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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

To Find a Smile (Aramina)


Kael
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The sun was begining to set leaving the sky a rich orange color as Michael Courcel stood in the middle of one of the many open ares throughout the Warder's Yard. He waited for Aramina Sedai with a growing sense of excitement. She had sent a message to him earlier this week to give him a night that he would be able to spring his suprise, he had responded with a time.

 

It was strange to think Michael would cling to fastly to the idea of spending time with a woman so unlike himself, and an Aes Sedai as well. But there had been something in her smile that had endeared him so, and his want to bring out that smile. Her first genuine one for him was small but it had lit up her face and brought out a beauty that only that smile could produce. That single glimpse was what drove him to do this. Well...he thought he would enjoy himself tonight as well too.

 

He let out a small chuckle as he thought about what he had been planning. This would put Michael in his element and he truly doubted Aramina would be very comfortable in it. In fact he was hoping on that.

 

He turned as footsteps approached and the light swish of skirts, only letting a small smile as he saw Aramina walking towards him. She stopped in front of him. "Ah milady you have come. I can garuntee that you will not be dissapointed." And with a large flourish held the rose he had been holding behind him with a half bow in front of Aramina, waiting for her to take the small gift. "Shall we?" Michael restrained from offering his arm as he usually would. He remembered how she had acted the last time he had touched her and not wanting this night to start off badly. There would be enough of that later hopefully.

 

 

Michael Courcel

TPC Tower Gaurd

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The rose was a small gesture but it was one that amazed Aramina. She'd never had anyone give her flowers before. At least not since she'd been about 12 years old and boys suddenly thought all girls had cooties. She took it carefully and smiled at Michael. "Thank you." She didn't saw more for fear that she would show too much emotion.

 

Still, he was there and this was his show. She took a deep breath, smelling the scent of his gift to hide her lose of composure. When she looked back up at him she felt stronger. "So you said you have a surprise for me. I assume it's more than a beautiful rose?" she asked in challenge.

 

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Straightening with a smile Michael turned so that he could begin walking towards Araniba's little suprise. "And a suprise I have but we won't be like to find it here." Michael took a step and waited for Aramin to fall in beside him, his gift still in her hand. He was glad he had thought of that for the smile it had brought to her face, even if it was that small one she had only so far awarded him with.

 

"Though before we get there, you need not answer now, but you must promise me that you will try and enjoy yourself and not think about anything related to being an Aes Sedai. For tonight you are simply another woman among the crowd." Michael could wait for that answer but he would also not lament not hearing her accept. The goal of this night was to get her to feel that way even if she did not promise him but the promise would make the process easier and Micahel hoped would make her enjoy herself more.

 

He made his slow way down towards the docks, to someplace he knew Aramina had been to before though he had only found that out ya few days ago. Alric had been more than willing to help and had even told Michael some of what he had learned of this stoic Aes Sedai. It wasn't long before the pair were standing in front of The Tower Swan. The sun had fully set and the only light was from the street llamps and what could be seen through the door in front of them. It seemed they had not deemed on waiting for the pair by the sounds coming from inside though.

 

Michael turned to Aramina and flashed one of his most winning smiles. "So do I get a promise or is my job going to be all the harder tonight?"

 

Michael

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It was a bit of a shock to find herself stopped in front of the familiar building. Aramina's face had been carefully neutral as they had walked through the streets of Tar Valon but as she realized Michael intended to take her here, a smile crossed her lips again. She turned to him at his words, her hear cocked slightly to the side.

 

"I will try to put aside my Shawl and Ring for the night." She said. "This place," she looked back at it, "it is a place I am comfortable being in. A place I can relax. I can't promise not to be who I am, or to respond if the need arises, but I can promise you that I will try. I owe you that at least for your teachings so far." She added, trying to think of something to say that wouldn't make her sounds like such a push over. Truth told though, the thought of being here with someone as openly warm and caring as Michael made her feel good. She had spent time here with Alric and the memories were all good.

 

"Do you frequently come here?" she asked, wondering if it would surprise him to know she'd come, or if he'd had help from a friend.

 

Aramina.. a very young sister

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Michael felt content with Aramina's answer, not quite what he had hoped for but as an Aes Sedai she had to be careful with her words. But he was confident that he could take her out of her shell if only for a little while tonight. "Do you frequently come here?"

 

Michael smiled at her as he reached out to open the door. "Ah Milady there is not many other inns in this city that I can claim to have visited more." He pushed open the door, holding it open for Aramina to walk through.

 

It was crowded inside, one of it's busiest nights. Alric and Michael both had had a hand in putting this night together, both wanted to show Aramina a good time and show her that being an Aes Sedai all your life was not truly living. It was loud too. The mix of voices, some sober and others obviously laden with drink, and music coming from the corner of the room. Michael reached out and took Aramina's hand, grasping it softly, so he would not lose her in the crowd.

 

He wove through the people, shouldering his way when need be until he found Alric sitting at a table, a glass in his hand and his lady on his knee. "Alric my friend, I do beleive you told a few to many people."

 

Michael clasped the other Tower Gaurd's hand as he answered. "Ah there is no such thing as too many people is there." Michael nodded and stood back as Alric and Aramina exchanged greetings. He was proud of his choice, thinking he had judged the situation correctly in bringing her hear. Now.

 

"Aramina, would you care to dance?"

 

Michael

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He couldn't have chosen anything better to say to her at that moment. There were things that Aramina enjoyed and few that allowed her to show the joy that she truely felt in her life. With Alric there, the Inn packed to the gills and Michael's soft question in her ears, Aramina wantedto dance for joy. The smile she gave him was far more than polite and she laughed lightly. "I suppose it's only fair to warn you that if I start dancing i'm not likely to stop." She said.

 

"On the other hand, you could pretend I didn't say that and put yourself into peril for my benefit." She added, suddenly blushing at her words and forwardness. She was a creature of subtelty but there was something about Michael, and Alric's proximity hadn't helped, that made her lose her airs of nobility. Not that she was noble, but she was Cairheinin and being raised as such could leave most nobles wanting for her half wit and cunning. Still, a part of her remembered the days when she had first come to Tar Valon, before the Tower had consumed her life, and she had been happy.

 

"It's your choice Michael, but if you brought an Aes Sedai and expect her not to be Aes Sedai, you had probably better get her doing something very un-Aes Sedai like."

 

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Michael smiled, not from anything else but for the smile lighting up Aramina's face. For once it was not forced or simply polite this, this was genuine. This was happiness, beauty in it's simplest form. "But milady I would never take back these words if they put such a smile on your face." His voice was low, nearly spoken in her ear so that she could hear, the uproar of the room ot allowing anything else to be heard. Michael reached out a hand as Alric disentangled himself from his woman, standing on his chair to call out for a song.

 

Like fire on a dry grass his words his words set the room into motion. Tables were pushed back, partners grabbed and instruments raised. Taking Aramina's hand he led her towards the middle of the room. Turning to face her in the small recess they had found he took the rose he had given her and tucked it in her hair. His finger lightly caressed her cheek as he let his hand fall.

 

He folded his hand around one, holding it up as the other moved to rest lightly on her waist. The beat started and the music quickly followed. "I just hope you can keep up." He laughed lightly as he began to move, leading Aramina through the steps.

 

 

Michael

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There were some things she doubted she would ever become accustomed to. Casual touch was one of them. As far back as she could remember she had been treated with an air of reserve, rather than warmth, even from her Mother. The only people who had ever tried to get around that in her childhood had been her brother and sister and they had been smart enough to only do it when their Mother woudln't catch them. It wasn't that she hadn't been loved, but her mother had wanted more of her, had deemed her worthy of something greater than village life.

 

She was surprise when Michael took her rose wnd worked in swfitly into her hair. It was a sweet gesture and one she didn't know how to appreciate. As his hand dropped to her face she shivered, her eyes widening slightly at the touch. She felt breathing becoming harder. She was about to step away, to gain the distance she needed and craved at that moment, but his hand took hers as the other circled her waist.

 

"I just hope you can keep up."

 

Aramina didn't have time to react other than to join in the dance. Two steps into it she had already forgotten how a moment ago she had needed distance. It was dancing that took her breath away now, and Michael took her through her paces as they danced to everything that came up. If she didn't know a dance it only took a few moments watching before she was ready to jump into the middle of it again.

 

Her time as a barmaid in Tar Valon came back to her in vivid contrast to the life she had started to live in the White Tower, the cold harness of that stone as opposed to the warm walls that surrounded her now. She blinked back tears at the thought of Natalie, of how happy she would be to see her there, to see her happy and among people ago, to see her truely beginning to heal and move forward with her life.

 

And it was that thought that stopped her feet. She pulled away from Michael with a shake of her head, tears still standing in her eyes. She refused to release them here in such a place, but her heart would not hold them any longer. She backed away from him, then turned and walked hurriedly out the door. As she got outside she took a deep breath, trying to vanquish the memories in her head.

 

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Michael watched both shocked and confused as Aramina turned and fled from him, towards the door. Not two seconds ago she had been enjoying herself in the dance and he had been happy to see her enjoying herself as he had done the same. "Aramina?" His voice was lost both from her unhearing ears and it being drowned out by the revelry around them.

 

He pushed his way through the crowd, following Aramina's back through the crowd and eventually out the door. He stopped in the frame, waiting to see what would happen but soon his concern for her outgrew his trepidtion at intruding upon whatever her pain could be.

 

"Aramina?" He said again softly walking up next to her. "Are you okay? I hope I didn't say anything or do something wrong?" He refrained from reaching out to her as he normally would. Aramin and he were different in that aspect, Michael gravitating to use a casual touch to accent his concern or what he was feeling and everything he had gotten from her telling him that she was unused to it or even disliked it. Concern painted across his face and voice Michael waited.

 

Michael

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Tears fell down her face still as she heard the concern from behind her. Where had this all come from? Why was this man trying to make her something she wasn't, and why did she want more than anything at that moment to be exactly what he was asking? And why did the whole thing bring up such fresh pain, ripping apart the walls she had been so carefully placing around herself?

 

Part of her wanted to walk away, to return to the Tower and never look back. Would Michael look for her if she did? Or we he go back inside and laugh with Alric and forget all about the little Aes Sedai who couldn't be more than this?

 

She looked back at him, the concern in his eyes melting away the fear that she had felt at that thought. It was terrifying and comforting that she truely believed he would come looking for her if she disappeared into the Tower tonight, as certainly as he had come looking for her on the streets.

 

She shook her head trying to get control of her voice. When she spoke her voice sounded weak and pathetic to her own ears. "I'm sorry Michael. It wasn't you or anything you did. I..." She didn't know how to explain it, wasn't certain that she could really.

 

She reached a hand out to his arm, a gesture that was hard for her but that she felt he would appreciate. she didn't want him to think her outburst was to be laid at his feet. Her movement wasn't enough though for the sorrow that seemed to envelop her. She didn't understand what she was doing anymore than she understood her need for it, but before thought could catch up with mind, Aramina pulled her hand from his arm and wrapped herself around him, letting her cheek rest again his chest. "I'm not used to all the people." She said simply. "I'm not used to touching others or being touched. It's been so long since someone tried so hard to make me smile and laugh." She looked up again, fresh tears in her eyes. "Why is it so hard to laugh without bitterness? Why can't I just smile for the joy of it like other do?"

 

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It only took a moment of small shock before Michael had wrapped his arms around Aramina as she stepped into him, laying her cheek against his chest. I'm not used to touching other or being touched, It's been so long since someone tried so hard to make me smile and laugh. Why is it so hard to laugh without bitterness? Why can't I just smile for the joy of it like others do?"

 

Michael looked deeply into Aramina's tear brimmed eyes, the despair, hopelessness and need for someone to care for her plain in everything she was doing. He reached a hand up slowly and brushed away a tear that had begun to fall down her cheek, his other arm still wrapped around her. She may be unused to touch, to someone caring for her but that was what she needed right now more than anything else. A caring word, a caring act, and for now an ear to listen to what she needed to say even if she expected nothing in return.

 

"A smile is not so easy when you have nothing to smile about, a laugh so hard to pull out when there is nothing to give you the joy of a laugh." The hand that had brushed across her cheek fell back around Aramina, holding her tight enough that she knew he was there and doing so but still allowing him to look into her eyes.

 

"A smile is not so easy when one's past is full of pain." Michael thought he knew enough about people's character to infer this at least. He had met all kinds and too many of the stories around the Tower and the Yard were filled with backstoriesof pain and loss. "And if nothing else know that I care for you, that I will always be here if you need someone. If you need a laugh, a smile or Light forbid a dance." Michael smiled softly, trying to add some type of humor and joy to get Aramina's mind of of despair and sadness. "You're smile inside, your laugh was of joy not forced or bitter. Sometimes you simply have to look for something to actually smile at."

 

On an impulse Michael lowered his head and softly kissed Aramina's cheek before resting his chin on her shoulder, the side of his head resting against hers. "You're never alone Aramina."

 

 

Michael

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She almost pulled away, as unaccustomed to touch as she was. She almost ran at the soft feel of lips upon her cheek. But his arms held her still and the words that he spoke in her ear were a salve that she had not thought to find in this world.

 

She didn't know how to respond to this man, this complete stranger that she felt read her better than any of her Sisters or any of the Accepted she had spent so many years with.

 

Not knowing what else to do, she simply closed her eyes for a moment, allowing the warmth and comfort of his arms to hold her longer. The tears that had been running had finally stopped and she let out a final shuttered breath. He was right. What she had felt inside that Inn, that was not bitter or controlled, not forced or practiced. She had enjoyed herself, dancing with Michael and enjoying the company of these people.

 

Finally, she stepped back, wiping the tears from her face. His words stuck with her and the thought that he would be a friend to her, even after her outburst, moved her through her embarrasment at the weakness she had shown. She looked at him, a small smile on her face. "I have been a lone most of my life." She said quietly. "But I believe you when you say it." She looked back towards the Inn. "In there, I believed it, without your words. Thank you for that."

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Michael nodded as Aramina thanked him, wiping the tears that she had stopped flowing from her cheeks. It was strange how overwhelming the want to protect this Aes Sedai from her hurts, her memories and insecurities Michael had. A feeling of protectiveness there for someone that was little more than a stranger, some he had met only twice.

 

"That is good, for I have never lied to you." As much as Michael was accostumed too he did not reach out a hand next, he had pushed Aramina's boundries enough in that aspect as is. "Here, walk with me for a while. Some fresh air will do us good, maybe afterwards we could dance some more." Turning Michael waited for Aramina to fall in step with him.

 

The night was quite as they walked, the moonlight giving enough light for them to walk safely as well as for them to see each. "It must hard being a Sedai, bound to the Tower so much. But remember, you always an ear or an escape with me if you want to lose that ring for any amount of time. A friend's ear."

 

 

Michael

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A friend's ear. It sounded too good to be true really, but somehow she found she believed what he said. She believed what he offered. They walked side by side a few minutes before she reached out and wrapped an arm through his as if he were an escort. She wasn't sure why she did it, but it seemed like she needed to reassure him and physical contact, while difficult for her, seemed to work for him.

 

He patted her hand lightly as they walked and she was certain he understood that it cost her something to do it, something she wanted to pay though. It was more than a few minutes later when she finally looked up at him. "It would be nice, to have a friend like that." She said, smiling up with the same warmth that she had felt inside the Inn. "Alric tried to tell me the same things that you have, but I think I wasn't listening enough. Perhaps now you won't have to try so hard to see a smile. Perhaps I won't either."

 

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Everything seemed to relax as Michael and Aramina walked under the moonlight, though Michael was pleasantly suprised when Aramina reached out and wrapped her arm through his. He smiled and gently patted her hand, the gesture speaking more than he could wished for. It was nice, though even that did not encompass the entire meaning. He knew what it must have cost her, how hard it would be for her. It made him feel good and....for once Michael was at a loss for words or thoughts to describe how it made him feel.

 

"I certianly hope it becomes easier...and if not we'll have to make these crazy dancing parties a weekly event and I'll drag you away from those books and that Tower." Michael laughed lightly, idly brushing his thumb against the back of Aramina's hand, not really realizinf what he was doing. "Alric is a smart man then, and a good thing you listened to one of us."

 

"Here the night is young, let us go and dance our worries away and smile till our cheeks hurt, Light knows it will do us some good. How does that sound? No more tears for tonight." Michael smiled softly as he turned to look Aramina in the eyes, making his last words more jokingly than they normally would to try and get Aramina to smile, not intending to embaress her by what she had done before.

 

 

Michael

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Aramina smiled warmly at his words. He hadn't put her down for her show of weakness nor was he trying to hold it against her. And he seemed to realize how much this meant to her, all of it. She wanted to say something that would tell him what she felt just then, so he would understand the dark cloud that had been over her for so long and see what he had done by helping her, but there were no words for that. Nothing could explain the emptiness she had felt when Nat had died, nor could it explain her driving need to move on with her life without living life.

 

Instead, she decided to take a page out of his book. She gave a small laugh at his words. "If there are more tears tonight, I promise they will not be mine." She said as she squeezed his hand. "And I will keep you to your word. I expect to see you smiling for the rest of the night. No more seriousness from you young man or I will have to intervene." She added with mock severity which was not far from her normal tone she realized. So she winked at him in a fashion that was most unlike herself, followed by a huge smile.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

To Michael this night could not get much better. Aramina seemed to be opening up and lightening back to where she had been when they were dancing. The wink and smile bringing out a matching one in Michael and lightening his mood as if he was a small child running through the streets of Tar Valon again. On an impulse Michael leaned in and pecked Aramina's cheek with another kiss, taken up by his brightened and exuberant mood.

 

Taking her hand he turned down the street, back where they had come from. "That smile is sure to make the rose in your hair jeaous with it's beauty. So then to make sure there are no tears and frown, then come milday and we will dance the night away." He had to make sure to reign in his near childlike exitement as he began down the street again, making sure he didn't break into a run back the way they had came. He doubted Aramina would be smiling if he was dragging her across the ground. Chuckling at the thought he gave her hand a squeeze and settled into a walk.

 

 

Michael

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Aramina laughed at his words as they continued back to the Tower Swan. She had a sudden urge to run back so they could join in the dancing again, but though she was willing to dance, she wasn't going to run about in such an un-Aes Sedai like fashion. Instead she wrapped her arm around his again and leaned slightly into him as they walked.

 

Back at the Inn, the sounds came through the door even louder than before. They seemed to have sped things up a bit in their absence and the music was loud and the cheers boisterous. She gave Michael one of her rare smiles as she looked up at him. "I think they're waiting for us." She said. "Are you ready to continue your duty and protect me from myself for the rest of the night?" She asked in a teasing voice.

 

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