A long time has passed since the day the Searchriders from Alabaster Weyrhold came for W'ren. I remember the day well - It was the day J'rin first told me he loved me.

Maiahn smiled, glowing warmly with the rememberance of that day. The tailor had comforted the young girls, and brighened their day with his antics. Maiahn swept a loose strand of her long dark hair away from her face, and looked again at the hide.

I'd grown up at Two River Hold, and had spent many turns assisting in the kitchens. I developed an eye for quality, and have often been called reliable and trustworthy. I am not certain I'd call myself reliable, but I do pride myself on finishing what I've started.

Out in the bowl, the dragons were drilling with their riders, displaying their skills for the Lord Holder again, most likely. In her mind's eye, Maiahn could see each blue and green turn and weave as if she were watching. With this vivid display going on in her mind, she lifted, her quill and wrote another line.

When J'rin - then Jayrin - had told me we were invited to the Hatching, I was very excited. Little did I know that Amitath would soon claim his attention. His blue is very sure of himself - and has a keen sence of who would make a good Candidate. He chose me while he was still wet from Hatching.

Maiahn stood up from the desk and walked around. She was slim, and had a gentle beauty. Her dark eyes twinkled when she laughed, and her dark hair complimented her dark olive-toned skin. When she was dressed in J'rin's handiwork, she felt like ten-thousand marks.

Why then did she feel this way? Maiahn looked in the polished mirror hanging in her room. Was she really cut out to be a candidate? Or was Amitath waware of their connection, and Searched her to keep her by his side?

Silly girl. came Amitath's voice in her mind. I wouldn't have picked you if you weren't meant to Ride. Do not worry - your time will come.

Maiahn wondered how Amitath had known of her worry - why he'd been listening to her. She sat down, and picked up the pen.

Amitath says my 'time will come' and until the day those eggs hatch, I sit and wait. Alabaster is a pleasant place, yet I long for the grassy hills near Two River, and the shound the Sier makes as it is torn from the Dehsa at Verran's rock. Truly, there is no place like home.

Maiahn hears a sound behind her, and turns as J'rin walks in, a small bouquet of flowers in his hand.

"I heard you needed a bit of cheering up." the Searchrider said.

Maiahn stood up, moving away from the desk like someoe in a dream. At that moment, Maiahn knew that home was wherever J'rin was.

A few days later, J'rin told Maiahn that there was a Gather at Bynor hold, and that he planned to go. Of course, Maiahn was invited to go along. The clutch wouldn't be hatching for at least a sevenday - no risk of missing the Hatching. It had all been authorized via the weyrlingmaster and Lord Holder Engell. Maiahn was fully awayre that her beloved J'rin had probably pulled some strings to get her away from Alabaster for a Vacation - the envious hateful glares she got from others when she spent time with J'rin all but confirmed it.

Brusing her long dark hair away from her almond eyes, Maiahn waited for J'rin. Her dance gown was packed carefully in a bag; she was dressed in a yellow blouse and a blue-grey wool skirt -- typical warm clothes for Betweening in. Amitath backwinged to land, and Maiahn slipped into her riding jacket and ran out to meet J'rin. These were the happy times in Maiahn's life -- the moments she could spend with J'rin. She wondered what life would be like when -- Amitath assured her it was a when, not an if, but Maiahn still had her doubts -- she Impressed. Better make the most of today, Maiahn thought. Never know when things are going to change.

The Gather was in full swing when they arrived, and Maiahn ran off to change into her finery. Amitath flew off to bask in the sun on the fireheights until he was needed, leaving J'rin to stand by himself and wait.

Inside the hold, Maiahn was shown to a room where she could change. Many dragonriding ladies changed upon arrival rather than freeze Between. A tentative knock came as Maiahn fastened the last of the timy hooks. "Yes?" she called, turning to the doorway. One of ht eholder girls peeked in.

"Wo'ld ya like me t' do yor hair?"

Maiahn smiled kindly. The girl was perhaps 11 or 12, and seemed happy. "If you like." she replied, and the thin girl came in with a bunch of tiny lavendar flowers in her slim-fingered hand. With deft fingers, the girl wove the flowers and Maiahn's dark hair into a braided corwn about her head. Maiahn smiled at her reflection in the polished mirror, and then at the girl. She presseed a mark int othe girl's hand, and swept out of the room. "Thank you." she said,

The girl looked at the 1/8 mark -- four times what the other ladies had given her for doing their hair, if they'd given her anything at all. She called an exhubarant thanks after Maiahn, and bounced out of the room, glowing with her good fortune.

Maiahn stepped out of hte hold wearing the inky blue-purple gown J'rin had lovingly crafted for her, a bright smile on her face. She looked fabulous, and J'rin was stunned. "M' lady." he said, bowing to kiss her hand. Of course, she blushed. Together they explored the gaher, drank some splendid jooices -- candidates aren't supposed to drink wine or quikal -- and some tasty morsels as well as the ever-present bubbly pies. No gather would be complete without them.

After a while, the dancing began, and, of course, J'rin and Maiahn graced the dance floor. Several songs were played through, and they never left the floor. The harpers struck into a complex ballad (unsuitable for dancing to) so the dancers were forced to rest. J'rin went to get them a cool drink, so Maiahn sat and looked about. A flock of children, all about 9 or 10, ran about playing a game in the grassy area near where the dragons landed. Maiahn sighed. Leave it to a trip back to East Rock to make her homesick. At Two River, she'd been learning to instruct from the resident harpers, and often watched the younglings when their parents were busy. All of that had ceased abruptly when Amitath searched her -- and now, after months, she missed it.

Maiahn watched in horror as one boy tripped, fell, and was trampled by his playmates. Maiahn was off the bench, and running towards the field, skirts hiked, before the boy's tormented screams reached the Gather. His playmates had circled about him, not so sure what to do, and Maiahn had to push her way through them. The boy's eyes were closed, and his left leg was bent at an obscene angle; broken. He he had fallen unconcious from the pain, and was no longer screaming. Maiahn felt along the leg -- oddly, it was a clean break. It didn't take much to set the bone, and by the time she'd done it, a healer was there to supervise. "Neatly done." he said, complimenting her. "I'll take it from here." Maiahn bowed out, and went to clean up. To her surprise, a gathering of folks applauded her for the quick response. She blushed deeply, desperately wishing for a place to hide.

She found J'rin near the dance square where he'd left her. "Amitath gave me the play-by-play. I would'be been there, but I had to beg the aunties to open the coldroom to get juice -- the stalls only have spirits this time of night." J'rin explained, handing her the tall cool glass.

"Thanks." she said, raising her glass to him before taking a long drink. She sat down beside him, rosy from her exertions, and glowing.

"Are you ready to go back to Alabaster Weyrhold?" J'rin said softly after a few moments of comfortable silence. Maiahn hesitated. Did she want to Stand?

"Amitath days he would have Searched you all over again for your bravado." J'rin said. "Pern definitely could use a girl like you on a dragon..."

Maiahn laughed out loud. "I bet you say that to all the girls!" J'rin pout on a hurt expression. "Kidding! Just Kidding. Let me change and get my jacket..."

When Alabaster's clutch finally hatches...

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