2. Chapter Two
Men told Elladan that time healed the wounds of loss, dimmed the pain; it was not true – at least for elves or peredhel. Half a yen had passed, since they had buried Elrohir's empty hroar, but his absence was still an aching hole in his twin brother's life.
Now Elladan kept the pain to himself; he had learnt to cope with the realisation, striking afresh every morning, that part of his fëa was missing. Only Grandfather, separated as surely from Grandmother, showed oft times by a word or glance that he understood there was no dimming of the pain. Elladan wondered how their father had been able to bear, for over five hundred years, waking each morning without his wife.
He wondered, sometimes, if Elrohir was already re-housed in a new hroar in Aman, already reunited with their parents – did he feel the same painful emptiness without Elladan? Did he regret those last words, fëa to fëa, tying Elladan to this side of the sea whilst Aragorn and Arwen lived? Or was the pain of separation also eased in the Undying Lands?
Elladan hoped it was; yet he knew that even if his twin awaited him, standing at the shore day after day, Elrohir would not want Elladan to leave their sister and brother behind in Middle Earth.
More time passed; now Eldarion's sons and daughters had children of their own. There were few people left in the White City who could remember a time before the reign of King Elessar, who knew that the King and Queen had ever had more than one brother, or that those brothers had ridden to war to help make this country free of the shadow.
Time now was growing short. To Elladan it seemed as if it both flew on eagles' wings and crawled slowly as a worm. In Imladris trees grew, or fell, but the elves remained the same. Fewer in number, though, as more packed up and made the journey to The Havens, carrying letters and drawings to those across the seas.
In the world outside the hidden valley, however, the flight of time was clearly seen. Estel could no longer best all comers with his sword; his hair was almost as silver now as Grandfather's. The hobbits, who had been part of the Fellowship that had left Imladris on that cold winter morning, were no more; Éomer's grandson led the people of the Riddermark; Faramir had been laid to rest beside his wife.
Gimli, too, was ageing - his beard was now grizzled grey and he complained that his knees ached when he was above ground in the rain. Legolas looked as he had since Elladan first saw him; unless the wind blew up from the sea and then he seemed as taut as his bowstring. In a quiet, hidden, spot in the woods of Ithilien Legolas was seasoning wood; clearly he, too, felt that time was marching inexorably on.
Arwen looked little different, if seen through mortal eyes, but to her brother she also showed the passage of the years. Her fëa seemed somehow stretched out, thinner; her body somehow a little less substantial. Every time he saw her Elladan craved, again, the presence of Elrohir for comfort as mortality claimed their little sister.
Grandfather arrived at Imladris with nothing but books and drawings, some jewels of Grandmother's, and a small trunk of clothes. Gradually many of his Galadhrim, who had joined him in the forest of East Lorien, had left to follow Grandmother to the west. The last few had gone to live with the wood elves of King Thranduil, or come to fill empty rooms in Imladris.
"I will stay," Grandfather said, "when you follow your heart to the west. I will stay as long as I am needed. I will stay for Arwen if you have to go."
"I will wait until both are gone. I do not think it will be long," Elladan told him. "Estel will choose, just as Elros did, to take Ilúvatar's gift before his body begins to betray him. Arwen will choose to follow quickly."
Grandfather said nothing more but, just briefly, a shadow crossed his face.
All too soon, after that conversation, the message came from Minas Tirith that King Elessar wished to see his family and his friends. They knew. Although Grandfather rode at his left, Glorfindel at his right, Elladan felt more alone than he could have imagined. When he had spoken of this moment with Elrohir they had expected to ride this path together; face this double loss together; ride back to the peace of Imladris together…
"I want you to know that I have been honoured to have spent my life as your brother. I cannot imagine what my life would have been without you and Elrohir in it." Estel's voice was still strong, but Elladan knew this would be the last time that he would hear it. "Tell Elrohir my words, when you are re-united, my beloved brother."
They held each other close and then, warriors both, they straightened their shoulders before Elladan walked out of the room knowing that he would see Estel alive no more.
Only his wife and his son stayed at the King's side as he lay down on his bed, Andúril held in both hands, and closed his eyes.
Those in the ante-room with Elven blood knew immediately when Estel passed out of his body even if the others did not hear Arwen's quiet cry. Eldarion, his face streaked with tears, said nothing as he opened the door for them some minutes later.
To her brother, Arwen seemed to have been… diminished. Elladan had expected her to cling to him; or if not him, then Grandfather; or Eldarion. Instead she had about her an air of untouchability as she knelt for many hours, her head on her husband's unmoving chest, and then as she followed his bier along Rath Dínen to the marble tomb already prepared.
Elladan comforted his nieces and nephew as they mourned their beloved father – and prepared also to mourn their mother. They believed, as Elladan did, that Arwen would now lie down as their father had and take the gift of Ilúvatar.
Arwen did, indeed, say farewell to all her family members, quietly, calmly, as if she had no emotion left. Then she, too, lay on the bed she had shared with her husband as all her close family stood around her. They waited for that last soft breath, and then the silence; but still her chest rose and fell.
Grandfather softly sent almost everyone else away until only he, Elladan, and Eldarion remained. When the next morning broke Grandfather sent Eldarion out to see to his tasks as king. As dusk approached Arwen opened her eyes and sobbed, piteously, reaching out to Elladan. The sound broke his heart.
"I do not know how to do it. Estel did not tell me how to die and I do not know how to…"
Grandfather showed no surprise at her words as Elladan gathered his baby sister in his arms and rocked her. He had held Elrohir as his life slipped away despite his efforts to remain and, now, he held their sister as she tried to die and could not. He longed for the strength of his twin to sustain him and found himself blaming Elrohir for not being here.
"Come, then, little star, to Valinor instead," he said, trying not to sound as if he was begging her. "Mother and Father will be waiting at the shore… and Elrohir," he finished, trying to convince himself as well as her.
But Arwen refused. There was no light in her eyes, the even-star had been extinguished and there was only darkness left. There was no place for her in Valinor, she said, nor any peace until she could leave the circles of the world and be reunited with her beloved.
Throughout the dark night Arwen wept. Elladan wept with her. Each wept for those they would see no more, for each other, until neither had tears left. Then Arwen determined what she would do, where she would go.
Throughout the storm of sorrow Grandfather kept everyone else away. As the first pale light touched the sky he called in Eldarion and his sisters. Arwen gently kissed each one and then walked, with her head held high, on her brother's arm down to the courtyard of the Fountain. Glorfindel stood there with Arwen's horse already saddled. She mounted and then turned again to Elladan.
"I love you so much, my brother, but I cannot stay with you," she said, her voice flattened, as if she had no more emotion. "Do not follow me. Go. Take ship. Tell Mother and Father, Elrohir and Grandmother that I love them."
With that she wheeled her horse around and walked it down the many steps to the great gates of Minas Tirith. As the sun began to shine across the Pelennor the dark figure of Gondor's Queen Dowager could be seen riding away to the northwest.
Elladan stood, not moving, and then three figures approached him.
"She did not forbid me from following," Grandfather said, "and even if she had, I am still her grandfather and I was Lord of Lothlorien for Ages – she will not be there alone."
"I will ride with Lord Celeborn, unless you need me more with you," Glorfindel said.
"My ship," Legolas said, "is almost built."
Elladan felt that he should follow his sister to the melancholy of the abandoned Golden Woods where, he knew, she intended to let herself fade. But he no longer had the strength of fëa. At Imladris there were trunks already packed with, not only his own most loved possessions, but also Elrohir's. He accepted the offer of passage on Legolas' ship.
When they cast off from the banks of the Anduin on a cold grey morning, leaving behind familiar lands wreathed in mist, Grandfather and Glorfindel had not returned. Elladan tried not to think of Arwen but, like Legolas who was also leaving loved ones behind, to turn his face downstream and think of reunion with Elrohir.
Within days the last of Arda slipped out of sight behind them. Some of the elves on board sat quietly, others sang, as the sails were filled with a steady wind and the current seemed to carry them forward. Gimli looked pensive. Elladan wondered if he was as sure of his decision to accompany Legolas as he said he was.
Legolas stood at the bow for hours on end – both in the still, pale, light of day and the star-lit night. Elladan joined him often. The further into the journey they got the more his thoughts turned, from Arwen and Estel, to Elrohir who would surely be the first to greet them.
Then came a morning greyer than any yet; the ship sailed through soft mist that suddenly cleared and there, straight ahead, was land. Smaller craft came to meet them and shepherd the ship to the harbour.
Soon figures could be seen on the distant dock – Mother! Father too, Grandmother behind them – Gimli would, indeed, see her again. Elladan could not see Elrohir with their parents – he must be right out at the harbour's mouth, or even on one of the small boats – he would want to reach them as quickly as possible, he would… Elladan stopped. He closed his eyes to search with his fëa instead and felt… nothing. Elrohir was not there.
Suddenly his legs could no longer support him and he slumped down, onto one of the benches on the deck, his head between his knees. He had been relying on Elrohir being here; now the loss of Arwen and Estel was added to the loss of his twin and he could not bear the weight of the sorrow.
A warm hand was laid on his shoulder. Nothing was said but he realised, with some surprise, that the person who stood in quiet understanding beside him was Gimli. The dwarf remained at his side until a softer hand drew Elladan to his feet and his mother gathered him to herself.
Yen - period of 144 years.
Hroar - physical body.
Fëa - the soul. Elves believe it IS the Elf - the hroar purely the vessel to contain the fëa.
Ilúvatar's gift - death.
End of chapter two of three.