Sára-lissë - Bittersweet
1. Sára-lissë - Bittersweet
I watched you, as you stood with my brothers by the hearth. The glow from the fire illuminated the black and silver of your destiny, crowning the tree on your breast in flame. Yet what of the fire within, Elessar? You wore at last the livery of your inheritance; did you, as you smiled at some jest of my brother’s, feel the heat, the anticipation, of what other that inheritance had brought you?
What were you thinking, beloved? You lifted your head and our glances met and held. Your eyes were full of the confidence of your victory, the quiet acceptance of your fate and…something else. Love shone with bright fire in that soul I know so well; I felt desire slide through me, warm and enticing, as your grey eyes deepened to shadow, filled with promise.
Yet there was regret also, for the loss we already bore. I returned your gaze, my smile begging you not to think on that, not yet. There would be days aplenty in our future when we would think on how our time was limited, the mortality my pledge had sentenced me to, with you my loving executioner.
Silently, I asked you only to love me, telling you with my eyes that I would change nothing, not then, nor when we came to pay for this love of ours.
Elladan touched your arm, and reluctantly, you glanced away. I turned to look around me, at this world of Men which was now my home.
The room was beautiful, filled with those I loved and those whom I would come to love, lit with the brightness of many lanterns and the warmth of the great fireplace. It was different, that hall, to those I was used to. Its carven pillars soared as did those Imladris, of Lórien, but they were Man-made, rooted in time and solidity, where those of my people reached to the light of distant stars, out and up into endless light.
I felt the pull of both worlds, trying to reconcile them within me. I am Elf-kind and yet, as though a veil had been lifted from my eyes, I had seen with new eyes at the moment our pledge was made, the transient beauty of all that defined the world of Men.
For a moment I stood, disoriented, struggling to reconcile the song of an Elven soul with the mortal voices which now wove through it, creating a new harmony. Whether it would prove more enduring or less than that which I had heard all my life, I did not know, then.
I felt a touch on my shoulder; my father. Turning to look into the beloved face of my father, I wanted to weep. Do not, ada, please. There was no hiding from it, for any of us. I knew you watched us, beloved, wondering what a daughter could say to a father she had deserted, for you.
There was no condemnation in my father’s eyes, only love and sorrow, an exquisite agony. His voice was a gentle brush in my mind It is well, my daughter, it is done. And at the end, my sorrow is not for your love of him, but for my love of you both.
It was a delicate balance, a loss so total it pierced my soul, coloured with love and desire that was its match in depth and strength. A flush warmed my cheeks. My father saw it and the sorrow briefly lifted from his eyes. Ah, Undómiel,he smiled, It is the greatest gift either of you will ever give or receive. It was a candid admission; I looked away, across the room, trying to still my excitement, knowing you still watched me.
My father was still, observing with a wistful smile the myriad emotions which confused and excited me. My beautiful child. He knows well that which he has won, the trust he now holds. Now that you have made your choice, hold nothing back, Undómiel.
I looked back up at him, surprised to find I was trembling in body and soul. My father laid a gentle hand along my cheek, but said no more.
“Arwen!” I turned, startled. My father let his hand fall away and I shivered, already bereft. It was Legolas, his eyes bright, laughter lighting his face. Yet beneath it, I sensed that he understood what had happened and sought to ease my pain. He took my hand, “Come,” he urged, “dance with me!”
They had cleared the tables, covering them once again with cloths of soft black and purest silver; filling them with light refreshments to ease the exertions of the dancers. Legolas escorted me to you; his hand was so slender compared to yours, beloved. He smiled, bowing to you with Elvish elegance, “With your leave, mellon nín?”
You nodded and though you did not smile, I read the warmth in your eyes.
The dance was an Elvish one, ancient and beautiful. I looked at the other dancers; at Faramir, dark hair shining in the light, he would serve you well; at Imrahil, who warmed my heart with his grace though I did not yet know him well; at my grandparents, and my brothers, my faithful defenders and tormentors.
And I tested my choice one last time, giving myself up to the dance, with an Elf, our friend, striving to find the place within me which had rejected my own, for you. We had danced once before, Legolas and I, at his coming of age, and I knew he had lost his heart to me then, my dearest friend.
So, I extended my senses, searching, testing.
Bow… the elegant flick of a wrist, slender fingers held out to me. I placed my hand in his and we turned with the lightest brush, hip to hip. He was elegant perfection, Prince and warrior; his hand cool on mine, his touch warm. He held me with the intimacy of long friendship, and as the measures brought us together, I felt his body against mine. He moved with the unconscious grace of our kind and I looked into his ageless face, seeing as if for the first time, the unearthly beauty of my people.
A step, another, sweeping sideways and round and he gathered me in the embrace the dance dictated, swaying, holding me close for a moment, close enough that I breathed in his scent of spice and sunlight. His body was slim and finely muscled through his silk and velvet tunic and I could feel him breathe, preparing to lift me, turning me in his arms.
My feet touched the floor, I spun away; as the measure dictated, he followed, catching my hand, bringing it to his lips as I traced my hand along cheek and jaw, caressing, lingering. He smiled at me for a moment, expression knowing, laughter in his eyes.
Another turn, a few gliding steps. Again he held me close, his breath soft on my neck, following the pledge of love of which the dance told, telling of the bittersweet pain it can hold.
And so we danced, turning, moving, twisting together and apart, ever moving, as restless as the sea for which he longed. He was golden, shining beauty, flawless elegance, lithe and powerful.
And as I had known it would not, his touch stirred me not at all.
For I had been held in your arms, more urgent than his, against a chest which was broader than his. Even your scent was different; yours was of steel and desire, beloved.
Legolas knew what I did, I felt his laughter; he was neither insulted nor flattered. Our closeness was long understood for what it was, and what it would never be. Once, when we were young, he had thought he loved me, but it had changed into deep and abiding friendship. That night, as we danced for the second time in our lives, I knew that his heart was given to the sea as mine was to you.
He leant close as I passed him, gently teasing, “Regrets, Lady?” He did not need my arched brow, “No,” he murmured, his joy for us lighting his face, “I thought not.”
The dance ended. He folded me close once more, bending his head to mine, “Be happy,” he murmured, his hair soft on my neck. “You could have chosen no better. There is not one of our kind whom you could have loved, not while he is in the world.” His smile was a reflection of the light in his soul, with no shadows to darken it. The longing in his face was not for me.
The music faded, a final shower of notes, their silver fall echoing within me. I looked up and smiled as Legolas once more lifted my fingertips to his mouth in a brief, loving caress. Then his eyes moved past my shoulder, lit with a different love, the love of a brother in arms, a friend to the soul.
I knew you were there, could sense your presence along every nerve-ending. As Legolas placed my hand in yours, felt the intoxicating warmth of your body where you stood close .
“Will you walk with me, Lady?” you asked quietly. I knew what it was you asked, where we would go. I nodded, shivering a little. Anticipation.
We paused by my father. We did not speak, he and I, merely held each other close. My brothers too, embraced me for a brief moment; Elrohir’s mind brimmed with love and a sadness he almost succeeded in hiding, Elladan echoing him.
I had said my farewells, it was time.
You led me to the parapet. The air was cool, silvered by moonlight. It bathed this magnificent city of yours in pearl and white. Our chamber was not far, but you paused, lingering over the sight before us as if in wonder.
After a moment’s silence, you turned to me, sweeping your hand out over the city and the land in which it sat, “Is it enough, Arwen? Is it enough for the price you will pay?”
Surprised at the bitterness in the words, I searched your face. You were watching me and I realised that even then, still you feared my regret, feared it so much you were trembling with the force of it. Smoothing hair away from the circlet on your brow, I spoke the words that would silence doubt forever, “No. It is not. Though I will love this land and its people, my decision was not made for them. It is you who is enough, I ask for nothing more.”
You caught your breath, trapped between joy and remorse, believing me, yet held out of time, struggling with the enormity of what we had done.
And I saw the moment when you ended that struggle. You stepped forward to claim the final part of your destiny and willingly, I surrendered it.
Your mouth was silken fire; your taste of wine and desire. I brought my hands up to rest on your chest as you urged me closer, feeling the silver embroidery under my hands, the softness of sable velvet covering the strength beneath. Your hands were at the small of my back, gently insistent and I gloried in the feel of you.
Slipping my arms around you, I willed my heartbeat not to betray me for just a few moments more. You deepened the kiss, your tongue tracing my lips, asking almost shyly for my consent. I nearly smiled, remembering the awe in which your people already held you; they would have been surprised if they had known how unsure you were at that moment, beloved. Their King, their invincible Elessar, trembling under my hands. You stepped back then, your breathing as unsteady as my own.
There was a light flush on your hard cheekbones as you framed my face in your hands and simply looked at me.
Never had my soul been laid so bare. You had not my experience of the world; yet you had so much more than I. I had measured the passing of the years with the distracted inattention of an immortal, you had measured it in the pain and loss you had borne. I had bent with the tides of time, you had directed their flow.
I wondered who we were then, you and I. Did you truly understand Elves, though you had lived as one of us? I was still Elven, that would not change with the loss of immortality. Could you feel our fading, as I did, though the memory of that dwindling was fading in its turn, replaced with the urgency of mortality, of love and desire?
What was it you searched for in my face that night? You never told me, beloved, but perhaps you sought to impress my face on your memory, on your soul.
You leaned forward once more, your mouth touched mine and I parted my lips, but you did not seek entrance. You moved on, across my jaw line, tiny kisses, barely touching. I shivered as you traced my ear and moved onto my hair.
Then I realised; you were tracing the moon on my face, touching the places where that light touched, following her lead to find the path to me. Your arms fell away until your lips on my face and in my hair were our only point of contact.
You lifted your head, eyes questioning, need held firmly in check. You were fighting yourself, fighting the urge to pull me close, to demand. I could see the control you exerted, feel the gathering storm. It sent a bolt of sheer fire through me.
I did not speak, merely lifted your hand and placed it on my breast, above my heart, so that you could feel it racing, counting down the moments of our life together. You made a sound deep in your throat, your fingers tightening convulsively. For the space of several heartbeats we stood thus; then you took my hand .
You turned from the door to where I stood before the fire, appraising the room. Pleasure lit my face as I saw the touches you had made which made the room feel Elvish; the hangings and tapestries, the intricately designed furniture. I stopped as I saw the painting on the wall near the bed.
Imladris. In spring, when I love it best. I caught my breath, caught between pleasure and pain.
But you did not come to me. Instead, you watched from your place by the door, your body very still. I understood, it was to be my decision. If it distressed me, you would have it removed.
I moved to the depiction of my home. It was exquisite. I did not need to ask the artist, I could see Elrohir’s touch in every brush stroke. Around the edges of the painting were flowing Elvish words and I recognised there the work of my other brother. Tears filled my vision then.
Your voice was quiet, “It is their gift to us. They wished you to have something of your home, from them.” Standing next to me, you pointed to one of the trees in the background “Look, there is more here,” I studied the scene more closely, examining it for a moment before I smiled. Within the delicately picked out foliage of the beech was another picture, tiny and perfect, of Minas Tirith; in another was a depiction of Cerin Amroth and in others, spaced throughout the painting, were places known and dear to us both. I could feel the love my brothers had poured into the work of months. My thanks, to you both, I sent silently, feeling the warmth of their love, sent back through our kin-link.
I moved away from the painting. I would spend many hours before it in the future, but the fire I felt building in my stomach distracted me. Restlessly, I turned, acutely aware of you watching me as you moved to pour wine for us.
You came to me and we touched the rims of our goblets and drink, eyes locked, a gentle smile in the grey depths of yours. I shivered, though not from cold.
I could see the rising passion in those eyes, mingled with awe and a little wonder. I felt it no less than you, for I felt the presence of those Elves who had cleaved to mortal men.
Seeing you then, I at last understood my own choice, understanding what drew Lúthien to Beren and Idril to Tuor, feeling the echo of their joy, their sorrow.
You set down your goblet, taking mine from me and drawing me once more into your arms. I met your lips as you sought my mouth. Your hands moved from my waist, up my spine, making me shudder; up across the bared skin of my shoulders, and slowly down across my breasts until they rested on the fastenings of my gown.
My own hands were at your waist and as you caressed the flesh above my bodice, I moved them around behind you, pressing you close to me, so that our hips were fitted close. I smiled as your eyes widened and you flushed slightly, leaning so that I could whisper in your ear, “I may not have given myself to any, but my people are a sensuous race. The whispers in Lórien are not merely of mallorn leaves, meleth nín.” My kisses traced the column of your throat and you breathed out on a sound which was half sigh, half groan.
Then your eyes darkened and you slowly pressed your hips into mine, using my distraction to take my mouth once more. Your hands went to the fastenings of my gown, but I placed my hand atop yours. “Let me,” I murmured.
Your eyes never left my hands as I moved them down the curves of my body, unlacing my gown .It slipped, fell, pooling around my feet like the waters of the Anduin.
Slowly, you raised your hand to trace the outline of my breast with your fingertips, lightly touching, absorbing the warmth of skin through silk. Then your hand closed over me, yours fingers splayed, your palm over my hardening flesh. I tipped my head back, fire beginning to rise in me. You brought your other hand to lay beside the first, sliding them down once more to hold my hips in hard hands. I could feel the calluses on your fingers; to me they were the softest of caresses.
Your breath fell on my throat, warm and tantalizing, and your mouth was the sweetest torment. I trembled and you moved back to my mouth.
I reached for you and you lifted me, not breaking the deep kiss. The bed was soft silk beneath me, but I was not content to lie still. Now it was my turn to demand. As you set me down, I reached for you, catching you off guard, pushing you back.
Now it was my hands and lips which demanded, touched, caressed. You braced yourself on one arm as I leaned across you, holding you still, my hands deftly sliding your tunic up and off your shoulders. I moved my hands up over warm skin to trace the lean muscles born of long years use of sword and bow. How different you were to an Elf, beloved. You laid back, eyes half-lidded in pleasure, tensing as I explored you.
I watched your mouth open on a helpless gasp of pleasure, your head falling back as I found the hardened points on your chest and rubbed my thumbs across them. I could not resist the strong column of your throat anymore than you had been able to resist mine.
My mind was clouding with need as you lay beneath me, dark hair fanned across the covers. I lowered my lips to the bunched muscles of your shoulders, up your throat once more, capturing your mouth with mine and then down to where my hands had been scant moments before. You convulsed and I revelled in your helplessness, your pleasure at the touch of my hands and mouth.
Lightly, I traced the outline of your eyes and brow, cheekbones and jaw, finally skimming the outline of your mouth once more. You had closed your eyes, savouring my touch, but you opened them, capturing and holding my gaze as you parted your lips and smiled, slowly, sensuously. I shuddered, and you rose to sit beside me, hip to hip.
“Estel,” I whispered, as you lifted my silk shift over my head caressing my skin. I opened my eyes to find you exploring every part of me with loving eyes. At last, meleth nín, at last.
And you began a sweet torture, touching stroking, seducing me until I could no longer think beyond the pure sensation you evoked, the slide of your mouth and hands, the silken caress of your hair. Above me, the planes and angles of your body were lit by torch and fire-light, your skin smooth under my hands. You were a restless song, seeking, ever moving and at the last, finding me.
I reached for you, resting my hands for a moment at your waist, then sliding them lower, caressing. You jerked, and your eyes, drifting smoke, locked on mine. My smile was slow as I stroked you. You shuddered, closing your eyes, your body utterly still. I saw your jaw clench as you held back from groaning your pleasure. But I refused you mercy, and with untutored hands, guided only by instinct and love, I drove you to the limit of your control.
And when you lost that control, you seared my soul with your desire, so that I was drawn to your fire as helplessly as any moth which hurtles to its own destruction. I cared not, for you, my beloved mortal, so transient as now was I, shone brighter than the sun.
You grasped my hands, stilling the torment, shrugging free of your fine leggings. I welcomed the dizzying heat of your skin on mine as you lifted me, every part of my skin burned where it touched yours, leaving me aching, wanting.
I knelt, arms entwined around you, tracing the smoothness of your back, teasing the nape of your neck running gentle fingers up through your hair. You sighed, submitting to my touch, pressing your body close, returning touch for touch.
Hands and mouth never leaving my body you moved behind me, rising up on your knees so that you could caress my shoulders and throat. I could feel how much you wanted me and I mourned a little then for the time we had lost. Time had not seemed important then.
You rested your hands on my belly and I watched, fascinated, breath suspended as you brought them up, slowly, fingers spanning my ribs, moving up until you cupped my breasts in your warrior’s hands, stroking, caressing, until I could not be still under that loving, tormenting touch.
Turning, I dug my fingers into the satin warmth of you shoulders and pulled you close. You murmured lovingly as you responded to my demand. Now, I can wait no longer.
I settled back and your hard body covered mine. I was drowning in warmth and light, shivering with my love for you and the fire you had set in my blood, “Ah, meleth nín, please…….”
I felt you move, felt you fit your body to mine and you eased us both into the depths of a fire which still burns in my blood, beloved. I watched you, held your eyes as you slowly fulfilled our passion, until we were joined so completely I could you not tell where we were not entwined. For a moment you waited, and then you leaned down, kissed me so softly I barely felt the tears on your lashes. Then you moved, languorously flexing your hips so that I could feel the slide of flesh and heat. I held your shoulders, trying to prevent you leaving me, but you did not. For as I felt that we could not remain joined, you reversed your movement and began that slow sweet slide again. I closed my eyes, hands still digging into the yielding warmth of your shoulders, I met your thrust, wanting you closer and heard you groan,
“Arwen, meleth nín……”
You dropped your head to trail your lips up my throat, your mouth a searing heat against my skin, before you took my mouth in a kiss which robbed me of breath, claiming me as yours for all the time we were given, for all time. I am your wife, Estel, Elessar.
You linked your fingers with mine, lifting our clasped hands so that they tangled in my hair on the pillow and I felt the exquisite pressure increase as you pushed deeper, the fires rising ever higher. I matched you, my mind empty of all but you.
I felt the change, the dizzying pleasure began to spiral up, higher, ever higher, reaching, aching with the need for fulfilment and for it to never end. You groaned again, your breathing ragged, your hands clenched harder in mine. I reached up, catching your mouth as I felt the pleasure burst out and up, Beloved, we are one! You cried out and I felt my body slip free of control or comprehension. I arched up, utterly shocked at the overwhelming ecstasy, which drove me me out of myself.
You covered my mouth with yours, gasping and I felt your body spasm within mine, shuddering, hands gripping mine with a pain that was pleasure.
We were not bound to Arda then, you and I beloved, we walked among the stars, driven by love and ecstasy beyond the boundaries of our existence. We drifted together, bodies and souls fused, hearts and minds enclosed each within the other.
When I opened my eyes, you still watched me and I smiled, reaching a shaking hand to your jaw. You turned your head to softly kiss my palm.,“You are my life,” I murmured, overwhelmed.
“As you are mine. I love you, Arwen, so much…..always, beloved.”
I sat within the darkened chamber, the memory as clear in my mind now as in that moment.
Yet it was without heat, now. You were gone, as cold as the stone beneath which you lay. I did not weep, I could not. I had not wept since your hand had slipped from mine as I knelt at your bedside and your grey eyes had clouded with the emptiness of death.
Perhaps death would be warm, beloved? I would know soon enough. But I was cold now and the world was dark.
I rose, not looking back at the bed, nor at the painting of Imladris. They did not exist. Nothing existed, not now. I did not feel pain then. For pain for my loss would have been feeling, and I felt nothing. I watched myself leave the chamber, move to the parapet.
But for a few new buildings, pearl and white in the silver light of a moon as bright as it had been that first night, the city looked the same. I felt the dull ache of tears unshed.
Where were you, Estel, beloved? I could not find you. And I was so cold under that silver light, so very cold after your warmth. Never had I felt the cold, until you had gone.
Restlessly, I moved back to our chamber, but I knew I could not stay. You were not there as you were not in that cold chamber beneath the citadel. But where? On impulse, I left the dark chamber and set out to find you.
Were you here? Or were you far away, in Imladris perhaps? I felt a sudden ache for the home of my birth. My brothers dwelt there now, and my grandfather but soon, though they had not said it, they would leave also.
After I was dead.
I walked down shadowed corridors, the black and silver of my trailing gown sending echoing whispers into the silence. What was I doing, searching for you in places I knew I would not find you? But I could not find you in my heart, Estel, you were locked too deep.
Hours I wandered, in sitting rooms, dining rooms, and empty endless corridors. I searched the gardens, the walls, the audience chambers.
You were not there as I knew you would not be, and all was so cold, beloved, so dark.
Once, I found myself at the door to our son’s chamber. So like you, our beautiful son, and yet not like, for in his face as I gazed silently down at him was the fine-boned grace of his Elven heritage.
Elves. Immortals. I told you once that I would not regret it, and I did not, not even as I saw the traces of the life I had given up for you in the face of our son. You had been worth this loss. Eldarion and our daughters were worth it. With a kiss for our grieving son, I silently left the chamber.
There was one place more I had not looked; I went toward it now on reluctant feet.
As I entered the hall, it too, was shadowed and silent. I stood for a moment, shivering. I remembered how this room had been the night of our wedding, filled with light and life, music, and the laughter of those who had been delivered from death by your arrival. It was only I to whom you had brought death as a gift and I had embraced it willingly. Now had come the time to pay for that gift. Yet still, you were not here. I turned on a sigh of regret, and then I heard it.
He spoke so softly that I thought my hearing had deceived me. Then a shadow, deeper than those which had concealed him while I had stood there, lost in memory, detached itself from the further wall.
Legolas. Who else could it have been?
My father was gone, my brothers had each other to turn to, Legolas and I were alone. Gimli, for all his love for Legolas could not for this one time fulfil the role his friend needed. .
I looked at his face as he walked through the patches of moonlight from the high windows. Utterly lost, as I was and searching, as I was, for you. It had led both of us here, for reasons I did not know and did not ask.
I held out my hand, he took it and pulled me close, bending his head to mine. I rested my cheek on his black velvet clad chest as his arms came up around me. He was warm, beloved, at least he was warm. It brought a little comfort.
“I cannot find him, Legolas,” I whispered.
“I know,” he said softly, “ I too, have not known where to look.” Legolas rested his cheek on my hair. He still smelled of spice and sunlight.
We stayed thus for a long time, beloved, in that pale light, searching for you, reaching for you with the force of our love, but still you eluded us. Time flew past unheeded, so little time now left to either of us. We might have stood there forever, I do not know.
Then Legolas stirred. I heard his voice, so quiet the words barely stirred my hair, “Dance with me,” he murmured.
I raised my head to look at him. His eyes were shadowed, his hair loose in an Elven gesture of mourning. I could feel his loss, desperate for expression, yet held in check. I watched him, wondering, seeing again the night of my wedding. Slowly, as if I dreamed, I put my hand in his as he held it out to me.
“There is no music,” I whispered.
“There is, listen…”
And Legolas softly began to sing the music to the Elven dance, I gave myself up to this dance with an Elf, our friend, and I strove to find the place within me where I knew you were still, beloved. We had danced twice before, Legolas and I, at his coming of age and at my wedding. His heart had been given to the sea then, as mine had been given to you. He was grace and elegance, still., his hand cool in mine, his touch warm.
Warmth. I felt it flicker along my nerves.
He held me with the intimacy of long friendship and I felt his warrior’s body against mine. He was perfection, as he had been then, lost, lonely perfection, seeking you, beloved, as was I. He moved with the grace of our kind and I looked into his ageless face, seeing the unearthly beauty of our race and the unutterable sadness of the loss which the Elves ever feel, more keen now than ever. He was golden fire, beautiful, powerful. And lost, as was I, bereft.
Where are you, beloved, where?
I extended my senses, seeking.
Bow…the elegant flick of a wrist and a hand held out to me.
Light, at the edges of my vision, warmth and golden light. A room filled with Men and Elves.
I placed my hand in his and we turned with the lightest brush, hip to slender hip.
My father, my brothers.
A step, another, sweeping sideways and round.
The music in his voice, I could hear the musicians as they played, in his voice.
He gathered me in the embrace the dance dictated, swaying, holding me close for a moment, close enough that I breathed in his scent.
Steel. Not spice and sunlight, but steel and desire. Not Legolas. Estel?
His body was slim and finely muscled through his tunic of mourning black and I could feel him breathe preparing to lift me.
Between the worlds, mortal and immortal, death and life, Aragorn and Legolas. He is here, beloved, and through him, you are here.
The room was filling with light. My feet touched the floor and I spun away.
Over there, by the fireplace, I can almost see…
He followed, catching my hand, bringing it to his lips as I traced my hand along cheek and jaw, caressing, lingering.
Under my hand was smooth skin, in my mind was a jaw darkened with a suggestion of shadow.
He smiled at me for a moment, his expression not knowing this time, but wondering, and I knew he too could feel you there, reflected in my eyes as I danced.
Gentle laughter came to his eyes, and there was a hint of the grey of Númenor in their depths.
Another turn, a few gliding steps. Again he held me close, breath soft on my neck, following the following the pledge of love of which the dance told, telling of the bittersweet pain it can hold.
His heart is given to the sea, as mine is given to you, as yours is to me, and through him you are here, beloved, bringing us both back to warmth and light, back to you.
And as we danced, Legolas and I, you and I, turning, moving, twisting together and apart, ever moving, as restless as the sea for which he longed and which he at last would seek. In that moment, as ever, he was utter perfection, graceful, elegant, powerful.
You are immortal also, beloved, not as he is, not as an Elf, but within my soul, within my love. The scent, not of spice and sunlight but of steel and desire once more. The room is flooded with light and I feel you, feel you at last, here with me, as he is here with me. Through him, I have found you and there is warmth and the love I have known is not gone.
“Regrets, mellon nín?” He was whispering, knowing the answer as he had known it then, not needing my arched brow, “No,” he murmured, bittersweet joy lighting his face, “I thought not.”
He folded me close once more and it was your arms I sank into, in the embrace of the lovers the dance portrayed. He bent in his head to mine, “You have been happy,” he murmured. His hair was a soft warmth on my neck and he said quietly, “You could have chosen no better. There was not one of our kind whom you could have loved, not while he was in the world.” Legolas’s smile was a reflection of the light in his soul and there were now no shadows of desperate seeking to darken it as, watching me, he softly sang the last few notes, scattering them about me in a shimmering fall.
His voice ceased, the music ended.
You were here with us, I could see you at his shoulder. Legolas felt it also; he looked at me, wonder and unutterable sorrow shining with the brilliance of the stars in his eyes; and when he sought my mouth, it was for the sheer joy that we had found you at last.
I lifted my face to his, and it was your lips I felt, warm on mine, “I am here,” you whispered, “I love you, Arwen, so much… always, beloved”
To Legolas, I heard you murmur, “Farewell, gwador, and my thanks…..”
A final kiss, a lingering touch, of love and of loss, a farewell to and from us both; I felt your love fill me, his friendship and love bear me up.
Legolas raised his head and smiled, the grief in his eyes was still there but the helplessness and fear was gone. I returned his smile, at peace. We had found you; warmth and light had returned, you were with us.
Legolas gathered me close again and I rested my head on the soft warmth covering his chest once more. As before, we stood silent for what could have been until the ending of the world. I could feel his heart under my cheek, that heart that for but a moment had beat as your own, entwined with mine. And while it still beat, you would still be with me, and I with you.
“When will you leave?” the words were soft, felt rather than heard.
“Soon, a few weeks at most. And you?”
“Soon,” he murmured. “The ship is built, the crew is prepared.”
I smiled and felt him do the same, his mouth in my hair. It was done. At last, we could let go.
I held him a moment longer and then as one, we stepped back. I raised a hand to his face, my fingers lingering at his mouth, “My thanks, mellon nín,”
“Go,” he said gently, “He is waiting.”
My hand fell away, and I turned, into the light, towards you.
I did not look back.
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.