Chaos and darkness heard,
And took their flight;
Hear us, we humbly pray,
And, where the Gospel's day
Sheds not its glorious ray,
Let there be light! - John Mariott
With grateful thanks to Raksha and Virtuella for editorial assistance and Cairistiona for help with the plot.
Disclaimer - These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
Thorongil feared his fate was sealed. Ecthelion might well love him as a son, but even the Steward could not exonerate him from a situation such as this. He was alone with the lady, in her bed, and wearing nothing but a nightshirt! He cried out in dismay, and the woman awoke with a start. She turned to face him. It was not Finduilas but Arwen!
"Whatever has Denethor done to shame you like this? Never would I bring such dishonour upon you, my lady as to take you to my bed!" Thorongil exclaimed in horror. Ever since he had glimpsed Arwen walking under the birches at Rivendell, he would have liked nothing better than to wake up each day beside her. Not like this, though, without proving himself worthy of her love and winning her hand in marriage.
"Why should I share your bed?" Arwen sounded bewildered. "I am your wife!"
A guard knocked on the door. "Is everything well, my lord, my lady?" he called.
"There is naught for you to be concerned about, but please would you summon the Lord Steward here? Tell him that my lord is awake."
"Yes, my lady. We will send for him at once."
"My wife, lady? I beg you, do not jest so cruelly!" Thorongil protested to Arwen.
"It is no jest! Of course I am your wife. We wed four years ago come Midsummer; and I have borne your child!"
"Child? How can this be?"
"The same way that all couples have children!" Arwen retorted. She slid from the bed. Thorongil realised there was a crib in the room.
Arwen donned a robe over her nightgown and lit more lamps. She lifted a child from the cradle and climbed back in bed beside Thorongil, the child clasped in her arms. "Look, Estel!" she demanded. "Here is our child, your son Eldarion!"
"Ada!" gurgled the toddler sleepily. He was a handsome child, with an Elven beauty in his face and a look of Elladan and Elrohir as well. Thorongil wanted immediately to reach out to the child, to take him in his arms, acknowledge him; but he could not remember being his father.
"See, does he not bear a likeness of you, in his dark hair and grey eyes?" said Arwen.
"He looks like you," Thorongil said doubtfully. "You have dark hair and grey eyes too."
Arwen's placid demeanour finally shattered. "How dare you!" she cried. "You would question my virtue and your own son's birthright? I know Faramir said you are unwell, but this is too much! This little one is wiser than you, as he recognises his own father!" She returned the sleepy child to his crib as she spoke.
"My apologies, my lady, but I certainly have no recollection of wedding you, much less of fathering your child!" Thorongil protested. "And who is this Faramir?"
"Why your best friend and Steward of course!"
"I have never heard of the man! Ecthelion is Steward here. What trick is Denethor using you to play?" Thorongil covered his eyes, wondering what strange, painful dream this could be. He removed his hands, but Arwen and the child were still there. "Lady, how came you here," he asked softly, afraid that some horror had addled her wits, and fearing for Imladris. "Does Master Elrond know you have left the Elven realms?"
"Do you not recall my father bringing me to claim your hand in marriage?" Arwen enquired. "We wed with my father's blessing, ere he sailed to rejoin my mother."
Thorongil swallowed hard. If she spoke the truth, he would never again see the one who had been as a father to him.
"What year is it?" Arwen asked suddenly.
"Why? Twenty nine eighty, of course."
It was Arwen's turn to cover her eyes in shock. "No, my love, forty four years have passed since then."
"It cannot be! This is all some trick!" Thorongil protested. "Denethor has had me attacked!"
"Faramir told me you were hit by a falling tree," Arwen explained gently. "I fear the blow you sustained to your head has caused you to lose your memory."
"No, that cannot be! Denethor has had me beaten and drugged and holds you under duress!"
"I have never even met Denethor," Arwen said patiently. "There is no doubt that it was an accident, the pattern of the bruises on your body prove it. Take off your nightshirt and look for yourself!"
"What? Certainly not, it would be most improper!"
"Estel, I know you are shy about uncovering yourself, but I am your wife! There is nothing improper. I have already seen your injuries while you were asleep, when I returned from visiting Éowyn. Let me help you." She reached out to undo the laces at his neck.
"Thank you, my lady, but I can undress myself!" Blushing scarlet, Thorongil reluctantly slid the garment from his upper body. He would truly rather fight a horde of fully armed Orcs, but it seemed that there was no alternative than to bare his skin to the Lady of Imladris.
"Now look carefully," Arwen said. "You have bruises on your left arm and across your ribs on the left side only. The injury to your head is on the left too, which is entirely consistent with an accident. Why would an assailant beat you up on only one side?" Tenderly, she traced slender fingers across his bare chest. Thorongil tried hard to suppress the delightful sensations her touch aroused in him. He wanted to believe she was his wife and such pleasure was allowed, but it was all too much to comprehend.
"I think I should apply some more salve," said Arwen. "These bruises still look painful."
Just then a knock on the door interrupted them. "It is Faramir," a voice called.
"Come in!" Arwen answered. Aragorn was dismayed at the prospect of being caught in such a compromising situation. He hastily pulled his nightshirt back over his shoulders.
"Lord Denethor, I understand you might have a grudge against me, but please release this innocent lady!" Thorongil said with as much dignity as he could muster.
"He has lost his memory, I fear, Faramir," said Arwen. "He thinks he is still Captain Thorongil, you are Denethor, and that your grandfather is Steward here. He believes that you seek to harm him."
Denethor came, and at a nod from Arwen, sat down on the edge of the bed. "That would explain much," he said his eyes full of concern and compassion. "I am not my father, mellon nîn," he said gently. "He died four years ago. You are the King of Gondor and Arnor, Lady Arwen is your wife and I am your Steward. I would never wish you harm. You were injured when a rotten tree one of the gardeners was felling hit you. His little girl, who is deaf, ran towards her father unaware of the danger. You leapt into the path of the tree to save the child and were hit yourself."
"You must be Denethor! And why can I not remember an accident?" Thorongil protested. "Why am not in the Houses of Healing if I were injured?"
"Because your lady was away in Ithilien when you were injured, the healers asked my advice as to where we should take you to recover," said the Steward. "I thought you would be more comfortable in your own rooms and I was happy to look after you with assistance from the healers."
Thorongil peered more closely at the man before him. "Now that I behold you, your eyes seem different and you have a look of the Lady Finduilas about you. And you were so kind."
"You were ever kind to me," said Faramir. "At our very first meeting you saved my life before you fought to defeat Sauron. Do you not recall the day you were crowned or your wedding day? Many people witnessed both events. There are paintings to commemorate them. I will fetch your crown and sceptre. You found a new White Tree, which you saw today in the Court of the Fountain. Surely that must be the proof if nothing else is?"
"Sauron defeated? The Kingship restored? How could I not recall such things that I have dreamed of, finally coming to pass? Can a son of Denethor's truly be my friend?"
The two men regarded each other in increasing dismay as the situation sunk in.
"You recall nothing of all we have been through together?" Faramir asked sadly. "Not even our thought bond?"
Thorongil shook his head.
"Would that not help restore his memory, my lady?" Faramir asked.
"He does not trust either of us sufficiently to lower the barriers in his mind and permit thought sharing," Arwen said sadly. "We must find some other way to help him remember."
"Denethor's son so close a friend I would allow him to share my thoughts/" Thorongil still sounded bewildered.
"Faramir is as dear as a son to you, much as, I believe, you were to his grandsire. It is not really so strange that you are close," said Arwen. "Can you not recall all the happy times you have shared with Eldarion and me?"
Thorongil sadly shook his head. "I have lost over forty years of my life! " he lamented. "I know no one, and my wife is a near stranger to me!"
"You would remember my Uncle Imrahil," said Faramir trying to sound cheerful. "He has aged, but I am certain you would know him."
"Maybe." Thorongil replied absently. "But how can I be King if I cannot remember!"
"Let me think who else would have known you forty four years ago," Arwen said at last. "My brothers, of course."
Thorongil visibly brightened. "My Mother and Halbarad are closest kin to me," he exclaimed. "If we could send for them, maybe I could be healed!"
"Alas!" said Arwen sadly. "I fear both are now beyond the circles of this world."
Aragorn could bear no more. He burst into tears.