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And Fair She Was And Free

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Lindórinand was even more beautiful than they’d expected. 

Celebrían grabbed Amroth’s arm and pointed as yet another small bird fluttered through the undergrowth. “Look, did you see its shine? The song birds have such sweet voices here.”

“I saw,” he agreed, “I wonder if we scared it.” Birds did not usually run from the two of them but here, in this valley of gold, who knew? Certainly the Silvan elves Father and their mothers had introduced them too were more skittish than the bold city-dwellers of their childhood in Eregion. 

He nudged Celebrían. “If we climb the trees we may find those pretty birds have nests.”

“You’re always looking for an excuse to climb trees,” Celebrían said, channelling all her mother’s potent scorn for just a moment. Nevertheless she scampered over to the base of one of the towering golden oaks and began to climb. 

That was one good thing about Lindórinand, Amroth thought as he swung up next to her. Ost-in-Edhil had some good old growth pines built into the foundation of the city but they were prickly playgrounds. The holly trees were even worse— so spiky! This forest was made of softer deciduous woods, beech and oak and droopy willows on the banks of the Celebrant. 

Amroth hadn’t gotten his name for climbing— his mother hadn’t had one of the vaunted mother-visions spoken of in lore. He’d been named after a distant cousin who had ruled in Edhellond before crossing the sea. Still, Amroth was determined to make the most of a name that almost meant ‘climbing upwards’. 

The only nests they found were empty and abandoned— it was autumn after all. There were squirrel burrows and woodpecker feasts however, and that made the climb more than worth it. 

When the two of them finally reached the highest accessible branch they looked out over the forest canopy. Bright trees spread out before them, broken here and there by the snaking lines of waterways. In the far distance Amroth could see where Cirin of dwelling stood, the settlements distinguished only by the slightly different texture of trees. There was Cerin Amdír, and Cerin Amalion, Cerin Brethil, and Cerin Linden. 

“It seems to my eyes,” Celebrían began slowly, preemptively looking around as if Lady Galadriel could ambush her even here. “That even you wouldn’t be able to jump to that next tree.”

Amroth did a quick perimeter check as well. His father was king here now, by some turn of events, and being a prince meant there were expectations of you. You could only disappoint people who saw you, he reasoned, and the surrounding still looked clear of any other elves— Silvan or Sindar. 

“A child could make the leap,” he boasted once he was certain the coast was clear. 

Celebrían laughed so loud it seemed to shake the leaves. “Prove it!”

Amroth jumped and landed then raced along swaying branches to the next stately oak, certain that Celebrían would be behind him. No power could part them for long. 

They had been raised together from their earliest years. Father and Mother had settled for a time in Eregion with their old friends from Doriath, Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn, and the four of them had resolved to start families together. It wasn’t an uncommon arrangement for elves. To have a playmate of an age with you was a rare gift for a child. 

Celebrían had held his hand as he took his first steps, had run with him through the wild woods outside of Ost-in-Edhil, and had snuck him into the workshops of the Gwaith-i-Mírdain— who Amroth wasn’t supposed to associate with. When the city had grown too full of Noldorin warmongers, nature-meddlers, and dwarf fraternisers his father and many of the other Sindar had taken their leave but Amroth and his mother had stayed with Galadriel and Celeborn. A new land would be no place for a boy barely grown, it was agreed, and besides it wouldn’t do to separate him from his oath-twin. They were barely one hundred. 

As much as Amroth had missed his father he didn’t regret the choice made for him. Ost-in-Edhil had been exciting, full of new sights and interesting explosions. Then all of a sudden Mother and Lady Galadriel had decided that Lórinand was settled enough. Celebrían and Amroth had, like dutiful grown children, packed their bags and taken comfort in the fact that at least they were together. 

The home of Silvan elves and Sindar remnants was a far cry from the lofty halls of Eregion. Instead of delving deep into stone and building high turrets the woodland elves reshaped the forest. Their bowers were tree hollows or shady groves reclaimed for the space of an afternoon with throw pillows and mesh canopies of beech pulp fabric. There were no city streets for Celebrían and Amroth to run up and down. Even the woods were wilder here, for no great trade routes ran through Lindórinand. Strangers did not venture into this forest without cause. 

Though elves had lived in these endless woods since before the foundering of Beleriand they were new to the newcomers. They were new to Amroth and Celebrían. It was too easy to get lost amid the ancient trees. As Amroth wrapped an arm around the slender trunk of a birch he took a moment to look for his companion. She was on the forest floor, almost a dozen feet below. Being born of two tall warriors meant that Celebrían was sturdily built. Amroth could walk among the swaying branches, provided he didn’t try to climb too high, whereas she couldn’t. 

(Lady Galadriel, who was light on her feet in spite of her height and broad shoulders, assured her daughter that greater grace would come with age and practice. Even 200 some years old was still young enough to be awkward for an elf.) 

He curled his knees up to his chest, muscles tensing, and leaped. Once he was securely held in the leafy arms of the next tree he shouted, “Do you know where we’re going?”

Celebrían slid to a halt and tossed her silver hair out of her face. “We crossed the Celebrant going south-west. If we head north now we’ll run out of woods and into Moria by sundown.”

“Moria; where we aren’t supposed to go,” Amroth reminded her, not feeling particularly invested in following the rules today. There were more expectations placed on him than Celebrían here, where his father ruled, but all that meant was that it was her turn to be a bad influence. 

“We’ll stop at the treeline.” The grin lighting up her face made it clear that she hoped the dwarves who lived along the lakeside would come to them. 

Well, dwarves weren’t too bad. Dwarven ambassadors to Eregion had gifted the two of them marvelous toys when they were young, and dwarven smiths with the Gwaith-i-Mírdain had explained the ways of steel and fire so nicely. Amroth had even enjoyed the trip through Moria (which you called Hadhodrond if you were in dwarven company), though his mother had sworn a lot under her breath in the old tongue the whole time. All the nursery stories they’d been told about cursed caves and dishonorable regicides must have gotten something wrong. 

“Oh. That’s fine then.” He shimmied down the tree to join her so that they could walk together. Then she pushed him into a patch of stinging nettles and walking quickly turned into running. 

They were still trying to tug on each other’s braids when the sound of running water reached their ears. The earth in front of them was muddier and traced with wavering water lines from the recent rains. They’d either looped around and found the Celebrant again or stumbled on one of its little tributaries. 

None of that was odd. What was out of the ordinary was the singing. They were a long way any of the dwelling mounds of the singing valley and the tongue was not Sindarin. 

Remembering his mother’s instructions about the privacy of strangers, especially humans who grew so upset about such matters, Amroth covered his eyes with one arm and stepped forward through the thick greenery that clung to the riverbank. 

“Who is there? These woods do not get many visitors.”

Behind him he heard Celebrían gasp and then from in front of him a musical voice said, “Then it is good that I am not a visitor. This has been my home since time immemorial— it is your people who have only just arrived.”

Now that it wasn’t being sung he recognized the language. Mother and Lady Galadriel had taken pains to tutor them in it on the way to Lindórinand, for they said graciousness was what separated a houseguest from an invader. These woods had been inhabited long before the people of fallen Beleriand had come to dwell in them and those Silvan elves had spoken their own dialects in little enclaves established before the sun. 

He uncovered his eyes. 

She was not Sindarin, that much Amroth was certain of. The shape of her face, the arc of her nose, all of them were foreign to him. The Iathrim kept a fairly tight knit community and after a while you could recognize Doriath in the features of an exile even generations removed. She wasn’t of Denethor’s folk either— she lacked the leanness of limb and the dimpled chin that tended to characterize the Nandor of old Ossiriand. 

Her arms and legs were long, and bare. Instead of forest green clothing she wore white clay caked thickly onto her skin. It made her look like a wraith climbed out of the river bank— but no wraith would have golden elanor flowers woven into her hair in such quantities that her head looked like a sunburst. Her dress was short and white, woven but not sewn, and the water’s spray made it cling to her hips and waist. Next to her on the rock in the middle of the river were shoes of silvery fish skin. 

“You are a long way from home, visitors,” the woman observed, not moving from her perch. 

“We wanted to explore,” Celebrían explained. She spoke the Silvan tongue better than Amroth could hope to. He’d have to rectify that. “Sorry if we disturbed you. Is this where you live?”

“Since I had only the stars for company,” she agreed. There was movement on the other side of the riverbank and Amroth spotted girls (and the odd boy) creeping out of the undergrowth. They shared some features with the indisputable mistress of the river, and they dressed similarly, but their eyes were younger. Several of them had the distinctive curls and dimples of the Nandor, features he recognized, but these were elves he hadn’t been introduced to. 

“Once,” the woman continued as the girls splashed towards her. “Now my golden woods are full of loud elves from the forgotten lands of the west. I thought you all went away but you have returned and you seek aid and comfort amid my trees.”

As a prince of the people who had disturbed her peace, Amroth felt he had to make amends. He bowed. “Thank you for your hospitality. My people are grateful for your understanding.” 

A maiden with sleek grey hair draped a white cloak around the lady of the river and glared, only to be waved off. 

“Do not thank me, thank the forest. It would not let me turn away the weary.”

“What is your name?” Amroth asked, hoping he sounded princely and not pleading.

“A name,” she mused, “The water does not demand a name. I have had many but I’ve forgotten most of them. Your kin call me Nimrodel, after the place where I dwell.”

He bowed again. “Thank you, Lady Nimrodel.”

“Do our people often visit you?” Celebrían asked. 

Nimrodel stood, footing sure even on the slippery stone, and stretched. “From time to time. I do not like the chaos they bring with them. Yet when their children— my cousins— come to me for tutoring in the ways of the forest,” she glanced back at the bright eyed elves on the other edge of the riverbank, “I cannot very well turn them away.” 

There was a hand at the back of Amroth’s neck. Celebrían squeaked. Nimrodel’s gaze turned upwards. “Ah, shining crown.”

“Lady fair,” Galadriel’s icy politeness was as terrifying as her glowing temper. “I do hope my daughter and her playmate weren’t bothering you.” 

Playmate. Amroth scowled. Like they weren’t grown elves, capable of making their own choices. The Lady Galadriel had been like a second mother to him— when he was very young he had called “aunt” in the fashion of the Falas— and like any parent she could be overbearing.

“I enjoyed their company,” Nimrodel said, out of what he suspected was spite. The secret little smile she sent his way certainly suggested as much. “It was more pleasant than the presence of some of their elders.”

Mollified, Galadriel took a step back, dragging Amroth and Celebrían with her by their scruffs. “I’m glad they minded their manners, at least. Still, King Amdír and Queen Oroberia want them.”

“Far be it from me to defy the king you have declared,” Nimrodel shrugged. “Take your children away, houseguest. And if they wish to call on me again, they can find me near the waterfalls.”

“We’ll remember that!” Celebrían piped up, twisting futilely to get away from her mother’s iron grip. 

“Farewell!” Amroth called and tried not to blush when Nimrodel smiled at him. 

Once they were out of earshot (a farther distance for elves than for men or dwarves, as Amroth had learned during his childhood in the multicultural city of Ost-in-Edhil) Galadriel let go of them and crossed her arms. 

“That was foolish. Not three weeks we’ve been in Laurenandë and you two go running off without telling anyone your whereabouts. There are orcs in the mountains, you know.”

“Oh, the mountains .” Celebrían’s scorn could have set forest fires. “The mountains that are two miles away still? Those mountains? The only folly is your determination to coddle us.”

“There are dangers in this world that you cannot understand—”

“Annatar isn’t here mother! You can stop acting paranoid. I thought Lórinand would make you calm down a little—”

“We are both trained to fight,” Amroth added, unwilling to let Celebrían face this battle alone. “We would have been safe.”

“No amount of training can save you when the Shadow comes to darken your doorstep,” Lady Galadriel said, looking at both of them with suddenly soft eyes. “I only hope you will not have to learn that lesson too soon.”

Amroth nodded, pretending he understood, and let Galadriel guide him home. As they walked through the woods he remembered Nimrodel, with streaks of pale clay on her skin and gold threaded through her hair. 

Amroth found Celebrían down by the river, soaking her feet in the cool icemelt that flowed down from the mountains. Next to her was a dark haired elf he recognized, his face lit up with a rare grin. 

“You’re right, you’re right!” Lord Elrond laughed. “Expectations everywhere. There’s nothing quite as intimidating as growing up being told you’re the spitting image of someone you can never hope to live up to.”

Celebrían’s head bobbed. “Nothing except having to face that person every day and know that you’re a disappointment, maybe.”

“Now that experience I’ve managed to skip,” Elrond said lightly, “If only because my parents were gone by my seventh nameday.”

“Goodness!” Celebrían sounded more shocked than you’d expect. Sure, an orphan was a tragedy but the details of Elrond Halfelven’s childhood were the subject of multiple ballads. Even Amroth had recognized his story. “How terrible! Who raised you, can I ask?”

“Some— ah, invested parties. It’s really no concern.”

“I think it’s sad,” Celebrían told him and rested a hand on his shoulder. This was when Amroth decided he’d had enough. 

He loudly cleared his throat and both Elrond and Celebrían whipped around to face him, their cheeks bright pink.

“Celebrían,” he said, “Your father is looking for you.” 

“Right!” she scrambled to her feet. “Sorry. I was hot after the ride and the river looked so refreshing and then I met this nice fellow.”

“Prince Amroth,” Elrond inclined his head, as if he wasn’t the leader of the entire encampment by the Bruinen. “Lady Celebrían. Thank you for your time.”

“I’ll see you around?” Celebrían offered. 

“Yes, certainly.” He made remarkable time walking away.

“Do you know who that was?” Amroth hissed, linking arms with Celebrían as they walked back towards the makeshift keep of Imladris. “That was Elrond. Gil-Galad’s herald, Elrond.”

Brief surprise crossed Celebrían’s face, only to be replaced by a concerning certainty. “Oh, that makes a lot of sense actually.”

“Celebrían,” Amroth asked, “What are you thinking?”

She stared up at the pine trees they were walking under, face pensive. “I’m thinking that I’m going to marry him someday.”

Amroth stopped in his tracks and Celebrían reluctantly ground to a halt next to him.

“What? You can’t do that. He’s your cousin!”

“Who isn’t?”

It wasn’t a bad point. There weren’t a lot of elves left who weren’t related one way or another. Amroth and Celebrían were almost entirely unattached except by marriage ties, but they were oath-twins which practically counted. Between the two of them they could count the entirety of Lórinand as relatives through blood. Poor dead Lord Celebrimbor (who had made them clockwork toys of silver and steel) was related to Celebrían. King Gil-Galad was related to both of them if you believed the stories that he was Orodreth’s son. King Oropher in the Greenwood was Lord Celeborn’s cousin and his wife was related to Amroth’s mother. 

“He’s especially your cousin,” Amroth stressed. “And he’s a thousand years older than us.”

“We’re immortal,” Celebrían threw her hair over her shoulder like they were in the woods playing games. “I have time to grow up.”

It wasn’t that Amroth didn’t like Elrond. He’d fought beside him, brought troops across the mountain to his aid, and found him to be a generally good chap. But he was solemn in an unsettling way, his eyes shone with ancient power, and his face showed signs of his mortal heritage. Celeborn’s soldiers, who had been with his forces longest, gossiped that he had to shave. 

Besides, he lived too far away. Amroth didn’t want to lose his best friend across the Misty Mountains. She was his oath-twin, his milk-sibling, his closest friend in a world where having another child within a decade of your age was good fortune. The sudden burst of knowledge, the realization that the world would inevitably pull them apart, was almost too much to bear.

“Don’t be silly,” he said and hoped that would be enough. 

Instead Celebrían looked straight at him with her dark eyes, eyes unlike Elrond’s in color but quite alike in character. “Amroth, my friend, my brother, you know my family has the gift of foresight. Believe me when I say that I am going to marry him.”

She let go of his arm. As she sashayed up the pine lined path all Amroth could think was, I wish I had the gift of foresight. I wish I knew what denizen of songs I would surely wed.

The first thing Amroth did when he came home from Edhellond was visit with his parents and tell them the news of the seaside haven. They wished to know of the fates of friends and relatives who lingered on the coast (many planned to cross the sea soon) as well as the latest stories out of the lands of Men. The sea-hungry among them sighed at the descriptions of the breaking waves and distant sails. Panlindo, who had grown up on the Isle of Balar, nearly cried. 

Amroth was eager for gossip as well. He had been away for over ninety years and Lothlórien had changed. There were new births and marriages to be celebrated, new songs to hear, and all manner of good fortune to delight over. The mellyrn now spread over most of the valley, overtaking the birch, oak, beech, and willow. Construction of the flets high up in the woods on the edge of the forest were proceeding nicely. Even with Galadriel’s fey power steeped deeply into it, Lórinand was not unchanging.

When he had finished paying his respects to his parents and monarchs, clapped all his old friends on the back, and kissed the new baby of Cerin Amdír a dozen times (his name was Orophin and his cheeks were impossibly chubby), he took his leave and began the long walk to the singing river. 

Even now, Nimrodel kept herself apart from Amdír and Oroberia’s people. She did not attend the great festivals, nor did she tolerate fishing in her waters or overgathering in her woods. She disliked hunters, the felling of trees, and loud noises, hated fire, and only barely tolerated iron. Those who came to visit her armed themselves with bow and bone knife alone— and the weapons were needed. The orcs of the mountains mostly focused their ire on the dwarves of Moria but from time to time a bold party would venture into the haunted woods of the golden lady and the green king. Though they seldom lasted long they remained a threat to travellers while they lived. 

Stripped of steel and finery, Amroth wandered through the woods, whistling. The songbirds, long accustomed to his presence, whistled back, telling him stories of predators and mating rites and territory disputes. 

There was a bridge over the river Nimrodel now. Some 300 years ago a group of young elves from Nimrodel’s court and Amdír’s had worked together to build it out of flat grey stones and living roots. It had taken them several weeks to complete, weeks of laughing in the sun and singing old Silvan songs while they coaxed the roots of the bank into the proper shape. Celebrían had done the planning and helped pick vines to wrap around fragile roots while Nimrodel had promised to keep the disturbed trees well fed with a sticky nutrient blend of her own devising. 

Amroth checked the stability of the structure as he crossed and was pleased to find it holding up well. The chalice shaped golden flowers (which thrived in the perfect climate that ruled Glornan since Celebrimbor’s fall) were even blooming. Now that Celebrían spent half her time in Imladris with her betrothed she had less attention to dedicate to old projects, leaving the burden of the upkeep on the Silvan community. He was glad to see that they’d risen to the occasion. 

Once over the bridge he kept following the river, up the rocky falls where water shouted, past the pools where it swirled and shimmered, until the foothills of the misty Mountains began in earnest. Here the land was more uneven, shaped by ancient rivers long forgotten and by the breathing of the forest. Dirt slid in chunks, revealing cuts of thick dark loam, then oxidized red earth, and finally pale clay underneath. The waterfalls next to him thundered louder. 

And here, carved into a cliff dangerously close to the laughing falls, was a little house. It was faced with white clay and the same clay, baked hard as stone by old Silvan magic, reinforced its walls, for Nimrodel had dug deep into the earth to build her home. Rounded river stones stabilized the doors and windows and a mosaic of pebbles made the floor. Painted all over in golden ochre were elanor flowers and birch trees in the fall. 

Amroth was not tall for one of his people but he still had to duck his head to enter for Nimrodel was tiny and did not shape her life around the expectations of others. Her only concession to her many visitors were the few spare rooms set aside for those who came to stay with her. Those were small and the windows cut to allow starlight to enter were little more than portholes. For Nimrodel a house was a place to sleep and maybe do some light chores. Why waste time trapped beneath the earth when the forest and the water were waiting outside?

Knowing her so well, Amroth fully anticipated having to wait several hours before her return. To his surprise she was waiting by the little hearth (never stoked too high because ventilation was an issue) when he entered. 

“You have scorned me, prince,” she said in her own tongue. The accusation in her voice was light, playful. “Three days you have been back in Lindórinand and only now you come to see me. In my own forest. 

Amroth bowed low and tried to ignore the way the firelight glimmered on her dark eyes or how she was wearing a dress his mother had made; white and simple as she preferred but edged with real gold from the dwarves. “My apologies, Nimrodel. I will try to put you before duty in the future.”

She laughed, a sound far sweeter than any of the chirps and cries of the forest yet similar in tone. Then she turned back to her work weaving a basket. That was the thing with elves older than the moon who spent thousands of years in solitude. They never took the initiative in conversation and to them a silence of hours was quick as the gap between words. Caught up in Nimrodel’s quietude or watching her sleep for days among the branches of a tree Amroth understood how two centuries had passed for Melian and Thingol. 

“Where are your maidens, your pages, your constant companions?” Amroth asked when brash youth got the best of him. 

“I sent them away,” Nimrodel looped the basket rushes with uncanny speed, hands dancing like the shadows from the fire. “I knew you would come to see me and I did not want company. I treasure Mithrellas and little Dunheneb, and even Nóruien I’d the Greenwood though her ways are strange to me. They are not party to the business between you and I, however.”

Hope caught in Amroth’s throat. He thought he was going to choke. He’d heard of elves dying of sorrow but never of joy. “And what is the business between you and I?”

Nimrodel faced him full on. “I don’t know, what do you want it to be? I cannot promise you all that you desire but I will admit I am… well disposed to you. I want to give you happiness, for you are kind. My forest has grown fond of you.”

The words spilled out of Amroth. All that time in Edhellond, planning and preparing, writing soppy love poetry in the hours between sleep and waking, and now he could not control his tongue. “I want to marry you. I have asked my father for leave to build a home of my own on a hill in the east. A little spring rises up there and runs down to the Celebrant— its song is nearly as lovely as your white water lady. We could live together, keep watch over the forest, bathe in the clear water—”

A look of such pain crossed her face that Amroth worried he’d injured her with words alone. “Oh, dear one. I cannot give you that. I cannot leave my river, I cannot leave my home. I have known you for so little time. I cannot abandon a river older than elves or men for an elf so very young.”

“We’re immortal,” Amroth said softly. “I have time to grow up. I can wait for you, however long it takes.”

She finished the basket and set it aside, then folded her hands in her lap. “I do love you. I love the way you climb to the tallest trees and how the sunlight glints off your hair. I love how softly you move, how gently you treat the creatures around you. There is a lightness to your step and a kindness in your smile. Long ago you were a stranger here but now my valley of gold embraces you as a brother. Even the water does not protest your touch.”

“I learned it all from you,” he assured her and dared to reach out to touch her hand. Not take it, just touch it. “You are the forest, Nimrodel. The light that filters through the leaves, the starlight in the pools, the flowers. I look at you and I see the earth, black and red and white. I see the flowers, elanor and niphredil. The strength of stone and the transparent delicacy of the spring tadpoles. I did not think much of being a prince of this place before you taught me how to love it.”

Her eyes flickered closed. “You see me as I am. Amroth, visitor. You might be young but you have old eyes. You will be a decent ruler of your stranger-people.”

“I will only get older,” he promised, “And my people will only grow more familiar in time. Please, think about it. I will not press my suit but I worry about you out here. The orcs grow bolder.”

Nimrodel’s eyes opened briefly and for a moment they seemed to reflect an endless field of stars. “I know. I feel them from here. Such sad creatures, in thrall to a power that hates them. In turn all they can do is hate. They come and try to despoil my forest, sully my waters. But for now I am safe. My home is guarded.”

She did not need to say what guarded her. Amroth was no stranger to the weaving of power and although Nimrodel's art was of a different nature than his mother baking lembas bread, his father coaxing fairy mounds out of flat terrain, Galadriel with her mirror and the veiled star on her hand, or Elrond and his lorebooks, it was still potent. Wildly different techniques utilized the same facts about the world and ended with generally similar results. 

“And if that changes? If they gain the upper hand?” Amroth couldn’t keep the urgency out of his voice. Talented though Nimrodel’s host was at spearing fish they were not warriors. They were not even hunters, not when it came to anything bigger than hare and squab. They did not take any more from the forest than they needed and according to them they didn’t need big game. Boar and deer alike would eat from their hands. Even the wolves of the mountains, which were half Sauron's creatures, sat docilely around their fire. 

Orcs would not. Orcs would tear them limb from limb. 

“Then I will move into a platform in the trees, like I do during the rainy season, and the orcs will flounder on the ground” Nimrodel stroked his cheek soothingly. “Speaking of which; don’t think I have not noticed your attempts to imitate me, dear prince.”

The mention of the telain, Amroth’s pet project, pulled him out the panicked spiral. Though he had taken the idea from the simple shelters where Nimrodel and her followers slept during the rainiest weeks of the year (when the risk of the mostly-dirt bluffs collapsing was too great to chance) he had much expanded on the concept. The latest talan was higher up, more permanent, and ten times as large as Nimrodel’s constructions. His time in Edhellond, a haven full of life and towering architecture, had given him even more ideas. “I did say you taught me well.”

He intended to build a home on a large talan, on the hill that he had half-jokingly dubbed Cerin Amroth. If Nimrodel ever wished to join him, it would be there. Foresight did not run in his family— it didn’t even walk. But Amroth felt in his bones that there would be a song written about their love in some far flung day, and people would speak of them in the same sentence as Beren and Lúthien.

“And you have taught me as well.” Her voice was a song even when she wasn’t singing. 

“What have I taught you?” Amroth asked, aware how deep he had fallen. Thank the stars Celebrían was caught up in her own long engagement and was too distracted to properly tease him. 

Nimrodel leaned over and kissed his cheek. Her lips were the same texture as a petal, fresh and soft. The golden reeds braided in her hair brushed his face. “You have taught me how patient love can be. Too often my admirers wish me to make space for them. They push, they pull, they demand. Half a dozen lords of the Greenwood I have sent away, ten princes of the Avari I spurned in my youth— before your people appeared in this land. You wait for me. You always wait.”

“Forever.” He stood and offered her a hand. “It’s stuffy in here, would you like to take a walk? I do believe the Nimrodel is lovely tonight.” Besides the fact that they both hated being cooped up, Amroth suspected Nimrodel’s posse would soon be returning. If he couldn’t face Celebrían with a straight face he certainly couldn’t face Mithrellas. 

They walked in the woods of Lindórinand (now called Lothlórien by many). The river sang and the birds rustled among the swaying trees. 

It was beautiful.