1. Invocation of Memory
It was truly amazing, Aragorn thought, how an aroma could transport you back instantly, unbidden, to a moment long forgotten.
An unexpected encounter with the smell of bacon cooking would almost always conjure up campfire companionship, or breakfasts in the great hall of Meduseld, and for a little while he would be, again, Thorongil; trusted éorlinga under Thengel King. Those had been good years and such fleeting reminders always, no matter where or when they occurred, brought a lifting of the spirits.
Not that he expected to encounter that particular smell here – not in his present surroundings.
He had arrived at this caravanserai the night before and, now, he waited for a company he could join on the journey across the arid desert. A journey across the expanse called by the Haradrim, in their own language, "The Sea of Shifting Sand".
Gandalf (and how a drift of pipe-weed smoke could evoke the wizard) had told him that he needed to understand the Haradrim just as he had needed to learn the ways and skills of the Rohirrim, or how the army, and court, of Gondor functioned. But these people were more alien than those had been.
Yet suddenly, here in the crowded warmth of the common room full of travellers sheltering from the surprisingly cold night, Aragorn had found himself transported to a place he had not seen for many years. A woman was dancing. Whilst, everywhere outside, the women were swathed in dark fabric, shape and age indeterminate, this woman wore so little that he felt himself blush when she turned her attentions to him.
As she swayed her hips in time to unfamiliar music, and her naked belly was so close to his face that he could see the fine sheen of sweat on her skin, he was suddenly in Imladris. The dancer wore a perfume that mixed the smell of wood with attar of roses, and Aragorn was returned to childhood and the safe haven of his mother's room. He breathed in the memory of polished wood mixed with the scent of roses drifting in from the garden below.
And, once his thoughts had flown to the Last Homely House, the long black hair and dark red silken skirts of the dancer brought another to his mind. For a split second he wanted to take the woman by the hips, bury his face in her belly, lead her to his bed and fill her body with his own.
He shook his head to clear his mind and the woman, taking it as rejection, moved on. Aragorn thanked the Valar for removing the temptation but neither he nor they could so easily remove the memories once evoked. He was not sure, come morning, which had been more difficult; to get to sleep whilst Arwen's face, perfume, and body filled his thoughts or, having held her in his arms as he dreamt, to wake in the grey morning light of another day alone and so very far from home.
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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.