I look up from my book and see him standing in the doorway, blanket clutched in one hand and the thumb of his other in his mouth.
He has not done that for so many years, I think- something is wrong.
I smile and push back my great chair from my desk, gesturing for my little grandson to sit on my knee. He does so with an urgency I have not seen since his father talked to milord Meriadoc and had nightmares about a great fiery monster living under a mountain that ate everything in its path, dwarves and elves and and wizards alike.
"What is it, Barahir?"
He snuggles deep into my robes and does not answer. I sigh and stroke his hair, marvelling at him as only a Grampa can.
"Have you been talking to milord Meriadoc?"
My grandson looks at me as if I am talking Orkish, and I realise he has never met master Meriadoc, so instead I just shake my head.
"I had a bad dream, Grampa."
I smile and draw him closer to me.
"Was it about Great-Grampa again? I have those dreams too- so did your father. They are nothing to worry about- they just prove that your blood runs true."
Again he nods, and as his gaze falls floorwards I realise I have said the wrong thing.
"Grymwold son of Grimbold said that the King is a half-breed, and that whenever the blood of Gondor thinned disaster waited in the wings."
He looks at me with tears in his eyes.
"He said that even I was a half-breed and that he on his own would have made a better King than both put together."
I sigh sadly, and wish for the millionth time that the memories of Men were as fickle as their faiths.
I pat the book I had been reading and force a smile to my lips.
"Would you like to hear a story, Barahir?"
He eyes me suspiciously.
"Is it a happy story?"
My smile falters.
"It is in the end, Barahir- just as all the best stories are."
He ponders this as only small boys can and then snuggles up against me. I would read the tale from the book, but I do not need to- it is burned into my brain.
"Once upon a time, long before even I was born, long before even the King himself was born, the King of Gondor's son met a beautiful woman..."