7. Day 7: Bridging the Distance (Galadriel, Celeborn, and a tree)
In terms of beauty, it was nothing remarkable--certainly nothing compared to other glades, other gardens that she had seen, long ago; but, in terms of its effect on her, she had never been more taken aback by anything the way she had been when she arrived there. She could almost say that she was... "Happy. At peace. This has to be the right place."
The spell was broken quite quickly.
"He was right! She is quite... Remarkable."
Artanis stiffened at the sudden intrusion of her thoughts, if intrusion it had been. There was no one else there with her; she could feel no one, although, if he were to appear...
"He? Do you mean Silver Tree?"
Silver Tree... "Do you mean Celeborn?"
She felt the whole glade come alive with the mention of his name, and smiled. She had been right. This, then, was the right place.
Walking toward an elm, she placed her hands on the bark and rested her head on them.
"Celeborn comes here?" she asked, tentatively, and felt the tree tremble.
"He has said this is his favorite place in all of Doriath." Assent from the other trees. "Do you know why he is not here now?"
No. And, struck by the impropriety of his finding her in his garden when he had never given her permission made her hope, fervently, that he would not come while she was yet there. They had not parted well the last time, and she could not possibly explain her presence in his one-of-a-kind place unless she told him the truth. That, she could not do. Not yet. So, she settled for the standard reply.
"Apparently he was out... on patrol. They said he would not be back until later. You know how essential he is to the running of Doriath. "
"Do you think so, lady?"
"Do you not?"
Again, a slight tremor ran through the tree. She felt like laughing.
"You do care for him!" she exclaimed, quite delighted.
"So do <i>you.</i>"
At those words, she let go of the bark as though she had been burned. How dare you?
Ripples of animosity ran through the glade, but were quickly replaced by something else entirely. Amusement?
"For all your steel, lady Galadriel, you do have a heart somewhere."
"That is what he called you. That is not... is that not your name?"
Ga-la-driel. Galadriel! Was that what Celeborn thought? He had never said--did he call her that? The thought of it was too much for her to bear with composure.
"I have to go," she said, hastily, turning to go the way she had come. Suddenly, it occurred to her--"Please, do not tell him I was here! He would not... would not see the point."
"Be safe, lady."
"You too," she said, the first response that came to mind, and dashed away, to safety. As she thought of it later, she was struck by the dumbness of it.
Celeborn had looked in all the usual places and was, as a last--desperate, yes--measure, looking in the only place where he had never thought to find her: the kitchens.
She looked incredibly ridiculous with flour up to her elbows and in a couple of spots on her face where, he suspected, she had tried to dry sweat or push her hair back. She had never looked more lovely, flustered though she was, in all the radiance of her valinorean beauty.
"Whatever are you doing here?" he asked, not caring to say hello. She had ever been as straightforward with him.
"I needed something to do, and you know I have no patience for books or embroidery. I needed to pounce on something," she said, glancing meaningfully down at the dough on the table. "Might as well work on something productive, for a change."
Celeborn smiled, briefly. He tried to feel for her fea and, for once, she was strangely open to him. Troubled, but uncharacteristically excited.
"The dough can wait," he said, gesturing toward the door and making his way there. "Besides," he added, as he walked past her, "I doubt that anybody will eat anything you make."
"Why so endearing?" she asked once they were back outside.
"Just trying to make you feel welcome."
"How did you even know I was here? I was told that you were scouting the borders with a party of guards and would not be back until much later. And you have not changed," she said, her eyes lingering on his soiled clothes, "which means that you have not been in to see the King, so you could not have possibly heard of my arrival."
"Come, now, Artanis," he said, choosing to disregard the fact that she had all but confessed she had made enquiries about him. "Do you truly have no idea where I could have heard--?" He held her eyes very keenly for more than was necessary, until he saw it: that flicker that told him she knew that he had discovered where she had been. As always, she held herself straight and proud, but he had seen enough to know differently.
"Charming place," she said, "for a garden."
Celeborn laughed then.
"It is not a garden, not in the strict sense of the terminology. To be a garden, I would have to tend it."
"But you do tend it! The whole place feels of you..." and there she trailed off, conscious of what she had just said. He advanced enough to put just a step between them.
"I would have taken you there," he said, and was surprised to hear his voice grow so tender. "But you were always thinking of other things."
"You mean, past sins?"
"One day you will have to let go of them, or else let them make you their slave."
"I am no one's slave."
"Then do not be."
She had to be feeling the force of his will, begging her to leave her past behind.
"There is so much left unsaid between us, Celeborn."
He nodded. "Will you tell me now?"
"How can you be oblivious to it all? My part... the Kinslaying. They were your kin, Celeborn, and mine, and I did nothing! I kept it from you... How can you even countenance looking at me? How can you ever forgive me?"
"If you had been paying attention, you would have known that I already have, Galadriel. Time you forgave yourself."
Celeborn stretched his hand to her.
And Galadriel took it.
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.