Chapter Nineteen

I stand silent at the lone window of my room watching the daylight break and shed warmth upon the land. I have managed to regain much of the strength I lost and am now feeling much more like myself than I was the previous day. I know I will be ready when it comes time for us to leave Helm's Deep and set out once more on our journey.

I am still reeling from Aragorn's confession and I am not sure it has completely sunk in yet. Aragorn loves me, his heart lies in my hands… that still seems too wondrous to be true. I have loved him for as long as I can remember and not once did I ever believe my affections could be returned. It seemed I was doomed to fantasize but never to touch. I had come to accept this, no matter how it hurt, and I knew what life had in store for me.

Now I am treading in uncharted waters, unsure what is to come, and it is most disconcerting. 'Tis not that I doubt Aragorn's affections for me, I saw the sincerity in his eyes, I merely am not sure where we go from here. He is to be crowned King once this war is over, and when that day arrives, what is to come of me… what is to come of our newfound love? Will there be a place for me at his side, in his kingdom? I cannot help but to have my trepidations about the whole thing, I cannot help to fear that we shall never be together, no matter how we wish it so.

Maybe my place at his side is truly not meant to be; perhaps I have no place at his side and never did. It pains me to think thusly, because I have only just learned of his affections, but I cannot help to look to the future if we hope to strengthen our love and watch it grow. I know that his loyalties lie with Gondor however, and he must do what is right for his people. In doing so he must take his place on the throne and he will have to wed; he will need an heir. That is something I certainly am not capable of providing him.

I know naught of how he and Boromir planned to overcome this obstacle but I just cannot see it working out in our favor. I feel as though our relationship was doomed before we have even had the chance to be together. He has only been mine for a day and already I feel as though I am losing him.

I am not quite sure how to bring the subject up to him, am not sure how to speak of my fears and concerns, but I know we must have this conversation. I need to know where I stand; must know if there is any chance for us. I wonder if he has had similar thoughts, if he has plans and I am worrying myself needlessly. I will never know until I speak with him on these matters, I tell myself for the twentieth time this morning as a soft sigh escapes my lips and my forlorn gaze returns to the view outside my bedchamber window.

I cannot help but to feel foolish for worrying thusly, I really should push my concerns away until I have had the opportunity to speak with Aragorn. I shouldn't worry myself silly until there is a reason to. I must believe that everything will work out the way they are meant to, I must hold onto hope.

I am pulled from my thoughts when a knock sounds at the bedchamber door. Looking to the mirror to the right of me, making certain I am presentable and my current thoughts are not displayed upon my features, I softly call out that my visitor may enter.

I am immensely relieved when Aragorn steps into the room, a warm smile alit upon his face, and I cannot prevent my own smile from surfacing when he takes his place next to me at the window. He is quiet for a long moment as he gazes out the window but his features are calm so I know that nothing ails him right now.

I am pleased to see him and I say as much with my eyes as I regard him. He seems to understand my silent words as he smiles and draws me closer to his warmth when he wraps an arm around my waist. I allow myself to be pulled into his embrace, still surprised that I am allowed to feel his arms holding me so, and I turn my head away to hide my smile.

"The dawn is a beautiful one this day," Aragorn remarks in a quiet tone of voice, close to a breathy whisper. "How do you fare? Do you suppose you are well enough for a small stroll or should we save that for when you have fully recovered your strength?"

"I feel much better than I did, and I'd like nothing more than to go outside and feel the sunshine on my face, but I am not sure if it would be wise," I respond with much reluctance, turning to regard him with a disappointed frown. "There is still a war at hand and I feel it would be in everyone's best interest if I take the time to fully heal and not overexert myself."

"Aye, you are right mela amin, forgive me for I was not thinking," Aragorn replies as he takes my hand in his own and caresses my skin with the pad of his thumb. "We will have plenty of time to take a stroll together once the war is over."

I nod my head in agreement, not altogether pleased but knowing it is the right decision. I do not want to use up any of the strength I have just recently regained, I need to be at my best for when the time comes, I cannot afford to be lacking at such a time.

Aragorn pulls gently on my hand and I pull myself out of my thoughts, allowing him to lead me to the bed so we can sit down. He shifts close to me, close enough that I can feel the warmth of his body seeping through my clothing.

"Would you like to break your fast with me? The cooks have prepared meals for all. I can go to the kitchen and retrieve a couple of plates for us. We can eat in your bedchamber if you wish to."

The mere mention of food has my stomach growling its approval but I am not ready to eat just yet. Aragorn and I still need to have a conversation and I fear I won't have the courage to bring it up later should I not do so now.

He moves to rise from the bed but my hand upon his forearm halts his movements and he looks back upon me with curiosity in those stormy grey eyes of his. I smile reassuringly, showing that naught is wrong, and motion for him to seat himself once more. He does so without a complaint, his eyes veiled with concern despite my reassurance.

"What is it, fair elf?" He questions lightly, sweeping his eyes over my features, searching for what may ail me. "Is there something wrong? Are you not faring well? Do you wish to rest a bit longer?"

I smile in amusement at his never-ending questions and shake my head slightly. "Nay, nothing ails me Estel, I simply wish to discuss an important matter with you before we break our fast, if you not mind."

Aragorn audibly sighs in relief, curiosity lying within his eyes now instead of concern, and he takes his seat once more at my side, turning so as to face me. "What is it you wish to speak about Legolas?"

I fidget slightly, unable to prevent it, and try to find a way to start this conversation. I know not of the words to say to ask my question, am unsure how to broach the subject delicately. I fear what his answer may be; I do not wish to cause us any discouragements. I know not if he has considered what I am about to ask him, have no way of knowing if he has executed a plan so as we may be together when he takes his throne.

I do not wish to lose him now that I have only just come to know his feelings for me, but I know his loyalties must lie with his kingdom, and though it would pain me, I would release him if that is what I must do. I cannot be selfish, I love him so that I feel I cannot breath without him, but Gondor needs him more and I shall not burden him if it must come down to me or his duties.

I push these feelings away when the weight of depression settles over my heart and I look up into his worried eyes. I try to smile, though I fear some of my anxiety shines through.

"I have been thinking about our future together," I reply softly, biting my lip briefly as I take in a breath so I can continue. "I know we have only just found each other, but I need to know if we even have a future together. Is it possible for us to hold onto our newfound love when you take the thrown? I know you need an heir, and we both know I cannot provide you with one, and I… is our love going to survive this war and see brighter days, or will I have to let you go?"

It pains me to ask this, I cannot help but feel as though our time together is limited. There may come a day when I have to step aside so he can become the man he was always destined to be. I know not if I have the strength to take that step and still remain in Middle Earth once he is wed.

I had not planned to sail to the undying lands with my father, I planned to stay behind for some time, at least until Estel passed, but if I must release Aragorn then I fear that the pain would be too great. I simply cannot be near him, after knowing what it is like to have him in my embrace, and know that he is no longer mine to hold. If our love must end with the war then my only option may be to sail. I hope it does not come to that.

"'Tis true that in time I must provide an heir but 'tis not asked of me this very moment Legolas. I do not require an heir for some time to come so worry not about such things at this time," Aragorn smiles as he says this, drawing closer to me, cupping my pale cheek with his palm. "When I take the crown my love I had hoped you would be at my side. 'Tis true that I will be forced into marriage and will have to produce an heir, and I know this sounds selfish of me, but I do not want to lose you amidst it all. Our love does not have to die just because I am to fulfill my duties as King, however I realize how unfair 'tis of me to ask such of you, so if you are unhappy with this unfortunate arrangement then I would understand. I would let you go, though it would pain me greatly. I do not wish to see you unhappy Legolas, but I cannot ignore my call of duty either. Gondor has gone far too long without her King."

"I understand Aragorn, and your loyalty to your Kingdom prides me so. I never would have stood in the way, I would never place that burden on your shoulders; you would never be forced to choose. If you were forced to, I know you would choose wisely, and I would be proud of you for doing so," I reply sincerely, though I cannot say that I can be his secret lover, no matter how I love him so.

"An arrangement has already been made with my step father, one that suits all involved," Aragorn says with a slight sheepish smile. "I would understand if you wish not to take part in it."

He sounds sad and resigned as he speaks but I can plainly see that he would release me if I were to so wish it. Before I make any hasty decisions however, I want to know more of this arrangement he speaks of. "What sort of arrangement?"

"I am in need of an heir but was already… was already in love with Boromir," Aragorn says this with a touch of difficulty, looking to me as though afraid the mere mention of his former lover will be an obstacle for us. I simply smile softly, understandingly, and he breathes a sigh of relief. "I loathed letting him go, even though I knew I must do what is best for Gondor. Elrond sought me out however, and sat me down for an important conversation. It was brought to my attention that Arwen wished not to leave Middle Earth along with the rest of her kin and said she would take my hand in marriage. It would only be between us and the palace that our marriage was one of convenience and that we both would have separate loves."

"The Lady Arwen would willingly bind herself to you so as to simply stay in Middle Earth?" I ask in astonishment, unable to understand her reasoning. She can simply stay without binding herself to a loveless marriage, can she not? "I do not understand my love."

"Elrond feared leaving her behind unprotected," Aragorn explains patiently. "He would not allow her to stay unless he knew she would be safe. With this arrangement I would have an heir and be allowed to remain in Boromir's arms, while the Lady Arwen would be provided with protection and the chance to stay in Middle Earth."

"And if she is to find a lover of her own she could do so with no trouble?" I question simply to be sure that I understand everything clearly.

"Aye, she is free to be with whomever she so chooses," Aragorn agrees with a smile. "'Tis truly beneficial to both of us, and I would have agreed to this even if I hadn't been with Boromir. She is near and dear to my heart and I know how she so wishes to remain here in Middle Earth, I would have never forgiven myself if she had been forced to sail."

I nod my head. "That would have surely been regrettable, and I admire you even more for your selflessness Aragorn, you truly astound me. The depth of your love has no end." Aragorn's cheeks turn pink at my words and I decide 'tis a sight I must bear witness more often.

All is silent between us for a few moments in time as he moves in closer to me, wrapping an arm loosely around my waist as we lean into one another, his forehead resting against mine. I close my eyes contentedly, feeling safe and secure within his loose embrace, wishing it never had to end.

"I do not ever want you to be unhappy with me Legolas," Aragorn whispers softly to me, sounding slightly troubled but sincere all the same. "If this arrangement doesn't suit you, or may cause you pain, please tell me now. It will hurt to let you go, but if you so wish it, then I will find the strength somehow."

"Nay Aragorn," I say as I pull away to look into his eyes. "I finally have you by my side, you love me as I have always loved you, and my heart would always be yours, even if we were apart. I could not bear to leave you now. I wish to spend the rest of your life at your side; we will find a way to make this arrangement work."

In truth, this arrangement is not ideal, but 'tis more than I could have ever hoped for. And when Aragorn smiles at me, radiating pure unrestrained joy, I know I have made the right decision.


Elvin Translations:

* Mela amin = My love