Narn I Auros

Contest By Candlelight

Second Age 3194, Hrivë, Imladris

by Eonwë-(Valar)
05 September, 2023

"What do you --- Ouch!" Dinmir stuck the poked finger in her mouth. "What do you think you're doing?" The scowl was now for herself as well as for Auros as she used the needle in her other hand to point to a small stack of coins sitting next to a small basket and a folded cloak.

"This? Its my cloak. You told me to leave it here and you'd get to it when you could."

Auros knew full well she wasn't talking about his cloak. Still, she smirked at the familiar dissemblance. "Try again."

"This? A basket of blueberries." Even when he kept his face straight he couldn't always hide that gleam of amusement in his eyes.

Dinmir looked back down at the pants she was sewing. She knew it was blueberries. She could smell them over her beeswax candles. The soothing scent of honey helped her concentrate on her more intricate works. "Auros, if I have to tell you one more time your gold is no good in my shop, I'm... I'm just going to stop accepting work from you."

"No you won't." Despite Auros having his back to her, she could feel him grinning.

A chuckle escaped as she nearly put the needle into her finger again. "Fine, I guess that's not a good enough threat anyway. So are you going to tell me who put this hole in your cloak? This is the third time you've brought it in for repairs, and the hole looks big enough for a lance."

Auros' voice came from a different part of the room now. "What makes you think it was a someone? Maybe I caught it on something."

Dinmir grinned as she threaded the needle once more. "So it was Curulin then. I saw you two heading to the sparring grounds earlier today."

"Cheater." Auros was in a particularly jovial mood. She could hear it in his voice. "Have you seen Arandil lately?"

Her heart skipped a beat at the mention of Arandil. "No. I would imagine like all of us his duties keep him busy. Why?" Should I be expecting a visit?

"Just curious."

"So what's got you so chipper today?" She tried not to sound too disappointed.

"What do you mean?"

"Come now Auros, who do you think you're talking to?"

"Hmm. Nothing I intend to discuss right now."

More familiar, amusing words. "Fine, keep your secrets." Dinmir blinked and rubbed her eyes. Something was different. Something in the room had changed. She could feel it, she just couldn't tell what it was. Auros was at it again. There was no point in asking him. This was his game. She was going to have to figure it out on her own. The rustle of clothes let Dinmir know he'd found his way back to the table where'd he'd left his cloak. And blueberries. And money. "So when do you need it?"

"I'm not going to rush you. Take care of your real customers first."

She set the pants down and thrust the needle into its cushion. "That's not what I asked, Auros. When do you need it?"

A furrow formed on Auros' brow as his fingers traced across the cloak. Dinmir fought the grin that wanted to emerge. It would seem he'd at last noticed her own gambit.

This new game of his was more subtle... and more fun. It had taken her some time to catch on so she wasn't sure when it began. After all this time it seemed he could still catch her by surprise. It had started so small, such tiny little things. She'd notice a candle she thought she'd burned away was full on the sconce. Spools of thread she thought she'd left scattered on the table found themselves in their proper place when she turned her back. Sewing needles she was sure she'd bent on thick cloth were as good as new the next day. When she realized these "happenstances" coincided with a visit from Auros --- and not always under the guise of a clothing repair, fortunately --- she knew something was amiss.

The first time she almost caught him, she saw the smirk on his face before he could erase it and pretend nothing had happened. That's when she realized part of the game was not getting caught. She couldn't mention it even to thank him. The covert nature kept the gestures from being too grandiose, but took such an attention to detail. She couldn't thank him, but that didn't mean she couldn't join the game. So join she did, and that just made things more interesting.

Now he'd done something to her shop again... well, for her shop was probably a better way to put it. She wasn't sure what it was yet, but he in turn just realized that Dinmir had been embroidering the hem of his cloak. Just wait until he notices the pattern. This time ought to finish the whole thing. She could see why Auros enjoyed this game.

"So how long do I have for your cloak?"

Auros looked as if he'd been lost in thought. He was no doubt plotting his next move. "Four days?"

Dinmir smirked. "Is that a question or a statement?"

A smirk formed on Auros' face in response. "Four days."

"It'll be ready in three."


"Of course."

"Oh, have you seen Aldawë today?"

"We had lunch together, yes. Why?"

"He's been trying to figure out how the brass buttons of his shirt turned to silver."

Dinmir glared at her work so Auros wouldn't see her grin. She'd done that to her brother's shirt weeks ago and he'd just now noticed. "How odd. I'm sure he must be mistaken. Those buttons were always silver. I'm sure of it." Those buttons just weren't always on that shirt.

"I thought as much. I only mention it because Aldawë saw my cloak and knew I would be coming by, so he asked me to see what I could find out."

"That's fair enough. Speaking of which, Malril asked me if I noticed anything different about the buckle of his baldric ---"

"I'm quite sure that buckle has been like that for as long as it's been a buckle."

Dinmir smirked. "I thought as much." While they'd finally realized there was a something afoot, it would seem neither Aldawë nor Malril understood the rules yet. She went back to her sewing as Auros tried to escape. "Aren't you forgetting something?" She aimed a stern glare up at him.

Auros returned to the table, picked up the coins, and wrapped his hand around the basket.

"You can leave those." Auros grinned and nodded. She knew the blueberries were out of season, and they probably cost him more than the coins he tried to pass off, but if she let on she knew, he'd bring a bigger basket when they were in season and she'd never get rid of the coins. Sometimes she had to let Auros have his victory so she could have hers.

The room was quiet again after Auros left, quiet enough to hear the flames dancing on the wicks. Three stitches remained and the pants would be finished, but those three stitches were going to wait. She set the pants on the table. Her eyes widened as she realized what was different: it was brighter. He'd managed the increase with such care that she'd thought she was imagining it, but now she was certain. She turned around. On the wall behind her, the wrought-iron sconces now had shiny surfaces behind the candle, adjusted to push light back towards the room.

"Auros strikes again."