In The End
1. In The End
* I've improvised a bit as to what the other elves did in the fourth age. Seems unlikely that for instance one so old as Celeborn would stay about indefinitely, what with the ages and the decay weighing on his shoulders (or so Tolkien says).
* I owe a serious bit of the characterisation to Isabeau of Greenlea – I've just finished reading her excellent 'Captain my Captain', and more of her version of Elladan and Elrohir stayed with me than I thought.
* I never could imagine that Arwen died alone. If Legolas didn't stay about, surely her brothers would be there?
* This idea started kicking about just last night. I never could resist insistent muses. ]
We hold to our oaths.
A simple enough statement, and all who have ever known us know it to be true. If the sons of Elrond swear that they will do something, one can rest assured that they will.
I look upon my twin, who is lying on his side, staring raptly into the fire. His eyes are shining with moisture, and I feel his grief and despair through our twin-shared bond. Close to our camp is the cairn of our sister, and though we have built it for her, somehow today its presence weighs the heavier on our minds.
Her son has died.
Eldarion had a long and prosper life, and though he was fond of us, he never needed our protection as Estel did long ago. But we stayed, for that was what our beloved sister had asked before she died of grief.
And we swore that in her sons' lifetime, we would rid Middle Earth of orcs.
I kindle the fire, mournfully observing that the wood I use is of a fallen mallorn tree. Grandmother gone, this land can no longer be called Laurelindórenan, for a valley of singing gold it ceased to be long ago. Having seen it in its full glory, it pains me to see it as such a desolate place, full of withering trees.
Arwen died here, and we were with her. No grief has ever cut more sharply than the moment I saw her pained eyes close. Though we have lost before, we have hope of seeing those lost again. Mother went West, and should we chose to go West too, she will be there when we arrive. All the friends and allies who died over the years have gone to the halls of Mandos, from where they will eventually be released.
But Arwen choose to become mortal, and has gone to a place the elves know not, and until the very end of Arda we will not see her again, and maybe not even then.
The loss of Estel cut us sharply, but our foster brother was a human and we had always known we would loose him one day. But Arwen had lived, laughed, grieved and loved with us for near 3000 years, and in the end I found myself angry with Estel for what he had done to her and us.
That was never expressed though, for even if I had been able to express emotions well, I would never have burdened my foster brother with my grief. He must have known, and living with that knowledge cannot have been easy. Arwen, even while she wept, told us not to blame him. It had been her choice in the end, and not one she regretted.
She had also called us both dolts for swearing that we would free Middle Earth of orcs, saying that it would soon turn into a burden. And in the end, in the typical way of sisters everywhere, it turns out she was right.
Our oath is weighing down on us now, and we are wearied by time and grief and decay. And though I have been able to ignore it for a time, I know it is burdening my more empathetic twin.
I sit down with Elladan, gently stroking his dark hair. After a time I feel how he relaxes, the grief still swirling through him, but less desperate now.
/ Ròh? / His voice sounds in my head, soft and sad.
/ Yes, brother? /
/ Shall we go into the West? /
I am silent for a long time.
When he left, Father urged us to sail too, but we remained - mainly for our sister, but also because we were not yet tired of Middle Earth. Grandfather stayed too, and Thranduil of Mirkwood, and Legolas, and a few others.
All of them have sailed now. Legolas and Gimli - dear friends since the war of the Ring - departed after Estel died. They would have stayed for Arwen, but she sent them away.
Grandfather and Thranduil stayed longer in their new kingdom, but some fifty years ago they also wearied of the Ages, and sailed with the last of their people.
I think we are the last. Men have taken over the world; before long they will find structures in Imladris and Lorien, and wonder what strange creatures made them. Before long the Firstborn will be forgotten, except maybe in legends.
/ We took an oath, Elladan, / I answer my twin finally. He tenses slightly.
We swore to rid Middle Earth of orcs; the final extinction of those foul creatures to be the ultimate revenge for what was done to Mother. We hunted in Ithillien, in Ephel Dúath, in Mirkwood, and in Eregion. We chased orcs in the North and slew them in the mountain passes.
But there are ever more.
/ So did Feanor, and look what came of him, / he tells me wryly. / Perhaps we were unwise to take that oath. /
I slide down next to him, my hand resting against the back of his head.
/ You are wearied by Middle Earth? / I ask, and he nods.
/ Since some time, Ròh. All that surrounds us now is death and decay. The humans don't remember us, the land whispers of their ploughs and axes. We hunt orcs, but more still breed, and we have no refuge like we used to.../
I think back to Imladris in it heydays, always a welcoming place, and Lothlorien, with our grandmother in all her might. I remember warm welcomes to Gondor, and long talks with Cirdan. I now realise that I should dearly like to speak with Father again, and embrace Mother finally, and exchange hunting stories with Glorfindel, and greet Erestor, and sing with Gildor and Sulnir and Erminya, and have archery matches with Haldir and Legolas.
Where we used to have a refuge to warm our hearts and rest our minds after a long campaign of hunting orcs, of late the desolation has stayed with us, weighing heavy on our minds. The sun seems tarnished as before a great storm, and the stars have waned over the years.
And I slowly feel how I've began to accept that Middle Earth is now of the second-born, and that maybe, just maybe, it is time give up our stakes.
/ Then we shall go, / I say finally. It pains me to feel his relief, for that tells me he worried that I should want to stay, to keep him here.
Elladan rolls over to look at me and grasps my hand, twining our fingers. I feel how a weight slides off his shoulders.
/ I am glad, Elrohir, / he murmurs in my head. / I am glad that you can stop avenging Mother now. /
I lay my other hand on our clasped fingers, and he does the same. We look at each other for a long time. My eyes grow moist from the pain and relief of this final decision. We will sail, and take our memories with us.
And perhaps, in time, I can become whole again - more than only an orc hunter.
Perhaps I can learn to sing again, sing with my mind empty and my heart full of the melody. Perhaps I can play harp as I once did. Perhaps I will remember how to ride a horse with nothing more than appreciation for the wind in my hair, and no consideration of chase.
Perhaps I can learn to tell stories like Glorfindel can, tales so vivid that the listener imagines himself present. Perhaps Grandmother can help me to learn to tend plants and trees, nourishing their growth for no other reason that to see them lush and green.
I want to look at the sunset without the ingrained worry that orcs will soon roam about. I want my concerns to be about if Father knows it was me who let the cat into his robes closet.
Perhaps I can learn to sculpt as Gimli enjoyed doing, though I fear he may have passed away by now and will not be able to teach me. But from the hands of an old, bent dwarf came things of a surpassing beauty, and I wish nothing more than to be able to bring about beauty; to create instead of kill. To dance again, rather than fight. To remember with love rather than with bitter grief.
And then maybe in the end I will become whole; an elf as they were meant to be.
Elladan smiles softly at me, following my trail of thoughts.
/ I knew you were not yet ready, so I waited, / he says gently in my mind.
It is true that I was of the two of us the fiercest hunter. Perhaps because I felt I had little other use. I can see my own fanatism in a different, clearer light now.
/ Thank you for your patience, / I reply softly. / It was never my intention to keep you here. /
/ I stayed on my own account, Ròh, / Elladan replies. / I knew you were not yet done with your demons, and I stayed here because you needed me. /
I say nothing to that, but he knows my silent gratefulness
/ Shall we make something for our sisters' grave before we leave? / I suggest after a time, feeling pain at the thought that the last who retain the memory of Arwen, daughter of Elrond, will depart.
/ Yes, / he answers, and I feel his grief. / Yes, we will do that tomorrow. /
Finally we fall asleep, our clasped hands between us.
The next day we set about making a memorial. I want to use stone, as lasting a thing as can be found in this world, and spend the morning selecting one from the bedding of Limloth. When I return, Elladan has found and planted some small plants. I show him the great flat riverstone, and he nods.
"I have found some firestone to use for engraving. What shall we write?"
That evening I sit next to the grave for a time, trying to process that I will not see this place again. Upon the cairn, amidst tentatively growing plants, lies a washed river stone. In Quenya can be read: 'Here lies Arwen of Imladris. Remembered with great love'.
We had a long debate about what to write on it. Elladan wished to write all her names on it, and also her titles as queen, but I argued that Queen Arwen would be remembered in the history scrolls of Gondor. But memories of our sister, Arwen Udomiel of Imladris, will be forever gone with our departure. Finally he yielded to the sense that the stone was not large enough to hold all her names.
Finally I rise, and look down upon the grave one last time.
"I hope you are with Estel again, 'wen," I say softly. "and I hope I will see you again in the end."
Elladan waits for me a little while away, our packs and bows ready.
Two hunters wearied of the chase, grief shining in our eyes. I clasp my brothers' forearm, and he mine, and together we begin climbing the path that will take us to the Caradhras pass, then to Eregion, and finally to the havens.
Freed of our burden, we turn West, toward healing.
Feedback: I will love it and hug it and hold it and kiss it and squeeze it and pet it and call it George.
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.