Caffera was barely able to function the week that Errol left to join Callen at Igen Weyr. Jallica, while sympathetic to her daughter’s anxiety, had little patience for her distraction.
“Life does not stop simply because something exciting is happening,” she said, dryly. “If that were the case, life would be at a perpetual standstill, as there is always something exciting happening somewhere.”
“Not like this!” Caffera protested. “I cannot possibly focus when I know that any minute now, Callen might be Impressing!”
“Caffera, if you truly do hope to become a dragonrider, you had best learn to focus on what’s in front of you, not what may or may not be happening far from here. Thread doesn’t care if you’re missing distant friends or family- Thread requires immediate focus. And so do these seedlings!” she tapped Caffera’s knuckles lightly with her trowel. Caffera scowled, but did her best to refocus on the task at hand, even as Jallica continued her lecture on the unending needs of a keeping a Hold running smoothly.
That night, Caffera woke from a dead sleep. “It’s happening!” she gasped, before she was even fully aware of her surroundings. For a moment she thought she was surrounded by young boys, all of them wearing white and looking as sickly nervous as she felt- but then her head cleared and she realized she was at home, in the bed she shared with Ellica. Ellica rolled over and muttered something in her sleep, but beyond that the Hold was quiet.
Caffera eased her way out of bed, grabbed a woven blanket from a chair, and padded her way, barefoot, to the window. The two moons were low in the sky- dawn must not be far off. She shivered and clutched the blanket more tightly around her shoulders. She and Callen often shared dreams, strong emotions, and even thoughts- he had known when she’d fallen from the cliffs and broken her arm, and she had known when he’d gotten lost in the cave system. Was it possible she would share the moment of Impression with him?
She took a deep breath, trying to quiet her mind and listen. They’d never been so far apart before… was it even possible? Caffera stood staring out at the lightening sky, waiting, feeling a sort of dreadful anticipation build in her stomach- but was it hers, or was it Callen’s? Then, suddenly, a moment of such pure, unadulterated bliss she staggered against the windowpane- and then nothing. The connection was gone.
No, not gone… dampened. As if a door had been shut to her, and she had to press her ear against it to hear muffled what had once been clear.
Caffera shook her head at the thought. Ridiculous!
But... she was certain Callen had, in fact, Impressed. She grinned, hugging herself tightly in the silver pre-dawn, waiting for true morning- and the official news- to come.
It was not until the following day, however, that a green dragon appeared- the same that had collected Errol nine days prior- and deposited the Holder back into the bosom of his family. The moment his feet touched the ground, he was mobbed by his children- all but Caffera, who hung back with Jallica.
“Don’t you want to hear the outcome?” her mother asked. Caffera shook her head.
“I already know he Impressed,” she said.
“You mean you hope,” Jallica corrected. Caffera set her mouth in a straight line, but said nothing. Three seconds later, the younger children came stampeding by, shrieking, “A brown! A brown! Our brother rides a brown!”
“A brown,” Jallica breathed, almost to herself. “How wonderful!”
“A bronze would have been better,” Caffera muttered, disappointed that her twin had not lived up to her dreams for him.
Jallica’s hand was swift, and the force of it against her daughter’s cheek stunned the girl into shocked silence.
“You will not belittle his triumph!” Jallica said. “All dragons deserve your respect, from the legendary Ramoth down to the most obscure green! They all fight to keep us safe in our Holds, and brown dragons are every bit as susceptible to death by Thread as bronze! As are their riders!” and she burst into tears.
“I… I…” Caffera held her hand to her stinging face, unable to articulate a single thought, let alone any words. She had never seen her mother cry, not even when she’d birthed a babe far too early for it to live. Just then, Errol came striding up, arms held wide for an embrace from his wife.
“Callen will ride brown Tadith!” he crowed, wrapping his arms about them both. “Or, I guess I should say C’Len now! Here now, woman, what are these tears for? This is a joyful occasion!”
“Of course it is,” Jallica said, wiping her eyes. “I merely got dust in my eye when the rider took off again. I’m wonderfully happy for Cal- for C’Len.”
“And you, Caffera?” Her father turned to her and gave her an extra squeeze. “I know you miss him, but how does it feel to be able to claim a brown rider for a twin?”
“I couldn’t be prouder,” Caffera whispered, mouth dry, but in truth was she was suddenly terrified. Why had it never occurred to her that there was more to being a dragonrider than just flying? That riders- and now her brother was among them- courted death at every Fall?
“He’ll be the best,” she said in a louder voice, determined to will belief into truth. “The best there ever was. You’ll see! He and Tadith won’t let a single piece of Thread get past them. Not ever.”