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by Victoria P.

     Title: Sublimation
     Author: Victoria P. []
     Summary: Arwen always knows when Aragorn takes a new lover.
     Rating: PG
     Archive: Lists, Muse's Fool.
     Feedback: Makes my day.
     Date: April 13, 2003

Spoilers: for RotK, based on rumor/speculation about Arwen's expanded role in RotK. Definitely movieverse.

Disclaimer: All LotR characters belong to JRRT/NewLine etc.; this piece of fan-written fiction intends no infringement on any copyrights.

Notes: Thanks to Jen, Dot, Meg, Pete'n'Melissa and DD. To hossgal for the beta, and putting up with my wavering. To the PSG chat chicks for letting me bounce ideas off them. Dialogue paraphrased from the book. Between their first meeting and their wedding, approximately 70 years pass. I'd say JRRT is rolling in his grave, but I have a feeling he's been spinning for a while now. g


Arwen always knows when Aragorn takes a new lover.

In their early years, before she gave herself to him fully, she feared he might lie with one of her brothers, sating his desire and giving lie to his words of love for her. The resemblance among the three of them is startling, but Aragorn has never been so obvious, even when driven into the arms of another by desperation or loneliness.

No, back then, before she was sure of his love, he had become entangled with Haldir of Lrien. She has nothing to prove it, nothing except her grandmother's vague murmurings and the way Aragorn's eyes would slide from hers when Haldir entered a room or spoke, but she is certain of her knowledge.

That entanglement ended upon their betrothal on the hill at Cerin Amroth, and Haldir has never spoken of it to her, and Aragorn only in a sideways manner, many years later.

After their betrothal, they spent many long nights together, learning each other's bodies in the ways of love. And then he left her again, to walk the Wild in defense of his people. He prepared always for his time, which drew ever nearer.

Those halcyon days linger at the top of her memory, almost tangible, all the more precious because of how rare such leisurely bliss has become in these dark times.

In those days, the years seemed to weigh on him as little as if he were an Elf himself, and she knows it is because of his destiny. She will be at his side when he comes into his own; her gift of foresight is not, perhaps, as powerful as Elrond's or Galadriel's, but she has it nonetheless.

She watched over him -- watches over him still -- as he wandered, and made his way back to Rivendell for a stolen day here and there over the years.

He spent years in the company of the Elves of Mirkwood, and she remembers when he came to her afterward, a few days respite over Yuletide. During that visit, she found a bundle of feathers in his gear, fletching that matched none of his arrows. It was bound with a lock of pale gold hair.

She went eagerly into his embrace upon his return to her. His hands on her body were quick, his lips moved over hers like the fluttering of a hummingbird's wings. He was tentative, and waited for her to push him down onto the bed. He let her lead him, submitting himself to her every whim, and seemed to prefer it that way, which both pleased and surprised her.

She never saw that bundle of feathers again, but when Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood, leapt to Aragorn's defense at the Council, so many years later, she knew. She let her eyes wander over his whipcord-thin frame, and watched him watch her beloved.

Times are dark, darker than even she can recall, and after years of waiting, events have begun moving as swiftly as the Great River in the spring. Even so, Aragorn is more at ease when he wakes beside her; the tension is gone from his body as he rises from the circle of her arms. He moves easily under the burden of his cares, and each day in her presence brings him some small measure of peace.

The night before Aragorn leaves on this quest, which will finally bring his destiny to fruition, he tries to free her, but she has not yet accepted defeat. She has hope, and with her body she tries to infuse him with it when he would despair.

Their loving is fierce, yet tender, and her heart is full to the brim with sorrow when the Fellowship sets out from Imladris. Parting from Aragorn is bitter this time; she chooses to believe this is the last time he will leave her behind, and it stings, because the future is unclear. The world rests on his shoulders, and there is no one who can take this burden from him. She would go with him if she could, smooth his way, calm his fears, but it is not her road, and they both know it.

Instead, she will sit by the window, as she has always done when he leaves, a map of Middle-earth on her lap, tracing the road to Mordor with a trembling finger. Such a very long road, and through such darkness.

She knows, as she watches the Company, that soon he will take someone else to his bed. Another pair of hands will ease his distress, bring him fleeting joy under the stars, give him some small measure of peace in the mornings. She wonders if it will once again be the young prince of Mirkwood who assumes her position, and she can't find it in her heart to condemn either of them.

Love in darkness is a blow for light, she believes, and if Aragorn needs support, she is glad he finds it in such staunch companions. She knows his love for her has never wavered, that it runs bone-deep in him and sings in his very blood. Memories of her own lovers have faded, and all that remains of them are the faces of a few fair maids of Lrien, close companions who eased her loneliness and sorrow in years long past. She remembers -- and understands -- the pull of the flesh, the longing for heat against the chill of the dark. But they are ever parted, and she would never begrudge him that comfort.

In secret she completes the banner she has worked on for so many years, the banner that will proclaim him King of Gondor and Arnor. Her father's words tear at her heart, but she traces the map again and plots their reunion.

On the road to the Grey Havens, she slips away, heartbroken at deceiving her father, but resolute in her choice. She joins Elladan and Elrohir, and together they ride for the plains of Rohan. She carries with her the banner of the king and Andril, the sword reforged from the shards of Narsil.

Aragorn greets her with great joy, though sorrow weighs heavy on him. He takes counsel with her brothers, and then leads her a ways apart from the rest of the riders. She presents him with her gifts. His hands tremble as he unsheathes the sword of Elendil, reforged and gleaming in the sun. She belts it around his waist and her own hands are not quite steady. For so long they have waited, and now the end they've strived for is so close.

"Either our hope is fulfilled or all hopes are at an end," she says before he takes her mouth with his in a kiss that leaves her breathless and aching for him.

He has never looked more kingly, more like an Elf-lord of old than a Man of these twilight days. The blood of Nmenor runs true in him, and her breath catches in her throat when he looks at her, his heart in his eyes.

When they stop for rest, his hands on her body are rough, plundering rather than worshiping, and she has a sudden flash of insight. She recognizes the vambraces that he removed so carefully, delaying their embrace. She never would have guessed that Boromir of Gondor would steal a piece of Aragorn's heart, but she sees now in her beloved a resolve that was formerly missing. She thinks the Steward's son had -- in life and in death -- something to do with that, and she is grateful.

All roads lead to this road, she believes, and everything they have done has been in preparation for what is to come in the days ahead. Boromir provided what she could not, and though it saddens her that she cannot be all things to Aragorn, she has learned to accept it. It is just one more step toward the end for which she devoutly wishes.

She talks with Legolas and Gimli of the things they have seen, and marvels secretly at their easy accord. Gimli tells her, his eyes shining with a faraway light that reminds her of her mother, of Galadriel's gift. He carries always close to his heart and is anxious to make a fitting shrine for it when this war is over.

Legolas looks away for a moment, abashed, but she reaches out and takes his hand. It is a strong hand, skilled with bow and knives, his fingers long and pale and elegant even under the grime of travel and war. His hand resembles hers -- twined together it is difficult to tell just by looking, which belongs to whom -- and she smiles at him. They are more alike than he knows. He returns her regard, and sighs in what may be relief.

She will not be finding any more feathers in Aragorn's gear. In fact, if she has any skill at reading the hearts of her own people (and she does), soon Gimli will carry another golden lock at his breast, this one tied into a love knot.

To assuage her curiosity, she asks them to tell her of Boromir, and tales of his deeds fill the time as they make haste toward Helm's Deep.

The portrait they paint for her fills in the gaps in her knowledge, gives her a deeper understanding of the man. Boromir was a man of honor and valor, and his love for his people, his city, permeates every memory the others have of him. It is this love that has finally broken through Aragorn's reserve, his fear of failure, and his diffidence toward his birthright.

Arwen says a silent prayer of thanks that her beloved has finally learned to accept who -- what -- he is, for it is only in that acceptance that he can succeed. His success is intertwined with the Ringbearer's, but Aragorn's new resolve gives her hope in that regard as well.

They reach Helm's Deep as the evening deepens into full dark. The sight of the place of their unexpected victory -- the walls broken but the banner of the White Horse flying bold in the wind -- lightens Arwen's heart.

There is always hope, she believes, and she has shared hers with the world. Soon her faith in him -- in their love -- will be repaid a thousandfold, and they will be together at last.



"What, do you want to tempt the wrath of the...whatever, from high atop the thing?" Toby Ziegler, The West Wing

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