Disclaimer: I don’t own the Wheel of Time
Authors Note: This is a bit sappy.
Siuan was crying.
That resounded firmly in my mind. Certainly not Siuan. Siuan, who had the heart of the lion? I came up behind her and sat next to her on the bench.
She glanced sideward at me. “I suppose Sheriam told you, yes?”
“Yes,” I answered. I sat patiently as she continued weeping. She would not appreciate my arm around her. She was not that sort of person.
When her crying had subsided to sniffling, I tentatively reached out and gripped her hand. “What’s wrong?”
She paused a long moment. “My father is dead,”
”Oh, Siuan,” I whispered, gripping her hand harder. “I’m sorry,”
She waved away my condolences. “I don’t know why I’m being so stupid,” She muttered, dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief. “I haven’t seen him in years,”
“You’re not being stupid. It’s understandable, Siuan, don’t be ashamed of crying,” I reached out and stroked her cheek. She flinched back from the contact, biting her lip, then sighed and leaned into the comfort.
“I suppose you understand, Moiraine,” She mused quietly. “Your parents are dead, aren’t they?”
My hand faltered for a split second then took up the stroking again. “Yes, both of them. My father died soon after I came to the Tower and my mother died when I was four years,”
“I never knew my mother,” Siuan replied. Almost instinctively, she laid her head on my shoulder. “I suppose to never have known her was better to have known her and lost her,”
“You’re wrong,” I said, very softly, thinking of my own mother. “To have known your mother and loved her is better than never knowing her and never loving her,” I blinked back tears that had gathered in my eyes. “I’m sorry, Siuan, apparently I am not good comfort,”
“No, it doesn’t matter,” She was silent for a moment and I was suddenly aware of the utter silence – broken only by the birds chirping – surrounding us. “Tell me of your mother, Moiraine, was she like you?”
“My father says she was,” I said quietly. “That is why I was his favourite of all his daughters. My mother only had daughters, you see, my father had a son – Taringail – to his first wife, who also died. My father says I have her eyes and hair. My other sisters take after the Damodreds, but I am my mother’s,” I stopped, trying to think of my memories of my mother. “My mother was a kind woman. She had soft hands and was fond of hugging me and my sisters. She said she regretted that Innloine and Anvaere where too big for hugs and sitting on her lap.
“My father said she babied me too much and my mother retorted: ‘And you don’t?’. Then they both laughed, because it was true. I was the youngest of all their children and the last one they where likely to have,” They I sighed. “But my mother became pregnant again,”
I felt Siuan tense. “She was too old to carry it properly. She went into labour too early and both she and my brother died,” My throat tightened. I had thought of this in an age.
I bowed my head and Siuan was there – hugging me and murmuring to me. Siuan might not have liked being hugged, but she was fairly apt at giving them. “I sorry,” She murmured into my hair. “I sorry...to have brought it up,”
“It’s alright, Siuan, you didn’t know,” I smiled at her as we broke apart. She smiled at me, though she stopped breaking apart suddenly. Our bodies where still pressed together. She was staring at me in a way that she had never done before.
“Siuan?” I asked softly.
“Shush, Moiraine,” She whispered. “Shush,” Then she kissed me.
I sat very, very still. She did not move her mouth; she just pressed her lips to my own. I began to tremble.
She backed away hurriedly, moving the farthest away she could while still remaining on the bench. Her eyes where wide with terror. “I...I...” She stared at me pleadingly, begging me to understand. “Please, I ...”
“Siuan, I –”
“I thought...” She seemed close to tears again. “I thought...the way you where smiling...I thought you wanted me to...I thought...” She jerked upwards and began backing away from me as quick as she could. Finally, she gave up, turned on her heel and ran.
I sat, staring after her, dumbfounded.
“So. I see that the Novices *are* capable of coming up with a scandal,” I jumped and looked around.
A very amused Aes Sedai was standing watching me. My mouth worked furiously, but produced no sound. Finally, I just gaped at her.
She strode forward and sat where Siuan had sat a moment earlier. “You still have nothing to say?” Her smile widened. “Surely you have questions for me? Let me see if I can answer some of the most common. Well, I saw everything. And yes, I was standing watching even though I knew it was none of my business,” She shrugged gracefully. “Aren’t I wicked?”
I got the impression that, yes, she *was* very wicked. Yet I couldn’t help but like her. She had an easily-amused, none-too-formal air about her. “I am Eirana Sedai, by the way,”
“Aes Sedai,” I murmured finally, my throat still remarkably dry.
“Novice,” she nodded her head. “Was that your pillow friend, then?”
She laughed, watching me blush. “Then let me try a different question: Do you *want* to be her pillow friend?”
“Want?” I had never thought of Siuan like that before. Yet, obviously, she had thought of me like that. “I don’t know,”
“At least that wasn’t an out-and-out no,” Eirana smiled. “She is quite taken with you,”
“I never knew,”
“Obviously. Your face was priceless when she kissed you,” She watched my reaction. “Have you ever been kissed before?”
“Yes,” I muttered, face reddening again.
“By a boy, too, else you wouldn’t be so flustered by having been kissed by a girl,”
“Yes,” I fiddled with the cuff of my dress.
Eirana spoke gently then. Surprisingly gently. “Think of it like this, child, the Tower is a lonely place. Every sister, except perhaps the Greens, is lonely because that kind of behaviour is expected from them. Every other sister in other Ajahs occasionally finds...comfort, shall I say?... in the arms of a fellow sister,” She watched my reaction of this carefully. “Even the Amyrlin,”
My eyes snapped up to hers. “What?” I gasped.
“Even the Amyrlin,” she repeated, smiling. I got the impression she liked shocking people. “The Amyrlin and the Keeper are...overly close,” I was stunned. “A certain amount of distain is in these types of relationships among the Novices, I know – I was a Novice once. But when you are Accepted, believe me, child, you are desperate for physical closeness. When you come to the Tower a girl of fourteen – and I am no innocent, I know fourteen year old girls kiss behind the barns as much as sixteen year olds – you are happy to observe chastity. But when you are an Accepted of twenty years and have only kissed the one man – when other women your age are married and having children – you begin to ache for closeness. That is when you look for comfort among your friends, as young Siuan was doing with you,”
I pondered this logic. “Have you a Pillow Friend, Aes Sedai?”
“That is the brilliance of being Aes Sedai, child. I don’t have to answer to Novices,” She smiled at me, though with a slight edge. “So, child, have you made up your mind about Siuan?”
I hesitated. “I believe I have,”
“Off you go then,”
I curtsied and hurried off. Eirana Sedai...wasn’t that the one who was always with Elaida Sedai? I shrugged that thought off. I had my own problems.
I found Siuan in her room. She looked like she had been crying again and she got to her feet when she saw me.
“I’m sorry, Moiraine,” she began instantly as soon as the door shut. “I’m sorry. It was foolish of me to assume such a thing. I...I will understand if you don’t want to... associate with me anymore,”
“Don’t be a woolhead,” I came close to her. “Tell me Siuan. Do you want me for comfort?”
“Comfort?” She blinked down at me. “No, Moiraine...I want you because...I love you,”
My jaw dropped. Eirana Sedai had *not* mentioned the possibility of love. “You love me?” I said in a small, child-like voice.
“Oh, yes,” She was staring at me hungrily now. “I don’t know when it happened. I was just watching you one day, when it occurred to me...light, you are beautiful. Another time I was watching you and I noticed now small and delicate you where. Another time, I noticed the curve of your –” She stopped, embarrassed.
“I see,” I said faintly.
“Are you angry?”
“Angry? No,” I twisted my hands together and looked up at her. “Though, I would like you to kiss me again,”
She licked her lips. “Are you sure?”
“Mm,” I smiled.
This time she was trembling as she pressed her lips to my own. On impulse, I let my mouth open and let the kiss deepen.
A few minutes later, we where no longer standing and we where no longer fully dressed. And a while after that, we lay quiet together.
It was an odd sensation to lie in bed with someone unclothed. I had lain in bed with Siuan before, of course, though we always wore shifts. This time, neither of us had a stitch of clothing on and Siuan’s breasts where pressed to my back and I could feel the faint veil of sweat that cloaked her body. “Are you alright?” I asked quietly. Somehow, it seemed right to speak softly. Even though the sun was still high in the sky, I was tired and had always associated such activities that Siuan and I had just partook in with the night.
“I’m fine,” She whispered back. “Are you?”
I could hear the silent question: Do you regret what happened?
I did not regret it. My body was the most content it had been in years. “I’m fine, Siuan,” I turned and smiled at her. Tentatively, she put her arms around me. Why, after what we had just done, she felt hesitant about such a gesture was beyond me. I nestled into her and could hear her heartbeat. It was racing. Apparently, she was not calm. “I’m not going to run anywhere, you know,”
Siuan chuckled into my hair. “I don’t know...this all seems very unreal to me. I suppose when you’ve wanted something for a long time and you finally get it –” She stopped.
“Exactly how long have you been wanting me?”
“About a year,”
“A year?” I gasped in surprise. “Why didn’t you ever tell me?”
“I was afraid,”
“I was very afraid,” She sounded amused at herself.
I kissed her neck. “Obviously you had nothing to be frightened of,”