This came to me in a flash. A thousand thanks to etcetera-cat for letting me borrow Teva. :)


The strange feeling inside Darina's head ceased as Lissa stepped back from her. She opened her eyes and glanced up at her mentor and Gifts teacher. "Well?"

"It's the damnedest thing, but yes," Lissa said. "It's your Foresight."

With a sigh, Darina closed her eyes and shook her head. "Why do I have this, if this is what it's going to do to me?" She rose from the chair and tugged her tunic, fresh and newly-White, into place. "I don't need this right now, Lissa, I really don't." From the corner of her eye, she saw Lissa try to hide a smile. "It's not funny!"

Lissa schooled her expression into something more appropriate for Darina's mood. "I know it isn't. I'm sorry."

Darina paced the short length of Lissa's office. "I mean, what the hell kind of a Foresight dream is this anyway?"

Lissa shrugged. "A strange one?"

Darina halted and pivoted on her heel. "Strange? Lissa, a Companion was chasing bees." She frowned. "Or being chased by bees. I forget which. Not that it matters." She resumed pacing. "It's not Aibrean." She shook her head. "I mean, it can't be Aibrean." She stopped suddenly, her eyes widening. "Oh, gods. What if it is Aibrean?" She turned to Lissa. "What if something terrible happens in the future to her—" she gasped "—or to me, like Arden—"

"All right, that's enough." Lissa took hold of her and steered her back to the chair and planted her firmly in it. She pulled up another chair, sat down, and took Darina's hands. "Let's review the current situation, shall we? You received your Whites the day before yesterday, barely three years after you were Chosen, you sat through a hellish Council meeting yesterday in which your fate for the next year was debated before your eyes, and you just found out that the latest treatment attempt to end Leesa's infertility has failed, meaning you're still in line for the throne. Oh, and you're having Foresight dreams about a crazed Companion." She leaned back and folded her arms over her chest. "Did I miss anything?"

Darina sighed. "She's not exactly crazed."

Lissa rolled her eyes. "All of these things, I might add, are things that are out of your control." She pointed a raised eyebrow at her. "Though I suspect it's the news of Leesa that has you most upset."

"What will I do?" She pressed her face into her hands. "What if she never gets pregnant?"

"Then you'll assume the throne," Lissa said.

She lifted her head. "I'm the same age as they are."

"Then maybe you'll die first and you won't have to assume the throne."

Darina caught the twinkle in Lissa's eyes and laughed in spite of herself. "Thanks. That's helpful." She sobered and shook her head. "The Council meeting today will be worse than yesterday's. With this newest failure, the pressure for me to marry and produce an heir will be greater than ever."

Lissa reached out and took her hand. "I know. I'm sorry."

Tears stung her eyes. "I've already had to give up one man that I loved. I don't know if I can do it again. And poor Vaden—" she wiped her eyes "—he has to sit through it as well. I mean, we're very circumspect about our relationship, but I know the Council knows about it. And still, they debate me—us, really—as if it were nothing at all."

"To them, it is nothing," Lissa said.

"I know." She pushed back her chair and paced to the window. "This is nothing new. It's just—" She turned to face Lissa. "The last thing I needed was to be visited at night by a—a—"

"Crazed Companion?"

"She's not crazed." Darina shook her head. "I don't know what she is." She smiled. "At any other time, I'd probably laugh."

"Remember what I told you," Lissa said. "Gifts don't usually manifest themselves until a trainee's third year. It's only your third year. You just happen to be in Whites already. And even though your Gift came upon you early, it's not fully developed, yet. Give it time."

"I just wish I understood what the point was."

"How many dreams have you had now?" Lissa asked.

"Four."

"And did you see or experience anything dangerous in them?"

"Well," Darina said, "there was the one where she backed into a Waystation and set it on fire, but it was in winter, so nothing really bad happened. Except, of course, for her tail—"

Lissa shot her a look. "I mean, anything that might indicate danger to Valdemar."

Darina frowned in concentration and shook her head. "Nooo, not really. She mostly just bounces around and stumbles into things."

Lissa shrugged. "I wouldn't worry about it, then. What does Aibrean say?"

"'It better not be me'," Darina said with a wry smile. Lissa snort-laughed, and Darina joined in. "I suppose it is rather funny."

"Does she look like Aibrean?"

Darina returned to her seat and slumped in the chair. "It's hard to tell. I don't think so, but—wait!" She straightened up. "This last dream, with the bees, someone was following her. Chasing her, I think." She closed her eyes and pulled the dream images back to the front of her mind from where she had stashed them in the insanity of the past few days.

The Companion bolted across the Field on a beautiful summer day, bees in pursuit. She veered from one direction to another without heed for obstacles, including people—Herald, trainee, or other Companions, though the other Companions seemed little disturbed by her frantic leaps and twitches. She angled off towards the Terrilee, the bees keeping time with her, and plunged into it with no hesitation. Behind her came a Herald, running, but nowhere as fast, of course. And he carried something. Was that a bellows? With smoke coming out of it?

Darina opened her eyes. "Yes, a Herald is chasing her. A man."

"Then it's not Aibrean."

She sagged in the chair with relief. "Thank the Lord for that at least. But who could it be? We don't have any Companions like that now. And why would I be having these dreams?"

Lissa shrugged again. "Not all Foresight is bad. And, again, your Gift isn't fully developed. Three years ago, it was showing you immediate danger. Perhaps that's changed. Perhaps you're seeing things far into the future. I don't know. If you see anything in these dreams that might indicate danger to Valdemar, be sure to say something; otherwise, I wouldn't worry about them."

Darina nodded her acknowledgment and then smiled softly. "I'm not really sure what to make of her. She's so . . . odd. I kind of hope I'm around to meet her someday."

"Well," Lissa said, "it sounds like she'll certainly make life interesting around here!"

With a laugh, Darina stood as the noon bell sounded. "That's my signal. I'm having lunch with Karan before the Council meeting." She headed for the door.

"I'm here if you need me," Lissa said, making her way to the other side of her desk. "And you should tell Leesa about this Foresight Companion of yours. I think she could probably use a good laugh this week."

Couldn't we all? she thought as she made her way towards Healer's. Perhaps Lissa was right. Perhaps these dreams indicated something good. Maybe this Companion was symbolic, and good (if odd) times were ahead. There was that one dream where she played catch with several Companion foals. It was all very sweet, now that she had talked to Lissa.

Although, Darina realized, as she pulled open the door to Healer's, she found herself hoping that the Companion was real. It would be a shame if she weren't. Such life. Such vibrancy. Lady knew she was serious enough for the entire Circle.

Havens help that poor Herald, though.