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Where Love Is: 1. Prologue
There were many books in the house of Elrond, and many libraries, and Arwen Undómiel made no pretense of knowing them all. As soon as she was sure she had found the very last repository of manuscripts in Imladris, a new shelf of books would materialize (having been on loan for the past few hundred years), or a door that she had always thought led to a broom closet would turn out to house a five-hundred volume collection of agricultural records.
There was one library, however, of which Arwen had always known, and which no one could mistake for a broom closet: her father's private library. It resided in an innocuous-looking wooden box in his study and contained a series of large, aged leather envelopes, some narrow, others heavy with their contents. Her father had shown them to her as soon as she was old enough to know a little history and careful enough to be trusted with them, and even at that young age, the library's contents had astounded her.
Each envelope contained a new treasure: a record book of the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, before its fall--a scroll in a strange tongue, which her father told her was a version of the story of Aldarion and Erendis, written down by the daughter of one of Tar-Ancalimë's handmaidens--a collection of poetry, with illuminated letters and illustrations, brought from the Blessed Realm itself. Her father watched as she paged through the ancient documents, answering her questions and imploring her to be gentle--though the books had been carefully preserved, they were still fragile.
She had smiled at his warnings as she lifted yet another manuscript out of its envelope. This one was a slender volume, and showed its age as none of the others had: its pages were very yellowed and in some places torn, its binding was altogether gone, and it had no cover. On the first page, in faded letters, was a brief note, written in a bold hand: This book was given to me by--
"Not that one," said her father suddenly.
She looked up at him, surprised. "I promise to be careful with it," she said.
"I am sure that you would be. But it is not a book for a child. You may read it when you are older, if you like."
Her father rarely forbade her to do things, and so his request took on a certain gravity in Arwen's young mind. Besides, there was a strange sorrowful look on his face, which made her think that maybe she did not want to read this book. "All right," she said, and returned it to its envelope. Her father took it and put it back into the box, and they spoke of it no more.
After that, Arwen forgot about the book. There were more interesting things to wonder about, like what her mother would bring back for her from that season's journey to Lórien, and how best to grow irises, and how her brothers could guess at the weather from the wind. It was, in fact, not until nearly three thousand years had passed, when ill tidings from the East had recalled her to Imladris and a rainy morning found her wondering on such secrets of the world, that she remembered the old library at all, and wondered at the mystery contained within the almost-forgotten memory. What could have been in that book, that her father would not have her read it?
Her curiosity sparked, she finished the morning's weaving and passed through the house to her father's study. He was not there, and after some rummaging, she located the drawer where the old manuscripts resided. The storage box had been changed for a new one, but it was of the same construction, and within lay the familiar envelopes, only a little worse for wear considering the years. She went through them carefully, and at last located the narrow book, ancient and coverless, in its leather wrapping.
She held it in her hands for a while, thinking of the things that had changed since last she had seen it. Of how she had changed. She was older, of course, a tall woman in long skirts, self-possessed, graver perhaps. Much wiser, at any rate, in the ways of the world. Beautiful, people said. Motherless.
And now, betrothed, to Aragorn, bound up in a love that would lead her to a strange doom, whichever way fortune fell.
She took the envelope and went to her chambers, where the light of a wide window and a modicum of privacy might be afforded to her. Taking a seat beside the open window, listening to the sound of the rain falling upon the gardens and the noise of the surging Bruinen beyond, she felt an eagerness rise up within her. She opened the envelope and took out the book. The bold, assured hand of the first page lay before her. She wondered what hand had traced those words, and where fate had led it. Finally, she stopped wondering, and, leaning back in her chair, began to read.
This book was given to me by Hírvegil, steward of Hithlum, who safeguarded it for his king, that it might be given to me in the event of his death. I confirm that it is in the hand of Findekáno son of Nolofinwë, who in Middle-earth was called Fingon, and that all it says is the truth.
To its contents, I have only one thing to add:
I loved him.
At the bottom of the page was signed the name of the eldest son of Fëanor.
She paused for a while, thinking on these words and what they might signify.
Then she turned the page.
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