AN: Well, this is my first venture in the Eragon fandom. I told myself that I would not get sucked into writing fanfiction for yet another fandom, but... well, let's just say I'm relatively well rounded by now. I don't know if there'll be any more fics from me for here, but you can definitely check out my Harry Potter stuff, my Gallagher Girls stuff, my Young Wizards stuff, my RENT stuff (which only has one fic so far... but hopefully will have more once I finish my next piece!), and finally, my Twilight stuff.
Brom and Murtagh are easily my favorite characters, Saphira being next in line. In fact, I would sort of prefer Murtagh to live over Eragon... is that a bad thing? Ha, anyhow, I just think he's less of any idiot, because let's face it, that's exactly what Eragon is. An idiot. Even character in the books have described him as such. Anyhow, I've always loved to know why Brom chose to be a storyteller and how exactly he got his start as telling stories. So I decided to incorporate a little of everything in here (except Saphira).
I've also realized that little Eragon is adorable. I love him more than 15 year old Eragon, for sure! Well, here it goes... I hope I didn't butcher it completely. Let me know (nicely!) if I did, please.
Disclaimer: I do not own Eragon. Christopher Paolini does. Of course, if he doesn't publish Book 4 and let us see when Eragon finally wins soon (because let's face it... it's an epic hero story... how can he LOSE?) we may have to attack his house!
There was a birth. Brom was not supposed to know of the birth, and more importantly, he was not supposed to meet the child. He was simply a gardener. Oh, yes, and he happened to be a spy for the Varden. But that's not what they knew him as. He was the gardener. Morzan's gardener.
Nobody really could fathom why Morzan, of all people, would want or need a gardener. He didn't, in all truthfulness. But Selena wanted one, and so Selena got one. She never met the gardener, though. She simply passed on her orders through multitudes of servants who told Brom what he was to do with the flowers.
Now, Brom thought that this was all pointless and boring. What did it matter if the roses were by the daisies or by the tulips? It mattered to Selena. All Brom could think about anyhow was his Saphira. Everything reminded him of her. The color of the sky, the roses that she had always seemed to like, despite the fact that they caused her to sneeze horribly, the way rain felt on their backs…
So, while he maintained his awful and tedious cover, he thought of Saphira often to entertain himself. The stories were interesting enough the second time… or the third… or even the fourth or fifth.
Then he met the Black Hand herself, and everything changed. Selena was beautiful, he had to admit, though he wished to avoid her at all costs. He was at one end of a hall, retrieving tools, and she was at the other. Very vaguely, he could hear a baby's cry. Brom shook his head. Saphira had always liked playing gently with children of the Varden. It was going to his head.
Selena's beauty was indescribable, so though he was not even supposed to glance at her, Brom found himself staring like an imbecile. It was sort of like when he was a young Rider and first met the others. They had thought he was an imbecile, for all his weird customs. But he had outgrown that phase. Feeling like an imbecile was annoying.
Furthermore, this beauty was crying. Not just crying, though. Sobbing. Hysterically. She crumpled to the floor with her hands over her faces, sobbing big, fat tears into them.
"Um… excuse me?" Brom asked hesitantly. He could not stop himself from approaching her and offering a hand, which was covered in dirt. Selena looked up at him in anger and loathing.
"I could kill you in an instant," she warned in a low, threatening voice. Brom took back his hand, noting the blade secured to her waist.
"I see that." He paused. "Are you hurt?"
"I'm fine. Who are you?" Selena wiped the last of her tears and came to her feet. She stared Brom straight in the eye and he promptly fell into deep, hypnotizing, foolish love.
"Your gardener," he answered quickly. "You are Morzan's black hand." She looked at him suspiciously.
"How do you know that? I've never met you."
"You're beautiful," Brom said simply and stupidly, the words falling out of his mouth. "They always said that you were, and I didn't believe it until I saw you."
To his surprise, the cold, unfeeling glare softened, and a red flush came to Selena's cheeks.
"I think I like you," she said slyly and patted him on the shoulder. "And you put the roses right where I like them. No other gardeners have ever listened to my requests before. I think I'll keep you around."
And then she walked away without another word.
In the following days, Brom worked harder on the gardens than ever before, in hope that she would pass. And pass she did, smiling slightly more each time.
After a week, she approached him sorrowfully.
"Gardener, I'm afraid that I don't know your name," she said simply, causing Brom to jump in surprise and get thwacked by thorns in the face. He wiped away the blood without hesitation.
"Neal," he lied smoothly.
"And I am Selena," she told him. "Do you mind speaking with me privately?"
"Of course not, ma'am."
"Then come this way."
Brom followed her blindly. In the future, he would have realized what a stupid mistake that was, but in the moment, he was in love. Love does crazy things to people.
They entered a room that was bare, except for a small table and a pitcher of water. A prison cell, Brom realized quickly. He had walked right into a trap. His stomach clenched and he began to panic in his mind. Kill the woman or let her get away? No, no, she was the Black Hand, of course he had to kill her! But how? A pebble through her head? There were none to be seen. Fire through the heart? But that would take so much energy…
Selena must have noted his worry.
"Don't worry," she said softly. "I mean you no harm, Neal. This is the most secure place to talk. Tell me, do you know what happens when one betrays Morzan?"
"They're killed, I'm guessing." Brom watched her carefully, wondering where she was going with this.
"Yes. Killed. Painfully. Do you believe that falling out of love with him could be considered betrayal?" Selena's voice was worried and scared.
"Yes, probably," Brom answered slowly. Selena nodded.
"Then I'll have to kill myself while I still can," she decided and turned to Brom. "I needed someone else's opinion. I figured it was so, but I couldn't be sure… See – you mustn't share this with anybody, do you understand? Or I will kill you."
"I understand fully," Brom said truthfully. He did understand the cut of the knife through flesh, the pain that never seemed to stop, the sword that had slashed through the neck of his Saphira right in front of him… He understood death much more than life.
"I… I have a baby," she whispered. "He's the most beautiful baby there ever was. His name is Murtagh and he's growing up so fast! But Morzan rarely lets me see him, and oh, I miss him so much! He stays in the castle with nannies that care for him, the same castle where you sleep. Do you mind, one night, possibly checking in on him?"
"It's very dangerous," Brom mused.
"Yes," Selena agreed. "But I must know if he's all right. Will you?"
Dangerous… so dangerous… Yet Brom had been in on his share of dangerous missions. Checking in on a child seemed like nothing. But how could he be sure it wasn't a trap? He couldn't, of course. So he'd do what he usually did – dive into a situation, one part brave, three parts fool. He learned not to do that very quickly afterwards.
The child was crying. Brom snuck into the room as quietly as he could, but the child still awoke. He couldn't have been older than two or three. He was sitting in bed quietly, making not a sound. But there were silent tears streaming down his face.
Brom couldn't report back to Selena with the news that her child had been crying! He had to try something to help. What was his name? Marty? Myrtle? No, no that was a girl's name. Murtagh! That was it!
"Murtagh," Brom called softly. "Murtagh, sh. I'm a friend of your mother's."
Murtagh, even the little boy that he was, glared vehemently. Brom laughed.
"You seem to have picked up on the subtle art of glaring already." Murtagh didn't smile. "Why are you crying?"
"You weren't what?" Brom prodded.
"Wasn't crying. I wasn't crying." The boy's voice was confident, but unsure at the same time. "Only girls cry. I'm a boy."
"Oh, but boys can cry, too," Brom told him.
"Bet you cry all the time," Murtagh said. "'Cause I bet you're not brave! I bet you're a chicken! Well, I'm no chicken!"
"Sh, sh, Murtagh, I'm a secret. You can't tell anybody I was here."
"I don't tell no one nothing," Murtagh said, seemingly surprised that anyone would accuse him of tattling.
"I don't tell anyone anything, you mean," Brom corrected. Murtagh shrugged and curled into a small ball.
"Tell me a story," the young boy demanded. Brom wrinkled his forehead, thinking. Only one thing came to mind – Saphira.
"May I sit?" he asked. Murtagh nodded curtly, so Brom took his place cross legged on the floor and began to tell tales of flying spectacular journeys and amazing battles. Murtagh eventually nodded off to sleep, but not without the mumbled words, "Come back tomorrow, please," were said. Brom promised.
And so, Brom became Neal the gardener, the secret storyteller, and eventually, the secret lover of Selena.
The door to Brom's door in Carvahall was not made for batterings. So, when Brom heard the incessant knocking that someone was making so late at night, he couldn't help it. He had to get up out of his warm bed and yell at them for possibly breaking his door.
"What're you doing? You're going to break it!" he indeed yelled when he flung open the wooden panel. Before him stood a short, young boy, no older than five or six. He had several teeth missing and Brom knew that it was the most adorable thing when he smiled.
But Eragon was not smiling. He was crying.
"Eragon? Is everything all right? What are you doing in town so late? Where is Garrow?" Brom instantly softened. He had always had a gentle side for children, perhaps a trait passed on from Saphira. He knew that she would have loved this boy. Perhaps it was further than that, though. He felt a connection to Eragon unlike any other.
Though, he figured, that might have to do with the fact that Eragon was his son.
"I'm running away," Eragon stated determinedly.
"Oh, are you?" Brom decided to humor him. "And where are your belongings? Your clothes? Food?" This realization came on Eragon quickly. He cussed under his breath a word that Brom was sure he had accidentally taught the child during one of his visits to town.
"I forgot," Eragon admitted. "I only decided to run away about an hour or two ago."
"Well, why did you decide to run away, then?" Brom asked, curious if his son's caretakers weren't treating him right.
"Because," Eragon answered simply, not supplying any more information. Brom sighed and stepped aside.
"Well, come on in, boy. You can tell me all about it. But, may I ask, why is it me that you come waking at who knows when?"
"You tell good stories," Eragon informed him. "I can't fall asleep without a story. I was gunna go to bed in the woods, but then I thought I'd come here for a story."
"Well, I'm glad I tell good stories, then," Brom finally said, thinking. "It is my job. What kind of story would you like?" He reached for his pipe, but then decided against it. Not around the child.
"One about a mommy and a daddy."
"Really?" Brom was surprised. "You usually like battle stories, don't you?"
"I haven't got a mother or father," Eragon informed him sullenly. "My mother didn't want me and nobody knows who my father is." I know, Eragon, Brom wanted to say, but held himself back. "And Roran has parents. So I decided I'd go and find my parents."
"What an amazing quest for one so young," Brom smiled at him. Eragon nodded, proud of himself, and then wiggled a loose tooth with his tongue in a childish gesture. He had no idea he had done so well… "How about I tell you about dragons, instead?"
Eragon shrugged. "Okay."
So, Brom found him repeating the same stories that had lulled Murtagh to sleep countless night after night not so many years ago. He'd be about eight or nine now, Brom realized with a pang. He was growing so fast, just like Selena had said. How is it that I care so much for Morzan's child?
Because nobody else did.
But he brushed the thoughts about the little boy aside. By now, he was probably trained to be a good little Galbatorix minion.
Eragon, too, fell asleep by the firelight, listening to tales of Saphira's glittering scales and the exhilarating flights. Brom scooped him up and looked out the window. It would be dawn by the time he returned the boy to Garrow's. He started out immediately.
By the time Brom arrived at the farm, the family was already awake and frantic. Young Roran, probably around Murtagh's age, Brom realized, was racing around, checking all the small corners and nooks where his cousin could possibly fit. Garrow was yelling Eragon's name at the top of his lungs, wandering around the fields helplessly. Brom could have sworn her saw tears in his eyes, and at the very least, a worry so strong that it overcame all other obligations.
Marian was openly crying, tears running down her cheeks as she sat on the steps of the house. Brom knew that she would have to be the one he brought Eragon to. He quickened his pace instantly, though he tightened his grip around the boy himself.
Brom looked down for a fleeting second, and let a soft smile grace his war weary lips.
Eragon was beautiful, like his mother. He had her brown hair that fell in wisps, and Brom remembered that when he opened his eyes, there was that familiar chocolatey color and the kind, yet stupidly curious spark. The stupidly curious part, of course, came from him. The kind… well, Brom wasn't sure. Selena had changed so much since she gave birth to Murtagh that it was sometimes difficult to separate the caring woman from the cruel one.
Eragon buried his face into Brom's chest, his thumb entering his mouth without even a second thought. By then, Marian had spotted them and rushed forward.
"Brom!" she shouted. "Brom, is he all right? Where did you find him?"
"Eragon is fine," he reassured her. "He showed up at my door a few hours ago. When did he disappear?"
"After dinner," Marian sniffed. "Well, a bit after dinner, I suppose. You wouldn't really remember… you arrived afterwards… but Garrow's sister came, pregnant with Eragon. She wouldn't tell us anything. And then she left. We couldn't make Eragon grow up not knowing the truth, so we told him. He was awfully upset."
Brom nodded. "He was, but I'm sure he's gotten over it by now. Especially with you and your husband looking so hard for him."
"Thank you for taking care of him. He truly knocked on your door?"
"He wanted a story before he went to bed." Brom smiled. "He fell asleep, the poor boy, so I thought I ought to bring him home."
"Well, thank you once more."
"Mother! Mother!" Roran came racing around the farm, his face flushed. "I can't find him, he's not anywhere. Eragon –" he caught sight of Brom and halted. "Is home. Eragon is home, now… Should I tell Father?"
"Yes, yes, go tell Father.," Marian urged and Roran ran again, happy yells filling the air.
"Eragon's home! Eragon's home! I can beat him in dueling again!" Roran sang happily from a faraway now. Brom chuckled and reluctantly handed the boy over to the outstretched arms of Marian.
"Lively boy, you've got," he commented. "Nice set of lungs."
"Yes," Marian sighed, but smiled and cradled Eragon carefully. "That he has… sometimes I wonder how he and Eragon get on so well. Eragon is so quiet, it worries me. I've raised him from the time he was born. He's just as much of son to me as Roran."
"Eragon is quiet?" Brom asked in shock. "That rascal never shuts up when he's around me!"
Marian giggled. "Garrow claims that, too. He certainly knows how to get into trouble." Eragon's eyelids fluttered and he looked up sleepily.
"Mo–" he started, but stopped himself. "Aunt Marian?"
"Yes, sweetie, I'm here."
"What're you doing at Brom's house?" he mumbled.
"I brought you home," Brom cut in, though he sort of wished he hadn't. Selfish, he thought to himself. I'm a selfish bastard. They love him just as much as I do!
Eragon, suddenly awake and alert, turned his head and shot Brom a betrayed glare. Traitor! He mouthed and Brom had to conceal a grin. As Garrow came around the corner and Marian looked away, he responded with an equally silent It's for your own good, boy.
"Thank you, Brom," Garrow gushed and Brom gave him a tight grin. There was only so many times you could hear that statement in a day.
"It was no trouble. Eragon is a pleasure to have – just, please, boy, next time, come when I'm still awake!" Eragon laughed and wiggled out of Marian's arms to the ground.
"Okay, I promise," Eragon said, wiping his wet thumb on his shirt.
"Would you like to join us for breakfast?" Garrow asked kindly. Brom considered this for a moment.
"I'd be honored to join Eragon's family for a meal," he decided. Eragon squealed in delight and rushed up to grab Brom's hand, dragging him inside and through a quick five minute tour which ended in his room. Roran followed a few feet behind, while the other adults (Lucky them! Brom secretly thought) managed to break away to prepare food in the kitchen.
"And this is my room!" Eragon said grandly, and ran over to a shiny rock that glittered slightly. It looked like a miniature dragon's egg… a really miniature one, Brom realized, when he realized it was barely an inch long. "Isn't this rock cool? I found it the other day! It's shiny. See?"
"I found that for you," Roran argued hotly, his happiness diminished as soon as he (and Brom) began to notice that Eragon's peppiness was slightly annoying, though slightly endearing.
"Yeah, okay," Eragon shrugged, putting it away. "It reminds me of those dragons you were telling me about, Brom."
"Children!" Marian called. "Breakfast! Brom, are you still alive?"
"Barely," he called back jokingly.
"Dragons?" Roran asked in awe. "Can you tell me about them?"
"Surely," Brom said as they walked to the small kitchen and took their seats. Eragon was on one side of him, on his right. His son. Roran was on the other side. His nephew, in a way. Both expectant for stories about might, heroic deeds. Both as close as brothers could be.
Yet, Brom couldn't help but see Murtagh, his first audience, whenever he looked at them. Roran, who held the determined gaze no matter what it was he pursued, and Eragon, who shared the boy's intelligent brown eyes.
He launched into a tale of a sad boy and his mean father, where the boy eventually escaped and found a new family of his own, much like Garrow's family. It was all he could hope for the son of Selena. He was all he could wish for him.
For his first little listener.
Well, I hope you enjoyed it! Feedback would be wonderful. Thanks for reading :) And here's a sword for your quests ==