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The Vessel
Chapter 5: When to wear a Velvet Dress or when to yank a wanker

***

I stand in the doorway of the house. It stretches and goes on and on and I always feel I have never seen it all; that many rooms remain hidden. I know I have never seen the inside of my father’s study; I was never welcome, never old enough, never intelligent enough to carry a decent conversation with a man of business. Now, it is all mine. Every room I was not allowed in, every wall I was not allowed to touch, every piece of furniture I was not allowed to sit on, every blade of grass I was not allowed to curl my toes in. I feel the sudden urge to run barefoot through the gardens and step on all the flowers that were more important than me. The instrument is in the living room. In truth, it is all I want out of all of this. I do not even wish to raise my children in this cold place. I turn around and see the face of my beloved Nana, who is wearing pearls and holding my Kool-Aid pitcher. “Come Lirimaer”, she whispers, her voice deep and sounding strangely like Haldir’s, “Come, lirimaer, let us fill this vessel….”

***

He heard Rumil gasp. Or was it himself? He pulled her closer in the safety net of his arms, if that was possible and held her tighter. Of all the things he expected to hear, that was not one of them. The little boy in the illustrations, died? A constricted pain opened for her in his heart. Her breath was ragged in her chest and slowly, she fell into a trouble respite.

Her small cries broke his heart.

Unhurried, his eyes rose to his Lady. His voice, while quiet, was firm and unyielding. “You will give her something to let her sleep peacefully or I will.” Never had he spoken to her or Celeborn in this manner nor had he ever thought to. He had never questioned them, never disobeyed an order. Until now.

Celeborn came around to stand with his wife. “Haldir, she needs to release, she needs to accept-“

“You will give her something to aid her rest or I will.” His voice brooked no argument, no choice. Haldir clasped her to him, as if to protect her from all of them. Celeborn was not surprised. His wife was not the only who could read the obvious signs. “She has remembered enough tonight. You will do so for her now, or I will.”

Galadriel slid onto the bed and stroked Bronwyn’s head. She still cried and Haldir’s neck was slick as with rain. “The longer it takes for her to remember and accept, the longer she will be your responsibility.”

“I do not care! If she drives me insane for the rest of her life, I will be her protector, her guardian, and her watcher. You will give it now, or I will. ” His voice, while still quiet, was fierce. Rumil stood back in the shadows in shock. Never, never would he have thought his brother would stand against his Lord and Lady. What had this small woman done to him?

Galadriel looked at her husband and he nodded. She said the words over Bronwyn and Haldir felt her relax in his arms. Her fists unclenched and her ankles slipped from between his legs. He slowly slid from her grasp and stood next to the bed, tucking her in and covering her nakedness.

“In almost three thousand years, I have never defied you.”

Celeborn smiled grimly. “No, you have not.”

“I have never questioned you.”

Again. “No, you have not.”

“I have never asked you to explain your reasoning or plans.”

“No. You have not. You have always ever been a faithful servant and a loyal guardian.”

Haldir pulled at his braid, loosening it from its clasp and unwound it. He shook his hair completely free and ran his fingers through it. “I would ask you to tell me who she is. I would ask you to tell me why she is so important that she has been dropped into our world, because it is obvious she is not of Middle Earth. And I would ask you to tell me why she is becoming so important to me, even though it pains me to admit it.” He reverted to the Common Tongue and used her words. “I want you to tell me what the hell is going on!”

Galadriel stood up next to her husband. She took him by the hand, tenderly and gently and whispered in Quenya, “Do not punish or be angry with him. He has just committed himself to her and is simply worried for her well being. If he is going to step in the role chosen for him, he should know the consequences.” The Silver Lord touched the Golden Lady on the chin and looked at his March Warden.

“I will not punish him, but for now, he knows all he needs to be on his guard. This decision should be his free will and not chosen because of his feeling of duty or responsibility.” He looked down at the sleeping woman. “Then again, maybe guarding her for the ages is punishment enough.”

He responded to Haldir. “No.”

***

Bronwyn’s days fell into an unchanging habit of mornings at the bathing pool, followed by time spent with The Lady, afternoons at the archery field, and evenings spent with Haldir and his brothers. She found peace in the routine, not that it was monotonous – it wasn’t. Galadriel liked to talk of many things. She told Bronwyn of their heritage, the Valar, The Gray Havens, the Undying Lands, of the Cottage of Lost Play. Bronwyn was enchanted by the Elven and Middle Earth’s history and asked many questions. Galadriel discovered Bronwyn was like a walking book – she retained all that was told her and she forgot nothing. On days Bronwyn didn’t feel like doing a lot of talking, they did needlework. Bronwyn did not know that after she left, Galadriel spent a great deal of time studying the tiny, precise stitches she created on the cloth. She enjoyed sitting on the grass and giggling…giggling like little girls at a slumber party. It was not unusual to see Orophin or Rumil on their hands and knees, pruning or pulling. And pry as she might, Galadriel would never tell her what they had done to warrant such treatment. She just smiled and said, “Little Elflings will be little Elflings.”

If Galadriel liked to talk, Bronwyn loved to rant.

Mostly, she ranted about Haldir.

“He is an arrogant, arrogant arse! I can’t see how anyone can abide him! No wonder he has never married, in-what? Three thousand years? Talk about set in your ways!”

Galadriel smiled. She was yet again, trying to coax Bronwyn’s massive mane of hair into some resemblance of a traditional Elven braid. But in truth, she had discovered that Bronwyn talked her way through issues when she did this calming habit. More revelations had been made during this peaceful time in the mornings. Only this morning, there wasn’t much peace.

Our March Warden is not the only one set in his ways.

“I can’t stand him. He stands over me and orders me around like I’m a child. ‘Do not wear this around your neck. It is dangerous. Do not flirt with Rumil when he coaches you with archery. Do not smile at your adversary. Why, in the name of Elwe, do you insist on singing? What is that noise you are forcing upon our ears? I do not give a single fig if he is The King of Rock and Roll! Do not do this, do not do that, yada, yada, yada!” Her right hand opened and closed like a goose bill and she arched an eyebrow in a frighteningly likeness of the March Warden. Galadriel smiled. She had learned many days ago exactly what ‘yada, yada, yada’ meant and it still tickled her. “I don’t understand how anyone could give birth to such a dour person!” She thought for a moment. “Was he like that as a child? Or did some poor soul drop him full grown from a tree?”

“Oh yes.” Galadriel smiled at the memory. “He was born arrogant. I assisted his mother at his birth. It was not an easy labor and he was large, for an Elfling. He did not cry upon his entry into the world. He just glared at all those around, as if to blame us for removing him from his warm shelter.” She smiled at the memory. “Once – I believe it was the first mereth, the little ones came to – they had to invite someone to the festival. Haldir was not more than, I suppose 60, and he marched into a group of giggling little elleths, pointed to the quietest one and barked ‘Do you have a date?’. The poor thing was terrified and stammered no. So he told her ‘Fine! You will go with me.’* I could not believe when I heard about it. He has always been authoritative, our Haldir.” The brushing and braiding continued. Bronwyn had gone into a dreamlike state.

“He must have been difficult for his parents to raise. I suppose they have already left for the Gray Havens, the Undying Lands.” Her voice was softer, no longer angry. “Our Haldir. It sounds as if you truly care for him. That he is more to you than a March Warden.”

“Yes, we do care for him. Deeply. He and both of his brothers.” Galadriel’s mind wandered back to those many years ago. “His father was killed in an Orc raid on the Northern Fence not long after the dance. Their mother grieved herself and faded before we could even get his body home. All three boys were left orphaned and Celeborn and I raised them. Haldir never cried. At least not that anyone saw. It was like he closed himself off, determined to take his father’s place as quickly as possible.” Galadriel looked into the trees. “He has held his heart untouchable and aloof for always. His duty has become what is most important and what he holds most honorable.”

Bronwyn quietly to herself. “He was young when they died?”

“About 60 or 65”

Bronwyn thought a while. 60 for a child? But these were immortal beings. “How long does it take for an Elfling to reach adulthood?”

“Oh, about 100 years.” Bronwyn did the mental math in quickly. If one considered adulthood to be 18, then Haldir had lost his parents at age –

Eleven.

“A child expects to bury their parents someday, but not that young.”

Galadriel began to brush out the misshapen braids from Bronwyn’s hair. “We do not expect to bury any of our people. We expect to return to the Undying Lands when we hear the calling. But we do not expect to bury our loved ones. But we are gladdened in the knowledge that someday, they will be reborn and will be with us again.”

Oh Haldir. Left with two younger brothers to take care of. Deep in the recesses of her soul, she looked at the tall Elf in a different light. And deep inside her heart, she reserved a small, soft spot for him.

Days later, Bronwyn discovered Galadriel deep within herself. The Lady spoke to her of the Rings of Power, the One Ring; how it was forged, why it was forged, and why now it was so important to destroy it. It was the evil thing that Frodo carried that had set Haldir on edge.

“But, My Lady,” Bronwyn often referred to her as such, although she had been requested to do otherwise, “they will succeed? You seem to know all.”

“The Fellowship has broken, Bronwyn. Yet another one has fallen.” Bronwyn caught her breath. Which one? Legolas? Aragorn? One of the Hobbits? “Boromir has fallen. He was cut down protecting Meriadoc and Peregrin. He died valiantly, befitting a Knight of Gondor. “

“What of the others?” Tears slid down Bronwyn’s cheeks. She had fond memories of Boromir; he who had held her out of her retchngs and had stood up for her to Haldir.

“Frodo goes alone with Sam to Mordor, through the Dead Marshes and the Black Gate of Mordor. They will see the Ghosts of the Fallen and are in grievous danger.” She took a deep breath. “Meriadoc and Peregrin have been taken by the Uruk-Hai to Saruman. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli follow in pursuit.”

“They will rescue them, my Lady. They will find them and reclaim them and Frodo will destroy the Ring. I know they will.” She sounded firm, convinced of her belief.

“I hope you are right.”

She told her of the Silmarils and of Morgoth’s Chains. She told her of the Elves of Imladris; of Glorfindel, Elrond, and Elrond’s children – her grandchildren. She told her of Mirkwood and Thranduil, father of Legolas. She told her of Man, of Isildur, of Gondor, the Shire folk, of Aragorn. And Arwen.

And Bronwyn drank it all in. She remembered every word. And all the while, while she was listening, she quietly twirled an errant lock of hair, much to the bemusement of The Lady.

***

Occasionally Alilien would join them. She was trying to teach Bronwyn Sindarian and Bronwyn, for all of her other incredible skills, was not grasping the lilt and nuance of the language very well. Alilien was quiet and shy and Bronwyn liked her. Liked her a lot. So, she pronounced that since Alilien had been so supportive that first day on the archery field when the world could have come crashing down, and since the elleth was being beyond patient while she, Bronwyn, butchered their beautiful language, she was going to do something for her.

So she taught her to belly – dance.

Galadriel and Celeborn sat in the gazebo watching the antics of the two females, one bursting with life and not knowing why and the second, shy, reserved, mimicking her best, just trying to keep up. Celeborn looked at his wife. “What do you mean I am not allowed laugh? Why not? This is the most fun I have had since I had you and Haldir in bed together!” Galadriel swatted him across his thigh.

“You are nothing but a perverted old Elf.” She smiled serenely. “It is why I married you to begin with! But, yes it is funny to look at and they do not need to know that!” She looked at him out of the side of her eyes. “I thought you said yesterday was the most fun you have had!” Celeborn smiled. Yesterday, he found his wife, Bronwyn, and Alilien sitting in the grass, with strips of shredded cloth between their toes, painting each others toenails. His wife had not looked that young and innocent since the early days of their marriage. His thoughts drifted back to the present.

Foreign sounding music soared through the trees, rhythmic with percussive instruments. Bronwyn had finally realized a few days back that she was creating it and she was still learning to master the control of the swells. There had been several gentle reports of her walking through Caras Galadon with blaring sounds of ‘Pyromania’ or ‘You shook me all night long.’ blaring into the treetops. ‘Pink Cadillac’ and others of a similar vein could be heard over the archery field when she was down there. Chaos followed her and no one seemed to care, save one, furious Elf. She apparently had a wide interest in musical styles, if an Elf could call it music and they discovered that in fits of vexation she could change from the swells of Mozart to the blaring heavy metal that brought Elven ears ringing of Metallica in a heartbeat. Galadriel quickly learned to tell her mood or the proximity of Haldir by what she was listening to. And if you asked, she would tell you what she was forcing all those around her to hearken to. It could be said that when she discovered what music the Elves considered noise, she took it elsewhere to experience and enjoy.

The two females were positioned across from each other in the center of the garden and both were barefoot, red-tinted toenails a pretty picture in the grass. Bronwyn was in her leggings – she called them ‘jeans’. Her shirt was rolled up and tied in a knot under her breasts. Her sleeves were rolled up as high as she could get them and she had had Alilien use the cuff ties to tie them at her shoulders. Her arms and belly were bare. Her stomach was flat, yet gently rounded and soft; none of ridged, strong abs of the Elves were noticeable; her arms were long and graceful and Celeborn had decided that she had the most beautiful hands in all Middle Earth. Alilien was across from her. She had been coaxed out of her tunic, but she refused to roll up her undershirt or roll down the waist of her leggings. The fact that there were no less than twenty pairs of Elven eyes watching from every opening in the hedge could have had a lot to with it. The gyrations of their hips and bellies had every male in the vicinity sighing with want.

“So, Orophin”, one friend asked him, “has Alilien tried any of those moves with you yet?” Orophin took the jesting in good faith and smiled. He would never tell anyone that in the quiet of the night, under the moon, both of them practiced the moves together, nude, much to the delight of each other.

Haldir just glared.

And pulled at his braid.

***

His treatment of Bronwyn had not changed outwardly. As much as he hated it, life on the archery range was changing just as swiftly as life in the Lady’s Garden. Every day, more and more archers came to suddenly “brush up on skills” in the afternoon. The crowd had grown to such a proportion that Haldir was seriously considering having all banned from the range in the afternoons except for Bronwyn and her instructors.

She had the audacity to show up with the cross and chord on her neck again the next day. Deciding to teach her a painful, but necessary lesson, he grabbed it and proceeded to choke her. “See how easy it is for someone t..ouff!” and he found himself on the ground, stars swimming in a circle because she kneed him where no Elf or man wanted to be kneed. When the stars cleared, she had removed the offending necklace and was weaving it in her ponytail.

“All you had to say was take it off, neithadol!” She stalked off, scowling, yanking furiously at the ponytail.

“Wrong head? That woman called me a wrong head?” Haldir’s vision was clearing slowly and he saw Rumil leaning over him.

“We could not find a suitable translation for ‘dumbass’, whatever that is.” Rumil gave him a hand up. “My apologies.”

And for the first time in a thousand years, Haldir was seen to give a small smile in public.

She was still storming down the field, angrily tucking the chord into her ponytail when she caught Orophin looking at her strangely. She cocked one eyebrow. “What?”

He whispered to Alilien “She is so angry. She is spending too much time wi-“

“I know. I see it too.”

Haldir had decided at another point it was her clothing causing so much ruckus, so he had borrowed leggings and a tunic from one of the smaller archers. She hopped and bounced and constantly pulled the seat of the leggings out of her crack and fussed with the collar of the tunic and scratched until she dropped her bow and arrows and ran back to the talan to change.

She drank it all in, enjoying the attention and reveling in it. Rumil flirted with her shamelessly; he insisted on wrapping her in a loose embrace, arms brushing against the sides of her breasts, cheek to cheek, her backside flush against him and he whispered encouragement and other things that she did not understand. She would elbow him painfully, when she felt he was too close. She was splitting her own arrows without thought, without a second glance. She had Elves cheering ‘Wickedly Brilliant!’, ‘Awesome’, and ‘Kewl Beanies!’ at a number of her antics! Heridil had worked for an hour, finally figuring what was wrong with the quiver that she had had so much problems reaching and then spent another hour teaching her to pull arrows quickly from it. They were awed on the day she ran down the field, shooting as she ran and never missing the bulls eye. “Never has an Elf learned so fast,” Orophin leaned over and whispered to him. “She is as good as any archer on the Fence.”

Haldir scowled. “No she is not. She needs to learn sword skills.”

So she learned sword skills.

She swung it deftly, frightfully barbaric in her attack. She hacked at everything, there was no beauty, no grace in her movements. It was ugly. Her first instructor, took a grievous injury to his arm that alarmed all, especially her. She dropped her sword, held him and cried until a healer arrived. After that, she was only given a shaped piece of wood, which upset her just as greatly. Haldir took quiet pleasure in her frustration and she rained curses upon his head. After two days of watching his eldest brother gloat, Orophin took over. She had become stubborn and the set of her spine was stiff and unyielding; she had not given up, but it was not getting her anywhere. He took her real sword and his and stuck them in the ground, point down.

“Rinc,” he said in Sindarin first, then slowly, cautiously reverted to the Common Tongue. “Move. Dance.” And took her by the hand.

As she had taught Alilien, he taught her; gliding, graceful, twirling slowly, sensual body movement. They moved together, her behind him, willowy and sinuous. As they came around the swords, he pulled his from the ground and she pulled hers and the sword became an extension of her arm. She welded it as a master.

Alilien looked on with tears in her eyes, loving Orophin more.

Haldir glowered. He yanked until the fastenings of his braid came loose and he had to go inside the tower to redo them.

In the evenings, Rumil would sing to her Elven songs and music from the ages past while fletching arrows. Rumil had a most exceptional voice, even for an Elf and Celeborn had loaned her a harp. She would listen and accompany, sometimes humming along.

But deep in the night, after she fell into exhausted sleep, Haldir had made a habit of crawling into the bed with her and holding her close, promising to never leave, to always guard, whispering endearments in her ear, endearments he had never uttered to another soul.

And refused to admit to himself that his feelings for her were changing.

***

They used to say that boys are tough as nails

In every way he keeps his heart guarded as a jail

Now things have changed

I feel so old

Like any girl could drag my heart across the coals

It seems that time has killed that cruel streak in me

And breaking hearts ain’t what it used to be……

(…Elton John…)

***

Bronwyn heard him enter the Garden. She sat alone with her back to the entrance and was engrossed by the Glade where The Mirror lay. It was the one place in the garden she was gently ushered away from anytime she approached it and so she had decided she really didn’t want to go in there. She felt his presence behind her, knew him by his smell. In recent days, they held each other at arms length; polite, cordial even, no raised voices in argument. She knew what would set him off and he, her and they avoided those areas as much as possible. It was if they had come to a comfortable arrangement and were playing roles laid out for them. He still was not kind, but it didn’t seem as if he went out of his way to taunt her anymore. She heard a thud next to her.

Bronwyn found her roll laying there. She had purposely ignored it. Purposely refused to look into it. Anything retrieved from it, had been gotten by another. She didn’t want to know what it was, what was in it, what it could mean. As of recent days, she had had no dreams, except the feeling that she slept in a safe, warm haven, protected from the storms in her mind, like a cocoon. She did not want to look at it now.

“Why did you bring that?”

“My Lady wishes you to go through it. She feels it might help spark your memory and help you to place yourself.”

She didn’t look at him, but he could hear the snarl in her voice. “Tell her I don’t want to. Tell her I like it here as I am.” Her hand moved to her ponytail. “If I am an inconvenience, I will leave.”

“Ah, Bronwyn! Look what Haldir brought!” Galadriel and Celeborn walked up behind her. Bronwyn looked over her shoulder at the three.

“Yeah. Nice.” she said dryly. Pull.

“Oh Bronwyn. Do not be so glum. Do you not want to remember who you are?”

Galadriel sat down next to her in the cool grass, Celeborn sitting across. Haldir stayed where he was, as if to collect her if she chose to run away. She angrily pulled the roll towards her and flipped it around. The first thing she saw the small battered scrap tucked in the strings.

“Teddy.” She reached over and freed him from the bondage of the roll and stared, awash with memories.

Teddy.

Her teddy.

“What is a teddy?” Celeborn probed gently. She was quiet for several minutes. Tears had begun to coarse down her checks. She was not aware that Haldir had squatted down behind her, just over her shoulder.

“Teddy. He’s a teddy…bear. It’s a chil…dren’s toy from my…home.” Words came hard, the voice almost inaudible.

“Who did Teddy belong to?” Celeborn realized that Haldir was working to hold everything in check. He had not wanted to do this, had pleaded with Celeborn and Galadriel to leave it be. They knew he had been doing something to quell her dreams; he denied giving any words to help her sleep. But they did not know what else he could be doing to aid her. They were determined to bring it to its fruition. Time grew short.

Her voice was far, far away. It seemed she was mouthing the words, but they were audible to Elven ears. “He was mine.” She brought him up to her nose and buried her face in its body, allowed tears to drizzle on its battered, worn face. “He was mine. He was Duncan’s”

Her child.

She laid the teddy down in her lap and grabbed at the roll, tears never quelled. She angrily undid the ties and snapped it open, showing its treasures to the foursome.

The first thing she was aware of was velvet. There were other things, but she moved them aside and picked up the velvet dress. Her eyes were dead as she held it up.

“Oh, Bronwyn. That looks very pretty.” She stood up and held it out in front of her.

It was medieval style, purchased by…who?…at a faire. A medieval faire. Deep red – burgundy. It was long, with long sleeves, the neck was round, low, dipping deep. It looked like it would fit as a second skin. She looked down into the pile of things and saw matching slippers. Slowly, she sank back down and began to weed through the other items, handing the dress to Galadriel. There was a long black woolen coat with no sleeves and no fasteners, a small bag, of matching burgundy velvet. She reached for it and opened it.

The jewelry rolled out into her hands, it seemed to be a net of sorts, encrusted with garnets. She realized they would match the dress perfectly. She opened it up and spread them out. It was a headpiece, a jeweled cap, and she laid it aside.

Galadriel was watching closely. There was no joy in her face as she went through each item, the scented vials, the cleaning blocks, the vee shaped jet-encrusted belt, fingerless gloves made of leather. She didn’t seem to be surprised to see the items, she said nothing as she went through each piece. The only reaction had been to the stuffed animal. Haldir, she noticed, was becoming more and more like stone. Bronwyn had gotten to her knees and was unfastening the roll. It made a zipping, metallic noise and she spread it wide to find more black clothing tucked into the roll. Another pair of leggings, three more shirts, that fastened up the front, another with a long neck, one with no sleeves and low neckline, a pair of wicked, sharp spurs, underclothes. A small vial of black liquid. She spread everything out.

Buried at the bottom, she saw the book.

Her head leaned to one side before reaching for it.

She went through each page, touched each illustration. Tears flowed freely down her checks. She closed it. Replaced it and every single item within, save the teddy bear. Rolled it all back up. She stood up, tucked the teddy bear in at the back of her waistband, and handed the entire thing to Haldir.

“I’m going to the archery field.” She started toward the opening in the hedge.

Galadriel looked hard at Haldir. He looked furious, his hand tightening on his braid.

“Bronwyn.” She stopped, but did not turn around. “You have seen little of our beautiful countryside. Tomorrow, Haldir will be pleased to take you to the river on a picnic and show you the beauty of our natural surroundings.”

Haldir stared at Galadriel, not believing what he was hearing. She spoke quietly, in his mind; She hides, she has been so badly bruised, so badly betrayed, she wants to trust no one. She is frightened. Her fury will only increase if she does not release and embrace her destiny. Give her a reason to believe in herself. Give her a reason to want to move on.

He stood up with her roll and strode up to her. “We will go to the river tomorrow. You will wear the red dress. I would like to see it on you.” And with that, he left.

Bronwyn looked back at Galadriel and Celeborn, still sitting on the grass. She smiled morosely. “That rat bastard just ordered me to wear a dress to a picnic by the river. Some things never change, do they?” She stalked off between the hedges.

Celeborn realized he had been holding his breath. He released it in a long, drawn out sigh. “Iluvatar help us; he argues like she does and she stalks like him, now. She has gotten hard again. This will be difficult. What is Haldir doing to help her block herself?”

Galadriel was still looking at the hedge where the couple had fled separately. “I do not know, but it seems Haldir is stepping into his destiny sooner than anticipated and by doing so is keeping her from stepping into hers. Perhaps, it might be wise for Haldir to return to his duties on the Fence for several days. And time grows close for Bronwyn to look into the mirror.”

***

She showed up at The Great White Talan the next morning with the clothes and make up bag in tow. She was not happy. In fact, she was surly and rude to those she passed on the way. Alilien had been recruited to help with the ‘primping pimp party’, as Bronwyn had been referring to the picnic as. She felt completely set up and she had the strangest feeling Haldir felt the same as well. He certainly hadn’t said anything about it at their talan.

Their talan? When had it become theirs?

He even commented on the song Rumil had taught her with an unusual meter and seemed pleased that she had picked it up so easily.

As usual, Galadriel brushed her hair dry, enjoying the thickness and the liveliness of the curls. The two elleths appeared to be having a field day spreading out the items in the make up bag and chattering like finches. Bronwyn was disgusted with the thought that deep down, she was looking forward to spending some one on one ‘quiet time’ with Haldir. To the best of her knowledge, he was not romantically inclined and she was curious as to even why he had even agreed to spend time with her or if he in fact had been ordered as she had. He didn’t even acknowledge her presence during the day and barely at night.

They dropped the dress over her head, smoothing the sides, neatly. It did fit like second skin, dipping low to show the swells of her breasts. The dress clung to her hips and then flowed out gently to the floor. The belt, settled on her hips, clasped in the back and dipped down to point gently to her woman’s juncture. The sleeves were tight, pointed at the back of the hand. Makeup compacts and containers were spread across a mirrored table. Alilien was opening jars and vials and talking more than Bronwyn have ever heard her talk before. She gestured wildly to the vast array. “Show! Show!” Alilien was having as much difficulty mastering the Common Tongue as she had with Sindarin. Bronwyn grinned and watched as Galadriel pulled up three small stools and the woman and elleths had their heads together, noses into every piece that Bronwyn had.

They would go nuts in the cosmetic department at Bloomie’s or Harrod’s, she thought to herself. She gazed at Alilien, who had her concealer wand opened. Bronwyn didn’t think she or Galadriel needed the masking of a concealer, but Alilien was insistent, so they “concealed” the area around her bottom lip line. Cosmetic sponges were the cause of much laughter. Bronwyn finally gave up on trying to explain and ended up totally making up Alilien as well. She dusted her cheekbones with a pale pink there was barely there. Alilien sat still for the grey eyeliner pencil, but desperately wanted a glittering midnight blue eyeshadow, but Bronwyn finally talked her into a neutral grey with a smoky dark grey as highlight to compliment her dark blue eyes. (Less is more!) The only problem she had was…

…the dreaded mascara wand and eyelash curler. Alilien refused to allow the curler near her eyes and acted like she was afraid the little teeth of the wand would bite her. Bronwyn eventually modeled how to use it and Alilien did it herself. Globed it good and giggled, but it was great fun and she did let Bronwyn take the lash separator to clean the gobs.

Galadriel had the lipsticks and glosses out. Pinks, mauves, reds, browns, an array of all sorts of colors and hues. She had one tube, extracting up and down and up and down, fascinated by the twisting action. She eventually allowed Bronwyn to dab a neutral lip-gloss on her mouth. Alilien also chose a lip color similar to her own and took great delight in marking her lips and puckering up to the mirror.

Some things, you don’t have to teach a girl, Elf or not.

Bronwyn picked up a perfume spritzer and dabbed Most Precious on her pulse points. She saw Alilien dab herself as well, carefully copying the places she had seen Bronwyn pin point. She finally shooed the elleth back and proceeded to finish ‘putting on the ritz’ and was happy with the results. Clear olive skin, just a pinch of color at the cheeks, deep brown smoke in the eyes. She had pulled out a lipstick tube, only to be stopped by Galadriel.

“No. Not that color.” It was a bright red. “It is harsh. It is the color of a woman who would sell herself.” Bronwyn raised an eyebrow. This elleth had apparently been out of the forest a time or two if she knew anything about that! Galadriel was digging through the tubes and chose a deeper shade. Next to appear, was the jeweled headdress. Bronwyn put it on and the females sighed. The metal netting disappeared in her dark hair and nothing was visible but the sparkling gems, scattered about. Bronwyn looked in the mirror and saw tears in Galadriel’s eyes.

“Lle naa vanima. You will take his breath away.”

Bronwyn closed both eyes and put her hands on the table with a smack causing vials to jump. “For the love of mud, will someone please tell me why I am dressing to the teeth to go on a picnic on a frigging river bank with someone who does nothing but yell and find fault with me?”

Even Galadriel looked confused. Celeborn stuck his head in to see what the ruckus was about.

“Tithen aras. You are all beautiful.” She threw her mascara at him. Celeborn, with the reflexes of a seasoned warrior, rubbed his nose where she nailed him.

Galadriel still looked confused. Alilien looked like she wanted to crawl under the bed. It dawned on Bronwyn what she had said.

Ahem.

“Galadriel. This dress is too nice for a picnic on the riverbank. I’m afraid I will mess it up.”

Galadriel smiled serenely. “Haldir will not care.”

Oh. Hal-dear will not care. Blah!

“Why does he want to take me on a picnic? He can’t stand to be in my presence!”

Celeborn chuckled. “He moons after you like a love-sick Elfling.”

Bronwyn laughed. “You call that mooning? You think that is love-sick>? You are too sick for words!” Both Celeborn and Galadriel looked confused and she shook her head, refusing to explain what she had said. Galadriel went to a box stored in a trunk and bade her to sit. She pulled a strand of blood red jewels from it and put them around her neck. The fire-rubies draped elegantly around her throat and dipped to her breasts.

“Galadriel, these are beautiful. I am honored.” Galadriel smiled.

“They have not been worn in many, many years. They belonged to Haldir’s mother and it is good to see them illuminate a smile from a spirited woman again. Now, quickly, put on your shoes. Haldir is here.”

***

When they had left, Galadriel noticed Liandrien lurking at the edge of the garden, malcontent etched on her face. “Here” she said to her, handing her the offending lipstick tub. “This color should be right for you.” Liandrien had the graciousness to accept the gift courteously and leave. She watched as the couple walked stiffly down the pathway to the river. “I hope we packed enough wine.”

Her husband looked from behind her. ” I hope they have the sense to stop fighting long enough in order to drink it.”

***

Tithen aras. – Little dear

Lle naa vanima. – You are beautiful

 

A/N – I have been very blessed to have come in contact with artists who enjoyed sharing their art as much as I enjoying sharing mine. I appreciate and love each piece that has been gifted to me. Sadly, I do not know who did the cover picture above as it wasn’t signed and was sent to me over 15 years ago. I suspect it was LadyScot, who did several pieces of art for me and they were similar to this.