Celebrían dressed in a flowing gown of silver, tied back her hair with ribbons of midnight blue and fastened the necklace of sapphires that Elrond had given her some years earlier. Their rooms smelled of roses, a scent he strongly associated with her. She looked at herself one last time in the mirror, sure of her appeal to him, then poured two cups of his favorite wine.
A knock at the door drew her attention, and she opened it to admit Glorfindel, who looked from her to the room to her again, with a raised brow. He grinned and leaned against the doorframe. "My lady, you are plotting to seduce your husband."
Celebrían blushed but refused to look away from Glorfindel's knowing smile. "Of course I am! Elrond needs to be seduced regularly to keep him from becoming too serious. Those were your instructions, after all."
"My instructions?" probed Glorfindel. "Tell me when, exactly, I gave such instructions?"
"You said part of my job was to keep him from becoming too serious. You did not specify how; I merely devised my own methods."
"He no doubt appreciates your methods more than mine," murmured Glorfindel as he leaned forward to peer through the open door into the bedchamber.
"Glorfindel! Did you find the information I asked you for?"
"I had to have Erestor find it," admitted Glorfindel. "Do not worry; even if he knew you had lecherous intentions for the Lord of Imladris, he would still help you and keep silent about it."
"Please give it to me." She held out her hand.
"How does this information play into your schemes?" he asked, holding the scrap of parchment just out of her reach.
"That is none of your concern!"
Glorfindel stood up straight, holding the paper above his head. "To the contrary, Madam, I am sworn to protect Elrond and you from any harm. Therefore it is my concern."
Celebrían blushed again and quickly tried to find some explanation that would satisfy Glorfindel, when she felt his hand on her cheek. "Ah, Celebrían, I push too far. Forgive me." He tucked the paper into her hand. "Is there any other way I may be of service?"
She sighed with relief. "No, Glorfindel. Just hope he agrees."
She closed the door behind Glorfindel before he could ask her 'to what,' then opened the paper and sighed again, this time in disappointment. She had hoped one of these occasions fit today's date, but they were months away. She was contemplating other events she might have overlooked when the door opened again and Elrond entered.
His gaze swept over her to the candlelight dinner awaiting them to the bedroom beyond, which glowed with soft light. He walked to her, wrapped his arms around her and kissed her deeply.
When he finally pulled back, she had forgotten what day and year it was, and she touched her lips to see if she could feel them tingling through her fingertips. Elrond looked at her with love and desire, and a fair amount of smugness, for he knew he had complete control over that effect on her.
"Elrond, I cannot think straight when you do that," she said, holding her hand up when he bent his head to do it again.
"Yes, I know." He pulled her hand down and covered her mouth with his own again. This time his hands were at work too, and Celebrían would swear he had some magic that created four hands, for they seemed to be everywhere. When he finally let her up for breath, she was panting.
"We should have dinner first. Cook will be disappointed if we do not eat this special meal."
"Would you like to tell me first why you are on edge and what you have been plotting?"
His thumbs were rubbing across her nipples, sending delicious shivers all the way down to her toes. "You are not playing fair," she moaned.
"And you were?" he asked huskily.
"Well, no, but that was different," she panted.
"My intention was not physical," she tried to explain, but he had moved to her eartips, which made her nearly faint. Fortunately, he was holding her up. "I mean, it was," she gasped, "but it was more than that."
"It was?" he whispered in the ear he was currently ministering to.
"Ye ess!" she cried as she tried to squirm away.
Elrond held her firm, his greater strength an advantage. She had just determined she would need to play unfairly when he caught the hand that was reaching into his robes and moved to secure both hands behind her back.
"How so?" he asked again.
Celebrían was caught between the proverbial rock and hard place; although in her case, the rock was Elrond and the hard place was her desires, and it was not an undesirable place to be. Yet she wanted this night to serve a particular purpose in addition to pleasure.
"All right! I will tell you but you must stop!" she cried out.
Elrond stilled his mouth and roaming hand, but did not release her. She struggled slightly, but gave up when she found that that just pressed her more tightly against him, increasing both of their desires.
"I am listening," he whispered in her ear, which he then licked.
"Oh," she gasped. She took a few deep breaths and looked into eyes that she knew could deny her nothing. But she did not want acquiescence; she wanted to know his desire in the matter. "Elrond, I meant to speak to you first. It is very difficult to have this conversation in our current state of arousal."
"I am in complete control of my faculties."
"And mine," she groaned. "Please release my arms?"
She smiled inside when he immediately did so. He really could not deny her anything, and the thought of hurting her was enough to make him chop off his own hand. She took his hand and led him to the chaise. She pushed him down, and then sat down beside him. Without thinking, she began to stroke his arm, and promptly found herself in his lap, both arms securely held in front of her.
"I did not mean to do that," she smiled.
"Of course not. Now, what did you wish to discuss?"
She fell silent. She had gone about this all wrong. She shouldn't have gone for a romantic setting. She hadn't meant to seduce him, despite Glorfindel's teasing about the atmosphere. She had wanted the atmosphere romantic, as he was her husband and lover. She felt him touch her and went completely still, and then took a deep breath and looked up at him.
His look stole her breath away. His hand was over her abdomen, over her womb, she corrected herself. He was touching her not in a sensual way, but as if he were waiting for her belly to swell and fill the cup of his hand.
"Shall I give it a go?" When she nodded he continued, "We have been married for a good number of years. You love me and our life here, and wish to know how I would feel about adding a child to our family. A child would be new life to Imladris and new hope for our people. Am I correct?"
She nodded again, and he released her hands to wipe away the tear that had somehow appeared on her cheek. "You didn't want to make love until you knew, for this day is in your head as the right day, though you do not know why. And your body has prepared itself. It is ripe for conception."
"I should have spoken to you sooner, but I was still thinking there was some reason it should be today, but I could not find why this day was important. I am afraid I cannot entirely control my body in this regard; it prepared itself anyway," she admitted, ashamed of her lack of control.
Elrond bent his head forward and kissed her tenderly. "Your body did exactly what it should, and that is not your fault," he soothed her, recognizing her frustration. "Nothing would make me happier than to be a father, and nothing would give me more pleasure than to conceive a child with you. Today is Gil-galad's begetting day, and I would be honored if we conceived a son today."
"A son," she breathed as another tear rolled down her cheek. "Yes, a son."
She relaxed in his arms, her thoughts and mind wide open to him, and he filled her with the full force of his fëa as he bent to kiss her again. Her breath was gone and her legs jelly when he lifted her and carried her to their bed. He had managed to divest her of her gown before lifting her, and she tried to make a note to ask how he did that, when he dropped his own robe and she realized he was naked beneath it. Knowing for a fact that he husband did not go about Imladris naked beneath his robes, she realized he had come prepared. She had just opened her mouth to tell him so, when he laughed and smothered her protests with his mouth.
Usually their lovemaking was an equal affair, with each of them concentrating on what brought the other pleasure, but on occasion Elrond completely dominated their liaisons. Not that she disliked such occurrences; on the contrary, they were some of the most memorable. This turned out to be one of those times. She was kissed senseless, her body stroked and fondled until she was just quivering flesh, and then brought to the top of the highest mountain and sent flying over the edge. The only difference this time was in the control they exhibited over their bodies. She had known that her desires for a child had caused her body to prepare for that eventuality. Had Elrond not also wished for a child to be conceived, his control of his body would have prevented it. Yet he did desire it, and as he climaxed she felt an undeniable difference in the way his body responded, and they stayed joined for some minutes after they crashed back to earth.
He held her for a long time afterwards, whispered word of love in her ears, while his hand stayed pressed firmly against her lower abdomen. Her hands covered his, and she was wholly focused on what was happening inside of her. They knew the instant their seed joined, and Celebrían thought her world had turned upside down with the joy of knowing that a new life was beginning inside her. Still, the new life needed to take up residence in her womb and that could take several days.
They did not eat that night, and the cook had the good sense not to be offended. By morning, Celebrían was hungry.
"Come to breakfast," encouraged Elrond. "Your actions or lack thereof make no difference on the next step."
"Will others know?" she asked.
"Not yet. And even if they suspect, none will speak until we wish them to know. But you do need to eat. Soon you will be eating for two, after all."
She covered her abdomen with her hand. "Our son," she said in wonder.
They entered the dining hall and took their seats. Celebrían hesitated to meet Glorfindel's eyes, even when he whispered, "He does not look too serious this morning."
She covered her mouth with her napkin to keep from laughing, and set about eating her breakfast. Glorfindel asked her to pass the fruit, and when she did so, their hands touched and eyes met for a moment. She watched as his eyes opened wide and his eyebrow nearly escaped from his forehead, and she burst out laughing.
"Are you well, Glorfindel?" she asked sweetly.
"Celebrían?" he asked, stunned.
This time she met his gaze solidly, thoroughly enjoying the warrior's discomfiture. He sputtered and coughed, which brought Elrond's attention.
"Glorfindel, are you ill? Have you choked?" Elrond reached behind Celebrían to pat the elf on the back.
Celebrían grinned when Glorfindel refused to meet Elrond's eyes. "I am well, Elrond. I think I will just get some fresh air."
"Celebrían, are you misbehaving?" Elrond whispered after Glorfindel had left the table.
"Yes, dear," she answered. "Would you like another tart?"
"No, dear, I prefer something sweeter," he answered. "Do you plan on tormenting Erestor next?"
"Perhaps," she answered. "I am still hungry. Will you pass me the biscuits?"
Elrond saw Celebrían walk past his study to their chambers two mornings later. He sensed awe and fear in her, and he left Erestor without a word. He found her lying on their bed, one hand over her belly and her knees drawn up and feet resting on the bed.
"What do you feel?" he asked as he covered her hand with his own. She pulled her hand free, so his covered her womb and she covered his hand.
"I cannot describe it," she answered. "It is not pain, but it is uncomfortable. Something is happening, or trying to happen."
Elrond concentrated on her womb, and in communion with Celebrían, he could sense what she was feeling as well as his own observations. Through her, he felt a snap and a sense of fullness in her belly, and knew that the tiny being inside her had attached to her womb. She took a deep breath and smiled at Elrond. "Our son has decided to move in," he teased.
He gently massaged her belly, and concentrated on the newly created fëa that had been gifted to their joined seed, but he could not connect with it and concern rose in him. He quickly shielded those thoughts from Celebrían, and tried again to connect with their baby's fëa, but failed again. He had cared for gravid females, many in the early stages of their pregnancy, but he had to admit none this close to conception. Perhaps the infant needed to grow a few days.
Even as he thought that thought, he knew it wasn't right. No matter what the size of the unborn child, its soul was intact. Immature perhaps, but present and able to be communed with. He was aware of human females who miscarried their unborn children, some due to trauma or illness of the mother, but some due to an error in the body of the infant. Could his human blood have caused their child to have such an error? Would Celebrían miscarry such a child?
He looked down at Celebrían and realized she had sensed his fear. He smiled at her in reassurance, and smoothed her hair back and stroked her cheek. "You are tired. Perhaps it is best if you rest today."
Her gaze was troubled but trusting as he pushed her into sleep.
Elrond sat by her side that day and night. He knew that Glorfindel and Erestor were concerned and hovering outside the door, but he did not wish to speak to them until he understood what was happening. The next morning he asked for breakfast to be sent to their room, and when the tray came, a note was delivered with it announcing that Celeborn and Galadriel were expected within the week.
He felt Celebrían's arms around his shoulders and tipped his head up so she might kiss him. "Please tell me what worries you."
"I have too much knowledge and not enough experience," he finally answered. When she raised her eyebrows in question, he sighed and continued. "I should be able to connect with the spirit of the babe in your womb, but I cannot. Yet my experience does not extend to newly conceived infants, so I cannot say that this is unusual, but I have never heard tell of there being a time when communion was not possible."
"Could there be a bodily defect, like the lamb born two springs ago with an extra limb?" she asked. Though she asked calmly, Elrond could feel her tension.
"I would not think the bodily defect would have an effect on the fëa itself," he answered softly.
"What could possibly lead to an injured fëa?" asked Celebrían, fear evident in her voice.
Elrond stood and pulled her against him, stroking her back and head and murmuring to her, soothing her. "We do not know anything is wrong. My experience in this is limited. I have, after all, not been a father before nor tended a gravid elf so early in pregnancy."
He sat on the chaise and pulled her into his lap. "I am creating fear in you where none should exist. I am sorry, Celebrían. We should be enjoying these days."
To his dismay, she burst into tears.
Another two days passed, and still they did not speak to anyone in Imladris of their news or concerns. Meals were delivered and they sat often on their terrace or walked in their rose gardens. Elrond saw Glorfindel sitting high on the rocks above the waterfall, keeping watch over them, and he grieved not to share this burden with his friend. That afternoon, Glorfindel appeared at their door, announcing that Celeborn and Galadriel had entered the valley.
"Elrond, may I speak to you?' asked Glorfindel.
Elrond finally nodded and led Glorfindel down a back passage to his study. He motioned for Glorfindel to sit, but remained standing himself. When he next looked he found Glorfindel still standing as well.
"I see it in her eyes," Glorfindel finally said.
Elrond slumped into his chair and buried his face in his hands. He had forgotten about Celebrían teasing Glorfindel that first morning.
"If Celebrían is with child, you both chose it to be so. What grieves you so that you wear sorrow like a cloak and hide from everyone?" Glorfindel asked.
"Hopefully nothing is amiss," answered Elrond. "I have distressed Celebrían with my inexperience. I cannot connect with the child's spirit."
Glorfindel sat down beside him and rested his hand on his shoulder. "When Celeborn and Galadriel arrive, I will send them to you. Perhaps Galadriel knows something."
Elrond merely nodded and returned to their rooms.
It was mid-afternoon when the door to their chambers opened and Galadriel and Celeborn entered. Galadriel's piercing gaze landed first on her daughter, and she walked forward and sat beside Celebrían. "New life grows within you. Why do you grieve?" She turned her gaze to Elrond for a moment, then rested her hand on Celebrían's belly.
Then she began to laugh.
Elrond and Celebrían looked at her in amazement and shock, but Galadriel merely motioned Celeborn to draw near. She directed his hand over his daughter's womb and covered it. "Do you recall the last time this came to pass?"
Celeborn began to laugh as well, then he sat down on Celebrían's other side and pulled her to him, kissing her forehead.
"But, Naneth," cried Celebrían. "Of what do you speak?"
"Elrond, your fears are for naught," said Galadriel, "yet there is no way you could have experienced this. The first time we became aware of such a situation was in Doriath when Nimloth and Dior conceived Eluréd and Elurín. Years later in Sirion, Elwing's nurse suspected that Elwing's experience was the same."
Truth dawned slowly, but finally Elrond said, "Twins?"
Celebrían's squeal of delight was surely heard across the valley, but Galadriel merely held her close and rocked her as she would a child. "I am glad you find joy in this, for they will double your delight but also your work, plus you will grow as big as a mumak," she teased.
"However, time will tell us for sure. Elwing and Eärendil could not control the timing of conception as the Eldar could, but the same confusion that Nimloth had experienced was present. Nimloth and Dior, like you, had planned the conception. There were those in Doriath who could commune with the fëa of the newly conceived who were gravely concerned, but Nimloth remained innocent of our fears. A few days after the concerns were noted, two fëar were discovered and the fears allayed. I am sorry I did not think to warn you of this, given that these twins included Elrond and his kin," finished Galadriel.
"Why did you come now, Naneth?" asked Celebrían suddenly. "We did not expect you until spring."
Galadriel smiled. "I knew we were needed, but storms hindered us. I had hoped we would arrive last week."
Elrond stood and walked to Celebrían where she sat enfolded in her parent's arms. He held out his hands to her and she walked into his arms. Elrond could not stop the tears that ran down his cheeks, wetting her hair, and she wept in his arms. After a few moments she looked up at him and he kissed her. "I love you," he whispered.
"Thank you, my love. You have given us twins!" she laughed with joy.
They had dinner in Elrond and Celebrían's sitting room that night. Elrond had told Glorfindel about Galadriel's suspicions, and Glorfindel's fear had also turned to joy. They had a pleasant meal, but Celebrían eventually curled up beside Elrond and fell asleep. He shifted her until he held her comfortably in his arms, one hand unconsciously coming to rest over her belly. He was listening to Celeborn speak of their visit with Círdan, of the changes in Lindon without Gil-galad, and how they had next gone to see Valandil in Annúminas when he felt a spark through his hand. He sat upright, concentrating. Galadriel and Celeborn were immediately at their side, kneeling before Celebrían and covering his hand with theirs. Elrond felt an abrupt splitting and separation, and the fëa that he could not connect with was suddenly distressed and upset. Elrond was amazed that something he knew to be so tiny as a speck on the far horizon could draw so much energy from Celebrían's body, and he strengthened her and their child, pouring his own spirit into them. Then suddenly he sensed two distinct fëar.
"And there are your twins," breathed Galadriel.
Celebrían sighed in her sleep and turned slightly, her hand reaching for something. Elrond took it and she squeezed and drew their clasped hands to her breast, then her breathing again became deep and even.
He rose with her in his arms and carried her into their bedchamber, nodding as Galadriel and Celeborn took their leave of him. She woke enough to cooperate when he undressed her and settled her in bed, then he joined her. She spooned against him, then immediately drifted deep into sleep. Elrond placed his hand over her belly again, and concentrated on their sons. They were distinct, and he sensed that one was a seeker; the other more content. It was little enough to know of a young fëa, but he rejoiced in this first knowledge of his sons.
They appeared at breakfast the next day, and Elrond saw relief in everyone's face, followed by joy in those who met Celebrían's eyes. She was radiant, glowing in pregnancy, and just seeing her caused elves to laugh with joy. None would speak of the pregnancy until they announced it, which Elrond decided they would do that night.
When they walked into the Great Hall after dinner, it seemed that everyone who lived in or was visiting Imladris was present. The room fell silent, then one of the musicians began to play a gentle melody. Elrond smiled, for it was only slightly different than a traditional lullaby. They walked to their places, and Glorfindel brought them each a cup, Celebrían's of watered wine. Elrond said, "Next spring we will welcome our sons to Imladris. We are glad to raise our children in this house with all of you, our family." He lifted his glass. "To Celebrían, the fairest rose in Imladris, and soon to be naneth to twins."
A murmur had rippled through the crowd when he said 'sons' and a cheer arose when he said 'twins'. Glasses were raised all over the hall, and they were suddenly crowded by well-wishing elves. Elrond made sure Celebrían was comfortably seated, for he saw fatigue in her eyes already. Then left her to the swarming she-elves, all wishing to give advice and congratulations, and, Elrond laughed to see, some already had made small booties and blankets. He wondered how fast the looms and needles had to have flown for that.
In another corner of the room, Elrond saw bets being placed and he made his way to the corner to see what the wager was. A few younger faces reddened while older eyes twinkled, but Celeborn laughed and said, "You are not allowed to participate."
Elrond's eyes narrowed. "Who has made this decree?"
Celeborn laughed. "I have. You would have an unfair advantage as the day draws near. We are betting the day of birth of your sons, and twins combined with some human blood makes their arrival unpredictable, which means the field is open."
Elrond looked around the group of elves. "Where is Erestor?"
"I would suspect he is doing research," replied Glorfindel from his perch on a stand meant to hold a statue.
A few elves perked up at this news. "Research into what?"
Glorfindel pointed at Elrond. "Two other sets of twins with part human blood have been born. A smart elf would see how long those pregnancies lasted before placing too much money in a bet."
A small group of elves quickly departed for the library, and Glorfindel jumped to the ground and moved to study the board. "Are you betting on when my sons will be born?" asked Elrond incredulously. He turned to Celeborn. "Your grandsons?"
They both laughed. "Of course."
Elrond snorted. "Then I can participate too. I have no more control over when they enter this world than either of you. And I happen to know how long those other pregnancies lasted." Celeborn lifted a brow at him, and Elrond shrugged. "I asked Galadriel. I need to know for Celebrían's sake."
Celeborn laughed. "Some young elves will learn much of Doriath and Sirion, but I guarantee they will not learn that information."
Elrond nodded in agreement. "If it was written somewhere, I would have known it."
"More importantly," said Glorfindel, "Elrond broke out the best wine for this night, and with all those young scholars off searching the library for non-existent information, there is more of it for us." He poured four glasses. "Drink?"
"Thank you," replied Erestor as he joined them, taking the cup from Glorfindel. "Here is the scroll Galadriel asked to see."
"Thank you," replied Celeborn, tucking the roll under his arm. He lifted a brow at Elrond's questioning look. "It is a pattern of the heraldic devices of the three elven kindreds and the three noble houses of men. She is designing a gift for her grandsons."
Elrond laughed, and all the tension of recent days fled from him. Celeborn took him by the arm and led him to a quiet corner where he could watch Celebrían, and they settled in to enjoy the night. The singing had just begun in earnest when Elrond noticed Celebrían dozing in her chair. He was at her side in a moment.
"Ready to sleep, my love?" he whispered in her ear.
"Hmmm," she answered, but let him pull her to her feet. He wrapped an arm around her and they turned to leave quietly, but as they did so, the tune was deftly changed. This time the minstrels played a true lullaby, and pure clear voices rose to sing along. Celebrían's hand slipped down to cover her belly, and she smiled at him. "They like this song."