Shadows in Light
1. Shadows in Light
Long years had passed since they had met as young children in the forges of his father. She had no talent for making things, but she had long delighted in watching the smiths go about their work. She especially enjoyed watching his father, her eyes swiveling constantly as he moved.
He recalled when he had first been permitted to join his father at the forges. He had entered the hot and stifling room and much to his surprise, seen a young lady, his elder by no large margin, sitting near his father’s work area, her gaze both serene and anticipating.
His father had named her Lintesúl, daughter of Narelen, one of the smiths who worked in the forges. He had greeted her politely enough, but had been consumed with a great jealousy. A slip of a girl, barely older than he, had been allowed to enter the place he had long been forbidden to come. And she did not aid in the workings, merely sitting and watching and taking up space.
Still, he said nothing of that resentment and instead focused upon what his father had begun to teach him, determined to find her of no consequence. He had continued to ignore her when he began to work at his own forge, as she had chosen to sit near his forge instead of his father. This had rather confounded him, in all honesty. Lintesúl had shown him at their first meeting that she greatly enjoyed to watch his father go about his work. Why would she choose to watch one who was less than him?
And he quickly saw that she continued to watch his father, but only from where she sat near his own forge. And so he seethed, but said nothing of it. If it had been any other, he would have harshly banished her from his presence, but whenever he looked up to do so, he found himself looking at her glowing, fair face and found all of his anger and jealousy fading from his heart.
So he endured. Sometimes he chose to speak to her, speaking of his father, his brothers, and his cousins. She appeared to listen politely to his ramblings, but nothing more. Solemnly, he continued to speak all the same, refusing to acknowledge the pain that entered his heart at her apparent inattention.
Then, abruptly, circumstances began to change. His father removed his forge into a private work area, where none could watch or see or bother him. He had then thought that the glow he had oft seen surrounding Lintesúl would fade now that she was no longer in his father’s burning presence. Much to his surprise, however, he found her only glowing brighter, no longer drowned out by his father’s own great light.
She seemed to smile less with the departure of his father, but never did she cease to be sitting near his forge when he entered the room each morning. He continued to speak with her and she appeared to listen with more attentiveness. He spoke of how his brothers all greatly missed the stabling presence of his mother, who had departed to the house of her father. He spoke of the growing distance between his father and his sons.
Seldom did she ever choose to speak, but then, many months after his father’s seclusion began, she did speak. And he marveled silently that her voice was a clear and ringing as the bells that were rung to hail the Eagles of Manwë.
“I fear, my lord Curufinwë, that I shall not be here as often as I have been,” she told him seriously. “Many suitors have come calling and my parents deem it my duty to attend them, whether I welcome their suits or not. And I cannot do this if I am ‘wallowing about in dark and empty places,’ if one were to listen to my mother,” she finished, a somewhat wry look upon her face.
He could not help at bristle at such a ignorant statement. “A place of forges is hardly dark and empty, my lady,” he said stiffly. “Surely your mother, the wife of a smith, would know this.”
Lintesúl nodded, “Indeed, she should. I think, however, it was a statement merely made out of her frustration in the face of a daughter who had no wish to obey such a ruling.”
He stared down at his forge for a moment, saying nothing in return. She had no wish to receive suitors, he marveled. Why would she not? She was, in his eyes, the fairest of maids. Nothing he could make with his own hands could match her beauty, both of within and without.
He stood at a crossroads, he knew. His mother had spoken to all of her sons of such things. He had two roads before him. One foretold a life of loneliness, him forever working alone at his forge, forsaking the outside world in an attempt to find a warmth missing from him within the great fires. The other showed a life of joy. A beautiful lady who never ceased to smile happily, many children racing about, shouting as they played. He was now at the time to choose which road he would walk.
Lowering the fires of his forge, he looked up at her and held out his hand. “Lady, will you walk with me for a time,” he asked, praying his uncertainty was not laid bare before her.
A flicker of surprise and another emotion he could not name appeared briefly in her grey eyes before vanishing behind a mask of pleasantness. She nodded graciously, taking his hand and allowed him to help her to stand from her seat. “Of course, my lord Curufinwë,” she said.
He led her to the gardens that stood far from the forges. His mother, though she loved to create things from her hands as much as his father, had also greatly enjoyed living things as well. She had taught all of her sons to maintain the garden, forbidding the servants from aiding them. She had told them that they must not always rely upon others to do for them what they could easily do for themselves. As a result, each of them had a basic knowledge of plants and gardening. Maitimo, though, was the only one to take the greatest of joy from it.
For a time, they walked in a comfortable silence. Her hand rested lightly upon his arm as she gazed contentedly on the flowers that sprang from the rich soil. Soon, they seated themselves upon a stone bench near the center of the greenery.
“My lady Lintesúl, you have told me of your lack of wishing to endure waiting upon gentleman callers. If you do not find it presumptuous, may I offer you another option,” he asked her hesitantly.
Her eyes were bright as she gazed upon him. Bright with hope renewed. “Of course, my lord,” she replied. “I welcome you to speak.”
“I… I have little experience in such matters, mind you. My mind is much more adept at assessing materials for the forges than matters of etiquette. But, if you are so truly unwilling to endure those that are unwanted, would you agree to… consort with someone you are familiar with?”
He found it difficult to meet her gaze, finding his words foolish from the moment they left his mouth. Silence reigned between them and he shifted nervously, preparing to leave if she should command him to do so for being too forward.
Her words were softly spoken, but he heard them all the same. “My lord… Curufinwë, are you asking if you might court me?”
He forced himself to look up and gaze into her eyes. Much to his surprise, there was no censure or anger there, only a faint amusement and, much to his shock, barely contained joy. He could not help but start to smile bewilderedly when he beheld her happiness.
“Yes, I suppose I am, dear lady,” he carefully reached out and took one of her hands, kissing it reverently. When he released it, it did not return to her lap, as would be considered proper. Instead, it brushed lightly over his cheek.
“Long have I wished for this,” she murmured softly, more to herself than to him. “I had begun to believe I would have to ask you myself and hope my interest was not unlooked for.” Her eyes locked with his yet again and she smiled. “I have waited long for you to ask me, my lord. To have your attentions was something I have only dreamed of.”
He was shocked at her words. She had been waiting for him? He had seen her doing nothing of the kind! For years, she had appeared to look on none but his father with interest. She did not appear to wish anything from him. He said as much.
Lintesúl smiled somewhat sheepishly. “Truly, my lord? I have oft looked away from you, lest you see my feelings displayed upon my sleeve. I had not thought you would have looked at me in much the same way I do you.” Again, she hesitantly brushed his cheek. “I confess I felt you would not return my feelings, so I attempted to appear uninterested in anything you were saying to me.”
He reached up and took her hand in his, removing it from his face, but not releasing it. Stroking it lightly, he asked, “Then why do you speak now, lady?”
“The suitors forced my hand, Curufinwë. I knew I had no choice but to obey my mother’s instructions and receive them. I knew that if I did so, I would never see you again and you would forget me as you went on to create beautiful objects that would steal you away from all thoughts of the outside world. So, I told you of them. I was going to ask you to walk with me, but you did the same before I could do so.”
“And now, I have asked what you would have asked,” he finished quietly, bringing up her hand to allow him to kiss it again. “I thank you for your courage, dear Lintesúl. If you had not told me, it is quite likely I would have never seen you again, and would have lost all inspiration for creating anything.”
She blushed now, ducking her head. “One such as you, my lord, could never stop making things. It is a part of you. It is the same with my father.”
He shook his head, “Nay, lady. I am a smith and I know. We each have our own inspirations. My father is inspired by my mother and how she appears beneath the light of Telperion and Laurelin. Your father, I believe, says he is inspired by his lady wife when she moves about her gardens, reigning over them like a benevolent queen. You, Lintesúl, are mine. It is the image of you sitting upon your stool, taking everything in around you that inspires me.” Hoping he was not overstepping her boundaries, he allowed himself to brush his lips over the inside of her wrist. “If you were taken from me, I would never create another jewel or pendant. My works would fall to ashes.”
Her cheeks were now a bright pink, but she did not pull away. Quite the contrary, she leaned forward, her eyes on his lips as she stared in fascination. Carefully, he leaned forward as well, allowing his lips to meet hers.
It was nothing more than a light brush, as fleeting as the wind she had been named for. The brief taste of her lips made him crave more. He pulled back to gaze into her eyes, silently asking for permission to continue. He found it difficult, for she had followed him and was barely a hair’s width from him. He took it as her confirmation and let his lips settle more forcefully upon hers.
She let him lead her, as she had been doing all afternoon. She had obviously let no other take such liberties. But he did not mind her lack of experience, for it meant they would learn together. He himself had never chosen to look upon any other maiden. How could he, when he had been exposed to her beauty since the days of their childhoods?
Her lips were as soft as her skin, but they hardly moved at all, even when he opened his mouth slightly. He heard a small gasp from her, and quickly slid back. Or rather, he would have, had she not reached up to take him into her hands and bring him back to her. Rapidly, tenderness began to give way to passion.
Eventually, they broke away willingly, breathing heavily. Not wishing to let her leave him so quickly, he gently wrapped his arms about her, pulling her to rest beneath his chin. Her arms made similar motions and she held him just as tightly.
He smiled blissfully. She was his, just as he had always hoped she would be. And he was hers, no doubt fulfilling her own dreams. And they were both Noldor and unlikely to relinquish what they knew to be theirs.
“I think,” he said, his tone breathless, “you have inspired me once again, my lady love. I see in my mind two silver rings and two gold rings, resting upon our fingers.”
She stiffened slightly and instantly he began to fear he had gone too far. She had only just agreed to allow him to court her. Marriage was a great step ahead of that and their kind never gave their hearts and hands lightly.
He pulled back from her, prepared to apologize, but halted when she placed a single finger on his lips. She looked up at him with a smile and said, “Marriage, I think, is a bit far ahead of us, my lord. You might wish to speak with my father and yours upon that matter. We have all the time in the world. There is no need to be hasty.” She paused, shifting her hand to again stroke his cheek. “Though, if you are truly inspired to create those rings, then I ask you only this: let me do what I can to aid you in their making. Then they will be imbued with something of both of us.”
He gazed at her in wonder, then leaned down and kissed her gently once more. When they pulled away, he said, “I would deny you nothing, lady. You shall have everything you desire.”
And it was then that a shadow entered into her eyes and she answered seriously, “All I could ever want would be you and our family. I would wish us to be together always, never to be parted from one another.”
He smiled down at her, “And I promise, you shall have it, my lady. I will never forsake you, so as long as you do not depart with the winds your mother named you for. You shall never lose what you have gained here today or in the future. This I swear by the Star-Kindler herself.”
The shadow appeared to fade. Her smile was radiant and she clasped herself tightly to him. And they sat in contented silence as the mixed light of the Two Trees fell down upon them.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.