Not In This World
11. Every Sweet Has Its Sour
Celeborn still couldn't believe he was going to be a father again. It was only a week since they found out for sure that Roselinde was pregnant, but the feeling of amazement had yet to wear off. This was the third time he was going to be a father. First there was his son Amroth, then his daughter Celebrian, and now this new child on the way. Even Roselinde was still in a state of bemusement, and she was glowing with impending motherhood. Her sweet, beautiful face was almost always awash with joy – when she wasn't busy being sick, of course. He worried about that, but their midwife assured them that Roselinde had a little while yet before the sickness would end. Thankfully, Lady Este had directed them to a healer and midwife that knew how to care for humans as well as elves, and Meldis took care of his beloved and his child well. Still, he was happy and content and couldn't wait to greet his new son – or daughter.
Was it too much to hope for both? One would certainly be enough, but two children would be a double blessing. Celeborn could just see two children – looking so much like Roselinde with their red hair and hazel eyes – running and laughing through the house. At least he thought it would be a charming sight. Roselinde always gave him a rather dark look when he mentioned the possibility of twins. Maybe he should wait until after she felt better to say anything more. Her temper was quite touchy and sometimes the slightest thing could set her off. Fortunately, her outbursts were rarely directed at him, and he learned what it took to calm Roselinde down.
By now, all of their close friends knew about the coming of their baby. Thranduil was particularly happy, volunteering to be the child's uncle and also volunteering his son's services as baby-sitter. 'Of course Legolas will not mind watching your child!' he said one evening after dinner. 'He has a way with children.' Fatherly pride was abundant that night, and Celeborn smiled at the memory. Thranduil also promised a few parties for the parents before the baby came. 'You can never have too many diapers, Roselinde. You will find that out soon enough, my dear!' Already, Thranduil was campaigning for the 'World's Best Uncle' award.
Though he was wary about telling Elrond and Celebrian, they welcomed the news with smiles and congratulations. Through the years of Galadriel's unfaithfulness, and during the divorce, Celebrian supported him as much as she could. They were very close, but she refused to take sides, and she still talked to her mother. Celebrian adored Roselinde, and accepted her as her father's new love, but Celeborn knew it would only be a matter of time before Galadriel found out about the baby. He had no doubt she knew about Roselinde, and often wondered why she had yet to do or say anything about it. As if she could do anything about it, he thought, snorting inelegantly. Once, he mentioned his idea of withholding their impending parenthood to themselves in order to keep it from reaching his ex-wife's ears. Roselinde gazed at him seriously and told him that maybe Galadriel should know. But all Celeborn could think about were the very probable difficulties she could cause. He didn't want his Roselinde to suffer any stress created by his ex-wife if he could help it.
Pushing all his thoughts aside, and stepping out of the shower, he grabbed a towel and went into the bedroom to dry off and get dressed. Today, he called off every meeting he had or might've had, and was going to take Roselinde to the market square. She was feeling much better today, and so far, had not been sick. As opposed to yesterday, when she was sick throughout most of the morning. When he suggested the trip to her, she insisted on going in no uncertain terms, even if she got sick again. So today, they would be going to market to begin purchasing items for their baby. They needed clothes, blankets, diapers, and a cradle. Those were among the first things they would buy; though they knew the list would be fairly long later. After a long weekend of cleaning out the small room across the hall from their bedroom, and getting it ready, all they had to do was fill it. Vaniel had already given them a string of prisms for the window that cast rainbows all over the room. She also gave them several soft, plush animals for the baby to play with once he – or she – was old enough to play with them. Vaniel had had almost become a permanent fixture around the house, helping them out whenever and wherever she could. Celeborn was glad for the extra help, especially when he was called away for some meeting. At least he was free and clear today. This shopping trip was something he was looking forward to.
After eating a light brunch of toast, eggs, and juice – which happened to be about all she could handle – Roselinde happily followed Celeborn out of the house. His arm was wrapped tenderly around her waist as they walked down the main path that would take them to the market square. Sometimes, he would pull her close and touch her belly where their child rested within her. Celeborn was happy, she felt it deep in her soul, and it lifted her spirits as well. In the last week, he told her more stories of his children, and she finally got to meet his daughter, Celebrian. Roselinde liked the lady very much, and listened to the stories she shared of her children. Celeborn's daughter was very much like him, in attitude as well as looks, and she told him so one night after Celebrian left. Pride and love lit up his face at her compliment.
Her hand went to her belly and she wondered if he would be that proud of his newest child. Oh, she knew he loved the baby already by the way he spent time every night, while they lay in bed, talking to her – or him – and lightly caressing her abdomen. It was hard to believe she was already getting a little bigger now, too. It wasn't a lot, but Roselinde noticed the slight pooch of her belly, and she gleefully showed Celeborn too. Soon enough, she wouldn't be able to see her feet, she'd be as big as a house, and she would be waddling just like a duck. Grace was apparently not meant for pregnant women, Roselinde mused.
When the market square finally came into view, she noticed it wasn't as crowded as it normally was. Roselinde knew well there were schedules the shopkeepers had for opening and closing. The market in general opened at dawn and closed at dusk. But for as long as she'd been coming here, the place was almost always bustling with people at this time of day. Was it some sort of holiday? There were still a few things she didn't know about her new life in this world, so it could very well be some kind of holiday, and some merchants were off to enjoy it with their families. The same could be said for anyone else who wasn't at market. Not willing to let it bother her, Roselinde smiled up at Celeborn, took his hand, and they walked to the nearest shop that specialized with baby items. They entered the shop, and was greeted by a friendly, yet very surprised woman.
"Is there anything I can help you with?" she asked them politely.
"No, thank you," Roselinde answered. "We're just looking."
Celeborn smiled at the woman, then went to Roselinde's side. He recognised the shopkeeper as one of Galadriel's confidantes. The lady's eyes kept looking outside, when she thought she wasn't being watched, which could only mean one thing. His ex-wife was at market, too. Maybe they could get all of their shopping done and not run into her…
"Celeborn?" Roselinde's hand grasped his arm. Blinking rapidly, he pushed his thoughts aside and focused on her. "What's wrong?" The tiny, purple tunic in her other hand lowered slightly. Apparently, she had held it up for him to look at.
"I will explain later," he whispered, making sure the shopkeeper didn't hear him. Reaching out, he took hold of the tunic and grinned. The embroidery around the bottom of the sleeves and the bottom hem was done in silver thread and patterned in little doves. "This would be perfect for our daughter," he spoke a little more loudly this time. Casting a surreptitious glance at the lady behind the counter, Celeborn tried not to laugh at her shocked expression. If Galadriel didn't know the news from Celebrian by now, she would certainly know from this lady within the next few hours.
Roselinde caught his tone of voice and the glance directed at the woman. Something was certainly going on with him, and not willing to wait, she replaced the baby tunic, took his hand, and went out of the shop.
"What are you doing?" she asked him, peeved at his change in behavior more than anything else. "What's going on?"
"That lady in there in a friend of my ex-wife."
"So? What does that have anything to do with shopping for our baby?"
"Nothing in particular," he responded with a touch of sarcasm. "Only that Galadriel is here at market and that we are bound to run into her. That lady will no doubt tell her about the baby."
"So what if she finds out? Celeborn, why are you acting this way? This was supposed to be a happy day for us. We already talked about this, and I don't care if she knows or not. Why do you?"
Celeborn sighed. It was supposed to be a joyful day full of shopping and talking about the baby. And up until now, it looked as if that was going to happen. Sighing deeply, he put his hands on her shoulders and squeezed gently.
"Part of me still wants to keep this secret except to our friends. The other part of me wants the entire world to know about how happy in love we are, and that we are going to be parents."
"Shhhh, please let me explain," he said laying a finger softly on her lips. "When we told Celebrian about the baby, I knew the news would get back to Galadriel when they got together to talk. That happens about once or twice a month. I was fairly certain that we would have at least a fortnight to prepare." Roselinde looked more confused than irritated now, and he was a little relieved. "Galadriel can be stubborn, manipulative, arrogant, superior, and sometimes even vindictive. When we were married, we ruled Lorien together. She listened to my council, and I listened to hers. There have been times when she had her mind set on punishment or retribution and I could do nothing to stop her. I do not want her to interfere with us. I do not want her to cause problems for you or our baby."
Roselinde understood. At least she thought she did. By not letting his ex-wife know about the baby, Celeborn was not avoiding the inevitable, but trying to protect them from it. His description of Galadriel was helpful in that she now knew how to handle it if she ever did meet her. And that was entirely likely since she was here at market. That might also explain why the place was less crowded as well.
"She isn't very well liked here, is she?" Roselinde asked, gazing up into his blue eyes.
"Only among a certain few. That number seems to decrease with those she loves and then leaves."
"Leaving a long line of burned lovers can't be good for her reputation."
"I have not the experience in that department, but I do not suppose it is." Celeborn took Roselinde in his arms and held her. "I did not mean to ruin the day, beloved."
"Who says you did?" she answered as she tightened her hold. "Let's go to another shop and pick up where we left off."
"What if we run into Galadriel?"
"We'll cross that bridge when we get there. Until then," she pulled away from him, went up on her tiptoes and gave him a quick kiss. "We have some shopping to do."
Roselinde watched his face relax and soften, with a smile curving his lips. He even began to laugh. His arms wrapped around her once again, and she found herself being swung around in a circle. She squealed and laughed, then warned him to put her back down or else she'd be sick. When he put her back down, they went arm in arm down the road, going to the shops she knew about. As they were not on the main market road, it would be less likely they'd run into Galadriel. At least, that's what they hoped.
"I heard him say the tunic would be perfect for their daughter," the shopkeeper said to Galadriel as she fingered through baby clothes. Picking up one, the lady nodded affirmation that it was the tunic in question.
"Did they look happy?" Galadriel asked, bringing the clothing to the counter and paying for it.
"Yes, my lady. They were all smiles. His lady looked positively radiant."
An eyebrow quirked upward, and the shopkeeper saw a smirk appear on the beautiful face of Galadriel. Waiting a few more minutes as Galadriel picked out a pair of booties and another tunic, she took the money and put everything in a box. She was thanked, and then watched as her friend left without another word.
Celeborn held the cradle filled with all manner of baby clothes, blankets and diapers. Roselinde carried a large bag of small stuffed animals, but held a large teddy bear in her arms. The afternoon sun was sinking toward the horizon, and the sky was a perfect cloudless blue though the approaching sunset would begin staining the blue with yellows, oranges, and reds. The past few hours had been spent as it was intended to be: in each other's company, laughing, and talking about what they would be buying next for the baby. They smiled and waved at people he knew, and also spent time talking to each of her shopkeeper friends. The previous troubles were forgotten and the day was absolutely perfect.
With every intention to get home and get everything in the baby's room before eating dinner, they walked a quick pace through the market square. People were leaving as well, and the shopkeepers and street vendors were closing up for the night. Celeborn was just wondering why they hadn't seen his ex-wife, when they separated from the masses and turned down the lane that would take them home. Galadriel stood alone, a box in her hands, and the semblance of courtesy on her face. She was looking directly at them, making it clear that they were whom she waited for. Stepping out into the path, she stopped in their way so that they had to stop.
"Good afternoon Celeborn. Roselinde," she greeted them. Her voice was friendly enough, but it carried an edge that put Celeborn on his guard. The glint in Galadriel's eyes when she looked at him told him she knew it, too.
"Good evening, Galadriel," Roselinde spoke up after getting over her shock. She felt Celeborn's body tense up, and his eyes were hard. "It's been a pleasure meeting you, but we have to go home now." She nudged Celeborn and they started to go around Galadriel. It was hard enough to not say anything else the woman. She wouldn't be the start of anything.
"I have a gift for your baby," the lady said, handing the box to Roselinde. The look on Galadriel's face spoke volumes. She was up to something, and it wasn't going to be pretty. Her pale blue eyes then focused on Celeborn. "I see it did not take you long to find someone to take my place."
"It took longer for me than it did for you," he retorted. Galadriel's eyes glittered with malice.
"I would not have thought you would take up an affair with a mortal, much less get one pregnant."
Roselinde's mouth fell open at the insult to both Celeborn and herself. Forcing herself to shut it, her eyes narrowed and she took a step toward Galadriel, thus bringing the attention back to her. Pale blue eyes were as hard as agates, and if looks could kill, Roselinde would've surely perished. But not without first inflicting damage to the taller, and more imposing, of the two.
"My, my, Roselinde. You have a temper on you. Do you wish to show it to me, or shall I draw it out of you? I have always been amused by mortals when they are angry."
Roselinde was fuming, but calmed down just to spite this woman. "What does it matter to you who Celeborn sees and who he doesn't? It isn't like you cared one bit about him the moment you left Middle-earth." Roselinde grinned as Galadriel's mouth fell open. "Have I surprised you that I know? I've heard quite a bit about you, madam."
"Have you now? And what might that be?" Galadriel's voice was nothing more than a dark whisper, but Roselinde wasn't intimidated.
"I know that once you set foot in Aman, you wasted no time in finding another to take Celeborn's place in your bed. Isn't that what you accuse him of? I know that you were heartless enough to bring one of your many conquests home and have sex with him in the bed meant for you and your husband. I also know that you are not well liked in this city."
"Is that so?" Galadriel's eyes had darkened with anger, and her fists clenched at her sides. "So tell me, Roselinde, what does it feel like to know you will die but Celeborn and your daughter would live forever?"
"It certainly doesn't change my love for him, or our baby. I would live my life to the fullest extent knowing they loved me in return." Did she detect tears in the woman's eyes? Unshed tears threatening to fall? Roselinde honestly tried to feel sympathetic for her, but couldn't. Instead, she turned her back on Galadriel and started walking down the road, stopping only a few feet past Celeborn and turning back. He was turning to follow her when Galadriel called after them.
"Surely you do not intend to marry her, Celeborn."
If Roselinde was pushed past her own levels of anger, Celeborn looked as if he could kill. His eyes flashed dangerously and he set the cradle down before he turned around to face his ex-wife. Galadriel had the gall to look frightened. Roselinde watched as he squared his shoulders and took a few steps toward the woman he had once loved more than life itself.
"Who are you to ask such a question, Galadriel? You, who had forsaken our marriage vows the moment you left Middle-earth? Do not try to tell me that you hold the vows as sacred, madam. I know better than to believe you."
"How do I know you did not forsake our vows when I was gone?"
"Come now, Galadriel. I told you everything that happened from the time you sailed until I reached the Blessed Realm myself. You heard the same stories from Thranduil and Elrond. I do not lie, and neither do they."
"I do not trust them."
"Funny you should say that. I will be sure to tell them that the next time they are over for dinner." Celeborn turned around again, and picked up the cradle, visibly trying to calm down. Roselinde walked beside him as they left Galadriel staring after them. But then, she remembered something. Walking back to Galadriel, she gave the woman her gift back.
"I don't want this, or anything you might give, to come near our baby."
"He would not marry you, mortal, if you were the last woman in this world," Galadriel said through clenched teeth.
"That means my chances are a hell of a lot better than yours, since you would be long gone and most certainly forgotten."
"As it happens," Celeborn's voice came to them from where he still stood. "Roselinde and I will be taking the Vows soon."
Galadriel's mouth fell open with shock and Roselinde laughed at her. Going back to her beloved Celeborn, she looped her arm through his and they walked away from his ex-wife, and his past, without so much as a glance behind them.
Manwe followed the sound of laughter as he crossed the bridge to Este's island. Rounding the large tree, he found his wife and the dream weaver wiping tears from their eyes and trying to catch their breath. Obviously they found something hysterical enough to laugh over.
"What is so funny?" he asked them as he met them.
"It seems that we do not have to do anything regarding Celeborn, Roselinde, and Galadriel as we thought," Varda managed as Este had yet to collect herself. "May I show him?" she asked her sister-Vala. Este nodded helplessly as another wave of laughter took over. Varda touched the water in the shallow silver bowl and Manwe watched the scene unfold until he too was laughing.
"You chose well, mistress dream weaver," he told the still laughing Este. "Roselinde can very well handle herself, and defend those she loves."
"It seems we will also have a wedding to attend," Varda told him. "I do not think they will wait until after the babe is born."
"Indeed. In fact, I dare say it will happen before the week ends."
"Do you think they will have any more trouble from Galadriel?"
"It is possible," he said, sobering up almost immediately. "But it will be a long time in coming. See to it that she is punished if she does anything to harm them."
"I will leave that up to Este, my lord," Varda answered. "She would have been much happier if Michael had died, you know."
"Indeed." They turned to Este who was calm and collected and gazing into the water. "You do not have to watch them every minute, my lady." The light glowing on her face from the bowl diminished and Este backed away trying not to look guilty, though a smile was still on her face.
They left her there, and knew their friend had gone back to watching the pair again in her silver bowl.
They entered the house in silence, putting down their purchases to light the lamps. It was something they did together, and often they made it a game, going from room to room until they met in the bedroom. One thing would lead to another, and they would make love until both were spent and sated. This evening, though, it was performed without the game and without the lovemaking. They returned to the living room and picked up their purchases and went to the baby room, placing the clothes and diapers on the shelves and the toys in a neat pile on the floor. The cradle went into their bedroom next to the rocking chair and the blankets were draped over the arms of the chair.
"Are you hungry?" Roselinde asked as she brushed past him and out of the room into the hallway. "I suddenly have this craving for chicken." Celeborn shrugged and followed her out and into the kitchen.
He leaned against the counter watching her as she prepared their dinner calmly. She wasn't angry or irritated, but she wasn't in the best of moods, that much he could tell. Their day had been ruined by his ex-wife, but neither one was going to admit it, even though they'd lost their laughter and happiness prior to meeting Galadriel. Roselinde was just beginning to make biscuits when her hands slipped on the rolling pin and she mashed her hands into the countertop. Crying out, she pulled her hands against her chase and Celeborn was there to take her in his arms to hold her as she cried. His beloved was strong, but he was beginning to wonder when the confrontation would have this effect on her.
"I am so sorry," he apologised to her. "For a long time I was hoping we would not ever have to meet her."
"How is any of this your fault?" Roselinde asked him, pulling back to look at him. "She's the one that started it, not you. And not me, for that matter." Taking a step back, she pulled out of his embrace and went back to making the biscuits.
Later, as they sat at the table, he noticed she was merely picking at her food. His plate had barely been touched as well. The food was going cold and they had no appetite to eat. Celeborn was thinking of some way to make sure that they would never run into his ex-wife again, and an idea came to mind.
"What if we moved to another city, beloved?" he asked. "We could move to Tirion or Alqualonde or even to Eressea."
"Why would you want to do that?"
"We need to get away from her. I will not risk another confrontation."
"Why should we move to get away from her? If anyone does any moving, it should be your ex-wife, not us."
"You do not think she will leave us alone if we stay here?"
"Oh, I know she won't leave us alone at all. But why should I leave my home? Why should we be the ones to run away? This is my home now, and I don't want to leave it."
Roselinde leaned back in her chair and her arms were folded across her chest. Sweet Eru but she was beautiful when she was defiant! Her stubbornness was admirable and he loved her so much more for not wanting to let Galadriel win the battle she started. But he also didn't want Roselinde to suffer anymore than she already had, and he knew his ex-wife was capable of causing harm if she saw fit to. The look on her face when they left her confirmed his suspicions. He didn't see that moving was running away, especially when he'd been considering leaving anyway. Valmar was a nice enough city, but everywhere he went, he was reminded of his past. Celeborn told this to Roselinde, and she relaxed a bit.
"We can start our life together in a new home," he finished.
"What about Vaniel and Meldis? I don't want to be too far from them."
"If they want, they can come with us."
Roselinde thought it over as she took their untouched plates of food into the kitchen. Part of her wanted to stay right here and not give Galadriel the satisfaction of seeing them moving away. Surely she would see this as running and think herself triumphant for chasing them out of Valmar. But Celeborn had a point, and the other part of her agreed with him. They could start the life with a clean slate, and live peacefully with their children, friends and family. The farther away from Galadriel, the better. Roselinde would also have Vaniel and Meldis to help when the baby came, and surely they wouldn't move too far to not see Thranduil or Elrond and Celebrian again.
"We won't move too far will we?" she asked when she faced him again.
"I was thinking we could go to Eressea, beloved. I remember how much fun we had there," he said with a twinkle in his eye.
"And it's entirely possible that's where our child was conceived…"
"Indeed, though I am more inclined to believe that it happened in our grotto," he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her to him. His laid his cheek on the top of her head and took a deep breath. There was a hint of strawberries and honey in her scent, and he smiled. "Is that a 'yes', my Roselinde? Shall we move to Eressea?"
"Yes," she agreed, pressing her body against his. "Let's go to bed, darling. The sooner this day is over the better." She took his hand and led them to the bedroom.
It was a long time before they finally went to sleep.
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.