Arwen looked at the ground, choking back sobs. Gently her father raised her chin and looked into her large liquid eyes. His heart was wrenched with pity and sorrow for both his daughter and himself, for this was to be their last meeting. They would not see each other again, even in death.
“Nemariae” he said quietly, and turned to descend the hill, but his daughter clung to him with a heart-rending cry. “Don’t leave me” she sobbed, her shoulders shaking. “Don’t go.”
“Arwen” he said softly, “you have to let me go. Yours is the choice of Luthien, and you have taken the bitter with the sweet. Goodbye, my lovely daughter.”
He turned away so that she would not see his own tears, for he loved and treasured his beautiful daughter more than anything than walked the earth.
He looked towards the West where Celebrian was. He would find peace with her there at last, but his wife would be heartbroken to discover that her only daughter would not be accompanying him. What Elrond really wanted to do was to hold his daughter and beg her to come with him, but he had to be strong for the both of them.
He would miss her so much…
Arwen had sunk to the ground, clutching his hand. He stooped and lightly kissed her forehead. “Arwen” he said softly, his last words to her, and he turned to walk slowly down the hill. The last touch of his daughter he felt was her cold slim hand slipping from his. The last sounds he heard from her were her heartbroken sobs as she huddled on the ground. He kept walking, his robes swishing methodically.
Oh my Arwen. Do you see what you are doing to me?
Perhaps one day she would.
Several years later…
Arwen turned to see her little son standing beside her, in dark breeches and a loose white linen shirt. He walked over to her and clung to her robes.
“Mama” he said, peering up at her, “where is Papa?”
Arwen smiled down at him. “Why, he arrived back from Ithilien last night when you were asleep, darling. He’s over there now…”
She indicated the silhouette of her husband standing on the sunlit balcony, and Eldarion ran towards his father with a cry of joy.
Aragorn, with his hands clasped behind his back as he gazed over Minas Tirith, turned as he heard Eldarion. Smiling with delight, Aragorn scooped his little son up and whirled him in the air. Eldarion’s mop of curly dark air bobbed up and down as he laughed as Aragorn kissed him on the cheek.
Arwen gasped. For she had had this vision years ago, on her journey to the Havens. It had convinced her to turn back to be with Aragorn.
Suddenly, Aragorn and Eldarion were fading, and the white stone walls had turned to green shrubs and plants. Arwen was frightened as she turned around, searching for a way out of this strange place…
Then she recognised the little stone bridge over the clear water, lit by green sunlight filtering through the trees. It was Rivendell, and the bridge where she had given the Evenstar necklace to Aragorn. And there –
It was her father, Elrond. He was standing on the bridge, his dark hair falling about his shoulders. Suddenly he turned, and Arwen saw a young child of about Eldarion’s age running over the little bridge towards Elrond. He laughed and picked her up, and the child turned her face towards Arwen. With a shock, as she saw the wondrous flower-shaped jewel around the girl’s neck, she realised it was herself, two thousand years ago.
The little girl stared solemnly into Arwen’s eyes, her dark curls waving in an unfelt breeze, as Eldarion had looked reproachfully into his mother’s in the vision…
And this vision – of the past, it seemed, not the future – was changing, and Arwen was looking at herself again, a young teenage elf, her long dark hair pulled back in a thick and elaborate plait, scraped behind pointed ears. She was holding Elrond’s hand as they walked through the gardens of Rivendell, and every tall and gracious and ages-old Elf they passed smiled and looked upon the young daughter of Elrond and Celebrian in awe and wonder of the beauty she was going to be.
And the vision changed again. Arwen was sitting on her bed in a dark room, holding her father tightly as she told him through her tears that she would do his will and pass into the West…
As suddenly as they had come, the visions were gone, and Arwen was looking at her smiling husband and son as Aragorn walked towards her with Eldarion in his arms.
Aragorn wrapped an arm around her shoulders, crushing Eldarion against her chest. He cooed and wrapped a strand of her hair around his chubby fist.
“I sawed a woman, Mama,” he said seriously. “She was in a forest, on a white horsie.
She looked like you.”
Aragorn looked confused, but Arwen shook her head at him, marvelling. So Eldarion really had seen her, when she had she had seen him. She had looked into the future and he had looked into the past…
Aragorn looked closely at his wife. “Are you all right?”
She nodded, not meeting his eyes. “I’m fine” she replied untruthfully. She was shaken from the sight of the visions of the past she’d just had.
Why had she had them?
She knew. Deep inside her she knew. Her father would be leaving for the Grey Havens very soon. And the bond between herself and her father Elrond was stronger than she had known. She was not ready to let him go, probably she never would.
She could feel the Sea calling her, calling her home, but her place was here, with her husband and child. She could almost taste the salt on her tongue, the sea breeze stirring her hair. She could hear the cry of the gulls.
She could sense her father’s presence…
Aragorn touched her face gently. “What is really?”
And she told him.
Arwen stood on the point of the Citadel, her dress and hair flying in the wind. Tears streamed down her face.
“Father!” she cried, the wind carrying her voice away. “Ada!”
Elrond hesitated as he stepped onto the ship. His mother-in-law, Galadriel floated by him in a heavy white cloak. Somewhere, from a very great distance away, he could hear a loved one calling his name.
Then he saw her, his beautiful Arwen. She was standing in front of him. Her long dark hair streamed out behind her in an unseen wind as she reached out to him. She was clad in a simple bright periwinkle blue gown with a long yellow belt. The Evenstar necklace glimmered at her chest.
He looked at her dark tear-filled eyes, that beautiful clear blue-grey colour. He moved closer to his only daughter, entranced.
He shook his head and moved away. Was she trying to keep him in Middle-earth? The sea was calling him home, and calling her too, although she resisted it, but he alone knew that her place was beside him on this boat. He could almost see her beside him, wearing her midnight-blue velvet cloak, with the hood drawn over her face as she prepared to leave Middle-Earth forever, the last journey of Arwen Undomiel.
He bowed his head. His heart ached for his daughter. He could not leave without her blessing, for he knew that she still longed for him, and he longed for her…
But now she was beckoning, and he could see that she was now holding the Evenstar in her hand, holding it towards him. He reached out and took it, but felt nothing but air. It was, after all, only a vision. He smiled and reached out to stroke her cheek.
Go with my blessing, Father.
Stay with my blessing, Daughter.
Nemariae, they whispered together, their voices mingling and carrying across the wind over Middle-Earth and further, a whisper, rustling in leaves and tinkling in running waters, from a father to a daughter, from a daughter to a father, wishing each other the best in their lives, their separate lives, but the memory would be evergreen forever in their minds.
And as his beautiful daughter faded from the deck of the ship, she smiled through her tears, and he smiled back, and then she was gone, a passing sigh in the wind.
Elrond felt something cold and hard in his hand. Slowly, he unfurled his fingers, and the Evenstar shone in his hand, the very spirit and beauty of his daughter.
He had been wrong. She would always be with him.
He looked around the boat. Gandalf was leading Frodo onto deck. Galadriel turned and fixed her gaze upon him, a knowing smile lurking at the corners of her mouth. She inclined her head slightly to him.
And as the Havens faded out of sight, along with the three hobbits, Elrond touched the pendant now around his neck, and let Arwen go.
As Arwen walked back along the Citadel Aragorn ran to meet her and twirled her in the air. She laughed down at him, the sun shining through her hair, her eyes and mouth laughing. He set her lightly on the ground and looked thoughtfully at her.
“You’ve changed,” he told her.
“I’m free,” she said. “Free to live and to love, till whatever doom may come at the end.”
She placed her hands on his shoulders and kissed him, long and hard.
They broke apart, slowly, letting their noses slide away from each other’s, and they looked down at Eldarion, who was surveying them with an expression of disgust, his little nose wrinkled.
Aragorn chuckled, and settled his son in one arm, smiling. Arwen looked long and hard at his smile, the very essence of his being, and her heart ached with love for him. She leaned her dark head against Aragorn’s, basking in peace and bliss.
“Naneth” said Eldarion, “what happened to that stupid girly necklace you gaved me?”
“I’m sorry, El” said Arwen. “I’m afraid I gave it away to somebody else.” Her eyes met Aragorn’s, and she knew that he understood. He did not have to ask.
“Good” said Eldarion.
“Why? Did you not like it?”
“No” said Eldarion. “It was a dumb necklace” and he snuggled up to his father’s shoulder.
Aragorn slipped a strong arm around Arwen’s slim waist, feeling the soft thick ends of her hair brush his sleeve. He turned his face towards hers, and they kissed again, tenderly.
And with Eldarion in one of Aragorn’s arms, and holding Arwen in his other, they all made their way back up the Citadel.
Farewell, Father. We have let each other go, to live in different lands. Perhaps you were right about me, and the Doom of Men will seem hard at the ending. But come it will, and I shall live my life to the very best with my husband and child, without you. I will never see you again, for you have passed into the West to be with Naneth, and your kin, my kin. But my choice is made. Nemariae, Ada, my dear.
I will never see you again.
But perhaps in my dreams.