Format: short story
Genre: drama, angst, h/c
Characters: OFCs, OMC, Aragorn, Arwen
Pairings: OMC/OFC Aragorn/Arwen
Creator's Notes; Some events in this story are a retelling of “Tongues of Men and Angels” from Adiva's POV. http://www.storiesofarda.com/chapterlistview.asp?SID=6608 Adiva is a recurring OFC in many of my stories.
Summary:Ambassador Tahir and Lady Adiva arrive in Gondor.
Adiva paced the chamber anxiously, her hand on her swollen belly. She took a deep breath and went to the window where she could look out at the moon. She could still hardly believe that she was free to practice her faith without the fear of arrest, torture, and death.
She bowed her head then lifted up her arms towards the moon and prayed. “Blessed Lord and Lady, esteemed deities, shine upon my honoured husband and grant him favour this day.”
A feeling of peace came over her as she spoke the prayer. She sank down upon the cushions on the floor and called for Falah to bring her some mint tea.
“Honoured Master will soon return with good tidings, Honoured Mistress,” said the maid.
“You believe he will?”
“Why should he not? The esteemed Kha Khan is his kinsman. He will give esteemed Master great honour.”
Adiva sighed. She feared that “great honour” might mean a military command post that would take her Tahir away from her and their sons while exposing him to constant danger. There were still factions that opposed the new Kha Khan's rule. It was not long since Tahir had returned from the war against the West and had only just fully recovered from his wounds. She sipped the tea and prayed again.
Just then the door opened and Tahir hastened into the room. Adiva rose to her feet. Her husband embraced her, his face alight with joy. “Fair Blossom, the Kha Khan has given me great honour!”
“What honour has he given you, esteemed husband?” Adiva could feel her heart pounding.
“He asked me what I most desired and I requested to become Ambassador for our people in Gondor. Does that not please you, beloved? I shall refuse if you are not happy.”
“You would defy the great Kha Khan and your own heart for my happiness, esteemed husband?”
“I would do anything for your happiness, fair blossom,” said Tahir. “For my own part, I desire peace greatly and hope as Ambassador I could help achieve it. I hope never again, would I have to raise my scimitar in anger. But it would mean a new start for us, my fair blossom, far away from all we hold dear.”
“Will we be able to worship our Lord and Lady of the Moon in Gondor, esteemed husband?” asked Adiva. “I have heard their King is very fierce.”
“The honoured Kha Khan tells me that the King of the West allows free worship unless it be of the false Lord of Gifts, a curse be upon him, fair blossom,” said Tahir.
“Love alters not where it alteration finds, esteemed husband,” said Adiva. “I am happy to go to Gondor with you if I can bring my children, my handmaid, and my mare.”
Tahir kissed her. “Thank you, beloved. Your wishes are granted. You will not need to leave until our child is born. I, though, must set out as soon as I can.”
Adiva drew herself up to her full sight, though she was considerably shorter than her husband. “The children and I will accompany you, my love. We have been apart for too long these past years.”
Adiva's first impressions of Gondor were overwhelming. Everywhere was so green. There seemed to be no sand anywhere and the water kept falling from the sky drenching them on their journey. Because of her condition, she was carried in a litter, but the silk curtains provided no protection. The men of Gondor wore indecent garments which showed the shape of their legs while the women wore much tighter gowns than those of her people. The women seemed to move around freely and many rode horses without their husbands beside them. They all spoke the strange sounding tongue of the West. Her husband had always been interested in the West and had learned the tongue from the merchants. He taught her the uncouth sounding words to pass the tedium of their journey.
Each night they looked upwards to the Lord and Lady of the Moon and offered their prayers. They were a large company as the Kha Khan had insisted they take two men from each of the seven great tribes of Harad. Adiva was none too happy about this since there had been enmity for generations between some of the tribes. The Kha Khan's commands could not be disobeyed, though and Tahir ensured that she and the children were always guarded by men of their own tribe. They also had most of their household slaves with them. At the border, a guard had told them the King of the West did not allow slavery in his lands so they had given the slaves their freedom. Most had elected to remain though, including Adiva's devoted handmaid.
She was happy when they reached their destination, a great city of stone carved into the mountainside unlike anything she had ever seen before. The King of the West had granted them a spacious mansion high up in the City. Adiva could hardly wait to decorate it in the style of their homeland. She would need many more servants to run such a place than those they had brought with them. She hoped it was not too difficult to find servants in Gondor.
The day after their arrival, Tahir was summoned to appear before the King. Adiva could not help but be anxious. He had defeated her land and was said to be cruel and fierce and worship a tree. She had decided he could not be all that terrible, though, as Harad was left to choose her own ruler and some of the captives taken in battle returned home. Her husband, despite his wounds, had managed to retreat from the battlefield and escape the dishonour of capture. Tahir had dressed in blue and purple robes for his audience in the hope of placating the fierce King. She had embroidered them with the symbols of the Lord and Lady in her own hand to protect him.
Tahir soon returned from his audience smiling broadly. “The King seems a good man, fair blossom, and his Steward even greeted me in my own tongue to welcome me! They have invited all the menfolk from Harad to a reception tomorrow and you are invited to take tea with the Queen. You are permitted to take Falah with you. We can leave our sons with a trusted servant.”
Adiva kissed him. I think we shall like our new life here, esteemed husband.”
The Queen was the most beautiful woman Adiva had ever beheld and also the most gracious and charming. She was alone, apart from a plainly dressed woman called Ivorwen who explained in Adiva's own tongue that she was a healer who had learned the language while tending to the wounded from Harad. Adiva was able to hold a basic conversation with the Queen and Ivorwen translated any difficult words. She was beginning to enjoy herself. The Queen liked embroidery and horses so there was plenty to talk about. The child she was carrying stirred within her and kicked quite hard. She patted her belly.
Queen Arwen gave her rather a puzzled look while Ivorwen regarded her knowingly.”Your baby is restless today?”
Adiva smiled. “He or she seems to be dancing within me! How did you know, esteemed lady?”
“My true profession is a midwife, though I tend the wounded when I am needed.”
“You feel your child stirring within you? How wondrous!”
“Would you like to feel my baby moving, esteemed Lady Arwen?”
“You would permit me?”
Adiva gestured to Falah to help her adjust her robes. She guided the Queen's hand to where the baby was kicking. The hand was surprisingly warm against her skin.
Queen Arwen seemed filled with awe. Then she beamed. “How wondrous! I so hope Estel and I will soon be blessed with children. I sense your babe is strong and healthy.”
“May the Lord and Lady make you fruitful!” said Adiva. “But how can you tell that my child is strong?”
“I have special Elven abilities,” said Arwen. “I sense many things.”
“That fills me with wonder, esteemed Lady Arwen.” Adiva knew nothing about Elves but was too polite to say so. She beckoned Falah over to help her with her robe.
“May I feel too?” asked Iorwen.
Adiva nodded. Ivorwen prodded her in the fashion of a healer. “When is the child due?” she asked.
“In two or three weeks if the Lord and Lady smile upon me, esteemed Dame Ivorwen.”
With Falah's help, she covered herself again with her robe. Her body felt so large and ungainly at present. She was amazed by how quiet and private the Queen's apartments were. There were guards in the corridors outside she knew, but in Harad, the Kha Khan's chief wife was surrounded by dozens of attendants at all times. The Queen only had one handmaid who was sewing in the far corner of the room when she was not telling kitchen servants to bring refreshments. She started to get quite sleepy in the peaceful room.
Adiva struggled to stifle a yawn and tried to get more comfortable in her chair. She became tired very easily when she was great with child.
“Would you like to lie down for a while, Lady Adiva?” asked the Queen. “There is a large couch in the next room. You look weary. The journey must have been gruelling for you travelling in your condition.”
“My apologies, esteemed Lady Arwen, I mean no disrespect. My condition drains my strength and I am unaccustomed to chairs in my homeland.. My husband suggested I remain behind until our child was born but I was eager to start our new life in Gondor at his side.”
“Come,” said Ivorwen. “I will make you comfortable on the couch. “The reception could last a while yet. I have attended a few of these diplomatic affairs and they can last for hours.”
Adiva permitted them to lead her to a large comfortable couch. A maidservant fetched a blanket and Falah wrapped it around her and placed soft cushions beneath her head.
She dozed off to sleep and awoke with a start to hear raised voices outside the room.
A male voice was telling the Queen that her Tahir planned to murder him. Highly indignant, Adiva got off the couch and hurried, or rather waddled into the outer room. She was confronted with a very tall man who was grasping a sword. There was something both noble and terrifying about him. “My husband is no assassin!” she cried angrily. “What have you done with my husband? Who are you?”
“I am the King,” said the man. “Your husband is under arrest, my lady.”
“Lord and Lady have mercy!” cried Adiva. A sharp pain shot through her belly. She sank senseless to the ground.
When she returned to her senses, she was lying on the couch again. With her wits, the full horror of her situation returned to. Trying to kill a King was a serious matter. She knew her husband was innocent, but who would listen to her? He would die a most horrible death. She would undergo public shaming and her children taken from her and enslaved. Gondor may not have slaves, but the children of a perceived assassin would find no mercy. She started trembling violently. Another pain tore through her and she groaned.
Queen Arwen entered the room. “There is no need to be afraid,” said the Queen. “Your child will soon be with you.” There was no change in her manner since before the disturbance.
"Then what will become of us?" cried Lady Adiva. "I be shamed before my husband ere we die, and my precious jewels enslaved! My lord never hurt yours!"
Arwen grasped her hand. "The King would never abuse women and children thus, and your husband will be given a fair hearing. I place you and your children under my personal protection."
"You are most gracious, esteemed Lady Arwen." Adiva managed a faint smile.
“The servants are preparing a bedchamber for your delivery,” said Arwen. Ivorwen, your maid and I will assist you. Can you manage to walk?”
“Where is Falah, esteemed lady?” asked Adiva.
“She is with Dame Ivorwen. She said some rather colourful things to my husband according to Ivorwen. She took her away to calm her down.”
“Will she be punished?” Adiva asked fearfully. “She acted out of love and loyalty to me.”
“Estel was not offended. Falah had no idea she was speaking to the King.” The Queen called to a servant in the next room. “Ivorwen will bring her to you. Now can you walk?”
“I think so. The Queen offered her an arm and Adiva rather shakily got up from the couch. They waited until Falah and Ivorwen appeared and the three ladies helped to the bedchamber and assisted her to change into a night robe. Adiva suspected it belonged to Queen Arwen. “Your beautiful robe will be spoiled, esteemed Queen!” Adiva protested.
“It matters not,” said Arwen.
The next few hours passed in a blur of pain as the contractions grew more frequent. Adiva could not have been more kindly treated. Apart from maidservants who brought what was required, she was alone with the two ladies and her maid. They mopped her brow with lavender water, gave her raspberry tea to drink and treated her with every courtesy. Adiva was amazed, the Kha Khan's chief wife would never have held her hand and mopped her brow, not in a thousand years!
“My father is a healer,” Queen Arwen explained when Adiva expressed her puzzlement.
Despite all the kindness, between the pains, worry gnawed at Adiva's heart. She was used to giving birth, but not even during the long dark years of the false Lord of Gift's reign had her husband been in such danger. They had managed to conceal their hatred of him and their faith well away from prying eyes. Now this poor babe she was bringing into the world would be fatherless.“All my life my esteemed husband has longed for peace,” she told Queen Arwen. “He fears your husband as he defeated our people, but he also freed us from the false Lord of Gifts. He has no cause to harm him.” She cried out as another contraction hit her.
“I will tell Estel what you say,” said the Queen.
“You must relax and breathe deeply, Lady Adiva,” said Ivorwen. “Your anxiety could harm your child. The best way to help your husband is to concentrate on delivering his child.”
Adiva tried to do as she was bidden and concentrated on pushing.
Not long afterwards Ivorwen said, “I can see the head. One more big push now.”
Adiva gripped Falah's and Arwen's hands tightly.
A few minutes later a wailing cry pierced the room. “You have a little girl, Lady Adiva,” said Ivorwen. “A little small as to be expected with her being early, but strong and healthy.” She placed the infant on Adiva's chest.
“A daughter! Long have I desired such a fair blossom! Is she not beautiful?”
“She is most fair,” Arwen assured her.
Once the afterbirth was delivered, the ladies helped her bathe and changed the sheets. Queen Arwen gave her a clean night robe to wear and a yawning Falah brushed her long dark hair free of tangles.
“I should return to the Houses of Healing,” said Ivorwen. “Doubtless, I will have more babies to deliver to tonight.” She turned to Falah. “You, girl, should rest, you look exhausted after caring for your mistress. Come, you can lie down in the next chamber.”
“I will stay with your Mistress,” said Queen Arwen. “I need little rest.”
Ivorwen translated and Falah reluctantly let herself be led away.
Adiva unfastened her night robe and offered the baby her breast. The infant latched on at once and suckled greedily. Adiva thought she was fairer than the stars.
Once the child's hunger was satisfied, Adiva laced her robe again and leaned back against the pillows with her daughter in her arms.
She is beautiful," said Arwen.
"You have been most kind, gracious Lady Arwen," said Adiva. "Alas, that she will grow up fatherless!"
Just then there was a knock on the door of the anteroom leading to the chamber. Arwen went to see who it was. Adiva could hear the sound of voices. One was most dear and familiar.
"Tahir!" cried Lady Adiva at the sound of her husband's voice. Tears of joy and relief started to flow down her cheeks.
"My dear love, fairest of flowers! All is well. The exalted Lord Elessar believes my innocence. I shall gift you the finest mare to be found in this land for giving me this fair blossom!" Tahir ran towards his wife. He kissed her tenderly and then his child.
Queen Arwen went over to the window and gazed intently at something outside.
“You are truly free, my love?” Adiva asked in their own tongue. “I could not have been treated more kindly but I have been so worried.”
“I have been treated kindly too,” said Tahir. “It was the accursed sons of Suhayb who tried to kill King Elessar. They oppose the peace treaty and wanted another war between our nations. They will be dealt with most severely. The King wants to see you as soon as you are well enough to apologise for the distress he caused to a lady in your condition. He is a good man.” He offered a finger to his daughter which she grasped in her tiny fist.“A new daughter for a new beginning,” said Tahir. “May the Lord and Lady of the Moon watch over us all in this new land.”