The light of Valinor was pulsing gently against the trees – and Artanis sat quietly by the pond, thinking.
He came – though he did not know he was coming to her – it was always thus. She went by the pond, and the cousin she both loved and hated came to sit by her, unfailingly surprised to find her there.
She wasn't much younger than him – a little, but not enough for it to be terribly strange. Besides, she often felt that he was the younger of the two, his eyes wide and surprised when she laughed at another one of his silly mistakes.
“It's nothing to be ashamed of, Tyelkormo,” she would tell him, sweetly. “You and I are complementary. It's quite alright for you to ask what you don't know. That's how we learn.”
* * *
That day, he came by and sat next to her, quietly, almost sheepishly.
She glanced at him, wondering what was plaguing him.
“What is it, cousin?”
He shifted uncomfortably. She looked through him – and she saw it.
His desire – his hands running through her hair, his eyes half-glazing in want, his body taut and wanting. For a split second, she caught a glimpse of his fantasies – his lips crushing hers, powerfully, demandingly, but not without respect. She stared at him and moved away.
“I – what is it?” It was his turn to be bewildered.
“Nothing,” she muttered, uncomfortable in the extreme.
She smiled a little, though, looked at him under her eyelashes. “Did I ever tell you that I thought you deserved your fame?”
He colored, brightly. “I – er – no,” he was stumbling, grappling for words, desperately. “Hm, thank you.”
She smiled, a little, and stood. He stood as well, as if on a spring. “Where are you going?”
“Nowhere.” She tilted her head – there was something uncanny, strange and bewildering in the way she did that. “Nowhere at all.”
He took a step towards her, his lips were parted, just a little, and Galadriel couldn't quite look away. Whatever it was that moved him, she would never know. He reached and touched her hair. “You're beautiful,” he whispered, softly.
Before he could clasp his finger around a lock of silvery gold, she bolted. Too close, she realized. Much too close.
* * *
It took another bit before she could actually see him again without shaking. It was horrible – ever since he'd touched her, she had wondered. How would it be, to allow herself to be taken in his arms? What did his lips taste like? When she allowed herself to sleep, there were fleeting touches and promises – promises he would make, promises he would break.
I will never do anything to hurt you, Artanis. Lies, lies, lies, she whispered in her sleep.
I will never marry, and be yours for ever, Artanis. Lies, lies, lies. She knew that he would not come to her in his time of need. She knew that after the other girl would die... She knew too much.
The next time that they saw each other, she was demure, quietly sitting on a tree branch. He was sparring with the wind – he was beautiful. The way Celegorm moved, swift, efficient, fearless, his moot combat was both a dance and a murderous ceremony. So many elves would die by his blade... and yet, she could not look away, transfixed in admiration, in fascination.
Lies, lies, lies. You will betray my brother. You will kill my kin. You will do so many unforgivable things that all the friendship I feel for you will die, long before you do. She hugged the tree, melting in the foliage and kept her sighs to herself. Before he turned around in his dance, she fled, unseen and unheard.
There was too much heartache in what he wanted for her to even consider it.
* * *
He came again. For weeks and weeks, Celegorm came to her door, waiting. Every time, she closed her eyes and willed him away. This time, however, he had more persistence than the others. She could see him, through the door, his forehead pressed to it, as if he could perhaps force it open with the sheer strength of his desperation.
Quietly, she cried. Equally quietly, she gave in, and opened the door. He fell on her with a lurch, caught in an awkward embrace that was more intimate than they had ever known. “Please, Artanis,” he started, words tumbling out of him without a stop. “Please – don't shut me out. I can't – I need you. I need your guidance. Your opinion. My father – my brothers, they say things, and I just – please, you were always a good friend, don't – ” he was breaking her heart with every one of his words.
She reached and touched his face, not even thinking to remove herself from their dangerous intimacy. “Hush,” she whispered. “I cannot change the future.”
He stared at her, uncomprehending – for a second, their breaths mingled and their eyes met. “Please, Artanis. Angamaitë says you have not been out in weeks. Please --”
It was too close. Too intimate. His lips were hovering over hers, and she closed her eyes, not saying yes, not saying no. He kissed her, then, and it was feverish and tender, adolescent in just about every way. Galadriel shivered. For a moment, she gave in to his kiss, her lips moved in synchrony with his, parting, offering unwitting entrance. He accepted her invitation with wonder-filled eyes and held her closer. For a split moment, the fate of Findarato, the Quest and Doriath trembled in the eons of time.
When he released her, she was aghast. --- “We cannot,” she whispered, over and over. “We cannot.”
Something in him lurched, again, towards her, mutinous and uncomprehending. “Why?”
She closed her eyes to conceal her sadness.
“Because it is written.”