49. Waxing Poetical
What do you think? Lady C. is pregnant! Yes, this soon!!!
We chose temple day as our visiting day, since that made the most sense. We were going into the City that day, and we would be wearing our best clothes, and all that, so yes, it made sense to choose temple day to visit Raven and Guilin at the Palace.
Oh, I could see the Lady had something up her sleeve, but I didn't guess what it was just then. She was with her mother and Lady E., and Lord E. was talking to Gandalf and Dûndeloth. And yes, Lady C. did look very happy and excited, and I thought perhaps it was because of my revelation, but I certainly did not expect it to be coming to pass this soon.
Guilin was there with his sister, and although I didn't ask him, it's my guess that this was his first time ever to come to Temple. He seemed a bit uncomfortable, although he was looking splendid in a suit of black embroidered in gold over a white shirt, and he attracted many an admiring glance from the opposite sex. But Seldirima was not with him, and it did not take much guesswork to figure that he had broken it off with her.
I told him I was very glad to see him there, then admired Raven in her new white dress, and somehow I don't think Northlight paid much attention to the service for looking at her. Afterward she made a sign to us, and her brother said she wished to know how Little Iorhael was. I said that he was smiling now and Tilwen said it wasn't gas. Raven looked thoroughly delighted to hear it.
Just then I caught sight of Tilwen and Galendur with their tiny offspring, along with Donnoviel, and pointed them out to Raven. But before I could go to them, Guilin asked if he could have a word with me. He took me aside as the others were talking and admiring the baby and I tried to listen to find out if he would smile at Raven and what her reaction would be.
"Are you very sure they know what they are doing?" he said, leading me into a small recess in the hallway. "She's done naught but cry all week. Every time I see her, she's in tears. She was never much given to crying before. What can they be doing to her? Is it really necessary to make her remember all the things that happened to her?"
I felt my throat tighten. "I know how hard it must be for you to see that," I said, "but tears can be an outlet and a relief. And yes, it is hard to be made to remember, I know that all too well. But—"
"They make me remember also," he said, "which was bad enough. But you and I are adults, and she is a child. If it was that hard for us, how must it be for her? If they are making her cry, I must seriously question their methods. She used to have bad dreams, as I do still, but after we came here, she had them far less frequently. I'm afraid this treatment is going to start them up all over again. Did you have bad dreams?"
"Yes, often," I said shuddering. "But after I came here, they became less and less frequent. I have them very rarely now. In fact, I have not had one in well over a year. I almost expected to have some after what you told me about your experiences, but I had none. I am absolutely certain that the treatment will work for her once she gets past the remembrances. I had scars too, but they are all gone now, and it's as if they were never there. I am a counselor also, and it is very hard for me to make the orphans remember certain things. But they must be unearthed and faced down in order to be rid of them, or they will stay and haunt for as long as one lives. Perhaps the Palace is a bit overwhelming for her? I know of another place she can stay, if so."
"She seems to like the Palace," Guilin said. "And everyone there seems to dote on her. I like it too, for that matter, and may try to see about getting a position there. I broke it off with Seldirima, in case you are wondering."
"I thought as much. How did she take it?"
"Not well. In fact, she pitched all kinds of fits. Threw things at me, called me some rather awful names, 'sewer-rat' being among the more polite ones. Said I had played her for a fool, what was she going to tell her friends, she would never be able to hold up her head again, and so forth. I didn't feel any too good about it, and was of a good mind to run back and throw myself at her feet and beg her forgiveness and tell her I had changed my mind once more, but I knew there was no going back then. I felt bluer than your lady's eyes. When I told Lord Elrond about it, he said I was not ready to marry yet, and must work through a good many things before I would be. But I still feel like going back and trying to make up with her…maybe I care more for her than I supposed. But now it can't be. Her father would pitch me out on my arse if I ever came near the place."
"I think Lord Elrond is right," I said. "You must find peace and healing before you can find love. Have patience. Perhaps even she will have you back again, if she sees you standing in the light."
"You must excuse me," he said as we started back to join the others. "My experiences have made a cynic of me, and it is hard for me to ascribe pure motives to anyone. And when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. It just seems a stroke of unlikely good fortune that you and Anemone would take an interest in my sister to the point of wishing to raise her as your own child, and that you should want to help me to overcome my own demons. After I told you that you might have her, I kept wondering if perhaps you wanted her as some free help for your missus. Then I kept telling myself that even if that was what you wanted, she would still be better off with you, and there was the small matter of the inheritance. I cannot keep money in my pockets myself, being much too fond of the gaming-table. Probably she would end up marrying some howling jackass from the Brazen Parrot because no respectable fellow would want her. But—anyway, the point is, it is hard for me to get used to the idea that someone could do a thing with unselfish motives. So you will have to exercise some patience with me, I am afraid."
"You saved a good many lives, you know," I reminded him. "Are you not entitled to some sort of reward?"
"I've done bad, as well," he said. "I robbed a man once when we had no money and nothing to eat, and ended up getting him killed in the chase. I've killed others—in self-defense, it is true, but it would not have happened if I hadn't severely provoked them. Yes, they were of a very low sort, some of whom would sell their mothers for a drink, but still…"
"You would not have been allowed here if you had not redeemed yourself by freeing those prisoners and protecting your sister," I said. "And forgive me if I sound pious and stuffy, but I think you should keep away from the Brazen Parrot. Bad companions will drag you into the pit."
"I don't go that often," he said a little defensively. "And by and large I don't care at all for the inhabitants. I find them irritating, at best. I've gotten into more than one nasty scuffle with them. But I feel far less at home among respectable folk. I feel I shouldn't even be talking to you at times. That I'll besmirch your purity or some such thing, and you shouldn't be soiling your hands with me."
I laughed a little. "You greatly overestimate me," I said. "But I know what you mean, for I've felt the very same way back in Middle-earth. And I think you should give me and my friends a try. We have our faults and quirks, but we are not a stodgy crowd, and I think you would enjoy us if you allowed yourself. We attend sporting events and plays, swim and sail and hike and ride and explore, discuss profound and weighty subjects and play ridiculous children's games, sing hymns and tavern-songs, write poetry and toss horse-shoes, attend tea-parties and clam-bakes, consort with queens and blacksmiths and actors and hair-dressers and carpenters and small children. We are not so delicate as all that, and I seriously do not believe you will besmirch any of us. Shall we go join the others now? My stomach is making some rather unprincely rumbles. And the Queen said she would serve a very tasty dish invented by my uncle, which I don't believe you have tried yet."
We had brought along a basket of gifts for Raven. There were golden mushrooms, which she loves, from Anemone and myself, a linen handkerchief from Emleth, with a letter R prettily worked in red and a tiny black bird in flight embroidered on it also, and a narrow lace edging. Raven seemed astonished and wondering at having a handkerchief made especially for her. There were some cream-tarts from Emleth's mother, who makes the best in all the land, and a little hair-ornament from Tamsin, made of multi-colored threads intricately braided.
And there were two little dolls, representing Raven and Northlight—made by Lyrien, of course.
"I'm making some of you and Anemone too," she told me, "but they're not finished yet. It's taking me a long time, because your hair is all different colors. Yours is brown, Anemone's is gold, Raven's is black and Northlight's is white. Do you know, my daddy said Raven will be my cousin soon?"
"He said that?" I was surprised and touched. When will I learn to stop underestimating Seragon?
She nodded emphatically. "So now I have two new cousins in the same year. Wait—THREE cousins. Northlight too! I almost forgot. That is sooo astonishing."
I chuckled, looked at the dolls lying in each of my hands, then at her, and I sobered.
"I wish I could adopt you too," I said.
There was also a little ring set with three little pearls Northlight had dived for himself, along with a poem. He had brought the glass formation that he had found in the sand and set it in Raven's window, where it caught the sunlight and threw little rainbow patches on the walls. His poem went thusly:
Gay and wild
Light as a feather
Sweeter than heather
Eggs aren't afraid
Of the dancing maid.
Your midnight hair
Doth make me stare
Your new gowns
Do not bring frowns
Your dainty feet
Are neat and sweet.
Your scars I don't mind
To them I am blind
But I would see you healed
True wellness revealed
So have no fear
Of memories drear
Love will prevail
If medicine fail.
Your sea-born lover
Beside you will hover
My father and mother
And also your brother
Stay close to your side
With joy to abide.
This silvery ring
Is a tiny thing
But the pearls are real
And mayhap will heal.
Gollum to thee
I never will be
A traitorous blighter
Who'll lead you to a spider
Or your finger bite
With hideous spite
But let me be Ninniach to you
A rainbow bridge with colors true.
Lord Elrond looked so very, very happy about his wife's news. I just cannot tell you what that does for me. After all this time, to see joy come to him…and I think it will be a daughter. I remember how he looked the night I told him of my revelation. Exactly as one might expect…at first incredulity, then wordless wonder, and then…. "You are sure of this?" Not that he doubted really, but one must ask. And then the light began to fill him, quietly—of course he has never been one to jump and shout—and I feared my heart would leap out of my chest, the way it was pounding. But I fixed my eyes on his, and then he was irradiated all over, and I began smiling also, and….
I looked to Guilin as we all sat in a sunny salon together, talking excitedly, and thought to ask Lord Elrond if Anemone might not come and stay with Raven at night until the wedding. I really didn't like to think of her being alone. Watching her now, however, sitting between Northlight and Guilin with her basket of gifts, taking out the things and fondling them and smiling over them, particularly the little scroll with the poem, even if she could not read the writing, I thought perhaps it was unnecessary. But I decided to speak to Lady Elwing, just the same; maybe she could have the girl in her room at night.
And how happy SHE looked at the prospect of a new grandchild! Joy has come to her as well. My heart's desire has come full circle. And just one more week now!
The following week when we returned, Guilin was much cheerier. He said Raven was crying far less. In fact, he had only seen her cry once that week. And Donnoviel had finished her wedding-dress, and had brought it to her yesterday to try on, and she was so thrilled with it and looked so beautiful, it was all they could do to persuade her to take it off again.
And...one of the Queen's hand-maidens had caught his eye. Daeleth.
"The one with the light-chestnut hair that seems to float as thistle-down on a summer breeze," he said. "And the golden-brown eyes that glint as honey from the blooms of clover, and skin like the lining of a pearly shell with a faint tinge of rose on the delicate cheekbones, and the slender form that moves as if hearing the secret shy thrumming of the morning stars, and the smile sweeter than spring sunlight through lacy clouds. Do you know which one I mean?"
"Yes, I believe I do," I said smiling broadly. "She is a very nice girl. And I never heard you wax so poetical of Seldirima. That was quick, I must say."
"And I think she likes me," he said, dropping his voice to a whisper. "She smiles when she passes me by, whereas the others seem a little afraid of me. How much should I tell her of my past?"
"As much as she needs to know," I said. "I would recommend a middle ground—do not whitewash the facts too much, but surely there is no need to tell everything, either."
"I doubt anyone here knows much about it, apart from my sister and yourself, and you would not tell her, would you?"
"Never, but I don't think you should spare her too much. The truth has a trick of coming out in unexpected ways, particularly when unpleasant. And to quote an odd personage of whom I heard much from my cousins: Don't be hasty. Give yourself time to heal before you take any heedless and drastic steps. I dare say Daeleth knows you are interested. So let things take their natural course."
He reached over and took my hand with a gentleness I can hardly describe, covering it with both his own. Of what did that remind me??
"Thank you, little one," he said before slowly releasing it.
Sam, is it possible you can convey the news of Lady C. to Arwen? I think she would love to know. I think Aragorn would be thrilled to hear I am to be married also, although you may have a hard time making him believe I am marrying a sea-lady....
And am I seriously mistaken in thinking there is yet another on the way for you and Rosie as well?
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