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The Token by Dreamflower

Author: Dreamflower
Title: The Token
Theme: POV challenge--I chose Arwen. I have written her a time or two, but never from her own POV.
Elements: red, circle, nine
Author's Notes: The third section of this story takes place immediately following my drabble “Heart’s Desire”:
at Stories of Arda--
http://www.storiesofarda.com/chapterview.asp?sid=3043&cid=14428
or
at The Last Ship--
http://thelastship.org/eFiction331/viewstory.php?sid=2166&chapter=1
in which Arwen has her first conversation with Frodo after the wedding.
Summary: Arwen deals with losses.
Word Count: 1,465

The Token


It is not a day I will ever forget, Anor in the West, staining the horizon red; the sound of waves and the wind in the rigging of the tall grey ship; the smell of salt in the air, and the taste of salt as my tears ran down my face. She had already embraced my brothers, and now she came to me.

Within the circle of my arms, she felt so frail and weightless. I noticed, not for the first time, the hint of transparency about her. I knew she had to do this, I knew she had to go--she was surely fading, and if she remained we would lose her anyway.

She pulled back and looked into my eyes. "My daughter," she whispered, "my Undómiel, do not grieve." Then she pressed something small into my hand, and closed my fingers upon it, before I could see what it was.

I opened my hand, and there in my palm it lay, white and gleaming, its mithril chain coiled coolly against my skin. "Mother!" For I had never seen her without this gem about her throat, the gift of her own mother, filled with the light of Eärendil. As I closed my fingers around it and gazed at her, stricken, light from it escaped through my fingers. "Mother--" my voice choked.

She gave me a smile, wan and weak, "My child, I will see it again, will I not?"

I knew what she meant, and I nodded. I was so certain that one day I would choose also to accept the life of the Eldar, and join her in Elvenhome--I would have gone then, had I not known what it would mean to them to leave my father and brothers bereft of both of us.

Of course I would bring it back to her. She drew me once more into her embrace, and placed a kiss upon my brow, before turning to say her farewells to my father.

Ten had ridden to the Havens, nine of us would ride home.

__________________

The roses of my bower were red and fragrant, yet neither I nor my companion could appreciate their beauty. He leaned into the circle of my embrace, weeping bitterly. I knew not how to comfort him, for only a few moments before, my father had told Bilbo that he would not be allowed to accompany us on our journey.

"Your health will not stand it, my old friend. I am very sorry, but as your healer, I will not countenance it. Would you have us arrive in Gondor to see Frodo and the others, only to tell them that we had left you buried along the way?"

My father's face had been both stern and gentle, and pained as well, for he knew the disappointment he was causing. He glanced to me in entreaty ere he left us, hoping I would be able to comfort poor Bilbo.

I knew not how to console the old hobbit's grief. For long months we had been comrades in adversity, united by our fears and our hopes for the loved ones we had watched go off into mortal peril. And now, after all the long waiting, he was not to go and be reunited with them, but must wait instead for them to come to him. And I was disappointed as well, for I had looked forward to his stout and cheerful presence at our side when Aragorn and I finally realised our long-awaited dream.

But it could not be; my father was right--these months of anxious waiting--nine months if I considered the turmoil and fear that had accompanied Frodo's dangerous journey to Imladris, and the days and nights of anguish after his wounding, as well as our mutual worries when they left once more--had all taken their toll on my small friend. He was already ancient by the reckoning of his kind, and the destruction of the One had released the hold it had on him, leaving him prey to all the years it had held at bay. As much as he wished it, he would not survive a journey to Gondor in his perilous state of health.

His weeping exhausted him, and soon his weary body succumbed to sleep. As I felt his hitched sobs slowly even out into soft gentle snores, I eased him into my arms. He was frail, and weighed no more than a very young child. I arose carefully, and carried him through the wide door that led from my bower-garden to my chambers, and laid him upon the soft cushions of a small bench by my window. He curled up, and slept on without further stirring. I cast a fond glance at him, and laid a kiss upon the papery-thin translucent skin of his brow, as I drew a thin coverlet of my weaving over him. Sleep softened his great age, and I marvelled again at the changes time makes upon a mortal. Until Aragorn, I had met few mortals and loved none. Since I came to love Aragorn, I found that there were other mortals making inroads upon my heart--this small one not the least among them. My own heart contracted as I realised that I would probably never see him again after we departed on the morrow.

What would I not give to ease his sacrifices and those of the ones he loved most?

Tears stung my eyes as I went to resume the task that my father's news had interrupted. Most of my packing was done, but some few items remained. I took forth a small casket of dark polished wood, and opened it. I touched my mother's gem. I had not worn it since I had pledged my troth to Aragorn, and I had planned to ask my father to bear it back to my mother in Elvenhome, that my word to her not be broken. I had meant to leave it here.

And yet, something stirred in my heart, a foreboding of I knew not what, and I felt that I should take it with me after all.

Doubtless it would be made clear to me when the time was right.

___________________

I almost wish I had not spoken to him. All unthinkingly, I have distressed him, whom I would never wish to distress. Yet I owe him so much! How could I leave that debt unacknowledged?

I walk away from him reluctantly, leaving him to his pensive wonderings beneath the White Tree. I could not miss the spots of red against his pale cheeks, when I had thanked him, nor missed the flair of pain within his fëa. He is still filled with distress over the way his quest had ended. And his constant and forced association with evil for many months has left him feeling soiled and diminished.

I had longed to take him into the circle of my embrace and lay a kiss of blessing upon his brow. Yet I had sensed that he would not welcome it, but consider it an undeserved comfort as well as an affront to his dignity. So I left him to his thoughts.

I turn to look at him once more. He is rubbing his right hand with his left, as though he is wishing to rub away the evidence of his missing finger. "Frodo of the Nine Fingers", the minstrels call him, thinking to honour him as though he were "Beren One-Hand". Yet it seems clear to me that he sees his wounding not as a badge of honour, but as a sign of failure. In the depths of his blue eyes, behind the pain, there is a self-loathing. And about the blaze of brightness that is his spirit, a scar of darkness remains, and there is about him a frailness and a hint of transparency that I have seen before. He is fading.

He does not realise it yet; the cloud does not envelope him, and for much of the time, he tries to recapture his old habits of being. He is a hobbit after all, and they are hard to quell. I know that my beloved believes that once Frodo is home amid his old familiar surroundings in his gentle Shire, the natural bent of his race to living cheerfully in the moment will overcome the remaining darkness. But I fear he is wrong.

After all, my father once hoped that home and family would overcome the darkness in my mother's heart.

Perhaps I am wrong. I am too new to the ways of mortals to feel any kind of certainty, and perhaps they have more strength to resist fading than the Eldar.

But my heart tells me that I know who will bear my mother's token to her.

And I think she will understand.

Comments

( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
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shirebound
Aug. 11th, 2008 09:44 pm (UTC)
But my heart tells me that I know who will bear my mother's token to her.

And I think she will understand.


Oh my goodness. These vignettes are beautifully written.
dreamflower02
Aug. 11th, 2008 11:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Thank you very much.
harrowcatliz
Aug. 11th, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
These are wonderful Dreamflower. I have always felt for Bilbo, being left behind.
dreamflower02
Aug. 11th, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
The second vignette was the first one to come to me, when I decided on Arwen's POV. I've always imagined the two of them spending much time together during their fearful wait to hear about the fate of those they loved.
lindahoyland
Aug. 11th, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
Beautiful and heartrending.I loved this and it filled in the gem's history brilliantly.
dreamflower02
Aug. 11th, 2008 11:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It occurred to me that the gem *could* have come from Celebrian to her daughter--and it went from there.
(Deleted comment)
stefaniab
Aug. 11th, 2008 11:22 pm (UTC)
This is nicely written. I even shed a little tear at the end of the first vignette. Good foray into Arwen's world.
(no subject) - dreamflower02 - Aug. 11th, 2008 11:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dreamflower02 - Aug. 11th, 2008 11:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
nancylea57
Aug. 11th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
arwen spends so much of her time with us in the midst of some of the hardest choices. she doewn't sail with her mother, she can't live at imladiris with her brothers and father, she must choose between breaking her father or her adopted brother, now she chooses a substitute to sent her mother. why is love never enough.
dreamflower02
Aug. 12th, 2008 12:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, she gave up many that she loved for the one that she loved. Very sad, and heart-breaking.
(Deleted comment)
dreamflower02
Aug. 12th, 2008 12:44 pm (UTC)
Oh! Pearl what a lovely thing to say! I've rarely written an Elven POV--just Legolas once in a while, and I think I did Gildor once. Arwen was a bit intimidating.

There are so many parallels between Beren and Frodo--but Frodo's reaction to his Quest is so different.
aliensouldream
Aug. 12th, 2008 12:03 am (UTC)
Very beautiful and unusual. I love her thoughts on Bilbo and Frodo, sad though they are. They imbue hobbits with a nobility. She is so sensitive to their feelings and acts with grace.
dreamflower02
Aug. 12th, 2008 12:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I think hobbits *are* noble, and Arwen would notice that in her association with them.

And I am glad you think she "acts with grace", because I think that grace was what her life was all about.
surgicalsteel
Aug. 12th, 2008 12:43 am (UTC)
Y'know all those hankies I've handed you various times? Right, I need them back now. *sniffles*
dreamflower02
Aug. 12th, 2008 12:46 pm (UTC)
Here they are dear! Thank you so much. ((hugs))
ex_lbilover
Aug. 12th, 2008 01:14 am (UTC)
Oh, this is so very beautiful, and so poignant. I was most taken by the section with Bilbo. I never thought about the bond that would form between the two of them during the months of the Quest- but it must have. And the parallel between Celebrian and Frodo, joined by the darkness inside them and by the jewel, is heartbreaking.
dreamflower02
Aug. 12th, 2008 12:48 pm (UTC)
I've always thought that Arwen and Bilbo would have become fast friends during that anxious time, and it would have been so sad to her to lose his companionship.

And I've read many stories that point out parallels between Frodo and Celebrian--and it occurred to me that the jewel would be one more.
febobe
Aug. 12th, 2008 01:54 am (UTC)
PERFECT.

Simply PERFECT. :D

*snugs*
dreamflower02
Aug. 12th, 2008 12:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you, dear. Thank you very much.
blslarner
Aug. 12th, 2008 03:27 am (UTC)
I, too, have seen Arwen and Bilbo becoming close in those months of waiting for word as to the safety of those they loved. In my storyline, it is Bilbo who realizes he cannot make it to Gondor, as you'll recall, although the grief is the same either way.

At least she has found one to carry the jewel back to her mother, one with whom Celebrian will be able to empathize, and perhaps help heal.

And hopefully, seeing the gem about Frodo's neck, Bilbo and Elrond will feel somewhat relieved, knowing that she has chosen one who most deserves it to bear her own hopes to Tol Eressea.

Lovely series.
dreamflower02
Aug. 12th, 2008 12:50 pm (UTC)
That part with Arwen consoling Bilbo was actually the first part of the story that came to me.

Thank you very much.
maniac1
Aug. 12th, 2008 04:27 am (UTC)
This was ... just beautiful. Very poignant and sad, but lovely just the same.
dreamflower02
Aug. 12th, 2008 12:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you, dear! It did come out very sad, but Arwen had some sad losses. I'm glad you liked it.
illyria_novia
Aug. 12th, 2008 08:19 am (UTC)
Oh, beautiful! Especially given the beginning, the poignant parting of Celebrian and her children. I love how you portrayed Celebrian, and the way you described Arwen's perception of Frodo:

In the depths of his blue eyes, behind the pain, there is a self-loathing. And about the blaze of brightness that is his spirit, a scar of darkness remains, and there is about him a frailness and a hint of transparency that I have seen before. He is fading.


Also, the bit where Frodo sees the contrast between Beren One-hand and Frodo of the Nine Fingers, brilliant, that. And the ending is nothing short of inspired. Thanks so much for this.
dreamflower02
Aug. 12th, 2008 12:55 pm (UTC)
I think that Arwen would have been able to see Frodo's spirit, and know what it meant in the long run.

It seemed to me that "Frodo of the Nine Fingers" was perhaps not the most tactful name for a song of his deed, and yet to minstrels who knew their history, the parallel would be irresistable.

I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for the lovely review!
golden80
Aug. 12th, 2008 10:17 am (UTC)
That was one of the most beautiful things I ever read. It had so much feeling in it that grabbed my heart at once and it is beautifully written.
dreamflower02
Aug. 12th, 2008 12:57 pm (UTC)
Jana, what a sweet thing to say! (((hugs))) Thank you so much, dear!
ceshaughnessy
Aug. 12th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
Lovely and touching, Dreamflower. How very sad and yet uplifting at the same time. And very Elvish in tone - you did a magnificent job with this one!!
dreamflower02
Sep. 17th, 2008 03:24 am (UTC)
I just now found these last few comments, and realized I had not replied!

I'm so glad you found it Elvish in tone--it's not easy to do an Elven POV!
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