Disclaimer: I don’t own the Wheel of Time
Authors note: Alternate Universe. Very alternate. Something I wrote at 3.40am.
Summary: In a grim future where winning the last battle was as bad as losing, an Aes Sedai returns to Tar Valon and explains to Siuan Sanche why she hated her...
‘Specially for Nancy, because I know she loves these...
It was a pointless death, really. The battle that took everyone else was over. Friendly fire, it was called, dead before she hit the ground.
Rand al’Thor, dead, Perrin Aybara, dead, Mat Cauthon, dead, Nynaeve al’Meara, dead, al’Lan Mandragoran, dead, Min, dead, Aviendha, dead, Leane, dead, Sheriam, dead...we didn’t find out about Sheriam until the end. Coerced by a Forsaken, raped and beaten. But dead nonetheless.
The Aiel were destroyed, only scattered remains here and there. Only a handful of rulers alive – the Queen of Andor among them, the only of Rand’s ‘concubines’ to survive.
Seems like everyone is dead. Except me. And Moiraine, for a time. Like I said...friendly fire. Stray arrow from a Domani’s bow.
The Tower barely scraped through. Egwene al’Vere died, as did most of her Hall. The Tower was barely over the civil war when the Last Battle came. Eqwene lived long enough to see the stole on her shoulders and her Warder, Gawyn, die. Not an immense tragedy, that. I don’t know who sits in the Hall now. So few remain.
The Tower is in turmoil. Things have been forgotten, lost in the fighting, when the library was burned in the Seanchan attack, the thing that united the Hall under Egwene. Yet even things that where recently re-discovered have been lost, those who knew dead.
It is said that the only living person who remembers Traveling is Elayne Trakand, Queen of Andor. Everyone else – gone. She was excused because she did not grace the battlefield, pregnant or giving birth I can’t remember correctly. Yet Elayne is hardly in any condition to explain the Talent – consumed by grief. Even now, years later, she is still deep in melancholia. Talks to herself, it is reported, and wanders around the palace searching for Aviendha or Nynaeve or even Rand.
Her daughter, Morgase, has taken the throne in all but name.
I sometimes come to Tar Valon. I like to come in summer. It’s warm enough so I don’t need a cloak.
A shadow of its former glory, Tar Valon. Streets full of rats and whores peddling their wares.
The first time I came back was three years after Tarmon Gai’don. Shocked and repulsed, I took comfort in one of those whores’ arms. A girl, no more. Sixteen at best. Said her father died during the battle and her mother followed soon after, leaving her to care for seven younger brothers and sisters. I didn’t know whether she was telling the truth or not.
She took me down an alleyway behind an inn and did my up against the wall, her fingers inside my cunt. She didn’t use her mouth – she knew too many whores who had died that way. She didn’t bother to kiss me either. This was a job, not pleasure. I did not glean much satisfaction from that experience – even if I returned to her four times during that visit, eager for some brief respite from the misery that surrounded me.
Once I could not pay her in full. Yet I was desperate. I had visited the mass burial ground, all the familiar names engraved in a memorial in the entire of the area. Too many bodies needing identification. Easier just to throw them all in together and make a list of the missing. It makes me ill to think of her like that. That time I was desperate enough to let two grimy-haired men watch. They jeered and groped themselves down the front of their breeches, making lurid jokes. I closed my eyes and ignored them as the girl’s fingers squirmed inside me.
Now it’s a yearly pilgrimage to Tar Valon.
There are not guards on the bridges these days and often I am alone. There is still fear for Channellers.
I don’t bother bringing flowers. My being here is enough. I scan the list of the dead Aes Sedai. Only the Aes Sedai. We look after ourselves only.
My eyes linger always on one name – Moiraine Damodred.
“She was a wonderful woman, wasn’t she?” A soft, familiar voice said. I thought she had died.
“Yes, Siuan,” I answered. “Light, yes,”
She came and stood beside me. Old pains and wounds are forgotten. Too much had happened, too much had changed. A familiar face was a familiar face.
“You loved her as much as I did, didn’t you?” She asked abruptly.
More, I added silently. But I nodded.
“I knew that,” She said, sadly wistful. “You always looked at her differently,”
“I hated you, Siuan,”
“Because you had her,”
She smiled bleakly. “I detested you because you loved her. Because you loved her more than I did. She deserved that and I couldn’t give it to her; you could,” She paused. “Sometimes I thought she loved you,”
“Yes. Sometimes she would look at you and it was as if I did not exist,” She sighed.
I suddenly wished I had brought flowers. “I didn’t know,” I whispered hoarsely, for the first time in years close to tears.
“I’m sorry,” And she was, I realised.
We walked through the ground together. Yes, she lives in the Tower, although there’s roughly only forty there now and most of the Tower has been closed off. Gareth Byrne died, too. I didn’t know and offered my condolences. Bevara Torseine is Amyrlin now, a girl I don’t know, yet the title is practically meaningless now.
She asked about me.
I wander, I explained, ever since I escaped the Tower without Stilling, during the Seanchan attack. I tell her how I have no home. She smiles. Neither does she.
Somehow, we end up naked under the trees together. No one walks in the Tower grounds anymore, she whispered, and what would it matter if they did?
I pulled her close, giving her short, burning kisses that she returns fiercely. We are so desperately lonely and longing for days long past. She kneaded my breasts in her hands, thumbs flicking over the nipples, as she straddled me, becoming wet on my stomach.
She moved down, gently trailing her lips between my breast and through her own liquid, leaning up so I could taste her. She ran her hands over my thighs, forcing them over. Her tongue flicked in my cunt and I cried out, instinctively. She forced herself deeper, swirling her tongue in soft circular patterns. I came, gripping the earth, shouting the name ‘Moiraine’, as I have done ever since I laid eyes on her as a Novice.
Siuan began to cry, curling up between my thighs, laying her head on her stomach. I only ever saw her cry once before – when we Stilled her. I gathered her into my arms and rocked her backwards and forwards. I am long past tears.
When she came, she shouted for Gareth, digging her fingers into my scalp.
Later, we are reluctant to part. We won’t meet again, I’m sure of it. Siuan is half-dead already and there have been many times I have contemplated throwing myself into a river. I worry for her. I don’t think she will choose a painless method of suicide.
She hugs me hard and clasps my hand. She knows it too. She’s crying again.
“Good bye, Siuan,” I mutter.
“Good bye, Elaida,”