Snaga woke to the sunlight in her face. She lifted a hand to block her eyes, but turned the rest of her face toward the open window to drink the light in. She thought of the night before, and an utterly satisfied feeling ran through her body. Snaga smiled and opened her eyes.
She had to find Arwen and tell her. She leaped out of bed, threw a dress on, and ran to the garden. Arwen was there, as Snaga had known she would be, carefully transplanting a sprig of elanor she had brought from Lothlorien. “Arwen!” Snaga called. “Arwen!”
Arwen turned to see her cousin racing toward her and stood. “What?” she asked, brushing the soil off her hands.
Snaga pulled up beside her and caught her breath before saying, with a smile on her face and jubilation in her voice, “I found a name.”
“What?” Arwen cried. She dropped the trowel she’d been holding and threw her arms around Snaga. “What’s the name you picked?”
“I didn’t pick it, it picked me!”
Arwen sighed loudly. “You’re hedging! What’s the name?”
Snaga smiled. “All right. I did want you to be the first to know what it was.” She took a breath before she spoke the name. “Cilyawen.”
Arwen was silent for a moment. Then she murmured, “Maiden of the passage.”
“Exactly. That’s what Galadriel said to me when we left Lothlorien.” She reached behind her for a strand of her hair and started to play with it. “I was having a nightmare last night, and I went out onto the balcony to breathe. Then I remembered, and…” She shrugged. “I can’t explain it. It just came to me.”
Arwen smiled and took her cousin’s hand. “It’s perfect,” she said quietly. “Come in to breakfast, Cilyawen. You can tell Adar and the twins.”
Cilyawen was happy with her family’s reactions to her chosen name. Elrond said nothing, but he smiled at her proudly. Elladan clapped loudly when she told them, and Elrohir let out a cheer. All in all, it was enough to make Cilyawen blush with pleasure for the entirety of breakfast.
Elrond finally put down his spoon and turned to his niece. “Well, Cilyawen, since you’ve picked a name now, I think it should be announced to Rivendell.” He looked at his children. Arwen was thrilled to see a glimmer of mischief in his eyes that had mostly vanished when Celebrian sailed into the West. She wisely said nothing about it, however, but only smiled back. “What do you think?” Elrond went on, directing the question at the twins and Arwen.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Elrohir said instantly. Elladan and Arwen nodded their instant agreement.
“Good,” Elrond said. “Is that suitable for you?” he asked Cilyawen.
“Well…” She still hated being on display, but she had to tell the Elves some time. And maybe she would stop feeling “on display” if she had a proper Elvish name. “All right, then. That’s fine.”
“Tonight, then,” Arwen said quickly. Cilyawen’s eyes widened, and she threw Arwen a scared look. She had been hoping for at least a day to get used to the idea of formally changing her name. “I know you wanted to have time, but we have to do it soon, to make sure you don’t change your mind!” She smiled much too innocently, and Cilyawen scooped a piece of food off her plate and lobbed it at Arwen. It hit her right between the eyes. Arwen’s mouth fell open in shock, but her eyes were dancing.
Elrohir jumped to his feet delightedly. “Wonderful!” he cried, and before Cilyawen knew it, a chunk of meat had slapped her own cheek. She took her plate in both hands and tossed its contents at Elrohir. He ducked, and the missiles meant for him hit Elladan. Elrond beat a hasty retreat as his children and his niece hurled food at each other and laughed until their sides hurt. He took refuge behind a column and watched them, and a laugh began deep down inside him and spilled out as he watched.
Arwen gave a last tug on Cilyawen’s dress to make it hang properly. With such a last-minute ceremony, there had been no time to have a new dress made for her, so Arwen had simply given her one of her own dresses that she had never worn. It suits her coloring better than mine, anyway, Arwen thought, looking proudly at her cousin. Cilyawen was pretty left to her own devices and in practice leathers, but with tiny braids scattered throughout her mass of golden hair and clad in a sky-blue satin dress that brought out the matching color in her eyes, she was absolutely breathtaking. “Here,” Arwen said. “I made it from the flowers in my garden.” She arranged a circlet of pale blue flowers on top of Cilyawen’s hair and stepped back to admire the effect.
Cilyawen bit her lip. “Arwen, I’m not sure this is a good idea -“
Arwen smiled. “Yes, it is. See, this is why we had to have it tonight, so you wouldn’t decide you wanted your name to be `Slave’ forever!” That coaxed a laugh out of her cousin. “Honestly, Cilyawen, would you rather be `Slave’ or `Maiden of the passage’?”
“There really isn’t a choice,” Cilyawen admitted. She took in a deep breath and let it out in a rush. “Thank you, Arwen. For everything.” Arwen looked down modestly. “No, I mean it! Everything. I would still be dying in Mordor if you hadn’t come to get me.” She put her arms around Arwen and hugged her tightly. “Thank you.”
A knock sounded on the door. Arwen gave Cilyawen a quick hug in return and opened it. “Are you ready?” asked Elrond, slipping his head in the open door.
“Ready,” Cilyawen echoed, stepping forward.
Elrond’s eyes widened in surprise, and he smiled. “Come, then,” he said, and Arwen and Cilyawen followed him.
The hall was full. All the Elves in Rivendell were there. Cilyawen’s breath began to come fast and short. Arwen caught her eyes and whispered, “Breathe. It’ll be over soon.” Cilyawen gave her a smile that had in it a large amount of hysterical nerves and turned her eyes back to the hundreds of eyes that had latched onto her from the moment she walked in between Arwen and Elrond. Don’t show fear, she thought. It was an absurdly Mordorian thought, but it worked. She smoothed her face into lines of calm, and imitated Arwen’s gliding walk as they drew near the high table.
Then she saw Elrohir’s face, and she felt like both turning around and running back to her room, and smiling happily. He was keeping his face as calm as she was, but complete astonishment was flowing from his gray eyes, astonishment and awe. Cilyawen took her seat, trying to suppress the hope that had surged up in her at the look in his eyes.
Elrond had not taken his seat. He remained standing in front of it, and Cilyawen was grateful to him as, when he began to speak, all eyes gravitated toward him and away from her. “My fellow Eldar,” he began, his voice carrying powerfully to all corners of the hall, “little more than a month ago, Arwen Undomiel returned from Mordor. With her came her cousin, born of Galadwen of Lorien and imprisoned by the Necromancer in his keep of Dol Guldur. She is returned to her people, and is known to you all as the Lady Aglarfin. Through battle and toil she has come to us, and wishes to choose a name.” He turned to her and motioned for her to stand. “Is this so?”
Her throat was dry, but her voice was incredibly calm as she replied, “It is so.”
Elrond took her hand and held it out in front of her. “Is it your wish to be known henceforth as Cilyawen?”
Her legs were trembling, but there was, as she had told Arwen minutes before now, no choice. “It is my wish.”
Her uncle lifted her hand above her head. “Let there now be known to you, the assembled people of Imladris, and to all Eldar in Middle-earth, Cilyawen, granddaughter of Galadriel, the maiden of the passage!”
Then Cilyawen saw something she had never in her life expected – even dreamed – to see. All the Elves assembled before her, one by one, gravely bowed their heads to her, until she alone had her head raised. Even Elrond, even Elrohir, even Arwen, had bowed their heads. She looked out at the sea of lowered heads and felt her face break into a smile. She was one of them now. They had accepted her.
When they all lifted their heads, she was still smiling.
Halfway through the feast to celebrate her choosing of a name, Cilyawen asked to be excused for a moment. She got up and left the hall for the balcony, choosing a spot out of eyesight of the rest of the banqueters, leaning her elbows onto the railing, and staring out at the stars.
Her mind was a whirl of color and light and jubilance. They had accepted her! She could barely believe it. She was truly an Elf, one of the Eldar. She felt like singing. She closed her eyes and breathed in the cool, clean night air. She tilted her head back to catch the soft breeze on her face and smiled again.
Someone touched her shoulder lightly. Cilyawen knew who it was before he spoke, so she didn’t need to turn around and look at him. “Everyone wants you to come back inside,” Elrohir said softly. “They want you to come back and make the hall bright again.”
He had never spoken to her this way before. Oh, how she had wanted him to, had imagined it while she lay in bed, drifting between sleep and awake. She kept her eyes closed and listened to the words she had longed for him to say to her.
His hand brushed hers, light as a feather. “I told them you might not, but I thought I’d come out and see anyway.” There was the familiar teasing note in his voice. It blended well with the tenderness his voice held now, and it brought her back to reality enough to reply.
“I wanted to be alone.” But as she spoke, she caught at his hand, which still just barely touched hers.
His fingers wrapped around hers. “Shall I go back in and tell them so?”
“No.” She took a step backwards to be closer to him.
“You don’t want to be alone anymore?” he asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
Now she turned around, her hand still in his, and looked deep into his eyes. “No,” she said again, and lifted her lips to his.
He put his arms around her and held her close to him. Sweetness danced through her body, skipping from their joined lips to run through her and suffuse her with a sense of absolute bliss. Her arms slid up to his neck and twined themselves around it. He held her lightly, as though she might break, but she felt completely safe within the circle of his arms.
Finally he broke the kiss, but he kept his arms around her. One hand stole up to touch the pointed tip of her ear, and Cilyawen smiled. Elrohir smiled too, and then they both laughed out loud. Elrohir put an end to the laughter by lowering his mouth to hers again, and she welcomed the second kiss with as much joy as she had the first. The second kiss was full of exuberance and life, and neither of them broke it until they were forced to part and gasp for air. Then, breathless, Elrohir caught both her hands in his and gasp-laughed, “Will you marry me, maiden of the passage?”
Cilyawen’s smile was not only broad, it was ecstatic. “There is no one else I would rather marry,” she answered, and Elrohir caught her by the waist and lifted her up into the air. He twirled her around and around until she was dizzy, and then let her slide down into his arms. She held him close to her, treasuring the feel of his arms around her and his head leaning against hers. The feeling of peace was dissolving into her bones.
Elrohir let out a soft sigh, and his fingers played with a strand of her hair. Cilyawen looked up, amused, and he grinned down at her. “Shall we go back in?” he asked.
“All right,” she agreed, reluctantly loosening her arms. She kept hold of his hand, though.
“After all,” Elrohir added, “they’re all gathered already. What better time to announce our engagement?”
Cilyawen couldn’t hold back her laugh. It slid from between her lips and threw itself out into the sky. She turned back to Elrohir, her eyes dancing. “I love you,” she whisper-laughed, the first of the countless thousands of times she would say those words, and walked back into the hall.