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A Light in Midwinter  by Mirkwoodmaiden

Quick A/N:  In this chapter I write of something called a Tadaura, a hobbit celebration. It is not canon.  It is my own invention mentioned in my story “Changes and Acceptances.” I looked at the history of hobbits in the Shire and the Long Winter and how many people especially children died. I created the idea of the Tadaura, the celebration of hobbit children surviving to their second birthday after the effects of the Long Winter had passed.  At least I think I created it and not the Professor. It has been a long time since I wrote that story. 😊  Enjoy!

~*~*~*~*~

Chapter 3

Faramir sat in the local inn with a mug in one hand and a pipe in the other.  He was trying to calm his jangled nerves and was not meeting with much success.  He sat across from the two hobbits who, on previous visits, had found the delights of the ale house much to their liking.  According to them nothing surpassed the Green Dragon or the Golden Perch but the ale at the King’s Arms drank well enough.  He smiled at the comparison he had heard often.

“What’s that?  I do believe it is a smile.  What say you, Master Pippin?”

Pippin chimed in, “Strider, I do believe you are right.  It definitely bears resemblance to one!  What do you say, Merry?”

Merry puffed, leaned forward and pronounced, “Yup! That’s a smile all right!  Rare these days!  Well spotted, Strider.  Your ranger instincts are still intact after all these years, for indeed, that smile has been a rare beasty of late.”

Faramir shook his head, “Are you all quite finished, now?”

Aragorn looked at the two hobbits and they mutually agreed, nodding their heads, curls bobbing.  Then he looked at Faramir, “Yes, I think so.”  He paused a couple beats, “Now are you going to tell me what is the matter?

Faramir sighed, "I don't know what is the matter.  That is the matter!"

"I have not heard a riddle so rendered since Gandalf left these shores." Aragorn declared. 

"Well," said Faramir, "Speaking plainly, I think Éowyn hates me."

Aragorn and the two hobbits simply stared at Faramir.

"Well, maybe she doesn't hate me, necessarily." Faramir explained, weakly, "But I certainly can't seem to please her.  I say one thing, she snaps, I say the opposite she snaps.  I mean she's always had a temper but...

"You just can't seem to do anything right....?" Aragorn finished.

"Yes!  I'm almost beginning to think a spirit has possessed her," Faramir finished, exasperation evident in his voice.

"It has," said Aragorn, Faramir looked at his king with some concern. Aragorn held up his hands in a calming fashion, "At least it is the same spirit that inhabited Arwen just before she gave birth to Eldarion.  Though she was far more down-spirited in her last few weeks."  He turned to Merry and Pippin, "You remember when Arwen gave birth in the Shire, I had departed to see Lord Elrond and Arwen ..."  Both hobbits nodded sagely, which in and of itself was most unusual.  

Faramir remembered that time for he and Éowyn had been there as well.  Friends and family had gathered for the Tadaura celebration for the second birthday for Sam and Rosie’s first born, little Elanor.  And Eldarion had been born while Aragorn and Arwen were in residence at Bag End. It had not been a happy time leading up to Eldarion's birth.  After the birth however joy was in abundance that much he remembered and Arwen had recovered her merry nature.

"So you are saying that Éowyn will stop being a raving she-beast after the child is born?” Faramir ventured hopefully.

“Well I’m not sure my sister has ever stopped being a raving she-beast, but I would not take my own life in my hands to even suggest that she change!”

Faramir looked up and was surprised to see Éomer arriving at their table.  “Éomer!  What are you doing here? When did you arrive? You were expected until tomorrow.  Did Lothiriel make the journey as well?”

“It is good to see you as well, my brother!” Éomer said chidingly but with good humor.  “My Lord,” He inclined a bow to Aragorn as his Liege Lord, but as he knew in circumstances such as these Aragorn preferred as little ceremony as possible to be performed.  Aragorn inclined his head and gestured that Éomer be seated.  Rohan’s king turned a chair around and sat astride as he would a horse, leaning his arms on the back of his chair, “And Aye, I have brought Lothiriel, I could not keep her away even I had wanted to.  She was very insistent on being here for the birth of her new nephew or niece.  But alas the little one is too young to travel.” Éomer looked at Merry with a glint in his eye, “Have you no greeting for your king?” At once Merry straightened and made ready to rise, but Éomer stopped him with his words, “Be at ease, Master Holdwine.” For that is what Merry was named in Rohirrim, “I am at ease and so should you be.  And what is this I hear of my sister as ravaging she-beast?” He turned to Faramir, as he motioned for a serving maid to visit their table.

“That is just it.  I know not what has come over her.” Faramir stated, clearly confused.

“She is very close to foaling, is she not?” Éomer asked.  A look of compassion and fear crossed his ruddy features.  “Lothiriel,” he lowered his voice to a near conspiratorial whisper, “threw a ledger of figures at me nearing her time to foal.  For no reason other than I mentioned she was wearing a new gown and it looked larger.”

Pippin added enthusiastically, “Éowyn dumped a mug of wine on Faramir’s head yesterday!”

Éomer roared with what turned out to be sympathetic laughter and Faramir looked at the overenthusiastic Took, “Thank you Pippin!  I can tell my own tales of woe if you please!”

Pippin pasted an apologetic look on his face, “Sorry…but please continue!”

Faramir sighed and took a gulp of his tankard of ale, while Éomer spoke to the serving maid about drinks for the entire table.  This met with universal acclamation from the gathered population of the table.  “For celebration purposes!  My dear brother-in-law is about to become a father and is uncovering the secret kept from us all until such times.  Women bearing children are dangerous and unpredictable beasties.  A lifetime battling orcs never prepared us for the real battles to come.”

Aragorn looked at Faramir, “Éomer speaks true.  Lothiriel threw more than one ledger at his head in the last weeks before she birthed Elfwine.”

Éomer counted on his fingers, “A flagon of wine, a bolt of green silk which I foolishly kept insisting was blue, and a live chicken,” he finished with remembered fear in his eyes, shaking himself from the reverie.

“A live chicken?” the population of the table said in a voice of one.

“It is a long story and I do not wish to speak of it right now.” Éomer spoke quickly, haunted blue eyes trying to look beyond the memory how upset Lothiriel had been.  “But the point being these are not normal times.” The rest of the table, however, was still in thrall to the idea of the fiery-spirited Lothiriel chucking live poultry at her warrior husband.

Éomer sighed, grabbed the tankard of ale off of the serving tray proffered by the returning serving maid.  He downed that pint wiped his mouth on his sleeve and reached for another tankard, saying to the serving maid, “Another please for my friend as I just drank his.”

“At once, My lord.” said Teliril, the dark-haired serving maid, “Keep them coming?”

“Aye,” said Éomer.  He drew a deep breath and began the tale.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Edoras  1423 SR

Lothiriel sat in her bower in the golden hall of Meduseld running her hands over a beautiful bolt of greenish blue silk that her father had sent from Dol Amroth, his holding by the sea.  It reminded her of the color of the seas by her home.  She longed to see the sea again.  It was bred into her blood.  She longed as also to see this fabric made into a new gown but as she stroked her child-swollen stomach she decided that it would be best to wait until the child was born.  She sighed; she was beginning to feel as she was putting off so much while she waiting for the child to be born.  It was not a rational thought, perhaps but she was growing impatient with everything these days. She wanted to be useful and she could do nothing without great effort, even getting up from the chair took effort.  She did manage to stand up and she walked over to the window overlooking the landscape before her.  As much as she loved the sea and missed the breezes of her seaside childhood home she had to admit that the rolling plains and valleys, high promontories and rocky strength of her new Rohirrim home had stolen into her heart as well.  There was a quiet strength and beauty in this land and in their people.  At first the Rohirrim were quiet and reserved toward her, not unfriendly, but also not as open as those she had grown up with.  It gave her pause at first, but Éomer was adamant that she only needed to give his people time to grow accustomed to her.  Soon they would love her as much as he did.  He had been right.  After a few months they began warming to her and she came to know the quiet strength, loyalty and resolve of the Rohirrim.  They too, had found a place in her heart.  

“It is beautiful view…” came a voice from behind.  Éomer’s arms encircled her from behind.

“The golden hills are beautiful at this time of year.” Lothiriel agreed in a soft voice, trying to hide her discontent.

“I was thinking more of your soft golden hair flowing down your back, but the hills are nice, too.”

Lothiriel turned around and looked at her stern warrior husband.  His blue eyes softened he looked at her and his brow smoothed from the worries of kingship.  In his eyes she saw his heart, full of loyalty and kindness, emotions that were always below the stern visage that he showed the world.  She fell in love with those eyes.  When they first met during the week of wedding festivities for his sister and her beloved cousin, Faramir she had not known what she would think of the newly crowned king of Rohan.  She had known very little of his people and had heard they were stern and serious.  But one look into Éomer’s eyes and she saw the truth of that statement and yet, so much more.

“Éomer, you are a silly man.”

“Only with you, my love, only with you.”  And he turned her around proceeded to kiss her neck in a very distracting fashion.  So much so that she forgot for a while her discontent.  Until the child kicked and made itself known again. She winced slightly.  And Éomer immediately became concerned. 

“Are you alright?”

“Aye, I am fine! Tis the child making his presence known, as if I could forget!” was Lothiriel’s fervent response, “I can do nothing but notice!  I need to do something useful or I will be driven to distraction with this incessant waiting!”

Éomer sensing a definite change in mood and should have proceeded warily, all his warrior’s instinct were warning him of danger and to tread carefully, but unlike on the battlefield he crashed straight through the warnings.  “But you are with child, you need to rest! You can do nothing strenuous!”

“DO NOT TELL ME WHAT I CAN AND CANNOT DO!” his normally sweet-tempered wife yelled at him, disentangling herself from his arms.  She beat a hasty retreat, grabbing her wrap and storming out of the room past a very startled Fastred who had been about to knock and bid them come to lunch.  He cast a quizzical look at his King.  Éomer walked up to the young rider, just shaking his head and placing a hand on the young man’s shoulder, he opened and shut his mouth, shaking his head again, “Fastred, I am as confused as you are… But I envy you.”

“My King?” the confused young man queried.

Éomer looked at him, “You don’t have to go after her while she is in this mood…I do.” He sighed and mentally martialed his resolve.

Fastred looked his king, “May I wish you good luck and safe hunting, my King.” He ventured. 

Éomer smiled the smile of one who has accepted his fate, “Live well, Fastred.  I go forth.” Fist on heart he saluted the young man. 

Fastred stated solemnly, fist on heart, “It has been my honor to serve you, My King!”

They departed as brothers in arms, Éomer left the bower to seek his she-dragon.

He went outside and listened.  He heard some squawking from the pen where the hens were nesting. It was at least a place to start the search for his wayward wife. He quickly made his way down the path and saw the gate to the chicken coop slightly ajar; it had not been properly latched and one chicken was making a bid for freedom.  He quickly scooped up the chicken tossed it inside the pen and latched it from the inside.  He heard more disturbed squawking inside the hen house and intrepidly decided to investigate.  What he saw melted his heart.  Lothiriel was bent over talking to one of the hens. She was holding a basket that as yet held no eggs. She was intent on her task so much so that she did not notice Éomer’s presence.  But she had clearly never collected eggs before. She spoke to the hen, “Now listen here, I have to collect these eggs.  It is a useful task and I must do something!  Don’t give me that look.  This is what I must do.”  Losing patience she thrust her hand under the chicken who had been eyeing her with much suspicion.  Everything seemed to happen at once.  The hen flapped indignantly having been so rudely disturbed, flew into her face, Lothiriel in self-defense batted the chicken away receiving a few scratches on her hands and face and the chicken flew straight at Éomer and hit him in the stomach and then fell to the ground and woke up the other chickens, who had quietly sleeping.  Éomer ran to Lothiriel to protect her from the angry flapping birds and shielded her as they flapped out of the hen house and into the yard.  After a few minutes when all was calm once again within the hen house Éomer looked at his upset and befeathered wife. He hugged her as she sobbed from the trauma of the moment.  He took a cloth from his pocket and started to dab the blood from the scratches on her face and hands and hugged her more. 

“My love, just what were you trying to do?”

“Well I can’t have been doing it well enough if you have to ask.” Lothiriel answered with some semblance of her normal humour, as it were perfectly normal for her to be collecting eggs, she attempted a laugh through her tears. She attempted to swat away chicken feathers and only succeeded in stirring up more.  Her shoulders slumped, “I just thought if I could do one useful thing I would feel a little bit better.  But those hens were NOT co-operating!”  Éomer was trying desperately hard not to laugh and failing at his valiant attempts.  His body was shaking with the efforts.   “It isn’t funny!” Lothiriel claimed as her fist pounded the nesting shelf causing more feathers to fly. At seeing those feather flying the indignation written across her face changed to amusement and she started laughing as well. 

After some moments when tears were shed in both frustration and humour Éomer said, “I think we should vacate the hen house and let the hens back in.  Though I doubt we will be getting many eggs from them today!”

“I don’t care if I ever see another egg again!” Lothiriel said as Éomer made a valiant yet mostly futile effort to remove excess feathers from her clothing.   After that effort was only partially achieved they left the henhouse to its intended occupants.

“Let’s get those scratches seen to.”

“Can you do it?  The explanation to the healer would be more shame than I could bear.”  Lothiriel looked imploringly at Éomer.  His heart melted a second time that day.

“I will personally speak to the healer and explain the situation and command that she never reveal what caused the injuries.  She will understand.”  Éomer King spoke.  No one would ever disparage his lovely and indomitable wife, ever.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“So you see, do not ever make any mention of the scar on her cheek or hands.” Éomer took a gulp of from his tankard and paused, “And it is best that you never mention that I told you this story.  She would have my guts for garters.  But I tell you this.”  Éomer looked at Faramir, "only to reassure to you that these are not normal times and your Éowyn will return to you."

Faramir paused and looked at Éomer, "Thank you, my brother."  He took a gulp from his own tankard and declared, "and at least Éowyn has never thrown a live chicken at me!"  They all raised their tankards. "Yet."

 





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