24. Day 25: Grief (Galadriel, Celeborn)
Few things made Galadriel speechless. She chose not to speak, but was not made to be silent. Tonight, though...
Celeborn risked a hasty glance beside him, but he need not have been cautious: she was very far away, and the way her eyes stared upwards at the stars, unblinking, made him think that she was farther, even, than what they remembered together. He let his fingers wander until they found hers, and she smiled at the touch, squeezed back.
"At least," Celeborn began, knowing that one of them had to say it, and hoping to spare her some suffering by being the first. "At least we need not lose her completely. We may see her again, the Valar willing."
"My father's eyes shone like that," she said, pointing at the stars. "He was--is, I hope--very fair and handsome, but his eyes were always his best feature. Ever so clear and transparent--not innocent; he had seen too much sorrow for that, I think, but above that, at peace, despite everything. I have often wondered if... They dimned."
Celeborn made himself stay as still as he could, so he would not call attention to himself and break the flow of her thoughts. In all their many years together, Galadriel had said such few things about her life in Valinor, especially about her father. Celeborn had never demanded from her more than was fair of him, and they had both made their peace with the fact that they had lived very different lives before they found each other. When they joined their feas in the unending bond, they accepted each other wholly. But, for Galadriel to bring it up now, there had to be a good reason; and, though he had his own ideas in that regard, they were useless to them both. The only real good would come when she had purged herself from their hold on her.
Celeborn bit the inside of his lip; an annoying trait it was, but an excellent way to inconspicuously relieve momentary impatience and frustration. For all that they call it The Blessed Realm, she has always seemed more haunted by it than anything. Perhaps I am right--the real test is to be at peace with oneself, and place does not provide that.
She spoke again. "My Uncles had such strong personalities, both of them. My father was always overshadowed, and I hated that. How I hated it! That nobody would ever see the fire lurking under those eyes because they would never look long enough was vexing beyond belief. And that my father was content letting it be thus, irreconcilable to any notion of pride and self-respect that I had ever entertained." She stopped. Her hold on his hand became stronger.
"One day, Caranthir called him 'weakling.'" Her distate rolled out of her mouth in every syllable, even now. "And I could not help myself. I hit him hard. I drew blood from his lip, scratched his forearms with my nails. He hit back, but I was nimble. And angry. When Finrod was finally able to step in to break us apart, my father had already reached us. The fire in his eyes... As bright as the light of the trees. He was so angry."
Galadriel looked at him then, gave him a small smile.
"He was probably scared," was all Celeborn managed to say. That she was truly sharing this with him touched him deeply.
"That is what he said, later. Much later. But he was forceful then, made me apologize in front of them all. I was so angry and humiliated. I could not believe that he would be so meek with everybody else but so angry with me. I was angry with him for a long time. I always thought I had been right, until now." She turned on her side to look at him and rested her head on her forearm. "Do you think Celebrian will see him, when she gets there? Do you think he will know her for who she is?"
"I have no doubt that he will. When he senses her, she will feel... familiar."
"She is... gone." Neither of them had dared say it until then. "For all the practice we have had at parting from people we care about, I have not learned much. And I foresee so many painful patings still in store. I feel undone."
His feelings, exactly. "We would have lost her here, Galadriel. The damage was too great; she would have faded here. She had to go." He repeated to her what he had been repeating to himself all these days since their daughter had come back, only a half-shell of who she had been, but it did not lessen the hurt. "I think that we must be very careful how we handle this. Our feelings. I want nothing more than to make someone--many someones--pay for what happened to my child. I thought... I had thought those feelings buried a long time ago. We have work still to do here; people to help, to protect. Alas, I could not protect my own daughter!"
She touched his forearm gently; she knew just how to touch him to ease his tension.
"There is nothing anybody could have done. It burns something inside, but it is the truth. If we let our feelings rule in this, they will take us down a path neither of us wishes to see the other go, but must we always be strong? I feel so weary, so guilty, so tainted. Is this what my father suffered when we left? Five-fold! If this grief did not kill him, then nothing can. I hated him for so many years, for turning back; but now I know that I hated myself for leaving him. Now I have sent my child back to him... Will she find welcome? He must hate me."
"Do you hate Celebrian for leaving?"
"No. I could never hate my child."
"Then that is your answer."
"Will we see her again, Celeborn?" she asked, finally resting her head on his shoulder.
As he wrapped her close against him, he said, "Let us live so that we may earn the right."
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.