The tall elf-woman stood at the prow of the ship, gazing into the distant West, where the island of Tol Eressëa was barely visible to her keen eyes. Her golden hair flew wildly about her face in the ocean breezes, but she paid it no mind, being lost deep in thought. Her hands gripped the railing tightly as if she was afraid, but that was beneath her dignity. What had she to fear?
Yes, she thought, it had been literal ages since she had seen her father or mother, and there were angry words spoken between them at their last meeting.
“Surely you will come back with us, Artanis?”
Her father had pleaded with her to no avail, as one by one all his children refused to return to Tirion, in spite of the Prophecy of the North, in spite of the Kinslaying.
“Would you have me stay to play the dutiful daughter while all my brothers seek realms of their own to rule? Nay, father, there is nothing I desire in Valinor.”
And she had simply turned from him without so much as a goodbye, and paid no heed to her mother’s tears.
For many mortal years now, what she had desired most was to return to Valinor, and now at last she was almost within sight of those blessed shores. Behind her she left a world whose treasures were fading, but oh there had been glorious days! She had indeed ruled in her turn, but there were sorrows which weighed more heavily as the years dragged on, and she alone of her parents’ offspring was alive to return to Aman. Leaving Arda was also a bittersweet parting, as her husband was not yet ready to forsake his beloved forests for a place he knew not. But Galadriel knew she was going home, and eagerly awaited seeing her daughter once more. She was wiser now, and the Lady of Lothlorien hoped that the small but vital part she played in the defeat of Sauron would atone for her youthful arrogance.
Elrond came to stand beside her, his grey eyes also fixed on some point in the distant West. Galadriel alone knew how it grieved him to be parted from Celebrían, and yet he would have to tell her that she would never see her daughter Arwen sail West to join them.
The familiar fragrance of flowers that grew only in Aman began to float towards them on the breeze. Galadriel could feel it touch some deep part of her which she had almost forgotten through the ages. Lothlorien had been her proudest achievement, but not even her golden Mellyrn could compete with the flowers of Valinor.
As the glistening white city of Avallónë, with its graceful tower became visible, Galadriel lifted up her arms to the West and sang a song of Aman in her rich contralto voice. It seemed she heard soft singing from across the waves, as in reply.
At last the white ship reached the Haven of Avallónë on Tol Eressëa, and Mithrandir was the first to disembark, bringing with him the two halflings, one on each side. Upon the shore they were greeted with songs and garlands of flowers, but Galadriel paid this little heed. Her eyes were busy searching the crowd assembled. Surely her parents and Celebrían would know of her coming, wouldn’t they? Would they have sailed from Tirion to greet her? Now that she had been a mother, she understood how much it must have pained her parents to see every last one of their children turn from them and follow Fingolfin’s host.
There was laughter and singing and many meetings of kin long sundered as the elves on board ship made their way to the shore, but Galadriel’s posture stiffened. They had not come. Perhaps she would need to seek for them and beg for their forgiveness. Though she had never regretted her decision to leave, she had come to regret the manner of her parting from Finarfin and Eärwen.
The harps and flutes played on, and if she had not been so preoccupied with her own thoughts, Galadriel might have recognized many a tune she knew in her youth. But Elrond got her attention when he touched her arm and whispered urgently, “Look!”
Following his gaze, Galadriel could see a white ship like a swan come gliding towards them from Valinor. As the ship drew nearer, her heart leapt within her as she recognized her daughter Celebrían. Elrond took her arm and the two of them walked as quickly as seemed dignified to meet the newly arriving ship, where Celebrían was the first to disembark and ran to embrace first Elrond and then Galadriel, her eyes bright with joy. She seemed to be completely healed from the terrible shadow that had fallen over her during the time she was abducted and wounded by orcs.
Galadriel was so glad to see her daughter that she scarcely noticed the other passengers leaving the ship, but then the sound of trumpets got her attention.
“Ele i Noldóran ar i Noldotári!” The herald announced the King and Queen of the Noldor, and Galadriel looked up to see her own father and mother, regally attired, making their way down the long gangplank towards her.
Her plea for forgiveness was on her lips, but she didn’t need it. Both Finarfin and Eärwen came straight to their daughter and embraced her most welcomingly.
“Nerwen.” Eärwen spoke the name she had given to her daughter lovingly as she stepped back to look at Galadriel. “I hoped that you would return to us.”
“I am glad to be back.” Galadriel said, and meant it, looking fondly at both her parents. “Long ages have passed.”
“Did you find what you sought across the sea, dearest Daughter?” Finarfin asked quietly.
“Yes, Father.” Galadriel answered proudly, and she knew that she had.
There was so much she wanted to tell them that she scarcely knew where to begin. For once she felt completely at a loss for words.
Sensing her daughter’s dilemma, Eärwen spoke comfortingly, “You don’t have to tell us everything now. We do have forever together, after all.”
Forever! Once that word would have sounded like a curse, but now Galadriel’s heart leapt within her to think that she would spend forever in blessed Aman surrounded by most of those whom she loved.
Pulling both of her parents close on either side, her usually calm voice quavered slightly with emotion as she said, “I am finally ready for forever.”
Fanciful names from J.R.R. Tolkien’s collective works (c) The Tolkien Estate. All other material (c)2002 Ellen Denham.