I thought that the worst was over when my baby was finally in the hands of the midwife. My eyes were half-closed with exhaustion, and I wanted nothing more than to cuddle closer to my husband and sleep away the fatigue that was stealing my awareness, but there was suddenly more commotion in the chamber than ever during the birthing. Arathorn, holding me against him, gently rubbed his hands against my stomach in a soothing manner, but I could sense a sudden tension in him. It was then that I realize I heard no crying.

"Arathorn, is my baby healthy? Is it a boy?" I asked, bracing my hands against his thighs and pushing myself up.

My husband pressed his lips against my head but did not stir or answer my question. Fear rose, hard and strong. I wanted to feel my child moving in my arms immediately.

"Give me my baby," I demanded, holding out my arms. I was so weak that they shook, and tears gathered in my eyes for reasons I couldn't define. The midwife blocked my view; I could not see the babe. "Tell me what is wrong!"

"Gilraen, love, do not be distressed." Arathorn's deep voice had a calming effect, and I tried to breathe. "All will be well, I promise you."

"The babe, Arathorn. Is our child well?" I asked, trying to keep the fear from my voice. I failed miserably; my voice quivered, and a tear ran down my cheek onto my lips. I tasted salt on my tongue.

A sudden, shrill wail interrupted my questioning. It was the most beautiful sound that I had ever heard. The tears that I had been struggling hold back fell then, and I laughed even as I sobbed. My husband held me close. I felt a wet drop, then another on my scalp. Arathorn, my calloused warrior, was shedding tears for the infant he'd thought lost. He was the most loving of husbands and most fearsome to look upon, being both tall and scarred. In my presence he was always tender and attentive, but never had I seen him weep.

"My lady, you have a healthy young son who demands your attention," announced the old midwife tenderly, coming to my side bearing a swaddled bundle. When I reached up eagerly to accept it, my arms shook more with excitement than they had with fear.

He was so very tiny. My son weighed so little that I felt I held air. I had loved this little creature since his conception, but to see him was beyond words. I felt joy, rapture, elation, that he was alive. Apprehension, for who was to say that I could be a good mother? Fear for his future. I did not want my son to become a soldier, fight, and be killed on a battlefield. And acceptance. This was the way of the world, and I could only hope that my child would shine with the light of Ill├║vatar.

"Oh, love, you have given me the most precious of gifts," Arathorn breathed, brushing the babe's cheek with his knuckle. A rush of pride washed away my contradiction and maudlin thoughts, and wrapped my son's tiny fragile fingers around one of my own.

"He's perfect," I murmured to myself, and Arathorn made a sound of agreement.

"What will he be called, my lord?" the midwife asked, directing her apprentice to carry out the last of the bloodied sheets. I tilted back my head to look at my spouse; we had agreed that if the child were male, he would decide upon the name.

"I would call him Aragorn, after the fifth Chieftain of our people," he said softly. I looked down my son, so innocent and helpless. My lips formed the name.

"Aragorn." It seemed right. I repeated the name. "Our son shall be called Aragorn."