Eldarion placed a comforting hand on Mírra’s back, and she finally turned out of her father’s embrace, hugging her brother once more. Aragorn looked on quietly, as he himself began to relax.
“I was so frightened,” the prince told his sister quietly.
“So was I,” Mírra replied as she withdrew, composing herself again. “But it seems all is mended now.”
“Indeed,” he smiled, reaching into a pocket, “I am very glad to restore this to you.”
In his palm was the violet stone on its silver chain.
“You found it!” she exclaimed as she took it up thankfully. The clasp had broken, but it looked well enough besides.
“Your cloak also,” Eldarion added. “We had just detected your path, when we met up with the gentleman here,” he explained, with a nod to Doran, who had dismounted, to stand next to his sister.
The three of them, blocking out all else in their moments of reacquainting, now became aware of the small audience around them.
“And here we find you well.”
As he spoke Aragorn looked to his daughter, before turning his eyes to the folk that had drawn near.
Adair had emerged from the barn with the two boys and Ailsa. The few stable hands that had been with him also came out to see the newcomers.
Doreth stood at her brother’s side, on her face an expression of mild awe at who was now before them. Before the King could meet her eye she immediately looked down, a sudden blush on her cheek, a hand rushing nervously to her mouth.
“Greetings,” said Aragorn with a slightly formal nod, taking in their hosts with clear gaze.
Both men bowed, as Doreth fell to her knees, abashed in his majesty’s presence. Mírra rushed to take her hand.
“I am very pleased for you to meet part of my family, Doreth” she told the fair woman encouragingly, helping her to stand. “My brother, Eldarion, and my father.”
Aragorn took her hand in greeting, causing her to only blush more furiously. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, lady.”
Doreth responded with a simple curtsy. “This is my… my husband Adair,” she stammered softly, next introducing the three children, “and you have already met my brother Doran, I deem.”
“We were most grateful for your direction, sir,” said Eldarion.
“And I,” spoke Mírra, “for I wondered if you would locate me, so far we are now from the crossing.”
“What did happen, after we were separated?” Eldarion asked her. Aragorn was also curious, to hear her tell of the events of the previous day.
Mírra spoke, with only a little hesitation, of how the lightning had frightened her horse, causing her to fall over the edge of the bridge. She herself had been unsure at the time of how far she had been taken, but at last had found a shallower place to climb up on the riverbank. Adair and Doran had been riding back from a neighbouring village, expecting to return earlier, but had delayed to wait out the storm.
Doreth related how she was only glad to see the two men returned safely out of the weather, but then was surprised at the young lady’s arrival.
“I did not press you to tell us about yourself, that first night, not wanting to upset you further. But if I had, perhaps you would have been reunited sooner, and I am sorry for it."
“Your honesty,” replied the King calmly, “speaks well enough for you, lady.”
Doreth’s cheeks turned even redder, but her smile was genuine.
“My only concern,” said Eldarion thoughtfully, turning to his sister, “if you are well enough to return now to Edoras.”
Though Mírra tried to placate them as best she could of her health, there was still the matter of travel time, for the Rohan capital was more than a day’s ride away, and it was already afternoon. Even if they departed now there would be two nights of camp required.
“If I may suggest, my lords,” Adair spoke simply, “you are welcome to remain here tonight. It would be an honour to host you, and the lady for one night.”
It was strange that they had not considered it, but now that the offer was made, there seemed nothing to stand in the way of it. After more than twenty four hours of tension, the prospect of remaining in such country was indeed very calming.
“We shall stay here tonight, then?” Mírra asked her father, evidently pleased.
“Yes, we shall stay here.”
Mírra’s eyes twinkled as her expression softened. “Wonderful.”
For the rest of the afternoon, the King was pleased to receive a tour of the grounds, learning about his hosts and their occupations. Mírra herself had not even fully seen the entire property.
Adair, a shearer by trade, kept a substantial flock of sheep. With a small number of assistant shepherds, managed the barn and the pasture quite well. As they viewed the barn, the children were very pleased to point out two lambs, who were indeed new just in the past week.
Doreth worked with a few women, mainly the shepherds’ wives, in spinning the wool they produced. As she had told Mírra the day before, Adair did go to Edoras for trade on occasion, and they made a sound living. Their house was not expansive, but more than large enough for their family.
The visitors also learned that while Doran spent part of his time with his sister and brother-in-law, he also managed his own small stable, keeping horses for their own community, and for some folk nearby. He and his son Nolan had a house to call their own, just within sight of the pasture, but spent much time with his sister’s family, even more so since his wife’s death from illness, soon after Nolan’s birth.
If their parents were somewhat in awe of their guests, the children quickly grew excited at the task of showing off their home. And so while Eldarion and Adair worked to set up camp, a short distance from the house, the two boys happily went with Doran to show the King and his daughter the country side, and their favourite places to explore. The landscape north of the house was more hilly, and with more trees, that provided a pleasant walk to finish the afternoon.
As they returned from walking, the daylight was beginning to fade, bringing sunset closer. Aragorn went to rejoin Eldarion in setting their camp, as Mírra remained near the house.
Once again she could not help but take notice of the sounds she heard here. Although it was just beginning to turn to dusk, she was surprised to find a few crickets chirping distinctively in the grass.
She did not even consider that she must have looked odd, standing there quietly, until one of the two boys came by, on his way back to the house. Nolan saw her gaze, apparently fixed on something, but he could not tell what.
“Are you watching something?” he asked in a quiet, curious voice, as he came up beside her.
Mírra turned, only mildly startled, and smiled back at him.
“No, I’m just listening.”
The boy flitted his gaze around them as he tried to hear what she did.
“But it is only the crickets.”
“I am not used to hearing them,” Mírra explained. “Do you like their song?”
Nolan shrugged, as if he was surprised by the question.
“They always sing so many at once. I never find just one.”
“Hm.” The young lady seemed to give this some thought. “Have you ever caught one?”
Nolan shook his head, full of blond hair that fell over his eyes.
“No. They always get away.”
“Perhaps if we are careful.” Mírra gave the quickest of winks. “…and silent.”
The boy put a finger to his lips, in agreement, grinning.
She took a soft step forward in the grass, eyes and ears intent. There was a short chirp just in front of them, before the cricket went silent. Nolan followed her lead in crouching down.
Mírra cautiously extended a hand, and with care cupped her fingers over the spot in the grass. Bringing her hands together, the insect tickled her palm as she caught it. Within a moment it was transferred safely into Nolan’s hands.
“Got it!” he exclaimed happily.
Mírra looked up to see Doran coming from the house. He approached them calmly, observing their behaviour with quiet curiosity.
“Have you found something?”
Nolan rose and went happily to his father, hands cupped together over the insect in his hands, which let out a small chirp in ineffective protest at its capture.
“I’ve got a cricket.”
“Well, shall I see it too?”
“Oh no, papa, it will get away if I do,” said the boy. His light eyes brightened momentarily. “I will show it to Connor, and it will give him a fright.”
His father laughed softly. “Do not blame me when your aunt chases you for your actions.”
Nolan grinned and ran off to the house.
Feeling an unexpected need to neaten her appearance, Mírra pulled her shawl more closely around her shoulders, tucked a few pieces of hair behind her ears. Almost absentmindedly she fingered the edge of the cloth bandage on her arm.
Doran gave slight nod of his head in greeting, which Mírra returned. For the first time he was alone in her company, and at a loss for words. But the problem was solved when it was the princess who spoke first.
“I realise I haven’t yet thanked you properly, for what you’ve done for me.”
Doran smiled gently, giving a slight shake of his head.
“There is truly no need, my lady, I am glad to have been of help.”
When he spoke in his low calm voice, it seemed to Mírra to be just as how he walked, never putting a step wrong. Each word fell carefully and evenly, in a pleasant efficiency of speech which gave the impression of revealing only as much as he needed to, and had yet hidden nothing.
Mírra wanted to say something more, something to acknowledge what he and his family had done. But any statement of thanks that she could give somehow seemed inadequate.
“Yesterday, when I think more of what happened, I realise how nearly you might have missed seeing me, if I had not wandered so far from the river’s edge.” He saw her fingers drift again to the bandage on her arm, fidgeting with the edge of the cloth wrapping. “The truth is, if you and Adair had not found me… I worry to think what could have happened to me, what could have been.”
“But we did find you,” he told her simply, “No matter what could have been.”
Mírra gave a small smile, and felt her cheeks grow warm, despite herself.
“I thank you all the same, my lord.”
Doran gave another nod, in acceptance.
A young voice interrupted them, causing Mírra to take in a breath as she drew herself into alertness, aware of how comfortable she had been, alone in Doran’s company.
“Papa!” Nolan came running up excitedly, taking his father’s hand. “My aunt says we may have dinner outside tonight, since there are too many people to fit in the house!”
“She says that, does she?” Doran answered somewhat wryly.
“Yes, and we may sit ‘round the fire, as well.”
“Nolan,” he began again, slightly dubious, “you do realise who our guests are?”
“You mean my father, and my brother?” Mírra answered for him, a bemused expression on her face, “and me?”
There was a twinkle in her eye that immediately set Doran’s qualms at rest.
“Yes, I suppose.”
“Come along, papa, auntie says we must get things ready, before it grows too dark to see.”
“So we must, then.” He turned to Mírra, as Nolan attempted to direct him inside. “It appears we have plenty to make ready for.”
“So it does.”
She smiled brightly back at him, giving him a feeling of lightness that Doran had not expected.
Although dinner had finished an hour ago, Doreth remained in the kitchen, finding another surface to clean, another bit of floor to sweep, anything to keep her busy. Her husband soon found her, wondering what still kept her from the merriment outside.
She turned away from the table she had been washing, her eyes uncertain.
“I cannot go out there,” her voice was nearly a whisper.
“Why ever not?” At first Adair thought she was jesting with him, but the pale look on her face rapidly told him she was quite serious.
“It is the King himself… I cannot share company with him, I will surely look foolish and simple.”
“You have shared the princess’s company for two days now.”
“It is not the same thing, and you know it. The things his majesty has done, Adair… You know how our parents spoke of what it was like to live near Erech, how changed that place was after his coming.”
“It will be alright, Doreth, I promise,” he could not help but smile as he crossed to take her hand, in an attempt at comfort. “Your presence is missed, darling, please come out with me. I will play, if you like,” he added after a pause.
“Yes?” Doreth’s expression brightened as she considered this. Her free hand flitted to the kerchief over her hair, to her apron.
“I still do not look suitable…”
She released her husband’s hand and, with some lingering uncertainty, removed the kerchief from her head, and then the apron, laying it carefully over the back of a chair.
“Is this better?” She asked, trying to brush unseen dust from her skirts.
“You always look beautiful, Doreth.”
Adair helpfully smoothed back a lock of his wife’s light hair, waiting for her to finally look at him, and gave her his hand again. She clasped it tightly between both of hers.
She gave an optimistic smile as she drew in a breath.
“Alright, let us go out, before I lose my nerve.”
Just as the afternoon had been warm and bright in the aftermath of the previous day’s storm, so the evening was also fair. The sky was again clear, the stars brightening with the rise of the moon.
Shawls and light cloaks were enough to keep warm, as the mixed company arranged themselves around the fireside. A few benches had been brought outside for seating, which did not seem to displease the King. In fact he even seemed content, hearing the voices of men and women raised in merriment.
Seated next to her father, Mírra noticed his dress was not as formal as it usually was, even for travel. He must have departed Edoras in a hurry, of course, neglecting outward appearances. Though she could not explain why, he seemed more comfortable in plainer clothes.
Both King and princess saw their hostess exit the house, her expression bright enough, but still she clutched her husband’s arm as if holding on for dear life. As Ailsa ran up to them, though, Doreth took the little girl happily in her arms, as they joined the party.
“Doreth seems quite nervous. Does my presence affect her, do you think?” Aragorn asked his daughter evenly, with a nod to their hostess.
“Well, it is not every day that one hosts someone of your stature, ada,” she said wryly.
“It is very generous of them to do so. I see you have been in good hands.”
Mírra smiled. “They have indeed been most kind. Even without knowing who I was, they helped me without question.”
Her father gave a nudge, as she went quiet for a moment.
“Go and speak with her, if you like. Do not worry to leave me.”
Mírra laid a hand on his arm. “Alright, but only for a second.”
Aragorn saw her cross to where the couple was standing with their daughter. Nearby Eldarion was deep in conversation with Doran.
Straying between clusters of grown-ups around him, the boy Connor noticed the King sitting comfortably near the fire. Curiously he neared, but becoming unsure he soon paused, observing him with quiet interest. For a moment the King was looking upward towards the stars, but smiled when he saw the boy approaching.
“Hello, young master,” he said with a nod to the boy.
“Hullo,” said Connor, somewhat timidly. The King did not seem all that imposing. His light grey eyes were calm and bright.
At Aragorn’s invitation he came to sit on the bench.
“I was watching the stars just now.”
“I like the stars too,” ventured Connor.
“Do you know any of the patterns in the sky?”
“I know that one,” said the dark-haired boy, creasing his brow in concentration and pointing high up over his head at a group of seven stars.
“It is called the Valacirca, which means the Sickle of the Valar”
“I can always spot it,” Connor said happily.
“Then Varda has done her work well,” replied the King.
“She is one of the Valar.”
“That’s right,” Aragorn nodded. “She gathered the ancient stars and set them in the sky, as we see them now.”
“Very long ago?”
“Even before the time of the Children of Ilúvatar.”
“Oh…” the boy answered quietly. “But how do we know it was her that put the stars there, if it happened so long ago?”
Aragorn smiled gently as he sat up a little straighter. It was a good question.
“Because we have tales passed down, from many years ago. The past is always remembered, while there are people who tell it.”
This appeared to please Connor.
“Then I will remember it was Varda who put the stars in the sky,” he told the King.
“Ah, that is well then. So the tales will continue,” Aragorn concluded, spreading his palms upward.
The boy tilted his head back as he looked up once again at the sky, his mouth hanging slightly open. The gesture made Aragorn smile, and turn his own glance upward, taking in the sight above, that he had not examined in quite a while.
“Oh, look!” said Connor as he noticed Adair approaching, a fiddle in his hands. “My papa is going to play for us.”
“He plays well?”
Connor nodded his curly-haired head vigorously. “I love papa’s music.” He turned to the King, as if considering something. “Do you like to hear it too?”
A low chuckle rose from Aragorn’s throat, a grin spreading over his face at the boy’s question. Apparently not everyone was quite so nervous.
“Very much. I think it will be a very merry evening, yes?”
The boy nodded enthusiastically.
Returning to join his father, Eldarion showed a bemused expression as he regarded the two companions, the boy clapping his hands together cheerfully to join the celebration.
“A new friend?” he asked.
Aragorn replied with a wink. “Something like that.”
The next morning seemed to come too quickly, for Mírra in particular. By all accounts she should have been pleased to be departing, completing the remainder of the journey that had been so disrupted. Until two days ago she had only been thinking of seeing Edoras.
But the welcoming comfort of her present environment had put those thoughts out of her mind, and now it seemed a disappointment to leave such a friendly place.
Early in the morning, as preparations were being completed for departure, she made her way to the stables, to see about her ride. It relieved her to find the black mare she had departed with was no longer with their party. Instead a grey mare had been made ready.
As she made her way to find her horse, she saw Doran himself finishing the preparation, tightening the saddle, adjusting the reins.
“Is all well?”
He turned to see the princess standing by him, a little surprised not to have heard her approached.
She was clothed once again in sable, her dress and cloak now clean and dry. The marks of her journey, the few scratches on her face and the bandage on her arm, were still evident, incongruous against the formality of her dress. She seemed unaffected by the imperfection.
“Very well, my lady, for a safe journey.” The royal party’s horses were indeed fine animals, too fine for his stable, he felt.
“I hope it will be more uneventful than the last,” Mírra replied with a half-smile.
She stepped closer, gently raising a hand to let the mare take in her scent. The animal fluttered its nostrils, allowing Mírra to place her hand on the bridle, and stroke its nose.
“I always wanted to ride as fast as I could,” she said softly. For a moment Doran was unsure whether he should respond, but she continued, voicing uncertain thoughts aloud. “But my choice of horse did not help me very much, on this last journey.”
Doran placed his hand near the horse’s mane, patting its neck.
“I think you need not worry this time, my lady,” he said in his low, even voice. “You can trust her, I think.”
“That is reassuring.” She turned her eyes to Doran again, a trace of uncertainty having left them. “I trust you, as well, my lord.”
Soon enough, all were again gathered near the house, as farewells were made
“I shall not forget your generosity, your kindness,” said Mírra as she hugged Doreth farewell. “We shall see each other again, I hope.”
“I hope so as well,” replied the fair-haired woman, with an effusive smile. “Take care of yourself.”
Not sure of what other gesture to make, Mírra extended a hand to Adair, who gave it a quick kiss.
“We wish you a safe journey, my lady.”
She shook Connor’s small hand, and Nolan’s, and gave a hug to Ailsa, who swiftly rejoined her mother with a shy smile.
Coming to Doran, she again held out a hand. Regarding it for the briefest of moments, he took it. Mírra felt the pad of his thumb rest gently above her knuckle, a touch so unexpectedly light.
“I hope you keep well, my lady.”
Doran pressed his lips simply to her hand, and as he withdrew was once again confronted by her clear gaze that rested softly on him, unwavering, and again he had to remind himself who she was.
“And you, my lord,” she replied softly.
Lingering only for a second, only the barest fraction of time, Mírra released his hand, and turned to find her horse, her cheeks unexpectedly warm.
The King and his son, having made sure all was ready, came to give their own gestures of thanks and farewell.
Aragorn shook hands with Doran and Adair, but came last to Doreth, who he knew had done so much.
“You gave my daughter a safe haven, and for that I am truly grateful. You welcomed her into your home, and so you will be always welcome in mine.” He turned and looked to Adair and Doran, as he finished. “The gates of Minas Tirith shall always be open to you.”
After curtsying, Doreth felt as shy as her daughter, and huddled close to Adair. He put an arm around her, with a knowing smile.
At last the riders were gathered, and all preparations were complete, all farewells made.
As Mírra was seated comfortably on her horse, she gave a wave to her hosts.
“Thank you,” she called out at the last.
The children as well as their parents waved in return, watching the riders turn about.
As he watched the party move off into the distance, Doran’s gaze was fixed on one rider in particular, the young woman and her grey horse. Even still, he did not realise his distraction until his sister’s voice brought him out of it.
“Oh, how simple our life will seem now, without such company,” she said dreamily. “I wonder if we shall ever see such folk again.”
“Indeed,” Doran replied softly, as he joined in turning to go back to the house, Nolan at his side.
The group of riders had just made their way beside the pasture, heading north.
As she rode, Mírra looked back, thinking to catch a last glimpse, but Doran had already turned, and did not see.
As Aragorn describes: “And high in the north as a challenge to Melkor [Varda] set the crown of seven mighty stars to swing, Valacirca, the Sickle of the Valar and sign of doom.” (The Silmarillion, p 45)
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.