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“This is too hard, Nana!”

Celebrían and Galadriel looked up from their own embroidery at Arwen’s exclamation.

“What is too hard?” Celebrían inquired. She hid the smile that threatened as she watched her young daughter try desperately to pull a strand of silver thread through the black cloth she was holding.

“This… this star!” Arwen exclaimed as the thread finally came loose and slid through the cloth. She laid the cloth down on her lap with a frustrated sigh. “And-and I keep poking my fingers, too.” Arwen’s grey eyes pooled with tears as she held up her fingers as if her naneth and daernaneth could see the small pinpricks.

Celebrían and Galadriel exchanged knowing glances as Celebrían got up and went to join Arwen on the small bench where she was sitting with all of her threads and needles scattered about her.

Galadriel watched the two fondly as her daughter once again patiently showed Arwen how to embroider a star. A soft smile crossed her lips as she thought back to when she had taught Celebrían embroidery. Celebrían had enjoyed it and it had come very easy to her. Perhaps she enjoyed it more than Arwen seemed to because Celebrían had not had two older brothers to look up to and whom she wanted to emulate.

Galadriel’s attention wandered as she looked to the beauty surrounding her. It was not Lothlórien with its lovely mellyrn trees, but Imladris had a beauty all its own. From the wonderful flower gardens, such as the rose garden they were sitting in, to the ever present sound of water, to the high cliffs that surrounded Imladris. The way the sunlight and shadows danced along those cliffs was something that Galadriel never got tired of watching. Her attention was drawn back to the others at the sound of Arwen’s voice.

“Isn’t there an easier way to do this? Some faster way to learn?”

Arwen’s words struck some deep chord in Galadriel and a picture flashed through her mind of an adult Arwen far in the future. She was, once again, embroidering something on black cloth though it appeared to be much larger… it draped over Arwen’s lap and trailed onto the floor. Galadriel could not see what design was on the cloth but it was obviously a standard of some type.

The scene passed before her eyes so quickly that Galadriel was able to respond to Arwen’s questions before Celebrían could speak. “There are no shortcuts to learning anything, Arwen. Not embroidery, not using a bow, not even riding a horse. All are things you must work at if you expect to do them well.”

“I do not think I will ever do well at making stars,” Arwen declared frowning down at the work she had done that afternoon.

“Yes, you will, Arwen,” Celebrían said slipping her arm around her daughter’s shoulder and pulling her closer. “Not today, perhaps, but with practice you will make them very well, and then a tree or a flower might seem difficult but you will eventually make those well, too. It will happen with time and practice,” she gave her daughter a gentle smile before kissing her lightly on her forehead.

Arwen looked down at the black cloth with doubt clearly written on her face. With one last glance at her naneth and daernaneth Arwen picked up her needle and plunged it into the cloth with her brow furrowed in concentration as she attempted once again to embroider a star.



‘And Aragorn said to Halbarad: “What is that you bear, Kinsman?” For he saw that instead of a spear he bore a tall staff, as it were a standard, but it was close-furled in a black cloth bound about with many thongs.
“It is a gift that I bring you from the Lady of Rivendell,” answered Halbarad. “She wrought it in secret, and long was the making.” (pg. 758 Return of the King, Houghton Mifflin Company 1966 edition)

‘… upon the foremost ship a great standard broke, and the wind displayed it as she turned towards the Harlond. There flowered a White Tree, and that was for Gondor; but Seven Stars were about it, and a high crown above it, the signs of Elendil that no lord had borne for years beyond count. And the stars flamed in the sunlight, for they were wrought of gems by Arwen daughter of Elrond; and the crown was bright in the morning, for it was wrought of mithril and gold.’ (pg. 829 Return of the King, Houghton Mifflin Company 1966 edition.)

Written for the Middle-earth Express Challenge on the AragornAngst board - Prompt #18, 'Shortcut'.


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