2. Chapter One - Arwen
Family dinners were not the same with just the two of them. Usually Arwen would welcome the chance to spend some time with her father without anyone else to compete with for his time. However, at the moment she had competition from her mother. He had been chronically unable to think of anything else. He would show her affection and share in the grief of the unknown, but she had begun to grow tired of making sure he was all right, he was sleeping, he was eating. She wanted him to think of her for a change.
"Arwen, eat your food, don't just move it about."
"Sorry, father." Her reply was instinctive after many years. Elrond had always expected his children to do as they were told, although he was more lenient with Arwen than he had been with her brothers.
"I'm not that hungry," she said.
"Why not? It is dinnertime. Are you ill?"
She gave a laugh at that but it was not a happy one. "My mother is missing or hadn't you noticed?"
"I have noticed," he said, but his voice sounded odd. When she looked at him more closely she saw he also hadn't eaten very much. Furthermore he was pale and looked as bad as she felt. He turned his gaze away from the window to look at her.
"I'm sorry," he said. "We can't understand each other. You don't have a husband to miss and I don't remember my mother."
"We can try," she said. "I keep looking out of the window and seeing the other elves going about their business as if everything was normal and it isn't."
"No, it isn't. Perhaps you should stop looking out of the window so much."
"Maybe you should too." His gaze had wondered back over to the window again.
He rose and moved round the table to take hold of her hand. "Why don't we abandon dinner," he said, "and I will tell you a tale of your mother?"
She smiled and stood. "I'd like that."
As Arwen rounded the corner to her father's room she heard him talking to someone but she could hear no other voice but Elrond's. She moved closer to peer around the edge of the doorway.
"Where are you? What are they doing to you?" he was saying. Arwen could just see the edge of a picture of her mother behind him. His voice dropped to a whisper. "Are you even still alive?"
It startled Arwen somewhat, as Elrond had always been so strong and it scared her a little to see him falling apart. She must have made a noise for he spun around to look at her. Was that a tear she saw in his eye?
"Arwen," he said.
Arwen didn't know what to say or how to react to what she'd obviously not been meant to hear. So instead she flung her arms around him to give him - and herself - some comfort.
"I'm supposed to be comforting you, not the other way round," he said.
Arwen gave a laugh but it turned into a sob and she buried her face in his chest. As he held her and whispered soothing words to her she almost felt like a young child whose father could do anything.
"It's late," he said, when she pulled away and began to dry her eyes. "You should get some sleep."
"I was coming to tell you that."
"I can't," Elrond replied. "What if she returned while I slept?"
"Then someone would wake you, you know that."
Elrond shook his head. "How can I sleep when I am safe at home and she is not? I should be out there looking for her."
"We've discussed this before. I know how you feel, for I feel it too. But what if they found her and were bringing her back as you rode out and you missed each other? You should be here when she returns."
Elrond held Arwen's gaze for a moment before answering. The daughter of Elrond was as stubborn as he was.
"I'll sleep if you will."
"Can I sleep in your bed?" she asked, the same way she had as an elfling when she'd had a bad dream.
He kissed her on the forehead and smoothed her hair away from her face. "I'd like that," he said and for the first time it occurred to Arwen that her father might not like sleeping in his bed without her mother there.
Arwen awoke from pleasant dreams to find her father stroking her hair. It was soothing and she lay there half asleep, enjoying his affections. Elrond, perhaps thinking she was still asleep whispered to her.
"I didn't tell you how much you meant to me, my Undómiel. I didn't tell your brothers or your mother. I might not ever get the chance to tell her."
"She knew," Arwen said softly. The hand on her head paused then resumed its previous motion. "We all do. It doesn't always need words."
"Deeds are more powerful than words," Elrond mused.
"And your actions shout from the rooftops of Imladris."
Elrond gave a chuckle at that and Arwen turned to face him.
"I remember her explaining to me when I was younger that she loved you. I asked her how she knew you felt the same way and she told me it was because you worried about her when she wasn't there and cared when she was. Also because you let her go to Lórien."
Elrond took a breath in and looked sharply at her.
"You knew she would have gone, even if you had said no. She would have found a way to persuade you."
"And how can I deny her anything?"
Arwen wandered round her room. She felt more awake now for the few hours sleep she'd had the previous night. She now realised why Elrond stayed awake. With her head clear it was easier to think and her thoughts tended to head in directions she didn't want them to go in. Her eyes fell on a necklace of Celebrían's she had borrowed for dinner a few days beforehand. She hadn't given it back before Celebrían had left for Lórien but had been intending to do so when her mother returned.
She picked up the necklace and examined it. The Evenstar pendant had been a family heirloom of her mother's. Apart from its beauty, in all respects it was an ordinary necklace - perhaps Elrond had thought of it when he first called her his Evenstar. Her mother had promised that one day it would be hers, although she had not said when that day would be. For now it was for her to borrow not to keep. Almost absent-mindedly she stopped running it through her fingers and put it on. Perhaps today it would give her strength.
How many days had it been now? She had lost count. How many days more would it be? She thought of all the things she would normally be doing, but discarded them all as being frivolous. At first she had been angry and afraid at what happened and had taken that anger out on the house and gardens. Now though she merely felt afraid and there was no way to purge that. She considered taking a walk but Elrond would probably want her near. She also didn't want her mother to return and her not be there. Thinking of her father she decided to go and check on him, glancing through the windows on the way in case her mother had returned already.
Elrond was in his room - he had not left there since the message came of Celebrían's capture. He was sitting on the bed, reading. Arwen wondered how he could concentrate enough to read anything until she came closer and realised the pages had her mother's writing on them. If her mother were to die would she also lose her father? Unable to help herself she gave a cry, startling Elrond.
"Arwen, what's wrong?" he said, putting the letter he held down on the bed and looking up at her.
"What if she doesn't come back? What if she's dead?"
"You don't know that. Don't treat me like an elfling."
"I'm not, Arwen, but you have to believe that she's alive. I have to believe that. This waiting is intolerable enough but I couldn't do it if I were waiting for your brothers to find her body."
Arwen knelt at her father's feet, put a hand on his knee and looked into his eyes. "You will always be here won't you? You won't leave me, father?"
Elrond paused and she felt her worst fears being confirmed. "I can't promise you that, Arwen, you know that."
Arwen nodded. He was right, she did know that, but now she wanted him to lie, promise her he would always be here. Instead she reached out to take his hand. "Will you promise me something?"
"If it is in my power to grant."
"If mother is... If mother doesn't come back don't.." she swallowed. "I couldn't bear to lose my father as well."
Elrond's response was to hug her. It only occurred to her later that he had never promised.
Arwen decided to go outside for some fresh air. The day was warm and the sun was shining. A perfect day - if it was not for one thing. She idly fingered the pendant still round her neck. She suspected that her mother intended to give it to her on her wedding day - that was when Galadriel had given it to Celebrían.
She considered the pain Elrond felt now and wondered if it was worth it. Assuming she ever found someone she loved enough to marry. None of the elves in Imladris or Lórien had so far taken her heart. But she was in no rush. She was happy here. Or she would be if things were to return to normal but she knew they never would be. Her father would be unlikely to let her mother out of his sight once she returned.
Her reverie was interrupted by noise nearby and she turned to see Elladan riding towards their house shouting for herself and their father. She looked up to his window but could see nothing. Surely he had heard and seen and was on his way. But he had not yet appeared. She went back inside to find him.
She ran all the way to his room although running was forbidden in the house. He would overlook this indiscretion for these circumstances. She called to him as she ran, wondering why he didn't answer. Reaching Elrond's bedroom she burst in and found the reason he had not been seen. He had fallen asleep in a chair. She almost didn't want to wake him up. It was probably the first time he had slept since they had heard of the attack and Celebrían's capture - even in the first few days when they knew Elladan and Elrohir could never return in such a short time. Her dilemma was soon solved when Elrond blinked and looked at her.
"She's here, father."
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.