The Choice of Lúthien

by Alasse Merenrel-(TV)
November 4, 2005

Stories > Arwen Series > The Choice of Luthien > Namarie, Arwen > Iluvatar's Gift

    A soft breeze brushed my face as I lay upon the velvet divan. My fingers gently traced the embroidery, following the golden path of the vines, swirling around the sewn grapes.
    My eyes wandered about the green tips of the woods, to the proud white summits of the distant mountains. They flickered upwards to watch the white clouds drift across the blue sky, then down to watch the current of the river that surrounded Tol Galen. Gradually they closed, and I drifted off to the shores of sleep.

    I am in a forest, a forest much like the one of Neldoreth. A deep voice echoes through the trees, singing. Listening closer I am surprised to find that it is of me. I peer through the branches, and I perceive a Man, young but with an air of nobility, strolling beneath the leaves. He is the one singing.
All of a sudden, he stops, and stares ahead as one who is awed. I turn my head, and there gliding through the boughs is an Elf. She bears a strong resemblance to myself, the same dark hair, the same bright eyes.
    The Man seems to think the same, for he runs towards her, crying "Tinúviel! Tinúviel!"
    The Elf pauses, and looks at him. A smile plays across her features. "Who are you?" she asks. "And why do you call me by that name?"
    The young Man blushes. "Because I believed you to be indeed Lúthien Tinúviel, of whom I was singing. But if you are not she, then you walk in her likeness."
    "So many have said. Yet her name is not mine. Though," she glances quickly at him, and lowers her eyes, "maybe my doom will be not unlike hers." A moment of awkward silence ensues. "But who are you?" she asks quickly. Too quickly.
    "Estel I was called," replies the Man, "but I am Aragorn, Arathorn's son. Isildur's Heir, Lord of the Dúnedain." This Aragorn blushes again, no doubt because he senses that even his great lineage is small compared to the Elf's.
    She laughs merrily, head thrown back, her white teeth flashing in the setting sun. Aragorn looks on in amazement. He reminds me of another Man, as enamored as he. "Then we are akin from afar. For I am Arwen Elrond's daughter, and am named also Undómiel."
    Undómiel. Evenstar. Fitting indeed, I think, as I edge closer to the pair.
    Meanwhile Aragorn speaks. "Often is it seen that in dangerous days men hide their chief treasure. Yet I marvel at Elrond and your brothers; for though I have dwelt in this house from childhood, I have heard no word of you. How comes it that we have never met before? Surely your father has not kept you locked in his hoard?"
"    No." Arwen shakes her head, and turns her gaze to the mountains in the east. "I have dwelt for a time in the land of my mother's kin, in far Lothlórien. I have but lately returned to visit my father again. It is many years since I walked in Imladris."
    Aragorn tilts his head, puzzled. Arwen looks at the confusion in his eyes, and laughs. "Do not wonder! For the children of Elrond have the life of the Eldar."
    For the third time, Aragorn blushes.

    I woke suddenly, back in my soft cushions. Breathing in deeply I stood, and walked to the balcony. Leaning against the polished railing I thought of my dream. Who were they, this Aragorn, this Arwen? Why did I dream of them?

    I closed my eyes, and suddenly an image appeared. It was the Man and the Elf-Maiden again, but this time they sat together in a courtyard of white stone. Aragorn seemed to be older, and a crown graced his forehead. He looked lovingly at Arwen, who gazed affectionately back. Hand in hand, they sang a song of Valinor, sitting happily at the foot of a sapling White Tree.
    Several other visions flashed across my eyelids. I saw them sitting in a grand throne room, then at a dining room with a child, a son, in their arms. Next came a ballroom, with the couple watching on in amusement as a young lad twirled around with several girls who were obviously his sisters. Then another throne room, this time with the boy, grown up and handsome, sitting next to his parents, and his sisters, tall and beautiful, across him.
    The last few apparitions swam through my thoughts. I watched as Aragorn, now old and fading, was laid down upon a long bed. I watched as he placed his winged crown upon the brow of his son, whose name I now know is Eldarion. I watched as he and his sisters and all the rest depart, leaving Aragorn and Arwen alone in that hall of mourning.

    Tears streaked down Arwen's cheeks as she caressed Aragorn's wrinkled face. Her eyes were full of grief and torment. Aragorn gently grasped her hands as a sob wrenched out of her throat.
    "Lady Undómiel," said Aragorn, "the hour is indeed hard, yet it was made even in the day when we met under the white birches in the garden of Elrond where none now walk. And on the hill of Cerin Amroth when we forsook both the Shadow and the Twilight this doom we accepted." He squeezed her hands. "Take counsel with yourself, beloved, and ask whether you would indeed have me wait until I wither and fall from my high seat unmanned and witless. Nay, lady, I am the last of the Númenoreans and the latest King of the Elder Days; and to me has been given not only a span thrice that of Men of Middle-earth, but also the grace to go at my will, and give back the gift. Now, therefore, I will sleep."
    "I speak no comfort to you, for there is no comfort for such pain within the circles of the world. The uttermost choice is before you: to repent and go to the Havens and bear away into the West the memory of our days together that shall there be evergreen but never more than memory; or else to abide the Doom of Men." Here Aragorn's voice broke, and tears also glistened on his cheeks.
    Arwen smiled falteringly at him. "Nay, dear lord," she said, "that choice is long over. There is now no ship that would bear me hence, and I must indeed abide the Doom of Men, whether I will or I nill: the loss and the silence. But I say to you, King of the Númenoreans, not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive."
    "So it seems," said Aragorn, but his voice was a whisper and Arwen leaned closer to hear him. "but let us not be overthrown at the final test, who of old renounced the Shadow and the Ring. In sorrow we must go, but not in despair." His breath catches suddenly in his throat. "Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Farewell!"
    Arwen cried out, a heart-wrenching sound. "Estel, Estel!"
    Aragorn kissed her hands, and with a sigh closed his eyes, and breathed his last. Slowly his lifeless hands slid from Arwen's trembling ones.

    For a long time Arwen sat there, shoulders shaking with weeping. Then they stilled, and she stood. Her eyes were empty and dull with pain, and her manner became cold, as a nightfall in winter that comes without a star. I watched as she bade her children goodbye, her face emotionless as they wept and pleaded for her to stay. I watched as she passed away to the land of Lórien, a land now empty and silent, for the elves that once dwelt there had passed away. I watched as her sorrow consumed her, until at last her life was utterly spent, and she laid herself to rest below the fading trees.

    Abruptly I opened my eyes. A tear splattered on my hand, and I wiped the rest of them away. For then I knew. I knew why I had dreamt of Aragorn son of Arathorn and Arwen Undómiel. It was because one day Arwen would make the same choice as I. To forsake her immortality and her people for her love.
    Such is the Choice of Lúthien.

[Editor's Note: the dialogue and much of the action between Arwen and Aragorn is directly or indirectly from Return of the King, Appendix A (V) "Here Follows a Part of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen".]

Stories > Arwen Series > The Choice of Luthien > Namarie, Arwen > Iluvatar's Gift