Last chapter, still not mine. Many many thanks to reviewers and people who have stuck with this story over the last year! And woo! Christmas Eve! Will be posting Christmas story later today. It has cute and fluffy elflings in!


It was early yet in the morning, but neither the Lord nor the Lady of Imladris slept. They had not risen together, and neither had aimed to seek the other out, but somehow they both found themselves standing quietly together on the frost-silvered balcony, looking out over the pale expanse of the valley. The silence was thick in the still air, and neither one was looking at the other, instead watching the water gush in white and silver streams down the waterfall at the end of the gorge.

"I do not ask you to stay." Elrond said at last, his voice rough and tuneless. "I would not have you stay to fade from pain and despair."

There was a stiff silence, and Celebrian pulled her hand free from her husband's arm with a hint of annoyance. The least that he could do was have faith in her ability to face up to the struggles ahead of her.

"I may not have the strength of my mother, nor a power equal to you, Elrond Peredhil." Celebrian clenched her fists stubbornly, and looked challengingly at her husband. "But I am no coward. I shall not abandon hope merely because I do not know what the future holds. I do not fear pain and despair!"

Elrond did not reply, but placed his warm fingers over the back of his wife's cold hand. She had never been one to stop fighting before she was ready - like her mother but for the fact that she battled for others rather than herself - but she was not speaking as if it were a fact. More as if she were hoping that is she repeated it loudly enough and firmly enough it would be true.

"It requires faith to struggle onwards towards an uncertain future," Elrond paused and stared unseeingly out over the valley, blinded by the cold tears that flowed unbidden from his eyes, "but in the end, you show your courage in accepting that it is time."

Celebrian closed her eyes a moment, turning her face down to the frost and tiny icicles on the smooth wood of the balustrades. Slowly she turned to her husband, gaze lingering on one fraying piece of thong pulled taut around a star-shaped fastener on his boot, before meeting his eyes.

"I shall have my spring, and my summer." Celebrian said resolutely then sighed deeply, tears pooling in her eyes and slipping silently down her face. Hesitantly she turned back to her husband, eyes pleading for understanding and her face shining with relief beneath her tears. "But it is already time."

And far above from the quiet couple, high in the thick canopy that roofed the green hallways of Imladris, a single leaf dropped free and drifted softly and silently through the still air. It fell past halls and council chambers, past the sheer rock walls of the gorge and the through the bare skeletons of the trees at the riverbank, down into the gushing icy waters of the Bruinen. There it was overwhelmed and tossed and turned as it was washed around stones and over rapids, but a splash of blood red amidst the whites and silvers rushing down towards the sea.



A huge thank you to everyone who reviewed this! I'd have never finished it otherwise and I was really unsure about the topic so knowing that there were people reading was very reassuring. So huge, huge thank you hugs for everyone that reviewed!

You can get huge thank you hugs if you review this time too. . . :p