Part 7 - Valinor
Elrohir had been restless all day long, but he couldn’t quite explain why. Elladan had stayed close on purpose, never strolling far away from him. Even Erestor and Glorfindel had seemed worried about him during dinner.
It wasn’t like he still was a frightened Elfling. Elladan and he had reached majority fifteen years ago, and they were now skilled warriors who feared no one. Glorfindel had taught them well, and they had become accomplished archers, well-trained swordsmen and they could handle most of the diplomatic matters their father entrusted to them. But occasionally they still needed Erestor’s advice, who had now become Elrond’s most trusted advisor and one of Celebrian’s closest friends.
Elrohir couldn’t stop worrying about his mother, who had traveled to Lothlorien to spend time with her family. Elladan and he had missed her sparkling presence and were already counting the days until her return.
“Elrohir, would you please stop pacing for a moment? You are driving me insane!” Elladan sighed, dramatically. “And you pacing the entire time won’t bring her back faster. Nana will arrive shortly. Be patient!”
“But I cannot help being concerned!” Elrohir’s voice was filled with tension. “Something is wrong. I do not know what it is, but I feel…” Lacking the right words to describe his confused state, he pleadingly stared at his twin. “I cannot believe you do not feel it!”
Elladan bit his bottom lip. “But I do feel it.”
“Then why did you not tell me?” Elrohir marched toward his twin, grabbed Elladan’s shoulders and shook him. “Why?”
“I did not want to add to your worry,” explained Elladan. “But I cannot deny that a sense of foreboding has overwhelmed me as well.”
“Enough!” said Elrohir decisively. “We are leaving! We are going to search for her and escort her back home.”
Elladan gave in reluctantly. “You may be right.”
“You know I am!” Elrohir was about to tell Elladan to follow him when distressed cries coming from the courtyard alerted him. “Aiya, Elladan, let my fears haven’t come true!” He grabbed his twin’s arm and then pulled him along, down the endless corridors until they finally emerged in the courtyard.
The sight that awaited them broke their hearts. Frozen in time, they stared at their mother, clad in a bloodstained robe, sitting in front of Lindir, her eyes void of emotions. Fresh blood showed on her bandaged shoulder.
“Elbereth…” Elrohir released a strangled sob, whilst taking in her battered appearance. He didn’t bother to ask where the rest of their escort was, seeing bite marks and the lashes of a whip on Lindir’s face. The white-haired Elf looked like an apparition, eyes blank and lips smeared with blood.
“Take hold of your mother,” commanded Lindir in an emotionless tone. “It was a lucky coincidence Galadriel wanted Arwen to stay longer. At least she was spared.”
Elrohir charged forward and carefully caught Celebrian in his arms when Lindir lowered her. “Aiya, Elbereth… No.” Her face was marred with dark, drying blood and strands of her hair had been pulled out. Her long, golden-colored dress was stained with her own blood and had been ripped apart. Staring at her, Elrohir nearly choked on his emotions.
“We encountered Orcs,” said Lindir. “Celebrian was struck by a poisonous arrow.” Elladan helped him dismount and steadied him. “There were too many of them and too few of us.”
Elrond and Erestor, who had been in the study, now appeared as well. Elrond’s face was deathly pale. His blue eyes were large, and wet with tears. The half-Elf immediately headed for his wife. “Please give her to me.” He opened his arms and waited for a shocked Elrohir to place Celebrian in them. “Oh, melme, what did they do to you?”
Celebrian’s stare broke and she suddenly looked at her husband. A pain-filled whimper fled from her bruised lips and she quickly averted her eyes.
Seeing the emotional turmoil his wife was in, Elrond turned around and took her to the healing house, closely followed by Elrohir and Elladan.
Erestor looked at Lindir and saw very familiar anguish in the white-haired Elf’s eyes. In an uncharacteristic show of concern, he folded an arm around the elder Elf’s waist. “You should be in the healing house as well.” His entire body was trembling; he had recognized the expression in Lindir and Celebrian’s eyes. He had felt like that when his father had tried to rape him. There was no need to guess what the foul creatures had done to the two Elves.
“I do not want to go there,” whispered Lindir, his tone devoid of emotion. “I want to die. Will the Valar allow me to die?” His eyes stared off into the distance, reliving the horror Celebrian and he had endured. “I –should- die.”
Erestor, tightly controlling his raging emotions, steered Lindir toward the healing house. “You cannot give up, Lindir. Celebrian needs you.” He didn’t really know what to say or how to console the hurting Elf. “You must be strong for her.”
“I will fade, Erestor. I can already feel the call of Mandos. And now that I feel it, she will feel it as well.”
Erestor’s features contorted. “They… hurt… both of you?”
Lindir’s eyes suddenly filled with sorrow. “I told her we would not be able to keep it hidden.”
Erestor guided Lindir into the healing house and called for a healer. “Please do not give up. As long as there is hope…”
“Hope?” said Lindir, his tone filled with disbelief. “There is no hope.”
Erestor regretted having to let go of the elder Elf, but the healers needed to examine him. He watched the white-haired Elf being led into a room and then turned around, bowing his head in defeat. They were going to lose Celebrian and Lindir to Mandos and there was nothing he could do to stop it from happening.
“Ada? Can they help her?”
Elrond had chosen to stay with his sons whilst his best healers examined Celebrian. He had offered to examine her himself, but she had refused, glaring him into submission until he had left the room. Now he was here with his sons, burying them in a warm and tight hug. “I do not know if they can help her,” said Elrond honestly. Still severely shocked from seeing his wife in that state, he pulled his sons even closer. He needed them at his side now that he risked losing his precious love; his beloved wife.
The poisoned wound worried him, and then there was her ripped dress and the blood on the back of the golden gown. Digging his nails into his palms, he ignored the pain. /What if they violated her? We will lose her if they did. She will die from grief and fade away. And we will have to watch it happen./
Elrohir was the first to break the hug and to pull away. Wrapping his arms around his waist, he began to nervously pace the waiting room. “What did they do to her? I never saw such pain in her eyes. Ada, you are a healer! You can heal her, can’t you?”
Elrond sighed, distressed. “Elrohir, you saw the shape your mother was in.”
Elladan, who had been quiet until that point, suddenly said, “You think they violated her.” His words sounded like thunder and all present cringed at hearing them.
Elrond’s shoulders slumped. “It is possible.” He couldn’t mislead his sons; there was a distinct possibility that they were going to lose her. Suddenly, he saw some movement to his right; Erestor was advancing on them. “Where is Lindir?”
“In the best possible care. One of the healers is tending to him.” He hid his trembling hands in the long sleeves of his robes. Uncertain if he was wanted close during such a painful and intimate moment, he moved back to the doorway, but halted at hearing Elrond’s voice.
“Please stay. I might need you later.” Elrond wrung his hands, unable to hide the full extent of his despair. “Erestor, you talked to Lindir. What did he tell you?”
Erestor moistened his lips, suddenly feeling nervous. “I am not sure he would want me to—“
Elrohir, who had been pacing, now came to a stop in front of Erestor. Grabbing the advisor’s shoulders, he pleadingly said, “Just tell us what the monsters did to Nana!”
Erestor barely kept from flinching at Elrohir’s hard tone, but he knew he had to be strong and that he couldn’t allow his feelings to rule him. He had never thought the day would come when they needed him. He exchanged a look with Elrond and then confirmed their worst fears. “The Orcs did not show any mercy or compassion and abused their bodies and souls. Both Lindir and Celebrian are feeling the call of Mandos as we speak.”
Elrohir’s world shattered right there and then. “No…”
“I am so sorry, caun-nîn.” Sensing Elrohir’s pain, Erestor enveloped the younger twin in his arms. “You must be strong now.”
“I do not want to be strong,” sobbed Elrohir. His knees gave out beneath him and he allowed Erestor to drag him over to a chair, on which he collapsed. Suddenly Elladan was at his side, hugging him.
Elrond, still shocked, tried to compose himself. When Glorfindel suddenly entered, short of breath and eyes wide with disbelief, the half-Elf whispered into Erestor’s ear, “I cannot deal with this.”
Erestor nodded and stepped in front of Elrond, addressing the blond. “Please look after the twins. We have just learned that Celebrian is mortally injured.”
Glorfindel’s eyes widened. “But how? Why?”
“Do not ask questions!” rebuked Erestor. “Comfort them instead!”
Taken aback by Erestor’s authoritative tone, Glorfindel hurried over to the twins and knelt next to Elladan, quickly wrapping one arm around Elrohir and using the other to soothingly rub Elladan’s back. Part of him still couldn’t believe what had happened, but the twins’ pain was too palpable not to believe.
Elrond shook his head, unable to wrap his mind around the upending loss. “And Lindir?”
“He mentioned feeling Mandos’ call. He will fade during the next few months and will probably enter the Halls of Waiting before the next year will start.” Erestor wished he knew how to comfort the half-Elf, who was shaking with emotion, but then the door opened and a healer appeared, who had a worried expression on his brow.
“My Lord, I bring sad news.” The healer bowed his head in defeat. “Your wife… Her injuries are of such a nature that she will fade during the next few months. There is nothing I can do to help her.”
Elrohir gasped and then cried out in despair, tightly clinging to his brother and Glorfindel.
Elladan, trying to be the strong one, stroked his brother’s hair. “We will help her overcome her pain.”
“Child,” said the healer, “her injuries are beyond your powers to heal. Not even love can keep her here.”
“Ada?” Elrohir looked trustingly at his father. “You can help her… Please?”
Elrond’s heart broke, knowing he had to disappoint his sons. “Her injuries are of the mind, nîn-ion. No one can heal her soul.” Sighing deeply, his eyes closed momentarily. “We must do the little we can to ease her suffering.”
Elladan’s brow furrowed. “What can we do?”
“There is only one way to keep her alive… and relatively happy,” said Elrond, his heart burdened with pain and loss.
Elrohir, staring at Elrond, felt hope blossom in his heart. “How can we accomplish that?”
“In a few months her spirit will want to travel to the Halls of Waiting. There is only one way to keep her alive and that is by letting her, and Lindir, sail for Valinor.”
Silence descended over them, each of them trying to deal with this revelation in their own way. Erestor was the first to clear his throat and to address Elrond. “That should be her decision, but in the mean time you should treasure her presence and show her how much you love her.”
Elrohir and Elladan stared at each other in wild disbelief. “She cannot sail for Valinor. We need her!” That was all they had left? A few months’ time to spend with their mother?
Elrond walked over to his sons and Glorfindel quickly moved away, letting the half-Elf embrace the twins. “You must understand,” started Elrond in an emotional tone. “The longer she stays, the stronger the grief will become, and it will cause her to fade. I do not want to lose her either. I love her, but I love her enough to let her go. Do you understand?”
Elrohir sobbed softly. “My heart will slowly die, knowing that we are going to lose her.”
Elrond cupped his youngest son’s chin in the palm of his hand. “She is already fading. It started the moment those monsters touched her... intimately.”
“Can we speak with her? Please, Ada?” Elladan struggled to his feet, pulling Elrohir with him.
Elrond nodded, giving in. “We will talk to her.” Pushing himself to his feet, he tiredly turned to Glorfindel. “Will you stay here and make sure we are not disturbed?”
“Of course I will,” said Glorfindel, saddened to hear they would lose Celebrian one way or the other.
Elrond took his sons’ hands in his and led them toward the doorway. Passing by Erestor, he said, “You are welcome to join us.”
Glorfindel gasped, hearing those words. He had never realized how much Elrond considered the advisor part of his family.
But Erestor shook his head. “Someone should sit with Lindir. He needs support as well.”
Elrond’s features softened with affection. “You do well to think of him. Go then.”
Erestor bowed and quickly left the room, eager to comfort Lindir - unlike Celebrian, the white-haired Elf had no one to support him.
Making eye contact with his sons, Elrond drew in a deep breath. Pushing open the door, he entered first. His heart stopped beating momentarily, seeing Celebrian’s form beneath the blankets. Pulling his sons along with him, he knelt at the bed.
Elrohir and Elladan freed their hands from Elrond’s hold and sank onto their knees as well, on the other side of the bed. “Nana…” Elrohir, crying softly, gathered one of her hands close to his heart. “You must stay.”
Celebrian’s unreadable gaze was fastened on Elrond. “I still have a few months left, but Mandos is already calling me. I do not want to obey, but I feel I am fading. I do not have a choice. In time, I must leave you.” Her eyes were now full of fear, loss, and yet there was love as well. “But for now I want to take comfort in the fact that you are here with me.” Opening her arms, she encouraged her sons to embrace her.
They sobbed in her arms, started by her pallor and fragility. Both of them would treasure these last few months. “We love you, Nana,” sobbed Elrohir, “Do not leave us.”
Celebrian’s gaze met Elrond and they both looked upon their sons with great sadness in their hearts, knowing their time was very limited. “We will make the best of these last few months,” said Celebrian soothingly, stroking their hair. “We will love each other so much that it will last a lifetime.”
Lindir, wrapped up in warm blankets, was surprised when Erestor entered and then sat down in a chair next to his bed. The healer had left a moment ago after confirming his thoughts; he would continue to fade during the next few months. “How does Celebrian fare?”
Erestor directed his saddened gaze at the elder Elf. “She is fading, like you.”
Lindir rested his head in the pile of pillows propped up against the headboard and studied the advisor. “Erestor, I still recall the first time we met. You were so frightened back then and now… You have changed.”
Erestor swallowed past the lump in his throat. “When I arrived in Imladris I was scared… and hurting,” he admitted after a moment’s thought. What did he have to lose by being honest with Lindir? The elder Elf wouldn’t betray his secret now that they shared this pain. “I fled from Mirkwood because my father hurt me, badly. He took great care in violating me in ways that would assure I would not fade.”
Lindir’s eyes widened at the unexpected admission. “I always thought it was something like that.”
Erestor shrugged. “The day I ran away he tried to rape me. I could not let him do that and ran.”
“I was not as fortunate as you,” said Lindir neutrally, “I did not get away and neither did Celebrian.”
Erestor lowered his eyes and stared at the floor. “I would give my life to render that.” Surprised, he felt Lindir’s hand settle on his arm.
“I know you would, but what is done is done, and the past cannot be undone. Stay here with Lord Elrond, Arwen and the twins. Comfort them. Support them.”
“I will do the best I can,” promised Erestor as his eyes filled with tears. “You are so strong to think of them in this dark hour, mellon-nîn… May I call you that?”
Lindir nodded once, feeling weak and tired. “I would like to rest now.”
Lindir saw the door open behind Erestor and cocked his head, seeing Glorfindel shuffle hesitantly inside. “Lord Glorfindel?”
Erestor’s head jerked back and he angrily wiped away the tear that had managed to escape his eyes.
“I regret disturbing you when you need rest, Lindir, but Lord Elrond wishes to speak to Erestor.” Glorfindel felt nervous dealing with Lindir, knowing what had happened to the white-haired Elf.
Lindir could tell by the expression on the blond’s face that Glorfindel felt uncomfortable and quickly addressed Erestor. “Go talk to our master.”
Erestor slowly rose to his feet, trying to keep the shivers that coursed through his body hidden from the blond’s inquisitive look, which was now aimed at him.
Erestor nodded slowly, turned around and quickly passed by Glorfindel. Now that he was in the corridor, he allowed for his eyes to fill with tears. But by the time he reached the waiting room, he had wiped them away again.
Days turned into weeks and weeks into months, filled with immense sorrow and never-ending pain. Celebrian and Lindir had now begun to fade more quickly and Elrond knew the time had come to address their departure for Valinor. Late one night, long after dinner, he sat down opposite his wife and watched her now transparent fingers, resting idly in her lap. Elladan and Elrohir were seated at her feet, staring into the dying fire, and Arwen sat beside her mother, gently stroking her long hair.
“You do not have to continue to suffer in this way, melme. There is another way,” said Elrond softly. “Go to Valinor.” Elladan and Elrohir started at hearing his words and locked gazes with him. Arwen however, remained quiet and took one of Celebrian’s hands in hers.
“You will not come with me then?” Disbelief colored Celebrian’s tone. She had expected him to bring this up, but she had also hoped he would stay with her.
“I cannot come with you,” said Elrond, saddened. “I have a responsibility to our people.”
Celebrian sighed and her gaze now settled on her sons and daughter. “Will you come with me then?”
Elladan and Elrohir looked at each other with a panicked expression in their eyes. “Nana, please…” whispered Elrohir, scared. Imladris was their home, but he loved Celebrian with all his heart. He didn’t know how to make such a decision.
Looking at Arwen, Celebrian saw the love she held for Aragorn reflected in her eyes and she knew her daughter wanted to stay in Imladris as well. Tired, she closed her eyes. “I will lose you then, no matter what fate I choose.”
Elrond leaned in closer and gathered her hands in his. “Celebrian, melme, my time has not yet come. The last battle against Sauron has not been fought and I… I am needed here.”
“I need you as well, my Lord,” said Celebrian in an icy tone.
Elrond cringed, hearing her cold tone. “Please forgive me, melme, but this is not my choice to make.”
Celebrian now opened her eyes and glared at her husband. She knew he meant well, but she had hoped he would accompany her to Valinor. She felt like he had let her down, betrayed their love, but at the same time, she also realized he had to stay in Imladris. One day, he might be instrumental in defeating evil one last time. “I cannot promise I will wait for you in Valinor.”
“Live your life, melme,” said Elrond, setting her free and releasing her from her vows. “But know that you will always have my love.” Elrond pushed himself onto his feet and leaned in closer to press a kiss onto his wife’s brow. But she flinched away from the caress and Elrond’s eyes filled with tears and sadness. “Maybe one day you will be able to forgive me for failing you.”
Celebrian released the breath she had involuntarily been holding. She had always known in her heart that Elrond wasn’t hers completely. His destiny lay elsewhere. Finally realizing she had made the best of her time with Elrond, she admitted the moment had come to let him go. “Be at peace, my husband. I will sail for Valinor.”
At hearing that, Elrohir cried out in distress. Elladan immediately soothed him and the twins huddled close, comforting each other, whilst Arwen clung to her mother.
Celebrian’s tone was warm and caring when she addressed them. “Give me your hands.”
The twins turned to face her, knelt in front of her and held her hands tightly, refusing to let go of her just yet. “Nana, please stay,” whispered Elrohir, but deep in his heart he knew he was going to lose her, either to Mandos or to Valinor.
“I cannot stay,” said Celebrian in a heart-wrenching tone. “I would fade if I stayed, and you do not want that, do you?”
Elrohir released another sob. “I do not want to lose you!” Suddenly Elladan’s arm came up behind his back, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Nana is right; we must let her go. At least in Valinor she can heal. We should be glad that we could spend these last few months with her,” whispered Arwen in a melancholy tone.
Elrohir’s tear streaked face now turned toward his twin. “I cannot live without her.”
Celebrian’s heart was breaking, hearing Elrohir sob. “Always remember that I love you,” she said in a loving tone. “And never forget me.”
“How can I forget you?” called Elrohir out in despair.
Celebrian now addressed her husband. “Look after them. Comfort them. And make all necessary arrangements for my departure. I cannot linger here any longer.”
Elrond nodded; his shoulders heavy with burden. “You will be able to leave within the hour.” Looking into her eyes, his heart missed a beat from fear. The blue in her eyes had faded. “We must hurry.”
Celebrian nodded and pulled her sons close for one last hug. Whilst holding them, she said, “Elrond, you must inform my mother that I am leaving.” She turned to Arwen, leaned into her daughter for support and found comfort in the fact that Arwen would stay with her until her ship set sail.
Another sigh left Elrond’s lips. “I will see to it.” Tears pooled in the depths of his eyes, but he forced them back; his family needed him to be strong.
Erestor, who had chosen to sit with a weakening Lindir tonight, looked up when the door opened behind him.
“I regret disturbing you when you need rest, Lindir, but Lord Elrond wishes to speak to Erestor,” said a servant.
“Erestor, the time has come to say goodbye.”
Erestor slowly rose to his feet, trying to keep the shivers that coursed through his body hidden.
Both of them knew this moment had been inevitable; Celebrian had decided to finally sail for Valinor. In the last few months Celebrian and Lindir had spent much time together, talking and comforting each other.
Erestor cleared his throat. “I doubt we will speak again.” He regretted losing Lindir to Valinor. During these last few months they had begun building a friendship which would now never prosper.
Lindir managed a weak smile. “Be at peace, Erestor, and remember me kindly.”
Elrond looked up at Erestor’s arrival. The twins and Arwen were trying to protect another from the loss that threatened to rob them of their sanity. The Lord of Imladris signaled for Erestor to approach.
Erestor bowed respectfully and waited for Elrond to address him.
“She wants to speak to you one last time before she leaves.”
“Lindir and Celebrian will sail for Valinor then?” Erestor’s heart was slowly breaking into thousands of pieces, hearing his thoughts confirmed.
“Aye, they will leave in a few minutes. We have already said our goodbyes, but she wants to talk to you as well.” Elrond opened the door and signaled for his friend to enter the room.
Erestor drew in a deep breath; he wasn’t sure he wanted to do this. But in the end, he entered and walked toward Celebrian, who was being dressed in a warm riding cloak. Her long silver hair was hidden beneath a hood and her eyes were white now that her irises had faded as well. Her lips, which used to be full and red, now resembled thin, pink lines.
“My Lady?” Erestor remained at an appropriate distance, knowing from personal experience that she wouldn’t want him close.
Celebrian looked at him and gave him a sad smile. “Pen-neth, I want to ask you a question.”
Erestor bowed his head. “I cannot come with you.” He had instantly known what question she was referring to. “Someone needs to look over Arwen and Elrohir, and especially Elladan. I want to keep them safe.”
“You love them,” said Celebrian and this time her smile was genuine.
“I always did. It started the day they were born.” Erestor felt ill at ease now that he was letting his guard down. “I wish I could accompany you, but—“
Celebrian cut him short. “I think I already know what your answer would be. Pen-neth, you have always been like a son to me and I regret leaving you behind, but you do understand that I have no choice?”
Erestor nodded and hesitantly met her gaze. She had moved closer and was now standing in front of him. Even now, whilst she was fading, he could see the inner strength that would keep her alive until she had reached Valinor. “I understand that neither you nor Lindir have a choice.”
Celebrian then raised her hand and touched his face. “There is so much pain inside me. So much shame… So much grief. But you know that, child, don’t you?”
Trembling fiercely he nodded. “I do.”
“Because you carry this pain, shame and grief inside your heart as well.” Celebrian sighed, dejectedly. “I always tried to alleviate your pain, but I never understood how you felt and now that I do, it is too late.”
Erestor caved in and allowed the tears to flow from his eyes. “My Lady… I would gladly bear your pain, if the Valar would let me.”
“I know that, child,” said Celebrian, as some serenity returned to her gaze. “And I love you for it.” Tentatively, uncertain how either one of them would react, she buried him in a final embrace. “Look after Elrond and my children for me. I entrust them to your care.”
Erestor nodded against her shoulder, breathing in her sweet scent for the last time. “I will miss you so much.”
Celebrian released him, took a step away from him and pulled the hood further over her face, hiding her features. “Maybe one day we will meet again, pen-neth, in Valinor.”
“Maybe,” whispered Erestor in a shaky tone.
Celebrian couldn’t take any more emotional pain and hurried out of the room and into the corridor where Arwen, Lindir and an escort were waiting to take her to the havens. Looking upon Lindir’s face, she placed one hand in his, tightly holding onto him, and her other in Arwen’s. They were now united in pain and sorrow and hopefully they would find comfort in each other’s arms.
As they fled the Last Homely House, they left a shattered family behind. Elrond was trying to comfort his sons with Glorfindel’s assistance, whilst Erestor quietly sneaked out of the room and into the corridor. Looking at the four of them, he felt their connection and realized his heart wouldn’t let him be part of this. He had just lost one of the most important persons in his life and couldn’t let the twins rule his heart any more. They would break it the day they left.
Elrond, still busy consoling his sons, caught Erestor’s hurried departure and was tempted to follow his friend, but he couldn’t possibly leave his sons. He couldn’t ask Glorfindel to comfort Erestor either; the two Elves just didn’t get along. Resigned, he concentrated on comforting the twins.
Erestor headed for Elrond’s study, hoping to lessen the half-Elf’s burden slightly by taking over his duties for the next few days.
His mask of indifference was perfectly in place again when he addressed his fellow advisors. He didn’t allow himself the luxury of grieving now that Celebrian was gone. He would go on, living his life in cold solitude.
Beta read by Ilye, thank you!
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