Author: Athea (email@example.com)|
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Title: Bindings of Love, part 6
Summary: Their journey continues.
Date: 28 August 2004
********* Eomer *********
The smoking ruins of a wagon and horses smoldered in the early morning sunlight. The stink of burned flesh was heavy in the air. Whoever had been attacked, they'd died hard. It looked like Orc work to me but gazing at the open plain around us, I wondered where they had disappeared. Shaking my head, I gave the order to bury the charred corpses in a common grave. Captain Karon came back to me from his hunt for tracks.
"Sir, it appears to have been a troop of fifteen Uruk-Kai. From the leather work, it looks like a small group of about six Romish traders who were attacked." He scratched his jaw and gazed at the pit being dug. "There were no survivors and the Uruk fled into Fangorn. The old forest still hates them so . . . why would they do that?"
Shaking my head, I put my helmet back on. "I don't know why those beasts do what they do but we'll talk to the first set of Elves that come through to see if anyone has talked to the trees lately."
"It still sounds strange when I hear that." A broad grin spreading across his face, Karon shook his head.
"Me, too," I said companionably. "The world has changed, my friend."
"For the better, my king," He winked at me and I smiled back.
My kingdom was still an evolving being, contrary as any woman, but every day brought me a step closer to being the kind of king my uncle had been. And just maybe after a century of being at war, I could become a ruler of peace. I was tired of the constant fighting but slowly over the last two years such atrocities as these had grown much fewer. I didn't like to think it was starting up again so close to our council meeting at Helms Deep.
I was looking forward to seeing Aragorn and Faramir again. And if I had to admit it, I couldn't wait to see the unlikely pairing of the Elf and his Dwarf. From the moment I'd laid eyes on a fierce Legolas, my heart had ceased to be my own. The very thought of him with the stout but short warrior made me grimace. How was it possible? And how was it possible he'd birthed their children?
Frowning, I nudged my horse forward with a signal to the men to follow. All too soon I'd be able to see it for myself and my heart fluttered at the thought. I'd have to hide my feelings but I'd been doing that for years. Everyone I'd ever loved had left me, if not permanently like my King and cousin then semi-permanently like my sister. It appeared I was destined to be a friend and uncle. I sighed and picked up the pace.
Destiny could go sod itself.
********* Faramir *********
I smiled and nodded to both sides of me while picking up the pace down the long corridor and the safety of my wife's boudoir. The council of elders was intent on driving me insane and you'd swear I was going to be gone for months instead of weeks. Gritting my teeth, I kept my 'thinking' face on.
"Gentlemen," halting before the green paneled door, I turned to face them. Only six but they'd made enough commotion for sixty. "I will take your words under advisement. However, time is short and I must confer with my wife about our journey. We are leaving tomorrow morning and we have many last minute details to take care of. I have complete confidence in your ability to keep the kingdom running while the King and I are gone. Good day, gentlemen."
The door opened miraculously behind me and a beloved voice came over my shoulder while a strong hand gripped mine. "It's my turn, darling. Good-day, Gentlemen."
And I was safe . . . on the other side of the door . . . with strong arms to pull me close and soft lips light as a butterfly's wings to soothe me. "Thank you, Eowyn."
Her laugh was gentle and her arms released me. "You're quite welcome, love. I am going to put you to work though. My ladies," she paused with a slight roll of her eyes, "insist we take my entire wardrobe. Use some of that masterly diplomacy for me so we can keep our caravan less than a mile long, please."
I chuckled and hugged her close for a moment before letting go. "I'll do my best but at least one wagon is needed for our son's things alone."
"Too true," she rolled her eyes again. "They are trying to turn him into a popinjay. I rejoice he will be spending time with my brother soon. We'll see if he's got a bit of Rohan in him."
I slid my hand down her arm to bring her fingers up to my lips. "My lady, his spirit and beauty come directly from you. Eomer is welcome to teach him about his other country."
She blushed a little, still not used to heartfelt compliments even after two years as my wife and all the courtiers of Gondor. "If my brother would settle down and marry, our son would have a playmate in his lessons. I'm taking Corona, Lizabet and Mara with me to tempt him."
Her three most beautiful and accomplished ladies-in-waiting, I thought with a smile. How could I tell her Eomer would be more likely to settle down with Darien or Setin, my assistants? Perhaps I'd leave that awakening for another day, I decided and began to follow her directions. We were going to be an interesting sight, strung out along the newly finished road that linked the two kingdoms.
At least six wagons, maybe eight I thought while directing two servants which one to put the twelfth trunk in. I wondered if we were going to change clothes three times a day but decided not to mention that thought after hearing a debate on spring colors versus summer. Whatever my beautiful wife wore would be fine with me, she was all I would see when we gathered at Helm's Deep.
Although I was curious what the Elven Queen Galadriel would look like as a newly made mother. Would she seem less ethereal than she had at the crowning of our king? Would she carry him everywhere as Eowyn had our son for the six months of his life? Did elven babies attract dirt like human babies did? If there was a constant in the universe, that was it.
Set little Boro down on his pristine blanket and he'd soon sport a smudge of dirt on his nose or cheek. I don't know how he did it but he inherited an attraction for earth. Eowyn never seemed to mind when it was the three of us but she did get a tad defensive when others were near. Perhaps all new mothers were like that, I wondered silently. I had no memories of my mother since she'd died birthing me.
I sincerely hoped my son had better memories of his father than I did of mine. Every night when I helped tuck him in, I told him how much I loved him. Not just silently but out loud for everyone in the nursery to hear. I never wanted my little Boromir to wonder about how I felt. I also made sure I spent at least an hour a day with him. That would be harder to do once he was older but I was determined he would know me as more than a tall figure in the distance.
Shaking my head to clear my melancholy thoughts, I went back to packing the wagons.
********* Aragorn *********
I heaved a sigh of relief and tried not to let it show but Arwen giggled anyway. I slid an admonishing look to her but she just stuck her tongue out at me. No doubt about it, she loved keeping me humble. Eldarion joined in her giggle and I dropped a kiss on his silky dark hair. He was sitting before me on Roheryn's back and at a little over two years old, he would soon want a pony of his own.
The stable master had a foal he was watching and I thought he would do nicely.
"Papa, how long 'til we get there?" The piping voice came before we were a mile out of the gates.
Arwen lifted an eyebrow at me and hid her grin.
"It's going to be seven days before we meet up with Prince Faramir and his family."
"Seven days," he said with a little wrinkle between his eyes, "that's seven whole sleeps, Papa. That's very, very far away."
I chuckled and handed him the reins. "It is far away, son. But we'll take turns in the wagons and I'm pretty sure your nurse brought all your favorite games and books. You'll find the time goes quickly when you're traveling through new lands and seeing new sights. Your mother and I have lots of stories about this journey."
"Stories," he snuggled happily back against me. "Tell me one now, Papa."
My imperious little prince, I thought with a smile. He grew more like Elrond everyday. I spun a story out about the wild horses we could see in the distance. His eager questions awakened the teacher in me and I thought back to the Halflings at the beginning of our fellowship. I'd missed that in the years between then and now. But I had a son to train and I settled in to begin his lessons in trail lore.
I made a mental note to make sure we had time set aside to teach him the wood craft I'd learned from my father before his death. Arwen would also be a good instructor when it came time for the herbal lore she'd learned from Elrond. But that brought up the odd feelings I had about my mentor and Glorfindel. They'd created a child like Arwen and I had; borne it and would be bringing it with them to the council.
Her, it was a her, Faladel by name, I reminded myself. I just couldn't see it, couldn't see the stately father-figure of my youth rounded by pregnancy. But then I had trouble seeing either Gandalf or Galadriel great with child either. Arwen was still slightly bemused by the twists and turns our lives had taken but she'd dreamed the birth of her half-sister and that had seemed to calm her spirit.
She'd cheerfully quipped about exchanging tips on pregnancy with her father when next they met. I just hoped my grandmother-in-law had ceased throwing things. I'd never seen Arwen laugh so hard as when we'd witnessed the Elven Queen's temper tantrum. I had a new respect for Celeborn, who'd taken it all in stride and carried on pampering his wife.
I was very grateful Arwen took after her father. She'd been sweet tempered her entire pregnancy and only evidenced the odd craving or two. Legolas had written about Gandalf's cravings and I'd been grateful once again for Arwen's amiable nature. I should tell her that more often, I thought.
"Arwen, have I told you today how much I love you?" I asked her.
Her dark eyes shone into mine. "Why no, beloved, I don't believe you have. What an oversight on your part."
"I adore you more each day, my wife." I reached for her hand and she rode Asfolath a little closer so she could reach for me. "You are the greatest gift I was ever given."
She smiled sweetly. "I am glad you think so, Aragorn. Perhaps now is the time to tell you we are going to be blessed with another child come autumn?"
My eyes widened and my mouth dropped open. She was pregnant again?
Eldarion clapped his hands and giggled. "A little brother or sister for me, Mama?"
She nodded with a pleased smile. "Yes, sweetheart, a playmate just for you, El'."
I was speechless with joy and luckily she understood. Another child was indeed a blessing but not one I'd thought would come now. Eldarion was just two and it had never occurred to me that we might have a larger family so soon. Bringing her hand to my lips, I told her how pleased I was.
Perhaps this one was a little girl with all my wife's beauty and spirit. I could hardly wait to find out.
********* Thranduil *********
I was not pleased to be making this journey. A den of men to house a council that included Elves - that was sinking to the level of Orc-kind. I snorted and took a final look around the throne room. I intensely dislike leaving the safety of my home but there was no choice if I was to protect what was mine.
And see my son, a quiet voice whispered in the back of my mind.
No, I would not think of the traitor to my house - that . . . dwarf-lover.
He was cast from me and all that was mine. That reminded me I should check on my son, Nestor before we left. He was a headstrong youth but he would see reason in time. His inappropriate choice of mate had been taken care of and it only needed him to come to his senses for his training to recommence.
Humming an old tune, I strode down the hall to his suite of rooms. The guards outside his door bowed low and I acknowledged them with a brief nod before going in. Nestor sat at an inlaid table with a single candle, writing something on a single parchment. He stilled when I entered then stood swiftly to bow.
"Well, my son, I trust you'll be in a better frame of mind when I return from this cursed council." I wondered for the thousandth time why he had to take after his mother instead of me. In looks he was nothing like his brother, in fact he was almost homely. That a son of my house should be so lacking in beauty, well it just didn't bare thinking of.
"A safe journey, Father," his voice was still hoarse from our earlier altercation.
"Yes, yes, the roads are secure or so the scouts have told me." I eyed the parchment on the table. "What are you writing?"
He picked it up and handed it to me. "A letter to my little brother, I was hoping you would take it to him."
I slapped it from his hand to the stone floor then backhanded him after it. I hadn't been this angry in days and I hissed my displeasure to the impudent little whelp. "You have no brother, Nestor, so you needn't worry about writing to him. Once I return, there will be none of that ill-spawned breed to bedevil us ever again."
He arose, wiping away the streak of blood from a scratch on his cheek. "What do you mean, Father?"
Smiling, I patted his shoulder. I could never stay angry at him for long. "I have plans which are even now being put into action. Don't you worry, my boy, I will be avenged on the traitor to our house. Now, you be a good boy and I'll return to continue your lessons."
Leaving quickly, I paid no heed to his questions. He was nothing but a lad but he should have known by now of the honor of our noble line. It was sad but I would have to take care of the filthy dwarf and the demon-spawn he'd begotten on my former son. Once they were gone perhaps I would try to bring Legolas to his senses and return him to his rightful place by his brother's side.
I hummed that little tune I'd learned at my tutor's knee. It never failed to soothe me from a temper. I was a lucky elf to have such a good advisor. Negus had been with me so long, I couldn't quite remember a time I was without his sage advice. He was going to help me the way he always did. Such a fertile imagination he had, I smiled at his plans for the impudent pair of mortals who'd seduced my son.
Perhaps we'd pass their funeral pyre, I thought and continued on down to the stables.