Title: Glass Marbles
B2MeM Prompt:N32 Person vs self- Doing the right thing(when it's really hard). Apothecary's Garden – wolf's bane/sprain
Format: short story
Genre:childhood, h/c, fluff, angst
Characters:Aragorn,Arwen, Eldarion, Faramir, Éowyn OFC, OMC
Pairings:Aragorn/Arwen, Faramir/ Éowyn
Creator's Notes:Wolf's Bane is better known as Arnica in the Banquet is the annual event referred to in "All Work and No Play". Dedicated to shirebound.
Summary:Eldarion gets into trouble
Eldarion loved his marbles. They were not just any old marbles like the boring clay ones the children he saw in the streets played with. These marbles were made of glass in beautiful sparkling colours. They had been a birthday present from Uncle Gimli and he played with them constantly.
His Naneth was less fond of the marbles and was always scolding him for leaving them lying around. Eldarion thought she was making a fuss about nothing something all grown-ups were prone to doing.
He was bored today as his parents were holding a banquet for the Ambassadors in the Great Hall and were too busy to play with him. The Ambassadors were all such solemn gloomy old men who mostly wore strange clothes. Eldarion disliked most of them. Ambassador Tahir wasn't too bad as he brought the young Prince gifts and he allowed his children to play with him sometimes. Indeed, he had beaten the Ambassador's son at a game of marbles, a fact he was very proud of, as the boy was much older than he.
Eldarion was only allowed in the Great Hall when a grown-up was with him. His Naneth said he might fall down the steps or damage the statues. It was such a fun place to play, though, and the stone floor and the size of the hall made it perfect for a game of marbles.
When he was passing the Great Hall with his Nanny one day he asked if he might go inside to play.
"Not this afternoon, Master Eldarion," she said. "The servants are preparing the hall for the banquet. Your Mother says you may watch the Ambassadors arrive, though, this evening before you go to bed if you wish."
Just then the Cook appeared who was his Nanny's best friend. "All this extra work is playing havoc with my lumbago," she grumbled.
"The damp is making my arthritis a misery," said the Nanny. "Wakes me up early it does."
"My back does that too," said the Cook. "And my knees ache too."
Eldarion knew once the two ladies started talking about their ailments that they would continue for a very long time. He seized his opportunity and slipped into the Great Hall as the doors were open wide. A few servants were bustling around and the hall was filled with tables covered with long white tablecloths. Eldarion slipped beneath a table and took his bag of marbles out of his pocket. He was soon engrossed in a game.
All too soon, though, he heard his Nanny calling his name from outside. He snatched up the marbles and put them back in his pocket.
"Here I am!" he said appearing from behind his Nanny.
"You gave me quite a turn there wandering off, Master Eldarion. Where were you?"
"Just over there." He made a vague gesture.
"Well come on now, you must change into your best clothes if you are to watch the banquet begin."
Eldarion pulled a face but obediently followed her inside.
The Ambassadors processed into the Great Hall in a flurry of flowing robes and cloaks of every hue. Eldarion watched them intently. Then a gleam on the floor caught his eye. It was one of his marbles, the large one with the red and yellow twirls inside it. It was on the floor where the Ambassadors were walking. It must have rolled from under the table earlier.
He knew he should go and pick it up, but if he did, he would be in trouble. He decided just to leave it. Most likely no one would trip on it and if they did, it would only be one of those stupid Ambassadors. He'd often heard his father grumbling about them.
The Ambassadors made their way over to the tables where they stood waiting. Next came Uncle Imrahil followed by Uncle Faramir and Aunt Éowyn. Eldarion held his breath. Then the King and Queen entered robed in all their finery. His Naneth paused for an instant to smile at him as they made their way towards the dais. Then it happened, his father's boot caught on the marble and he almost fell but grabbed on to a table with one hand and with a mighty effort prevented himself from falling. He righted himself but clutched at his wrist and grimaced.
A commotion broke out as voices cried, "Look to the King!" "Has he been attacked?"
Eldarion's heart sank into his boots. The marble had rolled towards him and no one noticed him pick it up and put it in his pocket during the confusion.
"Fetch Master Aedred from the Houses of Healing!" his Naneth cried.
"Everyone keep calm and take your places," said Uncle Faramir who had rushed to the King's side together with Aunt Éowyn.,"
"I am well," said his Ada. "There is no cause for alarm."
"Master Aedred can decide that," said his Naneth. "What happened?"
"I do not know," said his Adar, grimacing again. "Something made my feet give way beneath me."
"The servants swept the floor thoroughly," said his Naneth. "This seems to be no accident."
Eldarion started to cry. His Ada was hurt and it was all his fault. At least no one would ever find out, though.
"Let me take you to bed, Master Eldarion," said his Nanny.
"No!" Eldarion protested.
"Let him wait to see what the Healer says," said his Naneth. "He will not sleep unless he knows his Ada is not seriously injured."
The Royal Family retired to an anteroom to await Master Aedred. Uncle Faramir and Aunt Éowyn reluctantly returned to the banquet and ordered the servants to serve the first course.
Master Aedred soon arrived, he had obviously run all the way from the Houses of Healing as he was somewhat out of breath.
"There was no need to send for you," Aragorn greeted him. "It is just a minor sprain."
"That is for me to decide," said Master Aedred. "Healers are the least qualified to treat their own injuries."
The Healer prodded Aragorn's wrist, saying "hmm" several times when the King winced. At last, he said. " Nothing is broken. It is just a sprain. I will apply a salve of wolf's bane and a bandage. You must apply ice and you must support your wrist in a sling for a while to keep the injury elevated until it heals."
"I know all that," said Aragorn.
"Well make sure you follow my instructions," said Master Aedred. "You are very fortunate not to be seriously injured. If you had hit your head on that stone floor the consequences do not bear thinking about." He looked sternly at the King then called for a servant to bring ice.
"Come now, Master Eldarion," said the Nanny. "The Healer says your father is not badly hurt. There is no reason for you to stay up any longer."
His Naneth came towards him to kiss him goodnight. "Sleep well, dear one," she said. "You can see your Ada in the morning."
Eldarion hardly slept at all that night. It was all his fault his Ada was hurt. He wouldn't be able to play for a few weeks or do all the boring grown-up things like signing papers. His Ada had told him such things were important, though. He had to sign decrees or bad things might happen. He would be in such trouble if his parents ever knew. They did not, though. His marbles were in their bag in his toy box.
When Eldarion went to his Naneth's solar the next morning, he found it rather crowded. His Ada was there, as were Uncle Faramir and Aunt Éowyn. They were so engrossed in conversation they did not even notice him enter.
"It was no accident," said Aragorn. "Some object was placed there to trip me."
"Varda be praised they failed to seriously injure you," said Arwen.
"We found nothing," said Faramir. "I had the Guards search every inch of the Great Hall and I searched it myself too."
"Who would want to attack you, Estel?" asked Arwen. "It is the gravest insult to attack a King. We should double your Guards and send troops to the borders."
"I cannot see Tahir capable of such an act," said Faramir.
"Nor would Rohan do such a thing," said Éowyn rather heatedly.
"Maybe the attack was not aimed at me but one of the Ambassadors?" said Aragorn. "Khand and Rhûn have been sabre rattling for some time. There could be outright war either between each other or with us."
Eldarion did not fully understand all the grown-ups were saying. He did understand, though that Guards and troops and war were very serious and very bad things. He was terrified. What if his marble led to his Ada going away? What if people got hurt? But if he told, he would be in a lot of trouble. If he did not tell, the grown-ups were in a lot of trouble. He thought of everything his Naneth and Ada had told him about speaking the truth and knew what he must do. "It was my marble," he mumbled.
"You should not interrupt when people are talking," said his Naneth. "And do not talk with your mouth full."
"I'm sorry, but Ada fell over on my marble and got hurt. I picked it up and it's in my room." Eldarion blurted out in a rush.
"You were not in the Great Hall until the accident happened," said Arwen. "How could it be one of your marbles?"
"I sneaked in earlier and played with my marbles under the tables," Eldarion confessed. He hung his head unable to meet the shocked looks on the grown-ups faces and started to cry.
His Ada walked over to him and tilted up his head with his good hand forcing him to look at him. "You have been very naughty, Eldarion and I am most displeased," he said. "You will not play with your marbles again until you have learned to be responsible. As punishment, you are to have extra lessons for a month and you are not to ride your pony or go out to play until my wrist has healed. Your actions could have had very serious consequences, but at least you owned up. I am proud of you for that. Now go to your room."
A week later, Aragorn decided he needed some exercise. His wrist was still in a sling, but there was nothing wrong with his legs.
"I shall take a walk in the City," he told Arwen.
"Why not take Eldarion with you?" the Queen suggested. "He is miserable hardly being allowed out and a brisk walk is hardly a pleasure outing."
"The exercise will do us both good," said Aragorn.
Eldarion jumped for joy to hear that he was going for a walk with his Ada.
"It is for healthy exercise, not for fun," his Ada cautioned.
Hand in hand they walked through the City, the Guards trailing behind. Eldarion espied a group of shabbily clad children in a garden in the second circle playing marbles. He looked at them longingly. Their marbles were not like his though, they were made out of clay and did not roll very well.
"Why do those children play with clay marbles? asked Eldarion.
"Glass ones like yours cost a lot of money," Ada told him. "These children's parents can not afford them."
"Will it be a long time before I can play with my marbles again?"
"Yes," said Ada grimly.
"I'd like to give them to the poor children then," said Eldarion. "May one of the Guards go and fetch them please?"
Eldarion found himself enveloped in a one-armed hug from his Ada. "You might be naughty at times, ion nîn, but you have a good heart. Indeed, the children can have the marbles and I shall give their parents coin for some better clothes and extra food for them too. We will wait here while the Guard fetches the marbles and you can give them to the children yourself."
Eldarion beamed and hugged his Ada back. His Ada was no longer cross with him and Uncle Gimli might give him some more marbles or something even more fun at Yule.
A/n Written for the 2019 BTMEM Challenge.