|Along Came A Caterpillar
Author: Bill-the-Pony PM
Edited 4.26.04. Spring in Caras Galadhon gone wrong. Celeborn's in a fix, Rúmil's the unfortunate underling, and the larva isn't much better off.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor - Words: 2,968 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 2 - Published: 04-21-03 - id: 1315991
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Note: I know, I know, grotesquely out of character, but how serious can you be when you're challenged to write any sort of story with and elf of some grandeur involving a "fuzzy, green, caterpillar?" I mean no disrespect to Celeborn, or Rumil, whom I dearly love with every fiber of my being, but there comes a time when you can't help but pick on the ones you love. I admit that this is meant to be totally laughable and not in the least believable and wrote it with that frame of mind. Forgive me from my departure from canon. Blame it on SkyFire.
-Along Came A Caterpillar-
Spring flew toward Lórien in a shower of emerald, followed closely by the birth of delicate white flowers nestled against the silver trunks of the mellyrn that were just shedding their leaves in accordance to their nature. The air was crisp and sweet to the senses, invigorating limb and heart. The mirth of the Elves of Lórien was in fine form in these days of light and beauty.
The Lord of the Galadhrim strolled at a leisurely pace, trod without sound across the forest floor enjoying the quiet of the wood away from the main telain of Caras Galadhon. He breathed deep of the free air, reveling in the tingle it left in his lungs.
Celeborn stopped, leaning a hand against the silver bark of a mallorn, feeling the ancient tree sway in greeting at his touch. Life flowed beneath his fingers, rich and growing. He stood for a while beneath the glimmering tree, completely at peace.
That was until something dropped on his shoulder.
As most any sentient being would proceed, Celeborn moved to brush the object away without thought. There was a moment when his fingertips brushed the unknown thing and it meant little to him that it was somewhat malleable, covered in bristled hairs, was an inch long…and wriggled. He froze, his eyes panned in his head to his hand. It's green, Mind informed him astutely. However it was not simply its color that caused him distress and prompted him to do what next he did - it was the horrifying discovery that it was clinging to his shoulder. Shoulders are known to be part of the body, ergo, it was on his being.
There are times in life when even the bravest and noblest of heart, break down to a state of helplessness for one reason or another. Sometimes these reasons are more understandable than others. Celeborn, no matter the dangers he had faced, was about to have one of these moments.
He squealed. Not merely screamed in fright, but squealed high in pitch and sounding for all Arda like an elf-maid who had fallen into a pit of sludge crawling with toads. While all this takes quite a lot of saying, both thought and reaction took no more than the span of two heartbeats.
"Lord Celeborn!" cried a voice from a short ways off. A tall elf – though there hardly is any other type – of strong bearing, dashed into view. Elven eyes caught the unsettling sight of his lord, his face frozen in horror. Of all the times for Rúmil to show up, this had to be the worst occasion. Why, oh why, could he not be out of the vicinity of Caras Galadhon as he was so often.
Celeborn hardly cared at the moment as he was trying to still his flighty heart
and return his mind to its normal state of placid logic. He leaned heavily on
the mallorn, trying for all Arda to look like the Lord of the Galadhrim that he
was, now that his heart was under his will and he could form a good string of
logical thoughts. He threw a glance down at his shoulder.
It was a caterpillar, a very innocent looking one at that, and as before noted, green with bristly hairs. It could almost be categorized as fur. Celeborn felt irked to no abatement that such a miniscule bug could cause such consternation.
"Lord Celeborn," Rúmil repeated, his face expressing alarmed concern. "We heard someone cry out, and we thought…" For once it seemed the Silvan Elf was dumbstruck by the situation.
"Do not even dare to finish what you were thinking," Celeborn warned, his tone strained. He wore and inexplicable expression; Rúmil appeared quite unconcerned – or rather unaware – of it. Rather, the Marchwarden was fixated on the Lord of the Galadhrim's shoulder, his brow furrowed and his eyes squinted as if quite uncertain.
"Lord Celeborn, is that a…"
"…Caterpillar?" supplied the elder Elf wearily. "Yes, you would be quite correct with that assumption."
"Forgive my impudence, but is that what…"
"…Scared me half way to Valinor?" finished Celeborn tersely. "You would also be correct on that count as well."
"Do you always finish…"
"…Other's sentences? You're quite intuitive today Rúmil." A dark look passed over Celeborn's brow. "It comes from being the husband of the Lady Galadriel." Celeborn felt an uncomfortable tingling sensation on the skin of his shoulder that was not covered by the ethereal blue cloth of his surcoat. Ill-temperedly he reached a hand up to swat at the bothersome annoyance and in the meantime rid himself of the accursed caterpillar that had got him into this state of self-shame. But the caterpillar was no longer lodged on the cloth of his clothing. The caterpillar was the annoyance. What made matters worse was that the caterpillar, green and fuzzy as it was, had to have some facet of traction or means to grip leaf and branch. In this certain caterpillar's case, near microscopic barbs bristled over what served as feet was the facet of traction. Needless to say, the sensitivity of all senses from touch to sight is greatly enhanced when the blood of the Firstborn courses through one's veins. But what perhaps is not so elementary is the little fact that such a blessing can also be a curse.
At this point, Celeborn would categorize it as a curse. The caterpillar, in the spirit of self-preservation, dug all six spiny joints, which served for feet, into the sensitive skin at the base of his neck.
A sharp yelp was curtailed by a rather profane exclamation. Panic sprinted to the party as Celeborn found that no matter how much he pulled, flicked or swatted the growing nuisance would not be dislodged. Instead it clung harder.
Rúmil, all this time had been standing by, understandably dumbfound and quite shocked by the performance of his lord. Should he intercede or attempt to make a subtle retreat to deeper parts of Lórien? He did not suspect the Lord of the Galadhrim would leave any witnesses with capability to recount what they had witness. Banishment sounded like a very agreeable sentence.
"Don't just stand there looking like some ninny dwarf, help me!" Irate to the definition, but noticeably calmer and more in control of his faculties, Celeborn made the Marchwarden's decision for him.
There was a
moment when he considered taking what chance he had and bolting, but Rúmil was
not cowardly enough to flee into the shadows. It was a trait that did not run
in his blood. No, he would face what wrath the Lord of the Galadhrim had in
store for him with head held high.
In the meantime, he was going – borrowing the colloquialism – to butter up Celeborn by good deeds.
For some time, Rúmil picked and pried at the stubborn creature lodged firmly on his lord's shoulder. But it was to no avail as the caterpillar in its terrified state clung to Celeborn's shoulder like it was its last lifeline, which wasn't too far from the truth. At last he said, "I am sorry Lord Celeborn, but the mite is stuck fast. I am afraid that anything I do will be to no avail." That is to say the Elven equivalent of man's, "Blast it all, it's bloody well useless".
Celeborn, on the other hand, saw no reason to adhere to the pleasantries of Elvish speech. "Cut the gab, Rúmil, and swear to me you will not breathe a word of this to anyone or your marchwarden-ship is as good as terminated."
Silence ensued, leaving Celeborn in a brooding silence. Every once in a while, he would steal loathing glances at the caterpillar, but even that was a nearly impossible feat having had found a spot just under the range of the Elf's glare. The only thing that Celeborn reaped from these attempts were eyeballs that remained stuck for a count in the bottom of his eye-sockets and a headache.
Rúmil rubbed his index finger against the pad of his thumb, a nervous habit he had acquired after too many years in the company of his sibling brother. What to do? was the prevailing question that haunted his mind. The caterpillar was stuck fast, and the only other options he could conjure up were not very bloodless ones, but by the look on the Lord Celeborn's face, perhaps he would not be so opposed to that if the end result brought about the dislodging of the caterpillar. However, Rúmil was not prepared to carve a chunk of flesh out of the Lord of the Galadhrim's shoulder just to remove a caterpillar.
Thankfully, a bolt of inspiration struck Rúmil with a resounding crack when a profound acorn hit home on the crown of his head. The Elf decided not to question why or how an acorn had found his head under a canopy of mellyrn, which were not known to produce acorns.
"Lord Celeborn, perhaps the wisest course of action would be to seek help in the Lady Galadriel?"
Hardly had he formed the lilt of a question to "Galadriel", did Celeborn fairly lunge for Rúmil. Hands grasped Rúmil's shoulders in a frantic grip, his eyes alight with dangerous desperation. "No!" he croaked, winced, then cleared his throat, continuing in a leveler tone. "I mean, no. That would be, eh, unwise."
The shimmering waters rippled green at the edges like a stagnant lake, framing a fair, but worried face, slightly green at the edges itself. The nearly imperceptible caterpillar mounted on the Elf's shoulder was not lost upon the watcher of the water.
Galadriel's lips curved into what could almost be named a feral smirk, an expression not yet worn out on her lovely face. "Unwise? My dear love, how naïve you are."
Rúmil's eyebrow twitched upward into a jagged peak, not at all certain what was faulty in his judgement. After all wasn't she his wife? Were they not bound by the eternal binding band of matrimony, love forever devoted to the other half? Wouldn't she be the most likely to "…Support you in your time of need?" he thought aloud.
As odd as it looked, Celeborn's eyes bulged undeniably. "Support me in my time of need? Rúmil are you mad?" he hissed, gripping the unfortunate Marchwarden's shoulders all the harder. "Remember, my friend, who we are discussing. The lady you mention is none other than the Lady Galadriel, a breathtaking lady who has both beauty and wisdom. That is a deadly combination in any of the feminine gender! Matters are only made worse when that certain lady knows both of those things."
"Lord Celeborn, please, I beg you, lower your voice," Rúmil winced. "You're frightening the larva."
Still, Celeborn did not cease his ravings. "She knows the power she holds sway over me, I have but to look at her face – a visage of perfection – and I fall to her every whim willingly with salivation and doey eyes."
Rúmil look doubtfully at Celeborn, beginning to believe that the elder Elf had perhaps seen one to many centuries. "I do not mean to be, impudent, but do you not think that you may be over-reacting, if not just a bit?" Rúmil didn't dare step so far onto the butcher's block by saying melodramatic. "Beside that, I am afraid your point is lost on me. What does the Lady Galadriel's beauty and wisdom have to do with anything?"
"Everything!" Celeborn hissed shrilly. "Everything, Rúmil! I am her husband, I am supposed to be the figure of strength. Isn't it then natural for me to wish to retain a scrap of dignity?"
Rúmil's began to see a bright patch in the muddled fog.
Celeborn's brows pinched in a most pathetic manner. "But how am I to compare to the daughter of Finarfin, she who bares the Ring of Adamant, she who can master the mind of the most dreadful evils?"
Even the caterpillar looked sympathetic to Celeborn's plight.
"Woe!" he cried, "Woe to me who's heart I have lost to her. For her to find me with this miserable worm, helpless to its cruel bristles, would be the end of whatever esteem she once held me in when first I loved her."
The caterpillar looked affronted.
Galadriel's flawless brow creased, she had quite enough of her dear husband's melodramatics – and yes, she, unlike Rúmil, would say so to his face. As much as she was committed to him, no matter how much she loved him, Celeborn was fully capable of being quite the ninny. But after many years of marriage, she had come to the understanding that he need only a good cuff upside the head to cure him…for at least a week.
She turned her back on the basin and the images therein. She had a spouse to save from himself, and a certain larva. Not to mention a marchwarden, also in need of saving from a certain spouse.
By now, Rúmil was on the verge of fleeing the scene, finding his brother, and starting a new life far away from Lórien, and most importantly, away from Lord Celeborn and his marital issues. But as it was that certain people were having certain things happen in certain ways, it was certainly not to be. This left Rúmil in quite the stitch, at a loss for a reaction, and out an escape.
Celeborn was much the same as before, clinging to the hapless marchwarden, generously sharing his woes with the Elf. The caterpillar looked almost ready to confess its own trial of being the ugliest larva in Caras Galadhon.
But Rúmil was not about to let himself become a counselor to the neglected Elf-lords of Middle-earth, neither was he about to become the same to the self-loathing larva of Arda. He had made up his mind. He was getting out of this mess and heading for the Misty Mountains to become a hermit like Radagast, or a monk – it was after all a rising fad in the society of the Firstborn.
He had even taken measures to commence his flight, but again, certain happenings changed his mind, or simply, forcefully hindered him.
Her voice was cool as the early spring breeze, a stray lilt of amusement, if not slightly condescending, colored her authoritative tone. "Do I want to know what you're doing with that, thing?"
Rúmil froze; Celeborn adopted a grey pallor.
Galadriel's wizened eyes bore into both unfortunates. There would be no hiding for Celeborn now. There was an audible gulp - two audible gulps – each looking to the other to speak first, explain the situation, or take the lead in fleeing. Being the underling of the two, the task fell to Rúmil.
One could hardly fault Rúmil for his stuttering, jumbled words, and sweaty palms. He was a marchwarden, not a public speaker. Leave that to Haldir, he was the actor of the two brothers. Perhaps too much so as he was known to dramatize the trivial, even terrorize returning hunting parties in the form of blunt arrows and balrog imitations. There were times when his brother both took his job too lightly and too seriously. Thankfully, no permanent harm had been done…yet.
The Lady eventually took pity on the Marchwarden, staying his fervent, but hopeless attempts to pardon his lord. Rúmil slunk gratefully from the scene while the Lady made a beeline for her wayward and mortified spouse. There was no need for words or excuse, indeed, there had never been need at all to worry.
A white hand, baring a ring crafted by the finest craftsman of history, had but to graze Celeborn's cheek and he melted as confounding, beautiful eyes, turned tenderly to him. It seemed to him that all his Lady's love was placed on him at that moment. Life was complete. Valinor could call now.
There was no need for him to know that her hand only grazed his cheek as Galadriel reached to stroke the caterpillar. There was no need for him to know that the tenderness was turned to grace the misfortunate larva. There was also no need for him to realize that she had but laid a finger before the caterpillar without any complaint it had crawled from his shoulder to her hand.
He definitely didn't need to know the caterpillar was love-struck.