Format: short story
Characters: Aragorn, OFC
Summary: A young girl discovers a hidden refuge
These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
Miriel discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house. It led to a beautiful secluded garden, filled with trees and flowers of every variety, many of which she had never seen before. Sometimes she had espied in the distance, a tall man and a beautiful woman walking along the paths, but had managed to successfully conceal herself and her presence remained unnoticed.
When the days grew longer, she spent increasing amounts of time there. It was easy enough to slip away, by telling her parents or her maid that she wished to be alone in room to study. As the daughter of a minor noble, she wearied of forever being told to remember her station in life or listen to her parents debating how best they might catch the eye of the King. She had not seen him, nor did she want to.
Even worse, they were already planning whom she might marry in the fullness of time. When she complained to her mother that it was unfair that she was not allowed to choose for herself; her mother had replied, “Such is the lot of those of the nobility, my child. Your father and I had our marriage arranged by our parents. Love grew after between us, as little might be thought, though, and we have been happy enough, as you will be too. When you are older, you will feel differently.” With that, she had to be content and hope that it would be so.
Miriel was too young to have much interest in affairs of state, though sometimes she thought it unfair that Lord Faramir was not ruling Steward like his father before him.
One fine spring day, she made her way through the hidden door. Her heart was light and she sang to herself, a half remembered ballad that she had heard a minstrel sing at a feast. It was about songs echoing in the distance like the sound of windmills going round. Miriel thought it a strange song, as windmills hardly made a melodic sound, but the tune was haunting.
She was so engrossed in her song that she did not notice the approach of stealthy footsteps. She screamed as the tall man appeared in front of her. She turned to flee, but he gripped her arm, not roughly, but too firmly for her to escape.
“So I have caught our intruder at last!” the man said.
“I am sorry, sir,” Miriel stammered, flushing bright red.
“You are trespassing in the King’s private garden,” the man replied. “How did you get in?”
“I found a concealed door in the wall,” said Miriel. “I didn’t do any harm. Why should the King have such a lovely garden all to himself? Is it not enough that he has taken Gondor from our Lord Faramir! And who is this Elessar, the King of the wild northlands?”
The man laughed. “You would make a poor courtier, lass. The King is now King of both Arnor and Gondor, but before that, he was no king, but the Chieftain of the Rangers, the sixteenth in line since Aranath, and directly descended from Elendil himself. As for Lord Faramir, you should ask him, young lady, before making assumptions! You have not told me yet, though, why you are in the King’s private garden?” He gestured towards a bench.
Miriel sat down and the man sat on the other side of the bench. She was strangely unafraid of him, though she had often been warned against talking to strange men and he had caught her trespassing. There was something in those grey eyes that made her instinctively trust him. She found herself pouring out her heart and telling him how bored, and how lonely she felt, passing her days in idle pursuits while awaiting a good match to be found for her and listening to her parents’ dreams of finding favour with the king.
The man listened without interrupting her.
Another man approached in the uniform of a guard. “So this is the intruder, sire?” he said.
“She came through a concealed gate in the wall,” said the tall man. “It will have to be blocked off. Other more dangerous trespassers could come upon it and pose a threat to my lady.”
“What shall we do with the girl?”
“I will deal with her. You may leave us.”
Miriel felt utterly dejected and frightened too. No longer would she be able to walk in this lovely garden, but it seemed that the kindly seeming man was an official of some sort. At the very least, he would complain to her parents about her conduct. Their dreams of getting to know the King would never be realised now.
“You look downcast, lass. And what is your name?”
“I am Miriel, sir. I shall miss walking in this garden; though I’m sorry I trespassed.”
“No doubt it can be arranged that you may walk here sometimes, Miriel,” said the man. “You are an interesting young woman, different from most of those I have encountered here. How would you like to be one of the Queen’s maids of honour when you are a little older?”
“I should like that very much, sir, but she does not know me.”
“I shall tell her about you.”
“You know her well, sir?”
The tall man threw back his head and laughed. “I hope I do, I am her husband!”
“You are the King!” Miriel flushed scarlet and sank to her knees. “I’m sorry, I had no idea. I did not mean to offend you, sire.”
The King offered her his arm and gently raised her to her feet. “Do not look so troubled, lass. I enjoy it when my subjects speak freely. I am sure you are exactly the sort of maid of honour whose company, my lady would enjoy.”
Miriel beamed at him. The future,. which only moments ago had seemed so bleak, was now filled with hope
“I should have to ask my parents, sire. If I may, I will return home now.”
The King grinned almost roguishly. “Your parents greatly desire an audience with me, you said?”
“Then I will come with you.”