Written for the Remix Challenge on the LOTR_Community_GenFic . Done with the permission of Dawn Felagund, author of "The Ghost in the Garden"
In her heart, he puzzled her. Disappointed her. Frightened her, for again she had reason to fear: that he might die and choose not her road, and they would be sundered forever. In her heart, she wondered at the wisdom of a marriage between Sinda and Noldo. But her fingers curled and found his cheek; her palm lifted his chin. Her lips met his, and she felt him smile. No, she thought. This must be right.
"The Ghost in the Garden" by Dawn Felagund
Home. How many meanings one word could have, the variances and emotions associated with it changing with tone, place, time. The home of her heart had changed several times in her lifetime, to settle finally in one person rather than a place. Celeborn. Husband, friend, lover, counselor. For so long now he had been a constant, a shining lodestone in her soul
that pointed the true way home.
He shook his head, and took her hand. His thumb traced over her golden rings, and the ring that had bound her so long in this place. "You are weary."
Not a question. They both knew what it had taken from her, how it had bound her, this duty. "As are you."
She was being stubborn, not wanting to give up. Such a Galadriel trait. "You cannot remain."
And he would not leave. Such was the stuff of their conversations since the destruction of the One Ring. Love was not in doubt. They had been bound for thousands of years, through the destruction of his home, wars, the deaths of king and cousins, and so much more. None of that had torn them apart, even if they had parted at times.
Galadriel was weary. Her burden was done, her way cleared to return to Aman, to her family, to Celebrían. The journey that had begun so long ago on a long march across the ice was now complete and yet, her heart was torn. A fear, so old, a memory of a butterfly and her adar telling her about life and death, Galadriel lifted her hand to Celeborn's face. "You will follow, eventually."
And there was the uncertainty again. He could not tell her he would follow.
There was no turning back once she took the ship west. No rebellion or exile, not this time. Galadriel looked into his eyes, so bright, almost as if he had come over the sea, and let her sadness and fear show. Fear that he would never follow, that he would fade and die here in the east, that he would never leave the woodlands and mountains. "I would not have you be a mist, Celeborn, taking maidens in gardens unaware to admire their golden tresses."
"I wonder what became of Uirvoron," Celeborn mused. "When the sea swallowed the lands."
"Or his love." She could not recall the name from the tale he had told her so long ago in the gardens of Doriath. Only that she had been lost while waiting for Thingol, and found later, a thrall of Melkor. "There would be nothing for them now but Mandos."
"Would he have them after all that time? After refusing the call and turning away yet again, would your Valar be so forgiving?"
Your Valar. Even though he had seen the Powers in the War of Wrath, the Valar in their terrible, shining glory, come finally to war again with Melkor, even though he had spoken with them, Celeborn had no great love for the lands west or their lords. Many of their people in Lothlorien had felt much the same, and even now refused to leave. "So much has changed."
Celeborn loosed her hands. "I would say he is a sea mist now, haunting the sails and decks of those who go to sea. A voice in the mist. Cirdan's folk talk of such as do the humans."
It disturbed her, to think of a fëa still roaming, lost and lonely, abandoned by love and homeland. Forsaken and forsaking everything for what? A memory? A hope of reunion? "To cling to one thing for so long."
"Time is likely not the same for them."
Galadriel stood and looked westward, where the sea and beyond it, beyond the confines of Middle-earth, lay awaiting those who would come. "You fear a fence. A boundary that would forever keep you."
This was an old argument. One neither could persuade the other to cede. He stood and lightly brushed his fingers across her hair as he stepped away. "Perhaps."
And he was gone, stepping into the woods to blend with the golden Mallyrn and birch. Thingol had warned them that a union between Sinda and Noldo would not be easy, that they were fundamentally different. Five years he had made them wait to be wed, five years to discover if the differences would prove too much. At times she had doubted, and worried that indeed they should not be together. Worried that her Noldor blood, her family line, rife with troubled souls and an abundancy of woes they had visited up on Middle-earth, would be too much. Worried that the madness that had taken her uncle and his sons would also steal her wits and make her yearn for power.
She had passed that test with the One Ring and earned the right to go home.
Had Thingol foreseen this? His nephews deep love for the lands, his home, being a barrier that would forever sunder them? Had he not seen such in his own marriage to a Maia? Did he even now reside in Mandos, or was he too one of those mists upon the waves searching in vain for lost Doriath?
Pulling her cloak around her, Galadriel stood and walked slowly back towards their talan, her mind full of questions and fears that would not be crossed off like items on a list, or ignored.
So much had already been said over weeks, months, years since the One Ring had been destroyed and Galadriel had been released from her duties as a ring bearer. Theirs had never been an easy partnership, for neither of them was simple and yet it endured. Thrived. Galadriel looked at Celeborn and even after thousands of years, after the loss of home, of their daughter, after so many challenges that had come against them, and she still would choose him again.
He caught a long strand of her golden hair as the wind tossed it around her shoulders and let it curl around his finger. "You are quiet, my love."
Galadriel looked out at the Grey Havens, at the waves washing against the quays and white ship that awaited her, and could not smile. "One thing I ask of you, Celeborn."
"Just one? He smiled and let go the curl to touch her face, and caressed it gently. "Even now you seek to take up burdens that are not your own."
"Tell me you will follow."
He was silent, gazing into her eyes, seeing once again the young, proud Noldo maiden who had not feared to cross the grinding ice, nor to take up a ring of power against a fearsome enemy. She had faced so much without him, and yet the greatest fear was here, between them.
"Celeborn. She grabbed his wrist and her grip was not that of a gentle woman, but the grip of a fighter, a warrior who does not let go so easily of that which is beloved. "I can not bear to go and leave you here without knowing if I will wait for naught."
Curling his fingers around hers, he brought that fierce hand to his lips. Kissed it and held her gaze. "I will not follow yet, my love."
"You will follow eventually."
To the land of her birth, the land she called home. Where family awaited her.
Where Celebrían also waited.
It was not his home and never had been. He had heard the summons after the War of Wrath, and felt the tug against his being, but it had been easy to ignore. The pull of this land, of his love and his life here was stronger than a summons by the Powers. Even now, standing in the pines above the harbour, with the waves blown in by playful winds, the seagulls crying and diving, with the heaviness of his heart that was Galadriel leaving, Celeborn felt no sea longing. No pull on his fëa to sail west and be in the Undying Lands of his people.
Would it be different once she was there? The bond between them was strong as mithril and gleamed as brightly in his heart. If anything could call him home, it would be Galadriel. Home to a place he had never been and never wanted to go. Gaze tangling with hers, he nodded. "I cannot say when, but eventually I will grow weary and long to look upon you again, to hold you in my arms and feel your heart beat with mine. That I can promise, Galadriel, my golden queen. You will be the beacon that draws me westward to a land strange to me, but there, with you, I will make my home and call your people mine."
Just as she had done for him.
She leaned into him, against him, until her forehead touched his, until their breaths mingled. Taking comfort in each others presence. Galadriel reached up to caress his face, the strong brow, the silver eyebrows over bright eyes, so fierce and so tender. "Our daughter and I will await you." Fingers touched his chin and their lips met and mingled. "Do not make me wait overly long."
Adamant as always. Strong and beautiful. Yes, he would miss her but oh...reunions were sweet as well. Celeborn smiled and kissed the tips of her fingers. "No longer than I must."
"Do you think that a fëa, lost before the sinking of Beleriand, could find its way to Mandos now, Elrond? Standing in the prow of the ship, hand against the proudly arched neck of the white swan, Galadriel looked out into the endless darkness where stars shone like polished jewels. "Without the music to pull it across this boundless stretch, without knowing it would be welcome or knowing anything about this place?"
Lost in his own thoughts, Elrond drew in a long breath and turned to face Galadriel. "A homeless one lost so long without looking for another host?"
"Not all of them desire a body, at least any body." Galadriel remembered the cold touch of the spirit, the dark eyes, so haunted and lonely. She met Elrond's gaze. "In any of your reading have you ever come across what becomes of those who were thralls to Melkor?"
Elrond was quiet for a time, spirit and soul seeking forward as if that alone would part the darkness through which they sailed. The timbers creaked, and the sails snapped as if there was truly wind and sea. Cirdan's sailors seemed to think naught of it, clambering about the rigging as they had when truly upon water. "Thralls they were, and none of it of their choosing. Much of Arda was tainted by Melkor, much of what sank was too broken for mending." He looked over to Frodo, who stood with Gandalf. Some wounds never did heal. But Gandalf had died, truly died and been returned. Glorfindel had as well. What other examples did Elrond need to know the abilities of the Powers were beyond what the Elves understood? "And yet, Námo holds us in entirety, fëa and hröa, to present us when the time is ripe, to an uncorrupted body and a renewed mind." Brushing a dark braid back, he arched an eyebrow. "I think we judge ourselves and others far more harshly than the Doomsman of the Valar."
She gave no reply, but turned her attention forward. Who could truly say what was before them? The Elves saw only shadows of what had been. They faded and fled Middle-earth.
Who could say but maybe those who chose to remain and not heed Námo's call might someday be reunited with those they loved.
If not for that hope, why cling to existence?
It was unlike any ship that had sailed from the Grey Harbor. Círdan snorted and crossed his arms, clearly not impressed with the skills of the shipwright. Was the mast listing a bit to one side? The sails a bit askew and not set to catch the wind? There was no swan's head to guide the path and yet the white ship was most certainly of Elven make and what other type of ship could hope to make the journey to Aman? He intended to ask just as soon as the ship docked. "Let's hope they know how to bring her in gently or we'll have a swimming party rather than a welcoming."
Elrond, standing between the Shipwright and his wife, did not bother to hide a smile. "T'is a nice day at least."
"It would be a shame after making a fuss about us wearing our best clothing."
Elrohir snorted at the droll comment, and elbowed his twin. "A swim would only mean new formal clothing, brother. Possibly more fitted."
"Naneth." Celebrían slid her hand around her mother's arm, squeezing it. "What is the mist that clings to the sails?"
Indeed there was a cloud of mist playing through the rigging and sails of the simple ship, moving merrily around the figures on the deck though they seemed to take no notice.
Galadriel took one step forward, eyes on one figure at the prow whose silver hair whipped around him. Celeborn. Her heart had known it was him, but her mind, ever worrying problems like a bone, had demanded more evidence.
"Naneth. An indulgent smile for her own husband and Celebrían leaned into her mother. "It is adar, is it not?"
Standing behind Celeborn, just at his shoulder, who was that? He looked familiar, vaguely, as if she had seen him in some dream. The ship drew closer and Galadriel drew in a breath. "Uirvoron."
"Who?" Celebrían had never heard the name.
Smiling at her daughter, Galadriel squeezed her hand. "He died long before you were born. I thought him lost for all time."
Well-used to cryptic conversations, Celebrían just nodded. In time she would be told and if not, well, perhaps she just didn't need to know.
The ship was slowing, sails dropped, as they came closer and Galadriel laughed as Celeborn waved, and waved back.
"Looks like he won't ram the docks after all." Círdan caught a rope tossed to him and began to pull, along with others, guiding the ship to her berth.
Then Celeborn was leaping off the ship, and had his arms around Galadriel as if he would never again let her be parted and the quay was noisy with those celebrating the arrival of the newcomers.
High above, almost blending into the blue, blue sky, the white mists began to peel away from the ship, floating upwards to linger a moment as if watching the reunion. Dark, dark eyes, no longer haunted watched the golden-haired woman and the silver-haired man for a moment then the form, a misty, elf-shaped figure, turned to the golden-haired form of mist next to him. An ethereal smile, there and gone, a chime of laughter and they rose higher and higher before disappearing.