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A/N: Again many, many thanks and hugs to Ellynn, my wonderful word wrangler who patiently works through my meanings! ((hugs))
September 1440 SR (17 FA), Ithilien
From the window of his office as captain of the White Company, Beregond watched Finduílas make her determined way across the courtyard from the stables. He thought upon how Faramir and Éowyn's fourteen-year-old daughter reflected both her parents’ spirits in different ways. She had Faramir's curiosity and intelligence, and she also possess her mother's fiery spirit and stubborn nature. Once she set her mind on something, woe betide anyone who stood in her way. He noticed with no little chagrin that her directed gait was taking her straight to his office. "Oh dear," he murmured. What plan was she cooking up and how does it involve me?, he thought. He loved the spirited young girl, but she could be a handful at times.
He moved back over to his desk and decided to pretend to work while Finduílas made her case for whatever it was she was planning. Within a few minutes he heard a light tap on the door. "Come!" he said in a no-nonsense tone of voice.
Finduílas entered and said brightly, "Captain, are you busy?"
Beregond replied while still looking down at the parchments on his desk. It was his only defense to not giving in immediately to whatever plan she was hatching. "I do rather have a lot to be getting on with, my lady."
Undeterred Finduílas continued hopefully, "Well, if you could spare a few moments? I have had an idea. It is for Mama and Papa's anniversary."
Beregond paused in his writing, sighed gently and placed his quill pen down on the blotter pad. He looked up into guileless blue eyes gazing at him with hope. He tried looking circumspect. It would not do to give in too easily, though that was likely to be the end result. He generally could not deny Faramir's children anything they asked. "And what is your idea?"
"Well," Finduílas began, encouraged that she had gotten Beregond's full attention, "as you know it is Mama and Papa's twentieth wedding anniversary and I wanted to give them a very special present."
"That sounds very thoughtful," Beregond stated, "What were you contemplating?" The trouble was always in the details, he thought ruefully.
“I thought that a piece of jewelry, made specially for them, would be really nice.”
“Aye, it would.”
“But it would have to be a very specially made piece. I think that only Master Telion could do what I want to have done. We are going to Minas Tirith next week for Leithril’s birthday, but I’m not allowed to go out into the City alone—”
“Quite right, too. A highborn young lady should not be allowed—” Beregond stopped himself in midsentence realizing the trap she had set for him. She was too clever by half. “My Lady…I will have duties to perform while in the White City. Why do you not ask Gamwen to accompany you?” he asked, referring to Finduílas’ nurse.
“Because she cannot keep a secret!” Finduílas declared. “And I want this to be a surprise! Please, Captain, I do so want to do this for Mama and Papa! Papa would never doubt my safety if I were with you,” Finduílas affirmed.
Beregond looked at the blond child in front of him. Her face held such an expression of hopeful promise. He sighed. It was a futile gesture to try and say no. “Yes, plan the outing and I shall accompany you.”
Finduílas flew at him, a flutter of skirts and ribbons, to give him a big hug. “Oh! Thank you, Captain! This will make Mama and Papa so very happy!”
“And that is always my duty to perform,” Beregond cheerfully stated with his hand on his heart. “Now run along and let me get back to work!” he ended with mock sternness.
Finduílas stood and gave a little salute. “Yes, Captain!” capping it with a sunny smile, turned on her heel and left at pace, fluttering skirts trailing in the breeze.
Beregond watched her run across the courtyard to the residence, and the thought of Daethel, his daughter who died before she had seen two winters, came unbidden into his mind. She would have been Finduílas’ age. He sighed and placed that sadness aside. It did not do to dwell, he thought as he returned to his desk.
The morning after Leithril’s birthday celebrations provided the quiet time that Finduílas needed for her stealthy mission to see Master Telion with her commission. Gamwen was clearly yawning as she was arranging Finduílas’ hair. Finduílas seized upon the opening that yawn presented. She had been looking for an opportune moment, but one had not yet presented itself. “Did you enjoy yourself last night, Gamwen?”
“Oh my yes, my lady! The servant’s banquet last night in honor of Lady Leithril’s birthday was quite grand. We danced and sang until the wee small hours of the morning.” The older woman yawned again. “I’m so sorry, my lady. I guess I am more tired than I thought…”
“Not to worry, Gamwen. It was a lovely night.” She paused. “Gamwen, I was thinking of going to the market faire down on the second tier today.”
A look of dismay crossed the nurse’s face before duty chased it away. “Yes, my lady. I shall ready outdoor attire for us both. It won’t take long at all.”
Finduílas saw the expected look cross Gamwen’s face and made her next move accordingly. “Prepare mine, but you should stay here. You are tired and I think you should rest.”
“Oh, my Lady! I could not. I could not allow you past the gates of the Citadel unattended. That would not be proper. Your father would never allow that.”
“But I will not go alone.” She paused as if to think. “I will ask Captain Beregond to attend me! That will satisfy Papa. He can have no doubt as to my safety if the Captain attends me.”
Gamwen looked at Finduílas and knew she was being gently maneuvered for a reason yet to be discovered. She decided to swim along this stream with her young lady. “Can the Captain spare the time?”
“I think I can persuade him.”
Gamwen eyed her young lady. Finduílas had a mischievous streak, this much she knew, but she also knew that the child had a good heart and whatever she was trying to achieve here, it would not be for ill. “Well, if I know the Captain can spare the time, mind you he will have to tell me himself. I won’t accept it otherwise. But,” Gamwen admitted, “the rest would be much appreciated, my Lady.”
“It will be our secret! I will bring him up here straight away! Come let us make ready!”
After breakfast, Beregond dutifully followed Finduílas to her suite of rooms to meet with Gamwen.
“Gamwen! We are here!” Finduílas called out.
The older woman came in from the bedroom with a knowing smile on her face as she laid eyes on Beregond. “Roped you into her mischief, has she?”
Beregond gave an indulgent smile. “As ever!”
“Can I go then, Gamwen?” Finduílas asked hopefully.
“Very well. Yes, you can go,” she said indulgently.
Finduílas clapped her hands together and kissed Gamwen on the cheek as she gave her nurse a brief, heartfelt hug. “Thank you!”
“Be off with you now, before your father finds out!” Gamwen exclaimed. Being of stoic Rohirrim stock overt expressions of affection flustered the older woman. Recovering herself some, she looked at Beregond. “Thank you, I know I need not tell you to keep her safe.”
Beregond nodded his affirmation and then turned to Finduílas. “Come, my Lady. We best be off and have the errand done with.”
Finduílas grabbed a light wrap to fend off any morning breeze before the day warmed up in a September fall day in Minas Tirith.
Master Telion stood at the front door of his shop on the fourth tierand breathed in the morning air as he stretched his back this way and that. He had been crouched over a commission for too long and needed a break. He had come down to the shop from the residence early in the morning to continue working on a particularly difficult piece for a particularly difficult patron, Lady Grothien. He smiled ruefully as he remembered the wise and prophetic words of his beloved mentor, Master Taethion. He heard Taethion’s gruff voice intone, “And there are others who choose to put on airs and pretend they are above us.” Telion remembered him pointing to a group who had attended Prince Faramir’s wedding when he was just an apprentice. “You won’t be able to tell them a thing. You’ll meet them all in our chosen craft, my lad.”
Lady Grothien was one such patron. He thought of Master Taethion, who taught him so much about his craft and so much about life. Gone from this world these ten years past and Telion still missed his gruff ways and his wisdom in equal measure. He felt always felt lucky when he thought of his old master. Lucky in the fact that Taethion had had the patience to teach a talented but often undisciplined young apprentice. Lucky that he had had two fathers in his life. Both were wonderful in their different ways. His father, Devrion, who had died in the year of the Ring War was a man of great perception when it came to his son. He had been an Ithilien Ranger who had served under Prince Faramir when Faramir had charge of the Rangers of Henneth Annun.
Devrion, as a father, had both wisdom and love. He loved his son, but was also wise enough to know that his artistic and soft-hearted son would not follow in his footsteps and he encouraged him to find his own path. Enter Taethion, who saw the potential in his young apprentice and shared much of himself so that the boy would succeed. Childless, Taethion left the jeweler’s shop to him at his passing. Telion, once the apprentice, was now the Master and he tried to pass all that he had learned to his apprentices as Taethion had passed on to him. Lucky indeed, though Nariel would say that once again he was selling himself short.
He smiled as he thought of his red-haired beauty of a wife. What she saw in him, he would never know, but he prayed that she would never come to her senses. Another portion of luck that had been bequeathed to him. He sighed and turned to walk back inside to his worktable when he saw two familiar faces heading towards his shop: Beregond, Captain of the White Guard, second only to Prince Faramir in Ithilien, and Faramir’s young daughter, Finduílas. A bond had been formed between Prince Faramir and Telion at first because of Devrion, but later through a mutual recognition that they were like souls. Telion thought then of the Princess Éowyn rubbing the twenty-year old scar that ran across the side of his face, received during the Siege of the White City. War provided bonds that otherwise would never have been forged.** Many times he and his family had been asked to come to Ithilien for a visit, as the families grew closer than average circumstances would have told. In fact, they had just received the invitation for Faramir and Éowyn’s twentieth wedding anniversary.
He called out, “Hello, Captain! Greetings! My Lady! And what brings you down to the Fourth Tier?”
"Master Telion! So good it is to see you!" Finduílas exclaimed cheerily. "And how is your ladywife?"
"Nariel is quite well. Thank you for asking, my Lady. She is in the residence tending to the twins."
"And how is Eiliandor?" Finduílas asked after the eight-year old bright spark that was the couple's oldest child and only son.
"As ever, full of energy and driving his schoolmasters to distraction." Telion looked a little at his wits end when mentioning his son.
Beregond took notice of this. He ventured an idea. "He has plenty of that, true enough. I could ask Faramir to speak to the King and find a place for him in youth training for the Tower Guard."
Telion paused before answering. He knew that training for Gondor's forces would be a good way for Eiliandor to channel some of his energy, but he had dismissed the idea for reasons he now realised were selfish. In his heart he knew he had to allow his son to find his own path, even if it led away for what he wanted for him. It was what his father had done for him. Telion inwardly admitted it was a choice he could not ignore if only to honour his father’s wisdom in allowing him his own direction in life. "I will talk with Nariel about it and will have an answer for you soon."
Beregond nodded, and Telion continued, "Now, with pleasantries dispatched, come inside and you can tell me what I can do for you."
The three entered the Jeweler’s shop and, as they settled the front parlor, Telion called out, “Cendir! Can you bring in the ’35 red please and three goblets. There’s a good lad.”
“So--” Telion began but was interrupted by a thud and a crash. He stopped and took a deep breath. “He is a good lad, hard-working and quite skilled when it comes to the actual work, but otherwise, he is all arms and legs!”
Beregond laughed. “Reminds me of another apprentice who lived in this shop.” He said looking pointedly at Telion.
“So very true!” Telion chuckled ruefully. “I have no idea how Master Taethion kept patient with me!”
A sheep-faced dark-haired youth of about sixteen winters entered into the small alcove that served as the front parlor carrying a silver tray with a decanter of wine and three goblets, one clearly different from the other. “Sorry Master Telion. But I broke one of the goblets,” he stated both contritely and needlessly. He set the tray down and one of the goblets fell over harmlessly.
Telion quickly said, “That’s all right. No harm done.”
Cendir nodded. “I will just clear up my mess. And then, did you want me to continue the Daerdir commission?”
“Yes, thank you Cendir. That would be a good idea.” The boy turned to go when Telion spoke again, “And remember, Cendir, use the gloves when cleaning up the shards. I don’t want you risking injury to your hands. A goblet can be replaced.”
“Yes, Master Telion.” He bowed to Beregond and Finduílas as he left the alcove.
“Now then!” Telion declared as he was pouring wine for Beregond and half a goblet for Finduílas. “Just a sip as we discuss, my Lady,” he explained as he handed her the goblet.
Finduílas accepted it with an excited anticipation. She sipped the wine and the slightly illicit sweetness rolled over her tongue. She had drunk wine before, of course, but generally only at home at meal with family. This was almost daring and she felt quite grown-up.
“What are we planning?” Telion asked as he sat back with his own goblet.
“Well. I was thinking,” Finduílas began, “as it is my Mama and Papa’s twentieth anniversary, I wanted to commission something from you. Something really special. The rings you made for them on their wedding are so beautiful. Maybe something to go with them.”
Telion had a faraway look in his eyes and got very quiet. After a moment he looked at Finduílas. “Leave it with me. I think I know what to do…”
** This is in reference to another story of mine, “Leaving Home; Coming Home Chapters 7, 15 & 17
A/N: Again many, many thanks and hugs to Ellynn, my wonderful word wrangler who patiently works through my meanings! ((hugs))
Ch. 2 – Morning tidings
One month later…
A noise from outside had awoken Faramir; he looked around with sleep bleary eyes. Eowyn was still asleep. He looked at her as she lay by his side, the laugh lines evident even in her sleep. Twenty years on and she was still just as beautiful as the day he first saw her coming to make entreaty to him in the Houses of Healing in the last days of the Ring War. Perhaps even more so for hers was a restless and troubled soul in those days. He moved his arm to pull back the coverlet and his shoulder twinged. A brief grimace and the pain quickly passed.
An old arrowshot from what they said was a poisoned Haradrim bow from before battle commenced properly at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, when they had foolishly tried to take the river and Osgiliath. He thought of that folly and everything that lead up to it, but the regret that had once been ever present had long since subsided. He had forgiven his father within his heart years ago. Still, the healers said the older he became, the more the old wound would bother him on occasion. He rolled his shoulder a little to loosen the muscles and the pain subsided.
He slipped his feet into an old pair of leather slippers, smiling as he did so. Eowyn was constantly after him to have a new pair made, but he always sidestepped the issue. These were comfortable, broken in, he saw no reason to replace them. He shrugged into his robe, taking care not to tweak his shoulder again and walked to the balcony of their bedchamber. He checked below to see what had made the noise but all was in stillness. Whatever it was had gone. It was no matter it was good to be up to see the sunrise, the morning air was fresh with just a slight nip in it as autumn was in full colour in Ithilien. Beyond the trees of the garden of Ithilien House he could see the settlement turned city of Emyn Arnen. He had been given the Princedom of Ithilien by his friend and King, Aragorn, with the charge to bring it alive again. Nature and settlement living in harmony. It had been hard work, but Faramir was ever impressed with those who took up the King’s challenge to build a new world. Together they were making it work. It was very satisfying.
He felt arms circle his waist and a scent of lavender and rose permeate his senses. He smiled. “I thought you were still asleep.”
“I was. But I woke up and saw you silhouetted against the morning light and I couldn’t resist,” Eowyn spoke into his shoulder. “Come Sunday it will be twenty years.”
Faramir turned around in her arms and looked into the blue eyes that had captured his heart those twenty years ago, first with pity and then with the marvel of her indomitable spirit. “Has it been that long? You are as beautiful as the day I first saw you, my heart.”
Eowyn looked into the gentle blue eyes that had seen through the mist of regret and doubt and straight into her soul, rescuing her from herself. “Did I ever tell you that I love you…”
Faramir shrugged his non-injured shoulder. “You may have mentioned it once or twice!” he smiled, looking into her eyes.
“Is your shoulder bothering you again?” Eowyn said, a furrow of concern creasing her forehead.
“It is nothing. It will pass.”
Eowyn gave him an incredulous look.
“Really, it is fine!” He started to kiss her neck. “Let’s go back to bed, the day hasn’t even started yet,” Faramir said looking into her eyes and smiling mischievously.
“Mhmmm!” Eowyn said dreamily as he led her back to bed. “This discussion isn’t over…” Her voice trailed off into giggling….
Later in the morning, Eowyn was getting out of their large private marble bathtub next to their bedchamber and wrapping herself in a bath sheet when Faramir leaned up against the entrance to the bathing area, smiling. Eowyn laughed, “No you don’t. We have people expecting us and we must begin the day!”
“All right. If you insist.” Faramir was still smiling as she walked by.
“Shoo! I have to get dressed,” Eowyn said as she pulled the bell pull for Gallthiel to attend her.
“See you downstairs for breakfast then?”
“Yes! Now shoo!” Éowyn laughed to herself as she watched Faramir leave. She finished drying and then shrugged into her dressing gown contemplating a hearty breakfast, then groaned as she realized that she had to meet with the head cook to finalize the menu for the anniversary dinner, always a protracted affair. “So much for a leisurely breakfast.” She sighed.
Faramir walked down to the private family breakfast area when a flutter of color, blond hair and half-tied ribbons came running at him. “Papa! Papa! Uncle Eomer has brought new horses! One for me and one for Elboron!” His daughter Finduílas was so excited she was beside her with joy. She was fourteen and horses were truly her only love.
“What’s that you say, Las?”
“It is true.”
Faramir looked up and saw his brother-in-law striding towards them. Faramir hugged the younger man who was not just a brother-in-law but more a brother of the heart.
“You spoil them so!” Faramir proclaimed.
“To quote my ladywife, pish! The horses were foaled two years ago. It is time they had riders. And I can think of no better home for them, no better owner than ‘Las, here.” He ruffled the hair of his tow-headed niece.
Finduílas was dancing with excitement. “Can I go Papa! Can I go and see my new horse!”
Faramir laughed. There was no help for it. Finduílas would not sit still until she had made her horse’s acquaintance. “Yes! Yes! You may go and see your new horse!”
Finduílas squealed as only a fourteen-year-old girl could squeal, stood on tip-toes, kissed her father on the cheek and ran out the door to the stables.
Faramir simply chuckled as he watched his daughter run in delight, shaking his head.
“I see our present has been well received?” Lothíriel walked up and hugged Faramir to say hello.
“And the first clue was Las squealing in joy, I suppose?” Faramir quipped.
“That might have been the giveaway!” Lothíriel laughed as they continued towards the private family breakfast area. “So good it is to see you, cousin.”
Faramir kissed her on the cheek. “And you as well.”
“Is Eowyn coming down soon?”
“She will be down soon. Did you just arrive?”
“Last night, you had already gone up and we didn’t see a need to bother you,” Eomer answered. “Finduílas saw us arriving with two horses that were clearly not pack animals and the secret was out.”
Faramir laughed. “Yes, after that sighting there would have been no peace until she met her horse. I am surprised she got any sleep at all.”
They entered the breakfast nook and found the place already overrun with hobbits and their families.
Second Breakfast had officially commenced.
“Faramir!” Pippin called out as he saw the Prince of Ithilien walk into the Breakfasting Suite. “As ever you lay out the finest breakfast table in all of Gondor.”
Faramir watched as the loveable Took overfilled his plate with the fine and fat breakfast sausages that were provided from pig farmers across the Anduin and nearer to Minas Tirith. He shook his head in amazement and walked forward to get a plate and start serving himself from the sumptuous sideboard.
“Glad our table is sufficient for the Thain of the Shire,” Faramir spoke over his shoulder looking affectionately at the middle aged Took seating both himself and his groaning plate next to Diamond, his lovely wife.
"It will do quite pleasantly!" Pippin chirped.
Faramir sat across from his dear hobbit friend and looked at him. "I will tell cook!"
"Oh, don't worry about that. I already have. I popped down there early to compliment her fine First Breakfast and to remind her about Second Breakfast!"
Merry chimed in, "Pippin! You haven't!"
"Oh, don't worry so much, Merry! I was quite charming!"
"I don't believe you sometimes, Pip!"
Faramir just sat and watched the two go back and forth affectionately bickering. If he closed his eyes, their voices could take him back twenty years to two young hobbits trying to survive and find their way through the fire that engulfed Middle-earth instead of the Master of Buckland and Peregrin I, Thain of the Shire. Their voices were the same, but when Faramir looked closer, he saw worry lines that creased Pippin's brow as the responsibilities of the Thain had settled upon the irrepressible Took. He knew from letters written by Merry and Sam that it had not all been smooth sailing at Great Smials, and while Pippin was still all smiles and cheery disposition, he had had problems that needed solving in his first years as Thain. But Faramir knew the resilience that lay beneath the cheery exterior of the little Took and if anyone could weather the trouble it would be Pippin.
“Eat up! If I know our dear little friends, there won’t be a morsel left if we dally over our plates overly long.”
Faramir turned to his left to see the King of the Reunited Realms dropping his own heavily ladened plate right next to him. “Aragorn! I see you have settled in?” he exclaimed happily.
“Yes, quite nicely and Second Breakfast is simply not to be missed when considering the fact that many hobbits were present and feasting.”
Faramir laughed. “So very true, my friend, so very true. They do raise eating to an artform!”
Arwen seating herself laughed merrily. “That they most certainly do!” she said as she sipped from a teacup before biting into a seed and berry cake.
Faramir chuckled as he nodded in shared bemusement at the hobbits’ ability to put away large quantities of food. He looked around the Breakfast Suite. “And did you bring Eldarion and the girls?”
Aragorn gave his friend an aggrieved look. “One does not ‘bring’ a seventeen-year-old anywhere. But he has deigned to grace us with his presence. As to Leithril and Nestriel, I could not have kept them away; they were looking forward to visiting with Las. Eldarion went looking for Elboron early this morning. What those two might get up to I shudder to think.”
Arwen gave an answering shudder and popped the last of the berry cake in her mouth and washed it down with a last swallow of her tea. “I take my leave of you two fine gentlemen. I needs must find the lady of the house!”
Faramir looked at the door to the Breakfasting Suite. “I don’t know what is keeping her…”
“Not to worry. I shall find her.” With that she kissed Aragorn on the cheek and then fluttered off.
Aragorn bit into a marmalade-slathered scone. “She had something to discuss with Éowyn. What, I do not know. I find it a much simpler life if I don’t ask too many questions about my lady wife’s endeavors.” He ended with a knowing look.
Faramir nodded. “Again you speak truly. High-minded wives will be the death of us!”
A female voice chimed in. “Rather it has been the making of you, I should think.” To nobody’s surprise that voice belonged to Estella Brandybuck, the forthright and endearing wife of Merry. “Isn’t that right, Merry?”
Merry, being nobody’s fool, looked up from his plate and gave the perfunctory answer. “Of course, my dear.” And went back to consuming the contents of his overfilled plate without missing a beat.
Diamond Took then added in, “I should think you would agree Pippin!” She paused and received no response. “Pippin?” Pippin looked up a little like a deer caught by a bright light. “Hasn’t it been?” After a pause that presaged trouble due to its length, he rallied with a strong reply.
“Of course it was, my darling poppy!” He gave her a quick kiss and returned his attention to his breakfast plate.
Aragorn raised an eyebrow as a conversation as he remembered more than fifteen years ago at the birth of Faramir's son Elboron.
1424 TA S.R. Ithilien
Aragorn stood and sighed. “Come, good sirs! It is time we are returning. It is our lot to fetch and carry. It is the way of things.”
“Aye, that it is!” Éomer stood and affirmed Aragorn’s words. “Up, Master Holdwine," he said, clapping Merry on the back. "It is time we do our duty. The womenfolk have called us back!” Seeing Merry’s reluctance, Éomer added, “When you take a wife, Master Holdwine, you will discover there is a time for play and there is a time for doing what you must do!” He clapped Merry on the shoulder again and laughed. “There are compensations, you will see. Up, Sir!”
Merry tossed back the last of his pint and stood. Pippin followed suit but murmured, “And this is why I’m never getting married. Fetching and carrying. And no time for a proper pint.”
Aragorn heard and added, “Indeed? And I will remind you of those words on your wedding day.”
"Well, it's not your wedding day, but I'm reminding you now," Aragorn said with a mischievous glint in his eye finishing the story.
"No proper time for a pint!" Diamond said, an incredulous smile spreading across her face as she watched Pippin's reaction.
Pippin sat for a beat or two. And then declared, "Well, I was wrong. There's always time for a pint as long as I get to share it with you, my poppy." And with that, in a smooth motion Pippin grabbed a flower from a center arrangement and on one knee presented Diamond with the small floral offering.
Diamond smiled. "Cheeky little sod," she said as she took the flower and playfully slapped him. "Trying to charm me now!"
Pippin quipped in irrepressible optimism, "Is it working?"
Her answer was a kiss.
Arwen found Éowyn in her beloved herb garden. “I knew I would find you here! Gallthiel said that this was the most likely place you would be after having dealt with menus!”
Éowyn, who had been kneeling over a lemon balm plant harvesting some leaves for a headache tea she was preparing to infuse, looked up guiltily as she sat back on her hips. She smiled ruefully as she rubbed a trickle of sweat from the autumnal mid-morning sun off her brow. “I had to escape the planning of our anniversary dinner. One more trivial menu decision, and I was just going to call the whole thing off!”
Arwen chuckled in a commiserating fashion. “I leave all that to my Master Attendant. He seems to thrive on it. You and I have just never been the most domesticated of wives, have we?” She settled herself on the ground near where Éowyn knelt.
The Princess of Ithilien looked at the Elven Queen of Gondor and snorted. “No! And I think that is exactly why we get along so well.” She placed some more lemon balm leaves in her herb-collecting basket. “I understand the need for it all, I guess, but asking me to care whether the napkins are placed properly or if at a formal dinner whether Lady Grothien should sit near Lady Mudril still causes a pain to throb in my head.”
Arwen looked into the herb basket that lay between them. “Hence the need for a headache tea?”
“Guilty! I left before I could be waylaid further and when I pulled the jar from the herb cupboard it felt suspiciously light. So I came out here to cut a few leaves. Besides, it always relaxes me to be out here! Amid the green and the growing.” She sighed happily. “But I think I have enough. Let us talk more comfortably in my solar.” She got up and dusted herself off. “Tea? Or,” she gave a conspiratorial glance at Arwen, “something a little stronger?”
Arwen gracefully stood up from the ground and gave an answering glance. “Something a little stronger, of course. You know me so well!” She linked arms with Éowyn, laughing just a little.
Stepping up into the solar that overlooked the forested area beyond the town of Emyn Arnen, Arwen exclaimed, “I love this view! In part it reminds me of Imladris.”
“It is beautiful…you know it was built on the solar in the King’s House.”
“If I had, I have forgotten. But so happy to have been an inspiration!” she said dreamily as she stepped out onto the balcony and let the late morning breeze blow through her loose raven black hair. She paused for a few seconds and then went inside and gracefully threw herself down onto a chaise lounge at corners with the one Éowyn was walking towards. The Princess of Ithilien was carrying two wine goblets and handed one to Arwen before she settled on her own chaise.
“I have complete confidence in my staff’s ability to make a success of this family anniversary dinner, but I suppose I will have to peek in to see how the early preparations are going. But after all these years I still am a complete disaster at anything culinary.”
Arwen laughed. “Well, at least you can admit it. Elladan, even after centuries of evidence and supposed practice cannot cook anything truly edible. And he refuses to admit it!”
“Men! Be they Elf or Man, they are still the same stubborn creatures!” Éowyn declared.
Arwen laughed and finished off her wine and rose to refill her goblet, and motioned to ask whether Éowyn wanted some more. In answer Éowyn handed over her goblet.
Having refilled the two goblets, Arwen said as she was handing Éowyn her cup, “There is something I am wanting to ask.”
“Ask, and if it can be done, it shall be done.”
“You know our youngest, Nestriel. She is showing quite a gift and interest in healing and it is coming time when we could consider fostering.”
“Who are you thinking of?” Éowyn queried.
“Me!” Éowyn artlessly blurted. “I would think she could learn all she needs to know from Aragorn,” Éowyn said, referring to Aragorn’s renown reputation as healer.
“While that is true, the knowledge you have acquired is not to be overlooked.” Arwen paused. “I ask for another reason. You know that Nestriel is more quiet than either Eldarion or Leithril.”
“I want her to have some time away. I did it when I was young. Fostering will be good for her and there are no two people I would trust more with one of our children than you and Faramir.”
Éowyn blushed at the compliment then smiled. “We would be honored. And Finduílas will be thrilled. When were you thinking?”
“Not until spring, I think. It is a time for new directions.
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