The Return of the Shadow: 16. "I don't like those books"

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16. "I don't like those books"

Elentar put the book down. His hands curled around its corners, his fingers thumping an irregular, faintly irritated rhythm on its cover.

He had spent two days reading, barely aware of his surroundings, barely aware of how Mina left for her jobs, and when she returned. He had joined her for dinner and slept next to her, but he had not really been there.

He had been in Arda of the Third Age.

"I don't like those books," he muttered under his breath.

Mina turned around on her chair, glancing carefully in his direction. She had gone to great lengths not to interfere with his reading. Now she was waiting nervously for his reaction, but trying not to show just how nervous she was. But he could see that her shoulders were tense, and she was chewing on her lower lip.

He wondered what she was thinking of him. It struck him how much she knew already about him, just because of the books. His fingers tightened around the book again. He had to restrain himself from opening the book again and going back to the last pages, to some paragraphs in the appendices. Parts of his family history that he had almost forgotten. No, he had to be honest: there were some details he had never known. Things that his father would have told him in time, had he not run away…

"I don't like those books," Elentar repeated. "That style is almost unbearable."

The corners of Mina's mouth were quirking with laughter.

He glared at her. "Really. This… syntax. The dialogue! I don't think people ever spoke that way; at least they did not when I grew up - or here on earth in earlier centuries."

He fell silent, his eyes focused on the cover of the book.

Suddenly, he looked up.

"I wish there were more about my family in there," he said and quickly looked away again. He had not meant to say that at all, and he hated how his eyes were suddenly burning with tears.

"I'm sorry," Mina said. "It has to feel very strange to be reading about the history of your… family, and your… home world like that."

"Yeah." He did not know what to say, he did not know what to think. He felt a sudden, almost uncontrollable urge to take the book and throw it against the wall or out of the window. But while this would maybe give him a moment of deep satisfaction, it would not solve anything. The book was there. The story was there. And he was…

"Some things in there are wrong, though," he said finally.

"Wrong?" Mina swivelled around on her chair and faced him, excitement gleaming in her eyes. "How wrong?"

"Wrong wrong." Elentar retorted, regretting the sharp tone of his voice instantly. "I'm sorry."

"That's okay. But… may I ask what it is that's wrong in the books?"

"I guess so…" He forced himself to let go of the book and lean back against the couch. "Helm's Deep. It was one of my favourite stories as a child. There was a large contingent of archers sent there from Lothlórien, and a small company of spear fighters from Imladris. They later accompanied the Rohirrim to fight on the Fields of the Pelennor and at the Black Gates, too. My father said it was no more than a gesture, because they could not spare many fighters – orcs were gathering at Dol Guldur, and they expected attacks on Lórien and Eryn Lasgalen. But my father said both my great-grandmother and my grandfather were of one mind: it was essential that the friendship between Edain and Eldar had to be renewed in the face of that Enemy. There's a park in Minas Tirith to commemorate the elves that died during those battles, and I think there's a memorial at Helm's Deep, too – though I've never been there."

Mina stared at him, her mouth opening in an astonished "Oh".

"And that story about the meeting of my uncle and my aunt," he went on. "That's not how it happened at all. The story that is in the appendices –" He thumped the book. "That's a song! I think someone called Lindir composed it to honour my aunt and my uncle. He wrote a long song he called the 'Lay of Arwen' and modelled it after the 'Lay of Lúthien'. They met at dinner. Arwen arrived in the afternoon, travelling from Lothlórien. She did whatever females do when they spend hours in the bathroom, and was introduced to my uncle at dinner that night. My grandfather threw what you would call a 'Welcome home'-party for my aunt. And that's how they met. They were dinner partners and afterwards they danced together."

He sounded slightly irritated. "My sisters liked the song better than how it really happened," he added as an afterthought.

"I'm sorry," Mina said softly. "I –"

"It's okay." He released his breath in a sigh. "No, it's not. But there's nothing you can do.

"He did not say that it was my father and my uncles who reforged Narsil. My father said it would never break again because it carried the strength and the love of three brothers."

He felt as if his words were like pebbles being cast into a lake made up of his memories. Each sentence was a pebble, and the rings they made as they sank to the ground stirred yet another memory. His heart was heavy. Like a rock it would sink straight to the darkest and most painful depths of his past.

"I enjoyed the story about the barrow-wights as a child.

"I would have liked to meet my grandfather.


He stopped and rubbed his burning eyes. The threatening tears had subsided, but he felt definitely shaken. He was almost scared to look at Mina again. He knew by now what he would find in her gaze. Solid, unwavering sympathy. What scared him even more was that he wanted to find that in her eyes.

"So you agree with my idea that Tolkien really came from Middle-earth?"

He smiled a silent thank you at her.

"Yes, I do agree. Whoever he was, he is from Middle-earth. And he has a nasty sense of humour, too."

Mina frowned. "A nasty sense of humour? How?"

"Well…" Elentar flipped through the appendices. "The pronunciation guide he has in here… he uses some sound shifts that were hotly debated among my people. Or so my father taught me. And…" He looked at the pages in front of him and could not quite contain a certain smirk.

"What?" Mina's frown deepened.

"He used sound shifts that were… discarded, or which were only debated, or the opposite of that which actually occurred."

"What?" She narrowed her eyes to furious slits. "He did what?"

"Look," He motioned for her to come over and sit down next to him. "Here, and here and here." His finger traced the pages where the Elvish languages and their pronunciation were discussed. "Those are the sounds I have practiced with you."

He repeated them again. "Apparently the original sounds were this." He picked up a piece of paper and quickly jotted them down. "Then sound shifts occurred – sometimes it was decided that certain sounds suited better, at other times the changes simply occurred and it was debated whether that was acceptable or not. There was much controversy. That was in Aman… long before the Noldor returned to Middle-earth." He demonstrated the sounds that had sparked the discussion among the elves in Aman.

Mina repeated the sounds under her breath, some of them the familiar sounds she had picked out of "The Lord of the Rings" and other writings by Tolkien, others the accentuations that Elentar had been teaching her, and some that were completely unfamiliar.

Elentar put the pen down. "That guy, whoever he was – or is, he put exactly the wrong sound shifts into those books."

"But how could he do that! That's… that's…" Mina was positively fuming and helplessly searching for a fitting epithet. "How could he!!!

"That's simply mean!" She concluded finally. Her blazing eyes were angry; her bearing was that of a deeply affronted scholar. Somehow she reminded him of his father…

"I'm sorry, sweet." Without thinking he put his arm around her and pulled her against him, placing a kiss on her mouth. At first resisting, he felt how her pouting lips relaxed under the pressure of his mouth. They grew soft, and silky, then the pressure was returned. His heartbeat quickened. He had to release the breath he had been holding in a sigh, and as his lips opened, he felt Mina's tongue curling lightly against them. He felt his own tongue slip forwards, twining around Mina's in a lazy, languid dance.

When they broke apart, Elentar felt as if he was coming up for air after diving down into a deep pool. He was panting, and his heart was positively racing. And there was Mina in his arms…

He coughed and drew back, feeling awkward. Passion throbbed in his body, and he was glad that he was wearing thick new jeans that concealed quite how strongly his body was reacting to this… kiss.

"I – I – ah – yes," he said and forced himself to turn back to the book. "What was it we were talking about?"

Mina sighed. He did not dare to look at her. He could feel her thoughts as he had never felt the thoughts of another being before, probably because he had kept away from all human contact for such a long time.

She wanted him. She wanted him as much as he wanted her.

Why was he so frightened to give in?


Her heart was in her ears, a heated pulse, and she felt how her fingers curled into fists of suppressed anger. They slept in each other's arms every night, and there had been so much desire in that kiss, how could he simply stop? How could he simply lie next to her and do… …nothing?

She had never expected him to feel attracted to her. She was discomfited by how much she felt drawn to him. But – this – he was obviously attracted to her. The denim covered bulge was not as invisible as he was apparently hoping it was. While she understood his initial need to simply be held, touched, embraced, to simply feel another, no, not another human being, but… to simply feel another person again, she did understand that! More than that, she felt incredibly touched, and humbled that he allowed her to be the one who held him, who comforted him. But why did he make no move to go beyond that? Especially since it seemed so obvious that he wanted to?

Mina's fingernails bit into her palms. She felt the urge to noisily snort "Men!" and huff off to the kitchen or to her bedroom. But even as the urge occurred to her, she knew that it would not help. He was no man, even if he was more obstinate than any partner she had had before. She did allow herself a sigh.

Then, her voice almost steady, she replied, "We were talking about where Tolkien came from. Do you have any idea who he was? If he put such subtle mistakes into the books as some kind of weird joke, he must be someone with an intimate knowledge of the Elvish languages and their history."

The gratitude in Elentar's eyes at her acceptance of his drawing back once more both soothed her and infuriated her.

"Are you asking if he was an elf?"

Mina nodded. "Yes, more or less. What do you think?"

Elentar raised his eyebrows as he pondered the matter. She traced the graceful arc of the brows with her eyes, eyebrows of doom, indeed. Almost against her will, Mina felt a smile tugging at the corner of her lips.

Then Elentar shook his head. "No, I don't think so. Though my reasoning is not exactly that of a scholar…"

"Why?" Her hands relaxed slightly, and she turned to Elentar again, curious for his explanation.

He grinned, a little embarrassed. "Well, look at me! I have been here for more than three hundred years, and I have not dared to write down anything about where I come from. You are the first person I have ever told more about my origins than that I am a fisher from LeHavre!"

"Oh." Now it was Mina's turn to feel discomfited. "So you don't think an elf would do that? I mean, even if it's not something you would do…"

Elentar shook his head. "No, I really don't think it was an elf."

He rubbed his hand over his mouth in a thoughtful gesture. "And it's not only that I don't think an elf would not dare that… obviously we are quite daring, at times."

To Mina's immense amusement the tip of his right ear that peeked through his dreadlocks seemed to flush in an almost pink colour.

"Well – there are too many details about other cultures in there. Although elves were always lore masters and collectors of knowledge, we never knew very much about hobbits, or even dwarves."

"Good point." Mina pondered what else he had told her. "But then who was it?"

Suddenly a thought struck her. "And how is it possible that Peter Jackson used the correct version in the movies? Or – not quite the correct version… he did not have any elves in Minas Tirith."

"Peter Jackson?" Elentar stared at her, momentarily confused.

Mina stared back. "Of course. You never saw the movies, did you?"

He rolled his eyes at her. "I'm a homeless street musician, remember? The likes of me are seldom invited to a show in the local multi-plex cinema."

Mina counted silently to three. So he did not actually enjoy the way he had been living. There was so much she did not know or understand about him.

"Well," she explained, satisfied that her voice was quite calm. "In the movie, there are elves at Helm's Deep. But there are no elves at Minas Tirith. Did Haldir die at Helm's Deep?"

"Haldir?" Elentar frowned. Then he remembered the name. "No. Or – I don't think so. I don't remember the name from anything that my father told me."

"Would an ordinary human being have an idea that changes the plot of the books in a way that it is actually closer to the real history of your world?" Mina automatically sucked her lower lip into her mouth after asking that question. It was possible. Probable?

Elentar slowly shook his head. "I don't really think so. But what does that mean?"

Mina exhaled her breath in a whistle. "Damned if I know! Maybe there's someone else around who knows Middle-earth, and he – or she, I suppose – has been talking to P.J.?"

"Making good money with the books and the movies, you mean?"

"Yeah, something like that," Mina agreed.

"I won't see the movies."

She had not expected that he would. "No, of course not. And I would never expect you to! Actually, I don't think it's the same person. It just doesn't, hm, feel the same."

Though if there were more subtle jokes like the one with the wrong pronunciations, she would obviously be the last to recognize them.

"But the author of those books definitely has to be from Middle-earth."

Elentar nodded. "Yes, I think so."

"If he is… you know, Elentar, he wrote much more than only these books, or what is published in 'The Silmarillion' or even in the collection his son published, the history of Middle-earth. I mean, maybe, in one of the Tolkien archives, maybe there is something somewhere that could help you go home."

Elentar tensed, and Mina immediately knew that she had said something wrong. "Mina, but don't you understand? Middle-earth isn't my home! I ran away from my family, from my home. I had no home in Middle-earth even before I came here!" He paused. Without looking at her, he continued, "And even if I could return to Middle-earth, what would I find when I returned now? Can you remember an ancestor of your family who disappeared three hundred years ago? Or even any name from your family from, say, 1700?"

Of course she could not.

He slowly turned around and faced her, his eyes dark with pain. "It doesn't matter if there is a way back to Middle-earth for me, Mina, because I have no home in Middle-earth that I could return to."


He could see in her eyes how hurt she was. She had only wanted to help, and he had practically thrown her friendship back into her face.

He jumped to his feet and went to the window, no longer able to sit in one place, pacing back and forth, trying to walk away his agitation. Of course the apartment was too small for that. But he did not want to leave it for the deepening twilight of early spring.

He stopped dead in his tracks, staring out of the window without really looking at anything. He did not want to leave her.

While it was true what he had said, that he had no home in Middle-earth, and that he had had no home there even before he had passed through the Void to this world, only a few weeks ago he would probably have hesitated not even for a second if he had found a door with the sign "back to Middle-earth" on it. But now…

He inhaled deeply, a very shaky breath. Then he turned around and nearly jumped out of his skin when he found Mina standing right behind him. He had been so preoccupied with his thoughts that he had never heard her approaching him.

"I'm sorry."

"I'm so sorry, I did not –" he broke off, then tried again. He reached for Mina, gently taking her arms, fighting the urge to pull her closely against him. "I'm sorry," he repeated. "You only wanted to help me. I know."

She nodded silently, but she did not try to pull away.

He felt the warmth of her body even through jeans and shirt. There was something to her scent that made his skin prickle with need. And it was no longer the need to be held, to simply feel the bodily presence of another soul. It was more. It was a fierce need, a deep desire. It filled his whole body, his whole soul, and it made his thela throb almost painfully.

For a fleeting moment he wondered if it had been like this for his parents, when they had come together, when they had joined, body and soul… But then Mina moved forward a little, pressing her body against him, her hands sliding around his hips and cupping his buttocks.

"I know," she whispered. She tilted her head up. "Kiss me and make it all better?"

He inclined his head and touched his lips to her mouth. As before, he felt the smooth touch of her tongue questing his mouth. This time he was ready for it and responded by twirling his tongue against her lips in return, soon conducting a thoroughly exhilarating exploration of his own.

At long last they had to come up for breath or suffocate. They broke apart and gasped for air, clinging to each other with their hands as if they were drowning.

And maybe they were. But at the moment Elentar could not care less.

"Bed," Mina said decisively, drawing him forwards, the pressure of her body and the zipper now less than pleasant against his straining member.

"Yes," he groaned. He would do anything to get out of his jeans at the moment and anything to be with Mina.

He kissed her again, a slow kiss this time, mouth closed, but he allowed his lips to wander away from hers, sliding down to her chin, her jaw, the pounding vein along her throat. When he had reached the neck of her shirt, he stopped. He drew back again but without releasing her. "Let's go."

They moved towards the door, their progress hampered by arms twined around two bodies, two bodies trying to press as closely together as two people could and still be able to walk. When they collided with the frame, Mina stumbled, and Elentar had to catch her in his arms. Somehow one of his hands ended up under her shirt, and he thought the feel of her naked skin was enough to drive him crazy.

"Bed," Elentar breathed, inhaling her scent, trying to keep from pounding himself against her right then and there.

"Good idea."

They finally reached the bed and collapsed in a heap. He tried to undress her. His hands were inside her shirt, groping for the hooks of her bra, while she fumbled for the buttons of his jeans, while she flailed her legs around to get rid of her own pants, while he tried simultaneously to shrug off his shirt, until they suddenly found themselves tied together in a knot of limbs, loosened attire, and searching tongues.

"Stop, stop, you're tearing my shirt apart!" Mina's voice sounded giddy.

The daze of passion receded enough to allow him to smile at her, and to think that he had never seen anyone look that beautiful before, tangled hair of black and silver, the sweaty blouse halfway discarded, her breasts almost ready to spill out of the bra, if he could get another go at those damn hooks, that was…

"Sorry." He smiled and could not help himself. He just had to reach for that tendril of damp hair and smooth it back, and trail his fingers down her cheek, her jaw, her throat and enjoy how she shivered against him.

"You are so beautiful."

She caught his hand and kissed his fingertips.

"You are, too."

They separated and slowly, facing each other, watching each other carefully, finished undressing. He was very much aware of his member. It strained towards Mina's body, and it felt as if it was on fire. He had not felt like that for many years. It was a feeling somewhere between pleasure and pain, and he wanted it to last.

She sneezed, and for some reason that brought out goose bumps all over her body and made her nipples stand up even more.

Suddenly, he felt awkward again. True, they had slept in one bed for several nights now, but this… this was different.

"May I?" He held his hands out to her in a receiving, longing gesture. He wanted to touch her breasts, full, slightly sagging, slightly irregular, and so utterly enticing. Instead of replying, she simply moved a little forward, and so her breasts slid into his hands. Feeling this hot, smooth weight in his hands, made desire well up inside him so powerfully that he had to close his eyes for a moment. When he opened them again, he saw that his thela was crowned with the telltale sign of eagerness, a small, pearlescent drop.

And Mina was merciless; she leaned against him, pressing the thick curls of her – Mozart had called it "triangle of love" – against him, and he felt that he must have her now, now, or simply burst apart.

"What do you call it?" she asked and reached down.

His reply was an incoherent moan, as all his juices, and all his desire fought for release.

"Thela," he answered finally, his voice hoarse.

"A spear!" He felt her smile against his breast, as she kissed her way towards his nipple. She nipped his sensitive skin lightly, almost playfully, while her hands slid around to his buttocks once more. "And what a wonderful spear."

Suddenly, she looked into his eyes. "And will the great warrior show me how to use it?"

"He will," he replied and pulled Mina down to the mattress with him.

Lying next to her, he could not hold his hands still any longer, or keep his mouth from her body. He had to touch her skin, he had to explore the wonderland that was her body, all those secret places that made her smile and writhe and gasp. He lost all sense of time. All he knew was that his body, yes, his very soul was becoming so attuned to Mina, that he hardly knew where his body ended and hers began. He felt his fingers on the small pearl of flesh between her legs as if he was rubbing the sensitive vein on the underside of his member, and he knew that she felt the feelings that her hands kneading his buttocks provoked as if she had slipped out of her skin and was inside his body.

Suddenly, he could wait no longer. He needed, he needed, he could not withstand the strain any longer. He needed to be within her, he needed to be one with her in any way he could. He wanted only one thing, to make their love come alive, to make their love real, as real as a young tree, springing to life, to flower, and then to ripen and bear fruit.

He felt the juices rise within him and with a gasp sheathed himself within her body. She twined her legs around his to draw him even deeper. She pressed her body up against him, even as he pressed downwards, setting a rhythm much like the sea, undulating in waves of pleasure, flesh within flesh and soul within soul.

Orgasm grabbed him as suddenly, as unexpectedly, as the maelstrom of the foundering ship that had brought him to this world centuries ago. One minute there was straining, painful sweetness, the next a release of fire burned away all barriers that were left between himself and Mina.

Within the fire that engulfed them, it seemed to him that he could see a tiny seed, an almost imperceptible seed, golden, and beautiful.

And it took root.

In the aftermath of passion, he lay with Mina in his arms. The tension and the heat of shared desire were slowly ebbing out of his member, and with it the echo of vows of love he barely remembered speaking.

"I live for you. I die for you."

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.

Story Information

Author: JunoMagic

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: Multi-Age

Genre: General

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 08/08/07

Original Post: 03/05/06

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