5. Grief and Guilt
Elrohir looked at his brother in surprise. "He barely touched her. Just gave the list and left." The younger Elf gulped. "I do not understand."
"He is in shock, 'Ro. Give him a moment."
The younger shook his head and held his mother a bit tighter. "He should hold her," he sobbed. "It might help her."
"Listing difficult things can be beneficial in the first shock of horror," Glorfindel stepped next to Elrohir and touched his shoulder. "This is his only child, his precious sell. You have been with her for three days. You have grown accustomed to her hurts. He has not."
"I have not grown accustomed! I shudder... We should not be discussing this with her in my arms. She needs peace. Leave me be."
"Elladan. Take your brother's place." The Elf-lord's tone was harsh. Elladan nodded and took his mother in his arms. Elrohir stood up; defiance shimmered off him, but he followed as the Balrog-slayer led him away from the camp.
"You have become too old for this type of behavior. It is unseemly."
Elrohir bit his lip to stifle the retort that was dangerously close to insubordination. As much as he was friend to the golden Elf, Glorfindel also commanded him. "I do not... Is it seemly for an Adar to ignore his own sell?"
"Do you think he ignores your Naneth? Look at him."
Elrohir refused, not aloud, but he did not turn towards his Adadhron.
"I said," Glorfindel's tone was cold and hard, "look at him."
The younger Elf gasped. Celeborn's shoulders shook as Galadriel held him close. "I.... I did not know."
"Of course you did not. You were being righteous, judgmental. Has your Adadhron ever judged you?"
"Nay," Elrohir began to moan. "Never.
"Then why must you judge him? There is something else here. Something I know not. What is it? You have done naught that needs exoneration, so allow yourself to feel the pain and sorrow over your Naneth's state, but do not blame your Adadhron... Ah, I see now. You blame yourself."
"We were to go with her."
"Elladan wanted to go, but there was a tournament that I wanted to be part of." Tears slipped down the Elf's cheeks. "I begged Adar to let us stay. We should have been with her."
"You would now be dead. The attack was swift and clean. You have seen the site yourself. None lived that the Yrch did not want to live."
Elrohir remained silent. On impulse, Glorfindel drew him close. "Many long years have passed since you needed comfort, my friend. Allow me to give it to you." He embraced Elrohir and held him close, allowing the Elf to release the pain and guilt of the last months. At last, Elrohir's sobs quieted. "Now. Go to your Adadhron and help him."
"I will. Once again, I thank you, Glorfindel."
He walked purposefully towards the place where Celeborn and Galadriel sat. She looked up at him and smiled sadly.
"Adadhron," he whispered. "Would you like to hold her?"
Celeborn looked up at his grandson. "I am afraid."
"Oh! Adadhron. I will help you. She needs you."
Celeborn nodded, kissed Galadriel, and walked with Elrohir to the waiting Elladan. His elder grandson looked up, nodded, and handed his mother to his grandfather after the Elf had knelt. Celeborn's eyes brimmed with tears. He stroked her forehead and the little wisps of hair left to her and sobbed quietly. Elladan and Elrohir sat next to him. Gently they sang a healing song as Celeborn rocked her.
Eighteen hours after the missive was placed in Elrond's hands, he found himself only two hours from the entrance to the Caradhras Pass. To think it took them three months to find her, and her so close to the very spot she had been taken. Cold sweat covered his brow, unusual, but reflective of the cold horror that continuously clutched at his heart.
He heard the shout and his heart rose in hope. The campsite was just ahead. Pulling his shoulders back, he rode forward, Galdor at his side. The sight that greeted him should have warmed his heart, but his anger at Celeborn flared. He took a few deep breaths, then dismounted and walked towards the little party. None noticed him, except for his seneschal.
Glorfindel strode forward. "My Lord Elrond, your coming is most propitious. Celebrían lives but her fëa grows weaker by the minute. I..." He stopped in consternation. "Your anger is directed towards whom?"
Elrond tore his eyes from the body of his wife and looked at Glorfindel in surprise. "My anger?"
"It flows from you as the waters of the Bruinen. Do you fault your ionnath for the untimely rescue?"
Another deep breath. "Nay." He shivered. "My anger is at her Adar. It is a little thing though. This moment should be directed towards her, towards helping her recover. I am glad you noted my anger. It will be put aside until she is back in Imladris." He stepped forward and knelt at her side.
Elladan and Elrohir sobbed in joy. "Adar, you have come. We need you so desperately. She will not wake." Elrond's focus was on her, the wounds he saw, and the ones he knew were hidden by the blankets surrounding her.
"Adadhron has made a listing of her wounds. Glorfindel, give it to Adar."
Surprised, Elrond took it and gave it a cursory glance. Wounds he had already imagined were on the list and some he had not. They had had her for three months. Somehow, he had not expected her to survive. Now that he saw the list, he was confounded by her courage, by the fact that she yet lived.
Celeborn looked at him as the Lord of Imladris tried to take her from his arms. Pure hatred flowed between the two. Elladan put his hand on Celeborn's arm and whispered, "Please, let Adar hold her."
He nodded and handed his precious child over to the one who had let her come on such a foolish journey, the one who was responsible for her capture and torture. He sat back and watched, fury slowly abating at the actions of Gil-galad's herald. Tears misted his eyes as the great Elf-lord stroked her barely non-existent hair, cupped her chin in his hand, glided his fingers over her lips. Such a look of love, pain, and utter grief covered that great face that Celeborn could do naught but yield to the love he saw. He had forgotten, in his anger, why he had allowed his daughter to marry the Peredhel.
At last, Elrond looked up. His eyes opened wide at the sight of the weeping Lord of Lórien. "We both love her very much," he whispered.
Celeborn nodded. "I needed some time to accept what happened to her - hence, the list. I could not bear looking upon her."
"Well I understand. Give me the list again, Elladan. Elrohir, would you go to the packhorse and fetch my bag? Galdor knows where it is."
"Yes, Adar." The younger stood and ran to the horses, just now being unloaded.
"How much did he see, Elladan? How much did you see?"
"Everything. Elrohir cleansed her body." The eldest son bit his lip. "She was despoiled, Adar. I know not how many times. She will need much sewing." His son's tears fell as he spoke.
"And you both will need healing as well."
"Nay. Only revenge. It will be bitter and sweet, but we will have our revenge." Elladan's eyes blackened, his voice turned fell.
Elrond had seen such a look before. He shuddered. It was the same look he had seen upon the face of Maedhros. The High-elf had come to Maglor's to visit his brother. Elros and Elrond had been there. They both had cried out when he stepped into the room. His hand was gone, the stub wrapped in black cloth, but it was not that sight that frightened the young Elves, it was the look in Maedhros' eyes. Elrond had never forgotten it, and now, sadly, he saw the same look in his own son's eyes.
"We will speak of these things when we return to Imladris. Glorfindel, take Elladan and Elrohir hunting. I would have a hearty broth made of red meat. There are deer in these mountains. Find one and bring it here. As soon as you can."
Glorfindel nodded. Elladan and Elrohir balked, but Celeborn stood and admonished them to obey their father. They finally left with the Balrog-slayer.
"That was wise. They should not be here whilst you minister to her."
"It is for their own good. As well as mine. I do not know how I would sew her, knowing they were watching. Will you attend me?"
"I will." Celeborn stood and ordered hot water and towels brought to them. As he waited, he laid a clean cloth upon the ground, opened Elrond's kit, and spread the contents out before him. "What have you need of first?"
"These must be put into a bowl and hot water poured upon them. We will use the mix as an anti-putrefaction to cleanse the wounds."
The mix prepared, Elrond set to work. Celeborn removed the upper portion of the blanket and they began with Celebrían's scalp. A mixture of athelas boiled nearby, its sweet scent keeping darkness from the two. After her head was thoroughly cleansed, Elrond gave Celeborn a vial. "This is to help the burns. Lather it liberally on each one. I have three large lacerations to sew."
Celeborn gulped. "Will her hair grow back?"
"It will. Though I am not sure if it will be silver. Sometimes, after such trauma, the hair whitens."
"It matters not. As long as it covers the scars and burns."
"It will. That I promise. Now, let us attend to her ears." He choked on the words. "The tips... I cannot replace them."
"Nay. I can understand that. But at least, if they could be sewn together." He wanted to retch, but leaned over and took a great whiff of the athelas. Then, Celeborn turned back to his daughter's face.
Working for over an hour on each ear, Elrond finally sat back and took a deep breath. "That is the best I can do. When the swelling goes down, they will look better."
"My Lords." They both stood as Galadriel neared them. "You must take a rest and eat. I will hold her, for the time."
There was no gainsaying the tone in the Lady of Lórien's voice. Celeborn kissed Galadriel's forehead after she had kissed Elrond's. Then, she knelt and took her daughter in her arms. Both Elves left her and went to the fire.
"Ah, my little one," she whispered. "What have they done to you? If I could take your place... My sweet little one." Tears had not fallen at Alqualondë, nor at the Helcaraxë, but here, this day, tears fell. The trees swayed in mute sympathy and understanding. She knew Celeborn watched her, so she kept her shoulders stiff, but her fëa suffered untold agony.
"All will be well; your husband's love will help his hands heal you. Did you know your Adar watches over Elrond's hands? They are working together. Yes, the Valar themselves will be surprised to know it, but they are working together to heal you. Your Elf-lord is quite the healer. You know you have been seriously wounded? Well, he will not allow you to suffer overmuch. He has athelas simmering and salves and such. You know the great stock he puts in his apothecary. He has brought almost every item stored there. To help you."
She watched Celebrían's face for some sign of recognition, and found herself sighing as she tried to probe her daughter for some sign of awareness. "Ah, my sweet one. I suppose it is best that you not awaken. At least for another while. Elrond has a few more things that must needs be sewn. Though he has medicaments to deaden the pain, it would not deaden your horror if you were awake. So sleep, my little one, and dream of the Golden Wood and your Adar's love. Mine too, my sweet one," she sobbed, clenched her teeth to prevent her body from betraying her, and hummed a little lullaby.
Celeborn was at her side, holding her tightly to him. "She will be well and will sing again in the Golden Wood."
She nodded as his gentle touch tore the resolve from her and she let herself grieve.
A/N - 1) Antiseptic, IMHO, is too 'modern' a term to use as it was only coined around 1750. Therefore, I used anti-putrefaction. [Origin: 1350-1400; ME < LL putrefaction- (s. of putrefactio) a rotting, equiv. to L putrefact(us) (ptp. of putrefacere to putrefy) + -ion- -ion ] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/putrefaction; 2) There seems to be no set time known that Celebrían was held captive. I've made it a few months, though I personally wonder how on earth she would have survived that long. And how on earth it was that the twins did not find her for so long. Yet, it seems, IMHO, plausible. For her to abandon all she loved and leave Middle-earth, she must have endured a great deal of pain and torture over an extended period of time. She was attacked in 2509 and left Middle-earth in 2510. 3) fëa - akin to the soul or spirit.
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