A Taste of Honey
Disclaimer - The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.
The Knave of Hearts,
Brought back the tarts
And vowed he'd steal no more. - Traditional Nursery Rhyme
With grateful thanks to Deandra
Brithil brought Eldarion a delicious breakfast of soft white bread, thickly spread with butter and honey, as well as creamy milk to drink, but he was not hungry and ate only a few mouthfuls.
"What is wrong?" asked Brithil. "Don't you feel well, Master Eldarion?"
Eldarion took a deep breath. "I need to see my father," he said, rushing out of the room before he could change his mind. A servant escorted him to the King's study where Aragorn was working.
"Come in!" Aragorn looked up in surprise to see his son hesitating on the threshold of his study. "What is the matter, ion nîn? " he asked, concerned at Eldarion's downcast demeanour.
"Adar! I stole those cakes, I don't want the kitchen maid to lose her job!" Eldarion blurted out. He stood rooted to the spot, resisting the urge to run away and hide from his father's fury.
"You did what?" Aragorn sounded somewhat incredulous. "Why should you steal cakes? Are you trying to protect someone? I cannot believe that my son would steal!"
"I fear I did, Adar. I love honey cakes and could not resist them! I took two when no one was looking and stuffed them in my pockets. I know I was very naughty, I'm sorry." Eldarion glanced at his father's face. Then unable to endure the look of anger, sorrow, and disappointment in his sire's eyes, stared at the floor.
At last the King spoke, "I expected better than this from you, Eldarion," he said gravely. "I never thought to see the day when my son would act like a common thief! You did, however, own up, rather than let an innocent girl take the blame."
"I'm very sorry, Adar," whispered Eldarion. "I won't do it again."
"I should think not," said Aragorn. "I hope you have learned your lesson. To ensure that you do so; you shall not go out riding for a week, nor will you eat any cakes. Instead you will spend more time learning about history, and practicing your writing. I also expect you to apologise to the maid. I will take you to her now."
Eldarion was marched by his father to the servant's quarters. The Housekeeper took them to the room that Indis shared with Brithil and another girl. Indis was packing her possessions prior to leaving, and weeping bitterly. She started when she saw the King and bowed low.
"My son has something he wishes to say to you," said the King.
"Indis, I'm sorry, I got you into trouble," said Eldarion. "I stole those cakes."
"The Queen and I apologise for wrongly accusing you," Aragorn said gravely. "We hope you will stay here with us. We will try to make up for the distress you have suffered. Would you like to take a week's paid leave, to spend time with your family within the next week or two?"
"Oh, thank you, my lord! Of course, I want to stay; I love it here!" Indis sobbed even more loudly. "I should love to be able to visit my mother for her birthday next month!"
"And so you shall," smiled Aragorn.
"Well unpack your things again, then," said the Housekeeper. "The cook will expect you back in the kitchens this afternoon."
"Dry your eyes now," Aragorn said kindly. "The Queen will speak to you later. And Mistress," he addressed the Housekeeper, "Please make sure that Indis' good name has not suffered for my son's thievery. Anyone who speaks ill of her shall answer to the Queen."
The days seemed to pass very slowly for Eldarion. He endured his punishment without complaint and worked hard at his lessons. He was very glad when the week was over.
When Eldarion came back from riding on the first day he was allowed out on his pony again, he found his mother waiting for him with a plate of honey cakes. "Indis made these for you today," said Arwen. "As I believe you have learned your lesson, you may have some."
Eldarion took a cake and nibbled it thoughtfully.
"What is the matter?" Arwen enquired. "You do not seem to be enjoying your cake."
"Somehow, the honey cakes do not seem as sweet as they did before," said Eldarion, sounding puzzled. "I must thank Indis, though."
"You have grown up a great deal this past week," said Arwen. "You have learned that honey cakes are not the most important thing in life!"
"I am proud of you, ion nîn," said Aragorn, entering the room. "You acted like a true Son of the House of Telcontar by choosing to do what was right." He smiled ruefully, recalling a day long ago when he had stolen some apples from Master Elrond's favourite tree and suffered a severe stomach ache all night long as consequence, which his foster father had decided was punishment enough. Growing up was indeed a long and difficult journey, but it seemed that Eldarion at least had embarked in the right direction.
A/N This story was written for the Teitho Contest – Growing Up and was placed 3rd.
Thank you to my LJ Reader who gave me the idea.
If you missed it due to holidays, Chapter 30 of "A Time to Reap is now available. I would love to know how you like the harvest festival.