1. Most Miserable of Days!
Spring, 2951, T.A.
"Only I can fix this!" Gilraen's tone permitted little arguing.
"Now, Gil---" began Elrond. In his estimation, this discussion turned argument with Estel's mother had gone on long enough.
"Perhaps it is I who has neglected his instruction," she interrupted. The lady stood examining the sword that hung over the study fireplace; Hadhafang had been made for a female and she felt a sudden longing to grasp the hilt and lift the ornate blade from its supports. How long had it been since she lifted her own sword? "I am grateful to you, my lord; he could not be who he needs to become without you…but I am his link to his heritage. And, in the last fifteen years, I've given over that duty to others. My son barely knows me." Elrond snorted as if to deny her words and made to protest.
It was a fine spring day, in the month of Lothron. Bird nests were full of hungry-mouthed fledglings, spotted fawns trailed their mothers in the woods, and Lady Taliel had given birth to twin girls, an Elvish occurrence exceeding rare in these latter days. But, for two months now, the citizens of the fair valley of Imladris had shaken their heads and debated the folly. All was not right between the Lord and his youngest son. The rift had occurred when young Estel discovered he was not the son of Elrond, but the latest chieftain of the Dúnedain and by birthright High King of the Edain. Many shook their heads over cups of míruvór; they could remember generations of the fosterlings of Numenor here. And, none had been so stubborn about accepting his role as this boy was. Perhaps he was Lord Elrond's son after all, was the suggestion whispered with an Elvish wink, with his fiery temper and obstinacy. Why, just a few days ago the argument between Elrond and Estel had erupted onto the terrace, loud and blistering, of a kind not heard in these peaceful halls since Elrohir was coming of age...
"Why, if I have been hidden away for protection, my identity kept secret for eighteen years, am I now going to be safe with these people, who live in ruins, have no organized government, and practically are not even civilized!" shouted Estel, his anger growing uncontrolled. It was a petulant question for one who would be their chieftain, but it seemed like Estel was well into another petulant day, though to be fair, he was reeling from the latest news. Elrond had called him to the study and without preamble, announced he would be leaving soon for the North to abide with the Dúnedain. At first, Aragorn had believed Elrond meant he would be at Fornost a few weeks or a month or two, but his foster-father clarified the meaning quickly.
"I have to be away from home for years?" Aragorn responded incredulously. Elrond, with the patience of the ages, explained that while he would always be welcomed at Imladris, he had to learn to live among his people.
"They're not my people!" the young man finally responded angrily, losing control at Elrond's infallible reasoning. He stared wild-eyed at the cool demeanor of his father, the anger at such unfairness burning white-hot inside, and stormed away without asking leave. He left the house and pouted in the hills for the afternoon, alone and miserable, with hawks as company.
Gilraen witnessed the end of the tirade, talked with Elrond, and then tracked her son up the path to the western falls, finding him moodily tossing pebbles into a deep pool. She sat down on a boulder across from him and collected her own handful of pebbles.
"You are the son of Arathorn, and the next Dúnedain chieftain. It is past time for you to go north to learn the role." He stared stonily into the pool and sent a pebble deep into the water. She took another tack and tried again. "It is your duty to lead your people; to become a symbol of light for all the free peoples." A second and then a third pebble shot deep into the water. "Aragorn, you have obligations to fulfill---"
"What do you care, Mother?" he interrupted her. She looked confused at the meaning of his question. "Why do you care whether I am chieftain of the Dúnedain, King of Gondor, or a beggar? You take no interest in this world. It cannot matter to you what happens beyond these valley walls." He launched the entire handful of stones into the water and stood. "You rode into this valley eighteen years ago and handed me to Lord Elrond and have taken little interest in me since. You have no ties to this life!" he accused, red faced and venomous.
"I care deeply what becomes of you, ion nin. You are my tie to this world, estel nin. You are the only thing I care for," she said simply, not rising to his attack. He ran from her then, thrashing though the brush so she would not see his tears at her loving words given in return for his meanness. Late in the day, he stalked back home to self-imposed exile in his room. Outwardly, he had regained control but inside, the fearful, unsure boy still battled madly with the honorable, good-hearted young man.
"He knows himself even less. He is suspicious and nervous with the Dúnedain Rangers, and has adopted the Eldar distain for other men. Is there any question why he denies his heritage?" Gilraen was harsh but felt she must be to make the elf-lord recognize her point. "I do not blame you, my lord. I was always part of this even as I ignored my duty as parent. We together have raised a prince, but he is an elf-prince with no ties to his own people, his own time." Gilraen could tell by the stern line of Elrond's lips he was trying to maintain his legendary calm, but he was angry, very angry with her. Gilraen looked directly into his dark, wise eyes. "He is not your son; though he has inherited much of the family temperament."
"She is right, you know," the wizard finally said, observing the confrontation from his chair. "The boy could be you in your younger days when you questioned to the point of insubordination your king's choice of Elendil as friend." Gandalf's merry eyes twinkled at her and Gilraen knew she had an ally and the battle nearly won. Gandalf was amused by the pair, struggling to decide how to deal with the wayward youngster, and he chuckled. "Unless one of us finds an answer soon, there will no longer be a problem: someone here will surely kill the boy."
When Arwen heard of Aragorn's arguments with his mother and Ada, she attempted to mend the rifts between them. From her experience dealing with temperamental elf-lords, she believed she could change his vile mood and make him understand no one was abandoning him.
Since their first early spring meeting in the orchards of Rivendell, she and Aragorn had spent many hours together, hiking the hills and reading in the gallery. Estel's obvious devotion to her and her own growing feelings for the young Edain bemused Arwen. She easily coaxed him out into the sunlight and they climbed into the hills and sat upon a grassy knoll against a favorite beech, watching eagles circling on the warm air. Aragorn relaxed and somehow his head lay in her lap; she softly stroked his temples and he began to tell her of his chagrin at arguing with both Ada and his mother, at having to go away for years, at leaving Rivendell and all he loved. Her ministrations brought momentary calmness to him, but then her response to his plight quickly sent his temper simmering again. Instead of commiseration, she said he would be busy and the time would not really seem so long. He had sat up suddenly and pulled her into his arms.
"Any time is too long away from you." He had impetuously kissed her, then deciding it was his right, kissed her again harder, and demanding. To his embarrassment, she pushed him away. "I can't be parted from you for so long!" he declared. Used to the languorous flirting and courtship of the Edhel, she was unsettled by his sudden boldness.
"If you are such an impatient boy now, you will never be willing to wait for us to be together." Her set-down angered him further and he had narrowed his eyes.
"Perhaps that's true. Perhaps," he said in a calculating way that he had wished to sound teasing but came out much nastier, "I ought to find a woman from the Dúnedain who might be more welcoming."
"Perhaps," Arwen returned coolly, getting up and walking away, "that might be a good idea."
Aragorn's walk back to the house was hot and lonely, and by late afternoon, his frustration at himself and those around him was near exploding. Deciding physical exertion might help, he challenged Elrohir to a round of swordplay in the practice ring. Skilled as he was becoming, Aragorn was still an apprentice to his brother. The easy parrying of his blows by the Elf further enraged him, especially since Elrohir was at the same time carrying on a conversation about arrow points with Glorfindel who leaned casually against the stable wall, watching the exchange. Elrohir finally grew exasperated with Aragorn's sloppy fighting and became critical.
"Think what you're doing, Aragorn!" his brother said, catching his blade with a gloved hand. "You are hacking away like a dwarf with an ax! This is worthless to continue. Take a moment and collect your thoughts." Elrohir dropped his guard and turned away to continue his discussion with Glorfindel.
Aragorn, irate beyond reason at the insult, did the unthinkable and lunged at his back with all his strength behind the blow. Elrohir's Elvish battle sense warned him but he barely turned in time to block the down swing that would have caused serious injury had it landed. Filled with wrath, the elf-lord turned on Aragorn in earnest. A few minutes of fighting too serious for a sparring ring followed. Aragorn could do nothing but block the blows as Elrohir relentlessly attacked and the boy was sure he was fighting for his life. It ended with him on his back, Elrohir's boot upon his chest. Blood trickled from where the point of the Elf's sword was digging into his throat. There was a white-hot anger in his brother's eyes and thankfully, Glorfindel holding back Elrohir's arm, shouting his name.
"What are you about, you spoiled, selfish…?" his brother thundered. Suddenly, the rage left Elrohir; he threw down his sword in disgust at his own loss of control and walked away. Glorfindel was every bit as angry but more restrained. He pulled Aragorn to his feet.
"That was dishonorable! You intended to harm your brother!" Glorfindel's midnight eyes glittered like the cold light of the stars.
"That perendhel is no brother of mine!" Aragorn slurred the Elvish surname for Elrond's house, roughness in his voice hiding his fear.
The unanticipated blow caught him across the mouth. Pain exploded in his cheek and he tasted blood. For the second time in as many minutes, he was lying on the ground, another angry elf-lord towering over him. It was the first time he had ever been struck in anger in all his life and he was shocked. It was also the first time he had seen such blazing ire in the patient Glorfindel's eyes.
"Estel!" Glorfindel shouted in disgust.
"Aragorn," he hissed back through gritted teeth, unwilling to give up the ugliness in his soul.
"You are unfit to bear the name." Glorfindel said with contempt, turned on his heel and walked away, leaving Aragorn sitting in the dirt.
And so, when Aragorn appeared that evening to dine with his family, no one asked him about the split lip and bruised cheek. Dinner was uncomfortable, held in utter silence, but finished quickly. Gilraen was distant and preoccupied; Arwen refused to acknowledge his presence and sought her father's permission to retire immediately after eating; Elrohir and Glorfindel rose quickly, bowed to the lord, and set out for the evening patrol. Finally, he sat silently with only Elrond and Elladan, whose pleasant disposition buffered him from Aragorn's volatile mood. Young though he was, Aragorn recognized his actions had been unworthy at best; he had treated the ones most dear to him hatefully. And, born with an ingrained kindness in his soul, he loathed himself for his recent meanness. Guilt gnawed at him until he finally could not live inside his skin for a moment longer. He forsook his pride, and humbly knelt before Elrond.
"Ada, I certainly have made a mess of my last days here," he admitted contritely.
"Parting is a very difficult thing," Elrond began after studying him for a moment. "You have never been parted from your family before and it will be difficult. This is but the first of many partings in your life. Some will be by time and distance; others by death. You have learned in the last few days how not to face such a separation." Elrond sighed, "My son, there are tasks in life we do, not because we want to do them, but because we must. Your path now requires you to leave Imladris behind and follow it on to a different place. But, the Valar willing, it will lead back here in the years to come." His wise words were touched with affection. "We shall all miss you, my son, and we will always welcome you home." Elrond raised the young man to his feet. "Go make your peace with the others. They know you truly did not mean your words and actions. You will sleep much better for it."
Aragorn, his heart lightened, went down to the stables first. Inside the barn, elegant heads hung over each half-door, nickering hopefully, and liquid dark eyes followed him down the main aisle to where a lantern burned at the far end and he heard the murmur of deep voices. There Glorfindel and Elrohir loitered, not ready yet to ride out on patrol, but jointly agreeing to avoid the house. Their conversation stopped abruptly as he came into the circle of the lantern's glow.
"My lords." He bowed courteously and went to stand before Elrohir. Looking deep into his brother's eyes in a way he had that showed his soul, he humbly begged pardon for his villainous actions and held his breath in hopes the proud Elrohir would forgive him. His stern brother stared silently a long moment with haughtiness that mimicked his father. Then he laughed, gripping Aragorn's hand and arm, and pulled him into an embrace. Glorfindel was much easier, smiling even before Aragorn said his piece. He carefully touched the deep gash in the young man's lip with his thumb and counted them already even for the angry exchange. Aragorn sighed in relief and thanked the Valar that these warriors might be quick to anger, but, as were most males, short memoried in their grudges.
He gave a simple apology to his mother the next day in her garden, and as all mothers do, she folded him into her arms at his first "I'm sorry". He allowed her to stroke his hair as if he were still a boy instead of a man grown, the comfort of her arms overcoming his strong desire for independence. He wondered though if she realized his sorrow was for more than his angry words; he deeply regretted that he did not think he could be the man she wanted him to be, but could not voice his fears.
"You have a fine soul, my son," she said as she released him. "One day it will be apparent to all, even you."
Arwen was the most difficult. Facing her took more bravery than staring down a pack of mountain orcs. He finally found his courage and tracked her to her room. She was reading, the door open to allow cross breezes. Her head was down, she was intent on the book, and he paused a moment to watch her. The soft breeze from the window skirled the curtain and the dark hair against her cheek. He nearly lost his nerve then and for a moment, feared he had ruined any chance he had for a life with her at his side. Finally, Aragorn knocked softly, came in, and courteously left the door ajar. The studied disinterest he saw in her eyes did not bode well for his success.
"My lady," he said, walking to her and dropping to his knees beside her chair.
"Go away, Estel." She tried to remove her hand from his grasp.
"I will be going, much too soon. But I can't go with you angry with me. What I said was ugly. It was childish and said in order to hurt you. I regret saying it and…" he bowed his head in shame, "I meant the last part not at all."
"You may do what you like in Fornost; it matters not to me," she proudly said. Her head was turned away. He caught her chin and turned her face to him.
"I think it does." He kissed her hand lightly, careful of the ground he was treading on, and careful of the cut on his lip. "Please forgive the hurt I've caused you. I want none but you; I will never want another but you."
She laughed a little. "Be careful what you say. You are but a boy and will bind yourself to me before you have the chance to explore other paths," she joked, but he heard the uncertainty in her voice.
"I would not have said it if I didn't wish it." He kissed her hand again. "But lady, I wish to do penitence for my crime of crudeness. I have caused you pain; I deserve pain in return. What punishment would you have for me?" he asked playfully, knowing well with the lady's kind spirit, his safety was guaranteed. She regarded him a moment in silence, examining him as if he were a water bug newly crawled through the window. He made the tactical error of gingerly touching his tongue to the split in his lip. A wicked look worthy of her grandmother in her youth lit Arwen's eyes.
"Just this," she said, and pulled him close, pressing a deep kiss on his lips. The pain exploded with the pleasure and though it, Aragorn counted himself well paid back.
"I shall take him away and show him things I should have already. He has a right to see them. He has a right to know what he will defend. He will come back ready to take up his role," Gilraen said with finality, turning back to the Elf-lord who had taken on that grim, furrow-browed look he had that she was sure had frightened as many enemies as the glittering weapon above the fireplace.
"Lady, you cannot ride into the Wild with only Estel!" Elrond continued logically but he knew that he had lost the argument.
"Luiciel and Bertheran are here. They will ride with us. We just go to the Angle." The lady turned from the sword she was admiring. "It is quite safe there. The Dúnedain make it so."
Two rangy brown horses, fleet of foot yet of the look meant to draw no notice, stood saddled in the stable yard in the early morning light. Their riders, two Dúnedain Rangers, lounged along the wall as if waiting to ride out. They jumped to their feet as Aragorn trotted into the yard returning with Elladan from patrol, and bowed, their eyes watching him. Self-consciously, he acknowledged them and dismounted, whispering across his saddle to Elladan.
"They made me nervous, lurking about."
"They are your people!" his brother replied. "They are curious about their future leader."
"I never noticed them watching me before---before Ada told me."
"They did, you simply were oblivious." Aragorn wished to protest that, but at that moment, the stable lad led out one of Elrond's saddle horses. The red roan gelding was tacked for a journey, bedroll and saddlebags buckled to the saddle.
Gilraen and Elrond came out onto the terrace and down the stone stairs. His mother was dressed as the Dúnedain were in black leggings, a green shirt, and grey cloak. To Aragorn's surprise, a sword hung at her side; he had never seen his mother lift a blade.
"Mother! Where are you going?" His heart lurched and guilt swept through him, thinking his argument with her had caused her to leave.
"We, my son, are going away." He noticed Elrond carried two packs; one of them was his. "Go up and change into the clothing laid out for you."
"But, Mother---?" The whining question was cut off by her quiet command.
"Go and change, Aragorn." He looked askance at Elrond, saw cool distance in the elf-lord's manner, and went up to his room. Gilraen's commanding attitude and Elrond's silence unsettled him. Across the bed lay clothing similar to his mother's: a green shirt, embroidered elaborately about the neck with a leaf design, a long, black leather vest, and a grey cloak. He changed quickly and hurried back to the courtyard. Gilraen looked him over carefully. She removed the Star of Eagles brooch from his cloak and taking his hand, worked the ring of Barahir from his finger. She handed both to Elrond.
"Where we ride, we ride without need of badge of office and these will be safe here."
"Yes, Lady," Aragorn murmured obediently and stepped up to Swallow to buckle his sword to the saddle. Gilraen swung onto her mount and Elrond caught her bridle. Before he could speak, she smiled down at him.
"I will be careful, my lord. I will return him to you whole and in better temperament." Elrond stepped over to Aragorn and gripped his arm. No words passed between the two but Aragorn immediately felt calmer. He vaulted into the saddle. Lady Gilraen spurred the roan gelding out of the gate, followed by her son and the two Rangers. They cantered silently up the path, under thousand year old oaks, across the stone bridge and curved back along the trail to the ford. The lady seemed in haste to put the valley behind her.
The Bruinen was truly a river this time of year, its water now tumbling over the boulders that in late summer would show their mossy backs to the sun. The horses waded belly-deep across the ford. Instead of following the road west, Gilraen turned south and rode along the river's pebbled bank, now at a more leisurely pace.
Cautious about unseen dangers along this unfamiliar track, half-angry at his mother's presumptive demeanor, Aragorn kept his hand on his sword hilt, sure they would come upon Orcs at every turn. But, as he watched the two Rangers riding on loose rein, their weapons tucked away as if there could be no threat here, he relaxed. Shining in the dappled sunlight, the beauty of the river vale around him began to seep into his senses. To the south of Imladris, the Bruinen widened and slowed as the land around it became less hilly. The river's banks glowed gold-green with newly unfurled leaves, sunlight glinted off the silvered surface of the water, and along the banks, the water eddied in deep pools where large brown-spotted fish waited for a meal of dragonflies. The warm air and the smell of honeysuckle growing thick along the banks mesmerized Aragorn into a peacefulness he had not felt in weeks.
Aragorn companionably edged Swallow up beside his mother's mount, meaning to ask in a half-joking way if Lord Elrond had thrown them out of the valley for his churlish behavior. But, as he turned to her, he was aware of the change in his mother. Somehow, time had spun backwards in the last few hours and she looked younger than he ever imagined she could be. There was a sun-bloom on her cheeks, and he noticed, instead of the usual crown of braids, she wore her fawn-colored hair tied back loosely in a tail. He was struck that she handled her horse easily although it was not her usual sedate mare, but one of Elrond's fiery elvish mounts. She occasionally spoke a soft Sindarin word to him and stroked his crested neck. Her son wondered when he had last ridden with her; when he had forgotten she was a fine horsewoman. The sunlight glanced off the gold-wired hilt of the sword protruding from her scabbard, and he pondered why he did not know his mother owned a sword.
Gilraen covertly watched her son, and decided he had stared at her in silence long enough, his thoughts flickering visibly across his face.
"You are not cast out from your Eldar family." She heard the gasp at her perception of his thoughts. "Time away seemed prudent though, since the house was in such upheaval." He looked down, shame-faced, and she began again, not wanting to spoil his lightened mood, "I'm taking you to Caew Thoronath to meet some of our people---my family---who live in the Angle."
Eagles' Rest: he had never heard it mentioned and never heard his mother refer to any of her family. Aragorn nodded and, since he found he no longer knew how to talk with his mother, their journey lapsed into a peaceable silence.
Gilraen rode on, in her mind adding to her spoken words: 'Before our journey's end, I will also take you to another place---a place I dread---a place I have not been in eighteen years.'
At a break in the tree line that could have been a deer path, she urged the roan up the bank and they rode east a ways, through a wood of elms and hickory and wild cherry that opened on a broad meadow. Its farthest edge showed signs of cultivation. As they trotted through the hedgerow, a homestead compound appeared beyond the trees. It was made up of several stone houses and livestock pens, outbuildings and gardens built along a track that led up to a large house with its kitchen and stables. They struck the track, drawing the attention of the many people working about, and reined in at the house.
Gilraen threw her leg over the saddle pommel and slid off like a young girl before Aragorn could dismount and help her down. The rangers took their reins and led the horses back toward the stables. An elderly man with thick white hair, carrying but not using a cane, appeared in the doorway, stared curiously at his visitors, and then a smile of welcome broke across his face.
"Uncle Harwilthel!" Gilrean skipped up the steps and gathered the man in a delighted hug. Aragorn followed bemused at his stately mother's personality change.
"Gillie! It's good to see you, girl." He finished with her and turned to Aragorn, wrapping him in a rib-cracking embrace. He released the boy and stepped back, keen gray eyes assessing him. "This is the youngster? Hhhmmm…a looker, mind but does he have bottom?" Aragorn felt he should have been insulted by being looked over like a horse, and sniffed contemptuously. Harwilthel laughed and wrapped a heavy arm around his shoulders, guiding him to the doorway.
"Don't get your back up, laddie. I'm your great uncle and you can save that conceit for your cousins. Come inside, Wyorven is in the kitchens, and I'm sure news of your arrival is spreading around Eagles' Rest and a herd will soon be descending on us." They went into a large gathering room the width of the first floor of the house. A massive river rock fireplace and a wide staircase leading to the second floor dominated one end. The room was well-furnished, divided for uses, with a table large enough for many and chairs, a desk against a wall lined with shelves crammed with books and scrolls, and several comfortable chairs drawn near the fire. Huge windows, their shutters fastened back, opened out on the fields and forests.
Gilraen and Harwilthel dropped into two of the chairs without another word to Aragorn and began talking of folks he had never heard of before. He wandered to the study section of the room and leafed through a few of the books until suddenly he was attacked from behind and almost squeezed to death by a woman tall as he and nearly as strong. She was dressed as a man in leather pants and suede vest. Her weathered face was tanned and she wore her long iron-grey hair caught back with a bit of leather lacing.
"Welcome to the House!" she boomed. "I'm your Aunt Wyorven, if you are who I believe you to be." Her cheerfulness was infectious and Aragorn liked her immediately. "If not, then you can sit beside me at dinner and whisper sweet words of nothing about my beauty into my ears!" Although time had blurred her features, Aragorn could see in her high cheekbones and soulful eyes the stately beauty she must have been in her youth.
"I will do that anyway, Aunt Wyorven." Aragorn said, his eyes dancing. She linked her arm through his and dragged him to the fireplace to announce to Gilraen that she had grown a fine clever son.
About that time, the doors seemed to burst inward and an amazing myriad of aunts and uncles, greats and regulars, cousins and partial cousins and people not related at all, poured in, bearing baskets and pots of food. They greeted Gilraen as if she had been there last week and passed judgment on her 'Oh, aye, but he's handsome and tall, very tall' son as if he were deaf to their comments. The younger cousins greeted him shyly: the girls whispering behind hands, the boys assessing his strength and eyeing the business-like dagger he carried on his belt.
Time spiraled away, a huge meal was set and the reminiscing continued. Aragorn found himself embraced by this new-discovered family and enjoyed the fascinating stories of people and actions unknown to him. He joined in the laughter though he felt he probably would have enjoyed the punch lines even more, if only he could have kept the relatives taking part in them straight. Dinner over, the family retired to the large porch. Sweet pipe smoke from Harwilthel and several of the men scented the twilight air. The story telling continued but after such a long day, Aragorn could finally not suppress a huge, jaw- cracking yawn that sent his aunt hustling him off to a soft upstairs bed. He fell asleep to the lullaby of murmuring voices and easy laughter of his relatives.
"So, Gillie," Harwilthel commenced when all of the relatives had finally left for their own houses and only he and Wyorven remained, seated inside near the fireplace with her, "your letter said there were problems with the boy. He seems sound to me and has the look of the Dúnadan about him, may he rest peaceful in Mandos' Hall."
"Nay, there is nothing physical at fault with Aragorn and he has his father's character and strength---"
"And his mother's wit and compassion," Wyorven added. Gilraen sighed, looking into her uncle's eyes. He could see how deeply troubled she was.
"He is a fine boy, as fine a son as any mother could hope, but he lacks the desire to be the Dúnadan; he doesn't know his people. He is hot-tempered and arrogant. He is stubborn and angry this legacy has been thrust upon him." Gilraen sighed, "I think if allowed, he would deny his birthright. Even Lord Elrond is at a loss."
"As you say, he is his father's son. That I can see with a more objective eye than you." Harwilthel shook his head. "'Tis a heavy burden the important folk lay on so young a lad. I suppose also he knows he is to be king and leader of the Free Peoples?"
"Aye, he was told all---all which could be told."
"Truly a burden for one as young as he." Harwilthel gnawed on his pipe stem awhile. "And does he have the gift; can he see what is to be?"
"Aye, he does, but I believe he has not learned control. His vision comes to him in dreams though not since he was young will he speak to me of what he sees. His dreams frightened him then. Perhaps he has learned to suppress them."
"His second sight will serve him well in the years to come. But, perhaps his dreams are enough to make him fear the future and question his birthright." The old man roused himself, stood, and stretched. "We will make the lad welcome, introduce him to our ways, and I will find a time that's right to speak with him, if it is needed." His sharp eyes looked at her. "Our family's predilection for prescient dreams is oft a curse. You, Gillie, you need peace also. You must give up your own evil dreams of orcs in the forest and your self-imposed guilt. You could not have warned him in time or prevented him from riding out that day. None but you hold you at any fault for Arathorn's death." Harwilthel went off to bed then and Wyorven busied herself with clearing up a bit before she also went off to her own room. Gilraen sat for a long while, legs tucked under her as she had as a girl, seeing scenes of her life replayed in the dancing flames, scenes she had spent eighteen years trying to forget.
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.