The way into Moria had been as peaceful as she’d hoped. Having spoken with the leader of the caravan, Eruviel quietly made her way over to Eirikr. Standing near the edge of the platform with his arms folded across his chest, he stared out across the chasm. “What do you see?”
The man looked over at her and smiled. “Rock. A lot of rock. How are you?”
Eruviel chuffed a quiet chuckle, and looked out to the great cavern. “I am well. These caves always make me feel a tad squeamish, but it is nothing I can’t ignore. How are you?” This cold realm better have had only one Balrog.
Eirikr shrugged and turned to face her. “I am well enough as any man can be stuck beneath these mountains. But a few days’ travel and we will see the sky again.”
Smiling up at him, she nodded. “Very true. The word I hear is that the road ahead of us is clear.”
Eirikr nodded, but his expression remained neutral at the news. “We will travel with speed, then. What are your thoughts for our return journey?”
Her keen gaze flicked over his face before turning towards the small encampment behind them. “If it is a peaceful journey through, I would recommend returning back this way. There is safety in numbers. We can still inquire after the pass once we reach our destination.”
“I hope all is well with the Beornings. The path ahead may be clear, but perhaps because so many have left the mines to push east into Lothlorien and the Wood.”
Eruviel nodded in agreement. “As do I. We don’t have to make any decision about our return till we choose to return, though. I do not wish to make any premature decisions that could cause us future trouble.”
Eirikr gave her a quick look. “Do you wish to linger there?”
“I did not mean to imply that,” Eruviel responded as she arched a brow, “though it is beautiful there. I merely did not wish to assume that we would depart any sooner or later than you desire to.”
“I am eager to return to Durrow. Anyatka and Abiorn alone in that tiny cabin…” His voice trailed off and a look of realization struck him. “Oh, my…”
Eruviel snickered, and gave her braid a thoughtful tug. “It is character building. I am sure the house will be in one piece, and the dogs a little less trained than how you left them.”
Eirikr shook his head. “And I am bringing an infant back to that… Eruviel… there will be no where to put a cradle!”
Eruviel set a hand on her hip, and looked out to the cavern as she thought. The old house is rented out. And he should not have to… “With your consent he can stay at my place till there is room. If you’re up for the work, we could round up Gaelyn, and Mor, and some of the others and get your cabin remodeled before the weather changes.”
“I do not know… isn’t the point of my bringing him home for me to be with him?”
Eruviel mirrored his slow nod. “Then you can stay at my place with him till your cabin is done.”
Eirikr looked at her and then swiftly away. “I would hate to impose on you like that.”
She waved a hand dismissively. “You would not be imposing at all. I will probably be away most nights anyways, and this time of year I usually rest in my hammock.”
Eirikr nodded slowly. “All right. If you insist we will not bother you.” He raked a hand through his hair. “I will probably appreciate your insight into raising a child. I have… no idea what I am going to do.”
Eruviel’s mouth twitched as she fought back a smile, and thanked Orome for the times she babysat for a day or two over the past several hundred years. “I will do my best. Good thing you are a runner, because he will keep you on your toes. He was toddling when I saw him a few months ago.”
Eirikr fell quiet for a moment. “He is. What else was he doing? And what else is he doing now?”
Eruviel twisted her mouth to one side as she gently tugged at her braid again. “He was energetic… and he liked to pull on my braid and ears. But what is he doing now? I’d think he would be eating soft foods now, and he could be starting to form words. He should have most of his teeth by now… Oh, heavens…. Give it a few more months and you could try potty training him.”
The man rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands.
Watching him, Eruviel felt a soft twist in her chest, and she rested a hand on his arm. “I’ll be there for whatever you need… and we can make Anya and Abbi change his diapers. You missed the ‘up every two hours’ stage. He should sleep straight through most nights. I can watch him for you most days if you need to go hunt or have time to yourself.”
Eirikr looked at her and smiled wearily. “Thank you. I am sure you did not expect to become a nanny when you decided to take a liking to my sister.”
She laughed softly, and shook her head. “No, I did not. And while I try to plan for the unexpected, I never could have imagined a more delightful outcome.”
He smiled as he looked down at her with a soft expression. That smile. It nearly took the air right out of her lungs. It was the most wonderful smile that quite possibly made her knees feel a little weak. Eruviel met his gaze with a similar softness for a moment before the tips of her ears turned pink, and she diverted her eyes. “Besides, now I can try and beat you in getting him to address me first. ‘Roovie’ is… possibly easier to say than ‘Daddy’ or ‘Ada’.”
Eirikr nodded. “Challenge accepted. ‘Ada’ is far easier than ‘Roovie.'”
Eruviel smirked, and glanced back at him. “Probably, but that does not mean I cannot try.”
Giving her one last look, Eirikr turned. “I am going to turn in. Good night, Eruviel.
Offering him a small smile and a nod, Eruviel clasped her hands behind her back. “Good night, Eirikr. Rest well.”
~ ~ ~
Thank you to Eirikr’s player, Cwendlwyn, for the RP and plot!
All conversation has been taken from chat logs, and edited for tense and exposition.