'The Greatest Reward'

A short story connected to Estel

So suddenly, so strange Life wakes you up Things change Flashback

          Arwen clenched her brother's hand.  Elrohir watched with worry, every now and then glancing to his brother who acted as the physician.  The tenseness was becoming palpable.  A loud wail made them all sigh with relief.  Arwen breathed in quickly, a smile lighting her sweaty face.  Elrohir smiled down at her, gently brushing away her sweaty hair.  His heart suddenly fell to anguish.  One gray hair had just spoiled his day.  Elladan grinned at them.

          " Boy."

Arwen smiled up at her brothers.

          " Ada would have been so proud," she said softly.

          " He would have," Elladan leaned over, giving her forehead a quick kiss.

          The beautiful baby boy opened its mouth, before closing it contentedly to sleep.  Elladan smiled at it for a moment, before handing it to his sister. 

          " Come on, Elrohir.  Aragorn will want to know, naturally."

          " If he is awake yet," Elrohir chuckled.

Aragorn had pulled a typical father-to-be fainting stunt.

          " I feel sorry for Legolas, leaving him with Estel," Elladan chuckled.

          " He will never forgive us."

          Aragorn jumped to his feet as soon as he saw them, but was jerked back down.  The twins had to laugh at the rope binding Aragorn's wrist to a pillar beside the chair.  Legolas looked up from his braiding of another.

          " I was going crazy with his pacing."

Aragorn was impatiently waiting.

          " Boy," Elladan reported, " You can go inside."

Aragorn pushed by to his precious wife. Elladan touched his brother's shoulder.

          " In the midst of all this joy, you are still sad."

Elrohir shook his head.

          " She has begun to fade."

~*~

          Aragorn crouched beside Arwen.  He gently kissed her before moving the blanket so he could see the baby's face better.

          " He looks like you.  I bet he will have gold eyes," Arwen said softly of the babe suckling at her breast.

Aragorn's eyes brightened and then shadowed, catching a glimpse of the gray hair also

*Even on this day of happiness, our mortality is made brutally known.  How things change.

End Flashback

          Arwen nudged her husband.  Her hair now bore only a few more gray strands and the years showed barely on her glowing skin.  Aragorn glanced at her questioningly, coming from the memories.

          " Eldarion, our son, now has his own."

Aragorn nodded with a smile.  He stood to congratulate his son.  His own time was drawing to a close.  He felt it, just as he felt the wind on his face.

~*~

I've done my best

I've served my call

I thought I had it all

          Arwen lay beside him. Aragorn stroked her hair gently, as to not wake her.  She was still so beautiful.  He kissed her temple.

*Was this how Nana felt in her last days?

He sighed

*I have lived long and well. The sceptre shall pass to Eldarion.

~*~

So suddenly, so strong My prejudice was gone

You needed me

I found my place

I'm different now these days

          Arwen watched her husband.  He was so tired as of late, as if a heavy burden threatened to break his shoulders.  Gray lined almost every strand of his hair, but the gold crown sat regally upon the silver.  Few wrinkles lined his weary face, for it was his eyes, his weary, aged eyes that told his age.  Arwen smiled, becoming nostalgic for a moment.  He still was as handsome as the day they had met.

*I am so blessed with him.  We have many more years together before our doom is dealt.

~*~

Now the greatest reward

Is the light in your eyes

The sound of your voice

And the touch of your hand

You made me who I am

          Aragorn looked towards Lorien.  The woods were silent now, he knew, most of the Elves having left these shores.  He could count the remaining Elves he knew of on his fingers.  He glanced back at the footsteps and beheld a silent Elrohir.

          " Estel."

Aragorn turned fully with a heavy sigh and a nod.

          " It is time.  You are leaving."

Elrohir nodded.

          " We are taking Elladan with us.  Only Legolas is remaining."

Aragorn nodded.  He knew Legolas would stay until his end.  Aragorn opened his mouth and then closed it, unsure of what to say.

          " Tell, tell Ada, he was sorely missed.  Would you do that for me?"

Elrohir nodded.

          " I know you feel your end."

Aragorn nodded.

          " I am old, Elrohir.  I can feel it.  I am staying as long as I can for her, but some things I cannot control fully.  I do not want to leave her."

Elrohir crossed the area, hugging his foster brother.

          " Elladan would do the same, if he knew we were leaving," Elrohir said softly, pulling back, " You were our brother; and you always will be."

Aragorn swallowed, sighing with a slight sniff.  Elrohir touched Aragorn's shoulder.

          " May Varda bless you."

There were no stars the night the last of Elrond's children passed from Arda's borders.

~*~

          Arwen hugged her husband's waist, watching their eldest play with his new son.

          " He is like you when he was born."

Aragorn nodded.  He leaned down, kissing her softly.  Arwen searched his eyes for the reason.

          " I love you," he said softly.

Arwen smiled at him, though her eyes were still dark with confusion.

          " Why this all the sudden?"

Aragorn shrugged.

          " I just did not remember saying that to you today."

Arwen leaned into him more, as they began a slow and leisurely walk around the gardens.

~*~

You trusted me to grow

I gave my heart to show

There's nothing else

I cherish more

I stand by you

For sure

          Arwen fingered the Undómiel necklace hanging on Aragorn's dresser.  She closed her eyes with a dreamy sigh remembering the night she had given it to him, so long ago.

Flashback

            They crossed the bridge laughing.  Arwen pulled on his hand to prevent him from going further.  She motioned to the place.  Aragorn looked around, his gold eyes lighting up.  The white beeches were the same ones he had called to her thinking her Lúthien so long ago.  Arwen moved closer to him, capturing his attention.           

" Renich i lú i erui govannen (Do you remember when we first met)?"

Aragorn smiled a little in remembrance, drawing her hands closer.

" Nauthannen i ned ôl reniannen (I thought I had strayed into a dream)."

Arwen's lips turned up a little.  She looked up, eyes catching every feature.  She gently brushed away a piece of his soft dark waves.

" Gwenwin in enninath. Ú-'arnech in naeth i si celich (Long years have passed. You did

not wear the troubles you carry now)."  She looked up almost hesitantly, " Renech i beth i pennen (Do you remember what I told you)?"

          Aragorn turned his eyes to the bright and shining Evenstar charm gleaming upon her chest.  His fingers brushed over it and he looked up, almost longingly.

"You said you'd bind yourself to me, forsaking the immortal life of your people."

          Arwen caught his eyes again, misleading him as she quickly removed the necklace.  He turned his hand back, when her hands tugged on his.

"And to that I hold. I would rather share one lifetime with you, than face all the Ages of this

world alone."

Aragorn's eyes turned down, feeling something cool in his hand.  He slowly opened his hand and then looked up quickly with a shake of a head.  He began to open his mouth, but she shook her head.

" I choose a mortal life."

Aragorn shook his head, with a hint of desperation.  Arwen's lips lifted a little.  She could see how he wished he could accept it.  Elrond had been watching them closely lately.  Arwen believed he sensed she wished to give Estel her gift.

" You cannot give me this," Aragorn tried to put it back in her hands.

Arwen stilled his hands, shaking her head.  She pushed it back towards his heart.

" It is mine to give to whom I will. Like my heart."

Arwen believed she had never loved him more than at the moment he put it around his neck.  He pulled her close, his thoughts resonating in her mind.

*True love is giving up everything for the sake of the other.  I hope, no, I know I would do the same, were the tables turned, Nightingale.

End Flashback

          Arwen sighed, staring at herself in the mirror, and then gazing at the young likeness of her in the portrait nearby.

*What I paid for love.

She touched her aging skin and hair, never once noticing Aragorn in the doorway or feeling his anguish as his heart broke.

*Ada was right.  Twas as he said.  She will find the Doom of Man hard to take.

~*~

Now the greatest reward

Is the love that I can give

I'm here for you now

For as long as you live

You made me who I am

          Aragorn gave the sceptre to his son.  Eldarion took it, looking up quickly and almost fearfully.

          " Adar?"

Aragorn hated his son's almost betrayed look.

          " You are well," there was an underlying question.

          " It is time for your rule to begin, my son.  Tis time for you to take a turn at this king business."

Eldarion nodded.

          " I thank thee, Adar."

          Aragorn took a deep breath as he stepped down from the throne, just as Arwen stepped in.  She glanced between her son and him confused.  What had just happened?  It was then she noticed the cane that helped her husband stay upright.  Haggardness seemed to eat away at him.  Arwen quickly swept in, her gown swishing musically, as she leant an arm of support to her husband.  He looked up thankfully.

          " Come to bed.  You look unwell."

*I feel unwell, but only eternal rest can solve this.

Aragorn shook his head.  Air was not coming easily anymore.

          " Walk with me?"

          Arwen intertwined her fingers with his.  She could not understand his strange behavior.

          " I love you, Estel.  Even though we are both old and feeble, I do not and never will regret my decision."

Aragorn gently kissed her.  Arwen could feel his strength leaving and pulled back, afraid the simple kiss was pulling him away from her.

          " Aragorn, please, you need to rest."

His lips protruded and eyes widened a little.

          " Please?"

She finally let his go on, allowing him to lead down the silent and deserted hallway.

~*~

So suddenly It's clear to me

          Arwen suddenly realized where they were: the House of the King's in the Silent Street.  She shook her head.  This was a place for the dead, not living.  She stopped him.

          " Estel?"

Aragorn's haggardness had only grown thrice fold in the minutes.  He had come to lean on her and the cane almost desperately.  She let him finally sit, and then lie down before she realized he lay upon the long bed of death.

          " What are you doing?" her voice rose is near hysteria, " I am not yet weary.  You cannot leave me."

          Aragorn caressed her face.

          " Why you chose me over life, I will never know, but I thanked Eru for it every day."

Arwen held his hand to her face, the tears streaming when she closed her eyes for a second.  He was saying good-bye.

Our future lies In here and now

We made it through

Somehow

          " I can speak no comfort, lady, for the gift of life, I can give back.  You may still go and repent and sail West with Legolas, or abide with I under the Doom of Man."

Arwen clenched his hand, her tears now falling like the spring rain.  He was forsaking her fully for the first time in their long relationship.

          " I will remain under your doom, but i pity the race of men.  For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, a gift of the One to men, it is bitter to receive (Tolkien, Appendix A)," Arwen's voice was bitter and full of discord.

Aragorn's breath hitched and Arwen let out a half-sob.  She was going to watch his die.

          " Estel, please," she whispered.

          Aragorn kissed her hand.

          " May we meet again, Nightingale.  Le garch hûn-nin (You have my heart)."

Arwen sighed, her shoulders shaking at the familiar phrase.  He was waiting for her answer before he could go.

          " Do not make me say it."

          " Arwen, I am so tired," Aragorn whispered.

Arwen swallowed.

          " A le garch habar (And you have mine)."

Aragorn touched her face one last time.  He withdrew his hand to his chest and closed his eyes, giving up his spirit.

          " Estel?" Arwen whispered.

She leaned over him, taking his still warm hand.  Her soul was wrenched from her.

          " No."

The mournful wail echoed through the halls, leaving an unquenchable chill and sense of sorrow in whoever heard.  Feet came clamoring and Legolas flew in, catching the doorway sides to stop.  He paused, his face falling with a defeated sigh.  Arwen leaned over Aragorn, breaking into loud and heart-wrenching sobs.

          " Estel, please, end this cruel joke.  Please, awake."

Legolas crossed the area, searching swiftly for any sign of life.  There was none.  He pulled Arwen into an embrace, laying his chin on her head as she sobbed.  He pressed his lips together, hating to hear her so defeated, and hating it even more that his closest friend now lay dead.  Elrond's sad words came back to him.

          " Promise me you will remain until Aragorn is gone, for maybe then, Arwen will repent.  It is not her lot to die, until all she has gained is lost."

~*~

Now the greatest reward

Is the love that I can give

I'm here for you now

For as long as I live

You made me who I am

          " Will you come to Aman with us?" Legolas asked.

Arwen shook her head.  Legolas sighed, his heart sad for the beautiful Evenstar being so broken and lifeless.

          " Namarië, Legolas.  Tell my father and my mother, my choice I keep.  Tell Ada and Nana, I love them and will miss them, but my place is with him."

Legolas nodded, kissing her cheek.  Arwen watched him go.  She lifted a hand, almost beginning to bid him back, so she could go also, but then stopped.  She turned her head down.  Legolas sailed down the Anduin to the Sea with Gimli Elf friend at his side.

          As to Arwen, she left the House of her family and went to Lothlorien, and was never seen by another mortal.  And when the mallorn leaves were falling, but spring had not yet come, she laid herself to rest upon Cerin Amroth, where she and Aragorn had planned their troth so long ago.

*I come, Estel.

          And all the days of her life are utterly forgotten by Men and never did one in her likeness appear.  Here ends the tale of Aragorn Elessar, son of Arathorn and king of the Dúnedain; and with the passing of the Evenstar, no more is said in the world of men about their lives.

AN: Here are a couple definitions for y'all, if you kinda got confused with the wording.  First of all, let me cite some sources really fast.

Sources

The flashback to the giving of the Undómiel charm is from the movie, I got that from

http://www.dreamwater.net/seatofkings/scripts.html .

And everything else is taken from the ROTK book in Appendix A under the title that reads ' Here follows the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen.'

And the song is 'The Greatest Reward' by Celine Dion.

Clear up info

Ok, The Doom of Man, that is simply death.  As to Aragorn, he was allowed the gift to give up his spirit when he wanted to.  Arwen was not.  Elrond foretold a lot about his daughter and her doom.  If you see the Two Towers, you will notice that in a scene or two.  Especially one.  It is a wonderful foreshadow.  Anyways, I hope everything is clear.