A/N: This is based upon a plot bunny by Shirebound:

“One evening, Aragorn is drawn to visit the restored White Tree, and finds that one of the hobbits has the same idea. What do they talk about? Or do they talk at all?”


Disclaimer: I do not own Lord of the Rings.


All Shall Fade

Aragorn looked down at his sleeping wife with a smile. He caressed her gently and, bending down, gave her a kiss. He walked to the door and opened it as silently as possible. There was so much that he had undertaken by accepting his birthright and becoming King. He needed time to think and to be alone – time he did not have when he was busy during the day with all his duties. He knew Arwen would worry if she awoke and found him absent, but he needed this time. She would understand as she always did.

The King walked thoughtfully through the halls of his new home and out to the courtyard of Minas Tirith, where the White Tree of Gondor stood, firmly rooted. Here, he could always find peace and quiet to unwind from his long hard days. In fact, it was where he and Arwen would normally meet whenever he had time. They would talk; she would massage his shoulders, sending all stress out of his muscles. But this evening, he found someone he did not expect outside in front of the tree, staring at it blankly, so deep in thought he did not notice the King’s arrival. “Frodo,” he said softly, as he placed his hands behind his back and looked out into the dark, starry sky.

“Strider,” Frodo replied, with a small bow.

The two remained silent for a while, each thinking of their troubles, their worries. Aragorn looked down at his small companion again. “What are you doing up here, my friend?”

Frodo looked up. “It gives me hope that I may be one and whole again when I see the White Tree, my lord. I am reminded of a lineage of kings that was broken, but then restored. The city strengthened and given hope. This tree, restored. So much that was ruined by the Enemy was renewed. I am just hoping that I can be healed like everything else.”

“Did the healers not do their job properly with your wounds, Frodo? Let me see if I can do something for you.” Aragorn bent down, concern showing in his face.

“No, Strider, it is not that. It is…different. It’s not a wound that pains me physically. It’s deeper, more complex, something I fear that time may not even be able to heal, but then at other times, it seems it can, that I’m stronger and that the wound is gone. But it comes back…harder-harder than before. At times, it is so hard that I can scarcely bear it.” Frodo’s eyes searched Aragorn’s for help.

Aragorn stood and looked away, unable to bear Frodo’s troubled gaze. He could not give the help and comfort this hobbit, his friend, needed. The hobbit had seen and felt so much over the course of a few months that he would not have seen or felt had he not gone on the Quest. The King had not thought of how bearing the Ring could have torn his friend in two. He had only known Frodo’s faithful gardener Sam was with him, and that no harm would come to him if Sam could help it. He had thought Sam’s company could have kept Frodo from having to bear the burden alone, that Frodo would be able to let Sam know how it was affecting him so that Sam would be able to help him emotionally.

The King had known that Frodo would have to carry the burden of the Ring himself, however, but he had never thought Its evil could harm him so much. Frodo had been so resilient to Its evil at first, the reason Elrond had allowed him to be the Ringbearer. Apparently though, he had not been resilient enough to go on without Its evil affecting him.

Aragorn shook his head in despair. “I have not the words to say to you in hope of giving comfort. In fact, I too am having trouble adjusting to the new life I have now, and verily you will have trouble readjusting to life in the Shire when you return, but, my friend, you will be one and whole soon. You just need to talk to Sam, confide in him as you have confided in me, if you have not already.”

“I haven’t.” It was Frodo’s turn to look away from the King’s gaze. “I cannot give him a burden to bear any more than the one he has placed upon himself. He worries too much about me already. He thinks I do not notice, but he walks into my quarters and checks on me several times during the night. I pretend to be asleep, but I am truly awake pondering upon how life will be now that the Ring is gone and I no longer have a definite task. Will it be peaceful and the same as though I never left it…or-or will it be different, somehow changed, I wonder?” Frodo took a few steps away and looked off into the distance.

Aragorn looked sadly at the hobbit. His own problems seemed so small to him compared to Frodo’s. He looked with compassion at the sad figure. The hobbit had once held his head high and walked with an air of confidence, but now, his head hung and his shoulders slumped as one who had been through a great hardship. It seemed to Aragorn that Frodo was nowhere near the same hobbit he once had been. His demeanor lacked hope, which he had once had.

Was there not something he could do for the hobbit? The hobbit had done so much for Middle Earth only to have himself changed so drastically he did not know his own self. At least Middle Earth had been saved and the Quest had succeeded, but it was such a high cost.

Finally the King spoke, but his words were quiet and slow as though unsure. “Well, it would seem to me that perhaps since Samwise has bestowed this ‘burden’ upon himself that you should tell him how you are feeling. Then, he could help you and not have to worry anymore,” Aragorn said, taking a couple steps to where Frodo was standing at the wall.

“I think that at times, Strider, but then I near his room and see him sitting and talking to Merry or Pippin, and I think he does not need another burden,” Frodo answered, his voice barely audible as he watched the families below sitting outside their homes and listened to the laughter as it floated up.

“Did it occur to you that perhaps he wants the burden?” Aragorn asked his voice slightly louder than it had been.

Frodo became silent and his eyes looked distant as though his body was in Minas Tirith, but his mind was elsewhere. Could Sam want the burden? Frodo could not accept that, so, he decided to change the subject. He cleared his throat. “Well, how rude of me to speak of myself when you clearly came up here with something you needed to think about.”

“Actually, you are correct; I did come up here to clear my head of the days events, but if you need someone to talk to, Frodo -”

“No, you have already helped more than anyone else, Strider. Is there any way that I can help you?” Frodo walked over to the white bench that was near where they were standing and took a seat. Aragorn sat beside Frodo.

“No, not unless you can hand me the keys to how to act justly in every situation that is handed to me, Frodo.” A nearby guard walked away and caught his attention for a moment.

Frodo nodded his head. “I cannot give you any advice. I have never tried to lead an entire people. But I am willing to listen if you are in need of talking to someone.”

“It is a different life that I lead now than I did before. Suddenly I have gone from wandering to settling down and ruling a great many people. It is a large responsibility.”

“In a way, I can relate to having a large responsibility. With the Ring I felt so weighed down, just carrying it. It was a responsibility I took on willingly however.” Frodo sighed.

“At least mine is not a bad burden, in fact it is not burdensome at all, only tiring. It will take some adjusting.” Aragorn leaned back against the wall.

“I could only imagine. Has Arwen been helpful?”

“Yes, very much so. She is patient and understanding. She reminds me so many times that all this will pass, all the troubles that were left behind by Sauron’s regime. It had an affect on the people. Some still have fears of orcs attacking the Gondor and destroying Minas Tirith. I daily have to face that fact that the people yet lack confidence in the city’s strength, in me even. They may have a sense of hope now, but Sauron bestowed so much doubt and fear that it is hard for them. I must find some way to make them feel secure enough to trust my judgment. I want to lessen the amount of guards necessary to watch the city as soon as possible, but I cannot do so until the people trust me.” Aragorn stood and walked over to the tree.

Frodo followed as quickly as his legs would carry him. “They will, Strider. You will make a great King. The people will see, and they will place their complete trust in you. All these times of doubt and fear shall fade into naught but memories.”

“I hope you’re right, my friend.”

Frodo stood silently for a while, his hope suddenly renewed. “I know I am, Strider,” he said and looked smiling at the stars.

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