The Undying Lands - (chapter 57)

Ariengil woke late, and she heard commotion outside. Her window was open, so she looked down into the city of Minas Tirith. A market stall owner was having an argument with a customer, but there was nothing important. Ariengil went back to her bed, which was still warm on her side of the bed. Eldarion had presumably left in the early morning because the rest of the bed was cold.
After changing her dress and putting her hair up, Ariengil left the room and went downstairs. The hall was now empty, other than a couple of chairs that servants were moving out. She wandered into the grand room where she and Eldarion had sat, and then through into another large room. From there she followed her nose, which led her to the kitchens.
The cooks welcomed her and one sat her down, asking her if she was hungry. She immediately realised that she was, so he began to make her a salad. She ate hungrily and they chatted amiably, then she heard in the distance Eldarion calling for her. Thanking the kind man for her meal, she ran out and looked for the King. She collided with him and almost fell over, but he caught her quickly.
`Ariengil,' he smiled, `I have been looking for you everywhere. How are you?' he asked.
`Very well, thank you,' she replied.
`I trust you slept well?' he asked with a sly smile, but he did not say anymore about that for a few servants walked past, bowing as they saw the King.
`Also very well, thank you. What are we to do today?' replied Ariengil.
`I was wondering if you would like to accompany me to Osgiliath? Then I was planning on going to a lake nearby for a bathe. Ask Dînhith, Leonora and their male friends if you wish.'
Ariengil would have replied that she would prefer it if just the two of them were there, but she saw Dînhith sitting at the bottom of the stairs, pretending not to be listening to their conversation. `Of course I'll ask, thank you. I shall see you soon. How do we travel?'
`On horseback. Until later, my Lady,' replied the King as he bowed to her. Ariengil curtsied and turned to Dînhith as Eldarion left.
`Are you coming then?' asked Ariengil to Dînhith.
`Coming where?' asked Dînhith as she feigned surprise, and failed. She had obviously been listening to the conversation, and knew exactly what Ariengil was about to ask.
`To the lake. I know you were listening, and I don't mind at all. Ask your "male friend", as Eldarion said, and I'll find Leonora.' They walked up the stairs together, but Dînhith seemed to be bursting with anxiety to ask something. She finally did just before they departed.
`How long have you called the King by his name- Eldarion?' she asked.
`Since we fought together,' replied Ariengil naturally.
`And you like him don't you?'
`Of course,' laughed Ariengil, `we are good friends.'
`I don't mean like that, and you know it.' Ariengil's smile fell and she knew she had to answer her best friend truthfully.
`Yes, I do. But I am confused about my feelings. I love Harma still, yet I need someone to be there to look after me for now. I think that that someone will be Eldarion, though not for long as we have to leave sooner or later. Would it be betraying Harma if I was with Eldarion for a while?' she asked Dînhith. This was the question she had been asking herself for so long as well, and she just hoped that her friend could answer it.
`Ariengil, Harma is dead. He would want you to be happy, and if you will be happy with Eldarion, then so be it. Just be careful please.'
`I will be careful- he's a King, how could I not be careful?' joked Ariengil, then she became serious again. `There is a prophecy about me, Dîndîn,' and she briefly told her friend the main parts of the prophecy. Dînhith was shocked, but then delighted.
`Can't you see?' she squealed, `One of them will return to you.'
`Dînhith, they are dead. There is no way they could return to me. No way. It must mean something else.'
`But the prophecy says that he will return from a place that no others can return from. Presumably that is the dead. Ariengil, this is brilliant.'
`It must mean something else,' replied Ariengil stubbornly. `But I like Eldarion too. If one of them did return to me, which will not happen, what will he think of me then? If I have been with Eldarion for a while, what will they think? And what will Eldarion think? This could be brilliant or terrible.'
`They would understand. They would understand that you have to move on because he is dead, yet if they return then you shall have one of them again. Does that make sense?' she asked.
`Yes it does. Thank you Dînhith.' They hugged, and then departed to their bedrooms. Ariengil murmured to herself though, after Dînhith had left: `but it won't happen, it isn't possible. Why does everyone have to bring my hopes up? I'll only be sad again. It won't happen. It can't.'
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