9. Chapter 9
- Chapter 9 -
The small but obstinate bug was back. Wyn scowled as she saw it land once again on the table she was wiping, stretch its legs and trot leisurely across the wooden surface. 'Go away!' she repeated, nudging it delicately with a finger. But the insect did not seem deterred by her words or gesture. Deviated from its course, it paused as if to think and, finding the cap again, resumed its journey. Wyn sighed. 'You are looking for trouble!' she warned it, hands on her hips.
If insects had eyebrows, this one would've cocked one in challenge.
'Stupid bug.' She reached out and picked it up, holding the fragile carapace between her thumb and index. With the other hand, she opened the window. 'Out with you!' she declared, setting the insect down on the windowsill. As it stretched out its small wings and took flight, Wyn could not help but sigh. Foolish as it seemed, the bug had provided a welcome distraction from her jumbled thoughts.
And jumbled they were… Dark and luminous, gloomy yet filled with delighted admiration; scary yet wondrous, the events of the night before yesterday came back to her. Truth was she did not know how to label them. The altercation with the drunkard had been frightening, as Wyn had imagined all too well the possible – and unpleasant – scenarii that could have resulted from her clumsiness; yet the turn of events had been changed unexpectedly, transporting her into one of those fairy tales where a poor maiden was saved by a dark and mysterious stranger.
Not that Wyn fooled herself: the man had gone his own way, and she would never see him again. She even understood the motivation of his kind gesture, secretly relieved that such nobility still existed in their forgotten corner of the country.
But his words, she did not know what to do with them. They remained etched in her memory, engraved forever along with his deep, mesmerising voice. Don't forsake your dreams. I promise they will come true… Those words held such wondrous perspectives, would paint her happiness beyond her wildest dreams if only she let them. They promised stone castles and floating banners, handsome warriors and feasts, and songs, and…
Wyn realized that she had allowed her mind to wander once again into the foolishly romantic territories of her secret fantasies. She sighed again and closed her eyes, inhaling the fresh, cool scent of the spring morning outside. The sun had risen not long ago, but the world still held the brand new colors of dawn, bright and promising. It would be a beautiful day.
And only that.
She could not, must not wish for more, for everyone's sake, and especially her own. False hopes would do her heart little good.
Resigned, she picked up the discarded rag she used to dust off the scarce furniture of their home and set back to work. Already her leg was hurting, but she welcomed the pain as a sharp reminder of who and what she was.
Someone yelled outside; Wyn shook her head. Probably some drunkard, returning from his all-night feast in the tavern. Finishing with the table, she moved to the cupboard and bent to glance beneath it. Sometimes, she would find a coin or two in the dust; not this time.
More cries made her frown. Surely, the tavern was not that big as to hold an entire village? Because that was exactly how it sounded, even though Wyn knew better. She worked there, after all…
From where she stood, she could see people pouring out of their houses, their faces various shades of ashen. They whispered in hushed voices and, it seemed to her, cast frightened glances towards her house. Some were pointing to the horizon.
Raising an eyebrow in somewhat sceptical interest, Wyn put down the rag and limped over to the window. The whispers died down for a second, she thought, before starting again with renewed vigour. Shrugging, she looked to the horizon...
...And would have fallen, had she not steadied herself by catching hold of the table.
For there, silhouetted against the rising sun and mounted on a magnificent, white horse, rode an elf. She could see it from her window: the unearthly, almost painful perfection of his face, the litheness of his body, his straight, dark hair cascading past his pointed ears…
It can not be! Wyn choked, emotion rising in her chest, constricting her heart and throat. Whose cruel joke is this? Stumbling blindly, she tried to run, but only managed an ungraceful and hasty waddle. Ripping the door open, she limped to where the other villagers stood, hiding the rider from view. Then the crowd parted before her and she could see him again, in all his glorious beauty. Wyn saw their faces: scared, astonished, envious, without the slightest trace of laughter or mockery. Her name was on everyone's lips, spoken with reverence rather than disdain. Then she turned her gaze back to the rider.
The sun was glistening off his armour, off the jewels adorning his steed's bridle. And when he came closer, Wyn saw his clear eyes scan the crowd. Fear gripped her heart then. What if he did not recognize her? What if he chose someone else? She stumbled forward. 'It's me!' she cried. 'You came for me!'
Through the tears that streamed down her face, she saw him smile. He was so close now that there was no mistaking him for a dream; he was real, and so were his strong hands as he leaned down to lift her up from the ground. 'You came…' she sobbed as he gently wiped the tears away.
'I did,' he said. 'Such was the prophecy.' And everything in Wyn recognized him, opened up to him and settled, murmuring of home.
And when he leaned in to kiss her, she closed her eyes, happy and warm, certain that this was the way everything was meant to be.
Elrohir stretched under the sheets and turned around to look at his wife. His wife... How sweet those words sounded, full of marvellous perspectives and dreams. Wyn was sleeping soundly with her arms curled against her chest, her steady breath tickling his skin as he leaned closer to place a soft kiss on a dark lock that covered her temple. She shifted in her slumber, grimacing a little as the kiss tickled her, and Elrohir could not help but chuckle. She was his now, just as much as he was hers. Only he would be granted that smile of hers, when her whole face lit up in unveiled joy, when no words were needed as her eyes told him that she loved him... Only he would hold her close, feel the warmth of her soft skin beneath his. And he would be the one to make all her dreams come true. Elrohir smiled fondly: Wyn had many romantic fantasies in that little heart of hers, ideas of love and nobility that most had long discarded as obsolete and impractical. She had high standards, and Elrohir was not entirely certain that he was as brave and perfect as she thought he was, but he would do his very best to live up to them.
He watched as she slept, chest rising and falling slowly, long eyelashes fluttering as she wandered in one of her dreams. Wyn had no idea just how beautiful she was. Perfect, every feature pretty in such a way that her beauty endeared rather than intimidated; soft, delicate, lovely.
His stomach growled loudly enough to make him fear for her rest; but much to his relief she stirred without waking, and Elrohir decided that a breakfast in bed was a perfect way to begin their first day of marriage. He grinned as he pulled on his tunic, remembering as he and Elladan used to make fun of those enamoured, inseparable married couples as elflings, grimacing at their displays of affection. Now he was the besotted one...
He could only wish the same happiness for his brother.
As he reached the door, Elrohir glanced one last time behind him; Wyn was still asleep, undisturbed by his departure, and he would have her remain so until he returned. He wanted to be there when she woke up and realized that it had not only been a magnificent dream.
Cautiously closing the door behind him, Elrohir headed to the kitchens. The halls and corridors that he passed were predictably empty, the paintings that used to be jewels of art and colour now dull and dark beneath the dust that started to settle. He felt the familiar pang of regret that the time of the elves had to come to an end. Whether they left or faded, the First-born were leaving the shores for which they had fought for ages, and their departure had a taste of defeat. But the world had changed too much in the last years; war after war scarring the earth as Men fought for power and pleasure. The elves' attempts to prevent those battles had turned against them, alienating races that used to be allies.
'Morning, brother!' called out a too familiar voice, jerking Elrohir out of his thoughts. He looked up to see Elladan sitting on the kitchen counter, bare-footed and munching on a loaf of bread with the enthusiasm of a hungry hobbit. 'Such a grim face on your first day as a married man... Did the... erm... night go wrong?'
Elrohir felt blood flow to his cheeks in a blush. 'That would be none of your business, brother dear,' he snapped.
'My, so testy today... You must be hungry.' Elladan pushed the bread towards him. 'Eat something, it might cheer you up.'
Elrohir cocked a sceptical eyebrow, but helped himself to the bread anyway. They ate in silence for a while, until he spoke up again. 'It is strange,' he mused aloud. 'Something has changed, I can almost feel it...'
Elladan's head snapped up. 'Do you?' he asked cautiously.
Elrohir nodded. 'It is almost as though it was physical...' He looked up to see Elladan watching him with intensely, his expression almost avid. 'Do you not feel it?'
'I did not think you did...' whispered Elladan, his grey eyes boring into his. 'And... How do you feel about it?'
Elrohir shrugged, finishing off his bread. 'It makes me sad,' he admitted. 'We have lived here for so long that we became part of this earth... To see our people leave is harder than I thought it would be. There are no more elves on these shores, Elladan; I can feel it in my heart. The last ships have sailed...' He frowned suddenly, realizing the meaning of his words. 'The last ships... Elladan! How are you going to sail?'
Elladan looked at him in surprise, then gave him a crooked smile. 'I will find a way, brother,' he said quietly. 'I will find a way...' He shook his head. 'You should not worry about me,' he chided. 'You are the married one...'
'That I am.' Elrohir nodded, thinking of Wyn sleeping in his bed. Suddenly he wanted nothing more than to join her under the covers, to hold her close and let the beating of her heart lull him into slumber again. Brushing the crumbs off of his tunic, he picked up the remaining bread and a jug of juice. 'And now I return to my husbandly duties!' he smirked, curtseying. 'I will see you, Elladan.'
Elladan nodded mutely. He seemed thoughtful all of a sudden, and Elrohir's heart went to him, aching for his loneliness. 'You are not losing me, brother,' Elladan said suddenly. 'I will always be here. I am no different now, and I am not leaving you.' Elladan chuckled and patted him on the shoulder. 'Indeed, you are lingering here and neglecting your wife! Go now, she must be waiting!'
As Elrohir returned to his room through the long corridors of Imladris, he felt relieved at his exchange with his brother. He knew how much it must have cost Elladan to touch him, feeling as life slowly seeped from his body like grains of sand in an hourglass, but that simple contact had meant more for Elrohir than a thousand words. For the second time Elladan was watching a loved one die, and yet he would stay to the end, if Elrohir let him...
Enough sacrifices, Elrohir thought. Enough broken lives and wasted time. Elladan has given more than enough. It was time they all got their share of happiness; together, like the family they now were.
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.