4. Stars Among Us
I've ever been fond of gazin' at the stars. To be sure, we needed those tiny beacons of light to give us hope when the Shadow covered our land, but even with those dark days behind us, there's always more than enough trouble brewin'. A man searches for hope wherever it lives, and starin' at the bottom of any empty wine goblet isn't where he'll find it.
The wife likes to tell me that now and again, a star will fall from the skies and assume the form of a livin', breathin' person. I tell her, "Stop with that nonsense, Anira! Stars are stars, and though they shed light in the darkness and provide lost beings a sense of bearing, they'll never walk among us cloaked as Men, or Elves, or any other folk." But she's persistent, Anira is. Swears that some folks are really stars among us.
I'd been watchin' a certain ill-behaved man for the few days he'd been under my roof. Not the same old fool who'd groped Silima, mind you. No, this one was one of the King's men. Boy, actually. From what I'd gathered, his father was among the poor souls who lost their lives at the Pelennor Fields. I read the bitterness on the boy's freckled face and heard the impudence in his voice on more than one occasion. Lookin' for trouble, that one. I couldn't tell you what he and the King were talkin' about that night, but I know this much: whatever it was, it wasn't to the King's likin'. The lad kept his eyes locked on the floor, but I saw his jaw clench and his fists bunch in anger. It wasn't the first time the King had given him a stern talkin' to, and I was surprised that Elessar hadn't lost all patience with him. In fact, I was just thinkin' to myself, The King's apt to give him his due now, when the King did somethin' I never saw comin': he patted the boy's back and told him to get some rest. Sounded more like the boy's father than his liege!
After the boy had gone, the King turned to find me standin' there like a fool, open-mouthed with a broom in my hands. He gave me that subtle smile and nod that he's so fond of before explaining, "He is just a young man in need of a little guidance. I was much like him once."
Wasn't the first time I found myself not knowin' what to say to the King. I was caught between tryin' to picture Elessar as a lad needin' fatherly guidance and the shock of realizin' the King had just explained his actions to a simple man like me. So there I stood like a dumb fool, until I mumbled the only words I could find: "Yes, Sire. We can all use a little help findin' our bearings from time to time."
The King nodded once again before makin' his way upstairs. As I watched him go, it occurred to me: maybe Anira's been right about stars all along.
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.