Ambir A Míl: Hope and Love
"Celeb Amaurea" (Silver Dawn)
"Ambir A Míl" (Hope and Love)Mary woke early in the morning, and for a moment did not move, gazing up at the dark canopy of leaves above her. A strange bird cried out in the distance, and a squirrel suddenly ran above her, leaping from one branch to the next and disappearing into the darkness with a clattering of leaves. She heard the quiet of the river, running smooth and clear through the forest of Mirkwood as though it had not a care in the world, and with a silent sigh she rose to her feet and went to it, feeling the dampness of the earth beneath her bare feet as she stood on the bank, and the water running clear and cold over her skin, freezing her to the bone as though it were made of ice. Silently she laid her parcel on the ground, and spread out a blanket, and then she stepped in, staying on the edge where the current could not catch her, and she lowered her fair and hardened body into its depths until it lapped at her chin. She shivered, but she held her breath and her nose and dipped under the surface, rising up with a gasp, water droplets spraying through the air as she shook her head, like crystal. Wiping the water from her eyes she reached for the bank and picked up a small bar of soap, wrapped in linen, which she had bought from a washerwoman in Edoras. With this she lathered her hands and her arms and shoulders, and washed herself, and then she rubbed it upon her hair and lathered her scalp. Tipping her head back she washed the soap away, and felt the cleanness of her skin and hair once it was gone. Then she reached once again for the bank, and in the parcel she pulled out a razor, and quickly used it till her skin was smooth and clear. Then, returning it to the parcel, she once more held her breath and disappeared under the surface. Rising, she shook her head, and spit out water, and then pulled a towel from the parcel, and rising from the water she wrapped it around herself and sat upon the blanket. A small bottle of oil she then withdrew, and with care she oiled her arms and her legs and her skin, and breathed in its scent like juniper berries. She had bought this too, in Minas Tirith, and saved it for just this day.
When her skin was dry, and her hair only a little damp, a final time did she reach for her parcel. Upon the blanket she rested shoes and a dress, folded carefully, and then the small bundle she had carried with her when she had first left Minas Tirith, intent on leaving all behind. From this she withdrew the silver circlet with the golden leaves. Standing she let the towel fall, and she pulled the shoes upon her feet, and then lifted the dress. It was of a rich red, like the berries that grew in the forest in early autumn, and its silken material was soft against her skin. Upon her head she set the circlet, and then she gathered her things together and returned to camp. Gimli had left them a day earlier, to continue on to his home on the other side of Mirkwood.
As she neared their camp her thoughts strayed to the imminent meeting with Thranduil, and her stomach tightened and fluttered, and she paused a moment to take a breath.
"Le vanya." You (are) beautiful.
Mary jumped, every muscle in her body starting, and she turned with her hand over her heart to see Legolas standing behind her, a soft smile on his face. "Legolas! Le scared nin." she exclaimed, even as she smiled in relief. Legolas! You scared me.
He looked at her in amusement. "So now you are mixing elvish with common speech?"
"I call it Grelvish." She said matter-of-factly. "Besides, I couldn't think of the word."
The corner of his mouth pulled to one side, and Mary smiled, then reached up and pushed his golden hair from his shoulder. Such actions were little things, but still she felt nervous doing them, as they seemed to be intimate– especially now, with Legolas.
His look was kind and warm with feeling as she withdrew her hand, and he caught it and held it, his fingers gentle upon hers. "Are you nervous?"
Mary nodded. "I am." She turned then, and walked away from him, and set her parcel upon Ædelstan, who stood ready for her. For a moment she was silent, her brows pulled together and her mouth pursed in pensive thought. "Legolas," she said quietly. "Do you have any siblings?"
Behind her Legolas eyed her curiously. "No, I do not." He was silent a moment. "My mother was killed by a band of orcs soon after I was born." He said, and his voice was distant with the memory.
Mary turned around, her eyes wide. "I'm so sorry." She said. "I did not mean…" She stopped as he looked at her, his eyes reassuring, and smiled. Then her gaze dropped to the ground for a moment, and when she looked up her brows were together yet again. "It's just– it just occurred to me that he might not approve of his only son giving up his immortality."
For a moment Legolas's blue eyes widened, and then he laughed, and it filled the air clear and ringing. Mary stared at him in confusion, her mouth hanging open, and then she glanced over her shoulder, and then over the other one, and finally down at herself, and finding nothing amiss she turned to glare at him. "What?" she demanded, and her hand went to her cheek. "Do I have something on my face?"
Legolas shook his head, his laughter subsiding even as it remained in his eyes as he looked at her fondly. "Nay, meld er." He said. "Your face is as fair as ever. Yet I should have told you–" he walked to her, and took her hands in his even as she looked up at him with questioning eyes. "The day an elf binds their heart to a mortal is the day they forsake their immortality."
"But we have not yet wed."
"The ceremony is not needed for the binding to happen." Legolas explained gently.
Mary's eyes widened in sudden understanding, and amazement filled her gaze. "You have… And you are not…"
Legolas smiled, and gently held her cheek, his thumb brushing her skin. "No, Mary. I am not mortal."
She blinked, trying to understand. "But, I am. How…" her question trailed off.
"I do not know." Legolas said. "But then much has happened that I do not understand."
Then a light entered her eyes, and she laughed in relief, pressing a hand to her mouth as her eyes closed. "I was so afraid…" she whispered. Then, collecting herself, she lowered her hand and looked up at him. "I'm so glad."
He chuckled. Then, setting his hands to her waist, he lifted her onto Ædelstan so that she sat sidesaddle, and took up the reins in her hands. Swinging onto Arod's back Legolas guided him to her side, and he smiled. "Are you ready, meld er?"
Mary returned his smile. "I am."
As they rode along the banks of the river, Mary was silent, thinking. Then suddenly she asked, "When is your birthday? In Shire reckoning?"
Legolas glanced at her in surprise, his eyes seeming to glow slightly with starlight in the shadows of the forest. "I– why in Shire reckoning?"
"Because that is how I know dates and time." She admitted.
His brows drew together in thought. "You ask me a difficult question."
The corner of her mouth lifted. "You don't know when you were born?"
He studiously ignored the jest, which only served to make her laugh, and he shook his head. "It is not a calendar I am the most familiar with," he said. "But I believe… it would be the first month, on the ninth day."
Mary nodded. "January ninth. So in exactly four months, you will be…?"
Legolas glanced at her from the corner of his eyes, and then a slow smile spread across his face. Drawing Arod close to Ædelstan, he leaned over, and whispered in her ear. When he pulled back Mary leaned back and looked at him, up and down, and then she grinned. "You still look good."
"And what of you?" he asked.
"Me?" Mary said. "Well, I'm not nearly so mature as you, but on November twenty-first I will be twenty-two." Then she frowned. "Or two and a score years. However you want to say it."
He nodded. "And how do you celebrate birthdays?"
"With cake and candles and presents." Mary answered immediately. She smiled. "There is a desert we make, and then we have these very, very small candles, and we put them in the top of the cake– the same number to match your age– and then you make a wish, and blow them out. If you blow all of them out, your wish comes true."
"And if not?"
He nodded. Then he looked above them, and straightened. "We have arrived."
Mary glanced up, but she saw nothing, yet she thought she heard movement in the branches above them, but the sound was so slight she could not be sure. Then ahead she suddenly saw a bridge that spanned the wide expanse of the river, and on the other side, flanked by beech trees that marched down to the water itself, were great stone steps and large stone doors with wrought metal upon them. The doors were open, and all upon the steps were gathered a great company of elves, and the king's guard stood upon the bridge on either side. Thranduil himself stood at the far end of the bridge, holding his carved oaken staff, and he wore a mantel of forest green, and upon his head he wore a crown of red berries and leaves. His golden hair gleamed in the torchlight, and his grey eyes were warm and glowing as they lit on his son. Spreading his arms wide he stepped forward with great joy, rushing to meet them as they reached the bridge and stepped onto it.
"Legolas, my son!" he exclaimed. "May Eru be praised!"
Legolas dismounted Arod and met his father, who enveloped him in a tight embrace. "Father!"
Thranduil closed his eyes. "Hannon in Valar le rinn-na nin!" he whispered. Thank the Valar you (were) returned to me! He pulled back and clasped his son's shoulders, and there were tears in his eyes. Then he looked up, and his gaze met Mary's, and releasing Legolas he stepped forward. "Suilaid, Híril Mary." He said. "Lí tulan darth-meren." Greetings, Lady Mary. Your coming (was) most joyously awaited.
Mary smiled, and bowed her head. "Inye darthan mín govanneth as glas, nin hir." I also waited our meeting with joy, my lord.
Legolas moved to her side, and lifted her from Ædelstan's back and set her lightly on her feet upon the bridge. His eyes were soft and reassuring as she looked up at him, and she smiled, then stepped forward. Thranduil took her hands in his, clasping them.
"We have heard much strange news these past few weeks," he said. "Here in the Green Wood. Yet none so strange or wonderful as the tale our messengers brought of the Prophetess and my son." He smiled as she blushed. "Come," he declared, releasing her with one hand to clasp Legolas' shoulder. "A feast has been prepared in celebration of your arrival!"
So with much laughter and singing and playing upon instruments they entered the elven king's halls, and Arod and Ædelstan were taken to the stables to be cared for. There was fruit and berries and nuts and wine, and meat upon great spits that turned over greater fires, and bread and sweet desserts that were rare and wonderful, and music and singing and laughter and dancing filled the halls and the forest beyond. Legolas told the story of the Fellowship and the War of the Ring to all of the great company, and he told of Mary, and she was held in reverence. Then, when all the story had been said, Legolas sat beside his father, and his face became grave.
"There is yet one more thing I would speak to you about, Father." He said.
Thranduil looked at his son, and saw that it was to be a serious thing he would say. "I am listening."
In a quiet voice Legolas spoke of his love for Mary, and hers for him. "I would wed her, Father." He said. "And I would do it with your blessing."
Thranduil regarded his son with serious grey eyes, his chin resting upon his fingers as he leaned back in his carved wooden throne. His chiseled, fair face revealed nothing of his thoughts, and for a moment Legolas felt doubt that his father would acquiesce. Yet Thranduil saw in Legolas's blue eyes the love that he bore, and he had seen it too in Mary's eyes as she had looked upon his son, and he smiled, and straightening he leaned forward and set his hand upon Legolas' arm. "Then wed her." He said. "And be blessed, my son."
Legolas smiled, and his heart was glad, and he clasped his father's hand in gratefulness. Then he turned to look across the hall to Mary, standing as a scarlet flame amidst a group of elves as she played upon a stringed instrument, and feeling his gaze she looked up and caught his eyes, and read there his joy, and she smiled as she realized the cause of it.
Thranduil patted his son's shoulder, his heart overflowing with pride and happiness, and then he stood. As he motioned with his hand Mary excused herself from the group of elves and came to him, and stood before him with Legolas. All in the hall grew silent, voices hushed. "This day we have gathered to celebrate the return of my son and your prince," Thranduil said. "But I would speak ere the night is over of tidings that have brought me great joy. Hear then all my guests, fair folk of the Woodland Realm, Legolas, my son and Prince of the Greenwood, has asked the Lady Mary, Prophetess and Healer, to be his wife, and she has accepted. Therefore, they shall be trothplighted before you all!" He looked at them both, and smiled. "May your days together be most blessed." He said.
Then the elves there gave a great cheer and drank to them and were glad, and garlands were brought to them, and wreaths of green leaves and berries were set upon their heads. Mary laughed and was merry, and Legolas was glad to see her filled with such joy.
Their marriage day was set for mid-winter, just before the start of the winter festivals. All in the Woodland Realm were glad, and the elves made much preparation, for Thranduil would have it be a celebration the likes of which had never before been seen in his kingdom or any other.Mary wandered through the halls one evening, after the fall feasting, and as she did so she came across a statue of an elven maid. Her tresses were long and flowed over her shoulders and down her back, and she wore a crown of laurel, and her face was fair and her smile gentle. Mary paused before it, and studied the beautiful face, and she was sure she had seen the maiden somewhere before.
Behind her there was a step, and Thranduil stood at her side, his hands clasped behind his back. His gaze as he looked upon the statue was quiet and thoughtful, as though lost in some distant memory. "Laegeryn." He said, and breathed in deep and released it, smiling softly. "Never have I loved so deeply as I loved Laegeryn."
Mary's eyes turned to him quickly, and widened slightly in realization.
Thranduil looked at her, and smiled. "You see her in Legolas, do you not? It is her beauty he shares, and her eyes. Her eyes were as blue as the sea, and her hair as dark as night. She loved the woods, but also she loved to travel and see new places and new people." He turned back to the statue. "It is her nature Legolas shares, also." He smiled still, but his eyes grew sad. "It was when Legolas was still but a child." He said quietly. "She was traveling to visit our kin in the Golden Wood, when a party of orcs attacked her company."
Mary said nothing, but her dark eyes never left the king.
"One of our border patrols heard the attack and sped to their side, and with their aid the orcs were defeated. But Laegeryn–" he paused as his voice faltered. "Laegeryn could not be saved," he said. "Though the healers used the full extent of their knowledge and skill."
Mary dropped her gaze. "I am sorry."
Thranduil turned to her, and he smiled. "You have her eyes." He said. "And her hair." He set a hand on her shoulder, and his gaze was warm and kind. "You make my son very happy." He said. "I have not seen such joy in him for a thousand years." He smiled again at her.
Mary blushed, and tipped her head. "Thank you, my lord." They were silent then, for a while, and then she asked: "Why is her likeness kept here, in this distant passage?"
At first Thranduil did not answer, and she was afraid she had angered him. Then he said: "The hurt of her loss has been ever like a thorn in my heart. For these many long years it has pained me to see her likeness, yet for a while now it has become less. Perhaps I am forgetting her."
Mary looked up at the statue, her mind pondering over his words, and it seemed to her that the statue of Laegeryn was almost alive as the torchlight danced across her face. "Set her in the light." She suddenly said, her voice soft and quiet. "Let her face be seen and remembered, and her memory cherished."
Later she found Legolas in the now empty Hall, sitting quietly and deep in thought before the fire in the great fire pit in the center. For a moment Mary waited, watching him, and saw how very much he looked like his mother. Legolas looked up at her, and smiled, and swiftly stood. Crossing the Hall he came to her side, and gently took her hand. "Suilad, melda." He said. Greetings, beloved.
Mary smiled, and hesitating only a moment, reached up to gently touch his cheek. "Suilad, nin melethron." Greetings, my lover.
The corner of his mouth lifted.
For a moment Mary just gazed at him. "Cerile enyalir mín erui govannen?" Do you remember when we first met?
Legolas nodded. "Le rúcin na nin." he said, then he smiled. "A maquenos núnaur." You (were a) confusion to me. And (still) asking about birthdays.
She laughed. "Cerile anír hîn?" she suddenly asked. Do you want children?
Legolas stared at her, then nodded with a bemused expression. "É. Aiqua an ceri-maquenle ?" Yes. Whatever for do you ask?
She just smiled, her eyes shining at his response, and she set her hands to his shoulders, looking up into his face. "Man." she said. "Ten, sui firen, imuva tanca garlimb." Good. Because, as (a) human, I'll surely have many.Gimli rode beside Aragorn and Arwen, seated on a small dark pony that was old and patient and easy to guide. He pulled his great fur-lined cloak close about him, the deep red hood pulled over his head as snow drifted down in patches through the dark canopy overhead, leaving spots of dusted snow and pure white drifts here and there on the forest floor. All along the Old Forest Road, the path had been lined with green garland and wreaths of red winter berries. "It is a good season for them to be wed." Gimli said.
"Indeed." Aragorn agreed, watching as a white stag suddenly leapt from the trees ahead of them and then stood in the center of the road, his dark eyes keen. Then he disappeared into the trees on the other side.
"There is a magic in the air." Arwen said, her grey eyes scanning the forest with wonder. She wore a silver crown upon her head with a white jewel at its center, which shone as a star upon her forehead.
"I have heard that there is going to be feasting for a week," Gimli said. "And there is to be music and dancing and wine, and gifts to all who attend."
Aragorn nodded, pulling his blue cloak with its grey fur lining close about him. He wore his winged crown, and was dressed in a tunic with the white tree and stars of Gondor upon his chest. "Thranduil is one who loves to feast and to celebrate," he said. "And Legolas is his only child."
"Hm." Gimli glanced above, and absently stroked at his carefully combed and braided beard, then took up the reins again with both hands. "Will we see the hobbits there, do you think?"
"Yes; and they are there already, with Gandalf too, I wager."
They arrived at the bridge, whose sides were also lined with garland and red berries, and there waited for them elven archers, and one of them held a horn to his lips and sounded a call that echoed through the forest. The great stone doors opened with a rumbling, and firelight and torchlight spilled out onto the snow in golden rays. The elven king came out, a crown of golden leaves upon his head and set with gems of red and green and amber, and behind him was Legolas and Mary, and the elven court.
A herald then moved forward on a grey horse, holding high the Western King's banner, and he cried: "Behold Aragorn son of Arathorn, The Elfstone, of the line of Valandil, Isildur's son, Elendil's son of Númenor. Bearer of the Star of the North, Wielder of the Sword Reforged. Behold the King of Gondor, Elessar, Lord of the West and ruler of Men!"
"Welcome, Elessar, King!" Thranduil spread out his arms. "Welcome to the Woodland Realm. May your time here be merry and blessed!"
When all such formalities had been observed, and Gimli greeted and welcomed in like manner, the entire host was led inside while the horses were taken and cared for, and Thranduil led his guests to the Great Hall where he offered them drink and a seat before the great fire in the center of the Hall. Against the wall, where the light was the strongest, was a tall statue of a fair elven woman, and upon her head had been laid a wreath of green with red berries. Before this stood four little people, gazing up at it and discussing the wreath.
"I don't know," Pippin said. "I think the wreath makes her look quite cheerful, don't you?"
"Yes; it does that." Sam agreed, nodding his head thoughtfully.
"I'm just saying it's a little odd to be putting wreaths that are supposed to hang on doors on statues heads." Merry said, shrugging his shoulders as he lifted his hands with their palms up.
Pippin looked affronted. "Well I only just thought of it this morning!" he said. "There wasn't exactly a lot of time to go and make one."
"I think it's festive." Frodo decided, looking up at the statue of Laegeryn and trying to contain his laughter as his cousins continued to bicker.
Gandalf entered the Hall and glanced at the hobbits, then shook his head in fond exasperation, and continued on across the room. "Aragorn! Arwen! Gimli." He said, holding out his hands. "It is good to see you again."
"Gandalf." Aragorn smiled, and the men embraced, and Gimli pushed back his hood and looked around in amazement at the intricate stone pillars of the elven king's hall.
"This is good work." He commented, pulling at his beard. "This place has good bones, good stone."
Thranduil bowed his head. "That is a high compliment coming from one who knows rock and stone better than any here."
Gimli looked at him in surprise. In truth he had expected more hostility from the elven king, especially given the history between him and Gimli's kin. He tipped his head. "I thank you for your hospitality, Thranduil, King of the Greenwood." He said. "May your halls be ever bright and your leaves ever green."
Legolas watched the exchange, and relief and contentment was in his face as it became clear that his talk with both Gimli, and then his father, had done a little to heal the rift between their two peoples. Mary, dressed in her scarlet and looking like a fire come to warm the Hall, slid her hand into his and leaned close. "Mae ceria, melnin." Well done, my love.
"Aragorn! Gimli!" Suddenly the hobbits came running from across the Hall, with Pippin in the lead, and there was much laughter and talk as they greeted the new arrivals. When all had said hello Aragorn turned, his eyes searching, until he found Legolas and Mary. Smiling he walked to them, and they to him, and Gimli as well, and they all embraced and were glad.
That night Mary sat in her room, wrapped in a long towel of pale cream, her feet in a basin of water scented with oils. She had bathed, and now took up a jeweled comb and proceeded to run it through her long, dark tresses. There was a quiet knock on her door. "Ai na ha?" she called. Who is it?
"Ha na Arwen." It is Arwen.
"Oh! Tulesse." Oh! Come in.
The door opened, and the fair, dark-haired elven queen entered, and closed the door behind her. She approached Mary, a small smile upon her face. "How are you?"
Mary chuckled. "Nervous." She admitted.
Arwen smiled. "Yes," she nodded, pulling up a stool and sitting on it. "Tomorrow is an important day. A good day."
Mary nodded, holding the comb in her lap. "I have loved him for so long." She confided quietly, and happiness shone in her eyes. "When I lived in my old world, and I read Tolkien's record of the War– I felt as if I knew him."
Arwen listened, her eyes soft.
"I fell in love with him then." Mary laughed. "A character, in a story. Then I found myself here, and when I met him–" she shook her head. "He was everything, and nothing, like I thought he would be. I just–" she smiled. "I cannot believe that tomorrow, I shall wed him. It is greater than I could have dared to hope!"
Arwen smiled, her grey eyes shining with understanding. "You are blessed to have found such happiness."
A blush crept into Mary's cheeks, and she smiled. "Do you wish to see the ring I have for him?" she asked suddenly.
Pulling her feet from the basin, Mary stood and went to a small table, leaving wet foot prints on the floor. On the table rested a small mirror, her circlet, and an ornately carved wooden box. Opening the box she pulled out another, very small wooden box, with three carven leaves on the lid, and this she carried back to Arwen, and sat down on the edge of her chair, and opened it. Within was a silver ring, set with forest green emerald, with wrought silver knotting and weaving across it as a flowering vine. And within there were words, cunningly engraved: 'Ambir Nai Cuilo Míl.'
Hope is the Life of Love.
Arwen held the ring gently on the palm of her hand, and then with her fair fingers as she read the inscription. "Írima." She said, her grey eyes alight with approval. "A most beautiful ring, Mary." She said, handing it back.
Mary took it, and for a moment her eyes faltered. "Do you think he will like it?"
Arwen laughed, and it was light pure music ringing softly through the air. "Yes, Mary." She said. "It is a ring most beautiful."
Mary smiled in relief, and put it back in the box and closed the lid, and held it in her hands. "I wasn't sure." She admitted. Then she laughed. "Though I suppose the night before is a little late to be asking such a question. What could be done?"
A smile graced Arwen's face, and she stood. "Idhesse sídh, Mary." She said. Rest in peace, Mary.
Mary looked up at her gratefully. "Idh mae, Arwen." Rest well, Arwen.
After the elven queen had left, Mary returned the ring to her jewelry box, and then laid the towel across the back of the chair and slipped her nightdress on, and laid down upon her bed and pulled the blankets over her. At first she did not believe she could sleep, but soon her dreams closed her eyes, and she rested.All within the halls was chaos and activity as servants rushed from here to there finishing the last minute preparations. Garlands were strung and fires blazed and the kitchens set bread and sweet desserts to cooking and pudding to boiling and meat to roasting, and Galion, Thranduil's butler, brought up the king's best wine from the cellars. Nuts and dried fruits and berries were set out on great platters, and baked into sweet treats and puddings. Birds and other beasts were stuffed with nuts and savory herbs and basted in rich sauces and set over fires.
Thranduil, dressed in all his finest of green and red, found Legolas still in his rooms. He had dressed in soft boots of grey and a blue shirt, and was now tying closed a pure white robe embroidered all over with leaves and flowers and trailing vines. His golden hair hung shining down his back, with only a single braid to hold it back from his face, and was clasped at the end with a silver oak leaf. "Are you not yet ready, Legolas?" Thranduil asked.
"Nay. But give me a moment more, and I will be." Legolas answered, looking up as he secured a white belt about his waist, embroidered all with blue thread.
Thranduil smiled, and going to the bed he took up the outer robe with its shorter sleeves that were made to resemble leaves. It was all the palest blue, and embroidered with silver thread along the edges where it laced shut, and along the high collar. Holding it up Thranduil helped his son to put it on, and lace it, and at the collar was set a small silver broach.
Then upon his head Thranduil set a silver circlet, the same he had worn at Aragorn's wedding, and then he looked upon his son and smiled. "Now you are ready." He said.
Legolas held up a finger, and he turned to a small table, on which rested a small ornately carved box, and this he took up in his hand.
"Is that the ring?"
Legolas nodded, and opened the box for his father to see. In it was a ring of mithril, set with white and shining stones all in a cluster with a diamond at the center, so as to resemble a cluster of stars. And within was inscribed: 'Sui Ambir Na naMíl, Ná Le Na Nin.'
As Hope Is To Love, So You (Are) To Me.
Thranduil held the ring, his eyes glowing with approval and appreciation. "This is good work. Rauddan has outdone himself." He said. And he handed the ring back to Legolas, and smiled. "You have done well, Legolas."
"Thank you, Father." Legolas returned the ring to the box, and set it in the band of his belt, then he stood for a moment, and said nothing, yet a sadness passed over his face. "I wish Mother were hear to see this day." He finally said quietly.
Tears shone in Thranduil's eyes, and he set his hands to Legolas's shoulders. "So do I, my son." He said, and his voice was thick. "So do I." And for a moment they stood there together, sharing in their grief, and then they straightened and set it aside, and the light of joy and excitement filled them, and Legolas's eyes began to burn with some inner fire, and he smiled.
"I am ready."
The Hall was full, from one wall to the next, and spilling into the halls beyond. Never before had there been a gathering such as this before in the Woodland Realm, nor was there to be again. Firelight and torchlight filled the room with a golden glow, and Aragorn and his queen, Gandalf and the hobbits, and Gimli all stood at the front of the gathering, facing the elven king's wooden throne. Thranduil arrived with Legolas, and all in the Hall grew quiet. Yet Thranduil did not speak, but rather stood before his throne, with Legolas before him, and he watched a door to his right with anticipation. The door opened, and there was a breath from the crowd, and the hobbits' eyes grew wide, for through it stepped a vision. She was dressed all in crushed white velvet, and her sleeves were winged and sheer and brocaded at the top and encrusted with pearls, and all along her neck was brocade and pearls. She wore a mantle of star-strewn white. Her hair hung long and dark down her back, and upon her head she wore mithril wrought in the likeness of a butterfly, with stars upon it and hanging into her hair, and upon her forehead. Forward she came, and her eyes were bright, and a smile was upon her face. Legolas's gaze grew intense as he looked at her, and warm with love, and he smiled as she stood before him.
"This day we have gathered here, and never has there been a gathering so great as this, to bear witness to the marriage of my son and your crown prince, Legolas, and his bride, the Lady Mary." Thranduil said. Then he turned to Legolas, and motioned with his hand.
Legolas removed the box from his belt, and took from it the ring, and as he set it upon her finger he said: "Im Legolas, estathar le Mary, sui hervess nín. Gerich velethnín a guil nín al lû bân. This I promise before Eru Ilúvatar." I Legolas, will name you Mary, as my wife. You have my love and my life for all time.
Mary smiled, and was radiant, and then she held up her ring, which she had held carefully in her hand, and as she placed it upon his finger she repeated: "Im Mary, estathar le Legolas, sui hervennen nín. Gerich velethnín a guil nín al lû bân. This I promise before Eru Ilúvatar." I Mary, will name you Legolas, as my husband.You have my love and my life for all time.
Then she pulled from her belt a jewel most beautiful, set into a broach, and of the color of the forest, and she said: "I know it is the custom for the bride's mother to give a jewel. But I have no mother. So I give you this jewel, Legolas, to wear, as a sign of my love for you."
Then Thranduil raised his hands, and set them upon their heads. "Now you are promised to each other as husband and wife." He smiled, and his joy was great. "May your days be blessed."
Mary smiled, and there were tears of happiness in her eyes then, and as the Hall erupted into cheering and singing and music, Legolas took her face gently in his hands. "Im mel-le." he whispered, his lips curved in a gentle smile. I love you.
Her lips parted, and her eyes shone. Smiling, her cheeks flushed, she gently touched his cheek. "Inye mel-le, Legolas. Sie meld." I also love you, Legolas. So dearly.
Legolas smiled then, his slow, full smile that spread across his face and lit his eyes like the sun, and he leaned down, holding her face in his hands, and as the Hall celebrated around them, he kissed her.