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Heart of a Warden

Chapter 14: Chapter 14

by aimless

It was good to be going home again. The month he had spent on the borders
had been unaccountably lonely and his thoughts were often with the elleth he
had left behind. Rúmil had been careful to make sure that his feelings did
not cause a distraction to his sworn duty. Although night time was the worst
as he laid in his flet high in the treetops his thoughts strayed as he tried
to rest. His mind lingered on the years they had known each other and their
close friendship. He could remember every nuance of Dara's face and her dry
wit and hearty laughter. The memories of her toned body and silken hair
caused him to toss and turn restlessly. When he did manage to dream those
dreams turned unbearably erotic as his subconscious supplied images of her
wrapped around him in amorous embraces that had him waking in a state that
he had not been in since his adolescence. Maybe seeing her again would put
some of these fantasies to rest. His eagerness to reach home transferred
itself to his mount and his horse increased his pace as he neared the city.

The few brief letters he had gotten from his brother Orophin had stated
that Dara had done her best to avoid him or any of the other wardens who had
tried to visit. That did not deter Orophin in the least. He still made it a
point to spend a part of each day with his old friend. He could not get her
to talk about her breakdown that day nor did she want to hear about any news
regarding the other Guardians of the wood. So he put up with her stoic and
brooding silences until he managed to draw her out of her self imposed
isolation. He spent their daily visits chatting about all the day to day
events of many of the inhabitants of Lorien. It seemed that Orophin's true
vocation should have been as a spy. He seemed to know about everything that
went on in his home. The only other person who knew more about the comings
and goings of the denizens of the Golden Wood was Lady Galadriel. Orophin
thrived on gossip. Since Rúmil had asked his older brother to keep an eye on
her he was gratified that Orophin was proving to be such a good companion in
his absence.

Rúmil regretted leaving without saying goodbye. He felt as if he had
sneaked away like a guilty elfling. He would rectify the situation as soon
as he saw her. Even if she did not return his feelings it would be enough to
simply be near her. He reached the stables and left his mount in the capable
hands of the grooms and gathered his equipment. He would drop them off at
his talan and then seek out Dara in the healing halls. On the way to his
destination he spotted Orophin.

"Phin wait for me!"

His brother turned at the sound of someone calling his name and his face lit
up with a smile as he saw his younger brother approaching him. He ran to
Rúmil and laughing swept him up into a hug.

"Enough, enough, leave some ribs intact! Let go you orc!"

"You look well for having been on the border for a month, run into any
trouble?"

"Not a whisper, tell me how is Dara?"

"Oh I see how it is, I do not even rate a hello Phin you are looking well,
or Phin how have you been? I see where I stand. I who have been your
brother and constant companion for centuries; I feel so unloved." He
remarked with a pout.

Rúmil put his brother in a headlock and they both tumbled to the ground.
The casual passerby looked on in amusement. It was not unusual to find the
younger brothers of Haldir engaged in an impromptu wrestling match. It was
not long before Orophin gained the upper hand and soon had his brother
pinned to the ground. Rúmil could not move, his arms were held immobile and
his older brother sat on his legs holding him down.

"Let me up you ill mannered warg. Get off!"

"Not until you give me a proper greeting due your elder brother."

"Oh very well! Oh Phin you are looking well, tell me have you done something
different with your hair? Oh and how have you been? Read any good books
lately?" Rúmil mocked sarcastically.

Orophin rolled his eyes and sighed theatrically.

"I suppose that is the best greeting I am going to get. I knew we should
have taught you better manners. We should have left you in the woods as a
babe for the squirrels to raise. But no, Haldir insisted we keep you. I told
him you would be nothing but trouble. As usual he did not listen. I guess I
had better let you up to cause more trouble."

He extended a hand and pulled Rúmil to his feet. Both brothers spent a
moment picking leaves and twigs out of each other's hair and brushing off
the dirt their scuffle had caused.

"Now can you tell me how Dara has been during my absence?"

"I would have to say she is a bit better. We have a new healer, he has
returned from Imladris. Lord Elrond himself tutored him. He completed his
training and returned home. You remember him, his name is Tirinvo."

Rúmil thought and tried to put a name to the face. He seemed to recall a
skinny bookish young elf, who had left a long time ago to foster in
Imladris.

"Tirinvo? Was he a shy, skinny, meek sort of fellow? Didn't talk much, liked
to read all the time?"

"That would be him, but I think you will find him much changed. It seems
that fostering in Imladris agreed with him. Oh he is still somewhat skinny
and has his nose buried in a medical text. He is much more confident now and
actually quite pleasant to talk to. Anyway, he has been overseeing Dara's
therapy. He considers her to be the first real test of his skills. He is
always nearby when I visit her. He arrived here right after you left for
border patrol. In fact he is probably with her now."

"I see... well I should go meet him then. I will see you later, we can have a
drink together."

Rúmil absently clasped his brother's arm in farewell and walked towards the
healing house deep in thought.

Rúmil was grateful to this new healer that was trying to help Dara. He
really was, but he could not help feeling envious that Tirinvo was getting
the majority of her attention according to Orophin. He hastened to Dara's
room in the patients area of the healing hall. He paused outside her door
when he heard laughter, feminine laughter. He could not remember the last
time he had heard such a sound coming from her. He pushed open the door to
look at whom she was with. There was an elf sitting next to Dara on the bed.
He was tall even by their standards and lean. His skin was pale and his knee
length hair was an almost luminescent pale silver and was tightly braided
into one thick plait so as not to get into his way as he worked. When the
stranger turned to look at who entered the room Rúmil noticed that his eyes
were a startling shade of green, as light as the new grass in the spring. He
was dressed in Healer's robes, this must be Tirinvo. Although this elf bore
little resemblance to the awkward youth he remembered.

Rumil also looked at Dara; She seemed much better now than she had when he
had left for border duty. Her skin had lost its pallor and she had lost the
gauntness associated with a long illness. Her honey blonde hair hung in
loose waves down her back and to his amazement she was wearing a dress.
Granted it was a plain sort of a dress with a square cut neckline and
sleeves that fit tight to the wrist. Its only decoration was a bit of
embroidery at the neck and hem. The dress was a dark green; a color he
thought particularly suited her. Seeing Dara dressed like this made him very
uneasy, this was not his Dara. She looked so soft and vulnerable sitting
there.

Her leg was bared to the upper thigh and he could see the ugly half-healed
scar. The healer had his hand on her knee and seemed to be stroking it. The
sight of another elf with his hands on Dara caused his stomach to burn and
uncharacteristic anger swamped his judgment.

Dara looked up when the door to her room opened, she had been laughing at a
comment the new healer made about his training under Lord Elrond. His twin
sons were known as quite the pranksters and as a newcomer to the house the
young healer was often the target for their mischief. It was one such story
that had lightened her mood. When she caught sight of Rúmil she welcomed him
with a smile. It looked as if he had just gotten back. He was still in his
warden uniform, which looked quite travel worn. Her smile faded when she
noticed the scowl on his face.

She could not understand why Rúmil looked so angry. Dara hated the fact that
he had seen her break down. It had embarrassed her to lose control in front
of him and as a result she had pushed him away. Dara realized now that he
had acted out of concern for her and she showed her gratitude by ignoring
him. Orophin had mentioned that he was due back from the borders today and
she had been anticipating his visit. The new healer had been working on her
leg for almost three weeks and she was excited by her progress and wanted to
share the good news. Then Dara noticed where Rúmil's gaze lingered and she
felt heat creep up to her cheeks. He was looking at the healer's hand on her
knee. Dara whispered a comment to Tirinvo and he removed his hand. Dara
rearranged her skirts and greeted the warden.

"Rúmil come in please I have missed you." Dara scooted to the edge of the
bed and smiled once more. She hoped it would dispel the disapproving expression on her
fellow warden's face.

Tirinvo stood up to greet Rúmil and was also surprised by the hostile
expression on the elf's face. "Rúmil how nice to see you again. I do not
know if you remember me but...."

His polite greeting was cut short as Rúmil strode into the room.

"Dara I need to talk to you outside now!" Rúmil really tried to control the
anger he felt at seeing another's hands on the elleth he loved but it was to
no avail. He had to know what was going on and he had to know this instant.

Dara narrowed her eyes at his commanding tone. Nevertheless she felt the
need to have a few choice words with him on his recent behavior. "I will
join you and I have a few things to say as well Rúmil."

Tirinvo helped Dara to her feet and Rúmil nearly growled when he thought the
healer's hands lingered too long on her arms. He stalked out of the room and
slammed the door. Dara looked apologetically at her new friend and then
limped out to confront one of her oldest friends.

Tirinvo looked speculatively at the closed door. He had a pretty good idea
why the warden had acted thusly. It was evident to the observant elf that
Rúmil had feelings for his patient and he knew from talking to Dara that she
had no clue as to the regards of her best friend. She was painfully naive
where intimate relationships were concerned. It would have been easy to see
Dara's charms if one took the time to get to know her. Tirinvo privately
admitted to himself that he was somewhat interested as well. He did not
pursue the matter for it would damage the trust he had built to allow him to
treat her. The previous head healer Ervadhor had not made his job easy. His
atrocious bedside manner and brusque approach had made Dara an uncooperative
patient at first. So Tirinvo had taken the time to get to know her before
beginning treatment. To step beyond the realm of propriety would undo all he
had accomplished. He sat in the bedside chair and waited for the fallout
from the coming argument. Most likely he would have to calm Dara so they
could continue her therapy. He sighed as he could hear the first shouts
through the closed door.


Dara caught up with Rúmil halfway down the hallway near a bank of large
windows. He stood silhouetted in a patch of sunlight with his arms crossed
over his chest and a dour expression on his face.

"Just why did you have to drag me out into the hallway Rúmil? If this is the
way I am to be treated whenever you come to visit perhaps you should not
bother!" Dara was heartily upset over his behavior and felt no qualms
letting him know. If it took a raised voice to get through that thick skull
of his then so be it.

"Why did that elf have his hands all over you? For Valar's sake Dara your
skirts were hiked up nearly to your hips! Since when did you start wearing a
dress? You have changed much I scarcely recognized you and I do not like these changes. Are you now
throwing yourself at Tirinvo out of gratitude?"

Rúmil could not seem to reign in his tongue. All of his frustrations over
the last month and seeing Dara laughing with that healer just fueled his
ire.

Dara got right in his face, eyes blazing and spat back. "That elf as you
call him is a healer and my friend. You have forgotten it seems just what it
means to be a friend. He has helped me, I am getting better. You have no
right to come in here and accuse me! I choose to wear skirts because it
makes it easier to treat my wound. Tirinvo had his hands on my leg massaging
the muscles not whatever your lurid fantasies conjured up!"

"Now wait just a minute!" Rúmil began

"No I am fed up with waiting for you to come to your senses! You have been
acting strange since you brought me back here. I am sick of it! You pick
fights and now you are attacking the one person here who has been able to
help me. There is nothing going on between us Rúmil. Tirinvo is doing his
job and I am grateful. I do not understand why you are treating me like
this." Dara stiffened as he grabbed her upper arms.

"You are right you don't understand. You have no idea what you have put me
through. I am tired of talking. I am tired of trying to control what I feel.
You want answers? Here is your answer!"

Rúmil backed her up against the wall and slammed his mouth down upon hers.
The kiss was meant to punish, to show her of his frustration. Instead it
ignited his desire. He groaned into her mouth and slanted his head to allow
him to deepen the kiss. Dara was wide eyed with surprise and stunned into
immobility and her involuntary gasp of surprise allowed him access into
her mouth. She had never ever been kissed like this and honestly did not
know what to do.

Rúmil let go of her arms and cupped her face in his hands. His lithe
muscular body was pressed up against hers and she was very aware of the
contact. New and confusing sensations bombarded her and it did not occur to
Dara to push him away. She could have easily hurt him badly had she been
thinking rationally.

At the first brush of his tongue against hers Dara moaned in protest and
tried to pull away from where he had her pinioned to the wall. That small
noise and her halfhearted struggle was enough to catapult Rúmil back to his
senses. He looked into her eyes and could see fear there mingling with other
emotions he could not identify. Horrified at what he had done he let go of
her and backed away.

Rúmil had not meant for their first kiss to happen this way or at all. She
looked at him with scared confusion and it tore a hole in his heart. He
turned and nearly ran out of the room.

If Dara had not been leaning against the wall she would have fallen. So
great was her surprise it took her long moments to regain her wits. She was
breathing as though she had just run a race and her heart was pounding
furiously. Dara's lips ached and she could still feel the warmth of his body
where it had molded itself to her. She raised a shaking hand to her face and
felt the heat radiating from her flushed cheeks.

Dara did not know what to think. This was Rúmil, her oldest friend, her
confidant. He was like a brother to her. Dara chose to do the only thing she
could think of, to forget about the incident as if it had never happened.
Slowly she made her way back to her room and entered the door. Tirinvo stood
and helped Dara to the bed. He looked at her flushed face and bruised lips.

"Dara are you all right?" Tirinvo noted her confusion and did not like to
think that the warden had forced himself on her.

"I..I think so. Rúmil was yelling at me and I was yelling back. The next
thing I know he is kissing me. I did not know what to do. I still don't. He
is my friend.or at least he was. I am so confused. How could everything have
gone so wrong? I want my friend back I am not ready to deal with him any
other way. Please I wish to be alone." Dara sounded so dejected that he was
tempted to stay but decided that some time to think would be the best thing
for her.

"I will leave you in peace. If there is anything you require do not hesitate
to seek me out. I will have a supper tray sent in later." He smiled at her
and patted her shoulder then left Dara to the solitude she desired.

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Chapter name
Chapter 14
Created
18 Aug 2004
Last Edited
18 Aug 2004
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