1. A Proper Man for Summer
Ivorwen inwardly berated herself for feeling so excited. At her age it was the height of foolishness. She had lived long enough to know that high expectations were rarely fulfilled. But surely any grandmother would be excited at the prospect of seeing her grandson again after eighteen years? Especially a grandson for whom her farsight had predicted great things.
She might be getting old but the memories of the last time she had set eyes on little Aragorn were as clear as if it had been yesterday. She still saw that child in her dreams. He was such a beautiful child, warm and loving and advanced for his tender years. It had well nigh broken her heart when the child and his mother had been torn from her to protect him from the Enemy.
Ivorwen had seen Gilraen a few times over the years, brief furtive visits that had never been long enough for either of them and caused as much pain as joy. Gilraen had found it hard to settle at Rivendell, but had reported that her child was thriving there and was the fairest, cleverest and most loving son that any mother had ever given birth to.
Ivorwen smiled wryly. Of course his mother would say that! What if Aragorn had become too Elvish and could not relate to the people he was supposed to lead? Or what if living at Rivendell had made him spoiled and soft? What if her dreams turned into nightmares?
Her elder daughter's boy, Halbarad, had already met Aragorn when he had been out riding with the sons of Elrond, but oblivious to the fact that the young man was his kinsman and chieftain, had paid him small heed and could do little to satisfy his grandmother's curiosity.
It had been decided by Master Elrond and the Dúnedain elders that Aragorn should meet his people at their annual gathering by the shores of Lake Nenuial to celebrate Loëndë. A new face would attract little attention from the Enemy amongst so many and the powers of darkness were at their weakest when the nights were at their shortest.
What few knew was just how fitting it was, as Gilraen had confided that the boy had been conceived here twenty-one summers ago at the annual celebration. Ivorwen recalled that long ago celebration as if it had been yesterday. She had but to close her eyes and she could see her daughter sitting by the campfire with Arathorn on the single night he had attended the festival. Such a night it had been with more shooting stars seen in the sky than any man living could recall.
Ivorwen could endure sitting in her tent no longer. Her earlier excitement had turned to apprehension. She cast aside her needlework and went outside. She pulled her shawl closely around her shoulders and shivered slightly. It was cold for June and summer was slow to come this year. The earth itself seemed to be like their people, trapped in an endless winter.
Ivorwen looked around her. Soon she feared there would be none left save old women such as she and their memories. Every year the numbers declined and this year there were fewer men than ever, or so it seemed, especially those of mature years. There were times she had been thankful that she had borne only daughters to be spared the pain of the women around her who mourned their slaughtered sons. She knew, though, that such feeling were selfish as her people needed warriors so badly. Maybe she had been punished in the long years of separation from the daughter and grandson she loved. There had been times when she wondered if it had been just to Gilraen to encourage her to marry Arathorn, a grim and aging man and one who she knew was doomed. Yet her farsight had told her that great things would come of the union and now she was about to be reunited with the child on whom so many hopes rested.
Children were playing amongst the tents, laughing as if they had not a care in the world while they kicked a ball made of rags. A group of women were spinning and singing as they worked. The men, ever watchful, polished their weapons, but they too sang while they worked, ballads telling of great battles and victories of long ago.
Ivorwen walked down to the shores of the lake. It was peaceful here away from the bustle of the camp. A young couple walked hand in hand, oblivious to all save each other. Ivorwen thought wistfully of the last time she was here and watching her daughter and son- in- law set off for a stroll on the shore. Arathorn had not been young, unlike these lovebirds, but the girl with her face turned trustingly towards the young man could have been her Gilraen. Not that any young woman could match Gilraen's beauty- not in her mother's eyes at least.
The breeze rippled the water creating softly undulating waves. From where she stood, Ivorwen could clearly see the ruined towers of Annuminas on the far side of the lake. They still stood, isolated and grim, a reminder of past glories. Ivorwen was so lost in thought that she hardly noticed the young man approaching until he stood at her side. He too gazed across the lake.
"How splendid the City once must have been!" he said.
"Is this your first visit here?" she asked reluctant to turn her head to look at her companion.
"I came with my mother for a brief visit long ago," the young man replied.
Ivorwen laughed. "Long ago is before you were born, lad," she replied, "when these desolate ruins were a fine city."
"It could one day be rebuilt when the Dark Lord is overthrown," said the boy.
"The young are allowed their dreams," said Ivorwen. "The old have lost hope. An endless winter has fallen upon our people.
"There is always hope," said the youth. "Spring must follow winter and the splendour of summer follow spring."
Ivorwen spun round to face him. She studied him carefully, taking in the chiselled features, dark hair and sparkling grey eyes. He was fairer than most and there was something familiar about the lad. He was a stranger, yet familiar.
'What is your mother's name, lad?" she asked, hoping her voice did not tremble.
The boy hesitated as if debating whether or not she could be trusted. "Her name is Gilraen," he said at last. "But mistress, you look pale, are you unwell?" He put a protective hand on her arm and gazed at her with friendly grey eyes.
For a moment it seemed to Ivorwen that the boy had a shining gem upon his brow. His touch was warm and seemed to surge through every fibre of her being Then a flash of farsight came to her. The boy was now a man ripe in years. The sky grew ever darker and her grandson carried a mighty sword in his hand. The darkness cleared. Aragorn now wore a green gem upon his breast and the sceptre of Annuminas was in his hand. The ruins surrounding her had become a fair city. Farsight did not lie. Somehow this boy would not only be Chieftain, but King and restore the lost glory of the Dúnedain. A great wave of elation surged through her. Maybe dreams could come true?
Suddenly the sun came out turning the grey surface of the lake to silver.
"Why, lad, I have never felt better in many a year," Ivorwen said. She smiled and reached out to take his hand. "I know who you are, lad, and the sight of you gladdens an old woman's heart. You are my grandson, Aragorn, son of Gilraen and Arathorn. You have rekindled hope in my heart. Maybe summer will come again for our people."
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.