B2MeM Challenge: Loss of innocence
Format: short story
Genre: angst, humour, hurt/comfort, family
Warnings: mention of wounds and medical procedures
Characters: Aragorn, Eldarion, OMC
Summary: Eldarion is distressed.
Disclaimer:The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.
“The wound is healing nicely,” said Aragorn. “I think the stitches should come out today.”
“That is for me to decide, sire,” said Aedred. “Now if you would just remove your tunic and shirt and sit on the couch so that I can examine you.”
“I hope your hands are not as cold as last time,” Aragorn grumbled. “Warm them in front of the fire!”
“My hands are perfectly warm,” said Aedred. “Now if you please, my lord.”
Aragorn reluctantly got up from his desk and moved over to the couch. He was about to sit down when he noticed Eldarion’s wooden dragon, Smaug. He moved it over to his desk.
“You would need more stiches if you had sat upon the dragon’s spines,” said Aedred.
“Well, I did not, and there is no need to look so cheerful,” Aragorn replied testily. “I am always telling Eldarion not to leave his toys lying around. He will be looking for it later. You might have sat upon it yourself, if he had left it on that chair you have just vacated, then you would need me to stitch you!”
“And you have no need to look so cheerful either!” Aedred retorted. “Now, sire, if you would permit me to examine the wound?” While Aragorn disrobed, he turned aside to wash his hands in a bowl of hot water that a servant had brought earlier for the purpose. Aedred then dried his hands and carefully unwrapped the bandages that adorned the King’s left shoulder and revealed dark purple bruises and an ugly, jagged sword slash.
“You are lucky, sire,” Aedred pronounced. “The wound is healing cleanly and there is no infection. I suppose you have your Númenorean constitution to thank. You have been very fortunate this time. You should take better care of yourself upon the field, my lord.”
“I am King and must lead my men into battle,” said Aragorn. “Would you have me skulk at home and let others lead my armies?”
“I am certain your Queen would be delighted if you let your capable captains do their job,” said Aedred.
Aragorn made no reply, preferring to allow the healer to concentrate on removing the line of neat stiches.
“I will apply a salve of hypericum and then bandage it again,” said the healer.
“Calendula would be better,” said Aragorn. “It itches now that it is starting to heal.”
“Are you treating this wound or…” Aedred was interrupted by a knock on the door.
Aragorn reached for his shirt to cover himself, but too late.
Before either man could say anything, Eldarion burst into the room. “Ada, have you seen, Smaug?” he cried.
“How many times must I tell you that you should wait after knocking to be told if you may come in?” Aragorn chided. “I am occupied with Master Aedred here.”
Eldarion was not listening. Instead, he was staring fixedly at the bruises and the livid wound upon his father’s shoulder. “Ada, you are hurt!” he cried.
“I was hurt, but is better now,” said Aragorn. “I told you that I could not lift you up for a while after the battle with the rebel Southrons.”
“I didn’t think you were hurt so bad,” said Eldarion. His lower lip started to tremble.
Aragorn sighed. This was the last thing that he wanted his son to witness at such a young age. Eldarion had often visited him when he was ill or injured, but he and Arwen had taken great care that his wounds were always covered. He knew that one day Eldarion would have to learn about wounds, but Stars, not yet! He was little more than a babe. Why did he have to lose his innocence so soon over the ugliness of fighting and wounds?
“Does it hurt bad, ada?” Eldarion asked tearfully.
“Not now, ion nîn.”
“Did the bad men hurt you?”
“They did, but Master Aedred made it better.”
“Ada must stay at home and not let the bad men hurt him again,” said Eldarion.
“I cannot do that, ion nîn. I am a soldier and the King and I have to fight to protect all my people.”
Eldarion’s sobs increased. Heedless of this still healing wound, Aragorn scooped the little boy up in his arms. “Shush,” he soothed. “There is nothing to cry about. Ada is better now and he hopes it will be a long time before any more bad men want to fight against us.”
“I’ll fight the bad men!” said Eldarion.
“When you are older you shall, but not for a long time.”
Eldarion clung to his father, causing Aragorn to wince at the pain in his shoulder. Suddenly, he felt a warmth emanating from Eldarion’s small hands and easing the pain in his injury. He had hoped that the child would inherit the healing powers of his forebears, but had not dared to hope it would be so strong, and at such an early age. He struggled to hold back his own tears.
“Master Eldarion, I think this fine dragon belongs to you, does it not?” said Aedred, noticing Aragorn’s discomfort.
“His name’s Smaug,” said Eldarion, allowing his father to put him down.
“Well take Smaug back to the nursery,” said Aragorn. “I must let Master Aedred finish tending my wound then I will come and tell you a story before bedtime.”
His tears quickly forgotten, Eldarion left the room, Smaug tucked under his arm.
“He has the healer’s gift,” Aragorn told Aedred. “I would not have had him see a wound so young, though.”
“Sadly, children cannot remain innocent for long,” said Aedred. “I was already helping bind wounds at his age. My father was a rider and my mother was sickly and my sisters but babes. There was none save I to assist the healing woman when he came home wounded after fighting Orcs. That was how I became interested in healing and it seems it might be the same for your son. Maybe he too will grow up to heal wounds.”
“I fought so that no more fathers and sons would lose their lives in battle,” said Aragorn. “I can hope only that by the time Eldarion is grown there will be fewer wounds that need healing and our little ones can remain innocent of the horrors of war.”
A/n. Aedred is a recurrent OC of mine. He was born in Rohan and trained in as a healer in Gondor, where he now has the unenviable job of being Aragorn’s healer. He and Aragorn are good friends and colleagues.