Win or Lose-- Celeborn is
Still Sleeping on the Floor

OOOoooOOO

“No! I tell you Galadriel; my daughter will not marry that Noldor elf! She’s going to marry a respectable Wood Elf. I’d prefer that she wed Thranduil—that pompous windbag—to Elrond!”

“Celeborn, darling.  Thranduil has a wife. Elrond is definitely the more appropriate alliance anyway. Besides, he’s not wholly Noldor. He’s also related to your precious Elu Thingol.”

“You only think he’s more appropriate because he’s mostly Noldor though.”

“Granted. But the other reason is that he may be High King one day.”

“This in brief is how I see things at the moment, if you wish to have a piece of my mind as plain as possible. Celebrian doesn’t need to fulfill your power fantasies, my dear. She takes after my side of the family. She will be happy no matter what her husband does for a living.”

“Exactly.” Galadriel looked at Celeborn as if he had just made her point for her. “Then why not marry a king instead of a soldier?”

Celeborn sighed. This was an old and well-rehearsed argument. It was never resolved and it left them both annoyed and growling at one another.  The trouble was that this time, the object of the discussion—one ‘may be High King one day’ was due to arrive in Lórien within the next few days.  Celeborn knew that Galadriel would do whatever was necessary in order to get Elrond and Celebrian together. He would have to work hard to waylay her plans.

It wasn’t that he exactly disliked Elrond, in fact, he found him to be quite pleasant and intelligent.  He was a good warrior, a gifted healer, and even good friend.  But since he and Galadriel had begun ruling in Lórien, Celeborn felt that they needed to show the citizens that they had not just come in and taken over.  They needed to show that they did indeed, belong to the realm, and their own daughter marrying someone from Lórien would reinforce that idea. Otherwise, Celeborn was afraid that the Lórien elves would perceive that Galadriel and Celeborn thought they were too good to marry a wood elf.

Galadriel had grown up under a different ruling system where alliances were made for political or other reasons or where they weren’t important anyway because there were no politically-motivated reasons to marry into a family. But the main reason Celeborn didn’t want Celebrian to marry Elrond was that she’d have to move away.  He had had enough of living apart from his family and didn’t want to have to say goodbye to his daughter again.

Their discussion continued going in circles for another day or two until Haldir rushed in with a pile of scrolls for Celeborn.

“My Lord, I found these in the archives. They contain information about a seldom-practiced test that potential mates had to pass before they could marry. It mainly helped fathers of brides approve of their daughters’ prospective mates. It hasn’t been used for several generations, but there’s no reason you couldn’t reinstate it now. I’m sure everyone would understand if you called on the old ways for your own daughter.”

Celeborn was rapidly reading the offered scrolls, nodding his head. “And the added advantage is that even if Celebrian ends up marrying Elrond, it will still help the people of Lórien to feel as if we were trying to fit in better, not set ourselves apart.”  He finally thumped the top of his desk with his fist and grinned at Haldir.

“Excellent. These will be the perfect solution to the problem.”  Celeborn knew Haldir well enough to know that the Guardian would want something in return. He narrowed his eyes. “What do you want for this information?”

Haldir looked insulted for nearly a whole beat of his heart before he cleared his throat. “I happen to know someone that should probably pass those tests.”

“Someone Celebrian would be happy with? And I’d approve of him?”

“Of course, I happen to know that Celebrian has been visiting his talan when she thinks she is unobserved.”

“By thunder! You’re talking about Rúmil! Yes! I would approve of that match—even without the testing. But if we test Elrond, then yes, including Rúmil and any other suitors will make it all the more believable.”

“Orophin and I shall stand up to be tested as well. I will recruit other wardens too. Perhaps Elrond’s guards will want to complete too.”

“Fine. As long as Glorfindel is banned. He’s too arrogant.”  ***

{***For those of you who prefer, you may substitute the phrase ‘He’s a weenus’ for ‘He’s too arrogant.***}

Celeborn carefully hid the scrolls as he and Haldir left the room. The breeze lifted a corner of the curtain, revealing a pair of bare feet behind it.  Galadriel waited a few moments more before revealing herself.  It wasn’t her fault that Celeborn hadn’t noticed that she’d been behind the curtain, cleaning. Dusting. Straightening the curtain. Not her fault at all.

“A test, hmmmm?” We’ll just see who wins what.”

She snatched up the scrolls and had her personal scribe copy them quickly. “Neatness is not necessary, they need only be legible.” She was able to get them back to Celeborn’s office before he returned from his other duties.  She would be ready for whatever Celeborn planned.

OOOoooOOO

Celeborn greeted Elrond and his party by giving a speech at the welcoming banquet. Everyone sat and listened politely, it was just the usual ‘welcome to the realm’ speech. As soon as he began to talk about this new-old-new tradition though, the guests sat up straighter, and the hall fell totally silent. Galadriel managed to look surprised and all-knowing at the same time, she didn’t want anyone to think that she hadn’t known about the tradition, but she wanted Celeborn to think she was surprised by it. Celebrian wasn’t sure if she should be outraged or flattered. She decided to be flattered, then if the tests didn’t result in her first choice winning, she’d ignore the whole situation and marry whom she pleased. She even managed to give her parents a sincere smile, though she knew they were both up to something. She’d learned long ago to let things develop as they would, and do what she wanted in the end, no matter how much her parents manipulated and planned and connived to achieve their own ends.

Celeborn put his plan into action the next morning. He started with something simple—a race through the forest. This test would show the competitors’ athletic abilities. Since they had to shoot at targets at different points in the race, it would also show some of their soldiering skills. In other words, the elf that married Celebrian had to be competent at several things, he couldn’t be one-dimensional.

The contestants started out running, then they shot arrows at a still target, more running and climbing trees, knife-throwing, then riding horses, shooting at moving targets, scouting hidden signs to find the finish line, and finally, throwing a spear at a still target in order for them to cross the finish line. Haldir and Orophin held back at first, hoping to give Rúmil an advantage, but they needn’t have bothered. Rúmil got to the first target shooting stop in first place and was never close to anyone else again. He meant to win the competition, he knew he and Celebrian looked good together and even if they didn’t love each other heart and soul, they could learn. Rúmil crossed the finish line and threw his hands up in victory. He was one step closer to his goal!

OOOoooOOO

Celeborn couldn’t stop smiling as they got ready for bed that night. “I expected Rúmil to win, but not by such a large margin. Even Elrond should have been able to hit some of those targets easier. It is very easy to tell that he relies on others to defend Imladris.” When Galadriel started to narrow her eyes to continue the argument at an increased level of sound, Celeborn decided to give her a small peace offering. “That’s not to say that he isn’t a perfectly capable warrior, he is just out of practice, I’m sure.”

He climbed into bed and rolled over to kiss his wife but was met with her stiff back and a snort. “If I were you, Celeborn the Wise, I would not touch anything other than the blankets, lest you lose an appendage or two and your name become Celeborn the one-handed.” He wasn’t called ‘the Wise’ for nothing. He turned over so his back was to Galadriel’s.  He couldn’t help letting out a few satisfied snickers though.  Fortunately, the rug beside the bed was thick so when she kicked him out, the thud he made on landing wasn’t all that loud.

OOOoooOOO

The second day of testing was less physical and more artistic and cerebral. First, each contestant was required to give an oral presentation. They could recite a famous speech from history, or even do a little dramatic presentation of a noted historical event. Elrond, of course, re-enacted the flight of Earendil, including his arrival with the Valar at the last battle of the Silmarils. Several of the elves got together and showed various battles with other enemies including dwarves, balrogs, orcs, and the occasional troll. Rúmil, for his part, had memorized some of the traditional history lessons that children in Lórien were taught.  Sadly, Rúmil was rather terrible at memorizing, so he ended up cutting his presentation short when he forgot the ending. It was lucky that this was only half of the day’s score.

After a short rest and a light meal, everyone gathered again to continue. This time, each contestant had to perform alone, and they had to present an original piece. It could be a poem, a song, a dramatic reading, or they could paint, or create something like a piece of leather or woodcraft. Rúmil was confident he could make up for his dismal performance earlier by singing (loudly and nearly in tune) everyone’s favorite celebration song: ‘Yo Ho! Yo Ho! It’s a Corsair’s Life for Me!’  He really got the crowd’s support when he substituted ‘cheesy potatoes’ for the word ‘mead’.  Cheesy potatoes is a favorite of the majority of the Lórien elves. Celeborn stood up, clapping and roaring with laughter while Galadriel just raised her eyebrow and politely clapped and cleared her throat.

Elrond had drawn the last spot in the order of presentations. He stepped into the center of the stage, and nodded just once to Glorfindel, who began to play a soft melody on his flute. Elrond announced his own piece and then he began. “Good evening.  My presentation is titled ‘Dawn over the Bruinen—Where the Rainbows are Prettier until the Sun is at its Peak: An Interpretive Dance’ Elrond left many of the elves watching that night sitting there silently, jaws open and a decided inability to speak. Even Celeborn had to open and close his mouth several times before he was able to sputter a bit incoherently at the spectacle of Elrond in a flesh-tinted leotard, waving a rainbow-colored banner and flowers. There was really no question. Elrond won this test. It was Galadriel’s turn to crow and celebrate before bed tonight. Celeborn was confused though. He still had to sleep on the rug, except tonight, it wasn’t as soft and comfortable.

That gave him the idea for the last test.  There was a variation of it in the scrolls, but having to spend two nights on the floor gave him an inspiration on how to make it almost impossible for Elrond to win.

OOOoooOOO

The next day Celeborn released all the contestants who hadn’t won so the competition was now between Elrond and Rúmil. The first part of the last test would be a banquet, where the contestants would be expected to dance with any of the ladies who wished, and they would have to take a bite of each dish of food, as well as drink a full glass of wine after every tenth song. Celeborn was going to arrange their sleeping quarters, and as a small boon to Galadriel, she could inspect the quarters, and change any two things in each room that she saw fit to change. Lastly, Celeborn chaperoned Elrond all evening to make sure he did as he was supposed to do and Galadriel was in charge of Rúmil. After all the physical activity, food, and liquor, Galadriel was sure that Rúmil and Elrond both would collapse into bed. Celeborn was sure Elrond would. He’d try to arrange things so that Rúmil wouldn’t.

The last and final prospective groom test measured the elf’s sensitivity and ‘royalness’.  Celeborn knew Galadriel would be thrilled with that test. One small, uncooked bean would be placed under the contestant’s sleeping mat.  If the contestant fell asleep, he was deemed ‘unroyal’ and failed. Of course, only a truly sensitive and royal elf would be unable to sleep, the bed would feel lumpy and uncomfortable. Just to make it a challenge (as Celeborn told Galadriel later), he would pile more than one sleeping mat on each bed, making it that much more difficult to feel the bean. He did much more than that though.

In addition to all the exercise, food, and wine, he added a double dose of a sleeping herb to Elrond’s before-bed tea. Then he piled several feather beds on top of the sleeping mats. Elrond would be out and snoring in no time.  For Rúmil, he didn’t do anything extra like more featherbeds or a sleeping draught, instead, he added several large rocks under the bottom sleeping mat.  Galadriel could change things a bit if she wanted. She waited until both elves were in their beds before she went into each room and spoke to them individually. She came out after speaking to Elrond smiling serenely.

OOOoooOOO

The night was too long for Celeborn’s taste. The doors to Elrond’s and Rúmil’s quarters were flung open at the same time.  Celeborn snorted in disgust. Elrond stumbled out, obviously exhausted, and having not slept. Rúmil, on the other hand, sat up from his bedding, squinting at the sudden light, then he stood up and stretched, smiled and waved to the gathered crowd. He thought perhaps he’d triumphed because Lord Celeborn was rushing toward him, ready to slap him on the back. Instead, Lord Celeborn boxed his ears then sent him off toward his brothers. Rúmil finally figured out that he’d lost.

Celeborn had to admit defeat to his wife. He gave his blessing for Elrond to court, then marry Celebrian. He was unhappy at losing this contest, but he didn’t regret Celebrian and Elrond being married.  He knew they loved each other, and made one another happy, very much like he and Galadriel did. He may have been initially reluctant to have Elrond as a son-in-law, but after the contest was over, he was genuinely happy to be related to the mostly-Noldor elf.

OOOoooOOO

Centuries Later

Celeborn had finally arrived in Valinor. After the excitement about his arrival had abated, Celeborn had to ask. Galadriel had said she’d finally tell Celeborn what she’d said to both elves the night of the last contest.

“Just how did Elrond pass that last test?”

Galadriel laughed.

“I only reminded them both that I would be their mother-in-law should they win.  Elrond worried all night, which kept him up.”

“I can understand that, thoughts of prospective mothers-in-law can be intimidating. And Rúmil?”

“Rúmil fainted.”

******

~End~

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