Narn I Auros

Saying Goodbye

Second Age 3223, Early Tuilë, Imladris

by Eonwë-(Valar)
February 18th, 2024

"Excuse me? May I ask what you're doing in my shop?" It was much too early in the day for Dinmir to find someone rummaging through her things.

"I see the tea's still in the same place."

That voice. She knew that voice. "Muinassë?"

"Who else would know where to find the honey in this awful cacaphony you call a pantry?"

The familiar blend of stern with a hint of jovial sparked a grin. "Well, I learned if you want to protect a treasure, you don't leave it out in plain sight."

"Unless you can make it seem plain enough to be overlooked."

"Overlook honey? Impossible."

Muinassë crossed the floor to Dinmir, two cups of tea in her hand. "We need to talk."

Dinmir smelled the offered cup. With that much honey, it was Talking Tea all right. Who wouldn't enjoy honey in her tea? In reasonable portions, at least. How could Muinassë stand so much? She never added lemon, milk, or cream, just a hefty dose of honey. No matter the length of the conversation, Dinmir had never finished a cup of Talking Tea. Muinassë glided across the floor to the already-lit fire, where two chairs and a plate of cookies were waiting. After a desperate grasp for a lemon and some crackers, Dinmir followed suit.

While Dinmir squeezed a piece of lemon over her cup, Muinassë leaned back with a soft grin and pointed the pinky of her teacup-hand at the wall. "Those aren't my sconces."

"Yeah, it's... a bit of a story."

"And that's not my sign above the door."

"That's a related story." She was rather embarrassed how long it took her to catch that one, and she still wasn't sure who'd done it. All Dinmir was sure of was that it wasn't Auros: he'd outright said it wasn't him. Muinassë, fortunately, found the tales quite entertaining.

"I hope you won that game."

"I held my own." In her mind at least, she'd done better than "holding her own".

"Good. It's important to have people in your life who make you think."

"Indeed." Dinmir took a small sip of her tea. The lemon wasn't helping.

"What about the other game?" There was no way the cookie she just bit into could help with the sweetness from the honey.

"What other game?" Dinmir grimaced at the glare Muinassë shot over her teacup. "Oh, that game. I'm not sure there are any winners to be had." She took a bite of a cracker. The cracker didn't help.

"I see." How could the woman stand taking a big gulp of tea like that? "Have you given up then?"

"I don't see a winning move." Another sip. She had to keep herself from shuddering.

"Are you sure you two are even playing the same game?"

"I don't know anymore. I thought we were, but lately I'm convinced I'm playing chess and he's playing cards. I think he expects a high hand to beat my rook's castling."

Laughter rolled from Muinassë like she hadn't had a good reason for it in days. "And what game is your Rook playing?"

"I'm not sure he even knows there's a game going." Dinmir glowered into her cup and sighed. "I don't know how he's missed it, but what can I say when the other player won't say anything either?" Of all the things Aldawë could've been oblivious to, why did it have to be this?

"That is a tough one, no doubt about it."

"Enough about my woes. How was the adventure?"

A somber light appeared in the woman's eyes. "Still think it's an adventure, do you? To wander hostile lands, sometimes for months at a time, striving to pass unnoticed and unseen amongst a population unfriendly to you? To pass out of thought and knowledge of friend and foe alike, to be a shadow of a shadow, a rumour and hearsay, spoken of in whispers, all to glean a mere mote of knowledge that might not even prove useful set against the greater affairs of the world?" Muinassë shook her head. "It's dangerous, and it's lonely, but I'm suited to it. Still, it's nice to have somewhere to come back to. I'd almost forgotten what this was like."

Dinmir's ears perked up. Muinassë had never called her adventures lonely before. "I've never spoken of you in whispers, and you've never left my thoughts. I'm proud to be your student. I'm proud to know you."

Muinassë drained her cup. Dinmir's shudder at it brought a smile to her lips. "I've missed this. Of all my students, you've always been the most fun to talk to. I wish I could stay longer, but I really only came by to offer you an opportunity." She rose to her feet.

"Finally allowing me an adventure of my own?"

"If you must call it that, yes. I know of a place that needs a new tailor. You've done well, and it's time you make a name for yourself under your own sign; so don't forget to take that one with you and hang mine back up before you go. That's assuming you accept."

"Do you think I should accept?"

"Do you think you should accept?" The sharp tone and scowl forced Dinmir's eyes to the floor. "If you really wish to walk the path I've walked, this is where you'll start. I think you need to decide which things you'll fight for and which things you're willing to give up. I'm sorry Dinmir, you can't have it all; but if all you do is sit comfortably under my wing you'll never have any of it. Complacency is our worst enemy, and too many of us learn it too late." She pulled her cloak around her shoulders and put her hood up. "I'll be here two more days. You know where to find me. Enjoy the tea."

Dinmir scowled at the closing door. Of all the things she'd wanted in the last few weeks, a talk with her mother was at the top of her list. A quiet, peaceful, heart-to-heart in front of the fire, maybe even with a cup of tea that didn't make her balk at ever having honey in tea again. Alas, her mother had sailed West some years ago. What she was sure she didn't need was a lecture. Taking another sip from her cup, Dinmir grimaced and tossed its contents into the nearest plant. Muinassë was right, though.


Dinmir's shop had never felt so empty. Her shop. Hmph. Not really. It was Muinassë's shop. Her presense was always there, was always felt, as much as Dinmir had tried to make the place feel like her own. Once she'd been forced to think about it, she'd realized it was both comforting and stifling. All of her things sat on a wagon outside with Farothel and Auros at the reins, or at Aldawë's house waiting to follow with him in a few weeks.

Muinassë had left her shop in Dinmir's care. If nothing else since becoming her apprentice had made Dinmir feel the trust and confidence her mentor had in her, that would've done it. Dinmir would always be grateful for all she'd learned, and for the faith shown in her, but Muinassë was right. It was time she took a chance. She glanced at the fireplace, where sat an unlit log and a fresh candle to remind Muinassë someone was thinking of her.

"One last time: Are you sure about this?" Auros stood in her--the shop's--doorway, one of her cloaks draped on his arm. He was always the bulwark, always steadfast and resolute. How could she afford to let him see her waver now?

"Do you know of any reason I should stay Auros? Any at all?" She'd given her word. It was too late. No, it wasn't about being too late. It was about moving forward. She couldn't spend all her life waiting. Still, as she watched Auros clench his teeth in silence she felt bad about how she'd said it. They weren't annoyed with each other, they were annoyed with someone else. Auros couldn't say anything other than what he said. He wanted to, that much was obvious; but something, many things no doubt, held him back. Arandil's farewell, if it could be called that, had left much to be desired.

Dinmir had to keep herself from scowling. Auros didn't need to think she was scowling at him. She wanted to change the tone. These were the last moments where Imladris would be her home, and they should be a pleasant memory. "You know I didn't come to this decision lightly."


"So you know I'm going to be fine."

"I know you will be fine."

"I don't need to expect any surprises when I open my boxes in my new shop, do I?" She flashed a grin.

"Why, did you pack something up and forget?" Auros' smirk made her want to go rummage through her boxes just to be sure.

"It was a fun game." A wistful grin eased its way across her lips.

"Aye, until certain others joined in and it got out of hand. I suppose the fun had to end sometime." That was Auros, not pointing fingers, but she knew exactly which "others" he meant. Still, his tone sounded a little too final for Dinmir.

"It's not like you, Farothel, and Aldawë will never come to see me."

"Of course not."

His blessed quick response didn't give her a chance to feel the isolation inspired by those words. "And you're going to be helping me get set up. I've been given an opportunity for my own shop in a town that needs a new tailor. I'm needed there. It's a chance for a fresh start and a new experience."

Auros pushed it all down right before Dinmir's eyes: his annoyance, his concern, even the fact that he would miss her. Aldawë had said it. Farothel had said it. Her other friends had said it. Even Arandil had managed to sputter something out that sounded like it. Auros hadn't said it. He still wouldn't. Once he'd seen her mind was set, he'd decided what she needed was someone to reflect her resolve, so he replaced all he'd pushed down with a confident grin. He was going to see her off in the best way he could. "Then we should be on our way."

The soft fur lining of the cloak brushed her arms as Auros cast it around her shoulders. She'd seen his face enough times in the past when events had "just so happened" to bring her and Arandil together, or to remind her of him, to know what it looked like when Auros was at work. The face she gazed upon had no plan underway; no attempt, subtle or overt, to bring Arandil to mind. He probably didn't even realize the fur had come from Arandil when he grabbed the cloak. This knight was done jumping between both sides of the board.

"What's wrong?" Concern shone in his eyes.

"Nothing. It's just harder than I thought to..."

"Close old doors and open new ones?"

"... Yes. I suppose that's what I'm doing, after all."

There was another confident grin from him. "You'll be fine. Come on. We can't have you late to your new post."

Dinmir pulled the cloak closer. "Yes, let's be off."