My Favorite Aragorn Stories
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Good Man is Hard to Find, A: 2. A Treasure Too Lightly Prized
How could he do this to her? Just when she finally thought she might get to go home to Rivendell, he had disappeared without a trace. But had he done this simply for the purpose of ruining her holiday? Where could he have gone? And why?
The Queen realized that she couldn't hope to keep news of this a secret. She sent out messengers to Rohan, to Dol Amroth, to Fornost, to every conceivable destination her husband might be heading. To Ithilien she sent a summons. In the king's absence, his Steward must come to Minas Tirith. She hoped Faramir would know what to do. Until he arrived she resolved to give all her attention to her children, in an effort to calm their fears and relieve her own.
Faramir arrived the following day, striding purposefully into the garden where she was reading with her daughters.
"My Lady Undomiel," he began, bowing deeply. Arwen's eyes lit up when his wife entered behind him, and curtsied to her. Eowyn had been an indispensable ally to Arwen, and a dear friend. A gifted and compassionate healer, Eowyn had delivered all four of Arwen's children, and had tended them during their most serious childhood illnesses. Her mere presence comforted Arwen, as the wise Steward had known it would.
"Faramir, Eowyn, thank you for coming so quickly."
"You may rest easily, my Lady. I have come to take the reins of governance as Steward of Gondor, and I will remain until the King has safely returned. If you should need anything at all, send word to me immediately," and with that, Faramir bowed deeply and took his leave.
"How is it with you, my Lady?" Eowyn asked gently.
"O, Eowyn, will you walk with me?" Leaving her daughters to amuse themselves in the garden, Arwen took the healer's arm and began walking out of their hearing.
"Honestly, I'm worried sick, and have barely slept since his disappearance. I keep blaming myself. I stubbornly insisted on taking the children away for a holiday to Rivendell. He didn't want me to go. I thought he had finally relented, but then he just disappeared. A part of me is infuriated with him for doing this, and a part of me just wants him home. I keep wondering…"Arwen broke off, unwilling to voice her fear aloud.
Gently the healer probed for the source of the pain. "What is it you fear, my Lady?"
"I fear…what if there is someone else, Eowyn?"
Eowyn smiled reassuringly, "I hardly think you need worry on that score."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because, for one thing, it's not logical. If there were someone else, wouldn't it be easier for him to simply wait for you to leave for Rivendell? He wouldn't need to disappear. But more importantly, infidelity is not in the King's nature. It would be quite out of character for him."
Arwen looked at her friend quizzically. There was something Eowyn wasn't telling her. "How can you be so sure?"
"You mean, he's never told you?" Eowyn asked, somewhat taken aback.
"Eowyn, what are you talking about?"
"It was during the siege of Minas Tirith as the armies of Rohan were mustering to ride to the aid of Gondor. Lord Aragorn rode out of Dunharrow, where King Theoden had assigned me to guard our people. I begged Aragorn to take me with him. Desperate for his affection, I pleaded with him not to leave me behind. Of course, I didn't know he was betrothed. I was smitten with him. It was a childish infatuation, really, more hero worship than anything else. In my desperation, he represented an escape from the life in which I felt trapped. He was mighty, strong and glorious and I thought he could rescue me from my misery.
He was an honorable man, and very kind. He viewed me with compassion and pity, but his love for you kept him steadfast. He would not take advantage of the folly which could have made me vulnerable. He has always loved you faithfully. It surprises me that he never spoke of this. Faramir and I have often discussed it."
Arwen was dumbfounded by this revelation. Her husband had never been unfaithful, but the woman who was now her dearest friend had once practically flung herself into his arms.
Caught up in her own thoughts, Eowyn went on, "With Faramir it was different. He looked on me with more than pity or compassion. He looked on me with desire."
Arwen studied the woman's face, but she saw no trace of embarrassment at this admission, only a fierce, possessive satisfaction. It was as if Eowyn understood a secret which she herself could not grasp.
Just then they were interrupted by the entrance of a servant carrying a large, neatly folded bundle of black cloth.
"Pardon me, My Lady, but the Steward ordered me to bring this to you. He thought you'd want to keep it safe, until the King returns."
Eowyn, realizing what the man carried, grasped her lady's hand and squeezed it supportively. Without a word, Arwen took the bundle, tears welling in her eyes. It was the King's standard, which she had woven with her own hands. The white banner of the Stewards must fly over Minas Tirith until there was a King in Gondor once again.
Arwen sat alone in her chamber, the standard of the House of Elendil spread across her lap. Every fiber, every stitch was the work of her fingers. She thought back on the long years of its making. She had worked tirelessly, every day weaving together a future for her beloved. She had believed in him, believed in his destiny. She would give him her heart, her energy, the work of her hands, and the fruit of her womb to help him achieve that destiny. He would become king of Gondor and Arnor, the last lord of the Numenorians. Why had he walked away from the fulfillment of that dream?
She thought of what Eowyn had said that afternoon. Eowyn was secure in her husband's desire for her. She had no doubt that he wanted her. It occurred to Arwen that she could no longer say the same.
She had always taken Aragorn's desire for granted. At first she'd been amused by it. The passionate adoration which the twenty-year old boy could not conceal was flattering, but nothing to be taken seriously. When they met again nearly thirty years later, she realized that this Man's desire for her was a thing she could no longer dismiss or put off.
She had had other admirers in the thousands of years before she met Aragorn, but none like him. It seemed that the nature of Elves was ruled by far cooler humors than that of Men. An Elf could be content to admire beauty at a distance, saying nothing, making no demands upon the object of his affection for a hundred years. Should he speak of his love, he might ask for his lady's favor, and count himself blessed to receive only a lock of her hair.
Aragorn was different. She had realized, as he confessed his love for her on Cerin Amroth, that he wanted far more than any of her previous admirers. He wanted her to commit herself to him with no hope of going back. It would not be enough even for her to abide with him for the brief season of his life. He asked that she forsake the privilege of her birthright, never to sail into the West when the burden of endless years became wearisome. Instead he wanted her to cleave to him, so that one fate would bind them both. He was mortal and so she too must accept the Doom of Men.
It had been a hard choice, but no one had ever loved her with such unfailing passion as Aragorn. She had never been wanted as he wanted her. She had never been pursued with such ardor. The intensity of his love was irresistible. She knew that her father had been disappointed by her choice. He had warned her it would be a hard road, but it was a path she had willingly chosen.
Through the long years of their betrothal, she had never doubted Aragorn's love for her. His desire for her had been the underlying constant of her life since she had met him. But it was a treasure which she had prized too lightly.
She had become his wife, and the mother of his children, but she had never fully committed herself to him, not the way he'd wanted. A part of her, she now saw, had resented the demands he had made on her. In subtle ways, she had held against him all that she had sacrificed on his behalf.
At last she began to understand why he didn't want her to go to Rivendell. She was holding on to her father's house instead of holding fast to her husband.
She had considered Aragorn too possessive, but now she saw she had given him reason to be jealous. Her allegiance was divided.
She also began to see that his possessive nature and his passion were both the fruit of his mortality. He knew he was subject to death, and so he must seize each day. He had not given her a hundred years to consider his suit because time did not give him that luxury. He had not wanted her to be parted from him because his life was fleeting and he had wanted to share every moment of it with her.
Yet he had left her, disappearing into the night without a word. Could it be that the desire which had always bound him to her had died?
"No, no, please, no," Arwen whispered, burying her face in the banner.
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