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Dess and I got VERY spare over Laurence Binyon through some very wacky hijinks but this one called ‘To the Fallen’ is literally just the mourning chant for Gondor’s fallen soldiers and, if you value your life, do not imagine Denethor reciting it (as before it would have been Boromir’s duty too) when news reaches Gondor of Boromir’s death.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond Gondor’s foam

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BREATHE IN BREATHE OUT

Delayed Drowning

~

In hindsight, she should have noticed sooner.

The boys had been playing in the cave that afternoon and one of them (she was uncertain who, as they were all quite tight-lipped when questioned about the culprit) accidentally shoved one of the twins into the lake.

It was (in her opinion) pure idiocy to have a lake in the middle of one’s underground lair, but Nerdanel had little control over what Feanor did in his private sanctum; likewise, he had no say in how she set up her studios and greenhouses.

Her husband had not been in the cave for the lake-shoving incident, but had promptly dropped what he was doing and ran downstairs when the shouting began. He fished Amras from the lake with some new-fangled tool constructed for such purposes (and truly, how like Feanor to foresee this kind of accident occurring!) He came up with his son wrapped in Maedhros’ sweater and deposited the boy in his mother’s arms.

“It was an accident!” Amras insisted. “I feel fine!”

He did appear fine for a while. She bundled him into dry clothes and gave him hot tea and biscuits and left him snuggled in the big arm chair in the corner of her private studio. Amrod sneaked in later to share in his twin’s goodies and confer with him in hushed whispers (doubtless confirming which version of the story the others had all agreed upon.)

Later in the evening she noticed Amras picking at his food as if lacking an appetite. The rest of the table was in an uproar over something else, and in the midst of Feanor shouting down the combined efforts of Celegorm and Caranthir, she forgot Amras’ lethargy.

Amrod woke her late that night with vigorous pounding and crying at her door. Feanor had not even gone to bed (later she learned he was in the cave constructing a barrier around the lake), so Nerdanel alone made the horrifying discovery that Amras was struggling to breathe in between violent coughing fits. He insisted he was fine, of course, because “he didn’t want to worry anyone”. Amrod called him a dummy; Nerdanel called an ambulance.

During the ensuing commotion, Maedhros came down fully dressed and accompanied his mother and brother to the ER. He sat with her in anxious silence as the medical staff wheeled little Amras away.

“I feel so guilty,” Nerdanel confessed. “He looked tired during dinner but I didn’t stop to ask if he felt ill.”

“It’s not your fault,” Maedhros said, taking her hands in his. “I noticed it too, but I didn’t think–”

Nerdanel squeezed his hands and he fell silent. “It’s not your responsibility to look after the others. You may be the oldest, but you’re also still my son..”

“He’s my brother.” Maedhros swallowed hard. “You can’t always watch out for us, so it’s my job to fill in the cracks.”

Neither mentioned that Feanor should also be keeping an eye on his children, but then again, Feanor sometimes acted like one of the boys himself. It was as endearing as it was infuriating, and often Nerdanel felt torn between boxing his ears or kissing his brilliant mouth.

“Don’t be so quick to take on the duties of parenthood,” she said to Maedhros, and he leaned in as she cupped his dear face. “But I do appreciate all you’ve done to keep your brothers safe.”

“Always, Mother.” He grinned.

“And in the future, let us both keep a closer eye on both of them. Especially the twins. God knows they get into enough trouble without the rest of you egging them on.”

Maedhros had the decency to blush. “Only a little egging!” he said, but he was laughing and then Nerdanel was laughing and the stress of the night seemed to bleed out of both of them.

Amras was declared fit to go home that afternoon, and Nerdanel held her baby boy tightly the whole ride home. She’d come so close to losing him–!

In hindsight, she should have held on tighter.

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