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Of Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax

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My dearest—

 

        My dearest. My dearest love. My dearest heart. My dearest Arwen. My dearest daughter.

 

         This is a letter I will not send, words I cannot speak, a prayer flying to a loved one after death. You are my son's, my son is yours. The threads of fate sing to me of this, and I am helpless before the call of a mother's love. (And nay, that is not true. I am helpless before the price of a mother's love.)

 

         I have given up everything for my son. Home and my people, when I was scarcely more than a girl, tired and afraid after the tidings of my beloved husband's death. I gave up duty, I gave up care of those whose lives were entrusted to the care of the Chief and Chief's Wife, for my son. And so, when fate asks me to give you up, it cannot be denied, for there is a debt to my people I have to pay, a debt I can See you will be part of.

 

         And there was the first time I gave up love: I gave up his father, my beloved husband, I gave up my son's memories of him, the name Father given to another. And so I cannot deny another child the names of parents.

 

         I denied the Dúnedain a leader, and I denied my child his birthright. I did it for the future, and to protect him. Nevertheless, I must pay twice over. And a second love is not so great a sacrifice. Not when I have given all before.

 

         When you came into my life, so soon after my son had left, it was with embarrassment that I regarded you, this great lady of the Elves, one so fair and beautiful, one who, to my shame, my child had offended, by a worship before his turn.

 

         It was not long so. I grew to admire you for your beauty, yes, but also your quick wit, your generosity, the hope which burned in your breast even as that same hope was stolen from me by the ever-lengthening years. Those days in the gardens, in my rooms or yours, in the Hall of Fire, I shall ever cherish in my memory. My girlhood I gave up for the child of my heart, and all thoughts of friends and companions, and hope and joy, those lonely years in Rivendell, but a second chance I found in you, and for that I will be forever grateful.

 

         But friendship did not last, Arwen, and I fell prey, as my son will (did, I would say, but that first fall, as I heard it, was a farce, a farce of what love should be—do not tell him that!). And I gave you my heart. Unwillingly, I gave you my heart. For nothing would come of it. I would not allow it to. I cannot.

 

         Do you remember the evening under the stars, on the balcony of my rooms in the valley? Your eyes shone bright, my Arwen, and you turned your head towards me, the moonlight shimmering in your hair. And I—I turned away.

 

         I do not regret that choice, not though I knew you rode off to Lórien the next day, to the place where your destiny—and my son—awaited you. I do not regret the hurt in your eyes. I cannot. For I possess a measure of the Sight of our line, of the Line of Elendil and of Elewendë the Lady of the Faithful of whom few still speak, and there is within me a hope that you will inspire my son to a greatness which will save us from the Shadow.

 

         This letter may—will, if what I have foreseen becomes truth—come to you, after my death, and after you become Queen. I hope you will understand why I could not speak, why I would not speak. And I hope, my love, that you will know that I love you.

 

         Yours, forever,
                  Gilraen