By any Other Name
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet." Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
Disclaimer - These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
For a few moments Gilraen had no idea where she was. The soft linen sheets felt unfamiliar, as did the distant sound of rushing water. Then she remembered. Arathorn was dead, and with him her old life. Suddenly terrified, she glanced down to reassure herself that her child had not been snatched away too. Little Aragorn slumbered peacefully, exhausted from the journey the day before and oblivious to the loss of all he had known.
There was alight tap on the door and a maidservant entered .She smiled reassuringly at Gilraen. "Good morning, mistress," she said. "I hope you have slept well. I have brought you some breakfast and hot water to wash in. When you are ready, Master Elrond would like to see you and your child."
Gilraen thanked her politely. Truth to tell she had little appetite and could only nibble at the soft white bread and selection of fruits elegantly arranged on a large tray. Aragorn then awoke and stared wide eyed at his surroundings, sucking his thumb. Gilraen forced herself to concentrate on practical matters .Her child was hungry and needed his mother.
After giving her son his breakfast, Gilraen prepared herself and the boy for the meeting with their host and protector. As the Chieftain's wife, she had briefly met Master Elrond at her wedding ceremony and on the occasion when her child was brought before the people and named. Her husband had often spoken of Rivendell and its lord with great affection and fondly recalled the education he had received there. He had looked forward to their child one day doing the same. Gilraen had not wanted to think about her child going away. The three of them together had been so happy. Master Elrond had spoken to her kindly,but he was a great and ancient lore master whom she held in awe.
The lore master himself tapped on her door and interrupted her musings. She bade him enter.
"I am grieved to learn of your loss. Arathorn was a good man."
Gilraen inclined her head not trusting herself to speak.
"And this is your son? How swiftly the children of Men grow!"
Aragorn looked up from playing with the toy she had snatched up to bring with them the day before and then returned to his game.
"I hope you find these rooms comfortable?"
"They are most luxurious, Master Elrond."
"Do not fear to ask for anything you need, Mistress Gilraen. This is after all your home now."
"You are kind to offer us shelter until the danger is past."
"My brother's kin have ever been dear to my heart." Elrond said warmly. His expression became grave as he continued. "I fear the Enemy grows ever stronger. He has not forgotten the part Elendil and Isildur played in his downfall, alas, and seeks relentlessly to destroy any of their line. I would not wish to frighten you, mistress, but the danger is very great."
Gilraen lost what little colour she had. "Surely my child is safe here?"
"He will be, but none must know that Arathorn's heir lives. Rumours must be put abroad that the child perished from a fever."
"That would break my parents' hearts!" Gilraen protested.
"My sons will see that they know the truth," Elrond reassured her. "The first thing we must do, though, is change the boy's name."
"Change his name?" Gilraen could not hold back her indignation. "Aragorn holds a noble name that my husband and I bestowed upon him. It is who he is!"
"And he will always bear that name. It must simply never be spoken aloud, at least not until he comes of age."
"And what then am I to call my baby? How will he know when I am addressing him if I call him by a name other than his own?"
"Do you not sometimes call him, "my child" or "my son" or "dearest one"? Those names you can call him still. But we must think of a name other than "Aragorn" for him."
Gilraen looked sadly towards her son who was now engrossed in pulling his toy horse across the thick carpet. "When Arathorn desired my hand in marriage, my mother was eager that we should wed so that "hope might be born for our people" ,but what hope is there now? My husband is slain and my babe fatherless and in grave peril!"
"Yet hope there might yet beyond the darkness and despite all odds against it," said Elrond. "I suggest we name the child, Estel – Hope."
Aragorn suddenly tired of his game and came over to his mother and pulled at her skirts, smiling at her with sparkling grey eyes - Arathorn's eyes. Gilraen's aching heart suddenly felt less heavy. She lifted the child on to her lap and said. "Very well, he shall be "Estel", my hope for now and maybe in the future, the hope of his people.
A/n Written for the Teitho "Names" Contest.