Lori inspected her reflection in the looking glass as she finished inserting her earrings. Her lips curved into an unbidden smile when the turquoise beads shone in the sunlight. Wearing these was always a treat; not only were they beautiful, but they reminded her of fond summer memories. She would occasionally miss her scruffy Gondorian sailor, but in the end, they both knew it was better to part on good terms.
She and Tarlanc had acted like a bunch of lovesick teenagers back then; a rush of hormones and fast declarations of love and general impassioned groping. She wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world, but it wasn’t sustainable. They both were too used to doing their own thing, and after that merchant ship sank, it was clear that their worlds weren’t going to be compatible long term. He needed to go back to Gondor for a long time and wanted her to come with him, but she wasn’t ready for that yet. She had a house, a business, an entire life here.
Even though the two of them were head over heels for one another, Loriwen still wasn’t quite ready to settle down, much less have children, with someone she had known for three months! Some of her friends thought she was insane, but she knew it was the right call. They were just starting to get to know one another. What would have happened if, in half a year, they suddenly discovered a serious and fatal flaw in their relationship? He’d probably be out at sea most of the time anyway, and Lori wasn’t willing to live that kind of life.
And so, one late summer night, they said their goodbyes. He gave her the earrings she now admired, and she gave him an amulet she had carved of the lost ship. Hopefully, he still carried it as a reminder.
The door rattled as someone banged on it, jarring her out of the reverie.
“Oi, c’mon Lori. Market opens in a few minutes; we’re gonna be late!” Her oldest friend’s voice rang through the wood.
Lori shook her head and grabbed her sack of trinkets before running to head outside. The sun radiated down on her as soon as she stepped through the doorway. The wet smell of earth rose to her nostrils and she smiled widely, closing her eyes to soak it in for a few moments. Fall was coming!
The door creaked open and a wave of hot air rushed out of the inn, blowing Bryn’s hair away from her face. Incongruous smells mingled, somehow combining to form a symphony of comfort in her mind: pipe smoke, roasting meat, yeasty beers, the rich taste of metal armor in the air. Loud and entirely too hot in the summer though it may be, The Pony was one of the safest and most beloved places Bryn had found. She figured that this was what “home” was supposed to be like.
She stepped inside and walked over to the bar with purpose, head held high and shoulders back. She was a real customer tonight, not just a street rat paying a fair price for a bag of bread and apples. Barliman’s smile when she first sauntered over to his bar was hesitant, but the tight smile quickly turned genuine after she gave him her order.
“’ey Barli, gimme a real bowl’a stew, an’ whatever’s yer best tea.”
Bryn paid out the exact cost of a full meal with a rare smile and headed to sit at the table closest to the bard currently strumming a lively tune on his lute. The young Hobbit had to still be a tween but he had a lot of talent; his song was both invigorating and comforting, much like a warm cup of tea. She relaxed against the wall behind her, watching his bright eyes carefully keep track of his fingers.
Barliman’s hired help, a young woman with curly auburn hair and clear blue eyes, plopped down a steaming mug of tea and bowl of stew. Bryn could barely stammer out her thanks before the barmaid was swaying through the crowd again. This smelled heavenly! Was that onion, carrot, and potato? The meat – probably beef – looked tender and juicy.
…This really must be what a “home” really was supposed to be like.
Deep blue eyes slowly opened, immediately squinting shut once more when golden-red rays of light bore into them. Tegil stretched for a few long, absolutely sublime, moments before getting out of bed. He had managed to fall asleep in the afternoon heat yet again and it looked like he was going to be awake just in time to watch the sun dip below the horizon. He swung his legs off the edge of the bed and grunted as he pushed himself up to a stand.
Sunset was always his favorite time of the day, but particularly here at his estate in Dol Amroth. He especially loved the after effect, the light purples that spread across the sky, welcoming the moon to her evening. He took a deep breath of salty air and exhaled in a smile.
Life was simple here, but it had some challenges. The bustle of the busy street below, the roaring of the waves…the atmosphere was particularly loud. That didn’t work for some, but Tegil was grateful for the change in scenery from Bree-land. He missed his friends, and would still occasionally write them, yet this existence suited him better. As he watched the last of the sun’s light slip beyond the horizon, he mused that it would be nice to have company on his walks along the beaches or forests, though.
He needed to meet people.
Osbeorne pulled another shirt out of his dresser, unfolding it and laying it down on the bed. He found that it was better to roll his clothes when traveling; easier to fit more in the same pack. This trip would hopefully go better than the last one. He had a wicked scar from his mishap during the fight with that asshole and really didn’t want to repeat that if possible. Kieran was a good kid and Os wanted to help out however he was able.
Hopefully, that little girl would come to her senses and leave with them, too. Sure, Kieran was clearly taken with her and that was nice and all, but the thing he kept thinking of was that parents shouldn’t be that way. What kind of mother lets their daughter get treated like that? It wasn’t right. He’d never treat a kid like that, even if the kid wasn’t his. That guy deserved everything he got.
He folded his shirt in half and methodically rolled it into a tight cylinder, taking some of his frustration out on the poor piece of clothing. Stuff like this only made Os surer he wanted to look into that adoption stuff. He wasn’t giving up on finding someone, but it was about time he needed to really look at what he wanted to do with his life. One of the things he definitely wanted to do was to help raise a kid, and what better way to do that than to adopt a poor kid who doesn’t have a family yet?
His ma wasn’t too keen on the plan; she was concerned that any woman who may be interested in him would find a pre-existing kid a huge detraction, but Os wasn’t actually concerned about that. Why would he want to spend his life with someone who didn’t understand and appreciate the value of bringing a kid in and helping them become a productive adult?
Os sighed and tucked the rolled-up shirt into his pack. When he got back from this trip, he’d start the paperwork for being evaluated. Money wasn’t an issue, but he would have to show he could provide a suitable home. He could do that!
A breeze gently played with the hanging braid of midnight-black hair, slowly swinging it back and forth. A sleepy smile came to the lips of the elf to whom that braid belonged; the breath of coolness that danced upon the late summer’s air current was very welcome. Aeldes hummed a soft tune, one long lost to time and tragedy. Nights like tonight gave her bittersweet memories of her time wandering the forests of Beleriand. It was, as always, so long ago and yet seemed as if it were yesterday.
She didn’t mourn the lost lands or those friends of hers who had sailed beyond to never return, but it did fill her with a sad longing. If she hadn’t been bedridden for so long, she surely would have left with them, but alas, she remained and with much of her passion for the land. This “Bree-land” was a particularly rustic but charming area, and it deserved to be allowed to flourish!
Aeldes stifled a yawn of contentment; this was a wonderful green land, but there was wandering yet to be done in her imagination.