Not In This World
9. Severed and Forgotten Forever
Varda walked along the thin, secret path that led to Este's lake. The dream weaver came back after Roselinde and Celeborn left the meetinghouse after being healed. No news had come from the couple until today, and the piece of parchment was still in Varda's hand. Este had a connection to the couple, being the one to bring them together in the first place, and she would no doubt like to know what they had been up to. They'd made it plain that they wanted privacy by going to Eressea, and Este understood that. But Varda knew how much Este wanted to look in on them and make sure everything was as it should be. Varda was curious herself. Either way, both Roselinde and Celeborn were specifically asking for Este to meet them.
"Este! I have a message for you!" she called out when she reached the small, wooden bridge that connected the island to the shore. Varda stepped onto it and was in the middle when Este appeared before her.
"Who from?" the dream weaver asked even as she took the parchment Varda proffered. There was silence as her sister Vala read the note and smiled.
"They will be at the meetinghouse this afternoon," Varda told her. "We can have the procedure done before evening."
"And we will be much more gentle with Roselinde than Manwe was with Michael."
"Of course! I do not envy the torturous headache Michael woke up with after he had all his memories of Roselinde torn from his mind. I do, however, wish you had seen the fear on his face when he looked upon a wrathful Manwe!" The two Vala walked back to shore and Varda explained as they walked: "He was stuttering, shaking, backing away from Manwe even while he was still on the floor! Once Manwe declared what he was going to do, Michael had the gall to defy him!"
"I almost feel sorry for Michael."
"Well, he did not have a choice in the matter. Manwe reached down and put his hand on Michael's head to remove the memories. Este, Michael was so frightened that he wet the floor under him!"
"He deserved that much if he was going to be allowed to live."
"You still think he should have died?" Varda asked gently, knowing Este was still angry about it. Este said nothing more. "Anyway, Michael lost consciousness and Manwe waited until he woke up again. He wasn't as imposing as before, and posed as an old man to answer Michael's questions. Michael, duelly embarrassed at his current state, got dressed and left to go home."
"No longer a threat to Roselinde."
"Good." Este was smiling again. "I cannot wait to see them, Varda. They must be so happy together!"
"I should hope so!" Varda agreed. "I would hate to think you, of all people, guessed wrongly."
Este pretended to be affronted before giving up her efforts to keep from giggling. Varda laughed with her and they made there way to the meetinghouse in a considerably lighter mood than before.
Celeborn paced in the room they were in, his expression alternating between worry and relief. They just returned from Eressea after spending another few days on the island, and came straight to the meetinghouse instead of waiting until the time they said they were originally coming. Roselinde thought it would be best to get this done as soon as possible, and he readily agreed with her. They had their lives to live in peace and happiness, and neither of them wanted this to ever come between them again.
"You're making me nervous, beloved," Roselinde said. There was laughter in her voice. "Come and sit by me."
He turned to face her and she beckoned to him. The look in her eyes told him she was far from nervous. In fact, Celeborn saw mischief in those glittering hazel eyes. It didn't help matters much that she was seated upon the bed. Leaning back with both arms braced behind her, Roselinde grinned wickedly. Valar, how she tempted him! Going to her, he sat down beside her, and took her in his arms. He thought that being held was all she wanted, but he soon felt her hands creeping up underneath his tunic. The thoughts running though his mind at the moment were that maybe they should just go home and continue this in greater detail there. They were early anyway. The sensible part of him knew it would be rude to just up and leave, no matter the circumstance.
Far be it from him to remain idle, though. With one arms holding onto her, he brought the other around the front, working his hand under her skirt. She was wearing one of the light dresses she packed from her world; this one a pale green color and leaving her shoulders bare. Roselinde breathed heavily against his neck as he slowly worked his hand up her leg, using his fingertip to draw little sensual circles as he went. Her head fell back and her hands gripped his waist to keep from falling back when he got close to her heated core. Yet he teased her, staying away deliberately from where she wanted him to touch. A soft moan left her lips as she scooted closer and spread her legs wider so that he had to touch her. He would have too, if it weren't for the sound of footsteps in the hallway, coming closer to their room. Celeborn removed his hand, gaining a frustrated groan from Roselinde. Thinking fast, he pulled her up and caught her mouth in a passionate kiss while he straightened her dress, and hoped whoever was approaching wouldn't notice anything more than him kissing her. A soft knock on the door confirmed his suspicions, and the kiss ended just as it opened.
Roselinde knew her face was flushed and she fought to catch her breath. Her hand flew up to her hair to make sure it wasn't messed up too much, but at least Celeborn didn't let her go, else she'd fall back onto the bed. It was a good thing he stopped when he did, otherwise Lady Este would have walked in on them. The thought of the lady catching them in such a heated, wanton act made her start to laugh, and she clamped her hand over her mouth. Celeborn looked at her quizzically, which only made her want to laugh harder.
"I see you are both in a good mood," the Lady spoke from the doorway, bringing their attention to her. "I thought that you would be coming along later…" She stopped mid-sentence when Roselinde finally laughed out loud and Celeborn smiled widely. Este didn't bother to ask why, and it filled her heart with joy to see the two of them so besotted with each other. "Do you wish to start the procedure now, or wait until the original scheduled time?" she asked them. Roselinde managed to speak, fanning herself with her hand to cool the rosy flush of her face.
"I'd like to get this done as soon as possible, my Lady," she said, sliding off the bed and standing up. "May I ask what will happen?"
"Of course you may." Este came into the room and sat down in a nearby chair, indicating the one beside her for Roselinde to sit down. "When we are ready to proceed, Manwe, Varda, and myself will surround you and ourselves with white light. Then, we will each put a hand on your head. We will remove the memories of trauma from your mind forever."
"Will it hurt her?" Celeborn asked, once again looking worried. His eyes were locked on Roselinde
"Nay, precious one. We will be as gentle as we can. No harm will befall her." Each of them nodded with understanding. "Then if you are ready.." she stood up and gestured toward the open door.
"My Lady?" Roselinde asked, rising from her chair as well. "Can you take away all my memories of Michael? I don't want to remember him ever again."
Este smiled gently and reached to take the woman's shoulders in her hands. "We will do what we can, little one. I promise." She kissed Roselinde on the forehead and then released her. "Let me first discuss this with Manwe and Varda, my child. I will send for you when it is time."
"Thank you, my Lady." The Vala left them alone, closing the door behind her. Roselinde had yet to turn back around, but she felt Celeborn close behind her. His arms wrapped around her in a loving embrace, warming her to her very soul. She couldn't help wanting to stay like this forever, feeling his love encompass her so completely. She also couldn't help wondering if she would lose more of her memories than just those with Michael. Her arms lay over his, her hands covered his, and her head rested just below his chin.
Roselinde closed her eyes, and filled her mind and heart full of her beloved Celeborn. The decision had been made, and she wouldn't take it back. All she could do was hope that they could erase Michael's very existence from her mind and nothing else.
"I promised her we would at least try," Este said a little more harshly than she intended.
"Why would you do such a thing?" Manwe asked, his voice rising a little. "You know it is risky to even be doing this much. I was lucky to succeed with Michael's mind without turning his brain into a gelatinous mass."
"But with the three of us, surely we could do it without causing harm to Roselinde. She asked, no pleaded, to be rid of him completely. I think we should grant her this."
Manwe sighed. Este argued her point well, and he felt he owed Roselinde this reprieve. With the three of them working together, it should be easier and less harmful. At best, Roselinde would only be dizzy with the after-effects, unlike Michael's painful headache. What worried him more was the fact that the memories were too embedded in her mind to remove successfully. Not only that, but it could eliminate other memories. Could they risk that? Could they all live with the consequences if something went wrong? He paced off a few steps and then returned, considering the options. In the end, he decided to go ahead with the more extensive procedure.
"Let us get this done," he reluctantly agreed. "But, if at any time I feel things begin to take a turn for the worse, we will stop."
"Yes, my Lord." Both Varda and Este bowed their heads, and then Este went to the door.
"Please bring Roselinde to us," she politely ordered the messenger, watching him as he walked swiftly down the hall and out of sight.
When the messenger came, he asked for only Roselinde. Celeborn let her go, but found it hard to not follow them. He wanted to be there with her, for her, so that she would know he was there and would not leave her alone. He trusted the Valar; he knew they would not harm her or let anything happen to her, but it still didn't soothe his fear for her. What if, Eru forbid, anything went wrong? What if they removed more than they should? The rational side of his mind told him the Valar would not let that happen, and that he should trust them. Going to the bed, he sat down and tried to calm himself, but ended up counting the minutes instead.
Standing in a darkened room, lit only by a few white candles, Roselinde held a small crystal ball in her hands. A tiny pinpoint of light radiated from the center of it, and she felt it quivering as if it were alive. The tiny vibrations passed up through her arms, somehow warming her even though the room around her was chilly. She stood in the perfect center of the room, and in front of her was Este, and one either side and just behind her, stood Manwe and Varda. Just like in the room with the large glowing orb, she heard a low humming that filled the room, yet wasn't loud at all. Taking her eyes from the sphere in her hands, she looked up nervously at Este.
"Do not fear, my child. It will be over soon, and you will be back with your beloved."
Roselinde nodded, unable to say anything. She watched as the three joined hands and a faint, white aura surrounded them. At Manwe's gentle command, she closed her eyes and emptied her mind of all thought. It took some doing, as she couldn't help thinking about Celeborn and how much she loved him, but she did it. Though her eyes were firmly closed, she could tell it was growing brighter around her. The ball in her hands grew warmer, almost hot, but still she held on. Roselinde felt the light as it surrounded her, calming her, filling her with overwhelming peace. Her breathing was deep and even, almost like she was sleeping, yet she was still awake. After a few minutes, she felt her feet leave the ground. She was floating! The urge to open her eyes was great, but she squeezed them shut against the incandescent light around her.
"With the peace of Iluvatar and the Valar within you Roselinde Carroll, we ask that you now think of Michael Esquire. Only Michael and no one else."
Doing as she was told, she felt three hands lay gently on her head as she dredged up memories of her past with Michael. She remembered meeting him, laughing with him, comforting him, and loving him; giving him her heart though she knew he was married and would always stay that way. There were vivid memories of walking through parks and lying together on a blanket watching the clouds float by. Most vivid were the nights she spent having sex with him in a hotel room after a clandestine rendezvous at the diner a block away from his job. How could she have ever thought he was the best she ever had? How could she have fallen in love with a creep like Michael Esquire? Concentrating, she relived each memory, even those of her rape, and felt no shame in them. There was no regret either. At last, she was done, and Roselinde heard three voices rise in song. She didn't understand the words, but the three voices were soon joined by more, and there was both an overtone and undertone to complete the ethereal choir.
Her feet touched ground again, a few minutes later, and the light surrounding her dimmed. The orb she held was hotter than before, but it didn't burn her hands. Roselinde didn't feel any different than before, at least not as far as she could tell.
"Within your hands you hold the memories you seek to obliterate forever." Three voices spoke in unison, along with that eerie undertone of a deeper, fathomless voice. "Before that is done, we would know that this is your decision to do so."
"It is," she replied.
"Hold the orb out." She did as told. "When you are given the command, drop the sphere." Roselinde didn't question what would happen. Again, she was surrounded with light and song once again. "Let go of the orb, Roselinde Carroll."
Releasing the crystal ball from her hands and it shattered. In such close proximity, she should have felt the shards as they ricocheted off the stone floor, but she felt nothing. The light and song diminished, until she could only perceive darkness and silence.
"And done!" a great voice boomed all around her.
"You may open your eyes, Roselinde," Este said. Slowly she did so, and she was still in the darkened room lit only by white candles. "Did you expect to be elsewhere?" Este asked, laughter in her voice.
"I wasn't sure what to expect, my Lady. My best friend Eden is the true believer in magic."
"And you are not?" Again, she heard laughter. "Tell me, Roselinde, what do you remember of Michael Esquire?"
"Who, my Lady?" There was no reply, and Roselinde didn't ask anything further. But mentioning Eden brought another question to her mind. "My Lady? Is it possible for me to speak with Eden? I want to speak with her and make sure she was able to take care of my affairs."
"Do you wish to return?" Manwe asked, sounding rather intrigued.
"No, my Lord. I just want to speak with her again. I miss her."
"We will see what we can do. But for now, you need to rest."
"I feel perfectly fine," Roselinde assured them, taking a step forward. But the room had other ideas, and the floor tilted underneath her. Strong arms caught her before she could fall in a disgraceful heap on the floor.
"I will take you back to your room," Manwe said, lifting her as if she were a mere feather in his arms. Roselinde definitely heard laughter in his voice.
Celeborn gave up counting minutes and was pacing around the room, counting steps. He was never this nervous, even when Celebrian was being born. No word had come to him about Roselinde. Not one little word to reassure him she was safe. When the door opened revealing Manwe with Roselinde in his arms, Celeborn had to keep himself from rushing to them. The Elder King and Lord of all the Valar carried his beloved to the bed and laid her down. Then he turned, smiled at him, and left quietly. Only then did Celeborn rush anywhere, and it was directly to Roselinde's side.
"What happened? Are you alright?"
"I'm fine, beloved. I'm only a little dizzy, that's all."
"You are not hurt?"
"Not at all. Now, will you stop looking as if I'm about to shatter into a million pieces and kiss me?"
He didn't need to be told twice. Gently taking her face in his hands, he bent to kiss her with all the love in his heart. And he felt her love returned to him as she returned the kiss. They lost rack of time before they had to break the kiss and breathe. Leaning back against the pillows, Roselinde closed her eyes and was asleep within minutes. Relieved beyond all measure that she was safe and sound, Celeborn remained seated and watched her sleep peacefully for the first time in weeks.
It was well past midnight when she awoke. The room was dark, save for the vague light of the moon and stars. It was only a sliver of a moon, a fingernail moon she recalled her mother calling it that in her childhood, but it still gave off light. Roselinde breathed deeply, and she smelled the familiar fragrance of Celeborn. He must have lain down beside her while she was sound asleep. His arm was wrapped loosely over her waist, his body fit against hers, and his deep breathing as he slept was so calming that she wanted to fall asleep again. But she was too awake now, though she didn't have the heart to move away. Instead, Roselinde snuggled closer to him and waited for him to wake up.
His arm tightened around her waist. She smiled, knowing she wouldn't have to wait long.
"Sleep well, my love?" she asked him.
"I did. What about you?"
"I slept perfectly."
Celeborn remained silent and lifted himself up on his elbow to look at her. The movement caused her to roll on her back, and the top of her dress was lower than it was earlier. If it went any lower, he would be looking at her bare breasts. Not that that wasn't a bad thing, really. Her cleavage was enough to set his heart racing and other part of him to become aroused. Moving his hand slowly up her body, Celeborn was sorely tempted to pull the top of her dress down the rest of the way. And judging by the look in her eyes, Roselinde wouldn't have minded in the least bit if he did.
A knock on the door prevented him from following through, and they both sighed with annoyance. Rising up so that they were both sitting when the door opened, they greeted Este pleasantly.
"I hope you two slept well?"
"Yes, my Lady," Roselinde answered. "It felt like I haven't slept this well in weeks." Este smiled kindly.
"We have made contact with your world, and Eden is waiting to speak to you."
Roselinde cried out and practically jumped off the bed. She was halfway to the door when she turned back and pulled Celeborn off the bed to follow her. More than anything, she wanted Eden to meet him, and she silently wished her best friend would approve, even though Roselinde knew she did. Este led them out of the room and down the hall. They were back in the room with the giant crystal ball, and it glowed softly. Within it was Eden's face, and she was smiling with amazement.
"Eden!" Roselinde cried, holding herself back from embracing the big ball. "Eden, I'm so glad to see you!"
"I'm glad to see you too, Roz," Eden's voice sounded tinny, but that didn't matter. "This is wonderful! I was just thinking about you and… and one of my crystal balls started glowing. I heard a voice telling me not to be afraid, and that you wanted to talk to me." If Eden could smile any wider, Roselinde though her face would break. "This is so incredible…"
"Were you able to take care of everything?"
"Oh! Yes, I got all your bills paid, and sold most of your furniture. The new couple that lives in your apartment bought the rest. I've wanted to thank you for the money for weeks now. It's helped me quite a lot with my own finances, and I'm planning on taking a vacation to the Caribbean soon!"
"That sounds lovely!" Roselinde said warmly. "When are you going?"
"I don't know yet, but I've gone to the travel agent and I have a ton of brochures…"
"What about my parents, Eden? Did they understand?" Eden's smile faded a little, but she nodded.
"I explained it the best that I could, but I think what they don't understand is not seeing you again. If there's anyway for you to…"
Roselinde looked up at Este, pleading silently that maybe she could see her parents and explain her disappearance to them. The expression on the Lady's face wasn't very reassuring. It might be something to ask for later, but Roselinde knew she'd already asked too much. This meeting with Eden was pushing the limits, and she didn't need anyone to tell her that. Calming herself down, she returned her gaze to Eden.
"I don't think I can. Look, Eden, please keep in touch with them. I'm not asking you to take my place, but maybe you being there will be a gentle reminder that I'm alive and okay."
"I will. Oh! Jessica has wanted to apologise for being so angry with you that day. It wasn't a good day for her."
"You tell her that it was the best day for me, and that she doesn't have to apologise for anything. What did she say about the money?"
"For the first time since I've known her, Roz, she was speechless. You should've seen her face!"
"I'm happy for you both. Now, before I run out of time, I want you to meet someone." Eden's eyes widened and her smile returned when Celeborn stepped forward. "Eden, I want you to meet Celeborn." He bowed respectfully, and returned the smile. Neither of them said anything, but Roselinde could tell Eden was about to burst.
"You've made her the happiest woman ever, Celeborn," Eden said after a while. "You do know that, don't you?"
"I do indeed, my lady. I do indeed. I am honored to meet you, Eden."
"I am honored to meet you too, Celeborn." Giggling, Eden dipped a quick curtsy. Roselinde laughed and wrapped her arms around his waist. They talked a while longer, and then the sphere began to cloud.
"Before I can't see you anymore, I want you two to kiss. I know it sounds silly, but I can't help it. I won't get to see the wedding, or be there for you when you need me."
Wiping away the tears she hadn't realised she was crying, Roselinde laughed softly and turned to Celeborn. He bent to kiss her tenderly, as if it were at their wedding and in front of family and friends. They both heard a happy sigh coming from Eden, and ended the kiss in time to say their goodbyes. Thanking Este, Celeborn put his arm around Roselinde and led her from the room, walking down the hallway and out of the meetinghouse. It was time to go 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.