A Tale of Mirkwood - Chapter 35 ~ The Time Has Come
CHAPTER XXXV - THE TIME HAS COME
The time had at last come for Aragorn and Arwen's wedding. Brilliant stars filled the nighttime sky, and a warm summer breeze wafted sweetly around those in attendance. Legolas stood beside Gimli and the Hobbits who waited impatiently for the ceremony to begin.
"Merry," Pippin whispered, "I'm hungry. How long do you think it's going to last?"
"I don't know, Pip," Merry said, now scolding himself for not having put an apple or two in his pocket.
"Do you think I have time to run to the kitchens?" Pippin asked, hopefully.
"I shouldn't think so," Frodo said, laughing. "The wedding's about to begin. See! There's Aragorn now."
"Legolas," Pippin whispered, tugging on the elf's doublet, "how long do elvish weddings usually last?"
"Oh, not long, Pippin," Legolas said, smiling. Pippin sighed, now relieved he wasn't going to have to wait forever for the festivities. "However," Legolas continued, "Elven tradition stipulates that those in attendance can neither eat nor drink until the two days of chanting are complete."
"Two days of chanting?!" Pippin repeated loudly. Gandalf shot a reproaching glance Pippin's way, and his face promptly turned scarlet.
"The elf teases you, I think, young hobbit," Gimli said, his eyes twinkling with amusement.
Pippin gazed up at Legolas with hope-filled eyes, and Legolas could not deceive the impish creature any longer. "Alas, Gimli speaks the truth. You will not have long to wait for the banquet feast, poor starveling."
Sighing with relief, Pippin smiled and at once began to enjoy himself. The nuptials soon began and all stood transfixed at the radiant elf-bride as she walked down the aisle towards her beloved.
Sam sighed. "I wonder what Rosie Cotton's doing about now. How I miss seeing that pretty, pretty face. She could be walking down the isle as we speak," he said with a catch in his voice.
"Don't worry, Sam," Frodo assured. "I'd wager Bag End that Rosie's sitting at home thinking of you this very moment."
Sam turned to him and whispered, "But you don't own Bag End no more, Mr. Frodo."
"Oh!" Frodo said, only now remembering. "I had forgotten. Well, it is done, and my new home is as fine a hole as any Hobbit could wish for. As are my friends the best friends anyone could be granted," he said, placing his arms on the shoulders of Merry and Sam.
* * *
Twelve days after the wedding, once the feasts and celebrations had ceased, the travelers once again thought of their homes and loved ones, and longed to return. Legolas shared in this desire, and though not wishing to be separated from his friends, felt a compelling pull homeward, as though it called to him. Because of sentiments, he had been ignoring it for many weeks, but as time passed, the louder and more pressing the call came to him.
The night before their departure, the Grey Company, the last of the Fellowship, gathered together reminiscing of times that once seemed perilous, but were now, happily, far away.
"I was about to burst when I saw that Balrog, Mr. Frodo," Sam said, laughing. "I wanted nothing more than to dig a hole and never climb out of it again. I still cannot think how I got out of there alive."
"Not all of us did, did we?" Gandalf said, his eyes gleaming.
The company stared at the old wizard a moment before merrily laughing at his joke.
"I was never so frightened," said Pippin, "as when we were taken by those Uruk-hai. They smelt worse than old Fizzywig himself! I had not thought that possible."
"Oh, surely not as bad as Fizzywig," Merry interjected.
"You say that, Pippin," Legolas said, "because you did not walk upon the dreaded Paths of the Dead."
"Dead?!" Pippin said, eyes wide with horror. "What dead?"
And such did their lighthearted conversation continue through the night and into the wee light of the morning. None wished to say good-bye.
When time had finally called for some rest before the journey homeward, Legolas and Gimli made their way back to their rooms, both high-spirited and merry.
"What a pleasant evening spent," Gimli said, yawning and bleary eyed.
"Aye," Legolas agreed, "pleasant, indeed. How sad that such nights are numbered."
"Nonsense!" Gimli said, boisterously. "We will see each other many times, I am sure, in the years to come."
"Years to mortals are but moments in time to elves, my friend," Legolas said, cheerlessly. "Forever remembered. . .never to return."
"There you go again!" Gimli said, raising his arms in protest. "You are a very fine friend, even for an elf, but you are forever moaning of time. It gets depressing! Take some advice from a dwarf, who is wiser, perhaps, even more, than your mighty self. Think naught of the future but of this very moment. It is how you live this second that counts. There are countless times when you could have been slain on such a quest as we endured, and yet you live. I live. Frodo lives. Good has overcome all that evil could produce, and for once, we can live in peace. Be happy, for mercy's sake and leave time be!"
Legolas laughed, and placed an appreciative hand on Gimli's shoulder. "How very wise you are, Gimli."
"You are only just realizing this? Well, it is high time you did! Come! Enough talk! My bones ache and my head is weary for sleep. Pray wake me when the time has come for our departure."
It was on the birth of August that Haldof first noticed a change in Mithryn's usual demeanor. She no longer fought his obtrusiveness, or sharp tongue. Far from her manner giving satisfaction, it purely threw his mind in an uproar. Little did she say now. She merely sat, ate, and grew pale. Haldof could see her wither before his eyes, and he knew not what to do.
"She is not well," he told his brothers as they watched her staring off into nothingness. "A change has occurred. Farther in her pregnancy does she go, and she does not improve. I am worried. If Legolas does not come home soon. . ."
"Legolas will come," Galamed assured, but concern was evident on his face as well.
"What does father say?" Tarnil asked.
Haldof's face stiffened. "He refuses to listen. He will not even speak to her of it and forbids me to do so, as well."
"She is fragile," Galamed said, eyes attentively on Mithryn. "Perhaps father is right. There is a chance the child may be born alive if Mithryn believes her life is safe. If she knew the truth, she could lose hope and give in to her fate."
"Her pregnancy is near an end," Tarnil said, voice filled with hope. "Perhaps all will come to rights and both will be fine."
Haldof merely shook his head dejectedly at his brothers. "Both of you are like father and of no use to me!" He stormed off and Galamed made move to follow, yet Tarnil held him back.
"Nay, Galamed," Tarnil said. "Let him be. Poor Haldof. He carries the weight for all of us."
Haldof was torn. He could not disobey his father, and yet, his heart, his instinct commanded otherwise. Now, more than ever, did he long to have Legolas at his side. "What would Legolas wish me do?" he asked himself imploringly, searching his soul for a solution to his question.
He thought a while in silence, watching the sun sink from the treetops as he sat on his talan. When the sun had finally disappeared, his decision had been made. He jumped out of the flet, landing sturdily on the ground, and went looking for Mithryn.
Galamed had seen Haldof coming, and it was something in his stone face, revealing neither thought nor emotion, that caught his attention. "Haldof," Galamed said as he drew near, "where do you go off to?"
"To find Mithryn. This deceit will cease at last," Haldof said, continuing to walk.
"Nay!" Galamed said, grabbing Haldof's arm. "You cannot do it! Father has forbidden it!"
"It is about time that Mithryn knew the truth," Haldof said, yanking away his arm, "and you cannot stop me!" Haldof broke into a run, making for the winding stair of Mithryn's bedchamber with Galamed close behind. Haldof barged into her room, and stopped dead. Not two seconds later, Galamed barged in, and froze as well. Mithryn sat in a chair by the window, hunched over, face contorted with pain. Haldof was first to come to his senses and rush to her side.
"Mithryn! Fear not. We are here now."
She opened her eyes, staring into Haldof's. "It is time," she whispered. "The child is coming."
Haldof's eyes opened wide and he turned to his dumbfounded brother. "Go, Galamed. Tell father. Call the healers. Stand not amazed, brother, go!"
"But Haldof," Galamed said, backing away, "you will not tell. . ."
"You would argue with me at this moment?" Haldof shouted, placing his gentle hands on Mithryn's back. "There is not the time! Go!"
Galamed left, and Haldof turned back to the trembling woman beside him. "Mithryn, you cannot remain here. You should lie down, I think."
"I will walk," Mithryn said, attempting to get up, only to be seized in paralytic pain again.
Haldof's reaction was quick. He swept Mithryn up in his arms, and placed her gently on the bed. She did not even complain, however, her eyes and fists clenched tightly. He watched her with growing concern, even wishing he could absorb her agony himself.
"Is it so very painful?" he asked, stupidly, not knowing what else to say.
Not being able to speak, she merely nodded her head until the contraction had subsided. "What had Galamed said? Do not tell? What are you not permitted to tell me?"
Now suddenly bashful, Haldof could not meet her eye. About to give birth to Legolas' child, and not expected to survive, Haldof could not tell her the truth of all he knew. "Nothing," he replied lamely, and another contraction, far worse than the last overtook her.