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Heart of a Warden

Chapter 15: Chapter 15

by aimless

AN: I am so sorry it so long to update. Ny muse died and when I sent for another one from
Instamuse they sent me Grima by mistake. It took forever to get him back in the box.

Heart of a Warden 15





Rúmil fled from the healing hall all the while berating himself for a fool.
How could he have lost his temper like that? He knew he had startled and
quite possibly frightened Dara with his abrupt kiss and now he was afraid he
had lost her friendship as well. With no thoughts to his promise of joining
Orophin for a drink he stalked off through the wood till he came to a spot
he had often fled to in the past. A stream tumbled over some largish rocks
and fed into a pool below a small waterfall. Rúmil sat on a flat topped rock
at the edge of the pool and tried to let the sound of the water soothe him.
He pulled his knees up and wrapped his arms around them and rested his chin
upon his knees and stared out over the water. The tranquil glade did little
to settle his thoughts. He should not have kissed her but the feel of his
lips on hers and the first tentative brush of her tongue against his had
pushed all reason from his mind. It was only when she had protested and
tried to pull away had reason returned. He thought he could control himself
around her. He thought he could just be friends. He was wrong. Rúmil would
be satisfied with nothing less than Dara as his life mate and lover. He just
had no idea what to do next. His mind kept circling back to the moment he
took her in his arms. The feel of her pressed against him was enough to
reawaken his desire which caused him to groan in frustration. While his mind
had been quite appalled by his impetuousness his body had been quite happy
with the situation.



~*~



Dara lay in bed staring at the ceiling. Her mind was unsettled and surprise
still mingled with shock at the actions of her best friend. Never in her
wildest imaginings did she think Rúmil felt that way about her. They had
been the closest of friends and other than that Warden that she punched for
kissing her Rúmil was the only other elf who had taken such a liberty. Rúmil's
kiss had been nothing like Amros's so many years ago. When Amros had
kissed her Dara felt nothing but intense dislike and a need to push the
drunken sot away from her. Rúmil's kiss had been fierce and wild and shocked
her to the core. When he had held her against the wall she had been aware of
every hard, lithe plane of his body as he leaned into her and placed his
mouth over hers. She just could not see him as anything other than a friend
but why did that make her unhappy? Why did his kiss awaken something in her
that she chose to ignore? Why did she wonder what it would be like if he did
it again? She was so afraid she had lost one of the best friends she had
ever had. Dara got little rest that night as her thoughts would grant her no
peace.



~*~





Rúmil's imaginings had left him in quite a state. He was aroused, angry and
frustrated. Thinking perhaps a swim in the cool water of the pool might calm
him somewhat he stripped off his clothes and waded into the water. He swam
the length of the pool, then back again. Rúmil kept up a relentless pace
hoping the physical exertion would drive thoughts of Dara out of his mind.
It did not take long for vigorous exercise to tire him out since it had been
a long ride from the border. He made his way to the edge of the pool and
looked up. Orophin was seated on the rock he had recently vacated and was
grinning at him. The water of the pool had the desired effect so when he
climbed out his body was more under his control even if his mind was not.
Rúmil paused to pull his leggings on over his wet skin and then sat beside
his brother.



"I thought I might find you here. When you did not show up for the drink you
promised me I went to the healing halls looking for you and ran into
Tirinvo. He told me you had a rather interesting encounter with Dara."
Orophin watched his brother squeeze the excess water from his silvery blond
hair and slick it back from his forehead.



"I ruined everything, I am sure Dara hates me. She cannot help but to
loathe me. Phin I forced myself on her. I was angry and jealous and could
not control myself. What did I ever do to deserve this heartache?" Rúmil
placed the heels of his hands against his aching temples.



"She does not hate you Rúmil. You are her best friend and I would see you
happy." Orophin placed a companionable arm around his shoulder.



"I do not want to be her friend anymore. I want more. I cannot be around her
without wanting more than she is willing to give me. I should leave. Go back
to the border." Rúmil berated himself mercilessly.



"I knew you were many things brother but a coward was not among them. Until
now." Orophin snarled.



Stunned Rúmil lifted his head to look at his brother. "What? I am no
coward!"



"Oh really? What would you call running away then?" Orophin grinned so
smugly that Rúmil felt like wiping that expression off of his face for him.



"I am not running! Why stay for a hopeless situation that only causes me
grief?" His petulant response made his brother grin wider.



"Rúmil you are an idiot. How do you know it is hopeless? Did Dara slap you
when you kissed her?"



"Well no but....."



"Have you tried to win her affection? Or did you just stumble blindly along
and hope she would fall into your arms? Make her love you." Orophin almost
felt sorry for the lost look on his brother's face.



"How in the name of the Valar do I make her love me?"



"By showing her that you are more than just a warden, more than just her
friend. Perhaps the reason she has not taken a mate yet is that she is
waiting for someone she did not know she wanted. Perhaps that someone is
you." His declaration did not clear up the confusion he saw evident on Rúmil's
face.



"I ask again how do I do that?" Frustration was returning along with his
headache.



"Well you can hardly rectify the situation by ignoring her. In this case
absence does not make the heart grow fonder it just adds to the confusion.
Try and find out how she feels about the fact that you kissed her. Look, you
did your border rotation and do not have to go back to the fences till then
end of the season. Spend that time with Dara. Quit running and start
pursuing. Now, I believe there was the mention of a drink made earlier. I
happen to know that you have a very fine bottle of wine you borrowed from
Haldir. Why don't we go and open it and celebrate another return from the
borders with you in one piece." Orophin stood up and extended his hand.



Rúmil took the proffered hand and got to his feet and they walked
companionably back to his talan. The wine was opened and they settled
comfortably in two padded chairs with their feet propped up on the railing
looking out at the night dark forest. As the evening wore on they shared the
aforementioned wine and several bottles of cordial the Rúmil had picked up
at the last summer festival. Rúmil was content to brood and eventually
Orophin grew tired of wringing monosyllabic answers from him and bid his
brother goodnight. He blearily wandered back to his own talan. Rúmil sat
staring up at the stars contemplating what he should do next. Finding no
easy answers he went inside and lay down on his bed.



The room spun dizzily around him and Rúmil thought that perhaps it had not
been wise to drink as much as he had. The vast amount of alcohol had done
its job though and all the confusion he felt was muted to a bearable level.
He would worry about the consequences in the morning. He rolled over onto
his stomach and found oblivion in inebriated slumber.



~*~



Dara woke with the sun streaming in her window. Slowly she got out of bed.
Her leg was so stiff in the mornings that it took a bit of maneuvering for
it to support her weight. Dara limped over to the washstand and peered into
the small mirror. She was gratified to see that she no longer looked half
dead and the dark circles were gone from under her eyes. She washed in the
basin and plaited her hair. Dara got dressed and then looked at the simple
gown a bit ruefully. It was not something she ever imagined she would wear
on a regular basis. At first Dara had insisted on donning her old clothing
but the leather leggings were initially uncomfortable on her injured leg.
Plus the therapy for the injury had to be done several times a day so she
would regain a lot of her former mobility made wearing leggings
inconvenient.



Dara did not want to face Tirinvo this morning. She needed some time alone
to think. She wanted to be out of the healing hall by the time he showed up
for her morning session. The night had passed slowly and it had been hard to
sleep. She went from being angry to confused then back to angry. Why did
Rúmil have to kiss her? Dara was content with their friendship the way it
was. Why did he have to ruin things? She had to get out of the healing halls
for a while. She found the room depressing and stifling. Dara was irritable
from lack of sleep and Rúmil's actions the day before. She grabbed her
walking stick and hobbled out of the building and into the wood. Even that
did not bring her the peace it had in the past. Dara did not consciously
head in a particular direction and was surprised when the ring of steel on
steel caught her attention. She was near the practice grounds. A place she
had studiously avoided since her disastrous sparring match. Still she could
not resist approaching and lingering at the edge of the field to watch the
wardens and recruits being put through the paces. Dara watched with a kind
of melancholy that could not be assuaged. While she was assured by Tirinvo
that her recovery was progressing better than could be expected she knew
that she would never recover enough to resume the arduous duties of a border
warden. Indulging in a bout of self pity Dara mourned for what she had lost.
After watching the elven warriors for a while some of her old resolve crept
to the surface. Dara mentally berated herself for sulking about something
over which she had no control. Making a decision Dara limped to the building
where the weapons were stored. She grabbed a bow and quiver and made her way
to one of the most remote targets on the field. She was less likely to be
disturbed way out here. This was exactly what she wanted.



Dara strung the bow and looked at it critically. It was a decent bow as
practice bows went but nowhere near as fine as the one that had been gifted
to her when she became a warden. She had not the heart to touch it after her
injury and subsequent illness. This was the first time she had touched a
weapon since that day months ago. Dara smoothly nocked an arrow and paused a
second and then let it fly. It hit the target with a satisfying thunk near
the center of the painted circle. This simple action brought Dara some
measure of peace. She fit and released another arrow and it landed much like
the first. Over and over she repeated this exercise till the quiver was
empty. Dara limped over and retrieved her arrows from the target and
returned to her starting point and let them fly again. She did this well
into the afternoon till the muscles in her arms burned and sweat rolled off
her face. Her leg ached terribly from the stance she was in but she did not
want to stop. This exercise allowed her to disconnect from her surroundings
and concentrate only on the target before her.



Dara reached back for another arrow and found her quiver empty again. With a
sigh she lowered her aching arm and prepared to limp back out to the target.
With each trip the distance seemed to grow further and further. She was
totally unprepared when a hand landed on her shoulder. She let out an
undignified shriek and spun around dropping her bow. Dara's traitorous knee
chose at that moment to buckle and she would have fallen if strong arms had
not caught her and held her upright.



"Orophin you nearly scared the life out of me. If there had been a blade in
my hand I might have skewered you." Dara frowned at him embarrassed that her
leg had betrayed her again.



"You have yet to best me with a sword so I think I would have been quite
safe." Orophin smiled at the scowl on her face. He had been subjected to her
many moods in the past and her anger did not phase him a bit.



"Well there is little chance of that now! Let me go!" Dara began to
struggle.



Orophin grimaced at his unwitting reminder of what she had lost. He set Dara
on her feet and stepped back a bit. "I am sorry. I meant no harm."



Dara limped over to a bench and sat down heavily. She massaged her aching
thigh and gritted her teeth till the muscle spasm eased a bit, then sighed.
"It is not your fault Phin. I am out of sorts and feeling sorry for myself."



"Your leg, does it still pain you greatly?" He asked concerned. Orophin sat
down on the bench beside her and wished she had never been hurt.



"Yes some days I fear it will never stop hurting. I hate taking the pain
draughts they leave me dizzy and nauseous. Tirinvo has helped me a lot
though. I do not know what I would do if he were not here." Dara sighed as
the cramp eased. She leaned back against Orophin and laid her head on his
shoulder. It was on rare occasions that she allowed herself the luxury of
leaning on others but she felt so adrift and needed the contact.



"So you like Tirinvo?" Orophin dreaded her answer but felt he needed to ask.
The young healer was an attractive elf and spent a lot of time with the
warden for companionship as well as to treat her wounds.



"Of course I like him. Why wouldn't I? After all he did not run off to the
border like a certain elf who shall go unnamed. Tirinvo is gentle and sweet
and he makes me laugh." Dara replied without thinking.



With every word she said Orophin's heart sank a little deeper. She had
feelings for the healer who was taking care of her. What would he tell
Rúmil? "Dara are you sure? I mean you never showed much interest before and
now all of a sudden you like this healer. "



"Phin what are you babbling about?" Dara was getting irritated at his
disapproving expression and odd questions.



"Do you love Tirinvo?" He asked bluntly.



"Love him? What are you talking about? I like Tirinvo he is my friend. That
is all." Dara rolled her eyes. Orophin was acting weird and she wished she
could figure out why.



"Well that is a relief. I mean it is good you are making friends. So
anything interesting happen lately?" He asked nonchalantly.



"No not really. I have my therapy every day. I am bored out of my mind. I
want my life back. The usual. Oh and Rúmil got mad and kissed me. Does he
normally go around kissing those that he is mad at?" Dara tried to ask the
question as innocently as possible.



"So why do you think he kissed you?" At last she brought up the subject he
had been dying to talk about since he found her out here.



"I honestly do not know. He has been acting so on edge since he brought me
back from the border. We have fought before and made up but it has never
been like this. I mean I have seen him kiss other elleth and he seemed so
gentle and careful with them. He was so angry with me. His kiss was to teach
me a lesson I think, like he was punishing me." Dara bowed her head and
rubbed at the sore muscles in her shoulder.



"Here sit up a bit." Dara did as he asked and Orophin turned sideways on the
bench and placed his hands on her aching shoulders. He began to knead the
taut muscles to try and relieve some of the tension.



Dara stiffened up when she felt his hands on her shoulders. "Phin I am fine
honestly. You do not have to do that."



"Relax Dara do not worry so. It is not as if I was going to try and kiss you
or anything. This is just a simple massage between friends." He waited until
he felt her relent and then began seeking out every knot and kink.



Dara had to admit his hands felt good and she had way overdone it with the
bow today. Her fingers were raw along with her aching leg and burning neck
and arms. She also wondered what it would feel like if he did kiss her.
Would it feel the same as when Rúmil had done it?



~*~*~*~*~*~



Earlier that day the sun shining in the window of another talan only served
to irritate the occupant. He rolled over with a groan and peered blearily
about the room. It had to be after noon sometime. Otherwise the sun would
not be lighting up his room with intolerable brightness. Unable to get back
to sleep Rúmil sat up and wished he had not. His head ached fiercely and his
stomach roiled. He placed his aching head in his hands and waited for the
room to quit spinning. Why in the name of the Valar had he drunk so much
last night? It felt as if Dwarves with mallets were trying to mine their way
out of his head. Rúmil staggered to his feet and held onto the wall for
support. He made his way into the bathing room and poured the entire
contents of a pitcher of water on his head. Some of the bleariness cleared
away and he groaned as he went to the medical kit to get a powder for his
headache. Rúmil irritably pawed through the box, spilling half the contents
before locating the packets of dried willow bark. He added the contents to a
cup of water and drank the bitter tonic. It was sheer force of will that
kept it in his stomach.



Rúmil stumbled back into the bedroom and fell into bed. It was not till a
few hours later that he felt well enough to move. The headache had subsided
to a barely manageable level and his sour stomach demanded he put something
in it. He got up again and ran his fingers through his slightly damp tangled
hair. He went to the larder and pulled out a half loaf of bread and a wedge
of cheese. Carefully he took an experimental bite and when that stayed down
he began to eat with more enthusiasm.



He wanted to find Orophin and apologize for being such a poor host last
night. Then suggest they have dinner together. Haldir was a fair cook and
they knew that if they descended on Haldir's talan at suppertime extra
plates would be set out for them. Rúmil grabbed a clean pair of leggings and
a not too rumpled tunic and hastily braided his hair. He located his boots
and pulled them on. His head still ached and he had to lean against the wall
so he would not overbalance and fall to the floor. He knew he looked like
death warmed over but took no care with his appearance. He honestly did not
feel like impressing anyone today, least of all Dara.



Rúmil knew his brother would most likely be at the practice ranges so
squinting at the bright sunlight he left his talan and headed off to find
his brother. He stopped to watch the sparring recruits and winced when he
saw one youth take a hard hit to his sloppily unprotected side. Haldir did
not baby his recruits and he helped the young elf up, corrected his stance
and came at him again. It was always a pleasure to watch the March warden in
action. Rúmil was proud of his brother. He had been the youngest warden ever
inducted and had steadily risen through the ranks to attain the title of
Captain. The youngest of the Lorien brothers watched the match and after
Haldir sent the lad off to work with one of his classmates did he turn to
his brother.



"Rúmil I am happy to see you. I gather your stint on the border was
uneventful?" Haldir hugged his baby brother and was glad that he was home
safely.



"Very, it was so quiet I had plenty of time to sit and watch the trees
grow." Rúmil slung an arm over Haldir's shoulder and they walked to one of
the benches that ringed the field and sat down.



"So have you seen Dara? She is making a very satisfactory recovery under
Tirinvo's care. He is a very skilled healer." Haldir took a long drink from
a nearby water flask and waited for Rúmil to answer. Dara was the reason for
his month long absence from Lorien and Haldir wanted to know if the distance
had dampened his brother's attraction to the warden.



"Yes I saw her yesterday. It was a disaster." Rúmil said miserably.



"What happened now?" Haldir was getting a bit exasperated at the whole mess.



"I walked in to see her and that healer was with her. She was laughing and
talking and wearing a pretty dress. Her hair looked different too. Softer
somehow. Tirinvo had his hand on her knee. I lost it Haldir, I got jealous."
Rúmil closed his eyes at the memory.

"Rúmil what did you do? Nothing foolish I hope?" Haldir sighed and did not
look forward to the answer.



"I yelled and made her come out into the hallway. We yelled some more and.."
Rúmil hesitated.



"And what?" Haldir's impatience was starting to get the better of him. Only
his brothers had the power to vex him like this.



"And I kissed her. I was angry and I slammed my mouth onto hers like she was
a possession I had to have. The only other kiss she had ever had was with
Amros. I treated her no better than that drunken sot. I ruined everything."



Haldir saw how unhappy his brother was and he could almost dislike the
elleth who he had acted as a mentor to for what she was doing to his
sibling. It was not her fault though and Haldir knew that the blame could
not be thrust upon her shoulders. "What did Dara do when you kissed her?"



"She was shocked and hurt I guess. I do not know I left before she said
anything. I really messed things up. I should not have forced myself on her
but I could not help it. The sight of her with another elf made my blood
boil. I could not think straight." Rúmil stood up and began to pace.



"What are you going to do now?" Haldir asked.



"I have no clue. After I left I met up with Phin and we went back to my
talan and had some wine. I drank myself into a stupor and went to bed. Phin
said he would help me figure things out. I need to find him. He was supposed
to be here." Rúmil scanned the training grounds searching for his brother.



"I saw him head towards the far archery targets. You might try there. Rúmil
you have to resolve this one way or another. You cannot go on as you have.
You are miserable." Haldir stood up and faced his young sibling.



"I know Haldir I just do not know how." Rúmil clasped his brother in a
fierce hug and Haldir wished he could help him. He was at a total loss as to
what to do and he did not like that feeling at all.



Rúmil pulled away and smiled. "Thank you for being here for me. I need to
find Phin. We will be over for dinner tonight."



Haldir nodded and watched Rúmil walk away his shoulders in an
uncharacteristic slump. Then the Captain of the guard rejoined his recruits.







~*~*~*~*~*~*~



Orophin's hands ceased their massage and with a sigh of regret Dara turned
to face him. "You never really answered my question Dara. How did Rúmil
kissing you make you feel?"



She thought a moment and tried her best to answer. "It made me feel scared
and confused and warm all at the same time. I did not want him to do it..and
yet I had never felt anything like it. Amros' kiss made me want to hit him.
It was repulsive but I did not like Amros anyway. Maybe kisses between
friends are different." Dara looked at Orophin quizzically.



Orophin did not like the way Dara was studying him and knew he would not
like what she had to say next. "Dara what is it? Why are you staring at me
so?"



Dara licked her lips nervously. "Phin will you....will you kiss me?"



Orophin scooted back in surprise and got up. "What? Dara I cannot. You are
not mine to kiss."



Dara too stood up and began to get angry. "Not yours to kiss? Just what is
that supposed to mean? I am not a thing to be owned. Am I so hideous that
you could never envision kissing me? Do I repulse you?"



"Dara no never. You are one of my dearest friends. I would never hurt you."
Orophin stepped closer to her and placed his hands on her shoulders. "You
are beautiful and strong but you are just my friend." He could see the hurt
and confusion in her eyes.



"I want to see if I feel the same when you kiss me as I felt when Rúmil did
it. As a friend. Please? I need to know." Dara beseeched him.



Orophin could not stand the uncertainty he saw on her face and he did not
have the strength to deny her request. "All right." He whispered. He placed
his thumbs beneath her jaw and tilted her head.



Dara closed her eyes and jumped slightly as she felt the first brush of his
lips on hers. Orophin deepened the kiss as he leaned closer. His kiss was
nice but she did not feel the tingling warmth and utter confusion that was
present when Rúmil had slammed his lips down onto hers. Orophin's kiss felt
comfortable and friendly. Dara was relieved that his kiss was different from
Rúmil's. It made her want to find Rúmil and let him kiss her to see if it
generated the same muddle of feelings that the first time had.



~*~*~*~*~*~



Rúmil walked out to the far ranges and followed the sound of muted
conversation. He came through the bushes and upon a sight that made him reel
with disbelief and his blood run cold. There was his brother holding his
beloved and kissing her. Even more stunning was Dara. She was not resisting
at all. Anger flooded him like a wave and before rational thought could
assert itself he ran into the clearing and grabbed his traitorous brother
and spun him around. Orophin looked at the hatred on his sibling's face in
shock. Rúmil drew back his fist and hit Orophin squarely in the jaw knocking
him to the ground stunned.



Dara looked on in horror. Then Rúmil began to yell.



"How dare you! You are my brother! You knew how I felt about Dara! You knew
I loved her! Did that mean nothing to you? Were you waiting for your chance
hoping that I would fail to win her affection? Or were you seeing her all
along laughing at me behind my back? Well brother dear you can have her! I
am through with the both of you! I want to see neither of you ever again!"
Rúmil's heart had cracked in two and his words tasted like ashes in his
mouth. He turned and ran off into the wood knowing that try as he might he
could not outrun his pain.



Orophin looked ill. He was shocked by what had happened. "Oh Valar what have
I done." Was all he could think to say.



Rúmil loves me? Dara thought incredulously. How could I have been so stupid?
She wondered. She did not know how she felt about his admission of love but
she did know he was hurting terribly. She had to find him. Dara took several
steps out of the clearing and her leg trembled with another spasm. There was
no way she could catch him. What was she going to do?



Haldir strode into the clearing after hearing his brother shouting. He took
in the scene before him. Orophin lay upon the ground with a livid red mark
on his jaw and a split lip that was dribbling blood upon his tunic he looked
ill and in shock. Dara was a short distance away on the verge of tears and
trembling.



"Just what in the name of the gods happened here?" He shouted for an
explanation.



Dara's gaze latched onto Haldir with relief. She could tell him what
happened and he could find Rúmil. Haldir was unmatched in his tracking
ability and she was sure he could find his youngest brother and explain what
happened. She limped over to Haldir and grabbed his tunic in her hands. He
could help straighten everything out. At least she hoped he could.

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Chapter 15
Created
13 Nov 2004
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13 Nov 2004
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