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101
Plighting Troth

For Princess of Gondor.


~~~

Plighting Troth

It is in the nature of Men to overreach themselves for what strikes them as marvelous, great, beautiful.

It is in the nature of young men to see the marvelous, great, and beautiful as it benefits them. Thus do they come early to mourning, when it innocently shatters their narrow, grasping longings.

If his path from Imladris to Lórien has taught him aught, it should be that, Aragorn thinks.

Arwen laughs ahead of him, calling him on toward the hidden hill-crest: "Hurry, or you shall miss the first stars!"

At least his Ranger's road has taught him to be nimble in the leafy tangle of Lothlórien!

The trees end in a blinding sunset, and there on that rise, Arwen, dazzling as the dying day, stands with the trees in chorus: she opens her hands to heaven and sings the fullness of summer to Arien.

He knows the hymn – it has been sung in Imladris since before he was born, since before this Age was born. Before there was Imladris, before the Breaking, it gave glory to the days. When Beren courted Lúthien, already it was old, and it makes him ache.

For once upon a time, he had left home, like so many young men, in the hope that what he did might persuade her – might win her to him. The hard-won lessons of long labor – his and others' – lie between him and such base-bargained love, but the singer and her song, older than Lórien's trees, make that unregretted boy, in all his folly, feel nearer than he has in years. Near enough to make him doubt whether time has taught him yet to ask this gift with grace. Doubt, though, dies but in the asking.

The sun gives a last glitter, then is gone. Arwen lets the melody trail into silence, as over her head, beneath the golden boughs, her namesake star gleams faintly. After a time, she holds her hand out to him; he takes it, and she turns to him.

A moment, they simply stand gazing at each other, then:

"Arwen, I – "

"Marry me." Two words and ardent eyes cut down all questions – all speech, even. Arwen answers his stunned silence with a smile and a touch, laying a hopeful hand upon his cheek. "Say 'yes'!"

So much then for his asking! Aragorn cannot but laugh then – at himself, for relief, for joy – and in the little space it takes to claim a kiss, breathe: "Yes!"

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