Keeper of the Flame

Galadriel stood on the deck of the ship, watching the shore disappear into the gray mist. She was tired. With the final destruction of the One Ring, the power of the Elven rings had also diminished and now, even the work they had wrought was fading daily. She didn't turn her head as Elrond joined her at the railing, covering her hand with his.

"The hobbits are settled in their cabin, and Gandalf has also retired for the night. Should you not be resting as well, Lady?"

At that she did turn, facing her son-in-law with a soft smile.

"As should you."

Elrond sighed. "I never imagined how tired I would feel. I always thought the weight of the ring to be great before, but it has lately been a much heavier burden, though rendered useless."

Galadriel remained silent, nodding and turning her eyes back to the gray-green water. For her, Nenya still weighed next to nothing, but it's collapse meant that the world was so much less colorful. It all seemed gray to her, misty almost. She hoped that once in Valinor, she would find color again. Anything but this dull, lifeless gray.

Elrond finally sighed once more, then lifted her hand, brushing a soft kiss along its back. They turned away from the water and went to their separate quarters, both still lost in their own thoughts and memories.

Soft light filled the small cabin and Galadriel shed her cloak; then changed into a sleeping gown. Though she doubted she would find sleep this night, she climbed into the narrow bed, propping the pillows up and reclining against them while reaching for the book on the bedside table. She opened to the place she had marked but read only a few lines before she lay the book back down on her lap and tilted her head back, her eyes closing as she willed herself away, back to an earlier time when she had not felt this lack of color engulfing her.

First, as always, she saw Celeborn. That smile that always made her heart do little flips. With a look, he could warm her entire being. If she was the lady of light, he was keeper of the flame. Though they had known this separation was coming, it didn't make it easier to bear. She wondered again, how he could stay and watch Lorien fade and wither. She wondered how he would find peace as he saw Elladan, Elrohir, and Arwen begin to age as well. Of course, maybe they were the wisest—accepting death as a gift, instead of seeing it as doom.

But then, they didn't have Celeborn. If she had to face immortality without him, she would have seen death as a gift, that was certain.

She knew history would not be kind to him. He was, after all, just her husband. She wore the ring. What history would not see is that it was his strength and wisdom that carried her when the ring became a burden. He was the reason she could turn down Frodo's offer of the One Ring. She had greatly desired it. She knew Frodo would offer it to her. And she almost took it.

As soon as Elrond told her of the Fellowship, and their destination and purpose, she warred with herself. If the Ring came to Lorien, would she take it? She knew that she could wield it. She'd even had a fleeting thought that its power would not corrupt her, that she would be strong enough to resist the evil residing in it.

She had said as much to Celeborn one day as he worked in his private chambers. She'd gotten angry when he had given her a hard look and gripped her shoulders so tightly that he left bruises.

"Resist it? Nay, my love. For it is your very strength that the Ring would covet. It would corrupt you totally, wholly, and with all haste. Do not deceive yourself, nor let the call of the Ring seduce you."

She sighed.

"Yes, you're right, love. You are not Celeborn the Wise for naught. I thank the Valar for bringing you to me for that," she smirked at the Lord of Lorien and added, "Of course, I thank the Valar for other of your talents, husband. Perhaps you would humor me by being less wise and practicing one of these other skills?"

Celeborn needed no other motivation to pull his wife into his arms, sweeping her off her feet and charging past some very startled but amused guards and servants as he carried her to their sleeping quarters.

She loved waking in his arms. He was a puzzle she had never solved. Strong and tender, wise but full of good humor, and a strong confident leader who never felt intimidated by the power she wielded.

She spoke aloud to the empty room.

"Oh, Celeborn, my heart. Hurry. Come to me soon, my love."

She didn't begrudge him the extra time he wished to stay in Arda. He felt a responsibility to remain as long as some of their people still wished to dwell there. She wondered again how he would contend with the grief that was sure to come to him as everything around him faded, and those he loved died, or sailed west, as she had done. The faces of her grandsons and granddaughter came unbidden to her mind again. She pressed her hand to her mouth, and rocking back and forth, choking off the tears that threatened. She had done enough crying over their decisions. All it did was leave a bitter aftertaste in her mouth, it gave no comfort.

She finally relaxed again, dousing the light and slipping further beneath the blankets. She lay there, sighing softly into the dark, Celeborn's absence even more pronounced. This was the time of night when they would have been talking, or making love, or sometimes, he even sang to her.

She lay in their bed, giggling and trying to cover Celeborn's mouth with her hands so he would stop singing whatever bawdy new tune that Glorfindel had taught him that night after dinner. He managed to catch both of her wrists in one hand and pinned them over her head, while continuing to sing. His other hand slipped beneath the hem of her sleeping gown which had somehow ridden up past her thighs. He moved, a muscular thigh forcing its way between her legs, while his hand trailed up her torso, dragging the gown up even further.

He drew lazy circles on her belly his eyes glued to hers as she shuddered at the feather light touch.

"Husband?"

"Yes?"

"Kiss me."

"Well, aren't you the demanding one tonight?"

"Hmmm…ahhh," A tiny moan escaped her as his hand teased a nipple to hardness, "Please? Kiss me love?"

"I will think about it. Perhaps, in the meantime, this might suffice?"

Celeborn carefully played with one nipple while he bent his head and sucked hard on the other one, through the filmy material of her night dress. Galadriel groaned and tried to free her hands from his iron grip. He wasn't hurting her, but she wanted to touch him, and he wouldn't let her go.

She smiled when she remembered how that particular night ended—he'd finally kissed her—after he'd actually driven her to screaming at him for tormenting her. She had spent the next several days trying to avoid the sly smirks and teasing looks from all of the staff and guards.

*****

Galadriel and Elrond stood at the railing again, watching the sunny shores of Valinor loom larger and larger. Both once again, lost in their memories, their hands clasped, giving and taking from each other what small comforts they could.

Galadriel closed her eyes briefly, seeing Celeborn as he'd last been, on his white stallion, standing, his hand raised, the royal blue of his tunic staying in sight for miles. He was the one to chase away the gray chills from her. Her husband. Her lover. Her heart.

*****

And even though the seasons change
The reason shall remain the same
It's love that keeps us holding on
'Til we can see the sun again.

In this we're all the same
Where hope still burns eternal
We're the keepers of the flame.

******

~End~

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