A/N: Before I begin this story, I must note that the nature of this tale made it necessary for me to settle on one of the many conflicting histories of Galadriel and Celeborn. I've done something with their family rarely explored within the fandom, but I decided that six pages of pre-story author's notes explaining myself was insane. If you are interested in canonical justification, please see my essay "A Wandering History," kindly hosted by Marnie at www. elfringham. dsl. pipex. com/ lotrfic / wandering. html
(ff net hates web pages. Copy the above, paste into your browser, and take out the extra spaces I had to add to trick ff net)
Summary: From the second age of Middle Earth to the third, few of the elders of the elves remain to guide the young. Still, relics of an ancient world exist, for good and ill. Divine banes return in a blaze of revolution, betrayal, war, balrog, death, and the cruel indifference of the Valar. Yet there may be tempering strength in a refiner's fire. Featuring Galadriel, Celeborn, and Amroth -- their son.
"[A]t length [Sauron] persuaded them to revolt against Galadriel and Celeborn and to seize power in Eregion . . . Galadriel thereupon left Eregion and passed through Khazad-dûm to Lórinand, taking with her Amroth and Celebrían; but Celeborn . . . remained behind in Eregion, disregarded by Celebrimbor."
--The Unfinished Tales
Chapter 1: Eregion
A hooded elf pushed his way into the crowded pavilion, in from the pouring rain that had forced the crowd behind closed doors. There were too many people for the space, and they filled the room with steam that misted off their wet bodies, billowing in the torchlight before disappearing, adding to the sheen of sweat and fear and passion that glittered upon upraised brows. It condensed on collars and hems, pooled damply on backs and chests, and did nothing to cool the heat of the Eldar inflamed. Men and mortals would not have recognized them, but would have crept away fearing, thinking that some howling force had possessed their gentle souls. They would have been right.
Despite the humid heat, the newcomer did not lower his hood, but murmured soft apologies until he had flattened himself against the back wall. The elf he stopped beside turned his eyes fractionally toward him. "It goes ill," he murmured to his cloaked friend. "Be prepared for anything this night."
At the front of the room, a tall elf paced back and forth, his face flushed with the effort of persuasion. His voice rasped; he had been speaking too long, but had no power to stop. Fervent, proud, gifted -- he did not know that in voice and gesture he much resembled his grandfather, Fëanor the Great, Fëanor the Cursed. It might have given him pause, had he stopped to think on it, but Celebrimbor would not have been swayed from his cause. He raised one hand, calming the uproar.
"Friends!" he called out. "Friends! Friends! Hear me! We must ask them to step aside!"
"Treason!" a heckler called from the crowd.
"No!" Celebrimbor answered, and before he could continue, "Kinslaying!" another called.
"No!" Celebrimbor roared. "No! Not kinslaying! We will convince them, if they will hear us, or we will force them, if we must, but no one shall be hurt! Yet Celeborn and Galadriel must step aside!" He plowed through the murmur that swept the crowd.
"It is our duty to do this; are we not free? Do they not rule by our consent? We have suffered their burdens on our freedom. We have borne with patience their unreasonableness. We have allowed them to be the puppets of a distant king, to dangle us upon the whims of Lindon. They are relics of a time long past, foisting their fear and paranoid upon our bright futures! It is a new age, and we no longer consent! It is our right, our duty to throw off these chains, and to provide a new order for our reborn world! Such has been our patience, but no more!"
Shouts echoed from the walls, of yea, and nay, of grievances, of anger, and few people entirely agreed with one another. For a moment, pandemonium ruled, and some few pockets of younger elves scuffled, dodging gesturing hands and stabbing fingers.
"Friends!" Celebrimbor cried again, and raised his voice, the veins in his neck and face straining in his effort. "Do you need proof? You have seen it, but I will give it to you! They put burdens on our friends, the dwarves, tariffs on trade, infringe passage between our realms. They demand, in these times of peace, that our sons and our daughters learn the ways of war. They breathe lies about Annatar, our dear ally, who has ever sought nothing but knowledge and friendship! They mock our craft! This morning I received this edict from Celeborn: we are not to finish the rings! He has said that he will withhold the wood for our forges and the tools of our craft. We uphold this realm by our sweat and toil, and they DARE to constrain us! It is beyond our tolerance!"
"Yes!" someone cried, and Celebrimbor smiled faintly.
"It is beyond our patience!"
"Yes!" more joined.
"My friends, we do not have to bear this!" he thundered, finding his cadence. "Must we bear this?"
"Must we bow?"
"We NEED NOT submit! We NEED NOT surrender! We NEED NOT bow to their tyranny!"
From the back of the room, a powerful voice cried out over the din. "Fools!" The speaker was an ancient elf, his fair face marred by the scars of battle and suffering. He was a Sindar of Doriath, one of few remaining, and one who had walked the world before the sun, one of few in the room.
Many of the faces that turned to him in surprise were terribly young. They were the world of elves rebuilt, the children of the survivors of wrath, the progeny of the few who had refused the call of the Valar. The elves prospered again in Middle Earth, but there were too few elders -- fearful indeed that Gil-galad and Elrond, who lived only after Doriath had died -- were now called aged.
"There are none yet living who fought evil in the depths of time as they have fought!" the ancient one continued. Ancient, though he himself was much younger than the rulers of the realm. "Celeborn is the last of the generals before the moon, the very fist of Elu Thingol. He stood against orc and dragon and flame, and yet stands! And Galadriel is the student of Melian; where she decrees the way is shut, none can pass but by her will! We shall wish they were our friends when the darkness descends again."
Celebrimbor began to answer, but Annatar, who had thus far been sitting placidly behind Celebrimbor, leapt to his feet, his eyes blazing in the amber violence of the first sunrise. "Have you so little faith?" he cried, his fair, godly face drawn in righteous grief. He looked about him, and there were tears on his cheeks. "What need have you for war-lords and kings? The Valar, aye, the very Valar themselves condescended to this world and cleansed it! Did not they destroy evil? Did not they come? And why? For the love of Iluvatar's children, ungrateful though you are! Have you so little faith?"
He fell silent, and no one dared to stir, to murmur, so great was Annatar's sorrow. He sat suddenly and passed his hands before his eyes. "You have heard Celeborn speak against the Valar," he whispered into the silence, not looking up from behind his hand. "You have heard his disdain. 'Where were the Valar when the Sindar were dying?' he has asked, and 'little good they did us, sinking our world to the sea,' he has said. And Galadriel! Galadriel! The Valar have long wept for her. Heresy falls from both their lips." He looked up and caught many eyes; it seemed he opened himself to the roots of his soul.
"You have heard them speak against me," he continued, more quietly still, and all in the room were caught in his whispered breaths. "The very servant of our gods. I have allowed it; I am not greater than the Valar, and it is my joy to suffer injustices in their name. But I can stand by no longer."
He stood again, shakily, as one who rises from his deathbed for some desperate purpose. Celebrimbor reached out to steady him, and murmured in his ear.
"Nay, Celebrimbor, I am fine," he said weakly, and brushed him off with a frail gesture. Then he straightened his shoulders and lifted his chin, his eyes agonized. "I cannot stand by because of what they take from you. They rob you of the gift of the Valar. The Valar desire you balm your hearts and live in peace; Galadriel and Celeborn tear your hearts open with words of war. The Valar gave you the freedom to choose your destiny; at every turn Galadriel and Celeborn impose their will. The Valar instilled the poetic joy of creation in your hands! Galadriel and Celeborn . . ." Annatar bowed his head mournfully. "What do they know of the beauty of creation? For they have never made anything beautiful; all they touch turns to ash."
From the front row, one elf shook his head, dazed. " . . . children," he said hoarsely, and cleared his throat. Then the elf narrowed his eyes and summoned the strength to overcome the spell of Annatar's performance. "Their children are the fruits of their love. The value and beauty of what they have created together has rarely been matched in all of Arda."
Annatar pinned the elf with a disdainful stare, then shook his head in disbelief. "Mark me well," he said slowly, as one invoking the weight of foresight. "Fair the children might be, but flawed. Their hearts will fail them both before the end. I have declared it, and it will be."
At the back of the room, the cloaked stranger stiffened. "Steady on, lad," his friend said, catching his wrist. "You've heard enough. Come." And they pushed out of the room as Celebrimbor began pacing and calling again. There were no naysayers now to interrupt him.
Once outside, the cloaked elf swept back his hood and lifted his face to the heavens. The rain cascaded across his brow, washing away his sweat, but not his tension.
Amroth he would be called in later days. The Up-climber, the Tree-dweller, King of Lórien of the East, a lover, a dreamer -- but ultimately a shadowy legend preserved with sorrow in elven hymn. As yet, however, he was none of these. Rather, he bore the name given him at his birth: Galadaran, to honor his mother and shape the destiny his parents hoped for him.
He was a young lord, not yet into his first millennium, fair and valiant and fey. In form he took more after his mother, the gold of the Vanyar rather than the silver of the Teleri. But though his eyes reflected her coloring, they did not burn with the same light. In that he was like his father, for, though not lit with divinity, they were both possessed by the intractable, discordant spirit of the land. That howling force was older, far older than a reflection of departed light, and on some days, more difficult to control.
"You were right, Calandil," he said, his voice shaking. "What do we do?"
But before his companion could answer, the din in the pavilion behind them crested, unhinged, and broke free. Elves poured from the cramped room, a roaring wave of anger, swords drawn and glittering in the night. Heading toward the great hall at Ost-in-Edhil, where the lord and lady presided.
"Run, Galadaran!" Calandil cried, before himself dashing into the darkness.
He crashed into the room, soaked from the rain, his chest heaving. "Stay here, Celebrían!" he roared, his hands unsteady as he threw back the lid of his trunk and fumbled for the weapons inside. He ignored the armor; there was no time. A sword, a knife. Bow? No, for any blood drawn this night would be from within an arm's reach of death. He strapped his sword to his side and clenched his fists, unsuccessfully questing for calm. He released a breath and pulled Gal-narthan from its sheath. Light's Beacon it was, firm and strong in his palm, and he breathed a prayer over it that they would not need to spill elven blood this day. Then he prayed again that if need was dire, that it -- that he -- would hold true.
"Galadaran!" his sister cried, fearing now as she sprang to her feet. "What has happened?"
"The inevitable," he answered shortly. "Celebrimbor is leading a revolt."
Her eyes widened as her face paled. Then she straightened her shoulders and reached for her own blade.
"Nay, tithen thêl," her brother said, catching her hand. "Stay here, do you understand? Yes? Tell me that you do."
She grimaced and looked at him, beseeching. He was unmoved, and she nodded. "I understand." He held her gaze a moment longer, his grim countenance reflecting their collective fear. Then he nodded firmly and disappeared into the night.
After a moment of hesitation, Celebrían collected her sword and followed. She was, after all, also the child of Celeborn and Galadriel.
A commotion at the back of the room started Celebrimbor, and he turned as the ornate door splintered inward into the crowd of armed smiths.
"Back traitors!" a voice cried. "Back, in the name of your oaths!" Before Celebrimbor could call out, one of his supporters heaved forward, sword glittering in the light of torch and flame. The cry of blade on blade startled the unruly crowd into silence, and in some eyes he saw indecision, for the sound of warring swords in their peaceful land is not what they wanted. They were not above menace and threats, but they wished no death this night. While few had participated in the kinslaying atrocities of the last age, many remembered the haunted lives of their fathers.
Some stepped back from the intruder for that reason, and others upon seeing a second blade at the door-- Calandil of Doriath. And a third -- the Lady Celebrían.
"I will not do this in front of the children," one of the smiths murmured. But others stepped forward, intent, menacing.
"Hold!" Celebrimbor cried out.
"Nay," said a musical voice beside him. "Let them see this. They should see this."
"Annatar," Celebrimbor chastised, his voice low and surprised. "No!" he said, raising his voice. "Keep the Lady Celebrían out. She is not to see this; she is not to be harmed." He was grateful to see two elves step forward and take her bodily in hand. They escorted her out of the room with as much care as they could, despite her vigorous protests.
But with a growl of anger Galadaran shoved forward through the crowd, and it reluctantly gave way to him until his broke free of it at the base of a dais where his parents stood, Annatar and Celebrimbor before them.
"Celebrimbor," he said, voice ugly with anger, "what in all of Arda are you doing?"
Celebrimbor coolly drew his sword and took a step -- not forward toward the boy who had once worshipped him, but back, toward the dais.
"Drop your sword, Galadaran," he said mildly. But Galadaran grasped it more tightly and moved to step forward. Celebrimbor swiftly brought his blade to bear against the Lord of Eregion, the point even with Celeborn's heart.
"Drop it," he said sharply. "Forgive me, lady," he continued quietly, shifting his attention to the fair being at Celeborn's side, "but I will do it." And he raised his eyes to meet Galadriel's. Betrayal he had expected. Disgust, even fear. But though her hands were clenched and every line of her body vibrated in rage, in her eyes held only resigned weariness, as if he had done at last what she always had expected him to do. It unsettled him, and his sword-hand trembled for a moment, unsure. But beside him Annatar nodded in almost imperceptible approval, and Celebrimbor snapped his eyes to the lord at the end of his sword. "I will do it," he said again, firmly.
"Peace, Celebrimbor," Celeborn said, and raised his hands, placating, diplomatic. Coldly in control, as if a glittering blade had not already drawn a thin line of blood where it pressed against his chest. "Galadaran, I thank you, but lower your sword."
Galadaran grimaced, his face reflecting the pride of his youth and his heritage. But he was the son of the Wise and bowed to his father, the last who would do so in Eregion. "As you wish," he said, and, after slipping the weapon back into its scabbard with a crisp hiss, folded his hands behind his back, his fair face as still as stone.
Celeborn inhaled deeply, invoking the calm wrought by uncounted hours of meditation. It was his only sign of internal turmoil, but in the quite corners of his mind, Celebrimbor regretted the necessity of what he had inflicted. For the ever-unflappable Celeborn to show even this smallest sign of agitation was significant indeed. The source of his dread only served to deepen Celebrimbor's dismay, for he knew that Celeborn did not fear for himself, but for Galadriel, for Galadaran, for Celebrían.
"There is no need to do this," Celeborn continued quietly, and, though he did not so much as glance at it wife or his son, it was clear that his words were not entirely for his enemies. The anger suddenly went out of Galadriel, and she stepped forward to place her hand on Celebrimbor's.
"We will step aside," she said, her voice low and humiliated as she held his gaze. Celebrimbor lifted his chin and narrowed his eyes, searching for the truth, for this was not a Galadriel he had expected. If not for the rightness of his cause, he would have wept for what he had done. He dropped his eyes first, his face lined with sudden sorrow.
"Thank you," he said, and abruptly lowered the sword. Galadriel closed her eyes and breathed out a silent note of relief -- a prayer of gratitude to Elbereth. There was more love for Celeborn in that soft sigh than the fondest gaze she had ever gifted Celebrimbor, and he felt as if a sword's thrust could not have pierced him deeper.
"Well," Annatar intoned smoothly, "I am so glad we were able to avoid any … unpleasantness."
Celebrimbor glanced at his friend. "Indeed," he said, recovering himself, but not swiftly enough to drown out the echo of insincerity that rolled through Annatar's pronouncement. He shook his head once, dismissing what he had heard as a figment of the tension in the room, for surely Annatar had not wished the Lord and Lady dead.
Annatar delicately threaded his fingers and brought them to his lips. "Well, then …" he began, but Galadriel turned away. The would-be rebels who had backed Celebrimbor parted in guilty respect has she passed through. If any had hoped to catch her eye, he was disappointed, for she walked as if the wide room was empty. Galadaran passed likewise, but Celeborn held each gaze until it dropped.
continuing . . .
Next chapter: Galadaran gets a new name, Eregion falls, Elrond isn't very helpful, the refugees are trapped, and, much to his dismay, the dwarves come to Celeborn's rescue.
While none of the characters belong to me, Calandil, doesn't belong to Tolkien either. He is entirely the creation of Marnie, who graciously let me borrow him. He was with Celeborn in the first age, as explained in Marnie's "Oak and Willow," and meets his end defending Lothlorien in the third age in a particularly moving section of "Battle of the Golden Wood." His presence here is my bow to Marnie. Her stories define my perception of both Celeborn and Galadriel, her friendship inspired this story, and her prodding made it so.
Though you will not find the name "Galadaran" anywhere in canon, he does belong to Tolkien. Just in case I've been too obtuse: Galadaran is Amroth, and for purposes of this story, I have adopted Tolkien's theory of his parentage that makes him the son and oldest child of Celeborn and Galadriel.
I've done two things in this story that are potentially offensive. First, I've invoked the name of religion for evil purposes. I am myself quite a devout member of my own faith, and respect the power of all religion for good. Nevertheless, I recognize that it can be and has been used for evil purposes, and am exploring that here. I should also note that I loosely based Celebrimbor's speech on the United States' Declaration of Independence. It seemed an appropriate model for a revolution, but as a citizen of the United States and a student of its laws, I must hasten to say that my use of that document here does nothing to diminish my respect for it.