When we have shuffled off this mortal coil

Purple Dress, The

1. The Purple Dress

It has come, finally. So slow has the sewing woman been that I feared it would not be ready in time. Impatiently, I unfold its drab wrappings and lift it out of the box. The top shimmers and gleams in the sunlight flooding through the window, while the skirt falls in soft folds of the deepest of purples. I spin around with it and watch the skirt fly out, as it will when I dance tonight. Up and down the room I spin before I stop, laughing breathlessly, and hold it out once more. It is perfect – from the glittering jewels scattered across the bodice to the sombre coloured velvet of the skirt. Laughing again, I bow to it and then hug it to myself. Old Nurse fusses at me – “Have done, my lady, you will crush it!” – but I ignore her.

In this dress will I draw every eye as I take the colour of death and wear it, flaunting, to a celebration. Here will I set a fashion. They name purple as the colour of deepest mourning, but we will break with all those old shibboleths. The old ones count their gold and draw up the plans for their graves – ‘Higher, bigger!’ they order - and debate with what jewels they shall glorify those graves. Let them. We laugh at death and mock their old customs. Tonight I dance in purple for I will not fear death: let the gods know that I defy them.

Nurse still clucks around and I throw the dress at her. I watch her hang it up; laughing at the censorious looks she casts at it. She saves every coin we give her so she may have a glorious grave, and toils up to the temple on her days off with a young hen or rabbit to be sacrificed – fool! It has not kept her from decay. I remember her when I was but a babe and she was still smooth-skinned, plump and dark-haired. Now she is old and creaks around on thin shanks, her hands mottled and creased, her hair dulled to grey. Death drags her closer.

I do not fear death: I will not face it. Nine and thirty days ago did Father sail with our mighty king to the Forbidden Lands. There they will demand and take our right – the everlasting life of the Deathless. None can withstand Ar-Pharazôn, for he is the King of Kings. Soon they will return, triumphant and joyful. Númenor will ring once more with trumpets and I will dance for Father in my purple dress.

The light grows dim – another of these stupid storms that rattle and roar around us almost endlessly. I call for candles and wake Nurse, who dozes, witless, by the fire. Bring me my scent box, my powder, my jewels, the feathers for my hair, I tell her. In front of the glass I slip into my purple dress and curtsey to my reflection. Tonight will I dance in deepest mourning.

*This is part 1 of a planned entry in the Three Colour Trilogy challenge. Nrink mentioned that someone might like to set one story in the Silm, one in TH and one in LOTR – and I decided to take her up on that. I also decided to give myself some other rules. Each story has to be 500 words exactly and each will be written in a different POV.

*Thanks to Nrink for her help.

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: Avon

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Rating: General

Last Updated: 10/03/05

Original Post: 07/18/04

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