Elrond placed the quill on his desk and let the ink dry on the parchment in front of him. It was the last one. He sealed it quickly, once it was dry, and placed it with the other four on his desk. That was all that rested on his desk—the five sealed parchments. He had spent the last two days putting his study in order and cleaning out his desk. He was leaving for Mithlond tomorrow and this room would soon be the refuge of his sons, as they took over the leadership of the dwindling population of Imladris.
He had left one for each of them—Glorfindel, Elladan, Elrohir, Arwen, and Aragorn. There was so much he could not say to them in person without breaking down.
Elrond had long wondered when, and often if, this day would come. There had been many opportunities to sail but he had never really felt the pull of the sea the way he knew Galadriel did. The only time he had wavered was when Celebrian sailed, but he knew at the time that he could not rob his children of both their parents at once and with time that longing had faded.
Perhaps it was his half-Elven blood that dampened the call of the sea-longing. Or his ties to Elros, long dead, but still living in his heart and in the blood of Numenor that ran in Aragorn’s veins. The blood that would run in his grandchildren’s veins as well, finally bringing Elrond together with his twin, in a way.
Grandchildren he knew he would never see. That he did regret. He knew Arwen would speak of him, teach them of their heritage and lineage, but Elrond would never hold them. He would not be present for their births, their naming days, their coming of age celebrations, their marriages. He would also not be present for their eventual deaths and for that he was grateful.
Though his early life had been marred by war and strife, Elrond knew he had been blessed with great love as well. He had loved and lost so many—if he had not had the memory of the Eldar he knew he would have lost count long ago.
Starting with his parents, lost to him when he was almost too young to really remember them. He knew he should feel affection but the years had been long and his time with them short. He still could not suppress a slight twinge of resentment, even so long after, at the choices they had made. He would see them when he arrived on the far shore and even after all this time he had not adequately sorted through his feelings about that.
Elrond was certain he would not find his foster-fathers awaiting him in the West and that he did regret. He had not had word of Maglor for many long years but he did not doubt he still wandered the shores of Middle Earth. Cirdan had seen him last, near Mithlond, in the year before Celebrian sailed. Since then there had been no sightings.
Although Elrond hoped that Maedhros had found peace and been released from Mandos’ Halls he knew that that hope was likely in vain. His many years of healing, spurred initially by his drive to help Maedhros, had taught him that some wounds never fully heal and that those wounded in mind and spirit often have permanence to those hurts. No, he did not expect to find Maedhros to have taken the path to rebirth.
A smile came to his face as he thought of Celebrian. It would be the summit of his heart’s yearning to be again with the one who held part of his soul. Their bond had grown fainter in the centuries that had passed since her departure but he still felt it, a single filament of light that stretched between them.
He had let them all go and he had stayed behind, to fight the long defeat. A defeat that had ended as a victory in so many ways, but the losses were still without number and he felt them in his heart.
His most recent loss was perhaps the hardest. Elrond had always strived to show affection equally to his three children and his foster son as well. But in his heart and in his mind he knew his daughter held a part of his soul that no other did.
Elrond rubbed his forehead. His letters to those closest to him completed, he stood and surveyed his study one last time. Imladris had become what he hoped it would be, all those long years ago, when he had first shared his idea with Gil-Galad and Erestor. It had become the sanctuary, the haven, the place of tranquility, healing, and learning, amidst the darkness. He would miss it.
His fingers brushed lightly across his desk as he walked away towards the door. He closed the door behind him—it was Elladan and Elrohir’s room from now on.
He made his way down the dimly lit, silent corridors. There would be no celebration of song in the Hall of Fire tonight. Those who were leaving were preparing for their journey and those who would remain behind had no heart for songs or tales tonight.
Elrond stopped in front of Arwen’s rooms. Almost without thinking, he opened the door to her chambers and stepped inside. She had taken much with her but still left much behind. His fingers traced the books still on her shelf, the small woodcarvings Aragorn had made for her year after year—using the lonely nights he spent in the Wild to create beautiful objects for the one he loved.
He was sure his sons would soon be boxing this all up, to take to Arwen in Minas Tirith, when next they visited her. He gazed around the room—at her harp, her loom, her bed, and desk. So many memories came to him at once; he almost staggered from the weight of them.
This was the hardest realization—that his daughter, like his beloved brother so long ago, was going where he could not follow. For eternity. The weight of it came over Elrond again, as it had so many times in the many years since she and Aragorn had vowed their hearts to each other. But even the familiarity of it did not lessen the intensity.
This was forever. Sundered from Arwen, from Aragorn—not the son of his blood but most assuredly the son of his heart—forever. A cold shiver went through Elrond as he thought of his twin sons, who had yet to make their choice. It could so easily be all of them, lost to him forever.
He bowed his head and took a few steadying breaths. He would get through this. He had faced loss before. It would hurt him, it would devastate him, it would enrage him, but it would not overpower him. He would always have his memories and his children would always have his love. There was no sacrifice in that.