1. One Equal Temper of Heroic Hearts
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Alfred Lord Tennyson
In the small hours of Midsummer night, the breeze that blew into the chamber was cool and refreshing. Listening intently, Aragorn heard faint, muffled sounds as the third watch took up their stations outside the Queen's Garden wall. He stifled a sigh and carefully shifted his hips. It was possible that he had been awakened by the noise and not by the call of his… unnatural lusts. Only a few hours ago he and Arwen had fallen sated into sleep amidst a tangle of their sweat-slicked limbs and damp, sticky sheets. Surely he was imagining the heaviness and the tight tingling in his loins. Carefully turning onto his side, he slipped a flap of sheet over the evidence of his arousal.
His desires did not seem right or normal, but whom could he ask? Gimli was as crotchety an old bachelor as any he had ever known. Legolas? Elladan? Elrohir? He preferred to be tormented in private by his lust than confide such longings to them. Celeborn? His mind shied away from the thought. Though he respected him, there had never been the kind of closeness between them that would allow for a question of this nature, and Celeborn was his wife's grandfather. No.
Éomer would have stared blankly and not have understood the question. Faramir? He cautiously approached the raw, empty place in his mind that Faramir had occupied for so long and found that it did not quite hurt to think of asking him. Faramir would probably have clasped him on the shoulder and said, "Let us search out the answer together." But he had lost the opportunity and they would not meet again within the bounds of Arda.
His wisest councilor lay quietly asleep next to him, but he could not possibly ask Arwen, could he? Her back was turned to him and the moonlight mingling with the faint yellow glow of the night candle outlined the smooth curve of her shoulder, the gentle dip of her waist and the long, lean arch of her leg. A river of night-dark hair lay under his hand and he remembered the light, cool feel of it sliding over his chest and stomach as her lips and tongue worked their way up his neck and sucked at his ear. He closed his lips as a moan threatened to escape their confines. So beautiful that every man who ever lived, save Beren, must envy him, and she always seemed willing, still… he clenched his teeth, closed his eyes and tried to think of something else.
Almost without his volition, his hand reached out and lightly draped over his sleeping wife. He encountered silk over skin, and knew a moment's disorientation. He clearly remembered slipping off the wisp of silk and lace that she had worn to bed. His hand slid higher and felt only skin. The garment must be tangled in with the sheet.
Arwen gave a wordless murmur of contentment and slid her hand over his. "Is it near dawn?" she asked, sleep blurring her words.
"No. Third watch just began."
"Hours more to sleep, then." She guided his hand onto her soft, full breast and wiggled towards him.
Aragorn jackknifed his hips away, lest she feel him hard and ready against her back, as the tingling tightened and waves of warmth spread out from the fleeting contact. He compressed his lips and took two shallow breaths, and then let out a long shuddering sigh.
"Do my desires ever distress or disgust you?" There, it was said.
Arwen went very still under his hand for several long moments. Rolling towards him, and further bunching up the sheet between them, she propped herself up on one hand. Her eyes glowed like faint stars against the blackness of the night, and her brows contracted in bewilderment, "What?" She shook her head. "Estel, my love, we have been married a long time."
"Eighty-five years today," he agreed.
"What have I said, or done, that would make you wonder that?"
"Nothing. It is not you, lady." Seeing the question still on her face, he added, "I am old. We have grandchildren approaching manhood, and Eldarion begins to look for a wife. Should I still be this eager?"
A smile spread over her features. "It was a lovely party tonight, but you did not have to ask me twice if I was ready to leave, if you remember, neither now nor ever. We were as eager to escape the dancing tonight as we were on our wedding night.."
Aragorn looked away and hung his head. "Nay. I was more eager tonight. Eighty-five years ago I felt as much apprehension as eagerness. Could the night possibly live up to my dreams and fantasies?" He met her eyes and felt his mouth twitch a lopsided grin. "Would I be able to satisfy you or merely burst and fall senseless as I approached you? But tonight – I know your moods and what pleases you, and, yes, I was eager tonight. You know well I am eager most nights, for I know what pleasures await us."
Arwen looked thoughtful. "Then, is there something you think would please you that you believe I am unwilling to try?"
"No. You please me in all ways. That is not…"he broke off and gave a grunt of frustration and started over. "I am not a scholar for scholarship's sake as Faramir would have liked to be, nor am I an Elf who can spend a hundred years or a thousand debating the niceties of philosophy, but I am neither unobservant nor uneducated. What I learned in my boyhood in Rivendell from all the sagas and stories, and everything I have heard since, tells me that the world has an arc much like a Man's life: a young, tumultuous beginning, a long productive middle, and final end. And if a Man or an Elf loves, there comes a time when the love is still there – the love is always there – but with age desire is supposed to fade and diminish as other concerns come to the fore."
He saw the dawning comprehension in her eyes. "So the sages tell us."
"Yes," he said, relieved that she understood his difficulty at last. "Gondor prospers, both North and South, and I do not think I neglect any part of my responsibilities. How can I know how much better it would be if my desires were to fade?"
"But you still have desires and this worries you?"
"Yes, and you understand my dilemma?"
"No. I would like more children."
Arwen laughed, a silver cascade of merriment that sent a renewed jolt of pleasure through him. Love and desire were still inextricably mixed, and he despaired of ever being able to separate them.
"I do not believe you are old," Arwen declared.
"By the reckoning of men, I was old the day we married. I have lived already more than twice the span of normal men," Aragorn said and sounded peevish even to himself..
"Old?" Arwen inspected him carefully. She reached over with her free hand and slid it through his hair. "Your hair is still more black than silver, and there is great deal of it."
"It does appear that I have escaped baldness," he said cordially, working hard to regulate his breathing.
She stroked her hand down his cheek. "You have most of your teeth, and none have rotted."
"Luck. I learned to duck young and so was rarely struck in the mouth."
As she ran her hand from his cheek down and over his chin to his neck he could feel her probing under his beard. "Firm jawline. The beard does not conceal sagging jowls."
Arwen grabbed his shoulders and pushed him flat against the pillows. Leaning over and kneading her way out from his neck, she worked her hands down his arms, sending shivers of pleasure along his limbs. Aragorn felt his hands tremble.
"Strong shoulders and powerful arms. Not stringy. It is obvious you do not spend all your time in meetings."
"Eldarion won our sword bout this morning."
"You are very proud of him. He is one of the few who makes you work for your victory."
"Many are better than I am. I am so aged they feel it is no honor to press me as hard as they might."
Arwen gave him an enigmatic smile and ran her hands down his hips to his thighs. "Strider always suited you. I watched you walk away from me that day I dismissed your love so cruelly and did not know that what I felt was desire. I believe you could still walk all day for many days if you needed to." She nodded her approval. "Narrow hips and a flat stomach."
Her hand pushed aside the lump of sheet draped over his loins. She paused. His eyes had drooped half closed as he lost himself in the sensations of her fingers moving over his skin. He opened them in time to see her tongue flick out and linger against her bottom lip, which looked fuller and more rigid than it had a minute ago. She swallowed.
"I see this is not an academic discussion."
"It never was," Aragorn managed to say before Arwen swung her head and her hair brushed against his nipples as her hand touched him and she danced her fingers around the tip. He drew in a breath in a hiss of pleasure and reached for her.
"We are well matched, my love, for I too am eager and my desires have not waned." Her eyes lit with mischief. "But in deference to your decrepit state, I promise to do most of the work this time."
(The Eldar's) time of generation was in their youth or earlier life, … For with regard to generation the power and the will are not among the Eldar distinguishable. Doubtless they would retain for many ages the power of generation, if the will and desire were not satisfied; but with the exercise of the power the desire soon ceases, and the mind turns to other things. The union of love is indeed to them great delight and joy, and the 'days of the children', as they call them, remain in their memory as the most merry in life; but they have many other powers of body and of mind which their nature urges them to fulfill.
Laws and Customs of the Eldar, HoMe 10, "Morgoth's Ring"
Regarding the children of Aragorn and Arwen, all we know is they had one son and at least two daughters. We don't even have a birth date for Eldarion, and only know that he "is a man full-ripe for kingship" when Aragorn dies at age 210. If they had a daughter or two early in their marriage and she/they married at a more normal age, they could easily have had 30-year-old grandchildren by the time of their 85th wedding anniversary.
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.