The Choice of Lúthien
November 4, 2005
Series > The
Choice of Luthien > Namarie,
Arwen > Iluvatar's
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. 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
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.
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
"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.
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,
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".]
Series > The
Choice of Luthien > Namarie,
Arwen > Iluvatar's