The Ides of March: 9. Heartland

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9. Heartland

Author's Notes: Write a story or poem or create a piece of artwork reflecting identification with or connection to one's land, country or culture.

Heartland

The low-slung barracks tug him with their familiarity, but she has insisted upon a room in the house proper, and he's so tired from the journey and the change, he can only nod.

The chamber at the end of the east wing is larger than his talan: all high ceiling and dark beams. Half a dozen could dwell here with ease, but he thanks her anyway. Avoiding the marble monstrosity in the garderobe with its pipes that hum and chortle to themselves, he tends his ablutions with basin and cloth and feels clean enough. The bed of eiderdown suffocates him though until, in desperation, he takes a blanket and pillow to the floor.

The servants cast glances at him askance when they think he's not looking. He cares not. Two-hundred years on the line, and he never let one of the camp aides do for him what he could do for himself. And he'd be damned if he started getting complacent about it now. 'That is not how it is done,' one of the maids, a thin slip of a girl, tells him once. 'It is not suitable, sir.' But after the third day, they leave him in peace. He has a feeling she has slipped them an extra penny or two in reparation.

He brings his own knife to meals until a neighbor nudges him and points out half a dozen utensils alongside the plates. To his relief, if meals are formal, they are not obligatory, and he often slips into the kitchens to avail himself of the matron's favor, her excellent stews and a snifter of brandy.

He falls in readily enough with the men of the barracks. There is a familiar world. Drinks and dice and songs and stories. He can offer something there without having to contort himself into this world with its too-bright colors and overlarge rooms, nosy servants and ridiculous dinners.

Sometimes, he thinks of Lórien, as he never thought of it when he fit within its confines. In Imladris he is the stranger-even in the barracks. Even when time passes, and he knows the rules, and he doesn't bring his knife to the table anymore, and if the servants run a brush over his boots every now and again, he feigns not to notice. He worries he is growing complacent and still sleeps on the floor to make up for it.

If she laughs at his ways, she has the grace not to do so in front of him. Or maybe it is his strangeness that draws her in the first place. He is not part of this world that is hers, and she doesn't expect him to be. She sits on the floor amidst his made-up sheets with her knees tucked up and lays her cool hand against his chest where his pulse knocks. He puts his mouth under her jaw to taste the warm beat against his lips. At least there, there is no difference between them.

There is home.

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.

Story Information

Author: Marchwriter

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 2nd Age - Rings

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 05/12/12

Original Post: 06/07/11

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