Elle, Sidonie


Elle's coming in for the night; Sidonie's getting ready for the day. They meet at dawn and leave as friends.


It is before dawn of the twenty-eighth day of the first month of the third turn of the 12th pass. It is the eighty-eighth day of Winter and 26 degrees. It is a bright, sunny day.


Stables, Igen Weyr

OOC Date


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The powerful odor of hot runner lies heavy in the air here, and even the relative open of the stable design - roomy stalls, lofty arches, this is incongruously one of the best designed buildings in the entire Weyr, legacy of a long-ago Weyrleader of Herder origins - cannot altogether dispel the stink of Animal. The Stables serve for the Weyr's population of runners, and house a small menagerie of other creatures. Avians, caprines and porcines all have their homes here, and all add to the earthy feel of the place.

Just past dawn, where Rukbat's first blush of light is still fragile and fresh, full of roses and oranges and hints of butter yellow to signify the day's full awakening finds Sidonie nestled in with her runner — a mare of exceptional runnerflesh that has little to do with her breeding project and everything to do with her heart. Heartless War snorts, stamping as the light grows and stretches across the shadowed stables. Alone, Sidonie has chanced letting the scarf that covers her hair slip to expose the pale strands to the morning light. The blue material puddles around her neck, straight locks of hair framing her face while she stands, feeding the runner from the palm of her hand. Soft whispers send a sussuration of sound dancing on this early morning air that trembles with winter chill. The herder is dressed in a loose, thigh-length long dark blue tunic and baggy, tan trousers that are more skirtlike than pantlike. Serviceable boots complete the picture of a woman spending time with a treasured friend before starting a day of work. "Shhh, shhh."

For a starcrafter, dawn often signifies the ending of a day rather than a new beginning, and Elle does not subvert this fact by her presence in the stables. She is here with her own mare, fresh from the trail and weary from a ride under the moonless darkness of a rare dual new moon. Starlight is lovely, but it is too dim to correctly navigate grounded obstacles. Celestial follows Elle docile as a lamb, her exquisite lines moving fluidly in the dim light of the hour. "Coming behind," Elle's quiet voice issues forth to not startle Sidonie as she moves past where the Herder stands, aiming for the cross-ties not far from where the blonde feeds Heartless War.

Dawn is a magical time where one existence meets another: day and night. In that grey haze of the in-between, the hush of pre-dawn brings with it the patter of full dawn as people awaken. Sidonie does startle, but only because that is her nature and because she is only all too aware of how unfettered she is in this misty land of in-between. So quick is the movement to pull up the head scarf to once more be modestly adorned that sprigs of straight blond hair stick out of the sides. "Oh! Oh…" The herder journeyman half-turns to let the pair pass, though she would be remiss if she did not notice the exquisite lines of Elle's runner. "She is lovely," quiet voice whispers into the shared air between as Sidonie gives Heartless War a final pat before withdrawing from the stall, the runner thoroughly spoiled.

No fear of judgment from this bare-headed hoyden, who smiles easily to Sidonie; Elle is distracted by the familiar and complex juggling of unbridling Celestial without losing control of the dished-face runner. It's accomplished after a moment, the starcrafter shooting a proud and fond smile to the herder at her words. "Thank you. My father got her for me… I would have never been able to afford anything like her otherwise." There's a wistful element there, but the starcrafter doesn't seem to stew in the spring of that subtle melancholy. "Not near as flashy as yours, though." Celestial's understated bay coat being near-drab against the splashed-white of Heartless War's coloration, that is.

"She was my present for walking the tables, given to me by my father," Sidonie's soft voice is fond, though it's soft not because of a deference to the quiet but because of the woman's nervous and proper manners. Pulling the stall door quietly closed, she leans against it, slender fingers curled around the edges while she takes a last look at the runner. Turning, the herder watches the starcrafter from the corner of her eye where her face is safely, partially masked by the blue scarf that winds around her head. "I couldn't have afforded her either. Even the runners I breed are purchased by my father." Obviously, it is her father that is the one with all the affluence. "My name is Sidonie," she near-whispers drifting closer to Elle and Celstial. "Flashy isn't everything. Clean lines, good conformation. She's still beautiful." Then again, Sidonie might just be really into runners.

There's a brief moment of startlement, and Elle swings 'round to affix Sidonie with that expression: "Really? That is remarkable — same here." She's busied by the tasks before her, uncinching the saddle, running up stirrups, carefully lifting it off of Celestial. "You breed?" Her voice is curious as she settles her tack on a rack, flipping the saddle pad upside down over the top of the saddle to dry, wiping the bit off before looping the bridle and reins over the hook. "Elle," she responds, "Starcraft. It is lovely to meet you, Sidonie. Thank you. I find her mind is more beautiful than her build… I've seen Igenbreds that are finicky and flighty. She has all the spirit, but sweetness, too." Elle's smile is soft as she picks up a curry-comb, Celestial's sweat not enough to rate a sluicing.

For a brief moment, Sidonie's smile is wide and bright and full of life. That is before she ducks her head and nervously tucks those strands of hair behind her ear, hidden within the folds of blue cloth that surrounds her head. "We have fathers of similar minds." Sweetly said, softly stated, before the journeywoman reaches a hand out towards Celestial, but pausing just before getting close enough to touch as a look is given towards Elle for permission. "It is lovely to meet you, Elle. Starcraft. That is lovely. If I had a better head for figures…" Alas, Sidonie's talents lie in working with animals. "I do. In fact, I work a little with the Igenbred. I am hoping to breed them against a few breeds of warmblood that I can then filter back into the Champagne racers to come up with a breed better suited to the desert terrain while also competing in the Thoroughbred races — " Blushing, the girl halts, and adds a little more quietly. "I get carried away at times."

"Apparently." Elle doesn't expound on the topic of her father, though the wry twist of her lips indicates the typical kind of desultory disparagement that most girls her age have for their parents. She inclines her chin slightly for Sidonie's gesture, but Celestial is already stretching her velveteen nose outwards to the Herder, lambent eyes large and as inquisitive as the flare of nostril in that soft nose. Her ears are pricked, thick forelock falling over one eye and forgotten in the runner's greeting. It's a binary question, really: do you have treats, and if no, can you find someone who has them? Typical runner. Elle absorbs Sidonie's words with a thoughtful cast to her expression. "No, no, that sounds fascinating. I wish sometimes that I had apprenticed to the Herdercraft. I'm not terribly familiar, but that sounds sensible. The desert ability and endurance of the Igenbred with the bone and speed of a Thoroughbred, right? Maybe more level-headed?" She hazards her thoughts with a glance to the Herder that is almost as inquisitive as Celestial's snufflings.

Sidonie's touch is soft and gentle, the girl's spirit sweet if a bit high-strung and nervous. "Yes. That's it exactly. The level-headed is important, but still with enough fire in the spirit to want to win the races." From the depths of the voluminous tunic, she produces a sugar cube and holds it out for Celestial to nibble. Treats; it's how the herder bribes all her runners, see. All important fact, this. "My father's interests," quietly murmured with only the quickest of glances to Elle, "lie in racing, but I'm hoping to eventually attain a master's knot in breeding and training." Briefly do teeth catch her lower lip, "But surely you enjoy the starcraft? It is a very worthwhile craft that aids us in times of Thread." Demure, polite, humble; it is clear that Sidonie is very much both a product of nowtime and of very, very conservative parents.

Elle enjoys conservative parents but a more liberal upbringing, thanks to the naturally less-restrictive boundaries of a crafthall. They are stringent in their own way, but hardly comparative to Igen's climate of conservatism. Celestial thinks that Sidonie is the best person in the entire world, lipping that sugar cube off the woman's palm with the gentlest brush of whiskered muzzle against skin. The crunching is loud when she goes to work on the sugar, and Elle raises up on her tiptoes to peer around the mare's withers to see what she's doing before flashing Sidonie a quick smile. "Making sure she wasn't getting into anything she didn't need to," the diminuitive starcrafter says before bending her arm to the task of currying the sweat away from the mare's hide. "I love the starcraft more than anything," Elle replies completely honestly. "I would never imagine life without it. And, well. You can't win races without a great foundation, right? It seems to me all the skill is in the breeding and training, and not in slingshotting around a track."

"Of course," Sidonie's smile is sincere and unfettered by the chains of shyness as interacting with her animal of choice pulls out the willful woman from the trappings of a timid creature. It is an interesting blend, this, and not something obviously visible. "I am unfamiliar with the craft beyond that you map and read the stars. Do you specialize," the herder falters as if suddenly realizing how rude this possibly could sound, "— what types of things do you enjoy the most?" It is not the best recovery, though cheeks turn pink at this as Sidonie gives Celestial one more gentle pat. Grateful to continue on to stable ground, the herder takes a few steps to put Elle back within easy visible range and offers a small smile, "This is true. I do take pride in my work and hope that I can do my family and my mentor proud. Privately, I think my father is more hoping to fill his coffers than really caring about the end result." Of her life's work: this is left unstated to hover in the air between them.

There is a smile hidden by the svelte line of Celestial's trim croup, as Elle leans over to clean out a hoof packed with the sandy dirt of Igen's trails. "We do specialize," she promptly replies. "There are celestial cartographers, for instance, that track the minute changes in the stars, and stellar navigators who work with the Seacraft." The mare flicks her ears upon hearing her name, even out of context. "And those that study pure mathematics to understand the distances between Pern and the stars, as well as we can think. And weather. I don't need to declare a specialty until I go after my next rank, so I just try to learn as much of all of it as I can." They each have their rambles, don't they? "I find that males tend to think first with their purse strings… or something nearby." There's the sourest note to that last, close-to-racy statement, and Elle skirts Celestial's rump to pick up her far hoof.

Sidonie listens to Elle's rambling with an attentive ear, a half-smile curving her lips as a further facial indicator that she's listening. She also watches how Elle takes care of the runner, noting the gentle hands and surety of motion that leaves the herder free to relax in stance near the other girl and her runner. "Fascinating," the herder whispers, and despite the quiet word, she does sound truly like she's fascinated. The workings of other crafthalls remains generally a mystery, so it is interesting to get a glimpse into what goes on. "It is best to take your time if the passion for one singulary way doesn't present so early. For me, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to work with runners, though sometimes I wonder if I should have chosen felines or something a little more exotic." Since people like her are a dime a dozen. "Or something nearby?" That is the thing with Sidonie — in some ways, she's entirely clueless. Not that she's stupid, just that her life's experience does not lend a good education regarding the mating habits of humans. Now, someone wants to talk about the proper mating of two good-bred runners? Well then. "Males think on a lot of things that complicate a girl's life," the herder whispers, then casts a look to the side as if the mere thought, gifted to voice, would get her in trouble. "Does your father think to arrange a marriage for you?"

Elle enthusiastically nods along with Sidonie's words. "Several of my year-mates had it fixed in their minds what they wanted to study, but once they got their hands involved in it, they just didn't like it once they actually experienced it firsthand. And in my mind, you can never go wrong at a posting if you are well-rounded, and if you are well-rounded, you're more likely to get the good postings, right?" She flashes a bright smile to the Herder, surprisingly relaxed in Sidonie's presence. "Felines are prickly, and canines drool. I think you chose marvelously well." The encouraging words are issued without thought. "They think with their… re… they think with what's in their pants," she finally says, slipping only a little on her words. Speaking of what's in their pants… she pauses, a hand over Celestial's back. "No, I don't think so. But we're… a bit different, in Fort, than Igen." She studies Sidonie momentarily. "Does your father think to arrange a marriage for you?"

"That is very sound logic," Sidonie answers with a smile and look at that, even a little laugh. She is relaxing — by degrees — in Elle's presence as well, and it shows in the layer of confidence that slowly changes the girl's posture. "Thank you. I am quite happy with what I chose, but perhaps if I hadn't been expected to help with the family business, I would have liked to have been posted elsewhere." And thus, taken Elle's stance of being well-rounded in everything. "Their… ah. Oh. Oh." Oh, how Sidonie's cheeks flame as the girl — sheltered even in the crafthall in some aspects — realizes what Elle is talking about. She closes her eyes briefly as if to ward off the images created before stuttering onto the last question. "Maybe. Yes. I'm sure of it." By her expression, Sidonie isn't exactly sure what to think. That or she's still flummoxed by the tool by which men think.

"Or possibly circular… I'm not sure." Elle takes a moment to think about it, but decides the exercise is far too philosophical for the time being and turns back to her thorough grooming of Celestial. The mare's head is slowly sinking in the cross-ties, her eyes laboring closed in drowsiness. It feels good, getting brushed out! "Do they do that often around here?" she asks, curious despite herself. "Marry one off without thinking as to what you want?" Not that arranged marriages don't happen in Fort — but typically there's a little more courting than in rigid Igen society.

"Yes." Sidonei's answer is simple and simplistic in nature. "My father would want me to be happy," she comments, frowning a touch in thought, "but also he would want to make a lucrative connection. I am only unwed for so long because he indulged my desire to get a formal education in the ways of runner breeding and training. If not, then I would have been married quite a few turns ago." She folds her arms across her chest and whispers, thoughtful. "I don't know how I feel about it, except that I hope that he would choose someone fair of face and even of temper." Look, she deals in runners. So of course she's going to compare them to prized… studs.

Elle turns to lift an eyebrow, spock-like, at Sidonie. WHAT WIZARDRY IS THIS YOU SPEAK OF. "This hypothetical person is a man, not a runner for stud!" she blurts before she can think better of it. "Don't you want to at least know who…" Augh. Argh. Elle shakes her head and hides her expression by picking that last hoof, off-side fore. "Are there any men in the craft that take your fancy?" Her voice is curious again, not judging. "Someone you have a chance to actually know?" A bit plaintive, that last bit — as if she's desperately unhappy at the notion of Sidonie going off to marry someone she knows not at all.

Sidonie blushes bright red when Elle catches her at her comparisons, the young woman ducking her head so that her expression is masked behind the cloth that covers her head. In fact, she might just tug it a little further over her forehead. "I don't know if he's picked anyone out…" Her voice is barely there, breathless in the very act of defending this tradition. "… but maybe he has and hasn't told me yet." That little lip wrinkle is such a tiny sign of trepidation that speaks volumes to what the girl might actually think. "I've not had chance to meet many, ah, men. In my studies, I was very careful to distance myself." Does she nibble her lip a little? Yes. "There was one… that seemed… very… pretty…" Hardly can she even put her thoughts to words! So she turns the question on Elle: "Is there any in your craft that take your fancy?"

"You need to spend more time around men," Elle takes it upon herself to advise Sidonie. "If nothing else," SOMEONE HIT HER upside the head with a 2x4 of inspiration to talking with her fellow nowtimers, oldtimer-influenced as she may be, "You should be familiar enough with them to not shrink away from your proposed husband because he is so strange and…" She gestures futilely with her curry comb, "…masculine." It seems wholly inadequate. "But don't spend time around any blonde bronzeriders," she feels compelled to tell Sidonie, "Or brown-haired blueriders from Southern. Or any greenriders." She wrinkles her nose. "Brownriders are the only decent ones in the lot, honestly. But not female brownriders." Is she keeping up? Elle, realizing belatedly she's rattled off a great many random things, colors. "Ah. I mean. Maybe just avoid dragonriders altogether." Her head tilts and she considers the question asked, ruminating on it. "There was one of my year-mates who was damned attractive, but he was just so pompous with it. It's hard to find arrogance a compelling aesthetic."

"My father would have me not so… comfortable with men." Sidonie shifts, uncomfortably. "It is hard to be around them. Awkward. Weird. Strange." Because, listen, men look. And if they see you, they might yet disapprove. That or they'll leer and that's just as weird and awkward. "I am not so good at… " The young woman coughs and fidgets. "Stay away from dragonriders." This is clearly a point she's heard before despite being in a weyr. "Arrogance is awkward, especially when they look at you like they would like to," she makes some flailing hand gestures and finishes lamely, "see me without my covering." Say it's not so! Peeking at Elle, the herder shrugs and grins. "I like to look, though, if they don't know I'm looking." Especially the pretty ones.

"That is all fine and dandy," Elle starts, finished with the currying and starting to untangle Celestial's mane where it has knotted in a place or two, "But it is your life, and not your father's, that you are living. That you have to live with." She's persuasive, for it being her midnight and Sidonie being a person she's never met before. Brown eyes lift above the lowered expanse of the mare's neck to wordlessly back her words. "Men," she does state darkly, for all of that, "Would like us all naked and writhing if they'd have their pick." She's obviously thinking about one person in particular. Or possibly several! An impish smile for the last: "Oh, some of them are easy on the eyes, aren't they?" Is that a bit of wistfulness?

Sidonie is at a loss as to what to say, what to react to, and so she can only utter a little squeaky sound and clear her throat. "Ahhh, ohhh, ahhh, uhhhh." This stuttering mess of sounds might give cause for someone overhearing to think of something else entirely with the two of them, but even they finally drift into silence. "Yes!" So easily does the Herder grasp on Elle's last — and much safer — topic. Just because the woman has a bit of a crushing shyness doesn't mean that she's neither observation nor intelligent. "Is there someone…?" It is such a leading question that skirts rudeness that leaves the woman letting it trail off without getting properly finished. Yet, still, the intent is all the same.

"Me? Oh, no. I have such strange hours — it doesn't really lend itself to courtship. And here…" Elle shakes her head. "People are so strange here." No offense meant, Sidonie. No, rly. "Either as wild and reckless as the dragonriders, giving their love away so freely… or so hidebound." Not anyone that would really fit Elle's idea of a significant other, surely. Too brash or not brash enough, and none in the middle. "Just as well. I really don't have time for it, not now." And she works closely with the Weyrleader, a man known to be imposing — and terrifying.

"Courtship…" Sidonie chews her bottom lip thoughtfully, but much like Elle, for whatever reason, the young woman's got no more use for it than the starcrafter does. "People are strange everywhere," this is a lament of females everywhere. "You are young, anyway. If you are not getting encouraged for such things then it is better to wait." A brief flash of smile is given to the other crafter as the herder starts to withdraw away. "I'd best be getting to work. The morning will be gone before I know it." She halts, takes a breath and says in a rush, "It was lovely to meet you, Elle. I'd — I'd like to be… friends." Oh the nerves for that admission! It trembles in her tone and has her scurrying off into bright light of Rukbat's rising.

"I'm not as young as I look," Elle replies, her voice wry. She knows well enough that she looks barely over sixteen. "But…" But before she can say whatever she WAS going to say, Sidonie is befriending her and SCURRYING OFF. "Bye!" she calls after the Herder, at a loss for words other than that calling farewell. With a philosophical shrug, she returns to finishing her runner's grooming for Celestial's "night", murmuring sweet nothings to the mare until she's finished, and she too can seek her bed.

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