And It Was Light Again by StarLight|
Summary: It was dark when she left, and it has been dark ever since. Until a little boy appeared and lit a candle in a place where all light had been long forgotten.
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the characters that appear in this story. The passage in italics is taken from the appendix.
He often wondered why she chose to sail on a night like this, when all stars were hidden behind the gloomy clouds, and the darkness wrapped itself around the world like a thick blanket. Perhaps it just happened so. And yet, perhaps she had chosen it on purpose. Perhaps she wanted to remember Middle-earth this way – dark and gloomy – because there was no light left for her here.
As they walked through the woods, his soft glow was the only light showing the way. Celebrían’s glow was gone completely. There was no wind, and the clouds did not move and stood there as if they wanted to cover all stars in an impenetrable blanket for all eternity. Perhaps it was better this way.
At last they reached the Havens, where a ship was waiting, ready to sail. Torches were lit and the fire threw a bright glow over her hair, making it shine like molten gold. Elrond caught his breath. For a moment she looked as she always had, as if nothing had happened. And then his gaze moved to her eyes, and his heart shattered into pieces. The emptiness he saw there made his blood turn cold.
“I wish I could come with you,” he said softly, hoping that his voice did not sound as hollow as he felt.
Celebrían shook her head, making the light play in her golden strands. “It is not your time yet. You are needed here. The children need you.”
Elrond sighed. “I will come to you one day,” he said passionately. “And the children too. You will not be alone forever.”
“Maybe,” she said thoughtfully. “Their choice still lies ahead.”
Elrond frowned and wondered what she meant. Even though he also bore the gift of foresight, his abilities could never compare to those of Galadriel’s daughter. But he decided not to ask. At that moment his heart was troubled with other thoughts.
He bent forward and kissed her gently. Celebrían stiffened and could not return the kiss, something she had never done before. Elrond closed his eyes and let a single tear roll down his cheek. He could feel that all life and love had left her, and he could only hope that she would find healing in the Undying Lands.
And when the white sails disappeared in the darkness, he fell on his knees and buried his face in his hands.
“I will see you again,” he whispered. “I promise.”
Elrond returned to his study and put out all the candles. In nights dark as this one she always used to light as many candles as she could find, letting the room bathe in their cheerful glow. But he could not bear anything that would remind him of her.
After she sailed he was never able to sleep at night if clouds concealed the moon and stars completely. Instead, he always left his bedroom and walked to his study, where he gazed through the window until dawn came.
Arwen left for Lothlórien shortly after her mother’s departure. She could not feel at home in Rivendell anymore. He wished he could leave too. He wished no one needed him here, but the choice was made for him.
Thankfully, Elladan and Elrohir stayed. He suspected that they stayed only for his sake, and although this thought was all but comforting, a part of his heart was selfishly glad. He would never bear losing them all at once.
The night was dark as the one when Celebrían had sailed. The moon was hidden behind an impenetrable veil and not a single star could be seen. As usual, Elrond had walked to his study, and stood there motionless amongst piles of books and parchments.
This time, however, something was different. His heart was clenched with dark foreboding, and he could not understand the source of his fear.
He shook his head with a sigh. It was the night, nothing more. He always felt afraid and insecure on nights such as this. And yet, his fears never left him. He could feel a dark cloud coming forward, ready to wrap them all in its shadow.
The knock on the door almost made him jump. He hastened to open and froze when he saw his son. What was Elrohir doing here in the middle of the night? He was supposed to be with the Rangers.
And then his gaze found the younger elf’s and the haunted grey eyes told him everything. His forebodings had not been for nothing. Something terrible had happened.
“We were ambushed by orcs,” Elrohir whispered. “Arathorn is dead.”
Elrond paled, but swiftly closed his eyes, and when he opened them he was composed once again. “What about Gilraen and the child?” He asked. “Are they safe?”
“They are safe.” His son nodded. “We brought them here. I thought they needed protection.”
“You have done well,” Elrond said and strode past his son. He wanted to see for himself that his guests were unhurt.
The scene that greeted him nearly broke his heart. Gilraen was sitting there, holding in her lap a little boy with dark, wavy hair. The child looked at him with large, curious eyes, but the elven lord paid him little attention. All he could see was the woman who had just lost her beloved, just like he had so many years ago. In Gilraen’s eyes he could see the same emptiness he could feel in his heart.
And he knew the bitter truth. This poor woman would linger in darkness forever, just like him.
Gilraen suddenly noticed him and nodded in greeting. She looked at her son. “Aragorn, this is Lord Elrond. He will take care of us now.”
The boy blinked. “Lod Ewond!” The two-year-old repeated triumphantly. And then the miracle happened. A sparkle appeared in Gilraen’s eyes, a sparkle he had thought lost forever. His gaze shifted towards the boy.
“We need to give him a new name,” he said sadly. “His own is not safe anymore.” His lips curled into a mirthless smile. He could think of a very fitting name.
And then he knew that he had been wrong. Gilraen would never linger in darkness as he had. She had her hope to light the way for her.
He could only hope that he would find his own light one day.
It was a starless night, and Elrond stood in his study as usual. This time, however, there was a storm and the complete darkness was penetrated by occasional bolts of lightning.
Elladan and Elrohir were with the Rangers, and Gilraen had gone with them to visit Halbarad’s mother. The elven lord had gladly offered to take care of three-year-old Estel in her absence. So far the boy had behaved as well as could be expected and had gone to bed early without too much protest.
Suddenly the door of his study burst open, and there stood a bare-footed and disheveled child. Elrond sighed. So much for Estel behaving well.
“Thewe aw dwagons fighting in the sky, ada,” the boy mumbled and looked at him with huge, scared eyes.
Elrond smiled. He could not remember when ‘Lod Ewond’ has turned into ‘ada’ for the first time, but he was pleased with the change. “These are no dragons, Estel,” he said. “These are bolts of lightning.”
The boy frowned. “Yes, but what makes them. Dwagons?”
The elven lord shook his head. “It is not dragons. It is the rainy clouds in the sky that make them.”
“Then what makes the clouds? Dwagons?” Estel asked but suddenly forgot his question and looked around confused. “Ada, why is it so dawk hewe?”
Elrond turned serious at once. “It is because this night reminds me of someone I love. She left a long time ago, long before you were born.”
“But she will come back?” The boy asked hopefully.
“No, Estel,” the elf answered sadly. “She will never come back.”
“Oh.” Estel briefly bowed his head in grief, but raised it almost immediately, his eyes beaming with curiosity. “Did she like dawk places?”
Elrond smiled sadly. “No. She hated darkness. She always lit all the candles she could find.”
The child’s eyes widened in confusion. “Then what aw you waiting fo?” He mumbled, grabbed a candle from a candlestick and rushed out.
“Estel, wait!” Elrond shouted in horror as he realized what the boy was about to do. He quickly followed, but apparently not quickly enough because Estel had entered the Hall of Fire, and was kneeling in front of the fireplace.
The elven lord did not want the three-year-old anywhere near the fire, but it was too late to stop him. Estel stuck the candle into the flames, and raised it triumphantly. It was burning, but a large part of it was melting as well. Hot wax was falling on the tender skin of the child’s hand, but Estel did not seem to notice. He rushed back to Elrond’s study, proudly carrying the burning candle, and the elven lord looked after him in wonder.
Estel quickly started to light all candles in the room, and looked around satisfied when he was done. “See, ada!” He cried, while peeling off some wax that had solidified on his hand. “It is not dawk anymowe! It is light again!”
Elrond looked away and brushed a tear that had rolled down his cheek. “You are right, Estel,” he finally said. “It is light again. She would have loved it.”
When had this sweet and innocent child grown into the man who now stood before him? When had his light, his hope, turned into someone who would rob him of everything, someone who would extinguish all light that had ever been burning in his heart?
And, most of all, why did he still love this man who would steal away his hope just as much as he had loved the little child who had lit those candles forty-six years ago?
“You have pledged your troth,” he said. It was not a question.
Aragorn bowed his head. “I have come to seek your approval, my lord. And although my heart will always belong to your daughter, I shall let her go if you tell me to.”
“My son” Elrond said softly. “Years come when hope will fade, and beyond them little is clear to the. And now a shadow lies between us. Maybe, it has been appointed so, that by my loss the kingship of Men may be restored. Therefore, though I love you, I say to you: Arwen Undómiel shall not diminish her life's grace lot less cause. She shall not be the bride of any Man less than the King of both Gondor and Arnor. To the men even our victory can bring only sorrow and parting - but to you hope of joy for a while. For a while. Alas, my son! I fear that to Arwen the Doom of Men may seem hard at the ending.”
The ranger nodded and left, but there was gratitude in his eyes. This was more than what he had hoped for.
Elrond stared after the retreating man, feeling torn like never before. One half of his heart desired his Estel to succeed and to rise above all his ancestors as he deserved. And yet, the darker and the hidden half secretly wondered if it would not be better if this man never sat upon the throne of Gondor and Arnor and never stole his priceless treasure.
Was this what Celebrían had meant when she told him that their children’s choice still lay ahead? Had she known that she would never see her daughter again when they had parted?
A gust of wind blew through the open window, extinguishing all candles in the room. ‘Estel, come back and light them!’ He wanted to scream. But Estel was gone and this time there was no one to bring him light.
If his heart had even been split in two, all doubts were now forgotten. When he saw his Estel as a leader of men, a commander respected, obeyed, and loved, he had no doubt that this was what he had always wanted.
And yet, their parting was bitter. He said his last goodbye first to Estel, and then to Arwen, knowing that their parting would endure beyond the endings of the world. Dark was the night when he left Edoras, where he had come for Théoden King’s funeral, and dark was the night when he arrived in Rivendell, where he wished to collect a few books before he finally departed to the Havens.
Elrond entered his study, and walked towards the bookshelf. No candles were lit, and the darkness was thick and oppressive, as it always was on nights such as this. With a nostalgic smile he reached towards one of the candles. He wanted to light it in the fireplace in the Hall of Fire just like Estel had done nearly nine decades ago.
And then he froze and returned the candle back to its place. He did not need it.
In his mind’s eye he could see the most beautiful face he had ever set eyes upon, framed by long locks of golden, silky hair. He would see her soon. So soon!
His time had come at last. He had waited for this for so long!
Elrond casually pushed away the candles and let them scatter on the floor. He needed them no more. No light was brighter than that of the shining eyes he could see in his heart. He let this strange, almost forgotten warmth spread over his body, and he could feel the darkness no more. The moon was hidden behind an impenetrable veil and not a single star could be seen. But Elrond cared not. He could not see them anyway.
He saw something else. And in his heart, it was light again.