Ivorwen sat upon the battered stone windowsill of the remains of the King’s House within the ancient keep of Fornost, holding her swaddled grandson close to her breast. He lay still enough within his blankets, his infant eyes staring up at her face as if fascinated by the wrinkles to be seen in her cheeks and brows.
“Ah, Ari my child, mine own! How large thine eyes! How clear they are, these eyes that have looked upon the world for less than five hours yet! How perfect thy form, little one, sweet one. Oh, but do not further fight sleep, little Ari, for thou dost need thy strength. Such a life thou shalt have! There is so much that we shall need to teach thee—to ride, to hunt, to wield bow and knife and sword and spear, to read and to write in a fair hand, to speak the tongues spoken by the Children of Ilúvatar, to use just judgment….
“Valorous Lord has thy father named thee, and valorous indeed may thou prove when thou shouldst come to manhood. But, for now, thou art but a babe in my arms, the fruit of thy mother’s womb and the love borne for her by thy father. The Hope for the Dúnedain art thou, the Hope not only of Men but of all of the free peoples—Men, Elves, Dwarves, and—yea, even for the Hobbits, though such people know not that they need such Hope as you embody.
“Ah, dearest child, sleep, and may the Father of us all speak to thee of justice and mercy and the means to maintain Hope in the breasts of all who desire to live free of the Shadow, who stand against Evil, who wish to see all free to seek happiness and fulfillment without the tyrant’s yoke upon their shoulders and his noose about their throats. Sleep and grow strong, and may wisdom ever dwell in thy heart, wisdom and Hope to sustain thee through all that life may seek to put in thy way to accomplish. Then shall the Hope you embody sustain all others.
“Yes, little Aragorn son of Arathorn, sleep and be at rest. For now thou art safe, here in my arms as thy mother rests from the travails of thy birth. Rest, for there is so very much thou shalt need to do ere thou comest to the time in which thou might leave the bounds of the Circles of Arda to account for the life thou hast lived.”
The infant yawned and stretched as well it might, and she rose and returned to the pallet on which his mother lay, not quite asleep but eased after her long labor to bring this child out into the light of day. Ivorwen smiled reassurance to her daughter as she laid the baby within the circle of the younger woman’s arms. Here in the remains of the ancient stronghold of the Kings of Arnor had it been judged only right that this child should be born. Ah, how she prayed that their tiny Ari might indeed grow to be the Man all of them had foreseen he was intended to be, the one to restore the world to the Creator’s will, if but for a time. Hope filled her as she looked down at Gilraen embracing her child and bringing it to her breast.