51. Wedding Feast
They signed the wedding contract and stepped aside so the witnesses could follow suit. Ririon signed with a satisfied smile on his face, but Pando pulled back. "I'm not of age," he said.
"You are seventeen, are you not?" asked the King, smiling. "Well, then, by our law you are of age to do this, at least." Smiling, the young Hobbit accepted the quill and signed. Even Joy sniffed the contract, at least, and watched with interest as the King brought out a small stick of sealing wax and lit it from the small protected candle that stood on the table, dropping two small mounds of wax onto the document and stamping one with his seal ring as King of Gondor and the second with a seal he removed from his pocket with the simple A glyph with which Ruvemir was already familiar. He then took the document and rolled it gently and wrapped the multicolored cord about it and tied the carefully complex knot with which such things were fastened.
He handed it to them, and Elise and Ruvemir held it between them, the cord between their hands. "You are now bound to one another," he said quietly, laying a hand on the shoulder of each. "Remember, now, that you will experience days similar to the colors in that cord--days of riches and days of loss and want; days of joy past bearing and days of grief which will draw you down; days of finding and of losing, pleasure and pain, hope and despair, love and anger. And one day will come the day of parting, which is also necessary, for only after we are parted can we hope to find one another truly once again. If you will open yourselves to the guidance of the Valar and the One, you will get through it well enough. Just never let the Sun go down on your anger with one another, lest she rise on it the next day." His expression was solemn, and Ruvemir suddenly felt an odd thrill flow through him, and felt a slight shiver in Elise as if she felt the same. He looked to her, seeing her eyes had widened and were fixed on those of the King, her mouth slightly open in surprise. The King noted the change, examined both, then sighed and smiled. "Go now to rejoice with these others with my blessing and that of the Valar as well," he murmured gently, and gave them a loosing push.
They were now drawn into a line, and all filed past them to shake their hands, embrace them, give them kisses of blessing and happiness, nod to them distantly, or whatever other manner of greeting those who attended might devise. Then they were led to the long table upon the lawn and made to sit side by side for the wedding feast, and feast it was indeed. Ruvemir was reminded of the dinners he'd attended in the Shire, and began to laugh softly but helplessly as he looked at the plate set before him, so heaped with food that there was no way he could begin to eat it all. Pando and Folco, however, were smiling with great satisfaction, as if this were something like!
Many sat at the table, while others stood with their plates and talked or sat at smaller tables brought from within the inn or lent by the Dragon's Claw and another inn from the First Circle. The King and Queen came to sit opposite bride and groom, the Queen carefully arranging a blanket over her daughter so she herself could feed. The Lord Prince Faramir came near, leaned over Ruvemir, and smiled as he said quietly, "I rejoice Sam passed this mantle on to you, Master, for it suits you well. Nor do I think Frodo would be the least unhappy with the recipient. In fact I think had he been able to remain he would be fully happy to meet and know you, although I suspect he'd still be arguing that there is no need for any memorial, particularly not for one with him in it."
"Thank you, my Lord Prince. It is heartening to hear you say this. As for the Lord Frodo--I suspect you are correct." They shared a smile before the Prince Steward strolled away to speak to one of the envoys from Rohan.
"Master Ruvemir?" Ruvemir turned to see Celebgil approaching. "I am so glad for you this day."
"And I rejoice you and your family came this day. Are you preparing for Sunday?"
"I am. I will finally see somewhat of the realm beyond Lossarnach and the city."
Ruvemir looked and saw that Elise's grandmother was approaching the table to speak to the King. He looked quickly back at the apprentice. "Celebgil, swiftly, go around the table and get a chair, and hold it ready for Mistress Idril. She does not yet recognize him, and I fear when she does it will overwhelm her."
A brief nod and the youth was off. The mannikin then turned to Pando. "Please get a goblet of wine ready to present to Mistress Idril, Pando, and go to her. She will need it shortly, I think." Again, the young Hobbit nodded and rose to follow the orders given. Ruvemir said to Elise, "I hope it is not too much of a shock for her."
Elise smiled. "She's a strong lady--she will weather it."
Ah, Master Faragil was approaching her, and smiling. Good, she would not be without support. With that thought, Ruvemir set himself to enjoy one more small drama of recognition.
Mistress Idril turned to smile up at Master Faragil, then after taking his arm she stepped forward to speak to the King at last. "My Lord King, we are greatly honored you have done this for our Elise and her beloved."
The King turned graciously and smiled at her, for seated he was almost on a level with her own eyes. "It is my pleasure and honor to do so, Mistress." He looked at her more closely, and his eyes showed he was sifting through his own memories. "I am sorry, but you are familiar. Have we met in the past?"
"Not that I know of, my Lord, although I stood near the front when you were crowned."
But the memory had been found by the King. "Oh," he said softly. "You were wife to Hirigion." He gave a brief nod, his face solemn, then gave a gentle smile. "Hopefully the joy of today helps balance what I had to tell you the last time we met, then."
And the shock did hit her. Celebgil got the chair behind her just in time as she started to fall back, and the King reached out, rising and catching her and easing her back into it as she sat heavily, her face very pale. The King bent over her with grave concern, started to call for water and found Pando was already there with a goblet. With a distracted nod of thanks he took it and checked its contents, then kneeling, pressed it on the lady, admonishing her to take a sip and calm herself. It took a few moments for her to regain possession of herself, and then she was embarrassed, particularly to find the King was kneeling before her, his napkin fallen to the ground under his knee.
Seeing her rally, the King rose and retook his seat. He looked at Celebgil behind the chair and Pando at his side, then turned to look at Ruvemir. "I see you were anticipating such a reaction."
"Yes, my Lord, I feared it might be so."
"Thank you for your quick thought and preparation. It might have helped if I'd realized this was another I met long ago, though." Yet he was smiling.
He turned again to Mistress Idril, noting the concern on the face of Master Faragil as he leaned solicitously over her. "Forgive me, Mistress. As I said earlier to Masters Damrod, Ferion, and Bergemon, I appear to have this effect on some, and it appears you are another such a one."
She began to smile in spite of herself, then finally to laugh. The King smiled in response. "Please forgive me, my Lord," she finally said. "I was warned. I ought to have realized...." She examined him closely as she took another sip of the wine. "You do not appear to have changed notably at all, Sire. As for our last meeting, I was glad it was you who came with the word, for your courtesy and obvious grief helped to allay my own."
He nodded. "And your courage and gentle tears helped me deal with my own grief. He was a good Man, and a good soldier. He deserved better than what he experienced." He looked across to Elise. "At least now I know what about her seems so familiar, for she has her grandfather's smile." Idril nodded. "Now, if you and Master Faragil will join us at the table.... By the way, did he tell you as yet of our meeting the other day? He didn't? Well, I give him full permission to instruct you of our past dealings. He was not quite as shocked, although his expression as he looked at his former apprentice was quite wonderful."
All were laughing together as Idril rose and Master Faragil assisted her to sit beside the King.
Ifram of Rhun watched the progress of the wedding and then the feast with fascination. Watching with curiosity the King's interaction with the small, elderly woman who had attended on the bride, he looked to his companion for explanation.
Eregiel smiled. "Apparently she is another who had reason to know the Lord Captain Thorongil when he fought for Gondor almost fifty years ago, my Lord."
"The Eagle of the Star--that is what the name translates to, does it not?"
"Yes, Lord Ifram, that is what it means in the Common Tongue."
"Yes, I can see it. An interesting man, your Lord Aragorn. Because he is descended from the line of Kings from the fallen island, he will live a long life?"
"If he is not slain otherwise, he ought to live at least two hundred years. He is now ninety-three.
"I see." There was silence between them for a time. "The small carver of stone, he will live in the house opposite ours, on the end of the street, no?"
"Yes, my Lord."
"There is friendship there between them."
"Yes, a level of it. The King prizes the friendship of those who accept him as he is, who are not overwhelmed by the fact he is the King. It, apparently, was what he found to treasure in the fellowship of those who traveled with him from Eriador, and part of what he so honored in Frodo Baggins."
"Why are there two names for the Periannath?"
"The first is the personal name, the other the name of the father's family to whom the Hobbit is born or into which a wife marries."
Ifram pondered this. "The clan name becomes part of the personal name, then. So, by their ways I would be Ifram d'Bouti, I suppose."
"You are from the d'Bouti tribe? I see. My lord cousin had good things to say about the d'Bouti tribe from his time in Rhun."
"The King has been in Rhun?"
"Yes, many years ago, not long after he left the service of Gondor. He said he spent some months with the d'Bouti tribe, which appeared to accept him. They taught him their tongue, and he taught one of their youths, Bastir, I think his name was, some of the common tongue in return."
"Your Lord King was the one whom my grandsire knew as StarEagle?" He thought for several moments, then smiled. "Eagle of the Star--StarEagle--yes, I see." He shook his head. "My grandsire Ba'hastir was a young warrior, and StarEagle taught him how to wield a blade even better, although he told him a few things he would not teach him in case they might find themselves facing one another on the battlefield one day. He left quickly during one of the councils, the one in which it was decided that this stranger ought to be taken prisoner and tortured to tell what he knew of the movements of the armies of Gondor. Some wished to gift him to the forces of Mordor to curry favor, but my grandsire would not agree. When he went to warn StarEagle this was being considered, he found StarEagle had already escaped."
Eregiel smiled. "Yes, I can certainly see him saying and doing exactly that." He sipped from the goblet he held. "How did your family come to hold a Gondorian slave, Lord Ifram?"
"Staravion was found just into Rhun's lands when I was a small boy. My grandsire and uncle captured him. He'd worked as a scout for the army of Gondor, although he told them his father's people were from the north. We did not know then what that meant."
"From the north? I wonder what family he comes from, then?"
The Rhunim shrugged. "My grandsire was able to speak to him in his own tongue, and decided to keep him as a slave. He admitted he'd been in the army only a few weeks, and could tell them little, even under torture. His story did not change, even when he began to lose fingers and toes."
Eregiel straightened in shock. "That you do not do similarly is a matter of great surprise to us," the young ambassador commented. "I am certain my people saw the condition of those who had been held prisoner by those of Gondor as being untouched, and they will not understand how they came to give what information they did to Gondor.
"My grandfather decided to have Staravion care for and train my brothers and myself. He wished us to learn the language of Gondor, its ways, its histories. He said that we must understand those we face if we are to best them in war or trade. Staravion was instructed to teach us the stories of his own land, which he did. We came to love him, my brothers and I. He was quiet, but full of humor as well, and he came, I think, to love us as children. Only when we began to grow up, to speak around him of taking the ears and eyes of our enemies when we fought, did he leave us. I came to his quarters one day to release him for the day, and found he had left during the night. He probably could have freed himself many times over the eight years he was with us, but he waited until I began to study warcraft--then he left."
"I see." Eregiel turned to a nearby table and sat at it, accepted a dish of food from a server. Ifram sat beside him and accepted another, took out his eating knife and spoon from his belt, and began to share in the feast.
Ifram after a time paused in his eating. "I was glad when Staravion left, and hope he found his way back to his own people. I would like, though, to see him once again and thank him for his care for us when we were young. My people are not always good to their children. Often he spared us beatings, accepting them for us himself. My father never understood, thought it denoted a form of weakness. But Moritum and I and Shefti--we knew it was not weakness, but one who was strong seeking to protect those he himself saw as vulnerable. Perhaps it was why my brother recognized we could not win when we saw the spare forces arrayed against Mordor."
The sharing of the wedding pastry was finished, the flowers thrown into the group of women and girls was accomplished, and they were caught by Mardi Cook, who smiled happily as she carried her prize away to the kitchens. Then at last when the singing and dancing were at their height Eregiel slipped up to Ruvemir to tell him the cart was ready to take him with Elise up to their new house. He and Elise slipped through the crowd and spoke quietly to this one and that, kissed sisters, wards, apprentices, parents, grandparents and masters, and quietly made their way out to the street. They were found out, of course, and pelted with seed and rice and flowers as they were helped into the cart among the last of the gifts to be carried away from the inn.
Those going along the streets of the city pulled aside with good humor to let the cart through, and many smiled to see the signs of a marriage just completed. That not long after the call came again to make way failed to upset them, particularly when they saw this party heading for the upper city included their King and Queen and the blanketed form of their sovereigns' daughter. Many came forward with flowers to present, and the Queen accepted them with pleasure. Many found they had the chance to look into the face of the Queen's child, to see soft blue eyes looking out at them. The King finally took the child so that the Queen could accept more flowers, and all saw how tenderly he held her, how he turned her so she could look out at those who approached, how he crooned to her as she looked up into his face. Ah, their King and Queen loved their child, carried her themselves, did not give her over to a nurse. Well and good!
It was a fair day, and looked to be a fair evening. Their King and Queen were among them, their royal child was healthy, and the people of Minas Tirith would rejoice at least for the day, for word had it that soon their King would leave once again to face war, war not fought, this time, in their own lands.
Ruvemir went forward to unlock and open the door, then came back to where Elise waited by the cart. "I hope I can do this properly," he said. "My arms are not particularly well proportioned for carrying brides, you know." Finally he smiled an apology. "Not precisely graceful, but it will do." He came forward and had her lean over his shoulder, raised her up, and carried her almost like a sack of root vegetables over the threshold as she laughed helplessly. They were both laughing as he entered the day room, and when he went to let her down again he lost his balance. Together they sat upon the floor and continued to laugh, holding each other until the tears came. Then they were embracing, kissing....
He broke off. "One thing before we come to that, my love. I want to make a picture of you as you are now, to share with all our children who may come, and with the others who will want to see what you look like, just now, at the height of your beauty and desirability."
His chest with the sketch booklets stood against a wall nearby, and he quickly found his newest one, his pencil case, chose the drawing stick and graphite he wished to use, began to sketch....
An hour later he declared himself satisfied, and showed her. She gave a gasp of surprise. "That is how you see me?" she asked.
"Of course, Beloved," he smiled. "Now, I think I deserve a kiss for the work I've done."
One kiss led to another, then to another still----
Some time later she looked up at him from their bed, surprised and pleased at what she and he had just enjoyed. He was sitting up, looking down at her, a gentle look of pleasure and sheer joy in his eyes.
"Did you wish to do another picture of me as I am now?" she asked.
He slowly shook his head. "No, I am imprinting this picture in my heart. Only One other has the right to know you as you are now, as we are now; and He has seen and, I suspect, is fully happy. I will share this image with no one else." He leaned down to kiss her lips gently, and she drew him back down, back down to know that love once more.
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.