Arwen falls in love when she is just ten years old, with the gardens of her father’s home. She likes the smells and the flowers and brushing her hand against the petals’ silk-soft flesh.
But autumn comes to Rivendell and with it, the gardens wilt, and the flowers fall dead at her feet until she cries under the withering trees.
“Galad,” her mother says, wiping the tears from Arwen’s cheeks like they pain her. “Why are you sad?”
“I do not want them to die,” Arwen says, cradling what is left of her first love; half-hearted blooms crumbling in her hands.
“Ah,” Celebrian hums, a melodic sympathy. “What a tragedy it is, to love what does not last. How fortunate that you and I will live forever.”
But what good is living, Arwen thinks, if it causes this much pain?
Her brothers bring her yellow flowers from Lothlórien, which do not die even as they rest on her window sill for many years, but it is not the same. She knows now, what loss tastes like, and so she is not the same, either.
Arwen falls in love again when she is two hundred, in the midst of adolescence, heart overflowing with a song she cannot name. She is in Lórien with her mother and her mother’s mother, and her grandmother’s guard Eregwen.
Eregwen is silver-haired with stern eyes that feel like frost on Arwen’s skin whenever they catch her. She is tall and strong and can shoot three arrows one through the other in the time it takes to blink.
“She is also old enough to be your mother,” Elladan laughs, plucking a golden apple from the tree above their heads.
“Or grandmother,” Elrohir adds, always quick to join in teasing her.
Arwen glares at them both. “What do you two know about love, anyway?” Her brothers have had no great loves of their own, more interested in things like war and glory, fingers inching towards their swords even in their sleep.
When she confesses her love to Eregwen and gives her the bracelet she’s made from a lock of her hair, a token of her affection, the guard accepts it, as graceful and stoic as always, and her refusal is not unkind.
And when Eregwen dies later that same decade in a skirmish with some orcs, Arwen weeps bitterly into her bed sheets though she hasn’t thought of the guard in some years.
Even immortal things are unsafe, she’s learning. There is no soft place to rest her love so that it may not break.
Arwen falls in and out of love enough times in her life to lose track. For she has such a very long life, and time is a difficult thing for immortals to keep track of. It moves differently for them, sometimes stretching languidly in a century that feels like one honey-sweet summer, and sometimes falling over itself in a jumbled up rush.
She is closer to three thousand years old than not by the time she meets the boy called Hope, the false son her father brought home to Rivendell for safe-keeping, as if he was some rich trinket rather than a child.