4. Winter Wonderland
When it snows, ain't it thrilling,
Though your nose gets a chilling
We'll frolic and play, the Eskimo way,
walking in a winter wonderland. – Smith and Barnard
One cold winter's morning and the King and Queen of the Reunited Kingdom lay curled in each other's arms, loth to leave their warm bed. For once, Aragorn had no official duties until the afternoon and could rise at a leisurely pace.
"The baby is kicking," said Arwen, referring to the child she was expecting in a few weeks' time. "Eldarion will have a lively playmate!"
"How blessed I am to have you, our son and another little one soon," said Aragorn kissing her tenderly.
"I hope we can fill our home with children to share our love with," said Arwen.
A tap came on their bedroom door disturbing their peace.
"My lord, my lady!" a servant called. "Prince Eldarion is upset and his nurse requests that you come."
Aragorn slid out of bed, pulling a thick robe over his nightshirt. "You stay there, my love, " he said. " I will fetch our son to us."
Aragorn found his son kicking and screaming in the hands of his nurse.
"What is the meaning of this, ion-nîn?" the King asked sternly.
"I want to go out and play in the snow and nanny won't let me!" Eldarion raged. "It isn't fair! I've never seen snow before and I don't want to stay in bed! I won't!" He stomped a bare foot defiantly.
"I deemed it unwise to expose the Prince to such weather this soon after a cold," the woman replied in a weary voice. Mistress Idril had joined the household three months past, after Eldarion's beloved first nanny had grown too old and frail to keep up with the child. It seemed this woman, the sister of the governess of Hurin's grand-daughters, was not up to the task either, though she was but in her middle years.
"Come here, Eldarion! " Aragorn ordered. His heir shuffled over to him, small hands clenched into fists. Aragorn placed his hand on the boy's forehead. "Hmm, he seems well enough. Has he coughed or sneezed this morning?"
"No, my lord, not since last Tuesday," said the nanny.
"Some fresh air should do him good then so long as he is warmly dressed, " Aragorn said briskly. "Eldarion, tell Mistress Idril that you are sorry and then I will take you outside after breakfast." He decided to discuss with Arwen whether it was time to find a nanny better able to control her young charge's temper and less eager to mollycoddle him. He had no desire for his heir to grow up wilful and over cosseted.
"I am sorry," Eldarion said obediently with a polite bow.
"I will take him to his mother now," said the King.
Aragorn swept up the child in his arms and carried him back to the bedchamber where a somewhat anxious Arwen awaited them.
"What ails him? Is he ill?" the Queen enquired, putting her arms around her young son when Aragorn placed him in the bed between them. "What is wrong, ion nîn?" she enquired of Eldarion.
"I'm going to see the snow!" the boy exclaimed joyfully. "Nanny would let me go out but ada says I can!"
Aragorn laughed. "His nanny feared it would be bad for his health, but snow never did me any harm as a boy. It seems wondrous when you are young, but not when you have to travel long distances in it," he said. "You were just a baby the last time it snowed in Gondor. It used to snow every winter in the North where naneth and I grew up."
"What is snow made of?" Eldarion asked.
"It is frozen rain. Water turns to ice when it is very cold," Arwen explained.
"You can play lots of special games in the snow," said the King. "I will show you as soon as we have dressed and eaten our breakfast."
Eldarion beamed. It was not often his father had time to spend the morning with him
After breakfast, Aragorn and Eldarion, both warmly clothed, went outside into the Royal Family's private gardens. The sun was now shining and the white covered garden looked quite magical. The snow shimmered like diamonds in the winter sunshine.
Clutching tightly to his father's hand, Eldarion walked through the snow as gingerly as a cat that disliked getting its feet wet. The young Prince was somewhat reassured when he found he could walk on it without falling. His father scooped some of the snow up to reveal that underneath; the grass was still there.
"When I was your age, I loved the snow," Aragorn told his son. "Sometimes I would be excused lessons and allowed to play outside making snowballs."
"What is a snowball?" asked Eldarion.
"I will show you." The King formed a handful of snow into a ball and threw it at a tree. Rather wistfully, he recalled all the times when as a grown man, he had gained a respite from his cares as Chieftain by engaging in a lively snowball fight with Halbarad. He missed his friend and kinsman still, though Faramir had filled the yawning gap left in his heart. He could hardly engage in a snowball fight with his Steward, though. There were always watching eyes and wagging tongues ever on the look out for behaviour considered unseemly for a King or a Steward in Gondor. He only dared to be less than regal during his times away from the Citadel. He missed the simplicity of the North with its lack of stifling court etiquette.
Just then, Faramir and his daughter Elestelle joined them in response to a message Aragorn had sent. The Steward and his family were staying in the Citadel for the Mettarë celebrations. Elestelle ran towards Aragorn. He scooped her up in his arms and hugged her. The little girl smiled happily, looking delightful in a blue fur trimmed cloak.
Eldarion scowled. "Girls!" he muttered under his breath.
Aragorn put Elestelle down and turned to speak to Faramir.
The moment his father's back was turned, Eldarion scooped up the snow as his father had shown him and hurled it at Elestelle's back. It hit her on the shoulder and splattered all over her pretty cloak. Elestelle's lower lip trembled, but she maintained a composure worthy of a daughter of two great Houses.
"Boys!" she said with all the scorn she could muster.
"Eldarion!" chided his father, "That was very naughty of you. We shall return indoors if you do not behave!"
"I just wanted to play," said Eldarion. "I'm sorry, ada."
"You told me of making a snowman in your youth, mellon nîn," Faramir said to the King. " Could we make one with our children?"
"An excellent idea!" enthused the King and set to work with a will on the body, helped by his son, while Faramir and his daughter made the head. Both children worked happily, their earlier quarrel quickly forgotten
The fathers then took their children to the kitchens to ask the servants for coal and a carrot. The little ones watched wide-eyed as their fathers gave the snowman eyes, a nose and a mouth. They then gathered twigs to make him some arms.
"Doesn't he need clothes to keep him warm?" asked Elestelle.
"He has to be cold or he will melt and turn back into water," Faramir explained.
"Poor snowman!" said Elestelle sadly.
Aragorn and Faramir exchanged glances. It was maybe time to take the children back indoors before they became too attached to their snowman that would most likely be melted by the morrow.
Just then, an older girl came running towards them. It was Faramir's niece. "Uncle Faramir, Strider!" Elbeth exclaimed. " Aunt Éowyn said I might miss a Quenya lesson and play in the snow for a while. Their Nurses are waiting for Eldarion and Elestelle with hot milk and buns."
The younger children made only token protests at being taken back indoors. Their hands, feet and noses were starting to feel cold.
While the two men were absent, Elbeth made two snowballs then concealed herself behind the snowman.
As soon as the King and Steward came into sight, she hurled snowballs in quick succession at them, hitting both with deadly accuracy.
"Elbeth!" exclaimed Faramir, slightly winded from the impact of the snowball.
"This calls for revenge!" Aragorn exclaimed, hurling a snowball back at Elbeth. She ducked and successfully avoided it. Grabbing another handful of snow, she threw another at the King. This time he dodged it and it hit Faramir instead.
All thoughts of decorum forgotten, the two men replied in kind. A fierce snowball fight was soon in progress as they strove to hurl snowballs at Elbeth and each other.
From an upstairs window, Arwen watched smiling as the three outside frolicked in the snow as if they were all as young as Elbeth. It seemed that even Kings and Stewards remained little boys at heart."You will be born into a happy home," she whispered tenderly to her unborn child.
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.