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A Matter of Heart  by daw the minstrel 28 Review(s)
LeraReviewed Chapter: 2 on 12/12/2004
Oh, I am loving this! I am so glad you are digging into Alfirin's character, because she is such a wonderful one and I was afraid she was getting trampled underneath Celuwen. Now I am getting new insight on just about everything in the Thranduilion home through her eyes and it is most enjoyable. Will look forward to reading more as always!

Author Reply: As I read your review, I started thinking about what an interesting technique point of view is, even for an author. There's something about writing from the POV of a specific character that really brings them home to you. Alfirin came alive for me too, as I wrote about her fussing with her hair and drooling over Ithilden's thigh muscles. :-)

emjoReviewed Chapter: 2 on 12/12/2004
I loved every minute! Iloved how you showed how much older Ithilden is. For some reason I find the age differences fasinating. I would like your pictures! Hurry with the next chapter!

Author Reply: I emailed the pictures to you. Hope you like them!

It's intriguing to think about ages with Elves. There such a wide variation. So what happens if you're 300 and someone else is 3000? Are you both adults? You come of age at 50, Tolkien says, although you may not reach your adult form until you're 100 (he also says). But you live in a House headed by your father. So what does that mean for adult responsibility and independence? It's all fun to think about.

DotReviewed Chapter: 2 on 12/12/2004
Ooh, lovely! I enjoyed every second of this. Apart from Ithilden’s thoughtless comment, which had me smacking my head off the table.

I’ve always liked Alfirin but I think that I was taking her a little for granted, just as I unquestioningly accepted the way the palace was run so it’s wonderful to have this opportunity to not only get further insight into her character but through her to see Thranduil’s home as though for the first time.

The little scene with Alfirin trying to choose a dress made me smile. There’s something so very normal about it. I was hoping she’d wear the green one and not give into the temptation to try to fit in. But then, I’m the one who just spent about an hour trying to decide what would be appropriate attire for my work Christmas party later in the week…

For some reason I really loved the line “But they both watch Ithilden, and I think it makes him nervous.” I suppose it’s because she isn’t thinking about what her family will do or say or think, or even so much what Ithilden will think but rather how he’ll feel and from the way she says it, it sounds as though she’s noticed this before and is learning to read his emotions even when he doesn’t say anything.

Gwaleniel is so funny. She clearly knows exactly what will make the right impression on Ithilden. And Alfirin sounds really pretty by the end of her ministrations. I liked her little speech. Actually, I seem to remember Thranduil thinking that Alfirin was lucky to have his son when he first tried to court her! Tsk. Parents… They’re all the same.

I was so happy for Tonduil to have his moment with Ithilden! And if Ithilden is taking such an interest in her family, Alfirin can be sure he’s serious about her. “Suddenly she realized she was watching the flex of muscle in Ithilden’s thigh as his leggings tightened across it when he crouched.” Mmmm… Eh? Oh, yeah, I was writing a review… It’s actually really sweet, though, to see the obvious physical attraction she feels for him. That’s important too! Warm from hurrying, my hat.

“It was the frankest comment she had ever heard Ithilden make about a member of his family.” Well, that certainly says a lot. Ithilden definitely isn’t in the habit of chatting about his family so openly. I really like how in tune she is with him already. She’s copped on to the fact that’s something’s up with Legolas and seems touched by the fact that Ithilden is concerned but she still has enough sense to know not to say anything. I don’t think Ithilden would be a particularly easy person to read because, like Thranduil, he doesn’t wear his emotions openly but she seems to be doing quite a good job.

I felt so bad for her when Ithilden was called away. Imagine getting as far as the front door and then having to meet the family without him there. Ah well, I guess it’s better that she know now that this kind of thing happens. I was fascinated at the way all the different questions popped into her head – about Ithilden’s clothes, the guards, the shopping list, the meals, etc. They’re all things that I’ve vaguely wondered about now and then but it’s such a great reminder of how very different his lifestyle is than hers. I mean, we’ve seen Legolas, for example, think about how different some things are in his friends’ cottages but it’s really interesting to see it the other way around. I was enthralled by the description of the family quarters. It was wonderfully detailed. Whatever I had been imagining definitely didn’t include tapestries and patterned carpets. But now I know!

That Alfirin was running her family’s household for so long makes perfect sense. She’s overwhelmed now by what it must take to run the king’s household but I can really see the basis of the competency with which she will eventually run it.

“Your weaving looks most elegant in the council chamber, mistress. You should ask Lord Ithilden to take you to see it before you leave.” Oh, that was nice of him. It must be good for her to know that her work is so appreciated. Of course, if Alfirin married Ithilden, Nyndir’d have a lot less work to do!

A brooding Legolas isn’t a good sign. Poor thing. Despite everyone’s concern he must be feeling rather alone right now.

Thranduil put on a wonderful display. Checking Legolas’ drink, being gentle with him when he seems troubled and even chuckling at the servants can leave Alfirin with no doubt that the king is also just a father and beneath the differences in lifestyle this is just a family. She’s already noticed that the room needs more of a female touch but what she needs is to realise that the males need some looking-after from time to time and then she’ll be totally undone!

LOL at the two servants. That was hilarious. They’re lucky they caught Thranduil on a good day! It was so good to see Legolas laughing so hard. I get the impression that Thranduil was just as pleased to see Legolas laugh and amused at Ithilden’s mortification as entertained by the servants. And then, “Has he no command over his wife?” *cringe* I’m going to excuse him, though, because I’d say that was really more a thoughtless reaction to what he felt was an embarrassing situation than anything else. Thranduil nearly choking on his wine still has me laughing. Was he hoping she’d say something?? That would have been worth seeing! But she has no intention of embarrassing herself or Ithilden and surely even Thranduil realises that at this early stage she can’t appear too feisty! Wait ‘til Celuwen for that…

He played his harp for her! *dances with glee* I bet she has no idea how seldom he does that. And Thranduil likes her! That was probably a kiss more than any of Eilian’s girlfriends ever got from Thranduil.

I got completely lost in the moment when he was walking her home. The little touches that hold a new sense of intimacy, the lingering looks… So romantic. All that was missing was a kiss. It’s almost frustrating to see her self-doubt but I can totally understand how intimidating it must be to her to think of life “as the wife of the king’s heir and troop commander”. You know, Eilian’s relationship with Celuwen felt special because he’d been friendly with so many other maidens but she was the one he loved but Alfirin and Ithilden’s relationship feels special because neither seem the type who would have had much experience as younglings with the opposite sex, so now as adults this has a lot of meaning for both of them. That they’re both doubting themselves and their worthiness of the other person speaks volumes of their feelings. And while they’re trying to figure out where to go from here all the amused parents will have to wait patiently. But finally, progress is being made!!

A truly great chapter, daw. I love this story! :-)

Author Reply: I've never written anything sustained from Alfirin's POV before, and I also learned from doing it. I had to think about what she was stepping into, and even the appearance of the palace had to be more explicit for me. Thranduil's family just takes it for granted but I knew she wouldn't.

That's a very nice observation about how she's thinking about Ithilden's feelings already. He's probably not easy to read, as you say, but she seems to be able to do it. I think that that and even her physical attraction to him are signs of her growing love for him. I think that in Elves all those things are connected more tightly than they are for men.

I'd forgotten that thought of Thranduil's, that if the maiden didn't appreciate Ithilden, then she was a fool. :-)

I wanted the contrast between her life and his to be very obvious because at this moment, she has a big decision to make. She'll be taking on a lot if she decides to love him, and this chapter was meant to make all that obvious. And I mean not only life in the palace, but also Ithilden's personality, his rather dominant temperament. She's going to need to confront that.

Ithilden was embarrassed by the servants because she was there. And Thranduil only just stopped himself from telling Legolas that he'd probably had enough wine already because he was, indeed, happy to see Legolas laughing. And Thranduil did want Alfirin to react. He can see what Ithilden is like! Time will tell, though, Thranduil.

Ithilden wanted to kiss her but she had just had enough for one night. Maybe tomorrow!

perellethReviewed Chapter: 2 on 12/12/2004
Oh well.. EE ROTK goes before everything, we'll understand if it takes longer to you to update (In Europe it's been available since last I'm already updated on that front..);-) Anyway, let's hope Ithilden fares better in his next try... Are you planning any "emergency training" for him on the subject or do you intend to simply let him stumble around again and again ? (that can also be a winning strategy, I speak from experience!!!) :-)

Author Reply: I think Ithilden will mostly fend for himself, but Thranduil may have to step in if he doesn't want to have to depend on some sort of miracle to provide him with grandchildren.

elliskaReviewed Chapter: 2 on 12/12/2004
Oh this is priceless!

I am going to try to write an organized review but I am just hopping over this one so I'm not sure I can.

Ok--Alfirin getting ready for the big event: That was very well done. I like seeing the elves doing what eveyone else does sometimes. There are some things that are going to be common to absolutely every species and I can't help but think fussing over preparing for Big Events is one of them. I love the physical description here. I knew Alfirin was dark haired but I didn't know she had curls. Lovely. And I love her mum convincing her to leave her hair loose. I bet Ithilden liked it too. Ok, can I ask a really stupid question? It occurred to me that I don't know what color Ithilden's hair is. Why I should care, I don't know, but now I'm curious.

Alfirin meeting Ithilden in the yard: Too cute. Yeah, I totally had a fangirl moment right along with Alfirin. And their little 'I apologize, No I do' moment was too realistic!

Walking into the palace: My undergrad degree was in russian lit. There was a genre of lit in russian known as ostrenenie (I can spell it in cyrillic--not sure how to transliterate it but anyhow...). In that type of lit, the point is to present something common from the POV of someone unfamiliar with it. It's great and this was a wonderful example of it. All the details--Ithilden finally saying something 'frank' about The Family, not reacting to the guards, taking travel to Imladris so matter-of-factly. And then her reactions to everything as she goes with the steward to the sitting room. Love her reaction to the list--get into it sweetheart, it's your future. And looking around at the halls. Loved it.

In the sitting room: Legolas and Thranduil are just such a family here. It has to be comforting to Alfirin to see that. Legolas is such a dear little host. He's at an age where he knows what to do but it's still too cute to see him do it. And I love Thranduil's 'my dear.' It says a lot in itself.

The dinner scene: I'm with Legolas. ROTFL! Oh Daw! How do you do this to poor Ithilden. "Has he no command over his wife." Thranduil is lucky he didn't choke to death on his wine after hearing his son say that. I'd love to know what he was thinking. I hope ada says something to his lost little son later that night. But the servants were great and their parting line was hilarious.

The departure: I loved Thranduil's farewell to her. I think Alfirin would need such things. It's hard enough to meet The Parents. Think about if the parents in question were the king and queen! She needs to know that she is accepted and that there is a family behind the Royal Presence. Thranduil's actions show that he is 'human' (obviously, for lack of a better word). I loved Ithilden taking her to see the tapestry. But I just adored her realization that he was serious and she was scared. Too realistic after such a night (it went well, of course, especially for them, but still it would be hard on you to dine with royalty when you weren't part of such a line). Poor Ithilden wanted to kiss her and she just bolted. Too much in one night. I bet she regretted that later! You had better show us that first kiss. I love how nervous and uncertain she was but she could not refuse him the promise of a walk the next night.

Those two are too cute. You did a great job with this chapter. I loved it. I know you can't possibly get another chapter up before I leave so I am going to go mad. I almost didn't read this because I knew it would only make me crave more. Oh well, when I get home, I'll have this to read and the EE to watch. Looking forward to that.

Author Reply: I read somewhere that Elves were particularly taken with pretty hair. Ithilden is dark haired. I emailed you pictures of the actors that I think about when I write about my characters. (If anyone else reading this wants them too, I'll be happy to send them. You can send me email by clicking on my name on my author page.)

This is the first time I've written anything sustained from Alfirin's POV and it was interesting to do. It made me do just what you said -- look at familiar things from the POV of someone not familiar with them. I had never pictured that hallway so clearly, for instance. And I did want her to be experiencing a contrast between what she's used to and what Ithilden is used to. She's a little daunted. We'll see how brave she can be. ;-)

I thought that Legolas would be enough the king's son that he'd know how to be a host, even if he is a little unaccustomed to it. And I'm sure he knew that Thranduil would be checking his glass of wine!

I think that Thranduil was wondering if he was ever going to be a grandparent with his idiot of an oldest son talking about commanding his wife as if she was a novice! LOL

And yes, she panicked. She wants him. She just needs to get her courage up. Have a good time while you're away.

meckinockReviewed Chapter: 2 on 12/12/2004
It was brilliant to use Alfirin's POV for the entire chapter. I especially enjoyed Ithilden's thigh muscles, although the palace wasn't bad, either. Alfirin sure doesn't miss anything; she just seems to be a compulsive orderer of things. And what a messed up household. Somewhere Lorellin is begging the Valar to push this courtship along fast, before the serving staff start throwing dishes. Legolas was cute trying to play host to Alfirin - watering his wine, sweet boy. He knows ada's going to check. Poor Thranduil, he must have just wanted to put his face in his soup after Ithilden's boneheaded comment. Well, Alfirin has a lot to think about; but I'm not sure thinking is going to have much to do with it in the end. That's how it usually goes. Can't wait to see what happens next time Ithilden says something stupid and she's had time to prepare, though.

Author Reply: I rather enjoyed Ithilden's thigh muscles myself. ;-)

I've never written anything sustained from Alfirin's POV before and it was interesting to do. It made me look at things in the palace from an outsider's POV. I'd never imagined that hallway before, for instance. I think the steward does a reasonably good job, but he's not there all the time and it's just not the same as having one of the royal family in charge. I think it would be like running a business actually. There'd be hiring and firing and all kinds of personnel stuff to tend to.

Thranduil would be amused if he didn't fear that he's never going to have grandchildren.

And no, thinking is not what's going to win out in the end. She's hot for him!

esamenReviewed Chapter: 2 on 12/12/2004
. . . AND I forgot to say that Legolas did a darling job of hosing his guest, and that the serving couple were hilarious . . .

. . . AND poor Ithilden, trying to initiate a little kiss! You are positively mean to that sweet man. Now, I expect to be on the scene for the first serious smooch. You've got a pretty good track record on things like that.

Author Reply: LOL. Legolas was a good son of Thranduil in hosting Alfirin. He even watered his own wine, just as he should have.

As for the first serious smooch, it's in my notes! ;-)

BrazgirlReviewed Chapter: 2 on 12/12/2004
Several people of Royal Mirkwood Home are asking you to write a fic about Eilian and Ithilden's childhoods. I agree with them! It doesn't matter there will be no Legolas! There will be Thranduil there...
On the chapter: poor Alfirin... she is really confused. No wonder! She saw that belonging to the royal family is more than bond with Thranduil's heir... I hope she wakes up and thinks she is able...
I loved when Thranduil checked Legolas' glass!!!

Author Reply: I think those childhood fics are a good idea. I don't know when I'll do them, but sometime. Why not?

Alfirin is a smart girl. She sees what she's getting into and she knows that once she bonds with Ithilden, it's forever. So she's taking her time and making sure she's up to it, even though she does like looking at his body!

Thranduil knows what adolescent sons are like with wine and he keeps close tabs! Smart Ada.

Alison HReviewed Chapter: 2 on 12/12/2004
I really, really enjoyed this chapter,Daw.The nervousness that Alfirin felt when geting ready for Ithilden was captured so well--I was nervous for her! I have to commend you on your original characters for they all seem so real and they all have their virtues to be admired, their flaws that make them realistic---I am really impressed.

I do worry for Legolas in all this.He badly needs someone to talk to but he just doesn't realise it yet.I feel for Thranduil and Ithilden who only want to help him but I think, maybe, that Alfirin will somehow break through his grief.I hope so because I like her so much.Ithilden will be lucky to have her in years to come.I love your stories I can't wait for the next chapter.

Author Reply: I'm glad you liked it, Alison. I like writing about basically good but flawed characters. I think that's how most of us see ourselves, and so it feels realistic to me too. I know I have a lot of OCs. I pity readers who look at these stories for the first time because I know they have a lot to remember if they're going to choose to keep reading.

Legolas does need to talk to someone he trusts. We'll see how that comes about. :-)

esamenReviewed Chapter: 2 on 12/12/2004
Oh, thank you. This just keeps getting better. I really like this tale of Alfirin. So many women must deal with these exact same feelings, and are called to this exact same challenge in life. I am so identifying with her! This is the story she deserves.

And Ithilden is so gorgeous in his green leggings with gold embroidery. Sigh.

What a fine job of describing the inside of the palace! I never could get a real grip on that. This helps me quite a bit.

Please hurry and update again. I can't wait to read the next chapter. I MEAN that. Happy holiday typing,


Author Reply: It's been interesting to think about Alfirin joining the king's household and how that would have looked to her. I can see now how much of a challenge it must have been. Ithilden is gorgeous but he's a little full of himself. She'll need to be brave enough to make her voice heard too.

This was also the first time I've thought about what that hallway looked like. But because she comes into it as a stranger, I had to really picture it myself too.

I'm glad you liked it, Esamen. I have to work early this week and then the EE of ROTK comes out, but a new chapter will be along eventually. :-)

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