((Disclaimer: The writing within the “Memories” series is 100% headcanon. While I try to write within the boundaries of lore, much of this is pure speculation, and completely just character exploration.))
Amon lay with his back to the earth among the scented wildflowers, his mind lost within the tantalizing symphony of aether that capered around and through him. Though his eyes stared upwards at the brilliant sky, it was only the flow of energy that he saw. One hand idly wove strands of light between his fingers, without him realizing he was doing it.
He’d not shown magical aptitude before coming to the academy at the Crystal Tower. However, tests run by the technologists there determined a strong biological fit to expand his ability to tap into the aetherflow. And so, his aether enhancement injections had begun the previous year.
These were only going to be temporary, but the outcome of the treatment had vastly opened his mind to a world beyond his own senses. It was considered such a rousing success that what was originally intended to be a month of tested development had continued for over a year.
And now, Amon wasn’t sure he could cope a lack of treatments if he wanted to. Without it, his mind ached and hungered, much like his body hungered for food. He’d be the first to admit that being lost to the vast chorus of aether made him feel more alive than anything that the mundane world offered him. Well… except for one thing.
“Amon!” He heard Clio’s familiar voice distantly through the humming of his senses. “I thought I’d find you here.”
His mind shifted, his eyes focused, and as the aether-light parted, the girl’s face materialized above him. Her lips were pursed and he knew she’d heard the news of his latest delinquency.
“Did you really set Scylla’s dress on fire?” Clio crossed her arms with a frown.
“’Twas an ugly dress,” Amon shrugged, not denying it.
“She has more ugly dresses, I’m sure.”
“Really, if her taste in fashion wasn’t so garish, I wouldn’t have to go to such lengths.”
Clio just wrinkled her nose at him. “Is she still giving you a hard time?”
“Every day,” Amon grimaced. “I’m so tired of listening to her incessant barking.”
The girl carefully lowered herself to the ground next to him, wincing with pain as she did. The boy noted that she was wearing her leg braces. Instantly, Amon sat up, offering his hand to steady her. Though Clio often grappled with her pride, today she accepted his help, settling her body in the most comfortable position she could next to him.
“Shouldn’t you be in detention?” Clio asked, taking his attention off of her own pain.
“Who’s going to make me go?” Amon crossed his arms. He tried to make it sound like a joke, but she wasn’t having it.
“If you keep this up, they’ll expel you sooner rather than later.”
He snorted through his nose. “No one’s going to expel me. They’ve got too much invested in my future. They’ve told me so themselves.”
“So why are you wasting it like this?” Clio asked him gently.
“Because ’tis all so dreadfully dull,” Amon told her with a somber look. “’Tis nothing in these classes that I can’t find for myself. The only things worth my time are Aetherochemistry and Theater.”
“Yes, and they might restrict your Theater class if you keep skipping all the others.”
The boy snorted again, defensively. “They can try.”
“Amon,” Clio sighed, putting her hand on top of his.
One touch. One motion. Just like that, all the restless frustration drained from him. The girl may not be able to see the aether like he could, but she worked magic in her own ways.
“I’m sorry,” he looked away from her, meaning his words.
“I wish you weren’t so unhappy here.”
“I just feel like… I could be doing something. Important. Not just sitting here having professors try to drill this drivel into my head,” he told her. “I want to make something. To be something. I want to do something that really matters.”
“I know you do,” Clio searched his face, trying hard to see it through her thick lenses. “I do, too. But this is the first step to that. This is where we show them we’re worthy of that kind of work.”
Amon looked down at his hand, pressed to the ground, hazy flowers poking up through the grass between his fingers. He knew her logic was sound. But how could he explain the things he felt? The things that were happening within him? If Clio ever found out he was still accepting the aether treatments…
“Hey, I had a thought,” her voice cut into his thoughts.
“Sign-ups for advanced projects are starting next week,” Clio told him. “Usually only upperclassmen thesis are considered. But maybe you can find a way to use that vast wit and charm of yours to persuade the advisors to let you substitute it for a few of your classes.”
Amon’s eyebrows lifted. “’Tis… brilliant!”
She smiled a little. “I thought that might be something that’d interest you.”
“Yeah! Why didn’t I think of that?” He laughed, his spirits lifting substantially at the thought of putting some of his ideas to actual use. Before he realized it, Amon had thrown his arms around Clio in a friendly hug.
The girl winced a bit, her body shuddering at his touch. Immediately, he pulled back with a frown of concern.
“It’s okay,” she breathed out her pain softly. “I’m glad you’re happy.”
Amon wasn’t reassured, however. He just pursed his lips and looked down at the flowers again. He knew she’d get frustrated if he spoke what was on his mind. She always did.
“Clio,” he hesitated before saying it. “Maybe we can look into something for you.”
“Clio,” Amon insisted. “I’ve seen it lately. You’ve been using your brace more often than not.”
“It comes and goes,” she protested. “I’ll be fine.”
“But what if you won’t? ‘Tis procedures… ’tis medicines… ’tis clone transplant… there has to be something.”
“No,” Clio she said more strongly this time, looking away from him. At that moment, with the sunlight playing in her auburn hair, she looked so tiny and fragile.
“Why?” he breathed. “I just don’t want to see you hurting anymore.”
“I know you don’t understand,” she tried to answer. “People do so much to avoid pain in this world… so much that I think they’ve forgotten what it means to struggle. To be human. To live.”
A sudden welling of emotion gripped him from within. It was his turn to put his hand on hers. “You don’t have to bear that pain for everyone else, Clio.”
“I choose to. Someone has to, Amon.”
“I wish you’d reconsider.” His voice quavered as he shook his head. “But if I can’t change your mind, at least let me help you in other ways?”
“You already do.” Clio smiled thankfully. Then she laid her head against his shoulder.