I Want to Live Again
by Sister Sárie

Rivendell, spring of year 2612 T.A.

Elrond leaned over the elegantly carved railing of the balcony, and stretched his neck. From here he could just make out the path coming from the Ford. The waterfalls of Bruinen foamed, carrying the waters of the melting snows from the mountains, only starting their long journey towards the sea.

Elrond loved spring. It was the time of new beginnings. The whole valley seemed to be buzzing with energy, creating new life to the bare ground. Elrond stood up straight again, and closed his eyes. He could feel the force of nature flow around him, through him, hold him as an organic part of the valley, and the world. He sighed.

It had been 112 years since he stood on the docks at the Grey Havens, staring at the white ship that slowly turned into a white dot, before vanishing entirely. He had waited for it to turn around. He had known it would not do that, but in his heart he had been hoping for it so badly he half expected it to happen for real. Once the ship had disappeared, it had taken all his strength to keep him from jumping into the water and going after it, even if he would have had to swim all the way to Valinor.

They had spoken about it with great length, Celebrían and he. She had wanted him to go with her, desperately, but she was wise enough to know why it could not happen. She was very wise indeed, and even though in her sad state she was unable to offer much comfort to her husband, she had managed to reason with him. She had to go, and he had to stay; Middle-Earth needed him still. Elrond’s life had been filled with selfless actions, but this one was the hardest. How much more could the Valar possibly ask from him? Did they even have the right to ask this? It was Celebrían herself who had convinced him to stay, assuring they would meet again. She had made him swear he would not give into the gloom, that he would continue living. He had promised that to her without a moment’s hesitation, like he always did everything to her. Only later he had realized how big a promise it was.

And he had failed her.

Sure, he was still alive, but he had not been really living. It took him 112 years to even realize that. What he had really been doing was waiting. Moving mechanically through his everyday life, and all the time just waiting for the day he would finally be able to step on the deck of the white ship himself. Sure, he had offered comfort to his children, and solved the everyday problems of his realm, but deep inside him was always the waiting.

The realization had startled him. At first it had made him despair, he had let down his beloved Celebrían! But slowly, during the long winter that was now behind, he had also learned that acknowledging the problem was the first step of healing. It dawned to him that the reason why he had even noticed his current state was that he was recovering. He was tired of waiting. Celebrían had wanted him to live, and he was allowed to do so without guilt. Every time during these long years, when he had had a moment of happiness, the guilt had landed on him. How could he enjoy anything without Celebrían? But now he knew the problem was only in his own mind, not Celebrían’s. She had made her choice. She had told him to live. And for the first time in over a century, he wanted to live.

A gentle breeze brushed his hair, and he opened his eyes again. He felt the warmth of the sun on his skin, and giggled.

“Now there’s a sound I haven’t heard for the longest of times!” exclaimed a sound behind him.

Elrond jumped, and spun around.

“Glorfindel! You startled me!”

“I beg your forgiveness, my lord”, said Glorfindel, and offered an elegant bow to Elrond.

“All right, you don’t have to get cheeky”, Elrond gave a slightly annoyed look to Glorfindel, who was grinning.

“But seriously, Elrond”, continued Glorfindel, “that really was an unusual sound! I don’t think I’ve heard you laugh out loud since…” Glorfindel’s voice trailed off.

Elrond, who had leaned against the railing again to look at the path, turned and stared at his friend. Slowly he walked to stand in front of the taller blond elf, and without a warning threw his hands around the other’s neck, and gave him a hug.

“Oh, Glorfindel, what would I have done without you?”

Glorfindel had stiffened at first, but now he relaxed and wrapped his arms around Elrond, returning the sign of affection.

“I thought you just said the other day your life would be much more peaceful without me”, he said, smiling.

Elrond looked up, and saw the – slightly puzzled – smile of his friend.

“True, but also so much more boring” He stepped back, and decided some sort of explanation might be in order.

“You must think I’ve lost my mind”, he offered.

Glorfindel grinned “I’ve come to that conclusion an age ago, my friend”, he said. “But I am interested to know what has made you laugh to the wind and declare your gratitude right now.”

Elrond walked to the small bench on the balcony, and sat down. Glorfindel turned serious again, and followed him. Elrond looked down to his hands, and fiddled absent-mindedly with Vilya, as was his habit when he was lost in thought. When he finally looked up, his eyes seemed a bit brighter than normal, but Glorfindel decided it was not a reason to concern at the moment.

“I know I have been difficult during the past years”, Elrond began, and quickly silenced Glorfindel’s attempt to protest by lifting his hand. “I have, and I’m sorry about that. And I don’t want you to tell me there’s nothing to be sorry about, because that will not change the way I feel. I’m sorry. You have been very patient with me, and I have no doubt that if it wasn’t for you and my children I’d be knocking the doors of Mandos by now. Or alternatively just rising from the sea at Alqualondë, slightly out of breath because of the long swim.”

Glorfindel raised an eyebrow at this.

Elrond took a deep breath and continued: “I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am…”

“I know”, Glorfindel cut Elrond’s speech. “You forget all the times you have been there for me. There really is no need to thank me, as if I’d performed some heavy duty. That is what friends are for.”

Elrond took Glorfindel’s hand and smiled. He opened his mouth, and was about to speak again, when he suddenly stiffened. He jumped up from the bench and ran to the railing again.

“They are back!”

With this, Elrond turned and ran back inside. Glorfindel stood up and followed. At the door he gave a glance to the valley. It felt good to see Elrond so cheerful for once. Perhaps he was finally truly recovering. Glorfindel hoped it would last.

When reaching the door to the main hall, Elrond slowed down to a more respectful pace, and smoothed his dress. He tucked the strands of his black hair the wind had put into a disarray behind his ear, and walked across the hall and to the courtyard. Glorfindel followed him, and when they stepped out to the warm spring sun, they saw Arwen appearing from the direction of the rose garden. The reason for this hurried gathering was just riding in through the main gates.

“Greetings, father, and beloved sister!” Shouted a dark-haired elf and dismounted. A mirror image of him rode up to his side, and followed his actions. Together they ran up to their family and gave everyone muddy hugs.

“It is good to have you both back, my sons”, said Elrond, smiling and wiping a stream of mud from his cheek. The twins laughed in unison.

“How are grand-mother and grand-father?” asked Arwen and gave a sad look at her dress, which until recently had been pale red.

“They are bother fine, we have letters from them to all of you”, promised Elladan. “But first, we will look after the horses. They look rather unhappy.”

Elrond stared at the mud-covered animals. “Tell me”, he began, never shifting his gaze from the unfortunate mounts, “what could have possibly happened to cause this?”

“Mud-slide”, replied Elrohir carelessly. Elladan kicked him in the ankle and hissed warningly, but it was too late.

Elrond spun around, eyes wide in alarm, and Elladan covered his eyes.

“We’re alright!” Elrohir shouted hastily. “Honestly we are! Nobody was hurt everything is just fine we weren’t even badly scared we didn’t actually get under the mud it happened before we entered the valley we got so soaked because we had to go through the slide area there was no risk of another slide we were careful we really were, no-one was hurt!” The younger twin stopped to get some air, and was about to repeat the fact that they were not hurt, but was silenced by his father, who walked to him and gave him another hug.

Elladan put an arm on the shoulder of his upset father. “We really are fine. I told ‘Ro not to mention it to you…”

Elrond let his son go and took a step back, looking at his boys critically for some injury they might be hiding in order to not to worry him. Then he gave a resigned sigh.

“I suppose there’s no point in lecturing you. It seems you can guess what I’d have to say to you anyway, so I might as well save my breath. Besides, those horses really need your attention.” The twins sighed in relief, and walked quite guiltily back to the animals.

“We really are sorry”, Elrohir whispered to the ear of his loyal companion. “We will take you to the river, you’ll get rid of the mud soon enough.” The horse gave him an approving, and possibly forgiving, neigh, and the twins started to walk them both away.

“I’ll have some lunch for you, once you’ve finished!” Their father shouted after them. Elladan turned, and gave him a cheerful wave.

Elrond put down the tray containing bread, cheese and fruit he had picked up from the kitchen. Arwen and Glorfindel had gone to change their muddy clothes, and Elrond was about to do the same thing. Mistress Sárie had already given him a wondering glance at the kitchen.

“Twins”, had been Elrond’s short reply to the inquisitive look of the cooking elf, and mistress Sárie had given him an understanding smile. She had children too, she knew what he had to go through.

Elrond put a tea-kettle on the fire in the sitting room, and walked slowly to his bedchamber. After removing the soiled dress, he moved to the wardrobe. His clothes were hanging neatly next to Celebrían’s. He chose a new blue dress, slipped into it, and sat in front of the dressing table to brush his hair. Celebrían’s hairbrush was sitting innocently on the table. He frowned at it.

Elrond picked up another hairbrush, but did not lift it to his hair. Instead he just sat there, absent-mindedly staring at his reflection. Dark grey eyes stared back at him. Despite the bright spring day, the room seemed dark. Elrond stirred, and looked down at the table. Dust.

He put the hairbrush back down, and opened a drawer, moving as if in a dream. Celebrían’s jewellery was there, mingled with his own. And dust.

Elrond stood up so fast the chair fell over. He rushed to the door, but stopped there and frowned. He was neat by nature. He turned back, lifted the chair up, and exited the room.

The twins and Arwen stopped in front of the door leading to their parents’ chambers. Elladan was carrying a bag containing the letters and some small gifts from their grand-parents. Just when Elrohir was lifting his hand to knock at the door, Glorfindel appeared from around a corner.

They heard their father’s reply to the knocks and stepped in. They had been expecting to see Elrond sitting in a sofa in front of the fireplace, possibly pouring some tea, but he was nowhere to be seen. The door to the bedchamber was open, and they followed the distant sound of rustling fabric.

They found Elrond surrounded by several large chests. There appeared to be clothes in some of them, and more spread on the bed. Elrond himself was sitting cross-legged on the floor, sorting out a pile of jewellery.

“Father, what are you doing!?” exclaimed Elladan. “These are mother’s clothes!”

“Yes, I know that”, Came Elrond’s short reply, in a calm voice.

“But… why are you packing them away?” Elladan looked quite shocked and confused.

Elrond gave his children a careful look. Then he stood up, and walked to the bed. He pushed the clothes away, and motioned Elladan to come and sit with him.

“Why don’t you all sit down”, he offered quietly. The family came slowly closer. Arwen sat on the bed with Elladan, when Elrohir took the chair next to the bed. Glorfindel hesitated a bit, it seemed like this was going to develop into a very private moment, but Elrond gave him a small smile and patted the bed next to him.

Elrond took the hands of his daughter and older son, and gave them a compassionate look. Then he started to speak:

“I believe that at first this was more difficult for me than for you. I am not suggesting it was easy for you, but in the end, children are supposed to fly out of the nest. You are adults, with your own lives, not dependent on your mother anymore. Of course you still love her, and always will, but you don’t need her anymore. One day, you may start your own families, and as sad as it is, drift even further away from your parents.

“But I… Your mother was my soul mate! I love her, I worship her, and I never imagined I would have to try and live without her. For you it is still in the future, but for me… it was my future… I know we will be together again, but when? I have realized that I’ve spent the entire last century just waiting for that day. A whole century! How much longer should I wait? Another hundred years? Or maybe a thousand?

“I love Rivendell. I love Middle-Earth. And I know my days on these shores are running out. It will still be a while, but sooner or later I will leave, and never return. I do not want to spend my last times in mourning. I want to live again.

“But I cannot live like this. Look at these chambers! Do they look like a home of a living person? Whichever way I turn, I bump into a memory; half the things in here belong to a person who will never return. It is different for you: you can come here, and look at things, your mother’s hairbrush over there, a brooch in here, that sky-blue dress was always her favourite… it makes you feel like a part of her would still be here with us.”

Tears were now slowly running down Elrond’s cheeks, as he continued:

“But for me it is different. I live here! I come to these chambers every night, I wake up in here every morning, and all that time I am surrounded by the memory. And everywhere, there’s dust… I feel as if I was living in a mausoleum!

“Like I said, I believe that at first it was harder for me than it was for you. But now, I think, it is harder for you. Your mother was torn away from me, and it was a hard blow, but I have finally learned to live with it now. I have accepted that she will never come back. I am ready to start living without her. For you the rip was not so overwhelming, you had flown out of the nest already, but that is why you never had to truly let go of her.

“I know it hurts you badly to see me pack her away now, but I must do it for my own sake. I wanted to get it done before you came here, so that you wouldn’t have to see it.” Elrond gave a small smile through his tears, and Arwen wrapped an arm around him. “You were faster than I thought, I suppose I really should have done this in the evening, when you had gone to sleep…

“But maybe it’s better this way. I could not have hidden it from you anyway, but I’d rather have been a bit more prepared.” Elrond wiped his face, and looked at his children carefully. He noticed they were all crying now.

“Can you understand why I am doing this? Can you forgive me?” he asked hesitantly.

Elrohir stood slowly up from the chair, and kneeled in front of the bed. He picked his father’s hands from his lap, and squeezed them.

“We understand”, he said quietly.

Elladan and Arwen stirred, and moved closer to their father. For a long time the whole family just sat there, hugging each other. Glorfindel looked at them, leaning against the headboard of the bed, a relieved smile on his lips.

Then Elladan stood up. “Well, we’d better get these things packed up, I’m really hungry, and I think the tea-water has boiled away!”

“Oh no!” Elrond jumped from the bed and started to run towards the sitting room. “I forgot the water!” They listened to the sounds of their father rescuing the now empty kettle from the fire, and making a small yelp when he burned his finger.

“Father?” called Arwen, worried.

Elrond appeared on the doorway, slightly out of breath.

“I am fine”, he said sucking his thumb. He then moved across the room again, and lifted up a dress that had fallen to the floor when he rushed off. It was the sky-blue dress. Celebrían’s favourite. He looked at Arwen.

“You always liked this dress too”, he began. “I think it would suit you.”

Arwen’s eyes widened. “I couldn’t! It belongs to mother!”

“She left it behind”, Elrond said gently. “I’m sure she has more beautiful clothes now in Valinor. These are not some sacred relics, my daughter, in the end, they are just clothes.”

He held the dress against Arwen, and cocked his head. “Why don’t you try it on?” he offered.

Arwen smiled, and rushed into the bathing chamber to change her clothes. Elrond looked at the twins and Glorfindel cheerfully. “If I remember correctly, Elladan always had a nasty habit of borrowing this dagger-belt… and Elrohir just envied this amethyst ring.”

Arwen stepped back in just when Elladan was adjusting the beautiful mithril-decorated belt around his waist. Elrohir had already slipped the ring to his finger, and was looking at it, smiling to the memories. She whirled around a few times and laughed out loud. The twins applauded, and Glorfindel whistled – an act that earned him a mock stern gaze from Elrond.

Together, the family started to pack away the old clothes and wipe away the dust. The sun shone brightly through the curtains, and when Elrond opened a window, he heard the first nightingale of the season singing in a nearby tree. The spring had arrived to Rivendell again. A new life had begun.

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