32. Guardian (Beleg & Lúthien)
For years, he had watched over her.
When she was a child, he would secretly follow her when she slipped out at night, to ensure she came to no harm. He would silently look after her as she danced beneath the stars.
When she was a coltish youth, he took her into the forests and taught her woodcraft: the myriad calls of the nightingale, the padfoot ways of the fox, and the rumbling language of the earth.
When she became a lovely adult, who longer needed his protection or instruction, he watched her with delight. She was his princess and pride: a divine mixture of spirit and flesh with a keen mind and laughter-filled eyes.
Then she left.
In the days following her departure, the trees lamented her and the grasses sigh for her footsteps. The foxes sadly asked where she had gone, and the nightingales fell silent.
He withdrew, missing the starry-eyed child, the long-limbed girl, the gracious woman that he loved as a daughter.
But on the day she returned, Beleg (on the northern border, setting a splint for a hawk's wing) was the first to hear, and he smiled when the leaves began to whisper her name.
For Ithiliel Silverquill.
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