Format: short story
Characters: Aragorn, Arwen, Faramir, Elrond, Celebrian
Pairings: Aragorn/Arwen, Elrond/Celebrian
Summary: Aragorn makes an unexpected discovery in the library at Rivendell.
“Maybe, it has been appointed so, that by my loss the kingship of Men may be restored.” - Tolkien
The nights were drawing in and it was already growing dark when Aragorn entered the library. He paused at the threshold for a few moments, his eyes drinking in the familiar room bathed in the welcoming glow of lamplight. How many happy hours he had whiled away here in his youth. Here he had devoured the tales of Kings of old; little knowing that he was their latest scion. Here too, he had perused the “Lay of Lúthien, studying it until he knew every word by heart. Singing that Lay had led him to the maiden who was now his beloved wife.
A rustling of pages startled him out of his reverie and Aragorn realised that he was not alone. Faramir was sitting by the window to catch the last fading rays of the setting sun to augment the light from the lamp that fell across the page he was reading.
Not wishing to startle his friend too much, Aragorn coughed.
Faramir looked up and smiled. “I just wished to finish this account of Lady Yavanna’s travels in Middle-earth before suppertime,” he said. “I hope Éowyn is not angry with me.”
“I left her in the nursery playing with the children and talking to Arwen,” said Aragorn. “You still have an hour before suppertime.”
Faramir sighed with relief. “It is easy to lose track of time in this magnificent library,” he said.
“I shall leave you to your reading,” said Aragorn. “I came to look for one of Master Elrond’s books that I do not have a copy of, “Healing Diseases of the Spirit. I recall seeing the title in my youth. I asked Glorfindel if it were still here. He said it should be, but he doubted if it had been read in centuries.”
“Maybe Master Elrond felt the lore had failed him when Lady Celebrian sailed?” said Faramir.
“Perhaps,” said Aragorn. “He never chose to study it with me. I hope it might help me better treat the wounded spirits of my fellow men.” He took up a lamp from the table and went over to the section of the library where the healing books were kept. The volume he sought was on the top shelf and although free of dust, smelt musty when he lifted it down. He carried it over to a desk beside Faramir’s. “I will look through it before deciding whether I should take it back to Minas Tirith with me or not.”
He began the turn the pages and noticed a loose sheet of parchment nestled between them. It was in Master Elrond’s familiar handwriting. He began to read.
“My dearest Celebrian,
I know it is unlikely that you will ever receive this unless one of my household chooses to sail soon, which does not seem likely.
I feel, though, I must share with you the tidings I received today, as my heart is heavy- burdened with grief. Maybe you can sense my sorrow on the distant shore where you now dwell.
My beloved, today I learned that our daughter has chosen a mortal life with one of my foster sons, Aragorn son of Arathorn. They have plighted their troth to one another, and are determined to be wed, though I have told Aragorn he cannot have her hand until he can make her Queen of both Arnor and Gondor.
I can see you smiling at me and saying that will never come to pass and our beloved daughter is safe, yet my foresight tells me that it might well come to be. Despite my anger at Arathorn’s son in desiring to take our daughter from us, I cannot deny that he is exceptionable amongst the children of Men, like unto Elendil, or even my beloved brother, Elros. He is mighty with the sword, yet can be as gentle as a dove. He is elven wise and had the hands of a healer. I fostered him since he was two years old and gave him the name of “Estel”.
I blame myself for this ill- starred romance. Since you sailed, Arwen has not been happy in Imladris and has spent much of her time with your parents. I wrote and asked her to return, though, as I missed her and she arrived home just as Aragorn came of age. As soon as he espied her, his heart was lost to her.
I can hear you laughing now, my love. After all, he is far from the first heir of Isildur to fall in love with our daughter. Remember Arahael and the tuneless serenades he used to sing beneath Arwen’s window? I hoped Estel’s infatuation would be as short lived, though maybe my foresight knew even then, as I did not urge the boy to seek a bride from his own people.
Arwen became sad and thoughtful after Estel declared his love for our daughter and soon returned to Lothlórien. It was there, thirty years or so later that she encountered Estel again.
For reasons, I cannot understand, your mother favoured his suit, and Arwen admitted that she shared Estel’s feelings and consented to become his wife.
How I wish now that Arwen had sailed with you and never set eyes upon Aragorn son of Arathorn!
Yet, as I set these thoughts down on parchment, I find my anger is turning to sorrow. How can I be angry towards a man I love as my own son? Were he not destined to receive Eru’s Gift, I could desire no better husband for Arwen. As for our daughter, she is truly happy for the first time since you sailed.
My heart is so torn, I desire our daughter’s happiness, but must it be at the cost of our eternal separation?
Yet, is this union a part of the great music, something that must be to fulfil our Creator’s plan for the Children of Ilúvatar?
I grow weary of Middle-earth and its sorrows, my love. My foresight tells me that this Age will not long endure and then my work here will be done. But how can I join you without our beloved daughter? I wish---
The writing ended abruptly with stains on the parchment that looked like tear drops. Aragorn’s own tears began to fall and mingled with those shed long ago by his foster father.
“What ails you, mellon nîn?”
Aragorn felt Faramir’s hand on his shoulder and heard the concern in his friend’s voice. Unable to trust himself to speak, he thrust the parchment into Faramir’s hands. He struggled to compose himself while Faramir read Elrond’s words. “I suppose I should not have read this,” he said at last.
“You could not resist a final message from your foster father even if meant for another’s eyes,” said Faramir. “I can well understand.”
“I caused him so much pain,” said Aragorn. He wiped his hand across his eyes.
“You did not intend to,” said Faramir. “How can one help falling in love? I always intended to marry a learned lady from Gondor, but once I met Éowyn, my heart was lost. I could no more not love her than tell my heart not to beat.”
Aragorn nodded. “I felt thus about Arwen since I first beheld her beneath the birches here. My love caused so much sorrow, though!”
“Do not forget it also caused much joy. Master Elrond himself admitted that you made his daughter happy,” said Faramir. He patted Aragorn’s shoulder again. “Please, my friend, do not distress yourself. It is obvious from this letter that Master Elrond loved you and knew you were worthy to wed his daughter.”
“Estel, are you there? It is supper time.” Arwen called as her head appeared round the door. When she espied her husband, her eyes lit up.
“I am coming, vanimelda.” Aragorn forced himself to smile.
“You look sad, my love.”
“I was reminded of past sorrows, but how can I be sad with you beside me?” Aragorn replaced the parchment in the book and returned it to the shelf. He would decide if he needed the volume another day and whether to show Arwen the letter or not. This visit to her childhood home had made her somewhat melancholy and he had no wish to lower her spirits further.
“Éowyn is waiting for you too, Faramir,” said Arwen.
The King and the Steward followed her as she led the way to the Hall of Fire. A minstrel was playing a haunting bittersweet melody as they entered. It suited Aragorn’s mood perfectly.
Arwen took his hand and looked into his eyes. Her gaze was filled with love. Even after all these years, it still made his heart soar. Truly, they were destined for one another, maybe since the first notes of the Great Music of Creation sounded.