Night and Day



Part one

Morning has broken like the first morning,
blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning!
Praise for them, springing, fresh from the Word! - Eleanor Farjeon (1881–1965)

Aragorn rose silently from the bed so as not to disturb his sleeping wife. He stood for a moment looking down at her in the pale light of dawn, which streamed through the window.

Her beauty always made him catch his breath. Now with her cheeks were slightly flushed with sleep, framed by her flowing dark hair, black against her white nightgown and the pillow, Arwen looked fairer than ever. He was a privileged man indeed to have her to wife. Sometimes, he could hardly believe his good fortune that he was free to awaken every day beside her.

He crept into the adjacent dressing room, almost stubbing his bare toe on the washstand as he did so. Faramir’s home in Ithilien was still relatively unfamiliar to him; as was the freedom it offered to escape briefly from his royal duties.

Quickly, he splashed water on his hands and face then changed out of his night attire, donning his oldest riding clothes.  He paused to kiss his wife lightly on the cheek. Arwen stirred slightly, smiling in her sleep. Aragorn tiptoed softly from the room.

The kitchen was already a hive of activity. A young maidservant brought a mug of ale and a plate of bread and cheese at his request, looking only slightly surprised when he elected to sit and eat it at the kitchen table.

A few minutes later Éowyn appeared, accompanied by a bleary- eyed Faramir. The servants seemed accustomed to seeing their lady at this hour, less so their lord. Aragorn rose to embrace his friends.

“I often ride at dawn, unlike my sleepy husband,” said Éowyn, taking a bite of crusty bread, still warm from the oven. “I breakfast here in the kitchen as I did in Meduseld. It is the warmest place to be at dawn.”

“It promises to be another hot day,” said Aragorn. ”I am glad we are riding before the sun is too high in the sky.”

”A pity the Queen does not wish to join us,” Faramir lamented. ”She has told me she loves the countryside.”

“My beloved Undómiel prefers the evening,” said the King. ”She will just about be ready to eat breakfast when we return. I hope to ride with her under the stars one night while we are here.”

“It will be evening today ere we set out if we do not hurry,” said Éowyn, tapping her foot impatiently, having already finished her makeshift breakfast.

The three friends made their way to the stables, where dismissing the grooms, they saddled their own mounts.

They rode across the lush countryside, east into the sunrise. Like a blood red ruby, the sun crept above the horizon painting the sky in glorious hues of pink and mauve. The dew sparkled on the grass and the air felt fresh and sweet.

The breeze blew Aragorn’s hair behind him as he rode. He laughed out loud for sheer joy. On a morning such as this, the ranger in him could leave the King's cares behind and take pleasure in the bright clear dawn, if only for a little while.  It was enough.

Part Two

All through the Night

While the moon her watch is keeping
All through the night
While the weary world is sleeping
All through the night
O'er thy spirit gently stealing
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy feeling
All through the night. -Harold Boulton

With thanks to Raksha.

Dedicated to Julia

Aragorn and Arwen fondly surveyed their sleeping son.

“He grows more like you every day, Estel,” said Arwen contentedly; observing, beneath the roundness of the sleeping baby's face, the hint of the father’s high cheekbones and strong chin.

“At least he has your nose, vanimelda,” the King replied dryly. “Are you ready to leave now?”

“I hope Eldarion will not be afraid if he awakens and we are not there,” Arwen fretted. "He is not accustomed to being in Ithilien. Everything will still be strange to him.”

“He has his nurse and knows Faramir and Éowyn. They will take good care of him,” Aragorn reassured her.

The Queen pressed a final gentle kiss to her son’s forehead before following her husband outside to the stables where their horses were already saddled, awaiting their riders.

The full moon bathed the countryside in a gentle silver light. The clear sky was dotted with a myriad of twinkling stars.

“How fair the stars are here!” Arwen exclaimed. “They always seem slightly veiled in the City.”

They urged their horses forward, savouring the feel of the wind in their hair. The fresh night breeze carried the sweet scent of wild roses.

Aragorn led the way uphill until they came to a stream he had seen with Faramir and Éowyn that morning. It rippled over the rocks before cascading down the hillside.

“How beautiful! The water is sweet music to my ears!” Arwen exclaimed, dismounting from her horse and kneeling beside the stream. ”It reminds me of Imladris. I could hear the waterfall every morning when I awoke.”

“Do you miss your home?” Aragorn enquired anxiously, joining her by the bank.

“You and Eldarion are my home now,” she replied, kissing him tenderly on the lips. “As the long years passed, my heart remained untouched, I feared that I might never know the bliss of marriage and motherhood. Then when I saw you in Lothlórien my heart was changed . At last, I knew hope.” She looked up at the stars. “See how our forefather, Eärendil smiles down upon us tonight!”

The horses cropped the fresh grass while Aragorn drew Arwen in a close embrace, whispering soft words of love in her ear.

A mother badger and her cubs emerged from their set amongst the trees, oblivious of the two-legged interlopers. The mother and the little ones drank from the stream. Then the cubs started to play, chasing and tumbling on the bank. The King and Queen of the West watched the badger family, entranced, until an owl's hoot caused the mother to hurry her brood back to their den.

Long they sat there, watching the stars and listening to the sweet song of the nightingale

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