Gilrean walked the familiar path with such ease she barely had to look where she was going. It was a very good thing too because her mind was elsewhere. Everyone in the village felt the death of the chieftain’s wife, but Gilraen had seen a look of utter despair on Arathorn’s face for one brief second as they had lowered the coffin into the grave. He had looked up and saw her looking at him and immediately the look was gone and his stoic wall was in its place. Reminding her of the rangers making a human wall of protection around him. He had turned away then and she had not seen him the rest of the day.
Now as she walked her thoughts turned again to him and that look of despair haunted her. She wished that she was older and that she had the ability to comfort him. But her 13 years had not brought such sadness to her life. How could she comfort someone in such pain as she had seen in him? She knew he had adored his mother almost as much as Arador. It showed in each little thing he did for her. The way he would hold her when he returned from being abroad. He never failed to lighten her load if he could possibly do it. The love and pride shown in her eyes also and spilled out to everyone around when she talked, looked or even just thought on her son. Gilraen hoped that one day she would have such a son.
All this musing had brought her to the place she adored most when she needed to get away and be quiet. The brook babbled away and as it flowed downstream it touched her heart and washed away all her fears and worries. Her parents knew about her special place but never forbid her from going there. It was close enough to the village not to pose any trouble.
No one had ever bothered her here, but today she was shocked to find someone sitting on the boulder that reached toward to the water’s edge. She stood perfectly still hardly daring to breath because the person on the rock just happened to be the man of her thoughts. He was sobbing so hard he never heard her come in to the clearing. She had no idea what to do and fear almost drove her from the place. Yet his uncontrollable grief made her stay. No one should have to grieve alone. So before sense took over she carefully climbed the boulder and sat quietly next to the man.
Arathorn started at the touch of her hand upon his back. His knife was immediately in his hand and it came dangerously close to her face. Gilraen never flinched though a fear jumped into her eyes. Arathorn carefully pulled the knife from her face and brokenly said “Has you father taught you not to sneak up on a man; especially a ranger?” He tried to keep up his tough façade but he could make the tears stop rolling down his face. Gilraen quietly handed him her handkerchief, and softly said, “I am sorry. I did not mean to startle you. I come here a lot to get some quiet, but I thought you might need some company.”
“I am al….” But he could not finish the sentence because when he looked into her eyes he saw not distain for his tears, as he would imagine but compassion and understanding. This touched him because just last night in the early watches of the morning, when it is darkest, he heard his father crying for his lost wife. Arathorn had went to his father in hopes of bringing comfort and finding comfort but Arador had shunned him despising his own tears instead of accepting it as normal part of life. Arathorn thought that he must be strong like his father and not show his grief. Tears were for women, yet he could no more stop them right now than he could tell the sun not to shine. Gilraen wrapped her arms around him just quietly letting him cry. Her arms felt like soothing balms to his soul and his heart seemed to hurt a little less. She stayed with him until no more tears would come. Then she wanted to give him some privacy so she started to get up, but he grabbed her hand and asked, “Won’t you stay just little while longer?”
Gilraen nodded and sat back down. She listened to the brook as it babbled on its way. Today as it soothed her soul she felt drowsiness creep over her and before she knew it sleep had claimed her. There had been many a days her father had come in search of her only to find her curled up on this rock sleeping. Arathorn was shocked to find that she had fallen asleep right on his arm. He was afraid to move for of waking her so he sat allowing her to rest while he allowed the peace to fill his very soul. He felt refreshed by visiting the brook and it was partly due to Gilraen. He turned to look at her as she slept. She was very young, just out of childhood. Yet she had a beauty about her that he had never noticed before. She would one day make the men of the village tremble just to talking to her. He had seen such beauty in other women, but he had soon grown bored of them. His mother had despaired of him ever finding a wife. He was sure that one day his father would force him to marry just so he would produce an heir. Please Eru let it not be yet.
After about an hour, Gilraen woke up to discover that she was sleeping on Arathorn’s arm. Her mouth fell open and her face turned red of embarrassment. He saw her blush and chuckled at her red face. Gilraen got mad at him for this and her red face from her embarrassment turned to a red face of anger.
“You can laugh. Everyone always thinks my feelings are unimportant. Why should you be any different?” She turned to stalk off, but he grabbed her arm trying to stop her. She jerked against his grip but that only served to cause her pain. He could keep her right where he wanted without so much as even trying. So she turned from him in a huff.
Arathorn quietly spoke to her back. “I was not laughing to make you mad. It’s just that your embarrassment caused such a comical face before it turned away from me. I would not think lightly of your feeling not after you so carefully held my feeling in your hand. Neither will tell anyone that you fell asleep. Please do not tell anyone of my tears.”
Gilraen turned back and looking into his eyes saw that he was truly sincere. It melted her anger and so she said, “I would never tell what happened here. I know how to keep a secret. Though I don’t see why is so bad for a man to cry, I will keep this to myself.”
So they left the brook walking side by side and talking. Arathorn noticed that some people eyed him strangely, but he never let it be known to Gilraen. He saw her safely to her home and though her father looked at him with questions in his eyes. Arathorn just said, “I saw her at the brook and I just was making sure she return safe and sound.” Dírhael just nodded but looked to his daughter for any signs of distress. He saw none and so he asked if her day had been well and she turned happily to him with an emphatic, “Yes.”