The Sweary Nuclear Pigeons present...



(Fit the Second)



It was a time of festival in Valinor. Of two such times, great tales of doom are already well known; but at the time of this tale those events lay still in the future, a future that none of the Elves could yet see.

Well, almost none.

The exception had not revealed the knowledge, being aware that to do so would have no useful effect, but would only serve to disturb people's minds and introduce pointless discord to what would otherwise seem a time of peace. Nor would she allow it to weigh on her own mind. This was not so easy, though, when a festival was actually in progress. She could see Elves all around engaged in numerous pastimes which in the present moment brought nothing but pleasure, and she could not help but see the same Elf in future times, never again able to perform that dance or to sing that song without awakening the memories of grief it would come to acquire.

Galadriel preferred to spend the greater part of her time in those areas of the festival most frequented by the Vanyar; it was easier to be among the people who would be the least blighted by the events of a later year. Now half-grown by measure of years, she was already tall, and had none of the awkwardness that often afflicts humans at the equivalent age. With her height and her radiant hair she was a noticeable figure even among the tall and fair-haired Vanyar as she moved through the crowds, accompanied as usual by the nuclear pigeon who nestled on her shoulder.

She stood with a small group of other Elves of the same sort of half-child, half-adult age, occasionally interjecting a remark but content most of the time with listening to the conversation. Alone among the group she was not holding a glass of the powerful Elven wine. Galadriel did not like the way alcohol fuzzed the mind, and Elves were, to her way of thinking, rather too good at producing highly potent brews and rather too fond of inventing excuses to consume them. She preferred a different drink entirely, one containing no alcohol, which she made from the long, oval, pointed leaves of a peculiar herb that she grew herself for the purpose. It was not a drink which had caught on with other Elves, but she wasn't bothered about that.

Finishing her cup, she took her leave and wandered off in search of a refill. She had stashed a bottle out of everyone's way when she had arrived, in a nook behind a sculpture; since she was the only Elf on Arda who liked the stuff she knew it would be necessary to bring her own supply, and she was not keen on the idea of having to cart it round with her the whole time. It was perhaps not the best place to keep something warm, but if it had gone cold the pigeon would always oblige with a beam of fast neutrons to heat it up again.

Galadriel squatted on her heels, set her cup down on the floor and reached behind the statue. Behind her, a figure separated itself unobtrusively from the crowd and moved towards her. It was Fëanor. He had indeed never approached Galadriel since that day some years before when she had, though still only a small child, so thoroughly humiliated him and sent him away defeated. But the lesson he had seemingly learned once and for all on that day had gradually drowned in the slough of his arrogance, and the same foul desire yet remained within him, fuelled by brooding over his humiliation and failure. When he had by chance glanced over and noticed Galadriel retrieving her bottle from behind the statue, a wild idea that he might attain it had flashed across his mind, and on the spur of the moment he acted.

Galadriel retrieved the bottle from behind the statue, removed the cork and commenced to fill her cup.

"Fucking cunt", murmured the pigeon on her shoulder.

"Displaying symptoms of severe pyometritis", replied Galadriel equally quietly.

Fëanor was quite close behind her now. His gaze was fixed on the luxuriant cascade of golden hair that fell down her back. His hand went to his belt.

Galadriel twitched her hand in an almost imperceptible chopping movement.

Fëanor went white. There was a double crack as his radius and ulna fractured; the knife fell from his numbed fingers and clattered on the floor.

"You'll bugger the blade doing that, Fëanor", said Galadriel, without looking round.

Clasping his broken arm, Fëanor groaned in bewilderment and pain. He was sure he had made no sound. How did she know he was there? How did she know he was there?

"My lady, I'm sorry..." he began.

"I am not anybody's lady", said Galadriel, still not turning round, "and you are not sorry. You would do well to leave before you are."

Her voice held no trace of feminine music or Elven beauty. It was flat, completely toneless. It echoed in his ears like the hard and soulless percussion of an enemy machine gun, invisibly spewing its fan of death from somewhere in the mist over a lost and disoriented raiding party on the Somme. It carried the same message: this way lies danger, impersonal and lethal; have a care for the danger, for the danger cares not for you.

But again the flame of anger was taking hold of him. He came no closer, but neither did he leave.

Galadriel got to her feet and leaned against the wall, her arms folded in front of her. "Say your piece and leave, Fëanor", she said, her voice holding the same tone of utter negation. "I have better ways to waste my time than on something like you."

Fëanor's head was ringing. "I want... only... one tress of your hair", he forced out. "I want... to make..." His voice dried in his throat; he gagged on his words.

"You may not have my hair, Fëanor", said Galadriel. "You may have nought of me. I have told you this once before. You do not want to know what will happen if I have cause to tell you again. Do not put yourself in a position where you will find out. Now leave."

The room seemed dark to him, indistinct, as through mist, and the light of Galadriel's hair was a pain to his eyes. She was defying him. Again. Was he going to let this happen? When the rest of the Elves all deferred to him, was he going to let this chit tell him what to do?

"Fëanor", said a voice behind him, but he did not hear it.

At the touch of a hand on his shoulder he whirled - to find himself looking into the face of Finwë, his father, the one elf for whom he held any respect. "Fëanor", said Finwë again. "Come away."

Fëanor bowed his head. Though he would never have admitted how much he welcomed it, this was a golden opportunity to back out without losing face. He knew that otherwise, broken arm or no, he would be compelled to resort to force. And he could not hide from himself the even more certain knowledge that he would never get near her and the memory of the attempt would remain a raw scar for years.

Finwë, his hand still on Fëanor's shoulder, turned him around and began to lead him away. As he went he looked back at Galadriel, who smiled at him in return. "Thanks, Grandad", she said, and then mouthed silently, "Don't tell Mum."

Finwë winked; he understood. Galadriel was appalled at the possibility that her mother might be put in a position where she would be the first Elf in Arda to spill the blood of another, and she had arranged for Finwë to know of Eärwen's threat. While he knew nothing of the reason for it, and deemed it better not to inquire, he was fully aware that his daughter-in-law would not make such a threat unless the reason was an extremely good one, and he did not doubt that with the strength of whatever force had pushed her to such a pitch she would be unhesitating and successful in its execution. Finwë had therefore by subtle means done anything he deemed necessary to reduce the likelihood of the need for the threat to be invoked.

Galadriel gave a long, deep sigh and looked up at the ceiling. "Stupid, fucking, bastard, piece of shit", she muttered. She let her arms fall to her sides. "Fuuuck's sake." With another sigh she turned her head to the pigeon still nestling on her shoulder. "Oh, birdie, birdie, birdie", she said, "what are we gonna do?"

"At least none of the other buggers saw", said the pigeon. "And your Grandad's cool."

"Yeah, Mum won't find out", Galadriel smiled. "But this is it... there's always bloody someone. First Mum and now Grandad, turning up and seeing what's going on. Who'll it be next time? Dad? Dad wouldn't piss about, he'd skewer the cunt on the spot without a word. I'm not having Dad with blood on his hands on my account even if it is the blood of that piece of shit. Especially if it's the blood of that piece of shit. And there will be a next time, because both times there's been someone else he can blame so he doesn't have to admit to being afraid of a young girl of the line of Indis. Stupid bigoted jealous cunt."

"I could make him a portable CD player", suggested the pigeon. "One that would appeal to his ego, so he'd be sure to use it."

Galadriel gave her bird a look.

"OK, arsehole", she said when she reckoned the look had gone on long enough. "I know you don't mean with a bomb in it because there are a million better and easier delivery options, so which particular step in your feathered-fuckbrained illogic am I missing?"

"Oh you noh", said the bird. "A really good one, top notch, the ultimate in audio quality, more bit depth than you can bip a dit at, oversampling to fuck and back, pure class A analogue section, super duper pooper scooper, the works. Nickel plated, because... er... because it looks cool and I've never seen anyone here use it so it would be different an' special an' that. And a pair of headphones, done to match, designed without compromise purely for maximum quality sound reproduction and fuck anything else."

Galadriel considered this, and grinned.

"Boron chainmail helmet not supplied, provision of such is user's responsibility, warranty claims in respect of any adverse consequences of failing to heed this warning will be considered void?"

"Bingo", confirmed the pigeon.

"Headphones like these, in fact." She held her hands facing upwards in her lap, and a pair of headphones matching the pigeon's specification appeared in her palms. The pigeon looked at them. Galadriel looked at the pigeon. "Which you put together just now while we were talking about it, if I know my bird." She separated the two earpieces and moved to put them on.

"Gala, no, for fuck's sake!" cried the horrified pigeon, trying to climb up the side of Galadriel's head to be as much in the way as possible. "Gala! They are fucking real! Stop it!"

"Sssshhhhh", she said, putting the headphones down and gently folding the bird's wings. She lifted the pigeon off her shoulder, put her in her lap, and stroked her back with one finger. She held the bird with her eyes for a few seconds, and spoke softly. "I am Galadriel." She put the headphones on.

"No increase in activity", reported the bird weakly, "yesverygoodGalawillyoupleasetakethefuckingthingsOFF?"

Galadriel smiled, and the headphones vanished.

The pigeon flew back onto Galadriel's shoulder and rammed her beak deep into Galadriel's ear. "Gala, you crazy fucking shit, my love, don't do things like that", she said in a muffled voice.

Galadriel laid her opposite hand gently over the bird's back. "Ah, birdie, my love, I'm sorry, did that really frighten you? My bird, surely you of all people know who I am by now?"

"Gala, my love, I'm sorry too", mumbled the bird deep inside her ear canal. "It's instinct... I hatched with the built-in understanding of nuclear systems. It works the same as if I saw you on the bottom of a lake not moving..." She pulled her beak out of Galadriel's ear and nibbled her cheek. "Or at least, if I saw anyone else on the bottom of a lake not moving. If it was you I'd probably just think you were talking to a really interesting fish."

Galadriel made fish noises at the pigeon. "Blup... Blup... Blup... Na, never met one yet that had anything much to say. Crayfish, now..." She shook her head. "I can't let you do that, birdie", she said. "The fucker's deeds and their consequences are too closely modelled in the Music. He will die in any case before all that much longer... but until then he has to stay alive and well and being a bigger and bigger and bigger giant fucking cunt to everyone or it'll break the Design. And you know that is one thing I will never fuck with."

"Of course", murmured the pigeon, as a bolt of love passed between them.

"A curious paradox, though", continued Galadriel after a pause. "Self-defence is "within the rules", as you might say, but being so fully able to defend myself in warding off attacks makes it all the more restrictive a rule... whereas another Elf might justifiably kill him or be killed, since he can't make a successful attack on me in the first place, there's a lot less I'm justified in doing to stop him making one at all... I'll fucking well do something, though", she said, thumping her knee for emphasis. "Fuck spending all the rest of my time here looking over my shoulder for that cunt. The next time he tries it it will have to be at a place and a time of my own choosing, where there is no chance of anyone else turning up, putting themselves at risk and giving him an excuse to not learn the lesson. And then, my birdie..." - and anyone but the birdie would have run for their life at the sight of her eyes - "...then, learn - he - fucking - well - will. I am not having this. That cunt will learn respect if it's the last thing he fucking does." She paused. "And maybe it is... No, I won't look now... ngh", she grunted as she forced herself to look outwards again.

"Can't be doing with this", said the pigeon, and materialised a large black pointy hat on Galadriel's head. "If you ain't got respect, you ain't got a thing."

Galadriel burst out laughing. "You feathery fucking twat", she said affectionately. "Arwen."

"And I'd not be bloody here an' all, is it", said the bird. "Oh Gala, you great love, you don't half come out with them... the only time I ever regret not being an anthropoid is when I can't give you a massive great big hug", and she stuck her beak back in Galadriel's ear and began to croon to her. "Ooooooorrrrrrrr, oooooooorrrrrrrr, ooooooorrrrrr..."

"Only to you, birdie, because you understand... I love you too", said Galadriel, pressing gently with her hand on the bird's back. "We are a right old pair of fucking cunts aren't we..."

Still Galadriel made no move to rejoin the party. That she could ward off any attack with trivial ease and no danger to herself did not mean that she would not be upset by the attempt, and all the more so with the risk that her family might be drawn into danger from which she could not save them without defacing the Design. Her festive mood, somewhat half-hearted to begin with, was gone; she would rather be on her own for a while. For a long time she simply sat where she was, making herself inconspicuous, exchanging loving nonsenses with her bird.

Suddenly she sprang to her feet with a look of dismay. "Oh, shit, that stupid bastard", she exclaimed. "And Mum stayed at home today..." Galadriel began to run, dodging swiftly through the throng and out into the street, where she headed for home at top speed.

"Gala... Gala... Gala... Gala... Gala, please, love, easy", said the bird on her shoulder, pecking insistently on Galadriel's cheek and eventually managing to attract some of her attention. "Gala, let me do it... Wings are a lot faster than legs, there's a decent chance I'll make it in time..."

"He has to stay alive, birdie", panted Galadriel, not slowing down at all. "Much as I wish it were otherwise..."

"I know, my love, don't worry, I understand about that. This is for you, Gala, not for me..." She sprang from Galadriel's shoulder and shot off down the street at a tremendous pace, cooing The Ride of the Valkyries as she went. Galadriel, in spite of herself, found herself laughing too much to keep running and had to ease her pace.

Have a care, birdie, she sent after the departing pigeon.

Nearly as hard a target as you, Gala, you know me. I'll be right, returned the bird.

Wings are indeed faster than legs, especially when driven by the power of disintegrating nuclei, and the pigeon made it with a couple of hundred yards to spare. She settled on the plinth of a statue that Fëanor was about to pass.

"Wotcher, fart features, you horrible piece of shit", she said.

Fëanor stopped and looked. It was that ruddy talking bird again. He was sure the thing made a point of shitting on him whenever it could. Especially first thing in the morning, and they were huge, and reeked. Now here it was within range at last. With the speed of lightning he drew his sword with his good hand and lashed out.

"Ooooo, shinies", said the pigeon, looking at the blobs of molten metal spattered down the street. Fëanor clasped his burnt hand between his legs and swore.

"Fuck looking at your ugly mug any longer than I have to", remarked the bird. Fëanor's world went groink. Had anybody else been there to see, they would have thought he had simply vanished. From his own point of view, things were slightly different. Some sort of container was enclosing his head, and his next breath consisted not of air but of vile, rotting sewage. With frantic disgust he tried one-handedly to wrench his head free, only to find that the opening, while amply wide for his neck, was definitely too small to permit the passage of his skull. Festering, sloppy turds, disintegrating tissue and noisome stinking liquid, mixed with his own vomit, cascaded down his body. Eventually the container had emptied enough to allow him to breathe again and he sucked in a desperate lungful, only to instantly vomit again as the stench hit him full force.

Got the cunt, Gala, sent the bird. Success one hundred percent. He still had two hundred yards to go. All safe, and nobody saw it. Panic off.

Galadriel, still far behind, brought herself to a relieved halt. Thanks, birdie, she replied. Nice one. Don't tell me what you did, I can smell something through you from here and I don't think I want to know any more... Her smile came to the pigeon as clearly as if the bird had still been sitting on her shoulder.

Nor does he, the bird sent. Only he hasn't got the option, har har har. Oooooo, this is going to be fun.

Don't be too long, birdie, I want you back...

No prob, Gala, he's stuck in one of those idiots' fake realities. Time is not a problem... I won't be a tick.

Fëanor was finding it a very big problem. Any time spent with his head still stuck in this horrendous foulness was too much, but try as he might he could find no way to get it off. All his struggles achieved was to dislodge the less-liquid components of the sewage which had stuck to the sides of the container, and cause them to fall down and accumulate around his neck until his mouth was once again in danger of being submerged.

"Aaargghh, what the fuck is this thing?" he said in baffled fury. "Fucking cunt!"

Muffled, but unmistakable, the voice of the pigeon came in reply. "It's a shit-can, you dumb fuck. For putting shits in. Wassup, don't you like the company of your own kind?"

"Get the fucking thing off me!" yelled Fëanor. "I'll fucking kill you! Get me the fuck out of this or I'll fucking have you for breakfast!"

"Oooooo, temper, temper", said the pigeon. "Ickle diddums thwowing tantwums, is he? Naughty boy go to bed with no supper for that. Tut, tut, tut."

"AAAAAAAAAAAARRRGGHHHHHHH!!!" Maddened by his impotence against the filth he was trapped in and the pigeon's supercilious, taunting contempt, Fëanor lost it. Waving his arms dementedly, he charged blindly about in a mad, futile attempt to catch the unseen pigeon. With a loud clang he ran into a wall, slamming his face into the sludge adhering to the inside of the shit-can and forcing some of it up inside his squashed nose. Half-stunned, he fell back heavily onto his arse and added a badly bruised coccyx to his list of woes.

The pigeon looked at the patch of fresh wetness seeping through the front of his trousers. "Boys who wet themselves go back into nappies", she observed. "Wouldn't want that, now would we?"

"You fucking shit", hissed Fëanor. "You cunt. It was that fucking witch put you up to this, wasn't it... I'll fucking well..."

"You will fucking well shut up and listen, Fëanor", said the pigeon, her voice switching from mocking sugary sweetness to a cold, hard rasp. "You consider yourself cold, hard, ruthless. Compared to me you are weak, soft, tender, as helpless as a new-born child. I would burn your eyes out of your skull for thinking of Galadriel in those terms and I would derive great pleasure from doing it. It is to Galadriel that you owe your continued existence. Galadriel is fundamentally a nice person. I am not. I am a 'orrible cunt. I enjoy your pain and suffering. You do not want to know what your life would be like if it were not for Galadriel forbidding me to do to you as I would like."

"I will get you", Fëanor ground out. "And I will get Galadriel... I will..."

"Oh, you do want to know, is it?" said the pigeon. "Very well, then."

A profound agony took hold of Fëanor, a pain as if every cell of his body was filled with molten rock. He tried to scream, but could not; to make the slightest sound brought the sensation of his throat being torn out through his mouth by the withdrawal of a diseased penis covered in fish hooks. His skin was stretched tightly over his jutting bones and he was consumed with a vast hunger. A bowl of meat, so rotten it was entirely liquid, garnished with snot and turds, was just within reach. Fighting desperately against the searing pain that flared to even greater agony with the slightest movement, after five minutes of struggle he managed to dip his finger in the bowl; it felt like he had laid it on an anvil and had it smashed with a large hammer. After five more minutes of struggle he brought his finger to his mouth and licked off the drop of putrescent filth. He swallowed, and further waves of pain swept through him as he fought to avoid losing the nutrition in vomit. He had not even managed to snag the sweetness of a bogie. He never did. Despairingly he began again the slow process of raising his arm to the bowl. The decomposed slime was the only sustenance he ever had, the effort of attaining even that consuming all the nourishment he derived from it; there could be no pause in his efforts, not even briefly, so fine was the balance between succeeding and failing to obtain enough to sustain life. A lake of unutterably foul shit, his own accumulated excretions for four thousand years, reached up to his knees. Every second of those four thousand years remained present in his memory with the same clarity as the experience of the moment. He could not escape; the walls of his prison were not of brick or stone but were the very bounds of space itself. He could not even find the will to die. He had no future other than that of countless millennia of this agonising existence while the level of his own shit rose around him with torturous slowness until in some ageless future it would cover his nose and drown him... and even that end was not certain.

"And that's just one possibility", the pigeon's voice sounded in the dungeon. "You could spend twenty thousand years like that... and in my timescale it might be only twenty minutes, which would still be plenty of time for me to decide how you would be spending your next twenty thousand years and make sure they were even more fun. And so it would go on."

The horrific vision faded, but the memory remained with awful clarity. Fëanor slumped against the wall and sobbed into the inside of the shit-can.

"Aaaaaa, ickle baby cwy", said the pigeon. "Ickle baby want his mummy? Oh, no, ickle baby kiwwed his mummy taking so much of her life force she could not remain living, not even in the Blessed Realm. Ickle baby just have to cwy, then."

An insubstantial force slammed into Fëanor's stomach with the impact of a sledgehammer, causing him to retch helplessly and wail even louder.

"You are filth, Fëanor", said the pigeon. "You think you're the dog's bollocks, the greatest ever, fuckin' ra ra ra. You are not. You are the foulest piece of shit ever to disgrace the name of the Elves. You may want to be known as some sort of fucking hero, but you face the insuperable difficulty that you are in truth not one, you are only a cunt and a diseased turd. You have pissed me off. That was a mistake. Now listen while I tell you what I am going to do about it."

Fëanor groaned as another pain struck him, a hot ache and a bursting sensation in the core of his bones. Slowly it faded, transforming into a vague but distinctly uncomfortable sensation that his bones itched with disease, accompanied by a stabbing headache.

"That a being cannot die from being poisoned", said the pigeon conversationally, "does not mean that it cannot still be put to inconvenience. Your bones are now loaded with a poison by the name of strontium 90. It is bound into the innermost structure of your bones so deeply that there is no way to get it out. In beings that can die of poison, strontium 90 releases its energy slowly over many decades, shortening the being's lifespan drastically and causing an early, slow and painful death. In your case it will operate slightly differently. I can arrange for it to release its several decades' worth of energy all at once, and the results are not pleasant. To you, at any rate, though they are rather amusing to me. I wonder which of your fingers you use the least? I would guess it is the little finger of your left hand, although I don't really give a shit. I shall use that finger to demonstrate my meaning, because it forms an amusing parallel with an event in a tale which you do not know. Raise your left hand."

Barely knowing what he was doing, Fëanor complied.

The distal phalanx of his little finger throbbed with stabbing pain for a couple of seconds, and then burst. Fëanor screamed. The end of his finger, pulverised from the inside, hung limply for a brief period, gradually swelling into a taut, purple balloon that sent an agonising bolt of pain up his arm at the slightest contact.

"You will note, also, that you have a severe headache", continued the pigeon. "That is caused by the tissues of your brain adjusting to the presence of the device I have implanted within them. This device will monitor your actions to detect whether you are performing any kind of approach to or attack upon Galadriel. If it does detect that you are doing such a thing it will react first by warning you, with the same pain that you felt in your finger just before the bone exploded. If you do not heed this warning it will commence to trigger the poison selectively so as to explode your bones one by one until either you do take heed or you do not have enough of your skeleton remaining intact to be physically able to continue. The same will happen if either you or anyone else attempt to remove or disable the system. Since you cannot be trusted to behave yourself of your own accord it is necessary for me to enforce good behaviour upon you. You owe to Galadriel that I have not enforced it any more severely than I have."

"You are a total fucking cunt", muttered Fëanor. "You are a complete, massive, total fucking cunt..."

"I told you that", said the pigeon. "Got any more useless shit to flap out of that hole in your face?"

Fëanor said nothing.

"Good", said the pigeon. "Now fuck off."

The shit-can vanished from Fëanor's head, though the sewage saturating his clothing remained. He wiped the shit from his eyes and looked around. There was no sign of the pigeon. There was no sign of anything, in fact. He found himself standing in the middle of a vast, empty plain that stretched to the horizon in an unbroken sea of waving grass.

The land of Aman is huge, and much of it is uninhabited. It was in such an area that Fëanor, back in the genuine reality of Arda, now stood. The pigeon had selected the spot with care and precision, ensuring that whatever direction Fëanor should decide to take, it would strain - but definitely not break - his endurance before he found a watercourse to slake his thirst and wash the shit off himself, and would take him a few months more to walk back to the inhabited regions.

The pigeon, of course, had no such problem. Not only did she want to get back to Galadriel, the risk that removing a significant entity from the true reality of Arda even for an instant might cause a disruption was one she was no more willing than Galadriel to take. Galadriel herself had the smoothness, the power and delicacy of touch to slip herself safely in and out of her own timeline with the certainty of avoiding harm, but Galadriel, of course, was an exceptional case. The pigeon had, accordingly, after stealing the fake reality from a handy Vera, decohered its timeline from that of Arda, so the time Fëanor had spent in it did not exist in the true reality and he had not in fact been out of reality for any time at all; his existence in Arda did have a discontinuity on the spatial axes, but the current epoch was easily elastic enough to accept that, and on the time axis discontinuity there was none. For the pigeon, since she had made her exit before depositing Fëanor in the wilderness, there was no spatial discontinuity either. She was already tearing up the air on her way back to Galadriel's side.

Galadriel, still a little out of breath from running, was lying on her back on a grassy bank, her ankles crossed over each other, one hand under her head, her other arm at her side, the umbrella of a tree arching overhead. The pigeon thumped to the ground next to her and pressed herself hard against the side of Galadriel's head, her own head at Galadriel's eye level. She preened Galadriel's eyebrow and stretched one wing across her face in an awkward attempt at a hug. Galadriel laid her free hand across the pigeon's back and gently stirred her breast feathers with her thumb. The two of them gazed into each other's near eyes at an inch range.

The pigeon felt she would burst with love for this wonderful elf, who had reached out through all the folds of time and space in search of a friend with whom to share the vast vistas of vision and understanding that she could never share with anyone of her own world, some being who could be close enough to want to walk down the ages with her and help her keep alive her hope. The pigeon wanted nothing else. Young and utterly alone, she had given little thought to her own future beyond simply staying alive; she had loved Galadriel instantly, and knew without question that their companionship would be inestimably more rewarding than she would ever know with her own kind. If anything threatened or upset Galadriel she felt it as Galadriel herself did and took it straight to heart. To know that her love was relieved from worry for some good long time yet made her the happiest bird in Arda and Tellus combined.

Galadriel loved the bird right back. No more than the pigeon did she care about their different species. She had found someone with a mind nearly on the level of her own, a level way above that of any other mind of Arda; someone not only whom she could trust as one to share her any thought and every feeling, but who would understand, deeply and completely, and sympathise, no matter how wild or vast the thought or how intimately personal or secretive the feeling. Someone who could see every bit of her, every blemish, every hidden thorn, and who saw only more to love. Someone who knew and understood the demands she would make and considered them no demand at all, but only pleasure; who knew she would take far more than she could give, but would see her as giving far more than she took. Someone who knew exactly who and what she was, in all her awful greatness, and yet loved her all the more for it.

Neither of them thought they deserved the other. Both of them loved each other all the more for it. For an indefinite time they lay on the grass feeling only their pure happiness at being together.

"Time and place of your own choosing, Gala, my love", murmured the bird eventually. "Can't do a thing unless you allow it. All done using stuff from my reality, so yours is safe."

"Oh, birdie", said Galadriel. "And yours?"

"Of course, Gala", said the pigeon. "Different foundations... doesn't have that problem."

"Mmmmm... I've never really looked", mused Galadriel. "Maybe I won't look..."

"Yet", whispered the pigeon, only just loud enough for Galadriel to hear.

"Oh, birdie", said Galadriel very softly, and pressed the small, feathered body to her head as tightly as she dared. The pigeon tried to wriggle even closer, and crooned to Galadriel with matching softness.

Again they stayed unmoving for an unmeasured time, sharing their thoughts of what only they knew. It was the distant sound of voices that eventually roused them, the sound of festival-goers beginning to make their way home.

"Shall we go, birdie?" said Galadriel. "Mum'll want me home when Dad gets in, and I'm not ready yet..."

The pigeon nibbled the top of Galadriel's ear in reply.

They were sitting on a sofa upholstered in a burgundy-themed paisley pattern, still in as close an approximation to a cuddle as their differences in size and anatomy would allow, the gentle whir of cooling fans and the cosy warmth of the waste heat from three large RTGs surrounding them. Galadriel gave a blissful sigh, and truly relaxed as only an Elf can do.

"Dump compared to yours, eh, Gala", crooned the pigeon, nibbling Galadriel's ear again.

"It's a refuge, my love", said Galadriel. "Safe, in the sanctuary, safe..."

"Ooooooorrrrrr, oooooorrrrrrr, ooooooorrrrrr, oooooorrrrrrr..."

"As you very well know", the elf continued. "No worries here, no time. I can just sit and be with you..."

"Galadriel", whispered the bird very quietly.

- She is a vicious little thing, isn't she? She never did tell me all of what she did, though I guessed most of it. My fiery little birdie, soppy as a sponge... and do not believe that she really is a 'orrible cunt. She's a love... and if I am not careful I will find myself becoming just as soppy as she is Galadriel x

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