Bearer of Bad Tidings
1. Chapter 1
Elrond stood on the deck of Círdan's white ship, clutching the rail before him and straining his eyes toward the faraway harbor of Avallonë on the shore of Tol Eressëa. It had been but a short time since the first mate had announced that they would be landing soon, and most of the passengers had come up on deck for their first look at the Blessed Isle. The gentle rise and fall of the horizon as the fast ship rode the swells didn't help either Elrond's balance or his queasy stomach. He had not expected the crossing to be so rough, nor that he--the son of Eärendil!--would be such a poor sailor. "Can you make out any faces yet, old friend?"
Beside Elrond, Glorfindel combed his fingers through his wildly blowing blond hair in a futile effort to get it out of his eyes. "No, Elrond, we are still too far from the harbor. But I am sure your lady will be there when we arrive."
"Oh, I have no doubt she will be there. That is not what makes my stomach churn even worse than it has so far. What will she say when I am the only one who walks down the gangplank?"
"The only one?" Glorfindel quirked one eyebrow. "Think you she will not notice her lady mother?" On the other side of the deck and almost at the prow, Galadriel leaned eagerly against the rail as if urging the ship onward, her golden hair and white cloak streaming in the wind. Farther down the deck, Frodo the Ringbearer gazed off into the distance, Mithrandir behind him as if on guard, keeping one hand on the hobbit's shoulder. Old Bilbo Baggins stood at Frodo's side, his frail body heavily wrapped in scarves and cloaks.
Elrond knew the other elf was only trying to ease his nerves, but felt a flash of irritation nonetheless. "Stop it. You know what I mean."
Glorfindel sobered. "Yes, I do. I wish your reunion could be free of the sad tidings you bring. But the joy of being with you again will help Celebrían bear her loss."
Nenglîr leaned backwards slightly from where she stood at the rail on Glorfindel's other side, her arm entwined with his, her black braid and gray cloak whipping around her almost with a life of their own. "It won't be that long before the twins come to join you, good my lord. Then your lady will have at least two of her children with her."
Elrond gave the childless harper a brief smile for her attempt at encouragement, then turned again to face the oncoming shore. Ah, naiveté. But she means well. As if even the presence of two of their children could somehow ease the ache of the eternal absence of the third.
At least he had been there to see the honest love that shone in Arwen's eyes when she told him that she intended to marry Estel. At least he had witnessed their wedding, and had been able to bid them both a final farewell before leaving for the Havens. At least he had had some time to adjust to the bitter understanding that their beloved daughter would never come to join them in the Undying Lands.
But Celebrían would be receiving the news for the first time, and he would have to be the one to wound her heart and then try to heal it again. Could she bear it? He prayed often that dwelling in the West had eased the melancholy that had sent her over Sea before her time, but he would have no way of knowing for sure until they met again. What if even crossing the Sea hadn't helped?
Ai, Lady Nienna, help me. How can I tell her? He leaned his elbows on the rail and rubbed at the rime of salt that had dried on his face. Celebrían, how lovely to see you again. Elladan and Elrohir will be along later--they weren't quite ready to come yet. Arwen? Oh, she won't be joining us--she's married a mortal (the heir of Isildur) and decided to follow him into death. But she does get to be Queen of Gondor and Arnor for awhile first.
He groaned aloud and saw Glorfindel cast an anxious look at him out of the corner of his eye. "Pay no attention to me, old friend. It's just another touch of seasickness; I'll be fine."
"Are you certain? Would you like me to ask Galadriel to come to you?"
"No, no, no. Stop fussing over me, Glorfindel; it begins to chafe. Leave me in peace to wrestle with my troubles." He heard the pettishness of his own words and immediately sought to apologize, turning away from the shore to look into his captain's face and grasp his shoulder. "Please forgive me. My fears and my stomach are leading me a merry dance, but I have no right to take it out on you."
Glorfindel set his own long hand on Elrond's shoulder and grinned. "No offense taken, my lord. Would you like me to fetch you some chamomile tea? 'Twould soothe your mind and stomach both."
Elrond agreed to the tea more to get some time alone than because he really wanted it. Thankfully, Nenglîr made an excuse to go with Glorfindel, and Elrond huddled against the rail, squinting to see if he could make out individual faces in the crowd that seemed to be awaiting their arrival. Not yet.
He wondered briefly what his lady would look like when he met her again. Would she still be as brittle and withdrawn as she had been when she left him so long ago? Or would life on Tol Eressëa have restored her to the self-possessed, radiant woman he had married?
He pictured himself running down the gangplank, lifting her into his arms and twirling her around and around. Elrond! Put me down! She would be laughing, her clear gray eyes aglow, her hair back to the glorious fall of silver he had so loved. I'm so glad to have you with me again, my love!
How wonderful you look! he would tell her. Do you know of the marvelous things that have happened in Arda, Celebrían? Sauron's power has been destroyed, and the heir of Isildur has taken his rightful place as king of Gondor.
And what of the children? she would ask. Are they with you?
No, but they will be coming soon. . .at least the boys will be coming. Arwen is staying in Arda, my love. Let me explain. . .ai, Celebrían, don't weep. . . .
He clenched his hand into a fist and slammed it down on the railing. Arwen, you have torn the heart from my breast and trampled it! How can I do this?
"I know what bothers you, Elrond." Startled, he twisted around to find Galadriel standing behind him. "Like Elros, Arwen has made her choice and it is irrevocable. Now you must make your peace with it and help Celebrían to do the same."
He would have answered, but Galadriel held up her hand. "Arwen has made her choice," she repeated. "Now you have a choice of your own. You can let the pain of losing your daughter destroy your marriage completely, or you can bridge the gap between your wife and you by sharing your grief together."
He tried to deny that there was a gap between them, but she stopped him again. "You and Celebrían have lived five hundred years apart. And at your parting she resented that you could not heal her, and you resented that she left you behind. But now that you are both in Aman, you can help each other bear your sorrows. If you will."
She smiled at him. "Son of Eärendil, Herald of Gil-galad, Lord of Imladris, Bearer of Vilya, Protector of the Heirs of Isildur, Healer and Lore-master, you have accomplished much in your time in Arda. It is time for you to go to your rest, heal yourself and be at peace."
As Galadriel finished speaking, the ship came alive with mariners lowering the great sails and preparing the ship to dock. Elrond excused himself and rushed to the side of the ship closest to the quay, colliding with the rail and overbalancing slightly in his quest for a glimpse of his lady. He was vaguely aware of someone grabbing his cloak as other elves crowded the rail alongside him, but even that awareness vanished as he caught sight of a woman clad all in silver who waited just beyond where the gangplank would touch the dock.
It was Celebrían, and she was laughing, and she was beautiful. And this was the first day of his new life.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.