Arwen and Elrond

by Vison

…Arwen Evenstar remained also, and she said farewell to her brethren. None saw her last meeting with Elrond her father, for they went up into the hills and there spoke long together, and bitter was their parting that should endure beyond the ends of the world………..(The Return of the King: Chapter 6, Many Partings.)

…………The feasting ended. The Music, which had fallen lightly and gently as a summer shower over the hall during the feast, changed pace and rhythm, and folk began to tap their feet. Dancing began, and laughter rang out, even some of the great folk joined in the merriment. Then rose the King Elessar. He bowed to those there assembled and went from the room, followed by Queen Arwen and Master Elrond.

They walked in silence down a long, echoing hallway to the chambers that had been set aside for the use of King Elessar and Queen Arwen. The rooms were lit by silver lamps, and filled with every comfort that could be provided by the household of King Eomer.

“I will bid thee farewell now, Estel,” Elrond said, and he embraced his son-in-law. “Ever hast thee been a worthy man, Dunedan. I leave my greatest treasure in thy charge. It is some comfort to me, to know that she will spend her days with thee.” He kissed Aragorn’s brow. “I have a gift for thee, my son.” He drew a ring from the little finger of his right hand and held it out on his palm. It was made of Mithril, and cunningly fashioned in the form of a braid of four strands. “This belonged to my brother Elros Tar-Minyatur. My mother Elwing had two such rings made, exactly alike, except that our names were engraved inside. We exchanged the rings, out of affection, but what became of the one he wore, that bore my name, I do not know. It is meet that it come to thee, for was he not thy forefather? I have delighted to wear it, and so to remember Elros my brother, he whom I loved so dear.”

Aragorn slid the ring onto the little finger of his right hand, and turned it about, watching the play of lamplight in the braided Truesilver. “Father-in-law, I have no words to say, except to thank thee for this gift, and for all else that thou hast given me.” It seemed he could speak no more, but looked at the Elf-lord out of tear-filled eyes. “Ever hast thou been a father to me. My very heart’s blood I would spend for thee, and yet there is naught that I can give to thee! Only this, my promise that I will love thy daughter to the end of my days, and know that I am the most blessed of men.” Then he bent his knee and took Elrond’s hand to his lips. “Farewell, Master Elrond. May the light and grace of the Valar shine before thy feet.”

Arwen went across the room to a wardrobe and brought forth a gray cloak. Elrond settled it on her shoulders. “Now do you look like the Arwen of old,” he said, “clad thus in shimmering gray.” For she went ever clad now in magnificent velvets and jewels, as befitted the Queen of Gondor, yet when the simple gray cloak covered her splendid gown, she seemed again the slender Elfmaiden of Imladris.

“Do you go to your rest, my love,” she said to Aragorn. “I would take speech with my father alone, this last time. It may be that I shall not see thee on the morrow, for I will not ride hence with thee. Grant me this, that I may wait here for thee on thy return?”

Aragorn kissed her, and said, “Whatsoever thou wishest, Evenstar, is my command.”

Horses were brought for them, and they rode out of the city into the hills beyond. Men at arms followed, to guard them, but came never close. Elrond and Arwen dismounted on a grassy hilltop to the east of the city.

The Moon rose, full and white, spilling his cool light across the grass before their feet, so that they seemed to stand all in silver. Arwen stood in the circle of her father’s arm and leaned her head on his shoulder.

“How many times,” Elrond asked, “have we stood thus, my daughter, and watched as the moon rose over Middle Earth?”

“Countless times,” she murmured. “And yet it is ever a delight to see.”

He kissed her dark hair, that was now bound up in the coif of a married woman. “And how many times have I kissed thee, and looked upon thy face? Yet ever has it been a delight to me, since first thy mother set thee in my hands.”

“Soon wilt thou see my mother,” she said.

“Soon,” he answered. “Soon I will step from the gray ship onto the strand and she will come forward into my arms. Yet she will look past my shoulder, beloved, and seek for thy face. Arwen, Arwen, little did she know she had looked her last on thee!” He moved away from her, and stood looking down at the roofs of Edoras to the west. “My heart longs ever for Celebrian. Yet I would that I could spare her this pain.”

Arwen clung to his arm, looking up into his beloved face. “My father, dear father, you must tell my mother that I am happy! Promise me that you will! I cannot bear that she should fear for me.”

“I will tell her that thou art happy, Arwen. For now thou art happy, art thou not? Now, in the first flower of thy love? Now that thy husband is King among men, and thou art Queen?” He lifted her hands from his arm, and held them both in one of his, while he touched her white face with the other. “Yes, now, in the fullness of thy joy, art thou happy. But even now, beloved, even now thy future has begun. The years will wear away thy joy, and it will come to tears in the end. All that thou hast loved will be gone, and thou wilt end empty and alone! Then wilt thou think of this moment, daughter, and know what sorrow is.”

“Content thee, father, I know that now. Think you that I am heartless?”

“No, I do not think thee heartless. But I could wish thy heart had not turned to Aragorn, if wishing were of any use.”

“But thy wish would deprive me of my love, Father,” she said, pleading.

“And thy love breaks my heart,” he answered.

She bowed her head. “It was not done that thy heart might break, Father. Yet may I not have my own life? Is it the part of a daughter to think first of her father’s heart, when she finds love?”

Elrond answered, his voice thick with pain, “Thine own life? Yet thy mother and I gave thee thy life!” Then he sighed. “Thou wert born of our love, my child. But it is so, I know, that thy life is thine, to live as thee might choose. He hesitated. “If a man can be worthy of thee, then he is worthy. But Arwen Undomiel, Star of the Eldar, of all the Elven maidens that ever graced this Middle Earth, thou wert the fairest and highest, and now art thou lost to us!”

He kissed her brow again. “Yet it is bootless to speak again of these matters, my daughter. Let us put sorrow aside and seek some kind of comfort for each other, at this bitter end.”

He could see her tears in the moonlight, and with the corner of her cloak he wiped them away. “My own precious daughter,” he said, “my beloved child. Dry thy tears, and lift thy face to the night sky. A child of the twilight art thou, and the starry evenings, Undomiel, and the stars shall ever shine upon thee.”

Then she clung to him, pressing her face to his breast. “Father, Father,” she sobbed. “Wilt thou not stay just a little longer? For now that the parting has come, I cannot bear that thou shouldst leave me! Must thou go? Must thou go indeed?”

“I must go, indeed,” he answered. “My time here is done, beloved, and the Sea calls me.” Yet he held her close, and closed his eyes against the pain in his heart. “I gave Estel my brother’s ring, Arwen. But here, here I have something for you. Open thy hand. This chain my mother Elwing wore, next her heart, for it came to her from her father Dior and to him from his mother Luthien herself, who had it from her mother Melian of the Valar. Surely nothing more precious could be found in all the lands, and ever have I worn it. Think thee, daughter, of the hands that have held this thing!”

The simple and slender chain, fashioned plainly from gold and mithril, lay across Arwen’s palm, shining softly in the moonlight. She lifted it to her lips. It seemed she saw those her father had named, standing before her, grave and calm, regarding her with love and compassion. She held it up. “I would have you put it upon me, Father.” She bowed her head, and Elrond fastened the chain around her neck.

“When….when the time is come,” Elrond said, his voice very low, “I would have you bear it with thee, if thou wilt. It will be the very last of the Elder days upon Middle Earth, and so should go to rest with thee.”

“It shall be so,” she whispered. The chain lay light and warm upon her skin, and once again she thought she could see them, those others who had worn it, but now they were receding, fading into the night. Yet she felt, too, that some new strength had come to her with it. For had not each of them, of those who had worn it, had not each of them come to such a moment as this? Surely, what they could bear, she could bear. She drew a deep breath, and said to her father, “Truly this comforts me, Father. Ever, ever hast thou understood me, and borne with me, even to this moment! No daughter was ever so blessed, and I beg that thee wilt carry these words to my Mother as well, for I know that she has loved me right well, and always will.”

It seemed that there was nothing more to be said. They rode back to the Hall, and into the courtyard. At last he embraced her, and kissed her, and said, “Tears of sorrow thou sheddest now, Arwen, but henceforth, until the end, I would that thou should shed only tears of joy. For, remember, my daughter, that even the wise cannot know all ends, and it may be that we shall indeed meet again when the worlds are made anew. Ever shalt thou live in my heart and soul, Undomiel, until the end of all that ever was or ever will be.”

Arwen could not speak, but only looked up at his dear face. He smiled, as he had always smiled when looking upon her. She stood in silence as he walked away into the shadows, and was gone. After a time, when the shadows cast by the bright moon had moved all across the courtyard and the East was lightening with the dawn, she went to her chamber…..