“Keep your eyes closed Daddy.” I heard Elena whisper. I could hear scuffles and sounds elsewhere in the room and I grinned but did as my daughter asked.
“Are his eyes closed?” Irianne asked. My second oldest and always the inquisitive one.
“Daddy’s being good.” Allysan, the youngest reassured. She was always the one who defended me!
I heard a few more scuffles and shuffles and then all was silent. “Ok Daddy.” Elena declared. “You can open your eyes now.”
I did slowly, and met 4 pairs of eyes smiling at me. A quick glance and I returned the smile. The girls had apparently made me breakfast!
“How wonderful this looks!” I remarked heartily and sat up in the bed, brushing a wisp of hair out of my eyes. “What precious children I have.” They all beamed. As did their mother who looked just as amazingly lovely as her children.
“Happy Birthday my King.” She said as she took my hand and kissed it.
I smiled and cradled her cheek in my palm. “And it is. For what man could be more blessed than I? I have the love of wife and children, the respect of my people, and this delicious looking meal in front of me!”
“It’s going to get cold if you don’t eat it soon Daddy.” Irianne remarked.
I laughed unable to refute the truth of the statement. Offering my hand to Arwen, we started a chain, each of us saying a prayer to Illuvartar for all the blessings that we had. I said some silent blessings as well. For my friends both near and far. The hobbits, whom I missed. Faramir and Imrahil. My kinsmen. For all those who were and now had gone over to the Havens. Frodo. Gandalf. Elrond. Galadriel. Once this was done, my daughters gathered around me like little hens making sure that I’d eat proper and all right. Arwen grinned and sat at the end of the bed content to let the girls take charge.
I was deep into a large glass of juice when Allysan asked if I’d like to open my presents.
“I have presents?” I asked, half teasing.
“Daddy!” The three squealed all at once and I was forced to laugh. I consented, and Elena immediately took charge in the distribution. “Irianne, you write down who sent what so the thank you’s can be returned.” She ordered. “Allysan, you can gather up any bags or paper and make sure they’re disposed of properly.”
I threw a bemused glance at my wife who returned it. I saw a potential matriarch (or at the very least, a Counsel member) on our hands!
Elena brought the first gift over. It was small, and wrapped in an ornate gold paper. She took a look at the accompanying card. “This is from Legolas.” She looked at me with a questioning glance.
“Legolas Greenleaf.” I replied. “A brave Elf, and one of the Nine Companions.”
“OH!” My oldest nearly shouted. “He’s the one who’s friends with the Dwarf!” She handed the package to me.
I took it and slowly removed the paper. It was so beautiful I didn’t want to ruin it. Inside was a small box, which I opened. My breath caught in my throat. It was a necklace. Fashioned out of the most beautiful green gem I’d ever seen. I didn’t even know what kind it was! I lifted it out for the girls to see. They all gasped.
“It’s beautiful.” Arwen breathed as the gems caught the sunlight.
“Master Legolas is very talented.”
“Open another one Daddy!” Irianne said.
I looked at my oldest who picked another gift off the floor (where I now realized several gifts were all sitting together. Far too many from what I could see!) and brought it over.
“This is from Per… Pere…” She furled her brow. “Something Took.”
“Peregrin. Or Pippin. A dear and brave Hobbit, and another of the Nine.”
Elena nodded. “Make sure to mark that down sissy.” She said to Irianne who duly noted this. I grinned and took the gift from my daughter’s hands. It wasn’t very large, but it was heavy. Wrapped in simple brown, with an ornate bow (likely the design of his talented wife!). I tore the paper off and found I was looking at a bound book of sorts. Handing the paper to Allysan (who was sure to dispose of it properly as her sister had instructed), I flipped open the book. Then I smiled. It was a diary. Or more like memoirs. Thoughts written down by Peregrin, shared to him by Merry, Sam, and others. Just the few words I read brought several memories flooding back to my mind. I swallowed hard and looked up at my girls.
“It’s a book of memories.” I remarked with a catch in my throat. “One that shall take me a long time to read, but I believe I shall cherish every word.”
As I flipped through it glancing at excerpts, Elena apparently went for another gift. “Daddy?” She called to me and I looked up at her. She and Arwen were standing by something draped under a large white cloth. “This is too big for me to carry over to you.” My oldest said with a tinge of apology. “Do you want to wait, or would you like to get up and come see it?”
Irianne and Allysan helped remove the dishes and such from my lap so I could get out of bed. Then they yanked the covers back. My wife giggled (and I smiled) as I realized with relief that in a rare bit I’d actually gone to sleep CLOTHED the night before. This saved for any embarrassment at this moment! Both girls made way while I walked over to the object between Arwen and Elena.
“What do you suppose it is?” Irianne asked.
“Daddy will open it and then we’ll find out!” Elena declared matter-of-factly. Arwen and I laughed. The girls were sometimes so predictable in who would say what to whom! Elena then picked up the card. “It’s from Legolas’ friend the Dwarf!” She shrieked. “His name is Gimli is it not?”
I nodded. “And a good Dwarf he is.” I returned. “I was often comforted by his strength. Not only physical by his character as well.” Reaching out I grabbed hold of the fabric and pulled it to me. When it had all fallen to the floor I nearly joined it! In front of me stood the most amazingly ornate wooden chest. Runes had been carved into its doors, along with pictures and the most meticulous scrolling design. “It is….” My voice drifted off. I simply did not have words to express my feelings. It was incredible! “I shall have to personally thank Master Dwarf when next I see him.” I finally managed to say. “Dwarves are known for skill with hands, but this surpasses anything I could imagine!”
“There’s still MORE presents Father.” Allysan noted pointing to the pile on the floor. I sighed and shook my head. I’d already received more than enough!
“You have ours yet to open!” Irianne and Elena both cried out.
“There’s no need to rush.” Arwen’s melodious voice replied. “It’s your father’s special day. Today he gets to do whatever he wants. Whenever he wants.”
Three young pairs of eyes looked hopeful up at me. I smiled down at them. “I can’t imagine any more joy than being right here with the four of you.” I said stealing a glance at my Undomiel. “And since the girls have gone to such lengths to organize the gifts and all…”
Three youthful cheers greeted my words. I laughed and allowed myself to be escorted back to the bed. Once they’d covered me up and set the plates back on my lap (“You really haven’t eaten yet.” Allysan reminded me.) Elena resumed her position and motioned for the other two to do the same. Arwen took up her post at the foot of the bed.
“This one is from Irianne.” Elena said with pride. “I know, because I helped her wrap it!” Both girls looked at me with hope in their eyes. It made my heart soar! “And I’m certain it’s magnificent.” I said with equal pride. Their smiles lit the room.
Taking as much gentle care with the wrapping as the other packages (although it was only a simple brown wrap, it was equally precious to me!) I opened it. For a moment I didn’t know what I was looking at, then I realized it was a tunic! I picked it up, opened it, and held it up. Made of a hearty fabric it was a dark blue in color. There was no ornate stitching on it, but it was sturdily made nonetheless. I looked at my second with wonder in my eyes. “You made this?”
She only nodded. “It took me lots of time. Mommy helped me to make sure it would fit you.” She blinked. “Did I do good Daddy?”
I had to fight the tears that sprang into my eyes, and I managed to nod. “You did wonderfully. It’s beautiful. And I’ll enjoy wearing it when the colder weather comes in the winter!”
Irianne beamed. “He likes it Mommy!”
Arwen smiled at me and then our child. “Of course he does. And you should be proud. You did a very good job.”
“Can Daddy open mine next?” Allysan asked her oldest sister. Elena grinned and grabbed the appropriate gift from the pile. It was wrapped in simple purple paper and the moment I put my hands on it, I could tell it was a picture. With the same care I opened it and had to blink in surprise yet again. The drawing was of Faramir (Allysan’s personal favorite and by all accounts (as far as she was concerned) her Uncle), and it was remarkable! He was dressed in his rusty brown and green almost as a Ranger. With a short hunting knife in his hand, and a bow slung over his shoulder. His expression was neither sad nor glad, but nor was it unpleasant.
“It’s Uncle Faramir.” Allysan stated with care, as if she wasn’t sure I’d know who it was.
“I can tell!” I remarked looking at her in wonder in turn. “And an amazing likeness of him it is!” I looked up to my wife. “How I find out these incredible things about my children every day!” I ran a finger over the portrait. “This is truly wonderful. If your Uncle hasn’t seen this, I will happily show it to him!”
Now Elena stood next to me with a simple gray wrapped package in her hands.
“And this one’s from you?” I asked smiling.
She nodded and handed it to me almost shyly. “I hope you like it.” She said. I assured her I would.
Upon unwrapping it, I found myself looking at a loaf of something. “It’s called fruit-bread.” Elena stated. “And I made it myself. Aunt Eowyn helped me.”
I took a knife and cut a piece of it. The outside was of a dark color, and crust in texture. The inside, however, was totally different. Light, while and fluffy, with pieces of different fruit throughout. I popped the piece I’d cut off into my mouth and blinked at the sensation of flavors that assaulted me. “All three of my daughters have completely surprised me!” I cried out delighted with the flavor. “This is delicious!”
All of the girls beamed again, as did their mother. “Mommy? What about your gift for Daddy?” Irianne asked.
My gaze locked with Arwen’s and the expression in hers caused my heart to jump. “I have a special present for Daddy.” My wife said with a sultry whisper only I would be able to read. My eyes flashed at her and for a brief moment I let my grin turn as wicked as my thoughts.
I motioned then for the three girls and my wife to all come into my arms. Somehow, they all managed this! I held them tightly, kissing each of them in turn. “Thank you all for a wonderful day.” I said softly looking at each of them. “Of all the gifts I have received, none is more precious to me than you.”