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A Powerful Absence

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Summary: A simple accident, some years after the end of the Ring War, leaves one of the sons of Elrond coping with life in Middle Earth without his twin. WINNER 2011 Middle Earth Fanfic Awards.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Lord of the Rings > Non-BtVS/AtS Stories(Recent Donor)curiouslywombatFR1337,3003201,49030 Nov 109 Dec 10Yes

Chapter Three

The next few months were… difficult. Mother and Father were both so glad to see him; Mother in particular wanted to touch him, hold him, and spend all her time with him. Mother who looked so well, almost as he remembered her from his youth, as he had feared he would never see her again. He felt guilty because he could not enjoy this reunion with her as much as he should; he felt as if he did not have any emotion left to enjoy anything.

Father was quieter, his presence should have been more restful than Mother’s, but he had his own inner sadness as he mourned the death of Estel – the ‘son of his heart’. Both parents were, naturally, also distressed by what he had told them about Arwen, lost without her beloved husband and in retreat in the silent Golden Wood as she waited to fade. Except that Elladan overheard them discuss the possibility that Grandfather would ‘talk sense into her’ and she would arrive, yet, on a ship from The Havens. Elladan knew that it was a false hope.

He realised too that, in a perverse way, both parents had welcomed the news of Elrohir’s fatal fall when it had been sent to them within years of his death. In that letter Elladan had told them of that last touch from Elrohir’s fëa; the promise that, should Elladan take ship, they would meet in the Undying Lands. A promise not yet kept, Elladan thought. To his parents it was a promise that at least one son had chosen the path of the First Born – and they had realised that Elladan would, almost certainly, also choose to come to them in time, rather than endure the ages to come without his twin.

He wondered if they really understood how much pain the sundering of the two fëar had caused him. Surely Father must, even though it was long ages ago that Elros had chosen to take the mortal path, but he did not speak of it to Elladan, never said “I know what pain you are in.” Elladan wondered if it had been less painful for Father – perhaps, then, his own reaction to the loss of Elrohir was in some way wrong or unnatural?

Then Grandmother arrived. She spent time simply being with him, saying little; her presence was unexpectedly calm and soothing. Galadriel understood, he realised, more than Mother and Father seemed to; she was not surprised by his weariness and sorrow.

“There is no hurry, Elladan,” she told him, one day when he was particularly restive. “Allow time to flow past you, do not try to catch it in your hands and measure it. Elrohir told you that he had chosen the path of the First Born. He will follow that path in the time that Lord Namo decides he needs.

“How long? How long is his path from Imladris to Valinor going to take, Grandmother?" Elladan asked. “You have friends here, and relatives, who have followed the path through Mandos’ Halls. How long does it take? I thought that he would be here, waiting for me…”

“No-one can predict, my dear one,” Grandmother answered, slowly. “Some are there for only a short time as lived by those of us still in the world; others have remained in Mandos’ Halls through almost all of time.”

“There must be some sort of rhyme or reason to it,” Elladan suggested.

“Those who might have, or perhaps should have, more to regret seem to take longer to regain equilibrium of their fëar and be able to be re-housed here in Aman. Those who were involved in the Kin-slaying, and are now returned, spent many years in His Lordship’s presence. Others, who died in accidents, or were innocent victims, or slain by orcs, may only spend a little time there – as long as they have friends or kin here to rejoin.”

Elladan said nothing for some time. It was a little over a century now since Elrohir’s death, and he certainly had family here to rejoin. Perhaps the twins’ unstinting pursuit and slaughter of orcs had left Elrohir’s fëa damaged.

Or, a sudden and horrifying thought, Elrohir was being kept away from his twin as a punishment for Elladan – a punishment for their centuries of battle rage, or a punishment for not staying with Arwen.

His anguish at that idea must have been so clear to Grandmother that she heard the thoughts.

“No, dear one,” she said, still gently, but with some of her old authority. “One thing I do know, from conversations with reborn Galadhrim and reborn cousins, time in Mandos’ Halls is not punishment for either the dead or the living. When Elrohir returns to you he will be well, and whole, and very glad to be reunited with you.

“Only Lord Namo knows whether that will be tomorrow, next week, or in many yéni; his decision will not depend on you. To think so, Elladan, would be false pride.”

Grandmother stayed for some time. Elladan began to learn how to do as she said, to let the time flow, to stop counting the days and weeks. Slowly he also learn how to let go of his feelings of guilt, and to recognise that he was angry with Elrohir for abandoning him.

It was strange, he thought, that it was Grandmother who helped him, not Father, despite Father being a great healer and also a twin who had been left alone. One evening, as he walked through moonlit gardens with Grandmother, Elladan voiced that thought.

“Perhaps your feelings are too well known to him,” she answered. “If he truly listens to you, looks into your heart and realises how hurt you have been by those years that you stayed in Arda as a strength and comfort to Aragorn and Arwen, his own pain might become as if new again.”

Elladan considered this and decided that Grandmother was probably right. He would not want to cause Father to relive the sort of pain and despair he had felt at the loss of his own twin and so, he decided, he would keep this pain to himself or share it only with Grandmother.

Eventually there came a time when Grandmother decided it was time for her to return to her own new home. Before she did so she suggested that Elladan discuss his true feelings with Celebrian. In fact Galadriel sat with them both and ensured that her daughter and her grandson shared, honestly, how both had felt over the whole time since Celebrian’s attack by the orcs. The hours spent doing so were painful, but cathartic.

Elladan felt at peace with his mother, and had decided for himself how to interact as honestly as possible with his father, and at last he began to feel the promised healing of the Undying Lands. He waved his grandmother farewell with an easier heart, and a promise to visit her… some time… whenever he wished.

……………………………….

One evening the small family of three sat in the garden, by moonlight, and Mother asked Elladan did he think his grandfather would come to join them in the West?

“Yes,” he answered, with no hesitation, “eventually.”

Glorfindel wanted to return to the place of his birth; wanted to be reunited with both his long unseen relatives and with this, his adopted family. Glorfindel would not come without Grandfather – and so Grandfather would come eventually, for Glorfindel’s sake… and to be reunited with Grandmother. The time they had been apart, since Grandmother came West, was a tiny drop in the sea of their life together and it was impossible to imagine them apart for ever. Grandmother, Elladan knew, felt in her fëa that they would be reunited.

Perhaps, he thought, Grandfather and Glorfindel would arrive by sea before Elrohir left the realm of Lord Namo – perhaps not – but, eventually, those who remained within the circles of the world would all be together. There was now, for their family at least, no longer any sense of running out of time.

He still felt some guilt, because he had not stayed with Arwen until the last, and he was not sure that his father really had accepted that he would not see her again; although he thought Mother had, now. He wondered whether Grandfather would send them the final word in a letter, or would come himself? It would be best for Mother if he brought the news in person – being re-united with her beloved father would help ease the pain of finally knowing there was no hope of her seeing her daughter. But Grandfather’s arrival would be no such comfort for Father.

These thoughts were still in Elladan’s head as he lay down on the bed in the room he finally thought of as ‘my bedroom’. He slowly let go of them and found, instead, that his thoughts drifted to times with Arwen and Elrohir when they were all still young. Good memories; he turned them over in his mind and felt no sorrow, no guilt, no anger at being left alone… he was smiling as he drifted into sleep.

He woke with the instant awareness of his surroundings, gained during the years of riding against orcs, not the more leisurely return to full consciousness of more recent times. Something had woken him. His hand went, without thought, for his sword – a sword that was no longer at his side, not here.

Someone was in the room! Someone was… and suddenly he knew. He turned his head slowly and there, illuminated by the moonlight, was Elrohir. Naked, and looking slightly bemused, Elrohir sat with his knees drawn up, his arms around them, on the edge of the bed, watching Elladan.

There was a moment of silence – almost of disbelief – and then, slowly, each put a hand out towards the other’s face. The touches were mutually gentle, and they remained like that for some time. When Elladan had imagined this reunion he had always thought of them running to each other, clasping each other as warriors, and then hugging each other, Elf-like or not, chest to chest. But this quiet reconnection of their fëar was right – it was how it should be.

“Where are we, Dan?” were Elrohir’s first words. Again, not at all as Elladan had imagined.

“This is my bedroom in Mother and Father’s house. We are in the Undying Lands, Elro. I… we… have been waiting for you.”

Suddenly there was a flash of humour in Elrohir’s eyes. “I came as soon as I could, Dan…”

After a pause Elrohir continued, “Lord Namo called me to his presence and told me it was my time to be returned to the world. He laid a hand on my shoulder and then gestured me to pass through a door – and on the other side I was here… I… It feels strange, still, to have my body again.”

Elladan supposed it would. But he had to ask the obvious question.

“What was it like, Elro?”

“It is hard to describe. I was me, but – less solid. It felt as if… as if I was lying in a warm pool, floating in moonlight. There were others there, and sometimes we would converse, but I do not think we used words out loud. Sometimes Lord Namo spoke to us. Sometimes I think he listened to my thoughts. I was quite happy – except that you were not with me.”

He paused again, then added, softly, “I am so glad, Dan, to be back together.”

Now they finally did hug each other and then sat, as they had as children, their arms around each other’s shoulder beneath one set of bedding.

Tomorrow Elladan would have to share his brother with Mother and Father, but Lord Namo had given them these hours together first. They talked.

“I was so angry, Dan. I was angry at myself for not keeping control of the horse, for dying in such a stupid way!”

“I was angry, too, Elro. I was angry with myself for letting you die. Then,” the difficult admission, “I… I was angry at you, too, for leaving me to cope. I didn’t even realise how angry I had been with you until I spoke of it, here, with Grandmother.”

Elladan almost expected Elrohir to be annoyed by the thought of his brother blaming him for dying – but instead Elrohir grinned.

“I do not think we could ever have imagined Grandmother helping you to come to terms with your anger at the same time as Lord Namo helped me with mine. An unlikely couple!”

A little later. “I felt so guilty for letting you die; and then Arwen, too, blamed me at first…”

“I know.”

“You know?” How could Elrohir know of events that had happened since his death?

“She told me.”

“She told you?”

Elrohir seemed to be gathering his thoughts together and then, rather haltingly, explained. “I met with both Estel and Arwen. I know not where their fëar went after our meeting, but Estel came first to Mandos before he went… wherever mortals go. One day one of those who serve Lord Namo called me to follow him and I found myself in a room. Well, not exactly a room, but… somewhere.

“At first I thought Lord Namo must want to speak with me, but then I knew someone else had entered and – it was Estel! We spoke. I do not know how long we were together – time was so very different in The Halls – but I was able to share his memories of the children as they grew, of you, of Arwen.

“Estel expected Arwen would join us quickly – it was wonderful that we had been granted the time to say farewell as he awaited her – and we were told that I would also be able to say farewell to Arwen. Estel and I both expected this to happen very soon after we found ourselves together but, even with the… fluid way that time passed for us, we realised that Arwen could not have passed easily and quickly from her life in Arda.

“I think Estel feared that she had changed her mind – perhaps he was caught, even in death, between wanting her to follow him to wherever he was going and wanting her to choose our path…

“But she did come and she was so happy to find Estel waiting for her. I was blessed that I was able to say goodbye to her. We parted, the three of us, in love. I do not think it was that very long ago. It does not feel as if there has been much time between saying goodbye to them and finding myself here with you.”

It had never occurred to Elladan that Lord Namo would arrange for Estel and Arwen to say their farewells to Elrohir; that he would care so much about each individual fëa in his care. He felt a tear trickle down his cheek and realised that he was crying for the first time since he had last held Arwen. Now Elrohir held him; they were at peace together.

The first rays of sunshine crept into the room; Elrohir’s first dawn in Aman.

“Your own bedroom is across the corridor,” Elladan told him, “but for now we can dress you from my wardrobe, before I have to share you with Mother and Father.”

“Mother…” Elrohir looked as if he could hardly believe that he would soon be reunited with Celebrian.

Elladan knew that the news of Estel and Arwen, news that had comforted him, would end all hope of Father’s that Arwen might, yet, join them here. But surely the joy of regaining Elrohir would make up for it?

But then, he realised, with Elrohir back and beside him, it almost did not matter; he felt as though his fëa was fully whole again and he could face anything. Life, with all its possibilities, was in front of them and, now, they could live it to the full.

Together, they walked out of the door.

The End


Disclaimer: The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only, and all rights remain with the estate of JRR Tolkien.

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