All's Right With The World
Celebrian watched from the balcony, comfortable in her husband’s embrace, as her sons tested Anariel’s skills. Blessed as she had been with the gifts of the Slayer, one would barely notice that her archery was not quite that of an elleth her age- although as far as Celebrian knew, she had never held a proper bow before. Looking at her now, Elladan correcting her stance ever so subtly while Elrohir encouraged her, Celebrian could almost pretend that the years away had never happened. All was as it should be- well, almost.
She had yet to see her eldest daughter. Arwen, it transpired, was in the Golden Wood visiting her grandparents- though her visit would be cut short now that Celebrian’s mother was aware of her daughter’s return. Lothlorien would feast as joyously as Imladris tonight, and then the Evenstar would bid Celeborn and Galadriel farewell, returning to her father’s house to greet her mother and sisters.
In their elder sister’s absence, what seemed like all the ellith in Imladris had fussed over both girls, washing them, dressing them, fixing their hair in the style of the Eldar rather than that of the Men of the other world they had lived in, and settling them in their rooms. Willow, Tara, and Anya all came in for their share of the fuss as well.
The twins had regarded the oncoming tide of female elfdom for all of two seconds before they whisked Xander away to a safe distance, in this case the room they’d appropriated for him. Celebrian was sure they would at some point show him the bathing pools and offer him the chance to try elven garb if he desired. Before she had left them, she’d seen them curiously watching the lone male in their mother’s party unpack- if they didn’t discover it for themselves, she meant to drop a hint to them about a certain small box, and how its content might be improved upon.
With all her children occupied, that had left her free to enjoy a more private reunion with her husband. Elrond, despite his confusion at welcoming back two daughters instead of one, was happy beyond words to see them returned safely to their rightful home. It was only now, after expressing their joy in a more physical way, that they got around to words.
“How long has it been?” she asked softly.
“Nearly three yeni,” Elrond replied, holding her still as though he feared to let go even for an instant. “We thought you dead. Our sons have slain many yrch to avenge you and their small sister.”
“Was it that long for you also?”
Celebrian smiled, remembering how insightful her husband could be.
“No. Time ran… differently for us. It was not so long, only a handful of loa. Though it seemed long, for we lived as Edain. Our memories were gone, so we knew no different. And for Anariel, young as she was, there was so little to remember.”
She both heard and felt his sharp intake of breath as he understood she meant that they had lived as mortals, unaware of who they were.
“And Tindomiel? How do we come to have a second daughter?” Elrond asked carefully.
“She was sent to us by the Valar, my love,” Celebrian replied. “With her came the power to return, for otherwise I know not how we might have travelled between worlds. That gift is hers alone- and it is well she was sent to us. An agent of Morgoth sought to bend her power to dark ends. Had we not been able to flee, both our daughters might have been killed.”
Her husband stiffened reflexively at the mention of the greatest of all foes of men and elves. She also felt his horror at the thought that his daughters might have truly died, for not knowing the choice offered them, they would have accepted the Gift.
“She brought us safely home, where that enemy cannot follow, and I know she will come to no harm here with her own people. Though all here is new to her, except for our companions. Our daughters’ sworn sisters and brother accompanied us, for they would not let us go into an unknown world alone.”
She felt the approval radiating from Elrond, and knew that for that, her husband and those who looked to him would honor the children for the rest of their days.
“What else has passed while we were away, husband?”
“No great events to speak of,” he said. “The dwarves of Thrain took Erebor and lost it again to the worm Smaug. The White Tower was rebuilt in Gondor, but the Tree has died. With the Steward's leave, Curunir took Orthanc for his abode. Mithrandir has discovered that the Necromancer is indeed Sauron, and he has made his stronghold in Dol Guldur. Mithrandir counsels that we move against him, yet Curunir urges patience. For the rest, men and dwarves were born and died. Lothlorien is much as it ever was, but Thranduil and his people are sorely pressed and must be cautious when they venture beyond their own halls.”
“The world is not changed so very much, then,” Celebrian said, not sure if she was relieved or disappointed.
“It is a better world tonight than it was yesterday,” her husband murmured into her hair, as their children’s laughter rang out in the courtyard below.