Eldarion had matured much since his sister’s disappearance. He had grown in height, as well as stature. The color of his hair was as dark as night, just like his mother’s, but his eyes were those of a man; his father’s legacy.
The boy sat silently in his lamp-lit room, whittling something clever out of a fallen branch he had taken earlier. It was small, small enough that he could hold it comfortably in his hand. He didn’t really know what he was trying to make, only that he was making something.
Uncle Elladan and Elrohir would be coming later to visit and to hold an audience with the King, as well as their sister, the Queen Undómiel. He had little time before they would arrive, but he was glad for this brief quiet, away from the hustle and bustle of the Citadel.
His parents were becoming almost unbearable now, and all he wished to do was walk out the front door, as Morelen did. Gods, he missed her. Of course he would never admit it to her face; they were vicious to one another. Their fights as children had been brutal, as if one was elf and the other a dwarf. They were both strong-willed and confident, and as such neither of them was “ever wrong.” Many a time an observing servant or either parent would have to step in before somebody became seriously injured.
Morelen, however, figured out quite early on that although her little brother was younger than she, he always managed to win. It didn’t matter that she was older, for he was somehow born faster, stronger.
A few months before she left, she was cold and distant with him, though not to the extent she was with the King and Queen. He missed her companionship, her haughty remarks and even the playful punches she would give him when he would hurl her insults.
Heh, I wonder what Morelen would say now, now that she knows we were born to be mortal enemies. Small wonder we fought so hard as children. He thought to himself, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
I care not what she is; only who she is. She is and always will be, my unbearable older sister. I can only hope she realizes this before it is too late; she was always rather stubborn.
The fact that neither of his parents believed she would return made him want to throw the knife and snap the half-carved branch in two.
It truly astounded him; did they know so little of her, to think that she would just abandon them? Surely they didn’t, they RAISED her! They taught her to speak, to dance, to write, to handle diplomats with poise and grace, to ride a horse, to read, to sing, to be a princess even though she was not born royal. They showed her the world and in so doing learned her mind and her thoughts; and still they could not see that she would, at some point, return to Gondor? To her true family?
It was beyond his comprehension.
Sometimes, he thought himself the only sane person in his household. Or the only insane one. Either way, he cared not.
Finally looking at the wood in his hands to see what he had made, he beheld a miniature girl holding a flower in her hands. Her hair was long and her feet were bare, but her smile seemed so familiar…or perhaps he was just imagining it.
Suddenly, a vivid image flashed in his mind. His senses were blurred and it seemed to him that time came to a complete halt.
Eldarion walked beneath the boughs of the Mellyrn, in what used to be the great wood of Lothlórien. This was his grandparents’ realm, the grandparents he had never met and would never meet. He gently ran his fingers over the trunks of the trees and he sighed, feeling the life of these giants tingle through his fingertips. His hair fell in loose curls to his shoulders and his metallic grey eyes were heavy with many years, their gaze inscrutable. He wore the winged crown of Gondor and his garments were not those of a young boy, but a King. The wood seemed eerie, as though it had once held an unspeakable majesty but now was growing wild. The wind echoed, whispered softly as it rustled the leaves and Eldarion experienced a peace in this place such as he had never known before.
Abruptly, he heard a woman sigh. It was a weary exhale that made Eldarion want to comfort the woman, whoever she was. Turning, he saw her; her thick hair was no longer the color of night, but was instead tinged with grey and silver strands. She was taller than most women, her build athletic, hinting that once she had been a very strong person. Her face was aged but her eyes held that same familiar spark.
He knew this woman.
She had rested her hand on a large but simple stone basin. It was filled to the brim with water, and it was so still that Eldarion could not tell if it was glass or a liquid. The elanor blossoms and other plants had climbed up its base and were now resting near the top of the basin. She picked one of the blossoms and held it gently in her hand.
She beamed at him, and he saw the youth in her again. Contentment seemed to radiate from her, like light does from the sun.
She murmured, “Im gelir, tôr. (I am happy, brother.) My time is come, and I have seen the truth.”
A little confused, he replied, “The truth? What truth?”
But she had left him alone. She was now only a distant mark far ahead, disappearing and reappearing as the far-off trees blocked her image.
For a moment he thought he heard her speak, her voice carried by the wind.
“I know who I am…”
Eldarion gasped. He looked around frantically, not noticing that he had dropped his knife and the carving in his hand. He realized that he was no longer in the woods of Lothlórien, but back in his quarters, lit dimly by the candles. He was still a young man. He could no longer feel the weight of the crown on his head and everything was as it should be.
Could what I saw be real? Eldarion wondered incredulously, quite taken aback by the whole experience.
I know Naneth used to have visions, and her father before her, but what does that mean for me? Sighing, he pondered; if what I saw will come to pass, then one day she will return to us. I always knew she would come back!
His breath caught in his chest and he grinned, suddenly remembering that she had called him “tôr.” Brother. Not Eldarion, but brother.
Of course if I tell my parents about this, they will think that it is just the faith of the young, the hope of one who has not yet seen the terrors of the world.
Feeling more assured of himself, and a little more confident that he was not insane, he silently prayed, I hope that even after I grow old, I will not lose this faith. Sometimes, it is all that keeps a person alive…