7. A Gentle Touch
A gentle touch. 'How can this be?' She shuddered at the horror of it. That something gentle should be prelude to pain. Whatever beast now touched her must surely know torture well - for this touch gave her hope and it would be dashed, crushed under the vile tongue that would assail her mouth and the rod that would pierce her. She wept bitterly, for hope had long ago deserted her. Yet, this touch, this gentle touch filled her heart with something akin to lost hope. Her tears turned to sobs as the enormity of her loss flooded her fëa.
"Hush, my sweet. I am here for you. You are safe."
'What whispering is this that soothes? No Orch can soothe.' Her ears still rang, but if she squeezed her eyes tight shut, she could almost hear a melodious voice calling to her. Almost, but not quite. 'It is a trick. They now disguise their voices to mimic my Naneth's.' Her sobs grew louder, choked the breath from her, made her body shiver.
Another gentle touch, this time to her cheek, and she reeled and screamed in terror. 'Please, Elbereth. Ask Badhron to take me now. Please, I can endure this no longer.'
The clawed hand removed itself. She lay still, hoping it would think her swooned, and leave her, but it did not. She could feel it still beside her, though it did not touch her further. Her body betrayed her; she shivered mightily. Another whisper and her brow furrowed. 'Naneth? But it cannot be Naneth. I am dead, mayhap, one of the hröa-less. Badhron has not taken me, but neither am I alive to be their sport.' She breathed a sigh of relief. Then screamed again in horror as the hand touched her again. 'Not dead. Not dead,' she cried out. Pain lanced through her - every part of her being felt it, as if a surgeon's knife had been taken to her wounds and scraped and cut and defiled her even further. So that was why they moved her; they brought her to someone who could cut her and yet leave her alive. What sport they must be having. Her body again shivered; this time it would not stop. Her teeth chattered and her body shook. She began to cry again. Never had she felt such pain, such horror, such fear. How she wished she were in her Ada's arms.
"Celebrían," he said as gently as he could. He had taken her into his arms when the shaking had become too much for even Galadriel to hold her. "Celebrían, it is Ada. I hold you in my arms, my sweet, and kiss your brow. Remember how I kissed you when you were but a wee one? Feel that love, Celebrían, feel it in your heart."
Her eyes flickered; he held his breath.
"It is nothing," Elrond sobbed. "Her eyes have flickered before. It means naught." Nevertheless, Elrond motioned for Galadriel to join them. Only a few steps away, she had watched in horror as her daughter's body continued to shake violently.
As Elrond knelt, Celeborn called again, "Celebrían," while gently kissing her forehead. "All is well now. You can come out from your hiding place."
Elrond stifled a sob. "Would she sometimes hide?"
"As a little one, she would. She loved to play the game. Sometimes, it was difficult to find her and I would become frightened. She always heard it, when fear touched my voice, and she would come forth, giggling and hug me, saying how sorry she was to have frightened me. Celebrían."
"By all the Valar!" He held her tighter and she screamed in terror. "Nay, nay, my darling. It is your Ada. I am here. You can come out now. Come out and play with me." Tears streamed down the Lord of Lórien's cheeks. "Come out now and hug your Ada."
"Ada." Her eyes opened, but Celeborn flinched at the blood that coursed through them. The silver-gray of her eyes was lost in the depths of the blood-soaked eyes. He checked the shivering that threatened him and kissed her forehead. "Celebrían," he whispered, choking on the sobs that tried to engulf him, "Celebrían, my own. I am here. Can you see me? Can you hear me?"
She looked at him, puzzlement writ across her face. He nodded and smiled, whispering so that Elrond could hear and understand him. "She cannot hear, but I believe she can see me."
Falling to his knees, the Lord of Imladris watched as his beloved opened her eyes and looked up at her Adar. Elrond did not stir, just drank in the sight of her and wished she was in his arms instead. Celeborn kept kissing her forehead and whispering to her. At last, her eyes glazed and she rested, this time, peacefully.
"She will need more drugs. The pain when she wakes will be severe," Elrond said quietly. "I have failed her."
Celeborn wept openly. "Nay. I have failed her"
"We will have no such talk as this," the dulcet tones of the Lady of Lórien brought both men up short. "She sleeps, I see."
"She does, and peacefully. I cannot understand it."
"Her will is strong, ion nín," Galadriel said quietly. "Now that she knows she has been saved, she will recover."
Celeborn shook his head, but did not speak. Elrond stood and embraced her. "You speak truly. She will heal and we will soon celebrate."
The Lord of Lórien held his daughter close, unsure.
"We have felled a fine young doe." Glorfindel stepped forward, taking in the campsite and understanding that there was finally hope. "I am sure all are hungry."
Elladan and Elrohir followed behind him. Their gait was slow and weary. When they saw their family gathered around Celebrían's still form, both cried out in horror and ran forward. Elrond stood and stopped them. "She sleeps. Peacefully. Come and see her for yourselves."
The twins looked down upon their mother and wept. Her eyes were glazed and only partially closed in the embrace of a deep sleep. "Come, ionnath nín. Take your rest. Sit by her and watch her and welcome the life that has been returned to us."
Glorfindel stood for a moment, watching the reunion, and smiled tiredly. Elves ran forward and took the doe from his hands and others brought water and cloth for him to lave his face and hands with. Blood stained the front of his tunic, but he cared not; Celebrían was saved and would be healed.
The night passed quickly. The entire retinue focused on the return to Imladris. As soon as morning came, the horses were prepared; Celebrían was placed into the litter brought from Imladris, and the company, including the Lórien Elves, moved westward.
The first night, they camped in a small hollow with twice the usual number of pickets set out. Elrond's scouts told of numerous Yrch tracks, but none were found. The second night, the campsite occupied the entire road, for the path ran as a needle through two parts of the mountain. It was difficult riding and they did not travel far both that day nor the next. Signs of trolls were everywhere and none slept well on the fourth night. At last, on the seventh night, they camped above Imladris, only ten leagues from the hidden vale. Though all had hoped to finally be done with the march, Celebrían was not healing as quickly as Elrond had thought and they rested for the night, still upon the road.
Arwen stood on the steps of the Last Homely House and watched as Elves carried her mother towards her. Elrohir had ridden ahead and warned her they were coming. She ordered preparations in the healing ward and then ran to stand next to her brother as the entourage stepped into the glade in front of Elrond's home.
"She..." Elrohir started, then stopped. "Arwen, her face is... She has no hair..."
"Peace, 'Ro. I can only imagine how she must look, but speak no further on it. I will..." she shivered. "I will be able to stand it, I promise."
"I know you will, tithen gwanun. If you need to, cling to me."
She nodded as Elrond strode forward and embraced her; then her father took her arm and brought her next to the litter. Clenching her teeth at the sight of the bruised face and the near hairless head, Arwen bent and kissed the lips that had oft kissed hers. "Nana, welcome home." She stepped back and the guard took the litter, and her mother, into the house and towards the healing ward. Elrond hugged her, whispered, "Thank you," and quickly followed the litter. Celeborn and Galadriel stepped forward and embraced her. Celeborn then followed after Elrond. Galadriel did not let her go; she held her tightly and whispered. "I would love a small cordial. I believe you need one too." Arwen's shoulders shook as grief overcame her.
"She will live, your Adar tells me. Let us look to her wardrobe and find some nice things for her to wear whilst she heals in the ward. She will not be happy wearing one of those Valar-awful gowns the healers apportion out."
Arwen stifled a giggle and hiccupped. "There," Galadriel said, "that is better. Lead me to your Nana's room and let us see what we can find."
At Galadriel's gentle touch, Arwen sighed. "I am very glad you came."
Tithen gwanun. - little sister
Hroa - body
Gentle reminder: The Sindarin equivalent of Námo is Badhron. Námo was more commonly known as Mandos (Q: "Prison-fortress"), which is more correctly the name of his dwelling. The Sindarin name for Mandos is Bannoth. 2) In Sindarin, the equivalents to Vala and Valar would be Balan and Belain, respectively. http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Mandos and Valar...
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