Main Page ~*~*~
'A Time to Sail'
A Time to Sail
On a small, shale beach not far from the guarded harbour at Mithlond,
known as the Grey Havens, three elves waited sombrely, the chill
wind tugging at their hair and clothing. The beach lay close to the
point where departing ships turned away from the coastline into the
channel that would take them out to sea on the first stage of the
perilous journey into the uttermost West. They were watching just
such a vessel now, moving out from the anchorage, her cream sails
pale against a cloud-grey sky.
Even to a casual glance it was clear the three were siblings: male
twins, mirror images each of the other, and a girl with the same
dark hair and grey eyes. One of the boys looked to have been crying,
but the girl stood straight and tall, her face set in lines of firm
control. Had she known it, at that moment she bore a more than
passing resemblance to her grandmother, the Lady of the Golden Wood,
the last of the Noldor leadership still in exile on the eastern
A watcher would have seen the bushes behind them rustle as they were
joined by another elf, one who on this day wore age like a cloak
over the eternal youth of the Eldar. He shared their colouring and
moved with the same easy grace, but had about him a hint also of the
exotic, being more solidly built, with a mouth more sensual, eyes
less slanted, ears that were rounded at the tips, not elegantly
They made space for him in silence, and he put his arm around the
girl's shoulders and rested a hand lightly on the arm of the twin
whose face bore the marks of tears.
"Did it all go - all right?" the twin with the too-bright dry eyes
asked him as they watched the ship swing further away from land.
He nodded, his pewter eyes on the gulls that flew in the wake of the
ship, hopeful for scraps or for its passage to send fish to the
surface. He had seen these birds as the messengers of change all his
life, but never more so than now. "She couldn't manage the gangplank
up to the boat," he replied. "She was too weak. Glorfindel carried
her aboard. I would have but - his touch is the only one from which
she never shrinks. It was best."
"Because he was born in the west and has tasted death," his daughter
explained quietly. She had said this or something like it before,
several times. It was as though hearing the shape of the thought
made it easier to accept that her mother drew back from her touch
just as she did from all others save the quiet-spoken hero from
beyond the sea.
"Was Grandfather all right?" Elladan asked, concerned. This morning
at the house had been the first time he had ever seen his
grandfather anything other than calm and at one with his
Elrond nodded swiftly. "It was hard for him, having to say goodbye
alone with your grandmother unable to leave Lorien. I wish for his
sake she had been more aware of him."
He spoke calmly, but inside he seethed helplessly. He would have
liked her more aware of any number of things: her children's pain at
dealing with the shell of their once-vibrant mother, a pain that had
driven them to watch her sail from the beach instead of the quay,
Glorfindel's tears, for she had been like a younger sister to this
friend of her mother’s youth, and his own desperate longing for one
last gleam of life from eyes that had been dead and inward looking
for a year, for one more smile.
This last thought brought a familiar stab of guilt at his perceived
selfishness. He had not owned the skill to heal her mind, and her
mind had weakened her body in its turn until it became clear her
only chance of survival was this desperate journey to Aman in the
hope that healing would be possible for her there. It was outside of
the sailing season, but she was royal, a great-granddaughter of
Finwe, and there had been no need for Galadriel to speak twice.
Spring would have been too late.
The ship was moving away from them now, and his son shook with
suppressed tears. Elrond drew him closer, rested a cheek against his
hair. If he closed his eyes he could almost imagine it was
Celebrķan’s, the same smooth softness, just dark where hers was
fair. Out the corner of his eye he saw Arwen take Elrohir’s hand,
making him physically part of the circle. Their lives had changed
irrevocably that day a year ago when the only surviving guard had
staggered back to Imladris seeking help for his lady, taken by the
servants of evil, and this was the result, a family of four where
once there had been five.
Change and loss, he thought, watching the ship gain speed as it
turned into the wind. In truth, his Celebrķan had been lost to him
for a year now, but while she had remained there had still been
hope. Now she was leaving, as others had left him before, as
instinct told him others would leave in the future. Elrond drew in a
deep breath and held his children. Not these. His young he would
keep close and safe. They at least would never be lost.