Disclaimer: The rights owned, in this case, by New Line Cinema, Peter Jackson, etc., though original ideas all attributed to Tolkien. I didn't make any money off of this, nor did I have a particularly enjoyable time writing it.
AN: I was watching random LotR clips on YouTube out of boredom, and found a clip of Arwen's flight to the ford with Frodo. As soon as the clip ended, I opened up a word document and typed the first line of this story. And then I sort of had a moment of 'why? Really, why?' where my Muse and I argued. She won, of course, and so I wrote the rest of it. This is supposed to be Arwen's story, in those missing days, because Peter Jackson changed the story and then never gave us the explanation, and I seem to be cursed to therefore give those explanations or wallow in writing misery with an angry Muse. Oh, how I loathe my lot in life.
The language in this is a bit more formal than I usually use, and is an attempt to actually repeat how the elves in the movies talk. Which means it probably sounds weird. This is ENTIRELY movie based, so there is absolutely no attempt to correlate with the books, so the timeline is wrong, the order of events is slightly wrong, and Arwen is slightly wrong.
Dedicated to Jessica314: thanks so much for all the discussions over the last months and all your lovely and kind comments. It means a lot!
The twins found her there; kneeling over Frodo's still body, the tear tracks now dry on her cheeks. They had brought a guard of three other warriors with them to check the ford, but their eyes were only for their sister.
'Does he yet live?' Elladan asked, crouching at her side.
She turned her eyes towards him and shook her head.
Elrohir, holding the two horses the twins had ridden out on, cried out 'Oh, Valar no!'
'Nay,' Arwen whispered, voice hoarse for no reason she could place. 'Nay, he lives. You must take him!' she cried suddenly, struggling to lift the small form towards Elladan. 'You must take him to father!'
The eldest of the twins seemed to pause for a moment that lasted too many heartbeats for Arwen's peace of mind, before he grasped the Halfling in his arms and rose hurriedly towards his horse. Ramos was already kneeling in expectation of his rider's needs at a gentle nudge by Elrohir, who held his reins. Elladan mounted easily, cradling Frodo in gentle arms.
'Can you follow sister?' he asked. 'Can you ride?'
Arwen rose awkwardly. Suddenly it felt as if all her years on Arda weighed upon her shoulders. It was ungraceful and uncomfortable. She had given Frodo what gift had been given her. Had it left her so soon? If so, it was a price she was willing to pay. 'I will follow. Go! Hurry!' she urged, and the twins' mounts jumped at the command, wheeling around to return up the path.
The three guard were prowling along the bank of the ford. The waters were still high, but no longer rapid. Arwen spared no further thought to the Nine. Whether they lived or no, they could not cross the river and their horses, at least, were swept away. The guard would ensure that no return was likely.
'Estel is two day's walk. You must ride out to meet him,' she told their leader, Tawarthion.
'I have orders only to determine the fate of the riders and then return to my patrol, lady. However, no doubt Lord Elrond will send others after his son.'
Arwen felt torn. She wished to return over the river: to find Estel and escort him home. He had looked wearier than she had ever seen him, even when he had returned in the spring after the long hunt for the Gollum creature. He had said that Frodo had been attacked at Amon Sûl, which was many day's walk from where she had found the group. With none to protect them save Aragorn's skill, he would not have chanced sleeping, not with the Nine abroad and hunting Frodo. Even a Dúnedan could not go so long without sleep and suffer no consequences.
But she had left without her father's permission in the first place. If she left again she would cause him further worry when his focus should be on Frodo.
'Very well, I will return to the house.'
'Your father wished it so,' Tawarthion said and she read between the lines he spoke.
Arwen collected Asfaloth and mounted, turning the white steed towards the familiar path. She gave him the lead, knowing he would not put her astray. It was a good hour on horse from the ford to the valley proper, and longer still down to the house. She was in no hurry, weary almost beyond measure. Still, her heart eased as she stepped out from the forest onto the path down into the dell, with the house below.
Lindír was waiting by the stables when finally she arrived. A groom rushed out to take the horse as Lindír helped her dismount. She stumbled as her feet touched the ground, and the seneschal raised an eyebrow in question. Arwen shook her head, too tired to explain.
'You must send an escort out to meet Estel. He is two day's, or very nearly, walk away and has not slept in more than a week. You must send aid,' she begged of the elf.
'I will see to it if you will rest. Your brothers have already expressed interest in riding out themselves, but they are with your father and Mithrandir.'
'He has come?' Arwen exclaimed, surprised in spite of herself. She had ridden out three days' past and there was no sign yet of the wizard.
'In the night he came on a swift horse. He has had much hardship in his travels it seems. He was with your father all morning,' Lindír explained, ignoring her attempts to walk unaided as he led her into the house and towards her rooms.
'That is well. Together, perhaps, there is hope.'
Lindír smiled, 'there is always hope Lady Arwen, as you know.'
She could only nod at that. Her hope was once again parted from her, wandering alone and unprotected in the wild, still in danger. As he always was.
'Will you tell my father I have returned? Do not disturb their work, if you can. I will be in my rooms, if he has need of me,' she said, finally shaking off Lindír's arm as she neared her rooms. This time, he let her, though she noticed he stood and watched until she had closed the door behind her.
She had much need of a bath, but little energy for it. If Elrond saw her like this he would know something was terribly wrong, and she had already caused him enough worry. Instead, she settled first for a change of clothing and spent the last of her failing strength on detangling her hair that had become knotted in the flight to the ford. The cut to her cheek had long since clotted and once cleaned seemed already to have healed somewhat. For that she was thankful. Hopefully it would be gone by the morrow, but the worry that perhaps it would not be, that perhaps already her choice would effect that part of her, nearly seized her heart.
She lay down on her daybed to rest, focusing on not falling into deepest slumber, despite the urge. At least she would hear anyone who entered. Arwen had no idea when her father would be free to seek her out, or whether Frodo would demand his full attention for many hours, but she was at least alone for the present time. Enough time to allow her rest.
She woke later, knowing by the lack of light that it was evening. There was no sense the room had been disturbed. That was a concern, for Frodo must be grave indeed and still in need of constant care. But it also meant he still breathed and for that she was once more grateful. Her strength was also somewhat returned, though she was still weary. Strong enough, however, to think of a bath and food.
She all but ran into Lindír exiting her room. He bowed to her in greeting, offering the plate of food he held with silent words.
'My thanks to you, for that is just what I was thinking of.'
Lindír smiled, satisfied. 'And well you should, my lady. Have you rested well?'
Arwen took the plate from him and stepped back through her open door to her sitting room, gesturing Lindír in after her. She abandoned all pretense at politeness, and concentrated on eating, pausing only long enough to answer him. 'Yes, though a good deal more I will need I think, before the nightmare of the last few days is behind me. What of Frodo? Have you had word?'
Lindír nodded, seeming more satisfied with her admission. 'Indeed. I have been told he was very weak when he arrived, but has rallied somewhat. However, your father has no plans to continue his treatment until the morrow. He feels the body must rest first and Frodo must take food, as much as he is able, in order to strengthen himself for what is to come.'
'What is to come?' she questioned. Estel had told her only his suppositions of what had so caused Frodo's illness, but she had not had them confirmed. Still, if his fears were true, waiting could certainly not improve the situation.
'Mithrandir has explained to me that a shard of the sword that wounded the Periannath still lies in the wound and is the cause of the continued illness that plagues him. It must be removed.'
Arwen stopped eating. 'But he was so weak! I feared he was dead on the riverbank after I called the flood to sweep away the riders. Surely he could not survive such a procedure?'
Lindír gestured to her half empty plate, an encouraging smile she remembered from her youth on his face. 'Even so, it must be removed, at whatever cost.'
Arwen closed her eyes at that. They might still lose him, after all that had been done to save him, the Halfling might still perish. She knew and understood what that would mean.
'Of course,' she nodded at last, aware there was nothing else to be said. 'Does my father still attend on him?'
'Lord Elrond is in the healing rooms, yes. I told him you had returned and were well, but weary, and gone to your rest. He will look to you this evening.'
She renewed her eating with vigor. 'Then I had best eat and bathe, in order to present myself to him probably, lest he worry more.'
Lindír sighed. 'Lady Arwen, he worries enough as is, I do not think you can add to that. You look better now then when you rode through the gate, and for that the rest is likely responsible. More will be needed, I think you'll agree. But you do not look so poor as to cause him further concern. He is simply grateful you have returned unharmed.' His eyes flickered to the scratch on her cheek briefly, before glancing away. She had checked in the mirror when she awoke, and was relieved to see it had healed further; all that remained was a shallow red line that would be gone by morning.
Her other suffering, she felt, would not pass so easily. She had made her choice, and it would be remiss of her not to tell her father. But to worry him further would be a mistake as well. And there was still no knowing of what the future might bring.
'I thank you for your kindness and care of myself and my family, as always, my lord. I will bathe, as you suggest, and await my father.' She rose and bowed her head to him and he followed her from the room, taking the empty tray.
The bath house was communal, for the elves did not put much stock in the issue of mixed bathing. They were tapped by hot springs underneath the mountain that rose near the surface at the back of the house. In evening they were unlikely to be terribly busy and Arwen found it so. None were likely to disturb the current Lady of Rivendell besides. The hot water did wonders for her muscles, tense from too much worry, and soaked away the last of the dirt that three days on the road had caused. It had been some time since she had been so long without a wash, with no time to stop in her race to find Estel and the hobbits.
Arwen allowed herself to linger longer than she otherwise might, but finally rose to dry herself and don her nightdress. She returned to her room to brush out her long hair and braid it carefully for sleep. It was dark outside now, the sun having set. Her father should be here to greet her soon.
She woke sometime later with the knowledge she was not alone. The room was dark; the new moon not enough to cast any light inside, and if not for elven eyes she would have been all but blind.
Her father was sitting in the chair by her desk, gazing at her, though his eyes suggested he did not truly see her.
Elrond sighed, his eyes focusing on his daughter. 'I am glad to see you returned and unharmed,' he said, his voice low. Too low. Arwen was familiar with that tone from her childhood, though more often it had been directed at her brothers when they had been particularly foolhardy.
'I am sorry to have worried you so, father, but I had to go. I could wait here no longer, wondering what was happening and if Estel –' He did not allow her to finish her sentence, standing in one quick motion to stride to her side and embrace her. Arwen allowed herself to be held as he had rarely done in many years.
'Do not ever do such a thing again, am I heard?'
'Yes, father,' she said, willing to agree with ease. She had no plans for any further solo adventures in the wild.
'Glad I am to hear that. Your brothers are enough trouble and Estel is even worse. Alone in the wild with four Halflings in his care and the Nine hunting his ever step. How does he get into these situations?'
Arwen laughed, surprising herself, but Elrond smiled his success. 'Ah, there, that is better. Worry does not suit your fair face, my daughter.'
'He is still out there; I will not stop my worry until he is returned to us.'
Elrond sighed and settled on the edge of her bed as she shifted back to make room for him. 'Nor I. But the worst of the threat is, I think, passed. Mithrandir agrees. They have been defeated, at least for a time. Time enough for Estel and the hobbits to make their way here, I think. And your brothers have gone to retrieve them. They will be well.'
She nodded slowly. He was right, of course, but though logic told her one thing, her heart forebode another.
'But I worry as well, as I always do when one of my children is outside of this house.'
She picked up the double meaning in his words, if not from the look he sent her.
'Now, you have rested and eaten, and bathed as well, judging by the state of your hair. But I deem you in need of further rest and will leave you to it. I will need your help on the morrow, for your brothers will not yet be returned I think and we cannot delay any longer.' He was rising already, settling his robes about him.
'Yes Arwen?' he said, turning back to her. In the dim light from the torches outside his face was all but black in the shadows, but the light in his grey eyes shown through.
'Will he live?'
'I know not, though I still hope for such an outcome. We will know tomorrow, until then there is no use worrying. I must return to check on Frodo now, for Mithrandir sits with him.'
'I will come in the morning, after I see that rooms are prepared for our guests. They should arrive by tomorrow night I think.'
Elrond nodded. 'Yes. And many others besides. Gildor and several of his kin will arrive in a day or so, and Thranduil you know sent word of Legolas' journey. He also I expect soon. Make certain there is room for them all. I am warned there are several dwarves and men from Erebor and Dale that passed through Mirkwood on the way here also, though I do not doubt they are journeying behind Legolas and his guard.'
Arwen smiled at that. 'That would be a sight indeed. Very well, I will see to it. And to the kitchens, and the stables, and aught else as is my duty. And then I will attend on you in the healing rooms.'
'As always you are ever the grace of this household. I do not know how we manage when you are with your grandparents.'
'Lindír manages just fine, father, as you know,' she sighed.
'But I prefer your presence,' he answered, returning to her side to kiss her goodnight. 'Sleep well, my daughter; let your cares fall away for tonight. You will see your beloved again on the morrow, and your brothers also.'
'Thank you, father. May you pass a good night as well. And my thoughts go with you to Frodo. To have come so far and to not survive would be the greatest tragedy,' Arwen whispered.
She saw her father nod in the dim light, but his reply was all but swept away with his robes as he left her room.
'That tragedy, I fear, is still to come.'
To be continued in Part 2.