“What?” Aralorn’s heart gave a thud. Leaving? How could Aragorn just leave? She looked at her brother with disbelief. This wasn’t supposed to happen. If he left…what would become of her? Ithil tossed her head and pranced with excitement. Aralorn brought her attention back to the mare, and tried to relax her muscles to keep her mount steady and calm. Then she looked back at Aragorn who had said nothing. “Why?” She asked. He set his jaw and finally brought his eyes to hers.
“There is no use in me staying here…” he said. Aralorn furrowed her brow.
“Why? What business might you have elsewhere?” she asked. Maybe, just maybe he was going back to Gondor to…
“To wander. That is my business as a ranger,” Aragorn said these words with heaviness. She didn’t know what to say, as her eyes moved to her hands grasping the reins ever so tightly.
“Must you go?” She asked.
“You must understand,” Aragorn began, “That is who I am. A ranger, nothing more.”
“But don’t you see? You are more,” Aralorn pleaded. “You are the King of-“
“No, I am not,” Aragorn cut her off. “The ranger life is much more…simple. I do not long to be King. I cannot rule a country. Don’t you see? Don’t you of all people understand? As our forefathers, I am too weak.” Aralorn stared at the man whom she believed to be strong. And he was. She knew it. It was he who could not see it. But, how could he just leave me? she thought, very close to tears. He was supposed to stay, and look out for me. Be my elder brother. I cannot possibly stay here alone.
The next morning, the morning to which Aragorn was going to leave, Aralorn stood at the small gate. Her brother had already gotten ready to leave, and he was mounted on his horse.
“Farewell, dear Aralorn,” he said, trying to comfort her. But it did nothing.
“Good-bye, Brother,” Aralorn answered, barely looking up at him. She watched him walk away with a heavy heart. A tear slid down her cold cheek. Aragorn looked back for a brief moment, and gave her one last look. He may have even smiled, but she was not sure of it. Aralorn sighed heavily. Now what was to become of her? she thought. She felt very frail now. Like she had after her home had been burned down. He had left her. Left her to face her life alone-to continue to figure out her real heritage alone. Had she lost everything once again? How long would it be before he returned? More tears fell from her eyes. A brisk wind swept across her body, and made her shiver. She crossed her arms, hugging herself tight. Then two, warm hands grasped her shoulders gently, and Aralorn breathed in sharply with surprise. But she knew who it was.
“Are you alright?” Ambar asked. The tears came slower now, to Aralorn’s relief, and she let out a ragged breath.
“Yes,” she answered, still staring at the path where Aragorn had once been, walking away from her. She was in no mood to tell him the truth. He would not understand, anyway. “Why are you here? Was my lesson this morning?” Her words were still painted with despair and heaviness. Ambar turned her around, and looked into her watery eyes. A small smile emerged from his lips as he shook his head softly.
“I was looking for you,” he said. Aralorn bit her lip. Her heart fluttered, as it had before. He dropped his hands to his sides. “And do you not remember? I want you to take a break from your lessons. Is your hand any better?” Aralorn looked at her hand, and saw that it was indeed a little better.
“Yes,” she said.
“Good,” he sighed. He stared at her, still smiling. Aralorn did not return it. Whether she would have, if Aragorn were still here, she did not know. But she was entranced by his gaze, and flattered that he had come to see her at a time when her lesson was not taking place. Though, at the same time, she did not want the company of him right now.
“Did you want something?” She asked, only desiring solitude at the moment. She looked at the ground.
“Just to see you,” he said. “You do not seem well.” Aralorn glanced back to his face.
“I am in no mood to speak of it,” saying nothing more, she walked away from him.
“Aralorn,” Elrond said in an almost harsh tone. “Please give more of an effort to concentrate.” Aralorn looked up at him with an expression of sorrow. Elrond sighed.
“Something ails you,” he said. “You seem to find it hard to keep your eyes on your book.”
“I am sorry. Truly, I am,” she said, and then paused. “Why did Aragorn have to leave? How could he leave us, and his heritage? How could he be so self centered? I thought he was more noble than that.”
“He is only afraid,” Elrond began, “Wandering around as a ranger is his escape from who he truly is. Do not think that he has forsaken you, and does not care about you. It is only that you are a reminder to him of what he must do-of who he was born to be. He takes the guilt of Isildur upon himself. He does not want to fail again.”
“Would he fail?” Aralorn asked.
“I cannot see. But I believe that he won’t.”
It was mid-afternoon. Gwenneth, Aranel, and Aralorn were picking berries from small trees to give to the cook. Sitting in the trees, they talked more than they picked. Aralorn nervously looked down from where she was perched. Aranel smiled at her.
“Why are you afraid?” She asked.
“Afraid?” Aralorn said, “I am only…adjusting.” She moved her foot to a higher branch as if to be rearranging herself. Nonetheless, Aralorn was not used to trees, since she had barely grown up with them in Rohan. Keeping her footing, she resumed picking the red-colored berries, and dropping them in the basket below her.
“Look,” Gwenneth was looking to the field where Aralorn’s sword lessons took place. “It looks as though they are having a competition of some kind.” Aralorn followed her eyes to the field and saw two elves fencing.
“I would like to go watch…” Aranel said.
“Indeed if we picked up our pace we could,” Gwenneth said, looking at Aranel, then at Aralorn.
After delivering the berries, the three made haste to the field. They came just in time to see a blond haired elf and one with darker colored hair face each other in a sword competition. The taller one with darker hair was more agile and in the end, won. Then, to Aralorn’s surprise, Ambar stepped up. He glanced at the three of them, and gave the hint of a smile. He looked more than ready to face his opponent. The dark haired elf started off with a swing to Ambar’s left shoulder. Ambar blocked it with ease, and attempted to deliver a blow to his opponent’s chest, but was reflected. Aralorn watched with great amusement. She glanced to her left at Aranel, and saw her smiling radiantly, her eyes never leaving Ambar. Aralorn did not know what that meant, so she brought her attention back to the competition. It happened so fast, she didn’t know how it happened, but suddenly the dark haired elf was on the ground, sword less. Ambar smiled and helped him up.
“I must say, good job,” the dark haired elf said in a musical tone.
“Same to you, Lord Elrohir,” Ambar bowed his head respectfully. Elrohir? thought Aralorn, was not he the son of Elrond?
As Aralorn, Gwenneth, and Aranel walked home, Aralorn asked that question.
“Yes,” Gwenneth said. “He is. The twin of Elladan, and brother of Arwen.”
“Ah, yes, Arwen and I have been acquainted,” Aralorn smiled thoughtfully. “Entrancingly beautiful of both body and heart.” Aranel nodded in agreement. My brother loves her, Aralorn thought to herself. And she returns that love. Was she not as dear to Aragorn anymore? Had the Lady Arwen taken her place? She sighed. But surely there was room in his heart for both…
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