The puppy stared at Aragorn Elessar as the king pulled off his boots and tossed them on the floor. Aragorn noted the creature’s eyes upon him and returned its stare with a scowl of annoyance. The puppy did not seem to notice his hostility and continued to stare at his master, his tail wagging back and forth, expressing his boundless enthusiasm at his new situation. Aragorn efforts to smother his happy demeanor with a harsh glare had little effect upon the pup. Instead the beast padded across the floor from his appointed sleeping place in the parlor of the royal suite and stopped in front of Aragorn. As if determined to win the king’s hardened heart, the puppy then dropped to its paws before Aragorn’s feet whilst continuing to stare at his new master with its sympathetic eyes.
Aragorn let out a groan of frustration, knowing that he was warming to the creature despite himself. Muttering under his breath, Aragorn leaned forward and begrudgingly patted the puppy gently, a gesture that resulted in having his hand heartily licked by the animal in appreciation. A small smile curled up the side of Aragorn’s lips and he supposed he could understand why Eldarion had grown so attached to the animal in the market place. Perhaps the little thing was worth all the trouble that Aragorn was suffering because of its unexpected purchase.
“Do not think this exonerates you from what I am enduring today,” Aragorn said gruffly, trying not to become too affected by the animal. “I am still unimpressed that my son forced me into buying you and I do intend to take some kind of revenge upon the hawker that tricked me into buying you.”
The puppy did not seem to care. He was more concerned with the patting he was receiving as well acquainting himself with the scent and the taste of the master of his new pack.
“What shall we name you then?” Aragorn asked the puppy, whose wagging tale did not abate to consider the question.
As tempting as it was to name the puppy Boromir, Aragorn decided against it.
“How about Huan?” he asked. The puppy cocked his head but did not appear to disapprove. Aragorn found it somewhat appropriate since the pup’s namesake, the legendary wolfhound of the Valar, had served Orome the Huntsman and had fallen in love with the elven princess, Luthien.
“Huan the wolf hound you shall be.” Aragorn smiled and patted the small dog on the head affectionately, much to the creature’s delight.
After a moment, Aragorn withdrew his hand from the animal and leaned back into the divan, hoping not all his sojourns into the city would end as eventfully as this one. Personally, he would rather be facing an army of Uruk Hai then to endure a repeat of what he suffered today. Who would have thought a simple day out in the city could cause so much trouble?
Aragorn shifted position on the divan and found that it was no use. It was far too uncomfortable for him to rest comfortably upon it without assistance. Letting out a heavy sigh for he had no wish to do this, Aragorn rose to his feet and made his way across the floor to the closed door on the other side of the room. He gazed hopefully at the door as if he could see through the polished wood to the room on the other side. He could hear nothing from the adjoining chamber and knew that elves could be terribly quiet when they wanted to be. Steeling himself for the worst, Aragorn resolved to hold his head high as he bore his next humiliation with the dignity of a king. Fortunately he had only the puppy to witness this embarrassment.
“Undomiel,” Aragorn called out after a moment of deliberation, clearing his throat before speaking.
Unsurprisingly, there was no answer.
“Could I at least have a pillow?”
Another second of uncomfortable silence ensued and Aragorn was almost ready to give up when he heard her soft footsteps against the hard floor. His heart soared at the sound of the door opening, grateful that she was not going to stay angry with him forever.
“Undomiel…,” Aragorn started to say as he saw her through the crack of the door. However, the chance to finish his sentence did not come for he was suddenly hit face first with a pillow. This was immediately followed by the sharp sound of a door slamming shut.
Aragorn stood there for a moment, staring at the pillow and the closed door, uttering curses very softly because elven hearing ensured that she would be able to hear every word he said.
“Yes,” he said softly to himself as he returned to the divan, “it is going to be a long night indeed.”
* * *
It was a beautiful ceremony.
At least it was after the bride and groom were finally found and made to attend.
As they were led to they were led to the wedding by Aragorn, the king was forced to listen to Legolas reminding him of all the occasions were the elf had come to his rescue in one adventure or another. Legolas was working hard to ensure that Aragorn be made to feel as guilty as possible for finding their hiding place and until that moment, Aragorn had no idea that elves had such long memories. This accounting of debts did not see its end until when he was finally forced to join the guests to let the ceremony began.
As was with elven weddings, the feasting took place before the actual betrothal ceremony. This was fortunate because the breaking of bread in the company of friends and family dispelled the anxieties that came with such an occasion. Legolas remained close to Melia, aware that she was terribly nervous about all the fanfare and because the traditions of her own people were vastly different. Thranduil played the part of the perfect host even though he was not the master of Eden Ardhon. It was fortunate that both Celeborn and Pallando was present, for only they were equal enough in stature to speak frankly to Thranduil when his determination to have everything transpire flawlessly stretched his son’s patience to the limits. Thanks to the Lord of East Lorien and the Maia, Legolas was not forced to commit patricide in full view of the wedding party.
In an effort to make the evening pass smoother, Gimli plied the prince with dwarf draught to ease Legolas’ annoyance at his father’s usurping of his authority in his own realm. Two mugs of mead had been consumed before Legolas started reciting poetry expressing his love for Melia. While the lady should have been impressed, the quality of the prose left a great deal to be desired since the poet was in an extreme state of inebriation and whose entire repertoire consisted of a number of bawdy limericks he had once heard in a Gondorian tavern. Throughout the recital, the wedding party attempted to restrain their snorts and giggles while Aragorn was attempting to silence Legolas since it was he who had taken the former Prince of Mirkwood to that tavern in the first place.
By the time the feasting was done, Legolas had recovered enough to stand but little else. Since Melia had no family to speak off, she asked Arwen to take the role in the ceremony that would normally be for her mother. It was up to the queen to present the bride to her new husband while Thranduil would do the honors for Legolas. Once Arwen and Thranduil had placed Legolas and Melia’s hand within each other’s, both king and queen blessed the couple with ancient forms that invoke the names of Varda, Manwe and Eru in the tribute. To seal the union and complete the ceremony, gold rings forged by Gimli as a gift for the couple, were exchanged and worn on the index of the right hand.
The rest of the night transpired smoothly with the feasting continuing straight after the ceremony’s conclusion. Pallando had entertained them with his fireworks since the entertainment prepared by Thranduil had to be abandoned due to a litany of injuries acquired by the troop of performers the night before during the unexpected ‘orc’ attack.
The next morning, Legolas awoke to find that the sun was much to bright in his eyes and his wife staring at him from her side of their bed with a rather bemused expression on her face.
“What happened?” he asked as he draped his hand over his eyes, trying to keep the daylight from boring holes in the back of his skull.
“You do not remember?” Melia asked sweetly.
“I remember we were married,” he said with a smile, hoping that would diffuse the obviously restrained annoyance he could see reflected in her eyes. “That it was wonderful,” he grinned at her.
“It was wonderful,” Melia remarked, brushing a strand of hair out of his face affectionately, “especially that lovely poem you recited to me.”
Legolas swallowed thickly because he had no memory of this.
“Poem?” he asked gingerly.
“Oh yes,” Melia nodded, perfectly aware that he would not remember it. If it were her, she would block out the memory too. “How did it go?” she said thoughtfully. “Oh yes, there was something about a lovely lass from Minas Tirith, who body was shaped like an hour glass and the only thing more exception than her bosoms were the wondrous globes of her as……”
“Do not tell me that is what I recited at the wedding?” Legolas groaned and rolled into the pillow in mortification.
“Fine. I will not tell you,” she said shortly, “but that does not change the fact that you still did recite it.”
Legolas closed his eyes and groaned, “I am so sorry. How will you ever forgive me?”
“I already have,” Melia said sweetly and kissed him on the lips, just to prove to him that all was forgiven, after a fashion, “I love you too much to be so petty.”
“Thank you.” Legolas sighed in relief and pulled her closer to him in an embrace. “I love you too.”
“There was one other little thing though,” she added with a smile.
“What is it?” he asked dreamily, breathing in the scent of her skin into his lungs.
“I told your father that when we have children, he can plan the christening.”
* * *
He could hear a bed creaking and knew immediately that it was not his.
Frodo sat up suddenly in the sheets, eyes wide as saucers as he identified the sound he knew could be only one thing coming from the next room. Muttering under his breath, he tried not to pay too much attention to the love making that was taking place next door and dove under the sheets, grasping for his pillow. Burying his head between his mattress and his pillow, Frodo tried desperately to ignore the sounds of soft whimpers and pleasured sighs of voices too familiar to him. Instead he focussed his mind on his book, attempting to recount details of the great events that he had been party to.
He was in the midst of recounting his first encounter with a ring wraith when suddenly, the imaginary Nazgul moaned so contently in his mind, Frodo knew that it was not his vivid imagination that had conjured up the sound. Realizing that there was nothing else for it, he sat up abruptly in his bed once more. The creaking had not ceased and appeared to be reaching climax in its rhythm. Frodo tried hard not to reason why this was and decided that his contingency plan would simply have to be put in effect. Grabbing his pillow, he climbed out of his bed and padded out of his room.
He was passing by the kitchen when he noted the remnants of the pie that Rosie had baked that day for dinner still sitting on the table. Like all hobbits, the mere sight of food had started his stomach rumbling and Frodo was suddenly visited with memories of how the pie had tasted. Surprisingly enough, it was more than capable of brushing aside his more recent recollections, which had largely to do with what was going on inside Sam and Rosie’s room at this instant. Setting down his pillow on one of the chairs at the table, he poured himself a glass of milk and attacked the remains of the pie with appropriate enthusiasm.
As he started to eat, Frodo took a deep breath, relishing the taste of pie in his mouth. He thanked his stars that Rosie was the cook she was and found his gaze resting on the curtains that had made him think today would be such a disaster. In the quiet of night, with his mind somewhat a peace despite his rude awakening, Frodo could see the attraction in the cheerfully printed fabric. Perhaps it was not to his taste but the truth was, his tastes were rather dark lately and probably in need of some infusion of color to remind him that his life was not irrevocably marred because he was once the Ringbearer.
For all the complaints he had made today about Rosie and the intrusions upon his life since her marriage to Sam, Frodo could not deny that she brought to Bag End both warmth and a much needed woman’s touch. Since he was unlikely to be married or be very popular among the ladies of Hobbiton following his encounter with Violet, Frodo decided that this was a good thing. Suddenly, suffering a lack of sleep was a sacrifice he could endure (after he made some alternate sleeping arrangements of course) if it meant that Rosie could continue to remain in Bag End. Besides, Frodo had never seen Sam happier and that pleased the Master of Bag End considerably.
Frodo looked up to see Sam entering the kitchen, clad in his nightshirt.
“Mister Frodo!” Sam exclaimed, halting in mid step at the doorway.
“What are you doing up, Sam?” Frodo asked and then mentally chided himself at the choice of words considering he knew perfectly well what Sam was ‘up’ to before emerging from his room.
“Oh,” Sam’s cheek took a deeper shade of red, Frodo was certain, probably because he too had the same thought, “I thought I might see if there was any pie left.”
“Enough for another slice,” Frodo remarked, gesturing to the dish in the middle of the table that still had one portion left.
Sam sat down after grabbing a plate and looked at Frodo. “What about you, Mister Frodo? What are you doing awake at this time of night.”
Frodo paused a moment before he spoke. While he had no wish to embarrass Sam, he had no desire to let his resentment seethe over his lack of sleep either. If they were all going to live together under the same roof, then they were going to have to learn to speak honestly with each other.
“Well, I think we have mice in the walls,” Frodo responded, meeting Sam’s gaze.
“Mice?” Sam brow’s rose in confusion.
“Yes,” Frodo nodded. “They seem to make the walls and the floorboards creak.”
It took but a brief second for Frodo’s veiled reply to register upon the hobbit but when it did, Frodo was treated to the spectacular sight of Sam’s face turning completely crimson within the blink of an eye.
“Oh, Mr. Frodo!” Sam exclaimed aghast. “I had no idea that the…” his words faltered and he struggled to compose himself before speaking again, “that the mice were so loud. I am terribly sorry if it has kept you awake. No wonder you are so disagreeable in the mornings.”
“It’s all right,” Frodo chuckled, “it’s just ‘mice’.”
“Trust me,” Sam assured him, “this will never happen again.”
“Never happen again?” Frodo stared at him. “I dare say Rosie won’t be happy.”
Sam gave Frodo a look and muttered, “You know what I mean.”
“I do,” Frodo replied, rebuking himself for finding too much amusement in Sam’s discomfiture. “I was thinking that perhaps you might want to clear out the room that used to be Bilbo’s study. I seldom use it since I prefer to do my reading in the parlor,” he suggested.
“Clear it out?” Sam stared suspiciously at Frodo.
“Yes,” Frodo nodded. “It’s a good deal bigger than the one you and Rosie have and it has a better view.”
Sam nodded in understanding. “It’s also on the other side of the house from your room.”
“Exactly,” Frodo stated with a smile. “It will certainly see to it that I am not bothered by ‘mice’.”
“Mice,” Sam said mutely.
“Sam,” Frodo spoke up, capturing his best friend’s attention. “This is just a little thing so do not think that I am upset in anyway, I am very glad you and Rosie are here “
“Thank you, Mr. Frodo,” Sam replied, knowing his friend well enough to know that the sentiment in his voice was genuine.
And they both sat there, sharing pie and talking about inconsequential things before Sam retired to his room and Frodo returned to his, assured that there would be no mice stirring for the rest of the night.
* * *
Gimli made his return to Minas Tirith astride his pony; rather surprised at how smoothly the journey had gone once he had accustomed himself to making the trip on horseback. The mare had given him little difficulty as he journeyed from to Minas Tirith to supervise the construction of the mithril gates Aragorn had commissioned him to build. Following the discovery that Eomer had acquired him a gentler animal in replacement of the gelding that had almost killed him, Gimli discovered the business of riding was not as difficult or as painful as initially perceived. The disposition of the mare suited him and though he dared not voice it, reminded him a little of Lorin in that the beast seemed to be infinitely patient and willing to endure the full extent of his temperamental disposition.
All the way to Gondor, Gimli had accustomed himself to the animal’s habits. He soon discovered that other than allowing the mare to know which direction he wished to go, there was very little need to exert himself upon the beast. Most of the time, the pony would continue at a comfortable pace, requiring only a slight tug on the reins to discern which way her master desired to travel. Eomer had been very closed mouth about the gelding he had originally be given and Gimli’s inquiries only resulted in the king muttering angrily without revealing anything about the pony’s whereabouts.
Gimli did not ponder too much the question for Mirkwood Prince the Second, had performed superbly and was allowing him to ride her without any difficulty. He could not deny that he felt very dignified astride the beast and wished Lorin could have seen him riding the pony before he had set out for Minas Tirith. Unfortunately, his business in the White City could not be delayed and so Gimli had set out, hoping to see Legolas who was still aiding Aragorn with the remnants of Sauron’s army.
A smile of devious pleasure crossed the dwarf’s lips when he thought of the mining tools that were secreted in his saddlebag. If he had learnt to ride a horse, then Legolas was certainly going to suffer as he had by learning a skill that was so beyond the natural capabilities of Eldar that Gimli could imagine the shudder on the prince’s face when he presented it to Legolas.
Gimli was going to enjoy that expression a great deal.
“I cannot believe it!” the Prince exclaimed when he and Aragorn greeted Gimli upon the dwarf’s arrival at the palace. “You are actually riding it!”
Gimli climbed out of the saddle unto the courtyard, patting the pony gently on the flank as one of the stable hands led the beast towards the royal stable. He was rather pleased by the reaction of his friends who appeared mildly astonished by the sight of him riding the animal, a thing that was so foreign to dwarfs that it was likely to be a sight that none of them would ever witness again.
“Well, I did not have a choice,” Gimli said, giving Legolas a look. “After all a gift is a gift.”
“That is true,” Legolas nodded, “but I honestly thought you would be too stubborn to learn to use it.”
“It appears that Gimli is a good deal more resourceful then you give him credit, Legolas,” Aragorn remarked, very impressed by the dwarf’s accomplishment because Aule’s children were very averse to riding animals of any kind. “Well done Master Dwarf,” Aragorn complimented.
“Thank you,” Gimli said, sincerely appreciating the gesture. “However, now that I have learnt to ride a pony, you must accept my gift.”
Legolas’ eyes narrowed in suspicion, his elven senses detecting some form of danger though in what manner he was uncertain. “Gift?”
“Yes,” Gimli smiled. “I have for you the finest mining tools that my smiths at Aglarond was able to forge. I look forward to you visiting the Glittering Caves to put them to use.”
Aragorn snorted loudly, restraining the guffaw that wanted badly to escape the hand that quickly shot to his mouth.
“Mining? An elf?” he managed to say; though barely able to keep himself from sniggering.
“Mining?” Legolas brows shot up. “Elves do not mine,” he quickly pointed.
“And dwarves do not ride but since I have learnt, thanks to your gift, I do not see any reason why you could not do the same,” Gimli returned smugly.
“He does have a point,” Aragorn smirked.
“But…but…but…,” Legolas started to stammer.
“Do not worry, Prince,” Gimli grinned, enjoying the elf’s discomfiture a great deal as he patted Legolas on the back or as much of it he could reach, “I am sure that you will enjoy it as much as I did when I was forced to use your ‘gift.'”
“Gimli, perhaps we should talk about this,” Legolas suggested nervously as the thought of burrowing under the earth, with mining tools no less, began to impress itself upon his brain with a vengeance.
“Of course we will,” Gimli said with a voice so evil, Sauron might have delivered himself it himself. “As soon as I retrieve your tools from my pony. By the way, did I tell you its name?”
* * *
“YOU CALLED IT WHAT?”
The stable hand paused in mid step as he heard the outraged exclamation from across the courtyard followed by the sounds of sidesplitting laughter. For a moment, the young lad was ready to swear that the voices belonged to the elven Prince of Mirkwood and the King of Gondor. However, he shook his head of the possibility.
Royalty had too much dignity for that.
* * *
The day had ended and it was not as terrible as Faramir had envisioned it to be.
Although certain facts remained unchanged, they were realities he was capable of accepting. His brother was dead and he was all that was left of Denethor’s heirs. It hurt to know that his father as well as his brother was dead and buried. Despite their differences, he had loved Denethor and was certain than in his own way, the Steward had loved his second son as well. So much history had died with Denethor, so much tradition had come to a startling end even though Faramir was still the last heir to the legacy of the Ruling Stewards. Aragorn’s establishment as king had changed the world for the better but it had meant the end of that grand past. Faramir had come to accept its demise long ago because in the face of his loss, he had acquired something almost as great.
And she was lying next to him in their bed, drifting gently to sleep.
His heart swelled as he stared at his wife and knew that she was right, he had never lost Boromir, not even in death and he had much to be grateful for. In the face of his overwhelming loss, she had entered his life like a beacon of light that illuminated the darkness of his grief, giving hope by her presence alone. As he watched her sleep, appearing as a Maia spirit with her hair of spun gold and the luster of moonlight across her lashes, he could not help but feel tremendously fortunate that she had entered his life when he thought he was utterly alone.
Although he never told her, she reminded him a great deal of his brother because she had Boromir’s fire and his warrior spirit. She would let no one fight her battles and she would protect those she loved to the death. How could he not love her or think for a moment that he lost his brother when his wife embodied so much of Boromir. Perhaps that is why he felt in love with her from the very first because she was this force of nature that was unique unto herself but also very reminiscent of the brother he would miss until the day he died.
Faramir brushed her hair gently with his fingers, relishing the feel of the soft strands under his palm. Her eyes opened and pools of blue sky stared back at him, her lips curling a little smile at his touch.
“You do not sleep,” she said softly.
“When I watch you, there is no need for sleep,” he smiled affectionately at her.
“You are such a flatterer,” she replied, holding his hand against her cheek as she stared into his face. “Are you alright? I know this day has been hard on you.”
“It has.” He did not bother to deny it but it was nowhere as bad as it could have been. “However, you being at my side has helped me to endure it and I love you for that.”
“It was my pleasure,” she answered warmly and paused a moment as she considered her next words. A few seconds passed before she finally spoke.
“I have been thinking and I hope you do not think it presumptuous of me but I would really like this to come to pass when the occasionally arises,” Eowyn declared somewhat cautiously, uncertain how he would take her suggestion.
Faramir stared at her, intrigued. “What occasion?”
“When the time comes for us to have children, if we have a son, I think we should call him Boromir.”
Faramir felt his breath catch and the emotions he felt coursing through him were so thick, he could not speak for a short time. Eowyn’s expression revealed her anxiety as she feared for an instant that she had offended him with the idea. She was almost ready to recant when he spoke up, allaying her fears with his answer.
“I think it is a wonderful idea,” Faramir replied, staring at her with eyes full of love before he covered her body with his, showing her unmistakably the full measure of his affection. The idea of naming their son Boromir seemed so right that wherever his brother was in the universe, Faramir was sure Boromir would approve.
* * *
In the year 1432 as measured by the Shire calendar, Pippin became Thain Peregrin Took the First.
He and his wife, Diamond of Long Cleeves whom he had married a year after their meeting at the library, moved into the Took ancestral home of Great Smials. In the years preceding this, he and Merry had kept in close contact with Gondor and the rest of Middle earth, resulting in the gathering of an impressive collection of books which dealt with the histories of the world beyond the Shire. Diamond with her skills had aided greatly in the creation of this library and though it was of little interest to the folk of the Shire, in later years there would be no greater source of information regarding Númenor and the Exiles following its downfall anywhere in Middle-earth. Thanks to the library at Great Smials, the writing of other great texts such as the Tale of Years was made possible while a copy of the Red Book of Westmarch was always kept within its shelves in a place of honor.
Merry after much embarrassment and determination, won the heart of Estella Bolger who refused to see him for a month following their ‘display’ in the library. After enduring the disapproval of the Shire, the outrage of the entire Bolger clan and a near challenge to a duel by rocks with Fatty, Merry managed to convince Estella that he felt more than just carnal desire for her. They were married not long after Pippin and Diamond and shared a passionate and fiery relationship until the end of their days.
* * *
And while the normal life the Fellowship had craved unfolded in a manner that none of them expected, at least they could say it was never dull or ordinary.
Just rather complicated.