Memory Chest by Nautika|
Summary: Gilraen returns to her people and thinks on things long forgotten.
Gilraen rubbed the ends of the wooden chest, took a deep breath, and slowly lifted the lid. She rose up on her knees and looked down into its depths. There, folded carefully, was the first quilt she had made after they had wed. Her hands, not nearly as soft now as they had been then, ran lovingly over the cover. As her eyes drank in the beauty of the quilt, her hands moved on their own, finding first a square made from one of her husband's old shirts. It had been so ragged when they wed that she couldn't believe he still wore it. Gilraen smiled as she remembered the stunned look on his face when he had asked her if she'd seen it, and she had held up the square. His mouth had actually fallen open in disbelief. She'd gifted him with the shirt she had finished for him the night before...a replacement for the tattered one. He swallowed whatever he might have said, smiled, and thanked her.
Now she sank back on her heels, and held the quilt as she might a babe. Her eyes closed, and she drank in the scent of it, eyes opening as she realized with disappointment that everything in the chest would smell of cedar. There was nothing left of Arathorn's smell here. She should have known better than to expect it. Gilraen allowed the quilt to fall to her lap and looked to see what else the chest held for her.
She gasped softly. Looking up at her were the faces of her husband and their son. She'd forgotten all about the sketches Elrohir had made. There were more beneath that one. Some of her two 'boys' in a rare moment of play, others with the three of them, and one with her holding their precious son as a babe, gazing down on him as only a mother could.
Beneath Elrohir's sketches were the childish drawings gifted to her by her son, made possible by the kindness of Elladan and Elrohir. They knew how Aragorn missed his father when Arathorn rode with the twins, and they provided the parchment as a way to distract him while he was gone. Gilraen smiled as she leaved through the pages.
How could she have forgotten these things? They had been so special to her once. But she knew. She had blocked them from her mind because it would do her no good to wish for them - and because her grief for her husband had overshadowed all else. Why mourn for cloth and parchment, when the father of your child was forever lost to you, when you knew that to come home again would be to do the unthinkable - to leave your child behind? That punishment was too harsh, especially when her only crime had been to accept Arathorn's marriage proposal, against the desires of her own heart. Her mother had advised her well, and Arathorn had been a good husband. Their years together had been far too brief.
She had never thought to see the things in the chest again, and now Gilraen found no comfort in them. Once, they would have meant so much. In the long days at Imladris when her grief had eased, and when Aragorn had less need of her and more need of Elrond. Then, these ties to her years with Arathorn and their life together might have been like friends come to visit. Now they mocked her. She was approaching the winter of her life. She knew this as certainly as her mother had known that Arathorn's life would be short for one of his heritage. Gilraen explored the chest no further. Her friend had saved these things for her all these years, sacrificing precious space in her small home to do so. She would not return the kindness by destroying the contents or showing the despair they had brought her. She would put on the cheerful face she had perfected in Imladris, and ask her friends to help her move the things to her own home. There she could contemplate her life without having to pretend to be other than she was. It was a refreshing change of lifestyle. Her 'sentence' with the elves was over. She was home.