12. The Most Difficult of Subjects
A week later…
Despite her mother's insistence on extensive preparations for the betrothal ceremony, Cellinn felt the day dragged by. She chafed at such things as smoothing oils over the skin on her feet, when she would not even be removing her slippers this eve. Such things were for her binding, not the betrothal, and even then, she doubted Legolas would be looking much at her feet!
"Cellinn? Do I wish to know where your thoughts have strayed, child?" her mother asked with gentle amusement. "You have turned as pink as your gown!"
Oh why could she not hide her feelings like Legolas did? She could feel the warmth extending from her face to her ears and down her neck to her chest. There were somethings she just did not wish to contemplate at this time, and the physical joining with her beloved was one of them. It aroused such strange feelings within her: curiosity, excitement, embarrassment…fear. No, she would not ponder such disturbing thoughts now. There would be time for that later — much, much later.
Poor Legolas. They would have to broach this subject eventually, and she feared she could not for some time. But first things first! Tonight she would place her hand in his, and they would exchange gifts to seal their promises. A quick glance at her mother assured her that nothing had been forgotten. Eitheliel carried a bundle wrapped carefully in linen and tied with string. Her gift to Legolas, made by her own hands as custom dictated, entailed a tapestry depicting a certain tree carved with their initials.
She wondered about his gift to her. He had painted her portrait for the Gallery, but he could not present that to her; it must remain where it hung. What else could he have made for her? Even though they had known each other most of their lives, the depth of her beloved became more and more apparent, and she gladly realized there were still many secrets to learn of him. And that only led her back to her earlier thoughts and caused the heat to spread through her again.
"Cellinn!" Eitheliel laughed. "Child, it will not do to arrive in such a state for one's betrothal. For your binding, yes, but not for this."
"Naneth, I cannot help it! This is the first step and then…then…"
"And then you will discover there is nothing to fear, and much to be thankful for." Her mother lightly rubbed her back as they stepped into the main part of their dwelling where her father awaited them.
"Is this princess mydaughter?"
Cellinn grinned at Angalar's standard reaction to seeing her dressed so formally. Only this time, his words gave her pause. Princess? It was a good thing her father had quick reflexes; he caught her as her knees buckled.
"I don't think I can do this," she whispered as he helped her to a chair where she sank gratefully into the cushion.
"Oh yes you can!" Eitheliel exclaimed. "We have not gone through all this planning for you to back out at this point!"
Glancing up through the curls around her face, Cellinn gave her mother a dry look. "Yes, it would not do to upset yourplans, now would it, Naneth?"
"Cellinn." There was a warning in her father's voice.
She immediately felt chagrined and ashamed. "I'm sorry, Naneth. I didn't mean it. I'm just…nervous."
Angalar pulled a chair over and sat facing her, taking her hands in his. "My little filly, it is normal to be nervous! But for you, I suspect more so. I think too often you forget just whoyou fell in love with. I could not have chosen a more honorable man to be your husband, but he is also a prince of this realm. You keep forgetting this."
She gave him a lopsided grin and nodded. "When one has been chased by frogs, snakes, and beetles by said nobleman, one forgets he is also a prince." She sobered. "I came to that realization the day he asked me to marry him. I met my prince that day, and…Adar, it frightens me! Who am I to be his wife? Why me? What if I do something stupid? Embarrass him?"
"Why did he choose you? Because he loves you — you! I do not believe any other has ever turned his head."
Cellinn laughed at that. "Then you do not know him like I do, Adar. During his adolescent years, many of the young ladies 'turned his head' as you put it, especially Ninglorwen." She ignored the roll of his eyes and continued. "In fact, I think I was the only one not to catch his eye in such a fashion. I was just his friend." She bit her lip and blinked back a sudden rush of tears. "I so wanted him to see me that way, too, but he never did, not until…not until I pushed him out of my life."
Eitheliel snorted and moved to wrap an arm around her daughter's shoulders. "He had that coming, dear. And much good came of it, though at times I wished to shake you!" She smiled. "I think what your father means is that it is time for you to accept that youare Legolas's princess. And you are worthy of such a title. You will do well by each other. It is why we so readily agreed to this binding."
Her father nodded. "Can you see any of the other ladies being married to him?"
Something rose up within her then, causing her to flush but not with embarrassment. "No! He is mine."
He grinned at her. "As you are his. Nothing will change that, Cellinn, unless you allow it. And you may not realize it, but you have been trained for this over the years. I cannot see you acting in a foolish manner or causing him any embarrassment. You have all the grace and manners of one who was born a princess."
A slow suspicion began to grow in Cellinn's mind. "What do you mean, I was trained for this?"
Her mother's arm tightened around her. "He means we — your father and I as well as the king and queen — saw this coming from the time you were children. We discussed it long ago, and made sure you were properly groomed for the title. We decided if you children chose otherwise, we would stay silent and let you go your own way. And for awhile, I will not deny we feared that would be the case. But sometimes parents just know these things." A graceful finger tipped her chin up and she looked into laughing, but loving blue eyes so like her own. "When you have a daughter of your own, you will understand. This was not forced on you, only foreseen. So you need have no fear, my daughter."
The explanation released the dam of emotion she had been holding back and she began to weep, in relief. She could do this. She really did have the necessary skills to be Legolas's wife. She just needed to employ them! "Thank you, Adar, Naneth. I feel so much better now."
"Then why are you crying?" She looked up through her tears to see her father looking genuinely confused. "I will never understand females."
This brought giggles from both Cellinn and her mother. "Oh, Ada, I am just happy." She leaned forward into strong arms that welcomed her.
"Oh my little filly. What will I do without you? Hmmm?"
"I'm not going anywhere just yet. It will be some time before we hold the actual binding."
Both her parents laughed, and the sound of it caused Cellinn to feel alarmed.
"If you think that young prince of yours has any plans of waiting, you are the one who doesn't know him very well!" Angalar remarked through his laughter.
"If I am not ready, he will not push me."
His grin totally disarmed her. "Oh, dear daughter, I fear Legolas's patience nears its end. If your mother would not make me sleep in the cellar, I would wager you will be wed before the first fall of snow!"
"Oh," Eitheliel gasped, "but that is not enough time! We have a dress to make and arrangements, and she will wish for at least the flowers of spring, if not of late summer!"
Cellinn just smiled, still held within the circle of her father's arms, as her parents began debating her future nuptials. Legolas would give her all the time she needed, she felt sure of it. Now, if only she could find a way to explain to him just whyshe wished to wait.
The betrothal ceremony would be a small and quiet affair. The formal announcement on the morrow would be followed by an elaborate feast and include the entire court. For now, Legolas felt content with just being here, in his mother's garden, standing before the wall of climbing wild roses as he waited for his betrothed.
Unlike their Noldor cousins, the Sindar did not exchange betrothal rings or need to wait an entire year before they wed, for which Legolas felt very grateful. With so many of their people lost at Dagorlad only a few centuries ago, the joining of houses through marriage and the begetting of children had become highly encouraged. Most of the formality concerning binding had been discarded, not that the Silvan folk put much stock in formality anyway. Legolas and Cellinn could marry simply by becoming one in body and spirit, but he wished to follow the customs of his ancestors, his grandfather's traditions, something not even his own father had done.
And so here he waited, with only his family gathered near him for the joining of their house with that of his father's chief advisor. He shifted impatiently from foot to foot, his formal robes heavy against his skin. Surely they could begin soon? Casting a glance at his mother, he asked, "Naneth, does it usually take so long? Sundown has come and gone."
His mother smiled and stepped closer to him, drawing him into a warm, comforting embrace. "Not until the rising of the first star, Legolas. You know we await Gil-Estel."
"But it's taking so long!" he complained.
His father and brother laughed. "It only seems so, Legolas," Thranduil assured him, moving to stand on his other side. His father's strong arms wrapped about both his mother and himself, and Legolas nestled between his parents, feeling loved and secure and suddenly, very young.
"Adar, what if I do not make her happy?"
Again, his father chuckled. "Legolas, there will be times when life is not pleasant. There will be times when you and Cellinn will argue and fight; it has always been thus. But you will, as always, forgive each other, and I can assure you, once wed, making up is much more fun!"
The queen reached behind them and smacked Thranduil on the backside, much to Legolas's amusement. Arandur snorted, but Minuialwen blushed, placing a hand on her slightly swollen belly, caressing the life within. Legolas grinned as he realized he now knew the secret of his brother's surprise. They had argued...and made up. But apparently neither Arandur nor Minuialwen had bothered to tell the other they wished for a child, and so, the conception had taken them both by surprise.
The sound of the door to the garden opening drew his thoughts back to the more important matters at hand. He gulped as his parents stepped back to their places just behind him. Looking anxiously down the garden path, he held his breath, then gasped as Cellinn appeared in a vision of soft pink and ivory silk.
It was time.
Legolas sat back on the bench and tilted his head up to look at the stars. His parents strolled hand in hand further down the garden path. Their voices drifted back to him, fading as they drew further away. He shook his head. Even now, his father had strange ideas about chaperonage, yet he and Cellinn were given plenty of space.
A warm weight settled back against his chest, and he wrapped his arms around his betrothed. The ceremony had been perfect, the feast exciting and the congratulations hearty. It had been a long hard road to arrive here, happy and content. He had no misconceptions that life would be easy or without discord, but he would not have it any other way.
He tilted his head down so his cheek rested against her hair. "Hmmm?"
"I cannot believe we are betrothed," she whispered.
"Regret it already?" he asked as he nuzzled her ear.
Cellinn laughed. "No. No regrets, except maybe how long it took us to realize our feelings for one another." She tipped her chin up to meet his kiss, then settled back snugly in his arms.
Perfect. She fit perfectly. He grinned to himself as he thought of the future, shifting as he became a bit uncomfortable. "I was thinking…"
"Hmmm?" She leaned her head against his shoulder.
"Would the Winter Solstice be too soon?" He thought of his room smelling of evergreen and spices, a fire roaring in the hearth, his wife naked in his bed…. His wife!
"Too soon for what?" She stiffened against him, causing his pleasant dream to fade.
"To wed, of course." He frowned as she pulled from his embrace.
"So soon?" she whispered, scooting to the other side of the bench.
Legolas felt his heart sink. After all the time he had waited, she still was not ready to wed? But no, he had seen the exuberance in her eyes when he asked her to marry him. He glanced to her and noted she was trembling. What was it about their wedding that could upset her so? Nothing would change between them, except Cellinn would move into his rooms…into his bed. He gulped.
"Cellinn? What is it? What's wrong?"
"Nothing. It's just, it will take time to make all the arrangements, make my dress, and there are the flowers…"
She grasped for reasons to put off their wedding? But instead of anger, he felt concern. There was more to this than what she babbled on about, and they needed to discuss it. "Your mother could have your dress made in less than a month. Mymother could have all the arrangements made in the same amount of time. Solstice is almost three months away."
She slipped from the bench and began wandering the garden, not looking at him or saying anything. It was so unlike her, Legolas thought. Cellinn always spoke her mind with him.
Unless she was afraid.
He stood and went to her, coming up behind her to still her movements with his arms around her waist. She shuddered beneath his touch, tried to pull away, but he tightened his hold. A sob escaped her and something wet fell onto his hand.
Slowly he turned her around. Tears streaked her cheeks, and he lifted one hand to wipe them away. "You're afraid." It was not a question, but she nodded, leaning against him and laying her head against his shoulder. Legolas sighed, running his hands over her hair in an attempt to calm her. "Oh, love. What is it you fear? I thought you were happy about becoming my wife?"
He frowned, not understanding. "Then what are you afraid of?" The truth hit him with a force that left his heart pounding. "Sharing my bed?"
She hiccupped, turned her face away, and pulled from his arms, retreating from him. For a moment, he could only watch her go in disbelief, his feet frozen in place. But they had done enough running from each other. It was time to discuss even the most difficult of subjects, although for Legolas, their binding was a source of joy. He did not understand her fear of it, but he would try, if she would talk to him.
Cellinn had made it almost to the door of the garden when he caught up to her and his arms slid around her waist once more, drawing her back against him.
"Don't run away, he whispered against her ear, sending a shiver down her spine.
"Shhh…" He turned her around in his arms and when she met his eyes she was taken back by the tenderness in his gaze. He reached up to stroke her cheek, wiping away the trails of tears. "It's alright, Cellinn. We can talk about this. You don't have to be embarrassed."
She swallowed back the irritation that rose within her breast at such a comment. It would be too easy to fall into arguing with him. They had come too far for such childishness. Taking a deep breath, she continued to hold his gaze. "I cannot help that I feel embarrassment over such things, Legolas. And it's not just that. It frightens me, just talking about it!"
A frown creased his brow, and she could see him trying so very hard to understand. He shook his head. "I don't understand why you are afraid. Can you explain?"
Cellinn dropped her eyes. She did not quite understand it herself, so explaining it would be difficult. "I – I don't know. It's not a single thing that I can name. I suppose I fear losing myself, surrendering everything until I'm no longer Cellinn, just your wife." She felt as surprised at her words as he looked when she glanced up at him.
He blinked. "I don't want you to lose yourself. I want you, Cellinn."
Her heart leapt at those words and some of her fear left her. She pressed closer to him, raising her hands to rest on his shoulders. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "It's silly to be afraid."
But he shook his head, one corner of his lips drawing up into a crooked smile. "It's not silly to be a little afraid of the unknown, love. There are times I fear I'll make a poor husband…" He hushed her when she tried to protest. "No, listen. I've never been a husband before. I'm bound to make mistakes, to hurt you without meaning to, and that scares me. But I won't run from it. I promise you, I'll learn from my mistakes and be the best husband I can be for you…" His grin widened, showing his dimple, and his eyes sparkled. "Because I love you, Linnaew."
Her heart fluttered in her chest as it always did when he called her by the childhood pet name he had given her. He sobered and caressed her with his fingers splayed over her waist. "That isn't all that frightens you, though. Is it?"
She shook her head and bit her lip. "No." Her arms slipped down to rest against his chest and fighting tears once more, she lowered her eyes.
A firm but gentle hand raised her chin so she had to meet his eyes. "I swear to you I will be gentle and do all in my power not to hurt you. I want to express my love for you in every way possible — to marvel at your every curve, feel our spirits become one…."
Cellinn's heart began to race and a strange heat burned within her when he spoke with such passion. For the moment, her fears melted away with the seriousness of his vow, and she managed a wobbly smile. It was not easy for her, but she would be brave. "In that case, Winter Solstice will be fine."
His eyes took on a heated glow as he lowered his head and captured her lips in a kiss that took her breath away, and gave her hope that there was truly nothing to fear.
To Be Continued…
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.