December 10, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
“…and then her mother says to me, ‘well, you’re a little young, but you’re tall enough already, aren’t you?’ And I asked her, ‘ma’am, are you talking about riding the goat or riding you?’”
“You did not!” Govezze’s scandalized whisper hissed through the dining hall’s entryway. “Did you?”
“I did. I swear on the Three and a packet of the best tobacco my older brother sends from the south.” Denedien was far too pleased with himself; then again, pleased with himself seemed to be his default state. “I have to say, though, that I was then invited to take riding lessons ‘anywhere else, preferably somewhere far away’.”
Denedien and Govezze were very nicely distracting. Enrie had walked with them to breakfast for the first time this morning, finding them welcoming and more than happy to gossip their way through their lives, or at least through the short walk to the dining hall.
“Well, where did you take riding lessons, then?”
“Don’t tell anyone, please, but I’ve never managed more than basic lessons. I keep getting kicked out.” He looked a bit abashed, perhaps, but not nearly enough for a full-grown student who couldn’t sit a saddle properly. “It turned into a game and then I just kept looking for the best way to get expelled. I lasted a whole two months one place. That woman – let me tell you, she was – oh, Enrie, why do you have all the luck? Both twins sitting there at your table. I think I need to start having breakfast with your team.”
“We could push the tables together…” Enrie found herself trailing off as she noticed what was actually going on at her table. “Maybe tomorrow?”
“Mmm? Oh. That looks bad.” Denedien clucked quietly. “The short for a too-tall one is your teammate, right? I’m sorry, I can never tell them apart, and I do try.”
“He’s wearing History House colors, yes.” Saydrie was shorter than the other Bitrani that were surrounding him – on three sides of him, she amended mentally, because Taikie had his back, quite literally. Enrie could see her sleeve and a little bit of her head through the forest of Bitrani. “I’ve got to go. I’ll talk to you tonight.”
“Good luck. Straight spears and smooth roads and all.” For all that he was being flippant, there was a quiet seriousness to Denedien’s tone. “Whatever’s going on, you go have his back.”
“Always.” She straightened her spine, raised her chin, and strode through the crowd as if she owned the place.