11. Her Reaction
It was with much nervousness that Cellinn entered the large hall the next morning. She stood towards the back of the room, rather than near the front as befitted her status. She tried to remain as inconspicuous as possible, hoping Legolas would not notice she was there. It was no longer about supporting him, she realized, but about finding out what he was trying to hide from her. The thought that he could do such a thing stung her heart to the core. The fact that everyone entering the hall seemed cheerful, and there was no sense of impending doom puzzled her the most. It seemed it was just another trivial day of court. So why was Legolas trying to keep her away?
She noted Legolas did not enter when the nobles or even the king's family came into the room, and that caused her mind to wildly grasp for explanations. Was he perhaps to be brought into the room bound, as a prisoner to be punished? It was ridiculous, and she knew it, but her imagination frantically sought for possibly answers. She closed her eyes and took deep breaths, wishing it would just be over soon.
She opened them when the herald called for any petitions to be brought before the court. Oh, why am I here?
Legolas waited outside the doors to his father's court, nervous and excited all at once. Normally, he would be inside during the opening proceedings, but having a petition, he needed to first be announced. Taking a deep breath, Legolas glanced down at himself one last time, noting that what he could see still remained flawless: Deep green trousers were tucked into dark brown boots. His silvery grey tunic was belted at his waist with an elaborately tooled, brown leather belt. Instead of formal robes, his shoulders were covered with an embroidered, dark-grey mantle, which hung to below his knees, and he could feel the intricate silver circlet binding his unbraided hair from his face. His mother had assured him he looked very princely. He grinned. He was ready for this day — for this petition, required by the king among those belonging to his court.
The ordinary folk of the Greenwood could marry freely without consent of the king, but the king's vassals – the nobility in his court – needed permission. Such was rarely withheld, but at times, forbidding poor matches saved the king much trouble later. Internal strife among his advisors and their families was not something beneficial to Thranduil, and thus, he did his best to prevent it.
The herald exited through the great doors and glanced at him with a raised brow. "Your highness?" Legolas nodded to show he was ready, and the herald turned back to the court and called in a loud voice, "His highness, Legolas Thranduilion, Prince of the Greenwood."
Legolas strode up the aisle, confident and excited, towards the dais where his father sat on his wooden throne, his mother seated at his side. His nervous jitters had passed, and he was left with just a sense of all being as it should be, at least, until a movement caught his eye. He glanced over to find Cellinn among those in attendance. His stride faltered, and he nearly panicked. But it was too late to change the day of his petition. Pulling himself up straight he met his father's eyes and continued forward.
Upon reaching the dais, Legolas bowed, and then dropped to one knee, his mantle coming to rest around him, draping the floor as it surrounded his form. He bowed his head respectfully, but broke protocol with a brief, beseeching glance up at the throne. He mouthed, "Adar, please?" and motioned with his eyes towards the attendees.
Thranduil's eyes scanned the crowd, widened, but then he smiled encouragingly at his son. Legolas lowered his gaze to where his hands rested on his thigh; he was the perfect picture of a petitioner in the king's court, as he waited quietly for the king to acknowledge him.
Instead, Thranduil spoke to another. "Lady Cellinn, come forward."
Legolas worked hard to keep his eyes down, trying to ignore the tension he now felt in the room. He heard the rustle of fabric, a few muttered whispers, and then he felt her standing not far from him to his left. Moving just his eyes he watched her curtsy, her eyes down, not looking at the king.
Thranduil stood up and stepped down off the dais, so that he was standing before her. Legolas could see his father's boots, and he hoped this would be quick. Speaking in a quiet voice, so as to be heard by only Cellinn and Legolas, Thranduil addressed her. "Child, did the prince not request that you avoid today's proceedings?"
Cellinn whispered back, "He did, my lord."
"And do you not trust him enough to respect his request?"
"I…. I could not help myself. I felt something boded ill for him, or that he was hiding something from me."
Legolas felt his heart twinge in pain at hearing her words. If there was any other way, he would have taken it.
"Child, I give you my word that the prince will make known to you all that happens here, but for now, it would be best for all if you removed yourself from my hall. Trust that Prince Legolas loves you enough to have your best interests in mind."
Legolas glanced up as her eyes flitted down to him; they gazed at each other a moment, then Cellinn looked back at the king.
"Yes, my lord."
And then she was gone. Legolas heard the doors close after her and the whispers that followed as those present mused over what could have been said. Thranduil retook his seat, and Legolas felt the king's regard fall on him.
"Prince Legolas, stand and tell Us of your petition."
Legolas heard amusement in the king's voice. He stood, feeling as if a great weight had been lifted from him. He met his father's eyes, grinned and mouthed, "Thank you."
"My lord, according to your law, which states that if any among your court wish to wed, the petition must first be brought before the court, I hereby request the hand of Lady Cellinn, daughter of Lord Angalar."
There was dead silence for a moment in the room, then a chorus of giggles, whispers and chuckles as those seated realized what had taken place. Someone called out, "It's about time!"
"Indeed," Thranduil laughed. "Has the lady's father agreed to this request?"
Legolas grinned. "He has, my lord, and is present to give his support to the petition."
"Lord Angalar," Thranduil's voice boomed in the room, "approach with your lady wife." Legolas grinned as Cellinn's parents came to stand at his right before the dais. Thranduil's expression, full of mirth, turned serious. "This young man requests the hand of your daughter in marriage. Do you give your consent to such a joining?"
"Gladly!" Angalar said, "Provided his parents also agree to such a match, of course."
"Ah, yes. Prince Legolas, have your parents consented to this union?" Legolas looked at the king and blinked. Thranduil leaned forward and whispered, "Yes, they do, my lord."
The crowd laughed, and Legolas flushed, but following protocol repeated the words, much to everyone's amusement.
The king then looked over to his wife, seated by his side. "Come my dear, we must do this correctly." She smiled and stood, walking to Legolas's side and wrapping her arm around his waist. Thranduil looked at those gathered, then at Cellinn's parents. "Gladly do we approve of this union, and as already said, it is long overdue."
But Angalar shook his head. "Nay, my lord, our daughter was not previously ready for such a union, and we would not have agreed had he approached us sooner. Prince Legolas's patience and love for her has assured us he does not rush headlong into something without much thought."
"You did not have to live with him," Thranduil grumbled, just low enough for only the five of them to hear. Legolas frowned at his father, and the king continued with the proceeding amid chuckles from the others. "Prince Legolas, have you asked Lady Cellinn for her consent in this matter?"
"Nay, my lord," Legolas responded. "I wished to have the king's approval before pursuing the matter further." Many members of the court requested permission to wed after they had discussed marriage between themselves, but he had wished to have everything in order before he approached Cellinn. He never doubted — well, not really — that his petition would be approved, but he would still have all the formalities out to the way before he asked the lady herself.
"A wise choice, young one. You have Our approval to pursue this course. Go now and make your request known to the lady." Thranduil looked up at those witnessing the granting of a marriage petition. "And no one present is to speak of the happenings here until or unless a betrothal is announced." Legolas was grateful for this condition the king always granted those who had yet to speak to their beloved. It removed the possibility of someone mentioning anything to the lady before her suitor had a chance to speak himself.
Striding from the hall, Legolas stepped out of the doors that swung wide for him, a grin nearly cracking his face. All he had to do now was implement the rest of his plan and hopefully within a couple of hours, he would be betrothed to his Cellinn!
He looked up at the sound of a voice and found Minuialwen waiting for him; but her expression concerned him. "Minuialwen?"
"You look very handsome, brother." She stepped forward and straightened his collar. "I assume by your grin that your petition was granted?" He nodded and would have spoken all about it, but she placed a finger over his lips. "I am happy for you. But now I think you need to explain all this to a certain lady who is just around the corner sitting on a bench." She leaned up to whisper in his ear, "She is crying, Legolas."
All his joy drained from him at those words. He had expected Cellinn to be irritated with him, most likely angry after she was denied seeing the proceedings for herself, but tears? Cellinn was not a woman given to them easily. A lump rose in his throat, and he tried to swallow it down. With a nod to Minuialwen, he stepped around the corner and saw his beloved seated on a bench alongside the wall where petitioners often awaited the herald's call. Her head was bowed, a handkerchief was squeezed tightly in her hand, and she sniffed as her shoulders shuddered.
He was kneeling in front of her before he even realized he had moved. "Beloved…"
Cellinn looked up at the term of endearment, startled as she had not heard anyone approach, so great was her remorse. And kneeling before her was a magnificent prince, resplendent in royal attire. Her heart fluttered. "My lord?" Rare did she use the term, other than teasing him, but how could she address this prince as anything else?
He sighed and took her hands in his, concern written clearly on his features. "Oh, Linnaew. Forgive me. I did not mean to bring you to tears." He released one hand to wipe the wetness from her cheeks. "I thought you would be angry."
She smiled tremulously, "I was, but then I saw how horrid I had been. Oh, my prince, forgive me for causing you pain!" And she retrieved her hands to cover her face as more tears fell. And then arms were surrounding her, as a body lowered itself onto the bench beside her.
"I do not think you have ever referred to me as your prince before, and truly meant it," he said, and there was something in his voice that caused her to look up into his face. There was a look of wonder there, and satisfaction.
"I have never truly seen it before. I always knew you were a prince of the realm, but somehow, you have never before been my prince. Now…you are."
The look of wonder on his face changed to an expression of emotion she could not name, and one corner of his mouth lifted into the crooked smile she loved so much. Then, her prince's head bowed and his lips were on hers, his fingers in her hair, and she leaned into him, her heart surging with emotion. Just as suddenly as he had kissed her, however, he pulled back.
"Come," he said, "this is not the place for this." He stood, and taking her hand, lifted her to her feet, tucking her fingers into the crook of his elbow. "Walk with me. There is something I would have you see."
"Alright," she agreed, using her free hand to try to fix her mussed hair. He chuckled and stopped to help her, declaring her presentable after a moment. "Where are we going?" she asked.
"Somewhere where we can talk without the entire kingdom watching," he informed her with a smirk.
She then noticed Ninglorwen watching them with a severe frown. Cellinn blushed, feeling very uncomfortable at being caught in such an embrace by that lady. She followed her prince with no hesitation, her heart fluttering when she remembered the look in his eyes right before he had kissed her.
The fluttery feelings turned to confusion when he led her to the Hall of Portraits. It was not the actual name of the room, but rather, what it was called by most people due to housing portraits of the king's family. A guard stood at attention outside the door, and this caused her to pause a moment, as she had never seen a guard there before. But Legolas just nodded at the guard, opened the door and ushered her in. Her confusion turned to curiosity.
The room was fairly large and held small groupings of furniture in several places. The walls were graced with portraits, ranging from miniatures to life-sized, beginning with a large framed painting of Oropher, which one saw on the opposite wall as soon as they entered through the only door to the room. This first painting began a chronological showcase of Legolas's family as one moved to the right: a large relief of Oropher with his bride, some of the late queen's family, and portraits of the first princes of Greenwood as elflings. The next wall showed more of the young princes, Thranduil and his older brothers, as they grew to adulthood, along with some scattered pictures of their parents. The final painting along that wall was of the feast celebrating the marriage of Thranduil to then Princess Eirien.
But it seemed to be the wall in which the door was located that held Legolas's interest, for he led her to the center of the room and turned her to face it. He stood perpendicular to her, watching her, but she turned to face him.
"Why are we here? Legolas, I…" A finger was placed over her lips to shush her, and she was turned back to face the wall, which began with a portrait of the king holding a tiny baby Arandur, a large grin on Thranduil's face.
"I want to show you something," he told her.
She frowned. She knew every painting in this room. The room held some of her earliest memories of the prince standing beside her. Just being here caused her to remember…
Their mothers were seated having tea, while she played with a rag doll on the floor, and a sulking prince sat on a settee swinging his feet. When she looked up at him, he stuck his tongue out at her.
"Legolas…" a warning sounded from his mother. "Do you wish to be punished for longer?"
Ducking his head, he shook it. "No, Nana. I'll be good."
"Very well, you have another fifteen minutes and then you may play with Cellinn if you wish."
He made a face. "But she's a girl!"
"How observant of you, my son," the queen said, rolling her eyes at Cellinn's mother, who covered her mouth with a hand, eyes twinkling.
"I big girl," Cellinn said, standing up and toddling over to Legolas. "I pay wi' you." She stood blinking in front of him with wide eyes, her doll held firmly in her arms, and her head tilted to the side.
The prince's mouth twitched. He glanced at his mother, who narrowed her eyes at him, then he looked back at Cellinn. "I'm being punished. I can't play right now."
"Why you pun'shed?" She struggled to pronounce the big word. "Were you bad, 'Galass?" she asked.
His face turned red and he lowered his head. "Never you mind," he said quietly in a voice that sounded suspiciously like a parent, and dared a glance at the women, who were now engaged in conversation and ignoring their children.
"It's aw right," Cellinn said, patting him on the knee. "I bad som'time, too. You pay 'gin soon." Then she sat at his feet with her doll and sang to him while he waited.
"You're like a songbird," he said after a time, looking both amused and irritated. "You don't shut up!"
"I sing pretty! Ada say so!" And she started another song, rocking her doll, but her eyes never left the prince, whose lips twitched and his grey eyes sparkled.
Despite his annoyance with her, when his punishment time was over, he had taught her to play "I See" using the paintings, which was why she knew every detail. Many times they had been cooped up in this room while their mothers had tea, and many times they had retreated here to play as they grew older.
"What am I to see then?" she asked confused.
"You will know when you see it," he answered with a grin.
She sighed and let her eyes roam the wall. There were random portraits of Arandur as an elfling, pictures of Legolas as a baby and small child, and a few of the whole family where Arandur and Legolas looked very bored. Formal sittings, she thought as her eyes continued to roam the wall, passing over Arandur's coming of age, Arandur in warrior garb, an adolescent Legolas looking mischievous. She sighed and glanced over at him. But he watched her, rather than looking at the wall.
"Keep looking," was all he said.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to be looking for."
"You will know," he repeated.
She continued scanning but paused as she came to a painting of just Minuialwen. This one represented her friend's betrothal to Arandur and signified her becoming a part of the family. She smiled, noting not much further over on the wall was the painting depicting them bound and smiling at one another. There were not many more paintings, she knew, as they were approaching the present. There was Legolas's coming of age, one with him dressed in warrior's guard as he entered training, and….
Legolas watched Cellinn's eyes move over the different portraits. He knew only too well what was on the wall, and only wanted to see her reaction when she found it. He was not disappointed. Her eyes moved from one of himself, and came to land on the newest portrait to grace the wall. Her expression turned from bland tolerance of his request, to confusion, and then… She gasped, eyes widening, mouth opening in shock.
He grinned and moved behind her, wrapping his arms around her middle and leaned forward to rest his cheek against hers as he allowed himself to look at where her eyes were directed. The large portrait was the one he had painted of her sitting on the bench in the garden with a backdrop of her beloved wild roses. It had turned out beautifully. Legolas enjoyed painting, and had dabbled with it since his childhood. His practice over the years had paid off with this, his masterpiece.
Then he realized she had not spoken since seeing the portrait. "Linnaew?"
There was a ragged intake of breath, and then, "You painted it." It was not a question.
Not quite knowing what to say, he instead gently turned her around in his arms so that he could look in her eyes. They were tear-filled, but full of an emotion he could not name. "Marry me?"
He almost laughed as she just bobbed her head, her eyes wide as tears overflowed down her smiling face. Then because he could no longer resist, he pressed his lips to hers and felt his heart soar. One of her hands caressed his face, wandering over to lightly trace the lower half of his earlobe. He shuddered and pulled back. "Does this mean I'm forgiven for not telling you about my petition?"
"Shut up." Her fingers buried themselves in his hair.
Legolas was all too happy to abide by her request as his lips were currently needed for pursuits other than speaking.
To Be Continued…
Author's Note: During the flashback, Legolas is 4 1/2 and Cellinn is about 19 mos. old.
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.