1. The Gift-giving of Celeborn
"'[T]here are certain rash words concerning the Lady of the golden Wood that lie still between us. And now I have seen her with my eyes.'
"'Well, lord,' said Gimli, 'and what say you now?'
"'Alas!' said Éomer. 'I will not say that she is the fairest lady that lives.'
"'Then I must go for my axe,' said Gimli.
"'But first I will plead this excuse,' said Éomer. 'Had I seen her in other company, I would have said all that you could wish. But now I will put Queen Arwen Evenstar first, and I am ready to do battle on my own part with any who deny me. Shall I call for my sword?'
"Then Gimli bowed low. 'Nay, you are excused for my part, lord,' he said. 'You have chosen the Evening; but my love is given to the Morning. And my heart forebodes that soon it will pass away forever.'"
They stood just beyond the light of the torches and spoke together, ere the one bowed and the other smiled. He, too, stood in the concealing darkness and watched them part: the young king and the Dwarf with courteous words bade each other farewell.
Then Gimli settled himself against the wall there, staring over the ramparts, and Éomer left. By starlight an Elf could trace the glint of gold that was his passage, and Celeborn thought of the brightness of his lady's locks. Which spurred him on to his self-appointed task: tonight, his business was with the Dwarf, and for perhaps the first time, he had hope for it.
"Lord Celeborn," said Gimli, startled by his appearance at his side—and wary as he made his bow, Celeborn perceived. As well I might expect.
"Master Dwarf," he replied, and fell silent, feeling the night and the other's presence in it, wondering how his words might be received.
"Was there something you wished of me?" the Dwarf asked after a time.
"Perhaps," said he. Then, tilting his head whither Éomer had gone: "You would defend her to him."
"You listened?" Immediate offense rang in that growl, but the Elf-lord shook his head.
"I overheard. I had come seeking you, and," Celeborn admitted and drew a breath, "I am glad that I came when I did. I should have missed your words else."
An awkward cough greeted this, ere Gimli sighed, then suddenly bowed low, his beard sweeping the paving stones. "My lord Celeborn, I own I have wronged you," the Dwarf said, manfully. "It was not my intention to usurp your place, but the matter had been between us at first and—"
"Peace, Gimli, you misunderstand me," Celeborn interrupted, understanding then what prompted this speech. "Your words, though meant for another, were welcome to me. For I came seeking you. I have thought often of our meeting in Lothlórien since you came and since you departed; our lives are long and much spent upon the past, you see."
"Oh?" Embarrassment gave way once more to that wary, suspicious note, the Lord of Lothlórien observed, even as he nodded. Gimli grunted at that. "I see." A pause, then: "And what so noteworthy in our meeting, lord, that you've not ceased to think on it?"
"More than you might believe," Celeborn replied. "We were ill-met, 'tis true. My lady recalled me that day to courtesy and such sympathy as my heart might bear for any bereft of homeland. But that is yet little—the mere habit of age that is remarkable only when lacking. And while my lady Galadriel acted but rightly, it was not courtesy alone that moved her, and I confess I did not understand the love in her words." Celeborn shrugged—wordless, wry eloquence. "'Tis hardly the first time! For where her heart turns in friendship to Dwarves, I have spent more years in darkness than in whatever light gives her such eyes to see worth there. You were but the latest reminder of our long difference in this matter." He paused, raised a brow. "Does it offend you to hear this?"
"Perhaps," Gimli replied, but gestured slightly. "Say on and then we both shall learn the answer."
"A measured reply—as one might perhaps expect of Dwarves," he replied, and smiled that the words might not sting, ere he continued. "It was your parting that perplexed me most, and there my thoughts have dwelt most often. I would have called you forth to answer for your request of her, had not my lady laughed and granted it. She heard from me later on it and I will say she was not gentle in her rebuke!" Celeborn shook his head, but a sidelong glance at Gimli did not show the amusement he might have imagined would greet this revelation, only an expectant silence. "I could understand nothing in all she said or did that pertained to you, and it troubled me. Therefore I vowed that I would understand her love this time, and sooner rather than later."
"And do you understand now, lord?" Gimli asked, in the pregnant pause that followed.
"I believe so. You see the sun in her hair, do you not?" Celeborn replied softly. "The Morning you spoke of, and that you would defend in defending her. The Morning that she looks to and that abides in her, and that must soon fade, despite all defenders." It needed no words to answer—he could feel the longing well up within the other, pricked to life at mere mention of their Lady Daystar, and that decided him. "Would you hold it awhile longer in the world?" he asked.
"I—" Gimli paused, confusion plain upon his face now. "Who would not?" he asked finally. "But what do ask me, lord?"
"To receive what I can give," Celeborn replied simply, and swift as water, flowed forward to lay his hands upon either side of Gimli's head. Then, ere the Dwarf could even flinch, he leaned forward and breathed upon his face, spoke a ringing word. Gimli shivered, and Celeborn withdrew.
"There," said he. "All things are doomed to diminish within Middle-earth—even ancient grievance! But you shall have in this one thing the consolation granted Elves: you shall not forget, nor memory fade. And so while you remain in this Middle-earth, there shall the Morning be when she has departed and the Dawn with her."
Celeborn bowed then. "Namárië, elvellon." So saying, he slipped away ere another word could be spoken.
Not all silences, after all, were evil.
Gimli watched the elven lord disappear then into the darkness, swift and silent as he had come. Eventually, after a long moment staring speechless with amazement at the emptiness of the night, he shook himself. In a thoughtful mood, then, he betook himself to bed. He did not dream of the lady Galadriel.
But ever after, unto the end of his days in Middle-earth, he would remember her: fair and free and radiant, undimmed by the mind's shadows that claimed so much else that was dear. And perhaps it was a trick of mood, or mayhap a grace of the giver, but it seemed to him, each time he turned from memory to his daily labors, that the world was a little brighter than it had been before.
Not all silences, after all, were evil.—see "The Grey Havens," ROTK, 347.
Namárië, elvellon—I am sure that this well-worn phrase is known to all, but in case not: Farewell, Elf-friend.
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