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7
A Wedding, A New Beginning

Dol Amroth: February 2975

Winter

Four months. It had taken four months to arrange the wedding. February the twentieth was their wedding date. The betrothal ceremony had been a small court affair consisting of only two-hundred people. Of course, on her wedding day, Ivriniel was expecting double that number. She had been nervous all through those four months. She did not like large crowds, and knowing she would soon be the focus of a large gathering, made her stomach turn in all different directions. Her knees felt weak, the tips of her fingers began to tingle as she breathed short, quick breaths. She was having a panic attack.

"For the love of Ulmo!" Finduilas cried, running over to her sister's side. "Sit down immediately or you shall end up fainting and hitting your head." Finduilas had been a wonderful assistant for her during those painstaking months. Her little sister had been patient and listened with a soothing presence to her fears and frets. Ivriniel's main concern had been the wedding gown. Seamstresses had drawn dozens of sketches, but Ivriniel hated them all. She knew she was being fussy, overly fussy, as Finduilas had called her. But Ivriniel wanted her wedding gown to be prefect in her own way. So she ended up designing it by herself. She spent one night sitting by the fireplace, scrunching up parchments that had mistakes, throwing them into the fire, until she finally mastered the perfect design. Ironically, her gown ended up looking nothing like how she first pictured it. It was silver, trimmed with dark blue, with pearls sewn onto the underskirt; the kirtle and underskirt were made out of fine silks from the south. Ivriniel spent countless days standing on a platform while the seamstresses measured her and started making the gown. In the end, the gown looked perfect with her new silver shoes and belt; also, her mother chose a set of sapphire jewellery to match the blue hemming. It all worked out in the end.

Now, Ivriniel sat on a cushion in her antechamber, taking in deep breaths to calm herself; the fact that her corset had been tightened beyond breath capabilities did not help. Finduilas walked over to her, kneeling with a goblet of water. "Here," she said, placing the goblet in Ivriniel's hands. "Take only small sips until you are feeling well again."

"Thank you," Ivriniel croaked. She assessed her sister; Finduilas dazzled the eye with her beautiful satin gown of deep mahogany. It was not a new gown; their parents would only allow Ivriniel new things for the event. It was suppose to make Ivriniel feel extra special on the day, knowing that she was the only one receiving new gowns and jewels. Honestly, Ivriniel did not care either way. In any case, she ended up giving Finduilas some of her old gowns and traditional Gondorian hoods and headdresses. It was nothing new for Ivriniel to give Finduilas her old things, but Finduilas being the typical girl loved receiving them.

"We must be ready to leave for the great hall in fifteen minutes," Finduilas said, standing up. "I do pray that you will have recovered by then."

"Give me some wine, please," Ivriniel said, placing the goblet of water aside, "a lot of wine."

Finduilas frowned. "Are you planning on walking down the aisle drunk?"

Ivriniel glared at her sister. "No! If I have some wine I will feel more relaxed and it will soothe my nerves."

Finduilas nodded. "Very well."

There was a knock on the door; Imrahil entered dressed in layers of blue and black. His cloak was draped over his shoulders. "Sisters."

"Imrahil," Ivriniel said, here brows raised high. "You look... so clean."

Imrahil let his mouth drop at her remark. "Excuse me? When do I not look clean?"

"These past months you have been out at sea quite a bit," Ivriniel said. "You always return shabby looking. All the men do."

"The high-seas are a rough place to be," Imrahil said, taking a seat by the fire. "They are not for the faint hearted."

"Hmm." Ivriniel gladly accepted the flask of wine and drank deeply.

Imrahil frowned. "Do you plan...?"

"No I do not!" she shouted. "I will be perfectly sober for my wedding."

"Then do not drink too deeply," he retorted.

"Have you come to my apartments to direct sly comments at me, or have you come for a purpose?" she asked, soothing the annoyance out of her voice.

"Peace," Imrahil said, holding up his hands. "I have only come to wish you well before Father arrives to escort you." He stood up and smiled. "You look beautiful."

Ivriniel smiled. "Forgive me, Brother. My nerves are getting the best of me."

Imrahil nodded. "If it is any consolation, Losdir is just as nervous." Imrahil frowned, puzzled. "However, I believe his nerves are coming from his concern towards his family, not the actual ceremony. He has sailed smoothly these past four months through all the planning. He has been a wonderful help!" Imrahil grinned. "I like him! You could not have chosen any better."

Ivriniel smiled gratefully. "Thank you, Imrahil. That means so much to me."

"The Steward of Gondor and his son, Lord Denethor have only just arrived," Imrahil said. "In the nick of time." He spoke his last remark under his breath.

"Truly," Finduilas said, interested. "I honestly did not think they would make it."

"It was nice of them to attend," Ivriniel said thoughtfully. "I shall have to personally thank them during the reception. You know, I have never spoken to Lord Denethor."

"You are not missing too much," Imrahil replied. "He is rather... dull. Well, what I refer to is I have absolutely nothing in common with the man. He does not serve in the military; he has no interest in sailing or fishing. The only thing I can talk to him about is politics. And right now, politics is not my most favourite topic."

"I am sure he is interesting in his own way," Finduilas said. "I remember talking to him years ago when I was still a girl. "I do, however remember he did not carry a sword. I found that odd."

"He is carrying one today," Imrahil said. "Perhaps I should invite him down to the training grounds tomorrow. I would like to see how good he can wield it. Personally, I see it a crime to wear a sword but to never use it in your lifetime."

"Oh, Brother," Ivriniel said, taking another swig of her wine, "do not say anything that will insult the next Steward of Gondor."

"Well, I have to sit next to him at the reception, what else am I going to say to the man?" he asked, exasperated. "I will make him the offer to come and train with me tomorrow." Imrahil grinned broadly. "Do you want to make bets to see if he will actually accept?"

"No!" Ivriniel said wearily.

"Yes!" Finduilas said excitedly.

"You should come and watch, Finduilas," Imrahil replied, laughing. "Agoron will be there."

At the sound of Agoron's name, Finduilas' smiled faded. "He has not spoken to me often these past months. I do not believe he loves me as he once did."

"Do not say that," Imrahil answered quickly. "Trust me; he loves you more than ever. And he is determined to make you his wife." Imrahil sighed heavily. "Father is only being... protective of you. Remember, you are his youngest daughter."

"But I am an adult!" Finduilas cried. "I am old enough to be wed. Why can it not be Agoron?"

Ivriniel could think of a hundred reasons why her sister should not wed Agoron, but decided it best to keep her mouth shut.

"Father has been busy with Ivriniel's wedding arrangements," Imrahil said. "One wedding is enough, for now."

"You are right," Finduilas said, taking a seat next to Ivriniel. She placed a hand over her sister's. "It is only natural for the older sister to be wedded and bedded first."

Ivriniel smiled shyly and blushed. Tonight she would indeed be wedded and bedded. She looked up at her brother. "Imrahil, may I ask you something... personal?"

"You may," he answered, quite curious.

"Are you... have you... bedded a woman?" she asked.

Finduilas frowned, her mouth ajar. Imrahil only laughed. "Indeed I have, Sister. Let me assume: you want to know what it's like?"

Ivriniel nodded shyly. "Please."

Imrahil raised his eyebrows with a thoughtful expression plastered over his face. "I must say, I cannot exactly tell you how it feels from a woman's point of view. I have never bedded a-a maiden before. What do you wish to know?"

Ivriniel frowned. "I suppose I want to know how it feels."

"Hmm." Imrahil raked his fingers through his hair. "You should have asked Mother."

"Never!" Ivriniel said, gasping. "How could I bring up such a topic with Mother?"

"Well I am sorry, Ivriniel," Imrahil said, looking apologetic. "Tonight you shall have to enter the bedchamber blindly. I cannot help you."

Ivriniel groaned. "I am so nervous about it."

"I am sure Losdir will understand," Finduilas said soothingly. "He will know that it will be new to you."

"But I hate that feeling of not knowing what to do," she complained. "Knowing me, I will make a mess of the whole act."

Imrahil laughed aloud. "The whole act ends in a mess!"

"Ergh," Finduilas said, frowning. "Brother!"

Ivriniel laughed nervously. "He means well."

Another series of knocks was heard on the door. Their father, Adrahil entered, dressed in an outfit of black and silver. "Daughter," he said, eyeing Ivriniel with much admiration. "You look breathtaking. Your appearance will most likely cause Losdir to forget his lines."

Finduilas and Imrahil laughed, but Ivriniel began to feel all the more nervous. Her father's presence meant that time was going fast. Soon, very soon she would be walking up the aisle towards her future; a future that she wanted, but one she was nervous to enter into. "When do we leave?" she asked.

"As soon as you are ready," Adrahil replied. He turned to his two youngest offspring. "You two better be off; do not forget your places during the ceremony."

"I know, I know," Finduilas said, standing up. "I must stand on the side, behind Ivriniel through the whole ceremony, and then follow her train down the aisle once it's all over."

"And I must remain next to you, Father, through the whole ceremony, and then follow you down the aisle once it's all over," Imrahil said, copying his sister's way of speaking.

"Hmm," Adrahil said, eyeing the two of them. "Be gone!"

Ivriniel looked at her flask of wine, but decided not to drink any more. Fortunately, her body handled wine rather well. She stood up did not feel the slightest dizzy and felt quite relaxed with the world. "I am ready, Father."

Adrahil beamed with delight. "Wonderful. Everybody has just taken their seats, and your mother has already started shedding tears."

Ivriniel groaned. "Oh, Father! I wish you did not tell me that. Now I may end up teary."

"You better not weep!" Adrahil said, his eyes twinkling. "Swollen eyes are only permitted for your mother today, understood?"

Ivriniel giggled. "Yes, Father; I understand." She linked her arm into his and set out of the antechamber. The great hall was several corridors away, but the noise of the waiting crowd could be heard once she stepped outside her apartments. "How many people have shown up?"

"Just over five hundred," her father answered. "This is a very important day for Gondor, to have one of its princesses wedded."

Ivriniel took a deep breath, praying to the Valar that the wine would keep working. "Father, was Mother nervous on your wedding day?"

"Yes," Adrahil answered. "I believe every woman is. Ulmo praise your mother; she kept her calm through the whole procedure, and then stated weeping once our union was sealed by the kiss. They were tears of joy, of course."

Ivriniel smiled. "Was she embarrassed?"

"Yes," he replied. "But I love her, and I did not care either way. Everyone expresses their emotions in their own fashion."

They reached the great doors that led into the hall. Ivriniel's grip on her father's arm tightened. She took a deep breath, thinking it would be ironic to end up fainting halfway down the aisle. "So many voices," she said, listening to all the noise behind the doors.

"Be calm," her father said, kissing the side of her forehead. "I will be by your side the whole time."

Ivriniel nodded, hearing the trumpets sound from within the hall. It was time. The two guards at the doors swung them open, revealing a long aisle with a dark blue runner. The crowd of people stood from their seats, their faces turned to the entrance doors, watching her. Oh, dear Valar. Ivriniel took another calming breath, exhaling slowly. She did not want her nerves to be visible to those hundreds of watching eyes. She felt her father start walking. She followed, keeping her grip on his arm as tightly as possible. Music sounded from the gallery above the hall; it was soft and sweet. She had her eyes rested on the man at the end of the aisle. Losdir was standing there, smiling, watching her. His father, Lord Hirluin was standing behind his son, staring at his future daughter-in-law. Eyes, so many eyes, she thought, keeping her gaze fixed on her future husband.

Then there she was, standing before Losdir. She could not refrain herself from smiling; she was so happy! Her grandfather, who was conducting the ceremony, stood on the altar and spoke: "Who gives this Woman to be bonded to this Man?"

Her father unhooked his arm and placed her right hand on Angelimir's. "I give thee my daughter," her father spoke. He stepped away from them both and stood beside Imrahil. Angelimir placed his granddaughter's right hand on Losdir's right hand.

Angelimir stood before them on the altar and addressed the crowd. "To all whom bear witness this day! We are gathered here together in the sight of the almighty Valar, to join this Man and this Woman in the binding of life. At this day of union, if any man challenges or declare any hindrance or cause as to why the Laws of this Realm may not bind them together in nuptials, then let them speak now or forever hold their tongues."

The crowd remained silent while Angelimir kept the serenity for several moments. He turned to Losdir and spoke: "Lord Losdir of Pinnath Gelin, do you take this Woman to be thy wedded wife, to live together in the sacred union of bondage? Will thou love her, comfort, honour, and keep her in sickness and in health, so long as you both shall live?"

"I do," Losdir answered.

Angelimir turned to his granddaughter. "Princess Ivriniel of Dol Amroth, do you take this man to be thy wedded husband, to live together in the sacred union of bondage? Wilt thou obey him, and serve, love, honour, and keep him in sickness and in health, so long as you both shall live?"

"I will," Ivriniel replied, feeling more relaxed now that she no longer had to face all those watchful eyes.

"It is now time for the exchanging of vows," Angelimir declared. "Lord Losdir, if you will please."

Losdir turned to face Ivriniel and smiled encouragingly. "I, Losdir, take Ivriniel to be my wedded wife. I vow, from this day forward to love thee, for better or for poorer, in sickness or in health; I promise to care and cherish you till death do us part."

"Ivriniel, if you may," Angelimir spoke softly.

Ivriniel took a deep breath and smiled, despite her nerves rising. "I, Ivriniel, take Losdir, to be my wedded husband, I vow, from this day forward to love thee, for better or for poorer, in sickness and in health; I promise to care and obey you till death do us part."

Angelimir handed Losdir and Ivriniel a silver wedding band each, and the whole hall watched as the rings were exchanged, being placed on each other's fourth finger on the left hand. "Bless these Rings, and those who wear them, Valar give and receive them, and may they be forever faithful to one another, to live and grow old together, and seeing their children's children." Angelimir blessed the rings.

It was almost over; Ivriniel knew this. All that was left was the hand fasting, and then the celebrations would begin. She needed more wine, for she could feel the effects of it starting to wear off. Her nerves were rising again, and now, out of the corner of her eye, she could see the large crowd before her, watching eagerly. Please be over, she thought to herself, please be over.

A rope of gold and silver threading was wrapped around their hands. "Let the powers of the mind guide you both through marriage. Be close to one another, but not too close. Possess each other, yet be understanding. Have patience, for storms will come, but they will pass quickly if you shall will it. Be free in giving affection and warmth. May your mornings bring joy and your evenings bring peace. May your troubles grow fewer as your blessings increase. May the Valar blessing rest upon you both. We pray that your coming days are of happiness and rejoice." Angelimir finished the hand fasting blessing. "On behalf of all those who have witnessed this day, we bless you and keep you in good company. May the Valar protect you and your children. Address this crowd before you as husband and wife."

The hand fasting rope being unwrapped, Losdir still holding Ivriniel's hand kissed her sweetly on the lips, securing their final bond. They turned around to face the crowd, causing a great cheer to erupt. Ivriniel, her nerves dissipated, laughed with delight as flower petals fell onto them from above. She turned her face towards Losdir and grinned. Everything was so perfect! Her grandfather gestured for them to start heading down the aisle.

"You look so beautiful," Losdir murmured as they made their way down the aisle. People were shouting words of congratulations, but it was hard to decipher each one, as many people packed the side of the aisle, trying to get a closer glimpse of the newly wedded couple. Ivriniel quickly looked behind her. Finduilas winked, giggling. She seemed to be enjoying all the attention her sister's train was receiving. As they exited the hall, they were to wait out in the large reception room while the hall was quickly transformed into a banquet hall. Majority of the crowd had to remain behind and help with the preparations, but enough people exited with the wedding party to overwhelm Ivriniel with conversation.

Lord Corinir of Pelargir and Lebennin was there with his wife, Lady Maidhel. Ivriniel liked them both, receiving an embrace from Lady Maidhel.

"You look rejuvenated, my old friend," Lady Maidhel said, smiling brightly. "I am so happy for you, both of you!"

"I wish you both many, many children!" Lord Tarondor said, approaching her with his arm around his wife's waist.

"And may I inquire as to how many children you have now?" Ivriniel asked as Losdir was whisked away by his father and brother.

"Five," Tarondor said, beaming with pride. His beloved wife, Lady Duvaimes was blushing scarlet red. "Our beautiful daughter, Angwen was born only last year."

"I congratulate you both," Ivriniel said. "I would love to have a daughter."

"Well I do not see why you should not have one," Lady Duvaimes said. "I assure you, having a daughter is a wonderful gift to receive from the Valar. I have fortunate to have been blessed with two." Lady Duvaimes turned to her husband and smiled. "And we hope for another darling girl in the near future."

Ivriniel laughed. "I wish you all the best in that."

"So far we have needed no luck with producing children," Lord Tarondor said, laughing himself. "We seem to have a child every year or every two years."

Finduilas hooked her arm into Ivriniel's. "Congratulations, my dear, sweet sister!" She kissed Ivriniel pleasantly on the cheek. "The ceremony was perfect! Nothing went wrong!"

"Were you expecting something to go wrong?" Ivriniel queried.

"Anything is possible," Finduilas said. She turned from Ivriniel and started watching their father talk to the steward.

Ivriniel noticed the frown growing on Finduilas' face. "What is it?"

Finduilas turned her attention back to her sister. "Nothing." She smiled brightly. "Come, the hall is ready for us to dine now."

Losdir approached and kissed her cheek. "Sweetheart," he said as Finduilas walked away with a huge grin on her face. The newly wedded couple led the guests into the great hall and made their way up to the altar where they were to sit in their honorary seats. Spiced wine was served immediately with platters of assorted fruits, cheeses, and olives. Ivriniel was surprised to see Finduilas taking a seat next to her, for it was tradition for the bride's father or mother to be seated next to her. Ivriniel peered passed Losdir and noticed her father had taken a seat next to him, making Losdir's own father sit further down the table. Where was her mother?

"Finduilas," she whispered, tugging at her sister's sleeve, "where is Mother?"

Her sister's face darkened. "Mother began experiencing her pains again just after the ceremony ended. She has retired to her chambers for her health's safety."

Ivriniel felt a lump growing in her throat. Her own mother was not with her at the celebratory of her wedding. "How bad is it?" she asked, forcing herself not to weep.

"It is nothing worse than before," Finduilas replied, sipping her wine. "Father wanted me to be seated next to you. I do not think he could bear to be the one to tell you this. It affects him deeply."

Ivriniel nodded. "I understand. I shall visit Mother later, when I get the chance. I want to speak to her before I retire for the evening."

Finduilas nodded and scanned the crowd before them, looking for Agoron. "He is seated with Imrahil down the end of our table," Ivriniel murmured to her. "Will you focus on something else for a change?"

Finduilas sighed deeply; she turned away from her sister and started a conversation with their grandfather. Ivriniel turned to Losdir. "You handled the ceremony rather well," she said, taking some grapes.

"It was a rather large audience than I had expected," he remarked, looking at everyone in the hall. "Nevertheless, I am honoured to be your husband."

Ivriniel blushed. "You honour me with your love, Losdir. I cannot thank you enough for making me happy."

He smiled and kissed her hand. "I love you."

...

Ivriniel did not get the chance to see her mother before she retired. Her whole evening was booked with people approaching the dais, wanting an audience with her and Losdir. She knew her mother would rather have her celebrating her newfound love with friends and family, and Ivriniel did just that. She laughed and talked joyously with Losdir and those at the table. Marriage was truly a blessed thing, she thought. She had not felt so... so close and open with Losdir before. She no longer felt nervous around him, or thought of dreadful situations that may result in her embarrassing herself. Everything was... perfect. His smile, the way he would hold her hand in that comforting way. She was truly blessed to be with him.

Now, Ivriniel sat on the edge of her bed in a new nightgown of soft cotton. Losdir was sitting next to her. Her heart was beating rapidly. Yet that single kiss he gave her as he ran his fingers through her hair, caused all around her to melt away into a hazy wave of pure delight.

~~~

A/N - The wedding vows and blessings are a combination of medieval weddings vows and blessings. I have mixed, changed, and replaced words. No copyright intended. Etc.


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