Author Name: Linda Hoyland
Summary: Aragorn embarks on his final journey.
Author's Notes: WARNING– Character death
Aragorn closed his eyes and tried not to feel afraid now the time had come. He had never acted the coward in his life and was determined not to die like one. Beside him, Arwen’s anguished weeping tore at his heart. It would be so easy to choose to live out what few days or weeks remained to him at her side. He was certain, though; she would weep even more bitterly if she were forced to witness him growing more infirm with each day that passed.
He took a deep breath and said inwardly. “Eru, Ilúvatar, I thank you for the Gift of my life. I now freely and willingly return it into your keeping.”
He felt a tugging sensation within him, not painful but strange. He felt as if he were being pulled through a tunnel at great speed. The pain in his aging body melted away. He felt as if he were casting aside a broken, empty shell. Suddenly, Aragorn felt as light as air. He wanted to reassure Arwen and to tell her that all was well, but her weeping now sounded faint and far away.
He opened his eyes and found he was standing on the seashore, if ‘standing’ was quite the right word, as his body now had no weight or substance. He looked down at himself and saw that he still appeared to have a bodily form, that of a man in his prime.
A small boat suddenly appeared and glided to the shore, seemingly driven by the breeze. Three figures leapt ashore and ran towards him. Aragorn’s spirits soared when he recognised his mother, Halbarad and Faramir. Of all the folk, he had loved and lost over the years, these three he missed the most. They hastened to embrace him, though it was with their souls rather than their arms. He felt bathed in love in its purest essence.
“Welcome home, my son,” said Gilraen. “Long have I desired to tell you how proud you have made me. You were indeed the hope of your people and more. Your father is so proud of you to. He is waiting to greet you on the far shore.”
Aragorn regarded her joyfully. His heart had always ached that she had never seen him become King and heaped the honours upon her that she richly deserved. His last parting with her and seeing her so aged and careworn had almost broken his heart. Now she appeared as he remembered her from his boyhood, young and fair.
Halbarad grinned at him. He too appeared as when they first met, a hale young man.
“It saddened my heart greatly that you too never saw me crowned,” said Aragorn. “You gave your life for me.”
“It was my doom,” said Halbarad. “Never did I regret offering my life for my King.”
Aragorn turned then to Faramir, who also appeared as a young man in his prime. “I have missed you greatly, old friend,” he said. “Long life is a mixed blessing when you outlive so many who are dear to you.”
“They all await you,” said Faramir. “Éomer and Éowyn, my grandsire, the Hobbits and many of your Rangers. All those who have gone before you will see again soon. We tarry here too long now. It is time to depart.” He beckoned towards the boat. A glorious golden light appeared on the horizon.”
Aragorn hesitated. “What of Arwen? I fear she will not long endure our separation.”
“She must breathe the air of Arda a little longer,” said Faramir. “You shall be able to return to welcome her when the time is right. It will not seem long. Time passes differently in this realm.”
“You always spoke the truth to me, my friend,” said Aragorn. “I will come.” He allowed his companions to help him into the boat.
As soon as they were all seated, a strong yet gentle breeze arose and drew the small craft across the furthest horizon and into the light beyond.