10. Wedding Day
Chapter 10 Wedding Day
It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining high in the sky. A light breeze blew, rustling the leaves in the trees. Caladwen woke up to the sound of the birds singing outside her talan. There was a knock on her door.
"Come in." she called and Legolas walked in with a smile spread across his lips. He brought with him a tray of fruit, sweet rolls and elvish tea.
"I wanted to be the first to see you on this special day. I thought it would be nice to have breakfast with you this morning."
Caladwen sat up in bed and rubbed her eyes. "That would be nice, Ada." There was another knock on the door. "Yes?" she called. The door slowly opened and in walked Eowyn. Caladwen smiled. "Mother? I did not know you were in the Forest."
"Your ada and I thought it would be nice to have breakfast as a family. We have spent so few days together as such." Eowyn said. As she spoke, she looked lovingly at Legolas. Caladwen could not remember seeing such an exchange between them. Maybe it was possible after all to love someone that you could not have.
"Well, this is the best way to start the day off. I am grateful to have both of you here. This is a scene I wished we could have been a part of more often." Caladwen said. When she was little, she used to wish Eowyn and Legolas were together so she could witness them as a couple. There was always something special in the air when they were together in the same place.
The three sat, ate, and talked about the past. It was the best morning Caladwen ever had. She noticed how Legolas focused all of his attention on Eowyn when she told a story from their past. She could tell he was reliving those days as Eowyn spoke and wished things were still the same.
When Legolas told his side of things, Eowyn sat quietly with a smile on her face and a light in her eyes that was meant only for him. There was an unspoken love between them from days long past. She belonged to Faramir now, heart, body and soul but a part of her would always love Legolas. It was sweet yet sad in a way. She remembered what Legolas said about waiting to be with her again someday. Would her mother be an old woman by that time? It seemed it did not matter to her father. True beauty was on the inside. If Faramir died before her mother, Legolas would be there to support her and love her. He would never let her be alone, like a guardian; like Haldir.
"Well, I think we have spent enough time here this morning." Eowyn piped in. "There is much to do yet. Are you ready to get this day going, my daughter?"
"Finally, yes. Today I am marrying the man I fell in love with. Today I will become a wife." Caladwen said dreamily.
"And today, Leodred will become a husband." Eowyn chimed in.
Legolas went to Caladwen and held her face in his hand. "And tomorrow you will leave Ithilien to start your new life in Rohan." There was such sadness in his voice. Eowyn put her arm around his waist. She knew how hard Caladwen's leaving would be on him. It seemed sometimes Legolas needed Eowyn's love and support also.
"It won't be so bad, Ada. After we are settled in our new home, Leodred and I will come back to visit. And you will always be welcome to come to Rohan." Caladwen tried to cheer up her father.
"Now I know how Thranduil felt when I set out for Rivendell." Legolas said.
Eowyn smiled. "Yes and the king seems to be in quite good shape. He has managed to survive without his only son, his most precious jewel by his side after all these years. You will do the same." Eowyn was never one to sit and wallow in misery. She turned to Caladwen. "Let's begin, pen vuin." [dear one]
Legolas took the empty tray and left the talan, winking to his daughter before he disappeared. Eowyn laughed to herself. "Your ada worries for you so. He means well though. Your parting to Rohan will be hard on him but I will see that he does not dwell long in his sorrow."
"It is hard for him to accept my marriage. He is afraid I will lose my way and be hasty in my decisions. I know what is expected of me. I understand my role as a Peredhil. I will not jeopardize my future."
Eowyn picked up a brush and ran it through Caladwen's hair. "You do realize this means you cannot bear a child with Leodred, unless you accept life as a mortal?"
"Of course Mother." Caladwen answered.
"Does Leodred understand this?" Eowyn asked with a more serious tone.
"We have discussed it many times. He says he loves me no matter what may happen or what I choose. He would sacrifice having an heir just to be with me."
Eowyn smiled to herself. She understood his sacrifice since she was willing to do the same once. "Leodred is a good man. I am proud of you both. This union will be a blessed one."
There came a knock on the door. "Come in." Caladwen and Eowyn called together and they giggled. Faramir came in holding a beautiful bouquet of fresh picked flowers. His eyes lit up when he saw Caladwen.
"My dear, you look beautiful this morning. Leodred is a very lucky man." he beamed.
"Thank you, Faramir." Caladwen smiled in return. When she was young, they taught her to call Legolas Ada, elvish for father. Faramir was known as Father so there would be no confusion. As she got older, she felt a little awkward calling him by that name. She had a father, Legolas. Even though she loved Faramir like a dad, she decided to call him by his given name. Of course, Faramir was not hurt by this gesture. He knew it was only right and accepted the change.
Faramir walked into the room and approached the two women. Caladwen watched as he handed the flowers to Eowyn and kissed her on the cheek. They were so much in love. Caladwen learned much from them as she grew up. She learned how to respect each other, to compromise when an agreement could not be reached, and how to love someone with your whole being.
Eowyn took the bouquet from him. "These are very lovely. I will find a vase to put them in."
Faramir grabbed her by the waist and drew her near. "These are not for the bride." He glanced at Caladwen with a grin. "She will have a husband to bring her flowers." He looked once again at Eowyn and captured her stare with his. "These are for the mother of the bride. Not all attention will be on Caladwen this day." They leaned into each other and kissed. Caladwen just shook her head. There they go again, she thought to herself. If there was one thing, she learned it was not to be afraid to show affection in public. Although she loved Leodred, they had not reached such passion yet. They were still nervous with each other at times. Caladwen wondered if they would ever be that relaxed with one another.
Eowyn and Faramir parted lips and looked longingly at each other for a moment. Finally, Eowyn spoke. "Alright then, we have much to do and no man or Elf shall disturb us any longer. Why don't you go check on Legolas. He needs some company right now, but behave yourselves."
Faramir walked towards the talan door. "Yes my love."
"And when you see Leodred, don't give him a hard time. He will be nervous enough as it is without you or Legolas teasing him." Eowyn reminded him.
"Why would you think such a thing, my dear?" he said playfully.
"Because I remember how my brother teased you on our wedding day. And when you see him tell him the same." Eowyn called.
"Yes love of my life." he said as he closed the door. Legolas was standing outside on the walkway waiting for Faramir. He looked at Legolas with much seriousness. "My wife informs me that you seem distraught and in need of company. Is this true?"
Legolas creased his brow. "If that was so then how would I be able to banter the groom."
Faramir laughed lightly. "Are you ready to go to the palace, my friend? Eomer arrived late last night and I don't want him to have all the fun."
The two friends patted each other on the shoulder and burst into laughter. Back in Caladwen's room, Eowyn was shaking her head. "Men." she said quietly.
Caladwen laughed. "And apparently Elves too. May Eru spare my poor husband to be."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
The wedding ceremony was a beautiful success. There was not a dry eye in the hall. Caladwen looked beautiful in her long white flowing elven gown. Two thin braided locks of hair hung in front of each shoulder. A mithril circlet adorned her head. It had belonged to Legolas' mother and she wore it the day of her binding with Thranduil. As she entered the hall, all eyes were upon her and everyone bowed as she passed by. She came to the end of the hall where Leodred stood waiting for her. His eyes lit up at the sight of her. She had a glow about her and he realized for the first time how much elven blood ran through her veins. Only the Firstborn had such luminosity. It dawned on him just how precious a gift she was. To take her as his wife and have her love made him feel blessed by the Valar. He cherished her and would live every moment for her happiness.
Caladwen approached Leodred. Just before she reached him, Legolas stepped up to her and held his arm out for her to take. His smile was radiant and his pride for his beautiful daughter shone brightly. "You are absolutely stunning pen vuin." he said as a tear threatened the corner of his eye.
Caladwen smiled at her father. "Don't start or you will make me cry, Ada."
Legolas led her to Leodred and released her arm. Then he took his place next to Eowyn. Standing next to Leodred was Eomer. Since Leodred's father could not be his witness, he had asked Eomer, his King, to stand in. Eomer was honored to be a part of their wedding. Both men were dressed in their Rohan attire, a white horse plainly visible upon the chest of their uniforms.
Everyone faced the crowd and waited for the King and Queen of Gondor to make their way down the hall and join the others. Caladwen quickly scanned the audience. Sitting up front was her aunt, Eomer's wife, Lothiriel along with their children and grandchildren. Caladwen's half brother Elboron, sat with his cousins. Leodred's mother sat with them, a smile spread across her face. A little further back was Gimli and some of his Dwarf kin. To the other side were Elves of North Ithilien. Many were friends of Caladwen's. Sitting with them was her grandfather, King Thranduil. He had a look of pride on his countenance and nodded to Caladwen who smiled in return. There was no mistaking the Lorien Elves. Lord Celeborn sat with his company. She did not linger too long on him, afraid to have her mind read and fluster her even more than she already was. Her eyes swept left and fell upon Haldir. He was sitting with Nieriel and they were holding hands. He gave Caladwen a small smile before looking back at Nieriel. She was happy for the Marchwarden. He seemed to have found what he was looking for.
Finally, the ceremony began as the King and Queen of Gondor entered the hall opposite of where the wedding party stood. Aragorn and Arwen were a sight to behold. They were fully adorned in their royal garb. They stood tall and proud, each representing their own race. It was very fitting for them to perform the ceremony. Everyone in the hall bowed low as Aragorn and Arwen walked through the hall. They took their place at the head of the hall and looked to Caladwen and Leodred. Aragorn smiled and spoke in a soft tone.
"It is a great honor for me to bring this blessed couple together. It is a union, which will no doubt bring joy and understanding to many. Let no one here doubt the joining of these two, Man and Peredhil. To doubt their union is to question their own King and Queen. Rather, let us learn from them and may the ways of the Elves be forever instilled in our hearts." Aragorn looked to Legolas and nodded.
Legolas kissed his daughter on the cheek and she went to Leodred. Eomer nodded to both. The young couple stood shoulder-to-shoulder and listened to Aragorn's words as the ceremony commenced. After many kind words and a little advice, Arwen brought Aragorn the rings, which he handed to the couple. As Caladwen and Leodred exchanged rings, they sang their vows in the language of the Rohirrim. Finally, Aragorn announced them as husband and wife. The crowd clapped and voiced their approval. Caladwen and Leodred kissed and turned to face their friends and family. Leodred offered Caladwen his arm and she laid her hand in the crook of his elbow. They made their way down the hall, back the way they came, smiling and nodding to those who yelled their names. Many children ran up to them and threw rose petals at their feet as they continued their way down the hall. They exited to the courtyard, which was decorated for the occasion. This was where the celebration was to be held. Two heavy looking wooden chairs were placed under an oak tree. The couple would sit here as the guests all had a chance to congratulate them. Everyone had their turn, even Haldir and Nieriel. It was time to let the feast begin. Minstrels played their instruments to mark the beginning of the festivities. Food was brought out on silver trays and placed on tables. Wine and ale flowed freely. Dancing soon commenced and everyone was happy. As the sun began to set, maidens lit small lanterns that hung from the trees, lighting the courtyard. It was very romantic and many couples seemed lost to each other, caught up in the moment, renewing their own love.
Caladwen and Leodred were tired by now. She had danced with just about everyone and her feet ached. Leodred was over by Eomer, discussing plans for him when they returned to Rohan. They were to start their journey the next day, traveling with Eomer and the others from Rohan. That is when Caladwen realized this would be her last night in Ithilien. She had not thought much about it. Even though she watched as her belongings were packed up and some sent on ahead, it did not feel real until now. She would miss the forest and her friends there. She would miss her mother and father, Faramir too. Caladwen felt a little lonely. She knew no one in Rohan besides her aunt, uncle, cousins and Leodred's mother. There were no Elves there, no one to discuss elvish life. Then she remembered what Haldir told her about no longer being the student but becoming the teacher. This was her path now. She would teach them the ways of the Elves and live as she would in her own forest home.
"Hello Caladwen." said a smooth voice. Haldir approached her where she sat. He smiled and sat next to her. "How do you feel?"
"I feel wonderful, Haldir. It was everything I thought it would be and more. I am no longer confused about my future. I think I know what it is I must do. You have helped me with that. Thank you so much, Haldir. Thank you for everything."
Haldir looked around to make sure no one was listening in on their conversation. When it seemed they were truly alone, he reached into his robe and fished out a small worn book. It had elvish runes on the leather cover. He held it in his hands and gazed upon it as though lost in a memory. "This was given to me by my mother right before she died. It contains all the stories of the Elves beginning with Eru and the making of Middle Earth and Valinor. The stories of the Eldar are written in here, our whole history. It helped me to understand where it is I come from. I am giving it to you now. I think you will get much use from it. If ever you are confused, just read from it and absorb its meanings with an open heart. The rest will come naturally to you. Use this in your teachings." He handed her the book.
Caladwen flipped through some of the pages. It was written in Elvish. Along with the stories were also songs and prayers. It looked like it had gotten a lot of use. She looked to Haldir. "Are you sure you want to part with this? It seems you have read it often. It was a gift from your mother. I'm not sure I can…"
"I am very sure and I want you to have it." he said placing his hand on hers and closing her fingers around the leather binding. "Take good care of it for I may want it back when we should meet again." he said in his stern guardian manner.
Caladwen smiled. "Thank you. I will treasure it and keep it safe." Tears welled up in her eyes and she looked to Haldir once more. "I am going to miss you greatly, Haldir."
He held his arms out and she buried her face in his chest. He wrapped his arms around her and comforted her as best he could. "I will miss your sweet face. Do not worry for we shall meet again. May the Valar watch you and guide you along your path."
Caladwen sat back and looked at his silver eyes. No one else could have seen the sadness he held for her departing but her. Haldir was good at keeping his emotions hidden.
Haldir reached out and wiped the tears from her face. He smiled as he did. She leaned in and kissed him on his cheek. He closed his eyes as he felt a tugging at his heart. He would miss her more than he knew at the moment. The warmth from her kiss traveled to his heart and this time he did not stop it. He let it melt the icy barrier and settle deep inside to his very soul. For the first time, Haldir experienced love.
Caladwen stood up and Haldir followed. "I must get back to Leodred. He has spent entirely too much time with my uncle. There will be plenty of time to discuss plans on our return journey to Rohan." She looked down to the book in her hands. "Thank you again, Haldir."
"I will see you tomorrow before you leave, my lady. Now go and be with your beloved." Haldir said and watched as Caladwen went to her husband. He felt a warm hand travel across his back. "Nieriel." he breathed. He turned to her and wrapped his arms around her waist.
"You will miss her immensely won't you? I know she is very special to you. When you are with her, I see a look in your eyes that you have for no other." Nieriel whispered.
"I swore an oath to her but it seems I have not been able to keep it for very long. I feel as though I cannot live up to my promises lately." he said sadly.
"You have kept your promise to me, melethron. I have been very content to be with you." she said kissing him.
"Nieriel, there is something I need to ask you." Haldir paused. "I feel my time here in Ithilien is coming to an end. I came here for Caladwen and tomorrow she leaves. It has been a long time since I have seen my home. My heart tells me it is time to go back but I promised not to leave you and…"
"It is alright, Marchwarden. I knew this day would come. I have already spoken to Prince Legolas. He agrees that I should see the Golden Woods before I sail. I want to go with you to your home in Lorien." Nieriel smiled shyly to him.
"You would leave your kin, your job to come with me?" he said surprised.
"Of course. Haldir, you helped me to live my life to its fullest and I do not want that to end. The least I can do is help you to live yours the way you see fit. I trust you, melethron. I know you will not mislead me."
Haldir scooped Nieriel up in his strong arms and kissed her passionately. "You have made me so happy. Oh, you will not be disappointed. Lothlorien is the fairest forest in all Middle Earth. It is magical. I cannot wait for you to see Caras Galadhon. The mallorn trees will absolutely stun you." Haldir went on and on about Lorien. Nieriel had never seen him so excited about anything. She listened to the way he explained the trees and the smells. She felt like she was already there as he drew her into his world with his words. He spoke with a passion she had not seen before. Nieriel giggled and kissed him and played along. She could not bring herself to tell him she had been to Lothlorien before.
"I cannot wait to see it and live amongst the Lorien Elves."
"And they will gladly accept you, melethril. You will be welcome by all. If you behave yourself, I might even ask for permission to take you on patrol to the borders." Haldir teased.
"Oh but I find it very difficult to behave myself when you are near." she whispered in his ear.
"Let us go back to our talan, my beauty and show me how disobedient you can be." he said in a low sultry tone. "I will think of a proper punishment for you."
"I cannot wait but there are a few things I must tend to. I must organize the cleanup first for I believe this celebration is about to end. Look." she said pointing towards Leodred and Caladwen. He was kissing her neck and their hands were beginning to wander. This had not even come to Haldir's mind before. Tonight, Caladwen would become a woman in every sense of the word. Apparently, she and Leodred had had enough of the festivities and seemed lost in each other's company. Suddenly Haldir felt a slight tugging at his heart again. This time he knocked it out quickly, ignoring the feeling of jealousy. This was ridiculous, these feelings he was experiencing. It was time to bury them deep within his heart and build up his barrier once again. Haldir and Caladwen were on two separate roads now. It was time to get on with life and not dwell in the past or look towards an unsure future. Right now, he had Nieriel and she was coming with him to Lothlorien. That was all he needed at the moment… for now at least.