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Ripe for Change  by Bodkin

Gathering

Bórdain rested his dark head against the bark behind him.  The trees were different here, he thought.  They had spent too much time in the company of elves more ancient than the moon that gleamed between the leaves.  They were calm and powerful, but – they best way he could put it, he decided, they scarcely remained just trees.  Their awareness had intensified almost the point of alertness and they no longer simply were.  In some ways it was exciting – this beech had observed him, approved him and become his friend in a way that no tree had before – but he found it disconcerting nonetheless.  He would be sorry to leave – in some ways, at least.

He reached back to splay his fingers over the smooth grey trunk consolingly.  It was only distance, he assured the tree, and time.  And time, after all, meant nothing here.  He would return – one day, when the call of these trees sang in his heart louder than the mystery of the unknown forest beyond the mountains.  Closing his eyes to trap the soft gleam of present starlight inside his mind, he recalled in meticulous detail the wonder of the trees at Cuiviénen and the icy purity of the singing waters.  So much seen, he reflected with a pang, so much lost – and yet his spirit was filled with sights and sounds that he would not choose to have missed.  Change, after all, was a necessary part of growth.

A change in the song made him open his eyes.

‘I am sorry,’ Celeborn told him, ‘that it has taken so long.’

‘It takes the time it needs.’  Bórdain observed.

‘I am surprised that you have remained here with us.’  Celeborn hesitated.  ‘Those to whom the deep forest is home rarely feel comfortable among the houses and forges of the Noldor.’

‘It is all part of Eru’s creation.’  Bórdain seemed unsurprised.  ‘And it is the way of life to strive towards the light.  We all do it in different ways.  Why should I begrudge the Noldor their order if it offers them comfort?’  He smiled.  ‘Finwë’s people have always wished for knowledge – just as Ingwë’s have craved understanding.’

‘And what have Elwë’s people sought?’ Celeborn asked.

‘Freedom.’  The response was immediate.  ‘Freedom.  It is why the Teleri love the restlessness of the sea.’  Bórdain smiled slightly.  ‘And the Silvan the secrecy of uncharted forest.  It makes us difficult to deal with at times, for we will not be told.’

‘It has not made the task any easier,’ Celeborn mused.

‘Finwë’s son has agreed, then?’

‘He has.  And he has imposed his will on those who would wish to continue the debate.’

Bórdain smiled.  ‘And all is as it should be.’  He paused.  ‘The Lady will journey west with you?’

‘In time.  Although we will need to remain here for some while yet.’  Celeborn ran a hand over his silver hair.  ‘This exodus will need to be managed even more carefully than the negotiations if we are to make it work smoothly.’

Bórdain gave an absent nod.  ‘She must come,’ he said.  ‘If this is to become what we would hope – our Great Journey does not end until the descendants of our leaders have seen us to our intended home here in the west.’

Stilling, Celeborn fixed his gaze on the elf who had awoken at Cuiviénen.  ‘Elrond, too?’ he asked.  ‘And my daughter and grandsons?’

‘Of course.’  Bórdain seemed unaware that he had said anything remarkable.  ‘And you, my lord.  None should turn aside from the completion of this crossing.’

***

‘What does your adar make of Bórdain?’ Celeborn trailed his fingers in the small pond into which a pleasing splash of water trickled constantly.

Galadriel looked up from her embroidery.  ‘He has said little,’ she said readily enough, ‘but I am not fool enough not to notice that he listens carefully to the few words that Bórdain speaks in his presence.’  She smiled wryly.  ‘And Finrod trusts him – which some might say is meaningless, as Finrod makes friends easily.’

‘Your brother is no fool, my love.’  Celeborn rearranged some of the pebbles. 

‘Why do you ask?’

He shook his head.  ‘Something he said.’  He glanced at her.  ‘At times I get glimpses of something beneath the surface – something deep and still and powerful – and then it disappears, and he is simply an elf, reserved and modest and intrigued by our horses.’

She considered his words. 

Galadriel, he thought with amusement, had mastered control – control and silence and how to listen – and she performed with an aplomb that was enough to make most people think that it came naturally.  He would have liked to have known her when she was young and reckless.  From what her brothers said, it had been an exciting experience and one during which none knew quite where she would lead them next.  By the time she had lived through Alqualondë and endured across the Helcaraxë she had learned that the world was a harsher place than it had seemed to the much-loved daughter of Finarfin and Eärwen.  He thought, in a way, it had been the bruised look in her shadowed eyes that had first rung in his bones and made him want to protect her.  Although it was probably as well that he had never voiced those desires – she would not have appreciated the thought.

‘He is more than he seems,’ she decided.  She smiled wryly.  ‘In which he is not alone, my lord.’

Celeborn raised an eyebrow, but she refused to elaborate.  ‘I had expected Goerfér to linger with us – his curiosity, I would have thought, would have been sufficient to make him enjoy the politics of life here – but he could not wait to brush the dust from his feet and join the first parties heading into the mountains to seek the lands beyond.  And Bórdain remains.  There are times when I wonder if I have learnt anything.’

‘Goerfér, my lord, wished to seek word of his daughter – and he found that he did not like what his son was learning among these indulged sons of the Noldor.  I believe,’ her smile became mischievous, ‘that Losgael gave him an ultimatum – and that he was wise enough to take her seriously.’  She set her needle in the cloth and put her work to one side.  ‘Pelthaes had inherited enough of his adar’s impulsiveness to make his parents concerned and Losgael was sufficiently anxious to send him west that she was prepared to remain here without them until it is time for ellyth to venture forth.’

The long racemes of wisteria bobbed in the gentle breeze as if in agreement as they leaned over the ancient wall behind her.  Galadriel’s stone bench had probably sat in that position since before the War of Wrath, he thought, and had been adorned over the yeni by beautiful and industrious ellyth as they rested to admire this elegantly conceived vista across the broad gardens.  For a moment, he experienced a qualm.  ‘Am I asking too much of you, my heart?  Are you willing to leave this haven for which you yearned so long to follow me into the wild again?’

She dropped her hands into her lap.  ‘You want me to say it plainly?’ she asked.  ‘I made my choice, my lord, and I hold to it.  I will follow you.  I will journey willingly at your side and work with you to build a haven beyond the mountains.’  She smiled wryly.  ‘Mind you,’ she added, ‘I am not saying that I will not return to spend many seasons here with my parents and brothers – or that they will not come west to visit us.  You spent three ages without having to concern yourself with most of my kin – you will not be as fortunate in the future.’

‘I like your family,’ Celeborn said, hiding his grin.  ‘Most of them, at any rate.  I would welcome their desire to learn more of the Galadhrim.’

Galadriel gazed at her husband.  It was hard to believe now that he had been so – so barely there.  This was the elf who had led Lothlórien over a millennium, the leader who had guided Ost-in-Edhil through its darkest days, who had fought Morgoth and stood by Elu’s side.  He was sure in his command, confident in his decisions – yet at the same time gentle in the way only the strong can be and considerate of the needs of others.  ‘When do we go?’ she asked.

‘Not yet,’ he sighed.  ‘There are still tasks that need to be completed here – and someone must remain in charge for some years yet.  But soon.’  He smiled.  ‘Soon enough to look forward to the day with joy.’

***

Elrond leaned his shoulder on the frame of the balcony door and gazed contentedly at the group beneath the immense beech that dominated the lawn.  He had been more worried than he felt able to acknowledge, he admitted to himself, that the drain on their sons was more than they would be able to endure.  He would remain eternally grateful to his daughters-in-law for giving the twins reasons to adjust to life in the Blessed Realm – as well, of course, as for the grandchildren they had provided and because they were simply delightful ellyth.  And, he smiled as he watched Celebrían curl her arms around the bouncing Elrin, because they had restored to both of them the hope of a future with their family here beyond the sea.

‘You cannot wait to go.’  Finrod spoke soberly. 

‘It is not that.’  Elrond turned away from the garden to meet the mild accusation.  ‘I am content here – but the Sinda in me recognises that this is not the right place for all.  My sons need a challenge – Celebrían’s adar needs trees … and work and responsibility.’  He smiled slightly.  ‘And there are thousands upon thousands of the third kindred, by whatever name they choose to go, who seek a home far beyond the reach of these long-settled lands.  It is not only I who would guide this exodus.’  He looked at his wife’s uncle.  ‘You are more than welcome to join us – there are Noldor, too, who chafe at the restrictions of tradition.’

Finrod grinned.  ‘There were few who welcomed our arrival on the shores of Beleriand.  And many – such as Goerfér and his wife – who looked on us as usurpers.’

‘The more reason for you to be among the first to seek freedom in the west.  To come later would be to impose a presence on those already settled.  To explore with us now …  It is why Glorfindel was prepared to take representatives of Finarfin’s people on his first explorations.’  He stepped away from the window.  ‘We would have liked to have Olwë’s Teleri – and Círdan’s Falathrim – among them, too, but they cling to the sea and choose not to be enticed away from its shores.’

‘I think Finarfin is right to hold us back,’ Finrod shrugged.  ‘The New Realms should be a place for the elves of Arda to settle and feel safe.’

Elrond shook his head.  ‘Yet separation of the kindreds is not wise, Finrod.  It reinforces the fears and prejudices each hold – better to learn to live together as elves with a single purpose than to use a mountain range to erect barriers between us.  We need Noldor, Vanyar and Teleri to show these elves of the deep woods that the differences between us are much less important than they would think.’

‘You have a point.’  Finrod acknowledged. 

‘Shall we join them outside?’  Elrond waved towards the door and they turned to walk shoulder to shoulder along the wide shady corridor towards the stairway.  ‘There are those whose minds are set,’ he continued.  ‘Changing their opinions will take more effort than setting up a new haven – I have tried both, Finrod, and I can assure you of that!  But every elf whose heart is opened to understanding is a triumph – every child who grows up accepting all, of whatever kindred, as a friend is a promise to a harmonious future.’  They stepped into the warmth of the golden afternoon.  ‘It is one of the things that I will miss as we dwell here less – I have tried to make my home a place where all can meet and learn together.’

‘You are a worthy heir to all the lines that have gone into making you, Elrond Eärendilion.’  Finrod glanced at him, smiling as a slight flush heightened his nephew-by-marriage’s colour.  ‘And the product of many long years of service and hard experience.  You deserve your own lands to rule where you can strive to bring a better understanding to the people in your care.’

‘You can describe a whale to one who has never seen the sea,’ Elrond shrugged, ‘but he will not understand the reality of your words.  We need to work together on this.  Goerfér learned a lot by working with Finarfin’s advisors – they became individuals to him.  Tarannon – among others – has learned that the elves of Arda are as worthy of respect as those who have never left Aman.  Unless our peoples continue to interact, they will again become strangers.’

Finrod turned over the words.  They were probably right, he decided.  To separate the ever increasing numbers of elves who had lived east of the sea from those who lived in the calmly ordered life of Aman was as likely to reconstruct divisions as it was to deliver peace.  Like it or not, they were many groups of one people – and they would be together until the world was remade.  Someone – many someones – needed to work towards an alliance that was more than a suspension of distrust.

‘This is not a thought that is likely to please Celeborn,’ he remarked.  ‘And it is even less likely to delight Thranduil and his lady.’

‘I am not so sure.’  Elrond’s steps slowed.  ‘They are both anxious to provide a home to those who feel displaced, but they are only too aware that isolation is not beneficial in the long run.’  He smiled wryly.  ‘It is your sister who tried hardest to seal her home away from the outside.’

‘She has always been inclined towards adopting extreme solutions,’ Finrod agreed.  ‘And to clinging on beyond the time when most would cut their losses and concede defeat.’

‘And then turning defeat to success.’  Elrond’s tone was affectionate.  ‘In a way.’

‘I find I do not envy her husband.’

Elrond laughed.  ‘They have long since learned to support each other, Finrod – in both good times and bad.’

‘You would see the Noldor journey among you?’ Finarfin’s son returned to more serious matters.

‘Some, yes.  Young people, preferably, who are prepared to examine honestly another way of living.  Those who have some healing talent are obvious candidates to come to my house and work to find a place among those who will follow me – but there will be others who are suited to a more adventurous life exploring in the far west – who will settle happily among the Galadhrim or the Silvan.  I would not be averse to the establishment of a Noldor realm, either.  Where the Pelori thrusts a spur westward and the rock is mineral rich, probably.  I can see that being a place where many would feel at home.  And I would send young elves of the forest east – to study, to learn to know other customs and peoples.  It will not make for immediate understanding – but it will help.’

‘But we must make haste slowly, I fancy, my friend.’  Finrod concluded.  ‘More seasons of long meetings talking over possibilities – discussing benefits and disadvantages.  Judging how much to move and how swiftly.’  He grinned as Elrond rolled his eyes.  ‘As the High King would remind you, cousin, there is nothing to be gained from precipitate action.’

‘I am no longer surprised it took the whole of the First Age for the Valar’s Host to find its way to Angband,’ Elrond observed.  ‘Only that it reached the shores of Beleriand while there were still elves and men surviving east of the sea.’

Finrod laughed.  ‘We will give the matter consideration,’ he promised, ‘and attempt to come to some conclusion before this age ends.  We might be slow – but we get there in the end.’

***

‘Is Sirithiel happy for us to remove her children?’ Galadriel enquired, showing no desire to return the infant sleeping in her arms.

‘She needs to rest,’ Celebrían responded with a twinkle of mischief.  ‘Elrohir promised he would guard them – but found himself unable to cope with having both of them crying simultaneously.’

Galadriel glanced at her daughter and shook her head.  ‘You cannot relieve him of his daughters at every opportunity.  He needs to learn to deal with them.’

‘You cannot talk!’  Celebrían laughed.  ‘The twins were removed from Elrond’s care whenever you could persuade him to hand them over to you.’  She rocked gently to soothe the elleth in her arms.  Two slate grey eyes looked at her as the baby tried ineffectively to grasp her gleaming silver hair.  ‘They are small for so short a time.’

‘Which is why Elrohir should be encouraged to hold them whenever he can.’

‘He does,’ the babies’ daernaneth protested.  ‘But, between them, these little rascals have kept their parents awake too long – Elrohir wished to attend to his wife and be sure that she was all right.’

‘I shall miss them.’  Galadriel ran her fingers gently through the baby’s tuft of fair hair.  ‘Elrin, too.’

‘Do you have to leave so soon?’

‘It is only a visit.’  Her naneth glanced up.  ‘Thranduil will find it easiest to settle – Laerwen has been living beyond the mountains long enough to have developed a working relationship with the forest and it is just a matter of enlarging her home slowly to maintain the balance.  It is different for you.  Glorfindel has recognised and begun to settle the site where he thinks Elrond and you would like to establish your centre of power, but there is little there yet – and will not be for some time to come.  And your adar and I do not even know where we will be drawn.  Further west, I think, but,’ she returned her eyes to Aewlin’s sleeping face, ‘we will not know until we get there.’

‘Bórdain?’ Celebrían asked. 

Her naneth smiled.  ‘He and your adar seem to share some vision that they cannot even begin to explain – I fancy we will wander until we find this – this dream of perfection that sings in their fëar.’ 

‘Then it is a visit that might last some time.’

‘It might,’ Galadriel admitted.  ‘She reminds me of you, this one.’  She touched a finger to the soft cheek.  ‘She will be difficult, I think, to manage – intelligent and questioning.  Clear sighted.’  She lowered her head to press her lips to the little head.  ‘Although not as difficult as Nimloth,’ she added cheerfully, ‘who seems to me an interesting combination of the qualities of her adar and her uncle.’

Celebrían looked up doubtfully from the baby who was still trying to bury her fingers into her daernaneth’s hair.  ‘I was not difficult as a child,’ she protested.

‘Your sons came by their mischief legitimately.’  Galadriel managed to look down her nose at her daughter.  ‘And not from their paternal line.’

‘I have heard enough stories from my uncles to know the truth of that!’ Celebrían declared. 

‘They were taking advantage of my absence,’ Galadriel said haughtily, ‘to inform you of matters that were none of your business.  I shall have to speak to them.’

‘Too late.’  Celebrían shook her head with mock sadness.  ‘I already know enough to use against you, Naneth.  Including some stories that I am assured never made it to your adar’s ears.’

‘Perhaps it is as well that I am about to head beyond the Pelori.’  Galadriel resumed her watching of the infant in her arms.  ‘Distance has some advantages.’

Her daughter moved closer and rested her free hand on her naneth’s.  ‘I shall miss you,’ she said.  ‘If I learned one thing during my years here before you and Elrond arrived, it is that I am much happier in the presence of my family.’

‘But that you can live without it if you must, my dearest one.’  Galadriel met her eyes.  ‘You are stronger than you know, Celeborniel.’

‘Come back soon to watch your great-grandchildren grow to adulthood, Naneth.’  Celebrían spoke soberly.  ‘It is so few years, after all – and they cannot return.’

***

She enjoyed the markets.  The brightness of the sun lit the awnings and tiny wisps of steam curled as the dampness of the early morning burned off.  The scent of fresh fruit and vegetables was heady – while the noise of the poultry in their small pens was enough to make her want to cover her ears.  And there was so much else to admire – elegantly crafted pottery, pans of gleaming copper, stalls of vivid ribbons, others with bolts of cloth dyed in a range of colours enough to challenge a rainbow, some stalls displaying inexpensive rings and brooches to tempt passing customers and make them inspect the works of art kept carefully behind glass.  Such wealth, she always thought.  Such a careless show that revealed how accustomed these elves were to having what they wanted.  And yet – for every heedless lordling, there must be a dozen – a score – of careful housewives bargaining for the food their family needed.  For every customer at the jewellers’ stalls, there were ten times as many looking wistfully at items they could not afford.

Losgael bought a poke of early cherries and ate one thoughtfully as she stood back and watched.  Did the great lords even notice, she wondered, or were they so used to having what they wanted that they did not even realise that there were those in this wealthy city who were not wealthy at all?  Those who worked the fields in the hot sun and slept, exhausted, through the brightening of the stars to rise before dawn and make their way to market, so that there might be strawberries on the breakfast tables of the mighty?   At one time, she would have been certain of not only their ignorance, but also of their indifference – but an extended acquaintance with the High King’s daughter and granddaughter had broadened her understanding.  The last years had been very – educational.

In fact, had it not been for her son’s tendency to embroil himself in pointless disputes over nothing in particular, she would have enjoyed herself here far more than she had ever expected.  But Pelthaes had thrown himself into the business of learning to gamble and fight, until she had been forced to insist that he would be far better employed in exploring the western lands away from the temptations of city life.  Not that he had been pleased to have his pleasures curtailed – but Goerfér’s letters suggested that he was beginning to come round, and she would far rather endure her son’s sulks than permit him to ruin himself.

‘And it is like this every day,’ Bórdain’s soft voice marvelled in her ear.

She extended her cherries to him and he accepted a pair, smelling them appreciatively before biting into one.  ‘And yet it means more if there are only a few markets each year.  Each one becomes a fair – with music and dancing and people come from far afield to spend a few days together.’

‘And traders share the information they gather as they journey – and bring goods from other parts of the world that seem exotic.  Shells from the shore, strange fruits and seeds, bright fabrics, spices…’  Bórdain’s eyes looked into the past. 

‘Life will be simpler when we move to our new home,’ Losgael decided.

‘Perhaps.’  Bórdain reflected.  ‘But life has never been simple.  Not really.  Not since the very beginning.  It is in our nature to complicate matters.  We change and grow – and want more than enough to eat and the company of kin.’  His gesture encompassed not only the market, but the city beyond.  ‘This is part of our experience now – and we will take it with us.’

‘That may be true,’ Losgael mused, ‘but there are things here I do not wish to make part of my new life.’

‘That, too, is a matter of choice.’

Losgael looked at him sharply.  ‘What will go with you as you travel beyond the mountains?’

He shrugged, unwilling to commit himself to putting what he had learned into words.  Then he smiled slyly.  ‘Bregedur has had a daughter,’ he said.  ‘The Lady says that, if she is willing to be mine, she may go with me.’

‘Horses!’ Losgael shook her head impatiently.  ‘Do not allow yourself to be distracted from what really matters.’ 

Bórdain met her eyes.  ‘And do not you be too direct, Lady Losgael,’ he said.  ‘A winding path reaches the same end – and those who travel it see much along the way that is hidden from those who drive forward in blinkered haste.’  His smile widened.  ‘This end is worth the journey.’

***

Celeborn inspected his paperwork with a jaded eye.  How long had it been since he had been able to ride, not knowing where he would rest his head?  Too long by far.  This stage of the negotiations seemed to have taken longer than the whole of the First Age.  And, if he was not careful, he would be so bogged down in meetings that another age would pass before he was free to seek out the trees that sang to him.

‘Enough, Daeradar!’  The door crashed open with the abandon that only his grandsons would display.

Elrohir removed the quill from his fingers firmly.  ‘Finarfin would imprison you in paper if he felt it would keep his daughter here at his court,’ he announced.  ‘There is no need for you to spend any longer trying to satisfy every tiny niggle that he brings to your attention.  We will do it.’  He grinned and his grandfather held his breath at the sudden vision he had of the twins as they had been during their early adulthood, before pain and guilt and rage had marred their mithril-bright spirits.

‘Well,’ Elladan amended.  ‘Elrohir will do it.  I will act as his mouthpiece.’

‘Take yourselves off!’  Elrohir flapped his hands, almost as if he expected Celeborn to skitter out of sight like a deer shooed away from a field of young grain.  ‘You and Daernaneth and whomsoever else you wish to take.  Load up your packhorses and go – before Andaeradar thinks of any other reasons to delay your departure.’

‘Perhaps when he sees that you will come back, he will reconcile himself to Daernaneth’s absence,’ Elladan added.  ‘It is not as if you will have the Sundering Seas to keep you apart.’

Celeborn leaned back in his chair.  ‘You attribute our slow progress to an adar’s love for his daughter?’ he asked with amusement.

‘You attribute your inability even to find time to goand look to anything more complex?’  Elladan shook his head sadly. 

‘It is one thing to talk about making sure that matters are properly thought through,’ Elrohir agreed, ‘and quite another to allow yourself to be moiled in webs of spider silk.  Go – before Daernaneth loses patience!’

‘You would keep your adar here, yet free me to wander in the wild forests west of the mountains?’

‘Adar will go when Glorfindel tells him that the time is ripe.’  Elladan grinned.  ‘And at least he is busy with his own plots!  These piles of reports and enquiries will dry up just as soon as everyone sees that you are no longer prepared to be ruled by them.’

Elrohir lifted a heavy wad of paper bound together with pink tape.  ‘What is this?  ‘A Consideration of the Provision of Facilities for the Return of Silvan Elves’.  That looks vital reading.’  He turned the next document to read its title.  ‘This looks even better – ‘Population Increase and its Impact on the Forest Environment’.   It is a wonder to me that you managed to run the Golden Wood successfully without ever reading this.’

‘Experienced and educated elves have expended a great deal of effort on considering these matters,’ Celeborn remarked mildly.

‘Not one of whom has ever spent more than a few month dwelling in the forest,’ Elrohir pointed out.  ‘Do you not think it possible that they have little of value to say on the subject?’

‘Do not close your mind to the ideas of others, my grandsons.’  Celeborn rolled his shoulders.  Elladan slipped behind him and began to massage the tight muscles.  ‘That particular report has some very good thoughts in it.’

‘Anything you had not already understood?’ Elrohir looked remarkably like his adar as he raised a curious eyebrow.

‘Well – no,’ his grandfather conceded.  ‘But the ideas are remarkably well expressed for someone who has spent most of his life working in Finarfin’s court.’

‘Take the author west with you.’  Elladan grinned.  ‘Let him extend his knowledge on the ground.  It would do him good to realise that in some areas he is a raw recruit – and that elves with no scholarly pretensions understand from experience everything that he has studied.’

‘But first,’ Elrohir looked up from the reports, ‘spend some time on the training field – and ensure that these place-seekers know just how dangerous it is to stand between the elf who felled Dol Guldur and his goal.’

His grandfather stretched as a feeling of well-being warmed him.  ‘You could be right,’ he agreed.  ‘And, even if you were to try your hardest, you cannot create that much chaos over a few seasons.’

‘If you think that…’ Elladan leaned confidentially close to his ear, ‘you do not know us very well.’

‘True,’ Elrohir added straight-faced.  ‘Our best is much better than most will give us credit for achieving.’

‘But you can rest assured,’ Elladan’s grin lit the room, ‘that you will find little paperwork on your return.  And that is a promise.’

***

He came up behind her as she stood at the wide open window, Ithil’s silver light brightening to gold in her braided hair, her silken nightgown shimmering as she breathed.

‘I dreamed of you,’ he said, his voice low, ‘when we were on different sides of an unforgiving sea.  Many times.  Standing in the light of the stars – cold and silent and alone.  Yet I could not reach you.’

‘But you came.’  She turned and smiled.  ‘In the end, you came.’ 

‘I could not stay away.’

‘And I think you have found it – less confining than you thought?’  She leaned back to meet his eyes even as her hands reached to touch him. 

He grinned ruefully.  ‘You wish to be proved right again, my heart?’ he asked.  ‘I have found that, for all I miss the song of Arda, I can be happy where my family dwells – and that it is possible to build a new life here, where the song is clear and true.’  He drew her closer, pressing his forehead to hers and running one hand down her back to rest on her hip.

‘But you will be glad to seek out the forest,’ she said.  ‘Glad to look for the place that shines in your mind.  Far from the white towers of Tirion – and the confinements of court.’

‘I am not unaccustomed to court ritual,’ he smiled, ‘and the tedium of negotiation – but you are right.  I will be glad to get away for a while.  Even if the idea of leaving our grandsons to fill my role is rather alarming.’

Galadriel laughed.  ‘They are perfectly capable,’ she said.  ‘They just prefer not to show it.’  Her long fingers traced his cheekbone lingeringly.  ‘We should rest – tomorrow will be a hard day.’

‘I have no intention of resting,’ he declared.  ‘We will be spending weeks in the company of others.  I can think of far better things to do on our last night alone.’

Her slow smile tightened his belly with an excitement that could still surprise him after all their centuries together.  ‘So can I,’ she said, touching her lips to his with the lightness of a snowflake brushing a leaf.  ‘And they will be all the more enjoyable for knowing that I will have you at my side again tomorrow – and for as many tomorrows as may come.’

________________________________________________________ 

(Tarannon is a very minor character from Far Horizons.  He is son of Artamir and brother to Calion.)





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