40. Meeting Prospective Inlaws
Meeting Prospective Inlaws
Ruvemir found Folco sitting at the table reading when he returned to his own quarters, while Pando and Ririon stopped their whispering to one another and looked at him guiltily from their beds as he entered the room. The mannikin looked from one to the other, then at his sister's husband. "What is this?" he asked.
Folco closed his book and looked critically at Pando. "It appears that Pando had thought to teach Ririon how to spy on folks tonight. They slipped out of the inn, and were found by Eregiel trying to sneak through the gate to the First Circle, where they intended to slip into the Dwarves' warehouse to watch you working on the Lord Frodo's stone. No great mischief, but not appropriate within the City, either. They had left Joy here that she not be seen, and she barked as they left the room--I came in immediately that she not bother others, and found them gone. A quarter hour later, perhaps, they were brought back."
"I see," Ruvemir said, carefully concealing his own amusement.
"We saw the Lord King heading down to the First Circle to come to the warehouse," Ririon ventured. "He did not wear his cloak tonight--Eregiel was carrying it. Yet no one seemed to see him except us. Only I didn't see him--Pando did."
"I almost didn't see him, either. Except it's hard even for another Hobbit to hide from Hobbits."
"What did he do there, Ruvemir?"
The sculptor sighed. "Little enough--sat and watched and sang."
Ririon sat fully upright, and Joy looked up to see what he would do next. "Did he sing? Oh, then I wish we had got there, for his singing is wondrous fair."
Pando sniffed. "Does he sing as well as Pippin does?"
"Oh, yes, as well, although it sounds much different. His voice is far deeper, and it fills your heart. And the Queen's voice is secret and fair as the stars in a cloudless sky."
Ruvemir was moved at this description given by the boy.
Pando asked, "Did he do anything else?"
"Well, after I was done he helped drape the stone again, and swept up after."
Ririon was startled. "Our Lord King swept up stone shards after?"
Pando again sniffed. "Well," he commented, "it was only fair, as Ruvemir had been doing all the work so far."
"But it's not for the King to sweep up after," Ririon tried to explain. "He's supposed to be too busy ruling things."
Ruvemir laughed. "He was not always King, and does not see why he should fail to be courteous simply because kings are usually allowed to avoid simple work. It is part of what makes him a better king than most--that he willingly does what is expected of others. Now, it is late, and we must be up early. Ririon, in the morning you and Joy will attend upon your grandfather, while Pando, I wish you to approach the Elves who work in the garden here and offer whatever aid you can. They are aware of the love of growing things that dwells within the hearts of the Pheriannath, and I believe they will accept your service. In this manner will you each serve penance for going out of the inn at night when you are supposed to be sleeping. This is not the Shire--it is a city, and where there are so many so close packed together there is greater chance for anger, greed, frustration, and recklessness to grow in the hearts of those who have no desire to curb their appetites. I only rejoice it was Eregiel who found you and not a cutpurse or even simply one overwhelmed with drink."
Both apologized, and Folco smiled at his wife's brother and went back to his own room. Ruvemir saw that one of his two miscreants had already set a full glass of water by his bed for him, and once he'd bathed again and was ready for sleep himself he drank half of it, set it back in its place, and lay down, smiling slightly at the ways of youths, whether of Men or Pheriannath.
He woke early and dressed swiftly, slipping out early to see if any Elves worked anywhere in the area. He found the two sons of Thranduil speaking together in the main street, and smiled as he approached them.
"A Perian needs employment this day? I would be pleased to keep him entertained for three hours, then," the darker of the pair smiled.
Prince Legolas also smiled. "Gimli told me that two Hobbits returned with you. And it is true that both are kinsmen of the Ringbearer?"
"Yes, my Lord, that is true. Folco Boffin has married my sister Miriel, and Pando Proudfoot is apprenticed to learn the ways of clay."
"Would he be descended from Odo Proudfoot, then?"
"His great grandson, I believe."
The golden haired Elf nodded. "Ah, yes. Pippin, Merry, and Frodo all had much to say of that of their kinsmen--and of Folco as well."
Ruvemir bowed his thanks and went to check with his father.
Pando and Ririon awoke when Evren arrived with their breakfasts, attended by a slight girl who appeared amazed when she saw Ruvemir kneeling on the floor, working on his diagrams of Sam Gamgee. She gave a gasp of surprise and received an exasperated glare from her companion, who quietly but firmly directed she should set the tray she bore on the table and serve out without causing shame to the establishment. The girl flushed furiously, bowed her head, and did as she was bade. Evren gave Ruvemir a look of apology.
"This is Coralien from Lossarnach, who is training to take the place of Elise, good sirs," she said by way of introduction, explanation, and apology. "She has apparently seen neither mannikins nor Pheriannath before. Please forgive her."
"And this day she first sees both, then," Ruvemir noted, having straightened to his knees. He bowed his head in acknowledgment, then looked to the girl. "I greet you, Coralien of Lossarnach. I am Master Ruvemir of Lebennin, and am a mannikin, while my apprentice here--" indicating Pando, who sat up, rubbing his eyes, "--is indeed one of the Pheriannath. This room is apt for both, we find. I hope you enjoy your employment here at the King's Head, for it is, I find, an excellent inn, well worthy of its good reputation." He gave a nod of dismissal, and turned back to his work.
The girl flushed, but did her work as directed by Evren, and finally the two women were through and went back to their cart in the hallway, ready to go to the next room.
The two youths were soon eating their breakfasts while Ruvemir finished his task, and finally he capped his bottle of ink, cleaned his steel pen, put both away, carefully rolled the diagram he'd been working on, and joined them at table.
After he saw each to his assigned work for the morning, he himself set out to visit a barber whose shop he'd visited on his earlier visit to the city. Once he felt his father would no longer be likely to criticize his hair he set off on his way to the quiet street where Elise lived with her sister, mother, and grandmother, and knocked at the door. He heard the tread of feet approaching the door, and it opened to reveal the mischievous face of the sister.
"You are perhaps somewhat early," the girl commented, smiling. "I am Dorieth, Master Ruvemir. Won't you enter and rest for a time?"
She led the way to a sitting room and saw him seated, and went swiftly to bring him a cup of juice suitable for the morning. He heard a call from deeper in the house, and with a brief apology the girl left him alone.
The room was neatly furnished, and he saw with approval the small shelf of books against one wall. Having finished his juice, he set the goblet on a table and arose to examine what was there, and found they were of several kinds--tales for children, a history of the city, two books of poetry, a history of the Great War--all showing signs of having been read frequently. His gift to Elise stood here, also, obviously proudly displayed. He thought that he would gladly see that collection added to, for the delight of his bride's family.
A shadow at the doorway heralded the arrival of a small woman who yet stood tall and straight as her height allowed, her hair greying, her eyes evaluative. He turned to her and bowed politely. "Ruvemir son of Mardil, Mistress," he said, "at the service of you and your family ever from this day."
Her expression was mixed and somewhat reserved, but indicated she tended to be kindly disposed toward him. "I am Idril daughter of Lyrien and Dorinion, of the city for four generations," she said. "So, at last I meet the one who has captured the heart of my granddaughter. You like to read, then?"
"Oh, indeed, my lady."
She nodded, now more disposed to like him than before. "And I am told you are an artist and sculptor, commissioned by the King himself to create the memorial to the Pheriannath." She sat herself to listen to his reply.
"Yes, my lady. The King himself laid this upon me."
"She has told me she has met the King now."
"Yes, my lady, she has."
"How was this done, then?"
Ruvemir took a deep breath and explained the visit he'd received just after the Queen's return from King, Queen, Dwarf, and Elf. She listened, amazed and even a little amused. When he was done she sat shaking her head.
"Certainly we've never heard tales of such visits from our late Lord Denethor, although both the Lords Boromir and Faramir were said to visit the homes of the Men in their followings when they were ill, wounded, or had died."
"I'd not been told of such visits, but I can well believe it of both, from what I've heard of the Lord Boromir and what I've seen of the Lord Faramir. Both have been worthy Men to follow. Captain Peregrin and Sir Merry both speak well of both, particularly of the Lord Boromir from their travels together as they came from Imladris to Gondor. Certainly the Lord Faramir and Captain Peregrin share a mutual respect for one another which is touching to see."
"You have met him, then, our Lord Steward?"
"Yes, my lady, when the commission was officially granted to me, and again in Rohan on our return from the north, after my sister and I visited the land of the Shire. He is a gracious lord and prince, and I rejoice such as our King has him in his friendship."
"He has proven a worthy Lord, the Lord Elessar. I am also told he attended you in the Houses of Healing."
"He does so for all who need his gifts, my lady Idril. Now he attends the daughter of a crofter from the Pelennor, one who was terribly burned when her home caught fire. My sister has taken to sitting by her bed as she recovers."
"How did you come to receive this commission?"
Ruvemir found himself laughing. "It is a long story, my lady."
"I am not nobly born."
Ruvemir smiled. "I give the title to those who deserve it by nature more readily than I do to those who have merely received it by birth."
She was definitely pleased by this compliment. "Let you tell me how you came to receive this commission, then."
Dorieth slipped into the room with a square of toasted bread in her hand, and sat upon a cushioned stool near the window to eat it as she eyed her sister's affianced with interest. Ruvemir acknowledged her arrival with a brief bow of his head and returned his attention to her grandmother. "It was as the result of my last commission, which was to assist in the construction of a monument to the memory of the assault on the Corsairs of Umbar by the troupes of Gondor under the leadership of Prince Adrahil and the Lord Captain Thorongil. The King came through Casistir on his way south to Dol Amroth with Prince Imrahil, and both saw the work I'd done on the statues of the Prince's father and the mysterious captain, and were apparently shocked to see how accurately I caught both."
Idril straightened somewhat, then thought. "Oh, yes, I forget at times that the Lord Prince is of the Dúnedain lineage and has longer memory than most mortals. And I suppose the same must be true of our Lord King as well." Ruvemir nodded. "How does he know the seeming of Captain Thorongil?"
"You have heard the speculation that the Lord Captain was of the Dúnedain of the north?" An her own nod he continued, "Well, that has proven to be true."
"I see. Certainly his speech was not that of Gondor or the city."
Ruvemir was surprised. "You heard him speak, my lady?"
"Yes, though what he had to tell was not fair. Yet for all that it was fairly and gently said. He came to tell me that my husband had died. Hirigion was in the army, and was assigned for a time under the Captain's command, although soon before his death he was placed under another captain, whose name I think I forced myself to forget. It was a troupe led by Captain Thorongil that came upon the remains of my husband's squadron. When they arrived, Hirigion was still living, but barely. He died under the hands of the Captain. They told me after the Captain mourned for the loss of all who'd died, and that he did the best he could to avenge them, for they had been resting in what they'd thought a secure place when they were slain from ambush."
She sighed. "I suppose I do have Captain Thorongil to thank for the fact I still dwell in this house. He argued long with the Lords of Gondor for the need to provide for the widows and children of those who served the nation who were killed in service, and finally they agreed to give us pensions for our maintenance. But I am told that while he spoke from the care for those who were bereft, the argument that won them was that if we were not cared for, we women would restrain our sons, brothers, and husbands from enlisting in the armies to begin with lest we be left with nothing when they died. He is not the one who broached that argument, though. I believe I was told that was presented by the Lord Denethor."
"I see. Do you remember his voice and speech as it was then?"
"How can I forget it, Master Ruvemir, considering the news it brought me?"
"Then remember it on the day of our wedding, my lady." He smiled mysteriously at her.
She examined his face with suspicion, then laughed. "So, Captain Thorongil was kin to our Lord King? That is interesting. And seeing that you were able to learn the seeming of his kinsman by question, he decided to set you to do the same with the Pheriannath?"
"Something like, my lady. Actually, I have been able to meet with three of the four, but for the Lord Frodo I have had to ask of his seeming and nature from those who had seen him and known him--and loved him--while he remained here in Middle Earth."
"Yet Elise tells me he did not die."
"No. He was granted the grace to sail to Elvenhome with the Lord Elrond of Imladris and the Lady Galadriel of Lothlorien."
She stilled, taking in the implications. Finally she murmured, "Then even the Valar themselves honored him."
"Yes, my lady."
She thought. "He looked so small and slight on their arrival here in the White City. He was, I think, taller than his esquire, but shorter than his two kinsmen; yet he seemed almost like gossamer compared to the other three. The Lord Faramir laid the Winged Crown gently in his hands to carry to Mithrandir so he could crown our new Lord, and it seemed it was almost as big as he himself. Yet he bore it steadily enough."
Ruvemir's face became solemn. "He had been bearing a far heavier burden for far too long. He was well practiced, I think."
"All could see there was deep love between the two, our King and the Halfling, and grief could be seen in our Lord's eyes as he watched after his friend when the Pherian would leave his presence."
"I can well imagine. He grieves his leaving still."
"He was fair, the Lord Frodo."
"Yes, surpassing fair, I've found."
At that moment the door to the house opened and closed, and two voices came near, talking rapidly and with mutual pleasure. Two women entered the room, Elise with words of greeting for her grandmother, words forgotten as she smiled with pleased surprise to find Ruvemir there before her. "Ruvemir! You are early!"
"I came to tell you that the Lord King is sending down a cart for us to go up into the city at the fourth hour."
"Oh, and that comes soon enough. Let me put these things away and I will join you." She turned away quickly, and steps could be heard hurrying upstairs to the bedrooms. Lisbet, her mother, remained behind to accept introductions to her daughter's betrothed, and although she remained reserved, she appeared to approve of Miriel's embroidery on his clothing and the care he obviously took in his appearance.
"The King sends a cart for you?" she asked.
"Yes, for it is difficult for me to sustain the climb up the steep streets of the city. Once he becomes aware of a need, our Lord King tries to make certain it is adequately met."
"So we have become aware. He is a most thoughtful Man, it appears. And my daughter tells me that he has admitted you to his friendship."
"Yes, he has, although there is a distance yet."
"We will be coming up to the upper circles, also, and hope to see where our daughter will dwell once you are wed and returned from Lebennin and Belfalas. Will you be going directly there?"
"No, for we must go back and collect my ward and other apprentice first; and my father, who arrived last night, also had expressed an interest in going up to see the place. I hope we do not overwhelm those set to show us the house."
She laughed in spite of herself. "Then you must show us the work done on the King's commission."
"Gladly, my lady."
Elise could be heard returning down the stairs, and she came to him smiling, a light cloak over her arm. He took her hand and smiled, reaching up to draw her down to kiss her gently but with promise. Then, with words of farewell they took their leave.
Idril and Lisbet looked to one another. "There is no question," Lisbet commented, "that he loves her."
"None," her mother agreed. "He is a most courteous young man, I must say."
"And favored by the King," Dorieth added. "His work is progressing, for I saw him at it yesterday when I went up to the Court of Gathering to see. You watch him work, and you forget the small stature and shortness of his limbs, for he is very graceful and focused in what he does."
"Well," Idril said, "I do not think we will need to worry about her future. But I fear she will leave the city and not think to return to live here."
"She will certainly see many new places, married to one who takes commissions throughout the realm," Dorieth said with a degree of envy in her voice.
Her mother looked on her with a smile. "You may also find such one day, little mistress," she said. "Just don't hurry into it." She looked toward the distant door to the house. "For all he is so odd in his body, he is yet comely, and has care for himself, and appears full cultured."
"It will be interesting to meet the father," Idril commented.
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.