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Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Disclaimer: The events, locations, situations and characters of "The Lord of the Rings" belong to the Tolkien estate. No money is being solicited for or made from this work of fan fiction
What did I see, when first I saw him? Oh, another of the Rangers. A young one, another who would stand there gasping if I so much as spoke with him. I certainly had not expected to see their Chieftain.
You have to understand, I had been away from Imladris for over forty years. I had not been aware that Arathorn had died, that his child had been left near-orphaned as a very babe by the death. So when I saw the young man, and heard him singing in the garden, I just thought him another of the Rangers, another youngster sent off on messenger duty. He was singing reasonably well for a Man, truth be told, so I paused and listened to him for a while. Of course, when he got to the bit about Beren seeing Luthien, I had to peek out at him - I've been told often enough by older relatives (particularly grandmother) about my resemblance to her.
Well, I did not expect it to have that kind of an effect on him. He stopped singing, and went as pale as a bedsheet. So, after I had sat him down, and he had got his composure back, I asked who he was. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard that he was actually the Chieftain, and the son of Arathorn. Poor lad. He told me that he had more or less grown up in Imladris, that my father was the only father that he had known. I think his whole heart spilled out at my feet that afternoon. Certainly his entire life story did. I had never realised that twenty years was such a long time for Men until that point. For me, twenty years was nothing, a blink of an eye. For him, it was his entire life. I had been paying a courtesy visit to Grandmama for longer than this lad had been alive.
I stayed talking with him for the rest of the afternoon. I sometimes find myself wishing that I had stayed longer in Lothlorien, or that I had stayed less time. I had not been aware of the rather strong passionate streak which ran through the line of Isildur until then. I could see the signs that he was falling head-over-ears in love with me, something which had occasionally happened before, with some of his ancestors (Arador was one of them), but I thought that he would get over it. After all, he was mortal. He would die and I would live on. A romance between us could never be.
Even then, I think there was that element of curiosity, that wondering about what it would be like to live a limited life. To know that one day you would go beyond this world, to know that there would be an ending. I have always wondered about it, wondered why Father's younger brother chose to embrace that mortal part of his heritage, to choose to die. I never knew. I suppose that Father did not either. I wondered what this young man would see in his lifetime, what choices he would make. I wondered whether the flame of life burned brighter in him and in his kind than it did in the elven peoples.
I suppose you could say that I was caught then, although I did not know it. Certainly, if you ask Estel, he will tell you that he fell in love with me at first sight, and that he never wanted anyone else to be his wife. In a way, it was almost frightening, the first time he told me that. The depth and single-mindedness of his interest. I was almost terrified. For me, this young Man would give up his duty. For me, he would sacrifice his family. For me. I had never had anyone feel that way about me before. It was almost intoxicating, the sense of power that came with it. Can you understand now why I fled back to Grandmama?
It was another twenty years or more before I saw him again. This time, he had come to Lothlórien, returning from a long time in the Southern kingdoms. There he had learned pain, learned silence, learned how to hide his thoughts from the prying gaze of other Men. Grandmama, once she had learned who he was, dressed him finely. Dressed up properly, neatly groomed, he looked to be a fine man. He had grown, in his time away. Not just physically, although he had lost a lot of the rather gawky look that the young men of the Dúnedain have when they are between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five, where they are just growing into their height, their shoulders, their feet and their faces. He looked steadier, calmer. He looked older than either of my brothers, which rather surprised me.
Grandmama left the two of us to talk for a long time. He told me tales of the world outside, stories of the people he had seen, of the world he knew. Stories of Gondor, of Rohan, of Pelagir, of Umbar, of Harad. Stories he needed to tell, in some cases, to lay the pain in them to rest, to release the hurt that was inside. I listened, took in his tales. Much of what he had seen I knew vaguely of, from the stories that others of my people had told when visiting Imladris. However, listening to his tales, it took on a new light, a new depth. I wanted to see the Southern lands. More, I wanted to see them with him, have him point things out to me, have his presence by my side. I realised that I was falling in love with him.
I let it happen.