TITLE: I'll be Home For Mettäre, If Only in My Dreams
PROMPT: #191: Tough (498 words)
AUTHOR: Marethiel
CHARACTERS: Aragorn, Ivorwen
DESCRIPTION: Sometimes Nana just knows…
BETA: The incomparable Cairistiona

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Ivorwen studied him from across the room, noting the clean, shiny yet shaggy head of black hair that needed trimming; the somewhat scraggly dark beard that couldn't dampen the sparkle of his smile. He had chosen his best shirt, embroidered by his mother, no doubt, she noted with tenderness, and his best tunic, an exquisitely wrought piece of Elven weaving. It had arrived earlier in the season with the brethren Elladan and Elrohir; a gift from Master Elrond himself, accompanied by letters from his mother. And it suited him, she had to admit. Its deep green set off the creamy beauty of the shirt, embroidered in various shades of browns and golds, and picking up the stormy grey of his warm, expressive eyes.

The Númenorean blood of the young Chieftain, spending his first Mettäre with his people, had never been more evident as tonight; tall, gravely handsome, he stood clearly as a bridge between Elf and Man. He laughed and joined in talking with the men, gently teasing the children, complimenting the women on their cooking or their dresses.

But she could see that while he was present in body, there was a deftly camouflaged melancholy, noted probably only by herself and perhaps Dirhael.

Late that night, back in their cottage, long after the others of the village had found their rest, Ivorwen wrapped her shawl about herself and stood at the door to the great room. Aragorn sat on the great bearskin rug before the fire, his knees drawn up, his arms wrapped around them, gazing into the fire with the saddest eyes she'd seen in many months, not since he'd first arrived.

Silently, she drew close, quietly drawing her footstool up beside him. He dipped his head, swallowing hard, not trusting himself to speak. Without a word, she seated herself, and tenderly put her arm around his shoulders. She leaned toward him and kissed his temple, and watched his face crumple a bit. He leaned into her with a shaking sigh, his eyes shining with unshed tears, and allowed her arms to encircle him, resting his head against her breast, biting his lip and squeezing his eyes shut tightly. "I feel a fool," he whispered, his voice thick.

"Nonsense," she replied just as softly. "You are entitled to feel lonely for those you love, Aragorn. It is no sign of weakness." She cuddled the young man close, his head against her breast as he softly wept.

Tenderly, soothingly, she stroked his hair, remembering the last missive of Gilraen's letter, just before her closing expression of love and her desire to have been there as well…

"He'll need you at Mettäre, Naneth. His heart is not as tough as he would have it appear. Grave is my son, but gentle and sensitive as well. Help him learn that the Chieftain needs that sensitivity just as much as his stoicism."

Ivorwen smiled to herself as she felt Aragorn grow calmer. You taught him well, Daughter. He already knows.

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