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Guardian of the Golden Wood
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Chapter 9 - Galadriel's Mirror

Only a small iron-wrought lantern lightened Galadriel's favourite place be the well and her mirror. Celeborn hesitated. The discussion with Mithrandir had been highly instructive, so to say. When they had finally parted, he had been obliged to see his daughter Celebrian to her rooms and sit with her for a while, until the shaken elleth had found some measure of peace, drifting into an uneasy sleep, that was more mental exhaustion then bodily weariness. He closed his eyes for an instant, recollecting Celebrian's pale face: Seeing a perfectly healthy elleth sleep with eyes closed had unsettled the battle-hardened warrior prince of Doriath more then all the slaughters and blood-shed he had witnessed over the ages of his long life. And now he found his beloved, lonely in her gardens and crumpled into a miserable heap of white garment and golden hair. The occasional little, muffled sobs and the slight throbbing of her shoulders showed the extent of her grief. Celeborn felt a tight knot in his stomach and a pain like an arrow piercing his heart. Softly he thread with his suede boots on the little path that led down to the well, intending not to startle his golden-haired maiden. If not the silver light of the stars over the waste forest of Laurelindórean could assuage her sufferings in this night, perhaps he could. Celeborn glad onto the bench and laid a gently arm protectively around her shoulders. Then he pulled her carefully into his lap, resting her against his chest and covering her with a cloak of warmth from his body. Her head against his heart, he willed her to listen to its strong, regular beating. The Willow and the Oak! Thus had Mélian the Maiar named them, when he had courted proud, strong willed, ambitious Artanis of the Noldorin in Doriath of old.

Many then thought the clumsy efforts of Celeborn, who was considered honourable, brave and rather dull a matter of laughter, for the fairest flower of the House of Finarfin of whom the Eldar said, that the light of the Two Trees, Telperion and Laurelin had been snared in her.

His uncle Greymantel had even straightforward discouraged that younger Celeborn, whose renown lay chiefly in prowess with sword and bow and an overdeveloped sense for duty, calling him a fool to try and reach for the one of whom legend told that her being had first given Feanor the idea to imprison the lights of the Two Trees in the Silmarils.

Only Mélian had encouraged him: 'The Willow and the Oak', she had said, 'for thou shallst be the strong tree, roots solidly anchored in the earth of these lands that will hold her spirit and body, when those great gifts she has received from the Valar will overcome and bend the Willow to its breaking point!' And thus it was and always has been and would be till the end of days. Against all odds he had won and claimed the fair flower of Fingolfin's House to be his and ever since he had been Oak to the Willow. He cooed soft words of love into her ear, stroking her silky hair with one strong, steady hand until the tiny little sobs died down and the slight trembling ceased. And he continued until he felt her slender body relax and mould against his, her arms clung around his waist and it seemed to him that she held on for dear life.

T'was not the disclosures of Mithrandir alone that had brought her to this state. Of this Celeborn was sure, for he had heard the words of the grey wizard, too and taken in the full extend of this doom lurching over them. 'Will you tell me what you have seen in the Mirror, Alatá(1)?' He asked her gently.

Galadriel's hold of his waist tightened and she dug her face even deeper into the soft folds of his tunic.

'Thou knowest, Beloved, that this burden can not be carried by on alone, even if the one is strong and hardy Artanis, that has braved the icy hell of Hillarie unflinching and the sundering of Beleriand without a tear in her eyes. How many dooms have we shared, my Nerwen and how many dangers have we braved together. Let us share this new doom, for I had word with that grey-bearded imp Mithrandir and feel, that the awakening of a shadow to which you already stood up with courage in ages past would dismay you so much.'

Galadriel brushed her tears clumsily away and sniffled one last sob into the comforting warmth of her lord's tunic. Then she allowed his strong hand to lift her chin and look into her eyes. No words he said, for words were not needed, since she could read in the deep blue that sparkled in the lonely lantern light a strength and determination that not even the wrath of the assembled host of the Valar could possibly shake. She pressed her cheek deep into his strong hand, calloused by sword and bowstring and unnumbered toils of three ages. 'Silver Tree!' Galadriel murmured softly and drew the strength she would need from his steady gaze. And then she told him of the flaming eye that she had perceived in her mirror. An eye so terrible and wilful, that she shuddered unwillingly in his arms, while she described it for her lord. And she told him of a dark, ethereal presence -bodiless still, but growing in strength with every moment that passed- that put al his force and wilfulness into one single aim and this aim was to dominate all of Middle-earth as he had done so before his defeat by Isildur's valiant stroke on the slopes of Mount Doom. She spoke to him of a carved-out hill full of dark and horrible caverns, where the shadow had already set upon breeding creatures of the night that bowed to him in deference and fear, willing to spread terror over all known lands at a wink of his flaming-red eye. And she spoke of a great and frightful battle, such as had not been seen since Gil-Galad had led his forces against Mordor more then a thousand years ago and of the Galadhrim, all clad in armour running against a force unnumbered of dark, ugly creatures which outmatched them greatly. She told him of the terrible price of blood and of the lives lost and of their bravery and sacrifice and she told him of a lifeless body, buried under a heap of slain foes, his curved blade still in his hand and of a grieving dark-haired elleth heavy with child boarding a grey ship of Cirdan in the Heaven of Mithlond and leaving their lands forever for the shores of Valìnor.

'I fear,' she sobbed, 'I have send him to his doom, Silver Tree and with Haldir unnumbered others of our people will go to the Halls of Mandos.' Galadriel let the tears run freely down her fair face, looking at Celeborn with such uttermost grief in her eyes, that he thought his heart must break. But he could not allow himself to give in to his weakness and weep with her, for she needed him strong and confident. He willed his whole being into the icy cold of the warrior facing a deadly foe. He gathered her close to his chest and softly he spoke to his love.

'Many things are revealed in thy mirror, golden one that wanders these lands crowned with a garland of stars - the past, the present and things that may yet come to be. But that which is seen, even the Wise can not always tell and when it shall come, if it comes none can say, but Iluvatar alone, for only he has knowledge of the wheels of time and the webs of destiny. Thou who lovest him dearly as a mother knowest as the Lady of these lands that whoever chooses to live by the sword, takes the risk to die by the sword. Such you have known, when you wedded to me three ages ago and it never weakened your heart and such he knew, when he bend his knee to me and received his sword and such she knows, who has given him her heart. T'is a risk, whenever men-at-arms are marshalled for strife that many of those who leave will not return to those they left behind. In this we are equals with our second-born kindred and with the Naugrim and even with the vile spawn of Belegurth(2)....Do not let your vision disturb you, Beloved, for even if this is Haldir's doom to fall in battle, it will not make him vie from his path to serve his oath and protect these lands. And even if you tell him straight to his face what you have seen in the waters, he will still go and do, what he thinks is right.'

Galadriel made an effort to compose herself, straightening in his embrace and sitting up to face him.' Wise is Celeborn, the Silver Tree of Laurelindórean, even if his wisdom is cloaked under the harsh words of Celeborn the warrior-prince of Doriath. Although Galadriel's heart is heavy with sorrow and gloom, the Lady of the Golden Wood will take the Lord's council and let things be, but ever hence Galadriel will be weary, when the Lady and the Lord send forth their Guardian to defend their realm.'


(1) Quenya : Radiance
(2) Sindarin : Great Death ; another name for Melkor/Morgoth


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