|About Us News Resources Login Become a member Help Search|
What We Do for Love
Summary: Sometimes love may demand more than weíre willing to give. Written for the ALEC†challenge ĎI Would Do Anything for Love, But I Wonít Do Thatí, for which it won second place.
"No," I said with a rising sense of horror as I stared in disbelief at my beloved. "Please do not ask me to do this."
"Youíre asking the impossible, my love." I started backing up... slowly... hoping to make a fast retreat. Where, I wasnít sure. I began mentally cataloguing all of my favorite hiding places, the ones my beloved hadnít yet found. Perhaps I would be able to hide in one of them long enough for her to give up on her mad notion.
"Not even for me?"
I sighed, suddenly feeling guilty. My love was as capable as any female of giving me that hurt look, as if Iíd just killed her kitten. Very good for making the male of the species feel like a cad even when he hasnít done anything wrong. "My love, I would do anything for you, but I will not do that. What you are asking... I have an image to maintain. You know that."
"Yes, I do, but...."
"And they will all be laughing until the day after the Renewing."
"Is that what you are afraid of? Being laughed at?" she asked, sniffing disdainfully.
All right for her to sniff, but she wasnít the one who would suffer the humiliation. I sighed again, wondering what had possessed her. "Why do you want me to do this?" I asked, curious as to her motive.
Now she paled and then blushed and wouldnít look me in the eye. I blinked in confusion. Was she... embarrassed? Never had I ever known her to suffer from that particular emotion. Anger, yes. Contrition, sometimes. But... embarrassment? Just what was going on?
"Beloved?" I tried to keep the suspicion out of my voice, but I couldnít quite. I narrowed my eyes, giving her the Look, which never fazed her. She usually just laughed at me.
Not this time, though. This time, she wilted and then....
"Oh no! Not with the tears," I exclaimed in dismay. "You know I hate to see you cry."
There must be an unwritten rule somewhere: If you canít get them with logic, weep. Works every time, too. Now I did feel like a cad: Iíd made my beloved cry. Never mind that it was probably just a ploy on her part. That she had to resort to it meant that I had failed her in some way and that was unforgivable. I took her in my arms and held her tightly.
"Please, love, donít weep. Iím sorry, truly I am."
"Does that mean youíll do it?" she asked, still wetting my favorite tunic with her tears. She must have been practicing with my sister, who is a great one for using tears to get what she wants.
"First tell me why," I prevaricated, refusing to commit myself to this ridiculous notion of hers.
She sighed, making it sound as if she were suffering from a major respiratory attack. "It... it was a bet."
"Excuse me?" not quite believing what I was hearing. My beloved... betting!?
So, she lost the bet and the stakes were... humiliating me? That didnít seem fair.
"What was the bet?" I asked.
"Not important," she waved a hand in dismissal.
Maybe not to her! I, on the other hand....
"What was the bet?" I repeated a bit more firmly.
She sighed, refusing to look up. So unlike her. I was really getting worried, forgetting that it could well be a ruse on her part to garner my sympathy.
"It was during the tournament," she finally answered. "Some of us were betting on who would win. Your sister and I made a bet." She shrugged, a slightly embarrassed smile on her face. "I lost."
"And the stakes? What would my sister have had to do if you had won?"
"Oh, she would have had to tell a funny story in public. You know how she hates to do that."
"Hmmm...." I replied, not too convinced but deciding not to pursue the matter further. "So why did you make me the victim?"
"I didnít!" she protested. "It was your sisterís idea."
"Naturally," I said with a grimace, thinking of all the ways I might get back at her. I looked at my beloved and sighed. She was obviously regretting taking the bet but there was no honorable way out of it. Like it or not, I was the sacrificial lamb to her impulsiveness in accepting my sisterís conditions.
"Yellow," I said with a grimace, shaking my head in disbelief. "Why yellow?"
She shrugged, a small smile tugging at the corners of her lips, her eyes brightening, though whether in triumph, knowing that I was about to capitulate, or just at the humor of the situation, I wasnít about to examine too closely. "You have to admit that itís the last color anyone would expect you to wear."
"With my coloring, Iíll look like one of Yavannaís damned bumble-bees!" I protested, waving a lock of my blue-black hair at her.
Now she laughed out loud, hugging me, and I could not help but smile, however reluctantly, for her laughter was gay and unforced and quite infectious.
"I was thinking more of a deep dark gold," she replied.
"Iíll still look ridiculous," I said.
"No you wonít," she insisted. "Youíll look splendid, as you always do."
Flattery will usually get you whatever you want, but....
"Canít I just wear a token of the color? Say, a band of gold on the hem?"
She shook her head. "Nienna insisted the entire outfit had to be yellow."
"Iím going to kill her, then throw her into Melkorís old cell," I muttered through gritted teeth.
VairŽ just smiled, knowing I didnít really mean it.
"Did she also stipulate when and where I was to show myself off?"
"No, she did not."
Ah! So maybe there was a way to lessen the humiliation on my part. As long as the Children didnít have to see me... Last thing I needed was to have half the Elves of Eldamar die of shock, or more likely laughter, at the sight of me. I didnít even want to think of the paperwork that would entail. MaranwŽ would most likely quit in disgust and then where would I be?
I said as much and VairŽ just laughed, giving me a hug. "The summer solstice is coming up," she reminded me. "Why donít we plan the... unveiling then? Itíll just be the Valar. We wonít even invite any of the Maiar. That will satisfy the conditions of the bet since Nienna didnít say you had to appear in a public venue where the Children would see you. Itíll just be a private showing."
I nodded, still not happy about it, but what could I do? "Well, that still gives us a few weeks. And seeing as how Iím the one who has to wear the blasted thing, I think I should be the one to pick out the fabric." I figured at least that way I could choose a shade that wasnít too awful and with which I could live.
"Oh," VairŽ said, looking dismayed.
I cast an enquiring look at her and she blushed. "I already took the liberty of choosing the fabric," she admitted, giving me a knowing smile. "In fact, Iíve already made the outfit. I knew youíd come around eventually."
I raised my hands in defeat. Naturally! "So do I get to see the outfit?"
She shook her head. "Not until itís time. I donít want you to find an excuse not to wear it."
I sighed. "I promise, my love, I will not renege on this however embarrassing it will be. Thatís how much I love you."
"I know," she said, sliding into my embrace and resting her head on my chest. "But I prefer that you not see it just yet."
"Very well, VairŽ, weíll do it your way."
"Donít we always?" she retorted slyly and I could not help but laugh. Indeed!
I stared at myself in the mirror and grimaced. "I still look ridiculous."
"No you donít," VairŽ countered. "You look splendid as always. I think itís a very good color for you."
"Hmph...." was my only comment. I gave my image a closer look. In truth, VairŽ had done a good job in her selection of materials and colors, as usual. It being Mid-summer, she had eschewed velvets. The shirt and breeches were of fine lawn dyed a pale green-gold. The sleeves of the shirt were full and gathered at the wrist while the neck was banded with gold ribbon on which small emeralds were sewn. Over this was a sleeveless surcoat of a dark gold figured silk that reached just below the knees and was slit on the sides to the hips. The hem, slits and neck were trimmed with intricate embroidery of purple flowers and dark green leaves entwined. Over this was an ankle-length robe open to the front made of the same material as the surcoat, lined with green-gold silk. Its sleeves were slit from wrist to shoulder and allowed to hang, thus showing off the shirtís sleeves underneath. The surcoat was beltless and my feet were covered with ankle-boots of soft suede dyed green with gold ribbon trim. On my head I wore, at VairŽís insistence, a circlet of old gold with a single emerald cabochon in the center. I also, at VairŽís insistence, undid my braids, allowing my hair to flow free of restraints. The only jewelry I wore was a gold and onyx pendant with my emblem of the Sun-in-Eclipse.
"Are you ready?" VairŽ asked.
I glanced at my beloved. Her outfit, unsurprisingly, was a match for mine: a dark gold sleeveless gown, with a high waist and flowing skirt. Under this she wore a linen chemise dyed green-gold. Her hair was wound in an intricate braid, crowned with a garland of malinavandil and purple helinyetilli entwined. I smiled, understanding the message she was attempting to convey and nodded.
"No time like the present," I said and with a single thought we were away to the main throne room in Ilmarin.
"Ah, I see we are all present," I heard ManwŽ say as VairŽ and I reformed ourselves in fana, we being apparently the last to arrive. "Welcome... er...."
I had the satisfaction of seeing ManwŽís eyes go wide when he saw how I was dressed and the rest of the Valar staring at me in disbelief. Even Tulkas looked taken aback and I could see he was unsure if he should laugh or not. For his sake, I hoped he didnít. I put on my most forbidding expression, daring any of them to make a snide comment. Naturally, OromŽ, standing near us, ignored it.
"Hey, VairŽ! Whereís NŠmo?" he asked, looking all around, pretending he couldnít see me.
I reached out and slapped him on the side of his head.
"Ow! Hey, NŠmo, there you are!" he said with an unrepentant grin. "Why are you in disguise?"
"The better to sneak up on you and smack you one," I answered. Naturally, he just laughed.
"Thatís an interesting look for you, NŠmo," Ulmo said, his tone carefully neutral. "Is there a reason for this... um... transformation?"
"Iíve decided MaranwŽ deserves a promotion, so Iím stepping down as Lord of Mandos to become ManwŽís court jester."
VairŽ punched me on the arm and shook her head. "It was a bet," she said, sounding regretful.
"And she lost," I added, "or rather, I lost, even though I wasnít the one betting." I turned to face my sister who was busy trying not to laugh. "Next time, Nienna, leave me out as the prize."
"But I thought you were supposed to be dressed in yellow," OromŽ said, pointing to my outfit, "and that's gold."
I turned my attention to him, my eyes narrowing in suspicion. "How did you know that?" I demanded, my tone dangerously soft.
"Oh, well... um... I suppose... it was... well...."
"It was my idea," he admitted, gulping.
I stood there trying to figure out the convolutions of this plot. Nienna made the bet with VairŽ but it was OromŽ who came up with the stakes. Interesting.
"What are you thinking, NŠmo?" ManwŽ suddenly asked.
I turned to face the Elder King. "Iím thinking I need to make an addition to Melkorís old cell. Itís going to get a little crowded." I glared at OromŽ, who looked suitably abashed, and Nienna, who merely sniffed in disdain, unimpressed by her younger brotherís threats.
"How did you manage to convince him to wear this outfit, VairŽ?" Nessa enquired. "I didnít think anything would move him to agree to wear it."
"She didnít have to convince me," I said before my beloved could speak. "When I learned that all this was because of a foolish bet she made with my sister, I knew I was honored-bound to accept the conditions of the bet, even though to do so would obviously make me look foolish in the eyes of others."
"Well, I have to admit, it is certainly a different look for you, NŠmo," ManwŽ said.
"Well, Irmo," AulŽ said with a sigh, shaking his head, "it looks like you won the bet."
"Bet? What bet?" I demanded. "Were all of you in on this?"
"I told everyone that you would wear the outfit," Irmo replied, giving me a smile, "and that you would do so because you loved VairŽ and would do anything for her. I was right, wasnít I?"
I glanced at VairŽ, who was looking as surprised as I felt. So. She was unaware of this particular bet. That made me feel immensely better. I smiled at her and took her hand, brushing it with my lips. "She is my beloved. I could do no less."
"More than I would do," Tulkas said with a booming laugh. "You are obviously besotted of your wife if you allowed her to dress you as she has."
Nessa gave him a glare and punched him in the arm. Naturally, he just laughed louder, and the other Valar, though not the Valier, were openly snickering. All well and good for them, but the truth was as Irmo had said: I loved my wife and I would do anything for her however foolish it made me look in the eyes of others. The only eyes that mattered to me were hers and I knew that I would never look foolish in them.
"Well, it is nearly time to greet IngwŽ and the Vanyar," ManwŽ said. "Shall we go?"
"Do I get to change first?" I asked. "I donít think the Children...."
"Now, NŠmo," OromŽ said with a smirk. "What would be the fun of that?"
The others all laughed, all but VairŽ, who was now looking angry.
"Itíll be fun to see how hard IngwŽ tries not to laugh at the sight of you," ManwŽ said with a wink, and that got even more laughter from everyone, everyone but VairŽ, who now looked stricken at the thought that any of the Children would laugh at me.
"Well, unfortunately, weíll never know," I said calmly. "MaranwŽ has just informed me that a number of fŽar have arrived in Mandos and I must go and deal with them."
A lie, of course, but they didnít need to know that. VairŽ, apparently the only one to catch on, gave me a small knowing smile and kissed me on the cheek.
"Then you shouldnít keep them waiting," she said. "Just remember to change first, my love. You wouldnít want to confuse the poor dears. After all, you do have an image to maintain."
OromŽ grinned. "Youíre a brave Vala, NŠmo. Even I would never do anything like this no matter how much VŠna pleaded."
The other Valar, except Ulmo, all nodded in agreement; their wives didnít look too happy about it.
"So what color will VairŽ have you wearing at the next solstice celebration?" OromŽ then asked. "White?"
"Nay. Chartreuse," AulŽ offered off-handedly.
"Vermillion," Tulkas suggested with a snide look.
"Azure," ManwŽ proposed with a laugh, it being his favorite color.
"Burnt Orange," Irmo chimed in, giving me a wink. He, at least, was not being serious, so I forgave him his jest.
I gave them all a Ďthatís for me to know and for you to find outí look that set them laughing again. Well, I would have the last laugh. Before I thought myself safely away to Mandos, I bespoke a single word to Varda, Yavanna, Nessa, and VŠna on a very private frequency that only they would hear:
Even as I was fading from their view I saw the four Valierís eyes widen and then take on calculating looks that did not bode well for their spouses. I smiled. The Winter Solstice should prove very interesting indeed.
All words are Quenya.
Malinavandil: Goldenrod. According to the Language of Flowers, it means Ďencouragementí.
Helinyetilli: Plural of helinyetillŽ: Pansy. According to the Language of Flowers, the purple pansy means Ďyou are ever in my thoughtsí as well as Ďheartseaseí, which is the meaning Tolkien gives it.
Fana: The Ďraimentí of the Valar when they take physical form.
|<< Back||Next >>|
|Home Search Chapter List|