3. Chapter Three
It is the sound of weeping that draws me to Arwen’s gardens. A foreign scent drifts to me as I enter soundlessly – the fragrance of elanor, the golden flowers of Lothlórien that my sister so dearly loves and had transplanted to her private bit of Rivendell. It is the only place west of the Misty Mountains that one can smell this aroma…
She is kneeling on the ground, and the moon above silvers the entire scene – the white flagstones; the pale, tearstained face; even the gilded petals that she holds cupped in her hands. "Estel," I hear her whisper to the blossoms, and a stinging ache springs back to life in my heart, and I struggle to keep my feet from walking away. Then – oh, kind Elbereth! – she calls my name, crying a plea to the stars. I step out of the shadows.
"I am here, Arwen."
She startles, rises swiftly, hastily dashing away her tears. "Elrohir?" In her demeanour are a thousand warring emotions – amazement, joy, anxiety, wariness. She stretches her arms out to me, full of longing, then sees the flower still clutched in her hand.
Gently I take it from her before she can let it fall. She clasps her now-empty hands almost guiltily before her and stares down at them. "They remind you of him," I say, asking unnecessary confirmation.
"Yes." She looks up, but her gaze is lengthened beyond me, back through time. "When we met in Lórien," she remembers, her voice muted and lilting with the memory, "he was clad in silver and white, and a star bound his brow, and his arms were laden with elanor…"
An acrid pain sings through my veins, and I hurriedly shift the subject. "I came to apologise to you, sister, and to ask your forgiveness for my folly. It hurts me to hurt you, and I never intended to."
Her soft, relieved sigh is benison and absolution. "I know, brother." But she will not be drawn aside so easily. "And yet you address the symptom while avoiding the sickness, master healer."
Ignoring the subtle flattery, I look away. Curse her perceptiveness! She steps nearer, hesitates. "Will you accept my choice, Elrohir?"
I turn back, a denial boiling in my throat, but one look at her strangles me. I had not known that it was possible to blend love, despair, and hope into a singular, devastating expression. For a moment, despite her raven hair and grey eyes, I see only our mother Celebrían. I know, beyond any doubt, that this is what Father saw when Mother asked to sail into the West after her torture at the hands of the Orcs. And if this is so, then I see why he yielded. But before I can react, she turns away, and the spell is broken. Her face turns up toward the spangled velvet heavens, and a half-whispered cry escapes her lips. "Ilúvatar, why?"
"Why?" I repeat, questioning.
She glances at me, grieved and bitter. "If Elda and Adan are so different, then why may we love?"
I have no answer. She sighs heavily, sorrowful, and says vehemently, "I can please no one, it seems! Estel was beloved by you before this – now I am torn between my love and your hostility!"
"Perhaps this anguish is token of Eru’s frown upon unions between the two Kindreds," I cannot keep myself from suggesting. Her eyes flash angrily.
"Are you able to discern the designs of the One, then, brother?"
I open my mouth, then shut it, as my audacity becomes apparent. "No," I admit finally. Then, in desperation, I blurt, "Arwen, there may be another—"
"No, Elrohir!" She flings out her arms in entreaty. "I love him. There will be no other! Why will you not see this?"
"It is not that I will not, sister, but that I cannot!" I catch her hands in my own. "I love you, Arwen!"
Her expression suddenly softens. "I know, dear brother, I know. Believe me, I love you no less because I love Estel as well." She presses my hands tenderly. "But what would you have me do? I have prayed to Eru that he be somehow made one of the Eldar, but…" She looks down, then back. "He would forsake his own people, if he could. How can I do any less for him?" Then, with an unexpected smile, she says, "Perhaps you will understand someday, Elrohir. Perhaps you will find love, a love like this – so true, so pure. In all honesty, I could not choose other than I have."
The gentle assertion is nonetheless stirring. In the face of her guileless devotion, my hostility toward Estel falters, weakens. "Truly, Arwen?"
"Truly, brother." She lifts my hands, calloused by knife and bowstring, and folds them between hers, and gazes into my eyes for a long while.
With a sigh of surrender, I attempt to mask my sorrow with a mild jest: "Ilúvatar forbids that I stand between you and your Beren, lady Lúthien."
She laughs lightly, a sound that gladdens my heart despite its pain, and embraces me. "If only she had a father and brothers so loving and compassionate."
As we stand together, relishing our restored concord, I am aware of the music of her voice, the fragrance of her hair – things I have never noticed before, and only notice now because of their new-revealed transience. "I will miss you," I whisper.
Her arms tighten around me. "I am still here, Elrohir."
She pulls away to gaze at me. "Count the days we have together," she says softly, "not the days until we are parted."
"I will try." For her sake, I force a smile. "Who can assuage my moods as you can, sister? What will I do when…"
"I think Elladan knows you somewhat, even better than I," she answers, gently teasing. Her eyes remain sober, though, and she adds earnestly, "Fear not that I will ever leave you, my brother. I will dance with you in your dreams, and perhaps beyond the end of this world, we will meet again in another."
The idea shines all round with hope nearly too intense to bear. "Do you think so, honestly, Arwen?"
She lays a light kiss on my brow. "I believe, Elrohir."
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.