The first time he had seen her had been through a haze of pain and weariness. Hunted by the foul creatures of Morgoth, Caranthir and his men had made a desperate stand in the heart of the forest, fully believing that this was their end. It would have been his end, at least if the Laiquendi had not succoured them when they had. Three arrows had pierced his body, one his shin, and the other two his shield arm through his broken Armour and shield. He remembered collapsing into her arms, numb with pain and poison. She had tended to him for four long nights and three long days, as he had lain paralyzed from head to foot.
It was sickening to be that helpless, that dependent, on another. All through the night, Caranthir had pondered ways to tell her to kill him, if she could not reverse the paralysis. All through the nights, he had pondered his fate, the exact wording of the oath he had taken. He had not abandoned his quest, he had not broken his oath, he would not, he should not be thrown into the everlasting darkness. Would he? That had been the worst time of his life. He had been a prisoner in his own body, and the cage of his prison had seemed to close in more as time dragged on. More and more, his mind had drifted back to the time when all had been right. When the trees had still shone and he and his brothers had gone on long journeys with their father upon the wide open lands of Aman. He remembered his mother joining them from time to time, for she had not had the strength of her youth after bearing so many sons, but she was always waiting for them at their house with freshly baked bread and savoury treats when their hearts brought them back home. With only his mind at his disposal, Caranthir had done a lot of thinking. Finally, believing he would go mad if he dwelt on the past a moment longer, he had ruthlessly wrenched his mind to the present and had fallen under her woodland spell.
She had been there with him as he had suffered in unbearable mental anguish brought on by guilt, memory, longing, and uncertainty, singing to him, telling him that everything would be alright and she had believed what she was saying, she had given him hope - hope to which he had desperately clung till the effects of the poison had been removed from his hoä. Yet, he had never been the same, never, for he had been unable to break the spell she had unconsciously laid upon him. Since then, he had waged a silent battle to master his emotions, after all he was a prince of the Noldor, a prince of the people who had seen the two trees, who had been tutored by the Valar and had been raised above the dwellers of marred Endor. He could not, would not, wed with a Moriqeundi maiden, especially one belonging to the rustic Nandor. So far, it was a losing battle.
Moreover, his fiery temper had ensured that his struggle to master his emotions had not remained a secret for long. Although, it would seem that not all were aware of what would happen to them if they dared to woo Ninglorrîn. "The light of the very fire seemed to be twined in your hair," whispered the warrior as he gazed with mesmerized concentration upon the elf maiden's hair.
'I'll intertwine fire with your hair if you do not stop staring at her,' thought Caranthir as he shot death glares at the elf. "Are we going to have breakfast anytime soon?" demanded Caranthir before Ninglorrîn could reply to the romantic overtures of the warrior.
"Well, Lord Caranthir, it was by your own choice that you went to bed hungry last night," she reminded him tartly.
Caranthir snorted, "I assure you that the Noldor are hardy enough to forgo many a meal and still have strength enough to fight a band of Uruki, out numbered two to one."
"Careful, lord," warned Ninglorrîn, "I might be tempted to put you to the test," Caranthir smiled a slow deadly smile, his eyes flashing fire, challenging her to withhold his breakfast. She met and held his gaze without flinching, daring him in turn to back away from his bold claim.
The stalemate might have lasted long had not Ninglorrîn's admirer intervened, "I think, my lady, that the oat is done."
Still holding Caranthir's gaze she smiled indulgently at the warrior, "I think you are right, Laeglass." With that, she looked to the large clay pot on the fire and began scooping the oatmeal made of wild oats out on to large water lily leaves that served as plates.
Four other Laiquendi began adding either blueberries or raspberries to the oat before serving them. In times of peace and plenty, Caranthir would have been the first to be served, but in times of war and dearth, Caranthir was the last to eat. Maedhros was the one who began the custom and it, like many other things Maedhros did, fostered a greater bond between him and his men, and his brothers were thus quick to follow. He had never regretted following this custom till then, for it did not escape his notice that the pile of berries was diminishing much more quickly than they ought to have been.
Sure enough, the last berry disappeared just before it was his turn to be served. "My lady, it seems that we have not picked enough berries," whispered one of the Laiquendi serving breakfast.
Ninglorrîn looked at the empty leaves where the berries had been, turned her gaze to Caranthir, and smiled, "Do we still have some apples left from last night?" she asked.
Caranthir did not wait for the answer. Making little attempt to hide is anger, he rose and said to his men in a barely restrained voice, "Ere noon, we leave to find my brothers, the Ambarussa," and he was gone.
She hated his pride, his prejudice against all things not Noldor. She was not fooled by his constant harping about the Valar and the two trees; she very much doubted whether he would treat her any differently had she been born a Vanya or a Teleri of Aman. No, the only way he would not resist his feelings for her was if she had been a Noldo, but she was not. She had been born in the land of twilight when Morgoth had yet been chained in the Halls of Mandos, and under the stars she had walked all the ages of Morgoth's captivity, delighting in the freedom offered by the forests of Middle Earth. Yet for she was a child of twilight, she had tasted the bitterness of the shadows long before Caranthir truly understood what bitterness was, and in the ways of marred land of Endor, she was wiser than he.
Caranthir, however, had claimed her heart from the first moment she had lain eyes on him, and why not? He was a mighty lord, possessing wisdom of a kind, and he was brave. He could be compassionate when he wanted to be. The first time she had seen him, he and his men had been fighting a desperate battle. Caranthir had been in the forefront, standing over the prone body of his esquire, protecting the wounded elf with his own limbs. That was how Caranthir had managed to get pierced by three arrows and had come so close to death. She shivered at the very memory of his pale ghostly face, the very image of a corpse but set with bright, painfully aware eyes that shone with a light she could barely meet, and she knew she could never love another.
Yet, yet, it quickly became clear that while he loved her as well, he would never act upon his feelings and that… infuriated and frustrated her. She turned away from the sulking form of Caranthir, sitting on a log far from the camp. Why was it that she delighted in humiliating him so much? Is it because she thought that if she tore down his pride, he would begin to see her as something other than a rustic Laiquendi? Or did she think that by making him thoroughly hate her she would be better able to bear his… rejection. She closed her eyes and sighed, why was he so blind? Why could he not see that things that grow out of the earth had just as much worth as things that come out of the earth?
She laughed a soft sad laugh, as she laid her forehead against the smooth bark of the nearest tree and wondered if the light of the two trees had not been too bright, too intense, blinding all who dwelt in the land lit by them. Heavy footsteps behind her, the loud jangling of metal amour a marked indication that a Noldo was near, "Lord Caranthir," she greeted without turning around.
"Sick of Laeglass's romantic overtures already," Caranthir could not fully disguise the delight in his voice, "I suppose I would tire of inane comments that you Laiquendi consider romantic."
Wrong thing to say because the next minute Caranthir found himself face to face with a very irate elven maiden, "Believe me when I say, Lord Caranthir, the most hesitant of romantic overtures from the men of my humble people pleases me more than the grandest of poems form your silvery forked tongue," with that she was gone, leaving Caranthir regretting and rejoicing his words.
[i] Ninglor = golden water-flower, rîn = crowned lady, so Ninglorrîn means golden water-flower crowned lady.
[ii] Laeglass = greenleaf, Laeg = green, lass = leaf (I ran out of ideas for names)
[iii] Laiquendi = green elves
[iv] Uruki = orcs
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.