Not In This World
7. How Can I Not Love You?
The stars were twinkling merrily outside of her window, but Roselinde couldn't bring herself to enjoy them. The ordeal she just went through shook her badly and she wasn't quite sure if it really happened or not. She remembered going home to get a few things, and make sure Eden would take care of the bills and all her other business. All was going exactly as it should have gone, until Michael appeared. Roselinde didn't even remember him knocking on the door, or hearing him enter her apartment. But she remembered the look on his face, and the anger in his eyes. He blamed her for humiliating him, but she had nothing to do with that. How could she have? The thing that scared her the most was the fact that he was going to rape her. Everything from his facial expression to his body language told her that was his intention. It was a side of Michael she'd never seen before, and was all too happy not to see it again. The only thing that still frightened her was that she didn't remember if he'd succeeded or not. Michael knocked her out. The next thing Roselinde knew, she was here. A lovely lady had held her hands, and they glowed faintly. Whatever the Lady did, she was no longer in pain.
But she remembered everything up until Michael punched her.
Did he succeed in raping her, too?
She closed her eyes against the thought, but it wouldn't go away.
"Roselinde?" Celeborn's voice was soft and sounded unsure. She turned her head quickly to face him, and tears began to cloud her vision. Without a word, she reached for him with both arms and he was at her side almost instantly, holding her as she cried.
Neither one of them saw Thranduil set the bag Roselinde packed down just inside the door and take his leave.
Her shoulders shook with her crying, but Celeborn held onto her. He wasn't about to let her go. She was hurting, and he felt it. There was nothing he wanted to do more than take Roselinde's pain and make it go away. It wasn't any sort of physical pain, Este had seen to it that the bruises were gone and that anything else was repaired. His love hurt from the memory of what was done to her, and it hurt him too. If only he could go back and make sure that miserable wretch was unable to cause harm to anyone else.
If only I had not left her alone, none of this would have happened…
What he wanted to know was how Roselinde knew that filth. Was he part of her past come back to haunt her? It couldn't have been a random attack, could it? Only she knew the details, but he wasn't going to press her about it. His concern was for her well being, and in his heart he hoped that one day this would be forgotten.
Time passed, and still he held her. The tears finally subsided, but Roselinde had yet to move away. Celeborn took a chance and looked down at her. By the grace of the Valar, she was asleep and resting in peace. Carefully, he laid her back upon the bed and pulled the blanket up to her shoulders. Her face wrinkled slightly and her hand tightened around his.
"I will not leave your side, meleth-nin," he murmured and she relaxed. For the rest of the night, Celeborn kept vigil over Roselinde, vowing that no harm would ever befall her again.
Manwe, Varda, and Este stood in another room, not far from the one Celeborn and Roselinde were in. With them was Tulkas, who was ready to answer the Valar's questions.
"Tulkas, please tell us what happened?" Manwe spoke solemnly.
"Were you not watching, my Lord?"
"I did, but I would have it told to the ladies present."
"As you wish, my Lord," Tulkas replied and began. "As soon as we were in that world, we split up and Thranduil ran to Celeborn while I ran up the stairs to save Roselinde. I heard the lady scream once and then go silent. I went in the door and found the lady unconscious and the man on top of her."
"Oh Eru," Este said quietly, her hand going to her mouth. "Please say that he did not take advantage of her that way?"
Tulkas was silent and he bowed his head. "I was not fast enough to stop him from starting, my Lady, but I did prevent him from continuing." He heard a stifled sob coming from one lady, and a muttered curse from the other. No need to know which one did what. "I crossed the room in a heartbeat, pulled him off her, and threw him across the room. He got up and we fought."
"Did Celeborn ever show up?" That was Varda speaking. She didn't sound too pleased, either.
"Aye, my Lady, he did. Thranduil had to hold him back from coming over. From the look on his face, I dare say that if he was able to get away from Thranduil, he would have killed the man."
"Why did Thranduil not let him go?" Este cried. "Michael does not deserve to live!"
"If that had happened, dear Este," Manwe tried to soothe her, "and Michael was found dead in Roselinde's apartment, it would have alerted the authorities and it would have looked bad for Roselinde."
"How so? She is not going to return there."
"No, but there are friends and family she is leaving behind. Only Eden knows the truth, but who would believe her?" Este did not answer. Manwe turned back to Tulkas, "What else?"
"This Michael put up a decent fight, but I finally hit him hard enough to defeat him. I left him lying were he was, and he was left naked from the waist down."
"Good." Varda hissed.
"Aye, my Lady. I told Thranduil and Celeborn that we needed to leave, and then we came here."
"Thank you, Tulkas." The warrior Vala bowed and left, and Manwe turned to his companions. "We need to repair the damage done to Roselinde. This will, no doubt, have scarred her, even if she does not remember it."
"I have healed her bruises, but there was no damage done anywhere else internally," Este said. "Do you think we should tell her about…"
"Only if she wants to know. Then, if she will allow it, we can erase those memories."
"I have no doubt she will allow it," Varda added.
"We can only hope she will."
"What of Michael? When he wakes up, he could still cause trouble. He was there when Roselinde was speaking to Eden about settling her accounts."
"I will deal with Michael," Manwe promised. "But for now, Este, you should go back and check on our patients."
"Patients, my Lord?"
"What affects Roselinde will affect Celeborn. You know this."
Este smiled a little before leaving the room. Varda stayed with Manwe as the orb began to glow again, and a picture of Michael, still unconscious, appeared within its depths.
The soft whisper of silken fabric alerted Celeborn that he was no longer alone. Turning around, he saw Este entering the room, and he rose from the bed. He did not let go of Roselinde.
"Will she be alright?" he asked the Vala as she came up to the bedside to stand next to him. A grimace passed over her face quickly before she spoke.
"Physically, yes, Roselinde will be well. There was no harm done other than the bruises."
"There is something else, is there not?" Celeborn asked. Este looked at him and nodded, taking a deep breath before speaking again.
"She was violated while she was unconscious. It did no harm to her body, but it might have affected her mind."
"It has," he replied, exhaling slowly. "I can feel her pain. But how can that be if she was insensate?"
"I cannot begin to explain how trauma can affect a person's mind, even if they are not aware of it, Celeborn. Even to us, it is still a mystery. But there is something we can do to help. We just need to wait for Roselinde to wake up."
Knowing that the Valar could help Roselinde made Celeborn eager for her to be awake. Though, by the look of his love, she would sleep for a while still. Este grinned at him, patted the hand that still held Roselinde's, turned and left, promising to return after daybreak. Now, he was able to relax, and he felt exhausted. Luckily, the bed was just big enough for them both, and he laid down next to her, spooning her body to his. It still amazed him that they fit so perfectly together, and it still amazed him that they'd only been together for a little over a day. Celeborn allowed himself to rest then, content to know that his Roselinde would be well and whole again.
When he opened his eyes, it was light outside. Moving slightly, he noticed Roselinde was not beside him. Celeborn sat up immediately, scanning the room, but he was alone. He scrambled off the bed and went out of the room, searching in rooms as he passed them in the halls. Finally, he found her, and she was not alone. With her stood Este and both women were standing over a shallow silver bowl. The Vala was in the midst of waving her hand over the bowl when she looked up to see him in the doorway.
"Ah, Celeborn. Please, join us."
Roselinde held her arms out to him again, and he went to her quickly, enveloping her with his arms and his love.
"Why did you not wake me?" he asked, kissing her gently on the head.
"I didn't have the heart to. You couldn't have slept too long," she paused to look up at him, "if at all." She attempted a smile, which he returned, but her attention went back to Este. "The Lady is going to show me what happened last night."
"Are you certain, beloved? I know how much you hurt, even without knowing."
"I have to know, Celeborn. I can't go through the rest of my life wondering if… if Michael…" her voice caught in her throat and her arms tightened around him. "Maybe if I know, I can put it all behind me."
Este reached out to lay a hand on Roselinde's head, smoothing her tangled red tresses and easing some of the fear away. Then, she proceeded to wave her hand over the shallow silver bowl. Celeborn looked down and gazed at the images that seemed to float on the surface of the water. Images of last night, before he left the apartment to go outside. For a few brief moments, he was reminded of Galadriel's mirror in Lorien. It worked in almost the same way, but his former wife had no real control over what she saw. Firmly pushing his past with Galadriel away, he concentrated on his present, and hopefully his future, with Roselinde. When he focused on the water's surface, Roselinde was on his lap, enticing him to make love with her. If they hadn't been in such a hurry, he would have gladly given in to her. Maybe he should have. It might have made this Michael go back from wherever he came from and leave them alone. Leave Roselinde alone.
If only I had not left her alone, none of this would have happened…
His arms tightened around her, and Roselinde felt much better. She felt safe. Even though she still had a lot to learn about Celeborn, she knew he would never hurt her the way Michael did. Hell, she never believed Michael was capable of what he did. Her eyes stayed with the images as they passed, and she was at her desk talking to Eden on the phone. There, Celeborn got up from her bed, came over and put the necklace around her neck, and kissed her on the head before slipping through the door.
"I should not have left you," she heard him say. Roselinde tore her eyes away from the water and looked up at him. "I should not have left you," he repeated. "Please forgive me."
"There's nothing to forgive, meleth-nin. Neither of us knew what was going to happen. There was no reason to suspect anything would go wrong. None of what happened is your fault."
"No, Celeborn. You are not to blame."
"Indeed, you are not," Este said to stop any further protests. "And neither are you, Roselinde, so do not try to lay blame on yourself."
Roselinde said nothing, and avoided Celeborn's concerned gaze. Though she knew she didn't do anything to provoke Michael, she certainly didn't help it either. It wasn't her fault, yet she couldn't help thinking it was. After all, she got involved with him. She thought she knew what she was doing then.
"You did not know who Michael really was, little one," Este spoke again, using her voice to soothe her. Roselinde nodded mutely, unable to speak, looking into the bright eyes of the Lady. Her hand was over the bowl and the picture within was paused. "Do you wish to continue, Roselinde?"
Nodding again, she brought her eyes back to the water, and there was Michael, entering her apartment. His expression was just as she remembered it: hard, glowering, and angry. He stalked her so that she couldn't avoid him. There, he was naked from the waist down; she made fists with her hands and took a swing. Even if she had hit him, it would not have helped. Michael raised his hand to backhand her and she was on the bed, struggling still to keep him from doing what she knew he wanted. She saw herself scream, and his fist connected with her face. The Roselinde in the water went limp. This was where her memory failed her, and what she saw only confirmed her suspicions from earlier.
Michael did rape her. He took her unconscious body and began to have his way. The sight of him heaving into her made the bile rise in her throat, and tears welled up in her eyes. Roselinde turned her face into Celeborn's chest, clutching his tunic as she cried. His hands rubbed her back and he murmured his love to her.
"I do not wish to push you, Roselinde, but do you wish to see any more?" Este asked gently. "You do not have to if it is too much to bear."
Roselinde was torn. Part of her wanted to see what happened, while part of her didn't want to see Michael ever again. How could he have done that to her? Why did he feel the need to do it? It was too much to bear, but there was apparently still more to see, and somehow she was brought back here. Her curiosity won over; she dried her tears, and looked back at the water. Este took this as an affirmative answer and made the images move again.
The door to her apartment was opened further and someone came running over to Michael, bodily dragging him off her, and then beating him to a pulp. Roselinde watched the fight as was glad Michael was getting hurt. Yet her eyes kept straying to where she was still prone and unmoving on the bed. Minutes later, Celeborn and yet another person showed up at her door. His body tensed in her arms, and she tried to comfort him. The Celeborn in the water looked positively murderous, and it was the other that held him back.
"Thranduil stopped me, beloved. I would have killed him if he had not."
"I'm glad you were stopped."
"It would leave his wife and son alone. He has a well-paying job, but it isn't enough to support the two of them once he's gone. Especially not after a funeral."
This bit of news kept Celeborn from asking anything else. Before she came to him, Roselinde was involved with this man, and he was married to another. It was a similar situation to his own past and one that pained him still. Just as the other men willing went into Galadriel's bed, so Roselinde went willingly into Michael's. His hold on her lessened a little bit, and she looked up at him curiously. He shook his head and her brows furrowed but she didn't ask him anything. Celeborn was almost glad for it. They would need to talk once this was over. And they would need to be alone, away from the Valar. But there was nowhere here that they could go, and he wasn't certain if Tol Eressea was completely private either.
Maybe Thranduil knew where they could go. Reassuring Roselinde, he tightened his hold again, and they turned their attention back to the bowl.
For the most part, it was over, and it ended with a flash. Este waved her hand over the silver bowl and the water within was clear. Her gaze lifted to the pair of lovers, and knew there was much more the calm exterior they were both trying to exude. She sensed undercurrents coming from Celeborn concerning his past, and she remembered the comment Roselinde made moments ago. Este tried to hide a wince. Yet another hurdle for them to jump over and get beyond without damaging their love. Oh, they were still a match for each other. A perfect fit. But what they didn't know could eventually tear them apart, and that had to be prevented. Este was tempted to intervene again, but this was going to be up to them to fix. First, though, she had to offer Roselinde the choice of removing the knowledge of Michael's attack, or not.
"Roselinde, I am going to give you a choice, and I need you to think about what you want to do."
"With the help of Manwe and Varda, we can remove the knowledge of what Michael did to you. Or, you can keep the memories and keep the knowledge with you forever."
The Lady didn't need to mention that this could affect them later on, but Roselinde knew she was thinking it. How could she not know? Since the moment she saw Michael commit his atrocity, she'd been wondering how she could make herself forget. The fact that she was unconscious throughout made her think she could just sink into that oblivion again, but it was not knowing that kept at her and at her until she had to know. That's what brought her here when Este asked her if she wanted to see. Other than her sense of curiosity. Now that she did know, could she continue living just as she had before? Roselinde was not oblivious to rape. She knew several women from her town that moved there to start over again after they'd been raped. They were able to talk about their ordeals calmly, but their eyes remained haunted. A few of them still flinched when a man made a sudden move, and there were one or two among them who changed their lifestyles. Would she be able to talk calmly about it like them? Would her eyes always remain haunted?
Could she shun the intimate touch of a man?
Her first night with Celeborn reminded her that there was no way she could ever do that. But thinking about it now didn't bring the same feeling of joy, or luster, or magic she got when she imagined him pleasuring her. There wasn't even the little tingling sensation she felt deep within her body at the thought of him making love to her, or the anticipation of it happening again and again. Oh gods! Why did this happen to her? Roselinde wanted those feelings back. She wanted to know that everything would be alright again.
"May I think about it, my Lady?" she asked, her voice barely a whisper.
"Yes. All we ask is that you let us know of your decision. But I must warn you, if you wait too long, it will become difficult to remove those memories without taking away others."
"If there is nothing else, I would ask you to stay one more night here, Roselinde. Just for observation."
"Am I not healed?"
"Yes, you are, little one! But just as healers in your world would keep a patient longer for observation, so do we here."
Roselinde nodded and Celeborn led her out of the room and back to the one she'd been given. His arm was still around her protectively, but she felt as if there was something between them. A wall, perhaps. Not entirely sure what caused it, she remained silent. Would it be like this between them? The choice she made to stay here had come from her heart, but now she was beginning to doubt if she'd made it too rashly. That, in itself, almost made her turn around again to have her memories taken away. If she was beginning to doubt her decision to stay with Celeborn forever, it would be worth having the blank hole in her mind than to think that she could live without him.
In the room, they found the bed had been made and a vase of fresh cut lilacs inhabited the table next to the window. Sunlight filtered in past the curtains, which fluttered loosely with the breeze coming through the partially open window. Roselinde might have thought it a beautiful scene if it weren't for the melancholy that settled on her spirit. Celeborn picked her up and gently laid her on the bed, while he went to get the bag by the door. The bag they packed at her apartment. She almost didn't want to see it, but at least she remembered being quite happy packing it. Setting it down beside her, he waited patiently for her to open it. Well, maybe going through the clothes and items in there might help lift her mood.
The sound of the zipper moving filled the room, and Celeborn found it music to his ears. Roselinde had been too quiet for him, though he knew he'd done nothing to alleviate the situation himself. Two days since meeting Roselinde, and there was a darkness surrounding their relationship. From love at first sight, or rather touch, to this. This shouldn't have happened, and he couldn't convince himself that he wasn't to blame. Lady Este and Roselinde assured him of it, but he still felt terrible. Shaking himself out of his thoughts, he watched his love as she brought out a bright yellow dress. A little smile appeared on her face as she held it up to her body, holding it up at her chest with one hand and smoothing it out with the other.
"I bought this dress last month," she said softly. "It was a gift to myself."
"For what occasion?" he asked her.
"No occasion, really. I thought it looked cute in the window, so I bought it. It's perfect to wear during the hot summer months..." her voice drifted off. Celeborn had the distinct feeling she would have said 'back home', but stopped herself before she could.
"I would love to see you in it, beloved." Her hazel eyes were flecked with gold when she looked at him, and they glistened with the beginnings of new tears. Concerned, he pushed the bag away, and sat down close to her taking her hand in his. "What is wrong?"
"Nothing is wrong," she replied, letting a few tears fall. "I just love hearing you say beloved. No one has ever called me that before."
"Then I shall never stop," he promised, kissing the palm of her hand. When he looked at her again, she was watching him and the smile on her face was a little bigger. There was a glimmer of lust and love within those hazel depths he loved so much. "I am surprised that you would still love me after everything that has happened." The comment was blurted out before he realised he said it, and then it was too late to think better of it. Roselinde looked surprised, her mouth falling open slightly.
"How can I not love you? Why do you say such a thing?"
"I thought maybe because I…" Celeborn started to explain, but Roselinde pulled him to her and kissed him fiercely. Her hand caressed his face, then up through his hair. The world could have stopped and neither one would have noticed it. When they had to stop for lack of air, she pulled away and her gaze was intense.
"I love you, Celeborn. Never doubt that."
"Certainly not. Not after that kiss," he answered, taking her in his arms. "Do I still get to see you in that dress?"
"If you let me go change, you will."
Reluctantly, he let her go, but not before kissing her neck and making her breathless. She slipped behind a screened partition and the light shift she wore was flung over the top. For a few brief moments, he could see the naked silhouette of her body through the fabric of the partition. Valar, how he longed to feel her skin against his again, though he might have to wait for her. And wait he would. Roselinde's hands appeared over the screen and the yellow dress flowed down over her body. Shortly afterward, she came out and spun around once for him.
"Do you like it?"
"You look beautiful, beloved," he murmured, rising to his feet and coming to stand in front of her. "I wish I could take you home now."
"So do I."
"That can be arranged," another voice said and they both spun around to see Este standing in the doorway. "I have decided that you are well enough to leave, Roselinde."
"I don't have to stay?"
"That is entirely up to you. But judging from what I have just witnessed, I do not think it necessary." Este laughed as both Celeborn and Roselinde blushed. "Roselinde, you know you still have a choice to make?"
"Yes, my Lady. I won't forget to let you know of my decision."
"See that you do not." Este smiled and then left them alone. Celeborn turned to Roselinde and lifted her up to spin her around.
"Let's go home," she said as he put her back down. He went to the bed and got her bag. Then, on a whim, he went and got the vase of lilacs from the table.
"They can get a new vase with flowers. These, my beautiful Roselinde, are yours."
Finally, her smile was as radiant as before her ordeal, and Celeborn hoped to see it more often. With her arm in his, they walked from the room and down the hall, leaving the meetinghouse and following the path home.
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.