5. Intimate Revelations
She awoke to silence, and found herself gazing at the vacant half of the bed, where Earendil had lain in her last memory of wakefulness. No warmth remained as she trailed her hand over the sheets, and she sighed.
It happened many times before, in the few weeks since her husband last returned, that he would depart in the middle of the night. Always he would not retire from his toils until a late hour, coming to bed exhausted if he came at all.
Through the days and evenings, constant clamor of labor echoed from the workyards, and sometimes singing as well – not the playful tunes of Elves happily at work, but evoking hymns, full of meaning, power. Only a few voices sang in this way, Cirdan and Earendil among them, and only when all others were absent.
Earendil had been distant, as if his mind was busy even against his will, and he looked upon their sons with a sadness that was unlike himself. Elwing made herself content with the fleeting occasions of intimacy they did share together, and the scarce hours of companionship over meals or rest. She did not question her husband’s strange behavior, nor complain to him. But she worried.
His restlessness was due to the events of the last weeks, she thought. The townsfolk had officially declined a formal proposal of relocation to Balar under the High King’s protection – even with Cirdan’s endorsement and knowing their Lord’s desire in this matter, the people were unwilling to forsake their home, and Earendil would not force them. Soon after, Earendil’s crew disclosed their wish to remain landbound in protection of home and family, fearing another spontaneous attack upon the Havens, as had occurred during their last absence. And recently Cirdan disclosed his intentions to return to Gil-galad’s realm, accompanying Earendil only as far as Balar upon Vingilot’s maiden voyage.
All unhappy tidings for her husband, and he seemed more distraught day by day. Yet he spoke naught of his troubles with her. That she could not always understand his heart she had accepted long before their marriage. But lately his thoughts were closed to her, and if it was by some fault of her own, this she understood least of all.
Presently she arose and dressed. On previous nights Earendil had been discovered in their sons’ room, face concerned and eyes doubtful, even during sleep; she decided to seek him out there, if there he might be found.
The nursery was dark inside, and quiet as the moments before a winter dawn, yet warm as summer shade. "I spoke bravely that night when you last returned, of our perseverance and the confidence we should have." Elwing walked from the doorway and lingered by a dresser, feeling gradually out of place as her voice disturbed the silence. "It is not always so, deep within my heart, if you would know the truth."
Earendil did not at first reply. He sat in the chair by his sons’ bed, gazing upon their motionless bodies as they dreamt in peace. He remained so still that he might be mistaken for asleep, save that the smell of roses and honey accompanied Elwing wherever she walked; he had been aware of her presence even before she spoke. "That was long ago," he spoke quietly, "and I have spoken no ill of it. Why do you think of it now?"
Still awkward, Elwing stepped closer, pausing behind Earendil’s chair. "I wondered why you might be here, and why you have been here or elsewhere through so many nights, instead of in our bed, with me." Earendil’s head lowered at that. She said on, "And such is as it has been, since that night. Am I mistaken?"
"In that day also Elros was faced with a most unhappy sight, as you will remember." He paused as there was a stirring in the bed, but the child went quiet again. "I worried that he might dream unpleasantly. I would be here to comfort him should he awake in such a fright again; that is my only purpose."
Elwing fell silent. He had explained his purpose in coming here, yet here is not always where he comes. And if it was a half-truth, how could she fault him? Mayhap she did not want to know more; mayhap he did not know more to tell. "You will depart again too soon," she said, resting her arm on the back of the chair.
"I will depart when Vingilot is complete," he replied evenly. "I must."
She sighed. "Ever our talk turns to such dire matters. That is not why I sought you." She did not say how lonely she was; he did not say it was bound to worsen. Through the window, she noted the inky sky beginning to lighten. "Faerior asked me yesterday on behalf of the chancellors what your mood might be concerning our peoples’ decision to abide here. I told him I did not know."
"The chancellors made a convincing argument, for their part. Cirdan and I believed our proposal was for the best, that there is little reason to stay here and joining ourselves to Balar would be wisest – as it seems, we stand alone in our thinking." He paused, frowning. "Tell Faerior that time will tell; or that if he would find his way to the workyards, I could answer for myself."
Elwing bent down, lowering her arm to circle his neck, and spoke gently, "It surprises me that you would wish to leave this home of ours, this Haven that Tuor built and Idril graced."
His tone did not soften. "So I have heard. And so I have said: I think of our safety and the future, not of my heart’s desire or my father’s hard labor."
She rested her head atop his shoulder then, feeling his tense muscles forced to relax. "Our people are not like you, Earendil; they are less hardy. Perhaps I am not as resilient either, though I share your mixed blood. Do not expect too much from us, for our hurts mend slowly, while our roots grow swift and deep. We are content to be embedded in our ways, and have no yearning to change, unless it be a change back to some remembered way of things. For my part this is my third home, and I do not want another. Even your fellow mariners who have ever sailed gladly by your side are now loath to leave their home."
It was nothing he did not already know, and he replied with a long-suffering air, disheartened as ever that she did not understand, and perhaps never would. "Do you still not see why it is plain that I must go? I am the only one who can. We are not safe here for long, and even Balar will not be safe for much longer. My crew remains because they sense now the very danger which drives me onward. My only hope to avail our kin is to come as quickly as I may to the Blessed Realm – even then nothing is for certain. I dream of arriving in Valinor, but I dare not strive to see further than that. Still—"
"You must go," she finished for him. He grinned to hear what his next words would have been, feeling less mistaken. "And while you are gone, we shall endeavor to carry out your parting wishes." She placed a kiss on his neck for every promise, "Further watchposts will be built and manned at all hours. Breastworks will be raised to circle the vulnerable side of our town. The Guard will double their patrol, and all able to bear arms will undertake training to use them well."
He smiled at her diligent recital, and that each kiss lingered longer than the last. "Nowhere in my demands did I bid you commit the list to memory."
Relieved by his amiable tone, she smiled. "But you know now how studious I am, and you shall worry less." He would never worry less, whilst the Shadow remained, and she knew it. Neither voiced what they both knew to be true. Instead they kissed, parting only once no reservations remained between them.
"Our sons sleep in peace, Earendil. Come now to bed with me, while we still may." She leaned close to whisper in his ear. "I have committed many other useful things to my memory – some that might please you to know." What she did next with her tongue assured him that she spoke correctly.
They went out together, finding their bedchamber dark in the last hour before dawn. Earendil moved to approach the dresser, surprised to collide with his wife who had stood on his other side a moment ago. His question was silenced as her lips closed upon his, and when his mouth was free again he forgot what his thoughts had been. She led him by both wrists to their bed, but Earendil hardly needed direction, his mind turning alike to Elwing’s after their last kiss.
They paused beside the mattress, embracing again, the taste of each other familiar yet novel and never quite enough. While that kiss ebbed to a reluctant end, Earendil struggled to free his hands, playfully pinned behind his back, and retaliated by hooking his leg behind Elwing’s knee, tripping her to sit atop the bed.
She landed in giggles, and pulled him to stand close beside the edge, corralling his legs between her knees. "We are playful tonight," she said, giving his sides a brief tickle.
He jumped and stifled a cry of surprise before seizing her wrists, then raising her arms above-head bent to kiss each finger. A foot trailed up and down his calf, then a heel nudged into the back of his knee. "Come down to me, tall one," Elwing implored; he obeyed by kneeling, but continued his task, having three fingers yet unkissed. Now the heel massaged his thigh, grinding harder as it moved up. "Not what I meant, my Lord," the lady persisted, her formality in jest. "I beseech thee, join me here on the bed."
"Almost," he paused to say. The last digit was enveloped in warmth, and Elwing gasped at the unexpected feeling of tongue and moisture, a blush rushing to her cheeks as her mind turned to other things Earendil could suckle.
He reverted back to kisses, trailing them along her wrist, arm, shoulder, giving attention in especial to the tender area of her neck, then down to the collarbone. "Now here is an unhappy thing," he said, gazing at the dress which denied him contact with lower portions. "A lady of your loveliness truly has no need of such decorations." He was thoughtful, glancing up as he pulled slowly on the lace of her bodice. "Shall I release you from such a hindrance to your natural beauty?"
"Yes indeed," she smiled without much innocence. "And I shall repay you in kind."
"My thanks—" he gasped as she slipped her hands under his hastily opened shirt, immediately teasing his nipples. All subtlety forgotten, he no longer worked slowly to remove her dress; every motion quickened even with the beating of his heart. His eyes closed as the hands on him changed deeds, one now through his hair, then massaging an ear, whilst the other caressed his genitals until desire burned demanding within him.
Finally there was flesh beneath his busy fingers, and Elwing shrugged off the sleeves of her dress, revealing herself completely. Still blinded by pleasure, he leaned forward to find her unclad embrace, eagerly received.
They shifted to lie on the bed, and there rolled together in a contest of dominance, the game for play more than conquest. At length they settled facing each other on their sides, and Earendil opened his eyes at last, breathless from so many deep kisses, dizzy with unquenched need.
Elwing's eyes were intense upon him as she tugged at his belt. "This will not do, you know." But he did not answer, his eyes fixed in bewilderment at the jewel she wore around her neck. To no avail she tried to catch his gaze. "Earendil?"
He looked up sharply. Something close to betrayal flashed in his eyes. "Not to bed." He shook his head as if to wake from a dream, or clear his vision. "Not with us, not like this."
"Please, Elwing!" He searched for some reasoning to present. "I take off all of my things."
‘It is not a thing!’ she wanted to shout – yet of course it was. "But—" turning away from her he sat up, again shaking his head as both hands covered his face. "Earendil! You act as though... as if—" words failed her, logic faltered. All she wanted was to comfort him, to demonstrate her love. What wrong had she done to earn this coldness? Her thoughts told her none at all. Yet there he sat apart from her, his sincere and desiring gaze suddenly detached, his eager and thoughtful touches turned to groping for his shirt in the dark. "Stay!" was all she managed.
Once standing, he faced her. It seemed that emotion strove to surface, on his face, in his eyes, but he forced it down, and his voice was aloof. "If this is the way it will be, then so be it. But know that I am displeased, and I must settle that within myself which tells me I should have no obligation to share my bed –indeed, my very wife!- with a piece of jewelry."
"Then I will put it somewhere out of your sight for a while," she retorted, "and return straightaway to share you with your Sea-longing!"
He whirled away from her in anger, and she watched with bated breath as he took a determined step towards the door; glad yet horrified that he would prove her right should he seek solitude by the Sea, as was his wont. But his first step was the only he took.
"Ai, Elwing..." Head dropped, he turned back without looking up. "’Tis true! The Sea speaks ever in my ear and heart, just as with Tuor my father. I do not deny it; I cannot, for even now my thoughts were turning to it! Forgive me..."
Her hands had taken to clutching the Silmaril, but the sight of her husband so dejected interrupted her unnatural thoughts – and this she never remembered thereafter: that in the moment when he turned from her in resentment, she suspected he was jealous of her jewel, and planned to keep it from him by any means.
But now with a softened heart her frustration was forgotten, and his behavior forgiven. Reaching out to him she said, "Oh, Earendil, you need not even ask – return to me!" He did so, melting gratefully into her welcoming embrace. "My sweet Peredhel … why do you carry such burdens alone? You are strong as the great Men of old, Earendil – not as the Valar themselves! This doom is too much for you to bear."
"And well do I know it!" She was surprised to hear him sob, and held him tighter as he wept away long-suppressed emotions borne from more than tiredness and anxiety.
In each other’s arms they remained until morning, with the Silmaril between 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.