1. The Long Road Home
The Long Road Home
She could not think of either her journey, or what awaited her.
"You will need clothes."
"You should take jewellery."
"Take this medicine with you, then you must see a healer as soon as you arrive," her husband's voice.
"My family will see to that," her mother said.
Their conversation, concerning her, flowed over her.
Her children packed her bags with careful gifts, filled with the love she could no longer feel.
It was not until she arrived in Valinor that she found the simplest note.
"Beloved Celebrían, your mother holds my heart – yet still it travels with you, Adar."
Her servant, and friend, who had travelled with her, ensured that all the necessary information was given to all the necessary people; Celebrían remained unable to care.
Now grandparents and great-grandparents vied over her wellbeing as, previously, had husband and mother. She took no notice, hardly able to tell one from another.
To them it seemed that the first sign of her frozen fëa thawing came with the arrival of the tall, silver-headed, elf who, when he saw her, said nothing more than;
"I am Galathil, your father's brother."
Then sat with her, in sun dappled silence, under the trees.
Slowly Celebrían began to emerge from the drifting mists that had filled her fëa, hiding those parts she wished to forget but also so much more.
Her father's brother helped her focus, asking few questions, and those only about her own childhood – things it was a pleasure to recall.
As she began to surface she found she could now tell the other Elves around her from each other; those who had previously been no more than names in the genealogy list of her childhood became individuals, grandparents rather than myths.
But it was Celeborn's brother who first saw her smile.
The ships from The Havens arrived more often now. There had been twelve years between the one Celebrían sailed on and the next. Even so she could not remember reading the letters that it had carried for her.
But now more elves arrived, many drawn, careworn; Middle Earth was darkening.
With them came letters from Elrond, Arwen, Mother. Nothing from her sons; Arwen said they were busy fighting, fighting, always fighting the dark.
No long letters, either, from Adar. But always, at the end of Naneth's, a tiny design of twisted tengwar – Adar's cipher for his heart, sailing with her.
Word came swiftly that Sauron was defeated, the darkness driven back from the lands of Middle Earth. Word, also, of the spirit death of the rings Nenya and Vilya, terrible loss for both Mother and Elrond; soon they must follow Celebrían's path.
Before them came others – with trunks and boxes from Celebrían's two homes. Now she felt renewed enough to reacquaint herself with old friends of vellum and paper.
Tears and smiles came together over a book in her childhood hand; 'Recipes for Ada's Favourite Foods'.
Drawn to a kitchen she shared her creations with Galathil – finger-licking conspirators in pleasure.
Celebrían knew, before the ship appeared over the horizon, that Elrond was near. She knew, before it reached shore, that it carried neither her sons nor her daughter. She knew, too, that Mother was aboard; but not Father.
In the joy of her reunion with her husband she would not think of those not there. Those sorrows would come later.
Finally came the courage to unfold letters she would have preferred not to get; from her sons, from Arwen, and then from Father. "I cannot abandon my people, or my grandchildren. But my heart, now, is all in Valinor."
Ships still arrived, but fewer now, with many years between.
Mother hugged her loneliness to herself, rarely mentioning Father in public.
People expected Celebrían to rejoice in the presence of her husband, mourn the severing from her daughter, and placidly await her sons' decision. No-one seemed to think she should sorrow at being fatherless.
And yet… distant notes of music, a line from a poem, could bring Father to her heart as keenly, as heavily, as they could her sons.
Almost better, she thought, to know, as with Arwen, than the constant pain of unknowing caused by those missing three.
She never gave up hope; Círdan, too, had not arrived - but some said he would not.
Then – a sail.
As if their hearts had heard a call, Celebrían, Elrond, and Galadriel ran to the dock hand in hand.
'My boys!' Celebrían thought, 'My boys!'
For all three would hear the song of her sons.
But Uncle Galathil was waiting too… and Celebrían knew that someone else also sailed on this last ship, this postscript to the history of Elves in Middle Earth.
As the first person stepped slowly onto the dock, she ran, hair streaming, crying "Daddy, my Daddy…!"
Disclaimer: The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only, and all rights remain with the estate of JRR Tolkien.
Title is from the Runrig song Headlights.
Final scene is courtesy of a well-remembered scene from a BBC dramatisation - once it was stuck in my head I couldn't get rid of it!
Oh - and Galathil appears in the genealogies - I didn't even have to invent him.