Slowly the ship glided past an island in the Belegaer. The rock lay lonely in the sea, abandoned and forgotten for many thousands of years. Not even the seagulls flew here. Silence lay over everything.
Elrond was frozen in his shock. His hands had cramped around the railing. This rock, abandoned by all souls, was the summit of Meneltarma, no more reminded of the sunken Númenor. Nothing more had remained of his brother's life's work.
He had not been here since Elros' death. Why should he? He had buried the memories of it deep within himself. Now he had been thrown back into the past so unexpectedly and suddenly and old wounds were reopened.
"Look ahead." Galadriel had come to his side. She knew what haunted him at the sight of the forgotten island. "Soon we will see Tol Eressea. Let the past rest."
Elrond found it hard to tear himself away from that sight. As if this barren rock in the void were the last anchor that bound him to Elros.
"Frodo, my boy, help me up," Bilbo said behind them. The old hobbit had sat at the bow until now, let the sea air blow around his nose and smoked his pipe. Frodo followed and accompanied the old hobbit to the railing, so that they could see what lay on the sea.
"I have told you of the sinking of Númenor, Frodo," Bilbo went on. "If I remember the maps correctly, it must have been here. And this island..."
Elrond turned away without a word and went back below deck. He would hear no more of this. In his cabin Ceomon was already waiting for him, who had already provided him with his sedative.
"It's bad enough that sea voyages make me so sick to my stomach," Elrond said grumpy as he reached for it.
Ceomon had accombanied him across the sea often enough before to know where they were. "I wonder what Aman might look like now," he asked himself instead, to take Elrond's mind off things. "Three ages have passed since I was last here."
"Will I see Celebrían again?" Ever since they had embarked on this journey, Elrond had asked himself this question. The closer they came to their destination, the more he feared. They had been separated for over five hundred years, and each year had been one too many. He had not been able to heal her. Not even he! What if she had not found a cure in Valinor either?
"You will know when we dock," Ceomon replied. "There's nothing you can do about it before then anyway."
Elrond sipped the tea and gave Ceomon a skeptical look. At the same time, he pushed back the soft voice that proved his friend right.
"Rest now," Ceomon advised him. "Meanwhile, I will tell you about Valinor in its former glory, as I experienced it in my youth."
So he talked, and Elrond was happy to be distracted by his worries. He had to admit to himself that he was a little bit excited. It felt as if he was coming home after long years of struggle.
A few days later, Frodo came to him.
"Lord Elrond, you left so suddenly the other day. I hope Bilbo or I said nothing wrong," he asked.
"No, you didn't," Elrond calmed him. "It's just... The first king of Númenor, Tar-Minyatur... Elros... was my brother." To see his life's work destroyed by despots and tyrants, and how they dared even to challenge the Valar itself, had been painful and bitter. But he did not say so. Frodo seemed to understand.
Their further journey was uneventful. And then, one day, they all felt as if they were waking up from a long dream and the veil of the world was being lifted. Before them lay Aman, the Undying Lands.
Slowly and majestically the ship glided into the port of Alqualonde. Elrond stood at the bow of the ship, the wind in his hair, watching the entrance. His nervousness returned, doubt crept in again. Would he be allowed to see her again?
Galadriel stood at his side and radiated a deep calm and inner peace. She smiled encouragingly at him. How could she remain so calm when she too could not be sure to see her daughter again?
"Have faith', she said, as if she had guessed his thoughts. "This is Aman, the land of my youth, and here the burden of all these years is lighter. You will see."
The ship headed for the pier and was quickly moored when it docked. A gangplank was lowered. A small band of elves had already gathered on the shore; apparently, word of their coming had already spread. Had she also heard that he had come with this ship?
He plucked up his courage and joined the other ring-bearers. Frodo had given Bilbo an arm to support him. The two hobbits looked around each other in silent wonder and wide eyes. Elrond could not say he did not feel the same. Galadriel walked ahead, head held high and confident as she had once been when she stood between the quarrelling Noldor and finally left these shores.
They were in Valinor, the Undying Lands, the sacred land of the Valar, far from the world.
The onlookers stepped aside as a large black-haired Elf with old and unfathomable grey eyes walked towards them. A smile adorned his lips when he saw Galadriel. The Princess of the Galadhrim faced him and to Elrond's deep astonishment, she curtsied.
"Atar," she called the elf.
Then Elrond knew who he had before him. He too bowed.
"Aran Meneltyalda," he greeted Finarfin.
When the Hobbits saw the Lady and Lord bowing, they did the same. Perhaps they did not yet know who this Elf was, but they saw that he was of rank.
After greeting his daughter, Finwe's son turned to the other newcomers. "Welcome, Olórin. It's good to see you again. And you must be Elrond of Imladris," he welcomed them. "Word of you has travelled far before you." Then he saw the Hobbits. "You and your deeds were heard of in the Holy Lands of the Valar, and so, too, I welcome you here."
Bilbo and Frodo said nothing and kept silent in awe.
It urged Elrond to put all these troublesome formalities behind him. To speak with Finarfin on equal terms was an honor beyond compare. Yet he had to summon up all his Noldorin diplomatic skills to avoid rushing off and searching for Celebrían among the onlookers. Nervously his gaze flitted around.
And there ... there she was! She stood in the middle of a group of elves and had finally spotted him as well. Her eyes lit up, a happy laugh lay on her beautiful face. She picked up her skirts and hurried towards him. Elrond forgot all his royal dignity and ran towards her.
And then finally they could embrace each other again! He wept tears of joy. How beautiful it was to see Celebrían laughing again, to see her alive and well after they had been separated in such great suffering so long ago. He did not care about any conventions and kissed her in front of everyone.
"My Celebrían, my heart, my soul," he whispered and could not believe his happiness. "My, my, my forever."
"Now nothing can separate us anymore," she replied no less happily and stroked his face tenderly. "Indo-ninya."
How he had missed being called that by her! He kissed her once more and then smiled at her overjoyed. Yes, nothing could separate them now, never again. As if he wanted to make it true, he pressed her tightly against himself.
The surrounding elves had respectfully stepped back to give them some space, and the group slowly dispersed. Probably such scenes were not uncommon here. Even Galadriel held back, although she, too, was certainly no less longing for her daughter. But she gave them the time they needed to enjoy their reunion. Finally, Celebrían almost reluctantly left Elrond's arms and went to her mother. The reunion between mother and daughter was no less cordial. It had been a long and painful time of separation for everyone.
"Where is father?" Celebrían asked anxiously when she still could not make out Celeborn.
"He will soon follow," Galadriel promised. "He has received a kingdom as a gift from his cousin Thranduil in southern Eryn Galen in gratitude for the destruction of Dol Guldur and for helping to cleanse the forest. "But he will come."
Although this seemed to calm Celebrían, one question remained unanswered. Elrond feared her.
"And our children?" She turned to her husband with a worried look on her face.
Elrond felt the sorrow resurface in him. This moment had to come, this moment when the all too eagerly awaited reunion had to be followed by the grief of her deep loss. When the truth was spoken and all hope shattered. With a gloomy expression he took her hands. Sadly he shook his head.
"They will not come," he said simply.
She looked at him stunned. Slowly, her eyes filled with tears as the realization matured in her. Elrond pulled her into his arms again and pressed her tightly, partly to comfort her, partly so that he would not have to see her tears. He could not bear to see her crying. Gently he cradled her while she cried plaintively. She knew as well as he that this was a separation beyond all times and worlds. And oh, how well he knew her pain!
But he said nothing, not a word of comfort. For what could he have said? That Arwen was now the Queen of Gondor and Arnor? What small comfort.
"If only I could have seen her again," Celebrian sobbed.
Elrond and kissed her again and again on her golden blond hair. How his heart bled to see his beloved wife suffer so! He could not take away her pain, they could only share it and hope that it would ease the burden.
But what was there that could have diminished her suffering? Their children were lost to them forever, as finally as Elros had passed away from him. Elrond understood Celebrían all too well, for this was the second time he had suffered this despair over his absolute powerlessness. He could only hope that this suffering was indeed easier to bear here in Aman.
I have been quite unhappy for some time now, how I managed to write Ankünfte, Auskünfte (that text is only availabe in German) ... or rather not. When I was writing the second part of this text, I realized that I could well start again with the arrival in Valinor. I wrote the text partly completely new, partly integrated it into the new text and revised it. Between the two parts are chronologically Lang ersehnt (Gil-galad comes to visit, only German, too) and The Archive of Lost Dreams (Elrond and Celebrían go on holiday, only German, too).