Celeborn and Galadriel
Playlist Navigation Bar
Fire and Light: 2. Chapter II
He fell to his knees before her,
and Galadriel, hurrying forward to help him to his feet, knew that she was
probably the only child of Iluvatar for whom Celebrimbor would show such
Accepting her offered hand gratefully,
Celebrimbor leaned on her heavily when he stood. She could see the exhaustion in his steely eyes.
“Eregion?” she asked softly.
Celebrimbor closed his eyes. “Celeborn is holding it. The scholar makes a fine warrior and a
better commander, when he’s called to it.”
Galadriel felt something within her
relax, knowing that, a little while ago, her husband had been well.
“He sends his love, but I’m afraid
it’s gotten all tangled in mine along the way,” Celebrimbor told her, an
amused, almost sweet smile pulling at the corners of his mouth as he opened
Galadriel returned his gaze, her
“I have come for your counsel,
lady,” he stated, straightening, and letting go of her. “And with a gift.” He raised a hand to his chest, pressing something strung on a
mithril chain under his shirt against his skin. “How did you know?” he asked her softly.
“How did I know what?”
“That Annatar… was not to be
Galadriel shrugged. “I didn’t.
I felt it. Too many years with
Melian, I suppose.”
“Or perhaps just enough. Things could’ve been worse, had it not been
for the seed of doubt you planted in my soul.”
His hand went back to the chain around his neck. He turned his eyes back to her, and smiled
unexpectedly. “Before I ask your
counsel, I must give my hostess a gift, almost worthy of her.”
Celebrimbor unfastened the chain
from around his neck, and pulled it out from his shirt. Strung on it were three rings, twinkling in
the candlelight. Celebrimbor let them
drop from the chain into his palm.
They were beautiful.
This was only natural, since
Celebrimbor had obviously made them.
Galadriel knew her cousin’s work – it was sometimes a great deal too
like her uncle’s for comfort.
am not Fëanor…
Galadriel knew this to be true, although
Celebrimbor’s eyes assured her otherwise at times. Celebrimbor had spent a lifetime trying to atone for the folly of
his father, and his father’s father, and to prove their glory to any who cared
to see. Celebrimbor believed in the
glory of the Noldor, in a time when most of the Noldor had long abandoned
Who was Fëanor, after all, but the
greatest of the Noldor? The
Kinslayer. The Maker of the Silmarils.
is it always three? Galadriel wondered irrationally.
“He called them ‘Rings of Power’
when he taught us of their making. And
in our vanity we sought to make them as gifts for the Three Kindred of Arda
Marred. And three seemed appropriate
for the Firstborn.”
“Noldor, Vanyar, and Teleri?”
“Fire, air, and water,” Celebrimbor
agreed. “Narya, Vilya, and Nenya.” He extended his hand towards her, offering
her all three. “Who better to bear them
all, than a child of Finarfin and Eärwen, in whose veins flows the blood of all
“Celebrimbor, their maker,” she
suggested, making no move to accept the rings.
“Celebrimbor the fool, you mean,”
he retorted, raking his fingers through his raven hair.
“No,” she replied easily, “that’s
not what I mean.”
“Perhaps Celebrimbor the
proud? Or… Celebrimbor the vain? Personally, I think fool sums it all up
Galadriel interrupted his words by
reaching out to take his hands, and closing them around the rings again.
“Celebrimbor the fallible,” she
suggested. “There is no shame that he
tricked you. By Elbereth’s stars, he
tricked Manwë himself! No one condemns
you for it.”
“I do,” he replied, eyes hard. “And I have lied to you, my lady…”
Galadriel blinked. “On what matter?”
“There is no opinion that I value
more than yours. But whatever counsel you
give, I shall return to Eregion. And I
shall either save my people, or die with them.”
Galadriel squeezed his hands
He seized the wrist of her right
hand, turned it over, and placed the rings in her palm.
“You must take them. If I keep them, they may fall into Sauron’s
hands at last.”
Galadriel gazed at them, already
feeling the throb of their power as they touched her skin.
red-stoned one on her right hand, and the blue and white ones on her left…
the murderer of her brother threaten the lives of others? Maia, was he? She did not fear Sauron the Maia, or his legions of twisted,
tortured Quendi. Sauron would join his
Master in the Abyss, and the orcs she would obliterate. Celeborn would never again have to go
through the pain of killing an orc.
“Celebrimbor, you do your work too
well. I cannot bear them all,”
Galadriel gasped, almost dropping the rings.
“Then choose one. And give the others to whomever you wish.”
They lay in her palm, equal in
beauty and power, and nothing alike.
“I have fire enough of my own,”
Galadriel said, smiling a little.
“Perhaps too much. And wind
might fan it. So…” She lifted the
silver one, which embraced a white gem like a star, and moved, as though in a
dream, to place it on her finger.
Celebrimbor stilled her hands. “No.”
His voice had taken on a sharp, commanding tone – one she had heard
often enough from his mouth, but never directed at her. “You musn’t wear it. Annatar,” he sneered, using the title as an
insult, “thinks to control the works of his pupils, and I fear he might
succeed.” He restrung the white ring
onto the mithril chain he’d worn, and reached up reverently to place it around
Galadriel’s neck. His fingers brushed
gently against her shoulders as he drew back.
The chain was long on her, making
the ring hang down between her breasts.
She picked it up, and considered it in her hand. It looked like it would fit as though it had
been made for her…
“So it was,” Celebrimbor whispered, taking the hand holding the
ring and pressing it to his lips.
“Mother?” Celebrian looked up from her book abruptly.
Galadriel did not reply, but
clutched her daughter’s hand all the more tightly.
“Mother, what’s wrong?” Celebrian
insisted, putting her other hand on top of the one squeezing hers.
“They’re killing him,” Galadriel
said quietly, her eyes tightly closed.
“Who?” Celebrian demanded,
bewildered. “What are you talking
Quiet again, Galadriel squeezed
“Not…” she almost couldn’t say it,
Galadriel shook her head. “No… “
She removed her hand from her daughter’s grasp, pulled a chain free from
the neckline of her gown, and held it up.
The white gem of Nenya twinkled
coldly at Celebrian.
“Celebrimbor,” Celebrian stated
softly. “How do you know?”
“I… can feel it.”
Celebrian stared. “What do you mean… ‘feel it?’”
“He’s trying so hard to keep it
from me. But… he’s dying. I can’t help feeling a little of his pain.”
“Mother, if it’s that ring, then you
should…get rid of it,” she concluded lamely.
Galadriel shook her golden
head. “It is not a connection that I
would break, even if I could.”
“Mother! If he’s…”
“No one should die alone.”
“What are you doing in my head?”
Celebrimbor breathed the words softly through cracked and bleeding lips. Surely, surely she didn’t mean to pit
her will against Sauron’s, and their ring against the One….
didn’t spend centuries in Doriath merely admiring the scenery, Celebrimbor, Galadriel’s thought retorted irritably.
He felt a twinge of relief.
Perhaps if she wasn’t using Nenya directly…“Still, it is not safe. You have it,” he said meaningfully,
“and if he senses you, it may all be for naught.” He spoke aloud, too tired to
order his thoughts without speech.
a little faith in the abilities you claim to respect.
“Get out of my mind, Galadriel,” he murmured flatly.
don’t presume to start giving me orders, Celebrimbor. I will be careful.
He could practically see the
graceful arch of her eyebrows, and her ever so slightly disdainful expression.
“Be reasonable, Galadriel. I’m going to die.”
you asking to die alone?
Celebrimbor lifted his head a
fraction. “It’s what I deserve.”
are a fool.
There was gentleness in her
reproach. Tenderness, affection even.
But not the love he’d wanted.
And still did want.
He felt her sadness then, and
realized with regret that a little of that sadness was his fault.
“Forgive me,” he murmured.
have I to forgive? I am not a Vala to
forgive your sins - I can only forgive transgressions against myself. And what have you done but…
“Love you,” Celebrimbor completed,
unsure of who’s thought it was.
There were no words – just a sort
of mental, or perhaps spiritual gesture.
Had she been present, she would’ve reached out to him. Her presence was so real, so tangible, and
such a comfort, it was almost as though she’d cradled his bruised and bleeding
head in her gentle hands, and laid it against her breast, so that he could hear
the beating of her heart, feel her soft breath from between her rosebud lips,
breathe in the scent of her glorious hair from where it spilled shimmering over
one slender shoulder…
trying my patience, you realize.
“Can’t a dying fool dream?” he murmured.
if he can manage to keep them to himself.
I’d rather not be privy to them, that’s all.
He dragged his eyelids open to see
her expression, forgetting for instant that she wasn’t with him. But no Galadriel raised her eyebrows at
him. There were only walls. Walls and chains. And beyond the walls and chains, there were orcs. And Sauron.
“Galadriel,” he breathed, almost as
though he were praying. “I’m
afraid. I’m afraid to die.”
And for a moment, he could feel her
will be with you. I won’t leave you
With Galadriel at his side, he did
not fear Sauron. With Galadriel at his
“Beloved,” he gasped, lips bleeding
anew. “Go.” Even the idea of his Three… his Work, his Rings that dazzled him
so that he could not raise a hand to destroy them, twisted and tainted in the
hands of Sauron…. Even this paled at
the thought of Galadriel’s mind put to torment, as his had been. The Rings had come from him, and he loved
them. But he loved her more. “Shall it give me comfort to know you are in
I will stay…until I can stay no
And in spite of his fear, and his
pain, Celebrimbor smiled.
He wasn’t sure if he felt it or
heard it first. But a moment later, he
was staring at his broken sword, while still using the portion connected to the
hilt to fend off an orc carrying a sword breaker.
The orc stumbled backward, pinned
to its fellow by a slender shaft, neatly fletched with dyed-green feathers,
making the arrow resemble a young sapling with freshly unfurled leaves.
Celeborn sheathed what was left of
his sword and fell back to join the archers.
“My thanks!” he called, and the
dark haired Noldor boy who’d loosed the arrow that had probably saved
Celeborn’s life shot him a bright, fierce grin as he pulled another arrow from
It was a waste of a fine blade, he
reflected sourly as his elbow brushed the pommel amid his movements to unstrap
his longbow from his back, string it, and ready a shaft. He wasn’t likely to find the equal of a blade
of Doriath in this age, when swords of ancient Elvish forges snapped like reeds
in a flood. Someday, he might have it
reforged, he mused, letting four shafts fly, and felling half as many
orcs. He was still a little shaken, and
it was affecting his aim. He couldn’t
afford to waste arrows.
On the brow of the hill, which was
boiling with the armored bodies of orcs, a standard was raised, a dark stain
against the pale, cold sky. Celeborn
lifted his eyes from his target to glance at it.
An instant later, he yanked off his
light helm, and the strands of his shimmering silver hair that had come free of
their loose plait glowed like a halo in the grey morning light.
It was a pole made for a standard,
but no banner snapped in the brisk wind.
Sauron’s new standard merely swayed heavily.
The body of an Elf was bound to the
pole, in a position of crucifixion.
His legs were tied to the shaft, his elbows had been hooked behind the
cross beam and lashed in place, and his head hung limply, short dark hair
stirring across a white forehead.
Celeborn fought back a wave of
nausea, and was brought violently from his horror when the archer who’d saved
his life stumbled against him.
A nightmare. If only it could be a nightmare.
“We must cut him down,” the boy said,
his voice clear, and his eyes streaming.
He grasped Celeborn’s shoulder with a grip like iron.
Celeborn flinched as a few black,
barbed arrows sank into Celebrimbor’s body.
“No,” he replied quietly.
The boy flushed, wet eyes
fierce. “We cannot allow them to…”
“Our concern is for the living,”
Celeborn said sharply, pushing the archer back towards his position.
“Then I will cut him down.” The boy started forward, but Celeborn caught
hold of his arm and did not let got.
“Celebrimbor did not give his life
that you or anyone else should die for a corpse.”
The boy turned back to him, more
tears pouring down his face.
“Live,” Celeborn ordered, sternly,
and gently. “And remember.”
Celebrian pushed a few strands of
hair behind her mother’s ear, and reached back down to twine her fingers with
Galadriel’s slender ones.
“Wake, please,” she whispered, for
not, by far, the first time. “Please
come back, mother…”
But Galadriel’s face remained a
placid mask of concentraion, her eyes staring hard at the ceiling, as though it
were a window, or a mirror, and her gaze broken only by the occasional flick of
her eyelids. Her body had dropped like a marionette with severed strings a few
moments before, as though whereever her mind was required every possible shred
of attention and strength she possessed.
Celebrian laid down beside her
mother’s still form on the carpeted study floor, and pressed her face into
Galadriel’s shoulder, partly wishing to lend her own strength to her mother’s
trial, and partly a frightened child seeking comfort in her mother’s familiar
smell and warmth.
Her tears soaking in the fabric of
Galadriel’s dress, Celebrian huddled close, still calling…
“Mother… Mother, please.”
It was a few moments before she
realized that she felt a hand gently stroking her hair.
“Hush, my little one. I’m here, and I’m well enough.”
Galadriel helped Celebrian sit up,
and wiped the tears from her daughter’s face.
“I … I was so frightened!” Celebrian took her mother’s hand from her
own cheek and kissed it impulsively, tasting the salt of her tears.
“So was I,”
Galadriel replied dryly, her expression gentle despite her sarcastic tone.
Celebrian began, concerned. “Is he… all
right then?” He’d always rather
intimidated her, but she did not wish him ill.
A shadow of
pain flickered across her mother’s face.
“All right? Now, I suppose he
is. He’s dead.” Her voice was brittle, like thin glass.
“Dead?” Celebrian heard the stunned voice, and
wondered who would ask such an inane question.
“He was very
brave, and very foolish. And if the
suffering he faced today means anything, he will not wait long in Mandos.”
shivered. What kind of suffering would
make death look “all right”, she wondered?
She put her arms back around her mother, and buried her face in
Galadriel’s white-clad shoulder.
put her face against her daughter’s hair, and raised a hand to stroke through
the smooth electrum strands. “Dear one,
I don’t know if you knew… that Celebrimbor…” she began hesitantly.
looked up, and nodded. “Yes.” She had known, since she was a child, that
Celebrimbor had loved her mother like no one but her father had any business
loving her mother.
“Try not to
hold it against him,” Galadriel said softly.
“He tried so hard.”
through more tears, Celebrian laughed softly.
“How could I?”
Celeborn lay prostrate on the mat
that served as a bed in his tent.
Blades of grass pushed through the weave of the fabric, and brushed
against his forehead. For an instant, he
envied them… to be olvar and to grow and flower and be beautiful, without
knowing fear or hate or pain, to praise Iluvatar by one’s simple act of
He felt a few tears soak into the
mat, although he hadn’t felt them fall.
It would take a battle like this one to make him wish to be a blade of
There was a time when the very
sight of an orc had physically sickened Celeborn, and when simply looking into
their crumpled faces tore at his soul.
But that was in Beleriand, when the world was young. Perhaps orcs had been less twisted
then. Or perhaps it was just that in
Beleriand, Celeborn had never cradled an Elf in his arms while that Elf bled
out his life into the mud. Part of his
soul had gotten hard and calloused from too much use. One could either shield oneself against the pain, or go mad.
His body ached, screaming at him to
rest, but the images in his head while he was awake warned him of what his
dreams would be.
must confer with the Lady Galadriel,” Celebrimbor told him curtly, putting a
hand at something strung under his shirt, and pressing it to his skin. “I’m going to Lindon.”
said nothing, but Doriath burned in his eyes.
I will return to Eregion. I swear it by
all the blood that was spilled for the Silmarils.”
shuddered. “Don’t… don’t make such a
smiled mirthlessly, and his eyes were hard.
“It is made.”
the silence, through his pain and concern, Celeborn spoke up. “Tell her I love her.”
hard smile turned wry. “I’m certain
she’s aware of that.”
stood on the stairs of The House of the Mírdain, his blade black, his eyes
bright. Celeborn stood at his back, his
sword hilt wet and slick with the orc blood, still warm on his blade, and
dripping down to his hands.
was chaos - a nightmare. Celeborn could
almost believe he would wake in a cold sweat to Galadriel’s gentle voice as she
ran her hands over his face. He often
dreamed of Doriath.
Galadriel was safe in Lindon, with Celebrian.
And Eregion was as real as Doriath had been.
real, perhaps - in Doriath, he’d had a child and a Silmaril in his arms. Here, he had a sword, and his hands were
hot with blood.
few centuries ago, Celeborn thought as he waited for the next wave of orcs to
scale the stairs, bemused by the sticky black blood covering his hands, he
would’ve been fighting back the need to be ill, and felt his vomit burning the
back of his throat. Now, it wasn’t as if he was suppressing it. It just wasn’t there.
kicked an orc off of his blade, and it tumbled with those immediately behind it
down the stairs. He took the moment of
respite to survey the horde pressing forward, and the meager force defending…
lead the retreat. Take the catacombs,
so we can get them lost if they try to follow, and pick them off slowly,” he
ordered briskly, bringing his sword back to its ready position as the orcs
lumbered back up the marble stairs.
“And be careful,” he added softly.
do the same,” Celeborn answered, laying a hand stained black on Celebrimbor’s
if you want any of them to live,” Celebrimbor snapped, jerking his head at the
Elves fighting around them.
nodded, turned, and was soon lost in organizing the retreat, then deep into the
catacombs under the city.
He hadn’t known that Celebrimbor
had meant to stay on the steps, until the orcs overcame his desperate last
defense, beat him, mutilated him, and carried him back to their master. Perhaps he ought to have, but he didn’t.
“Peace awaits him in Mandos,” he
murmured, words meant to be heard by himself, and his creator, “but may he
someday find joy…”
“Lord Celeborn,” a voice called
from outside the tent.
Celeborn sat up, pushed his braid
of burnished silver hair over his shoulder, and stood. “Come.”
The dark-haired Noldor boy backed
into the tent, the flap falling open for him as he carried a burden larger than
he was, wrapped in a piece of tent canvas.
Hardly a fitting shroud for a
Prince of the House of Finwë.
“They left him in the field, among
their fallen. Like so much trash.” The boy’s arms shook, either with emotion,
or merely the exertion of carrying Celebrimbor’s dead weight for miles. “I had to go back…” he murmured, falling to
his knees. “I know I disobeyed you, but
“You did what you felt was
right. And you’re alive,” Celeborn said
gently. He accepted the body from him,
and laid Celebrimbor on the grass. The
canvas fell aside, and his head lolled out.
Celeborn flinched – his short raven hair was matted with blood, his face
bruised and swollen. But his expression
was peaceful, as though he had found some strength beyond himself. The light had gone out in his grey eyes, and
their fire was extinguished. Kneeling,
Celeborn reached out a gentle hand to close Celebrimbor’s eyes.
No, not extinguished.
[ Draft II, courtesy
of Finch, who knows Ring-lore much better than I probably ever will. Thanks for correcting me!
Whew. Over at
last. This story has been, I think, the
most challenging for me to write. I’m
not sure why. But many many thanks to
everyone who I got to read over drafts for me…
Anne, Artanis, Woman of the Dunedain, and particularly Deborah, who’s
been so supportive throughout. It’s
months and months late, and not what you asked for, remotely, but…. A very merry unbirthday?
As usual, this is a further expression of my respect for
Professor Tolkien, and my love of Middle-earth. I dearly hope nothing I’ve written would offend him. But *cries* I’m just a poor little hobbit
girl with a fascination with Elves…I can’t HELP it!]
Playlist Navigation Bar