A/N: This is another one of those background stories that's paced a bit faster than I normally write. It's mainly just a brief biography of a person who will become very important to a certain brownrider we all know and love. :) More about this relationship to come. Thanks to all for your reception of my stories about J'fren and this version of Pern. I truly appreciate your reviews. Thank you so much for taking the time to write them. And now, on with the show!
Disclaimer: I do not own or operate Pern.
It's All About to Change
A cot, Canyon Hold
Trina sighed as she dug out a hole in the ground for the tuber plant. She hated garden work, but it was necessary, she supposed.
Her oldest brother, Dolan, smacked her on the rear with a towel. "Speed it up, Chubs," he said. "Or Ma is gonna get you even worse. You're slow enough as it is."
Trina ignored the jibe about her weight. She was used to it. "Shove between, Dolan. While you've been making up to the girls, I've been working. I've done three rows for every one you've done." He gave her a hard push, but Trina was expecting it and stood her ground. "Get your nasty hands off me. Ma may take up for you, but Pa'll flay you if you put your hands on me and you know it."
"Pa won't hear about it, if you know what's good for you, fat girl," he hissed.
"You don't scare me, you big numbwit. You're too stupid to plan anything, and I keep my door bolted."
Dolan, who inside knew he was all talk, spit at her and said, "You're just a useless female. Why would I waste my time on you?"
Trina avoided the spittle and said, "Just like a herdbeast, Dolan. Spit anywhere. You dast not touch me when I've got a hoe in my hands. You know I'll come up the side of your big stupid head with it."
Trina's youngest brother, Jearl, happened along about that time. He was the only one who treated Trina with any kind of compassion. "Dolan! You daft fool! Are you tormenting Trina again? Well, I can see who's working and who's not, and for sure, I'll tell Ma the truth. Let Trina finish her work and you get to doing some of your own, why don't you?"
Dolan looked at his younger brother, who happened to be appreciably taller and heavier than himself. "Fine. Whatever." He stumped off, muttering angrily.
Jearl picked up the flat of tuber rootlings and moved them over to where Trina was working. "Thank you, Jearl. I appreciate it," she said.
He smiled kindly at her. "Trina, sister, why did you have to be born with that sharp tongue and quick mind? And a girl, to boot? Life is so much harder for you, here."
Trina shrugged. "That's the way the cards fell for me, Jearl. Maybe one day I'll get to the Harper Hall and I'll work in the archives. Why hasn't Ma sent me before, do you suppose?"
"She wanted the extra worker, but now you're getting old enough that you're more of a problem here than somewhere else. It won't be long."
"I hope so. You know I love you and Pa, but I've got to get out of here, sooner or later."
"I know, sis." His tone was full of regret. "Better get those tubers in the ground."
Trina nodded and went back to her work.
Supper was usually a dismal affair. Dolan and Purney took turns alternately baiting and insulting Trina, subtly encouraged by their mother. Trina's other brother, Belton, sat and ate and said nothing — mostly because sitting and eating were about all he could manage to do at the same time, Trina thought. Jearl tried to play peacemaker and Rufel, their father, sat in miserable embarrassment. Trina generally ignored Dolan and Purney, but would occasionally fire back a witty comment that it took them a while to comprehend. Jearl and her Pa and Ma would get it right away and she might find herself dodging a blow on the back of her head from her mother.
With the end of the meal, Trina immediately rose and began clearing the table. She knew better than to wait for her mother to tell her to do it.
Purney jogged her elbow as she took up the glass pitcher and she came within a hair of dropping it. She retaliated by knocking a chair over in his path, which he promptly tripped over. He came up red-faced, but Jearl had seen the whole incident and shook his head warningly at his brother. He patted Trina on the shoulder, and hustled the others out of the room so she could clean it.
Trina had the dishes washed and was mopping the floor in the kitchen when her mother came in. The woman deliberately tracked across the damp tiles, marking them so Trina would have to clean them again. "Shells, Trina. You're more trouble than you're fragging worth. I don't know why under the double moons I had to go and bear a silly, stupid female like you instead of another fine boy like your brothers." Trina could tell by her red nose and glazed eyes, that Ma had started early on the redfruit brandy. She said nothing, knowing that was the best course of action. Corda went rooting in the pantry for something, and came out with another bottle of brandy and her herb basket. Once, Corda was noted around Canyon Hold for her effective herbal remedies. She still sold a few things, when she wasn't too drunk to mix the cordials. When she was, Trina mixed the remedies and Corda still pocketed the marks. She shoved the basket at Trina.
"Here, girl. Mix up my cough medicine. Some elderlies at the other cot need some. Thymus, comfrey and hyssop." Corda shuffled into the other room. Trina sighed and went to the hearth with the items. She set the kettle to heating and carefully measured the ingredients for the remedy. At least no one bothered her when she was doing this--it was a source of income and even her thickwit brothers didn't jeopardize that. While the mixture reduced, she finished cleaning the floor and looked up to see her father in the doorway. He took a seat at the table and watched her. She smiled at him as she went to add more liquid to the cordial mixture. She stirred it carefully and sat beside him.
He took her hand. "Trina, I'm so sorry," he said.
"For what, Pa?"
"For everything. I wish we'd fostered you out when it became clear your Ma wasn't going to take to you 'cause you weren't a boy. You'd have been so much happier. But we're going to try to change that. The Hold Harper tells me he's had word from StarStorm. They'll have two Search dragons here, tomorrow. Go see them--see if they want to take you to the Weyr. If they do, we'll have you aboard tomorrow. If not, Meller tells me there aren't any openings for archivists right now, but he'll do his best to have you taken in at the Harper Hall. You've got to get out of here. It's no place for someone with your mind and talent." Rufel shook his head sadly.
"Pa, I'm not that talented," Trina demurred.
"Pinfeathers. You need to be anywhere but here. This is a dead-end. Go to the Weyr--the Harper Hall. Make something of yourself."
Trina squeezed her father's hand. "I'll be glad to leave here, but not you and Jearl. You two are the only ones who make it bearable."
"I know, and I'm so sorry, Daughter. I always wanted a beautiful little girl and that's what I got."
Trina hugged him. "Thanks, Pa. I love you, too."
"Better see about that cough stuff."
She nodded and went to the hearth.
"Well, well. So you're for the Weyr. Good riddance, I say," Purney snarled. She ignored him and went into the house
Trina packed her few belongings quickly, under her mother's irritable eyes, and ran outside to join those who were going from the neighboring cots. She hugged her father and Jearl and made for the blue dragon hastily.
They came out of between over the Bowl at StarStorm Weyr and Trina gasped. The Weyr was huge. She had never seen anything quite so large or impressive. Surely, she could manage to be happy, here.
Seven years later...
Another Hatching, another turn on the Sands, another disappointment. Trina was thoroughly sick of the Candidate barracks, of the constant training, of everything. She was sick of getting herself excited about the next Hatching, only to be disappointed again. She was 23 Turns, anyway, and had only one or two Hatchings left, at the most.
She went to the Headwoman. "Do you need an extra hand in the kitchens?"
"Indeed, yes, we could always use the help. What can you do?"
"I can cook, clean, teach, help you with Records, embroider, make herbal medicine--lots of things. I was also trained to go to the archives by the Hold Harper."
The woman pursed her lips and nodded. "We can use you. Especially in the Records. The Weyrwoman, I know, could use the help with the work. She stays swamped all the time."
"When can I start?"
"Aren't you still a Candidate?"
"Move your things into the last room in the hall and come out ready to work."
So Trina moved to the Lower Caverns. She ended up teaching the smallest younglings and doing much the same thing she did at home at the Hold. She was too old for the Harper Hall, now, so might as well make the best of things where she was. Things could change.
It wasn't easy. She tried, but never could seem to make friends with the other women. As the sevendays went by, she grew more withdrawn and isolated herself from the rest. As soon as her shift was over, she slipped away to her room, or to the Records Room. No one was around to tell her that she had changed from a chubby adolescent into a woman with a woman's body. She would never be slender, and some would always see her as fat. The truth was, she had generous curves, but they were usually hidden by her clothing. She grew her hair out so she could wear it up, and no one noticed its deep glow as it fell around her shoulders. The children were the only ones who saw her bright smile, anymore. They were the only ones who saw her brown eyes twinkle with mischief. At least, it was better than home. She was provided for, and felt she made some small contribution to the life of the Weyr. Being one of the Lower Caverns women at the Weyr carried more prestige than being a cotholder from her home region.
It turned out the Weyrwoman had far more to do in the Records room than she, her second, or the Harper archivist could handle. A huge Weyr like StarStorm generated an incredible amount of paperwork. Trina's talent for organizing the Records, and her knack of catching small errors, omissions and important details made sure she was much in demand there. Not that anyone but the archivist really cared. She helped the Healers too, and picked up some useful knowledge from them, and from the dragonhealers--enough that she was called upon as an assistant. Her spare time was spent in her needlework, which was her main creative outlet. She knew she was the misfit among the women, but no one seemed to appreciate her humor, her learning, or anything else about her. So she relied on being unobtrusive while in the Caverns working. Her life was simply easier when no one noticed her.
She remained out of sight and largely ignored until the day she saw the brownrider sitting at the table, and Bini cracked that he must be feeling lonely. Trina sympathized. She was lonely, too. But he was the one she'd heard all the stories about. Funny--he didn't look like the predatory type at all. Instead, he looked, well, sweet. Maybe that was just the boyish way he had about him, though. No one was more surprised than she when he brought his plate to her, instead of leaving it on the table to be cleared. As she looked into his laughing black eyes, she had no idea it was all about to change.