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76
Grace Bestowed

"The grace to go at my will, and give back the gift" - Tolkien

B2MeM Challenge: Rebellion
"Many treasures and great heirlooms of virtue and wonder the Exiles had brought from N˙menor; and of these the most renowned were the Seven Stones and the White Tree."
Format: ficlet
Genre: angst, spiritual
Rating: PG
Warnings: impending character death
Characters: Aragorn
Pairings: Aragorn/Arwen
Summary: Aragorn says farewell to an old friend.
With thanks to curiouswombat for the plot idea
Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.

Aragorn walked slowly now, slightly stooped and leaning on a cane; this was the man who had once been so vigorous and upright, the one named Strider and Wingfoot in bygone days. He knew the time had come to use the grace given to him to return the Gift of Men. He was no foolish Ar-Pharaz˘n, desiring to rebel against the decree of Eru. Recently, he had started to feel restless too, his spirit burning with a renewed inner fire, even as his body grew weaker. It grieved him greatly to think of the hurt his passing would cause to Arwen and his children, but he was also eager to embark on his final journey. His aging body was an increasing burden; one he longed to be able to cast it aside so that he might soar free beyond the circles of the world.

Before he went to the Silent Street on the morrow though, there was an old friend to whom he needed to say farewell. Aragorn waited until nightfall, when the Court of the Fountain was almost empty of people, before laboriously making his way towards the White Tree. He bade the guards withdraw a little way and stood there in silent contemplation of the scion of Nimloth. The moon was full tonight, bathing the tree in soft light. Always it looked fairest by moonlight, especially when in blossom. Aragorn felt a keen pang that he would not see it bloom again.

He reached out and stroked the trunk something he had done so many times before. "I shall miss you, my friend," he said. "I wonder will there be any trees as fair as you beyond the circles of the world? Would that I could have seen you blossom one last time, but I fear I would lose what little strength I have left if I waited until spring."

A breeze moaned through the bare branches, which bowed towards him as if in sympathy. "Will you miss me, I wonder?" Aragorn mused. "I promise you that Eldarion will love and care for you as I have done. When we are reunited, I will tell your old friend, Faramir that you grow and thrive." Aragorn took a deep breath. "Ah, it will be good to see him again, and Halbarad and ╔omer and so many good friends. My mother too, how she would have loved to see you!"

He fell silent and stood gazing at the tree. So many times, he had stood there since he had planted the sapling. With Faramir, with Arwen when she came to be his bride, with their children and their children's children. It seemed like yesterday and yet so long ago. Those had been good times, before one by one, so many of his friends had aged and died while he yet remained. Aragorn had begun to understand the melancholy of the Elves. How it was his turn to take the final journey. He was ready to depart.

Aragorn's aged bones began to ache. "Watch over my loved ones for me," he whispered, blinking away tears. "May you thrive for many generations!"

He looked up and held the stars twinkling through the branches. Men came and went but the stars endured.

With a last lingering look at the tree, Aragorn made his slow way back indoors.

When morning came, the King began his final earthly journey to the House of Kings in the Silent Street. When he passed by the White Tree he beheld a single bloom adorning its stark branches. He paused before it in wonder. The blossom fell at his feet.

Eldarion bent to carefully pick it up. He cradled the blossom reverently in his hands for a moment before handing it to his father.

"Thank you, dear friend, for this last gift," Aragorn murmured softly. He would clasp the blossom in his hand while he took his final breath. His heart soared; this was a final sign of grace from the One above whose Hallow he had found the Tree. He was born with hope, and with hope, he would depart.

A/N. I wrote this story for this year's BTME.I usually wait for a while before posting elsewhere, but this seemed fitting for the season. Happy Easter and Passover.

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