1. To Her
Gently the waves lapped at the soles of Celeborn's light shoes. His grey gaze swept out over the horizon, where the water faded from his long view. He stood transfixed, unmoving as a caste; not even breath seemed to pass through him. Only his hair, silver as the light of Teleperion, lashed against his face in the breeze of the great Sea.
"Never have I seen the face of Ulmo's great waters," the Sindarin lord said at length, though he did not turn his eyes away from the Sea or take a step. "It takes my very breath."
The elf at his side was silent for a time. "Long have I lived in the Grey Havens, and many times have I sailed across these fair waters," spoke he, "And yet never do I grow tired of her beauty, nor her beckoning call. Hark, Lord Celeborn! Can you not hear her voice? She wishes you to cross her; she will settle for nothing less."
"I hear her call," murmured Celeborn. "I hear it." He turned his head, but his eyes did not turn with him; they remained on the Sea, until he made them shut. "She bids me taste the salt of her breath, and sing with the gulls that ride her breeze. It is a sweet cry."
"Indeed it is." The other elf's voice was breathless with exhilaration and joy. "Again I ask you: will you not go to her? Will you not answer?"
There was no reply for some time, and the Sea filled the silence with her voice, roaring against the rocks of the shore as if battling the land for some wrongdoing. All things return to me in time, she sang. All things return, and now the time is yours.
"I do not know," spoke Celeborn. And with reluctance in his stride, he walked away.
To what purpose had he come to this last haven?
It is a fair question, mused Celeborn, and one that I must answer ere I think about the Sea. For he had found not comfort here, but more burdens for his heart. Aching inside, the roar of the Sea singing distantly in his ears and in his heart, the lord of Lórien drew away to the trees, wherein he found some semblance of happiness. He sang softly to them, and they sang in return, but their voices were laden with agony, for these trees knew too well the departure of many an Elven ship to the West.
Loss burned within Celeborn's heart. Ever would he love these trees, though they might not be the perfect mellyrn so loved by his wife Galadriel, and ever would he love Arda, though the hand of Morgoth may have tainted its making. Nothing Celeborn could see was diminished for its imperfections. But long had all been diminished for a face in the Sindarin lord's eye, and all was tainted for a love that filled and tugged at his heart at every moment. Yet even this was endurable for a time.
However, as his eyes had fallen upon the Sea and her vast beauty, Celeborn had known the doom of his kinsman. All was reduced for the call of Ulmo's waters, reduced to near nothingness. And as the forest had faded from Celeborn's captivated mind, another image had grown stronger.
Will you not go to her?
Celeborn knew that when his Telerin kinsman spoke of 'her', he meant the Sea. But even as the Sea beckoned with open arms, it was Galadriel's face that sprang to mind at the words.
So lost in thought was he that he did not hear footsteps until they were nigh upon him. "Why dost my kinsman wear a downcast face?"
Celeborn left off his crooning song to the trees and looked down, and his eyes fell upon the lord of Mithlond, Círdan. "My lord," said he, and he leapt from his perch to give proper reverence.
Círdan returned the bow. "Lord Celeborn," replied he, "thy face shines with the cruelty of loss, and I wouldst have from thee an explanation."
Celeborn met his distant kinsman's gaze. "Indeed do I burn with loss, my Lord Círdan. For I hath heard the call of the Sea, and I hath lost mine heart to her." He turned his face away. "How dost thou bear it? How didst the Lady Galadriel so long endure her call? For I am all but lost to her and the desire she doth raise in me."
For a time Círdan made no answer. "Truly you are of Sindarin stock," he said at length, "For upon no one else does the call come so suddenly strong." He walked two paces to the tree that had been Celeborn's perch, and he raised his ancient eyes up to the leaves, lifting a hand to the bark. "Our time ends swiftly now," said he, and it seemed to Celeborn that Círdan spoke not only to him, but to the trees as well. "As the last rays of the sun reflect upon Ulmo's waters do the last glimmers of the Firstborn linger upon Arda. But now even that light fades, and the final twilight comes upon us." The ship-wright's look fell from the tree and again met Celeborn's. "Do not think that I am immune to the Sea's call, my Lord Celeborn, for my time also ends. The land relinquishes us, and the Secondborn claim their birthright as they were meant to." He smiled softly. "It is so with all the Firstborn; Ulmo beckons to us with ever greater strength, and now he drowns out the call of the land to even the Silvan elves who live upon his brooks and streams. So why is it that you weep for lost love? Did you think that you would always love this land above all else, even the Lady Galadriel?" he asked.
The question was blunt as only the Lord Círdan ever was, and Celeborn was chastised accordingly. "I had not chosen to think that far ahead," he admitted. "To do so would force me to meditate upon the Lady's departure, and that loss I felt too keenly to look upon."
"Aye," Círdan agreed, his voice tinged with regret. "Aye, such a loss was overwhelming, and a blow to us all as well as you. But think not upon that." He stepped forward, and his eyes grew distant as he looked beyond Celeborn to the harbor of the Grey Havens, though it could not be seen from the grove they stood in. "I am weary, Lord Celeborn. Even now I am building my last ship, and upon it I and all those who remain in Middle-earth may depart, should they so choose. I go now to our home and resting place."
At these words Celeborn felt this loss the more severely. "Ever shall I love this land," cried he. "Ever shall it be in mine heart. But this is good! Middle-earth, I leave thee in the able hands of the Edain." And tears pricked his eyes as they had not done since Galadriel boarded the white boat.
"Peace," murmured Círdan then, "Peace, my kinsman. Think thee upon better things."
But there in the grove, surrounded by the soft song of the trees, Celeborn could not. And so he opened his heart again to the call of the Sea and her distant cry, so different from the sad song that was around him. Come to me, said the Sea. Come to me, and as you sail upon me and come to the lands beyond me, may you find your eternal rest.
As he again fell into rapture with the lulling sound of the waves, in his mind's eye, Celeborn could see golden hair that caught within its strands brilliance beyond the light of the sun, and eyes that shone bright with the light of eyes that had seen the Two Trees of Valinor.
And within himself, there was some tranquility.
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Author's Notes: Celeborn evidently had not heard the call of the Sea at the end of The Lord of the Rings. I am not entirely certain that he could hear its call in the Gulf of Lhûn, but when one considers that Legolas had but to hear the cry of a seagull to fall into the rapture of the Sea, I don't think this is too far-fetched.
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