Title: Blood and Water (1/1)

Author: Isys (ff_isys@yahoo.com)

Fandom: The Lord of the Rings

Rating: G

Category: Angst, touches of AU here and there

Disclaimer: The Lord of the Rings is the property of J.R.R. Tolkien. No copyright or trademark infringement is intended. This story is purely for entertainment purposes only.

Summary: Set in RotK (movie-verse), during Aragorn's coronation. Elrond reflects on his daughter's decision

AN: This is a revised version. This fic is written especially for Ginnie, who turned sixteen last week. Happy birthday!

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He draws nearer now, every slow step and polite greeting he makes befitting the position he had just come into. My Estel, who had once been that young boy playing with my twins each morning on the leaf-strewn grounds of Rivendell... the decades since then seem so short. And yet here you are, the crown rightfully upon your brow and the promise of many good years in your eyes.

It matters not, though. The crown bestowed on him by Gandalf and by the ancient words of Elendil may have very well been a sword, drawn and pointed at my chest.

How did it come to this, Dunedan? I shielded you all those years as your mother requested, and now you return only to take my daughter from me.

Do not think me bitter, my son, you know how proud I am of you. I have known you through all the years of your life - a mere blink it may seem to one who has lived past a millenia - and have sworn on you the same protection with my life as I did to my children. Estel, I look upon you like I would a son. I taught you, I raised you, and the fondness of it all I would not trade for anything. You have not failed me, nor disappointed me, not once. But now you come to finish what I've been dreading for years.

He stands now before Legolas, whispering a few simple words to his Elvish friend in sincere gratitude with the irrefutable finality of farewell. The Elf may have said something back, that I know not of, for he had then tilted his fair head to the side, clearly to gesture at something else.

Someone else.

Aragorn's gaze now strays from Legolas, and his eyes fill with wonder as he notices the Elven standard. My throat tightens as he steps past Legolas, approaching with both uncertainty and mounting hope. With every ounce of will I possessed, I lightly touch Arwen's shoulder and whisper the words that would finally separate us: "Go on, my daughter. You have my blessing." The moment almost stands until eternity, but of course, like all things, it ended too soon.

Then he takes her in his arms and kisses her.

I lift my hands to join in the people's applause, if not only to force down my chest the tears that threatened to spill.

And I could only ask myself bitterly - how did it come to this? My dear daughter, nearly three thousand years were we together, time worth a handful of mortal lives. How did it come to this?

The thought of you aging, sickening, and dying, when we could have lived to the end of time in bliss breaks my heart, almost as though you took a part of it to the grave when you chose mortality. I know what I speak of, beloved, very well, for the price of my immortality was great. I lost my brother, I watched him succumb - albeit willingly - to the physical sacrifices all Men are doomed to, and I stood by his deathbed. That was my brother, Arwen. And that pain pales next to what I face now.

When you chose to leave me.

Arwen, you know what kind of life the grace of the Eldar has bestowed upon us. Elves live for years innumerable, time passes like sand through their fingers, but what they grow to love they cherish forever. You could only imagine my shock when I held your hands back in Imladris, and felt them cold, cold as ice. Cold as death. The last time I ever felt such chill on Elven hands was on your mother. I continued to hold on to hope, frail though it was, and yet near after, I lost her. This time, however, no trace of hope seemed to exist. I looked into your eyes... and I saw in them a stranger. Not my daughter. Not the elf that had brought life to my home and my heart from her birth, not the jewel known as Undomiel by her loving people.

The tears stung, my Arwen. This was it, this was the sheer finality of it all. You had made your choice, and you said it to be so: no ship can bear you to the Undying Lands.

I could not say a word; what was there left to say? Tell you to stay, indulge in my selfishness and keep you with me while you lived forever in regret? Or tell you to simply go, as though your choice meant nothing to me, as though it didn't take my soul and crush it within a cruel fist?

Now I have done what I should, but I never said I enjoyed it. I had you for almost three thousand years, daughter, but three thousand years is far too short a time. They never knew you like I did - they never had you help them while preparing herbs and medicine, they never had your reassurance and comfort when the Lady Celebrian was poisoned. You were my light, dear Arwen, you were my daughter. And I will miss you so much.

Just smile one more time - smile for me, my princess. Show me the reason why I love you so and why I'm willing to let you go, for in a few years, daughter, I will no longer be in Middle-Earth. I will sail to Valinor, and I wish to remember you with nothing less than happiness.

My hands begin to tremble now, as you turn back to face everyone. You face me and you - you smile. And that smile was the beginning and ending of all things, all of which I will hold close to my heart even beyond your days.

So now I stand here, my head held high, and I harbor no regrets. It's no longer a matter of who you love more, my Arwen, for I know it is not a question. It was never a question. We may be of each other, dear daughter, but sometimes I forget that we are not each other. Mortality is true proof of that. And I would never have forgiven myself for taking the light out of your eyes with the wrong choice.

You stand before the people now, hands entwined with Aragorn's. Queen Arwen. It sounds beautiful, my beloved, just as you look, and the knowledge that I helped bequeath such beauty to the world fills me with pride and joy unlike any other. Our people say you are the living image of Luthien, and they spoke no truer words. I know that what you deserve is immeasurable by any words, and yet I rest with knowing I have left you in only the best of hands. To me, immortality was never some commodity to suffer to trade, but you made a worthy choice, Arwen. If you cannot be ageless in body, I can only hope Aragorn's love for you will continue to make you ageless in spirit.

Be their Queen, my daughter. Be their heart, the reason why the continue to stand, sow, and reap the fruits of their labor. Be as happy as you shall undoubtedly make them. You had once done the very same for me, and I hold your company precious to the end of my days, if one would come. You were my Evenstar, and I will continue to look towards you even from across the seas. I give you now to the kingdom of Men, for surely it would be unjust to withhold such a priceless treasure.

For Gondor, you may be their Queen, but you shall never cease to be Ada's princess. Miles of sea may lie between us, as does the looming promise of death, but I will be watching over you always.

And, beloved daughter, if you can still hear these words, thank you for being who you have been... and I love you.

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