THE WIVES OF ISILDUR’S HEIRS 20/20
Arwen Undómiel was the Evenstar of her People, the Queen of Arnor and Gondor, and the mother of House Telcontar.
Born in the 241st year of the Third Age to Lord Elrond of Imladris and his wife, Celebrían, she was the youngest of their three children. She had two elder brothers, Elladan and Elrohir. Arwen was considered to be the fairest of the Children of Ilúvatar in the Third Age, greatly resembling her foremother Lúthien.
Her fate would be the same.
In the year 2952 of the Third Age, after dwelling for many years in her grandparents’ realm of Lothlórien, she met her father’s young ward, Aragorn son of Arathorn, the heir of Isildur. They met, whether by chance or fate, at sunset in the woods as Arwen walked again the bounds of her home after many long years away and Aragorn walked those same paths, singing softly the Lay of Lúthien to himself. When Aragorn espied her, he thought he had strayed into a dream or had conjured the memory of Tinuviel with his song and he called to her, ‘Tinuviel, Tinuviel!’, as Beren had done in Ages past. She turned to him and smiled and from that moment on Aragorn loved her.
But she did not love him, not yet.
For Aragorn was still little more than a child in her eyes. He was young and knew little of the world; he had been educated as thoroughly as any child that ever dwelled in the House of Elrond but he had long been sheltered within that House as well.
Aragorn soon departed from Rivendell and went out into the wilds. There he labored against the cause of Sauron, at first in the company of Gandalf and the sons of Elrond but, in later years, he journeyed alone. He rode in the host of the Rohirrim and fought for Gondor under the name Thorongil and won many great victories. But in time, he departed and went alone far into the East and deep into the South, exploring the hearts of Men, both good and evil, until at last, wearied from his journeys, he turned North again. He wished to seek respite in Rivendell again after so many years and passed first through the fair realm of Lothlórien. There too was Arwen, come again to dwell with her mother’s kin.
When Aragorn and Arwen met for the second time, he was no longer young. He had grown to full stature in body and mind and his years lay upon his brow. Where once a boy had stood, now there was a lord of men. His face was sad and stern but his eyes were bright and his hope undaunted; dressed in the raimenants given to him by the Lady Galadriel, he appeared as though he was long dead Heroes of Men come again. Only then, when they met once more in Lothlórien, golden flowers all around them, did Arwen’s heart turn to Aragorn.
On Midsummer in the year 2980 of the Third Age, Aragorn and Arwen plighted their troth on Cerin Amroth. It would be many more years before they were wed but, at long last, in the 3019th year of the Third Age, they married.
Thus Arwen became the Queen of the Reunited Kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor. She and Aragorn had five children: the eldest was their son Eldarion and after him were his four sisters, each named in honor of a relative long passed from the world and the knowledge of Men. They were, in order, Tindómiel who would go on to wed Elboron son of Faramir and Eowyn; Eleránë who was named in honor of her paternal grandmother; and the twins Ninquelótë and Itarillë who were named after their maternal great-great grandmothers.
Arwen and Aragorn had many long and happy years together until at last Aragorn laid down his life and departed from the world. After taking leave of her children, and great was the sorrow at their parting, Arwen returned one final time to Lothlórien, now an empty and deserted realm. There upon Cerin Amroth she laid down her own life and sought out her beloved in the Circles Beyond.
Weird Questions for Writers: 7, 9, 30, 32? Please and thank you!
7. What is your deepest joy about writing?
The - the tactile experience of sitting in your room making faces at the wall trying to find exactly the right word for something, and then having someone read it and go "!!! THAT."
9. Do you believe in ghosts? This isn’t about writing I just wanna know.
😂 I believe spaces hold on to old energy in certain ways, let's put it like that.
30. Talk to me about the role dreams play in your writing life. Have you ever used material from your dreams in your writing? Have you ever written in a dream? Did you remember it when you woke up?
Oooh, that's a fun one. I don't usually remember my dreams, and when I do they're usually to do with anxiety, so...no, I can't say I've ever used any of them for writing.
32. What is a line from a poem/novel/fanfic etc that you return to from time and time again? How did you find it? What does it mean to you?
I love, unapologetically, Faramir's speech to Eowyn in the Houses of Healing, and I come back to it all the time when I'm thinking about the relationships I want to write and to cultivate:
Then, Éowyn of Rohan, I say to you that you are beautiful. In the valleys of our hills there are flowers fair and bright, and maidens fairer still; but neither flower nor lady have I seen till now in Gondor so lovely, and so sorrowful. It may be that only a few days are left ere darkness falls upon our world, and when it comes I hope to face it steadily; but it would ease my heart, if while the Sun yet shines, I could see you still. For you and I have both passed under the wings of the Shadow, and the same hand drew us back.
He's just so goooooood.
Under the Stars - Legolas
While traversing Middle Earth, on a quest to deliver the One Ring to Mount Doom, you and the Fellowship try to move stealthily. Some are better at sneaking around than others. For instance, you seem to struggle in masking your feelings for a certain Elf. The rest of the Fellowship can so easily see the affection you hold for Legolas while you believe you’re being quite slick. Turns out, you’re the only one that was fooled.
AN: This is purely a selfish writing endeavor. I’ve been stressed and watching the LOTR and Hobbit movies to relax...I forgot how much I love Elves….Human!Reader X Legolas...
“I’m sick of smelling of grass and grime!” Merry announced. As he spoke, he dropped his cloak on a patch of nearby dirt beside the fire Boromir had begun to build. Silently, you hoped for Aragorn and Legolas to return with supper soon. Once the Hobbits’ stomachs were full, they would quiet.
Legolas had described them as ‘children’ to you one evening: once fed, quick to bed. It had been one of those first nights, back when you were too nervous, too giddy, to sleep. You would stay up with Legolas as he took watch. Despite what Gimli had told you about Elves, you found Legolas to be good company during those restless nights, a great comfort even. He would tell you stories from the centuries he had lived through and you would listen, hang off every word. When you finally did fall asleep, rare as it was those first days, it was because you felt safe with Legolas by your side.
If you dwelled too long on the memory, your face would warm with longing. How simple it had been before your heart began to complicate matters. Luckily, the Hobbits, hungry and noisy as ever, pulled you from your thoughts.
“We’re all sick,” Sam sighed as he took a seat next to haggard Frodo. “But we’ll be back at the Shire soon. Drinking and eating Rosie’s lovely supper roast.”
Boromir scoffed and shook his head at the Hobbit’s squabbling. “We have many more weeks of travel yet. Do not kid yourselves.”
Pippin frowned and plopped down beside a freshly disappointed Merry. This was the first time any of them had been away from the Shire, from their home; especially for so long. Due to that new homesickness, Boromir’s true words hit hard for the Hobbits. You gave them a sad smile before looking to Boromir. You bumped your shoulder against his to get his attention.
“Take it easy on them,” you said softly. “They’re not like us, not ready to leave home to save it at a moments notice.”
“They’re not fighters, you mean,” he countered as he struck the flint and steel. Sparks shot out from the metal and stone. After another strike, small flames began to burn. With a sigh, Boromir set his tools aside and sat back.
“You could change that, you know.” Boromir stole a glance at you, an eyebrow raised at your words. “You could teach them to fight, to defend. It would make things easier.”
There was an edge to the man’s voice that caught you off guard. It was the same tone his father had used with you and Faramir when the pair of you tried to get Boromir to ditch his ‘steward prince’ duties as children. You cringed that familiar cruelty. Boromir was annoyed and you, already tired from the days travels, were not equipped to handle his irritability. You started to stand, brushing the dirt off of your trousers.
“It was just a suggestion, Boromir,” you explained, already starting to turn your back to the man. As you started to take steps into the forest, to find Aragorn and Legolas, Boromir let out a hearty laugh.
“It would be easier if you did not fawn over our dear Elf companion as well, but you seem to be falling just the same.”
You stopped dead in your tracks and felt your skin, every inch of it, warm with embarrassment. Slowly, you turned to meet Boromir’s bright eyes and knowing smirk. His expression resembled his younger self, the boy that affectionately tease you as you trained with Faramir. Growing up in Gondor with Boromir had toughened your hide to his ribbing; but this struck a chord. This was not the good-natured jokes you were used to.
Despite the truth in his teasing, Boromir’s tone was changed, twisted into something kissed by darkness.
“I know nothing of which you speak,” you replied through slightly gritted teeth. You had gone so long without anyone seemingly noting your admiration of Legolas that you were clambering for a defense.
“Oh deary me,” Gimli, groaned. You looked over at the Dwarf and saw his saddened eyes. Behind him, the Hobbits watched, wide-eyed, as you seemed to seethe.
“Everyone here sees it,” Boromir continued, “except for possibly the Elf and yourself. Blind to your own feelings and you talk of making things easier.”
Your heart leapt in your chest. For a moment, your thoughts are clouded by Legolas.
His blonde hair, flicking with the wind as you walked towards destiny, towards Mount Doom. Those first nights spent chatting about adventure. His eyes, soft as he explained to you the significance of his braids and recounted the sternness of his kingly father. For the past few days, when he wasn’t scouting ahead, he was walking by your side, letting his hand brush ever-so slightly. In those moments, you tried your hardest to keep calm, stay steady while Legolas seemed wholly unfazed by the incidental touches.
If anything it was the Elven prince who was blind, oblivious to how his mere presence was driving you mad with want. No, Boromir was wrong. You were not blind to your feelings, you were just ignoring them. Or, at least, trying to ignore them. After all, how could an Elf like Legolas, beautiful and immortal, want you?
“You are mistaken, Boromir,” you snap coldly. “I have no...inclination towards the Elf. Perhaps it is you, who is blind.”
Boromir shook his head and sighed. “You are grasping at thin air, Y/N. Even from the low spots at which they stand, the Hobbits can see your fonding eyes towards the archer.”
“Hey!” Merry stood in a flash, “we see lots of things.”
“So you agree with him?” You asked, turning to the four halflings perched beside the fire. Frodo was stunned in silence, as was Sam who had even stopped nibbling at his lembas. You imagined such human drama rarely reared its head in the Shire. Merry and Pippin, however, used to causing chaos, nodded.
“I mean, it’s the truth. Is it not?” Pippin asked, a hopeful half-smile on his lips. Despite his kind expression, you felt a bolt of hot anger in your heart.
“Aye, the man is right,” Gimli stood before you. Stout and strong, he looked up at you with true Dwarven candor. “Everybody sees how you look at ‘im. I don’t begin to understand it, the pointy ears and all, but-”
“Neither do I.”
The words left your lips edged with a saddening truth you were not expecting. You didn’t understand how you could fall for someone so hard, so swiftly. Let alone someone who was an Elf, an entire world away from yours. The thought brought stinging tears to your eyes. To hide them, you turned your back to the camp and started to walk into the surrounding forest.
As you left, you heard Frodo finally speak up.
“It feels that we have just begun and we are already crumbling.”
For a moment, you’re tempted to stay. Whatever feelings you had for Legolas, they were not worth tarnishing the Fellowship. But the thought of facing Boromir, the others, after they so plainly set your heart’s affection on display made you feel ill. So, you kept walking.
You walked until you found a clearing lined with grand, old trees. They towered but their branches did not dare to obscure the stars that shone down. Moonlight gleamed along the green blades of grass in the center of the clearing. The glow was soft, inviting, and you felt drawn to it.
When you moved to stand in the light, you found yourself looking up. Away from the fire light and pyres of Minas Tirith, the stars shone with abandon. Never before had you seen anything as breathtaking. Though, that wasn’t quite true.
You had seen Legolas in the heat of battle: graceful and deadly, slinging arrows with startling accuracy. From the first moment you saw him at the Council of Elrond, you knew there was a fire beneath his skin and you felt honored to see it burn in battle. You had seen his gentleness too as he studied particular flowers along the trail. As you walked with the Fellowship, you would steal sneaky glances at the Elf when he wasn’t at your side.
Apparently, your awe and stolen looks had not gone unnoticed. You winced as you thought back to the camp, to Boromir’s borderline cruelty. He had seemed different ever since you left Rivendell, ever since he learned of the Ring. Could a little band of gold, a promise of power, change a man so quickly?
You pushed the thought from your mind and tried to focus solely on the stars. In the silence, there was a brief peace. Worries slipped away, melted under the light of the Moon. The next day would come and bring fear with it. For this moment, you closed your eyes to better savor the quiet and its strange joy.
“Stars never seem to shine as brightly outside Mirkwood.”
Your eyes opened wide at the sound of Legolas’ voice. When you craned your neck and saw the Elf standing at the edge of the tree line, your breath caught. In the starlight, he looked all the more fair and handsome. His eyes, darker in the limited light, met yours and he dipped his head.
“I did not mean to frighten you,” he raised his open palms and approached you.
“No, you didn’t, I...I wasn’t expecting you.” You tore your attention away from him and looked back to the sky. It took all you had to keep your breathing steady as Legolas moved to stand at your side. From the corner of your eyes, you could see his strong shoulders, his chest, so close. Why must he stand so near?
“You were expecting someone else then?”
“I-I,” you looked back to him and saw that he was looking at the stars. Though your floundering reaction to his question did not go unnoticed. The slightest of smiles played on his pale lips. “No. No one.”
You moved your eyes back to the stars in the hopes of recovering some of your dignity. A sudden fear flooded your senses. Had he returned to camp with Aragorn? What had the others told him? You thought back to Boromir’s attitude and tensed. Before you could ask after anything, Legolas spoke up.
“Tonight, they remind me of home.”
You swallow hard before you dared to look his way. “What do you mean?”
“The stars,” he whispered, turning his gaze to yours. There was a gentleness in his features that made your chest warm. “And the company.”
Your breath caught in your throat at his words. “I fear I don’t understand.”
“You remind me home,” Legolas replied smoothly. You let out a forced laughed and frowned at him. Elves, by nature, were poetic but did Legolas did not see how his words could have a double meaning? He must see the pain on your face, the desperate hope his words gave you. Everyone else did, apparently.
“How could a human remind an Elf of his woodland home?”
“You are beautiful.” Legolas didn’t miss a beat with his reply.
“Legolas.” When his name fell from your lips, it was heavy and full of warning. Yet, the Elf seemed to care less as he turned his eyes back towards the sky. Silently, you cursed yourself for thinking he meant anything by the compliment.
“When I was younger, my father would bring me to the canopy to study the constellations. He would tell me the stories that accompanied them.”
Frown still firmly planted in your expression, you commented, “that doesn’t sound like the grim man you described to me.”
“He could be bitter, but beneath the asperity there was always love.”
His words stirred up for you an image of Boromir. While you heart still stung from his teasing, you could not forget the childhood you shared with him. The boy you once played with, trained with, alongside his younger brother, was still there. Buried beneath the hardened, stubborn man, but he was there all the same. There was hope for him yet.
“Love endures,” you added softly. The chilled night air gave your breath the form of a small cloud. Instinctively, you pulled at your cloak and fastened it a bit tighter around your shoulders.
“It endures all of Time and wild weather,” Legolas agreed. His eyes found yours once more and, with a look of concern, he leaned close to you. “Are you cold?”
“No, I’m not, I…”
You trailed off, unable to think clearly with Legolas so near and looking at you like that. His eyes were kind, framed by the long, fine strands of his blond hair. With his dark brows furrowed together with worry, he looked older despite the Elven gift of eternal youth. How tempted you were to reach out and pull his lips to yours. Your fingers twitched and itched to do so, but you forced your hands to stay still. Bitterly, you imagined that those in the Fellowship would smirk at you if they could see how you were acting.
“Y/N, you sh-”
“Did they tell you?”
Legolas cocked his head to the side like a confused hound. “Tell me what?”
“The Fellowship did they...I am tired of being played for a fool,” you pressed. “I have been parading about as if I have masked my every feeling yet I could be read as plainly as any tome. I refuse to believe you, with your Elven sight, could not see what mere men and Hobbits have.”
At you plea, Legolas’ straightened his posture. While he leaned towards you no longer, his eyes remained soft and as watchful as they ever were. You took in his furrowed brows and slight frown before pressing a hand to your forehead with shame. In an attempt to calm yourself, you hung your heavy head and took a deep breath.
“I, I am sorry, Legolas. I think it’s time I had some rest.”
With your hand hiding a portion of your downturned face, you did not see him move closer to you until you saw the toes of his boots before your own. Still embarrassed because of your outburst, you did not dare to move. Only when you felt slender, warm fingers wrap around your wrist did you allow your hand to fall away. When you lifted your head, you were met with Legolas’ eyes focused solely on you.
“Do not apologize, you are right. They did not tell me; they do not need to. I have seen the feelings of which you speak and I am sorry that I have been so quiet.”
A breath was hard for you to find, but when you did you used it to ask the question balanced on the tip of your tongue. “What do you mean?”
“I mean to say there are many differences between your world and mine. I should have made my feelings more clear.”
Legolas’ grip on your wrist loosened slightly and you thought he was going to let go. Your stomach dropped with the dread of an affection gone unrequited. Then, just as you felt true doom, Legolas joined his hand with yours. Your gaze fell to watch how his fingers entangled with yours. Nervous, you looked back to Legolas and found there was a tender smile playing on his lips.
“At night I do not sleep but with these long evenings, with you slumbering so near, I have wished to. I have lived through many centuries and never once wanted to sleep. Never once did I see a beauty and longed to hold it dear until I met you.”
“Legolas,” you whispered, breathlessly, “I now truly feel like a fool.”
He lifted his free hand, the one not holding yours, to your face. Light as feathers, Legolas’ fingertips traced along your cheek. The touch sent a shiver down your spine that you did not even try to hide. There was no point now. Everything was clear for everyone to see. You did not want to hide from Legolas any longer.
“Perhaps we are both fools,” he said softly. This close to Legolas, even in the dim light of the stars, you could see the depth of blue in his eyes. The itch in your fingers returned as the smell of him flooded your senses: beech bark and pine. Before you could even think of holding back, your hand reached up and pulled his lips to yours.
Legolas was quick to respond. Both his hands moved to cup the sides of your face and he moved his lips eagerly along yours. Your hands gripped his armor, holding him close. Every feeling you had held in poured out into the kiss. Each stolen glance and longing stare finally coming to a head. Still clinging to him desperately, you pulled away from Legolas to catch your breath.
Slightly winded, you rested your forehead against his, sharing the air between you. Relieved of your worries, you felt a surge of bravery overtake you. Laughing lightly, you pulled away to meet Legolas’ gaze.
“I wonder if the Fellowship saw that coming.”
Legolas smiled at your joking, the widest smile you had seen from the Elf since meeting him. With his hands still holding your face, he brought you in for another kiss; less needy than the last but all the more passionate. Warmth surrounded you both but you hungered for more. Just as you were about to pull on Legolas’ armor, you heard someone clear their throat.
Immediately, you and Legolas pulled away from each other. You both looked over to see Aragorn, smiling smugly at the two of you as he walked out from the shadows created by the looming trees. A new sort of embarrassment rushed through you as the Ranger took in the sight of you and the Elf. You could only imagine what you both looked like with lips kiss swollen, chests heaving, and all wild eyed.
“I can not speak for the rest, but I saw this coming.”
You snuck a glance at Legolas and saw his pale cheeks had pinkened. Never before had you seem him flustered and you felt overwhelmed with pride that you had played a part in it. The starlight made the Elf’s features all the more pleasing. You wanted to kiss him again but, before you could reach for Legolas, Aragorn spoke up again.
“Come now, you’ve worried the party with your extended absence. And the Hobbit’s have supper ready.” As he turned to walk back, he added, “there will be time for that when our journey comes to an end.”
You and Legolas start after the promised king. Not before sharing a look that told the other that neither of you would be willing to wait that long. For so long you had both waited, danced in silence around the other. Now, there was no holding back.
More HEARTCANON/SOULCANON/any canon about Gondor please! Or, related: do you think Faramir ever regretted recognizing Aragorn as king of Gondor? Did Aragorn ever have second thoughts about the guy he appointed steward?
My default inclination is to say no, because of the mystical element of those initial recognitions. It’s not a rational evaluation of each other’s abilities/qualities so much as a sense of basic identity.
Faramir doesn’t recognize Aragorn as king because he thinks through it and decides Aragorn has the qualities of a good king, but because after the healing, he feels in his soul that Aragorn is the king in some essential way. Aragorn’s entire conduct towards Faramir inclines me to think that he sees Faramir as the rightful Steward, has a sense of Faramir’s being that he (Aragorn) respects, and—as far as Faramir is concerned—never considers acting in any way other than he did. I don’t think either would have regrets in the sense of wishing he had made different choices; they couldn’t have made different choices, ethically.
That said, there’s a fairly major issue that seems (IMO) like it would have to come up: the disparity between their visions for Gondor.
Faramir famously says in TTT, well before meeting Aragorn:
I would see the White Tree in flower again in the courts of the kings, and the Silver Crown return, and Minas Tirith in peace: Minas Anor again as of old, full of light, high and fair, beautiful as a queen among other queens: not a mistress of many slaves, nay, not even a kind mistress of willing slaves. War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Númenor; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man, old and wise.
He would like to have a proper king again (“the Silver Crown return”). But the rest of the quote is about his vision for a then-theoretical renewed Gondor, and repeatedly returns to the point of avoiding domination and fear.
Meanwhile, what actually happens:
All men that had allied themselves with Sauron were slain or subjugated.(POME)
Gondor [was] soon to be of imperial power and prestige… I did not, naturally, go into details about the way in which Aragorn, as King of Gondor, would govern the realm. But it was made clear that there was much fighting and in the earlier years of A.’s reign expeditions against enemies in the East. (Letters)
And wherever King Elessar went with war King Éomer went with him; and beyond the Sea of Rhûn and on the far fields of the South the thunder of the cavalry of the Mark was heard, and the White Horse upon Green flew in many winds until Éomer grew old. (LOTR)
At some point Aragorn “granted mercy and peace” to Mordor’s traditional allies once he became their overlord, which is—well, JRRT’s description of Aragorn’s Gondor as “imperial” seems very accurate.
I’ve wondered for a long time about the reason for the gap between Faramir’s ideal and Aragorn’s reality, and I have some scattered ideas that aren’t really relevant, but in-story: how would Faramir respond? As Steward, he is Aragorn’s chief advisor and regent. Even if what happens looks less stark and more complicated from the inside, even if I squint, it’s hard to see Faramir being 100% rah-rah-rah onboard with all this.
Would he make actual trouble over it? Canonically, it’s hard to see anything very disruptive happening, but at the same time, I don’t see their relationship as always one of perfect harmony. If there ever is major trouble between Faramir and Aragorn, this is certainly where I see it cropping up. But whether that would extend so far as wishing they’d chosen different people …? I’m not sure. Even with all my reservations, it’s hard to see it going that far.
A Perfect Spring Day
Summary: Slice of life of the Fellowship members enjoying the peace directly after the War of the Ring and following Aragorn’s coronation. Boromir lives in the Halls of Mandos. Requested by @warriorbookworm
Just the fellowship(boromir lives, ofc) having fun after the war? Have fun, add fluff, and maybe fellowship reunion? In gondor?
A/N: This was a fun gapfiller to write, Boromir lives far west of Arda. By the book canon, the Fellowship never meet up again together as eight members after reuniting in Gondor at the end of the War of the Ring. My personal headcanon is that Merry and Ioreth would be best friends (and that she is the one who inspires him to write the Herblore of the Shire book).
The warm touch of spring came to Faramir as a blessing upon all blessings. The dark winter brewing in the east had at last relinquished its terror and there was little need now to turn toward the great mountain ranges of Mordor, if only for a little while. A time of peace and celebration. It came to him then that he had never known such a peace in his life, for he had been born in the unhappy years at the waning of Gondor’s power and in all his waking memory the grim forboding of Mordor’s black shadow had hung. Now the fair house of Minas Tirith set to his heart a bloom brighter than any flower of Ithilien and none as beautiful as the golden dawn that sat upon the brow of Éowyn in the morning’s waking hour. Upon the tempered gardens in the Houses of Healing they had walked together and now they had returned, hand in hand. Merry, clad in the green and white livery of Rohan was with them, sat upon the grass beside his lord and lady.
Between his hands, calloused and hardened from the labours of his journey, he absentmindedly turned a young leaf, still green and wet from the night’s frost and plucked prematurely from the fields beyond the walls of Minas Tirith where it grew with wild abandon. He looked with wonder as he beheld the fresh leaf of pipeweed or westmansweed or galena as it was known there and he was silent, as though the many sprinting thoughts and imaginings of his mind were turned elsewhere, placated and seeking some far-fetched place that was beyond Faramir.
The halflings were a hardy and curious folk, Faramir thought to himself. Merry had been loth to leave Theoden-king and it had only been the stout insistence that only kings and stewards had leave to enter Rath Dínen that stopped him from following him to his tomb. In the days thereafter that he spent dwelling in the pensive idleness within the Houses of Healing, he had become fast friends with Ioreth who treated with him as doting siblings are wont to do, and they delighted each other with the ever more exaggerated stories of home in a futile attempt to outdo the other. They found within each other a great kinship, for they were both light of heart and quick tongued and their merry speech filled the halls with the small but resplendent ripples of nostalgia.
“You see, young master Periain, these gardens are only well kempt. I tell you, when I spent my youth in Imloth Melui, the three of us, meaning my sisters and I of course, went tramping around inside the rose bushes. Inside, I tell you! I say, folk will talk, saying you haven’t seen a proper garden at all if word ever gets out of the way you talk about the gardens here! Plain, I call them.” she snorted.
“You must be much mistaken, Lady Ioreth! We halflings live among our gardens and I say that they are both well kempt and beautiful! Our gardens are our pride and joy, and I will say that no garden is fairer than that which has its roots dug deep in Shire earth. It is a shameful waste though, that the westmansweed crop is left without harvest, our folk cultivate it carefully and tend to it like a bairn. It grows everywhere here and to think they are tended only by the grace of the Valar. Perhaps it is the cold air that blows form Lochnarch. Farmers from the Southfarthing would surely weep with joy if they laid eyes on this!” He tutted.
And so Merry’s restful days after the war was lived mostly beside Ioreth in the Houses of Healing, learning from her the arts of herblore and healing when he could not seek for Sam and his cousins. But Ioreth was elsewhere that morning, receiving a fellow kinswoman from Imloth Melui he was told. Pippin was standing guard by the citadel or with Beregond and the Third Company, spinning yarns of his own, green with the enthusiasm of newfound confidence like a fledgling ready to fly the nest. Frodo and Sam were exhausted, spending their days and nights together always, finding comfort in each other from the waking terror that they escaped from in the calmness of sleep whilst Gandalf watched over them.
There was an undeniable change in Frodo, he noted, in the short moments in between the celebration and hearty tales exchanged between the Company. In the blink of an eye, he was himself, his merry cousin whom he had grown to love as a brother and yet sometimes he was a stranger to him, grave, a gaunt gaze, disconnected, living in a world apart from his reality. His burden had been heavy. In those miniscule moments, the distance between them yawned, and in this strange new territory, Merry could understand why but he could not help his cousin, for he did could never know the living nightmare that Frodo had traversed.
Gimli and Legolas had excused themselves earlier to explore the lower circles of the city, giving their assistance to the Men of Gondor in the long labour of repairing the White City. Far below, caught by the wind and carried to their ears, the small party on the lawn could hear the sound of Legolas singing in the strange Elvish tongue.
The rest of the fellowship saw little of Aragorn in the days after his coronation, for though he delayed the breaking of the Fellowship, he himself was caught up in matters of office and negotiations with many of the peoples of Middle Earth. Gandalf was found in unlikely places at unlikely times and came and went from the fair house in which they resided and that day his white robes and soft footfalls were brought to the Houses of Healing.
“Mithrandir!” “Hullo Gandalf!” Faramir rose and the Merry went with him, gladdened by the appearance of their old friend. They were greeted by his laughter, bright and ringing as though the weight of his labours was lifted and they saw the strange glint of ethereal youth in his eyes, eyes whose light beheld the raising of Arda, the birth of mountains and the delving of the great basin that would become the sea.
“A happy day looks upon the White City, my friends! I see you’re enjoying the music from down below, Faramir”. The man towering over the wizard before him looked away, bashful as a child.
“He is much talented, it is the voice I heard long ago in a dream, though I knew not then who it was. The tune is different and here it sings of celebration, yet I heard a song wearied and lonely upon a blistering night breeze”.
“It is lovely,” he hummed “and if it came to you in a vision then it is fairer still. Music has always had your heart, though I think yours has grown fond of much more than that now. Though, I see something else in you which you withhold from me”. His eyes searched and beheld Faramir’s face in a deep thoughtfulness.
A great sadness came washing over Faramir then, as though he had been swept straight into the path of dark waves. Faramir smiled, although his heart grieved. “Alas, for the parting of the one I loved best! I dream often of my brother, both in waking and in troubled sleep he oft appears to me and at times he speaks to me of fair halls and beautiful citadels that he claims I have yet to see. He laughs with a joy that I have not heard from him since we were both children. I saw him, at the coronation of Aragorn standing from afar, and he cheered for him, as he would when he returned from a battle hard won, but no company echoed him. He lives still, though he dwells where I cannot seek him.”
The wind shifted uneasily. Gandalf’s ancient eyes filled with pity and love for his young student.
“You are a wise man, Faramir, and indeed Boromir lives on and his spirit even now is fostered in the West, awaiting the Second Music, and when the time comes, you will be returned to his side and you too will see for yourself the grand halls he speaks of. It is but another pathway which we must all journey through and when you emerge, you will find the veil lifted and a beauty beyond any earthly treasure.”
“But come! Let us speak no more on these dark thoughts, we must enjoy the peace while it lasts, even as Boromir does so now in the Halls of Mandos. The breeze is fair and the sun is warm and,” he eyed Merry playfully, “I think I might just be willing to share some of my pipeweed”.
Leaning his back against the soft moss-covered wall, Gandalf took out his pipe and smoked in amiable silence alongside Merry as he basked under the midmorning sun, listening to the song of Legolas lulling him into a wakeful tranquillity. As the sun rose, Merry dozed and dreamed of home, the fresh westmansweed leaf began to wilt in his hand. Gandalf smiled, blissfully content with his work, a perfect spring day.
Tag Drop; Éowyn of Rohan
Eowyn in Return of the King: extended scene
"Then, Éowyn of Rohan, I say to you that you are beautiful. In the valleys of our hills there are flowers fair and bright, and maidens fairer still; but neither flower nor lady have I seen till now in Gondor so lovely, and so sorrowful."
Title: the act of living
A/N: For lynndyre, for a lotr exchange! I’m not happy about the first two pieces in this fic, but I think the rest came out decently enough. :/ I really liked the prompt of post-canon, of what comes after, and making it bitter but also hopeful.
Despite all the damage to it, Gondor stood strong. It had always done so; years of facing enemy after enemy had weathered it into a resilient place, capable of shaking off injury and keeping a united front. Its people were even more so, their faces as sturdy as the stone that made the city.
This was a comforting thought when directed at their enemies. Less so when it was directed at himself. There were many ways Aragorn thought the people of Gondor would treat him but even the cool indifference of a stranger would have been preferred to the harsh front to an intruder. It was even more apparent when Aragorn rode through the streets, surveying the damage with Faramir and Pippin. As their horses trotted slowly down the winding streets, as they catalogued the various repairs they had to make, Aragorn could feel his people’s eyes on him. For the most part, their gaze was hard, their lips thin, jaw set. The occasional citizen would give him a tentative smile and wave, but the overwhelming feeling was this:
Who are you to rule us?
A fair question, perhaps. It wasn’t like he’d grown up here, it wasn’t like they were expecting the king to return. It wasn’t fair to just push him forward as a king in the middle of a war and expect everything to be fine after. Not that Aragorn was sure what he was expecting; he had never wanted this position in the first place.
“It’s not that bad,” Pippin chirped. Seated in front of Aragorn, he glanced up at him. For a moment, Aragorn thought the hobbit had read his mind. “It’ll take a little muscle and spit, but we’ll clean it all up.”
Ah, that made more sense. His friend had thought his dark mood was over the destruction. However clumsy it was, Aragorn was grateful for Pippin’s kindness and he smiled. “Certainly.”
“The people of Gondor are not one to back away from a challenge,” Faramir said from his right. He sat straight on his horse and while there was still something ghostly about him, he looked proud. “We have weathered attacks before. This will be no different.”
“Really?” Pippin furrowed his brows, disbelief on his face. “You guys have fought orcs and wraiths and all of that?”
“Well, perhaps nothing that bad,” Faramir admitted with a chuckle.
“Thought so.” Pippin snorted derisively. “No way anyone can just rebuild after all that.” He gestured at a pile of rubble nearby, soldiers and local citizens creating a chain as they shifted giant rocks to a wooden cart. “Not without a lot of help.”
“Fortunately the elves are assisting,” Faramir answered, glancing at Aragorn with a wry smile. “They said to consider it a wedding present of sorts.”
Aragorn’s eyes widened slightly. “Arwen.” He glanced at the clean up crew once more. Now that he was paying attention, he could see the odd elf in the group, examining the debris and finding the right rock to move next. The folk regarded the elves warily but begrudging accepted the assistance. “How long have they been here?”
“Over a week.” Faramir smiled wryly. “It was a little odd at first but the people have come around to it now.”
“Have they?” Aragorn glanced at Pippin and thought of Boromir. Of Legolas and Gimli. The oddest of companions that were now the closest of friends. There were things that you could only learn by working next to someone, to watching them toil away with you. He tightened his grip on his reins, pulling his horse to a stop.
“Huh?” Pippin thudded against his chest at the sudden stop. Bemused, he stared up. “See something?”
“More of a realization.” Aragorn slipped off his mount. “I’ll go help out.”
He was never the sort to watch from a distance anyways. Aragorn had gotten this far through hard work. This kingship would be no different.
“Wow.” Merry stared at the garlands strung up around the Meduseld, his eyes wide with wonder.
“Unexpected, isn’t it?” Eowyn chuckled, amused by her companion’s amazement. To be perfectly honest, she had looked the same earlier. It had been too long since flowers lined the halls of her forefathers, since the cold grey had been washed over with warmth of a blaze and good company. The trifecta of loss, a poisonous influence, and war had left her home less than it ought to have been.
Now, finally, it was returned to its former glory.
“Yeah, I didn’t think you guys even had flowers,” Merry chirped, examining a wreath on the wall. There was a long silence and then his ears burned a bright red as he realized what he’d said. Turning around, fidgeted nervously. “Not that that’s a bad thing—it looked very noble before—we just have a lot of flowers—”
Eowyn laughed, cutting him off as he cycled through excuses. “No, no, it is understandable. We haven’t had flowers in here for a long time.”
“Oh.” Feeling relieved, Merry smoothened down his shirt with a pleased smile. “It looks good.”
“We’re celebrating our harvest and the end of the war, so I thought we could brighten the place.” Eowyn gestured at the torches that lit up every few metres, ensuring that no darkness pervaded her home. It felt a lot more like it did when she was younger, when her brother used to chase her through these halls and her uncle…
She paused at the thought. He would have liked how it looked, praised her with his gentle smile and kind words.
Eowyn wished she could have seen it. That he could have seen this. Loss, she found, sprung up in the most unexpected of places and every time it took her breath away.
Unaware of her shifting emotions, Merry replied, “So this isn’t everyday? We have flowers everywhere at home, so it’s strange to find places without it.”
He was smiling up at her, bright and unassuming, and Eowyn shook herself out of her thoughts. Her uncle wouldn’t want her to linger, the way he had lingered over her cousin’s death. The best way to honour him was to keep moving forward. Looking down, Eowyn asked “Is that so? I have never seen that many flowers.”
“Well, not everywhere everywhere—definitely not on the toilets cause that’s weird but everywhere else.” Merry stroked his chin thoughtfully. “And maybe not on the paths. The proper ones, that is—the ones that we aren’t supposed to take are chock full of weeds.”
“The ones that get you in trouble?” Eowyn teased, having heard plenty of stories about angry farmers and vegetables.
“It’s only trouble if you get caught!” Merry retorted, crossing his arms. “And I almost never get caught.”
“Hmm, I wonder about that.” Eowyn chuckled. Every description Merry gave of his homeland gave a warm impression. It sounded like place that would produce such wonderful hobbits, such wonderful heroes. “Perhaps I should see for myself?”
Even Farmer Maggot sounded fun to meet. Especially since she wouldn’t be robbing him.
“I did not expect you to come all the way here,” Thrandruil drawled, each word carefully articulated as though each one was a jab from one of his guard’s spears. Walking through a well-maintained path in Mirkwood, his gaze was ever upward, giving one the impression he was barely paying attention to his companion.
Celeborn knew better than to fall for that. Thrandruil was always alert to his surroundings, however he might act, and it would take one wrong word, one false step to be barred from returning to the forest elves’ realm. “I heard the forest had cleared and thought it was a good time to visit.”
That wasn’t a lie—the forest was brighter than it had been in centuries. The spiders were finished, their webs burned through, and starlight once more graced the elves as they frolicked in the night. Mirkwood was beautiful again.
“It has,” Thranduil admitted with a regal nod of his head. His brow furrowed and scornfully he added, “Though it is the age of man, so who knows how long this shall last.”
“So many elves have departed these days,” Celeborn sighed. “Lothlórien feels emptier these days, as does Rivendell.”
“As expected. They were never tied to the land like we are,” Thrandruil spit out, contemptuous. “I am only surprised they didn’t leave earlier.”
He should have expected that remark. Despite the time that had passed, Thrandruil’s pride was infamous and it seemed nothing could change that. “You aren’t going to answer the call?”
“One day, maybe.” Thrandriul shrugged dismissively. “Perhaps when my son is tired of playing with dwarves and the sea. Until then, this is my kingdom and I will not abandon it while it still stands.”
“As expected.” Celeborn chuckled. “Galadriel is also considering leaving.”
“And you?” Thrandruil looked at him now, his brow raised curiously. “What will you do?”
“I will join her.” Celeborn clasped his hands behind him, looking up at the starlight through the trees. It glinted off nearby goblets and here still the sound laughter and life existed. “But not for some time. Lothlórien has lost its shine and diminished. Rivendell is a tomb.” He glanced at Thrandruil. “Is there room for another here?”
“You look worn, old friend.” Elrond didn’t look up as Gandalf stood next to him. Despite the physical changes underwent, his voice remained ever the same, as did the comfort in his presence. “What troubles you?”
“Things that are beyond my control.” Elrond sighed. Standing on a terrace, he watched from a distance as his daughter read a book on a bench. How much longer would he be able to witness that sight? How much longer could he just simply open his mouth and call her?
“Ah.” Gandalf studied her for a long moment before shaking his head. “You made your choice long ago. And though you do not want to admit it, so had she.”
“I should have realized it the moment they met.” Elrond frowned, closing his eyes. “I had hoped otherwise. Her path will be a painful one, a long one, and there will be no one to comfort her in the end.”
“You are not staying then?” Gandalf asked, his brow raised.
“No, I do not think I can bear to see her hair grow white. And I do not want my sons to change their mind because of their love for the Dúnedain. Besides, already the world is changing.” Elrond smiled wistfully. “There is no room for our kind anymore. It is better to accept it and leave now.” Before their images of the world was tarnished, before he could see the old places wrought with ruin. He had seen what man made, what man could do, and while there were great creations, there were more often than not ruinous. Only the dwarves could match them for greed.
“Then fret not.” Gandalf squeezed his shoulder. “There are others here to comfort her. Thrandruil—” Elrond snorted. “—I know you do not like him, but he and Celeborn will still be here when her time comes. She will not go alone, forgotten and unloved.”
Elrond glanced at Gandalf. “And you?”
“Perhaps.” Gandalf only smiled mysteriously. “I cannot say where I will be or not in the years to come.”
“Father!” Before Elrond could question him further, Arwen waved to him, a smile on her face.
There would be plenty of time to interrogate a dodgy wizard in the future. For now, he wanted to soak in every moment with Arwen he could. There would be so few of them and his years too long after.
It was strange how empty the Baggins’ home was. Samwise had taken care of it for years and had helped his father for it even longer. It had been customary to find white-haired Bilbo in the gardens, writing the next page of his manuscript. Or Frodo puttering about, laughing about the latest prank Merry and Pippin had pulled.
Now the gardens ran wild, left unattended during their mission. That was something Sam could fix. Something he would fix.
Something he couldn’t do anything about was how silent the rooms inside were. No fire crackled in the hearth, inviting one to rest their feet and stay a spell. There was no welcoming greeting when the door opened, no soft swear from trying to open a too tight jar of walnuts. Just complete and utter silence.
Sam stood at the foyer, not sure if he should go further in or not. It had been one thing when Frodo had left him the key to the place, another thing entirely to use it. He could just sell it but Frodo’s history, his own history was too deeply tied to it.
What to do?
What to do?
Sam took a deep breath. The air smelled musty from disuse. Frodo wasn’t here anymore. He was across the sea with the elves. A place Sam could go, if he wanted to. Another decision he wasn’t ready to make. Pulling out the key, he quickly slipped out of the hole and locked it behind him.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow he’d figure out what he wanted to do with this place. To do with himself.
Today Rosie was at the pub and Merry and Pippin would be back from their travels and he could just soak in the act of living.
I’m too lazy to rewrite this so have a copypasta of my convo with @twilightblossom about Arda’s terrifying sOUTH POLE
artemesius: listen there's the southern continent basically at the south pole yet to scream about
artemesius: bECAUSE SUPPOSEDLY THAT'S WHERE UNGOLIANT THE FUCKING SUN EATER WENT
artemesius: for reals if just a single flower and a single fruit from the two trees is enough to light up the entire frickin world how bright must the trees themselves have been
Kittybrimbor: Super fucking bright my dude
artemesius: more than powerful enough for feanor to siphon energy into his three emo disco balls that are still glowing even from space man
artemesius: ungoliant drained those fuckers dry in a matter of minutes and was still hungry
artemesius: she's a literal black hole
Kittybrimbor: That’s definitely a good way to put it
Kittybrimbor: She also wanted the Emo Disco Balls as a snacc I guess
artemesius: and even if she died on the southernmost continent just her presence alone was enough to literally shroud the whole place in eternal darkness so deep not even the spoiled younger sibling numenorians who normally have their fingers in ALL the pies wanted to stick around
artemesius: they stayed long enough to call it the darklands and LEFT FOR THE HILLS
Kittybrimbor: They either left because this bitch is haunted
Kittybrimbor: Or because you heard the hungered moanings of a sun eating beast
artemesius: oh it's both
artemesius: see ungoliant may be dead but she had babies
artemesius: looooooooots and lots and lots of babies
artemesius: shelob is proof but she's like a distant great granddaughter
Kittybrimbor: why did it have to be follow the spiders? Why couldn't it have been follow the butterflies?
artemesius: the direct descendants live in the south
artemesius: can you imagine a void filled sun eating butterfly? no thanks i have enough nightmares as is
artemesius: I got worse news tho because shelob's existence in gondor means the spiders can cross oceans
Kittybrimbor: LIKE A VOID EATING SPIDER ISN’T WORSE
artemesius: they can't fly
Kittybrimbor: Okay fair
Kittybrimbor: But apparently they can cross water
Kittybrimbor: i mean Shelob makes sense though if people have been to the darklands
Kittybrimbor: Spiders came over on the ships that went back
Kittybrimbor: Like they normally would with anything.
artemesius: also the southernmost jungles- which would have to have a climate like peru because it's next to the south fuckin pole- apparently have the presence of troll like humanoids and you guessed it more voidlike goodiegoodies running around
Kittybrimbor: What. The. Fuck. Tolkien.
artemesius: whatever the hell was on that continent mutated and multiplied
artemesius: probably thank the haradrim and local megafauna for keeping that shit from spreading northward
Kittybrimbor: Um yea. Defo
Kittybrimbor: So does Dusk tell ghost stories about this shit?
artemesius: are you kidding dusk probably had a close encounter with them
Kittybrimbor: I feel like that was a given
artemesius: his family tried to accommodate his eyes so yeah they went south south on a couple trade routes
artemesius: hell they might have been born in the deep south and fled because it was spreading
artemesius: which might explain why dusk's subconsciously trying to go As North As Possible
Kittybrimbor: That would make a lot of sense actually
Kittybrimbor: He should stay out of Mirkwood though
artemesius: oh mirkwood is probably tame in comparison
@gloryofgondor plotted thread
Celebrations were high in Gondor, they always tried to keep parties and some festivities going for both the court and the people. Evienne was in attendance along with her father, Lord Angbor of Lamedon. Evienne was a beautiful young woman, tall, slender figure with fair skin, brunette hair and warm brown eyes. She was a shield maiden of Lamedon once her father became more crippled in his older age she had taken it upon herself to train in both swordsman ship and archery.
The pillars were decorated with beautiful white and pink flowers vines around the stone. Music played in the courtyard both of flute fiddle and drums. The sounds of chatter and laughter filling her ears. She wore a long dress that was a beige colour and embellished were jewels and various silk patterned stitching. "Would you like to dance?" Evienne questioned Boromir giving him a bright smile. She had known him for years, met when they were barely past the age of 10 and had been close ever since.
He looked at her, and being a man whom pity deeply stirred, it seemed to him that her loveliness amid her grief would pierce his heart. And she looked at him and saw the grave tenderness in his eyes, and yet knew, for she was bred among men of war, that here was one who no Rider of the Mark would outmatch in battle.
She guessed that this tall man, both stern and gentle, might think her wayward, like a child that has not the firmness of mind to go on with a dull task to the end.
She did not answer, but as he looked to her it seemed to him that something in her softened, as though a bitter frost were yielding at the faint first passage of Spring. A tear sprang in her eye and fell down her cheek, like a glistening rain-drop. Her proud head drooped a little. Then quietly, more as if speaking to herself than to him: “But the healers would have me lie abed seven more days yet,” she said, “And my window does not look eastward.” Her voice was now that of a maiden young and sad.
Faramir smiled, though his heart was filled with pity. “Your window does not look eastward?” he said. “That can be amended.(..)”
“Then Éowyn of Rohan, I say to you that you are beautiful. In the valleys of our hills there are flowers fair and bright, and maidens fairer still: but neither flower nor lady have I seen till now in Gondor so lovely, and so sorrowful. It may be that only a few days are left ere darkness falls upon our world, and when it comes I hope to face it steadily: but it would ease my heart if, while the Sun yet shines, I could see you still. For you and I have both passed under the wings of the Shadow and the same hand drew us back.”
GET A CUTER FIRST MEETING I FUCKING DARE YOU.
Ship: Samwise Gamgee x Frodo Baggins
Tags: tooth rotting fluff, sam wants kids, Frodo talks in his sleep, post-quest fix it fic, slight pining.
Description: Sam wonders why he doesn’t feel right having a traditional family.
It was a bright, sunny day in the shire. Spring had brought the flowers to bloom and the grass to feel cool and sweet beneath the feet of the hobbits who inhabited the little land.
Beneath an old oak looking over the rolling hills surrounding bag end lay a peculiar hobbit.
Not of the sort of cheerful folk who walked pushing their barrows to and fro from the market to their cozy smials, but one with a creased brow from countless days of worry and a tired, almost upset look in his pale eyes.
For indeed Frodo Baggins had seen more of the outside than the average hobbit had the mind to. Scars from a chain weighted with an unfathomable burden lay on his breast. A cold wound like a freezing burn still ached on his shoulder.
His small body was worn, for all the healing that had been done simply could not erase the brokenness his journey had caused.
“Ah, here we are Mr. Frodo. I've made summat special this morn for tea. Chamomile and honey, some apple butter gifted last fall by the Took family.” The other hobbit bent to join him on the grass with a sheepish smile, “ And I tried my hand at making some of Mr. Bilbo’s cinnamon scones, hopefully they turned out as good as I'd hoped.”
Frodo rose slightly to grab one of the lovingly prepared, if not misshapen pastries.
“Dear Sam I have told you time and again to address me as Frodo. Nor mister or master, you are no longer a servant. However I thank you kindly for thinking of me, you needn't have gotten up so early and tended to tea. Honestly, you think of everyone but yourself and you know just as well as I that we are both in need of rest.”
He was right, despite the weight he had gained back and the cheery smile which had greeted him. Behind it all there was a definite exhaustion surrounding his friend.
Trusted, faithful Samwise, Frodo thought to himself. If ever he were to settle at bag end with another they would have to be comparable to his dear friend. Not that he ever intended to. For no lass in the shire could bring warmth into his often hollow chest, sense his unpredictable and often times un-gentlehobbitly like mood, and ask nothing in return quite like the gardener of bag end.
As he enjoyed the pleasantries of Sam’s company and the sweet, rejuvenating food the two recollected fond memories as if they were dreams only faintly remembered after deep sleep.
Bilbo’s 111th birthday party, marvelous fireworks and all. The peaceful summers which came after in which Frodo had taken up as the young master of the smial, carefully watching Sam out in the garden. Of the times he had brought out some ancient Sindarin book through which they could puzzle out meaning with their combined knowledge of the elvish language.
It was not long before Frodo realized he had kept on in his dreamlike state and gone back to thinking about Sam. It seemed these days that every pondered road in his mind eventually brought him back to his friend.
Not sure of the meaning he shook himself to reality.
A fondness was what it was, he was simply fond of Sam.
How could he not be? They shared an undeniable bond. Sam had gone without during their days of hunger, braved roiling waters, and even carried him when the weight of the cursed object was to much to bear. In all respects he was loved as family, loved closer than a friend. There was no word which came to mind to describe the feeling woven so deeply in Frodo’s heart for his gardener so fondness it was.
“Sam,” he asked, butterflies starting to form in his stomach. “I was wondering...what will you do now, I mean now that our journey is over?”
Sam took a thoughtful sip of his tea and looked into the distance as if studying something far away.
“I suppose I’ll be tending to the garden as I always have, no reason to let such a splendid thing go to waste.”
Frodo cracked a smile and laughed.
“Of course you will. But beyond the smial? What will you do with yourself Samwise? You’ve a long life ahead and surely you must fill it with more than gardening. What about..” Frodo’s throat suddenly tightened without he himself quite knowing why,
“About Rosie Cotton, you once told me that you dreamed of settling with her?”
Sam piled the tea tray with the leftovers, cheeks turning unmistakably pink as he did so.
“Aye, I did. Or at least I thought so. We’ve been so free with our time lately I’ve been doing a lot o thinkin’. Too much I reckon. The more I think about Rosie, the less I’m thinkin’ about her. Which don’t quite make sense I suppose.”
“No I don’t suppose it does.” Concern filled Frodo, he wished dearly for his friend to be happy after all they had gone through and the thought that Sam was conflicted reminded him of poor Bilbo. He wished very much that Sam wouldn’t find his heart elsewhere and live properly happy in the shire.
“What about your thoughts is troubling you, if I may ask?”
Sam’s eyes shut and he leaned back into the grass as if reaching deep inside himself for an answer that might sound more clear.
“Well Mr. Fr-erm I mean Frodo. It seems fine to think about at first. A house full of bustling babes and a caring, fine lady like Ms. Cotton.”
Sam paused again to think, “However, sometimes I wonder… is it really her that I’m looking for? Begging your pardon if it sounds selfish sir, but I think perhaps it might just be the family I’m missin’. Almost like I can’t wait to have a family of me own. No mistake I’d choose Rosie over any lass in the shire, but I wouldn’t if I could make my own little hobbits without her or any other so to speak.”
Unable to contain himself any longer Frodo tore a handful of grass from his side and watched as it fell gently on his friend’s head, then burst into an unrestrained fit of giggling. He watched as said friend went from pink to a darker shade of red.
“You silly hobbit!” He exclaimed, “You want to be a pa! Without a lass? You sound like Bilbo dear Samwise! I’m sorry I shouldn’t poke fun, but do you intend to be married?”
“Of course married!” Sam huffed indignantly, “Just not to any lass in the shire! I mean if I had to pick I would pick Rosie,”
“Then perhaps another lass?” Frodo’s teasing was starting to become insufferable. “Tell me sam, would you have an elf? Perhaps a fair woman of Gondor? Even a dwarf?”
Frodo immediately regretted such a bold jab when he saw the gardener frown and cast his eyes to the ground, clearly deeply upset.
“No,” he half whined, half whispered. “A hobbit.”
“A hobbit, but just not anyone from the shire. Everyone knows everyone else around here, but truthfully I can’t see meself’ settling with anyone here, if you catch my meaning.”
Frodo, looking puzzled, clasped his hand on his friend’s shoulder.
“I can’t say that I do, but we will think on it together.” He paused, “So you want a family, and a hobbit lass to settle down with, but no one in the shire strikes your fancy?… Samwise you are a riddle of a lad.”
A soft wind began rustling the leaves on the tree above the two, sweet scents from the garden began to waft in their direction and birdsong had ceased. Frodo yawned unnecessarily loudly and rolled to his belly. He hardly felt the tickle of the turf on his cheeks as began to feel himself doze a little in the pleasant damp of the lawn.
In fact he was on the edge of sleep when thought he felt strong hands around the crook of his legs and back. He settled into the floating feeling, It must be the wind that made him feel as if he was suspended above the ground.
In the briefest moment he thought he caught the sight of golden curls bouncing above him. Someone was looking down at him with tender eyes and soft smile about their lips.
He was sure now that he had fallen asleep, for he recognized the face as his beloved gardener. His hands felt light, drawn toward the figure above. He reached out and cupped sam’s cheek. It felt rough from spending time in the blazing sun.
Sam leaned into the touch and his eyelids fluttered. At this point there was no doubt in Frodo’s mind that he was deeply asleep.
Rationally it was not the wisest of ideas however easy it would be to brush off his talk as rambling. Without the common sense of an alert mind he dared now to call out to his friend.
“Beautiful Samwise who is always at my side when I need him. How I adore you so. How I wish you knew…” He was sad to remember that only in dreams could he express the unexplainable feelings in his small chest to Sam. However it was such a welcome outlet that he continued.
“ Bright as the summer sun, and sweet like the first harvest of fall apples. Strong and diligent in duty. Enviously handsome. My heart beats only for you…”
Frodo awoke to a savory smell. He was a little perturbed to find fresh linen about him and a plush pillow underneath his head. Perhaps Sam had carried him to his room after all? He dearly wished not. Although it was not a habit of his to speak whilst sleeping the thought that occurred to him made his body feel frozen and prickly.
Of course it had to be a flight of fancy. Even as a child he had been a quiet sleeper. It was not possible in any conceivable way that any of his thoughts had become audible. This soothed him in the slightest, allowing Frodo to slip from the bed out of his nightshirt and into proper clothes. That was probably Sam’s doing too…
At last he conceded that the only way to be sure of what had actually happened was to go about the rest of the day in his normal fashion and watch for anything peculiar.
And peculiar his day was going to be for as soon as he stepped into the kitchen to see the short figure in dusty brown overalls he heard a distinct clatter as if a cooking utensil had been dropped.
The other hobbit continued to chop the carrots on the counter, his movements getting quicker with each step Frodo took into the room.
“So you’re finally awake then?” A pause like the quiet after a thunderclap echoing behind the words. Frodo already knew what Sam was going to say before he spoke.
“ I never knowed you talked in your sleep sir.” The voice tried to sound casual but the crack in the middle gave away his nervousness.
My god, Frodo thought. He’s heard, he’s heard everything and now he thinks I’m repulsive. He won’t come back after finishing his cooking, tomorrow his father will be up here to inform me that his family no longer wants to have anything to do with the Bagginses. I am a fool, a disgusting fool who should not even dream of being closer to Sam.
Frodo’s mouth was so dry he couldn’t even answer, his throat swelled and he fought viciously to keep tears from his eyes. He wheezed the only reply that would come out of him.
“You’ve done enough today, perhaps you should go home Sam.” Yes, home and as far away as possible from me.
The chopping stopped and Sam turned, body facing Frodo but looking away as if something down the hall was interesting him greatly. The other hobbit wanted to roll into a ball underneath his bedsheets, why had he left his room at all?
A sniffling sound caught his attention. Sam’s eyes hid behind his hair but by the tears dripping down his face Frodo could tell he was Very upset. No longer able to hold in his own feelings the other began sobbing into his hands.
Nothing would be the same again, now that Sam knew.
He waited for the words to come. Vile, horrendous, repulsive. Those were what he felt in his heart.
The sniffing got closer but Frodo couldn’t force himself to take his palms from his eyes. Was Sam so truly upset that he should think of something like hitting him? No, Sam was too kind, too gentle to harm any form of life.
Instead of a smack Frodo felt his right hand gently pulled away by warm, calloused fingers. He could see his friend frighteningly clear now. His hazel eyes deep with overwhelming thought and tears still falling down his flushed cheeks.
“Begging your pardon…” Sam hiccuped, “ Mister Frodo...Blast it! Frodo, would you mind if we had lunch in the living room today?”
He simply nodded in reply fearing the shameful whimpering that may have escaped instead.
At this Sam visibly relaxed, eyes brightening a little. He wiped his eyes and nose across his sleeve. Hurriedly he set about piling together the tray of cold meats, vegetable soup, cheese, crackers and tart jam that was intended to be their lunch. Sam was in and out of the room like a bee at work in a patch of wildflowers. Soon enough Frodo could hear fire crackling in the hearth and the clink of Bilbo’s silver mugs as each was filled with light ale.
Nervously the young master made his way to the next room and then threw himself down on the plush armchair where he often sat to read. This time he quite wished that he could see nothing entirely so he buried himself among the pillows and the old throw blanket on which he was sitting.
Sam came back to quite the sight. Two pale blue eyes, puffy and red about their edges, peeking from beneath a mountain of fabric. Sam didn’t look much better but he had refused to hide like a swatted pup. Seeing his master so afraid hurt indefinitely more than whatever had brought him to tears and he was desperate to clear the look of fear from his eyes.
“It’s ok.” Sam said gently, “ You ain’t hurt no one and I ain’t mad.”
A nose appeared from under the bundle, followed by the rest of Frodo’s head.
“How much have you heard?” His voice trembled audibly.
“Now hold your horses, I asked you if you would eat with me so you could hear me out and help me. What I have or haven’t heard isn’t the topic of conversation. If we started there I fear I should become biased when trying to tell you this darned tangled thought.”
Sam sat near the fire and exhaled to expel hesitation from himself. After offering Frodo food from the tray and making sure he was sipping at least enough of the ale to feel less trapped like a hunted rabbit he judged that it was a good time to restart.
“I’ve had more time to think since this morning, about having a family. I’ve however not been thinking about any sleepy ramblings you’ve been doing.” Sam looked a bit sleepy himself as he lapsed into memory.
“I never noticed the surroundings when thinking about the family I wish for. I’d only thought to notice how happy I was imagining telling your stories to a little hobbit lass sitting on my knee or playing near the garden.
I tried very hard to see what else lie in my daydream. Where I was, who was with me. It weren’t no use. Then I’d noticed you fell asleep sir and well I couldn’t just leave you to lie outside. Seeing you so relaxed put my heart at ease and I was smiling like some dopey tween asked to their first dance. It made me think how glad I was that you’re healing. Maybe you aren’t healed completely, but every little bit feels like a victory for me. Then you looked up.”
Frodo, lightened by the alcohol and the pleased tone of his friend’s voice but not enough so to shed the old blanket, rose and sat next to him inquisitively. Sam let him get settled so as not to rush anything important he needed to say.
“I looked up and?” Frodo’s sniffled.
“And, I knew the answer to my problem. It was like someone had taken my noggin and set it so I was seeing straight again. You looked up and I felt my daydream flash through my mind crystal clear. Me and the young one at bag end. Digging in the garden, rolling down the hill, racing to the door for elevensies. Cold winters sipping cider by the fire, just me and my beautiful family.
Celebrating Yule, watching the summer fireflies together while the babe was tucked up in bed.
Always I would look up to Bag End and sitting on the bench beneath the trees smiling bright as I ever seen one smile, there was you.”
He smiled bashfully, wringing his hands and looking away. Sam knew in his heart why he fancied no lass in the Shire, he knew and as was his nature he’d been honest as best as words could convey. Even if Frodo felt nothing more than a familial bond with him it was enough. Love for the sake of love filled his heart in a way that he should be content no matter the outcome. He had said his piece and was no longer afraid.
Frodo was caught unawares and tongue tied in the worst possible moment. Sam had heard him and refused to take his sleepy ramblings as a confession. He had waited patiently until Frodo could truly confirm the words he spoke. Understanding clocked him over the head like a brick. Sam hadn’t been crying over what he said, he’d been crying about finally resolving a question that had been eating away at him for longer than he had guessed. The great weight lifted off of his shoulders was such a relief that even stout hearted Samwise wept with relief. Still, he didn’t want to assume wrongly, even if he had guessed right. The only way to know was to ask.
“Sam, why were you crying in the kitchen earlier? I was afraid I upset you terribly by some things I might have said. But you found a reason to stay, which didn’t make sense to me at the time.”
“Why never,” a boldness came about the gardener, whether to comfort his friend or express his feelings was beyond Frodo’s guess.
Sam reached out and clasped his hand gently, the sudden contact almost made the young master pull away but Sam’s sturdy reassuring grip calmed him.
“I thought you’d think me a delusional ninnyhammer when I told you that I had figured out what I was missing. But to understand and feel wonderful love that I had not understood before left me right confused.”
Frodo was in definite danger of falling into tears once more. His eyes stung and his heart beat wildly. He did the only thing his body would allow him to.
Throwing the blanket from himself he lept forward into Sam’s arms and buried his heat against his chest. Sam smelled like grass clippings, tulips, sunlight, and all that was beautiful in the world. He was warm and comforting and Frodo could feel the tattoo of his heart against him. Sam pulled him in close and wrapped his arms about the other hobbit.
“If I have said as I think I have, It is true. Oh Samwise, dear Sam, I mean every word with my whole heart. You are brave and faithful, kind and generous. More beautiful than the halls of Lothlorien and more precious than the mithril of the lonely mountain. Sweet as the air after spring rain. I am not simply fond of you Samwise Gamgee, I adore you with all that I am. I apologize for waxing poetic but I just cannot seem to stop myself.”
As easily as if he had done the action a thousand times over Sam lifted Frodo’s face and kissed him gently. There was no over eagerness in either hobbit. Both treated the other as if they would break at the slightest pressure. It was chaste and full of endearment more intimate than any other profession of love one could imagine. In that time they exchanged their hearts, saying all that could not be said in all the languages among middle earth.
It was Sam who finally broke the kiss.
“I’ve always loved your poetry my dear Frodo.”
Where those returning are not the same as those who left
The most pertinent theme in ‘Homeward Bound’ is change, both to for the worse and for the better. And while ‘Many Partings’ was oblique in its ominous references, this chapter is far less subtle.
It takes on an ominous start on the sixth of October -- precisely one year since Weathertop, with the realization of Frodo’s fears: that his wound is of a kind that will not fully heal, and he may not find the rest he desires in the Shire, for the ‘memory of there or grass or flower’ that he lamented the loss of on the pitiless plains of Gorgoroth (‘Mount Doom’) will not be there for him to relive, for Frodo himself is irrevocably altered by his journey and his burden.
But perhaps the land itself won’t be the same, either. As much is hinted by the atmosphere in Bree: the village feels closed off, wary and on its guard -- and there’s even no decent pipeweed to be had; another nod towards Saruman’s mysterious private barrels of Longbottom Leaf.
Now, when Frodo and his companions first came to Bree (‘At the Sign of the Prancing Pony’), the place seemed to them somewhat strange, even unpleasant, especially so to Sam. This time, however, the apprehension is directed towards the hobbits themselves, by both the robbers of Breeland and the villagers themselves, as old Butterbur puts it: ‘-- it’s no wonder they left you alone. They wouldn’t go for armed folk, [- - -] And I must say it put me aback a bit when I saw you.’
But it’s not that the Breefolk have radically changed their attitudes, but rather that Frodo and his companions have
become so used to warfare and to riding in well-arrayed companies that they had quite forgotten that the bright mail peeping from under their cloaks, and the helms of Gondor and the Mark, and the fair devices on their shields, would seem outlandish in their own country.
Even Gandalf’s apparent dismissal (‘if they are afraid of just five of us, then we have met worse enemies on our travels’) only serves to further illustrate the character growth that’s now brought into sudden focus. Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin are more than ready to deal with any troubles they might yet face. And while I know Tolkien's stance on allegory, I can't help thinking of young soldiers returning from the horrors of WWI, suddenly faced with the realization of how changed they appear in the eyes of those left behind.
Keeping that in mind, I think I must side with Merry rather than Frodo here:
‘Well here we are, just the four of us that started out together,’ said Merry. ‘We have left all the rest behind, one after another. It seems almost like a dream that has slowly faded.’
‘Not to me,’ said Frodo. ‘To me it feels more like falling asleep again.’
Because what they are about to ride towards is not a nightmare, but an ugly reality that will not allow Frodo the rest he craves. There's yet a task for him to do, a trouble for him to face, but as ever, he's not alone.
Arwen falls in love when she is just ten years old, with the gardens of her father’s home. She likes the smells and the flowers and brushing her hand against the petals’ silk-soft flesh.
But autumn comes to Rivendell and with it, the gardens wilt, and the flowers fall dead at her feet until she cries under the withering trees.
“Galad,” her mother says, wiping the tears from Arwen’s cheeks like they pain her. “Why are you sad?”
“I do not want them to die,” Arwen says, cradling what is left of her first love; half-hearted blooms crumbling in her hands.
“Ah,” Celebrian hums, a melodic sympathy. “What a tragedy it is, to love what does not last. How fortunate that you and I will live forever.”
But what good is living, Arwen thinks, if it causes this much pain?
Her brothers bring her yellow flowers from Lothlórien, which do not die even as they rest on her window sill for many years, but it is not the same. She knows now, what loss tastes like, and so she is not the same, either.
Arwen falls in love again when she is two hundred, in the midst of adolescence, heart overflowing with a song she cannot name. She is in Lórien with her mother and her mother’s mother, and her grandmother’s guard Eregwen.
Eregwen is silver-haired with stern eyes that feel like frost on Arwen’s skin whenever they catch her. She is tall and strong and can shoot three arrows one through the other in the time it takes to blink.
“She is also old enough to be your mother,” Elladan laughs, plucking a golden apple from the tree above their heads.
“Or grandmother,” Elrohir adds, always quick to join in teasing her.
Arwen glares at them both. “What do you two know about love, anyway?” Her brothers have had no great loves of their own, more interested in things like war and glory, fingers inching towards their swords even in their sleep.
When she confesses her love to Eregwen and gives her the bracelet she’s made from a lock of her hair, a token of her affection, the guard accepts it, as graceful and stoic as always, and her refusal is not unkind.
And when Eregwen dies later that same decade in a skirmish with some orcs, Arwen weeps bitterly into her bed sheets though she hasn’t thought of the guard in some years.
Even immortal things are unsafe, she’s learning. There is no soft place to rest her love so that it may not break.
Arwen falls in and out of love enough times in her life to lose track. For she has such a very long life, and time is a difficult thing for immortals to keep track of. It moves differently for them, sometimes stretching languidly in a century that feels like one honey-sweet summer, and sometimes falling over itself in a jumbled up rush.
She is closer to three thousand years old than not by the time she meets the boy called Hope, the false son her father brought home to Rivendell for safe-keeping, as if he was some rich trinket rather than a child.
Estel is seven years old when he meets her, and of course Arwen has heard of him, quick fond mentions in her brothers’ letters, between talks of weather to avoid talks of war. But her brothers do not write very often, and Arwen has let time run over her in Lórien, like water over stone. She is surprised to see the seasons have changed.
She finds the boy sitting in the gardens she loved best as a child, in almost the exact same spot. She kneels down so they are at a level, and she studies the flower he’s cupping gingerly with both hands.
“It’s beautiful,” she offers, and he blinks up at her, all soft gray eyes, and it has been so long since she’s seen someone so young and bright and hopeful, still in the early spring of his life.
“I do not want it to die,” he says, and she smiles, can’t help it, can’t help the affection that swells up in her heart.
“Not everything lasts,” she tells him, “and so sometimes it’s best to just enjoy the time you have together before it’s time to say goodbye.”
Arwen spends the next few years in quick succession, almost always with Estel. She indulges him in all things, and he is easy to indulge, interested in the world around him but above all, he is kind. He likes to take her hand when she goes quiet, and lead her through Rivendell as if on a quest. He fancies himself an elf, like you, elin! and her own personal knight, beyond that.
Everyone find it hilarious, of course; little Estel tugging the immortal evenstar along wherever he goes. The princess of Rivendell doting on a human boy, more so even than his birth mother.
Arwen hums a lullaby, stroking Estel’s hair while he lays half sprawled on top of her as she reads. He’s mostly asleep but still clinging stubbornly to consciousness the way children sometimes do.
“I’ll never love anyone better than you, elin,” he sighs, and Arwen hugs him a little closer.
Her father calls for her soon after that.
“I am worried,” he says, grave, as he often is. Arwen cannot picture her father without a frown anchoring the corners of his mouth. Caring so much has made him hard, shaping him like stone. “I know you care for him, as do I, but he is still mortal and we both know you have a tendency to grow overly attached to things that do not last.”
He does not mean to be callous, she knows, but his words still sow a bitter seed inside her, all the more because he’s right. When will she be allowed to keep what she loves?
She goes back to Lórien the next morning.
Time passes strangely in her grandmother’s forest, so that Arwen blinks and ten years go by, and time sees her back at Rivendell.
“Elin,” a voice calls, and she is already smiling before she looks up, because she knows exactly who it is, even if his voice is deeper.
He has aged, and Arwen knew that men aged but it’s so much different, seeing it this close. He has a new name, and a beard, and he’s grown taller and broader though he is still quite lean.
But he is still just as bright-faced and hopeful, with the same soft eyes, and he will always be Estel to her.
They have written, a little, in their time apart. He’s sent her what he’s learned of Sindarin and Quenya, and she’s sent scraps of old songs that her mother used to sing her. It isn’t enough that Arwen feels like she knows everything that she’s missed, but it is enough that they are not strangers, it is enough for them to fall into step with each other once again.
Aragorn is now twenty, still young for his race, and now he flushes whenever she smiles at him, and he looks away when she touches his arm. Arwen remembers this age, remembers Eregwen, and she turns him down gently, satisfied that, as with her adolescent love for the guard, Aragorn’s own crush will pass and they will fall back into the relationship they had before.
He decides to go study with the rangers in the north, to travel the world, uninterested in his birthright, and Arwen meets him in their garden to say goodbye.
“Will you miss me?” she asks, teasing, but Aragorn is serious when he says “More than anyone.”
Arwen expected to miss him, but she didn’t expect to miss him quite so much. She did not expect to feel the absence of him like a bruise, a subtle ache to remind her that it’s there.
They still write, between his battles in Gondor and Rohan, her trips to Lórien and Rivendell. It is not often, and it is not enough, but it is something. In his letters, she sees him grow up. His thoughts change from lofty and innocent to weary and contemplative. He sends her poetry that he manages to read in his spare time, lines that he says remind him of her, words that make her cry for no reason at all other than how much she loves them. He tells her about what he’s learning from the rangers; which herbs can heal poisoned wounds and which ones can kill from one chew.
He writes I know you probably know all of this already, but some of us do not have an eternity to study. and she laughs so hard she cries, and then she sobs because it just isn’t fair, that she should love someone this much, when his life is so fleeting.
Because it is, it is. There is no life as fleeting as a man’s, not even a flower’s or a firefly’s, because men practically run out looking for their deaths. Whether by sword or poisonous herb or fever, men prove themselves breakable over and over again. Arwen only has one death, which she can take or leave at her leisure, but Aragorn has hundreds. He’d might as well be made of the same paper as all his letters.
She keeps all his letters anyway, just like those undying yellow flowers, preserved in the hope that her heart might stay intact.
He writes Sometimes I look up at the night sky and search for you. I can find Valacirca, Telamundil, Menelmacar, but not the evenstar. There is no star in the whole sky bright as you. Arwen reads that letter so many times that the ink grows almost too faded to read, but it does not matter. She’s memorized the words by then.
Arwen is in Lothlórien, under the golden coppice, when she sees Aragorn again.
He is grinning when she whirls around to find him somehow even taller and broader than he’d been last. He’s in the tail-end of his summer now, and even if he turns his back on his lineage, there is a kingliness in the way that he stands and moves and breathes.
“Have you forgotten my name so quickly?” she asks, breathless for no reason at all beyond just the sight of him.
“Forgive me, my lady,” he says, stepping forward until they are nearly touching. “You walk in her likeness.”
Arwen smiles because it has been years and battles and losses but this, this is familiar. Estel has always been able to make her smile. “So many have said.” Lúthien, who gave up immortality because she fell in love with a man. Arwen studies Aragorn, taking note of each change, adjusting the picture of him in her head. She does not realize he is doing the same until he shakes his head, rueful.
“You have not changed at all.”
Arwen reaches up, brushes the hair from his eyes. His skin is so hot it nearly burns her. “You have.”
He looks at her as if she is the pool and he is the stag, ready to drink from her. “You cannot know how much I have missed you.”
“I can,” she tells him, and he takes her hand. “I do.”
Arwen knew she loved Aragorn, she’s loved him since she first saw him, but she didn’t know that love would change, that it would grow and expand until he was in the shadow of her every thought. She didn’t know love could feel like this: when walking side by side under the spring-gold canopy in warm silence is enough. When he strokes the skin over her knuckles with his thumb and she gasps. When his touch makes her feel like she’s swallowed sunlight.
She looks at him and she thinks oh. He makes her feel young again. He makes her feel temporary. He makes her feel like she has an ending, and it’s worth everything leading up to it.
Aragorn can spend the season with her, but there are wars to be won and thrones to be taken back and worlds to save. She kisses him in her grandmother’s garden, and when she pulls away, he laughs.
“Your father told me that I wasn’t allowed to marry you.”
“When was this?”
He flushes, which somehow endears her more. “The year I turned twenty, and you came back to Rivendell.”
“I remember that day,” Arwen says, pressing her fingers to the line of his jaw. “You could hardly me in the eye.”
“I thought I had walked into a dream,” he says. “I had been dreaming of you for years. I could not tell if you were real, at first.”
“I imagine my father was rather convincing,” Arwen muses. “Does this mean you won’t marry me?”
“I have wanted to marry you since I was seven,” Aragorn says, rough pad of his thumb against the smooth hollow of her cheek. “I would marry you tomorrow, if you’d have me.”
“We can wait until the war is over,” Arwen smiles, and he kisses her again and again and again. He might have never stopped, if her brother hadn’t interrupted.
They write less often than they used to, each of them busy doing what they can to save Middle Earth. Arwen loses more and more friends, to sword or ship, and Aragorn grows even more world-weary.
I feel like I could sleep for a hundred years and it would not be enough, he writes.
She writes back I slept for a hundred years once. When I woke, I did not feel rested at all.
She writes I dream of sleeping with you. I dream of waking with your heartbeat right under my ear, so I know that you’re safe. Come back to me.
He sends her the ring that his mother gave him, which he wears on a chain round his neck. For safe-keeping.
She sews him a banner and makes her brothers deliver it. For your next victory.
Arwen dreams of Aragorn constantly; sometimes they are the same age and sometimes not. Sometimes he is a king and sometimes he is a corpse. Sometimes she dreams of a little boy with his gray eyes and pointed ears and she wakes up filled with love for a son she does not have. It is hard to tell what is prophesy and what is wishful thinking.
Sometimes she thinks she's seen everything this life will give to her. A wedding in Gondor, with Aragorn wearing his father's crown. A son. A daughter. Two daughters. Three. Peace, and discord. Happiness, and grief. But more than anything, overwhelmingly, love. Love filling her life to the brink, and then passed it, overflowing. Aragorn, pale and dead on a dais while Arwen mourns by his side. Death, inevitable in a way that has never felt real until now, and still she does not fear it.
It will all be worth it, she thinks, everything, anything, for one life with him. One life with love.
"I don't want you to grow old and feel like you made the wrong choice," Aragorn admits one day, his face buried in the crook of her shoulder, beard tickling her skin.
"There is no choice," Arwen tells him. "I love you. I have loved you since I've known you, and I will love you until the end."
They meet, more often than not, in the middle. She finds him in the forest, while looking for plants to aid fevers, and they have a few hours together before he has to reunite with his soldiers, and she has to return home.
He catches her on her way to Rivendell. They tie up their horses and swim in the stream. He tugs at her ankle, cool and slick, and when they kiss he tastes like the water, like he could just wash her away.
She goes to speak with her father after that, so he can see that she’s made up her mind.
“This is really your choice?” he asks one last time, and Arwen shakes her head, because this is the part that no one really understands.
“There is no choice,” she says. “I love him. I love him. That is all there is.”
Éowyn: Do not misunderstand him, lord. It is not lack of care that grieves me. No houses could be fairer, for those who desire to be healed. But I cannot lie in sloth, idle, caged. I looked for death in battle. But I have not died, and battle still goes on.
Faramir: What would you have me do, lady? I am also prisoner of the healers. What do you wish? If it lies in my power, I will do it.
Éowyn: I would have you command this Warden, and bid him let me go.
Faramir: I myself am in the Warden's keeping. Nor have I yet taken up my authority in the City. But had I done so, I should still listen to his counsel, and should not cross his will in matters of his craft, unless in some great need.
Éowyn: But I do not desire healing. I wish to ride to war like my brother, Éomer, or better like Théoden the king, for he died and has both honor and peace.
Faramir: It is too late, lady, to follow the Captains, even if you had the strength. But death in battle may come to us all yet, willing or unwilling. You will be better prepared to face it in your own manner, if while there is still time you do as the Healer commanded. You and I, we must endure with patience the hours of waiting.
Éowyn: But the healers would have me lie abed seven days yet. And my window does not look eastward.
Faramir: Your window does not look eastward? That can be amended. In this I will command the Warden. If you will stay in this house in our care, lady, and take your rest, then you shall walk in this garden in the sun, as you will; and you shall look east, whither all our hopes have gone. And here you will find me, walking and waiting, and also looking east. It would ease my care, if you would speak to me, or walk at whiles with me.
Éowyn: How should I ease your care, my lord? And I do not desire the speech of living men.
Faramir: Would you have my plain answer?
Éowyn: I would.
Faramir: Then, Éowyn of Rohan, I say to you that you are beautiful. In the valleys of our hills there are flowers fair and bright, and maidens fairer still; but neither flower nor lady have I seen till now in Gondor so lovely, and so sorrowful. It may be that only a few days are left ere darkness falls upon our world, and when it comes I hope to face it steadily; but it would ease my heart, if while the sun yet shines, I could see you still. For you and I have both passed under the winds of the Shadow, and the same hand drew is back.
Éowyn: Alas, not me lord! Shadow lies on me still. Look not to me for healing! I am a shieldmaiden and my hand is ungentle. But I thank you for this at least, that I need not keep to my chamber. I will walk abroad by the grace of the Steward of the City.