The Song Of Sunset
3. To Save A Wedding
“What does she want from me?” Elrond asked grimly, “There is nothing she cannot ask Gil directly.”
Celeborn sighed as he averted his face, “Elrond, Galadriel wanted our only child to marry Gil, to ensure the continuity of the line of the Noldor High Kings. But now, with Gil adamant on young Erestor, she wants to ensure the continuity of your line, as you are the next in succession.”
Elrond spluttered, “Has she gone insane? She knows I’m already in love!”
“I cannot answer for her sanity, Elrond,” Celeborn said in a depressed tone, “But I must tell you that she intends to talk to Gil about your love if you don’t fall in with her wishes.”
Elrond said furiously, grabbing the elder elf’s hand and turning him around, “Why would she want to pawn her daughter’s love for the sake of the succession? And how can you speak so coolly about this? Have you thought atleast once about your daughter’s wishes?”
Celeborn said in a pained voice, “I have no choice in certain matters, Elrond. I can only say that my line seems to be doomed to loveless marriages. My child is attracted to her cousin, Thranduil. They are good friends. I agreed to tell you because I didn’t wish to be there when my wife tells her of her plans.”
“Your daughter has chosen someone more appropriate than me or Gil. Thranduil is a wonderful person, he will cherish your daughter for eternity as she deserves to be! But me? Celeborn, you will be condemning your child to live forever with a person who can never love her with all the heart, whom she can never love!” Elrond said firmly.
“Elrond, I knew there was going to be no other answer from you” , Celeborn groaned, “For the sake of the kingdom, we all have to make sacrifices!”
“Why should Celebrían and I do that when Gil hasn’t a care about heirs? Galadriel doesn’t need to worry. After all, the kingship shall certainly pass onto her descendants! Why should she pollute your clean bloodlines with peredhel blood?” Elrond wondered aloud.
Celeborn sighed, “I don’t know, Elrond, I don’t know anything. But I must warn you that my wife never goes back on her threats. If you don’t agree to this, then certainly she will ensure that there is no wedding on the day after tomorrow. You should talk to Gil before she does. Tell him everything.”
Elrond gulped, “I cannot talk to my cousin. He will never forgive me!” he continued blearily, “He might just start another round of Kinslayings. The way he looks at Erestor!” He shook off his passivity. There had to be some way out of this. He had to stop Galadriel. He turned to Celeborn who was watching the stars pensively.
“Can you lie to her for Celebrían’s sake?” Elrond asked him reluctantly wondering about his deproving moral values.
Celeborn looked at him quizzically.
“Stall her till tomorrow morning. Tell her I said I needed time to think. I am to give you an answer tomorrow morning.” Elrond begged him.
“And?” Celeborn queried worriedly, “What will you do?”
“I’ll think of something foolproof somehow,” Elrond said earnestly needing to badly believe his own words, “You have my eternal gratitude if you buy me time, Celeborn.”
Celeborn smiled wryly, “It won’t be the first lie in my marriage, Elrond. So no need for that eternal gratitude. After all it’s my child’s life. You will have the time.”
Elrond bowed gratefully and rushed back to the palace. But instead of making for his chambers, he discreetly took a seldom used corridor that led to the wing that housed the Sindar nobles. He would ask advice from a certain Sindarin prince.
He strode through the deserted corridors. Everybody must be at dinner. He knocked at Thranduil’s door. There was no answer. He tried the lock. The door swung open. Thranduil had not even bothered to lock the door. Elrond frowned. If a Sindar noble saw him entering, then Oropher would certainly go lodge a complaint with the King stating that his herald had robbed the Prince. Oh well, Elrond assured himself mentally, he was already living on borrowed time. He closed the door after him and settled himself comfortably on a chair near the brightly burning fire. Everything in the room was tastefully decorated. For someone who had been brought up by a father, Thranduil had an amazing sense of style.
The door swung open and a surprised Elrond found an equally surprised Oropher looking back at him. Elrond hastily got to his feet and bowed.
“You?” Oropher said still surprised, “How?”
Elrond was wondering what plausible excuse could he give the stunned Green wood King when a sound echoed down the doorway, “What’s it, Ada?”
“My son, come here now!” Oropher’s tone was sharp.
Elrond heard hurried footsteps and a second later, a concerned Thranduil looked across his father’s shoulder into the room.
“Elrond?” Thranduil asked surprised.
“Don’t tell me it’s one of your clandestine activities,” Oropher looked at his son reprovingly, “I thought we had agreed that you would never ever touch a virgin!”
Elrond blushed as he realized Oropher’s conclusions on seeing him in the Prince’s room.
“Ada-,” Thranduil started.
“My Lord,” Elrond hastily intervened, “I came here for no such thing. I merely wanted to speak with the Prince about an important matter.”
Oropher stared at him coldly before turning to face his bewildered looking son, “You come and see me before you sleep. We have to talk.”
“Ada,” Thranduil hugged Oropher tenderly, “I would never go against your wishes ever and I will never hide any mistake I may make from you.”
Oropher’s green eyes softened as he murmured, “I know, my son. I was merely surprised. I’ll see you tomorrow dawn. And we shall watch sunrise together as usual. Now, go to your friend.”
Elrond was shocked. Did Oropher actually refer to him as his son’s ‘friend’?
Thranduil bid his father goodnight and shut the door softly after him before ushering Elrond to a comfortable couch and placing a goblet of wine in his unresisting hands.
“Now, ,” Thranduil settled himself on the plush rug before the fire, “Tell me what was so wrong that you did not even appear at the banquet to honour our alliances?”
“I forgot about the banquet,” Elrond sighed, “One more fault to reach Gil’s ears won’t matter.”
Thranduil leaned forward wrapping his arms around his knees saying seriously, “Even my father has started to comment about your disappearances in the council meetings. You should be more careful, Elrond.”
Elrond said bluntly, “No point. Galadriel’s seen everything in that mirror of hers and now threatens to tell Gil.”
Thranduil asked stunned, “Why? If she does that the King will break off the marriage and take it on poor Erestor!”
Elrond rubbed his forehead wearily, “She wants a price for her silence. She wants me to marry her daughter.”
Half an hour later, Elrond had told the entire story to an incredulous Thranduil whose only remark was, “We should kidnap her tonight and send her to Valinor.”
“What shall I do?” Elrond said disgustedly, “I don’t care in the least about my happiness. I would do whatever Galadriel wants to save the wedding; but condemning that poor girl to a loveless eternal bond?”
Thranduil said determined, “There is a way, Elrond. But it will take a lot of courage,” he paused uncertainly, “But it may work perfectly.”
“Courage born of desperation,” Elrond muttered, “Does it involve Kinslaying with Galadriel as the victim?”
Thranduil laughed, “That will gain you Celeborn’s eternal love! But that wasn’t my idea. Elrond, get them to bind tonight.”
Elrond looked at Thranduil stunned unsure he had heard the words, “What?”
“Make them bind tonight,” Thranduil said with conviction, “Nothing Galadriel says or does can sever a Valar-witnessed bond after that.”
Elrond nodded. This would work, he was sure. But a part of his heart withered and died as he realized that with this, Erestor would entirely pass out of his hopes
“Convince Gil to come to Erestor’s chambers. I’ll make Erestor agree,” Thranduil rose to his feet elegantly, his handsome face set in determination.
Five minutes later, Elrond paused a moment to regain his breath as he panted outside his cousin’s chambers. Calming himself, he knocked and entered. Gil-Galad was in his nightshirt, seated at his window, reading a long scroll in the torchlight.
He smiled on seeing his visitor, and said warmly, “Come in, cousin! It’s been long since I had your company.”
Elrond said abruptly, “There’s been trouble among the Lórien nobles, Gil, concerning your wedding. I fear grave consequences.”
“How so?” Gil-Galad smirked, “I’m still the King around here!”
“Galadriel’s on their side,” Elrond said quietly, watching as the expression on the King’s face changed from smugness to worry.
“That doesn’t change anything,” Gil-Galad blustered with false bravado. Elrond raised an eyebrow, something he had learned from Maedhros, causing Gil-Galad to modify hastily, “But I don’t want her as an enemy. Not even that Green wood King seeks an argument with her.”
Elrond remained quiet though he was surprised by his cousin’s indirect admission that Oropher was more courageous than him. Elrond knew that it was true, but to hear Gil-Galad admit it was entirely different.
“What shall we do, Elrond?” Gil-Galad asked Elrond in a troubled voice.
“We must surprise her, Gil. She should not be given the time to gather the Sindar and the Noldor together. We have time till tomorrow sunrise,” Elrond replied steadily.
“What do you mean, cousin?” Gil-Galad said suspiciously squinting at Elrond, “I hate it when you speak in that confident tone. It usually accompanies one of you dreaded plans. I think I would rather prefer Galadriel’s wiles to your plans.”
Elrond sighed, “Cousin, I would never treat the most important event in your life with anything less than its due. And, it is not my plan, if that is what scares you!”
Gil-Galad shook his head, “I know your heart’s goodness, Elrond. But that doesn’t mean that I am not relieved when you say it is not your plan. Tell me quickly, what shall we do?”
Elrond pondered silently. If he told the King that he had to bond with Erestor tonight, the disbelief, argument and refusal would be the only outcomes. So, it was much better to convey the King to the Chief counsellor’s chambers and then count on Thranduil to come up with something. The Prince had thus far proven to be a much better strategist than Elrond.
“Cousin?” Gil-Galad asked worriedly.
“Let’s go talk to Erestor now, Gil. He may know what to do,” Elrond suggested, “You trust his advice.”
Gil-Galad queried anxiously, “You say the truth. He will know a way, but isn’t it harsh on him to solve the obstacles concerning his own marriage? He is young. I don’t want to upset him.”
“Erestor is wise for his years,” Elrond said with conviction, “And he has seen a lot worse than this and survived.”
“As have you,” Gil-Galad’s eyes softened, “You both make us all proud, and happy. And that Oropher’s spoilt brat too. You will all grow up to become great elves, leaders of our people.”
“I hope I never carry your burdens, Gil,” Elrond joked, “It will distract me from my scheming! And anyway Oropher and you are tenacious, you will both lead our people back to Valinor.”
“Such things are hidden from even Galadriel, Elrond,” Gil-Galad reminded him, “But now, let us live in the present. You go and warn Erestor. I’ll follow you after I change into something more suitable.”
Elrond hurried to Erestor’s chambers. Thranduil was busy arranging soft rugs before the brightly burning fireplace. Glorfindel was also there, lighting scented candles quickly.
“Where’s he?” Thranduil asked Elrond frantically, as he made the bed perfectly.
“Coming in a few moments. Erestor?” Elrond asked looking around the chambers.
Glorfindel spoke up, “In the bath. The Prince convinced him somehow. Though I don’t think that he is ready to take this step. He is too young and insecure.”
Thranduil said confidently, “I believe that he will manage quite well. Now let me leave before Gil-Galad suspects my hand in all this and gets cold feet. See you on the morrow.”
Glorfindel shrugged before Elrond could open his mouth and said impatiently, “I don’t blame you, Elrond, somethings are beyond our will to influence. I’ll see you on the morrow.”
Ten minutes later, Gil-Galad joined him in the antechamber.
“He wishes to speak to you alone,” Elrond lied easily. It was quite interesting how he did not feel the slightest twinge of guilt while lying to his King and cousin.
Gil-Galad cursed Galadriel before entering the bedchamber and closing the door after him.
Elrond went out into the gardens. He was panting as if he had run a long distance. Even from there, he could not block out the King’s cry of ‘Erestor’, as they bonded.
/It is just the beginning, Peredhel. Your name will epitomize loss in the history of Middle-Earth./ A harsh female voice that he recognized instantly echoed in his mind.
“Galadriel!” he spat out, “What will you know of loss?”
The voice laughed bitterly, /Ask you that of Finarfin’s daughter? I have known losses more than you could ever imagine. But, Peredhel, I am glad to say that which I have borne pale in comparison to that which you shall bear/
“I will not succumb,” Elrond replied boldly.
/Do not tempt the Fates, Peredhel, they are fickle. You will understand that one day even as I did. Until then, Elrond/ the voice dimmed away.
Elrond was still cursing softly, shaken after Galadriel’s incursion into his mind, when a pair of strong hands pulled him into a sitting position.
“Has my son ravished you so much that you cannot even sit?” Oropher’s voice brought him back to reality.
He shook himself and said tersely, “I have to leave, my Lord. I have a busy schedule.” An encounter with Oropher after an argument with Galadriel would drive him to swim across all the way to Valinor, Elrond reflected grimly.
“What is wrong?” Oropher’s voice had changed, “Should I get Glorfindel? Or perhaps I should send word to Gil-Galad?”
“No!” Elrond said panicking, “Gil must not be disturbed. I don’t want to worry him or Glorfindel or anyone else.”
Oropher’s eyes seemed to penetrate his very soul as he said gently, “You are not yourself.”
“I,” Elrond paused, Why was he opening up so frankly to Oropher? Now he realized from whom Thranduil had inherited his concern for fellow-beings, “I was simply lonely. I do feel very lonely sometimes. Especially during the onset of spring. It is when my brother sailed for Númenor.” It was a truth though only partially.
Oropher seemed to see through his deception, but swiftly changed the topic saying, “Let us watch Sunrise. Nothing like a sunrise to boost up your spirits. Though my son is asleep like an innocent elfling.”
As the Sindar King helped him up to his feet, Elrond asked nervously, “Don’t you hate me?”
Oropher smiled, “My dislike of the Noldor in general has nothing to do with my treatment of the Noldor in particular.”
Elrond was still pondering the meaning of this statement when Oropher said softly, “Loneliness is something I have suffered from greatly and I don’t want anyone else to choose it willingly.”
Elrond held his breath. Though the tragic tale of Oropher’s ill-fated love for Ingwë’s granddaughter was the stuff of lore and the tale sung widely by bards all over Middle-Earth, Oropher himself rarely spoke of Vanima.
“I thought I would die after they took her away across the sea. I could not follow her. They had left behind our innocent babe on this side of the sea. How could I follow her when our son had no sea-call yet? No boat would have carried us across. I could not abandon him here alone too. Her last request was that I be there for our son always,” Oropher’s eyes misted over, “When Círdan’s elves came to me bearing an epistle from Ingwë himself, I thought we had been finally forgiven and our love accepted. It almost killed me when the King of Aman informed me that his grandchild, my wife, had faded away in Valinor. I started fading, the call of Mandos was strong upon me, but Celeborn and Círdan pulled me back reminding me of the promise.”
“You seem so strong always,” Elrond could not help remarking, “You don’t look as if you had once reached the Halls of Mandos.”
“You see me now, strong and proud. Then I was weaker than the weakest in Middle-Earth. My son, Vanima’s son, our flesh, our blood, memories of our times together. He brought me back to the living. Each breath I took was for him, is still for him,” Oropher sighed softly, “People say I have spoilt him rotten. How can I not when I see his mother in his every action?”
“You did not spoil him rotten,” Elrond retorted, “He’s my most trusted friend. He is honourable, wise and courageous. And he respects you the most. I have always wondered at and envied the strong bond between you two.”
Oropher sensed Elrond’s sorrow and said quietly, “Your cousin loves you as a son. Celeborn always remarks on the King’s ready defence of your acts.”
“Speaking of Lord Celeborn,” Elrond said quietly, “How did you agree to him marrying the Lady Galdriel?”
“I did not agree,” Oropher said easily, “But it was between them, and only the Valar know what made them fall in love. Yes,” he continued amusedly seeing Elrond’s disbelieving expression, “They were very much in love then or the Lady was an excellent actress. I think it was Galadriel that changed. The ring changed her, the mirror changed her, the gift of foresight changed her. She is no longer the woman Celeborn wooed and wed. But,” Oropher said confidently, “She remains the woman he loves. As he remains the man she loves.”
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.