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I spoke harshly to Gandalf this morning; yet I hope he will forgive me. His words bought back memory, long dim but never forgotten. How could I forget?

It comes again to this, to war and death, and the Enemy above all. I was quick to lay blame, to say that the weakness of Men brought us here. But the failure lies at my feet as well, who did not act when I should. I was there, I might have... I could have...

I could not.

In the days before the great battle, I came to know Isildur as well as any, and more than most. We both sensed what lay ahead and swore to defend each other as best we might, never forgetting our ultimate purpose: to defeat the Enemy. To destroy the One Ring.

We fought together; we bled together; and in the nights before the final battle on the slopes of Mount Doom we loved together. It is in my blood to love mortals, the blood of Lúthien Tinúviel who loved Beren and thus bound herself to a mortal life. Those of her line have a choice unique to the Elves upon Middle-Earth: to remain Elvish and immortal, or to bind themselves to a mortal and become mortal themselves. And in that blood, too, a love for the swiftness and boldness of Men. It is no less with me.

But it was war and not a time for love, no matter how true, and so I made no pledge to Isildur. He served his father Elendil and I my lord Gil-Galad, and those oaths stood above all. We did not speak of "afterward"; in that time, it seemed entirely unclear that there would be a future for any of us.

Both Elendil and Gil-Galad fell against Sauron, and Isildur struck the Ring from Sauron's hand and his power with it. He followed me into the heart of the mountain, to destroy the thing for all time. But the cold gilt glitter of the Ring caught his eye, caught his mind, and he was lost.

Isildur, three millennia and more gone from the world and from me.

And now Aragorn Isildur's heir comes again to Rivendell, to guard the bearer of Isildur's Bane. He is...beautiful, in the way of Men, as his forefather was. As I loved Isildur, so my daughter Arwen loves Aragorn. She will choose this mortal as Lúthien did; the cycle repeats.

The cycle always repeats.

I wonder, had I bound myself to Isildur, what may have been forestalled. Would he then have been able to resist the lure of the Ring? Or do I merely flatter myself in thinking so? It is no use to dwell on it. Isildur chose, though the choice was not purely his; and I chose also.

I might have slain him there, at the volcano's edge, and done what he could not. Yet I must believe that such an act of murder would have given the Ring's evil entrance to my soul, and I would have been lost. Perhaps I too would have taken it, believing only to do good, and thereby been bent to its will. For no mortal nor Elf on Middle-Earth can resist its power save its master Sauron. And even he cannot resist its call, though he does not try.

So logic proclaims. Yet my heart cries that I might have done more; that in choosing neither love nor death my inaction ensured Isildur's doom.

I will never know.