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
Chapter 18.) The Turning Point of Joy
I love thee to the level of every day’s most quiet need.
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning
December 26, 210 Fourth Age, Valinor
“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.'”
It is delicious to wake up in the tangled warmth of a wide bed with delicate sunlight dancing in your eyelashes and to know that, if you wish it to be so, you may disregard the call of the morning with impunity. Still better to know that the drowsy glow surrounding your body is due not only to the soft weight of blankets and sheets lying over you, but also to the body of your dear one lying snugly against you. Add to these potential good fortunes the giddiness which by nature attends a newly forged elven bond, and it is possible to experience, even if only for a brief moment, the state of pure and untainted bliss.
This being the situation that Calina awoke to on the morning after her wedding day, it was not at all surprising that a smile began creeping across her face even before she had fully regained consciousness. Blinking the sleep from her eyes, she gazed with wonder around the softly lit room, tilting her head after a few moments to gaze on the sleeping countenance of her husband. Somehow, they had exchanged positions during the night and, instead of her head resting against his shoulder, she found that his face was nuzzled against her neck. She wanted to shift herself so that she could see him better but upon further consideration she noticed that his arms and legs seemed to be rather engaged with her own. And so, not wanting to wake him with her movement, she remained still.
As the moments slipped quietly by, Calina began to turn her mind toward the past days, attempting to analyze the changes that her relationship with Kallindo had undergone. Her efforts were not very fruitful. She could not discern any conclusive events or turning points in their intimacy. Though the previous night had wonderfully and drastically changed the realities of their bond, it seemed to her as though it were simply the natural continuation of a slow and mysterious march toward an equally mysterious, though longed for, conclusion. Looking back further, it was as though she and Kallindo had, over the past seven months, simply slid together like two wayward twigs in a stream: caught and held fast, however much they were jostled about in the currents.
Calina smiled at the image in her head. It seemed to suit. She could only hope now that their bond would be enough to carry them through any other rough waters that might lie ahead. In her mind she knew it would. It was a simple fact of their marriage, of the intertwining of their souls. But in her heart there were still, if she paused long enough to be aware of them, slight tremblings and remnants of her former fears. Her knowledge of the inequality of their affection, though not enough to deter her from becoming his wife, still itched. She fervently hoped that it would not become a mote in her joy; a joy which, at that moment, seemed almost complete.
Kallindo stirred slightly. A shiver laced across Calina’s skin as all the points of contact between her body and Kallindo’s became apparent. In half a moment Kallindo’s eyes were observing her with the clear light of consciousness.
“Are you cold?”
Calina blushed and tried to hide her face in the pillow. “No… yes.”
Kallindo’s tender smile was lost on Calina. With a sweeping movement he pulled the blanket up around them both, cocooning them together within a dim cave of linen. This action did nothing to bring composure to Calina’s disordered spirits. Though their noses were now a hairs-breadth away from touching, she resolutely avoided meeting his eyes.
Calina addressed herself to Kallindo’s chin: “And to you.”
A few moments of silence passed. Kallindo pulled closer to Calina and planted a soft kiss at the corner of her mouth.
“I meant to stay awake to greet you as soon as you awoke, but my body betrayed me. Did you rest well?”
Calina blushed again, bit her lip, and then tried for a pert reply. “I thought you had learned not to stay awake the whole night through on my account. We can’t have you falling asleep in your porridge this morning, now can we?”
“Alas, you are right,” Kallindo conceded merrily. “But you were a beautiful vision, with your hair unbound against the pillows. How could I willingly draw my eyes away from you? – Ah, there… I’ve succeeded in making you blush again.”
It was impossible for Calina to resist the giddy shiver of mirth that was darting through her. She smirked most unwillingly and set her gaze back on Kallindo’s chin. There was some meaning in his eyes that morning that quite flustered her.
“Would you like to know my other reason?” Kallindo whispered.
Calina’s eyes met his briefly and then darted away again. She blew a few strands of hair out of her face as she tried to contain her curiosity. Her effort was wasted as the offending strands, caught amongst the blankets as they were, fell back down around her nose. She rolled her eyes and sighed dramatically.
“Alright, what was your other reason?”
Kallindo withdrew his arm from around her waist and brushed the hair away, sliding it safely behind her ear. “I had something very important to tell you. Would you like to hear it?”
Calina’s curiosity was now truly piqued. “Is it pleasant news or unpleasant? I am of the opinion that unpleasant news should always be put aside until after breakfast, at the very least.”
“Oh, but this is of the pleasant sort, and I shouldn’t like to wait so long to tell you.”
Calina nodded with approval. “Then do tell.”
Closing his eyes from a moment, Kallindo let his hand slide down the length of Calina’s hair, to settle once more at her waist. He opened his eyes and took a slow, deep breath, smiling broadly at his wife. Calina would have melted at the adorable aspect that her grinning husband presented had she not been utterly shocked by the next words that left his mouth.
“I love you.”
With a strangled cry, Calina sat bolt upright in bed, feeling the sudden need for air. Her current state of undress suddenly became apparent as the covers slipped down around her waist. Instinctively, she clutched at a sheet and drew it up to hide herself, turning to Kallindo with an incredulous look as she did so.
“What?” she finally managed to breathe out.
Kallindo, somewhat nonplussed by her reaction, sat up himself and reached out to place a steadying hand on Calina’s arm. She allowed the contact, but it seemed to be with some reluctance. Kallindo drew his hand away.
“I love you,” Kallindo repeated tentatively.
“How could… when?”
“I understood it when I was watching you sleep last night; though I believe that I have been coming to love you for some time.”
Though she tried desperately to contain them, Calina’s face was soon wet with tears. Kallindo inched closer to her and drew her to him; for a few minutes she simply cried on his shoulder.
To Kallindo’s great relief, the tears soon began to abate. However, he was, in his own turn, bowled over by what Calina said next.
“I don’t know how to believe you.”
Kallindo pulled away from Calina and regarded her in shocked silence. There was so much grief in his look that Calina instantly regretted her choice of words.
“I was preparing myself,” she began brokenly, “to wait for you… as long as you needed. But, this is so sudden. I don’t – I don’t know how to understand it.” A single tear escaped from beneath Calina’s tightly closed eyelids. “But I do not doubt your word, Kallindo. Forgive me. I… I believe you.”
She opened her eyes wide, bewildered. Kallindo set his jaw stiffly, trying to puzzle out the situation.
“I suppose,” he began slowly, “that in such cases as these, words have little weight. I had hoped that our bond would be enough… I-” Kallindo swiped a hand across his face and sighed heavily. “This is not how I envisioned this morning. I don’t quite know…”
Even without their bond, Calina would have been able to easily perceive Kallindo’s grave disappointment. His distress did more than his confession to soften her heart. She opened her mouth to speak – to try to sooth and explain – but she was cut off with a quick gesture from Kallindo.
“Please – a moment. Give me a moment.”
Calina’s brow lowered with worry. After a lengthy pause, Kallindo twisted his body around and began inspecting the room.
“Perhaps…” he whispered, distracted, before getting up off the bed.
Calina quickly averted her eyes. It was only a few moments later when she felt the bed sink down behind her.
“Will you allow me to attempt a better explanation?” he questioned, settling next to her.
She nodded slowly.
“You undoubtedly know what this is.” Kallindo held out his hand, revealing the glass thorn she had given him those months ago. It was about the length of her longest finger, and now had a delicate cord tied to the base of it.
“Yes,” Calina assented.
“When you gave this to me, you offered it as a token of remembrance. I told you then that I did not need anything to help me remember you, but I knew that it would comfort you if I kept it. When I settled into my new home I almost chose to relegate it to the back of a small drawer, but somehow that did not seem right, so I tied it to this cord and wore it ever after. I could not tell you why I did it, but I think I understand now why I never took it off again. It did remind me of you – ever day, cool against my skin. It kept you with me always: a thorn in my flesh that would not give me peace. I cannot express to you how deeply, and more deeply each day, I felt the honor of your regard. You chose me, though I had never thought to be the turning point of anyone’s joy. You chose me. You honored me with the most precious thing you had to offer. How could I keep from responding to your heart? How could I help loving you? – though, it must be admitted, I am as slow as mud.”
A choked laugh came out of Calina as she tried scrubbing fresh tears from her face. Kallindo gathered her against his chest and planted a soft kiss in her hair.
“Perhaps it is not the most romantic way to fall in love, but I believe it is as true. I was a parched man, tempted with a small drop of water. Every natural feeling led me onward; I was thirsty for more. And now,” he lifted Calina’s chin and held her gaze fixedly, “I have found the spring. And it is sweet and good and strong and lovely… and impudent and stubborn, and quite altogether wonderful.”
A watery smile dawned clear across Calina’s face even as she continued to sniffle. Kallindo returned her smile with a soft one of his own and quickly set about to combat her tears with a few strategically placed kisses. After this duty was completed, he pulled her down with him onto the bed and held her close, to help calm her still erratic breathing.
After Calina had regained at least some of her composure, she grinned broadly and moved in to place an exuberant kiss on Kallindo’s lips.
“Oh, I do believe you!” she whispered, her hand caressing his hair. “And, I do so love you!”
“I am very glad to hear it. Shall we both love each other then?”
Calina nodded eagerly.
This was too much for Kallindo. His heart felt as light as when he was a child. With joyful mischief, he sat up and leaned over Calina, letting his index finger trail up to the point of Calina’s ticklish ear.
She gasped and dissolved into breathless giggles as she tried, unsuccessfully, to pull away. “Oh no – that is not fair!”
When she finally did wriggle out of his grasp, she scooted backward on the bed and grabbed a pillow, raising it above her head defensively. The pair eyed each other with calculating glances.
She shook her head in mock disapproval. “I am shocked to discover that my husband could be so unchivalrous. Don’t you realize how disadvantaged I am in this war? I do not know any of your ticklish spots. How am I to defend myself?”
The impish light in Kallindo’s eyes dimmed as he slowly removed himself to the foot of the bed. He gazed at his wife’s confused expression for several moments before speaking.
“I daresay there are many, many things you still do not know about me, and as much that I do not know of you.” He smiled. “Sit and talk with me a while.”
Calina was happy to oblige. She sat near the headboard and Kallindo remained at the foot of the bed, each wrapped up in blankets. The conversation began with an enumeration of all Kallindo’s ticklish spots – which he divulged with playful reluctance – and then moved on to other such nonsensical topics: their preferences for taking tea; their favorite festivals; whether works of historic prose were superior to historic ballads. Later on, Kallindo dwelt for the first time with any length upon his family, and expressed his desire for Calina to meet them. Calina in turn spoke of seasons spent with her cousins in the north, and how she had first met Oiratinwë and become enchanted with her art. They talked almost clear through the morning – each word seeming to bring to life half a dozen others – and their flow of conversation only came to a halt when Calina noted how very dry her mouth was.
There was a small table in one corner of the room upon which was set a decanter of wine, another of water, and two goblets. Kallindo quickly retrieved a goblet of water and brought it back to the bed. Calina thanked him sweetly for it, taking a few sips then setting it down onto the floor next to her side of the bed.
When she turned back, Kallindo beckoned her to lie down beside him. She did so and they were soon wrapped up in each other’s arms and each other’s blankets. Silence reigned for several moments as Kallindo made a show of studying his wife from all angles. She tried not to appear affected, but was horribly overthrown in all her attempts.
“You know, I find that you are thoroughly fetching in the morning.”
Calina smirked wryly. “Do not you think that your opinion must be very biased, sir?”
“Nay,” Kallindo shook his head resolutely. “It is an undeniable fact. You are captivating.”
With a sly smile, Kallindo rolled over, pinning Calina beneath him and leaning in to claim her lips. He did not achieve his desired object, however, as Calina turned her head aside with a slight grimace.
“Yes, well, before you explore that thought, perhaps you had better put the glass thorn away. You may not have noticed where you dropped it, but it happens to be poking into my left shoulder. I’d hate to get blood on these lovely sheets, should I become snagged against the point.
With a sheepish grin, Kallindo withdrew the offending article and tossed it carelessly to the other side of the room. Calina raised an imperious eyebrow.
“Are you now so reckless with my token of regard?”
“I no longer have need of it,” Kallindo replied matter-of-factly. “You are a part of me now. Always.”
Kallindo and Calina explored that thought, as well as many others, as the last hour of the morning slipped away. The result being that Lady Calamau was once again proven correct: the newly wedded couple did not come down for breakfast.
No! This is not the last chapter!
Things to Know:
Calina: Q. “illuminated”
Kallindo: Q. “noble heart”
Oiratinwë Calamau: Q. “eternal spark/light hands”