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The Call of Tomorrow

Chapter 1: Dream Child

by ADionne

Author's Note: Writer's Block is an evil, evil thing. But, out of the chaos that is currently my state of mind when concerning Chapter Three of "The Swan and the Stallion" came this little piece. I should note here that the character of Marion is not cannon. In my initial research, the name of Prince Imrahil's deceased wife was not to be found so I created one- and soon found that I liked her very much. So much, that I could not resist drawing a picture of her life.

It was a girl-child, she was sure of it.

Basking in the pleasant warmth of the summer sun as she lovingly rubbed her hand along the dome of her swollen belly brought Marion a sense of mental clarity that she had never experienced with her previous pregnancies. This life that grew inside her was a daughter. She wasn't entirely sure why or how she knew, but there was no doubt in her mind. She smiled to feel the movements of the child within. A restless daughter.

The Lady of Dol Amroth wandered further down the coastline, relishing the feeling of the warm ocean water as it licked her bare feet and the gentle tug of the wind as it played with her unbound hair. It was a beautiful summer day in southern Gondor. The skies were clear of cloud and the sun shone brightly, lavishing her skin with warm attention and illuminating the turquoise waters till her eyes filled with tears at their intense beauty. It hadn't been very hard to escape from the confines of the citadel. The prince indulged her lovingly, allowing her this day of freedom before the period of late-term house arrest arrived. She smiled to think of the adoring way his arms had encircled her this morning abed as she voiced her intentions for the day's activities. He loved her so.

Further ahead of her, squatting just out of the reach of the gentle surf, her youngest son, now nearly twenty years of age and on the verge of man-hood, stared intently to the horizon. Shading her eyes from the brightness of the sun overhead, Marion followed his gaze, but could not see what held his attention so raptly. Lowering her hand, she sighed softly and returned her attention back to her son. He was a handsome boy, taking his dark hair and eyes from her while still exhibiting his father's noble refinement, but he always seemed so far away, for his thoughts were continually pulled to that of the great beyond. He had the heart of a sailor and the ocean spoke to him. Marion knew he would not be one to stay, and out of all of her children she expected him to be the first to leave home. It saddened her, though she knew it was inevitable.

"And what of you?" She whispered fondly to the child within. "Will you too be so eager to leave your mother and father?" The walls of her womb trembled as the life inside kicked and Marion caressed her body with a long tanned hand tenderly. "Will you heed the call of unknown as well little one?" Looking to the horizon again, she wondered what this life had in store for her daughter. Would she be happy or would there be much sorrow in her life? Holding her hands protectively over her stomach, suddenly fearful, Marion fervently wished only the best happiness for her daughter. She would not let darkness touch her child. She wanted this daughter to be happy, she wanted her to have a good life, and above all she wanted her daughter to know love.

Marion remembered the touch of Imrahil and closed her eyes, smiling. Yes, she wanted this daughter to know love. Love like the one she shared with her husband. She smoothed the pale fabric of her dress over her abdomen. "You shall know love," she whispered, smiling. "I promise you this, my little darling girl. Even if I have to move the heavens themselves, you will know love." She patted her swollen womb affirmatively, nodding absently to herself. As her gaze roamed the horizon once more she wondered about the man her daughter would love, spinning a romance in her mind.

He would be a good and noble man, she decided, unable to imagine her precious child with any other then such. He would be kind too of course, but also strong enough to match the inner strength her daughter was sure to already possess. She chuckled aloud as the child within her womb affirmed her thoughts physically and ran a hand over her rounded belly soothingly. "You're right little one," she said, smiling. "He will have to be a very strong man indeed to hold you. And I wonder," she mused, "where is he today?" Was the man to be her daughter's love a small toddler, still clutching his mother's skirts, or was he a young lad, already learning the way of the world? Or perhaps he was not Dúnedain and still hovered in his own mother's womb, or even had yet to be conceived.

Despite such possibilities, Marion found herself imagining a little boy, not yet two or three, playing amid the table legs of his family's home. She smiled at her mental image of his dirt-smudged cheeks and bright eyes as his father's legs walked past, wondering where this man-child was. Turning from the ocean, she gazed up the cliffs of Dol Amroth and pondered the question. Somewhere out there, perhaps even beyond the White Mountains or farther, was the child who would become the man her daughter would love. The idea excited her and filled her such intense awe. It was an exquisite world. She could not wait for the many years to pass till she would meet this man she dreamed of now. She could not wait to see her child and he together. "Yes," she said, smiling broadly, filled with incredible happiness, "there will be love."

"What is it that makes my beautiful wife smile so and speak of love?"

The unexpected sound of her husband's voice no longer caused her to start, so used she was now to his quiet grace, and she turned to smile at him as he enveloped her in his strong arms. "Only dreams of the future," she said, resting her dark head on his wide shoulders, her eyes closing in contentment.

"Planning your next marriage already wife?"

She laughed aloud and pulled away from his close embrace, only to kiss his mouth tenderly. "Nay, dear heart, I plan that of our daughter's."

His pale brows rose in mock surprise. "Am I unaware of one of our children? Have you secreted away a girl twin to one of our sons?"

She kissed him again, too happy to fall victim to his teasing, and brought his hand to her belly. "I didn't realize, husband, that you were so unaware of my condition."

His bright eyes crinkled merrily. "Would that I were wife," he said, kissing her lips lovingly. "Then I could carry you away to our chambers and plant another within you."

She laughed and pulled completely from his arms, sliding her arm instead through his own and urging him to join her in her coastal wandering. "Husband, you are insatiable."

His eyes roamed her rounded middle. "Do you truly believe this one to be a girl-child?" he asked after a moment of silence.

She nodded. "I do. I can feel it within my heart."

"Then I am glad," he said, smiling handsomely. "Three sons are enough I think. I would like a little girl that I could dote upon."

She smiled up at him, her teeth flashing bright against her tanned features. "You misspoke husband. I believe the word you are looking for is spoil."

"Of course," he grinned. "It is a father's duty to spoil his daughters."

"Daughters?" Marion asked archly, though her insides warmed at the thought. "Four children are not enough for you my lord?"

He grinned again and stopped their walk, kissing her full on the mouth. She was breathless when he pulled away. "Marion, eight children with you would not be enough."


Much later that evening, after having retired to bed, Marion had a curious dream. In it a tall ebony-haired woman with fair skin and dark grey eyes the color of the changing ocean surface stood at a white marble balcony, still and silent as a stone statue. She was quiet and graceful, but yet... sad. There was a cloak of melancholy about the woman and it dulled her features, till Marion could no longer resist going to her and holding this grey-eyed creature in her arms. The woman did not respond to Marion's touch, but she was not deterred. On instinct, she sang to her the quiet lullabies of the sea that her mother had sung to her, but the tunes seemed to do nothing against the sorrow that clung to the woman like a grey mist.

It wasn't until she heard the clear song of horns that Marion realized it was not she that could evaporate the sadness of the woman she held in her arms, and as the realization blossomed in her mind a single beam of golden sunlight pierced through the fog that surrounded the two women and illuminated their combined features. Marion gasped and released her hold on the younger woman. This woman... she was familiar to her. However, before she could claim ownership to that thought which clung to edge of her consciousness, never fully reveling itself, a tall man, strong and proud, stepped forth from the golden light and came toward the grey woman purposefully.

He was like fire, scarlet and gold with eyes that burned with an unknown intensity, and the silent grey-eyed woman turned to him immediately, as if she had waited only for him. Marion watched, her heart full with an unexplained joy, as he took the woman into his arms, her features clearing of their clouding sadness, and spoke quiet words to her. The woman responded in kind, causing a smile as radiant as the sun to cross his already golden features. When they kissed, the song of horns was loud in Marion's ears and it was beautiful to her.

Waking, she opened her eyes and smiled. She hadn't needed to wait at all to see him. Turning her head, she smiled tenderly at her husband as he slept beside her. "I have seen the man our daughter will love," she whispered softly into the silence of their room. Imrahil did not stir from his sleep even when she smoothed back a long strand of blond hair that had fallen across his face. "He was beautiful my love," she whispered. "They will be happy." She turned her gaze to her protruding belly and ran her hands over it loving. "And for that I am pleased."

Her daughter would know love.

After all, Marion had promised it.