Show Don't Tell by Fiona
Summary: Upon returning from bidding her family farewell, Arwen suffers a loss of faith.
Categories: FPS > Aragorn/?, FPS, Femslash > Arwen/Goldberry, Femslash > Goldberry/Arwen Characters: Aragorn, Arwen, Goldberry
Type: Femslash
Warning: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 2061 Read: 1195 Published: August 18, 2012 Updated: August 18, 2012

1. Chapter 1 by Fiona

Chapter 1 by Fiona
They were gone. All of them, gone. With them had fled how many thousands of years of songs and tales and companionship, how many breaths clouding under cold stars, soft boots treading forest paths and oh, how many of her kindred? They were gone, all gone.

Arwen managed to restrain herself until her husband and their company had returned home from seeing her kin off; managed to dash a kiss across Aragorn's cheek before fleeing through the darkened chambers and courtyards of the Citadel to the highest point. By this time she was crying and would have ordered the dispersal of the guards, had there been any. But they were all down welcoming back their king. Her husband.

Her only relative, now.

"What have I done?" She flung herself against the battlement and leaned out over it, letting the frigid wind scrape the tears from her eyes. "Gone."

Her words spiraled away over the White City. She remembered her words to Aragorn, seemingly so long ago. "My heart is mine to give..."

"And that's gone, too, I presume?"

Arwen whirled and for a moment thought it had all been a dream, a cruel trick, for there in the wind tossed blonde locks on a tall form.

"Galadriel?" she whimpered, tears rising again. "Grandmother?" She had come back! Now she would never be alone, never without respite from these humans and their beastly goings-on...

"No." The figure put out a staying hand and Arwen halted.

"Eowyn?" Maybe it wasn't a dream—but maybe Eowyn had come back with Faramir for some reason. Even a human woman was fine—she wouldn't understand, but she would listen. Arwen lurched forward with outstretched arms.

"Wrong again." The figure's face was indiscernible amidst the whirl of wind and hair.

Arwen tensed. "Who are you and what business do you have on the grounds of my husband?" She tried to sound haughty but her voice cracked on the last word.

"All of Gondor falls into the category of your husband's ground, doesn't it?" The figure laughed. "And if I understand correctly, his plan is to rule the northern lands as well."

"Who are you?" Arwen demanded again, wishing she hadn't foregone the usual dagger tucked into her skirts that morning. "What—"

I am perfectly well within my rights, I'll have you know. This is some way to treat a houseguest, I must admit, Queen Arwen."

Arwen moved swiftly to the stairs, only to be caught by a firm hand around her wrist.

"I am Goldberry." In a slackening of wind Arwen's elf vision caught a glint of green eyes, a spray of freckles. "And I know your sorrow, Undomiel."

"You lie!" Arwen jerked her hand free of the strange woman's grasp and fled down the stairs amid shadows, stifling sobs with a velvet sleeve. Fearing discovery, she stopped in a garden before reaching the main buildings and wept freely into her hands.

"Wretched woman! She doesn't know, she hasn't a clue—and neither does Aragorn! No one..."

"You're so quick to write off humans as insensitive."

Arwen whirled, eyes flashing. "Who are you to follow me?" She searched the darkness and seized on the familiar blonde head near a lilac bush.

"Let's see, I'm now a liar, a stalker, a terrible guest..."

Usually Arwen managed to keep her Elven calm, but this was just too much. Her kin had abandoned her to die and this human wench had the nerve to mock her in her despair. With a strangled snarl she lurched across the manicured ground, groomed fingernails outstretched to claw the flippant little chit to pieces.

At the last moment warm hands closed about Arwen's wrists, pressing and stilling her. The green eyes and freckles from the mountaintop thrust close to her face, unobscured now in the stillness of the garden.

"They're gone, Arwen."

The Elf yanked at her hands to no avail, nearly spitting in her fury.

"But you're not alone."

Arwen yowled, most unelflike, and twisted viciously in Goldberry's grip. But the other woman's hold was firm, if she did not say a word. When Arwen's furious yanks and, eventually, kicks failed to free her she let out a sudden wail and sank against the coarse cloth of the other woman's dress.

"I'm sorry...I'm so sorry..." The elf whimpered between great shuddering sobs. "Elladan and Elrohir and...my father...what have I done?"

"Shh." Arwen lacked the energy to struggle against the arms that went around her. "What's done is done."

"No..."

Voices filtered the lilac bushes and Arwen felt Goldberry tense.

"Come. This way." The blonde woman led the elf into a gap in the hedge.

"What does it matter?"

Goldberry turned, her face framed in shadow. "Aragorn would be hurt."

"I don't care."

"Well, you should."

Neither said any more as they made their way through tangled orchards and leafy bowers steeped in night, slowly but steadily distancing themselves from the searching voices. At last they came to a halt in a part of the garden most abandoned during Denethor's reign. Amid rampant grapevines and ground ivy that threatened to choke the small pool in the center of the thicket, Goldberry sat Arwen down on a crumbling bench and turned to busy herself among some roots.

"Where are we?" the Elf asked, only half interested.

"The heart of your finest hospitality," Goldberry replied, the tinkling of liquid into glasses following her voice.

"You've been staying here?"

"Yes, I hope you don't mind."

"I don't care." Despite herself, Arwen looked from pool to vines to surrounding hedge, intrigued. After a little while she asked Goldberry why she had chosen the place. "even with the war the palace is well-stocked—"

"I'm not faulting your palace or your preparedness. I simply prefer it out here." Goldberry looked over her shoulder at the Elf, face implacable in the night. "Have you drifted that far from your roots that you would question a love of leaf and limb?"

Arwen leapt to her feet. "Don't get poetic with me, woodswoman. Don't presume to know more about my heritage than I do myself. Because I assure you, you don't."

Goldberry laughed and turned back to her preparations. "Laugh, will you? Think you're the mistress of the woodland realm? I was the one who caught the king himself off his guard one night in the middle of the woods." With a start Arwen felt cool hands settle themselves on either side of her neck.

"And I was the one who watched you."

Arwen's mouth flew open in protest, the hung slack as the sunkissed fingers began to do wondrous things o her weary neck and shoulders. "What are you—" she began, but was perfectly willing to let Goldberry cut her off.

"Shh. You've had enough of the evening to dwell on yours, now let me tell my story. When I said I knew your sorrow, I meant it, Arwen."

Arwen stirred from the ripping relief of muscles long-tightened as if from a dream. "Mmm?"

"Do you love Aragorn?"

The name clicked; Arwen surfaced fully from the dream and pulled away from Goldberry's ministrations.

"Do you?" Goldberry asked again. Not demanding, merely curious.

"Why do you ask?"

Instead of answering, Goldberry wandered over to the pond, beckoning Arwen to follow. When the Elf did not, Goldberry only shrugged and stood by.

"I was strong, once. Like Eowyn." Arwen's voice filled the garden with its softness. "Have—do you know her?"

Goldberry nodded.

"I was strong like her. Hard as mithril—and as cold. It goes against convention, I know, but—I was happy, in a way." Arwen had passed Goldberry by now and was circling the pond on her own, ignoring or perhaps not feeling the ivy that clutched at her skirts. "Then my father sent me to live with my grandmother and she remarked on it. She—Galadriel, of all people!—told me I was cold and insensitive, like a Dark Elf of old. She...she let me look into her mirror."

Goldberry took a step toward her. "You don't have to tell—"

"Yes. Yes I do. What I saw there...all was dust. The trees, the rivers, even the stars—I thought I was seeing the beginning of the world, or its end." Arwen's laugh was bitter. "I thought I was being let in on the secrets of creation.

"But then the mirror rippled, shifted, showed me on a snowy slope somewhere...and I knew, I knew that I was the dust of the land and the black of the stars. That was me the mirror was showing, me in my cocoon of coldness and such...true...solitude."

Her voice broke on the last word and she pulled away from the strong arms that tried to embrace her.

"No—don't shush me! You want to know about Aragorn. Well, I panicked. Do you have any idea what it's like to know what could become of yourself? It was something to dash your mind to pieces. All thoughts, all reason...fear is a powerful thing, Goldberry, did you know that? I feared that cold future like nothing else before or since, and I threw myself at the first way out I could find."

"Aragorn."

"He was perfect! Well, even with my people's disapproval he would save me. So braved, and a king, even mortal..." The Elf halted in her circling of the pond and looked to the sky as if for forgiveness. "I made myself love him. I had to. Even to die a mortal would be better than living a life of dust. I bound my fate to his and I...felt. For him."

"You speak of the past," Goldberry said quietly.

"Because I'm not hard anymore. I'm weak, and soft, and able to feel the loss of my family, my whole world..." She spun, hands clenched, eyes leaking tears. "What if I was wrong, Goldberry? What if I was wrong and this is the life that will leave me cold and alone? So alone!"

Goldberry closed the distance between them with a bound that carried her high over the dark waters of the pool. She took Arwen in her arms for the second time that night and though she was smaller in stature she seemed to absorb the wracking sobs like a skirted matron twice her size.

"It isn't," she soothed, stroking the Elf's tangled hair and teary cheek. "Yours isn't the life of darkness and despair."

"H-how do you know?" Arwen whimpered, tilting her face up to see the green eyes glinting in the night.

"I know," Goldberry whispered, "because of this." And she bent low and brought her lips to Arwen's, the salt of tears mingling in both their mouths.

Before Arwen could say anything, Goldberry gathered the taller Elf up in her arms and plunged into the pool, gowns and all. Whether by trick of shadow or some other, subtler magic, the two of the made not a ripple on the water's surface.

When they came up for air, Goldberry was plucking busily at the laces on Arwen's dress. In the middle of this, Arwen brought dripping hands up to hold Goldberry's face, both their tresses floating about them in the pool like twin curtains, light and dark.

"Goldberry," she said.

The other woman paused.

"I forced myself to love him."

"I know."

"I still do. But not like that."

"I know."

"I don't want to..."

Goldberry cupped Arwen's face in her hands. "You won't hurt him, Undomiel. That's why I asked if you still thought about him...if it was real."

Arwen wrinkled a brow in puzzlement.

"You spoiled child," Goldberry grinned, smile taking any barb from the words, "You won't be the only one cavorting around this night."

The Elf's eyes widened. "Aragorn? With who?"

"Jealous?"

"Oh no, I just wondered—"

"The Fellowship is difficult to break," Goldberry replied mysteriously, smoothing the crease from Arwen's brow with her thumb. "Ask him yourself, if you really want to know."

"No...there's something else I want to know more."

It was Goldberry's turn to look surprised. "Oh? And what would that be?"

"Your story. You said you'd tell it."

At this Goldberry got a salty smile on her face and pulled Arwen closer in the pond.

"I don't tell my stories. I show them."

And with that she took Arwen's hand and plunged underwater once more, drawing the Elf after her.
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