Gilraen had known that Arathorn would often be away when she married and had accepted it at the time. She also knew he had been a Ranger since before she was born and it was his destiny but she would preferred for him to be with her more often - in the past year she had been alone for more days than she had spent with Arathorn. He told her of the dangers he often faced but that had not helped - now she had something specific to worry about. She did not look forward to the day when she would worry about their sons the same way. At least she would know their daughters would be safe, if they had any.
She could not help but go to the window one more time. There was no-one out there, just as there had been each time she looked. She did not want to think about going to bed alone again. Their house looked bare now that she had tidied all evidence of her friends being there earlier. She had not thought it necessary to keep any candles lit but the one by the chair she had been sitting in to read and the darkness merely accentuated the emptiness. Now the candle had almost burnt out and Gilraen had not managed to read more than a few pages.
Arathorn usually kept to his word when he told her when he expected to be home. He had promised to only be gone a few days this time, yet it had already been more than a week. She gave a small smile as she remembered the words of her friends earlier in the evening: "Perhaps he's just trying to find you the perfect present." A tear slipped from Gilraen's eye, which she wiped away, knowing that when Arathorn did return she would be so grateful he was alive that she would not care what the day was.
Gilraen had turned her back to the door, intending to go to bed so the day would be over with, when she thought she heard it open. She had spent the evening hearing noises outside, thinking - hoping - they would be made by Arathorn, and several times during the day she had thought it was him calling her, when in reality it was another. It was only when she heard her name repeated, coupled with the sound of footsteps behind her she knew she could not be imagining things.
At last turning, with more hope than she had felt all day, she saw the man she had been expecting. She ran into his arms and pressed her face into his shoulder. This time she did cry but they were tears of relief. She wondered briefly if she would ever get used to this and decided that if she had not after one year of marriage she probably never would.
Gilraen pulled back and made to kiss her husband but stopped when she looked at him. Along with the usual dirt on his skin there was also dried blood, but even that could not hide the weariness in his face or the redness of his eyes.
"What's happened?" Gilraen asked, although she feared the answer.
"My father was taken by hill trolls. He is dead."
Gilraen gasped, closing her eyes. She had liked Arador, for he was much like his son and Arathorn's mother had given her much helpful advice. Gilraen could imagine how she would be feeling now, and although she grieved for Arathorn's father, she was glad it had not been her husband.
She opened her eyes once more to look at Arathorn. "How are you?" she asked him.
"I'm unhurt," he said but that was not what she was asking.
"Arathorn," she chastised, softly.
"All the better for seeing you," and with that he kissed her.
Gilraen pulled back reluctantly. She had been desperate to tell Arathorn her news since she found out the previous day but now she was standing in front of him she wondered if now was a good time.
"What is it?" he asked concern on his face.
Now she had to tell him. She knew it would make him happy but how could they celebrate when his father was dead? Gilraen took Arathorn's hand in hers, absently wondering when he had taken them from around her waist. She pressed his hand to her stomach, giving him a warning of what was to come. "I am with child," she said.
Gilraen watched Arathorn's face change in that instant. "A baby," he said, unable to stop smiling. Watching him, Gilraen could not help but do the same.
"Yes," she said. "Perhaps it will be a son, for you to teach and me to worry over."
Arathorn understood what she did not say. "I promised you I would be home for our anniversary and I am."
"You did not have to leave for me."
"Yes, I did." Arathorn's tone had become more serious and he touched her cheek with the hand not holding onto hers. "Everything will be different now."
Gilraen nodded. She knew Arathorn would become Chieftain one day but she had expected it to be far in the future. And when the baby came would Arathorn be home for that event?
"I did not bring you a gift though," he continued.
Gilraen gave a laugh. "You are enough," and when they kissed again the candle went out.
A/N: I am using two definitions of year here - one literal, one referring to the changing of numbers in the date
And it happened that when Arathorn and Gilraen had been married only one year, Arador was taken by hill-trolls in the Coldfells north of Rivendell and was slain; and Arathorn became Chieftain of the Dunedain. The next year Gilraen bore him a son, and he was called Aragorn.
Appendix A, The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
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.