Love is No Sacrifice|
Rating – K
Summary – Galadriel faces a difficult choice when given a glimpse into the future.
Pale and silent as a mortal ghost the lady walked barefoot through her forest home, trying to name the feeling tapping at the corner of her mind like fingernails on well worn, polished wood. Almost, almost she could make out the rhythm but just as she thought she had it pinned down it would squirm away again, changing the beat, jarring her senses and she would have to start again, listening intently in an effort to make sense of it, bring it back under control.
Her feet continued on their way regardless of the fact that her mind was occupied elsewhere.
Small droplets of moisture began to bead upon her brow, an indication of just how hard she worked although at first glance her face would appear serene and untouched by strife of any kind. It was in the eyes though that it showed. Palest blue they were like early spring skies washed clean by the rain but in them dwelled the pain and wisdom of a million lifetimes.
She walked on.
Lightening shattered the blue black skies above the small encampment accompanied by a shrill scream which wrenched at the heart of the dark haired man pacing up and down outside the largest tent, seemingly unaware of the sodden grey cloak twining itself around his lean form. The storm was growing worse yet he would not allow himself to be moved away to the nearby dry warmth of his second’s home. It was as if in some way he felt he needed to suffer as his wife did, to share vicariously in her torment, even if he could not feel the pain he so desperately wished he could spare her from.
Imprecations, threats and pleas spilt from his lips in a ceaseless murmur although to whom they were addressed he could not have said. All he knew was that his beloved wife languished merely a few feet away and he was powerless to help.
Another flash lit the sky, another scream rent the air and he could bear it no more. Rushing to the covered entrance he snatched it aside with her name loud upon his lips only to be met with the sturdy form and steely eyes of his law mother.
“You have no place here!”
Pushed forcefully but gently back into the night the man bit back a barbed retort before resuming his repetitive march, hands clenching and unclenching uselessly at his sides at the anguished sounds he could not close his ears to, however much he tried.
The noise of the twin storms continued around him, masking the sound of approaching footsteps and causing him to spin wildly, reaching for the knife at his belt, as he felt the weight of a hand on his shoulder.
“All is well, my friend.” His second stepped back, hands spread wide, his rugged face open and smiling. “I thought you may need some company,” he paused, holding up a large jug for inspection. “And maybe a drink to calm the nerves.”
Holding the vessel out to his chief the ranger raised grizzled eyebrows and with a tilt of his head motioned for him to accept the offer. A heartbeat, two and the proposition was accepted, the jug lifted to lips dry with concern, the warm, spiced liquid within swallowed as if it contained the very essence of life.
“Aye Ingold,” the man nodded his thanks with a smile as he handed the jug back. “Just what I needed.”
Passing the jug back and forth between them in comfortable camaraderie the two men stood in silent understanding as the rain continued its constant inundation, bouncing off the worn canvas shelters in a repetitive percussion but not quite loud enough to mask the noises still emanating from the tent behind them.
Moving softly over the dewy grass, leaving not even the trace of a footprint to mark her passing, the lady meandered in seemingly random fashion, although those who knew her well would say nothing she undertook was ever random. The gentle glow of moonlight washed her with its argent light, enhancing the ethereal beauty of her form, yet hiding the determined concentration set upon a face oft marked as the fairest of all the elves. Her mind, however, was elsewhere.
A ragged encampment set upon the side of a storm tossed hill came into her inner vision, as if viewed through a gauze veil. Thunder rolled and lightening flashed overhead as the canvas shelters jostled and shook, looking for all the world as if they would be swept away by the wind and rain. Trying hard to press her awareness through the gloom and understand what it was she was seeing the lady began to tremble with effort, swaying where she stood although of her body she had no cognizance.
Another flash of lightening suddenly illuminated the scene and where she had thought the camp’s inhabitants to be all tucked up within and sheltering from the storm, realised that she was mistaken as two dark figures hove into view, drenched from head to foot, yet appearing to be nonchalantly passing a flask of drink between them. This was a puzzle indeed.
Another press of her mind brought the men closer into view and she gasped as the grey cloaks they wore, their pale skin and dark hair revealed them to be rangers from the north, dunedain. There was something more to be seen here for certain.
All of a sudden the scene changed and for a moment, disorientation brought a wave of dizziness that unbeknownst brought her body to its knees before her vision cleared and brought with it the view of a half clad woman, bathed in sweat labouring hard upon a bed of rushes. A babe, she was witnessing the birth of a babe and from the troubled air surrounding the midwife, it was not going easily.
“I remember my first.” Ingold broke the silence with a smile and nudged his friend gently. “That feeling of helplessness. Of wanting to rush in there and do something, anything, to help but not being able to. The fear that something will go wrong, that you will lose her, lose them.” He paused to lay a comforting hand upon his friends shoulder as a particularly loud scream ripped through the air. “It will be fine, my friend. Mildgyd knows what she is about. My five little blighters can attest to that.” He chuckled, pleased to see an answering smile flicker on the chieftains usually grim lips.
“I know, I am being stupid, but…” the younger man shrugged. “It is taking so long and I do not know what I would do if I lost her Ingold.” He turned troubled grey eyes to his friend. “And something is telling me we do not have long together.”
Images began to shimmer and change with increasing rapidity as the lady attempted in vain to pin them down. The newborn babe, swaddled and held in arms clad in worn leather as his father greeted him for the first time. A young mother smiling with happiness as she watched a toddler take his first steps. The swarm of orcs beaten off and destroyed just too late to stop the single, black fletched arrow from finding its mark. Tears and heartbreak while a young child with wide eyes clutches his mother’s hand and watches in incomprehension as his father’s body is consigned to the flames.
Emotions race through her body in time with the images until she feels as buffeted as a leaf in the middle of a tornado yet still they come. Imladris, once home to the beloved daughter now lost over the sea. Elrond, his arms extended in welcome to someone only half seen then kneeling beside a small boy offering comfort and love. Her law son turning aside as a young woman pleads for sanctuary, her child crying at her side. A youth, learning the art of warfare from identical tutors, her own grandchildren, growing to love and respect them as in turn they gradually discover that there is more to life than revenge. That same pair lying, crushed and broken, their blood mingled with the mud upon which they have fallen. The first blossoming of love between a young man and her own granddaughter as they meet for the first time in a sheltered glade in the hidden vale. Darkness and war spreading over the land as an elleth with the face of a legend hides atop a great mallorn tree. A glint of gold that disappears each time she seeks to bring it to focus, her law son’s tear stained face as he watches his daughter wed, radiant in her happiness, then turn and walk away to leave him forever without a backward glance. That same lord, with his daughter at his side, sailing over the sea whilst darkness reaches out across the land they leave behind.
Scraps of images that may or may not yet come to pass.
The images fade and she is back once more in the stifled confines of a canvas shelter, watching as a young woman struggles to bring forth new life. Her heart bleeds as all finally comes together with blinding clarity. For the world to have a chance this babe must live. Yet if he lives…
Tears spill from her eyes as she makes her choice and crumples to the ground, bereft and sobbing. “This time heals all.” Her voice, broken and light as a breeze whispers into the night. “This time heals all.”
Before the older ranger could form an answer another, protracted scream rent the air before being abruptly curtailed and both men spun around to stare at the covered entrance, fear suddenly clutching at their hearts.
Silence fell over the camp, even the storm calmed as if in dreadful anticipation. Seconds stretched out into seeming eternity until a strident cry burst the bubble of stillness and sound rushed back to reclaim the night.
Rushing forwards on feet once more able to move, the chieftain tore aside the canvas cover and hurried through the doorway, towards the small group of women gathered around the room’s focal point. Unimpeded this time he hurried forward until at last his eyes found what they sought and he fell to his knees beside a low bed of rushes, struck dumb with love and awe.
“Arathorn,” his wife whispered proudly, exhaustion oozing from every pore. “Meet your son, Aragorn.”