Not In This World
12. Life Is What We Make It
"Roselinde?" His voice was soft and his breath tickled her ear. She squirmed a bit, but a smile was on her face. They had fallen asleep after making love, but apparently Celeborn had something else on his mind.
"Hmmm?" There was a long pause after she answered him. Opening her eyes, she moved around so she could see him.
"Will you marry me?"
"Of course I will!" He breathed a sigh of relief and she laughed. "You didn't think I would refuse you, did you?"
"No, but I wanted to ask you, and I was nervous. Are not all men nervous when they propose to the women they love?"
"I suppose so, but then, I've never been proposed to, so I wouldn't know." Celeborn smiled and kissed her tenderly as his hand settled on her ever-growing belly. When the kiss ended, his eyes wandered down her naked form. "I love you."
"And I love you," she replied. Then, she giggled. "Now, can we go back to sleep?"
"Are you truly tired?"
She wasn't, and they didn't go back to sleep until after the sun came up.
For a few moments, she worried about not being able to wear the golden band he would be giving her during the ceremony. But Celeborn had already planned ahead, buying a thin golden necklace so when her fingers got too swollen for the ring, she could still wear it around her neck. As for now, though, she could still wear it and couldn't wait for him to slip in on her finger. The ceremony was scheduled to take place before they embarked their ship. It would be a small ceremony, too. Thranduil and his son Legolas would be attending, as well as Vaniel and Sabron. Elrond and Celebrian were coming with their sons Elladan and Elrohir. Lady Este would be officiating the ceremony, and Lady Varda and Lord Manwe would be present as well. Small and simple, Roselinde thought it would be absolutely perfect. Besides, the small mariner's shrine could only hold so many people at once. With their friends and the Valar all in one place, there would be absolutely no room for anyone else.
Which they planned by design, of course. There was no way in hell they'd allow Galadriel the chance to worm her way in.
The only problem she had was that her parents and Eden would not be there to see her marry the man she loved. Eden, of course, knew they would get married even before they knew it themselves. Dearest Eden; Roselinde wished her best friend could be there for her when she had the baby, too. Unfortunately, her decision to stay here was what kept them away, and though she was sad about it, she didn't regret it at all.
Sighing, she looked out at her flower garden, which she would have to leave behind. Some of the seedlings were already planted in the garden of their new home on the island. It was the first thing she wanted to do after they purchased it. There would be lilacs growing soon, and the flowers should be flourishing by the time the baby came. Not only lilacs, but there were also a few pink rose bushes, lilies, as well as a few bunches of hibiscus and other island flowers. Celeborn helped her plant them, reciting a prayer to Yavanna for her blessing in helping their garden grow. He taught it to her so that she could recite it later on and she would, in turn, teach it to their child.
The bedroom door opened, and Roselinde turned to see Celeborn come in with a smile on his face.
"All is ready, beloved," he told her. Taking a few steps, he stopped in front of her and kissed her, laying his hands gently on their child. It was a habit of his, which she loved. "A carriage will be here shortly to take us down to the inn."
"Good. As much as I love this house, I can't wait to finally settle into our new home."
"Personally, I cannot wait until we are married."
"Neither can I."
Celeborn kissed her again, but as he did, he felt a strange movement come from within Roselinde's belly. A strange expression came over her face for a brief moment before passing. She put her hand over one of his and moved it, and it happened again. His lips curved into an astonished smile when he looked into her eyes.
"He's kicking," Roselinde murmured.
"Indeed she is," he replied, kissing her again. "I think our child is telling us that she cannot wait either."
"Well, he'll have to until tomorrow." The babe kicked again and they laughed, enjoying the moment.
A little while later, the carriage arrived and Celeborn gathered up their bags and followed Roselinde out of the house. They turned to take one last look at it before climbing in the back and settling down. It would be an hour's trip by carriage, so Roselinde snuggled under Celeborn's arm. She was lulled to sleep by the sound of his heartbeat and the gentle rocking of the carriage.
When they arrived, Celeborn didn't have the heart to wake her. With the help of the driver, he carried her out and into the inn, and a boy came out to help carry their bags. The noise of the common room didn't faze Roselinde from her sleep, which he was thankful for, and the innkeeper led them upstairs and into their room. The door closed with a soft click, and he put Roselinde in the bed before going back to turn the lock. Moonlight shone down on her from the open window and a breeze played lightly with her red hair. She was more beautiful than anything he'd ever seen, and she loved him with all her heart. As he got into the bed beside her, trying not to wake her up, Celeborn once again thanked the Valar for bringing Roselinde into his life.
Just before noon the next day, the wedding party made its way down to the mariner's shrine. That is, all of them except for Celeborn and Thranduil, who were already there and waiting for them. All were dressed in pale shades of green, blue, and yellow, and the ladies all wore tiny flowers and ribbons in their hair. Roselinde wore a gown of cream-colored silk, embroidered with gold leaves. It was a simple gown, nothing too extravagant, and it flowed around her body with her movements. A brief chat with Celebrian as they walked allowed her to find out about a good seamstress on the island that had more gowns available for reasonable prices. Roselinde made a note to find the shop when she was able to.
When they neared the shrine, the progress slowed down to a statelier pace. Elrond and Celebrian entered first, followed by their sons. Vaniel and Sabron went in next, and last to enter the shrine was Roselinde and Legolas, who would be her escort in place of her father. There was no mistaking the resemblance between father and son, except that Legolas' eyes were a bright blue compared to his father's earthy brown eyes. His manner was even similar to his father's, but Legolas was perhaps a bit more cheerful.
The shrine was small, star-shaped, and smelled dusty and brackish. In each recess of the star's rays, all manner of tokens were left as offerings to Ulmo, Lord of the Waters, for a safe journey at sea. Legolas walked her up to stand next to Celeborn, who stood in front of the recess of the ray pointed toward Eressea. He congratulated them both with a cheerful smile, and then took his place among their other friends. Thranduil stood behind Celeborn and Vaniel was behind Roselinde. In each of their hands, they held the simple gold wedding bands that they would exchange during the ceremony. Celeborn took Roselinde's free hand, brought it to his lips and kissed the palm. They were ready to be wed. All they could do now was wait for the Valar to arrive.
It wasn't too long of a wait. They knew by the ethereal singing, in a language none of them understood, heralded the arrival of Lord Manwe, Lady Varda, and Lady Este. A gentle, yet bright, light filled the shrine and when it faded, Este stood before Celeborn and Roselinde. Manwe and Varda took places equidistant to Este, forming a perfect triangle. Lady Este was smiling broadly as she looked at Celeborn and Roselinde.
"Shall we begin?" she asked them kindly.
"Yes, please!" Roselinde answered and laughter filled the shrine.
"Then let us proceed." The Vala took their joined hands in both of hers and started the ceremony. "Celeborn and Roselinde, you stand before this company, seeking to become one with each other. You have entered into this union with open eyes and full hearts. If either of you, or anyone present here today, know of any reason why these vows should not be made, speak now." Complete silence stretched for the longest minute Roselinde had ever known, and then Este continued. "You are aware of the reality of the vows you are about to speak to one another and of the responsibility that comes when a partnership is created?"
"We are," they spoke in unison, neither of them taking their eyes off the other. Este then turned her attention to those gathered.
"Will all of you, present here and witnessing these vows, assist and support Celeborn and Roselinde in their union?"
"We will," they all promised.
"Then at this time, we would hear your vows to each other."
Roselinde looked up into Celeborn's eyes and saw all the love and joy he felt for her in their blue depths, and she knew he saw the same in hers. For the last few weeks, they worked on their vows. First separately, wanting to surprise each other with a beautifully constructed promise to love and to cherish forever. Then, when nothing seemed to sound right, they began working together, and they found the words they wanted to say as they shared their hearts. They knew each line by heart, and taking a deep breath, Roselinde started to recite:
"Beloved, now do I make my promises to you." Then Celeborn joined her, "I promise to share laughter in times of joy and wonder; to share tears when sorrow touches our lives; to share my dreams and hopes, that our love and minds may grow; to share compassion and understanding during times of frustration and anger; to share all that I have, and all that I am, now and forever."
A collective sigh passed between them, and everyone else in the shrine. Roselinde even heard a few sniffles coming from behind her and she spared a quick glance to see Vaniel wiping tears away with a handkerchief. Scanning the room, she noticed that Celebrian also wiped at her eyes and Elrond wrapped his arm around her. Legolas looked a little wistful, and the twins were smiling grandly. For a few moments, she wondered why she wasn't crying. She always cried at weddings, even if she barely knew the bridal pair, and always assumed she'd cry at her own wedding. But then she realised that she was too happy to cry. This was the best thing to ever happen in her life, and she was exceedingly happy. And when she returned her gaze to Celeborn's she knew he felt the same way.
"Do you have the rings?" Este asked, holding out her hands to accept each band as they handed them to her. "By Air, by Fire, by Water, and by Earth do I bless and consecrate these rings." The Vala handed them back. "By the exchange of these tokens of your love for one another, so are your lives interlaced. What one experiences, so shall the other; as honesty and love build, so will your bond strengthen and grow."
Celeborn slipped the golden band onto Roselinde's finger, the third one on her left hand. They agreed to do this in tribute to the customs of where she came from. Instead of wearing the golden band on the right index finger, they broke tradition, and would wear theirs on the third finger of their left hands. When Roselinde slipped the ring she gave him on his finger, it somehow felt so right to do it this way. His vision blurred a bit as he kissed the ring she wore, but he blinked the tears away.
"By the Winds that bring change, by the Fire of love, by the Seas of fortune and the strength of the Earth do I bless this union. In the sight of Manwe, Varda, and I, you are now husband and wife!" Cheers and applause erupted from theirs friends. "You may now kiss your bride," Este murmured to Celeborn. Not one to be told twice, he bent to kiss his Roselinde, his wife, so passionately that even Este had to avert her eyes.
"Save that for when you get into your new home!" Thranduil exclaimed, clapping Celeborn on the shoulder, effectively ending their kiss. More laughter filled the shire as the newly married pair were surrounded and congratulated.
Bells rang out from the harbor, and everyone filed out of the shrine. It was time to embark their ship, and sail to Eressea, there to begin their new life together. Meldis awaited them onboard, and Vaniel fetched her bag from Sabron, who surprised everyone by kissing her right then and there. Roselinde laughed and looked up at her husband.
"It seems that Sabron is going to give up his solitary ways after all," she quipped, remembering his statement from a few months ago.
"Indeed it does," Celeborn replied, bestowing a kiss on her head. "And about time, too."
Vaniel joined them, flushed and slightly dazed a few minutes later, and they said their goodbyes to everyone. Assurances were given that they would all be together again before the baby arrived. Walking up the gangplank, they took their places at the railing and waved as the ship slipped away from its berth and slowly made its way out to sea.
The trip was long and hot below decks, so Roselinde spent most of her time near the bow. The day was brilliant with little white clouds dotting the sapphire sky. There was a salt taste to the wind as it blew past her, but she didn't care. It was better than being in the hot, stagnant air of the cabin they'd been given. Besides, the motion of the ship didn't have the same effect on her as the last time they came out. Her stomach roiled and it was all Roselinde could do to keep from losing her breakfast over the side. Holding a wafer of lembas, she contemplated eating a bite, as Meldis suggested, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. At least she could hold her water down.
Looking over to the right, Meldis sat silently, keeping an eye on both her needlework and her. Their midwife was the calmest being she ever met. Nothing ruffled Meldis' feathers, even in the most stressful situations. A whale could hit the side of the boat and Meldis would hardly bat an eyelash at it. Roselinde smiled, silently thanking Lady Este for introducing them to her. Without warning, another wave of nausea passed through her, and Roselinde gripped the railing and let out a slight moan. She felt horrible, she was in no doubt she looked horrible, and the ship lurched a bit which forced her to finally lose the battle against herself as she emptied the contents of her stomach overboard.
"Here, my lady." Meldis handed her a damp cloth to wipe her mouth and applied another to her forehead. "I was beginning to wonder when you would do this."
"You were waiting for it?"
"Yes. Since we entered open sea, you have had a slight greenish cast to your features and I could tell when you fought the nausea."
"Please don't make me go down below," Roselinde pleaded. "This is the only place I can keep cool."
"I know. Take a drink of water, my lady. By the look of your face, you should not be sick again."
"Tell that to my stomach," she replied with a hint of sarcasm. Meldis laughed and returned to her seat to keep her vigil.
True to her word, though, after an hour Roselinde did feel much better. She was able to eat a few bites of the lembas she had, and her stomach was resting easy. The baby had been lulled to sleep by the ship's gentle rocking, and she laid a hand on her beautifully rounded belly to caress her child. From her memory, she hummed the lullabies she knew, especially one she learned from Eden after the birth of her newest niece. Thinking of her best friend brought tears to her eyes, knowing full well that Eden would be beside herself with joy with the coming of this baby. There were days when her best friend's face would be fixed with a smile, and in wistful tones would speak of children.
"Yours or mine?" Roz asked with a side-long glance at a wistful Eden, and shooting a look of long-suffering at Jessica.
"Yours, of course!" Eden exclaimed. "Jess and I will be the doting aunts and spoil your kids rotten, too."
"Eden, I hate to burst your bubble, but I'm not going to have any children. Not anytime soon. Perhaps not in this life." Eden looked directly at her, looking through to her soul as only Eden could. Roz knew she couldn't hide the tiny hint of longing in her voice, or the hint of loss for something she was sure she'd never have.
But Eden didn't look convinced. She never did. Roz mentally shook herself and smiled, returning to her plate of field greens and vinaigrette. Luckily, Jess hadn't chimed in with her two bits.
"You say that now," Eden told her, and Roz couldn't help but look up at her. "But I think you will. No, I know you will. I see you and your little girl laughing together, playing at the playground. She'll look exactly like you, too."
That particular conversation took place not more than a month before her dreams of Celeborn began. Roselinde wiped away the sudden tears. "Eden predicted a daughter," she whispered as she gazed down at her belly. "Celeborn wants you to be a daughter. I'm out-numbered. I want you to be a son, but I suppose we won't know for sure until you get here, will we little one?" Her hands rubbed lightly over the swell of life within her. It amazed her still that she couldn't wait to be a mother.
When she was calm and collected, Roselinde looked up again, and saw the green line of land above the blue of the ocean. They were getting closer to Eressea. Meldis, too, was gazing off toward the island. A few other passengers began to gather along the railing, and Vaniel came to sit down beside Meldis. Last to join them was Celeborn, and she knew he was with her when she felt his fingers on the back of her neck.
"Did you sleep well, love?" she asked when she looked up at him.
"I rested, but I could not sleep." Celeborn bent to kiss her on the head.
"You were not there, beloved."
Evening fell, and they watched the island as it grew closer. Then waited a little bit longer until the ship was safely settled in its berth before disembarking. Arrangements were made for the furniture to be brought in the morning, and the four of them made their way to an inn not far from the new house. Celeborn ushered Roselinde up to their room, made her lay down on the bed for a rest even though she assured him she was quite awake. In the time it took for him to order dinner and have it sent up to them, as well as help Meldis and Vaniel get settled in their rooms, he was not surprised to find his wife fast asleep. With one of the spare blankets, he tucked her in and then sat in a chair across the room, watching her sleep peacefully and with a smile on her face.
His Roselinde was perhaps more radiant in motherhood than he'd ever known her to be. In her own words to him, she was as big as a house and waddled like a duck, but it didn't matter one whit to him. Roselinde was his wife, his beloved, and soon-to-be the mother of his child. Surprisingly, he discovered he wanted to be a father again. He was blessed with two children already, one of which still lived and was happy in her own life. Celebrian was healed and perhaps more in love with Elrond than she had ever been. She was his light in the darkness that was the shambles of his marriage to her mother. That is, until Roselinde came and healed him. Of course, the healing started the week before she was with him physically, but until Roselinde was in his arms, he hadn't made that connection.
Celeborn's eyes wandered down the length of Roselinde's body, from her beautiful red hair to her gorgeous toes and back again, until he found himself staring at her baby bump. Would he be greeting the arrival of another son or another daughter? It was curiously exciting to have been surprised to learn she was pregnant in the first place, and even more surprising to not know the sex of their child. Usually, at this stage in a woman's pregnancy, the healers could all tell correctly what the sex of the baby would be. But Roselinde had confused them thus far, so they were all grasping at straws to figure out whether they'd have a son or daughter. Roselinde wanted a son; he wanted a daughter. Smiling, he found himself wishing for both again.
Indeed, Meldis told him that Roselinde was bigger than usual with the growth of this child. So, perhaps twins were a possibility. But really, what did it matter what sex their child was? Deep down, Celeborn wanted his wife and baby to be healthy and well after the birth.
A yawn took hold of him and he took off his clothes, eased onto the bed and under the covers, careful not to wake Roselinde. Taking her in his arms, he held her close, letting sleep slowly capture him within its gentle grasp. Celeborn placed his hand over their child, as was his habit when they went to sleep, and thought of tomorrow. Not only would they be moving into their new home, but tomorrow would also be the beginning of their new life together. A soft smile stole across his face as images of his Roselinde and their children carried him into sleep.
The steady sound of light banter floated back to her as she lay on the lounger on the back veranda well out of reach of the mid-afternoon sunlight. Celeborn, Thranduil, Legolas and the twin sons of Elrond joked and laughed as they moved the furniture into the house, and Vaniel worked in the kitchen preparing sandwiches and lemonade. Only Meldis stayed with her for company, and Roselinde wasn't in the mood to be much more than frustrated and peevish that she couldn't help. Dear, sweet, Meldis who remained calm and unflappable in the face of her patient's snarky attitude. Who knew that the midwife Lady Este had suggested to them could be such a tyrant? Roselinde glowered a lot at first, but then realized Meldis was only doing this for her own good. Moving was tough work and she wouldn't be able to lift anything heavier than a pillow, which wouldn't help much at all. It was also a hot day, the vague salt sea breeze offering the only reprieve from the heat. Perspiration glistened on her skin, and Roselinde wrung out the washcloth again to wipe her face and neck. At least the water was cool.
Glancing over at Meldis, she found her friend seated quietly nearby, working on yet another bit of embroidery that will no doubt turn out beautiful. Roselinde never had the patience for embroidery or cross-stitching, or sewing for that matter. She watched for a little while, knowing this was something she'd eventually have to learn in order to mend clothing ripped in play by her son – or daughter. But after a while, her gaze drifted back out to sea, and she watched the water wash up on shore. It was relaxing, and Roselinde settled down further into the lounger, find a comfortable position on her side. There were no books around that held her interest, and any gardening she might've taken pleasure in was off limits thanks to the summer heat. So, heaving a sigh, she did the only other thing she could think of to do.
Roselinde closed her eyes and let the noise around her lull her into a nap.
What felt like mere moments later, she was brought back to awareness by the gentle kisses bestowed upon her by her husband. Her eyes opened slightly to look at him beneath lowered lashes before letting him know she was awake. Celeborn was dressed only in his robes, which was how she loved seeing him dressed. Desire pooled low in her body and thoughts of making slow, sweet love to her husband formed in her mind. Another feathery kiss alighted over her cheeks, and stirred her need. The scent of soap filled her senses, and Roselinde knew he'd taken a shower. His silver-blonde hair was still damp and hanging loosely around his shoulders. Her fingers fairly itched to run through those long, wavy tresses. But just as she was about to reach past his robes to touch his skin, Roselinde became aware of the quiet, and then she noticed the stars twinkling in the night sky. They were all alone.
Not that that was a bad thing, to her way of thinking.
"Where did everybody go?" she asked, rather needlessly. Indulging herself, she laid her hand on his chest, delighting in the heat she found there. God, how she wanted him. Her eyes followed her hand as it traced a course down to his abdomen, and she delighted in the way he shivered once she hit a certain spot. Roselinde loved knowing she could make him crazy with desire at the slightest touch.
"They left a few hours ago, and I sent poor Meldis to her room," he answered, his voice low and filled with desire. "You have been asleep for hours."
He kissed her neck, lingering at the pulse point. His hands caressed their child, who acknowledged him with a kick that took both parents by surprise for a few moments. Roselinde looked up at her husband who still seemed so utterly fascinated and awed that he was about to become a father again. Tears began welling up in her eyes at the sight of him. Removing her hand from his body, she brought it up to caress his face and comb her fingers through his hair. Celeborn's eyes were sparkling with joy, and if anything, they were darker with need for her. But he noticed her tears and was instantly concerned. Never in all her life had she ever felt this loved and needed. And she knew it would last all the rest of her days.
"Darling, what is wrong?" he asked her, wiping away a tear as it fell.
"Nothing, beloved. I'm just so… happy here. With you."
"As am I, my dearest Roselinde."
His hands slid up from her belly, slow and steady, lightly brushing the sides of her sensitive breasts. A gasp escaped her as his fingers traced random patterns over each one, teasing her through the light-weight tunic she wore. Her nipples tightened into peaks, begging for his attention. Celeborn noticed and smiled, looking at them with undisguised hunger. He adored Roselinde, loved her to the very depths of his soul. And seeing the rosy flush of unbridled passion color the exposed parts of her pale skin only made him grow harder, anticipating the moment when he would be inside her. There was nothing in this world that could possibly bring him more joy. Except, perhaps, being the father of their children.
"Come, my love," he murmured lowly in her ear, reveling in the way she trembled beneath him. "Let us go to bed." Taking her hands in his, he helped her sit up, and then supported her as she managed to stand. His arms wrapped protectively around her to steady her until there was no danger of her falling over.
"But I am not in the least bit sleepy!" He almost laughed at her sudden disappointment.
"I do not recall saying anything about sleep," he quipped, winking at her. And to prove his point, he reached down and grasped a handful of her luscious backside. Roselinde's eyes smoldered with imminant rapture.
"Well, in that case, I suppose we should make all haste to bed."
"I thought you might be agreeable to the idea."
"You are very persuasive, my dear. I don't think I had a chance to refuse you."
"None at all."
They bantered all the way up the stairs and into their bedroom. They only stopped when talk became unnecessary and they used their bodies to communicate instead.
Hours later, they fell asleep sated and content in each other's arms.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.