It was a sevenday before she was to move to the Barracks, a final transition to a true weyrling. She was resigned to this fate as much as she could be. Truth be told, she had prepared herself for worse. Oh she made a big fuss about it all, and it was all true, but she'd been through much worse for much longer. She could endure what she had to if she had to, but that didn't mean she wasn't going to try her best for reasonable accommodation. And to be fair, they were giving her that. She didn't need all the lessons a normal weyrling would, having first grown up in the Weyr, having lived in Weyrs her entire life, and also already being a journeyman -- should have been a senior by now -- just meant she didn't need a lot of the basic lessons that they rest of them did. It wasn't so much that she was smarter than any of them -- she'd not met them all -- so much as just life experience that came with age. Her knowledge on many of the first few months topics was already there, and despite a few holes, most of it involved things she already knew or had a good baseline. Hence her assigned AWLM could simply get her through a sevenday's worth of lessons in a day. She'd waste away mentally if forced to endure classes with youngsters half her age. Not to mention, she hadn't chose this. She hadn't even been in the room when Ilexeth had Hatched and Impression been made, Faranth figure that one out. Weyrlinghood had been forced upon her, and that came with its own mental stress. Not that she'd trade Ilexeth for all of Pern, but it didn't make it easy either. Therefore, this accommodation acknowledged her own age, intelligence and knowledge, and balanced her mental health needs against the demands of a weyrling. Truth be told, they'd struck a better balance than she'd had any right to hope for, despite having pushed for more. She'd get some limited time in the Infirmary, at least until Ilexeth was older and the lessons less classroom based and more dragon and wing drills.
But that didn't mean she was going to enjoy the move to the barracks. All she could hope for was that sooner rather than later, she and Ilexeth would be allowed to return to her old weyr, the one she'd once shared with her family. Z'go was going to move next door. The ledge on hers was damaged and difficult for a dragon, and while not impossible to get on and off from for a dragon as small as Ilexeth surely would be, it had no room for sunning. But with the weyr next door, her and Z'go could have a nice little suite. She wouldn't be surprised if he'd managed to tunnel through the walls between. But that was a ways off...
In the meantime, Ilexeth could still fit down the tunnels, and Ambrelli could still carry her, even if it was awkward and she was heavy now. So it was one early morning that she woke Ilexeth and cajoled the little gray dragon into following her. It took what seemed like forever, the walk long in the first place, and then the climb up the steps even longer. They stopped to rest often, Ilexeth still not used to such physical exertion. But eventually, just as the sun was peaking through with its first rays of light, did they make it to the top. Cautiously, Ambrelli opened the door. She took a moment, then bent down to Ilexeth.
"This was my home before you, Lexi. I haven't been here since you Hatched really. But I wanted you to see it, to see where I hope we'll come back to when you're older..."
As if completely oblivious to the gravity of the moment, Ilexeth yawned. Ambrelli rolled her eyes, stood, and entered her home, holding the glows out before her to light the way.
It was as she remembered, rock piles still intact, the collapsed passage to the dragon's wallow half blocked. There was an air of abandonment about the place, even if she'd only been gone a couple months. A layer of fine dust was over everything, except for a wine cask in the corner, and some books on the shelf, remnants of her wine venture with Z'go. On the shelf, there was the painting of her parents, Ranth, and her as a child, her innocent blue eyes full of hope and wonder.
Ilexeth entered slowly, her eyes adjusting to the lower light and neck slunk lower to the ground. She was tired, but she could sense from hers that this was an important moment. Her whirling eyes took it all in, and she moved slowly about the scarce furniture, before moving over to a rock pile and sniffing it. Dust rose in a small cloud at her breath, and she sneezed. She looked around again, watching as Ambrelli moved about the space.
A squeak and a chirp broke the silence, as Merck appeared, the brown chattering at Ambrelli before landing near Ilexeth on a table. He still stayed with Z'go most of the time, but he'd met Ilexeth, and she seemed amused by him more than anything, and he, like all the draconics that had met her, adored her. She enjoyed his company too, and he hers. He cocked his head and chirped at the little gray, before going and landing on her shoulder, curling himself around her neck and peering up at Ambrelli.
<<This place seems sad,>> Ilexeth said finally, nosing the rock pile again. <<Like something bad happened here...>>
Ambrelli turned to look at them, her little dragon and her flit, and moved over to the couch. She sat down, patting the space beside her, trying not to cough at the dust that arose. "Come here, Lexi." The little green walked slowly over, and climbed onto the couch. She barely fit now, her body length almost the same as Ambrelli was tall. She laid her head on Ambrelli's lap, and Merck repositioned himself about Ambrelli's neck instead of the dragon's. "Good girl. Now I want you to look again..."
This time, Ambrelli opened up her memories and shared them through their bond, of her father swinging a little girl through the air as she giggled. Following her mother and father around, and then chasing a pet cat past the space where rockfall now partially blocked the opening to a bedroom. Of a birthingday celebration, a little girl's cheeks puffy and happy as she opened a wooden dragon carving her father had made. Ambrelli pointed, and Ilexeth looked up to the bookshelf, where the carving now sat covered in dust. Of falling asleep as her mother sang to her in a chair next to the fireplace, her mother stroking her dark hair. Another memory, this time of bronze Ranth out on the now-collapsed ledge, then visible in the wallow just past the rock fall Lexi had sniffed earlier. Ambrelli curled up beside him with a chart of dragon anatomy beside her, practicing naming things on him. Then of a small egg in the a box of sand on the fireplace, starting to shake, and a brown head slowly appearing from a crack. Then back in the wallow, a slightly older girl now leaning against the bronze dragon, a little Merck asleep on her lap as she recited parts of the wing membrane. Another one of her parents, celebrating her father's Impression day to Ranth long long ago in a different Weyr. They were older now, the gray visible at her father's temples. Her mother hugged him, and he put his arms around her shoulders. Then he opened his gift from his daughter, now a young woman herself, her apprentice dragonhealer knots proudly displayed on her shoulder.
This was her last memory of them here in this place. Truly of them in general. So many of them were fading away, these brief moments, these snipets, all she could remember now of her family. And their faces were ageless, nearly identical to that in the painting, perhaps because that was the only way she could picture them anymore. Ilexeth, sensing her emotions, brought her head up to Ambrelli's, and the woman leaned down to touch her forehead to her dragon's, something they'd done since Ilexeth had Hatched.
<<I see now.>> The little green said simply as Ambrelli's tears rolled down both their faces. <<Yes, you are right. This is home...>> And Ambrelli's tears came all the more...