21. It seems our way to seek...
This one is for ShinElrond, who wouldn't let me dedicate this to her without mentioning that she places me on a pedestal for worship and prays to me nightly to guide her muse…
She's the one who talks me through depressive nights and reads my ficcies when I'm down and knows all my Freudian typos… (including: I'm going to lay with Gil now…) (I thought I'd share that with the rest of you ;)))
And she happens to be my fic-goddess in return, my heir-apparent when I mysteriously disappear and leave my ficcies unfinished…
And I want to thank all of you who have so faithfully reviewed for all those chapters, because a single review can make my day, you know? ;)
And at times, when Eärendil returning drew near again to Arda, she would fly to meet him, even as she had flown long ago, when she was rescued from the sea. Then the far-sighted among the Elves that dwelt in the Lonely Isle would see her like a white bird, shining, rose-stained in the sunset, as she soared in joy to greet the coming of Vingilot to haven.
The Silmarillion, JRR Tolkien
Chapter 21 It seems our way to seek…
'The Valar bid the Wise of Arda welcome…' The words echoed towards them in the large halls of stone, light falling in from above, the dome partially constructed of glass, the true craftsmanship of those in Aman apparent everywhere one looked.
His eyes were searching, but not to admire the impressive structure. Elrond Peredhil was searching for a person.
The Lady caught his gaze, and he thought he saw a glimpse of amusement flashing across her face, though it was difficult to judge due to her shining white aura.
'Master Elrond, I fear you shall not find the one for whom you search. Your Lady resides in the Gardens of Lórien as she has from the beginning. Though your arrival was not unexpected, she knows not of your coming as yet. She shall be informed after you have visited the Ring of Doom, tomorrow. If it is your wish, you can travel to her then.'
Elrond hid his disappointment, and, keeping his face emotionless, bowed.
'If you say it shall be so, my Lady.'
Stepping back, he watched Galadriel being greeted by her kin, his kin too, in many ways, the crowd of Elves welcoming her within their midst, a long lost child.
He smiled. Very strange to consider she was a daughter too…
Then, suddenly, there was a face that attracted his attention. He had expected to find it, but was still taken unaware.
For a short moment, he thought he recognised his brother, but at once, his mind told him this could not be.
He was surprised, stunned. So the image had been stored in his mind somewhere…
Recognising her own eyes, identical dark hair, the Elven Lady, too, seemed taken aback, as she neared him. Shaking her head, she was not able to find many words.
In her face he could distinguish his sons' features, well-known eyes, and grey met grey.
With a cautious gesture, she raised her hand and touched his face, looking at him for a long while. At first, her mind was closed to him, but very slowly the barriers between them were let down. There were memories, reminiscences he thought lost, which apparently had been stored somewhere within the boundaries of his mind after all. His first smile, first steps… His father…
Then she extended her arms to him, and, for the first time in over six and a half millennia, Elrond fled into his mother's arms, resting his head on her shoulder, feeling her hands pressing him against her, her heart as glad as his.
I missed you, naneth*…
And I you, mell iôn-nîn*…
Upon withdrawing, she took his face in her hands, tears welling in her eyes.
'You… A mirror image of your father…'
Elrond smiled, curiously studying her face. Many times, especially after becoming a father himself, had he considered how strongly she must have felt about losing them, when Elros and he had been captured. That, where they, being too young, had remembered little of her, she must have gone through many stages of despair knowing she would not be able to see them again until now… Was never to see Elros again…
'And how is my father?' He asked gently.
'He is well, now that his son has returned to him.' A voice, soft as his own, not as loud and low as he had often imagined it, sounded from behind, making Elrond turn, to find himself confronted with an Elf-man, a familiar radiance in his face.
Eärendil stood motionless, as Elrond returned his gaze. His attire was simple, but there was no mistake of his identity, the intricate embroidery of his device on his tunic, twelve beams of light radiating from a centred star, silver on blue.
Then he extended a hand, and Elrond caught it without hesitation, letting himself be pulled into a tight-locked embrace. He smelled a whisk of air and sea, and remembered his childhood, remembered small arms about his father's neck…
Car-ú gwanno, ada.
His father had smiled down on him.
Im gerin-an, tithen-nîn, Im gwesta-an teli-ad…
But he had never returned…
Shaking his head, Eärendil released him, placing a hand on his shoulder.
'Let us walk a little, for it is eventful here, and we have only little time at present… I know you have many questions, for me, and for your mother…'
Leaving the dome, and the halls, Eärendil motioned his son towards a quiet stretch of garden, and Elrond walked quietly beside the two people, Elwing having caught her husband's arm.
His father looked at him intently.
'We know you must have blamed us for leaving you…'
Elwing shook her head.
'We wanted to return, Elrond, we wished to, but it was not allowed.'
Elrond shook his head, not able to speak, his voice locked inside his chest.
When I was younger, I might have been angry with you, but no more… Not since I was a child…
Both the Elves seemed amazed when he shared the words.
Elwing looked at him, tears in her eyes, and caught his arm.
I have always feared you harboured strong feelings against me… Against us… And yet now, I wonder how I could have, for you are wise Master Elrond, of whom the tales speak so highly…
'I have tales?' Elrond queried, with a disbelieving smile.
Eärendil nodded proudly.
'Though many are songs of love and admiration, and have originated in the gardens of Lórien…'
Elrond bowed his head, but only for a moment, before looking at his father again.
'Have you seen Celebrían?'
'Not in person…' Eärendil started, but Elwing cut in.
'I saw her, when she first arrived… But not afterwards… It is told she does not wish to leave the gardens before you have returned, and, also, that she is well acquainted with the Lady Estë.'
'But do you know if she is in good health?'
Eärendil narrowed his eyes.
'Perhaps we are not the right people to ask… Our lives are not as intertwined with the rest of Aman as others are… It would be better to speak with one of the High-princes, specifically…'
'Hush, herven… You can only stay a little while, and anyone can tell him of the High-princes… Pray tell, Elrond, how did you leave our grandchildren?'
With a weak smile, Elrond, gave a nod.
'I left them well… I shall ask the Valar for a stay for Elladan and Elrohir until they deem it is their time to decide… And Arwen is joyful… She chose the path onto which her heart guided her.'
'I shall watch over them all, my son… But I must go now… As I said, we have little time now…' With a tender kiss on his wife's forehead, he took his leave of Elrond with a tight embrace.
Elwing caught Elrond's arm as they watched the once Lord of Arvenien leave their presence and the gardens.
His mother smiled.
'He would come home, after one of his long journeys beyond the confines of the world, and he would tell me of you and Elros… He told me what he saw happening to you…' She smiled comfortingly as Elrond bowed his head. 'It seems our way to seek those whom we love beyond all else, every so often using desperate measures, Elrond… Some we find, others we loose… And some return to us after many years.'
They were all around him, and yet they were not. He could hear their voices, but their bodies were almost shadows, not tangible, but seemingly very real. There were questions, but he did not need to answer, for there was already an answer before he could speak.
He had been awake early this morning, strangely nervous as he sat waiting in the window, his mother never far from his side. He had entered the Ring of Doom alone, and at first had seemed alone, until the voices had started.
It seemed a discussion, and Elrond did not understand why indeed his presence had been required. There seemed to be no need of him.
They spoke of Sirion, of the War of Wrath, of his time at Lindon, Eregion, Imladris, the Last Alliance, and then the many years after. There were questions about trivial choices he had made, long ago, enquiries into larger ones.
Why did you follow Gil-galad? Is there a reason you could not convince Isildur of disposing of the Ring?
He listened carefully, but at times he lost a thread of conversation, because all went fast, the tempo never wavering.
Not that he minded. The sooner this was over, the earlier he would be on his way. To the Gardens of Lórien.
Because there was no doubt in his mind he would be admitted… Surely they could not refuse him now? The Lady herself had said as much.
You ask for a postponement in your sons choice, Master Elrond?
The voices fell silent at once, and Elrond raised his head, his eyes catching those of a somewhat solid form, which had somehow appeared out of nothingness, and who seemed to be intently watching him, waiting.
He nodded slowly.
'They ask for a delay through me, my Lord, for they wish to remain a while in Middle-earth yet.'
The form took some steps, paces that did not reverberate.
Is this connected to the fate of their sister?
Elrond nodded, he had had enough time to consider it.
'I suspect this to be so.'
Do they realise that, were we to deny this request, they would have to remain?
'They do, my Lord.'
The form dissolved and seemed to take his place among the others.
The request is granted, may it be relayed to those whom it concerns.
Elrond wondered how this was to happen, but the voices began conferring again, and he assumed it was not his affair.
The Elfling, as he was affectionately called, for he was young of years and had only recently reached bodily maturity, stood restlessly waiting outside, walking to and fro, as the others observed him with amusement.
'Sit down, you will need your strength if you are to travel to Lórien swiftly.'
'I know…' He hurled the words in return, placing his hands behind his back, shrugging aside his travelling cloak. 'But I wish to see him, you understand?'
The messengers laughed amongst themselves. He was in many respects their senior, both in rank and experience, but his youngish appearance and his eager ways were the source of much hilarity.
'One should think you would have learned patience with the Lord Námo*… And did your father not bid you go to Lórien immediately?'
The Elfling raised an eyebrow.
'How am I to relay this message to the Lady Celebrían if I have not seen her husband myself? Ascertained his well-being? She does not appreciate second-hand knowledge.'
'What will you say to him, I wonder?' Someone asked, but the Elfling shrugged.
'I know not… I intend to decide upon reaching the moment.'
The short exchange had shook him out of watchfulness and when the doors opened behind him, the former Lord of Imladris was past him before he had even noticed. Not a glance, not anything as Master Elrond joined the Lady Elwing, whose eyes posed a question to the speechless young Elf-lord.
Do you wish to speak with him?
The Elfling slowly shook his head, and, without looking at the others, checked the fastenings of his cloak and turned, his quick Elvish footsteps not even slightly sounding on the marble floors.
Outside, an attendant handed him his horse, and he thoughtlessly patted the animal on the forehead, as he walked away with it by the reign.
'He does not remember me, Aeglos…' He whispered softly. 'But it is not very strange… He never knew me when I was younger… Though I do not think I am much different…'
Mounting effortlessly, he spurred the horse and rode off, to do the errantry he had originally been sent out to do.
He knew that if he rode swiftly, his delay might not even be noticed. He would be crossing into the northern part of Oromë's woods before tomorrow evening, and he would rest by nightfall. He would need the entire next day to clear the woods, but if he did not rest for the night, the Gardens would be reachable before dusk the next evening. Three days, he considered. Just as long as my father calculated it would take.
Though a larger party would need at least six.
Celebrían looked up from the face of one of Estë's Ladies, as an attendant neared the group.
'Lady Celebrían? A messenger from Máhanaxar, one of the High Princes of Tirion.'
Celebrían smiled and rose, following the attendant and catching her arm.
'Which one, Aurehen?'
The maiden smiled.
'The one that always comes. The one that was last to return from the Halls up to now.'
With an amused beam Celebrían followed the path to the place where the Elf-lord would no doubt be waiting. It was strange to think of him like that, bodily only a mere shrub, even compared to her own children… And yet she had seen him so many times, millennia ago, wise and kingly, the years readable in his face.
It was still there, that knowledge. But there was a certain innocence present that had come with spending time in Mandos… Surely enough, there he stood, dark hair flowing down his back. With a smile she called to him.
'Ereinion! What news from Máhanaxar?'
He smiled broadly and gave a short bow of the head before letting himself be pulled into a affectionate embrace.
'Celebrían, I have good news…'
'News from Middle-earth?'
'In a way,' he smiled, offering his arm. 'News from Elrond…'
Releasing his arm almost at once, Celebrían stepped into his way and stopped him.
'Stop teasing and tell me… Is he coming to Aman soon?'
'He has already arrived… My father sent me to inform you… They are three days behind me, I would say.'
Celebrían's eyes became large, and her grip on his arm became firmer.
'You are not jesting with me, Ereinion Gil-galad? For I would never forgive you…'
'I would not dare.' He smiled.
Taking his arm again, Celebrían steered him into quieter surroundings.
'Have you seen him? Is he well?'
'I saw him, he is well.' He assured her, hiding his own qualms. Nevertheless Celebrían noticed it at once.
'Tell me, did you not speak with Elrond, or was there no time? You usually do not let Fingon's errands come in the way of your own designs… What did he say?'
She had had these conversations with him often, for it had to be strange for the son to have more years and experience than the father. Ereinion had never showed any signs of wanting his own House, of wishing to distance himself of Fingon. And yet he stood beside his father in Aman, rather than behind him… Much as Fingolfin's House stood alongside Fingon's, only that of Finwë above them all.
Grey eyes were cast down for a moment, and there was a moment of silence.
'He did not recognise me, and I was too anxious to go to him…'
With a disbelieving shake of the head, Celebrían looked at him. This was where he had changed, where he was different from how she had known him. It was curious… Once, she had seen him as a fatherly figure, had watched him perform this part in Elrond's life. But now she felt more like a sister to him, a mother even, caring for him while her own children…
'Ereinion… Elladan and Elrohir?'
He looked at her blankly.
'I cannot be certain, but it was said in my father's House that there would be a motion for delay. But I know not if this is true. They were not among those that arrived by ship.'
With a deep sigh, both of disappointment and acceptance, Celebrían nodded.
'It was to be expected…' Then she smiled and rested her hand on his shoulder. 'But you shall stay and speak with him when he arrives…'
After a feigned defeatist movement he looked at her.
mell iôn-nîn: my beloved son
Car-ú gwanno, ada: Do not depart, father.
Im gerin-an, tithen-nîn, Im gwesta-an teli-ad… : I have to, little one, I promise to return
the Ring of Doom: see Máhanaxar
the Lord Námo: the personal name of Mandos
Aeglos (Sindarin) snowthorn, plant, but also the spear of Gil-galad
Oromë: one of the Lords of the Valar, a great hunter, his wooded lands lie in southern Valinor
Estë: wife of Lórien, concerned with healing and rest and with the fountains and pools of the gardens of Lórien.
Máhanaxar: Place of council and judgement of the Valar, located near the gates of Valimar (also called the Ring of Doom)
Okay, lets talk Eärendil… Thankfully Mr Tolkien left that part vague… Since Venus (the star that corresponds with Eärendil) does not always appear, I'm guessing Eärendil was allowed a little holiday every once in a while ;)
Especially when his son arrives in Valinor… And I'm not locking Elwing in a tower… That's silly… :))
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