Not To Hold

by Kandadze

Part 5: Cuin*

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Everything you hold so dear will disappear one day. No matter how hard you try not to, you will have to loosen your grip eventually. But if you turn your palms up, so your hands become open as the sky - your treasures will stay with you freely, safe in a loose embrace of the wind.

I kiss her eyelids, brushing away the diamonds sparkling on the raven lashes. I place a kiss in the middle of each silken palm.

"Aa' menle nauva calen ar' ta hwesta e' ale'quenle..."**

Then she is gone.

King Elessar, maybe the first thing about the mortal life you should have told her is that for us each night is an end, and each day - a new beginning, and everyday we renew our vows to the world. So now, as she has made hers to you, please hear me, even though you may despise me, even though you may fear that every time you look into her eyes there I too will be.

When you saw her for the first time, was it not her beauty that drew you to her? You know that beauty is useless, if there are no virtues, no righteousness, no sharp mind behind it. Therefore love her not for her beauty, merely for the sparkle in her eyes when she tells you she loves you, merely for your wish that the day would never come when she covers you with the midnight cloak of her hair...

Love her not as a symbol of the long years of waiting and yearning, not as a prize you have finally collected for your great deeds. Love her for herself. Love her for the way she tilts her head while listening to your words as if you were the centre of her world. Love her for the way she looks at you, every time with the same curiosity and receptiveness as if it was the first. Love her for the way she touches you, every time with the same awe and gentleness as if it was the first... Love her for her smile, her tears, her wisdom and courage, her fears and doubts. Love her for herself... Promise me you will be there when she needs you. Promise me this.

***

As Queen of Elves and Men she dwelt with Aragorn for six-score years in great glory and bliss; yet at last he felt the approach of old age and knew that the span of his life-days was drawing to an end, long though it had been. Then Aragorn said to Arwen: "At last, Lady Evenstar, fairest in this world, and most be-loved, my world is fading. Lo! we have gathered, and we have spent, and now the time of payment draws near."

Arwen knew well what he intended, and long had foreseen it; nonetheless she was overborne by her grief. "Would you then, lord, before your time leave your people that live by your word?" she said. "Not before my time," he answered. "For if I will not go now, then I must soon go perforce. And Eldarion our son is a man full-ripe for kingship."

Then going to the House of the Kings in the Silent Street, Aragorn laid him down on the long bed that had been prepared for him. There he said farewell to Eldarion, and gave into his hands the winged crown of Gondor and the sceptre of Arnor, and then all left him save Arwen, and she stood alone by his bed. And for all her wisdom and lineage she could not forbear to plead with him to stay yet for a while. She was not yet weary of her days, and thus she tasted the bitterness of the mortality that she had taken upon her.

"(...) In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory, Farewell!" "Estel, Estel!" she cried, and with that even as he took her hand and kissed it, he fell into sleep. (...) And long there he lay, an image of the splendour of the Kings of Men in glory undimmed before the breaking of the world.

But Arwen went forth from the House, and the light of her eyes was quenched, and it seemed to her people that she had become cold and grey as nightfall in winter that comes without a star. 1

The end

Author's note: kudos to zasjah, for everything

* Sindarin: "alive"
** Quenya: "May thy paths be green and the breeze on thy back"
1 from J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen", Appendix 1, RotK

 

Chapter 4