1. Memory Eternal
The life of the Elessar had faded and I would never see its light again in all the ages to come.
I passed my hand over my own eyes. Death was a mysterious and bitter gift to Men, and I did not comprehend it. I endured; I would always endure, until the breaking of the world, and even then, Iluvatar willing, I would remain. It was not the lot of my kind to pass beyond the material and beyond to – to what? My mind refused to allow contemplation of it.
“Daerada,” I turned towards the sound, startled at the interruption, “oh Daerada you are here…”
Nimloth buried her head against my shoulder and wept. Words of comfort, which had always flowed easily from my lips, now eluded me, and I could only hold her in silence. My heart was heavy with sorrow as she shook against me. Had Arwen wept so, I wondered? Memories of her, youthful and happy, dancing between the Mallorn of Lothlorien appeared before my eyes even as I held her daughter.
She seemed too young to have to bear such sorrow; I caught myself at this thought and reminded myself how swiftly the Edain passed their days. Even though, Nimloth was their youngest child, not yet thirty years of age. After a time seeming to last an eon she grew quiet.
“I have lost them both,” she whispered, “my Father to age and my Mother to grief.”
“Draw your strength from me, child,” I replied, surprised to find it too was strangled with grief, “and take comfort.”
“Your strength cannot bring them back, Daerada.” She turned to the still form of her Father and there was only desolation in her once bright eyes. “Not even you could defy the will of the One.”
“Ahh, you under-estimate me child,” I smiled, trying to lessen her pain even a little. “I am married to one who defied the Valar, such a fate demands a stubborn nature.”
She smiled through her tears, “come Daerada, let me show you the gardens of the city. My brother has given their care over to me, and I think you may find them more pleasing than this cold tomb.”
We left the Silent Street and emerged into the bustle of the busy city byways, the crowds parted, but whether it was for my strange appearance or the dark look on their Lady’s face, I could not say. In time we came to one of the many small gardens hidden away in the city’s mount. The spring of grief welled again in my heart as I saw that everywhere about me bloomed the delicate petals of the Elanor. The Queen of the Reunited Kingdom had never forgotten her long years in the Golden Wood.
I held the flowers gently between my fingers, studying them. How curious that I might turn it round and about, and know all its aspects yet it would fade and wither before another summer passed by, and though I might walk among fields of the same kind, I would never that blossom again. I was reminded once again of the strangeness of my changelessness in this world of ebb and flow.
“You are thinking about Mother?”
I sighed and released the blossom, watching as it sprang back to merge with its fellows, once again lost among them. “I am thinking about many things, child, but thoughts of your Mother weigh heavy upon me.”
“I would say, do not grieve, but I suppose I cannot say such things to you, because Men lessen their grief with the sure knowledge that they shall meet again.”
She grew quiet for a few moments, regarding the flowers.
“I sometimes wish that I did not have to taste death,” she said finally, “that we could sail into the west like the Eldar, and my Mother would have been spared her pain and her sorrow.”
“Child!” I exclaimed, moved by both her sentiment and its wrongness, “to be deathless is not to be without sorrow. Nay, it is to be more sorrowful,” my gaze turned irresistibly westward, “for you would remain when all others whom you loved had left you alone.”
“Are you alone Daerada? Do you miss the Lady Galadriel?”
“With each new day.”
She looked at me strangely, as if trying to perceive the weight of time in this unchanging cloak of flesh that covered my spirit.
“Then why do you not go to her?”
I rubbed my thumb absent-mindedly over the thin gold band on my finger and thought of the day I had received it, trying to summon an answer to the question.
“Do you love your Mother and Father?”
“Yes?” She answered gently, puzzlement evident in her tone. “Why do you ask me this?”
“Then why do you not go to them?”
I watched as understanding came into her eyes and felt it reflected in my own. Strange, I thought, that an Edain and an Eldar should find so much in common through a loss and absence. Perhaps our kinds are not as different as we had believed.
“Is your journey to the undying lands akin to our death? You cannot go until they call to you?”
“In a way, child, yes.”
“But Elves can die can they not? You have told me many tales about your family and they died as Men do.”
I thought of the loved ones I had lost; Elu, Galathil, my Father, my Mother - my Son. But none of them had died in the way that Men died, their spirits merely rested for a time and, with the blessing of Mandos they could, if they chose, be born anew to walk once more.
“We do not go where Men go, your spirits pass beyond Mandos, and even the wisest among the Eldar do not know whence you go.”
“I cannot imagine that you do not know something, Daerada, when I was a child it seemed you knew everything.”
“And, as is often the way with children, found me stupider as you grew wiser.” I replied with a wry smile.
“Oh Daerada,” she chided me, smiling again, and my heart lightened to see it. When it faded, her grief was less plain and she turned her face upwards to regard the sky above, blue as sapphire and infinite in its dimension. She studied it as if she expected to find her answers there. It seemed fitting that she did not look to the west as I did, to a realm and a place, her fate was not bound to Arda, it lay beyond this reality with Iluvatar, so she gazed upward into the vast reaches of the universe.
“What do your eyes seek?” I asked her.
“Truth?” She said softly, “beauty? An end to the unending?”
“You will find it sooner than I, child. For that at least I am envious of you.”
“You envy our sickness and our pain, Daerada?”
“I envy that you go to Iluvatar before me. I yearn for that completeness and I must wait until the world’s end to receive it. It is strange to me that you should desire an immortal life.”
“You make it seem a curse and not a blessing, Daerada.”
“Nay, it is not a curse, it is merely my lot. If Iluvatar has granted the Elves long life it is likely because we have many more lessons to learn then Men.”
“Or much to teach Men.”
I laughed gently, “perhaps so. But a few among our kind have been granted the gift of Men, your Mother was among them.”
“Does it make you sad that you will no longer see her?”
“Yes,” I replied and then, feeling that that was not enough, “and no, for I loved her spirit dearly, and though I speak with her now only in my heart she will endure there while I endure.”
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.