Starry Twilight - Chapter Five - The Grey Havens
Sorry everyone for the long wait. Its very difficult for me to write when I'm at camp all summer . . . but here it is at long last. Now that summer's about over, and I'm heading back to school, I should be able to write more easily. (nothing else to do when its frigid outside.
Shadows danced on the balcony, led by the flickering flames of the Hall of Fire. Tinel had heard about it all her life, but the simple beauty of the room, and the atmosphere it created defied description. A soft sigh escaped her. Rivendell was a place of simple, yet graceful beauty, so different from the grandeur of Lothlorien. Again she had the odd feeling that this was her true home, that this is where she should always have been.
She looked down in to the garden, thinking about the day she and Elrohir had experienced, exploring every inch of the garden, laughing more than she had ever before laughed in her life. Already Elrohir was such a dear friend. She did not know how she had passed her whole life thus far without him. He sympathized with everything, her frustrations with the restrictions put upon females, her love of the absurd in life, even her reluctance to leave Middle Earth before she had experienced her fill.
She half turned back to the Hall of Fire, but the joyous songs of the day and evening had given way to more melancholy music, as the time to leave drew nearer. Even those who had felt the call of the Sea, and wished to leave were mourning their departure. Who wouldn't? Tinel wondered, Rivendell was their home, and they would never see it again. It was indeed a time of bittersweet feelings.
"My lady?" Tinel turned to see one of the twins standing in the doorway, his tall slender frame silhouetted by the firelight. From his hesitance she knew it was Elladan.
"I thought we had agreed you were to call me Tinel," she said smiling.
"I beg your pardon, it is so," he paused, then added softly, "Tinel."
"That's better. What was it that you wished?" she asked, not bothering to mask her curiosity, for she knew quite well that hiding her emotions was beyond her.
"I wished to introduce you to someone, I believe you will very much enjoy his acquaintance, and he will be leaving with the company, so you have not long to know him."
She smiled brightly, "I am always glad to meet new people, lead the way!" and she slipped her small hand into his larger one. For a moment he looked startled, then he turned and led her back into the Hall.
She found her eyes locked upon his countenance as they wove through the crowd that gathered round the huge basin of fire that stood in the center of the room. He and Elrohir looked so alike, but they were in manner so different, Elrohir, boisterous and boyishly charming, and Elladan, quiet and steady.
Elladan guided her to a small alcove where a tiny figure rested, draped in a warm shawl. His curly hair was grey, nearly white, and thinning on top. Tinel's lips parted in awe. She had seen a hobbit before, four of them. She had been among those who had woven the cloaks for the Fellowship of the Ring, and had herself placed the cloak about the shoulders of the smallest of the hobbits, Pippin his name had been. But even as she had fastened the pin to secure the cloak, her eyes had been drawn to the other, Frodo, the Ringbearer, the one who had been chosen to save Middle Earth.
This hobbit, sleeping amidst the Hall of Fire, drew her in the same way. It was obvious that this must be Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit who had taken the Ring from the creature Gollum. He had held the Ring for nigh on eighty years, and then given it up freely. She marveled at the strength that must have taken, for even she, in the brief time she had been near it, and without seeing it, had felt the pull of its power.
Elladan released her hand, and reached out to gently shake the hobbit awake. "Master Bilbo," he whispered, "The Lady Tindomiel wishes to make your acquaintance."
Bilbo blinked blearily in the light, then slowly rose to his feet, his legs quavered beneath him, and Elladan put his hand under the old hobbit's elbow to aid him.
Tinel almost reached out her own arm to also help, but he was then on his feet, making her an elegant, if a little shaky, bow.
"My lady, it is an honor to meet the daughter of the Starry Twilight. It is obvious that your name suits you, for your hair is like the gold which chases the dark from the sky, and the stars glisten in your eyes," his voice quavered with age, but his manner was confident, and his eyes fairly glowed with an inner light. Tinel was charmed.
"You are most gallant, good sir," Tinel replied, unable to keep the laughter from her voice, and she swept a graceful curtsey.
"I beg your pardon for sitting in your presence, my lady," he said, as he moved back to the bench, "But I am not so spry as I once used to be. Why I traveled the goblin tunnels, and fought spiders, and tricked a dragon. Have you perhaps heard my tale? I am sorry you did not come in the old days," he continued without waiting for an answer, his mind flying from one subject to the next as a butterfly moves from flower to flower, "For I might then have gifted your beauty with a song, but in recent times I have found myself more given to thinking and listening than to writing and singing." Tinel looked up at Elladan, who mouthed the word, "sleeping."
"I am honored that you would wish to contemplate putting me in a song," Tinel said softly, touched by his gallantry even as she struggled not to laugh at Elladan's sly comment. The son of Elrond was looking down at the hobbit, and there was no mistaking the fondness in his gaze. And indeed, already the hobbit's curly silver head was drooping again, as sleep sought to claim him.
"Do you know," he murmured, "on the twenty-second of this month I shall have lived longer than the Old Took, the longest-lived of all hobbits. That is quite an accomplishment. Yes. Quite an accomplishment." The last words faded on a whisper, and Bilbo slept.
Tinel's eyes danced, she had never been so close to one whom time had affected so. Suddenly her heart clenched. The old hobbit's words took on a suddenly ominous meaning. "The longest-lived of all hobbits." Hobbits did not in general live much past their hundredth year. In a short amount of time Bilbo would pass from this world, not as the Elves did, merely sailing from these shores, but in death.
Elladan started at the suddenly stricken look that entered Tinel's eyes. He was so used to seeing them dancing with laughter that the sorrow took him completely by surprise, and he reached out to gently take her hand into both of his.
"Tinel, what is the matter?" he asked softly, horrified to see tears well up in her hazel eyes.
"How can they bear it?" she whispered.
He hesitated, confused as to her meaning, "Bear it?" he queried.
"To know that in only a few years their time will be completely over, that there's no coming back. No reunion with loved ones. How can Arwen have chosen that?"
Elladan's heart constricted at the mention of his sister. How he would miss her. But he understood her decision. He was perhaps the only member of his family who did. Certainly Elrohir and their father did not, and who knew what their mother would say when she found out. It was odd that Elrohir could so little understand Arwen's decision, all through their youth it was Elrohir who was closest to their baby sister. It was not until she met the young ranger, in his true guise of Aragorn, and found she could not confide in Elrohir, that she turned to the eldest of her siblings. That shared secret had cemented a bond which had been lacking in their growing up years, a bond that he believed would outlast even her death.
But what would have suddenly brought this subject to Tinel's mind? He looked down at the sleeping hobbit, and comprehension dawned. Bilbo would not live much longer, as the Elves reckoned time, though it might be several more years if he survived the voyage to Valinor. There was no telling what the effects of the Ring would be.
The thought that his friend would not live much longer was sad to Elladan, but he had spent enough time with mortals that it was not as devastating to him as it was to the more sheltered Tindomiel. He was at a loss as to what to do to comfort her. She was gazing at him so pleadingly, her eyes made bright by her tears.
"I don't know," he said softly, finally responding to her questions. He spread his hands wide as he spoke, as a gesture of helplessness, but she took it to be an invitation, and moved forward. His arms wrapped about her automatically, and she buried her head in his shoulder.
Confusion filled him at feeling her soft form so close to his, confusion accompanied by a strange warmth and peacefulness.
"I think," he found himself saying, "that death is not so hard for them as for us."
She raised her head to look at him, though she remained within the circle of his arms. Her eyes were clear and guileless, but filled with confusion. "What do you mean?" she asked, "We don't die . . . not really. Our souls go to the Halls of Mandos, theirs are lost forever."
"Not that death is hard for us, but that their deaths are hard for us to understand. Just because they don't go to the Halls of Mandos we assume that they are lost, but I have been around many mortals who have died, . . . mortals whom I have cared for deeply, and I do not feel that they are lost to me."
"I don't understand," she said, her voice turned thoughtful, "how can they not be lost? Their souls are gone."
"That's what I mean. I don't believe their souls are gone. They don't go to Mandos as we do, but I think that instead they remain with us; they remain here." He placed one hand over his heart.
"I still don't understand," Tinel said softly, "But I don't think I will until I have known someone closely who dies, . . ." she paused, then said vehemently, "and I don't want to."
Elladan opened his mouth to respond to this, how he knew not, but a deferential voice spoke from the doorway, "My lady, my lord, Lord Elrond wishes me to tell you that it is time to leave."
Tinel stepped from his arms, leaving him feeling oddly bereft.
"Of course Suiadan," he said to the Elf who stood waiting.
"My lord wishes you to see that master Bilbo is made ready," Suiadan said, bowing as he backed away.
"Of course," Elladan said again.
Tinel rode Culumalda quietly beside Elrohir. At first he had chatted to her merrily, but thankfully he seemed to notice her abstraction and refrained from talking to her much. Every now and again, during the last few days she had rallied and cheered both himself and herself, for she could not remain solemn for too long, but she was filled with confusion, both from Elladan's words, and the strange sensations she had felt while being cradled within his arms. Her face burned with embarrassment at her forwardness, making her glad for the lingering darkness. Goodness, she had practically forced him to embrace her! But it had felt so right. She had felt so depressed, and such need for comfort that when he opened his arms she had instinctively entered them. What he must think of her!
With Elrohir it might have been one thing, he would have teased a little, but eventually laughed it off, but Elladan was so reserved, he must be completely shocked.
At that moment Elladan turned to smile at her. All her worries washed away. How could she have doubted his friendship would continue. He was after all Elrohir's brother, they could not be so dissimilar that he would take amiss her seeking comfort from him.
She beamed back at him, secure in the knowledge that she now had two very dear friends, friends upon whom she knew she could rely forever.
Elladan was riding next to a slumbering Bilbo, guiding his small grey pony. Before him rode Elrond, Galadriel and Celeborn. Tinel had been surprise to see that Elrond and Galadriel now wore their rings openly. Then she was annoyed at her own surprise, for there was now no reason to hide their light, or what remained of it.
Suddenly, amidst the trees before them she heard a single clear voice singing:
Still round the corner there may wait
Anew road or a secret gate;
and though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.
What strange, sad words, she thought to herself, even as the company began singing, as if in answer:
A! Elbereth Gilthoniel!
silivren penna miriel
o menel aglar elenath,
Gilthoniel, A! Elbereth!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees
The starlight on the Western Seas.
The trees parted, and Tinel was able to see two small figures mounted on sturdy little ponies. Her heart leaped as she recognized the Ringbearer and his faithful companion Samwise.
Elrond greeted them gravely and graciously, and Galadriel smiled upon them. "Well, Master Samwise," she said, "I hear and see that you have used my gift well. The Shire shall now be more than ever blessed and beloved." Sam bowed, and Tinel thought back carefully to what the hobbit's gift had been. Ah yes, the box of earth. Tinel wondered to what use he had put it to be so praised. But she was not to know, for Bilbo then woke up and opened his eyes.
"Hullo, Frodo!" he said, "Well, I have passed the Old Took today! So that's settled. And now I think I am quite ready to go on another journey. Are you coming?"
Tinel's heart hammered, was Frodo then going to the Havens as well?
"Yes, I am coming," said Frodo. "The Ring-bearers should go together."
"Where are you going, Master?" cried Sam, but as Tinel looked at him she saw comprehension in his gaze, and fear.
"To the Havens, Sam," said Frodo.
"And I can't come." There was heartbreak in his voice.
"No, Sam. Not yet anyway, not further than the Havens. Though you too were a Ring-bearer, if only for a little while. Your time may come. Do not be too sad, Sam. You cannot always be torn in two. You will have to be one and whole, for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do."
Frodo's words struck a chord in her heart, and, was it her imagination, or did Galadriel choose just that moment to connect her gaze to Tinel's?
"But," said Sam, and tears started in his eyes, "I thought you were going to enjoy the Shire, too, for years and years, after all you have done."
"So I thought too, once. But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them." There was a pause, then, "Come now, ride with me!"
And so they rode on, filled with a sadness that was yet blessed and without bitterness. They passed from the Shire, going about the south skirts of the White Downs, to the Far Downs, and to the Towers, and looked on the distant Sea. Here Tinel was fearful of what her first sight of the Sea would bring, but she still felt no desire to leave her home. Her time was truly not yet, and it was with relief that she rode down at last to Mithlond, to the Grey Havens in the long firth of Lune.
There they met Cirdan, who led them to a white ship, and upon the quay beside a grey horse stood a figure robed all in white awaiting them. Mithrandir also wore openly upon his hand Narya the Great, the ring of fire. Yet again Tinel's heart was filled with misgiving, for she realized that his presence here meant that he too would be sailing for the West.
Suddenly she felt strangely alone, for everyone about her were bidding their loved ones farewell. Celeborn stood with Galadriel, and Tinel watched them until they moved for a farewell kiss, when she felt she ought to give them their privacy, then she turned to Elladan and Elrohir, but they were hugging their father.
Why had she come? She wondered miserably, she had no one to whom she had to bid farewell. She should have remained in Rivendell. But then she recalled that there was, as yet, no one there, and she would be even more lonesome there.
Then she saw that Frodo was boarding the ship, waving farewell to the three hobbits who now stood on the shore beside her (when had the other two come?) and she knew that it had all been worth it to see the Ring-bearer's last moments in Middle Earth.
The sails were drawn up, and the wind blew, and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth; and the light of the glass of Galadriel the Frodo had glimmered and was lost. Tinel and the other Elves stood for a long time, not speaking, hardly noticing when the hobbits slipped away, their less keen eyesight making it futile for them to remain.
She noticed thankfully when Celeborn's arm went around her shoulders, seeking comfort as well as giving it, and, at long last, as tindome was in the air, the foursome turned, mounted their horses, and rode into the dawn.