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
Disclaimer:The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.
A revised version of a story I wrote for BTME13
"My wound is healing nicely," said Aragorn. "I think the stitches should be ready to come out today."
"I shall decide that sire," said Aedred. "Now if you would just remove your tunic and shirt and sit over there on the couch so that I can examine you."
"I hope your hands are not as cold as last time," Aragorn grumbled. "They were freezing. You should warm them in front of the fire before you touch me!"
"I am certain my hands are warm enough," said Aedred. "It is not as if you were a baby or a frail old man. Now if you please, my lord."
Aragorn sighed. He reluctantly got up from his desk and walked over to the couch. He was about to sit down when he noticed Eldarion's wooden dragon, Smaug. He placed the toy on his desk out of the way.
"You would need more stiches from me if you had sat upon that dragon's spines," said Aedred.
"Well, I did not, and there is no need to look so cheerful at the prospect," Aragorn replied testily. "I am always telling Eldarion not to leave his toys lying around. He will be upset later, thinking his favourite toy is lost. You might have sat upon it yourself, if he had left it on that chair you have just vacated, then it would be you in need of a few stitches!"
"And you have no need to look so cheerful either!" Aedred retorted. "Now, sire, if you would permit me to examine you?" 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 to reveal dark purple bruises and an ugly, jagged sword slash held together by a row of stitches.
"You are lucky, sire," Aedred pronounced. "The wound is healing cleanly and there is no infection. I suppose you have your strong Númenorean constitution to thank. You have been very fortunate this time. You should take better care of yourself, 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? A king should not shun tasks that he commands others to perform."
"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 a better choice," 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. "Smaug is lost!" he cried. "Ada, have you seen him?"
"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 been to visit him when he was ill or injured since he was a baby, 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 the damage caused by weapons of war?
"Does it hurt much?" Eldarion asked tearfully.
"Not now, ion nîn."
"Did the bad men hurt you?"
"They did, but Master Aedred has 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. I have to fight to protect all my people from those who wish us harm."
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 almost 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 that will not be for a long time."
Eldarion clung to his father, causing Aragorn to wince at the pain in his shoulder. Suddenly, he felt 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, seeking to distract both father and son.
"His name's Smaug," said Eldarion. "He is the best dragon there is!"
Aragorn lowered the little boy to the ground. He ran and took the dragon from Aedred's outstretched hand."
"Thank Master Aedred and then take Smaug back to the nursery," said Aragorn. "Your nanny will be looking for you. I must let my healer finish tending my wound now, but I will come and tell you a story before bedtime."
His tears quickly forgotten, Eldarion left the room, Smaug tucked under his arm.
"Eldarion has the healer's gift," Aragorn told Aedred with pride in his voice. "I felt the pain leaving my wound when he held his hands above it. 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 mother was sickly and my sister still a babe in arms. My father was a Rider and fought many a battle with his Éored. There was none save I to assist the healing woman when he came home wounded after fighting Orcs. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a healer."
"You never wanted to be a Rider of Rohan like your father then?"
Aedred laughed ruefully. "I think I was the only boy in my village that feared horses. I saw one bolt and trample an old man when I was very young. My father's talents were not mine, but it seems your boy shares your gift. Maybe he will grow up to be a healer like his sire."
"I have always fought in the hope that no more fathers and sons would lose their lives in battle, and no more women would be left defenceless and bereft," 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."
Aedred nodded. "I fear that the nature of Men is such, though that our lands will always need both warriors and healers. But I must leave you now, sire to visit my next patient, a young lad who fell out of a tree picking apples. A healer's work is never done whether we have times of war or peace."
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.