Isildur's wife - A Story
It was never easy knowing your entire existence revolved around marrying a man you had never met. My father was the King's brother-in-law; as such it was determined fit that one of his daughter's would one day marry the King's son. It was completely out of my control, decided before I was even born. By the age of six, I was already receiving lessons on how to be a lady, how to walk gracefully with your head held high, how to bow, how to curtsy, when each would be deemed appropriate. When I was twelve I graduated into obedience lessons. I was told never to speak-up unless asked my opinion, and even then to keep my voice soft and quiet and to answer in as few words as possible. Naturally, being the daughter of a rich and powerful lord, I rebelled. Naturally I was punished. This went on till my 16th birthday when they started to threaten starving me, should I disobey the rules of a lady. I was given very little food as it was, in order to be skinny for my future spouse, I was sure I would collapse and never wake-up should I stop eating altogether. It was arranged I would marry when I was 18, and he was 21. I realized long before I was 17 that this marriage would be born out of politics, and that I would be lucky should I get to speak four words in day before nightfall. I was also given lessons on how to be a good wife in that department as well. As future Queen Of Gondor it was expected I would conceive an heir before my 20th birthday. It mattered little to me, as I realized that whether or not I should give birth to an heir by that time, was up to the Valar, and I had little influence in the decision process. I only hoped they'd show me grace and grant me this wish. That if nothing else, I would be allowed to write my thoughts in a journal that no one else could read (except of course Isulder, as my husband he had ALL the authority), and that I would be allowed to visit the library every once in a while and read, and learn. After all, it was my spare time in the library that had allowed me to teach myself elvish, a quality no one else knew I had. "Every wife deserves a secret kept, every husband should have a secret told" went the saying among the nannys assigned to take care of me. My knowledge of the worlds and languages outside the city's borders, was my secret. I would keep it under lock and key for many more years.
The first time I met Isildur was the day before our wedding. If that could be considered a meeting. My father led me along into the throne room, and suddenly I felt as if I would pee in my pants, for the king was on his throne. He smiled at me and immediately him and my father began to speak together. Thrilled as I was, I was quickly bored, and my eyes wandered over to a small table across the room, where a young man sat reading a book. Apparently my disinterest wasn't as subtle as I had hoped, for the king glanced away, and started to laugh, "apparently the details of her wedding, do not interest her as it would other young ladies," he said to no one in particular, than to me, " If you'd like you can go and speak to my son, your future husband", the king said in a fatherly like tone. "Yes, my lord (I must admit I was beat red by that time) but where can he be found?" "Right behind you" I turned and the only person in the room I could see was the young man, still reading, who had not even bothered to look up when we had walked in. okay, I thought, well if he doesn't wish to speak to me than I might as well speak to him. I may well understand he's the authority in the marriage, but I may as well test how much he finds annoying. I'm tired after all, me and my father have road quite a distance, and I am not used to such, I can always use my exhaustion as an excuse for my misbehavior.
Now that I had decided, I began to walk towards the table and realized all too quickly that I had forgotten to bow. Turning swiftly to the king, I smiled, curtsied and said "my lord, permission to walk over to your son" again the king laughed, and I began to think he enjoyed making me squirm, "yes of course. I already said you could," he said in an obvious tone, as if I was dumb. Yes, he defiantly likes to watch me flustered, I sighed, I must be beet red by now. I arrived at the table and waited for the young man to look up. I waited for about three minutes, then glanced at the king. Both he and my father were watching me, my father looked slightly angry, while the king looked even more amused if that was possible. The king called me over, I walked towards him. "Yes my lord" "You're going to have to speak to him if you expect him to speak to you. He's not the type to give respect to a lady, just because she walks over" Okay, what did that mean? Starting to freak out now, might as well pretend I understand. "Yes my lord, of course my lord." I bowed and walked over to the table. "Um, Prince Isildur?", I said. He didn't even look up. "Your father said I should get to know you." A light lie, but whatever it takes. At this new revelation the young man looked up and started to laugh. So like his father. "Oh that is funny. You think I'm lord Isildur; well no I'm afraid you're wrong. I'm just a monk. I don't know where Isildur is off to, he was in here for a little while but now I appears he has gone off." Apparently not. He said this with such a straight face, such a kind face, that I was suddenly sure the king was playing a prank on me. I blushed, muttered thank-you and walked over to the king. Thinking not to give him the pleasure of having made me flustered again. I bowed, smiled smugly and stood there pretending nothing had happened, the king gave me an odd glance, then moved over to glance at the monk, then back to me. "Well, lady if you would just follow your father, I have told him where your room is to lie." I followed my father, who looked angry at me, but for what reason I had no idea. Then again he always looked angry. I had already supposed I was to have a room to myself, so I wasn't surprised when my father huffed off. I wondered briefly when I would get to meet the real Isildur, but I supposed the longest the wait would be, would be tomorrow when we got married. This scared me, I had wanted to meet him before the wedding, but I supposed there was nothing I could do about it. The king had given me grant to leave, and though my father had given me a look, that said all too clearly I better stay in my room all day and not cause trouble, I decided to go take a look around anyways.
I quickly found the library, which delighted me. As I said before, I had always loved to read. I noticed when I walked in that there were only to tables, free of books. One, had the monk reading at. My god, is he following me? No, he was here first, if anything he would think I was following him. He, for once, actually looked up, and looked very shocked, but even more so when I calmly walked to the other table. I can only guess now, what he was thinking. As the other table was big, I didn't think the two ten year old looking boys would mind sharing the table with me. Apparently they did. They walked over to me, "Who are you miss?," they said innocently enough. But when I told them I was to be Lord Isulder's bride they got a mischevious glance in their eyes. "What are you here to do, miss?" the meaner looking one asked. "What does it look like I'm here to do. I'm here to read, and maybe write, like everyone else who ever comes here plans on doing." "But miss," again the ruder one said, "misses aren't supposed to be able to read. That's disrespectful to your future husband miss. You're disobeying him." I got kind of scared for a second one of them would find my father and tell him. Unlike most men of Gondor, he would likely beat me to a bloody pulp, lest he learn I could read and write. I realized, I was in trouble but that it was too late. "Why, does Isildur not like woman who can read and write?," I tried to sound nonchalant, but I think my sweaty palms gave it away. "Write too, miss? Why no, miss. I know Isuilder personally and he'll harm you if he finds out such things. Better to never bring it up, never touch a book again, if you know ht's best for you." The boys walked away after that, leaving me alone. I suddenly heard a chair squeak, and turned my head to see the monk getting out of his chair. He looked quite serious and regal, and I wondered just how powerful a monk he was. He came over to me, and whispered in my ear, though there was no one else in sight with in the library. "Does your father know you read and rite miss, I couldn't help but see him in the throne room. I should think he's not the type to teach his daughter such." Surprised, I squeaked slowly and quietly. That no, he didn't know, and then asked with a pleading tone that he not tell him. He smiled; looking rather handsome, and I felt myself hoping Isildur looked something like this young monk. It had been one of my fears, since I had never seen a picture of the young prince, that he would be very ugly looking. "Don't worry my lady, I know him quite well, too and if anything, he'll be quite happy to have a wife who knows how to think for herself." And with that he walked out of the library, leaving me quite confused.
Sweet Elbereth, if only times could go back to those days. I realized long ago, that the Valor does not give everyone an equal start. I did not know of any other parents like my own. Now I do, but I realize they are still a rarity, and a bad one at that. But of course there is always worse, there are poor on the streets of Minis Tirith. I could have been born to that instead. Now I sit here recounting, writing my tale. But for who? I have already said things that could be considered treasonous. But I suppose everyone needs a comfort before they die, eh? A need to let out the flood gates, simply remember feelings, their sarcasm, humor, grief, love, hate and despair. If that's the case I better continue writing quickly, who knows how long I've left to live. Once where there was smooth skin, now wrinkles are. Once when my posture was perfect, to please my parents, now my back crouches over with age. I feel tired. Worn. I wonder now if this is what my grandfather felt before he died. He was the only one who ever understood me, now his face is blurred, though and I can barely remember the way his eyes used to crinkle with laughter. But he never smiled, nor laughed out right. I suppose I am older now than the age he was when he died. So very, very old...
Have you ever gone to a wedding in Gondor, and because you were close to either the bride or groom, you were allowed to watch the preparations for everything? Have you ever fallen asleep, bored mindless because where you expected hectic servants running around with platters of fresh food, and a half mad bride trying to make herself as lovely as humanly possible, instead you find calmness and an eerie silence in its stead? That is how you would find most little farm weddings. Calm, simple, with a remarkable silence. That is not how you would find a wealthy, powerful noble's wedding, let alone a prince's. I learned that the hard way. I only had one sister, ten years older than me. I was not allowed in the wedding because 1) my parents thought I would ruin it. Where I had accepted my own fate, I was a very big romantic at heart and wished nothing but happiness for my sister. Unfortunately the man was short, stubborn and fat, and when my sister tried to tell me, she was indeed in love with the man, I started sobbing about the cruelty of sisters who repeatedly lied to their little eight-year-old sisters. Now a days though, for all I know she really did love the man. As soon as she was married, they disappeared never to be seen by either of my parents again. I wished them luck, from my position in the festivities I was the only one who could see them sneak off. I wished them luck silently. But that was ten years before my wedding, and since then I had had no experience with marriage, whether it be my own, a family member's or a friends. I literally had no experience. So I became the hectic bride you always expect to see and here wild stories about. At least I wasn't a horrible bride. I wasn't cruel or mean or ugly, I repeatedly told myself as the servants spent three hours pinning up my hair. Or pretty I admitted to myself later. I was horrified, of marrying a man I had never met. What a fool, I'd been played for.
It wasn't until late at night that the servants finished. It was the custom for a bride, the night before her wedding night, to spend all night in a small forest or glen and pray for a son. The idea was that the Valor were always in nature, and so they were more likely to grant favor there. Instead it often muddied the wedding dresses of the would-be brides and made them smell horribly of earth and mud. For that reason, my sister hadn't done that. I could have probably gotten away with not doing it too, especially since orcs had just started to cause trouble in the out skirts, had it not been tradition for every would-be queen to perform the ritual. Just for safety though, the king sent me a servant to watch over me in case we were attacked. The only problem there was, the King hadn't bothered to see which servant was sent. It is sad to say, that had orcs came across us in that little glen, they would have surely avoided me, and gone straight to the big blubbering idiot, my "protector". He weighed close to four times me, and was nearly half as short. Well, somehow I managed to stay awake the whole night (I suspect the nice serving lady who had done my hair had slipped some sort of drug into my drink to keep me awake), with out killing the mumbling drooling, ASLEEP jerk who was, again I say, "protecting me".
The next morning I awoke, and the ceremony immediately takes place, we were not supposed to take showers until much later. I started walking, more like stumbled down the little path to the priest and future husband with his back to me, as was custom. When I got there my face turned white. I imagine the hundreds there, watching he wedding had thought it was nerves. It was really because I had seen Isildor (a/n: Was that spelled right? Huh? With my luck, no) before. The monk. Realization dawned on me. He had played me for an idiot. I even raised my hand to smack the smirk off his face, except I realized at the last minute, that half of Gondor was there watching. So instead I bent down to whisper something mean in his ear (whatever they had put in that drink it really had a lasting effect on my actions) when he kissed me on the cheek. People started smiling and cheering in he crowd. What was I supposed to do, I was blushing furiously, when he slipped his ring on my finger, mine already securely on his wedding finger, somehow. We were married.
My name was, and still is to a certain extent, Jazabelle. It was too fancy a name, though for a young girl, even a girl of nobility such as me, so I used to shorten it to Jaz. Needless to say, my parents hated it, and me, for a week afterwards but they quickly found that, once an idea was stuck in an eaight-year old's mind, it is incredibly hard to displace. My sister first taught me that, when she told me I should call my parents by their first names, so to bug them. It was our secret though, so they never found out it was her idea. They didn't love the idea, nor did they hate it, so it stuck for about 4 months, till I was eaight and a half and my sister and her new husband had disapeered after the wedding. I was left all alone then, and I needed a mommy and daddy, even ones so rash as mine. I need an identity for myself, I was forever my sister's sister, and while I could never change that, I wished to expand it. Like I have already said, I took to the library, books and their languages and taught them to myself. More like they taught me. It was more or less my secret, bribing the servants was hard work, but when my sister taught me something, she used to teach me well. My dear sister, where are you now? Are you buried deep beneath the ground, or do you still breathe, still talk? Are you the same? You could have been there, the day Isildur was crowned, a bittersweet day but family is always invited, but you didn't show up. Were you even in the crowds watching? Are you ashamed of me? I'll never know such things, at least before I die, so there really s no point pondering them. I'll know soon enough, if there is an after life for poor bedraggled people such as me.
Directly after getting married, I remember being swamped and having a feeling that everything was not right. For some reason, the fact that Isildur lied and called himself a monk didn't bother me as much as I would have thought. Even. My parents failed to incredibly irk me. Don't get me wrong, I was irked, certainly. Here I was starting a marriage with a complete stranger and he had already lied to me. But it was the crowds that got me the most.
Isildur was perhaps the strangest man I ever met. He was kind, to a point. But soon after the wedding I began to have a feeling he did not want a wife. Perhaps his father had concluded he was too much of a warrior to ever get married, and implored him he let him choose a wife for him, so the people do not get restless? I do not know, all I know I that the King who made arrangements with my father for the wedding, and the king I grew to respect as love seemed entirely two different people. He bid me call him Ellendil, and that shocked me, he treated me as he would family, and that shocked me more.
I immediately found out that Isildur did not want me as his wife, only wanted someone to talk to, an sometimes fight with. Almost an hour after the wedding had finished, he left to write some thank-you letters. And he did not share my bed, that night or any other for the first week. I didn't know whether or not to be relieved, annoyed, angry or hurt. Whenever I woul see him, and he wouldn't seem to notice me I often wondered if he had a mistress. I did not think he had a taste for men either, he just didn't seem that way to me. And don't get me wrong, he didn't always ignore m, sometimes he would just pop up an ask for a walk. I had no idea how to take it, whether it was his fathers idea or his own or what not. Sometimes I would get him to talk, and he would open up to me. Sometimes he would not. Sometimes he acted cocky, and confident, and others he acted shy and weary at heart. But I would always try to to talk to him, and he started to open up to me. Such a funny thing, on the battlefield training for wars, he was strong and fearless. At home, with his father and brother and mother (who I hardly ever saw) he was normal. Our first ever real conversations were over books and myths and we almost always disagreed. In fact I did not even think he liked me at all, until his dear mother had died. I hadn't known her well, but I knew he loved her more than anyone in the world-perhaps even more than his beloved father. The day she succumbed to the illness he saw me in the library, we were often the only ones in there, though we were never aware of each other's presence because the library was so big. He saw me in there and walked over and lay his head on the shoulder of the chair I was sitting on. You must realize how shocked I had been, Isildur never did that, and I froze my mind racing to figure out who it was. So when I turned my head, and there he sat. I was rather shocked.
"Isildur," I gasped his name rather than said it, he never showed me tenderness, I though he was incapable of it.
"What is wrong? Is it the Queen?" (I never got used to calling her by her first name, I never even had a conversation with her)
"Has her condition worsened?"
"She is dead."
That was all he said, so wearily and heart broken. I suppose I was only the first person he saw, he probably would have leaned on a kind servant if he had run in to one first, but I was glad he'd come to me. I was glad that it wasn't a servant- Isildur was not weak and it wouldn't do to have the servants spreading rumors. But more than that, I hoped I could help ease his heart, if only a little, so I curled my arms around him and held him as he remembered her. He never cried-atleast when I was with him, but he held on to me just as tightly. We must have fallen asleep-for the next morning, with the sun so bright and rising we woke up in he library, still holding each other just as tightly. After that we were inseperable, as best friends would be, but we were never man and wife for a long time. I began to love Isildur first as a friend, but then later I started to love him more as a friend. It would be three and a half years later- and by that time I was quite grown up and I remember that day well. The day I kissed the man I loved, an the day he kissed me back.
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