The sun descends; and the star of Eärendil climbs the darkening sky. My lady lies in childbed beyond a door that I am not allowed to enter. I can do naught to aid her. And still we wait.
Éomer paces back and forth, stopping only to crack his knuckles. If he mentions mares and foals one more time, I truly think that I will strike him. Though such a blow would not bring this child any faster; it would at least improve my mood.
Aragorn arrives, bringing wine and good cheer. I can barely discern his words. All I hear are Éowyn’s cries and moans, mercifully somewhat muffled by the door. I sit still and think back on all that I know of childbirth. It is not much. I yearn more than ever before for the presence of my mother. I can take some solace that old Ioreth, who has helped many mothers safely deliver their babes, is behind that door with my wife. Arwen is there too; it is good that Éowyn has a friend with her now.
Hark! The sounds are different now. What has happened? I catch Éomer’s eye; and see the same fear there that chills my heart. I rise; and our hands clasp as if we were frightened children rather than King of Rohan and Steward of Gondor.
The door opens. Arwen emerges. She smiles! I try to calm my racing heart; for surely she would not smile if she bore ill tidings.
The Queen says that Éowyn is well and I have a son. The world is changed forever.
My knees grow weak. I steady myself. Aragorn gives me something to drink and I drain the goblet with one gulp. We all embrace. I think Éomer is weeping. Then I stagger toward the door, with these two unlikely brothers at my back.
Arwen allows me entry, but bars the door to the two kings. I go to my lady. Valar, she looks weary! Yet there is great joy upon her pale face. I fear I shall weep with relief that I have not lost her.
I see a blanketed bundle in Éowyn’s arms. At her urging, I part the coverlets and look upon my son for the first time. Foolishly, all I can do is gape. He is so new! His head is still damp from birth, and covered with golden hair. His bright eyes are veiled by long eyelashes. Soft little sounds issue from his mouth. Is he weary too? Surely he has taken the longest journey of us all this day!
Éowyn laughs and bids me take him. Ioreth prattles on about what a big, strong babe he is as I lift the infant carefully into my arms. Big? He is so small that his head fits in my hand; and he is utterly helpless. I fear that if I do not hold him close, I shall drop him; but if I hold him too tightly, he shall break.
His brow creases in a frown. For the first time, I see a likeness to one who is lost. I glimpse Boromir in the child‘s nose, the curve of his lips. And I am nigh overwhelmed by a surge of fierce joy welling up within me. “Welcome,” I whisper. “Thou art most welcome, my son.” Ah, surely I am the most fortunate of all men!
He cries for a moment, and I start in sudden concern. I touch his face; then his tiny pink hand. He seizes my forefinger with surprising strength. My eyes blur. He cannot understand, as I now do, that his little fist has fastened also on my heart.
Éowyn asks me to name our son. I had thought to call him after Mardil or Cirion, but now I am of different mind. I look out the window, where Eärendil’s star rises; and at our mortal Evenstar, the star-bearer’s own kin. They both watched over the child’s birth.
“My brother was Boromir, Faithful Jewel,” I proclaim. “My son shall be Elboron, Faithful Star.”
It is done. A tear escapes my eye as I watch the bright star and pray that somewhere beyond it, my brother also looks down upon us.