5. Chapter 4 - December 1419
He was having trouble sleeping at night, worrying about what he was going to do. He'd never paid much attention to babies, except for when Pippin was a baby. But even then, he hadn't really been interested in his cousin until Pippin was old enough to toddle around. What would he do with an infant? He supposed his mum would want to help, but he really wanted to do this on his own. It was his mistake, his responsibility. He sighed.
Éowyn opened her eyes and smiled at him, then patted the spot next to her on the marble bench. “Come talk to me?”
She took his hand when he sat next to her, and gave it a squeeze. “How are you doing?” she asked.
He snorted. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”
She laughed. “I don’t know who is more nervous, you or Faramir!” She patted his hand. “I am fine. A little achy and uncomfortable, same as always, but otherwise fine.”
He smiled at her, then let his eyes drift down to her belly. She wasn’t huge like most lasses were in their last weeks, so it was still a little hard to believe that she would deliver soon. But she was bigger than when they'd first arrived. Her hand rubbed lazily over the mound of her belly. He was fascinated by that mound. His child was in there.
As if reading his thoughts, she took his hand and pressed it to her belly. He drew in a sharp breath. He always hesitated to touch her, because of the feelings it sent through his body. He couldn't get other touches out his mind, the touches that led to them being here now. But she had insisted that he had every right to feel his child.
There was no movement now. “Is he sleeping?”
She shrugged. “He’s been slowing down. Aerlyn says it’s because there isn’t much room to move in there anymore.”
“I suppose not.” He pulled his hand away and leaned back on the bench. They sat in silence, the only sound the rushing of the river in the valley and the sounds of the forest. He had a hard time knowing what to say to her lately. The easy camaraderie they’d shared in Minas Tirith and Edoras had become awkward. It was one thing to have shared an intimate night and moved on. Now they were reminded of it every day. “Pippin’s keeping Faramir busy,” he finally said to break the awkward silence. “Playing chess. Faramir keeps winning.” He grinned. “Pippin claims that he’s letting him win.”
She smiled. “Faramir has enjoyed seeing Pippin again.” She touched his hand. “I’ve enjoyed seeing you again.” They fell silent again, both of them focusing on the forest or the birds or the river--anything but each other. Then Éowyn let out an unhappy sigh. “With everything that’s happened...I want us to remain friends, Merry. I don’t want this to come between us.”
He took her hand and squeezed it. “I know.”
She stiffened, her hand going back to her belly.
“What?” he asked, worried.
“A cramp,” she said. She let out a deep breath, relaxing again. “I’ve been having them on and off all morning.”
“What?” he exclaimed, jumping to his feet. Panic rose in his gut. “Why didn’t you say--?”
“Calm down, Merry,” she said with a little laugh, taking his hand and pulling him back down to sit next to her. “It doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It could still be days before I deliver.”
He wasn’t comforted by that. Just the thought that it was starting was making his heart thud in his chest.
“Pippin tells me you’re wanting to write a book.”
“What?” He stared at her. Why was she talking about his book now?
“Your book. On herb-lore.” She patted his cheek. “If Pippin is busy distracting Faramir, then I will have to distract you.” She grinned at him.
“Right,” he said. He wiped his sweaty palms on his trousers and sighed. He didn’t think he was going to survive these last few days. “My book. Well, I--”
She stiffened again and groaned.
“That was stronger than the last one!” she said cheerily, but her smile looked forced. “Perhaps I should go back inside?”
Merry scrambled to his feet. “I’ll get you to your room, then I'll go get Aerlyn.”
She nodded, her brows furrowed with worry. “I think that will be a good idea.”
He helped her to her feet and they slowly walked down the path that led to her room. She was sweating now, though the winter air was cool, and she looked more than a little scared.
She stopped when they reached the doorway to her room and she leaned heavily on his shoulder, groaning. She gasped when the pain passed, her breath coming in pants. She looked at him and smiled a little. "I think you're going to have a baby very soon, Merry."
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.