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Written for the ALEC "A Mother's Love" contest where it won first place.
Many thanks to Fiondil and Alassiel for the beta :-)
Disclaimer: Playing in Tolkien's sandbox and making no money from it.
He sat on the bed listening as the unfamiliar song of waves lapping outside lulled his troubled fëa into a trembling peace. He knew he was always going to remember his time here, and the experiences of the next few days would remain graven in his heart until the Remaking and perhaps beyond. Why did this have to be so? Why was there no healing to be found here?
It was so unfair! The Quendi were made to live in these lands! Were a part of the very wood and soil of Endórë and yet! And yet...
They were not fated to ever find their peace here again once that peace was lost to them.
Closing his eyes, he fought back the bitter tears yet again. Why was Valinor the only place for one so wounded to find peace? Why was his Lórien not enough for such a thing? Why did it have to be the Lórien across the sea? The orcs took his little girl from him once and now because of them, the Belain were taking his daughter away (or so it seemed to him) because this world was not good enough to bring her healing, to bring her peace.
Drawing his handkerchief from its all too familiar place in his pocket, he wiped his face yet again, drying tears which refused to stay away for long.
When he regained his composure, he arose and walked toward the open doors to the balcony to join his wife. So calmly she stood there regal and tall like a frosted rose, looking out over the bay. Her white dress billowed about her in the strong breeze, her lustrous garland of hair wisping and tangling about her. So cool and puissant, so wise and strong and proud! Bearer of a ring of power!
Yet also bearer of a child.
How could she hold her emotions so well when he could not?
As he approached her side, he noticed the white-knuckled grip with which she held the balustrade. The setting sun reflected in the silver tears he suddenly realized were glistening on her fair cheek. Perhaps not made of steel after all...
Slipping one hand around her waist and taking her right hand in his other, he drew her into his embrace. Never taking her eyes off the sun in the west, she nestled into that place on his left shoulder which was made for her.
"What have I done, Celeborn?" she whispered. "Sweet Eru, what have I done?"
Celeborn drew her closer still, whispering back, "You did all that you could do, just as we all did. But none of it was enough to save our beloved little one. Our Celebrían is going away and there is nothing we can do about it." Tenderly, he kissed her scented hair and her neck, then settled his head against hers.
"I know," she sniffed. "I know..."
"But I think I somehow deserved this," she suddenly added.
Surprised, he turned her in his embrace enough to look into her eyes.
"Galadriel! How...how could you...what could you possibly have done to deserve what has happened to our daughter?"
She bowed her head, but he placed his finger under her chin and lifted it until her downcast eyes were forced to meet his own. "The orcs did this! Sauron did this! Our daughter did not deserve what happened to her and YOU most certainly do not deserve what has happened to our child! Now tell me what ever could make you feel this way?" His tone was that of the prince as much as it was of her husband.
The White Lady sternly held her silence for a time, but finally acquiesced as her beloved husband knew she ultimately would. Taking a deep breath, she turned toward the sunset, but her eyes seemed to see uncounted leagues beyond it. Briefly in his mind Celeborn perceived another balcony overlooking another bay lit by a light like yet unlike the sun and the moon.
"I cannot believe how much I ache inside," his golden maiden whispered in a faraway voice. "I never would have thought or even guessed that parting from my daughter would hurt this much. And..." her voice broke for a moment. "And I never before considered what my own naneth must have felt when I left her back in Valinor. I never...I..." Tears streamed down her face again. "Celeborn, what have I done to her?"
Galadriel sniffed again, blinking rapidly, her voice disparaging and low. "I was impatient and envious and ambitious and I wanted to go away. Nothing could satisfy me. Nothing could settle me. Nothing could heal me of these feelings there in the bliss of Aman. So the first chance I had, I left. I have achieved everything I have ever wanted. But...but I am cursed and I can never return, can never go home and...and my daughter is about to go someplace where I can't follow her!"
She paused for a moment, her expression bleak, and Celeborn forced himself to remain still, giving his beloved the time and space she needed. When she spoke again, her voice was a mere whisper laced with pain. "This hurts so much...so very much. I feel as if my very heart is being ripped from my chest! As if my fëa is being destroyed! Celeborn, is it the curse which makes me feel this way or did...did I make my naneth feel this way when I left her?"
Celeborn cupped her sorrowful face in his hands, brushing the tears away with his thumbs. Shaking his head, he gave a great sigh. For all of her yéni, for all of her high wisdom learned at the feet of the Valar and the Maiar and from the great teacher of experience, she still managed to have missed some very important lessons in life. Pity filled his heart as he gently kissed her forehead and both of her cheeks.
"My beloved, I can only guess what your naneth must have felt when you left her. But I will not lie to you. I believe it very likely was for her then as it is for you now losing Celebrían."
Pain and sorrow filled his wife's face anew as she shook her head in pleading denial and collapsed against him in the throes of great sobs. He grieved that he knew of no way to say it any more gently than he did, but some lessons are not meant to be learned gently. Wrapping his arms around her, he cradled and clutched her to his breast as she mourned for her naneth and for her daughter.
Ithil shone his full loving face upon Celeborn as he held his beloved wife, and Elbereth's stars watched over them with deep compassion. A thought came suddenly to Celeborn's heart, but he waited to speak it until Galadriel's tears dried and her breathing finally calmed.
Pushing her away enough so he could look into her overly bright eyes, he spoke softly as was his wont. "My lady, I think that it would be wise and a step toward healing for you and your naneth if you were to send her a letter telling her how much you love her and miss her. Tell her of your realizations this evening and tell her of the child you commend to her care. Think of how much such a letter would mean to you as a mother for your departed daughter to say such things to you! My heart tells me that this would be the best gift you could give your naneth short of returning to her arms yourself. I will even help you write the letter if you feel you cannot."
Galadriel looked on her husband for a long time, then nodded. "You are correct Celeborn the Wise," she smiled weakly. "I...I am unsure of what to say and would very much appreciate your help."
Celeborn smiled encouragingly and rewarded her with a kiss full of love and pride. Leading her inside, he saw her seated at a desk with all she needed, then called for wine. Drawing up a chair beside her, he sat down and helped her begin.
A few weeks later, a lady stood on a balcony overlooking the waves restlessly vying for position in the starlit bay before her. Her shimmering silver hair fluttered about her in the breeze, mingling with the gauzy fabric of her sea-green dress. Quietly her golden lord wrapped her in a warm loving embrace. Tearing her eyes away from the waves which sailed her kisses to another shore far away, she turned and met her husband's keen compassionate gaze.
"Arafinwë, she...she..." Eärwen cried desperately clutching a tear-stained letter to her breast.
"I know," he whispered amidst his own proud tears, taking his wife more fully in his arms and nestling his head against hers. "I know. And one day our little girl will come home to us again. My heart tells me that she will. Until then we must be satisfied with and most grateful for the gift of her daughter being added unto our own house. Our daughter has been blessed and so have we."
Belain - (Sindarin) Valar
fëa - spirit
naneth - (Sindarin) mother
yéni - a period of 144 years
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