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Father's Wish, A: 11. Chapter Eleven
Year 110 of the First Age
When Nurwë finally came to her, she had been in the middle of harvesting season. Under her care, southern Ossiriand had flourished even more, and the bare lands had been coaxed to bring forth ample grains and vegetables. Helping her had been many Green-Elves. From them, she learned their languages and customs, and she learned that their brethren still dwelt over the mountains.
Nurwë did not look like what she had expected. Some part of her assumed that his hair would be white like Cirdan’s, and his face would be lined from all the trials that he had suffered. She had thought that his hair would be as black as his sons, and that they would share the same eyes. But Nurwë was none of those things. His face was as youthful as hers, and his hair was a startling brown. Furthermore, his eyes were of a similar shade, and they betrayed very little of the man inside. His eyes did, however, show his true age to her. They were like Ingwë’s – deep, ageless, and wise, and he seemed to contain the same strange wisdom of suffering that Elwë lacked.
The king did not stay long, but he had confided to Artanis that his own death was imminent. “Too long have I avoided death, for I have been reluctant in leaving my own people. But the times are changing, I can smell that in the winds. I have no place in the new world that is about to be forged – most of the old ones do not.”
It was also in these days that Glorfindel journeyed to see her. He arrived in the middle of the rain season, yet his arrival brought a respite to the downpours, and for the first time a few days, Artanis had glimpsed the sun. He arrived arrayed in his golden armor, a sight so magnificent that many of the Green-Elves speculated that he was of the Minyar. After the formalities had been done with, and his men settled, he had pounced on Artanis and proceeded to keep her occupied for the remainder of the afternoon.
Afterwards, comfortably reclined on Artanis’s simple bed, he reached over and grasped a pouch that he had put there earlier. “I have much correspondence for you,” he said as he unceremoniously dumped the contents onto her lap. Artanis eagerly dived into the pile while Glorfindel watched on with a smile. “Several letters from your brothers, a few from Fingolfin and Fingon, more from Aredhel, and some from Doriath.”
“Yes, Melian sent her letters to Finrod, who kindly forwarded them to you. I believe you also have a letter from Celeborn.” He placed that particular letter in her hand.
A frown appeared on her face. “I do not think I will read it.”
He gave her a chastising look. “That is rather childless of you. Regardless of the words that have passed between the two of you, you should not allow it to ruin a good friendship.” Glorfindel tucked some of her errant strands of hair behind her ear. “Besides, I find that his anger is justified.”
“He assumed that I was also a Kinslayer! He assumed. He did not even ask.” Artanis looked at the letter broodingly.
“What else was he to think? And as you offered no words in your defense…Artanis, being silent is another way of agreeing.” He stood up, and his naked form gleamed in the sunlight from the window. “And in a way, you are no more innocent than the sons of Fëanor.”
“You know?” she breathed.
He nodded. “Oh yes. I know that you knew that Fëanor was going to burn the ships.” He smiled sadly. “We may not share any sort of spiritual bond, but at times you allow your mental defenses to slip, and some things are easily picked up by someone who has shared your bed for over one hundred years.”
Her throat tightened, “Glorfindel, I-”
He held up his hand. “There is no need for you to explain yourself to me now, meleth. I imagine that you had a good reason to keep silent.” He slipped on a robe. “And perhaps that is why you did not defend yourself to Celeborn – because you also share in the guilt. And while I understand this, I also ask that you reveal the truth one day. All of us who suffered because of it deserve to know why.” He smiled sadly again. “And perhaps my empathy for Celeborn is for different reasons as well.” He tossed her a dress. “Clothe yourself, Lady, for my time here is running short, and I would like to speak to you.”
This change of subject prevented Artanis from asking what Glorfindel had meant about his empathy for Celeborn. Quickly donning some clothes, she followed him to her small garden. “What is troubling you?”
“Your cousin Turgon has been constructing his own hidden kingdom.”
“I know very little about it.” She sat down on the bench next to him.
“I wish that we had no need of such places,” he sighed softly. “When the city is finished being built, I shall be accompanying your brother to his hidden city.”
Her heart grew cold. “I see. Then we will be parted.”
He shook his head. “No, that is why I came to you. Come with me, Artanis,” he pleaded. “Marry me. Live with me fully as my wife.” The sincerity shone in his eyes.
Artanis’s heart hammered. She greatly desired to accept. The thought of marrying seemed very pleasing to her at the moment, as did the thought of having children – golden-haired, green-eyed ones with mischief dancing on their faces. And while they had not reached the all-consuming love that many others did, she did not doubt that over time, they could. But was war a good time for such things? Would she be able to dwell in a hidden city, cloistered away from the very events that she had played a role in? Could she stand by and watch Glorfindel go off in danger while she remained behind? For that was what would happen – she knew both Glorfindel and Turgon too well to believe otherwise.
“You do not accept…” he trailed off.
“I want to,” she said firmly. “I really do. Nothing appeals to me more right now than to wed you. But you know as well as I do that this is not the right time. I am needed elsewhere. And I promised Fingolfin, just as you have promised Turgon.”
He turned away from her. “It is just as well then, although I had hoped otherwise.”
She reached out a hand to him, but he did not accept it. “So then we will be parted.”
“Yes.” Suddenly a great weariness seemed to come upon him. “I will remain within the hidden city until such time that we must reveal ourselves. That could be many years, Artanis.”
“What is to happen to us now?” she whispered. Life without Glorfindel was unthinkable.
“I do not know.”
Year 115 of the First Age
“So you have finally found the decency to visit your brother,” remarked Finrod over dinner. Last week, Artanis had arrived in Nargothrond with the vague explanation that she wished to see the now completed kingdom.
“Against my better judgment,” she shot back. “I have been here for only a week and already you are driving me mad with your questions.”
The fire glinted in Finrod’s hair. “Can you blame me for being curious about the Avari? Do you remember how Grandfather Olwë would never speak of them? At least now we know why.” He leaned forward. “But you should be careful with them. Thingol does not trust them.”
“He does not trust us,” she snapped. “Have you already forgotten that he did not tell us the truth of the Orcs?”
He shook his head. “That changes nothing. Regardless of where the Orcs came from, they are still our enemies.” Finrod sighed. “As much as it pains me – and you know it does – I cannot go around trying to redeem fallen Elves when the ones that haven’t fallen are in so much danger. And the Avari…I am concerned about them.”
“They are mistrustful of us, as they have a right to be. They fear we are like Melkor.” She gripped his hands. “ We must earn their trust, and the only way to do so is to show our good intentions with deeds. Once we have their loyalty secured and can offer them protection from the evils that plague them, perhaps they can live among us.”
Finrod smiled. “I thought that I was supposed to be the idealistic one.” But Finrod was not idealistic, for he too had submitted to the painful reality of the Noldor. He had sworn his own oath that he would not sire any children.
“Perhaps your bad qualities are rubbing off on me,” she said in an attempt at levity.
But the amusement vanished off her face. “I have heard of your separation from Glorfindel.”
She did not meet his eyes. “Perhaps this parting was long overdue.”
“I had hoped otherwise,” he confessed. “I had hoped that out of all of us, you would be the one to find peace here. But it seems that the wishes of a foolish brother have no place on Middle Earth.”
“How could that be, as long as I am still bound to Fëanor? My ties to him are that of treachery, and they are not easily absolved.”
“You will not tell me…?”
She shook her head. The time was not yet ripe.
Year 175 of the First Age
The attack had come suddenly, but thankfully Fingon and his warriors had become aware of it in time. They intercepted Morgoth’s host as it came down the Firth of Dengrist. Apparently the dark Vala’s plan had been to come into Hithlum from the west, but Fingon was a valiant warrior, and under his command, the Orcs were driven into the sea.
News of this reached Artanis in Ossiriand, and using this battle as an excuse, she again traveled west to Hithlum. There she would be able to visit Fingolfin and Fingon, see her brothers again, and, if the circumstances were ripe, go to Doriath. The letters from Melian had been coming in increasing amounts, and Artanis admitted to herself that seeing Melian would be a good idea.
But Celeborn had sent her no correspondence save the first letter he had sent through Glorfindel. It had taken Artanis a long time to read it, and when she did, she had grown despondent. Celeborn had apologized for his assumptions, and he expressed the desire to renew their friendship.
Artanis had not replied. It was a discussion that would be better suited in person.
Thus she returned to her kin in the west, and Fingolfin grew overjoyed at seeing his niece again. “Now that Aredhel has vanished with Turgon, I have missed female companionship,” he had admitted over their morning meal. And while Fingolfin had never been a father to her as Fëanor had once been, she did draw comfort from him.
If the truth were to be told, Artanis was lonely. Years had passed with no word from Glorfindel, and she missed his presence keenly. Even when they had been parted before, it was not the same. Now he was forbidden to seek her out. It was this loneliness that caused her to go to Menegroth finally, for the first time since she had left almost a hundred years ago. The mistrust between the Sindar and Noldor still existed, yet it had tempered down because of necessity. Morgoth was as ever increasing in his wiles, and now the two kindreds needed each other.
It was with great gaiety that she was welcomed back to the Halls of Thingol. Luthien had run out to greet her, with Melian following at a more dignified pace. Even Thingol and Galathil had been there. Celeborn and Galadhon were missing, but Artanis forced herself not to think of it. “Greetings to you, your majesties.”
“And to you, my child,” said Thingol kindly. “I am sorry that you have delayed so long in coming back.”
“That should teach you to keep your temper in check,” scolded Melian lightly. “How long will you be staying?
Artanis fell into step between the king and queen, with the others following a few paces behind. “Not very long. A month, at the most.”
Melian gave her a disapproving look. “Why so short a time?”
“My home is in Ossiriand, and I have duties there.” She allowed a fond smile to touch her face. “I have grown quite fond of the forests and the plains.”
Amusement lit the queen’s features. “I believe that she has become a wood Elf.”
Chuckling, Artanis was led to her rooms. Soon a bath was prepared for her, and some fruits were sent to her in order to tide her over to the next meal. But as she was drying her hair, a slender woman entered the chambers. “Ahh, Linneth! How nice it is to see you again.” Galathil’s wife had not changed since Artanis had last seen her.
Linneth gave the older woman a shy smile. “Hello, Artanis. I am glad that you have come – at the perfect time.”
“Perfect time? What happened?” asked Artanis with no small amount of confusion. “And where are Celeborn and Galadhon?”
She looked shocked. “They have not told you…” When Artanis shook her head, Linneth gave her a sympathetic glance. “Galadhon was killed in a skirmish in the north a week ago. Orc poison.”
Artanis sat down on a chair. “And Celeborn?” she asked fearfully.
“He removed himself to his mother’s house.” Linneth took a hold of Artanis’s hands imploringly. “He is so very upset, and the king fears that Celeborn may die of grief.” Tears welled in Linneth’s eyes. “Neither of the brothers reached Galadhon in time. Celeborn blames himself for that.” Giving Artanis a pleading look, “Please, will you bring Celeborn back? He will listen to you, I know he will.”
Artanis shook her head sadly. “I do not think so. We parted on very bad terms.”
Regardless, Artanis found herself at the flet the next day. She had been reluctant to come; yet she could not deny the fact that she too was very concerned. So it was with trepidation that she entered the flet and sought him out. After much search, however, she had been unable to find him. Thinking the worst, she began to search for him in the woods.
When she found him, he was quietly sitting upon the branch of a tree a little ways away. She tried to approach him as quietly as she could, but as she had less experience with stealth than he did, he turned to look at her. The surprise that flashed across his features had quickly given away to wariness. “Lady Artanis,” he said formally.
She wrung her hands behind her back. Had their comfortable relationship regressed? “Lord Celeborn,” she acknowledged with the same stiffness.
Her lightened when she saw the tiniest glimmer of humor in those silvery eyes. Perhaps he too found their awkwardness amusing. “How may I be of service to you?”
“I have come to see you,” she said softly. “Linneth told me of your father,” and here she faltered.
“It is of no matter, Lady. It is an event long past.” He sat back down on the mossy ground.
Climbing up the branches with a little difficulty, she finally perched next to him. “No, it matters very much. Celeborn,” she said using his name, “You forget that I too am fatherless. My father is as good as dead to me, for I shall never see him again in this life.”
“Your grief is not any less than my own. I am sorry.” He ran his hands over the bark. “My father and I were never close. Many times I resented him for fostering me with Thingol while keeping Galathil with him. But now that he is dead, I find myself wondering if I did not do everything in my power to get there on time. Something unconsciously.”
“That is not true, Celeborn,” she interjected gently. When he raised a disbelieving eyebrow in her direction, she elaborated. “In my lifetime, I have wished many people ill, not the least of all my father. But suffice it to say that I realize now how much I love him, even if I still disagree with much of what he did.” Artanis clasped her hands on her lap. “A curse and exile separates me from apologizing to him. Had I the opportunity, I would fall to my knees and beg for forgiveness. In my loyalty to politics and passion, I had forgotten the most important one – the loyalty of love.” A small sigh escaped her. “My brothers also left Middle Earth, but they left with the blessings of our father. They did not dishonor him as I did. I spoke cruel and unforgivable things to the one person who has ever loved me unconditionally.”
Celeborn eyed her sympathetically. “Surely it is not as dire as you make it out to be.”
Artanis smiled sadly. “In the case of the Noldor, it always is.” Turning her face to him, “You parted with your father on good terms. And whatever disagreements that you two may have shared, the bonds of family have always superceded it.”
“Artanis, why did you not respond to my letter?” he asked suddenly.
“The letter…” she trailed off. “I wanted to address the issue in person.”
“Must I apologize again? I fear I will not be as eloquent as I was in the letter.” His countenance was now lightening with a trace of his old humor.
She waved her hand in the air. “No, it is I who must apologize. The deception was, while not of my choice, something that I accepted and thus take full responsibility for. And while I am no Kinslayer, I am many other things, Celeborn. And I did deserve your anger, even if it was misdirected.”
She nodded. “Many secrets, some of which will never be revealed. It is but another fruit of Morgoth’s treachery.” Changing the subject, “Will you not return to Menegroth with me?” When Celeborn looked uncertain, she pressed on. “I only arrived in Doriath yesterday, and I confess that I have not fully recovered from my travels. Then I came here in order to seek out whom I hope will return being my friend. So now I find myself wearied from lack of food, rest, and peace.” She gave him an imploring glance. “And since I promised your sister-in-law that I would return with you or not at all, my fate is now in your hands.”
He chuckled softly. “You could simply stay here with me for a few days. Unless you have forgotten how to live in the trees again.” A teasing smile. “You are a stone-dweller.”
It was on the tip of her tongue to point out that she had dwelt with Green-elves for the better part of the century when she realized that his teasing was his attempt to lighten his mood. “I have learned a few things,” she said archly. “Perhaps I will remain a few days here and show you that I can now construct a ladder. If you return me with, of course. Such is the price of my company.”
“How very Naugrim-like of you,” he commented dryly. “But yes, I will return with you. I suspect that my presence has been missed.” Shaking her head, she climbed down. At least his arrogance was still intact.
They remained in the flet for three days, and then they returned to the city. When they had arrived within the city gates, his entire family had run out to greet him. Ever the outsider, Artanis stood aside while Melian, Thingol, Luthien, Galathil, and Linneth. Seeing that her presence was forgotten, she left the group and quietly made her way to her rooms.
Time passed in Doriath swiftly, and the day of her departure approached far too quickly. It was easy for her to forget the wars outside the kingdom, for Menegroth was its own world. Too often it was easy to pretend that Morgoth simply did not exist, and the horrible wars had never happened.
But then she would see Thingol’s war parties leaving the city. She would see Celeborn and Galathil dressed in armor, and she would receive letters from her family.
Then her fantasy would collapse.
In his most recent letter, Fingolfin had written that Turgon, Aredhel and Glorfindel were well in their hidden city. Often she would think of her golden-haired lover and wonder what would have happened had circumstances been different. She knew that had they remained in Aman, they would have been wed long ago, and there would have been children at their feet. How sad it was for her to acknowledge that such an opportunity was gone.
Artanis spent much of her time with Melian, and when the chance presented itself, with Celeborn. Their friendship had deepened, and she found herself glad that she had made his acquaintance. Celeborn was an exceptional Elf, and in him she found an excellent companion.
One of her troubles was the issue of her name. Her name was in Quenya, the language the Thingol had forbidden in his kingdom. Thingol himself referred to her as “my grandniece,” while Melian called her “little one.” Luthien and Linneth simply called her “princess.” Only Celeborn called her Artanis but never in public. Then, she was “Lady.” This matter came to a climax when one of Thingol’s subjects, an Elf more vehement toward the Noldor than the others, demanded that something be done with the name Artanis. The Elf suggested that either she take a new name or allow someone else to give her one.
This upset Artanis to no end, for her name was the one part of her identity that she did not wish to shed. Already she had stopped speaking her beloved Quenya for the more rustic Sindarin, and she had adapted much of their customs as her own. To have her name stripped from her was something that appealed to her not at all.
It was Celeborn who had counseled her on this. “As you dwell outside of Doriath for much of the time, your own name will still be used. Quenya is spoken outside of this kingdom, and thus only here will you have to suffer from this.”
“I do not know what to call myself. The translation of Artanis from Quenya to Sindarin does not appeal to me, and to give myself another name seems presumptuous on my part.”
Celeborn hesitated, and then, “Perhaps you would allow another to offer you a suggestion?”
His cheeks pinked becomingly. “I remember that when I first met you, I found your name inadequate. Thus I renamed you Galadriel – a prerogative undeserved on my part.”
“Galadriel,” she whispered. “It is a lovely name, a name that I am not worthy for.”
He shook his head. “I would say otherwise.”
“Then I shall be Galadriel here, and I shall wear the name with great honor.”
A week before her departure, Galathil had been sent scouting near the Nan Durgortheb, the region between Doriath’s northern borders and the mountains of the Ered Gorgoroth. A fear-filled region, almost everyone avoided travel in those regions, yet at times the circumstances were needful, and the horror of those lands needed to be dealt with. Because he was unsure of when he would return, Galathil sent Linneth back to Menegroth from their village home in the north.
Artanis was rising from sleep when Linneth arrived early in the morning. As she was getting dressed, she looked out her window and was awarded by the sight of several riders approaching the gates of the palace. Going to the balcony, she saw that Thingol and Celeborn were waiting for them. As soon as Linneth dismounted, she was embraced by Thingol. The king then drew one of the messengers away as they conferred while Linneth simply flung herself into Celeborn’s open arms. “Thank the Valar for you, Celeborn.”
Artanis was rewarded by the sight of her friend who had never been a rock for her to lean on, now standing as firm as granite for Linneth, his body supporting hers, as he rocked her like a child, his voice soothing as he whispered comfort into the disheveled head of his sister-in-law that was pressed against his shoulder.
Artanis backed away from the window as she painfully remembered all the other times Celeborn had protected and comforted Linneth. Celeborn then stepping in to shield Linneth from the malicious gossip in the early days of her marriage to Galathil. Celeborn going to fetch her all the way from the Falas, worrying for her safety when Galathil was away with Galadhon. Celeborn staying up the entire night with her when she was queasy with a stomachache. Celeborn now, as he offered her his strong shoulder for her worries and tears, as well as his warm, protecting arms for her reassurance, both of which he had never offered to Artanis.
And through the layers of pity, of remorse, of tolerance, a new emotion stirred within her. Jealousy and possessiveness. It was a completely new to her, for even in the days when she was with Glorfindel, she had been quite content to share him.
Troubled by these new feelings, she sought out the peacefulness of the gardens.
A week later, she left Doriath – and she firmly put aside such unwelcome and troubling feelings.
- Galadriel is the epesse that Celeborn gave to her. It means “woman crowned in radiance.”
- Next chapter: Finrod stumbles across men for the first time.
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