"Clearly the old man is out of his mind."
Jaleth brushed a hair out of her face, accidentally smearing some mud on her forehead. She tried focussing on the seeds in her hand but it was kind of hard to do when you had a thunderstorm inside your head.
"Clearly," Wynne said without looking up from her page. She was sitting in the corner of the greenhouse, trying to read a book Irving had lend her.
The greenhouse was Jaleth's favourite place in the Tower. It was also a restricted area because Greagoir didn't like his mages to be around large amounts of glass. Especially the mages that mastered their rock throwing spell a little too well.
"He can't possibly be serious. I am no blighted teacher."
Wynne closed the book with a sigh, there was no point in pretending she would be able to read another word when Jaleth was in a mood like this one.
"I recall a certain someone in camp telling me she wasn't a leader either, or a Grey Warden for that matter. Look at how that turned out."
Jaleth sat back on her knees, with her clothes covered in dirt she looked a lot like what she looked like during the Blight, except for the lack of Darkspawn guts in her hair maybe.
"I didn't really have a choice back then."
She looked up to see Cullen still guarding the door. She sometimes forgot that he was actually there, being all Templar-y and silent. Guard duty had always been a game to her. She used to test him a lot, trying to make him blush or move when he was not supposed to, always placing bets with Jowan.
The thought of him still made her feel sick in the stomach.
Jowan the blood mage.
She knew she was sending him to his death when she ordered him back to the Circle and she had still done it.
He was sentenced to death before the Blight had even ended, before she had the chance to see him one last time. The Chantry was swift and strict when it came to dealing with blood mages, even if they redeemed themselves by saving the Arl of Redcliffe's son.
She noticed her hands were shaking. The thought of Jowan still affected her physically. Like the thought of Alistair still made her heart hurt.
She had been too quick to judge when it wasn't her place to judge at all. The world wasn't black and white, and she wondered what would have happened to him if she had only seen the grey in it back than.
Wynne had a preach-y look on her face when Jaleth finally looked up. She did not like the preach-y look and she rarely agreed with it.
"You do not have much choice now either my dear. It was your own choice to go back to the Tower and this is just how things work. You don't want to spend the rest of your days here cleaning toilets now, do you?"
She was quite sure Cullen had moved just now, right after Wynne proposed the toilet thing. She swore she could see a hint of a smile behind those well trained eyes.
"Maker, you are acting like a petulant child. You remind me of Alistair sometimes, you really do."
Jaleth stopped digging, waving the small shovel around while coming up with something to contradict the older mage, but failing miserably.
The truth was that Wynne was right. Jaleth came back on her own accord. She could have stayed at court or could have helped rebuilding the Order, but she choose to go home and the consequences were of her own making.
"Well at least you don't have to clean my socks and fix my shirts, that must count for something right?"
"I suppose it must," Wynne smiled. She opened her book again. "Now if you would focus on that dirt patch again. Those roses won't plant themselves you know."
It went silent after that, but only for a minute or two.
"My apprentice is supposed to be lovely," Jaleth continued, planting her shovel in the dirt again in a desperate attempt to plant the seeds. Planting new life for every life she had failed to safe during the Blight.
"That's great," Wynne sighed.
"But I just wouldn't know what to do with her, you know. What if I fail and she gets her head chopped off during her Harrowing?"
Wynne closed her book with a terrific sigh. She was getting too old for this. It was time to retire somewhere nice, somewhere warm, somewhere where people wouldn't interrupt you when you were trying to read a trashy novel.
Jaleth finally picked up on Wynne's desperation.
"Oh they'll get each other in the end anyway Wynne, they always do."
For a moment there it looked if Wynne was going to throw the book at her. When she decided the book would remain where it was, she opened her mouth once more.
"No but seriously Wynne, I don't know what to do with her. What if she fails her Harrowing because I didn't teach her properly? What if she becomes a blood mage? What if..."
"That risk is ever present. But you can not let fear control you, you of all people should know that. We would all be Darkspawn lunch by now if you didn't."
"I suppose you're right."
She sat there for a little while, playing with the shovel in her hand, pondering, while all of a sudden all the blood seemed to disappear from her face.
"Are you all right?"
"I don't know," she replied. She tried to balance herself on her knees, closed her eyes and tried to focus her breathing until it became too much. A pale stream of vomit slipped through her fingers as she tried to keep it all in.
Wynne rushed up to help her, the book falling from her lap and into the dirt.
Jaleth used her free hand to signal her friend that she was all right.
"You've just ruined a perfectly good book for nothing. I am fine."
Wynne took Jaleth by her arm and raised her of the floor.
"It's probably Irving's damned stew anyway."
"Well whatever it was, it's on the floor now."
Cullen left his post to offer his assistance, which Jaleth declined.
"You should get some rest, " he said.
"I am fine."
"Remember what happened to us the last time you said you were fine?" Wynne replied.
Jaleth poked one foot in the sand.
"All right, all right. Time to retreat then."
She had slept for half an hour before she woke up again. Sleeping during the day always made her feel a little guilty, like she was wasting what precious time was given to her when there was always something to do.
But the truth was she hadn't had much to do ever since she got back to the Tower.
People were different around her now. Like she was some sort of breakable object. There was no need for a hero when there was no war left to fight.
Things got decided without her again and no one seemed to actually need her opinion any more. She had gone from commanding an army to being a chamber plant, or that was what it felt like anyway. Jaleth's world was a world of extremes. She could never just 'be,' she had to be extraordinary. Planting seeds for poultices just wasn't going to cut it.
Maybe training an apprentice would do her some good after all.
She got up and walked to the vanity in the corner. She brushed her hair without looking at herself in the mirror. It was hard to look at your reflection when you didn't recognise the face staring back at you any longer. She could not get used to the lines in her face, the black pools underneath her eyes.
She still hadn't got used to her room either. It was a little different from the apprentice's quarters she used to reside in.
Some things stayed the same though, like the meals in the morning or the gossip in the library. But other things would never be the same again. The silence, the empty hallways, the vacant dorms.
Jaleth sighed, tied her hair together, put on her robes and left the room. The time of moping about the boy that got away was over. She would start building a life again and the first step to doing so was finding that apprentice of hers somewhere in this godforsaken Tower.