These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
Star of Hope
A story in honour of Aragorn's birthday on March 1st
With grateful thanks to Raksha
"I saw a star that was falling, I wish'd the wish of my soul." - Traditional Irish song.
"You wished to see me, my lady?"
I shuffled my feet nervously. Master Elrond was never other than courteous towards me, but I still felt like a timid little girl in his presence.
"It is my son's third birthday tomorrow. I should like some small celebration to mark the occasion for him."
"Ah, yes, Lady Gilraen, the tradition of Men to mark the day of birth, since the day of begetting is so rarely recalled amongst my brother's kindred."
I lowered my eyes, hoping Master Elrond would not see the light of memory in my eyes that his wordskindled. Oh, but I did know the day of Aragorn's begetting, that special night is still as clear in my memory as if it were yesterday. These memories are too precious and private to ever speak of to Master Elrond, kindly though he is. Maybe, one day I will tell my son that he was begotten upon an auspicious day. Maybe…
It was a rare gathering for the Dúnedain. As many who were able came from the scattered villages amidst the ruins of the old capital, Annuminas, where they made camp and prepared to celebrate Loëndë.
The celebrations began on the longest night of the year, a night feared by the servants of darkness. My parents were amongst those present. I gladly greeted them, having not laid eyes on my mother and father since my wedding day.
"Are you happy in your marriage to Arathorn?" my mother enquired of me later that night, taking me aside, her keen gaze scanning my still slender form. I could sense her disappointment that I was not yet with child.
"He is kindly and treats me always with respect," I answered. Truth to tell, I still hardly knew my husband. He had been away most of the time even before the Lord Arador's death. Since he had become Chieftain earlier that year, Arathorn had even less time for home and hearth. As Lord of the Dúnedain, he was needed to care for our people and lead the fight against the minions of Shadow. I tried to be a good wife and ease his cares when he was at home. I had not opposed my mother's wish for the marriage; and I was content enough, honoured to be wed to so worthy a lord.
"Have you grown to love your husband?" my mother persisted.
I could only say. "He is a good man. "I had never lied to my mother. It was useless, for Ivorwen's gift of farsight always enabled her to see into my mind.
My mother frowned but said no more on the matter, instead encouraging me to try the wine, a gift from Elrond of Rivendell.
The sun sets on even the longest day. We sat watching it sink below the hills while we told tales of old Númenor and sang of the great deeds of the Sea Kings and the Faithful.
"Will you walk with me, my lady?" Arathorn appeared beside me as if out of nowhere, my cloak in his hand. He draped the soft woollen mantle around my shoulders. Arathorn slowed his pace to match mine, and took my hand as he led me along the shore of Lake Nenuial. The moon had risen and cast a silvery glow across the rippling waters.
"To think that these ruins were once a great and prosperous city," my husband sighed, his voice full of sorrow. "Alas, for our people!"
"Maybe one day it will be rebuilt," I said, wondering why I should voice such wild dreams. Tonight they appeared almost as a certainty to me. It was as if I could see a fair city, where now there lay only tumbled stones.
"The young may have their dreams still," Arathorn said sadly.
I pressed his hand. We stood there for I know not how long, watching the bright path of the Star of Eärendil across the evening sky, the silence broken only the music of the waves gently lapping against the shore.
Suddenly, a light flashed in the West.
"Look!" said my husband, a smile easing the grim cast of his features; "a shooting star. You should make a wish, Gilraen."
I silently wished that I might give him the heir he longed for, the heir we all needed.
We watched star after star streak across the sky under the sovereign eye of Gil-Estel.
"Come," Arathorn said at last, "it grows cold."
He let me back to our large and well-appointed tent, set a little aside from the others as befit the Chieftain and his lady.
Arathorn took me in his arms and kissed me. I found myself responding with a newfound fervour; pulling at the fastenings on his cloak as he bore me down to our warm nest of hides and furs. That night I was not just a dutiful wife, but also a happy one. Perhaps it was the wine, or the stone remnants of our people's past glory surrounding us, that awakened my heart. I know not. I know only that I enjoyed the intimacies of marriage for the first time. My passion equalled his as I freely and joyously surrendered to my lord.
"Never have I seen so many shooting stars as there were last night!" my mother remarked over breakfast the next morning. "You look well, today, child. That Elvish wine must have suited you."
Alas, my joy would be short-lived. Arathorn had to ride away again ere nightfall when a report arrived of Orcs gathering in the East.
When he returned a few weeks later, I had news for him.
"I carry our child, my lord," I said.
My husband's weary face lightened. I will never forget the joy that lit his deepgrey eyes as he smiled and tenderly embraced me.
Arathorn was at my side more often during the following months. I grew large with his child and spent my days dreaming of filling our home with the laughter of many sons and daughters.
Soon after the turn of the year, my mother arrived to care for me. We expected the child in mid-March, but our Aragorn was eager to enter the world and arrived as soon as February took its leave. The moment I first held my son was the happiest I have ever known.
"You are smiling, Lady Gilraen. Do you find our customs amusing?"
Master Elrond's words interrupted my memories. "Indeed not, lord, but my son is a child of Man, not an Elf."
"Your son is the Hope of Men, my lady," Elrond said gravely. "He will learn his lineage when the time is ripe. I shall ask the cooks to prepare special treats in celebration for his birthday on the morrow; and we will have gifts and games. Our Estel cannot yet know his true name, but he shall know that he is loved."
I smiled my thanks. For now, my Aragorn must remain hidden, but in the fullness of time he will blaze forth, as a star of hope for our people. Until then, I can only wait and hope.
I could not yet March 1st pass without marking my favourite character's birthday.
This story was placed third in the Teitho contest.
Chapter 28 of "A Time to Reap" is now posted and the first p[art of a new story, "Mask of Virtue."