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A Fire Long Kindled  by Nilmandra

Inspiration for this short story stems from several sources.  I hope this brings joy to Eruanneth Luin on her birthday December 15.  Anniversaries are wonderful times to remember the love you felt when you joined with your spouse - Happy Anniversary to Daw and Mr. Daw on December 12th  (35 years!) and Nancy and Blue on December 17th.  Last, choosing to live life fully is a wonderful choice and a gift to all whom with you share your life.  Blessings on you, Levade.

Thank you to daw the minstrel for beta reading this story.

Chapter 1: First Comes Love (Elrond)

“Elrond, I wish to speak to you.”

Elrond looked up from his work and gestured for Glorfindel to take a seat.   He finished the sentence he was writing and made a notation that would remind him of the rest of his thought.  Then he wiped his pen and capped his ink.  When he looked up to give his visitor his full attention, he found Glorfindel still standing.  Not only was he standing, his demeanor was stern – hands clasped behind his back, which Elrond knew from experience, was only slightly less worrisome than arms folded over the chest.

Elrond said, “You are concerned.   Have you received word of anything amiss on our borders or beyond?”

“My concern lies within Imladris,” replied Glorfindel. He held out his arm in the direction of the terrace behind Elrond. “Come and walk with me.”

Elrond rose and walked outside with Glorfindel following close behind him.  The fragrance of roses filled the air, and Elrond slowed to enjoy the walk through the garden.  He breathed in deeply, then ran his eyes over the beautiful blooms. Both sight and smell attracted him to this favorite area.

Glorfindel fell into step next to him then, and Elrond returned his attention to his friend’s concerns.

“What is amiss?” asked Elrond.

Glorfindel looked at him for a long moment, holding his gaze until Elrond felt he might squirm like an elfling.  Instead, he masked his face and met the stare impassively.

Glorfindel sighed and looked away, but after a moment he turned back and smiled. “Come up to the waterfall.”

Elrond nodded, though he remained puzzled.  Glorfindel’s behavior was strange, and it was unlike the elf to be at a loss for words. Elrond suspected that he might not like whatever he was about to hear.

They reached the rocks near the waterfall and Elrond shed his robes to climb up after Glorfindel.  The elf sat back and again studied him, but this time Elrond studied him back, seeking to know what was on his mind and what concerns were harbored in his heart.   The two were normally transparent with each other, as happened when two had worked together and lived closely for so many years.  To his surprise, Elrond became aware that he was the cause of his friend’s concern.

His first inclination was to close his mind, but he restrained himself. While self-protection was a natural reaction, it would be an offence to their friendship.  Never in the centuries he had known Glorfindel had the elf wished anything but good for him, and Elrond would at least consider any concerns he had.  He decided to remain silent until Glorfindel was ready to speak.

“What do you see?”

Elrond’s gaze had wandered in the ensuing silence, and he did not turn from the valley as he thought about Glorfindel’s question. Instead he focused on what he did see. Some things were obvious: the lush valley, the towering mountains, the silver water of the falls and rivers.  Closer to him was the house, his house, with a bell shimmering brightly in its tower, and the many outbuildings that housed the trades and industries that supported those who lived within.  Even these were only things, things that would decay in time and need to be replaced.  People moved about Imladris  - tending the gardens, exercising the horses, reading in the sunshine, many singing as they worked or played.

“Home,” he finally answered.

That one word summed up much of what was before him. For many centuries, Imladris had been an elven outpost, the last defense of Gil-galad’s realm in the east:  founded in an army’s retreat, defended in war, the launching point for the armies of Elves and Men in the Last Alliance against Sauron. The feel of Imladris had slowly changed over the last century; domestic tranquility settling upon it much as gently falling snow blanketed the land, coating the upper surfaces before seeping into the hidden recesses below.  Imladris was still a refuge, still could defend itself, and might one day launch another army, but it had grown beyond being only those things.

“Yet something is missing,” Glorfindel replied.

Elrond glanced at the elf in surprise.  “What is missing?”

Glorfindel turned an exasperated glare upon him. “I will be more specific, if you insist upon being dense. Something is missing from your life, Elrond.  Someone.”

Elrond looked away.  He knew whom Glorfindel meant. He studied his hands, his eyes tracing the scars left from blade and fire. Shadow had weighed heavily on him upon his return from Mordor; grief and anger and loss had burdened his soul.  She had not demanded anything of him, had not asked for anything he was not ready to give, yet had given freely of her love.  Love, patience, understanding, all unconditional. When he had held her at a distance, she had accepted the boundary.   She waited for him.

Glorfindel reached over and wrapped his hands around Elrond’s. “She does not see the blood or the ashes. She does not fear the shadow that has lingered over you. She loves you. She will stand by your side and fight shadow as long as the battle lasts. You do her no favors by withholding yourself. I would even say that you insult her, for as time continues your actions become selfish.”

Elrond squeezed the hands that held his, drawing comfort even as he accepted the rebuke.  As he looked inside himself honestly, he realized that the very qualities he loved in Celebrían also frightened him.  She gave of herself fully, lived fully, loved fully.  

“An admirable quality,” agreed Glorfindel, easily reading his thoughts.

“She has much in common with you,” answered Elrond gratefully, and he basked in the glow that emanated from Glorfindel.

“You give fully in many ways, Elrond.  You love people in a way that surpasses anyone I know, and what you give them comes from your heart.  What is more difficult is receiving what Celebrían wants to give you. Too many of those you have entrusted with your heart have failed you . . . do not bristle at me,” Glorfindel interrupted himself when Elrond would have pulled his hands away. “Gil-galad did not intend to die, your parents did not wish to leave you, and Elros could hardly have chosen other than he did.  But the fact is they did leave you and each took a piece of your soul with them. If you bind to Celebrían, she will hold your heart, as you will hold hers. Do you trust her? Do you want to live again, both giving fully and receiving fully?”

Elrond carefully considered his response, even though his heart had answered ‘yes’ immediately. “I trust Celebrían, and I do love her.” He had been studying his hands again, he realized, and lifted his head to meet Glorfindel’s gaze.  “You are right. I need to choose to live out what I know to be true.”

Glorfindel’s smile lit his face like the sun appearing through stormy skies. “Choose to live fully, Elrond.  No matter what losses you may suffer, you will be the better for it.”

“I so choose,” said Elrond, and he felt a sudden lightness in his heart, as if a veil had been pulled back from his sight and he could see life in the full brilliance of its glory.

He rose, but when he would have held out his hand to Glorfindel, the elf instead laid back on the rock, folding his hands behind his head.  “I choose to bask in the sun,” said Glorfindel drowsily. “I will leave the courting to you.”

Elrond laughed.  “Thank you, my friend.  I could not ask for one better.”

Glorfindel yawned his playful dismissal, and Elrond leapt to the ground. He was entering the rose garden when he saw a familiar fall of silver hair, and his heartbeat quickened. Now that he had unchained his heart, he found he could not wait to see Celebrían. She turned as he approached, and a smile lit her face.

He walked to her, took her hand, and lifted it to his lips in greeting.  She tilted her head back to look him in the face, and Elrond purposefully unguarded his heart and thoughts before her.  Her eyes reflected her surprise, and he felt her joy when she realized what he was wordlessly communicating.

“Celebrían, will you walk with me?” He offered her his arm.

“Gladly.” Her eyes twinkled and the smile she bestowed on him made his breath catch. He suddenly wondered why Glorfindel had not knocked some sense into him sooner.

In the days that followed, Elrond became aware of all the eyes that followed him and Celebrían each time they were together.   That he was actively courting Celebrían was apparently obvious to all, though it was not as if they had not spent time together before this.  If he walked into the rose garden with Celebrían, anyone already present would smile knowingly and some would wink, but then find reason to leave them alone.  If they spread out a blanket on the hillside in the late evening to watch the stars appear, all other stargazers chose another hillside.

The exception to these convenient disappearances was, of course, their chaperones.  Elrond and Celebrían were hardly elflings in need of a true chaperone, yet custom demanded it.

Glorfindel was unobtrusive and Elrond so used to his presence that he usually forgot the elf was near. Galadriel would occupy her hands with her needlework, and not once did Elrond notice her actually watching them.  But then, he had long ago determined she would just know if any impropriety occurred. Celeborn, on the other hand, had grown to delight in the times he would find himself assigned to the task.

At first, he found a place where he was near enough to fulfill the role, then worked on a carving or read or simply sat and meditated.   If Elrond met his gaze, the elf would dutifully glare at him, sending Celebrían into giggles.

On one particular day, Elrond and Celebrían went to the gardens and settled themselves on a blanket under a favorite beech tree. Elrond leaned against the tree and Celebrían settled in front of him, leaning back against his chest and resting her head on his shoulder.  She sighed in contentment as he began to read to her, an epic poem of the love between Elu-Thingol and Melian that began during the Great Journey and ended with the death of Thingol and the fall of Doriath.  Elrond had one arm wrapped about Celebrían, while his other hand held the book.  Though intently reading, he was aware when Celebrían covered his hand and began gently stroking it.  He shifted slightly so that he could clasp her hand.

Celeborn had been sitting in a tree some distance away, but he suddenly dropped from the tree above them, landing lightly next to them and nearly causing Elrond to drop his book.  Celebrían held tightly to his hand, however, and they both looked at Celeborn as he stood over them. He said nothing, looking impassively at his daughter but turning his most intimidating glare upon Elrond.  Elrond closed the book and tried to untangle his hand from Celebrían’s, but she would not let go and did not sit up from her reclining position even when he tried to move beneath her.

Then Celebrían began to laugh, and Celeborn’s eyes began to twinkle.  Confused, Elrond finally looked down at Celebrían and groaned.  When they had clasped hands and rested them against her, his arm had covered her breast.  He was suddenly aware of how soft she was, and as she breathed in her chest rose to press against his arm and he could feel her nipple hardening beneath his touch.  Heat rose in his face as he pulled his hand free and he forced himself to meet Celeborn’s raised eyebrow.

“Celeborn,” was all he managed to say. He turned instead to Celebrían, who was shaking in his arms.  “Celebrían, please accept my apologies. I was unaware . . .”

Celebrían’s laughter interrupted his apology, then she waved her father away.  “Adar, enough!  Go!”

Celeborn grinned in triumph and leapt back into the tree.  Elrond and Celebrían looked up to see him perched above them with a smug grin on his face.  When they turned to each other, Celebrían leaned forward and chastely kissed him, then settled herself back against his chest, clasped his hand and pressed it against her abdomen.   “Please continue, Elrond,” she said sweetly.

Elrond opened the book to the page he had been on and found his place, then took a deep breath and continued reading.  He was just back into the rhythm of the poem when he felt Celebrían slide their clasped hands upward until his arm was impeded by the curve of her breast. Still she lifted his hand a little more until it was back where it had been when Celeborn interrupted them.  She breathed in deeply while holding his hand rigid, and he felt her nipple harden beneath his thumb again. She exhaled contentedly and snuggled closer to him.  Elrond managed to keep reading and was impressed to find he could actually count numbers, his usual trick for controlling his desire for her, while doing so.

A disgruntled ‘hrmph’ sounded above them, followed by a great deal of rustling, as Celeborn disappeared.  The trees continued to shake in mirth for some time after.

* * *

Elrond awakened to sunlight streaming in the balcony doors, the air fragrant with Celebrían’s roses in the garden beyond. He felt light in spirit, and his dreams had confirmed what he planned for the day.

Several months had passed since Glorfindel had spoken to him, and they had been some of the happiest Elrond could remember. He wondered how he had ever thought his life complete before this. On the surface, little had changed.  Celebrían had, after all, resided in Imladris for many years, and he had loved her for many more before that.   The difference was that he had finally opened his heart to her love and admitted his own.  It was time for the next step.  He opened a drawer of the small chest atop his bedside table and pulled out the silver ring that was nestled there.  He opened the scrap of parchment that he had held on to for half an age, but he put the paper back in the drawer and kept only the ring.  He no longer needed those words. Instead he quickly penned a short note, folded it, and slipped it into the sleeve of his robe.

He entered the dining room and moved to his normal seat, but waited until Celebrían had arrived to seat her before sitting himself.  For long years Glorfindel had sat at his side, but his friend had begun deferring to Celebrían the day after he and Elrond had spoken.  As Elrond sat in his own chair, he slipped the note into Celebrían’s hand.

She unfolded the note and read it, her eyes passing over each syllable:

Under noon sun
Where beech leaves sway
Silver encircles the promise
plighted this day

She looked up at him, her eyes shining and squeezed his hand under the table.  Somehow they managed to eat and converse normally with others at the table, then he excused himself to meet with his advisors. Her eyes followed him as he left the room, and he found himself awaiting the noon hour with great anticipation.

* * *

Elrond fingered the ring in his pocket as he hurried along the path, eager for this noon tryst.  A sound like tinkling bells caught his attention, and Celebrían appeared from the trees, taking his hand and pulling him off the path and into a small copse. Sunlight filtered through the leaves, dappling the stream that passed through the glade. The sound of the gently flowing water mixed with the slight breeze in the trees and harmonized with the laughter that flowed from her. Elrond could not help but laugh too. She led him to a blanket she had spread out on the ground. Tantalizing smells drifted from a basket set to one side, and a bottle of wine sat next to two cups. Celebrían had already poured the wine.

“You have thought of everything,” said Elrond. His voice faded as Celebrían stepped closer to him.  He felt the heat of her body near his, then the slightest of contact as the skirt of her gown was lightly blown against his legs.  His breath caught. He lifted her hand to kiss it. She smiled at him. He pulled her close, wrapping his arms around her and delighting in the way she molded against him, a perfect fit.  She looked up at him, her eyes dark with desire, her lips parted, and he finally did what he had dreamed of doing for a long time.  He lowered his mouth to hers and kissed her.  It was not the chaste kisses of their courtship, but of a lover claiming his beloved.

She responded to him, her hands sliding up his chest and around his neck, her breasts pressing against him and making him acutely aware of his desire for her.  He was the one who finally ended the kiss, not only because of his need to breathe, but because his natural restraint reminded him not to go too far.

“Where is our chaperone?” he asked, suddenly aware that they were truly alone.

“They have given up on us,” laughed Celebrían.  “My adar said that watching grass grow was more interesting than watching us.”

“Hmm . ..” was all Elrond managed to answer as she pulled his head down and captured his lips, initiating an even deeper kiss than he had.  His hands slid down her back, traveling over hips he had longed to caress, and he was fascinated by how well his hands fit over her buttocks. He lifted her, pulling her close to him and he heard her gasp as she became aware of his desire for her.  When he would have released her, she tightened her grip around his shoulders, ensuring he did not.

Elrond did not release her, but he did stop his explorations.  Closing his eyes, he breathed deeply several times, and only when he had regained control of his passions did he open his eyes to gaze at this elleth who held his heart in her hands.

“Impatient old elves,” he whispered. “Today we will surprise them.”

Celebrían laughed with joy, clasping him even tighter for a moment and then releasing him.  She smoothed her skirts and bodice, looking over her shoulder at the back of her gown for a moment.  Elrond turned her around, concerned he had damaged her dress.

“What is wrong?”

“I am looking for burn marks,” she replied mischievously, taking his hand and pressing it over her buttock.  “Right there.”

“I see,” replied Elrond as he squeezed the firm flesh.  “I believe I have corresponding burn marks here.” He touched his chest, where her breasts had been pressed against him, then pulled her close again.  He traced the neckline of her bodice with one finger, then grew bold when she moaned with pleasure and slipped his hand into her dress.  Her nipples became even harder under his touch, and she threw her head back with pleasure.

Elrond bent and kissed her again, then withdrew his hand and smoothed her hair back from her face.  “Shall we eat first? I would not want you to faint from hunger.”

“I might enjoy fainting if I were to awaken in your arms,” she teased, but then she gracefully sank to her knees next to the basket and began preparing their plates.

They ate in companionable silence. Then Elrond leaned back against the large beech tree and took the cup of wine Celebrían handed to him.  He beckoned to her, pulling her down to sit in his lap when she came near.

“Celebrían, I love you. I wish to bind myself to you for all eternity. If you will have me, I would plight my troth with you today and offer this ring as a pledge of my love. Will you be my wife?”

Elrond held up a silver ring and when Celebrían held out her hand, he placed it upon her finger.

“I will be your wife,” breathed Celebrían, and she took his face in her hands and kissed him. Then she reached into her bodice and pulled out another silver ring. “I thought you might find this on your own,” she teased. “Elrond, I love you and wish to bind myself to you for all eternity. I plight my troth with you and offer this ring as a pledge of my love.”

She slipped the ring on to his finger, then clasped his hand with hers, so that their rings touched.   “I love you, Elrond. Have I told you that?” She laughed and leaned forward to kiss him again.

Elrond felt her joy and let his fëa reach to hers, baring his mind and thoughts and concentrating on her as they kissed.   Her presence gradually flowered in his mind, filling him, and he gently pressed into her thoughts, whispering words of love into her soul.

He felt her surprise, but her trust in him was complete. She had thirsted to learn all he could teach her, and she opened herself to this experience, letting him envelope and surround her with his love. He was careful, for his skills in this area exceeded that of most elves, and he had learned from others that his fëa, perhaps due to his unusual combination of mortal, elven and maiar blood, could be overwhelming.

She finally ended the kiss, and he cradled her against him, her head tucking neatly under his chin. He could still feel her awe at their experience.

“Is that what it will be like once we are joined?”

“I believe so,” he answered. “I have not been married, so I do not know exactly. I know what I feel when I am healing a married person though, and how I can sense their bonded mate.”

She leaned back, pressing her hand against his chest, and looked at him speculatively. “Do we need to wait a full year?”

Elrond laughed and kissed her again. “Yes, my love, I see no reason why we should not follow convention.”

“I do,” teased Celebrían.  When he raised an eyebrow to her in question, she allowed her hand to roam down his torso, and he groaned.

“Celebrían,” he warned.

“Yes, my love?”

“I hardly want your adar here with his sword drawn or bow in hand.”

She smiled sweetly at him, but stilled her hands.  She sat upright, smoothing his tunic and her bodice. “Let us go tell my parents.”

They collected the basket and blanket, and walked leisurely down the path. As they drew near to the house, they heard a buzz of activity, and as they came around the corner to the porch, they found what appeared to be all of the residents of Imladris gathered.   The crowd cheered as they appeared and then began to sing.

“They are singing of our betrothal!” cried Celebrían. She whirled around to face Elrond. “How did they know?”

Elrond looked at the singing elves and shrugged, laughing.  They climbed the stairs, nodding to the calls of blessing and well wishes, and walked to Celeborn and Galadriel, the apparent organizers of the affair, who stood waiting for them.  Elrond bowed before them.

“I have your permission to marry Celebrían?” he asked, smiling.

“Yes, Elrond, you do,” answered Galadriel without hesitation. Placing a hand on each of them, she spoke the ancient Noldor blessing.

Celeborn stood impassively with arms crossed over his chest while Galadriel spoke, but his eyes began to twinkle and a smile tugged on his lips when Celebrían turned to him.

“And you, Adar, do we have your blessing?’ she asked.

He bent down and kissed her on each cheek. “You will have my blessing, my daughter.” He lowered his voice then, and spoke in a whisper so soft only they heard him. “And you were chaperoned.”

Celebrían’s eyes widened and she glanced at Elrond then back at her father.  Elrond felt the heat rising in his face, but decided that it might well be a bluff. Then Glorfindel was at his side, wrapping an arm about his shoulders and whispering, “Impatient old elves?”

Elrond managed to control the flush creeping up from his neck,

“Have you the consent of your house to marry Celebrían?” asked Celeborn.

“It was Gil-galad’s desire that they wed,” answered Glorfindel on his behalf, “and Círdan has sent his blessing.” He unfolded a small parchment written in the mariner’s unmistakable script and bowed, handing it to Celeborn. 

Celeborn took the parchment and read, the slightest surprise upon his face. He looked to Glorfindel with a raised brow, but Glorfindel only laughed.  He turned a stern look on Elrond next. “My son, if you gained permission a century ago but have only now plighted your troth, how long a betrothal might you be planning?”

Elrond had not expected to be met on the porch with the knowledge of their betrothal already public, nor had he expected Celeborn’s question about consent.  He had, after all, been courting Celebrían for a long time and had planned to write to Círdan after they plighted their troth. He realized Glorfindel had to have been in on the planning of this when he produced the document, but just as he was considering that there had not been time for Glorfindel to write to Círdan and obtain the document, Celeborn’s humorous observation that the letter was over a century old sank in.  Before he could manage a response, Celebrían spoke.

“Elrond believes we should follow convention and wait a year, but if you say we have had permission for a century, I would gladly forego the betrothal year . . .”

A hum of laughter filled the air around them, and Elrond became aware again of the many witnesses. Celeborn stepped toward them, and taking Celebrían’s face in his hands, he kissed her brow again.  “You did not have my permission, and thus must wait the year. Nice try though, my daughter.”

As Elrond watched Celebrían with her father, he was struck yet again by the teasing and playfulness of their relationship. He could not think of any who would answer the Sindar lord with such cheek except his much beloved daughter.  He thought of children he and Celebrían might have, of a daughter who would look to him as Celebrían did to Celeborn. The touch of a hand on his cheek pulled him back to the present and he met Celeborn’s gaze as he spoke the blessing of the Teleri for himself and Círdan over them.

Celeborn returned the note to Glorfindel, who then held it to Elrond.  Elrond instead clasped his arm, and said, “I would have your blessing too, my friend, if you will give it.”

Glorfindel smiled and the light of Valinor lit him from within and he glowed. “I will offer the blessing of the third kindred, for that blood flows within you as well.”  Then placing a hand on each of them, Glorfindel spoke the ancient Vanyar blessing.

“At Mid-summer next year then,” called Glorfindel.

Cheers again filled the air, and Elrond squeezed Celebrían’s hand. She winked at him, then pressed herself against him and pulled his head down and kissed him. Elrond forgot all about the crowd around them as he kissed her soundly back.

When they pulled apart, the minstrels began to play and the elves cleared the porch, forming a circle on the grass.  Elrond held his hand out to Celebrían, and they walked into the circle to begin the dancing.  Celeborn and Galadriel joined them, and soon elves were whirling all about them.

It was dark when Elrond walked Celebrían to her rooms in the house. He held her tight, unable to believe how light his heart felt.  He had not thought to know joy or happiness again after Gil-galad died, yet Ereinion had known otherwise. He was the one who had told Elrond to go home and marry Celebrían.

He had arrived home shadowed in despair, his heart heavy and full of grief.  Celebrían had been patient and loving, taking only what he was willing to give while offering all of her heart to him. She had drawn him back into life and hope.

“Celebrían,” he said.

She looked up at him with eyes full of love and contentment.

“Celebrían, I . . .”  For one of the few times in his life, words failed him.  He wanted to thank her, to express how much he loved her, how grateful he was for her, but no words seemed adequate.

 She pressed a finger to his lips. “I love you, Elrond.”

Chapter 2:  Then comes Marriage (Celebrían)

Celebrían lifted her face to the dawn, breathing deeply of air sweetened by the rain as Anor’s light burned through the mists left by the previous night’s thunderstorms.   Heavy dew covered the grass and trees surrounding the Last Homely House, but soon that too would disappear.  She walked to the end of the balcony, where she was greeted by wonderful smells drifting up from the kitchens where feast preparations had already begun.  In only a few hours, Imladris would be prepared for the wedding of its lord. For her lord, she whispered to herself.

She had waited long for this day. She had fallen in love with Elrond Peredhel the day she met him, and she knew that he had loved her as well.  They had waited through uncertainty and war, and he had come home from that war cloaked in despair like a mountaintop lost in the clouds – it shrouded him and blocked his sight of all that was good and beautiful.   How she had longed to chase that shadow from him, to bring hope back into his life!  Her mother had counseled patience, and time had proven Galadriel right. Gradually the clouds had lifted and sun had reached the peak.

“Fair morning, daughter.”

Celebrían turned at the sound of her mother’s voice. Galadriel held a shimmering blue gown over her arm and this she held up now for Celebrían to see.

“Fair morning, naneth,” she replied, but her eyes were drawn to the dress that her mother had made. She hurried to meet her.  She fingered the silk gown, pulling the skirt out to admire the sheen and drape of the material. It was beautiful.

“Come try this on, so I might ensure the accuracy of my eye.”

Celebrían stepped back into the room and eagerly removed her nightclothes. She slipped into the dress and then allowed her mother to fasten the clasps, of which there were few.

“Naneth, this is beautiful. It is like a sunbeam caught in the waterfall,” she exclaimed as she looked at herself in the mirror against the wall.

Galadriel smiled as she checked the fit. “That was my intention.  You said you wished for the simple beauty of Imladris to grace this day, and so it shall.” She smoothed the material at Celebrían’s shoulders and stepped back.  “You are the fairest rose in Imladris.”

Celebrían turned and embraced her. “Thank you, Naneth.  This is a fine gift and I will treasure it. Where is Adar?  Has he seen it?”

“Your adar has seen it.  I believe he is off pretending to intimidate Elrond this morning, as part of some male ritual where the father seeks to ensure that the one marrying his daughter will love and care for her.”

Celebrían laughed at her mother’s tone. “Adar does so enjoy that!  I think Elrond knows he is teasing him.”

Galadriel lifted a brow at her. 

“Well, mostly teasing,” amended Celebrían.  “It is only fair that I should be receiving a similar lecture from Elrond’s naneth.  I am inclined to believe that Círdan will not fill that role.”

Celebrían had removed the dress and slipped back into her robe, while Galadriel hung the wedding dress from a hook on the wall.  She motioned for Celebrían to sit, then sat down beside her, Celebrían’s wedding headdress in hand.

“If you wish for that lecture, I will give it.”

Celebrían looked up in surprise, but quickly nodded.

“Today you become wife to Elrond Peredhel, who is mighty among both Elves and Men.  Despite any power he may hold, I tell you this: you will hold his heart in your hand. Do not ever abuse that power, nor trifle with his affection.  Today you also become the Lady of Imladris. You have been taught to run a House, and I have no doubts as to your ability.  Remember, however, that Imladris is full of competent elves able to fulfill those duties.  Your primary responsibility to Imladris is to love Elrond.”

“Thank you, Naneth,” answered Celebrían seriously.  Then she paused and smiled. “What is Adar telling Elrond this morning?”

Galadriel laughed. “I do not know.” She closed her eyes for a moment, then smiled. “I do know some of what my brother said to Celeborn.” When Celebrían beckoned for her to continue, she said, “My four brothers were in Doriath for the wedding. Finrod as eldest stood in place of Finarfin my father. Finrod was also most like Finarfin, gentle in spirit, as was Indis my grandmother.  She was of the Vanyar, as you know, and they are a gentle folk.

“The advice often given from a father to his new son is a reminder of how precious the daughter is and to love her well or else face the wrath of her kin, advice that is more tradition or play than it is necessary, for the Eldar wed for love yet seldom pass an opportunity for mirth.  My brother, however, was more serious.  He warned Celeborn that the fire of the Noldor ran hot in my blood, and not to cage me.”

Celebrían looked at her mother, at Galadriel, who was at the moment the picture of domestic tranquility, arranging her daughter’s wedding as was tradition among the Eldar, and tried to imagine her as a fiery Noldorin elleth ablaze behind a gilded cage door.

Galadriel glanced askew at her, her fingers nimbly arranging tiny white flowers in the headdress. “I was perhaps a bit tempestuous in my youth and not entirely undeserving of the description. I think Celeborn was more surprised that such words came from my gentle brother.  From Orodreth or Aegnor he could have imagined it, but hardly from Finrod!”

“Has Adar ever attempted to cage you?” asked Celebrían.

“Once or twice, perhaps,” answered Galadriel. She bit her lip, then smiled. “I am not too proud to admit he was right.”

“What were the circumstances?”

Galadriel laughed, then smoothed Celebrían’s hair down and set the headdress on her head. “They are now inconsequential.  He had merely to appeal to me as your naneth to knock sense into my head.” She turned Celebrían’s head from side to side, inspecting her work, then took the crown of flowers from her head.  “Your bath is waiting.  Go, while I check on other preparations.”

Celebrían watched her mother leave, then entered the bathing chamber, where indeed a bath had been prepared for her.  She thought for a moment on her mother’s words, casting back in her own memories as she tried to recall her parents at odds over her, but she could not remember such a time.  Her thoughts drifted to her own future, and she felt her heart skip as she considered what their wedding night would hold.  They would be bound in body and spirit. She shivered as she thought of the few times Elrond had shown her his passion, for tonight she would know it fully.  Her mind then wandered along paths of future hopes, of their life together, of children she would bear, of a daughter she would one day sit in conversation with as she did her own mother today

* * *

“You are beautiful.”

Celebrían looked into her father’s shining eyes and easily read his pride and love. He held one of her hands, and as she had done as a small child, she lifted his hand high above her and twirled below it.   He laughed. The sound lifted her spirits even higher than they already soared, and then he kissed her brow, careful not to muss her hair or the decorations Galadriel had woven among the tresses. “You will take his breath away.”

“Have you suitably scolded him this morning, adar?” she teased.

Celeborn grinned. “I tried, but your husband is serious enough already without me adding to it. He reminds me of Eärendil on his wedding day, but also Dior when he wed Nimloth, my niece.  There is no small amount of Gil-galad in him as well.”

Celebrían was silent as she considered Elrond’s lineage: heir to Gondolin and Doriath, were they not sleeping beneath the sea, and to the throne of the high king, if he had wished it. He had not wished it though. He was Elrond of Imladris, his own house. Withdrawing from her thoughts, she focused on her father’s quizzical expression and smiled. “Will you escort me outside, Adar?”

She took the arm her father offered her, and they walked down the long corridor to the stairs leading to the front porch.  The porch bustled with activity, though it came to an abrupt halt as all eyes turned to her.   Unused to being the center of attention, she had nonetheless watched her mother in such situations many a time. She moved among the elves, accepting their well wishes and greeting each in turn.

The buzz of joyous elves had resumed as they went about their work, when silence suddenly fell again.  Celebrían looked up to see the cause, and found all eyes upon her.   She looked around quickly, and felt her heart nearly stop as she saw the reason.  Standing in the main corridor off the atrium was the resplendent Lord of Imladris.

Celebrían reminded herself to breathe and then to swallow, before she choked. From his black leather boots to breeches and tunic of midnight blue trimmed in silver, from the flowing velvet cape, to the simple silver circlet on his brow, he was breathtaking.   She curtseyed before him; he bowed low before her.

“Ah, Lady Celebrían. Will you honor me with a walk in the garden?”

Celebrían had to tear her eyes away from her betrothed and force herself to smile at the bearded elf approaching her.  Círdan stepped in front of her, blocking her view of Elrond, and she heard what sounded like a low whimper and then clapped her hand over her mouth, mortified when she realized the sound had come from her.

Círdan roared with laughter, the sound echoed more sedately by all the witnesses. He took her arm from her father. “You have had her from birth and Elrond will have her for all eternity; surely you will spare her to me for a walk on this important day?”

Celeborn gave her up with a bemused laugh, but when Celebrían looked over her shoulder, it was not her father she saw, but Elrond. Glorfindel now stood at his side, one hand on his shoulder as he whispered something in Elrond’s ear.  Elrond’s eyes, though, had not left her, and they bore into her with a heat that made her feel faint.

“He does look rather well, does he not?” said Círdan, and Celebrían blushed at her rudeness to her escort. But Círdan laughed again, and she was suddenly back in Lindon, watching Elrond enter the ballroom before a gala. They had had eyes only for each other, and Círdan and Gil-galad had teased Elrond mercilessly as only a father or brother might. She looked up at Círdan and wondered how long it had been since he had laughed with such carefree abandon.

His eyes met hers and gentled, as did his smile.  “It has been a long time,” he admitted.  “Lift your skirt,” he instructed, then led her into the garden.  He laid his cloak over a bench and after she sat, he settled her skirt around her. “We do not want to face Galadriel’s wrath for mussing your dress before the ceremony.

“I will formally welcome you to Elrond’s family at the appropriate time, my dear, but I also wished to welcome you on my own behalf. You are right that it has been long since I have so laughed. Seeing Elrond happy brings me a pleasure that perhaps only a father can truly understand. Dark times will again come, Celebrían, and Elrond will have a part to play in the age we have begun.  Duty and service he knows; lore and healing he practices, but through you he will find what it means to love to the very core of his being.  Treasure him.” He paused, then the grave look upon his face gave way to a smile again. “Ai, you are the fairest rose of Imladris, Celebrían Celeborniel.  Elrond could not have chosen better.  May your life together be happy and blessed.”

Círdan pulled forth a small pouch and took out an item wrapped in silk. He shook the cloth loose and held a gleaming necklace up for Celebrían to see.  “The pearls belonged to Elwing, a gift to her upon her wedding day. I have added the sapphire; it once graced Idril’s headdress and survived the fall of Gondolin. Eärendil treasured it.  These are among the few treasures that survived the sack of Sirion and the fall of Beleriand. Long I have waited to bestow them upon Elrond’s bride.” He fastened the clasp around her neck.

He lifted her hand and kissed it, and she rose to kiss his brow. “They are beautiful, Círdan. Thank you. I am glad to wear them this day in honor of Elrond’s mother and father.”

She sat down next to him again, and as she did so, his beard brushed up against her bare arm. Unable to resist the moment, she stroked her hand down the long silky white hair and said, “It is as soft as Elrond says. He told me if I ever I had the opportunity to do that, to take it!”

Círdan laughed again and batted her hand playfully away, but at her request he told her of Elrond as a child and his fascination with his beard. “Gil-galad outgrew his fascination quickly and Elros did not care, but Elrond even as an adult was intrigued that an elf could grow a beard.” He eyed her suspiciously. “I expect if you have children you will teach them that the beard is not to be touched.”

“Oh, most certainly!” she agreed. “And as you have done with every child of the Eldar you have held on your knee, you will allow it and sputter your annoyance like Ossë crashing waves upon the shore, but secretly you do not mind for you love little ones.”

Círdan grunted.  “That obvious?”

Celebrían kissed him again.  “Yes.”

“Well, come and marry Elrond, then,” said Círdan, and he rose and gathered the trailing skirt and once she was ready, walked her back to the house.

Marriages in Imladris tended to be a whole House affair, with everyone attending, since few had large extended families with which to celebrate, as had been done traditionally.  In this case, a large contingent had arrived with Círdan from the Havens and Lindon, and King Valandil, who had grown up in Imladris during the war, had come from Annúminas with an entourage.  The cooks had produced a feast worthy of the King’s palace in Lindon, and rows of tables had been set out on the green. Canopies were arranged over many to block the mid-afternoon sun, while trees afforded shade for the others.  Lanterns were hung in preparation for the evening dance, and swaths of cloth, ribbons and bunting were hung in blue and silver. Imladris had never been more beautiful as it was that day, but Celebrían barely gave any of it more than a glance as her eyes searched out her betrothed.  Once she laid eyes on him, she saw nothing else.

Círdan walked her to him. She noted her parents’ gift hung around his neck; she had seen it before and had long known it would serve this purpose.  Elrond took her hand as she stepped near and she felt his finger at her neck, tracing along the pearls to the gem that hung from the middle.

“They are beautiful.  You are beautiful.” He kissed her hand, and she shivered in response.

Celebrían turned to Círdan, who was smiling at Elrond’s reaction, and she realized that Elrond had not seen the gift before. She felt a deepening gratitude to the elf for surprising him in this way.

Celeborn, Galadriel and Círdan announced the start of the feast and pronounced the blessing over it, and Celebrían realized this might be the only feast in Imladris in which Elrond did not perform those duties.   On this day Elrond was the guest of honor in his home, and he had graciously given up all responsibility for the festivities.  On this day, Celebrían would cease to be a guest in his house, and from this day forth she would take on responsibility for such events. 

That the food was wonderful she did not doubt, but she knew she would not be able to remember what exactly was served.   She was aware as never before of the heat of his body next to her, and how each little touch made her feel.   Toasts were made in their honor, and much wine was enjoyed, although neither she nor Elrond drank much.  Much laughter was heard, but though they both smiled and rejoiced at the sound, neither laughed very much.  She felt his hand seeking hers beneath the table, and she clasped it even though it sent a shock up her arm and into her spine.

Finally, when the steep cliffs of the valley had just begun to hide the setting sun from their view, her parents and Círdan rose and came for them, and escorted them to the wedding canopy.  Elrond and Celebrían faced each other, and Elrond began.  He removed the silver ring from her finger and tucked it into his pocket to be treasured, then spoke, “With Manwë as my witness, I wed thee, Celebrían, and take thee for my wife. I will love, honor, protect and serve thee until time ends.” He slipped a gold ring on to her finger.

Celebrían took his hand and slipped the silver ring from it and placed it in a fold of her dress specially designed for this purpose.  “With Varda as my witness, I wed thee, Elrond and take thee for my husband. I will love, honor, cherish and serve thee until time ends.” She slipped a gold band on to his finger.”

Their parents stepped closer, forming a circle with them, and Galadriel and Círdan spoke in turn.

“Before Eru our daughter has spoken. Let her be joined for eternity to Elrond, raise with loving care and joy any children that He entrusts to them, and live with her husband in honor and truth. Elrond becomes a son of our house from this day forward.”

“Before Eru our son has spoken. Let him be joined for eternity to Celebrían, raise with loving care and joy any children entrusted to them, and live with his wife in honor and truth. Celebrían becomes a daughter of our house from this day forward.”

“Before Eru we pronounce our children wed. They may now live together as husband and wife and consummate their bond,” finished Celeborn.

Celebrían’s gaze had not left Elrond’s through the blessings and pronouncement, nor had he looked away for even a moment.  When her father finished speaking, they kissed, and Celebrían felt the first change within her, a sense of other within herself.

Cheers and laughter finally invaded their consciousness and they pulled apart. Music began to play, and Elrond led her to the area set aside for dancing. He spun her into the dance and a few moments later they were surrounded.  They danced as a couple, moving as two people who at first seemed independent, but gradually becoming mirrors of each other, while their families and friends danced in an ever moving circle around them. The males moved clockwise, the females counterclockwise, switching partners as they made their way along the line. As the line moved faster in intricate steps, Elrond and Celebrían slowed, their bodies moving closer until they were pressed together, their movements no longer representing two people, but one.  The dance ended with Celebrían held against Elrond, but when he would have released her, she held tightly to him.  Sliding her hands under the dress cloak that hung so elegantly from his broad shoulders, she let them linger on his hips, holding him snugly against her.  She looked up into eyes darkened with desire and felt her breath catch at the intensity of the gaze that met hers.

All sound faded around them as Elrond lowered his head and captured her lips with his own. She savored the taste of him, and as he wrapped his arms around her, she reveled in the feel of hard muscles encircling her.  She nearly cried out when he released her, but he kept an arm about her waist and guided her away from the dancers.

No one stopped them as they walked to the house, though many a loving eye followed their retreating figures.  Elrond led her past the stairs to the rooms she had long occupied, instead guiding her down the long corridor to his chambers.  Celebrían stopped just inside the door, speechless, as she looked over the room.  What had been a masculine suite decorated in dark woods and deep colors was transformed into rooms that reflected feminine and masculine occupants, and Celebrían’s tastes as well as Elrond’s.

“Elrond, this is lovely!”

She glided around the chambers, peeking in the sitting area and bathing chambers, before returning to stand before Elrond.  He took her hands in his and kissed them. “My greatest contribution was vacating the premises while your mother and Erestor directed the work,” he admitted. “She showed me only this morning, and I was well pleased.”

Celebrían opened her mouth to speak, but words fled at the jolt she felt when Elrond stroked her cheek. Then he lowered his mouth to hers, and time stood still.  Elrond had exhibited extraordinary self-control since their betrothal, his touches seldom lingering too long and his kisses gentle. She had desired the passion they experienced that day, but he had smiled and said she was a temptation he had to wholly resist or they would end up bound long before their troth was to take place, and that was hardly a good example for the younger elves.  After that, she had been more careful not to tempt him, for she had learned the fire in his blood, while slow to kindle, was also hard to extinguish.

The fires had been kindling all day, and the touch that had made her shiver that morning now made her feel as if she were ablaze. His mouth was hard on hers, nearly bruising, and she was gasping for breath when he finally stopped.  She touched her lips in wonder. Concern filled her husband’s eyes, which she quickly dispelled by slipping a hand behind his head and drawing him back to her again.  She felt a rising urgency in both of their movements, and she unfastened the clasp at his throat, dropping the dark silk to the floor.   Intent on undoing all the fasteners on his long tunic, she was surprised when her gown fell to the floor and the cool night air brushed her bare skin. He managed to remove her chemise before she was halfway done with his tunic.  He was still fully clothed while she was naked, but when she lifted her face to playfully complain, she found his grey eyes black and a look of such adoration on his face that her words died on her lips.

Then he devoured her. She gasped as she felt his tongue tracing the point of her ear while his hands explored the curves of her body. Each place he touched tingled, until it felt like her whole body was aflame.  Sensations more powerful than anything she had experienced before nearly overwhelmed her, and she realized Elrond had opened his heart and soul to her.  She gave up attempting to disrobe him, and let herself be carried along with his passion.  He lifted her in his arms and carried her to their bed, but when he laid her down and would have joined her, she managed to hold up an arm. 

“Off,” she gasped.

He looked stunned and confused at her words, and she yanked hard on his breeches.  “Clothes off,” she clarified breathlessly.

The garments fell from him with seemingly no effort and she rose to her knees at the edge of the bed and placed her hands on his shoulders, holding him in place so she could admire what had long been hidden from her.  She traced the outline of the defined muscle of his chest, to a scar that ran down the length of his shoulder.  Laying her palms flat on the sides of his chest, she slid them toward each other, meeting at his breastbone, where a smattering of hair ran down to his abdomen. Her fingertips explored what her eye saw, smoothing over a firm stomach. At his navel the hair began again, and she ghosted her finger along it down to his groin, smiling when he shuddered

“Do I pass inspection, my wife?”

His voice was husky with desire, and she decided she would never grow tired of hearing him speak so.

“Oh yes,” she answered slowly. “Though I plan to learn every inch of you.”

She continued her explorations, her fingers dancing across the sensitive flesh of his lower abdomen to the crease of his thigh.  That touch made him shiver and shrink away from her. Thrilled, she repeated the movement, delighting when his hips thrust involuntarily forward and he moaned, the sound vibrating through her. That he desired her was without question, and she found her eye drawn to the hard flesh that would join them bodily.  Her heart sped up at the thought. She ghosted her finger up the length of him, smiling at the hiss that escaped him and the way he had to grab her shoulders to make himself stay still. She slid her hands around to his back and pressed herself against his body, and heard him blow out a long breath that told her how much self control he was using to allow her to explore.  Once she was in his arms, though, he took back control.  He lifted her hips, wrapping her legs about him, and then crawled on to the bed, laying her down on the pillows and covering her with his body.

His lips covered hers, his tongue probing her mouth again, and then he was pressing kisses down her jaw and neck.  She gasped and cried out as his hands covered her breasts, tweaking her nipples to hardness, then all sense fled as she felt his mouth on her, sucking the stiff peak and sending a shock all the way to her belly.  She wound her fingers through his dark hair, as if to anchor her to him when he would send her soaring. He sucked and kissed his way down her torso. Where her touch had required all of his control to stay still, he had to hold her hips in place when his mouth reached the sensitive flesh where abdomen met thigh.    Then he raised his head and she looked into his passion filled eyes, his dark hair tousled from her hands and falling loosely about his face. Held by his gaze, she was aware of his hands gently pushing her thighs farther apart, but his touch on her arousal was unexpected and she cried out, her upper body rising at the incredible sensations racing through her. Elrond was whispering love words to her, one hand on her breast while the other stroked her into a frenzy.  Sound and sight faded as she felt a growing tightness in her belly.  Just when she thought she would burst, Elrond stopped those ministrations and shifted her slightly, then entered her in one thrust. 

Pain blossomed for only a moment, then the tightness in her belly returned, growing with each thrust and she grasped at Elrond’s hips to hold him while she clenched her muscles around him.  Waves of contractions passed through her, each one making her gasp, and she cried out with the final one. Her contracting muscles pushed Elrond over the edge and she heard him call her name as he found his release inside her. He collapsed on top of her, and she clung to him as they caught their breath.

Elrond rolled to lie on his side next to her, and she nestled her head into the hollow of his shoulder. She could feel his breath warm against her cheek and utter contentment settled on her.  Her thoughts drifted as they regained control, their breathing finally slowing. She loved the feeling of him inside of her, of being physically joined with Elrond – her husband – and a shiver ran through her as she considered that what they had shared this night was a joy they would share over and over again. 

She turned on her side to face Elrond, then reached up to brush his hair back from his face.  Not only was he handsome, he was uniquely handsome, exotic in a way that other elves were not.   She trailed a finger along the curve of his ear to its tip, smiling when he shuddered in response, then moved down his jaw, amazed at the tightening she felt in her belly again when he captured her fingertip in his mouth and sucked on it. She traced his lips, then moved down his neck to broad shoulders and muscular upper arms.  He was broader in build than most elves and more heavily muscled.  She lightly pinched his nipple, watching as it hardened and grew erect, and she wondered how long a male needed before other parts of his flesh could again grow hard.

Not long at all, if you keep looking at me so lasciviously.

Celebrían jerked her head up in surprise, for she knew she had not spoken aloud. Suddenly she realized she had not heard him speak either.  Wonder filled her as she realized that she felt Elrond in her, not as she had the day of their betrothal, but clearer and more intertwined. She grinned at him, then pushed him on to his back and sat astride him.  Unsure entirely how the bond worked, she simply directed her thought at him,  What else am I thinking, melethron?

Elrond’s eyes darkened and took on a predatory gleam. He slid his hands under her and lifted her with ease, then shifted her down so that she straddled his groin.  You are wondering if this is possible.  Celebrían gasped as she felt the growing hardness between her thighs, and the pressure on her groin made her moan in desire for more.

But alas! I need a few more moments. You, however, do not.  Elrond pulled her down to his chest and rolled them over so he straddled her.  Their hands were clasped on either side of her head, and she felt a delicious vulnerability at being so conquered.   He gave her an appraising look, then pulled her arms above her head and held them with one of his.  His eyes never left hers as he again parted her thighs and began stroking her.  It took only moments for her to build to a climax, which seemed heightened by her inability to move. Intense waves of pleasure rolled through her, and she cried out in a series of short gasps.

She had barely calmed down when she felt a tug on her breast that went straight to her groin. Elrond sucked on one nipple, then the other, the cool wetness exhilarating. His hands moved in advance of his mouth, kissing and suckling down her belly as she writhed beneath him. Still sensitive from the pleasure that had just swept through her, she nearly screamed when he entered her again.  This time he moved slowly, stopping all movement for a moment as he pressed hard against her, until she begged him to move. He began to thrust in a slow and steady pattern, but if he hoped to prolong their pleasure, he was wrong, for she climaxed within moments and he followed her. She was spinning and falling, soaring and diving, her pleasure mixed with Elrond’s until she could not tell where she ended and he began.

She awakened as dawn broke, held securely in Elrond’s arms, and stretched like a contented cat.  She didn’t remember falling asleep; the last she recalled was riding a wave of pleasure so great that she lost herself.  She turned in his now loose hold to face him, and found him awake and watching her.

“Elrond,” she said, then added, “My husband.”

“Celebrían, my wife.” He reached to tuck an errant strand of hair behind her ear.

She pulled his head to hers, and kissed him. “Last night was wonderful. I flew from a cliff and swam to the bottom of the sea, and was rolled with the current to Valinor and back. The world exploded and I fainted, and then I remember no more.”

Elrond grinned. “You did faint. I will need to be more careful about how much I open my mind to you. It was very… intense.”

She looked at him questioningly, and he explained, “What we were feeling was intertwined: I felt your pleasure and you felt mine. It was wonderful, but perhaps a bit too much.”

“We will learn to accommodate it,” she answered with a yawn.

Elrond laughed then sat up, finding a cup and drinking of the water.  He offered it to her, and she propped herself up on one elbow to sip, but her attention was elsewhere. The angle he had put himself at put his breast near her face, and she could not help but lean forward and close her mouth over his nipple and suckle it.

“You are insatiable!  Wanton!” he teased her, grasping her head.

“I just want to know if that brought you the same pleasure you brought me.”

“Pleasure, yes; the same pleasure, I do not know.” He laughed.  “You are rather … sensitive.”

“I suppose I have time to learn what you find pleasurable,” she finally agreed as she sat up next to him.

“A worthy endeavor, that,” agreed Elrond. “I shall be equally solicitous.”

“Surely we have time for a little exploration right now.”

“We should bathe and appear for breakfast.”

Celebrían smiled. “Exploration in the bath is a very worthy endeavor.”

She learned how fast Elrond’s reflexes were a moment later as he swept her off the bed and carried her to the bathing chamber.

They did manage to appear in time for lunch.

Chapter 3:  A  Double on the Baby Carriage, Please.

Celebrían dressed in a flowing gown of silver, tied back her hair with ribbons of midnight blue and fastened the necklace of sapphires that Elrond had given her some years earlier. Their rooms smelled of roses, a scent he strongly associated with her. She looked at herself one last time in the mirror, sure of her appeal to him, then poured two cups of his favorite wine.

A knock at the door drew her attention, and she opened it to admit Glorfindel, who looked from her to the room to her again, with a raised brow.  He grinned and leaned against the doorframe.   “My lady, you are plotting to seduce your husband.”

Celebrían blushed but refused to look away from Glorfindel’s knowing smile. “Of course I am!  Elrond needs to be seduced regularly to keep him from becoming too serious. Those were your instructions, after all.”

“My instructions?” probed Glorfindel. “Tell me when, exactly, I gave such instructions?”

“You said part of my job was to keep him from becoming too serious. You did not specify how; I merely devised my own methods.”

“He no doubt appreciates your methods more than mine,” murmured Glorfindel as he leaned forward to peer through the open door into the bedchamber.

“Glorfindel! Did you find the information I asked you for?”

“I had to have Erestor find it,” admitted Glorfindel.  “Do not worry; even if he knew you had lecherous intentions for the Lord of Imladris, he would still help you and keep silent about it.”

“Please give it to me.” She held out her hand.

“How does this information play into your schemes?” he asked, holding the scrap of parchment just out of her reach.

“That is none of your concern!”

Glorfindel stood up straight, holding the paper above his head. “To the contrary, Madam, I am sworn to protect Elrond and you from any harm.  Therefore it is my concern.”

Celebrían blushed again and quickly tried to find some explanation that would satisfy Glorfindel, when she felt his hand on her cheek. “Ah, Celebrían, I push too far. Forgive me.” He tucked the paper into her hand. “Is there any other way I may be of service?”

She sighed with relief. “No, Glorfindel.  Just hope he agrees.”

She closed the door behind Glorfindel before he could ask her ‘to what,’ then opened the paper and sighed again, this time in disappointment.  She had hoped one of these occasions fit today’s date, but they were months away. She was contemplating other events she might have overlooked when the door opened again and Elrond entered.

His gaze swept over her to the candlelight dinner awaiting them to the bedroom beyond, which glowed with soft light.  He walked to her, wrapped his arms around her and kissed her deeply.

When he finally pulled back, she had forgotten what day and year it was, and she touched her lips to see if she could feel them tingling through her fingertips.  Elrond looked at her with love and desire, and a fair amount of smugness, for he knew he had complete control over that effect on her.

“Elrond, I cannot think straight when you do that,” she said, holding her hand up when he bent his head to do it again.

“Yes, I know.” He pulled her hand down and covered her mouth with his own again.  This time his hands were at work too, and Celebrían would swear he had some magic that created four hands, for they seemed to be everywhere. When he finally let her up for breath, she was panting.

“We should have dinner first. Cook will be disappointed if we do not eat this special meal.”

“Would you like to tell me first why you are on edge and what you have been plotting?”

His thumbs were rubbing across her nipples, sending delicious shivers all the way down to her toes. “You are not playing fair,” she moaned.

“And you were?” he asked huskily.

“Well, no, but that was different,” she panted.

“How so?”

“My intention was not physical,” she tried to explain, but he had moved to her eartips, which made her nearly faint.  Fortunately, he was holding her up. “I mean, it was,” she gasped, “but it was more than that.”

“It was?” he whispered in the ear he was currently ministering to.

“Ye ess!” she cried as she tried to squirm away.

Elrond held her firm, his greater strength an advantage. She had just determined she would need to play unfairly when he caught the hand that was reaching into his robes and moved to secure both hands behind her back.

“How so?” he asked again.

Celebrían was caught between the proverbial rock and hard place; although in her case, the rock was Elrond and the hard place was her desires, and it was not an undesirable place to be.   Yet she wanted this night to serve a particular purpose in addition to pleasure. 

“All right! I will tell you but you must stop!” she cried out.

Elrond stilled his mouth and roaming hand, but did not release her. She struggled slightly, but gave up when she found that that just pressed her more tightly against him, increasing both of their desires.

“I am listening,” he whispered in her ear, which he then licked.

“Oh,” she gasped.  She took a few deep breaths and looked into eyes that she knew could deny her nothing.  But she did not want acquiescence; she wanted to know his desire in the matter. “Elrond, I meant to speak to you first. It is very difficult to have this conversation in our current state of arousal.”

“I am in complete control of my faculties.”

“And mine,” she groaned. “Please release my arms?”

She smiled inside when he immediately did so. He really could not deny her anything, and the thought of hurting her was enough to make him chop off his own hand.   She took his hand and led him to the chaise. She pushed him down, and then sat down beside him. Without thinking, she began to stroke his arm, and promptly found herself in his lap, both arms securely held in front of her.

“I did not mean to do that,” she smiled.

“Of course not.  Now, what did you wish to discuss?”

She fell silent.  She had gone about this all wrong.  She shouldn’t have gone for a romantic setting. She hadn’t meant to seduce him, despite Glorfindel’s teasing about the atmosphere.  She had wanted the atmosphere romantic, as he was her husband and lover.   She felt him touch her and went completely still, and then took a deep breath and looked up at him.

His look stole her breath away. His hand was over her abdomen, over her womb, she corrected herself. He was touching her not in a sensual way, but as if he were waiting for her belly to swell and fill the cup of his hand.

“Shall I give it a go?”  When she nodded he continued, “We have been married for a good number of years. You love me and our life here, and wish to know how I would feel about adding a child to our family. A child would be new life to Imladris and new hope for our people.  Am I correct?”

She nodded again, and he released her hands to wipe away the tear that had somehow appeared on her cheek. “You didn’t want to make love until you knew, for this day is in your head as the right day, though you do not know why. And your body has prepared itself.  It is ripe for conception.”

“I should have spoken to you sooner, but I was still thinking there was some reason it should be today, but I could not find why this day was important.  I am afraid I cannot entirely control my body in this regard; it prepared itself anyway,” she admitted, ashamed of her lack of control.

Elrond bent his head forward and kissed her tenderly. “Your body did exactly what it should, and that is not your fault,” he soothed her, recognizing her frustration.  “Nothing would make me happier than to be a father, and nothing would give me more pleasure than to conceive a child with you.  Today is Gil-galad’s begetting day, and I would be honored if we conceived a son today.”

“A son,” she breathed as another tear rolled down her cheek.  “Yes, a son.”

She relaxed in his arms, her thoughts and mind wide open to him, and he filled her with the full force of his fëa as he bent to kiss her again.  Her breath was gone and her legs jelly when he lifted her and carried her to their bed.  He had managed to divest her of her gown before lifting her, and she tried to make a note to ask how he did that, when he dropped his own robe and she realized he was naked beneath it.  Knowing for a fact that her husband did not go about Imladris naked beneath his robes, she realized he had come prepared. She had just opened her mouth to tell him so, when he laughed and smothered her protests with his mouth.

Usually their lovemaking was an equal affair, with each of them concentrating on what brought the other pleasure, but on occasion Elrond completely dominated their liaisons. Not that she disliked such occurrences; on the contrary, they were some of the most memorable.  This turned out to be one of those times.  She was kissed senseless, her body stroked and fondled until she was just quivering flesh, and then brought to the top of the highest mountain and sent flying over the edge.  The only difference this time was in the control they exhibited over their bodies.  She had known that her desires for a child had caused her body to prepare for that eventuality. Had Elrond not also wished for a child to be conceived, his control of his body would have prevented it.  Yet he did desire it, and as he climaxed she felt an undeniable difference in the way his body responded, and they stayed joined for some minutes after they crashed back to earth.

He held her for a long time afterwards, whispered word of love in her ears, while his hand stayed pressed firmly against her lower abdomen.  Her hands covered his, and she was wholly focused on what was happening inside of her.   They knew the instant their seed joined, and Celebrían thought her world had turned upside down with the joy of knowing that a new life was beginning inside her.  Still, the new life needed to take up residence in her womb and that could take several days.

They did not eat that night, and the cook had the good sense not to be offended. By morning, Celebrían was hungry.

“Come to breakfast,” encouraged Elrond.  “Your actions or lack thereof make no difference on the next step.”

“Will others know?” she asked.

“Not yet.  And even if they suspect, none will speak until we wish them to know. But you do need to eat.  Soon you will be eating for two, after all.”

She covered her abdomen with her hand.  “Our son,” she said in wonder.

They entered the dining hall and took their seats.  Celebrían hesitated to meet Glorfindel’s eyes, even when he whispered, “He does not look too serious this morning.”

She covered her mouth with her napkin to keep from laughing, and set about eating her breakfast.  Glorfindel asked her to pass the fruit, and when she did so, their hands touched and eyes met for a moment.  She watched as his eyes opened wide and his eyebrow nearly escaped from his forehead, and she burst out laughing.

“Are you well, Glorfindel?” she asked sweetly.

“Celebrían?” he asked, stunned.


This time she met his gaze solidly, thoroughly enjoying the warrior’s discomfiture.  He sputtered and coughed, which brought Elrond’s attention.

“Glorfindel, are you ill? Have you choked?” Elrond reached behind Celebrían to pat the elf on the back.

Celebrían grinned when Glorfindel refused to meet Elrond’s eyes. “I am well, Elrond. I think I will just get some fresh air.”

“Celebrían, are you misbehaving?” Elrond whispered after Glorfindel had left the table.

“Yes, dear,” she answered.  “Would you like another tart?”

“No, dear, I prefer something sweeter,” he answered. “Do you plan on tormenting Erestor next?”

“Perhaps,” she answered.  “I am still hungry. Will you pass me the biscuits?”

* * *

Elrond saw Celebrían walk past his study to their chambers two mornings later. He sensed awe and fear in her, and he left Erestor without a word. He found her lying on their bed, one hand over her belly and her knees drawn up and feet resting on the bed.

“What do you feel?” he asked as he covered her hand with his own. She pulled her hand free, so his covered her womb and she covered his hand.

“I cannot describe it,” she answered.  “It is not pain, but it is uncomfortable.  Something is happening, or trying to happen.”

Elrond concentrated on her womb, and in communion with Celebrían, he could sense what she was feeling as well as his own observations.  Through her, he felt a snap and a sense of fullness in her belly, and knew that the tiny being inside her had attached to her womb.  She took a deep breath and smiled at Elrond. “Our son has decided to move in,” he teased.

He gently massaged her belly, and concentrated on the newly created fëa that had been gifted to their joined seed, but he could not connect with it and concern rose in him.  He quickly shielded those thoughts from Celebrían, and tried again to connect with their baby’s fëa, but failed again. He had cared for gravid females, many in the early stages of their pregnancy, but he had to admit none this close to conception. Perhaps the infant needed to grow a few days.

Even as he thought that thought, he knew it wasn’t right.  No matter what the size of the unborn child, its soul was intact. Immature perhaps, but present and able to be communed with.  He was aware of human females who miscarried their unborn children, some due to trauma or illness of the mother, but some due to an error in the body of the infant. Could his human blood have caused their child to have such an error? Would Celebrían miscarry such a child?

He looked down at Celebrían and realized she had sensed his fear.  He smiled at her in reassurance, and smoothed her hair back and stroked her cheek.  “You are tired.  Perhaps it is best if you rest today.”

Her gaze was troubled but trusting as he pushed her into sleep.

* * *

Elrond sat by her side that day and night. He knew that Glorfindel and Erestor were concerned and hovering outside the door, but he did not wish to speak to them until he understood what was happening.  The next morning he asked for breakfast to be sent to their room, and when the tray came, a note was delivered with it announcing that Celeborn and Galadriel were expected within the week.

He felt Celebrían’s arms around his shoulders and tipped his head up so she might kiss him. “Please tell me what worries you.”

“I have too much knowledge and not enough experience,” he finally answered. When she raised her eyebrows in question, he sighed and continued. “I should be able to connect with the spirit of the babe in your womb, but I cannot.  Yet my experience does not extend to newly conceived infants, so I cannot say that this is unusual, but I have never heard tell of there being a time when communion was not possible.”

“Could there be a bodily defect, like the lamb born two springs ago with an extra limb?” she asked. Though she asked calmly, Elrond could feel her tension.

“I would not think the bodily defect would have an effect on the fëa itself,” he answered softly.

“What could possibly lead to an injured fëa?” asked Celebrían, fear evident in her voice.

Elrond stood and pulled her against him, stroking her back and head and murmuring to her, soothing her.  “We do not know anything is wrong.  My experience in this is limited. I have, after all, not been a father before nor tended a gravid elf so early in pregnancy.”

He sat on the chaise and pulled her into his lap. “I am creating fear in you where none should exist.  I am sorry, Celebrían. We should be enjoying these days.”

To his dismay, she burst into tears.

* * *

Another two days passed, and still they did not speak to anyone in Imladris of their news or concerns.  Meals were delivered and they sat often on their terrace or walked in their rose gardens.   Elrond saw Glorfindel sitting high on the rocks above the waterfall, keeping watch over them, and he grieved not to share this burden with his friend. That afternoon, Glorfindel appeared at their door, announcing that Celeborn and Galadriel had entered the valley.

“Elrond, may I speak to you?’ asked Glorfindel.

Elrond finally nodded and led Glorfindel down a back passage to his study. He motioned for Glorfindel to sit, but remained standing himself.  When he next looked he found Glorfindel still standing as well.

“I see it in her eyes,” Glorfindel finally said.

Elrond slumped into his chair and buried his face in his hands.  He had forgotten about Celebrían teasing Glorfindel that first morning.

“If Celebrían is with child, you both chose it to be so. What grieves you so that you wear sorrow like a cloak and hide from everyone?” Glorfindel asked.

“Hopefully nothing is amiss,” answered Elrond. “I have distressed Celebrían with my inexperience.  I cannot connect with the child’s spirit.”

Glorfindel sat down beside him and rested his hand on his shoulder. “When Celeborn and Galadriel arrive, I will send them to you. Perhaps Galadriel knows something.”

Elrond merely nodded and returned to their rooms.

It was mid-afternoon when the door to their chambers opened and Galadriel and Celeborn entered.  Galadriel’s piercing gaze landed first on her daughter, and she walked forward and sat beside Celebrían.  “New life grows within you.  Why do you grieve?”  She turned her gaze to Elrond for a moment, then rested her hand on Celebrían’s belly.

Then she began to laugh.

Elrond and Celebrían looked at her in amazement and shock, but Galadriel merely motioned Celeborn to draw near.  She directed his hand over his daughter’s womb and covered it. “Do you recall the last time this came to pass?”

Celeborn began to laugh as well, then he sat down on Celebrían’s other side and pulled her to him, kissing her forehead.

“But, Naneth,” cried Celebrían. “Of what do you speak?”

“Elrond, your fears are for naught,” said Galadriel, “yet there is no way you could have experienced this.  The first time we became aware of such a situation was in Doriath when Nimloth and Dior conceived Eluréd and Elurín.  Years later in Sirion, Elwing’s nurse suspected that Elwing’s experience was the same.”

Truth dawned slowly, but finally Elrond said, “Twins?”

Celebrían’s squeal of delight was surely heard across the valley, but Galadriel merely held her close and rocked her as she would a child. “I am glad you find joy in this, for they will double your delight but also your work, plus you will grow as big as a mumak,” she teased.

“However, time will tell us for sure.  Elwing and Eärendil could not control the timing of conception as the Eldar could, but the same confusion that Nimloth had experienced was present. Nimloth and Dior, like you, had planned the conception.  There were those in Doriath who could commune with the fëa of the newly conceived who were gravely concerned, but Nimloth remained innocent of our fears. A few days after the concerns were noted, two fëar were discovered and the fears allayed.  I am sorry I did not think to warn you of this, given that these twins included Elrond and his kin,” finished Galadriel.

“Why did you come now, Naneth?” asked Celebrían suddenly. “We did not expect you until spring.”

Galadriel smiled. “I knew we were needed, but storms hindered us. I had hoped we would arrive last week.”

Elrond stood and walked to Celebrían where she sat enfolded in her parent’s arms.  He held out his hands to her and she walked into his arms. Elrond could not stop the tears that ran down his cheeks, wetting her hair, and she wept in his arms. After a few moments she looked up at him and he kissed her. “I love you,” he whispered.

“Thank you, my love. You have given us twins!” she laughed with joy.

* * *

They had dinner in Elrond and Celebrían’s sitting room that night.  Elrond had told Glorfindel about Galadriel’s suspicions, and Glorfindel’s fear had also turned to joy.  They had a pleasant meal, but Celebrían eventually curled up beside Elrond and fell asleep.  He shifted her until he held her comfortably in his arms, one hand unconsciously coming to rest over her belly.  He was listening to Celeborn speak of their visit with Círdan, of the changes in Lindon without Gil-galad, and how they had next gone to see Valandil in Annúminas when he felt a spark through his hand. He sat upright, concentrating.  Galadriel and Celeborn were immediately at their side, kneeling before Celebrían and covering his hand with theirs.  Elrond felt an abrupt splitting and separation, and the fëa that he could not connect with was suddenly distressed and upset.  Elrond was amazed that something he knew to be so tiny as a speck on the far horizon could draw so much energy from Celebrían’s body, and he strengthened her and their child, pouring his own spirit into them.  Then suddenly he sensed two distinct fëar.

“And there are your twins,” breathed Galadriel.

Celebrían sighed in her sleep and turned slightly, her hand reaching for something. Elrond took it and she squeezed and drew their clasped hands to her breast, then her breathing again became deep and even.

He rose with her in his arms and carried her into their bedchamber, nodding as Galadriel and Celeborn took their leave of him.  She woke enough to cooperate when he undressed her and settled her in bed, then he joined her.  She spooned against him, then immediately drifted deep into sleep. Elrond placed his hand over her belly again, and concentrated on their sons. They were distinct, and he sensed that one was a seeker; the other more content.  It was little enough to know of a young fëa, but he rejoiced in this first knowledge of his sons.

* * *

They appeared at breakfast the next day, and Elrond saw relief in everyone’s face, followed by joy in those who met Celebrían’s eyes.  She was radiant, glowing in pregnancy, and just seeing her caused elves to laugh with joy.  None would speak of the pregnancy until they announced it, which Elrond decided they would do that night.

When they walked into the Great Hall after dinner, it seemed that everyone who lived in or was visiting Imladris was present.  The room fell silent, then one of the musicians began to play a gentle melody.  Elrond smiled, for it was only slightly different than a traditional lullaby. They walked to their places, and Glorfindel brought them each a cup, Celebrían’s of watered wine. Elrond said, “Next spring we will welcome our sons to Imladris. We are glad to raise our children in this house with all of you, our family.” He lifted his glass. “To Celebrían, the fairest rose in Imladris, and soon to be naneth to twins.”

A murmur had rippled through the crowd when he said ‘sons’ and a cheer arose when he said ‘twins’.  Glasses were raised all over the hall, and they were suddenly crowded by well-wishing elves.  Elrond made sure Celebrían was comfortably seated, for he saw fatigue in her eyes already. Then he left her to the swarming she-elves, all wishing to give advice and congratulations, and, Elrond laughed to see, some already had made small booties and blankets. He wondered how fast the looms and needles had to have flown for that.

In another corner of the room, Elrond saw bets being placed and he made his way to the corner to see what the wager was. A few younger faces reddened while older eyes twinkled, but Celeborn laughed and said, “You are not allowed to participate.”

Elrond’s eyes narrowed. “Who has made this decree?”

Celeborn laughed. “I have.  You would have an unfair advantage as the day draws near.  We are betting the day of birth of your sons, and twins combined with some human blood makes their arrival unpredictable, which means the field is open.”

Elrond looked around the group of elves. “Where is Erestor?”

“I would suspect he is doing research,” replied Glorfindel from his perch on a stand meant to hold a statue.

A few elves perked up at this news.  “Research into what?”

Glorfindel pointed at Elrond.  “Two other sets of twins with part human blood have been born. A smart elf would see how long those pregnancies lasted before placing too much money in a bet.”

A small group of elves quickly departed for the library, and Glorfindel jumped to the ground and moved to study the board. “Are you betting on when my sons will be born?” asked Elrond incredulously. He turned to Celeborn. “Your grandsons?”

They both laughed.  “Of course.”

Elrond snorted.  “Then I can participate too.  I have no more control over when they enter this world than either of you.  And I happen to know how long those other pregnancies lasted.”   Celeborn lifted a brow at him, and Elrond shrugged.  “I asked Galadriel.  I need to know for Celebrían’s sake.”

Celeborn laughed.  “Some young elves will learn much of Doriath and Sirion, but I guarantee they will not learn that information.”

Elrond nodded in agreement.  “If it was written somewhere, I would have known it.”

“More importantly,” said Glorfindel, “Elrond broke out the best wine for this night, and with all those young scholars off searching the library for non-existent information, there is more of it for us.” He poured four glasses.  “Drink?”

“Thank you,” replied Erestor as he joined them, taking the cup from Glorfindel.  “Here is the scroll Galadriel asked to see.”

“Thank you,” replied Celeborn, tucking the roll under his arm.  He lifted a brow at Elrond’s questioning look.  “It is a pattern of the heraldic devices of the three elven kindreds and the three noble houses of men.  She is designing a gift for her grandsons.”

Elrond laughed, and all the tension of recent days fled from him.  Celeborn took him by the arm and led him to a quiet corner where he could watch Celebrían, and they settled in to enjoy the night.  The singing had just begun in earnest when Elrond noticed Celebrían dozing in her chair.  He was at her side in a moment.

“Ready to sleep, my love?” he whispered in her ear.

“Hmmm,” she answered, but let him pull her to her feet. He wrapped an arm around her and they turned to leave quietly, but as they did so, the tune was deftly changed.  This time the minstrels played a true lullaby, and pure clear voices rose to sing along.  Celebrían’s hand slipped down to cover her belly, and she smiled at him. “They like this song.”

The End

A/N:  This story is set in my Imladris world (obviously)... and I chose to go with a notation in HoME that Elured and Elurin (sons of Nimloth and Dior, uncles to Elrond) were twins.  Tolkien in other places did not have them as twins.

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