Things Beyond Price by Nautika|
Disclaimer: We know we arenít Tolkien, right?
Summary: What do young Gondorians know about freedom? Read and learn.
Eldarion chewed on his lower lip, and gazed at the sky, wishing the stars were out. He could always think better then. His father said he got that from his mother, but Eldarion knew both his parents loved the stars. He could also imagine both of them saying, ĎThis isnít getting your report written.í
The door eased open with no knock. That could only be one person.
"Are you still studying?"
Eldarion smiled. "What does it look like Iím doing?"
Elboron sighed. "Studying."
"Then why did you ask?"
"I was hoping we could go to the candy makers."
Eldarion held back his own sigh. "Iím sorry, Elboron. Iíd really like to go, but I have to write a report for my tutor, and I want to do really well on it."
"You always do well." Elboron sounded disgusted, but Eldarion understood that lessons came easier to him than to his friend. That Faramir placed as high an importance on knowledge as Eowyn did on horses didnít help. Elboron felt he was failing his father, even though Faramir had told him he would always be proud of him as long as he did his best. Well, that was a problem for another day.
"This is different, Elboron. Itís important because of what itís about more than because of the grade."
Elboron looked doubtful but grabbed the cushion from near Eldarionís feet and pitched it on the floor. He lowered himself to sit on it almost as gracefully as Legolas would have done Eldarion thought, but knew better than to say so. Elboron wanted good grades, not good grace. "Whatís it about?"
Eldarion decided he could spare a little time from his studies as Elboron seemed really interested. Not only might it help his friend someday, but it would give Eldarion a chance to organize his thoughts. "Itís on the price of freedom."
"You mean you can buy freedom?"
"Not like youíd buy candy." Eldarion hesitated. This was a serious subject, and he wasnít completely sure how Faramir and Eowyn Ė or his own parents, for that matter Ė would feel about him talking to Elboron about it. "Are you sure you want to hear this?"
Elboron hesitates for only a moment before nodding. "Iím sure!"
"My mother says there are things that are beyond price Ė like love and babies. I might complain about Gilraen and Estella, but our family wouldnít be right without them now. And even when Mother or Father punish me, I know they still love me, and thatís what is really important.
"Freedom is like that. Our fathers fought for it during the Ring War Ė "
"My mother, too!"
"Thatís right. Sorry. But even women who didnít fight did their part. Mothers took care of their children, did the work of both parents, and gave up things for themselves to be able to send a little something to their husband who was fightingÖor father or whoever was important to them.
"But what I was saying is that even though we won the war, we paid a high price." Eldarion looked back at the sky, thinking for a few minutes about exactly what he wanted to say. "We paid with the lives of our people. Not just in Gondor, but in Rohan, the elven realms, and even the Shire.
"Everyone in Minas Tirith who is old enough to remember the war knows someone who died in it. Not just soldiers like your Uncle Boromir, or your motherís uncle and cousin, or Fatherís friend Halbarad, who went willingly to battle. The Wild Men raided villages in the Mark and killed women and children. Father says that there were boys not much older than me, and men too old to fight who took up arms at Helmís Deep.
"No matter how many babies are born, it will never balance the losses we suffered in the Ring War. Not for a long time. We can never get back the ones we lost. Thatís the price of freedom, and we have to remember that and never take it for granted."
Eldarion sat in silence for a minute before turning to Elboron. His friend sat with his head against the window seat and his mouth hung open. He was asleep.
Eldarion shook his head. At least he wouldnít have to worry about being in trouble with their parents. He went back to his essay, mentally adding friendship to the list of things that were beyond price.