Author's Notes: I'm working on a very different sequel to 'The Boy King', but during an online discussion, it occurred to me that it might be interesting to write about Gil-galad as Tolkien created him - the hero who never married and failed to produce an heir (we shall ignore the slashy undertones of his relationship with Elrond). When Finch asked for a birthday fic in which elves adhered without exception to the 'Laws and Customs of the Eldar', I thought my little plot bunny would fit. I've broken the story into two chapters due to length.

This fic assumes Gil-galad as the son of Orodreth, that Elrond and Elros were raised to adulthood by Maglor and fought in the War of Wrath, that Amras was killed at Losgar and that Celeborn and Galadriel began the Second Age in Harlindon. [1] I've also borrowed Finch's idea that Finrod and Amárië were secretly bonded before he left Aman (though this fic departs somewhat from the story as Finch envisioned it). [2] I've set Celebrian's birth around 420 Second Age, though she probably was not born until later in the Second Age, most likely in Ost-in-Edhil. [3]

Disclaimer: All characters belong to Tolkien with the exception of a few minor OCs. Translations of Elvish (Sindarin, unless otherwise noted) and additional notes are at the end of the chapter.

Happy birthday, Finch! And I did manage to get Finrod to make a nude cameo.

Celebrian

109 Third Age

"Galu dín o glass a mîl anno Eru nan-mbar hen," Celeborn intoned, placing his daughter's hand in that of her betrothed. "And," he continued, with a conspiratorial wink, "may your bed bless the parents of the bride with many grandchildren." [4]

"Adar!" Celebrian laughed, as her blushing husband leaned forward to seal the ceremony with a chaste kiss. "And you need not look so scandalized, Elrond Peredhel," she said into his ear. "You are as eager as I am to bid goodnight to our guests and get on with the business of begetting such children."

Elrond relaxed, resting an arm comfortably about her waist as they mingled in the crowd of well-wishers. He could not later recall any of this folk, for he had eyes only for the cascade of silver and gold curls of his wife. His wife…he had waited nearly an age to call her by this title, and even now, he could not entirely rid himself of a sense of disloyalty, even treason.

'I trust you will find your heart again in the Houses of Mandos, Tauren,' he offered in silent prayer, his eyes looking West toward those shadowy halls. [5]

Laer, 520 Second Age

Galadriel lay still, careful not to disturb her husband's dreams, wishing her own would come to relieve her disquiet. At last, she reconciled herself to wakefulness and rose to peer from the window. The servants had extinguished the colorful lanterns - Celebrian's work - that lit the garden at night, and now walked the paths of their own dreams. The garden lay in darkness, but it did not sleep - crickets sang their serenades to one another, birds of the night hunted, calling to their mates. Sharp elven eyes could just pick out a fox in the underbrush. The lady smiled to herself. Arda marred, indeed! She could almost imagine herself looking upon the Garden of Lórien, so peaceful was this scene.

Still, she felt a chill as she let herself into the night, though the flagstones under her feet retained the warmth of the sun. The chill came from her heart, from the same uneasiness that kept her from her dreams. Her feet, as if guided by a spirit wiser than her own, brought her to the still water of her mirror. In the grief of Thingol's death, Melian had made certain of two treasures before withdrawing her power and presence from Doriath: the Silmaril she placed in the safekeeping of unhappy Mablung, and her mirror she gave to Galadriel. The Maia trusted that the lady's wisdom would recognize it as a tool of great power, a tool not to be used injudiciously. Galadriel had not disappointed her mentor; the mirror saw sparing use. There were things to come, she knew, that the elves were not meant to foresee - things they were not meant to change, for to do so would bring disharmony to the music of Ilúvatar's creation.

The lady knew her mirror would bring no comfort to her worried mind. From the decanter, water flowed in a black stream under the faint light of Ithil's waning crescent, and the mirror rippled, images passing over its surface. She saw herself in Doriath, charmed by a Sindarin lord. She saw Finrod's lips form a silent question: "Are you sure?" The currents shifted, revealing something new, yet long past: two elves, their unclothed bodies curled together amid tangled sheets. She recognized her father's house in Tirion, and gasped at a half-finished sculpture, surrounded by dust cloths and tools. The sculpture would never be completed. The mirror conjured an image of her daughter, her face wreathed in sorrow as she boarded a white ship; the mirror placed her daughter on the moor, alone as her heart poured out its regret. The scene darkened as woodland replaced the moor, and Celebrian's face faded into that of Aredhel.

A moment before the water grew still, she caught a fleeting image, lips moving in a bitter oath. 'Brother, what are you trying to tell me? What warning do you bring?' She stared at the mirror's inscrutable surface. ''Oh, Finrod," she whispered. She understood, now, the guilt that had driven her brother to predict his doom. Galadriel winced, hearing again her intrusive question, her thoughtless words and Finrod's fateful response. No, not thoughtless - Finrod had chosen to keep his secret from her.

The impulse that had bound Finrod to Amárië would not, she was certain, bring lasting sorrow to the lovers. Her brother would be rehoused and return to his wife, and their love would overcome Finrod's desertion. Desire of the hroa had bound them, but their fëar had already become one.

She knew, now, why the mirror had summoned her daughter.

~~~~~

The summer had been inordinately hot in the Noldorin capital. Gil-galad had taken to spending his nights on a couch in his library. Uncomfortable as he found these accommodations - for the couch fell well short of his tall frame - he preferred them to his chambers on the third level of Minas Silivren. Ordinarily, Forlond knew cool summers and bitter winters, when icy winds from the northern seas whipped across the unprotected cliffs of Forlindon without mercy. Such harsh conditions troubled the Noldor but little - were they not the people who crossed the Helcaraxë and guarded the frigid lands of the Leaguer of Angband? [6]

Gil-galad's companion had come of age in the green meadows and pleasant weather of Harlindon. Warm waters from the south caressed the western shore and kept that region much more temperate than its twin headland to the north. Consequently, Celebrian thought the warm night pleasant and suggested a walk. Once out of the stone walls and cobbled streets of the city, Gil-galad saw the wisdom of the maid, for the air cooled and a gentle breeze rustled in the heather and short, stunted trees of this inhospitable land. They lay now on a cushion of moor grass, engaged in that favorite pastime of the elves, observation of the stars. To the Firstborn, the lights of Varda are neither a vast array of light, nor, as to the more discerning among men, mere constellations. Nay, to the elf, each star is unique. Ithil had cloaked himself in darkness this night, and the stars seemed especially bright against the ink-black curtain drawn across the sky.

While the dome of Varda captured Celebrian's eyes, Gil-galad's attention had turned to another subject that brought him great pleasure. Oh, he had resisted the maid's wiles, held himself distant and aloof, when she came to Minas Silivren to study with Pengolodh. He had reckoned without the pressing impetus of youth, for he had long put that age behind him. Indeed, he wondered if he had ever been so innocent. The trauma of his family's death and, not many years later, his ascension to High King had forced him to confront more sober matters than courting.

Celebrian, in the bloom of her maidenhood and with all of its attendant desires, had made up her mind to force the High King's cool defenses, and in this it may be said that much of the mother had passed to the daughter. Repeated assaults left his battlements confused and in disarray, and he had succumbed at last to her not inconsiderable charms. Their courtship had worn away his remaining reservations and Gil-galad now found the thought of a year's betrothal almost unendurable, for long-suppressed passions proved impatient with the necessary formalities.

Galadriel and Celeborn, seeing further than most of their race, had wisely waited to bear their child. Celebrian had known only peace and love in her short years. No shadow of sorrow darkened her eyes or belabored her brow with weariness. A tendril of hair strayed in the wind across that brow, and Gil-galad moved to brush it away, that it not hide any part of the maid's lovely face.

She met the bright eyes of her courtier with something other than tenderness. She traced the fine Noldorin features, her fingertip running from cheekbone to jaw, eventually coming to his lips. He took her hand in his and kissed her fingers reverently. With the impatience of youth, Celebrian snaked her free arm around his neck and met his lips with hers, wanting more than mere adulation. Catching fire from her passion, her suitor stroked the thin material of her summer dress where it stretched taught over her breasts. Frustrated, she drew him closer, feeling the hard evidence of his awakened passion against her leg.

With a sigh of regret, Gil-galad disentangled himself. Were they elves of less lofty birth, their coupling with only Varda as witness might raise a few eyebrows. It would never do, however, for the High King to bind himself to the daughter of Galadriel on a lonely heath. "If we do not return to the city, I fear we shall have much to explain to your formidable mother," he said, sitting up.

Celebrian smiled ruefully. "These partings grow more arduous each night," she admitted. She brushed grass from her hair and dress, her eyes looking east, avoiding the gaze of the other elf. "There is a light over the city. I wonder what that could be."

"That is the dawn," Gil-galad answered with an amused groan. "We have outlasted the night, melethen." He hoped Galadriel had retired early; he had been caught once already at a disadvantage and did not want to repeat the previous evening's confrontation. [7]

~~~~~

"I trust your better judgment has stayed you from rash and irrevocable actions?"

Gil-galad girded his temper, irritated with the Golden Lady's tone and her intrusion into his private library. His kinswoman never forgot her place as the granddaughter of Finwë. By her sex, she had been cheated of the crown and made subject to her much younger Moriquende kinsman, and Gil-galad sensed Galadriel's resentment. "Galadriel, let us not play games with words. What is your meaning?" [8]

"Think, son of Orodreth. Your father loved the Valar even as he followed us from Aman. Surely he taught the Laws in his house."

"She is yet a maid, if that is what you ask. I intend to ask for her hand." He did not look away from her eyes, curious to see her response.

Galadriel kept her face carefully neutral, but felt pity in her heart. "Tread cautiously, Gil-galad. Rarely does the hroa of the Firstborn lead in place of the fëa. Yet such has been the case before among the descendants of Finwë." Desires of the body, she knew, were especially hard for the young to deny. 'And for the not-so-young,' she thought, recalling her brother and unhappy cousin. This bonding, she felt, would be disastrous.

~~~~~

Gil-galad considered the last words he had said to Galadriel, turning them over in his mind. It was time he spoke of his intentions to Celebrian, though he could not rid himself of the doubt that niggled at his mind. The lovers hurried back to the palace, meeting no one save the guards at the tower's doors. The younger of the pair greeted the lovers impassively. "Good evening, Tauren, Brennilen." [9]

The more ancient of the guards noted the bits of gorse still clinging to their clothes, and his eyes crinkled with amusement. "Nay, Moebeth, 'good morn' is more appropriate."

The High King attempted a censorial glance, but could only manage rather sheepishly raised eyebrows. Celebrian winked at the older guard as they passed through the doors, and he had to stifle a laugh. 'That one would bring some fire to these cold halls,' the elf thought admiringly.

As they reached Celebrian's rooms, Gil-galad put a light hand on her arm as he nervously ordered his words, speaking more formally than was his wont.

"Brennilen, I become fodder for amusement in my own palace. Such a thing can be remedied only with your help." He had a sudden certainty that she would refuse him. "It is my wish to make a bond of our love." He passed his hand nervously through his hair, straining to keep his feet still in the interminable seconds that passed between the two elves.

Celebrian stared at the floor, avoiding the High King's hopeful eyes. "I will not say no, but I must have time to consider this. It is more than I expected, and too grave a decision to make without consulting my heart."

"Of course," Gil-galad answered too quickly, hoping that he gave the impression he had expected nothing more.

Still, Celebrian heard the quiver of disappointment in his voice. Closing the door to her rooms, she felt relief at this physical barrier between them. She sank weakly into a sofa in her dressing room. She knew she should be elated…but she felt nothing.

"This is not what I wanted at all."

"Sell nín?" [10]

Celebrian made a face. She loved her mother, but at times Galadriel had the momentum of a boulder crashing down a hill - one either removed oneself from her path, or waited to be crushed.

"Your walks with the King grow later." Galadriel came from the sitting room, still fully dressed, a book in her hand.

"Naneth, I am hardly a child, to be told when I might go out and who I might see. What brings you here from Harlond, and why are you skulking around the palace in the middle of the night? Gil-galad said that you visited him last night, late, yet I see nothing of you until now."

"I expected you much earlier." Galadriel sat down next to her daughter, sensing the maid's anger, and underneath it, distress. "Peace, Celebrian. I come not to scold you for late night outings - you are indeed too old for that, though they perhaps explain the unfavorable reports from Hîr Pengolodh. [11]

"Oh, Pengolodh!" Celebrian said crossly. "I believe he has taken a dislike to me and deliberately seeks out the most obscure passages for translation." Her mother insisted that she continue her studies, though she acknowledged that Celebrian's interests lay elsewhere. As for Pengolodh, the loremaster had long ago wed himself to his books, and had little patience for elf-maids with more interest in kisses than Quenya.

Galadriel refused to be diverted from the concerns that had brought her to Minas Silivren. "I am worried, Celebrian, that you may act too hastily in your liaison with the King."

"Speak frankly, Naneth. You are jealous, and as you cannot have his crown, he will not have your jewel. I am surprised," Celebrian added with a tinge of bitterness, unable to halt this flow of words, "for if you cannot be Queen, would it not be convenient to have a grandson as the King's heir?"

The lady stood, wounded more than her daughter knew. "Do you think so little of me, that I would trade my daughter's happiness for selfish ambition? My jewel, indeed - you are more precious to me than any crown. It is your chance for happiness that warns me against your marriage to the King."

Celebrian felt tears sting her eyes. Her words smarted like bile in her throat. Still, her stubborn will rebelled against her mother's interference. "It is not for you to decide. Gil-galad has asked for my hand. I intend to accept."

~~~~~

The betrothal ceremony seemed but a dream to Celebrian. They exchanged rings, spoke their intentions before their families. Celebrian looked at the face of the elf to whom she was to be bonded until Arda be unmade and saw love she could not return. Her mother had been right to treat her as a child, for she had behaved as a child. Gil-galad, innocent of any wrongdoing, would be hurt most by her folly. She could not be so cruel.

Firith, 520 Second Age

Gohíniel came originally from Amrod's folk, those who had roamed with him in the forests of East Beleriand. They held allegiance to none but their lord, and when Amrod at last joined his brother in the Houses of Mandos, they turned in fury upon the host of Maedhros. Those who survived had managed to make peace with the folk on Balar. Gohíniel alone remained with the Fëanorians, for she was a healer and they had need of her. "A healer cares little whether the patient is friend or foe - he is only someone in pain," she explained to Elrond.

She taught him what she knew, though she could not instruct him in the cultivation of herbs and other plants necessary to their trade. Those final years of the Elder Days had seen the folk of Maedhros and Maglor constantly on the move to evade the enemy, for they had no longer sufficient number to challenge Morgoth's servants. As they retreated ever closer to the Ered Luin, they remained in no place long enough to sow a garden.

Celebrian, however, knew a great deal about gardening - her father attributed her love for green things to the Lasgalen branch of his family - and she had obtained a patch of the kitchen gardens in which to putter about in her spare time. Even now, with Pengolodh and Gil-galad competing for her attention, she found time to work her little plot of land. Indeed, the garden brought more ease to her troubled mind than either of those elves.

The elf-maid cut a swathe of goldenrod and handed the bundle to Elrond. "It seems to me that there should be more to love, and I fear that he feels something I do not share."

"You love him, but you are not in love," Elrond suggested, glancing at the elf-maid. Valar, she was lovely. He found unreasonable happiness in her nearness, and he would be content merely to sit in the glow of her presence for hours. She was not for him, he reminded himself. It would never do to fall in love with the betrothed of his dearest friend.

Celebrian stopped. "Not precisely. I find him attractive. And when I am with him, there are things I want - these feelings I have - but no more."

"You are attracted to him."

Celebrian nodded emphatically, kneeling in the dirt to collect a sprig of thyme. "He is beautiful, and Elbereth help me, but my flesh would cleave to him. Yet I do not love him." She added her clipping to Elrond's burden, hiding a smile as she saw the bookish Peredhel redden at her confession.

In truth, part of Elrond's embarrassment arose from his own unchaste thoughts. He had seen her grow from an elf-child into the voluptuous beauty of maidenhood: tall and well endowed with the physical gifts of her sex, with a sturdy frame she might have inherited from either of her parents. He could smell the violets she had twisted into her hair, and though he tried to avert his eyes, he could not help but admire her creamy white cleavage as she moved about her tasks.

His heart soared with her revelation. He had long held his feelings in check, acting as confidant and friend to Celebrian, though his fëa cried out in protest when he saw her with the King. Yet her words only complicated the matter. This marriage would lock her forever into a bond for which she was not meant, but to warn her of this would betray his friend and sovereign.

"Perhaps you should tell him the truth, rather than deceive him and defraud your heart." The words had a sour taste as he said them. Celebrian thought him impartial; his King trusted him as he trusted no other. He dealt falsely with both his friends.

~~~~~

The afternoon passed in session with the King's Council. By the time tea was served, Gil-galad had forsaken his chair to stand by the window. His advisors were accustomed to his apparent inattention and simply droned on. From time to time, the High King proved that he listened with at least one ear, interjecting a question or settling a dispute. Elrond took his tea to stand by his friend, glancing out the window at the growing gloom.

"I am bored out of my skull," Gil-galad confided in a whisper. "They speak only to hear themselves talk, and cannot even summon creative insults in their quarrels."

Elrond laughed under his breath. "Shall we adjourn for the evening?"

"Aye - tell them the High King will defenestrate the entire council if he is made to hear one more soliloquy on the rising cost of granite." He saw a rare look of deviltry on Elrond's face and quickly amended, "Valar, do not say that!"

Elrond raised an elegant eyebrow and turned to speak to the council. "We will continue this discussion on…the fascinating subject of granite tomorrow. The High King must hear more details before he can make a decision."

Gil-galad groaned as they descended the stairs. "That windbag will research his precious granite until dawn in preparation for the next meeting. I will not forget this treachery, Elrond." The Peredhel winced, reminded suddenly of Celebrian's dilemma.

In the King's library, the two elves would handle the real work of the day - endless paperwork and correspondence. A servant had already come and gone, leaving behind her a cheery fire and brightly burning lamps. On a side table, a covered plate held a light supper of cheese and fruit, and a flagon of wine waited on the cool windowsill. The servant had stacked the day's messages on the desk. She had not been the last to enter the room, however. A white ribbon lay across the papers.

Elrond swallowed hard as his eyes followed the length of the ribbon to its attachment - a ring of mithril. Under the ring lay a note:

"I regret, but I cannot."



[1] 'This fic assumes…'
Gil-galad as the son of Orodreth: The Peoples of Middle-Earth, 'The Shibboleth of Fëanor';

Elrond and Elros raised to adulthood by Maglor: implied by The Silmarillion - if love and respect grew between Maglor and the boys, you would assume he had them for more than a few years;

fought in the War of Wrath: in LOTR, Elrond states that he saw the breaking of Thangorodrim;

Amras was killed at Losgar: The Peoples of Middle-Earth, 'The Shibboleth of Fëanor';

Celeborn and Galadriel began the Second Age in Harlindon: LOTR, 'Tale of Years'.

[2] '…Finch's idea that Finrod and Amárië were secretly bonded...'
Ref: 'Saying Farewell', ff.net storyid=729087

[3] '…Celebrian's birth around 420 Second Age…'
As far as I know, Tolkien's only hint about Celebrian's birth and birthplace comes from Unfinished Tales, 'The History of Galadriel and Celeborn'. There, he states that Elrond first met Celebrian at Imladris, shortly after the War of the Elves and Sauron. We do know Elrond's whereabouts in the Second Age - he was in Forlond until Gil-galad sent him to the aid of Ost-in-Edhil in 1695. Thus, Celebrian could not have been in Forlond during this time.

This particular passage places Celeborn and Galadriel in Ost-in-Edhil until about 1400, when the Mírdain revolted against them and Galadriel went to Lórinand with Celebrian. We also know that early in the Second Age, Celeborn and Galadriel dwelt in Harlindon, and it seems rather likely that Elrond would have met Celebrian during this time. Thus, based on this passage of UT, we can guess that Celebrian was born in Ost-in-Edhil between 750 and 1200 (before Sauron contacted the elves). (ref. pp 246-251, pub. Ballantine/Del Rey)

There are, however, some real problems with this passage in UT, as it contradicts LOTR in some places and in others incorporates details later abandoned by Tolkien (for example, in this version, Amroth is still the son of Galadriel and Celeborn). I've actually set Celebrian's birth around the date given for Amroth's birth, and it has some merit - if elves did not breed in troubled times and Sauron was already stirring in 500, we can suppose they might have had their only child during that short period when it seemed evil had really been purged from ME.

[4] "Galu dín o glass a mîl anno Eru nan-mbar hen"
"May Eru bless this house with much happiness and love" (lit. 'Blessing[s] of joy and love [may] Eru give to this home").

[5] Tauren
My [High] King

[6] Minas Silivren
White-shining Tower - we know almost nothing about Forlond, but it seemed to me that Gil-galad would build a tower for his palace, given Noldorin fondness for towers and his early childhood at Minas Tirith.

[7] melethen
my love

[8] Moriquende
presumably the singular of Moriquendi, Dark Elves (Q)

[9] Brennilen
My Lady

[10] Sell nín?
My daughter?

[11] Hîr
Lord