She kept her eyes closed as her mind wandered, trying to piece together what was happening to her. She had dreamt she was in her father's arms. A small sob escaped her as she thought how real it had seemed. But she was again being poked and prodded and the pain was back with a vengeance. When she felt the clawed hand move towards her chest and her nipples, her eyes flew wide and she screamed with all that was left in her.
"Forgive me, my Lady, forgive me. I was just going to change your bandages."
Elrond stepped forward and moved Alcardilmë aside. Nodding towards Erestor, he continued to Celebrían's side. Hesitantly, he took her hand in his and whispered, "Fear not, muin nín, my beloved, it is I, your Elrond." Erestor led the healer away, trying to calm the poor elleth.
Celebrían's body was stiff, her arms clasped close to her sides, her eyes tight shut, and her jaw clenched.
"It is I, Celebrían. You are safe and at home." He gently rubbed the fingers in his hand. "Erestor," he whispered when once his friend had returned, "Put more athelas in the pot." Elrond's counselor obeyed then sat on a chair across the room from his Lord and Lady.
"He sleeps now, Celebrían. I will send for him." Erestor rose and left the room. Elrond's heart broke; did she only find comfort...? She blamed him, of that the Lord of Imladris was certain. She blamed him for not keeping her safe, for leaving her in torment for so long, for not rescuing her. He silently cursed every curse he knew as he watched her tears flow.
At last, she sighed and slept.
"I know not what keeps her alive." Glorfindel put his hand on Elrond's shoulder. "Forgive me for entering uninvited. You were intent upon her."
"She only speaks her Ada's name."
The golden-haired Elf remained quiet.
"I have done all I can to help her. She does not respond."
"She opened her eyes, when first she came here."
"And naught since - not even for her Adar. I begin to wonder if she will heal."
"With you as her healer, how could she not?"
"Did you not see the wounds? Did you not understand how she came by them? Not by some gentle touch." Elrond's voice cracked. "It is now a month. She opened her eyes once."
Celeborn entered; he acknowledged Glorfindel, then moved to the bed. "Has she...?"
The Balrog-slayer nodded a greeting to the Lord of Lórien and left them.
"There has been no change. She called your name just a few moments ago. That is why I sent for you. I had hoped she was awakening. It appears not."
"Get you some rest, Elrond. I will sit by her again. Galadriel has decided she best return to Lórien. The Ring," he explained without apology.
"Of course. She must guard her realm."
They sat silently watching the Lady of Imladris.
Arwen came in after an hour of so had passed and gently persuaded both Elrond and Celeborn to retire for the night. She promised she would sit with Celebrían.
Hesitantly, they agreed. Both Elves kissed the wounded elleth on her forehead and left the room. After a few moments, Arwen sat on the side of the bed and took Celebrían's hand in her own. She began to hum a little lullaby that her mother had oft sung to her. The hand in hers twitched. "Nana?"
Poppy-glazed eyes looked at her. "Arwen?" The moan that followed was pitiful. "They have taken you also? Oh Arwen. If we can find a knife, I will kill you. You will not have to endure their torment. Then, perhaps, I will have the courage to end my own life." She choked. Her throat hurt terribly. 'Ah!' She remembered the reason and began to choke further, trying to cough up the horror and taste of 'them.' Tightly squeezing her eyes shut, she sobbed. "Arwen," she clutched her daughter's hand, "do everything they tell you. It is best. They do hideous things to you, but if you fight them.... Oh Arwen! I would spare you this," she wept piteously. "Oh Arwen!" Sobs wracked her body.
Arwen took her mother into her arms in horror and tried to assuage her fears, but naught that she said could break through the terror that had overtaken Celebrían. "Nana," she tried for the tenth time, "Please, Nana. Everything is all right. I am safe. You are safe. You are home in Imladris. Adar is here as are Adadhron and Nanadhril. You are safe." Nothing she said was heard; her mother kept on weeping and railing about the tortures she endured. Arwen became distraught, for her mother's fëa seemed to be slipping away in the terror of her memories. She called out loudly, but no one came to help her. At last, in utter despair, the young elleth lowered her mother back onto the bed and ran from the room screaming to the empty hall for anyone to help her. Within moments, Glorfindel was at her side.
"Ada, we need Ada!"
The Balrog-slayer watched in horror as Celebrían thrashed about the bed. "I will bring him. Go back to her."
Arwen nodded and ran back to her mother's side. She took a cup that sat on the sideboard and tried to urge her mother to drink the athelas tea, but Celebrían screamed that it was poison and almost fell from the bed as she struggled to move far from the creature that tormented her.
Arwen took her by the arms and held her tightly. "Nana. It is I, Arwen. You are in Imladris. You are safe. I am safe. Open your eyes, please, and see that what I say is true." Celebrían thrashed still and Arwen brought her mother to her and held her gently, weeping in despair.
"Arwen?" A heavy sigh followed. "Arwen?"
"Yes, Nana, it is I. Would you like some tea?" Arwen tried to keep her voice low and calm. "It has honey in it. You will like it."
"Honeyed tea," her mother sighed again. "You will join me?"
"Of course, Nana. And then we shall listen to some music. Would you like Lindir to play for us?"
"Oh! That would be most pleasant." Her eyes still remained closed, but Arwen noted Celebrían seemed calmer.
"A dream you know."
"What is, Nana?"
"This. I am dreaming you are by my side, offering me tea, holding me close to you." The Lady of Imladris choked. "But it is only a dream. I am still in the cave. They will come again soon." Her voice became strident and her breathing grew frantic. "They are coming, Arwen. You must go. Even though a dream, they may touch you somehow. Defile you. Or my memory of you. Yes, that is their ploy. They want to defile my memories. Oh Arwen! Go away now. Please."
"Nana," Arwen kept her voice low and firm. "I am not a dream. I am in no cave. I am in the healing ward of Adar's house and you are in my arms and we are holding each other. And this is, indeed tea, though I would have liked to have some cakes with it. But we are having tea together."
Glorfindel entered the room and whispered, "Your Adar will be here in a moment."
"Ask Lindir to come here with his harp. Quietly, so not to frighten her."
The Elf nodded and quickly left. The next moment, Elrond had entered, but stopped as Arwen held a hand up to stay him.
"Tea. Is it spring yet, Arwen? I am tired of the cold." Celebrían shook her head. "Of course it is cold. I am in a cave and they keep me naked so to watch me." She shuddered. "I can not stand seeing their eyes. It is almost worse than their hands raking over me." Her voice began again to tremble and her breathing grew ragged. "I hate their eyes, Arwen. Do not look into their eyes."
Arwen pulled her mother even closer. "Shh. Have another sip of the tea. Would you like a piece of lembas? We could dip it in the tea, like we did when we traveled to Nanadhril's. Do you remember our trips to Lórien, Nana?"
The elleth shook her head. "I do. Oh!" she almost shrieked. "Returning. We were returning." She shook her head in confusion. "But you were not with us."
"Remember the time we rode to Bree? We stopped along the road and had tea then." Arwen cursed herself silently for bringing up Lórien.
"Yes. The horses were frisky that day, do you remember? We giggled wondering if some animal... Arwen! There were Yrch close by. We barely escaped."
"Nay. Nay, Nana, the trip to Bree was uneventful; we spent it in laughter. You remember how Glorfindel tried to urge us along faster and we deliberately slowed even further. He was nigh beside himself with frustration." Arwen gave a sidewise glance to the ellon and apologized with her eyes. "He did not know we enjoyed the ride too much to be hurried."
Tears slipped from Celebrían's eyes. "I do not remember such a trip."
"Well, then. It is time we went to Bree again. The Hobbits there were delightfully polite. We can go for their Yule feast, if you would like. They decorate the town so wonderfully."
"Yule? Then it is not spring?" Another tear slid down her cheek.
At that moment, Lindir entered with his harp. He had not seen his Lady before this; the sight was difficult for she had lost so much weight she seemed a wraith. He took a deep breath and stilled the shivering that assailed him, sat near the window, and began to pluck the strings, humming gently an old lullaby.
Celebrían's tears flowed, but within moments, she slept.
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.