AN: Originally, this story was just going to be a one-shot but I decided to change it to a collection. It won't be updated terribly regularly, just when I get inspired to add another story. This story is largely pointless, it's just a short story of Gilraen in Rivendell. Like most things, this will eventually tie into some other things I have planned.

Míriel is an original character in this story...given the context I didn't think it very probable that one of the canon characters would just drop by for this particular story.


Potatoes

Míriel propped the potato basket against her hip as she pushed the door to the kitchens open, pausing for a moment as a wave of heat from the ovens washed over her.

She hated this part of her duties as the cook's apprentice the most. She did not mind working in the kitchens, but the first wave of heat was the worst, the first sign that she had to stay inside on a beautiful day.

Pausing to set the basket of potatoes on the table, she pushed the door open and propped it with a small brick. At least she could still see the day, she thought, even if she could not enjoy it like the rest of Imladris.

With a sigh, Míriel sat at the table and pulled one of the potatoes toward her. Armed with a knife, she quickly peeled and quartered the potato, tossing the pieces into a large pot.

The task was fairly tedious, and the potato basket rather large, and Míriel found her attention wandering by the time she had finished the fourth potato. Knife halfway under the skin of the fifth, she stopped and stared out the door, her eyes riveted on a tall, slender tree on the other side of the gardens.

A loud noise caught her attention, and she nearly dropped the potato she was holding as she looked around.

"Do you need some assistance?" Míriel asked in a kindly voice, setting the potato and knife aside and rising to get a better look at her unexpected visitor.

Someone had entered the kitchen and was stretching up to reach one of the cabinets, but whirled around upon hearing Míriel's voice.

"Lady Gilraen," Míriel gasped, curtsying quickly. She should have recognized the human woman...all things considered, Gilraen was certainly not an elf.

"Please, do not stand on ceremony with me," Gilraen shook her head, brushing her skirts with one hand.

"Is there something I might help you with?" Míriel asked, glancing up at the cabinet in which Gilraen had been looking.

"I was trying to find a kettle," the woman admitted. "I had been hoping to make a cup of tea."

"Of course," the elf-maid smiled, finding the kettle and filling it before lowering it onto the fire. "Do you require anything else?"

Gilraen hesitated, her eyes moving to the potato basket. "Potatoes?"

Míriel blushed. "It is my duty this afternoon...would you like me to cook some for you now?"

"No," the woman shook her head. "Do you..." she hesitated, and turned back to face the fire.

"Did you have a question, Lady Gilraen?"

"No, only...might I ask a question of you?"

Míriel lowered her head slightly. "Anything that is within my power to answer."

"First, what is your name?"

"Míriel."

Gilraen slowly turned to face the elf-maid, her expression hesitant. "Do you need help, Míriel?"

She started, glancing up to stare at the woman. "I beg your pardon?"

"Your potatoes...it is a shame that you are cooped up in this kitchen when it is such a beautiful afternoon," Gilraen commented, sitting at the table and finding Míriel's extra knife. "Two sets of hands will make the work go much faster."

Míriel hesitated, but slowly sat across from the human woman. "But this is the work of a servant...I am only an apprentice to the cook, work like this is beneath you."

Gilraen laughed, easily stripping the peel from one potato. "My husband was chieftain of the Dúnedain. Such a position did not put me above work like this. Many are the times I served food made by my own hands."

Despite herself, Míriel was growing interested. "And the other women?"

"There were not many with us," Gilraen explained, reaching for another potato. "Oh, I did not cook every night...we shared those responsibilities among ourselves. Many of the rangers cooked as well—in fact, Arathorn used to say that it was a poor ranger who did not take his turn at the cooking-fire at least once in a year."

Míriel smiled, studying her companion. A few strands of gray-brown hair had fallen out of Gilraen's intricate braids to dangle in the woman's face, only to be shoved back with a huff of annoyance. "You must miss him terribly."

The human paused, her knife still in her hands as her gaze turned inward. "There will never be another man like Arathorn."

"No."

"And his name," Gilraen gave a heart-breaking sigh, her hand pressed to her forehead. "Lord Elrond has suggested that my husband's name be stricken from our lips. To protect Estel, of course."

"Of course." Míriel was one of the few privy to the details of Elrond's adoption of the human boy—largely because her husband, Emyntur, was a close confidant of Elrond's twin sons. "If he asks about his true father...your husband..."

"Thoron." Gilraen shook her head and tried to focus on the potato in her hand. "It was an alias he used once before. My son will grow up believing he was born to a man named Thoron."

Míriel fell silent, standing only to fetch the kettle and pour tea for her companion. "He will understand."

Gilraen looked up with a smile. "I suppose Arathorn would have understood as well."

The she-elf suddenly reached across the table, capturing the woman's arm. "It will not be forever," she replied. "Aragorn will know of Arathorn in time."

"Yes," Gilraen nodded. "You are right."

Míriel smiled and sat back in her chair, huffing out a sigh as she regarded the pile of potatoes beside her. "I suppose we should get back to work."

Gilraen laughed, pulling out another potato to peel. "It could be worse, Míriel."

"How?"

"You could be cooking for a pack of hungry dwarves."

The cook's apprentice raised her eyebrows, shaking her head. "I do not believe we shall ever see such a day in Imladris."


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