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Story [The Silmarillion] "This Taste of Shadow", Ficlets and Drabbles, updated 7/02!

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Mira_Jade , Jan 31, 2013.

  1. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Author's Notes: Soooo, this offerng is, well - long. Much longer than I wanted anything in this thread to be. :oops: I had my sister give me a list of winter words, knowing that I wanted to write something heart-warm and season-friendly. At first, the eleven prompts she gave me were going to be 400 words a piece - and, a few of them are, you'll notice ;) - but a few of them got longer, and then I didn't bother to cut them. So! Read any of them, read all of them - personally, this is one of my favorite things I've written in a while, and I love it to pieces. [face_love]

    Glorfindel: For this time of year, Glorfindel was a clear choice to my muse. While so many of Tolkien's Elves have an unearthly, almost ethereal feel about them, Glorfindel is always described as smiling and full of joy. He is the ultimate embodiment of the Lancelot-ideal, he having lived not one life - but two - in order to ensure the safety and prosperity of the line of his King. On that note, I do subscribe to the later idea in Tolkien's notes that Glorfindel of Gondolin and Glorfindel of Rivendell were one in the same. It's too beautiful an idea to pass up. [face_love]

    Aragorn's Line: Yes, we are stretching into the Fourth Age here. :D Tolkein said that Arwen and Aragorn had one son and at least two daughters. Their son's name was Eldarion, while their daughters went unnamed. So, I gave their daughter the name of Amdiriel, which means 'daughter of hope' according to the Sindarin name website I used. I thought it fitting, in more ways than one. ;) For his great-granddaughter, I gave her the name of Tinúviel, as a throw-back to Lúthien. [face_love]

    Arwen and Aragorn: I stayed more to book canon than movie canon here, folks. There will be none of that silly wishy-washy about whether or not she would go West. o_O They were married for 120 years, and after Aragorn's death, Arwen was still much untouched by time. She left all of her family behind and went to Lórien, which was now empty with Galadriel's leaving, and lived for a year under those trees. After that year, she was finally able to force her soul to pass on in mortal death, dying on the hill of Cerin Amroth where Aragorn and she had pledged their love those many years ago. I like to think that she was watched for that year, never truly alone - and then Glorfindel, Celeborn and the twins then made their way West after. (I do not like thinking that Celeborn did not follow his wife to Aman - and Elladan and Elrohir merely 'put off their choice', in order to stay in Middle-earth a while longer. I like to think that they went West after their sister died. But, that's just my personal theory. :))

    Names in Quenya: I did not bother translating Glorfindel and Ecthelion's names to Quenya for the first ficlet here. I have no skill with languages, and I only know that 'Laure' would be in Glorfindel's name somewhere. 8-} As always, Itarillë is Idril, and Turukáno is Turgon. Although Glorfindel's early history is not known, I imagine he was close to Turgon's line, even before the Ice. He was mentioned as a lord of the Noldor, but had blonde hair - so, I assume he was part Vanyar. He may even have been related to Elenwë. But, once again! That is just my own head-canon. :p

    Now, that said . . .

    measured by many branches”

    CVIII. Ice

    He had not know that it was possible to be this cold.

    The Helcaraxë was bitterly cold before his ill advised trip through the frozen waters underneath the shelf they walked upon. Now, it was all but unbearable as his teeth chattered, and his skin paled to an alarming shade of blue. The healers were worried about whether or not he would keep his fingers and toes, and though the worst was past, he still had trouble bending his limbs properly. His hair froze together in a clump of dull gold after he clawed his way from the water, and had to be cut away lest the cold about his neck do him more harm than his vanity was worth. He was trying not to think about that. Not yet, anyway.

    And yet, he knew that he would do it again – a hundred times over, if he had to. For, one moment Elenwë and Itarillë had been walking next to him, and then they were falling, falling, and he had reached until his hand had caught the child's in a desperate hold, and he had swam desperately for the surface. He had given all of his warmth to the shivering thing in his hold once they broke the water - even to the point of doing a serious harm to himself, and now . . .

    Now, he was dry and relatively warm, and yet he still could not fight the chill from his bones, the cold from his spirit. He was heart-sick and soul-sore for the loss of his friend, and . . .

    “You are not smiling,” Itarillë said sleepily from beside him. Turukáno had been inconsolable when they had failed to save Elenwë, feeling his wife's death deep in his spirit, and now he was with his father and sister. Glorfindel had taken the girl for the night, so she would not have to see and feel her father's grief. He had not wanted to let her out of his sight for some inexplicable fear, deep inside . . .

    “You are always smiling,” Itarillë continued on a whisper. Though her face was red and her eyes were raw from her tears, she reached out a single, chubby finger to touch the corner of his mouth, as if by doing so she could return his smile to its place. The only child amongst their host, the Ice had touched her the least physically, but now . . . her spirit . . .

    “I shall try to smile for you, little one,” Glorfindel muttered, holding her closer. The Ice had taken away physical boundaries from everyone. All in their camp had become long used to sharing the heat of their bodies, both for the warmth of flesh and the comfort of spirits. Now, Itarillë burrowed closer to him, and he ran a soothing hand through her hair as the winds moaned a sad song beyond their tent. On the other side of Itarillë, Ecthelion had been quiet throughout the whole encounter, but he rubbed absently at the child's back as he eased her into a healing sleep, where she would rest without dreams.

    “She will heal,” Ecthelion muttered as her breathing deepened and evened out. “The soul of this one is strong.”

    “She should not have to be so strong of spirit,” Glorfindel found his words thick in his throat. “Not when so young.”

    Ecthelion did not respond to that, but his silvery eyes turned shadowed in reply. A heartbeat passed. “You do always have a smile,” Ecthelion said simply. “It warms others more than you know.”

    “There is no warmth here,” Glorfindel said after a moment. He was too weary for words spoken closely together. “At least, not where I can find.”

    “Even so,” Ecthelion rolled his shoulders.

    Glorfindel did not respond, and yet, when Itarillë shifted, restless in her sleep, the other man started to hum softly in the back of his throat - a hymn to Laurelin, now gone, whispering of light and warmth. Voices could not rise in song on the Helcaraxë, but Ecthelion found his warmth, and gave what verses he could.

    Glorfindel simply closed his eyes, and listened.

    CIX. Ski

    It was, in his mind, a perfectly acceptable idea.

    His friend, however, was quick to disagree. And yet, seeing as how Ecthelion differed with him on a great many things, Glorfindel had not yet decided whether or not he would heed his words or cast them aside.

    As he pondered this quandary in his mind, he curiously placed his shield on the ground, kneeling before the hardened steel and squinting down the mountainside, wondering . . .

    “You are going to get yourself killed,” Ecthelion pointed out dryly.

    “Nonsense,” Glorfindel waved a hand. “You and I are fated to find our ends in grand and laudable ways. This -”

    “ - trying to appease your boredom with guard-duty by acting with the mind of a simpleton?” Ecthelion supplied helpfully. “You merely had to say so; I have paperwork aplenty if you wished to keep busy.”

    Glorfindel made a face. “And yet . . .”

    Ecthelion sighed, the motion just barely disturbing the pale stone of his features. He was entirely too silver on the mountainside, Glorfindel thought, his helm and armor glittering in the sunlight, catching on the tip of the spear he held . . .


    “My friend,” he praised warmly. “You have given me quite the idea.”

    He toed the shield aside, and stood upon it, rather than knelt. He stuck his own spear into the ground then, steadying himself . . .

    Ecthelion was hardly impressed. “Eru help Mandos find patience when he gathers your soul,” he said, ever encouraging. “Although I do believe that you would be the one spirit to successfully annoy Lord Námo into casting you back early. You would cause too much of a splash in the Halls, I fear.”

    Glorfindel snorted out a laugh. It was hard not to, with the cold mountain air and the fresh fallen snow; the untouched slope just taunting him . . .

    He gathered himself, ready to push off, when -

    “ - here,” Ecthelion said, resigned to his course. Glorfindel looked, and saw that his friend offered him his own spear. “So that you may balance yourself with both hands.”

    Glorfindel could not help but smile wider, knowing how much that would irk the other. “My friend,” he let his smile grow as he took the spear. “You do care.”

    “Do not let any know,” Ecthelion replied wryly. “And do try to avoid the pointed ends should you come upon a fall. Manwë only knows what the songs would say then.”

    But his words were already lost to the wind as the mountain roared in his ears.

    CX. Sled

    “And what is this I see?”

    This, is not what it looks like.”

    “If by this,” Glorfindel said easily, walking forward to toe at the thin metal disk that his friend was arranging on the ground, “you mean: 'a sure way to find oneself in to Mandos' Halls', then I think that this is exactly what it looks like.”

    Ecthelion scowled. “This, is a sled,” he pointed out primly, “And it has been designed by Maeglin himself for just such a venture. One shall be sitting, not standing. And certainly not standing with weapons in hand to steer with.”

    Glorfindel waited for one moment, and then two. He smiled, knowing.“And the child asked you to do so, did he not?”

    Ecthelion's far face flushed, and Glorfindel smiled widely, knowing that he had caught him. In their impossibly still city, new unions were rare and children even rarer still. Eärendil was a blessing to their people; his laughter brightening the mountains and heartening the souls of all who heard it. His curiosity and wide eyes for the newness of the world stirred the fondness of their immortal race, who, at times, slipped into age long habits and routines without even realizing they did so. The family he served, and thought of as his own, blossomed with the addition of the boy. Idril fairly glowed in the role of both wife and mother, and Turgon their Lord had not been as happy with a grandchild to spoil as he had since the last his wife had lived.

    His stern friend had taken to the child more than most, and the little prince was fascinated in kind - following the old warrior's footsteps down to the way he walked and talked, always begging for songs and stories and carved wooden toys.

    Glorfindel breathed in deep, and found the cold stretching his lungs. It had been long since he had felt so content in his own skin, he thought. He felt rooted in that moment, bound as he was to the land beneath his feet as he had never felt in Aman across the sea. He exhaled, and found that Ecthelion was watching him, a thoughtful look on his face. He wondered if his friend could feel it too.

    “As our resident sledding expert,” Ecthelion said in a grave tone, “I would welcome any advice you would have to offer.”

    “My friend,” Glorfindel clapped the other on the back. “You only had to ask.”

    CXI. Avalanche

    He had always known that his life would end this way.

    It was not to him to fade away with the end of the world and the great ages of time. He would not fall to so simple an end from an enemy on the battlefield - a stray arrow or a lucky twist of an Orc-blade. No . . . he would die greatly, and he would die in flames.

    The mountains were cold this time of year. The snow drifts were up to the thighs of most as they scrambled to flee from the ruin of the city behind them. The black smoke of burning Gondolin reached the heavens like the shadow of night, and soot fell on the mountain passes like snow, as foul and wrong as Morgoth's horde of filth behind them.

    And, before them . . .

    “You do not have to do this,” he heard Idril plead. Her hand was white-knuckled on the plates of his armor. Had he not worn it, her touch would have left bruises. “Please.”

    Such a fear was carved onto her face, a face so much like dear Elenwë's, he thought. Tears clung to her eyes, for her father's death . . . Maeglin's betrayal . . . for Ecthelion, dead in the Square of the King as he faced the Lord of Balrogs himself, they each taking the other life for life . . .

    At Idril, Glorfindel only smiled. He took the few seconds he had left to wipe a tear away as he had those long centuries ago, passing a hand through her hair as he tucked it behind her ear in one fond gesture of farewell.

    “Dear Itarillë,” he said. “Always, this has been the ending I have wished for myself. I do this without grief in my heart; without a single regret.”

    He let his smile hold. He could feel his fëa as it rose to his skin, no longer content as it was to be constrained by the cage of his flesh. In that moment, he knew that light poured from him like something living. He could see it reflected in the eyes of those he would die protecting. He could feel it blaze like an inferno, greater than even the demon of flame who awaited him beyond – bellowing out his challenge to the mountain itself.

    Idril held his hand to her face for a moment, then two, and then he turned from her.

    “Run, Itarillë,” he said as he approached his end. “Run, and do not look back.”

    He felt his fëa as it rose higher, as it filled the air around him like a flame. His smile was one of challenge now as he faced the creature awaiting him. He thought of Turgon as he twisted his sword in his hands; the King he loved, whom he would soon meet in the Halls of Mandos. He thought next of dear Idril and the boy-child Tuor held in his arms. Tuor was a strong man, and he would lead his people well. His Lord's family would live through them - live, and he . . .

    The Balrog struck his whip of flame. His demon wings struck against the ground like thunder, blocking out the sunlight above. His foul mouth was an evil line of amusement, as if his audacity in challenging him was something to laugh over. But it did not matter. For in that moment, Glorfindel was great enough to match him. In that moment, Glorfindel was not of flesh and bone, but rather light . . .

    Together, he knew, they would bring down the mountainside.

    CXII. Frost

    A year had passed since his release from the Halls, and yet, Glorfindel still felt a coldness of spirit that was simply not right in this land of peace and plenty. Aman was just as he remembered it being . . . but he . . . he had changed. He had changed, while the home he had once left far behind him stayed ever the same.

    “Am I the only one who feels this way?” Glorfindel asked his friend, just having struggled to put his thoughts into words.

    Ecthelion had been released from Mandos near the same time as he, and he had spent his time since then building a small cottage off of the road between Tirion and Alqualondë, where he could be close to both of his peoples. Now, he was teaching roses to bloom up trellises on the side of his small house, patiently trimming and coaxing as he went.

    For he had forever to do so.

    Glorfindel sat, and let the garden soil trail through his fingers as he picked it up and let it fall again.

    “I do not know,” Ecthelion answered simply. “I suppose there are some who feel as you do, and yet . . . this burns in you like a live flame. I could feel it like frost about your soul, even before you spoke of it to me.”

    “And you . . .” Glorfindel asked, reaching for something he could not name. “Do you feel . . .” He could not finish his thought. His tongue could not form the words.

    “I?” Ecthelion asked. “If I had a choice . . .” he sighed, a long and weary sound that had no place in hallowed Aman. “I fought against shadow. I died doing so. Now the years have moved on, and our fight belongs to others now. If I were given the choice . . . I believe that I would stay here, with my gardens.”

    Glorfindel sighed though his nose, wiping his hands clean as he did so. He tapped his fingers restlessly on his knee, thinking . . .

    He had met Eärendil the day before last – and what a shock that had been, to see Idril's child as a man grown. He had a pretty Sindarin bride now – Elwing the White, the granddaughter of Lúthien Fairest-born, of all people – and two full grown sons of his own back in Middle-earth. He wore the Silmaril of Lúthien about his brow now, warming every room he entered with a holy light, and yet . . .

    And yet, Eärendil seemed to suffer from the same restlessness of spirit that he did, Glorfindel thought, his heart clenching oddly. Eärendil mourned, and Glorfindel . . .

    “I would give anything to go back, even though I know that it is selfish to think such things . . .”

    “ . . . the world needed me, and so I answered the call of my people. If I had not done what I had, the Dark Lord himself would still reign in the uttermost north, and yet . . . I would be lying if I said that it was merely duty which shaped my deeds . . . for the sea called to me, and I could not . . . I was not strong enough to . . .”

    “ . . . I chose my duty over my family . . . Should such bonds have been more sacred than mere duty? I do not know half of the time, and it is an argument that runs my mind in circles at night . . .

    “ . . . I left them there, and Elwing did too . . . left them to the Fëanorians and their cruel mercies . . .”

    “ . . . and yet, my sons were loved in their care. My sons called Kinslayers 'father', and I only 'Gil-estel' – an untouchable star in the night sky . . . And yet . . . the Sons of Fëanor have always taken family most seriously, I should not have been as surprised as I was . . .”

    “ . . . surprised, and grateful . . .”

    “ . . . my youngest son chose the fate of Men, and passed on in mortal-death less than five years ago . . . I never had a chance to know my son, and now, I never will . . .”

    “ . . . and the other . . .”

    “ . . . I sail over Lindon every night, looking down . . . and yet I cannot touch, I cannot offer comfort . . . there is so much I cannot do . . .”

    “ . . . the world calls me 'hope', but I . . . I would give anything to go back, even if but for a moment . . .”

    “ . . . I would give anything.”


    “My answer pains you,” Ecthelion said gently, breaking him from his thoughts.

    “Never that,” Glorfindel said, rising to his feet. He felt anchored in his skin then, a war he had long been waging in his mind now coming to an end. He knew what he wanted. Now, he had only to figure out how to make his wishes a reality. He had to . . .

    “I wish you well on your journey,” Ecthelion said, seeing where he consciously made the choice his spirit had long since decided. “Truly, you are a light to this marred world.”

    For a moment, Glorfindel found it hard to breathe. He could feel the thin layer of ice about his spirit melting, as spring breaking from the winter, and yet . . .

    “I wish not to . . .” he started, not sure how to phrase his words.

    “Leave me behind?” Ecthelion raised a dark brow. “It is true, you shall send your soul to Mandos again on some foolhardy stunt without me to hold you back. And yet, I am sure you will be just fine.”

    Glorfindel snorted. “Admit it, I have always kept your life from dull monotony.”

    “It is true,” Ecthelion did not bother denying it. “And yet . . . I have forever to wait for your return. I shall enjoy the quiet while you are gone.”

    Glorfindel felt his heart rise, full in his chest. He turned to embrace the other man, not ashamed at the tears when they came. “My friend,” he said truly. “I will miss you.”

    “And I you,” Ecthelion gave a gentle smile. “And yet, for now I will stay . . . and wait for the roses to bloom.”

    CXIII. Melt

    So far, the unforeseen difficulties with his return to Middle-earth came not from any outside impetus, but rather, from the descendant of his Lord himself.

    Oh, Elrond was polite enough, but that was precisely the problem. Elrond was polite to all, but truly friendly to none. He was respected by all, but close to no one in particular. He was a noted scholar, a decorated warrior, a brilliant tactician - a healer without compare . . . but Glorfindel still knew nothing about the particulars of his character. His likes, his dislikes, his innermost thoughts? All remained a mystery. Glorfindel was truly perplexed – stumped, even, and he did not like feeling so.

    Not even five years since the death of Elros, Eärendil had said, and Glorfindel could see where the fractures of that loss still broke through the young soul before him.

    A healer to all but himself, Glorfindel thought grimly. Though he wished not to say it, Elwing and Eärendil had damaged their sons more than they could have known with their leaving in such a way . . . And then, afterward, Maglor and Maedhros' abandonment of the twins to Gil-galad's care – even when done in the children's best interest - stung more than Glorfindel thought that Elrond even consciously knew. Galadriel had tried to tell him, in part, when he had first arrived in Lindon – Círdan and Gil-galad too – but Glorfindel had not truly understood what they were trying to tell him until he truly threw himself into trying to get to know the last Peredhil.

    But, he was determined. That determination had gotten him far before, and he intended for it to carry him far again.

    The first snow of the season had come to Lindon. Overnight, the snow had blanketing everything from the city to the harbor to the sand dunes which stretched to the sea shore beyond. The ice reached even to the waves, freezing the rolling waters close to the shore while the warmth and movement of the ocean further out refused to be touched. It was, Glorfindel thought, one of the more picturesque scenes he had seen in his long life so far.

    And now . . .

    “I have been told that it is unhealthy, my fascination with the snow,” he stretched his best smile onto his face, and kept it there. “Once, a friend tried to explain that my love of the winter is a coping mechanism for my days spent on the Ice, but I say that it is a simple appreciation of nature.”

    Next to him, Elrond raised a brow – showing a polite interest, as always. “Unhealthy?” he tilted his head. “I do not believe I would call it so, in either instance.”

    Glorfindel shrugged. “You shall just have to form your own opinions by the end of the day.”

    Wariness now joined the polite interest. Glorfindel shook away the odd feeling he had that he was fighting a battle of blows, rather than friendly exchange of words. He had an irrational moment where he wished that Idril was there with him. She always knew what to say with troubled souls, and she would know . . .

    But no.

    “Yes,” he answered the unspoken. “I do not wish to spend my first snowfall back in Middle-earth alone, and thus, you shall be required to cater to the eccentric whims of a guest and accompany me.”

    Cornered, Elrond had no choice but to follow him, and now, here they were, standing at the top of the snow covered dunes, with sleds in hand. Out of all the things that Maeglin had given to Gondolin, Glorfindel was glad to see that his design had survived through the centuries – elsewise, they would have had to use the lids from the barrels on the docks – or their shields, though that hadn't gone so very well the first time he had tried . . .

    His thoughts were distracting him. He set them aside, nearly giddy as he positioned his sled on the slope, ready to -

    “I must confess that I do not quite see the point.”

    Glorfindel fought the urge to sigh. “The point,” he said gently, “is to have fun. You do so for the simple enjoyment of doing so. One cannot simply find ones pleasure in books, after all.”

    Elrond's look dipped, just slightly, “I do not - ” he started to protest, but Glorfindel interrupted.

    “ - do you have one silly lay about singing trolls, or a fanciful tale of adventure in those dusty old tomes you pour through?” Glorfindel waited. “No. I thought as much. A scholar's activities – a healer's gift - both do much to give one a sense of self. They strengthen the spirit, but they will do nothing to a mind already burdened down and weary. Do you see the difference?”

    “I think, I see what you try to say,” Elrond said slowly. He looked down at the sled on the snow, and then the hill itself. His gaze was still dubious.

    Glorfindel counted to ten. “I did this with your father, years ago,” Glorfindel tried to take another route. “He was very young then, but it was something he remembered, even in Aman. I am . . . it pains me that I was not there to do so with you.”

    A moment passed. He knew that he had caught the other off guard when Elrond opened his mouth and then closed it, as if unsure of what to say. “Sometimes,” he said slowly. “Life does not go the way we would wish for it to.”

    And Glorfindel had had it. With a speed born of centuries upon more battlefields than he could count, he reached out, and pushed the other over. Elrond landed on the sled with a surprised look on his face that Glorfindel would remember for years to come, and then he kicked the sled down the hill. The Peredhel's reflexes kicked in, and he righted himself as the sled picked up speed, and with a shout of his own, Glorfindel followed him down the dune. The sea and the horizon beyond blurred together as he sent up a shower of snow in his path, laughing madly for the sheer joy of doing so.

    By the time he landed, Elrond was already on his feet and righting himself. Though he tried to give off the air of one much put upon, a smile clung to the corner of his mouth. Glorfindel gave his own smile widely in reply.

    “There!” he exclaimed. “You do know how to smile. You know, you look like Turgon when you do so,” Glorfindel added after a moment. He shivered at the uncanny resemblance, feeling as if he looked upon a ghost.

    “Turgon,” Elrond said the name softly, thoughtfully. It hurt, Glorfindel thought, the way he said the names of family as if they were merely figures from a tale. Characters from the histories he studied. “My great-grandfather,” Elrond said again, as if trying to make the name something real to him. “Turgon.”

    He looked back up the hill. Slowly, he relaxed his hands from where they had made fists at his side. Elrond met his gaze, and then held it. “Could you . . .” he asked slowly. “Could you tell me more?”

    Gone in his voice was the bland politeness of court. Glorfindel listened, and thought he could hear Elrond there, for the first.

    He reached down, and picked up his sled, oddly touched. He felt triumph fill his lungs.

    “It would be my honor,” Glorfindel answered warmly. “Tell me, what would you want to know first?”

    CXIV. Snowball

    The further and further north they went in the mountains, the colder it became. But with Sauron's unholy forces pushing in on them from the south, and the combined host of Elrond's army from Lindon and the remnants of Celeborn's men from Eregion just barely limping along . . . they needed a place where they could regroup for the winter. A place where they could regain their strength and plan their reply to the Dark Maia in full.

    So far, they had been following the cries of the Eagles overhead, listening for their caws and trusting that the voice of Manwë was guiding them. In the shadows of the crags, Glorfindel could feel a familiar light cling to his skin, brightening the dreary winter-land around them.

    At his side, he was joined by a scout named Erestor. As a son of Fëanorian supporters – even Fëanorians who had not participated in the Kinslayings, Erestor had found life in Lindon to be stiffling and had joined the exodus to Eregion those long years ago. A scholar and a minstrel over a craftsman, he had carefully chronicled the days of the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, and had been the messenger sent to Lindon when news of Annatar's true nature was revealed.

    Erestor knew these mountains much better than Glorfindel did, and so, Elrond had sent the two of them on ahead to find a place in the mountains to hide. They looked for a place of rest, and peace . . .

    And, until that place was found, Glorfindel was enjoying getting to know his companion in full. With his dark hair and pale skin – and prickly character to boot, he reminded him almost painfully of Ecthelion. The resemblance alone was enough to earn his almost immediate affection, but Erestor, on the other hand . . .

    Well, Glorfindel reasoned, he was used to fighting long battles with closely introverted individuals. This would be no different.

    Right now, he was whistling as they picked through the mountain path, every note causing his companion to turn more and more tense with annoyance.

    “Every Orc in the mountain will hear us with you causing such a ruckus,” Erestor said in a dry tone.

    “Nonsense,” Glorfindel replied, gesturing up at the Eagles circling overhead. “No dark thing will dare go near them. We are quite safe beneath the shadow of Manwë.”

    “You would say so,” Erestor said wryly, but without much venom. Glorfindel imagined it was because he had stopped whistling in order to speak. “Did an Eagle not carry you back after your duel with the Balrog?” he asked, his voice turning with curiosity.

    Glorfindel rolled his shoulders. “So I am told, I was not quite . . . there myself at the time,” his smile was more of a grimace, and Erestor had the decency to flush, realizing what memories his words must have brought back. Glorfindel waved a hand, not wishing for the nearly-friendly conversation between them to turn south again. “It is my one wish for this life – to fly with one of the Eagles, while still alive and able to remember doing so.”

    Erestor raised a brow, but there was not quite the same amount of annoyance there as there would have been before.

    “Come now,” Glorfindel said to the look. “Do you not have any impossible dreams?”

    “Right now,” Erestor said, “My dearest dream is to be somewhere warm, and safe.”

    How very . . . uninspired.

    Glorfindel raised a brow as Erestor went by him on the path, feeling his bones itch with the urge for movement. Feeling his mouth turn, Glorfindel reached down to gather a ball of snow in his hands, suddenly inspired. Packing the snow together, he then threw, and felt satisfaction burst within him when the snow shattered across the other's back in an explosion of white.

    Erestor stiffened, turning behind him with a look of red anger upon his face. “Was that you?” he asked - rather stupidly, Glorfindel thought. For there was no one else on the path.

    Glorfindel tried hard not to blink. “It was the Eagles,” he said as convincingly as he could, and just like that, the ire broke from Erestor. His face contorted oddly, as if he were trying not to smile. Glorfindel waited for it, but -

    Overhead, an Eagle called. There was an urgency to the tone, and they knew . . .

    “There,” Glorfindel said. “There is a parting in the rock.”

    They ran forward, careful of the ice over the steep cliffs. The Eagles were lower now, flying in urgent circles as their golden brown wings reflected the sunlight. They called, and there -

    A valley of falling water came into view, perfectly hidden in the mountains. Waterfalls played and rivers sung, each paying homage to the beauty of the mountains and the great sky above, and -

    Glorfindel felt his heart catch at the beauty in the valley. There was magic here, flowing from water and stone and branch. For a moment, he could not breathe.

    “Some place warm and safe,” he clapped Erestor on the back. “I do believe that you have found your wish, my friend.”

    CXV. Snowman

    Near the front gate of the valley, a small child waited.

    All in the household would pass the balconies that would let them glance in on the little girl and her steady vigil, smiling fondly in amusement as they looked down. Many stopped to make sure that Arwen was comfortable, bringing blankets and refreshing her mug of hot tea to ward against the chill in the air. Celebrían had tried to talk her daughter into waiting inside, but Arwen would hear nothing of it – and finally, after drawing a promise that inside she would go once the sun started to set, Arwen settled back in. Her young eyes were set solemnly on the gap in the pass – where her brothers would appear at any moment, returning home for the winter from where they had ridden out with the Dúnedain earlier in the summer.

    Glorfindel watched the child with a fondness in his heart that he had not felt since Idril was that age, running about underfoot and trailing giggles in her wake. The girl moved with a grace beyond her years, and already her eyes were old and wise. But Arwen was still a child, with a child's needs, and so he came down with one of his thickest cloaks, and placed it over her small shoulders before she could protest.

    “It is okay to be cold,” he said easily, his breath frosting on the air between them. “I get cold quite easily myself,” he leaned in close to say so, as if he were telling a secret of great importance.

    Arwen's grey eyes widened, just slightly about the edges. “But I thought that you loved the snow?” she said, puzzling through the two seemingly contradictory pieces of information in her mind.

    “Indeed, I do love the snow,” Glorfindel said. “It does not mean that I am immune to the cold.”

    “Ah,” Arwen said simply, her head tilted as she processed what she had learned – a motion that was so very Elrond that Glorfindel had to tuck his smile aside.

    He sat down next to her on the bench – which had been cleared of snow, even though the white powder fairly clung to everything else. Her eyes had turned faithfully back to the pass, ever waiting. Her small shoulders were tense, her happy mouth unsmiling.

    “I worry about them as well,” Glorfindel said softly. “I do not like it when they go past where I can see - and this is the first time that they have ridden from the valley when not underneath my protection.”

    Arwen blinked, and looked over at him. “They ride with the sons of Men now,” she said, setting her jaw. Her eyes flashed for a moment – a child's alignment of her missing her brothers given to the only thing she could think to assign blame.

    “Indeed, the Dúnedain are valiant and worthy men all. Your brothers will learn much from their ways,” Glorfindel chided gently. “And the Dúnedain are very distant kin of yours, as well. Do well to remember that.”

    Arwen took a moment, considering his words, before she nodded her head. Her look was still grim on her face as she stared at the pass.

    Glorfindel waited a moment, and then two. “I miss them too, little one.”

    Arwen sucked in a breath. Her lower lip wobbled, as if she wished to cry, but was trying not to. “I miss then dearly,” she said, reaching over to pat his hand as if she were the one offering him comfort, and he felt warmth grow in his heart for the child, touched as he was. “It is better missing them together,” she finally decided.

    “They will not be long,” Glorfindel soothed. “The snows came early this year, and that can make traveling in the mountains tricky. They were merely delayed.”

    “Yes . . . delayed,” Arwen said, her voice shaped like relief, and Glorfindel grinned.

    Looking around the open square of stone – where visitors were normally received, he felt a thought come upon him at the untouched planes of white snow, thinking . . .

    When he got up, he started to form a snowball in his hand, and then he rolled the ball on the ground, making it bigger. Arwen looked at him curiously as he did so, her head tilted to the side again.

    “Glorfindel, what are you doing?” she asked.

    “I am building a snowman,” Glorfindel said. “And you are going to help. We can set them up as sentinels, and they can help us keep watch. How does that sound?”

    Arwen looked torn between keeping her eyes on the pass, and joining in on the admittedly more exciting prospect of snowman building.

    “I suppose I could help you,” she said carefully. “For a little while, at least.”

    “A very little while,” Glorfindel promised, passing his half formed ball of snow to Arwen to finish, while he started on the 'midsection' of the snowman. When their construction took them well into the afternoon – they both grinning and covered in snow – Arwen did not even notice her brothers' returning until they picked her up and spun her about, and her laughter again filled the valley.

    CXVI. Snowfall

    It was snowing the day the Fellowship left Imladris.

    Glorfindel watched them depart with a weight on his heart, a disquiet in his bones. The land was filled with shadow again, stretched darker and deeper than it had even in the days of Morgoth and his unholy evil. And now, they were sending those dearest and brightest of their kinds to fight that shadow . . .

    He made fists of his hands at his side, restless in his own skin. The urge to do more, to be more, clawed at his bones. And yet, he had to remind himself that the days of his kind were coming to an end. This fight belonged to Men in its heaviest of ways. And so, it was Men who would bring the Dark One to his knees. Men . . . and the gentle souled halfling who carried Sauron's greatest weapon about his neck.

    Would that he could carry this burden for Frodo, he thought – would that any of them could. And yet, it was Frodo's to carry, and he was left here waiting.

    Waiting . . . and watching the life he had come to hold dear unravel around him. Most of the valley prepared to leave. His people would turn towards the Havens and travel West, even if Sauron was defeated. Most would follow their Lord from the valley – for if the Ring was destroyed, the lesser Rings would die as well, and Elrond's fëa was fractured and torn from using Vilya for so many years. He and the Golden Lady both would need the West for healing, for repairing their souls, and they would leave these lands far behind.

    And yet, many would stay. Many would stay with their Lord's daughter, stay until the Evenstar passed from the circles of the world, and darkness truly fell upon the lands.

    Glorfindel . . . he would stay. He would see Arwen's choice through to the end before returning to the lands of his birth. He had promised her father in all but words that he would do so, and now . . .

    Now, Erestor was carefully cataloging the contents of the library, deciding what would go with Arwen to Gondor, and what would cross the sea to Aman. He had a long scroll out in the gardens – he needing the fresh and natural air, even though the snow fell upon the parchment and muddled his words.

    “There is so much to do,” Erestor muttered. “No matter how the days to come play out, there is much to plan, much to arrange.” His fingers were white knuckled about the scroll. He too glanced where the company had departed.

    In his heart . . . in his heart, Glorfindel knew that Frodo would succeed. He knew that Aragorn would reclaim his birthright, that he and Arwen would wed . . . he knew this the same as he had known that the Witch-king would not fall by the hands of any man, all of those years ago. He was no seer, he had not the touch of the Sight, but he had the light of the Valar in his soul, and he knew.

    Erestor's thoughts followed much the same, he thought, for he was looking over the gardens with a tired, old look in his eyes. He fiddled with the quill in his hand before setting both aside, suddenly weary.

    “Do you ever . . .” he started carefully. “Do you ever regret your choice?” he asked simply. “You could have had a life of your own in Aman, a family even. Now, to return to where darkness so clearly falls . . . over and over again. Do you ever wish you had chosen differently?”

    Glorfindel looked, and honestly considered his answer before he gave it. In Aman, he could have married, he could have had children of his own, and yet, he looked . . . He looked, and saw the balcony where Celebrían had asked him for Elrond's hand all of those centuries ago – skewering tradition as she addressed the only 'family' Elrond had this side of the ocean. He looked, and saw the room where he had paced nervously throughout the births of all three children, worry in his throat, even though they were not born of his blood. He looked, and saw where he had taught Elladan and Elrohir the bow, where he had sat in these same gardens and helped Arwen learn the High-tongue, as it was spoken in far Aman . . . He saw, and he remembered . . .

    If he had brought even a fraction of light to this darkened world . . . if he had made the light just that much brighter for Turgon's line . . .

    Then yes . . .

    . . . yes.

    “I regret nothing,” he said simply. “And my family is here. All of my family,” he said, looking at Erestor – dear Erestor, who had grown closer to him than any brother of flesh and bone. Erestor, who would go across the ocean with Elrond, and too would be one more soul whom Glorfindel would have to miss and wait for.

    But, not for much longer, he thought.

    When he got to his feet, and turned from the other, he was surprised when he felt a cold ball of snow hit him right between the shoulderblades. He turned behind him, a smile blooming on his face for the other's audacity - for not once in all of their centuries together had Erestor done so. Now, a small smile cracked the corners of his grim facade. His dark eyes were heavy with feeling.

    “There is that smile,” Erestor said. “Take care, my friend, to see that it never falls from its place – for it brings light to more than you know.”

    CXVII. Tradition

    Rare was it when snow fell in Minas Tirith, for Gondor was far to the south, and warm nearly the whole year through. And so, it was when journeying north with Arwen's ever growing family to visit her brothers in Imladris, that her children saw snow for the first time in the foothills of the Misty Mountains.

    Eldarion was all giggles and unrestrained smiles while he went stomping through the snow as fast as his feet could carry him. He was tall for his ten summers, tripping over his own coltish legs more often than not, but he had determination enough to carry him on, and even falling in the snow brought nothing but more laughter from him.

    Younger Amdiriel was slower to follow her brother, instead standing very close to her mother's side and just looking at the snow, as if by doing so, she could force the strange white powder to fade from the strength of her gaze. She was a miniature replica of her mother, with her straight black hair and solemn grey eyes – even the stubborn set to her shoulders was Arwen, and it warmed Glorfindel's heart to see. Arwen herself was glowing with the presence of her family and the cold of the wild both. She would be a mother again soon, he knew, though the new life of her daughter was just flickering in her womb. She had been newly pregnant when they left the White City, and instead of delaying their trip, she had instead decided to bear her next daughter in the home of her childhood, and then return home to Gondor when the babe was strong enough to travel.

    Amdiriel took after her mother's people, and was empathetic to the point of the uncanny. She leaned against her mother's side, the tiny point of her ear nearly pressed to her mother's stomach in her wish to constantly be near to the little soul developing within. Eldarion understood the concept of another sister only in the broadest of terms, he being – as Amdiriel put it so eloquently – more Troll-brained than anything else. But he understood that something special was happening, and that his family was to grow again, and for that the boy was all smiles and joy.

    Where the hills became steep enough for sledding, Aragorn was the one to take the lead in instructing his children on the unparalleled joy of the winter's activities. Both fatherhood and kingship had settled well on Aragorn's shoulders – as everything he had once clawed for in life now his to enjoy in peace and prosperity. Glorfindel was proud of the man Estel had become – so far from the eager little boy they had once called Hope, running barefoot through the halls of Elrond. His family had done much to take the grim lines from his face, and while still solemn, there was a smile on Aragorn's face more often than not – especially when in the company of his family and none other.

    “Now,” Aragorn was explaining in a solemn voice – even Amdiriel braving the snow to listen reverently at her father's side. “This is a most honored and sacred of traditions amongst your mother's people. Since the noon-time of the First Age, when the Elves of Gondolin looked for sport in the cold mountain ways, they have known this art, and perfected it throughout the centuries. You must pay the utmost attention, children, and when the day comes, pass this on, so it may never be forgotten.”

    Eldarion was nodding gravely, taking in everything his father said as Aragorn pushed him down the hill, and then the little boy was laughing as the wind caught in his hair and the snow burst up in waves of white to cover him. His shrieks of delight startled the birds from the trees, but they too called as if in laughter, catching on the mirth of the family below.

    Little Amdiriel did not look at all like the sledding was something she wished to do, but rather than return to Arwen's side, she turned to him, and said most seriously. “Lord Glorfindel, if you would not mind accompanying me, I do believe I should be less afraid if we were to go together.”

    He scooped the little girl up, and walked to the sled, slowing his step when her fingers were white about the fur lining of his cloak.

    “Little one,” he said warmly, “It would be my honor.”

    While Amdiriel's cries turned from fear to laughter on their way down the hill, she was still weak at the knees when they walked back up the slope. Laughing, she fell down in the snow and daintily proclaimed, “A most glorious of traditions it is, but if you would not mind, I would rather build a snowman instead.”

    CXVIII. Holiday

    Somehow, when he was not looking, time had passed him by.

    He felt old in his bones, stretched and worn thin – as if his skin was parchment, covering up the ever-heat of his soul. He was one of the last ones of his kind left on these shores. The Elves of the West had long since returned home, and the children of the forest faded more and more to spirits and legends. Someday, they would be nothing but stories to the sons of Men. Stories and songs.

    And he . . .

    It was time for him to return home.

    Aragorn had laid down his life in death with the last days of autumn. His had been a long life, duly blessed, but it was still a mortal's life, with a mortal's allotment of time, and now he breathed no more. Arwen's grief was great at her husband's passing, but it was as Elrond had foretold all those days ago. Her spirit was still of many years, elven down to her bones, and her grief and pain would have to forcibly push the last breath from her body. There would be no ease of passing for her, no comfort until she found the veils of mortal death, and until then . . . He would follow her, and when her last breath left, he would return West from whence he came, and bow before his Lord, declaring his duty long served and done.

    Celeborn and the twins already followed her, and Glorfindel could linger no more. He had to go, he had to follow . . . he had promised her father. He swore an oath to Turgon long ago . . .

    “So it is true. You too are leaving us.”

    Glorfindel looked to the doors of his rooms, to see Tinúviel standing right within. The daughter of Amdiriel's daughter, she appeared older than her sixteen years would seem; older and wiser both. But her grief was great for the loss of her family, and her eyes were red and raw.

    So many generations, Glorfindel thought . . . how quickly the sons of Men moved through time, and while he considered himself blessed to have known and loved so many of Aragorn's line, he was also tired . . . so very tired. He did not know how he would be able to watch Amdiriel die. And then her children . . . and her children's children. He was strong enough for many things, but not for that.

    And so, he would not stay until then. He would keep to his memory how they were now, until, someday . . .

    “Child, you know why I must go,” he said gently.

    She shook her head, her black hair a halo about her face. “No, I do not,” she said simply. “Aragorn lies in death, but his son does not. Eldarion needs you . . . mother needs you . . . I need you. You cannot yet go.”

    “Eldarion is a strong man, and he will be a strong king,” Glorfindel said gently. “He needs nothing from me. And I will miss you as much as you shall me. Believe me when I say that I will keep your memory with me throughout all of my days.”

    “And that is just the point,” Tinúviel said. “You go where we cannot follow. You go West where we can never go . . . Where we will never see you again.” Her voice broke at the end, a dry sound of grief.

    He placed down the pack he had been putting together, and opened his arms to her. She answered wordlessly, burrowing into his embrace and resting her head against his chest. Her tears warmed the fabric of his tunic. He felt the light of his fëa waver at her pain, and he wondered it he could hold on a little bit longer against the sea-longing deep within him. He wondered . . . but no.

    “It is said,” Glorfindel whispered gently, “That not even the Wise know where the sons of Men go after death. That only Eru himself knows, and Mandos too. And yet, there are whispers, that beyond the circles of time . . . at the breaking of the world, when it is forged anew, that those of all kindreds will meet again. That there will be a reunion, greater than any other. A gift from the One to his children who have lived so long beneath shadow and darkness.”

    “That is nothing but silly whispers,” Tinúviel said in a small voice. “A child's tale, told to make those with fewer years more at ease with their allotment of time.”

    “And yet,” Glorfindel countered gently. “I do not think so. I have died once before; I now live again. Anything is possible, and I . . . I have forever to wait. Forever to wait and remember you - remember all of you.”

    “All of us?” she whispered brokenly.

    “All of you,” he said, closing his own eyes against his grief. “No matter how long it takes, I will remember you and keep that memory dear.”

    “And you . . . you truly believe that?” she asked. Her voice was a small, hopeful thing. “You truly believe that there is a hope . . . beyond time . . . beyond this world's end?”

    He drew away just enough to tilt her chin up. He looked, and let her see the light of Aman in his eyes – a memory of the Trees themselves in their days of glory. He knew he carried the light of his spirit on his skin – a final offering of his tired and battered soul to the grieving mortal girl before him. “Yes, child, I do. With all of my heart.”

    He watched her as she swallowed; as she grasped upon his strength and made it her own. “Then,” she said, and her voice was stronger when she spoke. “I shall treat this as a holiday. You go away for a short time, but we shall see you again.”

    “Sooner than you would think,” he forced a smile to his face – one last time, for this daughter of his Lord's blood. “Sooner than a blinking.”

    “Until then,” Tinúviel turned into his embrace, and he returned it. He memorized the shape of her form, the texture of her hair.

    “Indeed, dear one,” Glorfindel agreed, and his voice was as a promise. “Until then.”

    . . . until then.

    laurethiel1138 and Nyota's Heart like this.
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    That was just off-the-chain lovely. =D= =D= =D= Thank you for gifting us with Glorfindel's history and his sweet spirit warming all whose lives he crossed and whose hearts he stirred to courage and affection and laughter. :) :) I loved seeing Elrond and Arwen and their further generations. :cool: I always feel like I've discovered one of Tolkien's Unfinished Tales when I read your stuff, sweet, brill Mira_Jade ^:)^
  3. laurethiel1138

    laurethiel1138 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Feb 6, 2003
    My, oh! my... Heartwrenching, heartwarming, awesome and tear-jerking all at once...

    (Can you tell I've been reading TVTropes a wee bit much in the wake of seeing TDOS?)

    Honestly, the POV of Glorfindel was incredible in this series of prompts, and I felt privideged that you shared this extraordinary insight with us. And somehow, continuing with my fancasting streak, seeing how you portrayed the Balrog-Slayer, I could not help but think of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of GoT fame, winning smile and all, prankster side included. The man himself can't handle a sword, apparently, but it certainly doesn't stop my imagination...

    Lauré :)
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  4. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Nyota's Heart: I always feel like I've discovered one of Tolkien's Unfinished Tales when I read your stuff, sweet, brill Mira_Jade.

    As always, you do me such a great honor with your words, my friend! [:D] Thank-you so much for your kind thoughts! Glorfindel's history was a fun one to explore here - heartwarming and endearing to the fullest possible extent, that's for sure, and I'm glad that you enjoyed reading about him! :) [:D]

    laurethiel1138: My, oh! my... Heartwrenching, heartwarming, awesome and tear-jerking all at once...

    [face_laugh] Hey, TVTropes are the best. That's all I've got to say on that. :p And I thank-you! :D

    Honestly, the POV of Glorfindel was incredible in this series of prompts, and I felt privideged that you shared this extraordinary insight with us. And somehow, continuing with my fancasting streak, seeing how you portrayed the Balrog-Slayer, I could not help but think of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of GoT fame, winning smile and all, prankster side included. The man himself can't handle a sword, apparently, but it certainly doesn't stop my imagination..

    Please forgive me for a moment while I smile and clap my hands with giddy fangirlish glee. I am quite familiar with the Kingslayer, and if he ever wished to trade his title in for Balrog-slayer, I would be one happy camper, that's for sure! ;) [face_love] Ah, but you are casting quite the lovely film here, and I would so pay to see it. [face_love]

  5. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Author's Note: I know! An update so soon? What can I say, I had time to write this weekend, and instead of waiting to share, I decided why not? :p

    On the wings of the last update, we have Hobbit ficlets, with a more than healthy dash of the Silmarillion to boot, inspired, in part by @Laurethiel1138's new collection of Hobbit/Tolkien sentences. Which are shaping up to be quite perfect indeed. [face_love]

    Narsil: The sword of Elendil, which would later be forged anew for Aragorn. It was forged by the dwarf Telchar in the First Age – who was said to be the greatest smith to ever live after Fëanor and Celebrimbor. And now it's theory time! There was an interesting line on Wikipedia, saying that Narsil may have come to Númenor through Elros, after Maglor gifted him with the sword – which I don't remember ever reading, but I can see as a plausible explanation. This is why - earlier in the First Age, Maedhros saved the life of the Dwarf-king Azaghâl of Belegost (Telchar's king), and we know that Azaghâl gave him the Dragon-helm (which Telchar also forged) as a gift in repayment. Maybe we can assume that Narsil came with it? We knew that Azaghâl continued to view a great life-debt between himself and Maedhros, for when Maedhros and Fingon planned their assault against Melkor, Azaghâl pledged both he and his forces to Maedhros' disposal. (And Azaghâl had a rather heroic stand against the great Father of Dragons himself that Thorin and Co. may find interesting, to boot . . . ;))

    And, speaking of that battle . . .

    Nírnaeth Arnoediad: The Battle of Unnumbered Tears - the fifth battle of the Elves against Melkor . . . and the last great union against his evil reign until the Valar came and did away with him for good (well, kinda ;)). Inspired by Lúthien and Beren triumphing over Melkor, Maedhros did not move to recover her Silmaril past a strongly worded letter to Thingol (which Thingol took great offense to – but more about that later), instead plotting with Fingon about how to strike against Melkor in a massive, all out battle. Gondolin came out of hiding to help, Dwarves answered the call, and Men too – unfortunately, the combination of the Curse of the Noldor, the black shadow of Maedhros' own Oath, and Melkor's host of Dragons, Balrogs, and Orcs unnumbered the Union by a landslide, and won a decisive victory – especially when a great portion of Men in the battle, the newly arrived Easterlings, turned traitor and attacked the host of the Elves at Melkor's command. Fingon died in the battle, and the Elves' power in the North fell, allowing Melkor free reign about the land. After Fingon's death, Maedhros never again tried to unite the lands against Melkor, instead falling into despair and focusing only on his Oath until his own death.

    Orcrist: It's time for more theories! ;) Orcrist was the 'goblin cleaver', the 'blade who sliced a thousand necks' - Thorin's sword in The Hobbit. Since Glamdring – Gandalf's sword – belonged to Turgon, it stands to reason that Orcrist belonged to a high ranking lord in Turgon's court. We can narrow it down to either Eglamoth, who 'bore a curved sword', or Ecthelion, for his fame at slaying a thousand Orcs in battle. I do not think it was Elgamoth for the simple reason that he survived the Fall of Gondolin, and was later killed at the Third Kinslaying in Sirion. If it was Ecthelion's, the sword would have been 'near' Turgon's, and they could have washed up together in the Third Age. Bilbo's 'sword' belonging to Glorfindel is not supported by canon, but it is a very popular fan theory. And one that I love. [face_love]

    And now, that said . . .

    "so there will be no forgetting"

    CXIX. Tale

    Magic, Gandalf had said when they entered the valley, but Bilbo Baggins was quite certain that the Grey Wizard was mistaken. For this had to be more than even that. Magic was fireworks in the night skies and smoke rings taking the shapes of ships with their elegant sails. Magic was bright lights and midsummers eves' and the crossings in the paths. This that he felt around him? This was peace, settling in him soul deep. This was stories made flesh, all the laughter of water and the power music held when it sung of histories true and told, and he . . .

    Bilbo was, in a word, quite smitten as he roamed the halls on silent feet while his companions caused a ruckus elsewhere. He touched elegant carvings of vine and stone as he passed, he thumbed throught the pages of ancient tomes even older than he – some were older than the Shire even. And at the realization he had stared, entranced.

    Now, he had stopped before a wall, a wall covered in a great mural of a creature, tall and dark, who wore a golden ring on his finger. The small band was a flame in a dark place, blazing with power even when caught in an artist's thrall. Bilbo gazed curiously at the monster with the ring, his own fingers whispering as with a ghost of sensation, even though he himself wore no such adornment.

    Curious, he thought, and that too he attributed to the magic of the land.

    Next to the mural, there was a pedestal, upon which there was a great sword; laying in two massive pieces, its strong blade rent in a jagged line down the middle. Bilbo paused, wondering how mighty the blow must have been to break such a blade – for he could feel an enchantment in the sword before him, an enchantment of hewn earth and the bite of the forge – a sensation he at times felt amongst his companions, though the aura was often fleeting, as a whisper.

    He reached out to touch it, when -

    “Be careful, Master-hobbit,” came a warm voice from the entrance to the room. The voice was a musical voice, one which Bilbo felt in his bones rather than heard in his ears. “Long has Narsil laid broken, but her edges are still sharp to the touch.”

    “Narsil,” Bilbo rolled the name on the back of his tongue, as he would a particularly fine wine. It was, he thought, a fitting name. Sun and moon, he knew from his growing grasp on the Elven tongue. Now that he looked for it, he could see the light of both - dully glowing, even when the sword was broken and at rest.

    “Narsil, wielded last by Elendil, one of the last sons of the starlit-lands and first King of the Dúnedain,” the voice continued, coming closer. “In the First Age, it was forged by the great Dwarf-smith Telchar, at the bidding of his Azaghâl his king. The sword was to be a gift for Maedhros Fëanorian, for he saved the life of Azaghâl when he was waylaid by Orcs on the great Dwarf-road. Maedhros in turn, gave the sword to his brother, and Maglor Fëanorian later gifted the sword in parting to his ward, Elros Tar-Minyatur, the first King of Númenor, and a great leader of Men. The sword has protected that line ever since, and now waits to be forged again – when the hands waiting to hold it are ready to do so.”

    The names tickled at the back of Bilbo's mind, tugging on stories his mother had told in days long past. He looked up to see who his companion was, and saw a tall elf – no surprise there, Bilbo thought, for they were all quite tall about him. Instead of the dark hair most in the valley had, this elf seemingly wore the sunlight atop his head. Bilbo thought first of the Wood-elves with the shade, but no . . . there was something different about him. Something that was more.

    The elf's eyes were eerily bright, Bilbo thought. As if he had looked on the sun when standing very near to it, and took a bit of that brilliance with him when he turned away.

    “It's a great story,” Bilbo said, his fingers still resting above Narsil's blade. Carefully, he did not touch it. A part of him knew that the blade was not his to hold, and the sword welcomed him not. “It seems as if every sword we run into has a great tale behind it.” Bilbo let his right hand tap his at the hilt of his own 'sword', ever curious as he was by the elegant little blade.

    “Ah,” the elf said slowly. “The swords of Gondolin.”

    “Yes,” Bilbo inclined his head. “Glamdring? Your lord named the one. And . . . Orist? Ocrast was the other?”

    “Orcrist,” the stranger rolled the name from his tongue with the ease of long familiarity. A small smile tugged at his face, sad in shape, and Bilbo wondered at it. “The sword's name was Orcrist.”

    “Ah, yes,” Bilbo bounced on the balls of his feet. “Orcrist - that's the one.”

    The elf shook his head, bemusement touching his face. “How odd, that they should now appear in a troll horde, of all places. Ah, but to see his face when I tell him so . . .” his voice was absent as he said so, as if he spoke to a ghost in the room. Bilbo knew that the other was far from him in that moment, before he blinked, turning back to Bilbo again. “It is against odds,” he said carefully, “but I would ask of a dagger which went with the set. A short blade,” he held his hands apart to demonstrate, “who was made as a companion to the swords in their forging.”

    Bilbo's fingers tapped against the hilt of his sword – which an elf very much would call a dagger, he thought. A long knife . . .

    Slowly, carefully, he drew the blade free, and watched as the elf's eyes followed it. There was a flickering in the brightness of his eyes. Bilbo looked, and thought that – for that moment, the elf did not breathe.

    “Then it's not a letter opener?” Bilbo said with a half smile as he passed it to the elf's reverent hands.

    “Indeed not,” the elf answered, bemused.

    “Then, does it . . .” Bilbo asked, hoping . . .

    “No,” the elf shook his head. “It has naught of a name, merely memories. When they named Ecthelion's ridiculous blade for slaying a thousand necks, I had wagered that I could slay more with this dagger alone than he could with his curved sword during the Nírnaeth Arnoediad. I came close, even though he would never admit it. But at the end of that battle, there was no jesting between comrades, nor rejoicing in feast and song. Merely tears.”

    Bilbo blinked, trying to understand the tenses the elf spoke with. He spoke as if . . .

    “Then you knew who owned - ” he did he math. He adjusted his words. “Forgive me, you owned this blade . . . sometimes it is easy to forget, the agelessness of the Elves.”

    “Agelessness,” the elf turned the word over thoughtfully. He smiled a smile Bilbo could not quite put his finger on. “Yes, you could call it as such.”

    The elf went to give the blade back, but Bilbo held up a hand. “No,” he said. “It was yours, was it not? I would not -”

    “It has not been mine for many centuries,” the elf said easily. “And swords choose their wielders. This blade will do much in your hands, Master Baggins, and I would not take that away. Even though,” he allowed a small smile to touch his mouth, “I do imagine that Ecthelion would have scowled to see his sword in your leader's hands . . . And yet, it is fitting. There is a certain stubbornness about them both, a certain strength of spirit that the sword would answer to.”

    “Strength of spirit,” Bilbo repeated wryly – as if such words could so easily surmise Thorin and his determination. Thorin and his hunger. “And yet . . .” he swallowed. He looked to the west, where he knew the Shire rested in its green cradle of hills and bubbling blue streams. “Sometimes, I do not feel as if I am meant to do such things. Sometimes, I wonder whether or not I am even meant to be here, or if I had a moment of Took-ishness that I shall forever regret . . .”

    The elf too looked west, and the bright light in his gaze seemed to glow then. In a queer way, Bilbo thought that the ancient and ethereal being before him understood his small worries. His unease and fear.

    “The Valar choose their vessels wisely,” was all he said. “You give yourself too little credit for your path.”

    Bilbo bit his lip. He took the dagger – his sword – and tried to fight away just how foreign the blade felt in his hands.

    The elf noticed, Bilbo thought. He set his jaw thoughtfully as he leaned forward, as if preparing to impart a secret. “You seem to have an ear for stories,” the elf said. “If you would, I would tell you a tale now, of a youth who made a very big decision – in the days when there was no light, for the Trees' had been felled and the Sun and Moon had not yet arisen in the sky. A tale of an elf, who wished to serve his kinsman and lord . . .”

    CXX. Telling

    During their first night away from Rivendell, the terrain leveled out enough for them to camp on a small landing in the mountains. Their location was better than some they had spent the night in before, the clearing being both easy enough to defend, and spacious enough so that they did not need to worry for rolling the wrong way in the night to a long and final drop.

    With an ease that would have one time shocked him, Bilbo unpacked his place for the night, and then moved to help prepare the evening meal. Used to dining at full tables with food aplenty for the past two weeks, they were not quite ready to part from the fullness of their bellies, and so, Bilbo was elected to make his stew that night – cooking the hares that the youngest two dwarves caught with the ease of long familiarity. If there was anything a Hobbit was adept at, it was preparing supper, he thought. His neighbors would have been scandalized by how thin and . . . rugged, he had become over the trip thus far, he thought, he having gone so long without second breakfast . . . afternoon tea . . . dinner and supper . . .

    His stomach rumbled, and that too Bilbo ignored. The wild was no such place for indulgences, and he had learned to do well without a great many things.

    With their quest again underway, the company of Thorin was a merry gathering that night. The dwarves sung, Bofur leading them more often than not with his rowdy tunes and creative lyrics - most of which he improvised on the spot before encouraging others to do the same. After Bofur's songs quieted down, Balin took over, telling tales from Erebor in the mountains days of glory. That night, he told a story of the royal family – mischief that Thorin had got into with his siblings Frerin and Dís, when they had journeyed beyond the mountain halls and stumbled upon children from Dale, and the ensuing chaos that day had then caused. Bilbo smiled mightily at the stories, amused to see their infallible leader as something young and curious and very . . . well, not Thorin. Afterward, Thorin scowled and asked the elderly dwarf why he delighted in shaming him, but there was fondness in his eyes when he did so.

    When Balin's tale was over, and they were scraping the last of their supper from their bowls, Bofur turned to him and asked for his stories. Early on in their quest, his talent with lays and tales had gone noticed, and ever since then they had asked him for tales around the campfire. Bilbo answered readily enough, speaking the same stories his mother had once told him, or giving more fanciable anecdotes from the Shire. Though shenanigans with crops and fields did not interest the dwarves so much, Belladonna Took's tales kept them much interested indeed, and yet, tonight . . .

    Each night, while his companions had gone their own ways and kept to their own company, Bilbo had sat in the Hall of Fire in Rivendell, listening to the songs and stories told there. The Elves, with their years and forever before them were careful to forget nothing, to remember all through songs and lyric, and Bilbo had listened to their stories, enraptured. There was one particular song – a song that all would pause to listen to when Lindir would pick up his harp, a solemn respect for the characters within that had touched Bilbo, a story of . . .

    He was no minstrel. He had no talent with voice or song, but Bilbo could tell stories. And so he whispered the Lay of Lúthien in a solemn voice fit for the epic deeds of old. He told of Beren the mortal-man, who won the heart of the fairest maiden ever born, and the trials and tribulations of their love. He looked, but instead of seeing the same feeling of enraptured sadness the story had first given him, he saw indifferent faces all. Some even turned down in distaste. Óin pointedly took out his ear piece, and smirked when others snickered at his actions.

    It was when he was repeating the words Lúthien sang to Death himself that Bofur got up and took over for him – making light of Lúthien's plight, turning the beautiful words into something of jest and parody. The other dwarves laughed and joined in with the refrain, catching up on the rhythm and turning the tale into a mummer's farce. A joke.

    When Bofur's lyrics took a turn towards the insinuating, Bilbo stood, insulted for the memory of those the song was supposed to represent.

    “For shame!” he exclaimed, jabbing a finger towards the ground and stomping his foot with his pique. “You should all be ashamed of yourselves.”

    “Oh, sit down Master-baggins,” Bofur was still laughing. He threw the last bit of his bread roll at him – affection, Bilbo knew from his time spent with the Dwarves, and yet he was not appeased. “It was all a bit of fun.”

    “And a great fun it was,” Glóin added, still chortling at the last of the lyrics. “It was the best part of the tale yet.”

    Bilbo gazed at them, floored. “So, that is the way of it. The Elves remember your ancient tongues when you yourselves have all but forgotten them, and you go to them to read your map. You accept their hospitality - eat their food, steal their trinkets,” he rounded on a dwarf who was about to protest. “Oh yes, don't think I didn't notice your souvenirs. You wield their weapons as your own, but you cannot acknowledge that there is even the smallest bit of beauty in Lúthien's tale?”

    He waited a moment. No one answered.

    “That,” he said slowly. “Is unfortunate.” He fisted his hands at his sides then, so that no one could tell the way they shook. He felt that queasy feeling in his stomach that said that he would soon feel faint, but he pushed it aside. He was going to be brave. He let the Took in him speak, and the Baggins in him lay aside.

    When Thorin rose to his feet, his clear blue eyes were dark. Bilbo thought about shadow beneath the mountain and the stone womb of the world when seeing the would be Dwarf-king as such, and he squared his jaw at the untouchable strength of the earth itself. “You speak,” Thorin said lowly – dangerously, Bilbo knew, “Of that which you do not know.”

    “Don't I?” Bilbo replied. “You were wronged once before, that I know.” He saw eyes of stone around him. “Balin told me the tale, and that I do not try to speak against, or cast aside. I understand your anger; I acknowledge your cause for it. I am simply trying to say that this world would be a better place – a happier place - if you did not assign the blame for a few on the whole. It is a failing, too, that those who wronged you place at your own door, is it not?”

    For oh, he knew how Lúthien's kin found their end – her father, the Elven-king of Doriath dead by dwarvish hands for the Silmaril set within its necklace of starlit stones, along with so many others before Beren the One-handed found the dwarves of Nogrod and took from them a payment of blood in kind.

    Silence met him. Thorin turned, his jaw a hooked line on his face. “I have lost my taste for tales this eve,” and he turned away from him.

    “What if,” he called after him, even though the Baggins within him was telling him to sit down. To sit down, and be silent. “What if I told you that I had a story about the sword at your side? The elf who wielded it – he was a bit like you, you know. He died facing a creature of flame so that his people would live. He sacrificed himself for something that he believed in . . . and when I heard it, I thought that that sounded an awful lot like something you would do. If it ever came between the dragon and the lives of your kin . . . I think I know what decision you would make. Swords choose their owners, you know, and that sword chose you for a reason.”

    For a moment, Thorin stopped. Bilbo thought that he had reached him, that he had touched something, and yet -

    Thorin kept his back turned, and took his place at the farthest edge of the clearing. Near to the edge of the mountainside.

    And Bilbo sighed through his mouth, frustrated. He ran a hand through his hair, while the Baggins in him asked if he could simply sit down now. Please.

    Kíli, who had been strangely silent throughout the whole of Bofur's impromptu song and the tense exchange of words that had followed, looked at Bilbo. Slowly . . . he nodded. “I would hear the tale of Uncle's sword, if you would tell it,” he said. His voice was at first shaped like a question, but it became stronger at the end. A certainty.

    Fíli looked at his brother, and then at Bilbo. Very carefully, he did not look in his uncle's direction. “I would too.”

    A moment passed, and then: “You had me from the beginning, laddie. Carry on,” Balin said gently, and Bilbo saw an understanding in his old eyes . . . a sadness as he glanced at the untouchable set of Thorin's shoulders. The finality in his turned back.

    “It went,” Bilbo gathered his courage, letting his voice rise so that it would carry. So that all would hear. “Something like this . . .”

  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    =D= =D= =D= Fantabulous! All were very in-character. And Bravo for Bilbo!! @};- :)
  7. laurethiel1138

    laurethiel1138 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Feb 6, 2003
    Oh! I love this little diptych! It never ceases to amaze me, how fully integrated Tolkien's world is. If you take up a thread, you never know where it might lead you, and you can expect to jump from the Fourth Age to the First Age in the blink of an eye...

    Yay for inquisitive Hobbits who look at the world in wide-eyed wonder, and who are unafraid to call a spade by its name! And a special mention for Kili and Fili, who, with the unvarnished enthusiasm of youth, have the sense to look beyond prejudice. And frankly, seeing how Elves and Dwarves went about each other, and, more specifically, how Thorin and Thranduil kept at it, I have the strongest urge to bash their heads together until they see reason. So frustrating!

    As for the bit about Thorin, Frerin and Dis making mischief in Dale... well, just you wait until you read one of the sentences I wrote for the latest batch. It's uncanny, I say, very uncanny indeed.

    Lauré :)
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  8. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Nyota's Heart: Thank-you! Bilbo is a brave little soul indeed - and just what Thorin needs in a friend, whether he likes it or not. :p [:D]

    laurethiel1138: Oh! I love this little diptych! It never ceases to amaze me, how fully integrated Tolkien's world is. If you take up a thread, you never know where it might lead you, and you can expect to jump from the Fourth Age to the First Age in the blink of an eye...

    It is a most beautifully crafted web, that's for sure. It is a pleasure picking those strands apart and following where they lead. [face_love]

    Yay for inquisitive Hobbits who look at the world in wide-eyed wonder, and who are unafraid to call a spade by its name! And a special mention for Kili and Fili, who, with the unvarnished enthusiasm of youth, have the sense to look beyond prejudice. And frankly, seeing how Elves and Dwarves went about each other, and, more specifically, how Thorin and Thranduil kept at it, I have the strongest urge to bash their heads together until they see reason. So frustrating!

    Oi vey, Thorin and Thranduil! :oops: They are so very alike, which is where I believe most of their friction comes from. I agree with you about the head bashing. Maybe it would of knocked a bit of sense loose. Maybe. :p Especially when I love both characters so very dearly. [face_love]

    I had to add the bit about Kili and Fili - it seems as if this last generation is much more openminded, and willing to look past the ills of their elders. Especially Kili. ;)

    And Bilbo is just . . . Bilbo. [face_love]

    As for the bit about Thorin, Frerin and Dis making mischief in Dale... well, just you wait until you read one of the sentences I wrote for the latest batch. It's uncanny, I say, very uncanny indeed.

    That, I cannot wait for! I look forward to seeing more of your offerings soon. [face_batting]


    Author's Notes: I have nothing wordy to say before this set - I believe the characters here are quite familiar now. So, enjoy. [face_love][:D]

    “so sweetly pressed”

    CXXI. Hidden

    Years ago, he had been shown a vision from Ulmo, of high white walls and a valley unseen from the outside world. While his motives in building Gondolin were at first imposed by the wisdom of the Valar, his reasons had been more personal than even that. For he had not even reached the shores of Endórë before the land took much from him, before the land took all but for the child his daughter had been, wide eyed and stone jawed as they at last stood upon the land they had struggled for so long to reach.

    And yet, white walls and encircling mountains had not been enough to protect his daughter from every pain, Turgon now saw. For, no matter how well hidden, love had found her, and now . . .

    “He has asked for my hand,” Idril said softly, gently. They stood upon the uppermost balcony in the King's tower. The wind from the mountains was still warm with the last days of summer, but there was a chill underneath, promising the winter to come. “He wants to marry me, Atar, and I . . .”

    This, Turgon knew. Tuor had come to him not even days earlier to ask the wish of his heart, and Turgon had been silent for a long, long time before replying. He had denied nothing to Tuor thus far, and who was he to start with his daughter's hand? If she loves you, if she deems that love strong enough to endure all that would befall you, then yes . . . not even this would I hold from Huor's son, the greatest gift I have within me to give.

    His daughter.

    His Itarillë . . .

    Now Idril was silent and pensive before him. Her clear eyes looked beyond the mountains as the wind played with the long tresses of her hair, and yet, that was the only movement about her. She was impossibly still before him – immortal to the marrow of her bones, and Tuor . . .

    Tuor would die, he knew. Tuor would join in the ever-sleep of his forefathers, and Idril would live. Live on and on as his body returned to the earth and his spirit to the One who had begotten him.

    “What do you See?” he asked gently, for Idril had the gift of the uncanny about her. She was able to spy out the Song of the world even before it unfolded, and he had learned through tragedy to trust the wisdom of her visions.

    Aredhel, do not go, for you shall not return as you are now, Idril had once pleaded. What can touch me on this earth, child? Aredhel had asked, her sharp eyes those of a hunting creature. And yet, the woman who returned to them so many years later had not been Aredhel the White but rather a tired and pale woman jumping at shadows. We should not cross the Ice, for Amil does not like to swim, Idril had been little more than a child with few words to shape her fears then, only clinging to her father's robes with white hands as they took those first steps and he felt her heart jump in her chest with a fear like none other. Do not worry, little one, for I am scared as well, Turgon had then soothed, for he had not understood.

    And Idril had first seen Tuor Ulmo's-voice, and whispered, Atar, he shall be the death of me.

    “I see starlight, of all things,” she answered after a pause, “I see a sea of heaven and a ship that navigates the stars. I see a great white bird on the ocean waves . . . and time . . . so much of it. I see Tuor with his white brow creased by age and his eyes heavy with mortality, and yet when he kisses the back of my hand I still feel my heart soar with love for him. I do not . . . I wish . . .”

    For impossible things, Turgon understood. He remembered clawing at the Ice, and pleading . . .

    His own heart was troubled in his chest. He could not stop its restless turn. Finally, Idril turned her eyes to him. She had come near to a decision, he knew. She knew her heart, she only needed that last push to accept its beat. To live with its pulse.

    “If . . .” she started slowly, carefully. “If your time with mother was all that you were allotted . . . If you did not have the hope of someday seeing her again, if your time to love was all you would know for all of your days . . . Would it have been worth it? Would the pain you knew after make the joy before all but meaningless?”

    For Idril would be no Lúthien with her enchanted choice. She would watch Tuor grow old and die, and live out the vast Ages of the world alone, her soul still tied to his past where the Mortal-men went with their deaths. Her choice would be final, and yet, until the day of Tuor's end, his daughter would know joy. She would know love, soul deep and true.

    He thought of Elenwë then. He remembered the light in her eyes when they said their vows beneath the light of the Trees'. He remembered their joy as he watched her stomach quicken with life, as he felt his mind fill with the warmth of his wife and the first stirrings of his daughter's soul. He remembered Elenwë's hand in his own when there was no light to see by; no Tree nor sun nor moon. She had been strong then, so impossibly strong. We will go with you, she had vowed, determination flaring in her eyes like a memory of the light itself. He remembered being both awed at her courage and humbled at her resolve. He remembered feeling so very full with his love for her, so much so that there were times when he wondered how he did not burst from feeling so.

    And then . . . he remembered the Ice swallowing both his wife and child in one fell swoop. He remembered Elenwë's desperation to push their daughter into Glorfindel's hold, caring not of her own peril so long as Idril lived, so long as Idril breathed. He remembered the cold waters swallowing him as he followed, as he reached and reached and reached until Fingon finally pulled him back kicking and biting at his hold. It is useless, brother, Fingon had tried desperately to calm him. Brother, I am so sorry. So very sorry - little one, come away from there. Your fingers are bleeding – brother! He remembered tearing his fingers on the Ice as if he could dig through to the cold grave of water below. He remembered feeling Elenwë's last breath in his mind, and the cord that bound them snapping. At even the memory, a familiar ache settled in his chest, unhealed even these long centuries passed.

    He honestly considered his daughter's question, turning it over in his mind before giving her his answer. If his short time with Elenwë had been all that he was allowed throughout the Ages . . . if their bare century of marriage had been all that he was to ever know, even until the sundering of the world . . .

    Would it have been worth it?

    The answer was one he did not have to search for.

    He turned to Idril, and reached out to tenderly cup her face in his hands. His heart ached with the decision he knew she would make. Through all of these years, he had wanted to keep her hidden from the pains of the world, but the greatest of pains were born from the greatest of loves. He would not shield her from one to deny her the other. He would let her live, and live in full. Through all that entailed.

    “If I only had that one lifetime with your mother, it would have been worth it. No matter how fleeting our joy, I never would have traded it in when the pain came. The sorrow did not compare to the great love I knew before.”

    There were tears building in her eyes, he saw. Both grief for the memory of her mother, and grief for the pain she would someday know. But there was joy beneath the sorrow, Turgon saw. Joy and wonder and an eager anticipation for the life they would live until that time – and live they would in full.

    “I give you my blessing, and wish you every happiness,” he brushed his thumb over the curve of her cheek when a tear fell, and then there was no need for tears, for Idril was laughing - a bright and joyous sound that tugged at his heart. She threw her arms about his shoulders, and he embraced her, feeling his bond with her sing with her joy – with her wonder and amazement for the new love she could feel flourishing within her.

    “I thank-you, Atar,” Idril whispered into his chest. Her tears whetted the front of his tunic, but he knew them to be shaped in joy. “I love you.”

    “And I you, Itarillë. So very dearly.” He kissed the crown of her head before releasing her. She gave him one last smile, beautiful in its brilliance before she turned from him, no doubt to tell her beloved of her decision. Turgon watched her leave with a weight on his chest, an ache in his lungs - joy and pride and sorrow all at war within the depths of his spirit.

    After her steps faded away, he turned back to the open air, looking past the mountains to the ocean and the West even further beyond. The wind picked up around him as he did so, teasing the long ends of his night-dark hair and the ornate folds of his robes. He turned into the caress, feeling . . . there . . .

    Our daughter has a strong heart. She has your spirit, your capacity to love in dark places, he whispered to that empty place in his soul where once his wife been, imagining that somewhere, deep within Mandos' halls, she could hear him. That she could hear him and know.

    The wind picked up again, and somehow, he knew that she had heard. Elenwë understood, and as he had done so many times before, he picked up on her strength and made it his own. He felt his spirit fill with her light, full as it had not been in so very long. And then the touch of her warmth was gone, fading away as a memory.

    He inclined his head as the strange wind returned to the mountains, uttering a silent prayer to Námo in thanks for his gift, as extraordinary as it was. And then, he turned away. He had a wedding to aid in planning now, and there was much to be done.

    Handy Dandy Tolkien Terms:

    Endórë: Middle-earth, in Quenya
    Atar and Amil: 'Father' and 'Mother' in Quenya.

    ~MJ @};-
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Stunning and so very touching. Turgon and Idril are wise in their choices and courage is borne of their self-knowledge and pursuing their heart's dreams. @};- Can you just imagine how splendiferous it must have been for Turgon and Elenwe to forge marriage bonds in the light of Laurelin and Telperion? :cool: That is one memory worth a thousand. :D
  10. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Nyota's Heart: Exactly! [face_love] Love is a blessing no matter how long it lasts - and with the belief that Tuor was given immortality in Valinor, that time certainly stretched on longer than they first would have thought! [face_laugh]. And now I need to write Turgon/Elenwë fluff in Aman. It's going to happen. :p [face_love]

    As always, thank-you for reading, and taking the time to leave your thoughts! [:D]

    Author's Notes: What can I say? My muse is on a role. :p Once again, I have nothing wordy to say here - we are dealing with familiar faces. Enjoy. :)

    "as stars are startled by the dawn”

    CXXII. Claim

    Eärendil's rooms smelled of salt and the sea.

    There was never a night when the windows were covered. Instead, the long white drapes billowed, dancing with the breeze that came in from the ocean. The sea had a heartbeat, Eärendil was fond of saying, and Elwing believed him. She could feel the tide as it breathed, as it echoed in her chest, matching the pulse of the jewel she wore beneath her nightgown beat for beat. In that moment, it's rhythm was too quick, crashing and retreating like the waves over the breaking rocks beyond. It was a cadence that only lulled when she slipped into the blue sheets beside him, already warm from the late hour of the night. At this point, his bed was more familiar than her own, and her own rooms no longer afforded her any comfort.

    Elwing had never liked sleeping alone. While her family was still alive, she rarely had to. Eärendil never had siblings; he never had his bed invaded by wide eyes struck open by nightmares, not like she. At first it had struck him as odd, this arrangement between them, but she was used to the unconventional in her life, and he accepted her presence with minimal fussing after the third time she had sought him out as such. For the fact remained that once she had fallen asleep with him after talking late into the night, and now, she felt ill at ease in her own bed. In her own skin. She could not sleep otherwise.

    She held her breath as she made herself comfortable, doing her best not to disturb him, but it was no use.

    “Your toes are cold,” Eärendil muttered. “And sandy.”

    Elwing carefully maneuvered her feet away from him. The movement disturbed the weight on the bed, and Eärendil sighed into his pillow, half awake.

    “I thought that you liked the sand,” she returned on a whisper, giving her half challenge into the dark. Eärendil raised his head, allowing her a glimpse of a raised blonde brow and a clouded blue gaze.

    “Sand or no sand,” he said, his voice deep from sleep, “one of these nights, the lord and lady will find you missing, and Celeborn shall then use me for target practice with the bow upon the morn.” His words complained, but he was not as disgruntled as he pretended. His mouth was fighting not to make a smile. It never was a very long battle, she knew.

    Elwing rolled her shoulders. Her right elbow knocked against his own. “Galadriel knows where I go every night, and what the lady knows, the lord also does.”

    At that, Eärendil opened his eyes fully. He spoke a curse of Men into his pillow, learned from Tuor when Idril pretended not to hear. Elwing raised a brow, letting him taste fear for but a moment before adding, “But she has said nothing. I think . . . I think she understands. Besides, it is a moonless night tonight, and neither were home to know I stirred.”

    Each older than the sun and moon, Celeborn had been born in a time when there was only star-light to see by, and each night of the new moon, the couple would depart and walk the star-lit seashore in remembrance. She remembered accompanying her mother Nimloth on one such journey, listening as she was told tales of her people's beginning, of a time when the land was untouched by light and true darkness both. Now, there was the sun and moon, but also the Dark One in the northern-most black; and Elwing had neither her mother's songs nor her father's stories, just a holy jewel tucked in close to her chest.

    She held her breath, and could feel the Silmaril pulse in time with the pause of her lungs. The jewel shimmered, warm against her skin. Sometimes, the gem seemed to have a heartbeat of its own. It burned as if aware of the world around it, and Elwing would touch the jewel only through the silk of her scarves lest it burn her skin. The Silmaril murmured at times, a low and rich voice speaking in the High Tongue . . . ever seeking . . . ever yearning . . .

    Elwing closed her eyes, and wished that the voice would go away and let her be. She did not . . . she could not . . .

    “What was it tonight?” Eärendil finally asked. She had shared her dreams with him during the earliest days of their friendship, when they had been children wide eyed in the sand as the Havens of Sirion were built around them; a balm on the wound of destroyed Gondolin and Doriath both. She had felt drawn to the boy with the sea in his eyes, he who had seen his home burn as she had seen hers burn. Even now she could feel the memories waiting behind her closed eyes turn to blotches of light and dark, harmless in shape. When he was near, they let her be enough for her to finally find peace in sleep.

    She breathed in deep, and tasted salt in her mouth.

    You make the ghosts quiet, she had told him. And it was true. The Silmaril quieted when he was near, letting her think, letting her remember in peace rather than in pain. She sighed and burrowed in deeper to his pillows.

    “The same,” she gave her answer. “The same as always.”

    Blood on the snow. The great trees of the forest underlit with flame. The Silmaril hidden away and yearning. The Silmaril hidden away and pleading; pleading even as Doriath burned, and her kin with it. She remembered Nimloth's silver brow turning as she pushed her daughter down the secret passes. She remembered Dior as he drew Aranrúth from its scabbard, for not only did Doriath pay in blood that day, with three of Fëanor's sons claimed by Mandos for their Oath.

    “The nightmares will fade over time,” Eärendil's voice was gentle in reply. Even though he knew loss the same as she, already he remembered with fondness over pain. She did not know how he managed it, and a part of her was jealous for his easy way with his grief. His easy acceptance for the events that had shaped his life.

    Her hands made fists in the sheets. She swallowed, and found that her throat was as a stone.

    “I remember too,” Eärendil sat up, propping his head up on his hand and leaning his weight on his elbow. He had a growth spurt that spring, and was now taller than her. His face was turning sharp in places, chiseled bones now peeking through a child's flesh. “I remember that Ecthelion would make me whistles, and Glorfindel would play very poorly on them – both to raise Ecthelion's ire as much it was to make me laugh. I remember Eglamoth with his brightly colored armor and his way with stories. I . . . I remember my grandfather. He was very strong, very wise, and his eyes were like stars - like the eyes of your Lady. For he too knew the light of Aman, and we could see the memory of the Trees' reflected in his gaze.”

    Too did Eärendil remember the demon of flame on the Cristhorn. He remembered Glorfindel blazing on brighter than even the Balrog himself, but he did not speak of that. He did not speak of Maeglin as he fell, of Tuor as he helped Idril find her feet on the snow covered passes in the steep mountain ways.

    “I remember the first time I saw the sea,” Eärendil said in a voice that dipped into awe, a voice that took on a note of reverence. “And while I mourned Gondolin, I knew a kindling within me for the waves that bordered my new home. I knew I had found a place where I could belong.

    “And then, when the Doriathrim joined us . . . I remember seeing you at your Lord's side, and wondering if you were quite real. You shone with such a light then . . . I thought you were the light, like the sun when it glittered off of the waves . . . I remember staring, thinking that you had to be one of the Ainur from my mother's stories for the way that you glowed.

    “ . . . but you were just a child. There were no other children in Gondolin when I was born, and my mother had to explain to me that you were a little girl, a youth the same as me. I remembered being overjoyed at the possibility of knowing a new friend where I had lost so many.”

    Elwing closed her eyes at his words, feeling them burn behind her closed lids. A light he had seen that day . . . not her own, but the jewel she had worn outside of her cloak. Sometimes, she did not quite know where she ended and the Silmaril begun. She did not know which was flesh and which was the hard facets of the jewel's casing. She did not know which was the light of her fëa, and which was the radiance of the jewel . . . incandescent . . . haunting . . .


    “It was not I which gave off that light,” she found the words passing from her lips before she could think to draw them back. She squeezed her eyes shut before slowly opening them, one at a time. At the curious look on Eärendil's face, she sat up. She took a deep breath, running a hand through the strands of her hair that had escaped the long plait of her braid.

    “What do you mean?” Eärendil asked. His voice was patient, content as he was to wait for her to say what she needed to say. Sometimes, she found speech difficult, as if she moved at a different pace from those around her. She listened for a different voice; she answered with a different set of sounds.

    She exhaled. She felt her lungs tighten with the loss of her held breath.

    “It was this,” Elwing said, reaching beneath her braid to undo the clasp of the chain she wore the Silmaril on. She tugged, and pulled the jewel up from underneath her sleeping shift. Even hidden on her body, she kept the gem wrapped with linen to dampen the brilliance of its rays. As Eärendil watched, she unwrapped the jewel, holding it as she would a babe of flesh - something tender to protect, something precious to behold . . .

    It was the first time she had shown another the jewel since Doriath. Even to show Eärendil, who was her dearest friend and truest companion, she felt something inside of her balk. She felt that something turn as a she-wolf, baring her fangs to any who would approach her den. The Silmaril was hers, that something hissed; hers to behold and hers to protect, so much so that the eyes of any other were like a black mark upon a white canvas.

    But she told the voice to hush, and slowly pulled the folds of linen away. She felt wearied after the inner struggle, but oddly triumphant. For her will had dominated, and not the will of the jewel in her hands.

    She did not let herself think of what would happen on the day when she would prove to be weaker than the voice in her mind. She did not let herself think of that – not when Eärendil's eyes were widening, and the dark room was filling with light . . . such a light . . . bright enough to block out even the stars from beyond. The light was more beautiful than anything the sun and moon could offer, a memory of the Trees' themselves, forever waxing and waning in differing amounts silver and gold, never allowing for true darkness to exist beneath the brilliance of their rays.

    “The Silmaril,” Eärendil breathed, looking down at the treasure in her hands. “The bride-price of Lúthien; Morgoth's delight and Doriath's bane. The child of Fëanor's soul and great price of his terrible Oath.”

    “It came to my father's care after Beren and Lúthien fell in death,” Elwing said. She felt something heavy gather in her throat as she told him so. “It was all he had left of her, and even though my mother pleaded and all in the court advised, Dior would not give it up when the Fëanorians came to claim what was their own. It was this you saw that day on the shore. This . . . and not I.”

    Eärendil reached out a hand as if to touch the gem, before thinking better of it. He slowly pulled his fingers back, looking at her as if seeing her for the first time. The Silmaril's light painted his face in shades of incandescent light, painfully beautiful to behold. She looked, and felt an odd fluttering in her heart for how he appeared to her in that moment. She had the oddest urge to lean over and trace the line of his jaw with her fingers. She looked, and wanted to taste the pulse that flickered beneath the skin of his neck.

    She blinked at those new thoughts, uncomfortable for their shape in her mind. At her thinking so, the Silmaril seemed to shimmer in her hold. The voice within whispered, laughing . . .

    The Silmaril spoke as she imagined Fëanor must have sounded, all of those years ago. The Spirit of Fire, with his voice like a dancing flame, as warm and painfully beautiful as the belly of a star. It promised and cursed both, and yet Elwing could not look away when it shined with its holy light.

    “I do not know,” Eärendil said slowly, his voice thoughtful in reply to her words. “It is true, the Silmaril is a rather pretty trinket.”

    The gem pulsed in her hands, as if offended.

    “But here, I see . . .” gently, he moved her hand so that it covered the jewel, dimming its glow. With his other hand he tilted her chin up so that he could look in her eyes - her silver-grey eyes, Lúthien's gift to her blood, shining with the glory of the twilight. “I see true beauty, true light. It was you I saw that day on the beach. The gem in your hands only enhanced what was already there.”

    He folded the linen wrappings so that he could pick the Silmaril up and put it on the bedside stand, forgotten for the night. She felt her heart leap in her chest for the jewel being so far from her – for it had not parted from her hold since the night Nimloth had pressed it into her hands and told her to run. She wanted to protest, to take it back, but Eärendil was already lying down and motioning for her to do the same.

    She did so stiffly, looking over his shoulder to the Silmaril beyond. She wanted . . .

    “Sleep, Elwing,” Eärendil bid. “It will still be there in the morning. For now, it shall have no further claim on you, or your dreams. Not tonight.”

    Elwing did as he said, her every moment stiff and unwilling. After a moment, she forced her heart to calm, admitting that she felt lighter with the jewel away from her chest. She felt buoyant, as if she were floating in calm waters. As if she had wings . . .

    She burrowed in closer to Eärendil as her pulse slowed, as her breathing evened. Beautiful, he had called her. Her own light, he had seen . . . She thought of how the new lines of his face flickered underneath the Silmaril's light. Great the beauty of the gem had been, and yet, there was a beauty already there . . . Drowsy, in that place between sleep and awake, Elwing thought that she understood what Eärendil had tried to say. And, for that moment, she knew peace.

    That night she slept, and she slept without dreams.

  11. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh! Oh! Stunning. Beautiful and touching. You can feel their friendship on the brink of something more ... :) The mutual comfort they give each other is indispensable and precious.


    The Silmaril ... I can see it with your words, feel its pulsing gorgeousness in my hands. =D= =D=

    ^:)^ !!!!!

  12. laurethiel1138

    laurethiel1138 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Feb 6, 2003
    Two wonderful lessons, in two tender vignettes...

    The first, that happiness is fleeting, and that we must needs take it when it passes us, for we never know when it might be snatched away. The second, that beauty shines with its own inner light, and no gem or jewel, so glorious might it be, can take from its sheer radiance. If only Elu Thingol had understood the former, and Feanor the latter, there would have been much less heartache in Arda. But then again, how would we mere mortals have learned from, and empathised with their tales, if they had not failed so spectacularly... That is the conundrum, is is not? That we crave smooth sailings in our daily lives, yet yearn for the thrill of the storm in our mind's eye...

    Lauré :)
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    laurethiel1138 -- so profound and insightful. @};- @};- I'm not sure if storms and travails are the best teachers :p - they do seem the most frequent, however. It is the fortunate and wise person who learns from other people's choices and then decides which road/path they will take or not. :D Frodo and Galadriel were ring-holders but were never enslaved. [face_thinking] Some who held the Silmarils were trustees but never turned. :)
    laurethiel1138 likes this.
  14. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Have I ever told you two how awesome you are? Because really, you are the best. I just had to take a moment to thank you both for your continued readership and support. [:D]

    Nyota's Heart: I am glad you liked this early glimpse into their relationship! I'm thrilled too that the Silmaril came across so vividly described. They are like their own character, are they not? [face_laugh][face_hypnotized] And then:

    I'm not sure if storms and travails are the best teachers :p - they do seem the most frequent, however. It is the fortunate and wise person who learns from other people's choices and then decides which road/path they will take or not. :D Frodo and Galadriel were ring-holders but were never enslaved. [face_thinking] Some who held the Silmarils were trustees but never turned. :)

    This. =D=

    I think that this is a central theme to Tolkien's work as a whole, and so beautifully said. [face_love][:D]

    laurethiel1138: It is beautiful when the reader makes the writer think and take pause! [:D]

    The second, that beauty shines with its own inner light, and no gem or jewel, so glorious might it be, can take from its sheer radiance. If only Elu Thingol had understood the former, and Feanor the latter, there would have been much less heartache in Arda.

    Truer words were never spoken. =D=

    But then again, how would we mere mortals have learned from, and empathised with their tales, if they had not failed so spectacularly... That is the conundrum, is is not? That we crave smooth sailings in our daily lives, yet yearn for the thrill of the storm in our mind's eye...

    And this again was too true. There was so much learned through tragedy in these tales, but that is half of what gives their story so much weight. =D= As always, thank-you for reading, and taking the time to leave your thoughts! :)


    Author's Notes: Once again, I have no notes for this one. The characters are familiar to us all. [face_love] The prompts here are from a few New Years prompts that I diverted from the main list to do. I wanted to have them up on the First, but, alas, life did not agree. :p I have a few more 'new beginning' prompts that will be up soon, and then we will be back on course. :)

    "had we but world enough, and time"

    CXXIII. Meet

    If, years ago, someone would have told her that her entire world would come to revolve around one man, and the babe he held in his arms, she would have thought them to be quite mad. For she had set upon these lands with her desires clear in mind; lands. freedom. independence. In the script of her future, Galadriel had not inked in a place for the idea of a husband. The idea of a daughter.

    But love had found her when she had sought it not, and she had given in to its call. If her desires had since turned to a desire to serve, to be a pillar beneath shadow, other considerations had still not come into her mind. Even after centuries of marriage, she had not thought overly much about children of her own. After all, she had been there in those early days when Celeborn took over Nimloth's guardianship upon his brother's death. She had raised Nimloth's daughter Elwing from a coltish girl-child to a woman overflowing with white light after the destruction of Doriath. She had even taken Elrond as her pupil until the day she left for Eregion those scarce years before - watching his sharp mind blossom and grow underneath the direction of her tutelage. In those young souls she had felt the needs of the mother in her to be quite met. It had been Celeborn who wanted a child of their own, and he had wanted so for many years. For centuries he had kept his silence out of her wish to wait for Morgoth's defeat, and after, she finally agreed - honoring the long years of their union, he knew as well as she, rather than bowing to any true desire of her own.

    And now . . . now she wondered how she could have been so sure of her own heart, so sure of her own wants and needs. How could she not have known that she was empty, when she now was so full?

    She was still weary from the hardships of labor, for that too she had foolishly thought a hardship for other woman, and not for her . . . that was, until the pangs started. Her eyes were bleary and her body ached, but her heart turned in her chest when she awakened to find Celeborn holding their daughter in the rocker by her bedside, quieting the babe so that she could sleep. There was something beautiful about them, Galadriel thought – both were so very silver and blue, like starlight on the water, and she knew a peace unlike any other at seeing them together. Her husband . . . her daughter. She looked upon them both, and thought only that there had never been such a beauty graced to her eyes before – her eyes, which had beheld the Silmarils in their spring, who had known the glory of the Two Trees themselves, who had seen the Sun and Moon rise for the first . . . All paled. None could compare.

    Somewhere in the Halls, she was sure that Fëanáro was laughing for the maternal shape of her thoughts. She knew that her father would have looked softly upon her revelation, something knowing in his eyes as she understood something he had long since tried to tell her. Finrod would have grinned that cheeky grin that always provoked her, and told her that he was glad to see her so content. Where was the fierce Artanis with her goals and her visions and her hunger? This he would ask and tease, and she . . .she would have no answer, knowing only that she was Galadriel the mother and Galadriel the wife, and she could imagine no greater roll for her than that. It was the only part she wished to play now, the only crown she wished to wear.

    Realizing that she was awake, Celeborn carefully moved to join her on the bed, sitting next to her atop the blankets so that she could see the tiny bundle in his arms. There was such a look in his eyes then, peace and contentment and joy – so much so that she was grateful for him recognizing the desires of his heart before she completely knew her own.

    But then . . . often had it been so between them.

    “Wise I once named you,” she said when she realized that her husband's smile was edged in triumph – he having heard her every thought as they poured into their bond. “Perhaps I was not completely wrong when saying so.”

    “I have my moments, at the very least,” Celeborn's eyes twinkled as he passed the baby to her, and Galadriel had no clever reply then - for she was holding her daughter for the first time since the weary embrace she had taken after her labor, and her mind had room for little else.

    When Celeborn drew away, she felt a stirring of irrational fear – she would harm her child, she thought. She would not hold her correctly, and then her daughter would cry. She was not made for this, at all, Galadriel feared . . . and yet, the baby settled in to the crook of her arms as if they were made to fit together as such. Instinctively, Celebrían turned in her arms, seeking the heat of her body, the comfort of her embrace, and Galadriel held her closer still, full with the love she felt then.

    Nearly reverent, she touched the silver fuzz atop her daughter's head. She traced the pointed tip of a tiny ear, memorizing every shape, every soft place and gentle hollow on her daughter's body, wanting to remember her like this always. She hummed as she did so, finding old words gathering on the back of her tongue, drawn from a memory nearly as old as she . . . of Eärwen's cradle songs from the sea and Arafinwë's lullabies in the High-tongue. Each memory was filled with warmth and security both, even these long years passed.

    Galadriel hummed, feeling the tie on her soul that bound her to her daughter's fëa as she did so. Already the pathway was familiar, and she walked it. She felt where Celebrían unconsciously committed the songs to memory. Someday, when she looked for the words to hum to her own child, they would come to her as instinctively as breathing. Galadriel lingered at her bond with her daughter, filling it with as much love and warmth as she could manage until the baby in her arms was all but aglow with the light consuming her fëa.

    As she did so, she could feel Celeborn as he joined his consciousness to hers, adding a love and warmth of his own. For that moment, their small family was but one spirit, no ending and no beginning between them. Galadriel felt herself glow as the center of a star as their light mingled and burned on.

    When she blinked, her own person once again, she still felt impossibly attuned to her husband and daughter both, no longer existing for just herself then, but for them.

    Her daughter slept after that, her little body tired after their touching of souls. But her sleep was peaceful, full of golden dreams. Galadriel still rocked her, her lullaby fading to whispers on her lips.

    When she looked up, Celeborn was gazing at her as if realizing his love for her all over again. She felt peace fill her as he wrapped an arm about her shoulders, pulling her close to lean against his chest. She rested in the circle of his arms, needing the continued touch of bodies after such a mingling of souls.

    “That song,” he said into the silence that stretched between them. “Was it from Aman?”

    “Yes,” she answered on a soft voice. “I did not realize that I remembered it until the words came to me.” When she spoke, her voice was hushed with memory. “I was the youngest of all of my siblings, and younger still amongst many more cousins. I never held children close and reveled in their growing years. Rather, I was always the one struggling to catch up, it seemed.”

    And now, they were all gone. All of them but for Maglor, lost somewhere by the sea. . . . Celebrimbor, tinkering in the night beyond . . . Gil-galad on his throne, and Elrond faithful by his side. All of her once spiraling family had returned to Aman through death or the grace of the Valar – or had simply never left at all. They were gone, and she alone remained upon a darkened land for reasons of love and pride. It was not often that she second thought her decision to remain in Endórë, but in that moment, she did wish . . .

    She wished that her father could have held his granddaughter when Celebrían was still small enough to be held. She wished that her mother could have been there to advise her though the days of her pregnancy. She had grasped for Eärwen's hand during her labor as she once would have found her parent's bed after her nightmares, but Eärwen was a sea away, and Galadriel could only grit her teeth and bear through her pain. She wished that Finrod was there to make his silly faces, eager to move her daughter to giggles. She wished to hear Aegnor and Angrod beyond her bedside, each bickering over who would show Celebrían the bow, and who would hold her first upon her pony. Then Orodreth would have dryly cut in and pointed out that that honor would most likely belong to the girl's father. Celeborn would have been gracious, she imagined, and say that while he wished to show Celebrían the bow, they could teach her how to throw their weighed Noldorin daggers, and that would start the debate all over again . . .

    Galadriel wished for a hundred moments she would never have, even as she thought of the thousands of moments that were still to come in their life together. Someday . . . someday she would meet her family again, and they would love her daughter as if they had known her since her birth. Such was the way of kindred, no matter their sundering. This Galadriel knew, and this Galadriel forced herself to remember, the hazy hope of someday a balm against the loss in her thoughts.

    She looked to the side, and wondered if Celeborn was thinking the same of his family. He had lost as much as she, for few from Doriath as it was still walked the woods of Middle-earth now. And yet . . .

    We will have to be family enough for each other, then, she felt Celeborn's thoughts as they caressed her mind. He laced his fingers through hers, even when she still held their daughter tight. We shall hold on to this family, and watch as it grows.

    She settled back against him, and felt as Celebrían burrowed in closer, following her as she did so. Celeborn the Wise, she infused her thoughts with her fondness, their bond with her love. Constantly do you prove it so to me.

    As I was named, he returned wryly, so may I continue to be.

    She raised a brow, but could not hold on to even a playful ire. Instead, she found a smile touching her mouth. She was silent in reply to his words, content as she was then to hold her family, and keep them as close as she could.

    CXXIV. Greet

    The quays of Alqualondë were filled to the brimming with those awaiting the return of the grey ship from Middle-earth. Eärendil stood in a sea of eager faces, lost amongst the anxious and the joyous both as he kept a weary eye on the horizon, where a familiar stain of silver sails had just moments ago appeared against the twilit sky.

    For Galadriel's return, her family was waiting with baited breath. Arafinwë was fussing with the hem of his robes as if he were still a child unused to ceremonial garb, and not a king wearing a crown that had been his for thousands of years. Eärwen swatted playfully at her husband's hands, but she too was keen for the return of her daughter, hungry as her eyes were upon the horizon. At their side stood each of their four sons, long returned from Mandos to life anew, and their demeanors all waxed and waned from the anxious to the delighted.

    Further back waited Turgon and Elenwë his wife – both also long arisen from the Halls, standing by Idril and the immortal Tuor, who waited to greet the last remaining of their family from Endórë. They stood to observe, for the most part, knowing as they knew that they had centuries to come to know the family that had been sundered from them across the sea.

    To Arafinwë's left was Melian herself, the once Queen of Doriath having taken on a body bursting with celestial light for the occasion, she a calm presence in the sea of curious whispers and eager eyes. She stood, awaiting both the White Maia to whom she was dear, and the woman who had once been her most cherished student – a daughter of her heart as Lúthien had been of her flesh. And then, she awaited to greet the great-grandson of her mortal daughter . . . At her side, Elu Thingol himself stood, and he sought only one on the ship – looking for his daughter's eyes in a long awaited face.

    There would be many greetings, he knew, many indeed . . . and at that thought, Eärendil could not keep his hands from shaking. He tugged on the long ends of his braids, making sure that the intricate plaits were still in place. He made sure that the white of his robes was without wrinkles, that the circlet upon his head was not crooked. He felt as a green sailor approaching the sea for the first time, desperately praying for a journey free of storms. He had not felt this nauseous since he was first learning how to quell the sea-sickness within him, and now . . .

    “Breathe, dear heart,” came the amused voice from beside him. “You shall be no good to any if you were to fall faint from lack of air.”

    “You can be so calm - you had six years with them,” Eärendil could not help but complain, his words an anxious outlet for his restless energy. “I did not even have that . . . only stolen visits whenever we would put back to port to resupply. What . . . seven times, was that? Eight?”

    “Five,” Elwing supplied for him, and there was a shadow in her eyes when she said so. She did not look at the sea with eager anticipation, but rather with trepidation. For Eärendil had been far from home out of necessity, for the good of all peoples, where she, by choice had . . .

    He let the thought rest in his mind, turning it aside with the ease of too many sleepless nights alone amongst the stars. There would be many years to seek and earn forgiveness, Eärendil thought. They had paid a steep price for their decisions - and looked to pay even more still if their son understandably decided that he wished to have little to do with them. And yet, he could not help but hope . . .

    Eärendil stilled his thoughts, and forced himself to breathe.

    When he was starting to think the better of even coming – for surely this was a meeting best done in private, away from the eyes of others – Círdan's grey ship was already being pulled into dock by the Telerin mariners.

    When he saw figures upon the boat, Eärendil had to force himself to stay back in the crowd. After so many years sailing above Ennor at night, he knew his son's face as well as his own. Elwing, however, did not have his stolen glimpses, and her look was greedy – as greedy as it once would have been upon the facets of her Silmaril. Her eyes followed Elrond as he made his way down the gangplank and then on to the dock at Galadriel's side. He moved slowly, Eärendil thought, worry rising in his throat at the observation. Much too slowly, and even across a distance he could feel the lines of blue that bisected his fëa – shattered lines from the Ring he had worn for so long, and at great price.

    Yet, their view of their son was soon distorted by a streak of silver and white – Celebrían, who one moment had been waiting patient and poised by her grandparents' side, and then was all but throwing herself into her husband's arms, laughing like a child as Elrond picked her up and spun her about, grinning like a youth as he did so.

    Elwing's hand turned crushing in his own. He looked, and saw tears burn at her eyes, even though she fought to keep them from their fall.

    Eärendil watched as Olórin came with the two Hobbits next, one young and one old, but both with burdened eyes that lightened with their first steps upon the undying soil. They both smiled at the sight of the normally composed and grave Elf-lord acting as a love struck youth, and their smiles only grew when they saw how Galadriel was tugged this way and that as her family embraced her with tears and held her close with words of missing and regret for the manner of their parting. Always, the Golden Lady had been a pillar, and now, to see the mighty woman all but weeping as she turned to a child before those even more ancient than she was moving.

    After the near tangible joy of the reunion lost its desperate edge, the crowd parted and bowed for the arrival of Manwë and Varda themselves as they took on bodies of flesh in order to welcome Olórin back into their fold. The Hobbits were all wide eyes and reverent awe for the majesty of the Valar, for the revealed glory of Gandalf their friend - who was transformed into a spirit of white light before their eyes. The wrinkled and weathered mask of Gandalf fell away to reveal a creature of holy flame and unsurpassed beauty – Olórin the Maia he was again, bowing before his lord and lady and receiving the warm thanks that were his due and humble delight.

    All of this, Eärendil watched with held breath and burning eyes, waiting as he was for, when . . .

    He did not know if his son was looking for him in the crowd, but he liked to think so as Elrond and Celebrían turned towards where he stood with Elwing. The crowd dutifully parted, as if understanding as the couple approached them, walking arm and arm as if even a moment apart was a moment too much. Eärendil watched them together, and felt his heart turn tight for how much he had missed. As they approached, Celebrían caught his eye for a moment, and her smile turned soft – encouraging, Eärendil knew from the centuries he had of knowing his son's bride.

    Elrond looked unsure as he came to a stop an arm's reach away, as if internally debating whether or not he should bow or incline his head or offer his hand. How did one greet the son he had scarcely known, Eärendil wondered? Over six thousand years . . . how did one cross the bridge of so much lost time?

    “Ad – no, Eärendil . . .” Elrond greeted, the words stiff and halting from his mouth. “I . . . it is a pleasure to meet you.”

    Elrond finally decided on offering his hand, and Eärendil looked down, feeling a stabbing at his chest for the formality of the gesture before shaking the feeling away. Celebrían looked between the both of them, sadness touching her gaze before her brow steeled in determination. She stepped back, catching Eärendil's eye as she did so . . . and he . . . he did not think.

    He embraced his son for the first time since holding him as a small child. He felt as Elrond went ramrod straight in his arms, his every bone stiff and unyielding. At first Eärendil feared he had made a terrible mistake. He wanted to draw away, to step back in shame, but he was unsure of precisely how to do so.

    And then, he did not have to – for his son's fisted hands relaxed, rising instead to awkwardly hug him back. He felt as the body in his hold lost its cast of stone. Hesitantly, Elrond returned his embrace, and Eärendil closed his eyes, feeling each and every missing year as they settled in bone deep . . . Then he exhaled, forcing himself to think only of the years that laid ahead of them . . . the long years he would have to now make this right.

    “Adar,” he heard Elrond whisper, and at the one word, something inside of him rose as if flying.

    “My son,” he returned on a voice choked with feeling, and there they began.


    EDIT: The website was having fun eating the spacing between my words! I think I got them all, but if I missed any, I apologize. :oops:

    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Meet SQUGGLES! Oh that was beyond lovely. Lovely! Greet Perfect full-circleness. =D= =D= [:D] ^:)^
  16. laurethiel1138

    laurethiel1138 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Feb 6, 2003
    What a sweet duet of echoing moments!

    I could go on the typical cliché about how the mighty have fallen in Galadriel's case, but your snippet is much more than that, showing how simple contentment can hold the dark at bay, and how light can be found in the mundane. Bringing down Dol Guldur may be a way to fight, but another is also to bring up a child who will in turn be another's mother, and thus give a Man the courage and motivation he needed to go reclaim his kingdom...

    And my heart filled with gladness upon reading Elrond's arrival in Valinor. Though the idea of him as a lovestruck swain is a bit of a stretch, but I am sure you could make it work (an idea for an entry in Celebrian's diary, mayhap?). I was especially moved by the reminder that, even if he has lost a daughter (and possibly one or both of his sons), he has also gained a mother and a father, as well as a wife, who will help him shoulder his burdens for a change, so that, like Galadriel, he might learn to laugh again.

    Lauré :)
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  17. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Nyota's Heart: Why thank-you! I'm glad it all tied together nicely there. [face_love][:D]

    laurethiel1138: Once again, thank-you for the kind words! [:D]

    I could go on the typical cliché about how the mighty have fallen in Galadriel's case, but your snippet is much more than that, showing how simple contentment can hold the dark at bay, and how light can be found in the mundane. Bringing down Dol Guldur may be a way to fight, but another is also to bring up a child who will in turn be another's mother, and thus give a Man the courage and motivation he needed to go reclaim his kingdom...

    Precisely! Strength is found in many ways, and allowing yourself to love does not make you weak or soft - it just gives you all the more incentive to be stronger in other ways. Artanis was great in her own right, but Galadriel is a might. [face_love]

    And my heart filled with gladness upon reading Elrond's arrival in Valinor. Though the idea of him as a lovestruck swain is a bit of a stretch, but I am sure you could make it work (an idea for an entry in Celebrian's diary, mayhap?). I was especially moved by the reminder that, even if he has lost a daughter (and possibly one or both of his sons), he has also gained a mother and a father, as well as a wife, who will help him shoulder his burdens for a change, so that, like Galadriel, he might learn to laugh again.

    I thought the same thing when writing this. [face_laugh] I'm going to tackle love-struck Elrond in my Celebrían diary, and hopefully I will be able to keep him IC. I figured that everyone was young (ish ;)) and a bit giddy in love once, and Elves are no exception. :p But that was the beautiful thing about writing the second part as a whole - both Galadriel and Elrond left much behind in Middle-earth, but they gained much upon arriving too. Valinor is healing, in more ways than one. [face_love]


    Author's Notes: Alrighty, this is my second batch of New Years prompts. I only have a few more updates, and then I will have ran through all of the ficlets I had pre-written, and we will be back to more normally paced updates. But, for now . . .

    We have new characters.

    Findis: The firstborn child of Finwë and Indis. She wasn't mentioned in the published Silmarillion, but rather in the "The Shibboleth of Fëanor", which you can find in the "Peoples of Middle-earth". She was joined by another sister named Lalwendë, who was born between Fingolfin and Finarfin. :)

    And, as a refresher course:

    Finwë: The first King of the Noldor, who led his people to Aman after awakening in Middle-earth, and reigned there until his death at Melkor's hands, just before the destruction of the Two Trees.

    Míriel: Finwë's first wife. Fëanor's fire drained her soul after his birth, and she lost the desire to live. She faded away, and when offered the chance to return to life again, she refused, leaving her husband free to marry Indis, who was the sister of Ingwë, King of the Vanyar. Finwë was the only elf to ever remarry after the death of a spouse, and you can judge that decision as right or wrong and end up talking yourself in circles. Fëanor would have been between ten and twenty years old (seven and thirteen-ish by our standards) when his father remarried, and he resented his second family - even going as far to live apart from them when he was old enough to do so. Tragedy and heartbreak came from Finwë's decision, but also light and joy - which is true about life choices in general, and, in part, what these ficlets attempt to explore. :)

    Nolofinwë: Fingolfin
    Arafinwë: Finarfin

    Now, that said, enjoy. :)

    “for ashes, from ashes”

    CXXV. Anew

    Often, King Ingwë of the Vanyar would send his sister to be his eyes and ears in Tirion, granting the grace of the fair ones to the court of the Noldor, each offering wisdom and taking council in return as their peoples learned and grew together. Once, before they had walked the shores of hallowed Aman, Indis had been close in friendship with both the King of the Noldor and his Queen. Once, the three of them were only apart when they had to be, and now . . .

    Now, it was all so very different, Indis thought. For the white of Míriel's flame had fled bright Tirion, and even the undying fields of golden Valinor seemed to be that much dimmer in her wake. Dimmer still was Finwë himself; wilted as a strong tree from a storm.

    Upon seeing him as such, Indis felt her spirit ache for how much he had changed since she saw him last. Once his broad shoulders and easy strength had held his people together through the Great Journey. Now he looked like a worn and weary creature to her eyes. He looked faint around the edges. Wraith like, almost - not all as a firstborn of a race in the spring of their existence.

    It was not to have been like this in Aman, she thought. Shouldn't they have left all such black feeling behind in Endórë? Were these lands not hallowed lands? Lands of peace and plenty?

    If Aman had not brought her the peace she had hoped it would, she already knew the shape of her spirit's discontent. Since she could first remember, something had always been missing from her heart, and yet, she had thought that her years had taught her how to rise above the wishes and desires of her spirit. All too often, she had heard the story as it was told . . . of first looks and glances that knew. Her kind, for all of their uncountable years and forever found their bonds of souls within moments more often than not, and she . . . she knew from the first upon meeting Finwë Noldóran that she would love none other for as long as she would live.

    And yet, it was an empty attachment her fëa made, for he was bound to the woman who was a silver flame at his side. Just as she had awakened at Cuiviénen and knew that Ingwë was her brother, Finwë had awakened and known that Míriel had been made for him as his mate, and he had never questioned her place in his heart. After a time, Indis had grown to care for Míriel as dearly as she cared for Finwë, filling in the loss of a mate with the gain of a sister all but blood. She had thought to have triumphed over the needs of her spirit, finding friendship and the great affection of comrades. She had thought it possible to sustain herself solely on this.

    But now . . . now Míriel was gone, and a piece of Finwë was gone with her. Míriel was gone, and Indis . . . Indis was much the same, longing for things she could not have.

    The hour was late. In the sky above, only Telperion graced the land with her silver light. While there was never true darkness in Aman, there were hours of slumber when the land took its rest. All slept but for the King within his gilded halls, wandering the gardens as if his answers to his sleepless nights could be found within slumbering bloom and bubbling fountain.

    When Indis first saw him on the garden path, she had thought to turn away. And yet, there was something in her heart that instead drew her closer to him. She did not want to be alone that night, and neither did she want to leave him to his solitude, and so, the solution was simple.

    When he gestured, she sat down next to him on the lip of one of the more ornate fountains. The singing waters were a cold shade of silver in the Treelight, leaping and playing in gay refrain. The night hummed with its own music as it stretched.

    “You are burdened, my friend,” Indis said to Finwë's silence. In her words, there was an invitation for him to unburden his soul if he so wished. “Why are you still awake this eve?”

    A long moment passed, so long that she did not think he would answer her. And then . . . “It is too quiet in the night,” he said on a voice no more than a whisper. “It is a quiet that does not burden me in the light of day, when I have much to distract me. At yet . . . at night my rooms are too empty, and when I do find sleep, Fëanáro wakes me more often than not. He cannot feel me when I take my rest, and with a child's fear, he is terrified to think that I too will fade away in the night . . . He should not have to fear so. Not here . . . not in Aman as it was promised to us, and as a result I do not sleep most nights.”

    They were sitting very close, but still they did not touch. There was a careful space between each of their bodies, as if to come any closer would be to break some forbidden rule, to cross a line that only existed in each of their minds. Once was, Finwë had been easy with his affections. Hand in hand they would walk, arm in arm, even; with Míriel on one side and she on the other. A hand would touch her cheek fondly, and Míriel's laughter would greet her like a caress. Now, Finwë was careful not to touch her, and Míriel would never laugh again, and Indis . . .

    When she reached out to carefully take his hand in her own, he seemed as startled as she by the boldness of her actions. He looked down, as if captivated by the way her small fingers fit into his much larger hold. The pad of his thumb was callused from the long years of their flight from Endórë, but she knew no sweeter caress than when he traced the fine bones on the back of her hand, finding a pattern previously lost to her. Her heart leapt in her throat, in fear as much as fulfillment . . . and yet, the touch did not startle the night. It did not break the peace of the silver light bearing down on them.

    For a moment, she did not breathe.

    “And you?” Finwë asked. He stared down at her hand, swallowed within his own. “What keeps you awake this eve?”

    Indis found her throat thick when she swallowed. At first, she thought to keep her truths to herself, but found that she could not . . . not with Finwë and his eyes like the starlight on the water and his hand warm and tangible upon her own.

    “It is quiet in the night,” she answered his words back to him. “My rooms are too empty, and when I do find sleep . . . dreams awaken me more often than not. They are cruel things, teasing me with that which I cannot have.”

    For their people loved once and only once. Finwë's soul was still bound to his wife, even in death, even beyond the circles of the world . . . But Míriel had chosen death. She had chosen to abandon her husband . . . her fëa sucked dry by the inferno of her son, so much so that her hröa had no choice but to fade as well. And Indis . . .

    . . . Indis longed and Indis loved. Were they three some great flaw of their kind? she wondered. She, the grieving husband, and the wife who abandoned them all? Were they some mistake of creation to feel so . . . to yearn so? For it did not feel wrong; the contentment in her heart, the completion in her soul when he was near . . . it did not feel unnatural. It did not feel like sacrilege, like a dark and evil thing.

    Indis reflected, but found that she had no answers . . . not that night. Instead she held Finwë's hand in her own and leaned her head to rest against his shoulder, both taking in the comfort of the other and offering comfort in return. Together, they waited for Laurelin to greet the world with her light, and rose once more with the dawn.

    CXXVI. Birth

    At first, Findis had looked on the idea of another sibling with no small amount of trepidation.

    After all, she already had one brother, and one was quite enough to her mind. Half-sibling, Fëanáro would say with his lip curled up in a way that she had since learned was distaste. Distaste, like the way one would crinkle one's nose for mud upon their shoe. It did not trouble Findis much, not any more, at least. She could crinkle her nose just as well as he could, and she would not let her father's son look down on her without turning her chin up haughtily in reply.

    Noldorin stubbornness, her mother had called it. Vanyarin sensibilities, her father had returned, and there was not sadness upon his brow so much as a shadow when he spoke.

    Always, Findis would try to make each of her embraces that much tighter whenever Fëanáro turned away from their small family. As best she could, she tried to assure her parents that she was okay, that his coolness did not sting. And it was true . . . a part of her could feel the angry flame of her brother's spirit, and knew sorrow for it. She did not understand the looks her family received from others when they thought her father was not looking. She did not understood the whispers and the hushed rumblings of Míriel that the Noldor would offer like a reverent hymn . . . She did not understand, and she did not wish to - for this was her family, hers, and even if they were different, their home was still filled with laughter and love and light. It was still a home. Her home.

    . . . what could be unnatural about that?

    Findis understood in the simple way of children, and while she was strong enough to stand beneath the weight of Fëanáro's disregard, she did not . . . she did not think that she would be strong enough to do so with two brothers.

    As a result, she watched her mother's stomach grow round with an ever growing unease. She dutifully came when her mother called her close to feel the baby kick within her stomach. She even pressed her ear to her mother's belly once when she was sleeping, following the ever growing tug on her spirit that she would later describe as the first stirrings of hope.

    Her brother, Findis tried to reason the words out in her mind. Her brother; not half, but whole . . . Her brother, born not of a shadow of a woman and the warm heat of her father, but of her parents. Her parents both.

    And yet, even for all of her careful reasoning, Findis could not possibly understand what a brother truly meant until the day after his birth.

    The day before, the house had been filled with the sound of her mother's screams. The pain of birth was natural, Findis' nanny had assured her - the pain was life as it was born, and not something to be feared. While Findis had listened with a solemn understanding and a fervent desire to be brave, she was still scared for the tension in the air, for the fear in her father's eyes. For everyone knew how the trauma of birth had killed his first wife; Fëanáro's fire sucking up every last bit of Míriel's soul and leaving it dry, or so the whispers said.

    Findis knew the naked flame in her half-brother's eyes, and she believed the whispers of the maids. She had even told Fëanáro once, after he had been especially cruel. She had not understood how she had been the one sent to bed and scolded when Fëanáro had stormed out from the palace in a rage. Even as her mother dealt with her crossly, she had felt satisfaction bloom deep within her for being able to hurt him as he hurt her – for she had seen the way he had flinched, as if recoiling from a blow, when she threw the words at him. No matter how quickly he had tried to hide it, she had seen his pain, and she knew. Afterward, she had not understood why she was the one punished for the truth. After all, she was ready to be Fëanáro's sister as Indis was ready to be his friend – if not his mother. She did not understand why he would not accept his family as it was offered to him.

    And now she was terrified that her new brother would steal her mother's soul as well. Would Indis fade and leave her as Míriel had left her son? Would her brother's fire be as terrible as Fëanáro's as a result?

    Findis had asked her nanny the questions weighing on her mind, but the woman had no useful answer – just wide eyes that turned sad as she whispered about the Valar and their ways. Useless, Findis had thought before deciding to take matters into her own hands. Very carefully she knelt by her window, facing the direction of the mountain of the Valar. She shaped her prayers in her mind, pleading for Námo to hear her, pleading for Death to let both her mother and her brother be . . .

    . . . and then the screams had turned so very loud. Fervently, she had asked the Lord of Souls to take her fëa if need be, but not her family, anything but them . . . She had fallen asleep with her prayers on her lips, exhausted and heartsick, and only years later would she understand that dreamless sleep as Námo's kindness in answer to her pleas.

    The next morning, Findis was called to her parent's rooms. While she carefully looked at her mother for any sign of fading – and thankfully finding none - Indis asked her to sit, and then showed to her a bundle of white blankets and pruned red flesh. Dutifully, Findis had copied her mother's hold when her brother was given to her, carefully supporting his head and cradling his little body with her arms. She swallowing back the fear that said that she was holding him all wrong. She would hurt him, and the fear she felt for that thought was so sudden and strong that it nearly took her breath away.

    “Do not fear, little one. Infants are stronger than they look, and you will not hurt him,” Indis whispered, her voice lullaby-soft, and Findis had believed her.

    And so, Findis summoned her bravery, and held her little brother all by herself. She cradled his small body, surprised that something so tiny could already give off such a warmth. He was all purple skin and folds of wrinkled red flesh – not particularly pretty, Findis thought, not at all like her dolls. But there was something about his grey eyes when they flickered . . . something about the way his small hand batted at the air as if searching.

    Findis offered her finger to his questing grip, and there was such a strength in his tiny hand when the baby squeezed. His eyes found hers, and she thought that he had to have known who she was. She felt the first stirring of that bond between souls, flaring into existence with the touch of skin on skin, and all of a sudden, she could not understand how she ever had cause to fear. How could she have feared such a joy? Such a rightness settling into her spirit?

    “What is his name?” Findis asked, her voice soft with her awe.

    “Nolofinwë,” Indis answered gently. Great wisdom, Findis translated, and she nodded, accepting her mother's insight for what it was.

    “Nolofinwë,” she whispered. “My name is Findis . . . and I am your sister.”

    Sister. Not half, but whole. Already her heart ached with the idea. She held her brother for as long as she could that first time, refusing to give him up until her arms turned weary from the strain and the baby started to turn restless in his need for food.

    She did not leave her parent's rooms, even after giving her brother up. Instead she crawled into her father's lap as her mother took Nolofinwë to nurse, and Findis curled into the warmth her father gave off like a furnace as Finwë held her close and whispered how much he loved both she and her brother against the crown of her head.

    Her family, she thought drowsily, content in that moment as she was. Her family . . .and no matter what anyone else would say, that they would always be.

    CXXVII. First

    They ducked into the stables when the storm hit.

    There were never true storms in Aman, not like those that tore apart the land in her father's stories of Endórë across the sea. Overhead, the sky took on a cast of silver-grey, dimming the last rays of Laurelin's light as raindrops fell fat and steady on the world below. The land was full with life and growth in that moment, filling Nerdanel with the song of the heavens down to her very bones.

    At her side, Fëanáro did not appreciate the rain as she did. Moodily, he pushed his wet hair back from his eyes as he looked darkly on the sky above. The black of his ruined braids was the glossy shade of a raven's wing when wet, the molten silver of his eyes nearly black with his annoyance. She saw the hooked line of his mouth – normally a mark of victory when it was from her doing – and felt her own mouth turn upwards in reply. Her skin prickled as with static, like the sky before storm-light struck.

    “Do you not care for the rain?” she asked, a note of teasing sinking into her words – soothing the flame of his temper as one would put a shade about a lamp.

    He raised a brow, scowling in a way that reminded her of meeting him for the first on the road. He had been covered in mud, the wet earth obscuring the emblem of his house on his cloak and dimming the circlet at his brow. His horse had been limping from a tossed shoe, and as moody as his rider as they saw her coming on the lane. Imperiously, he had imposed upon her for her aid, commanding her arrogantly and blithely assuming her ready compliance with his orders. She had left him with a few choice words of her own, and galloped away in a righteous pique, kicking more mud on him as she rode off. When he showed at her father's forge as Mahtan's newest apprentice later that day, revealed as Finwë's son in all of his glory . . . well, she had not apologized, but time had done much to turn the words between them from scathing to teasing, at the very least. If anything, her hot words had him circling back time and time again, leaving her dizzy with their dance.

    “Not particularly,” Fëanáro grumbled in reply to her teasing. He reminded her of a barn cat for the way he was trying to wring out the end of his braids; his claws out and all but hissing.

    She let her own hair lie where it was, not caring that long strands escaped her braids to hang wetly in her face. The rain was cool against her skin; its taste was sweet against her tongue. “The great Curufinwë Fëanáro, threatened by a bit of sky-water?” she teased, slanting her voice mockingly across his full name. “Wait until Tirion hears of this.”

    “I am not threatened by the rain,” Fëanáro protested. “Just . . . vexed. There is no order in the storm.”

    Nothing for him to control, she heard the unspoken in the words. His face crinkled with the thought, reminding her of her baby sister when she refused to eat her mashed peas. The comparison made her smile, but she did not tell him so. She did not, for he was looking at her oddly then . . . his eyes lighting in a way that made the static on her skin seemingly pool in her stomach.

    She bit her lip, suddenly wary in his presence as he leaned forward to brush the wet strands of her hair from her face. His fingers were callused against her skin, but the play of softness and roughness only turned at something deep inside of her. Gently, he tucked the copper curls behind the point of her ear, brushing the tip with his thumb as he did so. His eyes flickered down, as if mapping out lines between her freckles before his gaze settled on her mouth. And then -

    It was her first kiss, Nerdanel thought a bit breathlessly. She kept her eyes open so that she would not miss a moment of it; her mouth tingling pleasantly as she pressed her lips more firmly against his. Her first kiss . . . but she would not tell him so. She felt the static in her stomach turn to lightning then, suddenly full as she was, as full as the earth with the rain beyond.

    Briefly, she entertained the idea of slapping him . . . this arrogant princeling of a man, who thought he could have anything and everything he wanted, playing with the homely smith's daughter as a cat would play with a ball of string . . . and yet . . . Something inside of her twisted, hoping, that maybe . . .

    She pulled back, feeling something within her blooming like a new flower upon a vine, seeing the bright flame of his eyes brighter than she had seen it yet. He looked oddly uncertain then, oddly vulnerable, and it was the fear she saw there that touched her more than anything else. His skin was warm to the touch, too warm . . . and then she made her first kiss her second, and stayed so with him until the rain ebbed beyond.

    CXXVIII. Begin

    “Yes, just like that – only, be sure that you support his head.”

    “Thank-you,” Nerdanel said as her goodsister arranged baby boy more securely in her arms. “I was very young when my sisters were this small, and I must confess that I have forgotten much.”

    “It is like learning to speak,” Findis said, her mouth quirking up as she said so. “It is impossible for your mouth to forget words once they are learned, and a baby too is as such. See, you are already a natural.”

    Nerdanel smiled down at the baby, cradling his little body close with the ease of instinct. The child was all softness and warmth in her embrace, as if she held a swaddled ember within the sea of embroidered blue rather than a babe of flesh and bone.

    Findis released her brother to her hold, but looked ill at ease to step away completely. While the King and Queen of the Noldor were busy accepting the blessing and well wishes of the court at the feast that welcomed their youngest son to the world, Findis had taken her brother's care upon herself rather than leaving him to the keeping of a nanny. She clasped her hands together as Nerdanel held him, as if to give her fingers something to occupy themselves with.

    At first, Nerdanel had approached the child out of obligation, and she was but one in a long line of well wishers. The place at her side was empty, even though she had not come alone. Fëanáro had disappeared shortly upon arriving, leaving the festivities behind in order to sequester himself in one of the empty rooms in the palace - no doubt to brood in silence until it was socially acceptable for them to take their leave. She would not have the court speak of her husband's slight, and so she made sure that her bland smile was securely in place as irritation flooded through her veins. Irritation and frustration both.

    She . . . she had done all that she could to help calm the raging within her husband's soul, and she would be able to do no more until they were alone and away from the blinding light of Tirion once more. Until then, she would not be rude to their hosts for the evening, and she would certainly not turn away the chance to hold her newest kinsman. She did not carry Fëanáro's disdain for Finwë's second family – and, in truth, Fëanáro did not either. He feared his sibling's place in their father's heart, he feared them for the replacements he thought them to be . . . but she had seen the memories themselves in his mind. He had smiled the first time he had held Findis in his arms, before thinking about how much like Indis she looked, and then his walls were in place once more. He watched Nolofinwë as he grew from afar, quietly marveling over the quick rise of his mind and the clever cast of his words – all to himself, and never aloud, of course. When Lalwendë was born, he had spend an entire week in the forge, crafting an intricate mobile of warm copper and softly glowing gems that would hang above her crib – a crib he would never visit.

    And now, with this last child . . . Arafinwë he was named, and where Nolofinwë looked alike to Finwë and Fëanáro both to the point that it was uncanny, this boy was already all happiness and wide grey-blue eyes, the gold of his mother's Vanyarin hair a fuzzy halo about his head.

    “Already he is such a smiling boy,” Nerdanel said, her heart completely stolen.

    “He is,” Findis agreed warmly. “Nolofinwë was so solemn – he looked as if he was taking everything in and learning, even in his earliest days. Arafinwë sees joy in this world.”

    “He will be a light upon your family,” Nerdanel found herself whispering, and though she had no gift with portents and futures, she heard the prophesy there nonetheless.

    “A light that is so desperately needed within a family of flames,” Findis commented wryly. “He will be a buffer in many a storm, already that I can see.” Findis' words tapered off as she spoke, a pale blonde brow raised as she took in the sight of Nerdanel and the baby in her arms. “You look well with him, if it is not impertinent of me to say so. You and my half-brother have seen over a decade of marriage already, is a child in your future?”

    The question caught her like a blow, unaware. Nerdanel blinked, her customary reply of not just yet every time her mother asked, and the future holds what it holds to everyone else suddenly changing to, “Fëanáro does not wish for children.” The words were dropped onto the air like rain upon the ground, fat and splattering.

    She had not realized how much the words hurt to say until she spoke them . . . spoke them when the baby boy in her arms was such a warm weight, his smiling mouth snaring at something deep inside of her and pulling.

    “Oh . . . I am sorry,” Findis said, her cheeks flushing as she realized what she had unwittingly stepped into. “I . . . I only meant to say that Fëanáro did not allow himself to enjoy his father's family as it grew. I had thought that, with a family of his own . . .” her voice faded, speaking not to Nerdanel in that moment before her eyes cleared. “And yet, it is rude of me to speak where I have no such say. In whatever shape your family continues on as, I wish you both every possible happiness.”

    “You are family,” Nerdanel said, and found that she meant every word. Meant them even where Fëanáro pretended that he did not. “And, as such, I welcome your counsel. I thank-you, Findis, for your insight.”

    Findis nodded, still uncomfortable, and yet Nerdanel had no wish for her to feel so. It was . . . an old argument between her husband and she. An endless circle of words and their weight.

    The Valar be damned, Nerdanel, but why can't you understand that it was my birth that killed her! he had once smashed the bust she had been sculpting in rage at her inability to let the subject go. I killed her! I drained her of her very soul - drained her to the point that she yearned for death and found it. Do you not understand how that would destroy me if I were to do the same to you? Can you not understand that I would not be able to bear it?

    At the memory, she felt her heart twist, each pain her husband felt shared and experienced a hundred fold by her. Her spirit ached at the memory, and as if her distress had summoned him, she looked up when a hush came upon the crowd. A hush that meant . . .

    “Fëanáro,” Nerdanel greeted as he approached, more warmth leeching into her voice than she would normally allow in such a public place. The crowd parted for him like water around a stone, whispers behind hands filling the air as Finwë caught his son's gaze at the head of the room and tried to hold it.

    I am not . . . If you too were to fade away . . . Already my mind hangs upon a precipice, and there are times when I fear the flames that burn within me . . . I know, if you were ever to leave me, in any way . . . I am not strong enough to bear such a thing.

    And then, softer . . .

    It is why I cannot understand why he needed another after her. You consume me, and the idea of sharing my soul, my body and mind, with any other . . . What about me was so lacking that he felt the urge to seek another wife? To bear another child? What about me was not enough? Or, did I simply remind him of her to the point where he could not bear to look at me? Indis is everything Míriel was not, and perhaps he needed that . . . needed something more . . .

    His own deepest thoughts and fears were those the court so callously whispered now, striking her husband as much as they struck the King on his throne. But Fëanáro ignored the whispers, tilting his head up as if in challenge as they grew. Just the same, he ignored his father's stare – the flickering there, as if looking for approval, for forgiveness - as he took his place by his wife and the little prince she held in her arms.

    Nerdanel watched his gaze as it flickered, as it swallowed, taking on a note of the possessive and the consuming. It was a look she had known since he had first expressed his desire to court her, and she had turned him down, thinking him to be insincere in his wishes.

    Now it was a look that sent heat up and down her spine. It was a look that sent a yearning to the deep parts of her bones. She understood then that a child was a desire of his heart as much as it was of hers, and she wished . . .

    “Your brother,” she tilted little Arafinwë in her arms, and for the first, Fëanáro did not correct her. He did not say half as he rested one hand upon her shoulder, and lifted another to touch the soft down of the babe's cheek.

    Arafinwë, delighted by the new face before him, reached out and latched onto Fëanáro's finger. He gurgled happily as he tried to stuff the captured digit into his mouth, and rather than draw his hand away, Fëanáro smiled. There was something soft about the look, something tender. Nerdanel felt her stomach twist as if before a great fall, knowing that if she pressed the issue again, her husband would give . . . her husband would break.

    And in that moment, she yearned so very dearly.

    I will be no Míriel, she thought fiercely. I will not blaze on and out from the heat of you.You will find that I am no such empty flame, to be so easily blown out..

    The words were a lie, she would someday come to know, but not in the way she thought them then.

    For then, her bond with her husband meant that Fëanáro caught on to the tail end of her thoughts, hearing them as words spoken into his own mind. She felt his soul shimmer, full as it was with love for her, and she knew . . .

    When she passed Arafinwë back to Findis' arms, the baby's face actually turned down for the loss of Fëanáro to his eyes. At the same time, she felt her husband's puzzlement when he realized that he too had no wish to give the boy back to his sister. He wanted as she wanted then, and Nerdanel felt hope blaze in her mind as she took his hand in her own.

    Seven children, she pushed her challenge across her thoughts to him. I want seven children.

    Seven children? Came his reply, playful over the undercurrent of unease he felt, the undercurrent of fear.

    Seven . . . six sons, if you wish, but I would like at least one daughter, she confirmed, raising a brow in reply. That is . . . unless you feel yourself unequal to the challenge.

    Never that, came the low promise in reply, a heat in his thoughts, ever waiting as embers to take up as flames. And yet, you suggest that we do little else for the next foreseeable century or two . . .

    Uncaring of the court and their eyes, Fëanáro turned, and captured her mouth in a short, breathless kiss. When he drew away, he did so only so that he could share her breath. A hand rested on her cheek as he looked on her in humble awe, and once again, the flicker of vulnerability there . . . the flicker of fear, stole her heart anew.

    “I promise to live,” she said aloud, giving her vow, swearing her oath. “You will not be rid of me so easily, Curufinwë Fëanáro.”

    He did not answer her, but he did rest his brow against her own, and a part of her once again marveled that she could be something strong for the impossible flame of his spirit before her. She could be as cool water and winding river, soothing the great inferno of his soul.

    A child, she thought, something giddy rising within her for the thought. Then, a child they would have.

  18. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb characterizations and insights. A tangle of fears, insecurities, longings, and fulfillments. =D= =D= @};-
  19. laurethiel1138

    laurethiel1138 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Feb 6, 2003
    A beautiful series of important moments for the History of Middle-Earth...

    For if Finwe had not wed Indis, then we would not have Fingolfin, and thus no Idril, no Earendil, no Elrond and no Elros, and therefore no Arwen and no Aragorn. Likewise, we would not have Finarfin, then we would have no Galadriel, no Celebrian, and therefore (again!) no Arwen. An exceptional choice, with exceptional consequences, and though it eventually drove Feanor away, it also held the key to the appeasement of Middle-Earth.

    And what to say about Nerdanel, in this... As with Galadriel, not all strength lies in great feats, and the ability to withstand and becalm the mighty Feanor himself is not to be understated, nor underestimated!

    Lauré :)
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  20. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Nyota's Heart: Thank-you! [:D] That family was certainly a tangled web of insecurity and love, and it was interesting trying to explore that dynamic here. :)

    laurethiel1138: Exactly! There is quite simply no way to look at Finwë's decision as right or wrong - though we are certainly glad he made it, that's for sure. And then, Nerdanel! We only have a few lines from her in the Silmarillion, but she captivated me from just those few. Being able to calm and advise Fëanor before he descended further down into his madness - it is a strong woman who can do that, and I enjoyed fleshing out her character a little more. [face_love]


    Author's Notes: I do not really have anything new to say for this one. I only have to say that I am discovering a love for Turgon's character when before he was normally one passed over for other parts when reading. Now, Fingon's rescue of Maedhros from Thangorodrim was viewed as valiant, and long revered in song, but I could not help but thinking about how his family must have felt when he went off to do so - going off on what must have seemed like a suicidal mission, all for one who had just betrayed they and their people in the most grievous of ways. So, with that in mind, these two ficlets were born.

    The names here are in Quenya, so, for reference . . .

    Turukáno: Turgon
    Findekáno: Fingon
    Maitimo: Maedhros
    Makalaurë: Maglor
    Irissë: Aredhel
    Itarillë: Idril
    Nolofinwë: Fingolfin
    Arafinwë: Finarfin
    Arakáno: Argon (Fingolfin's youngest son, who died in a skirmish upon reaching Middle-earth. He was only mentioned in Tolkien's very late writings.)

    "we choose our flesh over bones"

    CXXIX. Blank

    “So it is true . . . you are going after him.”

    There was nothing in Turukáno's voice when he spoke; no inflection or emotion of tone. His words were a blank stretch of sound, but it was a tone Findekáno had learned well not to trust, knowing as he knew that it contained deeper wells of feeling within – as a strong tree with deep roots, stretching far beneath the ground.

    His own answer was simple in reply. “Yes,” he said as he tied the last cord on his pack. Within he had packed food and water and medical supplies, blankets and bandages and anything else useful he could think of. He was not sure of what he would find in the halls of Angband black, but he was prepared for anything.

    A long moment passed between them, rife with tension. “I do not understand,” Turukáno finally said. When Findekáno looked, his brother was standing in the doorway, his folded arms and great height nearly filling it.

    Findekáno released a breath, as if preparing for a battle.

    “You know why I must go,” he said softly. “I cannot leave him there. I will not leave him to Morgoth's torments – and yet, I cannot ask anyone else to risk themselves on such a venture. And so, alone I go. You must understand.”

    “No,” Turukáno responded frankly, his voice still carefully blank, still carefully level. “No, I do not understand. The Sons of Fëanáro have made their stand, and their stand is not alongside us. Your people need you now, your family needs you. They do not need for you to go and martyr yourself on some fool's errand – which is surely what you do now.”

    Calmly, Findekáno put his pack aside. He reached down to pick up his scabbard, buckling the leather strap over his shoulder and underneath his opposite arm. He did not look at his brother.

    “Our people are in good hands,” he said, as gently as he could. “Our family is strong, as well. I do not plan on dying, Turvo. I plan on living - I plan on returning.”

    “You plan to return with him,” this time, Turukáno's voice was sharp. There was an edge to his words, lined as they were with teeth.

    “Yes.” His answer was punctuated by the smooth sound of his sword sliding into its sheath.

    Turukáno's gaze flashed with the steel as it was covered. His mouth turned down on his face. “Then you are more a fool than I thought. Morgoth does not lightly give up what is his, and you will not make it out with your life. You go to your death – or worse than that, and you do not seem to care.”

    “I cannot not try,” Findekáno said, a note of the desperate touching upon his voice then. He picked up his cloak, but found that his fingers had trouble with the strings. He could not keep them from shaking. He is alive, his heart seemed to pulse with a frantic beat. Alive with that monster as lord over him, and every second I tarry is one more second that I leave him as such. He felt sick with the thought. He had not slept since returning from their cousin's camp, although he knew he would need all of his strength for the venture to come.

    “There are some,” Turukáno said, each syllable bitten from his tongue, “who would say that Fëanáro's house has received their due accord from Morgoth's hands. They would say that there is justice in it, even. Fëanáro dead so soon after setting foot upon these lands, and his eldest kept for torment at the Dark One's hands? It is fitting, they say.”

    At that, Findekáno's hands made fists. He could not keep the dark look from his eyes, hidden beneath his down-turned lashes. “Fëanáro was mad and fey in the end, and, as such, he is to be pitied – for his mind and his strength was once great,” Findekáno rebuked stiffly. “And Maitimo . . . you heard what Makalaurë said. He did not burn the boats with the others. He stood aside. It was not his actions that left us to the Helcaraxë. It was theirs.”

    He clung to that single piece of information as if the knowledge was all that kept him afloat in white waters. He needed to remember that, needed that to the marrow of his bones. And yet, across from him, Turukáno was not convinced. His mouth made an unkind line as he stepped forward, stalking further into the room. His normally kind and gentle brother was as an animal clawed in that moment, restless and hunting.

    He did not burn the boats,” Turukáno mocked, spitting the words out like a curse. “Do you know how foolish that sounds, brother? No, your precious Russandol did not burn the boats, but he did hold a sword. He slaughtered Olwë's kin without quarter, all because they refused to aid Fëanáro in his mad rush for Endórë. Fëanáro did not give the people of Alqualondë time – he did not take the time to reason, the time to convince them. If he had but waited, Arafinwë could have spoken with Olwë his goodfather on our behalf. Our own father could have added his words to Olwë's ears. And if the Teleri could not have been convinced, it would only have taken a scant few years to build a fleet of our own, if we had to.

    “But Fëanáro had no such consideration, instead he acted with a sword, and took what he wanted. He was no better than Morgoth himself with his actions – and Maitimo too aided his father's madness, and took the life of another. Many others. And it was not just men at Alqualondë – or do you choose to forget that, brother? There were woman, there were children, and your dear friend holds the blood of them all on his hands. Where was his courage to stand up to Fëanáro when they needed his words? Where was it then?”

    Each word struck him as it was intended. He felt them as bruises against his skin, left from the strongest of blows. Even still, he had to fight the black urge to turn on his brother – to shake him until the words stopped from his mouth and he spoke no more. Did he think that he did not know? Did he think that he so easily forgot? Did he not remember that they too had waded into the blood and flashing swords, unsure of who had attacked who, and . . .

    The sons of Fëanáro were not the only ones branded Kinslayers that day, he thought numbly. Turukáno may not have fought, but he . . . though he had not fought to kill, fought he still had until he realized the reason for the conflict, and then it was too late . . . much too late.

    “We all acted in ways we wished were different in those last days,” Findekáno said, remembering hurt words on the bloody sands and age old arguments that came at last to blows. Go, I will not stop you, he had said, his lip bleeding, and the knuckles on his right hand sore. Go, I will not stand in your way.

    And now . . .

    Thirty years, Findekáno thought with a pang so tangible that it was as a blade between his rib bones. Thirty years. “For thirty years,” he said aloud, “Maitimo has been in that Valar-forsaken place. I can . . . I can feel him now. I can feel the pain he endures, the guilt. He does not let himself die – even though he could have time and time again. He clings to life, not for his own sake, but for penance. For what right does he have to let go when so many others have fallen? He is not worthy of death, he feels, and so, he endures. He lives. But no more. Hate and petty wounds have torn this family apart, and I'll stand for it no more. This is a first step in a right direction, and it is a step I shall take.”

    Turukáno looked to the side, as if struck. He swallowed, the long line of his throat working as he tried to control the tempest of emotions inside of him. Findekáno could feel his pain and his anger lick at his own skin, and his mind reeled from too many discordant touches against his fëa. No matter what, someone he loved would be hurt in the end, but he could not . . .

    “They killed Elenwë,” Turukáno said softly, so softly that Findekáno could hardly hear him until he said in a stronger voice, “They killed Elenwë, and you would just run after one of them as if she could be so easily forgotten . . .”

    “The Ice killed Elenwë,” Findekáno said as gently as he could. “Please, brother, for all of our sakes, do not confuse the two in your mind.” He reached out to touch him, to offer comfort, but Turukáno jerked violently away. His storm-grey eyes looked on him as if he was a stranger in that moment, lost in his own grief as he was.

    “No,” the word was the fall of a blade through the air. “No. Go then, if you must. Go, die for him. I will not mourn you when you fall.”

    Findekáno made his mouth a thin line, hearing the note of finality in his brother's voice. He swallowed, wanting to offer words of love as a balm, words of kinship. I love Fëanor's son with an ancient friendship, he wanted to say. But you are my brother, Turvo. Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood, and what hurts you is as a wound to me. In the end, he said nothing where nothing would be heard. Instead, he shouldered his pack, and turned towards the door.

    Turukáno stepped aside. He did not stop him, and neither did he turn to follow him. Findekáno did not wait for him to do either.

    And yet, he only made it a step down the corridor before finding Irissë blocking his path. He made a fist of hand over the hilt of his sword, as if prepared for another battle of words. But her eyes were carefully guarded. She who was free with her every feeling now gave nothing away to his searching gaze. She held two sheathed daggers in her hands, their fine leather gleaming soft and subtle in the torchlight.

    “Here,” she said simply, thrusting the weapons towards him. “They have a better edge than yours.” At his raised brow, she raised one of her own in reply, daring him to comment on the gift. “They are weighted too heavily for me to have a precise aim with them,” she explained in defense, “and I was going to give them to you anyway.”

    Findekáno swallowed. He did not realize what a stone had gathered in his mouth until he tried to speak around it. His eyes burned as he took what she offered. “I thank you, sister.”

    Irissë rolled her shoulders, shrugging aside his gratitude. “Be careful you don't lose a finger with those,” her eyes were as weights when she spoke. “They are sharp enough to cut through bone.”

    “I will remember,” he said. He attempted to keep his voice level – blank of feeling - but his words came out as a sound of grief in the end. He sounded, he reflected, a bit mad. A bit desperate.

    “Good,” Irissë nodded her head before moving to walk past him. She did not say goodbye, she did not wish him well; she did not tell him that she loved him when, most likely, she would never see him again.

    “Irissë,” Findekáno stopped her, holding a hand about her wrist. “Please . . .” for a moment, he could not find his voice. “Please . . . look after him for me? I do him a great harm in going, and yet, I cannot . . .”

    Irissë's eyes were still unmoved, but something about the stern line of her mouth softened when he said so. She reached up to cover his hand with her own. “I will look after him,” she promised. “As I always do.”

    “Good,” Findekáno swallowed, and then turned away. He did not look back behind him – instead, his eyes were turned towards the north, where he could feel the other as he endured.

    Please, he found himself praying, though he knew not whom would listen to such a prayer. Just hold on, a little while longer.

    I am coming for you.



    CXXX. Empty

    He had known of his brother's return since the previous evening.

    For the most part, Turukáno had stayed away. There was no way to get close to their Fëanorian guest in a moment of privacy, at any rate. Maitimo's room was a steady influx of healers and attendants, each struggling to repair the extensive damage done by Morgoth's hands. Findekáno himself kept a steady vigil at their cousin's bedside, seemingly carved from stone but for the way he would blink and blearily look on the ruin of Maitimo's body before him, as if the corpse-like figure on the bed was a stranger who hid their true cousin's face. Their father had stepped in to try to get Findekáno to take a rest of his own, but all Nolofinwë had accomplished was to move Findekáno to bathe and change before returning to the other's side to partake in food and rest there.

    Turukáno had not come nearer than a glimpse, staying on the other side of the temporary compound and stalking the farthest halls with all of the coiled rage of a creature of claw and fang. Irissë had found him once, and asked him if he was well when it was clear that he was not. Her eyes challenged him, forcing him to speak his pains aloud, but he could not confide even in her. His words had risen in his throat, lost before passing from his mouth, and Irissë had left only after touching his cheek and assuring him that she would be there for him when he was ready to let her listen. If anything, her kindness had only put him further on edge, hating that he had caused she – who had lost as much as he with Arakáno dead not even days upon the shore, and Elenwë dear to her own heart, besides – any further grief to bear.

    His temper had only cooled when Itarillë had strayed from Glorfindel's side in order to find him, his daughter's acute empathy meaning that no words were needed as he knelt and she wrapped her small arms about his neck as best she could. But seeing Itarillë blink her blue eyes – her mother's eyes – only brought back the pain of loss, the empty maw in his spirit, gorged by grief and impossible to fill. He could feel the impotent swirl of his anger, pooling in his bones and making his hands fist against the pressure as it built.

    And now . . .

    Now Maitimo's rooms were empty. The room within was dark with night, illuminated only by a single candle on the bedside stand. Findekáno had fallen asleep on the hard chair to Maitimo's right, his elbow propped up on the arm of the chair and his head lulling forward to slip from his hand. In his exhaustion, he did not notice the awkward bend of his neck, though he would pay for it when he awakened. His brother's braids were crooked, having been done with a too fast hand. His face was very pale; white as it had not been since they had left the Grinding Ice behind them, and his skin had once again darkened healthily upon the rise of the sun. His breathing was not content as it passed from his lungs, coming rasping and quick, lost to dreams as his mind was.

    Turukáno looked, but felt pity slow to rise in his chest. Angband had left its mark on more than one, and yet he could not find it within himself to be moved.

    And yet, Findekáno did not long hold his attention when he turned to the room's other occupant.

    Distantly, he remembered being old enough to understand the concept of his family beyond his father and his mother, beyond his brother. He remembered that he had learned Maitimo's name first; the elf with fire atop his head and fire in his eyes, drawing his child's gaze in awe. Finwë's pride of a grandson, Fëanáro's firstborn and greatest of his might - Maitimo, who always had a gentle word and a kind hand; Maitimo, whom Turukáno had copied down to the way he walked, before he grew old enough to discover his own step. His own voice.

    Once, he had loved the other simply because Findekáno had loved him so dearly. It had been so easy then. But then, Valinor had darkened, and the ties binding kith and kin had darkened with it. And now . . .

    He looked, but saw not of the Prince of Fire the other had once been. The strong features of his face were weathered and worn; his full lips were thin and chapped, and his eyes sat as bruises on his face, gross smears of purple and brown, standing out against the pallid shade of his too-pale skin. Where once his eyes had been painfully bright to behold, they were now smoke-grey, like the color above a flame once its fire gave out. His hair was a brittle, dry fuzz where the healer had to cut the red waves away, the short tresses so matted with blood and grime that there had been no hope for saving it. Short . . . meaning that somewhere during his imprisonment, the length of his hair had been chopped away for amusement and sport - perhaps more than once, even. A part of him felt ill at the thought.

    Maitimo, the well formed one, Nerdanel had named her son. Once, he had the body of an athlete, tall and lithe and strong. Now his skin hung limply over a skeletal frame. He had no muscle-mass left, and his bones poked through in odd places. Some were shaped at odd angles, telling where they had once been broken and left to improperly heal. The healers had to re-break many of them, Turukáno remembered Irissë saying, in order to let them properly set. The fingers of his remaining hand were all bound in careful little splints, and Turukáno felt his own hand make a fist at the ghost of sensation that crawled over his knuckles.

    He did not let himself see the long white scars, criss-crossing every inch of visible skin. Morgoth was clever, and Morgoth was patient - and Maitimo would not easily break. Turukáno could only imagine the lengths the Dark One would to in order to gain the reaction he sought. Morgoth had hated and admired Fëanáro with a dark obsession, and so, with Fëanáro dead, and Morgoth only able to take out his frustration and fascination on his eldest son . . .

    Turukáno inhaled, and let his breath out slow. It was no less than a Kinslayer deserved, he let himself think darkly. For every life taken at Alqualondë . . . for every life lost upon the Helcaraxë . . . It was fitting, down to every last mark, and this he had to believe.

    It took him a moment to realize that Maitimo was not as unaware as he first thought. For the better, Turukáno thought. He wanted him to know, he wanted him to feel . . .

    “Have you come to kill me?” his cousin's voice was a dry sound upon the air, like kindle crackling in a winter's hearth, unable to take flame. Once, Maitimo's skills had lain not in craft or forge, but rather with the spoken word. He could play the strings of the court as his brother strung his harp, and few were those who could debate with him but for his father himself.

    Turukáno swallowed. His own throat felt thick when he did so. “Perhaps,” he answered, stalking further into the room. The single candle cast shadows from him like wings.

    Too weak to sit up, Maitimo's eyes followed him as he walked. His gaze picked out the dagger he held in hand - a simple, elegantly curved blade, the steel so thin that it held the candle's light and held it as if it was the source of the flame. The hilt was an ornate cast of pearl, depicting Laurelin and her light. The warm surface seemingly glowed with the memory of the Tree-light upon the mountain of the Valar. The blade had belonged to Elenwë, crafted by Fëanor himself for their wedding, just over a century ago.

    “I recognize that blade . . . I remember when my father crafted it. The pearl was tricky, it vexed him, and yet nothing else would be worthy of Elenwë; Elenwë - who was cream and evening light in his eyes. He had sworn and vowed to use a different medium a half a dozen time, but in the end . . . he did always enjoy a challenge,” Maitimo's voice was soft, lost with memory. “Findekáno told me . . . he told me about Elenwë. I am sorry for your loss . . . truly I am.”

    “Empty words,” Turukáno said coldly, his voice dark from his mouth. He watched as Maitimo's eyes narrowed upon it, testing his syllables for the threat they held. “Your sympathies are meaningless, and hollow to the ear.”

    Maitimo blinked, settling back against his pillows as if shrugging. “Take them as you will,” Maitimo said, his voice carefully still. As a child, Turukáno would have heard the voice for the warning it was, embers ever needing only a spark in order to take flame. “It matters not to me.”

    Turukáno was silent as he took a seat on the edge of Maitimo's bed. He was close enough to Findekáno that if his brother stirred, his hand would have touched his arm before he would have realized his presence. But Findekáno did not move. His eyes clenched, but they did not open. He muttered in his sleep, taken by his dreams.

    Maitimo's gaze too flickered to Findekáno, but not for aid, Turukáno saw. Rather, there was something soft in the look, something tender and small – like an erring child looking for a parent's continued affection, and more than anything, that gaze angered Turukáno. He could feel an answering fire lick at his own bones, devouring in shape.

    He leaned down, and traced the line of shadow and light on the other man's neck with the flat of Elenwë's blade. The knife barely touched his skin, the thin steel seemingly delicate to the touch.This close, he could see scar tissue about Maitimo's ears, where Morgoth had cut the fey tips away and then re-attatched them - no doubt letting them heal only so he could do so again. Turukáno felt his stomach crawl with the thought.

    Maitimo did not shy away from the blade at his throat. His one remaining hand was easy against the sheets, the broken fingers still and unmoving. Just barely, he leaned into the edge of the knife. Turukáno watched with a morbid fascination as the blood rushed to the surface of his skin, preparing to heal any harm he would think to inflict.

    “I asked your brother to kill me on the cliffs,” Maitimo whispered. His eyes flickered down, following the knife as it made its path. “I waited for steel to pierce my heart, but instead he took my hand . . . It was a cruel mercy, even when done in kindness . . . And so, I would ask that you do not hesitant. I release you from guilt or wrongdoing in taking my life, and ask instead that the Valar reward you for your kindness.”

    This was wrong, Turukáno could not help but think. This was all wrong. The angry hole in the pit of his stomach was still turning – it was growing, as if he held nightmare-creature in his gut. If he fed it, if he sated it, he thought that the pain would go away. He wanted for the scar on his soul to scab and heal over. He needed to . . . needed to move on. He needed to for his daughter's sake, for his own sake . . .

    He could not continue on like this; angry and burning. He could not . . .

    While he was lost to his inner turmoil, Maitimo watched him with calm and peaceful eyes. Abstractly, Turukáno envied him. He envied his acceptance, the ease of his release.

    Maedhros, the Sindarin healers had taken to calling him, rather than translating his name from Quenya as they had done for the rest of the Exiles. Iron-forged . . . he who was skilled with iron. Turukáno looked, and could not understand how the other was still strong before him. How was he not instead the slag at the bottom of the forge, useless and ruined?

    And yet . . . long had the healers of Endórë dealt with those recovering from Morgoth's torments. Perhaps they saw something that he did not. Perhaps . . . perhaps it was enough that the other lived; that he breathed . . . that he endured.

    “Please, Turvo,” Maitimo's voice was gentle and coaxing, trying to lull him from his hesitation . . . free him from his guilt. “You would do the world a favor . . . you would rid it of a stain. Do this in your wife's memory, even – rid Finwë's line of the unspeakable horror of a Kinslayer. Call it justice, if you need to, for justice it is.”

    And yet . . . a Kinslayer he would also be if he took his cousin's life. A Kinslayer, no better than the wreck of an elf before him. Could he . . . could he really bring himself to spill the blood of Finwë and let it run out? He wanted to, he wanted to so very dearly . . . at least, he thought he did. Elenwë's loss was still like a burning in his bones, and he needed . . . He blinked, and found his eyes red and burning. When he closed his eyes, he could see red staining the salty froth of the ocean waves. He knew how crimson looked against the deadly purity of untouched snow. Would that he never have to see a spilled drop of scarlet again, then and only then would he be content.

    At the thought, he tightened his hand about the hilt of the knife. And yet, he could not preform that simple flick of the wrist that was needed. If he wanted to, all that he had to do was push down with the flat of the blade, and crush the other's throat. Maitimo was weak, it would be so easy to press down and watch his breath stammer out and then never resume.

    So easy . . . nearly no effort at all, and he could take the life of a Kinslayer.

    Kinslayer . . . a voice in his mind mourned. This is not you, Turvo. Not even in your darkest moments is this something you can do, and the voice sounded so much like Elenwë that he let the kiss of the blade fall away. He could not . . . no, he would not.

    He sucked in a breath. He had not realize how long he had gone without breathing until his lungs ached from the return of air. He let the breath fill him, and felt peace once more return.

    “You will not?” he could not tell if Maitimo was surprised or disappointed. Relieved or indifferent.

    “She would not have wished it,” was all that Turukáno said in reply. His voice was a low, raw sound as he spoke. Even he could hear the grief that hid behind the syllables. “And so, you will live. Kinslayer, you shall live as, and be remembered as such for all of your days. You will live, and your thrice cursed Oath will take all that you touch. I need not lift a finger for your ruin, already you bring it upon yourself.”

    A moment passed, filled only with the flickering of the candle's flame and Findekáno's quiet breathing.

    “It is strange,” Maitimo's voice was blank for the sparing of his life, empty even. “For that is exactly what Morgoth said to me . . . After I lost my value as a hostage, and he at long last lost his taste for my torment, Morgoth still did not kill me. He said that it would have been a waste, that someday I would walk free of Angband, and he wanted to see events as they played. It was a game to him, to watch Fëanáro's fire as it burned on and out. He . . . he laughed, knowing that my end would eventually be greater than any cruel torture he could think of.

    “Perhaps it was selfish of me, but I . . . I had hoped that you had come to do what Findekáno could not. I had thought that you doing so would have begun to even the scales, that with blood spilled in payment, our crimes would be that much closer to forgiven. I had hoped, that while our Oath slept, there could be peace amongst our peoples.”

    Turukáno rolled his shoulders. He would spare the life of Fëanáro's son . . . but that did not mean that he would forget, that he would know sympathy for the consequences of his actions. “You will have to find another way to make amends,” he said without feeling in his voice. “You will have to find a way to make this right - to prove to Findekáno that his sacrifice was not in vain.” At the thought, his hand fisted about the hilt of the knife, not completely forgotten. “I ask only this of you,” he said next, his voice dropping dangerously, “Do not betray my brother's trust, even if it was foolishly given. He deserves better than that, and I will not stand aside if he is hurt again.”

    “And if I do not?” Maitimo asked slowly, carefully. For the first his eyes looked wary. Slowly, Turukáno thought he could see the shadow of an old spark, an old flame, struggling to find the air and burn again.

    “If not? Then I will kill you,” Turukáno answered easily. “Endanger his heart – harm one more soul with your thrice bedamned Oath, and I promise you that I will finish what Morgoth started. I will not stop at a hand, Nelyafinwë Maitimo – and to that you have my oath and solemn vow, am I understood?”

    He felt satisfaction fill him when Maitimo nodded once, slowly. More fitting was this, he thought. He felt a weight leave his shoulders once he returned the dagger to itsplace at his side. The emptiness that had had first swallowed his soul after Elenwë's death was still as a chasm in his spirit, but now he could feel as it started to fill. As it started to heal.

    Had he taken the life of the other, that hole would have only grown, he knew. The emptiness would have settled itself deeper. It would have been a gap in his spirit that he never would have been able to fill. But, now . . .

    He stood, turning away from Maitimo in order to face his brother. While Findekáno's loyalty still stung, he understood it in the smallest of ways. He would waste no more energy on that anger, not when his family had been so long divided by petty divisions and perceived insults. In that, at least, his brother was right, and Turukáno would no longer hold his fingers in the raw wound of that rift. He would let that too heal . . . if it was even possible for it to ever heal.

    His motions mechanical, Turukáno took one of the extra blankets from the foot of the bed, and covered his brother with it. Findekáno stirred in his sleep, but he still did not awaken. Gently, he pressed his hand to his brother's brow, and pushed upon the surface of his consciousness, deepening his sleep to a true rest, a sleep without remembered terrors.

    He left his brother to his dreams, and Maitimo to his thoughts, and did not look back.

  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Bravo =D= =D= =D= Wonderfully detailed emotions of penance, grief, anger, and caring. You have a splendid talent with the nuances of motive and consequences. @};- [:D]
  22. laurethiel1138

    laurethiel1138 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Feb 6, 2003
    Do you know, what I find most fascinating about Tolkien's Middle-Earth is the emphasis put upon the burden of choice... And your offering here is yet another example of that.

    Between Maedhros refusing to give up, Fingon choosing to go rescue him from Morgoth himself, and Turgon ultimately letting go of old grievances, the fate of the world would be changed. Of course, it's easy for us to say, having the whole tale to give us insight, but still... If there weren't such appeasement between the heirs of Finwë, then Earendil would not have felt at liberty to leave his sons in Maedhros' and Maglor's care to go plead his case to the Valar. And thus he could not have taken part in the War of Wrath, where he slew the dreaded dragon Ancalagon the Great...

    And I must say it was an especially nice touch, to include Aredhel's knives, which, I surmise, played a part in freeing Maedhros from his bonding, though the price be his hand.

    Lauré :)
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  23. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Nyota's Heart: Aww, thank-you so very much! [:D]

    laurethiel1138: As always, your comments make me look on this world in a new way, and I think that is what I love most about posting these snippets. It is amazing watching the threads in Tolkien's work as they unravel over the centuries - there is a sayings about butterflies and hurricanes that is quite fitting here, that's for sure. :p Once again, thank-you for reading. [:D]

    Author's Notes: So, I am at the point in writing Celebrían's diary when we are exploring Moria in the Second Age, and that just left me with the urge to write about another dwarven kingdom, and so, here we are, dipping into Hobbit characters once again . . .

    Enjoy. :)

    "bellowing in the bones"

    CXXXI. Full

    At first, it had felt terribly like an adventure; this quest of theirs.

    The great halls of Erebor seemed to hold the sounds of their footsteps as they kept to the shadows in their careful sprint for their grandfather's rooms. The green marble corridors echoed, and they each shushed the other as they tried to hold in their laughter as silence. Well . . . as Frerin tried to hold in his laughter, that was. Thorin was better at keeping his silences when the situation called for it, and Dís had a well practiced raised brow and disaproving scowl that was at odds with her tender years. The youngest of their brood she was, but perhaps she was older than her brother in mind – a fact that she never ceased to remind him of.

    “The original works of Telchar, saved before Beleriand was lost,” Frerin was whispering – his whisper, unfortunately, only rang louder than his actual words. “The pearl Nimphelos, greatest treasure of the Broadbeams in Gabilgathol that was . . .”

    “I hear that he has blades of Eöllion make,” Dís said, forgetting her unease with their quest long enough to add her own wistfulness to her brother's. “I would give anything to replicate that black steel – and I will someday, just you mark me.”

    Frerin crinkled his nose. “You want to see a few pieces of elvish make when the great wonders of our people lay in Thrór's private vault?”

    Dís raised a withering brow. “He was dwarf taught, Frerin – and it matters not for the skill of his wares. And, may I remind you too that Nimphelos was a gift from the Elven-king of Doriath, or did you fall asleep for that part of our histories, brother?”

    Frerin ran a hand through his mass of wild black hair, annoyed. “I remember the parts of our histories that are relevant to us.” He turned to his first, looking pleadingly at Thorin. “Please, brother, second me on this?”

    “I do think that the lady has the right of you. There is nothing I can say to give you aid,” Thorin said, trying not to smile as his siblings went back and forth. For all of her youth, Dís already held herself as a lady of Durin, as strong as the mountain itself and as sparkling as polished mithril. For all of his words to the contrary, Frerin loved her as he loved no other thing, and they delighted in tossing their words to and fro.

    “Some help you are,” Frerin swatted his shoulder, but there was fondness too in that gesture. He scowled at his sister. “Don't you have something else you could be doing? Seeing to your embroidery, or playing with Ríli in the smithies . . .”

    On cue, Dís' cheeks flushed. She refused to give him the reaction he saught, though, instead tossing her head haughtily as she said, “Ríli is a talented enough goldsmith, I suppose, but not talented enough for a princess of Durin's line.”

    “I do not know,” Thorin mused with an exaggerated thoughtfulness. “Balin speaks highly of Rili's progress, and Dís is never one for her embroidery so much as she is made for heat and craft. There may be a match there yet.”

    Frerin scowled, realizing that his jest had backfired on him. “A match not fit for my sister,” he grumbled before pushing on. “Now, are we doing this, or not?”

    “And that is the real reason you cannot be rid of me,” Dís pointed out wryly. “If you two insist on being troll-brained, then you need someone to come with you to add a modicum of intelligence to your venture.”

    “Indeed, the lady wounds me!” Frerin pressed a hand to his chest in a mummery of mortal injury. “No, sister dear, you are here for your Mahal given gift with locks.”

    For they had come to the great doors that led to their grandfather's personal rooms. Thorin looked up at the golden relief depicting the first awakening of Durin in the earliest days. The artists rendering was intimidating and grand, and Thorin felt small standing before it, as if his ancestors of old looked down on him from Durin's golden eyes and knew.

    And yet . . . they were no burglars, he thought. They just wished to explore without watchful eyes telling them that they could not touch this or that. There was nothing untoward in what they did, nothing at all.

    Dís made quick work of the outer lock, and then they were in. Thrór's chambers were empty, though voices could be heard laughing from the corridor that led to the king's private council chambers – where their grandfather and their father would be in session until the latter part of the afternoon. They had time aplenty if they were quiet enough, and careful. The next lock was trickier – they pushing aside a tapestry where a hidden door was worked into the wall. They had just learned the word of power that would open the door the day before, and then, with Dís' quick work on the more complex keyhole, they were in.

    “Ha!” she said in triumph as she pushed, and the door gave way to her.

    While the main treasure of Erebor laid deep in the mountain halls, this was Thrór's personal stash and pick of their greatest wears. Priceless artifacts lined the chamber from high to low, everything from gold to diamond to mithril filling great chests to the brimming. Something elemental inside of him alighted at the sight of the precious things. He could all but taste the bite of metal on the back of his tongue. He could feel the goods of the earth beneath his fingertips, even when he had yet to touch.

    Far from the urge to don and wear – as Frerin was now doing as he held Azaghâl's crown on his brow, the ornate band slipping down over his brow to rest against the bridge of his nose – he instead felt the urge to create, to make something even grander than the many things that were within this room. He could already imagine the hammer in his hand and the forge fire hot at his back, and he wanted, then -

    “Aha!” Dís cried. “I found it.”

    With sure fingers, she found an elegant black sword, and pulled it from its sheath with the ease of a daughter of the Longbeards. Thorin looked, and saw that the steel was indeed black, veined as if it was marble instead, crisscrossed by lines of silver and the darkest of greys. It was a strange, wonderful thing, that steel, and Thorin understood his sister's fascination almost immediately.

    “A genius,” Dís breathed. “And someday, I will be the first to unlock his secret.”

    “I have no doubt,” Frerin said with a grin. “And upon that day, we will wear your wares with pride. And yet, until then, you are adorned far too simply, sister dear.”

    He dropped to one knee, offering her a small chest of rings. “I could not decide which one suited you best, and so, I chose them all.”

    Dís rolled her eyes, but picked a ring nonetheless. “An excellent choice,” Frerin gave with exaggerated gusto. “Exactly as I would have picked for you.” And, with that, he cast the chest aside, sending the contents within flying.

    Thorin hissed out a breath. “You fool,” he said crossly. “Not a thing can be moved from its place. Now help me pick these up.”

    “Yes, you are right. I am sorry,” Frerin flushed, dropping to his knees in order to help him pick up the rings he had spilled. Dís bent down to help as well, stopping curiously only when she picked up a ring box – the only one so protected within the chest. She tinkered with the lock on the box before coaxing it open to reveal a twisted band of mithril within, inlaid with a large dark blue stone.

    She paused, looking down at the ring oddly. Both Thorin and Frerin looked over, inexplicably feeling as the band was exposed to the air. There was a presence in the band, Thorin understood, a flickering deep and unmovable.

    “I have seen this ring before,” Dís muttered. “Grandfather wears it often . . . I wonder why he is not now.”

    Curiously, she handed the ring over to Thorin, who had not realized that he had wished to hold it until she offered it to him. There was something about the rather simple band that ensnared him – something that called to him.

    “Yes, I have seen it before as well,” he said, though his voice was now far away to his own ears. He knew that his siblings were still speaking, but he could not hear what they said. Not then, not when . . .

    The urge to put the ring on his finger was nearly overpowering. It was an overwhelming thought within his mind, one he did not even pause to second guess, and then the metal was sliding across his skin, and -

    . . . he wondered how could he have thought himself to see before, when truly, he had been so blind.

    There was a power in this ring, a power deep and delving, as strong as the mountain itself. With the ring, Thorin saw with eyes that were not his own; he could see the mountain in its entirety, see its hidden treasures and darkest places, now made as clear as day. Always had he felt the mountain in his bones - her stone eaves had sheltered his birth, had succored his soul, and he knew her as a mother and a guardian both. But this . . . she was now more than a feeling in his mind, a peace in his soul, he was now one with the mountain, and there was nothing that he could not see.

    He could see each strain of untapped ore, each precious stone hidden in the rock. He could see down and down and down, down to where the stone turned as molten as fire, and the underground rivers turned instead to steam, blistering and boiling. The earth had a heartbeat, and his own pulse slowed to match. He could taste the rock in his mouth; he could feel the stone as his flesh, and a yearning, an insatiable need seemed to light itself in his stomach as he saw the world around him in shades of silver and gold.

    Distantly, he heard his brother calling to him. He could feel Dís' warm hand as it wrapped about his own. They were worried, Thorin thought - but how could they be, when there was such wonder underneath their feet?

    He knelt then, feeling his breath coming too quick and strained in his chest. He needed to touch the marble stone beneath him. He needed the cool slide of precious metal against his skin, and he -

    “Thorin?” he heard his name spoken, breaking through the golden fog.

    “The ring,” he tried to speak. “Don't you see . . .”

    How could they not see?

    And he delved deeper with that second sight. He looked and searched until he came upon something long sleeping. Something that was the heartbeat of the earth, something that was the strains of ore and the precious gem.

    “Little Longbeard, what do you seek?” came a voice, as terrible as night and as beautiful as the molten earth far below them. It took Thorin a moment to realize that the voice came from the ring, the voice was a part of the ring. “Little Longbeard, what do you see?”

    For a moment, the haze of gold was overwhelming, and yet -

    He just barely recognized the ring being forced from him, and the breaking of the connection was like sundering an artery. For a moment, he could not . . .

    The gold faded then, and left only blackness behind.



    He awakened with a pounding in his head, as if his skull was a fold of metal being beaten into shape upon the anvil. He could not decide if that was worse than the rolling in his stomach, as bad as that one time he and Frerin had gotten into their father's stores of ale, and learned their lesson well. And yet, his twisting stomach and pounding head were nothing as to the feeling of loss he felt in his bones. A feeling that wished . . .

    When he blinked, he was noticed. He felt a commotion in the room, footsteps coming closer and a broad, weathered hand as it was lain against his brow. “Aye, laddie, try to wake up if you can,” a warm, familiar voice greeted him. “You gave us quite the scare.”

    He blinked, and slowly Balin's face came into focus. His vision was no longer edged in gold, and yet, he could not tell if it was relief he felt at the realization, or disappointment.

    He felt a hand on his shoulder, and looked up to see that Thráin was standing at his bedside in his court finery. His face was very much like Thorin's own, even if his nose was the slightest bit longer. His was a grave and chiseled countenance, framed by a mass of curling black hair, shot through with two long locks of white at the temples. His normally unmovable features were twisted in worry, and yet, Thorin had not realized just how much he had needed his father's comfort until it was given.

    He tried to sit up straighter beneath the hand on his shoulder, but was firmly pushed back down.

    “No,” Thráin said. “You rest. You have been out cold for the better part of the day. It is nearly the morrow.”

    That long? Thorin tried to remember, but his thoughts were covered in fog. He remembered only the ring and then blackness . . . but he looked past Balin to see Frerin and Dís both waiting at his side, anxious expressions on both of their faces. Dís' eyes were red from her tears.

    “What was that?” Thorin asked. His voice was a dry, hoarse sound. He did not recognize it at the first.

    “That,” a voice came from behind his father – his grandfather and King – and Thorin did sit up straighter when he realized that Thrór's eyes were upon him, “Was the First of the Seven. A gift, from Celebrimbor Fëanorian of Eregion to Durin, the third of his name, King of Moria, in the noontime of the Second Age.”

    “An artifact,” Thráin said carefully as he took a seat on the edge of his son's bed. “A heirloom of great power.”

    Thrór's nose twitched, the white whiskers of his beard moving as he did so. He turned narrowed eyes to his son. “A great power,” he stressed primly. “That Ring is the reason for the wealth of Erebor; the wealth of each of the seven hordes, at that. It would not have been left in such easy reach, had others not been afraid of its power, and advised against its constant wearing.”

    Thorin looked, and saw the look that passed between father and son. He felt foreboding fill his heart, for he knew those names . . . Celebrimbor the Elven-smith, the Rings of Power . . .

    “Yes, those Rings,” Thráin said gently. “They are one and the same.”

    He thought of night-tales of wraiths in the dark; of their screams and tattered black cloaks hiding where they had traded away both their flesh and their souls. At the thought, he felt a wild bite of fear that he quickly pushed away, not wanting to seem craven before his sire and grandside. But he . . .

    “And yet,” Thrór said proudly, “Only lesser races were enslaved to the call of the Rings. We of Mahal were stronger than the Dark One first believed, and we have resisted his call. Instead we use his would-be weapons to our own advantage, throwing his shadow back on him a hundred fold as our stores fill with more and more gold with each passing season.”

    And yet, he could not help but think . . .

    “There was a voice,” Thorin whispered. “A voice that whispered . . . I did not like the sound of it.” He felt small for admitting so, and yet, he could not . . . That voice had been evil in its entirety, and he did not like the thought of such a voice seeing the mountain he so loved, of such a voice looking upon the rock that had nurtured him. It seemed wrong; it did not feel right.

    “You are wise,” Thráin said, and the hand upon his shoulder tightened. “Not all have viewed that presence as such.”

    Thrór did huff at that, Thorin saw. He tensed, for his grandfather's moods had become more and more mercurial of late, and he feared . . . He felt as Dís and Frerin shuffled on the other side of his bed, both as uncomfortable as he.

    But Thrór did nothing more than look archly upon them all, and then turn away. Thráin watched his father leave with suddenly tired eyes, Thorin thought, and he felt guilt fill him. It was supposed to be a fun, harmless excursion that day, and now . . .

    “I just did not like the feel of it,” Thorin tried to explain, wanting to fix what was before him, but unsure just precisely how.

    “It will be many years until the Ring comes to you,” Thráin said, the hand on his shoulder leaving then. In a child's moment, Thorin wished for it back. “It shall be mine first before that, and far from your concern.”

    A lance of unease bit through him, and he reached out to touch his father's sleeve. But he stopped before touching him, drawing his hand back away and forcing his features to composure. “I . . .” he reined his words of concern away, saying simply, “I do not think you would need the Ring to rule. You would do well enough on your own council.”

    Thráin laughed warmly at that. “I thank you for your faith, my son,” he said. “But the Ring comes with the crown, and both are burdens to bear – do not worry for me, for bear both I shall, just as you somedy will - and I know that you will do your line proud.”

    His father spoke with such a certainty, but in Thorin's mind, a memory of that black voice smiled. The voice laughed, and he shivered.

    “And speaking of pride,” Thráin said, turning to all of his children. “My pride as a father took a blow today when the page came in to say what mischief my own brood were up to. There are,” he said, looking at Dís specifically, “locks upon doors for a reason, for some things are not meant to be opened.” And that was said to Frerin, who looked suitably abashed as he glanced down at his feet, the skin above his sparsely growing beard flushing.

    Muffled apologies greeted his words, and Thráin sighed. “To make sure you remember this in the future, I do believe that there is a forge-hearth due to be scrubbed, would you not say, Balin?”

    “I can think of one in particular,” the older dwarf pretended to consider it, rubbing his chin through the graying pelt of his beard, “that would benefit three strong hands.”

    “But -” Frerin got no further before Thráin held up a hand.

    “Do not make me think of two,” Thráin said. “Or there are bellows to be worked, if you think that scrubbing the hearths is not enough?”

    “Yes, father,” was all that greeted him, and Thráin inclined his head, pleased.

    “Then let that be a lesson to you – all of you,” he turned a severe look on them all as he rose to his feet, but his eyes softened when he bent down to lay a gentle hand at his son's brow, wiping away the wild strands of his hair. “But rest for the eve, the hearths will wait until the morn.”

    He took his leave, no doubt going off after his father, and Thorin watched him leave until the doors closed behind him.

    He settled back into his pillows with a sigh, his head still pounding mightily behind his closed eyes.

    “And it is time to rest for all of you,” Balin said gently. “It has been quite the day.”

    Frerin turned to leave, but Dís lingered, looking at their elder with hesitant eyes. “Would it be alright if we were to say? We promise not to disturb him much.”

    Frerin too turned questioning eyes upon him, and Balin sighed. “As long as he isn't disturbed much, I do not see why not. But leave him to his rest, else I will see that your father remembers those bellows upon the morrow, do I make myself clear?”

    He had, he was rapidly assured and as Balin turned to leave, Thorin felt as both of his siblings joined him on the bed. They had not passed a night like this since they were very young, scaring each other with stories of dragons in the dark. And yet, he was strangely thankful for their presence in that moment. He . . . he did not wish to be alone. He did not yet want to close his eyes, knowing the visions that would wait for him there.

    Silence passed between them, long and lingering. Finally, Dís gathered her courage to ask, “What did you see in that other world, Thorin? We called for you, but you could not hear us. You could not hear us, but you looked past us in such a wonder . . .”

    She had folded her small hand into his own, and he squeezed her fingers in assurance, not completely sure of who he was offering comfort as he did so.

    “What did you see?” she asked again, her voice small.

    “Everything,” Thorin whispered into the shadow; remembering being full with the mountain and the deep places underneath the earth. Full and insatiable and greedy he had felt, and now . . .

    “ . . . I saw everything,” he muttered again, and then closed his eyes.

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  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent =D= Weaving together so many histories & destinies. [face_thinking] It gives Tolkien's world a depth & epicness that none can rival. @};- I know Thorin was ever changed by that experience!

    Mira_Jade [face_dancing] Thanks for the recommendation of Oak & Willow. It is amazing!!!!!!! I am outlining something wonderful and terrific - spinning off directly - Galadriel's tale - fit to last the entire year or near-abouts. [face_love] [face_love]
  25. laurethiel1138

    laurethiel1138 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Feb 6, 2003
    Oh, Thorin... My heart just about broke reading this vignette, on more than one account.

    Thror, already so far gone that he can't see that his very pride holds the key to his downfall, thinking he can resist the magic of the Dark Lord himself. Thrain, seeing his father's decline and knowing what must be done, yet also starting to buckle under the pressure. And Thorin, being forced once again to grow up too fast, and to understand too much at too young an age.

    On a more cheerful level, I liked how you kept referring to the smithing arts in this ficlet, especially how taking the passion was for a people born out of the very rock they molded. A special mention must go to Frerin and Dis, who have just the right balace of seriousness and recklessness I would expect of them at this point in time. And Balin! And Dis' husband-to-be! (For Rili cannot be anything else, surely...)

    Lauré :)
    Nyota's Heart likes this.