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The Bard

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Summary: Two lonely people find each other for friendship. A birthday fic for Zoe, my beta.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Lord of the Rings > Giles-CenteredWildecateFR1336,9254124,36126 Dec 0322 Aug 04Yes

The Bard

The Bard


Birthday Fic for Zoe


Disclaimer: It’s not mine not any of it. Joss, Tolkein and U2 are the guys to thank.


Summary: Two lonely people find each other.


Rating: 15


Notes: I’ve taken some liberties with the timeline and I’ve got Arwen living for much longer than the books state after Aragorn’s death. This is a step away from my usual dark fic and angst something sweet and lovely.


It was late September. The leaves were fading from the trees and the last day of the summer was coming to an end. The year was passing slowly, every second seeming to last a day and each day taking forever. The sun rose and set with the same regularity and yet for some people, each day was a torment.


Arwen Evenstar stared glumly out of her window. The sun was setting in the distance, tinting the sky a mass of pink and purple and yet even the beautiful sight could not bring a smile to her face. There would be a feast tonight, the Harvest feast, and she was expected to attend, to smile and to laugh and add her queenly presence to the proceedings. Her King had been dead for what seemed like all of her life but, in reality, was scarcely more than a decade. The pain still ran through her every time she thought of him and, had she known how much his death had hurt her, she might well have thought twice about making the choice she had and perhaps, just perhaps she might have listened to her father. Arwen ruminated on this for a moment but then turned away from the window, twirling the ring that still encircled her finger. No, there would never have been any other choice for her. She would rather have lived for one day knowing his love than spent all of the years of the Ages without him.


Elessar had been deeply mourned by his people but, as Arwen was well aware, human life was short, and it continued without him. The years had passed with festive days depressing her more than any other day. Her King had always loved a good feast and she missed his presence by her side. The Spring Feast, the Midsummer Feast, tonight’s feast celebrating the harvest and the Winter Party were times for the people to join together and have fun and Arwen would never have denied them that. She just wished, sometimes, that she could flee this palace and find refuge in her father’s home. But her father was long gone and Rivendell was all but deserted now.


A quiet knock on the door roused her from her gloomy thoughts and her maidservant peered in. Tarna, an elfmaid from Rivendell had been with Arwen for as long as she could remember. She gave Arwen a sweet smile, appreciating how the Queen was feeling but began chatting airily about the feast to try and cheer her friend up.


“What colour do you wish to wear tonight my lady?”


Arwen looked listlessly at the array of gowns hanging in her dressing room.


“I think the blue tonight, Tarna.”


“There is a new bard come from Edoras. He is said to have the sweetest voice this side of the Mountains. The Lord and Lady of Edoras sent greetings to you and letters with him and begs that he should play for you.”


“Who is he?” Arwen smiled a little. The Lady of Edoras, whilst having many good qualities, was not the best judge of musical talent and had sent many tuneless singers Arwen’s way. They had, however all been first class comedians and had always managed to make Arwen and Elessar smile.


“He is a stranger to these lands. The wizard, Gandalf, knew of him and I believe he rode with your husband during the War.”



“He knew my husband?” Arwen questioned. “And yet he lives? How is this possible?”


Tarna gestured for Arwen to sit so that she could brush her hair. Un-braiding the long chestnut strands Tarna told Arwen all she had heard of the stranger from Edoras.


“He has no place of origin, nor home. He rides from place to place making his living as a bard although he is a keen rider and experienced warrior. For a while when he first came to these parts he travelled with Gandalf and, I believe, also spent a short time with your father at Rivendell.”


“How is it that I have not heard of him before?” Arwen mused.


Tarna began brushing Arwen’s hair with long smooth strokes until it lay as a shining mass across her shoulders.


“He is a quiet man and keeps to himself. Rivendell was a busy place during those years. I hear that although he is of the race of man, he seems to have an unusually long life span. Apparently he looks almost the same as he did when he first came travelling in these parts.”


Arwen sat in silence as Tara arranged her hair in a simple style and then helped her into the elegant dress.


“My lady, is there something wrong?” Tarna knew her mistress well. She meant “is there something wrong besides the obvious?” She had always been devoted to Arwen and when the elf princess had made her choice, Tarna had not hesitated in making the same. She was absolutely devoted to her and they were more than mistress and servant, they were friends and Tarna would not leave Arwen to live a lonely existence after Elessar succumbed to inevitable death.


“I think it is time for me to leave this place,” Arwen said softly. “I think now is the time for me to return to the place of my ancestors. Lorien calls me, Tarna. I hear it stronger every day.”


“You would leave here?” Tarna was surprised.


“I will. And soon.”


“Then I shall be at your side, my lady.”


Arwen hugged her friend tightly, grateful for her presence, for her love. These last years would have been far more difficult if Tarna had not been around to grace the castle with her presence, to pass on gossip and to comfort Arwen at her saddest and most lonely moments.


“Time to face the crowds, I think.” Arwen squeezed Tarna’s hand, and the two of them left the room to join the people massing for the Harvest Feast.


********************************************


The dancing had been hot and heavy all night and the wine had flowed freely. Arwen had sought sanctuary in one of the smaller rooms with Tarna and some of her friends. She sat quietly, peacefully, watching the flames flicker in the fireplace and listening to the idle chatter but was lending little more than her presence to the party. She had danced as she was supposed so, she had smiled at everyone she was supposed to and now all she wanted was her bed. But it was too early and she knew the new King would be hurt if she disappeared off now. So instead she hid herself away, suppressing the quiet longing to turn to see Elessar sitting next to her with a smile on his face.


There was a movement in the doorway and she turned to see who the new arrival was and caught her breath.


He was tall, his hair cropped unfashionably short with a piercing gaze. He looked stern but she could tell that he could be kind; his weather-beaten face had laughter lines and a smile played around his well-shaped lips. He reminded her of her Elessar, in a way that she could not describe. Perhaps it was the confidence, the look in his eye, the way he spoke to the other occupants of the room as he settled himself by the fire. He was carrying a stringed instrument in one hand and a goblet of wine in the other and Arwen realised that this was the stranger from Edoras, the bard.


Tarna couldn’t keep her eyes off him. He was beautiful for a human and, if the stories were true, he wore the weight of his years well. She gestured subtly to Arwen who sat up in interest.


“Play something for us” someone encouraged and the man sipped at his wine before settled the instrument on his lap, placing one hand at the neck of what looked like an over size lute and the other ready to pluck the strings.


“What would you have me play?” he asked, laughing.


“Anything!”


The stranger played for what seemed like hours, completely unfatigued. He seemed to know every song that was requested of him and a couple more that weren’t. He knew drinking songs, which no one had heard before, but the words were easy and people soon picked them singing at the top of their voices. He knew softer songs, tales of people Arwen had never heard of with strange names from stranger places. She listened avidly as his voice that was strong and true told of love and battle and left her heart soaring. He touched her in a way she had not been touched for years and yet not once did he raise his eyes to look at her.


Finally he stopped, his fingers resting on the strings of the lute and finished his wine.


“One more and that’s me done for the night,” he said. Arwen noticed he spoke Common with a strange accent, very precisely. “Any requests?”


“Sing one for us. A love song.” A couple in the corner who were sitting peacefully together made their request. Arwen’s gaze went to them and her stomach contracted painfully. The man sat comfortably on the floor, his back resting against the panelled wood wall of the room and his love, his wife; lay with her head resting on his lap. Their hands were intertwined and their love for each other was visible, shining from their eyes.


The bard inclined his head in agreement and then thought for a moment.


“I will play you a love song from my home country.”


His deft fingers plucked at the strings rhythmically as everyone fell silent. His voice quiet at first, husky strengthened throughout the song.


You say you want


Diamonds on a ring of gold


You say you want


Your story to remain untold


But all the promises we make


From the cradle to the grave


When all I want is you


You say you'll give me


A highway with no one on it


Treasure just to look upon it


All the riches in the night


You say you'll give me


Eyes in a moon of blindness


A river in a time of dryness


A harbour in the tempest


But all the promises we make


From the cradle to the grave


When all I want is you


You say you want


Your love to work out right


To last with me through the night


You say you want


Diamonds on a ring of gold


Your story to remain untold


Your love not to grow cold


All the promises we break


From the cradle to the grave


When all I want is you


His fingers stilled as the dying notes echoed into the room and everyone clapped afterwards.


“Thank you, I’ll be here all week,” he said, standing and stretching.


Arwen whispered rapidly to Tarna who followed the bard out of the room. She came back in with a smile on her face and nodded once to the Queen who announced that she was tired and would be retiring for the evening. She wished everyone a good night and left the room, leaving Tarna behind.


The corridor was empty but as she walked in the direction of her rooms, the bard was standing on one of the many balconies, which overlooked the main Hall staring down at the feast, which was still in full swing. He looked up as he heard Arwen’s approach.


“Thank you for waiting for me” she said.


“I was glad to” he replied in her own language. She smiled at him; unaccountably glad to hear elven speech from someone who wasn’t Tarna. He spoke it with the same accent that had been apparent when he had used the Common tongue but it made the elven speech beautiful.


“I have not heard such speech for a long time.” Arwen commented. “I would talk you with a while, if you are not tired.”


“I always have time for a lady. Especially one as lovely as you.”


Arwen, to her complete embarrassment, found herself blushing. He courteously offered her his arm and she took it and they began to walk together.


“You are Queen Arwen, the Evenstar?”


“I see you know me, but I do not know you.” Arwen grinned up at him and saw his green eyes crinkle in a smile.


“The name I have used for the time I have been here is Giles. Giles of Sunnydale.”


“And your true name?”


“Is also Giles. Rupert Giles.”


”Where is Sunnydale?” Arwen could not recall ever hearing of such a place and she was struck by the lost look that suddenly passed over the face of Rupert Giles.


“I wish I knew,” he said softly. “I came here, by mistake, many years ago. So many, in fact, that I have lost count. I had a home, a family and friends. It was during a fight against a powerful witch. She sent me through a portal although I do not believe even she knew where she was sending me. When I awoke I found myself here.”


“Here?” Arwen was fascinated by the story.


“In the forest of Lothlorien” Rupert Giles amended. “I was found by the guardians of the forest who took me to Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel. I stayed there many days and the kindness of the Lord and Lady was amazing but no matter how hard they tried, there was no way for me to return.”


“What happened in the fight with the witch?” Arwen asked.


“I do not know. But I hope and pray that it ended well. It’s a story for another time.”


“You are staying here in Gondor?” Arwen asked.


“I have been invited for the whole of the Harvest Feast” Rupert Giles smiled. “And I have met an enigmatic woman that I would like to know better.”


Arwen met his gaze and smiled. “I believe she would also like to know more of you too Rupert Giles. I hear you knew her husband.”


An expression of grief passed over the Bard’s face as they reached Arwen’s rooms and he took her hand in his, pressing it gently and looking deeply into her blue eyes.


“I knew him well. He was one of the bravest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and I followed him without question. He saved my life and I had the honour of defending him during the final battles.”


“You will come to me tomorrow then? I would love to hear more of your life and of your time with Elessar,” she said hopefully.


“I will.” Rupert Giles lifted her hand to his lips and she felt the soft warmth of his touch across her hand. “I hope your sleep is peaceful, my lady.”


He turned away from her and she stood at the doorway of her room watching his retreating back. The weight of her grief that she carried round with her had been lessened by his kind words and she knew that her Elessar would not mind if she spent a few hours in his company.
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