I have been a LotR and Silm fan for several years, but I have started to read HoME only recently. And so, it was only recently that I learned some details about Elves in 'Of the Laws and Customs among the Eldar'; for example, I didn't know any details about elvish pregnancies – what it meant for the Elves that they put 'greater share and strength of their being' into their children than mortals did, or how a couple 'sought not to be sundered during the bearing of a child', and needed each other during that time. (HoME 10. Morgoth's Ring.) And while reading and thinking about it, I got an idea – why couldn't I write a story on that topic, with my favourite character(s)? :) Boromir is a Man, Ellin is an Elf; how would that period of pregnancy be for a "mixed" couple? How would each of them feel? I tried to describe it in this one-shot addition to "Love against destiny".
I have to add that this story in not completely mine. I wrote it, translated into English, and sent it to my dear friend Istarnie, asking for beta reading and to correct my grammar errors. But she did much more than that: she supplemented and enriched this story, adding both "expert" sentences about nature of the elves and pregnancies, as well as stylistic descriptions that make one story richer. Istarnie will say that she just "tweaked it a little", but don't listen to her; I say that this story is a co-authorship. ;)
Big hug and thanks for your help, Istarnie!
Ellin looked through the window of her living room with a sense of growing concern. Outside, all was silent save for the barking of a lone hound; all was still save for the few, wind blown leaves that swirled along the street. Dark silhouettes of other houses in the village were outlined in the moonlight. It was almost midnight. But the pathway towards her house was still empty. Although she had walked to and from that window many times during the course of the evening and had looked outside with an increasing sense of yearning, the man she wanted so much to see had not arrived. She sighed with disappointment as she realised Boromir was unlikely to return until the following evening.
The elf walked back to the couch and sat down. That room at least offered her some comfort of thought in her present condition, with its sensations of home, both old and new. Opposite the couch was a fireplace built of dark-orange bricks. A fire was burning steadily in the hearth, throwing warmth and light about the room, and adding to the illumination offered by the lamp on the nearby table. Against the wall by the doorway was a very large bookshelf housing many books, some vases of sinuous, intricate design and other mementos and ornaments. Although not as studious as his younger brother, Boromir was far from unlearned, while Ellin delighted in studying whatever she could about the land of Gondor and its inhabitants. On the remaining wall, hung in pride of place, there was a magnificent, framed painting of Rivendell. It was a gift that Boromir had surprised her with the previous year, a gift for their first wedding anniversary. The picture had been specially commissioned from an elven artist whom Ellin had known during her life in that valley. It was a masterpiece, even for him; so realistic that one could almost smell the fragrance of the flowers, hear the birdsong and waterfalls, touch the grass; so full of colours both vivid and subtle that it seemed to Ellin her valley could be stepped into at any moment she chose if she could find the appropriate door. A look upon that painting often brought memories that made her smile, though sometimes those memories were poignant. There were still times when Ellin missed Rivendell, Bruinen and the lands to the north where she had been born and had dwelt for many years. It was natural that sometimes she felt home sick.
But Ithilien had become just as beautiful, just as dear to Ellin as her old homeland. From the moment she had first seen its forests, green hills, clear little rivers, she had fallen in love with fair, pollen-perfumed Ithilien. She had lived in that land since her wedding. In the wake of the War of the Ring, many people of Gondor had resettled the ancient fiefdom of Isildur, reclaiming those areas that had been Mordor-ravaged during the time of Sauron's greatest power. There was much work to undertake, and although many villages were being built, renewal was slow. No taint could be allowed to remain; no pollution of the Dark Lord allowed to take root. To that end Boromir often travelled the land – his land, for he was Prince of Northern Ithilien as Faramir was Prince of the South – both brothers giving their allegiance to King Elessar in Minas Tirith.
Ellin laid her hands on her slightly swollen belly. She smiled; Ithilien was her home. Wherever her husband dwelt was her home! It would be their child's home too. Her fëa moved instinctively to nurture the new life that grew within her. She was already five months pregnant. But that night, she was also a little restless. She missed Boromir so much.
The previous day her husband had departed for a settlement being built in the east, nearer to the shadow of Ephel Dúath than any construction so far. The location was considered to be insecure, as some of the orcs who had survived the war were known to roam that area in small, but aggressive bands. Livestock had been taken from villages and farms in the east, and some travellers had set out on journeys and not reached their destinations. So it had been decided to build a more fortified settlement that could house a unit of Ithilien rangers. Boromir had travelled east to oversee the progress being made.
He should be home! He should be with her and their unborn child giving his strength to her, Ellin thought briefly, her elven instinct intensifying her longing for unity with her husband.
She was regretting not accompanying Boromir on his journey. Not that he would have encouraged a pregnant wife to ride with him into a region he considered not quite safe, but Ellin considered that to do so would be more normal to her than to endure this separation. She had always missed him when they had been apart; but these two days felt so very wrong because, now that she was with child, things were different!
Ellin wondered if Boromir really understood that difference.
Elves put a great part of their strength of mind and body into the forming of a new life, and a couple would spend much time together during the bearing of a child. When Ellin lived in Rivendell, one of her friends had borne a daughter. Ellin had been very close with that particular friend, and had observed her change in manner and demeanour, how one who had usually been somewhat independent of nature had become delighted in the newfound closeness of fëar she shared with her husband. Such was the manner of child bearing amongst Ellin's people.
But Ellin was not married to an Elf.
Since realising she loved the mortal, since their betrothal and particularly since their wedding, Ellin had wondered how she would feel when she and Boromir had a child. There was no one she could ask advice from; those few who had wedded mortals in the past were long gone from Middle-Earth, except for Arwen, her cousin. But Arwen was in Minas Tirith, and she and Aragorn had no children as yet. Ellin knew that she could not experience the union of fëar with one whose spirit was essentially unlike her own, that she was unlikely to have the touch of thought experienced by an elven couple. But nevertheless she and Boromir were very close. Maybe there was no mind touch between them, but often, just the look in his eyes would tell her how he felt; his smile would convey to her more than a hundred words. And he had said that her eyes, her smile meant as much to him! But now that she was actually pregnant, Ellin felt the need for support that her husband should be providing. His spirit should be nurturing their child through his union with hers, giving his strength to the growing child. Ellin needed to be close to Boromir; and even though she couldn't unite with his spirit in the manner of her people, she could sense his love, and that was enough. Just one look, one smile renewed her and gave her the strength she craved. The power of love is always the same... no matter who we are, Elves or Men, she had often thought when lying happy and content in his arms.
But she and their child were not the only one who needed him, and she knew that. His people needed him too. There had been so much work to do, from the moment the settlers had arrived; so much work for Boromir to undertake and organise, and for Ellin also. The sound of the cheerful laughter of children and seeing their happiness in this new world was the greatest prize and blessing anyone could ask for. Boromir's devoted stewardship of his land and people had ensured many children now lived in the safety that made laughter commonplace. He was always there; ready to help his people, to answer their calls, to give advice, to ride out immediately, even to the farthest village if necessary. Though his devotion to his role as prince meant he was not as settled as she would sometimes like, Ellin loved him all the more, admiring his boundless energy and commitment.
She knew how important his work was, not just to him, but also to all who had survived the War. Ellin didn't want to add even the smallest burden to her husband unless essential, so she had not told him how she felt. Instead, since she became pregnant, she sought to follow him, not stopping to give her help in restoring north Ithilien, to ensure she was close to him as much as possible – without actually speaking of her needs.
But that night she was alone; and she needed him.
Ellin was resigned to spending the rest of the night alone. It was useless to wait up any longer. If her husband could have returned he would have done so, and sleep would be far better than being awake with her longing unfulfilled. At least she could dream of him. Just as she rose from the couch to make her way to the bedroom she heard the sound of a single horse on the cobblestones of the courtyard, then a brief exchange of words and then – blessedly familiar footsteps on the pathway. Ellin rushed towards the door, reaching it in the same moment Boromir opened it and entered the hall. He looked tired from long and hard riding, but his warm smile at seeing her made her heart beat more quickly. Without waiting for him to remove his heavy travelling cloak or sword belt, she threw her arms around his neck. He grinned with pleasure and pulled her close. As he kissed her she forgot all her worries about his absence; he had returned to her, and only he was important. Every kiss was as sweet as the first they had shared. His touch, the way he looked at her made her shiver with delight. And she thanked the fate, as always, that she had met this wonderful man, who made her life more beautiful than she had ever thought possible.
"How are you, little one?" he asked when he finally let her from his embrace.
"Excellent! I am absolutely fine, my love", she answered, and that was true. Now that he had arrived, now that he was close to her again, she felt perfect.
"And our baby?" he enquired in a low voice, gently laying his fingertips upon her belly.
Ellin felt the warmth of his hand through her dress; the warmth of his love that enfolded her whole body.
"Our baby is absolutely fine, too! And we have been thinking about you, you know?" She smiled up at him, then stepped back a pace to regard her husband with sudden concern. "But you are tired from your travelling! I have not even asked if you are hungry or thirsty in my joy at having you back. I have some roasted meat from supper, that I saved for you and..."
"Don't worry yourself, little one; I am not hungry for anything except your company", he interrupted her, stopping her fast flowing words with another kiss. Then he took up her hand in his and led her into living room. "I wanted to leave the settlement as soon as possible, but after we had finished today's work – and we made more progress than planned – everyone was in such high spirits that they wanted supper to become something of a celebration. The cooks laid out a grand spread from what stores they had, and they brought out some of the good ale they had been saving. They didn't want me to go without enjoying their hospitality again. 'We have all worked ourselves hard; we all deserve to make a little merry', they said to me. I had to stay – at least for a short time. I couldn't in all honour refuse such a heartfelt invite."
Holding hands like newfound lovers, they entered the room and moved towards the couch where Ellin has sat alone earlier that evening. Boromir disengaged himself from his wife for just long enough to remove his travel cloak and sword belt, and place both upon the long narrow table against the wall. Then he made to sit with her, wrapping her in his strong embrace until she settled her head on his shoulder and sighed with contentment.
"Tell me more about how your visit went, my love. You say you were very successful?" Ellin asked.
"Aye; those men build fast and true. With over two hundred working they will have the settlement raised and completed before the next full moon", he answered. "They – we – finished the structure of the fortified hall yesterday and started to raise the outer wall. Already folk can dwell securely for a short time, with the well we dug and provisions laid up for a fortnight or more. They have made a good start, though there is still the wall to complete, sentry posts, a proper forge – and dwellings for their families." With the utterance of that last word, Boromir fell thoughtfully silent. He caressed Ellin's hair for a few moments, before continuing. "After these recent years we would all see our families live in safety!" Then he grinned apologetically. "I am so sorry, Ellin, but I couldn't return to you earlier; and tomorrow I must go back to my people – though I can make a more leisurely start to the day than I did to this one. I want to arrange for a wagonload of extra provisions to accompany me, to replace some of the food I ate."
His grey eyes crinkled at the edges in the endearing manner of men, as he made an attempt at humour to soften the news he knew his beloved didn't want to hear.
Ellin had been listening with a sense of warm delight at her husband's descriptions and his pleasure in the determination of his people to make safe their land; but his last words caused her to start from her mood. "You are to go there again? So soon?" she asked, looking at him somewhat forlornly.
"Aye, little one", Boromir confirmed with a frown at the distress he was obviously causing her. "They will need me for at least a few more days. Though the three stonemasons from Minas Tirith do a good job, few of the others have any idea of what building a fortified settlement entails. They work with a will, and could rebuild a village easily enough, but they do not understand how these orcs think. They need guidance on how to make themselves strong."
"And none of your Captains could give such guidance?" Ellin disliked the tone of desperation in her voice as she spoke those words. She did not want to add to Boromir's concerns in any manner, and here she was almost pleading for him to stay with her.
He laughed dryly, and sat back against the couch. "They could. You are right, of course. But it is my place as Prince of this land to do all I can to give heart to my folk. I will not ask others to do what I will not. You understand that, my love?"
"I understand, of course. I know they need help, and what better help for any in Ithilien than you!" Ellin nodded, hiding her disappointment behind a soft smile. She reached up to stroke Boromir's cheek, to look longingly into his eyes as if she would explore his soul. Then her mood altered again and she was the supportive wife.
"Tell me more about the settlement. What is it like?"
"It is a very beautiful place", he answered. "The village is situated in a small valley, near a fast flowing stream. The stream comes down from a cold lake to the north in a range of shimmering waterfalls. To the east the Ephel Dúath is visible. The surrounding land is forest, thick and rich, and filled these days with a wide variety of animals. There are deer and boar for the hunting, if needed, and until the enclosures for the domestic animals are ready. To the south the land is more open, the soil is good, and those who in days of peace were farmers say it is excellent for cultivation."
"It sounds a beautiful place", she said. "How many people are there now?"
"About two hundred doing the work and a unit of Rangers scouting the nearby lands", continued Boromir. "Some few older folk are there who can make themselves useful setting up trades, and a couple of dozen children who help and hinder. Most of them lived in Ithilien before the War, before they were exiled, but there are also several families that are new to the region."
There was a knock on the door, a brief pause and then one of Boromir's stewards entered, begging pardon of the Prince and his Lady, but wanting to know if they would require anything before they retired to bed.
"I have all I need for now. Get yourself some rest", answered Boromir and nodded. "But first thing in the morning you can see about getting a wagon equipped with food and ale and some herbal supplies, and a driver who knows the land about the new settlement for me. I will leave in the morning."
The burgundy garbed steward nodded. "As you wish, Lord Boromir." Then he retraced his steps, closing the door behind him.
"Now where were we?" Boromir began. He looked closely at Ellin. "It matters not where we were – how are you?"
Though Ellin wanted desperately to talk with her husband about how she really was, she continued to play the role she thought best.
"I am fine; I am in good health", she said with a smile. "I went for a walk this afternoon; it was such a beautiful day. I walked past the bakery and the glassmakers shop, and down by 'The Packhorse' inn to the gardens beyond. Then I visited Morwen and Beregond on the way back, and played with their children for a while. They teased me that I was practicing for our own child and said they would leave their children with me to baby-sit for awhile – so they could have some peace!"
Boromir threw back his head and laughed. "Well, well, listen to that", he said, joking. "If Beregond thinks to give my wife some of his duties, then I will think to give him some of mine!"
"I think I would like to see you do that", Ellin nodded cheerfully, in a joking manner of her own. "But there is no other news; nothing from Minas Tirith, or from your brother. After the visit I came home, had supper, and that's it. There is nothing new in the village either, except I heard that Isilwen, the glass maker's wife, is expecting a child!"
"And how is our baby?" Boromir asked, drawing Ellin close again, nuzzling her cheek and lowering his head so their lips could brush in a gentle kiss.
"It is still too early for me to feel it moving, but it is very well and happy", she answered with a smile. "I can feel that."
Boromir smiled happily. For a while, he held Ellin in his arms without speaking, and she snuggled up to him. Surrounded by love, she felt overwhelmingly happy. Everything was almost perfect.
"Are you tired?" Boromir whispered seriously. "You should not have waited up for me, you should have gone to sleep. Both of you need your rest, you know!"
"I am not tired, my love, and I am not that sleepy", she shook her head to reinforce her denial. "I did not exert myself physically today, there was nothing to cause me to be tired. But there is something on my mind!" It seemed of a sudden to be the moment she had waited for. She was not really tired in body; but her short separation from her husband was exhausting her spirit. Ellin sat upright, folded her hands neatly in her lap and looked directly at Boromir. "I want to go with you tomorrow. From your description the settlement sounds a place that would lift my heart. I would love to see where you have been working, and its surroundings. I would love to meet the people there. And though I am with child, I am not useless. Perhaps I can be helpful too?"
Ellin was far more nervous than she sounded. It was so very important to her to go with Boromir, and she didn't want him to dismiss her suggestion out of care of his own.
"Are you sure about this?" Boromir asked pointedly. His forehead wrinkled slightly, revealing his concern. "Despite the Rangers thereabouts, it is still dangerous. Won't travelling on those rough roads be too exerting? Are you sure you can ride that distance? I needed more than two hours for the journey and I rode swiftly. You would need to travel more sedately, and you shouldn't..."
"I wasn't thinking of riding!" Ellin laughed kindly at her husband's outburst. "I could travel in the wagon you want to take with you tomorrow. It will be comfortable enough. I will be safe, and I will feel able to help again. You must not worry."
Now she had brought the subject into the open, Ellin voice was almost careless of tone. Her heart beat fast with the anticipation of the next day's travel – of being with her husband for more than the few hours the night had to offer.
Boromir was still not totally convinced of the wisdom of her words. "It is not an easy trail to follow. Once there, there will be no healers of the skill we have here, except for you! I just don't want anything bad to happen to you..."
"Do not worry", Ellin repeated soothingly. "I have travelled in far worse situations than this. And I am not unwell." Then she laid her head on his shoulder again, closing her eyes.
The journey might be a little tiring, but it would be less exhausting than remaining in their house – alone. She would be close to Boromir on a journey that, with a loaded wagon, would take at least twice as long as a horse alone. She would have Boromir's company all of the following day, she thought happily. After tomorrow they might not have much time to talk. He would be working; he would be busy with encouraging and counselling the villagers. And she would likely be busy too. But it wasn't important; it would be enough to feel him close by, to look up and see him working, and smile. It was all that mattered. That, and that she and the baby would be stronger for his closeness.
"Yes", she muttered, deep in her thoughts, not listening to him carefully. She was hoping that they wouldn't have to separate any more in the following months. And if Boromir did have to go somewhere else, she was determined to go with him.
"Ellin?" His voice grew more insistent and he looked at her attentively. She blinked to focus her thoughts and concentrated on him. "Ellin, what is it?"
"Nothing. Why do you ask, Boromir?" she replied with a hint of insecurity in her tone. What was wrong?
"First I asked if you would rather make preparations and pack things for the journey now or in the morning, and you just murmured 'yes', which doesn't make much sense as an answer to my question. Then I asked twice what you had meant by it, and you didn't even hear me. Ellin, is something still troubling you?" Boromir's grey eyes sought to know her heart.
"It is nothing important, I was just a little thoughtful", she replied, although her words didn't sound convincing, even to herself. "I was picturing tomorrow and all that I will do once I reach the settlement", she added, trying to soften the slightly abrupt impression she was giving.
Boromir sighed deeply, and then clasped her face gently between his palms, tilting her chin upwards so she could not avoid his gaze.
"Little one, everything about you is important to me. I know you, and I feel when something's troubling you. Tell me, what is wrong?" His voice was low and caring, his eyes full of love. She could not refuse his request.
"I do not wish to add to the many burdens you carry...", she said, not knowing how to start to explain something so complicated – something so uniquely Elvish. But even before she could continue, Boromir interrupted her.
"My love, I have broad enough shoulders, and your needs are never a burden to me." He kissed her on her forehead. Ellin smiled shyly. She should have known that he would want to support her any way he could, but she was going to ask him to understand something that very few of his kind needed to understand.
"I don't like sounding selfish, but...", she finally began, deciding there was nothing for it but to give as full an explanation as she could. She didn't want Boromir torn by the knowledge of how much she needed him, but neither did she want him left in ignorance of something he deserved to know.
The elf lowered her eyes, resolving to give her best effort. "Occasionally, because of our different duties, we have been separated for a few days... and while everything was ordinary, it was no great matter, really. I missed you, of course, but I don't believe we have to be together every moment. Elves often pursue their own interests, and may spend short times apart from their beloved; it is similar with Men, I suppose? But now that I'm pregnant..." She raised her eyes to see her serious manner reflected in her husband's eyes. "My point is that pregnancy is somewhat different for elves than for men... I don't know if you can totally understand, it not being the way with mortals, but the elves put much more of themselves into the conceiving and forming of a child, and we need more strength – strength that we give to each other. I don't know how to put the feeling into easy words, but it seems to me not only that I carry this child, but also that a part of my very essence, my fëa and hröa is put into nurturing it each day. An elvish couple would both give nurture in spirit; they would both give up a part of themselves for their child... and they stay together as much as possible, so their closeness of the beloved makes them stronger. It makes the mother in particular, stronger."
She halted, unsure if she had said enough – unsure if she had said too much! Boromir's expression was unchanged. He observed her solemnly, but still with concern.
"When you are apart from me, even for a few days, I am somehow restless, and feel incomplete", Ellin persevered, frowning a little as she still searched for the right words to say. "And since you are a man and not an elf, I cannot touch your spirit the way I could touch that of one of my own people. But nevertheless, when you are close, I can feel you; and it is enough for our child and me that I sense the depth of your love. We may not be united in fëa, but I feel the warmth of your soul. That gives me more strength than I thought would be possible. That is why I tried to follow you whenever you had to travel in the last five months, to be close to you, wherever you were."
When she had finished speaking Ellin felt relief and nervousness simultaneously. Boromir did not respond at once. He sat silently, watching her for few more moments, and then pulled her close and held her tight, as if he would never let the slightest distance come between them.
"Why didn't you tell me, Ellin? Why didn't you tell me right at the beginning?" he whispered in her ear. "I knew I was marrying an Elf, though I didn't know all that would entail. I would do anything for you. You must have known that?"
"I didn't want to burden you with my needs. I know very well how many concerns you have in rebuilding Ithilien to it's former grandeur, I know how busy you are making this land safe for your people", she said earnestly, and with a hint of sorrow. "I see when you are lost in thought, when you are worried, when you strive to solve a problem that would overwhelm a lesser man. I know it all is important... and that is why I always tried to make things easier for you, not add to your concerns."
"Ellin, surely you know that no one, that nothing is as important to me as you and our child?" he exclaimed, his serious demeanour taking on the fiery warmth of his love.
"I know!" Ellin now felt guilty that she had not confided in her husband earlier. She would not underestimate his love for her again. "And no one and nothing is more important to me than you... but I love you too much to trouble you unnecessarily. And I had hoped to try and solve the problem in some other way... and I mean, well..." She stopped speaking, a little confused still about what she was trying to say. An Elf, not knowing how to express herself? That thought made her feel even more confused.
"My love, I don't need to hear any more explanations", he said firmly, in a tone similar to that of an order. But he looked tenderly at her, his grey eyes filled with realisation that she had struggled through this alone, because she loved him so. "I didn't know how you felt and what my absence meant for you... but now I do know. Even though I cannot share in this child's nurture the way an Elven husband could, I want to share as much with you as I can. I will be with you."
Ellin found she was losing herself in the depths of his eyes; then their lips touched in a promise of unity. He still held her close, laying his right hand upon her belly. He understood! Mortal though he was, he understood! Boromir's love was support enough – no Elf could have given her more. Lying in his arms, she forget the rest of the world.