7. 20. Afterlithe 1368
20. Afterlithe 1368
"Are you sure this is a good idea?"
"Of course it is! Now, come in! You don't want our child to think that his or her father a coward."
Giving me a meaningful glance, Drogo finally dares some steps deeper into the river until the water almost reaches his chest. He draws in a deep breath and looks at me through pleading eyes. "Primula, I really think you shouldn't do this. I mean --"
I stop his pointless stammering and capture his sweet mouth in a deep kiss, placing my hand on his neck. It is a heartfelt kiss full, of love and desire, the type we have not shared in days. A warm wind tickles my wet skin letting little goose bumps appear on my arms as I finally release his lips. "Do you trust me?" I ask in a whisper and shiver as the wind blows a little stronger.
Golden sparks of the fading sunlight shimmering through the tree-tops dance on his beautiful face. "Yes." His voice is hoarse as he answers and just as I smile at him, he adds, "But --"
I do not allow him to finish his sentence and place my finger on his lips. "Don't you dare, Drogo Baggins," I scold, "Either you trust me, or you don't. There ain't no 'but' this evening."
Drogo takes a deep breath as if preparing to say something, but he remains silent. His hand, previously resting on my hip, slips away. I smile and take a step backwards to lay back into the summer-warmed water. It is not too deep close to the bank and only reaches up to my neck. I came here often as a child with my sisters and brothers and we could spend hours swimming in the shallows. Saradas once dared to swim into the deeper parts, despite my and my other sibling's warnings. Mother gave him an earful when he returned to shore and father a decent trashing when we got home.
"You will never do such foolish things, will you? You will keep out of mischief and always do as your mother wishes."
"Who are you talking to?" At the sound of my beloved's voice, I lift my head in surprise and feel for the ground with my feet. "Sorry, I didn't want to startle you," he says softly and places his hands back on my hips.
"You didn't startle me." Damp curls are sticking to my neck and back and I feel droplets of water trickling down my spine. "I was just talking to our little one again." He raises an eyebrow in mock amusement, but at the same moment smiles at me. There is so much love and joy in his eyes I cannot do other but embrace and kiss him again. "You know, I do that often of late. I spend entire afternoons speaking with our child while I wash your clothes, work in the garden or prepare dinner."
"You should not work too much, my dear," scolds Drogo, concern shading his otherwise calm voice. He reaches for my arm and though his touch is gentle there is an undeniable firmness in it as he deftly leads me out of the water. "You should not tire yourself out."
Reaching out for a towel, he flings it around my shoulders. I can tell he is worried and not only by the tone of his voice. Drogo is often away during the day arranging the work on the fields with my brother Rory. Yet, when he comes home in the evening he will not let me to do as much as clear the table, although he is more tired than I am. At times he is overly protective and sometimes I wonder what worries him more: the fact that anything could happen to me or that our baby could be troubled by something I do.
"I feel well, Drogo," I assure him while snuggling into the towel and sitting down in the soft grass. "There is nothing to worry about. And if you're worried about this evening, Gilda told me I could go to the river if I felt like it. She said it would help me to relax and I must say she was right."
He sighs heavily as he sits down beside me, a towel thrown over his own shoulders, and glances over to the river where tiny sparks of light glitter in the water. Something is on his mind, some trouble my words could not ease. The leaves rustle as a soft wind stirs them.
I am wearing a dress of the same design as the ones I used to wear swimming. In the soft wind that hums across the river, the thin, wet garment holds no warmth to my moist body and I shiver. Drogo absent-mindedly lays an arm around my shoulders and pulls me close. He shivers too, but if from cold or the thoughts that trouble him, I can not tell. "What is it, Drogo?"
He does not answer at once, but tightens his grip around my arm, allowing a silent fear to creep into my mind. It takes hold of my body like a cold hand squeezing my heart and soul. Looking at him, I realise Drogo's face is grim and a dark shadow lies upon it like a cloud. My heart is in my throat and I instinctively place a hand on my rounded belly as I try to swallow the lump that is building there. In the past weeks, something has been bothering him more than he lets on and I fear what the source of his worries might be. It pains me to see him like this just as it fills my heart with fear. The wind whistles in the tree-tops and the sound is eerie to my ears. Touching his cheeks, I force my husband to look at me and though he has lowered his gaze I search his eyes and am astounded to see unshed tears glitter there. Seeing him grief-stricken catches me unawares and I feel tears welling up inside me almost immediately. The noose of fear tightens around my breast. I want to say something, comfort him, but find no words when he suddenly pulls me into a tight embrace and begins to weep openly. For a moment I am totally taken aback being unable to move or comfort him or even breathe. When was the last time I saw him cry? Have I ever seen him cry at all? Tears well up inside me as I carefully fling my arms around him and try to soothe him. What happened? What has broken him when I need him strong and whole at my side?
"I'm sorry," he sobs releasing me from the embrace and avoiding looking into my eyes. "I did not mean to trouble you." He looks shaken and the sad and troubled expression on his face almost breaks my heart. Only now do I realise that my hands are trembling too.
"But you did," I answer, my voice choked with tears. "What is it, Drogo? What happened?" I know he can read in my troubled eyes like in an open book. "Please, tell me," I ask as he slowly lifts his head.
He sighs heavily and glances at the sparkling water again. The sun is sinking slowly and the eastern sky takes on a faint red. The trails of his tears glisten on his cheeks and I gently wipe them away with the back of my hand. The tight knot of fear lingers in my stomach and I can only hope that Drogo will tell me what the trouble is. I don't know what else I could do to comfort him.
"I'm worried," he finally confesses and looks into my eyes, his brow furrowed, "worried about you and," he swallows hard, casting a short glance on my belly, "our child."
I open my mouth to say something, to assure him that there is no need to worry, but find that I have lost my voice.
"I could not bear if you had another miscarriage."
My eyes widen. I had not thought about losing my child for a very long time and if I did, it has ever been Drogo who told me not to worry and that everything will be all right. He was strong when I was too weak and desperate to fight my lingering fears. But now he is the one who is thinking the worst. I never thought he would worry about this as much as I did, never imagined how deep his worries went. Without thinking, I cup his face with my hands and kiss him. He closes his eyes, allowing another tear to trickle down his cheeks.
"I will not lose our child, Drogo, not this time," I whisper when I release his lips after what seems like an endless moment.
He swallows heavily and rests his head on my breast where I hold him close and gently caress his face. My dear Drogo always tried to be strong for me. I wonder how long he has kept his thoughts secret. Gently his hand strokes my belly, but our baby does not respond.
"We wanted to have a child for so long and it broke my heart to see you suffer all those years. But now--," he pauses to take a deep breath. "I mean, I've never felt my child before, nor seen you change so clearly. I can't get the thought of our baby out of my mind and I can't wait to hold the little one in my arms and," he takes another haggard breath and I feel him tremble beneath my touch, "I could not bear if all our hopes were scattered again."
I know his worries, know them all too well, but I also know how to quench them. Taking a deep, relieved breath, I look at him gravely and know he must see some of the hope I hold in my eyes. "They will not be scattered, Drogo. I can feel that they won't. You might not understand, but I know that our child is well. Nothing will happen this time. I have never felt the way I feel now and I can assure you, I will not do anything I don't feel up to. I was worried about our child as well, but I am no more, because I know that everything is well. I can understand him, Drogo. Our child lets me know when something is amiss and, so far, everything is just as it has to be. Gilda is very enthusiastic too. She said, in two months at the latest, our child will be born and I don't think that anything will go wrong until then. Not when I am feeling the way I feel now."
"Are you sure?" His voice is still weak and doubtful. If only he would believe me. If only he could feel what I do.
I cup his face and lean my forehead against his, looking directly into his green eyes. "Yes," I whisper and place a gentle kiss on his lips, "this time, I am."
A shiver runs through him as the wind dries the last droplets of water on his bare chest. He has closed his eyes and for a long moment there is nothing but the whisper of the wind and the silent gurgling of the water.
When he opens his eyes again a sudden smile brightens his features and it is all I need to forget my knot of fear and all our worries. He believes me. "So, wife," he tells impishly, "if you know so much, can you tell me if you are expecting a little boy or a girl?"
"A boy," I answer matter-of-factly though I have no idea. It is good to see him smile and the confused look he gives me now makes me giggle. "Or perhaps it will be a girl. Whence shall I know you silly hobbit?"
Without further explanations I clumsily wriggle out of his embrace and hurry back to the river. Tiny drops of water sparkling in many different colours splash into every direction. I stop and turn to look at my husband expectantly. Drogo is still sitting in the grass, though now he supports his body with his elbows. "Drogo Baggins, will you cast aside your worries and get into that water!"
He grins impishly and demonstratively brushes some drops of water off his trousers. Shaking my head I send a handful of water into his direction. "Sluggard!"
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.