Stouthearted Believer



Date: 8/27/10 (IC: The night before the Hatchings)
Location: EW: Weyrling Barracks and Kitchen
Synopsis: Ahnika reasserts her will, believing in herself, in her love for Max, and her dragon, whenever she may come and find her.
Rating: PG
Vignette Writer: Ahnika

Another night of restless sleep for Ahnika has the young woman sitting up on her cot in the weyrling barracks. She eyes the “Snoring Seven” briefly, but she knows they had nothing to do with her bad dreams. At least this time she didn’t wake up on a scream. Rubbing the back of her neck with the last of her unease from her nightmare finally fading, her thoughts drifted to her warm and moderately comfortable cot, something that she knew Max didn’t have out there somewhere.

Ahnika knows he can take care of himself. She believes in him. That doesn’t mean she likes the thought of him sleeping on the cold, and probably wet, uncomfortable ground. That doesn’t mean that Phineus might not get the jump on him either. Of course, more likely, knowing Max, he’ll have Phineus porcine-tied and trussed up over the back of a runner and coming home soon, but that only set her mind to worrying down a different path, that of Phineus’ return and what it could mean. Would they take his word over hers? Would they kick her from Candidacy?

The thought of forever missing the opportunity for what has since become her life’s dream, a secretly and shamefully self-serving one at that, being bonded to a dragon, being needed forever, having someone that close with nothing but unconditional love for you until the end of days… it was nearly enough to cause that tight sting in the back of her eyes, signaling the beginning of fresh tears. She purses her lips and blinks the sting away, her fists clenching in her lap. No one would keep her from that. No one would keep her from her dragon, whether it comes in one of these clutches or another. She’d never let anyone, let alone a creep like Phineus, keep her from being found by that noble dragon who was for her, and none other.

No one.

Ahnika exhales a long, slow breath and gets control of herself, relaxing her hands.

More nasally sounds coming from the ‘Snoring Seven’ has the redhead sighing and flipping back the covers to stand up, slide her feet into her slippers and grabbing her wrapper to put over her nightshift with a softly muttered swear. Sitting there on her cot was not going to be helpful or productive for anyone, let alone herself.

Yet, Ahni travels quickly, trying to keep to the lighted and more populated passages as she makes her way to the kitchens. There she finds the night cook, good and thoroughly up to her elbows in kneading dough. The redhead gets a curious look cast at her, and the cook seems about to tell Ahni to get out of there, there’d be no sneaking food while she was on duty, but after seeing Ahni wash her hands and pick up some of the work that the night cook had to leave off, with a grunt the cook goes back to kneading dough.

To be frank, Ahnika is grateful for the company and the lack of conversation at the same time. She doesn’t want to be alone and she isn’t particularly feeling chatty either. She sets her hands to working on something productive, getting the morning porridge ready, putting the large pot over the fire, tossing her long braid over her shoulder before it accidentally catches on the flames there. Then she begins putting in the water and milk base, respectful of but largely ignoring the night cook’s similar wanderings around the kitchen. Both women, one grizzled and jaded and the other younger and hopeful, seem too content to simply be preoccupied with their thoughts while they work as not to want to disturb it with words—just making their way about their business and through their own thoughts.

For Ahni, these thoughts were predominately now of Max, having decided to stop worrying about things beyond her control and determined to buck up and not let this situation with Phineus get the best of her, certainly not let it cost her the chance to Impress. With a steady stroke of her hand stirring the large pot of porridge, Ahnika mentally tries to calculate the number of days and nights Max had been gone, the number of days and nights she hadn’t been able to see him, to touch him, to hold him. She lost track, much of that due to her own personal and private demons and finding some inner strength to cling to under the storm of self-doubt and uncertainty, reasserting her own will once more. She could and would champion herself. Ahnika meant what she said to Indira. She wouldn’t live a life of fear just because one man couldn’t keep his hands to himself against her wishes. She’d learn from this as she learned from most everything in life, and she’d grow. She’d adopt more sensible behavior, as she already had with avoiding walking alone in the dark. She’d learn to defend herself physically, just as soon as Max got back and could start lessons. She’d be okay. They’d be okay. Everything would be okay in the end. No one, man or woman, would hold her back, would hold her down. Ahnika breathed, feeling stronger and more energized than she had in days.

No one would hold her down. Not herself, and definitely not herself and her dragon, whenever she may come to her. Nothing to hold them back. No one would hold them down.

And neither would she and Max be held down as a couple, not if she had anything to say about it. Ahni smiles softly, staring into the cauldron of water and milk beginning to boil. She believed it when she told Max that she could love both him and her dragon at the same time, that she had enough love within her to share and be shared. She would prove to him that she still believed in them. All three of them. No, four. Yes. Four. Max’s daughter deserved to be a part of what was blossoming here. She would cross whatever miles or leagues or fathoms necessary for them, for them all to be together, no matter how long it took. It was just… Right.

However long. Whatever distance. Distance. The word has Ahnika sighing briefly. She really missed Max. She stirs in the oats. She was worried about Max. She needed to know he was okay. She needed him here. Not out there. Somewhere.

Getting the porridge to a suitable simmering point, she leaves it and begins to help the other cook with the breakfast breads, mixing up some more dough into a big bowl and kneading it before putting it out to roll while lost in her thoughts about her Candidacy and Max.

She needed to hold him tonight. Ahnika closes her eyes, remembering the feeling of holding him and being held by him, and when she reopens her eyes, she looks down at the dough in front of her and laughs, drawing a curious look from the night cook. Distracted as she was, she had made a pie crust, not biscuits for breakfast. After a moment of consideration, she goes back to work, eventually completing the pie and putting it in the oven. Maybe Max will be back today and can partake in some pie, she smiles to herself, holding him in her thoughts if not in her arms.

Maybe, just maybe, she’ll see him. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll be holding him again … tonight.

Regardless, everything would be okay. Everything would be Right. She believed in that.

She believed.

Closing Credits Theme Music: Vanessa Carlton – “A Thousand Miles”

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