On the Shore [original]

{For lindahoyland‘s prompt: reconciliation, caring, brothers}


On the beach far below, a pair of boys ran whooping through the spume and spray, driving a cacophony of sea birds bursting into the air before them. A few more years and they would be men, but for now they were young and full of exuberant joy.

On the cliff above, lying belly-down on the rock and mostly bare in the sun, sides almost touching despite the morning’s rising heat, a pair of men watched them go. In years past, they had also been young, but now they were weary and glad for rest from long strife.

“In my youth I sometimes wished for a sibling,” Iranan said, more to himself than his neighbor. “Though eventually I acquired enough cousins that I supposed they must nearly be the equivalent, despite the decades separating us.” Below, the running turned into an amiable scuffle, much to the birds’ relief. “Do you have none, Aramahin? I don’t recall being introduced to any.”

Beside him, Aramahin shifted so that points of contact were lost and made between them, shoulder and ribs and hip and thigh. “No,” he said at last, even as Iranan began to doubt the diplomacy of the question. “I had a sister, but she died in childbirth–and her husband was killed a month later, so their infant son came to my household.”

“Ah.” Iranan looked with more interest to the wrestling that still continued on the beach, both participants of which had now become liberally caked with sand and spume. “Seeing him grow so close with your own son, do you mourn your own childhood lack of a brother?”

Aramahin kept silent for a long moment, seemingly intent on the mock-violence below, but darting a glance over at Iranan, like a man checking that some precious object hasn’t wandered away. “Perhaps,” he said at last, “had I not a new-found cousin and new-won peace in which to come to know him.”

“Ah,” Iranan said again, and smiled with warmth to rival the sun’s.

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