It hangs there, temptingly, tauntingly loose on its chain just below his throat. The silver links are slender: sleek and sinuous in the way all Elf-wrought things are, nearly insubstantial. Looking at them, I am seized with a sudden, vicious certainty that I could wrap a length of them about a single finger and snap them like so much fraying thread. And then there would be nothing to stop me. From taking. From possessing.
I lower my head, deliberately breaking my fixed gaze, drawing one ragged breath, and then another. Such thoughts are not befitting a warrior who has sworn to do his duty first. Such thoughts are not befitting a man whose beleaguered city and people remain under a threat that grows ever more terrible by the hour. Such thoughts are not befitting the son of the Steward of Gondor.
It has grown so cold now, and I have known nothing but fighting for too many years. Endless vigilance and relentless war have all but robbed me of my father, shorn my city of its proud beauty, drained my heart of hope. My sword-arm trembles when I think of taking up the broad blade yet another time. My shoulder aches bone-deep from bearing the weight of the shield. I long to have some small measure of the fire back within me again, some small measure of strength. Just enough so I can carry on; I would not dare ask for more. He could give all that to me, if he were willing.
He is not willing. The fine chain winks mockingly at me in the diffuse white glow of Lothlorien's midnight, as though sharing some vast, private joke. Look at me, it seems to say, I appear to be fragile and yet I am unbreakable. Whereas you appear to be unbreakable, and yet...
I am staring again. He does not notice, he is asleep, but I should not be staring. The chain rises and falls with every slow breath, rolls gently with every swallow. It should be as thick as stout cord, and then I would not gaze at it so often. I would have gazed upon it sooner, and understood, but it is too late now. I should not be staring.
Such a little thing.
If he did not carry it, he could be mine. I could go to him, and he could turn those solemn lake-clear eyes on me and dry my foolish tears, and I could touch my lips to him without fear. How beautiful he is! The taking, the possessing--I shiver in horror at the fleeting madness that had gripped me moments ago, madness born of anger and despair. Those shameful desires are gone as if they had never been, banished by the light of his presence. Even against the hushed, ethereal splendor of Lothlorien, he is radiant.
Even if he did not carry it, he would not be mine. I am only a Steward's son.
He is meant for destiny. He is meant for history. He is meant for another.
He wears the glittering medallion of Arwen Undomiel upon his breast.
I bow my head to my King, though he does not see it. The tears are not important; I settle myself to lie quietly in the cool grass near him, as a protector should, though he does not need protection here.
But I must know my duty.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.