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Heir of Ithilien, Part Two - by Loressar Erchamion

Read Part One | 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.

The next day, the palace of Ithilien was visited by King Elessar and Queen Arwen. They arrived just as dinner was about to be served, which, in the eyes of the hobbits, was perfect timing. After exchanging pleasantries, Pippin immediately took the opportunity to tell Aragorn about the trouble the hobbits had been having with the Big People. "You really ought to do something about it," said Pippin. "Perhaps you could make the Shire a free country of its own. I am a Knight of Gondor and loyal to you and the Reunited Kingdom, but none of us hobbits want to see our land overrun again."

"I could make the Shire a free land and pass a law that allows none but Hobbits within its borders, yet let it remain under the protection of the King," Aragorn suggested.

"Now there’s an idea!" Pippin exclaimed. "Write it up when you get back to Minas Tirith, will you, Strider?"

"I will," Aragorn laughed, thinking how refreshing it was to be around hobbits again. Although he had enjoyed being respected as King for the past eight years, every so often he missed just being Strider. "Now let us speak of more pleasant things. How are things with you two and with Sam?" he asked.

"Things are well with Sam," said Merry. "Rosie — Sam married Rosie Cotton a year before Frodo went to the Havens, you know — just had her fourth child. This one’s a boy, like the second. A fine name they gave him, too. Merry."

"Pippin would have done just as well," Pippin insisted.

"He’s going in order of age," Merry explained. "The first boy was Frodo, the second is Merry, and I’m sure he’ll call the next one Pippin."

"How do I know there will be a next one? And what if the rest of the Gamgees are all girls?" Pippin protested. "That is why I need some other friend, some kind, loyal person who owes me his life, to make his child my namesake."

"Peregrin, Éowyn already told you what we decided," said Faramir.

"I know. That’s why I’m asking you," Pippin explained. "What if I promised to name my first son Faramir?"

"How can you do that if I cannot even be sure you will ever marry?" Faramir asked.

"If I promised to propose to Diamond the next time I see her, would you name your son after me?" Pippin offered in desperation.

"Do it!" Merry exclaimed.

"I do not even know if my child is a son," said Faramir. "Not even with my Númenorean insight can I tell if my child is a son or a daughter. Queen Arwen, could you tell us?" he asked.

"You need not trouble yourself to satisfy our curiosity, my Queen," Éowyn assured Arwen. To be honest, Éowyn was uncomfortable with the thought of Arwen looking inside her, which she was sure Arwen could do. Éowyn liked Arwen, as did everyone who looked on her, but she still felt a little nervous around her. The fact that Arwen was an Elf was awesome enough. The fact that she had lived in Dwimordene, or Lothlórien, was almost frightening.

"It would be no trouble," said Arwen, "but I cannot tell. Even among the Elves, I never could. Not knowing what to expect is part of the wonder and mystery of bringing new life into the world."

"The wonder is that this has not been the death of me, and the mystery is when this child will be born," Éowyn laughed.

"Is it painful for women to bear children?" asked Arwen. "Please do not mistake me," she said hastily, sensing Éowyn’s irritation at the question. "I never paid much heed to the ways of Men until I met Elessar, and even then, not nearly enough. I ask you how it feels to bear this child because, since I have chosen mortality, I know not whether I shall bear my children as a woman or a she-elf."

"For women, it is hard to bear children, and painful to give birth. Is it not so for elves?" Éowyn asked with genuine curiosity.

"A little, but I think it is not so hard as it is for women," Arwen mused. "My father said that my mother showed little pain even when my twin brothers were born. Of course, in the First Age, Míriel died after giving birth to Fëanor, but that in itself shows how unusual it is for an she-elf to experience so much pain during childbirth."

"Were you there?" asked Éowyn, not thinking this news very encouraging.

"Oh, no," Arwen laughed. "I am only two thousand, seven hundred, and eighty-six years old. I am one of the youngest of my people."

"How old are your brothers?" asked Merry.

"Very near my age," said Arwen. "I was born only a hundred and eleven years after they."

"How old was your mother?" asked Pippin. He had wondered about this ever since Sam and Frodo told him that Arwen’s mother was the daughter of Celeborn and Galadriel, who, according to Bilbo’s notes, had been married since before Elrond’s parents were born.

"Is, not was," said Arwen. "She still lives, as does Frodo." Aragorn took Arwen’s hand as he caught the sadness in her eyes. Arwen’s mother had gone to Valinor centuries ago. Now that Arwen had joined herself to Aragorn and his race (and given Frodo her passage to Valinor), she could not be sure if she would ever see her mother again. Valinor was a part of this world, and when Arwen died, she would go on to the next. Pippin still hadn’t received an answer, but, seeing Arwen’s sorrow, he decided not to press for one.

"I wish Frodo could have stayed around longer to see how things are going in Middle Earth," said Merry.

"I think we all do," said Aragorn. "We all owe so much to the Ring Bearer. Still, though it would have been better for us if he had stayed, it was better for him to go to Valinor."

"It is good, though," said Éowyn, "that not all of us can leave the world when we choose. Look at what I would have missed if I had died in battle as I had wished."

"At least you did not deliberately order your own death," sighed Faramir, thinking of his father. It saddened him to think that he alone of his family still lived; but the sadness of losing his family was more than matched by the happiness of starting a new family with Éowyn. Sometimes Faramir wondered what his father and brother would have thought of his marriage to Éowyn. Boromir might have approved, especially since he seemed to have grown so much on his last mission. Denethor, on the other hand, would probably have been angered and disappointed that his son would choose a wife of the Rohirrim rather than of the women of Númenor. But then, that had been Denethor’s reaction to nearly everything Faramir did.

"I would never have let Éowyn die," Merry said sweetly and loyally.

"My halfling hero," Éowyn laughed, then quickly drew a sharp breath. Merry hoped he hadn’t offended her, but his worries were eased as she smiled after a second.

"Are you well? Have the pains started?" Faramir asked her, looking at her intently as though trying to read her mind.

"I am fine, and please stop giving me that Númenor look every time I take a breath," Éowyn replied.

"I give you ‘that Númenor look’ because I do not trust you to tell me if the pains start," Faramir said plainly.

"Faramir, I am with child. I cannot tell you every time I feel any sort of discomfort."

"Do you honestly expect me to believe that you gave up being a shieldmaiden?" he teased. "Did you know," he said to his guests, "how hard it was to convince her that she could not be her own midwife?"

"I am a healer," Éowyn reasoned, "and the presence of a midwife is not what causes a child to be born. Still, I relented, since Ioreth would have been hurt if I had not given her the honor."

"Oh, is she here?" asked Merry.

"Yes," said Éowyn. "She and her husband have been living nearby for about two years. Until not very long ago, I had been working with her to start a house of healing here in Ithilien. It takes some patience working with her, but she has gotten a little better at doing less talking and more healing."

"I am sure everyone who visits her has heard that she was praised by Mithrandir for her words at my coming," Aragorn smiled dryly.

"Many times," Éowyn replied with equal dryness. "She does get her tales confused often, but that part is always perfectly clear." Éowyn drew another sharp breath, then looked as though nothing had happened.

Arwen bore an expression that seemed much like Faramir’s Númenor look, only more wistful and intent. "Lady Éowyn, how far does Ioreth live from the palace?"

"It takes no more than ten minutes to reach her house," said Éowyn.

"I think you should send for her," said Arwen. "Your child will be born tonight."

"Queen Arwen, I may not have Elven foresight, but I think I can tell when my own chi-" Suddenly Éowyn fell silent and grabbed the arms of her chair, gripping until her knuckles turned pure white.

"Éowyn-" Faramir began.

"Get…Ioreth," Éowyn gasped.

Read Part One | Read Part Three

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