6. Chapter 6
[Many thanks to Deborah for reading over the first part of this ages ago, and to Anne-sempai and Ekuboryu for putting up with my months of whining about having to write Melian. To all reviewers: Thank you from the bottom of my hobbitish heart. If it were my birthday, I would invite you all over to my hole and give you presents!]
"I do not know how we can talk if you will not look at me," Celeborn said quietly, his hand against the trunk of the mighty oak. Of all the beautiful places in Doriath, they had returned to the very place that he’d shown her on the day of her arrival. Which led Galadriel to believe that the simple beauty of the little grove by the stream was very dear to Celeborn. And in sharing it with her, he’d somehow opened himself to her scrutiny, for good or ill.
She’d spent the better part of two days nursing her resentment and anger against him, and knew that if she looked at him now, all that effort would be wasted. And Galadriel did not like her efforts to be in vain.
"I can manage, I’m sure," she said crisply.
"As am I," he answered, voice heavy.
She could feel his eyes on her, and in her boldness wanted nothing more than to meet them. It was not her custom to shy from the gaze of anyone. That would be part of your problem…
Never had she turned from the Valar’s painfully beautiful eyes, even if she trembled inside. And yet, she could not look at Celeborn, with his eyes like the stormy sky over the canopy of Doriath.
The wind tore at the leaves, and sent them flying between the pillars of trunks. A moment later it subsided, falling to a gentle rustle when the persistent staccato of the rain began.
"I deserve your anger," Celeborn began, as the rain broke the silence for him. "I should never have given your that burden. It…was my own pride," he admitted, still waiting for her to look back at him. "I feared you would think less of me." He sounded embarrassed, and a little apologetic.
"I’m sorry that my high opinion means that much to you," she replied coldly, looking out over the stream. She felt the soft kiss of the rain on her forehead.
Galadriel countered that question with one of her own. "So you find it necessary to disturb others with your…bizzare philosophies? Will Doriath soon be populated by those who cannot in good conscience defend their own borders?"
"You have seen that they do not prevent me from…doing what must be done," he said tightly.
That was true, she thought, flinching at the memory of Celeborn trying to kick the orc from his blade, and knowing what he must have been thinking. She wasn’t being entirely fair.
"And I have shared these thoughts with no one else," he went on, more quietly.
Galadriel’s face tightened as she finally gave in to herself, and looked up at him. "None, save me?"
"None, save you." He stood very straight, his hair pale and grey in the gloom.
"Do you enjoy repeating me?" she snapped hollowly, even as she felt her anger dissolving in the rain.
"Forgive me," he replied awkwardly, embarrassed again.
This time, Galadriel found no glib retort. "I forgive you."
He ventured to smile, but it faltered as she bit her lip and looked away from him again.
"Why did you give me this burden?" she asked sharply, cutting him deeply, and letting truth pour forth.
"Because I knew you were strong enough to bear it. And I was weary of bearing it alone."
"Fortunately," Galadriel replied quietly, with just the faintest hint of sarcasm, "I shall know nothing of that."
"You give your forgiveness in words, but still speak so bitterly. You needn’t forgive me, simply because I asked it of you."
Galadriel rubbed at her forehead, now damp with rain. "It is done, and cannot be undone. And unpleasant though it may be, I would like to think that I value truth as highly as you do. Or at least," she continued, tone dry, although she was not, "as highly as you do my favorable opinion of you."
Celeborn laughed his lovely laugh for the first time since…
"I have tried for a day to withold it from you," Galadriel continued, "with no success. Well," she amended, "limited success."
"I…" he began slowly, meeting her eyes, "would have none keeping mine from you."
Galadriel closed the gap between them with a few steps, and impulsively reached for his hand.
"And what, may I ask, were you doing out in the rain?" Finrod asked, his tone stern, his eyes dancing.
"Getting wet," Galadriel retorted, looking back at the trail she’d left on the smooth tiled floors of Menegroth on the way to the apartments where she and her brother were staying.
"I see that," Finrod remarked thoughtfully. "I think perhaps I’d better go entertain Luthien until her tutor dries out a bit as well," he continued, striding briskly down the corridor.
Galadriel spun to demand what had led him to draw such a baseless, albeit true, assumption.
But stopped short, mouth still open, when she came face to face with the Lady of Menegroth.
"I happened upon Celeborn, and thought you might need a change of clothes," Melian explained, not quite smiling, but looking amused nonetheless.
Why does everyone assume we are always together? She wondered irritably.
"You seem to spend a great deal of time in each other’s company," Melian continued dryly, as though she could hear Galadriel’s unspoken words.
And it was not entirely unlikely, Galadriel reminded herself, that she could not.
Galadriel’s eyes strayed to the gown draped over Melian’s arm, and back to the one she wore. And why did Melian seem intent on always dressing her in white?
"White suits you so well. You have the color for it – Luthien and I are too pale, I’m afraid," Melian said pleasantly, holding up the dry garment.
"You speak, my Lady," Galadriel began warily, "as though you know my thoughts."
Melian laughed. "Indeed, how could I not, when you wear them so plainly on that pretty face of yours?"
Although a little indignant at that observation, Galadriel managed a smile.
Melian returned it. "I do not often intrude on the minds of others. Too many are nervous of me as it is," she explained.
Including myself, Galadriel admitted.
"I am very grateful for the gown," Galadriel began, changing the subject.
"And you wonder why I felt it necessary to deliver it myself?" Melian continued, smiling again – as if the woman needed to read anyone’s thoughts! "Well then, I shall be quite frank with you. I had hoped to catch you apart from the company of my husband and your brother, or even my little one and Celeborn – which was a bit of a trial, I can assure you."
How she teases me! Or am I too senstive on the subject? "And why did you decide to undergo that trial?"
Melian smiled her dazzling smile. "Because I long a little for my home, and would speak of it with one who dwelt there as I did," she told Galadriel gently.
Galadriel reminded herself again that Melian was a Maia. Indeed, the security of Menegroth had as much to do with the Lady’s "enchantments" as it did the Lord’s watchful sentries and careful precautions. Melian was incredibly powerful. And yet, face to face, Galadriel had trouble keeping that fact in mind.
Perhaps dwelling so long among the Children had made Melian a bit more like them than the other Maiar.
Then again, Galadriel was fairly certain that Olorin could’ve convinced a fish he was no different than it was, if he chose to.
"Your turn!" Luthien told Finrod blithely, then folded her hands and tried to copy his carefully stoic expression.
"I believe the princess is indeed correct," he replied slowly.
Luthien giggled. Hearing her laughter, Finrod smiled, and pushed a piece forward.
She narrowed her eyes at him – a gesture so like Galadriel’s that he had to wonder if Luthien tried out everyone’s mannerisms to see which suited her. "Are you letting me win?"
Finrod raised an eyebrow. The child was smart – a little too smart.
"Celeborn never lets me win," she told him, moving one of her pieces forward as well.
"Doesn’t he," Finrod replied, voice perfectly neutral.
Luthien peered at him intently across the game board, waiting for his move.
He didn’t know Celeborn well, so he wasn’t sure how well he liked him. But Galadriel seemed to, and that, naturally, was the important part. Galadriel wasn’t… given much to liking people from the onset. In fact… she was much more given to the opposite. It took a great deal to win the respect of his sister, and Finrod had to wonder how this Celeborn fellow had accomplished it.
"He should marry her," Luthien stated with conviction.
Finrod blinked. "Marry who?"
"Lady Galadriel,"she answered promptly. "Aren’t you going to move?"
"Why do you say that?"
"Because it’s your turn."
Finrod smiled. "No no, you’re trying to sidetrack me. Now, why do you say that my sister should marry your Celeborn?"
Luthien shrugged. "Why not?"
"The Eldar do not marry on ‘why not’s, Princess," Finrod said sternly.
Luthien shifted uncomfortably. "Well…"
"Well?" Finrod prompted.
Luthien snorted softly, a mannerism easily traced back to Melian, when she spoke of the princes of the Noldor. It almost made Finrod crack a smile. "Look," she began, her expression long-suffering. "I know Celeborn."
"And I have known my Galadriel since the first moment of her life," Finrod countered, expression still grave.
"So you ought to see that she fancies him," Luthien replied.
"I have never known my sister to be given to fancies. Not even when she was as little as you."
"That explains it then," Luthien retorted.
Finrod couldn’t keep it back. He grinned. "And what, pray, does it explain?"
Luthien shrugged her little shoulders. "I suppose that’s why she didn’t waste time with fancying him."
"You just said that she…."
Luthien interrupted him with her little borrowed sigh again. "Wrong word. Can’t you tell she loves him?"
Finrod was thoughtful for a moment. Finally, he nodded. "Yes, I can."
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.