"Welcome, my dear Artanis! I am pleased Olórin brought you to see me."
Thin and careworn, she sips her tea, struggling to put words to her woes.
Gradually, I coax the tale of her departure from Endor: the weakness that whelmed her at the Ring's demise, draining her resistance to sea-longing; the reluctance to sail, knowing duty still bound her beloved to the land of his birth.
She seems loath to say aught of this Celeborn; their parting yet pains her deeply.
Hope, I may help her find — but the grief buried at her core must first be laid bare.
"Can you not speak of your sorrows with your family?"
"I often seek refuge in the home of my daughter Celebrían, who understands the burden of fighting Darkness through long ages... and Elrond knows the added weariness of bearing a Ring of Power.
"But how could I complain to them of feeling diminished without Celeborn? I do not wish to remind them of those whom they, too, miss. Their daughter is forever lost to them, and they know not whether their sons, also, will make the choice of Lúthien.
"I will not mar their glad reunion with my growing despair."
My wisest disciple, Olórin, requested assistance when Celebrían sought his aid for her mother. It is clear why they thought it needful: since her arrival in the Blessed Lands, innate strength and pride alone have sustained her — and those now waver.
Artanis is on the brink of fading.
With neither husband nor realm to lavish care upon, she feels unrooted.
She has matured far beyond the idealistic child who chose exile!
"Your concern for Celebrían and Elrond is admirable, Artanis. Yet do not dismiss your own griefs as less than theirs!
"Might you perhaps seek out your parents for comfort?"
"At times I dwell in my father's halls.
"I had hoped to serve him as counsellor, or perhaps regent during his rare absences from Tirion. Yet Finrod, as heir, fulfils those roles since his return from Mandos. He was, after all, King in Nargothrond, whereas Celeborn and I rejected such titles.
"So Father deems me naught but duteous daughter, content to grace his court, ever polite and mindful of protocol. And I must endure simple-minded courtiers seeking to curry his favor by flattering his only daughter."
I barely suppress my smile, having soothed some who ran afoul of her temper.
"Were there no fawning courtiers in Endor?"
"Few," Artanis replies. "We were beset by Melkor's minions. Those who cultivated talents to protect and enrich our lives — warriors, artists, musicians, loremasters — were highly regarded and rewarded. But neither Elwë, Ereinion, nor my kinsmen tolerated those who idled away time manoeuvring for personal gain.
"And Celeborn never suffered fools gladly. He had a way of... discouraging servile behavior."
A fond smile quirks her lips, even as her eyes well.
I embrace her. "You miss him."
Too choked to speak, she nods... until the first of many sobs wrenches itself from her heart.