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Heir of Ithilien - by Lóressar Erchamion

Read Part Two | Read Part Three

© 2002, A.M. Celaya. All locations and characters except title character taken from
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien.

At the gate of the Steward’s Palace in Ithilien, a young guard was standing at his post watching the horizon. He had been made a guard under Steward Faramir only a few weeks ago, and took his job very seriously. The Steward had been receiving many guests in the past few days, and more were surely on the way. Some were from Minas Tirith, the city that had been the young guard’s home for the first ten years of his life. Some were from Rohan, where the Lady Éowyn’s brother had been king for the past eight years. Even King Elessar and his beautiful half-elven queen, Arwen Evenstar, were expected to visit soon. But it was for two more visitors that young Bergil son of Beregond now watched. One, a knight of Gondor, had saved Faramir’s life shortly before Faramir became Steward of Gondor and Prince of Ithilien. The other, a rider of Rohan, had fought alongside Lady Éowyn in the War of the Ring. Both were coming to Ithilien to see the people who owed them their lives bring their first child into the world.

Bergil saw two riders approaching. As they drew closer, he noted the small size of the steeds as well as the riders. He could see dark, curly hair peeking out from beneath the riders’ helms. Equally dark was the hair that covered the small riders’ bare feet. Bergil smiled. At last they had come. Even though he knew the answer perfectly well by the time they reached him, he put forth his spear and asked, "Who goes there?"

"Peregrin son of Paladin, Knight of Gondor," answered one rider in a tone that indicated his shock that anyone would need ask his name.

"Meriadoc son of Saradoc, Rider of the Mark, friend of the Lady Éowyn," answered the other, casting a triumphant glance at his companion.

"I would think a Prince’s Guard would have the wit to know us on sight," said Peregrin with typical hobbit pertness.

"I would think a Knight of Gondor would have the wit not to speak so to a Prince’s Guard," laughed Bergil, "for still I wager I can stand you on your head or lay you on your back."

The Halfling knight quickly laid his hand on his sword’s hilt, but just before he drew it, a look of pleasantly surprised recognition came upon his face. "Bergil!" he cried happily. "What do you know, Merry!" he said to his companion. "This is that little chap who was running errands for the healers when you and the Steward and the Lady were laid up during the last battle. They’ve gone and made him a guard!"

"Hello there, Bergil," the Halfling Rohir said charmingly. "You’ve grown a bit taller since last we met; but then, so have Pippin and I."

"I see," Bergil teased. "I imagine your feet almost touch the ground now when you stand."

"I’ll have you know, we are now the tallest hobbits in the history of the Shire, taller even than Bullroarer Took!" said Pippin indignantly. "Enough of your sauce. Tell us, are we in time?"

"Yes, barely," said Bergil. "The Lady Éowyn is expected to give birth any day."

"Perfect," Merry nodded. "Éowyn is likely to name her son after me, you know."

"I don’t see how that’s possible, my dear Merry," said Pippin, "since Faramir is likely to name his son after me."

"You can continue your argument later," Bergil laughed. "Enter. You are expected."

"The child will be named Peregrin," said Pippin as soon as he and Merry were out of Bergil’s hearing. "It’s only fair. After all, Sam and Rosie just named their new baby after you, and I haven’t a namesake in all Middle Earth."

"You could always get married and have your own namesakes, you know," Merry rolled his eyes. Over the past year, Pippin had been associating with the charming Diamond of Long Cleeve. It was common knowledge that Pippin was completely in love with her — to everyone but Pippin himself.

"You’re just trying to get rid of me so you won’t feel badly about leaving Crickhollow and marrying Estella, which I know you plan to do," Pippin said dismissively.

"Of course it’s what I plan to do," said Merry. "Unlike some hobbits I know, I see no point in keeping my relationships a secret."

"Oh, no," said Pippin. "You simply pretended to be paying frequent visits to your old friend Fatty Bolger and left me to figure out what I should have known all along, that you were really visiting his sister."

"And recently you’ve been only too glad to stay home from those visits and write poetry about jewels, usually diamonds," laughed Merry.

"What has any of this to do with the fact that Faramir is going to name his son after me?" asked Pippin.

"Nothing, since Éowyn is going to name her son after me," Merry replied.

When Merry and Pippin reached the palace, they were presented to Prince Faramir. After the manner of their folk, they immediately sat down and began chatting with him as though he were a neighbor whom they had seen only the day before. Knowing the hobbits as he did, Faramir immediately ordered a meal be brought before them.

"Just the thing," Pippin said as he began eating his fill. "It’s high noon, and we’ve had but three meals today. Tell me, Faramir, how are Strider and Arwen these days?"

"They are well," said Faramir. "They should be visiting soon, especially now that you two are here. Queen Arwen has adapted well to life in Minas Tirith. It was quite a change from Rivendell, but her brothers and grandfather come visit her every now and then. They always seem to know when she grows lonely for the sight of elven faces."

"Is Éowyn well?" asked Merry. "I had hoped to see her."

"And see her you shall," said Faramir. "She is as well as any woman who is due to give birth any day. She hates staying off her feet, but she wants to do what is best for our child."

"Isn’t she a healer now?" Merry asked.

"Yes," Faramir smiled. "She is known as one of the best healers in Gondor, second only to the King. Her valor serves her as well in the House of Healing as on the battlefield. Things have certainly become more efficient there since she became a healer," he laughed.

"If by that you mean less talk and more work, good for her," Pippin said in his manner that was meant to be authoritative but often perceived as comical. "In the days before the King, you might as well have healed yourself in the time it took those healers to explain the cures, let alone administer them."

Faramir smiled to himself as he thought of Éowyn’s early days in the House of Healing when she had been not a healer, but a patient. When he asked her to marry him, she had worried that the people of Gondor would look down on her since she was of the Rohirrim. And would you have your proud folk say of you: ‘There goes a lord who tamed a wild shieldmaiden of the North! Was there no woman of the race of Númenor to choose?’ she had asked. And, yes, a few people had said such things in the time he and Éowyn had been married; but his answer was still the same as that day in the Healers’ garden. I would.

"Whenever you two finish your second luncheon, or whatever you call this meal," Faramir said to the hobbits, "I am sure Lady Éowyn would love to see you. She hates idleness and bed rest as much as she ever did, and a visit from you will surely raise her spirits."

"Happy to be of service," Merry bowed his head. "But I don’t think I’d call this any kind of a luncheon. What would you say it is, Pip?"

"A light snack, definitely. When is dinner?"

True to Faramir’s words, Éowyn was delighted at the sight of her hobbit guests. "At last we meet again, Master Holbytlan," she smiled as Merry kissed her white hand.

"Long have I waited for this day, fair Lady of Rohan and Ithilien," Merry said with utmost sincerity as he stroked Éowyn’s hand.

"And still I wait for the day when you can greet Men and Elves without all this hand-kissing nonsense," Pippin rolled his eyes.

"Honestly, Pip, you’re starting to sound just like old Bilbo," Merry said.

"I have heard tales of your land," said Éowyn. "It sounds as though you have made use of the horn I gave you at our last parting."

"Ah, yes, the Scouring of the Shire," Merry nodded.

"A regular battle that was," said Pippin. "And, remember, the Tooks started the fighting. We Tooks have always had something about us."

"Well do I know," said Éowyn. "Were it not for that ‘something,’ I would have neither husband nor child."

"Which is why this child deserves a fine Tookish name, don’t you think?" Pippin continued.

"I know where you would lead me," Éowyn laughed. "There are so many fine people for whom I could name my child that I can promise this honor to none. Though, believe me, many have asked for it," she said. "The name Éomer has been suggested frequently, as have Lothíriel, Beregond, Bergil, and Ioreth."

"Who is Lothíriel?" asked Pippin.

"Prince Imrahil’s daughter, the one that married Éomer," Merry reminded him. "I heard about it and wished I could have been at the wedding of the King of Rohan, but I was busy with affairs in my own land," he sighed. "And so Queen Lothíriel wants the child named after her as well, does she? It must be a sore trial to have all these people telling you what to name your own child," Merry said sympathetically. "And if you choose any name in the Elven or Rohirric tongue, someone will say you named the child after someone else. There is only one solution, Lady Éowyn. Give your child a proper Hobbit name. A name-"

"Such as Meriadoc?" Éowyn finished for him. "I am sorry, but I cannot promise any living person — not saving hobbits — that I will name my child after him. But tell me, how are things in your country?"

"Oh, fine," said Merry. "Samwise was just elected Mayor of Hobbiton. It’s a good thing, too. His family keeps growing all the time, and his inheritance can’t support them forever. Frodo made Sam his heir when he went to the Grey Havens, you know."

Faramir and Éowyn laughed inwardly as they listened to Merry’s chatter. Only a hobbit would speak of a friend going to the Havens the same way he would speak of someone going to the next town. But looking into Pippin’s eyes, Faramir said, "And what has our king’s man to say of affairs in the land of the Halflings?"

"As Merry said, things have been getting along well enough," Pippin said. "There are a lot of young families since the wedding rush of 1420. The Shire is more beautiful and fruitful than it ever was, thanks to the gift Lady Galadriel gave Sam. But that’s our problem. Some of the Big People in the North are discovering what a good bit of land we hobbits have got, and it seems like before long, they’ll be settling our land and crowding out the hobbits. My father is at a loss at what to do about them. It was one thing fighting and driving out those half-orc ruffians, but these men are decent folk, subjects of the King who have been our neighbors ever since our folk first crossed the Brandywine. We couldn’t have the King’s own subjects fighting each other, now, could we?"

"No, we could not," Faramir agreed. "While you are in Gondor, you should speak with King Elessar about this matter."

"I wonder if the Shire could be granted to the Hobbits as a free land as the Gap of Rohan was to the Eorlingas," Éowyn mused.

"Then you really would be Ernil i Pheriannath if you become Thain after your father, Pippin," Merry said.

"The rumor about the Riders of Rohan (well, at least one Rider) being accompanied by a small but doughty halfling warrior ended up being true, so why shouldn’t the bit about me being a Prince of the Halflings be true as well?" Pippin cheerfully replied, winking at Éowyn.

"Would that make Diamond the Princess of the Ha-" Merry began.

"No," Pippin interrupted, "because I would have to marry her for that to happen, and I am not marrying her."

"I see," Éowyn smiled archly. "Who is Diamond?"

"A North-Took from Long Cleeve," Pippin explained. "I met her last year when she was visiting a cousin in Buckland. Her cousins came to one of our parties and brought her with them. She knew who we were, of course. Everyone in the Shire does. She’s a nice girl and we got on well, so we’ve been seeing a bit of each other since then."

"A bit!" Merry scoffed. "If he’s not visiting Long Cleeve, she’s visiting Buckland."

"Sometimes I have to go to Long Cleeve on errantry, you know," Pippin defended.

"Whatever reason serves you, by all means, use it," Faramir replied, giving a teasing smile to his wife. "Ask Éowyn."

"I had a plain reason for staying in Minas Tirith," Éowyn insisted.

"I know. I was there, and you did not wish to leave me."

"The healers would not let me leave," Éowyn reminded him.

Faramir put his arms around Éowyn and kissed her. "That time, you did not argue."

Read Part Two | Read Part Three

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