Celebrían, Elrond and Eärendil
Contest price for
for the 3st place in the "Elflings" contest held by
This one was most challenging - she wanted to see the happiest day in the life of any Tolkien character. I didn't want to draw a wedding, so it's a reuniting instead...
The story going with it: Back and forth. Back and forth. The waves reach the shore with a steady rhythm, white crests of foam breaking on the white sand. I wait. It seems the longest waiting in my life. Not even in the moments when I waited before the gates of Ilmarin to look into the faces of the Powers, did I feel thus. Back and forth. Back and forth. The waves sing their song. And with every tone the ship carrying my son is nearer to the shores of Eldamar. Elwing has flown ahead already, a white gull hurrying to greet the arriving ship. But I wait. For once I am the one who is waiting in the harbour for a ship to arrive, and suddenly I understand all the wives and mothers of mariners. Back and forth. Waiting in the rhythm of waves. Soon I will see my son...
Back and forth. The waves sing on the sand, and with every rhythm of the song the white ship is nearing. It can already be seen in the bay, the sails just as big as the gulls crying in the port. It is growing, coming nearer and nearer, carried by the blue waves of Ulmo's sea. Soon it will land. Soon I will see my son. Soon...
Ropes are thrown from the ship to the pier, and secured safely. This time, I am not the one to throw the rope, nor secure it. The movements are so familiar, the smells, the feelings – the salty breeze, and the slight roll of the ship on the waves when the ropes are being tightened, the first step on the firm ground... Yet this time, I am not the one experiencing them. I just watch and wait. Just watch and wait, as the plank is lowered from the ship, and all hold their breath, expecting who will be the first to set foot on the soil of the Undying Lands. Watch and wait...
White light shimmers on the water. For a moment, I see a powerful flame, burning like an encouraging light in the hearts of those who look at it. Then the light abates, and there is a figure in white robes, old and yet not old, looking at the beauty of the Undying land with the eyes of one who has seen death. Tears are in his eyes, as he lifts his face to feel the wind from Taniquetil on it. Olórin returned home...
He turns, and smiles at the two figures following him, to encourage them. They are small like children, and their step is as light as the leaves of wheat stroking the warm soil as their bare feet touch the white sand, stumbling slightly on the firm ground after spending weeks on the Sea. I do not see this time, but I feel it – the light that one of them bears in him, that one that remains from a pure spirit when everything else is swallowed by darkness. It resonates with the light in the phial he is bearing, hidden now, but I sense it, because it's the light of hope – my light... I am honoured that I could be a part of this tale. He would not recognize me, but I smile at him as our eyes meet. I smile, and I bow to the Ringbearer. Praise them with great prise!
The air shimmers, and I feel a Presence. The Valar are here... Unclad they came to greet the ones arriving, not receiving honours, but giving them with their presence. From a gust of wind, a tall figure steps out, like from a door, and a next one appears as a shining point in the air - a living star whose rays give shape to the figure of a beautiful woman. The Elder King came with his Queen to greet those who saved Middle-earth, but found no place for themselves in it any more.
"Welcome, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins," the Queen of Stars speaks with a voice like silver bells.
For a moment, they just look at the kingly pair, at a loss for words. But then the older one – Bilbo - bows hastily, nudging the younger one to do the same. "At the service of yours and your family, my lord and lady," he answers, and Frodo echoes him with "At your service..."
The Lord of Winds smiles warmly. "Welcome home..." he says, and then he turns to all who stand before him, and to all those on the ship. To them all belong his words…
Olórin bows his head gratefully, looking with love at his lord. It lasts only for a moment, and there are no words, but I know they are speaking together, telling more in a blink of an eye than with days of words. And then I see Manwë, the lord of Valar, embracing his returning Maia. In the next moment I must wonder if what I saw was real, for the Valar faded into the clean air just as they appeared, and Olórin leads to hobbits to their new home. A great white horse follows him, trotting with his head lifted proudly, clearly glad to have stable ground under the hooves again.
But I turn to the ship again, because the one I'm expecting has not entered the pier yet. Another passenger leaves the ship, walking with a slow step. I see white again, but it is not a proud, radiant white. It is a simple colour, humble, and yet solemn, like the colour of wisdom. An elven woman walks down the pier, looking uncertain, as if she is not sure if someone will be expecting her. I have been told about her departure, nearly three ages ago. She had been proud then, looking for a realm where she could rule herself, away from anyone who would tell her what to do – a queen she wanted to be, powerful and magnificent.
It was Artanis Nerwen who entered a ship to Middle-earth. It is Galadriel who returns. She passed the test of her own pride, and remained herself – and so she returns: not a queen, but a simple woman who knew both suffering and love, who knew that ruling means serving and protecting, knew grief for a land caught in a stream of time. She did not find power in Middle-earth. She found herself.
Now she looks around at the shores of her home, dignified and solemn as her bare feet touch the white sand, and yet there is uncertainty in her. Slow steps sound behind me, and from her look, I know it is the one whom she long and yet feared to see. Her father...
Finarfin walks forwards slowly, and stops before her. They are looking at each other for a few moments, without a movement, without a word. I know he has been waiting for this while too, waiting with hope and a little anxiety for the meeting with his daughter. How much did she change? Will he recognize her? Now they stand near each other, but the Sea is still between them, and they have to cross it themselves.
She takes a shaky breath, and bows deeply. "Forgive me, father..." she whispers.
Finarfin doesn't move for a moment yet, but compassion is in his eyes, imagining what his daughter had to go through to become what she is now. He lifts her up. "My child..." he breathes out, and embraces her tightly. "You returned..."
She smiles through tears. "Yes, father... I'm home again..."
Oh, how I long to hear that word from my own son... How long have I waited for this moment... But I am even more anxious than Finarfin. It was me who left, and my sons were just little boys in that time. Will he know me? But how could he? The only sight of his father he could have when growing up was a distant light in the dark sky. I watched him every night, but I am a stranger to him. Now, finally, I will be able to speak to him, to touch him... but will he allow it to me? For a moment I almost want it to be like before – to watch and hope. Now, after all the centuries, one short moment can crush that hope, and I'm suddenly afraid. If I lose that hope now, what will be left for me? What will be left of me, of Gil-Estel? Mere moments divide me from seeing my son, and I don't know if I would like them to be over already, or if I would rather stop the time, and remain with hope, but nothing more.
But the time does not stop. You are here. You stand on the pier, looking just like I know you from my lonely watches, and yet different, because this time, I'm not just a watcher. I can reach to you. Just a few steps divide us, but you are the one who has to make them. I have no right to that any more. You have to decide, if I will remain just a watcher forever... Oh Eru, give me strength in this moment...
You make a few steps, and then stop. Your eyes are searching the small crowd on the shore. Behind you, I see Elwing, but she remains quiet, and gives you no clue. Your sight stops at me for a moment, but then it wanders further without recognition. Oh, my son…. I knew you will not recognize me... And yet it feels like a dagger in my heart. I stand still, but inside, I feel my light dying.
Ah... Suddenly I realize. The decision did not fall yet. It is not me who you are looking for... Of course it is not me! The distance I cannot cross, someone else can. Celebrían runs to meet you! She laughs happily, and the laughter is in her eyes also – what a difference to the broken woman, with hair like weeping silver, that arrived on a grey ship years ago. But in this moment, her healing is complete, and what was separated is whole again.
Long you stay in each other's embrace. Every moment prolongs my uncertainty, but I am happy for you both. Finally, you separate, with a promise of all the remaining ages of the world together that I can read in your eyes. Slowly you let go of her hand, searching through the crowd again. Will you miss me, or will your look stop? And if you recognize me, what then? Am I your father still?
The time stretches. And then... your eyes turn to me. You make a step. Another...
You stand before me. If I would reach my hand, I could touch you, feel you with my fingers. My hands are shaking, but still I do not move. I wait. I wait just for one word...
"Father..." you say.
I close my eyes, while the sound of the word echoes in my mind, wanting to remember this while forever.
"My son…" The words almost get stuck in my throat with emotion, but I say them. I can't stay quiet now. Oh my son…. How long have I dreamed of this moment…. And now it has come true, and I'm almost overwhelmed by it.
"Thank you for the hope, father…" you say quietly, and I have no words for a reply, for I want to laugh and weep in the same time. I thank you for hope, my son… for the hope that just fulfilled….
Can I embrace you now? I don't know and I don't care any more. I just do it, do what I wanted to do for all those years. And you return the embrace…. Oh, behold, Valinor! I hold my son in my arms! I can touch him, I can speak to him!
I am a father again!
(From my story Hope of a Star [link]
- chapter 10)