He'd waited thirty three years to set pen to paper in this way. In a shaking scrawl, the name took form on clean parchment under the declaration that Frodo had so carefully inked out the week before in beautiful calligraphy.
The red ink came out, and the pen went around. Paladin and Eglantine claimed first right to witness this momentous occasion, signing their names in clear print.
Fredegar Bolger's name went down next.
Meriadoc Brandybuck, Esquire, claimed the pen and signed in flowing, showy calligraphy.
Samwise Gamgee put his name down in simple block letters.
And finally, the two who honored him most by their presence.
Frodo Baggins took the new eagle-quill pen offered and set his name down in the beautiful letters his uncle had taught him.
And last, but certainly not least, fragile elf-runes spelled out on tan parchment: Elessar Telcontar.
"Well Peregrin Took," Strider commented blowing lightly to dry the final delicate stroke, "the King has witnessed it. You are officially an adult."
Chapter 2: Signature by Mar'isu
Chapter by Open_Doors
Coming-of age stories of any race of your choice.
It's Not Fair
It's not fair. Estel sourly surveyed the pile of packs. At eighteen, he had expected that this summer he would finally be allowed to participate in the border defense instead of being left behind with the food and medical supplies. At least they considered him competent enough to be left alone, and had not also assigned another guard. He supposed he would have to be content with this little increase in his responsibilities. Sighing, he made sure his knife was loose in its sheath while he made a slow reconnaissance of the area. It would not do to be surprised.
It's not fair. The heavy, metal weight that dragged at her belt ought to have been a sword. Keys! Éowyn reached down and jangled the bunch: stillroom, cellar, spice cupboard… she gave up in exasperation. She was eighteen, but these were not the responsibilities she craved. Staring over the practice grounds as the men sparred was not helping her accept the situation. If Gríma thought to turn her into a meek and compliant companion by forcing her to take over the management of the household, he was doomed to more disappointment. She would still, somehow, find a way to train.
Elladan tossed an orc corpse onto the pile, counting automatically… ten, eleven.
"Elrohir! Where's the twelfth?"
Startled eyes met his. "One's missing? Estel is alone."
They set off running.
The clearing was quiet, but the boy whirled around, knife at the ready, when he heard them coming. Estel gave them a welcoming wave, though a red stain was still spreading on the bandage roughly tied around his arm.
"It wasn't poisoned." Estel forestalled Elladan's scramble towards the medical supplies. "See." He handed over the knife and Elladan thankfully saw the blade was clean.
Elladan adjusted the bandage. "First kill?"
Watching his sister at the feast, Éomer noticed she smiled only while the king watched. Gríma asked her to dance, but she shook her head and slipped out the door. Éomer found her staring out into the night, biting back tears. He led her unprotesting away from the feast and into a small chamber where Théodred awaited them.
"We thought you might want this." Théodred placed an ornamented dagger into her hands.
"It is pretty, but no toy." Éomer traced the smooth inlays in the handle. "The designs won't interfere with your grip, and we know you can use it."
"It's not fair." Eldarion stormed in and threw himself down onto the bench.
Elboron put a sympathetic hand on his friend's shoulder. "They turned you down, too?"
"It would not be dangerous!"
"We certainly can protect ourselves."
"We are not fools."
Grey eyes met grey eyes and silently affirmed their mutual opinion of their parents' ridiculous overprotectiveness. Elboron continued to brood, but Eldarion's ready sense of humor came to the fore. He sat up and laughed.
"Which set of stories do you think we should believe? The ones the minstrels tell or the ones our parents tell us?"
Chapter 3: Fugitive
Chapter by Open_Doors
Coming-of age stories of any race of your choice.
Gilraen, Lady Isilmë of the House of Telcontar, was well hidden in the rocky slopes of Emyn Arnen. She huddled beneath an outcrop of stone and wished fervently that the rain would stop. The bad weather had one good feature, however: Any sign of her passage would now be washed away, if she had been so careless as to leave any. This was doubtful. After all, she had been trained in woodcraft by the greatest tracker and hunter in Gondor.
She intended to go back, when she was ready. She was not so childish as to dream of running away. Where—to Thranduil's kingdom, perhaps? Silliness. No, she would stay hidden for only a few days, just to teach them a lesson. Why had they made her come? She had to sit like a statue in Lord Faramir's great hall, princess-like, and talk politely to the emissary's daughter. Mother was "indisposed," they said. Ridiculous. She was never sick. But now, supposedly, even Lady Éowyn could not help her with entertaining the foreigner: she was too busy looking after mother.
If only it would not rain.
She had been so lonely since granny's death, for that was the name she had called her great-grandmother Ivorwen, who had died only three weeks earlier at the age of one hundred and fifty-five—an impressive age for a Númenorean woman in these late days, everyone said. Granny, who had sung to her at night and braided her thick, difficult hair. Just like my daughter's, she would laugh. My little Gilraen.
She saw some movement through the woods down the slope and smiled with satisfaction. Already they were looking for her. They will never find me.
After some moments bent down, examining the ground, the tracker followed her precise trail up the hillside. She watched the hooded and cloaked figure wend its way through the trees. He looks just like papa, she thought, amused. But soon the amusement began to flag. He can't really be papa, she told herself, unconvinced. The man stopped and turned his head and she recognized, with dismay, that he was indeed the greatest tracker and hunter in Gondor. Within minutes he was standing on the slope beneath her tiny ledge and looking her in the face.
"Well," said her father.
She stared at him. Behind the relief in his eyes anger sparkled. He raised his arms. "Jump down," he commanded.
Sheepishly, she gathered her pack and pulled the hood over her head against the rain. She leaped the few feet down into his arms; he caught her with precision and set her on her feet. He looked her in the eyes. "You will never do this again," he said. "Come now."
She followed him down the hillside, rage battling with humiliation in her breast. And of all the unfair things, the rain stopped.
A half-mile away two mounted guardsmen stood, one holding her father's horse. The king mounted, and had the guardsman help his daughter mount before him. They set off to return to Faramir's hall.
She knew what was coming. He never shouted at her, never even scolded her. Instead, he would talk to her, and somehow he always made her see everything differently. But this time, she didn't want to see things differently. "You don't know what it's like, being eleven," she cried petulantly.
He chuckled. "You're right," he said. "I skipped that year. I went from ten to twelve."
She had to laugh then. "That's silly, papa."
"Yes," he said. "Therefore, you must admit I had to have been, once upon a time and very long ago, eleven." He was quiet for a while, as if remembering. Then he said, "Gilraen, it made me happier than I can tell you that granny could live with us for the last years of her life. I didn't know her as a boy, because, as you know, I was in Rivendell. That you knew her made up for missing that, somehow."
She began to cry. He kissed the back of her head and lifted a hand from the reins to squeeze her wrist. "Oh, papa," she said.
"Grief is hard, and we have left you too much alone," he said. "But there are reasons. Some, perhaps, you will not understand until you are older. Some are easier to explain. I have been trying to resolve through negotiation these differences with the people of Rhun. I fear I have failed, and there will be war."
She gasped. "I'm sorry, papa. Will you have to go away again?"
"If there is war, I must," he said. "There is never a good time for war, but this is by far the worst." He sighed. "You know your mother has been unwell."
Gilraen made a most unladylike snort. "I know better than to believe that," she said. "Mother does not get sick, no more than Legolas. And if she was sick, why didn't she stay home, anyway?"
"She should have stayed," he said. "I lost that argument. As for the rest, I wish you were right. The truth is, Gilraen, she is with child, and that is very difficult for the Eldar."
Well, that was a shock. She noted the mix of worry and happiness in her father's voice. "A little sister?" she said.
"You will have a brother," her father said. "But don't tell anyone that we know the child is a son. This is our secret. So, you see, I have much on my mind, because if I must leave for war, she will bear the child without me."
She thought this over. "But I will be here," she said.
"Yes, you will," he answered. "And that will be a very great comfort to all of us."
"I will be good," she said. "I promise, papa."
"Thank you," he said. "I knew I could count on you."
Years later, at the time of her father's death, she finally understood just what he meant.