“Ah! Food has arrived!” Kellian leapt to his feet and nearly knocked Lindar over as he whisked the food out of his arms. The Exile stood empty-handed in the entrance to the room for a moment, then rolled his eyes and made his way to the fire. As he walked past, Teleri caught hold of his hand and pulled him down next to her. She leaned up against him, then gave him a mock scowl.
“How come you get to be dry?” she muttered, playing with his hair.
Lindar forced himself to laugh and pasted a smile across his face.
His lack of enthusiasm was not lost on Teleri. “Lindar?” she asked, concern mirrored in her voice. “Are you alright?”
Lindar sighed in defeat. No point in trying to deceive Teleri. “I’m just… just missing you already,” he mumbled.
“Missing me?” she asked in surprise. “Lindar, what are you talking about?”
He sighed and stared into the fire, seeing, but not really comprehending Kellian as he cooked food for the group. “Well, I’m not really welcome in Minas Tirith, am I?”
“Lindar!” Teleri scolded. “If this is about Janst-“
“No, I don’t think that is it,” Aramir’s surprisingly soft voice said from behind the two. Lindar and Teleri both jumped slightly. The king gave Lindar a sad smile. “You don’t think you are welcome because you are in exile, is that right?” Surprised, Lindar nodded. “And because you broke that exile, you are certainly not going to risk going back, despite your affiliations with me.” Lindar nodded again. To his surprise, Aramir smiled. “Lindar,” the king began, “do you remember the day you came to Minas Tirith? The day I found you in the tree?”
Lindar buried his face in his hands as everyone laughed. “I wish I didn’t,” he muttered, giving Aramir a half-smile.
The king grinned back at him, then his face became solemn again. “I had a council with Sinnadar that day, just before I discovered you.”
Lindar nodded. “I remember. You were banging your head against the wall.”
This time it was Aramir’s turn to look sheepish. “We never did fix that wall,” Isilmë muttered.
“Yes, Anyway!” Aramir exclaimed, trying unsuccessfully to stop the laughter that erupted at Isilmë’s comment. “Sinnadar and I were discussing a certainly family that had been exiled some years ago. It was known to us that the man that was exiled had a son, and it was my thought that perhaps this son should not be punished for his father’s crimes.” Lindar stared at Aramir as he began to comprehend what the king was saying. Aramir, seemingly oblivious to the young Exile’s stares, pulled out a leather tube from somewhere inside of his tunic. About the length of his lower arm, it was capped on one end, and Aramir pulled the cap off. Carefully he drew out a piece of parchment and handed it to Lindar. “I was quite surprised when Sinnadar agreed with me- that never happens. You can read it if you want, but it is rather long and complicated. In short, it says that-” and here, Aramir’s voice took on an air of authority, and he truly sounded like the king he was, though perhaps he was only mocking, “-descendants of exiles are not to be punished for crimes of their ancestors, and the sentence of exile shall not be held against them unless by crimes of their own doing.”
Lindar heard what Aramir said, but his voice seemed soft and far away. All the young man could concentrate on was the parchment before him. Soft, fancy script flowed across the page in words that seemed to have been written to Lindar himself. But it was not the words as much as what was on the bottom of the paper. There, Lindar saw three things. Two were signatures, one that read ‘Sinnadar, High Steward of Gondor’, and one that read ‘Aramir, High King of Gondor.’ The third was a mark of black wax, into which had been stamped the sign of a tree surrounded by seven stars-the seal of the King of Gondor, the seal that made this document official.
Tears filled Lindar’s eyes. “You mean…” he whispered, barely able to breathe.
“It means that you are no longer in exile, Lindar,” Aramir explained with a kind smile.
Lindar stared into his face. In Aramir’s eyes, in his smile, Lindar saw that he understood. He knew what Lindar felt like no other there could. They could share his joy, his shock, his amazement, but only Aramir knew, for he had been there once as well.
Teleri pulled the parchment from his hands, handed it to her father, then leapt on Lindar with a cry of joy. “Lindar!!” she exclaimed. “Did you hear?” She threw her slender arms around his neck and hugged him tightly.
Lindar finally recovered from his momentary shock. A huge smile erupted on his tear-streaked face as he hugged Teleri back joyfully. “Teleri!” he murmured into her shoulder. They held each other for what seemed like forever, and then Lindar looked up at Aramir.
“Aramir,” he began, wiping his eyes. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Don’t say anything yet,” Aramir said, and Lindar froze. “You see, technically, you still broke your exile. You were an Exile in Gondor before we sealed this. Now, I’m sure you know the punishment for breaking exile, and I’m very sorry, but…” he trailed off, then burst into hysterical laughter upon seeing the horrified look upon Lindar’s face. “I’m… only… teasing,” he assured him amidst his laughter. “Oh, you should have seen your face!!”
“Father!” Teleri cried. “That was mean!”
Lindar, however, was shaking in silent laughter. Giving up, he burst into laughter with Aramir. “You scared me to death!” he exclaimed. “I really thought you were serious.”
“Ar, serious? That’ll be the day,” Kellian declared with a grin, joining in.
The cave echoed with the group’s laughter for nearly five minutes before they calmed down enough to speak and eat. Even then, they had to stop every time one of them broke down again. Usually it was Aramir, recalling the look of horror that he had seen on Lindar’s face.
They sat by the fire, munching contentedly on the food Kellian had cooked for a long time, not caring whether or not the rain outside had let up or not. Lindar thanked Aramir over and over, until the king told him that if he thanked him one more time, he would be sent back into exile. Lindar ignored the threat and continued to thank him. Teleri leaned up against Lindar, her arms around him, head rested on his chest. Every so often she would sigh contentedly as he stroked her hair. They talked and joked with Isilmë, Aramir, and Kellian, who seemed to be trying to get over his fear of the caves by walking around the huge room, studying everything.
Finally Kellian suggested that they head back to Gondor. “The entire royal family is missing; the Itir are probably in an uproar.” He chuckled.
“That is an understatement,” Aramir declared with a laugh. “Boy am I going to get it when I get back.”
“At least I’m here to protect you,” Kellian said sarcastically.
“You are, though,” Aramir told him with a best-friend smile. “Which means, of course, that you are going to get it worse than me.”
The Elf shrugged. “Yeah, probably.” He grinned.
Lindar rolled his eyes at the two friends. He rose slowly, pulling Teleri up with him. Aramir and Isilmë stood up as well. The king smiled at Lindar. “Ready to go home, Lindar?” he asked.
The young man looked around the cave at his friends. Teleri smiled softly at him, her arms still around him. Isilmë also smiled at him, a kind, caring smile that reminded Lindar of his mother. Aramir and Kellian grinned at each other, then at him. He smiled back.
“Go home?” he asked, leaning on Teleri and smiling brightly. “I already am home.”
Chapter 1: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9681.html
Chapter 2: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9811.html
Chapter 3: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9866.html
Chapter 4: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9913.html
Chapter 5: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9975.html
Chapter 6: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10024.html
Chapter 7: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10111.html
Chapter 8: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10168.html
Chapter 9: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10222.html
Chapter 10: https://www.theonering.com/docs/10289.html