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            His interest captured, he shimmied down the tree to get a better look at the young Elfling shadowing the young fawn that grazed just at the edge of the doe’s watchful gaze. Rumil was intrigued by the wonderment in his nephew’s eye, as he quietly made his way in a large circle, as to not disturb the young deer. Cautiously, Beckett approached, hand outstretched, quietly whispering. The Elf watched in amazement as the fawn reached her nose out to the Elfling and nuzzled him gently.

            For several minutes, the earth stood still as Rumil watched youngling and youngling communing together. Too soon, the sweetness of it all ended and the fawn wandered off, leaving the Elfling standing in the clearing alone.

            “You have wandered far, Beckett. Do your parents know where you are?”

            The Elfing looked over his shoulder to his uncle. “They are too busy to worry about me.” Rumil recognized Haldir’s scowl on the child’s face and he moved closer, walking side by side with Beckett.

            The Elfling’s likeness to his father was remarkable. He would be his very image, if it wasn’t for his wild auburn hair. Beckett had his father’s stoic manner, his sternness, his scowl, his very arrogance. But he had his mother’s sense of independence and impulsiveness. And Rumil realized he was dealing with Bronwyn’s rash temerity at this very moment.

            “So, what have your ada and mama done to upset you so?” They began to stroll through the woods, Rumil gently steering the Elfling back towards Isengard.

            “Ada promised to take me into the woods to see the deer. He promised to let me talk to the trees.” The child’s small voice shook with angry emotion. “He promised to teach me to shoot a bow.” He kicked at a pile of leaves. “He said maybe one of the Ents, possibly Treebeard would take us for a ride.” Beckett stopped and stubbornly crossed his arms over his chest. “He promised.”

            “Has your ada ever broken a promise to you, Beckett?”

            “No.” The bottom lip was out in a Bronwyn-like pout. “No, he has not. But then he had a headache.”

            “Ah.” Haldir’s headaches were legend. Whether caused by the constant pulling on his braid or brought about by the mere fact that the Valar had set his wife in the back of his mind at all times, was anyone’s guess. There was only one cure for them and only Bronwyn could help him.

            “Your ada cannot help that he had a headache. What did he tell you?”

            “He said to wait an hour.” They walked in silence for a few moments. “He said to wait, but then he and Mama started kissing and they look silly.”

            “They look silly.”

            “Yes, that is what I said. They look silly!” The child’s tone was so like his brother’s that Rumil did not have the heart to admonish him for his impudence. “And they move their head around like so.” Beckett’s head moved back and forth in mock kissing, eyes rolling. Rumil bit his tongue to keep from laughing. “And then, they stick their tongues in each other’s mouth.” Beckett shuddered. “It is nasty!”

            Rumil looked down at the child. “Well, when you are older, you will like kissing and sticking your tongue in someone’s mou-”

            “No, I will not!” Beckett’s shoulders came up around his pointed ears. “YRCH! And what is worse, then they go to their room and instead of sleeping, they close the door and make funny noises.”

            Rumil arched an elegant eyebrow. “Funny noises.”

            “Must you repeat everything I say?” Beckett was quite put out, not realizing his uncle was doing everything in his power to not out right laugh at the Elfling.

            “What kind of funny noises?” Beckett took a deep breath.

            And started breathing heavy. “Oh! Oh! Yes! Please! SAESSSSS… Oh…” the sounds of his nephew mimicking his parent’s love making outbursts were unfortunately, quite close to the actual thing. Rumil thought he would bite his lip until it bled.

            “Do you know they sleep naked?”

            “Beckett! How do you know that?” They had come to a fallen log and Rumil sat down, setting the Elfling on his knee. Grey eyes looked into stormy brown ones.

            “I had a nightmare the other night and I went to their room. Ada had Mama all hugged up, so I crawled into bed behind him.” The stormy brown eyes became very confused. “They were not wearing night clothes and Ada was holding on to Mama’s… “ his small hands went to his chest, cupping imaginary breasts. “I went back to my room. I am not about to sleep with naked Elves!”

            Rumil shifted uncomfortably. He needed to change the subject quickly.

            “Beckett. When your Ada promised to take you to the woods, what did he say?”

            “He said to wait an hour. He had a headache and Mama would fix it and he would take me in an hour.”

            “Did you wait an hour?”

            “No! I wanted to go right away!” Beckett had inherited a double dose of stubbornness and Rumil knew it. “Mama is always reading and exploring the fortress and playing with the twins and Ada is always watching Mama and he plays with the twins too.” A large tear slid down the Elfling’s cheek. “They never have time for me. I do not think they love me anymore.”

            Ah. The Elfling feels like he is being pushed from the nest.

            “Beckett. Do you know the story of the fortress Isengard?”

            The Elfling wiped his nose on his tunic. “Saruman the White Hand was the Istari here. He went bad and made Orcs and Uruk-hai and did bad things to the forest and to Men. He was not good and noble like Gandalf.” Beckett rather liked Gandalf. He brought fireworks and hid candies in his pockets.

            “That is right.” Rumil thumbed over-flowing tears from the little one’s cheeks. “Some Orcs escaped. Where do you think they went?”

            Beckett hiccuped. “Here in the forest?” Rumil nodded.  Beckett was quiet for some minutes. “I did a bad thing, didn’t I?”

            “Your ada asked for one hour, did he not?” Beckett’s head was bowed in shame.

            “Yes.”

            “I have known your ada for a long, long time. He does not lie. He would be very hurt and sad if his Elfling came to harm in the forest. I cannot imagine how hard your mama would cry, if anything happened to you. I know for a fact they love you very much.”

            Little shoulders heaved in sobs. “I am in so much trouble!” Tearful eyes and a drippy nose looked up. “Would you help me?” Using his tunic, Rumil wiped the face of his nephew.

            “I would bet if I put you on my shoulder and I walked very quickly, we could get back to Isengard before your parents finish making funny noises!” Standing quickly, he swung the lad upon his shoulders, taking off at a trot. Before long, tears were forgotten and Beckett was laughing at the antics of his uncle, riding high on an imaginary Mearas.

            They met Haldir as they came out of the garden. The Ents had worked hard to cover the scorched and scoured earth, surrounding the tall black tower with beautiful, flowering plants.

            “There you are! My headache is gone and I have been looking for you! Where is your bow? I promised to take you into the wood to learn to shoot it, I believe?” He stretched his arms out to his son, gently plucking him from Rumil’s shoulders. In an action uncharacteristic for the Elfling, he hugged his father tightly around the neck.

            “I love you, Ada. Do not ever leave me!” Haldir held his son tightly, knowing his fate, this one who would inherit Bronwyn’s bow. The child turned loose and quickly scurried down his father’s leg and hurried into the fortress. “Let me get my bow.”

            Haldir looked closely at his brother. “How far into the wood did he go?”

            “Far enough.” was the quiet reply. “He was quite…angry.” The two stood looking at the doorway where the Elfling had disappeared. “Haldir… tomorrow, if you can pry Bronwyn away from her scrolls and parchments,  Heridil and I would be happy to watch the twins for a while…”

            “She will jump at the chance to go outdoors with him. Feeling left out, is he?” Haldir turned back to his brother, a shrewd look in his eye.

            “Aye. Very.”

            “I thought so.” Haldir started to pull on his braid, but thought better of it, simply slinging it back behind him. “I remember how I felt when you were born. You were the center of attention and I was forgotten; or so I thought!” Haldir rolled his eyes to the sky. “That is why I wanted to spend time with him today. This blasted headache…” He saw Beckett come out the door, small bow and a quiver of equally small arrows in his chubby hands. “No matter, now. We have many hours of daylight still.” He patted his brother on the shoulder. “And tomorrow, too. Thank you for watching.”

            Rumil smiled and placed his hand on Haldir’s shoulder. “Anytime. By the way…” he pulled Haldir close. “…by the way, you might want to consider wearing clothes at night or locking your door.”

            “Wha-”

            “I believe your son is gonna be a breast man!”

            Rumil chuckled as his brother’s jaw dropped to the ground.

***

Fini

***

 Ada – father/daddy

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