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Chapter Two: "I did not think you capable of love,"

Reflections – Chapter Two

Authors Note: Well, Eirana and Elaida just won’t leave me alone. This is ‘Reflections’ from Eirana’s POV. Also, different from Chapter One. Much more explicit. It isn’t as good as the first chapter, I think.

And thank you to my reviewers!

Disclaimer: I don’t own the Wheel of Time.

~

I thought she loved me. I honestly did. I never thought about it much before – never. I had always assumed she did.

But Elaida always did have a roving eye. Even after we had slept together, the next morning I would see her watching some ripe-bodied Accepted or Novice. But she was committed to me, I told myself, I had control over her.

Evidently I did not have as much control over her as I thought I did. I never noticed her nursing her infatuation with those two. I never saw it. Perhaps because she had never voiced it.

Before, whenever she wanted someone else, she would tell me. It was a very dysfunctional relationship we had. I would almost always end up flying into a rage – unless I liked the person too. I would beat her senseless and she would claw at me. But, somehow, we would always end up in bed together. It was the most passionate time I spent with her. There was something immensely...erotic, I would suppose...about half-angry love-making. About sweat and blood-soaked kissing and clawing.

It was a time just after we both passed for the Shawl, that I realised I was not, in fact, the object of her affections. It was dark, I recall, and I was on top of her. Her hands where tangled in my hair and I was kissing her neck. Well – biting, actually, biting her and using the blade of my dagger that I always carried. She was shuddering violently, wild half-cries of both agony and desire choking their way from her mouth. “Light!” She cried. “Siuan! Moiraine!”

That quenched my desire immediately. It was like a cold bucket of water had been thrown over me. “What?” I demanded, leaning back to gaze at her in astonishment. She looked equally stunned. She may have desired other people but never – never – had she called out their name – or should I names? – when she was in bed with *me*. I sat back on her stomach. It was a very odd scene. Both of us utterly naked, me, sitting atop her and her with an odd expression on her face – half fear, half shock. “Those two...Novices...you desire them?” I took my dagger and gently began to trace her nipples. I didn’t blemish the skin, though her breath caught. I was surprised at how steady my hand was.

“No,” She half-whimpered.

“No...?” My eyes widened in shock. “You love them,”

“I think so,” She replied in a soft hush.

I stopped my tracing and stared at her. It was unbelievable. Utterly unbelievable. I had...I had loved this woman for so long...and she could just turn around and say she didn’t love me? I felt sick. “I did not think you capable of love, Elaida,” I said in a soft, strangled voice. Somehow, insulting her was all I could do. If she did not love me...then who could she love?

I leaned down and studied her. Some people say that Elaida isn’t pretty – her features are too sharp. In that moment, I had to disagree. Her features where so soft and so vulnerable. She looked miserable and in her eyes, a war was going on. Her lip trembled. By the Light, I loved her.

I kissed her softly, tenderly and with warmth. She relaxed almost visibly and returned the kiss. She murmured softly as we broke apart and I laid my cheek against hers. It was the most caring embrace we had ever shared.

She was stroking my hair, her long fingers running through it, other hand gently stroking my back.

It was so warm...so love-filled. I blinked. How could it be love-filled? She didn’t love me. This was an illusion. My chest tightened horribly.

Strange, that. You would almost think I didn’t think love possible from the way I acted – my preoccupation with violence and my love of seeing my lovers beg for mercy. Yet I wanted love. I wanted someone to *love* me. I wanted Elaida to love me.

I pulled back. If I didn’t leave now, I would cry. I didn’t want her to see that. I didn’t want her to think she had wounded me that much. I couldn’t let her see that.

I smiled and tore the dagger down her cheek on impulse. A farewell gift. She deserved it because of how she had hurt me. She cried out. It was a cry of pure pain – there was no under layer of pleasure. I got a small twinge of satisfaction. She gripped my wrist. “Don’t!” She choked bleakly.

“Something to remember me by, dear,” I said seductively, a wicked grin on my face. I kissed her again – a quick, chaste kiss on the lips and rolled off her, where my hand was torn easily from her grasp. I dressed quickly, picking up my garments and slipping them on hurriedly.

I walked to the door and turned. I wanted to say something to her. I wanted to hurt her like she had hurt me. But all I could manage was: “You might want to consider getting healed,”

Then I left.

It was the most pain I could ever remember being in. I stalked the corridors back to my own apartments.

I did not cry, a surprise to myself. Instead, I went in search of wine and with the wine came drunkenness.

I woke up the next morning on the floor of my apartment with an aching headache and a mouth that tasted like tabac. I was not in the best of moods and spent the day in my apartments, slowly recuperating. My pride would not let me seek healing. Unfortunately, I spent that night doing the same thing again and woke up to the same headache and taste in my mouth.

The second morning, after vomiting and a good deal of moaning, I decided not to drink myself into a stupor, and went for a brisk walk.

And so became my routine. I would wake, walk, eat breakfast, read, eat lunch, occasionally I took an Accepted for lessons but otherwise I went riding, eat dinner, spend the evening reading or sometimes playing stones with one of my sisters and finally sleep. It was not an action-packed day, so to speak, but it tired me out and I did not want to be alone at night very long.

I still missed Elaida. But the ache had dulled now. I would not return to her, I told myself, I would not go back. And I didn’t.

I heard that Elaida had left the Tower. I said I didn’t care too much. Why should I? I hadn’t been with her for six months.

But somehow, that night, I couldn’t sleep. I lay awake for a good time, tossing and turning and thinking. Somehow, in the midst of trying not to think of Elaida, I thought about her. When she was at the Tower, she remained celibate. I knew that. Nobody else looked at Elaida the way I looked at her. And yet, in Andor...I felt a wrench of jealously. She would fall into some whore’s bed, I knew. She never was too strong at resisting impulses.

It was then that I started looking for a replacement. The cold brutality of that strikes me. My next lover was no more than something warm to sleep beside.

Ishtara was an Accepted I taught. I am no better than Elaida. She was an Arafellin, fairly tall with dark hair and pale skin. She was thin and supple and sometimes I could kid myself she was Elaida.

I was kind to her. Overly so, I think. Slowly she began to think of me more as a friend than a teacher and slowly friendship became something more. I did not even kiss her first. I am proud of that. I could still entice someone.

I had been slowly beguiling her for months. Not too much so that it would seem obvious, just a smile here and a small touch there.

It was during one of her lessons that she kissed me. We where studying Tairen philosophy or some such. I had taken to sitting beside her, so close that it was almost inappropriate, but if someone walked it, it would not seem so.

“Do you see Fedegat’s point?” I asked her. I was not looking at her, my eyes where on the book I had spread over both our laps.

“Oh yes, I do,” She said breathily. Then she kissed the corner of my mouth.

I turned to stare at her. It was a good move to let her think she had enticed me, not the other way around. She stared back, doe-like eyes suddenly worried. “What...?” I whispered, feigning shock.

“I shouldn’t have done that, Eirana Sedai,” she muttered, twisting her hands in her lap, cheeks colouring. “I’m sorry to have...imposed myself on you,”

“Child,” I murmured softly, reaching out to touch her cheek. I could be warm when I wanted to be. Until I had slept with her the first time, I had to be as tender as she wanted me to be. She leaned into my hand and I moved forward ever so slightly – enough not to be noticed, but close enough so that we where touching. Encouraged by this, she leaned forward again and exhaled slowly over my lips.

“Eirana?” There was no formal ‘Sedai’ this time. I smiled invitingly.

And she kissed me again. This time, I returned the kiss.

Getting Ishtara from mere kissing to my bed was easy enough. This was all new to her. She enjoyed the thrill of skin to skin and the crumpled bed sheets. Sometimes I think we keep our Novices and Accepted too na´ve.

I was not rough. I was gentle. I was tender. I kissed her more than I though was necessary and instead of biting tender areas, as Elaida had so loved, I kissed them. It was, I reflected, not a wholly unpleasant affair.

I was her first kiss; she told me later when she lay beside me. I felt slightly guilty. Ishtara was beaming, slicked faintly with sweat, but none the less happy. She felt so much more for me than I did for her.

I brushed that thought aside. I was not doing to Ishtara what Elaida had done to me.

Our lessons where not lessons after that. I did not think they ever would be again. She would come to my rooms, I would ward the door, we would kiss for a time – Ishtara seemed to like that – and then I would bring her to my bedroom.

I could not bring myself to be rough with her. I was not entirely satisfied...but I could not bring myself to hurt her.

It was not long after we where sleeping together that Ishtara’s chance for the Shawl came around. She told me Merean said she was ready and that she always tested within a month when she said that. She was excited. She talked of taking the Red Ajah so we could be together. That was too much. She shouldn’t be foolish, I told her, and we can still see each other even if she picks another Ajah. Choose the one best suited to her.

I am not completely selfish.

I decided to take her out that month. She would soon be Aes Sedai and I wondered if the time was nearing for me to break off our connection. I did not want an equal, as pathetic as it sounds, for a lover.

It was night when we met at the fountain in the Tower grounds. She had never crept out at night, she confided in me, as I took her arm and led her off. I had been ill that day. My hands had shaken uncontrollably and I had hallucinated. I thought I had recovered, though, as I had not hallucinated since that morning. Perhaps I should not have been so sure.

“It’s cold,” She commented.

“Autumn is giving way to winter,” I said mildly. I had my dagger with me. I did not know why I brought it.

She didn’t respond. I led her further into the Tower grounds. The grounds are extensive and I wanted to show Ishtara something I had only ever shown Elaida. I did not like that. I did not like the idea I was feeling something more than kind affection for the girl. I did not like the idea that Ishtara had become something more than a useful tool.

“Look,” I said, pointing.

She looked and gasped. It was a beautiful sight. No doubt she had rarely visited the small lake to the east of the Tower and certainly never when the moon was at its zenith. The moon’s light reflected into the perfectly clear water, hitting the scales of a very unique kind of fish that I hear is extinct everywhere but Tar Valon. The moonsilver fish’s scales lit up when the moonlight hit it, creating a silver glow over the lake.

“It beautiful,” Ishtara whispered, stepping forward.

“Isn’t it?” I murmured in reply, stepping up behind her, encircling her in my arms and burying my face in her hair. She smelled spicy, I recall. “It is said that the Amyrlin regularly meets the Keeper here,”

“Why?” She asked and then giggled in a soft, girlish way. “Oh...I see,”

“Do you think Aes Sedai are devoid of such longings?” I whispered, nipping at her neck. “You know I certainly am not,”

She turned to me as I continued to nip her neck. “Oh, I know *you* are unique, Eirana Sedai,”

I took her hand and drew her to the ground, gently pressing myself atop her. I began to undo the buttons of her Accepted’s dress. “What if someone comes?” She whispered, not exactly resisting my insistent hands.

“Let them come,” I responded. “It is not a unique sight to see two Aes Sedai here...doing what we are doing,”

She chuckled softly. “If any of the Accepted where to know this...”

“They’d be scandalised,” I kissed her firmly. “Hush, now,”

She hushed and, apart from the odd moan, we where silent. I remember I was kissing the inside of her thigh when it happened. For a split second, I became hazy and disoriented. The smell of her...I thought it was Elaida. Her hands in my hair...Elaida always did that.

I looked down at her pale thigh. There was no scratches, no bruises...she always liked a bit of pain. I bit down hard, so hard that the skin broke and I tasted the metallic quality of blood.

I heard a cry of agony. “What – Eirana!”

I ignored it and sprung on top of Elaida. We had not been together for so long...she had been in Andor, I remembered...she had been in Andor and had missed me...I bit her neck and suckled at it...

Then my knife was in my hand. I scratched at her and she tried to fight me off, screaming for help.

After that, it is muddled. I remember her crying. I got the impression I raped her at one point.

When my mind cleared, I was lying on the ground, naked and cold and unable to move. Ishtara was holding me down with saidar. She had pulled back on her Accepted’s dress and I stared blearily at her. “What...?” I began and was not prepared for the kick she levelled at my stomach. I gasped and doubled over. “What?”

“You...you’re a monster....” She snarled at me. “Light, Eirana, what where you thinking?”

“What did I do?” I asked bleakly. I noticed the blood that seeped through her dress, at her crotch. “Oh light...did I hurt you?”

“Oh, yes, you hurt me,” she did not release saidar and had the look of murder on her face. She brought back her foot and kicked me again.

Then I did something I have not done since I was a babe at my mother’s breast. I began to cry. Soft sobs wracked my body.

She hesitated. “Why, Eirana?” She said softly. “Why? I loved you,”

“I thought...I thought...you where Elaida,”

“Elaida?” She said quietly. “Elaida Sedai?”

“Yes,” I croaked. “Light, I loved her...” I dissolved into sobs again.

She released saidar and I think she realised I could not move. My limbs felt like water. She knelt beside me and took my head between her hands and wove weaves of Healing. Odd that I should need it more than she did.

It did little good. I cried out in pain. This pain wasn’t pleasure. This was agony. This was, ironically, what I inflicted on Ishtara.

Tears trickled down my face. “What’s wrong with me?”

“I don’t know,” Ishtara said brusquely. “You’re feverish...you’re not well, Eirana,”

“You must help me up...please...”

“I’ll get you your dress,” She said coldly. “I’m not helping you,”

I pulled on my dress and it took three times as long as it usually would have. She stood watching me, impassively. Slowly, I got to my feet, hanging onto a tree limb. I put one foot in front of the other, trying desperately to gain my balance. Once I stepped away from the limb, I crumpled like a rag doll. Eventually, I was crawling towards the Tower, every drag of my knees an agony. Sweat prickled on my face.

I would die out here. I must have voiced that, because suddenly Ishtara was lifting me, supporting me. My feet where half-walking, half trailing along the ground. She grunted in exertion and my head and buried in her shoulder. “I sorry,” I whispered quietly. “I am so sorry,”

She did not acknowledge it. Eventually, she sat me down again. “I’m going to have to get help,” She told me. “I’m going to get the Yellows. I can’t carry you any further,”

And off she went. I was convinced she had left me to die.

When I awoke the next time, I was in my own bed. A group of people hovered over me. “Ishtara...” I moaned. “I’m sorry...”

“Hush, Eirana,” A hand was pressed to my forehead. “She’s feverish,”

“She’s on the verge of death,”

And then I was asleep again and the next time I woke up, I was cooler and there was only one person in the room. I did not recognise her. “Who are you?” I asked.

The woman’s eyes widened. “You don’t recognise me. I am Guendain, Eirana, we where Novices together,”

“Novices?” Oh yes, that was right. I was an Aes Sedai. “Where is Ishtara?”

“Ishtara,” She repeated the name and a faint crinkling at the side of her eyes showed her worry. “That is not a good topic, Eirana...”

“Tell me! Where is she?”

“She’s dead,” Guendain said flatly. “She died during her test for her Shawl,”

I felt something inside me die. “What?”

“I’m sorry,” Guendain said quietly. “I know she was your favourite student,”

At least that was all they thought. Yet, I stayed awake that day and when Guendain left, I cried again. I should have seen that she practised more. When she was in my lessons...I should have thought of her instead of my own pleasures.

It was then that I lost my passion for blood and knives. A part of me felt like I had killed Ishtara.

It took me two months to recover. Apparently, I had been drinking wine that was not properly fermented.

Those two months gave me plenty of time to think. My violence was why Elaida could never love me. She was never as violent as me. Never. She may have had a weakness for it, but she could be tender. I realised that Elaida had outgrown the violence. I had not.

When I could get up again, I fell into a depression. I did not drink. The very thought of drink made me feel sick. I had suffered for my fondness for wine. Ishtara had suffered.

When the Aiel War started, I heard that Elaida had returned from Andor. I needed to see her. She had been in the Tower awhile before I dredged up the courage to see her.

She was shocked to see me. “Hello,”

I studied her. She had not changed much. She was harder, if anything. “I heard you returned from Andor,”

“I have,” She said.

“Obviously,” I replied sarcastically. I still could not let her see the way she had hurt me. The way my hurt had become Ishtara’s. I hopped up lightly on her desk, scattering the papers she was reading. I had chosen a provocative dress that day. Something I hoped would entice her back to me. I could not go to her. She had to come to me. “Have you had your two young harlots, yet?” I asked challengingly.

“I have not!” She spluttered indignantly. “You should not be asking –”

“Oh, Elaida,” I chuckled and leaned forward to catch her chin. Even after Ishtara, I loved her. She allowed herself to be caught. Maybe she still felt something for me. “I know you too well, my dear...you where never one to be prudish. I remember you *suggested* some of our exploits,” I smiled wickedly.

“I...” She trailed off, merely looking at me. I was surprised. There was nothing there. Not even a spark of what once was.

I frowned at her. “You really do love them, don’t you? I thought it was merely an infatuation...you don’t feel anything for me anymore?” My voice broke slightly. It was a plea and we both knew it. For all my talk of pride and dignity, I was practically silently begging her to take me back. I began to trace the designs on the front of her dress, gently touching just below her breasts.

She removed my hand from her chin and kissed my forehead. “I think you better leave,” She whispered.

I stared at her in utter disbelief. She was refusing me? “You can’t have them, you know. They don’t like you, let alone lust after you!” I snarled.

And it was true. Elaida was pining after two people she could never have. I turned on my heel and left, indescribable fury in me. I was so angry at Elaida. Why couldn’t she see that *I* wanted her...why did she want Moiraine Damodred and Siuan Sanche?

Well. I could put a stop to that.

I half-ran to the Mistress of the Novices office. I was aching for vengeance. She was surprised to see me. “Good day, Eirana, what can I –?”

I brushed past her into the office. She made a ‘humph’ noise and closed the door after me, turning to face me. “I don’t know who you think you are, Eirana, but you will not burst in –”

“Enough, Mistress, I have a more pressing matter than my etiquette,” I replied snappishly. “I have a complaint for you about an Elaida Sedai,”

“Oh?” She looked at me, slightly puzzled, as she sat behind her desk. “Elaida has shown nothing but the best judgement, even as a Novice or Accepted,”

“Yes, well, things change with time,” I said sneeringly. I was reverting into my old ways, I noted somewhat distantly. It was as if Ishtara had never happened. “She has been...courting... two Accepted, Moiraine Damodred and Siuan Sanche,”

Merean sat up straight. “Excuse me?”

“Yes. She’s been after them for quite awhile,” I smiled.

“How do you know?”

“She told me as good as,” I replied. “I thought you ought to know,”

“Of course...this behaviour is unacceptable,” Merean’s eyes glinted flintily. I had set the tiger on the prowl. “But of Elaida...I would never have thought...”

“You should take measures to stop this,”

“Of course, of course...”

I never heard what had transpired because of that. Nothing that shook the Tower, mind you.

After that, my life resembled a shambles. After Elaida and Ishtara, I took many lovers to bed. Most where like me – lonely and only interested in one night’s comfort. Some where Aes Sedai and some where clerks – both male and female. I did not find much pleasure with the men and only took a few. Some where even kitchen girls. I did not care that much. Very often I did not know their names, nor they me.

And so the years progressed and there is very little to tell. One of Elaida’s loves – Siuan – became the Amyrlin Seat. Elaida suggested her for it. Moiraine left the Tower and rarely returned and when she did...well, she spent most of her time with the Amyrlin Seat.

I was surprised when Elaida felt the need to depose Siuan. I was not keeping track of the Tower’s affairs. I had not done so in years. I did not even notice the wild panic after Siuan was deposed, probably because I was in bed with a fine looking newly-raised Aes Sedai called Tetsuko – I heard Gaidin fought Gaidin, but I cared very little for their lives.

When I heard Elaida was the new Amyrlin, I did not go to see her. We had been apart for years. It was a few months before I heard from her. An Accepted came to me one night with a message, requesting my presence in her apart. I was perplexed, but went none the less.

Elaida was exhausted. She had dark bags under her eyes and her Keeper – Alvie or Alarin or something like that – was with her. They seemed to be arguing, but bit off what they where saying when I entered.

“Don’t you know how to knock?” Alvie demanded off me.

I smiled at her coolly. “I did. You mustn’t have heard me...what with your screaming at the Amyrlin,”

She scowled at me, turned and gave a jerky curtsey to Elaida. “Mother,” She said curtly, brushed past me and left.

I watched her leave with amusement. “You should tighten the lash on that one,”

“Yes,” Elaida agreed faintly.

I sat down without being told to. “What is it, Elaida?”

“You should address me properly,” She said irritably.

“I don’t think I could get used to calling a person I slept with ‘Mother’, Elaida,” I told her, amused at how her eyes tightened. “I know Moiraine Damodred did, but I am not a Cairhienin whore,”

She sighed and got up, going to a desk and picking up the decanter of wine. “Something to drink?” She asked me mildly.

“No, can’t stand the stuff,” I replied jauntily.

“Very well,” She poured herself a glass and walked to the window, swirling the liquid in her hands. “Come here, Eirana, I want to show you something,”

I sighed audibly. I did not want her to think I went to her obediently, like a lap dog. I came to the window and looked out. It occurred to me that I had not left the Tower in years, nor looked out a window in a few weeks. What I saw startled me. “Isn’t that where the Warders yard used to be?”

She nodded, staring at the foundations of a building. “That will be the Amyrlin’s palace,”

I choked. “The...Amyrlin’s palace?”

“Yes,”

“A testament to your vanity,” I snorted. “No other Amyrlin has ever felt the need for such a place,”

“True,” She replied. She did not seem to want to argue.

We where silent for a moment, looking out at the foundations, as if our stares could change it. “Is that all, Elaida?”

“All? No,” She set her glass on the windowsill and turned to me, taking my hands in her own. “Eirana...I need you,”

I stared at her. “What?”

“I don’t love you. But I want you,” She whispered. “I am lonely, Eirana, so lonely. Surely you cannot be fulfilled in your pointless debauchery every night? Oh yes,” She said to my astonished look. “I know all about that. Half the Tower does. You’ve been in everyone’s bed at least once,”

I said nothing. Tentatively, she leaned in and kissed me. It was just a swift peck on the lips, though I caught her cheek. She smiled slightly at me and kissed me again.

It was not like the old times. She was surprised. “You’re different,” She murmured in my ear.

“Yes,” I only agreed. I did not offer an explanation.

Now, when she is lonely, she invited me to her rooms. Which is often. She has told me things and I finally told someone of Ishtara. She held me when I cried.

“Eirana?” She asked me vaguely, late one night when I was lying beside her.

“Mm?” I murmured back, eyes half-closed.

“Why did you change?”

I hesitated. Was it just Ishtara...I did not think so. “I’m not sure,” I muttered back. I moved closer and pillowed my head on her shoulder. I wrapped my arms around her and she absently kissed my temple. After a moment, I said: “I think it was you,”

“What?”

“When I realised that you didn’t love me,” I replied. “When I realised that you loved Moiraine Damodred and Siuan Sanche. When I realised you couldn’t love me as long as I...was like that,” I sighed. It was true. She could never have loved me when I was beating her senseless. I was foolish not to have seen it at the time.

“You loved me?” I heard the shock in her voice. I had never told her until that moment.

“Oh, yes,” I chuckled. “I loved you very much,”

She paused and finally whispered, stroking my hair. “I do love you, Eirana,”

“No, you don’t,” I disagreed.

“I do. Just not in the way you wanted me to,” She replied.

I smiled. She was not in love with me, but she loved me. Someone would weep when I died. I found that immensely comforting. “Do you still love Moiraine and Siuan?”

“I don’t know,” She replied, closing her eyes. “Does it really matter anymore? I could never have them. They never even liked me, let alone lusted after me,”

“I said that to you,” I was sad and amused. An odd combination.

“Yes,” She sighed. “One of them is dead and the other stilled. *I* stilled her,”

I sat up and looked down at her. She looked up at me and again she looked so sad and vulnerable. “Goodnight, Mother,” I muttered, kissing her chastely on the forehead. A strange twist came to her face. I had finally gotten used to the title. It was the breaking of an old barrier. It was the distancing I needed to move on from her.

I slid out from her bed and she didn’t try to stop me. Wrapping a sheet about my nude body, I went into the other room and dressed.

Then I left.

~

To Be Continued...



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Chapter Three

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