Elladaniel: 16. Ceremonies

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16. Ceremonies

This isn't like any wedding I've ever heard of!

The mood in the Hall of Fire that evening was as celebratory as Ivoreth would imagine, but there was no one standing forward as the authority figure designated to hear the vows. Instead, the entire family stood in a circle around the two involved, with friends forming another circle and then other observers yet another circle beyond that. Elrohir had explained the traditions involved to her, but only now did the explanation begin to make sense. The vows, after all, were to the All-Father - to "The One", as the Elves called him - and to each other. The fact that everyone in the room was dressed in their absolute best was a tribute to their love for the ones exchanging vows, not a desire to impress others or because they were any more in the presence of the All-Father at a wedding than they were in their normal, daily routines.

Grandmother had brought from Lothlórien matching new dresses for both her and Raini, each of a soft and flowing material embroidered with tiny flowers at all the hems and over the bodice, and then insisted on helping both of them dress for the occasion and braiding their hair herself. Ivoreth had looked into the polished silver mirror in the Grandmother's room on the way to the Hall of Fire and stared at the elf-like maid with braids and flowers decorating dark curls that stared back at her. Is that really ME?

Grandmother herself was stunning. Ivoreth still found herself sneaking glances at the gown that seemed to sparkle as if it were a jewel rather than delicate fabric with tiny glass beads sewn in a floral pattern that caught the light with every breath taken. Grandmother didn't braid her hair, though; she let it hang loose and long like a curtain of gold down her back far past her waist. And standing tall and proud next to Grandfather Celeborn, also clad in elegant white robes - even with Raini in her arms - she looked every inch a Queen.

Everyone else may have looked better than they normally did, but Celebriel glowed. Her gown was a soft green - the color of new leaves - and so fragile and flowing that the smallest breeze that laughed through the Hall in one door on one side and out a window on the other teased and tugged and pulled at it and accentuated her slim form in a most striking manner. Her hair was unbound as well, the silver-gold that fell in gentle waves past her waist all the decoration needed against the delicate green. And the expression on her face was beyond contentment. Celebriel was deliriously happy on her wedding day, and Ivoreth could only look at her and hope that someday she would be as happy.

Ada drew her eyes next, and she straightened her back and gazed at him proudly. In deep green and gold, with a simple golden circlet at his forehead, he looked as royal as Elessar ever had in his tall gold and silver crown; and the expression in his eyes as he looked at Celebriel took Ivoreth's breath away. It was as if she were seeing her Ada for the first time and realizing that he really was deeply in love with the elleth she was finally coming to think of as Nana.

A large hand slipped over her own and held it warmly, and she looked up into Elrohir's face and smiled. Her almost-Ada-but-not-quite was robed in rich blue and gold, with an equally simple golden circlet. Ivoreth would have blushed at the warmth in his gaze, but her attention was caught by the words that her Ada and Nana were now exchanging.

"...blood of my blood, bone of my bone..."

This is a marriage that will last forever, just as Grandfather Celeborn's and Grandmother's has and will, Ivoreth marveled, watching Ada and Nana remove the silver rings they had been wearing and replace them with golden ones. She looked over at her Grandfather Elrond. His face was smiling and proud, but she could see the sadness more easily today than ever before. I bet he wishes that Grandmother Celebrían could be here. She straightened in sudden insight. Or that Arwen and Elessar could be here too. They're family too!

A shout and laughter and applause rang out as Ada bent to kiss Nana and then gathered her close; and Ivoreth found herself clapping and laughing along with the others. Although she'd seen small caresses and embraces exchanged between the two before in the privacy of their traveling group and sometimes lately in the gardens, today neither was hiding their emotions for each other or their actions from anyone. Their delight in being finally recognized as husband and wife was plain to see.

Grandfather raised his hands, and his voice filled the room powerfully. "Please join us for a feast celebrating the marriage you have just witnessed!" With that, the little structure in the gathering disintegrated.

"Come," Elrohir said and pulled Ivoreth with him as he pushed through to get to the side of his brother and his new wife.

Grandmother was handing Raini over to Celebriel even as Ada drew Ivoreth away from his brother and into his side. "And now your family is complete," Elrohir announced. "Amazing how you went from two to four in the space of but a little moment." Ivoreth glanced up at him and found his eyes twinkling with mischief. "You work fast, big brother."

"You are just envious," Ada quipped back, making everyone around him laugh, including Elrohir. "But inasmuch as Celebriel and I will be taking time alone for the next few days, I offer you the loan of my daughters to help spur you to follow in my footsteps."

"Now, now," Grandmother's laugh rang like a bell, "you need not compete on this ground as well, elflings!"

Elrohir drew himself up proudly. "I have no need to compete. My time will come."

"Are they bickering again, today of all days?" Grandfather Elrond sounded pained, but a quick glance at his face told Ivoreth that he was teasing his sons.

Erestor simply walked up to Ada and tapped him none too gently on the shoulder. "The Hall awaits the arrival of the newly-weds, and most of them are hungry," he announced sternly. "If you do not wish to end up feasting this night on nothing but bread and honey, I suggest you cease this foolishness and join them soon."

Ada bowed, his hand over his heart. "Master Erestor, my apologies. I know how much you enjoy your evening meal starting on time." Ivoreth stifled a giggle at the look of mock outrage that flooded her tutor's face before he gave her Ada a punch in the upper arm. Nevertheless, Ada held out his arm to Nana. "Shall we?"

oOoOo

Ivoreth sighed and carried her latest book assigned by Master Erestor into the big garden. She loved to read, and Master Erestor was careful to always have her supplied with a volume that was at her reading level or a little beyond. Until lately, the first hour or so of their morning lesson concerned the words that she had never heard or seen before. Today, however, Erestor had been absent, leaving Menester to answer her questions in his stead for abbreviated lesson time; the library itself was in an uproar with more assistants than ever involved in the process of making copies of those volumes that had none. Even the little reading room that had become her place for lessons had finally become a workplace where those responsible for binding the finished volumes worked. The corner Master Menester found for them that morning was anything but quiet.

Master Menester was nice, soft-spoken and gentle, patient with all of her questions. He was also very knowledgeable, although his way of teaching was different from Master Erestor's. And today, with her Ada and Nana removed to a far wing of the House for private time, the upheaval in the library itself, as well as with all the other large and small upsets of a family and people getting ready to divide itself in two, the change was enough to make it hard for Ivoreth to focus.

Evidently Master Menester was sensitive to such things as well, for he handed her book back to her with instructions to spend time in the garden reading; either he or Master Erestor would start again after the midday meal. Ivoreth wasn't entirely certain whether she should be happy to be given the unexpected free time or chastised for not concentrating enough to please her teachers.

The sound of low voices ahead drew her forward until she could see the stone draughts table and two seats that had been set in what Nana had told her once was called a gazebo. At the table, concentrating both on the game ahead of them and on the conversation they were sharing, were Grandfathers Elrond and Celeborn. Ivoreth recognized the intensity on their faces as one that most adults didn't like disturbed; and she was just turning to head in another direction when her Grandfather Elrond's voice calling her name stopped her and turned her about.

"I didn't want to interrupt," she said apologetically, answering her Grandfather's summons immediately.

"You are no interruption, little daughter," Grandfather Celeborn told her gently.

Grandfather Elrond reached out and gathered her close so that she stood in the circle of his arm about her waist. "Indeed not. I believe you were sent by the One as a good luck charm to aid me in my distress this morning." He gestured at the game board. "He has me in a terrible position, does he not? Perhaps now, with you here, I stand a chance of rallying."

Grandfather Celeborn actually smirked. "I doubt it, ion nîn. But your game has improved greatly since last we played. Even if I cannot give you a victory over me, that much I can give you."

Ivoreth blinked and stared first at Grandfather Celeborn, only to turn when Grandfather Elrond chuckled back. "I would have you know that I have had plenty of time - and the benefit of matching wits with Glorfindel of Gondolin and Imladris on a regular basis - in which to do so. I was distracted before, an error I shall not make again."

Grandfather Elrond's eyes narrowed as he studied the board, and Ivoreth swallowed the question of whether Glorfindel was good at draughts too. I don't know who I'll be able to play at draughts with when all my Grandfathers are gone. The thought made Ivoreth sad; here was another large part of what made her life enjoyable that would be ending very soon.

Grandfather Elrond made his move slowly and deliberately, and then hugged her a little tighter. "I felt that slump, little daughter. What bothers you?"

Ivoreth shook her head. "Nothing. I don't want to interrupt your..."

"You are no interruption, little daughter," Grandfather Celeborn repeated, his grey eyes now fixed on her. "If you are distressed, let us help."

Again she shook her head. "There's nothing to do for it," she told them both. "It's just something I'll have to get used to."

"And that is..." Grandfather Elrond caught at her hands and shook them slightly.

"I'm being selfish," Ivoreth accused herself, deciding that her toes were a good thing to look at.

"Ivoreth..."

Guiltily she raised her eyes to her Grandfather Elrond, to whom she had spilled so many of her secrets and fears. "Who will I play draughts with when everyone is gone West?" she asked simply.

"Me." Grandfather Celeborn reached out a long arm and caught at the hand filled with her book. "I do not seek the Havens with your Grandmother. And after a short time of finishing things in Lothlórien, I will be back to stay here." He smiled sadly at her. "Will I do?"

Ivoreth's mouth had dropped open. "But I thought you were leaving with Grandmother..."

Celeborn shook his head. "It is your Grandmother who needs to return to her home and family, not I. I shall have plenty of time to do so at a later date. I will remain here, with Glorfindel, to watch over your Grandfather Elrond's family for him until they are ready to sail."

"So... are you still so sad, little daughter?" Grandfather Elrond asked her gently.

She shook her head and wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. "I'm still going to miss our games," she whispered into his hair.

"As will I," he whispered back, and then released her enough so that he could kiss her forehead. "Now, be my good luck charm; and let us see if we cannot think our way out of the trap your Grandfather Celeborn has built around us."

"Only if I am allowed to avail myself of the services of your good luck charm for our next match," Celeborn shot back with a grin.

Elrond shook his head. "You need no charm. I, on the other hand..."

Ivoreth giggled and nestled against Grandfather Elrond's side to watch the rest of their game.

I'm making good memories to last long after he's gone. But she refused to let her building sadness show any longer. Good memories aren't about sadness. Master Erestor told me that there is always plenty of time for sadness; but that happiness must be captured and paid attention to right away, before it slips away unnoticed.

He's right.


oOoOo

"...and suddenly we could see just what the dragon had been guarding: gold, beyond anything you could have ever imagined!" Bilbo's arms moved as if painting the picture with gestures as well as words, his tone of voice one of awe and excitement.

"Are you still telling that well-worn tale, old friend?" came a rough voice from the direction of the garden gate that had the hobbit immediately looking about with delight on his face.

"Gandalf!" He set Raini down on the bench beside him before rising to his feet just in time to be engulfed in white robes and... white hair?

Ivoreth stared at the strange creature who had interrupted the story-telling. It was the first time since she'd left the Stone City that she'd seen anyone look as old as Bilbo; and this man - or was he an Elf? - looked even more incredibly old with a beard that hung almost to his waist. The hand that wasn't embracing Bilbo held a tall and graceful staff of white wood, and the hand looked strong in spite of its obvious age.

Raini scooted into Ivoreth's side with wide eyes, and Ivoreth wrapped her arms around her little sister protectively. While she usually felt safe in Grandfather Elrond's House after getting used to being around so many who had slowly became friends, she wasn't used to seeing many outright strangers.

And then the man - Elf, whatever - let Bilbo go and looked over at her; and Ivoreth found herself pinned by a sharp, blue gaze that, so like Grandmother's, seemed to penetrate all the way to the bottom of her soul. "And who do we have here?" he asked, the rough voice showing amusement.

"These," replied Bilbo grandly, "are Lord Elladan's foster-daughters. This is Ivoreth, and her sister Raini. Girls, this is Gandalf." He bent forward slightly. "He's a wizard."

Ivoreth slipped from her seat and sketched a little curtsey, while Raini hung onto her free hand tightly.

"Elladan's girls, eh?" Gandalf crouched so as to put himself more at their eye level before putting out a hand in Ivoreth's direction as if to draw her closer. "I had no idea that he had taken on the task of bringing up children - and mortal children at that!"

"Ah, Mithrandir! I heard from the stablemen that Shadowfax had found his way to the best stall in the place, so I naturally assumed you must be close-by. Have you seen Adar yet?"

Ivoreth sighed in relief at the sound of Elrohir's voice; she loved Bilbo dearly, but the ancient hobbit could hardly be counted on as protection from that seeking hand.

Mith... Huh? I thought Bilbo called him Gandalf? And isn't Mith-*something* what Master Erestor called the White Wizard? Or was that Curunir?

"I have, and I had thought to confer with Bilbo regarding arrangements for him and Frodo, but found him occupied with telling tall tales to these two charming ladies - whom Bilbo tells me are your... adoptive nieces?" Ivoreth watched in amazement as the bushy eyebrows worked up and down.

Elrohir's smile was wide. "So nice to know that we can still surprise you. These are indeed Elladan's daughters." He slipped up next to Ivoreth and put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "I think I heard Cook say something about apple tarts. Shall we see if we can convince her to part with a couple, and let Mithrandir speak with Bilbo?"

"We can continue this story tomorrow," Bilbo added gamely. "We were just getting to the really good part, you know..."

"All right." Ivoreth was happy to settle into Elrohir's side, with Raini held tightly in the other hand and her almost-Ada's hand still on her shoulder.

"Elrohir." Ivoreth glanced up at the old one's call in time to see that his blue eyes had widened, and his gaze had abruptly shifted from her and her sister to Elrohir.

"Yes?"

Now the blue eyes narrowed. "Are you certain you know what you are doing?"

"I have a good idea," Elrohir looked startled for a moment, but answered easily.

Gandalf - Mithrandir - whatever his name was, shook his head. "I would speak to you of this later."

"As I would speak to you," Elrohir replied with a solemn nod. "But for now, I will give you time in private with Bilbo, as you desire." He patted Ivoreth's shoulder. "Come along, then."

Ivoreth bent to pick up Raini and then matched her pace to Elrohir's. "Are you in trouble?" she asked quietly.

"E'rohir in trouble?" Raini parroted worriedly.

"Nay, not really," he answered with a comforting smile for each of them. "Worry yourselves not about me, dear ones. Mithrandir and I have known each other for a very long time, and he has the ability to see small changes every easily. We will talk, and all will be settled quickly."

But Elrohir's mouth grew thin as they walked, and Ivoreth wondered whether the talk with the amazing wizard would be quite as simple as Elrohir said it would. She hoped so; they all had had enough troubles for a while.

oOoOo

"But..." Ivoreth began as the pretty dress with the flowers was pulled over her head and tugged down into place.

"You would want to look your best for this," Grandmother stated firmly, gentle hands at her shoulders turning her so that the sash of the dress could be tied properly. "An occasion of this sort has rarely happened among our people; you will be one of only a very small number of mortals ever to witness the peaceful transition of power from one Elven ruler to another. Even among the edhil, this is a very special event. It is only fitting that as many Elven rulers as possible be present as witnesses, which is why even King Thranduil from Eryn Lasgalen is here."

Ivoreth blinked at her Grandmother's reflection in the silver mirror. "A k...king is here?"

"A king has always been here, even if he refused to claim the title, child," she replied, their gazes meeting in the mirror briefly before she reached for a comb to begin the job of braiding Ivoreth's hair. "Your Grandfather Elrond has been carrying out the duties of High King for a very long time, even though he knew better than to try to call himself one. And now that he is almost ready to journey West, he must hand on his remaining responsibilities to someone who will carry on as he has all this time."

Grandfather Elrond - the High King? Nobody ever told me that... Ivoreth tried to imagine her gentle, wise and sometimes mischievous Grandfather sitting on a throne with a tall crown on his head like Elessar's - and failed miserably.

"Who?" Ivoreth asked, her mind finally processing everything she was being told. "Who will he give his duties to?"

"Two whos, actually," Grandmother replied. "Your Ada and Elrohir will be given joint rule over Imladris as of today."

Ivoreth twisted her head sharply to look at her Grandmother. "Ada will be High King?" she gaped.

Grandmother shook her head and gently turned Ivoreth so that she could finish braiding her hair. "No, nethben. There is no need for a High King in Ennor any longer, as few Elves will remain behind once your Grandfather Elrond and I are gone. Your Ada and Elrohir will rule Imladris, and all who dwell here will give their allegiance to them. Thranduil will continue to rule his realm as he has done for a long time now."

That still didn't make sense. "What about Grandfather Celeborn?"

"He has no wish to rule any longer," Grandmother answered after a long moment. "He will return to Lothlórien only long enough to finish arrangements to move himself and the remaining Galadhrim here, to Imladris, and then return to serve as advisor." Her eyes met and held Ivoreth's in the mirror. "He stays to watch over the Galadhrim who, like him, would linger here still; and to watch over your Ada and Elrohir, until they are ready to travel West once Estel and Arwen have stepped beyond the circles of the world. I am told that both Elladan and Elrohir have chosen to be counted among the Firstborn, and so they will seek the Havens eventually." Her face flickered with a brief glimpse of grief. "That will comfort Elrond, I'm certain. It would be very difficult for him to leave, knowing his daughter lost to him and not yet knowing when or if his sons would follow him in the end."

Grandmother made quick work of finishing with Ivoreth's hair; and then she held out a hand to Raini, who had been sitting quietly on the bed. Already dressed and cuddling her stuffed toy, the little girl scooted to the edge and lifted her free arm to be picked up. "The ceremony will start at four bells, so we will need to move quickly now." Grandmother took Raini up in her arms and gestured with her chin toward the chamber door for Ivoreth to lead the way.

The Hall of Fire had been decorated, Ivoreth was astonished to see; many banners covered the walls, each with a circular device that looked as if they showed the various seasons of the year. Grandmother maneuvered herself and Ivoreth through the crowd and to Grandfather Celeborn's side, where he stood with Nana, Nana's adar and another tall, golden Elf with a circlet of fine gold of his own on his head.

Before the great hearth stood Grandfather Elrond, looking more regal and solemn than Ivoreth had ever seen him. Dressed in robes the color of wine and a circlet of silver with a blue stone at his forehead, he looked every bit the part of the king that she hadn't been able to imagine before. Beside him in his brilliant white stood the wizard, Gand... Mithra... Ivoreth blinked as her memory of the wizard's true name still escaped her. And kneeling before those two were her Ada and Elrohir, both once more in the fine green and blue robes and golden circlets she'd seen them wear at the wedding.

"Do you, my sons, accept the joys and sorrows, the benefits and obligations, and the ultimate responsibility for the welfare of Imladris, its people and its lands? Will you defend it against all foes, and treat honorably on behalf of it with all the other lands of Ennor?"

Together and in one voice, Ada and Elrohir answered, "We will."

Grandfather Elrond turned, and two Elves came from each side of the crowd, each bearing a cushion with a circlet. With a nod, Elrond summoned the wizard forward; and each took a circlet from one of the Elves' foreheads and replaced it with the circlet from the cushion. "Arise now, Lords and Masters of Imladris," the wizard pronounced grandly.

Ivoreth could only marvel at how her Ada and Elrohir could move so much alike that they almost seemed a mirror reflection of each other except for the different colored robes. The circlets they now wore each had a blue stone, like Grandfather Elrond's.

"People of Imladris, will you come forward and pledge your loyalty to the new Masters of Imladris?" Grandfather Elrond called out into the crowd.

Grandmother set Raini down. "Move forward with the others, little daughter - take your Naneth's hand. Even those of your own house must kneel and swear fealty."

Ivoreth felt her Nana's hand close on hers, and she in turn took firm hold of Raini's hand; and the three of them moved forward until they stood right in front of Ada. With a tug, Nana got Ivoreth to kneel with her, and Raini did as they did. "Repeat after me," she whispered, and Ivoreth nodded obedience.

"I give my oath of fealty to the Lords of Imladris, to defend it against all foes, and to comfort and support all who dwell therein to the best of my ability. So say I, Ivoreth Elladaniel."

"We accept your oaths in gratitude," the combined voices of both Masters replied. "May we all dwell together in peace and security unto the breaking of the world."

A ringing call from silver horns filled the hall, along with a shout from those who had not included themselves among the Imladrim. This great cheer caught on and spread as the Imladrim regained their feet and began to celebrate. Ivoreth watched as Grandfather Elrond gave both of his sons what she'd learned was a warrior's grasp before reaching his hands up and removing the circlet from his own brow.

"This has not happened in over an Age of the world," Nana bent and whispered into Ivoreth's ear. "Usually, an Elven crown passes only when the former king falls in battle. This is the first time a ruler has voluntarily given up his rule since the War of Wrath."

Ivoreth gazed forward at her Ada, her Grandfather, and Elrohir, feeling the sense of history in the making surrounding her. She would have to listen and watch closely and sort those memories to make certain they stayed bright and fresh. This was a day that should be remembered! She had used her name - her new full name - for the first time, and sworn an oath that she would have no trouble keeping. She was Imladrim, she was Elladaniel, and she was proud to be both. And the twinkle in her Ada's eye as he looked down at her made her feel very warm, very safe, and very much loved.

A/N: The quote from the wedding vows was borrowed from "The King's Surgeon" by SurgicalSteel.

Sindarin Vocabulary

daeradar - grandfather (neo-Sindarin)
edhil - Elves
Imladhrim - the people of Imladris
nethben - little one
Taur-en-Ndaedelos - lit. "wood of great dread", Mirkwood

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.

Story Information

Author: Aeärwen

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Post-Ring War

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 06/20/10

Original Post: 05/02/09

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