She felt the warmth of his breath upon her neck, then his lips, so generous, so knowing, kissing her just beneath her ear. She shivered in languid delight. He was so loving, each morning...
Lily wondered if many others had this sort of love. Something within her heart knew the answer was no. Frodo was not like anyone else.
Her eyes closed as he continued to caress her where her neck curved to meet her shoulder, and then he kissed her collarbone, pushing aside the faded softness of the nightshirt which had once been his.
It was as if last night’s shared love had not ended, as if they had only napped; it was like their niwealdor.
Lily heard her husband’s hushed breath against her ear, in the early morning stillness. She closed her eyes again, allowing him simply to love her, to taste of her. This pleased him tremendously, she knew, this allowing -- at the moment, he wanted nothing at all in return -- although if an appreciative sound escaped her lips, Frodo thrilled to it, kissing the hollow of her throat, as he was doing now.
Her right hand found his hair, and her fingers played gently within the dark silken curls. She could not help herself; it was nearly impossible not to react, not to respond. And he always understood, smiling, when she could no longer wait to reciprocate... but for now, she held back her kisses for him, sighing deeply. A prayer of thankful wonder lifted within her breast. If this went on much longer, she would not be able to last. She would need to turn the tables; and he would allow it...
Frodo breathed again, to speak, and Lily waited for the beauty of the sound -- in vain she sought to describe it. Like velvet, it was. Like softest clover, warmed by the sun. Or like honey...
She trembled again at the memories of the past night, and nestled within her husband’s warm embrace.
“Two months, today, beloved,” he marveled quietly, not without some effort. His breathing, soft as it was, still gave away the passion within him. “The two most beautiful and precious months I have ever known. Oh, how I love you.”
“And I you, dearest Frodo...” She was still amazed he was able to use the word so easily, ever since the niwealdor. He truly was healed.
Now, just as she was about to sit up... to lay her husband back upon the pillows, and to kiss him with complete abandon, he stopped his tender assault on her senses.
“Sweet, tell me of our wedding day.”
Lily swallowed hard and struggled to catch her breath. “Do you mean the way I told you of the day we met at the Bywater Fair?”
“Yes,” Frodo murmured, and kissed his wife’s forehead. “I want to know what you did from the moment you awoke.”
Lily shifted, and smiled at her husband’s sigh of contentment. He gazed at her expectantly, propping himself up on one elbow to wait for the story. It would not do, not now, to look deeply into those eyes of his... no. Later, perhaps, but not now... Indeed, she would not be able to speak at all if he continued on like this... Instead, she pressed her head to his chest, using his own body as a shield against her sudden strong desire; the irony of it caught at her heart, and she smiled to herself.
For her husband was quite serious about hearing the story; it was clear in his voice. He seemed to revel in drawing out to the full their shared love; to make all of it last as long as possible -- and long talks were an avenue toward that.
“Daisy woke me with a cup of tea.” Lily endeavored to put away thoughts of her beloved next to her and recall her memories of two months past. “I remember asking my sister for her assurance that it was truly the first of June, and that you and I would truly finally wed.”
Frodo chuckled softly, stroked her hair, then held her tighter.
A soft sigh of contentment escaped Lily. “Daisy expressed some concern about all the buttons on the dress.”
“Is that why you were worried?”
Lily nodded against Frodo’s shoulder, finding the scent of him and the warmth of his skin distracting, and she made herself stop to think. “She did think you might not be particularly pleased about the buttons. But it was too late to change it.”
“Dearest Lily, I found all those buttons quite... enchanting.”
Lily giggled. “You say all the right things, dearest.”
Pleasure filled Frodo at the realization his assurance meant so much to her. “In truth, it was a reminder to slow down; not an easy thing when I wanted you so.”
Lily fingered the top button of his nightshirt. “Are you sorry...”
“Not in the least, dear one. I am in fact very grateful. Never could I have imagined how tantalizing the gradual revealing of your lovely back would be. And because it was so deliberate, I remember every button... including the one I had trouble with.” He swallowed hard. “Tell me what happened after that.”
Lily smiled to herself, realizing he was fighting his desire at this moment; his desire to hear the tale was only slightly greater than the other. She wondered if she should simply give in to the other. Her heart whispered he needed to hear the story.
“Then Daisy brought me a second cup of tea. I couldn’t tell you if there was sugar in it or not, for I was struggling with how to ask my sister what to expect that afternoon, and I simply could not find the words. My mum would have talked to me, but she was gone, and suddenly I was thinking how happy she and Da must be for me. And how grateful I was that you’d taught me about Ilúvatar and the Second Gift.”
Frodo slipped his fingers into Lily’s tresses, and softly kissed the tip of her ear.
She held him tighter, then sighed. “I asked again about what to expect, but Daisy wasn’t much help, bless her. She did try, but before she could find the right words, there was on knock on the door. The children had arrived with the flowers for my garland.”
“I didn’t know children brought the garland,” Frodo stated in surprise.
“They don’t, dear heart -- not exactly... They gather wild flowers, and bring them to the bride before firsties, then the mother or a sister of the bride makes the garland. Daisy made mine, while Rosie helped me get ready.”
“So Rosie was helping you, when Sam was helping me?”
“Yes, beloved. Oh! I forgot to tell you that the children give a special greeting at the door as they present the wildflowers; it’s to remind the bride that she is the prettiest flower of the day.”
“And she still is.” Frodo’s voice was rough.
“Thank you, Frodo-love.” Lily kissed his cheek, and nestled close once more. “Usually there are only lasses in the group, but occasionally there are a few lads. I accepted the flowers as I should, then after the children left, amidst giggles, Daisy took the baskets of flowers and Rosie made certain I took note of the gazebo. I recognized most of the flowers decorating it. She was careful to point out the jasmine, and to tell me it was from Aragorn. Then I realized that it was the first time, since they were wed, that Rosie and Sam would not be sharing firsties. I felt a bit badly about it, but Rosie assured me that she and Sam were not sorry in the least.”
“No dearer friends could we ask for, beloved Lily.”
“No indeed. Rosie then made certain I ate a good first breakfast, secondies, and elevensies. She guessed I’d not have much of an appetite the rest of the day...” Lily blushed, then hurried on. “She told of the athelas Aragorn had sent for my bath. And did all she could to keep me from weeping... I was so happy...”
Frodo knew the answer, but wanted to ask anyway. “Are you still happy?”
Lily lifted her head from her husband’s shoulder, and searched his eyes. “Happier than I ever imagined possible.” She reached up and softly kissed his lips.
Frodo caressed her cheek with his fingers; the effort to control his breathing made him pause. “What happened after firsties?”
“While Rosie helped me bathe, she rehearsed everything that would be done before the wedding. It helped settle me, knowing that she would see to it that each thing that needed to be done would be, and I didn’t have to remember all of it. She helped me dress, then did my hair... I miss them, Rosie and Sam...”
“So do I,” Frodo murmured, his voice far away.
Lily smiled, and waited for Frodo to turn back to her. “Rosie sensed there was something I wanted to ask, and encouraged me to ask her anything... Did you know they talked about what they would tell us, about the wedding afternoon? After we had our Reading of the Promisings, on their way home to Hobbiton...”
“Did they? I thought I caught Sam by surprise...”
“Only in part. Rosie told me Sam hadn’t planned to say anything, until she reminded him that neither of us would have parents to advise us. I suspect Sam was more surprised by how difficult it was to explain without revealing too much, and not wanting to embarrass Rosie... And Rosie struggled as well, but she was careful to be sure I wasn’t afraid -- it wasn’t at all like what little I’d heard from my sister’s friends. But still... I was a little afraid.”
“I hated the thought of frightening you, dearest,” Frodo soothed.
“You didn’t, Frodo-love. I wasn’t afraid of you at all. I was more afraid of disappointing you than anything else, truth be told.”
“Lily, beloved! You could never disappoint me!” Frodo slipped his finger under her chin and lifted her face, so he could gaze into her eyes. “Where do you get such notions? Whom have you disappointed, that you would worry so?”
“It could not have been recent, so how?”
“My family was disappointed with many things, some small, some not -- when I chose not to learn to ride, they were sad... they were disappointed that I did not accept any of the lads who came calling, for so many years... Mum knew I cared for you, but endeavored, on every possible occasion, to encourage me to forget my dreams of you, for she feared I’d not marry. Once, when Da was especially disappointed -- I’d turned down the son of his friend, the blacksmith -- Mum must have told him there was someone, for he never spoke of it again, though I could still feel, from time to time, his disappointment... Will and Daisy were more accepting, but worried about me, as well...”
Frodo’s eyes grew wide at her reminder of the twelve long years between their first meeting and their second. He held her tightly to his breast, then released her with some difficulty. He sensed she had more to say.
“Go on, Lily-sweet...”
“Friends and family have all been disappointed... there were so many fairs and parties I did not attend, and gatherings I left early. They worried that too often I chose to go off alone...”
“But Lily, wasn’t it because you needed the time away from others -- because of your gift?”
“Yes, but it was still difficult for them. I think it was harder still because they did not express their disappointment, but I felt it.”
Worry creased Frodo’s brow. “Have you ever felt disappointment from me?”
“In truth, no, I have not, but sometimes my own emotions, where you are concerned, are so strong that I do not sense clearly what you are feeling.”
Frodo leaned back against their small mountain of pillows, and blinked at his wife in surprise. “So you truly do need me to tell you... that is, when you ask how I am feeling, you truly want to know -- you aren’t just letting me voice it myself -- you want to know because you are uncertain.”
Lily shifted and sat next to her husband after he fluffed the pillows, their shoulders touching. “Sometimes it is because I do not know what you feel, and sometimes I know, but want to hear you say it...”
“I feel the same way... There are times, Lily-sweet, when I know what you would say, but I want to hear it anyway.”
As if of their own accord, their fingers intertwined.
“Sweet, what happened after your chat with Rosie?”
“She ensured I ate a very late and hearty elevensies, hinting to me rather broadly, as is her way, that I’d not feel much like eating after the wedding. She was right,” Lily smiled. “Then she and Daisy and Hal, with Pearl -- I miss them...”
“We’ll stop there on our way home, after Crickhollow--”
“Thank you, love...” Her voice caught, and she quickly kissed his cheek. “Then it was closer on to noon, and they went ahead, and Will waited with me in the front hall of Garden Hill. He told me he was happy for me... I wonder when Will and Bell shall post their Readings of the Promisings? Do you think they’ll wait until we get home?”
“I don’t know. I do know Will wanted to wait until the house was completed before he asked Bell for her hand, though he’d spoken to her parents some time ago.”
“He talked to them just after our betrothal...” Lily grinned. “The Reading of the Promisings for Sam and Rosie may not have been what decided you to ask me, but it certainly gave Will ideas.”
Frodo chuckled. “Sweet, even if they post before we are home, they’ll wait until we’re home to wed. I know Will wants you there. He told me at the Free Fair that the home was taking longer than he expected.”
Lily sighed. “It shall indeed be good to see all of them again...”
Frodo tightened his hold on Lily’s hand. “Would you like to return home soon?”
Lily glanced swiftly at her husband. “I’m not in any particular hurry. It may be a while before we have the opportunity to see Bilbo again...” She could not bring herself to add that they might not see him again; he was so old... “Do you want to return home soon?”
A smile spread across Frodo’s face. “I look forward to returning home and seeing our family and friends again, but I also want to enjoy as much time as possible here in Rivendell, with Uncle Bilbo... just not -- today...”
Lily returned her husband’s knowing smile, and nestled deeper into the pillows, resting her head on his shoulder. “There were so many people, the day we wed!”
“Did you find the crowd difficult?”
Lily giggled. “All I noticed was you! I wasn’t even sure if there were clouds in the sky.”
“Then I heard Will recite the Giving, but only barely. He released me to you, and I placed my right hand atop your left -- and noticed your hand was only a little warm... usually it’s quite warm.” She gave him a surreptitious smile. “It was oddly comforting to know you were nervous too.”
Frodo laughed, but before he could say anything, Lily continued. “I remember the fragrance of all those flowers!”
Frodo kissed her hair, breathing deeply of her. “I like the roses, but I miss your honeysuckle...”
“I’ll talk to Felena on the morrow, and see if she can help,” Lily smiled.
“You spoil me, Lily-sweet.”
“At every opportunity,” she giggled. “Did you know I do not remember you helping me up the steps at all, but you must have...”
“I did, and it’s comforting to know you do not remember some things, for I don’t remember hearing the Thain welcome everyone to the wedding. The only reason I knew I was to place the garland in your hair was because Sam handed it to me.”
“And you had no trouble with it, despite your worry about the clasps for my hair,” Lily smiled. “I was nervous, but did not want you to see it, for I did not want you to be concerned.”
“I did worry, sweet, for I feared for you terribly, and yet at the same time I felt so much peace. All I could think of was what a miracle you are to me. Did I ever tell you that Sam had to nudge me when it was time to share our vows?”
“No, you never have.”
Frodo rolled onto his knees, on the bed, and held out his hand to help Lily up.
She laughed softly, and knelt facing him.
Frodo gave her an appreciative glance. “Had you been wearing my nightshirt on our wedding day, I should never have made it through the ceremony...”
Lily laughed. “Can you imagine the uproar from those attending? It wasn’t bad enough we had an Elf, a Dwarf, and a Man present, let alone Gandalf the Wizard.”
Frodo chuckled, then became serious. He took his wife’s hands in his own, and began to recite his vows to her.
When he finished, Lily swallowed hard, then recited her vows to him.
As she finished them flawlessly, Frodo searched the hazel-green of her eyes. “I promised -- not to ask what happened, and I shan’t -- but I felt such a lightness... the darkness was gone! To my dying day, I’ll be grateful for it.”
Lily winced. “Beloved, please don’t speak of -- of... I cannot bear to think of being separated from you.”
“I’m sorry, sweet. I trust those days are far away, still. There’s so much life for us...”
“Yes... And there is so much to be grateful for... sometimes it’s difficult to hold it all...”
A warm smile lit Frodo’s face. “Indeed.”
Suddenly his brow furrowed. “Lily-sweet, did you hear Gandalf’s blessing at all?”
She shook her head, fighting tears at the sudden memories -- first, of the horrible darkness which had engulfed her spirit that day, then wonder; the miracle they had prayed for -- Frodo’s release from the darkness -- had been granted.
Frodo saw the shadow cross her face. He questioned her softly. “What is it, beloved?”
Lily gazed into her husband’s clear eyes. “We’re truly free of -- of It. It is truly gone...” She paused, then smiled. “And I feel a rainstorm coming. No, I didn’t hear Gandalf’s blessing at all.”
The thought of rain brought instantly to Frodo’s mind memories of Lily, loving him in the refuge of their little cave less than a fortnight ago, as the rain pounded just beyond their haven...
With an effort, Frodo realized his bride was waiting for his reply, and noted the bemused love in her expression. She knew his thoughts had drifted, and very likely to where... or did she... No matter. He smiled, pushing aside the loveliness of the memory as best he could, and managed to regain command of his voice.
“Then I shall tell you what he said. ‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of Lights, Ilúvatar, with Whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of His own will He created all from naught with the word of Truth. May Ilúvatar grant you joy in the gift of children -- and a long life together. May you always remember His mercies and grant them to others. May Elbereth and Eärendil shine on your love.’”
He stroked his lover’s hair, studying her face intently. “Oh Lily, I wanted so to hold you. All the weariness was gone from your eyes, but it was time for open eyes and open hands.”
Frodo gazed down into Lily’s eyes. He was with her, here, now... They belonged to each other. What a blessing she was!
He felt certain she could sense his thoughts. They raised their hands to shoulder level and pressed their palms together, fingers matching, still kneeling on their bed.
When Lily thought she could bear it no longer, Frodo seemed to know, and closed the small space between them, releasing a soft breath. Then they locked their fingers, closed their eyes, and kissed.
Warmth... oh, she was warm -- !
As on that first day of June -- as with each kiss they had ever shared, he was flooded with the deep warmth which only she could give. He was dimly aware of the need to breathe, but did not want to break their joining. He could feel passion rising within them both, and felt her body tense against his in anticipation. He would not need to ask her for love; she was eager to give it. And yet, there was an undeniable pleasure in asking for and receiving her consent...
She gently ended their kiss, and unlocked her fingers from his, only long enough to breathe, to caress his cheek once, to read the message in his eyes, unmistakable in its clarity, and she smiled softly.
Lily pulled her husband’s head down to hers once more, and teased him with swift, short kisses, until he spoke her name aloud, and hungrily covered her mouth with his own, turning his head just so, deepening an already deep kiss. But he needed to break it.
“Oh,” he gasped. “Oh, Lily...”
But Frodo could not say more. Dazed, he watched her unfastening the buttons of his nightshirt, reveling in the familiarity of the ritual. When did it start? He remembered their wedding afternoon; then, she had had to stop after only four buttons. Not this time; now there was no uncertainty or fear. Wonder filled his heart, realizing the intensity between them had deepened, and she was able to bear it. She finished the last button...
The open desire in her face was thrilling to him. She loved all of him, loved him as he could not love himself.
“You are beautiful, Frodo, so very beautiful...”
He felt his face colour with heat, then smiled at her. He still could not see himself as she did, nor did he understand, and he did not care. She was happy, and nothing else mattered.
Frodo reached for the buttons on his wife’s nightshirt and stopped, searching her eyes, asking as she had asked him the day they were wed. He could see the welcome in her eyes, just as he had then. He began to unfasten the buttons, whispering her favourite endearments in her ear.
She kissed him lightly on his neck, smiling as her caresses interfered with his task.
The fragrance of imminent rain suddenly filled his nostrils, sweet, heavy. The rain was upon them, soon, soon...
“I remember... I remember--” he faltered, overcome with emotion.
Lily stopped to gaze into Frodo’s eyes.
He took a steadying breath. “I remember -- when you sought permission, on that first day... to kiss me--”
He was about to say ‘there,’ but the word never came. He watched his lover kiss the knife-wound reverently, as she had on that first day, and there was an ache deep in his breast, a tenderness rising within him, closing his throat, creating hot tears, which he fought. He did not know why he resisted them, for this was his beloved wife, and she would accept his every feeling, his every thought... indeed, she had...
Still she continued her loving caresses, and he held her shoulders for balance, his head tipping back, his eyes closing slowly, shutting out all the world but this feeling, and her.
With an effort he straightened, centering again on his wife, then bent his head to hers, burying his nose in her hair; the coolness of it was as winter to the summer-like heat which surrounded them both.
“Beloved -- ” he murmured. “You have given me so much... I love you... Let me love you, please, Lily...”
There was no warning for the hot tears which fell on his chest, and her shoulders were trembling. She nodded her head against him, and he knew she wept for joy.
“I love you, Frodo,” she whispered tremulously.
He held her in his arms, soothing her, and their passion ebbed, but only for a moment, before it grew stronger yet.
Rain began to fall just as he gave himself completely to her, his heart and mind, his spirit and body; his life. It felt right, and good, and more, for she gave herself to him, and in the same manner: wholly and unreservedly. And he felt humbled in some pure way he could not define.
He breathed a prayer for her, and she for him, their love drawn from love’s source, and built upon love’s foundation.
As late evening approached, most of the food was eaten, and only a bit of bread and tea was left.
“Frodo, I have a gift for you.”
Lily rolled out of bed and padded into their dressing room. She returned with a package carefully cloth-wrapped. She handed the gift to her husband, then climbed back onto the bed to sit next to him.
Frodo unfolded the layers and found a small jar... a jar of her blackberry preserves.
Her husband hesitated, his eyes fixed on the jar in his hands, and Lily cocked her head to look into his eyes. She grew concerned as she watched the tears gather there.
Frodo raised his head, to meet her steady gaze. “Thank you for all the happy memories.” A tear escaped, and slid down his cheek.
A soft smile spread across Lily’s lips. She gently kissed the tear away.
Frodo wrapped his arms tightly about her. “And not just the ones of shared love, dearest, but the laughter, as well as the quiet moments, and all our conversations. I know I have told you before, but I truly feel complete, and at peace, with you. Feelings I never dared hoped for again in my life, after...”
Lily nestled closer to him, and he heard the catch in her voice. “The joy, the immeasurable joy, in this sharing -- my life entwined with yours...”
He knew all at once it was true: they had created new memories for themselves, strong ones, strong enough to fill them with joy. If they called upon it in need, it would be there...
“Lily-sweet, dear one, because of you, those other memories are bearable.”