Two elves were seated at opposite ends of the same short table in the library of Imladris, tucked into a corner and surrounded by a halo of books and parchment. Texts detailing the pathological frailties of mortal bodies held the corners of scrolls tracing the growth of trees. Maps mingled with genealogy while diagrams of ancient plumbing perched precariously atop poetry. Careful lines of music twined with hasty scrawls of mathematics and unidentifiable heaps of lore claimed flat space wherever it could be found. An unlearned visitor would have seen only bookish clutter, or been concerned about some experiment gone awry. In truth, the sprawl detailed a lengthy journey of joint curiosity.
The scholars seemed as odd a combination as their subjects. The silver lady was dressed simply, her hair unadorned and flowing about her shoulders. Lithe and fair, she seemed a young maid. But her eyes belied her youth, lit with a glow and filled with wisdom that could not come in a mere score of years. Her darker companion was somewhat more formally dressed; there was a dignity in him that suggested he could easily wear far richer attire. Hale and ageless, he could not be called young, though in truth he was little older than the lady. There seemed in him a greater awareness of the passing of years, the faintest acknowledgment of departed heartbeats, even if he would never run short of them. Beautiful and majestic they were, and endowed by power greater than their books could bestow.
Despite the wizard’s silence as he stood in the doorway, little could escape Elrond’s attention in his own realm. While Mithrandir’s coming was always sudden – his nomadic nature and willingness to be carried upon the tide of chance and rumor usually caused a mild uproar wherever he entered – Elrond had easily marked the Grey Pilgrim’s footsteps across his land. He did so with every visitor and intruder, but it would have been strange indeed to overlook the blazing trail of Narya’s fire in his mind.
With a regretful smile the elf-lord closed his book and reached forward across the table to touch his wife’s hand. They did not immediately turn toward the figures they had sensed at the doorway, for both were reluctant to break the spell of peace that had enfolded them.
*Ai,* Celebrían said silently as she raised her head toward both her husband and the window behind him, *The snow comes at last.*
*Indeed. You were right.*
*Winter has always been somewhat of a relief. It is quieter, less frenzied. There are fewer guests, and those who do come do so with less urgency and stay until spring.*
*You also spend more time seated beside the fire with your wife in your arms,* Celebrían said.
His lips twitched in amusement. *True. But not just now …* he answered, though his hand lingered on her arm to prolong the contact and a moment of solitude. Then Elrond stood smoothly and caught her hand in his own as she gracefully unfolded from the chair
“Mithrandir,” Celebrían said as she turned with a smile of greeting, “you appear to have found a trio of rather soggy elves.”
“Say rather that they found me,” Mithrandir answered. “I always seem to miss that blasted turn – the landmarks have a rather disturbing habit of walking away between my visits.” He gave Elrond a pointed glance.
“Then it is fortunate that Glorfindel stumbled across your path,” Elrond said with a rare laugh as he closed the distance and clasped the wizard’s arm in welcome. Glorfindel, thoroughly soaked from the rapidly-melting snow that had coated his cloak, gave a disgusted snort and muttered loudly about the indignities he suffered for his lord’s feeble wit. One of his companions gleefully elbowed him in the ribs as he brushed into the room.
“Ai, Glorfindel,” he said with obvious mirth, “Is it not a bit beneath the mighty Balrog slayer to fetch wandering peredhil and old men?” He deftly avoided Glorfindel’s mock-annoyed swipe and stepped forward to kiss Celebrían’s cheek, careful not to drip melting snow on her robes. “Thank you for sending him out with some winter supplies, mother. We had hoped to be home some months ago, and were not looking forward to finishing the journey outfitted for the spring. Allow me to guess; father knew we were coming, and you knew it would snow,” he said as he embraced Elrond with aim to cover his father with as much water as possible.
“Indeed, Elladan. It takes both of us to accomplish anything worthwhile,” Elrond answered as he pulled his other son into an embrace. “Which reminds me of another duo I know … welcome home, my sons. A productive journey?”
“A wet journey, at least,” Elrohir answered.
“So it seems,” Celebrían said with a laugh. “Go, dry yourselves before you drown my husband.”
“They do fill a room,” Mithrandir remarked after the brothers withdrew.
“That they do,” Celebrían said with a fond note and wistful sigh. “But they spend less time filling the rooms of Imladris than I would like.” She shook herself from melancholy and smiled warmly. “And how delightful to have you in our home again, brûn mellon.”
“I must say, I am grateful to have arrived at last. I have had many a chilled mile under my feet since last we parted, mellhiril.”
“Then you will be happy to know that we just happen to have a warm room and meal prepared to ward off the bitterest cold,” Elrond said, a smile faint on his lips but deep in his eyes.
“Ah! How fortuitous! Then perhaps I shall take my leave of you for an hour to soak the weary road from my bones and cease filling your library with the flood that was once my cloak,” Mithrandir said with both gratitude and relief that Imladris was prepared, as ever. He bowed and followed a silent elf who had materialized at his elbow.
Celebrían brushed Elrond’s mind with her own. *I want to be sure all is prepared for our guest, and see what manner of chaos our sons have blazed across the haven while we were not watching. Supper in an hour?* He nodded and absently watched her go before frowning and focusing a piercing gaze into the air, deep in thought and only superficially present in the library.
Momentarily forgotten, Glorfindel studied Elrond’s face with some concern. He grimly shook his head before replacing his expression with one of gentle mocking and bumping a soggy shoulder against his lord’s. “ ‘Stumbled?’” Glorfindel interrupted with an outraged tone and a sniff. “I have never ‘stumbled’ onto a trail I seek in all my lives.”
Elrond’s focus trickled back somewhat more slowly than Glorfindel liked, but he was glad when the peredhel turned to him with a genuine smile and little trace of shadow in his eyes. “Oh, come now. I told you exactly where you would find Mithrandir and the boys,” Elrond answered as he moved to go. “Here, you go first,” he said as he held the door. “I certainly don’t want you touching anything.” Despite extreme dampness, Glorfindel made a grand exit, though it was somewhat ruined by Elrond’s laughter.
“Ha!” Glorfindel continued. “It may seem easy from inside a library and at your lady wife’s side, but the Istari is harder to track than he appears.”
“Apparently so, edhel loen, for you are in greater need of a bath than my sons. And you were out but a week!”
The soft snow continued as night’s shadows slanted across the valley, each delicate crystal clear to elven eyes despite the darkness. The Eldar delighted in this glacial perfection that echoed their beloved stars, but as Elrond looked out into the night, he saw none of it. The twisting paths of shade where he drifted had neither room nor patience for senseless acts of beauty. Nonetheless, Elrond was grateful for the snow when Mithrandir’s presence at his back shook him from his wanderings, for it gave him an excuse to keep his gaze focused outside and collect his thoughts before the visitor saw his face.
Though Mithrandir likely perceived the charade.
“A beautiful evening, at least from inside, ” the wizard rumbled as he walked to stand beside his host. He rested his own gaze politely – though markedly – on the scenery beyond the window instead of the lord.
Elrond gave him a quick, nonplussed glance and turned back toward the window with a sigh. “Yes,” he answered shortly. After a beat he shook himself and moved toward the table. “Tea before supper?”
“Something stronger, if you are willing.” Elrond nodded and poured two generous tumblers of miruvor, keeping one for himself as he returned to stand beside his friend.
“Ah, now that is a taste I have missed,” Mithrandir said as he rolled the drink about his palate.
Elrond smiled faintly and turned his tumbler in his hands, watching how the light from the nearby fire caught in the blue glass. “Are you going to tell me what has truly brought you to Imladris?” he asked at last.
Mithrandir swallowed another mouthful of the liquor and stared absently into the night.
“Likely respite from questions and care, hervenn,” Celebrían gently chided as she glided gracefully but without ceremony into the dining hall. Her husband turned fractionally toward her as she trailed her fingers across his shoulders, then sighed contentedly as he pulled her comfortably into his arms; ‘twas a frequent disposition for the couple, and both were far too old to care what others thought of such displays of affection. And Mithrandir was far too old a friend to be anything but faintly amused.
“Yes, Lady Celebrían,” Mithrandir answered once the couple was settled. “And there is no place in all of Middle Earth better than Imladris to find heartsease. Yet Elrond is perceives rightly; I also come with a question, and it is simply this: when did you last pass through Moria?”
Elrond paused for a long beat, and Mithrandir saw the reflected firelight in Elrond’s eyes momentarily flicker as if caught by wind, though the room was still. Celebrían breathed an almost imperceptible sigh as she took Elrond’s hands in her own. “Moria?” he asked with a frown.
“It has been some years since Elrond has been outside of Imladris,” its lady answered. “But I was in the dwarven realm a year ago; I passed through on my way from Lorien. I have always preferred that route, for the Redhorn disquiets me.”
“And what did you sense, lady?”
Celebrían tilted her head and wandered for a moment in memory. “Something was amiss. Durin would not say …” she frowned.
*What, Celebrían?* Elrond asked, troubled by the unexpected dawning of dread that shivered through her soul.
“The halls of Dwarrowdelf were strangely hushed, as if all who dwelt there were awaiting a storm. I was hurried through. I did not credit it at the time, but aye, Mithrandir, something was very wrong.”
“I have felt … I feel nothing,” Elrond said, his brow furrowed and his head tilted back.
“No …” Mithrandir said slowly as he eased into a chair beside the fire and bemoaned his creaking knees, a rather odd infirmity the Valar had seen fit to bestow on their servants. It was on cold evenings such as this that the Maia most cursed Manwë’s sense of humor. “Could I get you to top me off, mellon?” He asked, extending his glass. “Ah, thank you …
“You are like Galadriel in that,” he said, continuing the conversation from where he had left it. “Yet before I left Lothlorien some month ago, Celeborn took me privately aside and asked if I would walk through Moria with a wary eye, for he sometimes receives reports that Galadriel does not credit. Your father is correct, as are you, Lady Celebrían, there is something amiss, though I am loath to give my concern a name.”
“Wait, Mithrandir,” Elrond said as he released his wife to pace. “What could stir that Vilya and Nenya can not see, but yet Narya perceives?”
“’Tis not Narya that informs me,” the Istari answered. “And your answer concerns me. Like Galadriel, you reach too often to the power of the ring and ignore the more natural warnings of your heart.”
Celebrían caught her husband’s eyes in silent agreement. There was no need for words, spoken or not, to reiterate her long held position; he was quite aware of it. Elrond nodded once and accepted the gentle reproaches with dignity, though the flash in his eyes bespoke his reluctance to heed them.
“You have not answered me, Mithrandir,” he said. “I cannot see it, so I beg you tell me, what do you fear?”
There were few who had both the right and audacity to withstand a direct query from the Lord of Imladris, but Mithrandir was one of them. He shook his head and answered: “Come now, kinsman, search from a place deeper in your soul.”
With a sinking heart, Celebrían caught Elrond’s hand to quiet his pacing. With a lover’s prerogative she forcibly muffled his ring’s pressure on his perceptions.
*Celebrían …* he said with a note of warning.
*Deep focus disallows breadth, Elrond. And Vilya is not as old as the world. It is tied to Sauron, but not …* she trailed off as he stepped into her recent memories of Khazad-dûm.
* … but not to Morgoth,* he continued, understanding at last. *And Mithrandir the Maia would certainly recognize his dark sibling without the help of a ring. How clearly you see, hervess. Eru mell!”
“A Balrog,” he murmured, and the air seemed to congeal around the word.
“Did I just hear you call Mithrandir a Balrog?” Glorfindel asked jovially as he entered the room. Then the golden lord narrowed his eyes as he perceived the mists of care permeating the room. “Is there something I should know?”
“Not today,” Elrond answered, and as he turned away from the window he left concern for another day. Laughter dispersed the somber weight of fears as Elladan and Elrohir burst in, as was their wont, Arwen in tow. Glorfindel pursed his lips and let his lord’s comment to pass, though he certainly would not dismiss it from his mind.
“Well, I certainly smell better than you, Elrohir,” he answered in an instinctive response to a jest he had only barely registered, and then smiled as he allowed himself to be engulfed by a wave of elven merriment. ‘Twas rarer and rarer, even in Elrond’s house, and he had every intention of enjoying it.
There would be time enough for care tomorrow.
Celebrían wandered briefly in elven dreams as she waited for Elrond. She was reclined on a settee beside the fire in their chamber, a book of ancient poetry unread in her hands. She dreamed of her children’s laughter, and of Glorfindel’s singing, and Mithrandir’s pyrotechnics, and of snow.
And of Elrond, seated with her, holding her in his arms. For that was the best use for winter …
She returned to full wakefulness with a slow smile. “Elrond, that is the reason you like winter. It is most unfair of you to interfere with my dreams for your own licentious purposes.”
“Ah,” he answered from where he knelt beside her, “but you said this afternoon that ‘twas your favorite part of the season.”
“Nay, oh forgetful husband. I said this afternoon that ‘twas yours.”
“Never mind. Perhaps I shall just hold you, and avoid losing an argument,” he said before putting action to his words.
“Most wise,” she answered as she moved to make room for him beside her.
“Hmm … truly, sometimes I lose track of what you do, and what I do,” he murmured lazily after a moment.
Celebrían chuckled richly. “Erestor told me of a conversation he had with you the other day … he wanted to close down a wing of the house for some minor repairs, and had spoken to me of it.”
Elrond picked up the story, for it had amused him as well. “And when he approached me for the first time, I looked at him askance and asked why we were discussing the matter again.”
“’Tis no different than that day I spoke with a man at length, asking how his family was, how his daughter was healing, only to realize some hours later that I had never met him,” Celebrían said with dry mirth. “For I was in Lothlorien when he visited.”
Elrond laughed joyfully, and his wife delighted in it.
“My parents used to do such things to me,” she continued. “I tried once to go to naneth when adar had already said no …”
“I do not want to hear how we are like your parents,” Elrond growled before turning and kissing her.
*Why, hervenn?* she murmured playfully as she pulled him closer. *I happen to know that, despite appearance, the Lord and Lady of the Golden Wood are very passionate …*
*Too much information, meleth, far too much*
Then, with an ancient tenderness she never tired of, he dropped every barrier to his mind and caressed the borders of hers. He would never force his will, and there was no need, for with a sigh of gratitude she did the same.
During most of the hours of the day, they held themselves slightly apart so as to not live in the same moment from two lives, though as the years of their marriage increased the line had blurred. It was not unusual for one to hear a conversation many miles removed from the speaker, and flashes of sight frequently created a vision of the world from two points of view. Such moments were enlightening and indescribably pleasant. If they had existed in physical form, they would have been akin to the breath of a kiss, the lightest touch of hand to hand, or the awareness of a lover’s heartbeat, though such analogies only superficially illustrated the sensation.
But in private moments between the two, the wear of holding one’s own thoughts and perceptions apart was unnecessary, and the pull to be fully together was irresistible. Simultaneously distinct and unified, there was no need for mask or facade, no need for excuse, justification, or apology. Vilya coexisted there in harmony with Celebrían’s disapproval of it, and both viewpoints were supernally important and utterly insignificant. In this place, joy was magnified while concern and heartache became one, and she agreed with at his unspoken plea that she not pass through Moria again.
But there was far, far more than a simple exchange of ideas.
He embraced her thoughts, and when he did, words were unimportant. With his mind deep in her own, they jointly burned in the heat of pure perception, awash in the rhythm of sensation. From there, Arda called to their souls. They were one, and, coming to such an epiphany, they were allowed to see that they were also the Earth. They were bound to its fate forever, and only through it could they bound to each another. Thus carried to the precipice of consciousness, both could crest in an unadulterated release in emotion.
After the centuries, such was the magnitude of their union.
brûn mellon – old friend
edhel loen – soaking wet elf
Eru mell – Dear God
mellhiril – dear lady
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.