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5
A Child, Again

At different times Indis, Findis, and Galadriel had each visited Irmo’s gardens in Lórien, but it had been many years since Findis had last traveled that way, and several ages since either her mother or her niece had been so far west. They happily rediscovered the wonderful beauty of inner Aman.

However, by unspoken agreement they avoided magnificent Valmar. Although they were not rushing to arrive at their destination, Findis and Galadriel both understood the urgency Indis felt. The diversion offered by the many friends and kin who dwelled in Valmar would have meant a substantial delay. And I don’t wish to explain myself to anyone other than my family right now, Indis mused.

For two weeks Indis, Galadriel, and Findis followed the winding path to Lorien; it was their habit to make frequent stops as they rode westward.

One day, after dismounting to sit under the gorgeously flowering branches of a copse of cherry trees, Indis asked her granddaughter something that had been in the back of her mind since the day that Arafinwë told her of Galadriel’s return. “My dear, will you tell us about your husband? What sort of person is he?”

Galadriel smiled. “Grandmother, do you mean to ask why he did not make the journey to Aman with me?”

Indis smiled in turn, arching a brow, “I did not ask you that.” Her smile widened to a grin, “but now that you mention it, I admit that I am curious as to why you chose to come alone.”

Findis interrupted, “but if that is something you would rather not discuss, we would be happy enough to know anything you care to tell us about him.”

Galadriel chuckled, “I am more than willing to tell you anything you wish to know about Celeborn, including his reasons for remaining in the East for the time being. It is no secret, and nothing that pains me, although of course I do miss him. But surely Celebrian has described him to you before now?”

“She has,” Indis replied, “but a daughter’s description of her father does not always correspond to a wife’s description of her husband, even though they have the same person in mind.”

“Yes,” Findis continued, “and I must confess that I always wondered what sort of elf could capture your heart, Galadriel. You were always so strong-willed and …”

“Stubborn?” Galadriel offered with a rueful smile. “And I think to that you must also add ‘self-righteous,’ for I certainly was so before I left Aman.”

“No more so than any young elf,” said Indis.

“And self-righteousness was a common trait in our family,” Findis assured her niece. “In fact, I can think of several people who outdid you by far on that count.”

“Yes…” Galadriel admitted, the left corner of her mouth turned up in a wry grimace. “But I am still chiding myself about the way I behaved toward Fëanáro. We delighted in mocking him behind his back, Angrod, Aegnor and I. As was typical, Findaráto was less severe in his judgment than we were. I was so certain that I saw my uncle for what he truly was – hateful, dangerous, selfish. I thought we were justified in our loathing, for Father’s sake, and Uncle Nolofin’s, and yours, Grandmother. Yet, had I been more discerning I would have seen that neither Father nor Uncle Nolofin despised their brother the way I did, even though they had far more reason to hate him. I was too entrenched in my own perspective to recognize that my attitude was borne of blind self-righteousness, the very thing I condemned in Fëanáro.”

“Ah, Galadriel,” said Findis, “you were not alone in your condemnation of Fëanáro. Your Aunt Lalwen was the first to stand in implacable opposition to him, despite the fact that, for most of her childhood at least, Fëanáro barely even noticed her existence. As she got older, Lalwendë’s fierce loyalty to Nolofinwë led her to instigate hostilities with Fëanáro, much to my dismay. She did not hesitate to insult him to his face. It comes as little surprise to me that you children had a tainted view of Fëanáro, for there was little love lost between him and my other siblings.”

“And,” Indis interjected, “our family never openly discussed Fëanáro’s resentment. Until the very end Finwë and I continued to hope that Fëanáro would eventually become reconciled with the rest of the family. We failed to consider how it appeared to you children.”

Galadriel’s round laughter rang clearly through the trees. “For more than an age I ruled over the Elves of Lothlòrien as their Queen, and before that I led smaller groups, waged war, and consulted with the rulers of Elves, Dwarves, and Men. But here I am considered one of “the children!”

“Galadriel, we meant no offense!” Findis protested.

“And none is taken, dearest Aunt!” Galadriel replied. “You cannot know what a delightful change it is to find myself learning new things about something I’d long ago thought that I understood completely! It is humbling, and I will continue to examine the faults within me that made me prone to such error.”

“Do not take too much upon yourself, Galadriel,” Indis warned. “You could not have easily discerned the truth behind Fëanáro’s ill will and bad deeds, since, during the time that he was with us, none but your grandfather knew the whole story. You were not alone in wondering why Finwë consistently took Fëanáro’s side whenever a dispute arose, and showed him such blatant favor. I’m afraid that Nolofinwë and Arafinwë took their father’s preference for Fëanáro as evidence of their own shortcomings.

"But to those who loved them – Lalwendë, both of you, and of course me – Finwë’s favoring of Fëanáro over Nolofin and Arafin was evidence of Fëanáro’s unreasonable selfishness about his father’s love. We thought that Fëanáro demanded all of Finwë’s attention and regard. I have since come to believe that Finwë acted out of guilt, trying to compensate for his terrible betrayal of Míriel and their son. Since none but Finwë knew of that betrayal, I think that even Fëanáro himself was at times confused by his father’s unconditional support for everything that he did. Everyone has always assumed that Míriel’s abandonment doomed Fëanáro to grow into the jealous, selfish person that he was, but I think that Finwë’s failure to provide any corrective guidance to Fëanáro also had an unhealthy effect.”

“Yes,” Findis agreed. “You never hesitated to correct our misbehavior, or to show us how we could be kinder, or more generous, or more thoughtful of other people. And Father, too, would reprimand me, or Nolofin, Lalwen, or Arafin on occasion. He was always gentle with his criticism, and he always showed us how we could do better the next time. But I never saw him criticize Fëanáro.”

“And I didn’t dare,” Indis admitted. “So you see, Galadriel, you couldn’t possibly have known the antecedents of Fëanáro’s behavior towards his brothers. And for all that I’m willing to admit that his circumstances were not easy, I do not excuse his behavior.”

“I see that you are right,” Galadriel replied slowly. “Yet I still think there are lessons for me in this.”

“There are lessons for all of us in this,” said Indis. “And that is why I am making this journey. I must tell you both, again, how grateful I have been to have your company. ... And now, Galadriel, perhaps you can tell us about this husband of yours?”

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