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The Betrothal  by Nilmandra

For Dot, on her birthday. She asked for Bregolas and Lathron… so here they are.  I hope you have a wonderful birthday.   Thank you for your friendship and for your wonderful reviews that tell me if my stories come across as I hope.  May you find your Lathron one day.

Thanks to daw the minstrel for beta reading this story.

The Betrothal

Bregolas entered his brother’s room unannounced.  Lathron was not in his room, but on the balcony.  Bregolas walked silently out to join him.  When Lathron did not acknowledge him, he said, “Beautiful afternoon.”

Lathron jumped, then turned in surprise.  Bregolas placed a hand on his shoulder. “A band of orcs could have danced on your bed, and you would not have heard them. What are you thinking about so deeply?” He paused, then grinned. “You look like an elf in love …or perhaps an elf about to declare that love.”

Lathron flushed slightly but quickly masked his reaction, and instead smile benignly. “What makes you think that?” he asked lightly.

“Because I know you almost as well as I know myself,” said Bregolas.  “Because I know what today is.”

Lathron shrugged and resumed staring at the gardens below.  “She is young yet. I should wait, allow her more time, allow other suitors to ask permission to court her.”

“Are you blind?” snorted Bregolas.  “Has this wind blown away your good sense?”  He nudged his brother playfully. “Have you been taking advice from Legolas again?”

Lathron smiled. “Legolas should be considered in this.  He has long said he plans to marry her when he grows up.”

“Legolas is a child!” protested Bregolas.  “He overhead a comment made once in jest and repeats it because everyone laughs.”  When Lathron did not respond, he decided to push a little. “Have you considered that she may be expecting you to speak today? That not to would disappoint her greatly?  Perhaps even make her question your feelings for her?”

Lathron looked at him doubtfully. “I have never spoken my feelings for her.  It would not have been appropriate, given her age.”

Bregolas rolled his eyes.  “She blushes when you look at her, her eyes follow you when you are not looking, and you both make a point of being where the other one just happens to be going.”

“I did not know either of us was that obvious,” said Lathron, color rising in his cheeks.

Bregolas gentled his voice. “It is only obvious to those of us who love you both.”

“To Adar?”

Bregolas grinned.  “For several years, tithen muindor.” He plucked at Lathron’s sleeve.  “Already you are dressed for it, I see.”

Lathron looked down at his clothing and shook his head, but then looked up at Bregolas and smiled. “I admit to my plans; I am here merely seeking my courage.”

“Then I will not tease you anymore,” replied Bregolas. He pushed lightly at Lathron to stand up straight and face him.  He smoothed back his brother’s long dark hair, braided as a son of the House of Oropher, and straightened the collar on the rich green velvet tunic edged in brown and silver.  He led his brother inside and draped his formal cape over his shoulders and secured the thin silver circlet to his head. “Adar would like it if you wore a slightly more ornate circlet, but I think simplicity suits you better.”

Before Lathron could speak, his door flew open and a whirlwind capped by a crown of golden hair shot into the room.  The small tornado was about to leap at Lathron, but Bregolas was faster.  He caught Legolas in midair and flipped him up over his shoulder like so much baggage.  While enjoyable, the shriek that filled his ear made him wince.

“Ai! Do that again!” cried Legolas, kicking his legs to be put down.

Bregolas smacked the backside conveniently located by his hand.  “No way, elfling. I like being able to hear. What are you up to today?”

He spun Legolas around so they could see him. The sparkling eyes and flushed face suggested some sort of mischief.  An impish grin confirmed it.

“I am hiding,” Legolas announced. “It would be best if neither Emlin, Tathiel, Elumeril, nor Elenath found me.”  He paused.  “Or Eärundra or Tinánia.”

Bregolas pulled on the long braid currently hanging between him and Legolas. “Dare I ask what you have done?  Are apologies needed?  Is there a mess to be cleaned up?”

“No,” answered Legolas, but the gleam in his eye suggested otherwise. “I do not see any reason to dress up just because all of them are.” He suddenly seemed to notice that his brothers were also dressed up. “Why?” He tugged on the trim on Bregolas’s tunic.

“Because today is a special day,” replied Bregolas. “You will need to look nice as well.   Are you supposed to be getting dressed?  Is that why Tathiel is on your list of people to avoid?”

Legolas sighed.  “Elumeril was supposed to see that I got dressed.  She got Tathiel to help her and then suddenly a whole pack of females was after me.”

Bregolas bit his lip to keep from laughing.  He did not know where Legolas had picked up the term ‘pack of females’ but he doubted it would go over well with any of them.  “Well, fortunately for you, you are in the hands of two of your brothers.  I am sure Celebrinduil would love to help, but I do not think he is back yet.”

Legolas grinned smugly, then his smiled faded and he looked at Bregolas suspiciously. “Help with what?”

“Getting you dressed, of course,” said Bregolas.

Legolas scowled. He looked at Lathron hopefully, though he really knew better, and Lathron shook his head.  “Sorry, Legolas.”

Legolas sighed and went limp on Bregolas’s shoulder.  Bregolas blew in his ear and laughed when Legolas turned his head away and heaved another great sigh.   The brothers entered the hall to see Tathiel, Emlin and their sisters, Elumeril and Elenath, coming toward them.

“We will take care of Legolas,” called Bregolas. 

Emlin stomped her foot. “Leg’las, you behave!” she scolded.

Legolas lifted his head up from where it was buried in Bregolas’s chest and grinned at her.  Bregolas did not know what the imp intended to say, but he clapped his hand over Legolas’s mouth.  The pack of females looked annoyed enough as it was.  With a swish of skirts, the group turned and disappeared around the corner.

Bregolas uncovered Legolas’s mouth.  “Scamp, we must teach you when to be quiet; otherwise someday you may find a dwarven axe denting your skull.”

“What do dwarves have to do with . .. anything?” asked Legolas, intrigued.

“Dwarves have less patience than females and are usually better armed.”

Legolas pondered that for only a moment. “Bregolas, if I had a sword . …”

“No sword!” said Bregolas and Lathron together, as Lathron pushed open the door to Legolas’s chamber.

Legolas’s dress clothes were laid out on his bed, no doubt by their father.  Fortunately, Legolas was by nature cheerful and he stripped, then flung his tunic and leggings across the room at the basket, crowed when they landed inside, and began to dress.  Lathron helped him with the intricate fasteners while Bregolas did his hair.

“Please, can I have warrior braids?” he begged.

“Not yet, elfling,” replied Bregolas. “You must earn them. If we let you wear them now, then it would not be special when the day came that you could wear them by right.”

“Is this for me?” said Legolas suddenly. He held up a small circlet that he had just noticed sitting on his cupboard shelf.

“Yes, you are old enough,” replied Lathron.  After Legolas had thoroughly inspected it, Lathron adjusted it and then set it on the child’s head, fastening it securely.  

Legolas ran to get a looking glass and study himself.  He turned this way and that in front of the small mirror, touching the circlet a few times.   He put down the mirror and walked back to his brothers, inspecting them. 

“Bregolas and I look alike.  Why are you so dressed up, Lathron?”

Lathron smiled.  “Because.”

“It is nearly time for the public ceremony to begin,” interrupted Bregolas.  “Come, Legolas.  This is Tinánia’s big day.”

“What is today?” asked Legolas, taking Bregolas’s hand as they left the room.

“Today is Tinánia's coming of age ceremony.  She becomes an adult of the Woodland Realm today.”

Legolas’s eyes lit up and he bounced on the balls of his feet.  “That means she has celebrated fifty summers!  I learned that!”

“Indeed you have. You must be on your best behaviour today, Legolas. You need to be as quiet as a leaf on a tree. Do you understand?”

Legolas nodded and his face transformed from mischievous elfling to serious princeling. Bregolas nodded in approval.  Legolas knew how to behave and was very good when told he needed to be.

Lathron took Legolas’s other hand, and the three brothers walked to the Great Hall, where the doors had been flung wide open in honour of the glorious weather and the special occasion.   Bregolas and Legolas walked toward the doors, but Lathron released Legolas’s hand and stopped.  Bregolas looked back over his shoulder once and smiled encouragingly.  Lathron might say he needed to find his courage, but Bregolas knew better: Lathron was tenaciousness embodied when he wanted something.  He would speak when the time came.

* * *

Lathron watched his brothers continue out on to the expanse of green lawn where the public ceremony would take place.  He knew that Tinania’s coming of age ceremonies had started the night before. She had likely begun the evening with a special dinner with her family, the traditional last meal of childhood.  She had likely cooked the meat and baked the bread herself, signs of her ability to run her own home. There she would receive gifts befitting an adult woman of the realm. The gifts were usually simple but beautiful and meaningful: a new floor length gown and slippers for formal occasions, combs to hold her hair up, and often an exquisitely crafted item meant to be used in whatever trade the child had chosen.  Tinánia was a tremendous archer. While all female elves learned to handle a bow, few excelled at it as she did.  Lathron thought it likely a new bow and quiver had been made for her.

She would then have spent the evening in the ritual bath and purification ceremonies with her female kin, meant to show her passage from child to adult, able to bond and bear children. Her father and other male relatives would hold vigil for her during this time.

But now the time had come for the public part of the ceremony.

Taking a deep breath, he walked out to join his family.

Thranduil looked upon him speculatively and gestured for him to take a seat at his side.  Lathron did so, and then felt his father’s hand cover his.  He smiled, but hid his thoughts from his adar.

The minstrels began to sing. The song they wove was a traditional melody often used for this purpose, but the words were personalized to the young elf coming into their majority.  Tinánia’s song was one of great deeds, a song fitting for an older heroic elf, and she walked down the path and on to the green as they sang of her skill with the bow, of her use in both providing and defending with it.   To those who did not know her, the words seemed out of place for what appeared to be a shy and reserved maiden.  But while she did not have the grace and beauty of Luthíen, on this day she seemed to float on air.

She carried in her arms a large basket filled with bread that she had baked.  She served each table, breaking the loaves and placing them on a plate before the matriarch at each one.  The eldest elf at each table rose and addressed her as hostess of the event, congratulating her and blessing her as she continued her life’s journey into adulthood.

She came to their table last, before serving her own family.  Lathron found he could not take his eyes from her.  Her hair was swept up and intricately braided, revealing her slender neck.  She wore a new gown, as was the custom, the style revealing the slightest curve of breast. His breath caught.  If the intention was to set her before them as an elf-woman, ripe to enter adulthood, they had succeeded.

He barely heard the words his father spoke as Thranduil rose and kissed Tinánia’s hand and blessed her. She looked at him only once, her cheeks flushing a becoming shade of pink, then she hurriedly looked away.  He made a point of not seeking to catch her eye after that, for he had seen what he needed: she knew what he intended and she welcomed it.  He would not distract her further on this important day.

Once Tinánia had served her family, she sat herself.  Thranduil had arranged a feast for the occasion, for he had long considered Tinánia as his own daughter.  Urithral and Ethiwen had not argued with the king, and Lathron suspected that they, like his father, expected him to speak.

“Tinánia looks like a grown-up,” observed Legolas.

Lathron looked down at the elfling next to him. “She does indeed, which is good, for today she becomes an adult.  I think she looks beautiful.”

Legolas plopped his elbows on the table and rested his chin in his hands, staring at her.  Next to him, Elenath tapped his elbows and he scowled as he removed them. “She will not be as much fun to play with anymore,” he complained.

“How do you know that?” asked Elenath, laughing.

“She will not be able to play in that!  Her hair and dress will get caught in the branches!”

“She will not wear that dress or her hair up all the time,” replied Elenath with a grin. “I dressed like that on my coming of age, and I do not wear such gowns all the time, do I?”

Legolas looked at his sister speculatively, as if he had never considered such a thing. “I guess you are an adult,” he conceded.

“I begin to understand why Emlin wanted to pound you over the head this morning, bratling.”

Legolas grinned, but was soon distracted by the arrival of the meal.   Lathron laid a restraining hand on his arm while Thranduil spoke a blessing over the feast, the guests and Tinánia, then Legolas dived into the food.

“He is about to grow,” predicted Thranduil as he sat down. “Let him eat as much as he wants.  Perhaps by morning all his tunics and leggings will be too short.”

Legolas flashed his father a smile between bites but did not quit eating.

When the meal had ended, Urithral and Ethiwen stood.

“As is customary, our daughter has chosen the craft which she will pursue to serve our people.  As you may suspect, Tinánia has chosen to follow in her naneth’s footsteps,” announced Urithral.  At his side, Ethiwen bowed slightly, for she was well known among those present as one of the few females trained as a warrior, and one who trained younger elves in their novice years. “Tinánia has already served in the novice program, but will enter warrior training after the summer solstice.”

When Urithral finished speaking, Ethiwen stepped from his side and joined a group of females who had come to stand before them.  Elenath had risen and joined them, causing Legolas to sit up and watch in wonder. With her were Meren and Elunell. Bregolas also rose and went forward, as did Rawien. The females flanked Tinánia as they stood before their commander and captain.

“Tinánia, on this day we welcome you as a novice warrior. Your skill precedes you,” said Bregolas, pausing as many laughed, including Tinánia, who recalled the day she had shot the prince, “and there is no doubt among any here that you will be a worthy defender of the Woodland Realm.  Few females serve in this role, and we would all wish that none ever had need to take up arms in defense of their homes.  Yet the tide of times has brought danger to our woods ever and anon, and our females have risen to defend home and family.  We are proud to train you and will be proud to fight next to you.”

Rawien stepped forward as captain of the troops to welcome her and present her with a pin meant to be worn on her tunic collar to signify she was a warrior in training.

There was much cheering and applause from the audience, for most of the warriors knew Tinánia already.  The female warriors returned to their seats, and her father rose again for the final ceremony.  Tinánia turned and faced him.

“My daughter, you are now an adult in the eyes of our people.  You are of age to court and be courted, to bond and to bear children, if you desire.  You may become part of the House of your future husband, but you will always be our daughter and a daughter of my House.”

Urithral took her face in his hands and kissed her brow. After a moment, he turned to the audience.  “I present to you Tinánia, now an adult of the Woodland Realm.” He paused and looked over the audience, for the next words were the favourite of no father to say. “My daughter is now of the age where she may accept suitors.  Though,” he said, his voice turning stern and foreboding, “they still must obtain my permission.”

Tinánia laughed, for all knew her father to be the intimidating counsellor of the king, yet all knew he would deny his daughter nothing.

A brief silence was allowed to descend, for traditionally this time had been used for childhood sweethearts to announce their desire to court formally.  With fewer and fewer children born in the realm, it was rare now for this to happen. A brief silence was allowed, then the festivities resumed.

Lathron stood.

At first, none seemed to notice him.  Perhaps they thought he was merely excusing himself.  But he walked purposefully to the main table and stood before Tinánia and her father.  The swell of sound that had been growing faded, until even the trees seemed hold their breath.  He bowed before Urithral, his fellow counsellor and the one who had helped to train him in his duties to his father.

“Urithral and Ethiwen, I humbly request your permission to court Tinánia, if she so agrees,” he said simply, then bowed again.

When he looked up he looked into eyes shining with delight and love.  He bared his heart before her, allowing her to see and sense the depth of his love for her, and experienced her love in the same way when she opened her heart to him in return.

“Tinánia, do you wish to accept Lathron Thranduilion as your suitor?” asked Urithral.

Before she could speak, Lathron held out his hand to her.  She took it, and felt what he offered.   She reached out her other hand and took his, and his breath caught in shock and delight when he felt what she held there.

“No, Adar,” replied Tinánia firmly.

The audience gasped.  From the corner of his eye, Lathron saw his father and brother rise. Behind Tinánia, her parents appeared shocked and her father colored in anger and embarrassment.

Lathron dropped to one knee.

“If you will not accept my courtship, will you accept my ring and my pledge to bond with you for so long as Arda exists?”

Tinánia held out her hand, and Lathron slipped the ring on to her finger.   She drew him to his feet and took his hand in hers. “I accept your ring and your pledge, and plight my troth with you on this day, before these witnesses.” She slipped her ring on to his finger and then they turned to face her parents.

Lathron heard his father approach and stand behind him.

“Who gives permission for this elf to troth-plight with my daughter?” asked Urithral formally, though his voice shook.

“I do,” replied Thranduil, his voice strong.  He placed one hand on Lathron’s shoulder and the other on Tinánia’s.  “Is this union acceptable to Tinánia’s parents?”

“It is,” replied Urithral and Ethiwen together.

“Since they are both of age and the consent of both houses has been heard, Lathron Thranduilion and Tinánia Urithriel are declared troth-plighted!”

A cheer went up and the minstrels began to play, but Lathron barely noticed.  He hardly dared believe that Tinánia had come to her own ceremony so prepared.  He smiled at the sudden thought that the only one who knew this might happen on this day was the jewelsmith who had made both rings! 

They still held hands. He stepped closer to her.  Her eyes were bright and her cheeks flushed, and she had never looked so desirable to him.  He had loved her for years, yet never dared speak of it, for she was not of age.  To learn that his instincts had been correct, that she loved him as well, caused his heart to nearly burst and spill over.

He put his arms around her and felt her tentatively place her hands on his waist.  “I love you, Tinánia,” he whispered, then lowered his mouth to hers.

The kiss was brief and appropriate given the audience, yet Lathron found her grip on him tightening as a shock ran through him.  Their minds touched, and they pulled apart in awe. They turned to face the crowd a moment later, and bowed and nodded to the shouts of joy and good wishes that floated to them.

The minstrels began to play again, and the tables were cleared from the green so that the dancing could begin.  Lathron held Tinánia’s hand as their parents surrounded them.

“Did you two plan this?” asked Ethiwen as she hugged her daughter.

“No, Naneth,” replied Tinánia.  She looked at Lathron boldly. “We have never spoken of our feelings for one another.”

“Well, my son, I might have expected this from one of your siblings, but not from you,” said Thranduil. “Yet I could not be happier.” He embraced Tinánia and kissed her brow.  “I have long thought of you as a daughter of my house, and now you shall become one. Welcome, Tinánia.”

“I have considered Lathron as a brother for these many years we have served together,” said Urithral. He grinned. “I shall easily change that sentiment to son and enjoy the benefits of that relationship.”

“Lathron, you kissed her!”

Lathron and Tinánia turned to face the voice of outrage.  Legolas stood with his hands on his hips, glaring at them.   They both squatted down to his level, and Lathron held out his arm to pull Legolas to them. “I did, Legolas, and I must say I enjoyed it.” He studied Legolas carefully. “Do you understand what we have done?

Legolas scowled, but did not answer.

“Tinánia and I shall marry, just like Rawien and Tathiel did, and like Elenath and Gaelim intend. Tinánia will be your sister then.”

Legolas pondered this for a long moment, then turned to Tinánia. “I thought you were going to marry me.”

“I think Emlin might be terribly jealous if I did that,” she answered.

Tinánia had seen Emlin coming towards them, her parents walking behind her, and Emlin ran up to Legolas and grabbed him around the middle and hung on. “I have you!” she cried.

Legolas twisted until he could pick up Emlin.  “Are you going to come dance with me?” he asked, twirling her around.

“Yes! Nana, may I?” squealed Emlin.

At Tathiel’s nod, the two elflings raced out on to the green to join the other dancers.

“Well, that went over better than I could have hoped,” said Lathron. He turned to Tinánia. “He adores you, you know.”

She was standing so close to him that he could feel the beat of her heart. She pressed against his side, making his heart beat faster, and whispered in his ear, “Yes, but I adore you.”

“You two have none to blame but yourselves,” said Thranduil as he stepped between them.  “You chose to plight your troth at Tinánia’s coming of age ceremony, when as guest of honor, she must stay and entertain guests and dance.” He smiled knowingly. “I know you wish nothing more than to go off together and talk about all that you have always thought but never said to each other.  Stay until sunset; then you may go.”

“Adar, may I chaperone, please?” asked Bregolas, winking.

“No,” interrupted Urithral. He grinned. “I’ve always wanted to tell you ‘no.’ I think we parents can handle the role of chaperone.  I agree – stay until sunset, which is not far off now.  Then you may go to the garden.”

Lathron smiled as he led Tinánia on to the green to dance.  “Have you noticed that now that we are adults, they insist on treating us like children?”

She laughed as they spun into the music, and with his perfect recall, his mind took a portrait of her at that moment.  Tinánia, his betrothed.  Soon she would be Tinánia, his wife.

The End

A/N: These characters are from my Greenwood world.  A quick summary:

  • Bregolas, Lathron, Elumeril and Elenath are Legolas’s older siblings. Legolas is about 14 elf years old in this story
  • Tinánia and Eärundra are sisters, children of Urithral and Ethiwen.  The children were lost with Legolas in ‘May the Valar Protect Them.’
  • Emlin is the daughter of Tathiel and Rawien . She is about 4 years old in this story.
  • Ethiwen, Elunell, and Meren were the three female warriors who were part of the rescue party that found Tathiel and the children.
  • Gaelim is the warrior that Elenath loves and exchanged rings with in ‘Hunting.’

Tithen muindor = little brother

Ada/adar = daddy/father

Nana/naneth = mum/mother

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