Note: this story gets off to a bit of a slow start, but the background information should be worth it. Also, I depart from canon as far as the story of Beren and Luthien is concerned. For simplicity's sake, I follow the movie's course of events.

The dark-haired woman sat regally in her chair. The lines of worry and trepidation had worn their way into her face. In her arms, she clung to her child, who was cooing softly, unaware of the events surrounding her. The woman bent her head down, allowing her unbound hair to fall before her face. The infant grasped at strands, twirling them through her small fingers.

A graying man approached the two and laid a heavy hand on his wife's shoulder, rubbing circles against the cloth of her dress. He looked down at the infant, their daughter, steadily.

"It is for the best, Beren. We do not have many years left before us to raise one so small.", the woman whispered, not for the first time that day.

"I suppose that we will see her again in the end of time, my Tinúviel. The Valar cannot be so cruel.", the man called Beren replied. He reached out a hand to stroke the infant's fine red hair.

The woman pulled the child closer to her and began to rock the baby on her knee. The time was close – she had always been able to sense such things.

At the edge of the forest, an elderly man on a horse emerged. His grey hair fell long down his back, mixing with the grey of his robe. He stepped down from the tawny horse he was riding and began to walk towards the couple and the child.

"Olórin. You have come for my child?", the woman asked.

"Yes, my lady. She will be well cared for by the Valar until her time comes. This will not be the last you see of her.", the old man answered.

"And when is her time? Surely there cannot be another war over the Silmarils?", asked Beren.

"Her fight will be of a different kind. Your child need not steal from Morgoth's crown."

"Still, I present her with my sword, which I shall entrust to you until such time as she is ready to use it.", Beren continued, pulling his sword off of his belt and handing it to the older man.

"And I give her this book, which I have begun to write, and this necklace, which I have enchanted for her protection.", the woman added, passing the gifts to the newcomer.

"I am sure that they will prove most useful in the trials ahead, whatever they may be."

"So you do not know of her destiny then, Greybeard?", asked the woman.

"Not even I, one of the Maiar of which you are descended from, Lady."

The woman nodded her head solemnly and held her child close for one last time, before passing her to the old man. Her husband stretched out a hand to stroke the top of the child's head as she was passed between the two.

Greybeard looked down at the child with curiosity. She looked no different from any mortal babe he had seen. Except, of course, for her fiery red hair. How had she come by her looks? Both her parents had dark hair, common to these parts. Perhaps it was a kiss of the Valar – an endowment to allow her to stand out amongst the blur of battles. Or more grimly, a reminder of the red blood that would mark her future. The old man put the thoughts aside, they would be of no use. There were grieving parents. And the child was far from grown.

The woman grasped her husband's hand tightly for support as the old man laid his free hand on her shoulder, "You will see her again. I swear it."

"An oath from a wizard is not idly broken. I thank you, Olórin. I see that you, too, will have a great part in all of this. Guide her and do not let her forget her past."

"You have my assurance, Lady.", the old man answered, bowing slightly.

Beren stood silent, watching the exchange between the two mythical persons. His wife had given up her immortality to be with him, and now she gave up her only daughter. Their son, Dior, was half grown and eager to leave as well. Oftentimes he wondered if she would have been happier if they had never met that day in the forests, so long ago.

Greybeard turned away from the couple and returned to his horse, child on his arm and gifts stowed within his robes. He did not look back at the pair. There would be time for looking back later, now was not such a time.

The woman forced her gaze away from the retreating form of Olórin and looked instead to her husband, Beren.

"I am sorry, my Tinúviel. This might not have been…", he began.

"Do not say such things. We will see her again. There is nothing to repent, my love.", she interrupted, clasping his hand firmly and pulling him into an embrace.

It was not her small child she worried about. The wizard would fall. She had seen it in many dreams. There would be fire and smoke. What if the wizard did not survive the fiery embrace of the Balrog? What then? The fate of this world rested just as much on him as it did on her daughter. And there would be others as well. Small creatures. An elf, a dwarf. Men.

She closed her eyes. This future was millennia away and she had not the heart to tell Beren.

I woke up, burning, from the dream. I had seen the woman and her husband before. But this old man, this Greybeard, he was a new addition to a sequence of dreams that had been plaguing me for years. Maybe I should see a shrink for this. I'm sure they deal with crazies who dream of medieval families splitting up all the time. I rolled over impatiently looking at the clock. 5:32 am. Still a little early yet. I pulled myself out of bed, knowing well enough that I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep within the next hour.

Better not waste time. I could still get an early morning run in before going to work. Wednesdays were the worst day of the week. The weekend's in sight, but not quite touchable yet. Still three more days… Not that I hated my job. Not at all. Being a high school gym teacher had been my dream since I had been in high school. And, most days, it was terrific. The kids were really energetic and eager to learn. And, unlike most of my co-workers, I hardly had to grade a paper. Just the occasional quiz on health issues or game rules. No essays or research papers.

I urged my carcass out of bed and into the running gear I kept beside my bed. Well trodden shoes. Loose shorts. Tight-fitting tank. iPod strapped to my arm and plugged into my ears. This is as good as it gets at 5:40 in the morning.

I left my apartment just as the first sun fluttered through the open blinds to light up my living room. Keys in hand, I crept down the corridor to the elevator. Ten floors down to the ground. Little red numbers counted off each neighborhood I descended past.

I was the only occupant in the building's gym that morning. All the other residents probably had other things to do before seven in the morning. Like sleep. Next to their significant-others. A twinge of bitterness reverberated through me. I'd been single for years now. And for good reason, I suppose. I filled up my time with work and activities, made excuses, anything to keep me away from it all. I saw what happened when people fell in love: it would be wonderful for anywhere between a month and a year. And then priorities would gradually shift. That new promotion, the new receptionist at the office, some new hobby.

I scissored my legs back and forth on the treadmill, running at a steady pace but going nowhere. I was good at running. I'd go for half an hour every morning to warm up for the day. Nothing better than a good run to get the blood moving in your legs and work up an appetite for breakfast.

This was better than spending a lazy Tuesday morning in bed. With someone. At least I was accomplishing something more than an extra hour of sleep.

Left, right, left, right. The predictable momentum almost put me to sleep. I wondered what it would be like to run on an open trail. Growing up in the city didn't offer a lot in landscape variety. Just streets, subways, and office buildings. Everywhere. I cringed to think of what the land would have looked like before the city was built. It must have been beautiful.

I awoke to the smell of warm grass. Alive, sweet, and still carrying the smell of winter. Traces of decayed leaves were scattered through the open plain at random. It was the third morning that I had slept outside. Not strange for a soldier.

Strange when the condition of my excursion was exile. Exiled for trying to defend my sister from the vile lust of that wretched Wormtongue. The scum had been my uncle's counselor for less than a year, yet he had an unnatural hold on my uncle. Underneath his influence, Théoden had grown old and weak. Barely able to defend the space between his toes, he was charged with maintaining the defense of the Riddermark.

And under Wormtongue's influence, he had exiled me. I suppose the slimy man had thought me a threat. I was. I loathed the greasy-haired, pale-skinned, slouched man who hid behind ugly words and a thick fur cloak. I had no respect for him and had questioned each and every one of his decisions since he arrived.

And if he so much as touched Éowyn, I would gut him alive with no regrets.

I heard movement around me. One of the men was feeding the night's fire to make breakfast. Good. There were 120 men to feed – an entire eored. It was tradition that when a Marshall was banished that his entire eored should join him. I was lucky that my men were so loyal. As a high-ranking member of the Royal Family, my disgrace was greater. If any of us were caught near Edoras, we would face certain death.

I was caught between the duty to protect my men and the duty to protect my uncle and sister. If I heard anything from Edoras contrary to their safety, I would ride there immediately.

I stretched out my legs under the coarse field blanket, feeling the rub of the rough ground beneath me. Pathetic as it was for a soldier to admit, I missed my bed in Meduseld, the Golden Hall. I had slept on open ground far more often than in a safe bed. But such were these times. If the exile continued much longer, my men and I would have to make permanent lodging somewhere and store up food for winter.

What luck, then, that we had been banished from our home in the springtime!