The Greatest Gift of All by Rhapsody

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Story Notes:

This story was written for Sivan as a pinch hit request for the Many Path's to Tread Yule Fic exchange 2013.

Sivan's request: I would like an angst hurt/comfort story about Galadriel, Elrond and Arwen.

Beta: the fabulous Wenont.


It was the season again, yet she could not find the joy in it as she had in her childhood. As she leaned against the marble archway that opened to her balcony, Galadriel watched how some of the Dúnedain children pelted each other with snow. The surprised yelps and unbridled laughter echoed across the lawn and gardens. She had been so innocent… once. Gingerly, she stretched out her hand and allowed some of the snowflakes to touch her. Even gentleness could be found here.

‘I just received word from the border scouts: they have been spotted close to Rivendell.’

She drew her hands back and glanced over her shoulder to meet Glorfindel’s eyes. ‘They have not been gone that long.’

‘There was not much left of her, as you know, once they are willing to surrender they will slip away in the blink of the eye.’ The tall elf solemnly mused. ‘She was weary.’

‘I can imagine. Yet she has remained strong throughout. I do hope she found her peace and love at last.’ Their eyes met and naught could be said between friends of old.

‘Can you let my granddaughter know that I am here if she needs me?’ She turned around, gathering her robes, and made her way to the table where a jug with spiced wine awaited. Sighing deeply, her hand hovered just above it and she wondered where the feeling of restlessness came from.

‘Of course, I think she will be glad to hear of your arrival, just as I have.’ Glorfindel smiled and parted with a courteous bow, leaving her alone. The news of Gilraen’s departure from Elrond’s safe haven had not come as a surprise to her. The few times that she had met Estel’s mother, she had observed the strength behind her grace and softly spoken words. She had known an adaneth like that before; only that ancestress had proud bearing bordering on ascribed aloofness. Not many knew the stronger passions that Morwen had kept beneath the many layers of her personality. To raise a child on her own, to send it into a safe haven as both had, Gilraen had succeeded where fated Eledhwen had not.

Both had searched for their spouses to find their peace, and Galadriel hoped that Gilraen had finally found hers. The destiny which Eru could bestow upon them could be cruel, and for what? To play one note in his music? Oh how she missed Celeborn now, to fight down these cynical thoughts that she had hoped to bury so deep. A rebel until the end, he would chide her, reminding her gently of her legacy that had brought her – against all odds – this far.

The door opened unannounced and, just as she wanted to express her dismay about being interrupted, her friend of old stepped through the doorway, clutching a wooden box in his hand. ‘I could not leave you alone, brooding like this, Artanis.’ The golden-haired elf immediately cut her short. ‘I left instructions for the guards, once they arrive, to notify me. And what better way to dispel thoughts of regrets over a game of chess. Or have you forgotten how to play it?’

Galadriel could not hold back a smile. ‘I think I still might remember a move or two from the elder days.’

~8~

The sharp sound of horse’s hooves clattering on the cobbles, abruptly interrupted the animated discussion between the chess players. ‘We can discuss the outcome of Indis’ gambit another time, since someone had a hard time following such basic instructions.’ Glorfindel curtly said as he pushed back his chair quickly.

‘I doubt someone fell asleep during their watch. It might as well be that they requested your guards not to alarm you, given the hour.’ Galadriel rose to her feet; gingerly stretching her legs. Many hours had gone past since they had started to play; even dusk had made way for the cold night, she observed.

‘In that case, they ought to know better,’ he answered, his head turning towards the door as the conversation started to echo through the staircase. His brow furrowed once they caught the words, “know nothing.” It was an argument he had heard all too often since Elrond’s daughter had returned home.

Galadriel did not need to venture outside her room to know who were at odds with each other, again. ‘It is still an issue, is it not?’

‘Aye, it is. We had a few orc intrusions here and there, making Elrond quite aware that Sauron has not given up wiping out the line of Isildur,’ he confirmed. ‘It is not that she flaunts it in his face, but matters between them have grown tense, ever since Gilraen decided to leave Rivendell. It feels like her departure ended all the civility between them.’

‘It is not alike them to fight so…openly. Surely, they would have argued in private.’ She soberly concluded, and wondered what Elrond had said to her granddaughter that would provoke such a reaction.

‘Aye, they did so. Pitching their own battles here and there. I hope Estel can wait long enough for Elrond to accept what will be.’ The tall elf opened the door and stepped aside for her. ‘If I know you well…’

‘That you do. Our ways will part, be it but briefly. We can finish this later, or in the morn if you wish.’

‘Do accept it, Artanis. There is no way that you can manoeuvre yourself out of this. Facing three queens with a mere ranger and your king.’ There was this sudden urge to pinch the tall elf as she had in her youth, even if it was for the smug smile to disappear.

She decided against it and slid past him, lifting her skirts briefly as she passed the threshold and into the hallway. ‘Indis in the end triumphed, did she not? But do not underestimate the steeliness of the ranger, for he might surprise us all.’

‘See you in the morn!’ he called after her, and it was a hard fight not to smile as he ran down the stairs. It would not take long before his promise would be the buzz in this house. Then, others might already have drawn their conclusions since they had spent most of the day locked inside her room. She wondered if she should ruffle her hair a bit to add more juicy bits to the gossip; thereby distracting many from the loud discussion that briefly ensued here in this house. Galadriel descended another stair and turned left to enter the maiden’s wing where her granddaughter’s room was. There she found Arwen’s lady-in-waiting, sitting outside the door, who rose suddenly upon realising who approached.

‘My lady, Lady Galadriel I mean… She told me that she wanted to be left alone.’ The young woman fumbled for words.

'She should not be alone and she will not deny me.’ Galadriel looked down upon the maid who quickly gathered her needlework and rushed off. She gazed at the closed door before her and only hoped that Arwen had not bolted the door. Whatever had caused discord in the last homely house, it had to end now.

‘I hope you have a good reason for interrupting my rare chance at a good game of chess, little one,’ Galadriel immediately said as she opened the door, catching an annoyed glare from her granddaughter.

‘You cannot compare a game to what I have seen… been through today!’ Arwen curtly interjected and fell silent once she saw her grandmother’s silent glare.

‘Do you think yourself to be one of them now? Or do you think that by a mere betrothal, one your father still contests, that you shall inherit once she passes on beyond this world?’ Galadriel allowed the words to hang between them and studied her granddaughter’s movements. Arwen still stood straight and tall, but her face softened as the mask she had willed to wear slowly crumbled. Not quite alike Steelsheen then.

‘Your father is hurting greatly, and though he may not choose his words carefully, it is his right as a doting, loving father. He can be wise and fair, but your betrothal has opened old wounds. Let that be healed first and do not argue so with him,’ Galadriel finally said, and opened her arms to her. Arwen waited, poised, and hesitated.

‘It is hard to see her so. Many say that she has wilted since her son disappeared into the wild.’

‘She did fulfil her duty, learning from mistakes of others. What else would there be left for her to do then?’ Galadriel gently prompted, yet stayed where she was when she saw her granddaughter started to cry.

‘Life here is good. We can take good care of her; make certain she stays comfortable…’ Arwen angrily wiped away her tears. ‘She would remain safe here, moreso than in some small cottage in the wilds.’

‘Who are you to deny someone to return home?’ Galadriel sharply replied. ‘Have you even considered how it must have felt to leave your homeland behind? To depart with all you have known, for a place where everyone seems to know you and you still feel like an outsider? All to protect the most important person that is left in your life, because evil brutally took your…’
Arwen had risen to her feet. Her hands clenched into fists as if she was ready to start a fight.

Yet, Galadriel would not concede to her, to pull her hurting granddaughter into her arms. To speak soothing words into her raven-black hair and simply tell her that she would take care of this matter. Those times were long in the past and, even so, there were some things that even she could not fix; albeit not without compromising the other.

‘Ai mavwen, forgive me.’ Arwen’s voice broke, yet her beloved granddaughter struggled on. ‘I know that you have said goodbye and let go all too often. Again, forgive me.’

‘You are forgiven, child, for I believe you have learnt your lesson. Gilraen will be able to take care of herself. You must allow her to choose her own path, now.’ Galadriel stepped forward and gently drew Arwen into her arms. ‘They are stronger than you think, the Edain, willful and proud. Yet the greatest gift we can give them is to let them go after all they have given.’ And may forgiveness be the greatest gift of all.


Chapter End Notes:

Author notes:
There are of course no bishops in Middle-earth. Yet the game chess is mentioned in Tolkien’s books by Gandalf and Pippin, when they discuss pawns and pieces on the board in Return of the King.

For a while, I have been pondering how the pieces would be called and I came up with the following:
Bishop: wizard
Rook: marchwarden
Knight: ranger
The rest of the pieces would keep their names, in my view.

Indis’ Gambit, is the end board of a game of chess where one pawn made it across the board and is exchanged for an extra queen. Basically, Galadriel and Glorfindel ended up playing the King’s Indian Defence Belov vs Prohorov where Glorfindel still will lose the game to Galadriel, even with three queens.


My dearest friend Wenont gave me the translation for grandmother. Thank you so much for that!



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