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After Rosie's death, Sam pays a visit to his daughter Elanor and her husband Fastred at Undertowers. A drabble. Rated General Audiences.
As Fastred left to make tea, Sam leant forwards, wincing at the creak of his old bones. "I brought something for you, Elanor."
He smiled, and from his pack he pulled a musty volume bound in faded scarlet.
“The Red Book of Westmarch!” Awed, Elanor ran her fingers over the cracks in the leather, breathing in its delicate papery scent – then she realised. “You’re leaving.”
She had half expected this since her mother’s death, but even so her throat tightened. She moved to his side and embraced him gently. “Tell Frodo hello from me, won’t you?” she whispered.
The twins teach young Estel a culinary trick or two. Rated General Audiences.
Estel’s stomach grumbled as he trudged down the valley after the twins. His boots slid about in the mud, and branches beaded with fresh rain hung over his head.
“Smile, young Estel,” Elladan called. “Soon we shall feast!”
“How?” Estel felt tears sting his eyes. “We didn’t catch anything! It was a waste of time!” He’d been longing to impress the twins by gutting a deer alone, but they hadn’t seen so much as a rabbit. To make matters worse, he was wet from his cloak to his privates.
“There will be other hunts, little brother – and this one has not been in vain.” Elrohir patted the cloth sack that hung from his belt.
Estel scowled, knowing well what the pouch contained. “I don’t like mushrooms.”
Elladan lifted a finely-groomed eyebrow. “We’ll see about that.”
When they arrived they did not take him back to his mother’s quarters, as he had expected, but instead whisked him off to the kitchens. Elladan spread their cloaks in front of a fire to dry, and Elrohir emptied their spoils onto one of the large wooden tables. He pushed the small mushrooms to one side and lined up the bigger, flat ones in front of him. Some of them were the size of his hand, Estel marvelled – though the sight of the exposed brown gills made his insides turn to jelly. He watched as Elrohir carved slices off a cheese with an orange rind and laid them on top of the mushrooms. “What are you doing?”
“Preparing your dinner.”
“I know you do not like mushrooms. Prepared this way, they taste much better.”
If the other Elves found it odd that the sons of Elrond had commandeered the kitchen, they did not say so. Estel thought of running back to his mother while the twins were busy and so avoid eating the mushrooms, but he knew that would be rude, and besides, he liked watching his foster-brothers. Elladan handled a knife just as deftly when chopping herbs as he did when practising hand-to-hand combat, and when Elrohir pulled the mushrooms from the oven he looked as proud as if he’d slain a troop of Orcs.
“There.” Elladan slid two of them onto a plate, scattered fresh herbs over the top, and handed it to his young foster-brother. “Even you could not dislike that.”
Estel raised one of the mushrooms to his lips, breathed in the meaty smell of the cheese mingled with the pepper of the herbs, closed his eyes, and bit down.
In years to come he would learn to appreciate mushrooms – in the wild there was often no other food substantial enough to sustain him when bread and meat were scarce. For now, though, he choked in disgust and sprayed his mouthful all over Elladan’s tunic.
“I’m…sorry,” Estel coughed as Elladan’s lips pursed and Elrohir roared with laughter. “I just…I can’t eat them!”
“Estel,” Elladan said, “I think it is time that you learned to do laundry.”
Time has passed, but terrors still lurk in the deep places of the world. A drabble. Rated General Audiences.
They have forgotten me.
Long Ages I hid beneath the mountains, after the passing of the Powers and the breaking of the world. Their fire and drumming drew me back. I preyed on the unwary and hid from the hunters, though they were always afraid of the pool. They bred and grew and left the caves, and I slept again.
Now they bear light in their hands like the Powers of old, and ride in the bellies of beasts without legs. The pool shrinks. I grow hungry.
Once they called me the Watcher. I watch them still, and I wait.
Elladan and Elrohir find a more appreciative audience for their culinary skills. A double drabble, rated General Audiences.
A pause. “I'm hungry.”
Merry rubbed his gurgling stomach. “I'd tell you this is no time to be hungry, Pip - but I'd even welcome a bit of Troll's bare old bone.”
Pippin's mouth quirked. “Ah, Sam.” He glanced again at the door. “Merry -”
“No.” Merry felt his voice break, but hoped Pippin hadn't noticed. “Cousin Frodo will be alright. Old Gandalf's in there, and Strider, and Lord Elrond.”
“Very true.” Merry jumped as a third voice spoke from the shadows, soft and deep and mirthful. “And the two of you starving will not help him.”
“Elladan, do not tease.” The Elf that stepped through the archway at the end of the corridor could have been a younger, merrier Elrond. “Sad indeed is the day when honoured guests go hungry in Imladris.”
“Also true.” A second Elf emerged from behind a pillar. “Elrohir, I feel a trip to the kitchen is in order.”
Merry shook his head. “No, we couldn't possibly eat -”
“I could,” interrupted Pippin.
Elrohir raised an eyebrow and put his hand to the cloth bag at his hip. “I understand that hobbits have a liking for mushrooms?”
One of my very earliest pieces. A brief Éowyn/Faramir vignette; rated General Audiences.
“My Lord Faramir?”
At the voice of the Warden, Faramir pulled his gaze and thoughts from the darkness in the East and sighed. Though the sun shone on his back, he felt cold, and a shadow of dread chilled his heart; he may have been healed in body, but despair played still on his mind, giving him no rest. Bitterly, he wondered what matter in these evil days could warrant the attention of the Steward of the City.
“My Lord, here is the Lady Eowyn of Rohan.”
Faramir bowed low. He had heard great things of this lady, and did not need the Warden’s account of her deeds in battle. As she stood before him now, he marvelled also at her beauty – her tall, slender form, her skin, white and cold as fresh-fallen snow, her eyes...here he found his gaze arrested. Eowyn’s grey eyes spoke of sorrow and pain, and beneath that he perceived wisdom, courage and a desperate yearning. Here was a great woman indeed – yet something grieved her deeply, he knew. At this thought, he felt his insides twist. That one so fair and noble should suffer to such a degree seemed a grave injustice. Well, he would right it if he could. He nodded to the Warden to leave them alone.
As the lady spoke of her troubles, he offered her his arm. A gentle shiver ran through the young Steward at her touch, and for the first time since before his illness, he felt the sun’s rays warm on his body. Walking in the garden with Eowyn, he felt hope begin to return.
And this is my very first fanfic. I admit to "hiding" it away here; the word count is certainly over 500, but I didn't want to put it on my main page - it's posted for nostalgia purposes more than anything!
Éowyn and Éomer are grieving for their parents; can anyone in their new home offer comfort? Rated General Audiences.
ETA: Does anyone know why the first line of every block of text I paste in ends up much bigger than the rest? I think I'm doing something wrong but I'm not sure what...
“It isn’t deep,” Eomer assured his younger sister as he examined her injury. “You won’t have a scar – but have you learned your lesson now?”
Eowyn sniffed and nodded.
“Good.” Gently he wound the bandage around her slender arm. “Then no more playing with Theodred’s sword – or anybody else’s, for that matter. Uncle Theoden will see that you have one the correct size soon enough.”
She nodded again, lower lip trembling, then gave a yelp like a wounded animal and burst into tears.
“Eowyn!” Startled, Eomer reached out and wrapped his arms around the little girl, who burrowed into his tunic and sobbed even harder. “Hush, now. Hush,” he crooned, rocking her like an infant. “Come, little one. It isn’t like you to fuss so over a mere scratch!”
She mumbled something indistinct into the folds of fabric.
“What did you say?” he murmured, stroking her blonde locks.
“I said I wouldn’t cry because of that,” she said, lifting her head, then added with a measure of contempt, “I’m not a baby.”
Eomer chuckled softly as she curled up and leaned against his chest. “No, you aren’t. I know that well enough.” He rested his chin on top of her head. “Then what is the matter? Are you worried that Theodred might be angry?”
“No. It’s only...” She took a deep breath as her voice began to wobble. “I miss Mama, Eomer,” she whispered, and began to sob again.
“Oh, Eowyn.” He held her tighter, and she nestled into the hollow between his neck and shoulder. “I miss her too.”
“And Father,” he agreed. To his alarm he felt a lump form in his own throat, and swallowed quickly. He mustn’t cry, for Eowyn’s sake - besides, he was almost twelve now. He couldn’t be caught in the Great Hall squalling like a child. Nevertheless, he couldn’t stop the lone tear that escaped its prison and slipped down his cheek, landing in Eowyn’s hair and shimmering there like a bead of glass.
This was how Theodred found his young cousins a little while later, crouched on the floor and clinging fast to one another. He hesitated in the doorway, noting the tear tracks on both their faces. They may not welcome an intrusion. As he turned to leave them, however, he heard Eowyn emit a shuddering sob, and his heart ached in pity. He hesitated a moment longer, then moved to sit beside them.
He said nothing at first; Eowyn did not notice him, and Eomer eyed him suspiciously. This didn’t concern him. He knew the pair still felt shy and out of place here, but he sensed that they needed someone to share their troubles with, someone who would listen and take care of them. Even so, he didn’t wish to force their confidence, and so he waited, his eyes casually roaming the room – until his gaze fell on a familiar object lying on the floor nearby.
“Is that my sword?” he questioned aloud, somewhat puzzled.
Eowyn gasped and shrank into her brother, who cradled her protectively. Theodred saw this, then noticed the bandage on Eowyn’s arm. He took in Eomer’s defiant scowl and the proximity of the sword to the children, and felt a smile tug at his lips as comprehension dawned.
“To be sure, it will have been glad to be used,” he said, reaching out for it and holding it in front of his face. “I have been sorely lax in my practice of late.”
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his cousins relax. Laying the sword across his lap, he turned to them and smiled. Eowyn’s lips curved slightly, almost hesitantly, in response; Eomer remained impassive, though his expression was no longer so wary.
“I’ve been told that both of you are skilled with a blade,” he continued. “Who taught you?”
“Father,” replied Eomer, his face immediately darkening. Eowyn let out a slight whimper, and Theodred realised he had pressed too hard already. Swiftly, he changed the subject.
“Have either of you visited the stables today?” he asked.
Eomer shook his head.
“That’s a shame. My mare foaled only this morning, and you never saw a prettier creature.”
Eowyn looked up, curiosity aroused.
“Have you ever seen a newborn foal?”
“Of course,” spat Eomer.
Theodred raised his hands in apology. “Forgive me, I meant no offence. “ He got to his feet and returned his sword to its rightful place on the wall. “Now, if you will excuse me, I should go and visit them. The little one ought to have found his feet by now; perhaps his mother will even let me stroke him. I’ve always found foals to be the most delightful on their first day of life, when they cannot quite walk in a straight line, and their coats are so downy and soft...but then, I forget, you know all this, cousin Eomer, do you not?”
As he turned away, he wasn’t entirely surprised to feel a small hand slip into his own.
“Might I come with you?” asked Eowyn shyly.
“But of course,” he smiled, and swung her up onto his shoulders. She shrieked in delight and mock fear, then giggled as he tickled her bare feet.
“I like you, cousin Theodred,” she said simply, leaning forward and winding her arms around his neck.
He felt his throat tighten as he replied, “And I you, Eowyn.” He glanced towards her brother, still sitting on the floor but now looking rather unsure of himself. “Will you join us, Eomer?”
After a momentary hesitation the younger boy nodded. “I have to look after Eowyn,” he added, as though his acceptance of Theodred’s offer required some kind of explanation.
Though amused, Theodred forced himself to nod gravely. “A noble cause indeed.”
“But I don’t need to be looked after!” chirped Eowyn indignantly. Eomer and Theodred both laughed then, and Theodred held out his hand.
“Friends?” he asked Eomer.
Eomer took it and nodded.
Theodred smiled. “Neither of you must ever feel lonely or unhappy at Meduseld. My father has promised to be as a father to you also - he and I will do all in our power to make you welcome here.”
As they neared the stables, Eowyn said in a confused tone, “I don’t understand – Uncle Theoden is our father now?”
“In a way,” replied Theodred cautiously, uncertain what Eomer would make of this remark.
“Then that must make you our brother,” said the young girl happily, resting her chin on the crown of his head.
Her innocence and trust moved him deeply, but he said nothing, instead turning to Eomer to gauge his response. To his surprise, the elder of his two cousins was smiling, despite the tears threatening to spill over the lower rims of his eyes.
“Yes, it must,” Theodred confirmed. Gently, he lifted Eowyn from his shoulders, set her to the ground and ruffled her fair curls. “Now, hush – we mustn’t upset the foal.”
And he entered the stables with one arm guiding her in front of him, while the other rested around the shoulders of Eomer.
A boy and his father remember the Elder Days. Rated General Audiences.
The hams and pans and bones still hung from the rafters, but the lucky feather was gone.
The boy remembered the stories from the fierce winter nights, when the village would huddle together outside and their frozen breath would hang in a cloud above them, and his father would stand by the cackling flames. Washed in orange light, he would sing songs of the great mariners of old, fair and fell and immortal.
“They have not forgotten us,” he used to say. “When times grow dark and our need grows great, they will rise from the ocean in white boats carved as swans. They cannot die, for they are as gods; no Viking blade could even dent their armour, and they will fight with us until the seas and rivers run red with Danish blood.”
So he had said when Northumbria fell, and again when the Danes took East Anglia. The lucky golden feather had hung from their rafters all the while.
“Its power holds,” his father would say, stroking it as reverently as a relic.
“It gets in my way,” his mother would retort. “What bird has feathers that size?”
He remembered once, in the cool gloom of morning, his father whispering that the feather had been a gift from the Lord of the Eagles – a gift to a mariner whose ship now sailed in the stars.
“He was the greatest seaman who ever lived – he could sail through the air as easily as you or I sail into the bay.” The whisper dropped. “That’s how he slew the Dark Wyrm. He sailed up into the night and drove the prow of his ship into the beast’s filthy black heart.”
“Why did he give the feather to you?”
“He didn’t. He gave it to his son, who gave it to his son after him, and so on.” A hand on his shoulder, a proud smile. “He’s our ancestor, that great sailor of the stars. That’s how I know the Elves will come back to us. They will not abandon their kin.”
“Hush now. Your mother mustn’t know I’ve told you. She thinks it’s a pile of old nonsense.”
But the Elves had not come, and every day tales of fresh horror trickled into the village – Lindisfarne monks burned alive, Mercian babies beheaded and fed to wolves the size of horses, corpses rising from the grave and roaming the moors at night. Now the feather had vanished, and his father’s tuneless whistling could not be heard in the yard, and the boy knew.
“He has gone to find the Elves,” he murmured.
And now he understood why his father had refused ale the previous night, why he had clutched at his arm, why he had whispered in his ear, “Look after your mother.” A whiskery kiss – a farewell. “Ælfwine.”
“Gods watch you, Father,” he said to the space where the feather should be. “I will follow when I may.”
"Worm killed your Chief, poor little fellow, your nice little Boss. Didn't you, Worm? Stabbed him in his sleep, I believe. Buried him, I hope; though Worm has been very hungry lately. No, Worm is not really nice. You had better leave him to me." - 'The Scouring of the Shire', The Return of the King.
Rated R for disturbing material.
I took a slice from the cheek before I buried him. Just a sliver. Even worms deserve a little meat, and meat was all he was. A Hobbit. Not a man, a Hobbit. Sounds like rabbit. Lives in a hole. A creature, then. Not a man, not a man, not a man.
(Worms live in holes too.)
He was sweet and tender for an old beast. (Would a beast sob as the knife went in? Don’t think, don’t think. Worms can’t think. Worms do as Sharkey says.)
Sharkey...not his name. Saruman. And I was –
(No. Worm. WORM.)
Not a man.
The musings of Beruthiel's white cat, who is more than she seems. A double drabble, rated General Audiences. Features nods to various other literary felines.
The anger-queen thinks me her spy. The others crawl as possums would, going where she bids, turning their lamp-like eyes into the corners of the city and returning to whisper, whisper in her ear.
Oh, I play my part prettily. I will balance a saucer and teacup to keep her amused, and melt into the air when she wants me no longer. She sets me to spy on my fellows, and I go, and come back, and I tell her some tales – but one secret I keep to myself. The others, craven, wicked, can speak to no-one but her. I, the white cat, speak to the King, and now the King begins to plot. He builds a ship by night, a vessel to bear her away, so that laughter and colour may flower in his kingdom once more.
I too will go, but not from fear or love. When the ship makes land I will leave her and roam her strange southern realm, learning the paths of the wilderness and shunning my fellows, for I am the cat who walks by herself - and I am in need of a new adventure.
A glimpse into Smaug's early life. Rated PG for mild draconic violence.
His mother's fire-glow cooled and faded as she died. The emerald scales dulled to grey – a distant traveller might mistake her for a mound of rock – and from inside the cave the one who had defeated her roared in triumph as he beheld his newly won hoard.
His sister tipped back her head and keened to the stars. He hissed a warning, and when she did not stop he caught her neck between his jaws and bit down. Cold blood flowed into his mouth as her life, too, dripped away – but no matter. Fearg was weak and foolish. He had no time for such as her.
He turned to the mouth of his old cave-den and let a low rumble build in his throat.
One day, usurper, I will come back. I will snap off your wings and bite off your legs and leave you for the crows to consume – and then I will amass such a hoard that the world will come to fight over it. Ah, but none shall defeat Smaug the Magnificent; I shall wear my rocks and jewels in my belly like armour, and no thief will ever again take from me what is mine!
He rustled his wings, as yet untried, testing the breeze and the feel of the air. It was a warm night and a clear one. His rumble built to a growl of pleasure; he unfurled, marvelling at the beauty of the moonlight on the golden membrane, and stared over the edge of the cliff.
Time to learn to fly.
I had to have a play with the new SWG prompt generator. In the Popular Characters category I got Míriel Serindë (though I prefer the alternate spelling used in the story title) and the Neil Gaiman quote "We owe it to each other to tell stories." This was the result.
We owe it to each other to tell stories.
Often she had whispered those words into the silence of her chambers, or murmured them in her mind as she worked. The tales were all, now, living in the warp and weft of the cloth she wove. She knew the Valar would prefer much of it forgotten, but this was why she had returned - to record the deeds of the House she had married into.
Our madness and our glory.
She traced a finger over her work, outlining the faces – so many of them! And all Mortal now, save one. Her touch lingered on him, his features so like her son's, but old and careworn in a way that Fëanáro's would never be. Ai, Maglor. You are not forgotten, dear one. She had never met her grandson, but so she always addressed Maglor in thought – how could she not love him, the last of the Firstborn left on Arda, too broken by grief and guilt to return?
Her mind reached out to touch another, one of light and fire and adamant. It flared in response, and she closed her eyes as his warmth and passion encircled her. My Fëanáro. The Valar may have him trammelled like a wild horse, but even the walls and will of Mandos could not keep her spirit from his – for was he not of her, wholly and completely? Had she not poured her life, her strength, her soul into the birthing of him, knowing what he would have to do at the End? The Valar believed that her son would reclaim the Silmarils so that Yavanna may rekindle the light of the Trees, but she knew better. She had known his destiny from the moment she felt his life inside her.
He will reclaim his Silmarils, but not for the remaking of the Trees. When the Silmarils break open, my Fëanáro will remake the World.
But not yet. The Door of Night still held, and until it broke her task was to tell the story of Finwë's heirs – their triumphs and failures, their loves and losses, the repetitions echoing down the Ages. The Valar would take away her weavings and destroy them if they dared, for the Noldor had never truly been forgiven – but they needed her son and would not risk her anger.
And in the end, it will help them not at all.
She dreamed that in Arda Healed the House of Finwë would gather and learn the stories of those who had come before and after, and that all would walk free together, First and Secondborn alike. The Valar, she hoped, would fade and leave the New World for the Children of Eru – but these were idle dreams. She turned back to her loom. For now she must keep weaving the stories that were their right, their heritage – and there were many stories still to tell.
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