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."
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.