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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jul , 2005 4:08 pm 
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They had spotted him. There was no way back now. And Elboron was coming towards him. It was like in the dream. For a brief moment, Faramir found himself surveying the trees and hedges about, searching for hidden bowmen, but then his attention shifted wholly to the small person now running towards him. If someone was out there intending to shoot him, so be it. But he would not waste another moment to finally greet his son.

His son, who had grown so much in his absence! Faramir could hardly believe how much. His hair had turned darker, too. As Éowyn had mentioned in her letters, the similarity between father and son had become more prominent. And despite his short legs, Elboron was running quite fast. In fact, he seemed to wanting to run even faster than his legs would carry him, clutching Horsey in one hand, and with the other flailing about to keep his balance.

“Dadi,” Elboron called, beaming, waving Horsey.

Faramir halted, striken. The fear he had harboured for so long, that his son would not recognise and indeed shun him evaporated with this single word. He felt himself beginning to shake slightly.

“Elboron,” he whispered hoarsely, but more words would not come as his throat was too tight to speak. Slowly he sank to his knees.

Elboron slowed when he was a few paces away from him, looking at him strangely as if last doubts about the other’s identity had come up. He cast a swift reassuring glance back to Éowyn, who only nodded slightly, then he turned back to his father. He hesitated briefly, then took a few steps towards him, holding out his hand.

Carefully, his own hand trembling, Faramir extended his left, and with surprising strength the boy caught and shook it. “Hello, Dadi,” he said gravely, mimicking what he had seen when the grown-ups greeted each other. Then he laughed merrily.

“Hello, Elboron,” Faramir managed to reply, before his voice failed him, and he pulled his little boy into a tight embrace. For a moment Elboron seemed unsure what to think of that because he stiffened, but then he laughed again and put his arms around Faramir’s neck, burying his face in the other’s tunic. Horsey dropped onto the grass behind them.

Faramir simply held him with his eyes closed. This was real. No dream. There would be no waking up to a cold reality. He was home. The relief and joy he felt were so poignant and wonderful that they hurt. Feeling Elboron stir, he opened his eyes and slightly released his hold, fearing he had clutched him too tightly. Elboron had spotted the sling, and drew back a little to be able to see it better. He looked at Faramir questioningly. “Dadi hurt?” he asked, indicating the white linen.

Faramir nodded, upon which his son reached for his right hand.

“Elboron make heal,” he declared, and blew on it. Then he looked at his father expectantly.

Faramir could not help it but laugh, and the laughter grew until it was as merrily as his son’s. He hugged him again. “Thank you, Elboron,” he said. “‘Tis much much better already.” With that he kissed the boy’s forehead, before looking at him. “I must say hello to your Mami and your brothers, too,” he told him, nodding towards where Éowyn still stood, watching them. He felt a deep stab when he beheld her. Her face was pale and drawn, and her eyes reddened from crying. He recalled the washer-woman’s words. Obviously she had had a rough night – only one of many, too many. And yet, there she was, his Éowyn. And to him she looked more beautiful than ever. “Will you bring me to them?” he asked his son.

Elboron nodded vigorously, taking Faramir’s hand in his. Carefully, Faramir rose, and stood a moment to prepare himself. “Do not forget your Horsey,” he told Elboron, and the boy picked it up.

“Go see frogs, too?” he asked when they set out, waving Horsey in the direction of the ponds.

Faramir laughed again. “Later, Elboron. Later,” he added softly, his gaze bent on the golden-haired figure that was slowly approaching them now.


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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jul , 2005 5:22 pm 
A maiden young and sad
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Éowyn had watched the entire scene apprehensively. She knew that it would be a blow to Faramir if his son should show fear or uncertainty now. Relief washed over her when she saw them embrace after only a moment’s hesitation. She watched them talk and examine the injured arm, and wondered how serious this injury was and how it happened. The injury must not have been too terrible if Faramir was allowing Elboron to handle it, she thought. Soon, she saw them stand and begin to walk toward her. Unconsciously, she felt herself do the same.

She thought they could surely hear her heart pounding as they drew closer. She watched Faramir’s expression turn more serious as he studied her, though the joy from moments earlier was still plain to see. She wanted to say something, anything, but her voice refused to let her. Her steps slowed until she stood still, watching them cross the last few feet. Now she could see the details in Faramir’s features, the new scar along his forehead, the tension that lingered despite the joy and relief, the weariness that he still carried. He looked older, with more lines on his face, and this time she was certain his hair was greyer than when he had left. But his eyes still carried the softness and warmth she was used to as he gazed at her.

And now he was hardly more than two steps away. She barely managed to whisper his name before he dipped his head and caught her mouth in a kiss. She wrapped her arms around him, careful to avoid the sling, as she felt his left arm wrap around her waist and draw her close to him. She felt she could not be close enough to him. When finally they broke their kiss, she hid her face in his neck, feeling the worries and fears of the past four months slip away as he continued to kiss along her cheek and ear. He smelled like the sea and salt, a combination foreign to one who usually smelled of the forests and glades. But he was home now, and Ithilien would soon reclaim him. She let her tears begin again, but now they were tears of joy and relief.

“You’re home, you’re home,” she repeated, not caring if he could understand her muffled words.

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PostPosted: Tue 05 Jul , 2005 1:55 pm 
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Faramir heard her words, but he felt unable to reply. In fact he felt unable to speak at all, and something told him that words were not needed now, and would only spoil the moment – this wonderful moment he at times had not believed he would experience. But here he was, holding the woman he loved as close to him as possible, almost fearing that if he released her she would vanish, and silently cursing his injury that prevented him from embracing her properly.

He buried his face in her hair that faintly but familiarly smelled of flowers and honey. He was shaking again. The relief and gratitude he felt were overwhelming and he simply let them rush over and engulf him. He held on to her to steady himself, as her letters and her repeated assurances of her love had steadied and encouraged him throughout these past months and helped him to see them through. But she was trembling also, he noticed. There was something wet and warm on his neck and collar. Éowyn was weeping – and he, too, he realised, was crying softly. Al-Jahmîr with all his malice had not managed to reduce him to tears, but now they were welcome, as if with their shedding the most painful memories were being washed away.


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PostPosted: Tue 05 Jul , 2005 3:36 pm 
A maiden young and sad
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Éowyn heard his shaky breaths and sniffs and realized that he was crying as well. She tried to hold him even closer, knowing that he only allowed his tears to come in the most extraordinary of circumstances. In fact, she had only seen him cry a very few times, most notably at the births of his sons. She clung to him for several more moments, relishing his warmth and solidness in her arms. Finally, she drew back slightly to look at him. Reaching up, she brushed away the tears that lingered on his cheeks with her thumbs. Her eyes wandered over his face, noting subtle differences that had not been on him when he left.

Soon she found herself caught up in another long kiss, not as urgent as the first but more gentle and tender. A small, truly happy, contented laugh welled up in her and escaped her lips as they broke their kiss and she rested her head against his chest. “Faramir, my Faramir,” she murmured, now glancing up at him, her eyes sparkling with joy.

“Welcome home, my lord and prince,” she said, a smile spreading across her face. “Your family has long been expecting you.”

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PostPosted: Tue 05 Jul , 2005 10:17 pm 
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Faramir returned her smile while gently caressing her cheek with his left hand, and brushing away some strands of hair that had fallen across it, studying her face. Although her cheeks were flushed and her eyes sparkling, and some of the pallor her features had carried earlier had left them, the past months had left visible traces. There were more lines about her eyes and at the corners of her mouth, and her face had become lean and drawn. But that would change again soon, he was certain. Now that they were together again many of these lines would vanish.

At her mock-formal greeting he laughed merrily. “And I have been longing to see them again,” he replied. “And apologise for having kept them waiting for so long. But I have not greeted all of them yet, have I?” he went on, glancing over her shoulder to where the twins were playing on and with the blanket. Elboron, not sure what to think of his parents‘ strange behaviour, had joined them, and was now teasing one – which one Faramir did not know –, with a flowering stalk of grass. The baby tried to catch it as he carefully brushed it across its belly, and both giggled.

Noticing that Éowyn had followed his gaze, Faramir laughed again softly. “Are these really the little ones I left you with in Nenimë?” he asked. “‘Tis hard to believe. What on earth have you been feeding them to make them grow so much?” Slipping his hale arm around her waist again and drawing her close, he kissed her cheek. “Thank you for looking after all of them so well, melda,” he told her softly. “And now I think you will have to introduce me. I doubt they remember who I am.”


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PostPosted: Wed 06 Jul , 2005 3:05 am 
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“I wonder how they could forget someone who made such a fuss over them when he met them for the first time,” Éowyn answered, smiling still. She returned to her seat at the foot of the tree, inviting Faramir to join her. Her smile faded somewhat when she felt him rest his left hand on her shoulder to steady himself as he sank down to the ground and saw him sway slightly. She gave him a concerned look that he returned with a slightly sheepish smile before turning his attention back to his sons.

“Are you well? Does Teherin need to see you?” she asked, unable to keep her worries quiet. She pursed her lips when he merely shook his head and indicated that he did not want to talk about it now. Elessar had seen to him after all, she told herself, and surely the king would not release him without him being well enough or needing further care. Trying to push these thoughts out of her mind, she reached for the nearest baby who by now was studying the newcomer intently.

“This is Meriadoc,” she said, lifting the curious baby and placing him gently in his father’s good arm. “And Meriadoc, this is your Dadi. He has waited a long time to come back and see you. Tell him what a good boy you’ve been.” She watched as Faramir cuddled and talked to his middle son, and felt a pang of sadness as she saw him try to move his injured arm without flinching so he could stroke his baby’s hair. This injury puzzled her as she could not figure out from what bits of information she had how he had gotten it.

Her attention turned to Peregrin a moment later when she heard him squawk with surprise. “No, no, Elboron, let me get him,” she chided gently. Her eldest son had tried to pick up her youngest under his arms like she had done with Meriadoc, but Elboron was not strong enough or coordinated enough to accomplish this task. He had managed to bring Peregrin to a half-sit, but was himself teetering on the edge of losing his balance as he tried to pull his brother to his feet.

Éowyn caught Peregrin and set him in her lap. He waved his arms and cooed at the sight of Faramir. Elboron crawled over and sat beside her. “Elboron take to Dadi,” he said, pointing at Peregrin.

“Yes, I know,” Éowyn said, taking his hand, “and thank you for helping, but you are not big enough to carry the baby, and I did not want both of you to get hurt.” Elboron pondered the answer, then either decided it was acceptable or lost interest, because he soon turned back to the grass-flower he had dropped and started playing with it again.

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PostPosted: Wed 06 Jul , 2005 8:24 pm 
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Faramir smiled when Éowyn took back Meriadoc and placed Peregrin in his arm. Nodding towards Elboron, he said, “It looks like you have had great help with the twins, and in general. It is touching to see how much he cares for the little ones. All the big brother.” He sighed softly. “I cannot describe to you how good it feels to finally be home, and to witness what you have described so vividly in real.”

He turned his attention to Peregrin because his son was tugging at his sleeve. The baby was looking at him with round eyes and making soft, funny sounds. “You have much to tell me, have you not?” Faramir asked him gently, carefully reaching for his small hand with his right. Peregrin grabbed two fingers and began to examine them. Then his attention was caught by something else, because he cooed and began to wriggle slightly in Faramir‘s arm, glancing towards his father‘s injured shoulder.

“What is it?” Faramir asked, trying to see what had so fascinated his youngest. He laughed when he spotted a small green and yellow spider lower itself from the tree and begin to crawl over the sling. “I wish I had a hand free to catch it and show it to you up close, but I fear I cannot move my right arm enough,” he apologised to the baby. “But perhaps your mother would like to assist?” he ended, grinning at Éowyn.


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PostPosted: Thu 07 Jul , 2005 2:52 pm 
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“I think the spider will make it close enough on its own,” she said, watching the insect wander across the sling. “Watch out that he doesn’t try to eat it,” she warned. Lately the twins had been testing whatever they could grab by putting things in their mouths. Eowyn could only imagine what sort of snack a spider would be. By now, Elboron too had realized something interesting was happening, and he scooted closer to Faramir to see the spider.

Hearing soft footsteps behind her, Eowyn glanced over her shoulder to see Rian approaching with a small pouch of breadcrumbs. She leaned down to give Eowyn the crumbs and whispered, “Almost everyone has heard and is happy for you.” With that, she withdrew again and returned to the house where the housekeeper was having difficulties keeping her girls in line.

“Would you want everyone spying on you and your sweethearts?” the housekeeper chided a pair of girls who had tried to sneak out to the garden. “They will come inside when they are good and ready to, and until then you can get back to your chores!”

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PostPosted: Fri 08 Jul , 2005 1:51 pm 
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Faramir cast a glance over his shoulder, watching Rian leave. “Is she not one of the Queen’s handmaidens?” he asked. “It was very thoughtful of her to leave you someone to help with the children. She seems a very capable person. How do the boys take to her? Do they like her? No, Elboron, wait!”

Turning swiftly to his eldest, he shook his head. Elboron had crawled over to him and had pulled himself to his feet. Now he was watching the spider that had almost reached Faramir’s right hand curiously, obviously deciding whether to touch it or not, and slowly extended a finger towards it. Peregrin observed him and the small arachnoid with fascination. Meriadoc, too, from his seat in Éowyn’s lap, seemed to follow the development closelyn and with great interest.

“Not touch crawly?” Elboron asked, with obvious disappointment.

Faramir shook his head. “Better not. You might hurt it. Look how small it is. If you squeeze it with your fingers, I doubt it would survive. And that goes for you as well, Master Peregrin,” he smiling told his youngest who was waving his small hand in the direction of the spider. It was amazing, he thought to himself, how quickly things were turning back to normal again. Here he was sitting in the sunlit garden, talking lightly and jesting with his wife and children as if he had never been away. The memories of the dark four months were still there, and he knew they would come up and haunt him now and again, but not presently, as if they had no power in this particular place.

Elboron giggled. “Peri eat crawly,” he said.

“I hope not,” Faramir replied. “And I also hope a certain elder brother of his does not encourage him to eat things that crawl. They do not taste too nice, do they?” Elboron made a face and shook his head.

Faramir nodded. “There, you see. How about you go and have a look at the pouch the lady has just brought, Elboron? Perhaps there is something nice in there.” He watched the boy dashed off to find the pouch Rian had brought. Then he laughed softly. “Do you remember when Elboron ate the butterfly last summer?” he asked Éowyn. “And came up to us all proud and cheerful with one wing still sticking out of his mouth? I still wonder how he managed to catch it.”


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PostPosted: Fri 08 Jul , 2005 3:29 pm 
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“He is clever, that’s how,” Éowyn said, lightly rubbing her son’s head as he came over to look for the pouch. “And you were right. That was one of the Queen’s handmaidens. The boys like her, from what I have seen. They do not give her much trouble, well, no more than to be expected. She has been a great help these past weeks for me.” At the dark thought of why Rían was here anyway, Éowyn reached up and rested her hand on Faramir’s hale shoulder lightly.

“Food?” Elboron said suddenly, having found the pouch of breadcrumbs. He looked quizzically at his mother.

“Crumbs to feed the fish,” she explained. “Maybe you and your Dadi can feed them while your brothers and I watch from over here. Does that sound like a good idea?”

Elboron nodded vigorously and twisted around to see his father. “Go Dadi?” he asked, holding out the pouch of crumbs for him to see.

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PostPosted: Fri 08 Jul , 2005 6:59 pm 
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“If I can get to my feet,” Faramir muttered, then he smiled. “Of course, Elboron. Please wait here until I come and do not run ahead to the ponds.”

He waited until Éowyn had taken back Peregrin – marvelling how she managed to hold both babies at once without either of the two complaining, and recalling how she had worried about the impending difficulties of having to look after two infants at the same time. Then slowly he rose, holding on to the tree to steady himself. He noticed that both Éowyn and Elboron were watching him intently, the former with obvious concern, the latter curiously, as if wondering why his father behaved so strangely.

Before Éowyn could say anything, however, “I am alright,” he told her quietly. “Just weary, and the shoulder still hurts at times. But it will pass. Actually ‘tis much better already, now that I am back home.” With that he stooped and gently kissed her brow. Running his hand along her cheek, he then extended it to Elboron who grabbed it and dashed off to the ponds, pulling his father after him and waving the pouch around with the other hand.

“Slowly, Elboron,” Faramir laughed, “or else both of us are going to land in the water, and then the fish will eat us instead of the bread.” Here Elboron slowed, apparently recalling what his mother had told him about feeding parts of him to the inhabitants of the pool.

They reached the edge of the pond that was partly grown with reeds and rushes and the sharp blade-like leaves of gladden, and partly set with large flat stones. Elboron crawled onto one and glanced down into the dark water. Waterlilies grew on the still surface that only here and there was disturbed by the leaps of a pondscater. Some areas were green with duckweed. Dragonflies in many different colours zoomed to and fro, or rested on the plants.

Elboron studied the water attentively, then suddenly he squealed with delight. “Fish,” he cried, pointing. But as the creature swam closer, he frowned, and gave his father a questioning look. Faramir glanced over his head, then lowering himself next to the boy, he carefully put his hand into the water and waited for the animal to come closer, then with a swift move he caught it and lifted it out of the water. Opening the hand again, he presented the creature to his son. Elboron studied it with fascination. “Frog?” he asked, but Faramir shook his head, indicating the creature’s tail with his thumb.

“Toad?” Elboron asked, excited at the possibility that perhaps something new he had not seen before was sitting on the hand in front of him, oggling at him with black and golden eyes.

“No, ‘tis not a toad,” Faramir replied. “Look, it has got a tail, almost like a fish. And legs, too. ‘Tis a newt.”

“Newt,” Elboron said, trying out the new word. Then he laughed. Cautiously reaching out to the amphibian, he touched it, and squealed and shrank back when the newt spun round to him. “Newt,” he said again. He produced the pouch and took a crumb of bread out of it, and offered it to the creature. “Newt eat bread?” he asked.

“No, they do not like bread,” Faramir explained. “They prefer insects and other small creatures they find in the water. Shall we set it free again? Then we can feed the bread to the fish. Look, there they are coming already.”

Elboron hesitated. Obviously he found the newt more interesting than the already familiar fish. “Elboron show Mami,” he said.

“I think your Mami has seen it from where she sits,” Faramir told him. “We can show her another time. Let us return it to the pond. It needs to be in the water, otherwise it gets sick.”

At length Elboron nodded reluctantly. “Elboron make?” he said.

“If you are careful, you may put it back into the water. Put the pouch there on the stone. Right. And now hold out your hands. It is quite slimy, is it not?” he asked when the boy laughed as the newt crawled onto his hands. “Now lower your hands into the water. Carefully. I shall take care that you do not fall in. Do you see how it wriggles, and there, it swims almost like a fish.”

“Where newt go?” Elboron asked, looking after the creature as it vanished in the deeps.

Faramir shrugged. “I do not know. Most likely they live down amid the weeds and waterplants, but now and again they need to come to breathe, like the frogs and toads. But here are the fish. And they look hungry, do they not.”

Elboron had already grabbed the pouch and begun to throw the first handful of crumbs into the water. He watched with delight as the fish caught the bread from the surface. “Mami, Dadi, look!” he cried.


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PostPosted: Fri 08 Jul , 2005 7:36 pm 
A maiden young and sad
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“I see, Elboron,” Eowyn called. “The fish must be very hungry today!” She had watched them walk over to the ponds with a renewed feeling of contentedness washing over her. There could be few things greater than the sight of this, her husband and eldest son together nearby while she and her littlest ones watched them closely. Indeed, the twins studied the pair intently for a few moments before Faramir and Elboron moved too far away for their interest.

“It will not be too long before you are able to join them,” she told her little ones, shifting them in her arms to a more comfortable position. Peregrin caught a few strands of her hair and held them tightly in his fist. She did not mind, as long as he did not begin pulling on them. Meriadoc picked up the edge of the blanket and after examining it for a moment, began chewing on it.

Seeing that her twins were making their own fun, Éowyn turned her attention back to the rest of her family, now moving around one of the ponds. Those two looked to be having a wonderful time. She watched as Faramir crouched down to help Elboron throw a handful of crumbs properly. Soon the boy jumped slightly, a delighted expression on his face. Éowyn guessed that more fish had come up to nibble on the bread. She caught Faramir watching her from across the pond and returned his look with a smile.

Is this really happening? she asked herself. Is Faramir truly over there, playing with Elboron like this is just another day? Barely an hour ago you wondered if you would ever see him again, and now there he is, just a few strides away from you. Sure, he is worse for the wear, but he is home, and that is what matters. She recalled the difficulty he had had in getting to his feet, and though he had assured her he was alright, she maintained more than a few worries about his health. His weariness showed plainly, and one way or another she would see to it that he rested soon.

Hearing Peregrin coo, she glanced down and kissed the top of his head lightly. He was busy sucking on his thumb while he watched his foot move. “How many toes do you have?” she asked, reaching for his hand and touching each toe on his bare foot as she counted. He squirmed and gurgled again when she finished and tickled him gently. Meriadoc looked around when he heard his mother’s voice, but soon he returned to his blanket-chewing.

“I think you two are getting hungry again,” Éowyn said, realizing that it had been several hours since their breakfast. The twins were showing signs of wanting to eat, but they were not complaining yet, so she guessed they could still spend a few more minutes out here before going back inside. “When your Dadi and your brother come back from feeding the fish, we will go back in and you two can eat,” she told them, glancing up to see how far around the ponds Faramir and Elboron were now. They had reached the far end and were starting to come back around the other side.

Éowyn was rather surprised that they had been left alone for so long. Since Rían had said that everyone knew Faramir had returned, she had figured that at least Turin would have come bursting out to the garden to see him. Or maybe they have decided to give you some privacy and some time to spend alone with just your family, she thought.

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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jul , 2005 7:42 am 
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When all the bread was spent, Faramir let Elboron lead him to the more marshy, overgrown parts of the ponds where the frogs lived. Proudly the boy explained to him what sounds they make and how they hop. Although Faramir understood only half of what his son was telling him because most of it was rather unintelligible, again he was astonished how much the little one had grown, and how many new words and expressions he had acquired during the time he had been away.

“Come on,” he said at length, ruffling the boy’s dark hair gently, “let us return to your Mami and your brothers now, otherwise they will think we fell in the pond.”

Elboron nodded, and taking his father’s hand again, they went back to the birchtree. “Elboron hungry,” the boy stated suddenly, then laughed because his stomach had made a distinctive sound.

Faramir laughed as well. “I could do with a belated breakfast, too. Perhaps we should return to the house soon. ‘Tis getting very warm as well, and we do not want you children getting burned by the sun. Also I would like to say hello to all our friends who I have not greeted yet.”

“Dadi say hello uncle Omer, too?”

“Yes, of course. And to Túrin and Visilya and little Vorondil, and Teherin, and Beregond, and Azrahil, and all the others.”

“Say hello horse?”

Faramir laughed. “Later I will say hello to Narâk as well, surely. He has been a great help to me, you know, because he brought your Mami a message about what happened to me.”

Here a shadow touched Elboron’s face, and he looked up to his father strangely. “Where bad man go?” he asked at length.

“I do not know, Elboron,” Faramir replied, now looking rather grave as well. “But the King is trying to catch him.”

“Bad man hurt Dadi?” Elboron asked, pointing at the sling.

“Yes, he hurt me. But it is not bad, and soon it will heal.” He could tell that Elboron had more questions, but apparently did not know how to express them. He only felt that the boy grabbed his hand more tightly, as if to reassure him that all would be well now. He was touched by this.


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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jul , 2005 6:38 pm 
A maiden young and sad
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Éowyn heard the last part of this exchange and frowned slightly. Elboron was far too young to have to ask questions like that, she thought, and moreover he should never have had to ask them in the first place. Then she sighed. But some things could not be prevented or undone, and this was one of them. Already he son had experienced more things than a child should ever have to. She hoped that this pattern would end now.

“Did you feed all the fish?” she asked her son as he drew near.

“Yes,” he announced, showing her the empty pouch. “Fish hungry.”

Éowyn laughed. “Then it is a good thing you were here to feed them.”

“Mami see newt?” Elboron asked as his eyes grew wide with excitement.

“Yes, I did,” she said, nodding. “You should tell your brothers about it later. Right now I think it is time for us to go back to the house. Now, if your Dadi would help me by taking Meriadoc…” Faramir leaned down and with a little help lifted the baby into his hale arm. Éowyn rose to her feet, carefully balancing Peregrin in her other arm and brushing some loose grass blades from her dress.

Meriadoc reached out his hand for her, whimpering slightly. She squeezed his hand gently. “Settle down, little one, you will still get to eat soon. I am not going to let you starve.” She picked up the blanket and threw it over her other shoulder, looking around to make sure nothing was forgotten. “Do you have your Horsey, Elboron?” The boy held it up to show her.

With that, they began the walk back toward the house. Now that Elboron was no longer able to hold his father’s hand, he clung tightly to the edge of his tunic instead. Eowyn slipped her free arm around Faramir’s waist as they walked. “I love you,” she told him softly, realizing that she had not yet reminded him of this. “And I am very glad to have you home again.”

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PostPosted: Mon 11 Jul , 2005 7:32 am 
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“So am I,” he replied. "I love you too." Leaning over to her, he kissed her cheek, and as she halted, her lips as well. That was slightly awkward because either of them was holding a baby, but neither did mind. They broke their kiss when Faramir felt Elboron tug on his tunic. Looking down to the boy, he saw he was pointing to the trees on their right.

“Man come,” he said.

“Yes, that is Mablung,” Faramir explained, watching the ranger approach them. “He accompanied me to make sure nothing happened to me on the last few miles. Let us wait for him.”

“Good morning, my lady, little princes,” Mablung greeted them as he approached, nodding to Éowyn and the children. He looked truly delighted, and Faramir was sure that he had watched the entire scene. “I was wondering if perhaps you needed some help, captain.”

“I think we will manage, thank you Mablung,” Faramir said.

“Well, in that case I will go ahead and inform the others you are coming so that they can all assemble to welcome you,” Mablung said with a wink. “Oh, and before I forget, here is something for the little ones.” With that he produced a small pouch and opened it. It contained raspberries.

Faramir laughed at the sight. “And I thought the berries were merely an invention of yours to ... well ... give us some privacy.”

“That’s what I thought as well, before I stumbled across them in the grove,” Mablung returned, laughing as well. Stooping, he handed the pouch to Elboron who had let go of his father’s tunic and had approached him curiously. “But do share them with your brothers,” the ranger told him. “If they are old enough to eat these things, that is,” he added, glancing at Éowyn.


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PostPosted: Mon 11 Jul , 2005 2:06 pm 
A maiden young and sad
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She shook her head. “I’m afraid they are still a bit too small to eat berries,” she said. Noticing how the twins were paying close attention to what their brother was doing, she added, “But give them another month or two and maybe they will be able to eat some late-summer blueberries. I know Elboron will enjoy the raspberries, and I doubt his father will resist sneaking a few once he gets a hand free.” She smiled at Faramir’s half-hearted protest.

“Elboron, how about waiting until you are inside and sitting down before eating any more raspberries,” she suggested, seeing juice stains appear around his mouth and dribbled on his shirt. The boy shook his head and shoved another berry in his mouth. “Elboron,” she repeated, her light tone replaced with warning, “give me the pouch.” Elboron hesitated, looking at Mablung and Faramir, but when he saw that he was not getting sympathy from either, he reluctantly walked over to his mother and slowly handed her the raspberries.

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PostPosted: Wed 13 Jul , 2005 7:37 am 
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“Come on, Elboron,” Faramir said, “let us continue to the house. I am sure everybody is already waiting for us. Moreover your brother is getting impatient for his food.” Meriadoc had begun to squirm in his arm and to whimper slightly.

Elboron still looked somewhat displeased, but apparently the idea of meeting his uncle and his other friends cheered him up, because he set out at a good speed.

They went on, and soon came to the orchards and herb- and vegetable gardens. Although they did their best to hide or at least to look busy, Faramir spotted a number of servants behind trees or “working” in places where actually they had no business because they were appointed to the house. As soon as they had passed them by, they would gather in small groups and discuss what they had just seen. He was sure that by the hour a host of different versions of his escape and Al-Jahmîr’s fate would circulate Dol Arandur and spread until they reached Minas Tirith, where they would develop their full bloom. He recalled that not even Éowyn had heard the account yet. He preferred to gather everybody and to tell them all at once, instead of having to repeat the tale over and over again.

They houses were in sight now, and Faramir felt another stab in his chest, both of joy at beholding his beloved home, and of anticipation, because on the stone-flagged terrace right in front of the buildings, half hidden by the large potted oleander-, lemon- and orange-trees that stood there, a small host of people had assembled. He first recognised Éomer in the front row because his fair hair caught the sunlight. Next to him were Túrin and Visilya, and Teherin. Some of the rangers he spotted as well, and a vast number of guards and servants, Beregond and his family and Rían among them. The chief cook was there, too, already pressing what looked like her apron to her eyes. And standing a little to the left of the throng as if reluctant to join them, was Azrahil, looking quite strange and unfamiliar in his Gondorian garb.

Someone must have spotted them, because suddenly there was movement in the crowd, and then a cheer like a thunderstorm broke loose. As they approached the stairs that led up to the terrace, some servant-girls detached themselves from the crowd and approached them, carrying baskets. Faramir wondered what these might contain, until the first shower of small lavender-flowers and rose-petals hit him. He heard Elboron laugh merrily, and saw him hob about to try and catch some of the petals, then his attention shifted to Meriadoc who had simply grabbed some that had gathered on his shirt and on his father’s arm and stuffed them in his mouth. Now Faramir laughed as well.

“Not so greedy, little one,” he scolded him gently while removing the petals again. “You will get real food soon.”

“Like father, like son, eh?” These words made Faramir look up. Túrin stood there, grinning broadly, his face and sparkling eyes betraying the relief and joy he felt – but Túrin had never been one to hide his feelings. Faramir noted that he looked different. He wore his hair longer, and his beard was different, too. Southron fashion, Faramir thought, and now he grinned as well. Apparently Khorazîr’s and more recently Azrahil’s influence on his friend had been stronger than he had thought from Éowyn’s accounts.

“It just proves that you were not able to entirely spoil the little ones,” he returned while handing Meriadoc to Rían who had come forth to take care of the boy, now that his father would have to do a lot of embracing and shaking of hands.

Túrin shrugged. “Well, I did my best,” he said, and stepping forth, he hugged his friend. “It’s good to have you back,” he said earnestly. “Promise me not to do that again – letting yourself get kidnapped, I mean.”

“I will do my best to prevent it happening again, that I promise,” Faramir assured him, clapping his shoulder. “Thank you for looking after Éowyn and the children, Túrin.”

Túrin smiled. “I wish I could have done more,” he said, then he stepped back to let others greet the returned.


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PostPosted: Wed 13 Jul , 2005 4:36 pm 
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“You have done more than enough,” Éowyn assured him as he stepped aside to let Visilya greet Faramir. Túrin smiled his thanks and reached out to ruffle Peregrin’s hair lightly. Éowyn glanced over to Rían when she heard Meriadoc begin fussing again. “Let me take him,” she said, trading one son for the other. The little one buried his face in her shoulder and continued to whimper. “I know you want to eat,” she whispered soothingly in his ear, “but your Dadi has many people he wants to say hello to, and you and your brothers should be here as well to celebrate with the rest of us. A few more minutes and then you can eat.”

Nearby, Túrin had lifted Elboron onto his shoulders, and now the boy was decorating his hair with the rose petals and lavender stems he had collected. Éowyn laughed softly when Túrin realized what was going on only after he tilted his head slightly and had a shower of flowers fall in his face. Elboron laughed merrily again and clapped his hands, but he did look disappointed when Túrin did not return the handful of flowers.

Éomer came over to stand by Éowyn once he had finished greeting Faramir. “This morning I told you I wanted to see a smile on your face all day, and you seemed unsure if you could. Do you think you will be able to manage now?” he teased.

“It will be difficult, but I think I will manage indeed,” she replied, unable to keep a somber look for more than a few words. Her happiness was plain to see, a sight affirmed by quiet comments she had heard as they had walked through the gardens and back to the terrace. But this great happiness was tinged with a big of sadness too, for though the great trial was over, there were other partings to come. Now that her husband was home again, she knew Éomer would have no more qualms about returning to the Riddermark. She did not know when, but Turin and Visilya and Vorondil would eventually return to their home in Minas Tirith, and life at Dol Arandur would settle back to its usual routine.

“And yet you frown already,” Éomer commented, noticing the lines that formed on her forehead.

“I was thinking that now that Faramir’s home, you and the rest of our guests are going to return to your homes as well,” she confessed.

“Well, I know we are not planning to leave anytime soon,” Túrin said, stepping into the conversation, Elboron still sitting on his shoulders.

“And I shall not leave until after the Midsummer celebrations,” Éomer assured her, “for I am sure they will be spectacular now that we are in the mood for celebrating.”

“Hopefully we are not too far behind in planning anything,” Eowyn said as she bounced Meriadoc in her arm to keep him distracted. “But I bet the cook has already assigned her girls twice as many tasks to get things ready, or will once she returns to the kitchen.” She looked over to where Faramir stood talking, reassuring herself that he really was home.

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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jul , 2005 7:47 am 
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Realising that Éowyn was watching him, Faramir flashed her a smile, before he was pulled into an embrace by Beregond. Like the captain of his guards, many of the servants had greeted their lord heartily and almost overwhelmed with emotion, like a beloved member of their families that had returned from a long and dangerous journey. He was touched by this. It proved that they did not merely see him and his wife and children as their masters, but as friends and kin. They had shared their fears and sorrows, and now shared their happiness. And yet some among them who we trusted betrayed us, he thought with a trace of bitterness, and they would even have gone as far as murdering our babies. This thought reminded him of more unpleasant tasks to come, as he would be required to question Amlaith and Mariel. Fortunately this could wait.

“You should be in bed, resting,” he heard a reproachful voice, and turning, he beheld Teherin approach him. Even though she was smiling, he knew her words had not been uttered in jest only. She was studying him closely, and he had the strange feeling that she was looking right through him. She reached for his hand to shake it, and also, he felt, to find out more about his condition. What information she retrieved this way did not please her. She frowned, and her expression turned grave.

“What is it?” he asked, but she shook her head.

“It can wait,” she said.

“I can see that it troubles you,” he returned. “’Tis considerate of you not to want to spoil the joy of the moment with bad tidings, yet I would prefer you to tell me if there is anything I need to know.”

She gave him a long glance, then she nodded slightly. “Whoever invented this poison was a thoroughly evil person,” she said darkly. “From the accounts in your letters I only got a rough idea of what it was doing to you, but to see and feel the effects ...” She sighed.

“Is it so bad?” Faramir asked, somewhat alarmed by her obvious concern. He was feeling weak and weary, true, and the shoulder still hurt at times, but apart from this he thought he had not experienced any after-effects of the poisoning. Even the nosebleeds he had been suffering from for some time has ceased during the past days, ever since Elessar had treated him.

“It is too early to say anything definite,” she replied, “and I should like to consult with the King as he knows more about your earlier poisonings. But this substance has affected you greatly, and it may shorten your life considerably. Only your Númenorean blood has saved you from greater damage, and indeed an untimely death.”

“Do not tell her,” he said softly, nodding towards Éowyn. “She has had worries enough of late.”

Her she looked even graver. “Yes, she has. And without the children I doubt she would be standing there. So please look well after yourself in the days to come. I doubt she would manage to endure another ordeal, should you fall ill again because you have not rested properly. There are many tasks awaiting you, but first you must recover your strength – if that means we will have to tie you to your bed and lock and bar the door, so be it,” he added, and now she smiled faintly again.

He returned the smile. “I promise I shall behave and listen to your counsel. And I thank you for all you have done for Éowyn and the children. It was great relief to know they were being looked after so well.”

Her smile broadened and she bowed her head, as if to indicate she had merely done what she considered her duty, then she stepped back because Azrahil had come forth, hesitantly, as if unsure if he was allowed to join the merry crowd that still ringed Faramir.


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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jul , 2005 7:00 pm 
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Éowyn had watched the interaction between Faramir and Teherin closely. She could not hear what they had said, but she discerned from expressions and glances that what they had spoken of was serious. She saw them glance at her once, which puzzled her slightly. However, she felt she knew at least a little of what was likely said, that Faramir needed to rest before attempting to return to his usual routine. It was obvious that something about Faramir’s condition troubled the healer, and this did not ease Éowyn’s worries any.

When the healer stepped away, Éowyn hoped she would join this side group, but instead the healer went the opposite way. Éowyn noted how she continued to study Faramir. She would have to remember to speak with Teherin later.

But now Azrahil was walking forward, looking rather awkward and uncomfortable at being part of such a large crowd. Éowyn heard a pair of serving girls nearby giggle and whisper between themselves. She knew he was quite popular among the gossiping crowd, and had overheard discussions about his looks and activities. The fact that he had a lion cub in his possession only served to elevate his exotic status.

Meanwhile, Meriadoc was growing more frustrated at not being his mother’s top priority. She shifted him in her arms as he squirmed. “Not much longer, little one,” she murmured. She wanted to stay out here until Faramir had finished greeting everyone, but she also knew that if her son started fussing because he was hungry there was only one way he would settle.

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