Gilraen skipped down the hallway, her eyes sparkling merrily. It was the same day, and she had gone to her father to tell him about meeting the Perians and Legolas.
“Ada!” Gilraen burst into the room, “You’ll never guess who I met!”
“Let me see…” Iorlass was sitting up in bed, the book he had been reading laying in his lap, “Someone important…ah, Aragorn again?” His eyes twinkled teasingly.
“No! I have not seen Estel…” Gilraen shook her head, sitting on the bed with him, “I met the Perians.”
“Really? The Rohan rider?” Iorlass raised an eyebrow.
“Yes and Pippin…” she exclaimed excitedly, “He’s a Guard of the Citadel. Did you know that?”
“Pippin? Hm….” Iorlass thought for a moment, “No, I did not. I am happy that you are meeting such interesting people, my Crazy Girl.” He ruffled her hair affectionately.
“That’s not all, Ada. I met an elf!” Gilraen looked at him with happy eyes.
“An elf?” Iorlass glanced down at her, “Who was it?”
“His friend (a dwarf) called him…Legolas.” Gilraen stumbled over the name slightly.
“Legolas?!” Iorlass said sharply, drawing in a breath.
“Oh Ada, did I hurt you?” Gilraen moved away, for she had unknowingly leaned against her father, her head snuggled comfortably in the crook of his shoulder.
“No, Gilraen, you did not hurt me.” Iorlass murmured absentmindedly, thinking about Legolas.
Gilraen looked up at her father, not quite understanding his sudden silence. Elen came into the room, smiling to find Gilraen with him.
“Come on, Gilraen. It’s time for your father to have some quiet time by himself.” Elen shooed Gilraen through the door.
“I’ll come by later, Ada!” Gilraen called, “And I’ll sing you a song.”
Iorlass nodded and waved goodbye wearily. Elen shut the door quietly, silently cleaning up the room.
Gilraen wandered down the hallway, not quite sure what to do. Some of the people waved at her from the rooms, if the doors were open. She waved back, smiling. She wandered out into the garden and sighed slightly.
“It’s so beautiful out here.” she said aloud.
“Yes, it is.” a voice answered her.
She whirled around, startled. Her eyes grew wide, and she dropped a curtsy as she saw Faramir sitting on the bench. “M’lord, I didn’t know you were out here. Maybe it would be better if I went back inside…” Gilraen stuttered, going to the door.
“No, wait.” Faramir stopped her, “It is alright. I do not mind you out here. To be quite honest, I was getting lonely. There’s not many who come and wander the gardens.” Faramir sighed, “Except for one…”
Gilraen looked at him inquisitively, “The Lady Eowyn?”
Faramir laughed at her honest look, “Yes, the Lady Eowyn if she is whom I speak of.”
“Long golden hair, sad grey eyes, came in with the Perian?” Gilraen questioned, knowing that it was her.
“Yes, that is her.” Faramir looked at her, smiling at her, “Do you know her?”
“Well, I kind of know her. I helped take care of her after Estel healed her of the Black Breath.” Gilraen answered, smelling one of the roses, “She never woke when I happened to be there, though.”
“Ah, I see.” Faramir watched her take in the garden, “Would you like to wander the garden with me?”
“Oh yes, M’lord. If you do not mind…” Gilraen answered breathlessly.
“No, I do not mind.” Faramir held out his hand, “Come.”
They wandered the garden for a few hours, with Gilraen pointing out the different flowers, trees, and even some birds. Faramir would laugh and nod, all the while wondering how she came to be at the Houses of Healing.
“Gilraen, how did you come to the Houses?” Faramir asked as she lay in the grass with him sitting beside her.
“Oh…” Gilraen faced him, her eyes going sad, “I was on the first level. When the orcs came through, I ran with everyone else. One of their arrows hit me in the side, but then one of the soldiers picked me up and ran with me to the Houses.” She looked sadly at the caterpillar crawling on her finger, “Then my father was brought in a week later.”
Faramir looked with pity at her, “I am sorry.” He brushed her cheek with his hand, “If there is anything you need…”
“Thank you, M’lord, but the king healed him.” Gilraen placed the caterpillar on a leaf, “and he healed me.” She smiled brightly, “That is why I am still here. My father is still healing.”
“Who is your father, Gilraen?” Faramir asked, thinking that he would pay him a visit.
“Iorlass, M’lord.” Gilraen replied, watching a bird feed its young.
“Iorlass….” Faramir glanced at her.
They stayed in the garden, hidden slightly from the paved path, but able to see any who came in or out.
“Look, M’lord!” Gilraen pointed, “There’s the Lady Eowyn.”
Lady Eowyn had come into the garden, walking wearily to a bench with a healer supporting her. She often came out here, if only for a few hours, fore it helped her to forget what had happened and to remember better times. She would sit for hours, just listening to the birds and watching them fly. Then, a healer would come back out and say it was time to come inside. It was during one of these escapes that Faramir had first seen her. He had watched her from his window and then ventured into the garden.
“Yes, it is her.” Faramir turned away.
“M’lord, do you want to greet her?” Gilraen asked in childlike honesty.
“No, not right now, Gilraen.” Faramir shook his head and then got struck with an idea. Taking out his knife, he cut a rose from the bush and gave it to her, “Would you give this to her? If she asks who it is from, say a friend who wishes her health.”
Gilraen nodded and took the rose. Standing up, she left him and raced up to the Lady. Faramir watched closely as Gilraen curtsied and offered up the rose. He saw the inquisitive look on Eowyn’s face and observed her asking Gilraen where it had come from. He smiled as Gilraen murmured the words she had been told. The Lady Eowyn said nothing, just took the rose and looked at it thoughtfully. Gilraen came skipping back along the path. She went over to him.
“M’lord, I did just as you said.” Gilraen told him, thrilled, “She has no idea.”
“Good, Gilraen.” Faramir stood and brushed his pants off, “Now, don’t you think it is time for us to be going back inside?”
“Yes, I suppose so.” Gilraen conceded disappointedly, “But not that way. She will see you and know it was you who sent the rose. Come, I know another way in.”
Gilraen led the way to the other end of the garden where there was anther doorway. It was unlocked, so they both sneaked through it quietly and passed through the halls unnoticed.
“Thank you, Gilraen. I had a wonderful time in the garden with you.” Faramir ruffled her hair, “You will come visit me again?”
“Of course, if you want me to, M’lord.” Gilraen answered shyly.
“I want you to.” Faramir waved his hand and walked down the hall with a firmer step and lighter heart than he had for a while.
“Wait until Ada hears about this.” Gilraen thought, smiling impishly.
Gilraen scampered through the halls, wanting to tell her father about her outing with Lord Faramir. As she got to his room, she paused, rubbing a hand down her dress, trying desperately to smooth some of the wrinkles. Then she opened the door. The grin faded as she saw her father sitting up in bed with a grave look on his face as another man talked with him. She instantly recognized Estel, but he was sitting in the rocking chair smoking a pipe, not talking at all. He was motionless except for the blowing of the smoke rings and his eyes seemed to be glowing with a keen light. “Who is talking? And in what language?” Gilraen thought, debating whether she should back away or go in. So that when Estel noticed her, she was standing awkwardly half-way in and half-way out. He smiled reassuringly at her and motioned for her to come in.
She tiptoed in, shutting the door carefully. She gasped in surprise as she recognized Legolas.
“What are you doing here?” Gilraen questioned, crawling onto the bed.
“I have been talking with your father.” Legolas answered softly.
“Oh, what about?” Gilraen asked, her father putting his arm about her comfortingly.
“About your mother.” Legolas glanced at Aragorn, who took the pipe out of his mouth.
“Gilraen, do you know who your mother was?” he asked her quietly.
“What do you mean? She was my mother.” she looked at her father for help, “What do they mean, Ada?”
“Gilraen, your mother was a beautiful woman. I fell in love with her the first time I saw her.” Iorlass sighed, “I saw her at Rivendell.”
“Rivendell? Elves?” Gilraen’s eyes went wide at his nod.
“Yes, elves. Your mother was living at Rivendell when I came to visit. I knew Lord Elrond’s sons. They had ridden with the Rangers, and I had met them there. I was a Ranger, Gilraen.” Iorlass continued thoughtfully, “Your mother was living in Rivendell with the Lady Gilraen.”
“Why? Why would she be living with the Lady Gilraen?” Gilraen asked confused.
“Your mother was a handmaiden to the Lady Gilraen, Tetheniel,” Aragorn answered, “I knew her as a child.”
“You knew my mother?” Gilraen said, shocked.
“Yes, for a little while. She lived with my mother until I was twelve years old.” Aragorn said.
“Gilraen, I first met your mother at Rivendell, as I have told you. She had lived in Rivendell for two years already.” Iorlass gravely looked at her, “She was walking with Lord Aragorn who was just a child. I rode up with Elrohir and Elladen: we had come back after a big battle with orcs. I was to stay at Rivendell and rest, and then go out with them again. We were to meet up with the Rangers. I was young, no more than twenty. She was beautiful…only sixteen.” Iorlass’s eyes took on a faraway look, “I thought she was an elf at first, she was dressed in elven garb and wore flowers in her hair. She greeted Elrohir and Elladen shyly. They leaped down and hugged her, teasing her as they would a sister. They teased Lord Aragorn as well, if I remember correctly.” Here, Iorlass glanced over to Aragorn, who nodded, smiling at the remembrance. Iorlass continued, “Elrohir and Elladen introduced me to her, and I greeted her in elvish, stumbling a bit. I remember she laughed, saying, in the Common Tongue, that her name was Lothel. I looked at her closely, realizing that she was not elven. Her laugh was like the soft tinkling of a brook, racing down the path. I did not talk much with her, for Elrohir and Elladen took me to Lord Elrond. I glanced back, seeing her watch Aragorn. They played together, a soft smile on her face as he showed her flowers and pointed out birds. I stayed in Rivendell for a few weeks with them. Through that time, I got to know your mother and looked forward to our walks with the Lord Aragorn. When it came time for me to leave, I promised to return. I did not know twould not be for two years.” Iorlass sighed softly.
“I knew your mother as well, Gilraen.” Legolas told her, “I met her during the two year absence of your father. I came with my sister and cousin to visit. Lord Elrond is my distant uncle, so we would visit Rivendell for some of the festivals. I met your mother at one of the festivals. She could not find Aragorn if I remember right.” Legolas’s eyes danced with merriment, glancing over to Aragorn who gazed at him innocently. Legolas grinned, “She was frantically searching for him. I was coming down one of the halls to go to the feast when she ran into me. She apologized, telling me what the matter was. I told her I would help her search out young Aragorn. We did find him….he was in the kitchen, begging treats from the cooks. I grasped him firmly by the collar and took him back to his mother. Lothel stood towards the back after the feast, watching over Aragorn closely. She wouldn’t let him out of her sight. I talked with her and found out her name and who she was. Throughout the next week, I would talk with her, helping her with her elvish. My sister and cousin came with us as well. We wandered Rivendell, talking with Lothel. Her name means “Star-flower” in elvish, though her parents did not know that. You look much like your mother, Gilraen. You have her eyes and her happy nature.” Legolas smiled at her, “She loved your father very much.”
Aragorn cleared his throat, and spoke, “Gilraen, your mother was Dunedain, do you know what that is?”
“Isn’t it the Rangers?” Gilraen said, not quite sure.
“Yes, it is. My mother and father were both Dunedain. My father was killed during a battle, and my mother fled to Rivendell, where I was hid from Sauron.” Aragorn told her, “Your mother came with mine as her handmaiden. That is how she came to be at Rivendell and came to watch over me for my first twelve years.”
“So, my mother knew elves and you, M’lord, and lived with the elves as well??” Gilraen said in amazement, “Then how did I come to be at Gondor? Why didn’t she stay with your mother?”
“I will answer that.” Iorlass gazed at her, “I fell in love with your mother, Gilraen. We spent a great amount of time together at Rivendell. When we married, the Lady Gilraen gave her permission to let Lothel come with me. We moved to Gondor, for we knew that one day, Aragorn would be coming as king.”
“How old was my mother when she died?” Gilraen asked softly.
“She was almost eighty. That is one of the blessings of being Dunedain. We do not age as quickly as normal men. We have elf blood in us.” Iorlass answered, brushing the tears from her eyes.
“Gilraen, I have something for you.” Aragorn took out a small box from his pocket, “Your mother gave this to me before she left. We were very close, like sister and brother. She didn’t want me to forget about her.” Aragorn opened the box and held up a necklace. Its chain was thin and silver. It looked like a spider’s thread with dew on it: beautiful but strong. On the end of the necklace was a pendent of silver shaped like a rayed star. It sparkled and glittered in the light.
“That is made of mithril, Little One.” Aragorn gave it to her, “It is virtually indestructible. The pendent is the symbol of the Dunedain, your mother wanted me to remember her and who I was.”
Gilraen held the necklace, looking at it in awe. It was very light, not heavy like some of the necklaces she had felt before. “When did she give that to you?” Gilraen asked, closing her hand over it.
“It was after her wedding to your father.” Aragorn smiled at the memory, “I was sad because she would be leaving….
“Estel!” Lothel called, walking swiftly, “Where are you?” She paused as she saw him near the river, sitting in the swing. “There you are, what are you doing? I will be leaving soon, Estel.”
“That’s nice.” Estel said in a low growl.
“What is wrong, Estel?” Lothel came up to him, kneeling down to look him in the face.
He sighed and got up, “Here, sit down. You do not want to get your wedding dress dirty.”
Lothel sat in the swing, with Estel next to her. He was twelve now, as tall as her. He already had the bearing of a king. His stride was firm and strong, his skill with sword and bow was almost as good as the elves. They were very close. Lothel sighed softly, looking about Rivendell. She knew in her heart that she would never see it again.
“Why did you have to marry, Lothel?” Estel asked softly.
“Why? I love him, Estel.” Lothel looked at him comfortingly, “And besides, you are growing up. You will not want to continue our early walks together for much longer. You are more interested in sword fighting and archery.”
“That is not so! I like our walks!” Estel protested, “And I would miss your stories and songs.”
“Ai, Estel…” Lothel sighed, brushing her hand through his hair like she always did, “Do not worry too much about me. I will not forget you.”
“Nor, I you, Lothel.” Estel gazed at the river, “Will you visit?”
“I do not know, Estel.” Lothel looked down at her hands, “I do not know. I will not promise that I will, but I will think of you always.” Estel said nothing but looked at her with his grey eyes. They gazed at her piercingly, unwavering. She brushed at her tears, “Well, I should be getting back before my new husband thinks I have changed my mind and run off.”
“He would not think that.” Estel laughed and offered her his arm. She took it, and they walked slowly back towards the open feasting room. She paused suddenly, and Estel looked at her with a question in his eyes.
“Here, I want you to have this.” Lothel undid her necklace and placed it in his hand.
“But this is yours, your mother…” Estel protested softly.
“I want you to have this. It is to remind you of me and of who you are.” Lothel placed a soft kiss on his forehead, “May the grace of the Valar be with you.”
Estel thoughtfully placed the necklace into his pocket and entered the room with Lothel. A few hours later, she waved goodbye to him from atop a snow-white mare. He waved goodbye and watched them until he could not see them anymore. He took a deep breath and walked back to the rooms where his mother was staying….
“That was the last time I saw your mother, Gilraen.” Aragorn finished, gazing off into space, “I tried to find her again, but it seemed like she had fallen off the face of Arda. I heard that she had a daughter and named her `Gilraen’, after my mother. I did not find her, until now.”
“Why didn’t you tell me this before, Ada?” Gilraen asked him.
“We were going to tell you, Gilraen, once Aragorn came back as king. But your mother died, and I…the memories hurt too much.” Iorlass drew in a ragged breath.
“Oh…” Gilraen looked from one face to another, “Thank you, Estel.”
Aragorn blinked slightly, as if from a dream. He gazed thoughtfully at the young girl who reminded him so much of her mother, “You are most welcome, Gilraen.”