When First We Parted
By Laura L.
NOTE: This is what happens when you read too much of the Silmarillion, especially the parts about Galadriel and Celeborn. Note on names: Galadriel's name was Artanis before it was changed. Celeborn is pronounced keleborn, and his Telerin name is Teleporno, which is somewhat amusing in this day and age. If you are confused by the terms or names in this little epic, please see the end of this part. And YES, I know that Celebrimbor most likely would not have been allowed in Doriath, but, oh well.
Disclaimers: I own none of this, and hail Tolkien as god. I've tried to be as faithful to his vision as possible. I fear the ending is rather sucky, but hope to make it better by a sequel, if this is well received.When First We Parted Being an account of Celeborn and Galadriel's first meeting
Celeborn, grandson of the brother of King Thingol of Doriath, was accounted a prince among his Sindarin people, quiet-spoken, objective and wise. Of his deeds, few were of the heroic nature presumed to be recorded in song, for although he was a warrior when the need arose, Celeborn's skills led him in different directions. Like Thingol, whose blood he shared, Celeborn's nature led him to understand the character of people; he gathered to him those whose talents complimented his own, and through his wisdom, he nurtured relationships with his Sindarin kinsmen who found him to be a shelter in the midst of tempests, the calm voice of reason when blood ran hot.
He was Celeborn the Wise when he was yet young, and of this, Queen Melian, the Maian wife of Thingol, had much to say.
"You are old before your time, Fairest One," she would say to his silent mien and quiet temperament. She made not secret she thought him handsome, and she found pride in him as she did with her many kinsmen. This was no small compliment. So, with much of what she said, she dispensed both slap and caress, calling him "our ancient wise one" alongside "our fairest one."
Of these, Celeborn withstood, for he honored his queen; in her he saw all that was hallowed in Middle-earth, all that was powerful, wise and indomitable. All that was beautiful among women, and implacable.
In the time of the dimming of the Trees in Valinor, there was great disquiet. Thingol fought the Orcs on his borders, and there were rumors of Noldor, exiled from Valinor, who sought their own lands to dominate in Middle-earth. It was a dark time, for no news came from Valinor, and there was an Enemy in the land. Councils were held, and of these Celeborn was rarely privy, for his wisdom did not extend to the unknown.
Then one day, King Thingol summoned Celeborn to council. It was a small meeting; there were no more than twenty elves present when he took his seat next to his forefather's brother, and of these he saw two Noldor for the first time, strangers among his kin, a man and a woman.
The Noldor were Finrod and Artanis. Of Finrod, Celeborn perceived a man representative of the Finarfin-descended Noldor, fair haired and keen-eyed, his skin very light, and his stature tall. Artanis would have been mistaken for one of the Vanyar, by and by, for her hair was thick and a brilliant golden, but she was as tall or taller than any man in the room, and as tall as himself, who was noted for his height. Her eyes were a quick and piercing gray. She was, at first glance, beautiful beyond compare, and at second glance, otherworldly, a light out of Valinor.
As the discussion began, Celeborn learned what had been told in earlier councils; the Noldor had come out of Valinor and sought to settle in Middle-earth. Their numbers, for a traveling race, were not so great but greater than one would think, and Thingol was understandably wary of these princes of the Noldor, who might some day challenge his own rule.
Finrod spoke of kinship. The two were brother and sister, their mother being of the Teleri, Eärwen by name. Eärwen was Thingol's brother's daughter, and by that calculation, Celeborn knew himself to be their distant cousin. Their father, Finarfin, was one of the leaders of their people on their hard journey, and although it was not said, Celeborn could see there was some dissension among their number, a power struggle perhaps between their father and the other princes of the Noldor.
Artanis was low spoken, her voice steady and deeper than most women's, and when she spoke, there was empathic wisdom to her words. She spoke of the crossing into Middle-earth, and of the kin they had lost to the journey, but she did not appeal on behalf of herself or her own grief. She was a proud woman, and it was that strength and pride that had helped her fight untold perils in a journey few women survived. All this he perceived as he observed her, and when her glance met his, she did not look away… until it was finally he who turned his head.
At length Thingol welcomed them as kinsmen, and Celeborn stood by his side to do the same. Of the remaining Noldor, Thingol could not give such a close welcome, but he would endure them in his lands out of respect. This message had already been sent through one of their brothers. He requested Finrod to stay and speak with him. To Artanis, he spoke with respect, and asked that she rest and later meet with Melian, who had taken interest in her plight.
"Nephew," he said, turning to Celeborn (it was a kindness to name the kinship that close when it was farther away and Celeborn recognized its generosity), "would you escort the lady to the houses of hospitality, and grant her any wisdom of the doings of Doriath that she cares to hear?"
To this Celeborn silently assented, for he ascertained that Thingol's true purpose was observation. Celeborn's discernment was legendary. He bowed to the king, and turning, led the Noldorin exile from the room. He caught her side-glance as she watched him pass her through the door, a flicker of something in the eyes that was echoed nowhere else on her still face.
"We do not often have guests, so I hope you will forgive our hastiness in preparing you a place," he apologized, as any good host would, and slowed his pace so that they strode side by side.
"And why does not King Thingol often entertain guests?" she asked, her accented Sindarin even more pronounced than in the council. Of course, she would speak Quenya, the speech of Valinor. He was momentarily fascinated by such a thought. Although it was a written language every elf knew, it had not been spoken in centuries in Middle-earth, save by scholars.
"In defense of the realm, the queen created the Girdle, a barrier that keeps all strangers out of Doriath. These are hard times and dark days. It is hard to know whom to trust." Perhaps that was too pointed.
But the lady merely nodded thoughtfully. "Dark days; yes indeed. Are you, truly, the king's nephew?"
He only returned the question. "Do you doubt it?"
But she did not answer to that. "You have the look," she said after a moment, "of no man I ever beheld in Valinor. Familiar, but not. You are aptly named."
Melian had often said the same. His name derived from the Tree of Tol Eressëa, meaning "tree of silver," but the name applied to an elf had a different connotation, "orn" meaning not only tree, but tall. It was a name that even King Thingol said one had to "grow into," for it was a hero's name at best, an impressive descriptor at worst, for his long silver hair had been cultivated to his waist and shone a rare pale silver.
"I do not know the answer to that," he said instead. "I will be as I was meant to be, nothing more."
"That is the wisest answer," she said. "You are the king's counselor, then."
They had come upon the houses of hospitality, and the women of those houses came forward to welcome the Noldorin lady, thankfully ending a conversation that both confused and delighted Celeborn. He took her hand and bowed over it carefully, and he could feel that perceptive glance study him again, patient and powerful.
"My thanks, Lord," she said, and let the ladies lead her away, leaving him disoriented and elated by the absolute unpredictability of such a woman. He knew now that all others had been within his scope of understanding, but this woman was not.
He returned straight-ways to Thingol and related the conversation word by word. Thingol laughed, interpreting Artanis's comment on Celeborn's name as a subtle compliment to his kinsman. "What power do you wield over these great ladies, Kinsman, with your blue eyes and silver hair? I would learn that secret. Now this Noldorin lady…nay, Vanyar more than Noldor. She has that look in her eyes, fine as a blade made of mithril but as deep as the mountains where such metal is mined. She knew you were my counselor all along."
"Then she knew more than I," Celeborn murmured and Thingol smiled, taking his arm and ordering drink with the other.
"There is some hidden purpose to this immigration, do you think?" the king asked, at the heart of the matter.
"Not a purpose, but a cause that is not being told…some disaster, some grief beyond the dimming of the Trees. When she spoke to you earlier of their journey, I could see it. There is a division within the Noldorin exiles, and she knows the cause; she is close to it."
"Her father, Finarfin. Yes."
"And an old hatred for the others. Perhaps it is best that she and her kin are welcomed into Doriath; we can learn these secrets soon enough and postpone any violence among their camp in one show of generosity. There is nothing to lose and much to gain."
Thingol agreed to this. "She is not one to speak of anything so dear, this lady."
"Not to either of us," Celeborn replied. "Your lady might find victory in that quarter where we might be unsuccessful."
Thingol smiled at that. "And if all else fails, we shall wield your secret power over ladies as a final resort."
And then it was a matter of drinking wine and comradeship, and for a while Celeborn forgot the strange confusion he had felt in the lady's presence.
"These great ladies" as Thingol was fond of calling them, were predictably suited to one another as companions, but it was astonishing to see them together as these elf-women would walk together in the gardens, or sit together by the fire.
Melian's hair was the blackest night, sleek as a bird's wing, straight as a fletched feather. Her oval face was fair and lovely, glowing pale against the darkness of her hair. Lashes as dark as pitch framed eyes of the palest and most delicate green. Her features were soft and subtle, everything that was silk and flowers, and there was an earthy girlishness about her that never diminished, although she was older and more powerful than any lord or lady of the Sindar. She wore the colors of the earth, weaving blossoms in her hair.
Next to her, Artanis was a tall, athletic figure, her waving golden hair with its undertones of silver shining about her. Her face was neither lovely nor girlish; she was a woman of undiminished beauty so piercing and direct, it was no wonder the Sindar bowed at her passing. Her carriage was never hesitant, her glance never shy. And yet her speech was always courteous, her words always measured. Like many of the Noldor, she favored white and silver, a soft layering that enhanced her golden coloring.
When their eyes met over the table or by accident across the room, Celeborn could feel that she measured him and yet he never felt condemned, just appraised. Melian had once said that Artanis's gift was that of "seeing truly," that the Noldorin woman could judge people with little study or art, and that she could often foretell the immediate future. He wondered if he was being judged in this manner when Artanis looked at him, or if she saw something of his future with her gray eyes.
He observed her studies in the libraries of Menegroth, of the allies she made and the judgments she imparted, and was convinced she was most unsuitably named. Artanis meant "noble woman," and was by Melian's account the name given by her father. Something was missing in that name. From that moment he began to think on this riddle, his mind would review his Quenya knowledge, transposing possible names from that older language to Sindarin and back, thinking she deserved an exquisite name, although he was not the one to give it, being neither kin nor husband.
It was in the beginning stages of planning the ambitious layout of Nargothrond that Celebrimbor was invited to add his craft to Finrod's efforts. Thingol had softened only a little on his mandate of Noldorin exclusion, but Celebrimbor's genius often opened doors for him. When Galadriel's brother came to visit, he brought with him the Elven smith, and fantastic gifts from his forge enough to buy a fortnight in Doriath. Thingol had one chief weakness, and it was for the types of jewelry only the silver-handed Noldor and the elusive Naugrim had the art to produce.
"I pity any man who loves her," the Elven smith said one night, as the household sat down to singing and the telling of tales. Celeborn and he had been striking up an acquaintance born of similar names and, Celeborn suspected, a love of beautiful things. His eyes followed the smith's, to see Artanis in deep talk with her brother, her head bent. "Or worse, any man she loves."
Celeborn had already heard many rumors, born of the lady's beauty and manner, which the animosity between herself and Fëanor's Noldorin brethren was that of thwarted passion, but he could not account for it in her speech about those princes of her people. Celebrimbor was another rumored suitor, and that was more likely, for the craftsman had a keener and more possessive eye for beauty.
Celeborn merely glanced askance, waiting for an explanation.
"Fëanor once asked the lady for three tresses of hair, because he found them surpassing in brilliance and wished to reproduce their brilliancy in the light of gems. A fair compliment to a maiden, do you suppose?"
But he already knew the answer to that one, for he knew the lady well enough. "She refused him."
"Yes. Spurned lovers…a cold lady."
Was it that she was so very cold, or that she burned brighter than those around her and could not find the complimentary fire? He wondered.
They had barely spoken since the first day. Chance sometimes placed them together in the same company, and small words were exchanged, usually common pleasantries. Once, in the library, she had come upon him reading out of the histories and they had spoken of language and language variation for a full half hour before Celeborn realized that Artanis had been speaking Quenya, and so had he, lured by her voice. She had seemed somewhat thankful for the language she could only speak to her brothers.
But always was that suspicion that she withheld something from them, and always he knew she saw him as Thingol's eyes, ever watching for clues to something that could not be overtly asked.
The many years passed as if a night and a day in this fashion. With the counsel of Thingol, Finrod began a great work with the Naugrim of the Blue Mountains, carving himself the kingdom of Nargothrond, and making many treasures by his own hand. Many of his kin and their allies followed him into this place and swore fealty to Finrod.
There, too, Artanis was welcomed, but she seemed content to keep to Melian's side, and many saw that the Noldorin woman seemed to be watching and waiting, and learning the arts of ruling. It was easily seen that the proud woman would someday seek a kingdom of her own, but for now she was happy to learn from her friend. There were rumors, too, of a secret lover she did not wish to leave, but of this man there was never a sign, and Celeborn assigned these whisperings to speculation and did not think on them.
There were uprisings of Orcs that were to be met and averted, and this the Noldor and Thingol did, being alert to changes in the land. Celeborn was sent now and then into these sorties, for his marksmanship with the bow was no small matter, and he was named Thingol's Ear, his chief counselor. But in general it was a peaceful life, and Celeborn only now and then would find himself tormented by the one woman he could not understand, for both of them being favorites of the queen, they were much in each others' company as the years passed. He took to studying her, perplexed by her silence, and in this way learned her mannerisms little by little.
Then one day, the queen bid him attend her, and with her was Artanis. At once he saw that something was greatly amiss. Both women were pale, but Artanis only looked to her hands and would not speak. He was much confused, for Artanis's brothers were within Menegroth, and he thought that she would be light hearted and glad, as she often was at such visits.
Melian gave him her hand and bid him sit. "Fairest One," she said gravely, "I have much need of your counsel, and to you I give this trust. What I tell you today, you must not speak of to my husband. Leave that to me, for I greatly fear his anger."
Celeborn felt dread then, and glanced to Artanis, but the Noldor would not look at him.
And then Celeborn first learned the great secret of the Noldorin immigration, that Fëanor and his sons had slain the mariners of the Teleri, and taken their ships out of Valinor. Of all these Noldor, only Finarfin's descendants had no hand in the kin slaying, Finarfin's wife being herself Teleri. Artanis's father had spoken against Fëanor, and in retribution, he and his people had been abandoned by Fëanor to make their way by foot into Middle-earth, following to avenge this injustice. By the time they had made their journey, Fëanor was slain, and his sons were quick to make peace, but Finarfin and his folk never forgave the evil done in Valinor.
"Of these matters, long has Artanis been silent," Melian said, turning a pitying eye on her friend, "as have all the Noldor. She has at length told me of the Silmarils, and Morgoth's murder of Finwë ere the dimming of the Trees, but of this other horror she could only say she could not council me. But word has come from Círdan of dark whisperings of the deeds of the Noldor, and the reasons for their departure, and I fear Thingol's anger at this silence."
Then Melian rose and took Celeborn aside from the table, her eyes still on Artanis. "There was much wrong done to Finarfin's folk, and of it Artanis can hardly speak, but she fears Thingol's wrath greatly and your anger, most of all. She knows you discerned she kept secrets that she would not tell, and holds you in high esteem. Be kind to her, Fair One, and merciful." And there she left him, going to Thingol before he heard the news from other sources.
Finally Artanis raised her head and looked at him, and what she saw in his face brought a little color back to hers.
"I am sorry for your suffering," he at last said, "but do not fear my anger; this secret was not yours alone, nor were you in a position to reveal it."
At this she nodded but said nothing. At last she said: "I feared my kinsmen would banish me from Doriath, and for love of…Melian and my friends, I was selfish and kept my silence. I still fear it, but the truth is out, and I rather the king knew Finarfin's truths, than someone else's."
"Finarfin's truths are the harshest of all," he said, for now he understood that it was Finarfin's kin who died on the journey from Valinor, and not Fëanor's who had taken the Teleri's ships. Fëanor had left Artanis and her kin to wander through fire and ice, and only because her father counseled against Fëanor's rash temper. Artanis had seen her mother's kin unjustly slain, and had known a crueler exile.
"I still can barely speak on it," she replied, and passed a hand over her eyes, to which he had no wise reply.
"You are a friend of Celebrimbor," she said after a long silence.
He could not comprehend the logic that had taken her there, but he replied: "Sometimes." At her questioning glance, he added: "He has a resentful nature, and we disagree on many subjects."
"I had not known you were acquainted," she said, and then he understood.
"He did not say, but I reckoned you refused him," he said, in the most delicate way he could think of without being obtuse. At her surprised look, he said: "He was somewhat bitter and said things I would not repeat for my life. Celebrimbor is not accustomed to works of art refusing him; it was singularly novel."
It drew a startled smile from her, and she stood, looking out of the window. He followed and looked, too, to see several elves preparing mounts in the courtyard below, and he recognized the insignia on bridles of the horses. Artanis's brothers were leaving. He turned his head and met Artanis's frank gaze. "It begins," she said, sadly, and sighed.
They remained side by side in silence until she said: "I told him I loved another. It was perhaps the wrong road to take."
And thus he understood the rumors, and the true maliciousness of Celebrimbor. "I see." And his heart seemed to still and grow cold, and he was surprised by his own despair.
She looked at him, and the sorrow remained in her gray eyes. "Do you?" At his confusion, she turned away and watched the courtyard. "It was the truth when I said it, and true still, though he does not know."
He stared at her in wonder, and his heart lightened a little. He was ashamed by his own lack of charity for this marvel of men she loved, but could not find it in himself to wish him well. "Do you doubt him?"
"No, I doubt myself, and my own heart. Tell me, Thingol's Ear, do the Sindar have ways of courtship I would not know? For Melian says not, but I have wondered…"
Of this subject, too little could not be said, for Celeborn knew nothing of courtship, and heat came to his face.
"You have borne the queen's teasing in silence," she said with evident wonder, "as she calls you fair and wise beyond years, and says you are young, and yet I've never seen embarrassment sit on your face until now."
"I am not one to consult in this," he said quickly.
"Because you are a man and I a woman? But you know I speak plainer than any man; it is my greatest fault."
"No," he said to both, "but because I …" Her eyes were on him, and he almost faltered. "…know little of courtship."
At this, there was plain amazement in her face, and then it settled to understanding, and then to sympathy. "Melian's Fair One…not know the joys of courtship? I see now."
Again they fell to silence, where he was allowed to settle his embarrassment a little, and she evidently was rethinking on some subject, for her brow was furrowed. At last she said: "Melian said once that you were diffident, but I take all the men of the Sindar to be shy to my own estimation, and I thought little on it, thinking there were other reasons."
She had caught his attention. "Other reasons?" he echoed.
But she did not answer. "How then, in your heart, would you express yourself to a woman you loved?"
He shook his head. "I do not know that I could."
"And so the counselor cannot counsel himself? There is a certain irony in that." She sighed. "And the woman who loved you? Would she be forward in…"
But Celeborn was already shaking his head, and retreating to the table. "Lady, this conversation…" It was dreadful. He had never thought himself a coward until this moment, for he wished he could retreat and not hear any more, nor think about it.
"Oh, I am truly sorry." And here he turned to look at her, for her tone was all bitterness. "I have let my anxiety rule my actions, and have said what I should not have, but I fear…"
A knock sounded at the door, and Celeborn, sharing a glance with Artanis, bid the supplicant enter.
It was Thingol's messenger, who seemed startled to see them standing almost side-by-side. "Lord, King Thingol summons you to council within the hour."
Celeborn nodded, and turning to Artanis, felt his whole heart slowly sink, for she had sat down and with blank eyes, stared at the table, her golden hair falling all about her face.
"Lady," he said.
"This is what I feared, that I shall be exiled again from all that I love, but this exile will not be the willing Exile of Valinor…"
"Lady, if you ask my counsel, I would tell you to follow your heart; that is where all counsel leads."
She took a deep breath, and it shivered from her, and he knew she wept. "He will be most surprised," she said, and a broken laugh escaped her, so that he had to stand at the window with his back to her, for he did not want to see her leave, or to see brief joy written in her. His heart felt as heavy as a stone. He had no hope. No man of sense would refuse her or abandon her in her time of need.
And still there was silence, until finally and reluctantly he turned to find her standing and watching him, that watchful and patient look he was accustomed to seeing from her. Had she changed her mind? But her face told him nothing, until she smiled, and went to take his hands in her own.
"My lord," she said and the warmth in her voice utterly smote him. He could not look her in the face and see what he anticipated: the face of a friend, thankful of well-given advice, a look he had often cherished in the past, but now dreaded. "Can you not love me? Is my suit so hopeless?"
That was when Celeborn, kinsman of Thingol, knew that Artanis of the Noldor loved him, and was amazed and dumbfounded. In that moment, he knew he doubted that such a marvel should be, and he not know it.
When he managed to speak, it came out threadbare, a whisper. "How is this possible?"
"I do not know," she said, and some of her dignity seemed to fall from her; she seemed confused. "I do not know how it is possible, only that it is true. More true than any other feeling. You are wise, and you are fair. You are Celeborn…and that is why."
He stared at her, her gray eyes so light in the wash of sunlight that he thought he could see into her. What did she see in return, a placid, over-cool Sindarin prince, too pretty for his own good, too obscure for hers? What could possibly be of worth to such a woman, whose ambitions were surely higher than his? Wisdom and beauty not withstanding, he had too often been told his tendency to avoid positions of authority would place him eternally in the shadows. And here was a woman deserving of a king, binding herself to him with her words.
None of this did he know, but he knew one thing. She might not have ever said anything, if only for the timing, and knowing that her stay might be at an end.
He realized… "You have been waiting."
She closed her eyes. "I have, for I could not tell…I have had a hundred suitors, and still I could not tell."
It had been said more than once that he was too quiet, too reticent, a cool face and a colder look, the warmth reserved for his friends. This manner had allowed him to observe and not be observed himself, and he had never quite regretted it, until now.
"Will you not answer?" she murmured.
Could he love her? How could he not? Not until this moment did he understand that he, too, had been waiting, and the folly was that they each might have waited longer still, wondering of the other.
"I do not know how it could be or why you should love me," he said slowly, "but ay, I can." And at her questing look and tightening hands, he added: "I do."
A little breath escaped her, and loosening one of their joined hands, she raised it, brushing a butterfly-light touch across his cheek. "Celeborn," she said, but she could have said "beloved"; the tone was that intimate.
He found he could smile even as he wished to weep; the feelings were too strong either way. "I must confess, I have renamed you too often in my thoughts, and I knew it was a lover's prerogative, but I could not help myself."
Her eyes glinted appreciatively and her fingers caressed against his cheekbone. "What name have you given me?" she breathed, and the eager light in her eyes grew.
"I thought of it in Sindarin, but you are more accustomed to Quenya, are you not, as your other names? Alatariel in Telerin, or Altariel in the Quenya, if you prefer."
She smiled then, and repeated, savoring: "Altariel…woman crowned with brilliance…" Her smile deepened. "Ah, but I speak Sindarin now here in Middle-earth, and will put Quenya behind me by and by. It is a beautiful name in Sindarin, is it not?"
"Ah, it is." He closed his eyes, feeling her touch and the unseen warmth of her approval. "Galadriel."
"It is a beautiful name," she whispered. "I shall be Galadriel, and put aside my childhood names. Alas, I cannot improve upon yours, for you are without dispute tall and silver, and I much prefer your Sindarin name to the Telerin, which I find more formal and less graceful."
He had to laugh. "Celeborn you prefer, and Celeborn I will be."
A touch against his lips and he opened his eyes to find her fingers tracing them every so lightly. "Lady."
"Galadriel," she corrected patiently, with a hint of merriment.
"Galadriel," he willingly complied, entranced by that light touch.
"I find myself having selfish thoughts," she said softly. "I am strangely grateful that no woman nor man has courted you. However, I wonder at the good sense of the Sindar, that they have not been tempted by you. But I shall not reprove your people when they leave the best for me."
He could feel the color flood into his cheeks and she chuckled. "Wonders of wonders, this blushing, and all for me."
A sound intruded, imparting that they were no longer alone. Galadriel let drop her hand, but they still clasped each other's.
"So at last the waiting has ended," said Melian from the doorway, and glided through in a brush of airy green silk.
Celeborn struggled not to blush anew, perceiving that the queen must have known this would happen far in advance. She was, after all, the wisest woman he knew.
"But glad though I am at this happy event, I am the bringer of ill news."
Galadriel nodded, but Celeborn only pressed her hand. "The king is angry."
"He is, and has had strong words with your brothers already. The slaughter of the Teleri…yes, it has quickened his temper that the truth was not told by Fingolfin, king of the Noldor. Have no fear, he shall not repudiate you or yours, for he knows you are blameless in those acts and have suffered for your father's honor. But, for this time…"
Celeborn felt the shock in his heart, and looked to Galadriel. Her eyes were sad, but the sadness was tempered by the revelations of the last hour, and he could see that she would endure. "I will go to Nargothrond and my brothers," she said.
"His ire shall pass, my friend," the queen comforted. "Rest assured." A gentle glance at Celeborn. "Although this parting is ill-timed in other matters, I think it will end happily."
The elf lord closed his eyes until Galadriel's voice brought him to himself. "Celeborn?"
"I do not wish to be parted from you so soon," he told her, "but I know the wisdom of it, even if my heart rebels."
"There will be many such partings for us, I fear," she said sadly, "but we shall always find each other; that I know."
He caught her in his arms, amazed at his own desperation. "Galadriel," he murmured against hair, they said, the color of the blessed Trees, co-mingled.
"Will you come to me in Nargothrond?" she breathed against his ear. "For I think I shall not pass a day without thinking on you. Thingol will need you, but will you come when you may?"
"I will," he answered. "I hope we shall never be parted long." He kissed her softly, inhaling the warmth of her, the softness over a core of strength. He did not care if she would think him hasty. The swift progression of confessions after such a long wait seemed to pardon an understanding that came swifter to most of their brethren.
Elven courtship was, one Naugrim once told Finrod (who had shared it with his friends in Menegroth), a slow dance in which generations of kingdoms rose and fell. Finrod had laughingly added that he had not the heart to inform this particular Naugrim that although Elvish courtship was very slow, Elvish dalliance was not. Casual lovers touched and parted in a blink of the eye for most of their race, until the essential mate was found. In both respects Celeborn's reticence had been unusual, for he had no taste for dalliance and no experience of courtship.
Of course, he did not know how Galadriel's life had progressed before her exile to Middle-earth, but he had watched her carefully in the court of Doriath, where it was remarked that there was never a sign that she had ever taken a lover, or if she had, she was remarkably undemonstrative. Of courting, she never began that serious dance until this day, he was sure.
He wondered, suddenly, how long she had waited, how many years, for it was nigh on eighty years since her arrival in Doriath, from that first meeting. He wondered how long he had deceived himself in this regard. Was it possible he had loved her all along?
"Come to me at Nargothrond," she said, kissing him lightly in return, her arms tightly wound about his ribs. "You will have such welcome as they will lay down in song, and there I shall convince you of all the reasons you should cleave to me."
And that was their first parting.
First draft: December 29, 2001
Revision: August 12, 2002
Doriath in the land of Beleriand (in Middle-earth):
Thingol: king, Sindar
Melian: queen, Maian (elder race)
Celeborn: Thingol's brother's grandson; later, Galadriel's husband
Celebrimbor: Elf smith and lord, admirer of Galadriel, grandson of Fëanor
Menegroth: the caves that were carved in Doriath, where Thingol rules
Girdle: spell that Melian erected to keep enemies out of Doriath
Naugrim: the race of dwarves
Nargothrond: an underground realm carved by Finrod and the Naugrim
Exiles of Valinor (the blessed realm in the west):
Noldor: one tribe of elves of Valinor
Teleri: one tribe of elves of Valinor, related to the Sindar
Artanis: later known as Galadriel, daughter of Finarfin and Eärwen (who was related to Thingol)
Fëanor: Galadriel's half-uncle, maker of the Silmarils and leader of the rebellion in Valinor, that resulted in the slaying of many Teleri, and Exile to Middle-earth
Fingolfin: Fëanor's eldest half-brother, King of the Noldor in Beleriand
Finarfin: Fëanor's half-brother, father of Galadriel, Finrod and others
Quenya and Telerin were used almost exclusively in Valinor.
Sindarin, related to Telerin, was used in Middle-earth.