Celeborn

by Evermind
I'm not quite sure what to call these. The best word would probably be drabbles, although they could be anything between 50 words and 500 for all that I know.

I wanted to write some Celeborn stuff, mainly because he's so neglected, and he also happens to be one of my favourite characters to write. I chose periods of their history which weren't common knowledge at the time of the WotR, perhaps to emphasise how much more there is to his character than we ever see.

If you have not read the Sil you may be slightly confused at times, but hopefully it will encourage you to read it!  There is much debate about the exact history of Celeborn and Galadriel, and so I have picked and chosen details from the various accounts as suits me. The most notable of these is that here, Amroth is again Celeborn and Galadriel's son, and Celeborn himself is a Grey Elf of Thingol's kindred.  - E.

The First Dawn
The Children of Finarfin
The Two Greatest Craftsmen
The Rape of Doriath
Of Eregion, the Dwarves and Annatar
The Last Ship

The First Dawn

The young elf peeps from the shadowed canopy. He balances with perfect ease, the slender bough a pale shape in the darkness. One slim brown hand rests lightly upon the trunk of the tree, and he feels its heartbeat quicken, stiring the sap to life so that the leaves rustle in the keen wind. High above, the cold stars glimmer, illuminating nothing but his bright eyes. Not even the wild creatures will know him, masked as he is by the shivering hemlock leaves. Not that he knows them as hemlock. The grey elves have their own names for things.

He is a creature of the twilight. He was born here, long ago by the reckoning of beast and bird, though to himself it is but a fleeting time. The dark wood, the Avari called it then. He has never seen the light, though he has heard the rumours. He was not yet born when the eldest of his race left seeking the light in the West across the sea, and he does not remember. Once, he thought he saw Orome, riding upon his high white horse Nahar, so bright that the orcs and evil things crept away into the darkness and were afraid.

Slowly, far off in the East a strange light grows and Celeborn watches warily, wondering. The light grows stronger, piercingly bright it seems to him, and the elf shields his eyes before the glare. The eastern sky lightens now, and he stands as if stricken, torn between curiostiy and terror. With a blush of pink and gold,a great shining orb breaks free of the horizon and the clouds all around are kindled to crimson flame. The world before him is a sudden blaze of unimagined colours, myriad and wonderful, for which he has no names. The fields and plains are bright and warm and overwhelmingly alive; the great river sparkles deep and clear, reflecting a sky suddenly ablaze with light. All about him, a host of birds break into song. He gasps, and shrinks back against the trunk of the tree, hiding his face in awe from the terror and beauty of the first dawn. Far below him upon the earth, the secondborn children of Illuvatar are awakening.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Children of Finarfin.

He sits at the high table with Thingol and Melian as befitting a close kinsman. Daeron the minstrel sits beside him, but there is no speech. The silence is tense with expectancy. Watching, he sees the flicker of it in Thingol's grey eyes. The King sits erect at the head of the table, his silver hair, like Celeborn's own, is crowned with leaves. Beside him Melian sits, and she alone of all the assembled company is serene, gentle and graceful as Arien herself. Beside Celeborn, Daeron's slender fingers play nervously about the strings of his silver harp.

There is a short fanfare of trumpets, and the strangers are led into the carven hall. The one in the lead is tall and proud, with blue eyes and hair of brilliant gold. He is clad all in blue, and he bears a blue banner wrought in gold with the tokens of a swan and two trees. He bows low to the assembled host, and then to Thingol and Melian, he speaks.

“Hail, Lord of Menegroth, and kinsman as I hope to call thee hereafter. Finrod I am named, eldest son of Finarfin, Finwe's son, and of Earwen, daughter of thy own brother Olwe of Aqualonde. From far out of the West we have journeyed, to avenge the evils done to us by Morgoth the accursed. Accept this gift, Lord of the thousand caves in token of our kinship, and I hope that hereafter I may name thee friend as well!”

He bows again, presenting Thingol with a coronet studded with many jewels, and the elves assembled gasp in wonder. Then his brothers step forwards; Orodreth the second son, grave and courteous and bold; Angrod the minstrel, secretive and soft-spoken, with a little half-smile; Aegnor his twin, proud and fiery, swift in word and deed.

And then Finrod leads forward his sister Altariel. Strong and golden and beautiful, her eyes hard and fell. Tall and slender, clad in blue like her brothers, her head held high, and her long hair shimmering with some inner light, as though the mingled lights of Arien and Tilion themselves was caught meshed within the golden strands.

She bows low before them, and as she straightens he sees the pride and anger in her grey eyes. He is lost.

In his heart, Celeborn has already named her anew. Galadriel, Lady of Light.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Two Greatest Craftsmen

Only once, he remembers seeing Feanor. In a dream of torment when he awoke with sweat beading his brow and fear in his eyes on the night that the first Noldor leapt bloody-handed to the quays of Losgar, and offered up in spite of the Valar that first terrible burning. He remembers watching as the flames billowed and rose up, high, higher, the tenrils licking about the mastheads. He remembers the white swan ships, their wings half unfurled, as if torn down in the very act of rising from the burning pyre. Carven feathers black and charred with smoke, and the great glass eyes staring sinister from behind wisping shrouds of flame.

He remembers how the white sails caught and flamed like swift torches in the darkness. He remembers the face of Feanor, and though it was only a dream, he knows him. That face could belong to no other, not in ten thousand lives of men. King, warrior, loremaster, craftsman, minstrel. Traitor and rebel and god to those who cluster about the burning fleet and cry his name in ecstacy and fire: Feanor! Feanor!

He still sees sometimes the pride, the beauty in those high cheekbones, the dark brows drawn low with wrath, the moon-silver skin flawless over strong-chiselled features, gaunt and fierce, and noble. The red lips parted in a wild, exultant cry, the white teeth bared in a scream of vengeance. He remembers Feanor's face, blood-red, illuminated by the flame of the burning ships. And even in that ghastly corpse light, Feanor is beautiful, perfect in all parts of his making. He stands like their king, with a red banner, and a great sword raised upon high, and his black hair flows in the wind which swirls about him chips and sparks of glowing ash. Then Feanor's gaze falls upon him, and the strength and terror of those eyes will never leave him after. Feanor's eyes are grey, almost black, and they burn with some strange inner fire, entirely separate from the chaos that surrounds him. There is a power in those eyes, a vengeful flame of lust and despair.

Years later, he meets a young craftsman in Nargothrond who names himself Celebrimbor, son of Curufin, Feanor's son. Fair and strong, the greatest jewel-smith of his time, and his rival for the hand of Altariel. Celeborn looks at him, and sees in his eyes that same flame. Celebrimbor speaks of his desire, to make things more beautiful and powerful than any in middle earth. Celeborn hears the craftsman's words, sees the dark fire in his eyes, and is afraid.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Rape of Doriath

The hall is plunged into darkness. Flames from spilt candles spring up, lining the walls with fire. The flames make the darkness heavier, even his eyes blind in this sudden eclipse. He hears screams and cries ahead, the sound of running feet, and the unmistakeable clash of steel. His own sword sings through the air. The flames catch at the tapestries lining the walls and blaze upward, and by the red light of the burning webs he can see the glint of blood slicking the tiles, dyeing the intertwining shapes upon the floor with black.

He leaps through the gaping doorway, and the clash of steel is loud in his ears. He springs backwards to avoid the sweep of a gleaming axe, dances sideways, and cleaves it's bearer in twain. Behind him, out of the darkness, a sudden light blazes, and Dior is there. Dior, Thingol's heir, with the Nauglamir bearing the Silmaril about his neck, the light of it so brilliant that he cannot bear to look at it.

Then they are through that hall, and by the light of the Silmaril, he sees the body on the stairs. A blade sings out of the darkness behind, and Celeborn stumbles, racing for the body. Nimloth stares with unseeing eyes up at the carven ceiling, her silver locks spilling outwards, and blood blossoming over the front of her white gown.

“Nimroth!” And Celeborn can't tell if it is he or Dior who screams her name, but a red mist falls before his eyes, and he lashes out wildly, blind to anything but the song of his shimmering blade, as it cries out for slaughter. The Silmaril blazes in the darkened hall, and the Feanorians are drawn to it like moths to a flame. He hews them as they come, and cares not as they fall before his feet and he leaps over them. Tears are blinding him. He cries aloud as he sees cruel Caranthir racing towards them, his wicked blade screaming in its lust for Dior's blood. The brothers are beside him, howling with the despair and desire of their oath. Celegorm's accursed blood sprays up as Dior hews him down, and the warm droplets rain down upon them, veiling the Silmaril on Dior's breast so that the light of it burns red.

Celeborn springs backwards, away from the sweep of af Maedhros' sword, weilded with his left hand. Then he watches, as with another's eyes, as Caranthir's blade hits Dior in the gut. The Prince of Doriath buckles, and his shoulders heave and wrench in his agony. Screaming as he falls, Dior crashes to the earth, and lies face-forward on the broken tiles, with the Silmaril buried in the dust beneath him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Of Eregion, the Dwarves, and Annatar

“I will not.”

“For what cause, my lord?” and as she says it, her voice is ice.

“I will accept nothing, nothing, from the Naugrim! Hast thou yet forgotten the murder of Thingol, and the theft of the Nauglamir? I have not! And I tell thee now that I will never meet one of the stunted folk with friendship, not though Morgoth himself should return!”

They glare at each other, and their eyes flash with fire.

“What then?” she says at last, “Wouldst thou have us wait in this trap, and fight to guard the ruins of Celebrimbor's treasure house until thy children are slain? And the only gift that Annatar ever brought to any was a swift death!”

“I cannot!” he cries aloud, and then they stand in silence with chests heaving, their eyes stinging with tears.

“Why?” she whispers, and her eyes plead with him. She looks so tiny, so vulnerable, and a great fear rises up inside of him that what she speaks of will indeed come to pass.

“I cannot.” he tells her again, and his heart is breaking. “Couldst thou return to humble thyself before the Valar, craving pardon for wrongs which were never thine?” And even as he asks, he looks at her and knows that it is no question at all, for he knows her too well for that. She is too proud, too valiant, too stubborn for that.

“Nay.” she answers, and she sighs. “There are some grievances which run too bitter for atonement.Who can understand that better than I?”

He steps towards her, and taking her hand, he kisses it. Her fingers are slender and white, strange and unadorned now, without the silver ring.

“Go now,” he whispers, his voice rough with unshed tears. “Take Amroth and Celebrian, and go to Narvi. And may he guide thee well.”

“He will.” she whispers back, and a tear slips down her cheek like a bead of glass to rest against the corner of her mouth. “Seek for us in Greenwood the Great.”

Gently, he leans forward and kisses the tear from the corner of her mouth. Her eyes stare into him, and he has to turn his face away from what he sees written there. He kisses her, and his rough warrior's hands sift through her silken hair. Her arms about his neck, the smooth curve of her shoulder against his collarbone. Her little hands in his hair, and her slender body pressed against his own, her lips soft and sweet, and salty with the taste of their tears.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Last Ship

He stands upon the quay, his eyes fixed upon that far-off horizon. The swan-ship bobs gently at her moorings, her golden beak turned eagerly towards the light. A tiny step, that is all. But still, he hesitates. What will he find, behind that veil of rain?

The sun sinks lower behind the bank of pink-tinged cloud, and still he hesitates, lost upon the shores of the impassable sea. He feels, stronger than he has ever felt it before, the life blood of the earth pulsing beneath his feet. He feels everything. Every blade of grass, every drop of rain. He feels the pain of every living thing on this Middle Earth. The slow torture of overburdened stone. Trees bleeding beneath the savage axe, sweet, astringent sap falling heavy to the earth The swans, singing as they die.

How can he leave this? This is the world to him, all that he has ever known. And for all her faults, he loves this Middle Earth. He loves the wildness of it, the high, untamed places, the tangled trees in the darkest reaches of forests where, even now, no foot has ever trod. This land is mother and father both to him, and child as well. He thinks of Lorien, his land, his own, grown strong by his nurturing.

All has failed. It is over. There is no place left in this world for any but men, and he grieves, remembering the bright Noldor of the Eldar days, their oaths and valour crumbled into dust. Now, only the dark elves are left, secret and silent, retreating back into the darkness from whence they came.

The memories of a life age swirl through him. Days before the sun arose in splendour, before the High Elves came from over the sea, before Gondolin or Nargothrond was raised and fell, before blood stained the jeweled caves of Menegroth forver. He remembers Eregion, when it was the fairest of all the lands in Arda. He remembers tears unnumbered, and elves piled upon the hill of the slain. He remembers Amroth his son, with golden hair stirred by the endless wave which covers the jewels of Calacirya forever. He thinks of Lorien, her golden leaves fallen now , her light extinguished. The last, dying mallorn standing naked in the rain.

He thinks of Galadriel, and of Celebrian awaiting him. He steps from the quayside onto the white stern of the ship, and now he cannot look at the silver veil of glass, glistening upon the far horizon.