Where the Shadow Lies: 8. Cerin Amroth

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8. Cerin Amroth

Spring was bursting in Lothlorien as they rode into the Golden Wood and were confronted by Haldir's archers. Bows were drawn, wicked gold arrow points inches from their throats, an unheard of action by the Lord of the Galadrim against his Imladris brethren. This was no mistake of an inexperience subaltern. Haldir himself stepped from the cover of the brush with sword drawn.

"Mae Govannen, Haldir." Aragorn bowed to the golden-haired march warden. "Well met on this fine spring day." Aragorn noticed the quick assessment, the shifted look to Elladan, and his brother's subtle nod.

"You look like you've been dragged through Mordor." Haldir's light eyes turned merry. He ordered the arrows unnocked. "A story I will have to hear, and soon. But, the lady awaits you, after…" Haldir sniffed, "a bath and food."

Oh, the hot bubbling spring-fed pools, the soap smelling of the meadows, and clean linen! Aragorn almost felt alive again and he could feel himself starting to come back to the world. Lothlorien was wondrous for healing both the body and the spirit. Elladan assessed the myriad bruises, gouges, and scrapes that were slowly healing and pronounced him of the living, if not absolutely ready for duty yet. Aragorn found a quiet place among the roots of the great mallorn, thatched by the leafy branches and a sheer canopy, where his bed was laid out with soft blankets. Fine clothes were folded and waiting on it.

Dressed in leggings and a silvery grey tunic, he searched for Elladan who seemed to have disappeared into the forest green, so he sought out Lady Galadriel. He stopped at a clear pool and checked his appearance before he mounted the stairs to her flet. Half expecting to see a hollow wraith with burning red eyes, he was surprised by his reflection. Clean shaven, thinner, and with longer hair, the right side caught back in a braid held with a leaf pin, the face was one that hadn't greeted him in years. He smiled into his silver eyes and almost caught Estel, Elven-lord of Imladris, youngest son of Lord Elrond, smiling back.

At the foot of the great Mallorn, Galadriel's personal guard indicated she was closeted with business so Aragorn walked out upon Cerin Amroth. The soft breeze and the fragrance of the elanor and nephridil were a tonic. The day was warm and he still weary so he stretched out full length on the soft grass, inside the circle of trees, watching the white cloud castles in the sky. Soon he was lulled into a healing doze by the sweetness of the meadow grass, the warm breezes balm to his spirit, and the soft voices of elven children playing in the distance.

The sunlight played across his eyelids and he heard merry laughter and elf song. He began to think of Arwen, absent from his dreams since he entered Mordor. He could smell her subtle perfume and feel her stroke his hair. He dreamed he was lying, his head in her lap, in the orchard at Rivendell. Like so many of his old dreams of Arwen, this one seemed solid and real. She soothed him gently, tracing his brows and the planes of his face with her fingertips.

"I do not want to open my eyes. I know you are a dream and will vanish like vapor in the sun, like so many times before," he murmured to the wind.

"I am here, beloved," answered her musical voice, and she was, sitting next to him on the hill of Cerin Amroth. Her lips brushed his, careful of his hurts, fingers caressed the fading bruises on his brow and his cheeks. His grey eyes held hers, searching, and rising up on his elbow, he kissed her again. Her eyes were grave and shuttered; she held herself from him. He felt a sinking in his heart. Arwen was direct as always.

"Galadriel wants to be sure she treats not with a Nazgul-lord. Elladan argued you were fine and wholesome, but still she felt uneasiness in you so she sent me to be the final judge." Aragorn saw Arwen had an unsheathed blade at her side.

"And, my love, you will kill me if you doubt my trueness?" He held her lovely grey eyes in his gaze.

"Aye," she whispered, "for you would want it so." He shut his eyes, not wanting to see the stroke if it came.

"I am not Nazgul-lord but perhaps something worse," he confessed. He heard her sharp intake of breath. He would almost rather feel the cold steel trace a burning line across his throat than reveal his sin to Arwen. But unlike Halsea, he would rather face her loathing. He took a deep breath and plunged ahead, telling the entire story, wanting all to be done so he could finally be condemned, as he knew he should. When he was finished, they sat in silence for a time. He had not the strength left to meet her eyes.

"Should I still fear your blade?" Aragorn finally asked. Her healing fingers traced his jaw line and his eyelids and they turned Aragorn's face to hers.

"Nay." Her eyes held love and hope. "Fallon was a brave man and a good friend to you. You did what few would do for a friend: you followed him into the Pit itself, trying to save his life, but his insanity had taken him beyond all rescue. Your grief I share with you, but you are owed no blame, so do not damn yourself. In saving your own life, you saved us all. It was what you had to do," Arwen wisely said. That easily he was forgiven by the Evenstar, the fairest of all her people. "Galadriel will see you now." Her silken hair brushed his cheek She rose easily, caught his hand and pulled him to his feet. In a moment of foresight, he saw her again standing before the White Tower, his Queen, wise and healing to Gondor's people and to its King. Aragorn knew then any pain he ever carried could be healed, any action he was charged with could be completed, as long as Arwen still loved him.

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.

Story Information

Author: sindarinelvish

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Genre: Action

Rating: General

Last Updated: 08/01/06

Original Post: 08/01/06

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