9. Regrets and Confessions
Note: I dedicate this right back to Joan Milligan, who wrote a great poem/song and inspired me greatly. (I also ask her to stop making me blush, and to wait with the beheading until I have finished…) This is a little different from before, a little less history, a bit more conversation.
Then Sauron was for that time vanquished, and he forsook his body, and his spirit fled far away and hid in waste places; and he took no visible shape again for many long years.From The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Chapter 9 Regrets and Confessions
Glorfindel was worried. Very worried.
After leaving Barad-dûr, he had expected Elrond to travel to Lindon via Lórien, or Imladris; wherever it was Celebrían waited for him. But Elrond had insisted on the total opposite: travelling to Lindon as fast as possible. Not stopping anywhere, except to give some, much needed, rest to the horses.
Upon arriving in Lindon, the city darkened by grief, Elrond had buried himself in the work that had waited for Gil-galad's return. Yet nothing indicated a pending return to Imladris, or that Elrond indeed intended to betroth himself to Celebrían. Instead, he had sent Erestor to take care of affairs in Imladris.
When, after a year, there was nothing more that kept him in Lindon; and with Círdan promising he would care for the remnant of Elves there, that would not yet go West, Elrond finally made way for Imladris. There they heard that Celebrían was in Lórien.
Glorfindel was not aware of any communication between the two, since the death of Gil-galad. From what he knew had passed between them before, he gathered that Elrond had wanted to bring the dealings in Middle-earth to a close, before settling down. It made him painfully aware of the fact that Elrond still did not consider the affair finished, as long as the Ring still remained within the bounds of Middle-earth.
Then, word came of what would be called the Disaster of the Gladden Fields.
Not long after the shards of Narsil had arrived at Imladris, Estelmo, the squire of Isildur's son Elendur; the sole survivor of the catastrophe, was found and he revealed to them what had happened at the Gladden Fields.Glorfindel had watched Elrond carefully when Estelmo shared the last words between Isildur and Elendur. Words in which Isildur confessed he now understood he could never control the Ring, and of his intention to go to the Keepers of the Rings, having renounced his pride.
After taking his son's council to flee, Isildur reluctantly had placed the Ring upon his finger, with a cry of pain. He was never seen again by an eye upon Middle-earth, vanishing into the night, covering the blazing Elendilmir on his forehead with his hood.
The men he left behind, save one, would lay all dead ere long.
With Isildur, the One Ring was lost…
As Estelmo grew silent, something had flickered across the face of the Master of Imladris, stunning Glorfindel upon recognition… Guilt…
After the man left their presence, Elrond had retreated in his study. Slowly following, Glorfindel waited. Elrond's voice was soft when he spoke.
'If I had persuaded Isildur, if my mind had not been preoccupied, this all would have never happened.'
Shaking his head Glorfindel had been desperate to rid Elrond of his insecurities.
'Was it not my Lord Gil-galad that once said: 'we cannot change the grander scheme of things'?'
'It sounds like something he might have said.' Elrond had sighed, almost unnoticeably.
Isildur's wife had already been notified when first word came of Isildur's disappearance. Now that it became clear her husband had met some unknown fate, she immediately called upon Elrond to take the boy into his care. Fearing others would take advantage of the youthful heir.
Could he have refused? His own kinsman, son of Isildur?
Of course not…
Meeting in the library, Valandil seemed nervous. But his clear eyes, grey like his own, found Elrond's, unafraid.
'You know who I am?' Elrond asked, motioning the young man into a chair.
Valandil gave a nod.
'You are Master Elrond, Lord of Imladris, brother of my forefather Elros.'
'Indeed I am… I fought alongside your father.'
Valandil looked at his feet, a little too short to reach the ground.
'They say my father is dead.'
Elrond raised an eyebrow. Could Valandil already grasp the meaning of the word? And if he did, was it possible to mourn the death of a father he could not remember? Elrond himself had never been truly able… Instead he now mourned for another…
'Your father disappeared when he was told to flee… The Silvan Elves would have found him, if he had still been in the vicinity.'
Valandil locked his gaze on his knee.
Elrond knew how it had to feel. He cleared his throat carefully.
'My father, he went to sea before I was old enough. I never got to know him as well as I would have liked.'
The boy glanced up.
'Is he really a star?'
'I believe he is… Have you seen the Evening Star?'
'My mother wishes me to stay inside after dark.'
'I'm sure she has her reasons…'
'Maybe I could see it, if you tell her…'
Elrond smiled broadly.
'I think that could be arranged…'
The boy looked at him, a certain excitement in his eyes.
'I would like that.'
Elrond watched the boy, a painful recognition in his heart. The first glimpse of a star, even that star, at his age seemed more important to Valandil than the loss of a father. Before long, that would likely change, of course…
Suddenly Elrond vividly recollected Elros. Only familiar with their parents through stories and songs. Always waiting for the messengers from the many havens, hoping they would bring word of their parents. And even though he had warned him not to expect such a message to come, Elros had continued doing it for many years.
Elrond smiled, driving away the memory and extended his hand.
'If there is something you want to ask, you can always come to me.'
The small hand was placed into the larger one and Elrond shortly held it.
As he watched the small figure walk into the hall, Elrond sighed deeply. This boy would mature so quickly, grow old so fast…
Elros had only once called him to Númenor. There he had found his brother white-haired and wrinkled, while he himself looked not a year older than when he had Chosen. He stayed to watch the slow death of the last person close to him. He had vowed to never do it again.
Yet losing Gil-galad had been worse.
When Elros died, it had been a loss, but expected. The death of an Elf was unnatural, a tragedy.
You warned me not to engage in pointless ventures… But through my weakness and that of Isildur, Orodruin has become exactly that… The Ring is lost, it seems your death merely bought us time… The victory now seems fruitless, for what have we really conquered?
Was he willing to go through that again? To give Valandil what Gil-galad had given him, only to loose him in the end? Or be lost himself, if the Ring found it's way back into… Then she came into his mind.
'Celebrían…' He whispered, immediately making up his mind.
He could not risk letting her go through what he felt now… He wouldn't…
As Celebrían dismounted, before anyone had the chance to help her, tired and dirty from the wet roads, it was Glorfindel who welcomed her.
'My Lady, it is good to see you.'
'Is he here, Glorfindel?' She asked, not desiring small talk.
'In his study.' The Elf-lord answered, a smile playing around his lips.
Without asking further, or taking notice of her fellow travellers, Celebrían entered the main hallway that would lead to Elrond's study.
Glorfindel turned to the others.
'I shall escort you to quarters where you can refresh and rest.'
He had his back towards her when she entered.
Celebrían wasn't sure if she was to wait until Elrond acknowledged her or make a sound to make him aware of her presence. A moment later her ponderings were made mute.
'So you have returned to Imladris, my Lady? Are we to expect your parents as well?' He spoke, and turned towards her.
Her voice failed. It was as if she had to reacquaint herself with his face, the piercing eyes, the sternness they could exude.
Elrond studied her reaction, his head slightly tilted, his grey eyes meeting her blue ones, the expression on his face blank, but something hidden in those eyes, on the verge of showing.
'I hope your journey was… without trouble?'
Celebrían despised herself for doing so, but stepped back and bowed her head for a moment, in order to recover her voice.
'The roads are safe once again, Master Elrond. Discomfort is one of the few troubles travellers experience. My parents are in Lórien.'
'I hope you have not travelled here alone? The roads are not that safe.'
Celebrían realised her naiveté. I should have remembered Isildur. She tried not to show her own inward reprimand.
'I came with some of my father's messengers, no doubt you will speak with them later.'
'No doubt.' There was a slight weariness in his answer.
'I grieved over Gil-galad's passing, yours was a great loss…'
There was a certain defensiveness in Elrond's voice when he answered.
'We all lost something at Orodruin… Let us hope what we gained was worth it.'
He turned around and pressed his hands on the writing table he had been working on.
'I also regretted to hear about Isildur…' Celebrían started.
She watched the Lord of Imladris slightly shrug. He said nothing.
Celebrían was unsure on how to interpret it and simply followed his example of silence.
Elrond turned around again and strode over to the balcony, exchanging the shimmering darkness of the study for a place where the sun shone brightly. Celebrían followed slowly, noticing the smudges of mud on her travel clothing. She should have changed before coming here, instead of looking like some desperate girl, coming in from the road.
He spoke softly as he rested his hands on the carved balustrade.
'Have I fled so deep in duty that it has become a quagmire I cannot escape from?' It was not meant for her ears, Celebrían reflected, and for a moment she wondered, if he had indeed spoken aloud. Then she lightly rested her hand on his arm. Her voice was tender.
'Lore and insight bring their own pain… After millennia… Only mortals envy immortality. And only because they desire what they cannot have.'
'They experience time differently from the way we do…' Elrond added, smiling down at her. Then his face darkened again. Before Celebrían could react he turned and made his way back inside.
Why was he never as direct with her anymore? She had seen him speak his mind often before, but now he spoke to her in riddles.
Elrond turned back and Celebrían shook her head at him.
He raised his eyebrows at her, but did not turn away.
Celebrían pulled up her dresses and with a deep sigh left the study.
To her surprise he followed.
When she turned towards him he was closer than she had expected.
'I would not ask you to bind yourself to me… I will release you from any vows you might have made.'
Celebrían felt her heart miss a beat.
'Is this the reason you stayed away?'
'It would not be fair to make you… I cannot… I hoped you would find another.'
The emotions Celebrían felt, were more intense than any before. For a moment she feared they would consume her.
'I know you were devoted to him… But do not fear to love, simply because you have lost…'
'I lost loved ones before you were even born… Do not…' Elrond turned away. 'I love, but I do not know how to…'
'We will learn together…' Celebrían looked at him. 'Even if you send me away, I will never love another again.'
Elrond raised his hand and rested it upon her cheek. Celebrían bowed her head and closed her eyes, her heart racing. Then she felt his lips touch her forehead. Don't let it be that kind of a kiss, she prayed to the Valar.
When she raised her head again, her eyes open, she saw him looking at her curiously. He shook his head.
Celebrían smiled at him.
'For a master of lore, you take your time…'
He smiled tenderly before he brought his face closer still.
She could feel the warmth of his body through his delicate clothing, making her want to hold him as close as possible, bury herself against him, to never let go again.
When their lips met it was fleetingly at first, perhaps both expecting the other to pull back in an expression of disinclination.
A flush slowly rose on both their faces, as Elrond pulled back, and Celebrían felt his breath quickening, when he raised his hand to her face. When his lips touched hers again, their embrace became more confident. The merging of lips more passionate… Probing… Exploring… Ending, it left both gasping for air. Celebrían buried her head in the archway between his shoulder and head, feeling the soft material of his robes on one of her cheeks, and the smooth texture of his skin on the other as he tilted his head to rest on hers.
Now that she was close enough to catch more than a whisk of his scent, it surprised Celebrían. Like every Elf she knew, Elrond smelled of the outside. But there was a certain freshness to it, something to do with his natural fragrance, merged with a touch of something sweeter, almost like herbs or flowers. It pleased her, not prominent, only detectable from very close by, like she was now. Her breath had become as quick as his.
'How long from now does your father expect you back?' He whispered, his voice unsteady, but the breath pleasant on her skin.
'I did not indicate a time.'
Elrond felt an urge of laughter and relief flow through him. Leaving a tinge on his skin he had never felt before.
'You will stay for a while yet?'
'If you wish it so, Master Elrond.' Celebrían's smile teased him.
'It would please me greatly…' He answered with an equally teasing grin.
Celebrían caught the collar of his robes and made him come close enough for her to kiss him, one of her hands on his cheek.
Then Elrond pulled her against him, his grip strong, as if he feared she would go.
'I longed for you from the very beginning… But I never could have hoped for it, not after the period I was lacking… Not even when I became aware of you crossing the Bruinen only a short time ago.'
Celebrían looked at him.
'You knew I was coming?'
Elrond nodded, his hand on her throat, his thumb stroking the smooth skin.
'The first time I felt it, was when you were in the valley, before crossing the Southern bridge; I was standing on the other side with Gil-galad and Glorfindel and I was certain you would be there when I turned.'
Celebrían looked at him and suddenly her voice drifted into his mind.Im ista, meleth-nîn.*
Elrond observed her amusement at his surprised expression, carefully moving his hand through the tresses of silver hair.Curious that Fëanor and Celebrimbor, grandfather and –son, both loved the same woman.
Celebrían caught one of the locks of Elrond's hair, her voice a whisper.
'You will never be like them. It is not in your blood.'
Elrond smiled, moving his thumb over her eyebrow. Then he bowed down, kissed her again, his hands carefully guiding her head, the flutter in his stomach increasing.
'Will you have me?' He whispered hoarsely as his lips moved over her face.
Celebrían answered him by softly whispering back:
'Do you still need to ask, meld'aran órenyo*? We have already wasted so much time…'
She watched him close his eyes, bowing his head.
Celebrían embraced him and Elrond allowed her, his arms encircling her.
Then, slowly he pulled back.
With long strides he went into the next room, leaving Celebrían for a moment, but returning almost as swiftly. Silently requesting her hand, he revealed a slender silver ring and placed it on her finger. Celebrían looked up at him.
Silently he placed another ring in the palm of her hand, his eyes carefully observing her reaction. Taking his hand, Celebrían slid the ring on Elrond's index-finger, before looking up.
'You would let me wait a year?'
Elrond smiled and ran his hand over her jaw, before following the line of her ear.
'Within that year you have the right to withdraw from the betrothal, and publicly return the ring.'
'It will not come to pass…' She answered, catching and kissing the palm of his hand. 'Come with me to Lórien…'
'I will…' Elrond replied, their hands joining. 'Let us travel there in two weeks.'
And so it happened that almost a month later Elrond and Celebrían arrived in Lórien, wearing identical silver rings, indicating to all their betrothal, and that in less then a year, they would be wedded.
It was then that Elrond truly acquainted himself with the enchantment of Lórien, never separated from Celebrían, always together, simply abiding their time until custom would allow them what was desired for so long.
Initially he was to return to Imladris after a little while, but he stayed, loathe to leave her whom he had so long missed, and only a month before their wedding, returned to Imladris for the final preparations.
*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^Im ista, meleth-nîn. = 'I know, my love.' (If it doesn't exactly say that, it was what I meant it to mean… Oh, never mind ;-) )
meld'aran órenyo, literally 'beloved lord of my heart'. It comes from a poem written by Björn Fromén, Valinórenna (Celebrían's Farewell to Elrond) and it can be found at www.forodrim.org/daeron/md_vali.html
meleth-nîn = my love
Deri-si = wait here ('deri' means 'to wait' or 'to remain', 'si' means 'here')
The customs of Elvish marriage are described in Volume 10 of The History of Middle-earth 'Morgoth's Ring' by Christopher Tolkien.
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.