A/N – Inspired by reading Bejai's 'Deific Flame', and watching too much film noir. A rather dark, slightly AU look at Galadriel's choice between Celeborn and Celebrimbor. Cathartic writing.

The Simple Way

by Sphinx

*********

I love the old way best, the simple way

Of poison, where we too are strong as men.

-------Euripides

*********

"Join me."

It was a voice that still lingered in her memory, a face she could remember; but the eyes, the eyes were exactly the same. Shards of cracked metal they were, glittering under his hooded lids - triumphant, victorious, fey.

"Your Tree Lord will show you the view from the highest branch. I will let you fly from there. Fly, my sweet…"

"Immortal, Artanis?" His hand slipped through her hair. "No. We will be invincible."

He kissed her then, with the flame of his grandfather burning through his body, and she did not resist although the chill of betrayal rushed through her. Her mind shouted treachery, her heart closed its steel doors, and she did not know if it was Fëanor she succumbed to, or Celebrimbor who captivated her.

**************

"The wine is most palatable," Annatar murmured, his sonorous voice twining its way around the words.

Celebrimbor smiled. "There is more."

****************

"Wine?" Celebrimbor offered. He held out the crystal glass in slender, callused hands. He turned to Celeborn, his gaze dark though not unfriendly. "It is a request."

A pause, and Celeborn wordlessly accepted the glass.

Galadriel held out her hand, but Celebrimbor shook his head.

"No," he said, softly. It was a tone meant for secret lover's trysts, and dark whispers in the prevailing, shadowed night. Galadriel shivered. "For you…something else…"

The glass that he pressed into her hand was filled with clear liquid, bright in the firelight. He slipped a hand into the pocket of his tunic, and produced a brilliant green stone – an emerald of some sort, a shard of a larger piece. He turned his back to her, placing the stone on the wooden table in the room, angling it just so that the light caught it. It seemed to exist somewhere else, where there was an expanse of green and white light and haunting melody, a place they could only watch, but never enter.

Celebrimbor caught the nearest hammer, and brought it down on the rock without even taking a laborious breath. It shattered, crystal split, ground into tiny shards, emerald dust rising in the air.

He collected a few pieces in his hand, grinding them unmindful of the small cuts that appeared on his rough palm.

He emptied the sparkling powder into her glass, his fingers lingering longer than necessary against hers, fluttering briefly against the slender knuckles. Then suddenly -

"If you will forgive me," Celebrimbor inclined his head towards the Lady slightly. "I am needed elsewhere."

He glanced at Celeborn, who remained impassive, remote as the mist on a distant mountain. In his heart, in his eyes, and finally on his face, the grandson of Fëanor smiled.

Celebrimbor waited for no polite permission to leave, and walked towards the door with firm, graceful strides, confident that he would gain what his grandfather had sought, but lost.

**************

They were alone. Celeborn raised the cup to her, face hidden by the fall of his steel-bright hair. "To your health." Lifting it to his lips, he smiled faintly.

"No!"

Her cry split the air. It echoed, ricocheting off the walls, returning to shout aloud with every sense in his body, and finally, his mind. 

The rim of the cup was still at his mouth.

"Do not drink it," she whispered, her eyes and heart shut to keep the onslaught of Celeborn's fury out. Her hand stretched towards his, but she did not go to him. Apart they stood, like two pillars of a dying age, bound to protect the same and yet conflicting, both unyielding, both frightening.

His gaze traveled to meet hers, filled with warring emotions, icy contempt and raw pity.

"I was wondering if you would stop me."

Celeborn waited to hear the fall of the crystal, the shattering that came after he dropped the cup from his hands. The wine spread around shards of cracked glass, some of the liquid pooling in the engravings in the floor. His eyes did not move from the crimson spill, following every rivulet as if he sought to find an answer to betrayal in the poison.

So her choice was made. 

**********

Notes : - Mainly sourced from the Unfinished Tales, which goes further than Silm to say that Celebrimbor loved Galadriel, but she chose Celeborn in the end. There are no indications, however, to say that Feanor ever desired Galadriel, other than the canon event that he asked for three strands of her hair and she refused him.