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The Days of the King  by Cairistiona

I Spy

A one-shot family portrait, unbeta'd, inspired by Mikononyte's wonderful little poem.
Rated G

o0o

I spy with my little grey eyes

A Nazgűl flying in the sky
A shiny ring amongst the reeds
A little hobbit with skinned knees
A fairy princess with black hair,
dancing amongst the flowers fair
An Enemy both strong and foul
A strong sword for this dark hour
A broken sword that now is mend
And Hope, Estel, this time to lend.
- by Mikononyte

     


Four-year-old Eldarion came racing into the room, fresh from the bath, but nowhere near sleepy despite the late hour. He crashed into Aragorn’s knees and hung there, arms and legs wrapped around both of Aragorn’s legs. He looked up at his Ada with shining grey eyes. “Ada, Ada! Tell me I Spy again! Nana said you could tell it to me as my bedtime story! Pleeeeease?”

When Eldarion looked at him like that, Aragorn felt like handing over every bit of treasure in the entire kingdom. He smiled and untangled his son from his legs and lifted him to his hip instead. “It would be my pleasure, little one.”

He carried him to his bedroom and settled him into his bed, pulling up the blanket and making sure he had Windfola, the stuffed horse his Aunt Éowyn had made for him as a gift on his last birthday. Then he sat on the edge of the bed and frowned. “Now, how does it start again?”

Eldarion sat up and bounced on the mattress. “I spy with my little grey eye! You know that, Ada!”

Aragorn smiled. “Ah yes, thank you. You’re far more clever than I.”

Eldarion beamed. To be smarter than the King was quite an accomplishment for a four-year-old.

I spy with my little grey eye…” he started.

“Ada, my eyes are grey just like yours. Did you know that?”

“Yes, I did. And your eyes are shaped like your nana’s, did you know that?”

He nodded, then laid back again on his pillow. He cuddled Windfola close, because he knew the next line was the scary one.

“… a Nazgűl flying in the sky.”

“Ada, did the Nazgűl scare you?”

“Very much.”

“What did you do?”

“I tried to think about good things. Like your nana, and your uncles, and how terrible it would be if the Nazgűl hurt any of them.”

“Did the Nazgűl hurt you?”

“Not very much.” He saw a haunted look creep into his son’s eyes. “Let’s continue, all right? A shiny Ring against the reeds…”

“What are reeds, Ada?”

“A kind of grass that grows by the water. They’re hollow and you can use them to blow bubbles.”

“Can we do that tomorrow?”

“Maybe. But for now, let’s finish the poem.”

Eldarion started to giggle, already anticipating the next line.

A little hobbit with skinned knees…” He reached down and squeezed Eldarion’s knee caps, which caused much shrieking, wiggling and laughter. “A fairy princess with black hair, dancing among the flowers fair…”

Eldarion’s laughter faded to a scowl and a disgusted curl of his lip. He didn’t care much for girls, fairy princess or no, and flowers were boring.

Aragorn put on his fiercest frown and growled in a voice as deep as a bear’s, “An Enemy both strong and foul…”

Eldarion sat up, and before Aragorn could say it, yelled out, “A strong sword for this dark hour!” He thrust an imaginary sword into the air and before Aragorn could stop him, leaped to his feet and started bounding all over his bed, slashing at dozens of Strong and Foul Enemies. Then he cried out in truly horrible dismay as his sword broke.

That was Aragorn’s cue. He pretended to take up the broken pieces and hammer them together. With great ceremony and dignity, he held out the remade imaginary sword as if it lay across both his hands, and said, “A broken sword that now is mend…” He pulled the sword back before Eldarion’s eager hands could grasp it. “Be careful, it’s still hot from the forge. You can’t use it until tomorrow or it will break again.”

Eldarion took great care in pretending to take it by the hilt. He even puffed out his cheeks and blew on it. Then he slid it into a pretend scabbard, and as he settled back against his pillows, Aragorn tucked the blankets back around his shoulders.

And Hope, Estel, his time to lend,” he said softly, and kissed his son gently on the forehead.

“Ada, you were Estel, weren’t you.”

“Yes, I was. Your grandfather Elrond named me that, when I was a child.”

“But your name is Aragorn Elessar.”

He had no desire to go into the reasons behind his childhood name change. Eldarion would never get to sleep and if he did, he might have nightmares about his own Ada dying. No, that was definitely a daytime tale. “It was like a nickname.”

Eldarion nodded. He knew all about nicknames. Gimli the Dwarf had given him several, in fact. His favorite was Hairyfoot the Hobbit because he liked the sound of it, but as he thought about it, he realized it didn’t make any sense. “Ada, why aren’t my feet hairy?”

Aragorn blinked. “Er…”

“Gimli calls me Hairyfoot the Hobbit, but I don’t have hairy feet so why does he call me that?”

“I imagine it’s because he has a great love for hobbits, and a great love for you. And hobbits have hairy feet even if you don’t.”

Eldarion lifted the blanket and looked down toward his feet. “I wish I did.”

“Your boots might not fit very well if you suddenly sprouted foot hair.”

Eldarion’s eyes widened. He loved his boots, which were just like Ada’s, only his size. “Will they?”

Aragorn smiled gently. “No, Eldarion. Men do not have hairy feet, and though yours is the bloodline of many races—Man, Elf, and Maia—Hobbit is not one of them.”

Eldarion nodded. His eyelids started to droop and he turned onto his side, a sure sign that sleep was moments away. “I love you, Ada.”

“And I love you,” Aragorn said softly. He gave him another kiss. “Tomorrow we will go to the river and blow bubbles through reeds.”

A sleepy smile, then eyelids fell and breathing slowed, and his little son was fast asleep. Aragorn quietly stood, smoothed out the blanket one last time, then turned to leave. He was startled to see Arwen in the doorway.

She smiled. “I spy with my little grey eyes a wonderful father.”

He gave her a long and deep kiss. “Is that all you see?”

Her grey eyes sparkled. “Hmm. I suppose you might be seen as a passing fair lover.”

“Only passing fair, eh?” He carefully closed Eldarion’s door and leaned his back against it. “You best watch yourself or I’ll go find another fairy princess with dark hair.”

“But will she dance among the flowers as gracefully as I?”

He pulled her close and ran the back of his fingers along her cheek. “No,” he whispered. “No one possibly can.”

He kissed her, then took her hand and together they walked down the corridor to the bedroom they shared, and the rest of that night, Aragorn did his best to be more than passing fair.





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