Not In This World
1. Valar Intervention
He wandered into the small grotto, making certain no one followed him. Most especially not his wife. Former wife. Since coming to this place, where the bonds of marriage are as breakable as glass, she'd seen fit to become the minx only he knew about before. He lost count of how many affairs she had. Some lasting longer than others, but nothing ever permanent. And she was having fun, she said. He snorted inelegantly, and then quickly made sure no one heard him. As far as he knew, this place was hardly used by anyone, and would offer privacy. Or so he'd been told. He wasn't sure just how much he could trust the word of a Noldor, no matter what changes had occurred.
Bending down at the edge of the pool, he dipped his fingers into the water. Well, at least this part was true. Warm water, close to hot, swirled around in little whirls on the surface. It was perfect for relaxing, and that's just what he intended to do. Aside from other things. Once, during a heated argument, she called him straight-laced and even prudish. Well, it might be true now, but he could remember when he could make her scream his name in wild passion. He snorted again. From all the stories he'd heard about her, making her scream didn't take much anymore.
He put down his bag, shrugged off his robes, and then slid into the water. A sigh escaped his lips as the heat penetrated his tense muscles and immediately began to relax him. Such bliss to be had from such simplicity; it was marvelous indeed. He soaked until he felt somewhat better, then he reached for his bag. Pulling out a small cake of soap, he began to wash himself. The slipperiness of the soap on his skin felt good, and his eyes closed as he sighed again. It wasn't too hard to imagine she was with him, her hands sliding over his body, with the added bonus of exciting him until he had to have her. And in his mind, that's just what happened. It was too easy to forget that it was merely a daydream and that he was pleasuring himself.
"Honestly, Manwe! How long must Celeborn suffer like this?"
"I do not see that he is suffering. In fact, he rather looks to be enjoying himself."
"Maybe so, but that is beside the point. He needs someone to make him feel wanted again. Someone who will make him put his past behind."
"Have you anyone in mind?"
Gentle fingertips touched the surface of the water within a shallow, silver bowl. An image of a woman appeared, walking down a busy street and often stopping to peer into shop windows. There was peace about her, evidenced by the ever-present smile on her face. Este gestured for Manwe to have a look at the woman himself.
"She will be perfect for him," she said softly. "With her, he will feel wanted and loved again."
"Let me bring them together, and you will see for yourself."
"I highly doubt that."
"Care to make a wager on that?" Another voice asked and both turned to see Varda entering the room. "I wager that she will make him feel wanted, as Este says, and I wager that he will give her what she has always wanted."
"And what is that?"
"Let Este bring them together, and you will find out."
Manwe lifted an eyebrow at the two women, both of whom were smirking back at him. He was currently outnumbered, and he couldn't think of a reason not to do this. They had a point, after all. Celeborn shouldn't be alone anymore, and dwelling on his past with Galadriel would only serve to build a wall that no one would be able to break down. Better to stop it before it gets any farther. Nodding at Este and his wife, he looked upon the image of this 'Roselinde' one more time.
"I will observe her from the orb. I would like to know more of her before we go through with this."
"Aye, my lord."
"They're not serious," Roselinde murmured to herself, staring in disbelief at the price tag. "I can make it for less than half that!" The dress caught her eye from across the street and, drawn to it, she had almost convinced herself to buy it. Not now, of course, she thought as she closed her mouth. A saleswoman entered her vision and she smiled before walking away.
It was lovely spring day and it was her day off. Roz walked down to look in another window, admiring the finely crafted children's toys and trinkets. She really had no desire to buy anything, except for the now unattainable dress, and contented herself with plain, old window-shopping.
A loud, sonorous bell rang from the clock in the town square. One o'clock; time to get lunch and then go back to her loft apartment. There was a tearoom not far from where she was, and on a whim, she turned down another street to go around the long way. She hoped the little empty shop she saw was still for sale. Week by week, she put aside some of her paycheck to buy it and open a shop of her own. A wicked little smile appeared on her face when she thought of what she intended to sell in her shop. Novelties. But not just any novelties. Adult toys and products, and just the idea of it in this town caused her to laugh out loud. "Might just cause a bit of a scandal," she said to herself as she rounded another corner. Her eyes lit up when she caught sight of the 'For Sale' sign still in the window. "Only a few more weeks, and I'll have enough money to buy you," she said wistfully, crossing the street to see what would become her shop.
"Roz?" a voice called out to her as she put her hands on the window to peer inside. "Roz Carroll? Is it really you?" She turned to look at who was coming to meet her and let out a cry of delight.
"Michael! I never thought I'd see you again!" She was gathered up into his arms and spun around. When she was put back down, she took a pace back. "What brings you here? I thought you weren't leaving Atlanta anytime soon."
Michael stepped close, gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, and then back to his place. "I'm on my way to Nashville, actually," he said. "Got some business there for the company. I like to stop here from time to time." He scrutinized her for a few moments before turning his attention to the shop. "Still looking to start your own business?"
"Yeah. I almost have enough to get this one."
"How? Last I knew, you had barely twenty dollars to your name. I'm amazed you made it out of Atlanta on that."
"I have my ways," she replied glibly. For all that Michael was a good friend, he was certainly trying to get information from her. Though, for what reason, she didn't know. Nor did she really care. "Are you hungry?" she asked, changing the subject. "I know of this place where the tea and sandwiches are the best you'll find anywhere." She reached out to guide him away from the shop and they continued on down the road until they reached the tearoom.
"Have you learned what you wanted to yet?" Varda asked from the doorway. Manwe spun around to look at her with consternation.
"Yes, but there seems to be a problem. Someone Roselinde knows just showed up."
"An older man from the look of it. And they seem to know each other quite well."
"Man? Let me see." Varda came alongside Manwe and looked into the crystal orb. "Oh dear. I was afraid of that," she muttered to herself.
"What is the matter?"
"Este showed me more of Roselinde's past. There are many meetings and partings with other men, but never for very long." She pointed to the man sitting across from Roselinde. "He was one of those instantses."
"That could complicate things."
"Perhaps. Perhaps not. I need to talk to Este."
"You do that. I will observe more."
"Yes, well, send for us if anything happens that could jeopardize our plans."
"Yes, dear." Varda kissed him quickly and swept from the room. Manwe rolled his eyes and resumed watching the scenes in the orb.
Roselinde sat back as Michael ordered for both of them. He'd changed over the last few years. His dark hair was slightly peppered with gray, and there were a few more wrinkles on his face. As a man in his early forties, he could still pass for late twenties. If he colored his hair, of course, she mused. And there was an air of superiority about him as well. More so than when she knew him. But there was still the warmth in his eyes when he looked at her, often coupled with a predatory glint. Did he still consider her as his? Even after he broke off their affair because his wife was close to discovering them? Michael Esquire was one of the most heated affairs she'd had, and one of the longest. There was no denying how good he was in bed, but that did not give him the right to claim her. No matter what he might think.
"Earth to Roz. Come in, Roz." his voice shattered her reverie. Blinking several times, she refocused on him. "What were you thinking about?"
"Nothing much," she answered. "Although I am wondering why you're here. The real reason."
"You haven't changed at all, have you?"
"Probably not. But you have." Roz combed her fingers through her hair, and Michael self-consciously did the same. Apparently, he was a tad sensitive of his aging. "How is Melissa?"
He took a deep breath and exhaled, leaning back in his chair. "She's fine. Still teaching."
"He's ready for summer to start. Can't wait to get into middle school." His eyes narrowed at her. "Why the sudden interest in my wife and son?"
"Why are you really here?" Question for question, she thought. He was about to answer when the waitress brought their food. Ah, he still remembered she liked a light salad with cheese and crackers on the side for lunch. Wonder what else he remembers, she speculated as she sprinkled a bit of vinaigrette over her salad.
They ate in silence, neither one wanting to speak first. This was one of the things that would have broken them up anyway, if it weren't for Melissa finding the bra Roz forgot in Michael's car. Good thing they were the same size because Michael was able to convince his wife it was hers. Roz was beginning to feel caged in anyway. She didn't want a permanent relationship and surely not with a married man. Since Michael showed no inclination to get a divorce, she figured it was time to move on. She wasn't inclined to stay in one place very long anyway, and all her lovers knew that. Michael seemed to be the only one that wanted to hold on to her, and she might have been persuaded to if…
No, Roz, she chastised herself. You can't think like that. He wouldn't have left her for you, and if he did, what's to say he wouldn't have done the same thing again.
Giving up, she put down her fork and looked at him intently. "Why are you really here, Michael?"
"I told you. I like to…"
"…stop here from time to time, yes. You've said that before. Why are you here? And how on earth did you find me?"
"It isn't hard to find someone once they've put down roots, sweetheart. I never thought I'd see the day when Roselinde Carroll would settle down in one place."
"I like it here," she said lightly. It was the truth after all. "Okay, you've answered one question, now for the other. Why are you here?" Michael snared her with his gaze, and she recognized the heated, lustfulness in his stare. He wanted her body. No more, no less. Plain and simple, he wanted nothing more than a rough and tumble in the sheets. Roz deliberately looked away for a few minutes.
"You heard me. I said no." She returned her gaze to his. "Not anymore."
"Since when are you adverse to sex?"
"Since I decided to stop getting involved with married men." Roz stood up and placed her napkin over her empty plate. "It was truly good seeing you again, Michael. Thank you for lunch, but I'll pay for my own." She turned on her heel and made her way to the cashier.
As she walked away from the tearoom, she dared to look back. Michael sat in his chair, still stunned from being turned down. Resuming her way down the street, she made her way to her loft apartment. Michael knew where she lived, which was fine with her. She didn't mind keeping in touch with him. He was a good friend. She just hoped he wouldn't come frequently asking for sex.
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.