Visions of a Man. By Lady Cleo

Bookverse: Celebrian sees glimpses of her daughter's future through fleeting visions of a man. Aragorn/Arwen.

"She is destined for greatness!" My mother had once told me as she gazed down on my beloved little Arwen, and I believed that this was so, for how can one not see greatness in their own children? Of course I did not know what my mother truly meant, nor would she ever tell me what the mirror had shown her. Instead I would learn over time, though dreams and Arwen's own actions.

When Arwen was still waist high I remember returning from a trip to visit my own mother. Delighted to once again be with my children I entered her rooms expecting her to be buried in her latest obsession and found my little one dancing about playful, smiling coyly as she must have seen elder ladies doing during suppers. She whispered about the summer blooms and scandals of her toy court, the blue mantle she wore swirling about her feet as she tossed a stray stand of dark hair from her face.

"Who are you talking to little one?"

Arwen released her partner with a curtsy and turned, bestowing a similar honor on me before stepping forward to embrace my legs. "Did you enjoy your visit mother?"

I smiled down upon her pale face and knelt. "Yes I did my little one, and have brought for you many presents. But, shall you not answer my question little one?"

"I was dancing with milord."

"What lord is that?"

"You mustn't tell father, but I was dancing with a great King that I shall someday marry, mother!" Arwen answered with great pride. "He will save the world from dark peril and then we shall be wed atop a great mountain full of great people. And then the world will rejoice and we shall rule for many years and have many little ones."

"How delightful!" I declared with enthusiasm, smoothing down her dark brown hair, watching her bright face with amusement.

Her eyes dropped to the ground, hands coming up to fidget with my gown. "But then a curse that was laid upon him at birth shall steal his light."

"What shall you do then my little one?"

"I will travel deep into the woods of Lothlórien and await the cure." Arwen answered at last with confidence, drawing her head up she gazed back into my eyes. "And then we shall dwell together beyond the known world."

I smiled, amused by her little story. Yet even as I gazed down upon my child a fear grew in my heart, that perhaps she had been gifted with the foresight to see her future, and that this child's story could come true. Yet logic strove to wipe away those fear. King Thranduil was very happily married with many children, what other king could she be talking about? It never accrued to me that her king could be a mortal king. Instead I simple continued to smooth down her bright blue mantle and combed back a stray hair. "And what shall I do when you depart for this other world?"

"I hadn't thought of that!" The elf child guilty admitted. "I suppose you must stay behind and see to father, for who else could mind him?"

The matter was dropped and the years seemed to slip away along with the memory of the great cursed king. What mortals call the teenage years seemed to glide around a bend unnoticed, pushing the small girl closer to adulthood.

It was a bright summer day when the house was thrown into frantic preparations. A feast had been ordered as guests were arriving to the last homely house. Many great heads of states were to be fed, and ambassadors entertained as they were called to the home. Including one young Legolas, come as emissary from his father's kingdom. These arrivals sent Elrond into a fit and he locked himself in the study, doling out orders from the comfort of his chair.

"All is made ready?" Elrond questioned me the day of his grand feast. At my nod he seemed to try and relax a bit, but I could see through his disguises well, one more question still bothered him. "And Arwen, she is prepared?"

"That depends on what you would have her prepared for milord." His glances flew to my form with a guilt ridden expression. "Tell me what bothers you so my love!" I whispered coming over to stand beside him, my hand falling to his shoulder. "What have you seen within our daughter's future that fills you with such a fear?"

"I have seen nothing my love." He assures. "I simply wish for our beloved child to make a decent impression upon the young lad."

"You are playing matchmaker my dear. "I declare with a shake of my head. "And to what purpose I can not see. We must let Arwen follow her own heart as we once did."

Elrond nods his head quietly, yet does not answer. Pulling my hand from his shoulder I depart from the study, leaving my lord to his thoughts, a fear and doubt growing within my mind. I knew then that he must have seen something to instill such a fear, such a driving need to see his youngest child wed. Yet before my thoughts could clear I caught the sound of laugher and silently worked my way towards the gleeful sound.

Arwen was pulling Elladan around the great hall with her tiny graceful steps, as the musicians practiced for tonight's festivities. Unfortunately her dainty steps where forcing her larger brother to shorten his strides and trip over his own feet while Elrohir roared with laughter from the sidelines. "You're getting it all wrong!" Arwen declared in her soft voice pulling away from her brother. "Did you not pay any attention to the dance master?"

"The dances of men are ridiculous and unless I plan on courting and wedding a mortal woman I have no need of them!" The elder boy declared as he glared at his twin. "Besides he only taught us a few while you begged him to teach them all. I would not have been surprised had you then asked him for all the court dances of the Dwarves."

"Don't be vulgar Elladan!" Arwen decaled with a dainty huffy of displeasure.

"Next you shall be asking for all the customs of men, following the rangers about and asking what duties are expected from their wives and daughter, what courtly manners are appropriate within the kingdoms of men and so forth! Lord knows you carry that book around enough."

"What book is that?" I questioned from the doorway, startling the three children of my blood. They faltered, giving each other quick panicked looks before resuming a calm façade.

"It is of no consequence mother." Elladan quickly defends.

"It is just a small silly matter that we use to tease our little sister." Elrohir adds as he jumps up from his seat, giving me but more alarm. What matter would be so important that both brothers would assist in hiding it?

I turn my glances to Arwen; she stands still, eyes diverted to the ground as I slowly step forward. Elladan and Elrohir quietly depart, guilty expression hidden behind the long locks of hair. "Arwen my dear, what book is it that has claimed your attentions, and why is it that your brothers feel the need to assist in hiding it."

"I found it in fathers private library." She whispers, "Among the book I was told not to read." She adds guilty as I task. "I am sorry mother, I did not mean any harm. I know I should not have pried, but upon reading the first page I could not see the harm in so beautiful a tale." She blushed, tears forming in her bright eyes, and for a second I wondered at how I could have created such a beautiful child.

Finally I smiled stepping forward to wrap my arm about her form "Do not worry my love, I will not tell you father. But it would be best for you to tell me the title so that I might judge whether you should be discreetly punished or spared of your father's often ridiculous rules."

"The Lay of Leithian."

Horror undertook my heart as the bright image and tale of Lúthien Tinúviel and the doom that befell her flashed before my eyes. With all my heart I wished to demand the book from her procession and lock that haunted tale away from her eyes. But instead I controlled my fear, telling myself that no such fate had been allotted to my evenstar. "Best hand it over so that I might sneak it back into your father's library." I answer quietly with a small smile, trying to assure her with my entirety.

"Might I keep it for but a little longer mother?" She frowns, turning to gaze upon my form with still teary eyes.

But I sadly shake my head, pushing the fear that would clog my throat away. "No it is best that you father does not find out. That is a tale you should not have read without permission my little one, but know that you have there should be no harm."

"I will bring it to you in the morning then mother; just let me keep it one more night." I can not refuse her, but a worry has been placed deep within my heart. She already looks so much like her tragic ancestor; I would not have her share that same fate.

The hours slipped by and all at once the halls of Rivendell seemed to burst with life as the feast commenced. Arwen played her role magnificently, polite and well bred, her manners perfect, and her charm at its brightest. Yet she only danced once dance with young Legolas, then begged to be excused, disappearing from the crowds. Legolas was not bothered, for I do not think he saw anything in my daughter but that she was a girl who did not like to race her horse but preferred to canter along the streams happily.

Yet at Elrond's worried glances I too slipped away in search of my wayward child and found her dancing among the gardens glades, singing a soft tune that I did not recognize. "Who are you singing to little one?"

Arwen released her partner with a curtsy and turned to face me. "Are you enjoying the visitors' mother?"

I smiled down upon her pale face and took the last few steps that separated us. "Yes I am my little one, but I took notice of your early departure and must wonder whether you are." She did not answer and in effect confirmed my thoughts. "If you shall not answer then tell me, who are you dancing with little one?"

"I was dancing with milord."

"What lord is that?"

"A brave and handsome King, who will ride forth to do battle for my hand in marriage!" Arwen answered with no great pride, turning her eyes from my form. "He will save his conquered Kingdom, lifting the world from the darkest peril it has known. We will then be wed atop a great white mountain full of noble guests from all nations and peoples. At last the world will rejoice as we begin a long rule, restoring peace as we raise our own little ones."

"What will happen then?" I inquired ignoring the pain in my heart.

"The curse that was gifted to him upon birth will steal the light from his eyes and I will wander among the woods where we once dwelled, awaiting the cure."

"Shall you not take the road to the grey havens and join your kin across the sea."

She paused, her back still towards me, and I could see that she hesitated. "We will already be amongst our most beloved kin. Once the cure is given I will journey with him wherever he might wish." Arwen answered at last with confidence, drawing her head back around she gazed into my eyes.

"And what should fate decree for your father and me." But with these words she turned away from me and gazed out unto the garden with near haunted eyes and I turned away from her, trying to make sense of her words, wondering if this was still just a child's imagination or more.

That was when I felt his presence and turned to gaze upon him. He was a stately man dressed in the robes of the Elven Lords, and carrying himself as royalty did, though he wore no crown or symbol of office. I knew at once that he had the blood of Numenor within his veins and that he was cursed with the doom of man. He stood upon the edge of the grove, outstretching his hand towards Arwen in awe as he called out, "Tinúviel, Tinúviel."

Arwen turned back towards me, as though called by the voice, but her eyes passed over him meeting mine, the man vanishing with a breath of wind. "I do not know mother!"

Who is to say how many more years passed before my eyes and how my daughter seemed to grow from child into adult, or how soon the man from the dream was forgotten.

Yet, just before my intended journey to Lothlórien I found Arwen, Elladan and Elrohir returned from visiting the market, still lingering in the courtyard chatting eagerly. "And what did you buy today my dears?" I questioned approaching the three. Elladan and Elrohir were empty handed, but Arwen clutched a book closely.

"She's managed to get a hold of a book she used to drag around." Elladan answered before Elrohir tugged on his shoulder and the two trotted off towards the stable. "Though she does not need it, she can recite the entire book from memory!" He shouted back over his shoulder.

Arwen blushed as her gaze slowly meet mine. "Please do not tell father, mother. I do so love this tale. While grandmother always let me read it within the walls of Lothlórien, she will not let me keep it. Father is still insisting that I not read those books though he has already taught me the history of Tinúviel. I wonder if maybe he fears I will be carried away by the romantic perspective given in this tale, whereas his history was all doom and tragedy."

I could not help but smile at the memory of Elrond's tragic description of Beren and Lúthien, but I did not refuse her, for she was a lady now, beyond my control. Instead I watched her slowly move off towards her rooms with a sad smile. Turning back I gazed out across the court feeling in my bones that he should now appear. I was not disappointed, for indeed the young man charged upon a great horse into the courtyard, easily swinging down from his horse with nervous energy. He started forward but stopped hesitantly and turned back to the young horse.

"How do I do this Roheryn?" He questioned smoothing down the horses muzzle. "How do I tell the man I love as my father that I should like to take his greatest treasure? I know I will be dealing out a great blow to him, asking him to allow his daughter's death. What father could stand by and let such a thing pass. I do not think that I could do it, nor will I be able to stand his anger, to know that I have caused him such disappointment. I can not!"

He made to remount but instead buried his head deep within the horse's mane. "Perhaps the refusal shall hurt the most, to know that I must live with out the lady I love, the lady that I sought to forget during those forty years apart. The lady that has haunted my dreams since birth."

He pulled his head back gazing into the face of the horse. "Brave Roheryn, you where gifted to me by her, a noble steed to carry me through whatever my foster father might set before me, to ensure my return to her waiting arms. I would wish that I might ride you into that great hall for courage to face the father I love." Shaking his head he gently loosened the girth of the saddle. "Forgive me friend, but I do feel are welcome will not last long. We will undoubtedly be seeking shelter elsewhere tonight." Patting the horse gently the man quickly combed over his appearance, brushing off the dirt of travel before steeling his shoulder and marching off with a determined stride.

I remained where I stood gasping for breath before turning and fleeing the vanished scene. Yet there he stood within the hallway, older now then before, his gaze forlorn, his handsome face clouded with grief, eyes glued to the painting there upon the wall where Tinúviel gazed back. I watch transfixed as the mortal raised his hand and placed it over the painting, bowing his head.

"How can I place this curse upon you? How can you so willingly accept that which you should not know?" He asks the painting as his fingers slowly drop to his side, his head coming up, and eyes seemingly falling to my figure. It is then that she walks by, tall and stately, much like a Queen as she approaches her most beloved King. She glows with so much happiness that at first I do not recognize my own daughter.

"You depart soon for your quest milord!" I hear her whisper, her fingers tentatively reaching for his. "I know in my heart that you should succeed and rid the world of this great evil, and in doing so satisfy my father's demands so that we may be at last joined together." The man gently turns away from her, his haunting eyes falling to the floor, yet she will not stand for this, drawing his face back towards her. "As I once said upon the hills of Cerin Amroth I will cleave to you Dúnadan, for I should desire no life without you."

Just as they had appeared the forms vanished with a breath of wind, leaving me to stand in an empty hall. I knew then what I had to do, why I needed to leave at once for my mother's domain and at last confirm or deny my daughter's fate.

"You can not know daughter." Galadriel answered me as we stand before her mirror within the glades of Lothlórien. "It is not my places to speak of Arwen's future; I can but allow the mirror to show you what it will." I turn away from her to where Celeborn stands, worry etching his face.

"What brings these fears daughter?" He asks gently coming to stand at my side. "What could little Arwen have done to give you such ideas."

"I have seen a man walk the halls of Rivendell."

"And many do child!" He answers before I can finish. "Many of the hidden line take refuge within the last homely house, many of Isildur's heirs are raised within the protection of those halls."

"Yes but this is not one of those men father, he is an image, neither flesh nor spirit, perhaps a vision of the future or perhaps a fear growing in my mind. I have seen him three times now. Once in the glade calling out to Arwen, once in the courtyard as he worried over telling Elrond and once in the hall, mourning the doom of a choice. Arwen's choice to cleave to her Dúnadan!"

He wraps an arm around me gently. "My child whatever choice Arwen makes we must abide by, she is no longer a child and though we should desire to always protect her we must let her live her own life."

"This is little comfort!" I whispered and turned wandering away from my parents and through the many gardens, finally coming to a stop in the grove where I spent many a childhood hours roaming. Yet now as I walked the hills of Cerin Amroth, chills swept down my spine and turning I found my gaze meeting Arwen's. She looked older, much older then she should have been, grey fringing her beautiful dark hair and her eyes were older, the light gone. She smiles at me, a small smile that does not seem to touch her spirit. She is thin and pale and looks so cold, near radiates cold, sending tears down my cheek. She walks the grove clad in the deepest darkest black and turns back to me, as though she can see me. "Today is the day, two years have passed since Elessar departed, two years to this day, and I will not remain any longer."

I reach out to my little girl, wanting to hold and comfort her. But she turns away as the sound of silver bells seems to echo and I watch as a rider charges into the grove. He does not look much older, the man that I have now seen four times, not like the other mortals I have seen wrinkled by time and age, only his hair has gone silver and a silver beard stretches across his chin. He rides the same horse as before, only its coat is fringed with grey and his saddle is now draped with silver bells and white lilies. The man rides forward to Arwen, stretching his hand down to her as she smiles up at him, the light bouncing back into her eyes. She glances back at the grove, at me one last time then reaches up and grabs a hold of that outstretched arm. Suddenly the cold is gone, the grey and silver have been replaced by their youthful colors, her gown now pure white as the light sparks back into her eyes, her empty body falling limply down to the green.

Arwen snuggles close to his chest, wrapping her arms about him, her eyes falling to her lifeless body on the ground for only a second. "Sorry I'm late dearest, Roheryn got lost along the pathways." He whispers into her ear as the horse snorts and stamps a foot indigently, sending a melody of silver bells into the air.

Arwen smiles as he gently kisses the crown of her head. "It is no bother, my love! Alas, how far have we to go, I have slept very little since your departure."

He frowns smoothing down her hair gently. "And for that I am sorry my love, yet I promise you never again should we be parted. Now sleep I will wake you when we arrive love." He whispers urging. "Éowyn shall be glad to have you on her side, I'm afraid that she does not get along well with her mother or mother-in-law. And Faramir is quiet eagerly to resume your chess war and I'm afraid that Éomer, Merry and Pippin have composed for you a song that will not be pleasant for your ears." The disappear then in a cloud of white smoke, the bells jingling behind them for sometime and I am left standing in an empty grove with a lifeless body. Slowly I advance reaching down towards the cold body and watch as it vanishes before my eyes.

I could not escape that grove fast enough, and longed at once for the comfort of Elrond's arm, the reassurance that Arwen still dwelled upon this earth. Yet my return did not go as planned and I entered Rivendell ill from the poisoned wound, sick and weak I could scarcely remain conscious long enough to find comfort in my lord's arms or keep my eyes opened long enough to witness the living breath of my daughter.

Weeks passed and though my body healed my mind did not. Upon waking one fevered night I found not Elrond at my side but Arwen gazing down upon me with worried eyes. "Who are you talking to little one?" I asked in fevered state as she gazed down upon me confused. "Who are you singing to little one?"

Tears clouded her eyes as she gently took my hand. "I do not understand mother."

I smiled up at her, "Shall you not answer my question little one?" I reached with my freehand to smooth down her hair. "Who are you dancing with little one?"

A light seemed to strike across her eyes as she seemed to recall my words. "I was dancing with milord."

"What lord is that?"

"A noble lord that I will love and marry, mother!" She answered timidly, her grip tightening its hold to my hand. "He will save the world from the dark peril that struck at you and then we shall be joined atop a great white city filled with many noble men. The world will rejoice and we shall rule for many years together, raising our many little ones to carry on our legacy of peace."

"What will happen then?" I inquired smoothing down her dark brown hair, watching her pale face.

"The curse that was laid upon him at birth shall steal his light from middle earth, leaving me alone and I will travel deep into the woods of Lothlórien and await the cure to my grief upon the hills of Cerin Amroth where we will once again be joined beyond the known world."

"How do you know this my little one?"

"I do not know this mother, only that a mortal soul walks my dreams, and that I love him though I have not yet laid eyes upon his living form. We are destined to be one, and I am destined to share in his fate, choosing to remain at his side."

"And what shall I do when you depart for this other world?"

"You shall already be at peace with father, and you will know that I spent what years of my life in bliss at the side of the only man I will ever love."

I reached up taking her face in my hands. "I can not change your fate my little one, but must embrace it though it breaks my heart."

A year passed before I decided to depart the darks shores of Middle Earth. It is not an easy thing to leave behind loved ones, yet nor is it easy to stand at their side knowing what fate will befall them and I was not as strong as she, would never be as strong as my little one. As I prepared for departure from Rivendell for the last time, I took Arwen into my embrace and found that she pressed into my hands her beloved copy of the Lay of Leithian. Gazing down at the pages I asked her one last question. "How will you know when you have met your King?"

She smiled then, none too bright for the tears that clouded her eyes seemed to diminish her smile. "He will think me to be Tinúviel as I wander the gardens of Rivendell, and will call out "Tinúviel, Tinúviel." And I will know that fate has truly chosen to grant me the gift of men, for I can not see it as a curse yet."

"So be it my little one, yet I must still hope that one day you shall join me beyond this land in the home of your people. May the Valar bless it to be so!" Kissing her cheek I turned away from my daughter and departed across the sea.

I was healed of my poisoned wound within the undying land, but my heart would not so easily cure and often I wondered about my little one. Though it did not quickly stitch up the open wound in my heart the undying lands did allow contentment to sneak up, allowing me to gaze upon my daughter's situation with a new perspective. What would I have done had Elrond chosen a mortal life? Could I have forsaken all that I love, my father, my mother, and my kin. It scared me how quickly my heart answered. I would have sacrificed it all for my lord, without a doubt I would have remained at his side.

Ships came carrying our people and news of the darkening shores of middle earth and in these constant messages I took comfort.

"Milord Elrond has taken in the next heir of Isildur as they lately lost the previous heir." A friend explained after her journey across the sea. "And I must say that the lord has taken greatly to the young lad, considers himself to be a foster father. I had not seen him so amused and delighted with any of his mortal kin since you departed from those shores. Elladan and Elrohir have also adopted the young lad."

"And what of Arwen?"

"She departed from Rivendell for Lórien before young Estel's coming."

"Estel." I mused, the name striking a cord within my heart. "Hope! It is a noble name I think. And what is his given birth name?"

"Aragorn son of Arathorn."

The man's face flashed before my eyes, the same one I had seen in the glade, the courtyard, before the painting and upon the hills of Cerin Amroth. Fate had finally acted; there could be no doubts now, Elrond would be joining me soon, but he would be alone.