Echo

"Éowyn."

It's been a long time since she's been anything but Éowyn, a long time since she's heard her own name.

She doesn't know anymore if she would hear someone calling for Lôriel, hear it the way that makes her ears a little keener to catch it.

She hears Westron name that way now, finds herself thinking that she is Éowyn. Maybe she is.

Lôriel belongs to Rohan, to endless fields beneath a sapphire sky and proud stallions all fire and beauty.

In the empty white walls of Minas Tirith, someone is calling for Éowyn.


These Halcyon Days

"Farewell," he whispers against her hair.

She wants to say something - No, don't go, or, I love you, or perhaps merely, Farewell, then.

They are propped against a broad, rough tree-trunk, in the last lingering heat of summer. Too soon, Estel will leave to fulfill another part of his intricate and bothersome destiny.

She doesn't want him to go, not really, not while the leaves dapple them in filtered sunlight, and the golden pollen coats the meadows, and the lazy bees still hum their liquid song.

But there are no words to tell him this, so she does not.


Under a Swift Sunrise

"Namárië," she whispered to him softly.

He was still holding her hands, and she could imagine their silhouettes, still and proud, leaning away from each other and into the wind, on a great hill against the sky. She had come to die, but now she could see it was hardly death.

It was just one more door, and the lock had fallen away at last, and beyond it was Estel.

Legolas wanted her to come with him over the sea.

You can't die, Evenstar, he had said, You have to live.

And she had said, I've already done that.


Counterpoint

"Wait," she begs him, pressing harder against the cold fingers within her hand.

There is no response. The grey eyes do not open, and his heartbeat is barely a flutter.

Even as she holds his hand so hard that her knuckles have turned white, he is slipping away, his mortal human soul. His note was sustained for a long time, an old and kingly theme of the Ainulindalë, but he is leaving her all alone.

Arwen has never been the melody, and she does not want it.

She belongs in counterpoint, and now the wind has snatched the song away.


Altars of Blood

"Love," Elrond said solemnly.

Arwen bowed her head to hide her bitterness, and turned away.

He spoke again, but she was no more than a flash of white and black in the distance.

An eternal struggle in the stars, and scales untippable but with blood. A blood-price, a sacrificial lamb, and she this age's coin.

She did not question the truth, for it was always so, and Galadriel herself had foreseen it.

Her immortal fëa the cost, and the silver knife of slaughter to bind herself to a mortal man.

A small price, in truth, for all the world.


The Morning Queen

"Galadriel."

She is an explosion of golden sunlight breaking over the hills. There is no peace behind soft clouds or rain falling to earth. In daybreak and sunset both, she is fiery and unequivocal, harsh hot light against darkness.

The halfling is transfixed, holding the ring, and she hears promises: She will be the morning queen, and night gone forever.

But there is another voice in her mind, and he tempers her, his silver voice like rain, and he calls her as Sauron is afraid to. Galadriel.

Is that who she is?

She turns Frodo away.

She will remain Galadriel.


High Tongue

"Quenya?" she said.

Legolas laughed, and replied in kind.

Between accents and drawn-out vowels, their Sindarin was unintelligible. But Quenya was precise and accentless, with the careful pronunciation of a learned language.

So they walked through the summer together, and once, she reached out, as if to take his hand.

Undómiel was wise and fair, and he could learn to love her.

But he looked at her, and he knew it would be then as now, beautiful but uneasy, never the effortless song of a mother tongue.

And he shook his head, and smiled, and took his hand away.