The wife of the King gave up immortality to be with him. The elf gazes upon him with unrequited passion not even his beloved dwarf can console. The hobbits adore him. The King of Rohan is devoted to him and his wife -- my cousin -- follows him with her eyes.
As for my own wife, I have always known that she loved Aragorn first and best. But I have never had cause to regret it. The men and women of three kingdoms crave his presence as they crave sunlight. He is their savior, their champion, their lord.
And I am his weakness.
He comes to me with the pain he will show to no one else, not even to his wife, after all that she sacrificed for him. I do not know why he chooses me; perhaps because I am the Steward of Gondor, bound to this land as is he, or perhaps because I am Denethor's son, so he knows that I comprehend his suffering. The wraiths that haunt his memories are no worse than those that haunt mine.
I know that he once loved my brother, and though I do not know the nature of their bond, I can guess that it must have been deep for him to continue to mourn so keenly. Legolas told me that Boromir died in the King's arms, his last words an oath of allegiance. Still, I do not think Aragorn comes to me only to seek his lost companion in a close relation. He and I have too much history of our own.
He is kind and caring, and I cannot look upon him without seeing the eyes of the man who brought me back from darkness, who kindled the light of knowledge and love in me once more. When he touches me, all the sorrows of my life vanish and I am healed anew. Yet I have no such skill to make him whole. I do not even know what he lacks, whether the scars of his childhood run too deep, or he yet blames himself for the failures of his ancestors. Is it the Ring that left such scars in him, or something more subtle -- the same force that drives men to lose themselves in drink or throw themselves into battle?
I have nothing but love to offer the best-loved man in Middle-earth. Perhaps he thinks that is enough, but it is not sufficient to break him of his need to return. The pleasure I can give him is only momentary, yet he seeks it again and again, like a warrior who keeps tearing at a scar to remind himself of past battles. I fear that one day he will simply become tired of the secret struggle and give in, lying down to die before the ravages of age lay bare his pain for all to see.
Until then, I will try to be to him what he is to all of Gondor. It is a heavy burden.
And so, perhaps, I do understand.