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“Oh, bother!”

“Is something the matter?” Rúmil asked, looking up from where he sat fletching arrows cross-legged on the floor of the talan he shared with his brothers. His brow knit when he observed Haldir standing before the looking glass in his dancing clothes, one hand on his hip, the other held a few inches before his forehead. From the latter hand descended a very long, very straight, and very thick golden hair.

“Broke a hair,” Haldir commented, wrinkling his nose at the hair. Then he added, “I was standing too close to the mirror; caught it on the cursed frame.” He jerked his chin sharply, without moving his eyes from the hair, at the elaborately carven wood that lined the top of the glass.

“Mmm.” Rúmil glanced at the wood; then looked down to pick up a feather. He flicked the barbs absently with his thumb. “Does it hurt?” He looked back up.

“No.” Haldir suddenly stiffened; then gracefully swung his body to face him. He held the hair forward. “Would you like it?”


“Well? It is useful, is it not?” Haldir smiled broadly.

“Haldir, I am making arrows, not a bow! I also need a string of spun hairs, not a single strand. You know this!” Rúmil scowled when Haldir approached and bent to set the hair carefully and indifferently before him on the floorboards.

“Then take it to the spinners,” Haldir said lightly, rising and stepping away before turning to head to the door.

Rúmil glared. The spinners were located on the other side of the city. Why could Haldir not take it himself? “Take it your…” he began irritably.

“Or,” Haldir suddenly added, interrupting him and spinning around on the threshold with a theatrical flourish to face him yet again, “keep it as a keepsake! You love me, do you not, my darling?”

Grinning, he drew the fingers of a hand to his lips to blow his brother a kiss, then yelped and hurriedly dodged the arrow that Rúmil had hurled after him with a growl. Jumping up, Rúmil chased his laughing brother out into the night.

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