“Who is that?” Avnean asked, leaning heavily against her brother. Her uncontrolled laughter only stilled when she found that breathing and laughing at the same time became impossible. Legolas himself was half-leaning on his sister trying to recapture his breath.
“Looks like Lord Celeborn,” Legolas answered, placing a hand on Avnean’s slim shoulder to help him stand straight. “It seems he got worried about us.”
Avnean inclined her head and looked as the Lord of Lothlorien made his way toward them. As always everything seemed to be precise around him; clothes straight, hair neatly out of the way, Avnean herself could have easily gone insane looking like that all the time.
“There you are,” Celeborn exclaimed lowly to them when he drew in front. “I was beginning to wonder if you had wandered off somewhere. I would have brought a lantern had I known it would take so long to find you.”
Avnean gave a disapproved huff. “Lord Celeborn you knew we were coming back,” she stated and Legolas gave a mind chuckle. “If we hadn’t you would probably have sent every last Elf here looking for us.”
Celeborn slowly crossed his arms and gazed down at the twins. The sliver beams of moonlight danced off his silver hair and gave him a mysterious and dark look. It was quite late. “Perhaps,” he told her slowly. “Perhaps I was not worried about you getting lost but I was more worried about what you might do Avnean up to your own devices.”
Legolas grinned and Avnean shot him a dark look. //I thought you were on my side!// she cried out to him.
//I am,// Legolas responded. //But its true.//
Avnean crossed her arms again and looked hard at Celeborn. “Well now what?” she demanded hotly. “Are you going to drag us back to Caras Gladhon?”
Celeborn shook his head. “No Legolas is going to return and Avnean I want to talk to you.”
“Why?” Avnean asked lowering her arms and giving a suspicious look towards Celeborn.
“So quick to judge,” Celeborn said. “Legolas if you would continue.”
“Brother don’t you dare leave me with him!” Avnean threatened, forgetting to use her mind-communicating instead.
Legolas looked at Celeborn for a moment and shook his head slowly. “I’ll stay out of it, hide your emotions but not mind-block them. If you need help shout loudly enough and I’ll come.” He inclined his head towards her and started walking back up the dark path.
“Traitor!” Avnean screamed after him as Celeborn took her arm firmly, yet gently. He steered her off the path and into the darkened mazes of mallorn trunks. Avnean gave an indignant tug against being led but Celeborn made no reply, only set a steady pace as if knowing where he was going.
He led Avnean for some time under the darkened eaves waiting patiently, still holding her arm, whenever the Elf happened to trip on some unfamiliar forest litter. When he stopped walking Celeborn released the pressure on Avnean’s forearm and had her sit down next to him.
“Are you afraid I’m going to run away?” she demanded. “I don’t need to be led around like some naughty young Elf!” Avnean frowned at the dark silhouette of Celeborn. She couldn’t see his fine features in this dark but could see the general outline. From what she could see however, the man wasn’t even looking at her!
“Yes and no Avnean,” Celeborn finally answered her. “I’m afraid if I let you go that you may do something with your free hand but I’m not worried that you would run away.”
“Then let go!” Avnean snapped. She jumped when Celeborn released her arm and leaned against the tree, in which he settled himself in the crook of jutting roots. Avnean was sitting on one of the graceful arches of the roots.
“I come here sometimes when I need to think,” Celeborn told her, still looking away. “Its not very private but its comfortable and one of the few places Galadriel hasn’t yet found out about.” He chuckled for a moment then turned and looked at her. “Avnean I came to talk about what you’re here for.”
“Oh that!” Avnean snarled angrily. She had half-a-mind to jump and stalk away before the conversation got any deeper but she decided that she may as well wait to hear it. If she didn’t hear it from Celeborn well, she would hear it from Legolas and that could be a lot worse. Somewhere off he laughed as he caught the detached sense of her thoughts.
“Yes that,” Celeborn had waited until she was on his side of the world before speaking. “Yes that. It’s important.”
“What can be so important about it?” Avnean sighed, and couldn’t find the strength in her to yell at the Lord. She knew that she could yell straight out at Galadriel if she needed it but not Celeborn for some reason she didn’t know why.
“Galadriel’s not giving you the whole truth Avnean and you know it. You have a sharp mind but don’t want to use it when something annoys you.”
Avnean crossed her arms and glared. “And?” she demanded. “Perhaps I had a few misgivings but that’s nothing.”
“And you’re still upset,” Celeborn plowed on, again not looking at her. “Avnean laughter has its own healing power but it’s also up to you let it go.” Out of the corner of his eye he was watching Avnean, unnoticing bathed in moonlight, he could perfectly see the tensing of her shoulders. “Yes Avnean. Your mother. It is what’s getting to you Avnean. You laugh and everything is normal again but you don’t accept it. You’re taking it out on everything and everybody.”
“Am not,” Avnean denied, turning her head as a few tears sparkled on her cheeks. “I am not bringing it out on everybody. I don’t like what the Lady has planned. She seeks to destroy us.”
“She seeks to help,” Celeborn told her. “You know that and you refuse it and Legolas knows but is more lenient with you. You know it Avnean.”
Avnean heard the rustling of cloth and felt fingers under her chin and felt them lifting her head up and she looked into Celeborn’s, clam eyes. “I do not,” she defended but felt her chin quivering.
“Avnean let me tell you something I’ve never told any one else not even my wife,” Celeborn looked deeply at her.
“Why would I want to hear it?” Avnean asked him.
“I will tell you either way,” Celeborn answered. “When I was a young, still living in Doriath.” He closed his eyes for a moment. “Avnean I know you’re pain I know what it’s like feeling like you could have done something to stop someone. You can’t change what happened you’re going to have to get used to it.”
“No,” Avnean whispered. “The weight is too heavy.”
“It is never too heavy,” Celeborn told her. “The burden is never too heavy to carry. Avnean you know what happened to me?”
“No and I don’t want to know,” Avnean answered him. “Just let me leave.”
“Avnean, I watched by best friend die,” Celeborn’s voice was still calm but a tremor had entered it. “I stood on the bank and watched him die. I stood there helpless as I watched him drown. I stood there and watched him scream for me to help. Look at me Avnean and tell me now that I understand you.”
Avnean looked into his eyes and saw tears there. “You understand me,” she whispered. “How could you do that?”
Celeborn shuddered and lowered his head, looking down. “I was afraid,” he whispered. “I was afraid to run for help, although I knew I could possibly come back in time to save him. I didn’t it. I can’t swim Avnean, I’m scared of water. And I was very young, too young.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Avnean whispered, she couldn’t lift her voice. “I have had enough of this.”
“I suffered through it alone Avnean. I’ve never told anybody till tonight, when I told you. You don’t have to suffer alone Avnean,”
“Who can I turn to?” Avnean asked him. “Who?”
“Me,” Celeborn answered. “We both bear these pains and sometimes Avnean you have to look beyond your brother for help.”
Trembling Avnean looked up. She could see from Celeborn’s frame that he was kneeling in front of her and she could feel his folded hands resting on her knees. Avnean could feel his tears on her hands. She took her own hands and took the Lord’s off her lap and knelt down. She felt her own tears to match his and lent forward pulling the Lord of Lothlorien into an embrace. A tense moment later she felt his arms hold her.
“We can suffer together,” he told her. “It doesn’t have to be alone Avnean. Never alone but you have to look beyond Legolas sometimes for help.”
A moment later Avnean, in her tears realized that Celeborn had said those words twice. She rested her head gently on his shoulder as she felt his tears. How had he lived with that guilt all those years, was he waiting for someone with something similar to share with? Avnean hugged him tighter as a thought dawned on her. “That’s what Galadriel is trying to teach us isn’t it?” she asked. “To look beyond ourselves to others for help sometimes?”
“Yes,” Celeborn answered. “But she never takes the easy route to things.” His voice was choked by the spilling of his tears. “I haven’t cried this much since the day he died.”
“You’re not alone,” Avnean told him, mimicking his words earlier. For some reason she felt suddenly a bond between them. Of warmth, understanding and trust and Celeborn hugged her to, as if feeling it as well.
They hadn’t stayed like that for long, shedding tears and feeling comforted before Celeborn shook off Avnean and helped her stand. “We’d better go. How do I look?”
“Like you’ve been crying,” Avnean answered him. “Like you’ve been crying. We’ve both been crying, so it won’t matter. Let’s go back to the City?”
Celeborn offered his hand wordlessly and Avnean accepted it. When they returned to the smooth road they soon met up with Legolas who had stopped to wait for them. He threw a questioning glance at Avnean, asking what was happening. He had detached himself but still had felt the undercurrent of her emotion. Avnean detached her hand wordlessly from Celeborn’s and shook her head at Legolas. He said nothing and didn’t question what had happened, knowing what that silent shake meant. He wondered if he ever would know what had happened that night without him by Avnean’s side. Then quietly the three headed back to Caras Gladhon.