Disclaimer: I don’t own Middle Earth or any of Tolkien’s creations and I’m not making any money.
Names/Pronunciations/Misc will come at the end of each chapter.
`*’ signals a footnote
“text” signals dialogue
‘text’ signals thoughts
A/N: Thank you to all of my lovely reviewers. I always appreciate it when you take time away from your real life to let me know that you’re enjoying my story… puts a smile on my face. = D
I have taken a little liberty: Everyone seems to think that elves can potentially go without sleep for a very long while. But what if they stretch that ability to its breaking point? How abruptly do they reach the end of their rope, and how does it affect them?
Chapter 17.) The Sweetest Dream
I love thee to the level of every day’s most quiet need.
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning
December 20, 210 Fourth Age, Valinor
Kallindo turned to depart the cozy chamber. He was almost through the door when he swung back, paused, then stumbled out: “Would you… if your father consents, that is… might you consider being married soon?” “I would – I do. Indeed, I would wish it to be so.” “I will send a message to your father then. We will not go back until you are ready, so let us hope your family can make the journey in haste.”
“I would – I do. Indeed, I would wish it to be so.”
“I will send a message to your father then. We will not go back until you are ready, so let us hope your family can make the journey in haste.”
Calina wandered the hallways aimlessly, running her hands along the many textures of the walls: rough stone, cool chiseled marble, soft tapestry weave. She moved restlessly in and out of storeroom and sitting room, kitchen and workroom, all the while keeping her steps carefully away from the one place where she most desired to be. Her father and mother were closeted away with Kallindo on the other side of the house; they would not let her intrude upon their conversation.
Finding this somewhat unjust and overly suspenseful, Calina had intended to defy her parents and take up a defensive position at Kallindo’s side. But she then recalled that her parents where, after all, as reasonable as they were protective, and that while it would not do any real harm it could also bring them some comfort. Thus settled in favor of their request, Calina had excused herself with as much grace as she could muster and taken up her fidgety vigil in the upper-floor hallway. Though she did not yet regret her decision to leave them be, she was very much hoping that they would call her in presently.
Calina approached the area where the female students lodged. There were three of them at present, but when Calina had been amongst them, the quartet had enjoyed quite a jolly time together. One of them, in particular, had been a close friend. As Calina drew slowly nearer, she heard a burst of laughter come from one of the rooms. She paused. For a moment she felt an urge to distract herself with their merry company. But almost as soon as the notion arose it withered away. She couldn’t speak naturally to anybody, as though she were not aware that a meeting of great import to her future happiness was currently taking place only rooms away.
Ever so quietly, Calina retreated, moving backward along the wall toward the stairs which would lead down to the ground floor. Reaching the top of the flight, she quickly turned and began to descend them quickly, restive with anticipation. Her progress was halted abruptly as she collided with Kallindo’s tall form.
Kallindo grunted softly, grabbing Calina and the banister to steady himself. Calina wobbled and then plopped down ungracefully on the step above where Kallindo was standing. For a moment she observed his knees and then turned her face to the side and indulged in a fit of ill-concealed giggles. Kallindo, having righted himself, gazed at her amusedly before crouching down to your level.
“And from what are you trying to escape with such haste?”
Calina’s smile shone in her eyes. “Myself, I suppose. You are done with them, then?”
Kallindo nodded steadily, though his expression did not reveal one way or the other how things had progressed with her parents. “They would like to speak with you as well.”
“Dividing our forces, are they?” Calina quipped, her eyebrow arched imperiously.
Taking a seat on the same step, Kallindo captured her hand with easy familiarity. “A useless strategy against those whose desires coincide, would you not say?”
Calina turned to meet his uncharacteristically impish gaze. She believed that he would have rather enjoyed the role of a persecuted lover, though she was certain her parents had not been nearly so over-bearing as that would imply.
She nudged him gently with her shoulder. “I do so enjoy it when you hold my hand.”
Kallindo stood and raised her to her feet. “Then I shall make a point of doing it more often. But you had best go to your parents now. It took me some time to find you, and they are waiting.”
With great alacrity, Calina descended the stairs and went in search of her mother and father. They were in the same room where she had left them earlier. Closing the door behind her, she rested against it and pinned them with an expectant gaze.
Soronhín beckoned her to sit with them. She did so and they were soon caught up in a calm and delicate discussion of Calina’s desires for the future. Suffice it to say that Calina was able to provide them with reasonably creditable assurances that her life with Kallindo would be highly satisfactory and that it was, indeed, what she wanted.
“There is still a point on which I am reserved,” Soronhín spoke up after a few moments of silence. “Why does Kallindo desire to marry you so quickly? If he is hopeful that one day his heart will truly attach itself to you, then why not postpone until that day? You would be afforded the chance to be properly courted, and it would give him time to step past the limitations of his own heart.”
Calina bunched her skirt in her hands and thought for a moment. “I think… he is lonely, atto. And has been for so very long a time now. It was a very great struggle, I think, for him to first admit that he did want to be with me, and now that he has, he does not wish that we should be parted. In this, my sentiments are wholly the same. As to courtship… well, you might say that it was I who courted him!” Calina smiled brightly at the thought. “I pursued him at first, and then he pursued me. It was quite exhausting, really. In fact, I should say that I’ve had my fill of courtship, thank you.”
Soronhín smiled curiously. He shared a long look with his wife before turning back to his daughter. “I am not comfortable, as yet, with this development. But you have our blessing.”
After bidding her parents a temporary farewell – for they were going to retrieve her siblings, who were awaiting news at a nearby inn – Calina slipped back into the hallway to search for her betrothed. Her wandering did not last long as, after a few turns, a pair of long legs arrested her progress. Kallindo was sprawled out across the floor, his back resting against the wall, eyes closed.
She shook her head in amusement. “What are you doing on the floor, silly?
Kallindo shrugged. “It seemed as good a place as any.”
Calina was slightly confused by his lethargic tones. It was a stark contrast with his demeanor when she had last been with him.
“Are you alright? You look quite pale.”
Kallindo shrugged. “I will be fine. Sit with me.”
Calina obliged him. Kallindo opened his eyes long enough to find one of her hands with his own. A smile spread slowly across Calina’s face.
“You are positively worn out,” Calina finally pronounced, shaking her head. To herself she mused: `Poor thing, I have run his head ragged these last months.’
Kallindo nodded once.
“And yet,” Calina continued, “this is quite a sudden onset of sleepiness, is it not? I hope that my good parents did not over-tax you with their difficult questions. I’m afraid that I bring nothing but bother into your life.”
Kallindo opened his eyes and turned his head toward hers. His face took on a sheepish aspect as he replied, “Nay. In truth, I have not slept well these past few nights. That is… well, I haven’t slept at all. And it seems now that I am finally to suffer for it. I very much look forward to crawling into my bed tonight, I can assure you. But, as you see, I found the need for a temporary respite to hold me over until then. Couldn’t walk another step.”
Impulsively, Calina reached up a hand and smoothed Kallindo’s hair back, even as she chided him. “You should take better care. Oh! And I made you work with me this afternoon at the kiln. It is a wonder you did not fall asleep in the coals. How many nights have you done this?”
Kallindo scrunched up his face in concentration. “Five… no, six… Yes. Six nights.”
Calina’s mouth fell open. “Kallindo,” she breathed, drawing out the syllables. “I… I don’t even know what to say.”
A groggy smile adorned Kallindo’s lips. “Oh, feel free to scold.”
Calina heaved a great sigh, letting her head rest again the wall, still turned toward him. “Well, fortunately this is a time now to rest easy. Everything is well with my father and mother; we may wed as soon as you please.”
“And when do you please?” Kallindo posed the question, soft and low, as his eyes wandered waywardly toward her lips.
Calina nibbled on her lip for a moment, unaware of Kallindo’s attention. She dissembled: “I don’t know… I… you should decide.”
With somnolent imbalance, Kallindo followed his gaze and tilted slightly toward her. Their heads were very close together: Calina’s slightly upturned to meet his drowsy gaze. She flushed slightly as Kallindo studied her face, slowly and quite thoroughly, with a half-smile on his lips.
“I was thinking of you… all these nights.” Kallindo’s eyes did not leave Calina’s lips as he spoke. “Thinking of you, trying to puzzle you out… it is strange, so strange… puzzling.”
Calina’s breath was very shallow, but she managed to whisper: “Kallindo, are you quite conscious of what you are saying?”
He smiled crookedly. “Vaguely, madam, ever so vaguely.”
Tilting further, Kallindo’s lips seemed to meet hers almost by accident. It was a languid, sensual kiss that left Calina’s nerves tingling. This impression was heightened even more by the fact that Kallindo did not press himself against her. His body, hovering slightly over her, seemed to eclipse her in its warmth, without demanding anything.
As the kiss progressed, Calina began to have the distinct impression that this was the sort of caress that should not be undertaken in a public hallway. And yet, she could not bring herself to draw away. She could only hope that Kallindo would soon do so for the both of them, as she was feeling rather light-headed and disoriented.
Several moments passed before Kallindo granted her unspoken wish, pulling back ever so slightly and allowing her to gain a few startled breaths.
“And are you quite conscious of what you are doing, sir?” she finally murmured, half between a sigh and a laugh.
Kallindo shook his head, scrunching his eyebrows together. “I think… yes. I – forgive me… that is, if I have offended you.”
Calina could not but smile affectionately at the exhausted elf before her. “No,” she replied, squeezing the hand that he had never withdrawn from her. “No, you have not offended me in the slightest. Indeed, if you meant even only half of what you just said and did, it would make me quite content.”
At that moment, a pair of little feet came racing down the hallway.
“I’ve found them!” Falas cried happily, as he skidded to a halt and deposited himself ungracefully into his sister’s startled arms. “They sent me to look for you,” he beamed proudly.
“I suppose everyone is waiting, then? Oh but… I really should help you get to bed, Kallindo. I don’t think you’ll make it on your own.”
Kallindo waived aside her suggestion. “I am perfectly content where I am. Go to your family.”
“Can I stay, please,” Falas begged his sister, hoping not only to spend time with his favorite adult (outside of his family, of course), but to escape the boring grown-up talk which he had been subjected to for the entirety of the day.
“See,” Kallindo closed his eyes once more and smiled, “Falas will keep me company. Go on.”
Reluctantly, Calina left the pair and went to join the rest of her family. Her reservations were put aside, however, as she was able to experience the first glow of warmth and excitement from her family concerning her engagement. Danneniûl had always, with a mother’s intuition, been sanguine toward the possibility of her daughter’s attachment ever since it had begun to show itself. And of course, Ránendë and Ehtúro were enthusiastic at the prospect of their sister’s marriage, as only a couple can be who are newly married themselves. But it was with great delight that Calina witnessed her father’s composure and good humor return. With the relaxing of his concerns, the floodgate seemed to open, and Calina soon found herself awash in good wishes and questions and bits of sage advice. It was, altogether, a very encouraging and profitable hour.
But soon, despite her rising spirits, Calina’s thoughts turned with concern once more to the elf that she loved best. After a brief explanation of the situation, she began to excuse herself. Fortuitously, Oiratinwë decided to make her presence known among the family gathering, and led the rest off to find them accommodations. She would not hear of them returning to the inn.
As Calina moved down the hallway, she began to pick out the sounds of a one-sided conversation.
Falas’ little voice could be heard saying, “It was such a lark. But ammë says that I should never do it again.
Kallindo responded with a throaty murmur that Calina assumed was along the lines of, “Quite right. You should listen to your mother.”
A few moments of silence ensued wherein Calina unconsciously halted her steps, unwilling to disrupt their conversation. She could see the two – Kallindo stretched fully across the floor now, Falas kneeling next to him – but they had not yet noticed her.
“Are you going to marry Cali?” Falas finally whispered, conspiratorially.
“I’m glad. We shall be brothers then… You’re not going to grow as silly as Ehtúro did after he married Ránendë, are you?”
Falas’ scrunched up face would have made Calina laugh, if he had been turned towards her so that she could see it.
“Will you even kiss her?”
Kallindo’s lips twisted up into a smile. “Mmmm… lots and lots.”
“Haven’t you ever kissed your sister?”
Calina, despite her scattered thoughts, noted with surprise that he had found it within himself to string so many words together at once.
“Yes,” Falas finally admitted, “But not on the lips!”
“Well… your sister has very sweet lips, and they shall soon be in my care.”
Falas sighed heavily. “As long as you take care of her, I guess it’s alright. She’s too big for me to take care of all the time or else she wouldn’t have to marry you. But I’m still glad… Kallindo? Kallindo?”
Calina hurried forward. “Sshhh. He has finally fallen asleep.”
Falas looked up, confused. “Why was he so tired?”
“I’m afraid that I haven’t been taking the best care of him. Will you help me? He needs to lie down someplace more comfortable. There, hold up his feet.”
With great care, the two carried Kallindo a few paces down the hallway and took him into the cozy room which he and Calina and sat in the evening they had become engaged. He was soon ensconced amongst the pillows on the largest settee with a wrap tucked around him. His poor feet stuck out at the end. Calina smiled at the picture he presented.
Falas made to lead her out of the room by the hand, but she sent him on without her. Turning back, she knelt beside the settee, near Kallindo’s head, studying his peaceful countenance. With reverence, she gave him a soft kiss.
“Sweet lips,” she whispered wistfully, adjusting her position to recline against the skirt of the couch, head near Kallindo’s on the cushion. She smiled up at him. “May your dreams be very sweet.”
Sitting there quietly, listening to his gentle breathing, it was not soon before Calina too stepped out onto the path of dreams. And if her position rather tended toward a crick in the neck, and if his long legs slid indecorously off the thin settee in the middle of the night, neither one thought it of any account. Especially when they were rewarded for their troubles by waking up to each other’s dream-filled eyes in the morning.
Sweet dreams attended them both for the next few nights, and supported them through the morning and afternoon of their wedding day. The ceremony was simple, the gathering intimate, and the weather quite fine. And never was there a bride more besotted with her husband, or a husband so precariously on the brink of admitting – at least in words – that he was thoroughly besotted with his wife. All the guests present were quite content, and went away from the modest celebration that evening with knowing smiles and hopeful hearts.
In an uncharacteristic fit of indulgence, Oiratinwë had vacated the entire upper floor of the east wing of her home for use on the wedding night. This required clearing out herself and her housekeeper, thoroughly airing the one guestroom that had a large enough bed, and gathering any tools, books, or articles of clothing that she might need over the course of several days. `For,’ she had said to herself, `if they come to an understanding the first night, I shan’t expect to see them come down to breakfast for at least a handful of days thereafter.’
Because of this arrangement, it was hardly a few short moments after they had bid farewell to their guests that Kallindo and Calina found themselves quite alone and preparing to retire. They stood hand-in-hand for several moments, unsure of where or how to begin. Slowly, Calina lifted up her free hand and began pulling jeweled pins from her hair. Kallindo watched with undisguised wonder as the silver tresses began to uncurl and tumble down Calina’s back.
“You are beautiful.”
Calina froze, her hand poised to pull out the last pin. Kallindo reached up and undid it for her, tossing the pin aside with the rest of its companions.
“Yet it is somehow different now – do you feel it?”
Closing her eyes, Calina steadied her breath. Yes, she could feel it. Their binding had begun. It was more than beauty: it was a cord, piercing their hearts, pulling them ineffably together. Once secured, it would never be broken. Until Arda was unmade there would be no one else.
Kallindo brought his hand up to his wife’s face, touching it softly. Instinctively, Calina leaned into his caress, her eyes still closed, waiting with anticipation to feel his lips against her own. But instead of kissing her, he spoke.
“Is there anything that you would like for me to know?” Kallindo questioned earnestly.
Drawing her brows together, Calina opened her eyes, confused. “What do you mean?”
With a quirk of his lips, Kallindo framed her face with both of his hands. “For instance… I have discovered, through my own devious observations, that you are quite careful of your ears.”
Calina’s eyes widened in surprise. “However did you-?”
“Now, this could mean two very different things…” Kallindo smiled mysteriously.
“Yes?” Calina finally prompted, her curiosity getting the better of her.
“Either you do not want me to touch your ears at all. Or…” He came very close, his breath feathering her cheek as he continued: “you would like me to touch them very much.” He blew playfully at the tip of her left ear. She reflexively pulled away and began giggling, but Kallindo slid is arms around her waist and would not let her retreat further.
“I must confess… my ears are rather ticklish!” She explained, as her laughter died away. “It is an odd thing, is it not? I don’t know how it came about. Perhaps… perhaps you had better not – for now, at least. It wouldn’t due for me to start laughing when, well, you know… and what a blow to your pride that would be!”
Despite the fierce blush that was rising up her cheeks, Calina managed to don an impertinent look to go along with her very forward comment.
“I’ll look after my own pride, thank you,” Kallindo quipped. “Is there anything else I should know?”
Calina lost her nerve and looked away, suddenly impressed by the immensity of the day’s events. She felt a little overwhelmed by his nearness, and yet, at the same time she wished to be even closer to him. Without a word, she finally responded with a small shake of her head.
Kallindo drew her closer and rested his forehead against hers. “And what does my lady wish?” he gently inquired. “I am at her command.”
“Oh don’t-” Calina started, wishing very much that he would not require her to initiate their intimacy. “I mean… oh, can’t you just kiss me and go from there?”
Kallindo was, of course, more than happy to oblige her request. He was so obliging, in fact, and Calina was so happy – once his kisses had quite thoroughly driven away her nervousness – to be obliged that, well, you know the rest. Suffice it to say that there, in Oiratinwë’s little used guestroom with its over-sized bed, husband and wife completed their sacred bond, becoming one not only in heart and mind, but in soul and body as well.
Kallindo stretched lazily and without thought tightened his hold upon his wife, pulling her more snuggly against his chest.
The silent exclamation seemed to ring out in Kallindo’s head, spreading a joyful tremor through his body. He had a wife!
In awe, Kallindo let his gaze travel down to the sleeping countenance of his new wife. There she was – lovely and soft as the petals of a newly opened flower – nestled safely in his arms. It was the stuff of dreams.
And yet, with great surety, Kallindo knew that this was not a dream. He could feel her, down to the very bottom of his soul. She was inside of him: in his heart and mind. Her very presence permeated him. This was the essence of their bond and it was…
Calina stirred at the sound of her husband’s voice, but she did not awaken. Kallindo was glad of that, for he garnered a very satisfying pleasure in simply gazing upon her. She was so tranquil and perfect, her soft breath warm on his shoulder. After a few more moments passed in this silent contemplation, he drew the courage to speak once more.
“I never thought of you as delicate before, but you are. Did you know that? As delicate as a spray of glass; strong and supple as the willows; beautiful as a winter morning with your silver hair.” He drew his face closer to hers. “See… you even have me spouting poetry, you are so wonderful.”
Kallindo’s heart seemed to compress as a wave of tender protectiveness washed over him. “Thank you… thank you for making me a husband, for trusting me with your heart. From this day forward, it is my most prized possession.”
And it truly was. The tension in Kallindo’s heart suddenly released itself with a burst of joy. Of course! She was the dearest, sweetest creature in his entire world.
“Calina, my wife,” he whispered, deliriously happy. “I cannot wait for you to open your starry eyes. I have so many things to tell you… the most wonderful things!”
No! It is not over yet…
Things to Know:
Calina: Q. “illuminated”
Kallindo: Q. “noble heart”
Soronhín: Q. “eagle child”
Danneniûl: S. “fallen embers”
Falas: S. “beach, shore”
Ránendë: Q. “moon pool”
Ehtúro: Q. “spear victor”
Oiratinwë Calamau: Q. “eternal spark/light hands”
atar/atto: Q. “father/daddy”
amil/ammë: Q. “mother/mommy”