Mirrim was in shock, completely stunned by the unexpected outcome of the evening. Being escorted from the hatching ground by the search riders with the other newly impressed weyrlings and her own beautiful Path was entirely surreal, her newly hatched dragonet wings and head still glistening wet with fluid. It was ridiculous she thought that drying cloths were not provided immediately at the exit, they’d never risk a human baby that way. Path interrupted her with insistence on food and lots of it, her rider snorted at that, clearly the organisation had been decided by dragon brains with food being first provision.
By the time that her newly hatched dragonet had slipped into a deep sleep it had become inescapably clear that the steady stream of well wishers to the new pairs had been notably lacking for her and Path. There had certainly been a couple, Menolly being one of them, but the tone had been more restrained, the congratulations of others less effusive. In fact the only two who had seemed wholly delighted for her and baby Path were Menolly and T’gellan and while nothing could dampen her elation at impressing the little green (quite the most beautiful green in the Weyr) she was beginning to process events and realise that there were implications to her and Path’s union that may be over complicated or questioned by some others. Notably the older Weyrleaders and disappointed candidates of prestigious bloodlines.
With Path sated and settled Mirrim got to her feet, it would do her charge no good to neglect herself and avoid the feast and her reputation no favours either. Far better to go out proudly and celebrate than to avoid notice as though she had something to hide! Path was worth celebrating and whatever was said no one could un-impress, the dragons always chose rightly.
Going to dust herself off the girl was frustrated to discover the sorry state of her dress, which had been intended for working in the hot kitchens and not changed from the morning’s preparations in anticipation of returning to that task.
It was marked with grease stains, bright fruit juice, splashed with some kind of meat sauce and smelled of the sweat of dozens of women. Practical by nature Mirrim was accustomed to looking as though she worked hard, because she did and saw no reason to be ashamed of showing it. Today was not a normal day though, or even a normal hatching day and she would not be surrounded by those who knew Weyrlife or could be trusted to look past the dress worn. Today she was for the first time representing herself and Path, she wanted people to know that her partner had chosen well, and the little green deserved a proper reception.
The partition curtain was drawn back without warning and as she turned to berate the unannounced intruder for risking waking the baby green saw T’gellan’s long frame looking uncharacteristically hesitant, noting that he was carrying something she glanced back at Path and gestured to him to join them.
The bronze rider was fidgeting in the way that Mirrim saw in him only when he was nervous about something. Curious.
He didn’t wait for her to ask about his bundle instead thrusting it at her and clearing his throat
“Here. I thought you might want this, don’t know much about dresses really but Brekke does so..well Monarth and I..we thought you should look like a rider tonight not an um…” the poor man blushed realising that he was starting to dig a hole for himself but catching her eye saw merriment dancing there and the tension between them broke ebbing suddenly away.
Mirrim took the dress gladly and smiled at him,
“Go on man, you never miss a feast and I’m sure that you’re starting to fade away in front of my eyes.” Surprising herself as much as T’gellan she leaned up and kissed his cheek lightly, “I’ll be right up. Thank you for the kindness, and thank Monarth please.”
T’gellan grinned as he left her temporary sleeping place and went to the halls feeling particularly pleased with himself and his bronze though unsure of why a dress for Mirrim had bothered Monarth so.
She needed one. It was upsetting her and so also the little one. Path should not be upset”
That wasn’t much help to his rider but it was the truth and so Monarth thought of clothes no more. Humans had hides far too thin for daily living but their interest in garments beyond warmth was odd.
Mirrim stroked the gown thoughtfully watching her friend disappear. She was more grateful than she would have expected, not only for the gown but for the sign that someone had thought about her and Path and done so without considering it a dilemma but a momentous occasion for the newly impressed pair. It was fortunate indeed that T’gellan had enlisted Brekke’s help as her foster mother had always had impeccable taste and the gown was one of her best- well suited to the celebration, T’gellan on the other hand couldn’t be trusted to choose his own boots.
Made in warm autumn colours it was light enough to dance in but warm enough to wear in Benden, beautifully soft and with a natural drape that accentuated her curves without advertising the way some ‘noble’ women did. Wrapped in the dress Brekke had placed a matching hip belt crafted of interlaced copper leaves and next to it a comb, the sight of which brought Mirrim’s hand involuntarily to her head as she realised hair hung in front of her face and wisps escaped the sensible braid which now contained tiny fragments of eggshell and sand with some matting from fluid. She owed so much to Brekke and if anyone had a good reason to distance themselves from her impression of green Path it was the ex-goldrider, yet instead she was giving encouragement and her blessing to Mirrim and Path.
Manora did not tolerate waste or inefficiency and in her turns working under the Headwoman Mirrim had learned to do everything in accordance with that philosophy.
Looking at her perfect, fragile dragonet she cast off all her insecurity and doubt and drew on the warmth and love that was there in the core of her mind raising her chin and stepping out in confidence. She may not trust herself yet but she did trust Path and tonight that was enough.
T’gellan’s heart skipped a beat when he saw Mirrim walk through the doors of the feast hall. He hadn’t noticed his young friend becoming the strong woman he saw before him, familiarity clouding his recognition of her growth from ‘pretty’ to attractive and breathtaking. The tilt of her chin was challenging and could have been deemed impertinent but in his view it was Mirrim at her best; bold and honest, fierce and protective but rarely had she been so exposed.
He wondered if she’d seen him staring when she blushed and turned her head but was suddenly struck by the awkward quiet that settled over the crowd as others turned to stare for considerably less kind reasons, the strained silence broken by some caprine faced Holder’s son shouting unfounded accusations and insults. His face looked blotchy and red but whether from wine, wailing or plain misfortune was hard to judge, T’gellan felt his jaw clench as a second failed candidate began to heckle the newest Greenrider. His hands balled into fists as he focused on restraining himself, this was her moment and Mirrim of all people would not appreciate having a handy brownrider rushing in to defend her honour to hard baked eejits.
He had to stifle a chuckle when she finally decided that ignoring the boys was a failing strategy and left the two red faced and speechless, it would seem that the caprine had a personal grudge after his advances were rejected by ‘the help’ and having his personal hygiene questioned publicly was not how he expected a mere girl to respond to bullying.
He was proud of her. Monarth rumbled deep in his throat in agreement.
Path chose well.
Mirrim found it took a significant effort to overcome the habit of leaving the primary feasting areas to join the kitchen staff and and children as she was so used to doing and sat at the table was unable to remain still and not fidget. Experience informed her that there was much to be done and more to organise, reason was that as with any newborn creature there would be few opportunities to eat and appreciate her food for some time to come. Therefore it would be foolish to waste this one and too she was aware of just how much time and effort had gone into the celebration and it was novel to taste the dishes hot.
She tried to ignore the snide and purposefully loud comments from down the bench about greed and abuse of privilege, feeling the burn of slander until one theory caught her attention and made it clear how ridiculous they were being. The very idea that the Weyrleader would pay favours to young women intending to follow Manora in exchange for sex was bizarre and blatantly false. Even she couldn’t suppress a giggle at the odd excuses people tried to concoct before being willing to confront their own failures or accept inadequacies. Dragons for all their foibles often made more sense than a large proportion of humans.
Tolly hummed at her then, requesting a slice of her meat and effectively drawing her out of her introspection.
Glancing at the platform she caught the eye of Menolly and was subtly beckoned by her friend as the harpress settled into her seat and stroked her guitar- Dawnsong if she judged correctly. As the first chords whispered from the players Mirrim smiled and wove through the mass of people to take her place on the dance floor, Menolly was a sly woman and a good friend choosing the new rider’s favourite dance to open her set. It was rather a pity that she was so often unable to participate herself but never seemed to leave her any less graceful when she did grace the dancing squares.
It was impossible not to be enveloped in the joy of her impression as she moved and reveled in the music and rhythm, adrenaline surged through her again and she was untouchable, invincible, she was Path’s and Path was hers, nothing else mattered.
When she felt the new mind linked to hers begin to stir and flutter Mirrim retired to the temporary place in weyrling barracks feeling far better and at peace, confident of her new role and next journey but more than anything else tired. Exhausted.
As soon as she had hung up the dress and settled the baby green back to sleep Mirrim lay down and was asleep almost before her head hit the pillow. Tomorrow was the first day of a new life and she was ready for it, together they would show Pern exactly what female fighting riders were capable of!