Waiting for a Thousand Years
1. Waiting for a Thousand Years
"The most decisive actions of our life -- I mean those that are most likely to decide the whole course of our future -- are, more often than not, unconsidered." —Andre Gide
Eowyn stood in the middle of the crowd, ignoring and being ignored. If only she could last another half-hour, then it would all be over, and she could leave without causing commotion. But as the bright lights made her eyes ache throbbingly, and the loud dance music swirled about her head, complete with the heat and noise from so many bodies moving and talking around her, her head began to feel light and her stomach began to rise. Knowing what was coming, she began to leave, neither slowly nor swiftly but some pace hopefully appearing normal. But as soon as it was all behind her, and no one watched what she did, Eowyn ran quickly and unsteadily to the balcony, her stomach heaving.
It was lovely and cool out here, but she had endured too much that day, and so swiftly lost her supper over the railing. Oh, how she wished she had never ridden to the Fields of the Pelennor. Months away from that dreadful day and yet the Black Breath still troubled her, causing her constitution to be delicate and troublesome as it never had been before. She was told that it would slowly fade away until it was finally gone, but such knowledge could not take away the facts: she felt weak, and she had hoped never to feel that again.
But it was only a minute before it was all over, and her stomach settled back down where it belonged. Leaning on the rail, though a little more firmly now, she brought out her kerchief to wipe her face.
Suddenly a voice spoke near her head, quiet and concerned: "Shall you be well?"
Despite everything, she jumped back a few feet, her arms raised automatically in defense. But the kind face she looked up to belonged to—an Elf. Oh why did it have to be an Elf?
"Yes, I shall," she said, faltering a little. Though she had known that elves were strange and marvelous before returning here, and though she had even seen Legolas, it unnerved her still to see so many different elves in the White City. "The heat grew oppressive," she added.
He smiled, and she relaxed, pushing back her hair from her forehead. "I can be sympathetic to such a reason," he said. "I have been conversing with the stars for some time."
"You—can speak to stars?"
The tall Elf laughed and shook his head, his hair, golden rare among Elves, dancing merrily with the movement. "Nay, lady, we Elves are not quite so strange. And indeed, even if I could, there is only one star in the sky that could answer. But nay, I meant it only in the metaphoric sense."
She flushed a little, but gave a hint of a smile. Her nerves were calming now under the soft light of stars, where the evening summer breeze was like cool water on her face, refreshing and reviving.
"Do you need anything?" asked the Elf again. "I can escort you to your room, if you are unwell, or send a message to your kin."
"No. I thank you, but no, my lord—?"
"Thank you, my lord Glorfindel, but I shall be much more well where I am."
"Will they not miss you and seek for you?" he asked.
She laughed a little. "I think not. I have sought to avoid attention this evening, and have succeeded; it is wearisome, I now find."
Glorfindel nodded slowly. "With little difficulty can I relate to that."
"Yes, of course," answered Eowyn understandingly. "For the whole city is alive with excitement to see those of Elven kind. I cannot but feel for you and your kindred."
"Oh, that is not so much a trouble," said Glorfindel lightly. "I speak of what happens back in my home, in Imladris."
"What gives you such appeal?" asked Eowyn, curiously.
"I died," said Glorfindel.
Eowyn blinked and started, and Glorfindel laughed, saying, "I beg your pardon, I should not have surprised you. Do not be uncomfortable, though, for I have quite grown used to it. It was a strange occurrence, for I died and was sent back to Middle-earth, the only one of my kindred to have done so."
Eowyn did not know where to look, but Glorfindel, having several millenia to master tact, got rid of any lingering awkwardness by adding drolly: "I can imagine that avoiding attention is just as difficult for Lady Eowyn Wraithslayer."
She looked up and her mouth twisted into a little smile. "Perhaps so. How did you know my name?"
He now eyed her curiously, saying: "I have to confess, I have been very interested in you—personally—for some time."
"Oh," said Eowyn rather quickly, surprised and put out of composure. "What do you mean?"
"Well," began Glorfindel, "that which you did on the Fields was especially important to me, for I had some part in it, long ago."
"Did you face—him?" she asked.
"No, not like that," said Glorfindel. He paused. "Did you know of the prophecy about—him, that he should not be felled by the hand of man?"
"Then? No, I did not, but I have been informed so since," answered Eowyn.
"It was I who prophesied that."
Eowyn looked up with surprise. "But that was almost a thousand—" She stopped, remembering the immortality of Elves.
Glorfindel laughed softly. "Yes, and for almost a thousand years, I have waited for the one who would be the bane of the Witch King."
"Did you—did you know?" asked Eowyn in a hushed tone.
"Nay, I knew nothing clearly," said Glorfindel, his smile wry. "You would not ask so if you had ever been under the gift of prophecy. One does not know what one speaks about, but only that it is true. I thought much on what I had said, but never came close to grasping what it would mean. For one, I did not expect my hero to be so fair."
Eowyn gave him what could only be termed a glare. "You are becoming, my lord, one of those whose attention I sought to avoid."
Glorfindel dipped his head. "I beg your pardon, my lady."
She grew serious again and said: "My lord Glorfindel, I have wished to ask this question, but did not know who would be best able to answer it, yet perhaps you know more of the subject than others. If there was a prophecy, would it not be so that there was no heroism in what I did? Why am I renowned for performing fate?"
"Did you not hear what I said?" answered Glorfindel gently. "I did not know what the prophecy meant—no one knew what it meant—until it was accomplished. If you had not been on the Fields at that moment, no one would have known that you might have fulfilled it, because another would have done so, either then or later."
Eowyn frowned. "But if I was not destined, then it was a matter of chance. If I chose what path to take, and was not forced upon it by destiny—if there is free will—then how can there be prophecies?"
Glorfindel laughed. "If any knew that, they would have solved the mystery of the universe. Not even the Elves can answer that. Rest assured, lady, that you need not understand it for it to do its work. You did a legendary deed, and no prophecy can take that away."
Eowyn's face grew troubled. "Legendary. I did not know what I did when I did it. I did not even recognize who he was, or certainly I should have drawn back with fear. I felt nothing that day, except that my uncle needed to be avenged; no thoughts of glory or felling some great evil. But though it is confusing even now, people are looking up to me as a hero."
Glorfindel chuckled softly. "Do I not know exactly what you feel? Had I known that I would be renowned in story and song, I might not have had the courage to accomplish my task. It seems strange, that the thought of fame should slay rather than foster courage, yet so it is at times. But tales always brush things up, make heroes seem more wonderful, so that we may aspire. There is often little of reality in them, though they may be entirely accurate in events. I never fully understood that until I came back and saw what they had written of me."
They shared a moment of silence, standing still, backs against the railing, stars making their fair hair shine like silver.
"What did it feel like, to die?" asked Eowyn, breaking the silence suddenly but quietly.
"Like going home," answered Glorfindel, with something in his tone that was almost like wistfulness. "The killing was agonizing, but death—was blissful."
"Then why did you come back?"
"So that I might give my prophecy," said Glorfindel, turning to her with a strange smile.
Eowyn looked up and could not help but smile back. "I know now why there is the saying 'Elven words are few, but with a thousand meanings, and even they do not always know what they mean'."
Glorfindel pondered this for a moment, then nodded and said only: "It is very true."
Eowyn laughed, and then they stood once again in companionable silence. She was feeling well again, and, though she had learned many things, knew most clearly that she would never be unnerved by an Elf again. Even they did not understand the mysteries of the universe.
A/N: This was written for the "Beware the Ides of March" challenge, requesting stories with prophecies. The saying quoted by Eowyn is not canon, but written by me.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.