A/N: This is short two-part story (so far!). Obviously, the theme is names, because in the Immortals series, that's a huge thing in the lives of our favorite two characters. (If you know another character you'd like to read a little fic about, with some sort of name-related theme, let me know, and perhaps this will be longer than two parts.)
The first chapter is Daine, the next, Arram/Numair. Both take place before they know each other (aka before Wild Magic). Their pasts are almost as interesting as their relationship!
Enjoy and please leave a review while I work on the Numair chapter!
Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to Tamora Pierce, not me.
"Don't you stray far, Daine," Sarra said sternly. "I won't be long. I've just got to get your grandda some drink from the store, and little ones aren't allowed in. Stay right here, do you hear me? Don't leave Mammoth, neither."
Little Daine sat patiently beside the bush for quite some time, patting Mammoth's fluffy head absently as she watched all the creatures that scurried across the road. It was mostly two-leggers, but every now and then a fluffy squirrel-glider would jump from tree to tree. Swallows fluttered in tiny flocks way up high beside the clouds.
"It's pretty round here, isn't it?" Daine asked Mammoth. "I never thought a big city place could be so fine. There's still animals here, an' all."
It's always good to see someplace new, replied the big dog, resting his head on Daine's knee. Even if it smells too much of stinky two-leggers.
Daine laughed. At that moment, a human face peered around the edge of the bush, a boy about her own age. He couldn't have been older than seven. His mousy, dirty-blond hair hung limply over his bright blue eyes and freckly nose. When he smiled, Daine saw that a few of his baby's teeth were missing. She'd lost her first one just days ago.
"I was thinking I heard someone back here," he said cheerfully. "That's a right big dog there!"
"This is Mammoth," said Daine, smiling. "He's our boss dog. He's older'n I am."
"Wow. He's prob'ly taller'n you, too, isn't he?"
"No! I'm not that tiny," protested Daine, but the boy was grinning. He sat cross-legged just like her in front of Mammoth.
"Hi there, Mammoth," the boy said.
Mammoth sniffed the boy's offered fingers. He smells nice, said Mammoth.
"Mammoth says you smell nice," said Daine to the boy.
"Well, 'course I do. My ma made me bathe this morning."
Daine laughed again, just as a voice rang out from the path. It was a woman's voice, but it wasn't her ma; it was someone she didn't recognize.
"Eli?" it called loudly and sternly. "Elias, come here, right quick, we need to go home before it's dark!"
"Horse manure," muttered the boy, leaping to his foot and looking nervous. He brushed his hair quickly out of his eyes. "That's me ma. I'd better - "
But before he could finish talking, the mystery woman was right beside him and looked like she was about to grab him by his collar when she noticed Daine and Mammoth. "Who's this? Are you alone? What's your name?" she said sternly.
"Don't sound so mean, ma," protested the boy, Eli. Though short and scrawny, he stood straight and spoke boldly. "She's nice. Her dog's named Mammoth."
"That's nice'n all, but still, you shouldn't be all on your own at so young," said the woman, though her tone was a bit kinder now. "What's your name?"
"Daine Sarrasri, ma'm," Daine said without thinking.
At once, the woman's eyes hardened. Mammoth stood up and began to growl. This time, the woman did grab Eli's collar and yank him away, ignoring his loud protests. "Find your ma and go home," she hissed to Daine.
As they left, Daine heard Eli crying, "Ma, why'd you do that?"
"Stay away from people like her, Eli. She's no good. Her ma was loose and now she has to pay the price."
Ten minutes later, Sarra returned with two bottles in her hand. Daine stared down the road behind her where Eli and his mother had gone. There was a odd, tight feeling in her heart, and it made her shoulders droop; Mammoth nudged her hip sympathetically. Daine turned away after a long, long moment, wondering why she suddenly felt as cold and sad inside as a ma of an empty bird's nest.