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To Aragorn/To Arwen Undómiel - by Windfola

To Aragorn

'Your mother was the first. She named you long before anyone could have guessed at what is now known. And she knew the pain it would bring her, try as you did to ease her burden. I marvel at how she knew somewhere in her heart that you would be the one, after fifteen generations of your line had been raised at Rivendell. I saw them all of course, but thought none especially fated or marked out to do more than keep your title, your lineage in readiness for you to claim it. Some lived into old age, that strange passing that I did not then understand, while others met a brutal, untimely end defending your people and mine.

And then to think that I missed your first twenty years, that you were born and grew at Rivendell while I was with my mother's kin and knew nothing of you until that day in the woods! Perhaps it was portentous that we did not meet when you were a boy, for your beauty struck me all the more when first I found you. I never thought to love a mortal man, but there was a life about your youthful poise that made me feel a girl again. Your features were not especially remarkable in themselves, not when taken one at a time; strong cheeks and fine nose and mouth. But put together they gave you a face so high and noble that those who recall Elendil saw him again in you. And your eyes; never had I seen such eyes! I thought your gaze would burn me all away to nothing.

You did not know that I overheard the words you had with my father before you left our home that spring. For many years he did not speak of it to me, and thus I discerned the depth of his feeling on the matter of our love. He saw it in my eyes just as truly as in yours, but his silence spoke aloud to me, knowing and loving him as I do. Well do you know what pain he felt when he heard my choice, and now each day brings us nearer to its renewal, when he will feel it like a spear-thrust and not a thing only of dread. I would he did not have to bear it! But how I love you, Estel. I could no more release you from our vows than I could wilfully hurt my father; and yet I must willingly drive home that spear to secure our love. I only hope it can survive his wounding. Dearly will it have been bought if it does not. But my father longs for the West and my mother's arms, and I must hope that, with their reunion, he will mend the pain of our parting.

Sixty years since we met. Half a lifetime for you and a mere season for me. Times there have been when I feared you could bear the waiting and the toil no longer and would throw away the future that my father has seen for you, for us both, in spite of himself. Or did you think I would waver in my purpose, or begin to love you less? Nay, dear heart, my love has waxed down the years, fed by our brief moments together, as Bruinen is fed by the new spring waters from the mountains. And here you are about to leave once more, but next time we meet I deem we shall not again be parted save by death. Now that I understand the Doom of men I choose it gladly and for you I will willingly pay the price.

AndÚril is in your keeping, and Roheryn awaits your need. Never have I bred a finer beast to carry his lord safe through every danger. He has the speed of his Elvish sires and the loyal courage of his hardy northern kin. And even now I work the last emblems of your house on this cloth of sable to send to you when the time is right. Would that I might ride myself to your side when that day comes, but I may not cross my father in all matters, and he would see me safe until victory is yours. I have not the heart to deny him that for I do not think he could bear to see me go to the same fate as my mother. So I must entrust it to my brothers, and to Halbarad, your lieutenant, and they will await your call. Do not forget your northern kin. Their love is stronger and more steadfast than any you may find in the South for have they not known you all your life and awaited you long before you were born?

This you must not forget. Elrond loves and cherishes you even as he grieves for me. He it is who saw your task and set it before you, that you might rise to meet it gladly, and not shrink from the burden of the shadow that threatens in the East. If I am the cause for you to go to war then Elrond grudges it not, for he more than anyone knows the power of a love that is fanned in the flames of separation. And at the last he will have me achieve my desire even at great cost to himself. For it will cost him dear.

But go now with all our hopes and claim what is yours, and do your part in defeating the shadow so that we may all go free; and know that, as an upward breeze lifts the soaring eagle, bearing him aloft to the heights so that he may behold all his realm, my love will hold you and see you through to the last.'

To Arwen Undómiel

'And Fate them forged a binding chain of living love and mortal pain'*

Arwen, vanimelda! Eight and thirty years it is since we were betrothed and too short have been the days. But yester-eve might have been our first meeting, so fair did you seem to me. Your face, your hands, your touch led my longing like a colt to the clover. In all that crowded hall yours were the only eyes my eyes could see, purblind and world-weary, until they took succour in your light, which flamed brighter than the fire in the great hearth.

A sorry thing was my first love for you, the innocent hope of a child that scarcely knows what he has found. But the days turned into months and years and in our precious moments I learned at your gentle hand how to give you of myself entire, to deserve your love, or so I dreamed. How we laughed and sang in those months of bliss, when we walked together among the mallorns and the golden elanor, and lived a lifetime in a single season! You bear still the ring of our forefathers that I gave to you as a pledge of our trust. But a far greater gift you bestowed upon me. It filled my heart until I thought it would burst, but for the grief that I knew it would bring to Elrond. He will willingly suffer a grievous loss so that we may be joined and I love him the more for it. As a father he has been to me. And at the last, that same grief must come even unto you, like a shard of glass between us, and already I ache with the pain of that parting.

But do you see that I still fear our meetings, fool that I am? That one day I shall come to you and you will shun me like yesterday's fruit, left to shrivel on the vine, not worthy even to fall at your feet. See; you can always reduce me to a timid, trembling thing, who have commanded armies and slain many foes. Oh to be worthy! I fear that even now I have not earned your esteem, fairest Evenstar.

Ageless, yet vital, your gaze is filled with wisdom, yet laughs with the spirit of youth and your footsteps dance like sunlight on the new rain, until the world dances with you.

The Harvest moon is dimmed as you shine by,
Your beauty would Eärendil's star fain keep.
And Twilight's wingéd creatures with you fly,
That you might grace their days with hallowed sleep.

Each night that I live I shall look upon Eärendil's star and think of you, and send my thought hither, for here my heart dwells until we meet again.

Beloved of the night, what hope have I of seeing you again? I dare not expect it. My final despair is never far behind, the dread that this may be our last parting. I can barely speak of it. But as long as I have strength to breathe, even as the Shadow fingers the very doors of Rivendell, I must banish despair. And it has always been thus. Tomorrow I must leave, to seek an end to the encroaching darkness. If I live and go not yet to my doom with a thousand thousand mothers' sons, then will I look to the long hope of our final union.

This blade you have kissed and sealed with your blessing. Its caress has kindled in me a new hope, the last hope of my people. A cold brightness flares about it and burns my heart with a fire that will not be quenched until its work is done. May it avenge your mother's hurts a hundred fold and earn anew its name.

I visited my mother's grave this night. If I had but one wish, it would be to see her here today, that she might look on us and know my joy. But it grieves me that by your choice you will not see your own mother even one more time. How can I ask you to give her up, to forsake your father too, for me? I who have lost both my parents know the pain that brings. But is that not the burden of every union, to give up one's former life and loves for the one love that replaces all? Aye and I have waited so long I have forgotten what it felt like not to be in love with you. That was indeed another life, long ago and I can never return there.

Farewell, Undómiel! I go now to my death or to our happiness.

* The Lay of Leithian, canto four (HOME vol 3 p. 184)

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