MIRROR, MIRROR BY ASHA DREAMWEAVER
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot.
Summary: BtVS/LotR. Buffy becomes protector to the motherless Prince of Gondor, but when a murder plot surfaces, Buffy has to flee with the prince. And with a wife hunt for the King starting, what is Buffy to do when she adores the baby? What is Aragorn to do when he realises it? And the shadow of the past haunts the future as the memory of Arwen seems to dog Buffy's steps…
Author's notes: Okay, to those that have read my fics before, hi again! To the newbies, welcome! This is my second Buffy/Aragorn fic and I have started work on this one in an attempt to remedy the drastic shortage of fics with this pairing. With this fic, it brings the numbers up to 2 or 3 I think. (Sighs) Oh well, I suppose the pairing isn't hackneyed at least! During my other fic, "First Knight", no few reviewers have commented on the fic that while searching for this pairing, they couldn't find any other fics so this is my solution. I hope everyone enjoys!
This fic begins with the prologue, which is set in the future, at the end of Aragorn's reign in FA 120. The following chapters are going to be set in the early Fourth Age, so more than a century before the time in this chapter. The following chapters are also going to be longer. This is just to lead you into it. (I'm experimenting!)
PROLOGUE: CHILD OF MINE
Minas Tirith, Gondor, Fourth Age (FA) 120.
Black flags rippled and shook as the wind howled through the city, but the man leaning against the balustrade of the royal apartments seemed to pay it no heed, though it ripped through his hair and its chill penetrated deep into his bones. The new King of the Reunified Kingdom, of Gondor and Arnor, stared out at his city sightlessly and did not stir even when he heard the sound of the door opening.
The tell tale creak was followed by the soft swish of skirts on stone and then a delicate hand rested on his shoulder, "Eldarion," his mother said, "Will you not come in? You are going to freeze out here."
Through his cloud of grief, love pulled him away from his contemplations to look at her. Her gown was the black of mourning, her crown sitting carelessly on her head, eyes red and swollen from tears and face drawn. She looked exhausted and worn and Eldarion felt a pang of guilt go through him. In his own grief, he had not succoured that of his mother's and he immediately vowed to make up for it, the dark shadow of the future that was to come looming heavily in his mind.
Taking her arm, he gently led her into his sitting rooms where a large fire was roaring merrily. Knowing eyes looked at him, seeing his ploy and if times had been less dark, he would have found himself the recipient of a volley of sardonic remarks, but today, she remained silent and allowed him to lead her away, content that her objective was fulfilled and her son was out of the coming storm.
She sat on the chair he offered her, acknowledged his remarks at the steaming tray of food and drink awaiting him but he was conscious that those eyes never left him. "You really should not be outside in this weather," she admonished lightly, leaning back against the chair, "Eldarion, you are king now. I know you miss your father dreadfully; think you that I miss Aragorn any less? But you have taken up your father's throne, you cannot neglect yourself so. I cannot bear it. Please, tell me what ails you. Do not keep all your grief bottled up inside of you. Or am I now too old to spar with you now? Because if I have to shake you out of this stupor, do not think that I won't."
"I would not burden you," he replied, looking pointedly at her wan face and too thin figure, "You would smile to the world if you were dying. Do you really think that I would cause you any more grief?"
A shadow passed across the now Dowager Queen's face when he mentioned death, and he did not miss it or fail to understand its cause, "Your brother and sisters grieve openly," she said softly, "They help each other, crying bouts and all. Your own wife comes to me crying that you are changed and will not tell her anything of it. You are not a little boy anymore Eldarion, but if you continue to act like one, then I will have to keep treating you like one."
"None of them have to be king," Eldarion said bitterly, "My counsellors tell me that I will be a good king, while the country mourns my father. I shall never see him again now, maybe not even when I pass beyond the circles of men, and think you not that I know what you have not yet told me? Please… Tell me the truth. How long will you outlast him? When must I lose you too?"
Tears wetted her swollen eyes, "Oh Eldarion!" she exclaimed and rising from her seat, crossed the room to take him into her arms, even though he dwarfed her now. A tremulous smile formed on her lips, "Eldarion, some things must be. It is just something that happens to everyone. I love Aragorn and I look forward to seeing him again, even if it will not be in this world. I have had a long life, but it was tied to his. I never would have long outlasted him, my son. You just have to let me go. You have your brother and sisters and your wife, and if I am not much mistaken, a child to occupy you soon enough. All things must pass, Eldarion. And there is nothing we can do to stop them. I had to learn that the hard way. I have no wish for you to feel that pain as well."
Tears stubbornly welled up in his stoic face, as he crumbled into his mother's embrace, "I have never been without your counsel…, your love. I do not want to let you go, naneth. Why must you go?"
She cupped his face in her hands, "You were the best thing that ever happened to me," she said firmly, holding his gaze, "I lived my life. All of them. I don't want to die a doddering old woman. It just isn't me." She sighed, "This may have been easier if I had told you the full story a long time ago, Eldarion. I just didn't want to hurt you. You were so little at the time, and cute. Well, whenever you were not causing trouble anyway." She said with sincere fondness, lost in happier times. "But I never really wanted to think of this time either. I doubt you remember any of it, at least none of the details. You were only a little baby."
He reached over to her and took her small hands in his, "Nana?" he said softly, "What do you mean?"
She sighed and gave him a mock glare, "Just because I mentioned doddering doesn't mean that I'm senile yet, my buddy," she said sternly, a flash of her old fire peeping through the black mantle of grief. "It is just a story. One that I think you must know, before I'm gone." He made to protest but she cut him off, "I've outlived most people. I don't regret my choice Eldarion. Sometimes a little peace is kind of nice." She smiled tremulously, "We will see each other again you know, after I'm gone," she said softly, reassuringly, "Believe me, if you start moping, I will come back and haunt you! And just see if anybody can stop me!"
"I can well believe it," Eldarion said, unable to stop himself from being soothed by his mother's presence, "But what is so imperative that you must tell me now?"
She was silent for a moment, but then she looked up, eyes suspiciously bright, "Eldarion," she said softly, "It is time for me to tell you of how I met your father. It's time to tell you of one who has haunted me. It's time someone told you of what really happened to your mother….."
"It was a lot like it is now. Eerily so actually. Black flags flying from every tower, a silent city and a king succumbing to grief." She began, "To be quite honest, it was spooky. I'd never been to Minas Tirith before. I lived out in Emyn Arnen, with the Princess Éowyn. But though that may be where a certain little imp sharing your name entered the story, but it's not where it really began." She stood up, drifting over to study the lines of a map over the fireplace. The leaping flames cast a glow on her pale face, and matched the fire in her eyes, never banked for long. Eldarion remained silent, a sinking feeling growing in the pit of his stomach, and he could only watch her and wonder at what she meant.
She turned to him then, "You don't understand a word, do you?" she said with some amusement, "Don't worry. At the time, neither did I. Out of my depth was a bit of an understatement back then. Don't misunderstand me; I was no green girl if that's what you are imagining. Quite the opposite really. But waking up in the middle of nowhere is never a pleasant business, you see, and my temper was worse then than it is now."
He raised an eyebrow at her last words and she quickly spotted him, "Don't give me that look." She told him, "I wasn't exactly little miss proper back then either. What your advisors would call 'a wild heathen' I think. Well, that's what your father's said back when anyway. But I'm wandering off the point, I was about to tell you exactly how I came to this kingdom. And don't look at me that way, imp, because whatever you're thinking of, you're wrong. Let's just say that I came by roads previously untrod….."
She walked through green fields, blood dripping down slowly, staining the foliage red as she looked at herself in bewilderment. Where was she?
She looked down and winced at the gaping wound in her side but for the life of her she could not remember where she had gotten it. Indeed, a distinct indifference to her predicament seemed to weigh her down, and despite the oddities, she could not bring herself to care. Funny, death had always been so much quicker before, - more definite.
This place seemed on the surface to be like a paradise; blue skies, lush greenery, warm, beautiful but somehow she knew that it was only a façade. This place was… dead. There was no real life here. How she knew it she did not know but she knew it for certain. Trying to cast her mind back to how she got here, she realised that her memory seemed to be clouded with mist. Blurred faces and memories were all that she could grasp at and she nearly panicked when she understood that everything before this moment seemed to be out of her reach. But then something told her to look behind her.
A slender figure appeared on the horizon, clothed in white, with long black hair fluttering in a non existent breeze. The figure came closer and she could see that it was a woman, beautiful beyond reckoning and yet somehow dangerous. She stopped in front of her, and she found herself making ready for… something. Something familiar, but again, she could not remember.
The woman was inhumanly beautiful, her eyes bright and piercing and were those pointed ears? "So you are the latest?" she said after a moment, surveying her, "I admit, I had expected you not to be as bloody as you are. What did you do? Throw yourself onto a sword?"
She did not have a clue who this woman was but Buffy took umbrage to her tone, "Why don't you tell me lady?" she said sharply, "'Cos as far as I can tell, I'm in the middle of nowhere, bleeding like a I don't know what and you're here lecturing me over staining your grass? I think an explanation is in order before I get nasty."
The woman snorted, "Rude too." She remarked, "Tell me, what did I do to get stuck with you?"
"Stuck with me?" Buffy repeated, "Are we in the same little daydream? I'm the one stuck with you!" Unfortunately for her, she nearly fell as she tried to put her hands on her hips and so spoiled the demonstration of righteous fury.
"That remains to be seen," the woman said, "But since you have declined to introduce yourself, my name is Lúthien. As for where you are, you are at your destination. Do you not remember taking the Ghost Roads?"
A vague memory of a grey plain, and the painful whispers and screams of thousands flashed through Buffy's mind, and made her stagger a bit. Her memory seemed in shards…. Angel… something to do with Angel…. The name fell from her lips.
Lúthien studied her quietly while Buffy tried to remember what was so important about Angel, and why she would go anywhere as ominously named as the Ghost Roads. "You do not remember, do you sister?" Lúthien said quietly, her face softening.
"Remember what?" Buffy said, "All I get is glimpses. What's happening? What am I doing here!"
Lúthien reached out to her, catching her as she fell, "Hush child. I had not realised that you would come to me like this. Hush… it will all be well…"
A flash of a familiar face came to Buffy as well as the memory of ramming her sword through his gut and all in a rush; the sorrow came back to her. And the resolve to right it. "Angel…." She said quietly, "I tried to save Angel…."
"And failed." Lúthien said softly, "The Ghost Roads are perilous and though you were cursed, you had passed on your burden. They swarmed you and you veered off the path, into the emptiness, and chance brought you here, Slayer."
Buffy froze at the word and jerked away from her touch, "Who are you?" she repeated shakily, "And how the hell do you know that name?"
"Because I am yours and you are mine." Lúthien said, rising calmly, "Pledged to fight the darkness, to guard what must be guarded and to save what can be saved. In my lifetime, I fought a Dark Lord, and dropped him where none other could. It took an army to cage him again. But he fell to my song. And for love, I renounced my immortality for a different burden and so started a cycle. Passed on from one girl to the next, passing on the power, the spirit, the legacy. To one girl in all the world. One falls and then another rises. I know you for mine. I felt you in the mist and sought to bring you here."
"You can't be…" Buffy said, "This can't be real. You're not real. This is only a dream."
"It is never a dream." Lúthien replied, "All things must come to an end, did you think yourself any different? Do you even know what you have done? The Ghost Roads hold all those souls that must move on to the circles of the world. They are a part of all worlds and of none. You strayed from the path; do you even know where you have ended up, sister? To venture off the path is to die or be forever lost. And now, you are one of the Lost Ones. Those cast from their world. I cannot help you in this. You have made your mistake. It cannot be undone. You yet live, but you will never go home. To learn to love and lose is the most important lesson one of us can learn. You did not learn it in time. You could not let him go."
"No!" Buffy exclaimed, shaking her head, "You're wrong! You're probably some demon anyway! This is all a dream, and I'll wake up in LA."
"If this is a dream, sister, then you shall not wake up at all." Lúthien said, taking a step away, looking towards the top of the hill, "An evil thing to have done, I suppose, in your eyes. But mayhap it shall not turn out all bad. Look out for the Evenstar, sister, and fare thee well."
"Hey! Wait!" Buffy called, her voice echoing across the glade as Lúthien faded away and then everything faded away….
She stared out at the steadily lightening sky, the first rays of dawn flaring gold on the horizon. She leaned against the balustrade, casually clad in nothing more than a shift and a dressing robe, ignoring the morning chill. There was a lot on her mind and more to do that day, and the Valar knew she needed her rest more than ever. But still, duty waited on no woman. Even one in such a condition as hers.
She sighed, letting the cold stone numb the persistent ache in her back and one hand dropped down to cup the soft swell of her belly, feeling the babe stir inside of her. She swore blind that it was going to be a fearsome warrior some day, the way they pummelled her from the inside with such consistency. It was a feeling she had had to become used to, along with all the other ailments. It was certainly a novel feeling.
Sighing, she wondered how she had come to this point. It was not something she had ever imagined, and it was not as if she had much experience with children. It just was not the way of her kind for the past, oh, few thousand years or so. But here she was, with one on the way. And in truth, it was exhausting.
Becoming pregnant had been an enormous change, and she had not been prepared for the toll it took on even the strongest of women. The ever present sickness that plagued her, the dwindling appetite and the rather volatile mood swings that had seen even her husband fly from the room when she was in the grip of a rage.
She could only be thankful that the pregnancy was of mortal length and not Elven, lest her kidneys be battered black and blue permanently. Every time she touched the swell of her stomach, she felt such a rush of joy as to be quite overcome, but then, always following at its heels, came the ever present shadow that seemed to be trying to tell her that something was wrong.
She clutched the railing as a sudden fit of dizziness threatened to overwhelm her, coming just before a short, stabbing pain in her midsection. Sinking to the floor, clutching her stomach, breathing in short fits, she gasped out a short mantra. "No, not now…" she begged, sobbing softly as the pain increased, "It is too early… please, not my baby…"
The cold stone underneath her froze her, made her stiff, and the racking pains and dizziness persisted so heavily that she could not sit up.
She had no idea how long she had lain there when she heard rapid footsteps and an anguished voice cry out, "Arwen!"
She could not acknowledge his shout, nor his gentle touch, through the haze of pain but from somewhere came a hidden strength and she grabbed onto Aragorn's sleeve, "Save my baby!" she gasped and then went limp in his grasp, oblivious to her husband's pleas for her to awaken, to live…
A/N: Well! There's the first instalment! Want me to continue? Then please READ and REVIEW! Tell me what you think!
Next chapter: Éowyn is called urgently to Minas Tirith…. The intro of Buffy… and the fate of the royal family….
Eldarion – son of the Eldar
Naneth - mother
Emyn Arnen - the part of Ithilien in which the Steward of the King dwelled.
Éowyn - daughter of Éomund of Eastfold and Princess Théodwyn, sister to Théoden King. Born in 2995. Fostered by Théoden King. Killed the Witch-King at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Married Faramir, Prince of Ithilien.
Lúthien - Daughter of King Thingol of Doriath and Melian the Maia. Born in the First Age. Married a mortal man and came back from the dead as a mortal after convincing Mandos with a song to release her and her love, Beren. Considered the most beautiful Elf-maid to walk Arda. Elrond's foremother.
Morgoth - the Dark Lord of the First Age. A fallen Vala, he destroyed the Two Trees of Valinor, Laurelin and Telparion, and killed Fëanor's father, the King of the Noldor. He decimated the armies of the First Age until at last a host from Valinor came to Middle Earth, and waged war on him for forty years before he was thrown down. Is not dead but trapped in the Void.
«´¨ Asha D ¨»
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