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At the Rising of the Moon
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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4
See the blazing Yule before us

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

See the blazing Yule before us,
Fa la la la la la, la la la la.
Strike the harp and join the chorus.
Fa la la la la la, la la la la.
Follow me in merry measure,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
While I tell of Yuletide treasure,
Fa la la la la la, la la la la.

For Raksha


~~~

“Wherever can they be?” Éowyn fretted, pacing anxiously across the floor of Arwen's room, where the Queen and the Princess of Ithilien were together with their children, awaiting the return of their husbands.

“Maybe one of their horses went lame?” Arwen said placidly. She was sitting on the rocking chair by the fire, feeding Eldarion.

“I should never have sent them out together!”Éowyn fretted, as she paced the room. “I should have known better! The mistletoe was not so important, that they should risk coming to harm collecting it!”

“Nothing ill will have befallen them. They are grown men and seasoned warriors, more than capable of taking care of themselves,” Arwen replied.

“They might well be, but they are our husbands and innocents abroad, outside of a battlefield !”Éowyn said grimly “Only they could go for a ride in the forest and be drugged by a crazy old woman. Then, there was the time that they went swimming and a goat ate their clothes. When you were giving birth and our backs were turned on them, Faramir managed to get into a fight with my brother. Then, while we were in Ithilien together, Aragorn was kidnapped! And there was the time they went camping and…” She sighed deeply. “The moment we they are out of our sight, they get into trouble! They are as drawn to disaster as ducks are to water! How can you be so calm?”

“Because I would know if anything were seriously wrong,” Arwen said firmly. “I expect the babies would sense it too!”

“Well, I may not be blessed with mystical abilities, seeing as I am neither Elf nor Númenorean, but my common sense tells me that it does not take five hours to fetch some mistletoe from scarce three miles away! They could have walked there and back long ago in that time!”

“I am certain we have no need to worry,” Arwen assured her friend. “Please stop pacing. You and Aragorn between you will most surely wear out the carpet! He paces like that too when he is restless.”

“Ada, da, da,” gurgled Eldarion contentedly, as his mother wiped his milky face and rose from the rocking chair to settle him into his cradle.

“Yes, you shall see ada soon, my big boy,” Arwen cooed, “Who saw the pretty decorations with Auntie Éowyn and Elestelle this afternoon?”

Éowyn stopped pacing for a moment and smiled at the memory of her baby daughter and Eldarion, reaching for the ribbons with chubby fingers, their baby faces alight with pleasure.

“I wish Faramir had been there to see Elestelle grabbing the ribbons,” Éowyn lamented, resuming her agitated pacing across the room.

“I had better get changed,” said Arwen, “If they are late, we will have to greet the guests. Stop pacing, please, Éowyn, you are making Eldarion's cradle vibrate!”

Éowynsighed, but this time obeyed. She took her daughter from her cradle and settled with her in the rocking chair that Arwen had recently vacated. She was just unfastening her gown in preparation for feeding her, when a tap came on the door.

“May we come in ?” Aragorn's voice called.

“Come in, we were expecting you!” called Arwen.

The door opened and a bedraggled looking King and Steward entered, clutching armfuls of mistletoe.

“Wherever have you been?” scolded Éowyn, ”The banquet will begin soon!”

“Dame Gudrun kept to her word and made us wait until moonrise,” Aragorn explained.

Éowyn snorted, “You are the King and the Steward, you should not be commanded by some bossy woman! And why ever have you brought all that in here?”

“It is the mistletoe you said you wanted!” Faramir protested.

“Not in here, in the Merethrond, you foolish men! The servants are there waiting for it.” scolded Éowyn.

Faramir looking rather crestfallen make to leave again.

“It is lovely mistletoe, thank you for bringing it to show us!” Arwen said soothingly, “It is good to have you back.” She smiled at Faramir and kissed her husband, reaching to enfold him in a loving embrace.

“You had better not touch me,” Aragorn said rather sheepishly, “I think I might have fleas!”

“Little wonder, as you are covered in cat hair!” Éowyn observed, “And you are both covered in leaves and twigs! I told you to fetch some mistletoe not a fur or a forest!”

“We had better go and have a bath,” said Faramir.

“Fleas or not you most certainly need one, before you are either coming to the feast or sharing my bed tonight!” Éowyn said sternly.

“Never mind, nothing is wrong that hot water will not cure!”Arwen said briskly, “I have already told the servants to heat some water. Off with you both now, or you will be late, but be sure to give Doreth the mistletoe first and tell her to send someone to brush the carpet in here!”

“I shall ask her to save it after the festivities,” said Aragorn, ”I am sure the Houses of Healing could put it to good use!”

“Have you no sense of romance?” Éowyn groaned as the men made their escape, dropping leaves and berries behind them in their wake.

“Women!” King and Steward muttered under their breath simultaneously, “Whatever will it take to please them!”

“Éowyn did not even offer me a kiss after we brought all that mistletoe!” Faramir lamented glumly.

“And Arwen is always fretting about her carpet!” Aragorn added, as they walked morosely down the corridor.

They were so engrossed in their own thoughts that they almost bumped into Elbeth, who was being shepherded in the direction of Arwen's rooms by her nurse.

“Hello!” the little girl said brightly, “You look nice with leaves in your hair, Uncle Strider! Is that how you are going to go to the party? Can I have leaves in my hair too?”

“You will have to ask your Aunt Éowyn," Faramir said wearily, “We saw a nice cat, this afternoon, Elbeth, you would have liked it.”

Elbeth pouted. “Why do grown ups have all the fun?” she asked, “AuntÉowyn made me try dresses on all afternoon. Why can't we go to parties wearing our ordinary clothes?”

“I only wish we could,” Aragorn replied. “Maybe next year, you could come and see the cat with us,” he added to placate her.

“Well, you're the King, so why don't you make a law that everyone must wear ordinary clothes to come to parties in?”

“I would, but the Queen would not like it,” Aragorn explained. “Now you had better go and get ready. Uncle Faramir and I need to have a bath.”

“Aunt Éowyn made me have one too,” Elbeth said sympathetically, “It was before I had to try the dresses on.”

“Did you find a pretty one?”Faramir enquired.

Elbeth made a face. “No, they were horrible with frills all over them! I said, I'd rather stay in my room and have bread and jam for supper than wear them. Aunt Arwen said; she would see what she could find. I expect she will find something even worse with bows on!”

Aragorn repressed a smile, suddenly remembering a conversation with his wife a few weeks ago. “Maybe your Aunt Arwen will surprise you,” he said enigmatically, “I do not think Elves are very partial to bows and frills any more than you are!”

“Come Lady Elbeth, you need to change into your party frock!” The nurse bowed and led her charge away. Elbeth's expression was more melancholy that that of a criminal on the way to execution.

An hour later, the King and Queen, accompanied by the Prince and Princess of Ithilien, and the Lady Elbeth were preparing to greet their guests.

The beautifully decorated Merethrond was sparkling with the light from hundreds of extra candles in honour of the occasion, looking almost as magnificent as its occupants.

The Queen looked stunning in a simple gown of crimson velvet trimmed with silver. On her head, she wore a coronet of mithril set with diamonds. Her long black hair hung loose and was braided with hundreds of tiny diamonds, which glittered like frost with the sun shining upon it.

Eowyn had chosen a gown of forest green velvet embroidered in gold to match her hair. She wore a gold circlet on her head, adorned with emeralds. Aragorn and Faramir were dressed in near identical outfits comprising a black velvet tunic and breeches, embroidered in silver and gold, Aragorn's elaborate coronet of mithril, contrasting with Faramir's plainer circlet.

Elbeth, standing between her Aunt and the Queen, no longer looked miserable. Instead, she was happily preening herself and feeling very grand in her new gown, a surprise present from the Queen, and of a similar cut and design to the one she was wearing as well as being equally devoid of frills and bows. The crimson velvet set off the little girl's colouring to perfection and the full skirt twirled delightfully when she moved and caused the silver embroidery to shimmer and glitter in the candlelight.

Aragorn formally welcomed the guests and explained this was a traditional Yuletide celebration, such as was celebrated in the northern part of his kingdom. First the he Yule log would be brought in, then there would be half an hour of dancing followed by the banquet, after which more dancing would round off the evening. He had decided to have some dances before they ate to give Arwen andÉowyn a chance to take part before they needed to return to their children.

Damrod and Aedred, had been given the honour of bringing in the Yule Log, a massive branch of oak, which was carefully dusted with flour and laid before the blazing fire. Asking Elbeth, if she would assist them, Aragorn and Arwen moved forward to perform the traditional duties for the master and mistress of the house.

A servant brought a tray, on which were three basins, containing salt, oil and mulled wine.

Aragorn asked Elbeth to hand him the salt, which he solemnly sprinkled on the log and intoned “May the land be cleansed of evil!”

Arwen then took the oil and poured it, saying as she did so, “May the land be at peace!”

Finally, Aragorn took the bowl of wine from Elbeth and said, “May the land be fruitful!”

Damrod and Aedred carefully placed the log on the fire.

The harpist took up his instrument and played quietly while Aragorn intoned;

“Let this Yule log burn so bright;

To chase away the power of night!

Before the embers die away

May the sun return to stay

May the Valar bless this day!”

They stood for a moment in silence until the flames leapt up and enveloped the log. The assembled guests clapped, while the children present, cheered aloud.

The musicians then struck up a merry tune and Aragorn approached his Queen, “May I have the first dance, vanimelda ?” he asked?

“Gladly, my beloved!” she replied.

He took her hand and soon they were gracefully dancing, their steps in perfect harmony. Faramir and Éowyn soon joined them, and then two by two, the other guests took their places, until the Great Hall was filled with dancing couples, swirling across the floor like colourful blossoms in the breeze.

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