Epilogue – Edoras, year 38 of the Fourth Age/3059 according to the old reckoning
It is a chilly morning in March. I have taken my tea into the study and now I am sitting here with my old leather-bound journal on the desk before me. A moment's peace until I have to try and teach my grandchildren their letters and figures; the last tutor has despaired of them and it will take a few weeks yet until the scholar Aragorn is sending to us from Minas Tirith will get here. So it's my task to see to it that these rascals don't forget all they should have learned by now until Master Hathorn gets here. I just hope that this new teacher has more endurance than the last two.
As I look up, I see my reflection in the window panes. The candle light and the milky glass of the thick round panes soften the lines left in my face by the passage of the years. This is fitting, I think, for even if my face is lined, my heart is not: most of these years were good years. Apart from the wrinkles, not much has changed, to my surprise. Well, I'm not quite as quick and mobile as I was at twenty-five. And a few other things about my appearance have changed as well, but only a few. With the wrinkles in my face I have acquired grey streaks in my hair. I need glasses to write and to read, but thank God I have kept my teeth. And I am not fat yet. The busy life here at the Meduseld, along with assorted children, grandchildren, the horses, the dogs and my indefatigable husband keep me fit.
I smile: I have been truly blessed. Eru and the Valar have guarded me and my family. All of our children have lived to grow up.
In the first pages of my journal I have painted a family tree. They are all in there, my children, my sons and my daughters, their wives and their husbands, as well as their children – and soon, I think, their children's children. For Elfin is sweet on Richildis; he thinks he is hiding it well, but I have seen the way he looks at her – and the way she looks back. She is a sweet girl, the youngest daughter of the present lord of Dunharrow; a suitable match.
Elfwine is now the Second Marshal of the Mark, and Theoderich has been made Third Marshal this year. Their wives, Freya and Marthe, and all of their children – seven between the two of them – live with us in the palace of Meduseld. Quite happily, too; although sometimes I feel that even a palace can get crowded with so many children underfoot.
Perhaps that's the reason why Gandalfr has left us to join the Dúnedain. No, not really, of course. He's simply the lone ranger among our children.
Míriam lives with her husband, Peregil, and their four children in Minas Tirith. She's one of Arwen's ladies in waiting and the only one who can tame the Queen's three youngest girls.
Our youngest child, Theresa, will turn twenty-five this October. She has married last summer, Frohwein's eldest son, Alarich. He's a good man and the horses love him. That's what Éomer said when told about Alarich's intentions towards our daughter. A Rider's priorities! I wanted to know if she loves him. She said yes. Before the year is out I will be a grandmother twelve times over. It is hard to believe that my little Theresa is now as old as I was when the war was over and I fell in love with Éomer all those many years ago.
Éowyn was not as lucky as I am. Two of her sons, Faron and Eor, lie buried in the secret garden of Henneth Annûn. But her four grown children, Elboron, Lothírion, Merrywyn and Tassilo are her pride and joy. Between them they have provided Éowyn and Faramir with seventeen grandchildren up until now. They are even more productive than my lot; almost like hobbits.
Arwen has by now seven daughters (out-producing Fëanor! But they say that after a war there are always many children born for a generation or two, in order to make up for the losses; and the losses were many and harsh, in the war that won us the peace of the Fourth Age). Arwen's and Aragorn's daughters are two pairs of twins, Celair and Celu, Gail and Galathil, Elloth, Elroa and Felicitas – all of them beautiful and wise beyond the regular human being. Blood will tell! But they have only the one son, Eldarion. He was born in December. Yes, December last year. Although Arwen does age since she chose a mortal fate, to live and die with her husband, she ages much slower than the rest of us, and – alas – also much more gracefully. When she married Aragorn, she seemed to be the same age as Éowyn and I were at the time. By now she looks twenty years younger than we are. We tease her about it and call her "kiddo". She does not like that one little bit. I can't help grinning when I think about that joke…
Ah, the years are truly flying by like leaves in the wind.
But there's still so much to do.
And I am not really old yet.
Why, I have only just turned sixty-five.
I still have another year to go until I can sing an old German song I remember from my childhood, so far away now that it seems like a distant dream. But I do remember that song. It goes like this: "Mit 66 Jahren, da fängt das Leben an, mit 66 Jahren, da hat man Spaß daran…"
"When you are 66, life has only just begun, when you are 66, you can still have a lot of fun…"
I think I will hold with that.
Now, where are those grandchildren of mine?
They should have been here half an hour ago. And it's much too quiet outside in the hall. I bet they have hidden in the stables again. Éomer will kill them if he finds them with the stallions again.
I guess I'd better go and get them.
So much for a peaceful morning…
I can hear you exclaiming, "What? But why is this 'The End'?"
Well, actually, it's not – or not quite at least.
Between chapter 109 and Lothy's attempt to find a bit of peace and quiet in this epilogue lie many years, with war and peace, happiness and sadness, births and deaths. And in a folder in my computer there are enough scenes already prepared to last for another 50 chapters I think.
But: I have been working on "Lothíriel" for more than a year now.
It's time for me to take a break.
Thank you for taking this incredible journey with me, for your encouragement and your enthusiasm in the many, many comments and mails you wrote to me!
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