King's Commission, The
50. A Wedding, a Wedding
A Wedding, a Wedding
Ruvemir had the carter leave him at the entrance to the quiet street where Elise's family lived, and sent Pando and Ririon back to the King's Head with the admonition to report immediately to Miriel and help her in the packing. Mistress Idril met him, and the lawyer who'd written up the marriage contract was already in attendance, Elise looking rather pale as she examined the document both would sign on the morrow as the last stage of their handfasting. Together they reviewed the contract's clauses and discussed who would sign as their witnesses. It did not take long, as neither could think of any amendments they wished included; and soon he was kissing her good evening and heading back to the inn.
Ruvemir was met at the door to the inn by Ririon, who announced they'd come home to find Miriel and Folco had gone up the Sixth Circle, strange Men were in the room, and that Pando was spying on them through the window. Ruvemir was alarmed, walked carefully down the passage to the door to his room, and listened through the door. He could definitely hear the voices through the wood.
"Well, he ought to be back by now. After all, he told his father he'd be leaving the site by mid-afternoon at the latest."
A dour voice that seemed familiar grunted, "I told you we ought to have gone up there and faced him down there where he's working. Wouldn't be any chance of him getting around us if we caught up with him while he was busy shaping his figures."
"And what if he were to try taking his mallet to us, then?" asked a third voice.
The first voice laughed, "Well, at least the worst we'd suffer would be a broken kneecap."
Ruvemir began to be angry, and wished he'd carried his heaviest mallet with him. He'd show them broken kneecaps--and then the dour voice commented, "Wait, there's someone looking at us through the window!"
Fearful for Pando's safety, Ruvemir pushed the door open, taking all by surprise--and himself as well.
Bergemon smiled at him. "Well, I must say this is not the way I thought you'd come in, Ruvemir. Do you always enter by bursting through the doorway like this?"
A rare smile lit Damrod's face. "So, I hear the work goes well, and your patron is the King himself. Does he stand over you expecting you to produce fully finished figures with each stroke of the mallet?"
Ferion raised his mug in salute. "A fine commission from the highest of patrons, and a marriage as well, Bergemon's uncle tells us. Talk about fortune raining down on one individual. How do you do it?"
Ruvemir looked at his guests with shock. "You heard? You came?"
Damrod looked at the low chair in which he sat. "I'd get up and greet you properly, but this chair is so blasted low...."
Ruvemir drew out one of the others and fell into it, laughing and wiping his face with his kerchief. "I never dreamed-- Oh, I am so glad to see you all! And Bergemon, I'm going to need your aid particularly in one of my coming commissions. I'm helpless in trying to portray horses." He looked up and caught Pando's eye and signaled him to come in.
"What is this pallet here, Ruvemir?" asked Ferion. "You taking in boarders to share the room and relieve the costs?"
"It's my son's pallet," the mannikin said, smiling. "You'll meet him in a moment."
"His son's pallet? What is this? Do you mean this is not your first love, little Man? You've been withholding information on your dissolute youth from us?"
"How did you know what room was mine?"
"Master Faragil vouched for us, and the innkeeper allowed us to enter in. Don't know where he's got off to, though. Said he had an appointment with a lady and we could entertain ourselves. Did say your father had gone down to the Carver's Guild Hall, though, and that your sister and brother-in-law were up in the upper reaches of the city."
"Seeing their children, then."
"Seeing their children? Here I just find out you have a sister, and that she is married and has children as well? Is she much older than you?"
"Actually, she's three years the younger, and she's only been married since January. She and her husband Folco are to foster children who were left orphaned."
The others sobered a bit at this, and their faces showed a level of respect. "I see," said Damrod. "Sounds like she's quite a responsible lady, then."
Ruvemir nodded. "Very much so."
Bergemon was looking at the room. "I never thought to see a room in an inn designed specifically for you, Ruvemir. How much extra do you have to pay?"
Just then the doorway opened, and Pando peered into the room, Ririon and Benril behind him. "Come in, you three, and let yourselves be introduced. Ririon son of Damsen, my ward and part-time apprentice, although he will be studying with my father for a time. Where is your practice piece, then?"
"In Master Beneldil's quarters. In case they were brigands, we put the practice pieces there for safe keeping."
"Brigands?" laughed Ferion. "He thought we were brigands?"
"Well, they had no idea who you three are, after all. Benril here is the son of Master Beneldil, the innkeeper. And Pando Proudfoot is another apprentice, although I'm to take him south to Mistress Andúrien, for his greatest gift is with sculpting clay and wax."
"Oh, so you will do clay and wax, and perhaps casting some day. It is an honor to meet you, Pando." Bergemon smiled at the lad. "But I must say you are the youngest apprentice I've seen."
"He's older than you were when you were apprenticed to Calimir, Bergemon."
"But I was sixteen...."
"And I'm seventeen," the young Hobbit explained. "Just because I'm not as tall as you doesn't mean I'm a little one."
"Halflings are rather short, after all, and mature more slowly then children of Men, Bergemon," explained Ruvemir, enjoying the discomfiture he saw growing in his colleague's face.
Bergemon looked at Ruvemir with his mouth hanging open. "A Pherian is your apprentice?"
"Yes, a Pherian has been my apprentice, although his indenture is to be given over to Mistress Andúrien soon. And another Pherian," he added, recognizing voices coming down the passage, "is my sister's husband." He turned to the open door, and called out, "Miriel, Folco, will you come in?"
Much of the rest of the evening was a blur to him afterwards. Once they'd overcome their confusion, Bergemon, Ferion, and Damrod accepted Miriel and Folco fully. Soon they were in the Dwarves' parlor, where they found themselves shortly joined by three Dwarves indeed as Gimli, Dorlin, and Orin had come to the inn to seek to distract Ruvemir in his last night as a bachelor. The story of the trip to the Shire was told, and all three of Ruvemir's fellow sculptors were properly impressed.
"When did you realize your patron was the King himself?"
"Not till I awoke in the Houses of Healing as I recovered from the lung fever. Not that he didn't give me plenty of clues. He rather enjoys remaining unknown at times, and letting people learn who he is by stages. Tomorrow my Elise's grandmother is going to realize she actually met him quite some years ago, and I'm quite enjoying the anticipation of how the realization will hit her." Not to mention, he thought to himself, what your reactions will be.
Eventually they were joined by Mardil and Master Faragil with Mistress Idril, at which time the company sobered a bit while they ate their dinner, at least; but as the evening lengthened Ruvemir found himself pressured to have one more ale, and then another. He found himself able to pour his own ale into Gimli's mug, who smiled to receive the overflow, and he saw another glance of approval from his Elise's grandmother before his former master indicated he would be walking her home. When Legolas and Tharen joined the party the evening turned somewhat musical as everyone seemed to know at least one love ballad that had to be sung that night. Mardil and Miriel shepherded the youths back to their rooms, and at last Ruvemir was able to slip away, aided by Legolas, and return to his room and fall into his bed.
He awoke an hour after dawn, and found that Ririon and Pando were already awake, had enjoyed a second breakfast of sorts, and that Pando was eyeing Ruvemir's toast, fruit, and sliced sausage. "No," Ruvemir said archly, "I claim those for myself this morning, Pando my lad. Pour me some juice, please, Ririon."
This Ririon did very neatly, Miriel having shown him months ago how Taurielen had done this, her index finger gently laid within the lip to sense when the liquid neared the rim. He set down the pitcher and brought the tumbler to his guardian, then settled on Pando's bed. "Miriel has looked in twice. She is worried you will have a sore head."
"No, for I drank very little, really. Master Gimli received the majority of what I was served."
"I wonder what we will wear, Pando and I?"
"Miriel has something in store, you can count on that. I'm just grateful you haven't grown much more since we returned from Eriador."
"But I will still grow more, won't I?" Ririon appeared disturbed to think he might not continue to grow, for he was still bound he would be somewhere near as tall as the King.
The mannikin laughed as he set down his tumbler. "You've already passed me up, and are as tall as our father as well. But as most youths continue growing until they are around eighteen or so, I suspect you will still do some more." He noted the relieved smile on the boy's face.
"I'm the one not likely to grow much," Pando said. "I wouldn't mind except I get tired of being thought of as a little one."
"I suspect even Dorieth gets that reaction," Ruvemir commented. "Certainly Miriel and I have received it."
He washed face and hands and ate his breakfast, then taking clean underthings and the one pair of dark trousers Miriel had left him went in to bathe. He came out an hour later to find Miriel awaiting him impatiently.
"It's about time, and I'm glad you, at least, had the sense to allow the Dwarves to drink the greater share of the ale last night. Although I suspect your friends kept you from getting the collywobbles."
"Well, I didn't feel them last night, but fear I feel them now. Oh, Miriel, I don't know if I can do this."
She laughed as she smoothed out the shirt she'd made for him, a glorious thing made of the blue cloth they'd been gifted in the Shire, embroidered with three stars on each side of the placket and a seventh at the bottom of the gore. Over it went a surcoat of dark blue-grey, with crossed mallet and chisel on the front, surrounded by a circle of eight-pointed stars. The cuffs of his sleeves were also embroidered with stars, as was the hem of the surcoat. Once he put on Faramir's mantle, he knew, he would look quite regal for all his size. He looked at her and kissed her gently in thanks, then with her help dressed. She then combed out his hair, smoothed his beard and mustache, and gave him a smile with the hint of tears in her eyes. "You look so fine, Brother mine. So fine. I hope that Elise realizes what a great one she is getting as a husband."
"I hope we will be as happy as you and Folco seem to be, Miriel. Thank you so much for going with me, for staying by me this winter. I hope we will never grow apart."
She blinked back her tears, then turned to the boys and fussed at them. They had white shirts to wear with trousers of the blue cloth, Pando with a vest of the same embroidered with smaller stars than those that decorated Ruvemir's costume and Ririon with the surcoat which had been gifted once to the Lord Frodo. Ruvemir looked at the window. "It is still over an hour ere noon. I hope these two don't destroy their clothes before the ceremony."
Ririon looked affronted, and Pando laughed. "We'll be as sedate as sedate can be," the young Hobbit promised.
Mardi Cook sent the tea and cakes early, and all sat down to eat, carefully making sure to not spill. Ruvemir, however, found he could hardly swallow now. When the door opened to admit Bergemon, Ferion, and Damrod he looked up in relief. Damrod was definitely impressed. "Who is it who looks like the Prince of the Pheriannath today?" he asked.
"Not I," Ruvemir said. "Captain Pippin has no beard, has curly hair, and can stand to attention in an instant--all you have to do is to mention the King. Nor could I wear his uniform, for my legs are too short."
"You probably could," Folco said from the doorway, where he was attired similarly to the two youths. "After all, they cut the legs of his trousers more to Hobbit standards, so they don't reach the top of his boots--if he wore such, of course--as yours do. But your arms are definitely too short. You know, I can't begin to imagine you in mail, either." He entered and closed the door.
"Well, I must say, you make an impressive bridegroom. Is this Captain Pippin married?" asked Bergemon.
"He's to marry at Midsummer. His Diamond is a very beautiful Hobbitess, and they will make a very likely couple."
"You'll have to show us your drawings of them, I suppose."
"But of course," Ruvemir said. He went to the chest, still open and in the room, where his sketch booklets lay. He found his sketch of Merry and Pippin before the fireplace in Brandy Hall and showed it to them. "This is Captain Peregrin, known as Pippin to his people, and this is Sir Meriadoc. This was done in Sir Merry's home of Brandy Hall, where he was born and where the Lord Frodo lived as a lad, after his parents' deaths. This is the fireplace in the library." As they examined the picture, he explained, "I asked them to pose in their uniforms. Their helmets they set on a low table, and Ririon was describing the symbols on them for the children of the Hall. Then Lord Samwise came in to find something to read, realized I was doing the sketch, but decided to stay anyway. It was one of the most enlightening experiences I had with the Pheriannath, I must say."
Damrod turned the page, and stopped to examine the picture of Sam at length. He looked over finally to examine Ruvemir's eyes. "Is this the Lord Samwise, then?"
Ruvemir nodded solemnly. "Yes," he finally said. "He is a most unusual individual."
Damrod looked back at the picture. "Yes, I can tell. Native dignity. I would think it would be quite interesting getting to know him."
Ririon said softly, "He told us of the ride to the Grey Havens with his Master and the Elves. He loved Lord Frodo very, very deeply. To let him pass over the Sea was a great grief to him, although it was a relief, also, to know he could find healing there that he could not know here. Lord Sam told the story, and it was almost like poems."
Folco sighed. "I wish I could have heard it. I read the story in the Red Book, of course, but it sounds as if he told more there."
"In the Red Book he didn't tell how deeply ill the Lord Frodo was. You get the hint, but not the fullness of it. Frodo hated letting others know how weak he was becoming, and Sam tried to honor that when he wrote that part of the Red Book. Sam said that Lord Elrond was giving Frodo strengthening draughts, and he was most often in a trance throughout the journey." He took back the booklet, found one of the pictures he'd done of Frodo's face, turned as if he heard someone calling his name, and showed it. "The Lord Frodo Baggins."
Damrod straightened. "He would be one to capture attention no matter what race he was."
Ferion examined the picture critically. "Reminds me of the Elves we met last night."
Folco smiled sadly. "He had an Elvish air--Uncle Bilbo often said so; and so did Gandalf. The hair was that of a Hobbit, the height was that of a Hobbit, definitely the feet were those of a Hobbit; but the face with its beauty and sensitivity was Elvish. After he came back from Gondor he even spoke like an Elf, very slow and deliberate and thoughtful."
Ririon added, "Master Butterbur in Bree said he could more easily imagine him in the Undying Lands with the High Elves than to imagine our Lord King as King. He'd only seen the Lord Frodo twice, but had seen the King as Strider many times."
Damrod looked at Ruvemir. "Strider?"
Ruvemir smiled. "You will learn our Lord King has borne many names over the long years of his life. The Lord Frodo told his kinsmen he'd lost count at about twenty, and when I awoke in the Houses of Healing to find him sitting by me he said, rather dryly, he had a few too many. I suppose part of it has to do with being one of the Dúnedain of almost unmingled blood. Most of us won't reach his current age, yet he and his kinsmen will most likely outlive our children."
"How old is he?"
The mannikin's smile widened. "Let you ask him after the wedding--if he will answer." He looked at the sketch, and the smile faded. "Neither looks as old as they are--the King as he is Dúnedain, and the Lord Frodo due to the effects of the Ring. He was fifty-three when he left, and was older then than Folco is now. Hobbits age and mature more slowly than we Men, but carrying the Ring for almost eighteen years kept him looking like one new come to adulthood as he was when he received it."
Bergemon finally spoke. "I'd not thought to meet one of the Pheriannath, much less two, and both kin to him. I am honored." His usually laughing face was solemn as he looked into Folco's.
"It has taken meeting Men for us to realize just what Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin did, how it saved us, too," the Hobbit returned. "We knew what they did on their return, dealing with the fallen wizard; but had no idea it was so much worse out here, that you had been defying worse evil for millennia."
"Fallen wizard?" asked Damrod.
"Curunír," explained Ruvemir in one word. "He thought to rule the Hobbits after Isengard fell." He stretched. "If you'll agree to go north with me to work on my other commissions I'll tell you on the way, for it is a full long story. Even reading it in the Red Book took long days."
There was a knock at the door. "Enter," Ruvemir called.
The door opened and a figure in a surcoat of green so dark as to appear almost black embroidered with the White Tree as it grew surmounted with the Seven Stars, the Sun on one sleeve and the Moon on the other, bordered with blossoms of niphredil, entered, followed by a woman in a dress of a dark wine color embroidered with small golden flowers, a spray of white roses and a string of seven silver stars on the bodice. The Man carried a small bundle wrapped in a green blanket embroidered with seven stars on the loose corner. Ruvemir pulled himself erect, then bowed deeply. "My Lord King, my Lady Queen! Welcome! And how is the Lady Melian today?"
The others rose hastily, straightened with surprise and awe. "Not exactly a lady today, our Melian," answered the King, smiling. "Still but an infant of but a week. She is sleeping now, but will likely waken and fuss as the wedding progresses. Such is the nature of infants, I fear. I pray it won't bother anyone." He looked at the other three sculptors, smiled, and bowed graciously. "Gentlemen, I am honored to see sculptors of your capabilities in the capital. I bid you welcome to Minas Anor. And I hope, Master Bergemon, you will agree to assist Master Ruvemir when he goes north to fulfill the Elves' commission. Did you go to the Pelargir, by the way? I would be most interested in seeing how you did my seeming."
Bergemon was speechless as he looked into the face of the King of Gondor and Arnor and found he almost recognized it. Damrod suddenly swore an oath, which he quickly tried to stifle, turning a bright red. "The Lord Captain...."
The King turned amused eyes to those of the tall, sober sculptor. "Yes, but that was long ago, in my youth as my own account it."
Ferion simply sat back heavily on Ririon's bed, and Joy whined in confusion. Ririon laughed. "Then they are recognizing you, my Lord?"
"Master Damrod and the third, at least. I'm sorry, I have never heard your name, Master."
"Ferion of Belfalas, Master Sculptor, my Lord King," he managed through a dry throat.
"Master Ferion. I welcome you. Master Ruvemir, if you would accept the child for a moment," and he slipped a white cloth onto Ruvemir's shoulder and handed him the blanketed infant. He then knelt by the cot and gently felt the pulse at Ferion's neck. "I am sorry--I seem to have this effect on many. The heart is not racing too much. Pando, bring Master Ferion a cup of water. Now, if you will lean forward for a moment with your head between your knees, the giddiness will pass."
Bergemon began to laugh suddenly, and himself sat down suddenly on the tall chair. "Oh, who would have thought it? Me--us--meeting the King so! And the Lord Captain as well?" He laughed helplessly, and the King looked up, his bearded lips smiling to share the jest. "My Lord King, pray forgive us for not bowing. I fear we are somewhat overwhelmed," he finally managed. "We watched Ruvemir carve your seeming day after day into the sculpture of the Lord Captain Thorongil, and we often debated what had become of him--and now, now we know!"
The King smiled but looked at him critically, then suggested, "I think that Master Bergemon also needs a drink, Pando." The young Hobbit laughed as he complied. The three sculptors finally looked up into the eyes of the Queen and saw she was suppressing laughter, which at last came out, full laughter with a beautiful sound like a waterfall falling in sheer pleasure from rock to rock. The discomfiture of the three sculptors fell away as they joined in her amusement and sheer joy and delight.
At last the Queen's laughter was reined in, and she spoke gently to them. "I rejoice to welcome you also to the capital, good Masters. And I see Estel is enjoying himself at the expense of those who did not know of his past sojourn in Gondor."
"Estel, my lady?" asked Ferion.
"I've had as many names and titles given me over the past nine decades as there are days in a month, I think," the King answered as he straightened. "How many more I'll garner before the end I have no idea."
"But why did you not claim the throne then, my Lord?" asked Damrod.
"I was not ready, and Gondor was not ready. My Lord Denethor saw me as a rival and would not have allowed my claims to stand without much worthless argument, and my own people in the north needed my presence due to increased assaults there, and the deaths of many of those who'd led our forces there as a result. My Lord Uncle who was then Steward in my absence, as he'd been during my minority, was struck down. The need for me then was in Arnor, so back to Arnor I went."
He smiled. "We must soon go out, Arwen and I, but wished to greet you first." He looked at the two youths, then paused. "Ririon, will you come here, please?"
The young Man came forward, his staff in one hand, the other on Joy's back, his head held proudly, to stand before the King. The Man reached out, touched the fabric of the surcoat the boy wore, embroidered subtly with darker blue and hints of silver threads with a single eight-pointed star. Aragorn's smile was sad, gentle. "So," he said softly, "Sam gifted this to you?"
"Yes, my Lord King. He said that Lord Frodo would be happy to see it worn by one who honored both him and the one who gave it to him. He told me that Lord Frodo took very little with him, sir, that almost all he owned he left behind."
"I can imagine." He bowed his head in thought, then looked back into the youth's face, laid his hand on his head. "He would indeed be proud to see it worn by such as you, Ririon, for you share so much of his own love of beauty. And I rejoice Sam saw this, also."
Ruvemir had moved over to the wardrobe, which he now opened with his free hand, drew out the mantle. "He gifted this to me, my Lord, that you not be surprised."
The King's smile broadened. "Bless the dear Hobbit," he said. "I'll be certain to tell Faramir so he won't be too shocked. However, I am certain he, too, will approve."
"Oh, is our Lord Prince Steward attending?"
The King laughed out loud and he finally dropped his hand from Ririon's head. "Did I not tell you that you would be surprised to see how many wished to attend this affair? You have already gathered much admiration within the city, Master Sculptor. We brought more food to add to what Mardi Cook was preparing, for I think even she has underestimated the attendance this would gather." Suddenly he looked to Ririon, who was blinking and rubbing at his eyes. "Ririon, what is it?"
"There is something in my eye, my Lord."
The King produced a white kerchief from a pocket in his trousers and knelt down. "Which eye?"
"The right one--no, both."
"All right, open one and try to hold it open, and look in the opposite direction of where the matter is. I will try to remove it."
The boy opened his right eye and looked to the right. The King lifted the lid and looked, then smiled and dabbed his handkerchief carefully, looked at it with satisfaction. "Anything more?"
"Not that eye, but the other."
The King shifted the area of the kerchief for use, and carefully lifted the lid on the left eye, looked close, and finally found the material and dabbed it away. The boy's eyes were watering slightly, but did not appear unduly red. He unfolded the kerchief and looked at what he'd pulled out, and the boy blinked some more, and finally wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. He looked up into the King's face to smile, but paused, his face paling a bit.
"Is it not better?" asked the King, his attention distracted from his examination of the material on the cloth.
"Oh, yes, my Lord. It is just--it is just I can see more clearly, sir."
The Lord Aragorn looked concerned, examined the kerchief again, and suddenly smiled. "Oh, I think I understand. Some of the scar tissue has sloughed away, it appears."
"But you said such would not be likely to happen."
Arwen laughed, and came forward to put her own lovely hand on his shoulder. "He is of the line of Kings, Ririon, and now and then the healing gift will manifest in an odd manner."
"It is not all clear, just clearer than it was. Not as much as before you did the cutting on my eyes, but some better."
"Be grateful for every little bit of improvement, young one. The One apparently wishes you to see a bit better this day."
"And I do, my Lord." The boy's face was shining with pleasure.
A knock sounded as the door opened again, and Mardil appeared in its opening. "Is the King here? Ah, Lord, I see you are. The gathering is almost complete. I brought the wreath for my son to wear, and the cord for the binding. And Master Faragil has the rings they have decided to exchange as tokens."
"And the bride?"
"My daughter and her family and Mistress Ariel of the inn have her in the Master's quarters, seeing her dressed and properly prepared, my Lord."
The King smiled as he turned to the groom's father. "Good then, Master Mardil. I will take the cord and will walk out with you. Master Ruvemir, if you think you could spare our daughter, Arwen will take her now. We leave you to your last moments of anxiety, then." He looked once more down at the youth and the smile gentled. "I rejoice for you, Ririon. And as of this day you will have three mothers, the one who gave you life, the Mistress Miriel, and now Mistress Elise as well, who is a gentle and practical soul who understands and honors artistry and honor." He leaned down and kissed the youth's forehead and walked toward the door pausing to lay his hand also on Pando's head and smile down on him before he left the room.
Mardil carefully placed the wreath of greenery he bore on his son's brow, then leaned down to kiss his forehead gently before he followed the King out. "You will do well, Son," he said before he disappeared down the passage.
Ruvemir took a deep breath and drew the mantle about himself, fastened it carefully with the silver star brooch that had come with it. Not of the Stars of the Northern Kingdom, but that of Gondor, he again noted. He walked to the corner where his cane stood and took it up. "I think I am ready now," he said, realizing he was trembling slightly. "Will you stand by me with Folco as my witnesses?"
"We thought you would never ask it of us," Ferion laughed.
"Gladly," said Damrod, another rare smile lighting his features.
"Full gladly," said Bergemon. "I must, as your own commissions have added to mine, it appears!"
And laughing still they shepherded the small bridegroom out of his room and to the garden before the Inn of the King's Head.
He was standing before a large company, still trembling slightly. He wore Miriel's beautifully embroidered surcoat and shirt and the Lord Faramir's mantle that had been gifted once to Frodo Baggins. He wore on his head the green wreath of a bridegroom. He held in his hand the cane that had been the King's gift. And he waited for the coming of his bride. Behind him as he faced the inn stood the King of Gondor and Arnor, come to handfast him to the one he loved. Nearby stood the small table with the marriage document and the rings they'd chosen to exchange as marriage tokens and the wedding candle in honor of the Creator. He was circled by his sister's husband, his father and former master, his ward and Pando Proudfoot--and Joy, and three of his fellows with whom he'd worked at Casistir and elsewhere. He stood before a mixed company of Men, Elves, and Dwarves (he could see the broad smiles on the faces of Gimli, Dorlin, and Orin); before folk of Gondor, Arnor, Rohan, Rhun, and Harad; before soldiers, Lords, Masters of crafts, the folk of both inns, statesmen, healers, at least three shopkeepers (Master Iorhael stood beaming nearby), apprentices and cleaning boys as well as royalty of the highest sort. And he was awaiting the coming of the one----
And then she was coming, surrounded herself by her mother, sister, grandmother, her own mistress, Miriel, Evren, even Coralien and Mardi Cook herself; crowned with a wreath of flowers in all colors, her gown a soft cream embroidered with more flowers, her hair free about her shoulders and woven with gems, the amethyst necklace about her slender neck, her hands holding a sheaf of more flowers and greenery, coming to be joined with him! The Queen herself began the wedding song, joined by her brothers and the Lady Lothiriel, and all stood still to listen save the party of women coming forward to join the party of menfolk. His circle opened as hers did the same and she came to stand at his left side. She handed the flowers she carried to her sister, and turned to take his hand, to look down into his eyes with joy and wonder as he led her before the King.
The Lord King Aragorn Elessar Envinyatar Telcontar of Gondor and Arnor smiled down on them, the slight woman and the short man, and when the singing was done began: "Behold, today two come before you to be handfasted together, to wed one another and to bind themselves to cleave only to each other from this day forward. Is there any who dares speak against this marriage?"
When after the requisite wait none broke the silence, he smiled and looked down again at bride and groom. "Since none speak out, I rejoice to see you wed. Ruvemir son of Mardil and Elainen of Lebennin, Master Sculptor, you have chosen to take Elise daughter of Lisbet and Curion of this city to wife. Do you do this full willing, with joy and delight in her and your choosing?"
"I do." His trembling had stopped as he had taken her hand, and his voice was full and glad as he spoke his words.
"Elise daughter of Lisbet and Curion, maiden of this city, one who has rejoiced always to provide a comfortable setting for others to find rest, who has delighted in beauty, you have chosen to take Ruvemir son of Mardil and Elainen of Lebennin to husband. Do you do this full willing, with joy and delight in him and your choosing?"
"Fully so I do." Her head was lifted in joy and pride.
"So be it then. Let all bear witness these two take one another full willing, in delight, before Men, Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, and all other children of Iluvatar. Let all see them this day handfasted together."
He took the cord of woven gold, silver, red, blue, green, yellow, purple, white, and black from where it was draped over his own wrist. "I hereby bind you together," he said as he laid their wrists together, each grasping the others arm, "in token of your vows before this company." Quickly he bound the cord about the wrists, then turned them so the whole company could see. "See them bound now, one to the other, bound in body and spirit, to rejoice with one another, to grieve with one another, to even argue and make up with one another--" and he whispered low, "--and making up has its pleasures, believe me!" before speaking again to the company "--from this day forth until death alone breaks this bond. Do all see and agree?"
The company spoke as one, in a glad and loud voice, "Yea!"
He turned them back to himself. "So it is done." He unbound their wrists. "Let you exchange your marriage tokens now." He reached to the table and lifted up the rings, breathed upon them, then held them out. Each took one of the rings. Elise took his hand and slipped it onto the finger he'd agreed would be least in the way when carving, the third finger of his left hand, and said, "Ruvemir, this day I take you as my husband, and may Arda fail before my love does."
He slipped his own gift onto her finger. "Elise, today I take you as my wife, and even Arda's own failure will not diminish my own love for you."
Dorieth handed the flowers back to her sister. The King smiled with full satisfaction. "May the Valar and Eru Himself shine upon your joining with bliss and content, and strength to face what must be faced as life unfolds before you. Behold the new husband and the new wife, Ruvemir and Elise of Gondor and Arnor!" All broke into a storm of applause, and suddenly the two of them were kissing, the first kiss of their marriage--but certainly not their last.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.