Standard disclaimer applies; not my characters or settings or backgrounds, those are JMS and other copyright-owning folks'. But they are my words.
"There are none so blind, as those who will not see."
Delenn paced nervously back and forth in the living area of her quarters. She had been through so many emotional highs and lows the last few days that it had left her uncertain of her future path. She had been interpreting prophecies and trying to follow where they led most of her adult life, but the latest sequence of events had thrown her plans into turmoil.
One thing she was certain of was her love for the man she had agreed to marry. That decision was the right one, regardless of any other considerations. Her mind shied away from contemplating those 'other considerations'. She was still trying to find her way to an acceptance of John's limited lifespan, and dealing with the corresponding corrosive guilt she felt. So she reeled from the deepest happiness she had every known to equally deep despair. She stared at the ring John had given her, knowing it was a visible symbol that the other humans would recognize. It was only right that Lennier be told by her, and not receive the news second hand.
As she awaited the arrival of her aide, she was still debating how to tell him of her engagement, and nervously anticipating his possible reactions to her news. She had been aware for some time that his feelings for her were stronger than was proper, and she knew the news might not be totally welcome to him, although it could not be completely unexpected. She knew he would accept her decision, but she hoped he would come to understand that more than prophecy lay behind it.
The door chime sounded unnaturally loudly to her distracted mind, and without letting herself hesitate, she answered, "Open."
Lennier had no presentiment of what he was about to hear, or of how it would affect the course of his life. He entered her quarters as he always did, ready and happy to be of service to the woman he revered. He was aware she had flaws, of course, but they were so outweighed by her many positive qualities and accomplishments that he had decided to ignore them. He was simply content to be part of what she was trying to achieve, and to that end, he had pledged himself to her service. He knew that his feelings had deepened and strengthened after all they had been through, but he was confident that he had them under control. True, there had been some difficult moments. When she had been kidnapped, he had been under enough pressure to reveal his feelings to Marcus. Then, during the period Sheridan had been missing; it had been hard for him not to let her know she did not have to be alone. Still, that was over. Sheridan had returned. He would never be able to forget the look she had given him in the Zocalo; buried misery overlaid by desperate determination, relieved by a dawning hope. He'd never seen anything like it, and he'd realized at that moment that he did not truly understand what was going on between his mentor and the Captain.
When he entered the room, she was standing in the kitchen area, by the tall table, on which she had laid out the informal tea service, used for family and intimate friends. His heart jumped at the sight. She had never used that for him before. Something had changed. He looked closely at her, and aside from an atypical nervousness, and the fact that she was keeping one hand hidden within the other, he could see no difference.
Delenn tried hard to relax; she knew that Lennier could see her apprehension. Gesturing for him to sit in the tall chair across from her, she began the formality of pouring the tea.
His eyes were drawn to her hand immediately. She wore little jewelry, and none on her hands, so the sparkle of the diamond caught his eye. He looked at her questioningly.
She saw that he had noticed her ring, but continued pouring out. Raising her glass to offer the first sip to Valen, as was customary, they both drank, while she gathered her courage.
"Lennier, I have called you here to tell you something. Something that you deserve to hear first, and from me. You have been more than a support to me in our mission here; you have become a dear friend as well. I count on you more than I can say."
Now he was becoming apprehensive. This sounded like something she was not sure he would want to hear. He hoped she was not going to try and send him away, out of danger. I will not go, he thought fiercely, not even if she orders it.
She smiled nervously and began again, "You have noticed the ring that I am wearing. John…the Captain, gave it to me. It is a symbol among his people, representing an agreement between two people to marry." She added, "That is their word for joining."
Lennier sat in silence for a moment. He had been expecting this turn of events, but the actuality took his breath away for a moment. He recovered quickly, and offered his congratulations. He took refuge in returning to his tea, trying to keep his mind from dwelling on thoughts of them together. Finally, he asked, "When will this take place? Have you made any plans, and can I be of any assistance?"
She sighed heavily, "Not for a while. Possibly not for a long while. There is so much to do first, before we can think of going ahead." Resignation colored her voice. So many things could happen, to either of them.
The sadness and resignation confused him. He had thought the normal reaction to such a decision would be happiness or satisfaction, but he sensed there was something else going on. Perhaps the necessary delay was bothering her. "Yes," he ventured, "I suppose it makes sense to wait upon the outcome of the war. Are you planning to follow our customs or those of his people?"
"Ours," she answered without hesitation. "I have already begun. It is important that our union be recognized as legitimate by both our peoples. His people's rituals are not as involved as ours. We will worry about combining the joining ceremonies when the time comes." If it ever does, she thought to herself, her heart contracting in fear.
He considered this; she was outlining a political choice, a following of prophecy, rather than a following of her heart. Still uncertain, he questioned her again, even though it was not his usual way. "Will he inform the others?"
"Some of the humans will recognize the symbolism of the ring. I am sure he will speak with the command staff personally." She added firmly, "It is no one else's concern."
Lennier felt she had closed the conversation, and said simply, "Then I will wish you a long and happy life together."
Delenn strove to remain impassive, but her face reflected the sudden stab of pain his words caused. "I accept your good wishes with all my heart," she managed to say, though she was fighting back tears.
Her reaction concerned him. He did not wish her to be unhappy. In fact, he was surprised how intensely he did not want her to go down this path, even if was her destiny, if it would lead to her being unhappy. Knowing her as he did, he understood it would useless to protest or challenge her decision; but he wanted to let her know he understood the sacrifice she was making. Boldly, he reached out and gently touched her hand, which was loosely curled around her cup.
Feeling his touch, she looked down at his fingers, and was vividly taken back to the first time she had touched John's hand. It was in the garden, and he had been terribly unhappy over Lyta's accusations of a spy in their midst. She had comforted him then, as Lennier was trying to comfort her now, even though he could not know the true reason for her despair. "Thank you, my friend," she said softly, grateful for the unspoken sympathy his touch indicated. She was sure he understood the depth of her love for John, and sympathized with the circumstances in which they found themselves, those he knew of, and those he did not.
Lennier removed his hand carefully, and hoped he had managed to convey the depths of his sympathy for her predicament, bound by prophecy to an alien that she cared for, but was uncertain she could live with happily. It was a brave and responsible choice, and he honored her for it. He himself would remain by her side, friend and servant, with no hope or expectation of anything more.