Dear Readers, I hope you don't mind, but I liked my essay on true love so much, I thought I'd tack it on the end of Elros' and Andreth's story. Otherwise, it would be gone in a couple of months. My grammar essay, well, I didn't like it quite so much.
This essay is going to focus on my philosophy of love, chiefly romantic love. But some basic rules of love, like respect and honor and both parties truly striving to make a relationship successful, actually apply to all sorts of relationships.
Don't review it unless you really want to; it's not part of the story, strictly speaking, and I may decide to delete it later on.
I have read stories before, where the characters were physically attracted to each other, and the words "I love you," came out of both their mouths. The authors were using lots of fluffy words and glorious language to create the scene, and clearly wanted me to believe that these two folks loved each other, but try as I might, I couldn't force myself to believe that they did. Why? Because they didn't show by their actions that there was any respect, or regard, or real effort put forth to build the relationship. There was no honest friendship there. I wanted, very much, for my story about Elros and Andreth not to fall to that same fate.
I wanted it to be more like Love Comes Softly by Sache8, which is a wonderful example of a romance that is has its foundation on mutual regard and friendship. I adore it.
I need to say a great big Thank You to Glory Bee, who reviewed this story from the beginning, and helped me to keep my characters real and sincere. You've been a big help, mellon nin. You may not know how much I have valued your help, and your reviews. But I have.
How does a reader know when a character in a story is truly in love? Is it when the character notices the attractiveness of someone of the opposite sex, and gets all flitterpated? When it comes to romantic love, that's certainly a part of it. A big part of it. You can't have real romantic love without physical attraction going equally both ways. But attraction isn't the only part. If physical attraction is the only thing in a relationship, then the relationship is pretty shallow and petty, and is never going to go anywhere meaningful.
While the characters in my story, Elros and Andreth, are strongly attracted to each other physically, I have also tried very hard to show that they also value each other for many things in addition to their mutual attraction.
I think the biggest thing about love, any kind, really, is that one respects herself or himself first of all. You cannot love someone else unless you respect yourself first, and that is an unfixable part of the way the world works.
Also, in order to be capable of true and honest love, a person must first be honest and honorable. Not perfect, but making a sincere attempt to do good. I personally have a hard time believing stories where one of the characters, (usually the guy for some reason) is some sort of dishonorable individual, but after meeting the other character suddenly, and with very little visible effort, changes. In real life, people aren't really like that. If you can't change your life around for your own sake, you can't change it around for someone else's. In writing this story, I've worked hard to show that Elros and Andreth were already on the right track to being people who were capable and deserving of real love. For example, before they met, both Elros and Andreth were already good people. They sincerely cared about others around them, and they worked hard in their own little spheres to make life better for others. Elros was a more visible figure, fighting alongside his brother in the War of Wrath, but Andreth, while she wasn't a warrior, worked in her quiet little way to make life better for Firiel, and the friends she had, living around them. This created a situation that when Elros and Andreth met, not only did they notice the physical attractiveness of the other, but they also noticed the truly honorable heart the other had. And that planted the seed that would later grow into deep and sincere mutual regard. As Elros said to Firiel once, "But that is not the only reason why I love her, for her soul is good and kind, and makes her outward beauty shine all the more. Were she not thus, I could not love her, no matter how beautiful she was."
Another thing that I hope has shown the true love between these two, is that neither was interested in the other for selfish reasons. Andreth, for example, was not interested in pursuing Elros at all at first, even though she came to realize that she loved him, because she didn't want him to have to give up immortality for her. She would rather suffer the emotional pain of not having him so that he could, as she saw it, fulfill his own destiny. Of course, her ideas were incorrect, but she did have his best interests as she saw them, at heart, and she never let him doubt that she cared deeply for him as a friend. Once she knew he really did love her, though she was at that time unwilling to tell him her own true feelings, she was not about to let him suffer alone, and was willing and ready to be there as his friend, though she didn't think she could be anything else. For Elros' part, despite the fact that he knew he was falling in love with Andreth, he wasn't ridiculously needy when it came down to it. He did feel jealous of Hathel at the beginning of their rivalry, but he was not needy. He knew that if Andreth chose the mortal over him, that he would bow gracefully out, and wish them happiness.
Additionally, I wanted to convey that Elros and Andreth's lives were not completely tied up in each other. Constantly having to be around someone else isn't a sign of true love, but actually a sign of serious and unhealthy neediness. A good indicator of a healthy relationship, interestingly, is that the two sweeties do not need to be around each other twenty four hours a day. They enjoy their time together when they are, of course, but they have interests and projects that they enjoy on their own. Andreth found things she liked to do while she was in Cirdan's house. Music and weaving, for example. Which she did independently of Elros. And he had his lighthouse that he was working on. Also, I made a big effort to make sure that Elros in my story, didn't choose mortality for the sole purpose of being with Andreth. (Again, thank you Glory Bee for helping me with that.) In fact, I worked hard to show that he chose mortality because he knew in his heart it was the right thing to do. Not because it would get him Andreth, (although it was a nice motivator to help her realize she needed to articulate to him the true nature of her feelings for him.) Also, they missed each other when they were apart, but they were able to endure the time apart without becoming depressed and useless, because they were both well adjusted people. At least it was my intention to convey as much.
In writing this story, I have tried very hard to show a blossoming relationship that was tense with sexual attraction, and was also a very full and rich, and healthy relationship between two people who genuinely value each other. I have attempted to show Elros and Andreth not only as passionate lovers, but also as very, very good friends who will be there for each other through everything that comes at them, and will still be in love even when they are old and not so physically attractive as they are when they sail to Numenor.