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16
Love in Autumn

B2MeM Challenge: B1: One hundred years of solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Aspects of Aragorn: Warrior
G51: Roles and Names of Aragorn: Lover
N38: Magic and Real: Autumn of the Patriarch

Format: drabble series
Genre: Romance
Rating: T or M
Warnings: You could alternately title this something like “Four times Arwen and Aragorn had sex, and one time they put it off ‘til after taxes.”
Characters: Aragorn, Arwen
Pairings: Arwen/Aragorn
Summary: And they lived and loved happily ever after...


~~~

Love in Autumn

Close fellowship is double-edged: there’s little one does not learn of fellow Rangers on the Road: drink or trust enough, and they’ll leave little to imagination.

As for Elves, all arts have one principle: insight is all.

But as time runs its riptide course, Aragorn and Arwen walk love’s restless itinerary and find that hearts change, suffer doubt, confusion, and that self-humiliation only growth brings. Love has a history, and seasons – timely, untimely, who can say? They’ve known winter, spring, and drought.

Thus they stand before the Tree an autumn love, and laugh – wryly, painfully – to bind themselves with rings.


If they count their years of separate waiting separately, then between them they have lived a hard hundred years of solitude – they’ve lived dreaming, hoping, minds and hands idly-not-so-idly wandering, for anticipation’s wearying – as much as consummation.

Everything at last done, he finds he cannot take off the year’s hard labors with his clothes, but they weigh now he’s a place and love to lay him down. Arwen lies wakeful, hungry still, feeling their hearts beat out a new, strange time, pierced with gentle disappointments.

For that is life – tonight they lie like heat together, heavy with its promise: Tomorrow.


Later she’ll remember tomorrow – not the mirror and gentle mist of Elven memory, but flashes, pieces.

She’ll remember laughing that morning with her husband, making love as quickly as they could before the servants started knocking.

And she’ll remember loss: her father and brothers looking at her as through shadow, something missing in their eyes, for the ties were cut, the veil drawn...

And she’ll remember – in the dark, Aragorn’s hands … his breath cool on her skin where he’d just kissed her… his hair brushing coarse along her thighs… heat – !

Mortal eyes are night-blind, but with him, she’s touched stars.


They need such lights, who dwell in Mandos’s forecourt: Mordor is fallen, but war remains, racks them in after years. Then Aragorn is fierce with her in bed, as if he wants everything, all of her – every secret she has, against the odds he’ll never learn them.

Arwen cannot give him all, but she’ll give gifts she could not give before. For women, too, have strength: relentless hard as any enemy she’ll lay him on his back, and be fey to his fear, to teach him –

Remember where you belong! You lie down with me alone! Remember, then, and return!


(And thus far he has – Valar be praised! Though he come home wounded, still – he comes home. She’s learned therefore to love around bruises that shouldn’t be jarred, stitches that shouldn’t be pulled. Let him but return, she’ll suffer his nightmares, his insomniac bouts and dark griefs… his frustrations: the nights when new horrors recall older ones, so that no matter his desire – their desire – he simply cannot.) Arwen has lived as the Eldar – the weight of memory is her familiar, but for Men there is no Valinor, only patience, only duty – love and love, Barahir’s serpents in unending embrace…


Thus Gondor heals – love bears fruit: grows new grass, rebuilds old walls, opens roads, and raises up new children. In due time, Arwen bears four of her own – love’s labors indeed! But she cannot complain, even if she leans her head against his hip, as he stands holding their newest daughter, and says: “They’re lovely, but ‘tis your task bearing them next time!”

He laughs, kisses her brow, but works late twelve days a month. Arwen, eager and impatient, imagines, grits her teeth, and is glad to have him back again, even when he brings the tax rolls with him…


(But impatience wins eventually. Once, they’d gone decades of drought, but to what end now?

“I thought you wished no more children,” he protests when she, leaning on his shoulder to read tax rolls, slides her hand down his chest.

“True,” she answers. “Here, we’ll work ‘til midnight.”

“And after?”

After is a tangle of sheets and naught more between them, ‘til he gasps, pulls away. ‘Tis all timing between them, as it has ever been...

“If I mistime?” he asks later.

“The kingdom would welcome another heir.”

“And you?” he presses.

She smiles. “Try not to mistime!”)


They watch their son and daughters grow up into the Age they’ve wrought. Aragorn breathes a silent prayer of thanks.

For Autumn is turning, slowly but surely – time feels sharper of late.

Arwen knows, he thinks – she rarely looks west anymore. There is so much to do! Yet they’ve some time left. He watches her read dispatches, traces the line of her neck with his eyes, imagines how she would feel…

She looks up then, catches him watching her, and her eyes meet his. Later, says her smile, and he returns it: Later, aye.

For awhile longer, they’ve still later.

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