Arenborn had returned to Bree-land, his journey back from Gondor taking much time, which he had used to think. He had, not wasted, but failed to use his time in Bree effectively. He knew what he wanted in life, and how he could get it, so why had he ignored it? This is of course, the Knights of Eriador. He had met members of the secretive organisation the last time he was in Bree, and they had welcomed him to their ranks. However, he had not spent much time with them, preferring to spend it with Tosie, or with a large quantity of alcohol. His journey to Gondor had helped to change this, he drank less, especially after months in the wilds with no alcohol at all. Mostly, it had been visiting Sir Elmir’s grave that showed him the disgrace he had become. Aren had improved, but it was a work in progress.
Having returned, Aren spent as much time as he could with the Knights of Eriador, reading in their library, training at their barracks, or socialising in their main hall. Perhaps less of the latter, but this was how his time was spent. Book after book was sped through in days, and the training dummies had never sustained an extended beating like it before, nor will they again. Keeping himself occupied was key he felt, making sure he was training and learning, bettering himself whilst getting to know his fellow members of the order.
This proved a difficult task. Since he had lost his voice, Aren’s social skills and confidence had taken a nose dive over the Falls of Rauros. Not everyone could read, nor could everyone understand his gestures at times. Those were just the issues in a one to one conversation. In groups people didn’t pay attention to him often, they might move on to another topic before he’s finished writing his message, or sometimes not try to understand his gestures and just shrug at him. This difficulty in communicating was what knocked his confidence. He began to withdraw into himself, people couldn’t ignore him if he kept to himself. He would refrain from eye contact, he would remain ‘quiet’ during group conversations, preferring to sit and listen.
Inayat though, was different from everyone else. She regretted she couldn’t read so that they could talk, and did her best to understand his gestures and expressions. More importantly, she didn’t treat him differently for being a mute, and invited him to spar with her one evening. The fiery redheaded Rohirric lass was adept with a spear and shield, and was trying to learn, and over the course of a few sparring sessions, learnt a great deal from Aren. He did what he could to teach, rather than purely sparring, and the fast learner quickly showed results. After three days of sparring together, both were littered with cuts and bruises from the various hits they’d taken each.
Aren had escorted her home each time, or rather to the guesthouse in Hookworth where she was staying, and they parted each night with a hug. On the third night, after sparring and spending time in a pub together and with friends, Aren fought his nerves and kissed her. Perhaps he has a thing for red headed ladies from Rohan with a fiery personality? Maybe she couldn’t read and understand him fully, but perhaps that was what they needed? Writing messages whenever he wanted to say something was not something he enjoyed, nor wished to do with a partner. Being forced to rely on gestures and expressions had developed a bond between the two, and as a lady had said in the Pony that day, “You two seem to communicate just fine.” All this led to Aren leaning down and kissing her as they hug their farewell.
At first, Inayat was surprised, stiffening at the unexpected kiss. A few moments later, she relaxed into it and returned the tender kiss. When the short moment, that had felt like an eternity, ended, Aren met her gaze for a split second before dropping his eyes and his cheeks flushing a shade of pink. Inayat looked at him, her mouth dropping open as though to speak, but, unable to think of what to say she resorted to just taking his hand. They shared a long moment of rare eye contact and Aren felt lost in her pale blue eyes, eyes he hadn’t seen properly due to his shyness, avoiding meeting her gaze. They were beautiful.
They prepare to part, when Inayat mentioned that staying in the guest house would be easier than staying in an inn. It would be cheaper, and he would be closer to the rest of the Order and be able to get to the training easier. She showed him around, and he took the spare room, across the central room from hers. They shared another kiss, this time both of them more sure of their intent, before parting for bed.
Deep into the night Arenborn remained awake, the brief kisses he had shared with her playing through his mind over and over, a smile fixed across his lips.