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Dancing with the Daffodils by Linda Hoyland

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Dancing with the Daffodils

B2MeM Challenge - Carolling- Let’s take the road before us; First lines- My father and mother should have stayed in the village where they met and where I was born; canon couples- Arathorn/Gilraen.
Format: ficlet
Genre: Romance
Rating: PG
Warnings: none
Characters: Arathorn/ Gilraen, Ivowen/ 
Dírhael
Pairings: Arathorn/ Gilraen, Ivowen/ Dírhael
Summary: Gilraen receives a proposal.
These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

With thanks to Raksha

And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils. -William Wordsworth

 

My father and mother should have stayed in the village where they met and where I was born, rather than moving here to the Angle where the Chieftain dwells. They had good reason to move as they wanted to be near my sister. She is wed to a Ranger from these parts and expecting her first child come spring. I rarely recall my parents ever quarrelling before as they do now in our old home.

The arguments began when my father looked angry after our Chieftain’s son, Lord Arathorn, danced with me several times at the Mettarë celebrations. I do not know why my father was so displeased, for Lord Arathorn is highly respected. He spoke to me kindly and treated me with courtesy. I felt safe dancing with him, unlike some of the younger men, who are all too eager to steal kisses. He danced well too, and did not tread on my toes, nor grasp my hands too tightly.

He is quite old and has a grim countenance, but who can blame him with the troubles our people face? I believe he has a kind heart, though. I have seen how gentle he is with the children and the old folk. It is a pity he is still unwed. The Chieftain’s son needs to sire heirs and I believe Lord Arathorn would make a loving father.

My parents are arguing again, their voices so loud, I cannot but help but overhear.

“It is out of the question!” my father shouts. “She is but a child. It is disgraceful for him to ask such a thing. He is a stern man of full age and my heart forebodes that he will be short lived.”

“The more need of haste!” cried my mother. “The days are darkening before the storm, and great things are to come. If these two wed now, hope may be born for our people; but if they delay, it will not come while this age lasts."

“You would sacrifice our daughter to a life of misery for some vague hope for the future, Ivorwen? Shame upon you!”

“I have no intention of sacrificing my little girl. Gilraen must be free to choose her own path,” said my mother. “It is not for us to either force or dissuade her.”

It troubled me deeply to hear my parents, who had always spoken kindly to each other, talk in this way. Surely, they must be mistaken? Lord Arathorn made no advances towards me and I was not yet of the age at which our womenfolk think to marry.

A few days later when my father was out on patrol with his Rangers, my mother called me to her chamber. “I have something of grave import to tell you, my daughter,” she said. “Lord Arathorn is planning to ask for your hand in marriage.”

“Lord Arathorn wants to marry me?” Despite the conversation, her words came as a shock.  “I am too young, “I mumbled. ”Besides, I hardly know him.”

“It is not so strange a thing, Gilraen. All Men find you fair and you are of the royal line of Aranath, as too is Arathorn. I know he is ripe of years, but he is a good man of noble lineage. Your heart is not already given, is it?”

I shook my head. “I have not even thought of marriage yet.”

“My foresight tells me that much good might come if you two were wed, provided you are willing,” said my mother. “In the fullness of time you would become the Chieftain’s wife and help him lead our people.”

“I am so young!” I protested. “Could Lord Arathorn not wait for a year or two to propose until I am of the age that our people usually marry?”

My mother looked grave. “Lord Arathorn is a warrior, child. His days are filled with fighting against our enemy. Each battle that he fights could be his last. Already he has waited too long to take a wife, but he has told me that no woman stirred his heart until he beheld you. You must freely decide whether or not you would wed him, Gilraen. I ask only that you give his proposal serious thought.”

“I will, mother, I promise.”

My mother hugged me tightly then bade me go and think over what she had said. My mind was in turmoil. I liked and respected Lord Arathorn, but I was not in love with him. I had sometimes wondered whom I might wed, but as yet, had given the love between man and woman very little thought. I was content with my love for my family and close friends for now. I had enjoyed dancing with Lord Arathorn, though. The touch of his hands against mine had been sure and not unpleasant. It was a high honour to be chosen as the Chieftain’s bride. I was certain Lord Arathorn would treat me kindly and I would never go hungry, unlike some of our less fortunate people.”

A few days later, on a fair spring morning, Lord Arathorn came to our home, his grey-streaked hair freshly washed and brushed, and wearing a new cloak. I had never noticed before that he was a very fine figure of a man.  He greeted my parents courteously, then, and asked if I would like to walk with him to see the daffodils in the woods that surrounded our village.

“Are you certain you wish to go?” my father asked. “You do not have to.”

“I should enjoy a walk,” I said.

Lord Arathorn offered me his arm as we walked along the path into the wood. He led me to a sheltered glade carpeted with golden daffodils.

“These are so fair!” I must have sounded like a child in my enthusiasm. It was too dangerous for a maiden to wander alone in the woods and it was rare I had the chance to see the daffodils in their spring finery.

“They pale in comparison with your beauty, Lady Gilraen,” said Lord Arathorn.

“My Lord?”

He took my hand and I looked up into his eyes. The usually self- assured Ranger looked terrified.

“There is something I would ask of you, my lady,” he said. “You might well think me too old for you, or too grim, but you have captured my heart, Lady Gilraen! Would you do me the honour of becoming my wife?”

I gazed at him for a long moment. His grey eyes were filled with tenderness. I might not love him, but I liked him a great deal. He would be a good husband.

“I will,” I said simply.

“You have made me the happiest of men!” he said and kissed me tenderly.

Then with an almost boyish exuberance, Arathorn gathered a great bunch of daffodils and placed them in my arms. He smiled at me, the joy in his eyes lighting up his face like a ray of sunlight in winter. “Let us take the road before us together,” he said and led me home to announce our betrothal.

A/n Some lines are taken directly from Tolkien.