The arrow missed the target yet again. "Ada?" A high pitched voice complained. "Why can Eldarion hit the target when I cannot?" Aragorn smiled as he watched his son's arrow hit the mark.

"Well done, Eldarion!" The king picked up his six-year-old daughter saying,"Eldaria, you will be able to hit the target soon. I promise." He set her down and she ran to find her stray arrow as Eldarion skipped cheerfully to his father's side.

"Your mother was right, Eldaria is a little too weak for archery." Aragorn told him in a man-to-man tone.

"Yes, because I'm older and stronger than she is," Eldarion grinned. Aragorn knelt to be at his son's eye level.

"Eldarion, you must never compare yourself to Eldaria," He said frowning."You two have a special bond as twins, you mustn't break that. Understood?"

Eldarion looked confused."Yes, but-"

Aragorn took the hand of his daughter who had appeared at his side. "Good. Now, shall we all go and get ready for the banquet tonight?"

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 34 years later xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxX

Eldaria laughed as her arrow hit bull's eye again. "I've beaten you again, Eldarion!" Her brother glared at her and picked up his bow.

"I'm still better with a sword"

Eldaria nodded. "But I'm better with daggers!" Her face lit up with mischief. "Oh, and brother! I hear EĆ²thiriel is coming tonight!"
Eldarion hid his excitement in order to tease his sister. "Aye, I hear Elboron is among the young men fighting for your attention!"

Eldaria froze, thinking of the young man who was convinced that he loved her. "Do you not know what our parents are scheming?" She frowned, a hint of anger underlining her tone. "It is no secret that they wish for Elboron and me to marry."

Eldarion looked surprised. "I'm sorry. The secret was kept from me."

Suitors were a sore subject for Eldaria. Being a princess of Gondor, many young princes zand noblemen wished for her hand, but Eldaria refused to choose any of them. She saw throught their greedy motives and it disgusted her. Elboron was different of course, he was a close childhood friend. But he was only a friend to her despite his being convinced that they were meant for each other.

A horn sounded and Eldaria hurried to look down at the city. A party of Rohirrim followed by a group of Ithillien rangers entered through the gate, riding towards the palace. Eldaria looked at her clothes, the simple dress the made her look like any common woman.

"I'd better go and change. Mother would be mortified if anyone saw me looking like a servant!" She rolled her eyes slightly and turned towards her chambers, laughing again.

Eldarion caught her wrist. "Do you want me to talk with Father about not making you choose a husband?"

She sighed, "No," Eldaria said, almost forcefully. "I'll deal with it when the time comes, I suppose."

Glancing at the approaching horses, she hurried back toward her chambers, the happy afternoon forgotten due to her troubles.

XxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxX

Eldaria twisted uncomfortably in her seat, trying to listen to Elboron's long one-sided conversations and wondering idly how late it was. Elboron rarely gave all his attention to one person, but when he did, you would come to dislike the conversation most cordially.

Though she knew it was rude to ignore a guest, Eldaria excused herself and left the large throne-room. Leaning against the wall, she breathed in the fresh air and enjoyed the silence. Hoping no one would notice her absence, she closed her eyes, tired from the day's weapon training. She did not notice the footsteps approaching behind her

"My lady?" Her blue eyes flew open as she stared at an elf. She recognized him as one of the rangers that resided in Emyn Arnen.

"I'm sorry, did I startle you?"

Eldaria drew a shaky breath. "Yes, but it doesn't matter..." she trailed off. Curiosity got the better of her, and before the silence grew awkward, she asked, " I am Eldaria...you are?"

"I am Imrathon." He replied quietly.

"You are not from Gondor...are you?"

Imrathon smiled. "No, I come from the Woodland Realm."

Eldaria looked at him in surprise. "The Woodland Realm?"

He nodded. "I've been staying in Emyn Arnen, but have never been to Minas Tirith. I am rather lost...it's a very large city.

"Of course! Minas Tirith is one of the largest cities in Middle-Earth." Eldaria smiled fondly, for she loved her city and kingdom.

A voice was hear in the hall, causing Eldaria to sigh, and look for an escape.

"Lord Elboron is calling for you." Imrathon stated, wondering why she reacted to Elboron's voice so oddly.

Eldaria frowned, shaking her head. "I don't want to go back. Come with me," she urged suddenly, grabbing his hand and pulling him off down a hallway. She had picked up a cloak from a passing servant and now led him outside. The sky shone bright with stars and they both stopped and gazed at the sky for a moment.

"Earendil's star..." Eldaria trailed off as she gestured towards the sky.

Imrathon glanced at the stars, before looking down at her. She looked at least partially elvish, but for all he knew or cared, all Gondorian court ladies could look like that. What was it, then, that puzzled him? Had he expected her to be stuffy and self-centered like the rest of the women he had conversed with that night? Why was she any different?

'Just a coincidence.' Imrathon told himself, but he couldn't shake the feeling that she was different than what she claimed to be. He heard her sigh, as footsteps sounded behind them.

"Eldaria?"

She turned around, sudden colour in her cheeks. "Yes, Elboron?"

Frustration and partial annoyance filled Elboron's gray eyes, as he answered, "Why are you out here? It's a cold night, and you left me alone in the hall." He noticed Imrathon at Eldaria's side and surprised hurt covered up the frustration in his eyes.

"Eldaria?" He looked very surprised. "Who is this? What were you doing?

Eldaria looked startled. "No, I- This is...Imrathon. We were just talking. Is there anything wrong with that?"

Imrathon bowed to Elboron. "I am sorry, my Lord." He looked very confused, as began to walk away.

Elboron dismissed him with a wave of his hand, then took Eldaria's hand. Quickly, Eldaria pulled it away, blushing yet again in embarrassment.

"I'm sorry, Elboron, I did not mean..." Eldaria turned away, her eyes stinging, but not with tears. She took in her breath and contemplated saying more, but the look in Elboron's eyes told her that it would be useless - he had drawn his own conclusions, and talking about it now would seem to him only a confirmation of her guilt. Without realizing she did so, Eldaria found herself hurrying away, feeling hurt and confused, and altogether very unhappy. She must speak to Imrathon, she knew, lest trouble begin. He had not gone far.

"I'm sorry," she said, giving him a sheepish smile. "Elboron is very...protective. He was just shocked, seeing us... together...I'm not sure..."

Imrathon looked at her, a blank look on his face. "What is that supposed to mean?"

Eldaria let out a shaky laugh. "We had better get back to the banquet." she sighed. "I am going to be in trouble. Elboron will probably begin spreading rumors about the strange elf that was at my side..."

Imrathon began to laugh, and after regarding him with a small amount of surprise, she reluctantly joined in.