1. Three Kisses
By: Karigan Rohanna (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Written for the Father's Day Fic Challenge at Henneth-Annun.
Warnings: G, Angst.
Summery: Erchirion, the second son of Imrahil, struggles to deal with painful grief in his life and realizes he and Dad aren't so far apart.
A/N: Yet another story for Sar. This is her fault-- her Erchi, her fault, and her story. And I dearly love my Papa, and thank him for the constant effort he makes to improve my life.
Sitting outside, staring at the ocean roll in, Erchirion of Dol Amroth had to wonder how Lothliriel was doing in Rohan. His little sister... gone and married to Eomer of Rohan... with a son. He remembered, with a wistful sigh, the smiling, happy face of baby Elfwine...
It reminded him of the little baby he had held the day of his birth, who had grown to be a young boy, who now lay buried outside in the family tombs, laid within the arms of his mother... Erchirion closed his eyes against the pain, but the tears crept out anyway, and the fierce sea wind whipped them off his face where they hit the stone wall he leaned upon.
Some things were hard to accept.
Aerellyn was gone. And so was Barandor. He was left all alone with the unbearable grief of their loss, the heavy pressure and weight that seemed to make life drag. Three years it had dragged-- Barandor would have been six this very day, and he would have been laughing as he, Erchirion, offered
his son his first sword, delighting and rejoicing with his son in the wonder of the new day, the new year, the new age... together they would have ridden along the sea shore, and he would have knelt before his son and tell make him solemnly swear never to raise his sword against a woman, or in anger,
or to abuse the new... and when they rode back, Aerellyn would have laughed and kissed her son and her husband, and they would have gone within together to celebrate Barandor's sixth birthday with joy as all of Barandor's aunt and uncles and cousins watched with pride...
Erchirion couldn't keep himself together anymore, and cried honest, hurt tears that his wife and son had been ripped from him. It didn't make any sense. None at all. The longing, familiar and painful, filled his chest, and he cried, silently grieving, knowing there would be no comfort for him in these days or any other. His mother, his one comfort, was gone too, and as he cried for Aerellyn and Barandor, he cried for his mother too,
and for the way life could be so painful and insensible, and take away the people he needed and loved and...
There was the familiar sound of Imrahil clearing his throat, asking without words if it was all right to barge in on the grief. Erchirion opened his eyes. He did not admit it, but he was mildly embarrassed of being found crying like a baby, even with so much grief fresh in his mind. The tears quieted, and Imrahil waited for some acknowledgment of permission to enter
and share the space. Erchirion, finding himself incapable of crying any more, nodded. Imrahil sat opposite to him, and for a long time they stared at each other. This was not the first time Imrahil had found Erchirion crying since the death of his wife and son.
Erchirion reminded himself it was not as if he had not seem Imrahil in grief. Many times he'd intentionally ignored his father's tears for Mellnanel. He tried to ignore his father as much as possible, seeing as it seemed Imrahil had, until just recently, preferred to ignore his second son. And Erchirion didn't blame his father-- he was a miserable person, and preferred to be somewhere far away from Dol Amroth, where memories didn't get to him like they were now. He had little in common with Imrahil, or so he'd told himself in the past.
But they had a lot more in common these days, it seemed. Pain and tears, drew father and son together, though they had not sought each other's company before. Erchirion had been alone in the grief of Aerellyn and Barandor. But it seemed Imrahil was learning that he was not alone in his grief of Mellnanel. Erchirion missed his mother, and a part of him
seemed to think he could possibly miss the woman as much as Imrahil did.
One grief was hard enough. Three sufferings, three losses, all at once, were impossible to stay dry eyed through.
Imrahil cleared his throat again, as if trying to figure out what to say. Erchirion looked at the ground, rather than into his father's face. He didn't want to see the sympathy and understanding Imrahil tried to conjure-- it hurt him, because Imrahil did not know, even though he fathomed
he somehow might.
"Well..." Imrahil said in awkward tones. Erchirion made no attempt at conversation, nor even acknowledged his father's words. It was too hard to try and be sympathetic, to try and share the grief, or to, even worse, put on a brave face and act like his father's son, which he was not. Things were just too hard when he was struck and hurt by grief as he was.
"When you were still a young child, up until your brother turned nine, your mother would put all of you to bed each night with three kisses." Imrahil said very slowly. Erchirion's head raised rather slowly, so that he looked at his father through his eyelashes. "Each night as she tucked you in, she would say, as only she could, 'A kiss to let you know I love you.' She would kiss you on the left cheek then. 'A kiss to keep you safe.' Your right, then. And at last, when you had become very quiet, she would look down into your eyes, and tell you 'And a kiss to keep you from tears,' and she would kiss you upon the forehead, and soothe you into slumber. You were particularly hard to soothe... but each night, by the third kiss, you had already gone towards sleep."
Erchirion's head lowered again. He didn't need to hear another story about the wonder person his mother had been-- he knew how wonderful she was. The loss of her was a grief as fresh in his heart as the loss of his own wife and son, though the latter was three years past. Seeing Lothliriel with Elfwine had brought back memories that made the grief as new as the one he felt for his mother.
"One of the last things she told me, before... before..." Imrahil was breaking up.
"Before she died." Erchirion supplied, so quietly it was hard to hear him. "It isn't being blunt, it is helping to keep a grip on reality."
"Before she died," Imrahil said very quietly, pausing a moment to reorient himself. "she told me to help you all to pass on the tradition."
Here it came. Here was the emotional tear-jerker that would leave Erchirion sniffling and trying to find his handkerchief, which he didn't want anywhere near his eyes, as it was rather dirty. The slightest sentimental gesture from people had that effect on him these days, especially if it reminded him of his mother, his wife, or his son; the simple act of seeing Lothliriel
coddling Elfwine had made him break down, after all... He reached in his pocket to find his handkerchief, readying himself for the flood of tears that would make him long for his wife, for his son, and for his mother, with a heartache that burned and seared its way even into his flesh, so that he couldn't even breathe...
"And, well..." Imrahil stopped and buried his hand in his pant pocket. Having pockets was incredibly useful, Erchirion mused, trying to keep his mind off grief. The halflings had it right-- being able to keep things in your clothes was very, very, very useful. It was a good thing tailors in Gondor had decided to include it in pant pockets these days. "That is to say..."
Imrahil pulled out something that shimmered like glass. He opened his hand and extended it towards his son. Two tiny glass figurines, carefully painted from drawings, shimmered in his hand. Erchirion's breath caught and he found himself unable to breathe. Tears made it hard to see, but he recognized their faces and forms anywhere, even in miniature glass. Imrahil pressed the figures, one of Aerellyn, one of Barandor, into his
son's hand, closed his fingers, and put his lips against the beard roughened left cheek.
"A kiss to let you know I love you."
Erchirion felt tears rising to leak out of his eyes as his father kissed his right cheek.
"A kiss to keep you safe."
He couldn't keep them in, no matter how hard he tried...
"A kiss to keep you from tears."
Imrahil's lips made contact with his son's forehead, and then he pulled his second oldest into an embrace.
"Keep them." He whispered. "You should have had them a long, long time ago."
Erchirion's hand tightened around the glass to keep it safe as he put his arms around his father. He was crying steadily now, steadily and silently, and he was not certain he knew exactly for what reason he was crying. Because his father loved him? That was a poor reason to cry. Because he missed his mother, his wife, and his son? He did not think so this time.
Because he was understood, and not alone?
"I love you." The words were choked, hard to push out past the grief, past the ideals of what a knight should be, past the fact he wasn't supposed to be an emotional twit. He said them anyway, because he meant them, and realized that it was the first time in his life he had ever meant them. He had loved his mother... but though he'd respected Imrahil, love had been hard to conjure, but... that was over now.
Father and son went on to sit together, facing the ocean, as Erchirion softly kissed the figurines three times, and Imrahil remembered.
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.