Title: On the First Day Back...

Author: AspergianStoryteller.

Genre: Humour/General.

Summary: On the First Day Back, Rowan Walked In On Someone Bathing and Ran Into a Tree. Set between Rowan and The Keeper of The Crystal and Rowan and the Zebak.

Don't own Rowan of Rin.

He was going to be late for dinner, Rowan realised. He walked faster, approaching the bukshaa pool.

Since getting back from Seaborn of Fisk's wedding in Maris that morning, a four week leave alltogether, he had been out most of the day. Right after putting his clothes and pack away was tracking down Annad, tired, but excited to be home. He had found his little sister at her friend Kanna's house, telling six other young girls all about the long walk, the Maris, swimming in the sea and the wedding.

'Welcome back, Rowan,' Kanna's mother, Jona let him in. 'Annad is in Kanna's room.'

'Thank you, Jona,' Rowan said.

Jona closed the door and returned to her kitchen. It was along the way to Kanna's bedroom, so Rowan followed.

'It sounds like your party had a good time in Maris.'

'We did,' Rowan smiled. 'It was Annad's first time time going, and a wedding on top of that made her especially excited.' And none of them nearly died.

The kitchen smelt of vegetable stew. Jona placed a carrot on her chopping board and took a large knife to it.

'What is a Maris wedding like, Rowan?' she asked.

'It is similar to a Rin wedding,' Rowan remembered. 'They have it by the sea and the guests stand in the water. The marrying couple first ask the Keeper of the Crystal for his blessing, then walk through Maris to the sea and stand in a small boat. Their families sit in a boat next to them. They speak their promises, are joined by their clan leader, and jump into the sea.'

'Oh.' Chop, chop, chop. 'What do they wear to weddings? I have only ever seen them in their close fitting fish skins, in the clan colours.'

Perlain of Pandellis and Asha of Umbray had been the only non-Fisk Maris at the wedding. Their blue and silver clothes stood out among the green as much as the Rin villager's woven garments. The Keeper did not quite count in his none-but-all colours. (And of course his attendance was unusual too.)

'Everyone wore jewelery and we of Rin had our hair done special.' Maris people did not have hair. So ribbons for Annad, a nice plait for Jiller, clips for Marlie's short hair, Allun stuck gull feathers in his curls... and tried out a fashion from a group of foreign traders: body piercing. A little metal ring through his ear. Allun liked it so much he talked Jonn into it and they brought Rowan with them. Thank goodness they did not decide to get tattoos as well, he thought.

'I will speak to Annad now,' he said. 'Is it alright if she wants to stay a while?'

'Of course. You are welcome to have lunch with us too, if you like.'

'Oh, um, if it is no trouble.'

'It is not. You are quite helpful.' Jona smiled over her shoulder.

Rowan blushed and scurried out of the kitchen.

XXX xxx XXX

Knock knock.

'Come in!'

'Oh, hello.'

The little girls went quiet as Rowan opened Kanna's door. The room was simple and practical like the rest of the house, but there were stuffed toys on the bed. The girls were in a circle on the floor.

'Hello, Rowan!' Annad was not shy to see him.

'Hello, Annad,' he said. 'Mother says you may stay until three.'

'Only three?'

'It has been a long week and we are all having an early night.'

She sighed.

'Oh alright. Oo! Rowan, show them your ear thing!' Before he escape, she had by the hand and dragged him into her group. They shuffled back to make space.

'Look at Rowan's ear!' she crowed. 'He and Jonn and Allun got rings put in their ears by people from another land!' The little girls regained their courage and leaned right in to have a good look at the silver ring in the top of his ear.

'Weird!' Kanna exclaimed. 'Why would you put a hole in your ear? Did it hurt?' Not nearly as much as their last trip to Maris. A little hole through his ear wasn't nearly as painful having horrible little fish tearing flesh from his arms.

'A bit,' Rowan was crouched over by eager children.

'It's pretty!' Marrie squealed. 'I want one!'

'Can you get gold ear rings?'

'Allun has a gold one,' Annad informed them.

'I want a gold one!'

'Does it come out?'

'Ow!'

XXX xxx XXX

Then there was lunch and talking about the wedding again, why the married couple jumped into the sea, what happened at the Choosing, when could they get their ears pierced? Rowan's face was red the entire time and he was glad to get going after cleaning the dishes away.

Then he helped Jiller restock their cupboards from the market. He brushed his hair over his ears so people would not stare at him any more than they were already. Jiller was tired, but happy to talk about the trip with friends and neighbours who asked.

'The Keeper was there?' Maise wondered. 'I wish I had seen. What is he like?'

'Wise,' Jiller said. 'Intelligent and clever, as the Maris are. Though, he did strike me as a more dreamy sort of person. Odd for a Maris.' Rowan carefully stayed behind her and hoped she would not do anything embarrassing, like making a comparison between himself and the Keeper.

'Is that Rowan hiding behind you?'

Rowan jumped.

'Hello, Maise,' he mumbled shyly.

'Hello, Rowan. Did you enjoy the trip to Maris?' Much more than the first one.

'I did, thank you.' He stayed half-behind Jiller.

'Hello, Jiller, Maise, Rowan,' Jonn joined them with his own shopping basket.

'Good afternoon, Jonn,' Maise waved. 'We were just talking about the -' she noticed the glint in his ear. 'The wedding. Ah, what have you done to your ear?'

'Oh, this?' Jonn touched his ear. 'New fashion from overseas. Allun talked me into it.'

'Body piercing? I thought you were sensible.' Maise shook her head. 'But of course, you were with Allun.'

'It was a surprise when they came back with those,' Jiller sighed.

Jonn scratched his neck.

'At least it was only piercings,' she continued. 'If Rowan had not been with them, I fear they may have gotten more.'

'More?'

Jonn nodded.

'Some of those people had rings and jewels all over their faces,' Jiller said.

'That sounds, exotic,' Maise said, eyes wide. Rowan thought so too. Imagine coming back to Rin with hoops in his nose!

'Yo! Are we all settling back in comfortably?' Allun waved as he walked over with his mother, Sara.

'Allun,' Maise greeted the baker.

'Maise was just asking about your new jewlery,' Jiller told him.

'Oh?' Allun beamed and promptly lifted his hair so she could get a good look at the little gold ring glinting there. Maise raised her eyebrows.

'Pretty little thing, is it not?' Allun said. 'When it heals I can change it for another one.'

'Why would anyone put a hole through their own flesh? -No, do not answer.'

Sara shook her head.

'My foolish son.'

'I do not regret it for a second,' Allun declared. 'Jonn, Rowan, you still have your's in, yes?'

'Him, too?' Rowan and Jonn went red.

'Show them off!'

Rowan ducked behind Jiller.

XXX xxx XXX

After shopping and cleaning and talking to many friends and neighbours, Rowan was free to see his bukshaa by late afternoon.

'It is so good to see you again,' he murmured, hugging Dawn. The bukshaa were very pleased to see him too. They crowded around him, snuffling and nuzzling his body and licking his face and hands. Rowan smiled. He had longed to be here since bringing Star back quickly in the morning.

'How is everyone?' he asked. He walked through the herd, examining each bukshaa individually and speaking softly to them. 'Hello, Moon. You have grown!' he crooned.

'Uh oh. Sunny? Sunny! Where is your twin, Moon? Where is Sunny?' Rowan trekked the whole field looking for his wayward bukshaa, but Sunny was nowhere to be seen. He was probably wondering somewhere in the village or orchard.

'Oh for Orrin's sake,' he sighed. 'Star, I am going to find Sunny.' He should have named him Walker, or Annad. The calf was just like her. Rowan swore he would ask questions all day and climb up trees to see the world if he could. Sunny had tried.

Come evening, Rowan had found Sunny digging under the fence to the gardens -

'Rowan! Get your bukshaa out of there!'

'Sorry, Hanna!' He wrapped his arms around the calf, already halfway under, and dragged him out. 'Come on, Sunny. This is not your place.'

'Hmm?' Snort.

'Can you not control it?'

'Sunny is very inquisitive and good at escaping,' Rowan told her.

'Just keep it out of my garden,' she frowned. 'Who ever heard of a digging bukshaa?'

'Come on, Sunny. Time to go home.' Sunny was still small enough for Rowan to scoop up and carry a short way.

And this was why Rowan was going to be late for dinner, sweaty and dirty.

'Marie, I really think we are out too early.' Rowan paused.

There was a giggle.

'Relax, who is going to come here at this time? Rowan of the Bukshaa?' The voices were coming from the bukshaa pool.

Splash, splash, splash.

'Come on, Maata. It is not cold!' Were they wadding in the pool? 'Are you scared?'

'I am not!'

Rowan decided to walk by quickly. He looked straight ahead and walked briskly out from the trees near the side of the pool.

'Eeek!'

'Ahh!'

Two high pitched shrieks and frantic splashing shocked Rowan and he spun to look at the pool.

'Oh-!' he squeaked at the naked, older boy and girl in the water. Their clothes were strewn over the thornless rose and pea plants Rowan had planted years ago, for his bukshaa to nibble on.

Face burning, he slapped his hands over his eyes, turned, and ran into a tree.

'Oof!' Then he stumbled backwards from it and fell into the water. Rowan scrambled out, soaked, coughed out -

'Sorry!' and ran home as fast as he could go.

XXX xxx XXX

'What kept you so long, Rowan?' Jiller called from the dining room as he opened the front door.

'I had to find Sunny,' he called back.

'Again? Where did you find him this time?' she sounded amused.

'Trying to dig under the garden fence.'

'Ha ha ha!'

Rowan smiled.

'Come in and have dinner,' Jiller said.

'Ah, I will be there in a minute, Mother!' Rowan dashed upstairs into his bedroom and peeled off his wet clothes. What an embarrassing experience! What if he bumped into those two again? How could he face them after seeing them like that?

Annad had already started eating when Rowan sat at the table.

'Why is your hair wet?' Jiller asked.

Rowan felt his face going warm and red again.

'I felt into the bukshaa pool,' he mumbled. Annad giggled.

'And why is your head bleeding?'

'I am bleeding?'

'Stay there,' Jiller ordered. She fetched a rag from the kitchen and wiped Rowan's forehead.

'How did you get injured on the first day back home?'

'... I ran into a tree.'

XXX xxx XXX

After Annad had gone to bed, Jiller coaxed the full story from Rowan.

'Oh dear,' she laughed, 'It serves them right!'

'Mother, it's not funny!'

'It is! When you are older you will remember this and laugh. Probably.' It was nearly dark outside now. The curtains were drawn and a simple glass lamp sat on the table, casting a transpherent shadow on the wood.

'Maybe when I am thirty.' Rowan carefully touched his forehead. Then his earing.

'I cannot believe my sensible betrothed and my son got body piercings,' Jiller sighed, watching his movement.

'I cannot believe it either. How did I let Allun talk me into this?'

'Jonn said the same thing.'

'He and Allun were not sober, Mother.'

'Thank goodness you were. Imagine if they had come home with hoops in their noses!'

'Or in their eyebrows!' They pictured it - and snorted into their hands.

'I was surprised when you came back to our house with those, but it is preferable to what happened the last time we were in Maris,' Jiller murmured. She stared at the short, jagged, pink scars littering Rowan's hands and forearms. Her voice was soft and mumbling. Her eyes were drooping.

'I wonder if earings will catch on? I never thought fish-scale hair clips would, but they did.'

'Annad's friends are interested,' Rowan yawned. 'So is Annad. She will remember tomorrow.'

'Oh dear,' Jiller said. She yawned.

'Time for bed, Rowan. It has been a long day.' Jiller blew out the lamp and left the table. Rowan followed her into the hallway.

'Goodnight, Rowan,' Jiller hugged him goodnight.

'Goodnight, Mother.'

XXX xxx XXX

People in the RR series speak a little more formally than us; did not, could not, will not. They use the conjoint words occasionally; didn't, couldn't, wouldn't, won't. I counted. Most times is in book 2. I'm such a loser! Xp

By the way, would anyone like to read an optional prequel about the trip to Maris?