His Father's Son by Linda Hoyland|
No summary given.
"You look beautiful Morwen!" Eowyn regarded her young daughter approvingly as her nurse led her into the room. The young Princess of Ithilien was dressed in a blue silk gown, which set off her long golden hair to perfection.
"I donít want to go to tea with Eldarion as boys are so rough!" Morwen pouted, "I would much rather look at my story books and play with my dolls!"
Eowyn sighed. It never failed to amaze her that she could have given birth to such a quiet and bookish child as unlike her self as chalk differed from cheese.
"Come, I will brush your hair today!" she said, "You may go Alis."
The nurse bowed and left.
Eowyn picked up the hairbrush and teased it though her daughterís silken locks then plaited them into two long braids tied with blue satin bows to match her gown.
"Eldarion will want to play rough boysí games!" Morwen said mournfully gazing at her mother with soulful grey eyes, so like those of Faramir, her father.
"It is an honour to be invited to tea with the Prince," Eowyn explained patiently, "Uncle Aragorn will be there too."
Morwen visibly brightened;" I will ask him to tell me a story!" she smiled, "He knows lots of good stories, even more than adar does!"
"He has lived far longer than I, done far greater deeds and seen far more places!" Faramirís quiet voice came from the open doorway.
Morwen raced across to her father and wrapped her arms around his waist, which was as high as she could reach, "You know my favourite stories though, adar, so donít be sad!" she exclaimed.
"Are you both ready?" Faramir asked.
"Yes, Arwen has promised to take me to the weekly audience she has for the poor so I do not want to be late," Eowyn replied as she joined her husband and took her small daughterís hand.
"Must you go this afternoon, Vanimelda?" Aragorn pleaded with his wife, who was already donning her cloak, "Eldarionís nurse has asked for the afternoon off to visit her ailing sister so I will be left to look after him and Morwen!"
Arwen snorted: "Anyone would think the task of looking after two small children aided by Faramir and as many servants as you need was beyond you, Estel! You should spend more time with your son!"
"Maybe I could heal the nurseís sister?" Aragorn suggested hopefully, "Then she could come back and stay with the children?"
" I hardly think that likely as she is pregnant!" Arwen chuckled.
"Could the poor not wait until tomorrow? " Aragorn asked desperately
Of course they cannot, they rely on me hearing their petitions today!" Arwen said firmly "I must go. I know what is really troubling you! As you have not seen Faramir for two weeks you are eager to discuss the latest additions to the Royal Library with him!"
Aragorn had the grace to look sheepish. He should have known that his wife would easily see through him!
Arwen went outside to await Eowynís arrival so that they could walk to the Great Hall together. Every week, anyone who wished for help could speak to the Queen, who with her astute Elven abilities would know at once if they were genuinely in need or not. She would then provide work for those who were able and food and clothing for those who could not.
Aragorn went to collect his son from the nursery where one of the maids was looking after him.
Eldarion was a handsome little boy with black hair, which waved slightly, and large grey eyes, which were wide and appealing.
He ran to hug his father as Aragorn entered. "Adar, will you play with me?" he pleaded, as his father kissed him lovingly.
"I will play with you and Morwen after tea," Aragorn promised.
"Morwen?" Eldarion scowled, " Is she coming? I donít like her!"
"She is a very sweet little girl!" Aragorn said reprovingly, "Why ever not? And why are you not wearing your best clothes?"
"I donít like girls and I donít like wearing silly clothes!"Eldarion replied.
The maid looked anxious. "I am sorry, Sire," she said bowing deeply, " I did suggest that the Prince should change but he did not wish to! Please do not be angry, Sire!"
Aragorn smiled at her kindly, " I am not annoyed," he said, " I suggest that you now see that the tea is laid out in the gardens while I deal with my son."
Looking greatly relieved, the maid bowed and scuttled away.
Aragorn turned his attention to his son," Come here and I will help you change into your best clothes!" he said.
"I donít want to!" Eldarion said sulkily.
"You will do as you are told as your King commands you!" Aragorn said in his sternest tone.
Eldarion meekly obeyed.
A few minutes later Aragorn was sitting beside his son on the living room couch. A very subdued Eldarion was now resplendent in a black velvet tunic and breeches embroidered in silver.
"Why do I have to wear this?" Eldarion moaned.
"Because you are a Prince and have a responsibility to look the part when you have guests," his father explained patiently," Being my son gives you many privileges but with that comes even more responsibilities!"
Just then a servant showed Faramir and Morwen into the room.
The two men embraced and kissed each other on the brow.
" I have missed you, little brother!" Aragorn exclaimed, "There is so much I want to talk to you about!"
"I haves missed you too!" Faramir replied, "It is good to see you again!"
"Uncle Aragorn!" Morwen tugged at the Kingís sleeve, " Daddy says you will tell me a story! Will you?"
"Of course, little one!" He swept her up and embraced her. Morwen wound chubby arms around the Kingís neck and nestled her golden head against his neck.
"Your beard tickles just like adarís!" she giggled.
Eldarion had bowed politely to greet the visitors as bidden but now he stood scowling, dismayed that his ada should make so much fuss of a girl!
A maid appeared and announced that tea was served in the garden for the children. Aragorn and Faramir followed them outside to where a small table was spread with a spotless white cloth and laden with all manner of delectable food.
Both children had been taught to observe the Standing Silence after which they eagerly began tucking into bread spread with honey butter and pies made of eggs, cheese and herbs.
Aragorn and Faramir sat on a bench drinking tea for a while and observing their children who were on their best behaviour.
"I have had some really interesting new books delivered to the library," Aragorn told his Steward.
Faramirís eyes lit up." I can hardly wait to see them!" he said longingly, "But I expect I will have to wait until tomorrow."
Aragorn glanced at the children who were sipping apple and honey cordial with angelic expressions on their young faces. "I will show you while they are eating their tea," he said, "The maid is here with them so what harm could it possibly do? We will be back before they have finished eating and then we can tell them stories and play games with them."
He felt a trifle uneasy as he spoke for he had promised Arwen to look after their son and Morwen. However it was not as if he were leaving them alone and after all Morwen was such a good child and Eldarion, although stubborn at times, was a most lovable little boy.
The maid was just refilling the childrenís goblets when the two men slipped away.
"Be good, children! " Faramir said, " We will be back in a few minutes."
"My adar is a Prince!" Morwen said adoringly as her father disappeared from her sight.
"My adar is a King!" Eldarion replied scathingly.
"My Uncle Eomer is a King and your adar is my Uncle too, so I have two kings as uncles!" said Morwen, determined not to be outdone.
"My adar isnít your real uncle!" Eldarion retorted while the maid cleared away the first course and brought in a plate of delicious smelling gingerbread followed by dishes filled with gooseberry fool and custard tart. The cook was fond of both children and always tried to create something especially nice for them.
"Yes he is!" Morwenís lip was starting to tremble.
"My adar isnít your real uncle as your adar is just my adarís servant! "Eldarion retorted.
"My adar is a prince and the Steward, not a servant and you are a nasty rude boy!" Morwen retorted trying hard not to cry.
"You are not to speak to me like that!" Eldarion replied his eyes flashing and looking very like his father at that moment. He had been playing with the custard tart on his plate and deciding he did not like it much, tipped the contents over the surprised Morwen.
"Your Highness! My Lady!" the maid protested, starting to panic. She had been so delighted when she, the most junior nursery maid had been asked to supervise the children in the presence of the King and the Steward that she had failed to mention that her experience of children was so far limited to putting out Eldarionís clothes and helping the Nurse supervise his mealtimes. This was the first time he had been in her sole charge and she had never met Morwen before.
Morwen started to cry.
"Cry baby!" Eldarion taunted.
Morwen retorted by tipping her plate of gooseberry fool over his head.
The nursery cat, delighted at such unexpected bounty, jumped on the little girlís lap, which such force that she slid off her chair onto the grass. It then started to lick up the custard then jumped on the table and sent the dishes flying.
Eldarion started to giggle and pushed the indignant Morwen into a bed of carefully tended cultivated daises.
Now furious, and having inherited her motherís hot temper, Morwen screamed and reached for a plate which still contained some custard tart and flung the contents at Eldarion. It missed him and landed at his feet.
Lunging towards her, Eldarion then slipped in the puddle of custard and joined Morwen in the flowerbed
It was the maidís turn to scream. She fled in search of assistance. She had never imagined that Prince Eldarion could behave like this!
Morwen climbed out of the flowerbed, her tears forgotten at the spectacle of Eldarion covered in food and mud and decapitated daises. The cat initially started by the falling dishes, remerged and started to lick his face.
"You do look funny!"Morwen giggled.
"So do you!" Eldarion replied regarding her with a new found respect as he had expected her to go on crying. In his opinion she looked much nicer splattered with earth and custard. He did not think much of the frills and flounces that little girls seemed to favour!
"My adar is going to be very angry! " Eldarion sighed.
"Does he beat you?" Morwen asked anxiously.
"No, but he is scary when he is cross and he shouts!" Eldarion shuddered at the thought.
"My adar doesnít beat me either but he will be upset," Morwen said sadly. "He likes me to be good when we visit Uncle Aragorn!"
"Let us go and find naneth!" Eldarion suggested, "Adar is rarely cross when she is there! Sheís in the Great Hall helping the poor."
Hand in hand the two children made their way out of the gardens. The guards charged with their protection ignored the two scruffy urchins who walked past them, talking about going to where Mummy was with the poor, thinking they must belong to some servant who sadly neglected their children.
"Elvish poetry!" Faramir exclaimed in rapture, as he perused the heap of volumes on the library table.
"Have you seen this one?" Aragorn asked, smiling at his friendís obvious pleasure. "The History of the Stewards of Gondor from Mardil until the Present Day?"
" I would love to read that!" Faramir exclaimed, his eyes shining with pleasure.
"I wish you had been there when they arrived last week," Aragorn said, " I have missed you a great deal. Arwen likes books but she has seen so many during her long life that she lacks your enthusiasm. Her father was always pressing her to read more."
"I envy your lady," Faramir said wistfully, " My father would beat me if he caught me reading as he said I should be practicing with the sword or bow instead!"
"You can have as many books as you want now, mellon nin!" Aragorn assured him, as always determined to try and be a far kinder father figure to his Steward than Denethor had ever been.
Faramir was already excitedly perusing another volume when a knock came on the library door.
"Enter!" called Aragorn rather sharply, annoyed at the interruption.
A flustered looking maid inched through the doorway, a look of abject terror on her face. "My Lords!" she gasped," I scare know how to tell you this butÖ" she swallowed hard unable to continue.
His irritation forgotten, Aragorn smiled at her kindly," You have nothing to fear," he said gently," Just tell me what is wrong!"
"Prince Eldarion and Lady Morwen have gone missing, My Lords!" the girl stammered.
"Missing? That is impossible! How could they go missing?" Aragornís reaction was incredulous. He had left the children in the care of a nursery maid and the Royal Apartments and gardens were well guarded.
"It seems that there was an argument and then the cat knocked over the table. Laerwen, who was looking after them went to fetch help and when she returned there was no sign of them anywhere!"
Faramir turned pale.
"Maybe they are hiding behind the bushes and playing a prank?" Aragorn suggested, his features as pallid as his Stewardís despite his outwardly calm demeanour.
"The Guards have searched the gardens and there is no sign of them!" the girl replied.
"Could they have gone outside?"Aragorn demanded.
"The Guards were there all afternoon and never left their posts, Sire." the servant replied.
"You may go!" Aragorn dismissed the girl; "Tell the Captain of the Guard I wish to see him immediately!"
As soon as she had gone Faramir groaned," My poor little Morwen whatever can have happened to her? Whatever will Eowyn say?" as he buried his face in his hands. "What if someone has hurt her ?"
"We shall find them!" Aragorn assured him, "They cannot have vanished into thin air!"
The Captain of the Guard then arrived and the King ordered that the Royal Apartments as well as the gardens be searched from top to bottom in search of the missing children.
As soon as he has gone Aragorn grabbed Faramir by the arm and gasped, "What a fool I am! We are rangers are we not! We should examine the gardens before the guards trample all over them!"
Dragging Faramir behind him, he raced outside.
The table still lay overturned in the Royal Garden and the cat now sat on the bench the two fathers had vacated earlier, licking custard from its whiskers.
Guards and servants were running hither and thither and a gardener was approaching the damaged flowerbed with a basket of fresh plants.
"Stop, all of you!" Aragorn cried, " You are trampling on any tracks the children might have left!"
Aragorn noticed a weeping Laerwen and went over to her.
"Tell me exactly what happened!" he ordered.
"The children started fighting and throwing food at each other and then the cat joined in and the table was knocked over!" she sobbed into her apron.
"Why did you leave them?" Aragorn asked sternly.
"I thought they would get hurt, Sire and I didnít know what to do so I went for help!"Laerwen replied," I was only gone for a moment as I fetched the guards."
"Our children were gone in a moment!" Faramir who had been standing by Aragorn, added.
"Iím sorry, Your Majesty, My Lord Steward!" Laerwen wept.
"I will decided what to do with you later!" Aragorn said sternly, " First we must find the children!"
The servants froze where they stood and gaped open mouthed as the King and the Steward went down on their hands and knees, crawling amidst the shattered plates and decapitated daises.
"Look!" exclaimed Aragorn, "There are Eldarionís footprints!"
"And those smaller ones must be Morwenís !" Faramir added.
Still on their hands and knees, the two former rangers followed the trail across the flattened lawns.
"Sire!" a Guard protested, "Surely one of us could do that if you tell us what to look for. It is not seemly that your Majesty should have to crawl on the ground!"
Aragornís eyes were like flints. "My son is missing!" he snapped, "Would you not do likewise if it were your child? Now go and keep searching for them!"
The tracks ceased when the lawn ended on a paved pathway and Aragorn finally got to his feet and looked around as the path branched off in several directions.
Faramir was the first to spot a clue as he noticed something blue a few yards away." That is part of Morwenís hair ribbon!" he exclaimed hurrying to retrieve the object.
"There is no wind today and it cannot have blown there!" said Aragorn, "They must have gone this way! And look, here is a silver thread from Eldarionís tunic, caught against this rose bush!"
The King and the Steward followed the path towards the main gate.
"I must admit it surprises me that they appear to be together," Aragorn remarked, "Eldarion claims not to like girls though how anyone could fail to like your Morwen puzzles me. She is such a sweet little girl!"
"I did not like little girls either when I was his age!" Faramir replied ruefully as they reached the gate and Aragorn carefully questioned the sentry. "I do not think Morwen is very keen on small boys either!"
"The only people who went in or out were two filthy looking children," the man said, "They must belong to a servant, who ought to be ashamed of themselves for not looking after their poor children properly! I assumed they were going to seek help at the Queenís weekly audience for the poor as I heard them mention it. I must certainly have not seen his Highness or Lady Morwen as they are a young lady and gentleman!"
"Come on!" Aragorn again grabbed Faramirís arm and hurried with him towards the Great Hall.
"Where are we going?" the Steward protested," The Guard has not seen our children!"
"What he saw sounds exactly like two children who threw food at each other and then rolled in the flowerbed!" Aragorn said grimly, " Come we must retrieve them before they come to any harm!"
Eowyn tried to stifle a yawn as she marvelled at the Queenís patience in dealing with the endless supplicants. Some were obviously scoundrels such as the healthy looking men smelling of drink who claimed to be too ill to work.
Arwen quickly despatched them to the Houses of Healing where she knew a healer would give them some very nasty tasting medicine.
Then there were the numerous poor widows who had lost their men folk in the war and were struggling to survive. Those, the Queen tried to find useful employment for and gave them food to build up their strength.
Saddest of all were those either sick or maimed who were unable to support themselves and came to beg for help often accompanied by stick thin children.
It horrified the Queen that despite all the efforts she and Aragorn had made, there was still so much suffering in their kingdom.
At the back of the queue were two well-fed but filthy and bedraggled children standing hand in hand. They looked oddly familiar.
Arwen smiled at a woman, who carried a baby with one arm and was also trying to help an older child, a little girl who had one leg shorter than the other and who walked with a crutch.
"Can you sew?" Arwen asked the woman.
"Yes, Your Majesty, " she replied, inclining her head.
"You can earn a living then helping to make sheets for the Royal Household, which you can sew in your own home while you look after your children." Arwen told her.
"Thank you, Your Majesty!" The woman was overjoyed.
" I will have some food sent to home first, Arwen told her," If you speak to my maid over there, she will arrange it."
As the grateful woman turned away, Arwen nudged Eowyn sharply in the ribs and gestured towards the two children who were making their way through the throng of supplicants.
"That looks like Eldarion and your Morwen!" she whispered.
"Surely not?" Eowyn protested, "Those children look as if they live in a ditch! In any case we left them safely with their fathers!"
"Aragorn had better have a good explanation!" Arwen said grimly, " I would know my own son anywhere!
Just then an agitated King accompanied by his Steward burst into the Hall and frantically looked around them.
On catching sight of their fathers, Eldarion and Morwen ran towards the door but Aragorn and Faramir were too quick for them and soon had a firm hold on their frantically wriggling offspring.
"Whatever is the meaning of this?" Arwen asked in her most imperious manner.
"What have you done to Morwen?" Eowyn demanded angrily.
Faramir was dumbstruck.
"We were just playing hide and seek, my dear!" Aragorn replied in dulcet tones as followed by Faramir and Morwen, he led his son away.
"If you will excuse me, Your Majesty?" Eowyn hurried out in pursuit of her husband and daughter.
Aragorn could only watch and wince in silent sympathy whilst Faramir was soundly berated by his wife for allowing their daughter to get in such a condition. He stood firmly grasping Eldarionís hand and glaring at his wayward son, while he debated the best method of punishing him.
"You will go to bed without any supper or a bedtime story tonight, young lady!" Eowyn scolded her now weeping daughter.
"Please, Lady Eowyn, It wasnít Morwenís fault, it was mine!"Eldarion announced, casting a fearful look at his father before deciding to take the blame. "I teased her and was horrid, so please donít be cross with her!"
Aragornís eyes softened although his mouth remained grim. His son had been very naughty but he was proud of his decision to take the blame.
"Very well," Eowyn told her daughter, " I will take you home now as you need to have a bath. Then you can have supper and your usual bedtime story."
"This young man needs a bath too!" Aragorn announced, " But why not bring Morwen back later and I will tell them both a story together?"
"Thank you, I will do that as Morwen has been longing for you to tell her a story," Eowyn replied.
Morwen smiled happily as her mother led her away.
Aragorn decided to bathe Eldarion himself rather than give some unfortunate servant the task of getting the young prince looking presentable again. He decided that Arwen was right and he needed to spend more time with boy.
He told the servants to fill the large sunken tub with hot water and bring soap and towels then dismissed them and proceeded to divest Eldarion of his filthy clothes.
"Your best tunic and breeches are ruined!" he scolded as he rolled up his sleeves and lifted his son into the water, " You have been very naughty today and I am disappointed with you as I expect my son to behave better! Not only that, but I will have to dismiss Laerwen for not looking after you properly!"
"Please adar, do not do that!" Eldarion pleaded, his lower lip trembling," I should be punished instead!"
"I will think about it," Aragorn promised," As for you young man, I expect you to help the gardener replant the daises you ruined and to spend an extra hour each day learning Quenya with your tutor for the next month!"
"Yes, adar," Eldarion said meekly, as his father struggled to wash all the food and earth out of his hair, "Adar, there is something else I should like to do. Please may I give some of my toys and clothes to the poor children I saw this afternoon? I have so much and they have so little! I saw a boy my age with holes in his clothes!"
"Indeed you may, ion nin," pressing a kiss on Eldarionís damp head, "That is a very nice idea!"
Soon afterwards, Eldarion and Morwen both now spotlessly clean and clad in their night attire were seated on Eldarionís bed waiting for the King to tell them a story.
Arwen had scolded Aragorn for leaving the children with an inexperienced servant, but she could never be angry with him for long and he was now forgiven after promising it would never happen again.
"What would you like me to tell you a story about?" Aragorn asked the two children, thinking how sweet they looked with one dark and one fair head pressed together as the looked up at him in eager anticipation.
"Please tell us about how you fought the corsairs!" Eldarion begged.
Morwen looked disappointed as she had little interest in battles.
"But would you then tell us about how you first met Morwenís adar?" the young prince added," I would like to hear that story!"
"That is my very favourite!" Morwen beamed.
An hour later, Arwen entered the nursery and found her husband snoring softly with the two children both fast asleep, lying either side his lap and snuggled closely against him.
She had come to bid her son goodnight and take Morwen back to her parents, but she could not resist lingering for a few moments to enjoy the peaceful scene and not for the first time thank the Valar that she had been blessed with such a loving husband and beautiful child who was truly his fatherís son.