1. Words Unsaid
I speak in Sindarin without thinking, but I’m pleased to hear my voice remain steady and light. We are but a small island in an ever-flowing stream of people as preparations for battle boil around us - and though they’ll understand not our words I would not show the fear I feel.
Aragorn doesn’t speak but gives me that almost smile of his, which shows more in his eyes than it twists his mouth. I’d prefer to shake him but I smile back instead: shamefully I could weep. For all the years I’ve known this foolish mortal and for all the times I’ve seen him risk his pitiful handful of years I have never before truly feared him lost. This has been different, though, and that knowledge lies between us. Noise and movement tumble around us but little do we notice them. I cannot – could not even were he truly Elven-kind – tell what he is thinking but it is memories that surround me.
They come crowding, until I stand once again on that high bluff.
Instead of the creeping dampness of this rock-walled castle I feel the clear warmth of the winter afternoon’s sun; instead of the smell of cramped humanity there is the aromatic smell of grass, bruised and torn in battle - and underneath, the darker smells of death and fear. In the distance, almost beyond thought, I hear the slow flowing of a river. It is a fair land we stand in, though bereft of trees, but my eyes are locked on the darkness of evil in an Orc’s eyes as he laughs and tells me of my friend’s death. Even as I hiss words of denial at him, I feel the truth settle into my soul. I would have killed him then, snatched the last few minutes of life from his body, but he robbed me of his death.
On the edge of the cliff we stood, Gimli and I, and bade farewell to our last companion. I wanted to speak to the Dwarf, whether to offer comfort or ask for it I am not truly sure, but I could not command my voice. When the king ordered us to move on and leave our dead a bright blaze of anger warmed me, however, and I turned to face him, words of scorn ready to erupt. It was the memory of Estel that stopped me. He would have expected us to finish what he had started.
Had there been any hope we must have searched for him – but there was no hope, could be no hope. Still, to ride away and leave him unfound tore at me. I vowed that should I survive the coming battle I would return and find his body – I would not leave it to be dishonoured by the carrion creatures. We journeyed on in the darkness of a grief too desolate and empty even for song. I had wept for Boromir but could find no tears for Aragorn, my friend – it is only now that he has returned that they choke my throat.
He stands in front of me, smiling slightly, and what I feel lies beyond words. The moments tick away towards battle, but even given a year of Rivendell’s endless days I would not be able to find words to say it. Indeed, I feel as though I am back in the wordless days that followed my mother’s death as bereft of words I simply watch him. He is pale with exhaustion, damp still with river water and scratched and scraped – but bears no worse injury that I can see than a bloody furrow torn through his shoulder. Finally, words come and I straighten my face and say lightly in Westron – not trusting my voice in a true language,
“You look terrible.”
Aragorn smiles more broadly and his eyes acknowledge the hit. I return the smile but can find no other words, so instead I take his hand and tip into it Arwen’s Evenstar. I have been cradling it ever since I took it from the desecration of the Orc’s filthy hand and Aragorn looks down in surprise at the feeling of the warm metal. Joyously he whispers Arwen’s name - then pulls me into an awkward warriors’ embrace.
I close my eyes for a moment at the familiar feel and smell of him. There is the human smell of sweat and the warrior smell of blood – Orc, Human and Warg – and mixed with them all pipeweed, river mud and horse. He smells like Aragorn, my friend. He feels comfortingly familiar too. Exhaustion dims him and somewhere deep there is the faintest tracing of fear but the rest remains Aragorn. He is a strange blend of warrior, healer and king - there is a clouding of some dark anger, the warmth of his caring and a brightly burning dedication.
I am grateful that he has the blunted senses of all humans and will feel nothing of what I’m feeling – nothing of the almost panicked fear that is still pouring through me. It is a fear I thought I’d left behind in my Elfling days. A wordless ‘I don’t want to lose you’ hammers through my mind and shakes the breath in my chest, just as it did when business of the kingdom took my father from me after my mother had died. I am a warrior now, though – not a frightened-of-shadows-Elfling – and a battle races towards me. There is not the time for weakness. In truth, there is no time for anything. The king awaits Aragorn and death awaits us all. Already I can feel the impatience in Aragorn as a rush of energy for the battle replaces his exhaustion. Gently I push myself free and, in silent stillness, simply watch him. May Elbereth and all the Valar protect him.
“Hannon le,” Aragorn says, gentle-voiced – and as he thanks me, mortal or not, I see in his eyes the knowledge of my fear.
The actual dialogue comes from several transcripts of the movie “The Two Towers”, which I found on the ‘net – however Elvish spelling errors are undoubtedly mine. I did use the transcripts to check the movements too but relied more heavily on my memories of what I saw.
Thanks to Nic, Lyllyn, Rachel and Eledhwen for their feedback and encouragement.
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.