15. Release Me, My Love
The day dawned bright and clear as all Imladris gathered in the glen before the road that led up and out of the valley. The retinue was large: Elrond, of course, the twins and Arwen, Glorfindel and Erestor, the list went on and on. The crowd parted as Galadriel stepped into the glade that lay before Elrond's home. Her hand held Celeborn's arm, so tightly that he would have, had he noted it in the midst of his sorrow, grimaced at the pain. She was a warrior and her arms and hands were as strong as Glorfindel's himself. They walked slowly to their horses. Haldir helped his Queen mount; moments later Celeborn was mounted at her side. Haldir, Orophin and Rúmil mounted their own horses and stepped into the line behind them.
Elrond came slowly down the steps behind the Lord and Lady of Lórien. Celebrían lay in his arms, still and drawn. Arwen held her father's arm and helped guide him down the stairs, afraid that his pain and sorrow would distract him from the path. Elladan and Elrohir stepped lightly behind, ready to succor their father should his need warrant it. The depth of sorrow in the family's eyes was too great for many to behold. Heads were turned in respect - and grief.
Murmurings were heard when Mithrandir stepped from the portico. All had known the wizard was in Imladris, but few guessed he would accompany the Lady Celebrían to the Grey Havens.
After some long moments, Elrond, Celebrían and Arwen were settled in the carriage while the last of the retinue mounted. No signal was given, but the company moved out as one in silence. One or two Elves waved fare well, but there was no response.
Throughout the long journey to the Havens, Celebrían spoke not a word. Even as they camped at night, she would not be roused. Finally, Celeborn stood in front of Elrond, his hands on his hips and a scowl on his face. "Have you drugged her?"
"Yes," Elrond said simply. "She is too afraid. When I told her we were leaving Imladris, she screamed. I thought you had heard. She said the Yrch would kill her. She was hysterical. I tried, at various times, to approach the subject again, and each and every time, Celeborn," Elrond choked at the memory, "she grew wild, spitting at me, cursing me, saying I wished her dead." The Elf shuddered. "I could see no other way. She would have died on this journey in the state she was in."
Celeborn's hands lowered; his head hung low. "I wish you had told me. She seems more comfortable in my presence. Perhaps, if I rode with her in the carriage?"
"If you wish. I care not, only that she is at peace."
"Then, with your permission, I will ride with her today. Would you lesson the dosage this morning, and we will see what happens?"
Elrond hesitated for a moment. "Very well." The dark brows furrowed. "If she... I will stay with you for a bit, after I give her the medicament, and see how she accepts your presence."
"Nay, Elrond. I am sorry, but if you are there, she will not act the same. I think you must be away from her."
"I will be away from her," Elrond choked and could not go on.
Celeborn waited in silence, his own heart breaking for the Elf who stood before him in such agony.
"I will be away from her for ages to come."
"You have decided to stay in Middle-earth?"
"You know I have. I have obligations. There is strife to come and I am a part of it. You are staying." He continued when Celeborn nodded. "You know Sauron has not been defeated. The Belain can do no more for us. Therefore, I stay."
"Galadriel does also."
"Of course she does. She is still under the Doom of Badhron. She dare not go."
Celeborn held his tongue. Elrond's lack of respect towards the Queen of Lórien, though understandable in these circumstances, was still offensive. He walked away, holding his anger in check.
"Because you are hurt that she has peace with him, you would attack him?"
Elrond turned in fury, even knowing it was Glorfindel who spoke. "Galadriel's Doom might well prevent Celebrían's entry into Aman!"
"Ah. I do not think Badhron's Doom will be hers. I have been there, Elrond." The Golden Elf put his hand on Elrond's shoulder. "Come and walk with me for a bit?"
Elrond did naught to acknowledge Glorfindel's invitation. The Balrog-slayer tried again. "The morning is beautiful. Arwen sits with Celebrían. Come with me."
Elrond moved forward and Glorfindel was hard-pressed to keep up with the Lord of Imladris. "What would you have me say?" Elrond's voice was clearly tear-laden.
"Naught. I would have you hear me. I have lived in Aman and interacted with the Belain. They are not vindictive. They will see Celebrían as wounded and help her. I promise you. Do you think Eërwen will let any harm come to her? Nay. Celebrían will be taken to Ninir's gardens and healed." Glorfindel stopped Elrond's forward movement and held his arms. "Her mother will let no one harm her."
Elrond slumped against the Balrog-slayer. "I know. I do not think I can bear this. She must be sent West, but how am I to survive? Will I be strong enough not to fade? She is my life, Glorfindel. I do not think I can live without her."
"You will. Of all of us, Elrond, you have suffered most, since your begetting day. Look not to the future. Take each day as it comes. You have your sons and Arwen. You have your friends. We will help you."
Elrond bowed in acquiescence. "What of Celeborn? He suffers even greater than I. I can see it in his face. Will he fade?"
"Nay," Glorfindel said emphatically. "I even wonder if he will ever go West. He struggles with the Belain. He is not happy with the Doom that Galadriel shares. I think he believes her blameless in that affair. Now his daughter has been... If the Belain had stopped Sauron when Morgoth was exiled, none of this would have happened. I think he blames them for Celebrían's misfortune."
"Misfortune. I suppose some would think that is all it is. A small misfortune. Do you see my children? Do you see the Elves of Imladris? The ripple of the first touch of the Yrch upon her has grown into a wave that could rival the one that drowned Beleriand. There is no misfortune here, Glorfindel." The Elven lord's shoulders sagged. "We are now as dark as the Void. We will struggle for centuries to heal from this. Naught I have in my apothecary will lessen this grief. We will have to live through it."
"And you will," Glorfindel clasped the Elf's shoulder. "You will live through it and laugh. By the Bel... Arwen will be wed, someday, as will the twins. Great ceremonies and joy are still before us, my Lord. Though Celebrían will be missed, grieved over for all the ages to come, yet, joy will come, happiness will be with us again."
"Let my children see?"
Elrond swallowed and embraced his friend. "I suppose," a small smile lit his face, "that we should all be glad you were returned to us."
Glorfindel laughed. "If I came back to kick some sense into you, then it was well worth it. Come, let us return to your family. The morning waxes; we should be in Mithlond before noon."
The two friends walked back to the fireside. Elrond stiffened when he saw that Celeborn sat with Celebrían, but he let it go and sat with Arwen.
Celebrían seemed better, at least to Celeborn. Her eyes cleared a bit. He wondered if it was because they were in Lindon or because the medicaments of Elrond were wearing off. It mattered not, though; she would be leaving him soon. Impulsively, he held her to him. She screamed and clawed at his face, kicking and biting. He held her off as best he could without hurting her. She would not be calmed, even as Arwen spoke to her. Bitterly, Celeborn watched as Elrond strode towards them, syringe in hand, and pierced her flesh with it. She fell into his arms as Elrond walked away in silence.
To say the camp was disturbed would have been an understatement. Not many had seen the deleterious effects of the Yrch attack upon their Lady. Sorrow flooded the camp; Elrond decided action was needed and immediately called for the retinue to mount and continue onward. He saw Elves he thought the most stalwart wiping tears from their eyes. He understood their grief; he lived their grief.
It was past the noon hour when the retinue arrived at the Harlond, the south haven on the river Lhûn. Cirdan himself stood at the entrance to the Elven stronghold and embraced Elrond as he dismounted. "It has been too long and now you come in mourning... and despair," the old one murmured in sorrow. "I have arranged for rooms for your family," he hesitated a moment. "And for Galadriel and Celeborn. The others of your train will be billeted further down the river, but close enough," he saw the unease in Elrond's eyes, "to be at hand upon your need."
Elrond nodded his thanks and walked to the carriage. Celeborn stepped out and held his hand out. Galadriel took it and stepped out; then Celeborn held out his arms and Arwen gently helped her mother out into the light. Celebrían looked around her in surprise, then swooned. Her father caught her and lifted her into his arms, then followed as Cirdan, quite shaken to see her cropped hair and mutilated body, led them forward. "The rooms are here; I will send a servant to care for your needs. Water, food, wine and such are already in the rooms. If you have further need, send the servant to me and I will assure you receive it. Anything you need."
Elrond held back, waiting until Celeborn had laid Celebrían upon the bed in the inner room. Galadriel and Arwen sat next to her. Celeborn closed the door behind him and stood before Elrond. "Forgive my questioning your abilities back at the White Towers. I should have known you knew what you were doing. Your," he bit his lip, "wisdom in such matters is well known to me. Forgive me. I only thought of my sell."
"We will not speak of it further. I would spend some time with her tonight, if I may?"
"You will not be parted from her until she sails, I promise you. Galadriel and Arwen are washing the journey's dust from her. When they are finished, you may enter. I will sit in this room, if you should have need of me. The night is yours. Will she...? Will they sail tomorrow? So soon?"
"I do not yet know if a ship stands ready. Lord Cirdan and I will meet within the hour. Would you like to be present?"
"Nay. I darest not. Though," surprising to Elrond, the Lord of Lórien blushed. "I am not of as much use to her as are you."
Elrond said nothing for a moment, then, "Is there anything you wish me to ask Lord Cirdan? Besides the day and time of departure?"
"I suppose how much she is able to take with her. Galadriel and Arwen packed many of her favorite garments and memorabilia. I am not sure what he allows aboard his ships."
"I will ask him. I will return." He opened the door and found a servant waiting outside. "Do I have rooms?"
The Elf nodded and beckoned; Elrond followed to a door across the hall. "A bath is ready for you. All you need has been placed upon a table next to it. There is wine here," he pointed to a table heavily laden with carafes and trays of food. "If you desire anything further, I will be outside your door." The Elf bowed and closed the door as he left.
Celeborn stood still as his daughter's mate left the room, pondering all that had been said. At last, he sat upon an overstuffed chair on the balcony overlooking the river. The scene was idyllic, peace-filled, and totally incongruous compared to the reason they were in Mithlond. He waited until his grief lessened and he was able to think without tears spilling down his cheeks. 'Tomorrow. Tomorrow my little one leaves me and I can do naught to stay her, nor help her.'
"At least, her sons are healed." Galadriel stepped onto the balcony and sat at his feet. "Your thoughts are loud, melethril nín."
Celeborn embraced her, held her to him, and wept with her. "Because of you, they are healed," he was able to say at last. "If you had not spent the time with them, I fear they would be lost. Probably captured by Sauron and turned into filthy beasts." He shuddered. "I thought we had lost Elladan."
"I know. But they are both well now. They will never cease hunting Yrch, but they will do it for the right reasons. Now, we must help our little Arwen. She has been so stalwart and brave during all this that I fear for her. I would have her live with us, for a time. I believe the memories will be too many in Imladris. What say you to that?"
"Of course. Wise, I think." He sighed. "I wish not to harm Elrond though. Will the loss of his daughter be too harsh?"
"I think not. He will ride with his sons, for a time. He has not had that... relief. I believe he will be grateful."
"Then it is settled. Though we must ask Elrond before we even broach the subject to Arwen."
"Agreed." The Lady of Lórien laid her head back against Celeborn's chest and sighed. "I am weary."
It was as Elrond had surmised. The Swan Ship was ready and provisioned. The morning came and all those who had accompanied Elrond to the Havens met at the dock. Cirdan stood by the boat; Mithrandir stood at his side.
Elrond stood to the left of the ship and watched as Celeborn and Galadriel led his mate forward. Cirdan stepped up and took Celebrían's hand. Much to Elrond's surprise, Celebrían did not flinch, scream, nor flail her arms. She took the Elven Lord's hand and let him lead her to the ramp. She walked up it, turned for a brief moment and looked at him, then Celeborn; she then stepped onto the ship. He staggered and Glorfindel held him from behind. Elrond's eyes brimmed with tears. Arwen went to his side, as did his sons. They had all said their fare wells this morning, though Celebrían hardly acknowledged them. Still, it was staggering to see her and know that it would be ages before they met again. Elrond's arms already ached from the loneliness.
For one brief moment, Celeborn saw the smile of his daughter as she once had been - bright as the light of Anor - as she stepped aboard the Swan Ship, but then it was gone, as was she - down to the bowels of the great vessel. He watched as the ship passed through the Narrows. Turning, he swallowed hard, and took Galadriel's hand. Tears streamed down her face; she crushed his hand in her anguish, but he did not mind. Overcome with grief, he pulled her to him. "Do not leave me," he whispered, frightened at the depths of his despair. She buried her head in his neck and sobbed. They stood there, knowing others looked away, giving them a moment's privacy, and clung to each other. 'So much for the great Lord and Lady of Lórien,' he thought miserably. 'I doubt I will ever again be happy.' The Lord of Lórien motioned and horses were brought to him; he and Galadriel mounted and rode East. He cared not if any rode with him.
A/N - 1) See A/N for use of apothecary at the end of Chapter Four. 2) syringe AD 1375 - "a small device consisting of a glass, metal, or hard rubber tube, narrowed at its outlet, and fitted with either a piston or a rubber bulb for drawing in a quantity of fluid or for ejecting fluid in a stream, for cleaning wounds, injecting fluids into the body, etc." (I'm figuring that if the folks in the fourteenth century knew how to make and use syringes, Lord Elrond would too. Just IMHO. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/syringe; 3) train - AD 1350 a series of people, animals, things, etc.; 4) billeted AD 1375; 5) In Sindarin, the equivalents to Vala and Valar would be Balan and Belain, respectively. http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Mandos and Valar; 6) Melethril nín - my love; 7) Anor - Sindarin / anar - Quenya for the sun.
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