She was still crying bitterly. It could have been days, weeks, months, years or decades before she realized that she was no longer crying alone. It didn't matter. Celegorm was gone, vanished forever from her life, her unlife, her second chance, Mandos, Valinor and everything else. She looked at the spring where she used to wait for him, where he used to wait for her. If she closed her eyes, she could see his tall, handsome silhouette sprawled lazily, if it was after a spar, or alert and flexing if it was before. If she closed her eyes she could almost feel the touch of his hand on her face, his callused hand that held the sword too tight but never so much as put her hair out of place. If she closed her eyes…
Wrapped around her were the arms of Nienna, whose tears washed away the pains of the world with endless compassion. For a moment, she sobbed more loudly, wailed, even, when she knew that she was heard. Somehow, the knowledge that her pain was no longer lost to the four winds made it more acute, more endless. So she wailed, and screamed, and tore her dress, trying to flail out of the Valie's arms. "Leave me," she cried out, rebelling as the realization of who this was suddenly came forth. The tears of Nienna, she knew, might at the very least soften her grief. Aredhel would have none of it. "At least I can suffer as he does," she said, almost harshly.
The Valie cried still, but her eyes were full of pity, compassion and patience. "You are no longer under the Doom," she said, softly. "Does forgiveness not suffice you?"
Aredhel tried, again, to pull free of the Valie's hold, and though her efforts were useless, Nienna let her go. She remained close by, however, levitating softly, wind in her hair, compassion shining amidst the curtain of pitiful tears that filled her eyes constantly.
The words came out of Aredhel's lips before she could think little of it. "It does not," she spat. "I care nothing for your compassion, if you do not give it to my love. I care nothing for the forgiveness of Mandos and for the beauties of Valinor. If my love is not here, then I will not look upon them with anything but disgust."
There was fire in her that had not been kindled since her younger years, since the days of the Trees and the kisses by the fountain. There was fire in her that would not be extinguished, now that it burned in her, as painful and vivid as the Silmaril's scorching heat. "Tears unnumbered indeed," she told Nienna, bitterly, angrily. "You who are the beacon of compassion, the beacon of forgiveness and patience, how dare you tell me to be satisfied with the rotten present of forgiveness? I cannot be so selfish when the Dispossessed's fate is not known to me. They are my kin," she argued, "and Celegorm should have been my mate. I am dispossessed as well, and I will cry, and be angry, for as long as your own discourse is not coherent with itself."
And then she left, deciding that if she could not be rid of company, she could at least walk, and attempt to ignore it. Nienna gave up, troubled by the Eldar's words, and retreated to her dwellings to contemplate these words, so very unsettling as they were.
Left to her tears of grief, freed from Nienna's tears of compassion, Aredhel went back to the sweet little stream and lay her face to the earth. She cried herself to sleep, until her brother came to her. Fingon's face was taut with tension, and his eyes were blazing.
"Ireth?" His voice croaked aplenty. She did not reply.
"Ireth, if you can hear me, open your eyes, please," he said, urgently, worry peeking underneath the anger. "Please. I promise not to scold."
Slowly, she opened her eyes, inviting him to speak.
He cleared his throat, once, twice.
"Manwe Sulimo sent for you," he said, carefully. "I am to take you to him."
She did not stir. Fingon fidgeted, before he touched her shoulder, gingerly. "Ireth, I don't know what he wants, but you cannot refuse him."
She turned, looked away. "I will go to him when they bring my love to me," she replied, expressionlessly. Fingon sighed.
"Arakano wants to see you," he said, quietly.
She closed her eyes, again. "He can come," she whispered in response, tiredly.
That night, she spent in the same clearing. Argon and her did not speak, but him, she let hold her, as she had so many times when they were children and he'd stumbled somewhere, when he was a lad whose heart was hung on a girl, unluckily, but this time, he did the consoling and she did the crying. There were no words.
More time passed, before Manwë Súlimo himself came to her. He sat on the very rock where Celegorm used to wait for her, and she hated him for it. He did not speak. He only sat there, and waited, until the elven lady was uneasy, and broke the silence. She was stubborn, but not stubborn enough.
"Have you come to contemplate your work?" Her voice was tired, despairing.
"No," he said, voice heavy with power and melodious like the deepest winds. His deep blue eyes were heavy with compassion. "I am here to beg your forgiveness," he said, quietly.
That took her aback, enough for her to stir from her near catatonia.
"Forgiveness, my Lord?"
He nodded, slowly, a nod heavy with millennial regrets. "It was I who released the Enemy from the Halls and gave him the opportunity to slay Finwë," he said, quietly. "And now I wish to know why I should repeat my mistake."
Aredhel's mind soared with hope, only to be crushed immediately. But here was an opportunity, and so she took it. "Fëanor and his sons are not Morgoth," she replied, after consideration. "And it would be easy for you to contain them, should you needed to." She closed her eyes, and added, softly, "But you will never have to contain my Tyelkormo, if you let me have him again. This, my lord, I promise you."
He looked at her, long and hard, considering.
"Child," he said, at long last, "this is not the end of all things." Aredhel looked at him, eager for more, hungry for hope, now that she'd had a taste of it, now matter how little.
"My brother will break the Moritarnon," he said, quietly. "Melkor will destroy the Sun and Moon, and Sauron will rise again. Arda will rise, and so will Valinor, and we will rise into battle, Edain, Eldar, Naugrim and Valar alike. It is said that Turin Turambar will kill Morgoth with the steel of Gurthang and that the light of the Trees will be restored."
Again, hope sprung, immortal and eternal, in her soul. "But, My Lord," she gasped, a little. "If that is such, then – my uncle…" Manwë did not give her an answer. She pressed on.
"What of his sons?"
Again, he did not answer. The winds lifted, and he dissolved into blue mist that made her eyes water. She looked at the empty air, awed, aghast and confused.
It was only then that she heard Turgon's voice. "My sweet sister, you will never cease to amaze me," he said, sternly. "Who but you could bring the Valar to dust off old prophecies?"
She turned, looked at him, pained. "Do you think there's a chance?"
Her brother sighed, came over, put a loose arm around her shoulder. "We do not wed with kin so near, sister."
She gave him a look that said a million things. "Turukano, we are dead. Give it a rest." He was too happy to see her being a shadow of herself to grunt anything back at her, and he squeezed her shoulder without insisting.
Perhaps, one day , this shred of hope would be something close to enough. For the time being, however, it was not.