Frodo awoke to the sound of voices around him. They were calling to him out of the darkness, their hands touching him. As he came closer to consciousness, he felt the pain. His left side ached with it and he shivered uncontrollably. This was worse than his usual illness: when he had taken ill after the Ring was destroyed, he was still capable of holding conversations and moving around. He could barely breathe now. He had not been this sick since the last days of his journey to Rivendell.

He felt a warm, soft hand stroking his cheek and summoned all his strength to move his head towards it. He saw Este kneeling next to him, the light that surrounded her shining so bright it hurt his eyes to look at her. "Lady, help me," he whispered through ragged breaths. "Do not fear," she said. "It will soon be over." She laid a hand on his breast, hot against his cold skin. His heart was thumping and blood pounded in his ears. Somehow, he heard her voice: "Close your eyes, Frodo."

He did as she asked. Hands lifted him up into Este's arms and she cradled him. Another set of warm hands were placed on his head, the fingers stroking his temples. He shivered and moaned in pain from the cold that seized his side and shoulder. He tried to cry out, but his breathing hitched and he gasped, his mouth open in a silent scream of agony. He couldn't breathe. The pain he was in was unbearable; it was as if every inch of his body was on fire and drowning in deadly cold at the same time. Light and dark battled inside him. The darkness called to him: an end to the pain and the fear, if he would only let go.

Then he heard Este's voice, sharp as a sword in his mind. "Frodo, do not give up. Stay with us." It filled his head with images of everything beautiful he had ever known: the stars in the night sky, the sweet gentle waters of the Nimrodel, the face of Elanor as she laughed in his arms. He saw Arwen as she entered Minas Tirith with gems on her brow and the look in Aragorn's eyes when he saw her. The darkness rose to answer. He saw the faces of the Orcs as they questioned him in Cirith Ungol, licking the blood of their murdered comrades off their knives. "Sweet, sweet!" they said to him and laughed, their stinking breath in his face. He saw again the face of the pale king of the Nazgul, his blade striking Frodo in the shoulder and making it hurt afresh. Then it came: the Eye that had haunted his dreams. It was wreathed in flame, and he heard a voice calling for the Ring. It was as clear as if he was still wearing the Ring, but this time there was no escape. He was too weak to run. He felt himself falling and he grew colder and colder. It was the end.

He heard someone call him, a sense of urgency in the voice. "Frodo, come back!" With it came a sense of warmth that made him obey with his basic instincts. He came out of the darkness slowly and was hit with the pain again. His body shook violently and his heart pounded. Este's warm hand was still on his breast. He could barely feel it. He rolled his hands into fists, the nails biting into the flesh of his palms and cutting them. He felt hands on him, holding him down, and heard voices: the fair ones of the folk in Valinor speaking to him mixing with the evil voices of the Orcs he heard inside. It rose to a cacophony that made his head ache in pure agony. He longed to scream as loud as he could to drown them out, but he gasped for air, his chest heaving. Pain ran in waves through his shoulders and back. He felt trapped between the light and the darkness, each side so powerful that it threatened to tear his very spirit in two.

Through the agony in his body and the noise in his ears, he heard the voice of Este, as loud and strong as thunder. "Frodo, hear me! You must fight!" He heard her, and the voice commanded his attention. "Drive them out!" Through the darkness of his vision he saw her, standing in front of him, as beautiful as moonlight. Frodo felt the darkness inside and held it back, using all the strength he could muster. "No, no!" Este said. "Do not hold it back! You cannot! Look at me!"

He had no choice but to listen to her. Her voice was too powerful. His body writhed in torment and he felt like he was being ripped apart. He tried to focus on her, on the light. She smiled at him. "Do not fear," she whispered. "Let it pass through you." He forced his tortured mind with all his might to keep seeing her, to keep hearing her voice. Before his eyes she changed. She became a flame of pure white light, like being face-to-face with a star. "Let it pass through you," she repeated. Finally, the last reminants of his mind let go. The darkness threatened to engulf him, longing to pull him down. His side and shoulder flared with pain and he tried to scream in agony, but no noise would come from his throat. He heard her voice again, telling him not to fear, and he kept his mind on her. He felt a snap like a tether and the icy ache from his injured shoulder disappeared. Then the bright figure was Este again, her figure glowing with white light in a halo around her. She extended her hand, calling his name. He reached out for her, and he felt himself pulled with force towards her and the light around her.

Hands lifted him up and placed him back down on the grass. He was still gasping and he thought that he would never be able to breathe again. Frodo felt Este's hand grasp his and hold it tightly. "Calm yourself," she whispered. "Breathe deeply. You have done well." His body shook and then finally he was still. His heart and breathing slowed. Finally, he opened his eyes and saw her face, shining in the moonlight, Varda's stars above her. Her eyes were filled with love and tenderness. She was stroking his face, her thumb tracing the fine lines in the corner of his eye. Tears slipped down his cheeks, one falling onto her finger. Frodo tried to form words, but he was so weak that his mouth would not move the way he wanted it to. She touched his forehead, smiling at him. "Rest now, Frodo." His eyes closed and sleep claimed him.

It was not voices he heard when he awoke, but the sound of running water. It was still night outside and he was lying on the soft grass, a blanket wrapped around him. He was weak and could barely keep his eyes open, let alone move his limbs. "Lady?" he whispered, his voice hoarse. "I am here, Frodo," he heard her say, but he did not see her. "Rest and save your strength." He closed his eyes again, but did not sleep.

The silky blanket that covered him was taken off, and he felt hands at the buttons of his tunic. Someone was undressing him...he remembered the two servants who had stood by the pedestal and nodded to Este. Frodo was reluctant to have his clothing taken off, but he was too weak to protest and could only silently wonder what they were doing to him. He moaned in pain as he was moved into a sitting position, but someone put their arms around him and let him rest his head on their shoulder. Their clothing was soft on his cheek and had a sweet scent. Another person stroked his hair, whispering to him words of peace in a soft voice.

He felt warm water on his left shoulder, and he tensed and cried out softly in an automatic response. "The waters of my fountains have healing abilities," he heard Este say. "You will feel better soon." Once he was used to the water, it started feeling good and he relaxed. The hands on him were gentle, and Frodo could not remember a time when he felt so well cared for. They bathed all of his scars, paying special attention to the mark on his shoulder and the stump of his missing finger. They scrubbed his nails, which still had blood underneath them from when he had driven them into his palms. After a while, it stopped hurting when they moved him, though he still felt tired.

When they were finished, they dried him off and redressed him in clothes of a soft Elvish fabric that seemed to have been made especially for him. The jewel that Arwen had given him was slipped around his neck. He felt stronger and was able to sit up without help. They gave him some water in a silver cup that he had to grasp with both hands, and with it some sweet fruits and bread. He was placing the cup down when he saw a flash of something white. He brought it close enough to himself that he could see his reflection in it. In his hair, right above his brow, stood a streak of hair that was now completely white. He'd had grey hair before he journeyed West, but he'd never had a white streak in front.

He lowered the cup and looked at Este, who knelt in the grass close to him. She smiled slightly at him, but it was a male voice he heard. "One final mark, I am afraid." Frodo moved his head around quickly and discovered that the voice he had heard came from the tall male. Like Este, he had spoken to Frodo without opening his mouth. He stood by the pedestal, grass between his bare feet, the moonlight glistening on his silver robes. He was so tall that Frodo nearly had to lean backward to see him. "Who are you?" he asked, his voice trembling slightly. "I saw you before."

The tall man (or Elf, Frodo was not quite sure), sat down on the grass beside him. He looked deep into Frodo's eyes, much like Este had done when she first came to him. If Este had reminded him of his mother, this man reminded him of what he remembered of his father. His eyes were bright and keen, displaying both great wisdom and great curiosity. As the man looked at him, images suddenly filled Frodo's head: memories of his childhood in the Shire, the faces of his friends, the towers of Minas Tirith, and the dark desert of Mordor. Frodo shivered at the last memory; although it was dimmer than he remembered it, it was still enough to strike fear into his heart.

"They will always be with you, Frodo: these memories, both the pleasant and the unpleasant. Nothing we can do here will ever change that, nor would we want to. Your happiness and joy, as well as your suffering and sacrifice, are now part of you. But be comforted by the fact that no illness will ever touch you again while you dwell here in Aman. You have driven it out, though it almost destroyed you." Frodo reached up and ran his fingers through the white streak in his hair. "I was in too much pain to think much of anything, but all I wanted was for it to end." He paused. "The Lady healed me. I could not have done it on my own."

He heard the man's voice in his head again. "Este aided you along the way. She kept you alive and prevented you from slipping into darkness. It was you who finally confronted it, Frodo. It was you that drove it out." Frodo's eyes widened as he finally understood. "When I saw the Lady, I was ready to give up. She made me hold on. I thought I would go mad from all the voices I heard, but somehow I heard hers and listened. And then I saw her, and she told me I had to fight, and suddenly I had the strength in me." He sighed. "I would get sick before and it was so hard to hold the darkness off. I would long sometimes to give in, to just let it end. I was never strong enough before to drive it out. I would just hold it back, not try to expel it. That was the key, wasn't it?"

Este spoke. "Had you tried without our aid, it most certainly would have killed you. It nearly did just now. But you are very strong, Frodo. You do not realize the strength that lies within you. It was enough to help you bear a burden so powerful no one else would touch it." The man spoke again. "And I did my part, helping you to see Este and focus on her light. I am Irmo, master of visions and dreams. The Elves prefer to call me Lorien, and I answer to it. I sent you many dreams along your journey, both dark and light, for I knew that they would aid and guide you." Frodo thought of the dreams he could remember: the Sea and the shore with gemstones mixed in the sand; the glimpses he'd had of Sam and his family; and the dark dreams he had where he relived his journey in Mordor. He realized the dreams he'd often had of the Sea and the sparkling shore were of Valinor, long before he had made the decision to leave Middle-earth. He also thought of the shared dream between Faramir and Boromir, the one that had sent Boromir to Rivendell and into the Fellowship. "Did you know what was going to happen?" he asked.

"We do not know, or profess to know, the designs of Eru. Only my brother Namo knows, who keeps the Halls of Waiting, and he does not speak of the future. However, Eru does speak to us and we do what we can to fulfill his designs. It seems that you had a unique destiny, Frodo Baggins. Many small occurrences happened that led you along the path to do what Eru wished for you to do."

"Why me?" Frodo asked. "I failed. In the end I claimed the Ring and thought I had the power to challenge Sauron. It was only through luck that it was even destroyed."

"But it was destroyed," Lorien said. "The danger of the Ring was not in the power that it gave its master. While it was lost that power was lost as well. Its true danger was making its bearer think he could wield that power. When you volunteered for the Quest, the Wise knew that you would not be able to bear it to the end. Even you knew, but you went anyway. That was what you accomplished -- not being afraid to do a task that was thought impossible. There are few who would try such a task. It was your destiny to be one of them."

"How do you know so much about what happened in Middle-earth?" Frodo asked. "Do not think that because we live far away, we know nothing of the people in Middle-earth," Lorien replied. "We love all who dwell there, though that love sometimes causes us grief and pain. We aid you and watch over you in our own ways. We know that not all Men believe we exist and we do not blame them for thinking so, for they have never seen us with their own eyes. But though they may not believe in us, we do send them aid. We shaped Middle-earth with our own gifts and it will forever be dear to us."

Este rose. "No more questions, Frodo.You have been through a lot tonight and you need your rest. There will be time enough to ask us whatever you like." Frodo did not argue with her. He did feel tired. He lay flat on the grass and one of the servants covered him with a blanket. He closed his eyes and listened to the quiet sounds around him for a few minutes, and then fell fast asleep.

He awoke back on his couch again, wrapped warmly. For a moment he thought that his experience had been a dream, but he was wearing the new clothes that he had been given. The tunic was soft and had buttons carved like beautiful golden flowers. He smiled when he looked at them, marvelling at the craftmanship of the Elves. His old clothes had been folded and placed on the ground beside him, but with a smile Frodo realized he much preferred his new ones.

He stretched and got up, looking at the Sun. It seemed to be early morning; the light of the Sun warmed the air but there was a layer of dew on the grass that made it feel cool under his feet. He walked around the garden, looking for Gandalf. The wizard had a habit of staying close by Frodo at night, though he seemed to need much less rest. Frodo called his name over and over, but Gandalf was nowhere to be found. "I suppose he'll be back soon," Frodo muttered and sat down on the cool grass. He did not feel weary. In fact, he felt better than he had in a long while. He thought about it for a few moments, and realized that he felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off him. He remembered clearly how he had felt just after the Ring had been destroyed, when he thought for sure he was going to die. He'd felt a great sense of peace then, a willingness to accept his own fate without a struggle. He and Sam had walked together, down to the ashen hill at the foot of the mountain. Then darkness had claimed him, but he accepted it. He'd hovered for what seemed like eternity between death and life, and it was only when he saw Aragorn that he came back fully...

He had not remembered before that it was Aragorn that called him back, through the grey mist and the darkness. He had only remembered waking up, surprised to be alive and too overjoyed to see Gandalf to think about much else. Gandalf had told him then how close they had come to losing him, but Frodo could not remember until now. For a while, his joy lasted -- joy in seeing his companions alive again, seeing the celebration in the city, and seeing Bilbo again. And then, as they drew closer to the Shire, the heaviness had come back. That day when they were crossing the Ford and he had taken ill, he realized that he would never be at peace. He had remembered Arwen's gift, but that day in Minas Tirith it had seemed so far away. Why would he want to pass West? There was so much still to do in Middle-earth. Had they known? Had Arwen and Gandalf and Elrond and Galadriel known that he would never find peace again? Frodo supposed they had. If they had told him, he might have given up the Quest and left the Ring to someone else to cast away. Before, he would have blamed them for not telling him, but now he understood. He remembered what Lorien had said to him, that he had a unique destiny. Eru had wished it, and so it was done. None of them could have turned him from his path.

He heard a quiet footstep nearby and turned toward it. A figure was walking towards him: he looked like a Man but was tall, slender, and fair like an Elf. He had dark hair and large blue eyes that sparkled with mirth yet contained depths of knowledge. He grinned at Frodo and sat down facing him, practically in the hobbit's lap. "Hail and well met, Frodo Baggins," he said. Frodo looked at him strangely, one eyebrow slightly cocked in a quizzical expression. "Hail and well met."

"I suppose you are wondering who I am," the man said. His voice was deeper than was normal for an Elf's. It had a slight gruffiness to it, like the scent of old leather. "Of course, being a well-mannered hobbit you are much too polite to ask anything. I daresay this is conduct unbecoming of a wizard, is it not?"

Frodo's eyes narrowed. "A wizard?" He thought for a second and then laughed. "Gandalf, is that you?" The man's grin grew wider. "There are few things that go over your head, Frodo." The hobbit stared at him for a few moments. The eyes...his eyes looked the same as Gandalf's had. They were bright and keen and twinkled with curiosity. "It is you!" Gandalf laughed and threw his arms around Frodo in a tight embrace. "This is such a wonderful surprise!" Frodo said, and Gandalf laughed. "I would have liked to toy with you a bit more, my friend. You should have seen the look on your face when I sat down beside you!" They both laughed and embraced again. "Gandalf, you look so different," Frodo said. "The only thing familiar about you are your eyes and your voice. Is this how you always look in the West? It is a bit difficult for me to forget the old grey wizard that I knew." Gandalf smiled at the comment. "We wear many different forms, and sometimes we wear no forms at all and travel invisible. When I was sent over Sea with the other Istari we were given the bodies of Men so that we could be closer to those we were sent to protect. I tended to look like this in my youth, back when I was known as Olorin."

Frodo's eyes widened. "I remember Faramir saying that name once. You told him that was what they called you here in the West. Should I call you that? It feels strange to me to call you Gandalf when you look so different." Olorin grapsed Frodo's shoulders. "Call me whatever you like, Frodo. I have answered to many names in my life and I like them all." He studied Frodo with his bright eyes. "How are you feeling? Lord Irmo told me this morning that you had quite a trying time." Frodo paused for a moment, lowering his gaze, and then looked at him again. "I feel wonderful. I feel lighter, somehow, as if I've been carrying a weight on my shoulders for so long that I'd forgotten it was there, and now that it's gone I realize how heavy it was." Olorin nodded. "I know how you feel, my dear hobbit. I felt much the same after I came back from Moria. When the Valar sent me back, I was still in the body of a Man with all its weaknesses and shortcomings, but I felt stronger and lighter, as if all the cares I had carried for nearly an age had been lifted off of me." Olorin rose and extended his hand to Frodo. "If you are not too weary, I would like to hear more of what you experienced." Frodo took his hand and got up, accepting his offer.

More days passed. How many, Frodo was not sure, but as time went on he started to miss Bilbo more and more. He had never been to a place as fair as the gardens of Lorien before and did not want to leave, but his concern for Bilbo grew. He felt guilty for spending so much time away from him when the old hobbit was nearing the end of his life. He probably only had a few years left and Frodo had not spent a great deal of time with him since he had left the Shire twenty years before. Olorin seemed to sense how Frodo felt, but did not mention it. Frodo knew that Olorin was leaving the decision to him.

One night, Frodo was sitting by one of Este's fountains. It was not one of her larger or more beautiful ones, but Frodo had seemingly claimed it as his favorite. It was only a few feet wide but the bottom was plated in silver so that the stars above were reflected in the water. The edge of it was wide enough where Frodo could sit on it without worrying that he would fall into the water. The fountain was so clear that he could see his reflection in it. Tonight he wanted the aid of a looking-glass.

He had noticed when he was dressing that the scar on his shoulder had faded. Before it had been a pale but large mark on his shoulder, raised where the skin had knit together when it healed. Now it was smaller and only slightly raised. He supposed it would never go away, but he was surprised to realize that he liked it being there. His scars would always be with him, like Lorien had said. They had become a part of him, like his hair or his eyes. Frodo would never have felt the same if they were gone.

He was studying his reflection in the fountain when he felt a presence behind him and turned around. Este stood there glimmering, with a gentle smile on her face. She walked toward him and sat down on the edge of the fountain, dipping one of her hands into the water. "I once knew a hunter named Tilion who would come to this fountain and stare in it for days on end. He loved silver above all else, and carried a silver bow with him wherever he went. He told me that he loved the way the water looked silver in this fountain and how the light would glint off it. When the vessel of the Moon was made, he begged us to be allowed to guide it, for it was the last silver flower of Telperion the White. We agreed, but his path is erratic and unusual. He longs to be near to Arien who guides the Sun. Sometimes they meet, and darkness comes during the day. We can sense his joy when he is near her."

Frodo smiled. "I remember one of those times, from when I was a child," he said. "The sky grew dark in the middle of the day, and many of the hobbits went inside because they were frightened. I didn't, though. I stayed outside and watched, and it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. I remember feeling sorry for the hobbits who hid themselves, because they missed something remarkable." He sighed. "It is so beautiful here, Lady. I cannot imagine a place that is more peaceful or more fair. I do not want to leave, but I miss Bilbo. Olorin told me not to worry about him, but he is very old, Lady. I want to spend as much time with him as I can. I fear that he does not have much longer, and once he is gone, I will be alone. Bilbo is the only family I have left."

Este smiled at him, a touch of sadness in her eyes. "I know that you love him, Frodo. He was brought West not only to be healed of his want for the Ring, but because you love him. Do not think we underestimate what he means to you. But Bilbo has some years left in him. Not many, but more than you realize. I know that you would like to spend those years with him." She paused. "You and Bilbo are the first mortals who have ever dwelt in the Undying Lands. We have not the power nor the right to take your mortality from you, for it is a gift from Eru. Your mortality is part of who you are. No illness will touch you here in the West, but you will age and grow weary. When that happens, you may give up your life freely and loose your ties with this world. We know not what happens to you afterward, but we know that it is not anything to be afraid of. And then a day will come when we all will meet again and sing in a Great Music for Eru who created us."

"I am not scared," Frodo said. "I will tell Bilbo what you told me, although I don't think he's quite ready to go yet. Thank you for everything you have done for me." Este rose and ran her fingers through Frodo's hair. "Three nights from now, meet us here when the Moon is at his highest. We will make our farewells to you."

"Thank you, Lady," Frodo said and bowed. She smiled softly at him and walked away.

Three nights later, Olorin and Frodo waited to say farewell. Olorin had agreed to come back to Eressea with Frodo, for he wanted to spend time with the hobbits. "Won't you miss Valinor?" Frodo had asked, but Olorin chuckled. "I won't spend every waking moment with you, my friend! I suspect there will be much coming and going between Eressea and Valinor these days." Frodo had laughed and agreed. Olorin had become a bit more serious and told Frodo that Este had asked him to guide both Frodo and Bilbo in their recoveries. "You have driven the greater part of the darkness out of yourself, Frodo," he had said, "but there is still more to be done. The Ring made its mark on both your hearts and we will do our best to remedy it. It will not be easy and it might take a long while, but I promise that we will do everything in our power to aid you both."

Now Frodo sat at the edge of the fountain, watching the leaves sway in the gentle breeze. He could hear the singing of the Elves and the Maiar from a short distance away. Then he saw Este and Lorien walking towards him on the grass. His face broke out into a grin and the two Valar smiled warmly at him. "Greetings, Frodo and Olorin," Lorien said. "Before you depart, Este and I have a gift for you," He knelt on the ground, beckoning Frodo to come closer. Frodo stood in front of Lorien, who closed his eyes gently with his fingers and clasped Frodo's hands. Frodo saw a ship in front of him at the docks of Avallone. Elves were walking off it, some into the waiting embraces of long-waiting kin and friends. One small figure walked with them, barely visible between the tall Elves. His hair was all white and his face was wrinkled, but his brown eyes sparkled with barely contained excitement. "Sam," Frodo whispered, his eyes filling with tears. Sam was so close -- he was walking on the quay, his eyes searching the croud of Elves who had come to greet the ship, looking for the one face he had come so far to see. Frodo tried to run forward to greet him, but before he could, the vision faded. Frodo opened his eyes and looked at Lorien. "You will see him again, but it will not be for many years," he said. "And you will have many more years after that to spend together. We want you to know he is coming, so you will not give up your life before he comes." Frodo turned his head to Este, who looked at him with fondness in her eyes. Lorien stood to his full height and majesty, but he had a kind smile on his face. "I will send you a dream when it is time. Until then, be blessed and healed, Frodo Baggins."

"I cannot thank you enough for all you have done for me," Frodo said, looking at both of them. Este blessed him, her soft hands touching his forehead. "There is no need. It has been a pleasure to us to know you and learn about you, for we delight in discovering new things. You are at the beginning of another long journey, but peace lies at the end of your road." Then, to Frodo's surprise, she knelt and embraced him. He put her arms around her, holding her tightly. She let go and tears freely rolled down Frodo's cheeks. "Thank you so much, Lady," he whispered. She smiled at him, wiping his tears away with her fingers and caressing his face.

Then she stood and Lorien clasped her hand. Frodo bowed and Olorin tipped his head in respect to both of them. "Until we meet again," he said. "Farewell, Olorin," Lorien answered. He and Frodo turned and started walking away. After a few minutes, Frodo turned back and saw the Valar still standing together, the light around them making them look like one form. He raised their hand to them in farewell, then turned and walked faster. He did not look back again.

It was sunset when the ship pulled in to the harbor of Avallone. The voices of the Elves were raised to welcome the starlight. Shadowfax walked slowly, taking his time in riding through the city. Deep night had fallen when they reached the hall where Frodo and Bilbo both dwelt. Olorin left Frodo off, telling him he would see him in the morning. "I am sure Bilbo will be glad to see you," he said with a smile. Frodo smiled back at him and went inside.

He walked down the long hallway to Bilbo's room, his quiet hobbit footsteps making no noise in the silent hall. Suddenly, he started walking faster, and then he was running like a tween being caught stealing from a pantry. He ran as fast as he could, smiling and laughing as the wind stroked his face. He ran all the way to Bilbo's door. The old hobbit was sitting in a chair, his small body almost buried in it. He had a book of Elvish lettering on his lap and he was obviously trying to study. "Bilbo!" Frodo yelled, running toward him. Bilbo turned toward Frodo, his eyes shining with happiness. "Oh, Frodo my lad! I am so happy to see you!" The hobbits wrapped their arms around each other, and Bilbo held Frodo with a surprising amount of strength. They pulled away long enough to realize they were both weeping, and Bilbo ran his fingers through Frodo's dark curls, fingering the small streak of white in the front. He cupped Frodo's chin in his hands, taking a good look at him. "My boy, you look wonderful! I haven't seen you look this happy...well, since that silly party of mine all those years ago! You must tell me everything that happened, of course." He moved over and Frodo was surprised to discover they both fit in the chair together. They sat facing each other and talked for hours, having a good talk as only hobbits could.

Eventually Bilbo fell asleep, and Frodo covered him with a blanket. He stood by him a moment, stroking his white hair fondly with a smile on his face. He walked over to the balcony and looked out, past the green cliffs of Avallone and onto the dark sea that shone tipped with silver in the moonlight. He looked at the Moon and thought of Este's story of Tilion, and the story of Earendil the Mariner, father of Elrond, who bore a Silmaril through the night sky. He could see it, far above him, glinting like an adamant, and for the first time, it wasn't just a story told by the Elves in the Hall of Fire. It was real, as real as anything had ever been to him. He remembered the way Este's hands had felt on him, and knew her to be real. The Valar weren't just a reverent name to him -- they had faces, they had voices, they had smells and touches and grass between their toes. Valinor was real to him, and Tol Eressea. He was finally home, and he knew that he would find peace.