Arwen stood on her balcony, grasping at her recently-shrunk stomach. Holding herself. It had been too much to hope for, she knew, too soon. Her father had warned her that elves did not conceive so quickly as did men. She had married Estel with eyes wide open, and she had known that most in Gondor would prize her more as the mother of their next king than as artist, or kings counselor and friend, or whatever other role she might perform.
She had known, but she had not known, too. She had not known how gnawing the emptiness would be when her body cast out her babe her daughter after only five months.
Her belly ached anew, and it was all she could do not to weep again at the hopes that detail brought to mind. She had hoped for a daughter, secretly. She knew all Gondor was counting on a son, but she had spent her life surrounded by her brothers high spirits, and had seen too many of Isildurs heirs grow into manhood under her fathers care. A girl, though! A daughter she might have watched over and taught to dance the secret dances of her people, as once Lthien did. She longed, just then, for the mother who was forever lost to her.
And she had not known how cruel the maidservants eyes would seem. Some blamed her, she knew, for this loss of an heir (or of a daughter who would bring their king joy and could one day strengthen the bonds with some foreign land through marriage, if it came to that). And others blamed Estel for his choice of her as queen. Their own Lothriel had been of near-marriageable age, and Hrins daughter Elien was a widow and had already given her first husband two heirs. Both were from fine mannish lines known for producing healthy sons. They thought it foolish of Estel to marry a foreign-born lady so alien to their ways, whose very body was built differently than theirs, when so many eligible wives were near at hand.
Below her, the wind whipped through her garden, the trees leafless branches waving to and fro as if in greeting. Before, she had let the Citadels children play in this garden, and had often joined them at making daisy-chains. This last month, though, the garden had been quiet. She suspected Elien had something to do with it Elien, who many thought should be her rival or at the least jealous of her position, but had instead become her closest friend. And she was glad not to have childrens laughter constantly grating on her ears. But the place seemed empty now, too.
Stepping out away from the wall, Arwen held out her arms to the wind. Sometimes it chafed her skin raw and made it feel numb her whole body over. Sometimes, when it carried little snowflakes, it pricked at her skin like a thousand pins. But today it was different. She breathed in the coolness, let it fill her, and smiled. There was a harshness to December, yes, but a promise of tomorrows as well. Todays wind carried the scent of holly, and Arwen was reminded how the Citadel would soon ring with carols. Mettar was fast approaching; she guessed the servants were already busy preparing Merethrond for the feast two days hence.
She would not try for another child, not quite yet, but that thought did not bother her as it often did. She had been childless for long centuries, and she had kept herself busy with the art of living well. No, she chastised herself, that made it seem as if she was just passing time. She had truly lived, and been content. Tomorrow she would dance, and drink rich wine with no thought for a babes health, and would sing along with the holiday songs urging the suns return. Perhaps she could even muster a laugh or two. She knew for a certainty that she would try.