Our darling baby boys are coming!
My heart soars with joy to discern the speck on the horizon, knowing our sons are on board. I dance around my beloved husband.
"Best not to call them that to their faces, my dear... I am sure they feel they have outgrown it. Quite rightly." Elrond delivers his admonition in his sternest voice — but he only calls me "dear" when he is teasing....
And, in his own quiet way, he acts as giddy as I feel. Though he clasps his hands behind his back, he is bouncing on the balls of his feet.
Inhaling deeply, I drink in the fresher airs here, the brighter sun, purer waters... even the shrieking seamews sound sweeter.
We tack into the harbor. The famed Mindon Fána of Avallónë beckons from the strand; elvensong with a familiar Falathrim lilt drifts towards us.
As soon as they espy both Elrond and Celebrían from the bow, Elrond's sons place their hands on their hearts in relieved greeting, and one wraps his arm around his brother's shoulders. Now they stare intently, as if afraid to blink lest their parents disappear.
For once, I will witness the reunions I have made possible.
The gathering ashore is small but expectant. Glad greetings fly to the handfuls of passengers, few with dry eyes, pressed to the rails.
A silver-tressed knot of Teleri sings of homecoming.... Círdan will be last to leave his ship; may he find welcome befitting his long sacrifice!
But a new song begins, honouring the Mariner who so faithfully shepherded his folk to the Straight Road for Ages beyond count.
Galadriel stands aloof, looking down; Celeborn tarries belowdecks, out of sight.
Elrond grips Celebrían's hand. She bites her lower lip, cheeks wet, as she gazes upwards at her sons' radiant faces.
She is whole again!
Mother's skin glows, silver hair glistening, eyes sparkling — and not just with unshed tears — and her spirit again shines forth....
I want to laugh, shout, and cry all at once!
Smiling, she raises her hand to caress my brow, and cups my cheek. I lean into her touch. "You are too thin, my son," she pronounces.
Once I would have shrugged off such maternal concern as undignified for a warrior... but now, I grin like a madman.
Hugging her without restraint, without fear of fragility, I lift her and twirl her around me.
And she giggles!
"I missed you, Father!"
Strong hands hold me at arm's length while his practiced eye assesses my condition, as if I had just returned from extended patrol.
Then a broad smile threatens to split his face — one no longer gaunt. We embrace; I feel him sharing his strength with me, as only a great healer can.
"Your mother is well, my son... as am I." He knows to answer the questions I could not ask aloud.
I blink. Hard.
The sun shines unnaturally brightly here... but with both our parents healed, perhaps these lands could come to feel like home....
"My lady." I offer Galadriel a hand up the gangway... hers trembles; Círdan leads her below.
Scanning the crowd, I look for family or household members released from Mandos, or a certain forthright Gondolithrim maiden, whose fate I never learned. No one awaits me.
But now I have time to seek them....
Celebrían and Elrond cling to their sons, rejoicing in the familial embrace, tears flowing unashamedly. My heart overflows to see them both hale, and all together again — save Arwen.
Spotting me, Elrond pulls me into the huddle.
"Thank you, old friend," he rasps, "for seeing our sons home."