It had all started on a normal day at the daycare center, where Celebrimbor spent time with other children. Sometimes, if he had slept over at one his uncles’ or grandparents’, they were the one to drop him off in the morning.
“Good morning, sir. I hope that things are well?”
Maedhros, who had been having his nephew sleeping over from the previous day due to Curufin and his wife Astarë celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary, smiled as he walked inside the daycare building. “Thank you for asking, Thranduil. I have told this little fellow to be nice, or mom and dad will not be pleased with him.”
Celebrimbor was already trying to remove his winter boots from his feet, not the easiest of tasks for a three-year-old. Spotting the problem, Maedhros bent down on one knee and helped him while Thranduil hung up the small coat and cap on Celebrimbor’s space in the dressing room. The Sindar youth had started to work there on the daycare center roughly around the same time as the child had, so he was a familiar face for the small boy.
“Well, I am going to my work now. Your grandpa Fëanor will bring you home this afternoon, kid,” Maedhros said with a smile to his nephew, despite that Celebrimbor already was on the way to the playroom.
There was already some children inside there, playing with the various toys. Traditional gender roles were not overly encouraged by the staff, and if the parents did not like this state of affairs could move their child to another facility.
Celebrimbor was very fond of building with the painted wooden blocks, so he naturally went to that corner first, only to see that it already was someone there, a Dwarrowdam girl to be precise, who had to be around his own age. What had caught his attention was her white-blonde hair, seeming almost pure white against her dark skin. The same with her stunning green eyes, in the same colour as those emeralds his grandmother had in a beautiful necklace at their home, he recalled seeing.
“Celebrimbor, this is Narvi. It is her first day here so I hope that you will be nice to her,” Thranduil explained, keeping himself close if the two toddlers ended up fighting for some reason. Not that he really worried about Celebrimbor, who was a well-behaved child, but Narvi was a newcomer and they had not much information about her yet. Yet to his surprise and Celebrimbor's delightment, she held up a wooden block towards him in a silent question if he wanted to play. In fact, they ended up spending most of that day to build something akin to a door-shape, even if that was a bit difficult to make without the wooden blocks falling down in a mess after reaching a certain point in height.
Roughly 8 years later, Himring elementary school
“I do not want to play a damsel in distress!” the now eleven-year-old Narvi hissed in anger from where she was standing behind the stage. Her school class, along with that of Celebrimbor's, had joined together to create a school play for the parents at the end of the school term before the summer holidays. Now, the main problem was not the pretty green dress she was wearing along with the princess crown, but rather the passive role of a classical fairy tale princess kidnapped by a dragon and needed a knight in shining armour to save her. Celebrimbor, who had gotten the minor role of a village blacksmith in one of the first scenes, seemed to agree with her.
“Indeed, why did the teachers refusing to let you switch role with one of the other girls when you pointed it out after the lottery of getting each role for us? Even the role of the evil witch who controls the dragon is a more active role.”
Neither one liked the girl who had gotten said witch role, she loved to bully Narvi behind the teacher's back for being born in the far East of Middle-Earth, despite Narvi pointing out that her paternal grandmother and father were from the Blue Mountains and her mother from the Orocarni and thus belonged to a Dwarven family with roots from several of the Dwarven Clans.
“Hmm...I have a got a idea about possibly wrecking the play on its head so you can have a more active role after all. Wanna hear?” Celebrimbor asked with a devilish grin that would have sent any coworkers of his paternal family running for their lives.
At the front of the stage, Nerdanel secretly agreed with Fëanor that the school play sadly was rather banal in terms of story and characters. Granted, the actors were still school children but surely they could have tried for something little more original? At Nerdanel’s left, Maedhros was busy in focusing on the stage with his video camera, having been requested by his nephew if he could maybe film the play to have as a memory later.
“I think Celebrimbor could have been the knight instead…”
“Could the audience please be quiet? We are trying to play here,” Erestor, a classmate of Narvi, requested in a dull voice over the microphone that showed his pure lack of joy over having to be the narrator. A boy in Celebrimbor's class, named Glorfindel, had been chosen as the knight to rescue the princess from the dragon and the evil witch.
“Die, thou foul creature…!?!”
Suddenly, there was a unexpected noise from behind the stage and and the paper model of the tower tripped over slightly, confusing all the actors on the stage just before Celebrimbor and Narvi showed up up from the roof, hanging in a rope. As they landed, it was straight on the head of the black fabric dragon played by some classmates, who naturally got confused under the dragon body as they could not see anything. And Glorfindel, who had lost balance at seeing the unexpected change from above and tripped, ended up landing on top of the girl who played the evil witch.
“That's my boy! He is not meant for a small role in just one scene!” grinned Curufin with paternal pride while many of the other families laughed madly over the comical scene. Spotting a chance to troll Glorfindel and some of the other classmates who had pranked him a few weeks ago, Erestor said in a more dramatic voice:
“Yet unknown to the brave knight, the village blacksmith had loved the princess for a long time and had already set up a plan to save her by using him as bait for the dragon and the evil witch. It also seemed like the witch also had more of a taste for blonde, handsome knights than the fair princess herself. ”
Naturally, that was not how the original story had gone.
“What! That is not how it said in the script…”
Both Glorfindel and the witch-playing girl were silenced by Narvi kicking off those silly high heels the teachers had insisted on that she had to wear as part of the role, both getting a shoe each in the head. Realizing that the adults were expecting something, Celebrimbor quickly knelt on one knee despite the awkwardness of it happening on top of the trapped dragon actors, kissed her hand as if it had been part of his character the whole time and spoke:
“Most noble princess, if it is a sword to defend yourself with that you wishes, then I shall gladly craft one for you, along with a bow and shield. Let yourself be known as a shield-maiden, and I shall give a new weapon for each year of marriage if you so hold the wish to not marry a knight trying to kill the dragon responsible which started this mess.”
Without warning, Narvi responded with taking his head between her hands and gave him a rather passionate kiss straight on the kiss. The response from the audience were a lot of wolf whistles, applause and cheering.
“Good show there, kids!” Balder, Narvi's father, called from his seat while trying to keep his youngest daughter Loki still on his lap after spotting her older sister on the stage.
Nine years later, Khazad-dûm university
Narvi had just gotten to sleep, when she was awoken of something tapping on her window. Cursing for herself over those who thought it funny to prank fellow students, she went up and draw the curtains apart. Now, pranks was part of school life, but she disliked when people like her was the targets, those who were scholarship students and came from the middle-class unlike other students who tended to be come from better families.
“Celebrimbor, you better have a very good, and legal, excuse for being here at the Dwarrowdams's student house. Or you may find yourself chased away by the guards within the next few coming minutes once someone sees you,” she commented in a displeased voice at seeing him hanging on for dear life to the downpipe just outside her window since her room was at a corner of the house.
“I will leave, just wanna ask you if you are able to go to the hill tomorrow, the one where we have been working with the marble door frame as part of our studying here? It is a full moon tomorrow and maybe it would be nice to see the moon from inside the frame?” he asked, knowing that he did not have much time before he had to leave.
“Why not? It is our last day as students here tomorrow, so we should be able to do it,” Narvi agreed, before suddenly smacking his hands so Celebrimbor had to let go of the downpiper as a reaction. Not that he truly minded, knowing that he better get back to his own student room before anyone saw him outside on the school grounds past curfew.
The following evening, Celebrimbor was waiting for Narvi on the hill as agreed.
“A beautiful sight, indeed. I see why you wanted this to be a fitting end to our time at this university,” the dark-skinned Dwarrowdam smiled at the sight. Her Elven friend nodded in agreement, before drinking from his water bottle. Time together like this had been difficult the past few years due to both needing to study and master their chosen crafts of being a stonemason and blacksmith, a unfinished training would harm their careers, and while they was skilled enough to survive on other works, it would not give the kind of pleasure of working with something they loved.
“The years have passed pretty quickly, if you asks me. It is already over 17 years since our first meeting at the daycare.”
“Seventeen and almost half a year, to be more precise according to the date.”
During those years as friends, they had rarely been fighting in a more serious manner, and defended each other against bullies who found the friendship between a Elf and a Dwarf to be unacceptable. Even their families had joined together at times when they had revealed how some people tried to ruin their friendship for a rather silly reason. Granted, Dwarrowdams like Narvi were rarely born and in generally fiery protected by family members, but Frigga had raised Balder as a single mother from a rather young age and this had affected how the Asar family viewed the world.
“And I am very grateful for that they choose the same daycare center as I already was in. I think my life would have been much boring without you.”
“Though you may have been free from Odin's glares at you.”
It was a old joke between the two families that Narvi's brother really did not like his sister hanging around an Elf. Celebrimbor snorted. “Odin is harmless, in fact I think he may be glaring at me because I am literally the closest thing to a boyfriend you ever have had during your life.”
“Boys are stupid, you are from a smart family and knows how to talk despite only having menfolk being born, with the ladies by marriage,” Narvi commented straight back, and since he did not having a good response to it, Celebrimbor choose to remain quiet rather than saying something stupid.
After a few minutes of slightly awkward silence, Celebrimbor asked carefully:
“Have you started to get any marriage proposals yet? I have heard that you are around that age now.”
“Since I was sixteen and according to old traditions, old enough to choose without my parents' help. Pretty much every single such letter have ended up as fuel for the fireplace or our pipes.”
In fact, Narvi had lightened her pipe and now started to smoke. Celebrimbor waved the smoke away from his face, he was used to her smoking since it was part of the traditions of her race yet he did not want any tears in his eyes or coughing right now.
“Do not me wrong, I would like to marry one day but not someone who may be a total stranger that I first meet at the altar. It is viewed as an indignity to Dwarrowdams to set up a arranged marriage for us without our consent first. Normally it is only done in desperate situations.”
Celebrimbor nodded, he recalled the stories about how the Dwarven cities of Belegost and Nogrod had been heavy destroyed in a old war and still was not viewed as safe to live in. Rumours even claimed that Morgoth and Sauron, who once had been the two top crime leaders in the dark side of sociality across Middle-Earth before being put in lifelong prison without the possibility of parole, had been behind it.
“That reminds me...you have been a bit cross at me for being rather absent from your company this spring, right? Well...this is the reason.” In his hands, Celebrimbor held up the kind of box meant for jewelry, carefully bound with a nice ribbon of green silk. As he held it towards her, Narvi accepted and placed the box in the lap for a easier way of opening it. She knew that he had jewellry as a side hobby, if he could not focus on what he worked on as a blacksmith.
“An early graduation gift?”
Narvi did so, revealing a stunning set of a diamond and emerald jewelry set in silver, its necklace design being in two parts with the upper one being more board focusing on a single, larger emerald in the middle while the lower part had raindrop-shaped emerald pointing downwards from its diamond bindings and finishing with a pearl hanging from a central-dropping emerald. Long, hanging earrings, a bracelet and a tiana in the same style were in the box was well. She looked up at Celebrimbor, too stunned in surprise to say a word at first.
“For me there is no woman more perfect than you in this world, and that is why my heart belongs to you and I wish to give you my love fully and unconditionally. We have had good and bad moments, but, nevertheless, the love between the two of us has grown bigger every day. My real-life princess, would you like to become the queen of my heart? I want you to be my wife. ”
Realizing that he was really giving her a marriage proposal of his own, and likely had wished to hear if she was still free or had accepted to marry someone else already, Narvi could not speak anything yet. Instead, she pulled him closer to her own level and kissed him, in a manner they never had done before as friends.
“And this, sweet Frëja, is another one of my favorite part of our wedding,” Celebrimbor explained to the small toddler in his lap as he switched to another photo in the large photo album where he and Narvi was dancing together at their wedding. He could still remember it, the stunning sight of her, his bride , arriving to the altar in her mint-coloured wedding dress and the soft lilac wedding veil over her white-blonde hair, matching his silver suit.
Frëja slammed her open hands on the photo, forcing Celebrimbor to return to the present and prevent her from pushing the album onto the floor from the sofa. A doorbell rang from the other hand of the house.
“Uncles! Thank goodness for that you arrived, Narvi and I have to leave soon,” Celebrimbor said as Maedhros and Maglor ented, struggling with stopping the toddler in his arms from crawling all over him. They had needed someone to babysit Frëja because of a unexpected invitation to a feast at the House of Durin, and it was a adults-only event. And since the invitation had arrived on a rather short note, they had almost panicked in a attempt to find a babysitter in time.
“No worry, nephew. We will gladly watch this little princess tonight,” Maglor said to calm down Celebrimbor. By now Frëja recognized her great-uncles and broke out in a big smile.
She was still learning to speak, and thus could not really pronounce words right, yet she made a clear attempt at getting it correct.
“Hi there, cutie. Do you want to play?” Maedhros asked her with a smile, careful in not letting her pull on his prosthetic hand which he wore since his right hand had been so badly damaged in a car accident many years ago, where he almost had lost his life as well, had not his cousin Fingon witness it happen and been so quick in dragging him out from the car while calling the police and closest hospital. It had been a great shock that the doctors had been forced to amputate his hand due to the damage, but in the long run Maedhros had adjusted to the prosthetic hand.
“Celebrimbor, get ready! I am almost done!” called Narvi from the bathroom, where she just had finished adding a blue eyeshadow to highlight her green eyes. A simple lip balm was enough as final touch.
“I am finished with my tuxedo, honey.”
Now when they both were ready to go, Frëja got a big kiss from each parent before they left the house. She looked a little sad over them leaving, but this was not the first time her family members had babysat her so Frëja knew that her parents would come back eventually.
“So, princess, it seems like the two of us are gonna be your servants for this evening. If it pleases you in playing with Nelyo for a little while, I can cook those blueberry pancakes you seem to like so much,” Maglor offered, to which Frëja looked at him instead.
“Panas!” she tried to say with that big smile she always had at someone mentioning her favorite food, making Maedhros chuckle at the horrible attempts to say pancakes. Suddenly, as she suddenly sneezed with such force that she nearly was dropped from the surprised Maedhros' arms, Frëja accidentally gave her red-haired great-uncle a headbutt on his jaw.
“Ow… half-Dwarf indeed,” Maedhros commented in slight pain, seeing that Frëja looked pretty terrified at seeing him hurt. Thankfully, Maglor managed to calm her down before they had to deal with a loud crying.
“Alright, you better start making those pancakes before things get worse.”
Maedhros went to the living room to keep Frëja busy with her toys, while Maglor went to the kitchen to start making dinner.