1. One Breath
The leaves of Lorien hang upon the trees, brown and dry as brittle parchment. They rustle together like old women telling secrets, no longer the rich and constant gold she recalls from distant youth. She remembers running under their canopy in autumn, raising her face to try to glimpse the cobalt sky, dark hair stirring in the gentle breeze. So different in appearance than her kin, the Galadhrim, she had swayed to the sweet lays that echoed throughout her Grandmother's realm. No blade of grass upon Cerin Amroth bent under the delicate touch of her feet, no one who beheld her as she danced beneath the stars was left unmoved.
O Elbereth. O Undomiel.
His face is poised above hers, mouth half-open with ecstasy. He cradles her against his battle-scarred body, keeping the rhythm between them steady and relentless. His grey eyes shine down like the summer stars above, his touch tender against her bare skin.
He is not yet king, in truth, he may never be. Her father would certainly not approve.
She opens her legs wider so he might bury himself deep inside.
Her aimless wanderings have carried her throughout the realms of her youth as the current of a slow-moving river might carry a pebble along the course of its bed. The whole of Middle Earth feels like an empty husk. Everywhere she turns she is reminded of something she once loved now forever out of reach, of someone she held dear who is no more.
She feels the departure of her brethren in each breath her body insists on rasping inwards. She wishes she could stop this relentless draw of life, but Time, a concept she once held of no consequence, takes its faceless revenge by making each moment she dwells here an eternity in length. At moments, it seems between her inhale and exhale, countries fall and are reclaimed once more. Men are born squalling into the world, grow to blustering manhood and die, weak and feeble in their beds in the spate of her every breath.
There are scant few of her kind left in Middle Earth; she is an Evenstar with no horizon. The knowledge makes her feel older than she is, for in truth, she should be in the prime of life. Instead, she withers like a vine mortally cut by a careless gardener, all too aware the tie she once felt with all living things is fading. She still feels kinship with the trees, with the earth itself but their call dims with each passing day. Each morning, she lifts her face, hoping the touch of light upon her cheeks might drive back her despair but the sun seems threadbare and lacking. It, too, feels over-worn, as if it had run a long race only to come in last.
He pursues and she relents, drawing him down upon the soft grass. They undress each other with a languid familiarity. There is no need for rush, instead they may take their time, allow themselves the luxury of exploration. The feel of their bodies against each other is second nature after so many years, still she shuts her eyes so she might savor the softness of his skin, the coarseness of his hair, the hardness of his thighs and arms.
"Estel," she whispers. She pushes him gently to the ground and straddles him, her hair streaming behind her like a wild, dark river. She feels him grow harder as she rides him, taking her own pleasure first and then again. As he nears his own climax, she looks down at him, her face warm and flushed, sweat glistening between her breasts. A slow smile graces her lips and she slows the pace; moving herself up and down with exquisite deliberation until he cries her name, this man for whom she gave up immortalilty, cries it over and over again.
O Elbereth. O Undomiel.
She gasps, feeling the warmth between her legs intensify. Her eyes open wide and the air of the White City is sweet in her lungs.
She held his hand in hers as he passed into the ages. He had wanted to go alone to the Silent Street but she could no more let him do this than she could see her father again.
At the appointed hour, she walked beside him past the stone effigies, dressed in a silver gown the exact color of the twilight sky. She watched as he laid himself upon the bier, kissed him, felt his hand reach to touch her face one last time. There, among the bones of his ancestors, he had folded his hands upon his chest, a faint smile upon his lips.
She stood by him, eyes dry. She felt him fade even as part of her waited for him to once more open his eyes.
He did not.
The touch of his lips upon her neck is feather-light, rousing her from her kind's manner of sleep. He presses up against her back, then adjusts so he can gently push inside, reaching around to stroke her breast. His fingers pull with a practiced touch at her nipple, made tough from the suck of her children. She reaches behind her to draw him near.
His growth of beard rasps against the top of her shoulder. His fingers run the length of her torso, sending shivers up her spine as he pushes up, filling her. He murmurs things under his breath, endearments that are more growls than words. His hand moves between her legs, begins its gentle, circular carress.
She smiles with pleasure, caught in this twilight, still half in waking dream.
The parchment leaves tell their secrets in the woods surrounding Cerin Amroth. The flowers which once grew here are hiding safe under ground, away from the thin layer of snow that covers the hill like a shroud.
She presses herself against the cold earth, stares up at the night sky. She has no substance anymore, or so she thinks, no bone to break or blood to spill. Instead, she is made of tattered memories, strung together loosely on sorrow's thread. The relentless breath comes in and out, in and out, unbidden and unwanted.
She is unable to bear the world any longer, unable to depart it. Leaves fall upon her, snow and rain beat down. She inhales and it seems the winter passes. Her lungs contract, pushing the air across her chilled lips and tight buds appear once more upon the trees. As the world bursts into the brilliant green of spring, she gazes inward, eyes fixed upon the sky. Grass covers her motionless form like a mossy blanket.
They stand, facing each other. The stars in the blue vault of heaven shine like diamonds placed on velvet.
"You cannot promise this," he murmurs. His eyes glisten with tears.
She steps closer, reaches down to entwine her fingers with his. "I do not want eternity," she whispers. "Instead, I would have you."
They lean closer; his breath is sweet upon her face. She feels no hesitation. She feels no doubt. Her lips meet his, warm and strong, and in that moment, time stands still.
O Elbereth. O Arwen. O Undomiel.
Above her, the seasons repeat their cycle. Her breath falls in. Then out.
Author's thanks: Thanks to the LJ-crowd, to the Virginians and the Coffee Clutch gals. You and your fine opinions and beta work are all worshipped and appreciated.
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.