====October 23, 2013
====Hannah seeks out a mindhealer for her nightmares.

Who Hannah
What Hannah seeks out a mindhealer for her nightmares.
When Afternoon, There are 0 turns, 10 months and 27 days until the 12th pass.
Where Healer's Office, Southern Weyr


"… in time they will forget." My voice trails to a whisper, distracted by the view seen out of the square that serves as a window. Rukbat's fire is bright on a summer's day, driving into this small, cloistered office in a determined effort to seize, overtake. Laughter pours through the portal to freedom, tempting, tantalizing. Weyrling dragonets at play; D'tri trying to chase his bronze down the bowl's length. Desmeth, stalking someone who wears a hat that calls to his fancy. Yulena — Yules, I mentally correct — holding a mug of klah between capable hands.

Patches of bright blue sky peek through the overlay of marshmallow puff clouds, though I barely glimpse a triangle of the sky. I see more of the greenery that surrounds, the grey of the stone. The oppressive sensation of being trapped in a cell of my own making. With effort, I pull my attention from the draw of elusive freedom to the kind face that looks at me from across a weathered desk.

In some ways, he reminds me of G'deon — kind, soft with a hint of steel held beneath. Pale eyes are watery with age, but then who else to go to than the most wizened of the mindhealers; the one who's seen the most of a long life to quell the torments of youth.

"Do you think that's what they want?" They is a nebulous concept that the man doesn't try to define. I feel the pressure of gratitude before my eyes pull away from the weathered face, the crows feet that spread out from the corners of his eyes, from the steel grey hair that clouds like dandelion puff at the head of a weed. I can tell that it was once raven black — Pull yourself together. It's a mental scold to gather scattered thoughts that tumble like autumn leaves on the wind.

"Yes." It's a simple answer for a complicated concept. "It is best." I assert. It's a decision I have made and none can sway me. My gaze is steadily held, meeting his watery myopic blues without flinching. He can't see the butterflies that beat against the walls of my stomach, or the way that my pulse races for the decisions made.

He is across the desk. In the quiet, the weyrlings laughter drifts in on the summer's breeze. It is hot. My skin weeps, and my hair sticks uncomfortably to my neck. The light shirt and skirt that I have worn to this meeting are not light enough as pools of sweat gather in embarrassing places. Frustratingly enough, the man seated so calmly across the desk looks as fresh as the new-growth of spring, dewy and soft.

Something ticks in the office. It distracts me. My thoughts already want to wander, they need no further encouragement. It seems, already, like an eternity has come and gone since my statement of assertion. In reality, however, it's been only seconds. Enough to draw three good, deep breaths and expel them. My sense of time is sometimes stretched, warped, twisted. I have told no one of this. I wonder if the jump has done this to me.

The Healer opens his mouth but doesn't say anything — or chooses to say nothing. Or chooses his battles to take on. In a sense, I am nothing but his problem. Another problem on his desk. Another piece of hide that's slipped into the pile that sits on his desk. Somewhere, my name is written down with his perceptions. What will he say?

Will he compare me to Vergora?

Even to myself, a lie can't shield my mind from the shudder that accompanies that question. Vergora scares me. She could easily have been what I would have become had life not been kinder. Had Saria not been there. Had Quarith been weaker.

"Saria!" Hannah calls frantically, "Saria! Help! Something is wrong.."
"Quari, hold her, shardit!"

Dhiammarath's dam, holding as we made that fateful fall after that visit to Ista Hold. An Ista Hold that's barely a blip on the records of this time. An Ista Hold that these people don't care about. At least, the extraction of time has dulled the fear of what's happened, because it's the past. My thoughts have drifted, but I follow their vein —

"Hannah." His voice is rough, like crushed velvet. Soft and gentle. A voice that inspires confiding, that makes me want to divulge my secrets. Do I see the glint in his eye?

The sound of my name is enough to yank me from my distracted thoughts, still I fight it kicking and screaming, clawing my way back to this session. 'Session'. Who calls them that? I wonder if Elehu is still alive. If she survived the comet. If she jumped forward.

If, if, if.

"Y-yes. I'm listening." Blatant lie. Because I'm not.

The window is a siren's song for my flighty attention.

"I can't help you if you won't talk to me." Light as the tone is on the surface, admonition is deep. It lashes me and makes me wince. "I can't help you if I don't know why you're here."

"The nightmares — night terrors. I want them to stop." There. I sound firm. It's all about perception, right?

"Let's talk about them, then."

A bracing breath fills my lungs, the tapping from the lower right hand corner of his office an unending annoyance, but I block all of this out to focus on the kindly face that hovers above the weathered desk. I would run — I guess i am a coward, fleeing from the tough spots of my life — if it were not for a pair of dark eyes that promise comfort. Support. That these nightmares hurt.

Like a sullen teenager — something I have never been — I shrug. Play coy. Mentally run while shifting in the leather-bound chair. My thighs stick to it and somewhere, I feel the trickle of sweat slowly sliding down the curve of my calf. It tickles, and feels gross. That small square, paned in wavering glass pushed open to let the breeze in, holds all the freedom in Pern. T'ral has joined Yules and D'tri and while I can see Jiamoth, I can't see Cerise. I can hear E'don, but not see him. I can hear their voices, braided into so many sounds of joy that's so much better than this chair.

The knobs of my spine press into the back of the chair, which only makes me swelter more. "It's like this."

Escape. I think only of escape. I try not to imagine — No. It is best. The thought is severed before I let myself even consider it.

With effort, I unbind the hooks of the temptation of that small window into a whimsical summer's day, my eyes fastening on the healer's kindly face. It's a kind of vulnerability, this, but not the same as the other. Instead of focusing on his eyes, and meeting the gaze that attempts to see too much — instead I focus on the crows feet. The subtle play of shadows that gathers into the tiny lines that deepen when he's thinking or smiling. Not that I've seen him smile much.

Not that I've given him cause to, either. In the short time I've been stuck in this room —

His patience is unending.

Finally, I start talking. My words slowly unfurl like a tightly wound roll of ticker-tape, spinning around us into the quiet office. A small bug wiggles its way into the stack of hides, the last kick of the insectoid legs before the round little body disappears is enough to give my words a slight stumble. I don't let this distract me, my words coming with less confidence and more emotion as time wears on. Such a fickle creature, time. Wearing and weathering; bolstering and growing.

I talk.

He listens.

And when I leave, I leave with an appointment to come again. It is not a miraculous conclusion that he comes to; rather, it's a beginning. I no more like talking to him than I do admitting that my nightmares are a real problem that gathers like a pressurized storm on the horizon of my life. I think it's because she can sense Thread coming, but it's more than that.

It's late afternoon. Q'fex and Lendai are meeting with a representative from Benden. Nora is working with Renalde on what we'd spoken about. The weyrlings are long gone, the bowl empty of their laughter, their life. Bailey is dealing with a crisis in the crafter's quarters. Standing in the bowl, feeling Rukbat start to burn the pale skin exposed at the nape of my neck where my hair has been pulled up, I hesitate. Then slowly, I make my way back to my weyr, trailing my fingers across the edges of the furniture, until I reach the cavern where my bedroom is.

Falling onto the bed, the stone provides a cooling shelter that alleviates my heated, flushed skin. With my arms spread wide, I stare at the stone ceiling for a long while. Everyone is busy. Drills, meetings, diplomatic missions; no one will notice if I succumb to a nap.

Gathering it up to press my face into, I close my eyes and breath deeply. The darkness and shadows are comforting. If anyone asks, I'll claim to be sick. It's my secret. I suppose, it is our secret. Curling into a ball in the middle of the bed, this indulgence is allowed. The Healer's words run through my mind, reminding me of what we talked about, of what misconceptions are, and of what burdens I should not be holding onto.

Sometime into the dusk, I fall asleep.

And I sleep deeply, barely stirring when my shoes are removed and I am gently taken care of, tucked in.

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