"I am not a child anymore," protested Caranthir. "I do not need you to braid my hair," he informed Maglor
Maglor took no heed of his words. Instead, he continued combing and braiding Caranthir's long black hair. After Maglor had gotten Caranthir out of the water, he had cleaned Caranthir wounds and proceeded to pamper his younger sibling thoroughly, much to Caranthir's outward annoyance. Inwardly Caranthir was glad, very glad, to feel so loved.
When Maglor was finished with his brother's hair, he planted a soft kiss on his head and sat down on a rock across from Caranthir. "You are such a mother hen," Caranthir declared. "I am surprised you have not started a home for war orphaned children, or found a maiden with whom to beget a brood of children."
Maglor looked away, his eyes filled with grief, "What home do I have that I can share with children, any children?" he wondered. "As for finding a maiden, perhaps one day the mist that seems to envelop me always will clear and I will find her bathed in the colours of the Ilweran."
Caranthir whistled. "You do set your sights high. Are you afraid that any maiden who cannot travel the Ilweran will disappoint you?" he asked.
"I could ask you the same thing," Maglor retorted. "How is it, brother, that you are willing to let your love go with nary a word, when you are second only to Maedhros in your fighting spirit?"
Caranthir looked away, "I don't want to talk about it," he snapped.
"Very well," said Maglor.
Silence. "She scorned my love because I spoke the truth," Caranthir spat out at length.
"And what is this truth that you spoke to her?" wondered Maglor.
"That the Noldor are greater than Laiquendi, indeed than all Teleri."
Maglor took a deep breath in and released it slowly, "Gold is a metal highly valued, for it is beautiful in appearance. Yet it is soft and is not suitable for much other than ornamentation. Steel is not so beautiful, yet it is very useful, it too is valued greatly, especially at times of war. However, neither gold nor steel can quench our thirst when we are parched, though more water is in Arda than either gold or steel. Which than is greater, the gold that adorns our necks, the steel that sits at our side or water that sustains our life?" he wondered.
"What does this have to do with anything?" demanded Caranthir; he hated these kinds of philosophical riddles. Finrod and Maglor were full of them.
"Everything," said Maglor. "You told her that the Noldor were greater than the Laiquendi, and certainly in many ways, we are, but in others, the Laiquendi surpass us, and depending on the circumstance, they can be like water to a thirsty man." He looked Caranthir deeply in his eyes. "Tell me brother, why do you love her?"
"Because…" Because she is beautiful, inside and out, because she showed him empathy without pitying him, because she is Ninglorrîn.
Maglor nodded and Caranthir knew that he had discerned all that he had thought though not a word had passed his lips. "Now, answer me this brother: how much of what she is, is because she is a Laiquendi?"
In that moment, Caranthir was hit with an euphony so clear it scared him, Maglor smiled and got up, "Ninglorrîn is leaving Beleriand. She headed east several days ago. She wishes to go to Eriador and walk the woods where she was born once more. Perhaps you should go with her, for a time let the oath sleep."
Caranthir said nothing. Maglor gave him a parting embrace and left.
She sat on the branch, her back pressed against the tree trunk, gazing up at the sky. Up here, in the midst of birds, she was as safe from the fell creatures of Morgoth as any; here she could sleep with ease if sleep is what she desired, but she dared not travel the paths of dream, afraid that she would see his face and feel the pangs of love in her heart. Suddenly, she sat up, her back rigid. The faint sound of running hooves reached her ears, that and the feel of his presence. She sat stock still, praying to all the powers for him to pass her by. He did not.
Caranthir got off his horse at the foot of the tree and called out softly, "Ninglorrîn," no response, "I am not going to beg," he snapped.
Silence, a soft sigh, a rush of air as Ninglorrîn jumped down from the tree, landing gracefully on her feet, "Caranthir," one word, laced with so many emotions. Grief, anger, confusion, love, joy, all were there and Caranthir knew not which to address first.
Indeed, Caranthir did not know what to say now that she stood in front of him. "There was a deer," was the first thing that came out of his mouth, Ninglorrîn looked more confused than anything else. "I ran across it and wanted to kill it. To eat it," he explained. "I was hungry, and also I didn't know when I was going to rejoin my brothers and my men. I was travelling alone. I thought I could save some of the meat from this kill and not have to forage for food for some time." He was babbling, but he did not know what else to do, what else to say. "I couldn't kill it; I couldn't bring myself to throw my spear. I kept thinking how sad you would be, and I couldn't do it." He could not think of anything else to say. Therefore, he fell silent, keeping his eyes trained on Ninglorrîn's.
A myriad of emotions played through her mind as she tried to make sense of Caranthir's strange mood and the strange play of his thoughts, so disjointed but so coherent at the same time. Finally, she whispered, "Something is different about you."
"I had a… insightful talk with Maglor." Caranthir said by way of explanation.
"And what insight did you gain?" enquired Ninglorrîn gently.
"You are water, and I am a man who is dying of thirst," was Caranthir's cryptic response.
"I see," Ninglorrîn replied, then she laughed a soft laugh. "How unlucky for me that my soul mate is a man of so few words and all of them so very cryptic. Yet I see that you have finally began to see that we Laiquendi are just different from the Noldor and so cannot be judged greater or lesser than them, for who is to say whether apples are better than blueberries? All that can be said is that you would rather have blueberries in your oatmeal than apples."
Caranthir mind was reeling, "You will be mine, then." Not a question, a declaration.
Ninglorrîn looked away. "The Noldor exchange rings of silver when they pledge their troth?"
"We do," replied Caranthir.
"And wed after year, exchanging rings of gold?"
"In time of peace, yes," answered Caranthir. "But in time of war," he continued as he took a ring of gold, set with dark blue sapphires and jet black onyx, made my his brother Curufin as a token of his lordship over Dor Caranthir, off his finger, "we wed immediately."
Ninglorrîn looked at the ring. She felt she was in a daze; things were moving so fast. A strong gust of wind made her hair flutter about her, the ranched stench of orcs tainting the air. Suddenly she was reminded that the years of peace were gone, here, now, one must do all that one could and wished today, for tomorrow may never come, "We place a wreath made of the seasons flowers on the head of the one we are to wed as we say the vows," she explained. "I shall make one for you."
"Now," encouraged Caranthir gently.
Ninglorrîn smiled. "Now," she agreed.
[i] Ilweran = rainbow. To understand the conversation between Caranthir and Maglor you have to know that in "History of Middle-earth: Book of lost tales" it states that at one stage Tolkien referred to rainbows as "the Bridge of Heaven" and it was another way being could journey to and from Valinor. However, no mortal could ride the rainbow and no elf had the heart to ride the rainbow (whatever that means) so when Maglor is referring to finding a maiden bathing in the colours of the rainbow he is talking about finding a divine being, such as a Maia, at the end of a rainbow, who has recently arrived from Valinor. You can well understand why Caranthir would tease him about setting his sights high, since the only elf to ever wed with a divine being is Thingol, even in Aman no elf is recorded as wedding a Maia.
[ii] Dor Caranthir = Caranthir's Land (this guy obviously had no imagination when it came to names)
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