Smoke gets in your eyes|
Arwen loves everything about Aragorn
except one thing.
The characters, places, and events
are creations of J.R.R. Tolkien. No profit was or will be made from
this story. It was written solely for entertainment.
Even in the depths of winter, the gardens
at Rivendell were fair. As the day of departure for the mission, which
would either see his dreams realised, or shatter all hope forever, Aragorn
spent increasing amounts of time there when his duties allowed. He would
wander the paths lost in thought, usually puffing at his pipe as he
One windy December day, he wandered
down to the waterfall and lit his pipe. He drew in lungful’s of smoke
as he inwardly debated how he could best protect Frodo in the weeks
A fit of coughing behind him interrupted
his train of thought; he spun around and found Arwen beside him. “It
gladdens my heart to see you, beloved,” he said.
Arwen wrinkled her beautiful nose and
coughed again as the wind blew smoke in her face. “I love everything
about you, Estel, save one thing, your pipe,” she said.
Aragorn knocked out the pipe against
a rock. “You never chide the Hobbits for smoking,” he said.
“They are our guests. You are soon
to be my husband,” said Arwen.
“Your faith inspires me,” said
“I cannot see why you feel a need
to add nearly choking and risking setting yourself alight to the hazards
you already face in the wild,” said Arwen. “It is a marvel indeed
that the foul smell of pipeweed does not alert every Orc in the vicinity
to your presence! What is it about this foul smelling weed that has
such a hold over a man such as you?”
“It is comforting,” said Aragorn.
He tucked the pipe in his pocket.
“I shall be your comfort,” said
“You are my comfort, my love, my
inspiration, my very soul!” said Aragorn. He drew her close in his
arms and kissed her. She returned his kisses, but her nose still wrinkled
at the lingering scent of pipeweed.
In the months that followed, Aragorn
almost forgot the conversation as he battled against the minions of
the Dark Lord. Against all the odds, the Forces of the West prevailed
thanks to the courage of two brave Hobbits; Frodo, and Sam. Strider
the Ranger was now King Elessar Telcontar and free to wed his beloved
Aragorn’s first days after his coronation
were filled with the business of kingship when all manner of folk vied
for his attention. The nights, though, were a very different matter.
Never had Aragorn felt so alone as he did then, not even in the wilderness.
It was then that his spirit became troubled as he pondered over all
that Arwen would be sacrificing to become his Queen. He would gain all
he had ever wanted, while she would forever be parted from her family
and the life of the Eldar. She would be his Queen, but such titles meant
little to the Lady of Rivendell. How could he ever show her how deeply
he loved her? Aragorn pondered long over the problem, but found no answer
Two weeks after he was crowned, Aragorn
sat in the King’s living room. He was puffing at his pipe after the
evening meal when a servant announced that his Steward wished to speak
“Let him come in,” said Aragorn.
“I am sorry to trouble you, sire,”
said Faramir, bowing low. “I have just had word that an embassy from
Khand arrives on the morrow and I wanted to know if we should offer
to release all the prisoners we took during the war.” The Steward
“I cannot see why not,” said Aragorn.
“Sit down, Faramir, and partake of a glass of wine with me while we
discuss the terms of the treaty. We will send the prisoners home provided
they swear oaths not to bear arms against us in future.”
“A wise decision, my lord,” said
Faramir. “I think that…” He was unable to finish the sentence
before another fit of coughing seized him. He coughed until his whole
body shook and his eyes were red rimmed.
“Are you unwell, Faramir?” Aragorn
asked, full of concern. “You sound as if you have lung fever!” He
reached out to lay a hand on Faramir’s brow.
“I am well, thank you, sire,” Faramir
answered between coughs. “I think it must be the smoke that has afflicted
Aragorn rose and went over to the window
and threw it open. He put out his pipe. “Take a few deep breaths of
fresh air,” he advised his Steward.
Faramir did as he was bidden and his
coughing gradually abated.
“I thought you would be accustomed
to Mithrandir smoking?” said Aragorn.
“He only smoked in the gardens as
my father forbade pipe smoke within doors,” said Faramir. “Of course,
it is for you to decide as you wish now, sire,” he added hastily.
“It is not my wish to torment you,
Faramir,” Aragorn said drily. “We shall open the window in future
when I am smoking my pipe. Now drink your wine and let us decide if
we should receive the embassy in the Court of the Fountain or within
The discussion passed without further
incident, but Aragorn noted that Faramir’s eyes were still red when
they parted an hour or so later. A sudden and dreadful thought struck
him. These were the rooms he would occupy with Arwen, should his hopes
be realised; rooms far less airy and far more confined than the airy
halls of Rivendell. Would his beautiful and beloved lady not only be
doomed to be mortal, but to spend her days red eyed and racked with
coughing? He could not put the image from his mind as he prepared for
bed. When he finally slept, his dreams were filled with images of Arwen
coughing and spluttering, before finally dissolving into a puff of smoke.
When Aragorn awoke just after dawn
the next day, his heart knew what he must do, though his head protested
He arose and dressed, then slipped
out into the gardens and lit his pipe, pacing back and forth along the
pathways as he blew rings of smoke from his pipe.
Arwen was giving up the life of the
Eldar, her kindred and her home by pledging herself to him in marriage.
Surely, the very least he could do for her was to give up pipeweed?
No doubt, it would also please his Steward and most of his subjects
in Gondor too! It was so small a sacrifice to make for love.
Yet his pipe had been his constant
companion and comfort through all his long travels. A meal would not
taste so good without a pipe to follow it. He was not even certain that
Arwen would come. He had received no message from Rivendell since Sauron’s
defeat. There was no need to abandon his pipe; he could take a walk
in the gardens if he wished to smoke. But would not Arwen be his companion
and comfort in the future and a far better one than a pipe?
Aragorn finished his pipe then held
it lovingly for a moment. How could he bear to cast it away, his faithful
companion in the wilds? But did he love Arwen more than he loved a stick
of wood with a curved bowl? A foolish question indeed! Maybe there was
no need to throw away his old friend? He could keep the pipe while forsaking
His mind made up, he asked a servant
to hang a hook on the wall of his study. He lovingly cleaned and polished
his pipe, faithful friend throughout so many years, and hung it upon
He then went to where the many gifts
presented to him at his coronation were stored. There was a fair quantity
of pipeweed amongst them, most of it finest Longbottom Leaf and Old
Tobey. The King regarded it wistfully, and then called for a servant
to pack it into boxes.
It was still not yet breakfast time
when the King, followed by two guards laden with packages, made his
way to the house in the sixth circle where the surviving members of
the Fellowship were staying. The servant who answered the door informed
him that only Legolas and Pippin were abroad yet. “Shall I rouse the
rest of the household, my lord?” she enquired.
“There is no need,” said Aragorn.
“Just give this to Mithrandir, Lord Gimli, and the Hobbits.”
“Hello, Strider,” said Pippin,
appearing in the doorway with Legolas. “You’re up early this morning.”
“I have been given more pipeweed
than I could smoke in a dozen lifetimes since I became king,” said
Aragorn. “I thought that you might make good use of it.” He nodded
to the guards who laid the packages by the door.
“What a lovely gift!” Pippin exclaimed,
hugging the King. “Thank you, Strider. But are you sure you don’t
“Quite certain,” said Aragorn.
“I ask only that you think of me when you smoke it.”
“As if there were not enough of that
foul smelling weed in this house already!” said Legolas.
“I deliberately asked the Steward
to find a house with a large garden for you, mellon nîn,” Aragorn
replied mildly. “Now I must be on my way.”
“Won’t you at least stay and have
breakfast with us?” Pippin pleaded.
Aragorn hesitated, desiring to spend
time with his friends. They would be certain to light their pipes after
the meal, though and his resolution might waver. Also, they might question
him as to why he was giving finest Longbottom Leaf away. Only Gandalf
knew of his heart’s desire, and until he was certain that Arwen would
come, he had no wish to speak of his hopes.
A sudden wave of grief washed over
him as he thought of Halbarad, the only other save the wizard, in whom
he had confided his heart’s deepest desires. How he wished that his
kinsman were at his side now! Halbarad had fallen, fighting at his side
and bearing Arwen’s standard, the token of her love and faith she
had entrusted. Halbarad had died for love of his lord and to help him
achieve his dream, a dream that he owed to Halbarad to cherish all the
“I cannot stay now, but hope you
will all join me for a meal tomorrow,” he said. “Farewell for a
little while.” He turned and walked away before Legolas and the young
hobbit could see the tears that had welled up in his eyes.
In the days that followed, Aragorn
felt like a bear with a sore head. He craved for pipeweed, even more
than he craved for Arwen, if such a thing were possible. Every waking
moment, he thought of his pipe and the comfort it had afforded him.
His hands twitched with no pipe to hold and he struggled to contain
his temper, especially with his advisers who had had the gall to suggest
that he should consider marriage and even produced a list of candidates
they considered suitable. He felt like tearing the list to shreds and
thrusting the scraps of parchment down the throats of the impertinent
counsellors. They must have noticed the furious gleam in his eyes as
they hastily backed away.
Then one fine May night, everything
changed when Gandalf took him up to a hidden hallow on Mount Mindolluin.
There they discovered a scion of Nimloth. His heart soared at the sight
of the sapling. His forefather, Isildur had risked his life to rescue
a fruit of the White Tree and against all odds the tree and its descendants
had flourished for centuries, as had Isildur’s line. The line of Nimloth
would continue to flourish and so too would the line of kings. It was
a sign. Arwen would come. He thought less about pipeweed with every
day that passed.
Still he hesitated to voice his hopes
to his friends. He had cherished them secretly in his heart for too
long, sharing them only with Halbarad and Gandalf. He did, though, confide
in Faramir, entrusting the young Steward to make all ready for his bride
and trusting in his discretion.
At Midsummer, she came and they were
at last united as man and wife. In the first heady days of matrimony,
he forgot all about his pipe.
One evening, as they walked hand in
hand through the gardens, he noticed his beloved stealing puzzled glances
“What is it, my love?” he asked
when they returned within doors.
“I have not seen you smoking your
pipe since I arrived,” Arwen replied. “Always you would smoke when
we walked in the gardens of my father’s house.”
“Come with me,” said Aragorn. He
took her arm and led her to his study. “Here is my pipe,” he said,
gesturing to where it hung on the wall. “There it will stay, as I
have sworn never again to smoke pipeweed.”
“But why, beloved. I thought you
loved the vile smelling stuff!”
“I love you far more.”
“You gave it up for me?” Arwen’s
voice was unsteady.
“You have forsaken so much for me.”
“I freely chose the sacrifice. I
desire to be forever at your side, Estel.”
“I want to make you happy, vanimelda.
I would do anything to be worthy of your love.”
“You are more than worthy.” Her
lips met his in a passionate kiss.
“My beloved, my Evenstar, my bride!”
He drew her close; fire surging through his blood at her intoxicating
nearness, her perfume had never smelt so sweet before. Abandoning pipeweed
certainly had its consolations!
Arm in arm, Aragorn and Arwen retired
to their chamber for the night.