|“||Their lungs melted,
Their breath turned green.
Sick, listless, ailing,
Dragons fled between.
When Fiona, the only surviving member of Lord Holder Bemin's family, Impresses a queen dragon, she doesn't begin to realize the perils and privileges that come with her new role. As she grows into a young woman and her dragon reaches her full growth, Fiona faces not only the possibility of losing her dragon to the sickness that has claimed so many others but also the challenges of becoming a Weyrwoman in her own right. What, she must ask herself, is she willing to give up in order to become a queen rider? And, although the marvellous queen dragon has chosen her, is she really suited to the life of a queen rider?
As the injured dragons at Fort Weyr begin to outnumber those fit to fly against Thread, Weyrleader K'lior comes up with a desperate plan — to send the least injured and the older weyrlings back in time, so that they can grow strong enough to fight Thread in the past and then returnto help the Weyr. But will only twelve older weyrlings and thirty lightly injured riders be enough to save Fort Weyr? Forced to stay behind because her dragon is still too young, Fiona must confront a life-and-death choice.
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Following a meeting at Fort Weyr — where Benden Weyrleader M'tal fails to convince the Fort and Istan Weyrleaders to train watch-whers to fly Thread at night — the Hatching of Melirth's latest clutch begins. In attendance is Fiona, the daughter of Lord Holder Bemin of Fort Hold — since she knew Kindan, who she adores, would also be visiting. When the queen egg hatches, the hatchling, Talenth, makes her way over to the stands, where Fiona Impresses her.
In the night, following the entertainment, Kindan wakes from a nightmare about the Plague; Fiona and Talenth wake too, feeling his pain. Unknown to either of them, a mystery queenrider is observing the Weyr.
The next day, Fiona sees her father off, and spends the next few sevendays caring for the young Talenth, also making the acquaintance of the Senior Weyrwoman Cisca — who she later goes to for advice when she finds Talenth doesn't seem to remember Talith the day after his death was reported. Several days later, Fiona wakes and finds Weyrleader K'lior and Cisca discussing a strange illness that has appeared amongst fire lizards — specifically, Kindan's bronze Valla, who has already succumbed to the illness and gone between. To prevent this from potentially spreading to their dragons, they plan to send all fire lizards to the Southern Continent, noting their bond with a human isn't as strong. The next day, K'lior and Cisca announce this in the Kitchen Cavern, and force their riders to send their fire lizards away. After learning of this, Lord Bemin travels to Fort Weyr, and gets Fiona to send both of their fire lizards — bronze Jokester and gold Fire — to the Southern Continent.
Not long afterwards, T'jen, the Weyrlingmaster, notices that a large number of the weyrlings — including Fiona — and their dragons appear to be drowsy. He informs the Weyrleaders, and after they decide that strong klah might help them, Cisca decides to get Tannaz — the other Junior Weyrwoman — to keep an eye on Fiona. Cisca later notes wingleader T'mar also seems to be affected — remembering he failed to become Weyrleader as a result.
Some time later, Fiona is unexpectedly visited by Bemin, and a fight breaks out between then, which the other Weyrwomen later note has helped both of them adjust to Fiona's new role.
Twenty days after the fire lizards were banished, there appears to be no sign of any illness, so Cisca wonders if they could bring the fire lizards back, only for dragons to report the sudden deaths of Kamenth, Jalith and Breth — the Senior Queen of Benden Weyr. The next day, T'jen's Salith is found to have the sickness, and a meeting is held between the Weyrleaders and wingleaders to decide what to do, a major problem being that Fort Weyr hasn't had a healer since their last one was goaded into a duel with wingleader H'nez. Ultimately, Salith is moved to an empty weyr at the far end of the Weyr Bowl, and T'mar is chosen to take over as Weyrlingmaster.
Meanwhile, Fiona is sent by Tannaz to check on the older dragonriders as part of her duties, and ends up talking with several until heading to the Kitchen Cavern, where she ends up learning new ways of cooking with the women there — also encountering the aging and partly senile Headwoman Melanwy, who she finds wanted to go between with the previous Weyrwoman — and even ends up serving her food to the Weyrleaders.
The next morning, Fiona wakes and finds Tannaz's dragon Kalsenth has the sickness. Cisca arrives with Kentai — the Weyr harper — and they treat Kalsenth with the decoction used at Benden Weyr. Cisca later begins making orders for more of the «potion» for the sick riders, and Fiona ends up traveling with T'mar to Fort Hold to get fresh supplies as theirs begin to run low. Fiona manages to get the herbs they need, talking with several old acquaintances at the Hold, and later encountering Lord Bemin, who is returning from the Harper Hall after another fight with Songmaster Kelsa. Bemin reveals to Fiona that Kelsa is pregnant with his child, and that they have been fighting over whether the child will have to be raised at Fort Hold — as the next Lord Holder — or not. Fiona tells him she thinks he's being silly, before returning to Fort Weyr with T'mar.
Seven days later, Tannaz tells them to stop treating Kalsenth, since it isn't working for her — or many other sickly dragons. They discuss this in the Kitchen Caverns — Fiona noting that Melanwy is hanging around Tannaz, later realizing that Melanwy knows her mind is failing, and thinks the only way she can keep her honor is to go between with a queen dragon — and conclude that they can only wait. Afterwards, Fiona returns to her weyr, and sees a strange girl near the entrance. She confronts her, and learns that the girl, Xhinna, sneaked on to the Hatching Grounds and attempted to Impress Talenth, but failed. Xhinna states that nobody likes her because she's «different», and that Melanwy wants to send her away, so Fiona invites her to come back whenever she wants and help her oil Talenth.
Later, after seeing to Tannaz — and forcing Melanwy to back down — Fiona looks for Xhinna, eventually finding her caring for the children of the weyr — inadvertently setting them up to be sad about the illness. They head back to Tannaz's weyr, and Fiona leaves Xhinna there to keep an eye on Kalsenth while Tannaz rests. Later on — after an uncomfortable dinner where H'nez insulted Xhinna — Fiona and Xhinna head back to Tannaz's weyr, and Fiona gets Melanwy to properly address her as Weyrwoman. Cisca arrives and supports her, and tells her after Melanwy leaves to be careful with her «gift» — some dragonriders can force others to their will.
Later, K'lior and Cisca meet with the wingleaders, and K'lior announces that his plan to post three wings of riders to holds to scout for Thread falling as Blackdust — in addition to this, they decide to subtly remove Melanwy as Headwoman by having Ellor «stand-in» for her while she tends to Tannaz. The next day, H'nez travels to Fort Hold, and explains his duties to Bemin — while claiming not to recognize him — who later goes to the Harper Hall and apologies to Kelsa. Two days later, after watching Fort Hold's ground crew drill — something made difficult as their flamethrowers only work with the old firestone — H'nez is recalled to Fort Weyr since sick dragons in his wing aren't expected to survive the night. After he leaves, V'ney, H'nez's replacement, apologizes for his arrogant behavior.
At Fort Weyr, Fiona and Xhinna — who is now sharing Fiona's weyr — have been checking on the sickly dragons and their riders — one of whom, L'rian, thinks Xhinna could potentially Impress a green or a blue dragon. Fiona suspects that Melanwy is planning something with them and H'nez, but Xhinna thinks otherwise. After they feed Talenth — now old enough to eat from the pens — Fiona snaps at Xhinna for talking about mating flights. T'mar comes over and sends Xhinna to help Ellor, before telling Fiona she's been treating Xhinna like a drudge; Fiona subsequently apologizes to Xhinna. In the night, Fiona wakes and finds Tannaz and Melanwy trying to get Kalsenth to move; they are planning to go between with many of the sickly dragons and their riders. As the Weyrleaders and H'nez arrive, Fiona tries to stop her, but is forced to let her leave, and she says her goodbyes before they go between.
The next day, the watchdragon reports Blackdust at Fort Hold, and a meeting is held to discuss the Weyr's next move — at the same time, T'mar and P'der report this to Benden and Ista Weyrs, despite the potential risk of their dragons catching the disease. Cisca engages Fiona in a large number of tasks to stop her thinking about the illness. One night, Fiona goes to check on T'jen, and finds that Salith has died in his sleep. She calls for other to come care for Tajen — as he will now be known — and the next day, Salith's body is lifted out of the weyr and interred between.
Later, Fiona joins the others in a medical drill, where the weyrlings are first taught how to deal with minor injuries, before T'mar's wing fake various injuries for them to treat. Fiona ends up successfully «treating» Zirenth, only to realise at the end she forgot about T'mar.
In the night, Fiona and Xhinna wake, and find Tajen entering the Hatching Grounds. They follow him, and Tajen reveals he came to form an answer for people who ask him what to do if their dragon dies — Salith and he had already agreed that he wouldn't suicide to provide a positive example for the weyrlings.
Nine days later, Fort Weyr is due to fight Thread. Since there aren't enough queen dragons to form a queen's wing, Cisca and Fiona remain at the Weyr to treat the injured. The first casualty is T'mar, who ends up falling from Zirenth as he returns to Fort Weyr; Fiona manages to catch him, but in the process gets a concussion. Fiona — reassured by a mystery voice that reassures her and Talenth that she will be fine — spends the next few days in bed — during which time, Lorana and B'nik travel to Fort Weyr to check their Records for a cure. When pronounced well, Fiona goes to check on T'mar, and is initially annoyed that he seems to be more concerned about Talenth than her, but apologises for her outburst and talks with him.
Not long afterwards, Fiona, the Weyrleaders and the wingleaders meet to discuss their next move, wondering about pairing uninjured riders with uninjured dragons — Tajen offers to help T'mar handle firestone during the next Fall. During the meeting, it is decided that Fiona will handle firestone to prevent another injury, and train with the other weyrlings. The next day, Cisca shows Fiona to the other weyrlings, and they end up preparing firestone for transport to riders — something that the weyrlings «conveniently forgot» to do with T'mar injured — aided by Terin, a weyrgirl who is good with numbers. Fiona notes that there aren't enough weyrlings to do the job properly. In the evening, they note that Tajen aided T'mar successfully, but they are not sure if the other dragons will accept substitute riders — it is also revealed that a mysterious room has been discovered at Benden Weyr. To speed up the firestone transport, Fiona suggests they try getting one dragon from each wing to detach and return with the entire wing's supply. The next day, Fiona joins the other weyrlings in practicing formations on the ground — initially by themselves, then joined by their dragons. Tajen later comes over to Fiona, and lets her glide with Talenth off the queen's ledge, later suggesting to the Weyrleaders that the other weyrlings be allowed to do this.
In the night, Fiona wakes and finds a trembling Talenth, before hearing the voices of Arith and Lorana — at Benden Weyr — cry out. Fiona collapses, but a mystery voice tells her that things will be alright. The next day, the weyrlings continue to drill, and T'mar and Tajen test Fiona's idea of transporting firestone successfully with the other wings. Afterwards, Fiona is called to the Records Room, where K'lior, Cisca and Kentai are attempting to work out how many healthy dragons are left on Pern. Noting they only have four wings left, Fiona suggests that one Flight fly, and the remaining wing later join them, replenishing their firestone in the process, which K'lior decides to test.
When Fort Weyr next rises to fight Thread — a night Fall — Fiona suggests they use watch-whers. K'lior, remembering M'tal's earlier attempt to convince him of this, decides to train with them before the next Fall. The Fall begins — made easier by the cold night air kills most of the Thread — and the dragons are unexpectedly aided by WherMaster Nuella, who leads a large group of watch-whers against Thread and ends up taking control of the Fall. Afterwards, as Fiona helps tend the injured, T'mar invites her to accompany him to the Harper Hall, which has requested a dragon.
At the Harper Hall, Fiona makes her way to the Masterharper's quarters, where she finds her father and Kelsa with Masterharper Zist — Fiona inadvertently reveals she knows Kelsa is pregnant, only to realise they hadn't yet announced that. Bemin tells Fiona that he wishes for Healer Tintoval — weyrbred, from Benden Weyr — to return with them to Fort Weyr to try and treat the sick dragons. T'mar takes Fiona and Tintoval back to the Weyr, but neglects to get additional riding straps, which nearly results in Tintoval falling from Zirenth when he flies through lighter air and drops. Fiona rescues her and ends up arguing with T'mar, who doesn't think she should have risked herself and her queen. Cisca takes Fiona away, and tells her that she shouldn't have scolded T'mar publicly — since he's well aware of his mistake — and that he was right to warn her not to risk her life for Talenth's sake.
Afterwards, Fiona shows Tintoval — who talks with her about Kindan, noting that he is in love with Lorana — around and takes her to the sickly dragons — one of whom is Serth, whose rider, S'ban, is initially unsure of the idea of a female healer, but changes his mind over time — before they go to dinner, where Fiona apologies to T'mar. The dinner is interrupted when Nuella unexpectedly arrives in the Weyr Bowl on Nuellask to discuss the upcoming Fall over Southern Boll, arranging for the watch-whers to handle it, but call for aid if needed.
Two days later, Nuella leads the watch-whers against Thread — despite Zenor attempting to keep her behind — but the hot air means most of the Thread is still alive, and the watch-whers suffer heavy casualties. She travels to Fort Weyr, and recruits the dragonriders, who end up fighting Thread by getting watch-whers to guide them to specific clumps. A sweep wing is planned for the next day, where it is found that five Thread burrows have formed, and forty Turns worth of timber has to be burnt to prevent it spreading. K'lior apologies to Lord Egremer, who initially requests weyrling aid, but changes his mind when he learns about the state of affairs at the Weyr, remarking that it «would only save us time», which K'lior realities is the answer to their problems.
Returning to Fort Weyr, he tells Cisca of his plan: to send weyrlings and injured riders back in time so that they can mature and recover. He talks with the various wingleaders, stating that the abandoned Igen Weyr is their only choice, and they decide — on Tintoval's advice — to send them back ten Turns. T'mar is chosen to lead the group — H'nez requests to be transferred to another Weyr when his request to lead is refused — and he goes to get ready, later leaving with the eldest weyrlings and most of the injured dragons and riders. Fiona isn't to join them, since Talenth is too young to go between, but in the night, a mystery weyrwoman arrives and leads her, Terin and the remaining weyrlings back in time to Igen Weyr, before commanding a large group of dragons — one of whom waves at Fiona, who becomes dizzy — who help transport the remaining injured Fort Weyr dragons before they leave.
T'mar and the other dragonriders arrive not long afterwards, and Fiona tells them about the mystery weyrwoman. They begin clearing rooms in the Weyr for habitation — some supplies have been left for them under a canvas — and Fiona begins preparing numbweed, until joining T'mar on a flight with Zirenth to familiarize themselves with their surroundings. As they do, they witness traders heading towards Igen Weyr, and land by them, before entering one of the caravans to talk. Although they initially plan to keep their origins secret, Fiona tells the traders they're from the future when one of them recognizes «Fiona»'s name. They soon discover that the mystery weyrwoman has already visited the traders — one of whom, Tenniz, the brother of Tannaz, has a vision of the dragon sickness — and they begin discussing ways they can trade.
Eventually, it is decided that the weyrlings at Igen Weyr will help transport trader goods to various locations across Pern — while at the same time, learning recognition points for going between. In addition to this, it is noted that holder numbers reduced by the Plague are resulting in wild canines attacking herdbeasts; Trader Mother Karina suggests watch-whers could solve this problem, and Fiona notes that in her time, Nuella's Wherhold exists at Plains Hold, but the reasons for their moving there from Crom were never fully explained. Afterwards, T'mar and Fiona return to Igen Weyr, and the traders arrive not long afterwards, storing some of their goods at Igen Weyr before they leave the next day. Later that day, Fiona discovers old maps in a locked cabinet in the Records Room; showing the location of various metals. They note that a source of gold is indicated near Plains Hold, and they note that Zenor will be able to tithe to them once he and Nuella move there.
Over the next five days, Igen Weyr is properly set up: rooms are cleaned, stray herdbeasts are sourced from holdings abandoned since the Plague, and the inhabitants of the Weyr are trained in first aid. A discussion one morning regarding food leads Fiona to note they could trade ice from the Snowy Wastes, T'mar adding that they could use the Far Watchers — a non-standard recognition point — to get there without drawing attention. T'mar leaves with a group to retrieve ice, and Fiona gets Terin — now their Headwoman — to clean out a room to store it in, before going to check on several of the injured riders — one of whom, K'rall, has removed his bandages to see the full extent of his injuries. Later, T'mar and the others return with ice, but are very exhausted; Fiona concludes the next day that they must have inadvertently gone to the Far Watchers in the Third Pass.
The traders return not long afterwards, and they talk with them about trading ice — which they have since experimented with to make iced drinks and icy sweets — before the traders reveal that they have convinced several other traders to join their arrangement, but that the holders in the area are shorthanded, and will only be able to trade to Telgar Weyr; they will have to trade for tithes. When the traders note they will have to travel by night to transport ice, Fiona requests they teach the dragonriders how to navigate using the stars at night — secretly planning to get the dragonriders to use this to figure out when in time they are.
As time goes on — during which time K'rall and Seyorth grow restless, and Fiona gets him to do rounds with the injured riders to give them hope towards their own recovery, and also to soothe his fears about his facial injuries — it is noted that the Fiona and Terin of this time have had their birthdays, prompting the two to come up with a way to celebrate the multiple birthdays that will occur, later culminating in a secret plan where T'mar and several other riders are gifted with small cakes on the very day their past selves Impressed.
By the next sevenday, supplies are running low, and when the traders return the next day, Fiona learns the location of Aleesa's Wherhold — also learning that WherMaster Aleesa is ill — and gets T'mar to take her there, so that she can make a deal with them. Although the wherhandlers shoot arrows at her as she arrives, she manages to talk with them after she gets Talenth to bespeak Arelsk — the wherhandlers telling her that the ex-dragonrider Mikal described her before passing away, and said they had to listen to her. Fiona offers a permanent hold in return for a queen watch-wher egg, but Jaythen remains unconvinced, and leads her away at knifepoint once she attempts to talk with Aleesa. However, Aleesa herself arrives and stops them, allowing Fiona to tell her of the arrangement — noting that the egg is meant for Nuella, and that her green Nuelsk died at some point in time. They eventually agree — although Jaythen notes the deal will be off if Nuella doesn't Impress — and in the night, the elderly Aleesa goes between on Aleesk.
With Aleesk's last queen egg secured in a backpack, Fiona heads to Natalon Miner, where she is attacked by a dog — wild since the Plague — which injures her leg, although she manages to get Talenth to stop it, allowing Zenor to kill it. Fiona spends two days at Mine Natalon dosed with fellis, and discovers when she wakes that Zenor learnt about her identity and the gold watch-wher egg from her delerious ramblings. Zenor reveals that Nuelsk has recently died, having been bitten by a tunnel snake while rescuing Nuella from a cave-in. Nuella comes to talk with her some time later and eventually breaks down in tears. Feeling overwhelmed, Fiona gets Talenth to call T'mar to retrieve her, and ultimately laughs hysterically and bursts into tears from the strain of it all, prompting the others to dose her with fellis after T'mar arrives.
When Fiona next wakes, she is told the watch-wher egg hatched, and Nuella Impressed the hatchling. T'mar takes Fiona, along with Zenor, Nuella and Nuellask, back to Igen Weyr, where they begin making plans for the establishment of the wherhold at Plains Hold — and for a wedding between Zenor and Nuella; Zenor wants to wait until he has «something worthy to offer her». The next day, Zenor is taken to Plains Hold to search for a gold sample and scout a site for the wherhold, before he travels with Fiona — wearing the old wherhide jacket of the Igen Weyrwoman, discovered by Terin — and T'mar to the Smithcrafthall, where they find Kindan's sister Silstra and her husband Terregar, before going to Mastersmith Veclan to request aid in mining the gold. Although they initially fail to come to an arrangement, he later decides to help when he hears Fiona talk fondly of Talenth, and realises that their story is true.
Three sevendays later, to solve a number of problems, K'rall and the recovered dragonriders are sent ahead in time, with the intention being that they will meet up on their last day at Igen Weyr. This disappoints the dragonriders who were keen to see Zenor and Nuella's wedding; Zenor hasn't proposed yet, and is still working on making a wedding ring. As the Turn nears its end, Zenor finishes the ring, and Fiona talks with F'dan — one of the remaining riders — about plans she has for the wedding — mimicking Dask's actions during Silstra and Terregar's wedding, they will get dragons to carry glows, something that they've noted could be used to aid in the training of formations and flying at night. F'dan convinces Fiona to get Zenor to propose, and takes her to Plains Hold, where they encounter Benden Weyrleader M'tal, and have to disguise their identities. Fiona joins a group panning for gold at the river near Plains Hold, and eventually finds two gold nuggets, which she later requests be made into a gift for Kindan when M'tal comes over. M'tal reveals he is here to see Nuella, and Fiona goes to get her. After M'tal leaves, Fiona manages to convince Zenor to propose to Nuella.
After they return to Igen Weyr, M'tal arrives, travelling between times from the Third Pass, and having mistakenly come to this point in time instead of their return date — which they later note confirms they will return safely to the Third Pass. M'tal recognises Fiona from Plains Hold, before heading back to the Third Pass — after a brief discussion about the wedding, and the dizziness that results from timing it, which appears to only affect dragonriders.
The traders soon arrive — requesting the use of the empty weyrs in return for trade — and help out by making the wedding dresses. In time, the dragonriders — posing as Fort Weyr dragonriders — and traders go to Plains Hold for the wedding — Talenth remains behind, sleeping with the trader children — where Kindan formally announces that the Goldhall and Wherhold are now officially recognised, before Zenor and Nuella are married by him, and the dragons and watch-whers fly overhead with glows, high enough that they aren't recognisable — although a mystery voice prompts Fiona to knock Kindan over when he nearly notices. After the resulting party, they return to Igen Weyr, and the rest of the recovered dragonriders are sent ahead to the final day at Igen Weyr, leaving only T'mar, Fiona, Terin and the weyrlings at Igen Weyr.
A Turn later, Fiona begins pestering T'mar to let Talenth and the other weyrlings be allowed to begin flying. Over a month after her fifteenth birthday, T'mar begins drilling the weyrlings in various ways — including getting their dragons to carry sandbags to get them used to their rider's weight, although initially testing them by making them carry too much — before beginning weyrling training over three months later. Upon learning of this, Fiona plans to source a flamethrower so that she can train with it, but learns from Azeez — one of the traders — that the flamethrowers only work with flamestone — the old firestone — which is only being mined at a single mine run by D'gan and manned by the Shunned. They decide to try and get a smithcrafter to experiment and create a new flamethrower — which will then be kept secret until their return to the Third Pass.
After two months of flying drills — during which time Fiona and Terin fly on Talenth for the first time — T'mar concludes their weyrling training with the «final tradition for new riders» — in reality, a trick where they are told to close their eyes before having a foul liquid dumped on them from above by other dragonriders. The next few sevendays are spent learning more flying tricks, and how to create images for travelling between with, eventually flying straight to Plains Hold and back, allowing them to learn the proper courtesies in addition to practising recognition points. The next day, he gets them to practise going between to various locations; Fiona goes last, and decides to time it ahead to Plains Hold so she can meet Nuella. However, when she returns, T'mar heavily berates her, and punishes her by getting her to man the Star Stones for the next month while the others train — revealing afterwards he knew she would attempt something like that, hence why he made her go last.
Terin often joins Fiona on the Star Stones over the next month, and on the final night, they end up discussing Impressions — noting that Xhinna wouldn't be suitable for a gold dragon, but might Impress a green, or even a blue — before T'mar arrives, and notes that V'lex's Sarinth is due to rise for her mating flight. They discuss how they will deal with it, before T'mar reveals to Fiona that made the same mistake she did when he was training.
The next day, Sarinth rises to mate, and Fiona helps V'lex, before joining Terin in tending the trader children, who they innocently explain things to, before encouraging them to hug one another to control their emotions — later, Fiona and Terin both realise that they don't want to lose their virginity in a mating flight. Afterwards, Fiona notes they'll need to get firestone to ensure Sarinth doesn't clutch, and they discuss sourcing it with the traders, before searching the maps in the Records Room and finding a source to the south of Igen Weyr. They travel to it the next day — noting the surrounding area has been buried in sand; they conclude this is why knowledge of the mine was lost — and find an «X» marking an entrance to a mine which they find full of bagged firestone, along with two slates telling them to take all they need and to close the door afterwards. After noting the handwriting looks similar to Fiona's, they wonder she is timing it at another place in the same time, the reason for their dizziness being the result of them being in three places at the same time.
In less than three months, the Igen riders are learning to fight as as a wing and Flight — although a group is sent back to mine more firestone — and Fiona resumes flying Between. T'mar takes her to Fort Hold to learn how to recognise it, followed by Fort Weyr; however, the feeling of being in too many places at once overwhelms them, and they are forced to return to Igen Weyr. F'jian catches Fiona as she climbs off Talenth, and she feels as though he was about to kiss her or vice versa, and doesn't think she's ready for such emotions.
Some time later, Fiona and Terin travel to Plains Hold to have some time with Nuella, and they end up drinking non-Benden wine and talking about relationships, Terin revealing she is in love with F'jian, and Zenor stating that Fiona, as a Weyrwoman, could easily have a relationship with multiple people — such as T'mar and Kindan. Over the next few months, Fiona and Terin make multiple trips to Plains Hold — Terin doing work for them to pay for a gold ring — while T'mar drills everyone to exhaustion. On the third month, F'jian attacks J'gerd for teasing him mercilessly about something. Fiona breaks up the fight, asserting her authority over F'jian, before arranging for the two of them to fight in «stuffing suits» — heavily padded and restrictive suits that dragonriders can fight in without risking them or their dragons — to ensure that neither of them will attempt anything like this again. Afterwards, Fiona arranges their punishments with T'mar, deciding to give J'gerd extra duties, and force F'jian to accompany Terin to Plains Hold in future and aid in caring for Nuella's baby daughter.
As time goes on, Terin spends more time with F'jian, and gives him the ring she ordered at Turn's End. Fiona arranges for a flamethrower with Zenor and Terregar, and trade flourishes at Plains Hold. J'gerd seeks out Fiona to apologise, and Fiona notes his loneliness, and arranges for the dragonriders to mingle with the traders — although this time will be limited so relationships don't form. Eventually, the end of their time at Igen Weyr draws near, and they begin preparing to leave, also clearing out weyrs for the recovered riders who they expect to arrive soon. Knowing that Talenth will rise soon, Fiona seeks out T'mar at night, and explains to him that she doesn't want to lose her virginity as the result of a mating flight, so T'mar obliges her.
On their last day, Fiona bids farewell to Mother Karina — who notes she probably won't see her again — and the traders, telling them that riders from Benden Weyr will arrive soon, and they might be able to trade with them. After requesting they visit Fort Weyr — something Azeez reveals has been «seen» by Tenniz — the dragonriders return to Fort Weyr in the Third Pass, where T'mar reports to K'lior. As they go to land — and see Xhinna — Terin remarks that Fiona will always be the Weyrwoman to her.