Screaming Children in Marketplaces

by raenarcam

“I just don’t see what the big deal is,” Isabella said flippantly, examining an apple off of the pile of a seller with a keen eye. They carried baskets over their arms but they were mostly empty. Somewhere off in the distance Isabella’s father’s new wife carried her baby on her hip and bought enough produce to feed the small army in their house. Isabella was tasked with keeping an eye on the rest of the children, five in total, ages five to twelve, a task she had enlisted a reluctant Lunet in in exchange for a reasonably pleasant walk.

Lunet scowled, first at her friend and then down at a big courgette with a massive rotten spot. They moved over to a man selling scarves. “How do you not see what a big deal that is? It’s-

“Oy! Bran! What’d I tell you about climbing that!”

“-offensive. Why should he have to change his name to fit in?”

“Well yeah but I see his point. If you had it your way you wouldn’t have a surname at all after that. Lunet Nothing, is that what you want?”

“I don’t see why it would be so strange for him to take my name or, or, here’s a thought, he could just not have a surname like everyone else who’s not from Bree.”

“Or a hobbit,” Isabella corrected between corralling one of her half brothers with a swift snatch to the collar. Her own mother had died a great many years earlier and Mariya up ahead was now the second step-mother Isabella had to look after, at only two years older than the pair of girls behind her Isabella considered it a sisterly duty to her younger siblings to keep them away from the woman who could best be described as Generally Inexperienced.

“He’s clearly not a hobbit.”

“I just don’t think your Da is that out of line, I mean, he has some strange tendencies sure. I’ll grant you that, but the boy’s pretty queer. How’s anyone supposed to know you’re married to him if you haven’t got the same name?”

“Well how do they know anyone’s married down south?” Lunet objected, holding up a scarf to look it over.

“I don’t know Lunet because I live in Bree just like you do and here we can tell based on surnames. What’s so bad about it? He makes up a name, it goes in the register, done. It’s not like he’s going to ask the boy to, I dunno, start up a turnip farm or something. It’s a name.”

“But it’s not right. It’s trying to make him different, I don’t want him to be different.”

“You know who hasn’t got surnames Lunet? Thieves and beggars. I’ve never seen the lad out on the street begging so that leaves one other option. Come back when he says your southr- southerner has to go by Ernist and only wear wool tunics and we’ll chat about unfa- Oy! Hervi! Get! Down! Now! You leave that dwarf alone or I’ll beat y’till you’re purple y’hear me!”

At roughly the time Hervi was attempting to determine the strength of a dwarf’s beard for climbing purposes the youngest boy made a reappearance with a little knick on his forehead and tears in his eyes. The two girls parted, with Lunet left to crouch down beside the sniffling Lambin. “Come on Lamb what’s wrong?” Lunet asked, wincing a little and digging around for her handkerchief.

He pointed back toward a little table holding crockery behind them and between sniffles said, “I f-f-fell into the c-corner Miss Luny.”

Lunet sighed and licked the handkerchief, pressing it to the boy’s forehead. “Well it’s alright, just a little bump nothing serious. Want a strawberry?”

“Yes please!” His expression brightened immediately and she dug out a strawberry from where she had wrapped them up in her mostly-empty basket to hand to him. She had decided that Lambin was alright when he had been born and he hadn’t proved her wrong yet. He was quieter than his older brothers and he had cried very little as an infant which Lunet found generally agreeable though Isabella had regularly suggested there was probably something a little wrong with him.

Lunet still liked him, if she had to have a child she supposed she wouldn’t mind one like Lambin.

She kept the handkerchief pressed to his forehead while he ate his strawberry and grinned at him. “Look! All better! Stay closer though. Where’d your big sister go?” He pointed to where Isabella was currently dressing down eight year old Hervi, who seemed to at best be disinterested in the lecture. “Tell her I said I’d see her in a couple days, alright?” She mussed his hair up and slipped away from the noisy market square. How Isabella could still want children after spending all of her time running after siblings Lunet had no idea.

That was definitely weirder than anything Lunet did. She hovered back by a woman selling stockings, frowning a little as she looked them over. She wondered if that funny doctor’s apprentice could really make her a shorter skirt than this one that nearly dragged on the ground at every step. She wondered if it would even look alright.