Part 192 of the Elfwine Chronicles. The Elfwine Chronicles are a series of one-shots built around the family group of Eomer, Lothiriel and Elfwine. The total number will depend on how many ideas I get for new vignettes.

See Author's Note at bottom.

Clean

(Aug, 12 IV)

The sound of a throat being cleared drew my attention to the door of my study. Frealaf stood there looking extremely nervous, and I raised a questioning eyebrow, urging an explanation.

"Er, my lord…we…we have a bit of a problem," he stammered, not quite meeting my eyes.

"How so?" I asked, leaning back in my chair. That was hardly a helpful comment and I wanted more.

"Er, well, perhaps you should see for yourself," he added, shrugging helplessly.

Not only my irritation but my curiosity was piqued. I rose, gesturing for him to lead the way, and he hurried down the corridor. In the main hall, a broadly-grinning Eothain fell in beside me without saying a word. I pretended to ignore him; he knew something about this, and must have sent poor Frealaf to alert me rather than do it himself. I was not going to give him the satisfaction of asking any questions for his amusement.

Our path led outside and down around toward the stables. As we walked, I swiped at the sweat that broke out almost immediately. I had not been outside today, but already it was warm, even though it was not yet midday. Eothain still kept silent despite the obvious effort it took to do so, and our present course was giving rise to confusion in addition to the curiosity. An instant later, however, I understood.

My eldest daughter stood stark naked in one of the watering troughs. At only four years, that was not particularly scandalous, but it was…disconcerting. A quick glance around located her dress, neatly laid over a rail of the fence. I saw several stablehands peering from windows and struggling to keep their laughter unheard. Frealaf's face was bright red with embarrassment, and he studiously did not look at me. I could feel the color rising in my own face and was grateful for my perpetual tan to conceal it.

"Theodwyn," I asked sternly, "why are you not wearing your clothes?"

She beamed up at me, distracted from her play when she noticed my arrival. "Hello, Papa!" she answered cheerfully, her sodden locks plastered to her shoulders. She pointed to the fence. "I was a good girl and did what Mama said."

My brow knit. "How so, sweetness? I hardly think your mother told you to take off your dress and play in the water trough." Eothain was unable to restrain a snort of laughter and I elbowed him in the side.

"She told me I must not get my dress dirty while I waited for her to get ready," the child responded innocently. "So I took it off to keep it clean while I played."

"The child makes a good point," Eothain offered, wide-eyed as he fought for control, unfazed by my scowl.

Lifting my daughter from the water, I set her down on a patch of grass and peeled off my tunic, quickly settling it over her wet body – it fell all the way to the ground and she had to lift it clear of her feet in order to move. I picked her up and slung her dress over my shoulder, turning back toward Meduseld.

Eothain again joined me, apparently not through enjoying the situation at my expense. Just then, a thought occurred to me and I looked at him with narrowed eyes. "And why, may I ask, did you not bring this matter to Lothiriel's attention rather than mine?"

Eothain snickered. "I could have done so, my lord, but the queen tends to take such matters in her stride, whereas you…" He snickered again, and dodged away from me, rightfully expecting the fist I slung at him. "Best be about my duties now, my lord, if you will excuse me!" He gave a mocking bow and turned toward the guard hut, his shoulders still shaking with laughter.

I glanced down at my daughter and sighed. She was perfectly content, snuggled into my embrace, and completely unaware of the furor she had just caused. I had wanted children, and now had three. I rather wished someone had warned me about the adventure that would be, but then I looked down at Theodwyn again and smiled. No, I would not change a thing.

THE END

1/17/11

A/N: Didn't want to give the plotline away by saying anything upfront, but this is actually based on something I did as a child (in case you were interested). Someone recently read/reviewed The Streak, and I suppose that brought this to mind. I'm having a fruitful day – this is the second thing I've written!

End note: It is best that you read the Elfwine Chronicles in the order they were written. The more of them that I wrote, the more likely I was to make reference to one of the previous ones and something that happened there. If you want to read them in order, go to the top of this page and click on my name (Deandra). That will take you to my profile page. Scroll down and you will find all the stories I have written. The Elfwine Chronicles are in order from bottom to top since ffn shows them in the order they were posted. A few were posted out of number order, but you can read them in posting order or number order since those few won't be affected in the story content.