19. No Bridge to Span the Rift
It took Cellinn all of a minute to realize what she had said. And another full minute for his response to sink in.
What have I done?
She jumped up from the bed and ran for the door, opening it and darting through, only to pause to glance back at where Legolas had left his crutch. Dashing back across the room, she grabbed it and rushed through the sitting room and exited through the other door that had slammed shut behind him. Legolas had left their rooms.
Glancing up and down the hall, she could see him just down the corridor, leaning heavily against a wall. He pounded on Arandur’s door. Cellinn ran for him, thankful that the late hour had prevented him from disappearing behind a closed door before she could catch up with him.
But just as she reached him, Arandur jerked the door open. His eyes were sleepy and his hair was tousled. He appeared to wear only a dressing robe, hastily tied but thankfully covering everything. "What is it," he mumbled, glancing from Legolas to Cellinn and back again.
"Can I come in?" Legolas asked stiffly.
"Wait," Cellinn begged, reaching out to touch his arm. He shook her off and moved closer to the door.
"Can I come in?" He positioned himself so his back was to her. "Please?"
She could not see his face, but she could tell his gaze burned into Arandur’s eyes. The older prince glanced at her, and she felt panic welling up inside. He could not go in there without her! He needed to listen to her, give her a chance to explain.
He had completely shocked her a few minutes ago. She had not expected him to be so bold! At first, all she could feel was how wonderful it felt to be in his arms, but then she had realized where he was touching her, and where it would lead…
And she had panicked. Plain and simple. And then she had given into the fear that consumed her whenever she thought of completing their bond. She had fought him, pushed him away, even childishly told him she would never speak to him again. She was a fool. She knew that, but she had to explain it to him. Had to make it right, beg him to forgive her and listen to her and try to make clear…
Arandur looked between them, seeming to read the situation well enough. He opened the door wide and stepped back. Legolas limped through it, turning on her before she could slip in behind him and slamming the door in her face.
He had not even looked at her. She stood frozen outside the door, tears slipping down her cheeks. The closed door felt like a wall between them; no, more like a deep chasm, a vale with no bridge to span the rift between them.
The crutch slipped from her fingers and clattered to the floor.
Arandur sat down in the sitting room, sensing it would be a long night. Legolas leaned with his back against the door, his shoulders slumped. He was shaking. It was not until he lifted his head that Arandur realized his young brother was shaking with anger.
Ah, so they had had their first fight since being married! He started to smile, but something in Legolas’s face raised a coil of doubt. Something told him this had not been a typical fight between the newly wedded. Something had happened, something significant, something dangerous.
He stood up and grabbed Legolas by the arm, leading him to the settee and pushing him down onto it. "Sit there a moment," he commanded, and when Legolas nodded, he strode swiftly to his bedchamber.
Minuialwen was sitting up in their bed, one hand rubbing over her swollen belly. "What is it?" she asked, concern filling her eyes.
"Legolas is here, and he’s very angry. I think he and Cellinn had a fight, but I don’t think it’s anything simple."
As soon as he had said the word fight, Minuialwen had started to rise. She pulled on a dressing robe, tied it and followed him back out to where Legolas sat staring at the opposite wall.
"Can I stay here tonight?" he asked without looking up. His voice lacked any emotion. The anger Arandur had seen earlier seemed to have vanished. Now he looked a bit lost. Perhaps things were not as bad as Arandur had feared.
"I can sleep here on the settee. I just need a blanket."
Arandur sighed and shared a look with Minuialwen. She stepped over to the settee and carefully lowered herself onto it. She was so round and adorable maneuvering like that! But he was distracted from her form when she began rubbing Legolas’s back in a comforting manner and asked, "Are you sure you want to do that? Perhaps you just need to talk it out and then go back and make peace with your wife."
"She’s not my wife!" Legolas hissed out so vehemently, Minuialwen flinched, and Arandur felt his blood turn to ice. So the anger had not dissipated. It only simmered, building the longer it was trapped inside.
"What do you mean she’s not your wife?" Arandur asked, not liking his brother’s choice of words. The anger he could understand. Every couple fought and got angry with each other, but the look in Legolas’s eyes and the declaration unsettled him. He wondered if he should send for his father.
The cold grey eyes that looked up at him chilled him. "It’s just what I said," Legolas stated in another hiss. He sneered in a manner Arandur had never seen on him before. "She is not my wife. Not in truth. It could be undone."
Minuialwen gasped and covered her mouth with one hand. Her eyes were wide with shock and tears filled them. Arandur sank into the nearest chair, staring at the stranger that was his brother. "You don’t mean that," he said, his voice hoarse with his disbelief at what he was hearing.
Legolas looked away, biting his lip, and Arandur felt some hope well up within him. If Legolas had truly meant it, he would have looked him in the eye and said it. Oh, he might be thinking he meant it at the moment, but people thought all kinds of stupid things when they were angry and upset. Why, he had once entertained the idea of returning Minuialwen to her father shortly after they had wed! Wisely, he had not ever told her of that thought.
Slowly, Minuialwen dropped her hand to rest on her belly. She took a deep breath, casting him a helpless look, then gazed back at Legolas. "Tell us what happened."
Haltingly, the story came out. It was a touchy subject, and Legolas seemed to struggle to find the right words. At times, he flushed red, but he pushed on, getting the tale out, for which Arandur was grateful. The anger in him needed to be released in some manner and talking was a good outlet for it. But then, his brother reached the last parts of the tale, and Arandur sat back, stunned.
"She said what?" Minuialwen squeaked, her eyes wide in disbelief.
Legolas sneered again and repeated it and then added the part about his response to her and his leaving their chambers.
"YOU SAID WHAT?" Arandur roared, anger heating his face. Oh, by the trees and stars, his brother was an idiot!
"DON’T YOU DARE TAKE HER SIDE IN THIS!" Legolas yelled, his face reddening and his eyes flashing and daring them to protest his response. "She has pushed me away and pushed me away, and I will not tolerate it any more!" His breath hitched, and then he dropped his head into his hands. "I cannot," he whispered. His shoulders shook, and Arandur could see just how deeply hurt his little brother was. And in his hurt, Legolas was lashing out in anger as a means of protecting the inner wounds. Indeed, Cellinn had injured him deeply too many times. And yet…
She had followed on his heels. She had not stayed in their quarters to brood or sulk. She had had a desperate look on her face. The look of one who had made a dreadful mistake and knew it.
Looking helplessly at Minuialwen and unsure what else to do, he ran a hand through his hair and said, "You can stay here tonight. Perhaps things won’t look so bleak in the morning." Indeed, perhaps sleeping on the matter would help them both cool down and speak reasonably. Or at least mellow Legolas enough to hear Cellinn out, he hoped.
Legolas nodded but did not look up.
Thranduil yanked open the door to the hall and strode out, still pulling on his robe and tying it as he searched out the cause for the disruption of the peace that usually pervaded his halls in the late evenings. One after another there had been slamming doors disturbing his quiet time with his wife. One door might not be too out of the ordinary, but repeated? Something was going on and he would find the source of it.
Looking first towards Legolas's rooms, he found the door wide open. He frowned and started towards it, but a sound drew his attention towards Arandur's rooms. And there, just outside his eldest son's door was Cellinn. She sat with her back against the door, her knees drawn up under her nightgown and her face buried in her folded arms. At her feet lay Legolas's crutch. Her shoulders shook, and he could hear her sobs.
He sighed, strode down the hall to where she sat, bent and picked up the crutch, setting it against the wall beside her. Then he stooped so he was on the same level with her and stared at his weeping daughter by marriage, unsure of exactly how to deal with the situation. Obviously, something had happened. The slamming doors up and down the hall, Legolas's crutch, her presence here… Well, it was inevitable that the two of them would have a fight, he supposed, but he had never expected something quite like this.
"Look at me, child," he said, reaching out to stroke Cellinn's braided hair. She lifted a tear-streaked face that was etched in misery. "Did the two of you argue?"
Her lip quivered and then her face crumpled with more weeping. Her arms wrapped around herself as she rocked back and forth. "He hates me," she whispered. "And I deserve it."
Thranduil ran a hand over his face, wishing he was not the one who had to deal with this mess. The two children had always been well suited, but Cellinn had a volatile temper, whereas Legolas's temper, though no less in intensity, was not so easily stirred. All their lives the two had engaged in spats of some sort, but while Cellinn was quick to anger, she was also quick to forgive and forget. And Legolas somehow always managed to worm his way back into her good graces. In fact, they were the opposite of Thranduil and his wife: he being the counter to Cellinn and Legolas being much like his even-tempered mother.
Well, as much as he disliked it, someone had to take charge and fix whatever had happened. And knowing Cellinn and her family as he did, it was probably best if it were he to do so. "Come on," he urged, reaching out to help her to her feet.
With an arm around her shoulders, he led her back to Legolas’s rooms and eased her down into a cushioned chair. He took the one opposite her, after fetching a handkerchief from the bedchamber, and waited for her to calm enough that he could speak to her. Finally, she wiped her face, blew her nose and met his gaze.
"Tell me what happened," he said.
Her face fell, and her cheeks darkened, but she fumbled through the story, stumbling over many parts and frequently burying her face in her hands. But eventually, it all came out.
Thranduil sat back and folded his arms, considering this newest daughter. She had claimed fear, but he wondered if her fear had only to do with the physical act of love and not something more. Only one way to find out, he supposed.
"Child, do you understand the act of love? The joining of two until they become one?" She glanced up sharply at him, a look of horror on her face. "Oh, come now," he assured her. "We are both adults. Either you understand it or you don’t. If it is truly the act you fear, then I shall go and fetch my wife and let the two of you have a long chat. However," he paused and smiled gently at her, "I suspect there is something else entirely that you fear."
She bit her lip and looked away. "I understand what happens…for the most part. I suppose."
He harrumphed and decided he would have Eirien speak to the child regardless just to make certain. But first, he needed to deal with the main issue — her fear and the root of it.
"Cellinn." She glanced back at him with a look of uncertainty. "You are not your mother, and Legolas is not your father."
Her lip trembled and fresh tears welled up in her eyes.
That then truly was what was at the bottom of it. And he sat and talked with her about it for over an hour before sending her to bed. Then he joined his wife, and explained all that had happened, and the two of them decided to give the young couple a chance to work things out on their own. Legolas would in all likelihood be calmed down by morning. But if not, they would need to intervene.
He would not allow two foolish children to ruin their own happiness! Not while he was King of Greenwood at any rate.
After settling Legolas on the settee with a pillow and a blanket, Arandur and Minuialwen returned to their bed. Arandur sighed. "I fear this blow was too much for him with all that has come before. She followed him here, and I could see the remorse in her eyes, but he would not even look at her!"
"I’ll speak to her tomorrow," Minuialwen said. "Perhaps they just need some time. In the morning, he may see things differently. If she came after him so quickly, she must have realized… Maybe tomorrow he'll at least consent to hear her out."
"We can only hope," Arandur agreed. "I’ve never seen Legolas act like that before. I fear for him in this state." He frowned, again wondering if he should seek out his father, then decided to let his parents sleep. Morning would be soon enough to seek them out and inform them of the situation.
They talked long into the night about how to help, but in the end, they realized much would be up to Legolas and Cellinn. They could only hope the two of them could forgive and move on.
Morning had not changed Legolas. He had eventually fallen asleep but he had not slept well. He was up long before he heard Arandur and Minuialwen stirring. He would have sought solace in the trees, but he was not dressed to wander the halls and there was simply no way he was returning to his rooms where he might come across her.
His anger flared in his chest, and he nursed it, feeding it by remembering all the times Cellinn had caused him pain. Since he had realized he loved her, she had caused him no end of hurt! She had pulled and pushed him back and forth like a branch caught in a windstorm. And like a fool, he had let her. He had made excuses for her, told himself she was just young. But she had not changed. Oh, he had thought she had matured, but she had proven last eve just how cruel she could be, playing on his compassion and love just as he manipulated the notes in a song on his flute.
He ground his teeth. He would burn the blasted flute as soon as he could get hold of it. Let it smolder to ashes just as his love for her…
He jerked to his feet, shoving the coil of doubt down. No, he would not let her hurt him again. For once he would hurt her. Cause her some of the pain he had endured.
A knock came from the door, and Legolas checked his robe then limped over to open it. His hand paused on the door latch. What if it was her? She had followed him last night. No doubt to beg his forgiveness, so she could play with his heart some more.
The knock came again, only this time a voice accompanied it. "Legolas? I heard you limp over here, now open the door."
He swallowed, pulled it open and stared into his father's eyes. How Thranduil knew he was here, he did not know, but one thing was certain, he had no wish to discuss the situation with his father. Thranduil would not bend on certain issues and scandal in his household was one of them.
Thranduil held out the hated crutch that he had left in his rooms last night. In his anger, he had left it and his fury had carried him much further than Istuion wished him walking without it. He felt it this morning in the deep ache that would be relieved when Cellinn…
He reached for the crutch and forced his thoughts elsewhere, ignoring the flash of pain and remorse that pierced through him. There would be no more of her rubbing the smelly ointment into his leg to ease his pain. No more teasing and smiles. No more kisses and hopes for the future.
It felt like someone had run him through with a sword. The next thing he knew, his father had stepped through the door and drawn him into an embrace. And then to his horror, he was crying. Not just tears, but deep sobs of hurt and grief and loss. He only let himself weep for a few short moments, however. He did not wish to release the pain, did not want to let it go.
Pulling back, he wiped his face on his robe and then met his father’s eyes with determination and a lift of his chin.
"So that’s the way of it," Thranduil said so matter-of-factly, Legolas blinked in surprise. "So be it. I have never known you to be a fool, and if you chose to go this route, without even hearing her out, then a fool you are."
Then his father’s eyes hardened. "But let me make one thing very clear. You may choose to harbor your anger and hurt, but I expect you to act above reproach before others."
Legolas opened his mouth to declare he wanted it over, only to snap it shut at the look his father gave him.
"Not without my consent, you cannot, and I refuse to give it."
With that, the King spun and left, leaving Legolas to figure out on his own how to obtain access to his rooms and clothing without confronting Cellinn.
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.