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A Mother's Love by jan-u-wine

She'd loved the lad, *loved* him, with all that fierce
passion that was as peculiar to her as the strange
silver'd grey of her wintry eyes. More like an elf in
that way she was: grey of eye, other-worldy of heart...

Esme (for that was her name, when Prim and she were
young together, and played beneath hot sun and lemon moon
and the kindly stars) touched, like another good-bye, the
curved spray of forget-me-nots about the neck of the gown.
PrimÙs work it was, the delicate precision of her needle
from a summer fifty years and more gone by. The white of it
had turned ivory with time, but still it spoke of a mother's
love for her only child.

Forget-me-nots. As if she ever could, ever *would*,
or that child, either. And he was coming here today,
*here*, after all his long journey.

Esme knew a bit about love, and fierceness, herself.
After all, had he not, with his mother's same
impetuousness, taken *her* son, (her *only* son, and
Buckland's heir) on a fool's errand? And that when
the lad had but late come of age.

In that strange new forcefulness he had about him, Merry
had contested her anger, not understanding it was but
love made desperate by fear. It did NOT matter, not
one whit. The River had taken Prim, and Frodo, Merry.

She would have words for him, this lad whom she'd
fostered, words, though he was Laird Under-the-Hill
now, and a hero, or so her Merry said.

A shadow fell across her, then, in the middle of her
planning out what she might say, and a hand grasped
hers. A hand parted from one of its fingers.

Esme stared at the blank space. She was used, being
a land-holder, to seeing injuries of all sorts, but this....
*this*,`done to her Prim's child, the babe
she'd held in her arms, the sweet lad who'd run careless
beneath many a foster'd harvest sun....the almost-tween
who'd coaxed her Merry to quiet with stories of elves
and dragons……

*oh, *THIS**

All the words she might have said fled backwards into
time, into a babe's first cry in the birthing room of
the Great Hall, into summers and springs....

Then she was on her feet, held in arms unaccountably
strong, and a heart-beat, swift as she remembered,
sounded against her.

He was taller than she, now, and different in a way she
could not put a name to. For all that there were tears
on his face, for all that she could feel the warm clasp
of his hand, yet there was a strange stillness to him,
as if he were part of the world and *not* part of it,
all at once.

One word fell into the emptiness between them, one word,
voiced soft and sorrowful by them both at the same moment,
one word, dropping into a silence that gave over all the
other words that might have been:


And they held each other for a while, like that, and wept
for all that had been lost, all that had been found for the
losing….and all the *small* things which lay between.