This is Why|
Summary: No one wants to see their loved one go off to war. A young man comes to terms with battle with the help of his father.
Light pink and orange rays peaked over the horizon and bathed two figures standing in the white, stone courtyard. One figure was a tall man dressed in leather armor, and he held a sword in his hand. He watched the twelve year-old across from him with an impassive expression. The red-faced youth attempted to sheath his dull, practice sword for the third time. With a growl he finally managed to slide his steel between the leather. Without casting a glance at his instructor, he crossed the courtyard toward the white castle still partly blanketed in night’s shadows. His chest heaved under his damp tunic. Beads of sweat poured down his face in rivulets. Gray eyes flecked with blue were stormy, and the guards standing by the door avoided making eye contact with him. This did not escape the young man’s notice. However, he was too upset to care, for he was in no mood to talk this morning. The muscles in his arms groaned as he shoved the black doors open. A buzzing pain shot from his right wrist up his arm. He bit back a cry, and cradled his wrist. He was no healer, but the youth figured it was probably twisted. “It’s not worth it,” the boy muttered with a shake of his head.
The aromas of freshly baked bread and sweet rolls greeted him as he entered the castle, but their scent did nothing to invoke his appetite. The marble halls were beginning to come alive, as they did every morning, with occupants and servants bustling about with preparations for the day. The halls echoed with footsteps and whispers. Yet, something was off. The weight of the footsteps and tone of the whispers were wrong. The youth lifted his head, focusing on the difference. The whispers were urgent and solemn, not tinged with chirpy greetings or gossip. Normally, the people’s footfalls were light, but this morning they were hurried and heavy. Something is amiss, the boy realized, his brow crinkling with worry. He quickened his pace towards his parents’ quarters. They will know what is happening.
Within in a couple of minutes he reached the wing that housed his parents’ bedroom and his father’s study. A familiar person quietly exited the chambers. The torchlight’s glow illuminated her midnight blue dress, and long, dark tresses bound in a single braid. “Nana?” the youth called gently.
She turned to face him. He noticed the pinched lines of worry on her face. Squinting closer, he recognized a sheen of tears glistened in her eyes. His heart thudded faster as the boy closed the space between them. His naneth only acted like this when she was worried about his ada. The youth embraced her, ignoring the pain it caused his wrist, “Nana, What’s wrong?”
She pulled her son tighter against her, and pressed a kiss to his head. Sucking in a breath, she whispered, “Your ada…he is…”
His own breath hitched in his throat. His adar returned just three days ago from a month long campaign. A flood of possible scenarios of his adar hurt or dying from a delayed poison or hidden injury swirled in the youth’s head. The boy did not wait to hear the end of her statement. He wrenched himself from her arms and dashed into his parents’ room.
Panicked eyes zeroed in on the bed, expecting to find his ailing adar. To his shock and relief, the bed was empty and made. Where is he then? The jingle of chainmail directed his attention to the window. His nana’s reaction made sense upon laying eyes on the regal figure by the window. Strands of his peppered hair was pulled back in small braids, mostly likely his nana’s work. A jerkin with the White Tree symbol adorned his chest and an emerald stone held his crimson cloak in place. A brew of anger, sadness, and fear welled in the youth’s chest while he watched the man strap on his sword belt. “Ada!” he choked.
His adar glanced up toward the sound. His tired eyes brightened upon seeing his son, and a small smile graced his face. “Eldarion,” he greeted warmly, “What is it, ion nin?”
Eldarion knew the answer in his heart, but he still asked the question, hoping he was wrong, “Where are you going?”
Aragorn sighed wearily. He hated this part. “We received word last night that bands of brigands are attacking Ithilien. They have requested aid. I’m sorry, ion nin, but I must go.”
“Why?” the youth cried, eyes flashing. “You are always leaving! You just returned home from battle. Why do you have to go again, Ada?” Embarrassed by the tears pooling in his eyes, Eldarion looked away, “Why can you not stay home with me?”
“Oh, ion nin, I wish I could stay here with you and your naneth,” Aragorn soothed while he walked toward the dejected boy. The sight tore at his heart. He loved Eldarion dearly. If only he could make him understand! He took his son’s hands, “Eldarion…”
“I do not want to hear this,” Eldarion angrily jerked his hands away, aggravating his wrist injury. A hiss of pain escaped unbidden through his teeth
Aragorn’s brow furrowed with concern, and his face softened further. “Eldarion, you’re hurt.”
“I’m fine,” the boy mumbled.
The man chuckled lightly. “You take too much after your Uncle Legolas. You, ion nin, are not fine. Now, let me see it.”
After a moment, Eldarion deflated. He sullenly held out his wrist for his ada to inspect.
“Hannon le,” Aragorn murmured to his son, and began his inspection. The joint was already starting to swell. Fresh, pink bruises marred the skin. Gingerly, he prodded the wrist at certain points, noting when Eldarion flinched. “How did this happen?”
The youth tensed again, and his nostrils flared, “It happened during training! Philemon kept disarming me over and over again, and he caught my wrist doing it. Ow!”
His adar quickly eased up on the pressure he placed on the joint. Nodding his head, Aragorn responded, “Hmmm…I see. Unfortunately, even training is not without its risks.” Eldarion only huffed in response. Aragorn raised a questioning eyebrow, but said nothing.
Finishing his examination of the injury, he squeezed the youth’s shoulder, “I am afraid your wrist is twisted, ion nin.”
“I figured it was,” Eldarion sighed.
“Come, let me tend to it before I leave. My supplies are over here.”
He steered his son by the shoulders to the other side of the wide room where a budding fire warmed the massive fireplace. Eldarion sat sullenly on the plush rug in front of it, while Aragorn gathered a few of his healing supplies from a nearby chest and joined the boy.
Aragorn opened a container of salve, and scooped out a glob. “This should numb the pain,” he explained as he generously spread it over the youth’s injury. Next, he wound a role of white bandages around the wrist. Despite his ministrations, Eldarion’s countenance remained gloomy. Ai! he is still upset, he lamented inwardly, Yet, I cannot find it in my heart to blame him, for I do not wish to leave either.
Hoping to cheer his son, the king smiled as he tied off the bandage, “You will need to rest it for seven days, but you should be able to return to your training with Philemon after that.”
“No, Ada. I am not going back to training! I…I quit!” exclaimed Eldarion fiercely.
Aragorn gaped at him. He did not expect this sudden outburst of conviction, “Eldarion, why do you want to quit training?”
“I am tired of all it! I’m tired of practicing the same things over and over. I’m tired of getting hurt all the time. It’s not worth it, Ada! I’m not doing it anymore!”
“You cannot just abandon your training, ion nin,” His adar replied calmly.
The youth pulled away. “Why?”
“Because it is for your own good. You train now, so you can protect yourself in battle when you get older.”
“Well, what if I do not want to go to battle? I can become a master healer like you and daeradar and stay here in Minas Tirith,” Eldarion argued.
Aragorn shook his head, “I am afraid that is not your path, ion.” He scooted closer to his son, rattling his armor as he did so. “As a king there are times when you must leave these walls and ride out with your men to battle.”
Eldarion clinched his fists. “I do not understand! Why do you always have to go with them, Ada? Is that not what the captains are for? Are they not supposed to lead the soldiers?”
Aragorn tenderly lifted his son’s chin, so that he could look him in the eye, “Yes, Eldarion, there are captains to lead the men, but who will lead the captains? You see, ion nin, I go because I am the leader of the people. When I became king, I took an oath to lead them, to support them, and to protect them. The people of Gondor trust me to fulfill my oath to them, and that is a trust I value more than my own life. That is why I ride to battle.”
Eldarion remained silent for several moments as he pondered his ada’s words, looked at his wrist, and then looked towards the window with a faint view of the city. Understanding bloomed in his eyes. Aragorn watched his child’s face display several emotions in that span, emotions that included irritation, thoughtfulness, admiration, and finally peace. His heart swelled with pride for this boy who was becoming a man right before his eyes. He will do well.
The youth sighed. “Fine. I will continue my training,” he muttered, a small smile playing at the corners of his lips.
Aragorn grinned back at him in response, and ruffled his shaggy hair.
“Ada!” Eldarion shouted, shoving the hand off his head and causing his adar to laugh out loud.
“Come here, ion nin,” Aragorn urged. He engulfed Eldarion in a hug, and kissed the top of his head. “I am afraid I must leave you now, but I will return soon. Take care of your nana and our people in my absence.”
Eldarion nodded, “I will, Ada. I promise.”