Arwen let her embroidery sink into her lap and took a deep breath of the fragrant air. It felt good to be out again after the recent rains, to see the sun unobstructed by dark clouds. The flowers of the White Tree above her were swaying in the breeze, giving off a sweet smell that reminded Arwen of the beauty of Valinor that she would never see. But it was well as it was and she did not regret her decision for a single moment. She had found her home, the place where she truly belonged. And she had come to love the children of the sun that embraced life so much more passionately than her own kin. Here they were, some of the greatest ladies of the realm, enjoying life while it lasted. And they were right; every moment was precious.
"A beautiful spot you have chosen there."
They stopped their talking looked up to see who had arrived. But Arwen did not need to see his face to know that it was her beloved. Aragorn was standing next to the Tree, one hand lightly placed on its trunk. It seemed to Arwen that the Tree rejoiced in the contact of its lord; the colour grew bolder, the leaves brighter. It was as if it drew physical strength from him.
Arwen placed her handiwork back into the basked at her feet and smiled at him. "Do join us, dearest lord, if you will bear women's talk. We were talking about Lothíriel's wedding."
"How could I refuse such an offer," he answered and smiled his dazzling smile and went around the fountain to join them.
Trying to conceal her blush, Lothíriel bowed her head and moved to the side so that Aragorn could sit next to Arwen on the padding that they had laid on the moist grass. He laid an arm around her and drew her against him.
"Now I feel like the only rooster at a hen party."
Arwen laughed with the other women, gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and whispered, "And a formidable one at that."
"And you are a formidable hen," he whispered back. Then louder, "I hope that all is well with the wedding and agreed upon."
"Yes," Lothíriel said, "I was only disappointed that Éomer did not come for the midsummer festivities. I had hoped to show him something."
"Alas, a king is seldom free to pursue his heart's desire. I am sure that he is as impatient to see you again as you are, but in his last letter he wrote of trouble on his northern borders. I believe that it is nothing serious, but it requires his attention nonetheless."
Arwen closed her eyes, leaned against the solid strength of her husband's body and let their talk wash over her. The sun was pleasantly warm on her eyelids and she enjoyed the nearness of his beloved and the sound of his deep voice amongst the high ones of the women. Before she knew it, she had dozed off.
When she woke again, it was to a light kiss on her forehead. She opened her eyes and found Aragorn leaning over her, but she could not see any of her companions. She smiled at him and pulled him down for a real kiss.
His hand was featherlight on her cheek. "I told them to let you sleep and then sent them off."
"Oh." She set up quickly and blinked. The last thing she remembered was sitting snuggled against him and thinking how wonderful it would be. "Did I really asleep?"
"Yes, beloved. And I let you sleep until I could no longer refrain from kissing you awake like the prince in children's tales. I hope that you are well rested now, for I have arranged something for tonight."
That piqued her curiosity. "Do tell!"
He held up a finger and chuckled. "Ah, my inquisitive vanimelda. If I told you now, it would no longer be a surprise, would it?"
She nudged him playfully but, knowing that it would be futile once his mind was set, did not argue.