Title: Distant Promise
Theme: January 2013 potluck / May 2012: "Bunny Hutch"
Elements: 23) Fourth Age or later: Galadriel waits in Aman for Celeborn's return. Her Reborn brother(s) (depending on whether the author thinks more than Finrod have been returned to Life by then) offer their opinions on their Sindarin/Telerin cousin's reason(s) for preferring not to sail with her. (Kaylee Arafinwiel)
Author's Notes: I would like to speculate that all of Galadriel's brothers have been reborn by now, but for the sake of simplicity I decided I should only try writing one of them. Also, as usual: no beta, uncertain canon (how many possible timelines does Galadriel have again? I lost count), I'm new to these characters, and so forth.
Summary: (I feel the prompt is summary enough.)
Word Count: 1323
"Father is threatening to abdicate, you know."
Galadriel looked up from a map of Tirion and saw her brother framed in the arch of the door between her chambers and the balcony. It opened to the east, so the morning sun shined full upon her little round table and crystal paperweights, casting rainbows over her hands, but it did not quite reach him. Its warmth did not quite sink into her skin, either, though the seasons in Aman were mild and she should have been warm.
Another chill wind came from the sea. She lifted a brow. "Again?"
Finrod's answering stare was almost sour. "You've only been here a yen. How are you so cynical already?"
"The lords like to talk." And their ladies-- especially their ladies, many of whom she had not seen for much longer than a few yeni. Their faces were familiar, but their manner had changed, just as the palace halls remained the same underneath new hangings, tapestries, paintings. Her rooms, when she had entered, jarred precisely because they had not changed. "I have letters from grandmother inviting me to accompany him to her manse Valmar when he abdicates... and he has considered it once before, has he not?"
Sunlight painted her balcony in stripes through an arbor twined about with wisteria in hibernation. Her brother's golden head glinted when he came out, hair drifting behind him in loose, unadorned waves. She motioned to the empty chair across her table, and he seated himself. "He is serious this time," Finrod said. "He wanted you back, first." He took in her maps with a glance, touched the swan-shaped weight with a fingertip. They suited him, their rainbows and bright spots of light, reminding her of a night long ago when he accompanied her to a celebration in Doriath with diamonds woven into his hair. My, he glitters, someone had said, giggling. But this was not the same brother, not quite; there was a tightness about his eyes she didn't recall, a wariness, a shadow. But he did not look unhappy when he spoke, only resigned. "I believe he was also hoping I would father a son, but the Noldor will have to do with girls instead."
"It won't kill us to bow to a queen," she said. "If we had ruled to begin with, there would be no rift in the House of Finwe."
That won a slight smile from him, and a roll of his eyes. "Only Eru might know the truth of that statement."
Beyond the balcony were trees, and they spoke quietly on the wind, in voices strange to her. Galadriel listened for the space of two breaths and felt a pang for the memory of her golden wood, where she knew every tree, every voice. She called for one of the maids inside to bring wine, and folded each of her maps neatly: one of the city, one of the lands just northward on the way to old Formenos, and one of the lands bordering Yavanna's pastures. There were no mellyrn in Tirion, nor the room to grow them as she wanted to, but there were wide open spaces elsewhere, still, and eventually she would leave her family again to plant her trees, call her Galadhrim- those who would come - and make a new home. Perhaps her father would stay with her a time, or her brothers, all but poor Finrod and his crown.
It would not be Lorien she built. Nothing ever would be, and she would not try to make it so-- but her heart wanted her trees, and her mind dwelled on them every night, with the man who used to stand beside her beneath them to listen to their song.
"You did not come just to complain," Galadriel said once glasses were brought and filled and the maid retreated. "That would be unlike you."
"I do not relish the thought of a crown on my head again, but no." Finrod sipped, turned his gaze east. The sea was visible from her rooms, the blue of the water meeting the blue of the sky in a dark line. "I'm here to ask what became of your husband. The last I heard, he had sworn never to leave your side, yet here you sit, without him."
Galadriel had presided over many tables without him, both great and small. She hadn't let it bother her before, and would not now. Her answer was rote: "Arwen and her brothers are still alive, and he is all they have left."
"Perhaps their parents should have remained."
The wine sparkled on her tongue, sweet, tart, reminding her of apricots. She thought of commenting on how uncharitable that sounded, but his gaze turned on her, bright blue and sharp as diamond, and for once it was Galadriel who had difficulty meeting someone's eyes. But she did not look away. Instead, sharply, she said, "Celeborn never desired to leave Middle Earth. This will not be a homecoming for him. All that awaits him on this shore are Noldor and kinsmen, reborn, who might ask why he did not defend Doriath when the end came."
Finrod's brows drew together. "You convinced him to step aside?"
"We were long gone over the eastern mountains, with all the friends we could gather." Sensible friends, she had always said. That retreat stuck in her husband's throat like a fish bone, but he lived, and so did she, free of the curse of the jewel.
Her brother stayed quiet, gazing into his wine, which meant he was surprised-- or it would have, many years ago, when he did not know the meaning of quiet.
When he sat so still, so silent, she could imagine he was a ghost. For so long, that was all she had of her brother: memory and fleeting visions. "He will come," she said.
"I am only worried for you, Artanis." Finrod straightened, but did not inflict his gaze on her again. He finished his wine. "Your homecoming should be happy. The land here is at peace, our family is at peace..."
"I am happy." Galadriel found a smile for him, reminding herself he was no ghost, and this was no dream. "Seeing you every day lightens my heart. The sun shines for me again where it was so dark, before."
"And if Celeborn were here," Finrod persisted, "it would be yet lighter."
His golden brow lifted again. "Why did you marry him, again?" he said, in a tone not entirely friendly.
She almost laughed. If she enumerated all of her reasons, they would be sitting well past sunset. "You worry about the crown, brother, and I will worry about my wayward husband. I am content to wait for now." Celeborn had left her before, but he always returned-- always. Whatever distance had grown between them, he would not break faith.
"You had best not wait long," Finrod said, twirling his glass by the stem. Her maps flapped in the wind, held down by her crystal swans, and a strand of his golden hair caught on one of them. "If I am king when he finally shows his face, so help me."
Galadriel moved the weight and twirled his hair around her fingers. "Yes?"
"I'll think of some appropriate punishment," he said, and she did laugh, pulling his hair like she did when she was a child. "Mark me."
"Of course, brother." She kissed the ends of his hair and let it go to drift on the breeze once again.
"Well then." Finrod frowned at her until she swallowed her laughter, and then he said, "Why don't we decide on a location for your house?"
Have I ever mentioned that I am terrible at titles? Anyway, I shaved this so close to the deadline that I didn't have much time to edit. I apologize for any mistakes and will fix them as I have time.