Author’s Note: This is the second to last chapter. I’m giving fair warning now: I want reviews! All of you who’ve been reading and not reviewing, for shame, you naughty minxs! Please, it won’t take long, but please send in a review either now or when I post 32, the last one, with your opinion of this fic. It would mean so much to me.
[blinking huge, sad, pitiful brown eyes]
The Gift of Death, Chapter 31
Eowyn returned as promised within a few weeks, and preparations for Dawn’s wedding to Boromir progressed swiftly. Before they knew it, the day was upon them.
“I can’t wait for the guys to go non-verbal when they see you,” Buffy chirped as she and Eowyn helped Dawn dress.
“You really think they will?” she asked, gazing in the mirror at her reflection. “There’s enough mithril on this thing to make Gimli elope with me.”
The women paused a moment to think about the mental image that Dawn’s words had created, and then began to laugh. “Have you got everything old, new, borrowed, and blue?” Buffy gasped.
“Well, the dress is blue, the circlet is borrowed—thanks, Eowyn—the baby is new, and as the Key, I’m pretty damned old. Is that good enough?”
“I think that’ll do,” Buffy agreed with a grin. “How’s Junior holding up to the excitement?”
“Hasn’t said anything, so I assume he’s ok with it all,” Dawn replied. “I, on the other hand, can’t seem to stop peeing every five minutes. Really hoping I won’t have to make a pit stop in the middle of the ceremony.” She peered over at her sister. “Don’t you think you should get dressed now, too?”
“Indeed, Dagnir,” Eowyn agreed. She and Buffy had come to a sort of truce, now that Eowyn wasn’t chasing Aragorn any more, and found they actually rather liked each other. “Unless you plan on attending as you are?”
Buffy looked down at her comfortable leggings and the tunic she’d appropriated from Legolas, which was miles too large for her. “It’s comfy,” she whined.
“Up,” Eowyn ordered. “If we must suffer, so must you.” And in short order, she and Dawn had stripped Buffy down to her knickers. Dawn dropped the gown over her head and pushed her arms into the sleeves; Eowyn fastened the belt around her slim hips and adjusted the neckline. Feeling obligated to put up a show of resistance, Buffy fought them every step of the way,.
“There!” Dawn finally, panting and brushing back a loosened strand of hair. “Hey, aren’t I supposed to be the nervous, reluctant one?”
Buffy glowered at her sister from under the curtain of hair that had come free from her braid during their struggles, and grunted.
“That shade of green looks very pretty with your hair, Dagnir,” Eowyn ventured, ever the peacemaker, and began to comb said hair.
“Again with the grunting,” Dawn complained, hands on hips. “Buffy, what’s really wrong?”
“It’s just…” Buffy plopped down on the edge of the bed and stared at her hands, clenched in her lap. “You’re getting married, and going to be a mother.. my little Dawnie…” A few tears rolled down her cheeks. “And I feel bad that Mom’s not going to see it. And Spike too, and Giles and Willow and Xander. They would have wanted to be here for this.”
Dawn’s face crumpled then, and she fell to her knees to drop her head in Buffy’s lap. Buffy leant over Dawn and gave into her own sobs. Eowyn hovered nearby for only a moment before she, too knelt and began to cry.
“Theoden, my uncle… I avenged his death, but still he is gone!” she wept. “Glad I am to have Eomer, for I know I would not have survived without him, but oh, Theodred… so young he was, and bold…” Without breaking stride, Dawn and Buffy put their arms around her.
It was this tangled knot of sodden women that Elessar discovered minutes later when he came to escort Dawn, as they had asked him to ‘give her away’. It was an intriguing concept, one with which he was thoroughly unfamiliar, but they seemed to consider it an honour, and so he was duly honoured by their request.
When he opened the door, expecting three flushed and happy faces but finding three red and tear-streaked ones, his eyes widened and he slowly, carefully backed out of the room. What could have happened, to upset them all so? He was used to Dawn blubbering, as she’d been doing so for weeks now, but he’d never before seen either Dagnir nor Eowyn give into tears. It was… unnerving.
Elessar pushed open the door to the palace study, where the rest of the men were waiting for the ceremony to begin. Legolas, Gimli, all four Hobbits, Gandalf, and Faramir were ranged around the room, some sitting, some standing. Boromir, however, was pacing before the huge fireplace and seemed to be muttering to himself.
“Elven marriage rites, why could it not be elven?” it sounded like to Elessar’s sharp ears. “Then it would be just Dawn and I, no one to watch, nothing to go wrong…” Ah, the groom was anxious as well. Elessar wondered if perhaps the women upstairs were merely releasing their tension with tears, as women were sometimes wont to do, but then remembered how the durable Buffy and stoic Eowyn had clung to each other…
“There is a problem,” he said from the doorway, and eight pairs of eyes flew to him.
“The great hall has collapsed, and we must have the wedding in a room so small only ten may fit?” Boromir asked hopefully.
“Alas,” Elessar replied with a kind smile. “Nothing so soothing to your nerves, Boromir. No, I fear that the women are… disquieted about something, and are crying quite fiercely.”
“All of them?” Legolas asked in his typically unruffled way, standing.
Elessar nodded. “Not just Dagnir and Dawn, but Eowyn as well.” This raised eyebrows around the room, and now Faramir was on his feet.
“Come, brother,” he said to Boromir, “let us go rescue our women from whatever demons haunt them this day.”
And Elessar could not be sure, but he thought he heard Boromir say, “Would rather face a demon… yes, yes, a Balrog. Vastly preferable…” Elessar was not entirely sure he blamed him.
The men (and elf) were all extremely pleased to learn that the women had recovered by the time they made their way up to the room where Elessar had left them. “Sometimes girls just need to have a good cry,” Dawn assured Boromir as she shut the door on him. He nodded, but clearly had no idea what she was talking about, and was very relieved indeed to be shooed from the room.
Elessar returned, and this time they were ready for him. Buffy and Eowyn preceded him and Dawn down to the great hall, and some lovely elven music was struck up as they entered, for the sons of Elrond had remained in Minas Tirith and Elrohir plucked with deft fingers at a lute while Elladan held a flute to his lips. The entire populace of the White City had tried to cram itself into the hall, and there was literally only standing room available.
Buffy thought Boromir looked like he’d prefer to be back at Helm’s Deep facing ten thousand orcs all by himself, if the panicked expression and nervous tugging at his collar were any indication, but then his gaze moved past her and Eowyn to Dawn, and all doubt vanished. His face became calm and sure, and a smile lifted his lips as his eyes locked on Dawn like they were the only people in the cavernous room.
She felt tears threaten again, but happy ones this time. Nevertheless, she blinked until they receded, and searched for Legolas. He was toward the front, and watching her the same way Boromir was watching Dawn. The same way Faramir was watching Eowyn, in fact. Love is in the air, she thought, and smiled.
At the end of the hall, Buffy went left and Eowyn went right, joining their respective men, and Buffy leant against Legolas’ side as he curled an arm around her and dropped a kiss on her hair. Elessar handed Dawn off to Boromir, who accepted her as if she were made of the finest, most delicate crystal, and both turned to face Gandalf.
“Dark times have we suffered of late,” the wizard began. “But throughout all, a love has shone brightly, and dispelled the darkness with its purity. Each has risked death for the other; and with this risk, has purchased joy.” He smiled down at them. “Does your kin approve of this match?”
“Yes,” Buffy said, followed a moment later by Faramir’s “Aye.”
“Does your king approve of this match?” Gandalf asked.
“I do,” Elessar said firmly. “They have the blessings of Gondor.”
Legolas stepped forward. “And of the elves.” Off to the side, Elladan and Elrohir nodded their agreement.
“And those of the dwarves,” Gimli added. He’d allowed Legolas to braid his beard for the occasion, and looked almost alarmingly cheerful.
“And of the Hobbits!” cried Merry. “Indeed!” agreed Pippin, Sam, and Frodo.
“Glad I am to hear it, Mister Brandybuck,” Gandalf chuckled when the laughter had receded. “And now we must hear from you, Dawn, and you, Boromir. What say you to this union?”
“I say that I was not worthy of you when you offered yourself to me, Dawn, and I doubt I ever will be, for I am naught but a rough soldier.” One of her tears splashed onto his hand as it clasped hers, and he rubbed at it with his calloused thumb. “But I give you all that I am.”
“What say you, Dawn, to this union?” Gandalf asked her.
“I say that my only regret is that it couldn’t have happened ten years ago,” Dawn replied, eyes shining brightly as stars. “I’ve been waiting my whole life for you, Boromir.” He smiled tenderly at her, and raised her hand to his lips.
Gandalf pulled a cord from his sleeve. “As your hearts are bound, so are your lives.” And he wrapped it in an intricate knot around their clasped hands, entwining them so closely together they could not have pulled away if they had wanted.
Which, fortunately, they did not, for Boromir threaded his hand into the shining fall of Dawn’s hair and pulled her close for a passionate kiss. It was only the noisy applause of all assembled that made them stop eventually.
“Alas,” Boromir whispered against her mouth, grinning.
“Not alas,” Dawn contradicted. “The opposite of alas. Yay. Because if I don’t get to a potty soon, there’s gonna be trouble.”
The twitching of Gandalf’s lips indicated that Maia have excellent hearing, and so he hastened to announce that standing before them were Boromir and Dawn of Gondor, husband and wife.
“Thank God,” Dawn muttered, and began to walk very quickly down the aisle, pulling Boromir with her as she’d forgotten they were still tied together. “Oh, for…” she yanked on the cord but it would seem that Maia also had excellent knot-tying skills, because she only made it tighter.
“Be calm, sweet,” Boromir laughed, running lightly beside her as people began to flood the aisle, eager to offer congratulations. Light poured through the tall windows, falling in golden beams over them, and he thought he’d never seen anything so lovely as her face. “We will get there, together.”
She stopped, and turned to him with a wide smile. “Yeah,” she agreed, and slipped her free arm around him for a quick hug. “I like the sound of that. Together.” Then her eyes widened. “Hope you like to be really close,” she said, warningly, “because I don’t think I can wait until we get this thing off.” And she took off running.
Elessar’s gift to them was a trip down the Anduin on the largest of the Corsair ships. Actually, they were accompanying Prince Imrahil and his forces back to Dol Amroth, but it was the closest a person could get to a honeymoon cruise in Middle-earth so Dawn wasn’t about to complain.
Since they were going to be sailing on the sea for a few days, the twins insisted on going as well, and if the twins were going then Legolas wanted to go, and if Legolas was going, of course Buffy was going too. Then Gimli expressed his reluctance to be left behind in Minas Tirith, Faramir and Eowyn declared they wanted to know if it would be worth their while to take one of these ‘honeymoons’ and shouldn’t they experience it for themselves, and before she knew it the Hobbits were all saying they’d certainly like to see some gulls as well and Gandalf had begun humming sea chanties under his breath whilst packing suspiciously nautical-looking wizard robes.
“Can’t Elessar come too?” Dawn demanded acidly as they plodded up the gangplank. “How about Eomer? The Dunedain, perhaps? Can’t we just bring everyone? I mean, as long as Boromir and I are going to have people all over the place, why not a few kings and a troupe of Rangers?”
“Oh, shut up,” Buffy said, and threw a companionable arm around her sister’s shoulder. “Could be worse, could have Spike here glaring at Boromir 24/7 for daring to touch his Nibblet.”
Dawn rolled her eyes and planted herself at the end of the plank, flatly refusing to allow anyone else aboard. “Forget it, Dumbledore,” she told the wizard. “Bad enough I’m going to have my sister with me on my honeymoon, and a bunch of elves, but there’s no way the rest of you are coming along.”
Gimli sulked; Faramir and Eowyn looked hurt. Gandalf frowned, sufficiently puzzled by the strange name she’d called him to rather forget to be offended, and the Hobbits all tried to pout so adorably she couldn’t possibly deny them, but Dawn was made of sterner stuff.
“I love you,” she said, kissing their little faces. “Now get the hell off the gangplank and go eat elevenses.”
After that it was, pardon the pun, smooth sailing. Buffy was careful to keep the elves away from the newlyweds, and Dawn was so happy her morning sickness was finally gone that she was in a superb mood. As for Boromir, he just lounged most of the day on the deck, became even more deeply tanned, and smiled a lot.
The elves were having the times of their lives, and Buffy couldn’t stop grinning at their antics, at how amazed and thrilled they were at practically everything. By the end of the second day, all three were scampering about the rigging like tall, gorgeous monkeys and saying things like, “Look yonder at the beautiful rock” and “Have you ever seen such a handsome gull?” with all seriousness.
“Elves in good moods are funny,” Dawn whispered in Buffy’s ear one late afternoon as twilight was falling over them. They were both peering up toward the crow’s nest, where Legolas, Elladan, and Elrohir were crowded into the small space and staring out over the horizon before them. They were relaxed, had the loveliest creamy tans, and chatted happily in the musical Sindarin language.
“They deserve it,” Buffy replied, waving in response to her husband’s smile. “We all do.”
They returned all too quickly, and Arwen showed up in the middle of July, the same day as Dawn’s bump. “Look!” she exclaimed to the daughter of Elrond, pulling her gown tight across her middle to proudly display the small, firm mound beneath. Now in her second trimester, she was enjoying herself immensely as all morning sickness, weepiness, and panicked urges to pee had diminished entirely.
Arwen smiled. “Good health to you,” she said, cuddling Elessar’s arm to her. She hadn’t let go of him since arriving. He didn’t look as if he were going to release her any time soon either, to the delight of her grandparents, whom Buffy kept hugging as she’d missed her friends a lot. Elrond, however, walked around with a perpetual lemon-sucking expression on his handsome face and even his mischievous sons could not raise his spirits.
Elessar and Arwen were wed two weeks later with as much pomp and circumstance as anyone could stomach. Just four days after that, a sizeable contingent departed Minas Tirith for Edoras to bring Theoden’s body home for burial.
“It’s gonna be like a massive party, and I’m gonna miss it,” Dawn lamented as she and Boromir stood at the broken gate of the White City to say goodbye.
“You had your chance with the ship,” Buffy replied with a grin. “Could have had a honkin’ big boat party, but no.”
“You’ll be back soon?”
“We’ll be back before the baby’s due,” was all Buffy could promise, for she didn’t know how long it would take to do everything they needed to do, and all too soon Elessar and Eomer were ushering them toward the horses. Buffy hurried to hug Boromir, patted her future nephew or niece one last time, and hopped into the saddle.
Buffy found herself vastly relieved to be on the road again. Being cooped up, even in a city as big and convenient as Minas Tirith, made her antsy; she’d been a wanderer for far too long since coming to Middle-Earth to enjoy staying in one place too long, and said as much to Legolas.
“What if I get bored living in Ithilien?” she worried aloud one evening during the journey, as they curled up against each other in their bedroll rather a bit far from the fire, in a private little cove of trees. “What if I get a scorching case of cabin fever?”
“Then we shall strike out on another adventure,” he replied, unperturbed. “There is much still to see in Middle-Earth… you can bring me to Forlinden… Gimli wishes to show me all the treasures of the dwarf realms, and I would show him the forests of my youth. You, I would introduce to my father… ah, how I cannot wait to see his face…”
She raised up to look him in the face. “You only married me for the shock value, didn’t you?” she teased. “I knew it; I’m an undesirable element. The elven equivalent to hooking up with an unemployed biker with a lot of piercings and tattoos.”
Legolas was used to her saying things that made no sense to him, so it was no bother whatsoever. “Undesirable?” he asked, tracing a fingertip down the soft skin of her cheek. “I think not, herves-nîn.”
Then he kissed her, and she forgot all about cabin fever, and bikers, and anything except the feel of his lips and hands on her body. And when it was all over and she sighed “I love you, Legolas” before falling asleep, he even managed to forget about the call of the gulls for a short while, too.
herves-nîn = my wife