16. Gloriously Happy
Cellinn watched dumbfounded as people flurried about with the preparations. Everything had already been arranged for the Solstice, so with the change of plans, they had only needed a couple of days to make the final arrangements. Her mind was still spinning. She was getting married today! Even though Legolas could hardly stand.
Since the accident, Istuion had worked with Legolas using bed exercises to keep the muscles limber and prevent them from wasting, but the healer would allow no weight to be borne on the injured leg. If not for his broken ribs, Legolas could have attended the ceremony on crutches. However, with much begging, he had managed to get Istuion's permission to be carried on a litter to the hall where the ceremony would take place. He would have to sit in a chair for most of it, but during their vows, he would be allowed to stand, provided he only put weight on his good leg and had someone stand with him to hold onto for balance and support. Arandur would be that person.
And now, Cellinn stood looking in the mirror at her reflection as her mother placed the finishing touches on her wedding gown. She felt the nervousness build. This was insane! Not at all the wedding she had anticipated! But nor would it be the wedding night she had feared, she reminded herself.
Despite the fact they were exchanging vows, the consummation of their marriage would not take place any time soon. Istuion had made it quite clear to each of them that Legolas could do further harm to his knee, possibly lose all use of his leg and be permanently lame, if he did something as foolish as completing their bond before the knee had sufficiently healed. Cellinn's lips twitched as she remembered the sulky face Legolas had made at that declaration.
And her heart filled with love as she remembered his words and the love in his eyes as he said, "It matters not if we can consummate the marriage immediately or three moons from now. I will not be kept from my wife any longer. It is her company I wish to have — her love and her presence. I will wait no matter how long it takes, if only I can have her by my side always."
She knew his patience would wear thin, but she did not care. His love for her, his regard gave her such peace. They would manage it. Exchanging vows would be enough to still any wagging tongues, and allow them to be together.
Cellinn smiled at her mother in the mirror.
"Now that is the look of a young lady about to be wed to the love of her life!"
"I'm ready now," Cellinn confirmed.
A knock sounded at the door, and Angalar entered the room. Tears welled up in his eyes as he looked at her. "I cannot believe my little filly is all grown up." His voice was rough with emotion.
"I grew up many years ago, Ada. But I won't go far." She moved into his waiting arms and rested her head against his chest. "I'll always be your little filly, even when I have children of my own at my heels."
As a family, the three of them walked towards the throne room, to her destiny, her love and her prince.
She would be wed today, and as she walked, her nervousness fled.
Legolas's stomach churned in knots. While he had looked forward to this day for years, this was not really how he had wished to celebrate it. When deciding to go ahead and marry Cellinn so she could be with him, he had not thought of how humiliating it would feel to be carried to one's own wedding while lying on a litter. He must have really hit his head hard in that fall.
He felt better once he had been settled in his seat, and he gave his mother a thankful glance. It had been her idea not to allow anyone into the room until he had been settled. She had even arranged for him to be carried in through a special back entrance so the crowds would not observe him in his incapacitated state. He shifted and adjusted his formal robe a bit, wishing he could stand, and knowing he could not.
The doors were opened and the members of the court as well as many people of the Greenwood filed inside, smiling and looking joyous as they should for such an occasion. They were all seated at tables, as the wedding feast would follow the exchange of vows in the largest room in the Kings' halls, rather than outdoors as it would have had circumstances been different. Legolas withheld a sigh at the thought of being wed in the open air. There was no help for it now, but it did help to have everyone seated, not just himself.
The tables, now near bursting with people, would be pushed back after the feast to allow for the dancing — another thing Legolas had not considered when making his plans. He would not even be able to dance with Cellinn on his wedding day! He bit back another sigh.
But all his doubts and regrets fled away when his lady entered the room on her father's arm. His breath caught in his throat as his eyes locked onto hers. She was so beautiful! Had he ever told her that? He could not remember.
A squeeze to his shoulder caused him to glance beside him at Arandur. His brother bent over and whispered under his breath, "You look like you're attending a funeral, not your wedding!"
Legolas looked back at Cellinn and smiled. Her eyes sparkled, and she beamed back at him. His heart flipped over. Why, she did not even look nervous! No, she looked gloriously happy. His smile turned to a grin as she was led to the chair beside him and seated so she could look into his eyes.
Thranduil stood before them, speaking words of welcome to those assembled, but Legolas did not hear any of it. His eyes were for Cellinn alone, and she held his gaze with a hopeful expression. It was not until someone put his flute into his hands that he realized the time had come for him to play Cellinn's song. She was trying not to laugh at him for his inattention, he could tell. He smiled sheepishly, then brought the flute to his lips. He held her gaze the entire time he played, while Minuialwen sang from somewhere behind him.
The words spoke his heart, and one day he would sing them to her himself. His fingers flew over the holes in the wood, hitting each note with perfection, trilling and climbing to the end.
Tears filled Cellinn's eyes and slipped down her cheeks as the last note faded. He dropped the flute to his lap, and reached up to wipe the wet trails from her face.
And then with Arandur's help, taking care to apply no weight to his injured leg, he stood beside her and recited his vows to her, receiving hers in return — words he would hold in his heart forever.
"I, Cellinn Angalariel, vow to become your wife, before Eru and these witnesses. In love I do bind myself to thee, Legolas Thrandulion, until the World's breaking."
And then Arandur was directing him to sit down again, though Legolas wanted nothing more than to take Cellinn in his arms and kiss her right in front of everyone! Their hands were bound at the wrist symbolically, to remain tied for the duration of the feast. Then Thranduil spoke the final blessing and the people cheered.
A long table was hefted by several servants and set before them, so that Legolas did not have to be moved. The king and his family sat on Legolas's left, while Cellinn's sat to her right. With the high table now ready, Thranduil lifted a glass in toast to the newly wed couple. Cheers and laughter filled the room as servants entered with platters of steaming dishes.
It was not until the food was placed on the table that Legolas realized he had eaten nothing all day. His stomach growled, and the plate of venison before him caused his mouth to water. He reached for it, just as Cellinn reached for something else, both using the hands that were bound. They froze, glanced at each other then both glared at their joined hands, eliciting laughter from the head table and from a few who had observed their blunder among the lower tables.
Legolas looked up at his father in consternation. "Adar, what is the point of this? It seems quite…limiting."
The married couples at the table exchanged knowing glances. Thranduil explained. "It is to remind you, son that you no longer see to yourself alone, but to your wife, and she to you. Even when you desire different things, you must consider the other. And perhaps, working together, you can achieve both, though not at the same time, nor do you always get exactly what you wanted." Thranduil winked at his wife, then looked again at Legolas and Cellinn. "You may only eat with your bound hands. Keep the other in your lap."
"Oh." Legolas glanced again at their bound hands, put his left hand in his lap, and then looked up at his wife. His wife! "What were you reaching for love?" From the corner of his eye, he saw his mother and father exchange an approving look.
"The fruit compote. But…"
Legolas took her fingers in his hand and lifted them to the sparkling crystal dish. "You first. I can wait. How much do you want?"
She laughed. "I'll do it," she said, taking the spoon from his hand.
By the time he had managed to get Cellinn's plate served, the venison he had wanted so badly had disappeared. He noted both his father and Arandur had taken a large amount and frowned. Was this some sort of lesson? Probably. He sighed and told Cellinn he would like the roast fowl, though he looked longingly at the empty venison tray.
"Here," she tugged his hand over to her plate and scooped up a chunk of venison, bringing it to his mouth with her fingers. Her smile was innocent, but the light in her eyes caused heat to ignite in his belly. He took it from her, nibbling softly on her finger.
Oh why had he not waited until he was well to get married? Despite his good intentions, this would be torture!
Cellinn fed Legolas from her plate, and then he reached to help her eat. He scooped up some of the fruit compote with his fingers, and before she could duck away, he touched the sticky juice to the tip of her nose. "Hey!" She laughed, looking cross-eyed down at her nose. "Get that off!" He leaned forward as if to lick it off and she pulled back. "Don't you dare!" He grinned and reached for a napkin, wiping the stickiness off.
They fed each other until they were full, stopping to talk with their families and the occasional well wisher that stopped by the head table. Cellinn thanked a lady for a small token she had presented, then turned her head as another person approached the table.
"Rível!" Legolas called, reaching for the other's arm in a warrior's clasp. "How do you fare?"
Rível looked discomfited. "It is I who should be asking that of you, my lord. If not for you…" He glanced down, his cheeks reddening. "I owe you my life. Thank you." He bowed deeply, and when he straightened, he turned and took something from a young boy. "My brother, Faerwain," he explained as he faced them again with a smile.
Fairwain stepped forward; the wide eyes he fixed on Legolas were full of awe. "Thank you for saving Rível," he said. "I wouldn't have anyone to play with if you hadn't!"
Covering her mouth with her unbound hand, Cellinn stifled the giggle that welled up within her. She saw Legolas's lips twitch as well. "It was my honor to save one of my own. Gladly would I do it again."
Cellinn drew in a breath. While she hoped he would never be put in such a situation again, she felt proud of him. So noble, her prince.
Rível then held out a sheathed knife. The hilt was made of a white carved antler. Legolas took it with his free hand, then tugged her bound hand over so he could hold draw the blade from the leather. She saw it was engraved with protective runes. Legolas ran a finger over the metal, then glanced up, inclining his head. "Thank you."
Soon, most of the tables were pushed back and the musicians prepared to play. The head table stayed in place for Legolas's sake, and Cellinn sat beside him as the dancing began. "You should go dance," he commented from beside her.
She turned and frowned at him. Dance while he sat here? Alone? And that look! She gazed at him, seeing the pain in his eyes.
"I won't dance while you sit here alone."
He smiled, though she could tell it was forced. There was no sign of his dimple. "I can watch you at least."
"No." She reached up and stroked his cheek. "I have no wish to dance if it's not in your arms, and I shall not. Not until you can whisk me around the floor yourself." She scooted her chair closer to him so she could lay her head on his shoulder. Their bound hands settled on his right thigh, and Legolas meshed his fingers with hers.
"Thank you," he whispered into her hair.
They sat for the first few dances, comfortably settled together, watching the swirl of color. Cellinn laughed as Minuialwen's ever increasing middle kept her from dancing as closely to her husband as the princess would like, judging by the frown she gave her belly. Arandur grinned at her and reached out to caress her midsection. Their eyes locked, and the two gazed deeply into each other's eyes. Cellinn sighed. She could almost see Legolas and her in the same situation in the future.
Off to the side, something drew Cellinn's attention, and she turned her head to see what it was. Ninglorwen stood there on the fringes, glaring at her. The ire radiating from that lady was almost palpable. The lady's eyes flickered to Legolas, and Cellinn could not help herself. She lifted her head and kissed him. At first, Legolas was surprised, but he returned her kiss, drawing it out until Cellinn sighed. When she pulled back, she glanced back at Ninglorwen and smiled smugly. Then she laid her head back on Legolas's shoulder and resumed watching the dancing.
A little while later, she noticed that Legolas had begun to shift in his seat every few minutes. His left hand, the one not bound to hers, rubbed almost constantly at his knee. Lifting her head, she looked at him a moment while he continued to watch the dancing. There was a tightness around his eyes and mouth that had not been there earlier; and he held himself much more stiffly than before. Cellinn sighed. He was in pain. He needed to get back to bed where he could rest and continue to heal.
Catching Queen Eirien's eye, Cellinn motioned her over and whispered in her ear, explaining what she had noticed. That Legolas seemed unaware of their discussion said much about his condition. He sat seemingly focused on the dancing, but Cellinn knew instead that he fought to show no sign of his pain and how uncomfortable he was.
Eirien took one good look at her son and motioned to two servants set on either side of the room. As unobtrusively as possible they pulled two curtains closed, cutting off the head table from the revelry on the other side. Cellinn thought the set up was a nice touch. Legolas had too much pride to be carried from his own wedding feast with all eyes upon him. Besides, it was tradition for the couple to slip away unheeded.
He blinked as the curtain closed, and looked up at them frowning. "What did you do that for?"
Cellinn shook her head. "You should have told me how much you were hurting. It's time we left and got you back to bed."
"The only butt shall be yours in bed! Do you understand?"
His lips twitched and then he laughed. "Alright. I am tired. I hurt, and I'm more than ready to sleep with my wife."
Cellinn felt her cheeks heat at those words, but she just leaned forward and kissed him. "I'm tired myself."
The king slipped around the side of the curtain, smiling and coming to stand behind them. "That went well. Few noticed the curtain. Most are too deep in their cups or too busy dancing." He stooped and took their hands in his. "I'm very proud of you two. You learn fast. Remember this lesson," he encouraged them as he untied their bonds.
Legolas covered his mouth and yawned. Cellinn rubbed his shoulder and looked behind them for the servants who would carry Legolas back to the healing rooms. They came forward carrying the litter. Together with the king's help, they were able to get Legolas comfortable and then lifted it, making their way out a back exit.
To Cellinn's surprise, the servants carried Legolas to his rooms, rather than back to the healing ward. She looked up inquiringly at the king and queen who had accompanied them.
Eirien smiled at her and explained. "Istuion thinks Legolas has healed enough to return to his own rooms. He should be here now, preparing the bed and making sure everything you need is close at hand during the night." She looped her arm through Cellinn's, holding the two of them back as the king and the servants maneuvered the litter through the door.
"A maid also has moved your things to his rooms. I feel I must remind you, as no doubt Istuion is reminding my son, that you must not consummate this marriage until he has healed sufficiently. I know you know that, but until you share a bed with the one you love, you may not understand how difficult such an ultimatum is."
Cellinn blushed fiercely at the queen's words, but she nodded. "Thank you," she whispered. And before she knew it, she was being ushered into the room, and the king and queen were saying goodnight, taking the servants with them. The door closed behind her, leaving her alone in Legolas's sitting room.
She blinked. Now what? She glanced down at her formal gown and wondered just how she was supposed to get ready for bed without her mother's help. She could not unfasten her gown by herself! And how could she share a bed with Legolas when he was injured? She had anticipated being allowed to stay in the healing ward! Perhaps sleeping on a cot. But instead she would be sharing Legolas's rooms and his bed as his wife! She would be expected to see to his personal needs, all of them! And to help him change and changing herself in his rooms…and yet, they would not truly be bound.
Oh this would be awkward! She had known what she was getting into. Had wanted this! And yet… She sighed. Why did things always seem harder when you actually had to do them than when you just dreamed of doing them?
Squaring back her shoulders, she marched to the bedchamber and froze. Istuion was helping Legolas dress for bed. Thankfully, the healer blocked her view of Legolas's body, and she turned away and walked back to the sitting room. Well, at least she would have a reprieve from helping him change tonight. She frowned. She did not feel the least relieved about that. She felt angry! How dare they take that away from her? It was her wedding night!
She marched back into the bedchamber, over to the bed and took the nightshirt from Istuion's hands. She managed to smile sweetly. "Thank you, but I can handle this. You can go."
Istuion blinked at her and looked as if he would protest for a moment. Cellinn raised a brow and glanced at the door. The healer took the hint, pointed towards two small vials of tinctures and departed without a backwards glance.
Only then did she look down at her husband. Her husband! He was laughing at her. His eyes sparkled despite the dark circles beneath them. Thankfully, the blanket was pulled up to his waist, covering his nakedness from her eyes and sparing her at least that mortification.
"I've never seen you act as a princess before." He grinned. "I like it!"
She felt the blood leave her face. "I did?" she asked weakly. "Oh, I shouldn't have…"
"Yes, you should! You are a princess now. I was just surprised to see it. I thought it would take you longer to get comfortable issuing commands. To anyone but me that is." He winked at her.
She gave him a sardonic look, then held up his shirt. "Sleeping in this?"
He glanced down at his chest then looked back up at her. "Not unless you make me."
Her breath stilled, but she accepted the challenge and tossed the shirt over her head, causing him to laugh. "Do you know where my things are?" she asked.
He pointed to a large wardrobe that matched his across the room. "There, I assume. It wasn't in here before."
She moved to it and opened the door, finding her dresses hung neatly inside. Below them were some drawers. Opening one, she found the white silk nightgown she had sewn just for her wedding night. Pulling it out along with some undergarments, she closed the wardrobe and stood facing it a moment, wondering what she was to do now. And where were her other effects? Like her brush and comb? She reached up to touch the intricate hairstyle and sighed.
The sound of his voice in the stillness caused her to jump, and she spun around to find Legolas looking at her with a look she had never seen on him before. It was the same look she had seen her father give her mother at bedtime. She gulped, but obeyed. He patted the bed on the right side, and she sat, taking care to move the bed as little as possible.
"Closer," he urged, holding up her brush.
Her brush! "Where did you find that?"
His brows lifted and his lips twitched. "Your mother delivered it earlier today with instructions on how to take down your hair and get you out of your gown."
Cellinn gasped. She did not move any closer, suddenly feeling very shy.
Legolas took pity on her. "Once I unfasten your dress, you can take your nightgown into the bathing room," he pointed to a door she had not noticed before, "and change. There's a vanity and mirror in there, as well as the privy and bath behind the privacy screens. Then come back and I'll take down your hair for you."
Relief poured over her, and she gave him a wobbly grin. "Thank you," she whispered. He patted the bed closer to him and she scooted back so he could undo her gown. "I'll take down my hair, too," she told him, feeling more comfortable with that than his fumbling with the pins. "You can brush it out for me and braid it."
He grinned at her again. "Alright." The gown loosened in the back, and she felt a finger run down her back. She shivered and retreated to the dressing room without looking back.
It did not take her long to change and let down her hair. She ran her fingers through it to loosen the braids, staring at the door leading back to her husband's bed. What had happened to her lack of nervousness from earlier? She had no reason to fear, Cellinn reminded herself. But she did fear. She feared he would not be able to control himself, or she would hurt him somehow. She shook off the emotion. She was being silly.
Somehow climbing onto the huge bed in her nightgown and letting her husband brush her hair was not nearly as daunting as she had feared. In fact, she sighed, enjoying the feel of his hands and the brush in her hair. When he laid the brush aside, she got up and poured the tinctures into a small cup of water for him to drink. Then she put the cup aside on a small table and blew out the lanterns. After climbing under the covers, she lay staring up at the dark as close to the edge of the bed as she could manage without falling off.
"What are you doing?"
"Trying to sleep. As should you."
"Over there?" She could hear amused frustration in his voice. She grinned to herself and rolled to her side, turning her back to him.
"Where else would I sleep?" she asked innocently.
She did not budge.
Oh, he had to use that princely tone with her! She rolled over and gasped as a strong arm pulled her to his side. "There," he said, tucking her beside him. "Now you can sleep."
Sure she could. Lying against his bare skin, her arm draped over his chest, knowing he lay naked against her nightclothes beneath the covers? Sleep? She nearly snorted at the thought.
She lay still for exactly two minutes before taking a deep breath to protest. But she paused, holding very still. In that short time her new husband had fallen sound asleep. And it really did feel quite nice to be held against him like this, in the dark, in his bed. She snuggled closer. Minutes later she also walked in dreams.
To Be Continued…
** Many thanks to Ignoblebard for helping me edit Legolas's song for Cellinn! He gave it just the right tweaks to make it work.
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.