Aramir drifted in and out of consciousness for the rest of the day. He watched the sun slowly begin to sink towards the west, casting odd shadows across his face and causing him to lie on his side to avoid being blinded. When he was finally able to roll back to his original position on his back, he saw a familiar figure coming towards the house. His heart leapt in anxiety as the form of the Captain of the Itir grew larger and larger, until Aramir could see a pleased smile across the half-Elf’s face. Pleased, and smug. Aramir sat up quickly and watched him approach with nervous energy, wanting to climb down from the roof but afraid he would fall if he tried.
When Lee finally reached the house, he looked up at Aramir and rolled his eyes, smiling. “Good view from up there, Aramir?” he asked.
Aramir grinned back down at him. “Very.” He stood up slowly and shook his head, clearing away the dizzy feeling that accompanied his anxiety. After a moment he walked to the edge of the roof and leapt off, landing with a soft thud next to Lee. He straightened up and brushed himself off, swallowing nervously.
Lee shook his head, glancing from the roof to Aramir and back. “You’re crazy, do you know that?”
Aramir nodded. “I believe Kellian has told me that several…hundred times.”
Lee chuckled and turned away, pushing open the door to the house. “Most of the Itir are crazy, though,” he said softly.
“What did you say?” Aramir demanded, having only heard a bit of Lee’s comment.
The Captain grinned. “Didn’t say a thing.” He held up his hands as though pleading innocent.
“Hmph,” Aramir muttered, jumping on Kellian’s bed. “Wake up Kell!” he cried, startling the Elf out of his sleep.
“Gosh Ar. That’s not much better than ‘stop!'”
Aramir tried to smile, but the fluttery feeling in his stomach had returned, even more intense than before. “Lee’s here,” he whispered as Kellian sat up and ran a hand through his golden hair.
The Elf’s eyes glittered, taking on the same look as Aramir’s- wide and full of anxiety.
Lee sat down upon Aramir’s bed and glanced around the room. “I’m sure you two are disappointed that you will no longer be roommates,” he mused.
Aramir nodded his agreement, biting his lip.
“You two are such good friends,” Lee continued, seemingly oblivious to the anxious, annoyed stares of the two young men. He sighed. “I really don’t want to say this.” He seemed so serious that for a moment Aramir felt his hope simply vanish.
“And!??” Kellian demanded, blue eyes sparking. “You had better tell us or you’ll be sorry you ever joined in that pillow fight! We’ll beat you so hard…”
Lee began to laugh, but Kellian continued.
“…won’t we Ar? Come on, grab a pillow.”
Aramir complied, grinning despite the fluttery feeling.
The Captain of the Itir only laughed harder. “Is that,” he began through bouts of laughter. “Is that…any way to…to speak to… your new Captain?” He flopped back on the bed, laughing hysterically.
Aramir and Kellian were to busy deciphering his statement to notice his behavior. They had frozen in their tracks and were staring at each other in disbelief and ecstasy.
“You mean…” Aramir began, not daring to go further.
Lee sat up and wiped a tear from his eye, still chuckling loudly. “I do. Aramir, Kellian…” he looked at each one as he said their name, eyes filled with pride. “…Congratulations.”
The response to his statement was several ear-shattering shouts that must have been audible in Valinor. Aramir and Kellian danced around the room, shouting at the top of their lungs, tears of joy streaming down their faces. They hugged first each other and then Lee, thanking him over and over, and then each other again, and then Lee once more. The uncontrolled celebration continued for nearly ten minutes before either of the new Itir were able to be calm in the least. Even then they were unable to stand still due to their complete amazement.
“Well!” Lee began with an understanding and amused smile. “Now that the shock has worn off slightly, there are many things we need to discuss.”
“Now that the shock has worn off?” Aramir asked incredulously. “I’ll be in shock for the rest of my life!”
Lee chuckled. “Aye, but if you are in too much shock, you won’t be able to move into the palace tonight.”
Kellian grinned. “Maybe that’s not such a good idea. I think we’d keep the Royal Family up all night.”
Lee rolled his sparkling brown eyes. “You have forgotten that you two are no longer roommates. You are now across-the-hall mates, if you will. I would like you two to move into your rooms tonight and get settled. Tomorrow you will be fitted for uniforms, and I should like to have the induction ceremony either tomorrow night or the next morning. It will take you a while to get used to the routine, I’m sure, but I know you will both be able to handle it. You two can pack up your things and get your weapons ready and I’ll take you to your rooms.”
Aramir leapt to his feet excitedly and he and Kellian began scouring the room, snatching up clothing and weapons from where they had been scattered about. As a result of the little they had with them, it took less than ten minutes for them to be absolutely certain that they had everything.
When they were finished, Kellian turned to Lee. “Lead the way, O Great Leader!”
Lee crossed his arms over his chest and scowled. “My title is ‘All High Ruler of the Universe and Beyond’, thank you very much, and may I add that you bow when you address me.”
“Yes, but that is so long,” Kellian countered with a completely straight face as he and Aramir followed Lee out of the house and towards the palace. “Besides, Great Leader gets the point across anyway.”
Aramir chuckled, then turned back to the house. So many memories lived in that house, memories that he was leaving behind. His friendship with Kellian, his training, finally fulfilled. Then he shook his head. He was not leaving them behind- they had been packed up with the rest of his belongings. He would never forget what had gone on inside that house. He cast a final glance at it before setting off after Lee and Kellian.
“And here is your room, Aramir,” Lee announced, pushing open the door.
Aramir bounded into the room eagerly. The room looked much the same as Lee’s and Kellian’s did- a small bed in one corner, a dresser in another, and a set of doors leading to a balcony overlooking the grounds around the palace. Aramir immediately pushed the doors open to allow fresh air into the room. He felt the soft breeze on his face and smiled.
“Like it?” Lee asked with a smile.
Aramir crossed his arms over his chest and pasted a critical expression on his face. He held the expression for only several seconds before his ecstasy got the better of him and a huge grin replaced his previously stern one. “I love it!” he declared. “I cannot believe that I am actually an Itir!” He crossed the room to the bed and collapsed upon it, turning slightly to stare up at Lee.
The captain chuckled. “I’m glad you’re so excited. I’m sure you and Kellian will be up to all hours talking as usual, but please try and keep it quiet- there are other people trying to sleep. I or one of the others will come and wake you tomorrow and you will be fitted for uniforms. You will learn all of the procedures and otherwise tomorrow as well. Any questions?” Lee looked serious, but his eyes danced and a small smile pulled at his mouth.
Aramir propped himself up on his elbows, thought a moment, and then shook his head. “Unless you have a cure for temporary insomnia, then no, I’m fine.”
Lee laughed and shook his head. “I’m sorry, I can’t help you there,” he said as he turned and walked to the door. He opened it and peered into the hall. “You can come in now Kellian, I’m leaving!” he called.
Kellian’s laughter echoed across the hall as he bounded into Aramir’s room and leapt onto his friend’s bed. “Nice room, Ar,” he said after a quick inspection. “It looks quite familiar, can’t figure out why though…”
Aramir and Lee laughed. The captain gave a final salute and left the room, leaving Aramir and Kellian alone with their lingering excitement.
“Can you believe it?!” Kellian asked for the hundredth time that evening, jumping up eagerly. “Itir! We are finally Itir!”
“I know! I’ve dreamt about this forever!” Aramir joined in the ecstatic Elf’s celebration dance. “Wait until mother and Sicil hear about this! And Rin!”
About an hour and approximately thirty different versions of the victory dance later, Aramir finally flopped over on the bed. No, not the bed, his bed. He lay on his back and stared up at the ceiling for a moment, then turned his head to look at Kellian, who sat on a small chair across the room. What Aramir had failed to notice in Lee’s room, he noticed now-a small fire place was embedded in the wall, ready for someone to light a fire, which Aramir would have done had he not suddenly felt so tired.
“I just thought of something, Kell,” Aramir declared gleefully. “We’ll never have to see Janst again!”
Kellian’s eyes widened in remembrance. “You’re right!” he declared. “We’ll never have to hear his stupid, sarcastic remarks, or see his ugly face, or…” he trailed off before he went too far and grinned in satisfaction.
Then Aramir jumped, remembering something else. “And I’m free of Sëlune! I’ll never have to see her watching me practice again!” Aramir cheered as loudly as he dared. Sëlune had never tired of watching Aramir practice, and this and several of her suggestive remarks had made her Aramir’s second-to-least favorite person, his least favorite being Janst.
Kellian laughed. “And I’ll never get to see the exasperated looks on your face after she finishes talking to you.”
Aramir snorted, then grinned again.
“She will certainly be disappointed that you became an Itir,” Kellian teased.
“I won’t!” Aramir announced, rolling his eyes with a grin. “Can you really see me married anyway, Kell?”
Kellian cocked his head to one side and studied Aramir lying on the bed. After several moments he grinned and declared, “Perhaps.”
Aramir sat up. “I’m so glad, and may I say that I don’t ever want to know what you were trying to picture just now.”
Kellian burst into hysterical laughter and rose from the chair. “I think I had better leave before I get a pillow thrown in my face.” He bolted for the door, but Aramir was faster, smacking him with a pillow just before he was safely out.
“Ha!” Aramir called after him.
Kellian turned, picked up the pillow, and threw it back at Aramir. “Ha yourself!” he laughed, then turned and closed the door behind him.
Aramir grinned up at the ceiling as he adjusted himself in his bed. His own bed, in his own room- his official Itir room!
A gentle hand lovingly brushed a loose strand of hair out of his eyes, then trailed smoothly down his face and to his chest. Aramir tried to open his eyes, but when he did, he saw only darkness. There was another with him, though, and even when he could not see her, he knew she was there. The hand was joined by a second, and together they gently untucked his shirt from his pants and ran up his chest. He felt tingles run up and down his spine, but he shook his head in protest.
“Stop,” he murmured. “What are you doing?”
A musical voice only laughed softly and the smooth arms looped themselves about his neck. Aramir suddenly saw a pair of dazzlingly blue eyes before him, blue like winter frost, like ice, but soft and gentle and filled with love. Long, dark eyelashes framed the eyes, giving contrast to the startlingly beautiful colour. The eyes blinked several times and then faded into the darkness.
The next thing Aramir felt was soft, warm pressure upon his lips. He opened his mouth to protest, but the pressure only intensified, a soft, gentle, caressing feeling. The kiss lingered for a moment, and then the soft feeling strayed down his face to his neck.
“Stop it,” Aramir repeated, but even to himself, his plea sounded weak and without meaning.
“What is the matter, my love?” the voice asked gently, and the hand brushed across his face again and twirled his hair between its long, slender fingers.
“I’m not your love,” Aramir protested. “Itir do not love; do not love and do not marry. Leave me alone.”
She smiled- Aramir could feel it even when he could not see it- and kissed him again, and Aramir was powerless to stop her. “You are no Itir, Aramir Nárëgond.” And here, her voice dropped to a near whisper as she brought her lips to his ear. “But I know what you are.”
“No!” Aramir cried, but his cry fell into the darkness, for she was gone.
Where he had been lying, now there was nothing. He stood, surrounded only by white. Several feet away from him was a solitary figure- it was Kellian, his golden hair dirty with mud and dark blood, a cut across his lower arm, and staring at him unblinkingly.
“Kell?” Aramir asked quietly.
The Elf only blinked once at him; he said nothing. It was quite unnerving, seeing Kellian like this. And what was going on? Where were they?
Kellian stepped forward silently. He walked towards Aramir and did not stop until their faces were nearly touching. “You told me everything, Aramir,” the Elf whispered. “Everything but this.” He took Aramir’s arm in his hand and held it up, as though showing it to an invisible crowd. From Aramir’s arm seeped blood- jet black blood.
“No!” Aramir jerked his arm away from Kellian. “Kellian no!”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Kellian murmured, his eyes dull and devoid of emotion.
“Would you have listened? What would an Elf think of someone who is part Orc?”
Kellian didn’t answer, instead he turned and walked silently away, so calmly that it was nearly impossible to believe that it actually was Kellian.
“Kellian!” Aramir called, but the Elf only glided into the white void and disappeared.
Chapter 10: https://www.theonering.com/docs/12463.html
Chapter 11: https://www.theonering.com/docs/12536.html
Chapter 12: https://www.theonering.com/docs/12615.html
Chapter 13: https://www.theonering.com/docs/12711.html