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Father and Daughter
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The last ship of the fleet was waiting for me to embark, its sails flapping in the strong wind, the rigging creaking and the hull scraping against the wood of the makeshift quay.

Still I stood on the jetty, reluctant to turn, to let the parting become finality.

We had talked before of her decision to remain, refusing the pardon of the Valar. She was proud, my daughter, too proud to return in failure, as she deemed it, too proud to humble herself. But I knew in my heart that it was not pride alone that kept her on this side of the Sea.

And I was desperate to try to sway her one last time, to make her see past pride and uncertainty of welcome.

“Will you not come home, Daughter? Will you not come back to your home and family? Will you not both accompany me?”

I could see my own anguish mirrored in her eyes, overflowing with the tears she shed freely now, my proud daughter.

In the shelter of her spouse’s arms she shook her head. “My home is here now, Atar. I will use all I have learned to help heal its wounds. We both will, together.”

Despairing, I looked into the eyes of her husband, and instead of the triumph I still half expected from this Sindarin prince, I saw only deep sympathy and compassion, mixed with the love and respect and yes, pride, he felt for his wife.

In acceptance, I bowed my head and let my shoulders slump.

So – I would return alone. Return to my beloved Eärwen to tell her that our sons had all died here in Middle-earth. Two killed in battle. Our eldest, slain in a dark pit for keeping his oath of friendship.

And our daughter had chosen to stay in lands ravaged by countless battles and the wrath of the Valar. To find a new life, a new purpose, a new home in desolate, empty lands, when the whole of Beleriand was slowly sinking into the deeps of the Sea.

She reached for me then, hugging me fiercely, burrowing her bright head on my chest, just as she he had always done as a child. Whispering words of love, pleading for my acceptance and forgiveness, begging me to make her mother understand. Looking to me to ease her pain, to make it right, as in her childhood long ago.

But she was no child now, and I could not help. I could only hold her tight, whispering words of love and acceptance, forgiveness and promise. Stroking her hair, her incomparable hair, illuminating my life in bygone days, to shine now for others.

At length, she mastered herself, loosening her grip but not wanting to let go.

I reached for my son-in-law then, drawing him into our embrace as well.

She had chosen a good husband; I could see this. He was intelligent, strong, compassionate, an able warrior and excellent leader. And above all he loved her with his whole heart.

I clasped his arm, and placed a final kiss on her brow. In love. In benediction. In farewell.

Then I turned and went up the gangway.

The last sight I had of her, as the ship cast loose its moorings and began to draw away from the quay, was her proud, upright form, once more in the shelter of her husband’s embrace; their hair, golden and silver, mingling in the breeze off the Sea.

My Artanis. But now, in truth, Galadriel.


Author’s Notes:

From the Silmarillion, The Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath:

”But the host of the Valar prepared for battle; and beneath their white banners marched the Vanyar, the people of Ingwë, and those also of the Noldor who never departed from Valinor, whose leader was Finarfin the son of Finwë. Few of the Teleri were willing to go forth to war, for they remembered the slaying at the Swan-haven, and the rape of their ships; but they hearkened to Elwing, who was the daughter of Dior Eluchíl and come of their own kindred, and they sent mariners enough to sail the ships that bore the host of Valinor east over the sea.”

Two of my drabbles are associated with this vignette:

Saying Farewell

A Long-expected Reunion


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