| Aummery watched as Saluvmen stormed out of the room, scowling and muttering to himself. Aummery made no move to follow, as he usually would have done. Instead, he picked up his leather-lined boot that Saluvmen had thrown across the floor, and sat on his bed to polish it. He hated it when his good gather boots got all scuffed up. He spent all that time making them….and Saluvmen had just tossed it out like it was nothing. Aummery didn’t understand his older friend sometimes. Well, Aummery reflected, he probably doesn’t understand me either, so we’re even.
The watch wher had been dead for nearly a sevenday, and Aummery couldn’t bring himself to accept that fact she’d been beaten to death by some of the stable lads. Aummery knew he was being moodier than usual, and more regressive. But how could he not be? Those murderous snakes had killed Lanna! Aummery didn’t know how he could stand being “human”.
But Saluvmen had been anything but sympathetic. He’d chided his friend for feeling bad about a watch wher, and had even suggested that Aummery find a flit egg to cheer himself up. As if a fire-lizard would ease the violence of the other beast’s brutal death! Aummery had scoffed at his friend, and told Saluvmen that nothing would bring Lana back.
'Lana?' Saluvmen had asked. 'You’d named the watch-wher? Oh Aummery, I had no idea you were this bad…'
‘What do you mean I’m ‘this bad’’? I cared for another creature, loved her, and wanted what was good for her. I was unselfish, oh, I’m sorry Saluvmen, you don’t understand that word. Well, I wasn’t thinking only of myself when I named her. How would you like to go through life without a name?’
‘She was just a watch wher!’ Saluvmen had shouted, anger boiling deep inside his eyes, in a way that Aummery had never seen. Saluvmen was obviously expecting Aummery to slink back into his usual placating attitude, and apologize. Well, Aummery was sick of placating Saluvmen. If the older boy didn’t want to be sympathetic, then between with him!
‘Just a watch wher? Just like Nenasyi was ‘just a girl’? You stole her from me the way you’re trying to steal me memories of the watch wher, by making them seem unimportant.’
‘Nenasyi has nothing to do with this.’ Saluvmen had said broodily, arms crossed and staring out the small window in Aummery’s room. Aummery shook his head.
‘It’s the same thing. If we’re arguing about the wher, we might as well argue about the girl too.’
‘I don’t eve know why we’re fighting.’ Saluvmen sulked, and uncrossed his arms, looking pleadingly at Aummery. ‘It doesn’t make sense. Nenasyi was her own person, who made her own choices. She said she liked me, and I liked her back. I wasn’t going to not be with her to spare your feelings, feelings you didn’t even admit too.’ And Saluvmen sighed, reaching out to jostle his friend affectionately. ‘But we don’t see each other any more…’
‘She moved away.’ And Aummery jerked out from under his friend’s grasp. Saluvmen gritted his teeth anxiously, and forced a smile.
‘I know. I’m sorry Aummery, I never meant to hurt you.’ And Aummery stood very still, and cocked his head to listen better.
‘What was that? You said you’re sorry? I must be hearing things. When the great Venny admits he’s sorry for something.’ Aummery dropped the sarcastic voice. ‘You know what Venny? I’ve never heard you say that before. Not once.’
‘Well shard it all then ‘Murry! What do you want me to do? Is this all about some kids hitting on the old wher? You wouldn’t fight with me about that, I wasn’t there. I never would have hurt her like that, so what’s the problem!?’ And Saluvmen snatched up the nearest object to him, Aummery’s leather gather boot, and tightened his fingers around it, letting out some frustration. Aummery, realizing how upset his friend was, was hit with a wave of foresight. I keep pushing him, he thought, and I might make him do something we’ll both regret. After all, I can see things from his point of view, and he doesn’t understand me at all. On the other hand, I can’t believe he’s so audacious to come in here, tell me I’m wrong, and dare apologize for something that is totally irrelevant? What’s the matter with him?! Aummery’s nostrils flared,
‘What’s the matter with you?” He all but shouted. ‘How dare you presume to think it’s you I’m thinking about? And not her? I’m angry that she died, angry at how she died, angry that such a thing could happen, and you come in here and think about yourself. You could at least be a little sympathetic, knowing how I feel! I don’t want to talk about it, and you come in and force the subject, I don’t want to think about what happened between you and Nenasyi two turns ago, so you force it. What’s the matter with you?’
Saluvmen stopped breathing for a moment, a leer slowly forming on his handsome face. Aummery was immediately sorry he’d said anything, but that didn’t matter, it was too late now. With all his might Saluvmen threw the expensive boot across the room, and smiled maliciously as it hit the corner with a ‘thud’.
‘Not about me huh? Well, it seems that everything you just said was about me. What’s the matter with me? I’m perfectly normal, that’s what’s the matter. You should be asking yourself, oh Lord of all Holders, what’s the matter with you!’ And Saluvmen stormed off.
And now Aummery was left sitting on his bed, his heart aching for all the things that went wrong in his life. Saluvmen was right, he wasn’t normal. He cared too much for things that didn’t matter in his world, and he didn’t care enough about what he should. He had been angrier about Saluvmen’s pressuring than Lana’s death, and couldn’t believe he’d allowed himself to be provoked to a fight. Aummery grunted and tossed his boot back to the floor. What did it matter anyhow? It was just a boot.
I’d better go find Saluvmen. Aummery thought grudgingly, and then shook his head. No, better not. He won’t want to talk to me. I’d better give him a while to cool off. And me.
Aummery stayed in his room that night, staying away from the dining hall during supper, where he knew Saluvmen would me, healing his aching mind with social prowess. But had Aummery went down to the Hall, he may have been attracted to the outdoor yards where a dragon had landed. And had he been awake in his room, he may have felt a curious mind touch, one that couldn’t really be explained. And if he had done either of those things, he may have been Searched.
But Saluvmen was Searched instead, and the older, handsome, lad was taken away to Beach Shards Weyr for a rather large clutch they had there. Aummery didn’t know this until the next day, and he doubled his grief over the watch wher when he realized he’d never get to tell his only friend that he was sorry.