Aummery looked at the sick watch wher with a failing heart.  He couldn’t stand to see her hurting like this, it would be better just to kill her, let her rest.  She couldn’t possibly want to keep dragging on, in her state.  Aummery could almost feel her physical pain, like her emotional, it was almost as if he had been the one to “impress” her. 
  The man who had done that job was long since dead, and he would have killed her for pity’s sake if he had been alive.  He didn’t like to watch the poor beasts of the world suffer like everyone else thought they should do.
  Even the Holders here didn’t want to put out the marks for a new wher.  They figured they’d just breed her one last time, and keep the offspring.  Aummery couldn’t believe their audacity. 
Couldn’t they see she was hurt?  From the inside and out? No way she’d be able to bear more young, the act of trying would tear her apart, and leave her half-alive.  Couldn’t they get someone to come out here and ease this poor creature into the death?  An overdose of fellis in her water would do it…and be painless. 
  Aumerry watched as the green-tinged wher moaned and rustled.  Dusk was coming, and she knew her duty. 
  “Feeling sorry for the old watch wher again?”  A soft, mocking voice said from behind Aummery.  The boy turned around, pulling his glance from the wher, and saw his friend, Saluvmen, standing there.  Saluvmen, deathly handsome, suave, intelligent, and with a great sense of humour, (also the object of attention for half the eligible females in this Holding) didn’t understand Aummery’s feelings for the “lesser” creatures. 
  “She’s suffering.”  Aummery said quietly, not letting his brown eyes meet Saluvmen’s blue ones, and walked slowly, away from the wher, towards his friend.  The watch wher moaned again, stretching her battered heads towards Aummery, and made an odd keening noise.  Aummery ignored it, he was used to her affectionate rumblings, but Saluvmen seemed a little in shock.
  “She likes you.”  The unsympathetic lad stated, and took a step back, seeing the hating look in her eyes as she glanced at him.  Saluvmen didn’t want to be torn to bits by the watch wher, he didn’t trust the senile old thing's judgment, and definitely didn’t think her affinity for Aummery would stop her from hurting himself.
  “I know.”  Aummery said, and motioned with his head that he was heading up towards the dining hall.  Saluvmen took another hesitant glance at the wher, and hastily followed his friend. 
  Aummery listened to his own crunching footsteps, trying hard not to think of Lanna (his private name for the wher), and hoped Saluvmen wouldn’t say anything else about it.  Saluvmen would never understand, and Aummery would never ask him too.  It was the bond that held the unlikely friendship together, neither one expected anything more, or anything less, from the other.  Aummery especially, for Saluvmen had a line of faults and personality “quirks” that could fill a Weyr.  Saluvmen was the more adventurous of the two.  He was dashing as well as handsome, social, funny, and an all around good guy.  But his sense of humour often got him into deep water, and his dependency on needing to be at the center of attention left him alone and angry.  But Aummery was always there to keep his friend from solitude.
  Aummery was quiet, and almost meek in his ways.  He cared more for his friend’s welfare than his own, and got no appreciation back.  (for Saluvmen also felt being loved was his just due, and he didn’t need to be thankful)
  Aummery didn’t care much that people liked him, and didn’t try to be friendly.  He couldn’t stand people who were only pleasant to other humans, and dragons.  People his own age were fresh from their days of tormenting the watch wher, kicking puppies, cutting feline tails off with knives, and whipping runners so much they bled.  Aummery would never let himself be surrounded by such people.
  “You know.”  Saluvmen said after a moment, “I believe there’s a party tomorrow.  We haven’t been to one in a while, wanna go?”  Aummery could hear the pleading under Saluvmen’s non-chalant tone, and didn’t want to disappoint his friend.  But in Beraft Hold, “party” was synonymous with gambling, and usually gambling got the entire lot of adolescents in trouble. 
  Aummery didn’t have money to spare for the gaming anyway, and didn’t want to hang around and watch everyone throw hard-earned marks away.  But is Saluvmen wanted to go.....
  “Why not.”  Aummery shrugged, and slowed his pace so he walked in line with his friend.  “I suppose it couldn’t hurt.  Tomorrow’s a rest day after all.”  Saluvmen beamed and ruffled Aummery’s hair affectionately.
“Knew you’d agree, ya little kwer.”
  “Kwer?”  Aummery smiled.
  “Yeah.  Kwer.  It is how it sounds.  A nonsense word.”
  “Venny, every word for you is a nonsense word.”  Aummery snorted, and was slowly beginning to forget about the watch-wher, for today anyway. 
  “Too true!”  Saluvmen laughed, and sprinted ahead towards the Holding.  “Race you!”  He yelled over his shoulder, and Aummery had no choice but to stretch out his long legs and dash forward in an answer.
                           
continue....