Hush now, child, you shall wake your mother else, and she deserves to rest after the past three days. I, too, would lie at her side now and sleep, but someone must see to you. And in truth, I do not mind – there are worse things to waken to in the middle of the night than your cries. Besides, I do not know how often I shall be able to do this, since – stop squirming a moment! I have nightmares that I may drop you that rival my worst memories of orcs. There. Hush, now. Valar, you seem so small lying in Gilraen's arms, yet you overflow mine, Aragorn! Aragorn. Your name is nearly longer than you – Aragorn son of Arathorn, Heir of Isildur. And that is but the beginning, my son – we bear many names who rove the Wilds of Eriador. And we bear many other things as well – that is your inheritance, your legacy, though I can scarcely imagine it as I hold you tonight. You can barely fit your hand round my finger, let alone the grip of a sword, and when you pull my hair, I barely feel it. Your skin is smooth, unmarked – you have not lived yet, that time could write upon you as it has upon me. Gilraen can read my tale through the scars on my body, and she has stretch marks from carrying you. Do you know, I envy her those? To bare my back is to read a book of death; I would rather be marked for having brought life – for having been a father.
But fatherhood is not read, because not marked. It is telling, is it not, that motherhood should mean so much that it finds expression in tradition, in the blanket that warms you now, that your mother wove for you? Count the threads – nine months' worth of love and yarn to shelter you when her body no longer could. Such is motherhood – it speaks itself in so many ways, but fatherhood is more muted. You may have many fathers, but only one mother. We are more expendable, interchangeable, for being ever away. And where Gilraen gives you warmth and comfort, from me you shall learn pain in the Wild, alas! Such a gift, and one I would spare you if I could.
And that is something I feel I should tell you, though you hear not words but only the sound of my voice. You shall one day stand in my place, my son, and, knowing that you must soon depart, you shall worry over your first-born while your wife sleeps. Mayhap then, you will understand fully, as I do in this moment, what it is to be both father and Ranger. I shall not have many chances to hold you thus, or soothe your nightmares, change your diapers, tuck you into bed, or teach you how to play those games that we all knew as children. You will go to Imladris in a few years, and stay there for some time, until you are ten or twelve, and I will come when I may, but never often enough. Understand, it is not for lack of love that I shall be gone. It will be hard for me, and whenever I see you – taller each time, and with a different face, different words, different feelings – I shall imagine all the days between our meetings, when I was not there to see you grow. That is the way of it, among Rangers – sometimes I think we cannot fathom love without pain.
So, that is your apology, my son. We shall one day have to talk about it all, when you are just old enough not to want to listen, and I am old enough to fear your anger. I fear I may not be very eloquent then, in the face of your silent uncertainty, so best that I say these things now, with what art I can contrive. I must hope that your mother shall be able to explain me to you as you grow up in my absence, so that when the time comes, we hurt each other less. Forgive me early, if you can. And I wonder, was that noise you just made absolution, or are you hungry? Or do you wish me to continue? Hush now, sshhh....
You simply stare back at me now, with your eyes like Gilraen's, half-lidded. Strange, but she swears you have my eyes. Of course she also claims you have my mouth. I cannot imagine whence comes that idea! Never mind, Aragorn – one day, you will understand that as well.
But for now, you are silent when I am, and your eyes are shut fast. Wonder of wonders, you are asleep at last, though for how long, I know not. I cannot begin to describe what I feel, holding you like this, knowing that you are mine and Gilraen's, our love embodied. I can say only that I love you, and then there is nothing more to say, for I am overwhelmed.
Good night, Aragorn.
I love you.
Thank you, Andria, for letting me borrow your blanket. :-)
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.