Night of 7-8 April 2510
At ease within the vigilant borders of Lórien, I recline on Amroth's talan, gazing skywards... seeking solace in the glory of a moonless night.
In Imladris, mountains hem the heavens, but here, their lofty span stretches without bounds.
Elbereth's gems spill in careless profusion over the sooty velvet dome. Here glitters a figure from legend, there a smudge glows... while across the expanse sweeps an adamantine pathway, sprinkled with sapphire, ruby, and citrine, leading past the horizon to ends beyond our ken.
Whither my own path? I could not yet bear to follow Mother's sundering road, but will I someday?
"May I join you, brother?"
"Your company would be welcome, brother."
The night-breeze whispers among many leaves, caressing me as I climb the long ladder. At the top, I spread my bedroll on the open platform, beside Elladan.
As children, we often sought this talan for its commanding view, but tonight, we seek seclusion — respite from compassionate but intrusive eyes.
"Arwen?" he inquires.
"Speaking with Grandmother."
"Good. She has been too quiet since...." He trails off, reluctant to reveal his troubled thoughts yet.
"Unable to sleep?"
He grunts. I need not ask why; nightmares of noisome Orc-dens plague us both.
Finally, Elladan asks, "Do you regret not sailing with Mother?"
"I worry she will be lonely. But when I offered to accompany her, she became distraught...."
He sighs. "She told me that foremost we must be not sons, but warriors, opposed to the gathering Darkness."
A wood owl glides by an arm-span above, her silhouette a dusky contrast to the brilliant stars. Neither call nor wingflap mars the deadly silence of her pursuit.
"For now, brother, we become hunters, no less than that owl. If her prey cease to be abundant, she will seek territory elsewhere... and so shall we."
"Remember when Grandfather first brought us here to sleep under the stars?"
"Aye!" Elrohir smiles. "We were thrilled to show off what Father had been teaching us! We tried to outdo each other: identifying constellations, reciting their legends, chattering on about telling time and seasons and the winding trails of the Wanderers.... And Grandfather listened so patiently!"
"Indeed! But then he spun fascinating tales of his own life under starlight in Doriath, before the onset of Ithil's glow and Anor's heat.
"By the end of that night, we revered the undivided heavens, even as the Elves who awakened at Cuiviénen."
"I might have been content to live forever under starglow," Elladan murmurs.
"Not I! Much as I cherish the night, I could never forgo the blaze of day....
"After an icy bathe in a mountain brook, what could bring more bliss than Arien's languid heat kissing my bare skin from head to toe, loosening my limbs and quickening my heart?"
He glances sideways, eyebrow quirking. "Have you declared your romantic inclinations to the maiden in question?"
"Nay, brother! I am far too wise to provoke flaming Maiar, be they Balrog or no."
In truth, Elladan's chuckle also warms my heart.
"Remember when Mother took us to the upper meadow to see stars pouring from the Silver Goblet? Flaming arrows streaked across the sky... some rivalling Eärendil's ship...."
"Yes! The brightest cast shadows that weaved about us, like crebain drunk on fermented holly berries in Eregion."
"When Father joined us, he started lecturing about seasonal star cascades...."
"And Mother hushed him, so we could sing under the stars together. Then she related the Silvan tradition that children begotten under Elbereth's starfalls are blessed by the Lady."
"Before leading him away...."
Elrohir grins. "Does our sister know she has the Star-queen's favour?"
"Stars remind me of Grandmother's tale of jewels strewn along the strand at Alqualondë...."
"Will Mother meet her Telerin kin there, I wonder?"
"Eventually, if... when she recovers. Grandmother wrote Finarfin and Eärwen a letter, entrusting Mother to her grandparents' healing care.
"I hope she will feel at ease... family or not, they are strangers."
"Their only grandchild, with all their children gone? They will welcome her warmly, brother!
"Perhaps even now she watches the stars, thinking of us...."
Honouring her parting wish, we sing paeans to the Lady Star-kindler... till the foredawn glow steals the splendour of her gifts.
Intent on returning to my lady, I mount the stairs, surrounded by sad but sweet Elven song.
"They are on Cerin Amroth, praising Elbereth."
Relieved by the tidings, Arwen bids us good evening.
Galadriel smiles. "You delighted in teaching them the star-songs of our people when they were small."
"Yes! They were so eager to learn... I scolded Elrond for neglecting their education about the Sindar and Silvan."
We leave unsaid that such familiar teasing now seems a thing of the past: when we took leave from Imladris, Elrond's eyes were shadowed... as if they would never again know joy.