The Father of Hope - By PrincessofNumenor
He always enjoyed his walks through the city, but now.. Well, they had become burdensome of late. In days past, he could walk freely among his people, for a breath of fresh air, a restful moment.
But for Arador's son, this was no longer possible. he was recognized wherever he went, and the respectful nods of the men and the shy courtseys of the women annoyed him greatly, I could see. Could they not see that he was one of them, not a king to be revered?
I knew well the reason for their behavior. His father Arador rode frequently into danger with little regard for his safety, preferring to trust his luck. I could see it in their eyes: They thought that he would soon be dead, and that his son would take up leadership of the Dunedain.
I could see how much hated the thought.
As he worked his way up the sloping streets of Minas Tirith, trying to keep his face to the ground that he might not be recognized, he sighed heavily.
I contented myself to follow him. He would never see or feel me, for I had left his heart entirely.
"Darling, will you run down to the market and get some flowers, please? Your father has guests for dinner, and I want some to decorate the table," Ivorwen called to her daughter.
Her daughter Gilraen sighed, but tried to keep a smile on her face. "Yes, mother."
She stood from her writing desk and went out the door, shutting it loudly behind her. It gave her a small degree of satisfaction to here the stony echo and her mother's outcry from within the house.
The market her mother spoke of was several levels down
Sighing again, she began to walk briskly down the hill. I smiled to myself. I pushed Arathorn higher, and her lower. I would make them meet soon.
She recognized him immediately, but she, being of rebellious nature and having heard too many praises concerning the Prince of the Dunedain, gritted her teeth and altered her course to avoid him.
It was I who loosened the stone in the street, causing her to trip and fall to her knees. I regret now that she scraped her hand badly, but it was the only way.
Arathorn, ever the chivalrous gentleman, went to her aid promptly, and my mischief was justified many times over my the result.
"My lady?" he said, kneeling beside her. "Are you all right? I saw you take a fall, and..." he broke off awkwardly. He'd never known the right things to say to women.
"Yes, yes, I'm fine," she said, trying to keep back the tears in her eyes. Her hand was bleeding and hurt her badly.
"Can I assist you in any way? Your wound looks painful."
"It is not a 'wound', Lord Arathorn. Your soldier's vocabulary does you wrong. My hand is only scratched and will be better shortly," she snapped, perhaps more harshly than she meant. "But thank you anyway," she added.
I smiled. This was splendid!
"Of course, my lady. If I may ask, what is your name? You have the advantage of knowing mine," he smiled.
"I am Gilraen, daughter of Dírhael," she answered carelessly, nursing her hand.
"Ah! Then we are kin from afar! It is an honor to meet you, Lady Gilraen."
"It is a greater honor for me to finally meet you, my lord. I have heard many tales, indeed," she returned primly.
"I regret that," he said softly.
What was he doing, I asked myself. I had arranged it perfectly, and he had many credits to his name that would charm a lady. Would he now deny them?
"You regret it?" Gilraen scoffed. "For what reason?"
"It would take more time to explain than I have this day, Lady Gilraen. You will forgive me, I hope, if I do not answer."
I hid myself quickly. He had said my name! I could not be seen.
Gilraen looked strangely at Arathorn, but accepted his words quietly, getting to her feet.
He drew a cloth from his pocket and took her injured hand gently to bind it.
"It would not do a lady of the Dunedain to bleed like a common, pricked Orc," he joked as he tied the last knot on the cloth.
He chuckled at his own humor, and she found his laugh contagious, I was glad to see.
A smile came to her face, rendering her much more attractive than when she frowned, as she so often did.
"Thank you, Lord Arathorn. You have been very kind, but I must go and complete my errand, or my mother will begin to worry."
"Of course!" He released her bandaged hand. "It was truly an honor, my lady. I hope we meet again soon."
"Yes, as do I," Gilraen smiled, continuing her walk to the market as Arathorn continued upward. "Farewell."
I smiled. I had done well. My part was finished. I could only watch now, and trust I had done my work well.
She married him almost a year later. He was of full years and a hard, stern man, and she was considered a child by many. Her mother approved, having the gift of foresight, but her father, also laden with the gift, was sorrowful, forseeing the time of Arathorn's death was nigh.
I wish Dírhael had not been right, but he was.
Young Aragorn was still a babe in arms when Arador, his grandfather, was taken by trolls and given a brutal death. Arathorn became Chieftain of the Dunedain, sooner than men had looked for.
When Gilraen, still young and fair, kissed her husband goodbye before he rode out to battle that day, she never imagined it to be the last time she would kiss him. I was there, watching, and Arathorn held her tight to himself for many long moments before smiling and embracing his young son.
Elrond's sons were there also, and they were by Arathorn's side when an Orkish arrow pierced his eye and slew him.
I walked beside them, invisible as always, when they brought his cold body back to the city.
I wept with the people as they mourned their fallen leader, and I tried as many others did to give aid to Arathorn's widow, but to no avail.
She retreated within herself, growing cold and distant. At the counsel of the sons of Elrond, she gave thought to Aragorn's danger as the Heir of Isildur and fled with him to Imladris.
I took the hand of her son and never let him go, not even in his darkest moment.
The Lord of Imladris sensed my presence around and within the boy and gave Arathorn's son my name to bear. Estel. Hope.
When Gilraen finally let go of me, at the end of her life, she whispered, as she had done once before, "I have given Hope to the Dunedain. I have kept no hope for myself."
A tear slipped from her green eyes, and her life fled her to seek her love.
I met her there, and watched with joy as she was reunited with Arathorn, her husband. I am with them and with their son. I am with you as well, always.
I am Hope.