A Grain of Truth

Characters Alexa, Tejra
Synopsis A once-harper and a now-candidate talk compare notes of bygone times.
Out-of-Character Date February 25, 2020

Igen Weyr - Harper Practice Room


Igen's twisting caverns hold a variety of hidden wonders, no doubt. One less hidden and, to some, less wonderful, are the handful of caverns dedicated to teaching the Weyr's children (or anyone else that has a need to meet with a Harper). If anyone's seen the reports, Tejra is a less than stellar teacher, since her ability to deal with people under the age of 14 is… well, lacking is putting it much too generously. But assisting, if she doens't talk, doesn't seem to be too much of a problem. The cavern she's in today, however, is less oriented to the training of the young and is rather smaller than what's needed for lessons on that scale, but what it does have is one large mirror that is erected so those doing the varieties of Harperly practices that require some visual-body feedback (like the shape of the lips for the phrasing of a song) can be gotten. The room contains instruments that are only of practice quality, but that's what this room is for - practice. It's a small space, but Tejra is making the most of it, working through patterns that are captivating in flow and grace, making her body the tool of communication that words sometimes can't equal. There's no music to dance to, but the feeling of the dance itself and the sheer control exercised is telling of just how she warranted her Journeyman's knot when she lacks in so many Harperly ways. The dance is one of confined agony and a journey to peace. The redhead is sweaty, even in the relative cool of the cavern, and as soon as she's held her last movement just long enough to signal 'end,' she's taking her panting self over toward where a there are cups and a pitcher, perhaps not yet aware of her surroundings.

Sometimes, you just need a moment. Alexa is not Igen-born, but she's been here long enough to have learned her way around and, more importantly, learned the ebb and flow and routine of the Weyr enough to predict with some reliability where quiet, cozy solitude might be found. It's not in her weyr (people know where that is) and it's not on the Hatching Sands (which are too hot and too open). Sometimes it is in the library, with the scent of paper and ink and leather in the air. And sometimes it is the smaller spaces reserved for practice and teaching that tend to be empty when there is no lesson being taught. What children want to hang out at school after hours? Well. Maybe some of them. But most of them don't. Which is why it's perhaps startling to the harper-turned-weyrwoman to come across a room that is occupied rather than empty. And with Tejra, no less. While the first instinct may have been to retreat as quickly as possible and hope she wasn't spotted, curiosity gets the better of the blond and she lingers just outside the door, being a sneaky little spy as she watches Tejra dance in what is undoubtedly meant to be a private performance. There's probably a flicker of 'I shouldn't be here' in that head of hers, but, well… curiosity apparently trumps manners, because Alexa hasn't budged. And maybe somewhere along the way she forgot that she wasn't supposed to be here — and that Tejra probably doesn't know she's here — because once the harper-candidate has completed her performance, there's a curious, "Did you always dance like that?" asked from where Alexa leans against the doorframe.

The only sign that Tejra is surprised by Alexa's question, her presence, is that the pitcher tips back slightly when she goes to pour, her head coming up and glancing over to the weyrwoman before she looks back to the task literally at hand. She pours into her cup, replaces the pitcher and takes a quick swallow before twisting a little to face the blonde. It might be the time she needed to recollect her mind after pouring herself into that dance. Practice dance. Not even a private performance. And yet, how many dance classes has she shared with other Harpers in her life? Perhaps she can pretend a little, that Alexa is still one of them. "No, not always. I swam for turns before I came to the hall and then that first turn…" She shrugs, "I just wanted to leave. After that, Master Farzi started training me. I have the advantage," is it an advantage? "of having had her individual attention since I was almost eleven. Even the most resistant body learns with enough repetition." Maybe she means more than muscle memory. There's a slight hesitation before she's gesturing to the pitcher of juice, sweating as much as Tej on the exterior, so it must even have been chilled. It's an awkward time to be offering tea like a Lady, but there it is. "Would you care for a refreshment?" There's humor there, in the way she twists those words, as if she might be playing dress up and inviting someone else to the game. "You focused on the books, right? I think I heard you spent a lot of time in the library and archives and all."

"Pretty sure I tripped over my own feet until I was at least sixteen." Probably because Alexa was growing like a weed and always had her nose stuck in a book. Walking and reading don't usually go together. Green eyes track the pitcher rather than the pitcher-holder. At least until it's kind of impolite, and then they flick up to listen. Alexa's lips might twitch a little at the mention of resistance and repetition, but she won't comment on it. "You know what, I think I will," she decides. As odd as that offer for refreshment might be, Alexa's gonna take her up on it. The hatching sands are hot. The weyrbowl is hot. The caverns might not be as hot, but she has been trekking all this way and, frankly at six-months pregnant, hot is just another thing that Alexa always is. She pushes up from the doorway, moving with far less grace but thankfully no waddle (yet?) over to pour herself a glass of juice. And maybe the moment catches her as amusing as well; a little nose wrinkle and a subtle smirk pulling at her lips before she hides it all with a long sip of juice. "Yeah," comes as a sigh, an admittance but not a dismissal. "I've always loved books. Ever since I knew what they were. More so once I learned how to read them for myself. I dunno. I just always found them easier." Than what? "Numbers, too. It's really hard for numbers to be anything other than what they just… are." Cryptic. Like her spreadsheets. "I knew about Master Farzi." Of course, she did. Was it any sort of secret? "There used to be rumors, you know? Speculation about… things." But maybe that's not polite conversation territory and maybe Alexa knows it, because she decides another swallow of juice is probably better than finishing those thoughts.

If Tejra's lips twitch at the edges like she's not laughing at Alexa's initial description of her own physical abilities, can she be blamed? It's possible that the goldrider's words paired with Tejra's own set of rumors about the aloof, book-loving blonde from their Hall days paints just the right picture. She should get credit for the fact that she refrains from responding (THIS TIME). She does subtly sweep a step to the side to give the pregnant woman room to get the drink without having to end up in uncomfortably close proximity with the redhead. All these kindnesses that Tej should be getting credit for but won't because no one understands just how likely it was that it all could've gone differently - imagine the scene, Tej's faint antagonism, her occupation of the other woman's personal space. It could've happened. But it didn't. Instead she shifts to lean back against the wall next to the small table holding the pitcher and its cups, her own coming to her lips again while she listens to the other woman. "Not all rumors are true." Tejra observes, but in a tone that is allowing that some rumors are. "I heard you were a snob. Didn't have any time for anyone but that brother of yours." There's a brief pause where red brows crimp very slightly and then whatever connection her mind is trying to make is left to be a knot to worry another time. "Farzi is Farzi. She's always been eccentric and will always be eccentric. I think a certain amount of latitude was helpful, but perhaps not to instilling things like… respect for authority." She flashes the goldrider a smile that's amused and maybe a little bit teasing because Alexa is one of those authorities in this case. "Were the rumors about you true?"

Crowding definitely could have happened; with gritted teeth and firm determination not to be cowed. Uncomfortable, at the very least. But thankfully it does not, and whether Alexa says thank you (or, frankly, even notices) it's probably appreciated. "I didn't say they were," agrees Alexa, for pesky rumors and their truths. But it's said in a voice that may suggest she likes to think they are. At least some of them. How boring would life be, if all the rumors were false? Of course, then she's hearing rumors of her own, and that sneaky little smirk behind her glass sort of falters, green eyes sliding the way of the redhead before she shrugs and takes another sip. A shrug, and she decides, "Respect is overrated." Even if she kind of likes it at times. Despite the infrequency of their interactions, it could be noted that Alexa has never insisted upon formality. At least, not among those she isn't attempting political discord. Toying with the cup in her hands, she tips her head and hums thoughtfully, entertaining the idea of answering. Or at least, what to answer with. "Maybe," she decides at last, going with truth instead of sass, because maybe she's tired of it. Tired of deflecting about silly things that don't warrant it. "Half true?" she muses. "I didn't have time for anyone but my brother," she admits, without a hint of apology. "But they didn't really have time for me, so…" Shrug. "Does that make me a snob?" Maybe. Another sip and she decides, "You're turn. I heard the only reason you weren't kicked out was because there was a lot of money trading hands under the table."

Would they both be upset to find that Tejra would helplessly agree with Alexa about rumors (and respect)? She doesn't seem the least disappointed by the blonde's response. She probably would have been more suspicious if the rumor had been denied on the whole. In fact, pale eyes have latched onto the harper-turned-weyrwoman's face, expression watchful and slightly perplexed. She doesn't toy with her cup though, she shifts in back up to her lips, downing the rest before leaning toward the table and thus also Alexa to set it aside as she pushes off the wall to shift toward the middle of the room and more space to start stretching muscles still warm. "True, but probably not as much money as people liked to imagine. More than enough to make apprentice eyes pop." Funny how things change with time and perspective. "My uncle is a minor holder in Southern Boll. He found himself unexpectedly with young," troubled, "relations falling to his responsibility and he wanted us swiftly dealt with. Rehomed," like animals? "as it were. My brother was of an age to apprentice. I wasn't quite, but I suspect he thought of Harper as cushy compared to SeaCraft, so… he paid, and paid." She made him pay. In the midst of a stretch, she uses the opportunity to gesture into a wide, 'so, here we are,' sweep of her arms, perhaps trying to dismiss the rest to the dusty tombs of undisturbed memory. "You know, I ended up doing my share in the libraries and records, too, after you left. After they gave up on me for any instrument besides drum." A beat before she admits with a very small touch of awkwardness, "I liked them. The books. The records. I did not like having to hear about how you were missed," probably by those particular Harpers who cherish a good apprentice to their particular parchment-and-pen causes.

Whatever Alexa feels about those under-table dealings, she does a pretty decent job of keeping it from her expression. There might be a faint 'I knew it!' sort of smug in the quirk of her mouth, but everything else — whether she's jealous or impressed — is kept carefully tucked away. As Tejra goes to stretch, Alexa finds a wall (the nearest one she can) and sliiiiiides herself down until she's sitting with her back against it. Even if now she might be stuck there indefinitely because getting up again might be questionable. Oh well. A struggle for another time. For now, there's a sigh and a stretch of legs and the curling of fingers around her glass that she's slowly still sipping at. And listening. She's definitely listening. "Didn't have anyone to pay my way into the Hall," she notes, though it's not really a jab at Tejra so much as a comment on herself; that there was no one to pay for her because there was just no one at all. "I had to fight for it. But it was fine, because I wanted it." And maybe Tejra didn't want it, and Alexa is just now seeing that. A quirk of her lips, something fond for the reminiscence — for books and records and harpers with similar proclivities — and she almost sighs. "It's quiet, right? Books don't boss you around, and they definitely don't talk behind your back." They might not always tell the truth but at least you know what you're getting into. "What happened to your parents?" The question comes despite her better judgement, and while there might be a flicker of something like apology for having voiced it (because even Alexa knows that's a rather personal and potentially dangerous question) she won't take it back. But she will add, "You don't have to answer." Because she doesn't.

The trick to Tejra's uncle's under-the-table dealings was probably that there were probably also enough above-the-table dealings that both Hall and those doing the extra leg work to protect Tejra from certain expulsion (well, near anyway) was mutually satisfied. Sometimes, it's easier to put up with a small thorn for the richness of the flower, right? In the end, the thorn even proved to be part of a flower on its own, a worthy (if somewhat limited) addition to those bearing the knot and name of the Craft. The difference between the newest fixture in the room, since Alexa is definitely never leaving that spot, almost definitely, and the one occupying the empty middle space is a little comical. The stretches are disgustingly graceful and without apparent effort to make them 'more' than what they always are just because she happens to have an audience, but then… this is first and foremost within her long-trained skill-set, and if one were to ask Tej's Master, they'd find that Farzi feels Tej still has a long way to go - it just looks perfect nine times out of ten to the untrained eye. Her pale gaze flicks to Alexa as she speaks of her own admission. Does the goldrider rise a notch for her willingness to fight for what she wanted? It does seem so because there's just the faintest of smiles to indicate some approval for it. "I liked the quiet." There's a pause in which the dancer very nearly doesn't say the thing that comes to mind, but then, on impulse, it comes. "People think of dance as a discipline that's always loud. With music. But when you practice, it's silent but for your breath, your own voice, your own feet. It's hard for me to be in places that are loud, sometimes. Sometimes the silence feels like home. Maybe that's why I took to the library and the archives as a… haven, I suppose. From the rest of the noise." And chaos, but that part Tej probably generally liked (at least the idea of, if not the practice). Tej drops gracefully down to the floor to spread her legs and begin working the flexibility of those muscles in cool down, and there's another moment where it might seem like she's not going to answer. How many lies does Tej have in her arsenal when it comes to personal details like her parents? The truth is many, and she could give Alexa one of these, but when the words come it's haltingly, like they're not entirely familiar. "My father died a long time ago. No one ever talks it. My mother… later. Her husband," there's a breath before she adds, "the one after my father," because otherwise things might take on a very different meaning, "sent us back to my uncle. My father's older brother." There's so much complexity in what goes unsaid that the weight of it is tangible in the air, but maybe that's fine for a start. She looks to Alexa before quietly asking, in turn, with a mimic of the older woman's tone, "What happened to your parents? Why was there no one?" And, of course, "You don't have to answer." Not even because Tej did.

Alexa is definitely an untrained eye. There is certain to be some envy for the fluidity of movement and apparent natural grace, not least of all because lately, moving in general has become something of a burden to the goldrider. Seriously. And she still has three more months to get even bigger! But for now, she's perfectly content to be a permanent fixture; a lump against the wall sipping at juice and watching with wistful expression for the things she can't quite do. "I always liked dance," she admits, with the sort of tone one might use for admitting they enjoy a particular dessert. "And I was okay at it. But not… like that," she decides, hand-flapping in Tejra's direction. "And definitely not right now," she adds dryly. "But I get what you're saying," she decides. "About noise and stuff. People talk a lot, but they don't always say much." Herself included, perhaps. At least when she's trying to play the game of politics. But she's not playing now, even if there is reservation. But still, the truth is given and Alexa will accept it with respect, whether she can tell if Tejra is honest or not. It sounds honest, and so she'll treat it as honest, because there doesn't seem to be any reason to lie. And so there's a shake of her head and a, "Nah, I don't mind answering," when the question of her own parents comes up. "My parents are dragonriders. Near as I can tell, they're both alive." But that's not really saying much. "My mother," and there's a little wrinkle of her nose, a little catch on the word, because mother is not how Alexa likes to describe her, "is a brownrider who got pregnant from a flight. She wasn't interested in us." Alexa and her brother. "I haven't ever seen her, but I know her name." A shrug, as if she doesn't care about it. "Don't know who my father is. Never thought to ask. Our first foster was… nice. She was really kind. The way a mother is probably supposed to be, you know? She used to tuck us in and tell us stories every night," and one might suppose that's where Alexa got her love for them. "But she died. So we had to go somewhere else. They weren't unkind," she insists. "But they weren't… it wasn't the same. So Alek and I decided to Apprentice as soon as we could. Cause why wait? I liked Harpers and I was good with letters and numbers even if I can't sing." That's no secret. "He's got this thing about plants and medicine so… it worked out I guess."

Although there are times when Tejra's patience seems quite short, there are others where it's as boundless as any ocean from the deck of a ship at sea. Now is one of those latter moments. She doesn't stop working through her motions, but her attention is given to Alexa, a brief flicker going from face to expanding midsection when she makes the note about her current state of movement capabilities. She actually doesn't respond this time until everything been said between them. It gives Tejra time to turn things over in her mind. "It seems uncomfortable," she gestures with one hand to indicate the woman's pregnant state. It allows her to then make it sound like it's no big deal, in turn, when she says, "I've read about mothers who tuck people in." That probably sums up everything Alexa really needs to know about Tej's own experience with parents, and hers were real by blood, presumably. "I don't mind when people talk and say nothing. A lot of times they're saying a lot they don't realize they're saying. I just… I get overwhelmed, sometimes, by needing to be… me?" She seems unsure about that last word and maybe they're straying into territory that's very much 'too deep.' She shifts slowly onto her knees and then up to her feet. "I'm not sure, in the end, if blood much matters. It's never seemed to. Or, if it's just what matters least." Nevermind that Alexa had a perfectly good brother and might have a different view. The dancer shifts toward the goldrider, not quite looming but standing near enough that her hands can be extended down. "Farzi used to take commissions from pregnant women who could pay. Did you know dance can help during labor?"

It didn't last. The mom who tucks kids in. A short-shot at happiness that was taken with an untimely death. Alexa won't say it, but there's a shrug of her shoulders and a willingness to talk about other things. Even if it's her own impending motherhood. "It can be," she allows, though there's enough fondness in the quirk of her lips to suggest it's worth it. At least, right now it's worth it. Ask her again when she's in labor, her opinion may have changed. "This is my second, actually. Hazard of the job." Dragons. "So far, been easy enough." Either that, or she's just stubborn. Or both. "I mind when they expect me to be listening. Especially about something I don't care about." She clearly didn't get to that point in Harper training where reading between the lines was taught. The last of her juice is downed, the glass toyed with in her hands until she's making a choice whether to set it down or try to carry it with her when she stands. "I don't know," she allows, for blood, an uncharacteristic frown pulling at her lips. "Some people seem to think it does." Those people may not be her, given the little twitch of irritation at her eye. But the depth of that discussion will have to wait, the glass tucked carefully in the crook of her arm as she accepts those hands and, hopefully, hauls herself to her feet. Slow going, but at least she makes it. "I didn't. Well… I think N'sir might have said something? He's been trying to get me to belly dance, but I'm not sure that's a good idea right now. I've got too much belly for it." A grin and a nose-wrinkle; amusement back in spades. "Are you offering?" she wonders, only half teasing.

The look that briefly meets Alexa's mild, unspoken suggestion of it being worth it is met by a flat look from the redhead that can only be read as: HARD PASS, TYVM. That being said, Tej won't deny Alexa her own pleasure in the pregnancy, even if the dancer can't fathom why anyone would want to. (There's a real reason she's only assisting the Harper doing the teaching, and it's not just because her 'reassignment' to these harpers is possibly very temporary.) She doesn't even flinch when Alexa says it's her second. The look just gets flatter. (The HARDEST of all passes.) For all that Tej's frame seems lithe, there's a lot of lean muscle packed on. There has to be, in order to make so many movements so apparently effortless, and thus she can both counterbalance Alexa's temporarily greater weight and help pull her up with relative ease. She reaches to pluck the cup from the crook of the goldrider's arm and turns to make the necessary movement to set it on the table with her own. "Well, you don't have to tell him he's right if you don't want to," she offers with only pretended consolation and the touch of true levity in her pale gaze. "It's less about the belly though, so much as opening the hips, and letting gravity do the work, as Farzi explained it to me. I have no personal experience, but I have helped teach it." She does accept her own commissions now. "I have been known to give out free samples," she says magnanimously, the playful edge still touching her features and her voice, "And then I barter." Anyone want to make deals with Tej? Sounds safe, right?

Perhaps for the best that getting upright takes so much effort. It allows Alexa to ignore those flat looks for her baby belly and current kid. But there's a little curl at the corner of her mouth, some private amusement for a private thought. She's certainly not about to convince anyone of anything, at least not when it comes to babies (she might debate numbers and figures all day, because those aren't matters of opinion). "Probably for the best." Not telling N'sir he's right. "He'd look far too pleased to hear it." But there's fondness for the greenrider, evident in the smile and slightly softer look that comes along with teasing him behind his back. Once she's up, there's a bit of a stretch, and the requisite rub of her lower back and those hips they're discussing. A pale brow lifts at the 'sample', though it's the bartering that has her entire (amused) skepticism. "Sure. Why not. I'm game to try anything that might make the delivery part of this easier." She's already done it once. This time she knows what she's in for! And maybe making deals with Tej is a risky business, but hey. No one said Alexa was particularly bright.

"Yes," Tejra says with dark solidarity, expression hilariously serious. "Never tell them smug ones anything." She must know something or another about people who'd be far too pleased with themselves. But a decisive nod dismisses the topic in favor of a lesson. Here, in fact, it may be seen why the redhead was able to earn her Journeywoman's knot in greater depth. When it comes to being professional at a professional task and teaching what she loves, Tejra is surprisingly patient, if a little demanding of the effort put forth. Still, she'll go a little easy on the goldrider given her gravid state, and particularly since she's not sure what kinds of physical training Alexa is keeping up with generally through her pregnancy - although that's something questions will seek answers for as she proceeds to walk the weyrwoman through her first lesson showing different ways to move the hips, the low back and the abdomen to in ways they might, might ease some of the challenges of labor, if perhaps only somewhat or only as a distraction or a something to try should the process drag on. Perhaps Alexa is familiar from her dance classes at the hall that occasionally, the instructor will physically reposition her, or help her through a movement to get just the right angle. They don't really know each other well enough for touching, generally, but here, in this context, it's much like the clinically reserved interactions of a healer during an exam, if not nearly so invasive. Thank Faranth!

Walking. It's mostly walking. Maybe a little swimming, if just because it's easier. And as much as it might pain her to admit as much, Alexa will be honest about her rather lack of dedication to any real physical training in the preparation of labor. Because hard work or something. But even so, with Tejra the professional teacher, Alexa can be found to be an earnest enough student; listening and doing her best to follow direction and even keeping her sarcasm at bay. She did, literally, ask for this. And as such, she'll do it without complaint. Even if it's awkward and at times uncomfortable (if not necessarily in a physical sense), she'll endure and even ask questions when necessary. In the end, there's that quirk of amusement that's back in her smile, but an honest, "Thanks," for the time taken to teach her things, and probably a promise of bartering for more with the caveat of "after the Hatching, if you're free." Because who knows? She might be occupied by then. And then that inevitable moment when they should probably part ways, because, "Raaneth's going to want me soon," as dragons are wont to do. But Alexa hesitates, on the cusp of walking away, to add a more honest, "Thank you," that perhaps encompasses more than simply gratitude for an offer on a lesson. And then she's gone, not-quite-waddling her way down the tunnel toward the hot-hot bowl and the hot-hot Sands.

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