10. Chapter 10
"I say we just leave him," Bori said.
Fari frowned at his brother. "Don't let your mum hear you say that." He looked across the hall to where Ari sat on the ground, knees drawn up to his chest. They were supposed to be leaving for Gondor today, but Ari didn't want to go.
Their parents, the king, and Beorfrith were huddled in whispered conversation. Ivy didn't look very happy at all. Willow and Éoleof were sitting next to Ari, trying to convince their brother of all the fun they'd have in Minas Tirith. Ari was biting his lip and trying very hard not to cry. Their time in Rohan had reinforced his desire to be a Rider when he grew up, and Riders of the Mark most certainly did not cry because they had to go to Gondor.
"He's just being a big baby," Bori huffed.
"He loves it here," Theo said softly. "It's not easy to leave something you love." He sighed heavily and walked away.
Fari shared an exasperated look with Eomer. It was not going to be a fun trip today.
The group of whispering adults broke apart and the King walked over to kneel next to Ari. "Aragorn," he said, placing his large hand on his nephew's head, "I think you should go to Minas Tirith, because it is a wonder to see." Ari looked up at him, looking like he wanted to protest, but Fari knew he wouldn't dare protest to Éomer King. "I've discussed it with your parents. Beorfrith will be accompanying you to Minas Tirith, on an errand to King Elessar for me. He will stay with you there for a while. If you decide you would like to return to Rohan, he will bring you back before winter and you may stay with us until it is time to return to The Shire."
Ari's face lit up. "Thank you, Uncle," he squeaked. He sniffled and wiped at his eyes.
Fari heard another sniffle. Ivy was tucked in his dad's arms, sniffling into his shoulder. She'd never been away from her children farther than a trip across the Shire, and never more than a few days. His dad was hugging her and whispering in her ear. He was certain his dad would try to talk Ari out of coming back, just for Ivy's sake. Fari was a little angry with his brother for putting Ivy through this. He hoped Ari was at least grateful they had such a wonderful mum.
Fari had never seen anything as amazing as the city of Minas Tirith. It rose up like a part of the mountain itself--it was a part of the mountain--many times larger than Edoras' mound. His father had told him that all the hobbits of the Shire would fit in just one of the lower levels of the great city.
To the east lay Osgiliath, an amazing city in itself, a gray sprawl along the banks of the Anduin. Beyond it were the forests of Ithilien, and then the black peaks of Mordor. They gave Fari a chill just to look at them.
"When I first saw Minas Tirith," his father was saying, "I was riding with Gandalf on Shadowfax. I was good at causing Gandalf no end of trouble," he said, smiling at Ivy. "It's a wonder he didn't chuck me down that well when he had the chance." His father sighed. "I do miss that old wizard. He had the most amazing fireworks."
"Elfwine said Shadowfax went over the sea with Gandalf," put in Ari, wistfully. "I wish I could have seen him."
The journey along the road that led through Minas Tirith seemed to take forever. The city just seemed to go up and up and up. Everywhere they went, eyes followd them. The sight of hobbits in Minas Tirith was a rare thing. The last hobbit to visit was Ivy, over fifteen years before.
Soon they were through the last gate and at the stables, where grooms came out to take care of the ponies and cart. Ari wanted to go see the Gondorian horses, but their father grabbed his hand. "No, Ari, we have to see the King first."
"Ernil i Pheriannath!" a cheeful voice called. Fari followed his father's gaze to a man dressed in the livery of a Guard.
"It can't be Beregond! Bergil?" his father asked.
"Bergil, Guard of the Citadel, at your service," the man said with a sweeping bow. Then he clasped hands with Fari's dad in greeting. "I suppose I was just a whelp of a lad the last time you saw me. It's been far too long, friend!" The man gave a quick glance at the hobbits. "Your family?"
"My wife, Ivy, and these are our children. Those two are Merry's sons."
Bergil grinned. "I have three of my own and my father spoils them terribly."
"How is your father?"
"Retired from active service now, but he still trains new recruits for Lord Elboron." Bergil gave a glance at the bustling stable. "Well, it seems your ponies are well cared for, so now I will escort you to your audience with the King."
They followed Bergil up a stair that led to the courtyard of the Citadel. Beyond the wall that ran along the edge of the highest level, Fari could see only sky, hinting at the view that awaited them.
Instead of going to the White Tower, where Fari knew the throne of the King was, Bergil led them past the tower and into an enormous building that looked large enough to hold four Meduselds within its walls.
"The King's House," Bergil said. "King Elessar wished to meet you in his own chambers. That is quite an honor, Thain Peregrin."
"Old Strider probably didn't want to get dressed up for me!"
Fari noticed that both Bergil and a passing servant girl looked scandalized at his father's comment.
"Come now, Bergil," his dad laughed. "You have only known him as King Elessar, but I've known him as Aragorn, and before that as Strider, and I count him as one of my dearest friends."
Bergil nodded--still looking scandalized, Fari thought--and led them to a chamber at the end of the hall.
King Elessar hadn't changed much since Fari last saw him, when he'd brought Ivy back from her stay in Gondor. Maybe a bit more grey in his beard, but still the same kind, smiling face that looked decades younger than his one hundred twenty-three years.
The King and his dad bowed at each other, then laughed and embraced. Aragorn kissed Ivy's brow and came around and greeted all of them in turn.
"Arwen should be here soon. Eldarion was just waking from his nap." the King said. "My steward should be arriving soon with his family and he is looking forward to seeing his sister." He smiled at Ivy. "Théodred is on patrol for another six days, but his family will come with Elboron. And a message has been sent to let Théodwyn know you are here."
"How is she?" asked Ivy.
"She is well," said the king. "Faramir's death hurt her deeply, but leaving Ithilien has helped, I think, though she still worries about your brothers."
"So do I," said Ivy sadly.
A door opened and the queen entered holding a baby in her arms. Two small girls--nearly identical--gripped Arwen's skirts. Ivy's sadness disappeared in a flash as she hurried over to the queen.
"Oh, they're beautiful!" Ivy exclaimed. She bent over to admire the little dark-haired girls. Though they were twelve, the same age as Ari, they looked to be only six. Elf children grew even slower than hobbits. Then Arwen handed Ivy the baby, and Ivy sat in a chair to fuss over him. Fari's sisters crowded around to look at Eldarion and it wasn't long before Willow asked, "Mum, can we get another baby?"
"Yes, can we?" exclaimed Éoleof.
Fari giggled when his dad's eyebrows raised and he exchanged looks with Ivy.
"Sorry, loves," Ivy said, "but I think we've had plenty of babies." Fari caught what seemed to be a sigh of relief from his dad.
Soon a woman came in to tell them that tea was ready and that the guests were arriving, so they filed back out into the hallway. Fari was put in charge of keeping Legolas and Gimli from chasing each other behind the tapestries. His sisters may think more babies would be a good idea, but as he caught his brothers by the backs of their collars to keep them in line, he agreed with Ivy that he had enough brothers and sisters.
The twins slipped from his grasp as soon as they entered the dining room. They raced across the room and into the arms of an elf and dwarf. Legolas and Gimli each swung their tiny namesakes up, making the boys laugh.
"Oy, but you're getting big!" exclaimed Gimli, which made young Gimli smile proudly.
"You're nearly as tall as your Uncle Gimli!" said Legolas, making the boys laugh again, and, after only the slightest scowl, the dwarf did too.
Ivy was embracing her sister tightly. Then Wyn introduced her husband, Gamon, and two-year-old Dierdre. Ivy patted her sister's round belly, excited that she'd be in Gondor when her sister gave birth.
Then Wyn took Ivy's hands and grinned. "I've brought a present for you!" she said to Ivy and went to a rear door. She opened the door and Ivy squealed when four ladies came out. They all rushed together in a group hug that involved a lot of crying and giggling. Fari hadn't seen Ivy act like that in years, not since before she'd gone to Gondor.
Ivy lead the ladies over to them. "These are my dear friends," she said to Fari's dad, "Kelian, Gwen, Eifa and Brenna." She took his father's hand. "This is Pippin," she said, "and these are our children, except for those two lurking back there who are my brothers."
Ivy introduced them all one-by-one, her friends cooing over each child. Fari sidled back to stand with Theo and Eomer, to avoid getting his cheeks pinched.
When Ivy introduced them, one of the ladies--Brenna?--gave them an appraising look. "They're quite handsome, Ivy. I bet they've got more girls chasing them than they know what to do with!" Ivy gave her a warning glare and one of the other ladies--Eifa--nudged Brenna hard and whispered, "Don't you remember Ivy's letter?" But Theo seemed unfazed by their comments and took Brenna's hand and kissed it. "But none of them are as lovely as you, my lady," he said, and winked at her. Fari gaped at him, wondering when the old Theo had come back. Judging by the looks on Eomer and Ivy's faces, they were wondering the same thing.
The rest of Ivy's family arrived just as they were sitting down to tea. Fari got a lump in his throat when he saw Elboron. He looked just like Faramir. Fari had always looked up to Faramir, being named after him and all, and his death had been hard to take.
Introductions were made to a whole new group of cousins and more room was made at the table for the new guests. Elboron's eldest son, Barahir, was sat next to Bori. Barahir was a year younger than Ari and proved to be a friendly, outgoing boy.
"I didn't realize I had so many cousins!" Barahir exclaimed, looking down the table. He smiled at Bori. "You're named after my Great Uncle Boromir. Have you ever seen him?"
"No," Bori said, a bit puzzled, "He's...well, he's..."
"Oh, no!" laughed the boy, "I meant his portrait. There's a painting of him in the Hall of Remembrance. There's one of my grandfather, too. You're named after him, right?" He turned his cheerful gaze onto Fari. Fari nodded. "We'll have to go, after tea maybe, and I'll show you. Uncle Peregrin is there as well."
Fari was thrown for a moment by the Gondorian boy calling his father 'uncle'. But Peregrin Took was his uncle, really, seeing as how Ivy was his aunt. Which also meant the boy was his cousin, too.
After tea they did go to the Hall of Remembrance. The paintings were fascinating, capturing moments in Gondor's history in amazing detail. The portraits of Boromir and Faramir hung side by side. Fari's dad stood quietly in front of them. The King stood next to him, a hand on his dad's shoulder. No words were said, but Fari knew they were both mourning their friends. Fari had often heard the story of how Boromir had died defending his dad and Uncle Merry against a horde of orcs.
Squeals of delight echoed around the room. Fari saw his younger siblings were crowded in front of a painting of four hobbits.
"That's Fari!" cried Estella, pointing excitedly at the painting.
"No, love, that's me," said their father, walking over and scooping up his youngest daughter. She looked from her father, to the painting, then back again, doubt on her face. "Yes, I really was young once!" he laughed. He reached over with his free arm and pulled Ivy close. "So that's it then, is it?" he asked, nodding towards the painting, then winking at Ivy. Fari had no idea what his father meant, but judging by Ivy's blush he probably didn't want to know.
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.