Many tales are yet told in Middle-Earth of Galadriel, the White Lady of Lórien, and the deeds she performed with Nenya, the Ring of Adamant. But much less is told of Celeborn her spouse, second only to Elu Thingol among the Princes of the Sindar; yet there was great love between them, and they were both counted as great among the Eldar. But while Galadriel ever turned her mind to thoughts of ruling and domination, Celeborn's love was given to the wisdom of lore and peace, and so there was often strife and discontent between them, and their counsels differed much. Even in the beginning was it so, yet their differences often drew them closer as the long years flew by. Here follows the story of their courtship:
It happened that, after fifty years of the Sun had passed since the Noldor entered Beleriand, Findaráto and his sister Artanis were the guests of Thingol in Doriath. He held a great feast in their honor, for they were his kin, the children of his brother's daughter Eärwen. Findaráto and Artanis were amazed at the splendor of the Sindarin realm, and the magnificence manifested by the power of Melian the Maia. At the head of the table on thrones of crystal sat Elu, his long silver hair falling in waves over his shoulders like a bright shower, and Melian at his side robed in radiance. To Thingol's left sat his daughter Lúthien, her raiment glittering and her hair dark as shadow; behind her was the Loremaster Daeron with his harp, and his eyes full of love for Thingol's greatest treasure. But on Melian's right sat Elmo and the other princes of the Sindar, and among them were Celeborn and his younger brother Galathil, most like to Thingol of those of his household, for they were tall and of noble mien, and their hair was silver.
During the feast Artanis pondered the beauty of Elu's house with amazement and gazed in wonder on the Sindarin princes. Again and again her gaze turned to the sons of Galadhon, Celeborn and Galathil, for they were the most beautiful of all, tall and straight as young trees, and with hair that recalled the beauty of Telperion ere its light went out. Galathil returned her regard with bold smiles, and anon he would salute her with his goblet of wine; but Celeborn only glanced at her gravely, and kept his eyes mostly on the King. Thus passed the feast for Artanis, and she retired at last at dawn yet amazed. "Their strength is as ours, but cloaked," she remarked to her brother, and he agreed.
It happened that as the eve of the next day gathered, Artanis sat at twilight by a fair fountain, singing a song that Lóridir, Finwë's shadowy-haired minstrel, had been wont to sing in Aman while the light of the Two Trees yet endured. All at once she became aware she was not alone. She glanced up, and gave a start; for there stood Celeborn, dressed in white, his silver hair falling down his back; his keen gray eyes regarded her gravely. He put up a hand to still her.
"Do I disturb you, Lady?" he asked, and his voice though quiet was clear and fair.
"No," answered Artanis. She gathered the folds of her blue gown closer to her. "Sit by me, my Lord, and talk with me if you will, for my brother is closeted with the King, and I lack for company."
Celeborn did as she bade him, sitting by her side on the rim of the clear fountain. In silence they stared at the leaping water for a while, and then Celeborn in what seemed almost a gesture of reverence reached out a hand and touched one of her silken tresses.
"Ai!" he murmured. "I wonder that such a treasure should go unguarded."
Artanis turned her wondrous eyes upon him, astonished at such a bold yet courteous gesture. The last who had dared to touch her hair so lightly she had angrily rebuffed and held in the greatest scorn, much to his deep and unforgetting shame: Feanáro. But he had lusted openly for her – no, not for her, but for her hair, in imitation of which he had created the silmarilli. Celeborn, however, beheld her beauty with polite interest and respect. She found she could not be angry at him.
"Why, would any harm it?" she countered.
"Nay," answered Celeborn. "But one might strive perhaps to claim it for his own." The ghost of a smile flittered over his face. "I deem it would be a sad fate indeed for any who tried against thine own will."
"Ah," said Artanis. "Indeed." She remembered Feanáro, who had met with a sad fate indeed. Yet perhaps he walked now in Mandos. Could any hall contain his fiery spirit? She doubted that all the hither lands were wide enough to contain him and his lust.
"Perhaps one has already tried?" Celeborn suggested, eyeing her keenly. When she did not answer he made a gesture of dismissal. "Nay, never mind. I come to ask a favor of you, if I may."
"My Lord?" replied Artanis, wondering what favor she could grant this cool prince.
"I ask that you consider well these words." Celeborn paused before he went on. "My brother Galathil last night became greatly enamored of your beauty, which I own is wondrous; and I am aware that your gaze strayed often to his countenance. Please, Lady, I beg you, either give him home or ignore him so that he may forget such thoughts, for he is yet young and might be foolish. I hope you will be kind to him –" But he got no further, for the blood rushed to Artanis' face and she drew herself up furiously.
"My lord! How darest! I am Artanis, a lady of the Noldor! Who is your brother to have pretensions to me?" Her breast heaved, and she fell silent, her anger unquenched.
Celeborn stared up at her for several seconds before he rose from his seat. "I beg thy forgiveness, Lady," he said very quietly. "I had forgotten that to the Noldor we are both unwise and unfair, and our splendor cannot equal yours. Yet I think I am happier for what I am – I think that I have missed beauty indeed but also sorrow and pain by not completing the Great Journey. I do not envy those of my kin who did so, whether they remained there or have returned." With that he left her, pausing only once to look back. Then he was gone, and Artanis was left alone. She sank back down to her seat by the edge of the fountain, one hand to her still-heaving breast. Only then did she recall that Lóridir, Finwë's minstrel and ever a counselor of peace and prudence, had left most of his kin behind in the hither lands, and that he had often told her stories of his youth that he had spent with his brothers, Celeborn and Galathil.
She saw Celeborn again soon after the next dawn as he sat beside the minstrel Daeron on a marble bench by the edge of a fair clearing. Daeron was playing a set of pipes while Celeborn drew music from a small harp on his knee. In the clearing Lúthien was picking the sweet niphredil and other flowers; as Artanis approached she ran to Daeron and Celeborn. She threw the delicate blossoms over Daeron where they tangled in his hair, making him laugh so that he put his pipes down. Next Lúthien gathered a handful of the fallen blooms and twined them deftly in Celeborn's hair. When Artanis' shadow fell upon her, however, she looked up, and her hands faltered. Celeborn, smiling politely, rose swiftly, but Daeron remained where he was, aware that the Noldorin lady's business was not with him.
"Lord Celeborn? I would speak with you," Artanis said humbly, her eyes cast down.
"Certainly, fair lady," agreed Celeborn. "Let us go and walk on the grass under the trees and speak together; for I would guess that that something grieves you." And taking her arm he led her gently yet firmly into the wood without another word.
At length they came to a place where a clear stream ran between green banks. There at the stream's edge Celeborn sat, and Artanis sat by him with her back to a tree. For some time they remained thus in silence, but at last Celeborn lifted his head and spoke.
"What troubles you then, noble Artanis?" he asked, and although his voice was gentle there was an edge to it. "Do you find these lands lacking, and yearn once more for those that die not?"
"No," answered Artanis, with some hesitation. "No, I would not go back there." She clamped her lips together.
"There is no undying paradise here," Celeborn said. His keen gray eyes met hers, and held them.
"I know that," said Artanis very quietly. She suddenly could not look at him any more, and she hid her face in her hands, feeling shame. But Celeborn's words were striking close to the mark…and how could she look at him, the brother of the fair and gentle minstrel Lóridir who had died in her arms at Alqualonde?
"Ah," breathed Celeborn. "There is indeed great grief here." He stretched out a hand to her. "Lady, trouble yourself not. I know of Lóridir. Did not his son Luinêl return also, and is he not here now? I cannot know why this thing was, for he will not say, but he told me some things."
Artanis lifted her head and looked once more into his eyes. She leaned forward and put her hand into his. "My Lord, forgive me," she murmured. "For I have much wronged you."
Celeborn said nothing but gazed up at her in silence. Artanis began to feel that she had always been here with him and that she would like to be so forever, while the stars and Moon and Sun wheeled overhead. To her indeed he seemed like the Moon, while she was the Sun; and although they appeared close together all of the heavens and the wheeling stars were between them. And she knew that it was not right that the Moon should ever touch the Sun, but she did not withdraw her hand from his.
Many dreams and many hours later they both roused, at the same instant becoming aware of the world around them. Celeborn smiled and pressed Artanis' hand gently before releasing it. He spoke, giving her a new name, her first epesse..
"Galadriel," he said. "I name you Galadriel of the snowy hands and golden-lighted hair, and I think you wondrously fair."
"And you, Teleporno," she replied, using the High-Elven form of his name, "are to me as a straight slender beam of Ithil above; keen and true and most wondrous to look upon." But she did not yet speak her love, and on that count Celeborn too was silent.
Two weeks passed, during which time Artanis saw Celeborn often but was never alone with him. At the end of this time Findaráto announced his intention to leave Doriath and build a stronghold by the River Narog.
"Wilt accompany me there now, Artanis?" he asked his sister.
Artanis stood there in the presence of Elu and Melian and all the lords and captains of Doriath, and she wavered. "How long shall it take you to build this strong place?" she asked.
"Not long," replied Findaráto. "And you shall be in comfort for that time."
"I care not for comfort, I who have crossed the Grinding Ice," Artanis answered scornfully. Yet still she wavered, and she looked upon Melian, who smiled.
"Stay here, Artanis," said the Lady of Doriath. "You have been here such a short time, and you could have much to do in this place. And I would teach you the lore of these lands, for I perceive you are wise and strong and desire rule of your own."
"Aye, for my mother called we Nerwen," said Artanis thoughtfully. Her gaze swept the room and fell at last on Celeborn, who stood calmly, his hands behind his back, his face relaxed. But she could see the glint of hope in his eyes, and fell his will resting against hers…suddenly she could bear it no more; she turned to Findaráto and kissed him.
"Nay, brother," she said. "You build your stronghold, but I shall bide here for a while and learn something more of these lands." But when she turned away from him once more, her eyes went to Celeborn's rather than Melian's. He was smiling, and his eyes were filled with light.
The next years passed swiftly enough, but they were not happy ones for Artanis. She was restless, and she became more so as time went on. Although Melian did indeed teach her much of the lore of the hither lands, and many other things besides, she also asked Artanis probing questions about things that had happened in the Blessed Lands, and Artanis was becoming desperate for answers. Often Celeborn sat with them too, listening to the lore and the tales of strange but actual things; but when Melian began her questioning, never a word would he say on Artanis' behalf. Rather he would stare at her as if hoping she would finally tell the whole tale. One day Artanis became impatient, and Melian prudently left the fountain where they had been sitting, on the excuse of finding the Loremaster Daeron. However, once out of sight she turned herself into a bird and sat above Artanis' and Celeborn's heads to hear their conversation.
"You never speak in my defense," began Artanis after a short silence.
"I did not think you needed defense," Celeborn replied coolly.
"You know I wish not to speak of Aman!"
"And I do not wish to hear of it. I come to hear the wisdom of Melian." Celeborn trailed his fingers in the pool.
"At her bidding!" Artanis said scornfully, becoming angry. "You do whatever she asks!"
"Nay," said Celeborn. He turned to her, his eyes smoldering. "She bids me not. I am free to come and go as I will."
"Then would you have me tell her all?" Artanis' eyes were desperate. From the tree above their heads, a bird flew away.
Celeborn shook his head so vehemently that his silver hair tossed like a horse's mane. He shuddered. "No!" he cried. "Whatever it is, I wish it had not happened." He suddenly took her gently by the shoulders. "Galadriel…what evil lies on the Noldor? Do not tell me you are marked by it."
Artanis looked him in the eyes. "And if I am, what will you do?"
Celeborn gazed at her a long moment, and then he bent his head and kissed her lips. "I will love thee," he answered. "We will dwell together, if thou wilt, and I will love thee forever."
Artanis stared at him, speechless with amazement. Then she shook her head. "Nay," she said. "I shall never be content unless I can rule everything that comes to my hand." She felt sick inside, admitting this, but she knew it was true.
Celeborn turned away from her back to the fountain. "And I will not be ruled," he murmured. "So be it. I love you; I shall always love you, until the end of everything. But until you can love me, we could never be happy."
From that time Artanis was separated from Celeborn. She saw him little and spoke to him less; and he appeared to take no notice of her at all. His clear eyes never rested on her for more than a fleeting instant; he never addressed himself to her alone; his will was entirely withdrawn from hers. Yet his eyes burned with a fierce light, there was agony in his every word, and his will consumed him; she could see it in his face, which was pale as marble but for the bright flush which too often covered it. And still Celeborn mastered himself, and few knew of his pain.
But at length one eve when Elu and his household and Artanis sat to the daymeal, Galathil the brother of Celeborn looked first upon his brother and then upon Artanis, and he turned to Thranduil who sat close by him and said in a clear voice, "I am sure my brother will soon have something to say about the Noldorin maiden, think you not so?"
Thranduil half choked on his meat, and Celeborn at first flushed and then grew deathly pale. Artanis rose to her feet slowly and majestically.
"Excuse me, my lords and ladies," she said, and was gone without another word. Celeborn also rose.
"Your leave and pardon, please," he said hastily, and darting an angry glance at Galathil he ran after Artanis.
She slowed as she heard him approaching and let him catch her up, then took his arm and walked at his side. "Does Galathil speak truly?" she asked finally.
"No," replied Celeborn, his voice as always cool. "You know why I had no intention of bespeaking you."
"None?" Artanis looked keenly into his eyes.
"None," he replied, returning her gaze.
"Then would you not, under any circumstances?" Artanis pressed his arm; she needed to know.
"Ah…perhaps." Celeborn halted and turned her to him. "If I thought I might receive what I asked for – if I thought the fair Artanis would become Galadriel and my wife. But 'tis not so; and therefore I will not ask it." His eyes were troubled, but his mouth remained firm.
Artanis bit her lips. She looked at the ground; she looked up to the treetops; she looked around at the court and the clear fountains; and at last she looked straight into Celeborn's eyes.
"I will dwell with you, Celeborn the Wise," she said. "And between us we will make a realm more beautiful and powerful than any in Middle-Earth; and we will rule it together." And she put her hand into his, and kissed his lips to seal the bargain.
And so Artanis became Galadriel, and dwelt with Celeborn in Middle-Earth. In the end Galadriel indeed left Celeborn to go over Sea, and it is not known which at last Celeborn favored most, the golden-haired Lady or the hither lands. But in the End, it is hoped, they will find peace together, and walk as content under the trees again as on that eve in Doriath when the fair Artanis plighted her troth to Celeborn the Wise, the tallest and fairest of the Princes of the Sindar.