The new arrivals entered the glade cautiously, relieved to see that the battle merely a sparring contest with only two participants engaged in swordplay. The four Elves who had accompanied Haldir were relaxing beneath the shade of the trees, enjoying their wine as they watched the skilled swordsmen. The march warden was momentarily startled by the glint of sunlight from Glorfindel’s blade, and in that brief instant of distraction found his own sword was no longer in his hand but on the ground at his feet.
“Well done, my Lord!” exclaimed one of the Galadhrim, his congratulations swiftly echoed by the others. It was rare to see their patrol leader defeated, even in practice.
“The round goes to you, my lord,” conceded Haldir with a small bow as Celeborn clasped him affectionately on the shoulder.
“Aye, ‘twas well fought, Haldir but even when sparring one must not allow any distractions, as you well know,” replied Celeborn as he donned the tunic he had removed before taking his turn at practice. Haldir did likewise and to the amusement of all, both attempted to smooth their dishevelled hair back into place.
“I believe it was our timely appearance that saved you from defeat, Celeborn. To my eyes Haldir was about to best you,” said Glorfindel as he bent down to retrieve the fallen sword and hand it back to the march warden.
“It would not have been the first time,” admitted the elder elf, now looking a little more like the Lord of the Golden Wood than one of his warriors. Celeborn turned his attention to the others, greeting Erestor and Legolas in the elvish manner of hand over heart, and Elrohir and Elladan with a warm embrace.
“Should you two not be assisting your sister in her wedding preparations?” he asked when the group settled beneath the shade of the trees where Haldir was also now relaxing.
“Not when she wishes us to stand around wearing her bridal veil whilst the finishing touches are sewn to it!” declared Elladan vehemently glaring at the laughter his words elicited from his Lothlorien friends.
“By the Valar, what made her suggest such an unseemly task?” Celeborn shook his head in disbelief.
“I believe Glorfindel is best able to answer that question,” replied Erestor dryly. The seneschal‘s poorly feigned look of innocence fooled no one and he quickly recounted the morning’s adventure.
“So am I to understand that fear of the sweet Undomiel is your reason for wandering the countryside?” Celeborn asked with amusement glittering in his eyes.
“Not fear, but discretion. You spoke wisely when you said this particular task was unseemly,” replied Erestor as he accepted the goblet of wine he was offered.
“What do you mean, my dear Advisor?” asked Glorfindel curiously. Sometimes the workings of his friend’s mind were totally unfathomable.
“You know how quickly gossip travels the city, and how popular the young ones have become with the maidens. However, we are also held in some suspicion of being able to sway Men’s thoughts with enchantments, as ridiculous as it may sound. Thus it is not appropriate for Elladan and Elrohir to be placed in a position that could be held to ridicule, especially when acceptance of a Peredhel queen is not assured. The same applies to Legolas, who although well regarded as one of the Walkers, is also a close friend of a King who has not yet gained full allegiance of many in his kingdom. As for the rest of us, we must maintain our dignity at all times.”
“Ai, I had not considered it in that light, political intrigue is not to my liking. I prefer my battles to be more open,” admitted Glorfindel, his brow creasing in mild concern as he noticed Celeborn had closed his eyes. After a moment he seemed to recover and Glorfindel realised he had been farspeaking with Galadriel.
“Which is why I am the Advisor and you are the seneschal.” He heard Erestor say with a hint of pride in both of their roles.
“I certainly understand proper courtly behaviour, but the cold stone of the city is not to my liking,” said Legolas. “I also relished the chance to spend some time among the trees.”
“I understand completely, my patrol and I already yearn to return to the beauty of the Golden Wood,” Haldir concurred, smiling as his companions nodded their agreement.
“I suppose the need to hear the song of the trees is also your reason for being away from the city, Grandada?” asked Elrohir with a mischievous wink at his brother who spoke before Celeborn had a chance to reply.
“Or perhaps you too wished to avoid being asked for assistance?”
“Aye, I admit to delight in spending a day in the forest, and since I have suffered through Galadriel organising three weddings already, I have learned that it is prudent to keep well away. Our sweet ladies are behaving rather strangely, as is their wont at such a joyous time, so it is best not to offend by refusing to assist, should they manage to find you, of course. However, I can tell you that there is no longer a need to fear your return to the city, for my Lady informs me that Lindir, who, as it happens, is rather fond of the seamstress, accepted the task you were all avoiding, and all is well.” Much merry and relieved laughter resulted from the light hearted reply, but after a few moments of silent contemplation, Elrohir raised a question.
“You said three weddings Grandada… I assume you mean your own, and Nana’s, but whose was the third?”
“Perhaps it is best if Glorfindel tells that tale, for he was there from the beginning,” said Celeborn deferring to the seneschal who was smiling brightly as he recalled the event. Indicating he required a refill of his goblet before speaking, Glorfindel waited until all were comfortably settled before he began his tale.
“When Thranduil and Elisiel announced their intention to marry, Celebrían, who was newly wed to Elrond and a close friend of your Naneth, Legolas, was delighted to be asked to assist in the preparations.” He looked to the younger elf who acknowledged that he was aware of the relationship with a nod. “I lead the party that escorted her to the Greenwood several months before the wedding day, and Haldir naturally escorted Galadriel, who was also to assist her daughter’s friend.”
“Elrond and I had both been at Celebrían’s and Galadriel’s mercy during the preparations for his wedding and very wisely decided to delay our arrival in Greenwood until the last possible moment,” interjected Celeborn with outright smugness for their cleverness.
“Totally understandable,” commented Erestor who knew the story, but was enjoying listening to Glorfindel retell it. He had begun to realise that perhaps preparations for this special occasion were best left to the ladies.
“There almost was no wedding, but fortunately for you, Legolas, Glorfindel and I managed to save the day,” added Haldir, deliberately choosing to be enigmatic. Legolas’s eyes widened with shock at this revelation.
“What happened?” he asked as Haldir and Glorfindel exchanged a knowing glance.
“Should we tell him?” teased Haldir. The seneschal rubbed his chin as if reconsidering continuing the story.
“Of course you must!” Legolas demanded in a most uncourtly manner.
“We want to know as well!” Chorused Elladan and Elrohir, who were also intrigued to hear what happened.
“As you wish.” Glorfindel acquiesced, albeit taking an agonisingly slow sip of his wine before he continued.
“As Celeborn said earlier, the ladies were behaving rather strangely, and insisted that Thranduil wear robes that were, as he put it, “far too elaborate, and something only a Noldo would wear”. The more they implored him to wear them, the more stubbornly he refused. Finally he and the normally sweet tempered Elisiel had quite a loud argument during which Thranduil threatened to lock all three ladies in his dungeon if that was the only way he could find some respite from their persistence.” Everyone burst into fits of laughter at the image, and even Legolas could not hide a snicker of amusement. Such a threat was certainly one he had heard on several of the occasions his own behaviour had made his Adar’s patience had reach its limits.
“Elisiel then declared that perhaps her choice of a husband had not been all that wise, and Thranduil rashly responded by declaring he no longer wished to marry,” said Haldir. “Elisiel ran off, weeping bitterly, with Celebrían and Galadriel following to comfort her after they had both favoured Thranduil with a look of disgust.”
“Haldir and I, whilst secretly agreeing Thranduil may have had a good idea about the dungeon, decided that perhaps a few days in the forest would serve to calm the situation. We rather forcefully set him on his horse, and he quickly calmed down once we left his Halls. He loved Elisiel dearly, and regretted his harsh words, as soon as we were out of sight of his gates, but we nevertheless spent a few days in the tranquillity of the mighty Greenwood. When we returned, we were pleased to find that the ladies had also decided to behave more reasonably. Galadriel graciously allowed Thranduil to select his own attire for the wedding, which I might add, he had already informed Haldir and I he fully intended to do anyway,” said Glorfindel, sounding as if he had thoroughly approved of Thranduil’s stance, which he did.
“And your parents resolved their differences with, what some less enlightened Elves might have considered to be a shockingly indiscreet display of affection for a betrothed couple. My Lady was not amused,” commented Haldir.
“They were in love, how else were they expected to reconcile other than with a breathtaking kiss?” asked Glorfindel with a shrug.
“I believe there were other ways after they were wed,” Legolas smirked, remembering having inadvertently interrupted an ‘apology’ not long before he reached his majority. “Thank you for telling us that tale, Lord Glorfindel, it was most enlightening and I will be sure to remember to ask Adar to recount his version when I return home,” said Legolas with a wicked gleam in his eye.
“It has just occurred to me that there are many dungeons in the depths of the palace, or so I am told, perhaps Arwen is fortunate that Aragorn has made no complaints about the preparations as yet,” commented Elladan his mischievous grin hinting that he thought it might be amusing to see his sister in such a predicament.
“Nor is he likely to do so, for when he is not busy dealing with his role as King, Elrond and Mithrandir are keeping him occupied,” explained Erestor sounding series to all but the one who knew him well..
“Protecting him from the ladies, you mean,” chuckled Glorfindel.
“I believe that is what I inferred,” replied the Advisor with a smile of affection for his friend.
“Enough of this, we came here to avoid the ladies and have done naught but speak of them since we arrived. Besides, storytelling makes one hungry as well as thirsty. Elladan, where is that food you acquired from the kitchens this morning?” asked Glorfindel.
They had left their horses to graze wherever they chose, and Elladan’s whistle was
answered by the swift appearance of his mount. He quickly removed the packs of food, relieved that there was more than enough to share with Haldir’s group. The Elves enjoyed a welcome meal of fruits, cheeses, bread rolls and sweet pastries, washed down by more of the excellent wine.
The afternoon was warm, and the soft grass so inviting that the Galadhrim and their leader, who had spent the morning following their usual rigorous training routines, soon slipped into blissful reverie, leaving the others to the silence of their own thoughts.
“I wonder if Lindir will write a song about his latest experience,” mused Elrohir as he lay back in the grass and watched the clouds moving slowly across the sky.
“I think it possible, but I believe he is currently working on a song to honour our Mirkwood hero,” Erestor told him.
“I have neither killed a Balrog, nor performed any heroic deed that is worth singing about,” protested Legolas feeling distinctly uncomfortable as he felt a blush of embarrassment warm his cheeks.
“Nay, you have merely spent your life defending your home and your people, without the benefit of a Ring, and then joined a quest that had little hope of success although it was the only way to defeat the Dark Lord. You have befriended both Man and Dwarf, and although you were not called to Namo’s Halls, you have not remained unscathed. The call of the sea has taken away your contentment to live forever among the trees. Is this truly not deserving of some accolade?” Celeborn asked his young kinsman.
“I did only what I had to,” objected Legolas.
“In Mirkwood certainly, but why did you agree to become one of the Walkers?”
“It was both my duty and my honour to represent all of Elvendom in the destruction of the One Ring, no matter the cost.” The humility of the reply earned the young elf even greater respect from his elders.