Bright and Dark

 By Tyellas

Summary: Celeborn and Eöl vie for the favors of a certain blonde elf-lady. We know who she picked for the long run, but who did she pick for one night? An erotic Galadriel story!

Story Warnings: Het, Graphic Sex, rating NC-17.

Thanks to beta readers Suzana and EnigmaSphinx.

"Let not dark nor shadows fright thee,

Thy limbs of lustre they will light thee.

Fear not anyone surprise us,

Love himself doth now disguise us…"

William Cartwright, "A Song of Dalliance"


Dwelling in Lothlorien, Galadriel found that many now changed her name or ignored it, calling her only The Lady. She paid little heed, for names changed with time. She had not always been known as Galadriel. In her youth, her mother had given her the name Nerwen, and she bore it until she chose to take the name her lover offered her. At times she thought of the hour when that name was proffered, the start of a time after her return to Middle-Earth. She had managed to snatch a few merry years from the tale of sorrow. Even she had been young once, and had her choice of lovers, long ages of the world ago.



It had been the first night of Nerwen's time as a guest in the halls of the elven-king Thingol. It was the custom there to gather at the opening of the stars, for converse and evensong. Her brother Finrod was enraptured by the great caves and went about talking to the artisans who had made the halls beautiful. She was too proud to follow him about, nor willing to let Thingol's lady take her around for introductions, as if she was but a handmaiden.

If Nerwen had been more at ease, she might have put her pride aside. She knew herself marked as a stranger, taller than the other women, her garb nothing like their softly dyed dresses. The white wool gown and brilliantly embroidered cloak she wore were over-warm. Still, she kept the cloak pulled close, for no other woman wore a sword by her side. Nerwen had put it on without thinking, after wearing it every day for years, and she was sorry now. These Sindar elves thought her people warlike enough already. She would not bring the wars and conflicts of the north among them that night.

Glancing amongst the crowd, she saw a fellow who looked, if not similar to her folk, similar to herself. He too bore a sword and was silent amidst the throng; he was arrayed like no other in plates of black armor of strange, gracious design. A black plait of hair flowed down his back in admirable length.  She shook her own golden mane down over her cloak and went over to him.

When she greeted him as a stranger, he did not show any surprise, though he looked her over from top to toe as he introduced himself. "Lady, I am Eöl, and I live outside this realm, in the wood of Nan Elmoth. I would remember you if I had seen you before. That cloak is too fine a work of craft to forget."

"And you as well are clad in fine craft. I have never seen the like of your armor. May I guess; case-hardened steel with nickel?"

He bowed to her. "I have met my match in you! Never have I known a woman to speak of smith-work, and I have forged for many long years. My errand here was to deliver a sword to Thingol, as fee for passing his bounds at need." He sighed. "Made from the steel of a fallen star; and he merits it not half its worth. Well, my fee is paid, and my realm is now free. These folk do not give smithcraft its due."

"My people hold it a great art." She smiled at him.

"And that is the way it should be! See that fellow there? The tall one with the silver hair?"

She looked over, and saw the back of an elf-man taller than most. His silver mane was thick enough for several braids and hair still hanging free, and he carried a steel axe balanced across his shoulders. Eöl's lips curled as he spoke. "Celeborn, the chief forester of Thingol. When I dwelt here, he stinted my forges of wood and charcoal. He is lord over the simple sylvan folk that roam within the bounds of this realm. Yet they would not be so simple in peace, if not for the swords I forged in my own days as Thingol's bondsman, and for the trade with the Dwarves that I began. Let him stay where he belongs, and I will be free!"

"So you dwell in your own realm now. My people, the elves called the Noldor, came over the Sea to be free ourselves."

His aquiline face hardened. "So. You are one of them. Now your mystery is revealed."

"My brother and I are half Telerin."

"That is well. I hear that the Noldor are hot-blooded and fell."

"And what is that to you?" she said with unease.

"If it is true, they are like me." His expression did not soften, but it grew warmer. "They should not think that all the Telerin elves here will sway to them. Yet it might not be entirely ill that you have come. Who knows what secrets we may share between us?" She sensed he did not speak of the concourses of their people, but of them two alone.

"You have not yet told me the secret of your armor," she said.

"The secret of its forging I keep." He leaned close and whispered in her ear. "If you wish, I shall unlock it for you, that you may see every join."  The feel of his breath upon her neck made her shiver.

"We will see how many secrets I choose tonight," she replied, drawing back. "Until later, Lord Eöl."

"Until later, Lady of the Noldor." He bowed once more and drew away.

Nerwen looked about.  Eöl's keen words had piqued her interest in him - and also in the lord Celeborn. It was easier to speak to someone when you might greet them by name at least, compared to an absolute stranger. When she found Celeborn, she waited, slower to approach one who was so quintessentially of the wood-elves. He was dressed in soft green, his gentle mein belied by the great leaf-engraved axe he bore. She could not tell if it was his weapon or a symbol of his office. At last he turned in her direction. His face was as handsome as that of Eöl, but unlike; sensual rather than carved, silver eyes rather than black.

At a timely moment she introduced herself, and again found herself examined, but this fellow let his astonishment shine forth.  She did not make herself more meek, but plunged ahead. "I have heard that you are the Lord Celeborn, and the chief forester of the King. May I ask what those labours are?"

His look on her was cool. "I am surprised to hear you speak so, lady. For you are of the Noldor. I have never heard that they cared for trees. They hewed down the great cedars of the north, that had stood an age of the world, to build their dwellings."

She stood up even straighter, as tall as he. "We took few of the great trees, because none but they have the strength to timber our halls of stone. And we are loth to cut more than we need. I know little of the woods, yet I love them."

"That is a good start, if you would turn forester! Forgive me, lady. I saw you in long converse with Eöl, and did not know what words you would bear me." His face darkened, and he looked angrily at the black-armored figure. "He rues the girdle of Melian, the enchanted guard of this realm. The Dark Elf, he is called, shunning the light of the Sun, fast to his forge. They say he came by his smith-craft in strange ways. We are well rid of him!"

"I am a stranger here, and bear ill will to none," Nerwen said, very carefully. "Tell me of your own arts."


"All the hunts, the foraging of wild plants, and all hewing and clearing are in my management. It is not so simple to know when to bring a tree down. Just as when a hart is hunted, there is a season and a time in its life when the forest may spare it. And some trees should be spared until the end of their days, to hold a hill or for the fruit of their boughs, even for the sake of the creatures that nest in them. Those ones, we seek to give long life." Pride and care played over his expression as he spoke, and she smiled on him.

"To hear you speak reminds me of the forests over the Sea, great woods that never die. I would look on these spared trees, and be glad," said Nerwen. 

"Your tact and sweet listening shame my suspicions of you, lady! What might I share with you to make amends? If you will ride forth with me, I will show you every secret dell where a tree might stand." He forgot himself enough to run one of his silver braids through his fingers. Nerwen found herself wishing to see that graceful, promising gesture again, and the smile that went with it.

"Secret dells indeed," she laughed. "If I ride with you, you must leave your axe behind!"

The crowd around them shifted, and they turned to see that the chief of Thingol's minstrels had taken his place, and was preparing to begin his song.

"Until later, Lord Celeborn."

"Until you wish it, Lady Nerwen."

She went back to stand by her kinsman before the music began. Nerwen had a fine view of the two who had caught her eye. She counted their virtues out in her mind, wondering which elf-man had more promise for her. The smith, who burned hot as a glede with passion and anger? Or the forester, changeable and sensuous, who also disturbed her? It was ironic that the two elf-men who disdained each other should be so similar in so many ways. How vexing it was, she thought, that the minstrel seemed bent to sing about nothing but true love! When the listeners let him stop singing at last, she waited before leaving her place. Soon, she would speak to her choice.

They had given her a guest-chamber in the very heart of Menegroth, far from the lights of heaven. The room was lit by one silver and glass lamp of puzzling craft, hanging beside the door. After the cool northlands where she lived, the room seemed clingingly warm, and she waited on the couch of repose in a light shift.

Someone knocked three times upon the door.

She leapt up and answered it, laughing gently. A cloaked figure stood in the dim hallway outside. Even before she could open the door, he reached for her, and she swayed back. As she did, her shoulder knocked the lamp. It fell and shattered.


 "Do not move. You might cut your feet upon the shards."  The cloaked elf-man slid inside the room, shutting the door. He grasped Nerwen about her waist, then lifted her, in spite of her height, until he laid her upon the couch. It was neatly done in the dark.

"You are gallant," laughed Nerwen.

"And you! You are radiant!" It was nothing less than the truth. The light of Aman clung to Nerwen, body and spirit. In the dim room, Nerwen's pale skin was softly luminous, her golden hair had a strange sheen, and her silver-blue eyes flashed clear. She was like a firefly that sparkled in the darkness, but without illuminating it for more than the measure of a hand.

The lover she had summoned stood over her, eyes gleaming in the reflection of Nerwen's brightness. But that was all the light he gave; for he was one who had never walked in the light of the Trees or on the blessed shores of Aman. Nerwen was moved by the difference the night of the caves revealed, the gulf that divided the High Elves were from their darker kin.

"Shall I send for another lamp?" he asked.

Nerwen stood. "No; I know you are handsome. And I am eager for you," she said.

"And I for you, bright one," the elf-man replied, a shadow casting aside a shadow as he tossed his cloak aside. There was a ring of metal as he set aside his weapon, but she could tell from his embrace that he had changed the clothes he wore earlier, and his hair now hung free. They were of the same height as they stood together. Tentatively, Nerwen reached for his face, and stroked his cheek in a caress of loving-friendship. He did the same with her, and then they drew close into each others' arms and began to kiss.

Soon they were down upon the couch again. "I must match you in courtesy, lady," he said, casting more of his clothes aside. Nerwen heralded his skin with long caresses, its fairness flashing pale under the light of her cupped hands. They ran their hands through each others' hair. His was heavy and shiny, sleeker than silk; her locks were softer than fur in their long, tangled waves, and he buried his face in the radiant threads. When he began to nip at her collarbones, she moved back and spoke.

"Know this! You will have much of me tonight, but not all. We are not wed, nor even betrothed; we might only toy with each other this one night. I save the greatest bliss for when I make that choice."

He started back. "So you but taste and try, that is the way of it!"

The elf-man stood in the darkness, glad she could not see the expression on his face. He was tempted to break the laws of the Eldar, break them across her body, when he looked on her. For a moment, he loathed the bright one's power. But he hungered for her beauty more.

"I suppose it is for the best," he said, trying to sound carefree. "If I was to have you to the fullest, you might be too well pleased to return to your people. You will see how well I please you within your bounds - especially if I receive reward in kind."

"That you shall, delicious one!"  She slid out of her shift, at ease in naught but her glimmering skin.

"But if you do not dare all of me, why call me to you at all?"

"Me call you? But did not you call me, with your words and glances? You spoke to me first of sharing between us. I am seduced by you! Your mastery at your craft, your mighty height, your sharp eyes when you looked on your foe. You are foreign to me. And when I look upon you, I feel that I have known everyone else too well, for too long."

The elf-man joined her on the couch again, but this time he clasped her from behind with one long arm pressed across both her delicate breasts. The other arm drew down to tease her waist. The long fall of her hair was trapped between them. She turned her head to try and see him, but he was nibbling the nape of her neck.

"Mastery at my craft, you say?" He slid his hand down between her thighs and grazed the nest of gold there. "Are my hands too rough for you after all my labours?"

"Touch me more, so that I can tell," said Nerwen, arching up to meet him.

As he obeyed her, they both made a soft and wordless sound at the pleasure of the touch, tender, silken-wet cleft against firm fingers. He gave the whole area a grinding caress with the palm of his hand. Nerwen, who had been so proud as she stood before him, arched back sharply with a moan. He let his fingers dive, and stroke, and rotate, until she writhed like a spirit of fire, shaking her head so that her brilliant hair sparkled. As she curled and shifted, he pinned his grasping arm hard around her shoulders, dragging her closer.

"You use too much mastery!" she cried, finding her strength again and breaking his grip.

"And I might say the same of you. When have any of your folk ever gainsaid you?  But I would not affright you," he said, kneeling beside the couch. "Draw close, and I shall show you how gentle I might be. Trap me if you will!" His long hair fell across her thighs as he bent his head to the only part of her body where shadows were caged.

She let one leg rest along his back, which was narrow and strong, and gave herself over to his mouth. "False promise! You torment me!" she cried, as he nipped and laved at her thighs, instead of diving home. In response, he dipped his head low, and used his tongue to caress the starting curves of her croup. Silent at his delicate daring, she arched her legs further, and he lingered in compliment to every inch of her loveliness.

At last he shifted up to her vulva, and truly began his work. She started and wrapped both her long legs around him, leaning back and luxuriating as his mouth now pressed with a darting tongue, now pried with gentle teeth. Her desire sharpened into a focused arrow, and she willed herself to come.

As she started back and he bowed forwards, both with eyes closed, they were blind to the flare of the light of Aman, kindled from her glow, that heralded her peak. He sensed and heard, and slid two fingers inside her again, leaving his mouth where it was. At her lover's hand this time, she flared again like a trembling star. "Ah! Refill the cup for me, once more," she moaned low. Besotted at her words, he filled her with his fingers and drank of her with his mouth. The third and brightest time the light flashed out, he saw it at last and reeled back, half-shielding his eyes.

He was dazzled; but this being of power was yet a woman. Nerwen reached up for his wrists and drew him beside her. Even though they knew it would be a torment on the brink, he lay on top of her in a full embrace, and she swayed her body against him like a banner in the wind. Meeting his eyes, she shifted so that they lay side by side. "You pass every test. What a will is in you!" She began to kiss her way down his body, feeling his strange Sindar litheness and his muscles, hard as wood, tense as steel.  As she bent in turn, she smiled to think that to take him into her mouth was easier to dare than speaking to him in the crowded hall.

She thought that she pleased him, for they soon found a rhythm, and he gathered up handfuls of her hair. Her deeds thrilled her, to take in someone who was almost a stranger. At that thought, she began to fear that perhaps her mouth might not suffice, and her set limits fail to please him at the last. She set herself to excel; her lover would say that she was the finest! She took his cock deep within her throat, adding leaf-tip touches of her hands. Peeking up to see if she might read his face, she found that he was watching her, eyes gleaming.

Watching!  She was so rapt in the feel of her lover in the dark that she'd forgotten what he could see might move him. Instead of working to wring his flesh, she changed to enchant his eyes, lightening the touch of her mouth as she drew out long, slow caresses up the full length and back again. He hardened and gasped, eyes locked to her upturned gaze. Then he shut his eyes and his face was unseen without their shine. She took him deep again, there in the dark, and held him as he came, with his hands twined through her rich hair.

When he was spent and still, she slid up to lie alongside him again. "You are well named," she said, daintily licking a shadow of fluid from her pale lips. "Celeborn, silver tree, silver-tall even in the darkness!"

With lazy warmth, he kissed her, and then asked, "What does your name mean, Nerwen?"

"It means the Man-Maiden. When I was very young, I would have every game with my brothers, and strive with the athletes."

Celeborn laughed softly. "Your name means the Man-Maiden, you say? How very strange. I looked and looked, and yet I could not find…" Nerwen chuckled as he ran his hands over her loins.

Looking down at her, he was inspired. "As you say I am well named, so I would name you; Galadriel, for your shining crown of gold," He caressed between her legs, to show which gold he meant.

"Galadriel," she repeated. "It is very fair, that name. Galadriel I shall be!"

 She draped herself against him, catching him in her long arms and hair. "Come and console me again for my hard journey to these lands. Let me show you what I can do with my hands. And then perhaps you will call me the Man-Maiden after all!"



The two tall Elves swept into the chief hall arm in arm, equally bright together beneath the great lamps. The others looked, saw, and began to chatter in whispers about the golden Elf-lady from over the sea and Thingol's chief forester. Finrod and Thingol cast glances at each other to see if the other lord disapproved.

"You Noldor work fast to stake a claim in many things," said Thingol quietly. "But I grudge this not, if it seems well to you."

Fingon watched the light step of his sister; she had not walked so merrily since the Trees were dimmed. "I am well pleased. I may as well be, for nobody stays my sister when she would have her will!" he laughed.

"So I had thought," said Thingol, looking at glowering Eöl. Served the fellow right if this displeased him. He added, "And I like her all the better for it!"

Nerwen and Celeborn separated with a caress, and as she turned to speak to the guards that had ridden with them the day before, another spoke to her first.

"You are quick," said Eöl. "So you flaunt your choice of Thingol's servant. But perhaps I should thank you for making your thought of me so clear without words."

 "I see nothing ill in Celeborn's faithful service, nor is my favor to another only disdain to you," she said, nettled at his rudeness. "I ought to thank you in turn. I thought not of Celeborn until you spoke of him."

"If you would have the court of Doriath under your influence, you did well to choose one more malleable to your hand. Bide here if you wish it. You are too like me to stay here in joy. Either you will break or fade under the constraints of this place."

"As far as the constraints of these halls are concerned, respecting the bounds of others means they respect you and your bounds in turn. You overstep mine with your cold counsels. Deal to your own deeds, not mine!"

Eöl spoke in a scathing whisper for her ears only. "Scorn me if you will. I wish you all the fortune you may find in Thingol's close halls." He bowed and left, stalking away swiftly, his shadow long beneath the lamps.

She who would be Galadriel turned and looked at Celeborn. He had seen the exchange, and his look was troubled. Yet he had respected it as her own will and business, and even now waited for her to speak to him of it. Her pride set the seal on her choice, and she went back to stand beside him with a smile.

Dwelling in Lothlorien, Celeborn remained one of the few choices of her life that Galadriel did not regret, for the pleasure and power that both had gained by their marriage. She had heard it whispered that the spouses seemed cool to one another; the alliance was too politically astute to be brought about by love. Galadriel paid little heed, especially when she thought of others she might have chosen. And only they two knew the counsels taken and secrets unlocked at times in the night brightness of their chamber.


Story Notes:

  • Name translations are sourced from The Peoples of Middle-Earth, ed. Christopher Tolkien. For this story I have taken the liberty of her calling herself "Nerwen" rather than the boring "Artanis," another of her names at this time.

  • Nerwen = ner, man, wen, maiden. Quenya.

  • Celeborn = celeb, silver, orn, tree. Sindarin.

  • Galadriel = galad, radiance, ri, crowned with, riel, maiden. Sindarin. "The whole was given as a reference to Galadriel's hair."

  • This took place in First Age year 52. Way back when!

    Feedback or comments on this story are welcome - email Tyellas here.



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