2. To Feel Young Again
In the 328th year of the Fourth Age...
Celeborn woke to cold water thrown in his face.
"Happy begetting day!" his grandsons cheered.
"Will you two never grow up?" Celeborn tried to growl in irritation, but could not suppress a smile.
Elladan and Elrohir always managed to brighten his life when they visited. This he needed, for most of the time he felt far too weary of the world, as if he were an aged Mortal. So many of his loved ones lost. Arwen, long since gone into death, following Aragorn. Tracing further back, Celebrian, forced to sail or fade. His only son, Amroth, in blunt truth a suicide. His brother, parents and grandparents, killed in Doriath. And to top it all, while death or forced departure were understandable, Galadriel's willing, almost eager abandonment was not, even now.
Lothlorien had long been abandoned by all but a few miserable stragglers and Houseless feär. With the mallyrn and the Lady gone it was a cruel memory, and Celeborn had not visited it in years.
"There's more water where that came from, Daeradar," Elladan's tone almost captured Elrond's characteristic weary exasperation, and was betrayed only by the mirth in his eyes. "Now come down and greet the Sun!"
Though he had always preferred starlight, as he strode out of his halls in Southern Greenwood, Celeborn had to admit it was indeed a fine day. Nearly all of the Galadhrim who had not sailed had followed him eastwards; the latter had toiled long at restoring the forests. What had once been Mirkwood was now truly Eryn Lasgalen again from one end to the other, excepting Amon Lanc, still cursed with the foulness that had been Dol Goldur. His own dwelling was a masterwork. With little need for talan - the few remaining Orcs cowered in the Mountains - his Elves had crafted Halls of living wood. Fangorn, whom he had never expected to see again, had helped.
One's begetting day was not a day for duty or sorrow, and Celeborn's many friends were determined to lift his melancholy. The story-telling and games were amusing. Children in a world without Sauron or Morgoth were delightful. The children were too few, but there were far more of them than there had been in the last centuries of the Third Age. Haldir and Tasariel, who had inexplicably waited nearly thirty ennin before marrying, had seemingly taken filling the Wood with their own as their new mission, and a few other couples had followed their example.
At sundown torches were lit, and the singing and feasting began, and the gift-giving. The gifts were for the most part new-wrought, for all knew Celeborn preferred not to be reminded that little indeed remained of Lorien, let alone Doriath, save trinkets, the odd weapon, and of course those Elves who had survived the various wars and and chosen to remain in Middle-earth.
Elladan and Elrohir gave him a - few pieces of paper with prints of Aragorn, a few emblems and numbers? "What is this?" he demanded - surely his grandsons could do better! The paper was not even that fine; it would not last.
"It is paper money, Daeradar!" the Lords of Imladris answered with delight. "Though it is only paper, it represents gold or silver equally! You can use it in trade! The specie to back it is guarded in Minas Tirith."
Now here was an idea, Celeborn realized - even Elrond, nay, even Celebrimbor had not thought of this! "How much gold?" he could not forbear to ask.
"The amount is represented by the numbers," The twins told him.
The amount represented by the largest 'bill' astonished Celeborn; Gondor had grown prosperous indeed. "Thank you, my penneth. It is long since I have seen something so simple which so surprised me. And the paper-gold certainly will do us no harm!"
His grandsons grinned as if they were one-tenth their actual age, and took their leave.
Later in the evening, Thranduil approached with a strange, hooded Elf alongside. Celeborn smiled and embraced the King of Eryn Lasgalen in greeting. Their friendship and alliance had been one of the few benefits of losing Galadriel.
Thranduil had of course always been an ally, but a wary one. He had never been able to bring himself to be Celeborn's unreserved friend while Galadriel had remained and borne Nenya. But with that obstacle gone, and seeing that his new southern neighbors - much preferable to the old ones - were determined to live at least as Sindar if not as Silvans, Thranduil had embraced him as ally, kinsman and friend.
"Oropher always spoke kindly of you in my youth, and I have never seen or heard anything to make me believe he was wrong." the woodland King had pronounced two ennin ago.
At the moment, however, Thranduil was staring at him. "Please live in the light of tonight's stars, mellon nin, and dwell in memories no longer."
Celeborn started to mutter an apology but changed instead to a rejoinder better suited for the son of Oropher: "And, King Thranduil, have you nothing but Avarin nonsense to bring me on my begetting day?" This was of course foolishness, for Thranduil was no more Avarin than Celeborn was. The term was, in any case, a Golodh slur.
"Avarin nonsense! Hmmph..." the hooded Elf said in a strange accent, but Thranduil said, "Hold. It's my surprise." Beaming, Thranduil continued. "For old men like you, the best begetting day gift is something to make you feel young."
Celeborn stopped smiling, but Thranduil pressed on. "I see your grandsons' gift has done this to some extent - I wish I had thought of paper-gold myself! But I, the King, will not be outdone. For I have brought something both old - very old - yet, to you, new."
"Well, then, bring it out!" Celeborn cried. Having drunk his share of Dorwinion, he was merry enough, and now curious. What could be both very old and new? Thranduil seemed empty-handed as he said, "Now." The hooded Elf threw off his cloak.
"Eru!" Celeborn blurted out as he stared first seemingly in a mirror, and then at his - grandfather? Elmo, Thingol's brother, dead so long ago? Had he come back like Glorfindel or Luthien? Seeing a Reborn One was considered a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Seeing his wonder, the silver-haired Elf said "No, Celeborn, I am not Elmo, though I knew him well. Long ago."
Celeborn was at a loss, ashamed that he would not recognize one of the remaining members of his House. Nearly all of the Iathrim who remained in Middle-earth dwelled in his current domain, and this Elf clearly would have been an Elder even in the Doriath of his memory. His eyes - clearly he was ancient. Not as tall as Celeborn, but sturdier. But the accent was confusing...
Clearly this Elf could read him like a book, for he laughed. "No, Celeborn, you have never set eyes on me before. I never came to Doriath, nor to any of your realms."
"Then how did you know my grandfather?" Celeborn foolishly demanded. Elmo had been a reluctant traveler - he was one of those who had held the Teleri back, searching for his brother Elwë while the latter was lost, enchanted by Melian. Once Doriath was established, Elmo had never left it until the day he died.
"Think for yourself, Celeborn. Do I really appear a lost son of Doriath?" came the reply.
No, indeed this Elf's dress was more suited to the Evyr, or rather, a prince of the Evyr, if such a thing were possible. Yet Celeborn, who had ruled a half-dozen realms and met the leaders of countless others, saw clearly that the stranger possessed great majesty. And that, uncharacteristically for one possessed of this quality, he was completely attuned to the wood - more so than Thranduil, or even the Laegrim!
The very ground beneath his feet seemed to embrace him, and he it. Celeborn had seen this quality before, in Treebeard and Bombadil. Yet the stranger before him was a silver-haired Elf who looked just like Elmo. Who was he?
The strange Elf chuckled and said, "Perhaps the wine has clouded your wits, Celeborn. Think. I said I knew your grandfather, and I have heard he never left Doriath once he entered it. Such was the enchantment of that realm." A great sadness passed over the ancient eyes, though only for a moment. "But as you well know, Elmo was not born in Doriath."
Celeborn, at a loss for words, continued to think. A regal Elf who looked like Elmo and knew him before Doriath. His mind wandered back over the Ages, before the coming of the Sun, himself sitting on Elmo's knee as a young child, Elmo telling him of a sadness, why his own older sister, Celeborn's great-aunt, was not with them in Doriath. The words came back slowly.
"Because, penneth nin, she came never over the Hithlaegir. Her husband was always to our rear, and finally he broke off with a great part of our folk and we never saw them again. The strange thing was, he looked so like me that people thought we were brothers. Brothers in heart, perhaps, though I do not forgive him for taking Cielinn away from us. His name was..."
"Lenwë!" Celeborn burst out, and the ancient one at last let the masks fall.
"The same," he said, smiling as he wrapped Celeborn in a lung-crushing embrace. "You look so like my heart-brother that it hurts to see you. And since you think just as slowly, I cannot doubt that you are his grandson. I am sorry we could not come earlier, but we also had our hands ever on our bows. We suffered great losses trying to prevent the Easterlings from passing through our lands during the last War. And, as you no doubt have heard ... we do not readily leave our land, and have been very cautious. But now the Great Enemy is gone, thank the stars, He is finally gone! Now come, there is someone else for you to meet."
Celeborn was dumbstruck, so Lenwë simply grabbed his shoulders and spun him around as if he were a doll. A silver haired elleth stood before him. Her eyes were dancing, yet ancient as Lenwë's.
"You are indeed the image of Elmo," Cielinn said, "though taller, and - " looking mischievously at her husband - "a good deal more handsome! We have much to catch up. But let us not stand here like Dwarven statues. May I dance with you, Nephew?"
As Celeborn escorted his newfound great-aunt to the dance, Thranduil laid his hand on his shoulder and said "See, friend, I brought you something both old and new. All of us should feel young on our begetting days. Do you feel so, now?"
"Yes," Celeborn choked as tears finally came, "yes I do."
Thranduil nodded before taking his leave, a strange look in his emerald eyes. "As do I. They are my great-grandparents."
Author's Notes: Tasariel is also borrowed from Marnie's 'The Battle of the Golden Wood'. Lenwë is the founder of the Nandor, the Wood-Elves. Tolkien vaguely implied that Lenwë had died long before, because his son Denethor led many lightly armed Nandor west, in fear of the Enemy, much later in the First Age. However, as far as I know Tolkien didn't specifically write of Lenwë's death. So I've assumed he was still alive, but (because of the long sundering) that this comes as a surprise to Celeborn. And, uncanonically, that Lenwë is Oropher's wife's grandfather.
ennin - plural of yen; one yen = 144 years
Evyr - the Avari of Mirkwood/Greenwood
Laegrim - the Wood or `Silvan' Elves.
Last but not least, I thank my beta reader, Dawn Felagund.
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.