1. In the Bed You Made
She woke with the weight of his arm upon her side. Her eyes snapped open in cold fear, but her body gave no clue of the night terrors that had swept over her. His hand was warm and comforting, spread across her round belly.
She had been standing before the doors of the Halls of Mandos, pleading to see her mother, her grandmother, anyone to vouch for her. A hand of unworldly beauty and grace, glowing softly from within, emerged from the warden’s dark robe and underlined the words on a loose page “Arwen: ‘I choose a mortal life.’”
“No!” she shrieked breathlessly as the sheet was pressed into her hands.
She stumbled back before the sweep of door warden’s robed arm. The great doors opened and gleaming chariots of exquisite gold and silver rolled out, drawn by joyous eldar steeds. Tears came to her eyes at the beauty of the First Born.
Not for you, she heard whispered. Your chariot awaits there.
She turned to see a farm cart, decrepit in comparison, drawn by a swayback ass. The driver beckoned her to join him. Aragorn’s age ravaged face broke into a smile as his eyes focused upon her.
“My Lady,” he whispered hoarsely, joy in every quaver of his voice “I was unsure if I would ever truly see you again. I feel as if it has been forever…. How are your brothers?”
Arwen could not answer. Her throat felt as dry as ashes. She gingerly took her husband’s proffered hand and settled herself on the crudely covered seat, her fine gown catching upon the rough finished wood.
“No matter – we’ll have much time to talk on the way.” Aragorn shook the reigns and the cart rumbled off into the darkness beyond the mountains.
Arwen covered his spread hand with her two. “A mortal life.” She whispered, and stared through the window at the moonlit forests beyond the river.