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Ch. 17 - Two Young Hearts
Telion watched King Éomer's proposal to the Princess transpire in front of him, amazed at the heartfelt emotion and playfulness of the Quality. “They are just like us!” he murmured.
Master Taethion heard the murmur, “That they are my lad! That they are. And the best of them,” he said nodding to those who were ascending to the high table, “Don’t mind letting that show through to all around them. And there are others who choose to put on airs and pretend they are above us.” He nodded to a group across the way who to Telion’s mind looked a little self-satisfied, “You’ll meet them all in our chosen craft, my lad.” Taethion concluded, sighing.
“How you deal with those, Master Taethion?” Telion inquired. He was a rather forthright boy who had been taught that honesty was always the best path, but also had not had the most experience with the Quality as it were.
Master Taethion looked at his apprentice, who had a tendency say what he thought and smiled, “You just do, my lad.” He continued thoughtfully. “There are times when you have to keep your own counsel, and others when you know you can say something that will better a piece that a client wants. You’ll learn.” He ended sagely.
Telion did not hear the last portions of Taethion’s advice for he was distracted by a pair of green eyes and pert little nose under a white servant’s cap, stray wisps of red hair escaping from under the cap. It was the maid from the time when he and Taethion had shown the Queen and the Lady Éowyn their finished commission. She was serving at table. He was transfixed. She was beautiful and he remembered that she had looked at him as well when they were served tea and coffee that day. He recalled her being named Nariel by the Queen. Taethion followed his apprentice’s gaze when he realised the Telion was no longer listening. He saw the object of his apprentice’s fascination. A serving maid, he smiled. She was a pretty young thing, Taethion thought approvingly. He nudged Istrien and Maeves and pointed with his eyes lest Telion should see and become embarrassed. Both smiled and Maeves cast an assessing glance at first the girl and then her rapt son.
Nariel was new to waiting at table and was so honoured that she should be waiting at the high table on such an occasion. Granted this was not the grand state occasion that happened on First night. It was more relaxed but any opportunity to serve the King and Queen was the highest privilege. She was carefully performing her duties and was serving the Queen when she happened to look up to see a pair of large hazel eyes raptly staring at her. She had the presence of mind to straighten up and not drop a platter of food in the Queen’s lap but it was something of an abrupt reaction. The eyes belonged to the sandy-haired apprentice who accompanied the master jeweler the day before. She had brought tea and coffee into the Queen’s solar and that was where she saw him. She had been attracted to the shyness and honesty she saw in his eyes. It was still there.
“Nariel?” She broke the stare with the sandy haired boy and turn toward the voice. She gulped, it was the Lord Faramir speaking to her.
“Yes, my lord? I’m so sorry, my lord.” She quickly lowered the platter so that he could serve himself.
“It is fine, Nariel. Not to worry,” the Lord Faramir said in a kindly voice, “Are you all right?” he eyed her gently.
“Oh yes! My lord. I am sorry.” Nariel colored at his kind inquiry. She was not supposed to draw attention to herself. Master Attendant Sarthmir would be very displeased if he saw her lapse. Faramir looked at where she had been staring and saw that her gaze centered on Telion, who was looking rapt, gazing upon Nariel. He recognized that look immediately for he was sure his face beheld the same wonder whenever he gazed upon Éowyn. He felt for Telion, clearly a fellow soldier in thrall to a beautiful girl. He became aware of whispered words of force being spoken behind him. He grew up knowing the harsh sound of such words and though he could not hear the exact words, he knew their force and effect. He turned from looking in Telion’s direction to see Nariel in quiet tears and her tray being handed to another serving maid and Sarthmir looming over the girl who then ran off in the direction of the kitchen and Sarthmir smartly moving in another direction. Out of the corner of his eye he caught movement. It was Telion walking quickly in the same direction as the serving maid. He wore a troubled look as he turned back to his plate and saw that Éowyn was indeed being served by a different serving maid. She looked at him, noticing the troubled look on his face.
“Faramir, my love. What is wrong?”
Faramir turned back to her, “I hope nothing, my love. But I do need to inquire. Won’t be a moment.” He kissed her and then got up to go in search of Sarthmir. Éowyn sat looking at her husband’s back walking purposefully toward the Master Attendant.
Arwen who had also noticed Faramir excuse himself, looked at Éowyn and mouthed “What was that about?” only because she did not want to talk above the minstrels playing and the general hub-bub of conversation and therefore attract too much attention.
Éowyn shook her head and mouthed in the same fashion, “I do not know,” as she shrugged and reached for her wine goblet looking in the direction her husband had taken.
Telion was shaken to his core to see Nariel return his interested stare and he then watched in horror as she delayed in serving Lord Faramir, who seemed unfazed but yet he saw a tall self-important man motion her over, take her tray from her and hand it to another maid. He then proceeded to speak to her in words that looked harsh from the crumpled and devastated look on Nariel’s face. The next thing he knew she retreated hurriedly. He could not be sure, but he thought she might be crying. Telion was aghast with the dawning realization that he may have caused that whole scene with his accursed staring at her. He had to find her to apologise for looking and apparently getting her into trouble. He looked at his mother and Master Taethion, “Please excuse me! I have to go! I’ll be back!” he threw his napkin down on his chair and walked away quickly leaving the two to look at his retreating form in confusion.
Telion walked down a back hall not really knowing where he was going or really what he was doing. He simply knew he had find her somehow and apologise for staring. He stopped briefly and he heard the faint sounds of crying just around the corner. He rounded the corner and saw Nariel slumped against the wall behind some mop buckets sobbing her heart out. Telion bit his lip, pondering how to proceed, having found her. He stood there for a few seconds as she abruptly took off her cap to reveal that beautiful red hair. He gasped. She looked up, “What do you want?” she said miserably. Telion was a bit stunned by the reaction but he was undeterred.
“I saw you leave. You looked upset. I j-just wanted to say ‘I’m sorry.’” Telion stammered as he knelt down beside her about a foot away.
“For what?” she said again miserably.
Telion continued, “For staring. I must have gotten you in trouble. I am so very sorry. It’s just you were so beautiful. I could not seem to help myself.” He ended feebly.
She sniffed, rubbed her nose, and looked at him incredulously, “You think I’m beautiful?” Her red-rimmed eyes looked wide and she stared at him.
“Oh my yes!” Telion exclaimed absolutely without guile.
“People say my hair is too red and my eyes are too wide.”
“Oh no, not at all. I think they are just right.”
Nariel smiled and she saw the earnestness in his hazel eyes.
Telion smiled back. He ventured gently again, “What did that man in black say to you that made you cry?”
Nariel started to tear up again, Telion took her cap from her hands and dried her tears with it, wiping them as gently as he could. His jewelers’ hands knew a light touch when touching a fine gem.
“Master Attendant Sarthmir said I was to be relieved from my duties as I brought attention to myself and almost spilled on the Lord Faramir. And that I should be ashamed and allowed myself to be distracted. And I might lose my place. And I need this place! My father and brother died in the battle to save the City. I must earn. For it is only just my mother and I.”
“That’s not fair!” Telion exclaimed, “It was my fault I distracted you. I should be blamed. And I am sorry that you lost your father and brother. The battle was terrible.”
“Did you fight?” She asked tenuously.
“Not really, I ran arrows and water…got too close to an Orc blade and got this.” He lifted his heavy sandy blonde hair to show her the uneven scar.
“Oh my! Praise the Valar you were not hurt worse. You must have been very brave!”
At this time he switched to sitting crossed legged on the floor and shrugged, “I did what I had to! And I was very scared.” He confided to her. His eyes inadvertently coloring a little at the horrors he had seen during the siege. Nariel noticed and her heart soften little more towards him.
Telion looked her and needed to change the subject from the battle upon which he did not want to dwell. “It was not right that this Master Attendant should yell at you for something that wasn’t your fault.”
Faramir had gone to speak to Sarthmir to see what he had said to the serving maid. Too often in his childhood had he been blamed for things that were out of his control. Too often he had had to listen to words of quiet ferocity, when his father chose public moments to discipline or lecture him and he could only stand there and take it. If he reacted, it went worse for him in private. He had heard that kind of quiet ferocity being leveled at the serving maid and he suspected it was because of the pause in serving him when Telion had met her eye. He would not have that sort of discipline doled out on his behalf. He simply would not.
He approached the Master Attendant near to the kitchen but in a private enough spot. “Sarthmir, may I speak with you a moment.” He said in a polite but strong voice.
Sarthmir immediately stopped and bowed his head, “Yes of course, My lord. What is your will?”
“Am I correct? Did I see you having words with Nariel, the serving maid?”
“Yes, My lord.”
“And what was that about?”
“Nothing that need concern you, My Lord. Especially on such a special day!”
Faramir leveled a look at the Master Attendant, “I am asking, Sarthmir. Concern me…”
Sarthmir looked a little non-plussed, but obeyed, “She delayed in serving you, she could have spilled. She became distracted. She was given this chance and I am afraid she has squandered it, my lord.”
“Has she?” Faramir raised an eyebrow and said somewhat sternly, “I know that she did hesitate. I asked her about it and she profusely apologised. No harm was done.” He softened his tone, “Sarthmir, do not think that I do not appreciate all that you have done to make this day special for the Lady Éowyn and myself. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for how special and perfectly run this day has been. But I do not want the serving maid to be disciplined for a small mistake that was beyond her control. I do not want this to be reflected upon her in any way.”
“Yes, My Lord. Did you want her to return to service for this meal?”
“No, I think not. Her nerves are probably still a bit shaken from the situation. Leave it until tomorrow. And we will say no more about it.”
“Very Good, my lord.” Sarthmir bowed and turned to depart, but Faramir’s voice held him.
“Once again, allow me to thank you indeed for a truly wonderful and perfect day. I have loved it and so has the Lady Éowyn.” He ended softly, “It has been very much appreciated.”
The older man’s eyes did warm at that last compliment, he bowed, “It is my honour to serve you, my lord.” Faramir smiled and departed. He went looking for Telion and he had a feeling where he might find him, or at least who he was with. He walked a little further and around a corner he heard muffled conversation. He was about to announce himself, but as he moved to speak he heard Nariel say that she and her mother had lost her father and brother in the battle to defend the City and that was why she needed this place so badly. He closed his eyes, so much had been lost in the Ring War. So many lives disrupted. They had indeed won but it was up to Aragorn throughout the reunited realms and he in Ithilien, to make this world right again for those who had lost so much. A responsibility settled upon his shoulders that he would bear gladly to make his people whole again. He placed a smile upon his face and called “Telion!” as he rounded the corner and saw both of them give a little start like they had been caught at something. Faramir smiled, “There you are!” He crouched down. Telion stared wide-eyed not really knowing what to do.
Nariel started to get up, “My lord, is there something you needed. I’m sorry I have been delayed.”
Faramir held a hand up, “Stay, please remain sitting, there is nothing I require.” Nariel paused and then sat down again, “I saw what happened between Master Attendant and you.”
“My Lord, it won’t happen again. I promise—" Nariel tried to explain.
Faramir held up his hand again, “Please, Nariel. Allow me to finish.” He said gently.
Nariel buttoned her lips and looked shamefaced. Faramir continued, “I have spoken with Sarthmir and explained that I did not want you disciplined for a small mistake that was beyond your control. I did not wish it, for I know what it is like to be disciplined for something that was not your fault.” Nariel saw a small shadow of memory cross over his face. She had not been in service long and it shocked her a little to think those of the Quality to have shadowed memories. “So, you will not punished for a small mistake," she heard the Lord Faramir continue, "But if you do feel you are being treated differently you need to get word to Lady Éowyn and she will tell me and we will solve the matter.” Nariel could not help but noticed that Lord Faramir’s eyes held a great deal of empathy. She found herself nodding in agreement. Telion was looking at Faramir with eyes of wonder. Faramir rose from his crouch and said, “Well, I must be getting back to my own wedding meal or people will talk!” He smiled at them both. Telion scurried after him. “My Lord, thank you. But why?”
Faramir looked at the young man and he saw many of Devrion’s qualities, “For your father. He would want you to be happy and so do I.” he looked back around the corner, “And I think she might help with that!” Faramir said with a smile on his face. Telion watched him walk away. It would not be the last time they met as a bond was formed between two men that day.
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