Where Do Babies Come From? by Nautika|
Author's Note: Legolas, Aragorn, and others are mentioned, but the story is from Eldarion's point of view.
"Eldarion, where do babies come from?"
The four of us have been on our own for some time. My father said I am in charge, but I am smart enough not to tell the others. There is a guard who will come if we call, but I do not believe I should call him for this. So how do I answer Estella's question? Trust her to be the one to ask. Gilraen is too shy, and Elboron would never admit not knowing. I do know the answer, but I doubt our parents would want these three to hear it from me. Elboron is four years younger than me, and my sisters are three years younger than Elboron.
Perhaps I can use a diversion. I recently learned the word in my studies and I like it because of its connection to battle. I look at Elboron and decide to go with this plan. It is plain he will soon laugh hard enough to wet himself if I do not do something.
"Which babies?" I ask. "Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves, or babies of Harad?"
"You mean everyone is not the same?" Estella's eyes are large at this new bit of knowledge.
I laugh. "Of course not! We eat three meals a day while Hobbits eat three before midday! Why would all babies come from the same place? Not even all elven babies come from the same place!" I take a moment to be grateful for Legolas' sense of humor. Perhaps I can visit him until all other adults in my life forget – and forgive – what I am about to do.
"Really?" This time, Gilraen speaks, her voice an awed whisper.
"Really. Let's start with the Hobbits. Food is very important to Hobbits, as you all know." Three heads nod at me. "They have first and second breakfasts, elevensies, nuncheon –"
Elboron cuts in. "What does that have to do with anything?"
I glare at him for interrupting, but answer anyway. "Since food is such a big part of a Hobbit's life, their babies are found in their gardens. I've never heard of a Dwarf that has a garden, but a Hobbit isn't a Hobbit without one."
I drop the hook and hope one of my listeners takes the bait. I bet myself that it will be Estella, and I am not disappointed.
"If Dwarves don’t have gardens, where do their babies come from?"
"Well, let's think about it. What do you think of when you think about Dwarves?"
"Gimli is a who, not a what." I try to speak kindly as Gilraen embarrasses easily. "I am not sure how to explain what I mean."
Elboron leans over and whispers to Gilraen. A smile spreads across her face and she straightens and says proudly, "They all have beards!"
I am not sure that Elboron has really helped, but I decide he meant well.
"That's more what I meant! Estella? What do you think of?"
"They live in mines!"
Elboron frowns slightly. He gave one answer to Gilraen, and now Estella has probably taken the one he meant to use. I try to word what I say to Estella in a way that will help Elboron, yet not let him know I am doing it.
"That's right. And they spend more time working in mines now that the Ring War is over." From the look on Elboron's face, he has thought of another answer. "Elboron?"
"They work in stone, too."
"Yes, they do." I had expected him to say something about the Dwarves' weapons, but perhaps he did not mention it because of the girls. I am just glad he had an answer.
As I think about the three answers, I am tempted to use Gilraen's because I think the idea of a baby coming from a beard is funny, but Elboron would never believe it. "Those were all good answers."
"So which is the right one?" Elboron is impatient. He likely believes Estella has given the best answer, and is not happy about being made to look stupid by a 5 year old. Unfortunately, he is right. Estella's answer is the most believable.
"Dwarf babies come from the mines." I tell them. Estella opens her mouth, but I pretend not to notice and quickly ask, "Elves or Haradrim next?"
Gilraen's eyes light up and her quiet "Elves!" is almost drowned out by Elboron's shouted "Haradrim!"
Instead of deciding myself, I pass the task on to Estella. "You break the tie, Tella." Elboron might not be happy, but he cannot truly be angry with either of my sisters. And Estella goes from being mad at me for cutting her off to being pleased at being the center of attention.
The 'please' tells me this is something important to her. I know she is thinking of our mother, who is in our parents' bedchamber giving us another brother or sister. For a moment, I worry, but Father and Eowyn are with her, and my job is to keep the girls from being afraid until Faramir joins us in Elboron's room. I take time to hope Council will soon be over then ask, "Which Elves?"
Before even Estella can speak, Elboron says I should decide. I am surprised until I understand he wants to finish Elven babies as fast as possible so I can talk about the babies of Harad. I humor him on the first one. After all, he helped Gilraen with Dwarves.
"Very well. In Lothlorien, the elves lived on flets in huge Mallorn trees. The babies in Lothlorien were found under Mallorn leaves.
Elboron looks doubtful, but Gilraen's face lights up like it did when she received her favorite doll. I force myself to meet their eyes. Father says it is important - like being honest my conscience reminds me. My other sister, as is her way, asks a question.
"Legolas is a Wood-elf. Was he found under a leaf, too?"
I almost choke trying not to laugh. "Eryn Lasgalen elves are found in treetops. Doesn’t that seem right for Legolas?"
Elboron seems less doubtful now, and the girls nod happily. I am again grateful that Legolas has a sense of humor.
I decide it is best to speak of Harad now, and not remind my sisters of Mother. "The babies of Harad-"
"Wait! You forgot Rivendell babies!"
I pretend that Estella is right. "Ah, so I have. What do you think of when you picture what Elladan and Elrohir say about Rivendell?"
Elboron watches the girls. He doesn’t get to spend as much time with my uncles as we do. The twins face each other, then grab each other's hands, and answer together "The waterfall!"
My sisters are smart girls – but I would not tell them that. "Exactly! Babies of Rivendell are found behind the waterfall."
Elboron is beginning to lose interest in babies. Even though I know he really likes the girls, I also know he has less patience than I do with them.
"It is your turn, Elboron." I would praise him for waiting, but that would be like a lady of the Court telling him that he is cute. He would not like it – at least not in front of the girls. I may thank him later, man-to-man. "Now we will speak of Harad. Since your father fought the men of Harad for many years, would you like to tell us where you think their babies come from?"
Elboron's brow crinkles. He does not wish to disgrace himself, and the girls are beginning to fidget by the time he speaks. "My father has told me about the oliphants, and how the men have dark hair and eyes and wear bright colors." Elboron pauses. He knows none of these things bring him any closer to a real answer.
He frowns more, and I try to help him. "My father has spoken of their clothes, too. He says they dress for hot weather."
"Yes! Because there is a lot of desert in Harad!"
"Right! And that is where their babies come from – the desert!"
All that thinking may have alerted Elboron to the game I am playing. He faces the girls and says firmly – as though he really knows. "This means my Uncle Eomer's babies are found in the stable – like the foals."
He watches me closely. I must be careful not to insult Rohan. Eomer can be fun, but he is not Legolas. "Babies of Rohan can be found in the stable or in their own homes. And in Minas Tirith, where we have no trees, dessert, or waterfalls, and very few gardens, they are found at home or in the Houses of Healing."
Now it is Gilraen who frowns. "What is it, Gil?" I reach over and touch her hand and she looks at me. There is such faith in her eyes that I begin to feel bad about the tales I have told. I know I meant well, but suddenly I wonder if I have done more harm than good. Ah, well. I will explain it to Father and he will fix it…or tell me how to fix it. He is good at that. For now I watch Gilraen and hope I can fix what bothers her.
"Momma is from Rivendell."
I understand that she worries that Mother needs a waterfall. "It is well, Gil. She lives here now. You must not worry." I know it is easier for me to say it than for her to do it; suddenly I wish for my father. He would know the right thing to say. I hope when I am a father that I will be as wise and patient as he. I think I am patient, but I have much to learn before I am wise.
Elboron speaks. He sounds as thought he is forcing energy…like when he hurt himself and did not want to be fussed over in front of his friends. "Why should we worry? Everyone knows that it is the place that matters!"
The three of us turn to our friend in surprise. A few minutes ago, he was asking about Haradrim babies. Now he speaks the same way my last tutor did…as if he knows everything. I raise my eyebrow at him. I have been told I look like my grandfather Elrond when I do this. It seems to make my mother sad, so I do not do it often. I briefly wonder if we should not have had word from Father by now. Elboron meets my eyes – his father must have told him it is important, too – and I see friendship there, and perhaps loyalty.
"It is?" Gilraen whispers.
"Sure," Elboron says. He seems very comfortable with this topic all of a sudden. "If Dwarves decided to move to Eryn Lasgalen, they would find their babies in trees."
The friendship in his eyes has turned to mischief…they shine with it and his lips twitch at the ends. I cough behind a hand to hide my laughter. This is important to the girls, especially our gentle Gilraen.
They look back and forth from Elboron to me. I think of Mother and of how long it has been and I am suddenly serious again. But it is my job to keep them from worrying. I know what will lead Estella into an argument, and that will pass some more time. "Elboron is right and soon, we will have a baby brother."
Estella launches to her knees, but before she can answer, Faramir steps from behind the door and speaks. "Eldarion, you boast too soon. I stopped by your apartments on the way here. You have a new baby sister."
The girls crow with delight. Elboron looks at me with pity. But Faramir kneels by my side and whispers for my ears only, "You are a good big brother, Eldarion."
Elboron joins us. "Don't worry, Eldarion. I'll share my brother with you when I get one."
"You're a good friend, Elboron, but I guess another sister won't be too bad." A thought suddenly strikes me. "How long were you in the other room, Faramir?"
Now Faramir's eyes shine with the same mischief as his son's. "Long enough, Eldarion. Definitely long enough."