Arwen nodded to herself, approving the last preparation. The night was growing older and it was time for slumber. "Where is Elessar?" she murmured. He had been staring at Idriel's baby portrait much of the evening, yet she saw their chamber door open as she ascended the stairs. But he was neither asleep nor pondering, only sitting in his chair with a weariness on his face that she had not seen since the dark years.
"What is it, my love?" asked Arwen, concern showing in her whole attitude as she hastened to his side. He did not even look at her, but kept his eyes on the flames, with light both reflecting and shining in them. Arwen brushed her fingers through his hair, and knelt by his side. "My love, you cannot hide from me. The days of Ranger loneliness have passed away."
"I have to give her up," whispered Aragorn.
"She has been betrothed for a year," said Arwen with a smile. "You are not so oblivious as to not notice."
"No, you do not understand," said Aragorn, shaking his head and rubbing his brow with rough fingertips. Arwen gently took his hand and laid it in his lap, and she began to gently massage his forehead.
"Arwen," he said, "I cannot be responsible anymore. Idriel has already looked at me with eyes that show her desire for independence; and I know in my heart that I cannot hold onto her. I—I am giving up my responsibility." He breathed out, a shaky half-laugh. "I have never done so before."
He brought up his hands to gently take hers, and he kissed them softly. "It will not help, Arwen. It is not headache but heartache."
"Responsibility has been yours to deal with before," said Arwen. "Why is this different?"
"But I have never given it up," he answered. "I delegate to Faramir, to Elladan, but they still report to me. My mother dwelt under Elrond's guard, but she was always my care, just as Frodo was though I could not be with him on the Quest. Even Eowyn—I knew her so shortly, and yet I worried over her all through my journey to Minas Tirith. How can I actually forego my responsibility for Idriel, give her entirely into the care of another man?"
He laughed bitterly. "Full well do I now understand your father, and how thoughtless I was when taking you from him. Full well am I repaid for my selfishness."
"Do not worry, Elessar," said Arwen with a slow smile. "She is not going away forever. You will learn, as all fathers have learned."
He smiled a little. "Yes, I think I must."
"You need not give up everything," reminded Arwen.
"Of course not," said Aragorn. "She will always be my little daughter, I know. And I am happy—she is happy. I will not be too selfish."
"But I must learn quickly," he added with a wry smile. "I have three more daughters after Idriel."
Author's Notes: I hope you enjoyed this. In my imaginings, Aragorn makes Elladan the Steward of Arnor.
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.