6. As You Wish
A couple weeks later…
The warm morning sun shone down on the wood, filtering through the green leaves and leaving dappled patterns on the forest floor. Birds sang, occasionally bursting out of the trees in full flight, chasing one another in a spring courting ritual. A white doe moving gracefully down a deer track through the trees, her dappled fawn following close behind her, suddenly froze, her head coming up to look at a flash of gold. With a quick jump, the deer disappeared through the thick foliage, her fawn right behind her, their tails held high like flags.
Legolas walked through the trees, seeking solace in their comforting whispers. His heart ached, and it was his own fault, which only made him feel worse. Why had he done it? Arandur had warned him not to overstep, but he had been unable to resist her when she spoke of their first kiss that way. Her response confused him, for once he had time to ponder what had occurred, he realized that she had returned the kiss. He had not considered that at the moment; then he had only been horrified that he had kissed her. He feared he would lose her due to his rash action and had begged her forgiveness. In his eyes, he had stepped over a boundary without permission, and the cost was Cellinn's absence in his life. It was a very painful price to pay.
Since her coming of age celebration two weeks ago, Cellinn had avoided him. But the more he thought on what had happened, he began to see that she had greatly misunderstood him, and that explained her leaving and returning his gift. She had kissed him back! She must at least feel something for him, yet, he had apologized, asked her to pretend it had not happened. He was an idiot! She thought he had rejected her. Oh, Cellinn. If only she knew how he felt!
Show her, you idiot!
Could he do that? No matter how she responded, could he simply continue his initial plan of action and attempt to court her? It was possible! Arandur had pursued Minuialwen despite her initial dislike of him and telling him to jump into the river. And he could do the same with Cellinn. He would speak with her as if everything was fine between them, invite her for walks, bring her flowers and do all the things a man did when courting a lady. A slow smile spread across his face as he headed back towards the Halls to seek her out.
It was late morning, and Cellinn laughed at Dúrion's jest as she strolled with him through the gardens outside the Halls. It was good to laugh; she had not done much of that since the night of her coming of age. Even the thought of those final moments brought tears to her eyes. Her laughter died. Before she could stop it, a tear escaped over her lashes and streaked down her cheek.
"Cellinn? What is it?" Dúrion asked, halting their steps and turning her towards him. One of his fingers brushed the tear from her face while his other hand rubbed her arm soothingly. "Did I say something to offend you, my lady? For if I have, I beg your pardon!"
He was so earnest, so concerned, Cellinn managed a smile. "No, Dúrion, you have said nothing amiss. It is only my stray thoughts that distract me and cause me pain."
"The prince hurt you, did he not?" he asked.
How Dúrion knew it had been Legolas that had hurt her, Cellinn did not know. Some form of male instinct perhaps? Still, she would not have him speaking ill of her friend, for friend Legolas still was, despite the awkwardness she felt. She really needed to speak to him, to apologize for walking away, for returning the necklace. Oh, how she wished she had kept it! Another irritating tear trickled from her lashes. She would not cry!
"I swear by the Valar, prince or not, I could break him in half for causing you pain!" Dúrion declared hotly.
"Is that a challenge, Dúrion?" Grey eyes flashing angrily, Legolas appeared from behind a tree. The slight breeze caught his golden hair, brushing it back over his shoulders. "Not that the matter is any of your concern; it is between the lady and I. But if you wish to attempt breaking me, by all means, I bid you try!"
Oh no. Why, oh why, of all places did Legolas have to show up here? Now? Of all the statements to overhear! And that stubborn prince would never back down from an attack on his honor, for that was how he would perceive Dúrion's words.
Dúrion seemed to burn with indignation, tensing beside her. "I would be glad to defend Lady Cellinn's honor, your highness," he snarled. "You are not worthy of the lady or her attentions."
"Well I know it!"
What? Cellinn blinked. He thinks he is not worthy of me? Oh Legolas, I fear I have hurt you as well.
"Yet, I say this matter is between the lady and myself and does not concern you, but if she wishes you to fight for her…" Legolas bowed mockingly.
"STOP IT! Both of you! You are acting like children!" Cellinn cast a sharp glance at the bristling male at her side. "I value your friendship, Dúrion, but you have no right to speak of things of which you know naught, nor should you speak so against the prince. He is right. What lies between us concerns Legolas and myself alone and is none of your affair. I ask you to stand down from this silly challenge."
Dúrion held her livid gaze for only a moment before dropping his eyes to the ground, having the sense to look ashamed. "If that is what you wish, Cellinn. I retract my comments."
"I accept such a retraction, for the sake of the lady," Legolas replied with a smirk.
A little too arrogant, Cellinn thought, spinning to pierce him with her angry gaze. "Legolas, that is enough!" He actually looked taken back by her words. Good!
She turned back to Dúrion. "Please, will you leave us. I would speak privately with the prince." He nodded and with a last glare at Legolas, walked away, leaving Cellinn and Legolas alone in the garden.
They stared at each other for a moment, Cellinn noting the vivid pain in his eyes, but she was still angry about his display of masculine honor, and now was not the time to discuss what had happened between them prior. "How dare you!" she accused him angrily, placing a hand on her hip.
"How dareI?" He looked incredulous. "Cellinn, I did not start this! Dúrion was the one making threats against my person. What would you have me do? Ignore it?" His voice had risen and now there was anger in his eyes directed at her.
"YES!" she yelled. "Jealousy does not become you, prince. Your challenging him did not improve matters, only made them worse…only hurt me worse," her voice broke, and she buried her face in her hands, her anger had drained and now she only felt the pain.
She felt him move closer, knew he would pull her into his arms, but at the present, she could not deal with the combined hurt and anger she felt, and she was so unsure of what he felt, despite her strange longing. And if he held her, she would cry, and she could not do that, not in front of him.
She held out one hand, palm up, stopping him from coming any nearer. Steeling herself, she looked up. "If you will excuse me, I have nothing more to say." With great effort, she walked away, head held high, her eyes burning with the tears that refused to heed her wishes.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. There was simply no other word for it, except, perhaps, idiot. Aye, stupid idiot, that is what I am. He had hurt her again, and it felt the same as stabbing himself in the heart with his dagger. Most likely, the dagger would hurt less.
Finally able to get his feet to move from where Cellinn had left him, Legolas headed towards the privacy of the Queen's Garden. He needed to think, needed to find some way to stop hurting the lady he loved, needed to tell her how he felt. Arandur said it was too soon to spout words of love, but Legolas was not so sure.
Entering the garden, he walked the paths he had meandered with her that night, going over each detail in his mind of all that had happened. If his actions hurt her, that must mean she cared for him, right?
"My son, what troubles you?" The gentle voice caught him unawares.
Spinning around, he found his mother seated on the stone bench he and Cellinn had sat upon the night of her celebration. "Naneth," he whispered. Striding to the bench, he sat down beside her, leaning his head on her shoulder as he always did when they spoke of intimate matters.
Her hand came up to stroke his hair and face. "I cannot help you if you do not tell me of your burden, little one." Her voice was soft and tender, soothing to his injured heart.
"I do not know that you can, Naneth, but I will tell you. I hurt someone close to me without meaning to do so. It seems no matter how hard I try to let this friend know how I much care for her, I only succeed in hurting her."
Legolas swallowed thickly. He had not meant to give that part away, though his mother probably already knew what troubled him and was only seeking to get him to speak of it. Truly, was there anything she did not know when it concerned her family? He did not think so. "Aye."
"Legolas, in all my years of watching young ones fall in love, I have noticed that it seems most difficult between those who have been close friends for most of their lives. In the end, their relationships are the strongest, but during that time when both are still so unsure of their feelings, afraid to lose their friend to gain a lover, it is most difficult and filled with pain. You and Cellinn are no different."
"I love her, Naneth." His voice trembled. Her hand trailed from his hair to his shoulder and she pulled him into her arms as she had when soothing him as an elfling. It was strangely comforting. "I do not know how to make this right, to tell her how I feel. I just want to hold her, Naneth, and never let go."
"A nice thought, if unpractical." He lifted his head with a confused look and she smiled at him. "It is not easy to eat, fight with swords, or indeed perform any task with someone in your arms, Legolas."
His lips quirked. He could think of at least one thing. "I am unsure if she returns my feelings and that frightens me. Should I just tell her, Naneth.? Tell her I love her? I was going to try and show her, but I have yet to succeed with any of my ideas." Legolas searched his mother's eyes for the answer to his problem. She always had an answer.
She did not say a word; she simply looked over her shoulder, then glanced back into her son's eyes with a smile. "I am sure you will think of something, my Leaf."
Legolas cast his eyes back at the climbing wild roses behind them and felt hope rise within him as a small smile turned the corners of his lips. Of course!
After the unpleasant confrontation that morning, the beautiful and peaceful afternoon full of sunshine, singing birds and the smell of flowers soothed Cellinn's heart. She lay on her back on a blanket in the garden, her knees bent and an arm folded beneath her head, which was turned to the side towards her elbow to avoid the bright sunlight beating down on her. The day was very warm and pleasant, and she closed her eyes and sighed, letting the pain in her heart melt away as the sounds of nature filled her with peace.
A shadow fell across her face, and she frowned. Was her lovely day going to be overshadowed by rain? She had no wish to be caught in a sudden downpour, so she opened her eyes to see a pair of soft leather boots standing beside her. Her gaze traveled up the boots and over long legs and a firm torso, up over a small smile to meet bright grey eyes.
"Comfortable?" he asked in an amused tone. Her eyes locked with his, and she found her heart was now pounding in her chest. His smile spread across his face, and it seemed butterflies were now dancing within her stomach. His hands were behind his back. "I have something for you," he whispered in that tone of his.
She frowned, the flutter in her stomach replaced by an unpleasant sensation and a lump in her throat. Cellinn really did not think she could speak with him just yet, and his acting as if nothing had happened troubled her. Unable to face him, she broke away from his gaze by closing her eyes. "I don't want it. Please, just go away," she pleaded. "Please?"
There was silence for a moment, and she wondered if he had left. But he spoke again, softly, almost a whisper. "As you wish, my lady."
Something fluttered down beside her, brushing against her arm and causing her to flinch. She forced herself to remain still as she listened to his light footsteps on the path fade away. Opening her eyes, she slowly turned her head to see just what he had dropped.
She gasped when her eyes fell upon a scattering of flowers lying next to her on the blanket, a mixture of red and white wild roses — her favorite. Gathering them to herself, she let her tears flow freely. Oh Legolas, what have I done?
Minuialwen walked the halls with a mischievous smile upon her face. Sometimes a male needed a little female assistance. And she was just the one to shove and prod two of the silliest people she had ever met! How they could not see it, she could not fathom, though, she herself had not seen her own love for Arandur right away. It had taken her best friend meddling to make her see and understand her own heart.
She grinned and turned her steps towards Cellinn's chambers. Meddling was such fun!
It was another beautiful day, and yet he could not be found out of doors. Instead, Legolas sat in the library, quietly fingering the flute in his lap. The large room housed a reputable collection of books, and many of those living in the king's halls came to borrow the tomes, often sitting on the comfortable couches or at one of the tables with chairs about the room to read. It was also not uncommon for a musician to find a corner in which to lightly play while others read or conversed quietly.
Legolas ran a finger along the holes in the finely-crafted wooden flute. He remembered well when Cellinn had presented it to him for his coming of age a few years ago, and how he had laughed and told her he would never play an instrument. The pain in her eyes had prompted him to accept the gift and assure her he was only teasing. Over the past years, he had learned the instrument at his mother's prodding, mastering it over the past year and surprisingly, enjoying it, but he had never once played it for Cellinn. Perhaps, it was time to do so, yet he was unsure of how to proceed after yesterday's disaster. Arandur had been correct, jealousy would only procure her wrath and disdain, or worse, her acceptance of Dúrion's courtship.
Someone sat beside him on the settee and he turned to see Minuialwen. He sighed in relief. For a moment, he had feared it would be Ninglorwen. Minuialwen was welcome company, though her smile unsettled him a bit.
"Well, my brother, have you decided what to do?" His surprise must have been evident on his face for she laughed. "Oh do not look so shocked! I know nearly as much as your mother."
He gave her a lopsided grin and chuckled, looking back down at his flute. It figured she would know. Her next words caught his interest, drawing his eyes back up to her face.
"I have just come from Cellinn's rooms, and I could hardly believe what a beautiful bouquet of wild roses she has beside her bed. I wonder where she got them," she murmured, casting a sly glance over at him.
Legolas ignored her glance, and instead let a true smile grace his lips. His eyes drifted to the window overlooking the Queen's Garden, and he spoke, "So, she kept them. That is good."
"Ah, so it was you who bestowed such a lovely gift upon her," Minuialwen grinned. "Then you will be happy to know she is coming this direction with a book in hand. I do believe she is planning to read in here today. Perhaps, you should try wooing her with your flute?" When he blinked at her, she laid a hand on his arm. "It is obvious to all except the lady herself that you love her," she paused as the door across the room opened. "I wish you well, brother," she finished with a kiss to his cheek. Then stood and left him to contemplate what she had said as well as what she had not.
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.