~ Prologue ~
Aragorn, Arathorn’s son, Lord of the Dúnedain, listen to me! A great doom awaits you, either to rise above the height of all your fathers since the days of Elendil, or to fall into darkness with all that is left of your kin. Many years of trial lie before you. You shall neither have wife, nor bind any woman to you in troth, until your time comes and you are found worthy of it… You shall be betrothed to no man's child as yet.
LOTR: Appendix A: Here Follows a Part of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
Some time ago, the chanting ceased, leaving only the chill wind whistling through the grass. Here among the barrows, the morning is bright. The sun rises above a hill scoured clean by the bitter winds that sweep down from the northern lands. Snow lies secreted beneath the eaves of the tall pines, revealed only when our passage turned aside low-hanging boughs heavy with green. Yet, even now the tips of the hawthorn swell with the promise of new growth. Soon the wind will turn and blow warmly from beyond the Havens, bringing with it the water of distant seas and the blessings of the Valar.
Dirt trickles from my fist and my fingers ache from the force with which I clasp the earth between them.
The wind sighs through the sere grass and with its chill burns my cheeks where they are wet.
Mutely, I look down upon my father's face pale against the dark, new-turned earth. He it was who taught us the weaving of the buttercups of this very meadow and we placed them upon his dark head. Yet still, I cannot see him. Those are not his beloved eyes, cheeks, and jaw. 'Tis not his hair arrayed about his shoulders. I see naught of likeness to the man whose house I have kept.
“Nienelen?” I hear, and my eyes rise of a sudden from the spatter of dust that lies upon my father’s breast.
They are silent, the folk gathered here, and they look upon me with pity.
"Daughter," says she standing beside me, placing a hand upon my wrist to urge the ritual on, her skin pale against the dark brown of mine. Yet, she is not my mother. She that gave me birth died in the labor of it.
I am not her daughter, for I have no mother, nor, now, any father. For, from this day on, I am no man's child.