“Are you restless?” a familiar voice asked in Westron as Elrond came forth from his dwelling, leaned on a railing, and looked at the glory of Anor rising in the East.
Elrond turned, startled by the language and the voice, and both surprised and amused at the form he saw sitting on a nearby bench. He examined it closely. “You need only the pipe,” he commented. “Is the Lady Livwen giving a Shire tea that you appear thus? It is very, very long since I last saw Gandalf the White, much less Gandalf the Grey.”
“No,” the Wizard said as he looked down at grey robes and silver scarf, “no tea. But I felt it heartily fitting.” He sighed. “Time does not run here as it does in the mortal lands, perhaps, but all in Arda stands beneath it in the end, and today the time there intersects with that here.” His face was solemn.
Elrond looked down. “Then he has chosen today indeed?”
“Yes, around midday in Minas Anor.”
Elrond’s eyes closed, and his jaw clenched with grief. “Alas for our daughter, for the Gift of Iluvatar will look this day more like Doom to her, I fear.” He bowed his head and offered a silent plea for comfort for her and his sons, who still remained in Middle Earth, reluctant for some reason to follow after their parents. Exactly why the Valar had lifted the limit for their choice from the time of his own he did not know, but he had thought at the time perhaps this day and its aftermath were part of the reason for this decision. Finally he spoke. “I have seen him in my own dreams, Mithrandir. I have stood side by side with his father Arathorn, looking down on him lying in his bed beside Arwen, and have seen him looking back with us with recognition and love. I have seen that his heart has finally begun to fail, the joints to suddenly seize, and that he knows precisely what the signs mean.”
“You have been granted sight of Arathorn? And to stand by him? An honor for both of you.”
Movement from within gave news of the approach of Celebrían. She came out to join her husband, saw the form the Maia Olórin had chosen for the day, and paled. “Our daughter?” she asked, taking her husband’s arm and holding it close.
The form of Gandalf the Grey bowed before her. “She is well enough, but is even now bereft, even now anticipating the separation with horror. Her brothers are with her and will remain with her, but that will not ease the grief, I fear.”
The Elven lady nodded, her face again filled with the pain of loss. “She was born with a heart to be given wholly, and when he leaves her he will bear it with him.” She shook her head, her eyes closed with sorrow. “I only pray she does not linger long.”
The glory of the East was enhanced by the arrival of other forms, as Celeborn and Galadriel came to stand below the porch on which their daughter and her husband leaned with Gandalf. Celeborn looked at his daughter with compassion as his wife surveyed the Maia with a level of amusement in her gaze. “I clothed you better than this when you returned, Olórin. I’d not thought to see these robes again.”
Gandalf straightened. “This was how he saw me most of his life, my Lady. He would not begrudge me my nostalgia, nor would he see disrespect in this guise.”
Her smile grew more solemn, then faded. “No, the husband of our granddaughter would honor it as you say, and accept the tribute of respect you offer.”
“Their son will be worthy of much honor, and their daughters are known and will continue to be known for their knowledge, wisdom, gentleness, compassion, and beauty. Idril favors you, by the way.”
She smiled. “And Melian?”
“She is her own being, favoring all and none at the same time. She is wondrous fair, they say, although her daughter Arien is her grandmother in gold rather than russets.”
“There is no question that he is descended directly from the sons of Eärendil--and from Aragorn.”
Elrond straightened, nodded.
Celeborn and Galadriel climbed the stair to stand by their daughter and her husband, and all looked to the East, standing their own vigil. At last they felt it as another link in the chains of their loves broke, felt a breath far away still, and finally perceived the approach of a shining form, controlled and disciplined in death as it had been in life, full of the Joy of its sudden freedom. And they saw it pause briefly to look on them with honor and recognition--and love--ere it passed on, on to the uttermost West. They bowed at its passing, then looked East again, East with concern for the one who lingered.
“May she not linger long,” Elrond prayed.