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Chapter 18: waking up
Celebrían woke up a small scream still on her lips. She swallowed after quickly closing her mouth. What in the name of the Valar had happened? Her home, the people she knew, and all circumstances around her had changed, no, twisted into an unreal nightmare.
For several minutes she kept lying on her side slowly breathing in and out. The large bed felt so empty, so cold as Elrond was sleeping in his study after their last quarrel. She sobbed. All she had wanted to do was to protect her children. She never intended to hurt anyone, and yet, she had lashed out at Glorfindel, Erestor, and Elrond and she had even opened a ridge to her eldest son. What was happening with her? She felt so stupid all of a sudden.
`You have no sons´ constantly echoed in her mind. Why? Why should reality change and forget that she had two wonderful children? Elrond had been so hard, not the kind elf she had always known, and Glorfindel had not even existed?
What was the message of that…dream?
Was it a dream or had she been punished for something she did or did not do?
“That is an interesting question, child, is it not?”
She jerked upright at the softly spoken words. Celebrían blinked until her eyes had adjusted to the dimness of the room as it was still early morning the sun just rising.
In the far corner of the room, she could make out a tall, dark-haired figure sitting in a comfortable chair. Even if she could not see his face in the darkness, she knew instantly who was sitting in her favorite chair where she had nursed her children.
“My Lord Namó,” she said her voice not as strong as she had wished. Her eyes were fixed on the rich dark blue robe flowing on the floor, the beautifully embroidered sleeves and long black braided hair with many sparkling stones woven into it.
“Be at peace, child,” the Lord of Mandos said while he rose and came toward the bed. Celebrían swallowed when the Vala sat next to her on the mattress. She was wearing only her nightgown, and was sure that the mighty lord could look straight into her soul regardless of what she was wearing.
She looked down at her cold hands. When no further word was spoken, she hesitantly raised her eyes. The Lord of Mandos was looking at her with an unreadable expression. She could see kindness in the brown depth but also reproach. She swallowed. Alright, she had done something wrong.
As if reading her inner thoughts–what he actually did–the Vala cleared his throat.
“I am pleased you have come to the right conclusion, daughter of Galadriel. Your behavior as of late has set processes in motion that should not have come to pass.”
Celebrían swallowed. She had realized that herself already but…
A finger was set under her chin gently forcing her to look the Vala in the eye.
“Your heart is right child and your motivations high-minded, yet sometimes we have to look past our worries.”
She nodded her chin still in the Vala´s grip.
“But what of the dream? It was a dream, right? What was the meaning?”
Anxiously she wrung her hands. The Vala took his time to answer her.
“Yes, it was a dream. Can you not guess what I wanted to show you?”
Celebrán lowered her eyes, suddenly no longer able to endure the burning gaze. She did partially understand what her fault was. Had she no right to worry, to voice her fears, to wish her children safe?
“Look at me, Celebrían!”
The command was soft, yet there was no way to ignore it. She looked again at the Vala.
“I wanted to show you an Imladris without a mighty spirit to guard it…”
“Glorfindel…” the wife of Elrond breathed.
“Yes, Glorfindel. We have appointed this task to him, and it is not your task to deter him from his way.”
Celebrían opened her eyes wide. She knew a command when she heard one.
“Imladris would not be same without Glorfindel. Your sons would have never been born.” The voice of the Vala had softened, his finger no longer under her chin.
Celebrían lowered her head and started sobbing. All the strains of the last few months now found release. All the worries and fears could run free. After long moments she quieted, and her heart no longer felt so burdened. A gentle arm had been placed around her shoulders.
But something else happened. She suddenly realized how she had acted–selfish, inconsiderate, impatient. She had wronged many around her but most of all her sons, her husband…Glorfindel.”
“I am so sorry; I will make up for it. Forgive me,” she whispered not aware that she was alone in her room.
Glorfindel was awake from one moment to the other. Despite the abruptness, he could clearly remember his dream. Glorfindel knew it was a dream, yet a small part of him dared to hope otherwise. The golden-haired warrior tried to rise and instantly knew that he could not. He tried again to wriggle his toes but could not even feel if there were toes to move.
He sighed. So much for reality. The dream was weird, dark and horrific, yet the awareness also held much he was not looking forward to. He still could not move, yet he could still feel the thrill from the dream discovering that in his dreams at least all was well with him. The tingling sensation was still coursing through his veins but was quickly abating.
He lay still again waiting for one of the healer´s to arrive like every morning. Again he wondered what was keeping them so long. It was already past the appointed time.
Suddenly, however, he was aware of another presence in the room. He jerked upright as much as his limited movement allowed him.
“Easy child, time is of no importance, just now.”
Glorfindel swallowed. He would have recognized this voice under thousands.
“Lord Namó,” he said carefully neutral. The Lord of Mandos was the least he had expected here–and truth be told–wanted to meet.
A silent laughter echoed through the room.
“Fortunately I do not ask for permission to visit, and I think you have thought of me a lot lately, or am I mistaken Glorfindel?”
Glorfindel sank back on his pillow with a groan. Never challenge the soul keeper. He had learned this while dwelling in his halls long ago. And of course, the Lord of Mandos was right. Had he not recently doubted his worth of existing?
His eyes, however, opened again when he felt a weight lowered on the mattress. The Vala was looking down at him with an unreadable expression. Glorfindel let the scrutiny happen. What was there to hide anyway? His condition was evident even if he doubted the Vala would need eyes for confirmation.
Glorfindel felt more and more uncomfortable under the stern gaze even if he had much experience in dealing with this mighty Vala. What did the Doomsman of the Valar want from him? Why had he even bothered to visit? In his current state, he was useless. For himself, for his lord and the Valar.
“And there you err, young one. Life is never useless. How often do I have to remind you of that?”
The warrior took a deep breath.
“I can no longer protect the line of Eärendil. You have to find someone better suited,” he said bitterly not able to look the other in the eye.
“There is no other. We have appointed this task to you. I think I showed you clearly in your dream what will happen when no mighty spirit guards this valley, have I not?”
Glorfindel heard the sarcastic undertone, and it made him angry. Had Namó no eyes? Could he not see that he was no longer able, even if he was willing?
“My eyes are pretty good, child, yet there are other ways to serve and protect. It does not always have to be a sword to do what must be done.”
Glorfindel snorted. Oh yes, he would defend Imladris from his bed. He had many good warriors, but they could only function with a competent leader and strategist. Someone who lived, breathed and sensed danger. Someone much older than any evil of late. Someone like him.
“I´m sorry to disappoint you, but these times are over. Someone else has to take over now.”
Glorfindel defiantly looked up to see the Vala´s reaction. He was not in the least surprised when the figure was no longer there, yet he started at the very present voice in his head.
“And there you err again.”
Closing his eyes in frustration, Glorfindel wept silently.
Elrond looked up when a knock sounded at his study door. It was still very early in the morning, and he could not guess who wanted to speak to him in the wee hours. He had not slept well and had hoped for a few more moments alone with his thoughts before he started the day. He slowly rose from the makeshift bed on his couch.
The door opened before he had the chance to invite the visitor. He narrowed his eyes at the intrusion. He had not even stored away his bedclothes. All of Imladris knew by now that he was sleeping in his study, but he had no intention to make it this obvious.
However, he raised an eyebrow in surprise when his wife slipped inside wearing only her nightgown. He instantly saw while looking at her face, that she was troubled, if not highly irritated. Her defiant expression was gone; her overbearing attitude had vanished. Elrond swallowed. He almost saw the wife he loved dearly, restored.
Seeing his hesitancy and scrutiny, Celebrían stopped halfway.
“May I speak with you?” she asked softly, her voice nearly pleading. Elrond blinked. What had happened. His heart still ached but went out, hesitantly at first.
“Of course,” he answered and made an inviting gesture toward the couch. Slowly she came forward, and after Elrond had sat down and patted the place beside him, she followed suit. Wringing her hands and looking at her feet she took a deep breath.
“Elrond, do you still love me?” she asked, hesitantly raising her eyes.
Elrond swallowed. How deeply had they hurt each other for such a question? He had always loved this woman and would always. Nothing could ever change that. They had some discrepancies, yes, but never would this waiver his love for her. Did she not know–feel–that?
Misinterpreting the silence, Celebrían rose desperately trying to prevent her tears from falling. She had just taken one step when gentle fingers curled around her left wrist.
“Cel, stay, please.”
Elrond had also risen. With little effort, he turned the slender body of his wife and enveloped her in a hug. She hesitated at first, but quickly she fiercely returned the embrace.
Elrond took her face in his hands and placed a kiss first to her forehead and then captured her lips. Only the need for air let them part.
“Of course I still love you. I always have and I always will. Nothing can change that.”
Celebrían nodded and swallowed.
“I love you too, and I´m here to say that I´m sorry. I only wanted…I had hoped…I thought…” long held back tears drowned out her words.
Elrond only held her close until her sobs had stopped. Again they sat down on the couch.
She took her husband´s hands in hers.
“Elrond, I´m sorry for my behavior lately. I overreacted out of hurt and anger. I was angry that you did not let me come with you, I was mad at Glorfindel for letting harm come to the boys, but now I understand your motivations. I´m sorry that I nearly slapped you, that´s inexcusable. I have wronged you. I hope you can forgive me.”
Elrond placed a finger over her lips.
“It was as much my fault. I had no right to deny you coming with me, but all my doing was born out of worry that even more harm could come to someone I love. Celebrían I could not bear the thought of something happening to you. Alone the imagination that the twins had been hurt nearly drove me insane.”
Celebrían nodded again.
“I know. I have already promised I would make it up and I will, beginning with you,” again her lips captured Elrond´s.
“Promised whom?” Elrond asked between two kisses.
“My dear husband, I have just laid bare my soul to you, but you do not need to know all my secrets.”
Elrond smiled also. He could pretty well guess who had changed his wife´s mind so drastically. He did not care, as long as his family could be restored as before.
Celebrían opened the door of her sons rooms silently. As always the twins slept in one bed. The second bed was never unoccupied. Her children had always been close, yet since this trip, they had become even closer. As much as she admired the connected souls, sometimes she forgot that she had to deal with two very different personalities. Often blending similar, hard to distinguish, yet sometimes more than different.
Especially Elladan. He had always shown her when he did not agree with her opinion. Some kind of rift had built up the last few weeks between mother and son. The twins had reacted strongly to the discord of their parents. While Elrohir nearly faded, Elladan had decided to punish his mother in shunning her for hurting his brother. Until today he had not spoken more than the absolute necessary words with her.
Celebrían lowered her eyes. If she did not turn from her path, she would fray the bond with her children, especially Elladan´s, beyond repair. Elladan was still a child, but he would not stray from his path or forgive her quickly. Whatever she had to say she would have to do it whole-heartedly otherwise she would lose one son and with him the other too. Elrohir would always follow his brother; she was sure of that.
Just, when she still was not certain whether to wake them, Elrohir sensed her presence and his eyes came into focus.
“Nana,” he said softly while already scrambling into her lap. When he had snuggled up to her, she stroked the black tresses and inhaled the scent of her child. Outwardly all injuries had healed, but she could sense the still lingering echo of fading. She shuddered. This should not have happened.
While still rubbing the younger twin´s back she looked up when Elladan sat upright. Long minutes mother and son looked at one another. She extended one hand, but Elladan did not move.
Celebrían took a deep breath.
“Elladan,” she said softly. “I´m here to apologize to you and your brother. I´m sorry that I caused you two distress.”
While Elrohir tightened his hold with his little arms around her middle Elladan did not even blink.
Celebrían sighed. Determined little boy.
“Elladan, love. I was very worried about you two. Can you not understand that? I wanted nothing more than to envelop you in my arms…”
“You nearly slapped Ada,” Elladan said accusingly not letting his mother finish.
Celebrían swallowed. She had not even noticed that this scene had been witnessed by her sons.
“That was not right, and I´m sorry about that. I already apologized to your Ada, and he forgave me,” she said with a little hope that her son would also.
“I forgive you, Nana. You love Ada, don’t you?”
The doubt in Elrohir´s eyes nearly broke her restraint to hold her tears in check.
“Yes, of course, and nothing will ever change that.”
Elrohir was perfectly content with this admission, Elladan, not so much. He still looked at his mother doubtful; gratefully he was no longer glaring.
After long minutes of silence, Elladan looked up.
“I accept your apology, but I hope you will not fight against Ada again.” This was a simple statement. Celebrían had a flash like vision. Seeing her son already grown looking at her with the same sincere eyes.
She knew her son was not convinced easily but she would do all to win him back.
“I promise, my son. Nothing like that will ever happen again. Now, will you join us and come into my arms?”
Reluctantly the older twin moved closer until all three elves were snuggled against one another on the large bed. Soon the even breaths indicated that they had fallen asleep.
Half an hour later, Elrond silently opened the door and slipped inside. A relieved smile crossed his face. He could clearly see the mending bonds, the vibrant strings slowly glowing golden again and growing stronger. He sighed. His family was on the way to fully heal.
Still, there was one left to worry about…
To be continued…
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