Thranduil paced impatiently back and forth across the small sitting room, at every turn casting his eyes surreptitiously, or so he believed, towards the dainty female elf who sat in the overlarge armchair that faced the window.
“Thranduil, please stop that pacing. Each time you pass in front of the window you block my light, which in turn delays the completion of your tunic. Either take a seat and wait patiently or seek out your Adar’s company until I am finished,” said the young elf’s exasperated naneth who was skilfully embroidering the finishing touches on the forest green tunic she had sewn for her son.
“I apologise for disturbing you, Naneth, but will you be much longer? It is only two hours to sunset and I must make ready for this evening,” he said, his brow creased with consternation.
“As I have already told you each time you asked this day, the garment will be ready in ample time, that is unless you keep interrupting me,” she said pointedly. A look of alarm appeared in Thranduil’s eyes and he immediately stopped his pacing. “Perhaps it would be best if you retired to your chambers and tried to read a book or took a brief rest while you wait,” she suggested kindly.
“As you wish,” he agreed albeit reluctantly. As he bent to brush his lips across the beloved cheek, bright eyes smiled up at him and gentle fingers caressed his chin.
“Do not be concerned, it will be ready well before your appointment tonight, you have my word. Believe me, my son, I do know how important it is to you that you look your best, but remember beauty is not in the garment, but in the spirit of the wearer, ” Caille counselled him. Thranduil nodded acknowledgement of her compliment, and made his way to the door. She sighed with relief when she heard it close softly behind her departing son, and had barely sewn another stitch before a slight draught indicated someone else had entered the chamber. “What is it now, Thranduil?” she enquired without taking her eyes from her work.
“I am not our son,” whispered Oropher, his breath warm against her neck. Caille turned her head, all thoughts of embroidery vanishing in the wake of the soul deep expression of love that was in the lingering touch of their lips.
“Nay, you are not,” she agreed when the kiss ended. “What brings you here?” she asked curiously. Oropher rarely visited the sewing room when she was working and today of all days she could not afford another interruption.
“I noticed at the noon meal how tense Thranduil is becoming as the day wears on and I though you might need a reprieve form his anxious mood,” he replied as he casually lifted one sleeve of the tunic and inspected his wife’s handiwork. “I see this is almost complete, and the work is exquisite, as usual.” His praise was sincere and well received.
“Thank you. Did you not just pass Thranduil in the passageway? He left barely moments before you arrived,” she replied as she took up her work again.
“Aye, but he was so preoccupied that I was not even offered a greeting, and had it not been for the golden hair, I doubt I would have recognised him so swiftly did he pass by me,” Oropher commented light heartedly, his eyes glittering with amusement. Caille laughed merrily.
“I hardly think that likely, my love. Even a quick glance at his handsome face would confirm he is the son of the King, albeit a very nervous one. Perhaps you should follow him to his chamber and see if you can find the words to calm him. It would be most unfortunate if, in his anxiety, he stumbled over his words tonight.” She did not need to add ‘just as his Adar did’, but Oropher heard the unspoken words that spoke of their shared memory.
“You offer sage counsel my love, but perhaps you are merely trying to rid yourself of my company as well?” The twinkle in his eye belied Oropher’s feigned feeling of insult.
“Nothing could be further from the truth, but the sooner I have completed this task, the sooner I can give you my undivided attention,” replied Caille seductively as she reached up to caress her beloved’s face.
“I look forward to it, my wanton one,” replied Oropher as he captured her hand and kissed each finger. “I will be with Thranduil should anyone wish to know,” he said over his shoulder as he too left the chamber.
“Come,” the young elf called in answer to the knock at his door. He did not bother to rise from the bed where he was sprawled comfortably, making a pitiful attempt at reading one of his favourite books.
“So, Thranduil, I hear you have been annoying your Naneth,” said Oropher as he sat on the edge of the bed and took the book from his son’s hands. He was unable to stifle a chuckle of amusement as he realised the book had been held upside down a fact his son had failed to realise in his distracted state of mind. “It is very difficult to read this way,” he commented lightly.
“I am too nervous to read,” replied Thranduil with an uncaring shrug.
“Then perhaps you would like me to tell you a story?”
“Adar, I am not a child!” Thranduil declared, sounding exactly like an angry young elf to Oropher’s ears, but he wisely decided that such an observation was best kept silent.
“Nay, you are not. You are a mature adult, and a fine warrior who is scared witless at the prospect of asking the lady who has captured his heart to become his wife,” replied Oropher in all seriousness.
“I am not scared, just nervous, as I have already told you,” Thranduil replied testily.
“Then you are a braver elf than your Adar. I was so scared to ask your naneth to bind with me that when the time came I stumbled over the words.” Oropher admitted. Thranduil gaped in wide eyed disbelief at his Adar who was the most fearsome and courageous warrior he had ever met.
“Were you not embarrassed to be rendered speechless by your emotions?”
“Shamefully so, however on reflection I think it was more a fear that she would refuse than of actually saying the words that caused me so much anxiety,” he said. “As it happened, I need not have been concerned for in her impatience to accept the offer I was trying to make, Caille had to ask me!”
“Surely you jest,” Thranduil managed to say despite his astonishment.
“Nay, and I am certain Elisiel will be as accommodating if the need arises, will she not?” Oropher asked. Thranduil smiled as he tried to imagine how his love would react in the same situation, and he knew she would do exactly as his Naneth had done, for there was no doubting that he and Elisiel were two parts of the one heart and soul. There was really no cause for fear, nor any possibility of rejection, and Thranduil vowed silently that he would not follow in his Adar’s footsteps when he met with his intended later that evening.
“Aye, she would be but I will not allow that situation to occur,” declared Thranduil proudly.
“Let us hope that is so and drink a toast to your newfound courage after which I wish to and spend the rest of the afternoon discussing something else of great import,” Oropher told his son as he stepped over to the wine cabinet and poured them both some of their favourite Dorwinion red. Thranduil accepted the goblet of wine, and desiring to enjoy the warmth of the late afternoon, he indicated that they should move onto the balcony that opened out from his chamber.
“What has happened Adar?” Thranduil asked when they had taken their seats on either side of the small table.
“Gil-galad has asked us to join in the march to Mordor, and I have agreed to do so,” Oropher said as he gazed out into the forest. “How soon do you think we can be ready?” Thranduil took some time to answer and soon they became so heavily involved in planning the requirements of an army that neither noticed the setting of the sun until Caille arrived, the completed tunic over her arm.
“I am not certain drinking wine is such a wise idea, Thranduil. It is almost time to meet with Elisiel,” she informed her son.
“So it is,” agreed Oropher. “Come, Caille, let us leave Thranduil to his preparations,” he said as he took his wife’s arm.
Almost an hour later, a freshly bathed young elf, stunningly attired in a full length forest green tunic with the cuffs and lapels embroidered with delicate gold leaves, accepted the good wishes of his parents and took his leave, intent on proposing marriage to his beloved Elisiel.
It was not until he had walked almost halfway to his beloved’s home that he realised with horror that he had left the betrothal rings, a gift from his parents, back on his dresser. Unwilling to appear foolish and have to admit his error, yet also unwilling to arrive late for his most important appointment, Thranduil stopped walking and sat at the base of one of the large trees, his head hung dejectedly as he tried to decide what course of action to take.
“I believe you forgot these,” said the well known voice of the elf who stepped unexpectedly from behind the tree waving the velvet pouch he carried in the air.
“Adar! Thank the Valar!” exclaimed Thranduil joyfully hugging Oropher who smiled with pleasure at his son’s display of affection and relief.
“Nay, thank your Naneth, it was she who found them on the dresser where you left them in your haste to leave,” replied Oropher with a shake of his head.
“How did she know to look?” Thranduil asked curiously as he put the precious items safely in the pocket where they should have already been.
“It seems that at our betrothal ball, my Naneth informed her that I had done likewise and Caille was wise enough to realise you might have unknowingly followed my poor example!”
“Is there anything else I have failed to remember?” sighed Thranduil.
“Not unless it is that a kiss to seal your promise to each other is also customary,” teased Oropher.
“Adar! Surely you did not forget to do that, too!” he exclaimed.
“Of course not, but I did somehow forget to stop at one!”