A Mother's Hope
Disclaimer - These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain
With grateful thanks to Virtuella and Raksha
Gilraen awoke at dawn with a feeling of deep foreboding that she could not explain. She was accustomed to her husband being away and little Aragorn was well. Gilraen inwardly chided herself. She ought to be happy; Arathorn was expected home within a few days and her mother, Ivorwen, was visiting her. The two were rarely together as often as they would have liked and the older woman was delighting in the company of her daughter and first grandchild.
Gilraen looked fondly at her son while Ivorwen played with the toddler. She could still hardly believe that she and Arathorn had created one so perfect. Aragorn was the fairest little boy with chubby limbs and a winning smile. He had learned to walk when he was but a year old and now he was two, he could talk well and everyone said he was advanced for his age. Not only that, but the child had a loving and sunny disposition. Yet he seemed restless today too, quickly tiring of the game and crying for no reason, which was most unlike him.
"There is something amiss today," said Ivorwen. "My foresight senses it. Maybe a storm is brewing?"
Gilraen sat down at her loom taking the opportunity to weave cloth for a new cloak for Arathorn while her mother watched Aragorn. She must have worked for an hour or so when she was suddenly overwhelmed by a dreadful feeling of emptiness in her soul. She gave a cry and almost swooned. Aragorn started to scream.
"What ails you, daughter?" Ivorwen hastened to her side and put her arms around her child.
"Arathorn is dead!" Gilraen whispered. "I can no longer feel him in my heart."
"Alas, I know now what my foresight portended!" cried Ivorwen.
Little Aragorn ran to his mother. Gilraen scooped him up in a fierce hug; suddenly terrified he would be snatched from her too.
Gilraen wept. She grieved not only for her husband, but also for her son, now without a father's protection in a harsh world, and for the other children she had longed to share with Arathorn. Never again would she awake with Arathorn's loving arms around her! Never again would she see Arathorn smile! Never again would she hear Arathorn's laughter, so rare in her quiet, grim husband, when he played with their son.
A few hours later when two Elf Lords, identical in appearance, arrived at the house, Gilraen was already in mourning. She recognised the sombre faced warriors as Elladan and Elrohir, the sons of Elrond.
"I know you bring ill tidings, my lords," she said, her pale face and red rimmed eyes belying her calm demeanour.
"It grieves me to tell you, Lady Gilraen, that an Orc arrow struck down your husband this morning," said Elladan. "We overcame the Orcs, but it was too late for Lord Arathorn. Your son is now the Chieftain of the Dúnedain. Alas, Arathorn was the most noble and valiant of men! Our hearts are heavy today. His death is a grievous loss for us all."
"Where is my husband?" asked Gilraen. She noticed now that the Elves looked haggard and distressed. One had blood upon his sleeve. She shuddered.
"We buried him where he fell, lady," said Elrohir. "We bring you these tokens." He held out Arathorn's star shaped brooch together with the ancient emblem of the Kings of Westernesse, the Ring of Barahir. How small that Ring looked now, sitting on an Elf's palm instead of Arathorn's finger!
"He would never part with those tokens in life," said Gilraen. "I know that you speak truly."
"We have come to take you and your son to Imladris," said Elladan. "Our father fears for your safety and that of your child. There are too few men folk to protect you both until your son reaches manhood. Also, our father will hold the mourning rites for Arathorn at Imladris.
Gilraen swayed slightly and grasped the doorpost for support. "You want me to leave my kinsfolk and my friends? Is it not enough that I have lost my husband?"
Elladan and Elrohir regarded her sadly. "We know it will not be easy, Lady Gilraen," said Elrohir. "Our father believes, though, that the servants of the Enemy are determined to destroy the heirs of Elendil. Only at Rivendell can the child grow up in safety. Once he is settled, Lady Gilraen, you could always return here if you so wished, and let the world believe that the child is no more."
Gilraen let go of the doorpost and drew herself up to her full height. Her grey eyes flashed. "I may no longer be a wife," she said, "But I will always be Aragorn's mother! If my son must grow up far from his own people, he will need me all the more. Wise your folk might be, but my son is mortal and should be raised by one of his own kind. " She sighed, her brief outburst of anger spent. "I will do whatever it takes to protect my child."
"We should leave at once then," said the Elrohir. "There is no need for you to pack. Our father will provide everything you need."
"Your father will not have my son's favourite toys, the blanket he likes to sleep under, or the coat his grandmother made for him," said Gilraen. "I will come, but give me a few moments."
"Very well, but make haste," said Elladan. "We will wait here."
Assisted by her mother, Gilraen bundled up Aragorn's favourite possessions. She packed also her best gown, the one she had worn at her wedding, a shawl her mother had woven for her soon after Aragorn was born, and her jewellery, gifts both from her parents and from Arathorn.
The sons of Elrond called from outside telling her it was time to leave. Gilraen clung to Ivorwen. "Mother!" she cried. "I do not want to leave you. When will I see you again?"
"We must leave that in the hands of the Valar. You must be strong," Ivorwen said gravely. "Take heart, daughter, you are the mother of our people's hope."
"Naneth?" Aragorn clutched at his mother's skirts and looked at her anxiously.
"All is well, darling. Naneth is taking you to see the Elves." Gilraen collected herself with a mighty effort.
"Elves?" Aragorn beamed happily for the first time that day.
Clasping her son's small fingers with one hand and clutching the bundle that contained all that was left of her old life in the other, Gilraen walked out of the home she had shared with Arathorn for the last time. Her heart was breaking, but her head was held high. For Aragorn's sake she smiled as they rode away.