This is the final installment of "To Flicker and Fade". Thank you to all my wonderful reviewers, any new readers are asked to please review! You don't have to say much, just take a few seconds to let me know someone's reading this. You don't know how much acknowledgment means to me. This story has become very precious to me, for I've been going through some emotionally difficult times (nothing especially tragic, just teenage woes, culture shock, and still settling into a new home). Making hope come out of sorrow, perhaps even creating a thing of beauty from it, helps me immensely. The last three chapters were dedicated to Diana, a.k.a. shuckuchi, but I want to dedicate this chapter to someone else.

This chapter is for you, Dad, for being such an encouraging reader and wonderful father. I love you.

For anyone who hasn't read the appendices, Aragorn is something like the sixtieth descendent of Elros, Elrond's brother and the first king of Numenor. The brothers were given a choice of whether to follow the fates of Elves or Men. Elrond chose the path of the Elves, Elros that of Men.

On a side note, does anyone besides me feel sorry for Elrond? His parents were forced to leave him when he was still an infant and never came back, and later his brother chose mortality and died. Elrond then saw many of his friends die in various battles, his wife was tortured by Orcs and had to leave him and go West long before he did, and his only daughter married a mortal! Some people think he was cruel in not letting Arwen marry Aragorn for seventy years, but when you see things from his point of view he is a much nicer person, as evidenced by his kindness to travellers.

The song at the end is taken from "Farewell to Lorien" in The Fellowship of the Ring.

Chapter 4: Wish Upon an Evenstar

Lord Elrond Peredhrel tried his hardest to smile as he congratulated his daughter upon her wedding night. His joy for her and Aragorn, who was as dear as a son to him, made Elrond able to, though a hint of bitterness could not fully be hidden. "Your long waiting has been fulfilled at last, my dear Undomiel. I wish you joy in your future," he told her. Arwen had come to speak to him alone, shortly after her wedding ceremony. While she and her new husband were being congratulated and blessed by various loyal subjects, Elrond had slipped away to his chamber. His daughter had found him standing on the balcony outside his room, which was high up in one of the numerous white towers.

"Do you mean for myself only, or for Estel as well?" she asked her father, using the name that Elrond had given Aragorn while the mortal was growing up in Imladris.

Elrond thought for many moments before answering. "For you always. Aragorn the ranger is not the one for my daughter. Nevertheless, for the King Elessar, for Estel my adopted son, and for the last of my brother's kin among Men, I wish for as much peace and happiness as I wish for you."

Arwen smiled softly. She was wearing the purest white in honor of her wedding, but had taken off the crown of a queen. Her dark hair shone unadorned in the starlight. For now she was not a queen, only a maiden speaking to her father as any daughter might. "My purpose in joining you, Father, was to plead forgiveness. Many were the days when I thought you uncaring and unfeeling, forbidding us to marry until he had proven himself. Yet today I saw your face when Elessar and I wedded and-" her voice trailed off, "I understand a little more." The Evenstar was not a she-Elf of many words, but every word she uttered carried deep significance and was always sufficient. She looked up at the stars that were gently twinkling above them, accompanied only by a thin crescent moon, and spoke once more. "Somehow I never thought of your own sorrow, not for losing me, but for losing your brother."

The Half-Elven's voice trembled slightly, and was only slightly above a murmur. "Wounds heal over the ages, Undomiel. Mine had all of the Second and Third Ages to do so."

"You still miss Elros." There was no defiance or contradiction in her statement, merely an assurance of mutual knowledge.

"One never forgets anyone they loved, unless one had no memory of them in the first place. That was one reason I felt strong sympathy for Estel, who had no memory of his parents." Elrond sighed. "I did not wish for you to feel my pain."

"My mind always knew, but my heart did not until tonight. For a little while I wish to merely be your daughter, and return to Aragorn after." As if she were a young girl again, Arwen rested her head upon her father's shoulder. He could not remember how many centuries ago she had done that. Before she left for Lothlorien, it must have been. Before Celebrian sailed away.

Elrond put an arm around Arwen's shoulder, and said, "How is it possible that you have the likeness of Luthien yet remind me so much of your mother? Her sorrow will surpass that of Melian the Maia when she hears that you cannot follow her."

His daughter's eyes began to brim with tears. "I know," she whispered, "I know. And I know how you will feel when you sail, and how Elladan and Elrohir will feel."

"Speaking of the your brothers, where are they now?"

Arwen wiped away the tears and smiled. "Becoming acquainted with the hobbits, I believe. They seem to suit each other well." She lapsed back into soberness. "At least the twins will remain here for long. Please don't leave me soon." Her gaze was filled with anguish.

Her father placed another arm around her and held her like small child. For many moments neither spoke, merely being together and thinking like thoughts. Finally he said, "I will carry you in my heart forever, my dearest daughter. There you will remain, no matter if you diminish elsewhere." Elrond let go, saying, "Ai, first I lost my father and mother, then my only brother, then parted from my wife, and now my Evenstar."

Arwen looked at him with new wisdom and understanding. "You haven't lost them, Father. Your brother lives on in his descendant." She lifted her eyes once more upon the stars. "The star of Earendil shines brightly tonight. Have you ever thought that your father is there, in a way, looking upon you?"

Elrond could not remember if he had. The thought did cheer him, and he added, "Some say that if you see a white flash rising towards the star, and dawn and dusk, than it is Elwing."

"Have you ever seen it?"

"I did tonight."

His daughter sighed. "Tell Naneth that I wished to see her again, and that the decision was not easy. I never wished to give her pain."

"I will tell her how proud of you I am," answered the Halfelven.

Arwen looked at him. "You are? I have always feared that you were against my choice."

He shook his head. "All I have ever desired, like any caring father, was for your joy. It is only that I did not know that this was the most joyful path for you."

"I think we have misunderstood each other for many years," said the Evenstar. They were silent for a while. Then Arwen raised her voice in song, a song in the High Tongue she had learned in Lothlorien. In the Common Tongue it ran thus:

[Ai! like gold fall the leaves of the wind,

Long years numberless as the wings of trees!

The years have passed like swift draughts of the sweet mead

In lofty halls beyond the West,

Beneath the blue vaults of Varda

Wherein the stars tremble in the song of her voice

Holy and queenly.

Who now shall refill the cup for me?

For now the Kindler, Varda

The Queen of the Stars,

From Mount Everwhite

Has uplifted her hands like clouds,

And all paths are drowned deep in shadow;

And out of a gray country darkness lies

On the foaming waves between us,

And mist covers the jewels of Calacirya for ever.

Now lost, lost to those in the East is Valimar!]

To her surprise, her father joined her in singing the last verse. Their voices blended perfectly into the still night.

[Farewell! Maybe thou shalt find Valimar. Maybe even thou shalt find it. Farewell!]