The Return of the Shadow: 3. Birth – Middle-earth, Esgaroth, the fourth age, the year 325

Reader Toolbox   Log in for more tools

3. Birth – Middle-earth, Esgaroth, the fourth age, the year 325

"Are you sure that everything is alright?" The tall, black haired elf tightened his hold on the hands of the young woman thrashing around on the bed. The mid-wife, a fair haired, dimpled woman of a rather stout figure smiled at the father-to-be. She had never encountered a man who was so nervous and caring. Most men of Esgaroth left the child-bearing to the women-folk, content with drinking to the child's and the mother's health – preferably all through the night. She did not know how the dwarves handled the bearing of children, but dwarves rarely spoke about such private matters in the public any way.

The contraction passed, and the young woman breathed more easily again. Jarro's hair was plastered wetly to her forehead. The pains had started early in the morning. Now it was already late in the evening. She clung tightly to Elrohir's hands, but she valiantly tried to smile at him. "No, I think, I'm okay, really. Lori?" The mid-wife smiled again, reassuringly, and sponged Jarro's face. "You are doing just fine, lovey. But it's your first, and first children tend to take their time."

She turned to the nervous elf. She had been told that he would age and die just as his young mortal wife, but to her he would forever be an elf, one of the first-born of the legends, and to be treated with special reverence. "Don't worry, Master Elrohir. Your wife is young and strong. In two days the pain will be forgotten." Elrohir looked worried, not quite believing her comforting words.

At that moment another violent contraction shook Jarro's body. She screamed, clutching wildly at Elrohir. A kingdom for a PDA, she thought gasping, trying to remember how to breathe through the pain.

"I am so sorry that I cannot help you, meleth nîn," Elrohir whispered, thoroughly shaken by seeing his beloved in so much pain. "But I know nothing about healing or birthing. I used to be a warrior, not a healer."

"Well," Jarro gasped. "I don't know anything about it, either." And I used to be a consultant, not a healer, so I don't know… She moaned, her back arching involuntarily.

Lori could not help but grin. She liked Jarro, and she was more than a little in awe of the handsome elf who had become a teacher at the school of Esgaroth. "But I know about both healing and child-birth. And I promise, the only thing you have to worry about now is to decide on a name. Your son will need one shortly."

"Son?" Jarro and Elrohir asked at the same time, eyes wide and astonished.

Lori shrugged. "I have a feeling… he's too lively for a girl. I don't think you will have to endure this for much longer."

With an expert look she assessed the oncoming of the next contraction and swiftly placed her hands on Jarro's belly, feeling for the position of the baby. It had turned, and was moving.

"No," she smiled. "It won't be long now. You won't have to wait till morning."

Lori was sure of this. She had buried sufficient patients dead in child bed to know. And while the contractions were fierce, Jarro was tough and strong. She would manage just fine.

The hours passed. It was close to midnight and it was a beautiful summer's night. The sky above Esgaroth was shining brighter than ever with myriads of blazing stars. The milky way stretched as a pale golden way all through the skies of night. Showers of shooting stars flashed like fireworks in the darkness of the western sky.

In a large white house in the city of Esgaroth a woman screamed with the pain of giving birth. Suddenly the scream turned into low grunting, and then another scream echoed through the night, this one the bright, annoyed wailing of a new born child.

Lori had been right, as she always was with these things. There was a reason that she was considered the best healer and midwife in Esgaroth. Smiling, she held up the squealing, red faced baby boy and swiftly cleaned his mouth, nose and eyes. Then she laid him on his mother's chest.

Pressing down on Jarro's belly, the afterbirth slipped out easily, barely forcing a moan from the exhausted new mother. Expertly the midwife tied off and then cut the umbilical cord.

"There," she said softly to the baby. "Now you are born. On your own, for better or worse."

Elrohir and Jarro looked down at their first child, completely enraptured. "He's so small," Jarro whispered, tenderly stroking the child's dark fuzzy head.

"He has pointed ears!" Elrohir said, his voice full of wonder.

Jarro almost laughed at this, but the laugh turned into a low moan due to her strained abdominal muscles. Lori assisted her with deftly placed hands, soothing away the pain.

Jarro gasped softly, but she smiled at her husband in spite of it. "You're his father," she said. "What kind of ears did you think he'd have?"

Elrohir grinned at her answer, but there were tears in his eyes.

"You know," Lori said. "You can touch your son. He won't break." Strange, how an elf-lord of how old had Jarro said he was? Of more than three thousand years, was just as nervous and frightened as any young father she had ever seen.

"I may?" Elrohir reached out to his son, his hand trembling slightly. He had never imagined to experience this kind of grace in his life. Softly, ever so softly he touched the tiny ears of his son. They were so tiny, crumpled, pink, almost translucent… and indeed very pointed. Then the baby opened his eyes. And the eyes drew a sigh of awe even from such an experienced midwife as Lori. The eyes of the baby were large and unusually bright. And they were not the watery blue colour of human babies' eyes, but of a clear, silvery grey colour.

"Well, I think he has your nose and your chin, Jarro." Lori commented. "At least it will be obvious to the blindest beggar just who his father is."

Jarro snorted at this. Elrohir obviously did not understand this reference to the problem of men being now and again uncertain of their children's parentage.

"Are you going to tell me his name?" Lori asked, after she had cleaned up Jarro and made her comfortable in her bed again. Now, that his first infuriated screams had dissipated, the infant was quiet. He was looking thoughtfully, but completely awake at his surroundings.

Jarro looked up at Elrohir. She knew that it was the father who gave the first name to an elvish child. The mother's name was only given later, when the child's personality had manifested.

The elf looked thoughtful and sombre. He had indeed given the matter careful thought.

Although his children would not be elvish children, he wanted to honour his family with their names. He also wanted to bestow the Valar's blessing with the name he chose.

It was a difficult decision. Of course, these were peaceful times, so he needn't really worry. But now and then during Jarro's pregnancy he had experienced a strange sense of foreboding, of far away shadows…

He wanted to give his son a strong name. A name that would guide his son, and protect him.

A name that would keep up the family's tradition of referring to the stars in the father's name. "Elen" means star in Sindarin. His father and his uncle, the descendants of his uncle, and even his brother and he himself, had always had names with at least the sound of the name referring to the elvish word for star. He wanted to keep it that way. He looked down at his wife and his son. A tender, protective smile of all-encompassing love flowed across his face.

"His name is Elentar, king of the stars. His birth makes me feel as if I was king of the stars!" Elrohir smiled happily. "And the blessings of the stars shall be with him wherever he goes."

"Elentar," Jarro repeated, trying out the name. "Elentar. Do you like your name, sweety?"

Little Elentar made a small snuffling noise. But he did not protest in any way.

"Perhaps you should try if he is hungry," Lori suggested.

Elentar was hungry.

But after a few minutes of drinking at his mother's breast, he fell asleep. Lori took him from his mother, clothed him in diapers and a small white frock, then put him in a beautifully carved cradle next to Jarro's bed. "He's tired, the little dearie," she said softly, smiling at Jarro. The young woman was tired, too. It had been a long day of much pain and effort to give birth to little Elentar. When Elrohir made no move to leave his wife alone, Lori shook her head. Not really disapprovingly, but she was a little amazed. This couple was really very different from the people of Esgaroth. But she rather liked that about them. Now she raised her eyebrows and tried to fix a stern expression on her face. "You know, Master Elrohir, most men in Esgaroth don't return to the rooms of their wives until six months after the birth!"

Elrohir started at that. His expression of happiness turned into one of dismay.

"You stay," Jarro whispered, taking his slender hand into hers. "She's only teasing. Aren't you, Lori?"

Lori grinned at the young couple unrepentantly. It was not often that nobility was so relaxed with child-birth and such. She felt at ease in their company, even though she was more than a little in awe of the elf. She also enjoyed watching a couple so obviously devoted to each other. Her own husband had died two years ago, and she still could not believe that he was gone. somehow it helped her to see that there was still such a love to be had in this world.

"Well, maybe I am. But what I said is true, Master Elrohir, Jarro. Staying in one room for the night should be limited to sleeping only for at least six months. Even if you are young and strong, Jarro, your womb is strained and bleeding for a time, and getting pregnant again right away would be dangerous."

Elrohir stared at Jarro and Lori, looking disturbed. "Is that possible? I thought…" He trailed off, once again confronted with a difference between the elvish and the human race.

Jarro frowned. For a woman her age, Lori mused, she knew very little about child-birth and such. "Yes, it is possible for a human woman to conceive again shortly after birth. It does not happen often and it is dangerous, but it does happen. So, please, behave yourselves."

But she smiled. For one thing, Jarro and Elrohir would be too tired to think of anything like sex for some time to come. For another, Elrohir loved his wife deeply. Lori could see that in the elf's eyes. The depth of feeling apparent in his light grey eyes always reminded her of her late husband…

The midwife kissed Jarro good-night, just as her mother would have done, had she been able to be here to welcome her grandchild. Then Lori checked quickly if the baby was alright.

Elentar was sleeping contentedly, sucking on his right thumb.

He looked like an angel. He was smaller than most human babies, which had eased the birth, but he was more beautiful, his movements had been unusually controlled and his eyes had been much clearer than she was used to from babies with pure human ancestry.

While Jarro had already fallen asleep, Elrohir had watched Lori intently as she examined the baby. The midwife looked up and smiled, having recognized the reasons behind this scrutiny. "He's fine, Master Elrohir," she whispered. "Your son is just fine!"

She smiled as she watched the tension draining slowly out of the tall and slender frame of the elf. The man slumped down on his side of the bed, but he did it so gracefully that he would not disturb his wife's sleep. He looked even more exhausted than his wife.

"Don't worry," she repeated in a low voice. "He's fine. She's fine. Everything is just fine!"

The elf nodded slowly, gratefully.

"Good night." Lori said in her most soothing voice. "Sleep well. Daddy."

His eyes flew open at that title, but then he smiled back at the midwife, the most glorious, in fact the happiest smile she had seen in quite some time.

"Thank you," he answered softly. "Sleep well yourself."

Lori nodded and left the room.

She closed the door softly behind her. For a moment she waited in front of the door, but when there was no call or any other sound, she walked down the corridor and out on the terrace of the house. It was a beautiful house, situated just at the waterfront, with sheltered garden, a small stable and enough rooms for ten children, should Jarro and Elrohir be so inclined.

It was really a beautiful summer's night, Lori thought. She deeply inhaled the soft, fragrant air. The air was slightly humid from the closeness of the water of the lake, but it held the taste of the many sweet flowers of summer blooming in the gardens of Esgaroth.

Slowly she relaxed. Even an easy birth as this one had been, was hard work for the midwife. And it was always harder, if she really liked the parents. Too often childbirth was not a happy occasion. Too often either the mother or the child did not survive.

But not this time. Nor indeed with the other children those two might be having in the future, she mused. Jarro and Elrohir were blessed in their love. Childbirth would never bring unhappiness to their home.

Then she tilted back her head and looked up into the dark sky. So many stars…

The elves believed that the stars were the lights of Varda, the Queen of Stars. The people of Esgaroth had their own myth of the stars, closely connected with the secret believes of the dwarves. As a child, Lori had been taught that the stars depicted other worlds, worlds on the other side of the void, placed there by Eru Himself and His Flame Imperishable.

Tonight the stars were magnificent. The milky way stretched clear and golden from horizon to horizon. Now and again a shooting star flashed through the darkness above her.

Omens, Lori thought. To be born on a night like this, the little boy, Elentar, had to be destined for great things. But he would not have it easy in his life, she mused. Especially if his personality was anything like those shooting stars which had portended his birth.

She smiled. She was looking forward to see the little half-elven grow up.

If she lived that long, she amended. Jarro and Elrohir had told her that they thought their children would be wholly human.

But now, having seen little Elentar, Lori was not so sure if the young parents were right about what their children could or could not be.

Whatever Elentar would grow to be, elf or man, Lori thought that she would win any bet on one account: his parents would not have it easy with him.

Elentar would be a right handful.

And Lori was never mistaken, when it came to her babies.

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.

Story Information

Author: JunoMagic

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: Multi-Age

Genre: General

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 08/08/07

Original Post: 03/05/06

Go to The Return of the Shadow overview


There are no comments for this chapter. Be the first to comment!

Read all comments on this story

Comments are hidden to prevent spoilers.
Click header to view comments

Talk to JunoMagic

If you are a HASA member, you must login to submit a comment.

We're sorry. Only HASA members may post comments. If you would like to speak with the author, please use the "Email Author" button in the Reader Toolbox. If you would like to join HASA, click here. Membership is free.

Reader Toolbox   Log in for more tools