Tales of Telcontar by lindahoyland
Summary:

 A collection of ficlets originally posted on the AA list and LJ now extended and polished.

A mixture of angst,fluff,humour and drama.

Further characters and catagories will be added together with the stories

 


Categories: Fourth Age - Post LOTR Characters: Aragorn, Arwen, Eldarion, Eowyn, Faramir, Imrahil, Merry, Original Character, Pippin
Genres: Angst, Drama, Humour
Language: English
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: King and Steward
Chapters: 86 Completed: No Word count: 96740 Read: 304076 Published: 09/22/07 Updated: 05/07/18
Story Notes:

With thanks to Raksha and Deandra for their editorial work, Deandra for suggesting the title and Michelle for the prompts that inspired these stories.

1. Morning has Broken by lindahoyland

2. All through the Night by lindahoyland

3. Music hath Charms by lindahoyland

4. Winter Wonderland by lindahoyland

5. The Gift of Dawn by lindahoyland

6. Partners in Crime by lindahoyland

7. Let Sleeping Kings lie by lindahoyland

8. More haste,less speed by lindahoyland

9. The Vase that was Broken by lindahoyland

10. Playing with Fire by lindahoyland

11. A Dainty Dish by lindahoyland

12. A Price above Rubies by lindahoyland

13. Seeking the Sun by lindahoyland

14. Hunger and sleepiness recur by lindahoyland

15. A bush suppos’d a bear! by lindahoyland

16. Enough is equal to a feast. by lindahoyland

17. The child that is not clean and neat by lindahoyland

18. The Storm by lindahoyland

19. Roses have Thorns by lindahoyland

20. Love never ends by lindahoyland

21. Star of Wonder by lindahoyland

22. The Gate of the Year by lindahoyland

23. Strong and of good courage by lindahoyland

24. By the River by lindahoyland

25. A Day at the Houses by lindahoyland

26. Hunting the Dragon by lindahoyland

27. The Silver Tree by lindahoyland

28. Waters of Life by lindahoyland

29. A Gift For Faramir by lindahoyland

30. Before it was broken by lindahoyland

31. Be Fruitful and Multiply by lindahoyland

32. Warmth by lindahoyland

33. New Growth by lindahoyland

34. Bedtime Stories by lindahoyland

35. The Surprise by lindahoyland

36. Healing Vapours by lindahoyland

37. The Seeing Stone by lindahoyland

38. The Great Race of Rohan by lindahoyland

39. When Accidents Happen by lindahoyland

40. Chivalry by lindahoyland

41. A Narrow escape by lindahoyland

42. Weapons of the Valar by lindahoyland

43. Reversal of Fortune by lindahoyland

44. Private Lives by lindahoyland

45. If winter comes, can spring be far behind by lindahoyland

46. Son of the Stars by lindahoyland

47. Doubts by lindahoyland

48. A man Apart by lindahoyland

49. Many a Slip by lindahoyland

50. Loyalty by lindahoyland

51. The Valley of Tears by lindahoyland

52. Fit for a Queen by lindahoyland

53. A Tale of Two Battles by lindahoyland

54. The Family Tree by lindahoyland

55. Bread of Life by lindahoyland

56. Messin' about on the River by lindahoyland

57. The Hawk and the Horselord by lindahoyland

58. Many Names and Guises by lindahoyland

59. The Reluctant Scholar by lindahoyland

60. Keeping Cool by lindahoyland

61. Relief by lindahoyland

62. The Shining Path of Peace by lindahoyland

63. Sights best left Unseen by lindahoyland

64. If Winter Comes by lindahoyland

65. I do by lindahoyland

66. Many a Slip by lindahoyland

67. A Tale of two Dragons by lindahoyland

68. Fit for a Queen by lindahoyland

69. When All other Lights go Out by lindahoyland

70. Under the Shadow of this Red Rock by lindahoyland

71. Wealth and Want by lindahoyland

72. Curiosity killed the Cat by lindahoyland

73. Old Strider by lindahoyland

74. The Great Escape by lindahoyland

75. Tales after Dinner by lindahoyland

76. Love's Labour by lindahoyland

77. Mists of time by lindahoyland

78. The Trespasser by lindahoyland

79. Circle of Faith by lindahoyland

80. Eclipse of Reason by lindahoyland

81. The Darkening of Valinor by lindahoyland

82. The Kindler by lindahoyland

83. The Dark of the Moon by lindahoyland

84. The prince's portrait by lindahoyland

85. Night Terrors by lindahoyland

86. The May Cup by lindahoyland

Morning has Broken by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

Morning has broken like the first morning,
blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning!
Praise for them, springing, fresh from the Word! - Eleanor Farjeon (1881–1965)

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate.

Aragorn rose silently from the bed so as not to disturb his sleeping wife. He stood for a moment looking down at her in the pale light of dawn, which streamed through the window.

Her beauty always made him catch his breath. Now with her cheeks were slightly flushed with sleep, framed by her flowing dark hair, black against her white nightgown and the pillow, Arwen looked fairer than ever. He was a privileged man indeed to have her to wife. Sometimes, he could hardly believe his good fortune that he was free to awaken every day beside her.

He crept into the adjacent dressing room, almost stubbing his bare toe on the washstand as he did so. Faramir’s home in Ithilien was still relatively unfamiliar to him; as was the freedom it offered to escape briefly from his royal duties.

Quickly, he splashed water on his hands and face then changed out of his night attire, donning his oldest riding clothes.  He paused to kiss his wife lightly on the cheek. Arwen stirred slightly, smiling in her sleep. Aragorn tiptoed softly from the room.

The kitchen was already a hive of activity. A young maidservant brought a mug of ale and a plate of bread and cheese at his request, looking only slightly surprised when he elected to sit and eat it at the kitchen table.

A few minutes later Éowyn appeared, accompanied by a bleary- eyed Faramir. The servants seemed accustomed to seeing their lady at this hour, less so their lord. Aragorn rose to embrace his friends.

“I often ride at dawn, unlike my sleepy husband,” said Éowyn, taking a bite of crusty bread, still warm from the oven. “I breakfast here in the kitchen as I did in Meduseld. It is the warmest place to be at dawn.”

“It promises to be another hot day,” said Aragorn. ”I am glad we are riding before the sun is too high in the sky.”

”A pity the Queen does not wish to join us,” Faramir lamented. ”She has told me she loves the countryside.”

“My beloved Undómiel prefers the evening,” said the King. ”She will just about be ready to eat breakfast when we return. I hope to ride with her under the stars one night while we are here.”

“It will be evening today ere we set out if we do not hurry,” said Éowyn, tapping her foot impatiently, having already finished her makeshift breakfast.

The three friends made their way to the stables, where dismissing the grooms, they saddled their own mounts.

They rode across the lush countryside, east into the sunrise. Like a blood red ruby, the sun crept above the horizon painting the sky in glorious hues of pink and mauve. The dew sparkled on the grass and the air felt fresh and sweet.

The breeze blew Aragorn’s hair behind him as he rode. He laughed out loud for sheer joy. On a morning such as this, the ranger in him could leave the King's cares behind and take pleasure in the bright clear dawn, if only for a little while.  It was enough.

A/N This is an extended version of a story written for the prompt “Morning” on the AA Discussion list.

 

End Notes:

A/N This is an extended version of a story written for the prompt “Morning” on the AA Discussion list.

 

All through the Night by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate

While the moon her watch is keeping
All through the night
While the weary world is sleeping
All through the night
O'er thy spirit gently stealing
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy feeling
All through the night. -Harold Boulton

With thanks to Raksha.

Dedicated to Julia

Aragorn and Arwen fondly surveyed their sleeping son.

“He grows more like you every day, Estel,” said Arwen contentedly; observing, beneath the roundness of the sleeping baby's face, the hint of the father’s high cheekbones and strong chin.

“At least he has your nose, vanimelda,” the King replied dryly. “Are you ready to leave now?”

“I hope Eldarion will not be afraid if he awakens and we are not there,” Arwen fretted. "He is not accustomed to being in Ithilien. Everything will still be strange to him.”

“He has his nurse and knows Faramir and Éowyn. They will take good care of him,” Aragorn reassured her.

The Queen pressed a final gentle kiss to her son’s forehead before following her husband outside to the stables where their horses were already saddled, awaiting their riders.

The full moon bathed the countryside in a gentle silver light. The clear sky was dotted with a myriad of twinkling stars.

“How fair the stars are here!” Arwen exclaimed. “They always seem slightly veiled in the City.”

They urged their horses forward, savouring the feel of the wind in their hair. The fresh night breeze carried the sweet scent of wild roses.

Aragorn led the way uphill until they came to a stream he had seen with Faramir and Éowyn that morning. It rippled over the rocks before cascading down the hillside.

“How beautiful! The water is sweet music to my ears!” Arwen exclaimed, dismounting from her horse and kneeling beside the stream. ”It reminds me of Imladris. I could hear the waterfall every morning when I awoke.”

“Do you miss your home?” Aragorn enquired anxiously, joining her by the bank.

“You and Eldarion are my home now,” she replied, kissing him tenderly on the lips. “As the long years passed, my heart remained untouched, I feared that I might never know the bliss of marriage and motherhood. Then when I saw you in Lothlórien my heart was changed . At last, I knew hope.” She looked up at the stars. “See how our forefather, Eärendil smiles down upon us tonight!”

The horses cropped the fresh grass while Aragorn drew Arwen in a close embrace, whispering soft words of love in her ear.

A mother badger and her cubs emerged from their set amongst the trees, oblivious of the two-legged interlopers. The mother and the little ones drank from the stream. Then the cubs started to play, chasing and tumbling on the bank. The King and Queen of the West watched the badger family, entranced, until an owl's hoot caused the mother to hurry her brood back to their den.

Long they sat there, watching the stars and listening to the sweet song of the nightingale.

End Notes:

The events take place later in the day after “Morning has Broken.”

Some of these Tales of Telcontar will be multi chaptered, depending on what ideas come to me, though each chapter should be a complete ficlet in itself.

Music hath Charms by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are property of the Tolkien estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story. 

Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, - Congreve.

“How could you, Estel?” Arwen demanded the moment Aragorn entered her sitting room. The Queen’s beautiful face was alight with fury. Beside her, stood an equally irate Éowyn.

“I am sorry, vanimelda. The council meeting went on longer than we expected. Prince Imrahil wanted to discuss the coastal fortifications after the debate on trade was over. I completely forgot we planned to take the children to see the jugglers, as did Faramir.”

“This is the third time this month you have both forgotten a promise you made,” Éowyn said sternly. “I suggest you tell Faramir that if he wants company this evening, he can stay with you. I am remaining here with the Queen.”

“As for you, Estel, I have no wish for your company at supper tonight. You can dine alone in your chambers,” Arwen said haughtily. “ Eldarion and Elestelle were very upset that their fathers were not there to take them out as you promised.”

“I am sorry,” Aragorn repeated. ”I did not wish to cause pain to you or the children. Next time, I will insist the meeting concludes at the proper time.”

“You promised me that last time,” Arwen said coldly, unmoved by her husband’s attempts to apologise.

Knowing it was pointless to argue with either lady when they were so angry, a crestfallen Aragorn went in search of his Steward. He found Faramir sitting in his apartments looking equally despondent, having found an irate letter left for him by his angry wife.

“Arwen is as angry as your lady,” Aragorn explained. “She told me to seek your company and dine in my own rooms with you tonight and no doubt sleep there too!”

“Éowyn bids me do the same,” said Faramir. He glumly followed the King to his chambers.

The two men found Aragorn’s rooms to be cold and uninviting. The King only used them occasionally and the servants had had no time to prepare them for his use. It took only a moment for both men to decide to seek solace in a tavern on one of the lower levels.

“It is good for a King to mix freely with his people and learn their needs,” said Aragorn, by way of excuse. He rummaged amongst his clothing for old cloaks and tunics for himself and Faramir.

“Indeed so,” said Faramir “Our wives can hardly complain since they deny us their company tonight! The Silver Crown usually has good ale and a warm fire to sit by. I used to go there sometimes with Boromir when we were both off duty.”

000

The two men were soon sitting in the cosy inn in the sixth circle, their hoods drawn around their faces to avoid recognition. They sipped a mug of ale apiece, wondering why the tavern was so packed that night.

“Have you come to hear Minohtar play?” asked the innkeeper, bringing them a plate of crusty bread and cheeses.

Aragorn and Faramir merely nodded, not wanting to betray their ignorance of the name.

A hush fell over the gathering, when in the far corner; a man picked up a lute and began to sing. His voice was unexceptional in contrast to his skills with the instrument. The haunting song of love and longing he played, brought tears to the listeners’ eyes. He next performed a familiar ballad, which most of the people joined in with, including Aragorn and Faramir.

“You two have fine voices,” said a serving girl, coming to refill their glasses. “No woman could resist either of you, were you serenade her!”

Aragorn snorted.

“That could be a good idea,” Faramir said thoughtfully, tossing the girl a coin for the ale.

“Why not? We could but try!” said the King, draining his glass and feeling somewhat more confident. "Maybe Arwen will recall how I was singing the Lay of Lúthien on the day we first met?"

King and Steward hurried back to the Citadel and positioned themselves outside Arwen’s sitting room window and began to sing.

“ O, thou my glorious Evenstar, I have always gladly greeted you. This heart has never betrayed you!” sang Aragorn’s rich bass voice in Quenya, so that the servants would not understand.

“Éowyn, fairer than the sun, glad was I when your hand I won!” sang Faramir in Rohirric; his warm baritone blending nicely with Aragorn’s deeper voice.

The servants hovered around, enjoying the impromptu concert.

Suddenly the door opened and Arwen appeared. “You are just in time to read Eldarion a bedtime story,” she said smiling and kissing her husband’s cheek. “Faramir, Éowyn is just coming.”

Aragorn embraced his wife. ”Will you forgive me, beloved?” he asked.

Arwen’s tender kiss to his lips was the only answer he needed.

King and Steward exchanged relieved glances as they bade one another goodnight.

000

Faramir carried Elestelle in his arms as he walked back to his apartments with his wife.

“I wish you would sing for us more often,” said Éowyn. ”You have a beautiful voice, which I love to hear.”

The Steward at once began a lullaby for his daughter. The little girl listened entranced then fell soundly asleep.

“That is amazing!” exclaimed Éowyn. “She has been fretful all evening.”

 “It is said that the Valar created Arda itself from music. So maybe magic is indeed contained in a song?” Faramir mused.

“Only if the singer has sufficient skill,” said Éowyn, smiling at her husband.

End Notes:

A/N. Aragorn’s song is from Wagner’s Tannhäuser. This is an extended version of a story written for the prompt “Music” on the AA Discussion list.

Winter Wonderland by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

Winter Wonderland 


The Characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate


With thanks to Raksha and Deandra


 


When it snows, ain't it thrilling,


Though your nose gets a chilling


We'll frolic and play, the Eskimo way,


walking in a winter wonderland. – Smith and Barnard

One cold winter’s morning and the King and Queen of the Reunited Kingdom lay curled in each other’s arms, loth to leave their warm bed. For once, Aragorn had no official duties until the afternoon and could rise at a leisurely pace.

“The baby is kicking,” said Arwen, referring to the child she was expecting in a few weeks’ time. “Eldarion will have a lively playmate!”

“How blessed I am to have you, our son and another little one soon,” said Aragorn kissing her tenderly.

“I hope we can fill our home with children to share our love with,” said Arwen.

A tap came on their bedroom door disturbing their peace.

“My lord, my lady!” a servant called. “Prince Eldarion is upset and his nurse requests that you come.”

Aragorn slid out of bed, pulling a thick robe over his nightshirt. “You stay there, my love, “ he said. “ I will fetch our son to us.”

Aragorn found his four-year-old son kicking and screaming in the hands of his nurse.  

 “What is the meaning of this, ion-nîn?” the King asked sternly.

“I want to go out and play in the snow and nanny won’t let me!” Eldarion raged. “It isn’t fair! I’ve never seen snow before and I don't want to stay in bed!  I won't!"  He stomped a bare foot defiantly.

“I deemed it unwise to expose the Prince to such weather this soon after a cold,” the woman replied in a weary voice.  Mistress Idril had joined the household three months past, after Eldarion's beloved first nanny had grown too old and frail to keep up with the child.  It seemed this woman, the sister of the governess of Hurin's grand-daughters, was not up to the task either, though she was but in her middle years. 

“Come here, Eldarion! “ Aragorn ordered. His heir shuffled over to him, small hands clenched into fists.  Aragorn placed his hand on the boy’s forehead.  "Hmm, he seems well enough. Has he coughed or sneezed this morning?”

“No, my lord, not since last Tuesday,” said the nanny.

“Some fresh air should do him good then so long as he is warmly dressed, “ Aragorn said briskly. “Eldarion, tell Mistress Idril that you are sorry and then I will take you outside after breakfast.” He decided to discuss with Arwen whether it was time to find a nanny better able to control her young charge’s temper and less eager to mollycoddle him. He had no desire for his heir to grow up wilful and over cosseted.

“I am sorry,” Eldarion said obediently with a polite bow.

“I will take him to his mother now,” said the King.

Aragorn swept up the child in his arms and carried him back to the bedchamber where a somewhat anxious Arwen awaited them.

“What ails him? Is he ill?” the Queen enquired, putting her arms around her young son when Aragorn placed him in the bed between them. “What is wrong, ion nîn?” she enquired of Eldarion.

“I’m going to see the snow!” the boy exclaimed joyfully. “Nanny would let me go out but ada says I can!”

Aragorn laughed. “His nanny feared it would be bad for his health, but snow never did me any harm as a boy. It seems wondrous when you are young, but not when you have to travel long distances in it,“ he said. “You were just a baby the last time it snowed in Gondor. It used to snow every winter in the North where naneth and I grew up.”

“What is snow made of?” Eldarion asked.

“It is frozen rain. Water turns to ice when it is very cold,” Arwen explained.

“You can play lots of special games in the snow,” said the King. ”I will show you as soon as we have dressed and eaten our breakfast.”

Eldarion beamed. It was not often his father had time to spend the morning with him

**

After breakfast, Aragorn and Eldarion, both warmly clothed, went outside into the Royal Family’s private gardens. The sun was now shining and the white covered garden looked quite magical. The snow shimmered like diamonds in the winter sunshine.

Clutching tightly to his father’s hand, Eldarion walked through the snow as gingerly as a cat that disliked getting its feet wet. The young Prince was somewhat reassured when he found he could walk on it without falling. His father scooped some of the snow up to reveal that underneath; the grass was still there.

“When I was your age, I loved the snow,“ Aragorn told his son. "Sometimes I would be excused lessons and allowed to play outside making snowballs."

“What is a snowball?” asked Eldarion.

“I will show you.” The King formed a handful of snow into a ball and threw it at a tree. Rather wistfully, he recalled all the times when as a grown man, he had gained a respite from his cares as Chieftain by engaging in a lively snowball fight with Halbarad. He missed his friend and kinsman still, though Faramir had filled the yawning gap left in his heart. He could hardly engage in a snowball fight with his Steward, though. There were always watching eyes and wagging tongues ever on the look out for behaviour considered unseemly for a King or a Steward in Gondor. He only dared to be less than regal during his times away from the Citadel. He missed the simplicity of the North with its lack of stifling court etiquette.

Just then, Faramir and his daughter Elestelle joined them in response to a message Aragorn had sent. The Steward and his family were staying in the Citadel for the Mettarë celebrations. Elestelle ran towards Aragorn. He scooped her up in his arms and hugged her. The little girl smiled happily, looking delightful in a blue  fur trimmed cloak.

Eldarion scowled. ”Girls!” he muttered under his breath.

Aragorn put Elestelle down and turned to speak to Faramir.

The moment his father’s back was turned, Eldarion scooped up the snow as his father had shown him and hurled it at Elestelle’s back. It hit her on the shoulder and splattered all over her pretty cloak. Elestelle’s lower lip trembled, but she maintained a composure worthy of a daughter of two great Houses.

“Boys!” she said with all the scorn she could muster.

“Eldarion!” chided his father, “That was very naughty of you. We shall return indoors if you do not behave!”

“I just wanted to play,” said Eldarion. ”I’m sorry, ada.”

“You told me of making a snowman in your youth, mellon nîn,” Faramir said to the King. “ Could we make one with our children?”

“An excellent idea!” enthused the King and set to work with a will on the body, helped by his son, while Faramir and his daughter made the head. Both children worked happily, their earlier quarrel quickly forgotten

The fathers then took their children to the kitchens to ask the servants for coal and a carrot. The little ones watched wide-eyed as their fathers gave the snowman eyes, a nose and a mouth. They then gathered twigs to make him some arms.

“Doesn’t he need clothes to keep him warm?” asked Elestelle.

“He has to be cold or he will melt and turn back into water,” Faramir explained.

“Poor snowman!” said Elestelle sadly.

Aragorn and Faramir exchanged glances. It was maybe time to take the children back indoors before they became too attached to their snowman that would most likely be melted by the morrow.

Just then, an older girl came running towards them. It was Faramir’s niece. “Uncle Faramir, Strider!” Elbeth exclaimed. “ Aunt Éowyn said I might miss a Quenya lesson and play in the snow for a while. Their Nurses are waiting for Eldarion and Elestelle with hot milk and buns.”

The younger children made only token protests at being taken back indoors. Their hands, feet and noses were starting to feel cold.

While the two men were absent, Elbeth made two snowballs then concealed herself behind the snowman.

 As soon as the King and Steward came into sight, she hurled snowballs in quick succession at them, hitting both with deadly accuracy.

“Elbeth!” exclaimed Faramir, slightly winded from the impact of the snowball.

“This calls for revenge!” Aragorn exclaimed, hurling a snowball back at Elbeth. She ducked and successfully avoided it. Grabbing another handful of snow, she threw another at the King. This time he dodged it and it hit Faramir instead.

All thoughts of decorum forgotten, the two men replied in kind. A fierce snowball fight was soon in progress as they strove to hurl snowballs at Elbeth and each other.

From an upstairs window, Arwen watched smiling as the three outside frolicked in the snow as if they were all as young as Elbeth. It seemed that even Kings and Stewards remained little boys at heart.”You will be born into a happy home,” she whispered tenderly to her unborn child.

End Notes:

A/N Wishing all my readers who celebrate it, a peaceful and Happy Christmas.


This is an extended version of a ficlet written for the prompt “Snow” in the AA Group


Arwen is pregnant with Farawyn who appears in some of my stories.


Elbeth is Boromir’s daughter by a kitchen maid. She first appears in “Shadow and Thought.”

The Gift of Dawn by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate.

The Gift of Dawn

With grateful thanks to Raksha.

“Wake up, ion nîn!” Aragorn called, gently shaking the sleeping child.

“Ada? Why are you waking me?” Eldarion sat up. “It is still dark.”

“I want to show you something. Dress quickly, there is no need to wash or comb your hair.”

Eldarion beamed. The washing of his ears, face and hands by his insistent nanny was a morning chore he would gladly avoid. Eldarion scrambled out of bed and pulled on the clothes his father held out to him. Aragorn helped him fasten the laces in the dim light of a single candle.

The King took his son by the hand and led him through the halls of wood and stone, where the royal family were spending a few pleasant days with the Prince and Princess of Ithilien. They passed a few guards, and a bleary-eyed maidservant beginning chores in the kitchens; but most of the great house was still and silent.

“Where are we going, ada?” asked Eldarion.

“To the stables, for Iavas has given birth to her foal,” his father told him, leading the little boy outside to the spacious and comfortable building where the horses were kept.

Lamps illuminated the end stall. Faramir and Éowyn stood in the shadows, keeping a watch over Faramir’s chestnut mare.

Iavas stood over a small foal whose coat was still damp from birth. The delivery had been difficult, keeping Éowyn and Faramir from their beds for most of the night. Aragorn had kept watch with the Prince and Princess, using his healing hands to calm the mare. Like her mother, the foal was chestnut with a white blaze. The infant had already tried twice to rise on her slender, wobbly legs; but had not yet managed to stand.

Still holding Eldarion’s hand, Aragorn petted the foal’s head, “ Come now, you can do it!” the King coaxed the newborn, then stood back.

The foal whickered, then began to rise, the long legs trembling with the effort until she stood up on them. She did not fall! Eldarion watched in wonder as the little animal tottered to her mother’s side. Iavas nuzzled her baby affectionately.

“She is beautiful!” Eldarion exclaimed. ”What is her name?”

“You may choose, for she is to be your horse once you are both old enough,” said Faramir. “We thought it was worth waking you early to see her stand for the first time.”

Eldarion’s face lit up. He rushed to hug the Steward. “Thank you, Uncle Faramir, I think I will call her Amaurea, since ada woke me so early to greet her. How clever she is to be able to walk so soon! My sister couldn’t walk till she was a year old!”

“Horses grow up quickly, like kittens and puppies,” Aragorn explained.

“I wish I could grow up so quickly!” Eldarion lamented. “Then I would be tall and strong like you, ada, and a Ranger, and I wouldn’t need any more lessons!”

Faramir chuckled.

"You would have to take many lessons to become a Ranger," his father told Eldarion solemnly. "You would have little time to play."

Eldarion frowned, considering the information.

"I will take you back inside now,” said Aragorn. "Iavas should have some peace and quiet while she gives Amaurea her breakfast.”

The boy cast a final thrilled glance at his new treasure, who was now greedily suckling her mother's milk.

Eldarion felt like he was walking on air as he accompanied his father back to the house. The sun rose in the Eastern horizon, promising a glorious day.

End Notes:

This is an extended version of a story written for the prompt “Early” on the AA Discussion list.

I hope to post more of these short stories soon.

"Amaurea" means “Early Day” in Quenya. Iavas is Faramir’s chestnut mare, a wedding gift from Éomer .She was introduced in “Shadow and Thought”.
Partners in Crime by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

Partners in crime

A Tale of Telcontar

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

With grateful thanks to Raksha

Aragorn grimly surveyed the scene of chaos. The trade agreement on which he had laboured all morning was scattered across the floor, the parchment torn to shreds.

Eldarion’s puppy, Nimrodel stood beside Aragorn's desk, wagging her tail.

Aragorn called a servant and bade her summon his son.

A few minutes later Eldarion arrived. “You wanted to see me, ada?” he asked innocently. “ Ah, there is Nimrodel; I could not find her!” The puppy ran to him and licked his hand.

“And how did she come to be in my study?” Aragorn asked severely.

“Um, maybe the door was open,” Eldarion said evasively. He looked down, unable to meet his father’s stern gaze.

“A dog cannot open a closed door,” said Aragorn. “Look at me, Eldarion! There is nought to gain by studying your feet.”

“She must um have um followed me in here. I wanted to look at your model soldiers.” He gestured towards a collection of ornate bejewelled warriors that a visiting envoy had given his father.

“I have told you are not allowed in my study without permission,” said Aragorn. “ Just look at all the damage the pup has done! An important treaty – ruined!”

“Bad, bad dog!” Eldarion shouted at Nimrodel. The puppy whined and her tail drooped between her legs.

“You should not blame her,” Aragorn admonished his son.

“She chewed up your papers,” Eldarion replied, a trifle sulkily.

“Puppies do chew things, it is their nature,” said the King. ”However, if you had not disobeyed me by coming in here, you would not have led Nimrodel into trouble. Take her outside, then return and I will decide best how to punish you.”

“I am sorry, ada.” Eldarion blinked away a tear. He led Nimrodel from the room, his eyes downcast. It was hard to tell whether boy or pup looked guiltier.

Just then Faramir arrived, a parchment tucked under his arm. ”Whatever has happened here?” the Steward asked in dismay.

“Nimrodel decided to chew up the trade treaty with Rhûn,” Aragorn told him.” I had just spent three hours working on it.

“Maybe she is too high-spirited a pup for the Citadel,” Faramir lamented. "I regret not having chosen a quieter pup for the lad, but Nimrodel was the fairest and strongest of the litter."

“We would not be without her, mellon nîn, so do not blame yourself. She is a good-natured creature, just mischievous, as all younglings are. But what brings you here? I thought you were occupied with the City renovations today.”

“I am, but I thought of some new details to add to the treaty.” Faramir spread his parchment on the King’s desk. Aragorn perused it carefully. His features slowly relaxed into a smile.

“This treaty is far better worded than the one Nimrodel chewed!” the King beamed, clapping Faramir on the shoulder affectionately.

A few minutes later, Eldarion returned in a state of growing apprehension. “What is your will, ada?” he asked.

“Do I have your word you will not come in here without permission again?”

“Yes, ada, I promise.”

“I want you to sweep up this mess,” Aragorn said sternly. Then he smiled. ”Later, if you do it well, I will tell you the story of Huan, the greatest hound ever to live."

“Thank you ada!” Eldarion embraced his father then gladly set to work.

Outside in her kennel, as if sensing the young Prince’s relief, Nimrodel wagged her tail.

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End Notes:

A/N This is an extended version of a story written for the prompt “Guilty” on the AA Discussion list.

Let Sleeping Kings lie by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate

With thanks to Raksha and Julia

Released early from his lessons because his tutor was unwell, a bored Eldarion made his way to his father’s study. Ada had said he was working on some dull but important documents. Maybe he could be persuaded to play a game with the collection of model soldiers that Eldarion so liked instead for a little while? The brightly coloured and bejewelled models, a gift from a visiting ambassador, held a great fascination for the young prince. Ada had confided in him that playing with model soldiers was much more fun than working even when you were very old, as his father undoubtedly was.

Eldarion passed the guard at the end of the corridor, who smiled and greeted him.

The boy tapped on the door of the study, but received no reply. Strange, for he was certain ada was planning to spend all afternoon working there. He listened carefully. A strange and raucous sound suddenly emanated from the room.

Although he was forbidden to enter without permission, Eldarion opened the door. 

Aragorn was slumped back in his chair with his mouth wide open, snoring loudly, his papers scattered around him.

Eldarion was about to creep quietly away when his little sister, having escaped the care of her nurse, toddled past him through the open door and ran to her father. She was clutching a doll almost as big as herself.

“Ada, look at my dolly, she has a pretty pink bonnet and shawl!” Farawyn cried. (

Aragorn’s only reply was an especially loud snore, which made both children jump.

“What is wrong with ada?”  Farawyn asked, her lower lip trembling.

“He is just asleep,” her brother replied. “We must not wake him or he might be cross with us as we are not supposed to be in here.”

“I will leave dolly’s new bonnet and shawl for him to see,” said Farawyn. “They will keep him warm. Naneth says people get cold if they fall asleep without a cover over them.”

The children tiptoed from the room, quietly closing the door behind them.

***

A little later, the Queen went in search of her husband. “Will you have tea with me, my love?” she asked brightly as she entered the room. She then caught sight of Aragorn and burst out laughing. Stifling her mirth, she hurried off in the direction of Faramir’s study.

The Steward was engrossed in a document on grain tariffs when Arwen entered his room.

“Faramir, you must come with me at once to Estel!” Arwen demanded.

“My lady! Is the King unwell?” Faramir asked anxiously, springing to his feet.

“No, nothing is wrong. I just want you to come and see him,” Arwen replied laughing at the very thought of what she had just witnessed.

Queen and Steward made their way to the King’s study, where they both stood, shaking with mirth.

“I wonder how many flies he has caught? Or has the colour of that shawl frightened them away?” Arwen giggled.

“We should wake him,” said Faramir. ”What if the servants come in?”

“Dolly is cold and wants her bonnet and shawl back!” announced the Farawyn, running into the room.

“Lady Farawyn, come here!” called the little girl’s nurse from along the corridor.

Arwen rushed out and called to the servant. “I will look after my daughter now. You may go Miriel.”

“Yes, my lady,” said the nurse curtsying. She disappeared in the direction from which she had come.

Arwen returned to the study just in time to see her daughter remove the doll's frilly bonnet from Aragorn’s head and bright pink shawl from his chest. The little girl then kissed her father.

Aragorn blinked and open his eyes. ”What is the matter?” he asked a trifle tetchily.

“You were snoring when I came to ask you if you would take tea with me,” said Arwen sweetly. “Faramir is invited too.”

“I do not snore!” said the King. “Ada does not snore, Farawyn.”

“Dolly snores then, “said Farawyn wrapping the pink shawl around her plaything.

Unable to feel out of sorts any longer, Aragorn picked up his little daughter and hugged her. "Bring dolly to tea, there might be some of her favourite cakes to eat," Aragorn said smiling. 

"Girls!" snorted Eldarion.

Queen and Steward smiled at each other. The afternoon’s entertainment had been most amusing.

 

End Notes:

A/N This is an extended version of a story written for the prompt “Entertainment” on the AA Discussion list.

In my long stories, Aragorn is notorious for his snoring.

Tolkien said Aragorn had daughters but did not name them; Farawyn’s name is my invention.

More haste,less speed by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

More Haste, less speed

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.

With thanks to Raksha.

“How I long to see Arwen and Eldarion again!” Aragorn exclaimed to Faramir as the two men rode abreast through the lower levels of the City. They had been away from Minas Tirith for several days touring the outlying fiefdoms. After what had seemed endless sessions of attending feasts in their honour and judging petty grievances, they were glad to be home again.

“I can hardly wait to see Éowyn, Elestelle and Elbeth,” Faramir said longingly, wishing it had been possible to ride through the City unrecognised, but knowing it was impossible when followed by their guards. He paused to smilingly accept a bunch of flowers offered by an old woman. Meanwhile, a man lifted up a child to see Aragorn and receive the King’s blessing.

They had reached the market, which was even more crowded than the rest of the City with citizens milling around the varied array of stalls.

“It is good to see the market flourishing,” Faramir said in a tone loud enough for the surrounding people to hear, knowing some comment was expected of him.

Aragorn forced himself to smile at his subjects, ardently wishing it were not a market day so that they could travel at a faster pace. A sudden thought struck him. He had returned without suitable gifts for his wife and child! King and Steward had been showered with hand woven blankets, baskets and gifts of delicacies, but none of those would delight either Arwen or Eldarion.

His eye was caught by a stall a few paces ahead, which sold colourful jewellery and trinkets.

“I need to buy a gift for Arwen. Maybe this stall will have something she might like?” Aragorn remarked to his Steward.

“I bought new saddles for Éowyn and Elbeth in Lamedon and a doll for Elestelle,” Faramir said rather smugly, dismounting together with his King. “It was while you were healing a child with a fever.”

“My Lord King and my Lord Steward!” The stallholder bowed low, his eyes alight with awe and joy. “This is a great honour indeed, that you should visit my humble stall. What may I show you? I have amethyst and topaz, tourmaline and tiger’s eye, agate and amber, rose quartz and...”

“I will take this, please.” Aragorn gestured towards a pretty necklace of roughly polished amethysts. Arwen had fairer jewels by far, but he felt she would like these simple, colourful stones that many of the common folk of Gondor wore. His keen eyes scanned the stall for a gift for Eldarion. He spotted some carvings of horses in an onyx type mineral. ”I should also like one of the model horses.”

“They are yours,” smiled the stallholder. “They are far from my best pieces, though. I keep those under the counter in case of thieves.

Before Aragorn could say anything, the man had dived under the stall and started rummaging in some boxes.

“See, I have some river pearl necklaces,” said the merchant placing them on the stall. He disappeared under it again. “And silver bracelets.”

“They are very nice but I just..” The trader had vanished under his stall again before Aragorn could finish his sentence. The King struggled to hide his impatience, not wanting to hurt the man’s feelings. Beside him, Faramir tapped his foot.

“I have some silver brooches carved, I believe, by Dwarves here somewhere,” said the man. “If you would just wait one moment.” He pulled out another box and looked inside.

“Not today, thank you, good merchant,” Aragorn said in desperation as about forty brooches of dubious workmanship were presented for his inspection. ”How much do I owe you for the necklace and the horse?”

“They are a gift, my Lord King,” said the trader. “I require no payment. They are but trinkets!”

Aragorn knew to refuse would be an insult.

“Thank you,” he smiled. ”I will take this too.” He selected the nearest brooch, wanting to give the man some money for his wares. His shabby clothing suggested he did not earn a great deal selling his simple jewellery. The wealthy people of Minas Tirith had somewhat more elaborate tastes.

“But my, lord, that one is far from being the fairest! “ the merchant protested. “How about this brooch set with a sapphire, or this one inlaid with pearl?”

“I will take the pearl one,” Aragorn said firmly.

“You have not yet seen my finest necklaces,” the trader said eagerly. “I have some designs inspired by Elven-craft.”

“I am sure they are beautiful,” Aragorn said tactfully. He espied a tiger’s eye pendant that he was certain would appeal to Elbeth. “I will have that pendant and that is all.” His patience exhausted, he finally resorted to the tone of command he used as Chieftain and King.

“Yes, my lord!” The man looked startled.

Aragorn softened his words with a smile as he handed the man a handful of coins, far more than the purchases were worth. With a sigh of relief he remounted his horse.

000

A little while later, having stabled their horses, King and Steward were finally on the way to their apartments.

“At last I shall see Arwen and Eldarion!” Aragorn said joyfully.

“I feared you would never escape that merchant,” Faramir said dryly.

“So did I,” the King replied. “Greetings, Lady Morwen!” He smiled at Arwen’s lady in waiting as she passed him, her head dipped in a respectful curtsy.

“Greetings, my lord.”

“How fare my wife and son?” the King asked.

“They are well, sire,” the woman replied. “ The Queen has just left to visit the market together with the Lady Éowyn and the children. She has given me the rest of the day off as she expects to be gone for several hours.” She hurried on her way, oblivious to the dismayed expressions of the two impatient husbands and fathers.

Alas, all their haste had been in vain.

End Notes:

A/N

This is an extended version of a ficlet written for the prompt “Impatience” on the AA List.

The Vase that was Broken by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been,nor will be made from this story.

The Vase that was Broken

With grateful thanks to Raksha

 

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been,nor will be made from this story.

“Tell me a story, ada, please!” Eldarion pleaded. He was sitting with his father in his mother’s sitting room eating his tea. The Queen had taken Farawyn to visit Éowyn for a few days and the young prince was bored.

“What sort of a story?” asked Aragorn.

“A tale of your battles and brave deeds,” said Eldarion.

The King began to tell his son about how they had fought the orcs and the cave- troll in Moria, using his spoon to illustrate how he had wielded Andúril. Before long, father and son had risen from the table and were mock-fighting enthusiastically.

A sudden loud crash brought the game to an abrupt halt.

“Oh, no; we broke naneth’s vase!” Eldarion exclaimed.

Aragorn surveyed the scene in horror. All of Arwen’s vases looked much alike to him. He seemed to recall that this was a special one; a family heirloom that had belonged to Celeborn and Galadriel and had been made for them before the breaking of Beleriand. He gingerly picked up the fragments.

Eldarion frowned. "Naneth will be cross." He looked up at Aragorn, his small face earnest. "I did not mean to break so old a thing, truly, ada."

Aragorn caressed the child's tousled black hair. “ It was not your fault, ion nîn,” he reassured his son. "I should have known better than to mimic a battle with you in Naneth's sitting room. Let us send for Uncle Faramir and see if he can help.”

The Steward, who was working late to allow Aragorn to spend more time with Eldarion, appeared within a few minutes and inspected the damage. “ I fear it is beyond repair,” he said. ”At least it does not look to be very valuable.”

“It is!” Aragorn contradicted. “ It is Elven workmanship dating from the First Age. It had pride of place in my lady’s room.”

“I have rarely been in your lady’s private rooms, so had little chance to appreciate its beauty,” Faramir said diplomatically. “ I suggest we summon the City’s craftsmen and find a vase of equal beauty ere she returns.”

“A good idea, mellon nîn, always you think of something!” said Aragorn, clapping his friend on the shoulder.

The King’s enthusiasm for the plan abated somewhat after spending much of the day inspecting the wares of a seemingly endless procession of craftsmen, all of whom had dozens of vases to show him. Aragorn’s head began to ache at the sight of each additional vessel of silver or gold or multi-coloured glass. Eventually, with Faramir’s help, he chose a silver vase encrusted with sapphires and rubies. It seemed well made and was quite costly, but the expense would be worth it if it staved off Arwen’s wrath.

Aragorn went to bed weary and slept badly, dreaming he was being buried under a mountain of vases of every hue and description imaginable.

The King’s heart was in his mouth when his Queen returned and took her accustomed place in her sitting room. He decided to wait for her to notice the vase before confessing his mishap with her treasured heirloom.

Suddenly, she espied the new vase and her eyes lit up. “How beautiful!” Arwen exclaimed. “And how thoughtful of you to buy me a surprise gift, Estel!”

“I fear your grandparents’ vase was broken while Eldarion and I were playing,” the King said sheepishly.

“The priceless heirloom?” Arwen looked puzzled. “That is silver inlaid with pearl and I put it away safely as soon as Eldarion could walk. The one that was there was a gift from the Harad Ambassador, which I always considered hideous! How could you fail to notice the difference? Men are so unobservant!”

Aragorn sighed with relief, before ruefully realising he had wasted a good deal of time and money.

Arwen picked up the new vase and studied it. Then, embracing her husband lovingly, gave him a tender kiss.

Returning his wife’s loving embrace, Aragorn decided the vase was worth every coin after all.

End Notes:

A/N This is an extended version of the ficlet I wrote for the prompt “Mishap” on the AA list.

Arwen’s priceless vase was created by Raksha and appears in chapter 4 of “A Time to Reap.”

Playing with Fire by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been made from this story.

Playing with Fire

With grateful thanks to Raksha

The fire burned low in the hearth of the King and Queen’s private sitting room one evening in late spring.

“Would you like me to fetch more wood, my lord?” asked a servant.

“No thank you,” said Aragorn. ”The evening is warm; and we shall only stay here until Prince Eldarion's bedtime.”

The girl bobbed a curtsey and scurried from the chamber.

Arwen bent over her needlework while the King watched his son playing.  

Three-year-old Eldarion, clutching his toy horse, moved nearer to the glowing embers. “No!” Aragorn said sternly. “Do not go near the fire. It will hurt you.”

Reluctantly, Eldarion moved back a few paces; his eyes still fixed on the hearth.

“I worry for our son,” said Arwen, putting her sewing aside. ”These past weeks he has become enchanted by fire. He keeps trying to approach the flames; no matter how many times his nanny or I tell him to keep away from it.  No, Eldarion!” she cried, dragging her son back from the hearth.

“I fear children are curious,” said Aragorn. He looked troubled. Eldarion was the apple of his eye and he would rather have cut off his right hand than seen any harm come to his son.

Eldarion returned to playing with his toy horse, pretending to race it across the floor. Arwen turned her attention back her embroidery, satisfied that their son was safe in his father’s care. She frowned in concentration, putting the final stitches to an embroidered rose that looked real enough to sweetly scent the chamber.

After a few minutes had passed, Eldarion toddled purposefully back to the glowing ashes. Aragorn watched him intently, a look of anguish in his grey eyes. This time he did not admonish his son. He simply watched the child’s every move. The little boy stated at the embers for a few moments then reached out towards them. He screamed as his chubby finger touched the glowing fire.

Aragorn, who had been poised like a cat behind his son, now swept up the weeping child. He plunged Eldarion’s finger in the water jug, and then placed his hands over it to ease the pain. Arwen kissed her son’s cheek and murmured soothing words.

“It hurts!” said Eldarion once his sobs subsided. ”Bad fire, won’t touch it again!”

“I am taking my son to bed,” Arwen said, glaring at Aragorn. “I shall speak to you later!” She strode from the room, her child in her arms.

000

“How could you, Estel?” Arwen raged when she joined her husband for dinner an hour or so later. “You were watching our son and you let him get hurt!”

“It pained me deeply to allow it to happen,” Aragorn replied. He picked at the beautifully cooked food on his plate with little appetite.

“You deliberately allowed him to burn his finger?” the Queen demanded, her eyes aghast.  "How could you?"

“When I lived in Gondor many years ago under the guise of Thorongil,” the King replied, “a kindly Guardsman and his wife befriended me. They had three children, their youngest being a little boy of Eldarion’s age. Like our son, the beauty of fire charmed him. One day, when his mother’s back was turned, the lad plunged his arm into the flames. His clothing caught fire and he was badly burned. I tried my utmost to heal him, but his injures were beyond any man’s aid. He died in agony later that night. He was a fair child and it still grieves me to think of him. When I was small, I once touched some embers like Eldarion did tonight. Ever after, I had a healthy respect for fire. It was hard to see our son in pain, but it was a fleeting hurt, that should be healed by the morrow.  Yet the memory of that pain will return whenever Eldarion even thinks to approach a flame.  I could think of no other way to protect him, especially since our duties necessitate that we must often leave him in the care of others.”

Arwen looked across at her husband and saw that his eyes were wet with tears.  She patted his hand tenderly. It seemed that even after almost six years of marriage, there was still much to learn about her husband. “It seems some lessons must be harshly taught,” she whispered.

“I hope I shall never again need to teach so painful a lesson,” Aragorn said sadly. “I felt that I too played with fire tonight.”

  

 

End Notes:

 A/N When I was a child accidents such as Aragorn describes were all too commonplace as open fires were the most usual method of heating. Some child experts even recommended encouraging a child to touch a glowing ember while held by parent in the hope of preventing tragedy. As a very small chills, I once touched the embers like Eldarion did while my Mother’s back was turned. I was wary of fire ever afterwards.

This is an extended version of a prompt written for the AA List Prompt “Fire”

I assure my readers I do not condone any form of child cruelty. The story is about a very different time.

Chapter Three of “Mask of virtue” is now posted.

A Dainty Dish by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

A Dainty Dish

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.

Now, wasn't that a dainty dish
To set before the King? – Traditional nursery Rhyme.

With thanks to Deandra.

“So how are you enjoying your visit to Gondor?” Prince Imrahil enquired of Merry and Pippin. Imrahil and the Hobbits were sitting by the fire with Aragorn, Arwen, Faramir and Éowyn after a convivial dinner.

“It is very nice - that is, apart from the food,” said Merry.

“That grieves me to hear,” said Aragorn. “I instructed the cooks to prepare their finest dishes for you.”

“It is not good simple Hobbit cooking, though,” said Pippin. “All those fancy dishes smothered in sauce so you don’t know what you are eating hardly! And they never serve mushrooms! Don’t they grow them in Gondor, Strider?”

Imrahil raised his eyebrows at Pippin’s casual form of address to the King. He refrained from commenting, as Aragorn seemed not to notice. “Mushrooms, Sir Peregrin?” he said in a horrified tone. “No lord or lady of Gondor would eat such a common food! Poor peasants, who cannot afford to eat any better, gather them in the woods.”

“When I was a Ranger, it was a pleasure to come across some mushrooms and cook them for my supper,” said Aragorn. “Pippin is quite right. Mushrooms should be served at the King’s table.”

“Your guests would be shocked, my lord,” Imrahil cautioned. “You are King, though; your word is law.”

“When I was serving in Ithilien, my men introduced me to the delights of mushrooms. Éowyn often instructs our cook to prepare them in Emyn Arnen,” said Faramir. “My father would never have had them served at his table, though.”

“The people of the Mark enjoy mushrooms, too,” said Éowyn.” If our Kings can enjoy them, I cannot see why the lords of Gondor cannot!”

“It is hard to change the closed minds of Men, I fear. Unlike the Elves, they do not appreciate the fruits of Yavanna that grow wild when they have sufficient coin to buy those that are cultivated.”

“I believe it is because many of the City folk cannot distinguish a mushroom from a toadstool,” said Faramir. ”Therefore, rather than run the risk of being poisoned, our lords prefer not to eat them at all!”

The rest of the company nodded, thinking that Faramir had most likely explained the puzzle. The conversation moved to other matters.

A week later, the King’s birthday was celebrated with a State Banquet. All the highest ranked lords and ladies were invited, and the invitations were gladly accepted. As special friends of the King, Merry and Pippin were the guests of honour.

The guests enjoyed a appetizing creamy soup, which was followed by some sort of vegetable stuffed with crab and covered with breadcrumbs. The guests then partook of a stew, before feasting on a selection of desserts.

“What a delicious meal!” exclaimed Imrahil. “The cooks have surpassed themselves!”

“We made good use of the crabs you had sent from Dol Amroth,” said Arwen sweetly.

“I did not recognise the flavour of the soup nor the vegetable you served with the crab,” said the Prince of Dol Amroth. “It was most enjoyable though.”

Most of the lords and ladies murmured their enthusiastic agreement.

“We’re glad you liked our favourite mushroom recipes from the Shire,” said Pippin.

“The soup recipe has been in my grandmother’s family for ten generations,” Merry added.

“We have been eating mushrooms?” Imrahil looked aghast.

“From your words the other night, I surmised that you and the rest of the nobility had never eaten them,” said Aragorn. “Therefore, I asked Merry and Pippin to instruct my cooks in the best ways to prepare them. From now on, mushrooms will be served at the King’s table regularly. I had forgotten just how much I enjoyed them until Merry and Pippin reminded me. Why should the lords shun a food, because the common folk enjoy it? If a food is good enough for my lowliest subjects, it should be good enough for their King, too.”

“I have learned a valuable lesson tonight,” said Imrahil. “It seems we all have much to teach each other.”

“ Indeed! We decided we liked the food here after all once we became accustomed to it,” said Merry.

“We would like to take some recipes from Minas Tirith and Dol Amroth home to the Shire,” said Pippin.

“I will send a message to my cook and request that he copy out my Household’s favourite dishes,” Imrahil told the Hobbits. “Perhaps you would allow my cook to sample some of your recipes too?”

“When we return home we will collect all our favourite recipes and despatch them to Gondor,” said Merry.

“Let us drink a toast to all our peoples and their culinary traditions,” said Aragorn. He smiled at the Hobbits, recalling a long ago birthday he had celebrated at an inn in Bree. The mushrooms had tasted as good then as they did today, despite the humble surroundings. He reminded himself that the simple pleasures of life were often the best.

End Notes:

A/N

This is an extended version of a story written for the prompt "Mushrooms " in the AA Group.

A Price above Rubies by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been made from this story.

A Price above Rubies

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.- Proverbs 31.9-11. The Bible.

Based on an idea of Raksha's . With grateful thanks to Deandra.

Aragorn had spent an enjoyable hour sparring with Faramir. King and Steward had been honing their skills with sword and bow, before Faramir left to spend a few days with his family in Ithilien. The two men had parted in good spirits. Aragorn was looking forward to spending the rest of the day with his wife and children. He hummed contentedly to himself as he approached his wife’s solar.

“May I see Andúril, Ada?“ asked Eldarion as his father entered the chamber, his sword still at his hip. The little boy ran to his father’s side.

“You may look, but not touch; the sword is very sharp,” Aragorn cautioned.

“Did you defeat Uncle Faramir?” the little boy asked. “I wish I could have watched.”

“You shall, next time you have no lessons,” Aragorn promised. “Uncle Faramir defeated me with the bow while I bested him with the sword. It was a close contest, as usual.“ Aragorn unsheathed the weapon and held it while his son studied it longingly. “You will have your own sword once you are grown up. Eldarion, I promise you will have a truly splendid one.”

“No other sword could be as fair as this,” Eldarion said wistfully, stroking the hilt. ”But, I will kill lots of bad men with it!”

“Estel, Eldarion, I do not like such talk, or naked blades indoors!” Arwen chided. She was pacing the room, trying to pacify a fretful Farawyn.

“I am sorry, my love,” Aragorn said contritely, sheathing the weapon. “Is Farawyn teething again?”

“I fear so,” Arwen sighed. “She has been crying most of the day.”

“Shall I hold her?” the King volunteered.

“Thank you, Estel,” said the Queen, gladly handing over her daughter. “I will leave her with you while I help Eldarion’s nanny put him to bed.”

“I’m not tired!” Eldarion protested. “Why do I have to go to bed before the sun does in summer?”

“Little boys need their sleep so they will grow up to be big and strong. and grow tall enough to wield a sword,” said Aragorn. “I will come and tell you a bedtime story later, ion nîn,” he promised as Eldarion left with his mother.

The King tried to settle on his favourite chair. He rocked Farawyn in his arms. Still she cried. The King sang an Elvish lullaby. Farawyn cried all the louder. Aragorn tried a healing touch to soothe his daughter. She continued to wail dolefully. The King stared desperately round the room for a means to distract her. A beam of evening sunlight was playing on his sword. “Look at the pretty jewels, see how they sparkle!” Aragorn cried, reaching for the sheathed weapon and showing the baby his sword hilt in a bid to distract her.

Farawyn’s eyes lit up. Suddenly, she clamped her mouth down on the hilt and started to chew it contentedly. Usually, Aragorn would have been horrified to have his precious sword used as a teething ring. The silence, though, was blissful. Farawyn looked so pleased with herself; he had not the heart to take it away from her. The hilt was solid mithril, so she could not do it any harm and he had cleaned it after his bout with Faramir earlier that day.

“Farawyn has finally settled!” Aragorn said delightedly when Arwen returned.

“Fancy letting a baby chew on a sword hilt!” his wife scolded. “Give her to me now. It is time for her to be fed, while Eldarion is waiting for the story you promised him.”

Aragorn was engrossed in telling his son a tale, about how he fought off a dozen Orcs single-handedly, when a servant interrupted to say the Queen required his presence at once.

“I will finish the story tomorrow, ion nîn,” said Aragorn kissing his son on the brow. He called to the nanny in the next room to take care of Eldarion and hastened to his wife.

Arwen, her face pale, was gazing fixedly at Andúril’s hilt. “There is a jewel missing!” she exclaimed. ”Farawyn must have swallowed it! How could you be so irresponsible? My poor baby!”

Aragorn took the sword from her and studied it. A large ruby was missing. “It should not do her any harm,” he said.

“It could have sharp edges and cut her inside!” Arwen fretted. ”You are a Healer, you must be able to do something!”

“It is smooth and small enough to pass through her when nature takes its course,” Aragorn said with more confidence than he felt.

The baby had begun to cry again, and Aragorn reached to take her from his wife.It was impossible to tell though, whether it was the commotion, pain from her teething or the fact she had swallowed a jewel, that was distressing her. The King carefully undressed the baby and gently felt for any trace of the ruby, but could find none. She reacted indignantly by biting his fingers when he felt in her mouth. Arwen, meanwhile shook out Farawyn’s clothes, but could find no sign of the stone.

Unable to do anything else, Arwen reluctantly put Farawyn to bed just as the servants arrived with their dinner. Though neither had much of an appetite, they picked at their meals in silence. Aragorn was uncomfortably aware of the fierce glare his wife favoured him with throughout the course of it.

When bedtime came, Arwen banished her husband to his dressing room. She spent the night dozing fitfully, expecting any moment that her baby would be taken violently ill.

Aragorn became increasing infected by his wife’s fears. As a Healer, he knew the stone was unlikely to cause harm, but as a father he was terrified that some harm would befall his beloved child. When he fell asleep, he was plagued by hideous nightmares of having to cut into his little daughter to retrieve the ruby when it blocked some vital organ, while Master Aedred shook his head and pronounced the child dead. The King cried out and woke up shaking in distress just as the cock crowed, heralding dawn. A wakeful Arwen took pity on him and permitted him to join her in the marital bed. Farawyn slumbered peacefully in her cradle.

The King and Queen were glad when the maid arrived bearing their morning tea. The girl set the tray down then hovered hesitantly by the door.

“What is it, Nienor?” enquired the Queen.

“Nothing, my lady, save the housemaid found a red stone under the rug this morning. She thinks it’s a ruby and that she should tell you, but the housekeeper says it must just be a glass bead and she shouldn’t bother you over such trifles.”

Arwen hugged the astonished Nienor. “That is the best news anyone could tell me!” she exclaimed. “You may have the rest of the day off. First, though, send the housemaid to me; she shall be richly rewarded!”

An hour later, the King and Queen were breakfasting in the solar. The stone had been identified as the missing ruby. A craftsman had been summoned to replace it in the hilt and the housemaid given five silver pieces as a reward.

“I am so sorry, I was angry with you, my love,” Arwen said contritely.

“I deserved your wrath. I would never forgive myself if any ill befell my children,” Aragorn replied.” They are a treasure far above any rubies in value.”

End Notes:

A/N Tolkien wrote that Aragorn and Arwen had daughters but did not name them.

I assure readers I have not abandoned my other stories.

This is not a prompt story, but can be taken as a Tale of Telcontar.

Seeking the Sun by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

Seeking the Sun

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been made from this story.

With grateful thanks to Raksha.

I walked from door to door in the July heat until my feet were blistered and bleeding. It seemed no one wanted to employ a seamstress of low degree. There were far too many such as I seeking employment in Minas Tirith; women who knew only enough of the homely arts to tend their families in some smallholding or croft. I was neither broideress nor tailor. I possessed only my mother's old sewing kit and some experience in using it. And all I had left to wear were the clothes, now growing dirty for want of a place of my own to wash them in, that I had stuffed in a sack when my man and I had fled our cottage on the Pelennor before the Southrons had burnt it down. I spent the last of my small hoard of coin several days ago.

Some folk have advised me to ask the King for assistance. Never! I am widowed because my husband followed the Northerner to the Black Gate, where no man in his right mind has ever ventured! Who is this man who calls himself King anyway? Lord Faramir should rule, as did his longfathers before him. This usurper from the North must have tricked him into surrendering his birthright! And what manner of a Man marries an Elven witch? How can such a union be natural?

I feel faint now with hunger. Even the taverns will not employ me. I suppose they want comely wenches who can laugh with the customers. I suspect all can read the sorrow in my eyes, for I cannot hide it. They see the grief of having not only lost my husband, but my parents and sister too, to the Black Shadow. And my baby, my helpless unborn child; was also lost. I know there is one way a woman can always earn a crust, but how could I do that? 'Tis a thing worse than death!

Sometimes I think my soul is dead already. My body simply waits to follow.

I pause because my legs refuse to take one more step. I hear murmurs from a crowd that has gathered in the street. The people look and point, their faces impatient. What do they await? I ask a woman what is happening and she tells me the King is due to pass by. I have no wish to set eyes on the cause of my misery. I try to turn away; only to stumble upon a stone and almost fall. Then an idea comes to me. I am as good as dead, so this usurping foreigner can put an end to my misery. Maybe I can first strike a blow to avenge my husband? I stoop, ignoring the aches in my wearied bones, and pick up the stone.

It surprises me how small the procession is. Just a handful of horsemen ride into view. The man wearing a gem upon his brow in the middle of the group must be the King. The others all wear the black and silver livery of the Tower Guard. A woman rides at his side. She is garbed in the finest silks. I hear her laughter as she turns her face away from me, toward the tall rider. Is this the Elf he brought to be our Queen? What could she know of care and loss? I push my way to the front and cry, "Shame on you, King Elessar for leading good men to their deaths and leaving the women to starve!" I aim the stone. He turns to look at me. His eyes! I have never seen the like. He seems to gaze into my very soul. I see the expected flash of anger; but then his eyes soften with a look of concern and something else. Kindness? I do not understand! The stone slips from my grasp. My sight dims and I sink to the ground.

When I regain my senses, I am lying on a soft bed, much to my surprise. I expected to be in prison. My worn garments have been replaced by a nightgown of fine linen .A woman in Healer's garb sits at my bedside. She smiles at me and asks whether I would like food and drink. I eagerly accept. No doubt I will die soon, but at least I shall eat first. I greedily devour the broth and watered wine that is brought to me. The Healer then brings me a robe and tells me that I shall soon receive a visitor. To my amazement, only a few minutes later, the King himself enters the room!

I had no intention of doing so, but find myself inclining my head respectfully. I keep my head bowed, not wanting to meet those eyes again.

"Look at me!"

I want to resist but cannot. I find myself meeting his grey gaze. His voice is stern but his eyes are filled with compassion.

"What is your name, Mistress?" he asks.

"I am Niniel, daughter of Alcarin, widow of Hador, a seamstress," I tell him.

"And what is your quarrel with me?" he demands.

I find myself pouring out my story to him. He listens intently, saying nothing.

"Mistress Niniel, try to remain calm," he says at last. "A woman in your condition..."

"What condition?" I interrupt bitterly.

"Surely you know you are about five months gone with child, Mistress?" the King says.

"You mock me, lord!" I retort. "I miscarried of my child after my husband died following your banner!"

Just then a woman enters, wearing a silver-grey cloak over a dark blue gown. A fairer lady I have never seen. She is more radiant than the stars. She places a gentle hand upon my belly. "You are indeed with child," she says. "I sense its life force waxing strong within you. Doubtless you were carrying twins and lost one of them while the other thrives. It is not uncommon."

I burst into tears: tears of joy that something of my husband still stirs within me and tears of sorrow that I have no way to support a child.

The woman tries to comfort me. I realise she is none other than the King's Elven bride. I think I was wrong when first I saw her. This lady is no stranger to sorrow. Mayhap she is a fitting Queen for Gondor after all.

"But Mistress, since you were destitute and starving, why did you not seek help?" the King asked once my tears subsided. "Steward Faramir first opened houses of refuge for the war-torn in March; and I have added more since I entered the City.

"I did not want charity," I replied. More tears welled up in my eyes. Was there no dignity left to me?

"It is no charity to offer work to a skilled seamstress," said the Queen, smiling.

"As King, it is my duty to help my people," said Elessar.

I look at him and at that moment I know I love him. Not of course, as a woman loves a man, but as a flower must love the sun.

End Notes:

A/N. This story was inspired by Pentangle's wonderful "Conversion”. The idea is used with her permission.

This is an expanded version of a story written for the “Prompt “Eyes” in the AA Group.

A Tale of Telcontar.

Hunger and sleepiness recur by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

Oh, a-hunting we will go,

A-hunting we will go;

We'll catch a fox and put him in a box,

And then we'll let him go! - traditional

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate.

With grateful thanks to Raksha and Deandra.

We do not weary of eating and sleeping every day, for hunger and sleepiness recur. Without that we should weary of them. So, without the hunger for spiritual things, we weary of them. Hunger after righteousness—the eighth beatitude. – Blaise Pascal.

“I caught nothing.” The dejected look on Faramir’s face made his words superfluous. “I saw a doe with her young, but could not bring myself to kill either. It is not as if we are about to die of hunger.” He flopped down in the forest clearing beside his friend and King.

“Nor would I have killed them either in your place,” Aragorn conceded. “I just feel as if I were starving. I did not see as much as a rabbit, and my attempts at fishing were equally fruitless. This stream contains naught but tiddlers! I am thankful that Arwen would not permit us to bring Eldarion this time, much as I yearn for him to be old enough to join us.”

Faramir turned away and rummaged in their packs, not wanting the King to see the look of sorrow in his eyes. Aragorn had treated him as a son, almost since they first met, but now the King’s own flesh and blood was approaching his seventh birthday, Eldarion was becoming old enough to keep his doting father company during these excursions in the wild. Aragorn was a loyal friend, but Faramir knew it would be only honourable to volunteer to remain behind once the King’s heir could accompany his father.

“I would have both my sons beside me,” Aragorn said firmly, sensing Faramir’s thoughts. He gripped Faramir’s shoulder and turned him around to face him. “I will need you more than ever, ion nîn, when Eldarion is with us. I would not take him without you joining us. It would not be the same at all!”

“You honour me,” said Faramir, deeply moved. He cherished these outings all the more, given the opposition from the Council and their Guards at the King and his Steward going out unescorted. It took all of Aragorn’s considerable strength of will to escape from the strictures laid upon him. Aragorn and Faramir knew they could occasionally safely leave the City in the capable hands of Arwen or Imrahil. The Queen understood all too well that her husband’s heath would suffer if he were kept caged within the City walls and she trusted Faramir alone to guard him with his life.

“I have my reasons,” Aragorn grinned. “Arwen will scarcely permit me to ride two leagues out of the City without you, far less Eldarion!”

The two men laughed. They began gathering firewood, which was in far more abundant supply than anything to cook with it.

“Who else would endure your snoring save I?” Faramir teased. He nimbly dodged the King’s feigned blow.

“The fact you are with me, though, does nothing to fill our bellies tonight!” Aragorn grumbled, returning to their original subject. He rummaged in his pack for their cooking utensils.

“We do have the blackberries and hazelnuts we gathered earlier, and some mushrooms we can cook,” Faramir informed him, trying to raise his lord’s spirits. “Then there is the bread we brought with us.” Thus saying, he tipped a meagre handful of small mushrooms into a pan, while Aragorn skilfully kindled a fire.

The two friends began their meagre supper in grim silence, trying to ignore their rumbling stomachs.

“We should have brought more supplies with us,” Faramir said, swallowing a final mouthful of the tasteless, unripe mushrooms.

“That would have defeated the object of this hunting trip, though,” Aragorn replied. “Arwen was praising the new cook’s skills last week, and I was telling her how well a Ranger could live off the land.” He laughed mirthlessly, before taking another bite of stale bread and washing it down with water. “Before we set out, she told me the details of the cook’s plans for the week. I boasted that we would dine in an even more lordly fashion on what we caught ourselves. Tonight, Arwen will be feasting on tomato soup, steamed trout with roast potatoes, and blackberry syllabub washed down with fine wine for dessert!”

“At least we have the blackberries,” said Faramir, pulling a face as he nibbled an especially sour one. “And most of the houses of the City will have tomatoes on the vines of their gardens, including yours and mine. How I wish I had a plate of venison before me now!”

“Or even roast mutton!” said the King rubbing his stomach wistfully. He laughed suddenly. “Just listen to us! We sound like a pair of Hobbits, thinking of naught but food!”

“We could always return home early,” suggested Faramir.

“I think I would rather go hungry than have Arwen tease me for weeks,” Aragorn replied ruefully, sprawling his long legs comfortably on the grass.

Faramir nodded. “Éowyn would never let me hear the last of it if we returned now. I have been looking forward to our venture into the wilds for weeks now! It is so difficult to find a few days when we are not obliged to hold audiences or attend Council meetings.”

“I have been counting the days that I could leave stone walls behind for a little while,” Aragorn replied. He found life at Court far more restricting than his Steward after so many years of wanderings as a Ranger. “Come; let us make preparations to sleep. Perhaps we will have better luck tomorrow.”

No sooner had the dishes been washed in a stream and the bedrolls laid out side by side, than it began to rain. Even though the two friends huddled together for warmth, they grew increasingly cold, hungry and miserable.

“I wish I were in my nice warm bed with Arwen beside me,” Aragorn said glumly.

“I thought you said you missed sleeping under hedges!” Faramir teased.

Aragorn’s only reply was a grunt.

Worn out after their day’s exertions, King and Steward eventually fell asleep, only for Faramir to be awakened by his companion’s loud snoring. He wished fervently that Éowyn were beside him instead. His wife never snored!

The Steward suddenly noticed that it had stopped raining. The clouds had dissipated, leaving a clear sky in their wake. Countless stars twinkled overhead, fairer by far than priceless jewels. A sudden feeling of joy overwhelmed Faramir. Wishing to share it, he gently elbowed Aragorn awake. “Look!” he said in a hushed tone, “I had almost forgotten the wonder of a starry night!”

Just then a comet streaked across the heavens. The two men watched it in awe.

“Did you make a wish?” Aragorn asked Faramir, smiling.

“Only that everything would stay just as it is,” said the Steward. ”What more could I want than Gondor at peace, the hand of the fairest lady that lives, children to surround me and the love of a father I thought I would forever be denied?”

“Some breakfast maybe?” teased Aragorn. “But you speak as wisely as ever, Faramir. All I ever wished for has now come true. There were many times I wandered the wilds, when I wondered if I would ever have the crown of Elendil, and with it my beloved’s hand in marriage, and a son at my side to cherish. Then I would look at the stars and hope would spring anew.”

No longer caring about their empty stomachs, King and Steward lay watching the stars until Eärendil vanished over the horizon with his ship. Then they slept, contented. Soon they would be constrained by duties of State once more, but tonight they would simply enjoy being Rangers together.

TBC

End Notes:

A/N This is an expanded version of a ficlet written for the prompt “Wish” in the AA Group and forms the first chapter of a four-chapter story.

The author does not condone blood sports. Aragorn and Faramir only hunt for sufficient to eat.

Chapter Four of “Mask of Virtue” is now available and a new ficlet “Drawing the Eye.

A Tale of Telcontar

A bush suppos’d a bear! by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.

Or in the night, imagining some fear,

How easy is a bush suppos’d a bear! - Shakespeare

With thanks to Raksha and Deandra.

“Please, Naneth, let me go camping with Ada and Uncle Faramir,” begged Eldarion.

“Faramir and I would take good care of him,” said Aragorn, his tone almost as pleading as his young son’s. “It would be but for two nights and we are not going far. The countryside here in Ithilien is not beset by dangers. We could quickly return home, were any problems to arise. What harm could Eldarion possibly come to? Faramir and I enjoy returning to the Ranger way of life whenever we can be released from our duties. I have waited so long for a child of my own to take out in the wilds with me and share all the things that fathers and sons do!”

“Very well,” Arwen conceded. Loth though she was to be parted from her son, the prospect of a few quiet days with Éowyn and the other children at Emyn Arnen was appealing. Eldarion was a delightful child and she loved him dearly, but there were times she feared she did not give Farawyn as much attention as she had given her eldest. It would be good to devote some time exclusively to her little daughter.

“Thank you, Naneth, I promise I’ll be good!” Eldarion rushed to gratefully hug his mother, almost knocking her over in his enthusiasm. He hastened off to pack his possessions while Arwen instructed her husband and Faramir in great detail as to how they should care for the boy. They listened patiently while struggling not to show their amusement at her fretting over their safety, warnings to remember to tell Eldarion a bedtime story, to take care not to let him fall in river, to protect him with their lives and to keep him clean. Aragorn’s eyes met his Steward’s and both men struggled to restrain their amusement. Arwen seemed to think they could hardly take care of themselves, never mind a child!

000

The next morning, the three set out for some woods but a few miles from Faramir’s home. Aragorn and Faramir selected a campsite near to the river so that they would have water for their needs.

Eldarion sat quietly while his father and Faramir caught trout from the Anduin for supper. “May I try?” he asked after his father had caught a fish.

“It is getting late now, you may try to catch your own dinner tomorrow,” Aragorn promised.

“Please, Ada, I want to catch a big fish!” Eldarion cried in a voice loud enough to warn every fish for miles around that a hungry little boy was eager to make a meal of it.

Aragorn and Faramir exchanged amused glances. ”Very well,” he conceded. “You may try for a few minutes.”

“Thank you, Ada!” Eldarion cried joyfully.

The King put a finger to his lips reminding his son that a fisherman needed to keep quiet in order to be successful

Eldarion lapsed into silence. To his delight, he was rewarded when a fish took his bait.

“Well done, ion nîn!” said Aragorn, humanely despatching the trout. “Go with Uncle Faramir back to the campsite now and he will show you how to prepare it for supper.

Eldarion watched as Faramir expertly prepared the plump trout for cooking.

Aragorn caught a second fish. Deciding they had sufficient for their needs, he handed it to the Steward to prepare. He asked his son to help him collect firewood, explaining that ash and yew logs burned best, while willow made but a poor fire. Eldarion scurried amongst the trees picking up sticks and handing them to his father to identify. Aragorn was in his element, rejoicing in the all too rare opportunity to spend time teaching his son about life as a Ranger. When their arms were so full of kindling they could carry no more, farther and son returned to the campsite where they rejoined Faramir

As if by magic, Aragorn lit the fire by rubbing two sticks together. Faramir put the fish on to cook in a pan they had brought with them. Eldarion thought it smelled delicious. He felt much hungrier than he usually did.

While the meal was cooking the men pitched the tent they had brought in deference to Eldarion’s tender age. The boy tried to help, albeit not very successfully. Aragorn indulgently righted his mistakes, remembering with wry amusement his own first experiences of making camp and sharing his memories with Eldarion and Faramir.

“The food is cooked now!” Faramir announced.

Soon the three were tucking into a hearty meal of streamed trout together with potatoes and carrots they had brought with them. They had also brought juicy apples and pears.

“This is much more fun than having food sent up from the kitchens. It tastes better, too!” said Eldarion, tucking into his supper eagerly.

“You are fortunate, ion nîn,” said Aragorn. “Last time Uncle Faramir and I went camping, we caught nothing and went to bed hungry!”

Eldarion pulled a face.

“We still had a good time, though,” said Faramir. “We saw some shooting stars.”

“I’d like to see shooting stars,” Eldarion said eagerly. “May I take first watch?”

“We have no need to keep watch in a safe place like this,” Aragorn told him. “And I fear you only see shooting stars at certain times of year.”

“Please, Ada?” the child begged.

Aragorn exchanged an amused glance with Faramir. “Very well,” he agreed, humouring his son.

After singing Elvish songs that Aragorn recalled from his childhood, and telling Eldarion about Eärendil and his ship, one of the boy’s favourite bedtime stories, the two men settled down for the night inside the tent.

Eldarion remained outside keeping watch. The boy felt very grown up and important. He would keep the wild animals away from Ada and Uncle Faramir. Maybe, he might even see a shooting star to tell naneth about! At first, the low murmur of his Ada’s and the Steward’s voices provided companionship, but then they fell silent, as did the birds in the surrounding trees. Even the horses became silent as they ceased grazing and slept. Eldarion started to feel very alone. The night had come so fast, and the clouds hid the moon! He was tempted to wake his father, but he was a big boy now, far too old to be scared of the dark.

Shapes loomed around him, dark and menacing. He could hear rustling. What if a bear lurked in the bushes? Then he saw a distant glow. He recalled the dragons in the tales that his father and Lord Legolas had told him: Ancalagon the Black, who was slain by Eldarion's own great-grandsire; and the Dragon of Erebor. He liked to pretend that Smaug, his favourite toy, was a real dragon. But didn’t real dragons eat people along with their horses? The glow grew brighter and flames shot up in the air. Eldarion screamed in fright.

“What is wrong, ion nîn?” Aragorn, who had been watching his son all the time, came immediately to his side. Faramir followed.

“There’s a dragon in the bushes! It will eat us all for its supper!” Eldarion cried, rushing towards his father and flinging his arms around his waist.

“Do not be afraid! Uncle Faramir and I will keep you safe,” said Aragorn. “Come here,” He scooped up Eldarion in his arms and sat beside the campfire with his son.

“I will go and investigate,” said Faramir, drawing his sword. “I think I know what our ‘dragon’ might be.”

Trying hard not to tremble, Eldarion snuggled on his father’s lap and buried his head against the broad shoulder. Aragorn gently rubbed the child’s neck and shoulders, using an Elven healing art to calm the boy.

A few moments later Faramir returned grinning. “Our ‘dragon’ was a party from my White Company, sent by the Queen to keep an eye on us,” he explained. “I chided them for letting themselves be seen and frightening the boy. Those youngsters would not have survived five minutes in more dangerous times! I shall tell Beregond to take the men on extra training exercises. Do you think we should take Eldarion home?”

“There is no need,” Aragorn whispered, placing a finger to his lips and gesturing towards his young son, who, overcome by weariness and excitement, lay sleeping peacefully in his arms.

TBC

Enough is equal to a feast. by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate.

With grateful thanks to Raksha and Deandra.

Enough is equal to a feast. - Henry Fielding(1707-1754)

Aragorn awoke when a ray of sunlight streamed through the open flaps of the tent and warmed his face.

On one side of him slept Eldarion, contentedly snuggled against his father, his fright of the previous night forgotten. Curled against Aragorn’s other side lay Faramir, whom Aragorn had come to love as another son. The King was a happy man. He had a family after many long years of waiting.  

Eldarion stirred. At first wide eyed at his strange surroundings, the little boy was swiftly reassured by his father’s presence. “Ada, I need to get up!” he said urgently. ”But what about the dragon outside?”

“The dragon was but a neighbouring camp fire,” Aragorn reassured him. ”I will come with you, ion nîn; you are perfectly safe.”  

“I will make the breakfast while you are gone,” said Faramir. He sat up, yawning then stretched like a cat.

When father and son emerged from the trees, Aragorn led the child to a nearby stream and splashed cold water on his hands and face, telling the boy to do likewise.

“It is freezing!” Eldarion complained. ”The water nanny brings me to wash in is always warm.”

“Rangers wash in cold water,” Aragorn assured his son solemnly.

“I didn’t think Rangers needed to wash?” Eldarion protested.

“Yes, they need to keep clean, just like everyone else,” his father told him.

Eldarion was silent, pondering whether his chosen career was quite as good as it appeared to be.

“I had thought we might go swimming later,” said Aragorn. “But as you do not like cold water, maybe that is not such a good idea after all.”

Eldarion was thoughtful for a moment. He had learned to swim in the huge bath in his father’s private apartments and had been longing to try ‘real’ swimming outside with his Ada and Uncle Faramir. ”Perhaps it is not too cold for swimming?” he conceded.

“It will feel warmer when the sun is high in the sky,” Aragorn promised him.

“The porridge is almost ready,” Faramir announced when Aragorn and Eldarion arrived back at the campsite. The Steward ladled the gruel into three bowls.

Eldarion tasted it and pulled a face. “I don’t like porridge!” he announced. “I always have bread and honey for my breakfast at home.”

“I fear you will not make a Ranger, then,” said Faramir. “This is a typical Ranger breakfast.”

Eldarion’s lower lip trembled. Aragorn realised that a disturbed night and fear of a monster had been an ordeal for the usually sunny- natured seven year old. He hugged his son. “It is only when you are quite old that you enjoy such a simple breakfast,” he said. “Why I remember when I was in Moria with the Fellowship…”  

Eldarion’s eyes brightened. He loved his father to tell a story. Faramir, almost equally attentive, drew closer as the King began.

“I was loth to enter the mines of Moria,” Aragorn began. “I had been there before in my travels and it is a frightening place, dark and cheerless, though once it must have been magnificent.”

“Lord Gimli told me it was a vast City of great splendour for the Dwarves,” Eldarion said eagerly.  

“That is true, ion nîn,” Aragorn replied. ”Alas, when I was there, it was deserted, the Dwarves all slain or fled. We travelled for three days and two nights, our only light being Gandalf’s staff. The paths were steep and treacherous. It was not a pleasant place. I feared I would never again see the light.”

You were scared, Ada?” Eldarion sounded incredulous. 

“I was indeed,” Aragorn confessed ruefully. “It would not have been too bad, if only we had been able to eat a hearty meal. This porridge would have been a feast there. All we had to eat was stale bread and dried meat.”

Eldarion pulled a face, trying to imagine such unappetising fare.

A sudden thought struck Faramir and he rummaged in their packs, emerging with a jar. “Look!” he said, ”I have found some honey to put on our porridge and there is a cow with her calf over there. Perhaps she will give us fresh milk to drink!”

“You are familiar with cows?” Aragorn looked astonished. “You never cease to surprise me!”

“As we have our own herd at Emyn Arnen, I like to take an occasional turn with the milking. I first learned to milk when I became a Ranger.” Faramir replied. He rose from the campfire; a bowl in his hands, and cautiously approached the cow.

“Your Uncle Faramir has a way with animals,” the King explained to his young son.

“Can I learn to milk cows?” Eldarion asked.

“When you are a little older,” said Aragorn observing Faramir deftly dodging a well-aimed kick from the cow he was milking. ”I think this cow would prefer her calf to drink all the milk! I think we have enough now, mellon nîn,” he called. ”Come back before you get injured!”

A few minutes later, the trio were relishing a breakfast of porridge with milk and honey, while Eldarion had warm milk to drink.

“I shall tell naneth that we had our very own feast!” Eldarion exclaimed.

“And I am certain she will tell the cook to prepare an especially nice meal for us when we return home tomorrow, ”said Aragorn.

“I wish we did not have to go home so soon!” said the little boy. “I like camping, though I miss naneth.”

“So do I,” said Aragorn smiling. “She will be pleased when we return. You can tell her that Uncle Faramir and your Ada hope to bring you again soon to sleep under the stars.”

Eldarion jumped for joy, almost knocking over his porridge.

“We will make a Ranger of you yet!” said Faramir grinning.

TBC

The child that is not clean and neat by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.

The child that is not clean and neat,
With lots of toys and things to eat,
He is a naughty child, I’m sure—
Or else his dear Papa is poor. - Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894), Scottish writer, poet. “System,” A Child’s Garden of Verses (1885).

With thanks to Deandra.

Be sure to keep him safe and keep him clean. Arwen’s parting words had caused Aragorn to gain more than one new grey hair over the past two days. Faramir looked equally troubled.

Long had the King tried to persuade his wife that at seven, Eldarion was old enough to accompany his doting father and the Steward on a hunting trip. Arwen had finally given her reluctant consent with more conditions than many a legal document.

It had been simple enough to track and catch their meals, easy to teach the boy how to follow a trail, tell him that no creature should be killed merely for sport, but only when hunger made it necessary and then quickly and cleanly. It was even possible to teach a lively lad to keep quiet, but to keep one clean was impossible.

Eldarion had been spotlessly clean after swimming with his father and Faramir the previous day, but that was before they had encountered a patch of swampy ground. Ignoring his son’s protests that he wanted to play in the mud, Aragorn had risked injuring his back by carrying his son through an especially swampy patch of ground, which he had deemed it unsafe to ride across. The King had never imagined that such a slender young boy would feel as if he weighed like a mumak to carry any distance! All his efforts were for naught; somehow the child still became covered in mud.

“If we return Eldarion to his mother like this, she will never let us take him out again!” Aragorn told Faramir grimly

As they approached Emyn Arnen, much to the King’s relief, they found a stream.

“The Valar be praised!” exclaimed Aragorn. “We can give Eldarion a bath.”

Faramir rummaged in their packs for a towel and soap.

“I will help you undress, ion nîn,” said Aragorn. ”We shall soon get you nice and clean for naneth.”

“I don’t want to wash!” Eldarion protested. ”It’s too cold to take off my clothes!”

“It is no colder than yesterday when you enjoyed our swim together,” his father said firmly.

“That was swimming, not washing!” Eldarion scowled, trying to wriggle away as his father started unlacing the child’s tunic. ”Only girls like being clean!”

Meanwhile, Faramir, using the brush they usually used to groom their horses with, tried to remove the dried mud from the young Prince’s clothing. He had by far the easier task as Eldarion writhed like an eel once his father had coaxed him in the water.

At last both Eldarion and his clothes were passably clean and the travellers continued on their way.

As they approached Faramir’s home, King and Steward exchanged relieved glances. Apart from his windswept hair, Eldarion looked almost as presentable as when he had simply been playing in the gardens of the Citadel.

“Arwen should be delighted how well we have cared for Eldarion,” said Aragorn. “There is not a scratch upon him and he is clean.”

“Éowyn will be so impressed that she will allow us to take Elboron as soon as he is old enough,” Faramir smiled contentedly. They rode through the gates, greeting the guards. As soon as they reached the stables, they handed the horses over to the care of the grooms.

“The Queen and Lady Éowyn are in the garden,” the head groom informed them.

As Aragorn approached the garden, he quickened his steps when his keen eyes spotted his wife tending a bed of daisies. Eldarion ran on ahead towards his mother.

Arwen rushed to embrace her son.

“I had a wonderful time with Ada and Uncle Faramir," Eldarion told her excitedly. “I helped Ada gather firewood, and we went swimming, I even caught a fish for my supper!”

“Beloved, I have missed you and Farawyn so much!” Aragorn said, approaching his wife to embrace her.

Arwen recoiled. ”You are covered in mud, Estel!” she exclaimed. “You badly need a bath!”

Just then Éowyn approached from behind the hedge that enclosed the herb garden. Faramir made to kiss her, only to be indignantly pushed away. “Ugh!” she exclaimed. ”You smell worse than an Orc. Go and wash at once before the children see you like this!”

Crestfallen, the two men slunk away.

“Whoever would have thought that Éowyn slew the Witch King?” mused Faramir. ”As I recall, the Pelennor fields were extremely muddy at that time. Surely she did not accomplish the deed without getting dirty?”

“Arwen never said a word about how well we had looked after Eldarion,” Aragorn said glumly. “One would think Ranger’s wives would appreciate a little dirt!”

“It seems we only receive a warm welcome when we are clean!” said Faramir ruefully leading the way to the bathing chamber. The servants were already bustling to and fro with buckets of hot water to prepare a bath for the men.

“Still was it not wonderful being Rangers again in the wild?” Aragorn replied. “What more could a man desire than the freedom to go camping with the son of his body and the son of his heart and a fair wife to return to? Our welcome will be warm once we are scrubbed!”

The End

End Notes:
A/N This chapter is an extended version of a ficlet written for the prompt “Clean” on the AA List.
The Storm by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

O my soul’s joy,
If after every tempest come such calms,
May the winds blow till they have wakened death!
And let the labouring bark climb hills of seas
Olympus-high, and duck again as low
As hell’s from heaven!
- William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Othello, in Othello, act 2, sc. 1, l. 185-9.

With thanks to Raksha and Deandra

Aragorn paced restlessly across the chamber, oblivious to the fine tapestries and furniture that adorned it. The room felt oppressively stuffy after a day of humid heat.

A summer storm now raged outside in the gathering dusk, the wind and rain beating fiercely against the windows. Lightning flashed against the darkening sky, while overhead the thunder roared like an angry dragon. How many times had he craved shelter when the elements raged outside? How often had he envied the Bree folk safe and dry in their snug houses? He had lost count long ago. Now he lived in sumptuous surroundings, well protected from the wind and rain. Yet, he found he missed them! Somehow, he felt less than fully alive, sheltered as he now was from nature’s fury.

“You remind me of a wild horse, chomping at the bit,” said Arwen, looking up from her embroidery. ”Go and get some fresh air, ere you wear a hole in the carpet!”

“My guards would never let me!” Aragorn said glumly.

“What became of the Ranger I married?” asked the Queen. ”You spent many a year evading being seen, if you so chose. It should cause you little difficulty in slipping past the guards unnoticed!”

“Your words are wise, vanimelda,” said Aragorn, kissing her tenderly. Snatching up his cloak, and pulling the hood closely around his face, he slipped through the maze of corridors, skilfully dodging his guards. He made his way outside, silent and stealthy as a cat.

The King walked briskly until he came to a secluded corner of the Citadel gardens. The thunder and lightning had ceased now, leaving in its wake heavy, drenching rain and a refreshing stiff breeze.

Aragorn cast aside his cloak and lifted his face towards the heavens, rejoicing in the feel of the cool water as it ran down his face. His hair was soon drenched and plastered to his face, but he cared not.

Soon his clothing was soaked. Cold rivulets of rainwater trickled down his neck. Impulsively, he peeled off his tunic and shirt, allowing the rain to run freely down his bare chest and back. He closed his eyes. The breeze gusted fiercely against his bare skin. It seemed almost to caress him, making him feel invigorated and truly alive. He felt as if he could dance with the sheer ecstasy of feeling as one with nature; a child of wind, and storm and sky

Suddenly, his keen senses heard a twig cracking, as if trodden underfoot. Startled, he opened his eyes and made to snatch up his discarded clothing. It would not do at all for a King to be caught like this, half naked and dripping. The servants and nobility would think their new lord a madman!

“Estel! I could not resist joining you.”

It was Arwen. She came barefoot, dropping her cloak at her feet to reveal a simple linen gown beneath.

“Beloved, you surprised me!”

Arwen laughed, a sweet musical tone that always made her husband’s heart soar. ”A Peredhel can be as stealthy as a Ranger, and even closer to nature,” she said. ”At Imladris I would dance beneath the waterfall and revel in the feel of the spray. Come, dance with me!” She pulled him close, her breath warm against his skin.

Aragorn kicked off his boots and they laughingly began to dance across the grass, oblivious of the downpour. Slowly the rain ceased. The moon emerged from behind the scudding clouds, bathing the dancers in a silver glow.

Aragorn studied his wife’s lovely features. She looked fairer than ever in the moonlight, her hair dishevelled and damp, while her gown clung becomingly to her graceful figure.

Suddenly they stopped dancing. Breathlessly, they stood gazing at each other. Aragorn pulled his wife close and kissed her. She returned the kiss, her slender fingers caressing his skin, her warmth and nearness setting his body ablaze. The tempest in the heavens had abated, but nature had kindled another storm within their hearts, one of a very different kind, but no less fierce in its passion.

End Notes:
/N This was the sole entry for a contest with the theme of “Nature” as the challenge.

The events take place a few weeks after Aragorn and Arwen’s marriage.

I have posted the first chapter of a new angst laden story “Dies Irae” on this site.

Roses have Thorns by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

No more be grieved at that which thou hast done,
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud,
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud. – Shakespeare

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may:
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying. - Herrick

 

“He is just so perfect! I think he has Éowyn’s eyes,” Faramir said for about the hundredth time. “My own son will become Steward after me!”

“Not for a very long time, I hope. I like the Steward I have now,” Aragorn said dryly. He stretched out his long legs and shifted to a more comfortable position. The two men had been banished on a hunting trip by Arwen, as soon as Faramir had been told the joyful news and glimpsed the new baby. The midwife had declared that Éowyn was exhausted and needed to rest.

Aragorn and Faramir had dined on stewed rabbit and then caught another for the pot. Their hunting completed, King and Steward relaxed sprawled on the grass in a sunny glade in Ithilien watching the swallows dart to and fro overhead. The summer air was perfumed with wild roses. Nearby, Roheryn and Zachus grazed contentedly on the lush grass, their riders having removed their tack.

“I must give Éowyn a special gift to thank her for the child she has given me,” Faramir said thoughtfully. “A mithril pendant of the emblems of the Houses of Eorl and Húrin might please her.” He suddenly became grave. “I should like a gift for Elestelle too. I should never wish her to think she is any less dear to me than the baby. I shall love them both equally. I shall never neglect her, or Elbeth.”

“I know you never would, mellon nîn,” said Aragorn. “I should love to have a daughter next.” For a moment he felt melancholy that his friend had two children already. Much as he and Arwen desired another child, they still only had Eldarion. He forced himself to cast such thoughts aside and share his friend’s joy.

The two men fell into companionable silence contemplating their hopes and dreams for the future.

The afternoon grew warmer. The two friends shed their outer tunics; there were none save the birds to see them informally attired. Aragorn grew sleepy and was soon snoring softly, his head resting on a bank of moss.

Faramir smiled indulgently at his friend. He was determined to stay awake. Despite his happiness, a feeling of growing unease was pricking at the edges of his consciousness. He berated himself for his foolishness. The sun became hotter, while the chirruping of the grasshoppers sounded almost like a lullaby. Faramir’s eyelids grew heavy. He had had little sleep the night before.

Aragorn was awakened by a loud cry. He leapt to his feet, instinctively reaching for his sword. He turned in the direction of the cry and beheld Faramir struggling to free himself from the thorny branches of a rose bush.

“I nodded off and fell into the bush,” Faramir said sheepishly. “I had forgotten it was behind me.”

Aragorn regarded him with a mixture of sympathy and amusement. “A rose bush is not a good place to sleep!” he remarked extending his hand.

“I had forgotten it was behind me,” said Faramir taking the proffered hand and trying to get up. “Ouch!”

“I had better cut you free.” Aragorn grimaced in sympathy. He raised Andúril and hacked at the bush. Faramir rather gingerly freed himself, wincing in pain as the sharp thorns tore his shirt and dug into his back.

“You are hurt! Let me see!” Aragorn ordered.

Faramir ruefully presented his bloodied back to for his friend’s inspection.

Aragorn carefully removed the twigs and leaves, which were sticking to his Steward’s back. Faramir’s white shirt was now speckled with blood. ”You have been badly scratched,” he commented wincing in sympathy.

“It feels like it!” Faramir said wryly.

“I have brought my healing supplies,” said Aragorn. “Arwen insisted that I bring them. She always fears some ill will befall us, for some strange reason!”

“Ladies do tend to fret, Éowyn is just as bad” said Faramir. “Still, your wife has been proved right.” He laughed inwardly that his feelings of unease had foreboded such a ridiculous accident.

Aragorn fetched his satchel from the far site of the clearing and rummaged in it. “Your wife is correct. There is not a scratch on me!” he said a trifle smugly. “You had better take your shirt off so that I can tend your injuries.”

Faramir cautiously removed his shirt and propped himself on his elbows. Aragorn carefully removed the remaining thorns embedded in Faramir’s upper back, and cleaned the scratches with water from his flask before applying some calendula salve. Faramir sighed contentedly as the stinging eased. “It could have been far worse,” he said “If the scratches had been over my face, I would never have heard the last of it from Éowyn, especially as next week there is the reception with the Ambassadors from Dale to attend.” Rising to his feet, he pulled his shirt back over his head. “Thank you, mellon nîn!” He hugged his friend gratefully.

By now the sun was starting to sink. “I think we should return home in time for the cook to prepare rabbit pie for supper,” said the King.

Faramir was thoughtfully studying the branches that Aragorn had lopped from the rose bush. “I think I will take the blossoms home for the ladies. It would be a pity to leave them here to wilt. They smell so sweet. Éowyn loves roses.”

“As does Arwen. I will cut them while you load our saddle the horses. You have had enough of rose bushes for one day!” said Aragorn. He set to work with a will, choosing the finest blooms for his beloved wife and good friend.

A few minutes later the two men were riding slowly homewards. Faramir noticed that Aragorn was holding Roheryn’s reins rather awkwardly. His eyes moved to his friend’s hands, one of which was marked with blood. “You have hurt yourself!” Faramir exclaimed in concern.

“It is only a scratch, no real harm is done” said Aragorn. “Alas, though, it seems that Arwen is quite correct in that I seem unable to avoid mishaps!”

Faramir grinned. “As ever, your lady speaks the truth!” The smile froze on his lips as a sudden feeling of dread assailed him. He heard an almost forgotten voice from long ago, as clearly as if the speaker were standing beside him. “Ride home to your lady with all speed, ion nîn. She has need of you and the King’s healing hands!”

“What is the matter?” Aragorn enquired seeing the frozen, far away look on Faramir’s face.

“My mother just spoke to me,” said Faramir. “Éowyn needs us to return at once!”

Aragorn did not hesitate. Faramir was farsighted and given to visions. ”Then let us make haste!” he said, urging Roheryn to a gallop.

TBC

Love never ends by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. – The Bible. 13.8

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. – The Bible. 13.8

“Lady Éowyn is very ill,” the midwife said grimly. “The aftermath of the birth has gone very badly. The women of Rohan are strong it seems, but I still fear for her life, my lady.”

Arwen moved to the bedside and anxiously felt Éowyn’s brow. “If only I had not told Estel and Faramir to go hunting so soon after the babe was born! Éowyn should have her husband beside her to comfort her. She is in dire needs of my Estel’s healing skills. My father taught me, though, how to mix healing brews for women in childbed. I shall see what I can do.” She squeezed Éowyn’s hand. “Be strong, my friend, I will return soon.”

“I just want to sleep,” Éowyn whispered.

0000

Éowyn knew not for how long she slept. When she awoke, the sun was streaming through the bedroom window. A dark haired woman was sitting beside her. For a moment, Éowyn thought she was the Queen. Then the woman lifted her head and smiled at her. She had never seen the lady before. Yet she looked oddly familiar.

“I have long wanted to meet you, my daughter,” said the strange woman.

“Lady Finduilas!” Éowyn cried with a sudden flash of realisation. “But you are dead! Does that mean I am too?”

Finduilas shook her head. “That is your choice, my daughter. Long have I desired to speak to you, but not until today did Lord Námo grant me leave.”

Éowyn sat upright and studied Faramir’s mother. She had always imagined her as pale and sickly, but this woman looked to be glowing with health and vitality. She had often been told that Faramir resembled his father in appearance, but the warm gentle eyes that looked at her now were her husband’s, as were the slender hands and graceful demeanour. Next to the Queen, she was the fairest woman Éowyn had ever beheld.

“Faramir sees you as the most beautiful woman that ever lived, daughter,” said Finduilas, apparently able to sense Éowyn’s thoughts. “He loves you dearly and you have made him very happy. You are exactly the bride I would have chosen for him. With your colouring, my blue cloak suited you far better than it did me. I always looked better in scarlet, like the Queen.”

“You think so? I lack the sophistication of the ladies of Gondor. Neither do I have the mental abilities of Faramir’s people. Most likely I will die many years before my husband!” Somehow it seemed easy for Éowyn to tell Faramir’s mother all her deepest fears.

“My son knew many a lady of Gondor and found them all wanting compared with you,” said Finduilas. “You have more spirit and joy of life than the quiet women of this land, and yet you also carry Númenorean grace, as well as the pride of the House of Eorl, through your grandmother needs you to take him away from his books and make him smile. As for the mental gifts of his people, the King’s friendship will see he never lacks for a chance to use them.”

Éowyn noticed that Finduilas had ignored the last of her confidences. She wondered if the lady had come to lead her beyond the circles of the world. She felt oddly calm, as if nothing mattered any more.

“Is there anything else you would ask me, child?” said Finduilas.

“Why did Faramir’s father not love him?” said Éowyn. “That makes me so angry. Who could be more lovable than Faramir?”

Finduilas looked saddened at the question. “They were too alike,” she explained. “Denethor saw in Faramir what he could have been, had he been cursed with less pride. He did love him, but he feared Faramir’s powers of mind and strength of will, and fear can destroy love.” She wandered over to the crib where Éowyn’s newborn son lay sleeping. “Now this little one is more like unto you, and perhaps my Boromir; he will be a great prince and leader of men, but at heart a warrior rather than a lore-master. Elestelle has the far-sight of both Faramir and Denethor, and the love of music that I gave to my son. . Poor little ones, they will know less of their mother than Faramir did of me!”

“No!” cried Éowyn. “I won’t leave my children, I won’t!”

“Then fight, daughter! Fight for life, as fiercely as you fought the Witch King! Lord Námo gave me leave to come to fetch you, but I would rather not break my son’s heart again by doing so!”

“Faramir!” groaned Éowyn. ”It will destroy him to know I died bearing his child!”

“And should you live to bear more children, you will easily bring them into the world,” Finduilas said gently. “I have called for my son to bid you farewell, but it is your choice whether you go or stay. Your kinsfolk are eager to greet you beyond the circles of the world, while others who love you just as dearly desire you to abide with them here.”

“I will fight to stay with Faramir and my children!” Éowyn cried. She tried vainly to struggle to her feet. The baby started to cry.

“We will meet again one day, my child. I am proud of you.” Éowyn felt the gentlest of kisses upon her brow as she sank back upon the bed. She knew no more.

000

It was dark when Éowyn woke again. Faramir was sitting at her bedside tenderly holding her hand. Aragorn and Arwen stood at the foot of the bed. A large vase of sweet scented roses stood on a table by the window.

“Praise the Valar!” said Faramir. “You are awake my love!” He raised a glass of water to her lips and supported Éowyn while she drank Tears glittered in his grey eyes.

Aragorn moved forward and felt her brow. “The herbs Arwen gave you worked, “ he pronounced smiling. “We were very worried about you.”

“I had the strangest dream, Faramir,” said Éowyn. “I saw your mother.”

Faramir turned pale. “When Aragorn and I were on our way homewards,” he said slowly, “I suddenly heard my mother’s voice in my head telling me to return at once. We rode home with all speed.”

“There are many things we do not understand,” said Aragorn, smiling at them both. “Maybe the Lady Finduilas was indeed granted leave to return within the circles of the world for a little while in your hour of need. Those we held dear are beyond our sight, but I believe they continue to lovingly watch over us and the Higher Powers permit them to offer aid when our need is greatest.”

Faramir’s eyes were moist as he whispered “Thank you, naneth.” He felt a gentle touch upon his brow. His mother’s kiss; or was it simply a draught from the open window?

The End.

End Notes:

A/N. Last July I challenged readers on my LJ to list 3 stories I’d never write and I’d attempt a snippet of one of them (so long as it was not smut or slash) and Rhapsody suggested I write about Éowyn meeting Finduilas which turned into this story.

I had already written the “Roses” story in response to the AA challenge and decided to combine the two into a story for the Halloween season.

Star of Wonder by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

O star of wonder, star of light

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.

With thanks to Raksha

O star of wonder, star of light,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light. - John H. Hopkins

“Is that not a more suitable task for you, or Eldarion’s nanny?” Aragorn asked his wife desperately.

“I have a meeting with the Embroiderers' Guild while the nurse has the day off to visit her family,” Arwen explained. “I know you have a free afternoon.”

“Well, could not one of the nursery maids stay with Eldarion then?”

“You should know by now that our son needs a firm hand when it comes to having new clothes fitted,” Arwen said sternly. ”Last time he wriggled so much that the tailor could not alter his tunics to fit him properly. Eldarion simply hates standing still for tailor's work. He does not inherit such wildness from me!”

Aragorn fidgeted uncomfortably beneath his wife’s keen gaze. Eldarion was not the only member of the House of Telcontar who found it difficult to keep still while he had new garments fitted.

“Very well, vanimelda, I will see that Eldarion’s clothes for the Mettarë feast are fitted correctly,” conceded the King, sighing deeply.

000

“Please stand still, Master Eldarion,” begged the tailor, a short plump man with a nervous air about him.

“Do as you are told, ion nîn,” said Aragorn sternly. “Surely you want to look smart for the Mettarë Feast?”

“I hate having to wear silly clothes to attend feasts!” Eldarion grumbled in the jaded tones of one who had dozens of such occasions, rather than the three he actually had. “When you were a Ranger, Ada, did you have to dress up for Mettarë?”

Aragorn shook his head. ”The life of a wandering Ranger is a hard one, my son. We moved around too much to keep animals for food; our feasts were usually whatever we could scrounge on the day and a bottle or two of wine if we were near enough to a stash of provisions." He thought back to those cold nights of early winter spent with his men in the wilderlands. Aragorn closed his eyes for a moment remembering Halbarad and others of his Rangers who had perished in the long struggle against Sauron. "As for dressing up,most of us owned only the clothes we stood up in and a change of linens. We spent more coin on our weapons than on the cut of our cloth.

The tailor looked so shocked he dropped the bolts of silver-gilt black and gold cloth he was holding.

A sudden flash of inspiration struck Aragorn. ”If you are very good, we will celebrate Mettarë in traditional Ranger fashion before it is time for the feast.”

“Thank you, Ada!” The cloth was again knocked from the tailor’s hands as Eldarion ran to embrace his father. From then on, Eldarion stood so still and quiet that Aragorn started to fear that something ailed the boy!

000

“Is it wise to go riding with Eldarion with so little time left before the feast?” Arwen fretted. “It is bad enough when you fetch the mistletoe from Dame Gudrun!”

“That is why I fetched it yesterday, so I would have time to take Eldarion out today,” said Aragorn. “We are not going far and the weather is good for travelling. There is no snow or ice underfoot.”

“I will see that they are back in time, ”said Faramir, who was hovering at his lord’s side.

“Very well, but do not be late for the feast!” said the Queen. “I will call for the servants to bring you some hot drinks to have before you go. I do not want any of you taking a chill!”

0000

A short time later, Aragorn, Faramir and Eldarion rode out through the City gate, followed closely by several guards. It was a cold, grey winter afternoon. Dusk was starting to fall on a day that had never really been light.

“I am curious about these Northern Ranger customs of yours,” said Faramir, bringing his horse alongside Aragorn’s. ”In Ithilien, we had a bonfire and stood around it to toast the coming year and pray that the darkness would not prevail.”

“They are very simple,” said Aragorn. ”I only hope it will not be too cloudy to observe all the traditions. We begin here.” He reined Roheryn to a halt beside a large holly bush bedecked with brilliant red berries. The King dismounted and intoned “Yavanna, gracious giver, who deserts us not entirely in darkest winter, for this symbol of renewal, we thank thee.” Drawing his sword, he cut several sprigs of the dark green leaves and distributed them amongst the party, telling them to wear it on their cloaks. The King pinned Eldarion’s sprig in place telling his son. ”We wear the holly leaves as a symbol of hope that the land will be renewed. Holly is a very special plant as it is still fresh and green even in the depths of winter. The Elves have long cultivated it.”

“Where are we going, Ada?” asked Eldarion once they had remounted.

“Just as far as the copse yonder,” said Aragorn, gesturing towards some trees about a mile distant. “It should be dark by the time we get there.”

“Why does it have to be dark, Ada?” the little boy asked.

“You will see, I hope,” said Aragorn looking up anxiously to the sky. To his relief the clouds were parting as the last of the grey winter daylight faded. He urged Roheryn forward, narrowly avoiding a large stone in their path.

“Ranger festivals are very dull!” Eldarion remarked once they reached the unremarkable copse and halted before it.

“I doubt your father would bring us out here if there were not something important to see,” Faramir chided gently.

Aragorn’s keen gaze was searching the heavens. He smiled when he found what he was seeking. “Look above the tallest tree!” he cried, pointing upwards towards the Star of Eärendil, which gleamed like mithril against a small patch of velvet blue sky. ”Now make a wish!”

The company ceased chattering as they concentrated on their heart’s desires. A great stillness descended as they contemplated the shining star. Even the horses were quiet and the owl ceased her hooting.

A! Elbereth Gilthoniel! silivren penna mírielo menel aglar elenath!” Aragorn started to sing softly in a rich, clear tone.

Faramir felt tears pricking his eyes. To watch Gil-Estel rise in a sky unshadowed by the Enemy still made him shiver with joy.

Aragorn finished the hymn and then gestured to the others to join in. They all knew the words from the oldest soldier of peasant stock to the King’s young son.

“I think I like the Ranger traditions, Ada!” said Eldarion as they rode homeward.

“Every year we would look at the star and see it as a sign that the light was always there, however dark the path before us might seem,” said Aragorn. “By Elbereth’s grace, the Star of Eärendil led me safely home.”

End Notes:

A/N this was written for the “Leaf and Stone” Yule Traditions challenge.

Wishing all my readers a peaceful and happy Christmas. Special thoughts to anyone who is alone or having a difficult time at present.

Aragorn and Arwen refer to “At the Rising of the Moon” also on this site.

The song Aragorn sings is found in LOTR and translates as

O Elbereth Starkindler,
white-glittering, slanting down sparkling like a jewel,
the glory of the starry host!

A Tale of Telcontar.

The Gate of the Year by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The Gate of the Year

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year

'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'

And he replied, 'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God

That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!'- Minnie Louise Haskins 1908

With grateful thanks to Raksha

It seemed that half of Minas Tirith wanted to see the new King light the Mettarë fire. For the first time in living memory,  the people of Gondor celebrated the festival with hope. Many had lost loved ones and fighting continued in the South and East, but Sauron was no more, the air was no longer foul with ash, but fresh and sweet, and the King had returned.

Anxious not to detract attention from the King and Queen, the Steward stood a little to the side. He pulled his cloak more tightly around his shoulders. Faramir's memories were still painful at times, as were his war wounds, yet he was well content. A year ago, the future had seemed so bleak with the Enemy's threat growing daily, his brother departed on a desperate mission and his father’s moods turning ever more strange. His father and brother were now gone forever, but he had a new lord and a new life.

Faramir watched as Aragorn, his Queen at his side, walked amongst the people. Despite the chill in the night air, the King wore no gloves and reached out towards those who approached him. Faramir thought how very unlike his father the King was; where his father had been cold and distant, Aragorn was warm and easy to approach. That the common folk loved Aragorn was plain for all to see; from the smiles on their faces, to the lovingly made gifts they offered to him and his lady, all of which were received with as much gratitude as if they were priceless jewels.

A herald blew a silver trumpet and the crowd fell silent. “My dear people,” Aragorn said in a loud voice. “We may no longer mark the New Year on this day, but we do mark a new beginning for our beloved land. We have walked though the night of shadow and sacrifice into the light of new hope. Let the light in our hearts be rekindled with Anor’s strengthening rays!”

A guard handed Aragorn a flaming brand. He flung it into the heart of the bonfire, which quickly caught alight and flared up.

Faramir found himself shuddering, but not from the cold. His father had tried to burn him alive on such a fire! He recalled nothing of the terrible events, yet fire at times disturbed him deeply. Suddenly, he felt very alone. His beloved brother was no more. Éowyn’s presence would have heartened him, but she was needed beside her brother in Rohan for a while yet. He swallowed hard and took a step backward; thinking to melt into the crowd ere anyone could notice his disquiet. Then a firm yet gentle hand grasped his shoulder. Healing warmth flooded through his body at the touch. Startled, he turned and found himself looking at his King.

Aragorn said nothing, but his grey eyes were filled with kindness and compassion. The Star of Elendil that encircled his brow reflected the light from the blazing fire. As Faramir looked at him, living flames seemed to dance upon the King’s brow and brightness surrounded him. Faramir relaxed, warmed by a sudden, joyful realisation: light had returned Gondor in the person of the King himself.

Strong and of good courage by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

Strong, and of good courage

Be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed – The Bible..22

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate.

With grateful thanks to Raksha

Faramir slowly picked his way through the rubble, his head bowed. Although weeks had passed, an acrid smell still lingered in what remained of the House of Stewards.

As he neared his destination, his steps grew even slower. Others had offered to carry out this task for him, but this was meant for him alone. Only a Ruling Steward or the Rightful King was meant to touch an object of such power. In a few days, the King would come and Faramir intended to hand over what was now rightfully his. Faramir hoped only he would have the strength to carry it out. His still healing wounds throbbed painfully.

He had been insensible when his father brought him here to burn him - and yet sometimes he felt as if he remembered brief flashes of what had happened that day. Or maybe it was simply his imagination trying to comprehend the horror of how Denethor had died? He repressed a shudder.

The Steward knew that what remained of his father had been decently interred, so he would not have to face that gruesome sight. The stone table was still here though, where Faramir had been laid to burn. He was certain what he was seeking was here too. He doubted any mortal fire could consume it.

Faramir found the object in a corner, covered in dust and ash. Cursing himself inwardly for not bring a sack, he scooped it up in his cloak and carried it to his rooms.

His mission accomplished, Faramir sank on to a chair. He took deep breaths to steady himself. He could hardly give the palantír to the King, as it was, filthy and covered in ash. Cautiously, he unwrapped his cloak from around the Seeing Stone. He called for a servant to bring a cloth and cleaning materials.

“Does aught ail you, my lord?” enquired the girl, seeing his pale face. ”Can I help you?”

“I am well, thank you. You may go now.”

How Faramir wished he could entrust this task to another! He could not take the risk though of letting any unwary soul touch the stone that had destroyed his father. Sauron was no more, but it was still a powerful object. Taking up the cloth, he started to clean away the dust and grime. The palantír seemed undamaged by the fire. When Faramir began to polish it, it tingled and seemed to come aliveat his touch. He tried to avert his eyes from the Stone, but they were drawn there as if by some unseen force. Then he saw the hands; withered and contorted with agony. His father’s hands! Faramir shook with emotion.

When the Steward regained his composure, he was seized by nausea. Somehow, he managed to wrap the palantír in a several layers of cloth and stow it carefully away.

***

“I have brought you this, my lord. It is yours by right.” Faramir placed the shrouded object on the King’s desk and bowed low.

Aragorn studied his Steward anxiously. The man looked pale as a ghost and very fragile. The King hoped fervently that Faramir would be strong enough for the high office with which he had entrusted him. ”Are you well?” he enquired. ”Is there anything I might do to aid you?”

“I am well, sire; thank you. The performance of my duties is aid enough. Here is the Anor-stone that my longfathers have held for you; I have found and cleaned it. If I might be excused?”

Aragorn nodded. “Remember, you may come to me at any time,” he said as Faramir departed.

The King unwrapped the bundle and picked up the palantír. Almost at once he saw the withered hands and dropped the object back on the desk, shuddering in revulsion. Faramir, the son of the owner of those hands, had retrieved it from the Rath Dinen where the young man had nearly met his death, and brought it here to him! Faramir possessed strength far greater than Aragorn could ever have imagined. This younger son of Denethor’s was proving an extraordinary man. Together he hoped they could renew the greatness and glory of Gondor.

A/N. Written for the AA Group Prompt, “Strong.”

By the River by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

By the River

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has, nor will be made from this story.

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. - Psalm 137

With thanks to Raksha

 

The moon emerged from behind a sea of swirling clouds, which made it appear to sail across the sky. Faramir noted a golden ring around it. What bitter irony, that the likeness of the thing that destroyed his brother should appear tonight of all nights!

Showing he had lost none of the ability to move silently learned as a Ranger, Faramir evaded the Guards and made his way to the stables. He saddled his horse and made his way through the silent City streets. The Guard on the gate knew him and let him pass without questioning him.

Faramir rode down to the river. The water looked almost black in the moonlight. The stars seemed veiled tonight, as if the Star Kindler was loth to show her treasures to Men. Faramir wondered what had he hoped to accomplish by coming here on the anniversary of his brother’s death? Was he hoping to again catch a glimpse of the vision that had come to him when Boromir died?

Faramir closed his eyes, trying to recall Boromir as he once had been. Hideous images assailed his thoughts of his brother heavily outnumbered and struck by a hail of arrows. His shoulder, still paining him at times from the strike of a single arrow, throbbed in the damp February air. The Steward wondered how greatly Boromir had suffered. Had he called for him or their father? If only he could have offered him the comfort of a loving brother’s presence as he breathed his last!

Faramir could no longer contain his emotions. He sank to his knees and sobbed as if his heart would break.

So great was his grief that he did not hear the horse approaching, nor the rider dismount, and make his way towards him. He started only when a hand clasped his shoulder.

“Easy now,” said a familiar voice.

“My lord!” Faramir tried vainly to rise, only to find his legs were too numb.

“Easy now,” Aragorn repeated. Unexpectedly he crouched beside Faramir and enfolded him in a tight embrace.

Much to his shame, Faramir found the tears flowing all the faster. The strong arms that held him, reminded him of his brother. Aragorn said nothing. He simply crouched on the riverbank supporting Faramir, rubbing his back and the Steward’s painful shoulder. Faramir wondered at his lord’s uncanny ability to sense what he was feeling.

After a few minutes Aragorn said gently, “Come now, your brother is not here, trapped within the circles of the world. He would not want you to sit on a freezing river bank when you could be warm and safe within doors!”

Faramir finally managed to rise, albeit with a discreet helping hand from the King. “I keep wondering, did he suffer much?” he whispered, rubbing his sleeve across his eyes.

Aragorn shook his head. ”No, I swear he did not. Let your heart be at rest. Boromir died quickly, and was not in great pain.”

“I am glad you were with him,” said Faramir. ”How did you know I would be here tonight?”

“I recalled what date it is too, and kept a look out for you lest you needed a friend.”

“Did the Guards not try to stop you, sire?”

“Do not forget that I, too was a Ranger!” Aragorn chuckled.

The two men stood on the bank staring at the river. The moon finally emerged fully from behind the clouds. The silver orb reflected in the rippling water had an eerie beauty. An owl gave a haunting cry. A great sense of peace descended over the grieving Steward.

“It is beautiful, is it not!” said Aragorn. ”I have several times escaped the Guards to bring my lady here, though not in February!”

King and Steward turned away from the water and returned to their horses. They rode swiftly to the Citadel. Faramir wished the distance were further. He dreaded returning to his lonely room. He could, of course, summon a servant to stay with him, but a near stranger’s company was worse than being alone. Much to the younger man’s surprise, Aragorn followed him to his apartments.

“I will brew you some herbs, and then stay with you until you sleep,” the King announced.

“But what of your lady, sire? Will she not fret?”

“Arwen understands. She is no stranger to sorrow,” Aragorn said simply.

Faramir disappeared into his dressing room to change into his night attire. When he emerged, he was dismayed to discover the King building up the fire.

“My lord!” he protested. “You should not wait upon me!”

“Becoming King has not rendered me incapable of performing tasks I used to do every day!” Aragorn said with a smile. “I needed a good fire to make some tea!”

Thus saying, he took a pan from the hearth. “Drink this!” he told Faramir, pouring a cup of a hot, fragrant brew for the Steward, and another for himself.

Faramir leaned back against the pillows sipping his tea. The fire blazed cheerfully giving the room a comforting glow. On a chair by the hearth sat the King, also drinking tea. Faramir realised he still had much to learn about this new lord who treated him so kindly, almost like a father or brother. His eyes grew heavy. Tomorrow, it would all no doubt, seem like a dream. The day he had dreaded so much was past. Next year when the anniversary of this day came, he would have Éowyn beside him. Tonight hope had appeared again in an hour of darkness.

 

End Notes:

A/N This is an extended version of a ficlet written for the AA Group prompt "River". I am publishing it today to mark the anniversary of Boromir's death.

A Day at the Houses by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:
A Day at the Houses

The physician must not only be the healer, but often the consoler - Harriot K. Hunt

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

With thanks to Virtuella and Raksha

 

Humming softly to himself, Aragorn, flanked by two guards, made his way to the Houses of Healing for his weekly visit. Out of all his duties, healing gave him the greatest satisfaction. Not only was it an opportunity to help his subjects, but also to meet them and learn about their joys and sorrows.

Dame Idril, a plump and pleasant faced woman in her middle years, who cared for many of the women and children, met him at the door, a troubled expression on her face. “I am glad you are here, my lord,” she said. “A woman was brought in with a high fever yesterday. She is very agitated and in great distress.”

“Athelas should help her,” said Aragorn and followed the woman in what had become a familiar routine as she ordered a servant to bring some hot water.

Within the hour, the sick woman was sleeping peacefully, her mind calmed and the fever abated by the athelas and Aragorn’s healing touch.

“Who else requires my help today?” Aragorn asked.

“Old Finnwyn is much troubled by painful ulcers on her legs, but I have no idea if she will see you or not,” said Idril. “She is quite a character!”

“Why not ask her?” Aragorn suggested.

He followed Idril to Finnwyn’s room and waited outside the door.

“No, it isn’t proper, having a man in my room, it isn’t!” shouted an old woman’s voice from within.

“He is the King and a great healer too,” Idril reasoned.

“Well, he’s still a man, and I am not having a man in my bedroom,” Finnwyn said firmly. “I’ll box his ears if dares come near my bed, king or not!”

Idril emerged from the room and closed the door behind her. ”I fear the lady says no,” she replied.

Aragorn smiled wryly. ”She is not the first patient to refuse my help, and it is her right. I will send you some Elven salves which should aid her.”

Just then, Aragorn’s friend and fellow healer, Aedred, appeared. ”Pardon me, Mistress Idril,” he said, “but the Warden would welcome the King’s help in treating a man with a badly fractured leg. Poppy juice is not easing his pain.”

Aragorn followed the Rohirric healer to a room where the Warden, Tarostar, was trying to set a broken limb. Two assistants held down the writhing and screaming patient. Aragorn hastened to the bedside and gripped the man’s hand, laying his other hand on the sweat soaked brow. ”Easy, now, easy!” he said in a compelling yet soothing tone. He then closed his eyes and held his hands a few inches about the injured leg.

The patient’s breathing eased as the pain lessened. “Thank you," he whispered. He managed a faint smile. Aragorn then sent him into a healing slumber while his injury was treated.

“Thank you, my lord,” said Tarostar. “It should be a simple matter to set the broken bone now.”

“There is another patient I will take you to see,” said Aedred. ”One Amras, who was until recently apprenticed to a carpenter until he was dismissed for idleness. He is troubled by pains in his limbs, which render him unable to walk, and none here can find the cause. Master Tarostar has examined him, as have I. You are our last hope of determining his malady!”

“I am certain if anything serious ailed him, you would have found it,” said Aragorn. ”Nevertheless, I will see what I can do.”

Amras started to moan quietly as Aragorn and Aedred entered the room, and when Aragorn examined him, he screamed louder than the patient with the broken leg. Aragorn held his hands a few inches above the man’s limbs and frowned at his findings. ”This is a strange malady indeed, Master Aedred,” he said, winking at the Rohirric healer. ”The only way we can help this poor fellow is to amputate all his limbs, which I suggest we do immediately!”

With a loud cry of alarm, Amras leapt from the bed and grabbed his clothes. Still wearing his nightshirt, he fled from the room.

Aedred burst out laughing. ”One of your most miraculous cures yet, my lord!” he chuckled. ”We suspected he was in search of free bed and board, but had no way of proving it!”

“I could sense his limbs were sound” said Aragorn and grinned. ”Of course he had no way of knowing that. I doubt he will trouble you again unless a genuine malady afflicts him! Now who else do you want me to see?”

“I think that is all for today as -” Aedred was unable to finish the sentence because he was interrupted by a servant telling him that a youth had been admitted.

“You are welcome to come with me if you have the time, my lord,” said the healer as he bustled off to see his next patient.

“I am always happy to assist you,” said Aragorn, easily outpacing his companion.

They found the boy, who appeared to be about seventeen years of age, lying on a bed looking rather pale and clutching his chest.

“What happened, lad?” Aragorn asked kindly.

“I went to visit my sweetheart and we were just exchanging a kiss.” The boy flashed scarlet.

“Only a kiss?” Aedred asked sternly.

“I swear it was, master,” said the boy. ”Her brother objected, though, as he came back from market at just the wrong moment. He punched me and I fell against a table.”

“Let me have a look and see what the damage is,” said Aragorn, while Aedred helped the unhappy boy to remove his tunic and shirt and covered him with a blanket. ”Now where does it hurt?”

“Here,” said the boy, gesturing to the ribs on his left side.

“I fear you have two cracked ribs, lad,” said Aragorn as he skilfully examined the youth. “I will ease your pain as best I can, but you will have to rest while they heal. And resting includes not visiting young ladies with protective brothers!”

“Yes, Master Healer,” said the boy who obviously did not recognise the King, though he looked puzzled when Aragorn eased his pain by holding his hands a few inches above the injury before applying a salve made from comfrey leaves.

“You can stay here overnight,” said Aedred. “You ought to be able to go home tomorrow. I will fetch you a nightshirt to wear.”

He left the room, accompanied by Aragorn.

“I think he will be well, but send for me if he has any difficulty breathing during the night,” said Aragorn.

“Injuries like this must seem very mundane for a healer who has healed the Black Breath and terrible battle wounds,” Aedred remarked.

“How much better things are, though,” said the King. “A few years ago, a boy of this age would be fighting orcs, I have seen far younger ones die among the Northern Dúnedain fighting for their lives and everything they hold dear. I would prefer by far to be tending the victims of love rather than war.”

 

End Notes:

A/N. This is an extended version of a ficlet written for the prompt” Bed” in the AA Group. A Tale of Telcontar.

I have not forgotten “Coastal Tales” and hope to resume them soon.

Hunting the Dragon by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:
Hunting the Dragon

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate.


With thanks to Raksha.

"Brave Beren killed the wicked monster, Carcharoth. They all lived happily ever afterwards,” Aragorn told his son.

“Truly?” asked Eldarion. “There were no more monsters in the kingdom?”

“Not one,” Aragorn said firmly. “It is time to sleep now, ion nîn. I will tell you another story tomorrow.” He bent and tucked the covers around the little boy.

“Where is Smaug?” Eldarion asked sleepily.

Aragorn glanced around the room. He could see no sign of Eldarion’s favourite toy. “Is he not in bed with you?” the King asked, feeling under the covers. There was only a wriggling small boy there. Aragorn sighed. Doubtless, the toy was on the floor under the bed. Dropping on his hands and knees, he prepared to investigate. He found a ball, some marbles, and a half eaten cake, not to mention a great deal of dust. Of Smaug there was no sign.

Sneezing, Aragorn got to his feet, determining to have a stern word with the maid who was supposed to clean Eldarion’s room each morning. “Smaug is not there,” he told his son. “You will have to sleep with another toy tonight. What about Shadowfax?” The King picked up Eldarion’s toy horse from a shelf as he spoke.

“I don’t want Shadowfax! I want Smaug!” Eldarion’s lower lip began to tremble.

“Don’t cry, ion nîn, ada will find him for you,” Aragorn said reassuringly, repressing an inner groan. Arwen was attending an important meeting of the Weavers Guild and he had blithely assured her that he could settle Eldarion to sleep before she returned. “Your nanny will sit with you for a while I find your toy,” Aragorn told his son after vainly searching the rest of the room.

After checking with the woman that she had not seen the toy, Aragorn went in search of his friend and Steward. Faramir was good at solving problems and would surely know what to do. The Steward was fortunately in the Citadel to attend a Council Meeting upon the morrow.

“I wondered if you might know, since you grew up in the City, which craftsman made Smaug?” Aragorn asked after telling his friend his dilemma. “I thought we could tell the man we urgently required another dragon.”

“Have you forgotten, mellon nîn, that the toy was a birthday gift for Eldarion from King Thranduil?” said Faramir.

Aragorn buried his face in his hands. He could hardly send a messenger to Eryn Lasgalen to return with a new toy that night.

“A toy dragon cannot have flown too far,” Faramir said hopefully. ”We will just have to hunt for it in all the places where Eldarion has been this day. The guards and servants can assist us.”

Soon Aragorn’s apartments were in an uproar as every cushion was moved, every chair looked under, and every cupboard turned out. The cook even looked in the ovens, while the Master of Hounds searched the kennels. High and low they searched, but there was no sign of Smaug.

“Whatever is going on?” Arwen answered, entering with two of her ladies.

“Eldarion has lost his favourite toy, vanimelda, and cannot go to sleep without it!” Aragorn explained. “We have hunted everywhere in vain!”

“Have you tried the Great Hall?” asked Arwen.

“Eldarion does not go in there!” Aragorn protested.

“Don’t you remember anything?” chided the Queen. “I brought him in to see you in your crown and robes this morning after you had judged the prisoners.”

“Of course!” said Aragorn. ”I have had such a busy day that this morning's judgments seemed to have passed a long time ago!”

King, Queen and Steward made their way to the Great Hall. There on the throne, grinning at them with finely carved jaws, sat Smaug. 

Aragorn grabbed the toy and bore it in triumph to his son’s bedchamber only to find the child sleeping peacefully with his chubby fingers clasped around Shadowfax.

“I gave Master Eldarion his toy horse and told him to go to sleep,” said the nanny in reply to Aragorn’s query. “Good as gold, he was!”

King and Queen exchanged a rueful glance before placing Smaug on the bed and tiptoeing from the room.

“Eldarion was fast asleep clutching his toy horse!” Aragorn informed Faramir who was waiting outside. “Thank you for helping me search for Smaug.”

“I know how much a favourite toy means to a child,” said Faramir. “ I truly loved my wooden horse and a brightly covered picture book when I was Eldarion’s age.”

“I had a set of carved Elven warriors that I would play with until the colours wore away,” said Aragorn. “And then there was my favourite wooden sword....”

“Come and join us for dinner, Faramir,” said Arwen. “You can both tell me more about your favourite toys while we eat.”

“An excellent suggestion,” smiled Aragorn and after we have eaten I must show you the latest books I have acquired for the royal library."

Faramir’s eyes lit up with childlike joy.

Arwen suppressed a smile. It seemed that little boys never truly grew up.

End Notes:

A/N This is a longer version of a ficlet originally written for the AA Prompt. “Hunt”

This ficlet is complete in itself, but will be continued with a companion story.

A Tale of Telcontar.

The Silver Tree by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The Silver Tree

The characters are the property of the Tolkien estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.

.

Sleep was slow to come to Faramir. His heart still ached for the loss of his brother and because of the manner of his father’s death. Many good things had happened too; the coming of the King, his love for the Lady Éowyn; the defeat of the Dark Lord, and his own rescue from the Shadow, but when he was in his room late at night, alone in the silence and darkness, sometimes his mind was troubled by all that had happened within the past months.

Inwardly berating himself for his low spirits, Faramir decided that the best remedy for brooding was to be found in work. He rose from his bed, lit the candles and pulled on a shirt and breeches, then settled down at the small desk in the corner of his chamber to study a report concerning repairing the main gate of the City.

A tap came at his door, so softly at first, that Faramir thought he had imagined it. Then again, louder, accompanied by the sound of someone softly calling his name.

Faramir went to the door and opened it. To his amazement the King stood on the threshold, holding a lantern.

“My lord!” Faramir exclaimed, bowing low. “How might I be of service?”

“There is no need for such formality, Faramir.” The King smiled. “I trust I did not disturb your rest? I saw your candle burning and hoped you were awake. I should like to show you something, if you would care to come with me. Bring your cloak, the night air is quite chill.”

”Of course, my lord.”

Faramir hastily snatched up his cloak and blew out the candles. He followed the King as they softly made their way through the almost deserted corridors, nodding a greeting to the guards on duty.

Once they were outside, it was almost as bright as day in the clear moonlight. Earlier rain had left the air fresh and clean and faintly perfumed with spring blossoms. It was the kind of night that poets sang about.

Somewhere in the distance an owl hooted seeking her mate.

“Come!” said Aragorn leading the way towards the Court of the Fountain. “I came out earlier for a breath of air and saw this. It is too fair to keep to myself, and I thought at once, that you were the man most likely to appreciate it.”

He hurried ahead with great long strides, which the Steward, still recovering from his wounds, found hard to keep up with. He understood now why the Hobbits referred to the King as Strider. Their footsteps echoed on the flagstones.

Aragorn paused and waited for the younger man to catch up. “I am sorry,” he said contritely. “Sometimes I forget I am no longer alone in the wilds!”

Faramir could think of no reply. He still did not quite know what to make of his new lord. Already he loved and admired him, but the King also baffled him at times.

“Look!” said Aragorn as they rounded a bend. He stopped and gazed upwards.

Faramir followed his gaze and gasped in awe. The new White Tree had blossomed the day before. Faramir had thought that one of the fairest sights he had ever seen when the flowers, bathed in the fountain’s droplets, sparkled in the sun. But the moonlit tree looked not only beautiful, but also truly enchanted. The white blooms had turned to silver and seemed to glow against the midnight sky. “Surely Nimloth itself could not have looked fairer!” he exclaimed.

“I thought you would enjoy seeing our new White Tree thus,” said Aragorn. He gripped Faramir’s shoulder.

The Steward felt a surge of warmth and healing, not only for himself, but his beloved land, already beginning to blossom beneath the Returned King’s touch.

End Notes:
/N

Verily this is a sapling of the line of Nimloth the fair; and that was a seedling of Galathilion, and that a fruit of Telperion of many names,

And Aragorn planted the new tree in the court by the fountain, and swiftly and gladly it began to grow; and when the month of June entered in it was laden with blossom. – Tolkien

A sequel to my story “The White Tree”. A Tale of Telcontar written for the LOTRGFIC Challenge “Out on a Limb” .

Waters of Life by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

By the waters of Life we sat together,
Hand in hand, in the golden days
Of the beautiful early summer weather,
When skies were purple and breath was praise – Thomas Noel 1799-1861

With grateful thanks to Raksha for her help

A gift for Julia

This is where I found the stream, my lady, just up here,” Faramir explained.

Aragorn smiled at the Steward and took his wife’s hand, helping her up the steep slope. He had long desired to show her the hidden lake, Faramir’s discovery of which had restored both King and Steward in body and soul.

Today was the anniversary of the King and Queen‘s marriage and together with their Steward; they were taking a rare break from their duties and exploring the slopes of Mount Mindolluin. Arwen had finally decided that now Eldarion was fully weaned, he was old enough to be left for a full day in the care of his nurse.

Arwen gazed upon the stream in delight. Its clear waters sparkled like diamonds in the June sunlight. “It reminds me of fair Nimrodel!” she said. Kneeling beside it, she cupped her hands and drank deeply.” Never before have I tasted water so sweet outside of the Elven realms!” she exclaimed in delight. “It would further gladden my heart to see the lake from whence this stream flows.”

“I will lead you up the mountain to it, beloved,” said Aragorn, smiling at his wife’s obvious delight.

“I will await you here,” Faramir announced.

“You are welcome to join us, mellon nîn,” said Aragorn. “We do not plan to go swimming, so you need not worry about respecting the Queen’s privacy.”

Although Arwen could swim, she did not especially enjoy it, unlike the two men. The King was secretly relieved. He feared disrobing here to go swimming in the lake with his beautiful wife might arouse feelings, which would be far better suited for their bedchamber than for this hallowed place.

“I would rather stay here and admire the view,” said Faramir. "I am not especially partial to climbing mountains.”

Aragorn smiled at him gratefully, acknowledging his tact. He had wanted Faramir to come with them, feeling it was only fitting that the Steward should show Arwen the stream he had discovered. Yet he yearned to be alone with his wife when he showed her this special place.

“We will return soon, farewell for a while.” Patting his friend on the shoulder, Aragorn took his leave of the Steward and offered his wife his arm to escort her up the mountainside.

Arwen’s Elven grace made her surer of foot than her husband. Soon it was she who guided and aided him as they toiled up the steepest part of the path.

Aragorn became slightly apprehensive as they rounded the final bend. Was the lake truly as beautiful as he recalled? Sometimes, it seemed almost like a dream, the short time he had spent there with Faramir and experienced the nearness and the blessings of the One.

“Let me go first now.” He tightly gripped Arwen’s hand. Together they emerged onto the plateau.

His fears were groundless. If anything, the mountain lake was even fairer than when he had first beheld it. The clear blue sky reflected in the peaceful waters, while an air of wondrous tranquillity pervaded the atmosphere. The scent of fair blossoms perfumed the air while graceful butterflies danced amidst the flowers. Even the birds sang more sweetly here. Graceful swans glided across the lake’s surface while the breeze rippled the flowers and grasses that grew along the verdant shores.

“Estel!” Arwen’s beautiful eyes sparkled with sheer joy. “This place is wondrous fair! See, here is the niphedil you told me of!” She knelt on the grass and tenderly caressed the fair white blossoms. For a moment her eyes filled with tears at the memories of the parents who had taught her to love these blooms and the grandmother in whose now deserted realm they grew so freely.

“Arwen!” Aragorn knelt beside her and tenderly stroked her hair. “I did not realize that such sights would make you homesick. Maybe I should not have brought you here. Forgive me!”

“There is no need, Estel. Home is where you are at my side,” she assured him fervently. “And how can this not be my home since the flowers that bloomed for my foremother rise up to greet me! I will not swim, but I would taste the water.” Thus saying, she pulled off her shoes and stockings and waded into the shallows, lifting the hem of her gown free of the water. She laughed joyfully as the waves rippled over her bare feet.

Aragorn hastily shed his own footwear and rolled up his breeches to his knees. He joined her. Hand in hand, they encircled the lake. The birdsong grew ever more rapturous.

“The birds offer me sweet music!” she exclaimed, “I must dance!”

Aragorn sat on the bank and watched her, enthralled. Her graceful form seemed almost to float above the grass. Her beauty and charm had not dimmed since that long ago day when he had first glimpsed her amongst the birches at Rivendell. In his eyes, marriage and motherhood had enhanced her loveliness even more.

Her voice soared in an ancient lay, more rapturous than the nightingale.

No longer content merely to watch, Aragorn joined her, though he felt clumsy by comparison. Her soft cheek caressed his and memories flooded back of the time they had spent together in Lothlórien. Her song was filled with an ecstasy he had not heard since those long vanished days of bliss when they had trodden barefoot on Cerin Amroth.

Wearied at last, they sank together on the bank and Aragorn took her tenderly in his arms and kissed her. "Vanimelda, how I love you!” he exclaimed.

“I love you more with each day that passes, Estel!” she told him, returning his kiss. How she delighted to feel his strong arms around her!

They knew not for how long they tarried there, savouring each other’s nearness and exchanging tender kisses.

Suddenly, the breeze ceased and the birds fell silent. It were as if all nature held her breath in eager anticipation.

Arwen grasped her husband’s hand tightly, sensing they were no longer alone, but in the highest Presence of all. The One was there, and they were a part of something so immense that no words could ever describe it. They were blessed by that Presence, telling them they were, and ever would be, the Children of Eru, granted an especial grace throughout eternity.

Arwen sensed yet another blessing; new life was stirring within her.

King and Queen rose to their feet and reverently bowed their heads.

Hand in hand they descended the mountainside to rejoin Faramir, the light still shining in their eyes.

End Notes:

A/N This is a sequel to “A Time to Reap”, especially chapters 9 and 10 set about four years after the conclusion of the story.

It has been published on other sites for some time, but somehow I forgot to post it here.

A Gift For Faramir by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

Summary: Faramir receives an unexpected gift.

Rating: G

Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. The story was written for pleasure not profit.

With grateful thanks to Raksha.

The crisp autumn leaves crackled under Faramir’s booted feet. He smiled at the memories the sound evoked: the glad days of childhood, when he and Boromir ran and played together. ’Twas a pity that he was now too old for childish games! He was only snatching this brief respite in the crisp air because the preparations for the King’s return were making his head ache after a very busy morning.

Aragorn had been spending some time at Legolas’ Elven domain together with his Queen and his foster brothers. He had sent a message that he would call on Faramir and Éowyn on his way back to Minas Tirith. It would be good to see his lord and friend again, Faramir thought contentedly. The King had only been gone for two weeks, but Faramir had missed his companionship and their regular debates over lore and history, a subject dear to the hearts of both men.

Faramir stood looking over his lands. The fields had yielded a rich harvest and now lay fallow until the spring planting. The trees, so green in summer, now bore varied brilliant hues of orange, gold and bronze. Even all these years after the defeat of the Dark Lord, Faramir never failed to appreciate the beauty of the land at peace and give thanks for it.

The sound of leaves crackling behind him made Faramir start. Whoever could be there? He had told his guards that he wished to take a solitary walk. Faramir spun round, his hand upon his sword. There, much to his surprise stood Aragorn. And the King was not alone either. Aragorn bore a wriggling hound pup he in his arms.

“Well met, my friend!” Aragorn exclaimed. “ I would embrace you, but as you see, my arms are rather full!”

“It is good to see you!” Faramir replied. “Forgive me, but I did not expect you until later. Éowyn is preparing a feast in your honour.” He moved forward to clasp his lord’s shoulder in greeting, and then held out his hand for the puppy to inspect. Faramir, accustomed to both the slender greyhounds of Dol Amroth and the larger, shaggier wolf-killers of the Mark, looked appreciatively on the animal. The pup was very young but would be quite big in maturity, with a good bone structure, a short and smooth grey coat, and soft eyes that fixed on his. The pup sniffed Faramir’s fingertips and began to enthusiastically lick his fingers, then his palm. “Quite a fine puppy!” he exclaimed with a laugh. “What is its name?”

“That is for you to decide, my friend,” said Aragorn. “Elladan and Elrohir have been breeding hounds from a pair that Master Elrond left behind for them. Some say they are descended from Huan himself, though their true ancestry is long lost in the mists of time. I have seen many a fine hound, but the Rivendell breed are the most loyal, intelligent dogs that ever I have known. Not only do they track all manner of dangerous creatures, but they are both the guards and playmates of children. ”

“This is a wondrous gift indeed!” said Faramir. His face was alight with joy.

“No Man deserves him more,” said Aragorn. “I could not wish for a better Steward, or a more loyal and loving friend.” He handed the pup to Faramir as he spoke. The little creature nosed and licked the Steward’s face before settling contentedly in his arms.

Later that night Faramir and Éowyn sat together on the sofa in front of a roaring fire. The children were all tucked up in bed asleep while the King and Queen and their family had departed for the City. The Lord and Lady of Ithilien sat quietly, enjoying each other’s company in the hour before bed. The puppy lay stretched across both their laps, his head pillowed in the crook of Faramir’s arm, while a gently wagging tail rewarded Éowyn’s caresses of the little creature’s flank.

“He is almost as good a gift as a horse,” Éowyn mused. “The other hounds seem to have quickly taken to him. You are a lucky man, Faramir!”

“I believe I am the most fortunate man alive,” Faramir replied planting a tender kiss on her lips. “I am blessed with you and our children; I have the best of lords, our land prospers, and now I even have an Elven hound! Could any other man be as glad as I am?”

Faramir was about to say more, but was silenced by the puppy licking his face. Its eagerly wagging tail brushed across Éowyn’s cheek. It seemed the latest addition to the family would be as contented as its lord and lady.

End Notes:

A/N. This story was written as a birthday gift for Raksha then revised and entered for the Teitho Contest where it was placed third.

Before it was broken by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

Title: Before it was Broken
Rating: G
Theme: Letters
Elements: Thank you letter
Beta: Raksha and Virtuella. With grateful thanks.

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

Arwen could delay the dreaded task no longer. Eldarion was asleep, watched over by his nurse, Estel was at a meeting of the Council, she had no engagements that morning, and for once, no one was desiring an audience with the Queen of Gondor and Arnor.

Sighing, Arwen sat down at her desk and dipped the quill in the ink. She had told Estel of her dilemma over breakfast that morning, but her husband had simply laughed. “It cannot be that bad,” he had said. “A simple note of thanks will suffice.”

“But the Peredhil do not lie!” Arwen had protested. “It is truly hideous! Yet, I would not hurt the feelings of two kind and well meaning friends.”

“You excel at diplomatic skills,” Estel had assured her. Then with a kiss on her cheek and another on Eldarion’s dark curls, he was gone, leaving Arwen with the object of her nightmares.

The Queen studied the vase again. 'Hideous' was only one way to describe it. 'Garish' would be an equally apt description. About a foot tall, the vase was decorated with a clashing array of purple irises and yellow tulips, far too lavishly embellished with thick bands of gold leaf, under the rim and at the base, which overshadowed the flowers and made it glitter so brightly that it would hurt sensitive eyes to look upon it for long. Estel had told her that gold was highly prized in Southron lands .which meant that the ugly vase was a gift betokening great respect. This only added to Arwen’s dilemma. She must thank Lord Tahir and Lady Adiva properly, but how could she without lying?

Her eyes wandered across the room to where a beautiful vase of silver, inlaid with pearl, stood holding a few sprigs of evergreens. The cherished heirloom, which had belonged to her grandmother, was exactly what a vase should look like, elegant and understated, so that the eye was drawn to the greenery or flowers and not the container they stood in.

But then, the Elves had dwelled for centuries in temperate climes where abundant flowers and foliage flourished, unlike the Ambassador from Harad and his lady.

Arwen took a deep breath and began to write

My dear Lord Tahir and Lady Adiva,
It was kind of you to think of us this Mettarë

That much at least was true; the Haradrim had no similar festival, their desert clime having little variation in seasons or length of days.

How thoughtful that you should remember how much I love flowers.

Another sincere sentiment, Lady Adiva had noticed that the Queen’s sitting room was never without a vase of whatever flowers were in season. She was not to know that of all flowers Arwen liked irises and tulips the least, considering them stiff and formal. Tulips originated in Harad and were much prized there as a rarity that flourished only in the cooler highland regions. Irises, too grew in the region, and as for the hue, Arwen made no secret that purple was a favourite shade of hers. Who was to know that she much preferred the humble violet to the haughty iris?

I will think of you both whenever I behold your kind gift.

Arwen paused. Much as she would like to, she could hardly consign the vase to the back of a cupboard, or donate it to be sold for the poor. Tahir and Adiva were fairly regular visitors. But the thought of using such a monstrosity to display flowers when she had such beautiful vases made her cringe!

“Naneth!” A miniature whirlwind burst through the slightly open door as Eldarion toddled towards his mother.

“My apologies, my lady, I could not catch him!” the breathless nursemaid gasped as she vainly pursued her charge.

“He can stay with me for a while. He is almost due to be fed.” Arwen dismissed the girl with a smile. She handed her son one of the quills off her desk to play with. His chubby little legs exhausted, Eldarion started to crawl around the floor, brandishing the quill in a manner reminiscent of the way his father held Andúril.

Arwen returned to contemplating her letter, but something, maybe a mother’s instinct, caused her to look up after a few moments. Eldarion had crawled towards the table where the precious pearl inlaid silver vase stood and was about to pull off the cloth.

“No, Eldarion!” Arwen cried sternly, leaping to her feet. Reaching a decision, she called for her maid.

An hour later, and after a full and sleepy Eldarion had been returned to the nursery, Arwen returned to writing her letter. On the table a vase full of greenery still stood, but instead of her cherished heirloom, it was the gift of the Harad Ambassador and his wife. Better that she should endure this monstrosity for a time in order to still enjoy something of nature that meant so much to her kind, rather than have Eldarion shatter the heirloom that had been cherished in her family for centuries.

She picked up the quill and concluded.

The vase will be most useful for my sitting room, as I love to always have flowers about me. It was just what I needed this winter.

I hope you will both visit us very soon and look forward to seeing you and hearing all the latest news about your children. Maybe your youngest would like to play with Eldarion?

Arwen smiled as she signed and sealed the letter. Maybe as a mother of five, Adiva knew that treasured processions had to be locked out of the way of lively young children and had considered something that she had not?

‘Perhaps the vase was not such a hideous gift after all?’ Arwen mused. And was not an even greater gift that former enemies could now be good friends? She gave the letter to a servant to deliver, inwardly congratulating herself that every word was true!

 

End Notes:

This story is a prequel to “The Vase that was Broken”
 http://lindahoyland.yolasite.com/the-vase-that-was-broken.php

Arwen’s favourite vase is mentioned in “A Time to Reap” chapter 4.
http://lindahoyland.yolasite.com/a-time-to-reap.php

Lord Tahir and Lady Adiva appear in “Dies Irae”
http://lindahoyland.yolasite.com/dies-irae.php

Written for the LOTR Community March Challenge - Letters.

Be Fruitful and Multiply by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No Profit will be made.

And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; The Bible - Genesis 35.11

With grateful thanks to Deandra

 

By any standards the chamber was magnificent. Fine tapestries and paintings covered the walls; a carpet woven with the motive of the White Tree covered the floor. Thickly cushioned, comfortable chairs were arranged round the room, while many priceless and beautiful ornaments adorned the room.

To the three man pacing across the floor, they might have been in a prison or a wretched hovel for all the attention they paid to their surroundings.

"She is too young," Faramir said grimly.

"My mother was even younger when I was born," said Aragorn.

"Those were dangerous times and Lord Arathorn needed an heir," Faramir replied. "Even so, Lady Gilraen's father objected!"

"As do all fathers when their daughters marry, I believe," said Eldarion, trying to appear older than his twenty-two years.

"I welcomed your union with my daughter," Faramir protested. "She is just too young to be a mother yet! Now, I was seven and thirty before I married. "

"Elestelle desired to be wed as soon as we came of age as much as I did!" Eldarion retorted. "And we both eagerly desired a child of our own as soon as the Valar would grant us one."

A loud scream, followed by a woman shouting "I will kill him!" came from the adjoining chamber, stopping all three men in their tracks. Faramir looked as if he might be about to throttle Eldarion until Aragorn stepped between them.

"Peace!" said Aragorn, laying a hand on each of the younger men's shoulders, both to comfort and restrain. "Elestelle is young and strong, and has the best of care; all will be well."

"You would not be so calm if it were your daughter!" Faramir protested. "It is all very well for you to be so cheerful!"

"And what makes you think I am calm now, mellon nîn?" Aragorn said, his voice gentle. "Elestelle is as a daughter to me too."

"I know. It is just..."Faramir slumped wearily onto the couch. Eldarion continued to pace restlessly.

"The waiting seems endless." Aragorn finished the Steward's sentence as he sat down beside him. The two men smiled understandingly at one another. They had supported one another on many occasions such as this before.

"It has been twelve hours already!" Eldarion fretted. "Surely that is too long?"

"You took almost a day and a night to be born," his father informed him. "First babies tend to take their time to arrive!"

"I cannot endure much longer of this waiting!" said Eldarion approaching the door as if desiring to charge through it, then changing his mind.

"Young men are so impatient these days!" Faramir remarked.

"I recall a certain young man, who the morning after his daughter was born, could hardly wait to see her again," said Aragorn.

"It only seems like yesterday," Faramir said rather wistfully.

"I remember the first time Eldarion and Elestelle played with one another," said Aragorn. "He stuck out his tongue at her, before pulling her hair!"

"Adar, please!" Eldarion protested.

An ear-piercing scream rent the air. Then everything went silent.

The three men froze as if turned to statues. Then a child's cry pierced the stillness.
The door opened a narrow crack and Arwen's head appeared. "You have a healthy son, ion nîn!" she announced, smiling broadly at her firstborn.

"And Elestelle?" Eldarion enquired anxiously.

"She is well too. You will see them soon." Arwen's head disappeared and the door closed firmly behind her.

"I am a father!" Eldarion whispered, a look of awe on his face as the news sank in. His features relaxed and he beamed from ear to ear. The new father and the two grandfathers hugged one another delightedly. "I have a son to take out riding with me! We shall go on long camping trips together and I will teach him to hunt and fish and...."

"The babe has not even partaken of his first meal yet!" Aragorn chuckled. "He needs to walk before he can ride! As he is old enough, though, I am looking forward to teaching him some of my old Ranger skills."

"We can take him to my old Ranger haunts," said Faramir. "We will watch the sun go down over Henneth Annûn."

The two older men became so engrossed in their plans for their grandson that they started when Éowyn announced that the new father could see his wife and son. Aragorn and Faramir made to follow. "You must wait here," she said sternly. "Elestelle will not want any save her husband in her chamber. "Seeing the older men's crestfallen looks, she added." Maybe you can see them tomorrow."

"You never change," Faramir said somewhat ruefully. "You are still my fierce Shield maiden!"

"My grey hairs tell a different story!" Éowyn retorted with a wry smile, shepherding the new father inside the chamber and closing the door firmly behind them.

Aragorn and Faramir slumped dejectedly onto the couch. "It is bad enough waiting for a child to arrive, but then not being permitted to see it!" Aragorn lamented.

"The proprieties have to be observed," said Faramir, trying to cheer himself up. "Maybe Éowyn will bring the lad out to see us for a moment."

"New mothers dislike being parted from their young even for a moment," Aragorn pointed out.

"Elestelle will need to sleep soon," Faramir said hopefully. "Maybe we can see the babe then?"

The door opened and a jubilant looking Eldarion emerged. "Adar, Uncle Faramir, come and meet my son!" he cried.

Joyfully, the two grandfathers followed him inside. Elestelle, wrapped in a fine velvet robe, was sitting up in bed clutching a small, shawl wrapped bundle in her arms. "How do you like your grandson?" she asked, smiling and pulling the shawl aside to reveal the most beautiful baby either man had seen, at least since the birth of their own children. The infant's head was covered with a fuzz of dark hair and he stared at them with as yet unfocussed blue- grey eyes. Perfect tiny fists uncurled and seemed to reach out towards them.

The hearts of the King and his Steward swelled with pride. Faramir wondered whatever his father would have thought, that a child of his line should be kindred to his most hated rival; a man who had turned out to be a far more loving father to Faramir than his own sire ever was. Boromir would have been pleased, he was certain, that a scion of their house should be destined to one day to wear the Silver Crown.

The King laid a gentle hand upon the infant's head. "Be thou blessed!" he said solemnly. "He is a fair child indeed," he told Elestelle, kissing her lightly on the brow. "Today is a glorious day, not only for us, but for all the peoples of the Reunited Kingdom!"

Aragorn choked back a tear. This was not just their grandchild, but also the heir to the throne of Gondor and Arnor. The line of Kings would not be broken. In this child, flowed not only the blood of Lúthien and Elendil, but also that of the great House of Húrin, loyal guardians of Gondor for almost a thousand years. It was fitting indeed that in a single child, the two ruling houses were made one, and a scion of both would one day sit upon the throne.

End Notes:

A/N I wrote this story a while back for a LOTR GFIC Group Challenge, but somehow overlooked posting it here.

My recent double drabble "Love at First Sight" explores Aragorn's thoughts about his grandson in more detail.

Warmth by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

Disclaimer - These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain

“What happened? Shoulder hurts-my head!” Faramir opened his eyes and saw Aragorn kneeling beside him and was aware of the King checking his pulse. Reassured, he closed them again.


 


“ It is good to see you awake! You have been unconscious.” Aragorn’s tone was full of relief. “You were wounded in the skirmish.”


 


The Steward opened his eyes again and the world began to spin. He retched violently. A bowl was held for him, while a gentle hand rubbed his back soothingly. He realised that someone had removed his shirt and tunic and the upper part of his body was swathed in bandages,


 


“Easy now, you hurt your head.”


 


Faramir sank back exhausted. Aragorn allowed him a few moments rest, before holding up three fingers of his hand. “How many fingers?”


 


“Three.”


 


“Do you know me?”


 


Faramir grabbed frantically at Aragorn’s sleeve. “ Of course I do, Aragorn! Who won the day?”


 


“We did, mellon nîn, thanks to your courage. Easy now. You took and arrow and hit your head falling from your horse. You are safe now. We took shelter in a barn while we wait Beregond to bring help.”


 


Faramir lay back, his meagre strength exhausted. He appeared to be lying on a makeshift bed of straw covered by several cloaks. The pain in his shoulder grew worse and a groan escaped his lips.


 


He felt Aragorn pull aside the coverings and a comforting, healing warmth from the King’s hands permeate his injured shoulder.”


 


“Is that easier now?” Aragorn’s tone was full of concern.


 


“Thank you. So cold!” Faramir could not stop his teeth from chattering as he spoke. ”I am thirsty.”


 


“You have a fever,” Aragorn said. “Come, drink this.” Supporting Faramir’s head, he held a cup to his lips.


 


Faramir’s fuddled brain recognised the bitter taste of willow bark, a proven remedy for fever. He forced himself to swallow the bitter brew.


 


“Very good,” Aragorn offered another draught, this time plain water.


 


“Is it safe here for you?” Faramir fretted. “What if the enemy returns?”


 


“We routed them, and just in case any are fool enough to want to taste our swords again, there are guards outside the door. Beregond was most insistent. Now go to sleep until he returns”


 


“Too cold,” Faramir murmured fretfully.


 


Aragorn did not say anything. Instead, he lay down beside Faramir on his uninjured side and enfolded him in warm arms. Removing his outer tunic, he spread it over them both. His warm hands chafed Faramir’s cold ones.


 


“There, does that feel any better?”


 


Faramir settled and rested his aching head against Aragorn’s shoulder. After a few moments he sighed contentedly. “Much, but you will be cold now?”


 


“Not half as cold as I would be if I allowed any harm to come to you! Remember, I promised both our ladies that we would return to them together in one piece. They will have me sleep in the stables henceforth if I do not keep my word!”


 


“Éowyn might when you came to visit, but surely not your lady?” Faramir murmured sleepily.


 


“Arwen would take it very ill if any harm came to the man who saved her husband’s life! Do you not recall that arrow you took was meant for me? How could I lose such a gallant foolish friend either?” Aragorn’s voice was slightly unsteady as he held Faramir more tightly. He shuddered at the memory of the one of the fleeing Haradrim rebels loosing the arrow directly at him and Faramir selflessly hurling himself in the arrow’s path. At his insistence, his men had seen off the rest of the enemy while he tended Faramir’s wounds,


 


Faramir did not reply as he had fallen asleep. Aragorn felt his friend’s forehead; the fever was abating. Faramir would recover. He offered a silent prayer of thanks to the Valar. All would be well.


 

New Growth by lindahoyland
These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.  

   

“Where’s naneth and ada?” Eldarion demanded of his nanny when he failed to see his mother at breakfast.

 

“Your mother is not feeling very well and your father is taking care of her,” the nurse explained. ”You shall see them later. Now eat your breakfast, Master Eldarion.”

 

Eldarion spooned his porridge thoughtfully. His naneth had not been well yesterday morning either, though she had played with him later that day. He felt scared. Why had ada not made her better by now? Perhaps he could do something to help? He remembered the nursery maid going to visit her mother when she was ill and taking her a warm shawl  and a cake, and some flowers and then announcing she was much better when she returned. Ladies didn’t wear shawls when it was warm and Eldarion had no idea how to bake a cake. That left flowers and naneth loved flowers!

 

As it was fine summer morning, Eldarion’s nurse took him to play outside in the gardens. The woman was soon engaged in chatting to the cook who had come outside in search of herbs. The little boy was left to his own devices, wishing as he often did for a playmate. A bored looking guard followed the child, but made no efforts to entertain him.

 

Eldarion decided to go in search of some flowers for his mother. He was about to pick some daises for her; the pretty pink tipped ones, when he espied a bed of white and yellow flowers. Eldarion’s face lit up. These were special Elven flowers that his naneth had told him had come from where grandfather and grandmother used to live. Surely these would cheer naneth up and make her better? Swiftly Eldarion gathered as many of the flowers as he could. He then heard his nurse calling and ran back to her.

 

Eldarion was pleased to discover that his mother was now up and in her sewing room. He was about to run up to her with the flowers when he realised that she had a visitor. The little boy recognised the head gardener, a burly fellow with a bushy black beard whom he always found rather scary. The gardener was obviously in a very bad mood.

“Some wicked thief has stolen your elanor and niphredil flowers, my lady!” he cried.

 

“This is an outrage!” Arwen replied. ”Have the guards search for the culprit and arrest him!”

 

The gardener bowed low and stormed off.

 

Eldarion stood rooted to the spot in terror. The flowers spilled from his hands.

 

“Eldarion!” exclaimed the Queen. ”Whatever are you doing with my flowers? You are a naughty boy!”

 

The child burst into tears.” I’m sorry,” he sobbed. ”I wanted to bring you flowers to make you better!”

 

Arwen softened and drew her son into her arms. “That was a kind thought,” she said, “though you must not pick the flowers, except buttercups and daisies in future without asking. I’m not, ill, instead I have some very good news. You will have a brother or sister to play with in a few months time.”

 

Eldarion beamed. At long last he would have someone to play with.


Bedtime Stories by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

Night


 A/n. This is something a little different. I’ve been playing with “Dragon’s Cave” on LJ. At first my baby dragons “died”, but a kind LJ friend helped me to “save” 2 tonight, which feature in this story. I’m crossing my fingers that it will work, trying to mix elements of a game with LOTR.I promise not to make a habit of it!


 


You can see the dragons at


http://lindahoyland.livejournal.com/109724.html


 


These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

 

 

“Master Eldarion cannot sleep,” his nanny informed the King and Queen who were just about to retire to their own bed.

 

“I will go to him,” said Aragorn. ”My duties have, alas, kept me from spending much time with him today.”

”I shall retire to bed then,” said the Queen.

 

Aragorn followed the nanny to Eldarion’s nursery where a very wide-awake little boy was sitting upright in bed clasping his toy dragon, Smaug.

 

“What is wrong, ion nín?” enquired Aragorn after dismissing the nanny to wait in the next room.

 

Eldarion regarded his toy thoughtfully. “I’ve been learning about dragons in my lessons today,” the child said thoughtfully. “My tutor said that dragons were all nasty and cruel, and that Smaug liked eating people!”

 

“That was only the real Smaug,” Aragorn explained. “Your Smaug is a very friendly dragon.”

 

“Are there no real friendly dragons?” Eldarion persisted.

 

“I think not, ion nîn, for the great Fire Drakes were creatures of Sauron and therefore evil.”

 

Eldarion looked as if he were about to cry. ”Poor Smaug will be so lonely if there are no friendly dragons for him to play with!”

 

“All toy dragons are friendly,” Aragorn said soothingly. “I will see if I can find you another wooden one to play with.”

 

“Smaug is real! He plays with me,” Eldarion insisted.

 

Aragorn stifled a yawn. He had no desire to spend all night discussing whether or not Smaug was alive with his son, neither would he lie to the boy. The child had a vivid imagination and to him, his toy was as real as Nimrodel, his puppy. The King well remembered when he was a boy, and had believed that his wooden horse was alive and talked to him. “Well we do not know about what manner of creatures dwell in Elvenhome far beyond the Sundering Seas. Maybe there are friendly dragons there,” he suggested, in order to placate the little boy.

 

“Tell me a story about them, ada!” Eldarion pleaded.

 

“It is late, and time you were asleep,” Aragorn demurred.

 

“Please ada!”

 

“Very well, just a short one,” Aragorn agreed. Since Eldarion’s sister had been born there were times when the little boy needed extra love and attention from his parents. Aragorn preferred to tell his son stories about Middle-earth’s great heroes, but tonight he would humour him with a fairy tale.  “Once upon a time, far away in Elvenhome, there lived two dragons. One was as crimson as flame, while the other was as white as snow.”

 

“What were their names?” demanded Eldarion.

 

“You guess!” said the King.

 

“Was the crimson one was called Andúril and the white one Snowfire?” suggested Eldarion.

 

“Those were indeed their names,” smiled Aragorn, delighted that he would not have to think of any at this time of night.

 

“ The two dragons lived in caves far away from each other and they were both very lonely,” Aragorn continued. “Andúril was a magic dragon who could cast all manner of spells.”

 

“What sort of spells?”

 

“He could make fireworks like Gandalf and he could make the flowers change colour, or even turn them into butterflies so that they would fly away!”

 

Eldarion laughed delightedly.

 

“Snowfire was a healer,” Aragorn continued. ”She knew the uses of every herb and her very breath could cure very wound!”

 

“She sounds like you, ada,” Eldarion snuggled against his father’s broad shoulder.

 

“One day Andúril was showing off his magic tricks to a group of Elven children. How they marvelled at his arts!. He made a splendid firework for them, which exploded in a shower of golden sparks .One young, Elf, though, a boy called Dirlin moved to close to the firework and it burned his face and blinded him. He cried loudly for help.”

 

“What did he do since you weren’t there to make him better?” Eldarion enquired anxiously.

 

“You forget that  better healers than I, dwelt in Elvenhome,” said Aragorn. “Snowfire happened to be flying near by, hunting for healing herbs. When she heard Dirlin’s cries for help, she flew at once to his aid and breathed on his burned face after chewing some athelas. At once he was healed and able to play with his friends again.”

 

“I’m glad,” Eldarion started to sound sleepy and snuggled more closely against his father.

 

“The Elven children quickly ran off home as they knew their parents would be angry if they stayed out too late. The two dragons were left alone.” Aragorn took a deep breath. He was certain this part of the story would send his young son to sleep. “Andúril thought Snowfire the most beautiful dragon he had ever seen, while Snowfire thought Andúril the most handsome! They fell in love, and the very next day they were married. They had many children and lived happily ever afterwards and were never again lonely.”

 

Aragorn’s voice dropped to a whisper. He looked fondly at Eldarion who was now asleep in his arms. The King lingered a while, lovingly studying every feature of his son’s face. Sometimes after so many years of waiting he could hardly believe that he truly posessed  all he had dreamed of at last. He had been just as lonely as the dragons he had imagined for Eldarion.

 

Aragorn gently lowered Eldarion down upon the bed and tucked the covers around him. Planting a kiss lightly upon the boy’s brow, he tiptoed from the room and went to join Arwen and his baby daughter. Sometimes fairy stories did come true.

The Surprise by lindahoyland

A heavily pregnant Éowyn looked up in surprise at the approach of her husband. Abandoning her herb garden, she hurried to greet him. “I did not expect you home until tomorrow,” she exclaimed.

  

“Aragorn dismissed me early,” Faramir said morosely, though his eyes brightened at the sight of his beloved lady as he drew her close. ”This is the third time this month.”

  

“Maybe he desires to spend more time with Arwen and Eldarion?” Éowyn suggested, though she looked concerned. She was well aware that the King had been in the habit of spending a few hours at the end of the working week practising swordsmanship or archery with her husband, or even going swimming or fishing with him, activities which both men greatly enjoyed which left them in a contented mood to enjoy the society of their wives and children.

  

“I would never begrudge him time with his wife and son,” said Faramir. “Yet I know for certain that today is when the Queen visit’s the Embroiders’ Guild and then her dressmaker while Eldarion’s nanny takes him to visit the stables.”

  

“Tis strange indeed,” said Éowyn furrowing her brow. ”Maybe he is still recovering from the poisoned blade?” Before she could say more Elbeth came running from the house closely followed by Elestelle whose shorter legs were unable to match her older cousin’s long strides. Faramir smilingly embraced his girls.

  

In the weeks that followed Faramir became increasingly concerned that Aragorn was shunning his company, though when they were together, the King was his usual warm and friendly self. He had become secretive though and unwilling to share his thoughts with the friend who had recently saved his life. To add to Faramir’s dismay, Éowyn no longer seemed troubled on his behalf and lightly dismissed his concerns.

  

One summer afternoon, Faramir was sitting in the garden with his wife who was now very near her time. Excited as he was at the impending arrival of the new baby, Faramir’s heart was troubled with concerns for his wife and unease over why the King was acting so strangely.

  

He looked up at the sound of approaching hoof beats. To his surprise, Aragorn and his Queen, accompanied only by a small escort rode into view. Eldarion rode clasped firmly in his father’s arms.

  

The Steward and his lady hastened to greet their guests. Aragorn and Arwen dismounted and embraced them both warmly. Carrying his own saddlebag, he accepted their invitation to dine and followed them indoors.

  

“We have come to see if we can assist during your confinement,” said Arwen when the meal was concluded. “We have left Minas Tirith in Prince Imrahil’s capable hands.”

  

“We have brought you a gift, Faramir,” said Aragorn beaming from ear to ear and handing his Steward a small cloth wrapped parcel.

  

Faramir took the gift and carefully opened it. Inside was the most beautiful book he had ever seen, bound with fine leather and decorated with gold, mithril and precious gems. The Title read “Great deeds of the House of Hurin”.

  

“Open it,” urged Aragorn.

  

Hardly believing his eyes, Faramir looked inside the covers and was amazed to see they contained a beautifully illuminated account of his ancestors and Boromir’s great deeds Even more amazing was that the greatest proportion of the book was devoted to him! Speechless ,he turned the pages and read of his deeds during the  war, his yielding of the rod to Aragorn and the story of the times he had saved his friend and King’s life. Each chapter was illustrated by finely drawn and coloured illustrations.

  

“Thank you!” he cried embracing Aragorn. “This is a wondrous gift indeed!”

  

“After you saved me from poisoned blade, I wanted to give you a special gift to show my appreciation,” said Aragorn.

  

“Estel has spend many an hour compiling this book and conferring with the scribes and artists to create something worthy of you,” said Arwen.

  

“Keeping it a secret was the hardest part,” Éowyn added.

  

Faramir’s eyes were moist as he fingered the beautiful book and realised the love that had gone into creating it.

  

 

Healing Vapours by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

 

“Elestelle just has a slight cold,” Aragorn said reassuringly to the anxious father.

 

“I just wanted to be certain,” Faramir added. “Éowyn thought it was before she set out for her daily ride, but it troubles me to see our daughter looking so miserable.”

 

As if to underline his words, Elestelle started to howl. For once, Aragorn’s Elven healing touch seemed to have no effect whatsoever.

 

“Maybe I should return her to her nurse?” said Faramir, fearing the ear-shattering din would start young Eldarion crying too

 

“Wait, mellon nîn!” said the King. “It grieves my heart to see your little one so distressed, even when the cause is not serious. I will steep some athelas for her. It should help her breathe more easily. Even if it does not, stay until Éowyn returns.”

 

“Thank you.” Faramir gave an audible sign of gratitude. He knew he could rely on Aragorn to help whenever a crisis threatened the Steward’s usually blissful existence.

 

Aragorn, who was wearing the Elessar pinned to his tunic, sent a servant for some hot water. The two friends sat on the couch, taking it in turns to hold the baby and try to distract her. Elestelle’s wailing grew ever louder.

 

“I think Elestelle wants her mother,” fretted Faramir, rubbing his daughter's back. “Éowyn and the nanny have fed and changed her and kept  her favourite toys at hand, but even her favourite rag doll holds no charms today for her!”

 

“It is not pleasant being too small to blow your nose,” said Aragorn. “Eldarion has been spared colds so far. I think he was born with some of his mother’s freedom from such mortal ills, though, it will alas, decline as he gets older.”

 

A maid entered and placed a bowl of boiling water on a table near the couch. Aragorn smiled his thanks before she left.

 

Aragorn took two leaves of athelas from his pouch of healing supplies, breathed upon them and crumbled them into the water. He laved Elestelle’s face, then held the bowl in front of Elestelle’s face so that she could breathe the refreshing vapours. Almost at once, the baby stopped crying. “Ada!” she gurgled contentedly.

 

As the living fragrance filled the room, King and Steward sighed contentedly. This scent brought back so many memories

 

“I remember,” Faramir said softly, a far away look in his eyes. ”Whenever I smell this herb, I recall how I first met you, and how you came through the darkness to save me from the Shadow. I was lost and my King found me!”

 

“The herb had never responded to me so strongly before as it did on that day,” said Aragorn. ”Maybe it was because Lady Galadriel had gifted me the Elfstone. That day I went seeking a lost Captain, and found a friend as dear as a son!”

 

”I wonder what Elestelle will recall when she smells athelas?” mused Faramir. His daughter was now sitting on his lap beaming happily at him.

 

“Ouch, no!” Aragorn was rudely recalled to the present, when Elestelle reached to grab a handful of his hair and tugged at the long black strands in her rather strong grip. Gently, he disentangled her chubby fingers. Quickly losing interest in Aragorn’s shaggy locks, Elestelle spotted another delightful new toy, the bright and shiny jewel pinned to Aragorn’s breast. This time, she stroked it gently almost as if it were a thing alive.

 

“I think she senses the Elven magic,” smiled Aragorn.

 

Faramir nodded, thinking how blessed his daughter was.

.

The Seeing Stone by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The Seeing Stone

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate.


Faramir rose from his chair in his study. "Let us do it now, "he said.

"Are you certain?" Aragorn enquired. "You do not have to do this."

"I must," Faramir said simply. "One day Gondor's future could depend
on my use of the Seeing Stone. I failed miserably when I tried to use
it before. This time, I am determined to master it!"

Aragorn sighed. "Very well, then," he said. "I will just tell Arwen
that we are going up Ecthelion's tower."

**
Rather to her husband's surprise, Arwen agreed with Faramir. "He is
your Steward and as such, should be able to use the palantír," she
said. "Stay with him, as long as he needs you, though, it will not be
easy for Faramir, I fear. Éowyn told me yesterday he was planning to
do this and wanted me to discourage him, but I fear it will haunt our
Steward if he does not overcome his fears."

**

Determinedly, King and Steward climbed the steps to the tower room,
pausing only when they reached their destination. The room was
bitterly cold. Aragorn stood by the window for a moment to catch his
breath. Faramir joined him, trying not to think about the covered
object upon the table.

"It cannot harm you," said Aragorn sensing his thoughts. "Now Sauron
is no more, the Stone is harmless. It was not the palantír that
destroyed your father's mind, but rather the malice of the Dark Lord.
This too, is the Orthanc Stone, which he never touched."

Faramir nodded, wishing he did not feel so nervous.

"Are you ready?" enquired Aragorn.

Faramir swallowed hard. "I am," he said quietly.

Aragorn approached the stone and cast aside the cover. The orb seemed
to be filled with swirling coloured light.

"Where would you like to see?" Aragorn asked him. "It is best to
begin with somewhere nearby."

"What about Mistress Tasariel and the people of her village?" Faramir
suggested.

"A good choice," Aragorn smiled. "I often look to see how they are
faring." He placed his hands upon the palantír, frowning in
concentration. The mists cleared and he smiled. "Place your hands
over mine," the King told Faramir, "then look into the Seeing Stone."

Faramir hesitated only for a moment before doing as he was bidden. To
his amazement, he could see Tasariel and her daughter law walking
through the village. The younger woman was carrying an infant. For a
few minutes he watched enthralled.
"That must be Mistress Tasariel's grandchild!" he exclaimed at last.

"A little girl that the good lady is already besotted by!" Aragorn
smiled. "At present you are seeing what I do, now you try." He guided
one of Faramir's hands to touch the stone directly, while keeping the
other as before. Almost at once, the landscape started to blur and
dissolve in a mass of swirling colours. Faramir's head started to
spin. "Concentrate!" Aragorn said in a firm yet kindly tone. "Your
will is strong enough to master the palantír."

Faramir struggled to focus his gaze. The shapes dissolved and he
could again see the village in Lossarnach. "I see clearly now!"he
exclaimed.

Aragorn gradually withdrew his hands. For a moment, Faramir continued
to watch the village, then everything blurred again. His head began
to swim. He swayed and would have stumbled, had Aragorn not steadied
him. "Easy now," said the King. "That is enough for today, ion nîn."
He threw the cloth back over the Seeing Stone.

Still supporting his friend, Aragorn led Faramir over to a couch at
the side of the room. "Put your head down," he advised, sitting
beside the Steward. "The dizziness will soon pass." He gently rubbed
Faramir's back.

"I failed again!" Faramir exclaimed miserably. "I could see clearly
for a moment and then..."

"You made excellent progress for a first attempt," said Aragorn. "You
simply need practice. I am proud of you today! If you let me continue
to teach you, you will soon master the Stone."

Faramir's head had stopped spinning. "I will try again on the
morrow," he said resolutely. "I feel better now."

"It will be much easier next time," Aragorn promised. He got up and
went back to the window. "Come and look, this is the finest view in
the City!"

Faramir looked out over the gleaming white stone of his beloved Minas
Tirith. He could see the Court of the Fountain with the thriving
White Tree, the streets beyond, and beyond that stretched the
Pelennor shimmering under a silver coat of hoar frost. For a moment
he felt sad, thinking of all the times, his father must have looked
upon the City and the despaired .

Sensing his mood, Aragorn squeezed his shoulder. "The past is gone,"
he said gently.

Faramir studied the beauty of the scene outside in silence for a few
moments, then suddenly smiled. "You gave me a future," he said. " I
am determined to use it wisely."

The two men descended the tower. Their wives and a warm fire waited
to welcome them below.

End Notes:

A/N This ficlet refers to both "A Time To Reap" and Web of Treason".

In "A Time to Reap" Aragorn and Faramir visit a village in
Lossarnach, where Tasariel, the village Healer befriends them.

In "Web of Treason" Faramir tries and fails to find the missing
Aragorn by using the palantír.

The Great Race of Rohan by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The Great Race of Rohan



The characters are the property of the Tolkien estate. No profit has
been made from this story.

The Great Race of Rohan



The characters are the property of the Tolkien estate. No profit has
been made from this story.


Aragorn struggled to keep an interested expression on his face. As
Éomer's honoured guest for the younger King's birthday
celebrations, he needed to look as if he were enjoying the proceedings.



Éomer's idea to hold a challenge for his Riders, to help them
remain strong and alert now the War was over, was a good one, but after
watching a seemingly never ending stream of Rohirrim race past him on
horseback or on foot, it all became rather tedious after a while.



They were all strong young men, skilled riders and swift of foot.
Éomer had promised a fine grey colt as the prize for the victor. How
his friend and fellow king would choose, Aragorn had no idea. He was
simply thankful that the task did not fall to him.



Éomer raised his arm for silence as the horses came to a halt. The
challenge was taking place on a field on the banks of the Snowbourn.
Éomer sat on a makeshift throne, with his Queen and Aragorn either
side of him. All around the field, spectators were gathered, loudly
cheering their kinsfolk.



"Riders of the Mark," cried Éomer. "You have proved your
skills well today on horse and foot. You have shown yourselves swift and
strong, ready to defend our lands in the hour of need. The final test I
challenge you with is a swimming race. The first man to swim across the
river and back again will win the prize!"

Aragorn raised an eyebrow. During his years of service to King Thengel,
the Rohirrim had hardly been noted for their swimming prowess. There
were few warm summer days like today that would tempt anyone into the
water. He could only surmise that matters had changed over the
intervening years.



Most of the men made their way down to the riverbank and started to pull
off their garments. Lothiriel whispered a few words in her husband's
ear and then with her ladies started to walk back towards a refreshment
stall on the far side of the field. The rest of the audience, men and
women together watched as the swimmers entered the water.



"I thought this challenge would help me choose a winner,"
Éomer informed Aragorn quietly. "I have been encouraging my
Riders to learn to swim, but many are reluctant. If they see the prize
going to a strong swimmer, it should encourage them to learn not to fear
the water."



Many of the Rohirrim had not even entered the water, while others had
paddled out a little way and were now disconsolately making their way
back to shore and pulling their clothes back on. Only about a dozen
hardly souls still remained in the race and were purposefully, albeit
slowly, making their way across the river, cheered on by their fellows.



"The Snowbourn is excellent for swimming in," said Éomer.
"I learned to swim myself last summer."



"An excellent achievement," Aragorn commended his friend.
"It is not easy to learn past childhood. I was fortunate that the
Elves taught me when I was but a child." His keen eyes returned to
the swimmers and lingered on one man who was separated from his fellows.
The others had already reached the far bank, while the straggler was
still in the middle of the broad river. Suddenly he gave a cry and flung
his arms in the air. The spectators all started shouting. One of the men
who had turned back before, started to pull off his clothing again.
Several of the women screamed and one looked about to enter the water.



"No!" Éomer cried. "No one else must enter the water, or
you will all drown!"



"Keep Andúril safe for me" Aragorn thrust the precious sword
into Éomer's hands.

Swift as an arrow, Aragorn raced down to the riverbank, shrugging off
his outer garments as he ran. He paused only to kick off his boots when
reached the water's edge.



All around people were crying, "Thormund will drown! Alas, no man
can reach him in time!"



Aragorn waded in. The swimmers on the far bank were turning back towards
their stricken fellow, but they would never reach him in time. Compared
to the Anduin, where Aragorn often swam with Faramir, the Snowbourn felt
icy cold. His heavy shirt and breeches made his limbs feel like lead,
but Aragorn ignored the discomfort and swam with haste towards Thormund.
"Stay calm!" he cried. "I am coming to get you."



Thormund only struggled more frantically and Aragorn wondered however he
was going to restrain him. Worst was to follow, though, as the man
suddenly ceased flaying his arms and started to sink beneath the
water's surface.



His arms aching and his lungs near to bursting, Aragorn managed to reach
the drowning man and grab hold of his hand just before he sank beneath
the surface. He felt almost as if his arm would be wrenched from its
socket, but grimly hung on, wrapping one arm around Thormund's chest
and raising his head above the water. Thormund coughed, expelling
mouthfuls of water and started to struggle again, almost dragging
Aragorn down with him. "Easy now, I have you," said Aragorn in a
tone most often used to control an army, but Thormund was too panicked
to heed him. Aragorn wondered just how long he could hold on when he saw
a handful of swimmers approaching from the far bank. "Fetch a
boat!" he cried. Two of the men helped him support the struggling
Thormund, while the others swam in search of a boat.



Aragorn was tiring and wondering just how much longer he could keep his
heavy limbs afloat, when an old man appeared rowing a coracle of the
type used by fishermen of the Mark. One of Aragorn's helpers
clambered into the boat and together they succeeded in dragging Thormund
aboard.



"Thank you!" Aragorn gasped as the old man paddled towards where
Éomer and a crowd of people were waiting. Thormund collapsed in the
bottom of the boat, coughing and spluttering. Aragorn tended him as best
he could.



As soon as they reached the shore, willing hands reached to take
Thormund. "He needs keeping warm," Aragorn instructed.



"I know, my lord," the voice belonged to Aethelstan,
Éomer's personal Healer, who was ready with a blanket.



"As do you, my friend!" Éomer drew Aragorn against him in a
close embrace, oblivious of the older man's saturated condition. The
King of Rohan drew his own cloak from about his shoulders and wrapped it
around his friend. "I have never seen the like as the haste with
which you swam to Thormund's rescue!"



The people cheered, " Hail Elessar King, hail Éomer
King!"they cried.



"Come, my friend, let us ride back to the Hall swiftly so you can
change into dry clothes," said Éomer, shepherding the exhausted
Aragorn towards where horses were waiting.



"What of Thormund? I should tend him," Aragorn protested.



"Aethelstan is familiar with victims of near drownings and skilled
in their treatment," Éomer said firmly, helping Aragorn mount.
"It is you needs care now, my friend. You are today's true
champion."



Lothiriel had ordered a fire prepared in Aragorn's chamber and a
little while later, Aragorn, wrapped in a robe, was seated by the fire
being plied with hot drinks by Éomer, while he rubbed his hair dry.



"That is the last swimming race I shall ever hold!" Éomer
said grimly.



"A wise decision," said Aragorn, putting down his towel and
swallowing a mouthful of comfortingly warm tea. "Who has won the
colt?"



"By rights it should be yours, my friend," said Éomer, but I
have finer colts my far I would give you. I have decided to award it to
old Elfmund, the fisherman."



Aragorn nodded his approval, suppressing a smile at the thought of the
wizened greybeard taking the prize that the young riders coveted so
highly.



"Poor Thormund," Éomer added. "The young fool was
desperate for a fine horse, though he had hardly swim! Methinks I should
give him a boat instead!"


End Notes:

A/N. Although, I am NOT interested in sport, I found myself glued to the
Olympic Games, almost against my will! The story was inspired by the
Pentathlon and Endurance swimming events. The commentator said Endurance
Swimming races were held 2,000 years ago in Japan, so I thought why not
in M-e?

When Accidents Happen by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

Accidents happen

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and New Line Cinema. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.




“How Éowyn will scold!” Faramir groaned. “We should never have volunteered to replenish her larder.”

“I can just imagine Arwen saying I thought I married a Ranger, said to be the greatest hunter and tracker of the Age,” Aragorn replied glumly. He leaned heavily on his bow. ”These woods around Emyn Arnen are said to be full of deer. Where have they all gone?”

“They must be hiding well,” said Faramir, pacing the ground in frustration.

A sudden movement caught Aragorn’s eye. ”Look, over there by the stream!” he whispered.

Faramir turned his head just in time to see a large stag disappearing between the trees. Swiftly he drew his bow, but it was too late; the animal had vanished.

“Come on, let us give chase,” cried Aragorn. “I will catch that stag if it is the last thing I do!” Swift as a deer himself, he sped off in the direction of his quarry. Faramir followed, wondering not for the first time, why a man twice his age could usually outrun him.

The two hunters pursued their prey until they came to a fork in the path. Uncertain which way the stag had gone, Aragorn took the right turning while Faramir took the left.

The Steward was certain he was on the right track, as several times he caught a brief glimpse of the elusive deer. A sudden movement ahead of him in the undergrowth made him pause in his tracks. Smiling with grim satisfaction, Faramir nocked an arrow. They would dine well tonight and Éowyn would be impressed that he had supplied their table so well. He could see the stag clearly ahead of him. He fired, only for the animal to veer sharply to the right and disappear through the trees.

“Argh!” the shout of pain was no wounded deer.

A sudden feeling of cold dread seized the Steward. He plunged into the undergrowth in the direction of the cries. There was no sign of the stag, but under a great oak was Aragorn. The King was staggering in pain, an arrow protruding from his shoulder. As Faramir approached, Aragorn sank to his knees, his face white with shock.

“No! Whatever have I done?” the Steward cried racing towards his friend and sinking down beside him, supporting him with strong arms and taking the weight of the arrow. “I have shot my King! I am so sorry, mellon nîn! I mistook you for the stag we were pursuing!”

“You shot me!” Aragorn’s tone was both accusing and disbelieving.

“Much rather would I have shot myself through the heart than wounded you!” Faramir sounded near tears. “The stag veered aside just as I loosed the arrow.”

“I know it was an accident,” said Aragorn in a more conciliatory tone though he was grimacing with pain. “Not that I think I resemble a stag! The path goes round in a circle, which we did not know. This arrow will have to come out, fortunately my healing supplies are in my pack, if you would assist me?”

Very carefully, so as not to push the arrow in any deeper, Faramir eased the pack from Aragorn’s shoulders. He quickly found the familiar and well-worn satchel containing the King’s healing supplies. ”What should I do now?” he asked Aragorn, though he suspected all too well what gruesome task he would need to perform.

“You need to make a fire first,” said Aragorn. “Fortunately we have plenty of water here.” He looked far less pale now, much to Faramir’s relief.

“I had better cut away the shaft before I do anything else,” said Faramir, taking his hunting knife from his belt. ”Brace yourself, this will hurt!” He grasped the shaft. To his amazement the arrow fell to the ground. For a moment, he stared at Aragorn in horror, convinced that he had done him a further grievous injury.

“What the…?” Aragorn was pulling aside his torn tunic and shirt to reveal his shoulder disfigured by nothing worst than a flesh wound, little deeper than a severe graze.

“But the arrow struck you!” Faramir said haltingly, hardly daring to believe that Aragorn was not badly hurt.

“It hit me hard and gave me a shock, but must have just caught in my clothing while the tip grazed my shoulder,” said the King. He reached for his healing supplies to grab a cloth to staunch the bleeding with. ”I will clean and bind it, however it is only a slight hurt”

Faramir was already kindling a fire and filling a pan with water to boil. He helped Aragorn remove his tunic and shirt while the water boiled. “I fear you will be black and blue tomorrow,” he said ruefully.

“It will not be for the first time,” said Aragorn. He dabbed at his shoulder. The bleeding was already abating. He cleaned the wound and applied some salve, then bandaged it with Faramir’s help. “At least we have a good excuse why we did not catch anything,” he said as Faramir helped him ease his arms into his bloodied tunic and shirt again.

“Our wives will never let us go hunting again!” Faramir said sadly. “I do not know whether your lady or mine will be the angrier with me!”

“We will persuade them to let us go again ere long,” said Aragorn. ”Arwen claims I drive her to distraction if I am confined within doors for too long!” He placed a comforting hand on Faramir’s shoulder. ”Remember, mellon, nîn you are human. No one could have guessed the stag would bolt in front of me. Accidents can happen to anyone and no real harm is done.” 

Chivalry by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate


“I would rather watch an Orc dance with a Warg! Have you two left feet, woman?” shouted a drunkard.

The dancing girl ignored the comments, though her eyes showed obvious distress. The Silver Crown was packed with customers that night, some who had come to be entertained, others, like the two cloaked and hooded men sitting in a corner, simply for a good mug of ale.

“Poor girl,” Aragorn murmured to his companion. ”I think she would be better suited to serving the drinks!”

“I had hoped we might hear the talented lute player again,” said Faramir.

“He has a broken wrist, so his daughter is dancing to try to earn their keep,” explained a greybeard at the next table who had overheard.

“Pick your feet up, girl!” shouted the drunkard.

Aragorn rose to go to the privy hoping that the excruciating dance would be over when he returned. As Arwen was spending a few days at Emyn Arnen, a visit to the Silver Crown with Faramir had seemed an agreeable way to spend an evening, now he was not so sure.

The girl finally finished her dance and bowed to the customers. Some, including Faramir applauded politely, while others simply ignored her and stared into their mugs of ale. The girl walked between the tables, The more charitable of the drinkers tossed her coins.

“Give us a kiss then!” cried the drunkard.

“No!” the girl looked flustered.

“As you can’t dance, you might be good for something else,” said the drunkard lurching towards her.

Faramir leapt to his feet. ”Leave the lady alone!” he cried.

“Lady? She ain’t no lady!”

Faramir instinctively turned to protect the girl. Before he realised what was happening, the drunkard had lashed out at him and he was lying on the floor.

“How dare you!” Aragorn’s tone was like ice as he ran towards his friend. The drunkard crumpled to his knees beside the Steward. The King beckoned to the innkeeper. ”There are two Guards outside. Bid them take this fellow to prison. The King will deal with him in the morning.”

Aragorn swiftly knelt beside Faramir who lay white faced on the floor, grimacing with pain. “Are you hurt, mellon nîn?” he enquired anxiously.

“Just winded, I think,” grimaced the Steward.

The innkeeper came back inside followed by the Guards. At a signal from the King, they dragged the protesting drunkard away. His curses could still be heard in the street outside.

000

An hour or so later, after being treated with salves and Aragorn’s Elven healing arts, a pain free Faramir was on the verge of sleep. Then a sudden thought struck him. He sat up in bed and laughed.

“What is so funny?” asked Aragorn, who was putting away his healing supplies.

“I was just thinking how that loud - mouthed sot will be rendered quite speechless when he learns who you are tomorrow!” Faramir smiled. With that he lay back against the pillows and drifted into a dreamless slumber.

A Narrow escape by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate.

With thanks to Raksha.


Faramir stifled a yawn. The King’s public audience seemed endless today.

Within the past hour, Aragorn had patiently listened to two farmers from the Pelennor disputing the ownership of a cow, and a woman who objected to her neighbours hanging their underwear on the washing line where she could see it. He had sternly admonished a drunkard who had spent all his money at the taverns, and now insisted King to pay his rent,


Another woman was now requesting that Aragorn stop her husband from spending his evenings in the company of his friends rather than with her.

It was warm in the Hall and Faramir felt his eyelids growing heavy. To keep himself alert, his eyes wandered round the vast room. A man caught Faramir’s eye. Unlike the others in the crowd, he seemed to be taking little interest in the proceedings. Faramir recognised him. It was the man who had drunk away his rent money. The fellow seemed to be fiddling with his boot. A glint of steel caught Faramir’s eye. The man had a knife!

Swiftly as an arrow, the Steward rose from his place and hurled himself in front of Aragorn. The Guards raced to seize the man, but too late. He had already thrown the knife at the King. It flew through the air and struck Faramir. Screams rent the air.

Aragorn caught him as he stumbled backwards. “Faramir, no!” he cried. “Guards, clear the hall. Hold fast to the miscreant and take him to prison,” the King commanded.

The King gently eased his friend down on the throne and looked at him, his eyes filled with concern and horror.

“Are you harmed, mellon, nîn? Did the blade strike you?” Faramir asked seemingly unperturbed by the knife embedded in his shoulder.

“I am well, you took the blade meant for me!” Aragorn replied in a voice choked with emotion.

“Strange that I should be sitting upon your throne!” mused Faramir, trying to take his mind from his pain.

“And on it you will stay until I have tended your wound,” said Aragorn. He sent a Guard to fetch healing supplies.


Faramir gritted his teeth and managed not to cry out when Aragorn removed the blade, albeit as gently as he could. When Faramir’s shirt was removed they were relieved that the gash was no worse than a flesh wound.

“You should not take such risks!” Aragorn gently chided as he cleaned the gash. “No great harm has been done, but you could have been killed!”

“As could you!” Faramir replied, gasping in pain when Aragorn smeared the wound with honey. “Did you think I would just sit my friend and King was slain? Never mellon nîn!”

“I am blessed to have you,” said Aragorn, patting Faramir’s good shoulder. He stitched the wound closed and carefully bandaged it.

Faramir relaxed, feeling the tiredness of worthwhile exertion. The nagging uneasiness of the morning was now fled. 

Weapons of the Valar by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien estate.





Weapons of the Valar 

The boy stood gazing silently at the withered tree. He was so lost in thought that he did not hear the other approach.

“What are you thinking, boy?” asked the old man.

“It is so sad that the tree is dead,” the boy said solemnly.

“Would you like to see it bloom again?”

The boy’s eyes lit up.” I would indeed! That would be wonderful!”

The old man bent and peered at the lad, his eyes keen beneath bushy eyebrows.
“You are the Steward’s son are you not? Faramir is it?”

The boy nodded.” I know who you are too! You are Mithrandir.”

“That is one of my names, dear boy. You would truly see the White Tree in bloom?”

Again the boy nodded.

“Were that to come to pass your father’s rule would end, for the Tree can only be renewed should the king return.”

Faramir stared at the tree again frowning. “That would be good for Gondor, though, would it not?”

The Wizard smiled. ”Indeed it would. Just imagine, Faramir, a king wearing the Silver Crown and ruling wisely and well.”

“That would be a marvel indeed!” exclaimed Faramir. “Maybe then we would have peace? I would like to be a scholar and study the ancient lore when I grow up, but father says I must be a soldier.”

Gandalf leaned heavily on his staff and regarded the boy thoughtfully. This younger son of Denethor’s showed promise. “Come, walk with me,” he said.” I will tell you stories of heroes and great deeds.”

0000

Thirty years later.

Faramir sat gazing at the tree. It still seemed like a miracle to see the White Tree in bloom, though this was the fifth year he had seen it blossom. He tried not to dwell on the past, but today his thoughts were of his father. It would have been his birthday if he had lived. Hearing footsteps, he looked up and saw Aragorn.

“You look sad, mellon nîn,” said the King seating himself on the bench beside his Steward.

“I was thinking of my father,” said Faramir. ”If only he had listened to Mithrandir and not abandoned hope! Mithrandir had such wisdom! Why could he not see it? He would berate me as a wizard’s pupil especially when I spoke of my dreams of seeing the tree bloom once more. I sought only to do what was right, not to betray my father!”

“Alas, we will never know the full truth,” said Aragorn. “The Dark Lord warped your father’s mind, but I think too his judgement was clouded by the resentment he felt against Captain Thorongil. Mithrandir sought to teach you lore and wisdom, but in Denethor’s mind you were his weapon!”

Faramir looked grave for a moment and then he smiled. ”The Higher Powers made use of you too, my friend, and of Frodo, but only because we wanted to fight against the darkness. Now our swords can at last be sheathed.”

Reversal of Fortune by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:


The characters are the property of the Tolkien estate.

The City was almost as crowded as it had been for the coronation. A new King was a cause for excitement, but the man was a stranger and from the North too! Today, one of Gondor’s own was to be honoured. The people chattered excitedly voicing such sentiments as ““It’s about time someone took notice of our Captain!“

The crowd fell silent as a herald came forth. The silver trumpets were blown and the herald read the formal proclamation. “It is the pleasure of the Lord Elessar Telcontar, King of the Reunited Kingdom to appoint Faramir, son of Denethor as Prince of Ithilien and grant him all rents, lands and titles of the said region.”

The crowd murmured approvingly then fell silent again as a solemn procession came forth. A page carrying a silver coronet on a silk cushion walked slowly past, then Lords and Ladies dressed in their finest garb. At the rear of the procession walked the King and Queen, both magnificently attired in black and silver. Faramir walked slightly behind them even more splendidly clad in a dark green tunic, on which was embroidered the emblem of the White Tree. He wore breeches of the same green material. A white cloak embroidered with gold thread was about the young Steward’s shoulders.

Faramir walked as if in a dream. He could hardly believe this was happening to him. He had believed the King a man of his word when he had been appointed Steward and Prince, but he had never expected this ceremony to honour him. How his fortunes had changed! But a few months ago Faramir had been the scorned younger son. Worst was to follow when his beloved brother died and he almost lost his own life. All had seemed lost, not only for him, but for Gondor. Then the King had come and restored his life before defeating the forces of the Dark Lord in battle. Not only that, but the fairest lady that lived was troth plighted to him.

Faramir knelt before the King and in a loud, clear voice pledged fealty to him for the first time in public. Aragorn then took the coronet from the silken cushion and placed it upon Faramir’s head. “Arise, Faramir, Steward of Gondor and Prince of Ithilien!” Aragorn cried in a loud voice. He raised Faramir to his feet and turned him to face the crowd.

Loud cheers erupted and the people threw flowers to show their joy. During the long dark years of the war, there had been few formal ceremonies. Now within a few short weeks there had been the King’s coronation, the King and Queen’s wedding and now the investiture of Captain Faramir as a Prince of the realm.

At the King’s orders food and drink were distributed amongst the crowd while the Royal Party left for a ceremonial banquet. Times had indeed changed in Minas Tirith and greatly for the better. 

Private Lives by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate.

With grateful thanks to Raksha who both provided the plot and came up with an ending for this.



“We should be able to persuade the Council of the need to change inheritance law in this afternoon’s debate,” said Faramir.

”This afternoon?” Aragorn groaned. ”I was certain it was next week.”

“I prepared all the documents last week,” said Faramir a trifle reproachfully. “I assume you have not read it?”

The King shook his head. “Perhaps we could study the changes you propose now? "

“I would be happy to,” said the Steward. “I will fetch the scrolls.”

“We may as well study them in my private sitting room,” said the King. ”We can at least be comfortable there and have something to eat while we work.”

Aragorn ordered a servant to bring food and drink. The two men were soon sitting side-by-side, papers on their laps and hunks of bread and cheese in their hands, scattering crumbs over the carpet.

“I believe Elendil intended ..” said Aragorn only to be interrupted by a knock on the door. ”Come in,” he called tersely.

A maid entered. “Are you sure those refreshments are sufficient for you, my lords?” she enquired.

“This is quite sufficient, thank you,”said the King, dismissing the girl. ”Now where was I?”

“On page twelve,” said Faramir.


For a few minutes the two men continued to work. Then another knock came on the door. This time it was a housemaid, carrying a brush.

“What do you want?” Aragorn asked angrily.

“The cook’s assistant said there were some crumbs on the floor that needed sweeping up,” said the girl.

“It will do later,” said Aragorn. “Perhaps you could tell the Housekeeper we are not to be disturbed during the next hour?”

“Yes, my lord.” The girl bobbed a curtsey and left.

“Has a King no privacy?” Aragorn sighed.

“It seems not,” said Faramir sympathetically. "Neither does a Steward, for that matter at least not in Minas Tirith.

Their meal completed, Aragorn removed the plates from the small table in front of them and leaned back with his feet upon it.


As fresh logs burned, the room grew hot and both men shed their outer tunics.

Just then the door opened without a warning knock

“Estel!” Arwen said angrily. ”That table belonged to Father. It is older than I am! How could you put your feet on it?”

“I am sorry, “said Aragorn, hastily putting his feet on the floor.

“And just look at the carpet!” snapped Arwen.” There are crumbs everywhere.”


Meanwhile, Faramir struggled to pull his tunic back over his head swiftly. It was considered a grave discourtesy to be seen less than fully clothed.

“You would have more privacy in your study," said the Queen, smiling at Faramir to show that her anger was not for him.

"Now I understand why Ecthelion used to retreat to the recesses of the White Tower to ponder matters of state;" Aragorn grumbled as King and Steward heeded the Queen's words. “Now I agree with Ecthelion's words: 'Privacy is as valuable as comfort, and sometimes is more valuable still'." 

If winter comes, can spring be far behind by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

If winter comes, can spring be far behind?

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate




“I hate winter!” Eldarion said glumly. He gazed out of the window of Faramir’s home in Ithilien at the pouring rain.” You promised to take me riding and now we can’t go!”

Aragorn affectionately ruffled his young son’s hair sympathetically. ”I hated being cooped up indoors just as much as you do when I was your age, “ he said. We shall ride tomorrow if the ground is fit for the horses underfoot. I will tell you a story instead.”

The little boy was soon curled on his father’s lap contentedly listening to his father’s account of how the future king once hid all morning under his bed to avoid a history lesson with Erestor.

The next day the rain had stopped suffiently for the King and Steward to ride out together with Eldarion on his pony.

They passed through bare woods where few birds sang.

“Where are we going, ada?” Eldarion enquired impatiently.

“To visit Legolas and his Elven friends,” the King explained.

Soon afterwards Legolas appeared from amongst the trees. The Elf proudly showed them the new homes the Elves had built and the wooded gardens. Aragorn and Faramir enthused at what they saw, but Eldarion remained silent.

“What do you, think of our Elven gardens, young one?” asked Legolas.

“They are very nice,” the boy replied politely.

“You sound less than enthusiastic,” said Faramir.

“Everything is so dull in winter!” Eldarion burst out. “ The sky is grey. The trees have no leaves. You cannot even play hide and seek properly! There are no flowers either that I can gather for naneth.”

Legolas laughed. ”You should look more carefully, young one. Have you not seen the fair shapes of the trees and the bird’s nests that are hidden by the leaves in summer?”

“Yes, but ada says I must not touch nests,” Eldarion replied.

“That is only when the birds are at home in spring and summer,” said Aragorn. ”Now, their homes are empty and you may look.”

Legolas nimbly climbed up a tree and returned with a bird’s nest, which he showed the boy. Eldarion studied the densely woven twigs in amazement.

“There is more to see ion nîn,” said Aragorn.” Can you see those specks of green peeping out of the earth? In a few weeks time they will be bluebells, which we could gather for naneth.”

Faramir then pointed to the tightly curled buds on a linden tree. “These leaves are still sleeping,” he explained.”Soon though they will burst forth all fresh and new and then you can play hide and seek again.”

“So you see, Eldarion,” added the King. “Although winter seems dull and gloomy it is full of the promise of all the lovely things we shall enjoy in spring. If we had sunshine and trees and flowers in full bloom all the time, we would grow too accustomed to them and fail to appreciate the marvels of Yavanna’s gifts to us. Nature needs to sleep just like we do, but the promise is always there that when she wakes up again, she will be lovelier than ever.”

Eldarion rode home thoughtfully beside his father and the Steward.

Son of the Stars by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate.

Written for the "There and Back" Advent challenge. 

Son of the Stars


“Ada, I don’t like being on my own in the dark,” whimpered Eldarion.

Aragorn scooped up his son in his arms and took him over to the window. The little boy was now considered too old to share a room with his nanny and was finding it difficult to sleep. “Look out at the stars, ion nîn,” said the King. ”You are never alone at night with them to watch over you.”

The child’s interest was caught as he studied the countless twinkling lights. “Why is that star brighter than the others?” he asked pointing towards the Western horizon.

“That is Eärendil your grandsire, sailing his boat across the night sky,” Aragorn told his son.

“How did he get up there?” the little boy sounded puzzled.

“When the first Dark Lord assailed Middle- earth, Eärendil sailed the Sundering Seas to seek help from the Valar,” said Aragorn.

“Why does he shine so brightly?” Eldarion asked.

“He wears a great jewel upon his brow,” said Aragorn.

“Like you wear the Star of Elendil, ada?”

“Yes, only this is a far bigger and brighter jewel. Within it, is the very light that once radiated from the Two Trees ,which gave Arda light ere the sun and the moon were created. Such a fair jewel caused much strife with many desiring it. Beren, our forefather, took it from Morgoth’s crown and eventually it passed to the keeping of Elwing, who rather than surrender it,cast herself into the sea. The Valar took pity upon her and changed her into a great white bird. She flew to join her husband and gave him the jewel, as a light to steer his ship by.

Eldarion thoughtfully sucked his thumb, trying to take in such an amazing story.”It must be a very special jewel indeed then,” he said.

“It certainly is, ion nîn, for unlike my jewels, the Star of Eärendil shines for everyone and guides us safely through the darkness. Many a time, did it guide me home when I wandered alone in the Northern Wilds.”

“I won’t be scared of the dark again,ada,” said Eldarion, starting to sound sleepy. Aragorn carried him back to his bed and tucked him in, kissing him tenderly on the brow.

Aragorn looked up again at the star then at his sleeping son. ‘Twas wonderous indeed; this child born of his and Arwen’s love,was a true son of the stars.

Doubts by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien estate





Yesterday, swept away by the occasion and surprised and overjoyed, he had been happy to accept the High Office to which he had been appointed. That night, as Faramir lay awake, tossing and turning in the darkness, the doubts began to creep in. How could he ever fill his father’s shoes or Boromir’s? What if he proved a disappointment for King Elessar? He resolved to speak to his new Lord on the morrow and suggest he find a worthier man to serve in his place.
On that note, Faramir finally fell asleep.

**

Aragorn greeted Faramir with a kindly smile when the young Steward approached him the next morning.

“My lord, A greatly appreciate the honour you do me in retaining me as your Steward. I wish with all my heart to serve both you and Gondor, but I feel you would be disappointed in me. I respectfully suggest that you appoint my Uncle Imrahil in my stead,” said Faramir sombrely.

“And what makes you think that your Uncle would prove a better Steward than you?” Aragorn enquired.

“My Uncle has ruled Dol Amroth wisely and well for many a year,” said Faramir. “ My brother was born to rule and trained for his duties, not I! My father often said how glad he was that I was not the heir.”

“I do not share your father’s opinions of you. You have qualities that your brother did not.” Aragorn said firmly. He briefly grasped both of Faramir’s hands in his own. “Listen, to me, Faramir; when I recalled you from the Dark Vale, I saw into your heart. I perceived a man of great quality whom I need at my side, if we are to restore Gondor to her former glory. It is natural to feel misgivings, I have had many of my own.”

“You had doubts, my lord?” Faramir sounded surprised.

“A great many I fear,” Aragorn confessed ruefully. ”After your brother fell and the Fellowship was broken, I doubted my ability to lead at all, never mind become King! When Gandalf asked me to heal you, I very much doubted I could. Through healing you, I found faith in myself and my own strength was renewed. If doubts make a man unfit to rule, I would be the least worthy of high office! We would only have cause to fear, Faramir if we had no uncertainties, for then we would be blinded by our own arrogance. I do not know if I will be a good King, I can only try my utmost to be one.”

“And I will strive to be a good Steward,” Faramir said, his confidence renewed.” I can do neither more nor less.”

“That is all Gondor requires of us. I think then we should work together well for her good,” Aragorn smiled, clapping Faramir on the shoulder. ”Now, let us begin work!”

A man Apart by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The Characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate

Aragorn sighed deeply as he read through the sheaf of documents upon his desk. He never liked paperwork at the best of times, but had learned to deal easily and swiftly with the countless petitions, amendments to obscure laws and trade agreements.



Today though was different. A message had come from the Captain of the Garrison at Umbar to say that border incursions by the Haradrim were becoming more frequent. Several men had been killed and their horses and weapons stolen. The Captain requested reinforcements and permission to pursue the raiders and give battle over the border if need be. To do so, might quickly solve the problem, or escalate into all out war with Harad. To fail to act would show Gondor as weak and lead to the raids becoming bolder and the deaths more frequent.



Aragorn sent for Faramir to discuss the issue. The Seward did indeed have valuable insights, but he concluded, as he must. “You are the King, mellon nîn. It must be your decision.”



Aragorn was starting to develop a headache and decided to take a walk around the City. As always, his guards flanked him. He passed a group of children playing a game together and a troupe of acrobats amusing the crowds. He stopped for a while. The people hurrying through the streets all paused to acknowledge him. He watched them; merchants carrying their wares, woman shopping for their families, soldiers returning to the barracks, merrymakers leaving the taverns. Suddenly, he felt very lonely.



He turned and went back to the Citadel. He found Arwen hard at work with her ladies weaving a tapestry. ”What does it depict, my love?” he enquired.



“It is a scene of the Last Alliance,” his wife told him.



“Will it take long to complete?” he asked.



“Only a few months as each of us is weaving a part of it,” she explained, turning back to her work.



Feeling he was interrupting the ladies, Aragorn returned to his study and continued with the paperwork. There were several death warrants for him to sign. The magistrates had judged the crimes, but only the King had the power to sanction death or pardon the criminal. Aragorn studied each case carefully. There seemed to be no extenuating circumstances in any of them. He sighed the death warrants, as always with a heavy heart, that any of his people could act so basely.



The sun was setting. Aragorn laid aside the paperwork and went to join his wife for dinner together with Faramir who was invited to dine with them that evening.



“You look troubled, my love,” said Arwen, while they ate their soup.



“Sometimes, I feel very alone,” said the King. “There are so many decisions that I alone must make.”



“You will make the right ones, Estel,” she soothed.



“ I can only hope so, “ he replied.

”The Valar would not have chosen you and raised you to such high station were you not just, wise and merciful,” said the Steward emphatically.” I would never have surrendered the Rod to a lesser man. You might be alone, but were you to rule unwisely, I would tell you so.”



“As would I,” said Arwen. “ Remember, Estel, though you be set apart, those who love you are here by your side.”



For the first time that day, Aragorn smiled.

Many a Slip by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate.



Aragorn paused for a moment to admire the White Tree. The buds were opening and the first blossoms starting to show. It was almost a year since the King had brought it down from the Mountain. Much to his delight it had thrived in the Court of the Fountain.

He had decided to hold a celebration to mark the anniversary of his planting of the sapling and was on his way to a council meeting to discuss the festivities.

A man in the robes of a healer, hurried across the courtyard towards him. He recognised Tarostar, the Warden of the Houses of Healing.

“My Lord King, I bring a message from Borlad. He has fallen from his horse and broken his wrist so cannot attend the meeting.

Aragorn sighed. Borlad was the scribe who took notes when the Council was assembled. “Thank you, Master Tarostar. The Council Meeting will have to be postponed.”

“I could take notes for you,” the Healer volunteered. “It is my afternoon off and I was planning to go to the market with my wife, but she went on ahead without me as I was delayed tending to Borlad. I would far rather take notes than follow my lady around the stalls! She is seeking fabric for a new gown.”

Aragorn nodded sympathetically and accepted the offer. Throughout the meeting, Tarostar sat in Borland’s place and scribbled down everything that was said. He delivered the parchment to the Master of Ceremonies when the meeting concluded.

**

When the day of the celebration dawned, Faramir went early to ensure that all was ready for the ceremony before the King and Queen arrived. The Court of the Fountain was almost deserted, the public being barred while the final preparations were made, Faramir was rather surprised to see several kitchen staff hurrying hither and thither as no mention had been made of refreshments being served. Then he gasped; A frightened dove in a cage was hung on the branches of the White Tree and twelve tubs of lard were arranged in a circle around it.

“What is the meaning of this?” the Steward demanded.

“I don’t know, my lord,” said a scared looking kitchen maid. “We are just doing as we were told.”

“Fetch the Master of Ceremonies!” the Steward ordered.

A few moments later the man arrived. He had been one of Denethor’s attendants and Faramir suspected the man still wished his father ruled Gondor. The Master bowed low. “You bow only to the Lord Elessar,” Faramir said sharply.” Now tell me, what is the meaning of this outrageous display?”

“I followed the instructions I was given exactly, my lord.” He pulled a crumpled piece of parchment from within his robe. “See, it says here,’ Twelve portions of lard to be placed around Gondor’s most scared symbol’. A dove was the best I could think of for the symbol, as they are timid creatures. It isn’t my fault that our new lord has such eccentric ideas, coming from the North as he does!”

Faramir took the parchment and studied the barely intelligible scrawl. Healers were notorious for their bad handwriting and it seemed Tarostar was no exception. ”I agree it is somewhat hard to read and maybe you have made an honest mistake,“ he said.” However, you should have asked when the words appeared to make so little sense. It reads; ‘Twelve powerful lords will stand in place around Gondor’s most sacred symbol!’ Now quickly, remove the lard and bring chairs for the lords!” He had to suppress a chuckle as some of the lords, especially Dervorin of Ringlo Vale, did somewhat resemble lard!

“What about the dove?” asked the Master of Ceremonies,” I could serve it for your supper, my lord, if it please you?”

“I will take care of it,” said Faramir, snatching up the cage.”Now go and make all ready!”

When the King and Queen arrived a little later, there was no sign of the lard and the lords rose as one from their seats and bowed low. ”People of Gondor,” said the Faramir.”Let us rejoice and celebrate that our White Tree has now thrived here for a year .We are blessed by its blossoming and by the presence of our King and Queen amongst us!”

Just then the dove, released by Faramir alighted on the topmost branch of the tree.

Aragorn smiled at his Queen. ”Indeed we are blessed!” he smiled .”And let us not forget Lord Faramir who has arranged this occasion so smoothly just as he did my coronation and our marriage!”

Faramir bowed low disguising his expression. Little did they know!

End Notes:

A/N As I am prone to making mistakes, I decided to use some of my own recent typos as inspiration for this ficlet.
The story is set before Aragorn and Faramir become close friends.
Dervorin appears in “Web of Treason” as one of the chief conspirators together with Fosco of Lamedon, who resembles is as thin as Dervorin is stout.

Loyalty by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:




The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate.

"The Steward wishes to see you, my lord," said the servant, placing
another enormous sheaf of papers on the newly crowned King's desk.



"Tell Lord Faramir that he may enter," said Aragorn.



The Steward entered the room and approached Aragorn's desk. He bowed
low and shuffled his feet nervously. The King wished fervently there
were some way of putting the man at ease. He supposed that
considering his former liege lord had tried to burn him alive, it was
small wonder he was apprehensive.



"How may I help you, Faramir?" Aragorn asked kindly." There is no
need to bow save on formal occasions."



Faramir cleared his throat. "I am sorry, to trouble you my lord I
have come to ask a favour. It concerns Beregond."



Aragorn struggled to recall the name before remembering that Beregond
was the guardsman who had killed the Porter, trying to prevent
Denethor's last act of madness. Since then, he had fought bravely at
the Black Gate.



"And what would you have me do?" Aragorn enquired."His case will be
dealt with fairly."



"I ask you to show mercy to Beregond. I know he acted wrongly in
deserting his post and shedding blood in the Hallows, but he did it
only to save my life."



Aragorn regarded Faramir shrewdly."So, my Steward, you would have me
pay no heed to Gondor's ancient laws. Will not my new subjects then
think me weak?"



Faramir dropped on his knees."I beg of you then, my lord, to punish
me instead! Let the full weight of the law that should fall on
Beregond descend to the one for whom he broke it. Let my life be
forfeit instead of his or exile me far from your lands!"



"I do not think that would please the Lady Éowyn," Aragorn said
dryly. "A headless bridegroom would be of little use to her!"



"It would pain me deeply to wound the lady to whom I have given my
heart," Faramir replied."Nor would I wish to leave the land of my
birth, which I hoped to help rebuild and looked forward to seeing
prosper anew. Beregond, though, risked both life and honour to save
me and for that I owe a dept of gratitude. You can surely understand
that I could not enjoy my newfound happiness if it were bought by his
blood?



Aragorn suddenly smiled. He reached down and raised Faramir to his
feet and embraced him."If there is one quality I admire above all
others in a man, it is loyalty," he said. "Your loyalty to Beregond
does you great credit. I ask you to trust me that I can both deal out
justice and show mercy."



Faramir looked Aragorn straight in eye. "Do you think I would have
yielded the White Rod to you if I did not believe you worthy of trust, my
lord? I knew it from the moment you led me out of the darkness. They
say you are Elven wise and I trust in that wisdom in all difficult
decision you will make."



"Put your heart at rest," Faramir," said the King. "I shall not harm
one hair on Beregond's head."



Faramir rewarded him with of his rare, shy smiles. " I thank you, my
lord," he said. "We are indeed blessed now that you are our King."



"I too am blessed," Aragorn replied. "What greater treasure can a
Ruler desire than a loyal and wise counsellor who will not suffer
injustice that he could have prevented."

The Valley of Tears by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

Valley – The Valley of Tears.

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate.



“This valley is considered the most beautiful in this part of Khan Janab’s realm. I am certain you will find nothing more fair in your own lands,” announced the guide.

“We look forward to seeing it,” Aragorn said diplomatically.

Faramir managed a polite smile. After three weeks of visiting Harad for trading negotiations, both men yearned to see Gondor again. King and Steward were exhausted after day after day of lengthy excursions, supposedly to show off the beauties of Harad, but which they suspected concealed a motive to weary them until their wits became blunted.

The valley did indeed appear fair; its high sandstone red rocky walls having an austere beauty, while the vegetation was unusually lush for the region. There were many plants that neither Aragorn nor Faramir had seen before.

“I wonder if any of these plants could be used for healing,” Aragorn mused.

“ I shall ask if I may take some of these blooms to grow in Éowyn’s garden,” Faramir remarked.

Their guide smiled at the enthusiasm in their voices.

As they rode deeper into the valley both men fell silent. The scenery remained pleasing to the eye, but no birds sang while the air felt oppressive. King and Steward were seized by a sense of dread.

Roheryn suddenly reared up neighing loudly.” Easy, boy!” Aragorn soothed, only just managing to control the stallion.

“I like not this place,” Faramir muttered in Sindarin.

“Nor do I,” Aragorn replied in the same tongue. “It freezes my blood!” He found himself shivering despite the heat of the day.

“Surely they mean us no harm?” said Faramir glancing back towards his guards.” I sensed no evil in Janab.”

“It is not Khan Janab but this place,” Aragorn replied, still struggling to control Roheryn. “My horse is skittish,” he said loudly in the common tongue for their guide to hear.” I think we should return, he might have loosed a shoe.”

The guide ordered an about turn. Within the hour, King and Steward were back at Khan Janab’s palace where Aragorn made a polite show of examining Roheryn’s hooves.

“How did you like our valley?” the Khan enquired.

“It was beautiful,” Aragorn replied diplomatically.

“I should like to know its history,” said Faramir boldly.” I sensed that blood was once spilled in the place.”

“You are most perceptive, Steward of Gondor,“ Janab replied. “We call it The Valley of Tears in our tongue. It is said that long ago, a Princess ran away to meet her lover there. Her angry kinsmen pursued her and stuck him down. When she perceived his fate, she took his dagger and slew herself. The rocks are still said to be stained red with their blood.”

“The tale is true,” said Faramir. ”I could sense it.”

Unexpectedly Janab laughed. “Then what they tell me of the foresight of the Men of Westernesse must also be true!” he exclaimed.” I like an honest man. You are granted your trading concessions.”

Fit for a Queen by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate

Arwen frowned when she approached her husband and his Steward. They had been engrossed in conversation, but as soon as they saw her coming, stopped abruptly. This was at least the third time they had acted like this over the past few weeks and it troubled her.

She was fond of Faramir and encouraged his friendship with the King. The two men were very alike and needed each other’s companionship, as well as that of their wives, but never before had she felt excluded as she did now.

“Good afternoon, my lady,” said Faramir, bowing politely. “I trust you are well. We are having delightful weather are we not?”

Arwen glared at him suspiciously. Such trivial small talk was unlike the Steward she knew.

“Yes, the weather is just as I like it,” Aragorn added. “Sunny but not too hot.”

“What are you planning, Estel?” Arwen said sternly.”Some mischievous escapade I warrant!”

“Nothing, beloved, Faramir and I were just discussing the weather.”

“The Ambassador from Khand is here to see you both,” Arwen said rather frostily.”I shall expect a full explanation later."


***

Several days elapsed and Arwen was no closer to discovering the truth. If anything, Aragorn kept his distance from her as much as possible as if fearing she would sense his thoughts. Only when she insisted on knowing what he might be planning, did he concede that he was indeed discussing a matter of import with Faramir, but could not tell her as yet. Arwen was far from pleased. At least Faramir had departed for Ithilien to spend a few days with Éowyn and his family, so there were no more furtive conversations between her husband and the Steward.

***

One afternoon, the day after Faramir returned to the Citadel, Arwen was sitting weaving in her bower, when the King unexpectedly appeared and asked her to take a walk in the gardens with him.

Once they were outside, he led her towards a secluded part of the grounds that they rarely visited.

“Close your eyes!” he commanded when they rounded a path.

“Whatever for?” she protested.

Aragorn placed one hand, gently but firmly over her eyes and with the other led her along the path.

“You may look now,” he said, removing his hand.

Arwen stared in amazement at what she beheld. For there, dotted amongst the trees, was a new garden, planned with all her favourite flowers. Sweet smelling roses and honeysuckle, colourful poppies and delicate daisies, and more than these, the flowers of the lands in which she was raised, niphredil and elanor.

“Estel! This is so beautiful! What a wondrous gift!” She exclaimed joyfully kissing him in delight.

Taking her hand, he led her to the finely carved bench in the centre of the garden. They sat down, their arms entwined.

I wanted us to have a private garden, where we might sit undisturbed,“ said Aragorn “I fear I lack skill in creating gardens, though and needed to enlist Faramir and Éowyn’s help.Legolas obtained the Elven flowers for you.”

“So I was right, you were planning something!” Arwen said triumphantly, her eyes sparkling.” We must invite them to share a picnic here with us to thank them.”

“I am so pleased you like it,” said Aragorn.

“How blessed I am to have such a husband!” the Queen replied, kissing him tenderly.

Long they remained there until the sun sank low in the sky.

A Tale of Two Battles by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

The Characters are the Property of the Tolkien Estate.
With thanks to Raksha



“How goes the battle?” enquired the King. News had reached him that a large group of Orcs had been discovered heading towards Minas Ithil. Faramir and his White Company had been fighting the foul creatures all day amongst the ruins. Aragorn had decided to see how they were faring and had rode in at the head of a hundred fresh troops from the Tower Guard.


“It goes well, my lord,” said Beregond, who was nearby, checking Orc carcasses for signs of life. “The foul creatures are almost routed.”

Faramir, Steward of Gondor and Prince of Ithilien, espied his lord and came to greet him. ”The Orcs’ discipline fails now that the Enemy is no more, sire, “he said. “They cannot hold long against the Men of Gondor; half of them fled after we charged. ”

“Good tidings indeed!” said Aragorn. He narrowed his eyes, seeing the unusual pallor of his friend's face for the first time. He then noticed the blood- stained bandage around Faramir’s arm and frowned. ”You are wounded, my Lord Steward?” he asked with the careful formality that was required in public.

“’Tis but a scratch, sire,” said Faramir. "An Orc blade caught me a glancing blow.”

“Nevertheless, I would like to tend it,” said Aragorn.

At that moment, Faramir fell at his feet in a dead faint.

**

Faramir's next few hours passed in a hazy blur. He was dimly aware of being carried, his armour being removed, a stinging sensation to his arm, the King’s voice concerned and kindly. A familiar scent filled the air, sweet and green; or was it only a dream?

He slept; but dark dreams haunted him: dreams of clashing steel punctuated by the cries of the wounded and dying.

“Easy, Faramir!”

Faramir awoke to the comfort of a wet cloth placed on his forehead. “What happened?” he mumbled through dry lips. His arm throbbed painfully. He realised he was lying on a bed of soft furs and his arm was heavily bandaged.

“You were wounded, my friend, by a poisoned Orc blade,” Aragorn said gravely, holding a cup to the Steward’s mouth and supporting him as he drank. “I came in time to treat it with athelas, before the poison spread; but you have a fever and must rest.”

Faramir swallowed thankfully. Then he remembered. ”The battle?” he asked, unable to keep a commander's anxiety from his voice.

“The Orcs are vanquished; and those who did not flee died rather than surrender. You lost only two men while ten were wounded, but all will live. Go back to sleep now,” Aragorn said gently but firmly, tucking the covers more firmly around the Steward. ”You need have no more dark dreams.”

“I was dreaming of another battle,” said Faramir. He closed his eyes, then sighed. ”I can still hear the screams of our men as they died, the cries went on and on. I feared the screaming would not stop until I died as well.”

Aragorn took his Steward’s wrist and sighed. He lit another lamp and sat down beside him. ” Your heart races wildly, “ he said. “Tell me of this battle; then maybe you will rest easier.”

“It was the last time I fought beside my brother,” said Faramir,” and the first time I encountered the Nazgûl. I still recall the terror that seized my heart .I felt that dread again my dreams just now.”

“The Orc poison might well have been brewed to work in concert with the Black Breath,” said Aragorn. "As you suffered the Black Breath before, it has awakened dark dreams." He swiftly rose, moved to the tent's entrance, and there called for hot water. When it was brought, Aragorn took two leaves from his pouch, breathed on them and crumbled them into the bowl. A living freshness quickly filled the air as if a pleasant spring breeze had blown through the tent.

“Boromir and I tried to inspire our men, despite the dread we felt,” Faramir continued, “Terror overcame their hearts, though. Men and horses fled, only to be pursued and cut down by the Easterlings. Only a few remained and we feared that the Enemy would cross the river and overwhelm us. Somehow, we managed to destroy the bridge and confine the foe to the eastern banks. Only my brother and I, together with two other men, escaped by swimming. So many good men perished that day, some because they lingered to help me off with my armour. Some made for the river and were dragged down by their mail while others could not swim. To think that but four men remained of that great company! Many mothers wept and wives were made widows. I often wonder by what chance I was spared when so many died.”

“The Valar had a purpose for you,” Aragorn said. He wet the cloth again and pressed it once more to Faramir’s brow.

“I see now I was needed to help rebuild our land,” said Faramir. “I have found joy in your service and in my wife and children. I still think, though, of those who died.”

“So does any good Captain,” the King replied.

“My father was so proud of Boromir that day,” the Steward continued. ”It grieved him deeply when the western bank fell.”

“So you felt obliged to retake it and almost lost your life,” said Aragorn, thinking how sad it was that Denethor had never realised the worth of his younger son.

Faramir nodded. “You came then and saved me and all our people,” he said. “Today you saved me again!”

“Ruling Gondor would be somewhat onerous without you. You have a far better head for paperwork than I,” the King replied, his dry wit not disguising the affection he had grown to feel for this younger man who had become almost as a son to him.

“Ah yes, I was working on a trading agreement when news of the Orcs arrived, “ Faramir sighed. ”I shall be so behind with everything!”

“I will see that it is dealt with,” Aragorn promised. ”As soon as you are fit to travel, I am returning you to your wife and children. I would not wish to doubly risk Lady Éowyn’s wrath by both bringing you home wounded and expecting you to work while you recover! Now, go to sleep!” he lightly brushed his fingertips over Faramir’s eyelids, sending him into a healing sleep.

Aragorn remained watching over the Steward. Faramir’s collapse earlier that day had alarmed him more that he cared to admit. To lose Faramir would have been a grievous blow, not only for Gondor, but for her King who would sorely miss Faramir’s wisdom and friendship.

Satisfied at last that Faramir’s sleep was now dreamless, the King allowed himself to rest. Gondor again was at peace and in safe hands.

The Family Tree by lindahoyland
Author's Notes:

Theme: White Tree
Elements; Spring was slipping into summer, and the days were growing longer.

Author's Notes: With grateful thanks to Virtuella for editing and to Larner for the plot idea.


Disclaimer - These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain


Spring was slipping into summer, and the days were growing longer. The White Tree was in full leaf and already the first buds had appeared.

Eldarion and his little sister played together in the Court of the Fountain, fondly watched over by their mother, who had taken her embroidery outside. It was early evening, almost bedtime for the children. The Queen enjoyed this time of day when the bustle of the City had ceased and she could hear the birds singing.

The guards moved a discreet distance away, eager to give the royal family some privacy, while still seeing they were protected from harm.

"I climbed a tree in the garden today," Eldarion boasted to his sister.

"You didn't!"

"Yes, I did. I can climb any tree!"

"You can't!"

"I can!"

Eldarion glanced at his mother, who was bent over her embroidery. She frowned at the complex pattern in deep concentration. He then looked at the White Tree. He knew it was a special tree, but it looked sturdy enough to climb and it was the only tree in the courtyard.

"I'll show you!" He jumped over the low fence that surrounded the tree and nimbly shinnied up it, scattering leaves and buds as he went.

"Eldarion!" his mother cried. She sprang to her feet. The needlework fell to the ground.

The boy stared aghast as his father and Uncle Faramir appeared while the guards came running.

"Eldarion can climb trees!" little Farawyn announced proudly.

"Come down at once, Eldarion!" Aragorn ordered.

Eldarion looked at his angry father and down at the ground. It seemed a long way, much further than he had climbed up. He was suddenly scared.

"I can't, adar," he said.

"If you climbed up, you can climb down again, "Aragorn said grimly.

"He will only do more damage if he climbs down," said Faramir. "It would be better if we lifted him."

A guard moved forward, ready to do the King's bidding.

"He is my son, I will lift him down," said Aragorn. He strode over the fence and stretched up strong arms to grasp his son and lifted him down.

"Faramir, would you escort Arwen and Farawyn safely indoors, please," he said. "I need to have a few words with this young man!"

The Steward picked up the Queen's discarded needlework and handed it to her. The three departed without a second glance at the object of Aragorn's wrath.

Eldarion stared miserably at the ground and quaked in his boots at his father's anger.

"Why did you climb the White Tree?" Aragorn demanded as soon as they were alone.

"I wanted to show Farawyn that I could climb a tree," Eldarion muttered.

"There are dozens of trees in the gardens that you could climb, why must you choose the most special tree in all of Gondor?" Aragorn demanded. "Just look at the buds you have knocked off. Every one is precious!"

"It was just there. I'm sorry, sire."

"And so you should be! Do you not know that this tree is directly descended from the one that grew in Númenor and that Isildur risked his life to snatch a fruit to bring to Middle-earth?"

"I thought Isildur was a wicked man, so why should we think so much of his tree?"

"Who told you that?" Aragorn was monetarily distracted from his fury.

"One of the boys I play with. He said that it was all Isildur's fault that his uncle was killed in the war because Isildur kept the Enemy's Ring!"

"No, Eldarion, Isildur was not a bad man, but a good and brave man who did one bad thing. He was one of the greatest of your long fathers."

Eldarion stood lost in thought for a few moments then looked up at the scattered leaves and buds of the tree. "Will I be thought wicked for doing one bad thing, sire?"

"You are not wicked, just young and foolish. You must go to bed an hour earlier all this week and learn the Lay of Isildur by heart. Then we will forget the matter."

"Thank you, sire."

"Now go with the guard and join your mother and sister. I will come and bid you goodnight shortly."

"I am truly sorry, sire."

Aragorn looked at his son's woebegone features and then at the tree. The damage was slight. The next strong breeze would knock off more buds than the boy had done. If anything, the tree looked even better than it had done earlier in the day. Although there was little wind tonight the leaves moved almost as if they were dancing, while the late evening sunrays sparkled between the branches. As he watched, one of the buds unfurled to reveal a perfect white blossom. Maybe it was fanciful to think such a thing, but it were almost as if the tree were happy!

The King reached out and hugged Eldarion. He waved the guard away. "Maybe you will understand why this tree is so special if I tell you how I found it," he said. "Would you like that?

"Oh, yes, ada!" Eldarion smiled wanly.

His usual good temper restored, Aragorn led his son to the seat that Arwen had vacated earlier. He sat down beside his son, his arm around the boy's shoulder, and began to tell the story of how he had followed Mithrandir to the Hallow on the Mountain. Eldarion listened raptly, snuggled against his father in the chill evening air as the sun sank over the White Tree.

Bread of Life by lindahoyland

Day Eighteen: Wilderland

Today's Challenge:

There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us. 'Tis good to give a stranger a meal, or a night's lodging. 'Tis better to be hospitable to his good meaning and thought, and give courage to a companion. We must be as courteous to a man as we are to a picture, which we are willing to give the advantage of a good light. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The act of kindness or hospitability usually comes from a generous heart. Write a story or poem, or create a piece of art where your character displays this virtue.

Title: Bread of Life

Author: Linda Hoyland

Characters/Pairing: Aragorn, OMCs

Rating: PG

Warnings: none

Book/Source: LOTR book-verse

Disclaimer - These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

Aragorn was holding a public audience when one of the Citadel Guards dragged a bedraggled child before the King, a half eaten loaf still in his hand. The wronged baker followed a few steps behind, his features red with indignation.

"I caught this scoundrel, red handed, I did, sire, stealing from the baker in the third circle," the guard announced.

"What have to say for yourself, boy?" Aragorn's tone was stern.

"I was hungry, sire so I took it. Are you going to lock me in the dungeons?" The boy tried to sound defiant, but he was shaking with fear.

"Where are your parents, child?" Aragorn's tone was gentler. "And what is your name?"

"I am called Iorlas, sire. My father died in the war and my mother is sick with a fever, as is my little sister. We live in the first circle by the ruined smithy."

Aragorn beckoned to a nearby servant and said. "Take this boy to the kitchens and see that he is given a good meal and a bath. I will decide what to with him later. I believe he stole because he was hungry."

The baker glared as the boy was led away. "I must protest, sire. They all say they are hungry orphans if you catch them thieving! They should have their greedy heads chopped off!"

"Do you sell cakes in your shop?" Aragorn enquired.

Yes, I have a fine selection of every kind of cake you could wish for. My iced buns and honey cakes are especially popular with my customers."

"But the boy took only a cheap loaf?"

"Yes, sire, but …"

"The lad tells the truth, Master Baker. What hardened thief would leave fine cakes and take only bread, especially a growing boy, unless it were from want rather than greed. I will see you are paid for your loaf. Now go."

The baker slunk away, still muttering indignantly.

Aragorn gave orders that a healer be despatched to the boy's home then spent the rest of the morning dealing with more pressing matters than the young thief.

Later that day he ordered that Iorlas brought before him again. The boy now looked presentable, but he still shook with fear.

"Are you less hungry now, Iorlas?" Aragorn asked.

"Yes, sire, the cook gave me a wonderful meal!" The boy's eyes brightened at the memory before fear clouded them again. "Are you going to cut my head off now, sire?" the boy asked.

"No child is killed within my realm by my order. I know not who filled your head with such nonsense." Aragorn said gravely. "You must never steal again, though, Iorlas."

"I won't, sire, I promise."

Do you like horses, Iorlas?"

"Yes, sire, I do."

"Then you can earn an honest living as a stable boy. My grooms tell me they have need of an extra one."

"I'd like that, sire, but what of my mother and sister?"

"They are safe in the Houses of Healing. Now go and tell my head groom that you can start work tomorrow. You will be given some new clothes. Then you have leave to visit the Houses of Healing go to tell your mother that all will be well now."

To Aragorn's surprise, the lad burst into tears. "Whatever is the matter now, lad?" he asked. "The healers say with care and good food your mother and sister will soon get better."

"I didn't think the King would be so kind to us poor folk," sobbed the lad. "I thought you only cared about the great folk with jewels and fine houses. Lord Denethor wasn't interested in the poor folk."

"I am not Lord Denethor. I am Envinyatar, Aragorn Elessar. As King, I try to be as a father to all my people," said Aragorn, putting a fatherly arm around the child's thin shoulders. "I care about everyone who lives within my realms and if I can help them, I do. From the greatest to the least, it is our duty to try to help one another."

"That's what my mother says," said Iorlas, wiping his face with his tattered sleeve.

"Thank you sire." The boy rubbed his tears away with his sleeve then to Aragorn's bemusement hugged him, before scampering away, his tears replaced by an enormous grin.

Aragorn smiled as he watched the boy depart. This was what brought him the most joy from holding high office, the power to bring joy into his subjects' lives. He whistled cheerfully to himself as he went to join Arwen for supper.

A/n. This was written a while ago for a prompt, but I thought it suitable to post today. Wishing all my readers a happy and peaceful Christmas in the story take place about a year after Aragorn becomes King.


Messin' about on the River by lindahoyland

Author: Linda Hoyland

Title: Messin’ about on the River

When the weather is fine you know it's the time

For messin' about on the river

If you take my advice there's nothing so nice

As messin' about on the river

There's big boats and wee boats ands all kinds of craft

Puffers and keel boats and some with no raft

With the wind in your face there's no finer place

Than messin' about on the river – Hatch/Reed

Rating: G

Theme: One Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Elements: Beneath the willows

Author's Notes: Disclaimer - These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

With thanks to Deandra.

Summary: Aragorn has a surprise for Faramir

Word Count: 1,070

Aragorn was not usually prone to feeling envy, but there was one small matter in which he slightly envied Faramir, his Steward and friend.

Faramir’s birthday was in early May, when nature was at her most beautiful and Yavanna’s abundance was evident in every tree and flower.

The trees were still bare for Aragorn’s March birthday and the only flowers were the brave snowdrops and crocus that dared to emerge at that time of year. Even in Rivendell’s sheltered climate, the birthday picnics he had longed for as a boy had been out of the question.

Aragorn reminded himself that despite the benevolent climate of Faramir’s birthday month, the Steward had fared even worse for celebrating his birthday when he was a child, as his mother’s death and father’s coldness had cast long shadows.

Now, as Gondor’s esteemed Steward, Faramir had enjoyed a lavish birthday celebration in Ithilien with Éowyn, his children and his Uncle Imrahil. His closest friends were invited too. Aragorn and Arwen had been the first to receive an invitation.

The day afterwards, Faramir returned to the City with the King and Queen, ready to resume his duties there.

A few days later, Aragorn entered  the study where the King and Steward usually worked together, looking unusually cheerful for one who loved the outdoors and anticipated the day ahead to be spent poring over documents. “I have a birthday surprise for you, mellon nîn,” he announced, clapping Faramir on the shoulder.

“A surprise? But my birthday is over now and you and Lady Arwen have already given me a fine gift.”

“I could not bring this surprise to your celebration. Will you ride with me to the river this afternoon, ion nîn?”

“We are going swimming?” Faramir’s face lit up.

“Maybe,” Aragorn replied enigmatically. “You shall see.” He refused to say a word more on the subject.

As soon as the noonday meal was over, the two friends set out, urging their horses to a gallop. Given their heads, the steeds almost flew across the fields, their manes flying in the wind.

They quickly reached the Anduin and tethered their horses to a branch of one of the willows that lined the riverbank. The horses were soon contentedly cropping the lush grass.

Expecting to go swimming, Faramir look around for a secluded spot in which to undress. It was then he espied the small boat moored beneath the trees. “A fair boat indeed!” he exclaimed. “There must be a fisherman nearby, though. We shall have to go further down the river to swim.”

Aragorn shook his head and laughed. “There are no fishermen around, mellon nîn. The boat is yours! It is my surprise birthday gift to you.”

Faramir hugged the King delightedly. “It is perfect, ada! We can go fishing and I can take Éowyn and the children for river picnics. We can explore parts of the riverbank that are impossible to reach on horseback.”

“That is what I thought, when I had it made for you,” said Aragorn, clearly delighted at the enthusiastic reaction of the one he loved as his own son. “Now, let us try it out.”

The two scrambled aboard the boat, which was provisioned with a set of oars. To Faramir’s surprise, there was also a large picnic hamper and a flagon of wine stowed beneath the seats. “You think of everything, ada!” he exclaimed.

“That was Arwen’s suggestion,” Aragorn replied. “She sent a servant out with the provisions this morning and told me she did not expect my return until sundown.”

“Your lady is most generous,” said Faramir.

“She considers you a dear friend,” said Aragorn. He grinned. “Not to mention that she appreciates you accompanying me for some fresh air and exercise. My beloved says I am like a bear with a sore head if I spend too long indoors!”

“You could take your lady and children for a picnic too,” said Faramir. He took up an oar.

“Thank you. They would like that. I know Arwen misses the Bruinen.” He took up an oar too and the friends began to row.

“I should miss the Anduin if I had to live away from it,” said Faramir. He trailed his oar in the water as they rowed away from the bank. “Ah, this brings back so many memories.”

“Good ones, I hope?”

“Very good. When I was a lad, Boromir and I used to visit our uncle every summer. Those were the happiest times I recall from my childhood. Boromir and I would take a boat out and catch fish. We were so proud if the cooks deemed our catch worthy to serve at the evening meal. Fine though the fare at my uncle’s table was, the fish we caught always tasted better to us boys!”

“Food one catches oneself always tastes best,” Aragorn agreed.

The two lapsed into companionable silence as they rowed along the river. They stopped frequently to explore nooks and crannies along the banks. Aragorn was pleased to discover several healing herbs that were in short supply while Faramir delighted in the many species of birds they saw nesting along the banks. A family of ducklings swam alongside the boat and Faramir opened the hamper and took out some titbits to feed the little family.

The friends trailed their hands in the water when they became too warm and then Faramir launched into an old Númenorean sea-song in Adûnaic that he had learned from his Uncle as a boy. It was catchy tune, which Aragorn soon picked up and the two sang it together in harmony.

The exertions of rowing soon gave both friends a hearty appetite. The contents of the hamper did not disappoint. There was a selection of meats and several different cheeses, crusty bread and pickles. This hearty fare was followed by Faramir’s favourite honey cakes and a selection of fruits imported from Harad.

The meal was washed down with a fine wine brewed from grapes grown in Ithilien.

“This has been a perfect afternoon!” said Faramir. “Thank you ada!”

“I wanted to give you a special birthday celebration, ion nîn,” said Aragorn. “This makes up, too, for the lack of picnics on my own day of birth! To be serious, though, how much harder my task as King would be without your support and friendship.” He raised his glass in a toast. “Happy birthday, Faramir, and may you have many more!”

 

 

 


The Hawk and the Horselord by lindahoyland

The Hawk and the Horselord

B2MeM Challenge:FirstLines1- When shall we (three) meet again, in thunder, lightning, or in rain; Beasts1 – hawk; Landscape1-hill; SongLyrics1- So here's to drinks in the dark at the end of the road; TalentsAndSkills1- rope making; AspectsOfAragorn1- healer, Emotions1- grief; Love1- unconditional love; Injuries1-arrow wound, Book titles- Out of the dust

Format: Short Story

Genre: General, h/c

Rating: PG

Warnings: Mention of wounds and death

Characters: Aragorn, Éomer

Pairings: none

Summary: On a visit to Rohan, Aragorn notices Éomer is troubled.


These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.


"When shall we two meet again, in thunder, lightning, or in rain?" Éomer looked up at the approaching storm clouds and angrily shook his fist at the heavens. He flinched slightly, a movement that an eye less observant than his companion's would have been unlikely to detect.

Aragorn raised his own hand to allow his hawk to alight on his gloved fist. "What ails you, my friend?" he asked. "It is unlike you to rage at the weather." He did not look at Éomer, but instead watched the King of Rohan's hawk as it wheeled and circled over the hillside. "We have had a good day's sport and should be able to reach shelter before the storm breaks. I espied an inn at the bottom of the hill.

"It is nothing," Éomer insisted. He stood waiting for his hawk to land on his gloved fist.

"Does your wound pain you?" asked Aragorn.

"No," Éomer said curtly. He shrugged his shoulders again with an almost imperceptible wince of pain.

"You forget I am a healer," said Aragorn. "I see what others might miss. An arrow wound is no light matter. Lothiriel is concerned about you."

"Women always fret," said Éomer.

"I should like to see the wound myself when we reach shelter," said Aragorn.

"There is no need. I …" Éomer bit back a cry of pain as the hawk landed heavily. The bird regarded him quizzically with keen beady eyes. "Very well," he conceded with a scowl.

The two men rode in silence down the hill; their hawks perched on their wrists. Aragorn was not especially keen on hawking, but it had seemed a good opportunity to spend time alone with his old friend, away from the many affairs of state that needed to be discussed on this brief visit to Edoras. Éomer, though, had been silent and withdrawn, quite unlike his usual affable self. Éomer's Queen, Lothiriel, had confided to Aragorn that her husband had recently been wounded in a skirmish with the Dunlendings. Wounds and battles were nothing new to Éomer, though. He had fought as soon as he was old and strong enough to hold a sword.

They reached the inn just as the storm broke overhead. After making sure their horses and the hawks were cared for, they went inside. It was a small, cosy inn, simply furnished, but clean and welcoming. If the innkeeper recognised them, he gave no sign. At Aragorn's request, they were shown to a small private chamber and hot water was brought.

"Now let me see your wound," said Aragorn.

"There is nothing you can do to aid me, said Éomer. "It seems that I shall have no peace until you see it, though!" He pulled off his tunic to reveal a partly healed arrow wound upon his right shoulder.

Aragorn washed his hands and carefully examined the torn flesh. It had been roughly stitched and looked red and somewhat inflamed. "These stitches need taking out," he said. "I shall then clean and re-bandage it. You are fortunate I have my healing supplies with me. You should have been resting, not going out hawking with a wound like this. It has not been expertly cared for."

Éomer shrugged, he then grimaced at the pain. "One does not take one's best healer on campaign," he said. In the Mark, it is the wise women who are the most skilled and they need to stay at home to care for the old and the children."

Aragorn carefully took out the rough stitches, cleaned the wound thoroughly, and rubbed honey on it. Beneath his hands, Éomer's muscles felt taut as a strung bow, even after the most painful part of the procedure was finished.

Instead of telling Éomer to put his tunic back on, Aragorn called for more hot water. He took two athelas leaves from his pouch and cast them into the steaming water.

"Breathe deeply," he instructed Éomer, placing the bowl on a table in front of Rohan's King. He then started to gently massage Éomer's neck and shoulders.

Éomer took deep breaths from the steaming bowl.

"It is time to make use of the Elvish arts that Master Elrond taught me," said Aragorn. "Sometimes a healer must tend more than the wounds of the flesh."

"You were ever a remarkable man, I knew that ever since you arose out of the grass before me," said Éomer.

"I shall never forget you and your riders appearing out of the dust," Aragorn replied. "Tell me, though, why your spirit now lies as if trampled into that dust, which was once dispersed before the flying hooves."

Éomer said nothing. Aragorn continued with his ministrations. The silence was broken only by the sound of the rain pattering against the shutters outside.

At last Éomer spoke. "Good men perished in the battle where I received this slight wound. I made a grievous mistake. I did not think they would attack us after nightfall from what I know of the Dunlendings. Good men paid for my foolish misjudgement with their lives. There, I have said it! What will you think of me now? "

"Love between good friends such as we are, is unconditional," said Aragorn. "You made a mistake, which proved to be costly, but you are human. A king is not unlike a rope maker, you sometimes weave the fabric of men's fates, as the rope maker weaves his strands of hemp together. One of the strands might break, but the rope can be mended. The rope is marred, but it remains strong, as are you, Éomer King, a strong man, and a good one. Mourn those you lost and let their kin know of your grief. Then see they are honoured in song while resolving to be more wary of the Dunlendings in future."

"I thought they were no longer a threat," Éomer said bitterly.

"Talk to their leaders and see if some new grievance troubles them," said Aragorn. "You are still young; you will learn to see into the hearts of Men as the years pass."

"You are ever wise, my friend." Éomer's voice was slightly unsteady.

Aragorn gently squeezed the younger man's good shoulder. Then he continued his ministrations until Éomer's muscles were completely relaxed beneath his fingertips.

At last he ceased and said, "Let us see if the innkeeper has some of the Riddermark's warming ale for us. The storm has passed, but it is getting dark and we must soon be on our way or your good lady will be worried. I recall that you told her you would return in time to bid young Elboron goodnight. "

Éomer pulled on his tunic and enfolded Aragorn in a bear hug. "So here's to drinks in the dark at the end of a road!" he said. "The end of a road filled with grief and darkness, from which I now see my way home."

 
Many Names and Guises by lindahoyland

Many Names and Guises

B2MeM Challenge: Names

"In the hour of birth, or on some other occasion of moment, the mother might give a name to her child, indicating some dominant feature of its nature as perceived by her, or some foresight of its special fate."
Format: ficlet
Genre: family
Rating: G
Warnings: none
Characters: Aragorn, Arwen, Eldarion
Pairings: Aragorn/Arwen
Summary: Eldarion is puzzled why his father has so many names.
Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.

For he went in many guises, and won renown under many names. - Tolkien


“Merry and I miss you, Strider, as does Sam. We hope we can come and visit you soon, affectionately yours, Pippin.” Aragorn finished reading the letter and placed it on the table by the side of his plate. “It is good to hear from Pippin that all is well with him and with the Shire,” he said. 

“I would not be surprised if he marries that Mistress Diamond he speaks so highly of ere the year is out,” said Arwen.

“It is hard to imagine young Pippin being wed,” Aragorn replied.

Eldarion, who had been listening in silence, suddenly spoke. “Ada, why does Uncle Pippin call you ‘Strider’?” he asked.

“It was the name he first knew me by,” said Aragorn.

“But why were you called ‘Strider’ and why is it our name in Quenya?” Eldarion persisted. “And how do you come to have so many names when I only have one! It’s not fair. Naneth calls you ‘Estel’ and the people call you ‘King Elessar’ and Uncle Pippin calls you ‘Strider’ and Elbeth does sometimes too. Did your Naneth give you lots of names?” He eyed Arwen accusingly.

“I have many names because I have had lots of adventures, Eldarion,” Aragorn explained patiently. I took ‘Elessar’ as my throne name as it was given to me by the people because of green gem I wear, and  which I was wearing the night Gandalf asked me to help the sick here in the City.” He touched the green stone that he wore upon his breast as he spoke.

“Was that when you cured Uncle Faramir, Aunt Éowyn and Uncle Merry?” Eldarion asked.

“Yes, and it was the first time I had used the stone to help me cure the Black Breath,” Aragorn explained. “Then Uncle Pippin greeted me as ‘Strider’ when I arrived at the Houses of Healing. I then decided I should be called King Elessar Telcontar, if my kingship came to pass, so as not to forget the Ranger I once was.”


“But what did your Naneth call you?” Eldarion persisted.

“My mother, your grandmother, Gilraen, just gave me one name, ‘Aragorn’ when I was born. She and my father chose the name together for me. All the chieftains of the Dúnedain had names beginning with ‘Ar’ as that means ‘royal’. I would have been happy to keep that one name all my days, but it was not to be.”

“Why not?” the little boy asked. “I’m still Eldarion!”

“You are blessed to live in more peaceful times, ion nîn,” said Aragorn. “Long may you bear the name that your Naneth and I chose for you! Alas, I cannot remember my father at all. When I was only two years old, he was killed and I went with my mother to live with your grandfather, Master Elrond, at Rivendell. He was worried that the Enemy might hurt me and gave me the name, ‘Estel’ to disguise me. I had only just found out my name was really ‘Aragorn’ when I met your Naneth and Grandfather Elrond was still calling me ‘Estel’ which is why your Naneth calls me by that name."

“It sounds very confusing!” said Eldarion. “You have too many names, Ada; can you give some back?”

Aragorn laughed. “I fear it gets worse, ion nîn! Soon after I learned my true name, I went back to my people to take up my duties as their Chieftain. They were careful only to use my real name in private and I gained all manner of nicknames that the Rangers used when strangers were within earshot. Just outside the Shire is a town called ‘Bree’. The folk there used to call me ‘Strider’ or ‘Longshanks’ when I visited the inn there. I am much taller than they are and walk with longer strides  and it amused them.”

“But everyone tells me it is rude to remark on how people look,” said Eldarion.

“It is, ion nîn, but the folk of Bree thought the Rangers were dangerous vagabonds. They did not know that were protecting them from all manner of dangers,” Aragorn explained. “The name ‘Strider’ amused my cousin, Halbarad, and it became the nickname, I was known by throughout the northern lands. I introduced myself to Uncle Pippin as ‘Strider’ when I first met him, though I told him my true name too.”

“I’d like to be known as ‘Runner’ when I grow up and become a Ranger,” said Eldarion. “I can run really fast.”

“I know you can,” said Aragorn. “Rangers need to notice everything around them, though, and move very quietly. You cannot do that if you run everywhere.”

“Oh.” Eldarion sounded crestfallen.

“Sometimes Rangers do have to run though,” Aragorn added. “Uncle Éomer named me ‘Wingfoot’ when I first met him. I had been running across the plains of Rohan for days to try to rescue the Hobbits. He thought ‘Strider’ too poor a name! I was not always ‘Strider’ on my travels, though. When I was still a young man, Gandalf thought it would be a good idea if I travelled to Rohan and Gondor and became a soldier to learn more about the world. I had to choose what name I would be known by and chose ‘Thorongil’. That means the ‘Eagle of the Star’. I chose the name to honour Grandfather Arathorn, Grandmother Gilraen and the star shaped brooch that all Rangers wear.”

“I’ve heard of Thorongil’s great deeds!” Eldarion said proudly. “You were Gondor’s best ever captain!”

“Tales often become exaggerated in the telling,” said Aragorn. “Gondor has had many great captains. I have had many other names too. When I travelled in Harad I called myself….”

“Estel, it is way past Eldarion’s bedtime!” Arwen interrupted. “That tale must wait for another day.”

“ Ada, which is your favourite of all your names?” Eldarion asked as he mother prepared to lead him to the nursery.

“Can you not guess, ion nîn?”

Eldarion shook his head.

Aragorn smiled and hugged the child. “Why, it is ‘Ada’ of course!”

A/N.
Aragorn's first visit to Harad is described in my story "The Gift of Tongues" at
http://www.storiesofarda.com/chapterlistview.asp?SID=7074
Wtiger has also written a most enjoyable story on this theme, which you can read at
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/7186280/1/A-Name-Above-All-Others

The Reluctant Scholar by lindahoyland

The Reluctant Scholar

B2MeM Challenge: Tradition.

"Then it was that the Noldor first bethought them of letters, and Rúmil of Tirion was the name of the loremaster who first achieved fitting signs for the recording of speech and song, some for graving upon metal or in stone, others for drawing with brush or with pen."

Format: ficlet

Genre: humour,family.

Rating: G

Warnings: none

Characters: Aragorn, Eldarion, Arwen

Pairings: Aragorn/Arwen

Summary: Eldarion is a reluctant scholar.

Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.

"How is my son progressing with his studies? Aragorn asked Eldarion's tutor one autumn afternoon. "I believe he is studying the alphabet now?"

"His progress is slow, I fear sire," the man replied. "He speaks it aloud fluently, but shows little inclination to learn to write it down."

"I shall speak to him," said Aragorn. "I desire my boy to be well lettered."

Aragorn made his way to the nursery. He found Eldarion seated at his small desk under the watchful eye of a nursemaid. In front of him were quill, ink, and several sheets of costly parchment. The little boy was scowling as he dripped inkblots all over the parchment. He looked wistfully across the room to where his painted wooden dragon was sitting on a chair regarding him with gleaming painted eyes.

"How is your writing progressing, ion nîn?" Aragorn enquired.

"Who invented stupid writing?" Eldarion scowled as he answered. " I would much rather play with Smaug."

"Writing is not stupid," Aragorn replied. "It is an art. Tradition says that the alphabet was invented first by the loremaster, Rumil, and then improved by Fëanor, who also made the great light that adorns Eärendil's ship to light up the evening sky for us."

""He should have made more lights instead of these stupid letters!" cried Eldarion. "I hate them! I want to be the only person in Gondor who cannot write!" He threw the quill down, splattering ink everywhere much to the nursemaid's consternation.

"Eldarion!" Aragorn chided. "Have a care! Ink is difficult to wash away and parchment costs a good deal."

"I don't want to learn to write." Eldarion said stubbornly.

"I fear that cannot be so," said Aragorn. "There are many boys who would love to learn to write, but their parents are not able to send them to school. Instead, they must till the fields or tend the cattle."

"Well, let one of those boys learn writing in my place! It would be much more fun to work in the fields and I like cows!"

Aragorn pulled up a chair beside the boy. "That is not possible, ion nîn. You need to learn to write."

"I'm going to be a Ranger when I grow up and Rangers don't write letters."

"You are mistaken about that, Eldarion." Aragorn smiled. "What if you had a sweetheart and wanted to write to her?"

Eldarion looked horrified at such a prospect. "I don't like girls. They are silly and wear hair ribbons and play with dolls all day." He pulled a face.

"You might change your mind about that when you are older, ion nîn," said Aragorn gravely. "One day, though, you will be King of the Reunited Kingdom. A king must be able to read and write."

"Why?" asked Eldarion. "When I'm king, I'll order my servants to write things down for me so I won't have to do it!"

"Indeed you will employ scribes as I do," said Aragorn. "But if I make a new law or issue a decree, it must, by tradition and the law of the land, have my signature upon it as well as my seal."

"Why can't the scribe sign it?"

"If a decree was not signed by me, people would have no way of knowing that I issued it," Aragorn explained patiently. "Anyone could try to issue new laws. Maybe, for example, someone who didn't like cakes, might issue a decree saying no more cakes were to be made and claim I had issued such a decree. Then someone else might issue a law to ban toy dragons! No one would know which was a real law decreed by me and approved by the Council."

"You could tell them, ada," said Eldarion.

"Indeed I could, but while everyone was trying to decide which laws I had made, the bakers would stop making cakes and the toy dragons might be thrown away by mothers fearing that their children were breaking the law!"

"Could that really happen, ada?"

"It might if I did not sign every decree with my own hand. All sorts of bad things might happen." Aragorn said solemnly before being overcome by a sudden fit of coughing.

Eldarion looked thoughtful. He then lowly picked up his quill again. "Maybe I should learn to write then?"

"A wise decision, ion nîn." Aragorn tried to look grave, but he was smiling. He took the quill from the boy, dipped it in the ink, and wrote "Eldarion" in large clear letters on a fresh sheet of parchment.

"I suggest you practise writing your name," the King said. "I must leave you now as I have some decrees I must sign."

An hour later, Eldarion entered his mother's solar and proudly showed her his signature in rather shaky but legible characters. "I've got to learn writing so the scribes can't ban cakes and dragons!" he told her.

"Cakes and dragons?" Arwen asked in bewilderment.

"It is a long story, vanimelda," said Aragorn, who had just finished his paperwork and come to join her.

Arwen carefully studied the parchment. "I am so proud of you, Eldarion," she said. She smiled and kissed the little boy lovingly.

"And so am I, ion nîn," said Aragorn.

A/n. A revised version of a ficlet I wrote for BTME13.


Keeping Cool by lindahoyland

Keeping Cool

Summary: Arwen and Éowyn seek respite from the summer heat.

Rating: G

Warnings: none

Beta: none

Disclaimer - These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

"Is it far from here?" asked Arwen.

Éowyn shook her head. "We are almost there. I promise you it is well worth the climb even on such a hot day as this."

"On days such as these, I miss the shady trees of Rivendell and Lothlórien," Arwen said somewhat wistfully. "Sometimes I wish I could still have dwelt amidst their beauty after my marriage to Estel. Try as I might, I find it hard to love the stone walls of the City. Wherever Estel is, though, is home for me. He tries so hard to make me happy with the gardens he has created for me and by bringing me out into the countryside whenever he can. It is kind of you and Faramir to often invite me to Ithilien."

"I am always glad of your company," said Éowyn. "I have little liking for cities of stone either and am thankful I can spend most of my time here in Ithilien with my children, my horses, and my herbs and manage my own domain there. I can enjoy my occasional visits to Minas Tirith to see the wider world, all the better as I know I have my haven here."

Arwen nodded. "I suspect I would now find the Elven heavens too quiet for my taste, beautiful though they are. I was accustomed to presiding over a large household at Rivendell, much as I do in Minas Tirith."

"You are well suited as Aragorn's Queen," said Éowyn. She laughed ruefully. "How foolish I was when I wanted to marry him. I would have exchanged one cage for another! Faramir and I are far better suited."

"I am glad I have no rival for my husband's affections!" said Arwen a trifle tartly.

"You would have nothing to fear even if I still loved your husband other than as a friend," said Éowyn. "Aragorn has never had eyes for any than you and never will." She turned around and gripped Arwen's hand. "You will see the Forbidden Pool just around the next bend. When Faramir first showed it to me, he told me to look out for the great tree at the foot of the cliff and turn left there. Come!"

The two ladies rounded the bend. They were immediately enveloped by a refreshing breeze, which blew cool air across their faces and ruffled their hair. Arwen gasped at the sheer loveliness of the scene in front of her. The sunbeams danced on the water making the river appear as a silver- flecked ribbon. The waterfall tumbled towards its rocky bed in a silver cascade, the droplets glittering like stars as they caught the sunbeams. The water swirled and foamed in the pool at the foot of the waterfall, before flowing through a narrow gap into a calm and level stretch of water beyond .

Éowyn ran towards the water in delight stretching out her face towards the cool droplets.

"This place is wondrous fair!" exclaimed Arwen. "It reminds me of Rivendell." She knelt beside the water to drink. Éowyn did likewise.

"The water is sweet and refreshing," said Arwen after she had drank her fill.

"Faramir and his Rangers guarded it well and kept it unspoiled," Éowyn replied. "Now shall we refresh our weary feet and paddle in the pool? It is quite shallow."

"That sounds delightful, but…." Arwen looked around her anxiously.

"We are quite safe here," said Éowyn. "There are guards on all the secret ways into this place and the most of the garrison are in a meeting with our husbands. We will be quite unobserved." She seated herself on a rock and pulled off her shoes.

"I wonder if we will ever be at peace sufficiently that this lovely spot need not be garrisoned," Arwen mused, pulling off her own shoes.

"I believe it will be so in your lifetime, if not in mine," said Éowyn. "The Kha Khan is secure on his throne after triumphing over the rebel factions, while the Orcs grow less with every year that passes so Faramir tells me. What are you doing?" she exclaimed as Arwen unlaced her gown and pulled it over her head.

"You assured me it was quite private here and I will paddle more comfortably in my shift," said Arwen. "This blue gown is a favourite and I would rather not damage it."

"You are wise, my friend," said Éowyn. "We can splash around in the water far more freely if we are not weighed down by heavy garments. We are decent enough. Why should only men enjoy splashing around in the water?"

"Why indeed?" Arwen carefully folded her gown on the bank and clambered down the bank.

Éowyn swiftly unlaced her own heavy gown and stepped down into the water. She sighed blissfully at its coolness.

Soon the Queen and Princess of Ithilien were splashing happily in the shallows uncaring that they were soon drenched to the skin.

"I used to love splashing around in the river when I was a young girl," said Éowyn.

"So did I," said Arwen.

"You did?" Éowyn sounded surprised.

"I was young once," said the Queen. "And today I will be young again." She playfully splashed Éowyn.

The two laughed, their mirth ringing like silver bells over the roar of the waterfall.

 
Relief by lindahoyland

Title: Relief

Author: Linda Hoyland

Rating: G

Fandom: LOTR

Characters: Aragorn, Arwen, OFC

Summary: Aragorn finds the summer heat hard to endure,

Warnings: None

Word Count: 500

Author's Notes: For  Great Tales Challenge 307 “Summertime, and the livin' is easy:  True or False?”

 

Aragorn struggled vainly to concentrate on a lengthy treaty offering trading concessions to the Easterlings that he was supposed to be studying. He replaced it on his desk and wiped his sweating hands on his breeches. Then he went over to the open window and leaned out in the hope of a breath of fresh air. There was none to be had, though. The thick humid air made him feel as if he were trying to breathe underwater. The leaves of the White Tree did not stir. There was no breeze.

As King, he ruled over the Reunited Kingdom, but the weather was not his subject to command. Lord Manwë had supreme command of the winds. Aragorn sent up a silent prayer for at least a cooling breeze to bring respite to himself and his sweltering subjects.

From where he stood, he could see Arwen sitting in the courtyard beside the fountain playing with Eldarion. The heat failed to trouble her and Eldarion seemed to have been born with her resilience. Faramir strode into view and smiled cheerfully as he greeted the Queen and her son. He appeared as untroubled by the heat as they were.

Aragorn picked up one of the parchments he had been working on and fanned himself. For an instant, he thought somewhat wistfully of the Kha Khan of Harad, who kept several slaves for sole purpose of fanning him. He then smiled ruefully at the absurdity of employing a servant for such a purpose. How his subjects would laugh at the notion of such a pampered king!

It seemed only yesterday that he had been battling against the elements of a northern winter, struggling to find shelter from the biting cold.

Strange that the summers had not seemed so hot when he had served in Gondor as Captain Thorongil. Either the summers were hotter now the sun was unclouded by fumes from Mordor, or as he grew older, he felt the heat more. Or maybe Thorongil had been too engrossed in Gondor’s defence to notice the weather.

He heard a tap on his study door. “Come in!” he called.

“The Queen thought might like some iced apple juice to ease the heat of the afternoon,” said the maidservant.

“Thank you, Firwen.” He sipped the drink appreciatively. “I did not realise we still had some ice.”

“The cook had the ice house filled last winter,” said the girl. “There is still plenty left.” She wiped her apron across her sweating forehead.

“You and the rest of the kitchen servants must have iced juice if you wish,” said Aragorn.

The girl thanked him with a beaming smile, then scurried away.

Aragorn sipped his refreshing drink, his usual good humour restored. Arwen might not feel the heat, but she understood how it troubled him as Man of the North, born and bred. Aragorn decided he would spend next summer in the Northern Kingdom.

A sudden breeze blew through the open window and the refreshing rain began to fall.

 

The Shining Path of Peace by lindahoyland

The Shining Path of Peace – Linda Hoyland.

"Forgiving is rediscovering the shining path of peace that at first you thought others took away when they betrayed you. ~Dodinsky.

PG for mention of character death and minor violence.

Disclaimer: These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

With thanks to Raksha, Deandra, and Virtuella for editorial assistance and thanks to Dreamflower for suggesting the title.

Written for the Teitho "Betrayal and Forgiveness" contest where it was placed first.

The shadows were starting to lengthen, but the day was still warm. Aragorn and his Steward sat beneath an oak in the gardens engrossed in a discussion concerning the nature of the Simarils. Their wives had already gone inside to put the younger children to bed before dressing for the evening meal. Elbeth and Elestelle were out for the day, visiting Lady Adiva and her children. Eldarion and Elboron were playing on the nearby lawns.

"I'm tired of hearing about your boring uncle!" Eldarion suddenly yelled.

"My uncle wasn't boring! He saved the Hobbits from Caradhras and from the Orcs in Moria! He died a hero!" shouted Elboron. "He was the greatest captain of Gondor ever!"

"What about Captain Thorongil?"

"Uncle Boromir was a better swordsman than he was!"

"My father said your precious Uncle was a traitor!"

"Was not!"

"Was so!"

"My uncle wasn't a traitor! He was a great hero!" yelled Elboron. "Take it back!"

"I won't. Are you calling my father a liar? Aghh!" There was a resounding thud and Eldarion yelped with pain.

"Eldarion!"

"Elboron!"

The Simarils forgotten, the two fathers leapt to their feet and ran in the direction of the commotion. They waved aside the guards who had also come running. They found Eldarion rubbing his hand against a scratched and bloodied nose while Elboron prepared to swing another punch.

Faramir grabbed hold of his son. "Elboron, what is the meaning of this?" he said sternly. "Why did you strike Eldarion?"

"Eldarion said bad things about Uncle Boromir!" said Elboron, his young face flushed with anger.

"Only because he would not stop boasting," said Eldarion.

"I have told you not to fight with boys younger than yourself," said Aragorn. "Are you much hurt?" He was already examining Eldarion's bloodied face.

"Father, I didn't hit him back. I wouldn't hit a little boy. No, I'm not much hurt; it is just a bloody nose."

"Your nose is not broken," Aragorn pronounced after a careful examination. "You need to apply a cold compress to stop it swelling. I am most disappointed in your conduct, Eldarion. You should not slander Lord Boromir's memory."

"But I heard you say he betrayed Frodo," Eldarion protested. "I didn't make it up."

"We will talk about that later. You are to eat in your rooms tonight, rather than joining us for dinner," said Aragorn sternly. "I will decide how you should be punished later." Aragorn marched the two boys inside. Faramir lingered in the garden, a grim expression in his usually gentle eyes.

000

Aragorn, Arwen and Éowyn were frowning as they picked at their dinner an hour or so later. The baked trout was delicious and perfectly cooked, but their minds were not on their meal. Not only were they concerned about their sons' behaviour, but also that Faramir had failed to appear for the meal.

"He sent his apologies to Lady Arwen and begged to be excused," said Éowyn.

"Did he give no other reason?" asked Aragorn. "I cannot understand it at all. He was especially looking forward to this evening's meal. I told him we were serving his favourite dish; freshly caught trout. Maybe he is unwell? He seemed in perfect health and spirits but an hour ago, though. I will go and see how he fares after the meal."

"He said he desired to be alone," said Éowyn. "His expression was like a thundercloud! I can only think he is distressed over the boys' conduct."

"Have you decided what you are going to do?" asked Arwen.

"I thought making Elboron apologise and miss going riding for the rest of our stay," said Éowyn. She nibbled a piece of trout.

"That sounds an apt punishment," said Aragorn. "Does Faramir agree?"

Éowyn looked uncomfortable. "He said he intended to have a serious talk with Elboron about how violence was wrong, other than on the battlefield in defence of an honourable cause. He did not even seem enthusiastic when I suggested that Elboron ought to apologise to Eldarion for injuring him."

"Faramir loved his brother very much," said Aragorn. "No doubt he perceives him as defending his family honour. I have no idea what came over Eldarion to accuse Boromir of being a traitor. And to claim that the idea came from me too! I think I should have a word with Elboron as well as Eldarion to ensure that there is no misunderstanding."

"An excellent idea," said Éowyn. "He venerates the memory of Boromir, as a brave hero he can admire, all the more so after what happened to Lord Denethor."

"What has Faramir told him concerning Boromir's death?" asked Aragorn.

"Simply that he died bravely in battle. He intends to tell him the full story when he is a little older. It is a difficult subject for Faramir. He did Elbeth the truth about her father but he rarely speaks of Boromir's death unless he must."

"I have told the full story only to Faramir, Gandalf, Frodo, Sam, and my lady," said Aragorn. "Now it seems that the time has come for our sons to know too."

"Maybe it would be best if you were to tell him," said Éowyn. "After all, you were with Boromir when he died."

"I will speak to Elboron as soon as we have finished the meal," said Aragorn. "Then I will talk to Eldarion before bedtime. I have thought of an especially cruel punishment for him. Do not look so alarmed, vanimelda, you should know me better than that. I have decided he shall study Quenya verbs for an extra hour a day until he has learned better manners."

Arwen and Éowyn both laughed. "I will call for dessert now," said Arwen. "This dish is made of exotic fruits imported from Harad. I thought we could see how we liked it first at a private dinner before considering serving it at a state banquet."

000

Aragorn decided he would formally summon Elboron to his study to emphasise the gravity of the talk he intended to have with the boy. As soon as the tentative knock came at the door, he bade Elboron enter in a stern tone of voice.

The boy stood in front of his desk shuffling his feet nervously.

"I believe you have something to say to me?"

"Mother said to tell you that I'm sorry I hit the heir to the throne."

"But are you sorry you hit Eldarion? It matters not whether he is the heir to the Reunited Kingdom or a scullery boy. You should never strike the first blow."

"I'm sorry that Eldarion's nose bled, but he told horrible lies about my Uncle Boromir." Elboron's tone was indignant.

Aragorn's tone softened. "I fear there was some truth in what Eldarion said, though your uncle was no traitor." He rose from behind his desk and went over to a couch. He beckoned Elboron to come and sit beside him. "You know the story of Sauron's evil magic Ring, do you not?" he asked, once Elboron was seated.

"Of course I do, Sire. Every boy knows how the brave Hobbits, Frodo and Sam, destroyed it and saved all of Middle-earth. Uncle Boromir went on the quest to destroy the Ring as did you, Sire."

"You know your history well, Elboron, but did you also know just how terrible a thing the Ring was? There were few who could resist the magic contained within it. Your father was one of those few. Your Uncle Boromir was not as strong of will as your sire; and the Ring had exerted its evil force upon his mind for many weeks. He found it hard to understand why we had decided to destroy it rather than use its magic to save Middle-earth .The Ring tormented and tempted him until one day he tried to take it from Frodo by force, to bear it in the defence of Gondor that he loved so dearly. Frodo fortunately managed to escape and your uncle was filled with sorrow for what he had done. Just afterwards, we were attacked. He died bravely fighting to try to save Merry and Pippin and slew a great number of his enemies. The Uruk Hai shot him with many arrows. I came upon him just before he died. He was so sorry that he had tried to take the Ring. I told him to be at peace. "

Elboron said nothing but stared wide-eyed at the King. "So Uncle Boromir did do a bad thing?" he said at last.

"Yes, he did," Aragorn said softly. "But which of us has not at some time done something we should not have done? I forgave your uncle, as did Frodo. Do not think any the less of your Uncle Boromir because the Ring tempted him beyond endurance. Your Uncle swore no oath to the Ringbearer, but the Ring caused your Uncle Boromir to betray the trust that Frodo had placed in him."

Elboron again lapsed into silence for several moments before saying, "Why did my father not tell me about Uncle Boromir's death?"

"He did not yet deem you old enough to understand."

"I'm eight," said Elboron. "I'm almost grown up."

"So you are," said Aragorn. "Grown up enough to tell Eldarion in the morning that you are sorry you hit him and old enough to know in future not to strike the first blow. Not only is it wrong to strike someone, other than in self- defence , but also next time you could provoke a bigger boy into hurting you badly."

"I won't do it again, Sire, I promise."

"Then go now to your father and mother and accept whatever punishment they decide for you."

Yes, Sire, they are really angry with me."

"That is because you let them down today with your behaviour, but they will forgive you now that you are sorry for what you did." Aragorn smiled and lightly patted the boy on the shoulder. "Off you go!"

"Thank you, Sire." Elboron thankfully scuttled away.

Aragorn sat for a few moments lost in memories. Often he wondered how matters might have turned out had Boromir lived. Would Denethor's heir have accepted his claim to Gondor's throne and worked alongside him as Steward as comfortably as Faramir did? He and Boromir had respected each other, but that respect had never advanced into the friendship he shared with the others of the Fellowship. Would Denethor still be alive if his beloved older son had not fallen? There were so many things that might have turned out differently. Aragorn shook his head. It was pointless to dwell on what might have been. Far better to trust that the Higher Powers had allowed everything to happen as it was meant to. He could not wish for a better Steward or more devoted friend than Faramir. He could only hope that eventually their sons might become as good friends as their sires were.

Aragorn roused himself from his reverie and bade a servant tell Eldarion to come to his father's study.

Aragorn's son and heir had washed his face and changed into clean clothing. A swollen and bruised nose was the only evidence that remained of the day's events. Unlike Elboron, Eldarion did not shuffle his feet, but he looked uneasy and bore a shamefaced expression.

Before Aragorn could speak, Eldarion said, "Ada, I'm sorry. I should know better than to argue with little boys."

"You should know better than to insult anyone's dead kinfolk," Aragorn said sternly. "Would you have folk think that your mother and I taught you no manners? What manner of a king will you make if you do not display courtesy to all? When you wear the silver crown, you will encounter many who will seek to provoke you. You must learn to ignore them, or respond with a soft answer. Otherwise the land could be forever at war!"

"You have both always taught me to be polite to everyone, Sire," Eldarion replied. "It was just that Elboron provoked me beyond endurance claiming that Lord Boromir was a greater swordsman than you are. I could not suffer him to think you a lesser man than a traitor!"

"Lord Boromir was no traitor and I do not want to ever hear you say that again, Eldarion." Aragorn said sternly.

"But he betrayed Frodo's trust and tried to take the Ring for himself!" Eldarion protested.

"He did," Aragorn replied. "That does not make Boromir a traitor, though, because of one evil act which he bitterly regretted. Tell me, Eldarion, what you think of our forebear, Isildur?"

"He was a great hero who saved a fruit from the White Tree," said Eldarion, his eyes shining. "His noble deed has always been one of my favourite stories."

"This is the same Isildur who refused to destroy the One Ring when he had the chance. Much sorrow could have been avoided had he done so."

"Isildur made one mistake, which he later repented of, but he was still a great hero!" Eldarion protested. "You told me that no man could long resist the power of the Ring."

"And so it was with Boromir," Aragorn said gravely. "Do you understand now what I am trying to tell you?"

Eldarion thought for a long moment before nodding. "Yes, I think so."

"I found such matters hard to understand when I was but twelve years old too," said Aragorn. "There are few who have ever lived who have not made grave mistakes nor faced temptation. If a good man repents of his folly, he should be forgiven and his memory honoured. If Elboron should annoy you in future, just walk away from him and remember he is younger than you are."

"I will, Sire and I'm sorry. Naneth was distressed about my bloodied nose and it grieves me to upset her."

"Tomorrow, I want you to apologise to Elboron for insulting his uncle's memory. Then I want you to spend an extra hour a day improving your Quenya until I am certain you have learnt your lesson."

Eldarion looked utterly downcast at this news, but simply replied. "Yes, Ada. I want you to be proud of me."

Aragorn kissed his son's brow. "I am proud of you, ion nîn," he said. "We all do foolish things on occasion. Go to bed now. I will see you at breakfast."

As soon as Eldarion closed the door behind him, Aragorn heaved a deep sigh of relief. Boyish fights caused a great deal of trouble, but at least they were easily resolved. It seemed that Faramir was much distressed by his son's conduct, but no child could be expected to always behave perfectly. Once the boys apologised to each other on the morrow, all would surely be quickly forgotten and forgiven.

The next morning, the boys exchanged somewhat awkward apologies in front of their parents. After the sunshine of the day before, the weather had turned chill and a thin drizzle was falling, so there would be no playing outside that day. Within the hour, the boys were happily engrossed in a complex game with their toy soldiers, which were divided into two opposing armies, each trying to outwit the other with complicated battle manoeuvres. Aragorn, who was supposed to be in his study concentrating on state papers, found himself lingering in the solar instead and watching the boys' game. He noticed Eldarion was playing using battle moves he himself had been taught at Rivendell, while Elboron was using some strategies that Aragorn recalled from his days as Captain Thorongil. The King wondered if Faramir had played similar games with his brother and looked around the room for his Steward, but Faramir was nowhere to be found.

Faramir had joined the others for breakfast, but his expression was grim and he had said very little. He announced that he and his family would to return to Ithilien after the noonday meal. Éowyn had looked taken aback at these tidings. There was clearly something amiss with Faramir. The Steward was not himself at all. Aragorn decided to go in search of him. He did not have to look very hard as Faramir was in the rain- drenched garden, pacing the lawn like a caged beast.

"Is something wrong?" Aragorn enquired. "You are shunning my company and I sense that you are veiling your thoughts from me."

"I am well enough," Faramir said shortly.

"You are clearly not yourself, my friend," said Aragorn. "Why not come inside out of the rain and join the boys? They are devising battle plans with their toy soldiers. I was wondering if you used to play that game with Boromir."

Something inside Faramir suddenly appeared to snap. "Do not mention my brother's name!" he cried. "Since you betray and dishonour his memory in such a fashion, I would rather that you did not speak of him at all!"

Aragorn gazed dumbfounded at his usually even- tempered Steward. At last, he said, "I do not know what you mean. I have always respected Boromir's memory."

"Small respect you show him in calling him a traitor!" Faramir retorted. "How many others now speak of him thus?"

"I did no such thing. You should know me better than that."

"I heard it from Eldarion's own lips, as did you. I trusted you when you promised that Boromir's name would remain untarnished."

"And so it has. Before I spoke to our sons last night, I have spoken of what passed between him and Frodo to none, save the others in the Fellowship, yourself, and my lady." Aragorn's puzzled expression suddenly cleared. "Ah that is what Eldarion must have overheard. I was talking to Arwen the other night about how the Enemy's Ring wrought its wiles upon us all. I told her how it was an evil magic indeed that had caused Boromir to betray Frodo's trust. I then went on to tell her how it tried to tempt me too to abandon my duty."

"You were tempted by it?" Faramir sounded incredulous.

Aragorn nodded gravely. "I was only able to resist as Master Elrond had warned me of its power since my youth. I am sorry, my friend. The conversation was not meant for Eldarion's ears. I meant no disrespect to your brother."

Faramir's shoulders suddenly slumped. "It is I who should apologise. I should not have spoken to you, thus. Boromir was weak and unable to resist temptation. I so desired that Elboron should have at least one kinsman he could admire after how his grandsire deserted his post and met a most ignominious end."

Aragorn placed a comforting hand on the younger man's shoulder. "Elboron has many kin to admire, not least yourself and Éowyn. His great grandsire, Ecthelion, was a great man of wisdom; his grandmother was the gentlest and fairest of ladies and his uncle was a noble and courageous man. Then what finer example could there be than Imrahil, a wise and just prince? Why not stay here in Minas Tirith for a few more days and show Elboron some of the buildings your illustrious forebears constructed here?

Faramir laughed. "Elboron would think I had not forgiven him for fighting if I made him look at ancient buildings."

"Just stay a while longer then so our families can simply enjoy each other's company. Then I at least will be forgiven!"

"We will stay gladly," said Faramir. "None save a fool forgoes the company of friends. Or so Boromir used to say."

"A wise saying of your brother's that we would do well to act upon," said Aragorn. "I remember him sharing some of his sayings with the Hobbits."

Their thoughts again in harmony the two men walked side by side along the path engrossed in conversation. Overhead, the sun finally broke through the clouds and illuminated them with its rays.

Sights best left Unseen by lindahoyland

Title; Sights best Left Unseen

B2MeM Challenge: Loss of innocence
Format: short story
Genre: angst, humour, hurt/comfort, family
Rating: PG
Warnings: mention of wounds and medical procedures
Characters: Aragorn, Eldarion, OMC
Pairings: none
Summary: Eldarion is distressed.
Disclaimer:The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.

"My wound is healing nicely," said Aragorn. "I think the stitches should be ready to come out today."

"I shall decide that sire," said Aedred. "Now if you would just remove your tunic and shirt and sit over there on the couch so that I can examine you."

"I hope your hands are not as cold as last time," Aragorn grumbled. "They were freezing. You should warm them in front of the fire before you touch me!"

"I am certain my hands are warm enough," said Aedred. "It is not as if you were a baby or a frail old man. Now if you please, my lord."

Aragorn sighed. He reluctantly got up from his desk and walked over to the couch. He was about to sit down when he noticed Eldarion's wooden dragon, Smaug. He placed the toy on his desk out of the way.

"You would need more stiches from me if you had sat upon that dragon's spines," said Aedred.

"Well, I did not, and there is no need to look so cheerful at the prospect," Aragorn replied testily. "I am always telling Eldarion not to leave his toys lying around. He will be upset later, thinking his favourite toy is lost. You might have sat upon it yourself, if he had left it on that chair you have just vacated, then it would be you in need of a few stitches!"

"And you have no need to look so cheerful either!" Aedred retorted. "Now, sire, if you would permit me to examine you?" While Aragorn disrobed, he turned aside to wash his hands in a bowl of hot water that a servant had brought earlier for the purpose. Aedred then dried his hands and carefully unwrapped the bandages that adorned the King's left shoulder to reveal dark purple bruises and an ugly, jagged sword slash held together by a row of stitches.

"You are lucky, sire," Aedred pronounced. "The wound is healing cleanly and there is no infection. I suppose you have your strong Númenorean constitution to thank. You have been very fortunate this time. You should take better care of yourself, my lord."

"I am King and must lead my men into battle," said Aragorn. "Would you have me skulk at home and let others lead my armies? A king should not shun tasks that he commands others to perform."

"I am certain your Queen would be delighted if you let your capable captains do their job," said Aedred.

Aragorn made no reply, preferring to allow the healer to concentrate on removing the line of neat stiches.

"I will apply a salve of hypericum and then bandage it again," said the healer.

"Calendula would be a better choice," said Aragorn. "It itches now that it is starting to heal."

"Are you treating this wound or…" Aedred was interrupted by a knock on the door.

Aragorn reached for his shirt to cover himself, but too late.

Before either man could say anything, Eldarion burst into the room. "Smaug is lost!" he cried. "Ada, have you seen him?"

"How many times must I tell you that you should wait after knocking to be told if you may come in?" Aragorn chided. "I am occupied with Master Aedred here."

Eldarion was not listening. Instead, he was staring fixedly at the bruises and the livid wound upon his father's shoulder. "Ada, you are hurt!" he cried.

"I was hurt, but is better now," said Aragorn. "I told you that I could not lift you up for a while after the battle with the rebel Southrons."

"I didn't think you were hurt so bad," said Eldarion. His lower lip started to tremble.

Aragorn sighed. This was the last thing that he wanted his son to witness at such a young age. Eldarion had been to visit him when he was ill or injured since he was a baby, but he and Arwen had taken great care that his wounds were always covered. He knew that one day Eldarion would have to learn about wounds, but Stars, not yet! He was little more than a babe. Why did he have to lose his innocence so soon over the ugliness of fighting and the damage caused by weapons of war?

"Does it hurt much?" Eldarion asked tearfully.

"Not now, ion nîn."

"Did the bad men hurt you?"

"They did, but Master Aedred has made it better."

"Ada must stay at home and not let the bad men hurt him again," said Eldarion.

"I cannot do that, ion nîn. I am a soldier and the King. I have to fight to protect all my people from those who wish us harm."

Eldarion's sobs increased. Heedless of this still healing wound, Aragorn scooped the little boy up in his arms. "Shush," he soothed. "There is nothing to cry about. Ada is almost better now and he hopes it will be a long time before any more bad men want to fight against us."

"I'll fight the bad men!" said Eldarion.

"When you are older you shall, but that will not be for a long time."

Eldarion clung to his father, causing Aragorn to wince at the pain in his shoulder. Suddenly, he felt warmth emanating from Eldarion's small hands and easing the pain in his injury. He had hoped that the child would inherit the healing powers of his forebears, but had not dared to hope it would be so strong, and at such an early age. He struggled to hold back his own tears.

"Master Eldarion, I think this fine dragon belongs to you, does it not?" said Aedred, seeking to distract both father and son.

"His name's Smaug," said Eldarion. "He is the best dragon there is!"

Aragorn lowered the little boy to the ground. He ran and took the dragon from Aedred's outstretched hand."

"Thank Master Aedred and then take Smaug back to the nursery," said Aragorn. "Your nanny will be looking for you. I must let my healer finish tending my wound now, but I will come and tell you a story before bedtime."

His tears quickly forgotten, Eldarion left the room, Smaug tucked under his arm.

"Eldarion has the healer's gift," Aragorn told Aedred with pride in his voice. "I felt the pain leaving my wound when he held his hands above it. I would not have had him see a wound so young, though."

"Sadly, children cannot remain innocent for long," said Aedred. "I was already helping bind wounds at his age. My mother was sickly and my sister still a babe in arms. My father was a Rider and fought many a battle with his Éored. There was none save I to assist the healing woman when he came home wounded after fighting Orcs. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a healer."

"You never wanted to be a Rider of Rohan like your father then?"

Aedred laughed ruefully. "I think I was the only boy in my village that feared horses. I saw one bolt and trample an old man when I was very young. My father's talents were not mine, but it seems your boy shares your gift. Maybe he will grow up to be a healer like his sire."

"I have always fought in the hope that no more fathers and sons would lose their lives in battle, and no more women would be left defenceless and bereft," said Aragorn. "I can hope only that by the time Eldarion is grown there will be fewer wounds that need healing and our little ones can remain innocent of the horrors of war."

Aedred nodded. "I fear that the nature of Men is such, though that our lands will always need both warriors and healers. But I must leave you now, sire to visit my next patient, a young lad who fell out of a tree picking apples. A healer's work is never done whether we have times of war or peace."

A/n. Aedred is a recurrent OC of mine. He was born in Rohan and trained in as a healer in Gondor, where he now has the unenviable job of being Aragorn's healer. He and Aragorn are good friends and colleagues.

If Winter Comes by lindahoyland

If Winter Comes

"The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" - Shelley

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. This story is written for pleasure, not profit.

With thanks to Raksha

"I hate winter!" Eldarion said glumly. He looked out of the window of Faramir's home in Ithilien and stared at the pouring rain." You promised to take me out riding and now we can't go!"

Aragorn affectionately ruffled his young son's hair. "I was just like you when I was your age. I hated being cooped up indoors," he said. "We shall ride tomorrow if the ground is fit for the horses underfoot. I will tell you a story instead today."

The little boy was soon curled on his father's lap contentedly listening to his father's account of how the future king once hid all morning under his bed to avoid studying history with Glorfindel. It had been a day much like today and his anxious mother and half of Master Elrond's household had gone out searching for him in the pouring rain.

"What happened then?" asked Eldarion. "Were you punished?"

Aragorn laughed ruefully. "I was not allowed to go riding for weeks and was made to have extra history lessons when I would usually have been playing outside. I never hid during a lesson again."

"Ada, did you ever learn to like history?" asked Eldarion.

"I did once I was old enough to properly understand all the great deeds I learned about," said Aragorn. "Now come, we do not want to keep Uncle Faramir and Aunt Éowyn waiting. We are guests in their home and must not be late for the delicious meals their cook has prepared for us all."

000

Much to Eldarion's relief, the watery sun was shining through his bedroom window when he awoke the next morning. He hurried to eat his breakfast then joined his father and Uncle Faramir in the stables where they helped him saddle his pony.

The small party set off. They rode along the woodland paths past the wintery landscape of bare trees.

"Where are we going, ada?" Eldarion enquired impatiently.

"To visit Uncle Legolas and his Elven friends," the King answered.

"I love visiting Uncle Legolas," said Eldarion. "I like it when he climbs trees. Most grown- ups won't do that."

Aragorn and Faramir laughed.

"I climbed enough trees to last a lifetime in my Ranger days," said Faramir.

"As did I," said Aragorn.

Not long afterwards, Legolas appeared from amongst the trees to greet his visitors. The Elf proudly showed them the new homes the Elves had built and the wooded gardens they tended. Aragorn and Faramir enthused about what they saw, but Eldarion remained silent.

"What do you think of our Elven gardens, young one?" asked Legolas.

"They are very nice," the boy replied politely.

"You sound less than enthusiastic," said Faramir. "I think them quite beautiful and feel honoured that the Elves choose to dwell here in Ithilien."

"It is just that everything is so dull in winter!" Eldarion burst out. "The sky is grey. The trees are bare. I cannot even play hide and seek, since there are no leaves to shield me! There are not even any flowers to pick for Naneth."

Legolas laughed. "You should look more carefully, young one. Have you not seen the fair shapes of the trees now they are no longer concealed, and the bird's nests that are hidden from view by the leaves in summer?"

"Yes, but Ada says I must not touch the nests," Eldarion replied.

"Only when the birds are at home in spring and summer," said Aragorn. "Now, their homes are empty and deserted and you may safely look."

"But they are too high up to see properly," Eldarion protested.

"I shall bring you one then, Aragornion." Legolas nimbly climbed up the nearest tree and returned with a bird's nest, which he handed to the boy. Eldarion studied the densely woven twigs carefully, fascinated by the intricate design.

"There is far more to discover, ion nîn," said Aragorn." Can you see those specks of green peeping out of the earth? In a few weeks, they will be bluebells, which we could gather for Naneth."

Faramir then pointed to the tightly curled buds on a linden tree. "These leaves still sleep," he explained. "But soon, they will burst forth fresh and new, and give you cover to play hide and seek again."

"So you see, Eldarion," added the King. "Although winter seems drear, it holds the promise of all the bounty we shall enjoy in spring. If we had sunshine, and trees and flowers in full bloom all the time, we would grow too accustomed to them and fail to appreciate the marvels of Yavanna's gifts to us. Nature needs to sleep just like we do, but the promise is always there that when she wakes up again, she will be fairer than ever."

"You must visit again soon," said Legolas. "I would show you more of the hidden beauties of nature."

"I shall have lots to tell Naneth," Eldarion said thoughtfully. As they rode home, he looked eagerly around him, in hope of the promise of spring.

A/n. This is a revised version of a ficlet I wrote for a prompt on the AA list way back in 2008.

I do by lindahoyland

I do – by Linda Hoyland

Rated – K+

Summary – What does it take to frighten Aragorn?

Disclaimer: These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

Never before Aragorn felt so afraid. He had faced countless perils in this long life, but never before had he felt his heart pounding so hard that it felt as if it might burst. This was not the icy dread he had felt when facing the Nazgûl, but a very different kind of fear.

"It is almost time." Faramir's voice roused him from his whirling thoughts.

Aragorn took a deep breath and studied his reflection in the looking glass. He hardly recognised the richly clad personage who stared back at him. He was clad in a black tunic, embroidered with mithril and black breeches, over which he wore the same white mantel he had worn at his coronation. His unruly hair had been washed, and then brushed until it shone and his beard was neatly barbered. The Star of Elendil adorned his brow. And he smelled of rose water; it must have been poured into his bath that morning.

"You look every inch a King my lord," said Faramir. "Your lady will be well pleased."

Aragorn forced himself to smile at the young man, though his words only served to intensify the rising sense of panic within him. He was indeed a King now and could make Arwen his Queen, but could he ever offer her all she deserved? Would she look at him and think of the mighty Elves she could have chosen to wed? Then he knew so little of the arts of love. Would he be able to delight her as a husband when they came to lie together?

"Are you ready now, sire?" asked Faramir.

Aragorn had waited for this moment since he came to manhood. How could he ever be ready to ask so much of the woman he loved? She was forsaking the life of the Eldar and the company of her kin until the remaking of the world.

Aragorn shook himself inwardly. She would lose much, but also gain much, the children they would raise together and at the last; the Gift of Men, the freedom to move beyond the circles of the world.

Faramir coughed. "They are waiting for us,, my lord," he said, sounding somewhat anxious at his liege's tardiness.

"I am coming. "Aragorn took a deep breath and followed Faramir outside to the Court of the Fountain. He hoped that none would notice how he was trembling. What if he forgot what he was supposed to say?

The summer air was scented with the White Tree's fragrant blossoms. The fountain sparkled in the bright sunlight. The courtyard was crowded and a cheer rang out as the King appeared.

Aragorn was deaf and blind to everything around him. As if in a dream, he followed Faramir to where Gandalf was standing beside the White Tree. He smiled benevolently at Aragorn.

There was no sign, though, of Arwen. Aragorn looked around him wildly. What, if now the moment to decide had come she changed her mind? Surely, this was something he should not fear though. Arwen was of steadfast heart. She would never forsake him. She had given him her pledge.

Then she, appeared, leaning on her father's arm. Her beauty eclipsed the dancing sunbeams while her eyes were brighter than any star in the heavens. She wore a gown of blue and silver and her hair was braided with bright gemstones. She looked into Aragorn's eyes and his fears melted away like mist in a morning breeze.

Master Elrond placed Arwen's hand in Aragorn's. Faramir, who stood at Aragorn's side, then handed a silken cord to Gandalf, which he twined around Aragorn and Arwen's wrists.

"Aragorn, son of Arathorn and Gilraen, do you give your solemn vow to take, Arwen, daughter of Elrond and Celebrian in wedlock? Will you bear love and faith only to her until the ending of your days? Will you cherish her and keep her, and raise her children with love?"

Aragorn turned and smiled at his bride, his eyes filled with love. "I do," he said. "With all my heart, I do."

A/n. Written for the Teitho "I do" challenge where it was placed third.

Many a Slip by lindahoyland

Many a Slip

Disclaimer: These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

Aragorn paused for a moment to admire the White Tree. The buds were opening and the first blossoms starting to show. It was almost a year since the King had brought it down from the Mountain. Much to his delight, it had thrived and flourished in the Court of the Fountain.

It seemed fitting to hold a celebration to mark the anniversary of his planting of the sapling and he was making his way to a council meeting to discuss the festivities.

A man in the robes of a healer, was hurrying across the courtyard towards the King. Aragorn recognised him as Tarostar, the Warden of the Houses of Healing.

"My Lord King, I bring a message from Borlad," said Tarostar. He has fallen from his horse and broken his wrist so cannot attend a meeting he says he was on his way to."

Aragorn sighed. Borlad was the scribe who took notes when the Council was assembled. "Thank you, Master Tarostar. The Council Meeting will have to be postponed. We cannot proceed without a scribe and I do not know where we can find one at such short notice."

"I could take notes for you," Tarostar volunteered. "It is my afternoon off. I was planning to go to the market with my wife and daughter, but they went on ahead without me since I was delayed tending to Borlad. I admit that I would far rather take notes than follow my womenfolk around the stalls for hours! They are seeking fabrics for new gowns. If you would send a message to them, I would be happy to help you."

Aragorn nodded sympathetically and gratefully accepted the offer. Throughout the meeting, Tarostar sat in Borland's place and swiftly scribbled down everything that was said. He delivered the parchment to the Master of Ceremonies when the meeting concluded.

The next day, a new scribe was found to take over Borland's duties until he recovered and Aragorn thought no more of the matter.

When the day to celebrate finding the White Tree dawned, Faramir went early to ensure that all was ready for the ceremony before the King and Queen arrived. The Court of the Fountain was almost deserted, the citizens being kept away while the final preparations were made. Faramir was rather surprised to see several kitchen staff hurrying hither and thither as no one had told him of any plans to serve refreshments. Then he gasped at the strange sight that met his eyes. A dove in a cage was hung on the branches of the White Tree; the frightened bird fluttered and squawked, beating its wings against the bars. Beneath the cage, twelve tubs of lard were arranged in a circle.

"What is the meaning of this?" the Steward demanded.

"I don't know, my lord," said a scared looking kitchen maid. "We are just doing as we were told by the Master of Ceremonies."

"Fetch the Master of Ceremonies here!" the Steward ordered in a gentler tone.

A few moments later, the man arrived. He had been one of Denethor's attendants and Faramir suspected the man wished the old Steward still ruled Gondor. The Master bowed low. "You bow the knee only to the Lord Elessar," Faramir said sharply. "Stand up straight and tell me exactly what is the meaning of this outrageous display?"

"I followed the instructions I was given exactly, my lord," the Master replied. "Master Tarostar wrote them down at the meeting, I was told." He pulled a crumpled piece of parchment from within his robe and handed it to Faramir. "See, my lord, it says here,' Twelve portions of lard to be placed around Gondor's most scared symbol'. A dove was the best I could think of for the symbol, as they are timid creatures. It isn't my fault that our new lord has such eccentric ideas, coming from the North as he does!"

Faramir took the parchment and studied the barely intelligible scrawl. Healers were notorious for their bad handwriting and it seemed Tarostar was no exception. "I agree it is somewhat hard to read and maybe you have made an honest mistake," he said." However, you should have asked when the words appeared to make so little sense. It reads; 'Twelve powerful lords will stand in place around Gondor's most sacred symbol!' Now quickly, remove the lard and bring chairs for the lords!" He had to suppress a chuckle as some of the lords, especially Dervorin of Ringlo Vale, did somewhat resemble lard!

"What about the dove?" asked the Master of Ceremonies, "I could serve it for your supper, my lord, if it please you?"

"No thank you," said Faramir, snatching up the cage. "I will take care of the bird. Now go with haste and make all ready for the King."

When the King and Queen arrived a little later, there was no sign of the lard and the lords rose as one from their seats and bowed low. "People of Gondor," said the Faramir. "Let us rejoice and celebrate that our White Tree has now thrived here for a year .We are blessed by its blossoming and by the presence of our King and Queen amongst us!" He reached for the cage, which was now on a table beside him and opened it, releasing the dove. It flew thankfully from its prison and perched on the topmost branch of the White Tree.

Aragorn rose to his feet. He smiled first at his Queen and then at Faramir. "Indeed we are blessed!" he said. "A living White Tree, which was believed forever lost, has flourished here for a year now. I should like to thank Lord Faramir who has arranged this occasion so smoothly just as he did my coronation and my marriage to my beloved Queen."

Faramir bowed low. Little did they know!

A/N As I am prone to making mistakes, I decided to use some of my own typos as inspiration for this ficlet.
The story is set before Aragorn and Faramir become close friends.
Dervorin appears in "Web of Treason" as one of the chief conspirators together with Fosco of Lamedon, who resembles is as thin as Dervorin is stout.

This ficlet was written back in 2007 for a prompt and has languished forgotten on my computer since then.

A Tale of two Dragons by lindahoyland

A Tale of Two Dragons

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

"Master Eldarion cannot sleep," his nanny informed the King and Queen who were just about to retire to their own bedchamber.

"I will go to him," said Aragorn. "My duties have, alas, kept me from spending much time with him today."

"I shall retire to bed then," said the Queen.

Aragorn followed the nanny into Eldarion's nursery where he discovered the very wide-awake little boy sitting upright in bed clasping his toy dragon, Smaug.

"What is wrong, ion nín?" enquired Aragorn after telling the nanny to wait in the next room.

Eldarion regarded his toy mournfully. "I've been learning about dragons in my lessons today," the child said thoughtfully. "My tutor said that dragons were all nasty and cruel, and that Smaug liked eating people!"

"That was only the real Smaug," Aragorn explained. "Your Smaug is a very friendly dragon."

"Are there no real friendly dragons?" Eldarion persisted.

"I think not, ion nîn, for the great Fire Drakes were creatures of Sauron and therefore evil."

Eldarion looked as if he were about to cry. "Poor Smaug will be so lonely if there are no friendly dragons for him to play with in the whole of Middle-earth!"

"All toy dragons are friendly," Aragorn said soothingly. "I will see if I can find you another wooden one to play with Smaug."

"Smaug is real! He plays with me," Eldarion insisted.

Aragorn stifled a yawn. He had no desire to spend all night discussing whether Smaug was alive with his son, neither would he lie to the boy. The child had a vivid imagination and to him, his toy was as real as Nimrodel, his puppy. The King well remembered when he was a boy, and had believed that his wooden horse was alive and talked to him. "Well, ion nîn, we do not know about what manner of creatures dwell in Elvenhome far beyond the Sundering Seas. Maybe there are friendly dragons there," he suggested, hoping to placate the little boy.

"Tell me a story about them, ada!" Eldarion pleaded.

"It is late, and time you were asleep," Aragorn demurred.

"Please ada!"

"Very well, just a short one," Aragorn agreed. Since Eldarion's sister had been born, there had been times when the little boy needed extra love and attention from his parents. Aragorn preferred to tell his son stories about Middle-earth's great heroes, but tonight he would humour him with a fairy tale. "Once upon a time, far away in Elvenhome, there lived two dragons. One was as crimson as flame, while the other was as white as snow."

"What were their names?" demanded Eldarion.

"You guess!" said the King.

"Was the crimson one was called Andúril and the white one Snowfire?" suggested Eldarion.

"Those were indeed their names," smiled Aragorn, delighted that he would not have to think of any at this time of night. "Truth to tell, he found choosing names difficult at any time of day. As King, young mothers often asked him to honour their infants with his choice of name."

"The two dragons lived in caves far away from each other and they were both very lonely," Aragorn continued. "Andúril was a magic dragon who could cast all manner of spells."

"What sort of spells?"

"He could make beautiful fireworks like Gandalf could and he could make the flowers change colour, or even turn them into butterflies so that they would fly away!"

Eldarion laughed delightedly.

"Snowfire was a healer," Aragorn continued. "She knew the uses of every herb and her very breath could cure very wound."

"She sounds like you, ada," Eldarion snuggled against his father's broad shoulder.

"One day Andúril was showing off his magic tricks to a group of Elven children. How they marvelled at his arts! He made a splendid firework for them, which exploded in a shower of golden sparks .One young, Elf, though, a boy called Dirlin, moved to0 close to the firework and it burned his face and blinded him. He cried loudly for help."

"What did he do since you weren't there to make him better?" Eldarion enquired anxiously.

"You forget that far better healers than I, dwell in Elvenhome," said Aragorn with a rueful laugh. " Luckily for Dirlin, Snowfire happened to be flying nearby, hunting for healing herbs. When she heard Dirlin's cries for help, she flew at once to his aid and breathed on his burned face after chewing some athelas. At once he was healed and able to play with his friends again."

"I'm glad." Eldarion started to sound sleepy and snuggled more closely against his father.

"The Elven children quickly ran off home as they knew their parents would be angry if they stayed out too late. The two dragons were left alone." Aragorn took a deep breath. He was certain this part of the story would swiftly send his young son to sleep. "Andúril thought Snowfire the most beautiful dragon he had ever seen, while Snowfire thought Andúril the most handsome! They fell in love, and the very next day they were married. They had many children and lived happily ever afterwards and were never again lonely."

Aragorn's voice dropped to a whisper. He looked fondly at Eldarion who was now asleep in his arms. The King lingered a while, lovingly studying every feature of his young son's face. Sometimes after so many years of waiting, he could hardly believe that he truly had gained all he had dreamed of at last. He had been just as lonely as the dragons he had imagined for Eldarion.

Aragorn gently lowered Eldarion down upon the bed and tucked the covers around him. Planting a kiss lightly upon the boy's brow, he tiptoed from the room and went to join Arwen and his baby daughter. Sometimes fairy stories did come true.

A/n, This is a story I wrote way back in 2008 for a prompt on the AA list. It was inspired by a dragon breeding game that was popular online at the time. Eldarion's dreams come true in "Carefully Taught".

Fit for a Queen by lindahoyland

Fit for a Queen

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

"Where's Naneth and Ada?" Eldarion demanded of his nanny when he failed to see either of his parents one morning.

"Your mother is not feeling very well and your father is taking care of her," the nurse explained. "You shall see them later. Now eat your breakfast, Master Eldarion."

Eldarion spooned his porridge thoughtfully. His naneth had not been well yesterday morning either, though she had played with him later that day. He felt scared. Why had ada not made her better by now? Perhaps he could do something to help? He remembered his nursery maid going to visit her mother when she was ill. She had taken her a warm shawl, a cake, and some flowers. When she came back she had told Eldarion her mother was much better.

Eldarion considered this information carefully, his brows furrowed with concentration. He didn't know where he could find a shawl and had no idea how to bake a cake. That left flowers. He thought them rather boring, but his naneth loved them, like most ladies did. Maybe he could find some for her to make her better?

"Good boy, Master Eldarion, you have eaten all your porridge. Would you like some honey on toast now?" asked the nanny.

"Yes, please." Eldarion tucked in and quickly forgot about flowers.

After breakfast, Eldarion's nurse took him outside to play. She was soon engrossed in conversation with a kitchen maid who had come outside to pick some herbs. The little boy was left to his own devices. He felt bored and lonely. Sometimes the Guards' children came to play with him, but he longed for a playmate that was there every day. One of the Guard's sons had a puppy. He would love a puppy to play with! His Naneth said he was too young though to look after one properly.

Eldarion remembered that he wanted some flowers for his naneth and decided to go in search of some. He was about to pick some daises for her; the pretty pink tipped ones, when he espied a bed of white and yellow flowers. Eldarion's face lit up. These were special Elven flowers. His naneth had told him that they had come from where grandfather and grandmother used to live. Surely, these would cheer naneth up and make her better? Swiftly, Eldarion gathered as many of the flowers as he could. He then heard his nurse calling and ran back to her.

"Come inside now, Master Eldarion," said the nurse. "I expect the King and Queen will be waiting for you now."

Eldarion was pleased to discover that his mother was now up and in her solar with his father. She was sitting in the far corner engrossed in embroidering a shirt. He was about to run to his naneth with the flowers when he realised that his father had a visitor. The little boy recognised the head gardener, a burly fellow with a bushy black beard whom he always found rather scary. The gardener was obviously in a very bad mood.

"Some wicked thief has stolen your lady's elanor and niphredil flowers, my lord!" the gardener cried.

"This is an outrage," Aragorn replied. "Have the guards search for the culprit and arrest him! How dare any man touch my Queen's favourite blossoms."

The gardener bowed low and stormed off.

Eldarion stood rooted to the spot in terror. The flowers spilled from his hands.

"Eldarion!" exclaimed Aragorn. "Whatever are you doing with your naneth's flowers? You are a naughty boy!"

The child burst into tears." I'm sorry," he sobbed. "I wanted to bring her flowers to make you better!"

Arwen threw down her sewing. She hastened towards her son and drew him into her arms. "That was a kind thought," she said, "though you must not pick flowers, except buttercups and daisies in future without asking. I am not ill, ion nîn. Instead. I have some very special news to tell you. You will have a new playmate soon."

Eldarion beamed happily and jumped up and down with excitement. "You mean I can have a puppy?"

"Maybe one day, but this new playmate will be a baby brother or sister."

Eldarion felt disappointed. "Babies are dull and cry all day," he said, pouting.

"You brother or sister will grow up, though, then you will have fun playing together."

"I hope it's a brother then, girls are silly. Puppies are still more fun!"

"I would have loved a brother or sister," said Aragorn wistfully. "All my playmates were much older than I when I was a boy. I would happily have even made daisy chains to please a little sister."

"Truly, Ada?"

"Yes, truly. Being and older brother is a very important responsibility, ion nîn. If you try very hard to be a good big brother to the new baby, you shall have a puppy to play with or maybe a kitten."

Eldarion beamed. At last, he would have a playmate of his own.

A/n. This is a revised version of a story of a story I wrote back in 2009. I also incorporated material from a more recent drabble.

When All other Lights go Out by lindahoyland

A Light in Dark Places

“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
r13; J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

 

 

B2MeM Challenge: Friendship

"It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,

Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt.

It lies behind stars and under hills,

And empty holes it fills.

It comes first and follows after,

Ends life, kills laughter."

Format: Ficlet

Genre: friendship, angst, h/c

Rating: PG

Warnings: none

Characters: Aragorn, Faramir, Legolas, Gimli

Pairings: none

Summary: A hunting trip goes awry.

With thanks to Raksha

Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.

Dedicated to Cairistiona and Ellynn Ithilwen on the occasion of their birthdays.



“Fossils are fascinating,” said Aragorn. “I love the shape of these ammonites. It amazes me to think they existed so long before Men. I wonder if I could remove one without breaking it to take to show to Eldarion.” He took out his pocket- knife and started chipping at the rock face.

“Eldarion would marvel at so ancient a creature, I am certain. I will just tell the others we will catch up with them in a few moments,” said Faramir. The King and Steward were enjoying a short respite from their duties on a hunting trip. Gimli was in Ithilien visiting Legolas and the King and Steward had invited the Elf and the Dwarf to join them. There had been little hunting but a great deal of exploring the countryside and enjoying one another’s companionship. Aragorn’s keen eyes had espied the ammonites at the mouth of a cave in the rock face and the two friends had lingered behind to examine them.

“I do not think they will hear you calling,” said Aragorn and grinned. Above him on the hillside, the Elf and Dwarf were engaged in a yodelling contest. Their calls echoed around the rocky pass. “I wish they had never heard those goatherds from Khand giving a demonstration of their yodelling skills. Now each is determined to outdo the other in demonstrating how well they have mastered the art!”

“They will scare every living thing for miles around if they continue to make such a noise,” said Faramir. “I will suggest that…” He was interrupted by a sudden ominous rumbling. “Look out!” he cried. He dashed inside the cave, pushing Aragorn inside with him. Seconds later, an avalanche came tumbling down, the rocks cascading where the two men had been standing and filling the cave mouth with boulders.

After a few moments, which seemed like hours, Aragorn called out. “Faramir!”

“I am here, mellon nîn.” Faramir crawled over the debris in the direction of Aragorn’s voice. It was pitch black in the cave now and the rocks across the entrance blocked out every glimmer of light.

“The yodelling must have triggered the avalanche,” said Faramir. “I hope Legolas and Gimli are not hurt.”

“I think they were higher up the mountain and out of harm’s way,” said Aragorn. "They must have dislodged a boulder as they climbed. The Elves told me that sound could not cause a rock fall, not even such a cacophony as they were making.”

“I suppose that makes sense,” Faramir replied. “Otherwise the goatherds would endanger their lives with their traditional calls.”

There was silence for a few moments.

“We are trapped here, said Aragorn." He struggled to disguise the slight tremor in his voice.


Faramir reached out in the darkness for Aragorn’s hand. It was shaking slightly. Faramir grasped it tightly. “Have no fear, mellon nîn,” he said. “They will rescue us soon.”

Aragorn gave a deep sigh. “You know me too well, ion nîn. I like dark or enclosed places not at all. In Moria , the Hobbits’ courage put me to shame!”

“You have known even worse dark places since,” said Faramir. “It is no shame to be afraid. The Hobbits speak only of how you comforted them. I am certain they never knew of your fear.”

Aragorn’s only reply was to press Faramir’s hand more tightly. He coughed as the dust irritated his lungs.

“You need a drink to soothe your throat. Do you have your water skin?” asked Faramir.

“I do, but I must save it in case we are trapped for a long time.”

“Have some of mine,” said Faramir, fumbling for his own water skin in the darkness.

“You will have need of it for yourself. We might be here for some time.”

Faramir found his water skin, uncorked it and held it out in the direction of Aragorn’s voice. “I insist,” he said firmly.

Aragorn drank, albeit sparingly.

“Let us try to find a way out instead of just sitting here,” said Faramir.

The two men got to their feet and pushed against the rocks until their hands bled, vainly trying to move them.

“It is hopeless,” said Aragorn. “We might only bring more rock down and we are using up all the air in here.” He flopped to the ground, dejection evident in his tone.

“Legolas and Gimli will rescue us soon,” said Faramir.

“While we, two of Gondor’s finest warriors sit like rats in a trap!” said Aragorn bitterly. “What if they too are trapped by the rock fall, or worse?”

“I feel certain they will find us,” said Faramir. “And should they fail, our ladies will send out search parties when we fail to return.”

“That could take hours or even days,” Aragorn said morosely.

Silence fell, broken only by the sound of Aragorn’s laboured breathing. Faramir draped a comforting arm round the King’s shoulders. “I know how we might pass the time,” he said after a long pause. “We could play Bilbo’s riddle game. Frodo told me about it. It should help the waiting to pass more pleasantly. I will begin.

It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt.
It lies behind stars and under hills,
And empty holes it fills.
It comes first and follows after,
Ends life, kills laughter.

“Darkness,” Aragorn replied grimly. “The darkness which now surrounds us and surrounded Bilbo too under the mountains. You should not be trapped here too, ion nîn, you were far away enough from the cave mouth when the rocks began to fall. Why did you not jump clear?”

“Because you, my friend were in danger,” said Faramir. “I would not leave you. You once rescued me from the darkness too and I do not forget.”

“A true friend is like a light that burns still when all other lights go out,” said Aragorn.

Faramir squeezed the King’s hand again. “It is your turn to ask a riddle,” he said after a few minutes’ silence.

“Very well,” said Aragorn. “Voiceless it cries….”

He was interrupted by cries from outside. “Aragorn, Faramir!”

“We are both here and unhurt,” Aragorn shouted in reply.

“We will soon have you out of there,” cried Gimli’s voice. “These stones are easy work for a stout Dwarf.”

“And easier work still for a strong Elf!” Legolas retorted. “Stay clear while we free you!”

Faramir and Aragorn moved back further into the cave. They could only listen to the sounds outside and wait patiently.

Then there was a crash as the largest of the rocks was moved aside. Sunlight flooded into the cave, banishing the darkness. Never had daylight seemed so fair as it did when the two friends stumbled forth from their prison. They gratefully expressed their thanks to their rescuers.

“Are you well,” Legolas asked anxiously as he studied the two dust covered figures. Aragorn had started to cough again and Faramir was sneezing.

“We will be well enough once we get away from here and the breeze blows the dust away,” said Aragorn.

“We can resume our yodelling contest on the way down the mountain,” said Gimli.

“I do have rather a headache from being inside the stuffy cave,” said Aragorn, exchanging a covert glance with Faramir.

“So do I,” said the Steward.

“No matter,” said Gimli. “I am certain I beat the Elf hands down!”

“No matter, I shall triumph next time,” said Legolas.

“I only hope we are out of earshot,” Aragorn whispered to Faramir, but he was smiling.

A/n. The riddles are taken directly from “The Hobbit” by Tolkien. This is a revised version of a story I wrote for BTME13.

Under the Shadow of this Red Rock by lindahoyland

 

Under the Shadow of this Red Rock - Linda Hoyland.

“And the dry stone no sound of water. Only

There is shadow under this red rock,

(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),

And I will show you something different from either

Your shadow at morning striding behind you

Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” – T.S. Eliot – The Wasteland.

With thanks to Raksha and Deandra.

Rating T

Tolkien owns any recognisable character in this story. Only the OC’s are mine. I make no money from writing this.

Summary – Aragorn burns in the heat of a cruel sun.

Stars! This place was hot. Aragorn wiped his brow wearily and made his way towards a booth offering exotic juices for sale. Rather to his surprise, the stall was manned by a pretty little girl with copper- coloured skin and brown eyes.

"A mug of juice, please," said Aragorn, offering a coin.

"We don't serve tarks here," said the little girl, turning away from him.

"My coin is good and I am thirsty." Aragorn's tone was pleading.

"Tarks should be sacrificed in the fire to the Lord of Gifts," said the child. "Go get water from the village pump if you want some!"

Aragorn trudged towards the direction in which she pointed. For a small village, the distance from one side to another seemed endless. His way was constantly blocked by children. There appeared to be dozens of them. Strange that such a small village should be home to so many little ones.

Aragorn reached the pump and pulled at the handle. It came away in his hand.

“You have broken our pump!” cried a small boy angrily.

“I am sorry. It was an accident,” Aragorn said.

“We will all die of thirst now!” screamed the children.

Aragorn knelt in the sand and tried to work out how the pump might fit back together. His head throbbed and he could not focus his eyes clearly. Maybe if he could but have a drink he might concentrate better. He trudged back towards the juice stall and held out coins for several times what the asking price was. “Please, let me have a drink!” he begged.

“Never!” said the little girl.

“I shall surely die of thirst!” Aragorn threw down his coins and reached out to grab a mug of the juice. Suddenly the stall collapsed, spilling the contents of all the mugs. The juice trickled away in the sand.

Aragorn could have wept. He snatched up one of the mugs but there was not a single drop of moisture left in it.

He knew he must get away from this place or he would die. Summoning his last vestiges of strength, he tried to reach the track that led away from this village. The children, though, had other ideas; they blocked his path, shrieking and jeering.

Then they started to swarm all over him and tear off his clothes. The blazing sun seared his bare flesh relentlessly. He tried to crawl away, but the children would not let him go. “Sacrifice him to the Lord of Gifts!” they cried.

He was bound to an altar and a fire was lit below him. It was growing ever hotter. A man in scarlet robes, a priest he supposed, was chanting, though the words made little sense.

Everything went black.

0000

Aragorn trudged despairingly through the desert. He must find the lost child, he must! He had given her mother his word that he would save her. How could she have vanished so completely in this featureless landscape?

His throat burned. He reached for his water skin to quench his thirst. It was empty. He must find an oasis soon or he would surely perish. First, though, he must find the child. If he were suffering in this heat, how much worse it must be for a little one.

Suddenly he spotted her a short distance ahead. He summoned his last ounce of strength to quicken his footsteps. He caught up with her and took hold of her hand.

“Help me!” she cried as she sank into the sand.

Frantically, he tried to pull her out, but she vanished from his sight. Aragorn crept into the shadow of a great red rock. He fell to his knees and wept. Everything began to fade into blackness until Aragorn perceived a faint glow. It grew brighter and hotter.

Aragorn realised he was on the edge of bottomless fiery pit. He tried to grasp at the rough footholds before the flames consumed him. Foul goblins assailed him and tore at his robe. He was falling, falling into the abyss.

Out of the darkness, he heard a voice calling his name and a wondrous fragrance filled the sulphurous air. A hand reached out. He grasped it.

000

Aragorn blinked and opened his eyes to meet the concerned gaze of his wife. “Thirsty!” he muttered.

She supported his head with one hand and with the other held a cup to his lips, allowing him to drink. He drunk his fill then tried to take stock of his surroundings. He was lying on a rough pallet in a poorly furnished room. He appeared to be wearing only his drawers, but he was decently covered by a fine linen sheet, which seemed out of place in these surroundings, as was the soft pillow on which his head lay. Arwen was kneeling on the floor at his bedside. Behind her stood two men, one of whom he recognised as Master Aedred, his personal physician from the Houses of Healing, the other wore the robes of a Haradrim Physician. A bowl of steaming water stood by the pallet and the sweet scent of athelas filled the air.

“What happened?” Aragorn whispered. “The children? So thirsty and hot!”

Arwen offered him more water and when he had drunk his fill, she wiped his face and neck with a cool, moist cloth. Only when she had finished these tasks did she speak.

“Don’t you remember, Estel?”

He shook his head.

“There was an outbreak of fever amongst the children of the Haradrim who dwell here in Minas Tirith. You came here to help them and laboured day and night until you collapsed while you were tending a little girl here in this hovel. Her mother sent for a healer who deemed it unwise to move you. Then Ambassador Tahir was told what had happened, He was most concerned and insisted on sending his personal healer to attend you. The man was well versed in the malady, but he could not rouse you. You have been here two days and nights lost in fever dreams. The healers tried to break the fever, but in vain. It was only when I came that I was able to rouse you with athelas."

“The little girl, what happened to her? I could not find her!” Aragorn muttered fretfully.

“She is recovering, as are the other children, thanks to you, o honoured King.” The healer from Harad spoke. “This fever is common amongst our little ones, but the cold and damp of your land meant it afflicted them especially badly.” He moved towards the pallet and began to examine Aragorn. “The fever is breaking, o honoured King. In but a few circles of the sun, you will be fully recovered.”

“Varda be praised!” exclaimed Arwen. She squeezed her husband’s hand.

“I think we should be able to move you back to the Citadel later today, my lord,” said Aedred, the Gondorian healer. “You should recover faster in your own bed and you are no longer contagious.”

“That would be good,” Aragorn murmured. “Is Eldarion safe? How fares the kingdom? Where is Faramir?”

“Eldarion is safe and well,” Arwen assured him. “Éowyn has taken him to Ithilien for a few days. Gondor is Faramir’s capable hands. He wanted to come to your bedside, but I thought the risk of contagion too great. You will see him soon now you are recovering and he can tell you everything you wish to know.”

“Your tidings gladden my heart.” Aragorn struggled to keep his eyes focussed upon her. “Ah, I am so weary. I feel as if I have been lost for days in a desert!”

“Fever dreams are exhausting, my lord,” said the healer. “Maybe in future, you will have more of a care for your own well- being, though I very much doubt it! You have caused us all a great deal of worry, not least your lady!”

Aragorn nodded. He knew Aedred scolded because he cared about him. The two were good friends who often worked alongside one another at the Houses.

“Now drink this,” Aedred said in a softer tone.

Aragorn recognised the bitter taste of willow bark. He swallowed obediently.

“Rest now, my love,” said Arwen, raising a cup of clear water to his lips. “Rest and recover. You are safe and I am beside you.” After he had drunk, she kissed him lightly on the brow.

Lulled by the sound of her voice and the scent of the athelas, Aragorn fell into a deep dreamless sleep. His beloved was beside him, he was healing, and he would soon be home.

A/n. Written for the Teitho “Sickness” challenge” where it was unplaced.

 

Wealth and Want by lindahoyland

Wealth and Want – Linda Hoyland

"Wealth and want equally harden the human heart." - Theodore Parker

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. – The Bible – Luke 6.38

Rating G

The named characters belong to Tolkien and his heirs. Only the OCs are mine.

With thanks to Deandra.

Written for the Teitho "Money" challenge where it was placed second.

Eldarion loved to visit the marketplace, especially when his father was able to take him. He liked going with his mother, too, but she spent too long looking at the stalls that sold threads and fabrics, both of which Eldarion considered extremely boring. Wandering around the interesting stalls with his father was almost as much fun as going out in the wilds and being a Ranger; almost, but not quite. Still, it was great fun to see all the strange and wonderful things that the merchants had on sale, and to watch all the comings and goings as folk from all over Gondor and beyond came to buy and sell.

Eldarion was especially fascinated today by a stall that sold intricate model ships. He had liked ships ever since Lord Imrahil had taken him, his mother and father, Uncle Faramir and Aunt Éowyn sailing around the bay at Dol Amroth a few weeks ago, just before summer had turned to autumn. The merchant had assured him that the model ships would float and Eldarion wanted one more than anything else in Middle-earth.

"How much are they?" the boy asked.

"Ten coins, young sir," said the merchant.

Eldarion took out his purse and counted. He only had seven. He showed them to the merchant.

"You do not have sufficient coin, young sir," the man said. "I am sorry."

"You will have sufficient next week after you receive your allowance, ion nîn," said Aragorn, coming forward.

"My lord!" cried the merchant. "I did not realise it was the young Prince. Of course, he can have the model ship free of charge. My sincere apologies."

"Thank you," said Aragorn. "I fear we must decline your generous offer. You have a living to earn. Maybe, though, you could put the ship aside until next week?"

"Ada!" groaned Eldarion.

"One day you will be King, ion nîn," said Aragorn. "It is important that you learn about money and how life is for most of your future subjects who have to save up to buy things they would like. When you are older, too, you will realise that waiting and saving up for something special, makes it all the more precious when you finally get it."

Eldarion still looked unconvinced. His father led him away from the stall and towards another that sold assorted comfits. He purchased a bag for them to share between them.

"Did you have to wait for things you wanted when you were a boy, Ada?" asked Eldarion.

"No," said Aragorn.

"Then it's not fair I have to wait!"

"I had every luxury I could desire as a boy," said Aragorn. "In fact, I was rather spoilt. It made it very hard for me when I went out into the wilds and became a Ranger. Everything in the Ranger villages was in short supply and often I lacked sufficient coin even to take refreshment at an inn on my travels. I am glad now, though, for those times of hardship, as I can understand how my people suffer and try to make things easier for them."

Eldarion thoughtfully chewed a sugarplum. "I think I understand," he said. "Can we come back, though, when I will have saved up enough to buy the ship?"

"I have a free afternoon next week," said Aragorn. "We can return then to the market. Now we should be returning home. I promised Naneth we would not be late."

As the two left the marketplace, they passed an old man wearing shabby worn clothes who was arguing over the price of a loaf of bread at a baker's stall. Aragorn pressed several coins into his gnarled hand and walked swiftly away. Eldarion struggled to keep up on his shorter legs. "Please, Ada, do not go so fast!" the child pleaded. "Who was that old man?"

"I do not know," said Aragorn. "I intend to make enquiries. We should always try to help those less fortunate than ourselves, though."

"I don't understand," said Eldarion. "You gave more coins to that old man than I needed to buy the ship I wanted."

"You will have a good meal waiting for you when we get home," said Aragorn. "Then you will sit by a warm fire and play with your many toys before you fall asleep in a soft bed. I doubt that old man had any of those things."

"I don't always like what I have to eat," Eldarion grumbled. "And I think it would be fun to sleep outside more often than when you and Uncle Faramir take me camping!"

"You would soon appreciate how fortunate you were if you could not take the luxuries you enjoy for granted," said the King. "You have a great deal to learn, ion nîn."

Eldarion would have argued more, but seeing his father's serious expression, decided it was better to remain silent.

0000

The next few days passed with agonising slowness for Eldarion. It seemed that the day on which he received his allowance would never arrive. Then when it did and he finally had sufficient coins to buy the model ship, he still had to wait another two days before his father had a free afternoon to take him to the marketplace.

The little boy spent his every waking hour thinking about the model ship. His mother had promised to make it some special sails decorated with the White Tree and his father had promised to take him to sail it in a stream on the Pelennor. Eldarion constantly counted his coins and imagined the moment when he could hand them to the merchant.

At last, the great day arrived. Eldarion was so excited that he could hardly eat his noonday meal until his nanny sternly admonished him that if he did not eat, she would suggest that the King forbid the outing as it was bad for the health to go to the market on an empty stomach! Eldarion ate, hardly tasting the beautifully cooked food that the cook had prepared for him and scarcely noting that it was his favourite apple pudding for dessert.

Aragorn and Eldarion set out to the marketplace, accompanied by two guards who walked a few discreet paces behind. They had almost reached the stall where the model ship was displayed when one of the nobles, Lord Turgon appeared. He bowed low to the King. "May I have a word, please, my lord," he said. "Duties at home prevent me from attending the next meeting of the Council and I am concerned about how the new taxes on wool might affect my flocks."

"Very well." Aragorn looked somewhat irritated. "Could you not arrange a meeting in a more suitable place, though, Lord Turgon?"

"I had intended to, sire, but my wife's health means we must urgently leave the City."

Aragorn turned to Eldarion. "This might take some time, ion nîn. Why not go on ahead with one of the guards? I will join you as soon as I can."

Eldarion dragged his feet as the young guard led the way to the stall selling model ships. He badly wanted his ship but he wanted Ada to be there when he bought it. It would not be the same buying it with just a guard for company.

He stopped in front of a stall selling material, not the silly silks and linens that his mother liked to look at, but thick, warm cloth.

"Ada says Rangers' cloaks are made out of this stuff," Eldarion informed the guard, eager to show off his knowledge. He fingered the ten shiny coins in his purse as he spoke.

The young man smiled. "Soldiers cloaks are made of wool too. It is lovely and warm. We often use our cloaks to double as blankets."

Just then, a stick-thin young woman, wearing a threadbare shawl approached the stall. In her arms, she clutched a sickly looking baby, while a skinny boy of about Eldarion's age trailed at her side. "How much does enough fabric to make a cloak cost?" she asked the stallholder.

"Eleven coins, mistress," said the stallholder.

"Alas, I only have one," said the woman. "Do you have any damaged material I could have cheaper? My little ones and I are so cold."

The stallholder shook his head. "I sell only the best woollen cloth, mistress."

The young woman turned away sadly. Eldarion's fingers ran over the ten coins in his purse again. The lady and her children looked very cold, and hungry, too. He was wearing nice warm clothes and his nanny had promised him his favourite foods for supper. He called out to the woman, "Mistress, wait!" He thrust his shiny coins into the stallholder's hand and said. "Some warm material for the lady, please."

"Thank you, young master. May the Valar protect you!" The woman looked close to tears.

Eldarion hurried away, averting his eyes from the stall where the model ship was displayed. He almost bumped into his father who was striding towards him.

"I am sorry I kept you waiting, ion nîn," said Aragorn. "Are you ready to buy your ship?"

"I've changed my mind. Ada, I'd like to go home now." Eldarion sounded close to tears.

"Whatever is the matter, ion nîn?"

"Nothing, I just don't want the ship any more. You told me I had lots of things to play with."

Aragorn raised his eyebrows and was about to press the matter further when the young guard said something to him so quietly that Eldarion could not hear. The guard marched swiftly away at the King's bidding. Without another word, Aragorn took Eldarion's hand and led him home.

After supper, Eldarion's nanny helped him prepare for bed. Usually his mother or father, or both of them, would come to the nursery to tell him a bedtime story, but tonight they were late. Rather to his surprise, his nanny let him stay up and read his favourite book by lamplight.

Suddenly, his father appeared. The nanny curtsied and left the room.

"Why did you lie to me earlier, ion nîn?" Aragorn asked Eldarion gravely. "One day you will be King. A king must be a good man who does not tell lies. I know you still want the model ship."

"The lady looked so cold, Ada!" Eldarion blurted out. "How did you know?"

"The guard told me everything," said Aragorn. "Why did you not tell me about her? You should know I desire no one to be cold or hungry in my realm and I have passed laws to help the poor."

"I don't know," said Eldarion, staring at his feet. "You weren't there and I wanted to help. I was thinking about what you said about me having plenty of toys and lots to eat."

"I am proud of you for that, ion nîn," said Aragorn, kissing the boy affectionately. "You have a generous heart."

"I hope the lady and her children will be warm tonight," said Eldarion.

"Indeed they will," the King replied. "The guard discovered where she lived and I have ordered food, blankets, and firewood to be delivered to her lodging. Your mother will arrange for mending to be sent to her so she can earn a decent living for herself and her little ones."

"Why is she so poor?" asked Eldarion.

"Her husband was killed in an accident," Aragorn explained. "She came to Minas Tirith from the country hoping to find work, but was unable to do so."

"Her little boy can have some of my old clothes and toys," Eldarion offered.

"That is a generous offer. We will see what we can find tomorrow," said the King. "Now it is way past your bedtime." He looked up at the doorway where Arwen had appeared. "Naneth has come to tuck you in for the night."

When Eldarion was left alone and the lamps extinguished, all save one that burned very low, giving off a comforting glow in the darkness, he was both happy and sad. Happy that the poor lady would no longer be cold and hungry, but sad that we would never own the beautiful model ship.

000

"Wake up, Master Eldarion!"

Eldarion blinked as the bright sunlight streamed into his bedroom as his nanny pulled back the curtains. He looked across at the broad windowsill and could hardly believe his eyes for there stood the model ship of his dreams.

"Where did that come from?" he gasped.

"The King put it there last night after you fell asleep, Master Eldarion. He wanted you to have a surprise when you woke up. Now hurry up, you need to get up and eat your breakfast before your tutor comes."

Eldarion bounced out of bed, a huge smile on his face. Today, not even the prospect of lessons could dampen his spirits.

 
Curiosity killed the Cat by lindahoyland

Title: Curiosity killed the Cat

Rating: PG

Theme: Animal Friends

Elements: "The winter wind rattled the windows and the startled _ darted from behind the curtains."

Author's Notes: Inspired by a true story. Elbeth is recurrent OC of mine. She is Boromir's illegitimate daughter who has been adopted by Faramir and Éowyn.

Written for the LOTRGFIC Challenge.

With grateful thanks to Deandra.

Summary: Elbeth is worried when her cat goes missing.

Disclaimer: The familiar characters belong to Tolkien. The story is written for pleasure not profit.

"Curiosity killed the cat, satisfaction brought it back" – traditional proverb.

The winter wind rattled the windows and the startled cat darted from behind the curtains.

"Laurea!" cried Elbeth. "There's nothing to be scared of. It is only the wind."

"I expect he is upset by all the preparations for Pippin's arrival," said Faramir. "Cats greatly dislike any sort of upheaval. They are creatures of habit."

"Much like you, Uncle Faramir," said Elbeth.

The Steward laughed. "I have lived through so many turbulent times that I find daily routine enjoyable."

"Some routines are nice, but I do not enjoy my daily mathematics lessons," said Elbeth." A servant entered as she spoke and softly asked her uncle a question.

"Neither did I," said Faramir. "If you want to be a healer, though, you must be able to accurately calculate what herbs to give your patients. Now, I must go soon and see if the cook has ordered plenty of mushrooms. A visiting Hobbit is a disruption I warmly welcome."

"Does Master Pippin like cats?" asked Elbeth.

"I think so," said Faramir. "I am certain he will like Laurea. He is a very fine cat indeed."

"He's the best cat in Middle-earth," said Elbeth. "Where has he gone, now?"

"He dashed behind the couch," said Faramir.

Elbeth left the window and went to investigate. She searched every nook and cranny of the room, but there was no sign of the large ginger tom. "I can't find him," she said.

"He must have got out when the cook's boy came in," said Faramir. "He will not have gone far. I expect he is out catching mice now."

"He doesn't like going out when it's so windy," Elbeth protested.

"He has found a nice quiet corner to curl up in then," said Faramir. "He will re-emerge when he is hungry. You should be getting changed now to greet Uncle Aragorn and Master Pippin."

"Strider doesn't mind what I wear," Elbeth retorted with a scowl.

Faramir sighed. "He is our King and we should show respect to him and to Master Pippin. I wish you would call the King Uncle Aragorn as I told you too. Your gown is covered in cat hair!"

"The King said I could call him Strider when we first became friends," said Elbeth. "He said I could keep using that name."

Faramir sighed again. "Very well, but go and change into one of your smart gowns or Aunt Éowyn will be cross." He hurried off to speak to the cook.

Ooo

Several hours later the guests had arrived and enjoyed a hearty meal. Elbeth usually would have enjoyed being allowed to dine with her elders, but tonight she was restless.

"Stop fidgeting, Elbeth," Éowyn said sternly. "Whatever is the matter with you?"

"I haven't seen Laurea for hours, Aunt," Elbeth replied. "I'm worried about him.

"I was wondering where he was too," said Aragorn. "He usually comes to greet me."

"I've a fine cat at home in the Shire," said Pippin. "He is black and white and an excellent mouser."

"Laurea is a ginger tabby with a very long tail," said Elbeth. "Please may I leave the table to go and look for him? I have finished my meal."

Éowyn glanced around the dinner table; only Pippin was still eating, having accepted a third helping.

"Don't wait for me," said the Hobbit. "I just cannot resist this delicious pie."

"Very well," said Éowyn. "If you go outside, though, you must take a servant with you."

"I will go with her," said Aragorn. "I need to stretch my legs."

"Thank you, Strider," said Elbeth as she left the room with the King. "I'm really worried."

"He cannot have gone far," said Aragorn. "Shall we look in the courtyard and the stables? Maybe he is sheltering from the wind?"

Elbeth accepted Aragorn's arm as they went outside into wind. A servant went with them, carrying a lantern. There was no sign of life in the courtyard. Many pairs of gleaming green eyes greeted them in the stables, but they belonged to the stable cats, but no Laurea appeared in response to Elbeth's calls. Aragorn lingered a little while to calm the horses spooked by the wind while Elbeth paced impatiently.

They next searched the kitchens, but found only the kitchen cats in residence. Mice and rats were a constant threat to Emyn Arnen and Faramir and Éowyn kept a good many cats to control the problem. Elbeth was fond of them all, but no cat could compare to Laurea, who had been her constant companion since he was a kitten and slept beside her on her bed each night.

"Have you looked to see if he is in your bedchamber?" Aragorn asked.

"I looked earlier, but he wasn't there," said Elbeth. "He likes to sit by the fire, but the maid couldn't light a fire in my room today as the wind is so strong it kept blowing it out."

"Why not look again?" Aragorn suggested. "He might have crept in there while we were eating."

As they approached, Elbeth's chamber, they heard a faint plaintive mewing. Elbeth's face lit up. "That is Laurea!" she said. He is in my room." She quickened her footsteps, as did Aragorn. Much to their surprise, no ginger cat ran out of the door to greet them.

Elbeth looked under her bed, calling "Laurea!" as she did so then opened the cupboard and a large chest. There was no sign of her beloved cat, but the plaintive mewing continued.

"It is coming from the chimney!" Aragorn exclaimed. The King walked over to the fireplace and peered up the chimney.

"Oh no!" cried Elbeth. "Poor Laurea. He must be trying to hide because the wind have scared him." She called up the chimney. "Come on, Laurea, it is safe to come down now."

Laurea only mewed more pitifully.

"I think he is trapped," said Aragorn. "I will try to get him down." He pulled off the embroidered tunic he was wearing and threw it on to Elbeth's bed then climbed into the fireplace and stretched his arms up the chimney.

Elbeth watched anxiously while Laurea's mewing became more frantic. After a few moments, Aragorn emerged from the fireplace. His face was covered with soot and he was frowning. "He is too far up for me to reach," he said.

Elbeth looked as if she were about to burst into tears. "Poor Laurea will die up there," she said in an unsteady voice.

"That will not happen," said Aragorn. "We shall find a way to save him. Go and fetch your Uncle Faramir. I do not want to leave a trail of sooty footprints. I need a change of boots."

Elbeth hurried off and returned a few minutes later with Faramir, Éowyn, Arwen, and Pippin.

"The poor cat!" Arwen exclaimed.

"Please get him out somehow, Uncle Faramir," Elbeth begged.

"I promise we will, even if we have to knock down the chimney breast," said Faramir.

Éowyn sighed. "It will make a dreadful mess, but we cannot let the cat starve."

Pippin had remained silent. He sauntered over to the chimney and examined it closely. Then he spoke. "I can climb up and rescue the cat," he said.

"It is too dangerous," said Arwen.

"Not for a Hobbit, Lady Arwen, and much easier than knocking the wall down. Laurea gave another plaintive mew.

Éowyn went out in the corridor and called to a passing servant to fetch an old sheet and towels and spread them in front of the hearth. She then closed the bedroom door. Pippin, meanwhile, was peeling off the finery he had worn at dinner until he was dressed only in his shirt and drawers.

"Good luck, Uncle Pippin," said Elbeth as the Hobbit climbed into the fireplace.

"I will have your cat back in two shakes of a lamb's tail," said Pippin.

Everyone held their breath as the Hobbit ascended the chimney. Laurea's mewing became increasingly frenzied.

"Don't be scared, Laurea, Uncle Pippin is trying to help you," called Elbeth.

"I have him!" Pippin's voice was muffled.

They heard scuffling g sounds accompanied by a shower of soot and debris. Then Pippin stood in the hearth with a wriggling Laurea in his arms. Hobbit and cat were both as black as ink.

Oblivious of the mess, Elbeth rushed to clamp Laurea in her arms. "Thank you, Uncle Pippin, you are a hero!" she cried.

Pippin bowed to her and grinned. "The Tooks are always happy to help a maiden in distress and her cat."

Laurea wriggled free from Elbeth's embrace and leapt on to her bed, leaving a trail of sooty paw prints across the cover. Éowyn sighed resignedly and grabbed a towel to clean Laurea. She called to the servants to prepare baths for Aragorn, Pippin, and Elbeth. She rubbed the sooty cat until the white towel turned black.

Laurea wriggled free and sat down on the bed again. He regarded everyone with a superior stare and began to carefully wash himself.

"I wonder why he went up the chimney?" mused Arwen.

"He was scared of the wind, I expect," said Elbeth.

"Or maybe he was simply curious," said Aragorn. They do say "Curiosity killed the cat", but fortunately not this one."

Laurea began to purr.

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Old Strider by lindahoyland

 

Old Strider

 

B2MeM Challenge:
"But when Aragorn arose all that beheld him gazed in silence, for it seemed to them that he was revealed to them now for the first time. Tall he seemed and yet in the flower of manhood; and wisdom sat upon his brow, and strength and healing were in his hands, and a light was about him."
Format: Ficlet
Genre: General
Rating: G
Warnings: None
Characters: Frodo,Sam,Merry, Pippin, Aragorn
Pairings: none
Summary: The Hobbits discuss the events of a momentous day.

 

“Old Strider looked so different today somehow,” said Pippin. He picked up a cake from the plate on the table in front of him.

“He’s King Elessar now,” said Merry. “I don’t think you ought to call him old Strider.” He took one of cakes and nibbled it.

“Who's to know?” Pippin said dismissively. “Gandalf is visiting Faramir and Legolas and Gimli are exploring the City.”

“I doubt he would mind,” said Frodo. “He did look different, though.”

“Being King is bound to change him,” said Merry. “It is heavy burden of responsibility.”

“He looked sort of Elvish when he was crowned,” Sam said thoughtfully. “I thought-” He was interrupted by the entrance of the serving maid.

“Can I get you anything else, sirs?” she asked.

“Some more cakes and ale, please,” said Pippin.

“Pip,” Merry admonished. “That is your third glass already!”

“We do have a coronation to celebrate,” said Pippin. “It’s not something that happens everyday. How long has it been, Frodo?”

“Almost a thousand years, since Gondor last had a king,” Frodo replied. “That is certainly cause for rejoicing, but don’t forget you are on duty tomorrow, Pippin.”

“Very well, I ‘ll have some of the juice like we had for breakfast next, then.” Pippin sighed as the servant girl hurried away.

“Do you think that the King looked kind of of elvish, Mister Frodo,” said Sam returning to the earlier conversation.

“I did, but then he is of the line of Lúthien, who were some of the most special folk that ever lived,” Frodo explained. “Master Elrond is descended from Lady Lúthien too. He had a twin brother who was the ancestor of the line of Kings.”

“You know such a lot of history, Mister Frodo,” said Sam. “I reckon that explains why Mister Strider -King Elessar I mean, seems kind of elvish.”

“He’s an exceptional man, Sam,” said Frodo. “He will be a good king.”

“Remember when he told us the story of Lúthien at Weathertop?” said Sam. “Whoever would have guessed then that he was kin to her?”

“You still suspected he was a rogue,” said Merry.

“I did have rather a roguish look, didn’t I, Sam?” Aragorn had entered unnoticed. The four Hobbits leapt to their feet and bowed low.

“No, my friends,” Aragorn gestured for them to sit and selected a chair for himself. “There is no need to bow to me when we are alone."

“I’m sorry, Mister Strider, um your kingliness, I mean-” Sam spluttered.

“To my friends, I remain Strider, or Aragorn, whatever you wish to call me.” Aragorn smiled. “Now is there any ale here for a thirsty Ranger to refresh himself?”

Frodo hugged him. “It is good to see you, my friend. I feared you would not have time to visit us any more now that you are King.”

“I do not intend to be a prisoner of the Citadel,” said Aragorn. “Even though it did shock my guards that I wanted to take a walk tonight. Maybe you could send a mug of ale outside to them?”

“Of course,” said Frodo.”I’ll call the serving maid.”

“This is a lovely house you have found for us to lodge in,” said Merry.

“It belongs to Faramir,” Aragorn explained. “The Steward has properties throughout the City. I thought the Fellowship would like to remain together for a while.”

“We should go home soon, said Frodo. "I am concerned about the Shire."

“You are not fit for a long journey yet," said Aragorn. "Besides I would have your company a while longer. When you return home, I will travel part of the way with you."

"I'm glad we were able to see you crowned, Strider," said Pippin. "That was a marvel indeed."

"I hope there will be more marvels yet to come," said Aragorn.

"We were saying that you looked different when you were crowned today," said Pippin. "Sort of glowing almost!"

Aragorn laughed. “Perhaps was a trick of the light? I may be King but I am still the same old Strider."

Pippin grinned. "That is just what I was saying before you arrived!"

 

 

 

 


The Great Escape by lindahoyland

The Great Escape – by Linda Hoyland

Rated PG

These characters belong to Tolkien and his heirs. This story is written to entertain, not for financial profit.

Aragorn and Faramir's hunting trip is disrupted.

With thanks to Deandra.

Aragorn sipped his drink with appreciation. It was a good ale, or maybe it simply tasted better for being drunk in a country tavern. Opposite him, Faramir smiled as if sensing his thoughts. Both King and Steward cherished these rare opportunities to escape from the City, cast off their court finery and travel unrecognised amongst their people. Dressed in humble garb, the two were enjoying a brief hunting trip in Lossarnach. Catching their own supper and sleeping under the stars was nowadays a rare treat to be savoured like fine wine.

Aragorn and Faramir had arrived in the village just as a wedding was about to take place. The village headman had invited the strangers to join in the celebrations and witness the blacksmith marry the miller's daughter. After feasting and dancing, the happy couple had retired to the smithy where the smith had carried his bride over the threshold, before firmly closing the door. The women and children had then returned to their cottages while most of the menfolk had made their way to "The Ploughman's Rest" to prolong the feasting well into the night.

One man, who looked like a farmer, took out a set of pipes and struck up a merry tune. Soon everyone was singing. Aragorn and Faramir joined in. It was a popular song; the tale of a soldier who had wooed and won a farmer's pretty daughter.

"I used to sing this on winter nights with my men," Faramir murmured during a break in the singing, during which the innkeeper refilled everyone's tankards.

"It was a favourite of my men, too, when I was serving your grandsire," said Aragorn. He took a sip of his drink then joined in as the song resumed.

"Be you a minstrel?" asked a man at a nearby table when the song ended. "Thou sings well."

"I have been many things," said Aragorn.

"Give us a song!" said the man with the pipes. "I will play for thee. Know thee' The Soldier's Lament'?"

"Aye," said Aragorn. He began to sing the plaintive tune. He knew the words well from his days as Captain Thorongil when his men would sing around their camp fires. The song told of a soldier who despaired of ever being able to return home to his young bride. As he sang, he wandered round the room and he noticed a young man was also moving around, pausing at each table in turn. The man made Aragorn suspicious. The others, though, did not seem to notice anything. Maybe it was because they had drunk considerably more than the King.

His song ended, Aragorn took advantage of the hubbub while drinks were refilled to watch the man more closely. He was certain he saw the fellow dip his hand into the pocket of the man he had just walked past. Aragorn felt angry. These were honest farmers and labourers enjoying a wedding feast.

The man was now making his way towards where Aragorn and Faramir were sitting.

"Who is that?" Aragorn asked a man at the next table.

"That be Turgon, the Smith's apprentice, poor lad. Rumour has it he be sweet on the lass who wed today.."

Aragorn was about to get up , but the innkeeper had obviously spotted something was amiss too….

"Turgon, a word with thee," he cried.

Turgon looked startled and stumbled heavily against Aragorn. He righted himself and pointed at the King. "This fellow here has been picking pockets!" he announced.

The innkeeper looked taken aback. "But I saw thee going round the tables suspicious like, Turgon," he protested. "Search me," said Turgon. "Thee'll not find nothing."

The innkeeper rifled through Turgon's pockets while the Smith's apprentice grinned cheerfully. He seemed not to be concerned in the slightest. All the search yielded was a couple of small coins and several nails.

"Now be searching him!" Turgon demanded, pointing towards Aragorn.

The innkeeper hesitated.

"I let thee search me and I be one of your own. He be a stranger." Turgon now sounded belligerent.

"I be sorry," the innkeeper said apologetically to Aragorn, "but if thee don't be a-minding us, good sir."

"Very well," Aragorn consented. He was annoyed, but unperturbed. His pockets held only a handkerchief, which was a gift from Sam, a flint, a lodestone and a few small coins. To his horror, though, when the innkeeper rifled through his pockets, he brought forth a collection of worn purses, filled to varying degrees with coins. The innkeeper grabbed Aragorn's arm.

"That be my purse there!" cried one of the men sitting near the bar.

"And that be mine!" cried a man at a table by the window.

"Punish the thief!" cried Turgon.

Faramir leapt to his feet. "There is some mistake!" he cried. "Unhand my friend this instant!"

"That be his accomplice!" cried Turgon. "Seize him before he be running away!"

Two burly farmers grabbed hold of Faramir's arms.

"I did not take the purses," said Aragorn. "They have been planted on me."

"All thieves be saying that," said the innkeeper. "I be taking you to the head man"

"Put them in the pillory!" cried one of the men whose purse had been taken.

"Give them a good whipping!" cried Turgon.

Aragorn glanced towards Faramir, indicating that he should flee. It would surely be easier to explain everything and clear their names if they talked to the village elder. But he had no desire to risk them both being captured The mood in the tavern had turned ugly and although these country folk would be no match for seasoned warriors, Aragorn had no desire to harm them. They were rightly angry, albeit with the wrong men. "There is no need to restrain me," the King said calmly. "We should like to see your head man. He seems a just and reasonable fellow."

"Thee looks as if thee could run well with thy long legs," said the innkeeper doubtfully. "I be taking no chances."

"There is no need to restrain me!" Aragorn shouted. He stretched out a leg and kicked over a chair.

Faramir took advantage of the diversion to slip away.

One of the farmers noticed and cried out "After him!"

The men hesitated, trying to decide who should pursue Faramir. The Steward used his few moments' advantage to ride away into the night.

Aragorn allowed himself to be marched out of the inn and through the village. Luckily few folk were abroad to witness this humiliation.

The headman's dwelling was at the far end of the village and a little larger than the other homes. The innkeeper banged on the door, which was opened after a few minutes by the man who had earlier that day conducted the wedding ceremony. He looked irate and appeared to have got dressed in a hurry as his tunic was on back to front. He was of ripe years with grey hair, rather overweight and sported a bushy beard.

"I hope this is important!" he snapped. "My wife be unwell and we were a-resting."

"Beggin' your pardon, Master Tuor, but I be a- catching this fellow a-stealing my customers' purses. ",

"We are honest men and have stolen nothing," said Aragorn.

"All thieves be saying that," said Tuor. "Be bringing him in and put him in the cellar. I'll be a-dealing with him in the morning. Shame on thee after we welcomed thee and invited thee to the wedding."

Aragorn took a deep breath. He had no wish for a night in the cellar rather than under the stars, a rare treat to be savoured on a summer night. It was time to cast aside his disguise. His captors dragged him over Tuor's threshold into a stone- flagged hallway furnished with an oaken bench.

"I am no thief," he said. "I am the King."

"Where be your crown then?" asked Tuor scornfully.

Aragorn struggled to keep his temper. "It is locked safely in a casket in the citadel. It is too heavy to wear often. I have other tokens with me. This sword is Andúril, the sword- that-was- broken." He would have reached for the blade, but the innkeeper prevented him. He lifted up his hand. "This ring is the Ring of Barahir."

"One sword looks much like another to me, I be a farmer not a warrior" said Tuor. "Be taking his weapon and a- stowing it safely. As for the ring, surely a king would be having a ring adorned with some kingly beast, not serpents. No doubt thee stole it."

Ignoring Aragorn's protests, the innkeeper unbuckled Andúril and placed it in the far corner of the hallway.

"I am no common thief!" Aragorn protested. "The Smith's apprentice stole the purses and planted them on me."

"Turgon be one of our own and thee be nothing but a stranger and a vagabond," said Tuor.

"He said he be a travelling minstrel," explained the innkeeper. "That kind often be light fingered."

"I never claimed to be a minstrel, you assumed that because I sing well enough," said Aragorn. "Listen to me, man, I am your King!"

"I suppose he be saying his accomplice is the Lord Steward next," said Tuor.

"He is," said Aragorn.

Tuor burst out laughing but quickly sobered.

"It be a serious offence to be pretending to be the King and his Steward. What sort of fool be thinking up a story like that? If thee were the King thee would be dressed in fine clothes and have servants and guards with you. No King nor Steward would be a- coming alone to our village."

"I like to walk in disguise amongst my people," said Aragorn.

"That sort of thing be a- happening only in tales," said Tuor. "Well, whoever thee might be, thee deserve a day in the pillory then a good flogging. That will teach thee not to steal and slander our King's good name! We be upholding his laws here and protecting his honour."

"The King would care not what men said about him and condemns no man without a trial," said Aragorn.

"This be a small village, there be no magistrate here and I can't be a-sparing men to be taking you to the City." Tuor nodded to the innkeeper and the farmers. "Lock him in the cellar. My sick wife be needing me."

"I am a healer, maybe I could help her," said Aragorn.

"Thee will keep your filthy thieving hands off of her!" cried Tuor. "First thee be a minstrel, then the King, then a healer. Enough of thy lies! To the cellar with thee!"

The innkeeper and the two farmers grabbed Aragorn and marched him across through the kitchen and into a cellar at the back. The King was sorely tempted to overpower them and flee, but he reminded himself again that these were his subjects and he must protect rather than harm them. They were strong country fellows and it would be impossible to overpower them without using considerable force. He knew he must think of some other means of escape. He decided to try using his natural authority. "I tell you, I am your King and no thief. Release me at once!" he cried in his most commanding tone. "You can send to the City for the Captain of the Guard to identify me."

"Maybe we should do as he says?" The innkeeper sounded uneasy. The farmers murmured their assent.

"Nonsense!" snapped Tuor. "These rogues be saying anything to escape their just desserts. Lock him in the cellar."

Somewhat hesitantly, the innkeeper and the farmers pushed Aragorn down some steps and inside the cellar. "I be sorry," the innkeeper muttered before he shut the door.

Aragorn heard the key turning in the lock and the sound of footsteps retreating along the passage. He sighed deeply and tried to take stock of his surroundings. It was pitch dark, so he had to feel his way around his makeshift prison. There were barrels around the walls, which suggested it was usually a wine store. A heap of straw in one corner and an old bucket in the far corner made the room into what Aragorn suspected was the village prison.

He sat down on the straw and glumly considered his predicament. It would almost be amusing, were it not so humiliating, the King of Gondor and Arnor imprisoned by a handful of his loyal subjects. At least Faramir had escaped. He would be riding through the night to fetch help. Aragorn groaned at the prospect of being freed by his guards. The indignity of it all! And the worst thing of all, he would lose what little freedom to roam that he still had as King. He knew that kings were not supposed wander the wilds incognito, but he had been a Ranger for too long to completely abandon that way of life whatever his Council thought. Arwen, somewhat surprisingly, encouraged his rare hunting trips. She understood that he feared he would lose his wits if forced to remain cooped up in the Citadel. She preferred a happy husband to a grumpy one. He suspected too that she enjoyed using her considerable gifts to rule in his absence.

A King needed to move freely amongst his people and learn how his kingdom was truly faring and not merely what his advisers wanted him to know. Aragorn groaned again at the prospect of his future freedom being restricted to a ride across the Pelennor accompanied by his guards, or a walk through the market place with everyone bowing and scraping to him. It was intolerable. He must escape, but how?

Mistress Tasariel , a respected healer, and her folk lived in a neighbouring village who knew him and would vouch for his good character, though only Tasariel knew his true identity. He would have to break free when they took him out in the morning. He had no intention of submitting to either the pillory or a flogging. Hopefully, he would meet up on the road with Faramir and the guards his Steward would bring. Poor Arwen, she would be so worried when she learned her husband had been arrested.

Aragorn got to his feet and restlessly paced the cellar. The air was starting to feel oppressive. He hated above all else to be confined and he admonished himself sternly not to let his fears overcome him. He could feel fresh air through a grille in the wall and knew he would not suffocate.

He tensed as he heard a sound. A chink of light appeared as the door slowly opened. It seemed that Tuor had returned to check on his prisoner. Aragorn braced himself. Now would be a perfect opportunity to flee under cover of darkness.

"Aragorn?"

The familiar voice whispering held him rooted to the spot. His Steward was standing in the doorway with a lantern in his hand.

"Faramir? I thought you would be half way to the City by now."

"I would not leave you here alone. Come, we must hurry! I have left the front door ajar." He handed Aragorn his sword. "Here is Andúril. I found it in the passageway."

Aragorn needed no second bidding and hastened up the cellar steps with his Steward. The house was dark and silent until a sudden gust of wind blew the front door shut with a crash.

"Who be there?" Tuor appeared, clad in his nightshirt and clutching a candle. "Help, thieves, murder!" he yelled at the top of his voice.

Aragorn placed his hand on Andúril's hilt. "Stay there!" he ordered.

"I'll not be letting a thieving good- for- nothing get away with it!" Tuor retorted, descending the stairs determinedly. "I have to be upholding of the King's laws."

"Let us leave. We are armed," Aragorn said sternly. He moved to stand beside the open doorway to the living room. He nodded to Faramir.

As Tuor approached them, the two men gently, but firmly pushed him into the living room. "Let me go, thou ruffians!" he cried.

"I am sorry," said Aragorn, leaning against the door to stop Tuor escaping. "You give me no choice, though. I will see that you are freed soon."

"There is coin on your kitchen table to pay for the damage I caused by breaking into your home," said Faramir.

"Thou can't be keeping me here. There be no lock on the door! I be getting every man in this village to be hunting thee down in the name of the King!"

Faramir was already dragging the oak bench in front of the door.

The two men raced out of the front door to the sound of Tuor's enraged shouts.

"The horses are just around the corner," said Faramir. "Where do we ride for, home or deeper into the countryside?"

"Deeper into the countryside," said Aragorn. "We are not expected back for a few days, so let us make the most of our freedom. I should like to visit Mistress Tasariel and her folk. But first, we must rouse the innkeeper."

The two set off at a canter down the moonlit village street, stopping only when they came to the inn. "Hey there!" cried Aragorn in a loud voice.

After a few minutes, the innkeeper's head appeared at the window. "Thee again!" he cried.

"Your friend, Master Tuor needs your help," said Aragorn. "Tell him that Elessar Telcontar sent you!"

Before the innkeeper could reply, King and Steward had urged their horses to a gallop, and quickly disappeared from sight. They rode onwards until they reached the forest, where they stopped to rest their horses.

"We will make camp here for the night," said Aragorn. "We have come far enough to evade pursuit."

"Never did I think I'd live to see the day you had to flee from your own justice," said Faramir. He dismounted from his horse and tethered him to a tree.

"Neither did I. That rogue, Turgon, must not be allowed to get away with robbing his fellow villagers, though." Aragorn likewise dismounted.

"I agree, but what do you propose to do?" Faramir began to gather wood for a fire.

"I will send a small troop of guards to the village with some of them in disguise as rich travellers. I surmise Turgon will try to rob them when they dine at the inn. The guards in uniform will then arrest him. I believe we should send officials around the villages more often. I have little liking for punishments without a proper trial. Tonight has taught me that I have not paid enough attention to justice in country areas."

"It seems you can never escape your burdens, even on a hunting trip," said Faramir.

"I am King," said Aragorn. "With the crown, goes the burden."

A little later, the two men sat beside their campfire and prepared for the night.

"I have not yet thanked you," said Aragorn.

"For what, mellon nîn?"

"For helping me escape."

"I could not ride away leaving you captive."

Aragorn squeezed Faramir's shoulder then lay back and studied the stars twinkling through the forest canopy. Their beauty against the midnight sky never failed to soothe his spirits. He took a deep breath and rejoiced in the sweet pine-scented air. It was the scent of freedom. Soon his eyelids grew heavy and he fell into a dreamless untroubled sleep.

A/n. Written for the Teitho contest – Escape- where it was placed 3rd.

Tales after Dinner by lindahoyland

B2MeM Challenge; Storytelling, original character, canon character. A canon character tells a story about an original character.
Format: Short story
Genre: Friendship
Rating: PG
Warnings: none
Characters: Aragorn, Faramir, OMCS
Pairings: Aragorn/Arwen, OMC/OFC
Summary: Aragorn reminisces about his first visit to Harad. 
The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been nor will be made from this story.
A/n; Fadil’s time with Aragorn is to
ld from the merchant’s point of view in “A Gift of Tongues” and his adventures in the desert are told in “Desert Skies”.

 

“I thank you, honoured friends,” said Tahir, as he finished his meal and licked his lips appreciatively. “You honour me beyond measure by inviting me to your table and serving me with such delicacies. My fair blossom will be most sad that she had to miss such delight.”

“The cook was happy to prepare your food in the way you like it,” said Arwen. “We keep a supply of your favourite spices for when you visit us. You must come again and bring Adiva when your little one is recovered. Éowyn should be able to join us as she is in the City next week too. ”

“Few would be as kind to a former enemy as you are, esteemed friends,” said the Ambassador.

Arwen rose to leave the table and the men followed her into the living room where Aragorn, Arwen, and Faramir settled themselves on comfortable chairs and Tahir reclined on cushions that had been placed there for him.

A servant served drinks. When they had departed, Aragorn spoke. “Once I believed, as some sadly still do, that all the Men of Harad were cruel and violent and very different to the Men of the West. It was not until I met Fadil that my opinion changed.”

“Who was Fadil?” asked Faramir.

“You have heard me speak of him before, melon nîn,” said Aragorn. “He was the merchant whom I served for a while. He taught me to speak the Tongue of Harad.”

“Ah yes, I recall you mentioning a merchant,” said Faramir.

“You were a servant to a merchant, esteemed Lord King?” Tahir sounded horrified.

Aragorn laughed. “I have been many things in my life. I found my time with Fadil most profitable. It is a long story.”

Faramir glanced at the Ambassador and noted the eager gleam in the eyes of the Man of Harad. Tahir was far too well mannered, though, to demand a story, so he said, “I should like to hear it, if you would share it with us.”

“Gladly,” said Aragorn. He took a sip of his drink and closed his eyes as he remembered. “It was long ago. I had been serving in Gondor under the guise of Captain Thorongil, but it was time for me to leave there. I felt somewhat at a loss. I knew I should return north and take up my duties as Chieftain again, but I felt I had not learned all that I could in the South. I had fought against the Haradrim and I desired to know more about them. They were after all, Men ,not Orcs and I wondered if they all truly venerated Sauron or were they simply in thrall to him.”

“By no means, esteemed friend,” said Tahir. “Many of us never bowed the knee to the false Lord of Gifts, even if it cost our lives.”

“I had much to learn,” said Aragorn. “One day, I was in a tavern in Umbar wondering how I might travel to Harad without arousing suspicion, when I heard a dreadful commotion outside. I hastened to see what had happened and found a young man writhing in agony on the ground. From the angle of his leg, I could see that it was broken. He had been kicked by a camel. To my dismay, everyone seemed more concerned about the camels than the injured man. I realised he must be a slave. His master seemed more angry with him than concerned. I tried to offer my help. At least his master spoke the common tongue. A soldier drew a dagger as if to despatch the poor fellow and the slave’s owner looked about to agree. It was all I could do not to draw my sword to defend the injured boy, but I was heavily outnumbered and surrounded by angry Haradrim. My glare must have impressed the slave owner, though, as he agreed to let me tend the lad.”

Faramir laughed. “There are few who can withstand your gaze!”

“Only my lady, I believe,” said Aragorn, patting Arwen’s arm affectionately.

Arwen laughed. “Your glare pales in comparison to that of my beloved Grandmother!” she said. “She taught me to flinch from the gaze of neither Man nor Elf.”

Aragorn stretched out his long legs and resumed his story. “I soon realised there was more to Fadil, as he told me his name was, than I first thought,” he said. “Once he had made up his mind to let me tend his slave, he hired a room at the tavern and assisted me while I set the broken leg, though I could see he had little stomach for the task. When I examined the boy, whose name was Kedar, I found so marks of ill treatment on him and he looked to be properly fed. I cannot condone slavery, but it seemed that Fadil cared for Kedar in his own fashion and Kedar cared for him. Fadil paid for a room at the inn until he came that way again to collect his slave, though he grumbled about the expense. He was concerned about the prospect of travelling alone through the desert. It was then that I seized my chance and asked to go with him as his servant if he would teach me the Tongue of Harad. It was not easy to convince him as he had no love for tarks.”

“Foolish man not to realise the honour you were granting him!” exclaimed Faramir.

“He agreed in the end to take me in exchange for having tended Kedar,” said Aragorn. “He first insisted that I change my clothes for those worn by his people.”

“We consider the clothes that Men of the West wear indecent,” said Tahir. He looked uncomfortable. “My apologies, honoured friends, I should not have spoken of such matters.”

“I never knew that,” said Faramir. “Why is that, my friend?”

“We believe all garments must cover the limbs and the form of the body,” Tahir explained. “Your ladies follow our custom of decency, but not your men. My people believe only undergarments should cling to the limbs.”

“I had to learn to become accustomed to wearing robes over close-fitting undergarments,” said Aragorn. “We set out into the desert a few days later and I soon learnt my new duties of caring for camels.”

“Not an easy task, esteemed friend,” said Tahir.

“Indeed not,” said Aragorn, “It felt simple, though compared with learning your language.”

“Very few Men of the West ever master it,” said Tahir. “We find it easier to learn your Common Speech than to teach others our tongue.”

“Fadil was a hard taskmaster, but a fair one,” said Aragorn. “By the time we reached Harad, I was proficient enough in the language and customs so as not to stand out. The merchant said I could stay with him as his servant. I had told him that I sought to make my fortune to win a lady who had captured my heart.” He looked fondly at Arwen as he spoke. “Fadil thought all I needed to do was earn sufficient coin to buy a herd of camels to offer to your father as bride gift!”

Arwen and Faramir both burst out laughing.

“Whatever would my father have done with a herd of camels!” Arwen exclaimed.

“Fadil was a good man in his own fashion,” said Aragorn. “Not that he liked to be seen to do good. Those were harsh times when to show kindness was to disobey Sauron’s edicts. Fadil was devoted to his three wives and twenty children he never ill- treated his slaves or those whom he employed. He was harsh but fair and honourable. I learned a great deal from him, though servitude did not come easily to me. I especially disliked having to scrub him in the hamam!”

“I can well believe that, esteemed friend,” said Tahir. “A most demeaning task for a great lord such as you.”

“It was hot as Orodruin,” Aragorn replied. “I, naturally insisted on keeping on my robe for decency. He would spend half the day bathing.”

“Such is our custom,” said Tahir. “If a man can afford his own baths, he makes full use of them.”

“Did Fadil revere the Dark Lord, though?” Arwen asked.

“I think not,” said Aragorn. “Such matters were never spoken of aloud, but never did I see him attend any of the sacrifices when prisoners of war and those who disagreed with Sauron’s rule were given to the fire. I would sometimes come across him looking up into the night sky, but he always looked down quickly if he realised he was being observed.”

I believe he venerated the Lord and Lady of the Moon in secret,” said Tahir. “I wonder if he were of the merchant line of my tribe?”

“I often wonder what became of Fadil and his family,” said Aragorn. “I worked for him for several months and then took my leave and told him I desired to travel further to learn about the desert folk. He paid me generously for my services and even insisted I take a camel, which I had to sell before leaving Harad.” He took a draught from his glass and looked thoughtful. “Fadil will be long dead now, but I owe him a good deal for all he taught me. He was taking a risk in employing one who could have been a foreign spy, which in a way I was. He believed I was native to Umbar. I hope his family have prospered.”

“I will try to find out,” said Tahir. He rose to his feet. “I must take my leave now, esteemed friends, my fair blossom awaits me.”

Faramir rose too. "I leave early in the morning for Ithilien," he said."So I must bid you goodnight too."

“You must dine with us again soon, Tahir,” said Aragorn. “We welcome your company and your friendship. Fadil was my first friend from your land and I am glad he was not the last.”

 
Love's Labour by lindahoyland

Love’s Labour.

With grateful thanks to Raksha for plot assistance and Deandra for editing.

Rating PG

The characters belong to Tolkien and his heirs. This story was written for pleasure not profit.

A/n The bathing song is quoted directly from “The Lord of the Rings.” It is slightly altered.

This story was written for the Teitho “Waiting” Challenge where it was placed second.

“Ada, come help me make a daisy chain!”

“Of course, dear one.”

Aragorn watched his Steward settle himself on the grass beside his small daughter and carefully begin to link the daisestogether. Beside him, Éowyn sat on a blanket playing with little Elboron. Aragorn felt a sudden pang of envy towards his Steward. Faramir already had two fair children while he had only one. Eldarion was six already and, although Aragorn and Arwen had hoped for a large family, there was no sign of a brother or sister for their son. The King looked away as little Elestelle started to adorn her father's dark hair with daisies. He loved Eldarion more than life itself, but oh to have a little girl to cherish, as fair and loving as her mother!

Aragorn berated himself sternly. It ill became him to envy his Steward and he was fortunate beyond measure to have Eldarion. He had sometimes despaired that he would ever know the joys of marriage and fatherhood. Then, as there had been so few unions between Man and Elf, he had wondered too if it might be difficult for he and Arwen to have children. It was just that he yearned for another babe to hold in his arms.

Elestelle scampered over to him. “Can you make daisy chains, Uncle Aragorn?”

Aragorn smiled at her. “I used to long ago, but I believe I have forgotten how.”

“Never mind,” said Elestelle, “I will show you.” Placing her small hand in his, she led him to where her father was sitting festooned in daisies.

0000

Hand in hand, Aragorn and Arwen approached the clearing. The woodland floor was carpeted with pink campions and daisies, illuminated by shafts of sunlight shining through the trees. A thrush sang sweetly in the treetops. The air was scented with pine carried in the fresh breeze that blew from the mountains.

Aragorn, though, was blind to the beauty around him. He was preoccupied with concern about his wife. Arwen had not been at all herself recently. She ate little, was always tired and every small thing upset her. She was veiling her thoughts from her husband of late and brushed aside all enquiries as to what ailed her. Aragorn's heart was filled with dread. Did Arwen regret the choice she had made to forsake her kindred and immortal life to marry him? What if she were seized with sea longing? What if his beloved wife was doomed to pine and fade? He has asked Faramir and Éowyn if they might spend a few days in the countryside at their home, in the hope that it would raise Arwen's spirits. However, she remained preoccupied and withdrawn.

Arwen gripped his hand more tightly and smiled at him. “Estel, I have something I must tell you.”

Aragon's heart lurched. “What ails you, vanimelda?”

Arwen's smile grew wider. “Why nothing, beloved, I have never felt better. I am with child.”

“You are certain?” Aragorn felt foolish even as the words left his lips.

“I am. I waited to tell you until I was sure. I did not want you to be disappointed if my suspicions were wrong.”

“Beloved!” Aragorn drew her to him in a close embrace. His joy was beyond words. Arwen was neither ill nor unhappy. They were going to have another child. Eldarion would have a brother or sister. Unlike his father, he would not grow up without a playmate.

Overhead, a lark burst into an ecstatic song. Aragorn could no longer contain the joy within him. He burst into song. Arwen joined in the melody. Aragorn wondered if even the Valar had felt such joy when Arda was sung into being.

000

“It is time, my love.”

Aragorn awoke with a start. “You mean?”

“The baby is coming. I have sent my maid to fetch Éowyn and Dames Ioreth and Ivorwen from the Houses of Healing.”

“So soon? Alas that your brothers have not arrived yet. And Legolas is still in Ithilien. Shall I send a message?”

Arwen shook her head. “I would rather they arrive when the babe is in my arms. What use does it serve for them waiting outside my chamber and fretting?” She bit her lip as a contraction seized her. “Now help me to the birthing chamber, beloved.”

0000

“I do not like to leave you, vanimelda.”

“I am in good hands, Estel.”

“These are women's matters, a man would only get in the way,” Éowyn said sternly. “Why not ask Faramir to go riding with you?”

“I want to be nearby for the birth in case I am needed.”

“You will be,” said Éowyn. “The contractions are not close together yet. It will be several hours at least before the baby is born.”

Arwen smiled at him reassuringly. “Éowyn 's words are wise. It is better that you should go riding than wear a hole in the carpet pacing all day.”

“Your bath is ready, my lady!” called a maid.

“I will see you later, my love,” said Arwen. She kissed her husband tenderly on the brow then turned and went into the birthing chamber, Éowyn firmly closed the door.

Aragorn stared at the closed door for a few moments then went in search of his Steward.

“How can women be so calm at such a time?” the King mused.

“I know not,” said Faramir. “Maybe Yavanna sends her blessings to soothe our ladies.”

“Éowyn suggested that we should go riding, but I do not know if I should leave the Citadel,” said Aragorn.

“A ride would help pass the time,” said Faramir.

Aragorn thought for a few moments then shook his head. “No,” he said. “I may know very little about childbirth, but should aught go wrong, Valar forbid, I might be able to call my lady or our child back. I cannot leave at this time. We could be delayed if we went riding; our horses could cast shoes or stumble.”

Faramir listened to Aragorn's words in mild astonishment for the King was usually the last person to fret over the risk of mishaps. He said nothing, though, remembering how anxious he had been over Éowyn's well- being when their children were born. He gathered his thoughts and tried to think of something that would distract his friend. “Would you like a game of chess to pass the time?” he asked.

Aragorn nodded. “Very well. Maybe it will calm my nerves. I still think of all that went awry when Eldarion was born and you were injured.”

“I have no intention of getting injured today,” said Faramir. “Put your mind at rest, second babies are often easier and you have abolished all the unpleasant old customs surrounding royal births.”

“Elboron’s birth was not easy,” Aragorn said glumly. “Surely, you have not forgotten how ill Éowyn was?”

“Of course not, but Dame Ioreth swears that most second births are easier, or so she tells everyone, Éowyn informs me. The good lady was delivering babies before I was born so she must know.”

Aragorn opened his mouth to say something else .but before he could speak, Faramir said firmly, “I have the chess board set up ready in my rooms.” Aragorn raised his eyebrows questioningly as they walked down the hall.

“I am teaching Elestelle to play,” the Steward explained. “She has seen us playing and wanted to learn.”

“She is very young. I could not imagine Eldarion wanting to sit still to play a game.”

Faramir laughed as he opened the door to his chambers. “It is different with girls. Elestelle will sit for hours playing with her dolls. Now shall we begin? Do you wish to take black or white?”

“I will take white as I played with black last time.” Aragorn sat down at the chess board and moved the first piece.

Faramir studied the board thoughtfully then made his own move. Aragorn made another move, as did his opponent. A triumphant smile appeared on the Steward's lips. “Checkmate!” he cried. “That was too easy.”

Aragorn shook his head ruefully. I fear I was not concentrating,” he said. “Maybe chess was not such a good idea after all.”

“Perhaps a glass of wine might settle you,” Faramir suggested. “I understand waiting is difficult at these times. Fatherhood is not easy.”

“It must be harder by far for our ladies,” said Aragorn. “Gladly would I bear the pain for Arwen.”

“As would I for Éowyn,” said Faramir. “I have heard that it is worse pain than a wound taken in battle.”

Aragorn shuddered. “Maybe a glass of wine would be a good idea.”

“I will call a servant to bring some.”

“We could visit the wine cellar. It would help pass the time,” Aragorn suggested.

“I should like to see what new wines you have acquired recently.”

0000

A somewhat baffled looking servant lit the torches in the wine cellar then left the King and Steward to explore its treasures.

“I had no idea this Dorwinion was here,” said Aragorn peering into a dusty corner. “It is a rare vintage. It must have belonged to your father.”

“I had no idea he was interested in wine,” said Faramir.

“He was as a young man,” said Aragorn. “He took an interest in almost everything.”

Faramir took one of the bottles from the shelf and sneezed as a cloud of dust enveloped him. “This dates from the year of Boromir's birth. My father must have laid down the wine for Boromir's wedding. Alas, that day never dawned.” He wiped his sleeve across his eyes. “Ah this dust is making my eyes run.”

“Well I recall the day when Boromir was born,” said Aragorn. “Your grandsire was so certain that your mother would have a boy. Ecthelion invited me to dine with him that day. One day when I am less distracted, I must tell you the story.”

“I should like that,” said Faramir. “Shall I bring the Dorwinion?”

Aragorn shook his head. “No, it is very potent. I do not want to be drunk when my lady gives birth.”

“You are the most abstemious man I know.”

Aragorn laughed. “I had to be in my youth, lest I disclose my true name after too much wine. Now everyone knows who I am, but it ill becomes a king to over indulge. I must set a good example to my people.”

Faramir held up another bottle. “This label says Rosehip wine. I have never tasted it.”

Aragorn glanced along the shelf. “I wager you have not tasted plum, hawthorn or elderberry wine either. Nor sloe.”

“I have not tasted any of those.”

“Today you shall. I will ask the servants to bring the bottles to your room. We will pass the time with a wine tasting.”

“Where do these wines come from? Éowyn has not mentioned them if they come from Rohan.”

“They come from the Shire. Pippin sent them as a Yule gift. I always get interesting gifts from our Hobbit friends. Sam sent me a half dozen handkerchiefs stitched by Rosie's fair hands while Merry sent a chest of tea.”

“Merry sent to tea to Éowyn too, but Sam always sends me seeds and cuttings while Pippin sends jams and other delicacies. He has never given me wine. You are honoured, my friend.”

“Maybe Pippin thinks the northern wines are an acquired taste unsuitable for your palate,” said Aragorn.

000

Back in Faramir’s chambers, Aragorn noticed the evidence of Éowyn's recent return from Ithilien. Vases of fresh flowers tastefully adorned the living room, something Faramir tended not to bother with when his lady was absent. Aragorn took off his heavy outer outer tunic as he settled into a comfortable chair. He then poured out two glasses of elderberry wine. “To Arwen and the safe delivery of our child!” he said, raising his glass.

“To your lady and her babe!” The glasses clinked and Faramir took a sip.

“A fine fruity vintage,” Aragorn pronounced.

“It is an interesting taste,” said the Steward.

“You like it not? Try the sloe wine instead. I have not tasted this wine before either. ” Aragorn filled their glasses with a rich ruby red liquid.

“I have heard of that one, Pippin told me it was a favourite wine of Gentlehobbits. He gave it another name, one that I cannot recall.

“It matters not; we only need to know that it is wine made from sloes. Drink up!”

0000

“My lord.”

“Ha, what?”

Aragorn awoke with a start. His head was pounding and his eyelids felt heavy. He forced them open. The room seemed to be swimming. When his eyes focussed they beheld Arwen's lady- in -waiting, Lady Idril. Faramir stood beside her. A troubled expression was on the Steward's face.

“My lord,” said Lady Idril. “The Queen's contractions are closer together now. Lady Éowyn and the other midwives believe the birth will be soon.”

“Thank you, Lady Idril.” Despite Aragorn's best efforts, the words came out slurred.

“You may leave now, my lady,” said Faramir, hustling the baffled lady- in- waiting from the room. “Rest assured that the King will attend the Queen as soon as the babe is born.”

Faramir firmly shut the door. “A cold bath should soon sober you up, my friend,” he told Aragorn. “Valar be praised for the plumbing system that Gimli's friends installed. I shall have the bath ready for you in a few moments.”

“My head aches,” Aragorn mumbled when Faramir reappeared from the bathing chamber. “Can't be drunk, only had two glasses!”

“I just remembered what Pippin called the drink. It isn't called sloe wine, but sloe gin! It must be very potent.”

“Why didn't you rouse me?” Aragorn seemed shocked into more coherent speech.

“I thought it would serve you better to sleep than wait on tenterhooks for news. I did not know you were drunk.”

“Whatever will Arwen think of me?” Aragorn groaned and buried his head in his hands. “Drunk while she is in labour!”

“Let us hope she does not need to find out. Come now, your bath is ready.”

000

Sing hey! for the bath at close of day

that washes the weary mud away!

A loon is he that will not sing:

O! Water Cold is a noble thing!”

Aragorn's voice drifted from the bathing chamber accompanied by loud splashes

“I am bringing some more towels,” called Faramir, entering the room. He stood in the doorway aghast at the sight before him. “Why in Middle- earth are you taking a bath with your clothes on?” He sighed. “Never mind, at least you left your tunic on the chair. I will find you something dry to wear. Valar be praised that we are much of a size.”

000

A little while later, Aragorn now clad in dry clothes, left the bathing chamber. Sodden towels and garments littered the floor.,”

“Do you feel more like yourself?” asked Faramir. “I will make you a cup of Merry's tea.”

“My head pounds like Gimli forged his axe upon it, but my wits are returning,” said Aragorn. “There are some herbs in my pack you can add to the tea, a remedy of Master Elrond's.”

Faramir called for a maid to bring hot water then mixed up some tea.

“It is strange indeed,” said Aragorn as he sipped the hot drink. “All day I have waited impatiently and now I desire more time to collect myself and be free of this headache before my child is born.”

“It is as well your lady cannot hear you speak thus,” Faramir admonished. “After seven hours in labour, she will be eager for the pains to end.”

“I know, may Yavanna forgive me! Tell me, Faramir, how is it that your head is so clear? You drank as much as I did.”

Faramir looked rather sheepish. He gestured towards the vase now filled with wilting flowers. “I thought the sloe gin tasted vile, but I did not wish to appear rude about your northern drinks. Every time you turned your head towards the direction of the birthing chamber, which was often, I poured some of my drink in the vase. Éowyn will be ill pleased at what has become of her blooms.”

Just then there was a knock on the door and a beaming Lady Idril entered. “My lord, the Queen wishes to see you.”

“Is my lady well? Is it a boy or a girl?”

Lady Idril's eyes twinkled. “The Queen is well, but she wishes me to reveal no more.”

His headache forgotten, Aragorn raced along the corridors to his wife's chamber. He found her lying in bed, looking tired but happy. In her arms, she held a shawl wrapped bundle. The King approached the bed and tenderly kissed his wife's forehead. She pulled aside the shawl to reveal a perfect tiny face with a rosebud mouth and a shock of dark hair.

“We have a daughter, my love,” said Arwen. “Is she not beautiful?”

Aragorn was so overwhelmed he could hardly breathe, let alone speak. He had a daughter, a little girl to protect and love and watch grow up as fair as her mother. A little girl who would sing like a nightingale, and dance like a butterfly. A child whose laughter would be sweet music to his ears. Tears pricked his eyes as he tenderly took the babe in his arms. This was a joy worth the waiting.

 
Mists of time by lindahoyland

Mists of Time by Linda Hoyland

Rated PG13 (for mild horror)

The familiar characters belong to Tolkien and his heirs. I make no money from this story.

Aragorn and Faramir are lost in the fog.

With grateful thanks to Deandra.

The fog came down suddenly. One moment, Aragorn and Faramir were riding between the trees in search of game for the royal party, the next they were enveloped in a swirling white blanket of mist.

The path they had been following disappeared while the orange – and gold – clad trees were no more than sinister, looming shapes.

"We should turn back and re-join the others," said Faramir. His voice sounded muffled by the fog. "It is impossible to see the trail."

Aragorn sighed. "I should never have promised Arwen that we would dine well tonight on the spoils of our hunt."

"It was her suggestion that we track down our supper since we won't reach Calembel until sometime tomorrow or the next day," said Faramir.

"Roheryn was straining at the bit," said Aragorn. "As indeed was I. It is hard to bear the slower pace that the women and children need for so long a journey."

"At least we are far from hungry," said Faramir. "Not after almost a month of Éomer's hospitality, followed by that of the Rohirrim at Harrowdale, not to mention the good townsfolk of Lamedon."

Aragorn chuckled. "True, but our people in the remote towns need to see us sometimes, so it was necessary for us to come this way. I was able to listen to them and see what their needs were."

"Remember those village maidens where we stopped to water the horses?" Faramir said with a chuckle. "They would have discussed the current fashions in Gondor all day with our ladies if they could. Éowyn is not even very interested in such matters." Suddenly, his horse neighed uneasily. "What is it, Fain? I like this fog no better than you do. Never have I known it so dense."

"Nor have I," said Aragorn. "Very well, we will go back and-" He stopped suddenly and peered into the mist. "Ho there, are you lost?"

There was only silence in response to his call. Not a leaf stirred and no birds sang.

"What was that?" asked Faramir.

"I thought I saw someone, a woman amongst the trees."

Faramir chuckled. "You must be missing your lady. This fog deceives the eyes. There is no-one there."

"I am certain I saw someone. The road must be in the direction she went."

They turned their horses around and rode onwards in silence broken only by the muffled hoof beats of their horses. The fog closed in around them ever more thickly. The two men pulled their cloaks more closely around themselves. They started to sing to keep up their spirits and not lose one another in the fog.

"I think we have missed the road. It feels as if we are climbing. That would suggest we are travelling north," Aragorn observed.

"I cannot even see Fain's head," said Faramir. "Never have I known fog like this before."

"Neither have I," said Aragorn. "I know that the valleys are often shrouded in mist, but never as densely as this!"

"It makes me uneasy, though I know not why," said Faramir.

Aragorn reined in Roheryn and vainly tried to view the surrounding landscape. "I think we are lost," he said. He laughed bitterly. "A fine pair of Rangers we are!"

"At least none of our men can see us wandering as if we were blindfold," said Faramir. "I think you are correct, though – we seem to be climbing, not going down into the valley as we should."

"It is difficult to find south when we cannot see any markers. Not only are the heavens hidden from us, but even what we might see on the ground," Aragorn said. "Since we are climbing, perhaps we should continue upward. Maybe we will get above the fog and be able to determine where we are."

They rode on farther. Roheryn suddenly neighed wildly and reared up. Aragorn struggled to keep his seat and cried out.

"Are you hurt?" called Faramir.

"I am well," said Aragorn. "Roheryn almost collided with something. I need to see what it is." He spoke soothing words to the stallion and dismounted. A great black object loomed out of the mist in front of him. "I know where we are now," the King exclaimed. "This is the Stone of Erech!"

"Valar! We have wandered leagues from our path!" said Faramir. "I had not thought we were that far off."

Aragorn stood thinking for a moment. "We have little hope of finding our way back to our wives and children tonight. It is growing dark."

"Our ladies will be worried," said Faramir.

"I am certain they will realise we missed our way in the fog," said Aragorn. "They have plenty of good men to guard them and we will re-join them on the morrow. I suggest that we make camp here beside the stone for the night. At least we know the way back to the main road from here."

"It seems we have no other choice," said Faramir. He dismounted from his horse. "I like this place not at all, though."

"There is naught now to fear here," said Aragorn. "I told the spirits of the Oathbreakers to be at rest and trouble the valleys no more. I agree it is an eerie place, though. I can feel it too."

"It puzzles me why Isildur should have brought this great stone with him from Númenor," said Faramir. "Then why erect it in this desolate place after he brought it?"

"None of the scrolls of lore at Rivendell threw any light on the matter," said Aragorn as he lifted his pack from Roheryn. "Master Elrond believed the stone to be a meteorite. Maybe it has some special significance to Isildur if it indeed fell from the sky. Maybe he saw it as a portent, but, alas, we shall never know. The Stone of Erech will remain a mystery."

"As will this fog," said Faramir as they ate a meagre supper from their packs. "It should have lessened now we are on the summit of the hill. We are not high enough to be lost in the clouds!"

"I know not," said Aragorn, taking a swig from his water bottle. "Let us hope the morning sun will disperse the mist." He sat down with his back against the stone."

"Ah the sun, how I yearn to see her again," said Faramir. "This mist has cold, damp tendrils that have reached my skin." He coughed.

"Huddle close," said Aragorn. "We should be warm enough. If we sleep now, hopefully the mist will lift at sunrise."

Despite the uncomfortable conditions, the two men quickly fell asleep, exhausted after their hours of fruitless wandering.

Aragorn awoke with a start. To his surprise, the moon was shining while the fog had cleared around the summit of the hill, but was still dense elsewhere. He looked around him and became aware of a woman. She was dressed in filmy grey raiment, which shimmered in the moonlight. She glared at the King with cold, dark eyes. The horses, who were tethered nearby, neighed in terror.

"Who are, mistress?" asked Aragorn." Why are you in this desolate spot?"

The woman's eyes glittered dangerously. "Do you not know, Heir of Isildur?"

Aragorn shook his head. "I have not laid eyes upon you until this day, mistress."

"You do not remember me though, I followed my lord when he fulfilled his oath that he swore to your ancestor?"

"You are a woman. The Oathbreakers were the Men of the Mountains. You cannot be one of their shades as I released them to find eternal peace."

The woman laughed bitterly. "You gave me no rest, Heir of Isildur, instead, you condemned me to wander alone for all time when you sent my husband beyond the circles of the world."

Aragorn regarded her in bewilderment. "I never condemned you, mistress, neither did Isildur when he cursed your husband."

"Fools! You know nothing of the sacred vow that is forged with powerful magic between a chieftain and his lady. Beneath the full moon's light we swore it, our hands tied with tendrils of ivy, our palms rubbed with the juice of the Rowan berry. Together we spake the holy vow, Together we live, together we die, nothing shall part us, once together we lie. Once thus united, in hand and in heart, not even death shall tear us apart. I was no Oathbreaker, but you have made me one by parting me from my lord!" She began to weep bitterly.

Aragorn instinctively put out a hand to comfort her, but his warm flesh met with naught but cold, damp mist. He shuddered.

"Well you might tremble, Heir of Isildur, for now I curse you to wander forever. As you parted me from my husband, so do I part you from your wife. You will wander until the day you die, lost in this mist that my magic has formed!"

Aragorn gestured towards the sleeping form of Faramir. "What of my friend? At least let him go free. He has done you no wrong."

The woman laughed again. It was not a pleasant sound. "Then you are more fortunate than I, as you will not bear your torment alone. I leave you now to your fate." She started to shimmer and fade from view.

"Wait, my lady!" Aragorn cried. "At least let me know your name."

The woman hesitated then shimmered again and appeared as she was before. "I am Kajuína, daughter of Kajuínak, high priestess of the sacred mysteries, bearer of the holy chalice and Queen of the Mountains."

Aragorn inclined his head slightly. "I am called Estel, my lady, and also Envinyatar. Maybe I can help you."

"None can renew my hope, Heir of Isildur, neither can you now renew your own. You will wander in the mist until death claims you and the crows pick your bones clean. Your wife will weep at her window as she waits vainly for your return. She will remember you as an oathbreaker who abandoned her."

Something inside Aragorn snapped. He reached for his sword.

Kajuína laughed wildly. "Weapons are useless against me, Heir of Isildur. I have been dead for years without counting, dead, but without rest! Now share my fate!"

Aragorn lifted Andúril high in his right hand, his left, he placed on the Elessar stone, which he wore on his breast. He cried out in a loud voice. "Be at rest, Kajuína, daughter of Kajuínak. Receive the Gift that Eru Ilúvatar gave to all his younger children. I, Aragorn son of Arathorn,, bearer of the Star of the North, wielder of the Sword Reforged, victorious in battle, whose hands bring healing, the Elfstone, Elessar , the Heir of Isildur of the line of Elendil, by the Grace of the Valar and the One, King of the Reunited Kingdom, bid you be gone, and never trouble the realm of the living again! Depart and be at rest!"

Kajuína raised her hands as if to defend herself as her form began to shimmer and fade. Then Aragorn saw another form emerge from the mist, come towards her, and take her hand. Before she vanished into nothingness, he saw that she was smiling.

The mist swirled around him and everything went black.

000

"Aragorn, wake up!"

The King opened his eyes and met Faramir's gaze. The Steward was bending over him, looking worried.

"Has she gone?" Aragorn asked.

"Has who gone? There is naught here save our horses and ourselves."

Aragorn accepted Faramir's hand and sat up, his back leaning against the Stone of Erech. He looked around him. No trace of the fog remained. It was a beautiful sunny morning and from his vantage point on top of the hill, he could see the valleys below filled with trees clad in their autumn finery. Birds sang to greet the perfect morning.

"Are you well?" asked Faramir. "You are shaking!" he placed a comforting arm around the King and took one of Aragorn's cold hands in one of his warm ones."

Aragorn took several deep breaths, drinking in the peaceful scene. "I am well now," he said. "The mist has vanished. I shall see my lady and my son again."

Faramir looked increasingly perplexed. "I awoke a short time ago and found you in what seemed like a deep swoon."

"I battled throughout the night with the spirit of the wife of the chieftain of the Oathbreakers. She cursed us to wander forever in the mist."

Faramir shook his head. "I woke once during the night when I heard the horses neighing. You were asleep beside me and no one else was there." His eyes scanned the surroundings. "Why is Andúril lying there unsheathed? The dew will rust the blade."

Aragorn scrambled to his feet and picked up his sword. He wiped it on his cloak then returned it to its sheath. "I drew my sword to command the shade to depart," he said. "You heard nothing? I cried out in a loud voice. Yet now in the morning sunlight it all seems like an ill dream, were it not for the sword lying on the grass."

"I saw and heard nothing save the horses whinnying," said Faramir. "Maybe you had a dark dream and drew your sword, half sleeping and half waking? This place is enough to disturb any man's slumber. Even in broad daylight, I like it not at all. Who knows what unquiet forces linger here?"

"Let us be on our way then. We can breakfast later," said Aragorn. "I shall know no rest until I embrace my lady and my son again."

The two men made their way to where their horses were tethered. No shadows fell across the stone as they rode away, but the wind whispered through the trees.

A/n. Written for the Teitho "Stone" challenge where it was unplaced. Happy Halloween to my readers.

The Trespasser by lindahoyland

The Trespasser by Linda Hoyland

 

Rating PG

 

With grateful thanks to Raksha for plot assistance and editing and Deandra and Med Cayfor editing.

 

These characters belong to Tolkien and this story was written purely to entertain.

 

A herb mistress has a fateful encounter with a stranger.

 

“He was mortified I tell you, utterly mortified! Herb master here in the Houses for more than forty years and when the King returns he doesn't have the kingsfoil that Lord Elfstone needed! It was that what brought on his seizure, I tell you. I don't care what the healers say. It was a wonder he didn't die of the shame on the spot there and then!”

 

Morwen nodded vaguely. She believed that the mild seizure which had led to her predecessor's retirement had been caused by his somewhat excessive enjoyment of fine food and wine; but it was better not to argue with Dame Ioreth. Morwen was sorry for the old herb master's illness. His retirement, though had led to her fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming herb mistress in the best healing Houses in Gondor . She only half listened to Ioreth's ramblings, understanding the old woman meant well in telling her all that had happened while she was away in Lossarnach these past  two years. Morwen had been evacuated with the other women during the siege and stayed afterwards to look after her sick grandmother. She had only returned after receiving a letter from the ailing herb master whose apprentice she had been. He had urged her to hasten back to the City now her grandmother was much recovered.

 

Much had changed in her absence. Rebuilding work was going on in the lower levels and foreigners were everywhere. She heard that former enemies had now established embassies in the City and merchants from many lands hawked their wares in more busy markets.  Morwen had availed herself of their services by buying herbs and spices which had been scarce in the past. She now had, amongst many other things, adequate supplies of poppy for pain relief and turmeric and ginger for digestive disorders.

 

The very rule of Gondor had changed too; a King rather than a Steward ruled in the Citadel. Morwen was not greatly interested in who held the reins of governance. As long as it wasn't the Dark Lord, one ruler was as good or as bad as another. All she cared about was that the Houses of Healing continued as they always had.

 

Ioreth finally paused for breath. Morwen hoped she had smiled and nodded in the appropriate places during the old woman's seemingly endless speculations about the lack of kingsfoil leading to the herb master's retirement.

 

“Well, I shall keep the herbarium well stocked, I assure you, Dame Ioreth. Even with kingsfoil, even though it is only used to freshen a room, or maybe ease a slight headache.”

 

“Didn't you hear a word I was saying, Mistress Morwen? In the hands of the King, kingsfoil can work miracles! He's been away on campaign, but now he's returned, he'll be back at the Houses with us to lay his healing hands on the sick, you mark my words!”

 

Morwen bit back a sharp retort that the King was hardly likely to keep coming to the Houses whenever a miracle was needed. She'd heard the tale of how he supposedly healed Lord Faramir until she could repeat it in her sleep, but she remained unconvinced.  Lord Faramir must have just happened to wake up when this Elessar steeped some kingsfoil and the would- be king had encouraged them to believe that he was the rightful heir to the throne due to some fabled mastery over the herb. Kings were men like any other; and had no special powers over maladies and hurts. Better to depend on the knowledge and skills of healers, and the strength of the herbs she used, then to trust old legends and wives’ tales, however charming such stories might be.

 

“Well, I can't waste all day here talking,” said Ioreth, pulling off her bloodied apron and throwing it into the laundry basket. “I must return to my patient.”

 

Morwen regarded the bloodied garment with well concealed distaste. She had always been interested in healing, but had never wanted to be a healer like Ioreth, as she had little love for the sight of gore. As an herbalist, she could help to heal people without constantly having to clean up blood and guts, and repair torn flesh and broken bones. Ioreth pulled on a clean apron and paused, as if expecting Morwen to say something.

 

“Have you been assisting with an operation, Dame Ioreth?” she enquired, hoping she would be spared a detailed description of something like amputating a limb.

 

“Gracious, no, I've just delivered twins to Mistress Indis, the wife of one of the Citadel Guards. They were in breech position and the poor lady had been in labour for hours, so she needed to give birth here at the Houses. Poor lamb, it was a hard birth. I've left her with her mother and my assistant. I just slipped out to change my apron and fetch a fresh supply of raspberry tea. It helps the womb return to normal, you know, dear. I don't want the new mother to suffer a prolapse, the poor lamb I -”

 

“I will gather some more raspberry leaves, fresh ones will be especially beneficial.” Morwen hurried away before Ioreth could enlighten her any further concerning the condition of Mistress Indis' womb.

 

Morwen heaved a sigh of relief when she reached the sanctuary of the herb garden. She was fond of Dame Ioreth, but sometimes the old lady tried her patience to the limit. The breeze and sunshine felt pleasant on her face and the herbs smelled sweet and refreshing after the overwhelming smell of soap that pervaded the houses. Morwen smiled contentedly. Surely she had the most rewarding job in Middle-earth, working here amongst the herbs that had fascinated her since childhood. Ever since she could remember she had wanted to know what each herb was called and what it was used for. Once she had learned the name and uses of a plant, she never forgot.

 

She made her way over to the raspberry canes and started to gather the leaves that she needed. She had half filled her basket before she became aware that she was not alone. A man was busy gathering dandelion leaves at the far side of the garden.

 

Morwen felt annoyed at having her solitude interrupted. This was a private garden that only the healers were permitted to use. The man was a stranger, dressed in a scruffy old cloak. He had no right to be here. He was gathering dandelion leaves, no doubt to be used in a salad for his evening meal.

 

Leaving the raspberry canes, she marched up to him and said sternly. “This is the private herb garden for the Houses of Healing. You should not be here.”

 

“Is that so?” the man said mildly. He plucked another dandelion leaf and tasted it. “Perfect,” he said.

 

“The patients need those leaves as a treatment for dropsy,” Morwen said crossly. “I have no choice but to report you to the Warden.”

 

“There is no need to trouble yourself, mistress, he minds not that I gather herbs here.” The man stood up, revealing his true height, which was considerable. He was rather a good-looking fellow in a roguish, wild way, with shaggy grey-streaked hair, keen eyes and big, long-fingered hands.

 

Morwen glared and returned to plucking raspberry leaves, trying to ignore the strange man's presence. She supposed the Houses could spare a few dandelion leaves for a poor man's supper, but whatever was the Warden thinking of letting such riff-raff wander amongst her herbs?

 

A few moments later, she glanced towards the man again. He had moved away from the dandelions to the part of the garden where the most potent herbs were growing. To her horror, he started plucking foxglove leaves. Horrified, she hurried over to him., exclaiming, “Don't touch those leaves, they contain a deadly poison!”

 

“I know,” said the man calmly.

 

“What sort of fool are you to gather foxglove leaves?” Morwen demanded. “Are you trying to kill yourself or murder someone? I don't believe that the Warden gave you permission to come here. Leave my herb garden at once and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before you eat anything!”

 

Before the man could reply, the Warden hurried into the garden. Not seeming to notice Morwen, he addressed the man. “My Lord King, Praise the Valar I caught you here! I have a young soldier in my care stricken with fever who is not responding to our treatments. I wondered if you would be so good as to try to help him?” Only then did he appear to notice Morwen and nodded in her direction. “Good day, Mistress Morwen.” The two men strode off into the Houses.

 

Morwen stood staring after them as if rooted to the spot. That rascally- looking fellow was the King? What had she just said to him? She had called him a fool and a liar as well as suggesting he might be trying to murder someone! Bile rose in her throat. She had no idea what the penalty for insulting a king was, but was certain it would be something unpleasant. She would most likely be thrown in the dungeons to await trial and at the very least she would be dismissed from the Houses of Healing.

 

She trudged back inside the Houses, fearing any moment to be arrested. She expected to find guards outside the room used by the women who worked at the Houses of Healing to change their clothes. Only Dame Ioreth was there, though, waiting for the raspberry leaves.

 

“Did you see Lord Elfstone?” the old woman demanded.

 

“The King?”

 

“He's here this afternoon, amazing isn’t it that a king should take time to visit the Houses and tend the patients? I did say he would, though. He has a wonderful healing gift, unlike anything I've ever seen. Folk say he was taught healing by a great Elf lord in the North. It's like magic it is. He has a heart of gold, has Lord Elfstone, though his tongue is rather sharp, but you'll get used to his ways, my dear.”

 

Morwen very much doubted it. She mutely handed the leaves to Dame Ioreth then retreated to the shelter of her herbarium. She spent the rest of the day carefully tidying and arranging the herbs so that her successor would replace her with as little disruption to the patients as possible. She immersed herself in her work, trying not to think of the fate that awaited her for presuming to chastise the King.

 

She abandoned her task only when forced to as it became too dark to see properly. She was loth to call for extra lamps in case anyone questioned her about why she was working so late.

 

Morwen reluctantly left the her herbarium and made her way to the comfortable rooms within the Houses she shared with her cat. As the hours passed, the likelihood of her being arrested diminished, but Morwen was certain she would lose her position at the Houses, and with it her comfortable home. Her work here was all that she had ever hoped and dreamed of. Where could she go? What else could she do? This position was unique and she had worked towards it since she was a girl. Where else could she devote her life so completely and usefully to the study of herb lore?

 

Granted, every village had a wise woman and she was more than adequately trained for the task, but village herbalists were also healers, a calling which Morwen had never felt drawn to with her dislike for blood and guts. As a village healer, she would spend her days in gory and thankless tasks, just like the healer in the village where she was born. Morwen had great respect for Mistress Tasariel, a kinswoman of Dame Ioreth's. It was Tasariel's influence that had helped her become what she was today. Morwen had no wish to be like Tasariel, though, spending her days stitching up gaping wounds inflicted by  farming tools and delivering babies. Tasariel had to rely on the most common herbs unlike Morwen who had well over a hundred in her well stocked herbarium While Morwen had been staying with her grandmother Mistress Tasariel  had attended the King's coronation with Dame Ioreth and left Morwen in charge of her patients She had been mightily relieved that a child with a fever was the only case she had to treat. What else could she put her hand to, though. other than cleaning or sewing; tasks which were even less appealing than a village healer's lot.

 

Why ever had this new King taken it into his head to skulk anonymously through her precious herb garden, dressed like some ne’er-do-well? If she had but known he was the King, she would have treated him with all due respect and courtesy. It was too late! Just a few careless words had ruined Morten’s life. She buried her face in her cat's soft fur and wept.

 

Morwen tossed and turned all night, hardly sleeping at all. She rose early and dressed. She tried to eat breakfast, but the food tasted like ashes in her mouth. After forcing down a cup of herbal tea, she made her way to the herbarium.

 

She expected to soon be summoned to the Warden's office to be dismissed, but it was too early for him to be working yet. While she waited, she dealt with requests from the healers for treatments for their patients. Foxglove for an old woman with heart failure and dropsy, willow bark tea for the fever patients, comfrey salve for an old man with rheumatism; familiar comforting tasks that she performed every day and feared now she would never perform again.

 

Dame Ioreth entered the herbarium later that morning just as Morwen was preparing fresh supplies of comfrey salve. She startled as the old woman entered the room.

 

“Gracious, my dear, you are jumpy today and you look as if you've not slept a wink! Are you sickening with something? There's a lot of fever around at present. Folk shed their warm clothes too quickly when the fine weather comes, I always say.”

 

“I just didn't sleep very well.”

 

Ignoring Morten’s protests, Ioreth insisted on examining her for signs of fever, but found none. “You young folks will stay up too late,” she said.”I remember when I was a lass, I never wanted to go to bed at a decent hour.”

 

“Have you seen the Warden this morning?” Morwen asked once she could get a word in.

 

“He is with the King,” said Ioreth.

 

Morten’s heart missed a beat. They were no doubt discussing her future this very moment.

 

“Are you sure you are well, dear? You look quite pale.”

 

“I am just tired.” Morwen repressed the urge to confide her troubles to Dame Ioreth. She worried that the fearless old woman might unleash the full sharpness of her tongue on either the Warden or the King. Ioreth loved to relate a tale about how she had once rebuked Denethor who had threatened her with dismissal for her pains. There was no point in them both losing their positions. She changed the subject. “How are Mistress Indis and her twins today?”

 

“They are doing well, but Mistress Indis is sore and weary after the birth. That's why I'm here. I need lavender, arnica, chickweed and calendula for her bath and for salves. I also need an infusion of nettle and raspberry.”

 

“I will get them for you at once, Dame Ioreth.”

 

“Why don't you bring them to Mistress Indis' room when they are ready. We don't often have twins born here, you should meet them. Such beautiful babies and big too for twins. I remember the first set of twins I delivered, so tiny they were that no one thought they would live and I rubbed them with olive oil and wrapped them in cotton wool and -”

 

Morwen nodded mutely as Ioreth rambled on. Maybe meeting the twins might be a welcome distraction. That is, if the Warden had not sent for her to pronounce her doom before she could gather the herbs together that Mistress Indis required.

 

A short while later, Morwen, together with Ioreth, entered Mistress Indis' room with the herbs. The pale new mother was dressed in a robe and sitting on a comfortable chair holding one baby while the other slept in a cradle at her feet.

 

Morwen offered her congratulations. Babies tended to look much alike to her, but these were certainly fine ones, a boy and a girl each with a shock of dark hair.

 

Mistress Indis smilingly accepted Morten’s good wishes. Her eyes were sparkling as she then said, “Would you believe it, but the King has asked to meet my babies! I'm all a flutter!”

 

“You don't have to see him if you don't wish to, my dear,” said Ioreth. “He made it very clear that it was a request, not an order, did Lord Elfstone. He 's here to see a patient he's treating, but he likes to give new babies his blessing when he can and folk say there are twins in his family, so I expect he is especially interested.”

 

“Oh, but I want to meet him,” said Mistress Indis. “It would be a great honour.”

 

“I must return to my duties,” said Morwen. “It was a pleasure to meet you and your beautiful babies, Mistress Indis.” She turned to leave the room as swiftly as possible, but before she could  leave there was a knock at the door. Ioreth called permission to the newcomer to enter. Much to her dismay, Morwen almost collided with the King.

 

Today, he was still dressed simply, but in quality garments that made him look more kingly. On his breast he wore an eagle-shaped brooch set with a striking green gem.

 

Mistress Indis made as if to rise, but the King gestured her to remain seated.

 

Ioreth gave a cursory bow and introduced Mistress Indis then gestured towards Morwen. “And this, my lord, is Mistress Morwen, our herb mistress.”

 

“Mistress Morwen and I have met,” said the King.

 

Morwen tried to edge towards the doorway.

 

“Wait, Mistress,” he said. “I wish to speak to you.”

 

With a sinking heart, Morwen could only watch as the King took each baby in his arms and blessed it. “What are their names?” he asked the young mother.

 

“I have not yet been able to decide, my lord. My husband and I never expected to need to think of two names.”

 

“How about Beren and Lúthien?” the King suggested.

 

Indis beamed. “I like those names well, my lord.”

 

“And how do you fare, mistress?”

 

“Well enough, my lord, but I am sore weary.”

 

“Permit me to aid you.”

 

Morten’s eyebrows lifted as the King took Mistress Indis' hand and held the other a few inches above her still distended belly. It seemed to her that Indis' skin took on a healthier colour while for a few moments the King looked pale and weary. She blinked, thinking she must be imagining things after her sleepless night.

 

The King said a few more words then took his leave of Mistress Indis. He made as to leave the room, beckoning Morwen to follow him.

 

“There's no need to be scared, dear, just speak your mind freely,” said Ioreth in an encouraging tone.

 

“I believe Mistress Morwen always speaks her mind,” the King said drily.

 

Without another word, the King led Morwen to the Warden's office, though there was no sign of its usual occupant.

 

Morwen fell to her knees. “I am so very sorry, my lord King. I did not mean to insult you.”

 

“Please rise,” The King extended a hand. “You have a sharp tongue, mistress, I admit, but the fault was mine. I should have introduced myself. It was natural that you should take me for a trespasser. Sometimes, I forget I no longer have a need for anonymity. It is indeed needful to exercise caution concerning who is allowed near such potent herbs. It was not about yesterday that I wished to speak to you about.”

 

“My lord?” Morten’s voice was little more than a croak. Could it be that the King of Gondor took no offence at her rudeness, as if she were some great lady rather than a simple herb mistress?

 

“I should like to grow more elven herbs here at the Houses, but would not plant them here without your permission, Mistress. I believe we could have many new treatments to benefit the patients.”

 

“Gladly, my lord. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to learn about new herbs.”

 

The King smiled. His whole face lit up like the sun breaking suddenly free of a cloud. “Then I believe you and I will work well together, Mistress Morwen.”


Morwen smiled back. “I believe we shall, my lord.” And she breathed again, as if for the very first time.

 Part Two

 

 

Morwen was donning her apron prior to beginning her day's work, when Dame Ioreth approached her holding out a letter.

"The carrier just came from Lossarnach with a letter from my kinswoman and she has also sent you a message."

Morwen held out her hand for the missive, but Ioreth had more to say, "I hope Tasariel isn't doing too much, she works so hard what with that husband of hers and tending the fields. I really don't know how she manages it all. I would-"

"Thank you, Dame Ioreth. I'll read my letter before I begin work for the day." Morwen reached out for the letter with a smile then retreated to a quiet corner. She was eager to see what her old mentor had to say.

The letter began with greetings and enquiries concerning Morwen's well-being. Tasariel then continued "I have been very busy as usual, my dear. I delivered two infants last week, a boy and a girl. The boy was a breech and it was a difficult birth- some lads are a handful from the moment of birth! I have the mother on raspberry tea and drinking plenty of beef broth to restore her strength. Then I had a nasty accident to attend to. One of my husband's workers almost cut his foot off with a sickle.

My Pelendur is getting married soon. Emerwen's a fine lass, but I always hoped that you might have caught his eye. I would have gladly embraced you as a daughter."

Morwen sighed. Pelendur was a decent enough fellow, but marrying him would have meant a lifetime in the village stitching up farm workers. She shuddered at the thought. She was far better suited to her work here as herb mistress.

"I need some blessed thistle tincture for a nursing mother," called Ivorwen, another of the healers.

Morwen stuffed the letter inside the chest where she kept her possessions and hurried off to the herbarium. The jar of blessed thistle tincture was almost empty, though there was plenty of tea left. She measured out the correct dosage for the patient.

"Here you are, Dame Ivorwen," she said. "Your patient is fortunate as this was almost the last in the jar. I'll go and gather some more."

"There have been so many coughs, colds and stomach upsets of late, as well as nursing mothers," said Ivorwen. "Small wonder your stocks are low."

"There is still some Blessed Thistle tea left and several jars of salve," said Morwen.

"Lord Elfstone is visiting the Houses today," said Ioreth. "Whatever will he say if he needs a herb and we don't have it. I recall it as if it were yesterday how mortified the Herb master was when we didn't have athelas. I'm certain that-"

"I will gather some now," said Morwen hastily. She took up a basket and went outside.

Morwen took a deep breath once she had closed the door. It was a fine spring morning and she welcomed the chance to be outside. As it was still early in the year, the Blessed Thistle was being grown in the glasshouse rather than the herb garden, which necessitated a walk through the rose garden to get there.

She passed a gardener who was hard at work pruning roses and bade him good morning. She didn't know his name, but always exchanged a word and a smile with him, for he seemed a pleasant young fellow.

Once within the glasshouse, Morwen quickly found the Blessed Thistle and began harvesting the leaves. She hummed quietly to herself as she worked becoming utterly engrossed in her task.

Suddenly, she was startled by a loud cry followed by a shout for help. Leaving her basket behind, Morwen ran outside to investigate. The cries were coming from the rose garden. She followed the sounds until she came across the gardener sprawled on the ground. Blood was pumping from his wrist.

For a moment, Morwen froze, then she remembered her healer's training and snatched off her apron and folded it into a pad of cloth, which she pressed against the gardener's wound.

"What happened?" she asked.

"Tripped and fell on my pruning knife," said the gardener. "So stupid."

"Accidents happen," said Morwen trying to sound brisk and efficient. "Keep still or you will make the bleeding worse."

"I know I'm going to die," said the gardener. "Lost my friend a few years back when he fell on a blade."

"Nonsense!" said Morwen with more conviction than she felt. Already the blood was seeping through her makeshift pad and she lacked the strength to apply more pressure. She had slightly twisted her hand wresting with a stubborn herb jar a few days ago and it had not yet recovered properly.

"Tell my wife I love her and my boy. He's not yet three years old."

Morwen tried again to press harder to staunch the blood flow. Her head was starting to swim and she felt increasingly queasy. Why did a herb mistress and not a healer find the poor man? Why had no one else come?

"You will tell them yourself," she said in a slightly shaky voice. "I will call for more help." She closed her eyes for a moment as not to look at all the blood, took a deep breath and cried out at the top of her voice.

No one answered her call. She focussed her attention on the gardener's face. He was pale and sweating, his breath coming in ragged gasps. She kept on pressing, but her strength was not sufficient and the rising nausea in her throat was growing worse.

Just then, a man came running through the garden. It was the King. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, he was kneeling beside her and gardener and pulling off his fine velvet tunic, which he folded into a pad.

"I'll take him now, mistress," Aragorn said calmly.

Morwen thankfully lifted her throbbing hands away from the wound. Unable to contain her rising nausea a moment longer, she darted into the bushes and retched violently. Once she felt a little better she forced herself to return to the injured man. Out of all the people who could have answered her cries for help, why did it have to be the King? During the few weeks she had known him, she had come to respect his herb lore and quite like him, but surely one of her colleagues could handle this situation better? And how could the King ever respect her in future now he knew how squeamish she was?

The King was pressing his folded tunic against the injured gardener's wound firmly when she returned. He turned to the gardener. "What is your name?"

"Beleg."

"Be easy then, Beleg, all will be well. Close your eyes." The King lifted one hand away from the wound and placed it on the gardener's brow. He then ran a finger over his eyelids. Beleg went limp.

"Is he dead?" asked Morwen.

Aragorn shook his head. "No," he said. "I have sent him to sleep to slow his heart and the loss of blood. I need to stitch the injured blood vessel closed. Could you fetch someone to carry him into the Houses, mistress?"

"I will, sire."

"Thank you. There is no need for you to return here. I suggest you bathe and change your clothes. You look almost as pale as our injured friend here."

Morwen hurried off to do as she was bidden. She went straight to the Warden's office and he immediately despatched two assistant healers to the rose gardens with a stretcher.

"Whatever has happened to you, lass?" asked Ioreth when Morwen re-entered the sanctuary of the room used by the women who served at the Houses.

Morwen looked down at her blood- and vomit-stained gown. "There was an accident," she began, then to her shame burst into tears as she struggled to relate the morning's events.

Ioreth got to her feet and patted Morwen's shoulder kindly. "There, there, dear," she said. "I'll run you a bath and make you a nice cup of Blessed Thistle tea to settle your stomach," she said.

"The poor man will most likely die and it will be my fault!" sniffed Morwen. She found she was shaking.

"Nonsense!" said Ioreth. "You did your best and you are the herb mistress, not a healer. It's all been a nasty shock for you. The gardener could not be in better hands, for if anyone can save him, the Lord Elfstone can. Now come and have a hot bath and get out of those clothes."

Morwen let herself be led to the women's bathing room. Usually, she hated Dame Ioreth's fussing, but today it was oddly comforting. It was a rule that all the women who worked in the Houses kept a complete change of clothing in the women's room. Ioreth brought Morwen her clean garments and took the bloodied ones away then fetched a cup of Blessed Thistle tea, which tasted revolting, but did settle her stomach.

"You should go home and cuddle that cat of yours now, dearie," said Dame Ioreth when Morwen had finished her tea.

"I have work to do," protested Morwen. "The basket of Blessed Thistle is still in the glasshouse for a start."

"A servant can fetch it, and your work can wait until the morrow," said Ioreth. "I'll walk with you to your rooms. Then you must rest, lass and wrap up warm. There's a right chill in the air today. Folk are always too keen to shed their warm garments in spring and little good does it do them. I remember once when –"

For once, Morwen did not mind Ioreth's chatter. She wondered if it served to distract the patients from their ills as it was distracting her today.

When she reached her rooms within the Houses, she went straight to bed and fell asleep with her cat purring at her side.

000

Morwen awoke the next morning feeling much more like her usual self. She went early to her herbarium. She found the basket of Blessed Thistle leaves waiting for her and set to work preparing a tincture of the herb. She hummed quietly to herself, glad to be at work amidst the familiar fresh scents.

A knock at the door made her start. "Come in!" she called, expecting it to be one of the healers requiring herbs for a patient. To her dismay, the King entered the room.

"Good Morrow, Mistress Morwen," he said with a smile. "I thought you would like to know that Beleg should make a full recovery. I will see that his wife and child are cared for until he can work again. You saved his life, mistress."

"I, sire? I think rather it was you who saved him."

"He would have bled to death before I reached him. You did well to staunch the flow and prevent him losing a dangerous amount of blood as the sight of blood obviously troubles you."

Morwen flushed and shuffled her feet uneasily. "I am sorry I was so foolish and cowardly yesterday. I can deal with a little blood such as a cut finger, but so much!"

The King regarded her with his keen grey eyes. "You might be surprised, Mistress Morwen, how many soldiers I have known who turn sick and faint at the sight of blood. It is a brave man who does his duty when his stomach is lurching, and a brave woman too. And you were dealing with an injured hand, were you not?"

"How did you know that?"

"You were holding your right hand awkwardly. As a healer, I notice these things."

Morwen shrugged. "It is but a minor hurt. I twisted it the other day trying to open a jar I had sealed too tightly."

"May I see?"

Morwen reluctantly held out her hand. The injury was indeed slight, but it left a dull ache in her fingers. The King folded both his hands around hers. They were very warm and, much to her surprise, she felt the warmth seeping through her injury, melting the pain in its wake. It was a curious sensation. She had never felt anything quite like it before. She looked up and saw the kindness and compassion in the grey eyes and realised that he was more than just a King who was a master of herblore. He was a great healer and a great man too.

A/n. Written for the LOTRGFIC "Spring Fever" Challenge. With thanks to Med Cat.

A/n Written for the the Teitho “Anonymity” challenge where it was placed 3rd. Wishing all my readers a happy and 

Circle of Faith by lindahoyland

B2MeM Challenge: Image prompt: Standing Stones
http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/the_winterwitch/13030705/5174/5174_original.jpg
A group of standing stones. Why are they here? Where do they come from? 
Format: Short story
Genre: Spiritual
Rating: G
Warnings: None
Characters: Aragorn, Arwen, Faramir
Pairings: Aragorn/Arwen, OMC/OFC
Summary: An ancient circle of stones attracts the attention of the Ambassador from Harad and his wife.




One afternoon in early spring, Arwen and Éowyn paid a visit to Lady Adiva. They were surprised to find their hostess unusually excited. As soon as her devoted maid, Falah had served the sherbet tea, she said, “Are the stones not wonderful?”

The other ladies looked puzzled. Arwen glanced towards Adiva’s hands and throat, thinking that maybe the devoted Tahir had given her a new ring, necklace or bracelet.

Éowyn was more forthright; “Stones?” she asked.” What stones?”

“The stone circle on the Pelennor Fields,” Adiva replied. “When Tahir and I went out riding yesterday, we chose a different route than the one we usually take and we came across the temple.”

“Temple?” Arwen sounded baffled.

“The stones form a perfect moon circle, a temple in which to worship the Lord and Lady of the Moon,” said Adiva.

“Ah. Estel told me the stones were very ancient and no man knew exactly what they were used for originally,” said Arwen. “He thought it might have been a kind of calendar by which the ancients marked the passage of the seasons.”

“Exactly,” said Adiva. “The first full moon of spring will rise directly above the highest stone and the Lord and Lady will convey blessings on all who witness it. I wondered, esteemed Lady Arwen, if my husband and I might be permitted to worship there next week?”

“I shall ask Estel to find out to whom that part of the Pelennor belongs,” said Arwen. “I am certain something could be arranged if the King requests it.

“My thanks, esteemed Lady Arwen. May the sun’s ray never burn you!” Adiva smiled her gratitude. “If we are permitted to hold the ceremony, we would be honoured if you would join us that you might share in the Lord and Lady’s blessings.”

000

Arwen raised the matter of the stone circle when she dined with Aragorn that evening.

“I always believed the circle was something to do with sun worship,” he said. “Master Elrond told me that ancient man venerated the sun in the same way the Elves do the stars. Maybe your grandsire might know?”

“Adiva’s folk dislike the sun, as its rays burn so fiercely in their lands,” said Arwen. “She is convinced it was built to honour the moon.”

“Maybe the ancients worshipped both,” Aragorn mused.

“It seems to mean a lot to Adiva that she and her family see the full moon rise within the circle if the landowners permit it,” said Arwen. “She has invited us to attend too.”

“I will ask Faramir to find out tomorrow,” said Aragorn. “Then I will send a message to Tahir and Adiva.”

The royal couple said no more on the matter, but concentrated instead on the delicious meal of freshly caught trout that their cooks had prepared for them.

000

The next morning when the King and Steward began their work, Aragorn asked Faramir to find out who might own the stone circle. The King then turned his attention to studying a lengthy and complicated trade agreement with Rhûn. He was about half way through the document when Faramir entered, clutching an ancient looking parchment.

“I discovered who owns the stone circle,” said the Steward.

“Who?” asked Aragorn.

“You do,” said the Steward. “Or rather the Crown does.”

“I thought the Pelennor Fields were sold off to the farmers who tended the land in the reign of Calimehtar,” said Aragorn.

“When King Calimehtar sold off the land to the tenant farmers no one wanted to buy the field where the stones were,” said Faramir. “It was offered to several possible buyers, but two feared the stones would damage their ploughs, a third complained the stones would be impossible to remove and two more claimed the presence of the ancient stones unnerved them. Calimehtar decided it would be less trouble to keep the land rather than try to foist it off on some reluctant buyer.”

“Well that is good news for Tahir and Adiva then,” said Aragorn. “Some of the farmers might have objected to the use of their land for a religious ritual of a former enemy, especially so close to the anniversary of the great battle. For my part, worshipping the moon is as good a use for the stone circle as any other. I have always found the moon faith to be benign.”

“Welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, love the land, shun what is evil,and succour those in need, are the main tenets of Tahir and Adiva’s faith,” said Faramir.

“Members of their tribe who follow those beliefs once saved my life,” said Aragorn. ”Their beliefs are not very different to those of the Faithful. I think I shall accept their invitation to greet the spring moon. It will be a chance to ride out before the New Year celebrations have to occupy my time. Who would not want to celebrate this fair time of year?”

“I will come too,” said Faramir. “Éowyn and the children are returning to Ithilien tomorrow. It should be a pleasant way to spend an evening.”

“I will send a message telling Tahir and Adiva they can hold their ceremony,” said Aragorn. “I promised them I would tell them today.”

 

“They will be pleased,” said Faramir. “I hope, though, that they will not attract hostile attention from folk who have no love for Harad.”

 

“It is an isolated spot. I doubt they will be disturbed and they should be able to follow their faith in peace in my land. I would not act like the Dark Lord!”

“I agree with you,” said Faramir. “I just feel uneasy. That is all.”

 

“We shall see,” said Aragorn. “Now I would welcome your thoughts on this trade agreement.”

0000

The night of the full moon was clear, but somewhat chill with a hint of frost in the air when Aragorn, Arwen, Éowyn, and Faramir rode out towards the stone circle. The air was fragrant with early spring blossom and the four enjoyed a twilight canter across the fields.

Tahir and Adiva were already present together with many of their household and their older children. The Ambassador was clad in ceremonial garb, a deep blue robe embroidered in silver with designs of the moon in its various phases, while his family were all wearing blue robes edged with silver in honour of the Lord and Lady of the Moon. Tahir and Adiva greeted their friends warmly and insisted that they stand beside them for the ceremony.

“Gracious Lord and Lady, we greet you at the hour of your union!” intoned Tahir, raising his arms towards the heavens.

“Gracious Lord and Lady, we seek your blessings upon us,” cried Adiva. “Hide your light not from us!”

As she spoke, the full moon appeared from behind the largest stone and the circle was bathed in silver light. High above the moon, bright stars twinkled. It was an awesome sight. No one spoke for a few moments as they drank in the beauty of the night sky.

Tahir and Adiva led their household in a hymn of praise to the moon.

“Behold how Lady Varda’s stars shine amongst the stones!” Arwen whispered in her husband’s ear. “I believe this place is sacred to her too. Maybe the Eldar built this place? I believe this circle is indeed a temple.”

“I have an idea,” said Aragorn. He drew her and Faramir a little aside to confer with them while the Haradrim finished their hymn. Once the ceremony had concluded, he called Tahir and Adiva to his side. “The Queen and I would like to give you this land to use as a place of worship,” he said. “We know you will cherish it and protect the stones.”

“Our joy overwhelms us, most honoured friends that you would give us such a gracious gift!” cried Tahir. “May you dwell forever beside an oasis!”

“The Lord and Lady will surely bless you with great abundance,” said Adiva. “May their light ever shine upon your path.”

“As I worship the One upon the mountain, it is fitting that you too should have a place to honour your Lord and Lady,” said Aragorn. “Your tribe always held fast to the light and are now turning your land away from the darkness that consumed it.”

000

Faramir was in a thoughtful mood as he rode home with his wife and the King and Queen. “Do you think that Lord Celeborn will be able to tell us about the history of the stone circle?” he asked after they had ridden in silence for a while. “It seemed fitting to worship here tonight with our former enemies so close to the anniversary of the great battle,” he said.

“I agree,” said Aragorn. “These fields need blessings after so much bloodshed. I believe Lady Yavanna has blessed our land since that time while Tahir and Adiva believe their Lord and Lady have blessed them too.”

“I wish I had thought to ask Mithrandir about the circle before he departed, but the stones were just something that were always there that I did not think deeply about,” said Faramir. “Maybe, if anything, I liked their air of mystery.”

“They were always a sacred place,” said Arwen. “The stars told me that tonight.”

 

“The horses seemed at ease in the place which tells me it is wholesome,” said Éowyn.

“Maybe it is better we do not delve too deeply,” said Aragorn. “The sacred will always be mysterious. Tahir and Adiva will bring new sacred mysteries to an ancient place. I believe a place becomes holy through the faith of the many who worship there, reaching out towards and praising the One revealed through the Great Music of creation.”

 

TBC

Eclipse of Reason by lindahoyland

 

Eclipse of Reason

B2MeM Challenge; Solar Eclipse
Since a partial solar eclipse is happend in parts of Europe, North Africa and a bit further a while ago, I'm wondering how the inhabitants of Middle-earth will react to complete solar eclipse, or what they will make of it. It would be particularly awesome if they were Elves who still carry the memory of the time before sun and moon came into existence.
Format: Short story
Genre: drama
Rating: PG
Warnings: racism
Characters: Aragorn, Arwen, Faramir, OMCS
Pairings: Aragorn/Arwen 
Summary: A solar eclipse causes unrest.
The list of Aragorn's titles is taken from "The lord of the Rings".
With grateful thanks to my friends on LJ for all their help and suggestions.
The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been nor will be made from this story.


It began as a perfectly ordinary day. Aragorn had spent the morning attending an excessively tedious meeting, during which the Council had debated for three hours whether or not the levy on silk imported from Harad should be reduced or not. By the time the debate was concluded, the King was hungry and looking forward to enjoying the noonday meal with Arwen. Faramir was also invited, as was Ambassador Tahir, who had been invited to put the case to the Council for reducing the taxes on his country’s imports.

The King and his guests were enjoying a glass of wine prior to the meal when the light began to dim.

“It looks like rain,” said Faramir. “Yet, there was not a cloud in the sky when we left the meeting!” He walked over to the window and looked out. “Strange,” he said, “the sky is almost cloudless, but there is a small shadow over a little of Arien’s brightness. I think it might be an eclipse! I have not seen one in years.”

“The astronomers told me that they believed one was imminent, but they are far harder to predict than when Arien’s light obscures Tilion’s,” said Aragorn. “I think I should order the Citadel Guards to patrol the streets in case the eclipse alarms the people.”

“A wise suggestion,” said Faramir. “They will remember all too well the foul darkness of the Enemy’s making that obscured the sun.”

Tahir had fallen to his knees in front of the window. He raised his arms skywards. “The Lord and Lady be praised! Today they challenge the burning one’s might! If my honoured friends would excuse me, I must go at once to the temple to worship the Lord and Lady.”

Arwen smiled understandingly. “Of course, we excuse you. You are welcome to dine with us another day, Tahir.”

Tahir hurried away while Aragorn despatched a message to the Captain of the Citadel Guards.

“Eldarion must see this,” said Arwen. “I will tell the servants to postpone serving our meal and ask them to bring a piece of smoked glass so he can safely behold Lady Arien.”

“He should not gaze at the sun for more than the briefest instant even through smoked glass,” said Aragorn. “I would not have him damage his eyes.”

“You are ever the healer, my love,” said Arwen. “We shall be very careful, I promise you.”

“I think I will take a ride through the City,” said Aragorn. “If the eclipse makes my people nervous, it might reassure them to have me come amongst them.”

“I will come with you,” said Faramir.

“I will be glad of your company.”

The King and Steward found that an eerie silence had fallen over the City. The everyday hustle and bustle had ceased. Few birds sang. The marketplace was deserted and most folk appeared to be within doors. Some folk stood outside their houses gazing apprehensively at the ever- darkening sky.

“There is nought to fear, ‘tis simply the shadow of the moon falling across the sun,” Aragorn reassured an anxious looking woman.

“I know, sire,” she replied. “It is just that darkness in the day seems so unnatural. It reminds me of the war. I shall stay at home until it passes.”

“That is wise, mistress,” said Faramir.

Aragorn and Faramir paused to speak similar reassuring words to others they encountered, assuring the people that the sun would return and this was not the work of some new enemy, nor the old one returned.

In the lower circles of the City, there were far more folk abroad in the streets and they all seemed uneasy. The presence of the patrolling Guards did little to ease the tension. Folk here lived by their wits and saw the Guards as a hindrance rather than a protection in their everyday lives, unlike the more prosperous people who lived higher up. Aragorn did all he could to ease poverty and ensure his subjects did not go hungry, but many of the poor were suspicious of anyone in authority.

The notable exceptions to the overall mood were the Haradrim, many of whom had come to seek their fortunes in Gondor after the war and dwelt in the somewhat dilapidated first circle while working towards better times ahead. They were in a joyful mood and whole families were making their way towards the City gates.

The Guards at the gate eyed them suspiciously. “Where might all you folk be a- going?” he asked. “You don’t know something that we don’t do you? They say rats dessert a sinking ship.”

“We go to worship our Lord and Lady, honoured sir,” said one woman in heavily accented Weston.

“Let them through,” said Aragorn. “I gave them the stone circle in the fields as their temple and my permission to worship there.”

The Guard opened the gates albeit with bad grace, muttering under his breath about “foreign ways.” A small crowd of Gondorians had gathered to watch.

“I reckon them foreigners ‘have something to do with this here darkness,” said one man.

“It just ain’t natural,” said a second.

“They worship the Dark Lord,” said a third. “They be using dark magic to blot out the sun!”

“The Haradrim who worship the moon were ever against Sauron,” said Aragorn. “They fought because their leaders told them they must.”

“It didn’t stop them killing our loved ones though!” the man replied.

“Our long fathers taught us of the darkening of the sun, but did Sauron teach the Haradrim to veil Arien’s light at will?” said a fourth.

“Nonsense!” said Aragorn. “We are experiencing a natural event where the moon briefly overshadows the sun. It will pass soon and the sun will return.”

“Who are you?” asked the first man.

“Your King,” said Aragorn.

“The King wouldn’t be down amongst the likes of us,” said the second man.

“He is here,” said Faramir. “As am I, your Steward.”

Aragorn’s Guards moved closer, their hands on their swords. Aragorn gestured them to stay where they were.

“I am your King and I tell you there is nought to fear,” said Aragorn.

The three men and glanced at the Citadel Guards and slunk away.

“It is unwise to stay in this part of the City, sire,” fretted one of Aragorn’s Guards. “The people are afraid and restless.”

“All the more reason I should be here.”

“I beg you, my lord, consider your safety!”

Aragorn looked around him. The streets were deserted. In the strange half- light, all seemed calm enough now. The City seemed oddly oppressive, though. He would be glad when the sun returned.

Faramir looked up at the darkening sky and he was filled with foreboding. He guided his horse closer to Aragorn’s and spoke in a low voice. “ It is too quiet. I sense some mischief afoot,” he said. “I fear some attack on Tahir and his people.”

“They are out of sight at the Stone Circle and should be safe enough,” said Aragorn. “We could ride out in that direction, though. We would get a better view of the eclipse on the Pelennor and I would be glad to escape the City.”

“Thank you,” said Faramir.

Outside the gates, he could see the Haradrim hastening in small groups towards the circle. They were chanting a hymn of praise to the moon. He was struck with a sudden desire to join them in welcoming the eclipse rather than treating it as some disaster. “I have decided to ride out to the stone circle to view the eclipse from the Pelennor,” he announced. He gestured to the guard at the gate to let the small party through.

It had grown ever darker. A confused owl began to hoot as Aragorn and Faramir rode out across the Pelennor. Both men were accustomed to riding in the countryside at night from their Ranger days. Somehow, the darkness seemed less unsettling away from the City walls. A few of the brightest stars could be seen twinkling overhead.

They rode in the direction of the stone circle, which Aragorn had given to Tahir and his people to use as a temple, but they kept a discreet distance, not wishing to intrude upon their devotions. The Haradrim were all on their knees, singing hymns of praise to the moon.

The guards eyed the worshippers somewhat suspiciously. One murmured, “It doesn’t seem natural to worship darkness like these folk do.”

“They do not, “Aragorn said curtly. “They venerate the moon. If you lived in a land where the sun’s rays seared you mercilessly by day, you might well do likewise.”

One of Faramir’s guards spoke. “The sun was indeed hard to endure when I accompanied you, my lords, on your recent visit to Harad. A few days were more than enough for me!”

“Quite so,” said Aragorn.

The eclipse would soon near its climax when the sun would be completely blotted out from view. The worshippers’ songs grew ever more joyful.

Suddenly, Aragorn became aware of the sound of marching feet and shouting. He wheeled his horse around. His heart sank as his keen eyes made out a mob marching towards the stone circle. They were armed with a variety of weapons, no doubt left over from the War of the Ring. He turned to Faramir, who had also turned his horse around. “I fear your forebodings have come to pass,” he said.

“We must stop them,” said Faramir. “There are women and children at the stone circle”

Aragorn nodded grimly. Not to mention the threat of war with the Kha Khan and the prospect of many dead and wounded. The Haradrim who dwelt in Gondor were mostly peaceful folk from the merchant clans, but they came from a fierce people who would fight to the death if their families and their faith were threatened. The eclipse was nearing its zenith. It would last but a moment, but much mischief could be wrought in a very short time.

The guards had finally noticed the approach of the mob. “My lords, we shall escort you to safety,” said one.

“I am your King, the victor of many battles, not a frail babe in arms,” said Aragorn. “Shame on me if I should flee from a handful of rogues!” He drew Andúril and rode full tilt towards the angry mob. Faramir rode close behind him, his hand on his own sword.

Aragorn brought Roheryn to a halt a short distance from the mob. The warhorse pawed at the ground and whinnied, sensing his master’s mood. “Men of Gondor, go home!” he cried in his most commanding tone. “Your King commands you!”

“Begging your pardon, sire, but we can’t let those foreigners harm Lady Arien,” cried one. “They’re allowing Tilion to ravish her using the Dark Lord’s evil magic!”

“We mean to save Lady Arien,” cried another.

“Within the hour, Lady Arien will shine as brightly as ever,” said Aragorn. “An eclipse is rare, but it is natural and the sun is unharmed. Go home now and you will not be punished and no one will be hurt. You are stout men and true, but there is no enemy here, save fear.”

The men hesitated but did not turn around.

“Do you not trust your King?” cried Faramir.

The crowd murmured amongst themselves.

“I Aragorn, son of Arathorn, Captain of the Host of the West, bearer of the Star of the North, wielder of the Sword Reforged, victorious in battle, the Elfstone, Elessar of the line of Valandil, Isildur’s son, Elendil’s son of Númenor give you my word of honour that the sun will return. Now return to the City!” Aragorn swung Andúril aloft and cried out in a loud commanding voice.

There was a moment’s silence then the men turned around and started back towards the City gates.

Aragorn and Faramir watched them depart then turned back towards the stone circle, just before the last slim remnant of the sun slipped behind the largest stone. The stars twinkled brightly thought it was not long past the middle of the day. The voices of the Haradrim soared in praise.

Then within moments, a slither of the sun reappeared, looking like a crescent moon only far brighter. Aragorn and Faramir looked away to protect their eyes. The Haradrim began a lament, a mournful wailing dirge.

“How differently, our two peoples see the sun and the moon,” said Faramir. “We are blessed that we can enjoy the light of both.”

By the time, the two wheeled their horses about to return to the City, the sun was shining, though still partially obscured by the moon. The birds sang merrily in the treetops. It had returned to being an ordinary day.

 

TBC



The Darkening of Valinor by lindahoyland

B2MeM Prompt and Path: The Darkening of Valinor. Purple Path.

Format: Ficlet, chapter.

Genre: Childhood, drama.

Rating: PG

Warnings: None

Characters: Aragorn, Eldarion, Morgoth, Ungoliant

Pairings:none

The characters are the Property of Tolkien and his heirs.

"Ada, you're home!" cried Eldarion as his father appeared in his bedchamber that evening. He sat up straight in bed. "You missed the eclipse, it was such fun."

Aragorn planted a kiss on his son's forehead and gestured to the nanny to leave. "I didn't miss it, ion nîn, I watched it with Ambassador Tahir and his family in the stone circle."

"Why couldn't you have watched it with Naneth and I?" Eldarion pouted.

"Some of the people were frightened," Aragorn explained. "As King, it was my duty to be there to reassure them."

"I wasn't frightened at all," said Eldarion. "Naneth's maid was, though, she said it was like the darning of Valinor. What's that Ada? Did the Elves have holes in their stockings?"

"The Darkening of Valinor," Aragorn corrected.

"What's the Darkening of Valinor, then? I know Valinor is where the Elves and the Valar live, but why do they want to live there if it's dark?"

"I had come to tell you a bedtime story while Naneth feeds your sister and puts her to bed, but the Darkening of Valinor is a scary story with an evil monster best kept for the morning light."

"I'm a big boy now, I don't get scared. I wasn't scared at all of the eclipse. I like monsters too!"

Aragorn sighed and settled himself on the foot of the bed, disturbing the nursery cat who had been sleeping there. The cat gave him a baleful stare and started to groom herself.

"Very well," said Aragorn. "I hope you do not have nightmares, though." He remained lost in thought for a moment, remembering when Master Elrond had told him his story and wondering how much he should tell Eldarion. He absent mindedly stroked the cat as he began. "Long, long ago there was no sun and no moon and Valinor was illuminated by the light of two beautiful trees."

Eldarion looked sceptical. "Two trees? How could they be big and tall enough to light everywhere?"

"They were magical trees and things were different in that long ago time," said Aragorn. "Ask Grandfather Celeborn when he next visits, as your Grandmother Galadriel remembers the trees and would have told him about them. Our own White Tree is the image of Telperion, the tree that gave light at night."

"Oh." Eldarion lapsed into silence.

"Long, long ago, the King of the Valar, Lord Manwë , held a great feast and all the Valar and the Eldar were invited. The Enemy in those days was Morgoth and he was even more terrible than Sauron. He devised a wicked plot as he hated both the Valar and the Eldar."

"Why?" asked Eldarion.

Aragorn had to think for a moment. "I suppose because he was jealous of them. They could make beautiful things and he could create nothing."

"So what happened?" Eldarion demanded. "What did this Morgoth do?"

"Morgoth asked an evil giant spider called Ungoliant to aid him with his wicked plan. Ungoliant helped Morgoth reach the Two Trees by shrouding both herself and her ally in magic webs of pure darkness. Ungoliant drank the sap from the Two Trees and with it their light, after Morgoth wounded them with his great spear. The trees withered and died and Valinor was plunged into darkness."

"For how long?" asked Eldarion. "The eclipse didn't last very long. Was it for longer than that?"

"Fifty long years the darkness lasted, while by the light of the stars alone, the Valar created the sun and moon from two fruits that Lady Yavanna and Lady Nienna managed to save from the Two Trees."

"What a long time it took them!" said Eldarion.

"I doubt fifty years is very long for the Valar," said Aragorn. "That time is known as the Long Night, though."

"What happened next? Did the Elves get lost in the dark?" Eldarion asked.

That is another long story for another day, ion nîn," Aragorn said firmly. "It is time now for you to sleep." He dislodged the indignant cat, which had settled on his lap and rose from the bed and tucked the covers firmly around Eldarion.

"Ada?"Eldarion's voice trembled a little.

"Yes, dear one?"

"Could anyone destroy the sun and the moon now like they destroyed the Two Trees in olden days?"

"The sun and the moon are quite safe, ion nîn." Aragorn smiled at his son and walked towards the door.

"Ada?"

Aragorn turned back to face Eldarion's bed. "Yes, ion nîn. What else troubles you? I warned you this story might give you nightmares."

"I'm not scared, Ada. I told you I'm a big boy now. I just wanted to ask you if you'd take me to see the stone circle. We've passed it at a distance and it looks fun."

"It belongs to Ambassador Tahir now so we will have to ask him if we can visit. Maybe one day we could watch the moon rise above the stones if he agrees. Would you like that, Eldarion?"

There was no answer. Eldarion was already asleep. Aragorn made to extinguish the lamp. His hand faltered slightly as he thought of the Two Trees. He glanced out of the window at the moon shining serenely in the sky. He extinguished the lamp and went to join Arwen and his baby daughter. It had been a long day, but tomorrow the sun would rise again over a kingdom at peace.

The Kindler by lindahoyland
The Kindler

B2MeM Prompt and Path: “The gods were gathered on guarded heights, of doom and death deep they pondered. Sun they rekindled, and silver Moon they set to sail on seas of stars.” JRR Tolkien, Völsungakvida en Nÿja. Purple Path.
Format: Short Story
Genre: Angst, h/c
Rating: PG
Warnings: None
Characters: Aragorn, Ioreth, OCs
Pairings:None
Creator’s Notes (optional): A sequel to “The Trespasser” and “The Rescuer.” Morwen is herb mistress at the Houses of Healing.
Summary: Morwen feels unappreciated.

Back to Middle-earth Month 2017--Night and Day 

Morwen tapped on the door of the warden’s room early one spring morning.

“Come in!” called Tarostar. “Oh, it’s you, Mistress Morwen. I hoped it was one of the healers telling me they could work today. This fever epidemic has sadly depleted their numbers so I have sent messages asking for extra help from those off duty and retired .”

“Healers need herbs to treat the patients,” Morwen replied somewhat sharply. “I came to tell you we need to buy more ginger root and turmeric.”

Tarostar waved his hand vaguely. “Send word to the merchants who supply whatever is needed. I have no time at present for such trivial matters.”

Morwen left the room struggling to control her irritation. She might not be a healer, but what would the healers do without the potions and remedies she mixed to treat the ills they diagnosed?

She was so preoccupied with her thoughts that she almost bumped into Dame Iorwen.

“Oh there you are!” said the healer, who came bustling along the corridor from the opposite direction. “I was looking for you to mix me some raspberry tea, but as I couldn’t find you, I mixed it myself. Poor Mistress Andreth can’t wait all day!”

“She needs her ginger tea too to settle her stomach,” said Morwen.

“I know that, dear, I am her healer,” said Ivorwen. “You can bring some in an hour.”

Feeling thoroughly out of sorts, Morwen made her way to the herbarium and started work preparing elderberry tinctures to treat the fever patients with. She had not been working long when Barahir, one of the youngest healers came in. “I need some comfrey tea for an elderly patient’s arthritis,” he said.

“I would suggest a poultice instead,” said Morwen. “The tea can damage the liver.”

“Are you the healer or am I?” snapped Barahir. “I want what is best for my patients.”

“So do I,” said Morwen. “I do not make comfrey tea. It is too dangerous. Either take a poultice or a salve for your patient.”

Barahir almost snatched the jar from her hand and stormed out of the herbarium.

Morwen sank down on her chair. She knew she was ill-suited to be a healer, despite having training, but had always believed that she made a valuable contribution with her knowledge of herb lore. It seemed, though, that the healers thought otherwise. Morwen shivered and threw more wood on her stove.

The day wore on. Morwen could not get warm. She chided herself for being fooled by the spring sunshine and not donning an extra petticoat. Her throat started to hurt. Maybe she was getting a cold. She knew she should take some of the elderberry tincture, but she felt rather queasy and disliked the taste of the mixture at the best of times.

Her head started to ache as she methodically chopped herbs. She felt very tired but there was so much work to be done.

A few hours later, Dame Ioreth put her head around the door.

“Can I help you, mistress?” Morwen’s voice sounded strange and it was an effort to get the words out.

“I came to see why you had not come for your midday meal.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“You don’t sound yourself at all, dear.” Dame Ioreth advanced into the room. “You must eat or you’ll make yourself ill like my sister who almost wasted away. Why you look quite pale. I think I should examine you.”

Morwen tried to get to her feet to tell her to go away and promptly swooned.

000

Time had no meaning in this bleak cold place; Morwen might have been there for hours, days, months, or even years. She was in a tower looking out towards the utmost West. Somewhat to her surprise, she could see the Valar far away in Valinor. At least, she assumed the beings were the Valar. She had little interest in Celestial Beings. It was nothing like what the tales she’d heard depicted, though. It was a cold, barren wasteland and the Valar were grim and stern as they debated her doom.

“She must die,” said Manwë.”

“All the Secondborn must receive the Gift of Ilúvatar,” said Varda.

“There is no light left for the children,” said Yavanna. “First we must kindle the sun and set the moon to sail on silver seas.”

Much to Morwen’s amazement, the King appeared clutching a golden disk and a flint. With the flint he set the disk alight and cast it into the sky. She was surrounded by warmth and light. A familiar voice called her name.

Morwen opened her eyes to meet the warm grey eyes of the King. Beside him, stood Ioreth, smiling at her, her eyes filled with relief.

To her dismay, Morwen realised was lying in bed wearing only a nightgown. Why was she never at her best when the King appeared? She recognised the room as one in the Houses. Another worry gnawed at her mind. “My cat?” she asked.

“Don’t you worry, dearie, I’ve been feeding him. I brought him a nice bit of fish this morning fresh from the market. He ate every bit and tomorrow I'll see what the butcher has. His steak is very tasty or I might buy a bit of mince.”

“What happened?” Morwen’s mouth was so dry she could hardly speak. The King filled a glass of water from a pitcher by her bed and held it so she could drink.

“You gave me a right fright, dearie, collapsing like that, “ said Ioreth. “You’ve had the fever that’s been going around. Why didn’t you say something?”

“I did not realise I had the fever. I thought I merely had a cold and was tired.”

“We tried all the remedies on you, but nothing would work, so I sent for Lord Elfstone here, and now you’ll be right as rain after some rest and in no time you’ll be back home with your cat. We’ll be right glad to have you back at work too. It’s too much for my old hands chopping herbs for hours on end and that Barahir nearly poisoned a patient and Ivorwen keeps dishing out tea instead of tincture as she isn’t confident with mixing them and no one knows where anything is!”

Aragorn turned to the old woman. “Will you fetch Mistress Morwen some elderberry tincture, please and maybe ask the cook to make some broth for later?”

Ioreth looked at her and then at the King rather doubtfully.

“I don't need a chaperone, Dame Ioreth,” said Morwen. “I know and trust the King.”

“I won’t be long then, dearie,” said Ioreth before hurrying away.

“Does aught trouble you beside your illness, mistress?” Aragorn asked after she had gone. “I believe something had distressed you and your body was not fighting the fever as it should.”

“It is nothing.” Morwen sighed then realised the King would expect more of an explanation. It seemed as if he has somehow been inside her mind. The thought troubled her less than she expected it to. “I was foolish to be upset, but three people made me feel very lowly compared to the healers just before I became ill. I was feeling I am of little use.”

“You know how to act as a healer if you are needed to,” said Aragorn. “I am certain that what good Dame Ioreth said just now should convince you just how much you are needed here. In fact, the Warden would like you to take on an apprentice of your choice, as the Houses have suffered so in your absence. You could then devote more time to herb lore and the finer arts of mixing remedies and less to chopping and bottling. I have some books on Elven herb lore I think you would enjoy.”

Morwen smiled. “I should like that.”

“You should rest now, Mistress Morwen.” Aragorn rose from his chair to leave. “You should be back in your herbarium in a few days.”

“Thank you, sire. Thank you for rekindling the sun.”

“Rekindling the sun?”

“Yes, in my fever dreams it had gone, but you set it alight and cast it into the sky.”

Aragorn threw back his head and laughed. “I have done many things, but never did I think to make the sun rise! That is well beyond any power of mine.”

Morwen laughed too. “Be glad you do not have to make it rise on the morrow and every morrow after that!” Then she closed her eyes and fell into a refreshing sleep.

 

A/n. “The Fever” is influenza. Elderberry is a traditional remedy for colds and flu.


The Dark of the Moon by lindahoyland
Title: The Dark of the Moon

Rating: PG

Theme: The Stars at Night

Elements: Carnil

Author's Notes: This is part of my story “Circle of Faith”, but I hope may be read alone. It is actually the shadow of the earth that causes a lunar eclipse.

Summary: Arwen is invited to witness a lunar eclipse at the Stone Circle, but does the prescence of Carnil in the sky foretell danger?

Word Count:2038

Arwen reluctantly got up from the cushions on which she had been reclining. “I promised the children I would eat the noonday meal with them,” she said. “So I must bid you farewell. Would you and Tahir like to join Estel and me for the Day meal in a week's time?”

“Alas, most honoured friend, but we cannot. Next week is a day of mourning for our people.” Adiva wrung her hands sadly. “The cruel Wolf of the Sun will devour our Lord and Lady of the Moon. We must spend the day in prayer and fasting that he will spit them out again.”

“I have not heard you speak of the wolf before,” said Arwen.

“I shall tell the story to you as it appears in the sacred scrolls, esteemed friend. The Sun desired to rule both the day and the night and all creatures to worship him. He went travelling throughout Middle-earth. One day, he came across a she- wolf and her cubs. The wolf told him to go away as she wanted to howl praises to the moon. This angered the Sun and he stole one of her cubs and using dark magic, taught him how to devour our Lord and Lady. However, the she- wolf told the High Priest and Priestess of the Moon what had happened and they taught them special chants and prayers to make her cub regurgitate our Lord and Lady. Until this day, our prayers have saved them, but it is a day of mourning for our people.

“I am sorry,” said Arwen.

“Do not be, esteemed friend, for now we are free to pray for the rescue of our Lord and Lady. When the followers of the false Lord of Gifts ruled our land, they would celebrate and dance and sing while we had to pray and grieve in secret. Now we can practise our faith openly. We will hold a ceremony in the Stone Circle at moonrise and you are most welcome to join us, esteemed friend, together with your most honoured husband.”

Arwen was thoughtful for a moment. Although, she did not share her friend's faith, she loved to be beneath the stars. “I will think about it,” she promised before embracing Adiva and bidding her farewell.

0000

That evening, as was their custom, the King and Queen dined together.

“You look troubled tonight, Estel,” said Arwen. “You have hardly spoken to me.”

“I am sorry, vanimelda. I have much on my mind. This afternoon, the Guards found two merchants from Harad murdered in the first circle. This is the third such attack in the space of a few short weeks. Ambassador Tahir fears the rebel factions are gaining in strength as those killed were either favoured by the Kha Khan or fervent devotees of the moon faith.”

“How can you be certain that the murders are connected with the rival factions within Harad, Estel? There are, sadly, some men of Gondor who bear grudges against their former enemies.”

“All the murder victims had the Lidless Eye carved into their flesh either just before or shortly after they died,” Aragorn said grimly. “The Men of the West hate that mark too much to use it even on their worse enemies.”

“I know that remnants of the Sauron supporters are still active in Harad,” said Arwen. “But why should they kill their fellow countrymen who have settled here?”

“Tahir believes the murders are seeking to frighten the Haradrim to return home and weaken the alliance we have formed with the Kha Khan,” said Aragorn. “The prosperity increased trade between our peoples brings helps him retain his grip on the diverse tribes.” He sighed. “As soon as one rebel faction is defeated, another springs up. I will meet with Tahir again tomorrow to discuss the situation. But enough of such gloomy talk. Did you enjoy your visit to Adiva this morning?”

“She is always pleasant company,” said Arwen. “Today, though, she was lamenting that the Wolf of the Sun was about to devour the moon. She invited me to attend the ceremony at the Stone circle to prevent the catastrophe.”

“I had forgotten about the eclipse,” said Aragorn. “My grandmother always said there was trouble afoot if an eclipse occurred when Carnil was bright in the night sky.”

“I cannot recall my father saying anything about that,” said Arwen.

“It was most likely an old wives' tale. After what happened at the last eclipse, though, I am taking no chances. I am posting as many Guards as can be spared along the route to the Stone Circle. You should accept Adiva's invitation . I might even join you there myself, we should show our support for those from Harad who desire to dwell peacefully in our midst.”

“I always feel close to Lady Varda beneath the night sky,” said Arwen. “We shall accept Adiva' s invitation.

0000o

Arwen was in a thoughtful mood as she rode out of the City Gates. Watchful guards were everywhere. It seemed that every native of Harad who dwelt there was also on their way to the stone circle. Beside her, Aragorn was equally pensive. During the last few days he had seemed preoccupied.

He now turned to her and said, “I fear I have other business to attend to tonight, vanimelda, I will explain all later.” He melted away into the shadows. From those same shadows, another figure emerged. For a moment, Arwen thought her husband had changed his mind. Then she saw the newcomer was Faramir wearing a near identical cloak and sitting on a near identical horse to Roheryn.

“I fear I am but a poor substitute for your husband but I hope I may play his part tonight and escort you , my lady.” said the Steward.

“I shall be glad of your company,” said Arwen. “I trust Estel will explain all later.”

Just then Adiva approached them accompanied by her maid and her children. There was no sign of Tahir. “May the sun never burn you, honoured friend!” she said. “I am glad that you can join me on this doleful night. Alas, my esteemed husband is stricken with a sudden severe malady and he cannot rise from his bed! He said that I and our eldest son should lead the ceremonies.”

“Alas,” said Arwen. “That is ill news indeed. Have you sent for the healer?”

“My honoured husband had me send for him, esteemed friend, but he cannot tell what ails my husband and can do nothing. Our people are most upset. It is most inauspicious that my honoured husband should fall ill upon this doleful day. I did not like to leave him as all the servants are coming to the ceremony tonight, but he insisted.”

“Maybe Estel could heal your husband,” Arwen suggested. “He was to be here too, but other matters called him from my side.”

Adiva glanced up at the sky. “We must hurry or our prayers will be of no avail to the Lord and Lady of the Moon.”

Arwen had always been told that a lunar eclipse happened when Arien became angry with Tilion's pursuit of her and blotted out his light with her chariot for a time. She doubted, though, it would ease Adiva's sorrow to tell her this and she remained silent. The devout Ambassador's wife believed fervently in her people's faith.

It seemed that the entire population of immigrants from Harad were assembled within or around the Stone Circle. There were also a few Gondorians who knew this was an excellent place to get a good view of the eclipse. They stood a little way apart from the moon worshippers.

The moon shone brightly in the night sky. Arwen, as always looked for the Star of Earendil. How often when she and Estel had been courting, had she been comforted that it light shone upon them both. Tonight she could see Carnil's reddish glow nearby. She hoped that Dame Ivorwen had been wrong about it signifying trouble. She glanced around her. The presence of the Guards, hovering in the shadow would surely prevent anyone trying to disrupt the worship here tonight. The stars twinkled like diamonds against an almost black sky. It was beautiful and Arwen sent up a silent prayer of gratitude to Lady Varda.

Suddenly, a shadow fell upon the edge of the moon. The Haradrim let out cries and moans of distress. Some fell to their knees while others raised their arms to the sky.

Adiva and her eldest son cried out together in a loud voice, “Be of good cheer, great Lord and Lady, we, your faithful servants stand beside you in your hour of need. Cruel Sun, tether your savage wolf! The day is your domain! Do not covet the night which belongs to our Lord and Lady.”

The chanting and crying continued as more and more of the moon disappeared. For a while it appeared as if indeed some giant beast were nibbling at it. Time passed and Arwen marvelled at the patience of the mo0n worshippers. In her experience, the second born children of Eru Ilśvatar usually were restless and prone to fidgeting. In the background, the Guards coughed and yawned, but the Haradrim maintained their vigil.

When the last sliver of light vanished and only a dim reddish circle was left, the crowd fell silent, If a leaf had stirred in the breeze, Arwen would have heard it. The Haradrim began to weep and Adiva spoke a prayer in a tongue that Arwen had no knowledge of. She then started to howl like a wolf and the others joined her. Arwen shivered.

“Are you well, my lady?” Faramir enquired.

“I am, but the sound is quite disturbing.” Arwen had almost forgotten the Steward's presence at her side. In the darkness, he could easily pass as her husband.

She gazed up at the stars, which now seemed to shine more brightly than before.

A tiny sliver of light appeared on the moon's surface. The crowd seemed to be holding its breath as the sliver grew larger.

Arwen started as Tahir's voice cried out, “Return to us, Lord and Lady! May our prayers give you strength!”

“Vanimelda, mellon nīn!” He took Arwen's arm and led her away from the worshippers. Faramir followed.

“Did you heal Tahir?” Arwen asked.

“He was never ill. I am sorry I did not confide in you,vanimelda, but I feared you would wish to reassure Adiva about her husband's health and it was vital that all the Haradrim thought he was helpless and confined to his bed.”

“And I took the King's place tonight so everyone would think the City was devoid of her ruler and most of her Guard,” said Faramir.

“You gave me the idea, Arwen, as to how we might catch the killer who has been preying on the Haradrim merchants when you told me about the ceremony for the eclipse,” Aragorn continued. “I feared that the killer might next attack Tahir as the leader of the peace loving Haradrim in Gondor, so we laid a trap. We knew the murderer was a follower of Sauron and would not go to a ceremony to honour the peaceful moon deities whom they despise, so Tahir pretended to be ill in his bed, while I and six of my best men concealed ourselves nearby. We caught the killer climbing in through the window with a knife in his hand. The Guards took him away to await trial. He was yelling “All hail the Lord of Gifts” as we took him away.”

Arwen shuddered. “I am glad he will prey on the innocent no more,” she said. “It saddens me that although Sauron is no more, his evil lingers and-”

A sudden shout of joy from the Haradrim worshippers interrupted her. She looked up and saw that more than half of the moon was shining brightly again.

“There will always be evil but there is also much good,” said Aragorn. “Let us rejoin our friends as they celebrate.”
The prince's portrait by lindahoyland

The Prince's Portrait.

 

B2MeM Challenge:Eldarion, possibly other Gondorians - baby's first armour

This ridiculously cute photo of a kid cosplaying a young Eldarion is making the rounds over at Tumblr:

 

http://marta-fandom.tumblr.com/post/114847236279/eldarion

 

and I thought it would make for some interesting fic. What did Eldarion, his proud parents, or anyone else think of this finery? Is it new, or is it inherited from somewhere? What did Arwen think about seeing her child wearing the Evenstar, which neither waxed nor waned? What of the craftsmen who made it? I'd love to see what people make of different aspects of this post, and would welcome either an Eldarion-centric piece or something about other Gondorians' reactions.

 

Format: short story

Genre:Family, humour

Rating: G

Warnings:None

Characters: Aragorn, Arwen, Eldarion, OMC, OFC

Pairings: Aragorn/Arwen

Summary:Eldarion has his portrait painted.

The canon characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been nor will be made from this story.

<img src="http://www.silmarillionwritersguild.org/images/b2mem2015/participant30.jpg" alt="Back to Middle-earth Month 2015 Participant" />

 

With thanks to my friends here on LJ and to Medcat for editing.

 

 

 

 

“I think it quite absurd,” said Arwen.

 

“It is the tradition, my love, not only in Gondor, but for all the surrounding realms.”

 

“You are the High King; you should create your own traditions!” Arwen retorted. “Eldarion is a child of only eight short years, so why dress him as a grown warrior holding a sword?”

 

“He always enjoys holding Andúril when I permit him and he loves to play with his wooden sword too.”

 

“That is quite different. Every child likes to pretend to be grown up. The portrait should capture our son's childhood. He should be painted in his ordinary clothes playing with his puppy.”

 

“I am sorry, vanimelda, but this is an official portrait. We cannot have our own people, not to mention the Kha Khan of Harad and the other lords of the South and East, thinking that one day Eldarion will be less of a force to be reckoned with than I am. Much as I hope Eldarion will never have to raise his sword in anger; he must look like he would be capable of so doing.”

 

Arwen sighed. “Very well, I understand, but I still wish that my son could be portrayed as the innocent child that he is.”

 

000

 

When Eldarion saw the outfit he was to wear, he was even less happy about matters than his mother. “These clothes look silly!” he complained. “I don't want to put them on.”

 

“I thought you admired the uniforms the Citadel Guards wear,” said Arwen. “You told me only last month that you wanted to be either a Guard or a Ranger.”

 

“That was ages ago! I only want to be a Ranger now, and in any case the Guards don’t wear all this silly red and blue velvet, nor any jewels!” Eldarion scowled deeply.

 

“Your father has to wear jewels and velvets sometimes as part of his official duties.”

 

“Well, I don’t want to.”

 

“Well. you are heir to the Reunited Kingdom and this part of your duties,” Arwen said firmly.

 

Eldarion pulled a face. He brightened, though when he saw the sword he was to carry. “I’m a warrior now!” he cried, brandishing the blade.

 

“Not until you are a man grown,” said Arwen. “Now hold it very carefully and stop waving it around. Someone might get hurt.”

 

000

 

Farawyn was teething had been fretful all morning. Arwen was already late for an important meeting she desired to attend, when the children's nanny appeared.

 

“Please, my lady, I thought I’d better come and ask your advice. Master Eldarion just won’t sit still for the artist. He does nothing but fidget. He wanted his dog with him, but I feared that would only make him more restless.”

 

Arwen sighed deeply. “Ask one of the nursery maids to take Nimrodel in and play with her. Hopefully that will distract my son. Meanwhile, I want you to stay with Farawyn and settle her down. I am sorry, but I have to go now or I will be late. I will not be gone for long.” She gestured to her maid to fetch her cloak.

 

“Very well, my lady,” the nanny said somewhat doubtfully, but summoned a nursery maid to do as the Queen asked.

 

000

 

Aragorn was engrossed in studying the finer points of a planned decree concerning the upkeep of Gondor’s roads when he heard the commotion. First a series of piercing barks and hisses, then a loud crash followed by a scream and more barking. The sound came from the family sitting room. He hastened to see what the matter was.

 

An unforgettable sight met the King’s eyes. In the centre of the room, the artist’s easel and paints lay on the ground. Paint was splattered everywhere, on the floor, on the painting, on Nimrodel, and, in copious quantities all over Eldarion’s clothes and armour.

 

The spaniel was barking frantically at the nursery cat, who sat on top of a bookshelf, washing her whiskers.

 

Eldarion was waving his sword and shouting, “Naughty dog!” The artist was wringing his hands while the nursery maid looked about to have hysterics, as did the housekeeper.

 

“What has happened here?” Aragorn sounded stern, though inwardly he wanted to laugh. He took the sword from his son. “I have told you to treat swords with respect, Eldarion. Why is Nimrodel not outside in her kennel?”

 

“Naneth told Nanny that I might watch her play while my picture was painted,” said Eldarion. “It wasn’t her fault that the cat walked in and she started chasing it. I didn't do anything naughty. Somehow the easel got knocked over and the falling picture knocked over the paint and-”

 

“That is why she lives in her kennel and plays with you outside so she will not get into mischief like this,” said Aragorn, cutting short what he was certain was a long list of excuses. “We will send for the maids to clean up this mess before your mother returns. One of the grooms can take Nimrodel outside. Master Turin will have to return tomorrow to paint your portrait after I pay him to buy more paints. I want you to apologise to him.”

 

“I'm sorry, Master Turin,” Eldarion muttered.

 

The nursery maid looked glumly at Eldarion’s finery. “I fear Master Eldarion’s clothes are ruined, my lord.”

 

“We shall have to find him some new ones then.”

 

“Do I still have to have my picture painted, Ada? Sitting still is so boring and I hate wearing these stupid clothes!”

 

“Yes, you do, ion nîn. Why not watch Master Turin as he works? Maybe you could paint a picture of your own one day?”

 

“Painting is for girls,” Eldarion said glumly.

 

“I quite like to paint myself when I have the time,” said Aragorn. “So does Uncle Faramir. I do not think either of us are girls! Now go with your nursemaid and wash away the paint before your mother sees what a sight you are. You are covered in it.”

 

000

 

A few weeks later

 

Aragorn and Arwen stood in front of their son’s portrait. They were both smiling appreciatively. “It is such a fair likeness,” said Arwen. “This will be one of my dearest possessions. If any at Rivendell sail, I shall ask them to take a copy to my mother and father.”

 

“We will have many copies made so that the people can see what their prince looks like,” said Aragorn. “I should have listened to you to begin with, vanimelda. It is my place to introduce new traditions, not be enslaved by old ones. There should be plenty of time in the future for Eldarion to be depicted as a warrior. This portrait will help us remember him as a small boy when he is grown to manhood.

 

Eldarion’s painted likeness smiled at them from the canvas. He was sitting on the grass in the Queen’s garden, clad simply in a black tunic and trousers, while Nimrodel reclined on his lap. The only marks of his status were the white tree embroidered upon his tunic, a copy of those Aragorn liked to wear, and a mithril circlet about his head.

 

“I wonder however Master Turin persuaded both Eldarion and Nimrodel to stay still?” Aragorn mused.

 

Arwen laughed. “It proved quite simple. Eldarion played with the dog until they were both tired out before each sitting. I think they were both happy with the arrangement as was Master Turin!”

 

Night Terrors by lindahoyland
Night Terrors

B2MeM Prompt and Path:"And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good." John Steinbeck. Purple Path;

Format: Short Story

Genre: Angst, friendship, hurt/comfort

Rating: PG

Warnings: None

Characters: Aragorn, Faramir , Sam, Rose.

Pairings: Aragorn/Arwen, Sam/Rose

Creator's Notes: The story is set before the ban on Men entering the Shire.

Summary: Aragorn and Faramir discover all is not as well as it seems in the Shire.

"So what do you think of the Shire, Faramir?" Aragorn asked sleepily.

"I like it well. It is as green and fertile as Ithilien and it is good to see our friends again. I just wish the beds were a little larger, though."

"So do I," Aragorn debated whether to stretch out his legs which meant his toes would hang over the bed, or whether curling them beneath the covers and risking cramp was the greater evil. He and Faramir had been paying a brief visit to Éomer on an important matter of state and were now visiting the Shire or their way home. They were staying at Bag End as Bilbo had had a special room constructed for Gandalf's visits, which was furnished with a man sized bed and chair. It was proving rather cramped for the two former Rangers, though.

"I should like to bring my lady to visit Merry," said Faramir.

"We should see him tomorrow afternoon and can maybe arrange a visit," said Aragorn. He yawned. Weary after a day of travelling, the King and Steward soon fell asleep.

Aragorn was lost in a pleasant dream that he was beside Arwen in his own bed and when he kissed her lips they smelled like rose petals bathed in the first morning dew.

A loud shriek rudely awakened him. He sat bolt upright, feeling for a dagger beneath the pillow and finding none. He looked around the room, for a moment unsure of where he was. The room was dark apart from a low burning candle on the nightstand. He took a deep breath. He was in Bag End, not some place where danger might threaten.

"Whatever was that?" cried Faramir, clambering out of bed and reaching for his sword.

"It came from Sam and Rose's chamber," said Aragorn. He strained his ears, listening. He heard another cry then the soft murmur of Rose's voice. "I hope Sam is not ill," he said. He got out of bed and pulled on his robe over his night attire.

Making his way to Sam and Rose's bedchamber, he tapped on the door. "I heard a cry, is aught wrong?" he called.

After a moment, the door opened and Sam's head appeared. "Sorry you were disturbed, Strider. The baby gets restless when teething. All will be right as rain come morning."

"Is there any way I can aid you?" asked Aragorn.

"Thanking you, Strider, but Rose and I can manage."

Aragorn could do nothing but bid the Hobbit goodnight and return to his room where he told Faramir what Sam had said.

"If that was a teething baby we heard I am the Kha Khan of Harad!" said Faramir.

"I agree with you, but I cannot force Sam to tell me what is wrong," said Aragorn, pulling off his robe. "I suggest we try to sleep and see what we can learn on the morrow."

000

Faramir gasped at the size of the breakfast Rose had prepared. There looked sufficient to feed at least a dozen. The platters were piled high with thick crusty bread, creamy butter, cheeses, sausages, eggs, bacon and crocks of several different varieties of preserves.

"A Hobbit spread more than fit for this King," said Aragorn as he piled his plate high. "So how are things in the Shire, Sam?"

"Well enough save for all the big folk who come here to gawp at us," said the Gardener. "I was planting taters not long ago and a group of them just came and stood there staring as if they were watching a play or something."

"That should not be!" Aragorn said angrily. "I shall see what I can do to ensure that you are not treated thus in future."

"Things were way better when Men hadn't heard of Hobbits," Sam continued. "But apart from that, the Shire is thriving and things are growing just as they ought to. You should see the new Party Tree grown from the Lady's gift, Strider! If was as if she knew we would need her help!"

"Galadriel saw many things," said Aragorn. "We shall not see her like again, I fear."

"Eat up now," said Rose. "I hope the food is to your satisfaction, sirs. You must be used to fine cooks preparing your vittles."

"I have never tasted crustier bread or tastier eggs," said Faramir. "Our cooks would have much to learn from you."

"We make sure the hens are happy." Sam smiled. "It makes the eggs taste good when they are."

"I've some fresh baked scones, goose eggs and a nice bit of chicken for second breakfast," said Rose. "Then there's a loaf of bread to go with them or two if they are needed."

"It sounds delicious." Faramir loosened his belt, wondering how he could find room for any more food before nightfall.

Sam cleared his plate and put down his knife and fork. "Beggin' your pardon, Strider and Lord Faramir, but I need to water my herb patch before the sun gets too high. Are you coming to help your dad, Elanor?"

Sam left the table followed by his eldest child.

As soon as he had gone, Rose looked around somewhat furtively. "I was wondering if I could have a word, Mister Strider, in private like.

"Of course, Mistress Rose," said Aragorn.

Faramir got to his feet." I should like to take a walk round the village," he said.

"You should walk up past the duck pond to see the Party Tree," said Rose. "Sam and I never tire of that walk."

" Thank you, Mistress Rose, I will see you later." Faramir left the room.

"What troubles you, Mistress Rose?" asked Aragorn as soon as Faramir had closed the door behind him.

Rose twisted her hands nervously. "Sam won't like me saying anything, Mister Strider,"

"I shall not tell him you spoke to me," said Aragorn. "You have my word."

Rose continued to fidget. She then took a deep breath and said, "It's the nightmares, you see, Mister Strider. They've troubled him something dreadful since Mister Frodo left. He won't talk to me nor to Merry and Pippin for fear of bothering them. As you were in the Black Land too, I wondered if you might be able to help, you being a healer and all."

Aragorn reached out and clasped her hand. "I shall certainly do all I can, Mistress Rose."

Despite Rose's protests, Aragorn insisted on helping her clear away the dishes. It was not long before Sam came in from the garden. He sent his little daughter off to play with the new toys Aragorn and Faramir had brought for her.

"Would you take a walk with me, Sam?" asked Aragorn. "I should like to see the new Party Tree in the daylight."

"I'd love to show it you," said the Hobbit. "I'll just get my cloak."

King and Hobbit strolled together through the village. It was yet early and few folk were abroad. Aragorn at first encouraged Sam to talk of his family and his garden. Then he said "Do you ever suffer from nightmares about the war, Sam? I do and wondered if you did too?"

Sam flushed scarlet. "I'm sorry, Mister Strider, I shouldn't have told you an untruth last night. I'm just so ashamed!"

"There is nothing to be ashamed of. It happens to almost all old soldiers including myself."

Sam paused as if lost in thought. "Well, I reckon if it even happens to you too, maybe I can speak about it. I just feel so daft that I wake up crying and shrieking like a bairn. When I've so much to be thankful for what with Rose and the little ones and my garden and everything fair and growing and - " He suddenly stifled a sob.

Aragorn reached out and took his hand and squeezed it gently. "When did this start, Sam? When you came back from Mordor?"

Sam shook his head. He sniffed loudly and blew his nose in his handkerchief. "No, things were alright until Mister Frodo left. I had to be strong for him, you see and we'd talk about things together. Now, though, almost every night, I have such dark dreams. That Mister Frodo is being tormented by orcs and I can't save him or that Mount Doom is erupting and I'm choking in the ash and smoke. It's horrible, Mister Strider, just horrible!"

"I know, Sam," Aragorn said softly. "I have these dark dreams too as result of the war and other things that have happened to me."

"You are strong, though, Mister Strider."

"And so are you, Master Gamgee! Nightmares are the way the brain allows us to live normal lives during the day, as the bad thoughts have to be released. Don't bottle it up, Sam. Talk to Rose, or if you feel you cannot, to Merry and Pippin. They will understand. Then remember, you can write to me anytime in complete confidence. I will give you my seal that no other is allowed to break"

"I feel I have to be strong for the young Hobbits."

"You are good, Sam, but you do not have to be perfect. I expect it would help Merry and Pippin to talk too."

"You really think so?"

"I do." They had reached the new Party Tree. Even after a few years' growth, the young Mallorn looked strong and vigorous. They gazed at it in silence for a few minutes the resumed walking. Then Aragorn said, " Do you grow athelas in your herb garden, Sam?"

"I do. I used to try and help Mister Frodo with it when he was taken bad on the anniversaries of his woundings."

"Then I suggest you crumble a leaf in hot water at bedtime and sleep with the mixture beside you. It makes the air more wholesome."

"I will do that, Mister Strider."

"I will do it tonight for you."

"Thank you, Mister Strider. I feel lighter somehow talking to you."

"Remember, Sam, I am your friend and you can always talk to me. Now we had better get back, Mistress Rose will be waiting for us with second breakfast."

The morning sun had reached Sam's garden by the time King and Hobbit returned. They found Faramir outdoors playing with Elanor while Rose carried the baby round the garden, pointing out the brightly coloured flowers to him. Faramir was bending to allow Elanor to place a daisy chain around his neck.

"Is all well?" asked Rose." I was beginning to wonder if you were going to be late for second breakfast."

Sam smiled at her. "All is very well or will be in time."

 
The May Cup by lindahoyland

The May Cup by Linda Hoyland

Rating G

Little Eldarion wants to make a guest feel welcome.

I borrowed these characters from Tolkien and make no money from this story.

With thanks to Med Cat.

Eldarion was bored. He was supposed to be playing with his wooden bricks, but the castle he was building was the wrong shape and he'd already built two forts and three castles and knocked them down again. He wanted his mother or father to play with him, but they were engrossed in a conversation. It was very boring, but Eldarion listened, hoping they would start talking about something more interesting soon.

"I think everything is ready for the Emperor of Rhûn's visit," said Aragorn.

"I hope we have done all we can," said Arwen. "I know nothing about him or his people,though."

"They are a fierce but highly cultured people," said Aragorn. "Both the men and the women have a great fondness for fine garments and make up."

"We must do our best to make our visitors feel at home," said Arwen. "You will help us welcome him, Eldarion, will you not? You are a big boy now."

Eldarion beamed."Of course, I'll help. I promise."

"Thank you." Arwen turned her attention to Eldarion's bricks. "Shall we build something together, or would you rather I tell you a story?"

"I'd like a story,please."

Arwen smiled and began to tell her son a story about her childhood.

000

Later that night when Eldarion was supposed to be asleep in bed, he pondered on his mother's words. This was the first time he had been allowed to help entertain a visiting ruler, apart from King Éomer, who was more like a sort of uncle than a king anyway. The little boy was determined to make the Emperor of Rhûn feel at home and make his parents proud of him. The only problem was how? He could show him his favourite toys and invite him to play with them like he did with King Éomer , but somehow he didn't think that was what his mother meant. What had his father said? That the Emperor liked nice clothes and May Cups. Well, he didn't think his clothes were any use to the Emperor as they would be too small, so he would have a to find him a May Cup. What was a May Cup, though? It was July now and Eldarion hadn't noticed people using different cups in May, unless he had forgotten. His father would surely know as Ada knew everything. With that comforting thought, Eldarion fell asleep.

000

The next morning, Eldarion managed to sneak away from his nanny and make his way to his father's study. To his relief, the door was open as a servant was bringing Aragorn his mid morning refreshments. The King dismissed the servant and turned to his son, "What are you doing in here, Eldarion? You are supposed to be in the nursery."

"Can I ask you a question, Ada?"

"Of course, but I have to return to my work soon." Aragorn smiled encouragingly at the little boy. "Would you like a honey cake?" He gestured towards the tray on his desk.

Eldarion took one and nibbled it for a moment, then he said,"What is a May Cup?"

For a moment, Aragorn looked puzzled and stroked his beard thoughtfully. Then his expression cleared. "Ah, you must mean the Goblet of the Dúnedain. This is one of our ancient treasures which belong to our family. In the North, we hold a great festival on May Day to honour Lady Yavanna." He went over to a cupboard behind his desk and took out a small goblet. It looked very old and was engraved with a pattern of leaves and set with green gems. "The Chieftain asks Lady Yavanna to make the land and the people fruitful and we drink from this goblet."

"Is she even in Rhûn ?"

"She dwells in Gondor and Rhûn, and in Rohan, and all of Middle-earth," said Aragorn.

Before Eldarion could say anything else, his nanny appeared looking flustered. "Ah there you are, Master Eldarion!" she cried. "I'm sorry, sire, if he disturbed you."

"Not at all," said the King. "I was just taking my mid morning refreshment and my son decided to join me. It is time he return to the nursery now, though. I will see you later, Eldarion."

000

Eldarion didn't see his father that night as the Emperor arrived and spent the evening talking to the King in his study. There was a formal reception the next day that Eldarion had been told he could attend.

Now that his father had shown him the May Cup, Eldarion decided he would welcome the visitor by offering him a drink of water in the goblet. How proud his father would be.

Early the next morning, before his nanny was up, he went to his father's study. The door was open, but there was no sign of his father. The cup was in the cupboard where he had seen his father put it the day before. Eldarion hesitated for a moment, then recalled his father's words about it belonging to the family. That meant it was his as well as Ada's. He slipped the cup in the pocket of his robe, then when his nanny helped him dress, transferred it to his tunic pocket. She was distracted this morning and chattering about the Emperor's visit.

When Eldarion was taken to join his parents in the Great Hall, he found them looking troubled.

"It has gone," Aragorn told Arwen in a low voice. "I showed it to the Emperor last night and now it has gone!"

"Who else has been there?" asked Arwen.

"Only trusted servants whose honesty has been proved over the years. The Guards stationed in the corridors saw no intruders. If the Emperor has stolen it, it is a gross insult!"

"You cannot just accuse him. It could lead to war. And what of the treaty we hope for?"

Before Aragorn could answer, the Emperor and his Entourage entered. Eldarion could not but help staring. The Emperor was dressed in a bright red and yellow robe and his face was heavily painted.

While the formal introductions were being made, Eldarion went to where a servant stood at the side with a jug of wine and asked him to fill the goblet. Used to doing what he was told, the man complied.

Eldarion then walked up to the Emperor and offered him the cup. "Welcome to Gondor, my lord. I bring you the May Cup to welcome you."

For an an instant, the King and Queen stared dumbfounded. Aragorn was the first to regain his composure. "May Lady Yavanna grant us her blessings and friendship between our nations forever flourish!"

The Nobles of Gondor echoed his words. The Emperor took the cup and drank from it, then returned it to Eldarion. He was smiling.

000

"Whatever were you thinking of, taking the Goblet of the Dúnedain?" Aragorn demanded when he was alone with Eldarion later that day. The two were in his study with the goblet on his desk. "I thought the Emperor had taken it. You could have caused a serious incident ion nîn, or maybe even a war!"

"I would have asked you but you weren't in your study and you said the cup belonged to our family. I was trying to make the Emperor feel welcome and I heard you say he liked May Cups."

Aragorn stared at his son in bewilderment. "May Cups?"

"Yes, cups to drink out of in May, and you told me that goblet was a May Cup. I didn't think it mattered that it isn't May."

Aragorn suddenly burst out laughing. "I said make up, not a May Cup."

"But they sound just the same!" Eldarion protested.

"I suppose they do," Aragorn conceded. "You will know little of make up since your mother is too fair to have need of it. Make up is face paint like rouge and powder."

"I'm sorry," said Eldarion.

"You are forgiven as long as you don't take family heirlooms without asking again. All has worked out well, as the Emperor thought we were honouring his favourite deity. It seems he too reveres Yavanna, albeit under another name. He has signed a treaty which will ensure peace and prosperity for both our lands." Aragorn picked up the cup and regarded it thoughtfully. "This has languished too long in a cupboard. Next May, whether we are in Gondor or Arnor, we will celebrate Yavanna's feast with dancing and feasting."

"That sounds fun," said Eldarion, jumping with excitement.

"We will go out into the countryside and enjoy the festival," said Aragorn. " It is time this was a May Cup again."

A/n. This story is based on my believing as a young child like make up was a cup to be used in May after overhearing a conversation my parents had. Written for the "Misunderstandings" Teitho challenge where it was placed first.

 


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