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3
First Sight

Author's notes:
I have no idea when and who Elrond first met Celeborn and Galadriel. At this time, he still is rather young for an Elf, so I thought it would be as good an opportunity as ever, with them dwelling at Lake Evendim. There is no birth date given in the Appendices for Celebrían – she might have been younger than I show her, but that’s not certain, either.

As for Celeborn, I took some liberties concerning his ancestry. But since Tolkien himself had at least three different theories about him, I felt I could be a little more – inspired in this.

Dedication: This one is for Nemis, who wanted Gil-galad really badly. Hey, it even has Celebrían – sort of. :)


~~~

Chapter 3: First Sight

Gil-galad saw Glorfindel disappear somewhere in the garden and groaned inwardly. He hated to face his guests – well, it would have been more correct to say “Círdan’s guests,” but as High King and as the foster son of the Shipwright he had to take over certain duties – without the supporting presence of the ancient Elf. Even though he knew perfectly well that Glorfindel’s support belonged to Elrond, first and foremost – a strong bond, almost as strong as between father and son, had been forged between the two of them while they traveled with Eönwë all over the western lands after the War of Wrath. In spite of his mixed heritage, Elrond was the youngest member of Fingolfin’s House, and that was the House Glorfindel had sworn his oath of service, first based on his friendship to Turgon, then out of love to Idril.

Gil-galad sighed. Círdan was still out in the Gulf, swimming and laughing and playing with the sea-spirits and many of the more adventurous Falathrim, entertaining the Lady Uinen and her moody spouse with their graceful water-play, and there was but a small chance of him returning any time, soon. So it was the High King’s duty to officially greet the highest-ranking guests who had arrived just a little late to witness the opening ceremony and were now waiting at the entrance of the Feasting Hall to be welcomed.

He eyed a little warily Celeborn of Doriath, the exact grade of whose kinship with Círdan he never could truly figure out. The tall, silver-haired warrior who also was counted among the Wise of the Firstborn, wore a long, silvery-green robe made of that light and soft cloth the making of which was a secret of the Green-Elves of Hithlum and kept by their kin in Ossiriand even after the War. Upon his brow was a narrow silver circlet with a white stone in the middle.

Celeborn was said to be a close kin of Elwë Singollo, too, born and raised in the enchanted woods of Doriath and taught by Melian herself. He was known as the best archer of his people since the tragic passing of Beleg Cúthalion, but his hands were equally skilled with the strings of the harp. He had not the rare gift of a true minstrel, but he played the harp well, and knew all the old lays of the Doriathrim, many of which were made by the Wood-Elves in their own tongue.

The more surprising it was for every one who knew him the choice he made when he married Artanis, Finarfin’s daughter, whom he called Galadriel. Gil-galad was not even born at that time, but the choice of the Tree Lord, as Celeborn was commonly called, had been discussed in astonishment and mild dismay among the Sindar in the Havens – when Círdan was not nearby to hear it, that is.

No one truly knew what part Artanis, the Warrior Princess had in the Kinslaying of Alqualondë, and considering the part that his own father had in it, Gil-galad had no right to ask or condemn her. That was a horrible event of the past, and he could be glad that Círdan kept his friendship with the Noldor nevertheless – and that the Lord Ossë tolerated him on his shores during all these years.

So nay, ’twas not what Artanis might or might not have done at Alqualondë what made him uneasy in her presence. Considering the fact that Celeborn had married her, her part in the bloodshed must have been a small one – mayhap the guilt of doing naught against it, more than joining it, or Celeborn would never touch her, no matter how much he might have been in love. The Tree Lord was aught but soft and easily forgiving.

Nay, it was that calculating coldness in her eyes that never failed to make the young King shiver. Those were the eyes of someone who loved power and was willing to do about everything to gain it. Though the Green-Elves of Ossiriand – at least those tribes that dwelt around Lave Evendim – chose Celeborn to be their Lord, Artanis carried herself as if she had the power in their small realm.

The typical arrogance of the Finwëans, echoed Glorfindel’s remark in the young King’s head while he steeled himself to face the now-eldest member of that once so great House. To his great relief, Inglor and his wife, the Lady Lintári(1), chose this very moment to appear on his side. The son of Finrod – an almost uncanny copy of his father according to Círdan – gave him a friendly pat on the back, while the golden-shimmering Vanyarin lady took his arm like he were family.

“Show no fear,” Inglor commented in a low voice. “Our dear aunt loves it to send cold shivers down other people’s spine, but that is about all she can do.”

“That, and invading other people’s thoughts,” Lintári added, clearly not liking it. “More so now that she is with child; that makes her the more sensitive. Avoid seeing directly in her eyes if you can – that makes her more difficult to read your mind.”

“But I have naught to hide,” Gil-galad protested uncertainly, fighting a nasty little inner voice that told him otherwise.

“I say not that you have,” answered Lintári, “but you cannot know what weakness of yours she would find out to use it later against you. She would not hesitate to do so, in that I have no doubts.”

“’Tis said that she and my father used to be very close,” Inglor added thoughtfully. “That is why I sought her out at the first possible time. I did not even know my father and so was eager to learn more of him than my mother could tell. But it seems Mother knew him not as well as I thought – in fact, she knew him not at all, if my father truly was that close to his sister as people say. Either Artanis must have changed a lot since she came back to Middle-earth, or my father was not the person Mother thought him to be.”

Gil-galad knew, of course, that the reunion between Finrod’s only son and his sister went not well, but he knew not the details and chose not to ask. Better let sleeping dragons lie, he warned himself wisely. He was grateful, however, that Inglor was on his side when he had to face the formidable Lady of Evendim.

Unlike her husband, Artanis was clad in white, the heavy folds of her gown unable to conceal her pregnant state any more. She was not far from giving birth by now, and it surprised Gil-galad that she had taken upon her the journey at all, even though it was not a very long one. Still, she looked weary, leaning heavily on Celeborn’s arm, her much-adored hair sparkling in the light of the silver lanterns like ithildin.

The High King honoured their guests with a polite bow, hand upon heart, saying: “Welcome to the Grey Havens, Lord of the Trees… Lady Artanis. It has been too long since you lastly honoured one of our feasts with your presence.”

“Very true,” Celeborn agreed, his voice deep and pleasant like the music of the wind among the tree-branches, “and truth to be told, we cannot even blame the hardships of ruling for it. Our little realm is a quiet place, and life is slow and peaceful there.”

“And the trees are wonderful company, no doubt,” Lintári added with a smile. Celeborn inclined his head in a somehow rueful agreement.

“Yea, they are. Though as much as our people enjoy the woods, sometimes I fear that my Lady would find our life rather… plain. She was not born to dwell under trees, after all.”

“My Lord delights in speaking of me as if I were not present,” Artanis said with a slight edge in her voice, “yet I can assure you that I chose to dwell at Lake Evendim of my own free will.”

“I doubt very much that any one, even the Lord of the Trees, could make you do aught you would rather not doing, Lady Artanis,” Inglor replied mildly.

“Nay, they certainly cannot,” Artanis agreed, her voice gaining even more of an edge, though it seemed not to frighten Inglor a bit.

Gil-galad shifted positions uncomfortably. The last thing he wanted was a less-than-friendly family banter breaking out in the middle of the Sea Festival. Círdan would heavily disapprove of having the greatest feast of the Falathrim spoiled, and despite all their love for each other, Gil-galad always found it better not to raise Círdan’s disapproval. The Shipwright was slow to anger, but when he got angry, it was like a sea storm – it wiped out everything in its way.

Fortunately, Celeborn came to his rescue with practiced smoothness. “’Tis not my wish to force my Lady to do aught against her will,” he said with a slight smile. “But do tell me, my Lord: have we come at the right time this year? Can we finally hope to meet the last child of Lúthien? It has been my wish for a long time to know the great-grandsons of my brother, and now that Elros is lost for us forever, the more do I long to meet Elrond.”

“Most certainly, you can meet him this time,” Gil-galad nodded in relief that they finally found a topic that might not escalate into a fight. “He must be here somewhere – I shall send someone to find him.”

“No need for that, my Lord; I am here,” and Elrond, more gliding upon the transparent floor than walking, stepped up to the High King, clad in his most rich, burgundy red raiment, his raven-black hair braided in the same fashion as Gil-galad’s own; which was the reason that particular fashion was called the King’s Braid. “’Tis my pleasure to meet you, Lord Celeborn. I regret having been absent during your rare visits in the Havens.”

“They were far in-between, ’tis true,” Celeborn nodded, clasping forearms with the young Peredhel, while Artanis reached out her hand for a kiss absently. “I must say, I am surprised,” the Lord of the Trees added, giving Elrond a thorough look. “I have heard rumors before, of course, but your likeness to Lúthien is stunning, indeed. Think you not so, my Lady?”

Artanis focused her cold grey eyes on that pale face, fair beyond even Elven measure and yet carrying a slight mortal hardness in its fine features. Elrond could feel her probing mind, cool and mildly disapproving of his mixed heritage, at least the mortal part of it, and clamped down his mental shields with brutal force. Never had he felt this naked and vulnerable before, but he knew he could shut her out. The blood of Melian in his veins protected him against her unwelcomed intrusion, just as the Girdle had once protected Doriath from any peril.

“I would thank you, Lady Artanis, if you could leave me the privacy of my thoughts,” he said icily. Artanis’ eyes darkened from dark grey to almost black.

“Are you afraid that I might find out who has bound those lover’s knots into your hair?” she asked sweetly.

Gil-galad’s eyes turned to Elrond at once, who gave him a clueless look and felt around his braids in surprise – then blushed furiously. “Ai!” he looked back sheepishly at Gil-galad and blushed even deeper. “I asked a friend to re-braid my hair; apparently, he thought it to be a good jest.”

“And I was right, was I,” Gildor laughed, appearing seemingly from nowhere. “You blush so prettily; it is more visible than by any one else I know. It must be a Half-Elven thing(2).”

“Nildorë,” his mother said sternly, “your pranks are dangerously near the edge of good taste.” Gildor rolled his eyes in exasperation.

“Stop calling me by that name, Mother, I beg you!”

“Why; it is your name, after all(3),” Lintári pointed out mercilessly.

“It sounds horrible,” Gildor countered, “and ’tis embarrassing to be called like that.”

“Far less so than what you have done to your friend,” his mother said. “Humor me and try to grow up a little, my son. You are no longer a little elfling of twelve summers. Go now and find Alcarnis(4), would you? She ought to greet our guests, too.”

Gildor, glad to have received naught but a mild scolding for his silly prank, hurriedly disappeared in the crowd, and Celeborn took Elrond’s arm with the natural warmth of family. “Walk with me for a while, young one,” he said. “I wish to talk with you some more. Surely you know a spot in this palace where we would be undisturbed?”

Elrond went with him obediently, grateful for having been freed from such an embarrassing situation, and Gil-galad, too, was called away to welcome other newly arrived guests. The Sea Festival was an event that lasted a full six days, so coming and going was a natural thing. Still, the host (or his foster son) had his duties.

“Go with the King, melme,” Lintári smiled at her husband. “Artanis and I shall have a little talk among women. You would doubtlessly find it very boring, so you are excused.”

Inglor hurried after the High King in relief, and Lintari led Artanis out to one of the large balconies of the Feasting Hall where they could sit comfortably.

“Would you like something to eat?,” the Vanyarin lady asked. “Your mother being a Telerin Elf sea-food should be acceptable, but I can ask for something else if you wish.”

“Nay, thank you,” Artanis wriggled on the stuffed sofa, trying to find a position that would be vaguely comfortable. “Eating has become rather a burden fro me since I am with child. Was it so with you as well?”

“Not with my son, it was not,” Lintári said, “but I was sick all the time with Alcarnis. Every child is different, it seems. When are you due to give birth?”

“I have two more moons to endure,” Artanis sighed. “I feel as big as the biggest ship of Círdan. Valar, I hate being with child.”

“’Tis not always pleasant,” Lintári agreed, “but bringing forth a new life is worth the discomfort. I hope your daughter will feel the same way when her time comes.”

“How can you know ’tis a girl?” Artanis asked in surprise. “I was told that only the mother…”

“In most cases ’tis true,” Lintári nodded, “but I was not given my name without a reason. A few of our family have this gift for the Music of the Ainur in our hearts that make us able to hear the tone in the hearts of others. A female child, even unborn, has a different tone than a male one. Besides,” she added with a smile, “I am also a practiced healer. We know how to read the outer signs in order to define the gender of an unborn.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Farther away, in an enclosed part of Círdan’s garden, Elrond and the Lord Celeborn were discussing the art of healing as well.

“So you chose to become a healer,” the Lord of the Trees said thoughtfully. “After the horrors you had to witness, ’tis not surprising at all. But who was your tutor in the art of healing? Your foster father surely not – he was not one of those who healed… on the contrary.”

“Fíriel has been my first teacher,” Elrond answered, ignoring the hit aimed at Maglor with an ease born of long practice. “She used to be a healer ere I was even born. Then the Lady Lintári became my tutor. She says I have an in-born gift for healing, one that cannot be achieved by learning and practice alone. So, it would be a waste not to put it to the best possible use.”

“You have been thoroughly taught in ancient lore as well, I deem,” Celeborn said. “Whatever I might think of the sons of Fëanor personally, Maglor was a great minstrel, second to Daeron only. Mayhap ’tis their fate to go mad after a while. But he is said to have been good with languages as well.”

“He spoke many,” Elrond nodded, “and he taught us all of them. He also insisted that we learned how to wield any weapons that he could lay hand upon, therefore I am a trained warrior as well. But it never gave me any pleasure. A healer and a lore master – that is what I wish to become. My brother is – was – the true warrior.”

“Your brother had forgotten who he truly was,” Celeborn answered quietly. “I was told by survivors that he thought himself as a part of Fëanor’s House – that poor, mislead child(5)! Small wonder that he chose mortality after his family of choice had perished. Being a King of Men gave him a place to belong, a true purpose – all things that he had painfully lacked before.”

“No more than I do,” Elrond sighed. “For what am I truly, my lord? I am no Man, yet I am not truly an Elf, either. I have no true place on Earth.”

“You are unique and precious, to all of us,” Celeborn replied solemnly. “You alone unite all the Three Kindred of Elves in your blood and bind them to both the Maiar and mortal Men. At this very moment you are the last of your kind – but it must not remain so. Sooner or later, you will have to pass over the heritage of Melian to the next generation. ’Tis your responsibility that her gifts to Middle-earth remain here.”

“I think not that I am the right one to found a family,” Elrond shook his head doubtfully. Celeborn smiled.

“You are certainly not – not now, at least. But your time shall come. And should you ever wish to leave the court, you always will be welcome in my home. You are family, never forget that.”

“I seriously doubt that the Lady Artanis would be delighted to have me nearby all the time,” said Elrond. Celeborn shrugged.

“My Lady is a generous person – even if she finds it hard to warm up to new people. I fear she found not what she had come back to Middle-earth for: great kingdoms to rule as her own. This makes her a little bitter, ’tis true. But she chose me, and she knew perfectly well that that also meant choosing my family, too. A family you are part of by birthright.”

“Still, I think not that my presence would make her any happier,” Elrond said. Celeborn looked at him sharply; then he burst out in a deep laughter.

“And I think not that dwelling under trees would make you any happier than it makes her,” he said, highly amused, “even though you are the grandson of Nimloth. The two of you have more common than you might think.”

“Mayhap what Glorfindel calls ’the typical haughtiness of the Finweans’?” Elrond asked with a slight smile.

“I cannot say,” replied Celeborn thoughtfully, “as I never met the High King of the Noldor – the first one, I mean. But one thing seems sure: his blood runs deep in all of you, indeed.”

~~~

End notes:

(1) Gildor’s mother was called Aratari earlier. I re-christened her because I was not entirely happy with the sound of that name. Lintári means “musical queen” in Quenya. Both names were given to my by the most generous Artanis – our fellow writer, not the character, of course.

(2) Forgive me, Nemis! I simply could not resist. Anyone who doesn’t understand the hint, should go and read “The High Princes of Tírion” by Nemis.

(3) True; actually, it is the Quenya form of Lindor. Thanks, Finch!

(4) Quenya name of Gildor’s sister, Aglareth. Means Glory-woman. Courtesy of Finch. What would I do without all my scholarly fellow Silmfic authors?

(5) Something I have borrowed from Deborah’s wonderful story, "As Little Might Be Thought". By the way, Fíriel comes from that story, too.


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