Title: Friendship and Other Irritations
Summary: Niva and Isas, before they were Rosethorn and Crane.
Note: This fic is written for Kit over at Goldenlake, for her birthday! It is also my first proper dabbling in Emelan fanfic - thank you to Em for betaing (and putting up with my crazy).

The first time Isas notices Niva is in class at Lightsbridge. He is so used to answering the questions posed by the mage-professors that he no longer raises his hand; in fact, neither do his classmates.

Then one day, a question is posed about shakkansand Isas is stumped. A girl with short auburn hair in the back of the class raises her hand and provides the correct answer. Isas turns and gapes; she is no older than eighteen, and has none of the graces of his well-bred classmates.

Isas glares at her, and to his surprise, she glares back.

Isas is diligently copying out his notes, and he can feel Niva watching him. "Do you really have do that?" she asks, and he hears her sigh, bored.

He rolls his eyes but does not look up. "I must," he replies. "Not everyone is as content to be sloppy as you, Niva."

She makes an impatient sound. "Wanting magic to be about magic isn't sloppy," she retorts. "Perhaps you should spend less time as a scribe and more time as a mage."

He shakes his head. Niva will never understand the satisfaction that comes from an academic understanding of magic.

"I can't believe you dragged me to this dratted thing," Niva complains.

Isas glances around the room. "It is the University Ball," he says. "We had to attend. Now, will you dance with me, or must I find another partner?"

"I'll dance," she replies, "but you have to promise not to step on my feet."

"I learned to dance as a boy," Isas says indignantly. "Very graciously, might I add."

Niva grins mischievously. "Good, because, I'm not wearing any shoes." She sees the look of horror on his face, and laughs. "Don't worry, you can't tell under this ridiculous dress."

Isas is distraught when he discovers he has not passed one of his big exams. He locks himself in his room and refuses to see anyone.

Niva hears what has happened, and demands to be let in. When she threatens to reawaken the wood in his door and make it grow right off the hinges, he finally relents.

She takes one look at his red eyes and wordlessly embraces him; there is no judgment there, only understanding. She keeps him company until late in the night, and though Isas hates for anyone to see him as weak, he is grateful.

"Rosethorn?" Isas frowns.

Niva rolls her brown eyes. "You don't like it." It wasn't a question.

"It is harsh for a Dedicate's name," Isas says.

Niva smirks. "What would you suggest? Something flowery like Crane?"

Isas colours. "Crane is regal," he insists. "Youneed something softer, to balance out your temper."

"Such as?" she asks.

"Lilystem, or perhaps Buttercup," he says.

There is a fleeting look of surprise on Niva's face before she explodes in laugher. "Dedicate Buttercup?" she gasps. "That's an awful suggestion!"

Isas sinks back in his chair, sulkily telling himself that Niva simply didn't appreciate his genius.