Part VI: Wedding Preparations
If the Island had a Queen, it was Lady Galadriel. I saw less of her than I would have liked, for she spent a great deal of time in the City attending to affairs there. Yet she still found time to make a bridal gown for Anemone, and to make it fine indeed.
Meanwhile, Gandalf had met a lady also. Ríannor was her name.
She had night-black hair flowing down to her hips, white skin, scarlet lips and diamond-bright eyes. She was a dark-elf, who had once been a queen, and a prisoner of Sauron, and her husband, who was now dead, had been a descendent of Lady Galadriel's brother.
“So you are finally going to marry her?” I asked him when we were alone together for a smoke on my terrace, leaving our betrotheds indoors to become better acquainted.
“Yes,” he said. He now looked like a much younger version of his former self, with shining black hair brushed back neatly and smooth skin, and was called Olórin by the Elves now. Yet to me he would always be Gandalf. “I was not going to marry her until you had gone, not wishing to leave you all alone. But now that you have Anemone, I can feel better in my mind about it.”
“Leave me alone? But my dear Gandalf, you could have married her at any time! In case you had forgotten, I am fifty-five years old, although I suppose that is no great age to you. But in hobbit-years I am considered quite in my prime, and well able to look after myself.” I actually felt a bit put-out.
“I know that, dear boy…but to me, even if you live to be two hundred you will always be the child I did not have, I am sure.” He looked away off into the distance for a moment. “I thought you would say that, however, and that is why I did not tell you about her before.”
After I had cooled off somewhat I said, “Perhaps we could hold our weddings together, if it is all right with Anemone? A double ceremony then?”
“No no no no no no, I would not dream of it. That day belongs to you and her, and I would never ask you to share it with us. Thank you just the same.”
“But I would be more than happy to share it, Gandalf!”
“Nothing doing! Everyone will be making a huge fuss over the two of you, and that’s exactly how I wish it. And I want to be able to hang all over you like a doting parent and join in the fuss. Could not very well do that if I were being married on the same day, now could I?”
“I wonder if it is possible to die of happiness,” I said, almost as if to myself.
“Strange, I have been wondering exactly the same thing,” Gandalf said with a huge smile. "And my joy is doubled at seeing yours. You've no idea what it does for me to see you in bliss. I only wish Bilbo could have lived to see it, but maybe he does, for all we know."
If I had any anxieties now, it was about whether Anemone might lose her wild charm with mortality and turn into a proper little hobbitess. I did not express this fear to her, but it was in the back of my mind, nevertheless.
She asked me if she could continue to wear her dresses short. She truly did not think she could manage a long gown all the time, although she knew only children wore short dresses on the Island. I took up the matter with Lady Galadriel, who looked vaguely amused in that way she sometimes had, and said that Anemone might continue in the fashion that suited her, just as I continued to wear the short breeches to which I was accustomed. She ordered her seamstresses to make Anemone’s frocks knee-length and to keep them simple and sturdy, with only one long gown for special occasions in whatever color she chose. I hoped she would want violet-blue, to match her eyes, but she decided on flame-red like the sunset. I was afraid the Lady would be shocked, but she merely laughed and said so be it.
The gifts began pouring in. One such was a gorgeously fashioned white alabaster flask of perfume, gemmed and overlaid in gold filigree and fantastically shaped, with a stopper of ruby-colored glass. The Elf-lady who presented to Anemone told her it would make me “her slave.” The fragrance fairly had me swooning in my tracks. Talk about dangerous!
Lord Elrond presented us with a full supply of ointments and medicines, along with a book he had carefully copied out telling what to do for various injuries. The book had been beautifully decorated, illustrated and bound by his wife. There were magnificently embroidered cushions and tapestries and rugs, comforters, and some splendidly carved furniture and knick-knacks to set around which I privately thought were a bit fine for our house, but I kept my opinion to myself, hoping I would not knock things over after a night of hard celebration.
“They will make a true princess of me,” Anemone said as she touched a new pair of porcelain swans that flanked the terrace steps where she sat, then a small golden harp. She picked up another beautifully bound book lying in her lap. “But you are a prince, so I suppose it's only right. What is this? I cannot read, you know.”
I took it and opened it. “The Arts of Conjugal Love,” I read the title-page, and she went into a long peal of laughter.
“As if you need that!” she gasped. I laughed also, sitting down beside her.
“Well,” I admitted, “I have never been married before, after all. Surely I still have things to learn. This stodgy, bookish hobbit may end up greatly surprising you.”
“Our reading-lessons should be grow very interesting indeed,” she said, snuggling close to me and thumbing through the gold-edged pages, looking at the drawings that illustrated the volume. “Ohhhhh…look at this!” She paused at a page and turned it for me to see. I felt my face grow scarlet, and I looked away quickly, my hand foolishly clapped over my mouth. Her laughter spilled out like a fountain, and my own soon joined in.
Artists came and drew many portraits of us, some separately and some together, and a sculptor was commissioned to come and make clay models of us. Anemone was much bemused.
“Why do they wish to make statues of us?” she asked me.
“It is a way of commemorating us,” I explained. “To help people remember how we looked after we are gone, and those of their children who will never see us in life. Their way of immortalizing us, I suppose.”
“I have much to figure out about mortality, I can see that,” she said shaking her head in perplexity. “I can hardly see the point of ‘immortalizing’ anyone in cold hard stone.”
“Well that we are not in Middle-Earth,” I said. “You would be as a child just starting school, and many of your lessons would be very unpleasant, I am afraid. Here, at least, the folk are understanding and happy to help.”
“Perhaps,” she said dreamily, “someday we could pose for an illustration in the conjugal arts book?”
I started, then looked at her, then roared with laughter. Something told me I could lay any anxiety about her turning overly proper to rest!
It was hard to choose between Gandalf and Lord Elrond when it came to having someone to perform the wedding, but I finally decided on Gandalf, especially since Anemone seemed to favor him too. I think she was still a little in awe of the Elf-lord, and felt that he did not quite approve of her, although she need not have worried on that score.
Elrond would perform the wedding of Gandalf and Ríannor, later on.
I would have liked our wedding to take place on the shore of the cove, near the waterfall, but on the beach there was more room for everyone, so that was where it would be. I believe the entire Island turned out for it. At least, I think so. Anemone looked so ravishing in her beaded snowy gown, I could hardly take my eyes off her long enough to inspect the crowd. Her amber hair had been intricately braided and beaded, with a wreath of small white lilies crowning her temples, and the strand of pearls gracing her throat. I wore Elvish silver-grey, richly embroidered in blue and crimson, and they placed a crown of lilies on my head also. I suffered them to do it since that was the custom here, privately wondering when I should be able to cast it off without anyone noticing.
I couldn’t help but notice that Anemone had put on a bit too much of the perfume. I hadn’t thought to tell her she should save it for the wedding-night, and use it sparingly. I don’t know what the crowd thought as the scent wafted toward them, but I suppose it didn’t matter.
Gandalf was in his gleaming white robes, of course, although he had retired them except for special occasions…such as this. There was much singing and some praying, a mercifully short speech and blessings pronounced on both of us, and finally Gandalf stepped forward to perform the ceremony that would seal Anemone’s fate and mine as well.
Then…as he pronounced us husband and wife, she suddenly gave a shriek as if she had been struck by lightning and crumpled onto the sand at my feet!