Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters of J. R. R. Tolkien, nor any of the various dramatic incarnations thereof. No profit is being made from this work.
Hello, and welcome to this story!
Marriage is, to me, one of the most interesting of institutions. I have a great deal of respect for two people who promise to share the rest of their lives with each other, blending their different personalities and insights on life into a whole that, ideally, is stronger than either one of them. I admire people who can do that for their courage and their openness. I also think that weddings are ridiculously funny, and better entertainment than anything the Ringling Brothers ever dreamed up. Go figure.
Have fun with the story, and I'll see you at the end.
1. Of Troubles And Trials
"Ah, my Lord Elrond, there you are!"
Elrond looked up from the map of the lands between Imladris and the Bruinen, which he had been studying with Glorfindel. He smiled wryly as Erestor walked into the room, and nodded towards a chair. Erestor sat down.
"I apologize for my tardiness, my Lord, but I had not known that this meeting had been moved until I arrived in our normal place."
"And found it overrun, no doubt," Glorfindel said with a smirk. "How much of your house have you surrendered thus far, Lord Elrond?"
Elrond turned to glare at Glorfindel. "I have surrendered none of it. When this business is over, I will reclaim the territory which is mine by right."
It was Erestor's turn to grin now. "That," he remarked, "is what you think, my Lord."
Elrond raised an eyebrow. "Your tongue could be put to much better use, Erestor. Tell me what has become of my accustomed council porch, since you have seen it this day."
"It would appear that that porch has become headquarters for the day. The Lady Galadriel herself was there, supervising the gardeners as they planted flowering irises and hyacinths and hung great pots of other blue flowers."
"Blue flowers." Elrond dropped his head into his hands. "After this is over, I will be happy if I never lay eyes on anything blue for a hundred years. Imladris is a lovely house; I made sure of that when I built the place. I do not understand why it must be transformed into a sea of blue simply for my wedding."
Glorfindel and Erestor exchanged an amused glance. Glorfindel reached over and cheekily patted his Lord's arm. "I had thought that your years of service to Gil-galad would have taught you to see great events in their proper perspective," he said. "The occasion is not your wedding. It is the Lady Celebrían's wedding, and Lady Galadriel is determined that everything about that occasion should be perfect, down to the smallest detail. You are merely the bridegroom, one among many other details."
"I am well versed in the customs of marriage," Elrond retorted. "It is supposed to be an equal partnership."
"And it is," Erestor assured him. "However, that is marriage. This is the wedding. You would do well to learn the difference."
"Erestor," Elrond said, "you are meant to be my counselor. You are meant to be at my side, giving me advice on escaping such crises as may arise in life."
"And that is precisely what I am doing," Erestor said. "This is a wedding. You cannot escape it by force or by cunning. All you can do is surrender gracefully in the knowledge that the immediate storm will come and go, and then you may embark on your marriage with the Lady Celebrían."
"Erestor's words are wise," Glorfindel put in. "You would do well to heed them."
"I am married myself, after all," Erestor said. "I have not forgotten my own wedding. I have been in your position, and I think I know some of what you are experiencing."
"The commanding nature of your lady's mother combined with the color blue?" Elrond snorted.
"No. For my wedding, it was pink."
Elrond stared at Erestor for a moment, then collapsed back in his chair. His head fell back, his shoulders shook, and after a moment, Glorfindel and Erestor realized that their lord was laughing.
"Pink!" he gasped. "Oh, that is too rich. Oh, Erestor, how I wish I had seen that! Tell me that you did not have to wear it."
"My cloak. It was of lovely rich silk, exquisitely embroidered in gold about the hem. . . but, alas, it was indeed pink."
Elrond laughed helplessly. Glorfindel grinned. "That you would wear such a thing speaks to me of true love, my friend," he said. Erestor smiled wryly at the memory.
Elrond took a deep breath and brought himself under control. "Thank you for telling me that, Erestor," he said. "If nothing else, it will help me to put my own current woes in perspective. Let us now return to the business at hand, lest we spend the entire day in council." He brushed several stray papers from the map of the valley. "Just before you arrived, Glorfindel and I were discussing the benefits of expanding our pasturage to the west."
"This was the area you were considering?" Erestor asked, brushing his hand over a particular section of the map.
"Yes," Glorfindel said. "I was just telling Lord Elrond that —" A tap on the doorframe broke his concentration. The three Elves looked up to find one of the young smiths of Imladris standing in the entryway. Elrond sighed and motioned for him to enter.
"Come in, Mírdan," he said. "What is your errand? We are in the midst of a council, so this must be brief."
Mírdan bowed. "I apologize for interrupting, my Lord. I am charged by Lady Celebrían to show you these rings I have crafted. The Lady asks that you select one to be your marriage ring." He took a small flannel pouch from his belt, and shook its contents into one hand. Laying the pouch on the table, he placed three slender bands of gold upon it, each one subtly carved and shaped.
Elrond considered the three carefully. The first, made in the shape of two intertwining threads, seemed both fragile and likely to cut into the finger that wore it. The other two were engraved solid bands. One had a verse from one of Maglor's love songs. That connection to his childhood tempted Elrond, but the ring's similarity to the agent of Isildur's fall sent a shudder down his spine. Mírdan noted his reaction and smiled mirthlessly.
"I thought you might not care for that one," he said. "The Lady Galadriel liked it, and indeed it is a style from the earliest Age of the world. However, I believe that people may find poesy rings less than desirable after. . . recent events." He twisted his own marriage ring, a nervous habit that he had acquired after his son's death at Dagorlad and his wife's sailing for Valinor a few years later. Elrond reminded himself to sit down with Mírdan after the wedding and determine the extent of his recovery from his loss, then turned his attention to the third ring on the table.
Like the other, it was a solid golden band, but instead of poetry, it bore an engraved pattern of flowers and leaves. "This is lovely," Elrond said. "It is an appropriate design with which to begin a new family and a new Age." Mírdan nodded approvingly.
"Then I shall deliver it to Lady Celebrían for safekeeping until the ceremony and melt the others. You will be pleased to note that she requested a similar pattern for her own ring. I will deliver that to you when I have finished engraving it." He scooped the three rings into their pouch.
Elrond smiled at the smith. "Thank you, Mírdan. I am glad to know that my choice meets with the approval of my lady." Mírdan bowed and turned to leave, but Elrond caught his arm. "I meant what I said about the rings, Mírdan. They are truly beautiful, all three of them. You could do worse than to turn your talents to fashioning lovely things of gold."
Mírdan paused, an unreadable look on his face. "For you, my Lord, I will work in gold. For myself, I will work in steel. By your leave." He nodded politely and left the room. Elrond and the others watched him go. Erestor sighed.
"It is a shame. I remember when he was yet merry and light of heart."
"He was sorely wounded," Elrond said. "And the deepest wounds leave scars. I apologize for the interruption, my lords. Where were we?"
"In the midst of our land plans," Glorfindel answered. "And you were under the illusion that you were still the master of this house."
Elrond chuckled. "That illusion is already fading under the harsh glare of reality. But let us work while the last shreds still remain."
The rest of the day was long and trying for Elrond. By sunset, he had not completed the list of tasks he had set himself for that day, having been interrupted on a regular basis by someone involved with the wedding plans. As much as the interruptions irritated him, Elrond could not find it in his heart to resent them fully, for he appreciated the fact that his opinion on various matters seemed to have some value.
As the sun set over the Bruinen, Elrond gazed dully at the empty jars on his work table. He had made a list of fourteen tisane mixtures that he wished to prepare that day, and he had only managed to complete eight of them. But he found that he did not have it within him to finish the remaining six. Deciding that the dried herbs would not spoil if left unmixed for the night, he cleared his supplies away and resolved to start afresh the next morning, after carefully barring the door.
Briefly, Elrond considered the prospect of dinner. He was vaguely hungry, but was not in any mood to rouse himself to go to the dining hall. His household would simply have to dine without him that night. He doubted that they would mind. Instead, he went to his private suite and flopped down on a couch near the window in his sitting room.
Now that he had no tasks to occupy him, his mind insisted upon returning to a conversation he had had with Galadriel earlier in the afternoon. It had left him with an uncomfortable feeling in his stomach, one of crushing inadequacy combined with an edge of grief. He was fairly certain that Galadriel had meant no harm in what she had said, and it was, after all, something that needed to be discussed. He forced himself to consider the issue, and bit back a cry of grieved anger.
Someone knocked at the door, then entered without waiting for permission. Elrond looked up and was cheered to see Celebrían gliding across the room towards him. He sat up straighter on the couch to make room for her, and she sank down next to him, winding her arms around his neck and giving him a soft kiss. Almost immediately, his mood began to lighten.
"Mmm," he said, when Celebrían pulled away. "You may come in."
"Why, thank you." Celebrían snuggled closer into his embrace, wriggling to find the most comfortable position, a habit that Elrond found strangely endearing. "I had originally come to ask if you were planning to come to the dining hall, but this is much more entertaining."
"I am not hungry this evening," Elrond said. His stomach rumbled treacherously, and he hastily amended his statement. "That is, I am not hungry enough to endure the company of others."
"Am I intruding on your privacy?"
Elrond amended his statement again. "I am not hungry enough to endure the company of anyone except she who is almost my wife." Celebrían rewarded him with a small kiss on his jaw, then rearranged herself in his arms.
"I also came to apologize for my mother. She can be overbearing at times, and you have been marvelously accommodating these past few months, but I could see that her words caused you pain."
"She did not intend them to do so," Elrond said. "I am not angry with your mother. In truth, I am more upset with myself. It was a legitimate question, and one that I fear I have been avoiding for far too long."
"She could at least have spoken more diplomatically," Celebrían said. "She could have asked you if you had considered who would stand for your father in the wedding ceremony rather than simply asking that you send your choice to the tailor to be fitted for his robe."
Elrond shrugged. "I guess that her way is diplomacy of a sort. The answer to your version of the question is, no, I have not given the matter much thought. However, your mother's version reminds me that I cannot delay thinking about it much longer, and I had better come to a decision soon, no matter how painful it may be to think about."
"Is it that you cannot bear to have anyone stand in place of your father?" Celebrían asked. "If that is the case, we can alter the ceremony."
"It is not that." Elrond buried his face in Celebrían's hair and inhaled its fresh scent deeply before continuing. "I never really knew Eärendil, so it is not precisely grief that I feel for him. Rather, I am angry."
"Yes," Elrond said. "But not Eärendil alone. If the question of who would stand in place of my father were that simple, I would not be in the state I am in now. Celebrían, there have been so many people in my life who have loved me and cared for me. There was Eärendil, my birth father, and Maglor, who raised me. There was Gil-galad, who fostered me when I was a youth. And there was Elros. Any one of them could have stood by my side on my wedding day. But they are no longer here. Elros and Gil-galad are dead. Eärendil sails the sky far above, and only the Valar know what has become of Maglor."
Elrond paused and took a deep breath, willing his insides to stop churning. Celebrían stroked his face with her cool hands and kissed him. He wrapped his arms around her and clutched her tightly, crushing her against him.
"Oof," Celebrían said. Elrond laughed shakily and loosened his grip on her.
"I am sorry. This subject is a difficult one for me."
"That much is plain." Celebrían patted his arm. "But it seems to be one we must discuss sooner or later. You said you were angry at Eärendil. Are you angry at Maglor and Gil-galad and Elros as well?"
"Yes." The word came out as a choked whisper. "I loved them. And they left me alone. Each one of them. I loved them, and they went where I could not follow, and I remained behind to mourn their passing. Even Gil-galad left me in the end. I do not want to be left alone any more, Celebrían."
"Oh, Elrond." Celebrían took his hand in hers and kissed it. The tenderness of the gesture made Elrond's eyes fill with tears, and Celebrían brushed them away. "Do not weep for your loneliness. In a few more weeks, we will be married, and then you will never be alone again." She gave a shaky giggle. "My mother is formidable and commanding," she said, "but she has already taken you into her heart. She and my father will love you as their own son. You will be part of the family."
Elrond smiled through his tears. "I am glad to hear that. But before that happens, there must be the wedding, and someone must stand in my father's place for that."
"So we return once again to the source of our discussion." Celebrían pursed her lips in thought. "Is there no one here who could fill that place? A dear friend? One of your counselors, perhaps?"
"I am the Lord of this valley," Elrond said. "I am friendly with most of its inhabitants, but I do not know that there are many I would consider to be close friends."
"There is Glorfindel. And there is Erestor. You spend much of your time in their company."
Elrond shook his head. "They are colleagues, and they are both important and valuable to me. Glorfindel was a friend of my grandparents in Gondolin. But I cannot ask either one of them to do this. I . . . well, I do not feel that I know them well enough to ask such an honor of them."
"I suppose you could stand alone, then. It is not so unusual these days. Many people lost their fathers in the war."
"Do you really think that Lady Galadriel would allow me to stand alone in her perfect ceremony?" Elrond laughed. Celebrían blushed. Elrond shook his head. "It is possible that I could persuade her to do so, but the truth is that I do not want to. I know that I have complained loud and long about your mother's organizational skills, but I do appreciate her efforts to make this a proper wedding. I confess that I am somewhat of a romantic at heart, and I would like to have someone at my side to give me away to my beautiful bride."
"Somewhat of a romantic?" Celebrían giggled. "I think that you are far beyond merely 'somewhat.' I suppose that I could not lend you my father? He will be arriving soon with Thranduil, and I am sure he would not mind."
"It is a kind offer, but I cannot accept it," Elrond said. "He is your father, after all, and not mine."
"That is true," Celebrían sighed. "It was a thought."
"And a kind one. But, alas, impossible as well. I do not know what I will do." Elrond's stomach chose that moment to rumble, breaking the tension in the room. Celebrían smiled and rose from the couch.
"You will come with me to find some dinner," she said. "I will not have my bridegroom waste away before the wedding. For one thing, the clothing which my mother has so carefully selected would not fit him very well."
"Oh, the horror."
"You!" Celebrían swatted at Elrond's arm. "After we have eaten, I will go seek out my mother and tell her what we have just been discussing." She laid a finger on Elrond's lips to forestall any protest. "She is wise and clever, and she has already put so much work into this wedding. Let us put some of her enthusiasm to work on an issue that will truly mean something to you." She gave Elrond one last kiss and left the room.
"I knew there was a reason I loved you," Elrond said as he followed her out.
Elrond was engrossed in his tisanes the next day when a knock came at the door. He rolled his eyes and set down his measuring tools. With a groan at the interruption, he pulled away the bench he had used to bar the door and opened it.
"May I come in?" Galadriel herself stood in the doorway instead of the expected member of what Glorfindel had begun to call "the wedding tribe." Elrond's jaw worked silently for a few moments before he collected himself and found his voice.
"Of course," he said quickly. "Do sit down. There is a chair in that corner." He waved his hand vaguely. "Is there anything I may offer you?"
Galadriel favored him with a radiant smile as she seated herself. "No, thank you. I have come for two purposes. The first is to apologize. I fear that I may have become overly zealous as of late. Celebrían came to me last night and informed me that I had wounded you with my request of yesterday. I am sorry; I did not mean to reawaken painful memories."
"It is nothing," Elrond said. "As I told Celebrían, your words forced me to think about an issue that I had too long ignored."
"She told me about your problem." For an instant, Galadriel's eyes seemed to pierce Elrond to the core. "It would not disrupt the ceremony if you stood alone," Galadriel went on, "but since that would distress you, then you should have someone at your side. I agree with you that my husband is not an appropriate choice, and I understand why you are reluctant to choose among your friends here for the honor."
"That leaves me where I began," Elrond said. "My family, such as it is, is no more."
"Do not fear. This problem is not without a solution." Galadriel clasped her hands together in front of her, and Elrond caught a glimpse of the Ring of Adamant sparkling on her finger next to her wedding band. "The solution is hidden from us at this moment, but I assure you that it will be found ere your wedding day arrives. When Celeborn the Wise arrives in Imladris, I will take counsel with him. Together, we will find the solution that will ease your heart and bring you joy."
"Thank you, my Lady." Suddenly, the prospect of the wedding seemed like a glad thing, no longer merely a nightmare of details and blue flowers.