65. To Forget and Smile...
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into that silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
- Poem by Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894); what Arwen told Elrond when they said farewell in the hills behind Edoras.
To Forget and Smile...
When I returned to the palace in time for dinner, I was much calmer.
By that time I had realized that I had not really expected an easy answer. Perhaps I would not even have been able to believe it, had the answer been a simple 'yes' or 'no'. There are not many easy answers in real life. In fairy tales good and evil are as clearly distinguishable as white and black. In real life that is rarely the case.
I was here. I was alive. I was in love.
I would simply have to try and live with that 'maybe'. I would have to try and not ask so many questions but try for a little humbleness instead - and leave the weight of the world and the fate of our souls to those who created both.
It was a quiet dinner we shared in the Golden Hall at a long table in front of one of the huge fireplaces. It was also a relatively simple meal as such things go in palaces. Only three courses; soup, venison and berry crumble with cream. But as it was the first time that day that I saw Éomer at all, I couldn't have cared less about what we ate or how many courses were served. I sat next to Éomer and was simply happy to be there. To hear his voice. To catch his dark eyes. To enjoy his smile.
The Council had gone well. Berig and Eutharich had not been in favour of any quick reforms; there was too much to do for such extravagant considerations. Grimsir would have to wait until next year for any reform projects of his to be discussed again.
"I will have to learn Rohirric," I said. "I mean, I really know something about government and laws, but I can only study the laws and customs of Rohan if I can speak and read the language. And probably write it, too."
Éomer nodded. "I need your knowledge. We will have to find some Rohirric lore master to send with you for the winter."
Did I mention that it had been decided that I should spend the fall and winter in Dol Amroth?
It was legally necessary for me to return to Dol Amroth for the adoption to be registered and sealed properly. It did not really seem necessary to me to keep me there for months. But as Éomer concurred with the Prince of Dol Amroth and the Lady Míriël, there was little I could do. At the end of August, I would travel first to Minas Tirith, where the sons of Imrahil and Míri were waiting for us, and then we would journey to Dol Amroth together.
Many miles and many months I would be parted from Éomer. I might only see him again in May next year for Éowyn's and Faramir's wedding in Ithilien.
At least I would have ample time to learn the language and my letters. And I did realise that Éomer needed his mind free for learning how to rule Rohan. I even recognised the wisdom in removing temptation from both of us. To stay betrothed and chaste in Éomer's presence for a year and a day seemed more than improbable to me... actually, I felt it was downright impossible.
Therefore I had agreed meekly to this chastity belt of many leagues of lonely roads between Edoras and Dol Amroth.
"Yes," Míri chimed in. "And she should also continue her studies in Elvish lore. And she needs to be able to read and write Westron, too. She should also know about the history of Gondor and Rohan and..."
"And everything else," I finished Míri's sentence for her.
"You should also keep practicing your skills with a sword and riding," Éowyn added. "You will be a shield-maiden of Rohan, too. That is our law and our noblest tradition."
Éomer sighed. "A lore master and a warrior, then. Anything else? Dancing? Weaving? Where shall I find someone like that? Especially at this short notice?"
Elrond smiled slightly. "In Imladris, where else? Though I would offer not one, but two teachers to you. Elladan and Elrohir will be bored come winter with the war over. The orcs will remain in their holes for some time, now that their master has been vanquished. My sons speak Rohirric as well as any of the Eorlingas, due to their insistence to fight with your people throughout these centuries of strife against the darkness." He favoured his sons with a piercing look. Apparently Elrond's children shared a certain tendency to go against their father's wishes. Then Elrond turned to Imrahil. "And you know my sons have a task to fulfil at Dol Amroth." Imrahil nodded. The twins looked pained. The task, whatever it was, seemed to be not to their liking. But they did not object.
"Thank you, my lord," I said demurely. "I promise I will repay this honour with diligence and hard work." Elladan and Elrohir gave me evil grins that suggested they would see to it that I did just that.
"I could not ask for more," Elrond replied gravely.
After dinner we retired to the easy chairs of the library, gathering in small groups to while away the evening with talk and song.
Arwen stayed at her father's side. They did not seem to talk much; they simply sat close to each other, allowing the talk of the others to flow around them. The twins watched them for a time, then they shared a sigh and left for some late night stroll.
Faramir and Éowyn had eyes only for each other. The same could not be said for Éomer and me, as we had to share the glances we would have had for one another with Míri and my new Ada, Imrahil, who kept us company.
The Hobbits, Gimli and Legolas were engaged in a lively game of cards. I think Gimli was beating them out of all their worldly possessions until Gandalf joined the game. Then tables were turned on the dwarf, although that did not help the Hobbits much. Wizards are sneaky. And they cheat at cards.
With the thirteenth of August, the last day of the Fellowship dawned.
We spent that last day together. Gandalf, Aragorn, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Legolas, Gimli and I.
We went out riding and had a picnic on the southern banks of the Snowbourn River. We spread blankets out on the grass. We had plates and glasses and cutlery, heaps of food, enough to satisfy even the hungriest Hobbit, and bottles of wonderful red wine from Dorwinion. We laughed, we talked, we shared another couple of songs, many memories both sorrowful and happy, and some very naughty jokes. The sun was hot and golden, the sky blue as can be. Our horses grazed peacefully a few feet away from us. It was a happy day. Peaceful and bright.
I felt immensely grateful when I realized that most days since the war was over fit that description. Bright. Happy. Peaceful. It was so good to know that all our efforts and sacrifices had been worth it, that we had succeeded. The ring was gone and the war was over.
But we did not talk about goodbyes or meeting again. When-and if-all of us would meet again, only the Valar knew. And they did not come to Middle-earth anymore to impart knowledge of such little importance to any of their children.
But as we had chosen the southern banks of the Snowbourn River as the place for our picnic, we saw how Elrond and Arwen rode to the hills of the Eastfold to make their own farewell. Whereas at least some of the members of the Fellowship would probably meet again in peace and happiness, for the Elf-lord and his now mortal daughter, there would be no such reunion.
Arwen and Elrond went up into the hills and stayed there until night fell warm and soft on the mountains, hills and plains of Rohan. It was a bitter parting between the mortal woman and her immortal Elvish father, there in the hills behind Edoras. As bitter as a parting between a father and a daughter can be, when fates that should have endured throughout the long millennia of Eä together would now be parted instead, never to reunite again. Or so they thought, because it is said that the elves will live in Arda until the end of time, but the gift of men will take us mortals beyond the circles of this world. Therefore Arwen and Elrond believed their farewell would last for all eternity and literally beyond the end of this world.
Arwen came to my room that night. There was a soft knock on the door, and then she hurried into my chamber much the same way as a child runs to the bed of her parents when she is scared by some nightmare. She was horribly pale. Her eyes were brimming with tears. "I could not go to Aragorn with this. He loses as much a father as I do. And you, you know how it feels, don't you?"
I realised that she was referring to my parents back on Earth, who were in a way as lost to me as Elrond was to her. I made her sit down on the bed with me. She turned to me and her eyes were huge and dark in her pale face. "Lothy, how can you endure this? How do you go on?"
I shrugged. What could I say to this? "I hope that they don't grieve too much for me. I hope that they are healthy. I hope that they go on with their lives. I hope that they are happy. I hope that they remember the good times we had together. I would like to think that they smile whenever they think of me."
Arwen put her face in her hands. "That is what I asked of Ada. I wanted him to promise that he would not remember me with tears, but only with a smile."
"And did he?" I asked apprehensively. You can't make such promises and hold them. You should not ask for impossible promises.
Arwen shook her head. Now tears were rolling down her cheeks like pearls made of crystal. Silent, silver tear drops sliding elegantly down her high cheekbones.
I put my arm around her. "I don't think he could promise that," I said softly. "And he has the same right to grieve and be sad as you do. But he won't be crying forever. Your mother is waiting for him in Aman, isn't she? She will help him. And your brothers will join them there in two hundred years or so, when they have finally enough of this world of dwarves and men." Then a thought occurred to me. "You know, your brothers might even be able to carry a letter from you to your father, when they finally leave, and pictures of all the pretty children you are going to have. I am sure that would make your father smile."
"Do you really think so?" Arwen looked at me with a faint glimmer of hope in her eyes.
"Well, I am not sure," I said honestly. "I don't know much about Elves, and how things will be in two hundred years. But why shouldn't your brothers take some letters and pictures with them to Aman? Or even some other Elves who take ship during the years of your life? I know that your father and some others will leave next year, but there will be many who remain for some time longer, won't there? You could send letters every year. How about that? And perhaps the Valar will send you dreams from your Ada. They can do that, right?"
A wavering, very sweet smile finally appeared on Arwen's face. "Yes," she whispered. "Yes," she repeated with a much firmer voice. "That would be possible."
Her smile grew, as she imagined the letters and paintings she could send to Aman.
"I won't tell him," she decided. "It will be my surprise for his begetting day, year after next." She dashed her tears away. Then she gave me a very impish grin. "I will probably need some painting lessons. I always hated those stinking oil colours and ran away from my tutor."
I grinned back at her. "I'm sure Aragorn will get you another tutor. He's gonna love that."
She giggled at that suggestion. "Maybe if I paint him, too?"
"That would depend on your ability with brushes and pencils, I guess," I replied with a smile.
Then Arwen grew serious again. "Thank you, Lothy. I really needed someone to talk about... all that... I never felt this urge before. It is strange. I thought I should break if I could not tell someone about the way I felt. Somehow, my feelings are so strangely intense lately."
I pursed my lips, considering this information. "Maybe it's because you are mortal now? I guess we feel differently from Elves. Or you could be pregnant. I'm told you get the wildest mood swings when you are pregnant."
Arwen stared at me. Her hand went involuntarily down to her stomach. "Do you think it really could be possible that I... that we... that..." Her eyes grew very round.
"How should I know?" I asked. "I have no idea how this becoming mortal of yours might have changed your metabolism, the biochemistry and stuff about your body. From a strictly human point of view I'd say, sure you can be pregnant, if you haven't had your period lately. But as Elves don't have a period, how can I know? Ask Lady Galadriel! Ask your... okay, perhaps don't ask your father..."
Arwen nodded. "Yes, perhaps I should do that... but I don't think... no, I just can't be sure... even if I am, it's too soon to be sure." She sighed. "This is all so confusing for me. So many new experiences and thoughts and feelings. In such a short time. And here I thought I had seen and thought and felt almost everything that there is to be thought and seen and felt..."
We fell silent and simply sat side by side on my bed for a moment. Then Arwen suddenly turned to me with a worried expression on her face. "Here I go on and on about my feelings and never think about yours. You suggest such a wonderful solution to cheer me up when you must be missing your own parents so much. And you can't send them any letters. I'm so sorry, Lothíriel. I just did not think."
If she had not mentioned this, I could have probably ignored that fact. I had been doing just fine not thinking about the possibility of sending a letter to my mother and step-father, a letter to say 'I'm fine, don't worry, I will marry the king of Rohan'...
I raised my eyebrows as high as they would go to keep my eyes from tearing up. There had been enough tears spilled in this room tonight. Finally I managed to heave a sigh without tears on my part. "Don't worry, Arwen. That's quite alright. I'm not as close to my parents as you are to your Ada. And I have had almost a year now to get used to the thought that my parents will never know what has happened to me."
As if you could ever get used to something like that...
"I'm sorry nevertheless," Arwen said softly. "And thank you for being here for me."
"Hey, we are friends. That's how friendship works," I replied, blushing.
Arwen slid down off the bed, embraced me and hurried from my room. Probably to search for Lady Galadriel, asking about Elvish or mortal pregnancies.
I have to admit that Arwen's tears and her grief had upset me. I hate farewells, especially if they are the forever kind. That does not suit my penchant for happy endings. But there was really nothing I could do about that, except what I had done: hold my friend while she cried and come up with crazy ideas about establishing a postal service between Arda and Aman.
To calm down, I spent almost two hours writing down the events of the day and Arwen's visit into the small leather bound book Míri had given me back at Dol Amroth. When I finally put the lid back on the ink pot and laid the quill aside, it was way after midnight.
As I leafed through the book, I realized that I had almost no pages left. The tale of the ranger out of Erlangen had filled many hundred pages. Well, there had been a number of amazing things that had happened to me during the last year. I had come a long, long way since I had left Erlangen that day in August 2004.
It was probably just as well that there would not be a letter for me to send. That would be one hell of a letter to write. One letter would never be enough for that story!
And anyway, not even my eccentric mother would believe that story.
No, it was surely much better that there would be no letter from Edoras to Erlangen.
Much better. For everyone concerned. And especially for my poor head... learning everything I had to know about Gondor and Rohan would cause me enough headaches during the months to come. No, I would be better off without a letter. And my parents, too. After all, a year had passed. They would have moved on by now. A letter would only cause new grief and give little or no comfort. No, it was really better that for me there would be no letter to write.
But I did not get the thought of a letter out of my head for long hours of tossing and turning restlessly in my bed that night. When I finally fell asleep, the notion of writing this letter followed me into my dreams.
"Dear Mama, dear Papa," my letter would begin, "Liebe Mama, lieber Papa," as all letters to your parents begin.
But how would I continue?
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.