“Elrohir-,” Calassë breathed, and his eyes turned back to hers, drinking in the sight of her, hardly daring to breath, hardly daring to comprehend the weight of all that was happening. She sighed out a long held breath, and smiled as if the light of the sun had been capture in her very soul. She caught his larger hand in both her small ones, and softly, sweetly, breathed, “Elrohir my dearest one, my beloved-, Glorfindel is my brother.”
She sighed out a long held breath, and smiled as if the light of the sun had been capture in her very soul. She caught his larger hand in both her small ones, and softly, sweetly, breathed, “Elrohir my dearest one, my beloved-, Glorfindel is my brother.”
Elrohir blinked. “Your brother?” he echoed softly.
“Yes!” Calassë hissed, her grip upon his hand tightening. “Glorfindel is my dearly loved brother, to whom I have been lost these many centuries.”
“Calassë!” Elrohir choked as the shards of his heart softened, like wax beneath the warmth of a flame, forming together again, new and whole, and pulsing with sudden hope that had no existence scant moments before.
“I have told him all that has happened to me, to you, to us,” she breathed, seeking his eyes with an intense, pleading gaze. “And of the love that has grown between us-,” she sighed low.
Tears touched his eyes, running down his face, and he ducked his head, lifting a hand to wipe them away.
“Elrohir,” her gentle voice commanded, the barest touch of her fingers against his jaw lifting his face again to hers. “Let me-,” she murmured softly. With these words, she rose upon her toes, leaning into him as her lips brushed tenderly over his face, smoothing the lines of wetness away. Her soft kisses slid slowly, deftly over his face until her lips at last, sighing softly, covered his mouth.
All else about them faded as her arms slid about his neck. His own arms circled about her tiny waist, tentatively at first, until he remembered once again that she truly belonged to no other. She was his. And with that joyful rememberance, his arms twined suddenly about her, and pulled her hard against himself as he crushed her lips beneath his own and tasted her fervently, the salt of their mingled tears wet between their lips as her own tender, hungry caresses answered his own.
“Calassë,” he wept gently when he drew back at last, murmuring her name over and over again as he caught her face in his hands and smoothed her tears away with kisses of his own pressed delicately upon her flushed, eager face. “I had thought I had lost you forever. I thought my hope was dead-,”
“Forgive me, Elrohir,” she returned between soft gasps. “I was so overcome, I did not think-,”
“There is nothing to forgive!” he insisted, clasping her shoulders, and drawing back from her, to find her eyes. “Glorfindel is your brother! You love him. He-,”
His words died. Color crept into his face as reality returned. He swallowed hard, then turned and glanced toward Glorfindel and Ithilwen standing by, their arms about each other, watching the pair with merriment in their eyes.
“Glorfindel,” he gasped, mortified, drawing back from Calassë’s embrace. “Forgive me! I-,”
“Forgive you, my brother?” Glorfindel chuckled merrily drawing near with Ithilwen upon his arm, the maiden beaming as he was. Glorfindel’s arm found Elrohir’s shoulder, and he jostled him gently, to which Elrohir smiled, chagrined. “There is no need! You love my sister! How can I fault you?”
“But I-,” Elrohir continued to splutter, “I kissed her! In front of you!”
“As I kissed my beloved Glorfindel in front of his sister, when I too, learned the joyful truth, my lord, Elrohir,” Ithilwen assured him merrily. “You have done no wrong.”
Glorfindel grinned down at his own beloved, and with a gentle squeeze, released her and came forward, clasping Elrohir’s shoulder. “Thank you,” he murmured softly. “I have never seen my sister happier.”
Elrond’s son returned the gesture, clasping Glorfindel’s shoulder in a strong grip. “It is I who should thank you,” he countered warmly. “For entrusting her to me.”
The two Elven men spoke no more words, though volumes of understanding and gratitude passed between their eyes.
A soft trill of subdued laughter, like the laughter of bright water reached his ears, and Elrohir glanced toward the sound, seeing Lalaith beside Legolas as they shared cheerful, laughing banter with Aragorn and Arwen. Legolas’ arm was encircled tightly about Lalaith’s waist, and her own arm about his.
“I suspect you have not heard the news,” Glorfindel sighed softly, turning to glance at the maiden as well as he, with a final squeeze, released Elrohir’s shoulder. “Legolas has already spoken to Lord Elrond of wedding Lalaith in Imladris before the spring has ended. King Elessar and Lady Arwen will come with us, to see the wedding and yours and Elladan’s as well. And King Thranduil with his queen and their contingent will repose a few weeks in Imladris as our guests. The day after Midsummer, the day we have chosen as our wedding day,” he smiled warmly upon Ithilwen, who blushed prettily, and ducked her head, “the King Elessar and Lady Arwen mean to return to Gondor while King Thranduil and his people will depart for Eryn Lasgalen.”
“Ai, and Lalaith will go with them, then,” Elrohir sighed, studying his golden haired cousin’s bright face as she laughed aloud at something Aragorn had said, and hid her face against Legolas’ shoulder in merry embarrassment.
“She will,” Glorfindel sighed.
Glancing toward the golden haired maiden, Elrohir sighed as he studied the fair, familiar face, the maiden as dear as a sister to him. Sensing his eyes upon her, she lifted her eyes, and met his gaze.
Lalaith’s eyes brightened at the sight of him, seeing the weighted care was gone from his countenance. And she smiled and waved a small hand toward him. Arwen, seeing her gesture, turned, brightening at the sight of her brother, and waved as well.
“Though cousin I have called her, she has always been sister to me,” Elrohir murmured softly, lifting a hand, and waving back to the two women as he grinned past a suddenly bitter sweet pang. “A sister whom I shall still have, long after the last of our kin have sailed into the West.”
“And so,” Calassë finished at last, with a ragged sigh, leaning back into Elrohir’s shoulder relieved that the full of her story had been told, “that is how, at last, I came to be in the blessed woods of Lothlórien. That is why I must ask your forgiveness.”
Lalaith sat in the warmth of the shadowed sitting room in her small dwelling, the scent of flowers wafting in on the air from the balcony beyond as she studied the silver, star woven blanket that rested in her lap, which the other maiden had just given her. She looked up, trading a glance with Pippin where he sat upon a low cushioned stool, his face bearing an expression of overwhelming sympathy at the maiden’s heavy story.
“And so you were-,” he stammered, glancing from Lalaith to Calassë and back again. “You were that very orc who picked me up on the steps of Orthanc-,”
“Yes,” Calassë choked, beginning again to cry as Elrohir’s hand soothed her soft hair where the pair sat upon a cushioned, high backed seat in the corner of the room. “I am sorry! So very sorry. I was vile, and wicked, and-,”
“No you weren’t!” Pippin protested, pressing his hands upon his knees, and leaning forward, his face open and earnest. “That woman who was with you. That-,” his face took on a look of disgust at the memory, “That dirty-, that-, that awful wench! She told you to kill me, but you didn’t! You didn’t, my lady!”
“Indeed,” Lalaith added softly, her eyes down. “I thought in remember that encounter on the steps of Orthanc, that it was odd a daughter of Men would be more cruel than an orc. I could never understand why. You did nothing to hurt either of us.”
“But I did nothing to help you,” Calassë protested, her voice small as she brushed tears from her face. “Greta nearly killed you, my lady, and I stood by. I did nothing.”
“But Calassë, you were frightened, and-,”
Lalaith sighed, leaning back upon the chair where she sat, studying the maiden’s grieving face, and Elrohir’s look of tender devotion.
“Calassë, do not think on what you didn’t do,” she breathed at last. “Think on what you did do. You left Greta-,” a chill swept over Lalaith at the mention of the woman’s name, her face, beautiful and cruel, flashing before her vision, her cruel, merciless lies, more biting than any orc’s blade. “You left Orthanc, and all that shackled you, and made your own way to the Golden Wood where they found you, and brought you back. Think on what you have done right.”
Calassë sighed, “But I-,”
“If you wish to hear the words, then know that I gladly forgive you, Calassë, as I know Pippin does,” Lalaith murmured softly, her heart brimming.
“I do,” Pippin offered readily, to which Calassë smiled warmly upon the Hobbit. “For you are a kind, gentle lady. And you should not let yourself suffer anymore for something that is repaired, and healed now.”
Lalaith reached over, and clasping Calassë hand, she smiled at the sweet relief that came over the other maiden’s countenance, and the gratitude in Elrohir’s eyes.
The lamps set here and there about the high pinnacle beneath the silver tower of Ecthelion flickered like flags of yellow and orange in the night wind that smelled sweetly of high mountain flowers. About one edge of the encircling lamps, were set carven benches for the dancers who wished to rest, while upon the other side were tables fairly groaning beneath the weight of the many foods upon them, roasted meats, and luscious fruits as well as crisp breads, and delicate sweetmeats. Hidden just beyond the reach of the torchlight, musicians played a slow gentle tune, matching the tender mood that rested gently upon Lalaith’s heart, intermingle with all the other tart emotions that coursed through her as she swayed lightly in Legolas’ arms, her head upon her shoulder. She sighed as she gazed over the other couples who glided lightly over the stone tiles around them. Elrohir with Calassë tenderly encircled in his arms, was nearest to her, the two Elves swaying together to the music as they gazed into each others eyes, each equally entranced by the other.
Ai, the look of perfect contentment and adoration upon her kinsman’s face was enough to bring tears to her eyes, and Lalaith could not keep the soft shudder from breaking past her lips.
“Lalaith-,” Legolas murmured tenderly, drawing back, and touching a hand to her cheek though the rhythm of his movement did not change. “What is it?”
“Nothing, nothing, forgive me beloved,” she breathed softly, lifting a hand, running her fingertips over the smooth silver fabric of the tunic he wore. She shivered softly as warmth trailed deliciously through her body at the touch of his firm muscles beneath the cloth, the steady rise and fall of his breath, and the quiet murmur of his heart. “It is only that-, all is as it should be for all who are dear to me. It is so strange a thing that we need not fear, any more. I often wonder-, I am almost frightened that something evil is hidden still, wanting to hinder our happiness.”
Legolas sighed softly at these words. “Our quest is completed,” he breathed softly bending near to her, so that the cloth of his tunic barely brushed the silken fabric of her gown, his firm chest warm against the softness of her young body. “We faced Sauron’s minions side by side as we vowed we would. You faced Sauron. He was defeated, his Ring is gone, and his power has passed into nothingness. Spring has come, and we are here, together. Do not be afraid.”
Lalaith sighed and shuddered at the tantalizing press of his body against hers, and Legolas reluctantly drew back again to gaze at the timid expression that had come over her face.
“Do you remember the ceremony?” she breathed softly. “Do you remember when we stood beside the wedding pair, when I spoke for Arwen, and you for Aragorn, and joined their hands together? Did you feel as I?”
He smiled teasingly into her eyes, sensing her feelings. Leaning near, he breathed in her ear, “I felt it as well, Lalaith nin. When our eyes met, when you spoke the name of your exalted mother Varda, and I of your father, Manwë. Our waiting is nearing an end, my beloved. Soon, we shall be one as we long to be. In soul and in body.”
Lalaith shivered again at the promise in his words, the flame in his eyes. “That day is not drawing near, soon enough,” she heard herself murmur huskily, and as he drew her nearer to him and softly nuzzled her hair with his silent reply, she glanced past his shoulder toward her cousin who was dancing in the arms of her father, Elrond. The two of them were engaged in quiet words, both smiling sadly into the eyes of the other.
Arwen touched a hand to her father’s cheek in a comforting gesture as the two glided slowly over the floor together, with Aragorn clad in his wedding robes of white and silver watching them with subdued joy from the edge of the firelight. His bride, sheltered by her father’s capable arms, flowed across the stone tiles as beautiful in her shining wedding gown as if she were a living moonbeam.
Legolas, noting her distraction, glanced to where Lalaith did, and uttered a soft sigh at the look of quiet resignation upon the face of Elrond as the quiet lilting music that had flowed over the high parapet, faded into peaceful silence. Aragorn came slowly forward then as the Elf lord turned toward him, and with a last heavy smile, relinquished his daughter’s hand into the hand of Gondor’s king, and strode slowly away toward the edge of the encircling torches to fall wearily upon an empty bench, his expression weary and subdued as he watched his daughter.
Beyond the reach of the torchlight, the musicians began the first stirrings of another song, and Legolas’ arm slid eagerly about Lalaith’s waist as the courtyard beneath the steps of the high silver tower of Ecthelion once again became a forest of swirling skirts. The king and his new queen joined in the dancing, though Lalaith could not help but note, the pair were straying nearer and nearer to the edge of the firelight, their eyes fixed upon each other, their gazes darkened with undisguised desire.
At last, Lalaith smiled and ducked her head as Arwen, her patience seemingly faded at last, snatched Aragorn’s hand, and caring not at all of the looks of teasing understanding that were cast their way, pulled her suddenly startled husband away with her into the shadows beyond the torchlight. The sound of their mingled laughter and fleeing footsteps faded away into the shadows that led toward the palace, and the king’s private chambers that had been made ready for them.
“Soon, Lalaith nin, soon,” Legolas breathed softly into her ear, the warmth of his words washing deliciously over the bare flesh of her neck.
She sighed at that, and smiled into his eyes before a soft voice at their elbow, drew their attention from each other.
“Prince Legolas,” Elrond asked, his familiar eyes smiling warming upon her, though there was undeniable weariness in them. “Might I beg a moment with your betrothed?”
“Of course, my lord,” Legolas offered, stepping back, and willingly relinquishing her hand into Elrond’s. Legolas flashed Lalaith a glance filled with warm secrets then before he moved away, striding with the easy grace that was his, to the edge of the firelight where his parents stood, conversing with Éomer, the king of Rohan who stood hand in hand with Princess Lothiriel of Dol Amroth whose fingers were woven together with his in a gesture of endearing affection.
Rather than leading Lalaith among the other dancers, Elrond guided the maiden away to a stone bench between two flickering lamps, and gestured her to sit. Lalaith did as she was bidden, watching her uncle as he dropped wearily upon the seat beside her, then, wordlessly, silently, buried his face into his hands.
“Uncle Elrond,” Lalaith soothed, touching a hand to his back in a consoling manner as if she were the elder. “I-,” she swallowed stiffly. Any words she could speak would be shallow. Arwen was not her own daughter. Surely Lalaith did not understand the aching, terrible love of a parent for a child, the wrenching sacrifice it took for Elrond to relinquish his only daughter to mortality, knowing now, that it was but a matter of years, and the doom of Men would claim her.
“I love her, too,” she managed to murmur at last, and bent her head, knowing the weakness of her paltry, childish words. “Though not as greatly as you love her, surely.”
“Lalaith, Lalaith,” Elrond murmured, his voice soft, though she could hear the aching sobs within his words as he caught her hand between both of his own, large and gentle and warm as they trembled with emotion.
“My child, my little golden haired treasure,” he choked. “I love you no less than I love Arwen. You know that, do you not?”
“Of course I do. I always have,” she breathed softly, squeezing his large capable hands with both of hers.
Elrond sighed raggedly at this, his eyes fixed intently on their hands before he continued brokenly, “I was truly blessed the day you came into my life, like a ray of sunlight wrapped in a shawl when Legolas handed you into Celebrian’s arms, and I saw your face for the first time. Since your coming, you have given me far more than I could ever return to you, and I wish that I had-,”
“Uncle Elrond,” she chided gently. “Your selflessness and generosity, and your kind and patient wisdom have blessed me all my life! More than I can say. Do not say such things!”
He drew in a ragged sigh, and as if suddenly coming to himself, looked up into her eyes, a look of chagrin upon his wise, gentle face.
“From the time you were small, I taught you to call me Uncle.”
Lalaith nodded softly at this. “Because you did not wish to take the honor due to my birth parents for yourself. I have always understood that.”
“But I-,” Elrond swallowed hard and glanced away, struggling to maintain his emotions. “I hope that you understand you are mine, as much as if you were a child of my blood. You have ever been my cherished daughter, as much as Arwen has been. My pride in you is no less than my pride in her, and in Elladan, and Elrohir.”
“I know that!” Lalaith soothed. “You do not fear that I feel you love me less than the others?”
Elrond smiled sadly at these gentle words, his eyes down. “No, but-, You were a daughter to me, ere Aragorn was born. Long before I knew in my heart that one day I would lose Arwen to him, you have been my daughter. And now, looking back, I wish I had taught you to-, to call me-,”
“Ada?” Lalaith softly finished for him, her cheek coming to rest against Elrond’s shoulder, and at the quietly uttered word, Elrond’s shoulders began to shake softly, silently.
“It is not too late,” she breathed. “Though I have never called you such, you have always been Adar to me.”
And at these words, he straightened. And with a muffled sob, caught her to him, his cheek pressed against the gold of her hair.