Translation of Elvish: Estel - Hope (Sindarin name of Aragorn). Hervennen - My husband. Melethen - My love. Peredhel - Half-elven.

Chapter 25 - Vision Past and Present

Now (1 F.A.)

"Awww, look Fee, it's all melting." Kíli was staring out of the windows of his brother's room, bemoaning the snows that slowly but steadily gave way to fresh shots and the coming of Spring. The blond dwarf had tried to argue that this was the way of nature, that even their little snow fort would have to disappear eventually. But the brunette still acted as if his world was coming to an end. "Now we will have to find other ways to drag Frodo and Ori outside. They are starting to collect dust in that library of theirs, I'm telling you." Fíli rolled his eyes. It was true, the young dwarf and the hobbit were spending most of their waking hours amongst dusty shelves and old scrolls, but they spent the time together. And wasn't that what they wanted to happen?

Kíli had been very much involved in their matchmaking plans, and if he didn't know his brother was still suffering from nightmares, he would have said Kíli was bad as new. But he still woke up to hear the younger dwarf whimpering, tears streaming down his face on occasion. He was still calling out for Thorin, clearly still feeling like he'd let their uncle down. True, the dreams only haunted him some nights now, but they were still a part of him, the guilt still there. And Fíli? He was slowly coming to terms with the fact that things had to transpire the way they had; that even their deaths had been part of Aulë's plan. Aulë's and Yavanna's plan. Nonetheless, there was something amiss. He hadn't felt it before, not in all the years they spent in Aman after they woke again. But now, seeing Thorin and Bilbo, and even Frodo and Ori...a wound had opened up inside him and he didn't know how to stop the pain. Did not know what his soul was yearning for. Did Kíli feel the same?

"Fee? Fíli! Are you even listening to me?" The blond shook himself out of his musings and gave his brother an apologetic smile. "And they say I never pay attention. I'm so going to tell Bilbo." Yes, this was the dwarf he had known back in Arda; and how he had hated him at times. "Anyway, I was saying, the caravan from Tirion should be here soon, I think even the High King will be amongst them. Oh Fíli, I'm so very excited. An elven city! Right here, within reach of Erebor. No more riding through the mountains for days to get to Tirion or Nargothrond. It will be right here." Kíli's ability to grasp the obvious was truly astounding at times. It was the old "There's another way in" all over again. But at least this was the old Kíli returning, his happy go lucky brother who drove him up the wall at times.

"I'm still amazed Thorin didn't have a seizure or something like that. Whatever it is that Bilbo puts into his tea, it's working." he grinned mischievously and Kíli nodded happily. They had recently started to speak of this whole tea thing as neither of them particularly wanted to think of the things their uncle truly got up to with his betrothed. It was just wrong. Bilbo was their sweet little hobbit and not a creature of... You are setting yourself up for mental scarring, I hope you're aware of that. He was, oh dear Aulë, he was. Tea, they were simply drinking tea. Nothing else. And how do you explain that mark on Thorin's neck then? The one he displayed rather proudly at the council meeting this morning... Was it too early to drown his sorrows in mirovar?

"I overheard Bilbo speak to Elrond the other day. Not on purpose, they were in the Library and I was trying to find Ori and Frodo." Kíli's was treating him to the sweetest smile, which meant that he had most definitely been eavesdropping. "They were talking about some kind of project and I, um, found out that Bilbo would like to see parts of Rivendell rebuild no matter what." So that's what Bilbo had been so mysterious about. Fíli wondered for a second if Thorin knew, but quickly let that thought slide. Even if their uncle knew nothing of it yet, the hobbit would simply smile at the king and Thorin would see it done. "Do you think Uncle will let us help?" His brother looked so hopeful and eager to please, it almost broke Fíli's heart. The younger dwarf would show his vulnerability more readily now, especially to his family. Thanks to Bilbo.

"I don't see why he wouldn't. As long as we don't miss out on any of our royal duties, that is." Kíli's expression turned sour. "You know he won't let us get away with that. On the contrary. I've seen papers upon papers on his desk the other day and when he beheld me looking at him, he smirked. I think our dearest hobbit has plans for us that we might not like very much." His brother groaned, finally stepping away from the windows. "However, Balin has been acting strangely as well. He asked if we both could be in my rooms after the midday meal as he had something to discuss with the both of us. There are some weird things happening in our mountain, brother, and I am afraid of what it all means." He grinned and Kíli launched himself at him, tickling the blond into submission.

"As long as we still have time for our matchmaking project, I will welcome anything Uncle Bilbo has in store for us. He wouldn't harm us. At least not permanently." Fíli agreed, at least to some extent. After all, there were plenty of non-permanent ways to harm them, one of which being...tea. They were just drinking tea. Oh, but he needed to get those unbidden images out of his head, and quickly as well. His expression must have been pained, for Kíli remarked, "Are you alright, brother? I didn't break you, did I?" He meant with the tickling, so Fíli shook his head. "You're not know..." A nod this time. Kíli sighed and slumped down on the sofa next to the blond. "I so wish to have what they do. Heck, I'd even take what Ori and Frodo have. I...I feel so alone at times, and I'm so happy that I still have you. But what if you find someone? I'll be..."

Fíli shook his head, "You won't be alone, I will make sure of that. But I know what you mean. I feel...I feel envious of Thorin and Bilbo, and I hate myself for it. Eighty long years they were parted, they deserve this happiness. And yet... It feels as if something shifted only just recently, and I feel an emptiness within me that wasn't there before. As if someone flipped a lever and..."

Kíli nodded thoughtfully. "After Bilbo's accident. When I was so... Ever since then, I've felt it. A longing for something I don't know yet. Or maybe for someone?" He frowned. "Do you think there is someone out there for both of us? Well, two someones." Fíli fought down the urge to smack his brother and instead smiled at him wryly and nodded. "I guess we will just have to be patient, right? Only, I don't know about you, but I don't feel very patient right about now. I hate being envious of our uncles. But I think...I think it's getting better. It's just a dull ache now." He grinned brightly, which made Fíli frown. He felt the same ache, to his very bones and it was settling there. Surely that wasn't a good thing. They had both witnessed what such longing could do; over eighty years it had been an ever present part of Thorin, and they had both worried about their uncle.

Fíli was about to say something when there was a knock on the door and a moment later, Balin entered the chambers. "Ah, there you are." The older dwarf was carrying various bundles and scrolls, and Fíli jumped to his feet to take some from their mentor. "Thank you, thank you." Everything was set down on the desk at the far end of the room in what Fíli thought of as his study and Balin smiled at them both. Kíli had joined them and was gazing curiously at the assorted parchments and especially at the bundles. Fíli knew he was simply itching to unwrap them. "Now, you are aware that certain things will come to pass very soon and I will need your help to make sure everything happens the way it should." He nodded to himself and then fixed both the young princes with such a stare that there was nothing for them to do but to bow and chant their customary "At your service".

Then (2941 T.A.)

Galadriel first felt the call of her Mirror after she had returned to Caras Galadhon. It drew her near, and yet she resisted it, feeling within her soul that it would show her a vision of suffering and pain. Soon her mind was filled with other thoughts again, with the planning of an attack on Barad Guldur. After the Necromancer had been driven out, there was the fear and doubt that it had not been a simple human sorcerer like Saruman insisted. No, she had felt the evil, an evil she knew only too well. And more and more did she begin to agree with Mithrandir. It was Sauron. The Enemy of the Free Peoples had returned because of the failing of Men, of Isildur. But unlike Elrond, she did not think the Line of Kings had failed them altogether. There was new hope...Estel.

A small boy of ten who would one day carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. He would need all the help the elves could give him, no matter what mistakes his ancestors had committed. Mithrandir had been right. Right to chose Bilbo Baggins to aid the dwarves, right to look beyond elves and men. For weeks had she pondered these thoughts until, one day, something squeezed her heart so tightly she thought she might die from the pain. And she heard, from afar, the death cries of two young dwarves she had seen only fleetingly in Imladris. The Mirror's call was stronger than before, and she could no longer withstand it. By the time she glanced into its depth, she unwittingly witnessed a most heartbreaking exchange between King Thorin Oakenshield and the little hobbit, and she felt Bilbo's pain as keenly as if it were her own. A single tear ran down her cheek; she, who some called cold as stone. And she knew, the time had come.

She did not share what she had seen with anyone, not even her husband. Though she did tell Celeborn of the other. It would be he who had to help and assist, she felt it. "They will need you before the end. There are things that I cannot see, and that worries me, hervennen. Something is coming that is greater than us, stronger. But I feel that force will not help us defeat it. Maybe...maybe it is as Mithrandir says and we have to look even to the smallest of persons..." Celeborn had nodded, urging her to continue. "They have passed to the West now, all three of them. And their lives, their new lives, are twined with..." She could not speak the names, but her husband knew. Like he always did.

"They will be well. You have seen it, have you not?" She nodded, frowning. It did not matter that the Mirror had shown her what would be, eventually. She knew that the vision had been...foggy at best, as if the future was still undecided. Their future. "Do not trouble yourself, melethen. I also feel the shadow, but I sense that it will pass and that life will bloom once again when it does. Though...I do fear the Council is failing. Be on your guard." He was right. The Council was indeed failing. She had felt it in Imladris. One of their number would betray them before the end, though why she could not fathom. Not yet.

"Our future, the future of the Free Peoples, I feel it rests not with us anymore. It is the other races we have to place our trust in, and I am afraid that many of us will be reluctant to do so." Her son-in-law was one of them, and Thranduil of Greenwood. Elrond had been witness of Isildur's greed and Thranduil... She hoped that before the end, he would be able to overcome his hatred of the dwarves. There was evil in Erebor, even now that the dragon had been defeated. Evil and yet...evil it was not. It was confusing her, and she did not like feeling this way.

Celeborn embraced her then, "Be strong for our people and know that whatever you decide, you will have my support. As always." She smiled, almost shyly. They had lived for millennia by each other's sides, and yet her husband could still make her feel like a young elf-maiden. "And do not trouble yourself with thoughts of that which you cannot change. Their fates, as you say, are twined. As are their hearts, unbeknownst to them as that may be. We can only hope that it will stay this way for a long time yet so they will never face the choice we had to make so often." The choice between duty and love he meant. She nodded and then kissed him and her heart was calmer, the fear fading away until all that remained was a mere memory. But she knew it would return to her thoughts, eventually.

Now (1 F.A.)

"So he truly wishes to rebuild Gondolin?" Elrond nodded, and her laughter rang throughout the peredhel's chambers. "It truly shall be a Stone of Song this time, or rather of many songs, for it will not only be the voices of elves that will sing. There will be dwarven song also, and the merrymaking of the hobbits." She smiled brightly, gazing at her husband and her mother. Elrond still marvelled at how changed Celebrían was; all the pain that had been in her eyes after her ordeal gone from her gaze now, and they shone once more with love and affection. And mirth at this moment. "Who would have thought it possible? But if anyone could have achieved it, it is Turgon."

Surely not Thingol was what she was truly saying, but there was no need to speak of the blond. They all shared the same opinion where he was concerned. "I do believe that Bilbo had a hand in it as well. It most definitely was not our Balrog Slayers, no matter what they might tell you. All they did was tell me and Erestor. And then confuse matters by allowing Bilbo to think they had not even told me. I only just noticed this yesterday when I was speaking with our dearest hobbit." He had been debating leaving Bilbo in the dark and thinking that Glorfindel and Ecthelion had been cowardly to the point where they had not told Elrond either. But he had decided on the truth, and the halflings laughter had made it worth it.

"Oh, speaking of Bilbo, he told me that Ori was looking for a translation of the Lay of Lúthien and I offered to assist with it." She got to her feet then and, placing a kiss on both her husband's and her mother's cheek, she left the rooms they currently called their own.

"She seems happy, Elrond, I am glad. Too long have you missed her." He nodded with a sigh. "I know what troubles you. But my daughter knows, and accepts. She will never see Arwen again, and it hurts her deeply. But she has you by her side again, which gives her the strength to weather even this tempest." Her eyes caught his as she asked, "Have you spoken of it? Of what happened to her?" They had, though Elrond would sooner forget about it all. For her to endure all that, alone without him by her side to protect her...he still blamed himself, and knew that Elladan and Elrohir did so as well. Galadriel smiled. "Your sons will reach here soon enough, and when they do, all will be well."

"But not for a while yet. You have seen it, have you not?" She smiled mysteriously, and he sighed once more. "They will not forsake their sister, and you know it. They will stay in Imladris until after..." He could not bring himself to even think about it. His beautiful daughter, Undómiel. She was beyond their reach now, forever. She would fade, would die, and the world would grow darker for her passing. And yet, there was new light in his life, or rather renewed light. His wife was with him again, and maybe one day there would be another sparkling ray. Not to replace Arwen's fading light, but to honour her memory.

"What will be, will be, Elrond. I know that much even without my Mirror." She placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and gazed at him. "Arwen had to follow her heart and even Aman would have been no solace to her. She will forever live on in our hearts. And still she lives, and there will be more life before death takes her from us. Although I feel that even the race of man have a place where they can be after their life in Arda is ended. Arwen will be with Elessar again and we shall have peace within our hearts." Did she really believe that? He hoped, oh how he hoped.

"I have seen something else as well, and I am sure that you have, too." She nodded, frowning. "Their feelings have awoken, Galadriel. How long do you think will they endure until the longing becomes too strong? Even the House of Durin has its limits. What if they are too late?"

She shook her golden head, "This is the plan of the Valar. And they do not make mistakes. Fíli and Kíli are stronger than you think." She inclined her head. "You know this to be true." He thought he knew, yes. But after Bilbo's accident... "It only shows how much they love the hobbit, nothing more. Kíli will not break, and neither will his brother. And all their wounds will be healed in time. Just as they will be a soothing balm..." Elrond walked to the tall windows and gazed outside. She was right, as always. In time everything would be resolved. And if there was something they had aplenty now, it was time.