1. Flying with the Swans
It was ‘yrch’ that made you stop. Orcs… they were scary but you loved stories about them. You crawled to the edge of the table and peeked up at the Elves talking. Two were palace guards you knew slightly, the other two worked in the stables. Their faces were shadowed and they held themselves stiffly; Elfling though you were, you knew that a sorrow was upon them. The tallest spoke, his words uneven,
“So close to the palace…”
You shivered at the pain in his voice as the others nodded and muttered agreement. One of the stable hands swore and spat on the ground.
“This accursed Shadow! I remember a time when you could ride for hours in Greenwood without need of weapon or guard; now our own queen is taken little more than a gallop away.”
Your breath caught in your chest. Their queen was your mother – where was she taken? When would she be back? You tried hard to swallow but nothing seemed to work. You didn’t like it when your mother wasn’t there. You sat back a little, not wanting to see the Elves any more; the darkness on their faces scared you. As you wriggled back your hand found the swan’s feather and you froze. Every day you gave it to your mother when she rode out without you – it was your special charm, your way of bringing her back safely. You had cried when the swans flew from the lake until Lired had found you the feather to keep and told you how the swans would return in the spring.
“Fly with the swans, Mother, and fly back to me,” you said as you gave it to her each day.
She would tuck it into her tunic and hug you, whispering, “I will fly back with the sun.”
Crouched in the shadowed dark of the table you gazed at the feather in terror. What would bring her home safely now? The voices from above reached you suddenly.
“She died strong, though – they say she killed three or four.”
You wanted to be too young to understand but the words sank into you and became part of you. Tears choked you even as a familiar voice startled you.
“Has anyone seen Legolas? Father wants him.”
It was Lired; his voice rougher and deeper than you had heard it before. You didn’t want to answer but they all heard your gasps for breath. The tall Elf crawled under the table in the end, and lifted you out as you hugged the feather and cried. No-one knew it was your fault and you could find no words to tell them. Not these Elves who watched you with such shadowed eyes, and whose song followed you from the stable. Not Lired who cursed you for a nuisance and held you so tightly it hurt as he carried you to Father. Not Father as he wrapped you in his cloak and kissed your forehead and told you that your Mother had gone ahead of you to the Hall of Mandos.
Not even this man who stares in quizzical fashion at the swan’s feather on the top of his pack.
*Written for the Friday the 13th challenge this was posted on the list (though it has been edited since then) but missed the deadline.
*Was called ‘The Swan’s Feather’ originally, before I realised I’d swiped Starlight’s entry’s title.
*It’s fairly soppy (though I think I have dried it out slightly), fairly slight and very short and I’m under no illusions that it is wonderful – but feedback would be, as always, very welcome. Oh and there’s a whole bunch of fragments masquerading as sentences at the end – I couldn’t get them to work any other way but I’m open to suggestions.
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.