12. Of Deductions and Decisions
"Will you stay with him, Estel?"
"Someone has to and I would prefer it to be me. I want to talk to him for a while."
Elladan nodded thoughtfully. "I do not think I need to tell you not to tire him out."
"Do not fret, I know what to do. I have been taught well, remember?" answered Aragorn. "Can you please do me a favour though? The forgery will have to be repaired but I cannot supervise the workers while I am here."
"You did not have to ask," said Elladan. "Gimli has already offered his craftsmanship skills, and the rest of us are going to help him. As for the preparations for the banquet," he continued on before Aragorn had the chance to speak, "Father and Arwen will take care of everything. Even Éomer and Lothíriel offered to help."
Aragorn couldn't help but smile. "Thank you."
Elladan smiled back for a moment; then he motioned his head toward Daurir, who was lying on his bed several feet away from them. "I only hope you will be able to get through to him. The shock was great and the herbs can do that much," he said solemnly.
"I will do all that I can," Aragorn assured him.
"I know you will." And with that, Elladan walked out.
Sighing a bit and aware that he was faced with a difficult task, Aragorn walked up to Daurir's side and sat on a chair nearby. The shorthaired Elf had curled into a ball again and was hugging himself, yet his eyes were locked on Aragorn, watching his every move.
"Are you feeling better now?"
Daurir only shrugged a bit.
"It was a brave thing, what you tried to do. It also set me thinking."
Daurir raised an eyebrow in disbelief, but Aragorn chose to ignore it for the present. He planned to speak his mind and Daurir's defences would not stop him.
"You see, I thought of it strange that you were willing to help Arwen, but I reasoned that she was your kin and so more worthy of trust into your eyes. And when Arwen told me of the girl you looked after all this time since your captivity, I believed that you simply understood her pain, being a former slave yourself. Just an hour ago, however, you were ready to save a Man, risking your very life. Not to mention the fact you had your chance to escape today, yet I was told that you simply roamed around the place. How is that possible?"
Daurir's eyes flashed with anger and he rolled on his other side, turning his back on Aragorn.
"You lost your voice, not your hearing; so you will listen to what I have to say," Aragorn said, trying not to sound too harsh. "Arwen told me you were simply not blinded by your hate to think everyone was to blame for what happened to you. But now I know there is more to it." Yes, Aragorn knew. Elrond tried to tell him before, yet only now he could understand. "You still believe there is good in this world and that it is worth fighting for it. You are still a warrior above all else." Aragorn cursed mentally for not being able to see Daurir's expression. "Your captors tried to take that from you. They tried to take away your humanity, your honour and your kindness, but you never let them. You buried those feelings inside and kept them safe until you would be free again."
Aragorn paused, hoping that he could get a reaction from Daurir this time. It was to no avail. So, he breathed deeply as though ready to take the big plunge in the truth he was about to utter. "There lied the problem though. When you were finally free, you were too afraid to reclaim them. The world seemed too hostile and you did not wish to show anything that could be regarded as weakness."
Only then did Daurir turn to face Aragorn, piercing him with his glare and making his thought clear for the Man to see. Are you calling me a coward?
"No… Pained," Aragorn answered, his heart wrenching in compassion as the dark eyes locked on his. "You are afraid to die, that much is obvious; yet you are also afraid to live. It is true you will not get hurt by others again in this way, but it aches you the more that you are alone. Especially after your nephew, apparently the last member of your family, died." He watched Daurir's face slowly changing as the hard features of anger ebbed away to be replaced by those of a frightened child. Arwen was right; Daurir was young. He softened his voice. "Yes, I was told of that too." Before realising what he was doing, he had placed his hand over Daurir's. "My offer stands. You can stay here for as long as you like and perhaps look upon Minas Tirith as your home one day."
Daurir didn't do anything for a couple of moments; then locked his gaze on Aragorn's, almost piercing him.
The Man looked at the Elf, dumbfounded at what he saw the lips mouthing.
"What do you mean?"
Daurir took out from his shirt a piece of paper from his shirt and then looked around, biting his lower lip in frustration. Aragorn understood. Calling out to one of the healers, he asked for a pen and some ink, which was handed to him at once; then gave it in turn to Daurir.
Why do you want me to stay? What service am I to offer to your city? I can only think that you wish me to become a soldier under your command, yet that is the one thing I cannot do for you. I had enough of fighting and I only desire some peace.
Aragorn read the message and put the piece of paper down.
"Making you a soldier was the last thing in my mind."
Daurir's eyes widened at this, and they only widened even more when Aragorn nodded, confirming his words.
"I like to think that you have been in Rhûn long enough to know some important things concerning that realm, such as what has been its political and social situation since I had last been there. The fact that there has been illegal slavery in spite of the treaty I had these people sign, though it surprised me little, it is still disconcerting. It proved to me that there is either not much political force to ensure the treaty is put to use or either enough to oppose it, something that has to be corrected. I want you to be my advisor in such matters in the months that will follow."
Daurir remained staring at Aragorn for many long moments; until, all of a sudden it would seem, he grabbed Aragorn's hand and kissed it respectfully. A genuine smile brightened his features, something that made Aragorn's gape with surprise. Daurir clearly understood something was amiss, for his face etched with worry and quickly wrote again on the piece of paper.
If I have done something wrong, I apologise. I was simply gladdened by such an honourable offer which I accept full heartedly.
Aragorn shook his head, smiling.
"You did nothing wrong. It is just that..." he hesitated. Would Daurir understand him or would he consider him mad? "For a moment, the way you smiled reminded me of someone – a friend."
Daurir's face only betrayed curiosity, something that encouraged Aragorn to speak his mind.
"I do not know why I would make such a thought. Perhaps because, whenever I look into your eyes, I see part of his strength in you."
At such words, Daurir shook sadly his head.
Then kindly take a closer look next time, for I do not think there is such a thing within me.
Aragorn smiled kindly and, before realising it, he had clasped his hand on Daurir's shoulders, a gesture that the short-haired Elf didn't mind this time.
"You endured everything to protect your nephew at all costs. That makes you strong in my book."
Daurir lowered his gaze mournfully. He still died.
"You kept him alive long enough to taste freedom again, even if only for so little. What better comfort could you possibly offer him?"
It was already little and it became even less.
"What do you mean?" asked Aragorn, not understanding what Daurir wrote.
But Daurir couldn't bring himself to answer. Merely sighing, he arose and walked towards the window. He remained looking outside in silence while all Aragorn could do was watch him, bewildered, hoping that Daurir would make things clearer to him. In the end, however, Aragorn was forced to shake his head in defeat.
It was then that he saw it: the tray of food, still on the nightstand, forgotten. He turned and looked agape at the Elven form. He didn't eat anything?
"How can you still stand on your feet?" he exclaimed before he could help himself.
Daurir turned, surprised, and his eyes caught sight of the tray and Aragorn's shocked face. He shrugged, then shook his head and made a gesture at his stomach. I am not hungry.
That was something that Aragorn found unacceptable.
"This will not do and you know it! The Elven race is strong, but it can only withstand that much. When was the last time you have eaten properly? Answer truthfully!"
Daurir frowned and didn't attempt to answer anything. Aragorn thought at first that the Elf was merely getting cross with him, but he soon realised what was the problem.
"You do not remember."
Daurir bowed his head. That was enough answer.
"Very well," said Aragorn, rolling up his sleeves. "You will eat everything that is on this tray!"
Daurir looked incredulously at Aragorn, who had grabbed the soup-filled plate and the spoon near it.
"Take it," he said, "and start eating."
Daurir was certainly getting cross now. He glowered at Aragorn and mouthed clearly: I do not need a nursemaid!
"Then take the spoon and the bowl, otherwise I will feed you like I was truly one!" answered Aragorn, his glare matching Daurir's.
All Daurir did, however, was stare back, and both Elf and Man remained like this for many long moments, their wills contesting. Suddenly the least expected thing happened: Daurir stifled a grin and shook his head. Before Aragorn could understand what the meaning of this was, Daurir had taken the bowl from his grasp and sat by the table. Aragorn finally understood.
"Our argument was ridiculous, was it not?" he said, his lips tugging to a smile.
The Elf nodded, answering with a smile of his own; then snapped together his fingers and pointed at the paper and the pen. Guessing that Daurir meant to write something, Aragorn quickly placed everything near the Elf and waited.
This time it was *you* who reminded me of a friend. You are as stubborn as he was.
"I take that as a compliment," said Aragorn with a grin.
Daurir made a face that clearly meant "Of course you do", and then ate a spoonful of soup. The moment he tasted it, his eyes half-closed dreamily and he quickly had a second spoonful. In a matter of minutes, the soup had disappeared into Daurir's stomach, and Aragorn grinned broadly as Daurir accidentally let out a sonorous belch. The Elf's face turned red at once and he hid himself in his hands in embarrassment.
That undid Aragorn. Before he could help it, he started laughing loud and clear – something that only made Daurir's face even redder.
"I am sorry," Aragorn said, after finally he was able to control somewhat his mirth. "It was unexpected, especially from an Elf." He sighed a bit and looked at Daurir kindly. "I take it you were hungrier than you believed then?"
Daurir nodded, always crimson-faced; then accepted the fruit Aragorn offered him. Soon enough, they were consumed as well, and Daurir bowed his head slightly, thus signing his thanks to the Man.
"You are welcome," answered Aragorn with a grin.
Yet his humour died down when Daurir tried to put the bowl back onto the tray and dropped it, hissing in dismay - the Elf had tried to put it back into their place using his injured arm.
"You should not have done that," Aragorn said at once, picking up the bowl. "Though your wound did not open again when you tried to save Hundor, the muscles still suffered badly. Use only your right arm for any tasks for a couple of days if you can help it."
Daurir nodded slightly his understanding and mouthed, "My apologies."
"It is quite all right."
Yet it turned out that Daurir wasn't apologising merely for the bowl. Writing swiftly on the piece of paper, he gave it to Aragorn to read.
I heard you and Elladan talking. You are the king of Minas Tirith and yet you are here instead of looking after far more important matters.
"Since we both know that it is no mere illness that ails you, looking after you is also an important matter to me," reasoned Aragorn.
It should still not outweigh the needs of your people.
"My people will understand when they learn that I see to the welfare of the Elf that delivered their Queen safely back to Minas Tirith; not to mention and almost injured himself in his attempt to save a blacksmith from a blazing fire."
Surprisingly, Daurir's eyes widened. Blacksmith? He scribbled hastily.
Aragorn nodded, though he was still puzzled by that sudden interest. "Yes, Hundor is a blacksmith; one of the finest ones, in fact. Unfortunately, his age doesn't permit him to carry on with this line of work; it needs much strength which he doesn't have anymore. I will have to ask him if he can think of anyone in the City that can replace him." Aragorn could have sworn that he noticed a spark of excitement in Daurir's dark depths; a spark that didn't fade away when suddenly Daurir yawned broadly. Aragorn smiled a bit at the sight.
"I think we should carry on this conversation some other time," he said, arising. "I should let you have some rest."
Daurir bowed his head slightly in acknowledgement and walked up to the bed. However, to Aragorn utter surprise, Daurir didn't lie down there. He merely took the blanket and a pillow and settled himself on the floor.
"You cannot be serious!" he exclaimed, dumbfounded.
All Daurir did was wave his hand in what it seemed like assurance that everything was all right. Still, Aragorn couldn't understand it; that is, until realisation dawned on him.
"You have got used to it."
Daurir nodded a bit; then, sighing a bit, he made himself comfortable. Before sleep would claim him, Aragorn said softly close to him that he would make sure more food was brought in his room and he would visit him again in the evening.
Daurir blinked a bit to show his understanding. The last thing he saw before sleep caught up with him was Aragorn walking out of the door.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.