Elrond Halfelven, Lord of Imladris, bent intently over the papers in his study. He scrutinized their thin, slanting characters closely, pausing every few words to copy them afresh onto the blank pages near his right hand. The pages were old—many were water stained, fading, or smeared—and he did the work as he would let no other do. His records of lore would be as pure as they had been forever, with no room for copy errors; if anyone would be at fault, it would be himself.
A knock on the door disturbed the palpable silence that had filled the room for the past three hours.
“Enter,” he said, without looking up.
In the light that spilled in from the opened doorway, he could make out Glorfindel.
“My lord Elrond, the lady Galadriel and her consort have arrived, and the Council is ready to convene.”
“At once, Glorfindel?”
“At once. The lady bade me tell you to make haste.” He smiled.
Elrond raised his eyebrows. “Indeed?” He lay down his quill. “Well, I should hate to disappoint her. Tell her that I shall meet her momentarily, and the Council shall convene.”
Glorfindel bowed, and left.
Elrond found the lady Galadriel and many of the folk of Lórien in the Hall—the lady embracing her husband, who had been a long time in Imladris.
“Galadriel,” said Elrond, trying to suppress a laugh. “You have found Celeborn, I trust?”
“Yes, though I marvel that you are here to see him,” she chided. “He tells me you’ve been shut up for days.”
“Regrettably, but someone had to get the job done.”
Galadriel looked at her husband in a silent what did I tell you before taking his proffered arm. “Shall we ?”
“Certainly,” said Elrond, moving towards the doors to close them.
“Wait,” said Celeborn. “My lord Elrond, do you object to my daughter Celebrian continuing your work in the study?”
He opened his mouth to tell Celeborn just how difficult the it was and that anyone without a thorough background in archaic language would be lost in it, when the girl appeared at her father’s side and his attention was diverted. Her long dark hair flickered in the firelight, and her eyes shone up at him with a piercing light, as of stars.
“I have been well trained with words, my lord Elrond,” she said softly. “I assure you that if the task becomes too difficult I shall leave the rest to you.”
“Very well my lady,” he said astonished, extending her his arm. “I shall escort you to the study, and then we shall convene this Council,” he threw over his shoulder to Galadriel.
When they had gone, Galadriel turned to look her husband in the eyes as Elrond’s councilors milled around them. Was that your idea of—
Yes, and I think it went rather well.
He hasn’t even met her properly yet.
That doesn’t matter. I saw the look in his eyes.
She gave him an appraising look, tossing her hair playfully over her shoulder, causing his eyes to smolder. Looks don’t mean everything.
* * * * *
“The study, my lady,” said Elrond, letting her in the door and crossing the room to refuel the fire. The clutter, he realized too late, was never bothersome to him, but he had never intended any but a precious few to enter this room, and it now seemed a trifle embarrassing. She didn’t seem to mind though, as he stole glances at her while she looked around. She took in everything with interest, but not with awe.
“This is the current volume of work,” he said when the fire was blazing again, indicating the empty leaves on the desk and the worn pages next to them. “It is—“
“—the history of Thingol,” she finished, looking into his eyes. “ I am familiar with it.”
Elrond was taken aback. Surely she was nearly as familiar with these lore volumes as he, which was no mean feat. “ I will leave you to work them, my lady.”
He was at the door and her quill was already scratching when he turned. “And Celebrian.”
She looked up.
She looked at him again, with a gaze as blue and pure as the sky, and the light of her eyes lay on him gently so that he doubted he would ever forget the intensity of her glance.
“No my lord, thank you.”
* * * * *
It was decided in the Council after much deliberation to maintain Imladris as the elvish stronghold in Eregion. Gil-Galad gave at this time to Elrond Vilya, the Blue Ring, and appointed him his vice-regent. The feast that evening rivaled any ever seen in Imladris before, so great was the joy.
When Elrond entered as the master of the hall, he found all of his councilors, guests, and many of the folk of Imladris assembled for him, but his eyes fell upon Celebrian. She was dressed in a whispering gown of silver that looked like mist under the starlight, and her dark hair was coiled behind her, bound with tiny flowers of adamant that glittered in the dancing fires. Elrond let his eyes rest upon her for a moment before taking his seat and beginning the feast; from that moment on, he loved Celebrian, daughter of Celeborn and Galadriel, but told no one of his secret.
* * * * *
The time came for Celeborn and Galadriel to leave Imladris, and Celebrian went with them—they were journeying south to Gwathló and Ethir Anduin in Belfalas. For a time afterward Elrond’s entire household, but especially Glorfindel, noted a change in him. He did not leave his work undone, but spent much time staring into the fire or out of the window, always to the South. He was quieter, and even more reserved than was his wont. All wondered at this change, for though it did him no obvious ill, it seemed to weigh on his mind like a heavy shadow.
Unknown to his household and all but his most trusted smith, Elrond had sent for a secret ring to be made. He had considered long its design, and had finally instructed his smith to create two thin branches with small leaves intertwining around white gems, all of mithril and adamant. He carried it on a fine chain about his neck, under his robes, and refused to remove it, even in sleep. It rested over his sternum, never ceasing to hear the beating of his heart that each day longed more and more for the day Celebrian would return.
* * * * *
Celebrian had thought nothing of her work in lord Elrond’s study from the off—it had seemed to her a good alternative to listening to councilors debate, but then she had seen his eyes as he had turned to her in the doorway, and she saw something in them she could not place, something she did not know. After that, she knew instinctively when he was looking at her; she had taken extra care with her dress for dinner that evening as a test for just such an eventuality, and when he had looked on her again she had seen the same emotion, stronger and more overpowering than ever, and at the same time a strange soaring in her chest, as though her heart had grown wings.
Now that they were away, she thought she might put him out of mind, but her thoughts kept drifting back to him: the high line of his forehead, his deep blue eyes like the sea under the sun, his hands and the way they smoothly wrote out his works of lore, his careful judgment, and his well-placed words. She longed to see him again, longed to let him lay eyes on her, longed to learn if the strange emotion behind his eyes was the selfsame one that made her heart soar.
* * * * *
When they returned to Imladris, Elrond was there to greet them. Glorfindel watched as he greeted Celebrian, and he looked as though ages had lifted from his face. The elf considered them—he thought he knew what was afoot now.
Celebrian greeted Elrond, not knowing that he prepared to ask her father for her hand, and searched his face and in his eyes for the strange emotion she had seen there before. She found none, because he had no longer any question about his love for her, but she knew it not, and turned to walk in the garden so that he would not see the light in her eyes through a glass of tears.
Elrond led Celeborn and Galadriel into the house, and they sat to talk of many things. At a lull, Elrond took a sip of wine and steeled himself to ask the question that he knew his happiness rested upon. “Celeborn, I have a matter of some importance to bring to you.”
“Oh?” said Celeborn, setting down his own glass. “Pray continue.”
“I would…” Elrond marshaled all his courage. “I would like to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage, if she will consent to have me.”
Celeborn looked at his wife, and she at him, then turned to the lord of Imladris. “Kinsman, nothing would give us greater joy.”
“Then I may ask her?”
“When you deem the time right.”
Elrond set his own glass on the table and strode quickly out of the room.
Galadriel turned to her husband. “He certainly seems sure of himself on this matter, Celeborn. He must have considered it for quite some time. Elves don’t take this lifelong commitment business lightly.”
“I know meleth,” said Celeborn, leaning over to kiss her forehead and put his arm around her. “I know.”
* * * * *
Elrond gave a moment’s thought to searching the house, for it had been hours since anyone had seen Celebrian, but something told him that she was still in the garden. Twilight had passed, and he saw a cloudless sky scattered with stars as he stepped into the darkened trees. Silently he moved along the avenues, scanning the stone benches for her. He found her near the mallorn tree, the only one in the garden. She was not crying, but he could see that she was holding back tears with considerable effort. They caught him off guard for a moment—what could she possibly have been crying about—and then it hit him as he remembered the searching look she had given him when they had arrived. He saw that she had searched for the same love in his face that she had, and of course she hadn’t found it because he was certain of it where she was not. . .
He sat down next to her, gazing a moment upward as the evenstar rode up the sky.
“Celebrian. What ails you, my lady?”
She took a deep breath and turned towards him. “I have been quiet of late, my lord, and my mother and father know not what is the matter with me.”
“Quiet my lady?”
“Yes. I fall silent and have taken to staring North for hours at an end, and—“ She broke off as he took her wrist gently.
“You’re trembling, and your heart races.” He smiled as her eyes widened, and he felt her pulse quicken to a panic. “I can name your malady quite easily, my lady. Love.”
She let out a little gasp when he said it, and he knew that he had discovered her secret. He tried desperately to keep from laughing; she looked so frightened, he wanted only to take her in his arms and soothe her. She turned her head away, biting her lip in apprehension of what he would say next, and he quickly removed the ring and its chain from his neck, slipping the chain into his pocket.
“Love, my lord?”
“How do you know—“
“—that it’s love?” He laughed. “My lady, I suffer it too. I am hoping that you and I may find some relief, of not from Love, than at least from these symptoms.”
“What would you have me do?”
“Answer me truthfully,” he said, and revealed the ring to her. “Celebrian, daughter of the lord Celeborn and the lady Galadriel, will you be my wife, mother my children, and. . . might you come to love me as I have come to love you?”
She did not scream, cry, or giggle, as he had seen many a younger elleth do, but looked him in his eyes, unblinking, and a slow smile spread across her face as she looked there and saw Love for the first time, and knew it for what it was.
“Yes my lord, I will.”
“Promise me,” he said as he slid the ring on her finger, “that I will no longer be your lord, for I am not.”
She colored faintly. “Only if I am truly cross with you,” and bent forward to kiss him lightly. He met her, placing his arms about her as he gently deepened their embrace, drawing her close to him. When he released her, he lay her head on his shoulder as he stroked her hair, and he could feel her breathing against his skin as she fought to bring it under control. Those feather-light caresses sent spasms of insanity up his spine.
“You mustn’t flatter me so meleth,” he said warmly. “If I didn’t know better I would think that you had never been kissed before.”
She raised her head to look at him. “I hadn’t.”
He blinked, certain he had misheard her. “You hadn’t?”
She smiled. “My mother is quite overprotective of me.”
He nodded. “I believe that,” then turned to her confidentially, separating them, and taking her hand. “Tell me, what do you know of elves?”
She knitted her eyebrows. “I’m sorry?”
“What do you know of elves…married elves?”
“Enough,” she explained, and he gave an inaudible sigh of relief.
"I thought it would be prudent to know.”
She nodded, looking down at the ring she now wore upon her left hand. Elrond extended her his right, and she took it, the ring gleaming in the light from the house.
* * * * *
The wedding took place two weeks hence, and by its eve Elrond and Celebrian had become so used to the routine of being spouses that Galadriel wondered aloud whether they had been planning it all along. The only change once they were married was that they would share a chamber.
The day of the wedding arrived, and the whole city was turned out to see their lord and his bride. She wore the same gown of silver mist that she had when he had first seen her; with stars in her hair and his ring on her finger, she could have been Elbereth herself. They were married in the garden, amidst the flowers in full bloom, and the celebration afterwards dragged long into the night in the Hall of Fire.