14. Will You Go
"How is your shoulder today, Naneth?" Arwen asked as she fluffed her mother's pillow. Celebrían was looking out the window and did not appear to hear her. She asked again and flinched when her mother looked back at her; the once clear and bright gray eyes were vacant and unfocused.
"It no longer hurts. Nothing hurts anymore." Whispered words with tear-filled eyes.
Arwen's heart broke for perhaps the thousandth time. She bit her lip and turned away, pretending she was smoothing out the covers. "Ada will be coming soon. Did you enjoy your meal?" There was no answer, but Arwen had expected none. Though Arwen knew her mother's vocal chords were no longer damaged, her mother rarely spoke. When she was comfortable with how the bedclothes were settled, Celebrían's daughter sat. She took her mother's hand in her own, gently humming a favorite melody. They sat thus for an hour. At last, Elrond entered the room and Arwen rose in deep gratitude; her hope was beginning to fail. She hugged her father tightly, whispering of her mother's progress, more her lack thereof. Elrond nodded and let her go, gently pushing her towards the door. 'Thank you,' he mouthed. She turned and left them, stood against the closed door, and wept bitterly.
"Melethril nín, you look well this morning," Elrond began with forced cheer. He went to the window and pulled the half-opened panels wide. "It is a glorious day outside. I will carry you to the porch and we can sit together and drink in the sun. Spring is here and lovelier than ever. Now that you have been returned to us." He swallowed hard. No response; none expected. He walked to the bed, took her cloak from the table nearby and wrapped it about her arms, then picked her up and stepped through the doors and onto the porch. Songbirds sang, a fountain nearby gurgled, and the waterfall to the left of them sounded its laughing voice. Her eyes never lifted. She sat motionless in his arms.
A part of him wanted to shake her, scream to her to awaken from the stupor that held her, but the healer in him, the lover in him, knew it would do naught. Instead, he held her closer to his chest and let her feel his breath on her hair. 'Oh!' At that thought, he choked. Less than two inches was the growth that had sprouted from the shorn head. His eyes filled with tears, but he held them at bay, least she feel them. Another 'Oh' filled his mind as he realized she would probably not even feel his tears. She was oblivious to all. Gently, he sat her on a reclining chair and then sat, cross-legged at her side, never letting go her hand.
"I saw myself last night."
Her whispered words surprised him and he looked up at her.
"I went to my mirror, when Arwen was fetching some tea. My foot does not work rightly, but I made my way to the nightstand. I have no breasts, you know." Her tone was nonchalant. "I probably do not have a -- " She shuddered. "I have no hair. None. Well," she pulled on it as if it were some insect bothering her, "none but this pittance, this patch that looks like one of Arwen's dolls after many years use."
If it had been any other time, Elrond would have laughed, for many of Arwen's dolls from her childhood had dismal hair, from years of washing and combing and loving. He only swallowed hard and gently rubbed the back of her left hand with his thumb.
"I have no ears. Well, I have ears, but no tips. I have a broken nose. It is not very flattering, is it?" She did not wait for him to respond. "I will never be able to play the harp again. My hand," she held it up; it hung limp and useless upon her wrist. "Need I say more."
"Your hair will grow back, melda. Your hand will heal as will your foot. You will be playing in the Hall of Fire by Mettarë next."
"I will not be here."
"Speak not such words, melethril nín! You will not fade. Your Adar and I have... Your body is strong, it will recover."
"I will not be here. I cannot abide this place. There are Yrch hiding everywhere, you know. They think I do not see them, but I do. I keep watch. I hear them in the night as they shuffle towards my bed. I pull the covers over my head. They have yet to discover me, but I cannot hide forever."
Elrond sat in shocked silence. Celeborn, unheard and unseen, stood by the doorway. His tears fell.
"They hide under my bed when you are there. They hide behind the curtains when Arwen comes." She paused and looked puzzled for a moment. "They slink out of the window when my Ada comes. I like it best when Ada is in the room with me."
"Are they here now?" Elrond was loath to ask but found himself compelled to.
"They are in the trees. Are your eyes so bad that you do not see them? Even with my ears damaged, I can hear them. Listen to the rustling. Look between the leaves. They are there, in great number. I wonder they do not attack, but they bide their time. I suppose they want me alone before they take me again."
Elrond knelt by her side and took her face, gently, into his hands. "There are no Yrch in the trees, melda, they are my elves. Look!" He gave a great whistle and twelve elves in various parts of the garden pulled back the branches behind which they hid and held up their bows. "See. They love you and will protect you."
"Nay," she whispered. "They are Yrch dressed as elves, my husband. Why cannot you see this? I had once thought you wise."
Elrond gave another sharp whistle and two elves jumped from the trees, came across the garden, and stood before their lord. "Do you not recognize..." He waved them away at the look of terror on her face. "They are not Yrch, Celebrían, they are Taendir and Gelmir. You know them. They have served me for many an age."
She still cowered against him. Elrond waved the guards back into the trees and took her in his arms. Celeborn came forth and knelt at her right. "They are my warriors, Celebrían, sworn to defend you to the death."
She did not look at him. "I cannot stay here. They come through the very cracks of the walls. I will sail when you decide to let me leave."
Arwen had cautioned them, before they entered their mother's room, but still, Elladan had expected... He had not known what he expected, but it was not this. Even though he and his brother had been the ones to find her in the Yrch cave, had been forced to clean her many wounds, and had seen the total destruction wrought upon her by the Yrch... He left the room before she saw him, ran down the hall, and threw up before he reached the garden.
After Celebrían's disclosure the day before, the silver-haired elf had taken to staying in her room. If this made his daughter feel safer, then he would do it, even over Elrond's objections. Celeborn had seen the horror in his grandson's face as the young elf entered the room and tried to catch up with him, but he was a step or two behind. Another instant of hard running and Celeborn was at his grandson's side. He held Elladan's hair back while the ellon retched again and again. Finally, the bout was over and Celeborn held him close. "Elladan," he whispered brokenly, tears falling, "You did everything you could. Please do not lose yourself again to mindless guilt." He felt the young elf shudder and held him even tighter. "Let us walk a bit." He gently led him towards the garden, but Elladan collapsed in his arms.
The Lord of Lórien looked up in gratitude as he felt arms about him, helping to share the burden of his grandson's body. "Glorfindel."
"I saw him run," the Balrog-slayer said simply.
"Help me take him to my rooms."
Glorfindel picked the ellon up as if he were a babe and carried him up a flight of stairs and into Celeborn's suite. Placing Elladan upon a settle in the outer chamber, he found goblets and wine and filled three. Passing one to Celeborn, he knelt before Elladan and pressed the goblet into the ellon's hand. "Take a small sip, 'Dan."
Celeborn winced as he saw the pain etched into the young face. He swallowed the contents of his own goblet and sat in a chair across from Elladan, letting the golden warrior care for his grandson, for the nonce. At last, Elladan drank the wine and gave the cup back to Glorfindel. He closed his eyes and leaned back upon the cushions of the settle. A shrike's incessant cry startled those in the room. 'A herald of doom,' Elladan thought sadly.
Elrohir joined them a moment later, concern etched across his face. "'Dan? Are you all right?" He tried to pull Elladan into his arms, but the ellon moved away, growling.
"'Dan," Celeborn said sternly, "Do not betray your brother with your anger and guilt."
"The guilt is mine!" Elrohir shouted, standing and upturning a table in the fury of his response. "I wanted to stay home. I wanted to join the tournament! It was not 'Dan. Morgoth's breath, but it is all my fault." The elf collapsed to his knees.
"'Ro," Elladan slid off the settle and onto the floor next to his brother. "Do not," he whispered. "It is no one's fault and everyone's. We cannot undo what has been done. I just needed to... I just could not bear to look upon... She is going West. She must go West." The elder son of Elrond turned to Celeborn. "We must take her to the Gray Havens and procure a ship for her. She must leave soon, else she will surely fade."
"My son speaks wisely." They all turned to see Elrond in the doorway. "Arwen is with your Naneth." The Lord of Imladris did not move; his eyes focused upon his sons. "I feared for you, Elladan."
"I am well, Adar. I... I had a momentary... I have not degenerated back to that thing I was after... My stomach roiled. I did not want to spill its contents in front of Naneth." The young ellon smiled sadly. "I did not mean for you," and his eyes encompassed all those in the room, "I did not mean for you to worry. My body betrayed me. I am well."
Elrohir squeezed his brother's hand. "Are you ready to go back? Naneth must be concerned."
Elladan snorted. "She will not even notice that we are there, 'Ro. Her mind is somewhere else. Is that not true, Adar?"
Elrond nodded. "It is. Most times, she is not lucid. Or too grief-stricken to note aught but her own pain."
"She suffers," Celeborn said quietly. "I heard her words, Elrond, when you were in the garden. She is afraid, even when she sleeps."
The Lord of Imladris nodded. "She sees Yrch in the fireplace, in the fountains, in the garden..." He hesitated a moment. "She will not be at peace until she is far from here."
"Does she have such faith in the Belain that she thinks she will be free from fear in Aman?"
"The Quenya means 'free from evil.' I believe Aman will be thus for her. There are many who will greet her with open arms. Not all abhor Galadriel. "
Glorfindel stood up. "Finarfin still rules in Tirion upon Túna. She will heal there, Elladan. Her Adadhron will take her to Ninir and she will heal. You have my promise."
Elladan stood, helped his brother stand, and embraced the Balrog-slayer. "I will hold you to that promise, Glorfindel. Now," he turned and took Elrohir's elbow and steered him towards the door. "We must see our Naneth."
After his sons left the room, Elrond turned and motioned. Glorfindel bowed and followed to make sure the ellyn had no further mishaps. Elrond sat down, took the carafe of wine and poured himself a glass, then refilled Celeborn's. He looked at the glass in his hand and placed it on the table before him. "Please notify Galadriel. Tell her I will accompany Celebrían to the Gray Havens at the beginning of next month. If she wishes to say her farewells, or if she would accompany me to Cirdan's domain, she is welcome."
"Of course. I will accompany you, no matter her decision."
Elrond nodded, placed his hands over his face and wept.
Melethril nín - my love
Melda - beloved
Ninir - Sindarin for the Balan (Vala) - Nienna
For Adadhron - see Author's Notes for Chapter Four
For the Sindarin name for Valar/Vala - see Author's Notes for Chapter Eight
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.