Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lord of the Rings belong to their respective creators, Joss Whedon and J.R.R. Tolkien.
She watches the east.
I come to see her in the morning, as the sky grows light. She is always awake, sitting at the window, looking away into the east.
Her wounds are healed. All in the house see this, and praise my skill at healing even the worst of wounds. But what they do not know is that I did nothing. I could do nothing. The orcs had hurt her too grievously, she had lost too much blood. By all that is natural, she should have died before ever reaching my doorstep.
But I dressed her injuries, doing what I could with herbs and Elven lore, and against all my knowledge and all mortal laws, she lived.
I have spoken to Haldir, and also to Thranduil's son and his retainers. I perhaps understand more of what happened in the wood than they. I understand more of what this girl is than any other here. And I shall not reveal her secrets, for she stood between my Arwen and unspeakable torments.
Whatever it was that truly happened, she has shown me that I may trust her.
She smiles at me when I sit beside her, and silently we watch the dawn. There is something rising in the east, something that may swallow us all. But sitting her, beside her, seeing her smile, I feel no fear.
I wish to speak to her of...of her situation. It grows worse by the day, and it is clear she does not know what to do. But nor, for that matter, do I. All who come near her are pulled into her, willingly or unwillingly, and she herself is caught in it. Knowing what I do of her nature, of what she is here to do, I surmise that I also know what is causing it, but I do not know how much she knows, nor how much she can bear to know.
I would spare my sons anguish. I do not wish to lose either to despair, but I cannot see a way out. If she were to leave Imladris, if I removed her from them...
She stands, walks to the window. She is limned against the light, a dark shape with her small body, the lissome waist, the flow of her hair. And when she turns to look at me, her eyes are green fire.
It is not her fault. It would be as if I blamed Arwen for being as fair as Luthien herself. This is only a girl, barely more than a child, who has seen and carried with her too much sorrow. Whose green eyes hide in them terrible things, and a terrible truth.
She is a great danger to us all, and perhaps, our only hope.
I wonder if she does indeed love one of my sons. If she knows, in her heart, whom she would want, if only the wanting of one did not mean the breaking of the other. If she wants neither, wants instead a marchwarden who studiously avoids her glance and watches her when she looks elsewhere, a lord whose eyes follow her every movement in the hall, or perhaps one of her own race.
I wonder how long this bloodless war between my sons and the son of Thranduil can go on. Such reckless children, all so headstrong, so prepared to forget all consequences if they could only get what they desire so ardently. It makes them bold, but so does it makes them pitiless. In the others, there is some manner of restraint, even in the son of Minas Tirith who is, after all, a grown man, but not in our children. I fear for them, for their youth.
I wonder what would happen were she to meet Estel.
“Father,” she says quietly, unexpectedly.
I maintain my composure. She does not know our language, and this would have been a word she heard often used by my children in addressing me. There is every possibility she thinks it is my name.
Her eyes darken. “Scared.”
She sits on the floor, much like a child would, all careless grace, and leans her head against my knee. Her voice, when she speaks again, is that of a little girl's. “Scared.” Her voice breaks. “Home.”
I am filled with pity. I stroke her hair, much as I did for my own children when they were younger and more easily comforted.
Would that I could spare her what is to come. Would that I could stop myself knowing what Galadriel sees in her mirror. Would that I knew what to do with all her lovers, that I could save my sons and this child their pains.
“Do not be sad,” I tell her, and for a moment it is Arwen's hair I touch. “Little one, all is not lost. Do not be sad. There is hope still.”
But she is not Arwen, and her hair is softer than I had ever imagined.