Author: Kellen PM
When Gilraen's body failed, her spirit fled, a song held close to her heart. Completed oneshot.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Words: 1,395 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 2 - Published: 09-07-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2570966
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Rating: PG; revolves around death
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Nothing except my own experiences.
Summary: When Gilraen's body failed, her spirit fled, a song close to her heart.
Dedicated to my grandfather, on this, the anniversary of the night I held his hand and sang to him. I like to think he carried that song near his heart when he left this world. I love you, Grandpa. I always will.
Elrond blinked, lax hands giving up the blankets he carried. Elrohir smirked at his father. "You didn't even notice me, did you?"
The lord of Imladris shook his head. "Forgive an old, distracted elf?"
Elrohir frowned as he gathered the blankets close to his chest. "You need sleep, father. I care not to see you collapse anytime soon."
Elrond gave his son as much of a withering look as he could muster. "I will not."
"Sleep or collapse? I could argue."
The dry tone in Elrohir's voice nearly had Elrond smile. "I will sleep soon, then, my son. Let me fetch water for her first."
The younger elf shook his head sadly. "She cannot swallow, father. Why tease her with refreshment?"
"It is not to tease." Elrond's voice grew heavy. "'Tis to comfort."
Silence fell upon the two, standing in the dimming hallway. Elrohir looked into the dying sun, hugging the blankets. "Is there really nothing we can do, father?"
"I am sorry," Elrond said softly. "Even these healer's hands cannot save a human from death." He sighed. "Go. Take those to her. I will bring cold water."
"Yes, mother?" Aragorn leaned close to her, ear turned toward her mouth to try to make out her wispy, slurred words.
Aragorn swallowed around the lump in his throat. For days, since her sudden collapse in the gardens, Gilraen had asked for water. And every time, it shattered his heart anew to know she thirsted for it but could not accept the gift of water. Her throat had closed, leaving her unable to swallow. Elrond had been unable to heal the damage, and had taken Aragorn aside and told him of all the things the millennia-old elf had seen – including the natural course of man's life… Some things are beyond a healer's scope, Elrond had told him sadly. We can only ease her passing. And then, Elrond had squeezed the young man's shoulders and walked away, knowing the ranger would not want to be seen in a state of weakness.
But then, Elrond had come back, and worked through the day and night to keep Gilraen as comfortable as possible. He took on the menial tasks of cleaning and washing the bedclothes, of turning Gilraen to keep her from bedsores, of comforting the old woman when she cried of pain. He had even spoke to her as her own husband when Gilraen's delirium saw Arathorn and not Elrond. Aragorn had looked on, astonished, when Gilraen had fallen asleep, comforted by the conversation with her "husband" and Elrond turned away, silver glistening in his eyes.
Shaking these thoughts away, Aragorn reached up to caress Gilraen's cheek. "Water is coming, mother, as well as extra blankets so you will not grow cold."
"I am cold," Gilraen whispered.
Aragorn stroked her hand. "Are you?"
There was a pause as Aragorn fought to find words. Finally, he spoke. "Speak not of such things, mother."
Gilraen fell into silence and Aragorn cursed himself for stifling her. His mother's voice, though she spoke of death, was precious to him.
"I'll go," she said.
"To my husband."
Aragorn smiled through sudden tears. "Tell him 'well met' for me."
"Proud of you." Gilraen was tiring. Her eyes were slipping closed, hand loosening its grip on his.
Aragorn kissed her dry fingers.
"You are what?" Aragorn asked quietly.
With a small smile and laugh, Aragorn responded. "You already said that."
She ignored the jibe. "He would be, too."
"Your father." Gilraen opened her grey eyes. Aragorn forced himself to hold her gaze, hard as it was to see her eyes dull and pained. They used to be so bright. "He loves you."
"I know," Aragorn assured her.
Her eyes slipped closed again. "He told me that," she whispered.
"Mm-hmm." She squeezed his hand. "Water?"
"Coming soon," was his quick answer. He hated it when she asked for water.
"Sing for me?"
"Could I ever say no to you, mother."
And he sang softly for her, sitting there by her bedside, her hands entwined in his. She gazed up at him with her dull eyes, a smile upon her chapped lips as his rich voice steeped the room with song. As he sang, her eyes filled with tears, watching the son she was leaving behind.
"I know," Elrohir stated. "I just find it hard to see what I'm doing."
They stepped into the doorway, Elrohir's eyes filling with tears once again at the sight of Gilraen watching her son sing just for her. Aragorn looked up, stopping his song when he saw the elves enter the room. Elrohir approached, shaking out a blanket. Gilraen freed a hand to catch his wrist as he tucked it around her. Weakly, she pulled his unresisting arm to her lips and kissed the back of his hand. Elrohir smiled and smoothed back her iron-grey hair to kiss her temple. "Send your brother…" She gasped. "My love."
Elrohir nodded. "He would have been here if he'd known, dear woman."
"Tell him 'hunt well'."
Elrohir laughed softly at the old joke. "Of course, my lady."
Elrond cleared his throat from his position next to Aragorn. "Water, my lady?" he asked, holding up a wet sponge.
While Elrond held the sponge to her lips, Aragorn looked across to Elrohir. "Where is Elladan?"
"He was held up at the human settlement. A viral infection in the children. They needed help." Elrohir shook his head. "The messenger did not tell him of Gilraen's condition, for fear of worrying Elladan. Truthfully, there is nothing he could do here, and the men in the village need his expertise."
Aragorn nodded. That, of course, would make things difficult when Elladan did return.
Elrond straightened. Gilraen reached for Aragorn again. "Please?"
"What is it, mother?"
Elrond nodded to Elrohir and they turned to leave.
The near-silent plea stopped them. Gilraen reached toward Elrond, then Elrohir. "Stay with me."
Elrond crossed the distance in two long steps. "Worry not, dear lady. We will stay. Do not tire yourself. Rest and listen to the song."
She heeded his words. Aragorn sang again, his voice soft and rich, singing of love and joy and peace. Elrond knelt on the floor next to him, a hand resting on Gilraen's shoulder while Elrohir sat on the foot of the bed. Before long, Gilraen slept, smile on her lips.
When Gilraen's body failed, her spirit fled, a song held close to her heart.
A/N: Gilraen's condition was, for those of you who just have to know, brought on by a major stroke, which disabled most digestive functions, and paralyzed muscles in the mouth and throat, as well as several other muscle groups. When my grandfather was in the hospital, the decision was made to remove the feeding tube and respirator, since there was no hope of recovery and Grandpa's living will dictated the action. (And the family, knowing Grandpa and his penchant for activity and productivity, agreed.) He died, much like Gilraen, in the night with family surrounding him, talking and singing to him.