Disclaimer - BtVS belongs to Joss Whedon and The Lord of the Rings and all its characters belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien.
They call her Anoriel because her hair gleams as bright as the sun itself. He remembers well brushing his fingers through that hair and how it felt like touching tendrils of warm sunlight. He remembers her laughter and her tears and her gentle caresses and how hard it was to say good bye. He doesn’t know why it has taken two years for this kind of news to reach his ears.
Elrond is furious.
He wishes his children did not know, not until after he confronted this news himself, but it was the twins who intercepted the messenger that brought such life-changing information, and of course they told their sister as well. They demand to come with him to Lothlórien, and though he wants to deny them, is halfway afraid of what they might find, he knows it will be useless.
A child will always want their mother.
He leaves Erestor in charge of Imladris as their party makes their voyage. Throughout the days he listens as his children talk in excitement over their mother’s return, telling stories of old and better times when she was a constant and gentle presence.
Elladan shares a story of when he was little and learning how to wield a small sword, he cut his hand on the sharp steel and cried to his mother. Celebrían soothed his hair, gently cleaned and treated his wound, wrapped his hand till it was snug against his skin, and then pressed a kiss against it, claiming it was the best medicine in their land.
Elrohir tells a tale of watching his mother dance, how fluidly she moved as if she were part of the music, how she taught him to find the beat and move with it, even with his awkward legs and feet that came with adolescence.
Arwen fondly recalls of attempting to cook for the first time with the other elven maidens and letting her family try her food. Even though her brothers coughed and gagged and her father politely claimed how he had work to attend to, her mother ate every bite with a smile and kind words of encouragement.
They all remember how she used to sing them to sleep at night.
Of course, hers wasn’t the most beautiful of elven voices, but it was their mother’s, and thus the most comforting sound they can ever remember.
It is late afternoon by the time they reach Caras Galadhon. They are escorted by Haldir, and Elrond notices the stiffness in his shoulders, the tension behind his eyes. As they climb up the many, many stairs he hears the children buzz with excitement behind them and that is when Haldir quietly asks, “What have they told you?”
He lifts a brow and answers, “That my wife has returned and she is now of the race of Men.” Haldir grows silent then, averting his gaze from Elrond’s own. It prompts him to say, “Is there something else that I should know?”
Haldir slides his eyes to his. “It would be best if the Lord and Lady tell you.”
He wants to prod further but they reach the top where the soft light of Galadriel and Celeborn reaches his sight. The party steps onto the platform facing the Lord and Lady who both appear serene, but Elrond has known the two for many long years and can see the hint of worry behind their facade.
“Elrond, it is good to see you after so long,” Celeborn says. Elrond is about to voice his displeasure, to let them know how unhappy he is with the late timing of this news, when he notices wisps of golden hair behind Celeborn’s silver. Celeborn sees where his attention has gone to, and shares a quick glance to Galadriel before he announces, “I would like to introduce to you all my daughter, Anoriel.” He then steps to the side, revealing the small form that was hidden behind him.
He cannot breathe. He takes in how she is now so small
and her eyes are so green
, but her features are fine and her hair is still so golden and it is Celebrían
. He is about to move, about to engulf his wife, but then she meets his eyes and he abruptly stops.
There is no recognition behind her gaze.
Arwen’s exclamation of “Nana!” shakes him from his stupor, and he helplessly watches as all three of his children go to embrace this woman who wears Celebrían’s face and shares her soul. He sees the bewildered look on Anoriel’s face, how her arms hang limp when Arwen first envelopes her, but then she slowly returns the gesture and he can’t miss the happy tears that fall from Arwen’s eyes. Elladan and Elrohir are close behind, cracking jokes about their mother’s new height and how she barely reaches the size of a dwarf. They touch her arms and hair to make sure she is real and then sweep her out of the room to find dinner and fill her in on so many missed years.
He stands there until their voices drift away and then he is left with silence and Celeborn and Galadriel to keep him company. They wait for him to gather his thoughts, to process what he has just witnessed because they know first hand how jarring it can be. His voice finally cuts through the quiet. “She does not remember.”
It is a statement, said with certainty, but Galadriel still simply replies, “She does not.”
Emotion wells within his throat, his fists clench tight, and he feels a part of himself deep inside shatter. “Why would the Valar do this?”
He notes the resigned tone is Galadriel’s voice when she answers, “It appears our Celebrían has a greater destiny than any of us.”
It is not an answer that appeases him, but it is the only one given.
His sons and daughter occupy as much of Anoriel’s time as possible that evening. Although it is easy to see Anoriel is out of her element, is merely trying to keep up with them, his children do not take notice. Elrond himself decides to keep his distance, has to fight the urge to touch what is no longer his.
He is not sure whether to thank her or yell at her for not breaking Elladan, Elrohir, and Arwen’s happiness at her return. She plays the role of mother as well as she can, tells them how proud she is of them, and when they plead with her to sing them to sleep as she used to, she eventually gives in.
At times he catches her glancing at him, those strange green eyes finding his. She is studying him, he realizes, trying to figure out his reaction to all of this. He isn’t sure he has formed one yet, and that is why he follows them to hear that voice sing once more.
He stands where he can hear but not see. It is a song that Galadriel sang to Celebrían, and Celebrían to her children. He wonders how she would know it, and then an image of Galadriel singing it to this shadow of Celebrían springs forth in his mind.
The voice is as comforting as it was then, and when he closes his eyes he can imagine silver instead of green, tall instead of short. He doesn’t have to worry about a lover who is mortal and no longer remembers him.
The singing eventually ends and when he opens his eyes she is standing in front of him. She is wearing a white dress that was Celebrían’s that has been shortened and taken in to fit her frame. Her golden hair gleams against the white of her familiar dress and Elrond is entranced for the second time in his life.
Her leaf-green eyes are full of sympathy. “I know this must be hard for you all.”
He watches the way those pouty pink lips move. He remembers kissing those lips countless times before. “Why did you not tell them that you do not remember?”
Her gaze turns downcast. “I know what it’s like to lose a mother. If I can somehow spare that pain for even a minute,” her eyes rise to meet his, and they look like green fire, “then I will do whatever I can.” He cannot look away.
“It is. . . unprecedented what has happened.” She is mortal, but he is Elrond Half-elven and the fleeting thought of following in his brother’s footsteps flows in. He could court this new Celebrían, make her fall in love with him all over again and live a mortal and happy life. He thinks he could do that.
She sighs and gives a small smile. “Sounds like my life.” Her head tilts and the golden flow of hair falls with it. The sudden need to touch those tendrils, to see if it is still like touching warm sunlight, takes hold and she is so close he cannot ignore it. He lifts his hand towards her face, and she flinches, takes a tiny step back. “I’m sorry,” she says, “but I’m not her.”
His arm is left grasping air. Her words cut the hope that was slowly building, and now he cannot deny that Celebrían has truly left him. Tucking his hand back to his side, he fixes a hard stare towards her, makes sure his voice is steady when he tells her, “Please do not ever come to Imladris.”
She nods, and with one last look turns and walks away. He leaves Lothlórien the next day.