Author’s note: Thanks SO much to Cinnie for helping me with this, for being harsh when she needed to be and encouraging for the rest of the time.
Credits: The words of the Lament are mine and are set to a piece of music called “She Moves Through The Fair” and I used the Mike Oldfield version which is on my Yahoo Group - Beyond The Call - if you want to listen to it. The poem is by WH Davies.
In the bright springtime sunshine, Arwen and Giles started their journey from the city which had become her home so many years ago. She kissed her son and daughters goodbye and bid a sweet emotional farewell to her people, who had come to love their elven queen so very much. They had benefitted from her kindness and compassion, marvelling at her grace, and her love for her Lord Aragorn had made her a favourite. She travelled alone but for a small band of guards that her son had insisted that she take... and someone else.
Arwen smiled across at Giles as he rode peacefully beside her. She was glad that he was with her. His company was easygoing and light, and the stories he could tell were amazing. She knew they were from his homeland of Sunnydale and it was the only way he knew of to keep the memories of that time alive. He spoke of his Slayer, her Angel, his Willow, her Xander. He laughed a lot when he remembered silly jokes and songs from his world and he would tell him to her, making her musical laugh echo out over the plains.
When they finally entered the peaceful forests of Lothlórien, Arwen breathed a deep sigh of relief. To her dismay, the Wood that she remembered so clearly as a place of light and laughter was now dim, the sun’s rays barely making it through the forest floor. Her horse nickered in the stillness but there was no sound, not even a bird singing. Just silence. She had sent her guards back at the borders to the Wood and now she and Giles rode alone. There was no hurry now. Now, they had time to breathe, time to be still, time to talk. Giles sang and recited poetry to Arwen.
“I had no idea men had such words,” she breathed after he had finished reciting one of his favourites “Tell me again.”
“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”
“You speak it so beautifully,” Arwen sighed happily. “I could listen to you forever.”
Giles grinned. “I would eventually run out of things to say.”
“I doubt that. I believe you could talk from now until the sky falls.”
“I’ll probably be here until then.”
The sadness on his face and the bleakness of his voice caused Arwen to stop abruptly and stare at him. Only once before had she seen him look so....lost. So alone. She forgot sometimes that he was not from Middle Earth, that he had friends and family and he missed them, often more than he could say. It had not occurred to her for a moment that he did appear to be as immortal as the elf she had once been. But whereas she would lay down and pass on, Giles would not have that luxury. Was he really eternal? Would he be as the elves had been, watching with sadness as humans came and went in the blink of an eye. She could not bear the thought of her friend so alone and tears filled her eyes as the horror of his situation overwhelmed her. She stumbled and Giles caught her arm.
“Are you alright?” he asked, concern clear on his face.
“I’m fine,” she mumbled, brushing his hand away and swiping at the betraying tears.
The days slipped by in Lórien. Giles was happy to be back in the cool green forests. There was a kind of peace there that he could not find elsewhere, and certainly not in the jostling, bustling city of Minas Tirith. Giles took himself off on the long walks through the trees, remembering the secret places from his time in Lothlórien before. The anticipation of Arwen’s death hung over them, however, and day by day Giles watched her strength fail and felt anger flare up inside that he could not help her. The deep colour of her hair faded, along with her will to live, and even the vivid eyes that looked upon the world lost their sparkle. She became weaker and weaker, eventually being confined to her chamber, unable even to walk.
As for Arwen, she found herself hungering for Giles’ presence by her side each day. Not for him; she did not love him and their friendship was still, in her eyes, young. She felt a little guilty for using him the way she was, to bring her husband to life again, but he had something she did not. He had a mind full of memories of her Elessar. He had fought side-by- side with her husband, had made camp with him and celebrated with him on their wedding day. She watched Giles as he moved around the room and came to a decision. Her death was fast approaching, every day her strength grew less, but to fill the days until she closed her eyes against the world, he could fill her mind with colour. He could tell her of Aragorn, the Aragorn that she had never known.
One day, they were sitting in her room, Giles playing softly for her while Arwen dozed as she did a little more each day. Then, in the near silence, Arwen spoke.
“Do not mourn me, Lindar.”
Her words jolted him out of his reverie. She raised enough energy to give him a smile, but it had none of the power it used to. The sight of her slumped against the pillows was almost enough to bring tears to his eyes but he blinked them away, knowing it wasn’t what she wanted.
“This is what I want. Release. I’m so tired of being alone. I miss him so much.”
Giles smiled at her gently and framed another chord on his lute, humming softly under his breath.
“I was so angry with him” Arwen began to speak in a quiet but intense voice. “He left me. He just laid down, and he left me. One moment there, and the next gone. By choice he left me. He chose to die. Of all the times you fought with him, you saw how he danced with death but in the end, he decided. He chose.”
“You know why that was,” Giles said. “It is considered the wise and best thing to do.”
Her eyes streamed with tears. “I gave up my family, the chance to see my mother again, to be immortal and so be with him. And he chose to die. He left me.” Her voice broke on the final word, and she turned her face away from him so he would not see her despair.
Giles watched in silence for a moment before beginning a soft, lilting lullaby which he hoped would sooth her. He knew no other way of comforting this broken and lost woman. He knew she would not accept physical comfort from him, but this music-- this was all he had to offer.
“Giles?” her soft voice broke through the music. He laid down the instrument and moved to sit on the bed beside her.. She stared up at him, her blue eyes cloudy with tears. “I don’t want you to be alone.”
“I’m not alone, Arwen,” he said softly.
“I’m so tired,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry.”
“You’re sorry? I don’t understand.”
“You will,” she whispered. “I have been unfair to you.”
Giles smiled at her. She thought she had hidden her motives for having him around but, to him, she was as clear as water. She had not been as devious as she had thought, and he had humoured her. He could not bear her to feel guilty for something that he had freely given.
“Come closer.” She lifted a weary hand and he took it, feeling the chill of death upon it. “You have given so much to me, and I have been ungrateful. But I can repay this debt.”
With sudden strength for one so weak, she lifted a hand to his face and spoke quietly to him, her breath shallow and laboured.
“Find your way home, Rupert Giles.”
A feeling assailed him, cold icy fingers creeping from where her hand touched his face, sliding down his skin. He looked down at her and realised her eyes were fluttering closed.
He tried to speak but his mouth refused to work, no sound came from him. His vision blurred painfully and he shut his eyes against the kaleidoscope of colours before him.
Arwen Undómiel dropped her hand from his face, the life ebbing from her as she watched him dissolve before her. Her last breath had been spent in one final act. She had chosen mortality for her King but had not shed the inheritance of Galadriel and her ancestors. Rupert Giles vanished into a haze and then into nothingness and she lay for a moment in silence, staring up at the sky. So this is death, she thought, as her eyes shut and Arwen faded into darkness.
Giles opened his eyes, panting for breath. His chest ached and his stomach heaved. He fell to his knees, breathing deeply. He felt grass beneath his hands, damp grass and his gaze focused on the ground. Giles sat back on his heels. Lothlórien was gone and now, only trees grew up around him. He seemed to be in a clearing, and he stood slowly, wishing his head would stop pounding.
“Arwen?” he called but he knew there would be no answer. He was alone. He was unsure as to what Arwen had done but he had a quiet suspicion that she had fulfilled her debt to him. Her parting words to him rang in his mind and he realised what she had done.
There were lights in the distance and he headed towards them cautiously, the bright moonlight illuminating his path. Amazing to think that this land had once been the Golden Wood, the elven world. He did not recognise where he was but the path led to what seemed to be a car park and beyond that he saw the lights of some houses.
He sighed. Houses meant telephones. Telephones meant explanations. The harshness of his world came flooding back to him, the whining voices, the demands on his time, the immaturity of people. An overpowering urge to run back to the clearing and plead for return assailed him but he remembered Arwen, giving her last breath for him to return home. He could not insult her in that way. Taking a deep breath, he turned towards the houses and slowly began to walk towards them.
The owner of the house he had come to first had opened the door, taking him in surprise. To his amazement Giles had found himself to be in England, recognising the soft accent as Norfolk. A subtle enquiry had revealed that he had found his way to a village named Elveden. That had brought a smile to his face.
Buffy had sounded ecstatic to hear from him and had flooded his mind with news, none of which he had taken in other than the fact that Xander had managed to connect with Willow somehow. Someone from his coven had flown to Sunnydale and was taking care of her. Buffy wanted him home and he said he would be there as soon as he could.
He had one final thing to do. Rupert Giles ran his fingers over the cool stone that he had had carved for the Evenstar. It was blank but for her name, and he had placed it out of sight beneath a massive oak tree. He settled himself before it, and closed his eyes. The lament came easily, the words flowing into his mind and as he sang he remembered the first time he had seen Arwen with her King on their wedding day, and then the final look in her eyes as she breathed her last, using the remnants of her life force to send him home.
The evening has come
The sunlight is gone
The beauty of Arwen
Burns bright in my mind
And though the moon rises
And night paints the sky
The East is bare
The Queen is gone
Lothlórien stands empty
She is gone from this place
Her beloved has called her
To join with him there
She gave him her heart
And she gave him her soul
She is complete now
As she was once before
Blessed and Bright One
Queen of Gondor
You have touched my life
And I am proud
To call you friend