The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. This story is written for pleasure not profit.
Most of this chapter was written by Raksha
With thanks to Raksha and Virtuella.
The King and Steward welcomed their second sunny morning in Dol Amroth with a hearty breakfast and a short trip to the wide beaches below Imrahil's castle. Aragorn's backache had gone and both he and Faramir were in good spirits that morning. The sun shone bright in cloudless blue skies over a sea the colour of deep turquoise, a playful breeze ruffled the hair of the King and Princes and their guards. Could the day be any more perfect?
A jellyfish, borne up from southern waters by the summer currents, moved slowly through the breaking waves. Its slow senses alerted to the intruders, and it prepared to reach out and sting the Men's long legs as they bumbled through the water, churning up sand from the ocean floor. But then a deep sense of calm washed over the jellyfish from somewhere else. It chose instead to move away from the Men. Why spoil a perfect day; when there was room enough in this wide shoreline to hide in the warm sea?
Half a league away from the bare feet of little Alphros, the grandson of Imrahil, who swam with his hound and his grandfather and the visiting King and Steward, a bull shark turned in her course. She hungered. Either of the two creatures, the manling or the dog, would make a good meal. Should she stay hidden, or propel herself fast beneath them and snap up her prey?
"No," a voice from the deep signalled, a voice that all its denizens obeyed. "Take food elsewhere", said the voice of the Power. "There are fish in abundance on the other side of the cove." The shark knew better than to argue with Ulmo; so she banked and swam away. The day could still be perfect when she had filled her gullet with squid.
After an hour of swimming, Aragorn and Faramir clambered out onto the sands and stayed under a great tent set out for the pleasure of the Prince's party. They exchanged their sea-soaked britches for clean shirts and breeches, and took refreshment with Imrahil and his pregnant daughter-in-law who had just arrived to join them. They watched little Alphros frolic with his great grey boarhound; and spoke of the towns they had seen, and how they could help the poorest habitations and villages. The day warmed, but never brought too much heat; and the sky turned even more blue, if that could be possible.
Far above them, the winds began to gather, and quarrel, and push the clouds about in an angry fashion. The South Wind refused to give way to the North Wind's bluster, and their fury grew. The East Wind promised rain, the West Wind promised high waters; and they all began to threaten
"No", cried a mighty voice from above the clouds, "Disperse! The day shall remain perfect, for the King of the West and his beloved Steward deserve this respite from care."
The winds hastened away to other, separate climes. None of them wished to anger their own highest Lord.
Below, midday passed with a yawn from the Prince of Ithilien and a contented belch from the Prince of Dol Amroth over a nuncheon of fried clams and fish and honey-cakes. The King stretched out his long legs and dug his bare toes into the sand. "If Arwen and Eldarion were here, the day would be perfect," he observed.
"Indeed," the Steward replied; "I love my mother's land, and your hospitality is without peer, Uncle; but I miss my lady and the children."
"I miss Elphir, who is chasing Corsairs with the fleet," Imrahil replied; "And his brothers are in Rohan with Lothiriel."
Imrahil's daughter-in-law Ancalimë, sniffled; and little Alphros began to cry for his faraway father. The dog whined, sensing their sorrowful mood.
"A day cannot be perfect without one's loved ones to share in it," Aragorn pronounced. "We leave for Minas Tirith tomorrow, Faramir."
From a scarcely imaginable height above them, Arien, the spirit of the Sun herself, heard the words of the King of the West and his friends, and flamed in anger. After all that the Valar had done to give them a Perfect Day, the silly mortals refused to enjoy it! What an Insult to the Powers! "My rays shall sear and burn them!" she cried.
"Peace, Shining One!" came the voice of Manwë. "They can behave like foolish children, these mortals. Rarely are they content, but always they hunger for what they cannot have. Such is their very nature."
Distracted by a crab scuttling across the beach, Alphros ran off in hot pursuit, followed by the dog who now wagged his tail happily. Ancalimë smiled at her son's antics.
"My sons should come home soon," observed Imrahil. "at least I need no longer fear the direct threat of our great Enemy."
Faramir rose from his place beside Aragorn, his eye caught by a pretty pink shell. "I will collect some of these for Elestelle and Elbeth," he said eagerly. "They will love the pretty colours of these tellins."
Aragorn scrambled to his feet to join him. "And how Eldarion will love these razor shells!" he exclaimed. "Look here is a double one! It will be good to show him some of the gifts of the sea. He will appreciate them all the more when we are able to bring him with us."
"I will take some of these scallops and cockle shells for Éowyn to decorate her garden with," Faramir said, selecting the best ones he could find.
"Arwen will love the pink tellins too," said Aragorn, smiling as he found a rose hued one. The two men strolled along the beach laughing and talking.
"See, Shining One," Manwe told Arien." What did I tell you? To these children, joy and sorrow are like the clouds that fleetingly obscure your bright face."
The West Wind stirred merrily; sensing his Lord's approval, and blew lacy clouds across the sky.
"I think we might have a beautiful sunset to end this perfect day," observed Aragorn. "The clouds are high, which portends well."
The Powers smiled benevolently upon two of their most deserving children.