Grass is Greener
by etcetera-cat
 
Disclaimer:  Everything relating to the world of Velgarth and the kingdom of Valdemar is the sole property of the author Mercedes Lackey.  Any spelling mistakes, abuse of grammar, plot inconsistences or other nonsense is solely the fault of etcetera-cat.
 
Rating:  'T'.
 
Feed(back) etcetera-cat.
 
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Chapter Three- Squeakings and Sharings.

I have squeaked.  And squealed.  And bounced.  And threatened to explode all over the Field.  I think the others have guessed that Iíve Chosen somehow.


Derri is now really proud of me and informed her Chosen right away that the newest Trainee was mine, so the whole of Heraldic Collegia knows by now.  I hope that doesnít freak Alexander out.
 

I can still feel him in the back of my mind, and if I concentrate, I still get what he is seeing as a kind of ghosting image over my own vision.  Veran has told me that that is a sign of a strong Herald-Companion bond and most Companions donít get that until after a few months, with their Chosen not getting it until a year or so later.  Apparently it happens a lot faster if youíre Chosen has active Gifts or is older, and since my Alexander is both of those things, then itís not that surprising.
 

Speaking of Gifts, I know that Alexander is a strong Mindspeaker, ouch do I know!  And he has both forms of Thoughtsensing.  I think he also has Farsight, which looks fairly strong as well.  But I love him whatever Gifts he has!.
 

Right now Iím standing, well, basking really, in the sun with Sinna and Henri, two of my close friends.  They are both the same age as me and havenít yet Chosen, so Iíve been fielding their questions for the past several candlemarks.
 

:Where is he now?:  Henri is a bit taller than me at the withers and has lighter blue eyes.  He also has dust all over him from when he was playing about on the obstacle track before I squeaked at him.
 

I concentrate for a moment on that double vision.  :Right now, heís having a tour of the Palace and Collegium.  His mentor, Gacheríll be out here with him in a minute, and then you can meet him!:
 

:Is he really as lovely as you say?:  Sinna looks at me curiously and I Ďgriní at her and bob my head.  
 

:Oooh, yes!  I admit I may be a bit biased however.:  Both she and Henri laugh at that.
 

Before I can say any more another Companion whickers a greeting from behind me, and I turn with a slight start.
 

:Sorry.:  she says with a chuckle.  :I thought you heard me coming.:
 

:Too busy gossiping.:  I say sheepishly.  I recognise her as one of the Companions who is older than Henri, Sinna and I, and sheís called Kai.
 

:About your Chosen?  I know the feeling.:  Kai laughs again, before continuing.  :I thought Iíd come over as theyíre about to get here.:
 

:They?:  Henri sounds as confused as I feel for a moment.
  Kai snickers at the three of us.  :Gacher and Alexander of course.  Gacher is my Chosen.:  she moves to stand next to me and nods her head towards the fence.  :In fact, thatís them now.  Shall we?:  She looks sideways at me and I snicker back.
 

:Oh, we probably should.:  I sat airily, before bouncing into a trot towards the distant figures.  Kai matches her pace with mine and we quickly cover the emerald expanse of grass.  Both Gacher and Alexander have climbed over the fence and are waiting for us.
 

ďThis is Kai.Ē  Gacher says to Alex, before stepping forward to hug her.  Kai nods a greeting to Alexander and nuzzles her Chosen.
 

Alexander looks at me and I deliberately pose and wink at him.  :Well he-llo!:  The tone of my voice makes him widen his eyes in surprise slightly before a grin breaks over his face and he mirrors Gacher by wrapping his arms around my neck.  
 

Ooo, I could most definitely get used to this.  I decide with a sigh of contentment as Alex twines his fingers in my mane.  I have decided that Choosing is absolutely the best thing that can ever happen to anyone.
 

Kai looks over at the pair of us and whickers with amusement.  :Weíll leave you pair to get acquainted.:  She jokes.  :I suggest taking him bareback riding.  Thatís what I did for Gacher when I found him.  Of course, we also had near a month to get to know each other before we got back to Haven.:
 

She frees herself from her Chosen, and I do the same and we touch noses together.  :Have fun.:  She says to me, and then, to Gacher as well; :Come on ragbag, I need a brush and Teva wants her Chosen all to herself.  You can find him again at dinnertime.:
 

Gacher laughs at that.  ďRagbag yourself, oh collector of dust.  See you for dinner Alex, Iíll leave you in the capable hooves of your Teva.  I have to go defluff Kai.Ē
 

Kai rolls her eyes at me and I laugh soundlessly as the pair of them walk over to the gate out of the Field and vanish into the stables.
 

Alex watches them go and then turns back to look at me.  ďUm, what do we do now?Ē  He asks.
 

:Thatís entirely up to us, Chosen.:  I inform him.  :Dinner isnít until much later and we have to spend time together to strengthen our Bond.  How does a ride sound?:
 

ďThatíd be wonderful!Ē  Alexanderís eyes light up.  Iíll massage my ego and say that itís at the prospect of spending quality time with yours truly.  Since he seems so amenable I move to stand next to the fence and turn to blink wisely at him.
 

:Up you go then.:
 

ďBareback?Ē
 

:Of course.:  I snicker.  :I wonít let you fall off.  Itís more comfortable this way, besides I just got the saddle off.:
 

ďUh, okay.Ē  He looks at my back with some trepidation.  ďYouíre kind of tall thoughÖĒ  He trails off as I laugh.
 

:The fence, dearest.:  I point out calmly as he blushes and coughs, before climbing onto the fence and pulling himself onto my back.  He settles himself and wraps his fingers around the base of my mane.
 

ďThis isnít hurting you is it?Ē  He asks.
 

:Of course not.  Feel free to hold on if you want.:  As I say this I turn my head slightly and look back at him.  :All settled?:  At his affirmative I say, :Good!  Off we go then!:  and I move off at an easy walk, making sure that he is comfortable with the pace and isnít unbalanced before moving up into a rolling trot that takes us out into the Field proper.  There are most definitely advantages to having a Chosen who can already ride, Alex shifts his weight and balance automatically as I move.  Brandyn will really want to kill me when he finds out about this.  I snicker to myself, I might have to go find him.  But firstÖ
 

:Want to go faster?:  I ask, accompanying the words with an impression of a wicked grin.
 

In reply, Alexander leans forward over my neck and grips my barrels with his legs, approximating a jockey position.  :Why not?:  He asks and grips harder on my mane in anticipation as I lengthen my stride and switch up to an almost-gallop.  The gentle breeze turns into a howling wind that streams over and around us as I fly across the ground and I can feel Alexander revelling in the sheer elemental pleasure of it, without having to worry about anything else.  Good good.
 

In no time at all I have carried us across the Field and made a gentle arc so that we are heading towards the river.  Before the river, however, there are some artistic little streams and brooks, and they arenít all that wideÖ
 

I feel Alexís silent assent as he catches sight of the waterways and I shorten my stride slightly, bringing my head up and judging the distance to the first stream.  Reaching the bank, I shove off with my hind legs and we go sailing over the stream to land with a thud on the other side, scattering sandy soil around my legs before I continue with my run.  
 

Well, that was certainly different.  Iíve jumped those streams before, of course, but never with anyone on my back.  That makes a lot of distance, and I decide that having a Chosen who can ride is fine, but weíre still going to need equitation lessons!
 

I soar my way over three more of the ornamental brooks in quick succession, partly because itís fun, but also to get used to moving with someone on my back, before we reach the Terilee river, and Windrider himself could not jump that, so I donít intend to try either!  Instead I slow down and jog to a halt by the gently sloping bank to the river.  The water looks nice and inviting, so I dip my head for a quick drink as Alex straightens up and clears his throat.
 

ďWow.Ē  He says.  I know!  Iím good arenít I?!  Of course, heís about as biased towards me as I am towards him.  ďThat was fast.Ē
 

:I can go faster you know.:  I inform him solemnly, before turning to look at him with a humour filled sapphire eye.
 

ďReally and truly?Ē  He asks, looking a teeny bit doubtful.
 

:Really and truly.:  I confirm with a bob of my head.  
 

I twist my ears back, I can hear three Companions approaching, turning neatly around I find that itís Henri, Sinna and Brandyn.
 

:Hey guys.:  I pose slightly and try to look nonchalant, only to be treated to an impression of raised eyebrows from all three of them.
 

:Finished squeaking and bouncing then?:  Brandyn asks with amusement, casting a glance up at Alex, who is regarding the three Companions with curiosity.
 

:You were right Teva, he is lovely!:  Sinna exclaims with a grin.
 

:I know.:  If I was a cat I would be purring at the moment.  Then switching to a Broadsend that includes Alexander, I make introductions.
 

:This is Alexander and heís my Chosen.:  Cue preening and imminent exploding Companion.  :Alex, these are three of my friends.  The tall one on the left is Henri, the one in the middle is Sinna and the mud demon on the right is Brandyn.:
 

Brandyn snorts at that.  :Itís not my fault!  I had equitation with Keth and Misa decided that we could try the obstacle course.  Bits of me ache that I didnít know that I had!:
 

I laugh and relay what Brandyn says, as well as the hellos from Hen and Sinna, to Alex, who smiles rather shyly and says hello back.  They take it in turns to touch his hand briefly with a velvet soft nose before backing off.
 

:Well,:  I turn to look at Brandyn.  :I am most definitely due some food, I shall see you later.  Iíll also take Hen and Sinns with me Teva, give you some quality time alone.:  I laugh at that.
 

:I was just going to suggest that we went to the stables.:  Henri says loftily, with a sideways look at Sinna.  :Wasnít I, Sinns?:
 

:Oh, most definitely!:  Unfortunately for Henri, neither I nor Bran believe him, and Sinna canít keep from laughing.  I shake my head at them and make tutting sounds.
 

:I shall see you lot later.:  With that I turn and amble towards the grove of trees to my right as they move in the direction of the stables, still laughing amongst themselves.
 

ďHave they all Chosen?Ē  Alex breaks our comfortable silence once we are under the pine trees and are surrounded by green tinged light.
 

:Henri and Sinna havenít.:  I say.  :Brandyn has though, his Chosen is called Keth and sheís only been here a few months.  There are, let me think, three other Chosen that have arrived in the past month, so youíll have Orientation class with them.:  I shake my head and snort at myself.  
 

:Listen to me rabbit on!  Dean Sidri would have told you all this already.:
 

Alex laughs and leans forward so that he can wrap his arms around my neck again.  :Thatís okay, I donít mind.:  He says, isnít that sweet?!  If I were a social butterfly Iíd hop around flapping my hands artfully and squealing.  I settle for arching my neck and sighing with contentment.
 

:You are going to spoil me.:  I inform him with a chuckle.  :Good!:
 

He laughs at that.  :Why shouldnít I spoil you?:  He asks seriously.  :And itís not spoiling you, itís the truth.  Today is the best day of my life, you are the best thing thatís ever happened to me.:
 

Melting heart alert!  Danger!  Exploding Companion!
 

:Conveniently enough, I feel the same about you.:  I say as I continue my leisurely ramble through the pine scented calmness.  This isnít the Grove, thatís further back and more near the centre of the rear portion of the Field.  This is just one of the numerous copses that have been cultivated in the Field.  Variety is the spice of life and all.
 

We continue like this for candlemarks, until the green twilight of the shade has turned into the real twilight of night.  Neither of us say much, directly, we just share each otherís thoughts, learning about each other.  I donít know quite everything about Alexander by the end of it, but Iím getting there.  I am very glad that we have a strong bond.
 

Finally, as the twilight is deepening into real night, Alexander and I return to the Collegia complex and he heads off to find Gacher.
 

I head to the stables and slowly eat some oats, reflecting on the fact that this time last week, I just thought I was having strange dreams, and now, here I am with a Chosen.
 

I drift off to sleep, with the sound of the wind murmuring through the trees outside, and with half of my mind and all of my heart concentrated on the skinny new Heraldic Trainee who is sleeping in the building not ten metres from the stables.
 

It is indeed, the best day of my life.

 

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