Title: A Letter to Nana
Theme: Eye of the Beholder
Elements: Artwork by Bethann
Beta: None – Any and all errors are solely my own
Word Count: 2080
Summary: On the eve of Elrond’s departure for the Havens, his sons settle down to write a letter to their mother, separated from them for hundreds of years and an unknown amount of miles. A response to the artwork of Bethann cited below.
Author’s Notes: Disclaimer: Tolkien built the sand box; I only play with the bucket and shovel that he left for me. No money, profit or non, is made from the publication of this story.
A Letter to Nana
Based on the artwork by Bethann
Elrohir turned around as his brother entered the room. He had been standing at the windowed double-door that led out to the balcony. The view from the ledge was of his mother's rose garden. Although she had been gone for many years, the garden was in immaculate condition, the flowers blooming with riotous colors in the late summer days. Keeping the garden in prime condition was a joint loving effort from both Erestor and Glorfindel.
A year earlier a message from Círdan had confirmed that Master Elrond's ship would be ready to sail in late autumn of this year and more than a month ago, Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn had arrived from Lothlórien, accompanied by those of their people who would be joining them when they journeyed to the Havens. All was now in readiness, and their father would be leaving early the next morning beginning the slow journey towards the Shire and then continuing Westerly towards the Havens and the sea beyond.
Elrohir, and his twin Elladan, had debated accompanying the cavalcade on the long trek, but had finally decided to ride out a few weeks later, meeting up with their father and grandparents shortly before they would board their ship. The slow journey which would consist of many stops and multiple good-byes did not appeal to them since they would not be leaving Middle Earth until after their sister and their brother-in-heart had left the Circles of the World. Lord Celeborn had said he would ride with the larger group, staying by the side of his wife for the remainder of the time she would be in Middle Earth. Afterwards he would return to Imladris. He had expressed a desire to visit King Thranduil's kingdom after Galadriel had sailed. Lord Glorfindel would remain behind in the Valley to oversee any day-to-day issues while Elrond's sons and Lord Celeborn were unavailable. He would sail with the Twins when they were ready to pass to the Uttermost West, or would sail without them if they decided to be counted as human instead of elven at the time of their Choice.
Elrohir walked towards the desk, the surface of which was uncharacteristically empty of papers. “'Dan, Father is leaving in the morning and we can't put it off any longer.” Seating himself and opening the right-hand drawer, he pulled out a piece of paper, the bottle of blotting sand, several quills and a bottle of ink. Elladan walked towards him, sitting down on the corner of the desk.
“Go get a chair. You know father doesn't like people sitting on the desk,” Elrohir ordered. Elladan sighed and hopped down, grabbing a nearby chair and pulling it up close to his brother.
'Dearest Nana,' Elrohir wrote in his careful, angular script. He was usually the one who wrote the letters for the pair since his penmanship was more readable than his brother's chicken scratches. He looked at his brother and sighed. “How do we tell her? She will look for us and not see us with Father. How do we say that we have still not made our Choice?”
Elladan got up from his chair and started pacing. “Write what I say, then,” and he began dictating.
'Dearest Nana. We were looking out over your rose garden tonight, and realized once again how much we miss you. It is our dearest hope that you have been healed and are now again able to dream without fear, dance joyfully while opening up your whole heart, and sing with your fëa overflowing with happiness.'
Elrohir busily dipped the quill and wrote, catching up with his brother's words. He looked up and nodded.
Elladan cleared his throat and continued. 'Much has happened since you left us. Quite unexpectedly, Arwen fell in love with a young man whom we helped raise and whom we look upon as a young brother. We're sure you remember that Father has fostered young men of the line of his brother Elros for many years. Estel, or Aragorn as he is named now, came to us when he was a child of only two years, shortly after the violent and sudden death of his father. Because Estel was the last male of Isildur's line, Father and the Dúnedain chieftain decided that it was safer to raise him secretly in Imladris, keeping his identity hidden from all.
When Father judged Estel to be matured into manhood, he told him about his true heritage, giving him the shards of Narsil and the ring of Barahir. At that time he was also told his true name. Stunned with the realization of his heritage, our brother-in-heart went walking through the woods south of the House and there he saw our sister, returned only that day from Lothlórien, dancing in the moonlight. He fell in love with her at that moment, although it took many more years before his feelings were reciprocated.
As you can imagine, Father was none too pleased with the idea of giving his daughter in marriage to a human man, setting near impossible goals before our brother that had to be achieved before he could think of claiming Arwen as his bride. Among those goals was recapturing the crown as acknowledged King of both Gondor and Arnor. After years of trial, many near-death experiences, and battles throughout Middle Earth, he succeeded in achieving his goal several years ago. On Midsummer's Day, four years ago, Father placed our sister's hand into the hand of her beloved and thus, Elvenkind has now lost its brightest jewel.
Our thoughts are divided on this event. We see the happiness of our sister and brother-in-heart and are filled with joy for them. We visit them often and have had the incomparable experience of holding their first child in our arms. We see their hopes of a shining future for themselves and their line and rejoice with them. But we also see the diminishment and changes that our sister has undergone and know that she has moved away from our kind completely, and that she will, all too soon, pass from the Circles of the World.
Father will give you all of the details of Arwen's tale. Indeed, we're sure he will speak with you often about our sister. But our feelings for her and her husband are one of two reasons why we are not standing on the deck of the ship accompanying him to the West and your side. We feel we must explain our reasons for our absence.
When Arwen married she asked one thing of us, that if it was possible, we could remain with her as her last link with her Elven family. After much thought and discussion we decided that yes, we would indeed stay behind on Middle Earth, but our Choice would still lie before us and would have to be made shortly after her death. Thus, we will stay in Middle Earth until she has passed beyond our ken.
The other reason we are not at your side surrounds us. Middle Earth itself has a firm hold on us. This is the land of our birth, and we have roamed over its surface for many long years. To sail West almost seems like we would be deserting something that has given everything it could to us, only to have us turn our backs on it in its time of need. We will be talking with Grandfather, King Thranduil, and others over the years to come and will decide what we want to do only after we have gathered advice from them and many other sources. We doubt that we will choose to be other than Elven, but we may decide to stay on these eastern shores for a much longer time to continue helping this land that we love. It is a very difficult decision for us and one that we cannot make in haste.'
At this point in the narrative, Elladan turned around and looked directly at his twin. Elrohir had put the quill down and was carefully reading the last paragraph his brother had dictated. “Is this how you truly feel, brother?” he asked.
“At this time I cannot, in good conscience, turn my back on this land, ‘Ro. I love it – the forests, rivers, and mountains, all of it. Much of it will die and change over the years to come. In many ways I want to be here both to watch it grow and to watch over and try to protect it.” Elladan strode to the window, the sun was setting and an intense, light-filled glow was hitting the verdant greenery with salmon-colored brushes. “The West is guarded and controlled by the Valar, but who guards Middle Earth? Humans are too short-lived to ever truly see the long view. I will know more when I have spoken to our Silvan and Sindarin friends, but my heart begs me to stay and fight for this world rather than pass over the sea.”
Elrohir looked at his brother silhouetted against the window, a black shadow against the glowing background. “We don't have to make up our minds right now, brother. Although this is the last of the large ships to go West, there will be other smaller vessels to search out the Straight Road. We still have time.”
Elladan turned around and came back to the desk, sitting down next to his twin. “Let's finish this letter, seal it, and give it to Father. Then we can relax with him for this last night in the Hall of Fire and see him off in the morning. Our final parting from him is still in the future, although not far away.” Elrohir nodded and picked the quill up again. Now it was his own words, not his brother’s, that he wrote down.
'Nana, somehow this letter has taken on a life of its own and has gone down paths that neither ‘Dan nor I had envisioned when I first picked up the writing quill. But even as it was when we were younger and were all together here in Imladris, we cannot hold anything back from you and feel we must tell you all.
We miss you terribly, Nana. We think of you often but speak about you rarely because it brings too much pain. We try to remember you in the days of your happiness, when Arwen was young and you were glowing with joy. We try to remember your stumbling through harp lessons, causing Lindir to sigh with sadness when he realized that you held no talent for playing that beautiful instrument. We treasure your watercolor paintings because in them you depicted those whom you loved in the surroundings where you were most happy. And we hear your laughter and your lovely voice raised in song echoing throughout our memories. All we hope for is that you are experiencing those times again.
We know that a reunion with Father will be one of the last steps in your healing, and that your joy will go far towards healing his own hurts which are deep trenches of sorrow spread throughout his own fëa. The healer is in desperate need of healing himself, and we think that your hands will be instrumental in achieving this.
In closing, we love you, Nana. And no matter what road we choose in the future, know in your heart and the deepest part of your fëa that this will be unchangeable. We will send letters if we can, and we will continue to think of you often with love and with joy. Be well, Nana. Be loved.
Elrohir signed his name and passed the quill to his brother, who signed his. Then, taking up the blotting sand, he sprinkled the final page, gently shaking off the excess and while the ink dried, he heated the wax. Elladan gathered the pages, folding them and fastening the ribbon around them. Holding them on the desktop, Elrohir dribbled the melted wax on the ribbon tie, then pressed their seal into the wax. He opened the drawer, returning the writing materials to their places within, and took up the sealed packet.
The two brothers looked carefully at each other, nodded and left the room together. No matter their decision, they would make it together as they had made all of the major decisions in their lives; they were comfortable with that. Closing the door behind them, they went in search of their father.