Shades of Grey
1. Shades of Grey
It would be a most wonderful wedding. Guests would come from both
near and far, family relations, friends. He loved her, and she loved
him, and when her father had finally acquiesced and deemed him worthy
enough of his daughter, that had been the happiest day of her life.
She was a pretty sliver of a girl, the bride was; small and lithe
and thin and wiry, a whirlwind of joy. He was as similar to her as a
pea and a pear were similar - not at all. He was silent and shady
except in her presence, where his love for her lit up what few dark
corners would otherwise escape her radiating light.
Meluiell was her name, she being the fruit of an exceedingly
romantic couple, but when they were alone under the stars exploring one
another Meleithel he called her lovingly, because in the light in her
eyes he could see her endless love for him, a love that he reciprocated
manifold, he claimed repeatedly. If it had been up to him he would have
done anything, anything at all, for her undimished happiness, but he
was wise enough to know that whims could not be accommodated every time
- nay, not even most of the time - and it was thus that with a heavy
heart he had already taken his leave of her more than once, to fulfill
a duty much older than himself and to maintain promises made many
He had already stood guard often, left with the other men many
times before, and every night he was away she would lie sleepless,
hoping that he would return to her safe. And when he came back and was
unanimously lauded for his skill with bow and arrow or sword and dagger
she hated them, hated all of them who had even a single word of praise
for him. She wanted to make them all swallow their words, wanted him to
stay by her side and not lose him to some vile beast spawned by the
foul darkness, like she had seen happen to her elder sister. She wanted
the two of them to be together forever, and even if she did not want to
be a mother yet - so early, so very early - she wanted him near her
now, now that she was young and beautiful and was still filled with the
hope she had seen time suck from her elders.
But at the same time she was also proud of him, so very proud of
him who was brave enough to face the terror and fight, to valiantly
take up a sword that some were quite reluctant to wield as of late,
that some lacked the hope to believe in.
Now, regardless, he was going away from her once again, riding
south to join the Chieftain, and she was frightened - terrified - that
she would never see him again, that he would be slain in a far off land
and all she would have left would be a memory of whispering caresses
underneath a starry summer sky. Certainly, she lacked no faith in the
Chieftain - she had never met him but she, like everyone else, had
heard of his many journeys and services abroad and had complete
certainty in his abilities not as leader of Men - of her people - but
as a great leader of Men. Nor did she fear that the Chieftain, reaching
his prime and still unmarried would suddenly perish and leave behind
him nothing but a people without a purpose. In her mind - as in the
minds of mostly everyone she could name - Elendil's line had not
survived until now simply for the sake of suddenly vanishing now. Had
he not reforged Narsil already? This Chieftain seemed doomed to a
greater fate than that of all the ones before him, so that none
begrudged him his reluctance to take a wife - the wild could be
unforgiving, but had not ancient legends been charmed and avoided
certain death time and again in order to face their fate? Had not Beren
crossed the imprenetable Girdle of Melian alone? Why should it be
different now, they who shared the same blood? No, clearly, the
untimely death of the Chieftain would come about solely if the Shadow
was not successfully defeated, but instead triumphal - and a world
where the Shadow prevailed and where Hope perished was not worth
He would be the only one setting out today - their settlement
being located almost at the point where the Bruinen and the Mitheithel
met and joined into one, it had simply been the place where the Grey
Company had been forced to rest their horses. And he, - sweet he -
having heard of their purpose had serenely asked to be allowed to ride
with them. His skill having been vouched for by many, a somewhat
quizzical (and unearthly) Half-Elven eyebrow had been arched and he had
been told to prepare for departure at sundown, if he really intended to
join them. And so, with trepidation and fear for her beloved she went
about her duties, anxiously awaiting the moment when she knew he would
come find her for their little farewell ritual.
The sun was moving towards the West - this Company paying no
attention to day and night, but simply to the needs of the horses, and
the whole settlement was busily striving to aid the travelers in any
manner possible. Horseshoes were needlessly being rechecked, arrows
fletched or generously given, leather saddles oiled, horses watered and
fed one final time before departing into the forlon wild. The Company,
after all, rode not to war, but to War. To the Great War that would
decide the fate of everything. And as such, it deserved (and obtained)
the best they could give it, because with it rode their most heartfelt
Soon, they would leave; he would leave - she knew the other men
not, and even if she did, it was unlikely that she would have mustered
as much feeling for the whole Company as she did for him alone.
As she was rushing about in the growing darkness, looking for
some more hay for the horses, a pair of arms reached for and encircled
her waist. Without hesitation she turned around, fumbling around her
tunic for the little token she had placed there earlier and once she
had found it, standing on the tip of her feet, reached over to his left
shoulder and pinned it upon his shoulder, the little many-pointed star
brooch. She took two steps back and looked at him approvingly. He was
tall and dark, but that was hardly surprising, considering his
ancestry. Yet he stood straight as a rod, sword at his side, bow and
pack slung at his back, the feathered ends of his arrows peeking over
his right shoulder when he shifted on his two feet.
He looked pointedly at her, and she knew what he was going to
say, because he had already said it many times before. It mattered very
little what they were thinking, because their private ceremony was an
inviolable part of their lives, which would change for aught.
"Take care, oh, Meleithel," he said softly.
"Only if you do, Dolladan, only if you do," she replied, eyes
glimmering with more than their traditional mischievous glint.
And with nothing more than that he reached forward and hugged her
solemnly, an embrace she returned with as much sobriety. They were not
of the sort to indulge in banal displays of affection. When he pulled
away, he glanced long at her one final time, seeking to memorize her
features in the dimming light, and then, without a word, turned around
and headed back to the spot where the Grey Company awaited him, all but
two saddles occupied. One horse was belonged to him, the remaining one
was riding unmounted in search of its master.
Her task forgotten she stood in the gloom and watched as the
rising moon bathed everything in an otherworldly pallor. Blinking
quickly, she reassured herself. She would not cry. There was no reason
to cry. This was the world into which she had been born, and this was
the world where she would die. Their parting was as natural to it as
the coming of autumn and falling leaves. Bittersweet and unavoidable.
She would not sleep well tonight. Nor tomorrow, nor the day after
that. But at the very least she would lay awake at night knowing that
if he was gone, it was because he was fighting for what he believed in,
defending what she, what they all, had always believed in. And while it
did not bring her happiness, it was enough consolation to dull the
anguish of loneliness.
Brought to you in the week-before-finals as spawned by the Anything,
but Ordinary Nuzgul. Magnificent sense of timing, really.
Dolladan - gloomy man.
Meleithel - well of love.
Meluiell - lovely girl.
All names chosen mostly for the sake of their 'hideous petname' value.
Sindarin roots obtained from the Hiswel¢k‰ Dictionary. Especially the
first two, which are intended to read like given petnames, while the
last is solely a result of overly loving parents.
Many heartfelt thanks to Isabeau, Meg, Dwim, Mike and everyone else at
HA who contributed information to my research, even if most of it did
not actually make it into the story. At least I can say I have
certainly been enlightened.
Commentary of all sorts more than welcome.
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.