10. A Spark Of Light
Arwen's eyes blinked back into focus when she felt Aragorn stirring beside her. Turning, she wondered to see her husband breathing heavily, his hands turned into fists and his head lolling sideways.
Yet the Man was still lost in the land of dreams, obviously caught in a nightmare. Arwen pushed herself in a sitting position and brought herself close to her husband.
"Hervenn nín, echuio,"* she whispered, touching with light fingers Aragorn's face. She didn't permit herself to get surprised at the thin film of sweat that covered her beloved's face.
Aragorn awoke with a small cry, startled and disoriented. His eyes darted at every direction as though looking for something in the darkness; then he saw Arwen, looking at him worriedly. Only then did he start calming himself, heaving a great sigh of relief.
"Thank you," he said softly to Arwen, rubbing the remains of his agitated sleep off his eyes.
Though the Elven-woman smiled a bit, she sobered again at once.
"Do you wish to speak of it?" she asked gently, her fingers now running through the Man's sweat-dampened hair.
Aragorn didn't answer in words. Bringing himself close to his wife, he placed an arm over her form and then rested his head against her chest to listen to the beating of her heart. Arwen accepted him in her embrace, her hands always caressing him soothingly, waiting to hear of the terrible dream that troubled her husband's rest.
"Do you remember when I told you what happened to Amon Sûl? When I was guiding the Hobbits to Rivendell?"
"I do," answered the Elven-woman. "Where the Ringwraiths caught up with you, is it not so?"
Aragorn nodded. "I was there again, yet there was no sign of Frodo or the others this time. I started looking for them, fearing the worst, and soon I found myself in the middle of the ruins of the great tower. There was still nothing to be seen though, so I started shouting the Hobbits' names, one by one; I did not get an answer back. Then my blood ran cold in my veins and, upon turning, I saw one of the Wraiths standing a few feet away from me, his sword already in his hands. He started coming at me, closer by the moment, until I could not take it any longer and so, unsheathing my own sword, I attacked him."
The Man's hands became fists again as he recalled his dream, but Arwen remained silent, letting Aragorn carry on.
"We fought for, what it seemed like, many hours on end, both of us proving an equal match for the other. A storm started brewing over our heads and soon lightning began striking close to us, yet neither of us paid heed to blinding flashes of light. Just when out clash had become most fierce, lightning struck my sword and made it burst into flames. The red tongues didn't harm my hands, but the Wraith quickly stepped back in apparent fright. Seeing my chance, I smote him with every ounce of strength within me with the fiery blade.
"A blood-curdling cry filled the air as the Wraith's robes caught fire in an instant, yet the Wraith itself made no attempt to flee. It simply stood in front of me, writhing, its form becoming more visible as the robes were consumed to ashes, until I was able to say I could see a face, except… I could not. There was only a pair of sea-green eyes in a frame of transparent white, locked on me and revealing nothing but utter sorrow and pain. Valar save me, but… I knew those eyes, Arwen, and the last time I had seen them there was nothing but brilliant life in them! My heart felt like it had stopped beating and everything had come to a standstill. Just when I thought I was losing my mind and I was about to scream, you woke me up."
"Whose eyes did you see?" asked Arwen in a whisper.
It took many moments for Aragorn to finally answer.
"It is of no matter. The last I saw him was seventy years ago."
"Aragorn, everything we see in our dreams is of importance," insisted the Elven-woman.
"But this dream makes no sense," said the Man, now facing Arwen. "Why would I see such a thing, unless…?" Aragorn froze, his eyes widening. "Unless I am warned against a danger that is yet to come? An evil that will consume everything I care for?"
Arwen shushed him gently by placing two fingers on her beloved's lips.
"My love, not all dreams are glimpses to the future. What danger is yet to come when the worst of evils and everything ill-hearted that was connected to it has already been destroyed?"
"Then what could be the meaning of it all?"
Arwen sat up, taking Aragorn's hands in her own.
"My father told me this long ago and I am quite certain he told you also, so I will simply remind you of it. Dreams are often the mind's way to express our desires, or things that we fear. Sometimes, however, dreams can also be a way for the mind to sort out any memories and knowledge we gain every day in our lives. And, if there is anything that is troubling us, the mind still tries to find a solution while we are sleeping, using those memories and knowledge and connecting them to a whole, thus forming the dream. It is true that the mind, working in peculiar ways, connects knowledge and memories quite strangely at times, thus giving the dreams the feeling of the bizarre; still the answer is there. All we have to do is discover the hidden meanings within those dreams."
"But how am I supposed to find those answers?" wondered the Man.
"Ah, now we come down to it," said Arwen, sighing a bit with a small smile. "I am afraid that the only way you can find them is if you find what it is that troubles your mind and caused that dream."
Aragorn bowed his head in defeat. He knew that Arwen's words were true, yet it felt that following her advice was easier said than done.
"I will do as you say," he finally said; then looked outside the window. "Arien has arisen. We should see to our tasks of today."
Arwen, however, didn't let Aragorn go. Still holding the Man with one hand, she slightly traced with her fingers of her free hand her beloved's face.
"There is no need to go anywhere for the present," she said softly, her face mere inches away from Aragorn's. "The servants already know their chores and no urgent matters came up that nobody else can see to them." A fleeting kiss teased the Man's lips. "And no one knows we have awoken yet," she added with a rare mischief in her voice, sealing their lips in another, deeper kiss.
Such a tantalizing and clear request was something Aragorn couldn't deny. After letting out a small moan of pleasure at the kiss and wrapping his arms around Arwen's slim waist, he gently laid her down and brought himself so close to his wife that he could feel both their pounding hearts…
And then there was a knock at the door.
"Sire? Are you awake? A rider from Rohan has come, saying that he's from Lord Éomer's escort."
The couple groaned as quietly as possible in case they were heard.
"The urgent matters caught up with us," said Aragorn wryly as he rose reluctantly off the bed to get dressed. "Make certain the newcomer feels welcome! I will come shortly!" he commanded the servant through the closed door. "And have the rest of you prepared for more visitors! I am certain the scout is here to announce Lord Éomer's arrival in Minas Tirith!"
"Yes, Sire." And the sound of hurried footsteps clearly showed that the servant was gone.
In a matter of moments, Aragorn was ready and, sighing, cast his glance at Arwen. He clearly didn't wish to leave. Rising with a small smile, however, the Elven-woman gave her husband a loving kiss.
"There will be other times," she assured him kindly. "Now go. I will see soon enough."
Aragorn nodded slightly and, after caressing his wife's cheek in affection, he walked out.
Ceranos woke up and he immediately closed his eyes as the sunlight blinded him. Taking caution, he used his hand as a screen and then dared a peek around. He almost gasped to find himself in a room, but then he remembered: he was in Gondor at the Houses of Healing, where his wound was to be taken care by Lord Elessar's orders.
He slowly sat up, using his strong arm as support while wincing to feel his head heavy and his body sore. It certainly seemed that he woke up more tired than after he allowed himself to drift off to sleep.
It was then that his nostrils twitched, catching a faint smell of food in the air. Turning, he was surprised to see that on the nightstand was a tray, a bowl filled with soup and a plate with fruit on it.
He huffed in dismay. Just how heavily did he sleep that he didn't hear anybody coming in?
Well done. Now everyone in this place will talk of an Elf's sharp senses and laugh!
He glanced back at the tray and then checked himself. It was with a sigh that he admitted this, but, though he guessed the soup and the fruit were quite tasty, he didn't wish to eat anything; he simply couldn't bring himself to feel hungry enough for it.
He instinctively pushed the tray a little further away as though to distance himself from it; then looked around again. He was getting more restless by the minute and he wished to do something about it. Staying within these four walls, powerless, felt too much like Rhûn now. Did he have the strength to get off the bed though?
There is only one way to find out.
He placed one foot on the floor, then the other. He didn't let himself be daunted by the feeling of the cold marble on his naked flesh and, once he got used to that slight chill, he stood up. Seeing that he managed to do that, Ceranos then targeted the chair with a set of clothes on it close by, wishing to see if he now had the vigour to walk. Being extra careful, he walked up to the chair, happy to see that things were not as difficult as he feared at first. By all means he felt far from healthy, but at least part of his strength had returned, an encouraging thought.
Pleased with himself, Ceranos decided to become a bit bolder. After all, if he was to stay here as Lord Elessar had suggested to him, he had to learn a thing or two about the place firsthand. He would venture out of the room and have a look around to see anything that there could be worth seeing.
There was a snag in his plan, however. Ceranos was almost certain that the healers would never allow him to go too far away, not while he was still recovering. They would return him in the room the instant they saw him.
Do not let yourself be seen then.
He reached for the clothes. There was a shirt, a pair of leggings and boots.
They will suffice, thought the Elf with a shrug and, as soon as he got dressed, he put the pillows and nightclothes under the sheets in such a way that, should anyone come in, he would think Ceranos was still sleeping.
A deceit, aye, but at least I will be free to explore the place without being missed. And with that thought in his mind and the resolution burning within his heart, he opened the door; looked to the left and right to see that there was no one in the corridor; and walked out.
The soft murmur that had been echoing at the Great Hall ceased the moment that the doors opened to reveal Lord Elessar and Queen Arwen in their royal clothing that was reserved for the greatest of occasions and the welcoming of honoured guests. The servants and all the people within watched in admiration at the couple, whispers of comment sounding here and there.
Yet no one could realise that, behind the grace that Aragorn and Arwen displayed, there was great anxiety within their hearts. The scout had announced to Lord Elessar that Éomer's escort was only an hour's ride away from Minas Tirith, and so all appropriate preparations had to be done in quite a short notice. What was worse, the guests were, for some reason or other, delayed.
"I am sorry, Arwen," Aragorn whispered so softly that only his wife heard him.
"Whatever for?" Arwen asked in the same tone, clearly puzzled.
"For not welcoming your father as it was fit to the Lord of Imladris. Now these arrangements for Éomer's sake make me feel uncomfortable."
"You welcomed him as a son welcomes his father," Arwen said with a small smile. "Moreover, I am quite certain that he understood it could not be helped. You have told him about Daurir, have you not?"
"Yes, and I believe that you have spoken to your brothers as well. I overheard them conversing with Legolas and Gimli as we were heading here."
"They cannot help but feel curious, like all of us. They even expressed their wish to meet him once he is a bit stronger."
"That will be arranged in due time," Aragorn said.
It was then that the Great Doors opened and one of the guards declared in a loud clear voice, "Éomer King, ruler of Rohan, home of the Horse-lords, and his wife, Queen Lothíriel."
The guard had barely finished his sentence when the King and Queen of Rohan walked in, causing everyone to stare in awe. Though Éomer came from blood of less greatness than those of Gondor, the last remnant of the Númenóreans, he nevertheless walked with a pride and strength that could be seen in few people; whereas Lothíriel's graceful and fair countenance reflected clearly her own Elven heritage, characteristic of all the people of Dol Amroth.
"Welcome, friend Éomer and ally of these lands," said Aragorn, rising in a formal greeting. "Your presence here honours us all and I hope that your stay will be pleasant in such joyful an occasion."
"The honour is mine, my friend and ally," answered Éomer, bowing.
Aragorn, however, clasped his hand on Éomer's shoulder, thus stopping him.
"You need not bow to a friend," he said. "Though it has been a long time since we have last met, our bonds of allegiance have not worn down."
"No, they have not indeed." Éomer smiled. "But I should still apologise for my delay. One of my horse's petals loosened on our way here and we had to slacken our pace so I would not discomfort it."
"I will have the blacksmith look into the matter, do not fret," Aragorn assured Éomer, his eyes flashing to the direction of his head-servant. With a nod of acknowledgment, the latter rushed to carry out his lord's silent command. "And is everything well in the land of Rohan?" He couldn't help noticing that Éomer's skin around the eyes was a bit discoloured.
"They are now," the young king answered, sensing Aragorn's curiosity. "I will tell you the tale some time if you wish it."
Aragorn nodded. "You can speak of it during luncheon. The table must have already been set and I am certain that both you and your wife must be too weary from the journey to keep you standing for long."
"Thank you, my friend." Éomer's smile broadened.
Smiling back and with a wave of his hand, Aragorn dismissed everyone in the court; then took Arwen by the hand to escort her and the newcomers to the dining hall. At that moment, however, a healer burst through the door and approached his lord, agitated.
"My Lord, the Elf you asked us to attend to," he panted in an attempt to speak and catch his breath at the same time. "He is gone."
Aragorn and Arwen exchanged a glance full of worry.
"Have you not looked for him?" Arwen asked the healer.
"We have, my Lady. He's nowhere in the Houses of Healing though!" answered the healer, distressed.
"Then try searching everywhere else," said Aragorn, "Even out in the streets if it is necessary. He cannot have gone too far away in his condition. Once you locate him and he is safe back into his room, let me know."
"Yes, my Lord." And with that, the healer hurried out again.
It was now Éomer's turn to look at Aragorn puzzled. "Is something amiss?"
"It seems I have my own tale to tell you, my friend," Aragorn answered with a smirk. "Let us go to the dining hall."
* Hervenn nín, echuio: My husband, awake. (Sindarin)
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.