My Favorite Aragorn Stories
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Water and Stone: 8. An Autumn Planting
Leaving Luinil to finish for him, he followed the messenger to the lawn of the fountain, and climbed the white ladder as slowly as he could, overcome with trepidation.
The Lady was sitting by the open side of the talan, just where they had sat together when she had freed him of the charm. Gwirith felt his palms become damp.
‘You did not come to see me as you promised, Gwirith, so I sent for you. I hope I have not disturbed your preparations to leave the forest?’
Gwirith went down on one knee before her.
‘I am sorry, Lady. I did not want to trouble you,’ he said, looking down at the fragrant rushes strewn on the floor.
‘And you were stubborn and independent-minded even before we cast the charm, not because of it,’ said Galadriel, smiling at him fiercely.
Hearing the amusement in her voice, Gwirith looked up and was surprised to see her face was full of delight.
‘I too am stubborn and independent-minded, Gwirith, and it pleases me to find it in another,’ she said. ‘Now be seated and tell me how you are.’
Gwirith got up slowly and sat beside her, trying to put into words his experiences of the past days.
‘Lady, it has not been easy,’ he said in a low voice. 'Sometimes it seems as if I have lost a layer of skin. What before would barely touch me now pains me as if I am raw and naked to it. When I am with others, in a moment I become immeasurably angry, but later I am almost weeping with sadness, or filled with sudden joy.’ He sighed deeply. ‘I am weary with it, Lady. Although I have managed to hide the worst excesses of my changing moods, I think the rest of my company are bewildered and concerned for me.’
‘Have you told no-one about the reason for the change in you?’
‘I have not,’ said Gwirith, defensively. ‘I prefer to do this alone.’
‘Do you still consider it a weakness to accept help from others, Gwirith?’ said Galadriel.
Gwirith looked at the floor in silence. Galadriel waited from him to speak again, and at last he said, his face pale and strained,
‘Also…I have been having…bad dreams, or rather…they do not always happen when I am asleep. There is something…I don’t remember what it is…but I know it is fearful.’
‘It could be that these are memories from long ago which are returning to you,’ Galadriel said. ‘You find them troubling?’
Gwirith nodded. ‘When I am overcome by them, or when I have been too much buffeted by my changing moods, I go to my workshop. There is always plenty to do, and it calms me.’
‘What will you do when you are away from Lorien, and cannot work?’ said Galadriel, gently.
‘I do not know,’ said Gwirith. ‘I will have to endure as well as I can.’
Galadriel took a small green velvet bag from the table beside her.
‘Lord Celeborn has given me this,’ she said, handing him the bag. ‘Open it, Gwirith.’
Gwirith did so, and found it full of many small cubes of wood, taken from every type of tree that grew in Lorien, and some from outside it.
‘I have been looking for a craftsman to make me an ornament from this, in honour of him. Maybe you would consent to do this for me, if you have any time to give to the task while you are away from Lorien.’
Gwirith drew the string tight across the neck of the bag. The vibration of the different woods felt like music in his hands, and already he had an idea for what he could fashion with them.
‘I would be honoured, Lady,’ he said, smiling for the first time since he had arrived.
Galadriel stood up and he did the same, thinking she had finished with him, but she took his hands in hers and he felt her mind touch his gently. Her eyes looked deep into his and he felt himself relax while her touch balanced and smoothed the energy of his fea, like a hand stroking down the ruffled feathers of a bird.
When she had finished, she released his hands and said,
‘You are doing very well, Gwirith. Your courage enables you to bear the new energies that are coming into your fea. It is a question of balance, and in time you will be less troubled by great changes of mood. But do not turn away the comfort of those who would help you, my dear. Now that we have removed the barrier from your heart, perhaps you should let it breathe a little again. Do not fear the closeness of others, when you know they are trustworthy.’
Gwirith nodded, turning away a little.
‘Heed my counsel, Gwirith!’ she said, laughing. ‘You wish to go your own way, however wise the words of those who wish to guide you, that I know. Do not think I am deceived by your courtesy! Now go, or your captain will be wondering where you are.’
Celinn’s company had nearly completed their duty and were making their final sortie outside the forest before returning home when there came a day that was as unexpected to Gwirith as it was to Celinn. The company were at the eastern edge of Lorien near Anduin, seeking the truth of a report from one of the Dunedain that the band of outlaw men had been seen near the Great River. On this morning of high summer, the elves walked beneath the eaves of Lorien, looking out on to the plain of Anduin.
The birds sang loudly of the joy of high summer, and the light was so pure that all the colours around them seemed deeper and truer than before, sparkling with the life of the One.
‘I love the summer,’ said Aiglin happily. ‘It is a season which agrees with my body: warmth of the sun, coolness of the river, softness of the wind on my skin: what is better than that?’
‘The freshness of spring,’ said Caranfir.
‘Or the clean beauty of winter,’ said Celinn.
‘Speak not of winter, brother,’ said Aiglin, ‘Not today!’
Gwirith walked in silence beside them, his eyes distant as he looked out across the vale of Anduin at the far edge of Mirkwood and the grey-brown shadow that hung like a scar across the sky and the earth.
Celinn called a halt, and they sat and refreshed themselves with lembas and water flavoured with herbs. He glanced over at Gwirith, who sat peaceably with his back against a tree, at a little distance from the others, as usual. He seemed calm and untroubled, but Celinn was wary, for the momentary visions which he experienced sometimes when Gwirith was by had been many in the last hours, and he wondered if that heralded something of importance. Celinn had mastered the sense of disorientation that came over him occasionally when his fea read something from someone else’s. Apart from Galadriel and Haldir, only Luinil and Aiglin knew of this gift, and they never spoke of it.
Another image flashed suddenly into his mind: a raid somewhere, in snow, under the trees; no, it was in the open, and there were many orcs. A battle was taking place, and he could hear cries and the clash of weapons. And then it was gone. He heard the birds singing again, and saw the sparkle of sunlight on Anduin half a league from where they rested.
Celinn gave his company a little longer, then called them to go on. The vale was empty of any movement, but here in sight of the dark tower, he could feel the vibration of the Shadow, and did not want to attract its notice.
‘We will search in smaller groups to draw less attention to ourselves once we leave the forest,’ Celinn said, and explained that they would travel south along Anduin to where the men had last been seen.
And so it came that he and Gwirith stepped out of the forest together into the open country, and made their way silently southwards, their eyes alert for any sign of movement or of previous occupation. After a while they came upon the nail of a horseshoe in the grass, and later a broken pipe still full of weed.
‘They have passed this way,’ said Celinn, and Gwirith nodded, his eyes searching the ground. Celinn looked into the distance but there was no movement on any side. A big bird of prey wheeled lazily above, its pinions riffled by the warm wind.
Gwirith stooped suddenly and picked up something which glinted in the sunlight. He straightened up, and Celinn glanced over his shoulder to see what it was. In Gwirith’s hand was an arm ring of silver metal, of exquisite and delicate workmanship, formed of a pair of twined and scrolled vine branches, and decorated with tiny vine leaves. It was a little tarnished but its beauty was evident nevertheless.
‘It must be mithril,’ said Celinn in wonder. ‘Surely it is elvish work. How could men have such a piece of craft?’
But Gwirith said nothing, and his eyes were fixed to the arm ring which rested lightly in the palm of his open hand. Celinn felt a sense of lurking unease stir in his gut. He looked far into the open vale, but the threat did not seem to be coming from there.
Gwirith said, ‘It is mithril,’ and his voice sounded as if his throat were clenched tight. ‘But it didn’t happen here, I’m sure it was further south,’ he said, ‘although I’ve never been back, of course.’
‘Gwirith?’ enquired Celinn, but the dark-haired elf spoke on as if to himself.
‘It can’t be. There must be two alike. But how could there be? I asked for the work to be made to my own design.’
Celinn began to understand. ‘You recognise this work?’ he asked.
Gwirith nodded slowly. ‘But it cannot be. After so long, surely …’
All at once he swayed and Celinn put out his arm to steady him. Gwirith looked up and scanned the landscape before him from north to south, as if he were looking for something. Recognition dawned in his face, and he said,
‘Yes, it was here. I had forgotten. How could I have forgotten?’ And then Celinn’s arm was not enough to hold him, and he crumpled to his knees.
‘Gwirith, what is the matter?’ asked Celinn in alarm, but then the vision of the orc raid flashed into his mind again with renewed power, and he began to understand.
‘Something happened to you here, something terrible,’ he said to Gwirith, ‘and you have never been back to this place.’
Gwirith nodded, his face filled with horror. ‘I could not come back. I wish I had not come back now. I do not want to think of it. It is only because of Galadriel that I have been able to endure this far,’ he whispered.
Celinn knelt down beside him, supporting his sagging body. ‘Now we are here. Tell me what happened.’
‘No, I cannot tell you. I cannot think of it. I have managed to resist it every time, and if I am strong enough I can resist it again,’ said Gwirith, and his hand fell open and the arm ring rolled out of it on to the ground.
‘You have been touched by this memory before?’ said Celinn.
Gwirith nodded. ‘It has tried to reach me, sleeping and waking, but I know it will be too much to endure,’ he said in a shaking voice.
Celinn leaned over and picked up the arm ring. As the metal touched his hand, a wave of terrible sadness washed over him, and he felt tears spring to his eyes.
‘You lost someone here, Gwirith,’ he said, and there was knowing in his voice.
Gwirith said nothing. His head went down onto his chest and his shoulders hunched over, and he clenched his hands and pressed them against his heart. Celinn felt something like the movement of a great heavy door beginning to swing shut, and he knew that Gwirith would do all he could to block the memory that had hurt him so much. Celinn was not a healer and he had little lore, but he knew the power of the One and the blessing of the Valar. So he pulled Gwirith against him and put his hand over Gwirith’s clenched ones, and called to Elbereth and Este the healer.
‘Do not close your heart behind an even stronger wall, Gwirith,’ he pleaded. ‘Let your body remember that day, and you can be healed of its terror.’
Gwirith did not respond, indeed he seemed even more absent than before. In desperation Celinn pushed up the sleeve of Gwirith’s shirt and clasped the arm ring next to his skin.
Gwirith cried out in agony, but it was the not the pain of the body that assailed him.
‘Take it off,’ he cried, struggling to remove it.
‘I will not,’ said Celinn. ‘Tell me what happened, Gwirith. I am here. Tell me,’ and he put his arms tightly round Gwirith and held him to his breast.
‘I cannot tell you,’ said Gwirith, and his voice broke into weeping. ‘Whatever the Lady says, my heart broke and it has never mended. I am not whole.’
‘But you can be whole again,’ said Celinn.
‘I cannot,’ said Gwirith, through his tears. ‘He is gone. I cannot think of that day, or I will break as I nearly did before. I have waited for him to return but it will never be. I will never see him again until the Ages are past. Let me be, I want to leave this place.’
But Celinn would not release him, and Gwirith did not have the strength to fight him.
‘Tell me,’ Celinn said softly, holding Gwirith to him, and he had to close his eyes as another wave of terror seized him. Maybe he could help Gwirith to tell him.
‘There was terror,’ he said, ‘not the terror of the enemy, but the terror that he could be gone so quickly, in the full light of day.’
‘Yes,’ whispered Gwirith, staring before him with haunted eyes. There was a long, long silence, and then he began to speak, slowly and haltingly. ‘How could it happen? We were safe… there were so few of them, the fight was over. We were gleaning arrows…he was next to me. We always fought side by side.’ Gwirith began to shake so that his teeth quaked together and he found it difficult to speak.. ‘There was an orc...Big…Not dead…Alcarion got out his knife…to finish him off…He was smiling at me…laughing…then his face changed…’ Gwirith stopped, breathing hard. Celinn tightened his arms around him.
‘Go on,’ he said gently, but Gwirith gave a muffled cry and tears flowed down his face.
‘No, I cannot! I don’t want to remember!’ he said in agony and terror.
‘Finish it, you must finish it now,’ Celinn said, and he felt tears on his own cheeks as Gwirith’s sorrow entered his fea. ‘It is like a battle. You must fight to the end.’
For a long time there was no sound but Gwirith’s soft weeping, but at last he said,
‘The orc had an arrow …in his hand.. Pierced Alcarion. There was poison.’ The pauses between words became very long.
‘It was only…a few minutes…then he was…he was…’ He could not say the word.
‘Then he was dead,’ Celinn said. Gwirith shuddered and shook his head.
‘Say it,’ said Celinn softly. ‘It is the truth. Say it.’
‘I cannot say it,’ whispered Gwirith.
‘I am holding you. You are safe. Say it,’ said Celinn, pressing his cheek to Gwirith’s dark hair.
A deep silence fell, and Celinn could scarcely feel Gwirith breathing, he was so still. He felt the energy of their bodies sink down into the ground, into the unchanging earth, and then he felt Gwirith’s heart open wide and for the first time, the truth of his loss entered him. He let his head fall back against Celinn’s shoulder and his lips parted in a soundless cry of agony, and the air around them vibrated with his unbearable pain. Celinn held him, letting himself be held in turn by the arms of Elbereth. And then he saw that she too was held, and behind her were the arms of the One, and in His eyes was the sorrow of all the Ages, and He wept for Gwirith and for all the suffering of Aman and of Arda.
And Celinn wept, his voice making the sounds that Gwirith could not make. Elbereth and Este and Eru came close and Celinn saw them with his fea, while Gwirith’s rigid body felt at last the terror and shock of the death of his lover.
But at last after a long time Celinn felt Gwirith relax in his arms, and heard him weeping, soft tears like the gentle rain, cleansing and healing the seared place where he had kept his grief locked up for so long. And after long sorrow, he gave a deep sigh, and slept in Celinn’s arms, his hands unclenched, palms upward to the sky.
The shadows were long when Celinn saw Aiglin approach with Caranfir and Sirion.
‘What is amiss. Is he hurt?’ Aiglin asked, looking down at Gwirith’s white face.
‘He is not. All is well,’ said Celinn, and at the sound of his voice, Gwirith opened his eyes. He sat up and looked around him as though he did not know where he was, then he felt something on his arm, and looked at the arm ring Celinn had placed there.
‘What is that?’ asked Aiglin. ‘Did you find it?’
‘Yes,’ said Gwirith, and his voice had a note of quietness that was new to Celinn’s ears. He looked up at Aiglin.
‘It belonged to my lover, Alcarion. I made it for him for our binding.’ He paused. ‘He … died here …a long time ago.’
Aiglin knelt down slowly beside him. ‘And you found it today.’
‘Yes. I have never been back to this place since that time. I had forgotten about the arm ring.’
Aiglin’s voice was low and gentle. ‘My heart grieves for your loss, Gwirith, even though it was a long time ago,’ and he put his arms round Gwirith and kissed him gently on the brow. He moved aside, and Caranfir and Sirion knelt also and embraced him. Then Celinn embraced him also. ‘You have courage beyond courage, Gwirith,’ he said. ‘My heart grieves for your loss.’ The elves wept together, and for the first time since Alcarion’s death, Gwirith felt he was not alone with his grief.
‘Did you perform the ritual for him?’ Aiglin asked.
‘No,’ said Gwirith in a hushed voice. ‘I could not do it. I could not mourn him. Galadriel cast me a charm or I too would have died of my grief. But the healing subdued my heart so that I could feel nothing: neither joy nor sadness. And I feared the pain of loss so much that I wanted no one near me in case I had to suffer it anew.’
‘We will perform the ritual with you, and help you to bear your grief,’ Aiglin said.
‘Thank you,’ said Gwirith humbly, and then turned to Celinn. ‘Thank you,’ he said again.
Celinn nodded but was silent. In truth he was exhausted and hoped he would have the strength to lead them all back home. But Aiglin, the sharp eyed, saw his brother’s face, and he took his arm and helped him to his feet.
‘Well, you have found some interesting things today, and now it is time to return, for the others will be wondering where we are. I am impatient to be under the trees again. This wide open plain is too bleak for me: the light is harsh. I do not wish it to bleach my hair, and I am sure you do not either, Celinn. Let us go.’ And he led them back along Anduin and under the trees of Lorien.
The month of August was a holiday for Celinn’s company, and they spent it lazily, sometimes sleeping all day under the trees on the banks of the river, waking when the glowing heat of the day had faded and the sky was a pale washed-out blue, already darkening towards night; or else swimming naked in the waters of Celebrant or Nimrodel; or taking out boats from the Tongue for long drowsy days on the water, where Celebrant and Anduin flowed together. Celinn wrote many songs, and for the first few days of August, Gwirith got used to seeing him stretched out under a tree, his hand trailing in the water, his face shaded by a broad straw hat as he searched for word or melody, biting the end of his quill. His hair shone like spun gold in the bright sunlight, and his sea-green eyes were vivid in his tanned face.
Gwirith had been very quiet since they had returned from Anduin and his company had stood with him to perform the ritual for Alcarion’s fea. He had brought home Alcarion’s arm ring, and wore it himself sometimes, but he never spoke of what had passed on the day it had been found. Luinil fretted about him, but Celinn did not, for the strange visions had abated, and his gut no longer ached when Gwirith was near.
One day Gwirith was not there, and Luinil said in distress that he had gone away alone for a while, but would be back in time for their next duty in September. Celinn soothed him, surprised at how disappointed he was to hear of his brother’s absence.
Aragorn spent two days with them during the middle of the month, and he taught them several new and slightly doubtful wrestling holds, which he claimed his brothers Elladan and Elrohir had invented themselves.
After a particularly long and arduous bout, Celinn lay defeated on the grass, his skin slick with sweat.
‘Why did I agree to take part in such a contest with the sun at its zenith on the hottest day of the year?’ he gasped. ‘Aragorn, Haldir will accuse you of undermining Lorien’s defences with your strange foreign techniques. I don’t remember Elladan or Elrohir ever fighting like this last time I was at Imladris.’
‘Ah, but they would not show you their most secret arts, would they, since you are not family!’ said Aragorn, triumphantly, stretching himself out on the grass beside Celinn, his bare chest heaving with exertion.
‘So you will be punished for revealing family secrets, will you, if they ever find out about your treachery?’ said Celinn, laughing breathlessly.
‘Oh, no,’ said Aragorn. ‘I expect they’ve already thought up some new ones.’
‘Aiglin, give me my flask, brother. I am too thirsty to move,’ begged Celinn. Aiglin, who was watching them from the shade, got up slowly and threw the flask to him. Celinn drank, then poured the rest over his head before dragging himself to his feet and going to sit beside his brother, Aragorn following him.
Soon they were all asleep, tangled up together, and it was only the cool breeze of the early evening that woke them. It was still too hot to eat, so while Aiglin went to refill their flasks, Celinn and Aragorn sat by the river and talked.
‘Last summer I swam in the Bruinen with my brothers,’ said Aragorn, wistfully. ‘I wonder when I will see them again?’
‘Go and see them,’ said Celinn.
‘I cannot go yet. There is too much to do. I should not really have stayed with you a second day,’ said Aragorn, frowning.
‘Aragorn, you must not be so harsh with yourself, nor should you fear the pleasure of the body,’ said Celinn. ‘I thought your previous visit to us at Midsummer had already convinced you of that.’ Aragorn blushed and looked away. ‘Rest and comfort make you more fit for your task,’ Celinn went on. ‘It is the bow that is never unstrung that will break in the heat of battle.’
Aragorn sighed. ‘Of course you are right, Celinn. It is just that…here in Lorien, with you, I do not have to pretend. I do not have to be the Chieftain of the Dunedain, Isildur’s Heir, the hope of Arda; I am just a man taking his ease with a friend on a summer day.’ Tentatively he laid his hand on Celinn’s arm. ‘Your friendship is a great comfort to me, Celinn,’ he said quietly.
Celinn smiled. ‘It honours me to hear you say so,’ he said.
‘I have learnt much from you,’ said Aragorn, ‘but it is your kindness and warmth which have made it easier to bear the task that has been laid on me.’
‘Aragorn, I hope to see the day when your task is fulfilled, and you come into your true inheritance.’
Aragorn bowed his head. ‘I am not yet the man who can take up the crown, even were all Arda ready today to follow me into battle against the might of Mordor,’ he said. ‘I must learn to become a leader of men, to find within myself the power to inspire those who would follow me at peril of their lives.’
‘I will follow you, Aragorn,’ said Celinn. ‘When you lead us together with the Dunedain in the expedition you are preparing, I will be at your side, if Haldir sends me.’
‘It is true,’ said Aragorn, his eyes suddenly alight with excitement. ‘I will be in command, and with the help of Lorien and Arnor, I may take my first step on the road. And…you would follow me, Celinn?’
‘Of course!’ said Celinn. ‘How do you think we have all learnt the skills of command? By practising them. And we elves have the benefit of long years of preparation. When I had lived twenty-one years, I was not much more than a babe in arms! Even for a man, you are young to take up such a burden, Aragorn, and I happy to help you to bear it.’
Aragorn’s face was suddenly illumined by a dazzling smile, and he hugged Celinn impulsively, then just as suddenly released him.
‘I am sorry, Celinn,’ he muttered, crimson in the face. ‘I did not mean to…’
‘Aragorn, enough apologies!’ cried Celinn, hugging him back. ‘I am your friend, and I would be offended if you did not wish to hug me occasionally.
Aiglin came back with the water then, and having drunk, they were suddenly ravenously hungry and got to their feet.
‘Aiglin, have we any food fit for a guest?’
‘I doubt it,’ said Aiglin, yawning.
‘You are welcome to eat with us, but we cannot promise you the kind of fare you must be used to at Imladris,’ said Celinn.
‘Even bread and water with true friends is as good as a feast,’ said Aragorn.
Celinn heard the singing of an arrow shaft through the air followed by a thwack as it entered the target. It was the first day of their September duty, and someone was already practising at the butts. The archer had just nocked an arrow to the string so Celinn stopped at the edge of the clearing, not wanting to disturb his cast. From where he stood he could not see the archer’s face: he did not recognize this tall elf, slender and lithe with his long blue black hair loose on his shoulders, adorned with its slim warrior and kin braids. Celinn watched him, saw the way he braced his legs to feel the ground beneath him, saw the long graceful line of his back and the smooth powerful movement of his shoulders as he drew back the bow, his fingers curling round the bowstring, level with his cheekbone. His arm drew back slowly until his body was at the moment of greatest tension.
There was a pause. Celinn felt his breath suddenly catch in his throat. In that instant everything was in balance, and his gut lurched at the beauty of the poised figure before him in the silence of the forest.
Then he saw the archer relax his fingers in the tiniest movement of release. The arrow hissed through the quiet air and Celinn felt the vibration in his body as it drove into the target. The archer brought down his arm and stood motionless, and Celinn too was still, not wanting to break the moment, not knowing why it felt so important not to break it.
Then the archer flicked back his cloak from his shoulder and reached for another arrow from the quiver on his back. Celinn became aware he had been holding his breath and let it out suddenly in a sigh, at the same time feeling there was something familiar about that particular bow and quiver.
The archer turned and seeing Celinn, came towards him, his face breaking into a smile.
‘Celinn! I’ve only just started. Did you want me or have you come to practise?’
Celinn saw the archer’s face with a jolt of surprise.
‘Gwirith, I didn’t recognize you,’ he said. ‘You look so different. Your braids …’ Without thinking he stretched out his hand and touched the fall of shining dark hair on Gwirith’s shoulder. A tiny charge of energy passed through his fingertips.
Gwirith’s eyes widened slightly and Celinn saw his lips part as if he were about to speak, but just at that moment there came the sound of voices behind them. Celinn’s hand dropped from Gwirith’s shoulder as they both turned to see Aiglin and Luinil approaching.
‘We thought we’d find you here, Celinn,’ called his brother. ‘And you’re here too, Gwirith. That saves us a journey.’
‘Is something the matter?’ asked Celinn, hoping his voice did not reveal the slight sense of confusion that he was feeling.
But Aiglin just said, ‘Aragorn is back. We are to go out of Lorien at once with him, to arrest the outlaws. He’s waiting for us in the guardroom.’
Celinn turned to Gwirith. ‘No time for practice after all,’ he said.
Gwirith nodded but he seemed to be looking at something over Celinn’s shoulder and did not meet his eyes. Then Aiglin said,
‘Gwirith! At last you’ve taken your brother’s advice. Why hide such hair as yours when you could dazzle all the elves in Lorien with it?’
They all laughed, and Gwirith said easily, ‘I have not had it like this since Alcarion died. But now it is time to take up my life again.’
‘You know,’ said Aiglin, ‘you used to remind me of one of those men who Aragorn told us about, who give up the pleasure of the body for their gods. But now it looks like the sap is rising in you again.’ He took Gwirith by the shoulders. ‘I am happy for you. I wish you joy after years of sadness.’
Gwirith instinctively withdrew slightly under Aiglin’s hands, but then seemed to move back towards him again.
‘I have forgotten what it is to live the life of the body,’ he said, quietly. ‘It takes time to remember after so long.’
‘You will find joy again,’ said Luinil, ‘I promise you,’ and the two brothers looked deeply into each other’s eyes.
Throughout this exchange, Celinn stood a little apart, looking at Gwirith as though seeing him for the first time. He was aware of a profound change in Gwirith, and with his gift of sensitivity, Celinn could see in his mind’s eye a new energy flowing around him, which animated his body and shone in his eyes. ‘It is his true self, his heart opening after being hidden away,’ he thought, and he was moved within himself by the healing of Gwirith’s fea.
They waited while Gwirith retrieved his arrows from the target, then began to make their way back to Caras Galadhon. Celinn brought his hand into the folds of his cloak, still aware of a slight tingling in his fingertips. In front of him Gwirith and Luinil walked side by side, so alike they could be twins. Celinn found himself musing as he relaxed into a steady walking rhythm: why had he not recognized Gwirith when he and his brother were so similar in figure? After all, Luinil’s body was intimately familiar to him. It must have been the change in his fea which had transformed his body too. He found himself idly wondering whether Gwirith and his brother were likely to be as similar unclothed as they were clothed.
No, thought Celinn, slamming a door shut in his mind. That was the wrong question. That was forbidden territory, and he wasn’t interested in the answer in any case.
Then Aiglin started to tell him about Aragorn’s plan of attack, and he stored away his questions and listened to his brother’s voice.
In FOTR Tolkien seems to suggest a permanent sort of springlike climate for Lorien: ‘All the while that they dwelt there the sun shone clear, save for a gentle rain that fell at times, and passed away leaving all things fresh and clean. The air was cool and soft, as if it were early spring, yet they felt about them the deep and thoughtful quiet of winter.’ (Ch 7, The Mirror of Galadriel) Maybe this simply relates to the season in which the Nine Walkers visited Lorien, but I have taken the liberty of giving them greater extremes of weather.
In this scene I imagine it more like some ancient Greek summer, with hot sun, clear colours, delicious fragrances and long lazy days.
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