Chapter 12

                  Ereinion greeted Círdan and Celebrimbor with smiles. 

                  " Welcome, welcome."

Círdan only studied Ereinion a moment.

                  " You are overly cheerful, Ereinion."

Ereinion clasped his hands behind his back.

                  " It is a beautiful night.  The stars are coming out and there is not one cloud in the sky."

Celebrimbor came to Ereinion's other side.

                  " That is a new necklace."

                  Ereinion glanced down at Nienna's necklace.  He took it off, handing it to Celebrimbor.  Celebrimbor studied it.

                  " This cannot be equaled even by me or my grandfather."  He glanced up.  " Who made it?"

Ereinion shook his head.

                  " I would not know.  It is a gift from a friend."

Celebrimbor carefully handed it back.

                  " I should like to talk to this friend."

Ereinion waved his hand.

                  " Perhaps."

                  Nienna sat in the music room alone.  She dared to touch the stringed harp before her.  Instantly, a beautiful note ran out.  She drew her hand back with a cringe.

Can I do anything that is not perfect?

                  " Why are you frustrated?  That note sounded perfect."

Nienna glanced up at Elrond with sad eyes.

                  " Of course it sounds perfect.  I cannot do anything that is not perfect."

Elrond pursed his lips.

                  " This sounds like a conversation Ereinion needs to hear."

                  Nienna smiled ruefully before shaking her head.

                  " Forgive me, Elrond.  I should not be so ornery at being perfect."

Elrond chuckled.

                  " No one is perfect.  Not even you."

                  " Course she is."

Nienna smiled as Ereinion swept in, sitting beside her and pressing a kiss to her lips.

                  " You would think so."  Elrond pointed out.  " She is only your beloved."

Ereinion sent her a fond look.

                  " Come now, Elrond-"

Elrond just held up a hand.

                  " I will not debate this with you."  He crossed his arms.  " Have Círdan and Celebrimbor settled in?"

Ereinion nodded, placing his head on Nienna's shoulder.  She smiled tenderly at him, running a hand through his dark hair.  He lifted his chin, tilting his head so he could reach her mouth.  Elrond rolled his eyes in disgust.

" Galadriel is coming."

Ereinion was sitting on another chair in a flash.  The golden haired woman peeked a head around the door.

                  " Celebhiril, Círdan wishes to speak with you."

Nienna glanced up inquiringly.

                  " Why?"

                  " Yes, why?"  Ereinion echoed.

Galadriel shrugged.

                  " He did not say and I did not ask."

                  Nienna entered the room, seeing the stately bearded lord standing at the window.  He gazed across the Sea, his back towards her, but she knew he sensed her presence.

                  " I can see where Ereinion's affections lie."

Nienna closed the door behind her, approaching the lord.  He glanced at her, steely eyes falling on her face. 

                  " I do not see what business it is of yours."

                  Círdan's lips turned up in a thin forced line.  He smoothed his beard, aged eyes crinkling against the sun.

                  " No one knows anything about you.  You appeared out of nowhere with Glorfindel.  You bear neither lineage nor family here.  You came with nothing except the clothes on your back.  There is no she-Elf in Arda that would not travel without dresses and such, especially upon going to see the high king."

                  Nienna drew herself up to full height.

                  " Master Círdan, if you are implying that I am only pretending to love Ereinion, then you are sorely mistaken."  Her voice lowered.  " And I strongly suggest that you do not play this game with me.  You will lose."

Círdan's eyebrows arched a bit.

                  " I play no game."

She crossed her arms.

                  " You have not liked me since the moment you saw me.  You questioned my intelligence; my name and authority."  She shook her head.  "If you only knew, you would not treat me so."

Círdan's leaned in curiously.

I am getting somewhere…

                  " If I knew what?"

Nienna glanced at him quickly with a quick breath.  She had not meant to say that aloud.

                  " You would not understand."

Círdan watched her go.

Ereinion will know of your lies, lady.  You can bet on it.

                  Nienna allowed herself to be dressed in the royal dark blue color.  Some of the ladies murmured their praise as they beheld the fine material and beautiful silver pattern.  A young maiden curtsied before Nienna.

                  " His majesty is waiting outside, Lady Celebhiril."

Nienna sucked in a surprised breath when an attendant jerked her corset tighter.  Nienna let out a shaky breath, sending the obviously envious maiden a questioning glance.  She put a hand on her overly flat stomach.

                  " Would you please tell him I shall join him momentarily?"

                  The soft, velvet dress fell over her under-things and rippled soundlessly to the ground just as Galadriel entered.  The Noldo smiled slightly before shooing the other maidens out.

                  " Ereinion sent me in with this.  He says it is in response to you giving him yours."

Nienna picked up the silver necklace decorated with his pendent at the bottom. 

                  " This is his though.  I cannot-"

Galadriel took it back to place around Nienna's neck.

                  " He wears yours and it belongs to you."

Nienna fingered it as she stared at her reflection.

                  " I have never stopped to see what I really look like."

Galadriel smiled slightly.

                  " You look lovely."

                  Nienna smiled, turning towards the door.  Galadriel stopped her.

                  " Your hair?"

Nienna rolled her eyes with a grumble.  Galadriel picked up the brush, pulling it through the wet strands.  Galadriel gently pulled pieces of it back, fastening it into a mithril clip.

                  " Now you may go to your love."

Nienna flushed slightly.  Galadriel smiled with eyes full of forgotten memories.

                  " I never thought a Queen of the Aratar would fall for the King of Elves."

Nienna glanced over her shoulder, pausing at the door.

                  " If anyone would have foretold this in Aman, I would have laughed in their face."

                  Ereinion's head swung around with a relieved expression, seeing her exit her room.  The cloud of maidens around him dispersed immediately.  He extended his hands to her, greeting her with a quick kiss.

                  " You look lovely."  He whispered, leaning his forehead against hers.

She glanced up with a fond look as she straightened his ever-askew collar.

                  " And you are handsome."

Ereinion placed her hand on the crook of his elbow.

                  " Shall we?"

                  Celebrimbor hesitantly approached her after dinner.  He smoothed his robes, before standing beside her.

                  " Good evening."

She sent him a small smile.

                  " Good evening, Master Celebrimbor.  I trust you have found Lindon to your liking?"

He nodded.

                  " Aye, do you mind if I join in on your star gazing?"

Nienna turned, her dark hair shimmering under the beams of a pale moon.

                  " I was about to go inside."

Celebrimbor nodded, not so easily put off.

                  " Then may I escort you to your room?"

Nienna searched for an answer.  Celebrimbor caught her hesitation.  It was then he also noted Ereinion's necklace hanging just barely visible upon her neck.

                  " Forget I asked, my lady.  I see that your affections lie elsewhere."

She touched his shoulder.

                  " Be not sad of heart, son of Curufin.  There are still great things in store for you."

Celebrimbor touched a hand to his heart respectfully.

                  " I bid you a good night, lady of the king."

                  Nienna too turned inside, aimlessly walking the halls.  She was not surprised to see Ereinion up ahead walking alone.  She sped up, linking an arm through his and laying her head on his shoulder.  He pressed a chaste kiss to her hair, ignoring the Elves milling about.

                  " You seem light of heart."

                  Nienna smiled softly up at him, sliding closer to him.  He marveled at the Valië beauty that shone through the façade she wore with the simple twitch of her mouth.

                  " I have joy, Gil-galad."

Ereinion gazed down at her, his eyes glowing with tender warmth.  He leaned his face down, their noses nuzzling together.  The sounds and colors of the surrounding Elves fell away as they focused only on each other.  Ereinion had just begun to caress her lips with his.

                  A few catcalls came at seeing the King in such a dangerous pose.  Ereinion turned his eyes up with a grin.  Nienna blushed, turning her face into Ereinion's robes.  Ereinion slid an arm around her waist intent on being alone with her.

                  " Majesty, I would expect to see a bit more discretion in public."

The two glanced over their shoulders at the broadly grinning Elf-lords.  Ereinion just rolled his eyes.

                  " Perhaps if we ignore them, they will go away."  He muttered.

Nienna laughed softly.

                  " I doubt it."

                  Ereinion glanced back at the two again as the Elf-lords approached.

                  " You two cannot disappear and leave me alone?"

Elrond and Glorfindel shook their heads with grins.  Ereinion sighed with a soft grumble.

                  " What do you want?"

Elrond lifted his hands innocently and glanced at Glorfindel.  Glorfindel smiled sweetly.

                  " Simply the pleasure of your company, Majesty."

                  Ereinion's eyes narrowed as they darted between the two.

                  " My begetting day is tomorrow.  Mayhaps that is the reason my two closest friends are struck with madness."

Elrond shrugged.

                  " Ereinion, what have we ever done to get-"

Ereinion just raised an eyebrow.

                  " I seem to recall one year when you and your brother lured me out of the house so they could plan a party.  I was nearly killed by a bear."

Elrond flushed before smiling impishly.

                  " That was Elros' idea.  I wanted to knock you out.  It would have been easier."

Ereinion good-humoredly reached out to cuff Elrond.  Elrond ducked with a laugh, ending up on the other side of Nienna.  Nienna stilled her love.

                  " Let him be."  She sent them a secretive smile.  " Come on, Ereinion.  I believe if we ignore these two trouble makers, they will go away."

Ereinion allowed her to lead him away, unaware of the wink she sent Elrond and Glorfindel over her shoulder.