A/N: This is a rewrite of a previous story. I don’t plan to write any more of it, but that doesn’t exclude the possibility of other LOTR oneshots in the future. 😉 Now, even if CelebrĂ­an gets pretty depressed here, don’t let it get to ya. We have the advantage of knowing how the war with Sauron turns out, don’t we?

She awoke, and the forgetful dreams of sleep melted away. With an inward groan, she turned over on the dirt floor where she lay, seeking to recapture that blessed respite, until her wrists jerked back and the ring of iron links startled her ears. Her eyes flew open, only to be greeted by darkness as black as her eyelids. And then she remembered. She remembered everything.

The deep disappointment that settled in her heart was as numbing as the cold. She felt herself cradle her head in her bare arms, felt the sobs lodge in her throat, yet no tears accompanied them. She had drawn from those wells of grief for so long that nary a drop was left.

How long had she been here? How long had these cruel chains encircled her wrists?

An eternity, she thought, licking her cracked lips. The taste of blood shocked her swollen tongue, and she realized that her lips were bloodied. Were they bleeding from thirst? Or had she been licking her wounds in her sleep, like some mongrel dog? Surely not! An elf would never be reduced to such indignity.

Yet I have been reduced to indignity… and more. The thought stabbed through her dazed mind, raising a lump in her throat that she could not swallow. Aye, she had been reduced to more than indignity; she had been reduced to an animal. Her body had been broken and scarred and shamefully used. It seemed sad to her that her body had begun to mend each time, only to have its work destroyed. Every so often, they would return to inflict new wounds upon her, to subject her to some crueler torture. She shuddered to think how much of her blood had already dried upon the dirt beneath her.

How soon could she expect them to come again? Was it every night that their fiendish gibbers echoed in her cell, and pain blossomed in her body?

Nay, not every night. The night here was eternal. And she would spend eternity here, in this dark, dank pit, with no hope of rescue.

Her throat hitched with sobs again — quick, trembling hiccups that begged for tears, though none came.

She had hoped in the beginning. After every torture, she had fingered the slender ring of gold on her right forefinger, and she had hoped. “They shall miss me in LothlĂłrien,” she had whispered to herself, back when she still had the strength to speak. “They shall send messengers to Imladris to inquire of my whereabouts. Then they shall realize that I have disappeared, and they shall send scouts to search for me. My husband knows which pass I took; they shall find me.”

Empty delusions, they seemed now. They had leaked away with her blood.


As the eternal night marched on, broken only by intervals of sleep and by their visitations, her despair grew. Soon its dark hand, like the hand of Sauron himself, hovered over Imladris, LothlĂłrien, and her family. It seemed logical to her that this torment should come upon them, also, in the end. What could prevent it? The Shadow had returned, as it always did, and stood poised to bring it about. Should the Shadow be repelled even this time, it would come again. And again. And again. That was its nature. In time, the good that remained — the Elves — her mother, her father, her husband — would have no choice but to be beaten into the mire like Fingon and Fingolfin. Crushed. Defeated. Then the world would fall, and all peoples would experience this torment. Even Arwen.

It was during this time of despair that CelebrĂ­an did what she had never done before. She wished to die. And she thought, if only her beloved Arwen were with her, that she would help her die, too.


The day of her rescue would remain forever burned into her memory.

She remembered sleeping — ’twas the only solace that had not been torn from her — and dreaming of a young elf-child with blooming cheeks and sparkling grey eyes. The child was running through a courtyard, laughter spilling from her mouth like water from a silver fountain. CelebrĂ­an, too, was laughing, and running to catch the child in a hug. Just before she reached her, pain clenched her stomach like a vice.

And then it was night again, eternal night, and she found that hunger had renewed its attack upon her, eating her inside-out.

To her own surprise, she felt a surge of anger then: anger at her body for hungering, anger at the goblins for taking her captive, anger at Fate for tossing her away to this desolate life. Nay, this slow death! With the strength of passion, she slammed her fist against the wall, not caring for the pain that shot up her arm.

How much longer ere I die? She felt like screaming the words. Just as they stood poised on the end of her tongue, a faint sound caught her ear, and she stopped herself. Lifting her head from the dirt, she listened breathlessly.

Footfalls… coming down the passageway.

Her heart fluttered in terror. Was it another lone goblin, hastening to her cell to extract his own hour of torture, believing it was his own cunning idea? Nay. Anything but that!

Then the sound of footfalls separated, confirming that it came not from one set of foul feet, but many. Relief washed over CelebrĂ­an like a welcome tide, and she lay her head back, breathing a sigh. Aye, a whole horde of goblins were coming to torment her, but ’twas far better than one. The torment a lone goblin inflicted was different, and far worse.

Soon their wicked voices loomed at the door; cruel torchlight stabbed CelebrĂ­an’s fragile eyelids. Like she had done countless times before, CelebrĂ­an drifted in fae to a brighter place, a place of forgetfulness. A serene smile crossed her lips. Perhaps they shall slay me this time.

Suddenly, from further up the passage, there echoed shrieks of warning. Of death. Goblins’ howls and goblins’ cries. The clash of steel meeting steel.

The voices at the door gibbered in confusion and alarm. The torchlight withdrew, allowing the darkness to return.

CelebrĂ­an did not bother to open her eyes. She had heard it all before — the goblins were exchanging blows again, nothing more. Wrapping her arms around herself, she rolled onto her side and released a sigh. She would seek sleep once more, seek to recapture that dream. And I shall give my Arwen the embrace that was meant for her. And I shall tell her how deeply I love her.

She never recaptured the dream. Only moments later, it seemed that soft, clean, silver light flooded her eyelids. How different it was from the cruel light of the goblin’s torches! Instinctively, she reached for it like a child grasping at a moonbeam, though whether she did so in body or fae, she could not tell. Her heart sang as musical voices kissed her ears, whispering of rest and blessing. Had she died at last? Was this the Hall of Waiting beyond the Sea?

She did not hear the clink of her chains as they fell off her wrists. She did not feel it when strong arms wrapped around her feeble body, nor did she feel herself jostling as swift feet bore her down the tunnel. She did not revive fully until a brighter, harsher light stabbed her eyelids, accompanied by the bite of bitter cold. Then she sucked the cold air into her lungs with a great, shuddering gasp, as if she had not breathed for days.

No Hall of Waiting was this!

She heard the musical voices clearly for the first time. Elvish voices they were, some raised in command, some brisk in agreement, all ragged with anxiety. Several spoke at once.

“Guard the entrance!”

“Give her something to drink!”

“Wrap her in blankets ere she freezes to death!”

Then one voice resounded above the rest, its tone hard as steel.

“Lay her on the pallet so I may tend to her!”

Wooly warmth enfolded CelebrĂ­an’s body–she could only guess it was blankets — and she felt herself being laid down gently upon, indeed, a pallet. She had the sensation of her right side dipping below her left; the pallet must have been on uneven ground.

Where am I? What is happening?

A shadow moved across her eyes, obscuring the light. A warm hand enveloped her brow, sending pulses of feeling through her skin. And then… that same voice that had resounded earlier… it spoke to her now, filling her body with life.

“CelebrĂ­an, meleth nĂ­n*. Listen to my voice. Return to the light!”

Ripples of joy coursed through her limbs. Her hands trembled, but not from the cold. How could she have not known that voice from the first? Only one elf could it belong to, and that was a lord among Elves!

My husband!

She opened her eyes, though only to meager slits, for the light was so bright as to be unbearable. Yet what she saw was enough: the face that had filled many of her dreams, no longer a dream. Oh! How desperately she wanted to cry out, to spring up from the pallet and throw her arms around him, but she could not. She struggled simply to open her cracked lips and speak his name.

“El… El…?” The syllables were mere air with little voice.

“Speak not, CelebrĂ­an. You must save your strength; your time has not yet come.” Tenderly, her husband smoothed back her hair, matted with blood, before turning away. “Elladan, Elrohir! Come and secure her!”

At the sight of her twin sons, CelebrĂ­an’s heart was full to bursting. They were as handsome as she remembered, even with unkempt hair and clothes stained with goblin blood. After kissing her and murmuring to her of their love, Elladan and Elrohir tied her to the pallet, binding ropes of elvish hithlain* under the pallet and over the blankets. Meanwhile, Elrond gave her a drink to moisten her mouth. The taste savored strongly of miruvor.

“We shall have you carried down the mountain to Imladris. You are too wounded to ride upon a horse as of yet.” Elrond leaned down and kissed her. Then he whispered: “Hold on to life, CelebrĂ­an. At Imladris, fully healed you will be.”

At first she was confused by his words, but when she saw the fear in his eyes, his meaning suddenly smote her. He fears that I should lie down, as did the first wife of King Finwë, and never wish to arise.

Again her hollow tear-wells ached to weep; again she could not. For though she wished to console him, to chase away his fears with a word and a kiss, she could feel the blood flowing from her wounds, and she could not forget the eternal night and what it had taught her. So she kept silent, and averted her eyes from her beloved, lest he see the night in their depths.

Elvish Words and Phrases

fae: spirit, as opposed to the physical body; Quenya equivalent is fëa

meleth nĂ­n: “my love”

hithlain: “mist thread”, a kind of fiber for making ropes

NOTE: Elrond is mentioned in the Histories of Middle-earth as having been involved in CelebrĂ­an’s rescue.

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