And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Ruth 1.16
Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the Tolkien estate. This drabble is written for pleasure, not profit.
In the days that followed Arwen spent a good deal of time with Aragorn. They spoke little of love. Words were no longer needed now they knew what was in each other's hearts. Instead, she encouraged him to tell of his travels. She learned of the esteem in which he held the Riders of the Mark and loved to hear him speak of their beautiful horses; beasts, which seemed as fine as any that the Elves might breed. Aragorn grieved for the horse he had lost, which further endeared him to Arwen. She loved horses and always treated them with tenderness and concern. Aragorn's tone grew graver when he spoke of Gondor. It seemed that not only the battles he had fought there lay heavy on his spirits. He spoke warmly of Ecthelion, the kindly, but aging Steward. His son and heir, Denethor, though, was a different matter.
"He treated me as if I had stolen his father's love!" Estel exclaimed bitterly one day. "Yet he was always so cold towards his sire, it was small wonder Ecthelion sought the companionship of his captains! Denethor has a fair and loving wife and a small son, but that did not suffice for him whenever his father sought my company or counsel."
"Did no fair lady of Gondor catch you eye?" Arwen enquired with a hint of jealousy.
"Since I beheld you, Lady Arwen, all other women have seemed but reflections of the star I held in my heart. I was ever true to you both in body and soul!" Estel declared.
Arwen was touched. She had had many admirers throughout her long life, but once they left the refuge of Imladris, they soon forgot her and succumbed to the charms of more easily available ladies.
The days grew warmer and Arwen walked barefooted to enjoy the feel of the fresh turf beneath her feet, as was her wont in Lothlórien. "Come, Estel!" she chided. "Your feet must be most uncomfortable in those heavy boots."
"I would not offend you by going improperly clad," he replied.
Arwen laughed and waded into a small stream, which rippled through the woods. "Join me!" she cried.
Estel had no choice but to shed shoes and stockings and join her in the water. Rather to her surprise, despite his long travels, Estel's feet were long and elegant. From that day forward he rarely wore his shoes when out of doors. As Estel's strength returned, he would run swiftly as a deer, and then wait for Arwen to catch up.
One day she stumbled in her haste and banged her hand against a tree. He caught it between both of his own. She felt the pain ebb away in waves of healing warmth. It seemed that Estel was not only a great warrior, traveller, and master of lore, but also a natural healer. She had felt such power before only in her father's hands.
Time passed; days or weeks, they knew not, for it seemed as if they lived in some beautiful dream. Time passed differently in Elven Realms, or so it seemed to Men.
The longest day dawned and Galadriel and her handmaids prepared a feast to celebrate the solstice and honour Arien, Lady of the Sun and Elbereth, Lady Star Kindler, after which they would either watch the stars during the few hours of darkness or slumber beneath them.
As soon as the feast was ended, Galadriel and Celeborn danced alone together on the grass watched by the others, as they lightly swirled, as light and graceful as if they were flying. The Lord and Lady then sat down and the other Elves began to dance, all that is; except Aragorn and Arwen.
After a few minutes Arwen asked the man beside her. "Will you dance with me?"
"I fear, my lady, that I would prove a clumsy partner compared to such as these. When dances were held at Imladris, I seemed to have two left feet!"
"Come!" She held out her hand.
He followed her as she led him to a secluded glade. "Dance with me here, where there is none save ourselves," she said. "Otherwise I shall not dance this night."
"Would you not prefer to dance with the other maidens?" he asked, still hesitant.
"I have done that for many a long year. Now I would be your partner," she said.
Grasping both his hands, she started to dance with him. She was surprised at how well he moved. Granted, not as gracefully as an Elf, but for a Man, he was light footed and nimble. It seemed that he was enjoying himself; his initial reservations overcome.
They danced until twilight fell. The Elves could be heard in the distance singing the hymn to Elbereth. Aragorn and Arwen stood beneath the mallorns and joined in.
"Shall we watch the stars from the summit of Cerin Amroth?" Arwen asked. "We often see shooting stars at this time of year."
"I should like that very much."
Arm in arm, they climbed the hill together. Arwen sat down on the soft grass as soon as they reached the summit. "I love this season," she said. "The Darkness that threatens us seems to have less power when the days are long."
Aragorn sat down beside her. "The summer solstice is a special time for my people too. My mother once told me that I was conceived this night under a shower of meteors. My apologies, my lady, I fear that might sound indelicate. It was just that this night made me think on my mother's words."
"Do not apologise, it is a lovely story. You are a true star of hope then, Estel."
"Sometimes my path seems very dark, my lady."
"Look up and see our ancestor Gil Eärendil! While he lights the way and Lady Elbereth watches over us, we are never in darkness nor alone!" Her hand reached for his and he grasped it. "Lie down upon the grass and enjoy the beauty of this night!"
They said nothing more, but simply lay there hand in hand, watching the stars twinkle overhead. There was no sound. It was as if they were the only two awake that night upon Arda. As it grew chill, they huddled closer to each other. Arwen knew then, that this was how she desired to spend every night of her life, nestled beside this man who had stolen her heart.
At last Aragorn fell asleep, snoring softly. Arwen was most amused and intrigued at this further evidence that he was no Elf!
As dawn broke, Galadriel came in search of her granddaughter. She found her sleeping chastely beside Aragorn. Arwen immediately awoke at her grandmother's approach. She scrambled to her feet and beckoned that they should walk a little way as not to disturb the sleeper.
"Have you no thought for propriety, little star?" Galadriel chided gently.
"We did nothing wrong," Arwen replied. "We simply watched the stars. I have decided I want to marry him."
"You will have to ask him, then," Galadriel replied. "He will leave here soon now he is healed and rested."
"Oh, Grandmother, how can I endure it!" Arwen started to weep. "I cannot bear to leave you or my father, but neither can I imagine forsaking Estel! It seems that my lot is that of Lúthien! How can I make this choice?"
Galadriel enfolded her granddaughter in a close embrace. "Little Star, maybe your doom was decided when the Ainur created their music at the very beginning. We know not the ways of the One. You will know great sorrow from your choice, but I also foresee great joy in your future too. Dry your eyes, little star, for your love will soon awaken." With a final loving embrace, she turned and descended the hill.
Aragorn awoke and blinked in the bright sunlight. Then he saw Arwen beside him. "My lady," he cried. "I am so sorry, I did not mean to fall asleep. Alas, I have risked your reputation!"
"My grandmother knows," Arwen replied. "All is well. This is the first time I have spent a night alone with a man, and the last with any save you."
"I would be beside you always!"
"Nothing would my heart desire more, but how can I ask such a sacrifice of you?"
"If I cannot be with you, I shall die a maiden and childless. Much rather would I be your wife!"
Aragorn knelt at her feet. "Then, Arwen, vanimelda, I give you my heart, and ask for your hand in marriage."
"I am yours, Estel, today and forever." She raised him to his feet. He kissed her and they embraced. At that moment their souls united and they perceived clearly the depth of love in each other's hearts, two hearts now as one.
A/n Wishing all my readers a very happy and peaceful Easter season.
Please check out this story on my website(link on my profile) with beautiful illustrations by Rachel.