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Summary: In the spring of 2012, four American children find themselves thrust into an unfamiliar world and part of an unexpected adventure. This story is AU, and blends Lord of the Rings book-verse and movie-verse. This story also contains a lot of spiritual and religious content as a part of the AU elements.
Disclaimer: The world of Middle-earth and all its peoples belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien; the three films of The Lord of the Rings belongs to New Line Cinema and to Peter Jackson. This story is not for profit, but is a gift for the enjoyment of those who read it.
Citations: In most chapters, there will be some quotations directly from both the books and/or the movies. Quotations from Tolkien's books are in italics, and quotations from the movies are underlined. Occasional quotations from other sources as well as silent dialogue, words spoken in emphasis, and passages from the Bible will also be in italics, and those citations will be footnoted at the end of each chapter in which they occur. We will also footnote research sources and credit the ideas of other people.
Thanks: We would also like to acknowledge the invaluable help of our beta, Linda Hoyland, another well-known and prolific LotR fanwriter, whose many wonderful stories also grace this site.
Author's Note: Hiatus. Due to Dreamflower needing some medical procedures, this story will be on hiatus until June.
Chapter 86: My, What a Happy Day
Beregond was preparing to visit his son in the healing tent before he had breakfast, since afterward, he was to attend to the Captain-General, who would be inspecting the Guardsmen today.
He turned suddenly; his hand went to his breast in salute. "Captain-General Lord Boromir, sir! Do you need me already?"
"Not for duty yet, Beregond. I wished to ask your permission to visit your son. I have some questions for him on behalf of my page, Joey."
"Of course, sir. I was about to go and visit him myself, if you please."
Boromir nodded. "I will accompany you, then."
"How is young Joey?" Beregond asked, as they walked. "He seemed very distraught yesterday."
"He was, and still is, to some degree. He feels quite guilty about what happened. He is convinced that he is to blame for Bergil’s injury," Boromir answered. "And he does bear some blame. It is good that he does so—it will serve as a sharp reminder in the future."
"It was no more his fault than it was Bergil's." Beregond shook his head. "You would think the son of a warrior would have more respect for what a weapon can do!"
"Well, I understand that Joey has never been much around weapons in his homeland. And it is possible the broken state of them caused the boys to think of them more as playthings than real weapons. Still, he was instructed to treat weapons with respect before we left upon our journey. I do not think he will ever make that mistake again."
Soon the two Men were in the tent, where they found the attendant just taking Bergil's breakfast dishes away.
"Ada!" Bergil exclaimed grinning, and then he noticed Boromir standing just behind his father, and his face fell. "My Lord! Am I in trouble?"
Boromir smiled and shook his head. "I am here because Joey is worried about you, and he wishes to know how you fare."
"My shoulder does hurt, but not as much as yesterday." Bergil looked surprised at first, but then gazed sadly up at Boromir. “Joey blames himself, does he not?”
Boromir nodded. “Yes. He is blaming himself for your injury.”
“Well, he should not.” Bergil shook his head. “He did not stab me; I stabbed myself. We both lost our footing while we were playing with the weapons. Joey was able to escape injury, but I was not so lucky. I fell on the prod’s spike, so that it stabbed my shoulder.”
"I see. Yet, still, the blame lies with him, and with you," Boromir said gently. "While you are still children, both of you are well old enough to know that real weapons are not playthings. In fact, that is one of the first rules I taught Joey and his brother before we left to come South. That is where the mistake was made. Do you understand that, Bergil?"
Bergil turned his head and looked at his father, who was nodding. "I know. Ada has always told me that real weapons are not playthings. But it was an accident. It is more my fault, since I was so clumsy. And I should have known, too."
"Still, I think that Joey should know that the blame lies equally upon you both,” Beregond said, exchanging a look with Boromir. “If you were not punished enough by your wound, I would have insisted that you share his punishment."
Bergil nodded in his turn. “Yes, Ada.”
Boromir spoke up. "Well, Bergil, I have a question. I believe Joey is reluctant to see you yet, as he fears you might be angry, but I can see that you are not."
Bergil shook his head. "Not at all," he said.
"That is good. I have spoken to the Healer, and he has no objection if Joey spends a part of his day with you each day, helping to attend to you until you are able to leave the healing tent. Is this something you would agree to?"
Bergil nodded vigorously. "Yes, sire." He could not help but smile, both with relief that Joey was not angry with him, and that he would get to see his friend soon.
"Very well, I will send him on when he has finished his part of the punishment, as well as his duty for today." Boromir started to turn, to leave.
"Captain-General?" Beregond asked. "May I ask what Joey's punishment will be? Perhaps I will set it to my son as well, after all."
Boromir shook his head. "Not anytime soon, Beregond. I have set Pippin to make sure Joey learns the proper respect for weapons by taking up his long-neglected training. I think Bergil will need to be well-healed before he can join that."
"Ah, I see." Beregond glanced down at his son. "You will have something to look forward to, then," he said to Bergil. By the time he looked up, Boromir was gone.
Joey had the good luck to have two hobbits for his teachers, and two other hobbits as an audience. Merry happened to be free that morning, and came along to help Pippin out, and Frodo and Sam decided to watch.
"Now, I know you had a little training with us in Rivendell, and on the road and in Lothlórien. But you never really used what you learned there in battle, save for the use of your sling. Have you even practiced with a sword or knife since we left Lothlórien?" Pippin asked.
"No, not really." Joey hung his head. "At least I should have remembered not to play with a real weapon."
Pippin nodded. "That's true. But it's not like I've never forgotten important things like that. I'm the squire, and you're the page—I should have tried to make time for you to have some practice in Minas Tirith."
"Well," said Merry, "at least I was able to get Anwynd to cobble us up a couple of wooden practice blades from some firewood. They aren't as well balanced as the ones the Elves made us in Rivendell, but they will be much safer than live blades."
Pippin stood back. "Merry, you and Joey go first, so I can see just where he needs the most practice."
Frodo sniggered. "Merry! Remember to breathe!"
Merry blushed. That had been one of Boromir's constant reminders to him when they’d first begun to train. He'd had the habit of holding his breath when he concentrated on things. "I've learned my lesson, cousin," was his reply. "We shall see how well Joey remembers his!"
Pippin stood back as the two faced one another, and called out, "Lay on!" and the clack of wood against wood began.
After a while, the cousins exchanged places, and Pippin took up the part of sparring partner. Joey was getting tired, but he was determined not to say anything. He really needed this, and he deserved it, too.
But when he stumbled a little, it was Frodo who called a halt, and insisted that Joey drink some water and rest. "And it is well past elevenses, lads," he added. "Why don't we all go and take an early luncheon?"
After lunch, Merry and Pippin both had duties waiting on them. "Don't forget that you will be waiting on Boromir at the evening meal," Pippin reminded Joey before he left.
Joey nodded. “Right.”
He made his way to the healer's tent and was glad to see Bergil grinning at him. "I'm glad you aren't mad at me," Joey said.
"It was my fault, too," Bergil answered. “You did not hurt me; I hurt myself. I was the one who fell on the spike.”
"Yeah," said Joey. "But it was my idea, to start with, and you know it was."
With a sigh, Bergil nodded. "What are we going to do today, then?"
"Not spar, that's for sure! We’ll have to wait till you’re well for that," Joey answered. "Do you know about tic-tac-toe?"
"I do not think I have ever heard of that. What is it?"
"It's a game." Joey reached into his pouch and pulled out a piece of scrapped parchment and a stick of charcoal. "That's what we call it at home. Pippin says they call it 'naughts and crosses' in the Shire. You’ve never played it, have you?"
Bergil shook his head. So, Joey used the charcoal to draw the criss-crossed playing area and explained the game to his friend. They played several times, until both the front and back of the parchment was covered. "Okay," said Joey, when they had finished playing the last bit of parchment to a draw, "I have to go get cleaned up and ready to wait upon the Captain-General at supper. Bye. I'll see you tomorrow, sometime."
“Farewell,” said Bergil, as Joey left the healer’s tent.
After he cleaned up, Kevin and Jennifer dropped by to see how he was doing. The three of them had a short devotional together, and then each went their own way, with Joey to the Captain's tent, and to his tasks.
Kevin was going to be on watch during the day, now. He, Anborn, and Eradan would take up their post after breakfast at the Southern edge of the camp.
At least he had good news for Anborn. He pulled his friend to one side after breakfast. "Jennifer says that Lalaith has no suitors, and she will introduce you to her today. And Lalaith says she will be glad to meet you." Kevin had decided it would be wiser not to mention the misunderstanding of the day before.
Anborn's face lit up. "Oh, my thanks to you, Kevin! She is lovely, and she seems to be kind. I have seen her lending comfort to the wounded."
"Well, I hope the two of you hit it off," said Kevin.
"'Hit it off'? Is it the custom in your world for courting couples to hit one another?" Anborn looked somewhat shocked.
Kevin laughed. "It's just a saying. I don't know how it got started, but what it means is something like 'get along very well from the start'." Now that he thought about it, "hit it off" was a strange way to say two people got along with each other.
They were almost near the area where Joey and Bergil had their accident. Kevin wished they had been on watch at the time, instead of Mellor and Gelmir. Thankfully, the two of them had been quick enough to spot the boys and bring them to the healers, but Kevin still wished he had been the one to find them.
Eradan said, "I shall take the riverbank. The two of you stay here."
Kevin and Anborn nodded. Kevin watched toward the South, and Anborn watched to the East. It was rather boring. The only thing they saw was three Rohirrim bearing bows, heading off to do some hunting. The Rohirrim waved a greeting, but did not stop to speak. Kevin waved back, smiling.
Occasionally Kevin and Anborn spoke, and as the Sun climbed high, Kevin pulled out some of the dried meat he carried, and his water bottle. It wasn't much of a lunch, but it would do. It would have to, since it would be kind of stupid for one of them to leave his post to bring some food. He wished he'd thought to pick up some journey-bread or something before they'd left camp.
Just then he heard a familiar voice calling, "Kevin!" He turned with a grin to see Jennifer coming, with her friend Lalaith, and each of them carried a large basket.
"We were free after lunch today," Jennifer said, "so we thought we might bring you guys some lunch."
Kevin laughed. "I was wishing I had something other than jerky!"
Jennifer made a face. She had never been a fan of jerky, even back home. "Well, we have some bread, and some cheese, and some sort of cold cooked bird. I think they are quail. Some of the hunters brought a lot of them in yesterday, and the cooks took out the bones and shredded the meat after it was cooked, and added some seasonings. It's good." She set the basket down. "We have some fruit, too! Prince Imrahil brought in a lot of oranges from Dol Amroth."
"Wow! Thanks, Jen!" Kevin quickly shoved the jerky back in his pouch.
"Where is your friend Anborn?" his sister asked. "I don't see him."
Kevin noticed that both girls looked disappointed. "Anborn!" he called.
Anborn glanced over. "Hoy!" he shouted with a wave.
Only about ten feet away, standing near some bushes, the girls were now able to spot him. His green and brown clothing blended into the high grass and the bushes, rendering him hard to see. "Yes, Kevin?"
"The ladies have brought us some lunch! Come on over."
The Ithilien Ranger strode over, his face alight. He gave a small bow.
Kevin introduced his friend to Jennifer and Lalaith. Lalaith blushed, but was able to stammer out a polite greeting.
Anborn bowed slightly. "I am most pleased to meet you, as well."
Kevin had been examining the contents of the baskets. "There is more than plenty here."
He and Jennifer spread out the white cloth that had been draped over one of the baskets and laid it out upon the ground. Kevin looked. "I'm going to take some of the food to Eradan," he said. He took a cloth from the other basket and put a portion of everything on it and tied it up. "I'll be right back!" He headed off to the riverbank to where Eradan was watching, and soon came back.
Kevin offered to continue standing watch, so that Anborn could eat with the girls first. Jennifer sat quietly as she ate, allowing the Ranger and her friend to get acquainted, and then when Anborn had eaten his fill, he relieved Kevin, who was really hungry by then. He and Jen talked about Joey and their friends, and finally the girls cleared up what little remained of the food and took their leave.
"Well," asked Kevin, after the girls had gone out of earshot, "what did you think of Jen's friend?"
Anborn grinned. "She is as pleasant to speak to as she is to look at," he said. "And she does not seem averse to me."
Kevin laughed. "Well, sounds like a good start to me."
That evening the three siblings met once more, this time near the campsite where Joey stayed with Boromir and Pippin. Joey had some news after they had finished their devotions.
"We'll be heading to the Pelennor Fields in about a week," he said. He waited for his brother and sister to react.
"Joey!" Jennifer exclaimed. "Really?"
"Yep. I thought I'd surprise you," Joey replied, with a grin.
Laughing, Kevin reached over and gave him a playful swat. "You stinker! But that's a great surprise!"
"We'll be seeing Mom and Dad really soon now! And Kaylee and Megan!" Joey added, with another grin.
"Well, I think that is cause for one more prayer," Jennifer added. Bowing her head, she prayed, “Thank You, God, that we’re going to be back with Mom and Daddy real soon! And with Kaylee and Megan, too. Thank You so much!” She smiled. “In Jesus’ name, amen.”
“Amen,” Kevin echoed, and a broad smile spread across his face.
That was the pattern of their days, though Bergil was released from the healer's tent in two more days. He still could not join in the sparring, as his arm was in a sling. But all three of the McCloud children were kept busy in all the preparations for the departure.
It was a good thing that they all were so busy with tasks that week that it left them with little time to be impatient. At last, the final day at their campsite arrived, and at the end of that busy day, they all went to bed early, eager to be on their way the next morning. And once again, they all shared the waggon in which they would make their final journey back to the White City, sleeping there once more.
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