Sand and Water back to Strange Fates
TITLE: Sand and Water (1/1)
I will see you in the light
of a thousand suns
The harbor looked as it always had, a shining thing in the sunlight of the spring afternoon, as Círdan the Shipwright, late of the forces of Ereinion Gil-galad, came home to the beaches of Mithlond. The journey west had been long, full of large and small duties to perform and important people who needed attention and encouraging counsel.
He had performed the duties and given counsel and support all the way from the fields of Mordor, through the stone towers of Minas Tirith, and on to the canyons of Imladris. He had helped bury the dead - Oropher, Anarion, Elendil, and countless others - so many others. He had tried, with Elrond, to counsel Isildur away from folly, and later, by the waterfalls of Rivendell, he had held the Peredhil as he wept for his fallen lover. Then he'd gathered the remnant of his people, as he'd done after every battle since the days before the sun and moon, and come back to this sandy place on the edge of the great sea.
He'd seen his soldiers back to their families, stored his armor, and come down to the beach. All the way from the slopes of Mount Doom to here, his fourth home in Middle-Earth, strong and dry-eyed.
Now everyone had been taken care of, and he was there on the sand, alone. And where before, on every other homecoming, he had looked first at the restless sea, rejoicing at being again within the sound of those pounding waves, this day was different from all other homecomings. This day his eyes were drawn not to the shining, blue sea, but to the opposite shore of the gulf - to a tall, fair castle of gleaming stone that graced the northern shore of Lhun. A castle without an owner, its young king sent off to Mandos, never to return to its carved steps and its graceful rooms.
Ereinion Gil-galad was dead, his castle a dying dove of stone without the light and life of his presence there. And for the first time in all of his long, long life, Círdan the Shipwright fell to his knees in the sand, curled in on himself, and sobbed.
The black grief that was Ereinion's passing began deep in his belly, a ravenous hole of emptiness that reached out - down into his legs, turning them to water, up to his chest, threatening to swallow his heart, his breath, and suddenly it was there in his head, spreading black before his eyes and blocking out the sight of the castle on the cliff. He was falling, slipping away from the soft sand and the cool water that had been his constant companions in life, and all the while his sobbing grew more desperate.
Images now, of a small Ereinion, looking green and suspicious on the ship from Hithlum; curled up with a book in the library at Eglarest; hating every minute of his swimming lessons.
/What a strange, sweet child you were, Ereinion... and how much I would have missed if you'd never come to me./
A deeper spasm of grief forced its way out of him then and he saw an older Ereinion running towards him with a sword, anxious to show off a new skill he'd learned. Then, at once, the sword disappeared and there was only the young Elven king himself, standing before him, wanting to touch, and to be touched, wanting the sweet feeling of possessing someone he loved.
/Couldn't give you as much as you needed - and oh, you needed so very, very much my love... I'm sorry. Ereinion, I'm sorry.../
King Gil-galad, ruler of the prosperous new kingdom of Lindon, gathering Elves of all kindreds to him, rebuilding their people in a land wracked with changes. Charging into battles with orcs and easterlings, taking on the work of his father and grandfather, impossible though that seemed.
/What kept you here, Ereinion, on this forsaken coast? Why did you stay here instead of joining your kin in Aman? You could have been singing in the light of the Calacirya, with the dust of the Noldor's precious gems on your robes. What have you got instead...?/
The sight of the Dark Lord emerging... He had searched for the High King and Círdan had been standing beside him as the Maia had approached. The king had drawn his great spear, Círdan his sword, but before they could do anything the great, black hand had reached out and caught Ereinion in its grasp. His king had drawn in one gasping breath and then, in a flash of fire, he was gone - all of him: his shining armor, Aeglos his spear, his long, dark hair. Gone before Círdan could realize what was happening.
The shipwright was curled in a ball on the sand, hands clutching his own hair, wild grieving sobs wracking his body, when the water began to flow around him. In the back of his mind, he realized what the water meant and, with his eyes squeezed shut tight, he begged a different Maia to let him leave the pain.
/Let me go there - let me follow him. I've always been there when he had to face something new. I don't want him to be in that strange place all alone. Please... please let me go.../
But the soft, watery voice held no comfort of that sort. "It was his time... your time has not yet come. Would you come unbidden to those dark Halls? Does your grief drive you that far?"
Círdan couldn't answer, wrapped up too tightly in his own pain to know what to say. But the water circled around him, and pulled gently at the tightened limbs. A deep, soothing presence laid a warm hand over his heart and the blackness became less suffocating.
"You haven't lost him forever... He still speaks to you. All over the land he loved you can hear the song his fëa sung as it passed to Mandos. Listen carefully, Círdan. When you miss him the most you will hear his song. Wait patiently. There is still much to do, but take comfort in the knowledge that you will meet again beyond the sea.
The words worked their magic. Círdan's sobs quieted, the trembling that had threatened to overwhelm him calmed and he lay for a long time, listening to the waves, and watching Varda's stars appear, one by one, in the velvet night sky.
/My Ereinion... most radiant starlight. Your star will always shine above these sands./
Later, much later, a young Elf of the Havens came to him, there on the beach.
"Pardon, my Lord. I thought you should know that a group of travelers have arrived at the Havens. They seek a ship to take them into the West."
"Into the West?" Círdan whispered to the brightest star overhead, then turned to the messenger. "Well, then, let us prepare them a ship so that they may take the straight road and so come to paradise."
He stood, brushing the sand off of him, and let the younger Elf lead him down the beach toward the harbor.
"All alone I came into
"Sand and Water"
to Strange Fates