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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Confessions, Oaths, and the Morning After


TaeaDawn

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The morning light filled the room far too bright and early for the Keeper of the Chronicles.  There were times when she used to revel in the knowledge that the world spun around Tar Valon, and it the Tower, to know that she was a part of that organism that made the clogs of the world run.  Today, it was a tired expression that simply meant she didn’t get to sleep in.  As it had every morning since the fight, Aramina’s mind turned towards the one man that had the power to change everything about her.  She had thrown herself at his feet and only time would tell if he would ever heal enough to believe in her.  Light knew she had trouble believing in herself sometimes.  Sirayn gone, her mind invaded by one of the Forsaken, Aran out of her life, and now the Black Ajah on her doorstep.  If she wasn’t a Green Sister already, she might have changed Ajahs.  The end of days was definitely at hand.  If not, she wasn’t sure she could live through all of this to see them.

 

She took a deep breath and sat up in bed, having only a moment’s surprise before remembering why Lillian was laying in bed next to her.  She smiled down at the younger woman, refusing to think about the questions that formed in the back of her head.  Like how could someone she had shut out for so long still find her worthy of friendship when the man she loved couldn’t see it in her?  Shaking her head she got up quietly, not wanting to disturb Lillian.  She put a dressing robe on and heard the slight knock at the door to signal her usual breakfast.  Answering the door, she took the tray herself so the novice wouldn’t notice the other Aes Sedai sleeping in her bed.

 

Setting the tray down, Aramina looked back over and found a rumpled looking Lillian sitting up in bed.  “Good morning.  Hungry?”  Her standing breakfast order had for years contained enough food for two, just in case.

 

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"Starving."

 

That much was true, but as she began to recollect her senses, there was something that weighed on Lillian's mind.  Well, one of several things, but there was one thing that stood at the forefront of her mind.  Waving at Aramina to go and sit down, it was force of habit that led to her slipping out of bed and retrieving her hair tie before wandering over to the nearest mirror she could find.  If there was one thing she insisted on, it was on being presentable.  There were a few knots to be worked out, but they could be dealt with later as she pulled her hair back and quickly secured it.

 

A simple weave, with the assistance of the mirror, quickly wiped her face clean and she was ready to go and join Aramina for breakfast.  Well, except for an object that she had left under the bed when she had returned from her earlier morning foray.  Reaching underneath the bed for it, she held it behind her back as she went to the table and took a seat near Aramina.  Her sister was waiting for her and, Lillian had to admit, she was surprised by the amount of food before her.  Enough for two, did she often have visitors or did she simply order extra this morning?  Or did she simply have an absurd metabolism?

 

Revealing the oath rod from behind her back, Lillian laid it on the table and pushed it towards Aramina.  She wasn't in much better condition this morning as she was from the night before, but she was in better condition and it was important for her to remove all doubts about herself as well as Annais and Maegan.  Even though she had taken the oath that she had, on the memory of someone so dear, there could be no doubt and she would willingly take the oaths again.  She had to, especially since there was more to come.  "I would like you to swear and unswear me Aramina.  I know I took that oath last night, but I would like there to be no chance, no iota of doubt.  There is something I have been thinking about, and I would like to do this before I speak of it."

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Aramina looked at the Oath Rod and took it in hand, studying it for a few moments before thrusting it towards Lillian.  She didn’t want to make her friend do this again, but she was right.  Absolute trust between the four of them had to be guaranteed.  If she doubted them, then anything that came out of last night’s impromptu meeting would be useless and covered in suspicion as well.

 

“Alright, lets get this out of the way then and see what other business we need to cover.  Whether I got sleep or not, the Keeper of the Chronicles still had her duties, and I have an apology I still have to make before I can do that this morning.” She said, in reference to the words she had spoken to the Amyrlin Seat the night before.  It wasn’t going to be pretty, but it was necessary.  It only took a few minutes and Lillian had proven her word.  Resworn, she also swore that both Annais and Meagan had resworn as well and testified that they were not Black Ajah. 

 

Setting the Oath Rod aside, Aramina took a sip of tea and looked at her friend. “Now, what do you have on your mind?”

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Feeling a good deal weaker than before, at least Lillian was more alert as she heard Aramina's question.  Sighing as she closed her eyes, there was a moment's pause before she opened them once more and reached for the tea that her sister had graciously poured for her.  A sip definitely helped, brandy might have helped too but it was a bit early in the morning for that sort of thing.  She liked a drink every now and then, but she wasn't prepared to make it her first meal of the day.  Now she just had to decide how best to broach the subject, especially since she couldn't prove it with certainty.

 

Having said that, there was a lot to be said for the power of intuition.

 

"There was something you said last night.  Well, you said a few things last night, but this thing in particularly has remained on my mind ever since.  Especially earlier this morning when I got up and retrieved the Oath Rod from Annais.  It is something that I cannot quite shake because of, to be blunt, how well I know you.  The reason I suspect that it has occurred to me but not the others, and because I know you its also the reason I have not brought the possibility to their attention.  I trust you, but I have to ask this of you all the same."

 

Thinking back on the precise words, Lillian cleared her throat before she spoke.  "Perhaps I should reswear them and just add one on the end for you.  Isn't that what you want?  Our little secret, just between friends."  The silence that filled the void was defeaning as Lillian watched Aramina carefully as she took another sip of her tea.  No reaction to be seen, but she wondered if that was not proof enough of her suspicion.  "That made me think, what could have prompted you to think of that possibility?  There's no known precedent for such an action to inspire a remark like that.  That leaves only an unknown, and that made me think even more."

 

"There are a certain limited amount of possibilities if the remark isn't innocent.  But, I'm not so concerned about them immediately.  Answer me this though, are you carrying three oaths?  Or do the number of oaths that burden you exceed that amount?"

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There was a good reason Aramina kept a good hold of her temper, and that one comment heard above all others was the perfect example.  Her façade was up before she realized she had thought of it, and the tea to her lips in such a casual fashion that to her friend it had to be obvious. 

 

She set her cup down as the question came from Lillian and her heart stopped for a minute.  Spoken as it was, there was no betrayal of Sirayn or the Order.  It was a simple question.  The only question was, should she answer it.  She could refuse and backpedal her way from it, but that would be an answer either way.  Not only that, but it would erode some of the trust that she wanted to build with Lillian. 

 

The truth was, Sirayn was gone, and though she didn’t know why, she had to live with that face.  She had to steer her own future now and she had already made her choice of who to steer it with.    The Order was dead with Sirayn at the helm and it was time for Aramina to take a new leap of faith, the one that she had walked away from so long ago.

“Yes, my oaths do seem to be more burdening than those of my other Sisters.”

 

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Nodding after a moment, Lillian took in the carefully worded response as she tried to come to a decision.  Aramina revealed that she bore more oaths than the three, yet at the same time she did not elucidate in any way on them.  Constrained?  Or simply unwilling to speak of it?  That left the next question that needed to be asked, something that she had to know for certain before they went any further.  She might not be Black Ajah, but there was the possibility that she had been bound by them as opposed to her other thoughts on the matter.

 

"Did you take the extra oath, or oaths, of your own free will?"  A nod, that was enough for Lillian, the last vestige of Black Ajah involvement could be wiped away without further thought.  Of course, that left another possibility, one that didn't sit well with Lillian at all but she could understand why it had happened.  Aramina's attachment had been something she had slowly discovered over the years, even felt some jealousy towards until she had better discerned the nature of it.  The years had been slow to reveal the truth, but reveal it all the same they had.  Now it was just a question of where to go next.

 

"I don't suppose you're the only one with an excess of oaths...  Wait, I don't suppose you can answer that can you?  Regardless, I wanted to know because I wanted to ask something of you, if you wanted it for yourself."  Taking up the Oath Rod, Lillian held Aramina's gaze firmly.  "I want to offer you a freedom from whatever oath has constrained you."

 

"Not because I believe there is something wrong with it, though there is that.  Nor do I want you to do so in order to extract every little detail about the arrangement you had.  Despite it perhaps being meaningless at this point, there may be a time where the knowledge you have must be spoken of.  A decision I would have you make for yourself, but a decision that I would prefer you to have if the time comes rather than being wrapped in an oath.  I would rather you have the freedom to choose than remain bound to silence, should the time come."

 

Sitting her cup aside, Lillian elaborated.  "I am guessing from the way you answered, you are constrained from revealing details.  If I close my eyes, and you ward my ears so I cannot hear your words, you may be able to release yourself from your bindings, if you have been allowed the loophole.  It is entirely up to you though, whichever decision you make I will respect."

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Aramina looked at the Oath Rod before taking it from Lillian.  A chance to be free of the oaths she had spoken 100 years ago?  She didn’t know how to respond to that.  She would never betray the secrets she had learned as part of the Order, but when would she ever be able to undo this ever again?  She pulled the One Power around her, wrapping Lillian as she had requested. 

 

She opened her mouth to say the words, but nothing came.  Was it really betraying Sirayn to do this?  To take away the oaths that had always been unnecessary between them?  She knew that Sirayn would say it was.  Another voice pulled at her though and she closed her eyes against it.  The voice that said she would always chose Sirayn over any other, that her bond to the woman kept her from being more than she had been.  She didn’t agree with the words.  In the end though, she had made a choice at one point and perhaps if she hadn’t, she’d know where her Serpent ring was right now.  Taking a deep breath, she spoke the words, releasing her from the bonds of loyalty to Sirayn Sedai, to the bonds of loyalty to the Order, and to the bonds of secrecy for both.

 

She felt empty as she lay the Oath Rod back on the table and let the weaves around Lillian fall.  Empty of the driving force that had pushed her forward for over 100 years, the force that had made her a Banner Captain and had made her worthy to be seen as the Keeper of the Chronicles. 

 

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Feeling Aramina let go of the Oath Rod, she waited a moment before she asked a simple question.  "Are you done?"  An affirmitive allowed her to open her eyes to find Aramina looking rather drained.  A strange thing because lifting the oath was not tiring, only swearing one was.  But then, perhaps it wasn't oath swearing or unswearing that were pertinent in themselves, it was the nature of the attachment.  But, it was done and that was the main thing as far as Lillian was concerned.  At least for now, it just remained to be seen whether it was of benefit to Aramina, which Lillian hoped it was.

 

Sitting the Oath Rod on the table, Lillian reached over to Aramina and took her hand in her own.  It had been a big ask, and she didn't want to Aramina to think that she thought less of her for having taken that oath.  She might have if she hadn't understood Aramina better, but with the final pieces of the puzzle that she had spent decades working on delivered to her the night before, everything made sense now.  In the end, it didn't matter either, her friend was her friend and she wouldn't abandon her now, not when she had finally awoken from the mire of emotionless that she had hidden herself within.

 

"Thank you.  It eases my mind a lot to know that you are free of the excess."  Squeezing the hand again, Lillian let go and turned to her breakfast as she added.  "So you know, I will not be mentioning this to the others.  It is up to you if you wish to speak to either of them about it, it is your secret to keep if you wish to."

 

"But having said that, there is a price to my silence..."  The blank expression on Lillian's face lasted only a moment before it was split with a smile.  "Dinner and Stones at my quarters tonight, and you have to bring the wine."

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Aramina shivered slightly as Lillian took her hand, grateful that if she had noticed it, she wasn’t making an issue about it.  Light, she felt like she had gained 50 years in the last few minutes.  She felt a small bubble of panic inside her, ready to burst open, the idea of trading her once secure future for the unknown.  She pushed it down though, knowing that while she had let go of one set of oaths she still held their secrets.  And that while she was no longer bound to Sirayn Sedai, she was bound by something stronger to another and that she had truly given her fate over to his keeping.  She would take it up and push through, but should the day come that he accepted her again, she would follow where he led. 

 

When Lillian let go she leaned back in her chair, trying to loosen the tension in her body.  She had no intention of ever telling anyone about the Order, or the bond to Sirayn, not even Lillian.  They might be friends, but she would never understand the purpose that Aramina had fulfilled there, nor the chances she had taken.  She was starting to relax when Lillian made a comment about the price for her silence.

 

Aramina sat up straighter, looking at the other Aes Sedai.  Light, there was always a price, she just hoped she could pay it this time.  When Lillian smiled though, her chest loosened and she shook her head.  Giving a small smile at first, it grew as she pushed aside the masculine voice in the back of her head that pointed out how quickly she had wanted to see the wrong in her Sister who had done so much to help her.  “I think I have just the thing in mind.” A strong wine, something to drown herself in tonight as she began working on this new friendship that had always been within her grasp, but miles away. 

 

 

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