Daniel folded his arms over his chest as Kitty’s footsteps faded away. “She must appear before the king at Minas Tirith,” he said sternly, with just a hint of derision. “You aren’t jeopardizing my mission by any chance, are you?” His tone left it clear that he already knew the answer, or so he thought.
“You seem to have missed the part where I told her she had to go,” Aramir answered, raising his voice enough to be heard over a gust of wind, the remains of the storm sent to dry their soaked supplies one powerful blast of air at a time.
“What are you doing here?” Daniel continued, as though he had not heard Aramir’s response.
The young man shrugged. “Got lost looking for some of my things. I’m terrible with directions, you know; it’s a nightmare some days…” He glanced about curiously as if only just realizing where he was.
Daniel was having none of it. “I mean here, with this company. They’re all going for the celebration; it’s practically all anyone talks about. On the road, over meals.. Gondor this and friends and relatives that, as if it were the only place worth going. You,” he jabbed a finger in Aramir’s direction, “haven’t said a word about it. Not one. Not even to the jester or to Fiona.”
Aramir’s eyes widened and then narrowed, and then he smiled because it seemed better than admitting that Daniel was right. Not outright, at least. Instead, he said, “You’re more observant than you seem, I’ll grant you that.”
“So I’m right, then?”
“That depends on what you think.” This time he narrowed his eyes deliberately and assumed Daniel’s stance, arms crossed over his chest, facing his soldier-twin. “If you suppose I am here to sabotage your mission or some such thing, you could not be further from the truth. I travel with this company for the same reason as anyone else, I suppose -- convenience, companionship, you might even say a sense of duty to protect some of them after they did me a service.” There was no point in telling Daniel the embarrassing purple-poison story, so he continued. “I have no interest in preventing Kitty from reaching Gondor, nor any of the rest of this company, for that matter.”
“You claim to sympathize with me--”
“--not with you. I only said I would not get in your way. For now, at least.”
“--and yet you are the one she confides in. Why is that, Aramir?”
Hearing his name on Daniel’s lips was unsettling, like being challenged by a superior officer. No, more like an equal, one who aspired to higher rank but for now could only shift his tone of voice and hope doing so made him sound more important than he actually was.
As to the question...
“I don’t know,” he answered honestly. Kitty’s willingness to open herself to him, even briefly, still baffled him. “I certainly would not choose myself as a confidant given the choices here.” He peered at Daniel. “Perhaps you wish she had chosen you?”
“Getting her to Gondor is my assignment,” Daniel scoffed. “I don’t need to hear her life story to do so.”
Anger flared up inside of Aramir to hear Daniel dismiss, even unwittingly, Kitty’s lifetime of pain and suffering. “Perhaps you do,” he hissed, struggling madly against the urge to raise a hand, a weapon, anything at all against Daniel. “It might change your mind.” What did Daniel know about the lingering terror of the past? No doubt his nightmares were filled with such horrors as substandard food, and uncomfortable bed, no servants to cater to his needs or comrades to bolster his vanity.
“Unlikely,” the soldier snorted, waving his hand. He glanced at their surroundings a moment, thinking, then turned his piercing eyes back to Aramir. “She isn’t the only one with a past, after all.”
The urge to fight vanished and was instantly replaced by a desperate need to escape as quickly as possible. He can’t know, Aramir thought, over and over as he focused on not letting his feet take control of the rest of his body. He’s only trying to bait you. Calm down. He wants you to tell him something.
Daniel wasn’t jealous; not emotionally, anyway. He was strategically outmaneuvered and he knew it. Aramir had more information than he did, both about Kitty and of course about himself. It was a game of cards and Aramir had seen another player’s hand, and that bothered Daniel, especially because he obviously did not believe that his rival was not actively working against him. It was Daniel’s mission, yet Aramir had received special intelligence nonetheless. He’s just trying to make you feel the same way, Aramir told himself.
Unfortunately, it was working, and it must have been visible on Aramir’s face, because Daniel’s eyes now evinced a glimmer of triumph. There was only thing Aramir could think to do, and that was to play the only card he had -- make Daniel think he had yet another piece of desirable information. He forced his expression into a sly smile, said, “No, I suppose not,” and turned to leave the clearing.