Title: Beyond the End of the World
Rating: G
Author: CJK (lena@warpedcore.net)
Disclaimer: All characters are Tolkien's, all fun's mine.

None saw her last meeting with Elrond her father,
for they went up into the hills and there spoke long together,
and bitter was their parting that should endure
beyond the ends of the world.

Return of the King

The wind whipped at his hair, and threw grit into his eyes – why else would they burn? He was aware of every detail of the birch bark beneath his fingers where they were wrapped around the thin trunk. Somewhere a bird called shrilly.

"You chose death," his own voice rasped in his throat and sounded foreign in his ears.

"No words can be spoken between us that have not yet been voiced," she said behind him quietly. There were tears in her voice. Not the first, and he knew it would not be the last tears for her to shed. His jewel, their people's Evenstar – doomed to weep; doomed on all counts.

"We have talked about this, Ada," Arwen continued, her breath hitching in a sob. Worst of all, he knew her tears were not for herself. "There is no ship that will bear me now. There is no way for me to the Undying Lands. Here in Middle Earth I shall dwell, with my chosen husband. I have long made my choice."

"You chose death," he repeated, words bitter on his tongue. It seemed so unreal, so unlikely that he should never see her again. That these features – he whirled around and looked at her white face framed by ebony locks – that this face he had seen beside him for so many years, should age, wrinkle, pale, dissolve with time. It did not seem possible. And yet it was to be. A part of him rejoiced in knowing he would not witness his beloved daughter's aging and death. Another part raged and wept for her lost life, her passing beauty, her forsaken future.

Hand trembling, he reached out and touched her cheek. Cold, so cold— no Elven flesh was ever so cool to the touch. "Arwen— my daughter, nin mell sell—"

She raised her hand and laid it over his, turning her face into the caress. Her wedding band was burning his fingers with its cold. "I know. Oh, Ada, I know," she whispered, voice breaking. A single tear, brilliantly glittering in the sunlight, slid down her white skin. She tried to smile – for his sake, he thought. "I shall have children. Have you not foreseen it yourself? Imagine, you as a grandfather. One day a son of mine will rule Gondor."

"Grandchildren I shall never see," he cut in, pain roughening his voice. "Children who will outlive you. Kings of men for whom you will be a faint memory. Nothing but a legend.

"I have foreseen more than your children, my daughter," he felt a treacherous heaviness stifle his throat as she flinched and drew away from his touch. "Do you wish to know what I have seen? What I still see when my eyes close, heavy with sorrow? Do you wish to hear the number of years that await you as Queen of Men and Elves until the time when Estel— nay, for there is no hope, not for him and not for you – when Elessar lies down to the sleep of no awakening? It is not only his death I see; not only his death that makes my heart ache."

"Enough!" She drew back, crying openly now. Strands of her black hair, once the mock despair of Celebrían and his quiet pride, for it was the exact image of his own, clung to her face, and she brushed at it with shaking fingers. "I know what fate awaits me, my Lord, both my heart and my mind tell me that my years are numbered. Here I shall dwell until it is my time to die, and there is hope in my treacherous heart that such a time is distant.

"Here we shall part," she added in an almost inaudible whisper, turning away to survey the endless pastures that lay beyond the hills. "None knows better than I how weary you are of Middle Earth. There is naught for you to remain behind for. Here I see you for the last time, nin adar."

The wind carried a birch leaf past his face, and as he brushed it away, he realised his face was wet. "I wish it was not so, Arwen. I wish you were by my side as I sail into Valinor, as I see you mother once more. I wish—"

"Yes," she whispered, and raised her eyes again to meet his. "Yes. I love you, Ada. I will tell my children tales about Lord Elrond the Wise—Elrond who gave me life, and love."

He tried to speak, but found his throat closed with pain, and his lips unresponsive.

"The last time we speak, Ada," she continued quietly. "Let it not be in anger and sorrow. There is only one thing I wish to hear from you. Only one thing I have to say."

The bird called again, closer, louder. The wind rustled in the birches and carried the smell of distant fires, the sound of distant hooves.

"Arwen Undómiel," he said at last. "My beloved child." Stepping forward he touched her face once more, gently, reverently. "You will always have my love. May your days be long and blessed. I wish you happiness on your chosen path."

She clasped his hand tightly in hers, eyes large and full in her pale face. "I thank you, Father. There is no greater gift that you could have given me."

Words unspoken caught on his lips. There was nothing more to say, he realised. Leaning forward, he brushed a soft kiss across her brow, touched her hair. "Fare thee well, meleth nin."

"Farewell, my Lord," she answered. There was no sound, only the movement of her lips. "Farewell, Father. I love you."

His robe brushed over long grass as he walked down the hill. The bird's call in the greying sky sounded like a child crying.