21. The Consequences
Legolas slowly stood with a hand up from his father. His jaw still throbbed and he felt an absolute fool. Though upright, he still could not meet either his father's or Angalar's eyes. He studied the ground near his feet, and every moment felt like an eternity. He wished someone would say something – yell at him or hit him again – anything but this silence.
He had nearly mustered the courage to look up when someone grabbed his shoulder and spun him around. His gaze yanked upwards colliding with the angry eyes of his brother. "It's a good thing Adar hit you!" Arandur growled, his voice as menacing as Legolas had ever heard it. "If I had done it, I don't think I would have been inclined to stop with one punch!"
"I think you should hit him too!"
Legolas nearly groaned. Had his whole family witnessed his actions? The next thing he knew, Minuialwen's very round form had forced itself before him. She glared up at him, her fists on her hips, making her belly even more pronounced in front of her.
"What were you thinking!" she shouted up at him, her eyes flashing furiously. "Were you thinking at all? Do you have any idea what you have done?"
Deep down he knew, but he did not want to face the betrayal he had committed. He would rather it stay hidden where he did not have to consider it, giving him the time to let his anger bury it so deep he would never have to truly confront the truth of it.
Minuialwen stepped closer, the large bulge of her belly pressing against him, pushing him back. A finger reached out and poked him hard in the chest. "How dare you!" She poked again, then pushed him – pushed him! – with the child she carried within her. He retreated under her onslaught: the pokes, the shoves. It was quite intimidating to be pushed around by a very irate pregnant woman!
"You are the biggest fool I have ever seen!" she continued. Poke, poke, shove, shove. "How could you betray her like that? Poke, poke, poke, shove, shove, shove. "You should be ashamed of yourself!"
Thankfully, Arandur rescued him, laying a firm hand on Minuialwen's arm. "Love, you should not exert yourself so."
Minuialwen threw her hands up, glared at Arandur, spat at Legolas's feet and stormed off. Arandur cast him a disgusted look, one that repeated all Minuialwen had just accused him of. Then Arandur folded his arms and glared at him.
Unable to look his brother in the eye, Legolas glanced towards his father, only to find himself caught in Angalar's sweltering gaze. Cellinn's father stepped forward until his nose was nearly touching Legolas's own. In a voice so low, Legolas could barely hear him, he said, "If you ever hurt her like that again, I won't care whose son you are." A shiver ran down Legolas's spine at the coldness of Angalar's tone. The advisor spun on his heel, bowed to Thranduil, and marched off.
Legolas then found himself once again staring into his father's eyes, and what he saw there – anger, disappointment, offense – nearly drove him to his knees. All his life, no matter how he had failed in his duties, his responsibilities, he had never seen such a look on his father's face.
But Thranduil said nothing, just held his gaze. Legolas fought the urge to squirm under that stare, but somehow managed to hold his ground and remain still. The longer they stood there, the more uncomfortable Legolas felt, until finally, he blurted out, "Say something!"
"What else is there to say?" Thranduil asked, mirroring Arandur's stance by folding his arms across his chest.
"You should yell at me. Tell me what a fool I've been. Tell me I don't deserve her. Scream at me! Remind me how I failed her. How nothing she has done deserved such a betrayal!"
"True, but you're saying enough for the both of us, I think."
Legolas snapped his mouth closed and dropped his head, staring at the ground and frowning. Truly, what more could they say to him? He had betrayed Cellinn and thrown his betrayal in her face. The reality of what he had done lay plainly before him, and the guilt became nearly unbearable, overshadowed only by his shame.
He could hardly believe it of himself. No matter how angry, no matter what she had done to hurt him, Cellinn had not deserved such a betrayal. What had he done? Who had he become these past two weeks? None of this was like him! This consuming anger was fueled by a deep pain…and fear. Fear that she would never surrender herself completely, that she would forever hold him at arm's length.
His guilt and shame battled with his pain and anger. The more he thought about it – the more he looked at all he had done and said – the more he realized the hard road that lay ahead of him. He would have to make things right, somehow win Cellinn back, only….
Only he was not ready to let go of his anger and hurt. He did not want to admit what he had done – or acknowledge it to her. He was sinking in a vat of despair, both wanting to reconcile and at the same time wanting to remain angry.
When he looked up, hoping his father or Arandur would give him some reason to do what he knew was right, he found both of them had left. And he realized he would have to face the choices before him, make his own decisions….and live with the consequences.
Cellinn sank to the stone bench in the Queen's garden. Behind her, the rose bushes were just beginning to unfurl their new green leaves. She stared straight ahead, strangely unfeeling. She should be devastated, crushed; pain should be shooting through her, and yet, she felt only numb. The scene she had witnessed played over and over in her mind, yet she felt nothing…except remorse. Regret filled her, and hopelessness settled down on her.
She deserved it, after all, and had brought it all on herself. True, she had not understood her own fears, had not seen the lingering doubts. But she had brought this on her own head all the same. She had acted like a child, and now she was paying for her cruel treatment of the one she held most dear.
Someone sat down beside her. For just a moment, hope flared in her chest. Had he come? Was he here to beg her forgiveness? Cellinn nearly snorted at that thought. She was the one who needed to beg forgiveness from him. And she knew beyond doubt that he had not come, would not come. She had pushed him away, drove him into the arms of another.
She looked up into the eyes of the Queen, but remained silent. What was there to say? And then she knew – or rather, she had to ask.
"Can it be undone?"
The compassion in the queen's eyes was replaced by shock. "You would give up? He is an idiot, I know, but I did not take you for one."
"I would not seek it for myself," Cellinn explained, looking down at her hands folded in her lap. "But if he wishes it, I would agree. The bond was never completed. We are not wed in truth." She glanced up at the queen. "Can it be undone?"
Eirien sighed and reached up to brush a curl from Cellinn's cheek. "He will not want it undone. He may think he does, but deep down he does not. He loves you."
But Cellinn was shaking her head, and the tears that had not come before now filled her eyes and overflowed. They preceded the pain that hit her with such force that she felt she would be ill. She brought her fist to her mouth and bit down hard on her knuckles as she slid from the bench to the grass. Dropping her head onto her arms on the stone bench, the sobs shook her. Eirien slipped down beside her and pulled her into an embrace and held her until the storm passed.
With a last hiccup, Cellinn wiped her face on the handkerchief she pulled from inside her sleeve. Then she pulled back only to discover that while she cried, someone else had come and now sat on the bench beside her. Once again, hope that Legolas had come to her rose up inside her; and once again she squashed it. He would not come. She knew that. He had come to her time and again, but not this time – this time, she would need to go to him and find a way to make him listen.
When she turned to look up, she found Minuialwen sitting there with such a fierce look on her face, Cellinn nearly recoiled. "Oh no," the princess declared. "You will not give up. I will not let you!"
"He hates me," Cellinn whispered.
"If he would but listen to you, hear you out with his heart, he would understand," Eirien said. "But he is too wrapped up in his hurt."
"So we will have to make sure he listens," Minuialwen added, a gleam entering her eyes as an evil smile turned her lips. Then the corners of her eyes crinkled with mirth. "Do you still want him?"
"I love him more than anything," Cellinn stated, knowing it was the truth. She wanted him, would fight for him, do anything to win him back.
Minuialwen looked to Eirien, and they shared a knowing glance. "Then you shall have to fight for him, and fight dirty."
Cellinn frowned. There would be no guarantee that he would not visit pain on her again, as she had so recently learned he was more than capable of. Never would she have thought he could be so cruel, or perhaps he truly preferred Ninglorwen?
No. She mentally shook herself, remembering too well that night when he had told her about his trip to the lake. He had meant what he said. And she remembered the day they had declared their love for one another. That day they had both acknowledged that they would hurt each other, but they had also agreed to always forgive each other.
Determination filled her. She would hold him to that promise. She had not meant to hurt him, and by all within her she would do her best not to ever do so again. But first she needed him to listen, to hear out why she had acted the way she had. And he needed to give her a chance to forgive him in kind. Knowing Legolas as she did, she knew he would even now be internally battling with himself. It would not be easy to get through his pride and his stubbornness to reach the man she knew he was deep down inside.
"How? How do I win him back?" she asked, ready to do anything.
Minuialwen grinned. "You seduce him."
Minuialwen nearly laughed at the expression on Cellinn's face. Her friend blinked several times, and then said, "Excuse me?"
Eirien leaned forward, her smile growing. "Oh yes! That is the best way to break through all his defenses."
"But—" Cellinn began, but Minuialwen did not let her finish.
"She really wouldn't have to do much," she said, speaking to Eirien and ignoring Cellinn's sputtering. "Just taking off her dress would do it." Cellinn squeaked in protest, but Minuialwen continued. "Oh, Cellinn, don't be such a prude! You have got to stop being afraid of getting in bed with your husband!"
"I'm not afraid!" Cellinn blurted, color rising in her cheeks. "Not anymore…but—"
"No buts," Eirien cut her off. "If you want to win him back, we will need to get the two of you together in a secluded place…"
"Their rooms," Minuialwen added. It was the best place, and as their fight had begun there, it really should end there.
Eirien nodded in agreement. "And we'll need to make sure Legolas can't leave."
"Can't Thranduil lock them in there?"
"Yes, he can. And he will." Eirien glanced at Cellinn, who alternated watching them, her fingers fidgeting with her handkerchief. "Getting the two of you in there won't be so difficult, but once you are there, it will be up to you to get through to him."
"I don't know what to do," Cellinn whispered, dropping her eyes.
Minuialwen's heart went out to her. For all she loved her spirited friend, the girl was too naïve. Odd really, such a contrast within her own personality – bold but shy, daring but fearful. No wonder Legolas loved her! Cellinn would keep him on his toes.
"But that is easy," she confided, taking one of Cellinn's hands in her own and squeezing it reassuringly. "You really won't have to do much. You just need to…"
And for the next several minutes, she gave suggestions with Eirien adding comments from time to time. They assured Cellinn that most likely, Legolas would respond and she would be able to follow his lead, but just in case, they prepared her for more drastic action. Minuialwen nearly laughed as Cellinn's eyes rounded in wonder as she listened to their 'if all else fails' advice.
Just as they finished, Thranduil and Arandur arrived. "What's this?" Arandur asked, squatting down beside Minuialwen and kissing her cheek. "A garden party without the blanket?"
"We've been plotting," Minuialwen told him, grinning at him.
He lifted a brow. "Have you now. Well, with you giving the advice, it's sure to work."
"Of course it is!" she exclaimed, reaching around to swat him on the backside.
"So what is the plan?" Thranduil asked, reaching down and taking his wife by the hand and helping her to her feet.
Arandur helped Minuialwen up, whispering teasing comments about her being unable to stand unaided. She smacked him again, on the other cheek. "Hey!" he complained, but his grin removed any doubt that he was offended by her playful slaps.
"We need to get Legolas and Cellinn alone together in their rooms and lock them in," Eirien explained. "Cellinn can handle it from there."
"Is she going to hurt him?" Arandur asked, eyeing them skeptically.
"No!" Cellinn gasped, her expression showing her shock at the suggestion.
"You should," Thranduil added, stepping forward and offering a hand to Cellinn. She took it and once she had gained her feet, he pulled her into a hug. "He deserves it."
"I just want my husband back," Cellinn murmured, though Minuialwen knew that what had taken place between Legolas and Ninglorwen had hurt Cellinn deeply. She could walk away from him after what he had done, and few would think badly of her for it. But Cellinn loved him. Anyone who looked at her could see it in her eyes, and Legolas loved her as well. Minuialwen could see the two just needed to stop acting like idiots and to talk…
A sudden pain took her by surprise, and Minuialwen gasped, her hand dropping low on her belly. "Oh dear."
"Minuialwen!" Several of them cried out at once, but it was her husband she turned to, leaning her head against his chest. His arms surrounded her as he murmured into her hair. "Easy, remember what Istuion said. Breathe slowly. There."
And then as quickly as it had come, the pain was gone. She lifted her head and met Arandur's concerned eyes. "I think we should go see Istuion," she whispered.
"Is it time?" Eirien asked, stepping over and rubbing Minuialwen's back.
"I don't know," she said. She felt Cellinn's worried gaze and turned to look at her. "I'll be fine."
"I'll come with you," Cellinn said, stepping away from Thranduil, but Minuialwen shook her head and waved her back.
"No, you have other things to do. Arandur will send word. Besides, it is very likely a false alarm."
"Probably," Eirien agreed. "Babies are fickle. They never come when you think they are going to. They prefer to surprise you in the middle of the night." She placed a hand on Minuialwen's middle and smiled. "He's just trying to get some attention. We'll have to keep an eye on this one."
"I'm going to be a grandfather."
All of them turned to look at the speaker of those words, and Minuialwen suddenly noticed Thranduil had turned pale. His wild green eyes were fastened on her middle, and he looked as if he might collapse.
Eirien shook her head and walked to him, wrapping her arms around him. "Yes, dear, you are going to be a grandfather. You've known this for a year now."
"But it's real now," he whispered, a look of shock on his face, as if he only just realized that what Minuialwen carried within her was in fact a child – his son's child.
Minuialwen grinned at him. "You'll spoil him rotten!" she declared, then gripped Arandur's hand behind her as another pain began.
"Indeed," Eirien said, pulling back to look up at her stricken husband. "But there is time for that later. For now, we have a plan to put into motion!" She gestured for Cellinn to follow them and shooed Minuialwen and Arandur off towards their rooms; a passing servant was sent to fetch Istuion there.
As they walked, Minuialwen did what she could to pretend all was fine, but another pain had come and she squeezed Arandur's hand again.
"Breathe," he whispered, his fingers circling her lower back, comforting her as the reality of what was going to happen made itself known with a gush as her water broke.
They both looked down at her wet skirts and then Arandur hoisted her into his arms. "You breathe," he told her, a rather panicked look coming over his features, "I'll walk!"
She laughed and kissed his cheek. He was going to be a wonderful father.
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.