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. Prim's 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.

With the 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 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.