65. Chapter 65
Elladan considered the boy travelling with him. How old was he? Twelve? Mortal years passed so swiftly and it seemed to Elladan that only yesterday had he handed the tiny, vulnerable, squalling child to his exhausted and exhilarated mother while his somewhat terrified father hovered nearby. They had almost reached Hanavia's home now, a day after they had left his father to continue on to Bree. Hanavia had started out bashful, the excitement quivering within him robbing him of his words. Elladan had met his fair share of shy lads down the long years and a few well-placed questions from the Elf had soon gotten Hanavia talking. It was remarkable what these mortal children could flourish into. One such quiet lad was now the High King, and married to Elladan's sister…
Elladan had hoped to develop a sense of his new squire was and what he hoped to achieve. Would the lad be up to the task ahead of him? It was Prince's education he was to receive and while every Prince needed one, not every Prince was equal to the task of acquiring one. Some, such as his mother, set about acquiring their own. Elladan found that Hanavia was a thoughtful, intelligent and kind lad who possessed a mortal's unparalleled lust for knowledge. That all consuming belief that there was some great discovery awaiting them, just over the horizon, gripped Hanavia as it had so many before him. His was a restless mind, searching for new fuel to keep the fires burning. Historian, scholar and warrior. Hanavia would be all of these things if he could and a formidable Prince of Cardolan he would make.
Serious as Hanavia was, he was quick to laughter and he doing exactly that as they crossed a small stone bridge and entered the inner grounds of Hanavia's home. It was a truly lovely place. The land had flourished, of course. That was to be expected with the presence of its true ruler. The house prowled against a ridge that fell away to the ocean below, a strong and sturdy thing of stone that was mannish, but Elladan could see other influences there. Eldar influences subtly permeated the Dunedain aesthetic given their shared histories and ancestries. It imbued the structure with its own beauty.
Elladan was aware that the restoration of the ancient seat of Cardolan's royal line had been a gift from Arthedain. Aragorn had been keenly aware of the currents that eddied through their respective histories. Aside from the generosity of the gesture, the land was rightfully that of his cousin. It was as much an acknowledgement of that as it was a statement of good will and fidelity between allies. But the practicalities of the gesture had been complex. This place had lain in disrepair, abandoned for centuries as a result of war and disease, and Aragorn had simply not had the time to effect a restoration beyond the main house.
Elladan could see, however, that the restoration begun by the High King had continued over the intervening years. A large stables, several barracks and various out buildings and workshops spread around the inner area. All seemed to have risen from the ashes of older buildings. People moved in and about the buildings, busy with their day. Rangers were clearly discernable and Elladan surmised the others were Black Company personnel stationed here. He had heard a southern station had been established in the Lady's southern holdings. Aragorn had been most pleased by that turn of fortune as now he no longer had to look all over Middle Earth when he had need of them.
Over by the escarpment was a hefty frame. It was a device men used to lift and lower things and it was presently lowering a heavy load of lumber. Men gathered around its legs and leant out to watch the timber's descent, calling to one another from above and below.
"Good," Hanavia noted from his saddle and nodded towards the device.
When he offered nothing further, Elladan asked, "What is good?"
"Fresh timber has arrived. Amme has been waiting on that. I'll show you, if you like," Hanavia answered, slid off his horse and left it grazing contentedly near the stables.
Elladan shook his head as the boy scarpered away towards the ridge but a young man strolled out of the stable and nodded calmly at Elladan as if this was all to be expected. Elladan looked to where Hanavia was and then back to young man.
"I can see -"
"No need, Master Elf," the chap said calmly as he patted the neck of Hanavia's horse.
Elladan shook his head again, dismounted and followed Hanavia. He found a set of narrow steps notched into the rocky face of the escarpment that wound their way down to a small, sandy inlet far below. Hanavia skipped down them as if he had been climbing them all his life, which Elladan supposed he had, and he was more than halfway down. Elladan moved with greater care than Hanavia. Surefooted elven grace was one thing. Catching a pebble on the stone and tumbling headfirst the rest of the way was quite another. Still, he caught up to the lad again at the foot of the stairs. Hanavia had paused, hand on a large boulder that sat to one side on the sand. Elladan studied the beach from behind him.
It was a hive of activity. At one end men swarmed over a new structure emerging from the sand and then the water. It was a jetty, Elladan saw, and it seemed that the Black Company engineers and men were hard at work on it. In their midst were two young lads, scampering about amidst the men. This hive of industry was not what Hanavia was watching. Over to the other side, well clear of the men working, was Hanavia's mother. The Lady of Cardolan had her skirts tucked up so that they did not get too heavy with water and she had a young girl in her arms. Rin was swinging her about in the shallows and the dark haired girl was laughing gleefully. Elladan could see the Lady of Cardolan was with child once more. Further up the beach was an older girl. She was stretched out on the warm sand, contentedly watcher her mother and sister and the men working on the jetty. This, Elladan concluded, had to be Elian.
"Why do you hesitate?" Elladan asked Hanavia softly.
"Amme is happy. She how she smiles? And laughs?" Hanavia's hand dropped from the boulder to his side, "I do not think she will smile when she knows why you have come."
With that, he stepped out onto the sand.
Elian loved the beach. She loved the feel of the warm sand between her toes and the salty tang on the breeze. She loved the sound of the waves and the wind bouncing off the rocks. She loved the way the light seemed to dance and skip over the water and make the sand glow and sparkle, sun or moon. Mostly she loved how the twins left her alone on the beach, drawn as they were to the construction of the jetty.
She could hear them giggling, probably stealing bolts or nails or whatever the men called them. Horrors. She could also hear her sister. Adanel was laughing and when she did she sounded like Amme. Adda said it was like silver and Elian agreed. Amme was singing a rhyme to Adanel that Elian knew well. She began humming along to herself, eyes closed, occasionally whispering the words as she wondered what Adda would fetch back from Bree for her. Adda always brought something for each of them and Elian could not understand why Amme did not ask for nice things. The last time, Adda had brought back a parcel that stank. Hanavia had said it was bark – a special kind that made hair grow when it was rubbed. Elian wasn't sure if Hanavia had been telling the truth. It was so hard to know. He always had such good answers for questions. So far, no hair had appeared on her hands.
The thought made Elian hold her hands up for inspection. She cracked her eyes open to study them and started when she saw her brother's face hovering above.
"What are you doing here?" she demanded, startled.
Before he could give a silver tongued answer, she scowled at him and remembered she was upset with him, "If you didn't want to go to Bree with Adda, why did you not stay so that I could?"
"Adda sent me back with a visitor," Hanavia told her and Elian narrowed her eyes at him, hairy palms quite forgotten now.
Hanavia nodded towards where the jetty was being built and Elian propped herself up on her elbows to see if her brother was telling the truth.
When her eyes widened, he triumphantly said, "See?"
"Who is that?" Elian asked as she watched the Elf by the jetty. He seemed to be inspecting one of the large poles that rose from the shallows.
"That is Lord Elladan," Hanavia said, sounding as if this was supposed to be impressive.
Elian frowned, "Who?"
"Do you ever listen in history?" her brother asked and it was a silly question. History was dull and Hanavia was well aware of her thoughts on the subject.
"Lord Elladan is the son of Lord Elrond," he went on, still making no sense at all.
Elian looked at her brother blankly and Hanavia lifted his eyes to the sky and sank down to the sand beside her, "He's High Queen Arwen's brother."
"Why didn't you say so in the first place?" Elian demanded, eyes flaring in excitement, "Does this mean we will go to Annuminas soon?"
That would mean Amme would let her wear some of her jewels. Perhaps, even, the pearl diadem. It would mean they could stay where there were people – proper people – and interesting things going on. Best of all, it would mean no history lessons. Elian was well aware that Hanavia was shaking his head at her, as if he were some wise old man. He was only two years older than her. Not even that! Sometimes he could be such a boy.
Elladan decided inspect the jetty closer. One of the Company engineers spotted him inspecting a pier footing and had hurried down to explain how they had sunk and anchored each of them. The jetty would not be very long nor wide. Just enough to reach a ship anchored off shore, easier by far than rowing crew, passengers and whatever cargo back and forth. Ships, Elladan was told, could weigh anchor relative close to shore on account of how the sea bed dropped away sharply. This meant the jetty did not need to be very long. It also meant that it became increasingly difficult to sink the supporting piers. Naturally there was a solution for this that sounded complex, risky, ingenious and utterly mannish. The engineer, a middle aged man called Donius, was practically hopping from foot to foot with excitement the system that let men breathe under water.
Donius said, "I can see you have your doubts, Master Elladan."
His pale grey eyes moved past Elladan to focus on something behind him. He pushed broad, blunt fingers back through his thinning brown hair.
"And here comes another who shares your concern," he continued, "Don't you Doc?"
Elladan turned to see the Lady of Cardolan only a few paces away. Her skirts were down now and gathered sand as she walked. The breeze had brought a faint glow to her cheeks and Elladan was struck anew by her resemblance to her mother, Lady Verawyn. Verawyn's daughter, however, was her own woman and the years had brought her something her mother had found little of in her brief life. This was a woman descended from kings in the very apex of her life. Rosmarin nodded at Donius, who now wore a grin that the man was likely unaware of and, Elladan surmised, one Rin likely saw on many a face. She had that effect.
"Drowned any of my men today, Donius?" she inquired as she closed, a faint curving of her lips taking the edge out of what was an otherwise pointed objection.
"No, and I won't tomorrow or the day after that, Doc. You'll see."
"I hope you are right," she murmured and her attention moved to Elladan.
He watched her hold her skirts out but caught her before she could curtsy.
"Your grace," he said formally, "A pleasure to see you once again."
While it was clear that the lady had a fondness for the engineer, Elladan had no idea what she thought of him. Her expression was inscrutable, carefully composed over the fine symmetry of her features as to betray nothing. How the years had changed her from that trusting, open child he had first encountered. She held his eyes briefly before she looked down the length of the jetty.
Donius stood a little taller and his chest expanded, "Making good progress now that timber's arrived, Doc."
"Will you need more, do you think?"
"I hope not. This last load was pricey, I heard."
"You heard correctly," Rosmarin replied in a tone that suggested that future acquisitions would involve renegotiation of trade terms. Elladan had heard many a merchant say that the Lady of Cardolan was astute when it came to business arrangements.
"But," Donius hedged, "If the same thing happened to this lot as last, couldn't we just harvest it? I mean, there's the right trees up there and it's your land. I've even been able to mark a few. Horses, some men, and ten or so days and-"
"Donius, if you have been marking trees where I think you have been, you are fortunate to be standing here now. The only reason they let you go is because you were one man, and you did not fell any. If, however, a team of men arrived," Rin shook her head firmly.
"But it's your land…and they're…well aren't they your people?"
"Yes Donius, and I gave my people my word. I'll pay for timber for this jetty."
"But they don't live in the trees, Doc. Not really. And I bet they cut them down themselves."
"Donius," Rin warned and then canted her head to one side, "In any case, you told me that last batch accidentally sank. Surely such an uncanny mishap is unlikely to occur again."
Donius found sudden cause to study the sand they stood on. He shrugged, "Fine, Doc, we'll do it your way."
Rin let it go with, "It will be a fine jetty, Donius."
That made the engineer smile again, for engineers always loved it best when their work was appreciated and praised. Smiths, in Elladan's opinion, were little different
"Listen, Doc, about those boys of yours," Donius said, switching tack.
"Mine, eh? They're only mine when their misbehaving," she muttered and then called up, "Are you behaving yourself boys?"
"Yes Amme," came two high, clear replies. On the heels of the boys' immediate and dubious answer came a chorus of deeper masculine affirmations that they too were behaving themselves. It produced a wry smile from Rin.
She considered Donius anew, "I found several hammers under their beds this morning. Once they are cleaned off, they will be returned to you."
Donius frowned but Rin shook her head, "Trust me, you do not want to know. Is there anything else missing? Axes, saws…anything sharp?"
"Oh no, we keep a close eye on the dangerous things. Anyway, I should get back up there before they all slack off. Otherwise this jetty will never be finished."
Donius nodded pleasantly at Elladan and started back up the steeply sloped beach. Rin watched him depart and murmured something to herself in Dunlendic before she turned her attention squarely to Elladan. Again he was struck by how difficult it was to read her thoughts.
"And so here you are, Master Elladan, with my son but not my husband," she said and shifted so that she could study Hanavia where he sat by his sister, watching anxiously.
"Hanasian expects to return in two days."
He watched her nod at that and consider her son a moment longer, "I know why you are here. I see it in his face,"
"He does not wish to cause you distress," Elladan quietly answered.
Rin's eyes flared and her head snapped about to him as if she had been struck. In that instant he saw complex emotions weave across her face. No sooner had he glimpsed that were they gone. Her composure settled back over her delicate features with startling speed.
Hanavia stood beside his sister down the other end of the beach, his hands clenching and unclenching as he watched his mother speak to Master Elladan. They were talking about him. He knew it. He watched Elladan offer an arm to his mother, which she accepted. Together, they walked through the heavy sand to the stairs. Then Elladan followed her up the narrow winding stairs.
Down on the beach, Elian asked her brother, "What do you think she will say? Do you think she will let you go?"
Hanavia shook his head uncertainly and a heartbeat later Elian said, "I hope you do go away to Imladris."
"Why?" Hanavia asked, distracted as he watched Master Elladan depart with his mother, "Amme and Adda will not send the tutor away just because I have gone. There will still be lessons."
"Yes, but I will get your room," Elian replied.
The rest of the day and all that evening was torment for Hanavia. He knew Elladan and his mother had spoken. He just knew it. But neither Elf nor his mother would speak of it. At least Master Elladan said that they had spoken. His mother had not even mentioned that and every time he asked her, she found something for him to do. When was Adda going to come back, he wondered? What if Master Elladan left without him? He tossed and turned through the night and arrived at the kitchen table for breakfast the following morning grumpy and out of sorts. He knew it and, for once, he did not care.
Elian kept smirking, like this was all some great big laugh. Sometimes his sister really irritated him. The twins, well they were the same as they ever were. They showed up whispering to each other in their nonsense language and showing suspiciously innocent faces. Everyone could see there were feathers attached to their tunics and hair. Adanel was off in her own little world again, humming the rhyme that Amme had been singing to her yesterday. As for Amme, she bustled around the kitchen as if nothing was wrong. Hanavia brooded like a summer storm as she set out plates and food and cutlery. When she placed the bread fresh from the oven in the middle of the table, the storm broke.
"Who cooked? Was it you, Amme?" he asked, struggling to keep the belligerence from his tone and failing miserably if the expression on his mother's face was anything to go by.
"Why do you want to know, son?" she threw back at him, daring him to cross the line.
Hanavia threw caution to the wind, "I wish Aunt Slip was back from Fornost! Ever since she went, hardly anything here is edible anymore! Look at that! It's hideous!"
He pointed at the bread. It did, admittedly, look like bread. If you ignored the shape of it. Everyone, even Amme, knew that she was not good at baking. Hanavia looked around the table at his siblings. Elian was wide eyed, staring at him as though he were some sort of insect. The twins were slack jawed, eyes bobbing between their mother and himself. Adanel had her thumb jammed all the way in her mouth. She was scowling at him. His mother drew a deep breath and set both her floured hands on the table top, long fingers spread. Hanavia stared at them, unable to look at her face.
"Inedible, you say Hanavia?" she asked, her voice deceptively calm as she pronounced every syllable of his name precisely.
He was up to his neck, he knew. May as well commit all the way. That's what Caeros said. Better a sheep than a lamb.
"Yes," he said, staring at his mother's fingers.
"In that case, you'll be pleased to know that you're excused from breakfast Hanavia. You'll be giddy with delight to know the stables need mucking out. And don't you dare show your face in here until such time as you have remembered who you are and the manners your father and I have taught you. Am. I. Clear?"
Mucking out the stables? She thought that was going to make him say sorry? Hanavia tore his eyes from her hands to her face and saw that her eyes were very, very blue. Still, he jutted out his lower chin and snarled, "Yes!"
He watched her lift her arm and point at the kitchen door. He flew out of it, making sure it slammed good and proper and nearly knocked Farbarad over on his way in.
Inside, Rin drew another deep breath. Farbarad filled the doorway, a question on his lips that faded away when he took in the kitchen. Her remaining children were silent and still.
"Go on then, eat up. Before it gets cold," she said as gently as she could and they set to with determination, eager to stay out of the mess that their eldest brother had just made.
Hanavia was still mucking out the stables when his father rode in. But before he could get to his father to explain what had happened and seek his help, the twins shot in to get there first. They tripped over each other in their rush to say what had happened. It was a blur, but clear enough to condemn Hanavia. He felt shame burn in his cheeks and went back to the stall he was mucking out.
"So Elladan is here, is he?" his father asked his younger brothers, having made out Elf in the mess of words they had thrown at him.
"Yes, Adda," said Worlin in his high voice.
"Good, good," came the deep, calm rumble and then, "And have you been good boys while I was away?"
"Yes, Adda," Dorlith said this time and went on to explain how they gave Elladan a welcome present.
When their father asked how there came to be feathers stuck in their hair, the twins explained that the chickens had been more difficult to get into the drawers in Elladan's room than they had anticipated.
"In that case, I think you should go and set the chickens loose and then tell your mother what you have done."
"Yes Adda," the boys chirruped, suspiciously obedient, and raced off to the house.
Hanavia could hear his father continue to unpack and then unsaddle his horse. Next would come the brushing. Hanavia finished the stall he was working on and went to fetch fresh hay for it.
As he walked back in with it, his father, "I have not forgotten you are there, son."
Hanavia tipped the hay onto the cleaned floor of the stall and began spreading it out. His father continued to curry his horse.
"Do you want to tell me what is wrong, or find out for myself?" his father asked.
"Amme won't let me go, Adda," Hanavia said, the words bursting out of him.
"How do you know this? Has she told you so?"
"No," Hanavia admitted, blinking away hot tears and shoving the hay about the stall.
He heard footsteps and sensed his father stood at the head of the stall. Hanavia's jaw clenched and he kept poking at the hay as his father stood there in silence. But it became too much and he threw the rake down and whirled about to face his father. It poured out of him, all of it, and his father said nothing. He just listened, quietly. By the time Hanavia had reached the ignominous events of the morning, it felt like hours had passed. He fell quiet and bit his lower lip, peering at his father.
Hanasian looked towards the house and frowned, "She's baking? That seals it. We need another pair of hands."
His attention swung back to his son and his frown did not abate, "But your behaviour, this morning, lad was…be grateful I was not there to see it myself, boy, or you'd be doing worse than mucking out the stables on an empty stomach right now. Your mother loves you dearer than life itself and well you know it! She deserves better than that from you. You owe yourself better than that, son."
He watched his eldest child's head droop and then nod.
"Here's what you're going to do. You're going to find some flowers and march back in there and apologise to your mother."
"I don't think flowers-" Hanavia sniffled.
"Nonsense. Flowers and sincerity always work. Remember that, lad."
"Do you think she'll let me go?"
"I think there's a fair chance that you haven't completely ruined this opportunity. Your mother will not hold this morning against you unfairly."
Hanasian watched his son's face lift again, renewed hope there. How badly the boy yearned for this. Rin would be true to her word, wouldn't she? As he wondered that he heard his wife. She was shouting at the top of her lungs from the kitchen.
"HANASIAN! YOU GET YOURSELF IN HERE THIS INSTANT AND EXPLAIN TO ME WHY THERE ARE CHICKENS RUNNING FREE IN MY HOUSE!"
Hanasian frowned at that. What had he to do with…he reviewed what he had told the twins and then groaned. Set the chicken free he had said. They had obediently done as bidden. Go tell your mother what you have done he had said. Again, they had obediently done as their father had told them. Hanasian wiped a hand over his face. No wonder the little horrors had been so eager to do his bidding! Could not Elladan take them with him, for a year or two, or twenty?
"Think you might need some flowers too, Adda," Hanavia observed and together, father and son smiled at each other.
Suffice it say that the arrival of evening, the comfort of his own home and the relative peace within it was a welcome advent for Hanasian. Thankfully, Rin had not baked for dinner and on the whole it was rather delightful. Hanavia had made his apologies and was being the very soul of decorum. He even held his mother's chair out for her and while she rolled her eyes, she also fondly rumpled his hair. Their son was fast becoming a man, but he was still boy enough to beam like a moonbeam at the gesture.
The chickens had all been located and removed safely. The twins would be up for some time tonight working on their letter explaining why it was wrong to put chickens in the drawers of guests. Or anyone, for that matter. Elian was bedecked with every ribbon her father had brought back with her. She'd made something she said was elven in honour of their guest and, ever the gentleman, Elladan had complimented her on her handiwork. It looked to Hanasian to be about as elven as dwarf, but Elian was aglow. Adanel was in his lap, helping him eat his meal. There was quiet talk around the table about events in Bree and the progress on the jetty.
The meal concluded and the evening unfolded in a familiar, comfortable way. Those who had eaten with them usually headed off to their respective quarters either in the house if they were Rangers or elsewhere if they were Company men. Some would repair to the long, deep balcony that overlooked the ocean with their pipes to take in the stars. Rin, usually assisted by Slippery, saw to readying the children for bed. As Slip was off, visiting someone or rather in Fornost, Rin had her hands full for quite some time. Hanasian was on the balcony when Elladan sought him out.
"I have spoken with your lady wife," he said to Hanasian, "It is the clear to me that your son has…gifts to nurture. If he were to be a healer then I would counsel him to remain at his mother's side. There is no better than her, Edain or Eldar, in these lands now. But I do not think your son seeks that path."
"Nor I," Hanasian replied and then, "What did Rin say to you."
"Little," Elladan admitted, "Though she listened attentively. All I know is that she intends to discuss the matter further with you."
"What, then, concerns you?"
"I am uncertain if the Lady will consent to her son's departure. She has not indicated that she stands against it, nor for it. I find it difficult to know what she might think."
"In that you are not the first," Hanasian assured him, "I still find myself wondering from time to time. She has given me her word that she will not stand in Hanavia's way. This, though…this is hard for any mother and harder still for Rosmarin."
"I can appreciate that," Elladan said and then, "Perhaps would have been better if Elrohir were here instead of I. She ever seemed to favour him."
"I will speak with her further tonight," Hanasian said, "And what of you, Master Elladan? Are you certain you wish to offer Hanavia a place in Imladris?"
Elladan paused before answering, "It is true I had some doubts. Not every prince is cut from the same cloth. Hanavia's grandfather, is a case in point. Bereth possessed a formidable intellect. His flaws lay elsewhere and Hanavia is yet young. Who is to say what stuff his character is yet woven from? Is he like his grandfathers? Or, rather, has the apple fallen a little closer to the tree as they say?"
"What do you think, Master Elf?"
"I think, Hanasian, that it would be a great honour to tutor your son, irrespective of whether he chooses to take up the principality of Cardolan after his mother or a different path."
Hanasian felt Elladan's hand close briefly on his forearm and then the Elf was gone. He remained there, mulling the Elf's words carefully for some time before he went in to bid his children a good night. He found Rin in the study, head in one hand as she scanned through a pile of reports and correspondence. With Slippery away, Rin was using the evening to address work she usually did during the day. There was a faint furrow between her brows and she pursed her lips at something she read.
"Extortion! There is simply no way I am paying that much coin! Oh…wait," she muttered, in the habit of speaking to herself, "They're paying us."
She let out a sigh and pushed the parchment to a particular pile. It was then she noticed him standing there, studying him.
"I found someone in Bree you might be interested in. Dunedain…up from Edholland. Fell out with the nobles she was travelling with to Annminuas and now works at the Pony."
"We don't need more staff, Hanasian. Slip will be back soon."
"Meanwhile, you can't tell the difference between an account to be paid or received. And you're baking."
"Were the flowers your idea?" Rin asked and Hanasian shrugged at her.
"Flowers and sincerity. Always works," he replied and then pushed her distraction aside, "I'll write to Loch, see what he knows about her. Can't be too many Dunedain in Edholland."
"Edholland," Rin muttered and then began riffling through the unread pile of papers, "If you're writing that lout, tell him to send his bloody report. He's three months behind?"
"Do you really want to add three months of reports to that pile right now, love?"
"Not the point. Ask him. No, tell him. I want those reports. I need those reports. For all we know, the Company could have gone renegade down there!"
"If they did, he'd be with them. Especially when he hears he's three months behind in his reports."
Hanasian smiled at his wife and it did not work. She was singularly unimpressed. Rin sat in her chair at her desk and stared at him hard, hands resting over her belly. He could just imagine the son or daughter within joining up with her to stare as well.
"I'll tell him," Hanasian promised when it was clear she was not going to let the matter drop.
At his words, she nodded and knuckled her eyes. It was clear she was tired. Hanasian decided, then, to leave the matter of Hanavia for the morning.
"Come, these can wait another day. I will help you with them tomorrow, love."
Rin sighed and dropped her hands, long fingers clasped together, atop the papers.
"They can, Hanavia cannot. I know why Elladan is here. How fortuitous it was you met him on your way to Bree."
Hanasian did not miss her sarcasm. He really did not wish to argue. She was tired and the issue was a delicate one. One false word or step and she'd dig her heels in. Once that happened, it was all over. Her steely will was a double-edged sword in that respect, steadfast determination on one edge and bitter stubbornness on the other.
"Rin, you gave your word."
"I know perfectly well what I said, Hanasian! After this morning's-"
"You can't hold that against him, Rin. He's a boy still. He will make mistakes!"
"Hanasian, this morning was more than a mistake! You were not there!"
Rin broke off and muttered something in Dunlendic. Hanasian turned away and struggled for patience and calm. He knew this was hard, but it was cruel beyond measure to chain the boy here simply because his mother found it hard to let go. Was it easier for him? Did he not miss his son already? And had she not given her word? She knew what it was to be denied opportunities such as this. How could she do to her son what had been done to her? Disappointment welled up in Hanasian. And beneath that, anger simmered.
"So now what, Rosmarin?" he asked and turned back to face her, "Go on, say it."
She stared at him through wide eyes that were so very blue right now. They dropped away to her hands. Her hands moved to her belly. She was silent for a while and then looked up at him again, biting her lower lip.
"Say it, Rosmarin," he coldly demanded.
"I – I think," she started and then stopped. He watched her eyes drop away again, unable to muster the words. Even she knew she was wrong. Surely, if she were the woman he knew her to be, she would stop herself.
"After this morning," Rin began again and lifted her eyes, "I think he must go with Elladan. I was not convinced before. Understand me, Hanasian. It is not that I cannot manage our son. I do not wish to dispose of him because he is unruly. But I see how badly he thirsts for this. How can I not? He wants this as badly as… I wanted my family alive. How can we not give him this?
"It will not be easy for him, he has never been away from us. But we must send Caeros too, for he is sworn to Hanavia and a familiar face will be a comfort to him in a strange place. I – And we will visit, will we not? Or perhaps he might return for a time, every now and again?"
Those blue eyes were trained on him and he was drowning in their depths.
"Hanasian…we must let him go. Mustn't we?"
Relief surged through him. Pride too, for he knew all too well how difficult this was for the woman before him. She was looking to him for an answer and he had no words for her. Instead he strode around the desk, pushed it aside and pulled her to her feet and into his arms. He held her a long time in silence and then, tipped her head back to kiss her deeply.
"We will tell Hanavia in the morning," he said, voice husked by emotion, "Come. To bed with you, woman."
A short while later, as he soaked in the presence of his wife by his side, they heard a clucking noise in the darkness. Father and mother both groaned at the same time.
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.