Arwen's Heart

by Peregrine

It was late and the fellowship had long since left the beauty and safety of Rivendell. But still Elrond looked out in the direction the nine had gone, as if willing his keen-eyed gaze to fly after them, to watch them . . . as if he could still see them. But, of course, he could not.
The night deepened and Elrond shivered as a winter's chill desended. Elves drifted about like shadows, lighting the hanging lanterns that threw back the cloak of darkness. It was not until they, too, had gone that Elrond turned away from where he stood and left, leaving the fellowship to whatever Fate.
He headed for the library. He did not know why, but it seemed the proper place to be at the time. He had not expected his daughter to be there.
Arwen sat upon a bench near the statue that had once held a broken sword. Now it was empty, the large leaf-shaped tray holding nothing now but a few wind-blown leaves. But she gazed at it as if it were alive and she seemed hardly to notice when Elrond walked softly by.
He left the library. He did not wish to stay within with his daughter. Not now. He knew how she felt about the ranger, about the Man who would one day be a King . . . he knew how she felt about him, her father, for sending her love away. Elrond could not face her. Not yet.
He walked through the House, from room to room, from the library as far as he could go. He passed Elves, some solem as him, some laughing and joking with friends, some singing gently. Elrond spoke to none. He wished to speak to no one. Not now.
He felt as if he had betrayed her . . . he could not except that she loved a mortal Man . . . could not except that she would willingly die for him . . . would abandon her people for a Man ... abandon her father.
Elrond halted. So that was it? He did not want her to love so as she would not leave HIM? The Elf frowned and turned to a window, gazing out at the still beauty below and all around. He had not thought of this. He loved his daughter dearly, with all his heart, and he wanted to see her happy. But most of all he wanted her to be happy with HIM, with her father, and not with anyone else--king or no. He sighed and bowed his head. He had been selfish and in being so had not seen that he had pushed her away, had broken her heart . . . She would love Aragorn no matter what he said or did, no matter where the Man went. Elrond could not stop that. He could only except it, could only except that his daughter would leave him, would fade . . . would die alone.
He could not.