Sailor to the Grey Havens - Sequel to "Mother of the Evenstar," part seven

Just a little note: This chapter is a year after the last one. Sorry about the confusion my time-jumping caused before!

"You are not happy." Elrond's voice startled Celebrian, and she turned to face him.

"What a thing to say," she replied. "Of course I'm happy." She took his hands and smiled into his eyes. "How could I not be?"

Elrond touched her shoulder. The wound no longer pained her, but she flinched all the same. Elrond withdrew his hand as if it had been burned.

"You keep looking out at the river," he said. "Rivers become seas, Celebrian."

"Not for me, not yet," she told him. "I will not cross without you."

The ghost of a smile flickered on Elrond's face. "You have not been happy since you came back. I have seen you. I want you to stay with me until our time here is over, but I don't want you to stay if you will never smile again."

Celebrian closed her eyes. His words were true, for all that she'd tried her hardest to deny them for a year. She had not been happy, but she had tried to be, for him. She opened her eyes, but she could not meet Elrond's. "I think, that day when they tortured me, I was disillusioned," she said slowly, trying to think why she hadn't been content. "I realized how much cruelty any race is capable of." She finally met Elrond's eyes, her own overflowing with tears. "Orcs were Elves, Elrond! We could be them, you could be an Orc, living only for pain and killing. How can I live in a world like this?" It felt wonderful to put her suppressed feelings into words, and at the same time horrible, like a betrayal. She knew what she wanted now, what she had wanted for a long time but had not said. "You were right, about the river. I want to go, to sail over Sea."

A long silence followed her words. She looked down at the floor, then heard a strange sound. Elrond was weeping.

"Elrond, please - " Celebrian flung her arms around his neck and held him, letting him cry into her shoulder. "I won't go if - "
"No! I want you to be happy, Celebrian." Elrond lifted his head. "I will do whatever is asked of me, if it means that you will be happy."

Celebrian made no attempt to wipe away her tears. She knew it was right to go, she knew she wanted to, but... She leaned in and kissed him. "I should go soon," she whispered as they separated. "Then it won't hurt so much."

***

The river to the Sea was dark and choppy. Celebrian stared at the boat waiting for her with a heavy heart. She did not doubt that she had to go, but neither did she doubt that the ache in her heart would never heal until her family joined her.

Elrond stood beside her. She had said her farewells to Elladan, Elrohir, and Arwen already, and already her heart was breaking at having to leave them. She couldn't imagine the pain that leaving Elrond would be like.

"So here we are, Lady," Elrond said softly. Celebrian swallowed down tears as she remembered that he had called her 'Lady' in Lothlorien, when they first met. "A parting, and a goodbye."

She turned to face him. He was crying too. Celebrian hugged him tightly. "But a greeting awaits us." She pulled away to see his face. "It will just take a long time for it to come." The pain was clear in her face.

Elrond saw her tears race down her cheeks. His heart twisted with grief. "I would have left you in Lothlorien if I had known I could have spared you this, love."

She shook her head. "No. I would not have given you up for anything in this world or the next." She swallowed hard. "And Rivendell Elves are always honest." He tried to smile at her words, but he couldn't. Celebrian was able to, but only just. "And if you had left, I would have followed you. Just be sure that you follow me when the time of the Elves is over." She held him as close as she could and kissed him one last time. Then she tore herself away and climbed into the boat. She heard him call her name as the boat floated away.

She turned in the boat to look at him as the current carried her away. "Namarie," she called across the ever-growing span of water between them, "until we meet again."

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