The Adventures of Laramir pt. 1 (AU) - Just What the Doctor Ordered

It was a lovely day in Osgilliath. Actually, that's not completely true: no one actually lived in Osgilliath; you'd have to be crazy to want to live there. For one thing there was hardly any houses there. Most of them had fallen long ago into ruin, some from the attacks barely remembered save by old men learned in lore, and most of the rest because no one wanted to live so close to the Andúin, and the Black Land.

But it was a nice day outside of Osgilliath, at any rate on the farm where Kaänawe lived with his two sons Borlin and Farlin. His wife Deilawyn had also, of course, lived there, that is until the Easterlings killed her in a raid three years earlier. They all first came to the area twenty years ago; before that, Osgilliath did not answer to Minas Tirith but rather to the Eye.

On this beautiful day, Denethor journeyed to Kaänawe's farm, but not for a social visit. For the last three years Denethor had refused to eat in Kaänawe's house, even though he was Kaänawe's brother-in-law. But they say love is stronger than grudge, and in this case it proved true. You see, Denethor's only daughter, Mellawyn, had developed a cough, the winter before that didn't go away; "pneumonia was now whispered in the palace halls. "too much book-dust," the doctors said. "Send her out of the city. This Mithrandir will be the death of her." They had a point; just after last year's harvest, Mithrandir, whom some call Gandalf the Grey, had come from beyond the Misty Mountains. After calling once at Denethor's court he had gone straight to the city libraries. Mellawyn had been fascinated by this strange visitor from far away, and had followed him. Not long after that, she had first developed the cough.

So Denethor journeyed with his wife Mellaura, his daughter Mellawyn, and a handful of palace guards. They travelled to within a half-mile of Kaänawe's farm, and stopped. Denethor sent the women ahead with one of his guards, for protection reasons--you couldn't be too careful in these dark lands--while he himself stayed behind. The guard returned within the hour, and the company returned to Minas Tirith.

Mellaura and Mellawyn spent the morning settling in. Slowly the sun rose in the sky. Mellaura noticed this and turned her eyes to the kitchen.

"Now that's a sight if I ever I saw one! Leave it to my brother to make a mess of things, when there's no woman to look after him. Mellawyn, honey, you clean off the table; I'm going down to the spring to wash out this cauldron. Filthy!" She returned a few minutes later with a clean pot, and fresh water beside. "There's some firewood around back; go and fetch some, and we'll start a fire. I see Kaänawe's seen to that, at least."

Before long they had a fire going, water boiling, and a good stew cooking. Mellaura had helped Mellawyn make a good dough with the first of the winter barley, and a loaf of bread was cooking in the oven.

"Mama, that's a lot of food. How are we ever going to eat it all?"

"Well, it's not so much for five."

"Five? Mama, you must be tired; there's only two of us!"

"What? You're father didn't tell you? No, of course not; he won't speak my brother's name. Mellawyn, whose house is this?"

"Why, papa's, of course."

"Well, yes, in a way. All land belongs to him, until the King returns. But who lives on it? That's a different question. Your Papa helped take this land back from the evil men, many years ago. He's told you about that, of course? Yes. Well, my brother Kaänawe's been farming this land for about eleven years now. Started right after Borlin, your cousin was born. He--"

The door flung open. "Why, there's no fire, Borlin! You said you saw smoke!"

"Oh, yes, there is, right here in the hearth," Mellaura retorted.

"Mellaura! Good to see you, love. And who is this... no, it's got to be Mellawyn. I'm sorry the house is such a fright; I wasn't expecting you until next week."

"Yes, but Mellawyn's cough's worse, and the doctors didn't want her in the city another day. There wasn't time to send a letter. You don't mind, do you?"

"Of course not. My house is your house. Eyes can see a woman's touch is needed around the place."

"Who are you?" Mellawyn asked suspiciously.

"I'm sorry, honey. This is Kaänawe, my brother. And those boys are Borlin and Farlin."

Borlin she called a boy because that is what she had last seen, but he was more man than boy: fourteen years old, tall and lanky, with muscles that proved he was used to working the land. Farlin, on the other hand, she called a boy by right. After all, he was only five, a year younger than Mellawyn, and though he lived on a farm and worked with the animals, he was not a farmer in his heart, and still enjoyed books and dreams, like any proper son of Gondor.

"There's a stew cooking, and I made some bread. But I'm afraid we don't have any pudding."

Farlin ran out silently with a goofy grin on his face, and a minute later came back dragging a pail nearly half as tall as he was. Kaänawe walked over.

"A bit ambitious aren't you, lad? But what a wonderful idea. Fresh wild berries and cream will make a fine pudding."

Spring faded into summer. At first Mellawyn stayed inside most of the time helping her mother around the house, but Mellaura let her take water to her cousins out in the field, and the two of them had lots of picnics outside by the creek. Her mother had a better outdoor treat planned for her, an as luck would have it, for Farlin too.

"Kaänawe, I was thinking. Look at Farlin here, so worn out after a day of work. He's too small to work like you and Borlin do. You'll wear him out. And Mellawyn needs more time out of this house; that's why we came out here, anyway. Would you let me plant a small garden near the house? Wild berries are nice, but we could have lots of fruit, our own. And potatoes, think of all you can do with potatoes. Boil them, mash them, stick them in a stew? And flowers and a few herbs. I'm sure I could manage it, if I had both Mellawyn and Farlin to help me. And it's not too late in the year to start yet."

"No, it's not too late. But where in Eru's name will you get the seeds? You know I'm not allowed in Minas Tirith; that's why we didn't plant one years ago. And if you think I'm letting you go by yourself, in these dangerous times..."

"Wouldn't dream of it. And besides, there's no need." She grinned wryly at her brother. "I brought my own with me."

"Well of all the things... why aren't they in the ground yet? And take Farlin, if you can keep him out of trouble. You're right; he is too young to work in the fields, and I half don't know what to do with him."

So that settled it. The very next morning the three of them planted their garden. And life fell into a pattern they all were happy with. It was the middle of April by that point, and Borlin and Kaänawe really needed to be in the field all the day long. Mellaura would make the two of them a lunch the night before, usually some roasted meat, a fruit or vegetable, and some bread and gravy. They would be gone before Mellawyn woke up. In the morning they usually had a good hot breakfast of porridge and cream, with water from the stream to drink. After breakfast Mellawyn and Farlin would work in their garden, first planting the potatoes, tomatoes, flowers, herbs, and other good things, and later weeding it and chasing away birds. Mellaura worked inside, doing all of the cleaning that someone must do to keep the house clean; Mellawyn and Farlin saw smoke later in the morning, and they knew they knew they had an hour to play before dinner, if their work in the garden was done. Most days it was.

After dinner, Mama got out her books, hidden treasures from Minas Tirith, that she had never told anyone about. If it was a nice day she, Mellawyn and Farlin would sit under a big tree by the stream bank and she would teach them letters; on rainy days they did the same thing in the sitting room, in front of a warm fire. Mellawyn had tasted letters when she saw Mithrandir pouring over them, but she did not know what they represented; and Farlin, a boy of six, did not even know they existed. By harvest time both of them could write their name and read the stories Mellaura wrote out for them at night.

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