Author’s notes: For those looking for the previous chapter, it is here.
Disclaimer: All the world of Eä is the wonderful creation of JRR Tolkien, I am only borrowing and making no money . I do claim ownership of Aurelin, Laswing, Calenloth and Belegorn, though.
The ring was beautiful. Aurelin was turning it round and round on her finger, unable to take her eyes of it. She still could not believe that what had happened last night had not been a dream, a dream perhaps born of her wound and wishful thinking. She had worried so much about how to tell Laswing that she had fallen in love with him and then he had done it before she could! All things seemed more wonderful than they had a day ago – the air was sweeter and warmer, sun brighter, trees and flowers more beautiful and she more happy than she had thought she could be after her father died.
Laswing had had even a ring at the ready the night before and when their initial feeling of being swept away lessened he had asked Aurelin if she would consent to becoming his spouse. It was his betrothal ring that Aurelin kept touching now to make sure it had all been real. The ring itself was a spiral with a leaf at the both ends of the thin thread of silver, it was as delicate as his other gift – her necklace.
The reason why she kept playing with the ring was not bliss but uneasiness. They had to tell Elrond and that made Aurelin nervous. Of course it had been the Lord of Imladris himself who had asked Gilgaer to befriend her but Aurelin was sure that falling in love had not been in the plan. Laswing had asked her not to worry about that but she could not help it. She had had a feeling that Laswing’s words had meant that he would go and talk to Elrond by himself to spare her but Aurelin had quenched that idea of his at the first spark. She had told him that they needed to do that together to show that they were being serious and respectful of the Lord.
Aurelin had changed her outfit three times by now, trying to assume the perfect appearance for the occasion. Though what was appropriate for someone who had just gotten herself betrothed and telling of it only afterwards to the head of the closest thing to a family she had?
She had thought a lot about her mother and father during that day of floating on the clouds. Would they have approved? Would they welcome Laswing to their family and would his kin welcome her? Those answers would lie in the future and far – both were alone in Middle-earth, their families in Valinor. Knowing this, Aurelin felt unsure and afraid, lacking certainty, but her heart told her that at least her mother and father would accept the choices she made. She hoped.
Someone knocked on her door when she was about to decide that yellow was not the colour to wear this evening.
Laswing walked in with eyes laughing and full of love for her, behind his back the sun was hanging just above the tips of the mountains and he looked unearthly with that light shining around him, or at least that was what Aurelin found herself thinking when she saw him. He strode straight to her, not bothering to close the door and lifted her from the chair she had sat in to wrap his arms around her tightly and kiss her thoroughly.
“And greetings to yourself too!” Aurelin smirked when he drew away. Gilgaer winked. From the corner of her eye, Aurelin saw through the eastern window for a brief moment Elanor’s startled face as her eye caught the two in the room (where she had been on her way to) but in the next instant the surprise was replaced by a grin and then she disappeared in another direction. It seemed Aurelin would not need to tell her friend of her new-found love!
“Oh, your arm is tied up no more!” Aurelin brought her attention back to Laswing when he took her arm and moved it from left to right and up and down. “Does the shoulder hurt?”
Aurelin shook her head.
“Are you sure? And did the healers take the sling away or did you decide that by yourself?”
“What if I did?” she queried.
Gilgaer made a show of deep thought, frowning and tapping the fingers of his right hand on his left. “As punishment for it I would have to carry you around for a week, not letting you walk one step by yourself, to avoid any further injuries.”
Aurelin made big eyes. “Oh, that would be terrible!”
An unfortunate choice of words – the maiden went serious at an instant and her eyes took on a look of someone facing a cavalry charge.
“What’s wrong?” Laswing drew her close again. “You are trembling!”
Face grave, she whispered. “I am still worried about telling Elrond.”
Gilgaer started to speak but Aurelin raised one hand. “But no, we will do it together no matter how nervous I might be.”
He shrugged. “Well, then, if you are so certain, shall we go?”
Aurelin sighed as if a mountain had been laid on her shoulders but took the hand he offered.
Laswing and Aurelin were standing on the doorstep of the open door of Elrond’s study. There was no sign of him. Aurelin threw a “let’s go away” look at Laswing but at the next moment the Lord came into the room at their call from a side chamber carrying a pile of books and scrolls.
“Oh, it is you two!” Elrond freed his hands by laying the little mountain on the already crowded table and gestured for them to enter. Gilgaer shut the door and that cut off the laughter and singing of maidens who were sweeping the walkways around the House and in the gardens. Aurelin felt as if she had just walked into an unknown and eerie old house or castle – where you’d never know what would happen next.
“Gilgaer Laswing told me you had something to speak to me of earlier.”
Aurelin stepped two paces forth. “My Lord, we, well…something became clear for us last night. Um, Laswing told me that he had fallen in love with me and asked me how I felt about that.” She had shot the second sentence out in one breath.
Elrond’s expression was composed but not far underneath he was very surprised. “Gilgaer?” he asked of the Elf, who had been silent so far and had laid his hand reassuringly on Aurelin’s shoulder.
“It is so, my Lord,” was his short answer.
“This is unexpected. I knew you were friends but more…? Gwingloth, have you come to ask me what you should answer?”
“No!” Aurelin exclaimed indignantly, eyes flashing. “I love Laswing and I need no one to ask how I should reply. I gave the answer last night – I love him with all my heart.”
She would have wanted to smile at Laswing but kept her face turned to Elrond, intent on not missing any expression of his.
The lord of Imladris drew Laswing aside and lowered his voice, while Aurelin stared at the two nervously.
“Gilgaer, are you sure of this? I know that the Eldar never take this lightly but …Well, you are so much older than Aurelin and she has been alone for years, so she might think that her feelings are love when in fact those are not and you….”
“My Lord, if you are trying to imply that I do not have the most honourable of intentions toward Aurelin, then you are deeply mistaken!” The words were quiet but Gilgaer’s expression was outraged at the thought.
Aurelin had heard all despite Elrond’s quiet voice. She took the few steps that separated her from the two and put a hand on Elrond’s arm.
“I knew that I loved Laswing before he recognised what he felt for me. For some years now he has unknowingly been the one I would ever love and those feelings were and are real, not something born out of my former loneliness. I know my heart, at least in this.”
Now she did flash a bright smile at her beloved and he gave her back one, face mirroring how much her words meant to him, and put an arm around her waist. The look they shared showed Elrond that, indeed, they were serious and loved each other deeply, there could be no doubt after what he had seen in the depths of their eyes as they looked at each other. She looks at him like Celebrían gazed at me, Elrond thought with a stab to his heart. He missed her so much. Drawing himself back to the present Elrond took Aurelin’s and Laswing’s hands.
“So be it, then! Who am I to stand in your way when you two look so determined? We shall have to invite your mother’s uncle Celeborn, Aurelin, and of course I’ll be there with Arwen and the twins. Gilgaer?”
“I have no near kin on these shores.”
“We will hold a proper betrothal feast.” Aurelin thought that Elrond was looking very excited for someone who had not been sure whether she and Laswing really loved each other five minutes ago.
Before the planning could go further Laswing spoke while throwing Aurelin frantic looks.” As much as I appreciate it, I…we do not wish for a big ceremony, don’t we, Aurelin?” She knew that he was not very fond of those, so she nodded.
“No. You see, my lord, we kind of already got betrothed!” Her eyes were on the floor (discovering a small ladybug just behind the leg of the table).
“What!?” Elrond exclaimed.
“I have a ring and all.” Aurelin raised her eyes carefully and lifted her hand.
“No, no, no. Take it off, give it to me!” Before she knew what was going on, Elrond had taken her hand and was sliding the ring from her finger. “This will now go back to Gilgaer – although, beautiful ring, by the way – until you can exchange rings at a proper ceremony. Where is yours, Laswing? Was Aurelin this time wiser than you and insisted she would give her ring to you at the right time for it?”
“No, as a matter of fact I did not have one to give!” To Elrond she looked embarrassed about that. For once something she did was proper by all standards and she looked ashamed! He let go of their hands and pushed them towards the door.
“We will decide when we are going to hold the meeting. Now go, I have much work to do and your surprise will make me unable to concentrate on it for some time!”
When Aurelin lingered, Gilgaer raised his eyebrow in question but she squeezed his hand reassuringly. Still puzzled, he walked out and Aurelin turned to Elrond.
“You did not say what you thought of this. Are you happy for us, for me?” She was fearful of the answer and her lips curved in a hopeful small smile.
Elrond kissed her forehead. “Of course I am, my dear! Gilgaer Laswing loves you and you deserve ever thread and sliver of it.”
After smiling gratefully and then impulsively giving Elrond a hug, Aurelin hurried out of the room to join Laswing, all the while desiring to skip and laugh aloud and realising that the pretence of going to help the Elves who were currently busy with the paths of the garden, sweeping them with birch brooms, would be the perfect opportunity for the both of them just to do all the laughing and singing they wanted to.
The betrothal was held in Imladris a month later, at the hight of summer. Aurelin had been busy with the arrangements, the dress and betrothal ring. It had been agreed on that only Celeborn, Elrond, Elladan, Elrohir and Arwen would be there and that Aurelin and Gilgaer would exchange the rings with as little ceremony as possible.
Aurelin had been so occupied that there had not been left that as time to spend with Gilgaer as she would have desired, which she regretted immensely. With Elanor and a few other maidens she had spent many days decorating one of the remoter corners of the garden where the meeting would take place. Flowers had started to bloom there in clusters that were bigger than usual after the ladies’ administrations. Among other work, Aurelin had also coerced the branches of a young beech to create a delicate arch.
Her dress Aurelin had spent as much time on, or more. The velvet overdress of midnight blue and the underdress of aquamarine with the same dark blue velvet wide sleeves looked just right, Aurelin thought as she turned herself before the mirror to admire the gown. Her jewellery consisted of her moonstone on the forehead and the “Silvershadow” necklace.
When Celeborn, as her oldest kinsman, came to walk her to her soon-to-be-betrothed, he just stood and gazed at her from the doorway for a few moments proudly.
“Gwingloth, you look absolutely radiant! Your mother and father would be happy if they saw you on this day.”
Aurelin smiled shyly at such praise.
” I hope you are right about my parents!”
Celeborn offered her his arm, and she took it with a grateful inaudible sigh – she was not sure she could have walked on legs as shaky as hers without help.
When the word had spread of Aurelin and Gilgaer pledging their commitment to each other, the two had been the subject of fond looks and a myriad of light jokes. Bethrothals and weddings were fewer and fewer among the Eldar, so when a couple happened to find each other, everyone else cherished them and their intentions almost as much as the even more fewer Elflings. It was known that this was going to be a very small ceremony but strangely most of the dwellers in Imladris happened to be not right on the path Aurelin took with Celeborn, but always somewhere very close, doing something or other, offering smiles when Aurelin caught their eyes. That made her even more nervous.
The half-circle Elrond and his children had formed around Laswing under the arch opened to let her pass through when Aurelin finally emerged into view. She saw Laswing raising his eyes anxiously to her when he felt the movement behind him, their gazed locked and Aurelin’s heart lurched and started to pound even more quickly.
Celeborn led her to Gilgaer, who looked resplendent in green, laid her hand in his and stepped back. Aurelin’s hands that had trembled, steadied now at Laswing’s touch and she raised her face up to him.
The betrothal was not going to be conveyed by using their voices. It had been Laswing who had suggested this and Aurelin had been quick to agree as it would render the occasion more close and private.
By the time Laswing was slipping the ring to her finger and kissed her hand, Aurelin’s feet felt watery from the words that he had said to her in her head and the flood of feelings that had accompanied them. Aurelin’s words to her Eriant might have been different but the emotions that streamed out of her were as intense. Laswing grinned in the middle of her long speech at something she had thought to him and Aurelin halted. What was funny about her being patient with him?! She shook her head a little to clear it under the mischievous glint of her lover’s eyes. As she continued his expression turned solemn, something Aurelin had not seen very often, and his eyes shone as if he was about to shed tears. The ring she had had wrought for the occasion was fashioned like a delicate flower on a strong stalk that formed the base of the ring. It was supposed to be a flower of foam and Aurelin had gotten the idea from Laswing’s ring. One of his names meant Leaf-spray and his ring had leaves on it, her father-name was Gwingloth, Foamflower, and that was what her ring depicted.
Aurelin’s ring on Laswing’s finger, they kissed and then looked long into each other’s eyes, and only the coughs of the twins (who had big grins on their faces) brought them back to reality to receive the congratulations.