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6
Butterflies

Re-mounted and moving westward again, Galadriel tried to satisfy her grandmother and aunt’s curiosity about Celeborn. “My husband, as you know, is a close kin of Thingol of Doriath, and it is there that I first met him. He is … he … it’s strange that I cannot think where to begin in describing him, because I know him better than any other, and no one else knows me as well as he.

“Is he especially beautiful?” asked Findis.

“He is, but not in the way of the Noldor or Vanyar, nor even the Teleri, Aunt. He is strong and handsome, and proud too, but he does not seek others’ notice. Which is not to say that he doesn’t care about others’ opinions, but just that he is uninterested in impressing others merely for the sake of it. In that he is typically Sindarian. As is also characteristic of his people, Celeborn is an excellent hunter and woodsman, a very skilled archer, and a fearless fighter – superb with a sword. He eschews displays of wealth, and typically wears only the jeweled ring that I gave him long ago -- in fact, I think he only wears that because I gave it to him. Indeed, when Findaráto dwelled in Nargothrond I went frequently between his home and Doriath, and Celeborn sometimes accompanied me – the difference between Findaráto’s splendor and Celeborn’s simplicity was striking.

“I shall never forget that, when it was clear that we had formed an attachment, Findaráto once commented off-handedly to Celeborn that he might do well to befriend the dwarves of Nogrod if he intended to court a lady of the Noldor. My brother’s jest was not intended unkindly, but I found myself embarrassed all the same, until Celeborn replied, “Your sister is more than able to procure for herself as many jewels as any Noldor might wish to have. If she seeks a husband who would provide her with a steady stream of shiny baubles, perhaps she should look to Nogrod herself!”

Findis and Indis burst into laughter. “He could hold his own with you and with Findaráto, with wit and humor!” Findis cried. “Clearly he is a wise and worthy elf.”

“I must agree with you, Aunt,” Galadriel replied with a smile, “although of course Celeborn and I did not always agree between ourselves. We each know our own minds, and did not hesitate to speak when our views diverged. Celeborn is usually even-tempered and circumspect, but I’m afraid that at times I have managed to provoke him into anger. We have even shouted at each other a few times. Not many, but a few.”

“Really?” asked Indis, surprised. “And does it not trouble you that there is sometimes such strife between you and your husband?”

“… Why, no, Grandmother,” Galadriel replied with a puzzled expression. “It would not be well if we fought frequently, or if we were unable to resolve our disputes, but I don’t think there exists an elf who would agree with me all of the time, unless he had completely abdicated his own thought and will to me and mine. And that would never do! Sometimes I convince Celeborn that I am in the right, and other times he convinces me that his is the right view.

“As for jewels, over time I found myself preferring more and more my husband’s simplicity. One ring I always wore throughout the last age, but often nothing more than that. Compared to most elves here in Aman, I am now very plain indeed.”

“It suits you, my dear,” Indis observed. “You don’t need jewels to draw attention to yourself. I think that change was for the better! And I think that you misunderstood me just now: of course a husband and wife will not always see things eye to eye, but your description of shouting with your husband alarmed me a bit. Until the day he left Tirion, I had never shouted at Finwë – and never once did he shout at me.”

“Ah, Grandmother, that is because you are a much kinder, gentler person than I am,” Galadriel replied easily. “Who would wish to shout at you? What possible reason would anyone have for doing so? But I am not always so easy to get along with. Aunt, you are not the only one who wondered what sort of elf could be up to the challenge of marrying me! As it turns out, there was at least one person who could match my will and spirit – and that is why I married him!”

Indis smiled at Galadriel. The three horses had been riding abreast, but now they formed a single line as the path dipped into a narrow gully. They were drawing near to Lorien, and once they had emerged on the other side of the gully, they could see the lush border of Irmo’s domain on the horizon. Findis lifted her arm and pointed, “Look, we’re nearly there!”

Galadriel drew up beside Findis, and looked back over her shoulder at Indis. “Now, if I may, I have a question of my own. Aunt, you mentioned that ‘certain events’ made it inevitable that Fëanáro would hate Uncle Nolofin. And, Grandmother, you mentioned that you had made mistakes that hardened Fëanáro’s heart against you. It cannot have just been replacing Míriel’s tapestries in the palace. Will you tell me what happened?”

“Ah.” Indis had drawn up on the other side of Findis, and the two of them exchanged a meaningful look. “I believe I know what your aunt had been referring to, and indeed it was a very unfortunate mistake on my part. I think that Findis can tell it better than I, for she witnessed it all.”

Findis sighed briefly, and then looked up at her niece with a small, sad smile. “My earliest memories of our family are of a loving mother and father, and an intriguing, sometimes confusing older brother, who occasionally made the most wonderful toys for me.

"When I was eight years old, Mother entered her confinement for the birth of our new brother or sister, and the house was ripe with anticipation. When her labor had begun, I was shooed out of her chambers, and Fëanáro joined me on a bench in the outer passageway. Father was within with Mother. I don’t recall how long we sat there, Fëanáro and I, but during that time he made several paper butterflies for me, as he would do every once in a while. I wish I’d been able to learn how he did it, for they were simply wonderful, and counted as my favorite gifts from Fëanáro. He tried to teach me once how to do it, but I couldn’t get the knack of it – he would take four squares of paper, differently colored, and make tears in some, and folds in others, and from them create butterflies with patterned wings. Each butterfly was different, and the best part was, their wings could move, and if thrown correctly they could fly around for a short distance!

“Eventually, the outer door to Mother’s chambers opened, and one of her ladies emerged with a basin, to fetch some more water. Nolofinwë had just come into the world, and Fëanáro and I crept through the open door, and the antechamber, to peek inside the inner room where Mother held the baby in her arms, while Father beamed down at both of them.

Findis shot an apologetic look at her mother, and then explained to Galadriel, “They didn’t know we were there. And we heard Mother say to Father, ‘Now we have a daughter and a son, my lord.’

“I don’t know how Father replied, and I don’t think Fëanáro heard either, for he’d turned and run out of the chambers. I ran after him, as close as I could. He’d already shut the door to his bedchamber when I caught up to him, and I pounded on the door, begging him to let me in. I told him that I didn’t care about the new baby, that I already had a brother. I was crying, and eventually Fëanáro opened the door to let me in, locking it behind him.

“We didn’t speak. I didn’t know what to say to him, and I don’t think he knew what to say to me, either. I was miserable. We stared out the window, and he slowly ripped two of my butterflies into tiny, shredded, bits. Within several minutes, one of Mother’s ladies came looking for us, and knocked on the door. She didn’t address Fëanáro, for I think that by then Mother and her ladies had learned that it was best for them to not speak to Fëanáro directly. But she persisted in knocking and calling to me. ‘Findis, come out! You have a brother!’ she called.

“I didn’t know what to do. In my anger and confusion I’d started to cry again. I shouted at her, ‘I already have a brother! I don’t care about a stupid baby!’

“She left then, and a few minutes later Father was at the door, asking to be let in. At the sound of Father’s voice, Fëanáro looked at me, and motioned for me to remain silent. He then hopped onto the windowsill and climbed out, dropping onto the roof of the veranda below. He leapt to the ground and ran off in the direction of the stables.

“Once Fëanáro had disappeared from view, my mind returned to the sound of Father’s voice. I opened the door, still crying. I told Father what had happened, what we had overheard. He told me that we’d misunderstood, that Mother hadn’t intended to suggest that Fëanáro was not part of the family. I wanted to believe him, and I knew that Mother had not meant to hurt Fëanáro. But I also knew that Fëanáro would never believe that.

“Father dried my tears and I went with him to see Mother and my new baby brother. Father asked me not to mention anything to Mother, until he’d had a chance to speak with Fëanáro.

“Fëanáro didn’t return for three days. When he came back he announced his intention to apprentice to Mahtan. Father was very unhappy that Fëanáro was leaving our house, but he didn’t say no.”

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