1. chapter 1
Elrond looked back across the waters of the Great Sea, looking like another night sky below the vault of the heavens. Where the boat sliced through the nebulous waters, the sky was faintly rippled, but there were no hints of foam-crests on these waves. As if to tempt fate, Elrond dipped his hand into the sky-waters, and was not surprised when it met only air, rushing and flowing around it. The strange waters of the Straight Road were so uncanny that he withdrew his hand after a short moment, as if the sky itself would recognize the contradiction of a vessel floating upon it and give way.
He looked up from the stern of Cirdan's great boat and thought he could descry a tiny, blue-green marbled dot, floating just as strangely as this ship upon Varda's waters. He contemplated that other, greater vessel making its celestial journey.
A thought cut through his consciousness, rending it painfully as the ship rent the unseen waters. Arda floats about in circles, though it moves not, and its people walk upon bent roads and call them straight! Yet I sail upon that which is not, and journey to a place which sits on nothing! I wonder… which of these is the more baseless, the more confused and tangled? The mortal, which thrives on error, or the immortal, which thrives on nothing?
Strange that, many ages ago, my choice seemed so clear to me…at the time I wondered at Elros's dithering about on the issue, but now…Ai, I have remained too long in Arda; I chose what I did because I am an Elf, as my mother. Yet my overlong stay in Arda has changed me more than I would like to admit, and it may be that I am more accustomed to the ways of Men than of Elves, as all the Elves on this journey have become. Middle-Earth is truly Men's world, and it has been for long years before my departure. Even there, the Elves lingered upon nothing.
Elrond turned from the waters leading back to Middle-Earth and began walking towards the bow of the ship, not being able to bear looking back across the leagues of emptiness. Perhaps at last I understand my Celebrían. She had naught of mortal blood in her veins, but that may have made her all the more conscious of the encroaching dullness of Men into her beloved land. She became mortal, in a way that no mortal ever could. In the way that her daughter did. She bound herself to the rich earth she lived on, and when it withered under Men's clumsy hands, so also did she. Ai! Will I ever be able to make peace with that bumbling race? he thought, and unconsciously spotted the Ringbearer out of the corner of his eye.
But he knew in his heart that he could resent but never truly condemn the race of Men. I am one myself, born into a tug-of-war that rends my innermost self! He closed his eyes and propped himself against a convenient mast, receding into the very depth of his mind he had just considered, and finding it whole. No, there is peace for me in Valinor, and I realize now that this journey was the only balm for Celebrian, too. But for Arwen? We have our fair share of revelations and convictions which come to naught, and only she will ever know if this is one. Ai, my daughter, have you, too, found the mortality of the immortals? Elrond tried reaching for the unstable, vague part of his mind given over to mortal thought, shutting out the ethereal immortal senses. He held onto this state for a moment, then relinquished it, recoiling slightly. Arwen, do you know what you do? Can you truly live that way? He tried to imagine his beloved daughter losing hold upon the very things she depended on her mind for, and growing old and stooped… this conjured the image of Arwen a few meager years later, looking far older than her father. Elrond shuddered, and then shivered from the utter cold of the Road. The Road goes ever on and on in Arda only, he thought, unwilling to release the subject until he had wounded himself with every recess and tenet of it. The road I am on has an end for all eternity…
Just then, he became aware of the shouts and commotion at the ship's bow, and hastened over. There, glimmering like an unattainable promise, crouched Tol Eressëa, and Valinor beyond. It was quite close already, and suddenly Elrond's heart strained towards the Undying Lands like a lifeline, willing for a moment to forever relinquish thought of Arda in exchange for seeing his Celebrían again. She will remember what it is to feel mortal…yet, because of it, she will be unable to see why Arwen would ever do such a thing. Love must be strong, indeed, to breach such an abyss…Elrond thought sadly of his years spent apart from Celebrian. We shall heal, in time. But he silently cursed his daughter for the second wedge she drove between him and his wife.
Before he knew it, the passengers on this strange journey were descending the wide plank that led to the dock. His eyes did not need to be told where they would find Celebrian, and not a second passed before she was in his arms, unseen waters flowing from both Elves' eyes. He spoke into her hair, not yet ready to look into her eyes but knowing what he would read there.
"My love, I have taken the straight road across strange waters to come here, yet our Arwen has taken a different road: that of Luthien…" and he added to himself, yet do not be afraid! The same blood flows in our veins; the same unseen waters cradle us all…!
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.