12. Scene III.ii - part I
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
BELOVED FOOL: BEYOND THE WESTERN SEA
[Beside the waterfall, Luthien is now holding Beren, kneeling with him half-sitting against her, her arms folded over his, resting her cheek against his head. He seems calmer now but very worn out. Huan is lying stretched beside him with his head on Beren's knees. Finrod has taken over the harp-playing, and the Ten are kneeling in a close ring around the four of them. There is a somber and tense air to the scene]
Ranger: [to the Warrior, who keeps looking at the spill-pool distractedly]
I was thinking some light would be good. Remember those little floating lamps in the summer? Wouldn't flames look nice reflecting off the water?
How would you go about doing it? You're not going to actually try burning something, are you?
No, I thought the way we did it for the Battle. Just an illusion.
Oh, all right.
--You should do it. That could be quite lovely.
[they set about creating tall intense-white candle-like flames on the surface of the calmer, shallow end of the spill-pool]
Beren: [still vague and a bit slurred]
So then . . . what did they say?
Nothing -- nothing much. Stupid things. --The same old rotten nonsense.
Sorry . . .
[he gives her left hand a little shake where it is entwined with his]
Just doesn't stop, does it?
Luthien: [shaking her head]
I still can't believe they'd be so horrible -- I wouldn't ever have thought it of Angrod especially, not after being so forgiving to House Feanor. Oh but I'm going to have words for him when I see him! And Aegnor too!
[there is a discordant chord and break in the background music]
I'm sorry -- I didn't mean to fail you again. I thought it would be safe enough, or I'd not have left him here.
The blame is mine, for failing to send them away promptly enough.
How could you have stopped them, my lord? I don't see any gates to close against them. And you're not my Mom, so you couldn't have made a maze to keep them out.
Nevertheless a task was entrusted, and I the senior-most--
Edrahil, I'm not blaming any of you. I should have thought through the possibilities before dashing off and foreseen something of the like--
Please -- don't. Don't fight about me.
Are you cold again?
[he smiles a little]
Between you and Huan -- couldn't go anywhere if I wanted to.
[very quietly, as if they were alone, singing:]
--Black is the color
of my true love's hair--
Her face is something
wondrous fair . . .
[as he trails in and out, Luthien joins him on the last lines, her voice almost as unsteady:]
--The purest eyes
and the bravest hands--
I love the ground
whereon he stands--
[muffled, into his hair]
Don't leave -- don't leave me, Beren.
[to the side, the enhancements are about finished.]
How does that look now?
Hmm . . . I think it's too busy.
Instead of having them bobbing about, why don't you anchor them as if they were resting on stands coming just up under the surface. There's already so much motion because of the reflections in the water, having the lights moving as well looks choppy.
[as they tweak it, the five Powers, having given up waiting, appear in front of the group and stand contemplating them with a critical gaze]
No, it doesn't seem like they're planning on coming back. I'm still--
--not sure about the mad prank part.
[throughout the following exchanges he stands with folded arms looking hard at Beren, saying nothing -- Luthien glares tearfully back at him, while the Ten look a bit overwhelmed at being confronted by so many not-terribly happy deities at one go. Finrod just keeps on playing as though he were a bard at a gathering and there were nothing unusual about any of this.]
[the Hound gives him an alert Look but doesn't move]
Huan! Come here.
[sharp distressed bark]
Bad dog! Come!
[repeated sharp barks]
[the racket is what you would expect of a large dog in a large echoing area. Everyone winces, and Orome tries to outshout Huan.]
Tav, please! Not now.
What a heathen and barbaric-looking spectacle.
[one has to admit he has a point -- there's a definite Viking-funeral aspect to the scene, what with the honor-guard, the flames, the horse-sized Hound, the harper and the dead Man's wife all clustered about beside the water]
Vaire: [deceptively mild]
Would anyone like to explain this?
It's my project. --Please don't break anything, milady --
[she rolls her eyes]
--it's purely to help our friend, the Princess's husband.
[Vaire looks back across to the hill and then towards the waterfall again.]
I'm not cleaning all this up. --Can you people manage not to flood the hallways this time?
That was an accident, I assure you, no one realized the conduit was there--
Vaire: [forced patience]
Yes. I know. That's why I'm asking in advance. I don't know what will happen if you get the Loom wet. And I don't want to find out, and if you have any sense whatsoever, child, you don't either.
[to her husband]
I'm going to look for that reference, darling.
[she goes over to the Loom and starts fiddling with it in a very competent and rapid way]
Orome: [low commanding tone]
Huan, come here.
Huan. Tavros. Finrod. --Quiet. [the music and snarling stop, leaving only the sound of the waterfall]
Luthien: [aggressively pleading]
[Namo holds up his hand for silence]
Namo: [to Beren]
Why are you trying to leave?
I'm not exactly trying to leave, Sir.
Please don't do this. I don't have patience for word games. --What is the problem?
Beren: [very simply and quietly]
I found out about something terrible that happened in the past. I felt as if I'd been betrayed. I don't feel as though I belong here any more.
Namo: [ignoring Finrod's flinch at Beren's words and expression of grief]
Then why are you still here?
Because Tinuviel told me to stay.
Is that the only reason?
Do you want to leave?
I don't know.
Namo: [ignoring Luthien's distressed noise]
If you happen to figure it out, let us know, would you? So that we don't have to waste any more time on this discussion.
Honestly. You people.
I've remembered why he seems familiar, darling: you don't need to try to find the piece. Do you recall that fellow who kept shouting at us because he seemed to think it was our fault that he'd believed Morgoth's emissary and not Finarfinion the Elder here?
Oh dear. Yes.
[she stares keenly across at Beren]
You're right. --How long did it take you to convince him that he needed to take his complaints elsewhere since you never had any control over the King's brother, or over his servants, let alone over any mortals, and that it was pointless for him to keep railing at you for not having somehow prevented him from making mistakes?
Way too long. I should have recognized that blockheadedness from the beginning.
[Beren and Finrod exchange a brief troubled look -- Finrod touches his shoulder reassuringly]
Beren, what's he talking about?
One of my relatives. --My way-back uncle Bereg, who took a bunch of the tribe back east again . . . after Sauron-in-disguise convinced him that it was a bad idea to stay and get killed fighting in the Leaguer. . . . Sounds like it didn't work out too well for them.
Sir, this is BerEN, not BerEG. He's a very different person, both in the actuality and in the ideal.
Can you manage for once not to talk down to me, Finrod? --Not that I hold out much hope of it. I know that he's not the same one again. I said he's got the same family stubbornness.
[shaking his head]
At least he isn't blaming any of his troubles on us. So far.
Luthien: [suppressed fury]
And why shouldn't he, when you're tricking me into leaving him so that you can banish him without my knowing?
Why do you think I'm doing it?
Because you want him to go, and you're in charge here.
Finrod: [simultaneous with her words]
You're not? --My Lord.
I don't have jurisdiction over mortals. The only one who seems to have any control over this young Man is you. And to a lesser extent your cousin here. Somehow he's staying here, in defiance of the Laws of the universe, because you told him to. And I would guess that, if it's not outright tearing him apart, that's only because he possesses inordinate obduracy and resilience. --Either that or he's so crazy that there's no way to tell. But the strain on him has got to be tremendous.
Why can't you do something to stop it?
The proper question is "Why
can you do something to stop it?" -- and the answer lies with him.
[the Lord of Dreams moves closer and kneels down on the other side of Beren from where Huan is guarding him -- the Elven-shades react with defensive tension, but the Hound, lacking any such inhibitions, just outright bares his teeth and growls]
Irmo: [calm voice]
I'm not going to hurt him.
Let me see, please.
[he touches his forehead like someone checking a child for fever -- over his shoulder, to his brother:]
--It's as you thought: the binding is mutual; he doesn't truly want to let go.
[to Beren, warningly]
The strain will only get worse, the longer you stay here, you do understand.
Beren: [quick sardonic smile]
I can stand a lot.
I know you . . . somehow.
[he rises and returns to his companions]
The efforts of these equally-focussed souls to entrap him here, and the beneficial impact of such surroundings as they have created, can't be dismissed; but if he were not willing -- or rather, set upon it -- all the therapeutic effects of water, light, music and love would be useless.
As we have learned to our lasting sorrow. --It's the strength of his desire for her, as much as hers for him, that withstands the frailty of his own inherent nature, and the call of his proper Fate. . . . . Rationally one should deplore such a rebellious intransigence -- but one can't help admiring such gallant determination.
So you're saying he's more obsessive than Feanor, Tilion and Eol combined? And this is supposed to be a recommendation?
Vaire: [still messing with the Loom]
I've just noticed something that might be useful. Excuse me--
Namo: [to Luthien]
Does that answer your questions? I have no idea how he's managing to hold on here. However he's doing it, it's his lookout, and his responsibility -- though whether he'll remember that when it gets to the yelling and the recriminations is anyone's guess. I doubt you will either, given your attitude, but we'll see how it goes. Can we finish our discussion now? Without any more abrupt exits?
I'm not going to leave him alone again!
He's hardly alone.
[several of the Ten are doing their best to avoid his Look, particularly the Captain, the Noldor Ranger and the Warrior. Huan makes a preliminary-bark noise, but the Steward shushes him.]
Besides, what's the point? Nobody was saying anything purposeful.
Beren: [hesitantly defensive]
I haven't yelled at anyone, Sir.
--Yet. --Because, Luthien, this is an insupportable situation, for you, for him, and as a result for us.
[without looking around]
And look who's mysteriously appeared -- though that's hardly surprising, given his earlier mysterious disappearance.
[as his sister's student walks in looking preoccupied -- then takes in the crowd and stops short, dismayed]
Where have you been?
I had an errand I was supposed to run for my Lady.
[he looks around guiltily, trying not to make it obvious that he's wondering where Amarie went]
You said you didn't have anything else to do.
I -- I know. I forgot, Sir.
Namo: [intense exasperation]
How could you forget? I asked you directly, you said "No."
I was wrong.
Why didn't you say something? Nobody could find you. You just walked off and left no one else in charge! Do you really think that's the right way to go about things?
I didn't think it would take long enough to make it worth bothering anyone about.
I gather I was wrong about that, too.
What if security had tried to contact me with information about the rogue?
But they didn't.
How do you know?
[The Apprentice takes out what looks like a marble and shows it to him]
I set up a sympathetic link, so that if the stone went off I'd hear it and know.
So it was all right, Sir--
No it wasn't, because first of all it's the principal of the thing, that you don't just walk away from your work and forget to tell someone about it, and secondly we needed you to run an errand and you weren't there. How long is it going to take before you stop and think before haring off on some new project or whim while the other ones are still unfinished?
Erm, is that real, or rhetorical, my Lord? Because I'm afraid nobody knows the answer, not even the King -- that's why he asked my Master to take me on -- but I've made a chart of my progress so far if you want to try to work out a projected date--
Namo: [holding up his hand]
Stop. Just stop.
[looks from Finrod to Nienna's Apprentice]
I don't know which of you two is more annoying.
[the recipients of his disapproval share disgruntled Looks]
Well -- what should I be doing, then, Sir? Do you want me to run the errand now?
No. We gave it to someone more responsible.
Would you just ask my wife and then do what it is she tells you to do? She'll probably just want you to keep any eye on the usual troublemakers and make sure they're not killing each other again.
[he makes no move to go]
Namo: [to Luthien]
Could we be getting back to our discussion now?
No, I want to talk to my husband first.
In private. I'll come along when we're done.
You needn't wait, my Lord.
Namo: [looking around]
You call this private?
I meant without any divine critiquing going on.
Then why didn't you say so?
[to Nienna's Apprentice]
You may not be at the top of my list for long. By the way, what are you still doing here?
You said to keep the usual troublemakers from killing each other. About half of them are here.
And this is far more interesting. And yes, Sir, that was a very free interpretation of what you said. And I think I'll be going to verify that with Lady Vaire first.
[he bows and exits hastily, yet still reluctantly, looking back at the scene of the confrontation]
He really gets on my nerves.
Is there anyone's that he doesn't?
It's the wasted potential that's the worst.
[pointed silence. Finrod sighs and drums his fingers on the harp-frame, looking at the ceiling]
Making snide remarks about my cousin isn't going to speed things along -- or make me feel particularly more well-disposed to you.
We weren't talking about--
No, in fact, that's exactly what we were doing.
Call us when you're ready -- we're waiting for you.
[the Powers vanish. The room is left a bit less empty-seeming this time, due to the presence of a dozen other shades, a small waterfall, torches and one of those ghosts being a giant Hound. Beren sits up the rest of the way, supported on either side by his wife and her cousin.]
Beren -- do you really want to leave?
[he looks at her sadly, but doesn't answer
Don't tell me what you think I -- what I want to hear.
[he still doesn't say anything]
Are -- are you angry -- at me?
[still no reply]
Please answer me -- even if it's yes--
[he puts his arm around her neck and kisses her, patting her head and smoothing her face as they pull away after]
[she gives him a watery smile, and the rest of his friends finally relax]
I'd say that's a "no" on both counts.
[Beren looks at the flames on the reflecting pool]
That -- looks spectacular. Thanks.
Wasn't much, really.
Gave us something to do besides worry.
Have you ever heard of anyone fading out of sheer embarrassment?
Why on earth would you want to do that, love?
Beren: [looking down, shoulders hunched]
All this trouble over nothing -- so many people being dragged into it -- the gods -- because I can't seem to figure out this business of being dead.
Beren, it wasn't nothing. You were in a very bad way, it was real, and what we did was real and necessary, and worked as it would have if we had been alive and you Eldar. You don't need to apologize.
[he tips Beren's chin up as if talking to a child]
Right? --Unless you think you can possibly out-apologize me. Do you want to try?
[groans from the Ten -- Beren gives a small smile and shakes his head]
[Finrod tousles his hair and pulls him closer]
Can you forgive me?
Already did -- cousin.
[he hugs Finrod hard, as the other tries not to come completely undone. While Finrod discreetly wipes his eyes on his sleeve:]
I didn't want to ask -- him -- but . . . who's Eol?
Living -- well, proof, at any rate -- that not all the craziness is on my side of the family.
Is he here?
Finrod: [deep sigh]
Oh yes. App--
--Did he really marry what's-her-name, your uncle's daughter -- Aredhel? That's what Curufin said.
And accidentally murdered her. We have very interesting family reunions around here.
How can you accidentally murder someone?
He was, so the story goes, endeavoring to murder their son, but she intervened. Pursuant to which her brother had him thrown off a precipice. Not before -- or so he brags -- managing to put a curse on their son, however.
Am I not following very well, or was that weird even for Elves?
Yes. --To the second question, not the first. Apparently he turned up here demanding that she be sent back to Middle-earth so that they could start over again together. For any number of reasons that's simply not going to happen, so now they're both here giving the Powers chronic headaches.
[Beren looks serious]
And no, your situation is nothing at all like that, you didn't kill Luthien, and she's the one who came here after you, not vice versa--
So if anyone ought to be compared to those three it should be me.
But -- I -- hadn't even thought that yet.
You were about to. Right?
[Beren looks down]
Youngest Ranger: [stammering worse than Beren]
Y--your Highness . . . it's an honour . . .
[he's too overwhelmed to go on; Luthien is puzzled]
He's one of those who imagined you as "twelve feet tall with a perpetual battle aura."
That's not true!
[in response to the other's Look]
Well, all right, rather--
[Luthien shakes her head]
It wasn't like that -- Huan did most of it, I just played bait until we got the one worth interrogating.
Finrod: [raising his eyebrows]
And who did the interrogating? I'm guessing that it wasn't Huan.
Yes, but Huan had a choke-hold on his jugular, which makes for a great deal of distraction as well as incentive to cooperate.
I've seen your father angry.
I wouldn't place any bets on which one of you was the scariest.
It really, really wasn't that way at all. I was terrified -- I was shaking so hard I could hardly get back up again.
[Beren's jaw clenches]
And you don't think Elu's frightened going into battle?
Of what should follow on his losing, if of nothing else.
[She frowns at this -- an alien concept, Thingol afraid -- and shrugs]
I only did what I had to do, with lots of help.
[she looks around at them all, ending with Beren]
And so far it hasn't been enough.
[Huan gets up and shoves his head into her face and throat, wagging his tail and being a very good dog, until she stops snifflingand shakes her head with a defiant lift of her chin.]
I'm not giving up. --I'm not.
[Huan looks over his shoulder and gives a happy bark, just before the Rangers snap to attention -- Nienna's Apprentice comes into the hall again, very diffident and apologetic in his bearing. He comes up and bows to the group, addressing Luthien:]
Excuse me, but could you please come along now? Or else--
--Or else what?
Ah, he's going to yell at me again.
It's even worse than when you yell at me.
Luthien: [shrewd Look]
You're trying to make me feel sorry for you.
[pause -- the Apprentice nods]
I should warn you that I'm not very cooperative any more when people try to guilt me into doing what they want.
I'm awfully sorry.
Erm . . . you don't happen to know where the Lady Amarie is, do you?
[Finrod shakes his head, his smile looking rather definitely edged]
You're still doing it!
Is it working?
Luthien: [trying not to smile, not entirely successful]
A bit. It's also making me want to throw something at you.
Really? I've had this idea that one could probably pull water up and make it hold together long enough for it to stay airborne, rather like snow, but I've been saving it for some really tedious stint to experiment with it. Would you like to try it out now?
[the Apprentice glares at him, trying to look far too dignified to be a target for a water fight. Luthien raises an eyebrow]
Actually, I was thinking -- more like a chair.
[the Apprentice sighs]
Apprentice: [to the air at large]
Master, I'm afraid this isn't having the result you intended. --At least, I certainly hope this isn't what you intended, my Lady! My temper seems to be getting shorter and shorter, not the other way 'round!
[to Luthien, pleading]
Your Highness, please don't make me go back and fetch the Lord of the Halls. He'll be very put out with all of us. --And he'll treat me like a fool. And you don't really care one way or another about that -- not that I really blame you -- but still I--
[Luthien gives an exaggerated sigh and looks at Beren]
Beren: [low voice]
You should. --At least we can show willing.
But I'm not. Not if it means giving you up.
[pause -- Finrod reaches across Beren and rubs her shoulders]
I'm okay. I'll -- I'll be all right.
[she moves around to kneel in front of him, putting her hands on either side of his face and staring fixedly into his eyes]
Luthien: [adamantine clarity]
Beren. I told you to wait for me. I haven't told you to stop. If you dare fade out of Arda I will find some way to follow you, and let the One help anyone who tries to stop me--!
[she waits until he nods, solemnly, in reply and then kisses him hard before getting up to accompany Nienna's student -- who is preoccupied now with the additions to the fountain.]
How did you make those? I can't see any sort of fuel or wick or anything.
They're illusions. Nothing's really burning.
I mean, really -- what would we burn, after all? Stone?
Stone will burn if you get it hot enough, if it's the right kind.
I know, I know -- but you'd need some fuel to raise it to that temperature, and that brings us right back to where we started from.
Oh, that explains why the reflections are all wrong.
No, they aren't.
Yes, they are, they're too long: your "flames" aren't tall enough to cast so much of a reflection.
It's a work of art. Haven't you ever heard of artistic license?
But it looks wrong that way! They should only be about like so--
[he changes them, so that there is far less reflected light on the water]
But that doesn't look anywhere near as pretty.
Yes, but that's reality--
[Luthien clears her throat: he looks around guilty and sees her standing there tapping her foot.]
First you nag me to come, now you're dawdling. I really don't have any patience for this right now.
Erm . . .
[she gives him a narrow Look]
I damn' well hope so!
[he hastily moves to escort her out -- at the doorway she pauses and turns back to give the company an intense stare]
Beren, remember -- stay.
Beren: [wide-eyed innocence]
[Huan gives him a startled look at his imitation; Luthien's earnest look turns into an embarrassed smile and she goes, on the edge between laughing and crying. As soon as Nienna's Apprentice is gone the Warrior brings back his illusions to the way they were.]
What does he know about it anyway? Has he studied the subject?
[rather stiffly, Beren gets up, leaning on Huan's back and head for leverage, and patting the Hound once he is on his feet -- Huan licks his hand and gives him a sad-eyed look; Beren pats him again and goes over to the quieter shallow end of the pool, moving with bone-deep weariness. He kneels down and splashes water on his face, before settling down to look at the reflections of the lights, trailing his fingers in the basin with a look of bemused wonder. Anxiously Finrod comes over and crouches by him, very definitely hovering. Behind them Huan makes unscrupulous use of doggish charm to ensure that the Ten devote themselves to giving him scratches and nose-rubs.]
Do you want me to tell you all about it?
Not right now. I just -- need time to think. I can't -- it's all been too much. Not just -- all of it.
[Finrod nods sadly]
Can you keep playing?
Finrod: [nodding again and picking up the harp]
Anything in particular?
Beren: [shaking his head]
Just that --
[makes a sort of back-and-forth gesture with his hand]
--like you were doing, to sort of go along with the water. I know that's really a technical description there . . .
[he plays a simple arpeggio, very mellow and slow, not at all "agitare", and Beren nods.]
I'll just keep doing that then, until you tire of it.
Beren: [as if struck by a sudden thought]
Do you want to talk about it?
[Finrod nods in return]
I -- I guess that would be all right then. Can you talk and play at the same time? It -- isn't like singing, I guess.
That isn't the problem. Such simple music is no bar to speech at all. I -- I don't know what to say, exactly, or how.
She was the star that awakened his heart -- she truly was his one true love, the morning arising for him upon the world -- and he Saw the coming of twilight even in the hour of her ascendance, in his fear, and fled to the outer darkness himself, before her Sun could fall to shadow. And she loved him in turn, and--
[he cannot go on]
And you didn't think it was a good idea then, either.
I -- I agreed with him, and with his arguments, and did not force him to go back to her, and the risk of that confrontation, and whatever might have followed on that argument -- whether of wrath -- or of reconciliation. And he has never forgiven me for yielding to him, and giving him his head in this, and very likely he never will. He has sworn himself to eternal celibacy, and eternal mourning, because she was his soulmate, and she has left the Circles of the World, and so he will take no more joy in Arda, because she does not.
You Saw that happening to Luthien, too, didn't you?
Finrod: [shaking his head]
Not in the sense you mean. But I -- I feared it might. But more -- I bethought of your own folk--
[he stops playing without even realizing it]
--of Balan, the first Beor, who followed me so brief a time, until sight and bone and heart failed -- though never spirit! -- of all those who came after, to our halls, to ride and sing and dance among us, and then vanish like breath on a wintery morning -- but first to grow brittle as ice, as fragile as a frozen leaf, and weary as a snow-laden bough under the burden of suffering and shame.
[earnest & pleading]
It was not all selfishness for my own kin.
You don't have to go into all this if you really don't want, Sir.
[the flatness of his words is belied by the accompanying gesture -- he puts his hand over Finrod's on the frame of the harp, looking at him without flinching]
I don't want you hating my brother -- either one of them -- even if they insist on being difficult.
I wouldn't anyway.
I know, because you still can't stop blaming yourself for my death. But that really has no connection with what happened between our kin before you were born. Not logically, at least.
Yeah, but it still feels like it does somehow.
That reminds me: if they come back -- and given the way this place is, there isn't really any doubt about it -- to remonstrate with me, or to reproach you directly or indirectly again, I want you to stay out of it and to let me manage everything. Don't let them entangle you in another exchange of hostilities. Leave the talking to me -- I know how to deal with them.
[Beren just looks at him, with his head a bit to the side]
Would you stop giving me that look, please? This isn't like the last time.
[On the far side of the room Amarie enters, with an air of assumed nonchalance and self-confidence. The Ten notice and look dismayed -- neither of the other two does, however.]
What if it isn't your brothers? What if it's House Feanor again?
[the Steward clears his throat loudly]
Again, I'm far better equipped to deal with any of my relatives than you are -- even if you're no more likely to be afflicted with scruples towards the following of Feanor than I am. Trust me on this, and leave all the unnecessary worries to me.
What if it's one of the gods again? Or all of 'em? It sounds like they're a lot more fed up with you than they are with me. After all, I haven't got centuries of history between us to keep hauling up and slamming around like rocks at each other.
Finrod: [lecturing mode]
Beren, no one here is going to behave like Sauron. Yes, we have our differences, and grievances over the past -- and yes, before you say anything, we have our present differences and grievances as well -- but those are all minor -- or mostly minor -- and the big ones are for the most part resolved. If the Powers that are in charge of this place were going to punish me it would already have happened over the business of the ceilings and the aqueduct. A few more comments, sarcastic or otherwise, isn't going to make a difference one way or the other at this point.
I dunno -- you can be awfully obnoxious when you put your mind to it, Sir.
And you can't? I don't want you drawing negative attention upon yourself from any other persons, divine or not, even if it's in my interest, because you still feel obscurely guilty and don't know how to accept help gracefully--
[the Captain reaches over and taps Beren rather urgently on the shoulder, him being the closer of the two -- Beren looks over, sees, and bites his lip]
What if it's Amarie again?
Wouldn't she fall into the category of "other persons, divine or not"--?
Um, Sir -- that wasn't a rhetorical question.
Finrod: [desperate bravado]
I think the word you want is "hypothetical."
No, I think the word we want is -- help.
[Amarie stands there looking down on the scene, with folded arms and a pleasant fixed smile]
I think we've used up our quota of divine interventions for the day. Besides, given how peevish they're being, I wouldn't want to count on it being particularly helpful.
Amarie: [sinister gentleness -- to the Ten:]
Milords -- what curse or device hath laden withal my steps, that I might not find my way upon a straight path save only to return whence ever I didst go, howsoever I go?
[nervous silence ]
Whichever hast done this -- or whosoever kennest aught -- might answer: I care not which, so that I learn the truth.
Personally, I think that's a completely irrelevant question. I'd ask -- how is it done, and how would you change it? Those seem much more useful questions than worrying about which guilty party deserves punishment. --Particularly since no one did such a thing.
Amarie: [same patient tone]
If yon ringleader of runagates had troubled his insubstantial self to list to the words I did e'en now speak, he might perchance to have noted that such, in most pointed fact, was the selfsame word I asked of ye.
Finrod: [to Beren]
You did hear me say that you can't just walk from point to point here as though it were a field, or even a city, because somehow your will and unconscious intent determines where you end up. --Interesting confirmation that it works that way regardless of corporeal status -- it must be like the Labyrinth. Makes mapmaking no end of a challenge, that's for certain.
Yep. --Only not that extra speculation. But you did warn her.
[Amarie closes her eyes in an exasperated expression]
Hey, does that mean you're saying she keeps coming back here because she really wants to be here?
No, but that is the logical implication of it, one's forced to conclude.
Is there none about of sense or civility to serve as guide, then?
Does anyone wish to explain to the noble lady that the Halls are very understaffed at present and the management has been called away to deal with more pressing matters than her ability to hold a grudge?
One expects naught of present company, saving one's self, but surely there cannot be none of sense remaining in this place. What of the rest, that art held within? Have not many repaired here over the Age, in accordance with the stated Doom? And yet it hath emptier thoroughfares than either Tirion or Alqualonde ere Tilion's embarkation. Nothing of company, saving mine own shadow, and footfalls' echoes, have I met -- though worse companions there may be surely found within.
It's like when there's going to be an earthquake or a hurricane -- everyone and everything with any sense has already gone to ground long since as soon as they sensed the coming of disaster.
Don't -- make things worse.
You're ascribing far too much to my competence.
I have naught else to say to ye miscreants.
Thank you, most kind Nienna!
--Dost ken, then where the Lady shall be?
Captain: [shaking his head regretfully]
Knew it was too good to be true.
Ay, well then, where the shepherd leads, the flock shall follow -- yet might expect to find greater part of wisdom in shepherd than sheep? But howso, indeed, if the leader doth follow his foolish charges, nor stay them from their folly, nor cease when they will to run past cliff's edge unto the Sea? For mad lieges, how else but a maddest of lords to be fitting?
Youngest Ranger: [bewildered, trying to whisper, but not being nearly quiet enough, to the Warrior]
I thought the Vanyar were supposed to be holy . . . ?
[Amarie shoots him a fire-arrow Look and he quails]
And what kennest thou of holiness, that never didst behold the Light?
Youngest Ranger: [abashed]
Shall a Turned One chide me, that was bred and born in Valmar, of the depths of his benighted ignorance? No more unfitting, I guess, than mortal shall the same!
[Huan makes a grumbling unhappy noise, looking up from under his eyebrows at them in turn]
My lady, restrain thy hostility towards those that in some wise merit it, nor set it against those who have shown far more of virtue than you yourself in steadfastness of affection.
[they match stares in a fierce contest]
Youngest Ranger: [dismayed aside]
How can she tell?
Beren: [scooting over to him]
Probably the way we could when we met the King. Couldn't your people tell when they first came back that they weren't the same as you either? And it's even more obvious -- the way we are now. --Don't ask me how.
[he puts an arm around the other's shoulders]
Does it matter? That you're not Noldor? So you guys' ancestors didn't make it all the way on time. You're still fighting the fight, hm?
[the Youngest Ranger gives him an uncertain look]
Me, I'd rather hear "Sindar" or even "Nandor" any day of the week than "Kinslayer" -- being "Light-Elven" didn't help Curufin much, did it? --Or "mortal."
If you don't look down on me, how come you think it's okay to look down on you? [the Sindarin Ranger smiles a little at this. The staring contest between Amarie and the Steward breaks off: he does not give way, and she tosses her head in dismissal]
If thou hast not lost all semblance of civility in yon rustic wilderness, Your Majesty, perhaps thou'lt deign to rise and greet me nor affect this foolish feignéd deafness--
[raising her voice abruptly]
--Put aside that gaming music and stand and brave me, villain, or I swear that all the Ages of the world will pass ere thou'lt darken door of mine! Art too grand now, is't, to speak with such a lowly Elf as she who waits upon thy notice, being no Queen nor Princess of the Eldar? Fie!
[with an indulgent sigh Finrod puts down the harp once again and rises, making an extravagant and far-too-ornate bow; the Ten, and Beren, get up awkwardly, while Huan only sits up and pays attention with cocked ears and quizzical look. The ex-couple are far too preoccupied to notice the distress of their audience, or to care if they did.]
Now that you've commanded my attention -- did you actually have anything you wanted to say?
Amarie: [earnestly, shaking her head]
--Why dost thou stay here, in this abysmal place, this mean estate, and tatterdemalion attendance, when thou shouldst walk free and fare abroad, held by naught, save by thine own choosing? All Aman doth hold thee mad for it -- none that has thine acquaintance, still more thy former fellowship in bygone Day, doth comprehend it, and all alike do judge thy loss hath reft thy mind withal.
I don't know why. It's very peaceful here -- most of the time, at least. I'd rather spend the next hundred-odd years of existence here, than being given reproachful looks and edged remarks and forbidden to answer them under the Sun.
[Amarie spins around and begins walking quickly towards the door while Finrod stands with folded arms, looking after her and smiling sarcastically]
Here we go again. --I wonder how many times we're going to repeat this little charade before the jester who started it comes and rescues us. I greatly doubt that there's any limit to her ability to walk off and leave me in shambles, all the while maintaining a perfect and impenetrable shield of pride, trailing my heart's blood through the wreckage from her dripping sword of hate!
[the Ten -- and Beren -- wince in excruciation at having to witness this -- Huan gives a particularly ear-piercing keen and a reproachful look at Finrod. Amarie stops short in the archway as though an invisible door had been slammed in her face and stands perfectly still for a second -- then turns around and strides back, fast and furious, her draperies billowing behind her like sails of a galleon]
Amarie: [as she is bearing down upon them, not stopping or slowing in speed or speech]
Thou insolent, arrogant, amiable, thankless, flightsome, winsome, devious, treacherous, smiling fiend!!! How canst thou stand and say to me, withouten shred of compuntiliousness, that -- that -- any such of thing?!?
[she is literally glowing with rage, though the soft ambient light somewhat dulls her aura]
Thou -- thou -- thou Spider's get! --I made mock of thee? I left thee in tears and tatters? I ask ye -- all of ye, that stand unfriends to me--
[she pauses to whirl and look at all the Ten in quick turn]
--all ye many that did stand upon that day, and sit to table at the Opening Hour, and sing our names and drink our joys, and eat the gift-bread that my hands did make -- which of us twain it was did go, and which it was, left standing lonely at the broken Feast, to follow like to a shadow 'midst shadows unto the sorrowing streets?
[they are silent -- she gestures dramatically with her hand, waving them aside]
Stay me not -- hinder me nor seek to, that did not hinder him, but led him to his fate and folly, that would not lose ye to the Dark, but had liefer lose me without backward look--
[she can't keep going for the moment]
Finrod: [very softly]
Oh, I did look back--
--and let him face me and flout me unto my very face, if he will call me foe, this mad japester --
[she starts towards him again, the Ten moving aside helplessly before her indignation]
--that didst leave me half-bound, half-bride, to lie at thy feet as a forgotten bauble cast aside by careless child -- I that had gone counter to my kindred's hopes and deep desirings, and set aside their wish and every will, to be his lady and his love, and all for naught, that he should go from me and me a-weeping in my festal raiment 'neath our wedding garlands in the mournful hall!
[by this point she is crying as she speaks without it interfering with her words or her anger -- tears run down her cheeks as she stares furiously at him -- they look like a pair of duellists, despite lack of weapons]
Finrod: [patiently (far too patiently, in fact)]
Obviously no one in his right mind would keep on celebrating -- Acclamation or not -- when the Trees had just gone out. You're being utterly irrational -- again. Should I have said, "Keep playing, keep singing, keep feasting, I'm sure it's nothing much?" No. Everyone in Tirion went to see what the matter was. Quite sensibly. --Even you, as you've just said.
[Amarie just stands there, totally speechless, listening to him in amazement]
Why do you insist on bringing your family's long-standing disapproval of me into it, as if that had anything to do with the slaughter of the Trees, or any relevance to the events of that Night? You keep trying to fit it all together backwards, somehow. And I was perfectly willing to change the date -- you were the one who made your parents choose between attending our Acclamation and participating in the concert -- after we found out about the scheduling conflict. And afterwards when I came back -- as I'd promised -- to conclude the ceremony -- you hit me.
Aye, and I'll so again, and gladly, till thou dost weep e'en as I -- if thou'lt not for very shame at putting me to shame.
I've given up expecting rational behaviour from someone whose response to getting what she asked for is violent rejection. --You keep changing modes and pronouns in your address, too.
[she moves for him as he is speaking]
Beren: [in the process of stepping between them, gives Finrod a shocked look]
--You did what?!?
[they both freeze, staring at him, as he stands half-turned from Amarie to Finrod]
I didn't really hear you say that, did I? You really walked out on her halfway through the wedding and expected she'd welcome you back after with open arms?
[Finrod is speechless]
Don't tell me you did that
and then said, "Okay, honey, let's go to bed and in the morning we'll become fugitives"--!
Finrod: [reflexive defensiveness]
There wasn't going to be a morning at that point.
Beren: [shaking his head in astonishment]
No wonder she punched you halfway across the dinner table!
Beren, not you too!
Beren: [grabbing his shoulder]
But you can't do that to someone! Don't you understand? We had wars over people doing that. You never said you jilted her!
Six or seven people got killed and five barns were burnt and a fishing weir pulled down and the cattle raids didn't stop until your brothers showed up and four generations later there were still families not speaking to each other--
--and I guess that's really pretty lame of a war -- but still.
Finrod: [still skeptical]
I never heard about that.
You think anyone was going to want to explain it?
Finrod: [to the Captain]
Did you know about this?
I do recall thinking that the stories about the Summer with Five Direct Lightning Strikes and a Flash Flood seemed a bit implausible and that your brothers seemed rather blasé about so many unlucky coincidences, which would seem to indicate stepped-up Enemy activity -- but everything seemed under control and everyone very anxious not to get into it, and since you hadn't given us orders to investigate it, we presumed it was something better left unsaid, given their usual level of caution and alertness regarding the War.
Finrod: [switching from disbelief to indignation]
Why didn't they tell me?
Captain: [utterly bland]
I would have to ask them to find out, Sire.
--However, at a reasonable guess, they might well have felt awkward in mentioning such a -- sensitive topic, quite apart from the embarrassment of having lost order and control in territories still technically under their authority, though no longer under the Princes' direct control.
[Finrod bites his lip, looking away]
See, there was this one time when there was supposed to be a wedding, and everyone was there, and she never showed up, and people got worried because there was a lot of snow that winter--
Finrod: [interrupting, peevish]
--You never celebrated Acclamations in winter--
No, this was spring, but there was a lot of runoff because of the snow that winter. And because the bride's party never showed up, they thought maybe there was a landslide or a flash flood or something, or maybe a bridge was down and they couldn't make it, or maybe even an Enemy raid had slipped through the eastern pass again, and there were search parties getting ready, and then someone brought the word that she'd gone off with someone else and married him instead, and since there was already everybody armed up and ready to go, it just -- went on from there. And my great-great-grandfather had to try to break it up, and he did, and we even contributed to the damages fund so that there wouldn't be any excuse for fighting over bride-price and dowry, but it kept breaking out again because everyone was so insulted.
[to Amarie, who is listening with fascinated horror]
--When I say "we" I mean my family, because I wasn't born yet then. I remember Ma saying that it was really stupid that she let it get that far, because obviously it wasn't going to work and they should have known that before the bridal ale was laid down, because you don't go and marry someone else at the last minute who's a random stranger -- she shouldn't ever have said yes if she really didn't want to go through with it, let alone if there was anybody else who was in the running -- but the humiliation factor of leaving your intended standing at the hall-door couldn't be an accident. That's why it went to a war. That, and the fact that her whole family's cooperation was involved, obviously.
Must e'en thou deride me, mortal killer?!
Ah, no -- that's just the way it happened.
. . .
Milady, if the Lord of Dorthonion were mocking you -- there would be no mistaking it for anything else.
Amarie: [through her teeth]
I will not be made sport of by houseless rebels!
[she starts to stride towards the archway again]
Finrod: [calling after her in a reasonable tone]
I'm sure that if you chose to consider it null and marry someone else, no one could possibly criticize you, seeing that--
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.