Title: How to be Bilingual
Author: Jo Slater
Summary: Ashk's crash course lessons in learning Elvish and a little something else along the way.
Timeframe: Two months after the end of Just for Tomorrow and straight through and past "Some Measure of Peace".
Note: Any dialog written in italics is understood to be said in Elven. Why do I not just write the dialogue in Elvish? Because I'm still learning the punctuality and words and do not want to be mercilessly slaughtered by fellow hard-core Tolkien fans.
Big thanks to my readers who read/reviewed "Some Measure of Peace". You are all so great and I know I brag on you and praise you all the time, but it's just cause I love you so much!
Also, starting with this fic, there should be one small fic just about every week for some time to come. I've put myself in a routine now. But, I will let you know. Thanks for everything guys!
"Well last time I said house I said something about a large, furry creature I've never even heard of before," Ashk replied as she stood from the table to retrieve more tea.
I laughed. That was only yesterday. The lesson for the day had stopped with that due to a rather lengthy and hilarious story I told her about Rumil and the particular animal she had named.
I waited for her to sit back down and smiled as she plopped her chin in her palm, awaiting my further instructions.
"Try - My name is Ashk. I live in Caras Galadhon."
Her eyes widened before she sat up straight and took a deep breath as though she was about to jump from a high tree limb.
I tried to subdue my amusement but failed rather horribly and she glared before saying, "My name..was Ashk. I sleep in Caras Galadhon."
I swallowed my laugh. It wasn't bad, really. Wrong tense only once, but the sleeping part threw me off.
I cleared my throat and shifted to lean forward. "I -live- in Caras Galadhon."
"...I live in Caras Galadhon."
"Better," I told her with a chuckle.
"What did I say?"
"You were supposed to say, 'My name is Ashk. I live in Caras Galadhon,' - but you said, 'My name was Ashk. I sleep in Caras Galadhon,'."
Ashk looked as though she was thinking deeply on my words for a long moment and I could nearly hear her saying them in her head. I hid a smile behind my hand as I rubbed my face.
I had been surprised when she mentioned just last week that she wanted, and needed, to learn my native language. We'd only gone through a handful of lessons by now, but I found myself taking more amusement out of her than anything.
My wife was a smart woman and it was obvious that she became frustrated when she didn't understand something. I, being the good husband I was, found it hilarious.
The entrance door suddenly flew open with a loud thud against the wall it hit before a small child came pattering her way into the flet. Behind her, her uncle held her brother as he staggered inside.
"No more!" Rumil cried. "No more!"
"Ada!" Moriana squealed, immediately attaching herself to my leg before I pulled her into my lap. "Birds!" she added with a bob of her head.
"Birds?" Ashk echoed, her voice dreadful as she peered at Rumil.
"That's right," he replied, plopping our son into Ashk arms. "Birds. Everywhere." His hands flew out to both sides. "I nearly lost an eye - Twice!" Rumil continued to rant as I slanted a look down at my daughter while she stared at her irate uncle.
"Oh, she didn't mean to," Ashk said with a laugh.
Rumil swung around to look at my wife, his eyes nearly bugging out of his head. "She most certainly did. Then he," my brother pointed to his nephew, "decided that he was going to take a stroll...Without me!"
My brother proceeded to tell us how Onduras had managed to make it to nearly the other side of the city without him in a half hour's time. Then, he foolishly continued on how Moriana had also escaped his supervision while Rumil was looking for her brother.
By the end of the tale, I was drumming my fingers on the table with a very unhappy look aimed at Rumil. He looked at me and his ragged and stressed voice ceased.
"Rumil," I started in a low voice.
Ashk moved to a stand and walk to the common room, placing Onduras on the day bed there…safe from harm's way.
"Allow me to revise this story: You agreed last night to take the twins for the day...You came to get them earlier this morning, only two hours ago. In that span of time you managed to lose my son, misplace my daughter, and turn half of the city upside down looking for one or the other...All this before even noon?"
Rumil glanced between Ashk and I as she came back into the kitchener.
I shifted Moriana to Ashk's arms and saw as Rumil tensed, ready to flee out the open door.
"Haldir - Really. I love them! I'd never let anything happ-"
Bolting out of the chair I was in I barely missed Rumil as he screeched, much like he did when we were nothing but Elflings, before dashing towards the door and his escape.
"Make him bleed!" Ashk shouted with a laugh as I barreled out the door and down the flight of stairs on the heels of my brother.
Two Months Later
"I'm nervous," she whispered to me. I nearly informed her that I could easily tell that - her hand was shaking in mine - but I thought better of it.
"Don't be," I replied, squeezing her hand.
"What if I say something wrong? My Elvish is horrible," she added a moment later. Again I stopped myself from confirming her worries. Her Sindarian was horrible. Though she could easily move around the city and have various conversations with other citizens, Ashk often used very human phrases in Elvish words.
"You'll be fine," I assured her, praying to the Valar that she would not call the King's daughter a whore or disgrace him some other way.
I glanced down the greeting line to see that King Thranduil was still speaking with Lord Celeborn. Though I was usually standing beside the Lady and Lord, I had decided that being further down would give Ashk time enough to listen to what other Elves said to the Elven King.
However, Ashk was obviously panicking far too much to pay attention.
The King of Mirkwood moved away from the Lord and Lady of the Wood and his footsteps, though nearly silent, were like thunder to me and Ashk immediately stopped talking.
Thranduil greeted Orophin and went onto Rumil before speaking briefly with Kenmar beside me.
When the good King stood before me, I bowed and he beamed a smile at me.
"Haldir, it is good to see you again," he said, his hand slapping against my shoulder.
"A likely story, my lord," I replied with a smile and he laughed. "It does me well to see you, King," I added a moment later, inclining my head in respect.
Thranduil's smile only grew when he looked to my left to see Ashk. He tipped his head and said, "Ah, so this is the Warden's woman I have heard so much about."
I chuckled slightly. "Indeed, this is she," I told him, my hand moving from Ashk's hand and settling on her back, moving her forward as if to present her. She curtsied before the King and I hid a smile.
"My lord," she greeted and I breathed in relief.
"My lady," he replied with a crooked smile. "It is a pleasure to meet you."
Ashk took a moment, obviously translating his words. She then smiled and blushed slightly. "The pleasure is mine, of course."
King Thranduil gave me a pleased look.
"Until later," he said, shaking my hand and taking Ashk's only to kiss her wedding ring before moving on.
Ashk immediately looked at me. "How'd I do?" she whispered.
I smiled. "Perfect," I replied. She sighed in relief and leaned into me.
"Good...I think I nearly passed out," she added.
I chuckled and we patiently waited for King Thranduil to finish the presentation line.
Dinner had been filled with quiet chatter. Ashk was growing more and more bold with her speaking and, despite her lack of accent, she did well. Occasionally I found myself only listening to her with a smirk.
Now, as we strolled towards the doors, she seemed tired.
"How do you think the twins are?" she asked.
We'd left the children with a friend's daughter for the night. At first Ashk had been hesitant when I mentioned the possible sitter. After all, I had said, 'Eviel's youngest daughter'. Yet, when I corrected her confused thoughts in mentioning that the Elleth was fifty years old, she was much more at ease.
"I am sure Reneila will never be the same nor so quick to offer to help," I told her with a smile. Ashk laughed slightly as we breached the top stair to leave the ball room.
I stopped and turned to see King Thranduil approaching us, a pale colored sash in grasp that he offered to me.
"I believe you are forgetting something," he said as I took the sash and gave it to Ashk.
"Thank you, my good King," Ashk said slowly.
Thranduil smiled. "You are most welcome."
"Your mother is a rather large lizard who is kind."
At first, I thought I had imagined the entire phrase. Perhaps my worst nightmare had come true or maybe I drank a bit too much wine.
Yet, no, it was neither case. Thranduil's eyes widened and Ashk beamed him a smile, obviously believing she'd just given him some sort of a compliment.
"Please, my Lord - She did not mean to say that," I said quickly, my hand clenching on Ashk's arm and yanking her closer as she nearly interrupted me. "Our apologies. Our massive apologies."
Ashk frowned at me. "Haldir?"
"..Yes…Well...No harm done," said King Thranduil with a raised brow and an amused smirk on his lips. "Good night."
"Good night," I replied, bowing briefly before turning, dragging Ashk along before she could say anything further.
"Haldir? What are you doing?"
"Attempting to save your reputation," I replied, slowing down slightly when she staggered as we went down the outside stairs. "What were you trying to tell him?"
"The last thing you said to the King, what were you trying to say?"
Ashk thought on it a moment before frowning. "Something...I said he was very kind to catch up to us again. I di– Oh, no! What did I say?"
I thought for a moment. How she had gone from that phrase to the one she'd managed to say was beyond me.
"I…" Ashk stared at me, worry filling her dark eyes and I couldn't manage to say it without laughing. "You said his mother was a rather large lizard...who was kind."
Ashk froze a moment and probably looked just about how I had while all color drained from her face. Then, she flushed bright red.
"How could I say that!" she exclaimed, turning and stalking away from me.
Laughing, I took a few strides to catch up to her, my hand grasping hers and pulling her to a stop.
"He knew you didn't mean it," I told her, but she just buried her blushing face in my chest with a groan.
"Haldir! How is it I always make a fool of myself at dinners like that! I never fail, I always do something ridiculous."
"You do not."
"Last month I tripped the server on accident," she replied dryly, her voice muffled in my chest. "At our own wedding, I accidentally knocked Orophin into the river! And let us not forget that first time when I managed to get into a fight with that…that..."
"Yes. No - Haldir!" She pushed off me only to slap my arm with a crack that broke the calm night air. The sting that followed was surprising. Yet, I could only laugh, pulling her back to me.
"That was uncalled for," I admonished playfully.
She sighed heavily. "You just can't take me anywhere, can you?"
I raised a brow as she looked at me. "That's all right. I will just keep you at home every day, all day. Think of it. You can be my love slave... Besides, I'm getting annoyed of others staring at you."
Ashk cringed and I knew she misunderstood. She was very aware that many Elves often stared at her, especially at dinners and balls. She misunderstood it as judging glares most of the time.
However, I knew better and so did the occasional Galadhrim I forced to run an extra length while having a clear reminder of how he'd stared at her the day or night before.
I gave her a devious look. "What can I say? I have the most beautiful woman in the city for my wife."
Ashk looked at me skeptically. "I'm the only woman in the city."
"And everyone still thinks you are elegant even when you say that the King of Mirkwood's mother is a lizard," I reminded her.
She immediately grimaced and I chuckled, turning and slipping my hand into hers. "Let us go home, my little love slave," I said and she laughed.
"Reneila's flet is that way," she told me, pointing east as we went south as if I was not aware of this.
"I know," I replied, looking at her only to give a sly grin.
She immediately flushed again. "Oh, I see."
"You most certainly will," I replied as we started up the stairs to our door.
"Hmm...Two loaves, please - And some sage as well," I told Salladan, the marketer. He nodded and retrieved what I requested and added it to my other items.
"It seems someone will be having a nice dinner tonight," he said with a charming smile, his eyes glancing over the different array of foods. "I hear the Warden is returning after three weeks away," he added with a knowing look
I smiled at him. "He certainly is."
I looked down at the child pulling on my skirt. Onduras stared back at me with wide eyes and held a sweet candy out to me.
"Please?" he requested.
I smiled and took the candy, putting it in the cloth bag I brought for the market.
"Where's Ana?" I asked, glancing around even though I already knew where she was. Not but four yards away, she was currently entertaining the two seamstresses that found her to be the cutest thing that had ever entered Caras Galadhon.
I only let the two wander at a safe distance in the market. Even in the sanction of Caras Galadhon I keep a close eye on the two of them.
"There," Onduras told me pointing toward Ana.
I nodded mindlessly, paying Salladan.
"Enjoy your night," he said with a smile before offering me a flower that had seemed to appear from no where. "And don' t forget this."
I smiled and took the flower. "My thanks, Salladan," I replied, tucking the pale flower behind my ear and slinging the bag onto my back.
Onduras took my hand as we walked away towards Moriana.
"Take good care of your mother, Onduras!" Salladan called with a laugh as his wife winked at me when we passed.
"Is she visiting?" I asked, coming to the fabrics and seamstress shop.
"Of course," Frasha said, beaming a smile at me. "Have you come to steal her away?"
"Sad to say yes," I replied with a mutual smile as Frasha's sister, Litia turned to face me with my daughter in her arms. "Her daddy would probably not be happy coming home and not seeing her."
I was amused by the slightly wistful look in their eyes.
"How is the Warden? ...And his brothers?" Litia asked innocently, raising a thin brow on her perfectly etched face.
I smiled at her with a knowing look. It was no hidden secret that Litia and Orophin were constantly on the verge of intimacy and romance. It was a shame that Orophin didn't stop acting as though he was shy around her. They would be a wonderful couple.
"Oh, those three are fine. I'm sure they will all be bickering amongst each other by the time they return," I said with a roll of my eyes.
"Ama, is Ada home?" Ana asked, her toddler drawl thick but her speech quite well.
"He will be soon," I replied as Litia shifted Moriana from her arms to my free one.
Ana clapped and squealed in glee from the news of her father. Ana was the very essence of Daddy's Little Girl daughters. She adored her father more than anything in the world.
"Have a good afternoon, ladies," I said with a smile as I turned out of the small shop and started home.
Later, while making dinner, some odd thought came to me as I turned the salad and the twins played in the common room. I ignored that they were making a mess while they were at it.
I led a rather strange life.
I glanced outside to the great Elvish city I lived in as spring made everything bright and warm.
How baffled I would have been if I'd known this would someday be my life only a few short years ago. I'd had my rounds with Caras Galadhon and some of the more unfriendly Elves in it, but who knew I would live in such a city so happily.
Looking into the common I watched for a moment, idly turning the salad still as Ana and Onduras drew on every piece of paper spread out on the floor. They'd be two years old in only a few months. How could it have been that long now?
I'd changed in Caras Galadhon. Not drastically, and most certainly not badly, but I had. And I'd done it all for a reason. My family.
"Look," Onduras said, showing his sister his drawing of, what looked to be, a horse. Or perhaps it was the striped cat that watched them from a nearby bookcase. He was a lazy thing. He had been ever since I'd convinced Haldir to let us adopt him nearly two months ago.
My eyes shifted out the window again for a moment before I spotted a familiar figure moving swiftly toward the stairs.
Dropping the pieces of lettuce I was turning, I wiped my hands on my apron without a thought and dashed to the door.
He must have run up the stairs. Haldir was already at the entrance when I opened the door. We both laughed as I jumped into his arms, no fear of the possibility that we could have easily tumbled backwards.
"Did you miss me?" he asked, slightly breathless from his sprint up the stairs and from the kiss I'd just branded him with.
"Yes, I did. We all did," I told him as the twins immediately started screaming for their father as soon as their acute hearing recognized his voice.
Haldir smiled, stealing a brief kiss again before the twins stampeded onto the entrance until we ushered them inside. They pulled on Haldir until he finally relented and sat with them in the doorway.
I smiled as they clung to him and erupted into their broken stories about what had happened in his absence. After a short time, Haldir looked up at me and motioned for me to join him. I did, sitting beside him and immediately having Onduras crawl into my lap.
"…and then we went to the river, and then we came home and ate supper, then we went to sleep," Onduras explained. "The next day you were gone..."
I laughed, ruffling my fingers through my son's dark, fine hair.
In a mixture of Elvish and Westron, our children continued to explain every aspect of their time without their father.
Ironic, I thought as I listened. Onduras and his sister mixed the two worlds with no effort at all.
If only my own lessons had been that simple, I thought with a secret smile.
- - -
Hope you guys enjoyed! The next story is actually a bit sad...I thought so anyway...It should be out by this upcoming Monday - Wait..I just realized that will be St. Valentine's Day! Aw..Now it's even more sad! Weeps
Hope to see you then!