Disclaimer - BtVS belongs to Joss Whedon and The Lord of the Rings and all its characters belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien.
They call her Anoriel, but Arwen will always call her Nana. She is her father’s daughter, so deep down she knows that this woman is different, that she does not remember her nor her brothers nor her father. But though the rest of her family focuses on the differences between Celebrían and Anoriel, Arwen knows the two are more similar than anyone realizes.
Her brothers have always been horrible at keeping secrets, so when they returned from Lothlórien years ago they shared with her what happened with the woman who is Celebrían but isn’t. They told her how after that skirmish with the yrch Anoriel sat the two down and told them about her life in the other world. Though Elladan and Elrohir were dismayed to learn that she lived a completely different life, one that held no memories of them, Arwen was just glad to hear that even if their mother was reborn with no prior memories, even if she lived a completely different life with different people, at least she was living
More than that, Anoriel was still fiercely protecting her family, even if she didn’t view them that way. That woman didn’t have to act like Celebrían just to save them from feeling her loss, but she did. She didn’t have to save her brothers from the yrch or care what her father might feel of this change, but she did. She puts others’ needs ahead of her own, a trait or perhaps a flaw, shared by Celebrían. Yet, her brothers and father seem not to notice this, and it’s causing each of them heartache, particularly since word traveled from Lothlórien of the betrothal of Anoriel and Aragorn.
She is sympathetic to Aragorn. After all, he had no knowledge of Anoriel’s past as Celebrían, and perhaps that is best, but she knows her father feels betrayed by the action. Aragorn was his foster son, the boy he helped raise, so to have this man bind himself to the person that was once bound to Elrond, makes his visit to Imladris especially awkward.
He is here on important business though, having escorted the hobbits and the One Ring they brought with them. Soon, there will be a council to discuss what to do with the ring, but for now she tracks Aragorn in their library, reading a book in a secluded alcove. He looks up at the soft clacking of her shoes and asks, “My lady, is there something you need?”
She remembers when they last met, when he looked at her and called her Lúthien Tinúviel, the most beautiful elf known. He doesn’t look at her like that now. “Do you mind if I join you?”
He motions to the plush seat across from him and she takes it. Arwen takes a moment to study him, notes how much he has matured since last time. She also notices the lack of his ring. “I wanted to ask you about Anoriel. How is she?”
His whole face brightens, a smile sliding onto his lips. “She is well.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” she says. She thinks about her father and brothers, how they have all avoided Aragorn since he arrived, their eyes accusatory from a distance. Her lithe fingers fidget with her dress. “I apologize for the way my family is treating you.” Her silver eyes meet his own. “It is not your fault for what has happened.”
He gives her a wry smirk. “We both know there is never logic when it comes to those we love.”
She returns a small smile. “True.” She personally knows how quickly Aragorn falls in love, so it’s only natural that she ask, “And do you truly love her?”
His face turns somber as he pierces her with his grey gaze. “I cannot imagine life without her by my side. She will be my queen.”
She is happy yet a little taken aback by the strength in his words. This is not the insecure man that approached her before, but someone who will one day be a strong king. Arwen wonders if that change was because of her mother. “Please, tell me more about her.”
And he does. He tells Arwen about her strength and her kindness, how he was immediately besotted with her at first glance. He tells her they danced on Cerin Amroth in the springtime while the golden mallorn leaves rained upon them. He shares how the two fought yrch together and how the Lothlórien elves commented how well they moved together in battle. When he finally presented her with The Ring of Barahir, he says she was at first frightened. That she did not believe she could be queen until he sat her down and told her his own fears and worries, saying that together they can overcome them, how nothing can beat them when they’re near each other.
He tells Arwen that her true name is Buffy.
“Buff-ee,” she sounds out, “Interesting.” She can’t help but think how much these stories remind her of Celebrían, and it only strengthens her resolve. If her mother is going to remarry into her new race, then she wants to be sure that it will be a fortuitous one. While it is something she has been curious about, deep down she just wants to make sure there are no doubts. “Tell me, if you had known beforehand about her true past, would it have changed things?”
His eyes turn hazy for a moment, lost in thought. “I’d like to say I would be noble. That I would take into account Elrond, you, and your brothers and how this would affect you all.” He turns back to her, his voice sure and clear. “And I would indeed think about it, but it would not keep me away. It would not make me want her any less.”
She can tell Aragorn is steeling himself for her displeasure at this, but instead Arwen smiles and says, “Good.”
Her father does not want her at the council meeting, tells her it is not her burden, but she ends up putting her foot down and telling him that the fate of Middle Earth is most certainly her concern and that she will be there, with or without his permission. Not even Lord Elrond can argue with that.
All throughout, the friction between Aragorn and her family is palpable, so much so that she swears even the man from Gondor notices the tension. When Aragorn pledges himself to help the hobbit take the ring to Mordor, she sees the way her father’s hands grip the arms of his chair so tight his knuckles whiten. As he dubs them the Fellowship of the Ring, Elrond avoids Aragorn’s eyes.
After, when Elrond escapes to his office, Arwen follows with anger behind her. “Why do you torment him so? He has done nothing wrong!” They can hear birds singing outside and feel the warm sun drifting in through the windows. This room is a place for deep thinking, for settling conflicts. Arwen hopes she can settle one here.
Elrond sits down, places his elbows on the table, and steeples his fingers. His sigh is loud in the room. “He has plighted his troth to the woman who is. . . was
. . . my wife. That is not an easy thing to overlook.”
She strides to his side and taking his hands into her own she kneels before him. “But he makes her happy, Ada. Do you not want her to be happy?”
His hands tighten in her grasp. His eyes, so similar to her own, hold nothing but sorrow. “It is just hard, iell nin. All of this. . . it is just hard.”
She does not like the sadness in her father’s eyes, can’t bear to even look at it. She leans forward, wrapping her arms around his middle, burying her face deep in his clothes. “I know, Ada.” She feels him hug her back, his hands stroking her hair like she was a small child again. “I know.”
Arwen does not attempt to sway Elrond again. Her family continues to avoid Aragorn until it is time for the Fellowship to depart. The whole of Imladris is there, including its Lord and his children. She listens beside her father as he wishes them well, tells them that the blessings of all Free Folk are with them and then the Fellowship turns to go.
Elrond watches the Company with stern brows and a downturned mouth, and then to Arwen’s surprise he softly calls out, “Aragorn, hold a moment.”
Arwen is not the only one surprised. Aragorn and her brothers both appear shocked as Lord Elrond stops in front of him. He then firmly grasps Aragorn’s shoulder, his gaze probing. It is only because she is so close that she can hear her father whisper, “Take care of yourself, so that you can take care of her.”
Aragorn nods, his eyes just as serious. “I will.”
The two separate, Aragorn to his quest and Elrond to his family. They watch the group leave, but Arwen keeps her sight on Aragorn, and wishes for his safe return if only for her mother. She intertwines her fingers into her father’s and Elladan’s, and Elrond does the same to Elrohir. As they watch the man who will be marrying the woman who helped shaped their lives, they hold on tight to each other.