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22
For ye shall go out with joy

For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. The Bible- Isaiah 52.12

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

With thanks to Raksha and Virtuella.

"Real dragon?" Éowyn tensed immediately and sat bolt upright, cursing under her breath. Mistress Elwen turned pale and sat down heavily on a nearby chair.

"He can talk and he's called T'ien Li and he's my new friend. He let me stroke him," Elestelle continued. "He's in the garden now with Uncle Aragorn and Eldarion!"

"Go with Mistress Elwen now," Éowyn ordered. "You are to stay indoors in the nursery while that dragon is in the vicinity!"

"But why?" Elestelle protested mournfully. "T'ien Li is nice. Uncle Aragorn is his friend and you told me that Uncle Aragorn is very wise."

"I want to see the dragon too!" Elboron cried excitedly.

"Dragons are evil beasts," said Éowyn. "You are not to go near the creature whatever Uncle Aragorn says. Go now with Mistress Elwen. She will give you some milk and honey cakes."

The housekeeper collected herself and led the two protesting children away.

"How could Aragorn let that Fell beast anywhere near my daughter?" Éowyn demanded furiously as soon as the door closed behind her older children. "I shall have words with him as soon as I can leave my bed! Summon the guards, Arwen! I will not have the creature on my land. It will devour my horses! "

The infant in her arms started to wail dismally.

"Éowyn, please be calm for the sake of your baby!" Arwen said firmly in her most queenly tones. "The dragon is no Fell Beast. It is I who am to blame that he is here, for I let him bear me to you when I received a message from Elbeth that you were in labour. Loth though I am to admit it, we owe the dragon a great debt for he helped save Farawyn's life. I doubt I could ever call a dragon a friend, but I shall object no more to Estel's friendship with the creature and I will permit Eldarion to play with him as long as his father is present.

I have lived almost three thousand years and have never had cause to believe any good of dragons, but I have come to believe that there are indeed some in distant lands that mean us no ill."

"Surely you have not also been bewitched by his spawn of Morgoth?" Éowyn asked.

Arwen took the screaming baby from Éowyn and rocked him gently in her arms. "I believe now that I was most unwise to let the dragon cause a rift between myself and Estel," she said after a few moments. "I almost threw away everything that was most dear to me because I could not see there might be exceptions to what I have been carefully taught to believe.

This is a new age. Whoever would have imagined that we would count Tahir and Adiva amongst our dearest friends?"

"The folk of Harad are Men," said Éowyn. "Their skins are darker and they dress differently, but otherwise they are much as we are. Once free of Sauron's influence, we could become friends."

"The dragon was never under the Dark Lord's thrall at all," said Arwen. "He comes from a land where they revere dragons much as the folk of the Riddermark esteem horses." She started to sing softly to the baby while continuing to rock him.

Éowyn said nothing until the infant had ceased his wailing. "It never ceases me to amaze me that infants enjoy music so young," she said in an abrupt change of subject. "He is scarcely an hour old yet he is soothed by the melody."

Just then a knock came at the door. "Lord Faramir is here, my lady," Mistress Elwen called. "And what should we do about the dragon in the garden?"

"Oh just leave him for the time being!" Éowyn sighed wearily. "Just see he doesn't upset the horses. The dragon, I mean, not Lord Faramir. Tell my husband to come in and see his new son."

Arwen smiled and handed the baby back to Éowyn.

Faramir entered the room with an anxious expression on his face, which turned to awed tenderness when he beheld his wife and child.

"Meet your new son, Faramir," said Éowyn.

"I must go and see to the children," said Arwen. "I will be back in a few minutes.

Éowyn and Faramir seemed oblivious to her departure. They gazed at one another lovingly. Faramir then hastened to the bedside and tenderly kissed his wife's cheek and the top of the baby's dark head. "I have been so worried about you both," he said.

"You see we are both well," Éowyn beamed. "And is he not the most beautiful boy?"

"The fairest babe on Arda I believe," replied the proud father. "Have you given him a name yet?"

"I will let you choose," said Éowyn. "I should have liked to name a girl after my mother, but have not chosen one for a boy. Would you like to name him for your brother or father?"

Faramir shook his head and for a moment his grey eyes clouded. "This little one should not be burdened with names that still cause me sorrow to speak a loud," he said. Then he brightened. "How about naming him for a great hero, not only of Gondor, but also of Rohan?"

"Thorongil?" Éowyn smiled at her husband. "A fitting name indeed, especially as Arwen flew here like an eagle to help me bring him safely into the world."

"His name is Thorongil then," said Faramir. "I only hope he will not feel daunted to be named after so great a hero!"

"Almost anything our son might choose to be, he will be copying his namesake," said Éowyn. "Only you surpass the King as a man of many talents!"

"I think not," said Faramir. "You flatter me, my love. Aragorn is the greatest man of this Age. "I hope this little one might prove a scholar, but I shall be happy even if he simply desires to rear sheep."

"I hope he will be a great horseman," said Éowyn, gazing fondly at the infant. Thorongil stretched out his tiny perfectly formed fingers and Faramir offered the babe one of his own, which the baby gripped tightly.

"He is a strong lad," already said the Steward. "Now may I introduce him to his namesake?"

"Aragorn may come in," said Éowyn. "I should like to see the look on his face when we tell him the name we have chosen!"

A servant was despatched to tell Aragorn that the Steward and his lady were waiting to receive him. The King was delighted to see the new baby was a strong healthy lad and touched by his parents' choice of name. He was about to re-join his own wife and children when Éowyn said with only a little stiffness in her voice: "It seems that I misjudged your dragon friend as I believe Arwen would never have got here in time without him. It seems he is no Fell Beast after all."

Aragorn replied gravely. "Indeed he is not, Éowyn. Súlion is a trifle vain, but he is a good-hearted creature of a kind that never came under Sauron's dominion. He is no more a Fell Beast, than I am an Orc or a Troll. We have all cause to be grateful to him. Just now, he showed me that a weed in your garden that might well have caused Farawyn's recent illness."

"Such an evil plant must be pulled up and burned," said Éowyn.

"I have already seen it done as I knew you would desire to protect all the children," Aragorn replied.

"Thank you." Éowyn fell silent. Aragorn rose to leave so that she could rest. "How is the creature's, um dragon's rider faring?" Éowyn asked suddenly.

"His wounds are healing well now. I feared he would die, but he rallied once he was reunited with Súlion," said Aragorn. "They converse on my lawn most days. He is a most delightful man, a scholar and prince amongst his own people."

Éowyn took a deep breath. "I would be happy to allow the Rider to finish his convalescence here in Ithilien," she said. "Just as long as he keeps his dragon away from my horses!"

"I am certain they would both be delighted," said the King. He took his leave, smiling fondly at his friends. Éowyn gently rocked the babe in her arms while Faramir observed them, every inch the proud father.

000

Several weeks passed. Éowyn quickly recovered from the birth while little Thorongil thrived and made his doting parents prouder by the day.

The King and Queen and their children returned to Minas Tirith. Aragorn insisted that his Steward lightened his workload so that he could spend some time with his wife and children.

Fu Nung's injuries had healed sufficiently for him to travel to Ithilien to accept Éowyn's invitation to convalesce there. Súlion was not happy that his rider had to travel to Emyn Arnen by carriage on Aragorn's advice, but he was soon placated by the offer of an especially plump cow to dine upon. The dragon was much happier in Ithilien where he had far greater freedom to fly around. The fire breathing dragons and their riders were found a lonely spot to stay in the countryside, which troubled no one.

Life in Gondor returned to normal. Most people forgot that the dragons were still there, as out of sight was out of mind.

One fine summer's day Ambassador Tahir and his lady, together with their children, came to see the new baby at Faramir and Éowyn's invitation. Aragorn and Arwen were also in Ithilien visiting their friends. It made a merry gathering. The older folk sat partaking refreshments in the gardens while the children happily played with each other under the eagle eyes of their nursemaids. Súlion joined in the conversation and much amazed the ambassador and his lady with his witty remarks and ability to converse in their tongue.

Aragorn slipped away to see how his patient was faring. He found Fu Nung in his room gazing at the portraits of his wife and sons.

"What ails you, friend?" asked Aragorn. "You would be welcome to join us in the gardens. Súlion is there."

"To see your ladies and their children would only lower my spirits further," said Fu Nung in his heavily accented Westron. "Everyone has been most kind to me here, but as the days pass, I find I miss my wife and sons more with each sunrise. I think it is time I returned home. I believe I am sufficiently healed and I feel comfortable on T'ien Li's back, but Lady Éowyn said I should ask you before I made plans to depart."

"Let me see your hurts then."

After a thorough examination Aragorn concluded that Fu Nung was indeed well enough to travel. Apart from a very slight limp, he bore no sign that he had ever been injured. The Elven scar treatment had worked well to remove all traces of the ugly wounds that had caused him so much suffering. "You are indeed fit to leave us soon," the King said. "We shall miss you and your dragon. I hope you and Súlion will one day return to visit."

"We shall indeed," said Fu Nung. "You have my word upon it. Lord Faramir and your ladies would ever be welcome to visit my land too. My father would welcome you warmly. From this day forward our lands are friends and allies. Your friends are my friends and your enemies are my enemies."

"You do Gondor great honour," said Aragorn. He hoped such a day would never arise, but rejoiced in knowing that he could call on dragons for aid should Gondor ever be in dire need. "May our friendship endure between us our children and our children's children!" he said and embraced Fu Nung. "Now come and join the others."

"I shall leave before the month ends if T'ien Li is agreeable," said Fu Nung.

The two walked out into the gardens together.

Súlion was flying around with Ambassador Tahir and two of his children upon his back together with one of Beregond's daughters. It seemed that the dragon had ceased to trouble about whether or not his passengers were of royal blood.

Elbeth seemed indifferent to the dragon's presence while Elestelle looked somewhat alarmed to see the little girl she had recently been playing with borne aloft, Elboron and Farawyn kept pointing at the dragon and watching wide eyed. Eldarion, though, gazed sadly at the great beast.

"Fu Nung will soon bid us farewell," Aragorn told Arwen. "He is well enough to go home when he chooses."

Arwen smiled graciously and extended her hand. Fu Nung bowed low. "I shall never think of dragons in the same way after having met you and Súlion," said Arwen. I cannot say that I welcomed your coming, "but I am glad to know you. Take my friendship with you on your journey, Son of the East."

"Gladly, my lady," said Fu Nung.

"I will miss T'ien Li!" said Eldarion. "He is my friend."

"I am sure you will see him again one day," Aragorn reassured him. "Maybe when you are a grown man you will even visit his homeland."

"Are we going home?" asked Súlion, coming in to land. Tahir and his son and daughter dismounted, their dark eyes gleaming with pleasure. Beregond's daughter ran excitedly to her father.

Eldarion ran up the great beast and buried his head against his soft nose. "I'm going to miss you so much!" he cried. "I never even got to ride on you and now you're leaving!"

Arwen took a deep breath and turned to her husband. "If the dragon is willing, perhaps you would accompany Eldarion on a short flight?"

"Of course I will take him," said Súlion. "A prince of royal blood has not lived until he has flown upon one of my kind."

"Thank you, naneth!" Eldarion threw his arms around his mother.

"Go then before I change my mind," Arwen said briskly.

Very gently, Súlion lifted Eldarion in his great jaws and placed him on his neck. Aragorn scrambled up behind his son and held him tightly. Súlion rose slowly into the air and soared aloft.

Eldarion laughed aloud for sheer joy, his young face glowing with pleasure. "I'm flying, ada, I'm flying!" he cried as they circled Faramir's home.

Aragorn looked around him, as they flew low over garden. There on a bench by the rose garden, sat his beloved wife with their little daughter in her arms. Beside them, his dearest friend and his lady engaged in conversation with Tahir and his lady, former enemies of Gondor who were now good friends.

So much that had once seemed impossible had now come to pass. He had married the woman of his dreams and was the father of two precious children, he was King, Denethor's son was his best friend, and the land was at peace. Why, he was even riding upon a friendly dragon!

Aragorn joined in his son's joyous laugher.

The end.

A/n. A big thank you to everyone who has supported this story. I hope you have enjoyed it. I began posting on St George's Day two years ago and this seemed a good day to end it too.

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