From her perch in the crook of a friendly tree Tindómë watched the ellyn on the practice range. As tall as his father, and equally fair-haired, their son really was very beautiful, she thought. He still had to fill out a little, lay more muscle down on his frame, but continued practice with sword or, as now, with bow, coupled with caring for the still growing forest of Eryn Ithil, would see to that over the next half yen or so. If they were still here in half a yen’s time...
She had seen Legolas’ face, on occasions, as they rode to Minas Tirith and passed a sea-going ship at the docks at Harlond; seen, too, the sadness in his eyes when something reminded him of Aragorn or Gimli’s mortality. And she had promised that when Legolas could resist the pull of the sea no longer she would go West with him. Not that she was alone in this – when the time came they would need a good sized vessel to take all of the Ithilien elves who would not have their Lord leave alone.
But just now, although Gimli certainly looked slightly more grizzled than he had when she had first met him, she was pretty sure he was – uh – middle aged? Aragorn’s hair might now be more grey than black but he could still leap the midsummer fire and Legolas was able to resist the sea-longing whilst he had those two to ground him, here, in Middle Earth.
Gimli and Aragorn had been honoured guests at Haldirin’s coming of age ceremony, a little over a year ago, as was Pippin. The elderly hobbit now lived in the King’s Household and was a firm favourite of Haldirin’s when the young ellon had occasion to visit the white city. Arwen had been a guest, too, of course – taking the opportunity to spend time not only amongst elves, but also with her brothers and grandfather who had accepted their invitations with alacrity.
Gimli, Aragorn, and Pippin had been the only mortals there, though. Haldirin had no close friends amongst the mortals in the way his parents or Legolas did. Those who had been small children when he was had long since become adults; and he had always, in any case, preferred to spend his time amongst the trees rather than visiting the city.
Tindómë had been sorry that Faramir and Éowyn, as Prince and Princess of Ithilien but also as her friends, had not been there but Faramir had not wanted to stray far from the bedside of his wife. Éowyn had been, by then, truly the White Lady. Tindómë had visited her to invite her to the celebrations only to find the frail white haired figure, in a white nightdress, now spending all her time between the white sheets of her great bed.
Éowyn had smiled and waved Tindómë to a small box on the dressing table. Inside was a pair of silver combs engraved with horses in the Rohirric style – “For you...” Éowyn had said. But also there were four small, intricately carved horses, each one drilled through to be threaded onto leather thongs –
“For Haldirin”, Éowyn had said. “For his hair. To remind him... his first riding lesson...”
And Tindómë had remembered; the visit she had thought of as ‘the summer of the Winter Elfling’ – Éowyn, Haldirin, and a plump, rather elderly, pony – all three happy in the sunshine.
Now, of the three, only Haldirin remained; Éowyn had fled the circles of the world only weeks after his celebration. But Tindómë would remember her and so would Haldirin. It was, Tindómë thought, part of the role of the immortal; to remember. That way the heroes and heroine of the Ring War would not be totally lost.
Such sad thoughts, Tindómë said to herself, and shook her head as if to chase them away. Back to watching Haldirin practicing with his uncle before he was finally, formally, tested by Eldroth, the head warden, to decide if he had yet earned his warrior braids.
In very little time, though, she found her mind drifting again but, this time, not into events that had happened. For a moment or two her body felt heavier, as it had when she had been pregnant with Haldirin half a century before, and then she heard a small, female, voice coming as if from the practice field. “Nana! Nana!”
She could still see Haldirin and Orophin together on the practice field below, but they seemed somewhat insubstantial, and she was not at all surprised to see an elfling, apparently just behind them, waving at her.
Some elves certainly had a degree of foresight but Tindómë had learned, even before she had arrived in Middle Earth so precipitously, that being The Key could also lead to useful and prophetic dreams. For a little while, back then, she had thought they were ‘Slayer’ dreams and concluded that she must be a Potential Slayer. The reality had turned out to be very different – and, she had often thought, better.
So it was with pleasure, nothing else, that she watched the small elleth apparently dancing around Haldirin and Orophin who seemed to be unaware of her. Then the elfling turned again to look straight at Tindómë. “Bye, Nana,” the little voice said, “I’ll see you again, soon.”
Ithilienne? Tindómë was suddenly wide awake again. She knew, most certainly, that the elfling would be a daughter for herself and Rumil – but Ithilienne? It wasn’t exactly an elvish name. But then, came the thought, you
are not exactly elvish either. Why not use the ‘other Earth’ system of sometimes naming children after their place of conception? It would be good, too, to bring up another child here; and such a name would always remind her, and anyone who knew her, that she had started life in these woods in Middle Earth, no matter where she ended up living in the Immortal Lands.
The more Tindómë thought about it, the more right the name seemed. She was sure Rumil would agree; he was not always quite as traditional an elf as others might expect. All she had to do now was persuade him that another elfling would be a good idea...
It took less persuading than she had expected.
“You are right, meleth,” he said, even before she mentioned her waking dream. “Despite how it has suffered, this is a good place for an elfling; just as we nurture the land and the trees, so they nurture our young. I do not think Legolas will have to surrender to the Sea Longing just yet – but if we leave it too long perhaps he may do. Then it could be many years before we find a home in Aman where we feel it is right to have another elfling.”
He spoke so acceptingly of them needing to find themselves a place in the Undying Lands – he had no expectation that there would be somewhere just ready for them – and yet he had never said one word to suggest he did not agree with Tindómë’s decision to sail with Legolas. Inside this, seemingly quiet and serious, husband of hers was a distinct sense of adventure, for sure.
“Do you wish to prepare your hroar for another pregnancy right away?” he asked. “It would mean the elfling being born in the autumn – you would spend all summer moving slowly.”
Tindómë nestled into his arms, and thought about it for a little before replying.
“I would like an autumn elfling. I would feel as if I was part of all of nature, swelling and ripening in the sunshine…”
In such close contact she knew the effect such a mental image had on him; not only through their soul bond, but by the physical sensation of his lengthening and hardening grond against her belly.
“Perhaps we should practice tonight,” she suggested with a grin, “to perfect our technique…”
She told him, later, about her wakening dream.
He repeated the name, “Ithilienne,” three or four times, slowly. “Yes,” he said then, “it is a good name.”
And so, as Galadriel had taught her, she began to ‘prepare her hroar’.
That immortals, well elves anyway, did not have a monthly cycle was a great relief to Tindómë; it explained, apart from anything else, why Dawn had always been a bit hit and miss in that direction. With her knowledge of biology it also made sense – even if a female is born with a lot of unripened eggs, if she shed one a month from puberty, she would surely have run out by the time she was 1,000 or so! And a lot of ellyth, despite that weird book Legolas found in the library at Minas Tirith, seemed to give birth past that age.
‘Preparing the hroar’ involved daily meditation and drinking a special combination of herbs mixed with wine. When she had done it in readiness for Haldirin’s conception Tária and Lúthwen, who had both recently given birth, had helped and reassured her. She asked them both to support her through the process again; one day, she promised herself, she would do the same for Lithôniel when she was bound to Orophin.
Within days of beginning the process she had what Dawn would have called a ‘visit from Aunty Flo’ – the blood met with celebration from her ‘supporters’ as it showed the meditation and herbs were working. When the bleeding stopped, the herbs were changed for others, and the meditation continued for ten more days. Tindómë recognised that this Elven ritual was clearly designed to prepare her womb and then stimulate ovulation. There was something incredibly ‘old’ about it, and she relished every minute of it, just as she had the first time.
Rumil’s role was to ‘strengthen her fëa’; no special herbs for him. Ellyn, as Galadriel had also explained, were taught when they came of age how to ‘draw from within to have fertile seed’. The only sense Tindómë had made of this, from what Galadriel had said and then Rumil’s attempt to describe the process when she had asked, was that ellyn, somehow, usually ‘fired blanks’. Of course elves didn’t understand ‘firing blanks’ – finally she suggested ‘headless arrows’. Rumil had laughed out loud and then said it was more as if, even though the elven name for semen was eredh (seed), they added the actual seed by choice – like adding spices to wine!
His role of ‘strengthening her fëa’ did, however, involve a lot of sharing of thoughts and emotions, bodies wrapped together – but no physical joining until the ten days of the final phase of preparing Tindómë’s hroar was complete.
Today was that tenth day. Tonight they would join; and join and join again until they were sure – as Tária and Lúthwen had explained, with great glee, that first time!
Haldirin had been conceived in their bed but, for Ithilienne, Rumil had other plans.
“She should be conceived in the woods, meleth, if her name is to be a remembrance of them. And under Ithil…”
And their planning had been perfect – as the sun set, the full moon began to rise.
“Men call this the harvest moon,” Rumil said. “Elves call it the wine moon. It is certainly the moon of fruitfulness – the perfect night to conceive our daughter, meleth.”
They took a basket with wine and food to a favourite spot under the branches of a spreading chestnut tree. As they ate Rumil casually picked up ripe chestnuts, and put them into the basket, discarding the prickly outer husks by tossing them a little way away.
“We would not want to be distracted at an inopportune moment,” he said, with a slow smile.
By the time they were sipping from the same glass the area around them was prickle-free; and the level of emotion was heightening more and more. A little later and the moonlight shone through the chestnut tree onto their naked bodies as they slowly came closer and closer to joining – and then two bodies became as one, the rhythm changed and they pushed each other towards flight.
They concentrated, too, on keeping their minds completely open to each other – ‘the fëar should be as one for the infant fëa to form,’ Tindómë had been told by Lady Galadriel. She still wasn’t really sure about this idea that the new elfling was formed fëa first – but such a deep sharing of love-making was glorious in itself.
Afterwards they lay together, arms and legs entwined, watching the moon cross the sky. Tindómë thought of Rumil’s eredh – many small sperm, swimming inside her body, searching for their goal – before the moon set one might well have reached it. She had explained to him, when Haldirin was conceive, that his sperm were like tadpoles swimming.
He had laughed. “No, meleth, they are arrows. I fire them straight, and they embed themselves in the target that you have prepared.”
She hadn’t argued. In fact she had been intrigued; an arrow embedding itself in a target was really pretty close to what she’d seen on the video in ‘Sex Ed 101’ – Elves actually must have seen sperm under a microscope and know how things work. She’d meant to ask the twins – they were trained healers – but she had forgotten as her pregnancy progressed, and only now, in the same situation again, had the thought recurred. She’d probably forget again in the mental drowsiness that accompanied pregnancy.
“I hope, meleth, that your thoughts of the Elrondionath at this time won’t mean our daughter is born with black hair…” Rumil said, and she realise her mind were still completely open to him.
She laughed. “Perhaps we had better try again,” she suggested, “whilst I think of something else. Just to be on the safe side!”
The next evening they returned to the chestnut tree, again carrying a picnic. But this time Rumil sat with his back to the trunk, Tindómë leant against him, and he spread his hands across her lower abdomen; waiting. Tindómë began to meditate, as she had throughout the preparation period – but this time she did not begin to softly chant the ‘mantras’ or think of her own body changing. She simply waited.
She felt as close to Rumil, through their soul-bond, as she had the night before. She let him take the lead as he began to … search, she thought was the right word.
“She is there,” he said quietly, after a little while. “We have a daughter, hervess-nín. I can feel her fëa.”
Tindómë couldn’t. Not yet. But she was not quite an elf. This is why she had let Rumil ‘look for’ the tiny new fëa, just as he had for Haldirin. She tried to remain calm and relaxed, allowing Rumil to try to form the beginning of a bond with this tiny spark of life.
“I think you will hear her soon,” he said, a smile in his voice, “her fëa is very like yours, I believe. She will be a very interesting daughter, meleth…”
Tindómë laughed. “If so, she will be harder work than Haldirin,” she said. Then, “No need to join again tonight… what a pity.”
Her husband cocked his head to one side, as if considering. Then he began to nuzzle her neck, and his hands moved slightly, in a caress.
“I can think of no better way to celebrate,” he murmured in her ear, “it will help our daughter know how much her parents love each other…”
“Mmm – totally no better way,” his wife agreed, and turned her head into his kiss.
hroar - physical body
fëa - soul/spirit/personality - Elves believe the fëa IS the elf - the hroar simply a vessel.
grond - elven slang for penis
hervess-nín – my wife – used as a term of endearment.
Disclaimer: The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only, and all rights remain with the estate of JRR Tolkien. Tindómë is based on the character of Dawn Summers - Mutant Enemy and Joss Weedon own the rights to the name Dawn Summers.