At the Turning of the Year by Suzelle

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Story Notes:

With great thanks to my betas, Zeen and Zopyrus, and to Elleth for letting me flail at her during the revision process.

This fic is dedicated to Cairistiona, without whom the idea would never have existed.


Author's Chapter Notes:

With great thanks to my betas, Zeen and Zopyrus, and to Elleth for letting me flail at her during the revision process.

This fic is dedicated to Cairistiona, without whom the idea would never have exist


The snows came early to Eriador, leaving the Angle barely prepared for the sudden onslaught of wind and cold that came howling through just before Midwinter. The roof of the guardhouse caved in on the worst night of the storm, and Adanel insisted on overseeing the repairs personally. Aragorn already had begun to take over some duties from the acting Chieftain of the Dúnedain, but in instances such as these he still simply shadowed his grandmother as she went about the Chieftain’s business, observing her actions and taking mental note of how he might do the same—or differently. In this case she asked Halbarad to come along as well, and Aragorn welcomed his older cousin’s reassuring presence. It would only be a matter of time before Adanel asked him to serve as Aragorn’s chief lieutenant. 

The Rangers working on the guardhouse stopped and scrambled to attention at the sight of Arador’s widow and their new Chieftain, but Adanel waived aside the formalities in her hurry to speak to the head sentry on duty. 

“The winds are still giving us some problems, my lady,” the Ranger said. “At times it’s still too dangerous to let the men climb to the top to secure the rafters.” 

“What is the damage to the wall itself?” Halbarad asked. 

“None,” he shook his head. “The roof only caved to the south, with no hurt to the outer portion of the wall.” 

Adanel frowned. “Are you certain? This time of year, I do not wish to take chances…”

“The wall will hold, my lords, my lady,” the sentry glanced up at Adanel. “All things considered, this could have been far worse. Worse comes to worst, we will have a half-dozen frostbitten Rangers on guard duty.” 

“I would prefer to avoid that, if at all possible,” Adanel said wryly. “Will you keep me updated on your progress?” 

“Of course, Lady Adanel,” the sentry bowed first to Adanel, then to Aragorn. “And you as well, Lord Aragorn.” 

Adanel climbed gingerly down the narrow stairs that led down from the top of the wall. “Could have been worse, indeed—the entire wall needs to go under repair. No one had touched it since the days of Arassuil.”

“With any luck, that will not have to be your concern,” Aragorn said. “It is a project that can hold until spring, at the very least.”

Adanel raised her eyebrows. “All affairs of the Dúnedain are of concern to me, young man. Do not think that stops just because I allow you to assume your duties as Chieftain.”

“Not at all, Grandmother,” Aragorn fought to keep the amusement from his face.  

She shook her head. “I will meet you back at the Chieftain’s house in an hour or two—I want to look in on the granaries one last time before the day is out. And in the meantime, Halbarad, can you please get your sister out of my house?” Adanel’s tone was pained, but her eyes danced. “I have not had a moment’s peace since she agreed to take over the Mettarë preparations for Ivorwen.”

“Consider it done, m’lady,” Halbarad swung his hand up in a mock salute, and Adanel shook her head once more. 

“Impertinent child,” she chuckled. “I will see you at supper, Aragorn.” 

The great hall of the Chieftain’s house stood warm and inviting against the cold, the candlelight from the windows shining brightly within the great stone walls. Aragorn opened the door to see Nethril standing on top of a chair on one end of the hall, brow furrowed, as she reached up to pin a garland of holly to the rafters. The chair tipped precariously on its back legs, but his cousin appeared to take no notice of it. 

“For pity’s sake, Nethril,” Halbarad ran up and caught the chair before it tipped over on its own accord. “Let one of us handle this. At least we can reach the rafters without breaking our necks.” 

“Suit yourself.” Nethril handed Halbarad the garland and bounded over to the long table in the center of the hall that was normally used for council meetings. She picked up a sheaf of parchment and scanned the list of items written in a hasty scrawl. “One less thing for me to do. Truly, I do not understand how Ivorwen pulls this off so seamlessly every year.” 

“She delegates,” Halbarad answered. “Whereas you, sister dear, seem determined to carry out the whole celebration single-handedly.” 

“Not entirely single-handedly,” Nethril gave Aragorn a wicked look. “I have our new Chieftain to help out with the more important matters.” 

Aragorn laughed weakly. “You do realize I have never presided over any sort of festival before…”

“There’s a first time for everything, cousin. And Mettarë is simple enough. Just a small speech before the bonfire, and the toast at the feast, and—oh, but you’re going to have to do the Chieftain’s Call!” Nethril interrupted herself with a wild grin. “The children are going to positively trample you!”

“I do not think any of the children remember the Chieftain’s Call, Nethril.” Halbarad finished tying off the last of the garland and hopped down to rejoin them. “’Tis difficult to get excited about something you have never known.” 

“Yes, but their parents will remember it, and welcome its return. The tradition has lain dormant for far too long.” 

“What is the Chieftain’s Call?” Aragorn asked, suddenly suspicious.

“A tradition started by the Chieftains of old,” Nethril said. “Either Arathorn the First or Argonui, I can never remember…every year, at midnight on Mettarë, the Chieftain comes to the door and calls. And if the people within answer and bid him welcome, then that household will be blessed with good health and good crops in the coming year. He brings small gifts for the children, kindling for the household—all blessings for the new year.” 

“It hasn’t been done in nearly twenty years,” Halbarad said, “not since Uncle Arathorn was alive.” 

“Adanel did not keep up the tradition?”

Nethril raised her eyebrows. “Let us say she did not have the temperament.” 

Aragorn snorted. It was difficult to imagine his rather formidable grandmother engaging in a task that required such frivolity and merriment. 

“Besides, it is a task for the Chieftain, not the one who governs in his name,” Halbarad put in. “It is one of the many traditions we forsook in your absence.”

Nethril, who Aragorn had always considered to be the most composed member of his newfound family, was now alight with a sudden fervor. “What a thing it would be, to surprise everyone with. The parents would be as delighted as the children…” she trailed off at the dubious looks on Aragorn and Halbarad’s faces. “Oh, come now. You don’t think so?”

“I think it’s a fine idea, Nethril—but Mettarë is in two days. The old Cheiftains must have spent weeks collecting enough gifts for each child in the Angle, we couldn’t possibly…”

“I’m sure we can scrounge up enough if we improvise. Enlist Halrovan and his wood carvings; he makes so many in the Wild and then has nothing to do with them when he returns to the Angle. And Isilmë was planning to give away a number of small trinkets she had made at the feast—we can simply save them for the Chieftain’s Call instead. Besides, Aragorn, it would give you a chance to speak with the men and women of the Angle, not to mention win the favor of their children. A stop at each house will send more powerful a message than any lofty speech you could give at a bonfire.” 

Aragorn leaned back against the wall and lit his pipe in thought. It was true that he still felt he did not know his people nearly as well as he should. Nearly six months had passed since Elrond revealed his true heritage to him—already a lifetime ago, in some ways. Yet he had scarcely been back for two months before Adanel had sent him out on a diplomatic mission to the South, and that had taken up most of the fall. He had not had enough time among the denizens of the Angle, and though they all treated him with respect, his upbringing in Rivendell still set him apart from the other Rangers. Truth be told, he had been looking forward to Mettarë as a way to break through some of the formal stiffness that still lingered in his interactions with the Dúnedain. 

“I suppose it can hardly hurt to try,” he said at last. “We should do it.”    

Nethril grinned once more. “Excellent. I’ll go find Halrovan now.” She swooped down to give Aragorn a quick kiss on the cheek, and grabbed her cloak off of the back of a chair. 

“Can you two finish with the decorations in here?” She called back as she ran out the door. “Or ask Faelhen to do it?”  

Halbarad watched her go and shook his head, letting out a hearty laugh. “You’ve gone and done it now. When my sister puts her mind to something she’s more maelstrom than woman.” 

“Oh, that I know,” Aragorn said. After six months in the Angle, there was little doubt in Aragorn’s mind that his cousin would prove to be one of his most valuable allies when he eventually took over in full from Adanel as Chieftain. “Do you really think we can get everything ready in time?”

“Aye, if there’s anyone who can put this together, it would be her. Tradition is important to Nethril, no matter how much she tries to deny it.” Halbarad slung his arm around Aragorn’s shoulder. “You’ve done a good thing, cousin. I think Nethril is right—this will lift the people’s spirits far more than your average Mettarë celebrations. And it will make her happy, at the very least.” 

***

Her hands full with preparations for the feast, Nethril tasked Aragorn with collecting the necessary gifts from their fellow conspirators. He and Halbarad spent the better part of an afternoon collecting the needed amount of kindling, and he found Halrovan in front of his family’s cottage on the morning of the feast. The Ranger presented him with a satchel full of the largest variety of wood-carvings he had ever seen—likenesses of eagles, bears, and many other fantastical creatures he could not hope to identify. 

“I looked around for as many as I could spare,” Halrovan said, “some of these are from years back. A few more in the Wild yourself, and you’ll understand how they tend to accumulate.” 

Aragorn chuckled. He had already had his fair share of lonely nights in the Wild, and could see how whittling away could help to pass the time in front of the fire. 

“I spread the word to some of the other Rangers, and collected a few from them as well, so you would have more on hand. Don’t worry, I didn’t tell them what it was for!” he held his hands up before Aragorn could even think to protest. “I know how much Nethril thrives on secrecy. All they know is that their gifts will go to good use.” 

Aragorn smiled and accepted the carvings with thanks. He liked Halrovan, whose good cheer and terrible sense of humor seemed to withstand even the gloomiest days. The young man was a few years older than Aragorn, closer to Halbarad’s age, and had none of the awed deference that some of the younger Rangers had around Aragorn.

Halrovan thumped him on the back. “I must say, I am glad you’re bringing this back. I always enjoyed it as a child. But be sure to only take a sip of ale at each house. Else we’ll have an ailing Chieftain on Mettarë morning, and we can’t stand for that.” 

Aragorn suppressed a groan. “Thank you, my friend. I will be sure to take care.” 

Halrovan bid him farewell, and Aragorn wrapped his cloak more tightly around him against a sudden gust of wind. Now there were only the pieces of metalwork to obtain from the blacksmith, and their preparations would be complete well ahead of schedule. 

The blacksmith’s shop was shut tight against the snow and wind, and Aragorn welcomed the heat of the forge as he closed the door behind him. Nethril's lover Isilmë was hard at work beside the fires, dressed in an old tunic and breeches and hammering away at an old sword. 

“Ah, Aragorn,” she smiled and wiped a sheen of sweat form her forehead. “Nethril said you might stop by.”

“Your grandfather is not working today?” Aragorn surveyed the shop for some sign of Huor, but found none. 

Isilmë shook her head. “He is ill again. A bad cold, I hope, nothing more…winter months have never been kind to him.” 

She gave him a light smile, as if to reassure him, but there was no escaping the worry that had settled beneath her nonchalant expression. Aragorn knew from talking to Nethril and Ivorwen that old Huor’s health had grown increasingly worse in the past few months, and both feared that it would not be long before Isilmë took over for her grandfather for good. 

“Is he in much pain? Does he need to go to the houses of healing?” 

Isilmë fixed him with a wry glance. “He’s too stubborn to leave his own bed. He thinks the healing houses are for wounded warriors or those already dead. And since he is neither…” she shook her head. “Perhaps as Chieftain you would be able to talk some sense into him.” 

“If you think that would help to change his mind…” Aragorn trailed off doubtfully. He did not trust himself to dole out such orders to an old man. It seemed as though stubbornness was a near-universal trait among the Dúnedain. 

“Of course I don’t,” she rolled her eyes. “But I appreciate the offer all the same. Anyway, I have your gifts here.” 

She gestured towards a small sack on the table, and Aragorn reached over for it, peering inside to see an assortment of small metal spinning tops and hairpins. He brought out one top, and the carefully polished iron gleamed against the glow of the forge. 

“Isilmë, these are beautiful,” he said in awe. “When did you have time to do them?” 

Isilmë shrugged. “They were one of the first things my grandfather taught me to make, when I was little more than a child myself. I work on them here and there, when business is slow. They’re good bribery to drive off those children who think invading a smithy is the most exciting way to spend an idle afternoon.” 

“You have my thanks,” he said. “These will suit our purposes quite nicely.” 

“Anything for Nethril—and for you, Aragorn. Oh, and please save this for Finnael,” Isilmë brought out a thin chain of silver, with a small emerald hanging from the end. “Halbarad brought this back from Bree a few months ago, and I have not had a chance to set the jewel until now.”

Aragorn took the necklace from her and studied the emerald briefly. It was cut in a shape not unlike those on the Ring of Barahir. “It’s lovely. I’m sure she will be pleased.” 

Isilmë gave him a faint smile. “We do not have much here, but we provide what we can for our loved ones. Halbarad and Nethril saved up for the better part of two years to go in on that.”

“I can hardly think of anyone more deserving than my aunt.” Aragorn slung the sack over his shoulder and headed once more for the door. “I will see you at the feast tonight, yes?” 

“Count on it, my lord.” 

***

The bonfire for Mettarë was set up in the clearing in front of the Chieftain’s house, with the doors to the great hall thrown open for those who wished to take refuge from the cold weather. Though the food from the feast remained inside, the bonfire itself provided enough warmth that most of the people kept their merry-making out under the stars. It was a far cry from the more subdued feast days that Elrond presided over in Rivendell, and Aragorn found he could not do much more than watch in awe as the dancers whirled around the fire. He wondered, suddenly, if Nethril had said something to the other young women of the Angle, for unlike at Midsummer there were few who approached him with hints of flirtation. He knew he would need to dance with one or two of them before the night was out, but the thought brought him little joy. He found himself wondering in spite of himself if Arwen had stayed in Rivendell for the winter, if she was sitting beside her father in the Hall of Fire at this very moment… 

Ivorwen came up behind him and handed him a mug of ale. “You’ve been awfully quiet this evening.”

“Merely trying to take it all in,” Aragorn replied. “In Rivendell there were celebrations to celebrate midwinter, to be sure, but nothing ever quite as lively as this.” 

Ivorwen smiled fondly, and reached up to tuck a stray lock of hair behind his ear. “I think that we have all been so caught up in our preparations for the season that we have forgotten this is your first winter away from home, without your adopted family.”

Aragorn ducked his head, suddenly unable to meet his grandmother’s gaze. “This is my home now, Nana, and I am glad that I am able to celebrate with you at last. I only wish…” he trailed off. He had been away during Elladan and Elrohir’s brief visit to the Dúnedain in the fall, and though his mother had hinted that she might try to visit the Angle before winter, the snows had come so early and fast that there was little hope of a convoy from Rivendell reaching the Dúnedain at this late date. He would have to wait and see Gilraen in the summer, at the earliest, if his duties as Chieftain did not take him too far from Eriador…

Ivorwen gave his hand a gentle squeeze. “I miss her too, my dear. It would give her no end of happiness, if she could see you now.” 

“I know she will return in her own time. She always said patience would be the hardest lesson for me to learn, but I never quite understood that. Not until now.” 

“It is a lesson we have all had to learn the hard way. But the rewards are that much greater for it. Your presence here is proof enough of that.” She rose from the bench, and bent down to kiss him lightly on the forehead. “Blessings be upon you in the new year, my dear Estel. It will be one filled with joy, and a hope that befits your name.”

Aragorn watched his grandmother as she joined the dancers before the fire, lost in the weight of her words. Is it her foresight that speaks to the coming year? Or merely a faith I wish I had? 

Nethril found him not long after and took a seat beside him. Her face was flushed and her hair was coming out of its usually severe knot in wisps. “You’re brooding.” 

“I am not.” 

“Yes, you are,” she insisted, and hauled him to his feet. “You haven’t moved from that spot all night. Come inside—this is a party, not some reflective evening of philosophy in Rivendell.”

Aragorn opened his mouth to give an irritated reply, but Nethril was already off and dashing back towards the Chieftain’s house. His joints were stiff from the cold, and he stretched out before the bonfire before he followed his cousin back inside the great hall, where she led him towards the end of a long table in the corner. Halbarad sat beside his fiancé, Mellaer, and Halrovan and Isilmë took up the chairs across from them. A platter of food had been pilfered from the feast table, and Halrovan winked as he pushed it towards Aragorn. 

“I imagine you have not had a chance to eat yourself,” Halrovan fixed him with a knowing look, and Aragorn smiled sheepishly. “You deserve to celebrate just as well as the rest of us.” 

Aragorn laughed, and took a seat beside Mellaer. There was a small flagon sitting beside the food, but when he peered inside he saw neither ale nor wine, but a clear liquid with a vaguely familiar scent.

“Miruvor,” Halbarad answered his unasked question. “Dírhael has had a cask sitting in his cellar since long before any of us were thought of, and he passed it on to me tonight. ‘For the Chieftain’s new year,’ he said.” 

“To Dírhael,” Isilmë topped off her own tankard before filling a new one for Aragorn. “A successful toast for a successful night, I should think.” 

“Yes, I think we did well this year,” Nethril leaned back in satisfaction and took Isilmë’s hand in her own. “I hope now that Ivorwen feels a bit more comfortable with the idea of leaving things like this to us in the coming months. She takes on far too much on her own.” 

“And you don’t, my love?” Isilmë laughed. “You’ll have assumed just as much responsibility by the time you are her age, mark my words.”

“Besides, I think it might be a bit too soon to count this a successful night.” Halbarad turned to give Aragorn a roguish glance. “The true test of our new Chieftain does not come until midnight. It hardly seems fair to declare when he might still incur the wrath of a few dozen angry children.” 

Aragorn groaned. “Do you really think I’m that hopeless?” 

“Just how many children did they have in Rivendell?” 

“Stop teasing him, Hal,” Mellaer admonished. “You’ll make him wish he’d never come back to us.”

Aragorn laughed in spite of himself. “Believe me, this is nothing compared to what my foster-brothers would have to say if they knew what we had planned tonight. At least here, I know I am among friends.”

“You are among friends, Aragorn,” Isilmë echoed quietly. “And I hope that you remember that beyond tonight.”   

Aragorn could not help but smile. He had come a long way from the loneliness he felt his first weeks in the Angle. “I will. And I am more grateful for it than I can say.”   

Nethril lifted her glass, and the other five followed suit. “To friends, and families found. We all will need both in the coming year.”  

***

Aragorn’s earlier melancholy evaporated with the miruvor, and he found himself enjoying the rest of the feast far more than he had anticipated. The bonfire had faded to a large pile of embers by the time Aragorn finally rose from his place at the table and made his way back to the his own room, stopping here and there to talk with those who were still enjoying their last pint of ale. Nethril ran up to meet him before he reached the stairs. 

“I’ve spread the word,” she said. “Those families with children know to keep their fires burning past midnight. I did not tell them what for, but I imagine they can make their own guesses. Do you have everything you need?”

“Yes, upstairs,” Aragorn said. Halbarad had rejoined them by the time he fetched the sack from its hiding place at the bottom of his trunk, and they waited until the bonfire was put out and the last of the revelers had gone home. At last, Aragorn pulled his cloak more tightly around him, and stood at the front stoop between Nethril and Halbarad. The Chieftain’s house stood on the top of a tiny hill, and from there they could look out at the small scattering of homes that stood lit beneath the new-fallen snow. The stars were out for the first time in days, and a rare quiet had settled upon the Angle.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Nethril murmured. “Elbereth watches out for us on this night.” 

Halbarad put his hand on Aragorn’s shoulder. “The Dúnedain await. Is the Chieftain ready?”

“As ready as I will ever be,” he answered. “Come on, before it gets to be too late.”  

They came to the first house, and Halbarad and Nethril hung back as Aragorn approached the door. They nodded to him in encouragement when he looked back at them, and he took a deep breath before he knocked on the door. 

“The Chieftain calls!” he shouted, feeling rather foolish. “How will you answer?”

At first, Aragorn could hear no sound within the house. He was just about to turn back to Nethril in consternation, before he heard footsteps approaching the door, and the sound of children’s voices echoed through the doorway. “We bid him come! We bid him come!”

Halbarad gave an encouraging wink, and Aragorn opened the door to meet the solemn eyes of two small children, the youngest barely old enough to stand on her own. The older one eyed Aragorn suspiciously, but his distrust gave way to a wide smile as Aragorn drew out a wood-carving from his bag.  

“Have you ever seen an eagle, young one?” he asked. The boy shook his head. “They look much like this, only many times bigger—keep this close, and you might see one for yourself someday.” 

He made the eagle swoop down and into the outstretched palm of the boy, who laughed eagerly and ran back to show his new gift to his father. Aragorn met the Ranger’s steady gaze, and as he placed the gift of kindling into the fire he said the words Nethril had taught him. “May your fire always burn brightly, and may blessings be upon this house.” 

“We thank you, Lord Aragorn,” the mother—Aragorn remembered that her name was Maeneth—smiled warmly and handed him a tankard of ale. “We kept young Mallor guessing all night as to what the surprise might be.” 

“I hope it leaves him satisfied,” Aragorn chuckled. 

“Oh, I think it will,” her husband put in. “I imagine it cannot be easy, filling such shoes as your father’s—but we are all grateful for it, and glad to see you here once more. And I know there are at least two here who are hoping this tradition continues.”

He came out of the house smiling more broadly than he had all night, and Nethril shot him an impish grin. “There now. That wasn’t so bad, was it?” 

Because of the nature of the Chieftain’s gifts, they kept their stops limited to those households with children, but even those without kept their hearths burning and stopped to greet Aragorn as they made their way through the settlement. Still, he skipped over his cousins’ house without much thought, but Halbarad and Nethril both stopped him before he went too far. They exchanged a mischievous grin as they turned back to approach their own house, and Aragorn raised an eyebrow before he followed after them and knocked on the door. 

“The Chieftain calls,” he began, but before he could finish his pronouncement the door opened to reveal his aunt, wrapped in a woolen blanket to shut out the cold. 

“I bid you come, my lord,” Finnael’s eyes danced with merriment. She looked out over his shoulder and fixed her children with a mock-stern glance. “Which one of them put you up to this?” 

“We did not ‘put him up’ to anything, Mama,” Nethril protested. “You do not think we would accept a Chieftain who cannot make his own decisions?”  

“Of course not, ield-nín,” Finnael winked at Aragorn. “Come in, all of you, before you let out the warmth.” 

Once inside, she handed Aragorn a tankard of ale, but before he could toss the kindling into the fire, Nethril drew out a small cloth bag and cleared her throat. 

“We agreed to only give gifts to the children this year, as it was all so last-minute,” she said. “But Halbarad and I thought, for our lady mother, there might be an exception.” 

Finnael took the bag from Nethril with a bemused smile. “What on earth—“ she let out a soft gasp as she drew out the necklace Aragorn had received in Isilmë’s shop. 

“May blessings be upon you in the new year, Mama,” Halbarad said quietly. “We had hoped to give this to you sooner.” 

Finnael opened her mouth to answer, but no words came out, and her eyes filled with tears. 

“You are pair of scoundrels, I hope you know,” she said at last, drawing both of her children into an embrace. “There is no greater gift than to see you both out in the world causing this much trouble.” 

Aragorn backed out of the cottage quietly, and closed the door unnoticed behind them with a wistful smile. He could handle the rest of the houses on his own. 

***

It was well past midnight by the time Aragorn visited the last home, and exhaustion had begun to creep up on him as he made his way back to the Chieftain’s house. The expressions of surprise and delight on the children’s faces had been well worth his efforts, and he was so lost in his thoughts that he almost didn’t notice that a fire still burned in the great hall of his own home.

“You would not call upon your own grandmother?” A dry voice echoed from a corner of the hall. Adanel sat beside one of the long serving tables, only halfway cleared from the revelry earlier in the night. Aragorn stammered out an apology, but she held up a hand with a smile.

“Not even Halbarad hinted that you were all were planning this,” she said. “Truth be told, I had almost forgotten it was something we once did.” 

“It was Nethril’s idea. I did not do much more than gather everything together and play my part.” 

“And none of it would have happened if not for that,” Adanel smiled. “Come here, I have something for you.” 

Aragorn approached the table, and she handed him a knife with a dark leather sheath. He drew out the dagger, and saw that it was simply wrought, with only the star of the Dúnedain engraved upon it near the base of the hilt. 

“This was your father’s,” she said. “Arador had it made for him as a coming-of-age gift. It has little importance or history compared to Narsil, but I think he liked it all the more because of that. I was going to wait until you had officially assumed your title to give it to you, but this seemed a more appropriate time.” 

Aragorn found that he could not speak, and Adanel reached out to take both of his hands in hers. “I fear I do not tell you enough how proud I am of you, my grandson. Never let there be any doubt about that.”

Aragorn stood the great hall long after Adanel had left, turning his father’s dagger over in his hand. A year ago, I did not know his name. Moonlight shone through the windows of the darkened hall, and he looked out at the place that had weathered years without its heir. So much had been lost through the years of his childhood, something he was only now coming to understand. But here, with the gifts of this night, he felt he finally had a measure of the legacy he must claim.

 


Chapter End Notes:

The idea of the Chieftain’s Call is stolen from a 2009 fic of Cairistiona’s, and was in turn based off of some Scottish tradition from way back when. Thank you for letting me borrow it, my friend! 



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