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Gold Like Tears

Chapter 5: Matrimonial

by Zimraphel

4: Matrimonial

T.A. 109 – Lothlórien

“I do not think I have ever been so nervous, gwador,” said Elrond. “I almost wish myself back upon the plain of Dagorlad, with a thousand screaming Orcs bearing down upon me.”

Glorfindel smiled at the sight of the lord of Imladris fussing before the full-length mirror. “On the day of his wedding, your grandsire Tuor trembled like a maiden, even after he lost his breakfast in the privy. If you do the same, you will be in good company.”

“I do not have enough in my belly to even make that a possibility. I cannot eat a bite,” Elrond admitted.

“I knew that when I saw your breakfast tray was untouched. But still, you are trembling as badly as Tuor and you are not even about to face Turgon and the entire court of Gondolin, most of whom were whispering behind their hands that your grandmother could have done far better than to wed some rough mortal.”

Elrond paused and turned around. “They did not truly say that, did they?”

“You forget that I was there, gwador,” said Glorfindel. “I did not forget everything when I came out of Mandos.”

The peredhel’s hands nervously smoothed the front of his robe, toying with the tiny closures. His servants had dressed him in silver brocade, with tight-fitting sleeves. A dark blue velvet robe was draped over it, clasped with a brooch bearing the device of the Star of Eärendil. “Was he truly so ferocious, my great-grandsire?”

“I will say only that Turgon was not pleasant when he was displeased,” Glorfindel replied, “but what you truly mean to ask, I think, is if Celeborn and Galadriel will give you the same cold reception as your great-grandsire gave Tuor. Did they not give you and Celebrían their blessing centuries ago? If they are displeased, it will only be because you waited so long to come and claim your bride.”

Abashed, Elrond stared at the floor of the talan where he and his captain had been lodged; if anything, the richness of the guest dwelling should have been indication enough that Celeborn and Galadriel approved. “It would not have been wise to marry in a time of war,” Elrond explained. He turned back to the mirror, fussing over a bit of imaginary lint. “But you are right. I should not be so nervous, and yet I am.”

“I would imagine it is only natural to feel thus on one’s wedding day.”

“Then you have never been married? Forgive my prying, gwador, but I have always been curious if you were not wed in your previous life. I did not ask, of course, because it would have been rude and--”

“Elrond, you are rambling,” Glorfindel said gently. When the peredhel was silent again, he continued. “The answer to your question is no, I have never been wed. I have always been solitary and my heart has never turned to another, but my brother, he was a different matter altogether. You should have seen him fawn and fuss over himself before he went to pay court to your grandmother. He was thoroughly insufferable.”

Elrond gave a short laugh and for a moment seemed to forget about his anxiety. “Your brother courted my grandmother?”

“Aye, and made a fool of himself in doing so, but then half the lords in Gondolin were smitten with the Lady Idril. It was Ecthelion who named her Celebrindal, did you know? In one of the many insipid songs he composed in her honor. Ah, but here, if you do not stop fidgeting with your hair you will undo hours of work.” Glorfindel came around and firmly pulled Elrond’s hand away from his braids, which were interwoven with dozens of silver beads that glittered like raindrops.

“I am sorry, gwador.” Elrond primly clasped his hands in front of him. “It has ever been a habit of mine when nervous.”

Glorfindel gave him a tolerant smile as he tucked an errant strand of dark hair behind an ear. “If I left you to your own devices, you would unravel yourself before the hour was out.” His fingers swept over the silver beads, smoothing them into place, and registering confusion when one bead seemed out of place. “What is this now? Do not tell me Mardil was one bead short when he did your hair.”

“What is that?” Elrond put a hand to his hair, peering into the mirror to see what Glorfindel saw. “Ah, I asked him to use this one. It was a gift to me from Elros, on the day he left me.”

Elrond did not often speak of Elros, or even Gil-galad these days; those whom he had loved and lost were carefully guarded memories, treasures he did not share with any. Glorfindel understood this, for he rarely mentioned Nárello, as if to do so was to give away what little of his brother he had left. But it did not seem strange to him that Elrond should wear small, personal tokens on his wedding day; the silver circlet that bound his brow had been a gift from the High King.

“I regret that I never met Elros,” said Glorfindel. “He must have been remarkable if he was your brother.”

“We were not alike,” answered Elrond, “for all that we were twins. Elros was far more adventuresome and restless than I. He certainly would not have waited centuries to wed his beloved.”

Glorfindel touched Elros’ bead, to better see what manner of gift Elrond’s twin had made him. His fingers brushed across the carved surface, turning it to look at the image, then frowned as it became disconcertingly familiar. A four-rayed golden flower set like a face in the heart of the gold. “Elrond, you say your brother gave this to you? Where did he get it?”

“He always had it, even as a child,” said Elrond. “Why do you ask? Your face is dark all of a sudden.”

“I have seen this thing before, gwador, in my last life. Was there someone who gave it to him?”

Elrond concentrated, lifting a hand to touch the bead before Glorfindel nudged it away. “There was a servant in Mother’s house. I remember, on the day the sons of Fëanor attacked, he fled with us. He carried us across the beach, and then there was a cave….” He frowned harder, visibly straining to pull the memory across the millennia. “Elros was crying, and we were being followed. The servant wore a bead on a chain; he gave it to Elros to stop his crying.”

“What was his name, this servant who carried you from Elwing’s house?”

“I do not remember, Glorfindel. Elros used to call him Dollo or Dorno, something like that, but it was surely a pet name. Why is it so important to you?”

“Ondollo,” breathed Glorfindel.

“That was his name?”

“He was my steward in Gondolin. This bead, it was part of a set my brother had made for us. I had forgotten that I wore them for the Gates of Summer, and that Ondollo pulled one of them from my hair after we escaped the city. What became of him, after he took you to the cave?” Glorfindel took a breath, knowing that most of the survivors of the Golden Flower stayed in Sirion with Tuor and then Eärendil, and perished in the sack of the Havens. Those who survived were taken in by the sons of Fëanor but died later, of hunger and cold in the wilderness or in skirmishes against the Enemy. He did not expect Elrond to give him good news.

Elrond looked at him. “I did not see what happened, but when the Fëanorians came he told us to go to the back of the cave. I think Maedhros cut him down. He and Maglor were arguing about it afterward, though I could not tell you what they said, only that Maglor was not pleased Maedhros had done it. Elros and I were very frightened; I am surprised I remember very much at all about that day.”

“But Ondollo saved you.” Glorfindel’s eyes moved from the bead to Elrond’s face. “That is something I would have expected him to do. He cared for me and Nárello when we were young, and when we left Valinor with Fingolfin’s host he carried me across the Helcaraxë; he was always protective of us, even when we were grown. I am not surprised he stayed with you, although I had hoped otherwise. Círdan once told me that some of the survivors of Gondolin went to the isle of Balar and thence to Valinor at the end of the First Age. I had long fancied that Ondollo might have been among them.”

“I am sorry, gwador.” Elrond put his hand to his hair, fumbling for the bead to pull it loose. “I did not know it was yours, though in hindsight perhaps I should have. A golden flower, how could it not belong to you? If you wish it, I will—”

“Nay, I do not ask for it. It was a gift to you from your brother and I would not take such a thing from you on your wedding day. Keep it or bestow it as you will, but such a token of sad times I do not wish to have returned to me.”

Elrond let his hand fall. “Are you certain?”

“You know me well enough to know I set no value upon gold or jewels, and there is to me a certain sadness in that gold. It was a gift to me from my brother, even as it was a gift to you from yours. I may yet see Nárello again in the Undying Lands, but Elros…. Nay, keep it and remember his love for you.”

* * *
The day had passed like a dream, an ephemeral haze through which Elrond moved and spoke. Or at least he thought he spoke. His voice seemed so distant to him it might have belonged to someone else. He scarcely remembered speaking the marriage vow, or what his bride’s parents might have said to him afterward. At the end of it, he recalled, Celeborn had drawn him aside with an understanding smile and suggested that he take his new wife to the bridal chamber.

Now, as he and Celebrían lay in a tangle of robes and sated limbs, Elrond felt reality come back to him. Or rather, he began to slide back into it, one kiss and caress at a time.

“I still cannot quite believe we are here,” he murmured into her hair.

Shifting in the bed, Celebrían gave him an impish grin. “So long did you wait I had begun to think you rather preferred to remain a bachelor.”

“Nay, say rather that I did not wish to be wed while Sauron’s evil still darkened this Middle-earth,” answered Elrond. “I think Ereinion was of the same mind, from the few times he mentioned marriage to me.”

“Think you he would have found a bride in this time of peace?”

“Perhaps,” he said. “I would like to think so.”

She took a strand of his hair and twined it in her fingers, a dreamy look upon her face. The silver beads had been removed, while an impatient Elrond fretted and threatened to go into the bridal chamber with his hair half-undone. “Let us not speak of such sad things on this day. Hmmm, it seems as if your servants missed a few beads, meldo. Were you so impatient then, that you could not wait?” She sat up and ran her hands through his hair. “Here, let me remove them before they become so snarled we have to cut them out. I should not like to have to take shears to this lovely hair of yours.”

Twining his fingers in her silver hair, he pulled her mouth down to his for a kiss. A moment later, he broke away as her fingers snagged a large tangle. “Ai! Must you be so cruel?”

She clucked under her tongue as she pulled one of the beads from his hair. He winced at the pulling of his scalp. “I think you would rather have me bald, lady.”

“Oh, do not be such a baby, meldo.” Celebrían looked at the bead between her fingers, holding it up to the candlelight. “This is a pretty thing, though it does not match your other ornaments.”

Pulling her hand to him, he saw she held the little golden flower. “Elros gave that to me. It is very old.”

“Is it?” she asked. “I did not know you had such mementoes of him.”

“There are other things, jewels and books he sent me from Númenor, but this he gave me the day we parted. It was the closest to his heart, and thus the most dear to me.”

Celebrían gazed down at him, studying him with eyes very much like her mother’s. “You miss him very much,” she said.

“I do not know why he left me,” Elrond replied. “I have told myself that it was in his nature to be restless, that he had more affinity with mortals than I, but I have never known if that was true. I have always thought that he was somehow angry with me, or that it is somehow my lot that all whom I love are fated to leave me.”

“Oh, now you are being silly.” She put a finger to his lips, bending down to kiss away his protests. He struggled for a moment, then grasped her shoulders and returned the kiss.

The bead rolled away into the bedclothes, forgotten among the rumpled sheets and discarded wedding clothes.

* * *
gwador: (Sindarin) friend, brother (as in associate)
meldo: (Quenya) lover


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Chapter name
30 Nov 2003
Last Edited
30 Nov 2003