The Return of the Shadow: 17. Unexpected Consequences

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17. Unexpected Consequences

She dissolved in Elentar's arms. She could tell no longer where her body ended and where his began. There were lips and kisses, hands stroking, fingers teasing, legs twined together. Was it her mouth on his? Was it his lips on her breasts or hers squeezing his nipples? One moment she seemed to be inside his mind, looking at her with his eyes, feeling her heat with his body, the next moment she was no longer alone in her thoughts – what thoughts she had left – but he was there, writhing, clawing, loving along with her, within her.

When she felt she could bear it no longer, he finally entered her, smoothly sheathing himself inside her. Always before her body had resisted this joining. She had been too dry, the act itself over too quickly, altogether more pain than pleasure. Now she was humid, open, ready. Like a field in spring, warm and wet with rain, ready to be planted… She arched her body against his, her flesh tightening around his member, sucking him deeper, and for a moment she experienced a sense of power such as she had never felt before.

Then he pressed down into her, setting a rhythm that was as inescapable as it was delicious. She gave herself up to him, quickly losing all sense of time and space. Time was the rhythm of his strokes and her convulsions around him; space was skin on skin and lips on lips.

Without warning he pounded deeper into her, and found a spot no other lover had yet discovered, a spot she did not even know existed. For the first time in her life, she screamed with pleasure.

And then she was gone.

Her body, his body, her mind, his mind: Mina was floating in a sphere of golden fire. And she was not alone. Elentar was there with her, and they were one. They were made of love, they had become love, and love was life. Within that fire, she felt a rhythm, a pulse, a chorus:

"I live for you. I die for you."

She was those words. He was those words. Mina could see those words, words of love, words of life. They were like petals around a tiny, fiery seed. And in the last moment before their shared passion reached its peak, Mina felt how she joined hands with Elentar and they both reached for that tiny seed at the core of the fire that surrounded them.

When Mina opened her eyes, she lay in Elentar's arms.

Her body felt strange to her, as if it did not belong to her anymore. Slow, silent moments passed, during which she had to rediscover her body. Legs, twined with his, breasts, pressed against his chest, cheek hidden in the crook of his arm, hands, clinging to his body…

…she felt weak, almost liquid, waiting…

Suddenly, she experienced a short, almost painful stab deep inside her womb. A last lingering convulsion of passion? Then there was a sense of heaviness, of otherness, as if something had changed within her, but she did not know what it was.

Elentar must have felt it, too, for his eyes flew open, and he put his left hand on her stomach, between navel and pubic bone. He tensed beside her as if struck by a whip. Sitting up, he placed both hands on her belly.

Mina felt a frown grow on her face, and a sickening, ominous feeling somewhere in the area of her stomach. She swallowed hard, still not quite back in the real world.

"What's the matter? Is something wrong?"

He did not answer, but closed his eyes, his hands resting on her body. Heat seemed to spread from his hands, enveloping her, and as the heat grew stronger, she grew more aware of her body again, the dizziness of passion subsiding. She felt as if she could trace the outline of each organ, heart, liver, lung, and as if she could follow the stream of her blood through the tiniest veins of her body. It was the most extraordinary sensation. She could have flowed within her blood for hours, peacefully propelled along by the regular beating of her heart. But the warmth of Elentar's hands led her attention to her womb.

Once there, she realized that the impression of change had been right: she was no longer alone in her body.

The tiny, fiery seed of love, of life, had taken root inside her.

She opened her eyes. The room was dark around here. She could barely glimpse the outlines of Elentar's naked body kneeling at her side. Mina swallowed again, her mouth painfully dry. The skin at her temples prickled suddenly, and she felt the weakness of shock washing over her. Somehow she managed to sit up. Her right hand snaked down to her belly. Elentar took her hand and placed it below his.

She felt the warm skin of her stomach, her body still hot with smouldering passion. And somewhere below her hand was her daughter. No more than a seed, but already growing, taking shape and spirit.

Mina stared at Elentar and then she said the first thing that came to her mind.

"She'll have your eyes."

oooOooo

Mina sat in her bed, cuddled into warm blankets, her hands resting on her stomach, a part of her attention turned inwards. If someone had asked her to describe how she experienced what was happening inside her, she would have said that the fire of creation was subsiding, as the seed that was now going to grow into her daughter was burrowing deeper into her womb.

All at once she could understand the way expectant mothers sometimes looked as if they were not quite here, not quite in this world, but in another world of flesh and warmth and slow ripening. She was pretty sure, however, that there were not many other mothers who knew only a few hours after conceiving that their daughter would be born precisely a year from now, with ears that were almost translucent and delicately pointed, and that she would grow up to have her father's brilliant silver-grey eyes.

The father in question was pacing the room.

He was also wringing his hands.

Strangely enough, the more nervous Elentar was, the calmer Mina felt. More than that, she felt whole. It was as if all the missing pieces in her life were finally falling into place, completing a picture that had never made sense to her before. It was a picture that was not of this world, but it was very beautiful.

Abruptly Elentar turned back to the bed and fell to his knees next to her. The expression on his face was the most curious mixture of shock, despair, love and hope. He reached for her hands, shuddering as he touched her belly in the process.

"I am so sorry," he whispered. "I did not think that this was possible. Or I would have…"

"You would have what? Not wished for love, for life, and for creating this spark of life as much as I did?"

"I…" He trailed off.

Suddenly Mina realized that he was afraid that she would not want their child. She shook her head, trying to clear her mind. She was still a little dizzy with the love she had found and its admittedly unexpected consequences. Had someone told her a few weeks ago that she would conceive a child by someone who was to all appearances a homeless vagabond and street musician, she would have called them crazy – probably she would have told them that not even a wealthy broker featured in the plans she had made for her life.

Now, however, it looked as if the plans for her life were being remade every minute.

"There are a few pages about the customs of naming among the Eldar in 'Morgoth's Ring'," Mina said thoughtfully. "If I remember it correctly, it is the father who will give an Elvish child the first, but a mother may name an elf-child, too. Is that true?"

"Yes, or – I don't know. I…" He broke off, confused. He inhaled deeply, obviously trying to regain his composure. "That is what my father told me, yes. He called me Elentar. My mother…" He blushed. "It was only a nickname, not a name of foresight."

Mina grinned. "What did she call you?"

She was gratified to see the by now familiar scowl back on his face, eyebrows raised and eyes glittering.

"Lentil," he muttered.

She giggled. "I bet you were a cute kid."

He glared at her.

Mina pulled his hands up from her belly and kissed them. "I am sure you will pick a beautiful name for our daughter. And now… if you don't mind, would you maybe hold me while I sleep?"

He did not reply, but slid into bed behind her, spooning her body, his left arm around her hip, his palm coming to rest below her navel.

She did not expect she would be able to sleep like that. Mina liked cuddling before falling asleep, but generally she needed some freedom of movement during her sleep, unlike Elentar, who did not really seem to need sleep at all and who could stay in one and the same position all night. But she knew that he needed to hold her, to feel her, and not only her, but the spark of life they had kindled that night. Holding her, holding them, would reassure Elentar, and calm him.

Mina sighed softly and relaxed in the warmth of Elentar's embrace.

Soon she was sound asleep.

oooOooo

She opened her eyes. She was not alone in her bed, and she felt slightly stiff and deliciously sore. Elentar was cuddled behind her, the palm of his left hand curled protectively around her stomach. Mina blinked, waking slowly.

Memory returned.

Passion. Desire. Love.

Life.

It seemed like a dream, a strange, feverish dream that could not possibly stand the test of daylight. But there was Elentar's arm around her, and she did feel different.

She turned her attention inwards.

The seed was still there. Not as palpable, not as fiery, rather peaceful, deeply burrowed in her fertile womb. Her fingers slid down to her belly, interlacing with Elentar's.

No dream. Reality.

Who would have thought?

She would be a mother after all.

Mina stared at the selection of teas in her cupboard.

"What's the matter?"

"I'm just not sure which kinds of tea I should not be drinking now," she replied. "I think a mild green tea should be alright." She sucked in her lips thoughtfully.

"You know, I don't think I can do a pregnancy test for a few days yet It will take some time for the hormonal adjustment to manifest in my bloodstream… so I can't really go to my gynaecologist and get advice on healthy nutrition and what trace minerals I should stock up on. I think we should go and buy a book or two today."

Elentar gaped at her. "Test…? Book…?"

She turned around, rose on tiptoes and kissed him gently. He was too surprised to draw away, and when she leaned against him, he had to hold her, or let her stumble.

"Mmmm," she replied. "I have no idea if an Elvish baby will need more or less folic acid than a human foetus, but I'll make damn sure that your daughter gets everything that her human half could need. However, as a human, I cannot possibly know that I am pregnant only a few hours after conceiving. Therefore we'll have to wait a few days until we can go and consult my doctor."

She felt Elentar's heart starting to race. She drew back a little and forced him to look at her as she continued, "I am a little old for a first child, but not that old. I'm healthy. There should be no problems."

The word 'problems' had been a mistake. Elentar's look of alarm quickly changed to an expression of panic. For a short moment, Mina wondered if there were already enough hormones in her blood to make her as calm as she was, or if it was an Elvish thing that kept her from panicking. Whatever the reason, Mina was nowhere close to the hysterics she probably ought to be having right now.

"Your daughter will be perfectly alright, Daddy."

Elentar paled.

Mina turned to the electric kettle, swallowing a chuckle. She was not frightened, but to say she was perfectly calm and composed would have been a lie, too. A child had never been on her agenda. But now there would be a child. More than that, a daughter with dark hair and her father's eyes. The thought made her feel more than a little giddy.

How would they live?

Mina stopped spooning her tea into the pot, her hand midair.

Where would they live?

For a moment time seemed to stop around her, her heartbeat like heavy drumbeat in her ears. Then she exhaled in a gasp and forced herself to continue preparing her tea.

It was a pertinent question, of course. A question she would have to ask, sooner or later. And there were other questions…

The tea was steeping. Mina stared out of the window, grateful that Elentar was as preoccupied with his thoughts as she was with hers. The kitchen was silent.

Was it an elf, or was it human?

Mina shook her head. She already knew that, she realized with a pang.

Not human. Peredhel. Half-elven. Immortal. Not of this world.

The tea was ready. Mechanically, she poured the tea and sat down at the table, lost in her thoughts. Her fingers curled around the cup. She sipped carefully, the hot liquid soothing in her mouth, although she did not really taste the light, tart flavour she would have enjoyed on any other morning.

A lonely elf in a world of men…

That was what her daughter would be if they stayed here. Not like Elentar in Esgaroth, of that Mina was sure. Somehow she knew that her daughter could be happy either here or there. But here… her daughter would be one of a kind, the only elvish girl in a world of men. And there? There. Mina frowned. Would that be Aman or Arda?

And she?

Would she be happy there?

She glanced at Elentar, pale face, worried eyes, hands under the table, so she would not see how he was intertwining his fingers, wringing his hands, shocked, worried, apparently feeling as if he had caused a catastrophe when he had only, finally, dared to love.

It was probably not the best time to say it.

On the other hand…

"Elentar, I do love you."

He jumped in the chair, his wrists colliding painfully with the edge of the table. Wincing, Elentar pulled his hands up. Mina bit her lips to keep from laughing. Then her eyes met his, and the laughter fled from her lips. There was so much in his gaze: pain, grief, hunger, hope, love. All that and more, more than any human being could have held in his eyes. Almost too much. Almost.

Elentar reached for her, and she allowed him to take her hands and hold them. He held them so tightly that his grip was almost painful. She kept looking at his eyes, and she saw how much he wanted to say "I love you", and how scared he was of speaking those words, because it seemed to him that as soon as he admitted that he loved someone, even to himself, something would happen to take that love away.

He could not say that yet.

But he wanted to say something. She needed him to say something.

"I think we should buy rings, too."

Mina had to blink tears away that were suddenly burning in her eyes. This was not at all how she had expected to get married, when she had given the matter any thought at all.

"So, he did get that right?" She was talking about 'The Laws and Customs of the Eldar'. "Morgoth's Ring" had been the first thing Elentar had picked up that morning, even before breakfast, reading up on what she had asked him about naming ceremonies.

Elentar made a rather disparaging noise.

"Not really. But we do exchange golden rings, we speak vows and blessings, and we do call upon Eru. At least that's what I remember from my childhood. And…" He hesitated, then went on, "It is the willing union of body and soul that makes a marriage valid among the Eldar."

"I was – I am – willing."

"I… I know." He squeezed her hands even tighter, staring at their joined fingers.

Mina sighed. She had hoped for a different reaction. But if she knew one thing about Elentar by now, then it was that he did not react well to prodding or attempts to manipulate him. She forced a smile.

"Well, let's finish breakfast and then we go shopping."

oooOooo

"Would you sing something for me?"

It was rather late; the day had been long and exhausting. They were sitting on the couch, Mina curled up next to him, her head resting on his shoulder. The warmth of her body felt good at his side, but her presence also made him nervous. He had to resist the urge to try and sense the spark of new life within her.

How was it possible that his whole life had changed in only one night?

He firmly suppressed the feeling of panic that was threatening to overwhelm him and forced himself to smile at Mina.

"Of course. What do you want to hear?"

His guitar was leaning against the wall, next to the sofa. He picked it up and strummed it gently, adjusting the tuning knobs, hoping she would ask for a song that did not conjure up bitter memories.

"How about some Beatles' song? Or anything that's a bit soft and sweet, really."

Soft and sweet… That was how she felt, so gentle, undemanding, He started playing, singing along in a low, soothing voice.

"Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away…"

Mina had always loved that song. There was magic in music, and Elentar was a wizard who could weave songs into spells.

Fire and song… the stuff of stars…

The music changed. An instrumental piece, but not Mozart this time. Bach? Her head resting against Elentar's shoulder, Mina allowed herself to drift away, buoyed by the melody and the warmth of Elentar's body. Her left hand played with a new ring on her hand, a slender golden band that circled her right index finger.

A ring. A union. A blurred memory of vows spoken in the throes of passion…

She wondered if they would repeat the vows in some kind of ceremony.

But then she shook her head. Her parents were dead, his parents were dead. What friends and family she had would not be very understanding about her wanting to marry a mysterious stranger all of a sudden.

He noticed how Mina touched the new golden ring on her index finger, and he had to summon up all his self-control not to flinch. Elentar had never bought rings before, but somehow, maybe simply because it was all he had, he had imagined that the money he had saved for more than a year should have been enough to buy a handsome pair of rings. He had been saving for a tent, to make the rough life outdoors a little easier. For a home. The money was all he had. It should have been enough. But of course it had not been enough.

He had been careful and had asked to be shown only the cheapest rings. "We're looking for nothing fancy, just a trifle." And how it had hurt to say that, because he was looking for so much more than a trifle.

It had been a disaster, of course. The rings had to fit on their index fingers, but all the betrothal and marriage rings were designed to be worn on the ring finger, so they had ended up with the man's rings of two different sets.

"Oh, you are looking for friendship rings," the shop assistant had exclaimed. "I did not know that people still do that, what a lovely idea!" And she had smiled at him and tried to flirt with him. He did not know what to say and in the end he'd kept silent, painfully aware of the hurt expression on Mina's face.

Then – because the rings were from two different sets – they were a little more expensive than advertised, and even when he had put all his money on the table, down to a handful of cents, it had not been quite enough, and Mina had had to pay the rest of the small sum.

The books on pregnancy she wanted to have, she had had to buy with her own money. He did not know what hurt him more – that he did not have the money to buy her those books, or that no one thought he might be the father… Just like the lady in the jewellery shop, they did not think even for a second that he might be Mina's partner, looking considerably younger than she did, and so different from her rather conservative outfit in his leather pants and dreadlocks.

When Mina had acquired a stack of books she wanted to browse through before deciding what to buy, the shop assistant had brought Mina a glass of apple juice with water and then continued to ask, "Can I get your brother anything?" And then she had thrown him a hopeful look, inviting him for a chat or more…

A mumbled reply of "No, thank you" was all he had managed, and he had not dared to look at Mina…

Without noticing, he had switched from the Beatles to Bach. Complex instrumental pieces were more soothing than the sweet songs of contemporary popular music to his mind. Although today there likely was nothing that could soothe his mind.

The ring felt awkward on his hand.

He stopped playing.

"I… I… Mina, I'm so sorry. I wish… I wish this were different… And I never asked you… about your family, and… your faith… I don't know if… I think most women… If you want a church wedding…" he broke off, wondering how his mother would have wanted him to get married. Of one thing he was sure, this was not the way his mother had envisioned it.

Mina did not reply at once, and she did not turn around so she could look at him when she spoke to him, the way she usually did.

"My parents are dead, Elentar, and I'm an only child. My mother died in a car accident when I was still very young, and my father died after a heart attack five years ago. I don't think my friends would understand… and we hardly can get more married than we are now, can we?"

Her voice was quiet and reasonable, as she always was. But there was a hint of pain in her voice that cut right through him.

"I'm not sure of my faith," she added almost as an afterthought. "I've considered myself an agnostic for the longest time. But now… maybe I ought to believe in Eru… His ways are certainly even more mysterious than the Christian God I was raised to believe in."

Elentar did not know what to reply, and so he did the only thing he could think of. He started playing again.

The music changed again, this time into Sindarin. It was a long, lovely ballad, but Mina was too tired to catch more than every third word or so. Wondering if her child would ever hear words in this language spoken by another elf, Mina finally drifted off to sleep.

She never noticed how Elentar carried her into the bedroom and spread the covers carefully over her body, before slipping into bed next to her and gently putting his arms around her.

oooOooo

A few weeks later, Mina slumped down on the sofa with a sigh.

Elentar was still too wired to sit down.

They had just returned from their appointment with Mina's gynaecologist.

"It's curious," she said. "I can feel her, even though she's just a tiny bud at the moment. So I know that I'm pregnant, I know it as probably no other woman knows. And still…" She waved the sheaf of papers her doctor had provided her with. "This makes it feel more real. I feel silly about that."

Elentar stopped pacing and smiled at her. It was only half a smile, but at least he did not try to say "I'm sorry" anymore.

"It's not silly. I feel the same. As a matter of fact, I'm feeling pretty nervous now."

Mina felt her lips twitch into a grin.

"I can see that. But it went well, don't you think? The doctor is all happy with us. He doesn't think there will be any problems no matter that I'm already 37."

"Yes," Elentar agreed and then affected a scowl. "At least no one tried to mistake me for your younger brother."

Mina snorted. In a way it felt strangely good how much it offended Elentar if people did not perceive them as a couple at once. He was more than a little possessive, and somehow she enjoyed that.

"How about some tea?" she asked. It was obvious that Elentar would need some time to calm down.

"Rooibush." It was a statement, not a question. Elentar knew the books about nutrition during pregnancy Mina had bought by heart.

"Yes, please."

Elentar rushed off to the kitchen, Mina stayed where she was, her hand resting lightly on her stomach, feeling for the presence of her daughter. There she was, still not much more than a seed, but already much bigger than she had been, even though she had to be maturing more slowly than a purely human foetus.

Mina sighed. She felt restless.

They needed to talk about what they would do. In a few months she would not be able to try and find a way to Middle-earth anymore. Elentar seemed willing to settle down to a life with her here in Berlin without giving the alternative any thought. He had accompanied her to the university one day and returned with three students taking private guitar lessons… and not just any students, but students of the university for music. It was not that she was not happy for him, or that she could not see him becoming a professor at said university for music eventually. She knew that they could live a happy life that way.

But for some reason that did not feel right to her.

She shook her head.

It would be a good life! They could teach their daughter Sindarin and read "Lord of the Rings" with her.

No.

That felt completely wrong to Mina.

"It's not how it's meant to be for us," she whispered.

Elentar put down the cup in front of her. His eyes were serious. He had heard her. With a sigh of his own, he settled down in the chair and faced her.

"We have to talk," he said.

At last! Mina felt a palpable wave of relief washing over her.

"Why do you feel it would not be right to raise our daughter here? There's a comfortable future within our grasp! You feel it, and I feel it, too. You know it can be exactly the way you see it."

There was a strange emphasis on certain words. Mina's mouth suddenly felt dry.

"Exactly as I see it? What do you mean with that?"

"We talked about naming traditions among the Eldar, remember? Mother-names are called 'names of foresight' not without cause. Pregnancy may awaken a gift of foresight in Elven women. And I can see that it is that way with you."

"How can you see that?"

"In your eyes," Elentar replied softly. "I can see it in your eyes."

Mina shivered. Then she gritted her teeth. It was useless to try and imagine their life as ordinary, for it was not. Elentar was not a human music teacher. He was an elf. And their daughter was not human either.

She inhaled deeply, but she did not speak. Whatever they ended up deciding, it had to be a decision they reached together, and she knew if she spoke first, Elentar would never say what he was really thinking.

He could not stay seated, but jumped up again and began to pace the room. Back and forth, back and forth… Mina drank her tea and watched him.

Finally he stopped pacing. He stood at the window, staring into the bright spring sunshine outside. She noticed that the tips of his ears were slightly flushed with his agitation. He had taken to wearing his hair in a ponytail in the apartment because of her "ear fetish" as he called it. Living with Elentar was not exactly easy, Mina mused. But there were compensations.

"You really believe that there is a way back, do you?"

That was quite unexpected. Mina almost inhaled her tea. She had not realized quite how troubled Elentar was, expecting him to lead up to the discussion in his more usual cool and distant manner.

She forced herself to reply as the reasonable, if slightly eccentric, scholar she used to be.

"Yes, I do. You are here; Lothíriel and your mother found a way to Middle-earth. Gandalf appears to be able to travel back and forth easily. Someone from Middle-earth apparently wrote these books, and it may well be that someone else from Middle-earth was involved in making the movies. Obviously there is a way to cross the Void."

"I never expected to be able to go back," Elentar muttered and sat back down on his chair. "I never expected…" He looked at her, and the fire in his eyes took her breath away.

"I didn't either."

He opened his mouth to say "I'm sorry" once more – then decided against it.

"I won't say that I'm sorry again," he said, acknowledging the hint of anger that must have been clearly visible in her face. "Because I am not. I –"

And still he could not say it. Three words that meant so much. Mina turned her head to the window, unable to conceal her disappointment.

"I wish things were less difficult between us."

"But they are not." Mina could not keep the irritation she was feeling completely out of her voice.

"No, they are not," Elentar acknowledged. "I'm scared, Mina."

She could only guess how much it had cost him to admit that much. She felt her eyes stinging with emotion.

"The Fates never said that you would not be able to return."

"No, they did not. But still…"

"Do you remember how unhappy you were as a boy? The only one of your kind in all of Middle-earth?" she hated asking this question.

"Yes, I most certainly do." An answer through clenched teeth. "But our daughter will not be like I was."

"That is true. Our daughter is not you. Actually, if what you say about the foresight of mothers of the Eldar is true, then I know she will not be like you. She will be able to be happy here. But would it be fair towards her? An immortal life all alone with her father? Without any chance of meeting her own people? Of growing up with children that are like her? Elentar, you have to realize that while I am not too old to have a child, it is very likely that I am too old to see an elvish child grow up."

Mina stopped, her heart racing, her throat tight. She did not want to think about that. It hurt so much. Her daughter would be an adult when she turned fifty. And while she could probably live to be eighty-seven with a bit of luck, she would not be able to throw the kind of party a daughter deserved upon reaching majority.

Elentar covered his eyes with his hands.

"What do you propose that we do?"

Mina exhaled in a sigh. "I think our best bet is working our way through the various Tolkien archives. We can start with the one in Eichstätt while I make arrangements for a trip to England. Good thing that the spring holidays have started. They are open in the morning and in the afternoon until four o'clock."

"And you really think we'll find anything there?"

Mina shrugged. "I don't know. But we have to start somewhere."


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.

Story Information

Author: JunoMagic

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: Multi-Age

Genre: General

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 08/08/07

Original Post: 03/05/06

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