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A Handful of Valentines  by Branwyn



They were all a little in love with her, from the smooth-cheeked squires to the battered men-at-arms. Even as they knelt to renew their oaths to Ecthelion, more than a few eyes were turned away from their lord to where she stood beside the dais. Fifty years later, Aragorn still remembered how tiny her figure had seemed, too slight to bear the gown of silver cloth. He had feared its weight would pull her over. How little he had understood of women and their strength, how little he knew of what they could bear!

The light in her face was as bright as the dance of sunlight on the water, and when a draft caught her veil, it billowed out like a mainsail.

The captains had knelt in a row before the dais, with the lesser ranks crowded behind them. At Aragorn’s side, young Denethor tried to look stern, his eyes flitting between his father and his bride, as he repeated the solemn words of the oath. He stumbled badly on the last line. No doubt aware of their distraction, the steward barked out his response then gave his soldiers a curt dismissal.

With the gleam of silver and the flash of blue silk, Finduilas hastened toward the row of captains. Blue and silver, silver and blue; the cloth rippled in waves at her feet. Aragorn was minded of bright days he had known in Dol Amroth where the wind was swept clean by a thousand leagues of water. Never did his heart waver from the one he had chosen, yet still he felt light-headed as he watched her take her husband’s hand, as if he had stared too long at the sun on the water.

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