andreya looked down at the egg. 


As Andreya stared down at the egg for the first time she pulled in a stunned breath and she had to admit Shalia was right...it was beautiful in an almost sinister kind of way. Looking at the egg and the feelings the image, even partial image, evoked in her the harper could almost hear the ominous beginning notes of a song, deep and rumbling, threatening sounding with just the hint of a light melody echoing through the eerie notes, as if there was hope for the song...if only you could listen hard enough, maybe coax it out up to the surface. 


And just as the notes were beginning to possibly string themselves together as a possible song, still holding her breath in awe as she grasped at the song floating through her head, there was a tap...and then another tap, just as frustrated sounding as the first. And she hadn’t just heard the tap but also felt the faint vibration of it where her palms were around the pot. 


Glancing up at Shalia with wide eyes, she said in amazement “I..I heard that..did you??” 


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“That’ll be good,” Shalia smiled as Andreya talked about different fabrics for her altered uniforms.  “Even if you’re stuck with the color, you’ll look so much better with a different cut.”  Near-cousin or no, Shalia wasn’t about to let their new relationship affect her attraction for the other girl.  At least as long as she continued not to mind it.


“Don’t worry, it’s warm enough over there that looking at it won’t harm it.  Shards, you could probably bring it to the deepest caverns and be fine at this point!” she laughed.  Not that she’d consider for a moment doing that.  Just in case.  After Andreya got up and moved over to the pots, Shalia followed her, dropping to her knees to the side and a little back.  She didn’t want to get between the younger girl and her egg, but she wanted to be able to watch Andreya’s face as she saw the egg for the first time, and she returned her smile with an encouraging nod.


She moved the other egg pot, the one she had brought, a little further away from the hearth, but quickly returned her gaze to the other girl’s face, and was rewarded with the reaction as Andreya looked at the egg.  Eggs were always lovely, whether firelizard or dragon, but there was something special about knowing one was yours.  


Shalia was about to suggest pulling the egg out - carefully, of course! - to get a better look at it when she heard the faint tapping.  And then another sound.  She glanced around the room quickly and saw several firelizards landing on furniture around the two girls and the egg and starting to hum.  She met Andreya’s gaze with wide eyes of her own and whispered, “It looks like you took a peek just in time!”  She reached out to squeeze the other girl’s shoulder for a moment and then stood up, quickly striding over to the covered meat bowl and bringing it back.  “Here,” she said, setting it by Andreya and then taking a couple of steps away before dropping back down to the ground.


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Shalia’s comments about clothes and fabrics earned a nod of agreement and a pleased “Thank you.” and the other girl’s teasing  words about the egg being warm enough caused Andreya to smirk, but then her focus was entirely on the egg in front of her although she was aware that Shalia had moved to kneel beside and a little behind her before Andreya lifted the lid on the egg pot. She didn’t even notice when the other egg pot got moved slightly away. 


Andreya was still looking at Shalia when the other girl glanced around, and it was only then that the Harper girl realized that there were several firelizards now in the room and humming. At the other girl’s whispered comment, Andreya couldn’t help the shocked nod before she grinned at Shalia in response to the shoulder squeeze. Andreya watched Shalia move to retrieve the meat pot, and as the other girl returned Andreya’s gaze returned to the egg. 


Listening intently, bending closer over the egg, Andreya heard the same furious tapping coming from the egg and still felt the vibrations, but the top of the egg did not do anything. Holding the edge of the pot firmly in one hand, Andreya reached in to touch the top of the egg’s hard shell with the softest of brushes. The tapping halted abruptly as soon as her fingertips brushed the surface of the egg and Andreya quickly jerked her hand back, worried she’d frightened the egg’s occupants. It was several heartbeats before anything else happened, no tapping, no shifting, nothing.


There was nothing from the egg for so long that Andreya risked a concerned glance up at Shalia before turning back to the egg in front of her. ‘Just a couple more heartbeats, and if there’s no noise I’ll touch the egg again’ Andreya thought to herself, but just as she finished that thought suddenly the top of the egg exploded outward, leaving everything that was below the level of the sand entact. Ducking to not get hit by flying pieces of shell, Andreya got a glimpse of the goo covered creature that burst from the egg with a ‘roar’ (translation: adorable trill) of triumph at finally defeating the shell and gaining his release. Andreya was frozen for a brief moment as she stared down at the wet, gooey looking, dark red-bronze form with a series of even darker markings all over the tiny hatchling.


It was when the ‘roar’ ended and the bronze baby turned his fast whirling red eyes on her and gave another ‘roar’ (this one a distinctly pitifully hungry mew) that Andreya rushed into movement. Reassuring the newborn with an ecstatic “It’s ok, I’m here. I’ve got you, I know you’re hungry, you handsome thing.” she quickly jerked off the lid to the meat and grabbed a few of the tiny chunks of meat. Holding the pot in one hand, so that it didn’t tip over, Andreya moved the other hand with the tiny chunks of meat over and crooned at the bronze hatchling “Here you go, I got it specially for you.” and held out the first small chunk between two fingers, the rest of the chunks held in her palm with curled fingers. 


The bronze, clearly having gotten frustrated with the delay caused by having to break out of the egg, lunged forward and snapped at the meat in Andreya’s fingers, closing a hair's-breadth from the Harper’s fingertips, before pulling that first chunk of meat into his mouth. Doing her best to be reassuring, this was a baby after all, even as she worked to keep her fingers as clear of the meat as possible Andreya began feeding the bronze the few other pieces of meat she’d grabbed in the first handful, feeding only one at a time and making sure the tiny bronze’s mouth was empty before holding out the next piece.


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Shalia shifted position so she could see the proceedings more clearly.  This was Andreya’s moment, but she wanted to be able to get as good a view of it as she could!  She kept moving her gaze from the egg to the other girl’s face and back, smiling at the transfixed look on her face.  It would take a herd of runners to tear Andreya’s face away from the egg right now, she knew; it had certainly been that way for her when Noctis hatched, and a beatific look came over her own face as she thought about that day, although it was quickly chased away by a small frown as she considered her own hardening egg.  She sent a thought her blue’s way, getting a sleepy response that assured her that no, the golden orb wasn’t in danger of hatching anytime soon, at least in his considered and expert opinion.  Trusting the blue - and Sarati and Lady - to let her know to get her butt there on the double if she was needed, she focused back on the tableau in front of her.


Andreya reached out to touch the egg, and after several moments looked back at her.  Shalia gave a reassuring nod and smiled, mouthing for her to do it again.  But before the other girl could, the little bronze made the point moot, bursting out of the egg like a dragon diving into the lake (she winced a little at her own analogy, the end of Foreth’s flight still being quite the vivid memory) except in reverse.  Being less focused on the egg than Andreya, she wasn’t able to duck in time, and she absentmindedly reached up to peel a shard sticking to her cheek away.


The little bronze gave the absolutely most adorable little trill of defiance against the world, followed by an equally adorable little mew of hunger.  She watched Andreya feed him his first morsel of food, wincing at how near to losing her fingertips she came, and quickly moved over so she was kneeling right behind her, pressed against her back with her hands on the other girl’s shoulders and watching over her shoulder.  Shalia whispered into her ear, “Don’t let him do that, make him behave, you don’t want him developing bad habits at the start.”  Lunging like that could be very dangerous if it wasn’t curtailed early on.  “Concentrate and think clearly about what you want him to do as you tell him,” she encouraged.


She took another look at the hungry little bronze, admiring his coloration.  Even with the egg goo still glistening, it was obvious that he wasn’t going to be bright & shiny like most bronzes, but the marks on his face were fascinating.  Almost like he was wearing a mask.  “He’s gorgeous, Andreya,” she said.


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Attempting to be a bit more cautious since the first snap the bronze gave her fingers, Andreya had only managed to carefully feed the bronze one more piece of meat, which he of course snapped at her fingers again. He was *HUNGRY* and the hand had food that he wanted *NOW*. By the time the flit had swallowed that second tiny chunk of meat, Andreya felt Shalia moving and pressing against her back, her hands gripping Andreya’s shoulders. She was about to reach forward and feed a third piece to the roaring/mewing bronze when Shalia’s whispered words reached her ears. Andreya pulled her hand back, hearing that small roaring-trill of anger at the *FOOD* being pulled back from the bronze, who’s tiny talons were clutching at the edge of his shell.


Shalia’s breath on her bare neck, the braid hanging forward in front of her, caused a small shiver under Shalia’s hands, but Andreya ignored that and nodded in understanding as she whispered back “Thank you!” Focusing back on the bronze, who was now looking back and forth between Andreya and Shalia, giving the latter the most adorably angry look and a small hissing growl as *that* one had been responsible for the other one pulling the food back. Andreya did as Shalia suggested and focused on the bronze as she said and thought together “No. Don’t growl.” 


She followed that with beginning to move her hand with the meat closer. As soon as the ‘meat hand’ began to move the bronze’s red whirling eyes focused on that and Andreya actually saw the flit’s body tense up as if he was going to lunge again (now that she knew what to look for). Before he could snap his neck forward Andreya said and thought at the bronze a bit more firmly “No! Don’t snap. Wait.” The bronze turned his head up to look at Andreya’s face, tilting his head to the side a little considering the thoughts and words before turning his attention back to the meat and tensing again to lunge. 


This time when Andreya noticed that tensing she pulled her hand back and said again “No. Don’t snap. Wait.” The bronze halted when the hand was pulled back, paired again with the same thoughts and words, and this time he focused on Andreya’s face and she could almost see the bronze’s tiny nostrils flare as he huffed out at her, clearly angry at her. Still Andreya stared down at the bronze and again gave the verbal command “No, Don’t snap. Wait.” while at the same time she thought firmly at the bronze an image of him staying still in his egg while she brought the meat toward him and fed him, with him not snapping. 


Waiting a moment, while the bronze looked from Andreya’s face to her hand and then back again, when the bronze finally relaxed with another huff into his shell Andreya smiled at the bronze and sent all kinds of warm, happy, pleased feelings. Then she moved her hand back up and toward the small flit, who sat there looking like this was his plan all along and waited oh-so-very charmingly for Andreya to move her hand all the way up to the bronze. When she had the meat up by the bronze’s head, she reassured him with “Ok, it’s ok, now you can take it.” Only then did the bronze move, making sure not to lunge, and took the meat from Andreya’s fingertips. 


Once the flit had taken that third piece, Andreya reached to grab a few more pieces, waiting while the bronze swallowed the morsel he’d just taken from her. While the bronze swallowed that piece, before reaching out with the next one, Andreya whispered to Shalia “Yes, he is. Beautiful, stunning...and I can’t wait to see him without all the egg goo, I wonder if his color will look just as dark red bronze then.” After a brief pause she asked with a hint of concern “He did better there, what do you think?” And in reality, Andreya wasn’t just asking about how the bronze did, but about how she did and was currently doing as well. 


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Unaware of the effect that her nearness - and her warm breath on bare skin - might be having on Andreya, Shalia attributed the small shiver she felt to any number of emotions connected to the hatching.  Including a reaction from the little hatchling itself as the air caressed its hide for the first time, with the quickly-drying goo not being as good of an insulator as when it was in the shell.


She squeezed Andreya’s shoulder once more as she took control, trying to convey that she was doing a good job.  But just in case, she also whispered “That’s right, good job” when the other girl told the little bronze not to growl.  That squeeze was followed by more as she stopped the lunging, and then a full on pat when the hatchling took the morsel more calmly and at far less threat to her fingers.


“He did great,” Shalia whispered back into her ear.  “You did great.  Keep going like this, you’re doing wonderful.”  Of course it wasn’t possible for her to have heard what the other girl was really asking, but she answered it anyway.  “And yeah, I think he will.  He’s going to be a distinctive little fellow, that’s for sure.”


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Really, it had been Shalia’s breath against her neck, a neck she *knew* was normally sensitive when people gave it ‘attention’, that had caused her shiver but it was a reasonable thought that the shiver had been caused by Andreya beginning to feel things from the tiny bronze. In fact, as the bronze swallowed the third piece of meat and eyed Andreya’s hand looking for more the Harper realized that the pain in her stomach and the eagerness she felt was coming from the bronze who was trying to be oh-so-patient and not lunge again, although Andreya could see his tail whipping around behind him in agitation. 


Andreya was actually very grateful for Shalia’s presence against her back, the squeeze of her shoulders the other girl was giving in encouragement. When Shalia whispered back in reassurance, Andreya turned her head slightly to shoot the girl kneeling behind her a happy grin and replying with “Great! And yes he will be.” before turning back to focus on the bronze. 


In the same method, grabbing a handful of a few tiny chunks of meat, reminding the bronze not to lunge when it looked like he was tensing up, and then slowly feeding the ravenous bronze, Andreya went through about 2 more handfuls of meat chunks. Each piece of meat she fed the bronze, crooning at him and whispering sweet reassuring words to the lovely fellow, meant that Andreya felt more from him. Mainly it was some serious hunger and strong agitation at the slowness of the feeding, but as one of the adult firelizards moved and flew over the bronze, wings stirring the air around the hearth as that humming adult green flew down to land on the hearth, overly curious about the bronze. 


The green flying closer and landing, and the breeze the wings stirred up, hit the cooling egg goo covering the bronze’s hide and Andreya sucked in a breath at the feeling even as the bronze gave a loud barking sound and curled his tail around him in a shiver that Andreya echoed herself. Letting out a breath, Andreya said soothingly to the bronze “It’s ok, little guy. You’ll be warm soon, let’s just get you fed though.” Her words, and her reminder of the still hungry hole in his belly, had the bronze sitting back up in response looking for the meat-holding hand as he continued to take a small piece at a time. 


Over in the neighboring egg pot, however, the flit inside had been steadily tapping at the inside of the shell, softly, so very softly going around in a very precise circle around the whole inside of the egg just a smidge higher than the level of the sand that sat outside the egg, it wouldn’t do to hatch and get *dirty* right off the bat, after all. The occupant inside the egg had been steadily, softly, tapping the whole way around the egg until she was *sure* she was ready to greet the world on her own terms. 


It was just about now, with the adult green giving the baby bronze a ‘flyby’ and examining him, that that same adult green turned away from the bronze and, still humming, began to examine the neighboring pot. Inside the egg, the occupant could hear the adult flit outside getting closer with their humming and, deciding there was no better ‘theme song’ to take advantage of to make her entrance the tiny newborn green shifted in her egg and..quite literally raised the roof of the egg up off the bottom part as if lifting the lid off a box, both ‘halves’ of the egg perfectly intact and with a beautifully straight ‘seam’ where the top of the egg separated the whole way around. 


But sadly, with this pot still covered the top of the egg only had a very small amount of room to move up, causing the green to bump the egg shell against the top of the lid making it shift just the tiniest amount on the pot. Surprised that her perfect entrance had been *ruined* the green in the egg still in it’s covered pot gave an indignant and hungry mew that was still a bit muffled by the pot’s lid. Thankfully, the adult green was now staring at the neighboring egg pot most intently and the humming had increased in intensity. 


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When Andreya turned to look at her, Shalia was suddenly aware of just how kissably close they were.  All she’d need to do would be to move her own head just the slightest amount and steal that kiss that had been denied her, but which she felt wouldn’t be protested about.  But… now was not the time for that, between the hungry hatchling and, especially, the shocks the other Candidate had received that day.  So instead of closing that narrow margin of space, all Shalia did was return the grin and continue to enjoy the privilege of being there to see Andreya Impress her handsome little bronze.  And maybe hope a similar opportunity would present itself in the future.


When Andreya shivered once more, Shalia’s hands unconsciously started rubbing the bare shoulders they’d been holding, to warm her up.  She quickly realized what she was doing and stopped that nonsense - after all, it was highly unlikely that she was cold, given the warmth of the hearth - but her thumbs continued to lightly stroke the skin beneath.  Shalia looked around at the flits still humming, wondering why, and it took her a few moments to realize they weren’t focused on the bronze in front of the two humans… but the second egg pot next to them, and she abruptly tensed up, thumbs coming to a standstill as she stared at the pot.


“Andreya,” she whispered, “I hope you saved some meat, because I’m pretty sure this handsome boy is about to have a sister.”


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