Elrond rushed to the bedside. There might well have been no others in the room for all the attention he paid them. His eyes did not leave Ilmarë and her smile grew wider the closer he came. When he sat beside her, Ilmarë held her hands up and started to warn him of the stench of her body and the horrible taste in her mouth but Elrond crushed her against him and silenced her with his eager lips. Elrond threaded his fingers through her hair and his tongue deepened the kiss, and she did not care if her odor offended. Ilmarë wrapped her arms around him, happy to touch him again.
Elrond released her and ran his hands over her face. “Ilmarë…” he said.
She looked up at him expectantly, but he dismissed the thought in favor of pulling her into his arms for another kiss.
Elrond’s hurried entrance had delayed Ereinion’s abrupt exit, and now Ereinion stared fixedly at the impassioned reunion. His frown grew darker until at last he swung his head away. He stood there for a moment, fighting his agitation but finally gave up and left the room, ignoring Círdan’s glare. After Ereinion closed the door behind him, Círdan settled into his chair to wait. His worried look faded and the corner of his mouth turned up to see the happiness Elrond and Ilmarë displayed.
Elrond pulled away again and the tenderness in his eyes stole her breath. “You are awake,” he told her, “at last you are awake. I have been so frightened for you. I should have been here when you woke…I am sorry…”
“No, Elrond,” she shushed him, “you have no reason to be sorry. Círdan and Ereinion told me you stayed by my side the entire time.”
“You remained here in my room so I could watch over you.” Elrond said. “I slept beside you every night; though there were nights when I did not sleep…could not sleep, for fear of waking to find you…” He frowned and shook his head firmly. “No, I would just as soon be rid of those dark thoughts. They are of no matter now – now that you are awake and well…”
Ilmarë pressed her lips together to swallow the mass rising in her throat. He lay here night after night, not knowing if I would live or die. And not knowing that it made no difference…
She brushed the tears from her cheeks and leaned up to place quick kisses on his mouth as she ran her hands along his hair.
“Elrond…please,” she said between kisses, “please forgive me for putting you through so much unnecessary worry.”
He grasped Ilmarë by the shoulders and moved her back enough to see the shock on his face.
“Unnecessary? I had only just found you and already I faced losing you. You would have left me…yet you would not have been completely beyond my reach…”
His pained look tore at her and she stopped him. “Elrond, no…no. Listen and I will tell you the truth. Had this body failed I would have likely been returned to another body just like it and sent back to these lands. And even had I not, you would have found me again in Valinor when you crossed the sea.”
Elrond slowly shook his head, denying the possibility of what Ilmarë told him. “I…I do not understand.”
Ilmarë swallowed another mass – this one not seeking exit, but seeking to block the words she must speak. “I cannot leave this world, Elrond,” she said, watching him closely. “When I chose to come to Arda with the others of my kind, I became bound to it until its end. The Valar wished to send one of my Order for this task and of the Maiar, Varda chose me. This body is a shell, housing my spirit. I cannot die.”
His eyes dropped away from hers and he stared at the wooden boards of the floor. Ilmarë took notice of the shifting emotions on his features – first confusion then relief, questioning then anger, and finally nothing. His face remained blank as he spoke.
“Why did you not tell me this before?” he asked without raising his eyes.
“The Valar forbid me to reveal my true nature. I should have told you – I should have told you before, but I was filled with fear of breaking my word to the Valar. If I were not so weak in doubting my own judgment, I would have been truthful with you from the beginning. Yet everything else I have told you is true, Elrond…everything.”
“Then why do you tell me now?”
Still he kept his eyes averted and desperation built within her. “Because I trust you, Elrond; I have from the moment I met you, and now because of what we share I must tell you. You feared my death and I will not have you put through that pain of worry again.”
Elrond closed his eyes and rested his head against his fingers as they moved in a slow circle against his temple. “It is obvious Círdan knows…and Ereinion?”
“He knows. He surmised it the night I arrived here. I showed you the gifts sent with me because I hoped you would reason it out as well.”
“Then it is not Númenor you come from, but Valinor. And you would have known Melian and…the others of my family.”
It was a statement not a question. Ilmarë nodded, then realized Elrond could not see her answer. His eyes remained closed and he now used both hands to massage his temples.
“Melian and I have different masters among the Valar, but yes, I know her well…and Thingol. As for your mother and father, I am unsure. Yet I believe I knew Elros while he lived, though now it is nothing more than a fleeting familiarity.”
Ilmarë pulled his hand away from its slow circling and brought it to her mouth. She kissed the back of his hand before pressing it against her cheek. “Elrond, please…please do not be angry with me. I was wrong to have kept these truths from you – I should have told you.”
Elrond opened his eyes, but remained silent as he examined her face intently. Ilmarë forced herself to hold his gaze even though fear and regret made her want to look away. She did not realize she had been holding her breath until Elrond’s smile caused her to blow out a shaky exhale.
“I am angry you deceived me, and that you are Maiar is a thing I must come to terms with, yet neither seem especially important to me at the moment.” His hand joined the other already pressed to Ilmarë’s cheek and his kiss was gentle and forgiving.
“This explains many things for me. At times you seemed like a child and at times I saw wisdom and age in your eyes; I could not decide which was the truth. Now I understand both are true. There was something about you from the moment I saw you on the shores, yet I thought what I felt for you made you seem different from all others for me.”
His smile gave her comfort, like the soft glow of a candle in a dimmed room, and his eyes warmed her more than the fire blazing in the hearth across the room.
“I have many questions for you, but they will wait for now. That you will not be taken from me is what most important. I need not fear losing you, and it makes the decisions we face much easier…”
“Perhaps, Elrond…or perhaps not. There are things you must consider first, things you must still be told.”
Círdan’s voice caused both Elrond and Ilmarë to jump, due in part to their distraction and in part to his silence. Now reminded of his presence, Elrond turned to face Círdan where he sat in the chair near the foot of the bed.
‘What things, Círdan?”
“Things that must be taken into consideration before you make any decisions based on your feelings for Ilmarë.”
When Elrond looked to Ilmarë for answers she could offer him only a worried expression, and so he turned back to Círdan.
“I know Ilmarë has told you of what happened between she and I,” Círdan was saying, “but I will tell you now – it was a mistake. Admittedly, not one of which I am overly regretful, but a mistake nonetheless. Ilmarë’s body is beautiful, yes, but that is not what drew me. It was that hint of the Maiar spirit still evident in her; something she must learn to control or conceal. Ereinion has felt it, too. And I believe you have as well, although much stronger because of your heritage.”
Elrond’s silent, stony gaze made even Círdan fight the urge to turn away.
“I know you do this out of concern, Círdan, but it is unnecessary. I agree what happened between you and Ilmarë was a mistake, one brought about by weakness on both your parts. What I feel for Ilmarë is not a mistake, nor is it something brought about by the scant Maiar blood I bear.”
“At least consider the possibility, Elrond.” Círdan leaned forward in his chair, holding his hands out in an attempt to reason. “Think carefully on it. Ilmarë was lonely and longed for Valinor until the day you arrived at my home, and she seemed to find a certain peace in your presence. You are the last of Melian’s direct descendants left in these lands and you have long been lonely and kept to yourself…ever since Elros…”
“Enough, Círdan…enough.” Elrond sounded angry now. “Speak not of what you do not understand. You think the blood of my line brings on these feelings…blood that sets me apart from others and makes me feel isolated. And you believe Ilmarë eases this for me because we share the Maiar blood. I understand what it is you are trying to tell me. Now you must understand it is yet another mistake on your part.”
Elrond turned to Ilmarë with an earnest expression, close to imploring. “He is mistaken.” He pulled her hands to his chest and kept them there, covered by his own. “What I share with you is love. I feared to say it to you before, but I will not be so stupid again. Do you believe me, Ilmarë? Do you believe that I love you?”
Risking a glance at Círdan’s face was unnecessary. Ilmarë sensed the disapproval radiating from him, and she wanted to swat it away like a bothersome gnat. She wanted it to leave her be and let the shock and joy of Elrond’s words take her. What he shares with me is love she repeated his words in her mind; he loved her. But in the midst of her reverie, doubt found a crack to slink its way through; now it whispered again – do you love Elrond? How can you be certain after claiming love for Rušurayan?
Yes, I am certain, she decided, and gave doubt a firm kick to cease its mutterings. Love was what she saw on Elrond ‘s face as he watched her, what she felt in his hands when he touched her…
“Yes, Elrond, I believe it…and oh, how I have longed to hear you say it. Círdan told me it can take many years for love to grow between two people or they can feel love from the moment they meet. That is what came to pass when I first saw you, Elrond – I saw you and I loved you.”
Elrond searched for the appropriate words and at last decided there weren’t any. There were other, more fitting ways to convey what he felt; he allowed his body to communicate what his voice could not. His hands made their way into her hair again and his mouth found it much easier to show Ilmarë what he felt rather than speaking it.
Caught up in the relief and passion of confessing their love to one another, they did not notice Círdan rising from his chair. He started to speak, but thought better of it and waved his hand in aggravation before walking to the door.
What good will it do? Everyone seems to be set on ignoring my advice today. Unless it is advice they can use to their own advantage. Love at first sight for them, indeed…of all the ridiculous, childish nonsense…
Círdan did not bother with a backward glance or farewells, for he knew Ilmarë and Elrond were too engaged to even notice his departure.
Elrond noticed. Hearing the door latch click shut told him they were alone. His hand moved around to hold the back of her head as he used the weight of his body to bear her down onto the bed, the force of his kiss pressing her into the pillow. She welcomed the effort, even pulling him closer as he lay down next to her.
Elrond’s hands left her hair and slowly traveled down her body, caressing as they went. He had missed her response to his touch, not realizing how much until he felt her body strain to meet the pressure of his hand.
Ilmarë pushed away the folds of his robe because they prevented her from touching him. With the heavy fabric out of the way, she ran her hands along the broad line of his shoulders and down to his chest as he kissed her. Everywhere her hands wandered, his muscles tightened beneath his shirt and Ilmarë wanted to touch more than fabric. Suddenly she wanted…no, needed to touch his skin and hurried to open the top of his shirt, giving her hands access to his chest. The hair there surprised her, but the feel of it excited her further and she ran her fingers in circles over his skin.
Her discovery surprised Elrond as well, and his breathing quickened as her fingers toyed with his chest hair. Such close quarters made it impossible to hide his body’s growing appreciation of her efforts. Elrond pulled his lips away from Ilmarë’s and took a deep breath, trying to calm himself; yet Ilmarë was not so easily deterred.
Still driven by the need to feel his skin, Ilmarë brushed her cheek against his neck before kissing the skin and tasting it hesitantly with her tongue. With a moan, he tightened his arm around her, pulling Ilmarë against him. She moved her hand down his body, now curious to inspect the hard length pressing into her hip.
Elrond captured her hand as it reached his waist. He lifted her hand to his mouth and pressed a kiss on the back of it before letting his body drop back onto the bed where he lay on his back, his eyes closed and his chest rising and falling with deep, calming breaths.
“You have been ill; I should not tire you like this when you have only just recovered.” Although, judging by his tone, he regretted having to stop.
“You did not tire me, Elrond; if anything I am more awake now.” His attentions left Ilmarë trying to catch her breath, but she still worried. “Then you are not mad at me for keeping the truth from you?”
Elrond propped himself up on one elbow to look at her. “No, more pleasant thoughts than anger fill my mind now.” He let out a long breath and said, “I feared your being taken from me and the past days were long and dark because of it. To discover that will not happen is a wonder unlooked for and all the rest is of little importance to me by comparison.” His crooked grin appeared. “And to hear you say you love me…I could not stay angered after hearing you speak those words. I do not believe I could ever remain angry with you for long.”
Assuming a more serious attitude, he used a finger beneath her chin to raise her face. “Well, then…even if this body can be replaced I would rather avoid having you leave me for any length of time. How do you feel? Do you feel ill in any way?” Elrond looked at her pointedly with a raised eyebrow. “Do you understand what I mean by that?”
Ilmarë nodded. “I do now. I do not feel ill as I did before…in any way,” she added when he continued to look at her suspiciously. She assessed him carefully and said, “Yet my body now has certain aches which only you can attend to, seeing that you are the one who caused them.”
Elrond raised his eyebrows and shifted uncomfortably as he looked away. “Ilmarë…I do not intend to sound rude…but we should call Haleth or Adanel up and let them draw you a bath and help you bathe. It would…”
“Ahhh…” she breathed out loudly in irritation, “Ereinion…” She shook her head and sniffed inside her nightgown again. “I told him how awful this body smelled and he claimed was exaggerating. I knew it smelled foul…”
“Ilmarë…Ereinion was right; you do exaggerate,” Elrond said with a laugh. “Foul is too strong a word, but you could do with a bath. And afterwards I will tend to whatever aches your body has for which I may provide some relief.” He ran his fingers along her cheek. “Before we call Haleth, I wish to discuss something with you. The decision we spoke of before…the decision I asked for time to consider? I have made it.”
“Elrond, you should not do this now,” Ilmarë said and returned his frown. “I do not want you to make a decision clouded by your worry and fear during these past days.”
“I made this decision out of love.” Elrond took a deep breath and said, “I do not wish to wait for marriage to become…intimate, but I do want to wait until we leave Lindon. I have given this a good deal of thought.”
He took Ilmarë’s hand and kept his eyes on her fingers as he toyed with them. “There are those among the Noldor who skirt around the laws and customs by…well, shall we say alternative methods of release. I want more than mere release with you. Yet, though I love you, we need more time to consider marriage – time I do not believe either of us is willing to wait.”
“Elrond…you should not act against your beliefs.”
“They are not my beliefs, Ilmarë. I told you I had never been in a position to choose. Now that I am, the Noldor belief does not sit well with me. The joining of bodies should not be taken lightly, but neither should it result in marriage. They are two different acts with two very different sets of consideration. The Sindarin beliefs suit me better.” He looked down again and resumed nervously stroking her fingers. “There is another Sindarin custom I would hold to as well. Some Sindar share a home outside of marriage; there are even those who remain so indefinitely, believing the marriage vows to be unnecessary. Not that I would wish to …”
He cleared his throat and hesitated before he said, “I know when I take you to my bed I will not want you to leave it again, but to do that in Ereinion’s home seems disrespectful in my eyes. If we are to share a bed, we should do so in our own home, not someone else’s. It will only be a few months until we leave for Eregion and I thought, perhaps when we reached Ost-in-Edhil…well, perhaps you would share lodgings with me…what I mean is, share a home…”
Ilmarë pulled her fingers from Elrond’s grasp to keep him from the nervous rubbing and squeezing, taking his hand and holding tight. “I will share a home with you in Eregion if that is what you wish. I see no reason why we should not. And I agree to postpone our intimacy until we leave Lindon - although do not expect me to be overly joyous during the interval. I do not foresee this as being a pleasant time for me.”
“Nor will it for me,” Elrond answered, smiling happily at her agreement and moving toward her. “Yet the Noldor believe resisting temptation builds character.”
Ilmarë raised an eyebrow as she watched Elrond lean closer. “And I say if one is capable of resisting temptation, it does not so much prove the strength of their will as it does the weakness of their desires.”
Elrond stopped moving and feigned shock. “Are you inferring the strength of my desire for you is lacking?” Ilmarë only raised an eyebrow and smirked, and he pulled her into his arms again. “Then you force me to prove your error in judgment.”
She tried to squirm away and said, “Elrond, really…you should wait until after I have bathed. The smell cannot be pleasant…”
Elrond held her tight and said, “You would have to smell far worse than this to dissuade me…” and he kissed her.
After a few fleeting moments, Ilmarë abandoned her attempts to pull away, instead wrapping her arms around Elrond as he eased her back onto the bed and proved beyond any doubt the strength of his desire for her.
NOTES: Again, I’m putting my own twist on the marriage customs. I’m portraying the Sindar to be a more Bohemian culture, still with permanent, monogamous marriages, but a little more laid-back about what goes on before hand. And the Noldor are the ones with the more rigid, uptight beliefs. All of this is merely for the purpose of my story. For more information about the possible marriage beliefs of the Eldar, see Laws and Customs of the Eldar in Morgoth’s Ring, History of Middle-earth, vol X.
And I don’t know if Elrond had chest hair. He was part mortal, so it could happen. In Unfinished Tales, in the footnotes to the Line of Elros, it talks about Elrond and Elros’s spirits being what changed, or more specifically that Elros was given the ability to leave the world when he grew weary of it. In Sauron Defeated it says that Elrond also retained that grace of being able to change his mind later and choose the fate of Men if he grew weary of the world. I think Tolkien abandoned that idea, but it’s an interesting possibility to play around with.
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.