The Marquise stepped closer, her soft hand stroking through her granddaughter’s shortened hair. “Yes… much better. You have much of your father in your face, when he was your age. I remember sending him off to the Academe, he was so happy…” She trailed off, her fingers going still in Audrey’s hair. She drew her grandchild towards her, hugging her briefly. “Ah, dear Jack. Go on, go and bathe now. You have a busy day. We will visit the mausoleum so you may pay your respects, but this afternoon there are other matters to be seen to. No time for dallying.”
True to her word, after Audrey had washed and dressed in her brothers clothes, they went to their family’s resting place. It was quiet, a bright collection of flowers crowding around the white stone tomb. They stayed a little longer than Teresa had the pervious day, allowing Audrey her pain but not allowing her to wallow in it. Death was a sad fact of life, but one could not become lost in sorrow. Life had to be lived.
The following weeks were filled with lessons, from how to dress to how to ride and fight. Mostly it was a struggle to get Audrey to abandon her feminine habits, such as her laugh, her walk, even eating. Her grandmother was the driving force, but all the servants pitched in to help her change. It was intense and frustrating, but there was no backing out, and it helped the whole household move forwards. Grief was still present, but it wasn’t given any foothold for those two months.
Sampson, however, was not distracted. A mourning dragon was a miserable thing to behold. He was not eating as well, and his bones were becoming more pronounced. There was little to be done – not even another dragon knight could get him out of his despair. He would die or live, but could not be influenced in either way. The Marquise did her best to keep Audrey from knowing, but a sorrowful dragon was a hard thing to hide.
Too soon, the day came when Audrey had to leave her home, to take Jack’s place among the pages of the Academe. There was a strange mix of excitement and sorrow, clothes freshly tailored to fit Audrey’s taller frame being packed and stowed on the carriage, Teresa directing them. She would not see her grandchild for months, if all went as it should. Her emotions stamped down, she was more stern than ever, commanding the footmen as ruthlessly as a general would his soldiers.