Where Was He?

Sauron had been defeated; the Fellowship was successful. The last rings of power were leaving Middle Earth. Elrond carefully averted his eyes as Galadriel and Celeborn said their farewells. He'd forbidden his children from coming here to see him off. He would see Elladan and Elrohir again. They still had duties to fulfill here. And Arwen. He was reconciled to her choice, for she'd made it for the right reasons. Her marriage to Aragorn had reunited the lines of his family. In that, he did find a small peace. Now the choice that he and Elros had each made had come to fruition. Full circle.  And in the children that Aragorn and Arwen were certain to have, well, that would mean that both Elrond and Elros would always be a part of Middle Earth.  Maybe all the sacrifices that Elrond and many others had made had been worth it.

He was sad at having to say goodbye to his children. But as the ship sailed further west, he felt some of the burdens dropping away. Vilya was openly displayed on his finger, but he noticed it less now than he ever had before.

He didn't miss the irony.  He was looking forward to going west, possibly for the first time ever. And Galadriel, she had wanted this for so long, but now, she was downcast, and could only dwell on what she left, not what she was coming to. He hoped Celeborn wouldn't linger for long.  He imagined that Celeborn would stay as long as the twins, and only come west at the end of Aragorn's time.  It had taken him nearly two years to say or think that without flinching, because he knew the end of Aragorn's time was the end of Arwen's time too.

He'd spent so much of his life steeped in duty.  It was finally time for him to do for himself.  He couldn't keep himself from looking forward, to the west, and to Celebrian. The days slipped by one after another, bringing him closer.

*~*~*

Where was he? Celebrian had heard the stories. More and more elves were sailing west. Arda had to be nearly emptied of them by now. But still, he didn't come. She'd asked, and been told that he lived, that he was preparing to come.  Where was he? Perhaps he feared having to tell her that her sons had chosen to stay.  Or perhaps it was the news of Arwen, and her marriage to the new king that held him to the shores of Arda. Yes, she'd heard. She'd already grieved and come to terms with it. As long as Arwen was in love, that was the most important thing. She would not begrudge her daughter the happiness that she'd had for herself with Elrond. Where was he?

She sighed and put down the trowel she'd been using to loosen the dirt around some of her rose bushes. By habit, she brushed a few stray hairs out of her face, leaving a streak of dirt on her cheek and another on her forehead. She'd never figured out how her mother or other elves could garden and never get dirty. One look, and anyone could tell Celebrian had been digging in the dirt.

She finished her gardening, cleaned the trowel and other tools up, then went inside to take a bath herself. She thought perhaps she'd walk to see one of her uncles' families, and maybe have tea. Ever since her arrival, she'd been meeting more and more of her mother's and father's relatives, and they all took her in, trying to make her feel at home. Even when her parents had finally settled in Lorien, and then she'd moved to Imladris, she was always ready for the next move, the next journey. That was still true. She wanted this to be home but it lacked the sound, the feel, the presence of her husband. Where was he?

Elrond needed to know she was healed, and whole again. Whole except for the parts of her that missed and needed him, that is. It was a daily litany she ran in her head. Where was he? When will he come? She tried to keep herself busy, and show a cheerful face to everyone, but she still felt as though her life here was in limbo, until he arrived. She was still waiting for the next journey to start, just as she had in all that time in Arda.

She helped her house girl fill the large copper tub with hot water, then sent the younger girl home. Alone again, she slipped out of her gardening clothes, then eased herself into the hot water.  She leaned back against the steep slope of the tub and closed her eyes, getting so relaxed that she was nearly asleep.

*~*~*

He still had the skills of a warrior, and a scout, so sneaking into her house was not difficult. Plus, it helped that she wasn't expecting him and so wasn't alert. His smile turned almost feral as he realized she was in the tub.  He briefly thought about removing his own clothes and getting in with her, but he didn't want to take the chance of her hearing him before he was ready.  The only concession he made was to toe off his shoes, then he entered the bathing room and climbed into the hot water, still clothed. He laughed when she squealed, then laughed harder when she threw her arms around him and screamed his name even louder.

"Where were you?"  She kept asking him over and over, not letting him answer before she had to kiss or touch him again.

He was home. He was really home. And now, so was she. No more danger, no more heart-wrenching pain. Only comfort. Only joy. Only love.

He was home.

******

~End~

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