The Flower of Woody End

The Flower of Woody End

The boy was small. Of course, everyone in his clan was small; it’s just the way it was. He looked at his father and smiled. The boy’s parents were a source of great pride, and he knew that more than most families, they would understand. At least he hoped they would.

Someplace and some other time...

“Go ahead and tell ‘em, Har.” his sister prodded. The boy stared at her blankly. She was as fair as anyone you might ever meet, but she had her father’s tenacity even if she did favor her mother. She shook her head and her long curly hair went from side to side, giving a greater emphasis to her next words.

“Don’t you dare think it! Mum and Dad love you. Maybe because you’re such a runt. Oh wait…I’m a runt.” She laughed playfully while poking him in the arm. He winced at the minor pain. He was such a baby even if he was one of the middle children of the family. And with a brood as large as theirs he tended to get lost. His sister might be only the oldest of all the children, but she was as wise as both of her parents.

“You have to tell THEM! It won’t be right without you at my wedding, and I don’t want you to feel left out!”

The boy put his head down and began to sob. He felt left out all of his life. Too many years of his unremarkable existence were spent wanting desperately to please his father; a man who was as understanding and as humble as anyone he knew, but still a man of great stature; at least in the midst of folks without any reputation. And because of his father’s position in the village, he gained a lot of attention. As hard as it was to live up to unspoken expectations, being the son of the mayor was very daunting under the best of circumstances.

“Grandpa says that all’s well that ends better, aye? And we want everything to end better. You and me are going to have a talk with Dad and Mum. If you want, I’ll even bring Freddie along.” She smiled and he cringed.

“Elanor? You told Freddie? How could you?” Freddie was more than a future brother-in-law to the boy. Harry had grown to respect him almost as much as his father and likely just as much as his brothers. The boy’s face grew very hot and red and he began to sob once again.

“Har? It’s alright. There’s nothing in you that would displease him, and he understands. He really does.”

She patted him on the back with great sympathy. He wished this whole plight had passed him by, but he was going to find out that his plight was more of a blessing than he could ever imagine and that it came to him at just the right time.

* * * * *

“Mum…?” Rose turned to look in the direction of the words. The familiarity of the voice caused her to adjust only a hair downward as she saw her child standing in the doorway.

“Yes, my sweet boy?” He hated that even as he embraced the affection behind the words. He cast his eyes downward and his face reddened slightly; he was about to ask if he could ask that his parents would listen when he asked….it was altogether confusing and frightening enough to keep him silent. A moment later he felt a soft hand lift his chin slightly. Those eyes… they knew everything in a way without having knowledge. Wisdom that came from within from love and peace and joy from a great and wonderful life with a great and wonderful man.

“Now, don’t be sad or scared, little one.” He was nearly of age in so many ways, but the term definitely applied in so many ways as well, and certainly spoke of her unflinching willingness to explore and grow and accept the wonders of the world. And of course, it’s been said that a mother always knows. He smiled weakly as the tears dripped off his nose and onto her feet. She spoke.

“Harry? Your dad and I will always love you…no matter what comes and goes, and no matter what changes or stays the same, alright? Elanor said you wanted to tell us something. And if she’s in this with you in the midst of planning for the biggest wedding anyone may ever see in these parts, it must be important.” He blinked back some tears and nodded slowly but she had much more to say….not in so many words, of course, but in that what she had to say came from the very depths of her heart.

“Harry? Even if Elanor had no part in helping you, you must know that I would listen to anything you have to say. You know that, right?” She half-frowned; not in disappointment in him, but in her frustration that was borne from a sadness in his insecurity. There was so much to live up to. Even in families outside their own fine there was so much respect for her husband and the friends he held close; heroes to everyone in their village and even beyond. The boy was not only small in stature, but small in his own eyes, and that had to change.

“You….You’ll hate me.” The boy protested. She tried to hug him but he pulled away and ran from the room. She put her hand to her mouth to stifle a sob; she was alone, of course, and it was more a symbol of her feelings of helplessness. The futility of being a child in a family of giants had brought Harry to despair…almost beyond hope. She offered up a quick prayer and set about the rest of her day.

* * * * *

“Dad?” Sam turned to find his oldest child and her fiancé standing in the open doorway of the home; a nice warm sunny day that had just begged for open doors and windows. Behind them stood a smaller figure; almost familiar and yet strangely different. He smiled at the pair and at the child behind them as well. They stepped inside while the little girl …the young lady, actually, stayed at the doorway, almost using the frame to hide behind.

“We have something we need to discuss with you, if you don’t mind?” Freddie spoke softly; a quality that wasn’t missed on Elanor’s father. The lad was not only respectful but the kind of young man that he had hoped would marry his daughter; a wise and gentle and strong and willing man of character.

“Yes, Daddy,” Elanor spoke gently; a tone that indicated a trust behind her words that her father would listen. She smiled and turned to the doorway.

“I told Mummy that I had to take my time to choose who would stand with me.” Sam looked past his daughter to see the girl at the door turn away sharply at his glance. She appeared frightened and almost ashamed. Would this be the girl who was to stand by Elanor? Freddie had decided almost immediately to have his cousin Anson stand for him. What had taken his bride-to-be so long to choose; almost three days to the eve of the wedding and the rehearsal party to plan? But Sam also believed in providence and his daughter’s judgment both.

“Is this the young lady you have in mind? She seems a bit timid.” Sam laughed, causing the girl to shy away as he beckoned her with a gesture.

“We need to talk; all of us, if that’s alright with you?” Elanor said. She turned around and smiled at the girl at the door and nodded while winking. She held out her hand and the girl stepped closer but stopped halfway. Her face was a mask of fear and grief, as if the weight of all the sadness of the world was on her shoulders and in her heart. She shook her head before putting it down, casting her visage to the floor. A moment later a familiar hand lifted her chin and a familiar smile filled her vision as Sam looked at his child…his son. Harry…Hamfast in their tongue…named after his grandfather…looked at his father and burst into tears.

“Daddy…please don’t be angry. It was the only way we knew how to show you. We wanted to tell you but she….Harry was so afraid you would hate him.” Eleanor was crying by now, held closely in Freddie’s comforting embrace. He turned and faced Sam.

“I’m truly sorry for this, but we didn’t mean to deceive you. We thought that….” Sam’s hand placed out in caution stopped him.

“I know, Lad…” Sam smiled, and even though everyone knew him to be a gentle and caring soul, it was the first time Freddie had seen him cry. Elanor, on the other hand, recognized the look in her father’s face. The face of a gentle but brave man who had once held the weight of the world on his own shoulders as well, if for another reason entirely. The bravest and truest and most loyal man most folks would ever meet in their lifetime just smiled warmly and spoke just a bit louder; his head turned in the direction of the kitchen.

“Rosie? Would you mind comin’ out here for a few? The happy couple have some good news for us.”

He turned back and smiled as warm a smile as Harry had ever seen and held his arms open wide. The child ran to the father's welcoming embrace and now it was Elanor’s turn to burst into tears, but this time they were pure and utter joy at the beholding of the most precious moment she would ever know other than her upcoming marriage. Freddie had tears in his eyes as well, but he laughed softly and nodded as Rose came in from the kitchen. She had a tray in her hands filled with cups and a pot of tea and some biscuits and treats. He cocked his head and half-smiled as if to say, ‘who told you?’ Rose nodded and beamed at the scene before laughing softly with a wink to her future son-in-law.

“Mothers always know, Freddie Fairbairn. Didn’t your own Mum ever tell you that?”

A few days later

“You’re almost as nervous as I am,” Elanor whispered an aside to her sister. She certainly had a right to be nervous; her debut of sorts. It was an awkward moment for the daughters of the mayor of the village. A subterfuge of sorts had been set in place by the family, since even in that day and age, ignorance and darkness and foolish beliefs held onto souls tightly like an orc to a bone. No one knew the young lady standing next to the bride other than that she was member of their extended family from Woody End, they were told.

With so many members of the family and extended clan present as well as folks from all over, no one seemed to miss Harry in the business of the biggest wedding ever. Someone mentioned he had gone on a journey of his own, much like his father before him, but without the peril; everyone had hoped. He certainly had gone on a journey, but only just outside his door, as a family friend had once said.

And so…in the thirtieth year of the Fourth Age of Middle Earth, Elanor the Fair, daughter of Samwise and Rose Gamgee, was married to Fastred of Greenholm. Little else has been written about the day’s events other than that the bride was attended by her cousin, Rosemary Cotton of Woody End, who on the eve of her tweens set out on the most wonderful journey of all...the rest of her life...

When the cold of winter comes
Starless night will cover day
In the veiling of the sun
We will walk in bitter rain

But in dreams
I can hear your name
And in dreams
We will meet again

When the seas and mountains fall
And we come, to end of days
In the dark I hear a call
Calling me there,
I will go there
And back again

The End

Fan fiction based on characters from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien

In Dreams

from the soundtrack of
The Lord of the Rings:
The Fellowship of the Ring
Words by Fran Walsh
Music by Howard Shore

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This story is 2139 words long.