Elrond lifted a strand of Celebrian’s flaxen hair and rubbed it between his fingers. His wife shifted in her sleep. Running a hand gently over her cheek, the elf-lord silently prayed her dreams would remained untroubled. The ordeal of her kidnapping hung over her like a dark cloud.
He stood from his seat on the edge of their bed and paced over to a window. The light that had once shown from Celebrian had been smothered during her weeks of captivity. She no longer laughed, no longer took pleasure in the world around her. The physical hurts had long since healed and the mental injuries remained. The Lady of Imladris haunted the city; an empty shell of the woman that had benevolently ruled at his side.
“Ada?” Arwen leaned her head against his shoulder. She had come in silently, knowing that her mother needed the rest desperately. “You must let her go.”
In his heart, Elrond knew his daughter was right. He drew his breath in raggedly. “She is wasting away before my eyes, Undomiel. I thought I could heal her, but it wasn’t enough.”
“No, She is alive because of you. You are the reason She is still alive.” Arwen lifted her head and gazed at her father. “Ammë is fading.” She wrapped her arms around his neck. “You brought her back to life. Only the Valar can keep her here.”
Elrond hugged his daughter tightly. “Can I live without her?”
“You will see her again, Ada. She will be happy, and you’ll hear her laugh again. I promise.” Arwen leaned into his hug.
“When did you become so wise?” The elf-lord cupped his daughter’s face in his hands.
“It’s a recent development.”
* * * * *
The journey to the Grey Havens passed slowly. The elven company was silent. Quiet mourning saddened everyone. Were they travelling for any other reason, songs and laughter would have speeded them along. Instead, a blanket of silence covered their road.
Celebrian stared ahead despondently. One hand rested quietly in that of her husbands who road abreast. She hated to leave him. It had always been her intention to stay in Middle-earth and support him for as long as he chose to stay. It wasn’t the call of the sea that was pulling her hence.
She felt nothing. Her heart had not turned to stone. It had simply been ripped away from her. Her entire life had been filled with love and gentle protection. Evil and suffering had been thrust upon her so suddenly. What defiance she had shown the orcs the first few weeks had gradually waned under the constant torture. The grotesque, evil creatures had taken immense pleasure in her vain struggles to defend herself.
* * * * *
The smell of the sea offered small greeting to the group assembled at the harbour. The few days rest that had been accorded to the company had done little to lift their spirits. The Lord and Lady of Imladris stood off to themselves as they said their last goodbyes.
“This isn’t the end,” a single tear slid down Celebrian’s pale cheek. “I must cross this sea, my love. The love we share is all I take with me. Do not mourn long for our parting.” She leaned her forehead against his. “Turn you face to the green world as I could not. Use well the days while you remain here.”
Elrond said nothing for several minutes. His throat constricted. “I love you.” He finally managed.
Celebrian gave him a small smile. “We will meet again at the end of all things.”
* * * * *
A small and silent group watched the white ship sail past the White Towers. The parting had been tearful on both parts. Elrond would always remember seeing his wife standing at the railing of the ship, her golden hair blowing gently in the wind, tears flowing unchecked down her face.