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Night Under The Sun by Formegil

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Table of Contents

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Story notes:
This a rewritten version. See Author's Note on Prologue for details.
Chapter notes:
Disclaimer: I own nothing whatsoever J.R.R. Tolkien wrote and make no profit with this story. All characters recognizable from Tolkien's published works are the property of Tolkien Estates, as is the setting of Middle-Earth. I own only the plot of this particular story and the original characters I have myself created for the purposes of the story.

Author's Note: I have completely rewritten the story to add more background and plot, and have also made changes to the timeline. The basic premise and much of the plot remains the same, though. I thank Ragnelle of ffnet for pointing out some serious problems with the first version and for exchanging ideas as how to fix them.
Prologue

A horn-call echoed in the woods, loud and deep. The sound vibrated amongst the trees so vigorously that it almost seemed as if it would tear the last reddening leaves to the ground. To the two listeners who stood on a small glade a good distance away, it sounded like it came from behind the nearest tree.

“'Tis Elboron's horn,” said a tall, slender elf who was standing beside a stocky dwarf with a mass of reddish-brown hair and beard.
“Yes, Legolas, only he has the lungs to make it bray like that. He resembles Boromir, or maybe poor Denethor, quite as much as he resembles his parents.”
“Mostly in body only, however. But shall we go, Gimli, and see? He must have downed some quarry.”

Gimli shook his head and looked over his shoulder.

“No, let us wait for Peregrin first, as we promised. The old wool-toe really takes his time to join us.”

An amused voice spoke from Gimli's right:

“What, do I hear you speaking ill of me behind my back? That's not so nice a thing for a friend to do.”

Gimli started a little and turned to face Pippin, who now rode on the glade on a small, grey pony. Legolas, who had heard the animal coming from far away, only waved his hand in greeting.

“Stating simple facts was not speaking ill the last time I heard,” Gimli said with a smile. “So, where were you? We have been up and about for a few hours already.”
“Do you really think I'd pass my second breakfast? I am not so young as I used to be and old hobbits need their regular meals. I learned that much from Bilbo, if nothing else.”

Gimli let out a little laugh as he looked at the hobbit. True, Pippin had some grey strands in his curly hair and a few inches more girth than during the War, but he still looked very hale and hearty in his miniature hunting attire of a Gondorian knight. His way of moving, moreover, was as lively as ever when he dismounted the pony and walked to his friends. Smiling, Legolas remarked:

“I daresay it will be some years still before you turn into a frail old man. Come now, you can admit to us you just might have been a little lazy.”
“Why shouldn't I confess as much? It's no great shame,” Pippin said, laughing. “I enjoy game on the plate well enough, but it's a real bother to go and fetch it from the woods.”

Legolas's smile widened.

“You poor thing, so burdened with toil! But come, let us go and see what Elboron has caught.”

------

When they arrived at another glade a quarter of a mile away they saw that the rest of the hunting party had already gathered there. In the middle of the group lied a large buck with a handsome set of antlers. Elboron was standing beside it, with Faramir, Eldarion and Aragorn looking at the cadaver with admiring attention. Eldarion was just speaking when the latecomers entered the scene.

“'Twas a fine shot, lord Elboron, cleanly through the throat! If it pleases you, could you teach me some archery during this visit of ours? I have some trouble with aiming still.”

Elboron, a tall, muscular man of about thirty who had the blond hair of his mother and the grey eyes of his father, bowed a little.

“Thank you for the compliment, my prince. I will be delighted to give you some advice. But if I may say this, please leave the ´lord´ away.” He glanced at Faramir and Aragorn before continuing: “Our families being so close, I do not think it is necessary for you to use titles when speaking to your subjects.”
“Good friends, rather,” Aragorn corrected, with a friendly nod. “He is right, son. Remember, we came to Emyn Arnen to have a few weeks of rest from all the court formalities. But the no-titles policy applies to you, too, Elboron, if you please.”

Eldarion looked at Aragorn with an expression of grave respect and replied:

“As you say, father.”

But then, him being a lad of sixteen after all, his mood changed to one of youthful enthusiasm again. He stepped closer to Elboron, offering his hand to the older man.

“So, Elboron, congratulations again for a fine kill! And if you have time, I would like to go shooting at targets tomorrow.”

Elboron took his hand and shook it heartily.

“Tomorrow suits fine, pr– I mean, Eldarion. Let us meet after breakfast at the range.”

The two fathers looked on with expressions of approval. Aragorn would have spoken, but then he noticed his three friends in the corner of his eye. Turning to face them, he said:

“So, there you sluggards finally are! I should convict you of wasting your King's time, but let it drop now. But only if you have a good explanation.”

Not taking the jesting threat too seriously, Gimli answered in the same tone:

“Forgive us, o most merciful majesty! We would have come earlier, but a fierce battle Peregrin got into delayed us.”
“A battle?”
“Yes, our brave hobbit versus his mortal foe – his appetite.”

Pippin wasn't too amused, but the rest of the company laughed heartily. After a short conversation it was decided that the day's hunt was over; in addition to Elboron's buck, Aragorn had also felled a fine deer. Faramir, being the host, now summoned the attendant servants and ordered them to clean the game and carry it home. Elboron, however, insisted on gutting his own kill as was his custom. After he had finished, he cut a branch from an evergreen bush and put it between the buck's mouth after the ancient tradition of hunters. Then he wiped his hands and joined the others who were already mounted, Gimli and Pippin on ponies, and only waiting for him.

------

While riding towards Faramir's palace, the king and the steward stalled a little behind the others to briefly speak of the affairs of state. The thirty-fourth year of King Elessar's reign had been fine this far, however, so to the two men's relief there were very few problems to solve. A warm spring had been followed by an equally pleasant summer with enough rain and sun both. The harvest had been phenomenal. Also, there was peace both inside the realm and along the borders. Thus, Aragorn had decided he could afford a vacation of a month. Hearing this, Faramir had invited him to Emyn Arnen, an invitation Aragorn had eagerly accepted. He, Arwen and their son had instantly made preparations for the journey and there they were now, a week later. The royal couple's two daughters had also been invited, but neither of them or their husbands had the opportunity to leave their estates at the moment.

As planned in the morning, the hunting party ate a simple lunch halfway back. The weather was wonderful for mid-Narbeleth; there was a light veil of clouds covering the sky, but otherwise it was dry. The air was cool and crisp and the trees almost seemed to be aflame with their plumes of red and yellow leaves, thus giving some refreshing colour to the landscape.

After eating the company resumed their ride at a leisure pace. It was mid-afternoon when they finally reached the grounds of Faramir's palace, a tall and spacious building of white and red marble. They left their steeds at the gates of the surrounding wall and paced through the tastefully arranged garden in front of the main building. At length they reached the wide pavement before the double doors leading inside. Obeying a small sign from Faramir the servants swung the doors open. The company entered, chattering pleasantly. But they had not taken many steps in the entrance hall, before they stopped at the sight of two ladies descending a great staircase at the far end of the hall.

“Ah, Éowyn!” exclaimed Faramir. “How was your day?”

Then he paused, making a deferential greeting at the other one of the women.

“Begging your pardon, Queen Arwen.”
“No reason to be sorry,” Arwen replied. “Whom should a man greet first if not his own wife?”
“Yes, his poor wife whom he has been neglecting all day,” Éowyn said in a playful tone.

The women stepped down from the last step and embraced their husbands. Éowyn and Faramir made a rather curious pair nowadays: The dúnadan husband was still looking quite young, the black of his hair intact and his posture as upright as ever. But Éowyn's age was already showing. There were many wrinkles around her eyes and on her forehead. Besides, the gold of her hair had dimmed somewhat into a shade reminiscent of a pale primula flower. Her eyes, though, had retained their brightness and her form had not gained much weight during the years. In short, she was quite well preserved for a woman of almost sixty, but there was no question of that she was nearing her old age.

Still, it was with a warm affection and love that Faramir embraced her wife, giving her a long kiss while he did so. For him she would always be the fair maiden he had first seen in the garden of the Houses of Healing.

Meanwhile, Aragorn also hugged his wife and spoke:

“So, I hope you have had a nice day? I have been somewhat fearful that you would find our little vacation horribly boring, with only you and Èowyn keeping the household together while we are away.”
“Oh, have no worries, dear. She has been wonderful company,” was the smiling reply. “You cannot imagine the amount of talking we have been doing today alone. It is long since we have had a real chance to sit down and have a long, good conversation.”

That being settled, the company took off to their separate ways. They spent the rest of the afternoon doing whatever amused the person in question most. For instance, Faramir and Éowyn were both avid readers and settled on chairs in their well-stocked library, now and then trading comments about the books they were reading. Pippin joined Gimli to smoke a nice pipeful, after which they went with Legolas to have a game of bowling. The others, too, easily found activities to while the hours away.

------

The evening came and with it the dinnertime. The company had a sumptuous meal in the smaller of the dining halls of the palace. After that they gathered in a neighbouring sitting room, in which a group of comfortable chairs and couches practically invited the diners to sink themselves amidst the soft cushions and green velvet covers. A wine rack filled with bottles spread over one of the walls, and a small chest next to it held silver cups. Faramir took it upon himself to hand the cups to his guests and fill them with white wine. Meanwhile, a servant lit the fire into a great fireplace that dominated one of the walls of the room. It was adorned with oakleaf motifs and the Steward's coat of arms which was affixed above the mantelpiece. The servant then lit some candles in the room and retired, leaving the company alone.

During the dinner they had talked of recent things, but now their talk drifted farther into the past the older generation present had shared. Helm's Deep was fought again from the safety of soft armchairs, as well as the battle on the Pelennor. Elboron and Eldarion listened to the talk intently, the latter especially making eager questions now and then.

When the conversation finally reached Morannon, Pippin, who was sitting in a shade a little separated from the others, suddenly shuddered.

“I would rather that we did not speak of it. I still have nightmares about that scuffle.”
“About the big troll?” asked Gimli in a sympathetic tone.
“It, and Mouth of Sauron. The memory of the moment he showed us Frodo's mithril shirt still chills my spine when I think about it. That man must have been the most evil thing I've ever seen, only excepting my peek into the palantír.”

Aragorn, who had been silent for a moment, now spoke in a thoughtful tone:

“Yes, he was indeed evil to see but if this comforts you, I think I have seen worse. What would you say about a whole troop of his kindred, one of them even more fearsome than he in a way?”

The rest of the company, except Arwen, looked at him in surprise. Pippin exclaimed:

“You are pulling our collective legs, Strider. Where on Arda have you met such people?”
“Oh, it was quite a few years ago and quite a few leagues away. I think I was thirty-six at the time. Yes, I was, now that I think about it. It all started about a month after my birthday. ”

Arwen now broke into the conversation:

“This is about your first journey to the south, is it not? You have told me part of it, but I would like to hear the whole story.”

Aragorn smiled.

“I would like to fill the gaps now, but I fear the story is rather grim for Eldarion to hear.”
“I am not a child anymore, father,” the prince protested, then continued with eyes shining from eager curiosity: “Please tell us the whole tale. I would love to hear of your adventures when you were young.”

The others supported Eldarion, expressing also a wish to hear more. Finally Aragorn laughed, throwing his hands into air.

“Very well, how can I refuse when you badger me so? Only do not blame me if you are tired tomorrow. The tale is rather long, and we shall sit here long into the night.”

Meanwhile, Pippin had leaned back on the couch he was sitting on. He put his hands into his pockets, but frowned. His fingers touched a notebook. He had forgotten it, and a graphite pen, there in the morning after he had done some calculations about the harvest on his family estates. A moment of thought, and he drew the things out and opened the notebook.

“Well, why not. I might as well imitate Bilbo a little,” he thought. A little embarrassed, he glanced around to see if anyone had noticed the book. But everyone's attention was fixed to Aragorn.

Pippin put the notebook on his knee and took the pen in his hand. Then he started to write, being anxious not to miss a word as Aragorn began his story.
Chapter end notes:
As there is very little known of Eldarion, I have assumed that he was born in 18 FO. This is just a convenient device for this story, not founded on anything else. That the royal pair had two daughters is just an assumption as well.

As for Elboron, for obvious reasons I have assumed he was born only a few years after the War of the Ring.