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A Light in Midwinter  by Mirkwoodmaiden

The morning dawned with the pale brightness of the winter sun.  The recovering forest of Ithilien was quiet with only the soft sounds of morning, the occasional tree squirrel searching for a spare nut for breakfast afters, the slight wind blowing through the leafless branches. Faramir stood at the balcony of their bedchamber gently holding his newborn son.  Swaying the child slowly, he looked into the blue eyes that so reminded him of his beloved brother, Faramir was filled with a love unlike any he had ever known. He kissed the tiny perfect forehead of his son, “This is all yours,” he promised looking out onto the forest of Ithilien, of which the king had named him prince, “I shall keep it safe and give it all to you, my son.” His voice choked a little at those last two words. His son. He could not get over the wonder of it all, that his life had brought him to this point.  He was a father.  Faramir drew in a deep calming breath; he really did not know what that meant as the model he had been given was one no one should ever follow.  But one thing he did know, it started with love.   That he was sure of; Éowyn had shown him that.  “I love you, my son.”

Éowyn had awoken just as Faramir had approached the balcony.  Nurse would not be happy that the baby was out and about, but she would deal with that later.  Father and son needed time together, she felt this in her very bones.  She simply laid on her side, arm propping up her head and watched father and son share a quiet moment together.  She watched him sway the child, speaking gently.  When his voice caught on the words “my son” her eyes filled with tears.  So much emotion was loaded into those two words.  She knew how much it meant to him to have a son, to fill his heart, to be the father he never had.  Tears fell in earnest as she heard the whispered avow of love. She wiped them away and got out of bed, stepped into her fur-lined slippers and walked the few feet to her husband and son, placing her arms around Faramir’s back, placing her cheek on his back breathing the scent of musky brocade that was her husband surreptitiously wiping away the last of her tears. “Morning,” she murmured.

“You should be in bed,” Faramir declared.

“Nonsense, I feel fine” It was a day past the solstice, and she was feeling more fit than expected.  She came over to his side, “he is so beautiful…” she said looking down at their son.  Blue eyes, wisps of blondish hair, blowing a spit bubble looking at the both of them.

Faramir smiled and still looking at their son, “Do you think he is thinking ‘who are these two people looking at me so adoringly?’ “

Éowyn laughed as she reached to hold the baby, “Perhaps,” as she cradled the child to her chest.  Faramir was struck by the beauty of this picture.  He leaned over and kissed Éowyn on the forehead, “Thank you,” tears once again gathering in his eyes. Éowyn looked up into the tear-lined earnest blue eyes of the man she loved, her heart swelled with love and lips met.

After a few moments, a “Ahem” was heard.  They broke apart to see Nurse, “Begging your pardon, M’lord and Lady but baby needs to be placed back in his cot.”  Both Faramir and Éowyn, raised to obey Nurse, immediately said, “Aye, Nurse.” 

Faramir took their son into his arms and walked to Nurse and in his most charming voice said, “My son and I needed a little time together, I’m sure you understand.”

Nurse looked at him for a few seconds, “Away with you!” she smiled, as he handed her the child and she proceeded towards the nursery down the hall.

Éowyn looked at him with an amused smile, “Butter would not melt in your mouth,” as she shook her head.

“Well thank you, M’Lady.  I do try.  Now where were we…”  Faramir closed the door and from behind the closed door a giggle was heard and then it went quiet.

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

The next day preparations were well underway for the child’s Naming Day in three days time.  As tradition had it in Gondor it was not until Naming day that the child’s name was revealed to the world, friends and family included. On that day the babe was surrounded by family and friends. The new life celebrated, symbolic that life and hope were continuing.  A Naming cowl in the family’s colors were given to those family members and friends chosen to become part of the child's family.  It was a high honor to be given a naming cowl. 

The Naming Day of the heir to Prince Faramir was especially joyful not only for his family and friends. All of Ithilien would rejoice that a little prince and heir had been born and was being named on that day. Before the actual day of the naming, there was much speculation as what name was to be chosen and there was even a small flurry of “secret” wagering happening at the King’s Arms.  Merry and Pippin were at the King's Arms once again sampling their wares; Beregond joined them after his duties were discharged They sat watching the casual wagering take place and thought about placing a couple of wagers themselves. Of course when the King walked into the pub looking for the two hobbits all activity of this nature stopped.  It was one thing to make book; it was quite another to make it right under the king’s nose.

“So once again this is where I find you!” Aragorn stated.

Pippin looked at Aragorn, “Really Strider, was it really so difficult to figure out?” and proceeded to take another swallow of his ale.

Aragorn just smiled and shook his head at the irrepressible Took. “So very true, Master Took.  Be that as it may your presence has been requested by the seamstresses.  Measurements must be taken for your naming cowls.”

Merry looked at him slightly askance, “Not be cheeky in any way, Strider.  But you were sent to fetch us?”

Aragorn looked at Merry and knew it was time for truth telling to his hobbit compatriots, “In truth, it is a real request but I did use it as a way to escape ‘planning.’”

Pippin looked at Aragorn, “Strider, I am shocked.  Impressed and pleased but shocked that you should shirk 'planning'.  Have a pint and tell us about it.”

Aragorn pulled up a stool and flagged over Teliril, the dark haired serving maid, “Round of Ale please.”

“Aye, My Lord,” Teliril smiled, dropping the smallest of reflexive curtsies to her king.

“Aye, Aye, off with you,” Aragorn stated. He was still not used to people genuflecting around him.  For years he, as a ranger often went unnoticed and unremarked.  If remarked upon it was more often negative.  “Strider” he had been named in Bree and it had not necessarily been a compliment.  Now he was only called Strider by Pippin and Merry and sometimes Sam.   For them it was a term of endearment and familiarity and with everything they had been though with Aragorn during the Ring War they earned that right.  They were family.  Without them he would not have a crown.

Now he valued them for the dear loyal souls that they were.  Others could try to earn trust or not. The hobbits had it implicitly.   He looked at Pippin and smiled as Teliril was serving up the pints of ale.  “You, my good sir, are going to lead me down the wrong path.”

“Strider,” Pippin was immediately indignant, “I would never!  I merely asked what was happening at Ithilien House and to share refreshment with us.  Nothing more!”

“Of course, perish any other thought,” Aragorn agreed with a knowing smile.

“Quite right,” Pippin confirmed with a bob of his head, brown curls bouncing. 

Aragorn relaxed with his stool against the wall and drank the fine red ale that the King’s Arms brewed.  Errand completed; message delivered. 

Within half an hour Éomer appeared at the entrance to the King’s Arms, “There you three are!  You realize Arwen is looking for you.  There is work to be done!”

Merry chimed up, “Of course there is!  This ale isn’t going to drink itself!”  He poured some ale from the table’s pitcher and offered it to his liege lord.

Éomer walked over and looked in the cup being offered up by Merry, “Is that the fine red ale we had the other night.”

Merry stated unequivocally, “Aye, would I offer my King any less than the best!”

“Aye, Master Holdwine, you would not.  Well, it would seem a shame to waste an already poured pint.” He pulled a chair backward and sat astride.

“Quite right!” Pippin stated emphatically. 

Éomer tossed back some of the fine red ale and relaxed in here in the King's Arms listening to the roaring flame in the hearth.  Errand completed; message delivered.

About a half an hour later Legolas and Gimli appeared.  “The women are beginning to see a pattern here!” Legolas related, “They send someone looking and they disappear and they send another someone and they disappear.  We have been told that if we do not re-appear within half-an-hour, Éowyn is calling up the White Company to come and get us.”

Beregond chimed in, “Too late, I’m already here.”

Legolas chuckled, “Aye, well I don’t think Éowyn realises that quite yet.”

Aragorn stood and sighed, “Come good sirs!  It is time we are returning.  It is our lot to fetch and carry.  It is the way of things.”

“Aye that it is!” Éomer stood and affirmed Aragorn’s words, “Up Master Holdwine," he said, clapping Merry on the back, "it is time we do our duty. The womenfolk have called us back!”  Seeing Merry’s reluctance, Éomer added, “When you take a wife, Master Holdwine, you will discovery there is a time for play and there is a time for doing what you must do!”  He clapped Merry on the shoulder again and laughed, “There are compensations, you will see.  Up, Sir!”

Merry tossed back the last of his pint and stood.  Pippin followed suit but murmured, “And this is why I’m never getting married.”

Aragorn heard and added, “And I will remind you of those words on your wedding day,”

Pippin looked doubtful at the concept of his marrying, but he did not want to gainsay his king.

The motley group made their way back to Ithilien House to be met by Éowyn, sitting in the main hall as the only nod to the fact she had given birth two days ago.  Normally she would have been bustling about giving orders on the move. Instead she was holding court about what needed to be done next.  Hair tied back and a ledger in hand, she was speaking animatedly with the housekeeper, Guthhild, a stern and capable-looking woman.  She looked up, “Legolas, I see you have found our wayward ones! Good!  There many things to be done! Go and get measured for your naming cowls and then return here for your assignments! Scoot!”

They all filed out like schoolboys off to lessons.  Éomer said, to no one in particular, “And before you ask.  Aye, she has always had a bit of a bossy streak.”

They arrived at the seamstress’ room and saw Faramir being fitted for his new tunic of forest green and silver.  “Ah, I see you all were found.  What did it take?”

Legolas said “Éowyn threatened to call out the White Company!”

Faramir laughed, not without a slight amount of truthfulness, “And don’t think she wouldn’t have done it, too.”

“Aye, she is my sister.  I don’t have to imagine.  I know.”

The seamstress interrupted, “Okay, My lord.  That is done.  Take that off and give it to Théoddis.” Saerid motioned to a small blond girl waiting at a worktable. “Right!  Who wants to be next?” she said with an air of command whipping a worn cloth measuring tape around her neck.

~*~*~*~*~*~

The morning of the Naming Day dawned bright, Éowyn stood at the balcony at their bedchamber overlooking the forest. Off to the side was the courtyard where the ceremony was to happen. Only the finishing touches were needed then it would be ready. She sipped her morning mulled wine before she began the day.  She let the calm beauty of the forest soothe her after the week's activity.  She felt arms around her and Faramir's familiar scent permeate her senses.  "My lady, what is going through that beautiful head of yours?"

Éowyn leaned back into him, "Nothing, everything.  Every good thing, every bad thing that has brought us to this point of happiness.  Would we have met if I had not disobeyed my orders to stay at Edoras and not ride with my brothers to war?"

Kissing her neck had distracted Faramir from the first portion of what she was saying. "Mmm... dunno know..." he murmured distractedly. Then stopping briefly, "I do not know," he stated more clearly.  "I suppose everything that has happened was needed to lead to this point..." His voice trailed off.  Thinking of the past was not something Faramir chose to do very often.

Éowyn turned in his arms and saw the troubled aspect in Faramir's eyes. "I'm sorry.  I did not mean to delve into unpleasant memories." Setting down her goblet on the wide railing, she caressed the side of his face with the palm of her hand.

"It is not you," Faramir whispered, "The past is past. It needs to remain there. There is so much I would forget but I find I cannot.  It will be with me."  He sighed. He could almost hear his brother speaking within his heart, "Remember this day, little brother. Today, life is good."  It warmed his heart. And deeper still hearing with a child's memory, the soft voice belonging to his mother, "You are so special to me, Faramir. I love you."  Melancholy settled in behind those words as it always did when he remembered Mama.  He blinked and there was nothing more.  He looked down to Éowyn, who had become his whole life and he held her close.  "The past is the past..." he said beyond any pain he hid in his heart.  "We must learn to move on from it."

~*~*~*~*~

The Naming Ceremony went back in Gondorian tradition to the time of the first ruling Stewards.  It was a way for families to believe in their futures and not their pasts.  Gondor had fallen into the mire of looking backwards, lauding those who had come before and ignoring those in the present. Gondor had lost its way. After the last king Eärnur was lost, possibly murdered by the Witch King and the Stewards became the rulers in all but title in Gondor, a slow growing tradition of celebrating the next generation became the Naming ceremony.  To honor the future, while not forgetting the past.  It was a time-honored tradition.

The sun was at its zenith when the ceremony was to begin.  The women of Emyn Arnen wore winter holly and berries in their hair symbolizing fertility and protection. The men wore sprigs pinned to their tunics. 

Faramir watched as Lothiriel and Arwen placed the Holly leaf and berry wreath upon Éowyn’s loose hair and smoothed down the forest green velvet of her dress and train. Nurse placed their child wrapped in a presenting blanket made of a patchwork of greens, gold and silver, the combined color of Ithilien and Rohan in her arms.  Éowyn smiled nervously at Faramir, who looked resplendent in the new forest green velvet and brocade tunic.  He said, “You have never looked more beautiful than you do right now.”

“Flatterer!” Éowyn said with a smile in her eyes.

“Is it working?”  Faramir countered, laughter in his eyes.

Éowyn looked down at their son in her arms, “I think possibly…Maybe just a little!”

Faramir laughed softly with joy in his heart.

Éomer stepped forward with Merry and Pippin.  All had matching forest green naming cowls trimmed with the silver of Ithilien.  Pippin was wearing his sable and silver uniform and Merry had donned his uniform of Rohan. Pippin held the holly wreath for Faramir’s head.  Faramir knelt to allow the wreath to be placed.  “Thank you, my friend and my brother.”

Pippin’s eyes misted and said in a choked-up voice, “It is my honor, my friend and my brother.”

Next, the men left to take their place for the ceremony and the women would follow Faramir and Éowyn.  All were clad in the forest green cowls proclaiming they were all now family to the small babe in Éowyn’s arms.  Lothiriel as kinswoman to Éowyn carried in a green crystal flask the special infusion of Holly leaves to be sprinkled on upon the child for protection as were all newborn babies.

The ceremony was out amid the winds of Manwë and the green of Yavanna symbolizing that it was amid nature we are born and amid nature that we also have the seasons of our lives.  Normally it was the elder of the two families that presided over the ceremony but Imrahil and his wife, who had arrived a few days before to share this moment with his beloved nephew bowed to Aragorn as king to lead the solemnity.

Aragorn stood beneath an archway of holly leaves.  Behind him stood Éomer, Beregond, Merry and Pippin standing proudly in their matching cowls.  All waited as Faramir and Éowyn walked under the Holly Archway to stand in front of Aragorn in his role as Chief celebrant.

Aragorn looked both Éowyn and Faramir, joy written across his face.  He began, “Two have come forth to stand amid the winds of Manwë and the life slumbering in the winter of Yavanna’s forest.  Faramir, son of Denethor and Finduilas and Éowyn, daughter Eomund and Théodwyn.”  Both Faramir and Éowyn nodded solemnly.  Aragorn continued, “Your love has produced hope and love in the creation of this child, step forth and receive Manwë’s blessing.” Faramir and Éowyn took one more step forward.  “What shall all call this child?

Éowyn spoke in a clear voice, “To honor the great love that Faramir that bore his brother, Boromir, our child shall share his name.”

Faramir spoke with tears in his eyes, “And to honor the family of my heart; my wife, not only shall he share my brother’s name but we shall honor her family as well. The child, our son shall be named Elboron.  A son of both Gondor and Rohan.”

Aragorn “Elboron.  It is well.  Bring forth the Holly infusion.”  Lothiriel walked forward and bowed her head and raised her hands holding the green flask to her king’s liege lord.

Unstoppering the flask, Aragorn poured the contents into a crystal bowl and dipped a silver sprinkler wand into the bowl, and sprinkled the child with the holly infusion, “Elboron, son of Faramir and Éowyn.  Son of Gondor and Rohan.  May you bring honor and light.  May you live to bring happiness and joy.  May you know peace.  May you bring honor to your family lineage. And should need arise may you always fight for what is right and in the service of others.  Elboron, you bear a name of made of strength and honor and love.  May you always be true to its spirit.”  Aragorn looked Faramir and Éowyn and sprinkled the Holly infusion upon them, “May your family know joy and draw strength from adversity and from each other, remembering that the core of a family is love, strength and forgiveness.” 

At the word “forgiveness” Faramir felt within his heart words in a voice he never thought to hear again, “I am sorry, my son. For all.  Can you ever forgive me?”  Faramir somehow knew from deep within his heart it was his father, asking forgiveness.  Looking at his son in his beloved wife’s arms he knew he could never deny it.  Within his heart he said “Aye, I do.”  Immediately his heart filled with light and the way forward was clear.  Whether it was real or simply the wish of his heart did not matter.  Within his own heart he had forgiven his flawed, tempestuous father.  He then looked at little Elboron and knew a new life.

 





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