First Spring by curiouswombat

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Story Notes:

Follows first Snow Day


The morning was frosty, but smelled of spring to come. Osred pulled on the too-big boots, both physically and metaphorically, and turned his mind to the plough.

Father and Grandfather had spent their last day at home hastily ploughing, before they answered the call to arms and death. This year there was just Osred.

Greatheart eyed the tack sorrowfully, Osred thought. No Beald to help, though Beauty might; her foal could watch.

By lunch time Osred’s hands and back were sore, with only a quarter acre covered.

“Not straight, perhaps,” came Grandmother’s voice, “but the crop will know no different.”

……….

Harrowing… the word no longer made Osred think only of working the soil, he realised, while he carefully cleaned the implement with a handful of straw, ready to put away just as Grandfather had taught him. Now it made him wonder about Grandfather and Father. Had they been harrowed before they became part of a field in Gondor? Their very souls scraped raw by what they saw, or felt, before the final blows?

“Their deaths were good,” their captain said, when he brought Greatheart home.

But Osred had heard Grandmother when she muttered, “Aye – that’s what you’ll tell us all…”

…………….

All through the winter Grandmother had cautioned against eating what needed to be sown; yet it was still precious little and Osred would need to scatter it with care.

Then the riders came, bearing barley and oats, just as the ground was ready.

“From our future queen’s dowry,” said one.

Grandmother looked sad. “Éomer King sold himself for these? I hope they grow well, for it was a hard bargain.”

“Sold himself, aye… but not sacrificed,” the rider answered and he winked. “Princess Lothiriel would certainly make me happy enough to stay at home and no longer sow wild oats!”

…………….



In the winter he had dreamt of flowing water. Well, there was flowing water aplenty now, Osred thought, as the rain dripped off the eaves.

“Be grateful,” Grandmother said. “It makes the grass grow so that the cows are out of the byre, the goats need neither food nor water carrying for them, and neither do the horses. The crop will start to show green in no time and…”

‘And then,’ Osred thought, ‘Edric and I will have to weed, Gytha will have to keep the goats away…’

Perhaps wet days, with indoor tasks, were not so bad after all!

…………….



The sun shone after only two days of rain. “Just right,” said Grandmother, “Béma has time, now, to look to his people.”

Osred wasn’t sure. Wasn’t Béma the one who looked after riders and warriors? Shouldn’t he have been looking after Father and Grandfather last spring?

As he went to fetch water, Osred saw that Gytha was pricking out seedlings in the vegetable patch, and explaining to small Liuba that you took some away and it meant the rest could flourish.

‘Perhaps,’ Osred thought, ‘even though it doesn’t feel like it, last spring Béma really was looking after the Riddermark…”

…………….


Grandmother surveyed the small crop in the field. In the warming sunshine there were joyful signs of growth. It had been a hard winter after the bitter harvest of the previous year and sometimes, alone in her bed at night, she had thought it unlikely to ever see this sight.

A bird sang, but louder and more joyful came the voices of Osred, Gytha, Edric, and small Liuba; each young body stretching sunward as they made a game of hard work. Her son had sewn a crop to be proud of – all sprouting fair and not a weed amongst them.

The End... for now


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Chapter End Notes:


Disclaimer: The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only, and all rights remain with the estate of JRR Tolkien.



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