1. Parting Gifts
For the Henneth-Annun birthday challenge. With thanks to Lyllyn and Suriel for additional information, and to Tehta for inspiration.
Time: Fourth Age year 1, Mid-year's Day. Second anniversary of Arwen and Aragorn's wedding.
They had often been described as reflections and opposites, and Galadriel thought that despite their kinship there was a grain of truth to that. For where Arwen was dark and her face that of Luthien, with clear resemblance to Melian the Maia, Galadriel's own hair shone silver and gold, and her features left no doubt to the fact that she hailed from the line of Finwe.
Now Arwen's face was flushed with weeping.
"Why tears, on a day like this?" the Lady of Lorien demanded.
They were alone in the Queen's chambers. Maids would be coming later, to help with dressing for the numerous events planned for the day, but for now Arwen and her grandmother watched the new sun by themselves.
"I..." Arwen shook her head and stood up from where she had sat on the window sill. "Forgive me, Grandmother. It is but a silly notion."
"In my experience it is the most foolish of thoughts that sometimes rings the truest." Galadriel took Arwen's arm and led her to sit on the bed. "Tell me what ails you. Do you not like my gifts?"
"Grandmother! I could never think that!"
In her outrage, Arwen seemed to forget her tears. She needed but to reach out to touch the delicate fabric of the dress she would wear that very day: the weaving of the Lady of Lorien had made them as soft as the morning dew, shining like clear water in a stream. The cloth shimmered with the blues and greys of every kind of sky. She gathered one of the full sleeves and held it to her cheek.
"Watch that it lasts you," Galadriel cautioned. "Even after so long, weaving is not my favourite pastime, and you do not wish to know how long I spent making this."
Arwen nodded, still touching the smooth fabric. "But you do weave, because that is one of the duties of the lady of the land. To weave cloaks of concealment, and bake the waybread, all the duties that none save the Queen may lead."
Galadriel started. "I have never called myself thus." Her fingers brushed Arwen's shoulder. "Is this what disturbs you? Your duties as Queen? I do not believe any find you at fault in courtly manners or administration - I have seen the expansions done to the Houses of Healing, and the school of lore whose construction you oversaw."
"It is nothing - naught but rumours I heard in those very Houses." Arwen turned her head away. "They whisper how the Queen has been wedded two years hence, and yet she is not with child."
"Arwen." The folds of her dress rustled as the Lady of Lorien put her arms around her granddaughter. "They are unused to having a King, and the memory of the end of their last line is clear in their minds. You know full well that you have years still to bear children, and bear them you will."
Arwen essayed a smile, but the expression on her face faltered and faded into passiveness.
"It is more than that." Galadriel stood up, and drew her granddaughter up beside her. "Tell me, that I may ease your heart."
"As you have done so many times." Arwen smiled as she said it. "There were years where I did not fully know whether to regard you as grandmother or mother, milady."
"And you can well remember the times both I and Celeborn erred and addressed you as Celebrian." Galadriel laughed softly. "The times you forsook the brooding and reconsidering of your steps, in which you take after your father."
"Though I do not look like my mother." Arwen came to the window again, and against the first rays of the midsummer sun her hair was night-dark, devoid of light. "I look like *her*. Luthien, most brave of heart..."
Galadriel was silent.
"I know!" Arwen turned towards the room. "Countless times you have told me how Luthien's choice and doom does not mean I have to possess her character as well. To build the new is a better task than to tear down the evils of old. And yet I find myself in doubt.
"Can I be a Queen to a people so strange? Can I learn to be a mother in just a few short years, when I have long lived my life alone? I have no valour, no great knowledge, nothing to set me apart except for the love I found. And will it be enough to give me strength?"
"Arwen." Galadriel's lips did not move. "Arwen, Arwen. I see that strength in your mind. As quiet as the forest, as unrelenting as the river that hews through rock. Your works and your family will endure long after I have passed..."
Arwen gasped, then drew herself up. Gone was the distraught woman with the sheen of youth still on her cheeks. In her place stood a timeless beauty as radiant as the elven lady, though their likeness was little.
"You are leaving, then." The Queen of Gondor sketched a bow. "Forgive me for taking up your time with petty concerns - your last days in Middle-Earth should be naught but joy."
"Do not worry. It is the last opportunity I have to succour you in person, and I would do it in full."
Arwen crossed the room and touched the dress again. "Though you will go - and I should have expected that, with Ada and Gandalf having taken their leave on the Day of Victory - I will have my memories and your gifts to remind me of your councils. For one, this dress. It tells me that with love, anyone can create beautiful things, though their true talents may lie elsewhere."
"Granddaughter, my weaving and sewing are not that bad." Galadriel tried to put on a stern voice, but failed, and they laughed together.
"Your heart is lighter, Grandmother," Arwen observed.
"Leaving is sorrowful, but still so many of my friends dwell now in the West. It will be good to meet my brothers again, and my cousins. With a parting long enough, I have begun to miss even the most disreputable members of my grandfather's house, if only to have someone to properly argue with." A smile shone on Galadriel's face again. "And I long to see Celebrian healed."
Arwen's smile was more melancholy. "Give her my best wishes."
The half-elven Queen would have perhaps said more, but in that moment a knock sounded on the door of her chambers.
"Come in!" Arwen called out. "I would think no-one in the women's quarters would be awake for an hour yet..."
"We rise earlier in Ithilien, if only because the days are prettier," Eowyn said as she walked in, a cloth-wrapped package in her hands. Then her eyes alighted on Galadriel. "Forgive me - I thought I would find the Queen alone. If I interrupted-"
"Not at all," the Lady of Lorien assured her.
Though the people of Legolas had lived in Ithilien for the better part of a year now, Eowyn was still uneasy about elves as all Rohirrim - and in particular about the Lady of the Golden Wood. Thus she turned to Arwen. "There is traffic now aplenty between Ithilien and Aglarond, and on a recent visit Master Gimli left this with me, as your wedding anniversary gift from the dwarves of the kingdom."
Arwen unwound the cloth quickly, and a magnificent work of craft was revealed. The belt was made of silver chains and set with crystal stars. Each link was carved with veins, as if each was a miniature silver lode in itself.
"This is magnificent!" she avowed. "But lady Galadriel, I will not be convinced that you have not had a hand in this. It matches the dress you gifted me with far too well."
Eowyn caught sight of the dress and exclaimed in delight. "That is simply not right! None will look at the decorations that all in the Citadel worked so hard to set up. You will outshine them by far."
"There is but one way to make sure of that." Galadriel picked up the dress. "If your maids are lazy enough to sleep far past the dawn, we shall make do. Try this on, and let me see your beauty in full bloom."
"Luthien, most brave of heart" - Lay of Leithian, line 2876, after "History of Middle Earth vol. 3: The Lays of Beleriand".
Ada - Sindarin for "father"
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.