LLYFR GALADRIEL -:-:- STATIONARY TRAVELOGUE
Fit the First: ALPHA
In the youth of the world, when the light of the Two Trees yet lit the land of Aman, Eärwen, the Swan-maiden of Alqualondë, wed Finarfin of the Noldor. Of their sons, much has been told elsewhere; but it was for their daughter that Eärwen held her greatest love, as would in later ages all the pure in heart to meet this greatest of the Elves.
When she became with child the wise Eärwen made it her practice to visit daily the Two Trees at the Mingling of the Lights, and to refresh herself with a few drops of the dew of each Tree, their radiance passing to her unborn daughter. And when the child was born she had her own inner light, hair of the colour and beauty of the mingled Trees, and eyes of the wisdom of Arda and the depth of the starry sky.
So the world received Galadriel, the Lady of Light, fairest of the Noldor, wisest and deepest of all the Elves; the Lady who would know more than the world, and the Lady the world would never know.
Galadriel even as a child was more than an Elf-child of the usual mould. Her love for the Elves and the beauty of the world was evident, and she was loved by all; but of close friends she had few. Elves who spoke with her, both children and adults, felt themselves both in love and in awe. They were drawn to her and her unassuming naturalness and total lack of affectation, her gentle smile and kind eyes beneath her crown of radiant hair, but they had always a feeling that they were talking not to a child of the Elves, but to some far older and wiser being, someone as far beyond them as they were beyond the four-legged beasts. She would spend her time in the woods and the wild places of the land, where few people would go, keeping company with the pigeons who were her friends.
Of Fëanor much has been said elsewhere and there is little need to repeat it here. Even then he was arrogant, domineering and with a thirst for control, respecting none save his father Finwë and ready to challenge anyone whom he perceived as a threat to his vainglory, heeding no power or authority, not even that of Manwë himself. In the idea of a mere child who, however undesignedly, commanded awe in the wisest of Elves, he saw nothing to love, but at best only a potential future political obstacle, a usurper of his influence, one who would take the mantle of greatness he felt to be solely his own. An obstacle better dealt with early, and one dangerous to disregard.
Of a time he called at the dwelling of Eärwen and Finarfin. Disdaining to knock and wait to be admitted, he walked in unnanounced and wandered around the house, looking in room after room until he found a room in which sat the child Galadriel, an exquisite tapestry taking form under her flying fingers, the while conversing on some entirely unintelligible subject with a bird perched on the curtain rail.
Fëanor was somewhat taken aback. Galadriel was younger than her reputation had led him to assume. Still, this should make his purpose easier, he thought.
"You must be Galadriel", he said by way of initiating dialogue, standing in the doorway.
Galadriel had no need of surmise. The instant he had walked in the house she had seen him, and seen also who he was, and what he was, down to every last detail; and she was repelled in every fibre of her soul. And this... thing... dared to call itself an elf... A great wave of sympathy for the deceived Míriel and Finwë and revulsion at their fate swept over her.
She did not even look up from her work. "I am", she said, in a tone of untouchable finality that stated as clearly as if in words: and there is nothing more to be said, ever.
"I have heard much of you", said Fëanor. "You are well spoken of for so young a child. I desired to see if what was said of you was true."
Galadriel ignored him completely and continued with her tapestry as if he was not there.
"Certainly the tales of your beauty were true", Fëanor said after a pause. His eye lighted on the luxuriant growth of Galadriel's hair, and a vile thought entered his head. "Your hair is a marvel."
Galadriel ignored this too. Fëanor had the distinct impression that the worms in the soil in the garden had a greater call on her attention than he did. This was true, but somewhat understated.
He tried again. "I -"
"Go away, Fëanor", said Galadriel still without looking up.
At this calm instruction Fëanor's words froze in his throat. But his anger quickly mastered him, and he did the opposite. He strode towards her, into the room.
Galadriel stood and faced him. The beautiful eyes in which other Elves had seen only friendship held for him nothing so vital as mere loathing, but only a terrifying negation such as he could never have imagined.
Still, however, his mind refused to admit the reality of the situation he had put himself into. He squatted on his heels to bring his head down to the level of Galadriel's.
"I wish only to ask for one tress of your beautiful hair", said Fëanor. "It is a wonder. I woul..."
"Do not speak", said Galadriel.
For fully half a minute the room had the silence and stillness of death.
"You may not have my hair, Fëanor", said Galadriel. "You may have nought of me or mine. Do not approach me again. Leave."
Fëanor was enraged. Never had anyone offered him such open and blunt defiance. But at the same time... never had anyone offered him any degree of defiance with such total dispassion. As if he were of no more account than a stone. In spite of himself, the thought began to make itself felt that this was not a bluff. A feeling which he had never experienced before crept over him. Fear.
He shook himself. Nah, he thought. Fuck her. She's only a little girl, what can she really do?
With one swift movement he snatched her sewing scissors from the floor and swept them towards her head.
Galadriel's hand barely flickered. Fëanor made a sound somewhere between a grunt and a shriek. The scissors fell from his hand and his arm smashed into his body as it locked into an agonising cramp. At the base of his neck glittered the eye of a needle, its length neatly transfixing his brachial plexus. He had not completed even a quarter of his original movement. His face went white and his lips twisted into a rictus as his muscles tried to tear his tendons from his bones. He swayed, and would have fallen over had he not been already squatting on his heels.
"You will take the needle from your neck and you will place it on the floor", said Galadriel in the same quiet, flat tone. It was not a deadly tone. It spoke to Fëanor not of death but of the inconceivable horror that is mathematical zero; not of life coming to an end, but of life never having existed, not erased from reality but there never having been anything to erase. And he knew that the life of which it spoke was his own.
Fëanor could not feel that there even was a needle in his neck; the pain of his self-destructing arm swamped everything. He groped at his neck with his other hand until he found the needle. It took all his strength to pull it from the soft flesh. He placed it on the floor.
"You will leave, Fëanor", said Galadriel still with the same terrifying calm. "You leave with your own will or you leave without your own will. The choice is mine. I will make it soon."
As the meaning of Galadriel's slightly odd phraseology dawned on him Fëanor knew utter defeat. She was not implying that she would make him leave by use of force. She was going to choose whether or not to allow his ability to decide on his own actions to exist. And with a further shock he realised that she could even have chosen already, for if she had he would not be able to know.
Fëanor howled like an animal in agony and stumbled blindly towards the door, his eyes unseeing, his mouth slack, a string of drool beginning to depend from his lip. He was broken. He knew he was broken. He knew he had broken himself. He knew he had allowed his own egotism and megalomania not only to tempt him to the most foolish act of his life, but to compound the failure by persisting in his foolishness in the face of the increasing knowledge of just how foolish it might be. He had acted like the captain of a ship who has convinced himself that he is so great that even icebergs will get out of the way and splinters his vessel against a wall of indifferent, unyielding ice. He knew with horrid certainty that he had just fucked the whole of the rest of his own life up the arse, and his broken state allowed also to take root a certainty even more horrid, one that would normally have failed to penetrate his arrogance: that the whole disaster was incontrovertibly, indivisibly, unarguably and entirely his own fault.
Worse was to come. As he staggered through the doorway the figure of another elf met his gaze. An adult elf. Eärwen. How long she had been there, how much she had witnessed of his humiliation, he did not know. He was about to find out.
Galadriel's voice had been terrifying in its indifference. Eärwen's terrified by being exactly the opposite. While also quiet and controlled, it sang with the boundless fury of an elven mother outraged beyond belief at what this creature that called itself an elf had dared to attempt on her daughter.
"My daughter, a little girl, scarce higher than your knee. And this is the thing that would dare to set blade to her and yet still see fit to call itself an elf. You are no elf, Fëanor. You are filth, the excretion of the foulest creatures of the earth. You have no right to live among us; you have no right to live. Be grateful for Galadriel's mercy. For myself I would slay you where you stand, and Fëanor, if ever I hear report that you have even so much as thought of Galadriel since this day, slay you I will, you may be sure of it. Now go."
And Fëanor was gone.
Back in the room, mother and daughter clung tightly to each other in a fierce embrace. Galadriel cradled her mother's head and stroked her hair, comforting her, by far the calmer of the two, since well though Eärwen knew her daughter she did not know her as well as Galadriel knew herself.
"There is no danger, Mother", she said, her soft, gentle voice in stark contrast to the tone she had used to Fëanor. "He will not seek revenge on our house. While I live he fears to, and I can take care of myself. And there too, Mother, do not be shocked. Surely my mother knows who I am; you allowed me to handle it alone, did you not?" She gave her mother a squeeze. "This, I think, had to pass, but passed it has, so let us be glad."
Eärwen just held her tighter and murmured, "Galadriel."
After a while they separated, and Eärwen rose to her feet. "Oh, Galadriel", she said, "you are my world."
"And you are the mother of my world", smiled Galadriel.
For a while she sat there, gazing at nothing in particular, watching her own thoughts flow. Then she looked up, to where the pigeon still sat on the curtain rail.
"Oi, birdie", she said, a particular smile dimpling her face. "What are you doing still up there, you steaming great dimwit?"
"Oi, Gala", said the pigeon, and flew down to land on Galadriel's shoulder. She nibbled Galadriel's ear and preened her hair, looking carefully for stray strands and finding none. She snuggled close to Galadriel's neck and began to croon her love to her. "Ooooorrrrrr, Gala, love, Gala, ooooorrrrrr, ooooorrrrr..."
Elf and bird did not need to speak of what had happened. Each knew and understood the other's thoughts. Both knew that Galadriel's words of comfort to her mother, though Eärwen they had comforted indeed, to Galadriel's own ears were hollow. Young as she was, yet she had already, well before this day, chosen for love of the Elves and of Arda a path which would set her forever apart from them; chosen not in naivete or in the careless exuberance of youth, but in knowledge sober, complete and full. Already even Eärwen could no more know Galadriel than an ant, observing a few grains of sand on the shore, could know the whole of Arda; for all that they loved each other, still they were forever apart. For some things there could be no comfort. The feathers of her avian confidante grew damp with Galadriel's tears, and for a long time they sat together unmoving, sharing their minds, sharing their pain, sharing also the mental caresses of love more powerful than quasars, love powerful enough to have drawn together these two unlikely companions across the endless folds of the multiverse into a closeness infinitely more profound than either could share with their own kind.
"Love", said Galadriel to her bird.
"Love", said the bird to her Galadriel.
Galadriel got to her feet, and with the pigeon still snuggling on her shoulder they left the room, to sit in the garden and breathe together the fresh, sweet air of Eldamar.