Cold wind swirled around them and Aragorn cupped his hand around the candle he held to protect the flickering flame.
It was winter solstice and all of the inhabitants of Carastar had gathered in the huge square to await the dawn. They stood silently in a huge circle, each of them bearing a little light to chase away the darkness.
Aragorn watched as the sun made its slow ascent over the mountains; first a deep blue, which gave way to a pale red and a clear blue. As the sun's first rays touched the village, Gildor finally spoke with a solemn voice.
"The longest night has passed and a new day is dawning. Now is the time when the days wax and the nights wane. And so does our hope for a new, brighter time for the Dúnedain grow. Let us hold true to this hope that we have in our Lord returned."
Gildor extended his hand towards him and Aragorn felt his stomach flutter. He was the one that symbolized hope for all these people here, and for many more that lived in the hidden villages of Eriador. He could not remember a time when he had not been Estel, although he had not known what it signified for almost all of his life. That knowledge he had only gained less than a year ago.
So much had happened in the past year that it was, when he looked back, unbelievable. A huge burden had unexpectedly been placed on his young shoulders the day his name and heritage was revealed to him. Filled with hope and great pride of his lineage, he had wandered in woods - and met the love of his life, and realized that all that he was was nothing compared to her dignity and loveliness. He sighed inwardly at the the memory of her face, her sparkling eyes when she laughed her musical laugh, which was for him the most beautiful sound in all of Arda. He was not sure what he had expected, but it all ended with a few stern words from the one he thought of as his father.
And then he had left his childhood home and come here to start a new life among his people, his new people, met with high expectations, and found new friends. He could still see Halbarad at their first meeting, standing there in the hall and muddy from curly head to toe. He had been somehow disrespectful to him, but Aragorn had found out that it was exactly what he needed. A friend who did not care about heritage or titles.
It had been a hard year and more than once Aragorn had come close to shedding tears. But Halbarad had always been there to cheer him up in those troubled times when fitting in had been difficult.
He looked down at the candle a last time before blowing it out, nodded at Gildor and then turned to the others.
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.