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Title: A Time To Reap
Author: Kaylee Arafinwiel
Summary: When the first Princess of the Reunited Kingdom was born, the seeds of secrecy were sown. Nine years later, at Yule-tide, Aragorn Elessar considers the consequences of their harvest, and tries to make a decision.
A/N: Celebriel is “fae-touched” – that is, she has cerebral palsy, as I do, though her condition is somewhat more serious than mine was. Still, she has improved in the years since her birth. In this story, set in my friend Susana’s Gondor-verse, Faramir is the son of Aragorn and Finduilas, though Aragorn only discovers this after Celebriel’s birth (and before the later events). Hope you like it, Arwen75!

Fourth Age 4, Minas Tirith, Gondor

"She is perfect, Estel. You said so. Even though she is..." Arwen said, clutching her newborn daughter as the child nursed.

"...Not," Aragorn finished glumly. "Ai, vanimelda. I know. She is perfect to us, even as you are perfect to me. Her deformity has naught to do with you. And besides, perhaps it will grow less noticeable with time. Perhaps she shall grow straight and strong."

Aragorn fell silent as Arwen shook her head. "Estel, Estel, you know better than that. You know she will not grow better, never completely. In point of fact she will likely grow worse. I may not be well versed in what the Sec--in what our people think of their children," Arwen said with a slight hesitation, "but it is quite likely they shall never accept a royal heir who is so malformed."

Aragorn sighed, giving Arwen a reluctant nod. "They will not," he agreed. "And we both know it will be all over the Houses of Healing by the morrow, what with Ioreth..." The King and Queen exchanged meaningful glances.

"I love Ioreth dearly, husband. I do. She has been ever so welcoming. But now..." Arwen sighed. "She will not hold her tongue, you know that, Estel-nin. She never does, well-meaning as she is. Tongues will never be still."

"If it please your Majesties." Brigitta stepped forward, and Aragorn nodded to the young, shy Rohir. Brigitta bobbed a curtsey. "If it please your Majesties," she said again, "perhaps...perhaps it is better if the child is born dead." Both Aragorn and Arwen took her meaning at once, or thought they did. "Kill my child?" Arwen asked in anguish.

"Our child," Aragorn corrected, grey eyes stormy. "Or do you mean we ought to hide her in a cell, never to see the daylight?"

Brigitta shook her head, protesting. "Oh no, your Majesties! No, never. I meant simply to spirit the child away. Let her be raised by another, a family who can afford such an addition without too much scandal. A place where she would be raised safely, until such time as a healthy heir will be born and the court's gossiping tongues stilled."

Aragorn and Arwen frowned, but it was Arwen who caught on first. "Ithilien?"

"Ithilien, Majesties," Brigitta affirmed, "if my Lady will so consent, as she has birthed her own child this day." Brigitta had come with the message as Arwen ended her labours.

"If it will be safer," Arwen said reluctantly. She kissed Celebriel tenderly, and Aragorn did the same. "There should be little risk, for my days of lying-in have not yet ended, and the announcement of our daughter's birth need not be announced right away. If she was a son, a son for Gondor..." Arwen shook her head.

Aragorn kissed her tenderly. "Shhh, vanimelda. In time, Valar willing, we will have a son. But daughter or son, perfect or no, I love you and the children you have borne and will bear. Our daughter is our daughter yet, no matter where she dwells."

"Perhaps Eowyn will see her as a burden," Arwen offered reluctantly, "and what if Faramir does not wish to take her?"

"Faramir..." Aragorn shook his head, considering the Steward he loved as a son. "We will ask it of Faramir, but even if he would see her as such, or worry about her place in Ithilien, I am certain he will take her. You know how bound by duty our Faramir is."

Arwen smiled sadly. "Ai, Faramir. Yes, Estel-nin. He is bound to obey and serve, even if he does not like the request; he will view it as your will and accept. We have not yet softened the chains of duty Denethor laid upon him."

As it happened, Faramir did accept, as did Eowyn. Faramir well understood the implications of a marred child in Gondor’s line of succession; his father Denethor had often told him how inadequate he was, how his birth had been the cause of Finduilas’ weakness and death. He knew now that Denethor’s words had been borne of the madness of grief and the burden of the Dark Lord’s hold over Denethor’s mind. But he also knew it would be better for Celebriel to be raised in safety, away from the gossips at court. Perhaps if her condition improved, as Arwen was so adamant it would, she could be reinstated later.

Imrahil was one of the few who knew the truth. He agreed it was better for Celebriel to remain with his nephew until she was healed, and as the years passed, he would visit Ithilien often. Celebriel loved Imrahil, following him about whenever he came, and he taught her to make ships and soldiers from pieces of wood, occupation to strengthen her trembling hands.

Fourth Age 13, Ithilien, Gondor

The Yule-tide festivities were winding down to their end, and it was just family left in the long gallery of the King's House. Aragorn puffed contentedly on his pipe, watching his older son the Steward of Gondor drowse on the settee. His younger son the Crown Prince Eldarion had already been put to bed, along with Faramir's only son and heir Elboron. It had been a long day for the two four year old boys. On the rich Haradrim carpet by the fire, two nine year old girls played. Gondor and Arnor knew them as the Prince Faramir's twin daughters. The golden-haired Merilosse was in truth Faramir and Eowyn's first-born, but her 'twin,' Celebriel of the silver-and-ebony hair, was in fact Merilosse's aunt, not her twin. And the time was soon coming when Aragorn and Arwen should tell her, and reclaim her as their own.

Faramir, as if reading his father's thoughts, leaned forward slightly. 'Not now,' the younger man's gray eyes, a mirror of Aragorn's own, seemed to implore. 'She is happy, playing with her blocks. She has come so far...do not place that burden on her yet.' Aragorn sighed. Faramir loved Celebriel like his own daughter, and his desire to protect her was beginning to complicate an already difficult situation.

On the floor in front of them, Merilosse leaned forward to kiss her sister's cheek, then picked up a book and settled down at Faramir's feet to read. Celebriel looked up to her father, seeking a new playmate to help her build with the new brightly colored blocks. Faramir smiled back and started to rise. Aragorn beat him to it, pressing his son back down onto the settee with a firm hand on Faramir's shoulder. The Steward was recovering from a bad cold, and the King didn't want him to tire himself. And it was a good opportunity for Aragorn to spend time with the little girl who was in truth his own first-born child.

Celebriel loved Yule-tide. Her favourite activity of the day had been playing Chase outside with her twin sister Merilosse. Merilosse always won, because Celebriel had, until last year, had difficulty walking except with her cane. Now she was beginning to run alone, but it was slow going - she still stumbled and fell quite a bit. But Celebriel didn't mind that. Merilosse was the elder twin, so Merilosse should win, Celebriel told herself. Besides, Merilosse was a lot prettier, and looked more like their Naneth than their Adar. Not that looking like Adar was a bad thing. Celebriel liked very much that she looked like him, with the Numenorean dark hair and grey eyes that marked her a scion of the royal line. The sheen of silver in her hair was an oddity, but Celebriel liked it.

She thought it made her look more like Cousin Lothiriel's family. Cousin Lothiriel, who was also Auntie Lothiriel now because of marrying Uncle Eomer, was descended from Elves. And because Daernana Finduilas was Cousin Lothiriel's auntie, that meant Celebriel was descended from Elves, too. Uncle Imrahil, Cousin Lothiriel's ada, said he expected she was a throwback to the Elves of Edhellond. Celebriel didn't know what 'throwback' meant at first. It didn't sound nice, because if you threw something and it hit someone's back, they got hurt. But Daernana Arwen, who wasn't her real Daernana but she loved her ever so much, explained that a 'throwback' was simply a trait that had been lost long ago, that reappeared suddenly. Like a lost person who had been found. It was a gift.

"Now then, little Silver-hair," Aragorn greeted Celebriel, sitting down on the rug beside her, "What are you building there, and may I help?"

Celebriel jolted out of her thoughts as Daerada Aragorn came to sit by her. Daerada Aragorn was the King, and that was very important. He always took time to play with her and Merilosse as well as Bor, and little Uncle 'Darion. She smiled up at Daerada Aragorn and scooted closer to him. "I am building a bridge, Daerada," she said. "For the ponies." She pointed to the cleverly formed wooden ponies, all in a row, that Uncle 'Darion and Bor had left when they went up to bed. "The ponies have to get to market at Minas Ithil. But Minas Ithil's 'cross the river, and the bridge was gone."

"And will stay gone," Aragorn murmured, "At least until I deem it safe." That was directed at Faramir, who gave the King an innocent smile.

Then Aragorn directed his attention back to his truly innocent daughter. "Ah, so are we pretending that Minas Ithil is whole and healthy again, as we hope that it will be someday?"

Celebriel nodded. "But Ada says it's safer now," Celebriel went on heedlessly, not noticing the look of consternation on Faramir's face. "He says he's going to take some men to look at it, and make it all safe, and then me and Merilosse and Bor and Uncle 'Darion can play there."

"Oh, really?" Aragorn asked, making a mental note to have a long talk with his wincing oldest child. For now, the King just took a closer look at the blocks. "I think we need several wide ones, to serve as the base of the bridge." There was a blue stripe on the carpet that could serve as the river. Aragorn started to pull aside the correct blocks. Faramir cleared his throat, and the King stopped himself, and waited for Celebriel to start the building.

Celebriel nodded. "Uncle Imrahil made the blocks," she said, laying the bridge foundation. She picked up some of the carved figures that had come with the box - a swanship and some fish - and set them in the "river".

"Uncle Imrahil made them, eh?" Aragorn asked, amused. "Not Adar Rhiw?"

“Uncle Imrahil, not Adar Rhiw,” Celebriel insisted. “Silly Daerada.”

Faramir hid a smile at that. Aragorn chuckled, "Oh, silly, am I? Well, I suppose we can let you get away with calling me that, as its Yule. Everyone can be silly, sometimes." Aragorn reached out to add a carved otter to the river, "This one was from Adar Rhiw, though."

Celebriel inspected it. "Mmm...from Daerada."

Faramir chuckled again. Aragorn ignored him, in favor of leaning closer to Celebriel with a smile. "Yes, from Daerada, clever boots. But don't tell your siblings or uncle 'Darion."

“Nuh-uh. Our secret,” Celebriel said agreeably.

“Good girl." Aragorn said approvingly, reaching out to pull her into an embrace. "It can be our secret, until your sibs and uncle Eldarion are ready to know that its just a loved one playing Adar Rhiw."

Celebriel nodded. "All right, Daerada." She picked up the otter. "There's a fish over there. It's a big fish, and it wants to attack the swanship. But the otter's going to chase it away."

Aragorn leaned over to play a big bad fish or a rescuing otter, whichever Celebriel preferred. He knew that she loved him, and that it was most important that he got to play a role in her life, whether that role was Ada or Daerada. He did long for the day when he could tell her that secret, but Isildur's heirs knew how to wait for the opportune moment. And Aragorn knew better than most.

Celebriel held the otter, watching as Aragorn's hand crept closer to the swanship. She jumped the otter right over the ship and onto Aragorn's hand.

Aragorn picked up the otter, and then Celebriel, and twirled them around the room. Tomorrow, I’ll tell her, he decided.

Celebriel giggled. "I'm flying! Meri! I'm flying!" Her twin had been playing quietly with the ponies, but now she watched Celebriel for a few moments, and then took a leap onto Faramir. "Ada, I want to fly too."

"Oof!" Exclaimed Faramir in surprise. He knew that he was supposed to rest, but he couldn't help but acquiesce. He thought that his own father would understand.

Together, two daughters and two fathers danced and flew through the last hours of the longest night of the year.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:14 pm (UTC)
Awww, two flying girls carried by two men who love them so much. Wonderfully written!
Jan. 2nd, 2013 05:57 am (UTC)
Thank you, Rhapsody! I am glad you like the image :)
Jan. 1st, 2013 09:21 pm (UTC)
This was such a sweet image - the two young girls flying in the arms of their respective fathers. Family is always such an important component of holidays and this illustrated it beautifully.

- Erulisse (one L)
Jan. 2nd, 2013 05:58 am (UTC)
Thanks, gwathel! It is, isn't it? *smiles* I remember being carried so in my own father's arms when I was small...
Jan. 2nd, 2013 12:55 am (UTC)
It's a sweet image.

You should also fix your HTML tags.
Jan. 2nd, 2013 05:58 am (UTC)
Thanks, Steel. :)

(I would, but I don't know how. It never seems to work for me...)
Jan. 2nd, 2013 03:22 am (UTC)
Oh, how sweet the play as they enjoy this night!
Jan. 2nd, 2013 05:59 am (UTC)
Thank you, Larner! :)
Jan. 2nd, 2013 05:40 pm (UTC)
Sorry about not being able to reply till now - LJ access been a real pain for me.

I love this and the ideas behind it - strangely appropriate as my husband actually has CP (mild though it is for him). Thank you so much for writing this - it means a lot to me.

Edited at 2013-01-02 06:17 pm (UTC)
Jan. 3rd, 2013 03:20 am (UTC)
Aww! I am so glad you loved it. I have mild CP as well - I couldn't walk until I was three and managed at a stumbling run by the time I was six or so, so Celebriel's a bit worse off than me in that department. I was scared out of my mind to write this, I admit, as I haven't any idea of your fic preferences other than what you gave me, and I didn't know if you'd like it at all. Unless I know you by a different name over at SoA, we haven't met, but I'm glad to have made a new friend :)

Kaylee Arafinwiel
Jan. 5th, 2013 10:26 pm (UTC)
This is very much a family story, just right for Yule. I specially liked the game of making the bridge, getting the horses across. That's something I would have done at that age too *g*. Liked Aragorn on the floor playing with her. I did wonder how the reveal would go though -- it's one thing to want to tell a child you are her real parent, but at the same time that means telling her the people she's seen as parents all her life aren't.... Still, she seems to be very loved and secure, so I'm sure this has a happy ending.
Jan. 10th, 2013 12:37 am (UTC)
Keiliss, thanks :) I wonder how the reveal will go, too...the Muse kind've stopped there and didn't say. Oh well, maybe for another challenge?

We'll see at some point, I'm sure!

Jan. 9th, 2013 12:54 pm (UTC)
This is so sad, I feel so bad for Arwen and Aragorn who can only think of giving her away as the best option. And Aragorn playing with her- it made me feel his loss even more. I wish they had decided to face the people of Gondor and raise her as their child, scandal or not. :(
Jan. 10th, 2013 12:39 am (UTC)
It is sad :( In fact, they will reclaim her after this at some point. I may have an idea about how to go about that...*ponders* We shall see.


Jan. 10th, 2013 10:04 am (UTC)
That sounds intriguing! :) And I feel as if I didn't quite underline how much I loved watching Aragorn play with her!
Jan. 10th, 2013 12:01 am (UTC)
A lovely family story though it makes me sad that the people of Gondor would not accept Celebriel, but I suppose they wanted a strong warrior leader.
Jan. 10th, 2013 12:43 am (UTC)
Yes, Linda, it makes me sad too.

I actually always thought of Celebriel as being cherished and loved from birth and raised in Aragorn and Arwen's house, until...I think it was SurgicalSteel? pointed out (when I asked) that a child with her condition and issues would have likely been sent away, in a society such as Gondor's. Sending her to Ithilien was one option. The other I thought of was sending her to Arnor, where (in my interpretation) the scarcity of family and children has made any child welcome, no matter their status or situation. I thought about having some of Aragorn's Northern kindred bring her up. But it would be a terribly long journey for a newborn, and Eowyn was completing her lying-in time in the Houses of Healing at the same time as Arwen, so it was just convenient - Eowyn could bring home two babies instead of one, and very few people would know what had happened.

Kaylee Arafinwiel
Jan. 10th, 2013 01:07 am (UTC)
I agree Ithlien is a good place for her to be raised. Faramir and Eowyn are perfect foster parents and Aragorn and Arwen can see her often.

If you ever want to wtite an alternate version where she is raised by Aragorn and Arwen, follow your heart. I think once celebriel had a healthly brother Gondor would be far less bothered.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )


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