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The Greatest Sacrifice by Linda Hoyland

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B2MeM Challenge: Sacrifice.
"Now not day only shall be beloved, but night too shall be beautiful and blessed and all fear pass away!"
Format: ficlet
Genre: angst
Rating: PG
Warnings: none
Characters: Aragorn, Arwen 
Pairings: Aragorn/Arwen
Summary: Aragorn reflects on the anniversary of his coronation.
For Aragorn and Arwen's Anniversary
Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.

The King stood looking out at the sunset. The red ball gradually sank lower in the sky until it disappeared beneath the western horizon. His thoughts turned to his beloved lady. He wondered how she felt when she beheld the sunset. Did she regret the sacrifice she had made in forsaking the utmost west to cleave to him?

What had he given her in return? The crown of Gondor and Arnor meant little to the Lady of Rivendell, any more than did the title of Queen. He could only give her his heart and children. Through him, she would one day receive the Gift of Men. He saw the Gift as a blessing, a chance to move beyond the confines of Arda rather than to endure the endless twilight of the Elves, watching everything change and decay, while they remained forever young and changeless. But would Arwen be able to accept it as freely as he did?

She had forsaken her family too to become his wife. He also knew the sharp pain of loss all too well. He, though, had the hope that one day he would be reunited with his loved ones beyond the circles of the world. Arwen could not hope to see her kin again until Arda was remade.

Aragorn had worn the crown for a year now. It was far from light, but it was a burden that he had been born to bear and he tried his utmost to be worthy of it. He now had so much. Others had given their all to help him win his crown and defeat the Dark Lord. Halbarad had fallen, bearing his standard upon the field. Valiant Théoden King had been slain by the Nazgûl and many more had fallen. His thoughts turned to his Steward, Faramir, who had lost his father and brother and the valiant Lady Éowyn, who had lost not only an Uncle, but a beloved cousin too.

So much pain and loss, and sacrifice.

He reached in his pocket and took out the letter from Pippin he had received earlier that day. The tidings had left him with a heavy heart. Pippin wrote that Frodo had been ill on the anniversary of his wounding by Shelob and often seemed sad. At least Sam was his old self again and had just married Rosie Cotton, while Pippin had fully recovered from his injuries.

Aragorn's heart ached for the brave Hobbit who had carried the Ring into Mordor and had paid such a high price. The King had suffered so little compared with his friends and gained so much. He feared that he might not be worthy.

The sunset was especially fair tonight, but it failed to lift his spirits. He decided to retire early to bed.

000

Orcs were carrying Frodo away and Halbarad too. He could only stand there helpless and watch.

"Estel!" Arwen's loving voice jolted him out of the nightmare. "What troubles you, beloved?" she asked. "You cried out in your sleep."

"It is nothing," he replied. "Just an ill dream." Despite his words, his heart was pounding.

Arwen held him close and kissed him tenderly. "I love you so much, my Estel," she whispered. Her silken hair fell across his face and her perfume smelt like spring blossoms bourn on a gentle breeze. Her slender fingers stroked his face and neck until he fell into a dreamless sleep.

He awoke early. The sun was streaming through the open curtains and light fluffy clouds sailed across an azure sky.

Arwen slept peacefully beside him, smiling in her sleep.

Aragorn smiled too, his dark mood of the day before vanished with the rising sun. How could he be filled with fear and gloom while she was beside him? Others had sacrificed much to defeat the Dark Lord and pave his way to the throne. Inspired by their memory, he must reign wisely and well.

Arwen stirred and opened her eyes. They were filled with love for him. With her at his side, how could he be other than blessed?