Title: 'La Belle Dame sans Merci'
Author: Anna Rousseau annadelamico@yahoo.co.uk
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Genre: Romance
Pairing: Arwen/Aragorn
Rating: PG
Cannon: Based on Tolkien's works, and follows (but not in much depth) my previous series 'The Return to Torech Ungol'.
Set: After the War of the Ring, in the 6th year of the Fourth Age, 1426 in the Shire Reckoning, and one month after the fight for Minas Ithil.

Summary: Based loosely around Keats's 'La Belle Dame sans Merci'; I am seriously mixing my literary genres, but please cut me some slack as I am recovering from the intellectual exhaustion of my Oxford interview at Christmas... but now I have to be extra careful when writing LotR fic as Tolkien may come back and haunt me at University.

Extra little note: I feel like writing a little flufflette - light on the sickly sweet, but a gentle fic, as after waiting around all those years I think dear old Arwen and Aragorn need a little light relief... and in addition to that, this is my first fic since August 2002, so I'm trying to get my swing back without having to work out the intrcities of a plot

Interpretation: I adore this poem, and every time I read it, 'La Belle Dame sans Merci' (The Fair Lady of No Mercy) takes on an extra layer of meaning. Read into it what you will, as it is in many ways an expression of Arwen and Aragorn's tale. Just enjoy.


The River Anduin shimmered as the scales on a shoal of fish weaving through the Western seas as the last rays of Midsummer's day fell across the tall grasses which surrounded Minas Tirith like a ship in a calm ocean.

From the Tower of Ecthelion, the black standard bearing the White Tree, the High Crown of Númenor and the seven stars of the Valar was caught by the gentle breeze blowing from the Bay of Belfalas.

From the casement of his bedchamber the King of Gondor looked across his lands, his mind troubled by news from the South and his shoulder aching with the memory of a battle wound. His weary face was only soothed by the briney breeze afforded by Ulmo as he leant from the window, his hand gripping a stone column, steadying his body as his hair was tossed as a fishing boat upon the sea.

"O what can ail thee Knight at arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the Lake
And no birds sing."

Aragorn turned and beheld his wife, her hair falling loosely as silk over her shoulders, with a light in her fair face which reflected upon his own as her words reverberated in his chest. She entered their chamber and closed the heavy door to, her footsteps as light as those of a deer and her movements as fluid as the layers of fine silver-blue silks which were wrapped about her body.

"O what can ail thee Knight at arms,
So haggard, and so woe begone?
The Squirrel's granary is full
And the Harvest's done."

Arwen approached him and lay the back of her fingers on his cheek, her touch as light as the wind that blew through the window, cooling the heat of the day which was almost spent.

"I see a lilly on thy brow
With anguish moist and fever dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too."

Arwen smiled at her husband as she ran her fingers gently along his jawline, her eyes trying to percieve his troubles. His eyes, though tired from battle, by sword and by politics, lit at her caress as he saw in the depths of her obsidian pupils the light of the stars of the Valar, and felt once more silence in his mind.

Silence filled the room, and it seemed as if even the larks in the summer sky had ceased their song as the royal couple stood in contemplation of the moment in which they remained still. About the citadel the fields of grasses were stained as blood by the setting of the sun in the West across the Sea. Arwen turned her head and gazed along the lenth of the Great River, her keen eyes following its path to the sea, from where the breeze that fell upon their faces blew, bringing the faint murmer of Elven song which only she could hear.

Aragorn took Arwen's hand in his own and planted a light kiss upon it before his voice came forth as the rumour of thunder on distant plains, drawing her towards his chest in a warm embrace, his fingers caressing her hair, drawing it away from her face so he could better see her features in the failing light.

"I met a Lady in the meads
Full beautiful, a faery's child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light..."

He placed his hands about her face, tracing her cheekbones before closing her eyes gently and smiling as he watched her rosy lips turn upwards in amusement.

"...And her eyes were wild."

Arwen was drawn from her reverie and her laughter soon carried forth as the sound of bells upon a clear morning as Aragorn alluded to her tempestuous disposition, and his own soft chuckles joined swiftly. Once their laughter had subsided, Aragorn took her hands and traced a line about each wrist as he gazed upon her closed eyes, her eyelashes beating as the winds of a butterfly upon her cheekbones.

"I made a Garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant Zone;
She look'd at me as she did love..."

Arwen's eyelids fluttered open, her dark eyes catching his of grey, before she pressed her fingers to his lips. Aragorn drew her close, moving his mouth from her fingertips to hover above her cheek, then above her lips, before they came to rest over her pale neck, his breath warm and fast upon her skin before he lightly kissed her.

Aragorn smiled against Arwen's skin as she let out a gentle sigh. He slowly moved his lips to her Elven ear, running his lips over her shell-like skin, whispering, "...And made sweet moan."

Her lips started to tremble with a suppressed laugh and Aragorn drew away, an eyebrow raised at her response. In reply, she took his hands and placed them securely about her waist, before lifting up her chin to catch his lips in a prolonged and leisurely kiss as he drew her closer by the folds of her dress.

Suddenly, Aragorn raised her from the ground and lifted her away from the window, carrying her without effort to the bed. He set her down upon the edge on top of fresh linen, her skirts tossed gently by the breeze. He clambered onto the bed behind her, wrapping his arms over her shoulders as if they were riding together on Hasufel through the secluded glens of Arda Estel. They smiled together as he pressed kisses to the back of her neck, his hands lightly tracing her collarbone as he once agin continued their ballad.

"I set her on my pacing steed
And nothing else saw all day long;
For sidelong would she bend and sing
A faery's song."

Arwen lent against Aragorn's warm chest and tilted her head back to look into his eyes as he forgot his duties and now though solely of his beloved and dearest. Tinuviel he had called her on their first meeting as he had walked, young in years through the forests of Rivendell, a song on his lips and none of the troubles he had carried in his later years resting on his mind. Her song had been as enchanting as that of Lúthien, for they shared the same lineage, as did Aragorn and Tinuviel's beloved Beren the Mortal. Now still, song came forth from Arwen's lips as she looked into Aragorn's eyes, her voice echoing through her body like the whisper of stars in the night sky.

"She found me roots of relish sweet
And honey wild and manna dew;
And said in language strange she said -
I love thee true."

Then she did in Elvish tounge say those words again to her mortal beloved as she had once upon Cerin Amroth amongst the Elanor; and he did then kiss his immortal beloved as he had once done in Lothlórien amongst the mallorn trees.

"She took me to her Elfin grot,
And there she wept and sigh'd full sore;
And there I shut her wild... wild eyes..."

Aragorn gently took Arwen's shoulders and pressed her back onto the bed , his body arched over hers as he bent to place light kisses upon her eyes.

"...With kisses four."

He then took her mouth with his own lips and kissed her with the fervent passion of one who has longed for many years for the unattainable. Arwen ran her hands up his arms and then rested them under his cotton shirt upon the warmth of his back, pulling him down upon her body as he ran his fingers through her dark, dark hair.

When their lips parted, Aragorn propped himself upon his elbow and looked at his wife's face intently as he traced with his fingertips a line from her neck to her breastbone, his fingers feeling numb with the sensation of the etheral material of her Elven dress.

"And there she lulled me to sleep,
And there I dream'd. Ah Woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream
On the cold hill side."

Arwen gazed back at him, her eyes troubled by the history his words expressed.

"I saw pale Kings, and Princes too,
Pale warriors, death pale were they all;
They cried, 'La Belle Dame sans Merci
Thee hath in thrall!'"

And then Arwen saw in Aragorn's eyes a warmth of deep devotion born of years of his heart being in thrall of her love for him.

"I saw their starv'd lips in the gloam
With horrid warning gaped wide..."

Aragorn's tone unexpectedly became lighter and he pressed a kiss to Arwen's cheek with a gentle smile,

"And I awoke, and found me here
On the cold hill's side.

And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the Lake,
And no birds sing."

The last word was a mere whisper, and once it had left his lips, Arwen smiled at her husband, sitting to lean over him, locks of her hair surrounding his face as the curtain of a waterfall. His hand reached up to her neck and she ran her hand over the scar on his shoulder, feeling warmth there where once was deathly cold.

Arwen lowered her head, taking Aragorn's lower lip between hers, feeling the pressure of his hand as it ran the length of her body to her lower back, drawing her body to his as they kissed, recalling the bittersweet doom of their union; fair Elf maiden and tall King of Men, bound by their denunciation of the Darkness and their acceptance of a fate which had demanded a risk of all for the reward of a brief time of contentment.

The rays of the Midsummer sun faded into night, and the light of the stars fell upon their bodies as they lay entwined as those whose doom did not confine their soul to the Circles of the World.

Please review, I'm very hungry for them, as this is my first piece of romance-centric fic, and I am only daring to cater for the PG rating at this present time.