A/N: This is something of a parallel story to my story Battles of Blood and Fëa – it's approximately the same timeframe, place and uses the ideas I explained there. In other words, although you'll still understand as much as Celeborn in any case, if you want to understand exactly what Elrond is talking about you should read that fic.

I attribute Elrond's hair to Cirdan, who attributes it to Soledad, who attributes it to The Tired Scribe. I also got the Finwëan cheekbones from either Cirdan or Soledad (sorry for stealing so much, but that was just too good to pass up!)


Celeborn let himself sink onto a bench with a sigh, eyes drifting over the starlit garden which he had fled to. He felt uneasy among these Noldor, among their cold jewels, steel weapons and stone buildings, far from the trees of his people. He had had to come, however, to arrange an alliance against Morgoth with the Exiles. Privately he despaired, for the Sindar would never accept an alliance with the Noldor – no matter the foe –the two people were estranged, and much grief the one laid at the feet of the other. Still, the situation was dire, and an attempt must be made, even if it was doomed to failure. So he and Galadriel had come to speak with the new High King, Ereinion son of Fingon.

Truth be told, he was impressed by the young King. Ereinion, called Gil-galad by many of his people, seemed wise beyond his years and lacked the arrogance common to many of Finwë's descendants – even his wife, Celeborn admitted silently. Instead, pride was tempered with wisdom and sorrow, and listening to him, one could easily forget that this was the boy-King who had had the crown forced upon him when he had barely come of age. Furthermore, he was innocent of the Kinslaying that had tainted all his predecessors, and that alone would help endear him to Celeborn's hostile people.

Lost in his thoughts, Celeborn jumped when he realized that he was no longer alone in the garden. Lack of watchfulness shall be your death someday, he scolded himself, and regarded the child that was making its way towards the bench. Celebrían, he thought and smiled to himself. His young daughter had taken well to the new surroundings – he had last seen her playing with a group of Noldorin children, their high-pitched laughter lightening the dark atmosphere of fear and war that was too common these days. He had assumed Galadriel had taken her to bed – why was she still up?

Gil-Estel's light caught the child's hair, and Celeborn froze. That was not the silver hair of his daughter, always tangled and dirtied from the last day's exertions. That was hair gleaming dark as a moonless night, fine like spider-silk, weightlessly shifting with the smallest breeze. Lúthien's hair.

He had heard that Elwing's sons had been found and taken in by Ereinion. He had tried to forget, preferring to ignore the news than remember – remember Thingol, remember Melian… remember Lúthien. He had loved them all, and he had lost them all. He did not want to take that risk again. And besides, he had thought, the children's father was Eärendil, of the line of Fingolfin. One of Finwë's get. And their foster-father had been Maglor, one of the accursed Fëanorians. Surely nothing of his friends remained there?

Yet the child was now in front of him, staring at him. Finwë's cheekbones behind the curtain of Lúthien's hair, mortal hardness mixed with elven beauty, Noldorin-grey eyes with Melian's gleam in them, sitting in the place where the starlight mingled with the darkness. Child of light and shadow

The boy broke the silence. "Are you Celeborn?" he asked, voice elven-fair, husky as a mortal's, yet with something… else in it. Something otherworldly.

Celeborn nodded. "Yes, I am he."

"I am Elrond Eärendilion," the boy said. He seemed uneasy and was fidgeting slightly. Finally he blurted out, "I heard you knew Lúthien."

Celeborn nodded again, more slowly this time as he shut his eyes, trying to fight the memories…

… a young girl, fair beyond comprehension, sitting at her mother's feet …

… "look, Ada! Celeborn has come to play with me!" …

… a maiden dancing in a forest clearing …

… a girl giggling with her silver-haired friend who was blushingly describing his first love …

… "do you wish to marry Artanis then, Celeborn?" …

… "I have fallen in love! His name is Beren, and he is of the Edain." …

… an empty treehouse …

… the Silmaril in Beren's hand …

… "I choose to pass beyond the circles of this world with my love…"

… an beautiful elven-maiden lying cold and dead, eyes staring unseeing at the stars …

"I knew her." Celeborn's voice was hoarse as he recalled his childhood friend, sitting as he was in front of her descendant. The Peredhil's face was Noldorin and Sindarin, Edain and Eldar and Maiar, and yet somehow, although the features were different, although the cheekbones and the eyes were Noldorin, it was her face, her face that looked at him, had once smiled at him, laughed with him…

"Why did she dance?"

Celeborn was dragged out of his thoughts yet again, and he glared at the young child – Elrond, was it not? "Well, I suppose she danced because she liked to dance," he snapped.

Elrond looked skeptical, however. "Did she say so?"

"Well… no… but…" Celeborn groped for an answer. Of course Lúthien had loved to dance, she had always run away to dance under the stars, always wanted to dance as a child rather than play games, dance rather than sing, had met Beren while dancing, everyone knew that Lúthien had loved to dance…

Lúthien had never smiled while dancing.

Celeborn hissed in surprise as the thought came to him. Lúthien had often smiled, often laughed, laughter like silver bells echoing through Menegroth, yet never while dancing

Elrond was watching him unblinkingly.

"So, why do you think she danced?" Celeborn asked wildly, wanting to humor the child, pass off his strange remarks as pure imagination. Elrond had never known Lúthien after all.

The reply chilled him to the core. "I think she tried to dance away the pain."

"What… pain?" Celeborn whispered, although he began to dread the answer. He suddenly wished this child away, this strange, too-perceptive child that reminded him too much of Lúthien, that asked too many questions he did not want to answer, that gave too many answers he did not want to hear. Celeborn wished he had stayed behind with his people and let Galadriel try to arrange the alliance, wished he had not left the meeting in order to find a garden where he could relax, wished he were not here, not on the receiving end of this child's stare.

Actually, Elrond was no longer staring at him.

Instead, the child's eyes were fixed on some distant point that Celeborn could not see, and the words began to flow from his mouth, at first haltingly, then faster and faster. "Maglor… he said that it hurts… we hurt… because the blood of a Maia runs through our veins. He said that it is too strong, too powerful for us to manage, to control, and so it hurts us. It does hurt, you know, it hurts so badly, so badly we just want to scream except that does not help, and the healers do not know what to do…" The child gave Celeborn a scared look, then plunged onwards. "And so we thought, if it is because of the Maiar blood, then Mother and Dior must have hurt too, and Lúthien, just it did not sound as if they hurt in the stories, but Gil-galad said the stories never tell things like that. But we asked Celebrimbor, who saw her, and he said Lúthien did not look as if she hurt, and it hurts too badly to hide, so maybe she didn't hurt, maybe she found some way to make it not hurt… and all the stories say that Lúthien danced, so we wanted to ask you, but Elros could not come because he hurts too badly, so I wondered if you could tell me…" The child's words trailed off and he glanced at Celeborn again, then stared at the ground.

Celeborn's heart went out to the small child as he caught the undertone of pain in the voice, the look in the grey eyes, the small crescent-shaped scars on the palm of each tiny hand. Lúthien's descendant or no, this child was still a child – and was apparently going through something no child should experience.

Catching Elrond's hopeful expression, Celeborn sifted through his early memories, this time more painful ones. Grimaces that marred Lúthien's fair face when she thought no one was looking… a cry of pain he had heard from her chambers one night… a week when Lúthien had been ill – something unheard of for Elves – and Melian and Thingol had seemed very distressed… her lack of appetite every so often… Lúthien's expression while dancing.

"I think you are right," Celeborn said softly. "She always looked so peaceful after she had finished dancing… but she never smiled. She never, ever smiled."

There were tears in Elrond's eyes, and he sniffed. "I am not very good at it, but… do you think it would help if I danced? Would it make the hurt go away?"

Celeborn gathered the small child into his arms, shaking his head sadly. "Elrond," he said, addressing him by name for the first time. "Little one, I think you must find your own way of making the hurt go away."