Disclaimer: see chapter one
Names/Pronunciations will come at the end of each chapter.
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'text' signals thoughts
A/N: Everyone go read "Interrupted Journeys: Part One" by ellisk. If you're uneasy about very PG-13 content, there is some of that in the first chapter, but it actually has something to do with the plot and is not continued throughout the story. It's an extremely well done fic but hasn't gotten a lot of attention – so go review now!!!!
Chapter 14) Love
Come live with me, and be my loveChristopher Marlowe
Recap: Yes! She finally admitted that she loved him! In case you never pay attention to the dates, it's been ten days since the last chapter.
Sept 13, 12 Fourth Age
Elrohir's eyes focused slowly as he woke up amid the blaze of the parting sun. A yawning fire stretched across the sky, licking at the tops of the trees and dancing in the water of the Bruinen. It was a brilliant sight. But Elrohir liked best how the golden flash of evening glowed across Nessúl's smooth skin and dark hair.
She lay next to him, with her head on his shoulder, still asleep. Elrohir's right arm was holding her against his side while his hand, woven with hers, rested on her stomach. For a few moments Elrohir watched in serene contentment as their hands were gently lifted up and down with each breath that Nessúlë took. The moment was perfect.
Unfortunately for the comfortable pair, the moment was also short.
"Peredhel, I would take it kindly if you removed your hands from my sister. We need to talk."
Elrohir shifted his head to the side, looking at the newly arrived Elf in confusion. He had heard footsteps approaching, but this had certainly not been the salutation he had expected.
"So you have arrived at last, Lantél," Elrohir replied guardedly, unsure of what was happening.
Nessúlë began to stir from her sleep. Lantél looked pointedly at Elrohir's hand until the older Elf acquiesced, drawing his hand from Nessúl's grasp and carefully lifting the she-Elf with him as he sat up.
"Your brother is here," Elrohir whispered to Nessúlë.
A smile crept across Nessúl's face as she stood to greet Lantél. "Well met indeed, Gwador brother," she spoke joyfully, "Thank you for coming with such haste."
The siblings shared a long embrace as Elrohir push himself off of the warm grass and to his feet. He was still puzzling over Lantél's opening remark and wondering what would become of it.
"Where is Vírtuima?" Nessúlë inquired of her brother. "Certainly you did not leave her at home – not for my wedding?"
Lantél let a reserved smile flit across his lips. "No, surely not. She is waiting down the path. You should go and greet her. But I will stay, for I have something to say to your… betrothed."
Nessúl's brows furrowed. She paused for a moment. "Lantél, what is it?"
"Go to her," he whispered firmly.
A long-suffering sigh flowed from Nessúl's lips. "You are so odd at times. I will go, because I wish to see my sister-in-law and because I know that, whatever addled scheme is in your head, Elrohir is quite valiant enough to oppose it without any of my aid. Be reasonable, Lantél."
Nessúlë patted Lantél's arm reassuringly and then walked passed him down the pathway. After going a few paces she turned her head back to grace Elrohir with one last inviting glance.
"Come to me when my brother is done with you," she called back, smiling.
Elrohir felt any apprehension he had concerning her brother slip away beneath Nessúl's smile. She, being the eldest child, was not subject to her brother's guidance. It wasn't as if Lantél could forbid him to marry her. Elrohir turned to face Lantél with a good deal of equanimity.
"We were always friends, Lantél," Elrohir began, "Why do you come here with such guarded eyes?"
Lantél shifted uncomfortably on his feet, but his eyes remained steady. "Since when does my sister love you?"
"I think that is a question you must pose to your sister," Elrohir countered gently. "All I know is that I have loved her for many years, and that I am most honored to be singled out for her affection and hand in marriage."
Lantél looked suspiciously at Elrohir. His eyes fell to the grass as he puzzled out how to say what was in his heart.
"I do not challenge your declaration of love, Elrohir. I know you are not one to toy with such things. Indeed, I could not help but notice your preference for my sister in times past, though she seemed thoroughly unaware of it. But I am concerned for my sister. She was never one to court with the young Elves in Mithlond. How can she know her own heart so quickly? When she left East Lorien I felt that her spirit was restless. In that light, I cannot help but think that this is a rash decision. Is there any assurance that you can give me?"
Elrohir took a long breath, letting it out slowly. "My only assurance is what I know of Nessúlë herself. She is not a foolish, flighty maiden, Lantél – you must know this. She is also very willful. I admit that I sought to woo her, but she could not have been claimed if she were not willing. Nor will she be swayed from her course. And for my part, as well as I am able, I will never allow her to regret the course she has chosen in accepting me as her husband. Will you not say yea to that?"
"Indeed," Lantél agreed finally, "Your intentions are open and honorable, I can see that, and if they bring my sister joy then I am for you."
"Shall we return to the ladies, then?" Elrohir inquired lightly.
With a nod from Lantél the two Elves turned of one accord to follow Nessúlë down the path. A comfortable silence settled between them and Elrohir smiled to himself, thinking that the encounter had been much simpler than it could have been. Just as he was thinking this Lantél laid a hand on Elrohir's shoulder and brought them both to a halt.
"What of Nessúl's pursuits?" Lantél questioned, as though the thought had just struck him. "I do not think she would be happy cloistered away in the gardens and halls."
"We have already spoken of it," Elrohir replied, "I am well aware of Nessúl's skills. She will not grow stale, my soon-to-be brother; at least, no more than I have as a reluctant bureaucrat." A wry smile flitted over Elrohir's face as he said this. "There will be sacrifices," he continued steadily, "but none that we will not share."
Lantél nodded. "Very well then. I think that is my last question. However, I will still speak with my sister."
"As is your right," was Elrohir's congenial reply.
As they began walking once more Lantél spoke again. "For what it is worth, aside from my reservation about the speed of this development, I couldn't wish for a better brother-in-law."
Elrohir simply smiled his thanks. The two Elves continued to wear very amiable expressions as they came upon their ladies, who were sitting on a large flat stone beside the path. Vírtuima stood first, happy to meet Elrohir, whom she had heard many good things about. Nessúlë then suggested that they go up to the Halls to make the proper round of introductions with the rest of the family, especially with the new child, Arannon.
Elrohir led the way, slipping Nessúl's arm through his own as she was walking beside him. Lantél watched the pair curiously, observing his sister in particular. Her bright, peaceful demeanor was itself enough to lift his heart considerably. But what pleased him most was when she forsook the dignified comfort of Elrohir's arm to twine it with the Elf lord's hand instead. It reminded him of when he had come upon them minutes before, lying peaceful and unguarded in the warmth of the setting sun. Perhaps all would be well.
"After the conversation I just had with Lantél, I think I can guess what he spoke with you about by the river."
Nessúlë spoke matter-of-factly as she stepped up behind Elrohir and laid her head against his back. A great sigh escaped her as she leaned into his warmth.
"What troubles you, love?" Elrohir inquired as he turned from the bookshelf he had been perusing to face Nessúlë and pull her into his arms. He had yet to grow used to such familiarity and it brought a smile to his face every time she allowed his boldness.
"In truth, I find it tiring to speak of you," Nessúlë commented, laying her head against his chest.
Nessúlë chuckled. "Well, over evening tea with the ladies, Vírtuima wanted a full account of all the romantic details regarding my sudden betrothal. And afterward I found myself cornered by Lantél, who was determined to have a full account of my emotional journey over the last month in order to determine if I really loved you or not. And the poor darling looked so serious that I couldn't bear to let him down. He wanted to know how I fell in love, and when." She paused. "It's very hard to put into words really."
Elrohir was about to say something amusing when Nessúlë started speaking again.
"And then, to my greater fatigue, it struck me that perhaps you didn't know why or how I loved you either, and so I spent many minutes fretting about what I should say to you before I found you here in the library. I admit that I'm still rather uncertain how to express it."
"Don't distress yourself," Elrohir whispered with a smile. "I'm just thrilled that you do love me. The details can come later."
"No," Nessúlë declared adamantly, lifting her head up to look Elrohir straight in the eye. "I want you to know. I don't ever want you to think that I resigned myself to you. I want you to know how much I value your opinion and how you always make me feel better than however I was feeling before and how I love the way you laugh and how you always manage to blot up your letters with ink smudges." Nessúlë paused and a quick little smile darted across her face. "Well, that wasn't so hard after all, was it?"
Elrohir chuckled, leaning down to place a soft kiss on her lips, and then another and another. He reached a hand up to pluck the large comb from her hair and then, dropping the comb on the floor, he let his hands sink into her freed tresses, pulling her forward so he could whisper against her ear.
"Your desire for me to know these things is a comfort in itself. But even if you never said a word, I would read the truth in your eyes. You are too open to live a clever lie."
Nessúlë smiled and tilted her head to the side, placing a kiss on Elrohir's jaw. "Thank you," she whispered back, "I shall take that as a compliment, I suppose."
Elrohir let his hands fall to Nessúl's waist. He leaned back against the bookshelf and pulled Nessúlë snuggly against himself. But his boldness ended there.
Smiling mischievously, Nessúlë traced the embroidered pattern on Elrohir's tunic and spoke: "It strikes me, son of Elrond, that you have not given me a truly proper kiss since our betrothal ten days ago. I hope that you will do better at our wedding tomorrow."
Elrohir started slightly, pushing Nessúlë away from him a bit to get a good look in her eyes.
"Aye," Nessúlë breathed happily. "That came up at the end of my conversation with Lantél. Would it please you to be married tomorrow evening?"
Without warning Elrohir picked Nessúlë up and spun her away from the tall shelving, laughing as he did so. When he finally put his future bride back on her feet beside a reading table she smiled up at him wryly.
"Is that a yes?"
Leaning his forehead against her own Elrohir replied, "I do believe it is."
"And now," Nessúlë began a little tentatively, "About that proper kiss. Don't you think we had better rehearse it once before we do it in front of the whole population of Imladris?"
Elrohir rolled his eyes. "There is a good reason why I restrain myself, love," he responded candidly.
"Yes, and after tonight, which I will spend one thin wall away from my sleeping brother, that good reason will completely disappear."
Elrohir chuckled at Nessúl's pleading look.
"If not a proper kiss, then at least a kiss goodnight?" Nessúlë inquired.
"That I will give you now," Elrohir responded, "And the other, you will certainly receive later."
And saying so, Elrohir leaned down to place another tender kiss on Nessúl's lips. In all truthfulness, the kiss probably lasted several moments longer than was necessary, but neither Elf seemed very disturbed by it. Soon, however, the two drew away from each other and bid silent goodnight and farewell with hands and eyes, both harboring in their hearts a joyful hope for the morrow.
Sept 14, 12 Fourth Age
Nessúl's brows furrowed slightly as her heartbeat seemed to speed up from its already frantic rate. She lowered her eyes and tried to take calming breaths. She was extremely grateful at that moment for the silvery veil that was covering her face, even if it had kept trying to come unpinned, for it seemed inappropriate to be seen in such a flustered state as she was being led to her wedding.
The ceremony had been arranged in accordance with the traditions of Nessúl's homeland, and she was now being led by all of the ladies in Imladris to the orchard in the forest where the vows were to be spoken.
'I can't get nervous now!' Nessúlë chided herself vehemently as her heart continued its staccato beat. 'This doesn't make any sense. I want to marry Elrohir. I want to marry Elrohir.'
The mantra didn't appear to work, as a cloud of butterflies started flying about in her stomach.
'No,' she thought to herself, 'perhaps I am going about this wrong. I want to marry Elrohir… because I love him. I love him because he is my dearest friend and because he is courageous and good and kind and because his smile makes me smile.' Nessúlë was encouraged by the slow withdrawal of the butterflies. "I can't imagine living without Elrohir," she whispered, "My life will be good here. I will have a family here. I will be happy here."
Thankfully, her heartbeat started to respond to her persistent encouragement, slowing down its frenzied gallop. Unfortunately, her heart jumped right back into the race when and unexpected hand was laid on her shoulder.
"Talking yourself up to it?" Oloriel whispered cheerily in her ear.
Nessúlë turned toward her friend and glared daggers through the veil.
"Do not worry," Oloriel continued merrily, "the feeling will pass as soon as you see him."
As the married elleth spoke the procession of she-Elves entered the orchard and began walking down the petal strewn path to the center of the fruit trees. Without thinking Nessúlë turned her eyes forward and was caught in Elrohir's gaze. He was still quite a distance away, but she could already feel the strength of his presence. He smiled involuntarily and Nessúlë was lost. She loved the way he smiled.
To Elrohir's very great disappointment he was not even given the chance to properly kiss Nessúlë at their wedding. Indeed, after their vows were spoken he and Nessúlë were barely afforded the luxury of a quick kiss before the male Elves of Imladris carried out the last part of the ceremony. With many whoops and cheers Nessúlë was whisked away from her new husband and placed on a flower-decked divan, which was then hoisted onto the shoulders of six trusty Elves. Elrohir himself was soon treated to the same accommodations, and with much music and dancing the newlyweds were carried off toward the nuptial chambers.
For a few moments Elrohir allowed his mind to turn toward petulant thoughts of being torn away from his bride, who was being carried several safe yards away from him, and he silently cursed the ridiculous western tradition. But he didn't allow his mood to be dampened for long. Nessúlë was quite beautiful, riding in her bower, and the celebration around him was actually rather infectious.
As he watched his new wife smile at the Elves around her Elrohir was struck once more by the magnitude of his good fortune. Nessúlë was now his wife! Before she had come to Imladris, never in his wildest imaginings had he believed that this day would actually come to be. And yet here he was – a married man.
Elrohir's reverie was rudely interrupted as a few boisterous and mischievous Elves tried to tip him from his perch. He struggled good-naturedly with them, stubbornly holding his seat as they continued to rock the wooden platform. From across the way he heard Nessúlë laugh and was sure that he presented quite an amusing sight. Looking up to catch her gaze he winked and let himself come off of his seat, hitting the ground on his feet and sprinting toward her aerial carriage. But he was not quick enough. With merry cruelty, several Elves caught him just as he was about to grasp the extended hand of his bride. With jeering and teasing all around Elrohir was carried away from Nessúlë and kept under strict guard until the procession reached its destination.
Thankfully, the march did not last much longer. As they neared the end of the journey, Elrohir glanced back up at Nessúlë and noticed that she had just realized where they were going. Or perhaps, more precisely, where they were not going, as their was a confused expression on her face. Undoubtedly she had assumed that they would be led back to Elrohir's own chambers. But instead they had gone deeper into the forest and were now approaching the Anorlín"" Sun Pool.
Elrohir continued to observe Nessúl's expression as they came in view of the miniature talan that had been hastily constructed over the last nine days in one of the great trees beside the pool. It was a small structure, containing only one room. It was built around the bole of the tree, with a small winding staircase leading up to an entrance in the floor. The outside of the structure was accented with a smattering of simple Elven embellishments, from curling woodwork to a small, curtained balcony.
As Nessúlë stared in wonder at the sight Elrohir was finally allowed to approach her, offering his hand as she was lowered to the ground.
"What is this place?" Nessúlë whispered, taking Elrohir's proffered hand.
He smiled mysteriously. "You shall soon see."
As if on cue, Elladan and Oloriel stepped from the crowd and spoke a final blessing on the couple. Then, in a much more subdued manner, the well-wishers departed, leaving Elrohir and Nessúlë standing before the building.
Even as the crowd was departing, Elrohir tightened his hold on Nessúl's hand and led her toward the tree and up the staircase into the talan. What Nessúlë saw within warmed her heart. On one side of the trunk, in an odd scoop of wall, an elegant bed was set and on the other side, sitting on top of an intricately tooled rug, were two cushioned chairs and a small bookshelf occupied by several selections. A few trunks were tucked away in various nooks, presumably stocked with blankets, clothing, and other provisions.
"You had this place made for us?" was Nessúlë first incredulous comment.
Elrohir grinned. "It was at this pool that I first discovered you were not opposed to marriage, so I felt it was rather fitting… I will not be needed back for several days, and have arranged for food to be brought to us."
Nessúlë turned to her husband and could not help from laughing. "I find that you are an amazing creature," she stated frankly, shaking her head and continuing to chuckle.
"Why thank you, my wife," Elrohir murmured as he stepped around to face her and took her hands. "And now… for that proper kiss."
Nessúlë lowered her eyes involuntarily and blushed slightly. She wasn't quite so bold when standing next to her marriage bed as she had been the night before. With a smile Elrohir tilted her chin up and held her gaze for a few moments. Then, very slowly, he leaned his head toward her, letting his lips hover over her own until he could feel her impatience begin to grow.
The first touch of his lips was very gentle and searching, but it was not long before he became more insistent, letting his arms surround her, pulling her body flat against his own. Nessúlë responded readily, sliding her hands over his shoulders and up his neck to tangle in his hair. Thus encouraged, Elrohir teased her lips open and deepened the caress, holding the back of her head as he leaned into her. A slight gasp caught in Nessúl's throat but she did not draw back, submitting to Elrohir's guidance as he kissed her quite thoroughly.
But Nessúlë was not one to remain passive for long. Slowly and tenderly she raised her hands and traced the soft edges of Elrohir's ears, up to their sensitive tips. The Elf shuddered and drew suddenly away from Nessúlë, startled in his own right by her bold move and rather disoriented at the forces at work within him.
Smoothing Nessúl's hair with both his hands and gazing steadily at the flushed maiden, he tried to calm his rough breathing. Unfortunately, observing the decidedly warm glow in her eyes did not aid his endeavor. When he had finally succeeded in calming down enough to speak he managed only to smile and murmur, "I love you," before giving into desire and claiming her lips once more.
Nessúl's heart leapt at the words. And even though Elrohir did not give her the chance to reply, her heart continued to sing over and over, joyful and strong: "I love him. I love him."
As may be imagined, the life of Elrohir Peredhel and Nessúlë Ëarwen, Lord and Lady of Imladris, was never a boring affair. Their courtship was unorthodox, their wedding was hasty, their daily routine grew to involve morning sparring sessions, their children and grandchildren tended to be rather singular individuals, and until they departed Middle Earth, their honeymoon talan continued to grow by the year and was their favorite place of refuge. Elrohir continued to write poetry, Nessúlë continued to pursue falconry. Every so often both of them could be seen amongst a gaggle of women helping to hang up laundry. And it has been speculated that, as late as the twentieth birthday of their second child, the couple continued to slip away on various harmless and amusing adventures.
While some of their arguments have become famous in the lore of those who lived in the valley, Elrohir and Nessúlë were both known to cool quickly and make up shortly thereafter. In this way their love continued to grow over the centuries and millennia that followed. Their romance was also known to thrive, and was even once praised in song by a highly regarded minstrel in the Blessed Realm. For though the passion of all Elves is dimmed with the ebbing of the years, there was never a week in which Elrohir did not leave a love letter, however short, somewhere in Nessúl's path and in which Nessúlë did not ask her husband for at least one very proper kiss.
A/N: Yes, I will be writing more. Yes, I will be writing about Kallindo (for those of you who still can't get over what I did to him in "To Dream"). And yes, the first chapter of that story should be coming relatively soon (in a week?).1.) Anorlín "Sunpool" – mentioned in chapter 5
Things to Know:
Nessúlë: "young spirit"
Elrohir: "elf knight"
Lantél: "falling star"
Vírtuima: "rose bud"
Oloriel: "dream daughter"
talan: Elven treetop dwelling