“You were not in time to bid them farewell?” Arwen asked of her husband as he stripped out of the worn, green riding leathers he’d donned once he knew that so many of those he loved were readying to sail West at last and that he’d worn on the desperate ride northward, hoping against hope to arrive in time to see them one last time ere they left Middle Earth.
He shook his head, his exhaustion plain. “No. Roheryn lamed himself as we rode through Rohan, and it was not until Éomer found us and gave me leave to ride one of the stallions from the Royal Herd that I could go at speed once more. But they had arrived in the Shire while I was still days south of the Sarn Ford, and had reached Mithlond ere I could turn west. When at last I came within sight of the Havens the ship was already several days at sea. But I felt it as the ship found the Straight Path and left the bounds of Middle Earth, and I saw the light shining in the western sky.”
He sighed as he pulled his shirt off over his head and threw it toward the basket set to receive his garb. “Now,” he continued, “we must trust others to care for them. It will be the Valar and their Maiar that will receive them and sustain them now. It will be the reunions they know with those already on Tol Eressëa and elsewhere in the Undying Lands that will restore their souls and assure them that they are where they are now meant to be. It will be the beauty of Valinor that will fill their senses and prepare them for the new lives set out for them to know.”
He held out his arms to her and drew her close to him. “They each left letters for me, Vanimelda—Adar, your daernaneth, Gandalf. They have entrusted you to me, and have charged me to be an example so that when your time comes to leave the Bounds of Arda you will trust enough to find peace even as I expect to find it. They have given me to know that they trust me to love you as deeply as they would, were they here to show you each day how much they still adore you. They trust me to love you enough that you do not languish now that they are gone.
“Our adar, the Lady, Frodo, Gandalf--they have entrusted Middle Earth to our care. Let us do as well by it as they have hoped we should, as they prepared us to serve both lands and peoples. Together I trust that we can do much to restore the Mortal Lands to the pattern they were designed to fill. Now, can you trust yourself and me to follow the paths set out for us to travel together, to fulfill the purposes set before us now?”
She smiled up into his eyes, although he could see traces of tears in her lashes. “With you by my side I will go forward indeed in trust. I will always miss them. But I trust that with Naneth by his side my adar will find enough joy to help him sustain the loss of my company, and that my daernaneth will be glad to return with these beside her to the love of her own family. Yes, beloved husband, I trust that we will accomplish at least most of what we might hope to achieve.”
Then she straightened. “Now, my husband, I trust that the bath I ordered has been drawn for you, for you will not be fit for gentle company until you have rid yourself of the sweat of days in the saddle. Go now, and return to me clean and fresh. I trust you can accomplish that?”
Laughing, he kissed her deeply, and turned toward the bathing room, trusting their attendants had set out suitable clothing for him to wear ere they went to dine.