I don’t believe a word of it – Half a Sixpence
With grateful thanks to Virtuella and Raksha
Disclaimer; The characters are the property of the Tolkien estate. No money has been made from this drabble.
“You and Faramir sheltered in a cave for overnight with a dragon?” Arwen asked for about the tenth time as she breakfasted with her husband. “Are you both out of your minds! Dragons devour Men. Why, Morgoth's dragons flew out of Angband and drove back the Valar themselves during the War of Wrath, until my grandfather came in Vingilot, with the great Eagles behind him, and slew Ancalagon the Black. My father saw it all, and has told me many times of the death and terror unleashed by those monsters!"
“It was a friendly dragon,” Aragorn replied patiently, cutting himself a slice of crusty bread. “We had no idea he was in the cave, or we would have avoided it.”
“As if I were not worried enough when Roheryn and Zachus came home without you!” Arwen continued.
“It all turned out for the best, though, since the dragon brought us home after our horses bolted and were stranded by the floodwater,” Aragorn explained.
“Either you have been drinking or you are delirious!” Arwen scolded. “Whoever heard of a friendly dragon? Remember what Smaug did to Laketown! They are evil, the servants of Sauron and his like! How can we sleep safe in our beds at night with such a creature at large? What about the children?”
Aragorn sighed. Since he and Faramir had returned the previous day, his usually calm and sweet natured wife had alternated between fury and a refusal to believe his story. He could understand her feelings about dragons. Before yesterday he had shared them. If he had not seen the friendly dragon with his own eyes, he would not have believed such a creature could exist. “This dragon only eats the meats that we do. The children are perfectly safe,” he assured her.
Before Arwen could answer, there was a knock on the door. “Come in!” called Aragorn, grateful for the interruption.
A flustered looking serving girl entered, whom Aragorn vaguely recognised as one of Éowyn’s maids. “Please, my lord,” she said, bobbing a curtsey, “Lady Éowyn is concerned about Lord Faramir’s health and requests that you attend him when it is convenient for your lordship.”
“Please tell the Lady Éowyn I will join her in a few minutes,” said Aragorn.
The girl curtsied again and scurried from the room.
“I must fetch my healing supplies at once,” said Aragorn, pushing his half eaten breakfast aside and getting to his feet.
“Poor Faramir! Whatever can ail him?” Arwen’s earlier bad mood was forgotten in her concern for their friend.
“He was suffering from a bad cold yesterday,” said Aragorn, who was already half way through the door. “I fear he may have developed lung fever.”
Aragorn paused only to snatch up his satchel of herbs. He almost ran to Faramir’s apartments.
The moment a servant opened the door. Éowyn appeared on the threshold, her small son, Elboron, holding her hand, while her young daughter, Elestelle, and her fourteen-year-old niece Elbeth, now grown almost as tall as her aunt, hovered beside her.
“Ada has gone mad!” Elestelle proclaimed after Aragorn had greeted them.
“Elestelle!” her mother chided.
“Well, he says he was talking to a friendly dragon and everyone knows that no such thing exists,” added Elbeth.
“I’d like to see a dragon. Eldarion won’t let me play with his,” said Elboron.
“I fear Faramir must have a fever,” said Éowyn anxiously. “And he has been coughing all night, so we have had no sleep at all.”
Aragorn noticed that she looked tired and wan and was wearing a robe over her nightdress rather than her usual gown. It could not have helped that she was five months gone with child. “I will see how I might aid him,” the King said. “I can reassure you, though, that he did indeed meet a friendly dragon and has not lost his wits.”
“Can I meet it then?” asked Elboron
“It would eat you!” said his sister.
“I expect the dragon has gone home now,” said Aragorn. “He would not have hurt you, Elestelle.”
“Come girls, it is time for your lessons,” said their nanny emerging from another room. “Elboron, you can play with your toys in the nursery.”
“Faramir is still in bed at my insistence,” said Éowyn. “He wanted to get up, but I would not permit it, though he insisted that some work be sent to him. I hope as you are his healer he will listen to you and agree to rest.”
Aragorn found his friend and Steward sitting up in bed and trying to stifle a cough while studying a sheaf of papers. “It is always good to see you, mellon nîn,” he smiled. “Éowyn should not have troubled you though. I only have a cough.”
“You are ill and should not be working!” Éowyn chided.
“There is an important council meeting to discuss the annual revenues for the South-kingdom next week,” said Faramir. “I must have all the accounts ready.” He started to cough again.
“You need to concentrate on getting well first,” said Aragorn. He approached the bedside and laid a hand on Faramir’s brow. “You look rather flushed, but I can detect no fever.”
“I am not ill,” Faramir said as forcefully as he could between coughs.
“Maybe not,” Aragorn conceded. “If you will permit me to examine you, we can decide whether you or your lady are is correct concerning your state of health.”
“Very well,” Faramir said wearily. He placed the papers on the bedside table, unlaced his nightshirt and slid it from his shoulders. He then lay back against the pillows as Aragorn laid an ear against his chest.
“Your lungs are slightly congested, but you do not appear to be suffering from anything more serious than a bad cough,” Aragorn pronounced after a little while. “Honey and lemon should ease you and I will mix you some dandelion tea. The tea combined with an Elven treatment, should drain away the excess fluids congesting your lungs. You should be recovered in time for the meeting.”
“I will send for some honey and lemon from the kitchens,” said Éowyn. “You are certain it is nothing worse? I have had a cold too, but I did not cough like this!”
“I assume you were not out in the cold and wet like Faramir was. He does not have lung fever, though.” Aragorn assured her in a tone, which echoed his own relief. Lung fever was often fatal despite the best endeavours of the most skilled of healers.
“I am sure the dragon is to thank for that,” said Faramir, turning to lie on his side. “He kept me warm and dry.”
Éowyn snorted. “Obviously you met the creature when it was sleeping or distracted, or maybe Aragorn used his Elven arts upon it?” As she spoke, she watched her husband relax visibly under the gentle pressure of Aragorn’s fingertips across his chest and back. “A pity you did not despatch the Fell Beast while you had a chance!”
“Éowyn! He was no Fell Beast!” Faramir protested sitting bolt upright and starting to cough again. “He was friendly and aided us willingly.”
“It would not have fooled me so easily!” she replied.
“This treatment will only work if Faramir relaxes,” Aragorn warned.
“I will see if the lemon juice and honey are ready,” said Éowyn and swept from the room.
“Do not agitate yourself, mellon nîn,” said Aragorn. “Now lie down again and let me continue your treatment.”
“Have you sent out those letters to the garrisons?” Faramir enquired after a few moments. “I would not have our dragon come to harm.”
Aragorn paused in his ministrations and looked slightly uncomfortable. “I did intend to last night, but Arwen’s reactions made me reconsider. My wife is wise and good hearted; yet she cannot see the dragon as anything but a dreaded adversary. I fear should others know that a dragon was at large in Gondor it would cause widespread panic and put him and his rider in even worse danger. If Arwen’s reaction were like that of others it would take more than a letter from me to convince people the dragon is friendly. Most likely he is already far away. The fewer people that know about him the better. Do you not think so?”
“Maybe,” said Faramir. “I do not know. I would much prefer that he could come here openly as a friend.”
“Perhaps that will be possible in the lifetime of our great grandchildren,” said Aragorn. “Memories here of the Fell Beasts are still too fresh.”
Just then Éowyn returned with the lemon juice and honey to which Aragorn added one drop of poppy juice. He left the mixture to settle while he prepared the herbal tea of dandelion leaves. Faramir drank the brew grimacing. There was no further talk of dragons.
“If the weather remains pleasant, you can walk in the gardens later, but do not trouble yourself over paperwork today. “Rest, now, ion nîn” “ Aragorn advised when he had done all he could for Faramir. You too should rest, Éowyn.”
“I will, once Faramir is sleeping,” she replied.
Faramir was already half asleep and had ceased coughing. Aragorn propped pillows under his head to help him breath and pulled the covers around him before bestowing a paternal kiss of farewell on his forehead.
After again reassuring Éowyn that Faramir was not seriously ill, Aragorn took his leave. Hopefully Arwen’s mood would have improved during his absence. He would have to work on preparations for the Council meeting, then maybe he could spend some time with Eldarion. Perhaps he would tell his son about the friendly dragon while the encounter was still fresh in his memory. With his love of dragons stemming from his favourite toy, Smaug, Eldarion would surely enjoy the tale.
When Aragorn saw Arwen again at the midday meal, he found his wife more concerned about their friend’s health than about their encounter with the dragon. Not wishing to further arouse her wrath, Aragorn did not mention the matter again.
Faramir quickly recovered from his cough and a week later returned to Ithilien, with the children and Éowyn. His wife decided to remain in Emyn Arnen to await the birth of her child.
Faramir came to Minas Tirith once or twice a week on official business and would dine with the King and Queen before returning to his wife and children. Having been told by Aragorn that Arwen’s reaction to the dragon was much like the Éowyn’s, the two men did not speak further of the subject in front of the Queen.
Aragorn, though, still thought of the creature. He sincerely hoped the dragon had found his rider and returned safely from whence he came. He shared these thoughts with Faramir on one of the few occasions they were alone together out of the earshot of courtiers or guards. Gondor was just not yet ready for friendly dragons. Maybe when their children were grandparents, it would be possible for the creatures to visit, but that would be in the distant future.