2. Her Tale
Arathea said her good-byes in private. While she knew it best to leave, she would miss Aragorn terribly. They had been kept apart since they came of age and the truth was revealed to Aragorn. Only short visits, like the stolen moments of lovers, were permitted and in the past ten years those had been forbidden. Sauron could not know of her for he would desire to use her as a tool and Aragorn had to focus on the difficult path before him. Furthermore, others could argue his right to the throne if the truth was revealed. She had understood. Long before Aragorn learned who he was, she knew. She was older, she remembered why they came to Imladris and she had been sworn to secrecy. She loved Aragorn more than anyone and would do whatever was needed to see him fulfill his destiny and become king. They were so young back then.
“My Lady?” Captain Gamling called gently to the woman as she stood by her horse, a distant look on her face. “My lady?” He said again, approaching her.
She startled and looked at him. A shy smile and quiet apology were her only reply. She mounted her mare while Gamling mounted his steed. They made their way out of the stables and moved to where the rest of the Rohirrim party waited.
“Are you ready?” Éomer asked her as Arathea approached. She nodded. “You will ride with me; I would get to know you better before we arrive.”
Thea maneuvered her horse alongside the king’s. She was dressed for riding, tan leggings and a green tunic. Her long hair hung down her back in a thick braid. An elvin cloak, Aragorn’s parting gift, was clasped at her throat by a delicate mallorn leaf. She carried little with her as she had little to bring. Anything she owned was still in Imladris. Once the party got outside the gates, and the riders focused on the journey, the two began to speak easily. Éomer enjoyed Thea’s company and his guards were glad to see the king smile again. The last two months had taken their toll on the young man.
“You know they all think I am sent to be your queen, right?”
“I am guessing the same will be true when we arrive at Edoras.” Éomer replied.
“That is not the case, though, you believe that do you not? While you are an attractive man, I could not see you as anything more than a brother.” Thea hoped they were on the same page for she did not want to hurt the man. However, she knew that in stressful times, feelings often got muddled. She would not be a good choice for his queen anyway.
“I know;” Éomer said quietly, “though you are a beautiful woman I already feel a brotherly bond forming. However, we could have some fun.” His rich laughter rang out as Arathea gave him the most scandalized look she could.
“You know I am old enough to be you grandmother,” she retorted before she realized her words. Her green eyes went wide as Éomer looked at her intently.
“I gathered you are like Elessar. I would know your tale if you would share it.”
Arathea looked at the king and a melancholy smile crossed her face. He reminded her of Aragorn so much. She did not doubt she could trust him; after all, he was offering her a home and his trust. As her king he had a right to know the truth, but would he keep it secret?
“I was born October 13, 2919,” Thea chucked as Éomer did the mental calculations, “I am about twelve years older than Aragorn.”
“You are a Dúnadan.” It was said as a confirmation of fact and Thea only nodded, glancing around to be certain none were eavesdropping. Captain Gamling was closest to them and he was quietly whistling.
“Aragorn’s father, Arathorn had an older sister, Arphazel. She was a dear friend of Gilraen who would become Aragorn’s mother. She became pregnant though she was unwed. As she would not disclose who the father was, my grandfather disowned her. He was furious for it was unbecoming a Dúnadan lady of the line of Isildur. A friend of Arathorn’s, a captain named Belzagar, came forward and professed his love for my mother. He told my grandfather the child was his and they were to be wed.”
“I do not see the problem,” Éomer said confused. “Was he not your sire?”
“I do not think so. After Arathorn’s death, my mother and Belzagar saw Gilraen and Aragorn safely to Imladris. A year later, my ‘father’ was gravely injured. Before he passed, he told me the truth—he was not my birth father. After he passed I asked mother but she would say no more and reminded me that Belzagar had always loved me and treated me as his own. A season later, my mother died, taking the identity of my father to the grave.”
“What of Gilraen or Lord Elrond? Perhaps she confided in them.”
“Gilraen’s heart was already breaking and she spoke little of the past. I have asked Elrond what he knows of my lineage but he says nothing more than what I have told you. Yet I feel he is hiding something, protecting something.”
“Maybe. Anyway, it really matters little. Aragorn is where he should be, I just want to find some place to call home; I want a life of my own.” She looked at Éomer with tearful green eyes. She hoped he understood. For decades, it was all about Aragorn; now she was adrift, looking for her own path.
Éomer reached across and squeezed her hand. “I understand better than you might think. However, you will not be able to, nor should you, hide from who you are. Yet it is your choice and I will keep your secret. But someday the truth will come out; it always does.”
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.