A/N: I realize, thanks to a bit of info from Nemis that the first time Elrond met Celebrían was in Imladris. Unfortunately, I believed that one of my previous memories had them meet in Lothlórien. For the sake of this story, assume that it was the first time he saw her, and that he first met her in Rivendell. This is the last chapter ofBelethiland I hope that you've all enjoyed it. Thank you so much for all of your reviews and your support. It was wonderful. ^_^
"Grandmother extends her warmest wishes, and laments your long parting," Arwen Undómiel informed her father dutifully. Standing on her tiptoes, Arwen removed the crown of flowers from her own head and set it over the silver adornment that Elrond wore. Then she stepped out from under their cover and into the rain that was gently falling. Laughing at the simple pleasure, she spread her arms wide and twirled slowly around.
"It is a shame," Elrond agreed from beneath the sheltering roof of the gazebo cleverly hidden at the very center of the gardens. He smiled with amusement as he watched her catch raindrops on her tongue. In her moments of carefree abandon, he could see Celebrían in his daughter.
They remained there for an unmeasured time, long enough at least for the rain to cease and the bright rays of anar to disappear beyond the horizon. They might have stayed there all night, if not for Elrond's chief advisor, who came in search of him.
"Lord Elrond, your sons have returned," Erestor informed him, falling into step a pace behind Elrond as they left the gardens. Twirling a niphredil bloom idly between his fingers, which were thicker than other Elves because of his human heritage, Elrond said nothing for a long moment.
"Has Lady Gilraen been informed of Estel's return as of yet?" he inquired finally. Though his lord couldn't see it, Erestor shook his head, and then elaborated.
"No. He has managed to collect a few wounds-entirely superficial-and we thought it best you see to them first. The Dúnadan has recovered her old temper, as I am sure that you are aware." This answer startled a laugh from Elrond. It was true enough that she had nearly returned to herself over the last thirteen years. Though her face had become worn with lines of age and worry, Gilraen's sharp wit had not been lost.
"Send him to my study, Erestor, and I will see to him."
Elrond heard the whisper of feet a moment before the figure of a man appeared in his doorway. He was tall, with shoulders that were muscled if not broad. There were a few days of unshaved stubble on his jaw. Long dark hair was carelessly tied back with a length of leather thong. The clothes were foreign to Elrond, covered with dirt and other stains of travel. His eyes, though, were familiar, dark and lit with an impish mischief.
"Estel?" The question came out incredulous. The answering laughter was deeper than he remembered.
"You look as though you do not know me, Father," returned Estel, coming forward to stand beside Elrond's chair. "Erestor told me that I had to come here, so that I could protect you from my mother's wrath."
This time it was Elrond who laughed, but it was more than simply humor at the words of the son of his heart. He was pleased with what he saw before him. Estel had been mature in body, but now he was mature in mind.
Not that he was finished growing, of course. Estel would experience and learn for many more years.
"Walk with me awhile, my son," invited Elrond. It was time to tell the man what had been hidden from him for more that eighteen years.
Elrond led them down the narrow path which led to the mural which Estel had often studied, depicting the defeat of the Dark Lord at the hands of Isildur, son of Elendil. The human could feel a certain tension in the air, one not so much trepidation as...excitement. Sadness and pride both seemed to radiate from his father.
"What have you to tell me, Father?" Estel asked, brushing his callused fingertips gently over the broken hilt of Narsil. The shards, what remained of the sword that had cut the One Ring from the hand of Sauron, were displayed in the stone arms of a woman, her name long forgotten.
"I would tell you of your true heritage," Elrond said as he exhaled in a sigh. Estel turned his face curiously to the Elf; it had never been hidden from him that Elrond was not his true father. Until now, however, it had never matter who had truly sired him.
"Your true name is Aragorn, son of Arathorn, the fifteenth Chieftain of the Dúnedain of the North." Reaching into his robes, Elrond drew out a ring that sparkled in the soft glow of the newly risen moon. "Here is the ring of Barahir, the token of our kinship from afar."
He offered the ring to Estel, who took it soberly. Elrond then gestured to the statue. "Here also are the shards of Narsil. With these you may yet do great deeds; for I foretell that the span of your life shall be greater than the measure of Men, unless evil befalls you or you fail at the test. But the test will be hard and long. The Sceptre of Annúminas I withhold, for you have yet to earn it."
"Yes, Lord Elrond," said the man, who had once been called Estel, in a hushed tone. He stared for a long moment at the ring that lay passively in his hand. It was in the design of two serpents with emerald eyes, one devouring and the other with a crown of golden flowers. Aragorn knew much of this ring. It had been forged in Valinor and given as a pledge to Barahir. In Dorthonion, the ring had been cut off, along with the hand of Barahir, when he was slain as proof of his death, and both the hand and the ring were recovered by none other than Beren.
"I shall bear this with the honor that you have taught me, Father," swore Aragorn, touching his brow in a show of respect and bowing his head to Elrond. The lord removed the flowers from his head, placed there by his daughter and nearly forgotten, and settled them on Aragorn's dark head.
"I have faith that you shall, Estel," Elrond said, for the last time using the name of Aragorn's childhood. "Now go, find your mother and assure her that you are well."
Aragorn departed without uttering another word.
In the heat of laer, three Elves took time from their duties to relax on the banks of the Bruinen. The woman was a radiant creature, with hair the color of laurë that shone in the sun with the same luster as the White Lady. She played lazily with her daughter, a dark-haired youngster who greatly resembled her ancestor, Lúthien Tinúviel. Her father was similarly dark, with gray eyes that were as piercing as an eagle.
"Daddy, tell me again about how you felt when you first met mommy," requested a very young Arwen as she braided her mother's hair with delicate little fingers. Celebrían laughed delightedly at her words
."Arwen, sell-nîn, do you not tire of hearing it?" she asked gently, curling her toes in the grass. Elrond grinned at them, and put down the book in his hands. Sitting up, he swung his long legs around and rested his forearms on his bent knees.
"The first time that I saw your mother, I thought that Elbereth had descended into Imladris. My heart was lost, I think, even before she rode into view, for I could feel her approach with Galadriel." Celebrían laughed gently at her husband's words. There was a rosy blush on her alabaster cheeks, though, and he knew that his words pleased her. So he continued.
"Celeborn introduced me first, to his little girl. He was as proud as could be of her. I know how he felt," added Elrond, reaching over to tweak Arwen's nose. She giggled. "I did not know how I would be able to wait to have her."
"You, my lord, are shameless," his wife informed him, raising a silver eyebrow in his direction, with a suggestion that their daughter did not catch. He grinned with uncharacteristic wolfishness.
"Herves,you flatter me," breathed Elrond, and rocked up to his knees so that he could kiss her. Beside them, Arwen made sounds of disgust. She allowed them the intimacy for only for a few moments; then the girl started to pull on her mother's hand, demanding her attention.
"Mommy, play with me," she pleaded. Celebrían laughed and conceded. Rolling her eyes at her husband, she kissed him once more, and then left, following Arwen as the girl chased after a small frog that was hopping around in the grass.
Elrond settled himself again, bracing his body with his elbows. Instead of picking his book back up, he remained motionless, only his eyes moving as he watched the two women closest to his heart examine the amphibian that they had captured. With the certainty of a father, he knew that his daughter would become great, among mortal and immortal alike.
Calling up on the power of Vilya, Elrond raised a breeze. It gently swirled and buffeted around his family, who protested loudly. He did not acknowledge them, but picked up the abandoned volume and pretended to read it.
"Elrond Peredhil, just you wait!" Celebrían warned, her delighted laughter ruining the effect…
anar – sun
niphredil – white flower
laer – summer
laurë – gold (color, not metal)
sell-nîn – my daughter
herves – wife
The Sceptre of Annúminas - a silver rod, given to Elessar (Aragorn) at his wedding. It was brought to Middle-earth by Elendil, and was a mark of royalty of Arnor.