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Silent Tears


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Charis nearly sighed, looking at the room she had been set to clean. She had lugged two buckets of soapy water up to it, but she could see clearly now that would not be enough, not by a long shot. She could see no purpose to the room, there was no furniture, no tapestries on the wall. No windows, and only a small lantern on a hook on the wall near the door gave any light to the room. What little she could see was covered in what appeared to be centuries of grime. Even the walls were dirty. But she suppressed the sigh, when a novice was assigned to clean a room she did not ask foolish questions like why, and she certainly didn't sigh. Not where anyone might hear her.


She left her water there, and went in search for a stool to clean the higher parts of the walls, the Aes Sedai who had set her this task had said the whole room needed to shine. Finding one she carried that, and a third bucket of warm water, into the room. She started in the corner furthest from the door, starting in on her dirty task. For the first time since she had come to the Tower she wished she were anywhere else.


No, she thought, I wish I was home. The thought struck her, coming nearly out of nowhere. She had never been one to shirk from work, and a years worth of novice chores had not made her yearn for home. Where then had this thought come from? She knew as soon as she thought the question, the answer was simple. On her last free day her brother had sent for her. Beren was in training to be a Warder and while it was normally inappropriate for recruits and novices to socialize, the Mistress of Novices had said they might meet in the gardens. This was only the second time since she had been in the tower that they had done so, the first shortly after her arrival, when he had hugged her in congratulations, and nodded solemnly when she said they should not meet too often. She had accepted her life here, and her family, even Beren, no longer had any part in that life. So she had been surprised when she received his note from a fellow novice.


He had news from home, he had told her. A letter from their parents. She had had a few letters of her own, of course, but nothing recent. Her studies and chores left very little time for letter writing after all. His news was not happy, her mother was ill, gravely ill. Her father had already tried many things to help, but her illness continued. He had asked Beren to tell her, saying he feared she would not survive. Beren had said he would send a letter back to their father, telling him to bring their mother here to be healed by an Aes Sedai. Charis had told him to relay a message that she too thought her mother should be brought to an Aes Sedai, and that she wished them well. Neither of them said it, but it seemed unlikely from her father's letter that her mother would survive such a journey.


Snapping back to her current surroundings Charis continued scrubbing with renewed vigor. It seemed unfair, that she would not be allowed to leave even to see her mother before she died. She had though, for one very brief moment, or running away. She would have returned of course, facing the terrible punishments a runaway always did, but she would see her mother one last time. She had abandoned the thought nearly immediately. Not from fear of punishment, although the last girl to try and runaway still could not sit comfortably and that had been a month ago. But the girl had only made it five feet from the tower befoer she was caught, and Charis doubted her odds were any better. Still, it had been a tempting thought.


She shook her head, no she could not run, not even temporarily. She could only hope and pray that her mother would recover, at least enough to risk the journey to Tar Valon. But Light, Charis would have given anything in that moment to see her mother's face one more time. She had thought she had accepted her new life, had said good bye to her parents and brothers thinking never to see them again. And yet a small part had envisioned her return to the Wagon Wheel, the inn her father owned, as an Aes Sedai, wearing the ring and her shawl, always a different color in her dreams, her face serene. Her mother would weep with happiness to see her, her father would smile in his gruff way. Her brothers would be in awe, and finally stop bullying her. Now, even that small dream was taken from her. Her mother would probably die, if not now then in the future, and she would never return home.


Charis was surprised when she felt something wet on her face, and realized she was crying. Not the loud sobs she had heard from some of the novice's quarters, but a quiet weeping. One filled with loss, of things she had left behind, and things she had yet to lose. She looked over her shoulder, praying no Aes Sedai would walk by and see her crying. She tried focusing on her task, one wall now shone, completely grime free, she was sure no one would find fault with it. Two of the buckets of water were too dirty to be of any use, so she started on the next wall, scrubbing. Tears continued to leak down her face, but she didn't stop scrubbing. Couldn't stop.


She was Charis Delphi, a Novice of the White Tower. And she would be an Aes Sedai. Maybe not for many many long years, but she knew this to be truth. She would be able to help people like her mother, to ease their pain and suffering. To learn things which most people had never even imagined. Her mother had accepted that she was going, she had seen it in her face when she left, and so too Charis must accept that whatever happened she had to stay here. She knew her mother would not want her to abandon her life here, the future she would make, not even to see her one more time. She would be strong like her mother. She was of the Tower now, and while for now that meant scrubbing a filthy room unused for years, and likely to remain unused for many more, she would remain. She would persevere, she would survive.


Fighting back tears she took the buckets out, emptied them and refilled them, heading back to her task. She kept her head down so no one would see her red eyes. She said a final prayer for her mother, and walked back into the room. She was of the Tower. She would look forward, and not back. Tears still silently flowing down her face, she began her scrubbing again.


Charis Delphi

Novice of the White Tower


((OOC:I would like to dedicate this to my stepmom who passed away very suddenly July 2010, and who is always very much in my thoughts and heart.))

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