Daughter of Mirkwood

Chapter 21

Of Finality, Of Joy

The day dawned fair and the sun seemed to shine brighter than it had in many long years. The city of Minas Tirith gleamed white in the light that had come to suffuse Middle Earth since the destruction of the Ring. Indeed, there was little darkness to be found, while the only shadows to remain were those of remembrance and wishes that loved ones had lived to see the day turn and night fall away.

As Aragorn was crowned King Elessar before all of Gondor, Aeslin stood at Haldir’s side, clothed in shimmering blue and silver, her mother’s gems in her hair, almost wondering if she were caught in the midst of a dream. She exchanged a glance with her husband as their child moved within her, as if feeling the same joy shared by Aeslin, Haldir and every other person sharing in the celebration around them. On her other side stood Legolas, whole and well like she could have only hoped he’d be, resplendent in his Princely garb. That she had not lost her brother to the darkness was a miracle, as were a great many other things that had happened in the last tumultuous months.

Blossoms from the White Tree danced in the air, spreading their sweet scent to all as the newly crowned King of Gondor descended the stairs of the Citadel, greeting many as he passed. Finally he came to Legolas, who stepped forward to meet his friend. Reaching out, Aragorn clasped the elf’s shoulder, receiving the same gesture in return as a quiet and heartfelt thank you passed the King’s lips. With a small, wordless gesture, Legolas directed Aragorn’s gaze past him. Looking past the Mirkwood Prince, he met Aeslin’s gaze for a moment, confused, but glad to see her and the Marchwarden at her side nonetheless. Knowing full well what her brother had been doing, Aeslin also turned her gaze, directing the King to look past her.

Beyond the Mirkwood and Lorien elves stood the Rivendell elves, and among them, holding a pale banner bearing the White Tree, was Arwen revealing herself to Aragorn as the crowd of elves around her parted.

A hesitant smile on her face, she stepped forward after a moment, her gray eyes focused on Aragorn alone. A smile growing on her face, Aeslin watched as Aragorn pulled the banner from Arwen’s hands before sweeping her up into a great kiss that earned a jubilant applause from every onlooker. Tears of joy coming to her eyes, Aeslin leaned against Haldir, her arm wrapping around his waist as Arwen wrapped her arms around her beloved, her eyes sparkling with mirth as she laughed with delight.

Elrond, who now stood beside Aeslin and Haldir, let out a long sigh. Glancing over to her teacher, her second father, really, Aeslin noticed his eyes bore sadness within them even though he beamed with pride and happiness. Reaching over, the healer took his hand, giving him a questioning look. Squeezing her hand, Elrond spoke, his voice low amid the shouts and cheers around them.

“Today is not a day for grieving, and so I do not think on the things that would cause sadness. I only wish that Celebrian were here to see the joy in our daughter’s face, to experience this day.”

“When you meet her again, she will. She will experience this day through you, and I think she will be happy knowing that Arwen found a love that endured so much darkness.” Aeslin glanced down to where her hand resting on her growing belly, her voice thoughtful, “I know I would.” After a moment Elrond laughed softly.

“I think you are right, daughter of my heart. Indeed, I think you are. She would be happy.” He looked to his student. After a moment he laughed, drawing yet another questioning gaze from Aeslin.

“I keep forgetting that you are no longer my young student, Aeslin of Lorien. You have grown up. No more are you the serious little elfling that haunted my library, but now older, wiser and about to be a mother yourself. How the time passes.”

Smiling, Aeslin turned to her Marchwarden, looking up at the face she knew better than any other. Sensing her attention, Haldir met her gaze, still astounded by the love he saw in her pale eyes.

“Yes, time does pass, and the passage of time brings many thing, change chief among them. But one thing I have learned is that some things are meant to endure.”

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