31. A Betrothal in Greenwood Part Two
“It will be all right,” Celeborn said in an attempt to stop the endless fidgeting, “You do not have to worry.”
“I want to get this over,” Thranduil said pouting, “I am tired of waiting, come, Celeborn, let us go down to the gardens.”
“You are not supposed to enter until you have been announced,” Celeborn chided him as he wove green gems into Thranduil’s hair, “Now stay still while I do your boots.”
Elrond was seated in one of the foremost rows, beside him sat a noble from Lothlórien on the left and Thalion on the right.
“I am amazed that the Ernil has not escaped Celeborn’s clutches yet,” Thalion remarked as he sipped a potent wine he had chosen from the tray-bearers, “It will be good to see him docile and orderly for a change.”
Elrond twirled his goblet as he said uncertainly, “Knowing him I cannot think that you would see him thus.”
Gil-Galad and Erestor arrived, their faces looking grim despite the festivity of the occasion, yet they sat together. Elrond suppressed a sympathetic groan as Galadriel sat next to Erestor. This was going to be one of Erestor’s foul-tempered days. Glorfindel was already ‘testing’ the various vintage ales that Oropher had bought from Laketown. The Balrog Slayer was assisted in this task by a large band of enthusiastic young dwarves.
“Lord Oropher, King of Greenwood,” the herald hailed as Oropher entered the gardens, Celebrían escorting him proudly. He was clad in light mauve silk that made the years look lighter on him. There was proud happiness in those green eyes as he bowed to Gil-Galad and Durin and took his seat in the front row.
“Princess Anoriel, led by her father, King Amdir of Lothlórien,” the herald continued. Elrond turned to watch Anoriel walk slowly, her father’s hand leading her proudly. She was clad in a sheer white silk gown, that fell gracefully off her smooth figure. Her tresses were braided intricately in the design of her house, and when she smiled, Elrond was sure that she was the image of Melian herself.
Oropher stood as the lady walked up the raised platform where the ceremony was to be performed. Amdir and his wife were on either side of their daughter.
Thalion said softly, “She is beautiful, within and without.”
Elrond nodded fervently. She was beautiful; her joy lighting her radiant outer beauty.
“Prince Thranduil,” the herald announced, “led by Lord Celeborn, kin to the royal family of Green Wood.”
The onlookers gasped collectively as the Prince arrived, led by Celeborn. The lord of Lothlórien was dressed in magnificent blue robes that set off his silver tresses well. But his beauty was totally eclipsed by Thranduil. He was dressed in deep, green robes within which mithril threads were spun into craftily. His hair was braided away from his face intricately and decorated with green gems, emeralds the colour of his eyes. His father had truly called him the greatest treasure he had been given. His hair waved gently in the breeze appearing like an aura about his handsome features. He ascended the platform and Oropher joined him. Thranduil bent slightly to whisper something in his father’s ears.
Oropher nodded slightly and extended his hand to Galadriel, the onlookers watched amazed as Galadriel kissed his hand and ascended the stage, standing on Thranduil’s side, an expression of uncertainty on her features.
Gil-Galad turned to ask Elrond, “What is that about?”
Elrond shrugged, Thranduil had told him yesterday night, but he knew that Gil-Galad would not appreciate such a confidence when it was obvious that Galadriel had not informed him personally.
“In the name of the Valar, will you accept Thranduil Oropherion, son of Oropher of Doriath, and Vanima of Valinor, as your fiance?” Celeborn asked Anoriel.
Anoriel said with a brilliant smile, “Yes, I do, My Lord Celeborn.”
“Does Amdir of Lórien, father of the lady, bless this ceremony?” Celeborn continued.
Amdir said proudly, “Yes, with my full heart.”
“Does Eleriel, daughter of Elured, mother of the lady, bless this ceremony?” Celeborn continued his office.
A nod was the only answer. Elrond wondered if she could speak.
Thalion muttered, “I have never heard the sound of her voice.”
Celeborn had turned to Thranduil. He began, “In the name of the Valar, will you accept Anoriel, daughter of Amdir and Eleriel of Lothlórien as your fiancée?”
“Yes, My Lord Celeborn,” Thranduil said smiling from ear to ear, his eyes riveted on his fiancée.
“Does Oropher of Greenwood, father of the prince, bless this ceremony?” Celeborn continued.
Oropher said quietly, “With all my heart, I pray that the Valar bless them both.”
“Does Artanis, daughter of Finarfin, standing in stead of Vanima, daughter of Ingwion, bless this ceremony?” Celeborn asked, his lips quivering in a smile as he asked his wife of millennia, his one true love.
“I do, and pray that their union is blessed,” Galadriel said, shivering slightly that only her husband could sense it through their renewed bond.
“Then, before this august audience, I pronounce Thranduil Oropherion and the Princess Anoriel betrothed by the laws of the Eldar with the blessings of the Valar,” Celeborn said authoratively, “You may now exchange your rings.”
After Thranduil and Anoriel had lingered enough to place the rings on each other’s fingers, Celeborn said good-humouredly, “You may, now, in keeping with tradition, ask one thing of any of us on the platform.”
Thranduil turned to his father and knelt before him saying with wicked delight, “You must promise me to try to find love, Ada.”
Oropher raised him to his feet and gently kissed his forehead murmuring, “I have already lost my hard kept celibacy, my son.”
Those in the foremost rows gasped, for Oropher’s celibacy had been long and well-kept. Erestor was the only one who turned to watch a fierce blush staining Elrond’s handsome visage as he bit his lower lip in mortification.
Thranduil hugged his father happily whispering in his ears, “I thank Elbereth then, for my prayers have been answered.”
“Lady Anoriel, you may now demand a wish from those on the platform,” Celeborn said.
Elrond wished that she would ask her mother to speak a single word, but she lifted her chin defiantly and said clearly, “I demand a kiss of passion from my fiancé.”
There was a collective gasp at her boldness. Durin was complimenting what he considered ‘dwarven frankness’. Gil-Galad was advising Celebrían never to pull such a stunt on Elrond at their wedding ceremony. Erestor exchanged a look with Elrond. Amdir and the rest of the lady’s relatives cringed at her fiery nature. Her mother remained impassive.
Thalion remarked, “She will match the ernil.”
“That she will,” Elrond said as he laughed at Thranduil’s baffled expression.
“Well, my prince, will you not honour her wish?” Celeborn asked smirking.
Thranduil shot him a glare before moving very self-consciously to stand before Anoriel and whispering, “Why? I would have showered you with kisses later!”
“One kiss now, to prove that you will never hide our love from other’s eyes,” Anoriel whispered adamantly.
Thranduil said quietly, as he cupped her face with his hands, “I would never hide our love, come what may.”
The dwarves and the elves cheered lustily as his lips descended on hers. Her hands snaked around his waist, holding him closer. His hands slowly moved to her shoulders as he deepened the kiss. Celeborn’s rather obvious throat clearing made them break apart, staring wildly at each other, their breath coming in gasps.
Durin whistled, “Well, that was a performance, lad!”
Thranduil blushed, as he led his fiancée down the platform to the dance clearing. There they wrapped their hands about each other and started swaying to the minstrel’s songs, their eyes only for each other.
Erestor was whispering something to Gil-Galad, who was already on his sixth pint of ale and slightly off colour, but the King shook his head and harshly commanded something. Erestor nodded, and bowing politely to Durin and the rest of the nobles, he stood. His eyes roved about on the dance floor, Celeborn was dancing with his daughter, Galadriel with Durin. Oropher was standing next to Thalion and holding conference with a group of counsellors.
Erestor made his way to Elrond, who was trying to keep his eyes on Gil-Galad as he staggered off to join Glorfindel.
“Dance?” Erestor asked him hopefully, “I do not know why they would drink when they can dance.”
Elrond complied eagerly, despite Círdan’s cold look directed his way.
They danced till the night had fallen, changing partners only thrice when Thranduil had claimed Erestor’s hand and Elrond had sat out the song. Anoriel was dancing with Oropher, laughing happily at something he remarked, a faint sheen of sweat glistening on her features. Though Oropher’s dancing was perfect, his son’s sensual, yet elegant dance with Erestor had many applauders, their youthful exuberance and natural grace lending their moves beauty.
The next dance, Oropher came over to where Elrond sat and asked good-humouredly, “Will you dance with me, Lord Elrond?”
Elrond cringed and apologized again, but he accepted the King’s hand and they danced slowly, as Oropher kept a steady flow of conversation until Elrond’s shame had disappeared. Finally as he relaxed, Oropher drew him slightly closer and whispered, “Should anything happen to me in this battle, Erestor and you must see my son through, until he returns to her.”
Elrond said firmly, “Nothing will happen, My Lord. You will see your grandchildren grow in a loving family.”
Oropher shook his head as he whispered, “I do not know, Elrond. The fates have ever been fickle. I feel that there will not be more than one offspring in this union and that he shall be as lonely as my son ever has been. I feel that I shall see her before I see him and that I may never see my grandson.”
Elrond said quietly, “If I draw breath, I will not see your son in peril, nor will Erestor, for they have a deeper bond. If this is foresight, then I will raise his son as mine should need arise.”
Oropher said relieved, “You have my gratitude, Elrond. May the Valar be kind on you.”
“The Valar are never kind on us Noldor,” Elrond shrugged as the song ended, “Especially in the matters of the heart,” he watched Erestor dancing with Celebrían.
Elrond danced with Celebrían the next song while Erestor danced with Galadriel, though from the chief counsellor’s cold diplomatic face, it did not seem that it was particularly enjoyable. The rest of the dances, they were together, wearing themselves down to exhaustion until the first rays of dawn had arrived. Thranduil and Anoriel had retired sometime after the first few dances, with their families. So had Galadriel, though Durin was reluctant to let her go. Gil-Galad was carried by Glorfindel and Gildor to his chambers after he lost a drinking competition to Haldir of Lothlórien.
Anoriel waited until her family had retired before creeping out of her window. She advanced slowly till she reached the room next to her brother’s. Amroth was still standing with Thranduil as they talked in a desultory fashion.
“Have you not sought your dreams yet?” Thranduil asked her as she joined them.
Amroth gave a knowing smile and bid them a fair night before retiring into his chambers.
Thranduil asked his fiancée fearfully, “I hope you did not come to demand yet another kiss of passion? I am already struggling with the desire the last one awoke in me.”
Anoriel smiled, which in Thranduil’s mind made her the most beautiful creature he had ever seen in his life, she asked quietly, “Would you show me the woods tonight, My prince? I cannot find rest this night and would be glad to walk with you.”
“Amdir will have me quartered and drawn,” Thranduil said wryly, “And knowing you, I fear to come along.”
Anoriel said softly, “I ask only for a walk underneath the stars, Thranduil.”
He shrugged and took her hand in his as he led the way into the woods away from the revelry.
“Did you enjoy yourself in the dance with my father?” Thranduil asked suddenly, after they had been walking in silence for a few moments, “He rarely dances except with cousin Celebrían.”
“He is elegant,” Anoriel sighed, “Though I am afraid that both your father and I were watching your spirited performance with Erestor. The two of you make an excellent dance pair. I had never expected him to be so unrestrained on the floor.”
“It is only on the dance floor and the battlefield that he gets a chance to drop his mask of diplomacy,” Thranduil sighed, “And that is when he resembles his ancestors the most, unrestrained. Elrond and he make a good pair on the battlefield and on the councils, Erestor’s strategies complimenting Elrond’s bravery and intelligence.”
“It is not only on the battlefield and the councils that they would make a good pair, Thranduil, they look good together,” Anoriel remarked.
Thranduil stopped walking as they reached a clearing. He waved his hand skywards saying softly, “You wanted to see the stars.”
“I have always wanted to touch the stars and the moon, to taste of their luminance. You promised to shower me with kisses,” Anoriel murmured as she drew nearer and hugged him from behind.
He relaxed involuntarily before tensing against her saying, “Do not tempt me, Anor-nîn. I am already suffocating with desire.”
“Thranduil Oropherion takes what he wants, so I have heard,” Anoriel breathed as she drew her fingers against the smooth silk of his robes, causing him to tense even more.
“Anor-nîn,” Thranduil pulled away, his voice shaking. Anoriel came around to face him, drinking in the sight of his lust-dilated eyes and heaving chest.
“We need to go back,” he whispered as he struggled to control his desire, “Now.”
Anoriel came nearer, her expression almost innocent as she lifted herself on her toes balancing herself by placing her hands on his shoulders as she pressed her lips on his. He shuddered as he opened his mouth, drawing her tongue within. Moaning softly, she pressed the length of her slim body against his, slipping her fingers into his hair. He groaned as he fell to his knees, drawing her with him. Slowly, he leant back onto the grass, pulling her atop him. She shivered as the warmth of his wet arousal seeped through his robes onto hers. As they parted from their kiss, she saw a single tear trail down his cheek.
“I wanted to wait, to proudly claim you on our wedding night,” he whispered softly, “but now I feel scared that I might do something, I might hurt you by my passion. Leave me now, please, I cannot control myself anymore. I have to seek release,” his cheeks flushed crimson with embarrassment as Anoriel pressed her hand against his growing arousal.
“I am happy that I can make you feel thus, Ithil-nîn. I will give you what you desire, for that is what I want,” Anoriel kissed the tear away, “You ride for war in three days. When we wed, we cannot be sure that it will be a happier time. When we are apart, I would have a souvenir of our times together.”
“I may not return, Anor-nîn,” Thranduil said closing his eyes in pain, “I will not have you bind with me now. I will not wreck your life.”
“We are already bound by soul,” she whispered, “For ill or worse, I am yours and you are mine. Let us complete it.”
“True,” Thranduil opened his eyes, moist with still tears, “For ill or worse I have condemned yet one more soul to die for me.”
Anoriel silenced him gently with a kiss, it soon turned passionate with their fear and desperation. Finally, she broke apart roughly and sitting atop him, impatiently ripped at her elaborately laced nightrobe.
Thranduil chuckled weakly, as he leant upwards to pry her hands away and replaced them with his gentler ones.
Patiently, he undid each lace, causing her to remark, “Where did you learn to untie laces so well?”
“Never mind,” he said as he parted her dress down her slim shoulders and stooping to kiss her collar bone tenderly, “I will take up this task for you in our life, Anor-nîn, lest you rip dresses each night.”
“I run out of patience,” she gasped as she kissed him again, “Hurry.”
“As you wish,” he said as he laid her out on the grass, her golden hair fanning against the green dampness of the ground. He then slowly removed his brilliant green betrothal robes, which still carried the scent of the flowers of Aman.
As they looked upon each other’s bodies for the first time, they said at the same time, “Most beautiful.”
They laughed as they flushed at their compliments and then he quietly began kissing her toes, his fingers ghosting over her soft legs.
“You can dispense with all that, you know,” she moaned, “and get on with the main act. We can do all this later.”
“Ah! The human side from Beren,” he teased her, “impatient young woman? I will not get on with it until I worship each inch of this miracle.”
She rolled her eyes and then gasped as his tongue slithered under her feet, tickling her mercilessly, “Thranduil!”
“I am here,” he laughed as he proceeded to tickle her more, her helpless giggling sweet music to his ears. She frowned and began retaliating as she lifted a leg and lightly traced it along his ribs, causing his eyelids to flutter in desire. She smiled victoriously before swiftly pouncing atop him, and watched as he fell back spread-eagled. The depth of emotion in his eyes as he lay before her, trusting and vulnerable, struck her to the core. She placed a kiss on his drawn in navel, before sliding up to gently rub her nose against his hardened nipples.
He moaned softly before whispering, “I cannot take more, Anor-nîn. Torment me not any further.”
“I will never torment you,” she said quietly as she closed her eyes and slid onto his organ. As her virgin membrane broke, she screamed softly. His hands enveloped her as he drew her atop him, whispering endearments. He kissed her tears of pain away and slowly moved within her, and she screamed again, pleasure mingling with pain.
He stopped moving, and whispered fearfully, “Have I hurt you? I will never forgive myself.”
She shuddered and thrust to meet him again, this time, their pleasures ruled them and they moaned in unison. He pulled away from her as he climaxed, seeing her unhappy expression, he whispered, “No child of ours will be born out of wedlock, I will never give the world a reason to judge them harshly.”
She closed her eyes exhaustedly, pain and pleasure receding replaced only by a dull ache in her. He gently lifted her and walked to a pond, purring, “We should take a bath before we return, lest your Adar kill us both.”
She rested her against his chest, which beat in rhythm with her own and complained, “The water must be cold.”
He grinned mischievously as he entered the pond and ducked her, delighting in her squeals of protest. He washed her hair and then gently cleaned her body before taking a quick dip himself.
She watched his handsome body, sparkling in the moonlight, and whispered, “Come back to me, Ithil-nîn.”
They held each other’s gaze for a moment, fear and uncertainty hanging in the air between them, before she said less seriously, “I hope you don’t try the humans during your eastward journey. I refuse to touch you if you try Isildur. Erestor told me rather despicable tales of him.”
“I promise that I will not touch anyone,” he assured her laughing, “The memories of this night will be enough for a lifetime away from you.”
“We will craft memories the next two nights, my prince,” she said quietly, as she leaned into his touch, “But do not deny yourself pleasure when you are away from me.”
He shook his head silently and kissed her, tasting slightly of desperation, before he murmured, “We should return now, lest we are in trouble.”
“Sleep with me tonight,” she begged him, “Hold me, leave only at dawn. My brother will keep us safe.”
“I will never be able to deny you,” he said sighing.
“And carry me till there,” she pouted, “I am sure that you will know a dark, unused path where we may meet none.”
He rolled his eyes and obeyed promptly saying, “It is the most pleasing burden I have the fortune to bear.”