This is a second short story based on a fantasy created by Anne McCaffrey. It is fiction and no reference to any person living or dead is intended nor to any of the characters in McCaffrey's novels about Pern. I have used only the concepts created by McCaffrey and I apologise if it impinges on her copyright too closely. It is by way of tribute rather than imitation and is a measure of the enjoyment I have received from her novels over many years. It has overtones of gay sexuality (b/b and M/b.


"Daniel, its breakfast time!"

Daniel groaned.

"I wish she wasn't so loud on the weekend," he grumbled to himself. "Why can't I sleep in for a change? Why do I have to get up so early?"

"Daniel!" his mother's imperative voice shouted again. "Get up! Its after eight!"

"Oh, Lord!" he thought. "Did I really sleep that long?"

But it wasn't sleeping long that was the problem, was it? He thought to himself. It was that book. Dragon Drums. How he loved reading Anne McCaffrey. The adventures that Piemur found himself in.

As he struggled out of bed he reflected on McCaffrey's vision of the planet that was inhabited by men and magical dragons, and the foe they fought to ensure that everyone survived. Would he rather live in that dangerous environment than struggle through his existence as a 12 year old? Would he what!

He staggered into the bathroom, thinking that he must stop reading so late - it was too hard to cope the next morning. But he had that thought often and never did change. He watered and washed himself, staggered back to his bedroom and slowly dressed himself. Bracing himself for another verbal onslaught from his mother, he walked to the kitchen, carrying the book with him.

"I suppose you read 'til all hours this morning," she said.

"I wasn't too late!" Daniel replied.

"And you saw the flying pig, didn't you?" she chuckled.

Daniel grinned. "Well, not too late," he said.

"Hurry up and have something to eat. We have to leave in an hour or so. And don't spend too much time reading that book!"

His mother busied herself at the bench and Daniel took some of the toast she had already browned. He spread margarine on it, and then marmalade. Taking a quick bite, he opened his book and started to read. Piemur was just climbing onto a dragon...............

"D'nel! D'nel!" A'van's voice sounded imperative.

"Huh! What?" the sleepy boy mumbled.

"Get up, lazybones. Don't you remember what you and Farth are to do today?" A'van grinned at the tousled sleep numbed head.

"What? Uh! Oh, yeah!" D'nel's eyes were suddenly wide awake. Today he and Farth would fly between for the first time!

He bounded out of bed, and then stopped suddenly, realising that he was naked. And not a little aroused. Embarrassed he tried to turn to hide himself, blushing and looking sideways at A'van, who erupted into laughter. And just as suddenly stopped.

"I'm sorry D'nel. I shouldn't have laughed at you - but you did look so funny when you realised how you must look!" A'van gave a bit of a giggle and walked over to the boy's locker. He picked up D'nel's trousers and shirt and threw them to him. "Here, get these on. You need to break your fast because we have much to do."

D'nel looked at the young brown rider and gave a brief giggle. As he struggled into his clothes and boots he looked over at the personal weyr bench where his green dragon Farth was still sleeping. He looked back at A'van, and then asked.

"That's happening more and more to me these days. Why's that?"

"Why's what happening?" asked A'van.

"When I wake up I am all hard like that. Why does that happen?"

"Ah! Well, you see, D'nel, you are growing up to become an adult, and that's what happens as you do." A'van smiled at the boy. "It happens to all of us."

D'nel thought about it. A'van looked at him and felt the surge of affection that had been growing in strength since he and his brown dragon Moranth had first discovered the lame orphan on a search nearly a turn previous. D'nel was approaching his thirteenth turn and was clearly maturing. As the boy shrugged into his wherhide jacket, he leaned forward and gently touched the boy on the shoulder.

"How do you feel about that, D'nel?" he asked.

"Oh, alright, I guess," the boy mumbled, looking up at the rider. "But it is a bit embarrassing sometimes."

A'van put his arm around the boy's shoulders and hugged him. "Oh, yes! It can be embarrassing alright. I remember hopping out of bed one day, just like you, with my elder sister standing right in front of me!"

"What happened?"

"I screamed for her to get out! And she just laughed! Said it was too small to worry about!" A'van thought for a moment. "I hated her for that. But I got over it."

The boy turned into the brown rider and, wrapping his arms about the rider's waist, hugged him firmly.

"I am so glad that you and Moranth found me and that now I have Farth," he mumbled into the rider's chest.

"So am I, young D'nel. So am I." A'van felt a prickling in his eyes. He hugged the boy back, wondering. What would happen when Farth was ready to fly to mate for the first time? He knew what proddy greens could do to their riders. Would he allow Moranth to fly the green dragon? And then, how would he react with D'nel if their dragons were to mate? His feelings swelled in his chest, but he pushed them aside, nearly failing to do so when he thought he heard the boy mumble "I love you."

"I love you, too, D'nel," A'van whispered. Then, more loudly, "We have to go. C'mon, get yourself ready."

D'nel gave a quiet sniff, and as he looked up, A'van saw tears sparkling in the boy's eyes. He suppressed a desire to sniff himself.

D'nel walked over to his dragon. "C'mon, wake up sleepy!" he shouted, pummeling the dragon on her shoulder.

Go away he heard a sleepy voice say in his mind.

"No, you have to wake up. We go between today!"

That's no reason why I shouldn't sleep a little while longer, the dragon mumbled.

"Yes it is! Get up! "

A'van laughed. "Not as excited as you?" he asked the boy.


"Well, that's exactly the way Moranth acted on our first day, too," he said.

"Why do you think that is?" D'nel queried the brown rider.

"I don't know. Perhaps its because they always feel they know where they are," he thought aloud.

I do know where I am - always the green dragon rumbled.

A'van looked startled. "What?"

D'nel looked at him sharply. "Did you hear that A'van?"


"I didn't know Farth spoke to others," D'nel said.

I can when I want to. The dragon sounded amused.

A much deeper, fruiter voice broke into their minds. Just as I can speak to you too when I want to D'nel said Moranth. We all can if we wish. But often there isn't much we wish to say to others!

A'van broke the spell that momentarily surrounded them. "Come boy! We have to move. Food awaits, and then the day begins."

D'nel gave him another hug and then moved to the stairs that led down to the kitchens. After a hurried meal he silently called Farth to join him outside the Weyr and with A'van close behind headed outside.

The morning's activities were just beginning. Weyrlings with their young dragons were bustling all over the place and the Weyrling Masters were trying, rather hopelessly to, gain some control. For many of the Weyrlings, this would be their first flights. Others were teaching their dragons to chew the stone that would enable them to breath fire - their greatest weapon against their ancient enemy, thread. Others still were taking off for formation flight drilling. A few, like D'nel, were about to make their first flights between. A'van was instructing this group.

"Now, riders, remember, the most important lesson - have a very clear picture in your mind of where it is you want to go so that your dragon can pick up the destination from you. And don't cut it too fine. Don't come out of between too close to the ground! I haven't lost a weyrling yet who managed to bury himself and his dragon in the middle of a rock. But it has happened. So be careful."

The youngsters looked at him and nodded. One or two looked apprehensive. D'nel just smiled, his eyes twinkling in anticipation. A'van looked at him fondly and smiled - a smile that did not pass unnoticed by some of the other boys. One poked his neighbour in the ribs.

"Do you think A'van likes D'nel because of Farth?" he whispered.

"What do you mean?" the other lad whispered back.

"Well, Farth's a green, and you know, well, green riders sometimes like other riders..." He looked a bit embarrassed.

"Might be. But he and Moranth found D'nel, and D'nel's an orphan, and maybe A'van is like family to him," the lad whispered back.

"Looks closer than that to me," whispered the first lad. "But, fair enough! I think that if I was D'nel, I'd like A'van a heap, too."

The boys mounted their dragons and took them into the air. As D'nel climbed aboard Farth A'van asked him where he was going to go.

D'nel smiled broadly. "I'm going to see Oran!"

"Of course," said A'van. "Where else?" He grinned. "Get Farth to bespeak Moranth when you arrive safely please."

"Of course I will. A'van?"


"Thank you for all you have done for me. And for helping me train with Farth." The boy smiled shyly at the brown rider.

A'van tightened his smile a little. "D'nel, there is no need to thank me. Thank you for wanting me to help you."

"A'van? Do you think Moranth will want to fly Farth when it is time?"

"We will find that out at the time, D'nel, but my little friend, I do hope he does."

"So do I!"

"Now, D'nel, Farth, off with you. Enjoy your trip and do please, please, be careful. And say hello to Oran and Gidran for me."

"I will. 'Bye!" D'nel gave Farth a silent command to take off.

When they had attained sufficient height above the Weyr, D'nel set a picture of the deep caverns where he grew up in his mind, and asking Farth to take the reference implored him to allow sufficient height over the place.

I told you said the dragon. I always know where I am. I won't bury us in the mountain.

Abruptly the dragon and rider flickered out of sight and D'nel felt the awful cold of between seep into his bones. Flashing out into warm sunlight above his old home he chuckled to himself.

What is that all about? the dragon queried.

Oh thought D'nel back. It just struck me as funny that if my thing is all hard, the cold of between sure can make it shrink!

The dragon chuckled. Well that won't happen when Moranth flies me. Nothing will make it soft then.

How do you know Moranth will fly you dearheart D'nel asked his dragon.

I just know!

They fell silent as they circled above D'nel's old home, the warm companionship between dragon and rider comforting them. The sun was warm and the ground sparkled with dew. Farth spiralled down and settled in front of the caverns. D'nel looked around him with pride - pride in his dragon, and pride in his achievement - their first flight between.

You'd better tell Moranth we are here safely.

I've already done that. Farth sounded a little smug.

D'nel chuckled quietly. Why do you dragons often sound a bit smug? he asked Farth.

Its not "smug", the dragon said to him. Its just that I sometimes know what you want before you know it yourself, and I like getting it done before you ask!

A shout interrupted them.

"D'nel - Farth!"

D'nel looked towards the caverns and saw a small figure running towards them. He slid off Farth and stepped towards the caverns. Oran crashed into him and both boys danced around each other, hugging and lightly punching each other on their arms. This was not the first time that D'nel and Farth had visited Oran, but every other time they had had to fly the hard way.

"We took the direct route today," D'nel smiled at his friend.

"Direct? Oh! You've done it then - you flew between!" Oran grinned broadly at the little dragon rider.

"Yes!' D'nel shouted proudly. "Now we truly are dragon riders!"

Oran looked at his friend. Long gone was the pale and forlorn lame orphan of nearly a turn ago. In front of him stood a sun-browned sturdy young man, still limping slightly, but straight and upright. D'nel leaned proudly back against his green dragon, who hummed at the comfortable caress of the young body.

"Oran, do you think Gidran would allow you to take the day off?"

"Probably. Why?"

"Well, Farth and I can take others with us when we fly now, and there is a place I would like to take you."

"Where?" Oran looked excited.

"There's a lake between here and the Weyr. It is really beautiful and I think you would like it. We've flown there before, but now we could travel between and get there so much faster and easier."

"I'd love to see it," Oran said. "Come, we'll go and ask my father."

They ran off towards the entrance, leaving Farth to settle onto the sand and enjoy the warmth of the sun. Just inside the cavern D'nel spied a familiar, and hated, figure.

"I see Tibor is still hanging around," he said to Oran.

"Yes. Bad droppings never disappear." Oran spat.

As they entered the figure stood up and blocked their path.

"You!" he snarled at D'nel. "You ruined everything for me, and you'll pay for it."

"Don't," said D'nel. "You'll only cause more trouble for yourself."

"What more could happen to me," growled Tibor. He made a menacing move towards D'nel and then stopped suddenly as Farth roared outside the cavern.

"Tibor," D'nel pleaded. "Farth can get in here and you wouldn't be safe if you hurt me. Leave us alone. Don't cause any more trouble - its not worth it."

"One day, limpy, one day, you will get it..." The angry figure staggered back from them, turned and ran out of the entrance cavern.

"He's getting worse," Oran said. "Ever since A'van stopped him hurting you and my father expelled him from classes."

"Well, let's not worry about him today. We've much happier things to do." D'nel smiled at his friend.

Racing down the corridor, D'nel's flying boots clumping on the packed sand, they ran towards the Harpers quarters. They skidded to a halt outside the door and taking deep breaths, pushed their way inside. The Harper, Gidran, was working at his bench.

"Well, D'nel, welcome back," he said with a smile. "How is our very own dragon rider on this fine sunny morning?"

D'nel smiled shyly at him. "I'm well, Gidran. I've come to ask if Oran can spend the day with me. Can he?"

"Oh, and where would you be going?"

"There's a lake I know, and I'd like to show Oran, and I'd like to take him between, because Farth and I can now do it, and its a lovely day, and I'd like a swim..." the words came bursting out in a rush.

Gidran gave a great laugh. "Well, I can see that you are excited. Congratulations on your new found skills. Oran? Do you want to go?"

"Oh, yes, father. Please may I?"

"Well, I see no reason why not. I'll tell your mother where you are. Off you go boys and enjoy yourselves." Gidran smiled at the boys, and then turned back to his work.

The boys raced out the door, stopping only briefly to pick up some bread and cheese. When they reached Farth, dozing in the morning sun, D'nel punched her lightly on the shoulder.

"Wake up Farth, we're going to the lake."

Good. Can I swim?

"Of course you can!" D'nel giggled.

"What was that?" Oran asked.

"Farth asked if she could swim." D'nel grinned at Oran. "So can we!"

"I'd like that," Oran replied.

D'nel stopped and looked at Oran. Oran looked at him quizzically.


"Do you have a warm jacket and better boots?"

"Why? ... Oh, yes, I see. Between?"


Oran thought for a minute. "Yes, I do, I'll get them. Hang on!" He ran off back towards the cavern and D'nel turned to Farth and started fiddling with the flying straps.

This is going to be great, he thought at Farth.

Yes, the dragon replied. I like Oran. He's a good friend. The dragon gave a little hum, her eyes whirling gently at D'nel. The boy looked at his dragon friend with love in his eyes.

He's always been good to me Farth, even when no one else would have anything to do with me. Yes, he is a good friend.

The silent interchange was interrupted when an excited Oran erupted from the entrance to the cavern carrying a warm jacket and heavy boots. As he ran towards them he shrugged into the jacket, and then nearly tripped as he tried to change his sandals for the boots while still trying to run to his friend and the dragon. As he stumbled Farth gently curled her tail and prevented the running boy from falling.

"Stop running, you idiot!" D'nel chuckled. "You'll hurt yourself!"

"But I really want to get to your lake," Oran panted, supporting himself on Farth's tail.

"You won't if you break your leg!" D'nel replied.

And if you do break your leg, I won't get to swim the dragon spoke into the minds of both boys.

"What was that?" Oran gasped.

"Farth," said D'nel. "Seems she wants you to take care, too!"

"I didn't know I could hear dragons." Oran looked stunned.

"You can, if they want you to. But they don't do it very often. Only to their riders." D'nel looked at Oran and a slight smile played on his lips. "I suppose it means that Farth really likes you."

"Well, I like Farth too. Thank you Farth." Oran looked at the green dragon and gave a little bow.

You're welcome. Can we go now? the dragon asked in a plaintive tone.

"Of course we can," said D'nel. "Come on Oran, climb up on Farth's leg and onto her back. You sit on those neck ridges, just behind me. You can hold onto me tightly if you want." He gave a broad grin as he climbed onto Farth's back.

Oran smiled up at him and gently climbed up the leg Farth held out for him. He settled in behind D'nel who turned and helped him with the straps. Oran reached around D'nel's waist and, putting his hands together pushed down and pressed them into D'nels crotch. D'nel giggled.

"Not that tightly," he laughed.

"Aw - why not?" Oran laughed back at him.

D'nel giggled again. It was a long time since he and Oran had enjoyed some intimacy together and he felt a surge of affection for the Harper's son. Farth hurrumphed and D'nel gave her the command to take off. As they lurched from the ground, Oran tightened his grip, and then gave a great sigh as his senses grasped the reality of flying. He'd been on dragon back before, but this was the most special flight - with his best friend and his dragon. Circling up above the entrance to his home he heard D'nel give Farth a command to take them to the lake, and he felt the sudden freezing sensation of between as the view flicked out of sight. Almost before he had time to formulate the thought that he was glad D'nel had reminded him to get warmer clothing they emerged into bright sunshine over a lake that sparkled in the morning light. He gasped at the sight of the blue water and then felt his stomach do a flip-flop as Farth dived down towards a beach of bright white sand. D'nel felt him gasp and placed one hand on the hands that were still clutching tightly across his abdomen. He felt rather than heard Oran giggle.

"Keep hanging on, we'll be down in a couple of shakes," he called back to the boy behind him.

"Two shakes of what?" Oran called back.

"Never you mind." D'nel leant back as Farth backwinged just above the beach, pushing into Oran who gave a shiver.

"That was marvellous D'nel. But I'm really glad you made me get a warm jacket and my boots!"

"It does get kind of cold, doesn't it?" D'nel asked him. "And you don't get used to it either."

"Does it get worse than that?"

"Oh yes. It depends on how far you have to go. This was just a short hop." D'nel turned and grinned at his friend.

"Yeah! Right!" Oran grimaced. "I'm not sure I want to do a really long hop then!"

"You might one day, once we know how to get to the Southern Continent."

Farth settled on the beach and the boys dismounted. D'nel removed the flying straps and saddle bag and told the dragon to go swim. Farth ambled into the water and the boys removed their warm outer clothing as the heat of the sun started to warm them up. Removing his boots Oran walked to the edge of the water and dipped his foot into it.

"Hey, its quite warm!" He looked surprised.

"Yes! Bit of a shock, isn't it?" D'nel laughed to his friend.

"I'm going in," said Oran and started peeling his shirt and trousers off.

"Wait for me," shouted D'nel who was still putting his flying gear and bags onto the sand.

He finished stacking his gear and stripping off his boots and jacket. As he struggled out of his trousers he heard a splash as Oran raced into the water. Looking towards the boy, he saw a flash of white bottom, as the lad surfaced and then dived again. D'nel struggled out of his clothes and raced into the water. Looking for his friend he dived at him, creating a splash. As he surfaced Oran started splashing at him, and then jumped on him, ducking his head under the water.

D'nel surgaced, spluttering. "You're dead!" he shouted at Oran.

"Only if you can catch me!" Oran quickly waded back into the shallows and started to run along the lake shore. When he looked around he saw that D'nel was hurrying after him, but limping quite noticeably. He slowed to a stop.

"I'm so sorry, D'nel."

"Why?" D'nel asked as he came up to his friend.

"I keep forgetting about your leg. You just seem so strong now." Oran sniffed a little, a tiny tear forming in each eye.

"Hey, its alright, Oran, "D'nel gasped to his friend, panting from his exertions. "I am a lot stronger, but I can't run as fast, that's all!" He reached over and wiped the tears from his friends eyes, gently with his thumbs.

Oran giggled. "You're a lot browner too!" looking at the tan his friend had acquired. "You're even brown over your bottom!"

"Well, we often sunbathe on the heights above the Weyr, "D'nel smiled. "And Farth and I have spent a lot of time here, too!"

"You sunbathe like this?"

"You mean with no clothes?" D'nel looked at Oran.

Oran blushed. "Well, yes. With other people around?"

"Well, its usually just the weyrlings, but yes - no clothes."

"What about the girls?" Oran wanted to know.

"Them too," D'nel laughed. "There's only a couple of them, but they don't care."

"I can't believe that," Oran looked astounded.

"The Weyrs are much freer than the caverns and holds," D'nel said. "Mind you, its a bit embarrassing if you get hard." He blushed. "The girls laugh and get all silly if that happens."

"What about with the other boys?" Oran wanted to know.

"Oh, nothing much. No one takes very much notice, although I've had a bit of fun with a couple of other green riders."

Oran looked a little jealous. "I wish I was there," he said, wistfully.

D'nel put his hands on Oran's shoulders. "I wish you were too," he said quietly. "I've never forgotten what you did for me when I was just a poor orphan in the caverns." He sniffed a little, and then brightening said "And I remember what we used to do, too!"

Oran blushed a little and gave a small grin at his friend. Leaning in towards him he said very quietly "I remember too, D'nel, and I miss you very much."

D'nel nodded. "I wish you were with me Oran."

"I do too, but it wasn't going to happen, was it?"

"Maybe not, but at least now we can get together as often as possible."

As the boys leaned towards each other in the warm morning sun, both felt a stirring and giggled a little. They looked at each other and then down to where they were both starting to harden. Oran reached down and tentatively stroked his fingers along his friend's hardness. D'nel gave a slight shudder and moaned lightly into Oran's shoulder. Both boys heard a deep hum, and looked up, startled as Farth made her presence known to them, swimming in the deeper water close to them.

D'nel giggled again. "I think Farth thinks we need some encouragement," he laughed.

You don't need any encouragement from me both boys heard the dragon say in their minds. They both laughed.

Wrapping their arms about each other's waists they walked out of the water and across the warm sand to where D'nel had left his gear. He opened a bag and pulled out a blanket which he spread on the ground.

Oran snorted. "You do come prepared, don't you?" He gave D'nel a mischievous smile.

"Something A'van taught me," D'nel responded.

"Oh, why would that be?" Oran smirked.

"Not what you're thinking," D'nel was quick to interject.

"But you'd like that, wouldn't you?"

"Well, yes." D'nel sounded a little uncertain. "I think I love him, Oran. He has been so good to me - helping me and supporting me. And he and Moranth have helped Farth just so much."

Oran nodded. "But?" he asked.

"I think he loves me, but he hasn't really done or said anything. Well, not properly, anyway."

"What do you mean by that?" Oran asked.

"Well, it is possible that when Farth wants to mate, that Moranth will fly her. I think A'van would like that. And Farth is certain that it will be Moranth." D'nel looked a little pensive.

"What does that mean D'nel?"

"When a dragon flies a female - like a queen, or a green - they both broadcast very strong emotions and the riders usually get swept up in them."


"Well if it were a queen, the rider of the dragon that flies her successfully usually becomes the mate of the queen's rider."

"Oh, I see. But, if the rider of a green is another man, what happens then.... Oh, yes, of course, I get you." Oran looked a little bemused, and then laughed out loud.

"So you and A'van could become very, very, very good friends?"

D'nel smiled at him. "Don't you mean lovers?"

Oran blushed and quietly murmured "I guess..." He thought for a few seconds. "The Weyrs are much easier about this than other places aren't they?"

"Yes," said D'nel. "That's why we sunbathe together naked. No one is concerned about what they see."

Oran gulped and then said "But what about me?"

"You mean what about you and me?" D'nel asked kindly.


"We won't change, Oran. I'll still be your friend, and if you want a bit of fun, then that's what we'll do."


"Why not?"

They heard another contented hum from the dragon who slowly ambled out of the water and settled herself into the warm sand. The two boys embraced each other again and slowly sank down onto the blanket.......

Later, much later, as the sun sank slowly towards the horizon and the air started to chill, D'nel awoke and leaning over his friend, shook him gently.

"Oran, we have to go."

Oran gave a contented sigh. "I'm so glad you came today, D'nel."

"Is that meant to be a pun," D'nel giggled.

"NO!" Oran glared at him. "No, I meant that I have really enjoyed all we've done today - and I mean all." He looked a little sad.

"Why sad, Oran?"

"Oh, well, you know.... I don't get to see you as often as I would like, and, well, um, you are likely to find a special friendship with A'van, and.... and...." Oran gave a little sob.

"Oh, Oran, you will always be a special friend to me. Today was special to me. And even if A'van and I... well, you know, you and I will get together when we can."

There was a flurry of sand as Farth stirred. D'nel, Moranth says we have to get back.

"Yes, Farth, I know. C'mon Oran, get dressed."

The boys dressed hurriedly and D'nel fitted the straps and bags onto his dragon. They climbed onto her back and once again Oran held D'nel tightly as the dragon sprang into the air. Spiralling upwards Oran looked down at the lake.

"Thank you, thank you D'nel. Thank you Farth. I think this was the best day of my life."

No need for thanks, Oran, we love you and love being with you. Oran shivered as the dragon's voice sounded in his mind.

D'nel gave Farth the command to jump to Oran's home.............

"Daniel! Are you going to sit staring at the book all day?"

Daniel started. "What? Uh! What?"

His mother looked at him despairingly. "You've been sitting staring at that book for the last 15 minutes. Are you dreaming, or something? You're not reading it!"

"I think I've been dreaming," Daniel smiled to himself. "Oh Lord, " he thought. These daydreams are getting stronger.

"Well, whatever it was - or wherever you were," his mother laughed, "You need to get cracking. We have to leave in a few minutes. Hurry up now, and get yourself ready."

"Oh, mother," Daniel thought. "If only you knew. I've been ready for Farth and Oran and A'van, for ages now!"

Copyright © PZiLB 2003