20. Needs go that the devil drives
Needs go that the devil drives. - Shakespeare
Despite feeling exceedingly weary, Faramir made his way outside to where Súlion was waiting in the garden. Smilingly, he informed the dragon that Farawyn and Aragorn were much recovered, then patted Súlion's nose, and praised the creature for his help. Súlion visibly preened, his massive chest swelling with pride.
"May I see the small one again?" the dragon asked, obviously taken with the little girl.
"I will speak to the King." Faramir had not the heart to tell him that it was unlikely Arwen would permit it and banish him back to his field.
He then told the dragon that his breakfast would be brought out to him shortly. The Steward gave Súlion a final pat on the nose. Feeling he had performed all his duties as best he could, Faramir sought his bed for some much-needed rest.
Fortunately, the Faramir had no engagements that day and he was able to sleep for several hours and partake of a leisurely belated breakfast in his chamber at around noon. Now that Arwen had returned and the City was calm, he decided that if he found Aragorn fully recovered, he would ask if he could spend a few days in Ithilien with Éowyn and their children. There were no Council meetings scheduled until next week. Faramir missed his lady and his children greatly and yearned to see them again. No doubt, Éowyn would berate him soundly over Súlion, but that could not be helped.
Faramir was still anxious about Aragorn so as soon as he had finished eating, he made his way to the King's chambers. He was uncertain how the Queen would receive him, but he did not regret his words the night before.
When the Steward was shown into the royal apartments, the Queen was sitting on her favourite rocking chair working at her embroidery. She greeted Faramir warmly, seemingly having forgiven his harsh words of the night before. Aragorn was sprawled on the couch by the window, his long legs drawn up to accommodate Farawyn who was playing at his feet with her favourite doll. A book was in his hands, but he was paying little attention to it because of the two kittens, one ginger and one grey, that were curled up asleep on his chest.
Faramir's heart delighted at the sight. It had been a long time since Aragorn had looked so contented and at peace with himself. A joyful smile further lit up Aragorn's face when he beheld his visitor. He made to get to his feet.
"Do not disturb the kittens, mellon nîn," Faramir said.
"It seems that kittens command even kings," said Arwen. "Farawyn has quite worn Estel out demanding that he play "horsey" with her all morning."
Mewing with feline indignation at being disturbed, the kittens clambered down on to the floor and ran to the door, with Farawyn in hot pursuit. Arwen called for the nursemaid to take the little girl to the nursery together with the kittens.
Aragorn rose to his feet and embraced his friend. "Yet again, you stood by me in my hour of need, ion nîn. We have taken many chances in our lives, you and I, but never before had my heart so feared the outcome." His voice was thick with emotion.
"Where should I be but at your side when the need is great?" Faramir replied, hugging Aragorn in return. He then turned to the Queen. "My lady, how fared my wife when you last saw her?"
"She was well, but very near her time," Arwen replied. "I cannot tarry here long as I must return to her ere the babe comes."
Faramir felt a slight chill of fear at the mention of the impending event. His daughter would not have drawn breath had Aragorn not been there, while Éowyn had fallen gravely ill after their son's birth. Faramir had been so troubled that despite greatly enjoying the intimacies of marriage with her, he had offered to henceforth treat her as a sister to protect her health, but Éowyn would not hear of it.
Arwen smiled reassuringly at him. "I am certain you have no cause to worry," she said. She put down her embroidery and got up from the chair glancing out of the window as she did so. "Whatever is that monster doing in my garden?" she exclaimed.
"Eating his breakfast, my lady, he is hungry after his exertions last night," said Faramir.
"He must depart as soon as he has finished eating," the Queen said sternly. "I will not…" Before she could say any more, a loud knock was heard on the door.
"Come in!" called Arwen.
A flustered looking maid entered. "My lady, a rider has just arrived from Ithilien with an urgent message for you." She thrust a rather grubby parchment into the Queen's outstretched hand. "He begs that you read it at once."
Arwen broke the seal and read aloud "Dear Aunt Arwen, I hope Uncle Aragorn made Farawyn better. Please can you come back as quickly as possible, as Aunt Éowyn is having pains, though she is trying to disguise it. I think she is going to have the baby and the midwife is ill with a fever while Mistress Elwen is very old and, though I've seen kittens born and helped Aunt Éowyn with a foal, I don't think I know enough to deliver a baby,
Your devoted friend and subject, Elbeth."
Faramir turned increasingly pale as she read.
"I must return to Ithilien at once!" cried Arwen. "Morwen, tell the groom to saddle Snowflower. We will also require horses for Farawyn's nurse and the guards. I will go and change into my riding clothes and I…"
"Arwen," Aragorn interrupted. "You will never get there in time. You would need Shadowfax, not your gentle mare. Éowyn's other babies both arrived quickly, if you recall?"
"Elbeth could be mistaken. She is only a young girl."
Aragorn shook his head. "I doubt she would send you a letter without good cause. She has been interested in the healing arts since she was a small child and she is a sensible, level- headed girl. I fear Éowyn is indeed in labour."
"I need a swifter horse then. Roheryn or Iavas would bear me there faster than Snowflower."
"There is a way you could get there in time for the birth," said Faramir, glancing out of the window.
Arwen followed his gaze. Súlion loomed like a miniature mountain blocking out much of her view of the garden. He was just finishing his meal and his jaws were streaked with blood.
"You cannot mean that I should ride that creature?" Arwen exclaimed in horror.
"He would bear you to Ithilien within minutes rather than hours," Aragorn said quietly.
"But to ride upon a dragon? Never!" Arwen said angrily.
"Súlion is goodhearted. He saved both your husband's and your daughter's lives," Faramir replied. "Lady Arwen, I do not want to lose my wife and child! I beg of you to go to Éowyn with all haste!" Faramir struggled to control his emotions. Until the dragon had arrived in Minas Tirith, the Queen had been the wisest and kindest woman he had ever known, a true friend to both Éowyn and himself. Faramir slid to his knees. "Please, my lady!"
"I love Éowyn as a sister, but you know not what you ask of me, Faramir," Arwen said in a gentler tone. "It would not serve your lady if I were to agree to ride the monster, as I would most surely fall from its back!"
"I would not let you and neither would Súlion," said Aragorn.
Just then, a giant head appeared at the open window. Arwen gave a cry of alarm. "I would have you know that I have never permitted anyone to fall from my back. I am no careless rutting stallion, nor a nasty dromedary!" the dragon said indignantly. "Not that I desire to carry this woman upon my back. She is most rude and uncouth, though at least she looks like a female should this time." He eyed Arwen balefully. Only the blue gown she wore seemed to meet with his approval, maybe because it was of a similar shade to the markings on his wings and his bright eyes.
Arwen gave a squawk of indignation, before collecting herself.
"Peace, vanimelda, there is no need for alarm," said Aragorn. Do you want every guard and servant to come running for miles around?"
"I am going back to my field now," said the dragon huffily." I know when I am not wanted.
"Please, Súlion, wait!" begged Faramir, "My lady is about to bear my child and their lives might be in danger if Lady Arwen does not reach her in time!"
"Does your wife scream and scold as much as this one does?" the dragon enquired.
"She is the most valiant of ladies. She smote the Witch King and his Fell beast," Faramir said proudly.
"Those monsters were a disgrace to all dragon kind!" Súlion said vehemently. "Your lady is to be commended for her deed."
"Please then will you bear Lady Arwen and her husband swiftly to her side?" Faramir pleaded.
Arwen had started at the dragon's words and their obvious sincerity.
"Hummp," snorted the dragon. "Maybe as you ask, I will consider it, Faramir, but only if she carries no weapons and is polite to me!"
"Please, vanimelda," begged Aragorn. "We can delay no longer. With every moment that we stand arguing, the fate of Éowyn and her unborn child lies in the balance! Do we not owe Faramir a great deal for the many times he has aided us? We cannot fail him now in his hour of need."
Arwen was silent for a moment, reflecting she would most likely be a widow by now were it not for the Steward's courage and loyalty. "You are certain it will not harm me?" she said at last.
"I am a he, not an it!" Súlion interrupted crossly. "I have had my dinner and most certainly would not want a scrawny morsel like you for a dessert!"
"But what about Farawyn?" Arwen objected. "She cannot ride with me upon the dragon and she needs me. And would not Faramir wish to hasten to his lady's side?"
"I will accompany Farawyn and her nurse," said Faramir. "Much as I desire to see Éowyn, you and Aragorn will be of far greater use to her and the baby. A birthing chamber is no place for a man."
"Indeed it is not," Arwen agreed. "But you will wish to see your lady as soon as the child is born."
"I will ride Iavas. She can fly like the wind while Farawyn and her nurse with their guards can follow us behind in a wagon."
"Go now and get ready," Aragorn begged his wife before she could think of any further objections to raise. "I will help you prepare for the journey." He hurried her from the room.
"I'm not sure at all that I desire to take her flying; she is so very rude!" Súlion grumbled.
"You will enjoy the flight to where I live," Faramir soothed, reaching out to caress the dragon's nose. "Maybe you will see Eldarion there. You liked him, did you not?"
"A nice, polite boy, not at all like his mother," Súlion agreed.
"Once you get to know Lady Arwen, I am sure you will grow to like her," Faramir said hopefully. "She is a wise and kind lady. She simply knows nothing of dragons."
"Neither did you, but you did not behave like she has done!" Súlion retorted.
"I have not lived as long as she has nor have I been so carefully taught that your kind mean I harm," said Faramir. "I have heard tales of Smaug, though, who devoured everything in his path. I have concluded though, that your kind is not so different from mine. We both have the potential to do good or ill."
The discussion was interrupted by the return of Aragorn and Arwen who were dressed in travelling clothes. Arwen wore a pair of her husband's breeches beneath her gown.
"Farawyn is having her nap," Arwen told Faramir. "The nurse is going to give her a light meal and then you follow us on horseback. It is still chill at night and she needs…"
"Come, we must delay no longer," said Aragorn. "Farewell for a little while. We will do all we can to ensure Éowyn brings your little one safely into the world."
"I know you will, mellon nîn, but I fear for them," said Faramir.
"Be of good cheer!" Aragorn embraced him and then called through the window to Súlion "We are coming now."
Faramir stood watching as Aragorn and his ashen faced Queen made their way towards the dragon. Súlion lowered his head and Aragorn lifted Arwen aloft and then climbed on after her and clasped his arms around her waist. The dragon flapped his wings and soared aloft.
A/n. You can see Rachel's beautiful illustration for this chapter on my website at
or at my LJ
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