Author: Jo Slater
Summary: The Warden's little family is about to get a big shock.
Time: Some Measure of Peace; How to be Bilingual; The Promise; Nighttime Monsters; Blessed. It has been just over two years since the very end of Just for Tomorrow. Twins are three.
From Slater: I've been debating over this particular ficlet for some time only because it changes just about everything,and I'm happy to finally put it on the screen. I can't wait to see what you all have to say about it. My many thanks, as always! All my love - Jo
I could be wrong. No need to rush into any headfirst decisions. Maybe I was wrong. Then I would just cause chaos for nothing. I'd better be certain before I open my mouth about anything.
I drummed my fingers against my stomach as I stared up at the ceiling with wide eyes.
What if I was wrong? I didn't want to be wrong.
I glanced at Haldir sleeping soundly beside me. His hair was askew and I smiled slightly, carefully brushing a length of it away from his handsome face. He shifted slightly but did not wake.
I could be wrong.
I could be right.
I had better be right!
Maybe I should wake Haldir. Tell him what I thought. Maybe he would somehow know. No, he wouldn't know. That was ridiculous. He had no idea and I didn't need to be telling him before I was certain.
I frowned, looking back to the stars in the ceiling with a frustrated sigh. I needed to be certain before I said anything. I needed to be dead certain.
Galadriel would know. I could go to her.
I grimaced at the thought, memories flooding towards me as I twisted my wedding ring on my finger idly. Things were different this time, I assured myself - if I happened to be right. I was married, I had two children already.
The hard part would be saying it - seeing his reaction. What if he was upset by it?
Why would he be, I admonished myself. He would be thrilled. I knew my husband well enough to know that. Yet…A lot of other Elves said they knew him very well. They also insisted he had never been family friendly.
Even his own brothers said that.
This was ridiculous, I mused, turning over and forcing my eyes to close and my mind to think of something else.
Ana had been acting strange lately. Just the other day she had announced that she was hearing a babe crying in the middle of the night. She later insisted that she wanted to be the only daughter in the family.
Did Ana know something? She did have her many...talents.
I sighed, opening my eyes again. I wasn't going to sleep tonight.
Haldir wouldn't be upset. That was ignorant just to think. I knew better.
Haldir, we're going to have another baby.
I mouthed the words and assured myself it would not be difficult to say. It wasn't difficult to mutter in the dark.
I rubbed a hand against my face in frustration. I would go to the Lady of Light in the morning. She would know. Then I would know.
...Then he would know.
If I was right.
I straightened my skirts as I came to the top of the stairs. The two guards at each end of the flet glanced at me and immediately smiled.
"Good morn, my Lady," said one, tipping his head.
"Good morn," I replied, smiling at him as I passed the archway into the great home of Galadriel and Celeborn. I briefly heard the two guards mutter something to each other, but I did not bother to look back. My heart was slamming in my chest and my palms were sweating.
Not much different than last time, I mused before bitterly shoving the thoughts away.
I climbed the next round of stairs silently, running a hand behind my neck as my hair seemed to be sticking to it. I should have put my hair up, I thought with a frown.
I jumped slightly at the voice as I came around the bend in the stairs. Lord Celeborn had spotted me as he was coming down the stairs. His smile was wide and beaming at me.
"How are you?" he asked as he neared, taking my hands and kissing my cheek.
"Well enough. Yourself?"
"Wonderful," he replied, his eyes twinkling at me in a way that had me feeling a bit light headed. He looked...mischievous. And the great Lord Celeborn was never mischievous.
"Though I would love nothing more than to visit, I must be going. A good day to you, Ashk," he said abruptly, kissing my cheek once more and walking past me without waiting for a reply.
I rubbed my cheek and glanced after him with a frown before I continued on up the stairs. I halted when I came to the great greeting room of the home.
I was shocked to see handmaidens and other servants buzzing around in a frenzy. Among fabrics and flowers, I spotted golden heads bobbing around and yet saw Lady Galadriel no where in sight.
Carefully, I entered the room and dodged between the busy people inside.
"Um - Excuse me," I tried to grab an Elf, but he was obviously engaged in a conversation with a very worried looking handmaiden.
I frowned, my hands moving to my hips as I peered at the currents of Elves flooding around me.
"Ashk, my dear!"
Everyone halted and all eyes landed on me as the Lady of Light suddenly pointed me out. I looked up to see her standing on a balcony above the room.
"Come, come!" she motioned me to her and I cleared my throat, moving towards the stairs on the other side of the room as everyone went back to their business.
By the time I reached the next level, Galadriel was walking towards me in that quiet grace she had. Her smile was still beaming as her arms opened, embracing me briefly.
"You certainly have everyone in a frenzy," I mentioned as she guided me along the hall. "What is the occasion?" I asked, slightly wary.
"Oh, my grandchildren are visiting by the end of the week. You remember Elrond's children, yes?"
My dreary wariness lifted at this. "Yes, of course I do. It has been a long time since I have seen any of them," I replied, recalling the kind trio of Elrond's heirs. I was not ashamed to admit I was constantly fascinated by them. Dark haired Elves - a wonder to me with my own children.
"Yes, they are visiting for some months," she told me with a gleeful smile.
That must have been what Celeborn had been so pleased about earlier, I mused in relief. He surely knew nothing of my visit here.
"And what brings you in my company without those lovely children of yours?" the Lady of Light asked me as we entered one of the smaller dining rooms. Pale curtains lined the open windows and light all but pulsed off of the walls and furniture.
"Oh..." I hesitated as we strolled towards a balcony over looking one of her many gardens. "Well- " I paused again, finding my voice unwilling to cooperate. How exactly did I word this? "I suppose I have a question," I finally said as we reached the balcony.
"Oh? About the babe, then?"
I gawked at her immediately, and yet her face held no change from it's beautiful joy. She waited patiently for a moment and I tilted my head.
"…Yes?" I squeaked, making her laugh; her voice tinkering through the trees and gardens around us.
Sometime later as we were sitting at a small table with tea between us, I let my mind wander for a moment. Another baby. Oh dear. That was just mad! I had my hands full with the twins as it was.
But, oh, I was thrilled!
Galadriel suddenly laughed softly. "It is good to see you so happy," she mused. "I have seen worse reactions in the past."
I grimaced. "Last time was an exception," I muttered.
"Oh, not from you dear, I have seen much worse from Elleths in my day. My own daughter for one. She was utterly shocked when she had taken to her own twins. In fact, she fainted right at my feet."
My eyes widened.
"Not that she wasn't thrilled as well, but Celeborn as oft reminded me that I have no tact in such situations. I tend to - hm - blurt, so he says."
I glanced at her with a smile. "I think I tend to agree with him," I told her.
She gave a dismissive wave of her hand before she suddenly leaned forward, her years seeming to have streamed away with the joy that flooded her eyes. She looked as though she was as young as I, her eyes gleaming with that smile on her lips.
"And how will you tell that husband of yours?" she demanded.
I made a face. "I may just…leave clues. Let him find out on his own," I joked, laughing with her.
Ana watched me go from one side of the kitchener to the next in a flurry. She said something, not that I heard her as I accidentally dropped a pan to the floor with a loud clamor. With a curse, I bent to retrieve it and looked up to see Ana peering at me.
"What did you say, Ana?"
Her eyes were wide and she glanced to my right. I followed the look only to see Moss picking his way carefully towards the food.
"Cat! Get!" I threw the towel on my shoulder at him and he immediately dove off the counter. I looked back to Ana to see that her mouth had formed an O while her eyes were wide. "What is it dear?"
She suddenly gave me the most devious look a three year old could muster. "I heard the baby last night," she informed me.
I gave a laugh, so fake that even she could know better. "…Do you…know a baby is coming?" I asked slowly, wringing my hands together as I stared at my daughter.
"Umm…" She paused an unbearable moment before looking to my stomach. "I told you a baby was coming!" she cried, her face breaking into a smile. "I knew it!"
"Ana!" I lunged at my daughter, my hand covering her mouth even as she continued to declare her victory into my palm. "Shh! Shush!" She quieted and looked at me with her glimmering blue eyes, still smiling. "It's a secret," I whispered to her.
"Really?" she asked, her voice muffled into my palm.
"Yes. A big secret," I told her, drawing my hand away from her face and looking her in the eye. "You cannot tell Ada or your brother yet, all right?"
"Why not?" she asked, frowning.
I thought on it a moment. How did I explain to her why I had to deliberate and plan out everything that would have to occur tonight before I broke the news to her father?
Good lord, it wasn't as though I was giving him bad news! I was acting ridiculous.
Yet, still, I couldn't banish the way my stomach was churning and the way my hands shook in nervousness. We had never even talked about having another child. This was going to shock him right off his feet.
Oh, lord! What if Haldir fainted! I wouldn't know what to do first!
"Because Ama has to tell them. It is...tradition," I told her with a smile.
She stared at me a moment as if deciding whether or not she was going to believe such a thing. Then, she smiled again. "I am glad the baby is not a girl," she informed me.
Had Galadriel not told me the same that afternoon, I would have been shocked by my daughter. Her own abilities were becoming unnerving as of late. And her latest feat, the ability to boil water at a glance, was not all that easy to swallow. She was three years old, for goodness sake.
I ignored my storm of thoughts and smiled at my daughter, tugging on one of her curls.
The door opened abruptly and Orophin came parading in, his nephew sailing out in front of him, giggling to his own delight.
Haldir walked in after them and my stomach flipped as I turned away. One look at me and he would call me on a coin. I was a horrid liar, but I didn't want to tell him right that very instant. I had to wait.
I jumped when a hand slid behind my neck, squeezing slightly.
"No greeting?" Haldir asked in my ear.
I forced a smile, turning and smacking a kiss to his lips. "Hello," I said hastily before moving towards the table.
I could nearly feel him looking at me before I used Orophin for a scape goat.
"Staying for dinner, Orophin?" I asked casually.
"Stay, stay!" Onduras cried.
"Now how could I refuse an invitation like that?" Orophin said with a shrug that made his nephew laugh.
I smiled wickedly at him, silently worshipping him. Haldir would not be able to corner me with his brother around. "Then you can get the plates," I said, pointing to the cabinets.
Ana poked my arm as I was sitting in the common room, papers spread among the seating table in front of me. I had work to do and wanted it done before dinner.
My daughter obviously thought otherwise.
"Ada," she whispered.
She poked me again before I looked at her. She grinned at me, climbing onto the sofa and bumping into me as she poked me one more time.
Laughter erupted in the kitchener and I glanced over my shoulder to see Orophin and Ashk clumsily dancing around my son. Orophin was obviously trying to tell him what to do and what not to do when dancing with an Elleth.
"Ama said I can't tell you," Ana told me, a sly grin on her face.
I frowned, looking at Ana.
"Tell me what?"
Ana covered her mouth with both hands and shook her head.
"She said it was a secret," she told me, her voice muffled behind her tiny hands as she plopped down to sit on the sofa beside me.
"A secret?" I glanced back to the kitchener.
Ashk was acting strange. Or she had been. At the moment it appeared that nothing was wrong. The paleness I had noticed earlier was gone with a lively flush replacing it.
"What kind of a secret?" I prodded my daughter.
She shook her head wildly.
"Moriana, come here. Let Ada work," Ashk suddenly interrupted, calling her from the kitchener.
Ana immediately sprang off the sofa and raced back to her mother.
I peered at her a moment, noticing that Ashk avidly avoided looking towards me. I frowned, unsure of what to think. I liked to believe Ashk was honest with me in everything. I had never had reason to think differently.
Turning back to the maps and papers before me, I found my concentration broken and my mind wandering.
By the time we were all sitting at the table, there was no doubt that Ashk was acting strange. She had sent Onduras to retrieve me to the table. And she found nearly any excuse to get up for some reason or another.
Worse yet, she refused to even glance my way.
My appetite was gone and as the children chatted away about what they had done that day with Litia and her sister, I listened distantly.
Once they had taken a pause to eat, I glanced at my wife.
"Did you go somewhere?" I asked. She rarely left the children with Litia and not another group of toddlers.
She nodded. "I had to speak with the Lady for a short time. Did you know her grandchildren are coming to visit this month?" she said idly, glancing at me only.
"Yes, I was aware of that," I replied, looking at Orophin as my brother ate quietly for a moment.
Abruptly, he leaned forward. "Did you know that Elrohir onc – "
"Ama! Onduras says he knows!" Ana suddenly exclaimed, shocking us all.
Ashk frowned. "Knows what?"
"Your secr— Er. I ..."
I looked at my daughter with a raised brow, taking my drink before shifting my gaze to Ashk.
She had paled considerably causing my curiosity to flame and any dim thoughts of this being a minor situation vanished.
"He does not know. Tell him he doesn't know, Ama," Ana continued with a deep frown on her face.
"Know what?" Orophin asked as I took a drink of the thick wine in my glass.
"That Ama is bringing home a baby," Ana informed him.
My drink gagged in my throat and choked me for a brief moment before spewing over the table.
"Ana!" I cried as Haldir sputtered, coughing into his napkin while Orophin's chair hit the ground after he sprang to a stand to avoid his brother's drink.
Ana grimaced, looking at me. "I'm sorry Ama," she said quietly, her little head bowing. I glanced at Haldir still coughing and immediately stood.
"Let me…Clean this up," I said hastily, turning towards the kitchener.
Orophin was suddenly latched onto me.
"Another babe!" he declared. "Is she right - Did she mean it?" he demanded, hoisting me against him with his crushing embrace. "Are you reall– " He suddenly silenced, glancing towards his brother. "Oh..Right. Not my place yet." He backed away and I turned to look at Haldir, deciding that running was probably not the best idea for this situation.
He looked nothing less than shocked. His eyes were wide and his face rather pale. He pointed at Ana as if asking me a silent question.
I forced a smile amongst my sudden anxiety over his reaction. "She says it's a boy," I told him.
Ana nodded proudly.
"Galadriel said the same," I said then, my smile losing its lie and beaming at him. My hands moved to my lower stomach. "We're going to have another son," I finally said clearly.
He remained frozen in staring at our twins for a moment before he looked at me.
"Really?" he muttered, his pale face slowly gaining back it's color until he was beaming, a grin pulling across his lips.
I nodded. "Really."
He shouted something, suddenly launching out of his chair and grabbing me. I laughed at him even as he hauled me into his arms.
"A boy?" he demanded. "Another boy?"
I grinned at him. "Yes, another boy."
He looked at Orophin, his eyes wide as he pointed at me. "We are having another boy!" he declared. "You'll have a younger brother!" he told the children, pulling me against him. He then froze, separating the two of us. "Not twins again?" he questioned.
I laughed. "No, not this time," I told him as Orophin suddenly crashed into us with a heavy embrace. The twins latched onto us as well, announcing loudly that they were going to have a younger brother while Haldir was nearly crushing me.
"This calls for a celebration!" Orophin declared.
"What- No! Orophin!" Haldir tried to grab his brother before he went sprinting out the door.
"We could take that wall out," he told me, motioning to the wall near the Onduras's bedroom where the child was now sleeping - no thanks to his previously rioting uncles. "Build another room there. That way the boys can be near to each other."
I nodded as his hand feel back to my legs draped over his.
"You are certain it is a boy?" he asked yet again.
I laughed. "Yes, Haldir. It is a boy."
His eyes beamed. "What should we name him?"
I laughed again. "We have a few months to figure it out," I reminded him. He looked disappointed then.
"Eight months left?"
"More or less," I told him as the winter fire crackled near us.
"It seemed like eternity last time," he complained, his head lying back against the sofa's ridge.
I made a face. "Certainly did," I agreed. And it had. Those were the hardest months of my life. What was I going to do this time around? No livestock to keep me busy and certainly to tavern to work in. I would truly going to have to sit around and wait.
That sounded awful.
"But, it will not be like last time," Haldir suddenly said, shifting slightly and drawing me from the corner was cocooned in next to him and into his arms. "The twins were difficult. It will not be so hard this time," he told me seriously.
I smiled sadly at him, my memories strong even as I touched his face. "We have changed a lot since then," I said softly.
He smiled. "Think of it," he mused. "It has been nearly four years since…" He paused and I waited a moment. His eyes flickered as if trying to find the right words. Finally he cleared his throat. "Since Celebruim," he decided.
He still barely recalled the night when I first met him, the night that changed both our lives forever, and we did not tend to bring it up. The past was the past, and that was where I wanted it to stay.
"Four years," I repeated. "That is a long time to us mortals," I said with a smile.
He smiled, kissing me briefly and remaining close. "I never truly thought about having another child," he said then. I raised a brow and he smiled again. "I think I like the idea though."
"Well good," I told him. "Because you're not getting out of serving me breakfast in bed or all those other good favors mothers get before the baby comes," I warned him.
His hand brushed my cheek. "I'd be glad to," he said.
- - -
Well, there you have it. Another addition to the family! This was a big time to show how Haldir and Ash - Haldir especially - have changed since Just for Tomorrow. I really enjoyed writing it - I hope you enjoyed reading it!