Inside a room, in the palace of Gondor, a fire blazed merrily, bathing the patrons in both warmth and a soft glow. At a table sat two figures. One of the figures, curiously enough, emitted a soft glow of his own, revealing him as an Elf, one of the firstborn of Middle Earth. Pale blonde hair, normally drawn back in warrior braids, hung loose around his shoulders. He was clothed in a velvet robe of pale gray, his booted feet tucked under him. Bright blue eyes stared intently at the chessboard in front of him. Across from the Elf sat a Man. He was thin, bordering on skinny but he had the lean strength of a warrior. His hair was a light brown just brushing the tops of his shoulders. Light blue eyes studied the board in what was easily recognized as a scholar's gaze. He was clothed in soft leggings and a tunic baring the design of the White Tree of Gondor, revealing him to be Steward to the King.
Lazily watching the chess game was another Man. He reclined, relaxed on one of the large, cushioned couches near the fire. Long blonde hair, reaching to mid-back was pulled away from his face in a low ponytail. He was dressed casually in a plain tunic and trousers befitting a warrior. Though no crown adorned his head this Man was the king of Rohan. Across from him, leaning against the fireplace stood two companions who differed greatly. The first was dressed similarly to the Elf, in velvet robes of deep, dark blue. He was clearly a Man though he carried himself with a regal air, showing that he was, in fact, the king of Gondor. He was relaxed, crown forgotten, grey eyes soaking in the company of those around him, pipe in hand. Next to the king stood a figure that reached to just about his shoulder. His companion's fiery red hair and braided beard showed him to be from the race of Dwarves. The Dwarf puffed away on his pipe, eyes crinkled in amusement from his observation of the chess game and conversation circulating the room.
The last four members of the room sat in front of the fireplace. None of them were Men, Elves or Dwarves. They were known as Hobbits. Two curly brown heads, one black, as well as one blonde were darting around the room in the direction of whoever was speaking at the time. Large feet were being warmed by the fire and a fast-dwindling plate of food sat between them. The room's atmosphere was relaxed and happy, everyone forgetting their duties and woes and merely enjoying each other's company.
Eomer watched as Legolas captured one of Faramir's pawns, sipping from his goblet filled with wine that the Elf prince had brought with him. He picked up the conversation where it had left off mere seconds before, "I understand that she's with child but every time I see her she seems to be...bigger...and more pregnant than before. It's a bit intimidating."
"A word of advice mellon-nin," Legolas said softly, eyes never leaving the game, "Never tell her that."
"Aye," Gimli chuckled from his place of banishment near the fireplace. Legolas had put both Aragorn and Gimli as far from himself as possible when the pipes came out, "There are a few words you avoid when speaking with a Lass that's with child."
"Large," Aragorn said from next to him.
Faramir moved another piece and looked up, "Big."
"Huge," Merry offered, before tossing a grape into the air and catching it in his mouth.
Legolas sipped from his own goblet, eyes raising from the chessboard to look around the room, "Use words like glowing."
"Beautiful," Sam piped in from his place on the floor.
"Radiant," Aragorn finished off, "And never, from personal experience, use the phrase 'You look fine for a woman who is pregnant'. You will regret it."
Legolas looked at Aragorn and raised an eyebrow, "Please tell me you weren't stupid enough to say that to Arwen."
Aragorn stayed silent and the Elf prince gave a very unElf-like snort, "I'm surprise she left you alive to tell the tale."
Aragorn gave him a dirty look before turning back to Eomer, "Are you nervous?"
Eomer shrugged slightly, "On occasion. I don't have much experience with children...the last baby I held was Wyn...and I was four at the time. I'm not entirely sure I'll know how to be a father. My father died when I was young and he was frequently away on hunts. After his death Theoden helped raise us but..." He took another drink of wine before shrugging again, "It will be interesting I'm sure, having an heir."
"Any thoughts on whether it's a boy or girl?" Faramir asked.
"I have no ideas. Lothiriel keeps saying it's a boy and I've learned lately to just agree with her."
The room broke into soft laughter before Sam spoke, "It's rewarding...being a father, I mean."
The fathers all nodded in agreement and the room once again lapsed into a comfortable silence. Hearing a soft noise from the slightly opened door, Frodo glanced over. Peeking in was a small blonde head belonging to a child that appeared to be about 3 to 4 years old. The child caught Frodo's eye and gave him a bright smile. Frodo smiled softly in return before speaking up, "We have a visitor."
All the heads swiveled to the door and Aranestarion, eldest son of Legolas crept in. Noticing his father, the Elfling broke into a run, launching himself into Legolas's arms. The Elfling was clad in his night clothes, his feet bare. He arranged himself on his father's lap before Legolas spoke, "I distinctly remember putting you in your bed. Why aren't you asleep?"
Aranestarion looked around the room, clearly trying to come up with something creative. Looking at his father the Elfling relented and told the truth, "I am not tired yet. Can I stay with you?"
Legolas sighed, "I'm sure no one here wants to be bothered."
"He never bothers us," Pippin piped up from the floor.
Frodo and Sam gave him a look.
"He's trying to get him back to sleep," Sam explained quietly.
Aranestarion looked at his father with pleading, massive blue eyes, "Please? I promise I won't get up early tomorrow!"
"I highly doubt that...but against my better judgement...you can stay up for a bit," Legolas relented.
Aranestarion's face lit up and he hopped off his father's lap to run to Aragorn who had his arms out to catch him. The Elfling skidded to a stop the moment he noticed the pipe. The tiny nose wrinkled in disgust, "That smells."
Aragorn gave Legolas a look and the Elf merely smiled in response. After assuring that both Aragorn and Gimli's pipes were no longer emitting that horrid smell Aranestarion broke into a run again, flinging himself at Aragron who caught him and tossed him high in the air. The Elfling giggled happily as he was caught once again and hugged his beloved 'uncle' around the neck. Aragorn merely shook his head in amusement, "You are far too much like your father."
Aranestarion's forehead crinkled at that statement, "Nana and Daeradar say that all the time too."
"Speaking of Nana," Legolas broke in, "Does she know where you are?"
His son's guilty face told him all he needed to know and the Greenwood Prince sighed. Aranestarion did his best to cover his tracks, "Nana was with Aunt Arwen. I did not want to bother her."
Aragorn flipped the child upside down, tickling him, "He's fine. He knows his way around the palace better than I do."
Legolas gave his friend a look, "If you rile him up, you're putting him to bed."
Aragorn rolled his eyes good-naturedly as Aranestarion walked up his legs and flipped himself over, giggling wildly the whole time, "He's fine. Right, Starion?"
"Right!" The Elfling chirped, hanging upside down.
"Remind me to get Eldarion a drum," Legolas muttered, turning his attention back to the chess game. Eventually Aranestarion tired of flipping himself over and leg go of Aragorn's hands, dropping back down the the ground. He pounced on Gimli who flipped him over one shoulder like a sack, making the child squeal in happiness. The Dwarf, like everyone else in the room, was a cherished 'uncle'. He could often be seen wandering around with the Elfling on his back, something they both enjoyed doing while the child was still smaller than him. Once Aranestarion's feet were on the ground Gimli slipped him a piece of rock candy that he always had on him for that reason. The Elfling's face lit up and he popped the candy into his mouth. Legolas watched his son with a watchful eye and a smile, "Candy, Gimli? Really?"
Gimli dismissed him, "I always have candy for him. It's tradition now."
The Elf merely shook his head and Aranestarion gave him a bright smile. He was heading toward his father when he was snatched around the middle and flipped over Aragorn's shoulder. Aranestarion giggled and struggled in the king grasp but he was held tight. Aragorn strode across the room and deposited the child onto Eomer's lap. The King of Rohan pinned the child on his lap, tickling him mercilessly. Aranestarion laughed uncontrollably, reaching for Legolas, "Ada! Save me!"
Eomer held the child down as he tried to escape, "Your father can't help you. You're being held prisoner."
Aranestarion wiggled out of his grip and fell onto the floor, crawling to safety behind Merry and Pippin. The child collapsed on his back, still giggling. Faramir watched the exchange between Aranestarion and his brother-by-marriage with a smile. He looked at Eomer, his grin growing, "Don't have much experience with children, huh? You seemed to be doing fine with Starion."
Eomer shrugged, "He's different. I've never seen him misbehave."
Legolas raised an eyebrow, "He snuck out of his bed and crept in here after his bedtime. I'd call that misbehaving."
Eomer chuckled, "But he's cute so he gets away with it. Right Starion?"
Aranestarion looked up from where he was wrestling with Merry and Pippin, "Huh?"
"Just say 'right'," Eomer told him.
"Right!" the Elfling echoed before he was pounced on by Pippin.
Eomer turned back to Legolas with a grin, "See?"
"Eomer?" Aranestarion interjected from the floor.
The blonde's head swiveled to look at the child, "Hm?"
The Elfling looked up at him with large, hopeful eyes, "Can you take me riding tomorrow? Please?"
"Ion-nin, I'm sure Eomer has things to do tomorrow. He might not have the time, "Legolas explained.
"It's fine," Eomer said with a glance back at the Elf prince, "I've got nothing to do. Firefoot would enjoy the chance to stretch his legs."
The child cheered, "Riding with Eomer is always fun! He goes fast, Ada, and jumps fences."
Eomer glanced back at Legolas with a sheepish grin, "I always make sure he's safe."
"I'm sure," Legolas turned back to the game, frequently glancing over to his son with a soft smile. The young prince currently had a full audience as he showed off his tumbling skills, doing cartwheels and summersaults and getting a round of applause from the Hobbits as he finished. He did a spectacular summersault before nearly crashing into the fireplace, only being saved by the quick reflexes of Merry. Legolas stood and plucked his child from the floor, "And that's the end of the tumbling show. If you ask very nicely Frodo and Sam might be willing to tell you a story."
Frodo couldn't help but smile at the eager look he got, "You don't even need to ask. What story would you like to hear?"
Frodo soon had a lap full of Elfling as the child scrambled from his father's arms to join the Hobbits on the floor, "The one where there was the giant thing that came out of the water and tried to eat you so Ada had to shoot it!"
Sam chuckled, "It looks like you know that story already."
Aranestarion shook his head, blonde hair flying, "You tell it better."
Frodo laughed and began, "We were outside of Moria and Gandalf couldn't get the doors to open..."
Legolas watched his son with an affectionate smile as Frodo and Sam told the story, toning it down for small ears. Pippin and Merry interjected with some detail or another and Aranestarion listened with wide eyes. Legolas was brought out of his observation by Faramir, "Legolas!"
The Elf's head whipped back to the Steward, "My apologies, what?"
Faramir just smiled, "It's your move."
Faramir turned to look at Aranestarion, his smile growing, "He's precious. Really."
Legolas chuckled, "Is it wrong to say I agree?"
Aragorn, who had moved to sit next to the Elf soon after depositing Aranestarion on Eomer's lap, replied, "No. Just the sign of a good father."
Legolas just smiled into his goblet as he took another drink. Everyone watched as Starion listened to the end of the story, hugged both Frodo and Sam around the neck, and ran over to Legolas, climbing onto his lap. Legolas went to put his goblet down before Aranestarion grabbed it and peered into it, "What is it?"
Legolas plucked it out of his son's grasp, "Wine."
Aranestarion tilted his head back so he could look up at his father, "Can I have some?"
"Two reasons. You're too young and if your Naneth finds out I gave you wine she'll kill me. Two: you won't like it."
Aranestarion frowned, "But it looks like juice."
Legolas smiled, "I promise it doesn't taste like juice."
The frown only deepened, "But I like the cup."
Aragorn held back laughter as Legolas sighed, "You can have your juice in it tomorrow morning."
The little face broke into a massive grin and he leaned back into his father's embrace, staring up at him, "You hair isn't braided."
Legolas moved a piece on the chessboard as he responded, "Nay. It's not."
"I don't braid it if I don't have to. It's nighttime and I'm not fighting."
"When can I have warrior braids like you?"
Legolas smiled, "When you're a warrior."
The little frown came back, "But that's gonna take too long."
Gimli, Faramir, and Aragorn shared a smile and Legolas held back a laugh, "Hold still, ion-nin."
Nimble fingers began putting a small braid into the Elfling's blonde hair and the child nearly vibrated with excitement. Legolas tied it back with a leather tie given to him by Gimli and his son beamed, "Do I look like Ada?"
The Hobbits all shared a grin with each other before Sam spoke, "Just like him."
If possible, he beamed brighter. Legolas reached around his son to move another chess piece and his Starion watched as Faramir did the same, "What are you doing?"
"Playing chess," Faramir responded, "Your Ada is winning."
Aranestarion watched them play for a minute before beginning to rock on his father's lap, clearly growing bored. Aragorn watched him with a smile, "I have drawing paper and charcoal on my desk if you want to go draw."
The Elfling jumped from his father's lap and ran off, eager to have something else to do. Legolas watched to until his son was settled on the floor, drawing happily before turning back to the game, "So Sam, how is Rosie enjoying her first time away from home?"
Sam couldn't help the smile that crept onto his face at the mention of his wife, "She likes it. She was a bit nervous, of course, leaving the Shire, but she seems to really be enjoying herself. Has a bit of an adventurer in her I reckon."
"Elanor is an adorable little thing," Faramir complimented, making the Hobbit Gardener blush slightly.
"Aye," Eomer agreed, "I've never seen a baby smile that much."
Sam ducked his head slightly and smiled, "Thank you."
Aragorn leaned back into his chair, sipping from his wine, "We're going to have more children than we know what to do with running around soon."
Eomer began counting, "We've already got Aranestarion, Telgalad, Eldarion, and Elanor. Lothiriel, Eowyn, Rosie, Arwen and Galadhwen are all with child."
"Merry and Pippin are both getting married. They'll soon be having children of their own," Gimli added.
Faramir opened his mouth to speak when a shriek cut him off, "Ada! Liante!"
Legolas flew out of his chair, catching the knife Faramir tossed him from inside his boot. Aragorn, Gimli, and Eomer followed, the Rohan king vaulting over the back of the couch. Faramir stood and pulled out another knife that he had on his belt. Pippin looked at the son of Denethor, all of the Hobbits on their feet the moment they heard the cry, "What does liante mean?"
Faramir's eyes were dark, "Spider."
Aranestarion was backed into a corner, face the picture of fear. In front of him crawled a furry black spider about the size of a thumbnail. Legolas handed Aragorn Faramir's knife and walked to his son, crushing the spider under his foot. It may have been a common house spider but he had lost far too many of his loved ones to it's much larger relatives to allow it to live. He swept Aranestarion into his arms, his son instantly burying his head into his shoulder. Aragorn felt the tension seep out of his shoulders and waved off Eomer and Gimli who had appeared behind him, "It's fine. He's alright."
Legolas swept past them, carrying his shaking, crying child in his arms. Faramir watched with relief as the prince sat back down nodding to both the Hobbits and himself. Aragorn, Gimli, and Eomer followed close behind, settling back into their seats. Faramir returned to his own chair and the Hobbits sat back down on the floor, albeit closer to Legolas and Aranestarion than before. Merry watched as the child's tears slowed, still shaking in his father's arm, "Is he alright?'
Legolas nodded, "It was just a house spider. Aranestarion saw a spider attack about a month ago. Greenwood may be returning to it's former glory but we still have spiders. Even one as small as my fist has enough poison to-" He broke off before continuing, "I'd rather have him fear small spiders than have him not have enough fear for the larger ones."
"Ada?" Came the incredibly small voice in Legolas's arms.
The Elfling looked up at his father with tear-stained cheeks, "Can I sleep with you and Nana tonight?"
"Telgalad is in our room. If he wakes up during the night he might wake you up too."
"I don't care."
Faramir simply couldn't stand the sad little face anymore and rose, kneeling before the small child, "How about tomorrow after you're done with your ride with Eomer we go to the archery fields and practice with your new bow?"
Aranestarion brightened slightly. His bow, a gift from Faramir upon his arrival to Gondor the day prior, was his new favorite possession, "Really?"
"Mmhm. I heard you've been practicing."
Aranestarion nodded, "Can Ada come too?"
He turned back to his father with massive eyes, "Will you come too Ada?"
Legolas smiled, and brushed a strand of blonde hair behind his son's ear, "If you want me to."
Aranestarion nodded, "I want you to come."
"Then I will."
Aranestarion looked back at Faramir, "Ada can shoot better than anyone."
"Indeed he can," Eomer agreed, "And nothing is more terrifying then being at the end of his bow when he's mad."
Aragorn just grinned at him, "I think being at the end of your sister's wrath when she found out you threatened the prince of Mirkwood was worse."
Eomer rolled his eyes and the room just laughed in response. Aranestarion burrowed deeper into his father's arms, starting to grow drowsy. Legolas started running his hand along the child's back in an effort to put him to sleep. The little Elfling's eyes drifted shut before popping back opened, "Ada?"
Legolas looked down, "Hm?"
His son switched to Elvish, common tongue slipping his mind with his sleepiness, "Is the liante dead?"
Legolas nodded, "Yes."
"Good," The little head laid back down on his father's chest, "I didn't like it but the bigger one was scarier."
"I won't let any of them hurt you."
Aragorn looked from Aranestarion to Legolas, "How much of the attack did he see?"
Legolas's eyes were troubled, "Enough. It attacked one of the clearings we were in. It was taken care of quickly but he still saw far more than I wanted him to."
Aranestarion lifted his head to look at Aragorn, "It was scary. It made a hissing noise and it was big and it bit Ada!"
Aragorn stared at Legolas who avoided his gaze, pointedly, "You were bitten?"
Pippin looked at him concerned, "Are you alright?"
Legolas smiled at him, "I'm fine."
Aragorn glared, "You didn't tell me you were bitten."
"I didn't think it was relevant."
"Where were you bitten?"
"Back of the shoulder," Legolas sighed, "It was taken care of and I'm still on the antidote as a precaution."
Aragorn's glare sharpened and his frown deepened, "I want to check you over myself tomorrow."
Legolas refrained from rolling his eyes and relented with a sharp nod. He felt his son burrow deeper into his arms before the child gave a huge yawn, eyes barely opened, "Ready for bed now?"
Aranestarion shook his head tiredly, "I don't want to go to sleep yet."
Another large yawn made everyone smile. Sam looked at him, smile soft, "Are you sure?"
Starion looked up at his father, "How many days do we have before we need to go home?"
The Elfling pondered that number for a moment before deciding, yes, five days was a perfectly acceptable amount of time to spend with his "cousins" and "uncles", "I'm sleepy."
Legolas lifted him to his chest, Aranestarion's arms locking around his father's neck and his head going to rest on his shoulder, "That would be my sign to retire for the night. I'll see you all in the morning."
Echoes of goodnight came from the room as Legolas stood, heading to the door. Over his father's shoulder Aranestarion waved tiredly at the remaining occupants in the room who all waved back, smiling. The door shut quietly behind them. Aragorn looked at Eomer with a soft look in his eyes, "That's what you have to look forward to."
2 Months Later
King Eomer of Rohan paced restlessly in front of the bedroom he shared with his wife, eyes wide and face pale. It had been some minutes since he had heard any noise from the room whatsoever and that worried him. He passed the door for the hundredth time and turned, only to find the door opening and the midwife walking out, a smile on her face, "My Lord?"
Eomer swallowed hard and tried to hide the sheer panic he was feeling, "Lothiriel? The baby?"
The midwife's smile only grew, "You have a son My Lord. And both mother and son are doing just fine."
Eomer felt his shoulders slump in relief, "Can I see her...them?"
Before the midwife could answer Lothiriel's voice drifted out from the bedroom, "Eomer?"
Eomer was in the room in a second and was met with the sight of his wife, hair a mess, slightly flushed, but more beautiful than ever, sitting up in their bed, a small bundle in her arms. He crept forward as slowly as he could before Lothiriel called to him yet again, "Eomer...come see."
In her arms, inside the bundle laid their son. Eomer sat himself on the edge of the bed, hesitant to disturb both mother and child. Lothiriel placed the baby in his father's arms, watching as Eomer tensed up immediately, "What is it?"
Eomer could only stare down at the tiny form in wonder, "He's so tiny. I don't want to hurt him."
Lothiriel smiled gently at him, "He's stronger than he looks. You won't hurt him. What should we name him?"
Eomer ran a gentle hand over a soft tuft of black hair, "I can't think of anything that would be perfect enough."
Lothiriel held back a chuckle, "How does Elfwine sound?"
Eomer tried out the name, "Elfwine...it fits him."
He moved back to be closer to his wife, careful not to jostle Elfwine, and settled against the back of the bed. Eomer once again went back to staring at his son, running his finger over the tiny, tiny hand sticking out of the blanket. The hand gripped onto his finger with a tight grip that Eomer knew meant he was going to be a swordsman. He felt Lothiriel lay her head on his shoulder, snuggling into his side, "He's perfect. Such a papa's boy already."
Eomer felt a thrill at the words, "I'm a father."
Lothiriel held back a smile at his statement of the obvious, "Aye you are. And a fantastic one already."
Wrapping one arm around his wife, the other keeping a firm hold on Elfwine Eomer felt utterly at peace. He was father...suddenly all the things Sam, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli had said about being a parent made much more sense. He also realized with a slight amount of dread that all the times he bought his "nephews" toys despite their parents' protests was about to come back to haunt him.
Elvish translations: Ada- Daddy/Papa