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Reflections of Past and Future
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Reflections of Past and Future

Disclaimer: The characters, the context and the main plot belong to Professor Tolkien, whom I greatly admire. I’m only trying to fill in the gaps he so graciously left for us, fanfic writers, to have some fun.

Rating is for rather troubling images of war

Dedication: for Fiona Rayne, as a poor substitute of how Yuletide is celebrated in Edhellond.

Author’s notes:
This is a sequel of some sort to my Elven Christmas story called “Winter Solstice”. Written only because Gildor was pouting that I did not let him have any part of the fun. So, you can consider this as his New Year story – a short, rather dark and extremely moody piece, mirroring his state of mind shortly before the Ring war. (Short being an Elven term here.)


[Edhellond, the eve of yestarë in the year 2936 of the Third Age]

The South Haven, unlike Mithlond, its elder sibling, never knew the true wrath of winter. Snow was naught but a far-away white gleam adorning the high peaks of old Mindolluin down here. It made the change of seasons and the passing of years unreal like a dream – at least for someone who was born in the far Northwest where seasons used to be more recognizable.

Standing upon the flat roof of his lordly house, Gildor Inglorion, the Lord of the South Haven, was looking towards the Western Sea and behind it towards the Undying Lands that were hidden from all eyes, even should they have been keen enough to see thus far. Which they were not, of course. Even before the world was bent, no-one could see the shores of Valinor from the hither lands.

Still, in recent years, Gildor’s eyes often looked westwards. Unlike his subjects, he knew for sure that the Undying Lands actually existed. His parents and his sister lived there, after all. And even though he was born in Middle-earth and remained here with his parents’ blessings, the pull of the Sea on his heart had become increasingly strong lately. He knew one day he simply would be unable to withstand it. But before that he had to see the Shadow defeated and Barad-dúr broken again – this time for eternity. This was the quest he had taken upon himself and he could not leave ere he saw it happen.

Gildor had been born during the War of Wrath when Arda was being broken apart all around him in the struggle between Morgoth and the Host of Valinor. He was born on the Isle of Balar, the last refuge of the Elves in Beleriand that sank under the Sea ere he reached his maturity. And though he had lived in the safe haven of Edhellond for nearly two Ages, he had no real home anywhere but on the road.

‘Twas not the wanderlust of his grandfather alone that made him join the Wandering Elves – the ones who chose him as their Lord, despite his relative youth compared to that of their Elders. They felt a kindred spirit in him, for just like the Green-Elves of Ossiriand had no homes anymore, so had he become rootless as well. He might have a place to call his own, but he did not have a person, a special one, to whom he could return from his endless travels.

He had not had one for a long time – more than an Age and a half, indeed.

He thought back to the solemn festivities with which the inhabitants of Ost-in-Edhil had greeted the first day of a new year and felt the familiar dull pain in his chest once again. There could be no doubt that his mostly Silvan subjects had merrier ways to celebrate the changing of seasons than the exiled Noldor in Celebrimbor’s small realm. And yet he would give anything to be there again. To warm his freezing heart by the sizzling fire of Celebrimbor’s spirit.

But Celebrimbor was dead, had been dead for thousands of years and would mayhap never return from Mandos’ Halls. Not so much because the Valar would not forgive him, as because he most likely would not forgive himself. And even if he returned, who knew whether their bond would still exist?

Glorfindel had said once – in one of the rare occasions when he was willing to speak of his time in the Halls at all – that dying and rebirth could change a person profoundly. The fëa still kept the memories, but the new flesh had none of them. None at all. And Gildor knew well enough that sometimes what flesh remembered was just as important as the memories of the spirit. Or even more.

His own memories were all attached to some kind of sensation. The first beauty: the radiance of the rising Sun when he opened his eyes for the first time… the soft songs of his mother, mingled with the murmurs of the sea… the laughter of his father… the fire in Celebrimbor’s eyes… the weightless silk of Elrond’s hair, sliding between his fingers… the taste of his first kiss, his first gulp of strong wine… the cool caress of the waves upon his skin… the heat of passion consuming his whole being… – every memory was conveyed by sight, sound, smell, taste or touch.

And so were the memories of horror, too. The terrible noise of the land breaking down into the stormy Sea… the sickening sound of his own sword, cutting through the mail of his enemies… the smell of the burning houses and smouldering corpses in Ost-in-Edhil… the taste of his own blood in his mouth after he had bitten through his lower lip in despair without noticing it… the empty holes staring back at him from a dead face, holes where those fiery blue eyes used to be… the battlefield of Dagorlad, shaking and groaning from the force of the disintegration of Sauron’s physical form… – all in one, big, ever-changing kaleidoscope of horrid sensations, as vivid as if they were not mere memories but happening in this very moment.

Should he die before the Shadow was defeated, how much of it would remain, either good or bad? Would he still be the same person without the huge library of his memories untouched? Would Celebrimbor be the same? Or would he willingly abandon the memories of that what they had together?

They said that when an Elf’s spirit was rehoused, his innocence, too, was restored. Not his personal innocence, for that depended on the experiences made in a former life, but the innocence of their race – the state in which their forefathers had awakened at the starlit mere of Cuiviénen. A profound innocence that – he had seen it in Glorfindel often enough – was in a never-ending conflict with personal experiences. Even Glorfindel, who was clearly more than some random rehoused spirit, having been specifically enhanced in order to become Eönwë’s aide in the War of Wrath, had detached himself from a great part of his own past, considering its events as distant memories only.

What would Celebrimbor do, should he ever be released from the Halls? Would he want to remember at all? Would he want to be reunited with a lover with whom he had bonded in a whim of the heart, without even realizing it? Or would he want to begin his life anew, without the burdens of the former one?

Gildor shivered involuntarily. His parents had left for the West early on, his sister had followed them after the Last Alliance, the heart of his niece was in Imladris with Elrohir, even though she was visiting Edhellond at the moment, and young Lindir, the last twig of the once so mighty Finwëan tree, refused to acknowledge their kinship so that he could marry his lover of common birth. The son of Inglor stood truly alone, with his vow of vengeance as his only company.

He turned his gaze towards the harbour. It was brimming with life, his subjects eager to finish their preparations ere the first star of the new year rose to the skies. He would have to go down to the Place of Festivals and open the festivities. He would have to feast with his people, to dance with them under the stars, to listen to the songs of the minstrels. He owed that much his people, and he never neglected his duties when at home. Even if he felt not in the least like celebrating himself.

“You should go down and change, my Lord,’ the soft voice of Enedrion murmured behind him. “Soon it will be time to leave for the festival, and you have not had your bath yet.”

Gildor turned to his personal aide and sometimes scribe with a sigh. Enedrion, a young member of the Wandering Company, was a highly educated Sindarin Elf with an insatiably curious mind – and an ill-concealed infatuation for his Lord.

“I assume you have prepared everything already?” Gildor asked in a gently teasing manner. He was rather fond of the chestnut-haired young Elf, despite the fact that those admiring eyes became tiresome on occasion. Enedrion blushed.

“I tried my best, my Lord.”

“You always do,” Gildor suppressed a sigh and laid his arm around the shoulder of his suddenly giddy aide. “Come on then, let us do what is expected from us.”

With that, he descended from the roof, Enedrion nearly melting into a puddle under his touch, to have his bath and let himself be wrapped into his most festive garments. If naught else, Enedrion’s closeness was some sort of comfort in this lonely night.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

What, no footnotes? No, indeed. This is a special occasion.

Copyright: Soledad Cartwright@2003-03-01


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