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Tall and Bright and the Wind in Her Hair

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“For one year, one day, of the flame, I would have given all; kin, youth, and hope itself: adaneth I am,” said Andreth.

 

“That he knew,” said Finrod; “and he withdrew and did not grasp what lay to his hand: elda he is.”

 

Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth, The Silmarillion

 


 

“Galadriel, I love thee and beg thee to take care,” Aegnor had said, once it was clear she was set upon visiting Dorthonion in his place.

 

She had laughed. “I defied the Valar, and I defied Fëanáro, and I crossed the Grinding Ice. Dorthonion will be as little of a challenge for me as it is for thee; and I have gone with thee before. And they are my people too.”

 

And as soon as she could, she had shed her escort. Now she walked among the pine-trees of the mountains, along a path known to her, and reveled in all that surrounded her, the liberty she had missed. Doriath, for all its beauties, did not have the freedom of the uplands.

 

And as she walked, Galadriel tasted the wind blowing in her face, felt the grass against her legs. The world was fair, that day, and it seemed to her that the land itself sang.

 

Faintly, at first, but then louder as she walked through the lines of conifers, the song came floating to her. And suddenly, the path broke through the trees into a glade, where a woman knelt by a brook, her voice rising as she ran fingers through the water.

 

“Oh!” Galadriel’s exclamation brought the other woman to her feet.

 

She was fair; the sunlight dusted her black hair and shone against her dark skin. And when she spoke, her voice was rich. “Who are you?”

 

“I am Galadriel.”

 

“Oh!” The woman quickly curtsied. “My lady.”

 

“No, please,” Galadriel laughed, and held out her hand. “I would not have you bow. And pray tell me, what is your name?”

 

“Andreth, my lady.” The other woman took the outstretched hand, and whether the skin or the smile caused the thousand stars to explode inside Galadriel, she could never tell

 

~

 

They fell quickly into an easy companionship; there were mortal woman besides Andreth in her village, but somehow, none fascinated Galadriel as Andreth did. She was beautiful and wise, and learnt in lore; her youth had been spent at the household of the Wise-woman Adanel, and her quick mind fed Galadriel’s intellect and spurred many friendly arguments.

 

~

 

“Do you believe in Eru?”

 

“The Valar have told the Eldar He is real.”

 

“That is not what I asked. Do you believe in Eru?”

 

“I do not know. The Valar are not above lying, we have found out, and they have their own purposes. They are real; Eru may or may not be.”

 

“That, again, is not what I asked. Do you believe in Eru?”

 

“I...I would like to. But I cannot.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Because I have seen too much suffering, and too much death.”

 

“But could He not be the cause of that suffering?”

 

“But why?”

 

And so it went.

 

~

 

“Are all the Eldar as beautiful as you?” Andreth asked one day.

 

“I...” The blush rose quick on Galadriel’s cheek. “I do not...”

 

“They cannot be,” Andreth said. “For you are the most beautiful of all people I have met”

 

“No, Andreth, you—no,” here Galadriel shook her head. “Thou art the most beautiful of them all.”

 

~

 

“Thou art a messenger? But thou art a princess!”

 

“No! I am a...diplomat. I am the envoy of the High King at the court of Melian and Thingol, usually, and I keep the peace between Doriath and the Noldor.”

 

“That must be a difficult task.”

 

“A little, but it is my duty to my people, and something I love doing. And thou—art a Wise-woman, a keeper of lore.”

 

“As thou knowest; that, too, is my duty, and I, too, love it.”

 

~

 

The pine-cones dug into their backs, yet they minded not as they lay on the forest floor, staring up at the

 

“Galadriel, I love thee,” Andreth whispered.

 

Galadriel turned her face away. “And so I feared.”

 

There was an angry, startled sigh sigh from the mortal woman, and her color rose as she sat up. “Art thou deaf? I love thee, I said.”

 

“And I do not want that,” Galadriel responded, and she, too, sat up. “I do not want that.”

 

Into the silence that followed, Andreth said, “Thou dost not love me?”

 

Now Galadriel colored, and she would not meet the other woman’s eye. “I have duties to my people, Andreth, and thou hast duties to thine. We cannot.”

 

“That is not what I ask. Dost thou love me?”

 

Galadriel turned her face away. “I cannot.”

 

 

~

 

“I have a duty to my people, Andreth. I am the envoy between the High King and Doriath; if I stay with thee, I cannot fulfill my task.”

 

“Then do not! I will not tie thee to me; thou art free to leave as thou wishes. I ask only that thou loves me.”

 

“But Andreth, I am of the elda. When we love, we give our all; half-measures such as that are not in our nature.”

 

“It is not a half-measure! Adaneth I am, and I say the love of the daughters of Men is not lesser because we, by necessity, do not bind ourselves fully to our partners.”

 

“It is not lesser, Andreth, but it is not our way; I will not marry you. I cannot.”

 

~

 

“Galadriel?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Would thou—can the Eldar give love without marriage?”

 

“Bodily union is marriage, amongst us.”

 

“I love thee, and thou dost love me; bodily union is not a necessary part of love; and I would...”

 

“I do not know. And even then, Andreth, would a season of love be enough for the bitter regret that would be our life ever afterwards?”

 

“Life goes on. And even if does not, for me, that one season, nay, one moment, would be worth all the pain and regret in the world.”

 

“Hush, Andreth, do not make such promises; thou knowest not their full price.”

 

“I am adaneth; and I do. And I say to thee: I love thee, and no matter what comes, that I will cherish until the end.”

 

~

 

It was past dusk, and they sat in silence by Tarn Aeluin, and stared at each other’s reflections; fair and dark rippled in the water, mingling with the stars starting to peek out in the firmament above.

 

For a long while they sat there, content, and it was Galadriel who broke the silence, softly. “Look, Andreth. A star has tangled itself in your hair.” In the water, between the long black tresses, glistened a single pinprick of light.

 

“I do?” Andreth turned from her contemplation of Galadriel, to stare at her own reflection.

 

“You do,” Galadriel affirmed. “It is here.” And one hand lifted to caress the place mirrored in the waters.

 

Their eyes met, and slowly, inexorably, their faces moved nearer, until they collided in a kiss.

 

~

 

The next morning, there was an urgent summons from the High King her uncle; a diplomatic incident with Doriath. “I must go,” Galadriel murmured.

 

Andreth, blinking in the dawn light, sighed. “Wilt thou return?”

 

“I will,” Galadriel vowed. “I cannot stay, you know I cannot, but I will come one more time.”

 

~

 

And she would; she knew she would. But the incident turned into a long-winded problem, and then she rode to Nargothrond, and thence back to Doriath. Inside the Girdle of Melian, time passed slowly; a few years, it seemed, before rumor of the Bragollach, and the terrible disaster of the North.

 

Aegnor and Angrod were dead, this she knew in her heart; a part of her had died with them. Finrod was alive, and Orodreth and his daughter.

 

But there was one she was not bonded to, and it was for news of her that she rode out again against all advice, to the fortress of her brother, Nargothrond.

 

And she was not there, and none knew of her whereabouts; when she asked her brother, he pressed his lips together and turned away.

 

She is dead, Galadriel thought, but even later, alone, the tears would not come.

 

And thus ended the tale of Galadriel and Andreth.

 

~

 

“I cannot, Grandmother,” Arwen said, two Ages later in Lothlórien. “I have duties to my people, and,” the next was a whispered confession, “I am deathly afraid.”

 

“Dost thou love him?”

 

Arwen nodded firmly. “I do.”

 

“And does he love thee?”

 

“I know he does.”

 

“Then the chance should be taken, Arwen.” Galadriel placed a gentle hand on her granddaughter’s arm. “I would not have thee regret that thou didst not do what thy heart told thee to. If thou dost love him, give him thy promise.”