Title: Daughter of the North
Genre: Ranging from fluff to mild angst.
Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is the intellectual property of J.R.R. Tolkien. I'm only borrowing it...and this time I'll return everyone undamaged.
Summary: It is said that Elrond raised Aragorn as a son, but what happened to Gilraen? A collection of short stories of Gilraen in Rivendell. Some a bit AU.
Author's Note: This story began as a oneshot, but a host of other ideas have since entered my head and thus I am making slight changes to allow for future oneshots to be added to this collection. This story began with the thought that while we have countless stories of how Estel was raised in Rivendell by Elrond, very little is ever said about his mother. This will not be a regularly updated story, as I'll just be adding oneshots as I think of them and get a chance to write them, but I hope you'll like it. My characterizations may not be quite spot-on, though, so please forgive me if they're off.
This was inspired by a scene from The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew and Proverbs 31:10-31 (The Wife of Noble Character). This particular short is AU, as you can find the actual story of Gilraen and Arathorn's marriage in the appendix to Lord of the Rings
Elrohir cheerfully whistled as he strolled down the hall to the Hall of Fire. It was a bright afternoon, and he was due to meet his twin, Elladan, there for a ride out to relieve the patrols.
Their father had been busy with the newer additions to their household. Arathorn, Chieftan of the Rangers, had been killed by orcs a few months ago and his wife, Gilraen, had brought their son to Rivendell to Elrond.
Elrond and Arathorn had been good friends in life, and so the elf-lord had decided that he would raise Arathorn's son (who he renamed Estel) as his own.
Gilraen, having few of her kin left and not wanting to be separated from her son while he was growing, had decided to remain in Rivendell for a time. She had very little to do, as there were several dozen obliging elves and elf-maids to care for the infant.
Lost in his thoughts though he was, Elrohir thought he saw something odd in one of the alcoves off the main hall and doubled back to see.
It was as he thought. Gilraen was sitting on the window seat, light glancing off the gray her husband's death had given her, head bent over mending.
Elrohir thought her mending looked familiar, and he took a step closer. "That's mine!" he exclaimed suddenly. It was his tunic, the one he had worn a few weeks ago out hunting. His sleeve had gotten torn by a bush, and he had left the tunic among other clothes to be mended. But what was their honored guest doing mending his tunic?
The lady looked up with a slight smile. "Good day, Lord Elrohir," she replied in halting Sindarin.
The elf shook his head in wonderment, swiftly kneeling before the window seat to try to take the tunic out of the woman's hands. "You should not be doing this," he said, switching to Common Tongue for Gilraen's comfort. "We have servants who do the mending."
Gilraen was not willing to hand over the tunic so lightly. "I used to mend for my husband," she explained, her voice catching. "And other rangers, if one of them happened by with clothing in need of it."
"But it is not your place here," Elrohir argued. "You are our honored guest, Gilraen, a lady of this house."
"It is only a little mending," Gilraen said with a small laugh, indicating the pile that remained on the window seat.
Elrohir sighed and shook his head. "Surely you have better things to do with your time."
Gilraen looked down, saddened. "My son is quite taken with you. He follows you and your brother all over the house...and when he is not with them he is with your father or one of the other lords. I'm afraid I have little to do anymore."
The elf nodded in understanding. He himself was quite taken with the child...at only two years old little Estel was quite charming. "But...mending?" he asked incredulously.
The woman laughed again, and Elrohir reflected that Gilraen had not had enough to laugh about lately. "Ah, Lord Elrohir," she said with a sigh, her eyes growing sad. "You remind me a bit of Arathorn when he was a young man...did you know that I mended his tunic the first time I met him?"
Elrohir raised an eyebrow in surprise and shifted down to sit on the floor. "I had not heard that."
Gilraen smiled and smoothed the tunic in her hands, holding it up to see that the mended seam was straight. "He had come to consult my father—who had been a ranger until a wound forced him to retire—on the matter of extending patrols to encompass all of the Shire. On his way in his tunic had gotten snagged by our rose bush and torn under his arm. My father insisted he stay the night, and while he was sleeping I crept up and took his tunic to mend it. He awoke to find me sitting by the fire, mending the tear."
The woman sighed, leaning back against the wall of the alcove as her mind traveled through her memories. "He was surprised, but did not try to take it from me," she said in mock sternness, her eyes twinkling. "When he found out what I was doing he kissed my hand and declared that I was a woman of high esteem, one that any man would be proud to call his wife."
The elf smiled. "He used to say that of you."
"He left before dawn," Gilraen continued, neatly tying off the thread and folding the now-mended tunic to add to the pile at her feet. "But I found a bouquet of wildflowers—no roses!—in the very spot where I had sat to mend his tunic. And so he became a more frequent visitor—always insisting that it was my superior mending that brought him there. And yet, many times it looked as though he had torn the clothing himself to have a reason to come."
"Did he really?" Elrohir asked with a laugh.
"Oh, yes," Gilraen replied, nodding. "Until my father said 'Just ask for her hand, Arathorn, and stop destroying your clothes!'"
Woman and elf shared a laugh, but Gilraen soon grew saddened. "I miss him," she added softly.
Elrohir looked down, agreeing. He had not known Arathorn as well as his father had, but knew the man's presence would be sorely missed. He caught sight of the mended tunic, the tear almost unnoticeable now. It would be nothing for him to have a tailor mend his clothes, or to have new clothes made, and yet...
"Lady Gilraen," Elrohir announced, springing to his feet and taking the woman's hands in his. "If it would keep you happy, then I shall see to it that you have all the mending you heart desires."
Gilraen smiled softly. "Thank you, Lord Elrohir. Though I must say," she added with a laugh, "I never expected to thank anyone for mending!"
"No, I suppose not," Elrohir agreed. He turned to leave but took one last look back as Gilraen picked up another tunic to mend. On sudden impulse he bowed and kissed the woman's hand. "You are truly the most excellent of women," he said. "And Arathorn was proud to call you his wife."
The woman's eyes glistened with unshed tears, and it seemed to Elrohir as though he saw a specter of the past standing just at her shoulder—the spirit of Arathorn, come to whisper a final farewell.
"Thank you," Gilraen whispered, but neither elf nor woman knew to whom she spoke.
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