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Author Note: My thanks to those who responded to my request for Elvish translation advice. I greatly appreciate the assistance.
Written for the 2014 birthday of Mews.
ALL RIVERS RUN TO THE SEA
‘Come dear folk!’ she said, taking Frodo by the hand. ‘Laugh and be merry! I am Goldberry, daughter of the River.’ Then lightly she passed them and closing the door she turned her back to it, with her white arms spread out across it. ‘Let us shut out the night!’
The hobbits looked at her in wonder; and she looked at each of them and smiled. ‘Fair lady Goldberry!’ said Frodo at last, feeling his heart moved with a joy that he did not understand. He stood as he had at times stood enchanted by fair elven-voices; but the spell that was now laid upon him was different: less keen and lofty was the delight, but deeper and nearer to mortal heart; marvellous and yet not strange.
‘In the House of Tom Bombadil’, The Fellowship of the Ring
As he stood there, a strange, tingling dizziness grew in him, and he felt momentarily breathless. He quickly opened his eyes and reached out to the nearest tree to steady himself.
“Frodo,” came a soft voice, and a tall, beautiful lady with golden hair stepped out from behind the very tree he was grasping.
“Oh!” Frodo gasped. “I didn’t see you there, Lady. Do you dwell nearby?” And then he bowed deeply. “Your servant, to you and your family.”
“And I to yours, Elf-friend,” the lady said gravely. She took one of Frodo’s hands in hers, and his feeling of weightlessness increased, until he felt that he could at any moment float off above the trees. He unconsciously dug his toes into the sandy soil to anchor himself to the earth more fully.
“Fear not.” Her voice seemed familiar to Frodo, and he sought to place it. “Very few of the Firstborn ever perceive my presence, and to none of the Secondborn have I spoken until now. Your fëa is troubled, as Siriel told me would be so.”
“Forgive me,” Frodo said, confused, “but I don’t remember meeting anyone with that name.”
“Ah, but you did, and her memories of you are strong.” The lady’s eyes grew distant. “My sister made her choice long ago. Binding herself to love narrowed her guardianship to a small land, but although a great Sea and more now separate us, the waters carry her song even here, and we are at every moment less than a heartbeat from one another. Such is the same with you, and the loved ones you left behind in Endórë. Your connection to them is of the heart, and can never be broken. It will endure for now and always.”
“Of whom do you speak?” Frodo asked in awe.
She knelt, and touched her free hand to the clear water. Through the hand that still held his, Frodo felt a sudden, intense connection to this tiny brook, to all brooks and rivers, to the Brandywine far away, onward to the Withywindle, to... the smiling face of Goldberry that, even in memory, caused his spirits to lift.
“Siriel!” Frodo realized with sudden clarity. “That's Elvish for 'river daughter'!”
“We are guardians, she and I,” the lady said simply, “two of many.” She caught Frodo’s gaze, and held it. “The waters of Arda speak as one, and echo the Ancient Song. Hear their message, Frodo. To dance, to sing, to flow, to wait patiently, to rush to meet a new day, a new beginning, to swell, to recede, to nourish and be nourished… There is nothing the waters cannot teach you.” She dipped her hand once again into the water and then raised it high, smiling at each crystalline droplet as it fell. “Waters of Arda,” she murmured, “let the healing begin.”
The birdsong hushed, and everything around Frodo went silent. Suddenly, from what he had believed to be a simple brook came a bubbling, rushing pulse of sound, at once ancient and new, powerful and gentle, simple yet wise. As he stood, transfixed, a pure song of air and water and light filled all of his senses. He closed his eyes as something deep within him loosened the stinging, hard knot of homesickness. The bitter pain was softened, released into a vast and cleansing Sea.
“Enough for now,” whispered a voice. Frodo felt the lady release his hand, and the air was filled once again with the call of birds, the busy splashing of water over small rocks, the rustle of woodland creatures. He opened his eyes, feeling light and buoyant, suspended between his old home and this new one, understanding for the first time that he could draw strength from each. The Song, which for a moment had caught him up and left him breathless, had already faded in his memory, leaving behind a brilliant, slender strand of liquid gold -- a pathway linking him to the hearts of those he loved, and they to him.
Frodo looked up, wishing to thank the lady, to ask her name and if she might meet him here again, and so many other things, but he was alone. He raised his hand wonderingly, still warm from where she had held it, and remembered another hand holding his, from another time. Smiling at his foolishness, he sent a tentative, grateful thought out along the golden thread.
I will never forget you, lady Goldberry. Thank you for sending your sister to welcome me home.
And far away, among the deep woods of a small and protected land, a woman danced barefoot in the rain, taking joy in every step and twirl.
“Laugh and be merry, Elf-friend!” she called out, and the raindrops echoed her words, and the waters sped them far away over the Sea, and Frodo, his heart stirred to a sudden carefree merriment, began to laugh, his bright voice joining that of the tumbling waters below and the song of birds above. And just for a moment, he imagined that he felt a soft brush against his brow, as if a gentle kiss had been bestowed there.
** END **
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