Aramir glanced down at his hand absently as he walked through the market the next day. He wiggled his fingers experimentally, just as he had been doing for the past however many hours. Having a hole clean through your hand was rather unnerving, though, and no amount of training could have prepared Aramir for the odd sensation that his hand was somehow no longer there. It was though, and it did not even hurt very much, a miracle in addition to the fact that he could still use it, according to the healer in the palace. Wrapped in a black cloth, it was already beginning to heal, thanks to the salve that the healer had put on it the night before. He fingered a small bottle of liquid in his tunic again as he continued down the streets towards Rin’s father’s shop. He had used a good deal of it last night, making absolutely sure that there was no hint of the inky colour of his blood before he had complied with Lee’s request and gone to the healer. By the time he had finished, his blood had been the scarlet colour of a normal human.
He wasn’t normal, however, now in more ways than one. The experience of the prior day had made him something of a hero, for a good reason, he supposed, but all of the attention was almost as unnerving as his hand. Why he had decided to go into town today was rather a mystery even to him, but he needed to have his sword hilt fixed as soon as possible.
Aramir barely managed to bite back a groan in response to the voice that brought him from his musings. He glanced up to see his worst fears confirmed- Sëlune stood before him, a flirtatious smile playing across her soft red lips. Her dark hair was done up elaborately on her head in a series of braids and curls, as though she was on her way to a celebration.
“Good day, Sëlune,” he answered evenly.
She stepped closer to him and took his hand, preventing him from going any further. Her long, slender fingers traced the bandage over his wound. “I haven’t seen you in so long, Aramir,” she lamented in a singsong voice. “I had begun to think you had disappeared.” She leaned towards him and began to fiddle with the laces on his shirt, just as she had done the first time she had met him.
Aramir sighed in exasperation and raised his eyes to the heavens. He knew that she wanted him to say that he had missed her as well, but he wasn’t about to.
“Father told me about what happened yesterday in the palace,” Sëlune continued. She raised her eyes to meet his, and they were filled with admiration. “He said you saved Lord Arodan’s life.”
Aramir nodded slightly.
She rested her head against his chest and Aramir frowned. “That was so brave of you, Aramir,” the noblewoman purred, completely oblivious to the discomfort of the Itir. “And selfless, and honourable…”
“I am sworn to protect Arodan and his family,” he protested, rolling his dark eyes. “I was only doing my job.”
She sighed, an odd, almost proud sound. “You are so modest, Aramir.” She draped her arms about his waist and ran them across his back. Aramir squirmed uncomfortably. “I’ve heard some of the others call you Ar,” the woman went on.
“Yes,” Aramir confirmed when he decided that she was waiting for an answer.
She giggled. “Ar. I like that. Ar…Ari.”
Aramir bit back a disgusted noise. Ari. The day he willingly let anyone call him Ari was the day he decided to go and join a colony of Orcs.
“Sëlune, I really must go,” he announced, trying to pry herself from her arms.
“Oh, must you?” she murmured, pulling him even closer. “I think of you all the time, you know. Every night, when I’m all alone in bed, I wish you were there, to keep me company.”
She smiled as though she knew a deep secret and was about to favor him with it. “Why don’t you ever come to see me? I know you cannot marry, but just a night…”
That was enough for Aramir. He shoved her away, firmly enough to let her know that he had no intention of ever giving in to her desire. “I’m sorry, Sëlune,” he lied. “That is just not possible.”
“Oh,” she said, lowering her eyes and jutting out her lower lip in a pouty expression. “Very well. I suppose it is better…” she trailed off, and Aramir knew that she was trying to make him feel sorry for her. “Then I will see you around.” She leaned towards him a last time and smiled seductively. “Good day… Ari.”
Then she was gone, disappearing into the crowds like a dream. Or a nightmare, thought Aramir, brushing off his tunic as though she had dirtied it. Wouldn’t Sëlune ever give up? He rolled his eyes again and continued down the street, suddenly very thankful that Kellian had not been there…
He found himself outside of the swordsmith’s shop several uneventful minutes later and heaved a sigh of relief, pushing the door open and stepping inside. The small room was as familiar to him as his own home, and he felt a pang of sadness as he realized that he had been neither here nor home since becoming an Itir.
“Good day, sir, what can I do for you?” a voice asked from the back room, and a moment later a tall, well built man appeared in the door frame. In the dim light Aramir saw his sandy-coloured hair and shining green eyes and smiled.
“Hello Ronir,” he greeted enthusiastically.
“Well, if it isn’t Aramir Nárëgond! Goodness, haven’t seen you about lately, young man.”
“Yes,” Aramir agreed with disappointment. “I’ve been rather busy…”
“Of course you have!” Ronir agreed, beckoning for the Itir to come forward. “An Itir in the palace, and a hero at that. Heard all about it, Rin and I did. Couldn’t believe it was the same Aramir we used to know. You always used to be so much trouble.”
Aramir laughed, imagining what Lee would have said had the captain been there.
“So, come to see Rin, have you? He’ll be so pleased, especially after yesterday.”
“Actually, I came to have this fixed,” Aramir corrected, holding out his broken weapon. “But I’d love to see Rin, if he’s here.”
Ronir nodded absently, eyeing the sword expertly. “Well, this is interesting,” he mused. “Happened yesterday, did it?”
Aramir blushed. “Well, uh, yes, but…” he trailed off and grinned, then told Rin’s father the story. But the time he had finished, Ronir was laughing so loudly that people on the streets were peering in to see what the commotion was about.
“Still causing trouble, then, eh? Sounds just like the young Aramir that used to get into Lord Arnin’s land!”
Aramir grinned sheepishly and nodded.
“Well I am certainly glad to hear that becoming an Itir hasn’t gone to your head, young man.” Ronir gave Aramir a teasing smile. “Let me see if Rin is here.”
He turned away, taking Aramir’s sword with him to the back room. Upon pushing open the door, he was greeted with a startled cry and a chorus of ‘shhh’s. “No, no,” a voice, unarguably Rin’s, hissed.
A moment later, Aramir’s old friend appeared in the door, looking decidedly guilty. “Uh, hello Aramir,” he greeted, scooting out of the doorframe and shutting if firmly behind him.
“What is going on back there?” Aramir demanded, stepping forward.
“Nothing, nothing. You’ll find out sooner or later,” Rin assured him, not moving from his position in the doorway.
Aramir crossed his arms over his chest and raised an eyebrow. “Oh will I?” he mused. “Well, how about I just find out now?”
“No!” Rin exclaimed. “Come along, Aramir, be patient.”
Aramir grinned. “Oh, fine,” he acquiesced. “So how have you been?”
“Never mind me,” Rin blurted out, forgetting what lay behind the door and stepping forward. Aramir did not bother to pry. “I heard what happened yesterday! They are all saying that you saved Arodan’s life! What happened?”
Aramir stared into his eager eyes and smiled with slight pride. Somehow, Rin’s admiration was different from that of everyone else. That Rin was proud of him truly meant something to Aramir. He told the swordsmith’s son about the experience, and at his incessant requests, showed him the wound in his hand. Rin exclaimed over and over, clearly in awe.
At that moment, a small, heavyset man entered the shop, carrying a stout hunting knife in his hands. He completely ignored Rin, but half-bowed to Aramir, and then turned to the counter and shouted, “Ronir!”
Rin flinched and made a face. Aramir shot Rin a doubtful look and mouthed, “I had better go.”
Rin nodded, clearly disappointed.
“Ah, hello Taninar,” Ronir greeted respectfully. “Aramir, I shall have Rin bring your sword by as soon as possible.”
Aramir nodded thankfully and Ronir turned back to Taninar. The young Itir bid farewell to Rin, noting that the secretive look had returned to his face, and left the shop.
“Yes, I know, but I would honestly rather just be left alone. Being a hero is so odd.”
Lee Merin chuckled and brought his hand to rest upon Aramir’s shoulder. The young man had been unable to adjust to the admiration he was receiving from virtually everyone in the palace and beyond. In the two days since the ‘event’, Aramir had been stopped repeatedly by noblemen and women, townspeople, and even servants, all wanting to talk to the young man who had allegedly saved King Arodan’s life. Aramir, who had never been one to take compliments well, had insisted that he was only doing his job. Lee had told him that while he was quite right, he had certainly also done something beyond everyday, and they all had a right to congratulate him.
“You may as well get used to the feeling, Aramir. They will be admiring you for quite a while.” He smiled and patted the other’s shoulder, then ran a hand over his own chestnut ponytail.
Kellian rounded the corner up ahead and skidded to a halt in front of his best friend and the Itir Captain.
Aramir grinned. “Yes?”
“There are a few people in the Hall who want to see you.”
Aramir’s grin faded instantly and he groaned. “No, Kellian. Tell them I’m busy or something. Please, I can’t take this any more. I think I’ll go practice my archery.”
He turned to go and Lee and Kellian seized his arms.
“Don’t even think about it, young man,” Lee scolded. “If they want to see you, you should at least go and say hello.”
Aramir sighed and rolled his eyes, letting his friends drag him down the hall. “I don’t recall this being in the job description for Itir.”
Lee and Kellian laughed. “Oh, there are many things that were not in the job description that you are obligated to do,” Lee consoled.
They turned the corner and suddenly something large and black collided with Aramir. He crashed to the ground with a startled cry, eyes wide and staring up at the figure that had smashed into him.
“Aramir!” a very familiar voice cried.
He started in surprise and let his eyes focus upon the figure that held him pinned to the ground. “Sicil?!”
The young woman lying over him laughed loudly and gave him a broad smile. “Hello, big brother!” She laughed again and climbed off of him, pulling the shocked Itir to his feet.
Aramir brushed himself off, all the while staring at his sister. “Sicil, I don’t believe this!” Out of the corner of his eye, he saw two other very familiar figures; Rin and his mother stood a few feet off, both smiling broadly.
“You don’t believe this? How do you think I felt when I came home and mother told me that you were an Itir? I nearly fainted. My brother: an Itir, and a hero!”
Aramir groaned. “If you start that hero thing I’ll make you leave.”
“You’ll make me leave? What happened to, ‘Wow, Sicil, I’m so glad to see you!’?”
He laughed and embraced his sister. “Wow, Sicil, I’m so glad to see you!”
The small group gathered in the hall laughed. Loudest of all was Lee, and Aramir turned to him, remembering.
“Oh! Sicil, this is Lee. Captain Lee Merin of the Itir. Lee, this is my sister, Sicil.”
Lee reached for the young woman’s hand and bent as though to kiss it. She pulled her hand from his grip. “I don’t care if you are Manwë himself,” she retorted. “Kiss my hand and you’ll never kiss anything again.”
“Sicil!” Aramir was mortified. That was his sister, no doubt. Sicil hated formality, and never made any attempt to hide it. Aramir always marveled at the fact that they had even let her set foot in Rivendell, considering her straight-forward, blunt manner and disregard for etiquette. He could not believe what she had just said to Lee.
The captain of the Itir laughed. “Aye, Aramir, she is your sister.” He turned to her, eyes sweeping over her small, well-built figure and array of weapons. “If you are half the warrior that your brother is, you could be an Itir as well. I am honoured to meet you.”
She grinned, pleased, and Lee turned to Ryal and Rin. The later backed away, embarrassment painted across his face.
“And my mother, Ryal,” Aramir continued, stepping forward and embracing her.
Ryal smiled, allowing Lee to kiss her hand and shooting a look at her daughter.
Rin inched away, but Aramir saw and grabbed his wrist, dragging him forward. “Lee, this is one of my very good friends, Rin. His father is the swordsmith Ronir.”
Lee smiled brightly at Rin and extended his hand. Rin took it tentatively. “I’m honoured to meet you,” the young man managed.
The captain of the Itir suppressed a chuckle, his friendly smile never fading. “The honour is mine, to meet a friend of Aramir’s. You father is Ronir?” At Rin’s hesitant ‘yes’, Lee nodded. “A wonderful swordsmith. He ought to take a look at Aramir’s sword.” The captain shot a teasing look at Aramir.
“He did,” Rin spoke up, holding out the weapon. “Here it is. And your surprise.” He gestured to the group, seeming braver now that the initial introduction was over.
“And what about me?” a voice interrupted. “Did you forget me?”
Aramir turned and grinned broadly at Kellian. “I don’t think it is possible to forget you, Kell. Besides, you have met everyone except Sicil.”
“Aye,” Sicil agreed. “And from what I have heard of him, I have been deprived of the acquaintance of a very interesting Elf.”
“Interesting is putting it mildly,” Aramir declared, earning him a sharp stab in the ribs. “Ouch!” he cried, swatting at the grinning Elf. Kellian leapt to one side and held out a hand to Sicil.
“I’m very pleased to meet the other normal member of Aramir’s family. How did you survive growing up with him?”
She laughed. “It was torture,” she lamented. Turning to Aramir, she added, “Perhaps he could make it up to me now. I’ve always wanted a tour of the palace.”
He spent the rest of the day giving Sicil, Ryal, and Rin the desired tour, which consisted of his room, all of the main rooms, and then some. Kellian, of course, was the assistant tour guide, pointing out things that Aramir did not and teasing his friend when he was not ‘guiding.’ Lee followed them for a while, then excused himself, informing them that they were all invited to dinner if they wished to stay.
Rin had looked surprised and a bit frightened at this announcement. “You don’t…don’t eat dinner with Lord Arodan, do you?” he had asked.
Aramir and Kellian had laughed good-naturedly. “No,” Aramir assured had him. “We only eat with the king during special affairs.”
“Like dinners with ambassadors,” Sicil had put in, grinning wickedly.
Ryal was, not surprisingly, the most calm of the group and the most interested in the actual tour. She stared around the spacious halls with wide and awe-filled eyes, marveling over the home her son now dwelt in. She asked him question upon question, but Aramir was always happy to answer. He realized as he did how much he had missed his family, especially his mother. Several times she told him how proud she was of him, always making Aramir blush and his friends laugh.
At Sicil’s request, he was telling the story of the ‘ambassadors’ from the east as they made their way to the dining hall, when Lord Arodan appeared from around the corner. Upon seeing him Aramir’s cheeks flushed automatically, as though anticipating more of the praise he had received over the past few days. The king saw the party and smiled in a friendly manner. From behind him, Aramir heard an awed gasp from Rin.
“Good evening, milord,” Aramir and Kellian chorused, bowing.
He nodded at them. “Good evening, Aramir, Kellian. Have you managed to avoid an excess of admiration today, Aramir?” The Itir eyed him with surprise, and Arodan chuckled and winked. “Lee has told me of your myriad of admirers, young man. I fear some of that is my fault.”
They laughed. “It is though,” Kellian muttered with mock annoyance. “If you hadn’t lived…honestly, Lord Arodan, you are making Aramir’s life very difficult.”
The king burst into full-fledged laughter at the Elf’s disdain.
“Kellian!” Aramir heard Rin gasp from behind him.
Arodan heard him and smiled. “They are so polite, aren’t they?” he asked. He saved Rin the embarrassment of having to answer by casting a general smile at the group. “You must be the guests Lee spoke of. Aramir’s family, am I correct?”
“Aye, milord,” answered the Itir in question. “My mother, Ryal, and sister Sicil. And this is Rin, a close friend.”
They each bowed upon being introduced, adding respectful
greetings as well. Arodan nodded and smiled at each, and it seemed to Aramir that he was almost sorry for the formal way in which they greeted him. Aramir had learned early on how informal Arodan could be when there was no one there to care.
The king turned to Ryal. “You must be very proud of your son. He is quite remarkable, as you no doubt know.”
Ryal nodded, smiling softly at Aramir. “Aye, milord, I know.”
“Ar, remarkable?” Kellian teased, draping an arm over the blushing Aramir’s shoulders. “Wait until you meet my parents, milord. They certainly won’t say that about me.”
Arodan chuckled. “I am quite interested in hearing what they do have to say, Kellian.” He turned to the group again and offered a half bow. “If you will please excuse me, I must be going. It was a pleasure meeting you.”
They watched him glide off down the hall with Elven grace, a hushed silence striking the entire group.
Kellian broke the silence with a laugh. “He called you remarkable,” he declared.
“Ugh, don’t mention it,” Aramir groaned, cheeks burning. He buried his face in his hands and shook his head. “I have been embarrassed far too much today.”
“Embarrassed?” Sicil retorted. “You call praise from the king embarrassment?”
“Yes, apparently he does,” Rin commented, eyebrows raised.
Ryal chuckled softly and came up beside Aramir, embracing him lightly. “He was not trying to embarrass you, my son. He is proud of you, just as I am. You are a wonderful Itir, I have no doubt. You should not be embarrassed to hear the truth.”
Aramir gave his mother a half-smile. Trying to break the sentimentality of the moment, he glanced around and asked, “So who is ready to eat?”
“So that is your family…” Kellian mused several hours and one giant farewell later. The two Itir sat on the balcony of Aramir’s room, legs dangling dangerously over the edge, staring out over the city. The sun was setting in the west, casting odd shadows across some buildings and dazzling others with light.
Aramir sat in silence a moment more, then nodded. “Aye. And now that you have met them all, it is my turn to meet yours.”
The Elf laughed softly. “Maybe some day. You are lucky that your family lives in Gondor.”
Aramir started in surprise, noting the almost sad tone of Kellian’s voice. He realized suddenly that the other had not seen his family for almost a year. It was such a short time for one who was immortal, but even that time away from his family must be hard.
“You miss them,” he declared, tracing the delicate carvings
upon the balcony.
“Yes.” His face broke into a teasing smile. “I’ll wager they don’t miss me.”
Aramir chuckled. “I’d have to agree. Didn’t you say once that they practically threw a party when they found out that you were going away?” He shoved the Elf just enough to disturb his balance on the railing.
Kellian laughed, distorting for a moment the pattern of light that the setting sun was creating over his fair face. “Aye, and they did not even invite me!”
Aramir watched him laugh, shaking his head. When the laughter had ended, he smiled brightly at Kellian, but his tone was serious. “Of course they miss you Kell. Even if you were the worst behaved Elf child in the world- and I am certain that you were- you are still their only son. Perhaps some day we will go to Rivendell with Arodan and I can meet them.”