"Ah … Washington, D.C.," mused a low voice in the crowds. At once the most important and the most ridiculous single city in all the Western hemisphere – and on occasion, in all the world itself.
Olórin shook his head slowly and began to mount the steps of the Capitol building, approaching the gathering crowd at the top of the stairs. It was, unsurprisingly, a press conference; Colin Powell stood atop a makeshift podium, two advisors flanking him as he spoke at length regarding the proof positive of Iraq's failure to comply with the UN stance on chemical and biological weapons; the tight, huddled group of reporters held their notepads close and their cameramen shivered in the chill air.
As Olórin approached, a man who had been standing like a statue at the fringes of the group very suddenly began to approach Olórin, an intent look on his face. "Sir, I'm sorry, this is a restricted area at the moment. Only members of the press are allowed – oh." He cut off as Olórin presented the man with a card that certified his association with Reuters. "You're awfully late, sir."
"I know," Olórin replied with a pleasant smile. Too late in too many respects, I fear! "You must check me for weapons, I assume?"
The man patted Olórin down briskly, looking uncomfortable about it as men sometimes did. "You're clear," he said, nodding once, waving him up the stairs. Olórin nodded and hurried to join the crowd, re-buttoning his thick down coat as he did so.
He arrived just as the questions were being asked – just as he had meant to; he raised his hand to join the others, but unlike the young men and women eagerly milling about him, he did not call out as Mr. Powell selected questions to answer.
"I cannot say at this time … No, I'm sorry – Next question, please! Yes, you sir, the elderly gentleman in the back!"
Olorin smiled slightly and raised his chin. "Mr. J. Greyhem, sir. I have a question for Mr. Molan."
Mr. Powell raised an eyebrow slightly, but turned towards Sabaoth Molan and waved him towards the podium. Sabaoth approached slowly and warily, his usually brusque pace slowed to a crawl, as he stared at 'J. Greyhem' openly; his dark eyes were full of malice, hatred, and perhaps even tinged by fear. "Yes, Mr. Greyhem?" he fairly spat.
Olorin's slight smile faded, and an anticipating calm settled over the entire crowd as Greyhem's eyes met with Sabaoth's, stilling even the ever-restless press members. The air crackled with tension, and their very gazes seemed to do battle. "What," Olorin asked in a shockingly booming voice, "will you gain from all this, Mr. Molan? What is your hidden agenda in provoking the President to war?"
There were murmurings in the crowd, and Sabaoth narrowed his eyes. "Mr. Greyhem, that question is out of place here!" he snapped.
"Then you do not deny that you have something to gain?" Olorin replied, lifting one bushy eyebrow over his intense features.
"Of course not!" sputtered Sabaoth, but before he could continue in his undignified refute, he was pushed aside gently by Mr. Powell. "Next question!" he called – but he did not care, or indeed even seem to notice, when Mr. J. Greyhem slipped away from the crowd, his normally cheerful face drawn with severity.
The challenge has been made. The fight now begins in earnest!
* * *
Galadriel was rather frustrated.
This was not a feeling Galadriel was unfamiliar with; over the millennia she had survived, many things had frustrated her. Her half-cousins had frustrated her in Valinor before she had crossed the Sea for the first time to come to Middle-Earth; they appalled and sickened her ere their departure for Arda with their wanton killing and destruction, and they continued to frustrate her by aggravating the relationship of the Noldorin and Sindarin Elves. She had been frustrated over and over in her attempts to make a name for herself among Elves and arise to power; when she finally obtained renown and power, the Enemy frustrated and angered her. And in the subsequent Ages of this new Earth, she had been repeatedly frustrated by the nearly-endless discrimination against women (although this tended to come and go in cycles, over all).
These millennia of frustration had provided Galadriel with millennia of experience at suppressing any outward and visible signs of frustration. She handled all situations with a grace and poise that even fellow Elves envied, although perhaps they should not have been surprised; she was, to the best of her knowledge, the oldest living being on Earth – save the remaining Maiar, a few reclusive Vanyar, and perhaps a few fell beasts that still hid in the world.
Not that she looked it. Like all the Eldar, Galadriel was blessed with near-eternal youth, and the years did not weigh heavily on her, save a laugh line or two and a slight furrow between her brows that bespoke the thoughtful look she wore when schooled serenity was not called for, and the wisdom of the Ages in her intense eyes. Her golden hair, said by the Elves to have captured the beauty of the light of the Two Trees and said by Men to be brighter than a summer's day, was trimmed to just below her shoulders, enabling her to lift it all up into a manageable bun at the back of her head. All in all, she looked to be a radiant woman in her early thirties; she had been called by The London Times the 'Sexiest Woman Over Thirty' twice in recent years. Galadriel didn't much care to think of herself in terms of 'sexiness', as it spoke to her of the sexual degradation women (and indeed men!) suffered in these times. It reminded her, vaguely, of the late days of the Roman Empire, when corruption and depravity were almost a mark of pride ere the Empire's fall.
But all this was beside the point. At the moment, standing in the hallway of the London offices of Faensad, Inc., Galadriel was wearing (with a telling amount of willpower) her look of schooled serenity. The woman before her asked the question again, as if all the world would rise or fall depending upon Galadriel's answer. "Madam! The silk, or the crushed velvet?"
Ai! I appreciate aestheticism as much as any Elf, but must I be bothered with this matter? I hired this woman because I trust her judgment – I do not need her to come running to me every time she is unsure the fabric texture of the draperies will present the right mood at a dinner party!
But Galadriel did not say any of these things; they did not even show on her face. She gazed first at the square of sky blue silk in the lady's left hand and then at the slightly darker velvet in her right. "What speaks to you, Miss Halle?" she asked with infinite patience. "Both are lovely; I care not."
Miss Halle seemed to be at a loss. "But Ms. Elmesson, it truly depends upon the mood you wish to establish!" she protested passionately. "The silk is a lighter fabric and will give a sense of freedom, but the crushed velvet will add gravitas to the room."
And I do believe that at the moment I could cheerfully impale dear Celeborn upon his sword for his chosen last name. It was a subtle and strange reference to Celeborn's grandfather Elmo; 'Elmograndson', of course, would never do, so Celeborn had shortened and converted the name to 'Elmesson'. Galadriel did not share his penchant for such inside jokes (a penchant shared with their son-in-law Elrond), but she did not protest the matter, deeming it unimportant. "Very well, then; use the silk, please," Galadriel conceded to Miss Halle's dependent nature.
"All right!" The woman nodded ecstatically, and Galadriel inwardly sighed with relief at the thought that she could now return to more pressing matters, but just as she graced Miss Halle with an ethereal smile of goodwill and began to turn away, Miss Halle continued, "Now, here are some silverware designs for you to pick from—"
Enough! This was not the most frustrating conversation Galadriel had ever suffered through, but it was rapidly approaching the point at which it would become the most inane. "Miss Halle," Galadriel began pleasantly, "Must you—"
Galadriel looked up sharply to see Mithfen approaching from down the hall with a grace and rapidity that only an Elf could obtain. Her HR coordinator (for that was what he was) gazed back at her with amused, confused eyes, but his tone was laced with subtle urgency; something had frightened him. "Come to my office, if you will; there is something I must show you."
Galadriel politely excused herself from Miss Halle's presence, pointing her down the hall to a subordinate better suited to deal with such matters as silverware designs, and followed Mithfen. "I thank you," she murmured.
Mithfen's smile, although tight, was mischievous as only a Nandorin smile could be. "I suspected you might be grateful, my Lady; for all her skill, Miss Halle can be rather insufferable, in my experience." And well-experienced he was in the matter, as he was the one consigned to settling a payment plan with her. "But that is not why I called you – at least not entirely!" Here his expression became troubled, and in but a moment Galadriel perceived how confused and frightened he was; he lowered his voice and whispered in Sindarin, "Lady Galadriel, a strange Elf was seen wandering around outside this building; he was clothed poorly, and his appearance was ragged and grey. He spoke in Sindarin, but his dialect was such as has not been heard in Ea since before the Breaking! He was causing something of a scene, for he somehow knew that Elves work here, and he shouted his demand that one come out! I finally came to him and escorted him to my office, and he was somewhat placated, but I thought I should come to you regarding this matter."
Galadriel digested this information. An Elf that spoke only the old, un-evolved form of Sindarin, and who had apparently suffered some misfortune, was in Mithfen's office; it was clear why he had chosen to speak in Sindarin. However, she knew Mithfen was holding something back. "You thought wisely," she said at length. "Speak on."
They had come to Mithfen's closed office door; he hesitated, then turned shamefaced to her. "Some of the Men think it strange I took this vagabond into the building rather than call for a bobby, and I must go comfort them that something is being done about this bizarre incident. But I think this member of our kindred must have suffered some grievous injury to the head, for he claims to be someone he cannot possibly be." He inclined his head with polite deference, and the troubled look did not leave his eyes as he strode down the hall to speak to the employees.
Galadriel paused for a moment to consider this information before she twisted the doorknob and slipped soundlessly into the office – and was confronted with a being from the past; an Elf she had not seen since the War of Wrath. Millennia of trained emotions and facial expressions could not hide the shock in her face for one eternal and horrified instant, and even when her face had assumed a neutral look, the surprise was in her eyes. "Maglor!" she said sharply – more sharply than she had intended.
The Elf's head rose and dark, tired eyes met her own bright ones, and the sitting Elf, clad in ragged trousers and an overlarge shirt, rose instantly to his feet, his eyes wide and amazed. He was painfully thin and his unevenly cut hair had lost its shine; his right hand was an unnatural color and hung useless at his side. "Artanis?" he gasped softly, using Galadriel's first given name – the one given her by her father. "Heltha-ha nîn adaro gwador-iell? "
Galadriel gazed at Maglor intensely, and for a moment, for the first time in many a year, she found herself completely at a loss as to what to say. "Heltha-im he, " she finally replied.
In a moment she found herself unexpectedly enfolded in Maglor's arms, his thin arms grasping her tight. "Ai, Artanis!" he cried softly, gripping her blouse with dirty fingers. "Im nauthin anim edlenn an uir! "
There was naught Galadriel could say to that, for she too had thought him lost to the world; questions flooded her as an apparent impossibility was made flesh before her eyes. And so she found herself in a momentary quandary before she finally grasped the long-lost Elf's shoulders and pushed him away, suddenly disgusted that a son of Fëanor would dare to hug her. "Maglor, be calm!" she said in Sindarin, speaking quietly but sharply. "There is much I must ask you, but this is neither the time nor the place."
Maglor raised his eyebrows slightly. Unlike the rest of him, Maglor's eyes still burned with a shocking intensity; he met her gaze squarely, and for an instant she saw Fëanor in his face. "What place is it of yours to order me so, younger cousin? And what has happened that you dress like the degraded women of the Secondborn?"
Galadriel felt an urge to look down at her conservative business suit, but she resisted with characteristic ease. "You would do well to not speak so," she rebuked him, still keeping her voice low as she finally closed the office door behind herself. "And you should not be so arrogant, son of Fëanor! What do you know of the passing of the Ages? Little, I judge, by your inability to speak their languages. I do know what has come to pass, and you should at least acknowledge that I am better prepared to help you than you are yourself."
There was a moment's pause while Galadriel held a contest of wills with her half-cousin, their eyes locked in silent battle. But it was Maglor who looked away first. "You are right," he conceded softly, and when he again looked at her, there was a hunger there she had not seen before. "I know not even how much time has passed, or why you have not yet crossed the Sea with our people to live again in the Undying Lands!" He broke off, and Galadriel took the moment to nurse the pang of pain his words inadvertently caused; he did not know the fate of Valinor! "I know only that the Silmaril is lost to me forever; alas!" He buried his face in his left hand; it seemed he could put his right hand to no use. "Ah …" he scrubbed his face once and lowered his hand to gaze again at Galadriel. "I cannot think on it. It is too painful and draws me again to the Sea, and I will not go! Not when such a pressing matter hangs over Ea!"
Galadriel frowned at this pronouncement. "What 'pressing matter', Maglor?"
Maglor's gaze focused strongly upon her, his chin lifted slightly. "You do not know of it? Can you not sense it?" he demanded. "This evil?"
"We all sense it," Galadriel replied evenly, "and again I say to you, be calm! We cannot discuss that matter here; who knows what ears may be around."
"Then take me to where we may speak of it," Maglor continued urgently, and Galadriel perceived again a hunger, and a slight desperation in him as well as a strong desire – though for what, she did not yet know. "I would tell you what I sense in more detail, for your calm tells me that perhaps you do not realize the depth of what you face!"
Galadriel looked hard at him. "I shall have you taken to such a place, but I cannot yet come with you; there is much I must do here. I will have you sent to my house, with a message. Do not speak to anyone – and do not open your mouth to argue with me, Maglor, for my patience is already run thin, and I have the advantage of experience over you! I say again, do not speak to anyone, save it be my husband, who will greet you there; you are blessed in that he stayed home to oversee construction of a stable. Treat Celeborn with respect, cousin; of all your brothers, I always thought you the most level-headed. Do not prove me wrong."
* * *
Author's Notes: Another horribly frustrating chapter to write, as Galadriel's relationship with the sons of Feanor is kept fairly ambiguous in the Simarillion. She disliked Feanor (according to Unfinished Tales) So I'm running with the assumption she didn't like Feanor's sons by association. If Galadriel is way out of character, please, please, PLEASE let me know! I have a hard time wrapping my mind around, er … some 25,000 years of existence. (Yow she's old!) And needless to say, I've decided Maglor is still alive.
Regarding Maglor … at first I wanted him to be wandering around in Elvish clothes, but then I realized that not even Elvish clothes are gonna last that long! So he must've somehow obtained a new set of clothing somehow, unless he was gonna be naked. Eheh … as to his speaking Sindarin (although his native language would be Quenyan), he's assuming that he's still in M-e and that Sindarin is still the major language spoken by Elves.
"[Can] it be my father's brother-daughter?" ('Father's brother-daughter' is supposed to be the equivalent of 'niece'.)
 "I am she."
 "I thought myself lost for eternity!" Except the word I used for 'lost' actually means 'exiled'.
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.