A Price above Rubies

 A Price above Rubies

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.- Proverbs 31.9-11. The Bible.

Based on an idea of Raksha's

With grateful thanks to Deandra

Aragorn had spent an enjoyable hour sparring with Faramir. King and Steward had been honing their skills with sword and bow, before Faramir left to spend a few days with his family in Ithilien. The two men had parted in good spirits. Aragorn was looking forward to spending the rest of the day with his wife and children. He hummed contentedly to himself as he approached his wife’s solar.

“May I see Andúril, Ada?“ asked Eldarion as his father entered the chamber, his sword still at his hip. The little boy ran to his father’s side.

“You may look, but not touch; the sword is very sharp,” Aragorn cautioned.

“Did you defeat Uncle Faramir?” the little boy asked. “I wish I could have watched.”

“You shall, next time you have no lessons,” Aragorn promised. “Uncle Faramir defeated me with the bow while I bested him with the sword. It was a close contest, as usual.“ Aragorn unsheathed the weapon and held it while his son studied it longingly. “You will have your own sword once you are grown up. Eldarion, I promise you will have a truly splendid one.”

“No other sword could be as fair as this,” Eldarion said wistfully, stroking the hilt. ”But, I will kill lots of bad men with it!”

“Estel, Eldarion, I do not like such talk, or naked blades indoors!” Arwen chided. She was pacing the room, trying to pacify a fretful Farawyn.

“I am sorry, my love,” Aragorn said contritely, sheathing the weapon. “Is Farawyn teething again?”

“I fear so,” Arwen sighed. “She has been crying most of the day.”

“Shall I hold her?” the King volunteered.

“Thank you, Estel,” said the Queen, gladly handing over her daughter. “I will leave her with you while I help Eldarion’s nanny put him to bed.”

“I’m not tired!” Eldarion protested. “Why do I have to go to bed before the sun does in summer?”

“Little boys need their sleep so they will grow up to be big and strong. and grow tall enough to wield a sword,” said Aragorn. “I will come and tell you a bedtime story later, ion nîn,” he promised as Eldarion left with his mother.

The King tried to settle on his favourite chair. He rocked Farawyn in his arms. Still she cried. The King sang an Elvish lullaby. Farawyn cried all the louder. Aragorn tried a healing touch to soothe his daughter. She continued to wail dolefully. The King stared desperately round the room for a means to distract her. A beam of evening sunlight was playing on his sword. “Look at the pretty jewels, see how they sparkle!” Aragorn cried, reaching for the sheathed weapon and showing the baby his sword hilt in a bid to distract her.

Farawyn’s eyes lit up. Suddenly, she clamped her mouth down on the hilt and started to chew it contentedly. Usually, Aragorn would have been horrified to have his precious sword used as a teething ring. The silence, though, was blissful. Farawyn looked so pleased with herself; he had not the heart to take it away from her. The hilt was solid mithril, so she could not do it any harm and he had cleaned it after his bout with Faramir earlier that day.

“Farawyn has finally settled!” Aragorn said delightedly when Arwen returned.

“Fancy letting a baby chew on a sword hilt!” his wife scolded. “Give her to me now. It is time for her to be fed, while Eldarion is waiting for the story you promised him.”

Aragorn was engrossed in telling his son a tale, about how he fought off a dozen Orcs single-handedly, when a servant interrupted to say the Queen required his presence at once.

“I will finish the story tomorrow, ion nîn,” said Aragorn kissing his son on the brow. He called to the nanny in the next room to take care of Eldarion and hastened to his wife.

Arwen, her face pale, was gazing fixedly at Andúril’s hilt. “There is a jewel missing!” she exclaimed. ”Farawyn must have swallowed it! How could you be so irresponsible? My poor baby!”

Aragorn took the sword from her and studied it. A large ruby was missing. “It should not do her any harm,” he said.

“It could have sharp edges and cut her inside!” Arwen fretted. ”You are a Healer, you must be able to do something!”

“It is smooth and small enough to pass through her when nature takes its course,” Aragorn said with more confidence than he felt.

The baby had begun to cry again, and Aragorn reached to take her from his wife.It was impossible to tell though, whether it was the commotion, pain from her teething or the fact she had swallowed a jewel, that was distressing her. The King carefully undressed the baby and gently felt for any trace of the ruby, but could find none. She reacted indignantly by biting his fingers when he felt in her mouth. Arwen, meanwhile shook out Farawyn’s clothes, but could find no sign of the stone.

Unable to do anything else, Arwen reluctantly put Farawyn to bed just as the servants arrived with their dinner. Though neither had much of an appetite, they picked at their meals in silence. Aragorn was uncomfortably aware of the fierce glare his wife favoured him with throughout the course of it.

When bedtime came, Arwen banished her husband to his dressing room. She spent the night dozing fitfully, expecting any moment that her baby would be taken violently ill.

Aragorn became increasing infected by his wife’s fears. As a Healer, he knew the stone was unlikely to cause harm, but as a father he was terrified that some harm would befall his beloved child. When he fell asleep, he was plagued by hideous nightmares of having to cut into his little daughter to retrieve the ruby when it blocked some vital organ, while Master Aedred shook his head and pronounced the child dead. The King cried out and woke up shaking in distress just as the cock crowed, heralding dawn. A wakeful Arwen took pity on him and permitted him to join her in the marital bed. Farawyn slumbered peacefully in her cradle.

The King and Queen were glad when the maid arrived bearing their morning tea. The girl set the tray down then hovered hesitantly by the door.

“What is it, Nienor?” enquired the Queen.

“Nothing, my lady, save the housemaid found a red stone under the rug this morning. She thinks it’s a ruby and that she should tell you, but the housekeeper says it must just be a glass bead and she shouldn’t bother you over such trifles.”

Arwen hugged the astonished Nienor. “That is the best news anyone could tell me!” she exclaimed. “You may have the rest of the day off. First, though, send the housemaid to me; she shall be richly rewarded!”

An hour later, the King and Queen were breakfasting in the solar. The stone had been identified as the missing ruby. A craftsman had been summoned to replace it in the hilt and the housemaid given five silver pieces as a reward.

“I am so sorry, I was angry with you, my love,” Arwen said contritely.

“I deserved your wrath. I would never forgive myself if any ill befell my children,” Aragorn replied.” They are a treasure far above any rubies in value.”

babymakes4.jpg picture by lindahoyland

Artwork by Rachel

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