Writing Mary Sue

If Ever Two Were One...

5. Forgotten Memories

Searching through the fragments of my dream shattered sleep…

*******

The moon hung low in the eastern sky as Gárulf led Edrys from the hall. At the foot of the great stone stairway he halted, looking about the courtyard. Movement could be seen beyond in the stableyard, and voices from the outlying buildings carried clearly through the night.

“Is there a place where we may talk undisturbed?”

Edrys nodded. “I know of a place.” The orchard bower, where not so long ago she had poured out her heart to Ardith, was far enough from the hall and its compound to ensure some privacy. Gárulf followed her in silence, keeping her slender hand held firmly in his strong grasp.

’Tis strange, Edrys thought, how easy I feel in his company now. Perhaps it was knowing that Théodred and her brothers no longer watched their every move.

The orchard was, as she thought, deserted. Edrys ducked under the low hanging branches that, still heavy with late ripening fruit, partially hid the entrance to the bower. She found a seat on the rough-hewn bench, leaving room for her companion beside her. But Gárulf remained standing near the half-hidden entrance, looking out through the curtain of leaves. He stood very still, head cocked as though listening for something. Patiently Edrys waited for him to speak, but his continued silence puzzled her. Finally, emboldened by the newfound ease she felt in his company, she broke the silence.

“My lord, there was something about which you would speak with me?”

“Yes,” Gárulf said, turning toward her as he spoke. Claiming the place beside Edrys on the bench, he reached out to touch her hair, smoothing the stray locks the evening breeze had teased loose. Edrys longed to move into his touch; still she waited for him to speak, all the while searching his face for something that would tell her of his feelings.

“Edrys…” Her heart reveled at the mere sound of her name upon his lips. Gentle fingers touched her cheek to trail along the smooth line of her jaw. They lingered near — oh, so near! — the mouth she was longing for him to kiss, even as he had kissed her the night of Drefan’s wedding feast.

Kiss her he did, but this was no gentle quest; this kiss spoke forcefully of hunger and passion. It pleaded for a response, and Edrys answered it with all the strength and fire in her own hungering heart. The strong rhythm of his heart sounded a pleasing counterpoint to her own; the scent of him was like an intoxicating liqueur. Her breathing nearly stilled as she was caught up in savoring the sensations, still fearful that she might awake to find it was naught but another dream.

Reluctantly they parted. Edrys could feel the effort with which Gárulf held her at arm’s length; his breathing sounded labored, and it was some moments before he spoke again.

“Edrys, do you remember what I said to you the night of your brother’s wedding feast?”

“You asked me to wait for you.”

“I had no right to ask such a thing; even less to expect that you would. Yet here you are….” There was a note of wonder in his voice as he continued, “Am I wrong to believe that you have some feelings for me?”

“I had thought what I feel is obvious — it has been to my brothers and sisters. They seemed to know the truth of it, long before I realized that I love you.”

If Edrys had thought to hear him respond in kind, she was to be disappointed, but she had no mind for complaint; words would have made a paltry substitute for the eloquence of his fierce embrace. Yet he sounded bemused when he spoke again, his arms still wrapped tightly around her.

“It would seem we have been the last to make this wondrous discovery. Théodred claims he has known since last winter.”

“And how long have you known?”

“Known that I love you?” Oh, how her heart sang, hearing those words. Gárulf paused but a moment to consider the question. “Somehow I think I have always known, but it was not until the night of Drefan’s wedding feast that I embraced that knowledge.” His smile bespoke a pleasant memory. “I had a dream that night…”

A dream - oh, please, Edrys thought, if this be but a dream, do not let me waken.

“And what of you?”

How shall I answer him? I have no clear understanding of when — or even how I came to love him... Hesitantly Edrys told him about the varied emotions she had experienced the night of Drefan’s wedding feast: how she was all but convinced they had met before, only she was certain it had not been at the time her father bought the mare. She told him of the trust she instinctively believed she could give him — at that Gárulf’s hand tightened on hers.

“And on that night, and for many nights to follow, I have dreamt of you.”

“Have you?” Gárulf sounded pleased by this revelation. “Tell me, what do you dream?”

She was uncertain still of how to express what she felt. Nonetheless, Edrys told him about her dreams: about the sense of imminent danger, a dread she could put no name to, fear, all banished by his reassuring presence.

“I could feel your arms around me, as surely as I feel them now. There was strength and safety, there with you, of that I was certain — and we were riding on a great grey horse. I remember that so clearly. In my dream you called him — Canrinth. That was the name you gave him…”

The sound of Gárulf’s sharply drawn breath made Edrys pause. What did I say? she wondered.

“Edrys, you say that in your dreams you trust me. Will you trust me now?”

Slowly, deliberately she nodded. “I will – I do trust you.”

He kissed her again, a chaste kiss this time, as if to seal a pact. “There is so much I need to tell you. But first, I would have you know the reason I wished to speak with you tonight.” Gárulf took Edrys’ hands and held them in his own sword calloused hands. “I would have you for my wife — if you will have me for a husband.”

If…? By all the powers that be — is it possible he still doubts my feelings? This much Edrys knew without question: whatever else might be, she loved Gárulf. Her impassioned answer left no room for doubt as she responded in the surest way she knew. Time slipped by unmarked as they spoke to one another with the silent eloquence of love’s language.

From somewhere close by came the hoarse call of an owl; the answering bark of a dog recalled them to the present reality.

“Come!” Without further explanation Gárulf pulled Edrys to her feet.

“Where are we going?” Joy bubbled up in bemused laughter as once more she allowed Gárulf to lead her where he would. He loved her — and she loved him. For Edrys at that moment nothing else really mattered.

“To tell Théodred the good news.”

Théodred…? ’Twas certain he would wish to know; it was obvious to her now that Théodred had been prodding his friend to speak to her. The idea of Théoden’s son and heir playing matchmaker amused her — and the opportunity to repay him in kind for all the teasing he had subjected her to was a temptation she knew she would find impossible to resist.

But Bearn will need to know first; there is the brýdcéap to be arranged….

The moon was approaching its zenith as the couple entered the hall once more. On the hearth a blazing fire beckoned, for the autumn nights were turning cold. Hunta, Bearn's great wolfhound, rose from his place to greet Edrys; curiously he nosed about the strange man who stood so close beside her. Satisfied that Gárulf posed no threat, the hound returned to the warmth of the hearthstones, circling till he settled once more in the same spot he had occupied before their intrusion.

Seated at the far side of the hearth, the master of Ænlicdene broke off his conversation with the two brothers who had remained with him. Æthelwulf rose from his seat, one hand resting on Hilderinc’s shoulder as he faced the approaching couple.

It was the voice of the fourth man, standing in the shadows, that broke the silence once more.

"So, my friend, do we begin the negotiations in earnest now?" Théodred stepped into the light, his broad smile proclaiming his faith that his friend had at last made his intentions known.

“Yes…” Gárulf was unable to make himself heard after that as Edrys’ brothers came to their feet to clap him on the back and embrace Edrys. It seemed that everyone was talking at once.

All but Théodred. He remained standing a little apart until Edrys managed to disentangle herself from Bearn’s engulfing embrace.

“Have you naught else to say to me, my lord? ’Tis certain you have already had somewhat to say in this matter.” There was laughter in her voice as she confronted him with his matchmaking ways.

Smiling, Théodred took both her hands in his, and kissed her gently on the cheek. “What more needs be said? Know that I wish you joy – ’tis what I have ever wished for you,” he said, with an earnestness that surprised Edrys. He looked up at his friend, who had come to stand behind Edrys, and though he spoke to her his gaze was fixed on Gárulf. “There is none other to whom I would sooner entrust your health and happiness.”

Gárulf placed an arm about Edrys shoulders. “It is of that which I would speak to you — and to her brothers.” Théodred looked at him, a puzzled look on his face; Gárulf’s tone had a serious edge to it not wholly in keeping with the news they had just shared. Slowly Thodred’s expression changed; one brow went up and his friend nodded in response. Edrys watched the pair, thoroughly perplexed by their wordless exchange.

“Bearn,” Théodred called to his host, “I believe we should ask the others to join us – there is more to this tale.”

A moment passed before Bearn seemed to grasp the import of Théodred’s words. Then everyone began to react as Bearn began issuing directives to his brothers. Hilderinc sprinted for the door, followed closely by Æthelwulf. Then Bearn disappeared down the passageway to the family quarters, leaving a bewildered Edrys standing there between Gárulf and Théodred.

It was not long before her brothers returned, gathering around the three near the hearth. With Æthelwulf also came his wife, Ardith’s sister Odelyn, who made her way through the tight-knit group to Edrys’s side. Odelyn’s smile was warm and genuine, but she said nothing beyond a softly spoken word of congratulation.

Bearn and Ardith joined them. “Now,” Bearn said, “we would hear what you have to tell us.” He addressed Gárulf, but all eyes were on Edrys. Gárulf had persuaded Edrys to take the seat Bearn had vacated, moving another so that he could sit close beside her. Now he held her hand as he spoke.

He began by telling the others of their conversation in the orchard — to Edrys’ relief he did not tell all that had transpired there. She was still perplexed by Théodred’s insistence that all her brothers be present, but she listened patiently, remembering how Gárulf had asked her to trust him. If he had a purpose in relating their conversation, surely it would be revealed soon enough.

“Edrys, tell them what you told me — about your dreams.”

“About my dreams?” Why would they want to hear about my dreams? She looked at Gárulf questioningly.

“Please, Edrys, tell us,” Ardith gently urged her, and Gárulf squeezed her hand reassuringly.

Haltingly Edrys related all that she remembered from her dreams. Just as she had told Gárulf, she told her assembled family about the sense of fear and danger. She told them, trying not to blush when she chanced to look up and saw how intently Théodred was watching her, how the fear was dispelled by the knowledge that Gárulf was holding her safe in his arms. And once again there was that sharply drawn breath — from Théodred this time — that followed her mention of the great grey horse named Canrinth.

Silence…. Edrys looked around at the faces of her brothers. She could not fathom their expressions; what was it that held them all so tense and watchful? Odelyn was hugging her older sister; Edrys could see tears in Ardith's eyes.

What can I have said, that Ardith should feel such distress?

“Edrys, what else do you remember?” The note of urgency in Théodred’s voice was unmistakable. She looked to Gárulf for an answer, but saw naught but an echo of Théodred’s question in his eyes. She could only hazard a guess.

“From my dreams?”

Théodred shook his head. “Edrys, these are more than dreams.” He leaned forward to lay his hand atop hers where Gárulf held it still. “They are forgotten memories.”

to be continued…

***

*Opening lines from lyrics by Gordon Lightfoot

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.

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Nessime

Status: Beta

Completion: Work in Progress

Rating: General

Last Updated: 08/31/05

Original Post: 02/21/03

Back to challenge: Writing Mary Sue

Go to story: If Ever Two Were One...

Keyword Search

Search for key terms in Challenge, Nuzgûl & Oliphaunt titles and descriptions.


Results are ordered alphabetically by title.