My Favorite Aragorn Stories
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Where the Stars are Strange: 10. Pledges
Snow fell steadily. Actually, the great flakes seemed to plummet from the sky, born by no wind. The snow had not kept Aragorn and Arwen inside and they walked in the orchard. The tree branches were bare and black, reaching into the cold air.
Aragorn was bemused by Arwen's attentiveness. The usually guarded Arwen had been fierce in her feelings towards him since his return. Often, she would start up suddenly from her reading or work, and track him throughout the house or woods, obsessed. And, in finding him, she would meet his questioning eyes with a depth of love that nearly overwhelmed him, and either kiss him gently or turn away in contentment and go back to what she had been about.
Arwen had been pensive most of the day and Aragorn respected her mood; he was simply pleased to be with her. Now, on this walk, she suddenly stopped and faced him. He smiled at the flakes scattered in her hair, like stars in the midnight sky.
"Evenstar." The word came unbidden to his lips.
"Aragorn, you've been so long away. I feared your home coming. Before I thought you had gone from this world, I feared you would no longer care."
"My love, never doubt my feelings for you." He brushed away the melting stars.
"All those beautiful warrior maidens of Rohan…I feared I might lose you to one," she admitted shyly. This admission from his wise elf-lady startled Aragorn; that she who had lived so much longer than he would doubt his devotion never entered his mind.
"There are none but you, never anyone but you." He tried to kiss her but she turned her head away.
"You are about to leave again…even farther from me. Perhaps I should not expect…" He saw uncertainty in her eyes, something he had never anticipated from the assured Arwen. He was the one who questioned, who doubted she could possibly feel as he felt. Of all the things his lady made right for him that he felt he never could repay, he could allay her fears in this. He smiled and taking her right hand tightly in his left, laid his right hand across his breast. She gasped, realizing what he was about to do and tried vainly to pull her hand from his firm grip.
"Arwen Undomiel of the House of Imladris," Aragorn began the words he had practice in his mind so many times. "I will love you and none other until the end of all time. All that is mine shall be yours, if you accept it and if ever you ask it, my life will be forfeit to you. In this, I pledge myself to you, and you alone, forever, upon my honor." She was slowly shaking her head, knowing full well what her father had ordered. The Evenstar found herself looking into his shining eyes and heard herself answering:
"Aragorn, Aranya Elessar, my beloved. My heart is yours. Forsaking all else, I pledge myself to you. Your happiness will always be my goal." They kissed gently, and Aragorn shook away an impending shiver of guilt. They had just privately done a thing forbidden to them publicly. The pair smiled conspiratorially and walked through the twilight to the house, hands clasped tightly.
Gandalf edged nearer the study fireplace and wondered what Elrond watched with his keen Elvish eyes out in the gardens. Snow and twilight were falling, the keen wind was rising, and he mightily wished his friend would step back inside and close the shutters to the balcony.
"What catches your interest in the dusk, my friend? Or do you wish an old man to die from the cold?" he asked, stepping out beside Elrond.
"I am watching two forbidden lovers in the orchard pledge to each other," Elrond answered, without turning. Gandalf chuckled, well aware of whom he spoke.
"He loves you well and would obey you in all things but this. His love of her runs deep and he would defy you for it. He hearkens back to the proud Numenoreans."
"He has their arrogance." Elrond answered shortly. Gandalf looked at him closely.
"And the arrogance of one nearer than they," Gandalf joked. Elrond remained silent, staring into the thickening snow. "What ails you, old friend?" the wizard asked.
"What ails me is that audacious pup pursues my daughter!" Elrond slammed his hand on the railing.
"What of your daughter's pursuit, master elf? I've never known Arwen to be overwhelmed by a suitor," Gandalf observed dryly.
"My daughter has been pinning for him for five years." Elrond sighed. "This recent scare was nearly her undoing. I have offered her the highest Elven blood in Middle Earth as mate, but she waits for a man---a Ranger with no home!"
"She waits for a son of Imladris. She waits for the chieftain of the Dúnedain. She waits for the King of Gondor and Arnor!" Gandalf felt his ire rising at his friend's stubbornness. Finally, he chuckled and said gently, "She waits patiently for her heart's desire. You, above all, must understand that. You can fain this indignity with others, my friend, but you cannot hide the truth from me. Put away that gruffness. This pleases you."
Elrond finally smiled in surrender, knowing Gandalf had divined his secret. "Aye, it really does…except to wed with him, Arwen must make the choice of a mortal life."
"It would sadden me more if she would wander all her days, untouched by the passion he gives her. Your daughter is happy; your son is happy. They have no regrets. Neither should you."
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