She hadn't really been at the Weyr long, but letters from home had already become a strange mixture of ordeal and relief. She had been irritated when she first arrived to learn that her older brother Vin'del was away on a turn or longer recovery period after a bad Thread score. She knew NOONE at the Weyr, as a result.
And noone at the Weyr was an uncomfortable reminder of the fire. Or of her parents' tendency to overindulge. Not that anyone had commented while they were alive, but after their deaths, Arden had heard plenty of whispers.
It was a bright, pretty day, and Arden had a new letter from her sister. She missed Stalena, the older woman had been more of a mother to her than their own mother even before the fire. But between letters, Arden was able to go for days without thinking about everything they had lost. Stalena however, couldn't seem to write a letter without bringing up one of the people who had died.
She was far from alone outside, but there was enough room to give her an appearance of privacy. She had just reached the part of the letter where Stalena began relating some story about Stavelin's childhood antics, when that illusion was broken by a voice calling out loudly, "Hey there Goldie!"
She was startled, dropping the letter to the ground as she looked around. And saw the man pestering one of the weyrlings, a girl with hair as blonde as Arden's. She didn't seem too happy to see him, but Arden had already figured out what happened; Goldie couldn't be all that uncommon a nickname for blondes. It was just that noone had ever called her that except Stavelin, and since he died. . . .
And then she heard it while she was reading Stalena's description of their earliest attempts to sneak out at night. It was just odd timing.
Then she looked up at the blonde weyrling's harsh voice.
"I don't know you. I don't have an uncle. Now please leave."
Arden scrambled to her feet, her letter left forgotten on the ground. The other woman had retreated to her zultanite - and what kind of idiot made a weyrling feel unsafe? Arden was surprised the entire Weyr wasn't descending on them. And he was a rider, too, apparently.
She stood for a moment, judging the situation. Then she put a perfectly friendly smile on her face, bent to retrieve her letter, and brushed a bit of dirt off her slacks as she stood, and approached. . . .the strange rider.
"Hello, sir," she said, warmly, "are you visiting New Atricis, then? I'm not the candidate who is on duty to guide newcomers but I can send Fog here to contact him for you," The tiny blue popped in, chirping at the mention of his name while Arden let her eyes widen just that little bit as she met his. She brushed a strand of hair back from her face, stopping short of twirling it. She was going for awed but nervous, not consciously flirtatious. Look at me,
she urged mentally, not the weyrling. Before you make her dragon so upset something bad happens.
She wasn't sure what, just that young dragons (and therefore their riders) were supposed to be sheltered when possible.