Return From Duty

A/N: This is my first LotR/Silmarillion fanfic, although it’s technically more the latter than the former. This was inspired in part by Freelancer‘s fic Duty’s Call. Many thanks go to her and Nerweniel for looking this over before I posted it.

Few disturbed the white-garbed figure standing in the bow of the boat as it made the long journey to Valinor. The two hobbits were content with each other’s company and many of the Elves were gazing back at Middle-Earth, thinking of loved ones left behind. The figure in the bow of the boat was thinking of one he had not seen in many years, yet whose image was still clear in his mind: dark red hair, clear grey eyes, and soft, pale skin. Every stroke of the oar, every puff of wind in the sails, every wave splashing against side of the ship, every breath of rich, salty air brought him closer to her. He sighed softly, her name barely a murmur in the wind, “Nienna.”

One of the Elves, clad in a gray mantle, approached the figure in white. “Gandalf?” When the figure did not reply, the Elf tried again. “Olórin?”

“Yes, my friend?” Olórin replied, turning enough to look at the Elf, while still watching the sea.

“Are you looking forward to returning?” the Elf asked quietly, seeming, for all his years, like a small, solemn child.

Olórin smiled, looking out at the sea once more. “You should know the answer to that question, Master Elrond.”

“In all your years in Middle-Earth, you never made a home for yourself,” Elrond commented quietly, standing beside his friend in the bow of the boat. “You were always moving, always going somewhere.” Olórin nodded, encouraging the other to speak his thoughts aloud. “Perhaps, so you would not have a home to leave behind upon your return to the Blessed Lands?”

Olórin’s smile broadened. “Never had I felt the need to make a home for myself in Middle-Earth. Wealth and treasure did not lure me, except the treasure of friendship, which I carry in my heart, until I and my friends should meet again.”

“There is one I look forward to seeing again,” Elrond admitted after a long silence.

Olórin glanced at his companion, amused. “I’m sure the Lady Celebrían longs to see you as well, my friend.”

Elrond gave a soft chuckle. “You know me well, my friend.”

“I should hope so,” Olórin commented with a wry smile. “I should certainly hope so.”

No more words passed between the two as they watched the water undulate before them. Elrond’s thoughts were on the wife he’d not seen for over five hundred years. Olórin’s thoughts were on one he had not seen for two thousand years.

* * *

At long last, the boat arrived at Alqualondë, as the sun was setting over the Blessed Lands. How fitting, Olórin mused as he let the others disembark first, drinking in the sight of lands he had not seen in many years, I left at dawn and I arrive at sunset. Chuckling to himself, he disembarked last of all, breathing deeply of the air of Aman. Looking about, he saw that the hobbits were objects of great interest to those gathered about the dock. All around him, Olórin can see Elves greeting loved ones. A smile appears when he sees that Elrond has been reunited with his wife, Celebrían. Galadriel, clothed all in white, approaches and mother and daughter embrace each other tightly, tears of joy and sorrow shining on their cheeks. Joy that they are together again, sorrow that Celeborn is still in Middle-Earth. Looking about once more, Olórin can see sorrow mingled with joy, but the one face he longs to see is nowhere to be seen. Reminding himself that he still had a duty to fulfill, he set his steps for Manwë’s house.

* * *

He had taken time to clean up and change prior to appearing before Manwë and now felt more at home as he entered the part of Lórien under his sister’s care. Moving to the middle of the garden, he found one woman seated on a marble bench beneath the tree there. She appeared to be contemplating the flower in her hand, but he knew she was aware of his presence. Though it was not until he sat down beside her that she acknowledged him, with a tilt of her head and a shadow of a smile appeared on her lips. “I told you I would wait.”

“I have missed you,” he answered softly as her hand covered his. “Many times was I comforted by the memory of you, but memory cannot replace reality.”

Her smile became brighter as he lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it. “Indeed, not even the memory of the Valar can do so.”

They sat in silence for several moments, each basking in the presence of the other. Eventually, Olórin was the one to break the silence. “Sometimes, I wondered if it had been a dream, if I had really told you that I love you.”

“But?” she prompted gently when he fell silent.

He smiled, looking at her. “Then I remember our first kiss, and tell myself it was better than any dream could be.”

“I am glad you think so,” she commented, returning his smile as he cupped her cheek with his free hand.

As they gazed into each other’s eyes, she covered his hand with hers. Seated on the marble bench, sheltered by the tree that had overseen their declaration of love two thousand years, and dappled with starlight and shadows, they shared a kiss that had been waiting for two thousand years.


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