Heart In Chains
“I advise against confronting Galadriel head on,” said Celeborn, who had seated himself and was watching Elrond pace. Erestor was in the adjoining room, enjoying a refreshing bath. He had chosen this moment to address the matter, because Erestor couldn’t hear them right now.
Elrond shook his head. “I really want to tell her what I think of her actions.” The anger he felt demanded to be acknowledged and needed a way out. “What she did was wrong!”
Celeborn sighed. “I have tried to reason with her, but she is stubborn. At times, I wonder what happened to make her this… cold. She was not like that when we got married.” Those had been much happier times.
Elrond drew in a deep breath. “Celeborn, I plan on leaving Lothlorien this very evening. Erestor is strong enough to travel short distances and we will rest regularly. But… I want to visit my sons’ tomb first.”
Celeborn nodded in understanding. “Elladan and Elrohir actually made a bold, but logical suggestion.” Seeing Elrond’s arched eyebrow, he explained, “Shortly, they will ask your permission to move the tomb to Imladris. That way Erestor can still go to the tomb to mourn and the children’s remains would not stay here in Lothlorien where Erestor has suffered so much.”
Before Elrond had the chance to express his opinion in this matter, Erestor answered for him. “I think it is a good idea.”
Erestor, clothed in a warm shirt, green leggings and leather boots joined them. His hair was damp and he still looked fragile, but it was obvious he was growing stronger again. He certainly felt strong enough to take part in this conversation. “I would love to take them to Imladris, but… is that not too much work?” His big eyes settled on Elrond, hoping the half-Elf would do this for him.
“We will manage,” said Elrond reassuringly. “And now come here.” Once Erestor came to a stand still beside him, he wrapped an arm protectively around his lover’s waist. “Do you want to visit the tomb now or later?”
“Now.” Erestor knew Elrond wanted to leave after that visit and he was eager to return to Imladris, where his daughter was waiting for him.
Elrond wrapped a warm cloak around Erestor’s form. He was a bit hesitant to venture out with Erestor, pondering if they needed some sort of escort in case they ran in to Galadriel by accident.
“I will accompany you,” said Celeborn, sensing Elrond’s discomfort. “Haldir and Glorfindel are waiting at the foot of the talan to escort us.” Dotingly, he looked at Erestor. “Do you even know how many friends you have?”
“I am beginning to understand and accept that,” whispered Erestor, pleased when Elrond regained a tight hold on him and walked him to the stairs.
Elrond was putting up a brave front, knowing he had to be strong for Erestor’s sake, but on the inside he was shaky and even slightly afraid, uncertain what emotions would surface once he stood in front of his sons’ tomb.
Elrond’s eyes filled with tears, standing in front of the white marble tomb. It was much smaller than he had thought it would be, but his emotions still raged, realizing these would have been his firstborn sons, had they survived. Suddenly, Erestor’s arm wrapped around his waist in turn, pulling him close. “You had over three millennia to mourn the loss, but I…” It was sudden, even though he had expected to feel like this.
“I understand, my love.” Erestor had never called Elrond his beloved before, but now he had to offer all the comfort he possibly could. “If I had been the one to decide, I would have told you.”
“But Galadriel decided you were not to know,” said Celeborn in a sad tone.
Haldir and Glorfindel were now joined by Rumil and Orophin and the four of them remained at a respectful distance, allowing the parents to mourn.
“I still do not understand why she is so vicious,” mumbled Erestor thoughtfully. “I never wronged her.”
“Aiya, but you did.”
Galadriel’s sharp voice sent shivers of ice down Erestor’s spine and he instinctively leaned in closer to Elrond, who instantly tightened his hold. No, he wasn’t ready to face her, not here, not now!
Galadriel emerged from behind a mallorn tree and seemed to float toward them in her terrible majesty. Her narrowed eyes revealed her alertness and the lips resembled a strained, thin line. Although her posture radiated control and superiority, the expression in her eyes gave away her emotions.
Glorfindel and the three brothers hurried closer, ready to defend Erestor – and Elrond – if necessary, but they stopped in their tracks when Celeborn raised a hand. Apparently Celeborn wanted to deal with his wife himself.
“Galadriel,” started Celeborn, his voice tense and strained, “I did not expect you to return so quickly.”
“Do you really think that I did not know Erestor had returned to the Golden Wood?” Her melodic voice sounded oddly hollow. “The mirror showed me.”
“You do not have the right to be here,” sneered Elrond, enraged. “We came here to mourn our sons’ deaths and you are disturbing that sacred moment.”
“Your sons?” Galadriel cocked her head. “Elrond, the only sons you have are the ones my daughter gave you.”
Elladan and Elrohir, who had been searching for Elrond and Erestor after finding the talan empty, had now sighted them and joined them, listening to their grandmother with mounting disbelief.
Galadriel saw their arrival, but focused her attention on Elrond.
“These would have been my firstborn sons, had they lived! But you decided to keep this from me! Why?” Elrond wanted answers and he wanted them now!
“Celebrian is your only true mate, not Erestor.” Galadriel did not approach the half-Elf, seeing the fury in Elrond’s eyes. “It has vexed me for millennia that I had to bind him to you, but you had to survive, as you were destined to wed my daughter.”
“You used Erestor!” Elrond shook his head in sheer disbelief.
“Yes, I used him as a means to achieve my goal,” admitted Galadriel in an emotionless tone. “I wished I had been able to cut him out of your life completely, Elrond, but you needed his life energy. Yet that half-bond always kept you from fully loving my daughter.”
“Is this about Celebrian?” Elrond’s mouth was slightly agape with confusion.
Celeborn unexpectedly spoke up. “Aye, it is about Celebrian, and at the same time about so much more.”
Galadriel gave her husband a sneering look. “Speak your mind, Celeborn.”
“You needed Elrond strong because he has an important role to play on Middle-Earth and only such an important figure was good enough to marry our daughter. You always wanted what was best for Celebrian, but you never asked her if she wanted to marry Elrond. You made her.”
“She followed when I revealed her destiny to her, just like you did, Celeborn.” Galadriel’s eyes took on an icy expression as she looked upon her husband. “That Erestor became pregnant was unexpected and unwelcome. If he had not lost his children in this way, I would have made sure they would not live. They would have strengthened his bond with Elrond, and eventually, Elrond would have learned of their existence, making it impossible for Celebrian to marry him.”
Erestor had frozen against Elrond, learning she would have taken his sons’ lives if they had lived, and he whimpered softly.
“I could not change the fact that Elrond had fathered Erestor’s children, but I would make sure they presented no threat to Celebrian’s future and her marriage to Elrond.” Galadriel sensed their anger but felt righteous, as she had done what had been necessary to ensure her daughter’s happiness. But she had been too late to warn her when the Orcs attacked. In the end, her efforts had been in vain and losing Celebrian to Valinor had been a terrible price for her to pay; the worst possible.
Elrond was seething with rage. “If Celeborn had not sent Erestor to Imladris when he realized he was pregnant with our daughter, she might not have lived either!”
Galadriel lost interest in this argument with Elrond and focused on her husband instead. “Celeborn, you betrayed me. You went against my wishes and behind my back by sending Erestor to Imladris.”
Celeborn drew in a deep breath. In his heart he had always known this moment would come and it was best to get it over with. “Erestor is no kinslayer.”
“I know that, the mirror showed me a long time ago.” Galadriel ignored Erestor’s strangled whimper and searched Celeborn’s eyes.
“You had no right to ruin Erestor’s life.” Celeborn took a step closer to his wife, whose powers frightened him at times. And at the same time he was the only one who could take a large part of those powers away from her – cripple her, and teach her a lesson for once and for all. But did he have the courage to follow through? He might not survive what he was about to do. “I cannot allow you to abuse your powers in such a way.”
All present were alarmed when Galadriel laughed sharply. “You cannot allow? Celeborn, you have forgotten your place, which is at my side, supporting me!”
Even Elrond flinched, hearing those words and he cast a quick look at Celeborn, who had grown pale. It was true though. Celeborn was often referred to as ‘Galadriel’s husband’ and was seldom seen as an individual. And now he wondered why that was.
“I cannot allow you to continue to hurt Erestor like this. He has suffered enough,” said Celeborn in a firm tone.
Galadriel’s eyes flared dangerously. “But he is still alive whilst my dear Celebrian had to sail for the Undying Lands. He even has a daughter now, another bastard.”
“Elrond, no!” Glorfindel had watched Elrond closely and reacted just in time to hold the half-Elf back when Elrond lunged for Galadriel.
“I forbid you to call my daughter that!” Elrond’s hands had turned into fists. He tried to struggle free of Glorfindel’s hold, glaring at his friend, but when he felt Erestor’s hesitant touch against the small of his back, he forced himself to calm down. Erestor needed him to be in control. “Let go of me, Glorfindel!”
Glorfindel studied Elrond’s eyes and then obeyed, but made sure he remained in place between Galadriel and his friend. “I do not want a fourth kinslaying to take place here today.”
“Not at my children’s tomb,” said Erestor softly, pulling Elrond toward him. “There will be no fighting here.”
Elrond nodded once, but never let Galadriel out of his sight. “You are right, my love.” But Celeborn and Galadriel still stood facing each other and judging by the looks on their faces, some silent communication was taking place, which they weren’t privy to.
“You would not dare sever our link,” said Galadriel, breathlessly. For the first time, a hint of panic showed in her eyes. “You would not survi—“
“You are not leaving me a choice,” said Celeborn shakily. Releasing a tormented wail, his hands clawed at the fabric of his shirt and intense pain momentarily showed on his face, as he severed the ancient bond between them.
Galadriel screamed furiously and reached for support when she began to sway. Her strength quickly ebbed away, leaving her weak and shaky. She rested her back against the ancient mallorn tree for support and stood panting, staring at her husband in obvious horror. “You did not…!” She crumbled before their eyes, her form losing its normal radiance. Her usually sparkling eyes dulled and even the silver hair lost its luster.
“I… did!” Panting softly, Celeborn also swayed and began to collapse. Rumil and Orophin, who stood closest to Celeborn, moved at once, but it was Orophin who reached the elder Elf first and supported him when Celeborn tried to push himself back onto his feet.
Orophin was startled, feeling a pulsing energy radiate from Celeborn, but he maintained his hold on the elder Elf. Celeborn was leaning on him heavily and he wrapped a supportive arm around the other Elf’s waist.
“Fool! You think you punished me by severing our link, but it is *you*, who just condemned yourself to certain death,” panted Galadriel, who suddenly didn’t look that ethereal and superior any more. Fear, terror and defeat shone from her empty eyes. She slowly backed away from them, stumbling toward the ancient mallorn trees. She faded into the darkness now that her inner light had dimmed and it wasn’t long before she had vanished from their sight.
Celeborn placed one hand on Orophin’s shoulder to steady himself. He knew he would pay the price for reclaiming his freedom, but it had been the only way to deal with Galadriel.
“What happened just now?” Elrond briefly deserted Erestor to hurry over to Celeborn’s side.
“I severed the bond that existed between us. I am no longer bound to her.” Only Celeborn knew the true meaning behind those words. He also knew that he couldn’t keep his secrets forever and that he had to tell them shortly. “I am no longer the Lord of the Golden Wood.”
Elrond’s eyes widened dramatically, realizing what Celeborn had done. “Why?”
“It was about time that I made my own decisions again. I let her torment Erestor for too long.” Celeborn, whose strength was now returning, gave Erestor an apologetic look. “I should have accepted the position of your champion much earlier and I am sorry I did not.”
Erestor slowly advanced on Celeborn and curled his fingers around the silver-haired Elf’s hand. “You are forgiven, my friend. You made sure Galadriel could not hurt my daughter when you sent me to Imladris. I owe you so much.” Carefully, he gave Celeborn a hug. “Will you come to Imladris with us?” Celeborn had said he was no longer the Lord of the Golden Wood, and that being the case, he wouldn’t want to stay here.
“Ata’da, come with us to Imladris.” Elladan and Elrohir had been silent until now, but their hearts ached for their grandfather, who had lost his wife and his home. They knew how much these lands meant to Celeborn.
“If you will have me, I will come with you,” said Celeborn, feeling calm and at peace for the first time in several millennia. Searching out Elrond’s eyes, he made sure the half-Elf didn’t have any objections.
“You are welcome,” said Elrond reassuringly. Seeing Orophin and Rumil’s slightly disappointed expressions, he was reminded of his own intentions. “And would the two of you join us as well? Erestor seems smitten with you and I gather you would prefer being close to Haldir.”
Rumil released a pleased laugh and nodded happily. “Aye, we accept!”
Orophin nodded. /That way I can stay close to Celeborn. I do not want him to be alone right now. He will need our support, our company./ And he planned on being there for Celeborn.
The party that left Lothlorien that night consisted of nine Elves; Elrond, Erestor, the twins, Haldir, Glorfindel, Celeborn, Orophin and Rumil left the Golden Wood. Celeborn looked over his shoulder, realizing he would never return here, for Galadriel would never allow it.
With them, they took a precious charge. As they were eager to leave, they had decided against taking the entire tomb with them. Reverently, Celeborn had removed the sealing stone and had then placed the remains of the twins in a beautifully crafted wooden box, lined with the softest silk. The priceless load had been entrusted to Glorfindel and Haldir and they had vowed to keep the twins’ remains safe and untouched. Erestor had cried bitter tears, seeing the tiny bones, still wrapped up in soft cloths.
“How do you fare?” Elrond had decided against riding his own horse and instead shared Tirith with his lover. He needed to be close to Erestor right now.
“My head is still reeling,” admitted Erestor emotionally. “I should have known it was something very personal that was making Galadriel act in such a way. Everything she did was to ensure Celebrian’s happiness.”
“She was doomed to fail,” said Elrond thoughtfully. “Even though I did not know of your bond with me, the memories continued to invade my dreams. I missed you. She should have let us bind ourselves properly instead of condemning you to such pain.”
“Please, let us not speak of this any longer,” begged Erestor, “I want to forget and start a new life with you… and our daughter.”
“Aye, Indlîrien will warm your heart,” said Elrond pleased. “You will hold her in your arms shortly.” He pressed a kiss onto his lover’s dark mane. It would take several weeks to return to Imladris with Erestor still in such a weakened state, but he didn’t mind, because they were finally together.
Orophin kept a close eye on Celeborn. Something seemed off with the elder Elf and Orophin reminded himself that Celeborn had every reason to feel miserable. He had just left his wife and he was alone again after millennia of being with Galadriel. Celeborn needed time to adjust to that – to his new life. He steered his horse closer to Celeborn’s and softly cleared his throat. “My Lord? Are you well?”
“Do not call me that, Orophin,” said Celeborn in a fatigued tone. “I am no longer Lord of the Golden Wood.” And that hurt the most. The rift between Galadriel and he had gradually deepened over millennia, but he now sharply felt the void the separation had left behind. Leaving behind the Golden Wood itself was the hardest.
“Then what am I to call you? I cannot address you with… Celeborn.”
“You will have to get used to calling me that, Orophin.” Celeborn drew in a deep, steadying breath. He could already feel the difference now that he was no longer bound to Galadriel. Middle-Earth’s energy reached for him and seeped into his very pores. He had forgotten how it felt to be free and energetic, and he could only hope he could control it this time. Realizing that Orophin was still riding beside him, he glanced at the younger Elf. Orophin had always been very handsome to him and the Elf’s character matched his outer beauty. Orophin was strong, cunning, compassionate, and at times he could fall into deep pondering, something he hid from his teasing brothers. There was depth to the other Elf’s character and he wanted to get to know him better. Celeborn was surprised when Elrond gave the signal to stop for the day. Wasn’t this a bit early? They had only been on the road for four hours. But one look at Erestor’s face told him that the exhausted raven-haired Elf couldn’t ride any further. As they made camp, Celeborn noticed that Orophin had put his bedroll close to his. Apparently the younger Elf enjoyed his company and wanted to stay close, which pleased him immensely.
“Orophin? Your eyes will drop out of their sockets if you keep staring at our Lord in that way.” It didn’t matter to Rumil that Celeborn didn’t think of himself as the Lord of the Golden Wood any longer. To him, Celeborn would always be his Lord.
Orophin turned a nice shade of red, hearing his brother’s voice. Was his attraction that obvious? “I cannot control it.”
Rumil sighed in understanding, and after guiding his brother away from the camp, he placed his hands on either side of Orophin’s head. “I know that you like him. I also know that you never told him or expressed your feelings for him and now that he is available again…” Rumil let his voice trail off. “Remember that the bond between Galadriel and he was only severed hours ago. You cannot court him. It would not do.”
“I know that!” hissed Orophin, irritated. “I am trying my best not to give myself away! But it is hard! I can tell he is hurting and I want to comfort him.”
“Orophin, give it time. Maybe he will be ready to look at you in that way in a few decades. But he needs to mourn losing Galadriel first.” Rumil lowered his hands and wrapped his arms around his brother’s waist, holding him close. “I want you to be happy, but you have chosen a difficult path for yourself.”
Orophin sighed, distressed. “I will try harder.”
“Maybe you should distance yourself from him,” suggested Rumil. “Ride close to Erestor tomorrow.”
Feeling depressed, Orophin nodded once. He knew his brother meant well and that he should heed Rumil’s advice, as he didn’t want Celeborn to find out about his inappropriate feelings.
“Are you comfortable?” Elrond enjoyed fussing over his lover and tucked the blanket around Erestor’s form for the third time.
“I am comfortable and warm,” whispered Erestor happily. “I just find it hard to believe Celeborn left Galadriel and the Golden Wood.”
Elrond nodded. “I did not expect that either. I always thought they had a happy marriage.”
“Something struck me as odd though,” remarked Erestor, resting his head on Elrond’s chest, cuddling closer. “He said, ‘I am no longer bound to her.’
Elrond frowned, wondering what Erestor found odd about that.
“I expected him to say, we are no longer bound to each other.” The more he thought about it, the more alarmed Erestor felt. “For some reason I worry about him.”
Elrond considered Erestor’s observation. “I worry about him as well. Galadriel and he were married for many millennia.”
“But were they bound to each other?” Erestor briefly raised his head to look at Elrond. “Maybe I am reading too much into his words, but… did Galadriel also bind herself to him?”
Elrond’s eyes narrowed, finally understanding what Erestor was trying to tell him. “Are you saying that Celeborn was bound to Galadriel in the same way as you were to me before I completed the bond?”
“Aye.” Erestor slowly nodded his head. “Though I do not know why he would agree to such a marriage.”
“You did it to keep me alive.” Elrond felt truly confused now. “Do you think we should ask him?”
“Not yet,” decided Erestor, “We should give him a chance to sort out his thoughts and emotions first. I do think he planned to leave Galadriel at some point, but severing the bond must have been an overwhelming experience. Let us wait and see if he comes to one of us of his own accord.”
“You offer wise council,” said Elrond in a proud tone, “Maybe I should make you one of my advisors when we get back to Imladris.”
“An advisor?” Erestor smiled in disbelief. “You must be joking.”
“Nay, I am not,” said Elrond firmly. “But we can decide that later. First, you should meet and hold our daughter.”
Erestor rested his head on Elrond’s chest again and sighed blissfully. Once he was asleep, he dreamt of holding Indlîrien tightly against his chest.
BTW, Indlîrien means song of my heart.
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