For Elessar Telcontar, he of unnumbered names, who remains my very first Muse in this fandom.
Happy Birthday, Aragorn.
In my mind, I can see the island.
What can we make of that distant land? What, except a beginning without an end? But perhaps it is not the beginning that matters, or the end, nothing except the journey from one to other. I am tempted to believe that.
Eärrámë is ready, my lord Ulmo, and impatient to battle with your willful moods.
Inevitably, the sea will be a worthy tomb.
Eärendil is away again, another journey to unknown ends, ever seeking to control the turmoil of a restless heart. Perhaps it is wrong of him to leave a home and a young family waiting. But as lord he is loved, blessed mariner of the sea, and these people will suffer his wanderings. I cannot blame you, child.
"He is beautiful." His voice is an awed whisper.
She links her hand with his, the proud eyes of a mother glimmering. Her other hand strokes the infant's hair. "Your son, husband."
The child wakes suddenly, and they both delight in his smile.
I may not wait for your return to set out on my own voyage. Forgive me.
My feet are bare in the sand, and the sea washes over them. I resist the urge to wander in till waist length, mindful of Idril's admonitions of sickness. Blue water, edged with just a hint of green, a fluent merging of colour that I cannot help but marvel at every time. The song will come soon. Soon.
The city falls, a smouldering collapse of fire and rock, blood splattering the wall of every Gate.
Her eyes are blank. Like the emptiness of the hollow that is void, her mind and heart are shuttered. "My father has passed."
She was Lady of the Hidden Kingdom, Itaril Celebrindal, with hair that resembled an untamed sun. Her father loved her. The city adored her. How could I steel myself? I had heard of Lùthien and Beren, but never had I understood them until that moment.
I remember now – it is strange that these memories come so easily by the shores – remember all of a time in a land that is nothing but dust now. But mortal dreams are alive with immortal thoughts, and they slide, one over the other, contesting for priority.
I bowed to King Turukáno, and he embraced me. Perhaps the Noldor do understand the subtlety of love.
"I have seen much." Her body rests against his, both immeasurably weary. To breathe is a lesson in exhaustion. "Yet I wish I had not."
"You saved us, Celebrindal."
Even in the darkness, he can see her eyes fill with quiet tears. "But not everyone," she whispers, "Everyone was not saved."
I have seen much, and I am tempted to see more. But perhaps sense will prevail, and I will not. My wife often laughs about my acquired Noldorin habits. What makes them what they are – these immortals of fathomless spirit and undiminished fire? Again, and again, they have fallen, yet they rise from filth and gore, tainted with the curses of the past and the scar of their doom, neither wisest nor gentlest. A tempest of whirling wind, or soaring storm, one from which one cannot escape if caught within.
I was a willing captive.
"Lord Ecthelion has invited me to watch the decoration of the Gates for the spring festival."
"And the purpose of this would be…?"
He lowers his voice to a mock whisper, but she can hear the smile in it. "They want to put flowers in my hair."
Her unshod feet make no noise on the groomed grass, and she swats at him with her hand. "Stop laughing, love."
What is it that makes mortals fight for a cause that is not their own? I have not seen many elves do that. Perhaps loyalty has something to do with it, loyalty to a lord, a land or a faith. But Eldar are less swayed by any, apart from their own. A vow of blood binds people tighter that many would think. But when Elves decide to uphold a cause, whether Anár blackens or the night is torn, whether the land is ripped asunder in eternal chaos, they will not forsake it.
Maeglin – I refuse to call him by his proper name – died for one. I recall a time when I hated him, hated him with all the fiery passion of a human heart, and by killing him, I committed a crime that I am still not forgiven for.
I remember Turgon's eyes turn to cold stone when he learnt of his nephew's betrayal. Oh, my wife's father had always been proud. But this was more than pride, more than betrayal, more than revenge. It was sacrilege. He had fought a ravaging internal battle then, Turukáno had, in which he tried to absolve guilt and destroy in return, but it was too late, always too late. Too late to snatch back the love he had bestowed so unhesitatingly.
"It cannot be." The King is stubborn in his faith, even to the end.
She steps forward, and lays a hand on her father's taut shoulder. "It is."
A young elf runs in, his hair blackened with dried blood, a stumbling life on the verge of dying. "My lord…" The child breathes with difficulty, but his eyes are feverish. "Lord, forgive me…the prince…has been taken…"
He is gone before another word is spoken, uncaring as to whether the messenger lives or not.
Sirion is peaceful, perhaps deceptively so. The remnants of lost kingdoms run in the rising waves, children still untainted by the doom of these times. I call out to them to be careful, and some heed the old man of the sea, moving closer to the rocky shore, but most ignore me.
My son's son runs up to me, the starlit grey of his eyes a beacon in the approaching sunset. A moment's hesitation, and then I identify him as Elros. My memory is not what it used to be.
The young one, barely a few years in age as men count it, throws his arms around my neck, wordlessly beseeching me to part with a story. I return his exuberant smile, and hold him close. He fidgets with the chain around my neck, sitting still only because I had showed him an inland cave a few days ago. Wait but a moment, little Peredhil, your daernaneth and your brother will come soon. Then there will be story upon story, and only when you decide that we must stop, we will.
I feel the weariness in my body, although I know not what to make of it, and so I looked in the mirror and I saw a person I could not recognize very well. A hazy image, unclear yet distinguishable in some ways, like listening to a long forgotten note of music. I recognize, and yet I do not. The sunlight streams on the rippling waves, now here, then there, and catching it is an impossibility. The years have been kind, but I do not possess that much strength to battle any longer.
Brief snatches of memory I will take, but all else is to be left behind.
You approach. I can hear fall of your feet, even if no one else can. Beside you runs another wonder, a child essentially identical to the one who sits with me, yet so different.
She laughs, the sound a breathtaking accompaniment to the soft tones of the nearby flute. "Do you desire me, mortal?"
His answer is more elf-like than her question. "If it can be identified among the maelstrom in my heart that is you, then yes."
I do not know to what end I will come. But hope is a dangerous thing, a desperate futility that I wish to succumb to. I want you by my side, Itarillë, in love or in death, or in oblivion. It is selfish of me, but that is my truth, and I must say it.
My eyes meet yours, shifting smoke and clear sky. There is no need for words because there never was.
Eärrám – Sea-Wing(Q) – Tuor's ship, in which he and Idril sailed when they left Middle-earth
Itarillë/Itaril – Idril. Also called Celebrindal, which means 'Silverfoot'
Turukáno - Turgon's father name.
Daernaneth – Grandmother (S) Refers to Idril.
Many thanks to all who read. And if you got this far, you wouldn't mind leaving a review, hmm? ;)