The Song Of Sunset
43. Sacrifices Part Three
Celeborn approached Anoriel saying, “A dance?”
“In my father’s stead,” Anoriel replied solemnly as she accepted his hand. Thranduil watched them for a moment before turning his attention to Galadriel, whose eyes were weary though she had fought no war.
“I have not yet thanked you for lending my Ada strength then,” Thranduil smiled at her.
“It was the least I could do for someone who had done so much for me,” Galadriel bowed to him, “I fear that it is the doom upon me which haunts your house. I should have never stood in your mother’s stead.”
“As it is, I would beg you again, if we turn back the time,” Thranduil said firmly, “My father is with my mother, whom he loved dearly. They will be at peace.”
“I pray that you will find peace with her presence,” Galadriel said softly with her eyes on her husband and Anoriel.
“So do I,” Thranduil raised his goblet.
Erestor approached them, his pitch black robes trailing on the floor silently. Thranduil relinquished his seat to his friend saying, “I will claim my bride, Celeborn has been tarrying.”
“Indeed,” Erestor graced him with a smile before taking the offered seat beside Galadriel. Thranduil bowed to them and walked away to join Anoriel. Celeborn moved to Elrond’s side and they started conversing.
“You saw his death,” Erestor said quietly, his eyes fixed on Thranduil and Anoriel
“I did, My Lord,” Galadriel said equally quiet, “I foresaw it long ago. I could not meddle with the fates no matter how much I loved him.”
“Would you have kept silent if it had been your husband?” Erestor asked emotionlessly, though his fingers were clenched white against his goblet.
“Yes,” Galadriel said simply.
They remained silent for a long while before Galadriel spoke again, “It was not your fault that he died. Nor mine. His fate was that. You gave him the best years of his life, you took his loneliness away at the expense of your own happiness. You stood by him even when he did not stand by you. You did more than anyone else.”
“Yet it was not enough to pull me with him into Mandos,” Erestor remarked as he leant back in his chair, “Obviously I did not love him enough.”
“It was more than enough to drag you into death,” Galadriel said quietly, “I could not pull you back with my skills. But Elrond fought tooth and nail to save you from death. You have friends who would die for you, as Gil-Galad had a mate to follow him into death.”
“No, Galadriel,” Erestor said, “There is no bond anymore. It was severed after his death. All that binds me to him is my vows. Still I have atleast that to cling to.”
“Nobody of my kin has called me by my name for centuries. I thank you for reminding me that I have yet blood relatives on these lands,” Galadriel said sincerely, “The only advice I can give you is what Oropher once told me : follow your heart, it will never betray you.”
“Celebrían comes with us to Imladris then?” Erestor asked, “No wedding ceremony?”
“No, it is not seemly for them to have a ceremony when the princess herself has sacrificed hers in honour of her fallen kin,” Galadriel said with a deep sigh, “And Elrond is not in favour of one too. They have exchanged rings as their acceptance of the vows of marriage.”
Erestor nodded. Galadriel asked in a lighter tone, “As my errant husband seems to have devoted himself to Elrond tonight, would you do me the honour of a dance?”
“In stead of your nephew?” Erestor raised an eyebrow.
“You are a nephew too,” Galadriel got to her feet, “But I want to know that there are no regrets. The love of our kin and our family will carry us both through.”
Erestor bowed and took the proffered hand. There was a collective gasp as Galadriel raised her voice in song,
"Gil-galad was an Elven-king.
Of him the harpers sadly sing:
the last whose realm was fair and free
between the Mountains and the Sea.”
Erestor’s grip on the lady’s waist tightened as he met her darkened, cold blue eyes. As if on cue, Thranduil began to move towards them, his face marred by a frown.
Galadriel smiled as she wrapped her arms around Erestor’s midriff whispering, “You betray him, My Lord.”
Erestor’s eyes widened as he tried to close his mind to the powerful onslaught as the lady continued to sing in her harsh voice,
"His sword was long, his lance was keen,
his shining helm afar was seen;
the countless stars of heaven's field
were mirrored in his silver shield."
“I have never betrayed him in life,” Erestor said in a shaky voice, “Why would I begin to do so in death?”
Galadriel laughed as she sung bitterly,
"But long ago he rode away,
and where he dwellth none can say;
for into darkness fell his star
in Mordor where the shadows are.”
Erestor shook his head in disbelief as he pushed her away from him, sweat breaking on his fine brow, he was barely aware of Thranduil’s warm hands supporting him and leading him away. Galadriel closed her eyes as she whispered, “In Mordor where the shadows are, where the shadows are.”
“Not very tactful,” Elrond’s cold voice broke in on her thoughts, “Once again, your vindictiveness is unparalleled.”
Galadriel turned to face his accusing stare as she said quietly, “I was merely giving him the will to live on and to find love again. He cannot afford to cling to the past, none of us can.”
Thranduil walked slowly through the leave strewn paths under the mallorn trees. Anoriel was with Amroth, as was custom for brides on the day before their departure for their bonded’s lands.
“Cousin?” Celebrían’s hand snaked in through his arm easily as she crept on him unawares.
“’Bria,” Thranduil acknowledged as he raised her hand to his lips, “If orcs were as soft on foot as you, I would be long in Mandos.”
“You should keep vigil with your kin tonight, Thranduil,” Celebrían reminded him unnecessarily.
“Unfortunately for me, I seem to be lacking in kin,” Thranduil replied bitterly, “Still the trees are kin.”
“I am kin,” Celebrían rested her golden head on his shoulder, “Would you accept my company to keep vigil this night? Ada and Naneth are arguing, something regarding her song. So I presume you will not be graced with Ada’s company.”
“I miss my Ada tonight,” Thranduil whispered as he gazed up at the stars forlornly, “But, thank you, cousin, I will be glad of your company. What news?”
“Elrond and I exchanged rings,” Celebrían shrugged, “That is, he sent a ring through Anoriel, and I sent one back. Still, here it is,” she flashed a golden circle on her slim finger, “A mockery of our hearts.”
“He is a noble soul,” Thranduil sighed, not knowing what else to say.
“Yes,” Celebrían said smiling, “You should know having spent days and nights with him, is it not?”
“Do I smell of him?” Thranduil sniffed himself playfully as Celebrían laughed.
“Really, cousin!” Celebrían chastised, “You are the limit. Only you will be able to put up with Anoriel , for she has an equally bad sense of humour!”
“You are attracted to someone,” Thranduil turned to face her fully.
“Again, as ever your conversation is unpredictable,” Celebrían said softly, “But true; it is just a passing attraction, though I suppose I am beyond the age to have these silly crushes.”
“No,” Thranduil said solemnly, “I feel that desire is as strong as any other emotion. My love for Anoriel surpasses anything else. Still I find desire rising in my veins whenever I look upon Elrond or Erestor. Indeed I feel that I will always have an attraction regarding them. But it does not tarnish my love for Anoriel as long as I remain true to my vows. We are not the Valar. We cannot help desire. Though your mother might be above such things, the rest of us are normal elves!”
Celebrían nodded as his words sunk in, giving her the much needed mental support to take on her role as the wife of Elrond when she desired another.
“ Thranduil?” Erestor joined them, his robes rustling gently over the fallen leaves. He bowed to Celebrían with a soft smile.
“A moment,” Thranduil murmured to Celebrían as he exchanged a glance with Erestor. They went a few paces away and talked in Quenya, their voices melodic and low. Celebrían watched Thranduil laugh and embrace Erestor tightly before they separated.
“Now he is entirely at your disposal,” Erestor smiled at Celebrían and withdrew waving away her invitation to stay with them.
“He is enigmatic,” Celebrían said quietly, “Wonder how Gil and you managed to sleep with him. He…he does not seem capable of passion.”
“Oh!” Thranduil laughed even as she blushed at her own words, “Trust me, he is quite capable! After all, I speak from you know, what I speak from! He will have my tongue chopped off I he had heard me.”
“He is harsh then?” Celebrían looked tremulously in the direction where Erestor had disappeared off into, “The one or two times I met him outside of formality, he was quite polite and put me at my ease. He insisted that I address him by name.”
“He is all right, just a tad like Elrond. They hide their hearts behind their formality. Don’t worry, ‘Bria, the herald, the counsellor and the seneschal are all true souls. You will never have trouble from their side,” Thranduil assured her, “If they do something, you send word to me and I’ll stick things into certain holes of certain elves,” Celebrían punched his shoulder laughing, “I will!”
“Oh, cousin!” Celebrían said when she finally regained her breath, “Am glad that you have recovered well.”
Thranduil’s eyes clouded as he whispered, “I cannot bear to have you or Celeborn unhappy. You are all that is left to me as kin. And I mean my words, nobody will live to tell the tale should they hurt you by word or action.”
Celebrían hugged him and they stood still, the bonds of kinship that tied them reflected on their handsome features.
Elrond sat next to Erestor with a sigh. It would be a long meeting and he expected many frayed relations. They had bid farewell to Thranduil and his bride that morning. Now, it was time to elect a new leader.
“My Lords, now that we have assembled here, shall we proceed without further civilities?” Galadriel asked clearly, she continued as silence fell on the small group of Noldor nobles and a few of the Sindar who were considered close enough to the issue at hand.
“Gil-Galad left behind no clear will concerning the kingship, or that regarding the ring of power, Vilya. The logical assumption is that the kingship would pass along with the nearest in blood,” her eyes shifted to Elrond, “Along with the ring.”
There were uneasy glances as Galadriel smiled bitterly saying, “But there are others kin to the fallen King. Allow me to list those noble names,” she paused before her eyes rested on Círdan, who shrugged.
“The house of Fëanor, we are uncertain to the fate of Maglor,” Galadriel closed her eyes, “so we must discount him from our reckonings. We have no news of the fate of the Ring maker of Eregion. But he had given up all claims to the throne ever. That leaves us only with Lord Erestor, son to Maglor, fosterson to Noble Círdan, Chief-Counsellor to the High-King and bonded mate to Ernineon Gil-Galad.”
“I have no claim on his kingship or possessions, but I would make a request of Elrond should he allow me,” Erestor said somberly, “I wish to continue as the chief-counsellor if the herald and the heir has no objections. I wish to make reparations as much as I can strive to after all that my family has brought upon elvenkind. And Middle-Earth.”
Elrond opened his mouth to interject, but Galadriel said evenly, “I am proud of your noble words, Lord Erestor. We must stand together or fall apart. Of the house of Finarfin only I and Gildor remain. I stay in Middle-Earth only to repair my kins’ errors. My bloodline has relinquished my heritage in favour of my bonded’s. Lord Gildor?”
Gildor sighed and stared at Erestor before replying, “Ever have my line been bound to the service of the true line of high-King Finwë. I stand by that. But if Lord Erestor stands by his words, I will take to my wandering troops again in the foreseeable future.”
“You are unopposed, Lord Herald Half-Elven,” Círdan said softly. His words were a calculated insult to Elrond’s human blood, everybody knew that and some approved whole-heartedly.
Elrond bowed and stood, he spoke softly, his counsel advised by Thranduil centuries ago, when he had spoken with his friend after the argument with Gil-galad in Imladris on their first visit to the valley after it had become a flourishing city (Refer The Song Of Sunset Chapter 28 : ‘Confrontations’ http://j-dav.livejournal.com/11040.html) , “I will not take up the kingship that is not rightly that of my house. For the sake of unity, I will remain the herald and I beg that Lord Erestor remains the chief-counsellor. Gil-Galad shall be the last of the high-kings of the Noldor on this side of the ocean,” his eyes met Galadriel’s wondering ones, “There will be unity, this is all I wish.”
“If you wish it, then it shall be so,” Galadriel bowed.
“I wish to hand over the lordship of Imladris to the herald as it is his by right,” Erestor stood and bowed to Elrond, “Imladris and myself are at your disposal.”
“Lord Erestor,” Elrond felt a catch of breath in his throat as he bowed deeply to his long time desire, one time lover and ever good friend, “We served a star together. Now I shall be honoured to rule beside you, with you.”
Their eyes met as they straightened, for once, Elrond thought that he saw something beyond the warmth of friendliness, but then Erestor nodded gracefully and resumed his seat.
Galadriel spoke to Celeborn as he watched her undress with interest, “They are noble, both of them.”
“I suppose so. And goodlooking. ,” Celeborn shrugged as he casually raised a hand to rake through his hair hoping that she would catch on his desire, “’Bria could have such fun, if they all agreed, of course.”
Galadriel raised an eyebrow sternly even as she regarded her handsome husband with a fond quirk of her lips, “Meaning? Some Sindar tradition I am not aware of?”
“Ah!” Celeborn glared as he let the silken covers fall to the floor as he sat up and watched her stand before the mirror combing her hair, a thin gown covering her, “I think the Noldor started it! The Sindar have always gone for quality, not quantity. Certainly, none of us have cavorted in groups.”
Galadriel bit her lips as she chastised her husband half-amusedly, “Celeborn, are you attempting to imagine our dear offspring with both the noble counsellor and the herald at the same time?”
“I am not sure that I would have ever thought of such a thing if you had not put it so roguishly,” Celeborn said in an appalled tone, “I merely meant that they were good company. Now come to bed before you do worse mind reading! My daughter with two elves in her bed indeed!!!” he grumbled even as her hands slipped reassuringly around his midriff and her full lips kissed his anger away.
Elrond watched the stars blearily. He wanted to sleep, but he could not find the will to retire to his bed alone. Celebrían was with Haldir, he did not mind truly, still he felt the loneliness of his situation more. Glorfindel had decided to spend the night walking under the mallorn with his tent-mate of the past years, Gildor. Celeborn and Galadriel were engaged in rather loud activities that the sounds were audible even here. Elrond felt a smile tug at his lips, he knew that Thranduil and Anoriel would be doing the same somewhere on the plains.
Thinking of Thranduil made him feel sadder. But no, what he had experienced once with Erestor Maglorion would sustain him till the very end. He had vowed that there would be no other anymore. He could not help thinking of the world of difference between the gentle, skilled, lovemaking of Thranduil and the unbridled passion of Erestor. Maybe Thranduil had not been unrestrained with Elrond, because he valued their friendship over lust. The tales that he had heard of Thranduil spoke different.
Both Erestor and Thranduil, they were so alike, in passion, in nobility of bearing and compassion. Maybe that was why that he had fallen in love with one of them and had grown to cherish the other.
“No rest?” Erestor’s voice startled him and he shook his head turning to face the other elf.
“I have to talk with you, Elrond,” Erestor whispered as he joined Elrond on the open balcony to gaze at the skies, “But I cannot find the courage to do it.”
“What about? I thought the council went along fine,” Elrond said softly as he placed a hand on Erestor’s wrist clenched tightly around the railing that it shone pale white in the starlight.
“I….I, Elrond,” Erestor said in a shaky voice as he tore his gaze away from the sky and met Elrond’s gaze, “I have misused you. You suffered so much to keep me alive after Gil left us. I cannot tell you of the entire shame and pain that I carry within my soul for betraying all that was between us. I was not aware, still I know that can be no reason for what I did,” Elrond made to speak, but Erestor shook his head and knelt before him and clutched his hands saying quietly, “You should have killed me then. But you accepted my torture. Kill me, so that you can set yourself free for Celebrían.”
Elrond felt tears escape his eyes as he gripped Erestor’s face roughly in his hands and knelt down so that their gazes met again. Tears were flowing from Erestor’s weary eyes too.
“Set us both free,” Erestor whispered, “Set me free to die and join Gil whom I should never have deserted, set yourself free for her. There will be no judgement by the Valar, I deserve to be killed for what I committed.”
“And?” Elrond asked bitterly, “Why did I take that step? Why didn’t I fade when you did that? Why, Erestor?”
“Because of the friendship of centuries,” Erestor replied steadily.
“Glorfindel would have done the same if that had been the same, for your friendship is deeper. Yet, he allowed me to do that,” Elrond whispered, “Why do you think that was? For all your keen senses, you did not see what was in me?”
Erestor’s breath fastened as he tore his eyes away from Elrond saying harshly, “Please, Elrond.”
“No more, Erestor,” Elrond raised their hands to his lips, “Ever have I hidden whom I loved, because I could not tarnish your love for Gil or our friendship with what I bore in my heart. We have both lost. I will accept this marriage with the lady. I will never seek you with my desire. But I want your friendship please. I will kill for that. Don’t leave me, don’t sail, don’t talk about ending your life. I saved your life with my pain, true. But your life is worth anything I can sacrifice.”
“Elrond, Elrond,” Erestor shook his head sadly, “Don’t speak like this! I am not what you imagine me to be. I am shallow.”
“Be it as it may,” Elrond replied, “But live. Otherwise I shall follow you to the west or to Mandos. As Fingolfin said to Fëanor, I say to you, lead, and I will follow.”
“No,” Erestor said firmly as he faced Elrond again, fire blazing in his eyes, “I will live if I can just prevent you from insane declarations as this. But never shall we repeat the mistakes of our forefathers.”
“Live for yourself,” Elrond breathed as he hugged Erestor gratefully, “That is all I ask. I will do anything you wish if you agree. I don’t care what you do, whom you seek, how we argue, just live for yourself.”
“I will do more, Elrond,” Erestor returned the embrace and kissed Elrond softly on the lips eliciting a gasp of shock and long suppressed love, “I will live for you, if you ask me to.”
Galadriel woke from her reverie, Celeborn was smiling bitterly as he removed himself from the bed saying, “Your noble souls are happy. Satisifed?”
“How did you know?” she breathed not daring to imagine his wrath at her meddling.
“I am sorry to remind you that the trees still honour my feelings unlike my wife who thinks that she can butter me in her bed while planning to get my daughter’s husband and his love together,” Celeborn spat as he pulled on his leggings, “I will not enter your bed chamber again.”
“They deserved to be happy after everything. Our daughter is our daughter, I love her more than anything else. I will not betray her,” Galadriel said in a small voice, “Please, Celeborn, I missed you, come back. Do not leave us sundered again.”
“After I think of all that you have achieved, I am surprised that I can still look upon you with no intent to kill!” Celeborn said angrily as he left.
Galadriel, daughter of Finarfin, had made yet one more sacrifice for the redemption of her fallen house. She closed her eyes as she tried to be strong, to not succumb to the tears, to not just run behind him and beg him.
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.