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Kathleen's just arrived, and already homesick (Solo)


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Kathleen nearly fell over as she curtsied to Pia Sedai, but she quickly steadied herself. She realized she was frowning and then smiled at Pia. Great, so much for not looking like a fool! "Thank you, Pia Sedai, for taking the time to see me today, and for everything you've done for me. Thank you for showing me that I can do things I never thought anyone can do, and thank you for letting me stay here." She wasn't sure that it really was up to Pia wether she stayed or not. Her mother had told her that if a girl of a certain age could channel that the Tower always accepted her, either to see if she was strong enough to be Aes Sedai or at least to guide her so she didn't die of not knowing what she was doing. Whether it was Pia deciding Kathleen stay, or just Pia enforcing a long existing rule, it had been Pia Sedai who had shown Kathleen just what she was, and it had been Pia Sedai who told  her she could stay.


As she left the Mistress of Novices' study Kathleen met up with the girl Pia had sent to show Kathleen to her room and they started walking down the halls. The girl did not seem interested in small talk, and seemed to slightly annoyed that she had been called to be an escort, so Kathleen kept quite and followed as closely as she could comfortably. The more she looked around the more she became comfortable here. It was going to be very difficult to separate the stories she had heard about the White Tower and the Aes Sedai who dwelled within it, from the reality of living in the White Tower. Touching her hand to the cold wall of the Tower as she walked, really feeling it in her hand and under her feet made her think that maybe it wouldn't be that difficult after all. It is funny how something so made up in one's mind can so quickly become reality when one is dropped there.


Of course some of the things from the stories would be truthful, and helpful; one refers to a Sister with their first name, followed by Sedai, so when Kathleen called the Mistress of Novices Pia Sedia, she had done well. Surely if that wasn't the right way to address her, she would have told me..wouldn't she have? And she had already seen that there were girls in white dresses, girls in white dresses that had bands of the seven colours of the Ajahs, and women with shawls with the same symbol her mother had described. All of these things were just as her mother described. Her mother had told her that Aes Sedai had a look about their face that she had described as ageless. It was statements like this, and the ‘fact' that they could channel, that had always made Kathleen believe it wasn't real. But when she walked into the tower and saw all the Aes Sedai's faces she couldn't describe it in any other way, they were ageless. All of them. Yes some had grey hair, but how long it had been gray, she couldn't even begin to guess.


Yes, some of the details in the stories would be true and some of them would be helpful, but this was the real world. Maybe the stories her mother told her really happened, but they happened to other women, they were other women's stories. She was here now and this would be her story.


Kathleen followed the girl Pai Sedai had summoned and took in the sights on her way through the halls and around the corners.  She kept slipping in and out of thought and when the girl stopped in front of a door Kathleen almost kept walking. She realized the sudden stop just quickly enough to halt herself without making it look like it took the amount of effort it actually had. Kathleen thanked the girl for showing her to her room and invited her in, but the girl politely told her that she had to be going, she had a lesson to get to and did not want to be late.


Kathleen entered her room and saw a white dress hanging on a hook. Novice white, she thought. She closed her door, set her sack on the floor beside the neatly made little bed, and began to undress. She used some cold water to wash up, wishing she could some how make it warm. She thought about trying to channel it warm, but just for a split second. No, I don't know if everything Mother told me was true, but if they can sense other people channeling, and if they are so strongly against novices channeling, and if novices  really do get beaten by the Mistress of Novices for doing things they aren't allowed to, well in that case I really don't mind the cold water. Besides, how would I make it warm any way? Stare into it until it bubbles and then jump at it? No, I liked Pai Sedai, but not enough to want to see how hard she can hit!


Kathleen put the wash cloth away and put on her new dress. It felt so clean and fresh on her skin. So crisp. She spun in a quick circle just to feel it twist around her. She loved the feel of a new dress, and it had been to long since she had new clothes. It had been a while since she had clean clothes.


She picked up her old dress, folded it and opened her sack to put it away. When the sack was opened she reached in to check on the old wooden box, then she remembered that she gave it to Pai Sedai. She sat on her bed and looked at the little room around her. She looked at her new dress, and then her old one. She was here. She had done it. She had spent two years following that old rough map to fulfill the promise she had made to her mother on her deathbed. She had returned her grandmother's ring to the White Tower and now her journey was over. Oh, yes, she would be starting a new journey. But for the last two years she had been running steady to the Tower.


Now that she was here she couldn't help but think of the family she left behind. She had thought of them often while she was traveling, but the guilt was always there. She knew that keeping a promise was important. Her father had always raised her to keep promises and to listen to her mother. He had given her many punishments before for not doing as she was told. Those were all excuses Kathleen had used to make her feel like she was doing the right thing, excuses were all they were and Kathleen knew it.


She was scared to admit that she had left without telling anyone. As far as her father and brothers knew she had just run off. Her mother had died, and she had run off and abandoned them. While she was traveling she couldn't let herself think of that. Before anything in the world she was taught that family came first. Work would come and go. Food would come and go. Friends would come and go from your life, but your family was your family no matter what. That didn't mean you could hurt them, that didn't mean you could betray them. That meant that no matter how bad life got you stood by family. ‘You take family in even when you cant  keep the roof up', her father used to say. And she had turned away.


Kathleen began to cry. How could I do that to them? It was bad enough they had to loose Mother, but how could I let them loose us both on the same day? She wondered what they must think of her. How long had they kept a lantern lit of her? How did they handle it? Did they keep the workshop open? Who was taking care of the house? That was her responsibility and she just left it. Were they eating well? Did they clean the bedding? Oh the things they wouldn't think to do!  Why didn't she leave a note? So many questions and regrets ran threw her mind. I should have been there for them to help them deal with the loss of my mother. Why didn't she tell the nursemaid to tell them she had gone because her mother had asked her to and that she would return as soon as she dropped off the box?


She knew the answer to that. There were three scenarios Kathleen could think of if her father knew what she was doing. He would hitch a wagon and find her, if he didn't find her he would send a search party of neighbours after her. He knew the destination so he'd know the direction to look for her. He was a well respected man in her village, the only blacksmith they had, and it wouldn't take him long to get the men together to make a search party. The people in the village she was from were hard workers, and they had a lot of heart, but even one day out of their fields and shops would mean money lost and the village wasn't that well off.  If he didn't do either of those things, he would let her go on her way and declare it was her choice to leave and tell her she wasn't welcome back. Kathleen had spent a long time waiting for a search party to scoop her up off the road, and when it never came Kathleen had started to think that her father knew what she was doing and had made the last choice, but she always thought the worst until she knew better.


No matter which scenario played out she new her father would be furious. She didn't know why he would be so angry, but he had forbidden her mother from making this journey herself. Was that only because he thought they would make her leave her family and he would lose her, or was there more reason for him to forbid her to leave. He wasn't a harsh man, not a person Kathleen knew who had met her father would describe him as harsh, and Kathleen's mother would do anything he asked of her, but still he didn't just ask her not to go to Tar Valon, he forbid her.


Oh, how Kathleen wished things had been different. She wished so badly to know that her father and brothers were doing well. She wished she was sitting with them at their little kitchen table having a hot cup of tea, her father telling her all about his day and the people he saw. He would be asking her brothers about what they learned that day. And then she would clear the dishes and they would all go to bed. Two years seemed so long ago now that she sat down and thought about it. She should have dropped off the box, claimed she found it on the street and didn't know what to do with it, and then she should have left. She could be on the road right now, across that bridge, that beautiful, unbelievable bridge, with this undescribable, majestic tower behind her on her way back home. I may have been the one to rip the roof off, she thought, but I'm still family..he would let me in. Two years was a long way to travel here. Two years would be even longer to go back.


Kathleen let out a sigh, and wiped up the tears that hadn't fallen past her chin. She'd done far too much crying this day. There would be no more of that, she told herself. She looked around the tiny, plain room, and looked down at her plain white dress. I made up my mind when I sat in the chair in Pai Sedai's study. My name is in the Novice Book. Maybe someday I will go home and explain myself, but it is two years away, and I can not go back. I will always love you, Father, but you told me to do as I am told, and to keep my promises. I was told that I am a Novice of the White Tower, and I promise myself I will see this through as far as I can go!

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