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Of Greater Worth  by Nilmandra

For Perelleth, on her birthday. I wanted to write something with the First Age and conflict, and this is rather slight for me, but I hope you like it just the same. Thanks to daw the minstrel for beta reading.

To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved. George Macdonald

Of Greater Worth

It chanced that at that time the sons of Finarfin were again the guests of Thingol, for they wished to see their sister Galadriel. Then Thingol, being greatly moved, spoke in anger to Finrod, saying: 'Ill have you done to me, kinsman, to conceal so great matters from me. For now I have learned of all the evil deeds of the Noldor.'

But Finrod answered: 'What ill have I done yon, lord? Or what evil deed have the Noldor done in all your realm to grieve you? Neither against your kinship nor against any of your people have they thought evil or done evil.'

'I marvel at you, son of Eärwen,' said Thingol, 'that you would come to the board of your kinsman thus red-handed from the slaying of your mothers kin, and yet say naught in defence, nor yet seek any pardon!'

. . . . .

'Go now!' he said. 'For my heart is hot within me. Later you may return, if you will; for I will not shut my doors for ever against you, my kindred, that were ensnared in an evil that you did not aid.

Of the Noldor in Beleriand, The Silmarillion

Celeborn entered their chambers surrounded by a static tension so great that it seemed as if a storm were descending deep within the stone halls of Menegroth. She remained standing, unmoving, unwilling to concede even a word, much less her position.

He walked to her with the purposeful stride that had first attracted her to him. Pride radiated from him. Many of the green elves moved stealthily, lithe like a slender reed. Celeborn was a presence like a tall oak, able to bend with the wind, but he wore the confidence he could withstand any storm.

His eyes flashed with a dangerous glitter she had seen only when his thoughts were intent on the enemy.

She met his gaze unflinchingly. He walked to within a foot of her. She flirted with the temptation of stepping into him, challenging him, for she would allow no one to intimidate her, nor even give the appearance thereof. Instead she stood her ground, neither giving nor taking.

He walked around her, his eyes boring into her side, her back, then appearing again on her other side. When he again looked upon her face, she raised a brow in question at him.

“Elu-Thingol called me before his court, demanding to know why I, his kinsmen and lord of his house, would withhold information of this Noldor treachery from him.”

Galadriel did not answer. Her brother Angrod had bared his heart and told Elu-Thingol all. Neither she nor Finrod had spoken then, and she did not intend to now.

“I do not know if I am more angry that the Noldor would slay their own kin or that you would keep this from me,” he continued acidly. “What else should I know, Galadriel?”

Galadriel fought down the rising anger within her. She understood her husband’s fury, as she understood Elu-Thingol’s. She had known that Melian suspected there was far more to the story of the exiles than Morgoth’s murder of the Two Trees and theft of the Silmarilli, but the Maia had not pressed her. For this she was grateful, for like Finrod, she would have been sorely tested to withstand wrath for actions she had not committed but would not testify against.

“What else do you wish to know?” she finally asked.

Celeborn stepped back from her. His fists clenched and unclenched then he raked his fingers through his hair, mussing the side braids. She reached for his hands, for he seemed to need something to do with them, but he withdrew them from her grasp as if she burned him.

“Everything. Nothing.” He sighed and bowed his head for a moment. When he looked up at her, the fire in his eyes had diminished, and she could see hurt instead. She brushed his mind with her own, but he blocked her. “I need to know that I can trust you.”

Galadriel bristled. “What have I done to cause you harm and lose your trust? I am the same person you married. I have not changed.”

“Perhaps I wonder then who it is I did marry? What else in your past will arise and make me wonder who you are?” Celeborn’s voice was tinged with bitterness and hurt.

“I am Artanis, whom you have named Galadriel and I have taken the name you have given me. I am the same elf who crossed the girdle of Melian and found hospitality in Doriath. Who I was before has shaped who I am now, but who I am now is what matters.”

Doubt lingered in Celeborn’s eyes.

She walked the two steps toward him and took his hands. He allowed it, but was passive. “There are no other secrets, Celeborn. Angrod spoke the whole truth to Elu-Thingol.”

“Why did you not speak of these things? Or Finrod? You live here with us and Finrod has often sought the hospitality of Doriath. Do you value your kinship with the sons of Fëanor more than you do your mother’s kin?” When she stiffened, his eyes hardened. “Help me to understand, Galadriel.”

“I did not know that I must choose between my father’s kin and my mother’s kin,” she replied. “Fëanor and his sons committed their wrong against the elves of Alqualondë, not Doriath. It is for those who survived the offense and those who pass to the Halls of Mandos to forgive and find redress, not those of us who are here.”

She let go of his hands when he did not grip hers in return. The doubt that had come into his eyes remained, as did the barrier he had erected between their hearts. He turned and entered their sleeping chamber, only to reappear a few minutes later dressed for the outdoors.

“I am going to the western marches,” he said.

His voice was cool, his face expressionless, he did not wish her farewell, and he did not say when he would return. He walked from the room and did not look back.

* * *

Celeborn entered the chamber tired and dirty after spending nearly two weeks on the marches. His heart leapt at the sight of Galadriel, her golden hair streaming about her like the rays of the sun that had appeared not long before her. She looked up at his entrance, and for a moment her face lit with the joy that he knew was reserved for him. Their eyes met and her smile faded. Her face melted into an impassive mask. A mask that likely matched his own.

He studied her, wondering what other secrets lay hidden within the recesses of her memories. Never would he have imagined the horror and travesty of elf slaying elf. For long hours on watch he had pondered why she had not told him. Did she fear his response? Was she embarrassed? How could she possibly think it did not matter if she withheld such a thing? He felt a surge of anger. Did she not trust him or not consider him worthy of her confidence?

She stood with the fluid grace he so loved and walked to him as if floating on air. His feelings were at war within him, as he saw the elf he loved but also the elf he did not know. He felt the cool brush of her mind against his, soothing him, reminding him of what they used to share.

“Do you trust me?” he asked quietly.

“I have bound body and spirit to you, Celeborn. I trust you with my life,” she replied evenly.

She opened her mind to him, baring her soul, and he knew she meant what she said. Yet when he probed at her memories from her life over sea, he felt resistance grow. He withdrew. Her frustration was obvious, as she attempted to remain open while yet protecting that part of her life.

“Not like this,” she whispered. “I would not relive those memories now.”

He had overstepped his bounds. Moving deeper into her mind without invitation was a breach of etiquette even between bound elves, for they were not shared memories.

“Is there more that you do not wish me to know?”

“If you listened to my brother, then you know the truth.”

They held each other’s gazes for a long moment, then Galadriel looked away. She disappeared into their sleeping chamber. He followed her, seeking clean clothing before heading to the baths, and found her dressed for traveling and packing a bag.

“Where are you going?”

“To Nargothrond, to visit my brother,” she replied without looking up.

“I will escort you,” he replied.

“There is no need. I have sent word to Finrod. The marchwardens will escort me to the borders of Doriath, where he will meet me.”

“When will you return?”

She closed her bag and fastened the straps before looking up. “When I so desire.” She fastened her cloak about her neck and lifted her bag, then stepped to move around him. He blocked her, anger warring with panic at the thought of her leaving. “If you decide there is trust between us and wish to be with me, then you know where I may be found.”

She stepped to the side again and he blocked her again.

“Move!” she demanded.

“Do not leave like this,” he warned.

“You, husband, are the one who needs to decide if you can live with the past. To do so, you may wish to live alone for a time,” she answered.

To Celeborn’s surprise, despite the implacable words she spoke, he heard sorrow in her voice. He stepped aside and watched her leave their chambers. When she had gone, he slipped out unseen to the path near the stables in time to see her riding away, surrounded by Elu-Thingol’s guards. The intensity of the pain in his heart nearly shattered him.

* * *

Galadriel had been nearly a month in Nargothrond when visitors were announced from Doriath. She did not go to the main hall, but waited in the suite Finrod had appointed for her. She had not told her brother of the argument she and Celeborn had engaged in, but instead had told him that her husband was expected, and to send him to her when he arrived.

She reached with her mind for his and bade him enter. He had bathed and dressed before coming to her. She saw passion in his eyes as their gazes met, and she knew he had missed her. His eyes swept over her, took in the room and furnishings, then returned to her.

“My lady,” he finally said, and bowed.

She inclined her head in acknowledgment, then poured two cups of wine and set them on a side table. “Please sit,” she bade him. When he had done so, she continued, “Why have you come, my husband?”

He drank from his cup and then studied her for a moment, though he did not press himself upon her as he had done before. “Because I am your husband, and I do trust you. I would still like to know of your past and even of the memories that are painful, of the hurts caused by your father’s kin, but not that I might judge you; rather I would share the burden of them. I leave you to decide if you would include me in that part of your life.”

Galadriel smiled at him, and felt a rush of warmth at the impact that had on him. She rose and took his cup and set it aside, then smoothed his hair back, deftly removing the braids as she did so. When his hair was loose, she bent down to kiss him, and felt the weight of his strong arms surround her, pulling her down on to his lap. Their kisses turned passionate, deepening desires she was not ready to pursue. She pulled away, breathless.

“I also have had much time to think. I said there were no other secrets, but when I took inventory of my memories I found some I had … overlooked. I would keep nothing from you, my husband.”

She felt his passions wane and he took a deep breath, preparing himself for what else she might have to say.

“Come, let us sit where it is more comfortable,” she invited. She rose and held out a hand to him. He allowed her to pull him to his feet and guide him to a comfortable couch. On the table beside it was a scroll. She picked up the scroll and sat down beside him.

“What is this?” asked Celeborn suddenly, when he saw the long list written in her script.

“My list of secrets and misdeeds. I am rather ashamed at how long it is,” she answered in bemusement. “For instance, I had forgotten that it was I who loosened the boards on the bridge over the stream behind our family home. They did not give way for many months, but later sent Finrod plunging into the icy stream below. He had to walk home nearly frozen solid, and my parents feared he would sustain real damage to his fingers and toes. He did heal quickly, though,” she added.

“Then there was the time when Aegnor would not allow me to play with him and his friends. I followed them and lured their horses away, then took them home and tied them up in the stable so they could not return. Only when night came and they were not home did I loose the horses. They blamed the horses and never suspected me.”

She felt Celeborn’s chest tremble and turned to look at him. He was laughing. “I am being quite serious, Celeborn!” she chided him. “You must not tell them of these things, for I fear even now after all these many years they would retaliate. Not Finrod, perhaps, but Angrod and Aegnor would be furious.”

He raised a brow at her. “Is this the worst you did, my Galadriel?”

She frowned. “These are the most serious offenses of my younger years. Are you mocking my ability to create mischief?”

“Indeed,” laughed Celeborn. “I am afraid that we ellyn were far worse.”

“So Lúthien has told me. Really, Celeborn, one would think you would have had more sense than to divert water from one of the underground springs. How far down the river were you washed?”

Celeborn’s eyes narrowed. “You have spoken with Lúthien of my childhood?”

“Of course. And your parents. Your older brother was a fount of good stories. Even Melian knew of many of your misdeeds,” she replied blithely.

Celeborn grabbed the scroll from her hands and held it beyond her reach. “I claim this as an heirloom of my house. Your brothers were not forthcoming with me at all. What is it with this strange Noldor loyalty that even I, their brother-in-law, am not told any embarrassing stories about my wife’s misspent youth?”

Galadriel smiled sweetly. “My brothers fear me, darling.”

Celeborn snorted. “I do not.” He stood abruptly, causing her to nearly fall over on the couch, but he swiftly turned and swept her up in his arms. She clasped her hands behind his neck and tugged his head down to kiss him again.

“I know. It is part of what I love about you,” she whispered when she released him.

He strode purposefully to the sleeping chamber. “I think it is time I remind you of some other things you love about me.”

The End

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