“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.