“The problem with any celebration in Minas Tirith”, Legolas said, “is the formal dining and the balls. I am always happy to visit Aragorn and Arwen, but the rest I would happily give up.”
TindůmŽ waited. She was sure that she knew exactly what he meant, but…
“You would have thought that they may have learnt, in fifty years,” he went on. “It is quite a long time for mortals. Some of the young women propelled into my path are the granddaughters of those who were so propelled by their own grandmothers.”
“Perhaps,” she answered, trying not to laugh, “they just assume that you spurned them, back in the day, because it is your destiny to fall madly in love with their granddaughter?”
“I have no wish to fall madly in love with any mortal!”
“Ah but, atheg, they’ve heard that Elves believe there is someone that they are destined to love; you have even pointed it out, on one or two occasions, yourself. So they think that your wishes have very little bearing on the matter…”
“Victim to my own bow, eh?” He smiled wryly. “But surely they realise that somewhere there is an elleth whose fŽa will sing with mine? Not some aristocratic Gondorian maiden.”
TindůmŽ shrugged before answering. “Most of them married because it suited their parents – but they all want to believe in true love. They see their mortal king with an elven wife and so they know such a match is not impossible. You are high-ranking, good looking, and eligible. Honestly, Legolas, it’s no wonder they chase after you either for themselves, their daughters, or their granddaughters.”
He acknowledged the truth in what she said, but finished “It does not stop me thinking, quite often, that I would rather face yrch.”
“What you need,” TindůmŽ told him, “is the right sort of shield…”
“Obviously I wouldn’t work,” TindůmŽ said, “although LithŰniel would have been perfect, if Orophin wasn’t invited in his own right.”
She paused, and then continued, “Of course we could just put Galanthir in a dress... As he is always your ‘servant’ on these occasions no-one invited to all the formal stuff will ever have noticed him.”
Legolas looked as if he was considering her suggestion, seriously, but TindůmŽ knew that look. “Why put him in a dress? I could simply introduce him as my intended and let them think what they will.”
TindůmŽ now did her best to look as if she was seriously considering his suggestion. “No-o-o-o – maybe not. Gondorians are a bit, uh, stuffy about such things.”
“Perhaps you are right,” Legolas conceded, “so any plan to look at Gimli with cows’ eyes would probably not work either...”
“I’m sure he’d be relieved to know that,” TindůmŽ said, straight faced.
Eventually they discussed ‘the shield’ in earnest.
“It would be best if she genuinely was a single elleth,” TindůmŽ decided. “But she needs to have been in Ithilien long enough, or have known you long enough, to realise that you totally do mean her just to be a shield; that you aren’t really considering such a match.”
“I think, nethig, there are very few ellyth, to be honest, who currently harbour such aspirations. So who do you think would most enjoy the court of Gondor for a month? Who would most easily tolerate all those women being, oh so politely, unpleasant to her?”
TindůmŽ thought through the unattached ellyth for a little.
“I have it!” she decided. “Eriathwen.”
TindůmŽ’s former ‘housemate’ from Lothlorien had followed her to Eryn Ithil when their other friend, Boroniel, had sailed West with some of her family.
TindůmŽ warmed to her theme. “Although I know that Eriathwen wanted to go starlight bathing with you in the past – and might even have done so for all I know...” She glanced at Legolas, whose face remained totally impassive; ‘I’ll take that as a yes, then,’ she thought, before continuing out loud, “but she certainly doesn’t think of you seriously as a possible life partner.”
Now in full flow she continued, “And even though she lived all her life in a talan, before coming to Eryn Ithil, I don’t think she’d mind the Citadel. She’s Galadhrim – I can’t see her letting anything faze her.
“And you just know that, being Galadhrim, she’ll look down her nose perfectly at any Gondorian noblewoman who as much as looks at her sideways let alone insults her. She would so totally enjoy playing the part.”
Legolas grinned. “You are absolutely right, nethig, why did I never think of this before?”
“Because you are a male and not sufficiently devious,” TindůmŽ cut in, before he could say anything more.
The Elven party rode towards Minas Tirith.
“We will pause at the gates,” Legolas said, “so that Gimli and I can point out their finer points to ‘my intended’.”
“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” TindůmŽ asked, from behind him.
He considered for a moment. “It will certainly be a different game of ‘behaving as they expect’,” he answered. “As long as you do not suffer because of it,” he added, nodding towards Eriathwen riding beside him.
She had entered into the deception with enthusiasm and she really did look the part she was playing.
“Oh no, I am quite sure I will not suffer – no matter how annoyed some of the mortal women might be to find me at your side, I will look at them serenely.”
TindůmŽ had been right; no-one could look quite so disdainfully down their nose, whilst remaining expressionless, as one of the Galadhrim!
“TindůmŽ, LithŰniel, and I are going to attempt to predict who will be the most rude… we shall enjoy it,” she finished, with a fleeting grin.
Perhaps as well, Legolas thought, not to mention that the ellyn were, instead, making wagers on how long it would take before he and Eriathwen would ‘be swayed by the desires of the body’...
He grinned back and, for the first time in fifty years, rode into Minas Tirith clearly bearing a shield.