It had been a Turn of depression, of problems stemming from the Fort disaster, of cold temperatures and miserable weather and more and more injuries in the Infirmary after Threadfall. And now the rumor mill was thick with whispers of a food shortage. A grim mood had gripped the Weyr (or perhaps a grim mood had gripped Piper, which caused her to see grimness everywhere she looked).
But now, a series of events had conspired together, and Piper felt the sudden need for celebration. For the first time in months, she felt something close to happiness. In the first place, Garnet Basteth had Risen. That meant a clutch would be coming (and about time, too-- how had it been so long? Piper was sure it didn't normally take this long. That had to be Fort's fault too somehow), and with it, another chance to Impress. For her, as well as all of the candidates. And even if she didn't Impress, some of her peers would, so they would go on to experience the life-changing wonder of raising a dragon. Not to mention, the (very) badly needed increase to the ranks of riders, as Vaioa's wings (and those of the other Weyrs of Pern) were stretching thinner and thinner, between trying to cover Fort's territory and being decimated by injury.
Aside from all of those, which were very respectable and noble things to be excited about, Piper had been on the receiving end of some of the best news she'd personally received in a while. The Healers had informed her at her last check-up that her cast could finally come off, and the wher who had sniffed at her leg had apparently informed his handler that her bone had regrown without any apparent ill effects. (Aside from having to stump around on crutches for what felt like an eternity.) This had lent a kind of desperate impatience to her attitude for the past two sevendays.
But now, finally, the day was here. The cast was off. The crutches were given back. And Piper was incredibly wobbly and weak, but at least she was free.
Piper knew that it wasn't the same as it had been before Fort. There were still troubles. But she pushed them away. She didn't want to think about them. Tonight, she just wanted to celebrate, which she felt she had not been able to do for months and months.
She'd stopped by the kitchens (ignoring the twinge of guilt about the rumors of the stores being low), and received a basket of fruit, rolls, cookies, cheeses-- snacking provisions. Now that there had been a flight, drinking was discouraged, but Piper doubted they'd get in trouble for a moderate indulgence, so she received thermoses of mulled wine (and spiced cider for good measure, in case anyone didn't want alcohol). It was after dinner, and the candidates would be milling around in their free time.
The perfect opportunity for a celebration.
Back in the common area of the candidate barracks, Piper took some time setting up the provisions and arranging the furniture to be most conducive to small groups of people socializing. If she'd had her way, she would have made it a full-blown miniature Gather, and propped up a harper in the corner, but there was no Harper to be found, so this would have to do. She beamed. A couple of other candidates had already shown up. The recent Flight had lifted spirits within the barracks, and it looked like her celebration would be a success.
Chores done for the day, Porictir had finished his meal and headed back to the barracks. He'd been lucky enough to be on Lower caverns duty and so had managed to grab his dinner and end his shift. His fellow candidates on the same duty had done likewise, and then been joined by everyone else in dribs and drabs. Uncharacteristically, for Porictir, he'd been quiet through their meal, eating his food more on reflex than by design. He should, he mused, be excited about a hatching, but what if he was left standing again. Spook, rather bravely for her, had crawled out of the hooded tunic he had on and was on the table, wrapped around his arm and crooning at him. Not altogether altruistically, as she was managing to snag random bites when his attention wavered. He'd finished and headed back, accompanied by Marlach, who was nursing his brown firelizard. Spook was sat on Porictir's shoulder, leaning down at a precarious angle, trying to coax the little brown into a conversation.
Marlach looked up and grinned. "He's asleep Spook" She chirped at his attention and sat back up on her bonded's shoulder, pretending like he'd not noticed her. Porictir laughed and stroked her neck, she was still tiny compared to firelizards and he didn't blame her for her nerves. "Silly thing, you know Marlach" She cronned and leaned into his touch and the taller lad smiled down at the smaller. "Your little brown doing well?"
Marlach scratched the brown's back, chuckling as the action set off an itch, which Roly woke to scratch before lidding his eyes again. "He's doing well. Eats his own weight in food three times a day. I don't think he'll be able to fly soon!"
The two carried on and reached the barracks, entering and finding themselves in a changed lounge. Things had been moved around, there were snacks and there was Piper in the middle of it all. A few others were there and with an ungraceful squawk, Spook shot back into Porictir's hood, staring out with reddened eyes.
"Oh great!" Marlach exclaimed, a smile lighting up his face. "Is this a flight party?" He wandered forwards, looking about. "Oh and your cast is off, that's great Piper!"
Porictir followed suit, following the younger lad forwards. "Yes, congratulations on your freedom back Piper. Just don't strain it with too much exercise, although I'm sure the healers would have told you that already." He looked around. "You've made the place look great!"