1. Love Began Here
"At the hill's foot Frodo found Aragorn, standing still and silent as a tree; but in his hand was a small golden bloom of elanor, and a light was in his eyes. He was wrapped in some fair memory: and as Frodo looked at him he knew that he beheld things as they once had been in this same place." – The Fellowship of the Ring: 'Lothlórien'
- - -
The shimmering eaves of the Golden Wood loomed over Aragorn's head, wrapping him in their fragrance. The scent, at once so foreign and familiar, brought back bittersweet memories of his last visit to Lórien. It had been summer then, and the mallorn-trees had been in full bloom, encasing him within their splendor. Now it was winter, and though the brilliance of the trees was still magnificent to behold, it was not the same as in his dreams. Aragorn shook his head ruefully, allowing his thoughts to drift through the years, and immersed himself in the past.
Blue eyes meet gray, a spark flashes between. The emotions hidden in the cerulean depths are raw and searing. They are a brand on his soul. The eyes loom closer, until they mesh into one enormous orb. It blinks slowly, and for a moment he is released from its spell. But just as quickly, it opens again. He stares into the depths and finds that his thoughts are no longer his own. Images of the future flash through his mind, startling in their clarity. He breaks away, gasping for breath.
Aragorn blinked, shaking his head in order to clear it. Even in memory, the stare of the Lady of the Wood was a powerful thing. As mesmerizing as it was painful, a man who spent too long under its scope would soon go mad. Those eyes encompassed everything – saw everything. There was no way to avoid detection. Aragorn could feel her gaze on him now, though he was miles away from the City of Trees. He knew she watched him with interest, just as she had then.
Dirty, travel-stained garments are cast aside. In their place he dons shining robes of silver and white. As he walks sedately through the trees, his tall form looks more akin to that of an Elf-lord than a Ranger. A gem hangs suspended over his brow. It gleams brightly in the dusky air and those who observe him watch as he assumes the majesty of a king.
A soft wind rippled through the wood, causing Aragorn's hair to ruffle against his cheek. It tickled gently at the stubble that covered his face. He looked down at his hands, marred with dirt and scars. They were clutching tightly at his pack, as if everything he held dear was contained within its ripping seams. But it was not so – for everything that mattered was gone, far away from Lothlórien. There were only memories.
The haunting strain of a song flows through the leaves. It swirls around his head, enveloping him in its perfection. Eagerly, he searches for its source. But as quickly as it came, the melody disappears, tantalizing him with its brevity. He starts forward again when the music resumes. It flitters and floats through the air, teasing him. It leads him onward into the forest until he is all but lost. Yet he continues on, entranced.
From the front of the company, Haldir was pointing out various landmarks of the Wood to the Hobbit, Frodo. Aragorn listened with half his mind, too immersed on internal musings to devote any more of his attention to the March-warden. He was lost in a beautiful memory, one he had often returned to. Through trials and tribulations it had comforted him when nothing else had. A whisper of the song drifted through his mind, bittersweet in its existence. How often he had wished to return to Lórien; how often had he had yearned to look upon the leaves of the mallorns once more. Now it was reality, and Aragorn's spirit ached.
A lone figure emerges from the shadows. He stops, stunned by the beauty in front of him. Her dark hair swirls about her head like the wings of a storm. Little by little, she draws closer to him, until he can see clearly the silvery twilight of her eyes. Until now, he did not realize that she was residing in the Golden Wood. He had thought her to still be with her father in the north. Seeing her now is both a shock and a delight. He smiles at her tentatively, and the gesture is returned in full.
Feet weary and sore, Aragorn set his mind ahead. He looked forward to the welcome that would surely await them at Caras Galadhon. The Lady might be many things – not all of them good – but an unaccommodating hostess was not one of them. Though sorrow and fear hung over the Fellowship like a shroud, he knew food and rest would bring them comfort. Food and rest and song.
Silently, she takes hold of his hand and leads him further into the night. He questions her, asks where she takes him. But she makes no reply and refuses to speak. A bird trills softly above them, and he is reminded of the first time he saw her. Seeming to read his thoughts, she breaks into song once more, melding her voice with that of the bird.
Aragorn closed his eyes briefly. For the past few leagues, Haldir had been leading the Fellowship deeper into the Hidden Land, and the terrain was now becoming familiar. At times he would spot a stone and remember sitting upon it in the heat of the day. Or a tree with oddly patterned bark where he had lain under the stairs whilst musing over his destiny. The familiarity of his surroundings was at once soothing and agonizing. But he had little time to reminisce, for their guide was in a haste to reach the City.
She halts finally, after what seems like miles of pointless wandering. But then he turns around to see the mountain, tall and white in the moonlight. The pale light from the stars filters through the mallorns, striking the golden flowers that scatter its slopes. Her hand still tight around his, she begins to ascend, still singing softly under her breath.
The company halted suddenly, and Aragorn glanced around in confusion. With a flash of recognition, he saw the hill before them, rising gently against the bright sky of midday. Haldir was talking intently to Frodo and Sam, and Aragorn could see that he meant to take the Hobbits up to the viewing-post located in one of the mallorn-trees. The company started again, and he felt that it took hours to reach the base of the hill, though in reality it was not more than a few minutes. Aragorn's thoughts sped impossibly through his mind, and he struggled to contain them. Not even in dreams had he returned to the blissful slopes of Cerin Amroth. It was a prize he had not thought he would receive.
While they walk, the petals of the golden elanor and pale niphredil are crushed under their unshod feet. A delicate fragrance drifts through the still air. Intoxicated, he watches her graceful movements out of the corner of his eye. She is like the wind, changeable and transparent. They stop, but he is too lost in her eyes to notice that they have reached the crest of the hill.
As his wide gray eyes swept the hill, Aragorn absently brought his fingers to his lips and stroked them thoughtfully. The same lips that she had kissed. A small shudder ran through him. He would never forget that night, never. Even should he live to be a thousand years old, the memory of that night upon the mount would haunt him every day. None of its clarity could be lost with the emotions he felt for that encounter.
They look at each other, loosing themselves in the power of their combined stare. A strand of dark hair dangles over her forehead, and she brushes it aside with a sweep of her delicate hand. Slowly, she begins to come closer, until less than a hairsbreadth separates their mouths. Her lips press against his, gentle and soft. He sighs deeply and returns the kiss. From somewhere above their heads comes birdsong, but he does not heed it. Nothing exists. Only her.
Looking up, he saw that Haldir and the Hobbits were still engaged in whatever view was visible from the height of the great talan. Aragorn could only imagine the sights that greeted them, for he had never ventured to the top of that tree. No, his experiences at Cerin Amroth had been ground-based in nature.
Reluctantly, he ends the kiss. He studies her face closely, waiting. A low shudder runs through her frame, and her eyelids flicker. But when she glances up to his face, her expression is clear and open. Her choice is made.
A delicate scent wafted through the air, reaching his nose. He stooped down, looking closely at the densely bunched flowers that dotted the green turf. Spying a particularly beautiful blossom, he plucked a single elanor stem from the ground. Standing once more, Aragorn held it close to his nose as he inhaled its sweet perfume.
Soul throbbing with elation and relief, he pulls her close once more. His lips touch her nose, her brow, her chin – her lips. She sighs, a soft contented noise that goes straight to his heart. The intensity of their embrace grows, until they are grasping desperately. At last he pulls away, burying his head in her neck. She strokes his soft hair, whispering words of love in his ear.
That was how Frodo found him, some hours later. Aragorn stood tall, with his hands clasped tightly around the golden bloom, as if it were a lifeline. Reluctantly, the Ranger allowed Frodo to lead him away, as the company was departing from the gently slopes of the mount. But as they walked hurriedly under the mallorn-trees, he could not resist glancing back one last time.
Their love began here.
- - -
"He left the hill of Cerin Amroth and came there never again as a living man." – The Fellowship of the Ring: 'Lothlórien'
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.