Darkness was gathering, and the song that floated in the air of Imladris was a paean to Elbereth, the Star-Kindler. Soon enough, the glittering gems that were Elbereth's gift to the world would begin to shine in the sky above as the world below slowed to rest. The early summer evenings still held a touch of Springtime chill, however.
Meg neither turned nor looked as the warmth of a garment worn and only recently removed settled about her shoulders as she stood on the front portico of Imladris, her eyes trained on the opening in the wall. She knew who would have done such a thing - only one here besides her husband felt close enough to her to take such a liberty. "He will return, child," Celeborn's expected voice chimed softly in English, his American accent soothing to her ears; and he didn't entirely let go of her, but let his hands rest on her shoulders.
"Iston." I know, she returned in Sindarin. Even after all this time, some things never changed: when alone together, each continued to speak in the mother tongue of the other, as they had from the start.
Wendell had made several of his trips to the outer world in the years since their wedding, treks that never failed to make her nervous. She knew the dangers of the world of Men all too well; what if something befell him while in that village? What if he was hit by a car crossing the road - or whatever kind of vehicles they might have now? How would any of them know?
Celeborn knew her thoughts all too well too, having heard her fuss at him often enough before in similar situations. "Your worry will not bring him home any faster; I keep reminding you of this, and you never change."
She didn't have to look to know that it was the Lord's own robe that now hung from her shoulders and puddled on the stone at her feet from being made for someone so much taller than she was. That and the pressure of his hands was a welcome and needed comfort, for in Celeborn she had found someone she could look up to as a father figure, and someone who had over time become more than willing to play a decidedly paternal role when it suited him. During those rare times when Wendell needed to venture outside his protective girdle about Imladris, she needed the Elf-Lord's calm steadiness and unwavering conviction; and it was then when he was most likely to oblige her.
But she needed his strength and support more this time than before, and Meg allowed herself to lean back ever so slightly and to draw comfort from the patriarch that stood behind her. She felt again the light fluttering that was the life she carried, and wanted more than anything to finally share the good news with her husband privately, and only then with the others.
The two of them had discussed children often in the weeks and months of their first year of marriage - drawing strength from Yavanna's assurance that their children would be no more mortal than they - and had decided not to actively prevent conception. When so many years had passed with no results, the healer Gilvelui had confessed she didn't know if the problem was that the same kind of effort of the faer would be needed as was the case for the Eldar, or whether the draught that had given Meg the life of the Eldar had taken from her the ability to bear children along with her mortality.
Meg had been deeply disappointed, but had eventually put the matter behind her. Imladris had no other children to bring her lack to her attention, however; and she slowly convinced herself to be content with what she had: a husband who doted on her, an Elf-Lord whom she had come to admire and look up to, many friends with whom she could laugh and sing and tell stories to fill the evening hours, and a sense of purpose to her daily tasks that gave her a sense of accomplishment when the day was done.
And so the years had passed - how many she didn't know any longer, for she no longer kept count. It had taken time for her to lose the need to do so; Wendell and Norwen kept reminding her that this was a Mortal way of thinking, and eventually she had seen the logic in their argument.
Then, as the first thaws of a new spring began to chase away the snows, her courses - which had been as regular as clockwork - had ceased, and very secretly she had begun to hope. And now, with the fluttering in her lower regions becoming more determined by the hour, she was certain. She had consulted with Gilvelui earlier in the day, and then sworn the healer to secrecy. Meg herself would deliver the news to him, nobody else.
There they were - the distant sounds of hooves against the wood of the bridge over the Baraduin, and the song of welcome that opened the bubble of protection that hid their home - the sounds she had been waiting for. The long day that had started with a farewell was over, and the absent was now returned. Meg began bouncing on the balls of her feet in her excitement, and heard the low sound of Celeborn's soft laughter behind her. But she didn't care; he was finally home!
From the sounds of it, Wendell had had enough of the day as well, for Naurchim's hoofbeats came faster, as if he'd been convinced to break into a trot. In a moment that Meg felt dragged far more than necessary, the chestnut stallion and rider made the corner and came straight to the gate. The cloth bundles that hung behind him across the horse's wide back looked full, indicating the success of yet another shopping trip; and his smile was wide, if somewhat tired.
"Thank you, my friend," he said earnestly, slipping from Naurchim's back and catching at the linked bundles with a quick hand. "Go on, now. No doubt Aglaron is waiting for you with the sweetest of grasses and fresh straw." Naurchim tossed his head and trotted off in the direction of the stable, where even now Aglaron was stepping outside.
"My Lord," Wendell greeted Celeborn.
"Your venture was successful, I take it?"
"Indeed. Gilvelui and Norwen will be quite pleased with me this time, as will Brangalad." With a bow, he presented the bundles to Celeborn, who hefted them with a raised eyebrow.
"Is there news?" It was the one question Celeborn asked each time that made Meg hold her breath.
"Nothing that concerns Imladris, my Lord; one nation of Men battles another, as always, only the names of the nations involved changes. I did, however, hear speculation that some limited logging may take place near the lake, but only to make room for more tourist facilities within the park. Our girdle holds; none suspect our presence."
"Good." Meg saw Celeborn cast her a twinkling gaze. "Then I shall leave you to the tender greetings of your lady-wife, who was dancing on her toes only moments ago at the first sight of you."
"My Lord." Wendell bowed again and then smiled widely as Celeborn withdrew into the house. "Meg." He needed only whisper her name and she was flying into his arms and wrapping hers about his neck tightly to press her lips to his. He spun her around, and then commented with raised brows as they parted to breathe, "I should travel more often, if this is the welcome I can get."
"Stop that!" Meg shook her head at him. He knew how much she hated the need for him to leave Imladris and her. "I'm excited because I have news for you."
"Do you indeed?" He set her feet back down on the ground, tucked her shoulders beneath his arm and started toward the house. "Have you finally conquered successfully making… what do you call it… an 'angel-food cake' so that I might taste this marvel?"
"No, but you're on the right track," she grinned at him. "I am making something, but not a cake."
"You are trying a new recipe?"
"Nothing to do with the kitchen."
That made him slow his steps. "You are learning a new craft?"
"I'll need to learn new skills, yes, but not for a while yet," she admitted, her smile widening.
"Will I need to learn this craft as well, or will you be able to handle everything on your own?"
"I'll definitely need your help, but not for a while yet. You'll have time to get used to the idea before you'll need to pitch in."
His steps slowed even more. "That is twice you have said 'not for a while yet,' and I know of no craft where the beginner is not in more need of assistance than one who has been at the job a while."
"Perhaps that's because the actual task cannot begin immediately, but must await an event that won't come until later."
"Meg." He pulled her into the closest alcove he could find, clearly confused now. "What sort of task does not start immediately?"
She leaned up and kissed his beard-covered face. "You, my beloved Istar, haven't been paying proper attention to me lately."
"What?" Now he looked her up and down. "You look little changed - perhaps a little thicker about the waist. You have been sampling your own good cooking too much…"
"Yes, but cooking in the kitchen had very little to do with why my body is changing." She caught at his hand and put it on her lower stomach, directly over where the fluttering was happening even as they spoke.
Wendell frowned for a moment, and then his eyes grew wide in surprise and awe. "But, we thought…"
"We were wrong."
"And you are…"
"We are, yes." She grinned at him with open delight and excitement.
He bent in intense concentration, his hand over the flutter. "A son," he whispered and then looked up into her face with an expression of wonder such as she'd never seen on his face before. "We will have a son!"
"A boy?" She didn't doubt his ability to know such things any longer; she'd seen him do too many impossible things in their time together to disbelieve.
"Have you told…"
"I wanted to tell you first," she interrupted him.
Wendell straightened and gazed at her. Meg would never tire of looking into her husband's handsome face, especially when it was looking back at her with that expression. "I waited for a long time for you; and now you have brought me more happiness than I had ever dreamed possible."
"I love you," she answered simply.
"We should tell Lord Celeborn; he will want to know." A pleased and supremely proud grin began to spread across his features. "Who knows, perhaps this will be the beginning of… how is it called in the outer world… a fad?"
Meg chuckled, but dove into his arms and held him very tight. "As long as you are happy."
Those arms closed around her and held her back. "My gift from the Valar, you make me most content. Not even the Blessed Lands hold more for me than what I have right here, right now."
They stood, enjoying the togetherness for a long moment; and then Wendell kissed her forehead. "Should we tell him before, or during, the meal, do you think?"
"During. It will be interesting to watch his face, if we time the announcement right." Meg slipped very comfortably beneath Wendell's arm again. "Perhaps as he is taking a sip of wine?"
"You, my wife, are a trouble-maker."
"I might as well keep up the tradition - especially since I now have someone to pass it along to."
Wendell threw his head back and laughed long and well at her, and Meg pressed her face into his chest.
She had chosen well, and was content beyond any of her dreams. She had her husband and a love greater than even that which her parents had shared, she had friends, she had an occupation that suited her and gave purpose to her life - and soon she would have a child. She closed her eyes in gratitude, and could only think of one name to call on. Yavanna, thank you.
As if from afar, a voice heard long before chimed gently in the back of her mind: My Blessings on you, Child of Eru.
"Are you well?"
Wendell's voice was full of concern, and it pulled her from her reverie. "I'm fine," she reassured him, wanting nothing more than to smooth the folds of worry from his face. "I couldn't be better."