Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Mira_Jade
, Jan 31, 2013.
A very delightful tale of Eowyn from little girl to grown woman in love with Faramir
Nyota's Heart: And I absolutely love Éowyn's tale and how her path evolves over the years. I'm glad you enjoyed that update!
And here we are with an update for the prompt Stalemate, featuring Maedhros and Fingon, days before Fingon takes the crown following the Dagor Bragollach - finally, I know. Fall clean-ups have been kicking my butt in RL, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel in a few weeks.
First, a few redundant names:
“chance may crown me”
The room was dark, so much so that had Maedhros not felt his presence within he would have kept on walking, thinking nothing of the shadows and that which they hid within their thick, obscuring veils. He hesitated for a fraction of a heartbeat before finding a path through the dark, gliding down the wide aisle of the hall and ignoring the empty throne on its dais in favor of the dark form he could see slouched against the wall behind it; the black of his head merging with the dark blue of the banner he leaned upon. The gold twinkling from his braids was dim in the non-light, as was the faint grey of his eyes, distantly burning in the dark.
Maedhros was silent as he sat on the floor next to his cousin, and after a moment's pondering, he lit Fingon's extinguished candle with the dimly flickering one he held in his own hands. The small, warm light flickered into being, dancing over the bottle of dark red wine Fingon had before him without a goblet. There was another bottle empty and overturned next to it, and Maedhros slanted his eyes from the sight as Fingon flinched; the soft candlelight was too bright, burning his eyes. He squinted, clearly trying to focus his mind against the comfortably numb haze provided by the wine's embrace.
Maedhros allowed him time to gather his wits, meanwhile stretching his long legs out on the cold floor and resting his head against the wall behind him. The position was not necessarily comfortable, but the darkness was soothing, as was the quiet, and he thought to understand his cousin's hiding himself away from both the Noldorin courtiers flocking to garner their new king's favor and the myriads of mournful condolences that must have followed on the wings of Fingolfin's death. Earlier that evening, when he had arrived in Mithrim from Himring, he had been surprised when the figures there to greet him - robed in black to mourn the recent passing of the High-king - had not included Fingon. That normally bright place his cousin claimed in his soul had been wan and faded ever since Fingolfin's passing, and it remained so now, even when Maedhros sat close enough to touch him. Fingon seemed aware of little – even the wine was untouched before him, though Maedhros had no doubt that it had been his faithful companion for the fortnight's time.
Maedhros did not immediately speak, instead he sat still and silent in the dark, and waited for Fingon to find his words - for they never deserted him long.
“This,” at last Fingon's voice was heard; a dry, rasping sound from days of grief and nothing but the strong wine to sooth his throat for some hours. He gestured in such a way that made it impossible to tell if he referenced his black garb and crookedly plaited hair, or the throne room with its empty king's seat and floating banners, wavering as silent sentinels overhead, “is all your fault.”
“I am not normally to blame for your consumption of spirits,” Maedhros replied blandly. Even so, true concern pinched his expression, and he reached out with that concern in an attempt to touch the layers seemingly wrapped about Fingon's spirit, keeping him dull and morose rather than raging and burning. “At least, not lately,” Maedhros added. He forced a note of levity to his words, though he instantly knew how his attempt at a lighter mood failed. “ . . . just as you are normally not so maudlin in your cups.”
Fingon's brow furrowed in a scowl, as if he was vexed to have to apply his mind to concentrate on anything – the wine having no doubt dulled his powers of comprehension quite nicely. “All Fëanorians are unusually thick, stupid creatures.” he declared, “no matter what would be said of your genius otherwise. I know better.”
In an uncoordinated gesture, he kicked disgracefully at the shadows, and from underneath the throne Maedhros saw a dull glitter of light upon a polished surface. After a heartbeat he recognized -
“ - that is your fault,” Fingon's brow darkened even further, and Maedhros felt a more delicate frown press his mouth into a thin line as he reached over to pick up the familiar circlet. It was one that he had seen his grandfather wear for centuries . . . and then his father for but a blinking . . . and next his half-uncle after he refused that burden for the heads of Fëanor's sons.
Carefully, Maedhros turned the band of white-gold over in his hand, staring at its sapphires and diamonds, and tracing the great prongs that reached up like folded wings. “It has been remade,” he remarked after a heartbeat, noticing a less skilled hand than the smiths in Aman – where Aulë himself had shown the Noldor how to craft wares for their King during their first days in the Undying Lands, or so Maedhros remembered from his father's lore.
“It had to be replicated – the ceremonial one, at least,” Fingon's voice was little more than a brittle whisper. “Atar was wearing it when . . . when . . .” but his voice broke over the last word, and he could say no more.
Maedhros understood, nonetheless, and he closed his own eyes against the unexpected wave of feeling that rose up to choke him – unsure if it was his own grief for his uncle's death, or empathy for Fingon's pain that he felt more acutely. The emotion was as a blade, either way, and he swallowed against its cut.
“This is laughable,” Fingon forced himself to give his thoughts a voice. He closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall, as if it pained him to focus his gaze. “I am the son of a second son of an immortal king – as such, the idea of ruling was always farfetched . . . laughable, even . . . or so I once thought, long ago. And, if by some unfortunate twist of fate Finwë did fall, Fëanor and his seven sons first would wear the crown of the Noldor . . . then Atar . . . and then me. The kingship was never meant for me to bear – and it still should not be, you know that it should not be. I am a soldier, I have little skill or care for fencing words like steel; rather give me a battlefield and grant me a clear path and a purpose to aid my people by. But this way . . . Turvo would have been a better choice for leading, if he were not holed up in the mountains somewhere . . . At least I may, perhaps, be better than Irissë . . . and we never got to know with Arvo . . .” But his voice tapered off with a dull croak of sound, and Maedhros knew that it was not his impending coronation that hung so heavily upon his heart . . . at least, not entirely.
“I was sorry to hear of your father's death,” Maedhros whispered. His words were soft in the dark, but he knew that Fingon heard him.
“Weren't we all?” Fingon muttered, bitterness touching his voice – along with a sharp edge that Maedhros identified as an impotent rage, an unquantifiable hate, no matter how righteously it may have been inspired. “Atar had borne enough of seeing our people buckle and fall underneath Morgoth's machinations; I understand that, I felt – feel – that frustration too. And yet . . . my father always was a bit like your father, though he would have hated my saying so. He could not so coldly preside and reign from afar after his people took such a blow as the Bragollach . . . but . . . dueling with Morgoth outright? He died a pointless death, and left me alone with this . . .” Fingon gestured sharply at the crown again and had to stop speaking in order to recover himself. He made a stiff, square line of his jaw, and Maedhros could see the wet sheen of tears when he blinked.
“Atar is gone, and I can only think of what my mother must be feeling now . . . I . . . I miss her, and fear that she feels that I have failed her somehow . . . with I still alive while two children and her mate have now fallen,” but that was something Fingon could never dwell on long, and he passed aside his confession quickly - for his own sake, more so than anything else. Maedhros, thinking of Nerdanel in the West, could empathize in a small way, wondering how his mother still had all seven sons alive where Anairë . . . and even Eärwen had lost . . .
. . . but those deaths were still new to his heart, and he could not quite comprehend them.
“I miss Turvo, too, so much that it's as a pain. If he were here I'd abdicate to him in a second – he always was more like Amil, with his calm head and his clever sensibilities. He could hold the scepter of the Noldor, and I could continue to general his troops - together we could be quite unstoppable. Yet . . . Thorondor . . . Thorondor brought Atar's body to Gondolin, did you know?” Fingon's words were sharp and staccato, as if they were painful to hold upon his tongue and needed to be uttered quickly so as to not suffer a wound from their bite. “Morgoth . . . Morgoth would not relinquish his body after the duel, and he intended . . . but the Eagles saved what was left, even if they did not return him to Mithrim. I . . . I do not know how I feel about that, not truly; I miss Turvo, and at the same time I hate him for leaving like a thief in the night, he and Irissë too . . . She was always such a presence . . . such a heat, and I did not appreciate her – or either of them, really - until they were gone. Irissë . . . she was so, so bright, and to feel her dim and wan before just winking out entirely . . .
“She . . . she has a son, did you know?” Fingon was mumbling by then, his muffled words like poison bubbling up from a wound. But he could not quite hold his speech inside when he had stifled his voice for much too long, and quietly Maedhros listened, saying nothing in reply where no words could quite be spoken.
“He is that monster's son,” Fingon bared his teeth in a fey gesture, “but he is hers too . . . a part of her, still living while she does not. I've never met him, though, and I do not know if I ever shall – Turvo won't leave wherever he is hidden, not even for Atar's funeral, nor for my coronation . . . not with the remnants of the Bragollach still burning around us. And I . . . I miss them. I miss them as I miss my father, and . . .” But his voice caught between his teeth, and finally, he forced himself to complete his thought, “I admit that I never knew Arakáno well enough to truly miss him. Those last days in Aman . . . I was shocked that my parents decided to have a child, though I understand now that he was a light in a dark time for them . . . For my part, there was so much on my mind following Fëanor's exile . . . and you accompanying him . . . I then thought that I had forever to get to know my brother. I did not know him well enough to love him beyond merely loving that he was my brother . . . and that haunts me . . . it hurts me to admit, more so than anything else, I think.”
After that, Fingon held his mouth tightly closed, and Maedhros felt that place he held in his spirit beat with a dull, listless pain. His eyes fell half closed, as if their lids were too heavy to hold open as he peered into some memory far beyond where Maedhros could reach. After exhaling, he reached for his second bottle of wine and took a long draw of the red liquid within. He merely stared at the green glass following, frowning as the strong vintage did but little to dull his pain.
“The Valar were right, you know,” Fingon muttered softly, so softly that Maedhros strained to hear him. “This is a cursed land and we all will fall, one by one, until, someday, there will be not a one of us left standing against the Shadow. That is our true curse, our true doom: that we fight and rage and dare to think that we can triumph against the dying of the light. It's that wanting, that hope that truly poisons us in the end, and I've tired of tasting it.” Fingon gave a low, mirthless chuckle, and took another swallow of wine, as if he had just completed a toast.
And Maedhros watched him, feeling his own heart twist to know that Fingon's grief spiraled downwards and throbbed as an open wound. He was so used to Fingon being an anchor against the consuming maelstrom of his own thoughts, standing tall and positive against his own visions of the future. But now . . . he squared his jaw to say quietly, strongly into the dark, “You may think your head ill suited to the task, but there is not a better one of us to wear Grandfather's crown.”
“Says he who was the best candidate for the kingship,” Fingon snorted to say, his eyes flashing with a white heat. “It killed me to see you abdicate your title that day, pressing your head to the floor and swearing fealty as you gave away the right that was yours by birth. You looked more a king, bowing and plaintive and all skin and bones from Angband and not a wound done healing completely, than my father ever did in all his glory . . . Atar thought so too, and that day ever sat ill with him . . . for you were not Fëanor, whom he would have delighted in seeing so humbled . . . you were his brother-son, trying desperately for redemption and peace between our families, and he hated the need for that day.”
“You know why I had to,” Maedhros muttered, frowning as he recalled abdicating his title, remembering the mingled relief and guilt that his decision had brought him - both then and now. “Without the Noldor united together, as a whole, then our Oath stood not a chance of ever being fulfilled. And, for that Oath . . .” his words tapered off. He could not speak, but he knew that Fingon understood; for this was a conversation they often uttered.
“You may think that you do not have the best interests of the Noldor, or Endórë as a whole, at heart, and yet -” Fingon began.
“ - I cannot be trusted to do so, it is as simple as that,” Maedhros interrupted, honesty leaving a bitter taste within his mouth. “Not while . . .” he tried to form his words, but could not quite manage to speak. His right wrist burned with a phantom pang as he thought about Morgoth with his father's Silmarils blazing from his crown. No matter the ruin of his body during those dark years in Angband, his Oath had tried to move his hands to claim, to seize, fighting broken limbs and shredded tissue and ruined ligaments in order to take, even then – prompting the Dark Vala to laugh in delight, each and every time he was close enough to touch. Even now he could feel his vow pool in his heart and light a dark heat under his lungs, making it difficult to breathe, to sit in peace and comfort his friend as the beast of his promise howled and demanded to be sated – caring not of the higher reasoning of his mind, much as it ever had.
But, even in his own grief, Fingon leaned over to place a hand on his right shoulder, and for a moment, the echoing pain in his hand did not seem to consume him as he felt a familiar, validating warmth echo through his spirit – no matter that Fingon himself then had but little of his own light to share.
“For now, your Oath and the vanquishing of Morgoth run hand in hand, they exist side by side, and every step your take to retrieve what was stolen from your kin will only benefit the people toiling in this land,” Fingon did not quite agree with his more cynical thoughts – he never did. Even though Fingon could glimpse the chains binding his soul, he merely frowned at the darkness waiting for the failing of his words, ever believing that whatever was good about his heart would prove enough to render the gaping maw of his Oath powerless when it truly mattered. Even now he only tightened his jaw to say, “You know that I have always held you to be stronger than the words you spoke. You swore a vow, true, but it is to you to see how that vow is fulfilled; I trust the strength of your spirit to know that you will do so honorably in the days to come. There will not be another Alqualondë to your hands, and for that long ago day your deeds of valor in this land have seen an equalizing; this I have to believe.”
Even so, Maedhros could not quite share his easy faith, his unfaltering belief, knowing that, even then, for the Silmarils that were wrenched from his family at price of his grandfather's blood he would . . .
. . . but he closed his eyes for a long moment, and forced that part of his spirit to settle, to still. He needed none of those black thoughts; not then, not when . . .
“And, what's more than that, I have claimed being the morose one this eve,” Fingon at last gave an exaggerated scowl, his thoughts running much alongside Maedhros' own. “Do not take that right from me, or else I shall be most cross.”
“I would not dare,” Maedhros responded after a heartbeat, collecting himself once more. He reached over to pick up the crown again, frowning as he reflected over its differences to the one Finwë wore so long ago. The metals of Endórë were weightier, and its pressure threatened to bruise the head that wore it.
Even so: “You honor your father, and our grandfather, by doing this,” Maedhros finally said after the passing of a long moment. When he turned the crown, it caught the faint dancing of the candlelight, and reflected it tenfold. “Finwë would have been proud of you, and I . . . I can think of no one else I would rather bow my head and swear fealty to. You love our people, and your heart is valiant; your counsel will only guide the Noldor for the better, I believe. And when you think your burden to be too much, remember that you are not alone – I will not leave your side should you have need of me. In anything.”
Fingon looked at him, and for the first time Maedhros thought that he truly saw him in the dark throne-room. This time, Maedhros was the one to reach over and take his right hand in his own, tightening his grip and letting Fingon feel him there as an anchor – as the sword and a shield that he was more than ready to be. Fingon's mouth pulled in a slow, resigned smile, and finally he sighed.
“You have me at a stalemate, then,” Fingon shrugged to say, though the gesture was easier than it would have been just moments ago. “Between your belief and mine, we shall just have to see which one is proven true in the years to come.”
He was, Maedhros knew, not only speaking about the kingship. In reply, he fought away his frown, and merely inclined his head, unwilling to give voice to his darker thoughts and somber certainties. They did not have any place then.
“Still . . . is not too late to offer Artanis the crown?” after a long moment, Fingon posed his question. He tilted his head, clearly liking the idea all the more so as he thought about it. “We would have to bend a few laws, of course, but all would benefit from her rule, I believe.”
“You know, the war against Angband would be over in a fortnight if you did so,” Maedhros allowed, raising a brow in exaggerated thoughtfulness.
“She could stare Morgoth into submission,” Fingon gave with an exaggerated shudder. “He would fall on his knees and weep before her if she but glared.”
“She can pay for the siege by instituting a tax for anyone with sub-par brilliance to their hair,” Maedhros theorized, tapping his chin as he pondered.
“And she may fine Moriquendi slurs as she sees fit – though only a few of your brothers' purses would be able to suffer such a rule, I fear,” Fingon's smile slanted to say.
“All the better for me would Artanis wearing the crown be if she could successfully knock some sense into my kin,” Maedhros could not help but snort. “It would do well by them.”
His words had the desired effect: Fingon smiled, broadly and truly. The expression reached his eyes, and set the stormy grey colour awash with white storm-light. The expression only dimmed but slightly when he reached over the pick up Finwë's reconstructed crown. Fingon turned the circlet over, and tapped a fingertip against the largest sapphire in the center, heaving a sigh as he did so.
“It is a terribly gaudy thing, is it not?” his voice was careful blank, and the reflected light from the jewels danced over his skin and caught in the black of his hair like stars.
“It is the crown of the Noldor,” Maedhros shrugged to say, as if that should answer everything. “And you shall wear it well.”
Fingon's mouth pressed into a thin line, and with slow hands he reached up to put the crown atop his head. He squared his shoulders against the weight and tilted up his chin so that the circlet did not weigh his head down. Maedhros blinked at the sight he presented, seeing a shadow of Fingolfin, of Finwë, even, though he knew that Fingon would never view himself in such a way.
When Fingon reached up to take off the crown, his movements were even slower, and his fingertips were white against the glittering metal. All he said was, “It is heavy.”
For that, Maedhros had nothing to say . . . in one way, or another.
Instead, Maedhros went to pick up the forgotten bottle of wine by its neck. Fingon watched him, and said with a forced levity to his voice, “If you intend on taking that away from me, best would it be if you too took your leave.”
Maedhros snorted, and ruefully admitted, “I was going to drink to your kingship, actually.” He then took a long draw of the wine, fighting not to make a face for its strong flavor. Such a vintage was not made for gulping, but it was what they had available to them at the moment. “May your rule ease the burdened shoulders of the Noldor in Exile, and fight back the Shadow for as long as your reign may be.”
“ . . . for as long as my reign may be,” Fingon echoed before taking his turn with the bottle. He took a long swallow of the wine, and they continued to drink in silence as the night closed around them.
Oh the vividness of the scene! The details about the lighting and the quiet is totally tangible.
The conversation is so eloquent, poignant, and so umphy with self-doubts on the one hand and reciprocal caring and support on the other. I loved the levity there at the end.
Superb use of "Stalemate."
I fully agree with Nyota's Heart
Nyota's Heart: Why thank-you! I'm glad the scene struck you so vividly.
And now, to fill the prompt Rushing headfirst with something a little bit lighter in my Caranthir/Haleth arc . . .
“through your time”
At first, the mushrooms seemed perfectly harmless: green and pale about the caps, a species the Haladin commonly used in their soups and stews, and even ate plain just after cleaning. Haleth did not think anything about gleaning a dozen of the heads to add to their supper that night; rather, she was pleased to have found a way to bolster the rations they had tucked away in their saddlebags until they could return to the settlement once more. Such provisions were an unexpected gift, and she did not think twice before partaking of them.
She was even more pleased to have prepared a dish that Caranthir so clearly enjoyed. It was rare to find him completely absorbed in a meal, without 'helpfully' adding well-meaning suggestions and undisguised critiques for her to use the next time she cooked. Such had produced more than one row between them in the past, and, rather than thinking that his silence was held only to maintain the peace, she could feel his honest enjoyment from the now familiar place he occupied within her mind, so much so that -
- she was surprised when he frowned, placing his wooden bowl down on the stump next to him and grimacing as if pained. She could feel his discomfort roll against their bond; it was something she could not first describe, and made all the more bewildering for the foreignness of such a sensation. Oh, nausea and dizziness were things she was more than familiar with, mortal that she was, but for him . . .
Haleth looked up from where she had been cleaning her tack for the rest of their return journey to Estolad, and frowned, feeling concern prick at her consciousness as a hot needle. Something was not right, and such a sense was one she had long learned to trust in its entirety.
“Carnistir?” she asked outright, her concern colouring her voice more than she first cared to admit. “Are you well?”
But Caranthir did not immediately answer her. Instead, he leaned over to peer at where she had prepped the stew, and frowned to pick up one of the pale green mushrooms. He held a hand to his mouth, and concern flooded through her veins in a reflection of his own sudden burst of unease as he asked, his voice deceivingly calm, “Did you eat any of these?”
“Not yet,” Haleth answered, her own unease taking on a sharp, pressing edge. “I wanted to finish here first,” she gestured down at the gear still laid out before her, muddy from where they had forded a murky river earlier that afternoon, and was further surprised when a wave of relief clearly washed over his features – she could feel it as a warm blanket over her own senses, and it only further added to her unease. “Why?” she asked, suspicion forming a horrible intuition within her mind. “What is wrong? Are they . . .” but her mouth tripped on her words, and she could not finish her thought.
“Poisonous?” Caranthir helpfully provided where she yet could not. “Yes, quite. Morgoth's bonnet, my folk call them – they, rather alarmingly, resemble other edible mushrooms, yet they are truly . . .” but he winced and buckled over, clearly in pain. She could see where his brow beaded with sweat, and, alarmed, she pushed the tack aside from her lap and darted to his place by the campfire. When she pressed the heel of her hand to his forehead, his skin was alarmingly hot to the touch. It was feverish.
“But, you . . .” she could not find her suddenly stuttering words, for he was elven, the fair folk did not take sick, they did not do anything as terribly mortal as run fevers, they -
“ - are still suspect to poison,” Caranthir all but chirped in response to her innermost thoughts. Even underneath the foreign substance she could feel flood his system, turning his bond with her edged with a sickly sensation that she could only describe as color - pale yellow and vaporous green – she feel his relief that she did not share his plight, and it was making him giddy. “But not fatally so . . . it will just be a vastly uncomfortable time for me while my body heals itself. If you had eaten them . . .” but he swallowed, and she knew what he meant to say without his finding the words.
Even so, her fear was a wild, leaping thing in her heart, and for a moment she could not breathe. If this poison was strong enough to have killed her, then he, no matter how fey he was . . .
It was silly, ridiculous even, for something as trifle as a fungus to take them, one from the other, so soon, and she let her anger and annoyance at the unfairness of fate's ways to spur her into action. Before he was too far gone to be insensible, she set out his bedroll over her own for extra comfort on the hard ground, and helped him over to the place she had prepared – trying all the while not to be alarmed by how easily he let himself succumb to her mothering. When asked what she could do to help, he asked only for water to help flush his system out faster, and assured her that his body would be fine without further aid. A distant thought within his mind, one that she was sure he had not intended to share, whispered that another Elf, one versed in Song, could be of aid, but, beyond that . . .
Once again, their differences were stark between them, as noon set apart from night, and Haleth swallowed away a sudden rush of black thought – one that she did not want weighing her down while he had need of her. She would not. Not then.
For, as predicted, the next forty-eight hours were what she could only describe as miserable for Caranthir. He sweated profusely, and his fever had him shaking from hot to cold and back again. His stomach heaved and recoiled as it fought the foreign substance from his system, and she helped him through the more ungraceful aspects of his body expelling the poison from his being with as much dignity and tenderness as she could. More than once, when she had been struck low by the failings of her own body during their years together, she had found shame and discomfort in his aiding her through her trials, but now she wondered how she had ever felt so when their roles were reversed. Perhaps, in a black moment or two during her previous sicknesses, she had even wished such hardships on him so that he could better understand her discomfort with his aid, but now she swallowed such unkind musings away and wished that she had never dared to tempt Vairë into such a weaving. It hurt her to see him brought so low, with everything that was so untouchably fey and ethereally more about him stripped away and left miserable and bare before her now.
As much as possible, she did her best to turn her darker thoughts away, instead passing what comfort and soothing peace she could to him through their bond. When he was done sweating and shaking through the worst of it, she curled up by his side when the night turned cool, running her fingers through the tangled mass of his hair and humming against his skin, knowing that she was not one of the fabled Singers, but hoping to provide what comfort she could.
That evening, when it finally seemed as if he was merely sleeping – and, at last, she could feel no untoward pain or lingering discomfort from his mind - Haleth did her best to help him clean up from his ordeal. By then she well knew how fastidious he was about tending to his own hygiene – she'd dared to call him a peacock on more than one occasion, and for good reason - and with that thought in mind, she carefully cleaned his face with a damp rag, doing her best to erase the grime and oils from his sweating so profusely in the open, muggy late summer air. She was happily taken by her task, not at all minding a chance to observe him without feeling as if she were staring, feeling her heart fill with a silly, girlish appreciation for the Eru-given sculpt of his handsome features and the strong form of his body as she let the rag run down his neck to his collarbone. Gently, she followed the line and hollow it made before running further down his bare chest, quite content to trace the highs and dips of his musculature before -
- a hand gripped her wrist, and she vaguely heard, “That tickles,” as his stomach muscles did indeed flinch away from her well meaning ministrations. She looked up to see Caranthir drowsily blinking, his eyes once again the stormy silver-grey that had first enchanted her, rather than the glazed, fever-bright stare of the last two days.
Something about her relief must have shown on her face, for his hand tightened around her wrist, and she felt where his thumb ran soothingly over the back of her hand. “You should poison me more often,” Caranthir rumbled low in his chest, “I could become used to awakening in such a way.”
She rolled her eyes, but even his attempt at drawing out her humor could not hide the way her chest felt suddenly tight over her lungs, caging her heart with a clenching sensation that she had not the words to name. “You have more than done so for me in our time together,” she pointed out, struggling to keep her voice level with the even plains of logic. “It was simply my turn to take care of you.”
“Mmm,” Caranthir closed his eyes to respond. “Such ministrations have been my pleasure . . . though, I must confess that it is not as enjoyable on the patient's end.”
Haleth snorted to ruefully comment, “The woes of mortality are many, alas.”
“I,” Caranthir grimaced at her words, his cheeks losing some of the healthy colour they had only just regained, “never want another mushroom again.”
“Never?” Haleth raised a brow to return. “That is a long time for you, lord elf.” She could not help the note of teasing that entered her voice, and was further assured – he is alive, he is well, and all will be well – when he gave a low chuckle at her words. She could feel his chest move underneath her fingertips, easy with humor rather than clenching with pain, and she closed her own eyes as she tried to deal with the swelling tide of her relief.
“Well then,” he amended. “Perhaps someday - centuries from now - I will finally consent to eat a mushroom in remembrance of how my lady wife tried to poison me. Yes,” he sighed in an overly dramatic, Fëanorian manner, “perhaps then I will.”
Her relief truly was a consuming thing for her to find amusement over such a bald statement of her mortality, but she could not help herself. She leaned over so that she rested her head against his chest, nearly boneless with knowing that he was well, he was recovered, and gave a silent sort of laugh in reply. A long moment passed with her smiling against his warmth as he ran a soothing hand through her hair, no matter how gritty and in need of a washing it was.
“You had me worried,” Haleth finally whispered against his skin. “I . . .” I thought I would lose you, I thought that I had lost you . . . I never thought I'd have to live with you going first, and I could not bear . . . how will you someday bear . . .
But she could say none of that so easily aloud. Instead, she swallowed her words as if they were stones, and only knew that Caranthir felt her innermost thoughts as his own when he took in a deep breath, and held it. She could feel his lungs expand before he exhaled, long and slow, as if staving off a blow.
“I will not leave you so easily,” Caranthir muttered. She felt his words rumble from his chest and whisper through her mind more than she heard them spoken aloud. “Not ever.”
In reply, she found that she could only close her eyes, sighing into his skin as she tried to recover her own equilibrium, caring but little for how completely rocked on her axis she then was. In reply, she felt Caranthir's hand move from her hair to trail down her back, finding the tense shape of her muscles underneath her skin and kneading almost reflexively. She sighed, and fought the strange burning she could feel behind her eyes as her stress and exhaustion and woes for the future caught up with her all at once, leaving her boneless in their wake.
Until, at last, she felt a note of amusement touch Caranthir's mind as he broke the silence to say, “Though, as much as I was enjoying the sponge bath, you too seem to have fared for the worst while caring for me -”
“ - are you saying that I smell?” Haleth lifted her head to narrow her eyes at him. His eyes met her gaze almost cheekily in reply, all but faerie-like with the mischievousness she could see glinting within.
“I am saying,” Caranthir continued as if she had not spoken, clearly uncaring of her ire – much as he ever was, “that there is a perfectly acceptable lake not far from here. And, if you are worried about my recovery, I could there prove - ”
She swatted at his chest, and rolled her eyes to say, “You are incorrigible.”
“Or,” he returned pleasantly, his hand still lazily following the dips of her spine, “I am merely happy to be alive, and with you.”
Haleth could not hold her ire in the face of his earnestness, which he knew – and his smile only grew as she ducked her head to hide the girlish sort of blush that rose to darken her cheeks. She swatted his chest again for good measure when she felt his muscles seize and retract as he tried to stifle a laugh.
“To clean up only,” she finally said as she sat up, regretfully removing herself from the warm comfort of his embrace. “You are still healing, Carnë, and I'll not nurse you a second time.”
“But,” he pointed out practically, “I am a child of Aman, you'd be surprised at how fast the Firstborn heal.” He sat up, and she watched as the inky strands of his hair fell unbound over his shoulders, highlighting where his abdominal muscles contracted with his every movement. Beams of red light from the sun's descent above the forest canopy streamed down through the trees to play over his skin, emphasizing the inhumanness that was so tightly leashed in all that he did, true creature of Arda that he was. The storm-light of his eyes was just barely veiled by his long lashes and the line of his mouth was a sensuous smirk, all too dangerously graceful and . . . himself after so recently knowing the sickbed, so much so that she -
- but Haleth carefully put a lid on her own wayward mind, and only rolled her eyes to say, “Don't push your luck, Fëanorian.”
She pointedly ignored his smile as she turned to find the pack carrying their toiletries, and swung it over her shoulder. Once she was sure of her composure, she then reached down to help him to his feet, happy to tuck herself into his side underneath the pretense of aiding him with his balance should he have need of her. This close, she could hear his heartbeat – strong and steady and eternal – and she let its cadence sooth her as they headed down to the lake.
Even elves cannot eat all. Love how she was caring for him
Yum! SQUEE! A delightful use of rushing headfirst.
Read "CXXXV" Steady
Too long since I have read Tolkein to say how you compare. Your writings however are several cuts above amateur, flowing and full of descriptive words that describe the environment and thoughts of the protagonist.
Very hard to identify the races of your protagonists within the writing itself, I find.
With my own elf, roleplaying one from Everquest within the GFFA, there are frequent enough direct references to mine being an elf; but yours have to be identified by clues like an episode of CSI - here, there are subtley superior views on the fleetness of Men, and how their settlements don't appear on Elven maps.
The original piece of yours that I read last night, and today I cannot find, because on my phone, your thread contents look alike - protagonist and his mates escort Human families down a big tree and through woods to an underground base - feels almost physical pain at the Black Tongue; can tell the exhaustion of Men by their boots scraping the ground; and is handy with a bow and arrow - he and his people are not identified except by reference to a key that I might have missed.
Wonderful descriptives of the forest and trees.
Great writings, both pieces. You are very comfortable in this universe, and convey with a few short sentences - tending horses, braiding hair - quite the idyllic life, then BAM, we're moving around because someone is kidnapping the children!
BTW, if you know where the kids are, and you ever fancy staging a crossover rescue before young king Erenoin can muster a force; call my elf, Yavscout...we wouldn't stand for that **** in Everquest!
Lovely stuff. I will definitely have to read more of your work.
By the bye, way easier to read than The Silmarrillion. I had to abandon that about five pages in, it was so heavy going.
" overly dramatic, Fëanorian manner, " LOL. Very nice mix of the tender and practical aspects of hurt/comfort, my first fanfic love. I'm awaiting a movie version of at least /part/ of The Silmarillion and until then, we have lovely, lovely ficcage to bolster us. An excellent read.
earlybird-obi-wan: At least in this 'verse they can't. Ah, the things we do for plot progression! lol
WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: I have to give you a most belated thanks! I'm glad that you enjoyed that one.
Sith-I-5: Thanks for stopping in! I'm glad that you've enjoyed what you've read here - the Silmarillion is one of my favourite books ever for its sheer scope of characters and massive amount of worldbuilding, but I'll be the first one to confess that I wish it were fully fleshed out novel(s), as the Professor had intended. The 'history-book' style of writing does make for a heavy read at times. I thank you for your compliments, though - which completely made my day, and your critiques, as well - I'll be more aware of making the races clearer in this. Eight times out of ten it's an elf in the Silmarillion, but that's definitely a tip to keep in mind.
pronker: Sometimes that's all there is to say! Those Fëanorians - you gotta love them, even when you hate them. And I'm with you on waiting for a Silmarillion film! My heart will be in my throat when that day comes, but hopefully it will be worth the wait! I thank you for stopping in here, as well. I am glad that you enjoyed what you read.
So, now that it has been forever - this year has been quite the whirlwind, and I am only just now slowing down - I finally have a reply to one of the many NSWFF prompts that I intend to catch up on. To start with, I'm tackling Getting to know you with a short-ish character study of how Curufin and his wife came to be in my 'verse. Because, hey, Celebrimbor had to come from somewhere, you know?
Some handy dandy translations, first:
Fëa & Hröa: 'Soul' and 'Body'
Arda: The physical world
Telperion & Laurelin: The Two Trees, the 'Moon' and 'Sun', respectively.
As always, I thank you all for reading, and I hope that you enjoy.
“the agony and the ecstasy”
For the most part, Curufinwë did not take notice of the ranks of his father's apprentices as they came and went. They were inconsequential to his consideration, fleeting upon the periphery of his vision, and thus a distraction to his own work. Though they each attempted to unlock Aulë's arts to the best of their abilities, they were all, each and every one of them, a pale shadow to the great rise of his own burgeoning fame, cast in the very mirror of his father's likeness as he was. They were merely vessels for the great overflow of Fëanáro's genius, unremarkable and uninspired, attempting to hold the ocean as if in a thimble - for ever did his sire spill over the minds of those he guided until they went their own ways, either for kinder teachers, or independent workshops of their own. It was a cycle but rarely broken.
In short, the simple truth of the matter was that few of them had talent enough to be worth his interest, and fewer still stood out in his mind to be truly memorable beyond the time they spent underneath his father's supervision. Which meant that it was somewhat remarkable that he noticed Lendaner - a son of one of Finwë's foremost lords from Tirion, whom his grandfather had requested (imposed) that his father to take into his fold - more often than not. Though, Curufinwë would remind himself with a sigh that was equal parts exasperation and true vexation, that was no doubt due to the fact that she was seemingly always at her brother's heels, and fast becoming an oddity enough for him to routinely notice.
She was Lelyanis Mestiel, and she accompanied her brother to the workshop nearly every morning, no matter the early hours Fëanáro demanded his apprentices keep. There, she managed to linger with her full smiles and soft, swishing skirts, trailing the faint scent of lilies in her wake, until Fëanáro sternly shooed her away, day in and day out. Nonetheless, without fail, she was there again in the afternoons to bring her brother lunch – when Fëanáro allowed such repast, that was - just as she was there in the evenings to walk her brother back home in the city proper. Curufinwë, who could not even imagine Tyelko doing the same for him, did not understand the strange sort of bond between the siblings, and when he shared his observations with his brother, he was surprised for the wry sort of amusement his bafflement garnered.
“She does such for her brother?” Tyelkormo repeated, raising a white-gold brow as if delighted by his deduction. “Is that truly what you think?”
“What am I supposed to think?” Curufinwë found his voice sharpening, his ire stoked for the implication that his powers of reason were somewhat lacking in any way. (As Fëanáro's would never be, even for something so inconsequential as this.)
“Open those eyes of yours for something besides so superbly echoing our father's greatness,” Tyelkormo nonetheless drawled, pitching his last five words to uncannily mimic the cultured accents adopted by the Noldorin lords of Tirion. He seemed to be immune to his own growing temper as he reached over to tug on one of his braids (perfectly symmetrical and twined just as their father preferred his). “Actually look, Curvo, and then tell me that it is her brother she so caters to.”
Curufinwë still did not understand, but he would not lower himself by asking that his brother explain himself further. Instead, he decided to do just that: he would keep his eyes open. He watched, and, clinically, he compiled his observations.
Lelyanis may have accompanied her brother every morning, but she was rarely by his side for longer than a moment, Curufinwë noticed. Instead, she cordially greeted the other apprentices – there were four of them at this point – and politely wished them well on their efforts that day. Most mornings she brought warm pastries and fresh fruit, and her doing so made her a favourite with the other students. And yet . . .
“Here, Curufinwë,” she greeted him with a smile that morning. It was a soft expression that placed dimples in her cheeks and a sparkle in her eyes - queerly so, he thought. “I noticed that you prefer blueberries,” she pitched her voice low as if to tempt him into accepting her gift, “I chose these ones especially for you.”
In the back of his mind, he heard something that suspiciously sounded like Tyelkormo laughing, and, baffled, he could not think of an excuse to refuse her offering. For, it was true. Blueberries were his favourite.
They were his father's too, and Fëanáro only scowled for a moment less than usual when he took one of the pastries for himself before demanding that Lelyanis be on her way.
The look she flashed over her shoulder before she departed was even more bemusing, Curufinwë thought. She did not meet any pair of eyes other than his, and, for a moment, he noticed the way the Treelight caught in her gaze before he dismissed her from his thoughts and turned his attention to his work for the day.
And so, the pattern continued. She constantly brought gifts, just as she was constantly there to chatter in his ear about matters of little consequence - inquiring after his work and blithely gleaning what she could about his likes and dislikes from the scant threads of conversation she was able to wheedle in reply. He would only ever speak enough to be politely able to ask that she leave him be, and yet she always returned for more of his time, day in and day out.
More befuddling was the way she attired herself for the soot and heat of Fëanáro's workrooms. She wore heavy falls of brightly colored, ornate fabrics, the same as she would for standing in his grandfather's throneroom. Her blue-black hair was ever adorned with silver nets, studded with gems, and her ears were always studded with rings from lobe to fey tip, just as she wore rings on mostly ever finger in the way of the Noldorin court. She held herself with a noblewoman's elegance and poise, different, he thought, from both the strong earthiness of his mother and the sleek, hunter's bow of coiled grace that was cousin Irissë – each of whom, admittedly, were his only close acquaintances amongst the fairer sex. She reminded him of the swans from Alqualondë, some distracted corner of his mind reflected, for there were often times when he found his attention stolen by the elegant spirals of silver coiled around her neck, the skin there smooth and pale and without blemish. He found his own work cast with a similar such elegance the day he mentally put that observation into words, and when he realized that the gems he filled with light perfectly matched the dark grey of her eyes . . .
“You will dirty your gown here,” he found himself snapping, the day following that particular revelation. His blood felt hot and quick in his veins, and his fists clenched as if he stood before a foe in arms, rather than a woman wearing a spill of silk and gems.
“I worry not for it,” Lelyanis waved a hand, the gesture as smooth as a breeze – as if the soot and metallic shavings surrounding her would be held to obedience beneath the indomitable arch of her brow. There was something teasing in the line of her mouth when she admitted, “Besides, what is the good of applying Aulë's grace if not to enjoy the fruits of such artistry? For enjoy them I do.”
It took him a moment – a long moment – for him to realize that she fiddled with one ring in particular on her left hand. A twining, ivy-like piece with a silver-blue stone as its setting. It was, he dimly recalled (for he rarely looked back on the past when he instead saw what he would create next, ever grasping to be his sire's equal as he was), one of his earliest pieces, crafted when his father was just teaching him how to pour light into glass. Then, he had only seen how far he was from crafting the likes of the Silmarils, and yet . . .
“Your father included this as a gift alongside one of my father's commissioned pieces,” she admitted. “Yet, I knew that it was not Fëanáro's hand who formed it. Even so, it remains one of my favourite pieces.” She looked at him from underneath draped lashes, as if trying to tell him something without words, and yet Curufinwë merely shrugged at her opinion of his work, unimpressed. He would not argue taste – it was either something one possessed or did not, and he did not much care to continue his conversation with her. For she was standing in his light, and he found himself taken by an idea as he looked away from the long, raven's wing spill of her hair. Already the schematics of its birth were fast consuming his mind, and he needed . . .
Lelyanis watched him for a time, though he could not tell when she departed, taken by the flow of molten silver he was manipulating to run in spiraling, elegant rivers. Lost in his own mind, he gave up his senses of time and space as he instead concentrated on the heat of his fëa, rising up to spill though his pores in a tangible play of incandescent light. The great sea of fire within him, bequeathed by the inferno of his father's soul, bubbled up like molten earth tearing through cracks in the crust of Arda's mantle, and he let that heat consume him. He welcomed it, until -
- he frowned to see Tyelkormo standing over him, a hand pushing on his shoulder and his brow troubled as he entreated to break him from his haze, “It is already nearing dawn, Curvo. This is too late, even for you.”
Curufinwë glanced, and saw that the shadows outside of the workshop were long, with only the faintest of Telperion's glow to be seen as she readied to give her dominant place in the night sky away to her sister. He blinked, feeling where his fëa had risen to paint his gaze with white fire. His eyes were strained as the fey glow retreated, the orbs left dry and burning as his vision returned to normal. There was seemingly a vice clamped about his head, leaving a violent throbbing behind in his temples. He flexed his hands, seeing where he had handled the still hot silver with his bare skin without burning - one with the fire and all but drunk on the consuming whirl of creation as he had been, just moments ago. He had seen his father taken in similar such trances more than once, and yet few had been the times he had been able to slip into such a state himself. And this . . .
Tyelkormo regarded him with a curious eye before looking down to the intricate hairnet he had created – with soft blue-white gems, mimicking Varda's stars, held together by a firmament of impossibly delicate strands of twined silver. It was a master's work, the labor of weeks instead accomplished in a day's time, drenched with celestial brilliance as it was – the likes of which he had never been able to achieve before. It was beautiful, even his critical inner eye admitted, and he knew a moment's wonder for the creation of his hand. (For an even briefer moment, he wondered if his father, too, would know satisfaction for his work. Satisfaction . . . and thus pride in the hand who had birthed it.)
It would - this he noticed more distantly, flatter her exceedingly well, just as the gems also matched -
“ - you, brother,” unerringly, Tyelkormo's voice punctuated his erstwhile thoughts, “are hopeless.” His grin was a trite too wide for Curufinwë's tastes, and, haughtily, he looked away from him.
“I,” Curufinwë thrust his nose into the air to say, “have no idea what you mean.”
“Of course not,” Tyelkormo patted his shoulder. “But you are a dead weight on your feet, Curvo. Come, you need to turn in for the night. You're already going to be impossible as a bear when you manage to pull yourself out of bed.”
Unfortunately, Curufinwë could feel the truth of his brothers words – though he'd admit it to no one. He was already loath to notice where the outpouring of his fëa and his ceaseless hours of work had strained the weaker shell of his hröa to the point of debility and exhaustion. The admittance of his weakness was as to press down on a bruise, knowing that his father could – and had, all too often – gone for entire weeks in similar such fey hazes. What Fëanáro could accomplish without blinking, he, meanwhile, struggled to . . .
But that was a thought for the morrow – with the new day already breaking as it was. He had no room left for his conscious mind as he instead followed Tyelkormo's instructions for a quick meal and a fair amount of water before he was forced to bed. His sleep was sunk him into a deep, black oblivion as the dawn lighted the sky, punctuated only by the glittering of Varda's stars . . . and the matching brilliance of her eyes, playing across his dreams.
An intricate tale
to make such beautiful gems for a lady sure is nice
Oh how I adore on the brink - noticing each other fics. And of course yours is unparalleled. Gorgeous artistry and a lovely and gentle recipient is Lelyanis whose name falls from my lips like water over stones. LOL The lyricalness is catching.
earlybird-obi-wan: Aw, thanks! I know, that's a gift I wouldn't mind us plain human folk having more of.
WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: Why thank-you! At first it was a bit tricky to write Curufin into the 'not realizing he's falling' role, as I usually write him as the harshest of Fëanor's sons . . . or, the most emotionally detached, perhaps that would be the better way to put it? But, there's someone for everyone, and I did enjoy coming up with Lelyanis and their story. I'm glad you enjoyed!
But now for more, with the In Bloom prompt - this time, with three ficlets focusing on the survivors of Doriath.
“blooming you shall always be”
The flight of the Sindar from Doriath had been the long, harrowing journey of a desperate, heartsick people in the dead of winter, with Galadriel's main host of survivors leaving Menegroth only by Maedhros' leave, heading to where she could feel her husband's presence deep in the wood, sheltering the last daughter of Thingol's line and the Silmaril she held. Along the way, they were joined by those who had heedlessly fled from the panic and violence of the Second Kinslaying, and together they followed the Sirion river south, pulled by some knowing in Galadriel's heart to align their steps with the river until it poured into the sea. On some days, as when her people left the comforting eaves of their trees behind for the grasslands beyond the Falls of Sirion, Galadriel was reminded of the Helcaraxë and its barren, indomitable glory. All too easily could she close her eyes and recall the way the light had warped over the plains of ice in spectacular displays of clear blue and deep violet, just as she could ever remember the ominous churning of the sea beneath their feat, sounding its warning dirge across the length of the frozen bridge.
But Beleriand, for all the coldness of the season, was no match for that icy tundra – not truly. Eventually, when her people found a safe-haven in Nan-Tathren to rest before pushing onwards, the first signs of the still distant spring were waiting there to be found.
She awakened early one morning to sit by the banks of the Sirion river where it was joined by the rushing waters of the Narog, the power of the current breaking through the ice shelving it as the two waterways coursed together and mingled. The willow trees on the shoreline were lazy, billowing specters in the hazy morning light, and their long fronds danced to a somber song that she was yet too weary to reach out and fully hear. Though, Galadriel somberly reflected as she took in the silence of the dawn and the soft murmur of the awakening camp, she had not truly slept the night before - with Elwing's fell dreams in the night quite keeping her from finding any rest of her own. She herself had no wish to see what dreams Irmo had to grant her, and so, she kept vigil over her new ward until the dawn before leaving Elwing in peace to follow the path the water took -
- there was a whisper of a step behind her, interrupting her thoughts. She tensed at the sound of another approaching her while her back was turned – an instinct she had foolishly allowed to slumber during her years of contentment, during her years of peace and happiness within the Hidden Kingdom, and now -
- but she turned, and relaxed when she felt the tell-tale brush of her husband's presence against her spirit, returning her to her calm. Her spine lost its line of steel; her fingers relaxed themselves from their fists as she found where Celeborn, as ever, walked with a silent stride to where she sat by the river. There, held in his hand, she was curious to notice . . .
. . . a small, cone shaped flower with a pretty, blue-violet bell and a bright flare of yellow-orange color where it stemmed. A crocus, Galadriel recognized, raising a pale brow as her husband came to a stop before her. No matter that his robes were plain for travel and his soft boots had seen better days, he bowed as regally as he would have in Thingol's court to say, “For you, my lady.”
Galadriel only arched her brow higher, puzzled, until he explained, “They grow further downstream . . . the first blooms of the season.”
He did not have to say anything more than that . . . she understood. Though she spoke nothing aloud in answer, she nonetheless moved the heavy mane of her hair over her shoulder in an invitation, beckoning. When her husband leaned down to delicately tuck the flower behind her ear, his touch was gentle as he traced the line of her neck, up and across her jaw to softly pass his thumb underneath the shape of her mouth. There was a playfulness in his gaze that she had not seen in much to long - since before Maedhros' first letter came to Dior, during the last days of summer, Galadriel knew without reflecting. She let herself fill on the look, she let it move her as the slumbering ground was even now touched by the approaching spring and thought:
South indeed. There would they find more than the crocus flowers blooming anew.
The new Queen of the Sindar was at once a woman timid and fierce, young in years but yet old in heart from the burden of her days . . . at least, she was to Celebrimbor's unfamiliar gaze, for little did he know Elwing Dioriel but from bits and pieces of gossip and news he'd heard escape from Sirion.
His first time meeting the woman - still just a girl, really - he was called into Gil-galad's council to speak on some matter or the other when the Sindar joined the High-king on the Isle of Balar to discuss relations between their peoples. His mouth had spoken, but his eyes had been quick to occupy his mind as he found the pale creature with night-dark hair sitting at Gil-galad's right hand – the shade there darker than any of the Noldor heads he knew, even his own, as if the night itself had been arraigned about her head and the twilight netted in her eyes . . . in Lúthien's eyes, he recognized. Though she held her head up high in an imitation of Thingol, she seemed nearly weighed down by the mantle of her crown, and the gaze she turned on him looked to be caught between a rabbit's need to run and the unflinching, warning might of a wolf at moon-rise. As with most of the Sindar, she held a nearly tangible feeling of fey about her being, for less wise and more faerie-hearted were their cousins from the forests, who had never seen the light of the Trees - and neither wished to - Celebrimbor thought.
He finished speaking, yet even when he did so, her eyes followed him with a haunting combination of repressed fear and carefully leashed loathing. He did not need to ponder overly much to discern why she felt as such. His kin – though they were kin of his no longer, by his own decree, long ago – had done her and hers a great evil. Taking her father . . . her mother . . . her brothers . . . all in one fell stroke . . . he could not comprehend such a loss, such a blow survived by so young a spirit as hers had been.
As ever, he flinched to imagine his uncles capable of such a great evil . . . for Celegorm, who had always been inclined to lusty laughter and once dubbed his favorite for the love he bore his father . . . and Caranthir, with his dark, cutting tongue ever covering his warmth and generosity . . . and Maglor, who was always ready with a song, ever ready to commune with the Song as his spirit was . . . Maedhros, whom he had looked up to as if he were Ainu-blooded, nearly as much as he had his own father . . . his father . . . It was a thought he could not quite complete within his mind, even well knowing the unthinkable actions their Oath was able to inspire if they believed doing as such could reclaim what was theirs. For three such flames to just flicker and disappear for such a fruitless quest . . . and to take with them so many of Thingol's folk . . .
It was shame that had him wishing to hang his head before Elwing's accusing gaze, but it was the knowledge that he had long distanced his feet from his family's path that had him looking up and meeting the young queen's eyes without flinching. After a long, poignant moment of holding her gaze, she looked away. She did not look his way again.
It was not until the next time they met, at the winter solstice – a painful time of year for her folk, where they traded gifts and smiled and celebrated as they had for centuries, but yet hung their heads and remembered their lost home, with each one of the Sindar taking their time amongst the birch-wood to sing to the losses the trees knew in far-off eaves. It was a day of remembrance and sorrow, but filled with the joyful determination of a people ready to live life anew. And so, it was with that last thought in mind that he left Gil-galad's side to approach the Sindarin queen. She was at first clearly wary of his doing so, with the yellow-haired boy by her side – Idril's son, Celebrimbor recognized – stepping forward as if to stop his progress before Elwing held a hand up, allowing him near.
“Fëanorian,” was her only greeting. She did not incline her head, and her eyes were absent of any welcome – void of any warmth. In the low, musical lilt of her voice, Celebrimbor could hear an echo of Lúthien, touched by something deeper, something a part of him imagined was all Thingol reaching out to grant the soul of his heir his strength and indomitable will.
He did not speak to her greeting - to her accusation, really – knowing that any words he gave to correct her would be but little heard, and even less appreciated. Instead, he reached into his robes to withdraw the gift he had crafted for her. He had decided against a ware made of metal or stone, for he knew that she would little welcome anything forged by his hand - and, besides the Silmaril, the Sindar had not of the Noldorin appreciation for beautiful things crafted in the ways of Aulë, at that. Instead . . .
Elwing took the small, carefully wrapped package from him with after a moment's hesitation. Her eyes did not leave his own as she drew the string binding the box away, and revealed within . . .
A flower, a perfect bloom of niphredil that pulsed with a pale glow of white life from within. He had infused the glass cased petals the same as he would fill an empty gem with light, granting it an immortality, of sorts, in a living, solemn reminder of what was lost from Doriath. It was a small token, not nearly equal to the depths of his regret and sorrow, and yet . . .
“This is not nearly enough to replace what you have lost. Yet, but it is a little good that I may give you from my hand,” Celebrimbor found himself drawing his words deep from the well of his spirit, trying to convey that for which there was no speech . . . no apology that could ever be spoken . . . not truly.
Elwing bowed her head, and though he saw her take in a deep breath, no tears touched her eyes. She refused to allow herself such a mourning in front of him. Instead, she touched a careful hand to the delicate white petals and said only, “I thank you, Master-smith.” She would offer no further benediction than that.
Slowly, she closed the flower away, and turned to leave before he could attempt his words again. Perhaps, besides the small, blooming thing she held in the palm of her hand, there was truly nothing more to say.
He could not coax Lúthien's niphredil to grow in the Havens of Sirion.
Truly, Thranduil would not admit his attempting to do so to any who asked him. The seeds they had left to plant were precious and few, and he had already wasted too many in an attempt to coax into being that which was clearly not meant to be. Sirion was too warm, too open to the sun through the thin canopy, no matter how deep into the birch-wood he went. There was not of the long shadows cast by the ancient beech trees of Doriath; there was not the memory of starlight to be found in this forest. Too heavy did the sea hang in the air, ever carrying the scent of salt, and the soil was too loose with sand to aid the growth of such a bloom.
Still he tried, with a fey stubbornness too deeply engrained in his soul to allow him to concede defeat so easily. He persisted, season in and season out, planting the seeds in the deepest shade of the wood and bowing his head, singing the coaxing songs of Yavanna and praying that she turn her eye and bless his efforts. Yet, no matter how he attempted to do so, his efforts were fruitless. He could not mark their new home with Lúthien's memory, no matter how he tried.
One day, he was sitting before the soil that he had watered, even while knowing that the seeds slept, unmoving in their grave of soil. He felt not a spark of new life from the ground, and the birch tree he had so carefully chosen swayed sadly in the sea-wind overhead, whispering of the slumbering little ones she had promised to watch for him. He placed his hand to the bark, acknowledging the old trees efforts and sorrowfully confessing that, perhaps, what he was attempting was simply not meant to be. With Thingol so cruelly slain and Melian sadly departed . . . their daughter having long left the circles of the world behind to follow her husband into the ever-sleep of mortal men . . . a little bit of Middle-earth had died the day Lúthien breathed her last, and he could not return a bit of her grace to the haven her people had since claimed.
He sighed, and was preparing to stand and depart when a low, grave voice spoke behind him, “The niphredil have not bloomed their last on these shores, Oropherion; this I have foreseen.”
Sometimes, the irony of the last of Melian's ways being preserved in Galadriel's Noldorin soul was not lost on Thranduil, and he had learned to trust her strange sense of knowing well. Better, however, did he think of her as Olwë's granddaughter, and thus kin to Thingol and him, rather than the granddaughter of Finwë. It made things easier between them, at times.
Their friendship had been easier between them before Doriath's fall, Thranduil nonetheless confessed, deep within his mind. Then, she was simply Melian's honored apprentice . . . Lúthien's dear friend . . . Celeborn's beloved wife – truly, for bringing his friend and kinsman such happiness, Thranduil too had long accepted the daughter of Finarfin, long before most of the Grey-folk had. And yet, lately . . .
But he swallowed, and chastised himself for his foolishness. Galadriel had lost as much as her adopted people had when the Fëanorians attacked, and once again had she been forced to choose the blood of her mother over the blood of her father. She deserved no ill will on his part, and even the unwanted flicker of such a feeling shamed him. So, he breathed in deep with his hurt and his pain, and let it go with his exhale.
“Have you seen them bloom here?” Thranduil asked, allowing curiosity to shape his voice, rather than any darker an emotion. “Or are my efforts in vain?”
“No,” Galadriel's voice was soft in reply. “This land is not meant for Doriath's memory, and we are not truly succored here; in this place we are meant only to survive until the Shadow in the North retreats. Yet . . . someday, when we return to the forests, I have seen . . .”
Her eyes were blurry, for a moment gazing beyond him and far away. Thranduil was silent, and allowed her her visions without interrupting. She would speak when it was necessary, and he was patient . . . he could wait. Beyond them in the wood, he could hear Celeborn laughing with Elwing's twin sons – introducing the young ones to the forests and teaching them to commune with the souls of the trees, just as their forefathers had at the wakening of the world. Elrond, Thranduil thought with a surge of fond amusement, dedicated himself better to such a learning than Elros, who was even now asking to return to the sea-shore - much as Eärendil had as a child whenever Elwing tried to explain the bond she held with the trees.
And, at last, Galadriel caught his gaze to say, “She is not gone from this land, dear one, not truly . . . and never shall she be.”
Thranduil simply nodded as Galadriel knelt down and covered his hand with her own upon the soil. Her eyes were deep and wise, full of shared sorrow and empathy. So, he drew in a deep breath, resolving to leave his pain and his mourning in the ground with the slumbering seeds. Then, at length he rose to join his friends in introducing Lúthien's heirs to the wood, determined that their ways . . . and their fallen people . . . were remembered for another generation more.
Each scene was so touching and full of a sense of loss, of embracing the present joys, and searching for healing and connectedness.
The literal and figurative bloomings are exquisite!
Better, however, did he think of her as Olwë's granddaughter, and thus kin to Thingol and him, rather than the granddaughter of Finwë. It made things easier between them, at times. I liked how he shaped his own thoughts to foster unity and peace while showing self-awareness of his own shortcomings; it's a rare talent in the elves.
Can I just take a moment to say that I love where you go in these? Because I totally do. So, so do.
love the three stories with the same theme
"waves, ever arriving"
I'm continually awestruck by how you can take a character like Celegorm in this situation, and make him sympathetic. I wasn't eager to go into that head of his, but you made it so worthwhile. Incredible work. It's so very Tolkien - taking an unlovable creature and painting him with such genuine humanity, depth, authenticity, even tenderness. There's much more melodrama than in the portrayal of Smeagol (for example), but then again he is a Feanorion...
As always, the technical skill you have with constrasts, juxtaposing Feanor's crazy sons and their godawful family history against that innocent child who manifests hope for the two Kindred (or three?) in so many ways...your vignettes are always a masterclass in both artistry and feeling.
I think the description "sketches" does not do these justice. They are much more snapshots than your other ficlets, depicting moments or psychological slices rather than mini-dramatic-arcs, but they are so very perfectly rendered. Like little miniature paintings, not sketches!
My favourite of these is, strangely, Blight. I love the characterisation of all three brothers; the crass, casual misogyny and bigotry of one and the condescending, cool, minimalistic courtesy of the other...all your tones and colours are so deftly rendered, every line pitch-perfect. Short each piece may be, but the incredible richness and precision in them draw me completely in, and leave a long aftertaste (a good one!).
"remember, with fellowship and song"
Love this depiction of one year on from Barrels Out of Bond! You have the atmosphere of the Shire and the feel of Thorin's burglar band so exactly perfect; this is such a great and quintessential "coda" piece. I'm going to have to confess -- as much as I utterly love your Elves, I think I may adore your Dwarves and Bilbo just a hair's-breadth more. I feel like I could reach out and touch your Balin's beard. I'll have you to blame if I feel more bereft than usual the next time I reread the Chamber of Mazarbul scene
I'll try to review the rest as soon as I can! So sorry for the long silence.
Awww, man, I've been missing out! Mira_Jade, why didn't you tell me you had this series?
(I hope that this isn't the part where you politely point out that I've commented before and I just forgot that this series existed... )
“blooming you shall always be”--wonderful introspection for young Galadriel. Your prose is gorgeous in those opening passages, describing her surroundings and the circumstances she has found herself in. And oh! Celeborn giving her the flower and the hope it represents. (I love crocuses...they bloom around my sister's birthday and they've always had a fantasy vibe for me because we used to associate them with unicorns for some reason...don't ask. )
The interconnectness of the three stories is lovely!
"a veil before stars" pt I
Of all the races of the Firstborn, the Sindarin seem the most quintessentially "Elven" to me, but they are so much more mysterious than the Light-elves. I always enjoy your portrayals of them. You've obviously put so much thought into your depiction of Sindarin culture, their (hi)stories and hang-ups and collective psyche; it just explains almost everything of their later history in the Third Age so well. Cribbing other people's brilliant headcanons is fun
Gorgeous depiction of Melyanna adjusting to Melian and her new relatives. As always, your contrasts in tone and mood are amazing. That bitterness of the Elves' losses which she doesn't understand at this point, against the sweetness of love and motherhood -- it gives the ficlets an intensity and situates them firmly in the same tonal universe as the original mythology.
I'd love to see you looking into the mind behind the Eye one day. Your Mairon is almost sympathisable -- in the narrow sense of being a real breathing character with a palpable humanity. You conveyed his Lucifer-like beauty and charisma as well as diabolical menace really well here. I found myself on edge wondering what he would do!
"a veil before stars" pt II
What I really liked about your Olórin is how, although he's very recognisably the same spirit we know and love so well from the Third Age, he's also palpably different -- less embodied, yet to grow fully into the vinegary wisdom that was to come from walking on real flesh-and-bone feet down every road in Middle-earth, and from intimately accompanying -- as a presence as physical as theirs -- the sorrows of those who live with the Shadow. And more than wisdom, Gandalf has such a touchable, fleshly tenderness that I can only associate with sustained continuous physical presence/closeness -- which I think you showed the seeds of here, while leaving room for definition and filling-out. (I definitely think there's a difference worth exploring between being souls-occasionally-in-bodies, as the Powers are, and "bodies-ensouled", as we are.) It's nice to think that even Maiar develop and grow as characters. That would be the most difficult thing to handle for me, with writing them -- how to show that kind of continuity-yet-change within an eternal angelic being. It would be intimidating enough with a character whose interiority we don't get to look so much into in canon, but to do it with this one who feels so intimately familiar for a lot of people, and to pull it off with such assurance...I can only
It was stunning to be slapped across the face in the very next scene with the awful horror of the first Orcs. I found Flesh and Body all the more powerful in what was left unsaid or only gestured at sketchily -- what exactly had been done to Celebressil, and her husband and sons' grief. It was incredibly effective to see their reaction from the "outside" -- someone to whom such pain is still so foreign.
In your headcanon, was Elmo to first to 'fade'? It seems to me not, since you refer to other families who had suffered the same way, but I found myself wondering about the first 'fading'.
Great job with bringing out the tenderness and pathos of the otherwise somewhat unsettling concept of the Houseless.
It was so very characteristic of Mairon to have expected her to be impressed by a show of merely power and dominion over living things. One might almost feel sorry for how misguided he was...
The look into the origins of Doriath was fascinating, as was the interaction between Thingol and Ginnar. Such innocence, in light of the later bitterness.
"sleep I cannot find, nor light"
Great how you took the subject of his recovery after his captivity and explored a slightly different dimension to it. Your Idril is lovely, a true princess. The way she is honest about the great wound in their family, not stepping round it; in her kindness and willingness to extend compassion to him, willing to allude even to that -- and yet sensitive and gentle ... one sees in outline the full grace and wisdom of the woman she almost is already.
"but for pale persistence"
What a heartwarming bittersweet glimpse of this unlikely family. I liked the glimpse of that direct continuity between the earliest days of the Noldor and one of the chief authors of the Third Age through the bond between Maedhros and Elrond. Especially loved the subtle contrast you set up between the "accursed vow of tongue" and the still-deeper bond of spirit that unlike the Oath needed no words to come into being, but forced him to confront its weight and its obligations with that one everyday word -- so simple and childish and yet so devastating!
"where stirs a quiet pain" - Snowfall
The vulnerability you give Galadriel is all the sharper with Celeborn's tenderness responding to it. As adorable as the supporting cast is, I think you managed to create an atmosphere of snowy isolation between the couple and the others, where it seems like it's just the two of them - yet without the somewhat linear monochrome dramatic terrain of a two-character story, and with all the dimensions of a cast.
"but for we who remain" - Consolation
I would never have thought of Elrond's mother as such a solemn, even dour child -- grieving in such an inward-looking way that lets no one in. And that pathology about the jewel starting then. And makes perfect sense, really, not only in light of what she has gone through, but what she will become and even what her sons turn out to be.
Eärendil the boy is so very very charming, and so much so without any saccharine. I love how his indefatigable perseverance here foreshadows what he becomes as a man...and more than a man...literally the light of hope.
I would love to see more of their relationship. Not necessarily romance. Friendship between children is such beautiful, poignant subject matter, so brimming with dramatic potential...I really think it's something regrettable underexplored in most fanfic across all fandoms, sadly. I love how you tackled it here with such sensitivity and surefootedness.
"to throw truth from mirrors"
Lovely moment between father and son. I'm not familiar with movieverse Thranduil and his screen relationship with Legolas, but this worked just as well as a sweet backstory for bookverse Greenwood.