45. Scene IV.xxi - part I
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
BELOVED FOOL: BEYOND THE WESTERN SEA
[now Finrod and his following (which now includes not only Beren & Huan but also his mother's former assistant) are confronting the law-abiding contingent, who look extremely worried, (as do some of the Ten, admittedly) and expressive of definite concerns as to the level of sanity at present]
Strictly speaking, I'm not meddling with it in the sense of trying to change it. None of us are.
--Pray tell, of what others thou dost speak, that are set upon this . . . venture, with thee?
[she gives the Ten a cold, suspicious look]
Well, everyone. Obviously. Only some of us are aware of it, and others aren't.
I confess I take not this declaration by thine ungarnish't word, all unavailéd of proof, child.
It's quite simple, really. You just do whatever it is you do, and it makes a difference -- subtle, usually -- in the way the Song plays out.
That is not by any chance possible, forasmuch as that which is done, shall be done only so that it is Sung, and must be so.
So are you saying that choice is an illusion, then? That Feanor only did as he did because he had to, because it was Sung, and had no other recourse than to deny the Earthqueen, defy the Powers, and summon all of us to join in his rejection? What does that make the gods to be, then, but hypocrites, or mad?
[looking at the Ambassador]
Or that my royal and holy aunt had no will nor options of her own, neither to betray my cousin's secret counsels nor to abet her in her escape, and that choosing the easiest road of unresisting silence was all that she might do -- rather than that the Lady Melian was as torn as any Elf or mortal might be in similar circumstance, caught between conscience and desire?
[the Ambassador bows his head, as Finrod goes on:]
--Do we say, then, that the Powers too are helpless in the torrent of the Song they helped to make, like chips of wood in a river -- all of them, that is, except for Morgoth? That's a lot worse than anything I'm saying, it would seem.
Yet thou sayest not what, most plain and simple-spoken, 'tis indeed thou dost, or wouldst--?
Finrod: [very much the teacher]
The way I've come to see it, there is the Song, and the Song is full of discords, which weren't supposed to be there. Everyone knows this, it's what we're taught as children, is that not so? But then what? How do we respond? Do we simply ignore them, and focus on the harmonious bits? Or do we join the discordant elements, which spread all too easily, and drown out the rest -- back the winning side, so to speak?
[Amarie tosses her head in open scorn]
Amarie: [very haughty]
Indeed, but one rightful choice betwixt yon twain, nor might any not Turned from truth countenance other choosing to be made!
But who says those are the only options?
Why not increase the harmony? Wouldn't it be best of all to try to reclaim some of the ruined parts and rebuild them, so to speak?
Thou -- deemst self able to unwork the makings of the greatest of all the Powers, after Lord Manwe even, even to restore the Great Pattern as 'twere unbroken and ne'er was, ere the Marring?
Finrod: [shaking his head]
Oh, no. I'm no match for a god -- nor even a demi-god, and who knows it better than I? But isn't that what was done in the first place, to stop the whole of Ea from being made a wreck like Utumno, like Angband? So, then, is it not a worthy goal -- even knowing it Doomed to failure -- to try to repair what one can, restore harmony even for a few notes out of the Age, to the best of one's ability?
Finarfin: [mildly, shaking his head with a look of bemusement]
--And thou deemst thyself no wise ambitious?
Nay, this is true madness -- else worse, that thou dost set upon such path as the Marrer's self did make, striving in truth to set all to thine own will, else other there be none, to overstrike the fashioning the Powers -- nay, indeed, the One! -- did adjudge at end to best resolve the Dark One's changes--
Finrod: [interrupting her]
--No, you see, that's the difference, what we do, knowingly or unknowingly, to restore harmony doesn't replace what's been changed -- that's not even possible, without worrying about the right or wrong of it -- it's just adding to it, the way you resolve a chord, turn a harsh note to poignancy, or a weak note glorious, by giving more sounds -- and the addition changes it, completely. Or like the story we all know about ice -- cold being tried as a way of stopping everything, but instead, through constructive application of new notes, resulting in snow crystals and frozen waterfalls and icebergs and all sorts of beautiful things that have their own fitting places in the world. There might be in principle a better way to have composed it, but working with what we're given, it's an improvement.
Maybe it's kind of like when part of the hall's been wrecked by a storm or a fire or just the posts getting rotted out, and you don't tear it all down, you just fix up what's there, maybe not the same way, but you still gotta live there while you're working on it, and maybe the new way works better for something else?
That too. And sometimes
it means going against advice, and even common sense, and even yes, breaking rules and disobeying orders.
[he stares defiantly at Amarie, who gives it right back to him, while Nerdanel looks thoughtful and Beren asks the Guard next to him:]
Is he talking about the Return?
[the Elven shade nods]
And paying the price for it, of course. Always.
Finarfin: [looking thoughtfully at the Ten]
And hold all thy folk with these thy curious tenets, else theorems, whichever they be, or art the only proponent of such . . . strangeness?
Not the only, certainly, but certainly not all. Some find it far too complicated or too troubling--
[the Warrior looks abashed, but Finrod gives him a sympathetic grin and goes on]
--and I grant it's much easier to look at it as just a matter of doing wrong and receiving the just penalty for it. Or not breaking rules, and not doing wrong. Others find it far too optimistic -- and I can't deny that, either.
[he and the Steward share a meaningful Look]
Nay, I confess it seemeth little of cheer, to hold that one needs must do that which is forbid, and that avisedly-so, and suffer after for the doing, and all for chance that good may come to pass of it, but little like, and how then may one know of surety which is good or which is ill, when all law be set aside as subject to disdain?
Amarie: [sharply to the Ambassador]
Hast thou heard such heretical utterances, my lord, of him in thy lands -- or did he perchance learn such justifying words of thy shadowed folk?
Many such deep matters are often spoken of, when my Lady Melian is present, and many thoughts put forward, and questions asked, to which not one, but many answers may be offered, and each but bear another riddle to the questioner.
Finrod: [disregarding Amarie for the moment]
No, Aunt 'Danel, it isn't like that, of course you can't ignore everything and of course you can't do anything. But I did say it was too complex for many people.
[she looks rather miffed, as he continues:]
As far as being too cheerful, that isn't what Edrahil's objecting to -- but there's more to it. You see--
[he is interrupted as a pair of Elvish shades enter (or as it proves re-enter) the Hall: the Youngest Ranger who is still rather twitchy and hypervigilant, quickly draws another arrow and sets it to the bow he has not reslung since the last conflict, but only keeps it trained on the latest arrivals -- even when it become clear that they are the King's brothers.]
Oh, good grief! --Put that away!
[he ignores the fact that the Teler warrior doesn't, and with Angrod strides up to the ongoing family reunion.]
Fourth Guard: [aside]
--Who's using mortal slang now?
Aegnor: [with a bright, fixed, savagely pleasant smile]
Quite the Gathering you've got going on here, Finrod. Taking over hospitality functions along with counseling and building maintenance, hm?
Hullo, dear sister -- you've met our newest cousin, I believe?
[he nods towards Beren, and she frowns, first curiously, then in sudden thought, but he goes on before she can say anything:]
You were right when you said we'd all come to a bad end, you know -- but I never expected to see you here as well--
Why are you here?
Angrod: [trying to calm things down]
We could tell you were in trouble so we came to help.
Well, it wasn't needful -- I could have managed it on my own, there weren't enough of you to make a difference if I hadn't, and you're too late anyway. But -- I thank you for the intention.
Better late than later, what?
[the two siblings do not appreciate this at all; he gestures to his subordinate to stop covering them, and the Sindarin Ranger denocks the arrow, but doesn't put his weapons away.]
If you hadn't been dithering about what you were going to say to Father et al, you might have got here in time to provide moral support. As it is you managed to get the worst of both outcomes.
[Aegnor is resolutely avoiding looking at Finarfin, who is in turn looking very sadly at his children. Nerdanel draws near and pats his arm consolingly. Amarie does not seem to have been successfully deflected by Aegnor's attempt to direct her attention to Beren. The Ambassador from Doriath is looking at his King's grand-nephews and shaking his head.]
Please don't be difficult. --We're trying not to.
[he turns back to the conversation as if there hadn't been any interruption]
Anyway, Father, what I was saying was, it isn't an attempt to change the Song from what it was intended to be originally, or to make it back into what it was intended to be, either.
Thou has returnéd upon thine own words most uncommon paradoxical.
No, it isn't really that complicated, listen--
[Aegnor addresses Beren quietly, in a tone gruff, but surprisingly polite, considering]
Has he said the word "destiny," yet, Beor?
Uh -- not recently. I -- don't think.
Not in this conversation?
[Beren shakes his head, Aegnor elbows his other sibling and shakes his head.]
Angrod: [a bit guiltily]
[Beren gives them an uneasy look, and then glances at the Ten, who are either ignoring them or ignoring them obviously]
--because it can't be put right without undoing the World, but it can be mended. The gods can't do everything -- we just help them out a little. If we do good, that is, and not ill.
[Amarie closes her eyes, shaking her head in exasperation]
Nay, thy pride surpasseth all no measure, for 'tis deeper than Osse's crests, wider than Uinen's tresses, and ceaseless as the restive Sea! Hast thou not shame, to so set limits to the very Powers?
But surely you don't think they're all-powerful, all-knowing? That's what I said before -- that if you think that, then you have to either accept that they're completely deranged, -- or just plain evil.
Why "plain" evil, indeed and how differeth such from evil of other kind?
Finrod: [rolling his eyes]
It's an emphatic. It means evil, and nothing more, no justification. --The Song is too big -- there's too much of it for any one soul to understand, god or not.
Yeah, like the myth about the Earth-queen forgetting how she'd already made herself Children, too, until King Manwe reminded her.
Thou didst speak of that to all-and-sundry? 'Tis not enough hast gossiped of me, of us! but must e'en bruit about the private quarrels of the Holy Ones as well?
You mean he shouldn't have taught us the true stories, when we only had the foggiest ideas about Valinor? We thought it was in Beleriand, even. And we--
Finrod: [a little too quickly]
And because of that, even if things are Sung, it doesn't mean that freedom's but an illusion, because there's all the difference in the world between a piece composed and the actual performance, which is what we are, this world, only we're also the performers, don't you see? and moreover there are so many competing and conflicting and just plain different things going on, that the results when they collide or overlap or run together are something no one, not even the Singers, could have predicted.
[gesturing animatedly with increasing enthusiasm]
--Or like waves, out against the coast, they don't come neatly up to the headlands in even rows, though logically they ought to always, and keep on so -- but they cross, and divert, and set up overtones, and then there's the Moon, and that rearranged everything! Because there are the completely mysterious parts, that the Powers themselves didn't put in, and no one knows what they'll do, or how they will affect the Song -- and us, that are of it -- and all we know for certain is the destiny of Arda will be changed out of all expectation.
[Angrod takes off the ornate torc around his neck and gives it to his sibling. Finrod sighs, tolerant but a little disappointed-seeming.]
What are you two betting on?
[now that everyone is looking at them, the Princes are unsuccessfully trying to hide embarrassment with nonchalance]
Erm -- the question of how long -- or little -- time, how many exchanges, it would be before--
[he can't meet Finrod's gaze, and breaks off]
--Before he started talking about his visions and this cracked idea he has about how the world will be after the end of the world.
Not visions. There's just the one. And I'm not mad.
[Beren glances around with a wary expression]
Um. I feel really stupid asking this, and maybe it's obvious to everybody here who isn't human, but -- isn't "the world after the end of the world" a something-or-other, whatsit, uh, you know, a--
Steward: [quick and unobtrusive]
--Contradiction in terms.
[before Finrod can begin to explain, his brother cuts in:]
Hasn't he told you? You're supposed to save the universe or something.
Well, obviously, since you've managed to pull off marrying one of the Firstborn. Luthien too, since she's managed the corollary. It's got to be the case that you're the ones to bring about this great destiny, to carry out this vision of his, because otherwise you wouldn't have been any -- luckier -- than your aunt and myself. You're just pawns of Fate, you see.
[he looks around at them all, baffled and not a little disturbed; the Captain covers his face with his hands]
Dear Lady, here we go again -- please no!
[Finrod glares at his brothers with smouldering anger, well under control, but appearing for the first time]
I thought you were not here to cause me difficulty, nor to harrass him, but to help.
[to Beren, rather helplessly]
There is a -- a prophecy, so to speak. But it's only mine. Not the gods'. And it -- it isn't a definite one. Not like the one for my death. And you remember how -- uncertain, that one was, how I told you it seemed as though it were about to be fulfilled at the Bragollach -- and would have been, were it not for your kindred. I didn't only help you to somehow further my own convictions, as if -- as if you two were some sort of experiment.
Beren: [shaking his head]
Have I ever doubted you, Sir? I understood why you thought we were a bad idea when you talked about it with me in the City. Even before I knew about the problems in your -- our -- family.
[at this last, Finarfin looks from them across to his other two sons, who hastily look away from his gaze]
I wouldn't have thought you protected me just to obey a prophecy or some ulterior motive. But if you thought that some great destiny had to be involved for us to get together in the first place, then it makes sense that you'd go along with it in spite of your doubts, and maybe for that reason let your judgement get overrode by enthusiasm. And I don't think it makes any difference one way or other for you helping me, any more than your being dead or your debt to Da.
[nodding towards Aegnor and Angrod]
--I don't listen to these guys, anyway. It's not like I know them or anything, not like you.
[the Princes look severely disgruntled, the Ten wickedly pleased]
Go on -- I'm not gonna get upset.
All -- all right.
The very Powers daunt him not a whit, yet this Follower child confoundeth him that ne'er did I see uncertain . . . !
Finrod: [a little weary and flat, now]
It seems to me that all
of us are Called to something, whether we know it or not, and perhaps we -- the Firstborn -- are helpless to work against the Song, the parts of it that are Marred or otherwise, with any real effect, because we are too closely bound to it to change it, too close to see it properly, the way one must step back from any Work to judge it in its setting and overall. But the Secondborn are not, and what we Elves have thought of as weaknesses, to be pitied and feared, might be instead strengths, to be used for good or ill to reshape the world. --For good, of course, is my hope.
You mean that we -- mortals, us -- might have been put here to help undo the Marring?
[he looks around to see if the Eldar around him think this is a joke, but not even the Princes are smiling in derision]
And that my finding Tinuviel was supposed to be part of that?
[quiet keening, not quite loud enough to be obnoxious]
[pause -- Finrod looks at him anxiously, but when
he continues it is a bit sadly, but not anguished:]
I think -- probably we already did it, only -- I botched it all up. --The Silmarils.
Finrod: [shaking his head, earnest]
You're still here. The story isn't over yet. You don't know that that was the reason for your existence, the Great Work you were meant to do. It might not even be anything, not a thing like the Trees or the Silmarils, or a Deed like finding the Children and leading them West. I thought mine was Nargothrond, and then I realized that it wasn't, and that was a terrible shock -- but I had to keep doing it, I couldn't just stop and do something else.
And what, child, dost thou hold this Great Work of thine to be, that thou dost strive for but makest not, if not indeed the mending of all that's Marred?
Finrod: [faint smile]
I don't know, yet. If Itell you my suspicions, you'll have no doubts as to my sanity at all.
Nay, but doubt after which fashion, absent or present?
[Finrod starts to share a grin with his father, and then checks himself; the living King sighs and looks away]
Hast not fear to offend the Valar further, that hast been so gently pardoned and thy transgression set aside?
No. I . . . am already dead, I have no job nor place left to go back to in the world Without, and my lady doesn't want anything to do with me.
[Amarie spins half away, her arms folded tensely; he does not notice]
What else could they do to me, assuming they were so inclined? But arguing the ins and outs of the universe with Lord Namo and his family isn't particularly stressful, in any case -- his Lordship gets impatient sometimes, but not offended. A little brusque, but that's just his manner.
No, Aunt 'Danel, he's just crazy, that's all.
Hey, you shouldn't call Lord Mandos crazy--
No, I think the Doomsman's quite sane--
[Aegnor snorts in disgust, while other family members look on in disbelief or resignation]
Angrod: [aside to Aegnor]
You certainly set yourself up for that one.
Thou speakest, son, with such little deference as the Powers were thy very kin!
Well -- they are.
Yours too. All of you.
[the silence continues, though most of the Ten are finding it hard to keep from breaking it]
I'm not crazy -- am I?
[this to the Doriathrin lord]
Our Lady is most certainly of the Powers.
[with an apologetic glance towards Finarfin and Nerdanel]
--And as certainly kin to your children, so I am forced to conclude that the same holds true for you.
[before any of them can comment on this]
And it's been true all along, only we didn't know it, because we didn't know what happened to Mother's uncle. And now it's true three different ways -- by marriage, by blood, and by marriage again.
[the Ambassador winces; so do Finrod's brothers, but his father and aunt only look puzzled]
--Marriage, to Elu; blood, through their daughter our cousin, Luthien; marriage, by Luthien too.
[this does not dispel their confusion, but rather increases it all around]
No. That doesn't work. You can't count Luthien twice, Finrod.
I fear he is correct, my lord -- through Lady Luthien you may now claim kinship with Beren, for that prior bond of blood that unites your and her common ancestors; but that does not permit you to reckon the Princess as kindred anew, through that marital bond in reverse, as though she were now her own sister-in-law.
Are you sure?
[his counselor nods, his expression quite sober -- but there is a faint twinkle of amusement to match Finrod's own]
Teler Maid: [loudly]
Oh, he is being most silly, and all for to madden you, can you not see it?
[everyone stares at her]
Do not all look at me, or -- or I will vanish, I promise!
[she ducks back behind the Ten in an attack of shyness]
Finarfin: [to the ceiling]
I do believe that here is one Maiwe, whose songs my hall long hath missed, and my lady as long withal and more of grief than merest echoes' lamentation. Oft hath Earwen asked of me, whether of deed, or of undoing, what wrong we did thee that thou shouldst rather gray death prefer, thereunto our House?
Teler Maid: [calling from the background]
No! I mean, it was never your fault, good my lord. --Or my lady's. Please do you tell her I am sorry from me.
I think she's only accepting family apologies in person, Maiwe -- though she might make an exception, you only being a cousin six or eight times removed, wasn't it?
[Finarfin sighs, looking as though disappearing sounds like a very good option]
Nerdanel: [to the Steward]
Indeed, it did clean fly from my mind, that I had meant to ask of thee: is this the same young Teler whose name was so frequent coupled with thine own, by many tongues, saving ne'er thine own? Is she thy true-love, in truth, Enedrion?
For my part, the answer should be yes.
What web of words dost thou make e'en now?
None -- presently. Your question is nigh unanswerable, my lord: do I say no, as it seems the present truth now rests, I shall most infallibly make it thus; but if on the contrary I declare it so, then such presumption should, I deem, have but the same result in the end.
[while his hearers are trying to decipher this, the subject of their discussion emerges from cover again, her arms folded and a very impatient expression on her face]
He would say that I will be angry with him no matter what he says, and then I shall not be, but he wishes that I were.
[she looks at him in amazement]
You have confessed your love for me, and before your own great House, and strangers--! Nor act you as if ashamed of that no more than of me for all my folly . . . and so did I ever hope for, and now you do thus, -- and I am afeared of you for your readiness to strike, and more so for your cleverness, that even here you might twist words to deceive and confuse, and belike you do so even now to win me subject to you once again, and how shall I ever know you are true then?
[her voice is almost a wail at the end, and she wrings the ends of her braids distractedly while he only looks at her seriously, saying nothing]
Alas, poor child!
Teler Maid: [drawing herself together in sudden temper]
I am not a poor child!
Well . . . perchance. --Stop talking over me! You are here to harry Lord Ingold, are you not?
[Finrod's relatives look at each other askance, while the Ambassador shakes his head wryly]
Just my lady, as it happens, Sea-Mew. The rest of them are actually here to harry Beren's. It's merely happened to work out that way. But that's all right.
[to his family]
Of course she's correct, I was jesting -- except not to annoy so much as to anneal the conversation with humour before it fractured from the stress. You're all worried about the wrong things.
It gets better, you see.
[his eldest brother gives him a warning Look]
Indeed, and some such form of it hath reached unto the multitude, else some such semblance of these discourses. --But I had for my part rather hear it out most plain and free of mitigations.
Don't worry -- I'll gladly incriminate myself further. The substance of it is this: the world is broken, the Song distorted past all hope of restoration -- even if it were somehow possible to overcome the Enemy and repair the effects of his destructive acts all in a moment, that wouldn't make it whole, wouldn't undo what was done, nor make it other than a botched mess suffering from the lack of all those that were lost as a result. So. We either have to say the whole project was ultimately a failure -- which certainly could be the case -- or that we're missing part of the pattern, and that's what I've Seen. This isn't the whole of it at all. Unless you're willing to admit that the One is a worse loser than I am, the hypothesis that there will be another Song that will make the world anew is the only one that makes any sense.
[this has a predictable effect on his Vanyar bride, and not much less on his other hearers, rebel or not -- even repeated exposure to such heresies has not entirely dulled the impact. His father, not seeming as troubled by all this radical speculation as his companions, glances at Beren before looking at his eldest once more.]
Whence cometh thy certainty the Secondborn shall have part in this -- new Music, even as the Ainur, and greater verily than we?
Well, they've got to be doing something after the world ends, right? You don't think the Timeless Halls are just going to be filled with bored spirits playing pointless games like us here, surely?
[someone behind him snickers nervously -- Beren and his father however only look at him with sincere questioning, and he sighs, going on in earnest]
Because they are part of the correction, and so -- assuming of course the One is at least a little better organized than we are -- the ideal world is not as some of our family have argued one in which there are no other Children than ourselves, but one in which their music is not drowned out nor co-opted by either ours nor the Enemy's: they were made to answer the first Discords, so the only question is what shape does that purpose take.
Yet even so are we, and to us hath been given understanding of the cosmos, that by virtue of our nature alike as our ceaseless days doth possess a greater breadth and potentiality than might any brief transient soul.
[he nods seriously]
And that is all we know. We don't know how to give it up -- how to look at it as the Powers must, as something apart from them yet dear to them, that they must outlast with sorrow as a parent who outlives children, and which cannot be grasped at nor held from death forever -- because we can't. In that way we're closer to Morgoth than we might think--
Amarie: [cutting him off]
Out on thee--!
Ambassador: [frowning, very perturbed]
Why do you say th--
[Aegnor has been endeavoring to contain himself, but the endeavor fails:]
Aegnor: [talking over them both]
So none of it matters, not Miriel, not the Kinslaying, not the killing of the Trees, not the torture and slavery of the ones left behind or the poisoning of the lands, because it's all going to be done over properly, you see -- this is all no more than erasing out bits on a rough sketch--
[as his brother and several of his Following start to answer at once, and chaos is about to take over, Nerdanel interjects, raising her hand:]
Be ye still, my kinsmen.
[to Finrod, her tone dryly meaningful]
Though the impulsive force of mine own speech be haply less by some degree than thy brother's, as hath been given to me to understand these several years -- still it doth much incline upon the same direction as mine own, forasmuch as such a . . . recasting should most greatly disdain all that hath preceded it, and make no reckoning of the griefs eke the glories of the former Day.
So all the many years of struggle and pain to perfect an art are worthless? The burns, the cuts -- the half-finished works that aren't quite right, but still have beauty in themselves, worthless? The efforts -- repeated -- to learn to play or sing in proper balance, weighing and subordinating individual perfection and sublimity to the whole and with regard to every performer's own abilities, meaningless because directed to a greater purpose, mastering of beauty that encompasses all prior work? You wouldn't say that about anything made within Arda -- so why say that of the world itself?
From both your words and the unspoken implication of them, I must guess, Sire, that you hold your vision to have come from a source other than either of the usual channels -- that is to say, neither Beyond the -- this continent, as rarely if ever has been possible since the Dark One's Return, nor from the currents and tides of Ea itself, bearing message and meaning either as cargo or riddle, freight to be unpacked or deciphered or set into the mosaic of days, as the early flight of birds in autumn. Do I take your meaning aright?
[clearly this means something significant to the gathered Elves, from their expressions, as Beren looks at them, trying to piece out the overtones and undertones of the conversation; the center of the intellectual storm is undisturbed by this challenge:]
Yes, that is rather the obvious conclusion, since working within a closed system doesn't usually give rise to variables and outcomes hinging on factors not part of that system. But surely you don't want to assert that such isn't possible--?
Aye, and for what shall it be given unto thee?
I don't know. I've no idea why a god spoke to me out of the night and told me to build a City either -- why me, that is. The benefits of a hidden stronghold being obvious to even pacifists, I should hope.
You don't know that he didn't Call anyone besides you and your cousin, as it's proven from the White Lady's words. It could be, Sire, that the rest of us were simply deaf to it.
Ar-Feiniel is slain as well?
Ranger: [aside, shaking his head]
We should just make a list and hand it round.
Out of what? Stone?
And think how long it would have to be.
Aegnor: [brightly, not looking at Beren at all]
Yes, she married some local fellow there under questionable circumstances -- and he killed her.
[predictably, they all look at Beren, who looks miserable]
[sharp growling bark]
Finrod: [pleasantly, to his lawful kin]
Excuse me for a moment while I berate my sibling.
[turns and grabs Aegnor by the shoulder, furious]
All right, I've just about had it with you. I've taken your guilting about Lady Andreth and about my failure to convince the High Command to invade Angband because I'm not completely free of blame and I feel sorry for you. But you know, I really didn't have the power to make anyone obey me. You didn't have to listen to me telling you what you wanted to hear--
[as his brother raises his hand]
Go on, hit me, that's part of my job, isn't it? -- to make the unpopular decisions so no one else has to and take the blame for the consequences, because there are always consequences, and never make mistakes, never be wrong, because I'm the King. --How dare I get myself into a situation I couldn't get out of, trying to save your lives? How dare I lose the Northwest Passage, and the North, and Nargothrond? You might almost think it was Fated, now, mightn't you?
[Angrod tries to intervene, but doesn't get a chance]
--And when it comes to it, why weren't you able to convince your own best friends that an attack was in everyone's best interests? Hm? Why didn't you work on getting Cel to push his brothers into going along? Though I gather you did -- so why didn't you succeed?
[letting go of Aegnor and gesturing widely]
I couldn't solve all your problems for you in Beleriand, and guess what, I can't solve them here either. I'm sorry about that, that I can't fix everything that's gone wrong on either side of the Sea -- the Starmaker knows I tried, as well as failed, even if you don't -- and I'm sorry I couldn't even avenge you -- but right now there is a problem that possibly I can affect, and must at least endeavor to, and if it is a matter painful to us both, and cannot but bring to heart that sorrow afresh, still must we endure it.
[a little quieter]
I'm not asking you to believe me. Nor even to help our cousin and our friend. I only insist that you not cause any more problems for them. --But that is all I'm going to say to you on the subject. One way or another. Do you understand?
If you don't, or won't, -- then get out of my sight. Now.
[Aegnor stares at him, his mouth working, but unable to speak; torn between hauling off and slamming his eldest, and vanishing, he flickers for a moment, then pulls away and stands a little ways off, his arms folded, his eyes closed in pain. Huan comes up to huff comfortingly in his ear, and gets a hard shove on his nose for his pains; meanwhile Finrod turns back to the conversation, and the horrified gazes of his family. Puzzled:]
You . . . displayed ill-humour, Majesty -- if I may understate.
Finrod: [still slightly manic]
Yes, well, it does happen from time to time.
[his relatives are all still taken aback: ironically]
--It isn't as though I drew a blade on him, after all.
Teler Maid: [almost whispering]
But -- you shouted at him . . .
[their reaction leaves him a bit off-balance -- he looks at the Ten for reassurance, and gets it, if a bit strangely:]
Considering, my lord, that of all us that are present I have known you the longest, the latest, and the most continuous, and I have only seen you mastered by anger four times in as many yen -- towards your cousins, at Alqualonde, your father, at Araman, against the Enemy on the battlefield at the Sudden Flame, and towards Nargothrond at our exiling -- it is I believe infrequent enough to warrant marvel.
[with a shrewd look at all the Finarfinions]
There were perhaps other occasions when I was not present to witness, certainly, and I do not reckon such situations where a severe rebuke was required and furnished with appropriate mannerisms -- of which last I incline to judge this latest outburst, at least in part.
Somewhere near half -- I'm not sure of the exact proportion, myself. I trust there won't be another occasion for it in the near future, either.
[picking up where he left off again]
So, anyhow -- it depends on how you look at it, whether you see it as contradiction, as change, or as but a wider understanding of Fate than we've grown up accepting, unquestioningly. I don't think it's as radical or unsettling as everyone seems to believe: after all, I'm not saying that the Song won't end and we along with it -- only that there will be a new Music, and everything made new in it. --As we should have been.
Dost reckon full the consequence of this thy claim? Even unto Morgoth, verily?
[again he nods, seriously; clearly she wants to say more, but it's too much to be able to get out]
Beren: [unfolding realization]
That's what you meant. That's -- what you were trying to tell me when -- right before -- before you died. When you said. . . we might not meet again, but maybe it would be all right somehow. I thought -- after -- you meant about--
[nodding towards Huan]
--that they might win. Not that we'd meet like this -- or after . . . after the after-everything.
I didn't dare raise any false hope -- I owed you honesty, not comforting lies, but -- I couldn't leave you with nothing but my failure, when I might be right after all. --I never Saw this, though.
Are you -- angry with me, for telling you no more of my vision than that "maybe" --?
[Beren looks at him fondly, shaking his head]
You spoke truer than you knew, then.
Thank you, my Lady!
Beren: [hesitant, but earnest]
Maybe -- maybe again, too . . . ?
Amarie: [to Finrod, with a drastic gesture, very agitated]
Nay, this madness doth far outpace thine eldest uncle's! Which shall be worse, I ken not -- to grasp even at eternity, nor rest content with all that hath been given us -- else to proclaim that such as he shall stand beside the Powers as gods verily -- else to hold thou knowest better far than even holy Manwe how this Ea is, and shall even be, withal, as thou wert Varda herself to grant such clarity unto the greatest of the cosmos? Hast thou not dread -- nay, I speak not of shame to thee! -- concerning of their affront, to hear of this thy foolish pridefulness?
Nay, dost thou truly hold the gods ken naught of thy love's certainties? Think, child! [as Amarie gives her an affronted look in turn:]
--Whence came yon troublesome rumours, the truth of which we have so plainly heard outspoken?
'Tis a most fair dream, to be sure, and the greater part of mine own counter to it hath fled like the molten flux before the most burning proof: that well indeed thou kennst this world its sorrow, nor recketh lightly of it, nor deemst it but foundation to the rest, as 'twere nay than the crushing of gravel fine to set beneath the footing of a lofty pergola. Yet still I may not but acknowledge it as shown, that thine hope of Arda Envinyanta is aught other than thy wish, from earliest days, that all thy kin might dwell together in peace and all their rivalries be given o'er, and now thou hast found to thyself more kinfolk even, and would of thy most generous spirit gather all these as well, about thee for ever more.
[as he starts to protest once more]
Nay, I confess I would most gladly consent with thee, saving that my doubt, that hath seen all fair beginnings fall to wrack and ruin, and every clarity made dark, and how joy turneth ever unto sorrow, findeth it still nor ever too light a resolution. --But, youngling, thou dost self little service, to win thy theorem hearing, thus to make utterance in manner so short and prideful, as wert all ways plain and manifest, and only fools might not see it likewise.
. . .
[she does not look away, and he turns after a moment to the Steward.
--Edrahil -- am I being proud and impatient about it?
Aye, my lord, and so should I declare even did I hold with it.
[Finrod looks towards the Captain, who nods agreement soberly, and then back to his relatives]
Sorry. I suppose I was abit overbearing.
Such shall be ever hazard of this our lordly duty, I fear.
[his eldest gives him a wary glance, which becomes more uncertain when he sees the living King's expression is rueful amusement, not sarcasm]
Angrod: [shaking his head]
For myself, I'd like to know what Galadriel would have said to all this. I can't imagine our sister wouldn't bring a measure of cold reality to temper the conversation.
[at Finrod's Look]
--I'm only saying what I think--
--Indeed, and another matter that all that's followed did drive from recollection: wherefore the meaning-insolence of my former vassals in their words concerning thy youngest sibling, that she of all of ye did swiftest and most fully take to the other Shore?
Aegnor: [over his shoulder, shrugging]
Probably they were talking about how she and her consort took off on that expedition retracing the March with a bunch of fellow lunatics. Or else that she moved to Menegroth in the first place.
Artanis hath wed?!?
Oh, that's right--
Hm. --Edrahil, do you recall--
Finarfin: [keeping going]
--Or unto whom?
[somewhat exciteably the Sea-elf points to Beren, with an "I know this!" attitude:]
To one of his cousins!
Uh, that's gonna conf--
Nerdanel: [to her nephews, in greater astonishment]
--Thy sister also hath taken a mortal consort?
--By marriage, gentles -- that is to say, one of l--Lady Luthien's cousins, of royal Olwe's kindred, the Lord Celeborn.
[Finarfin looks more bewildered than relieved]
You didn't tell them?
Finrod: [staring at him innocently]
No, somehow it seems to have slipped my mind, what with being preoccupied trying to save the universe, anger the Powers and oh, by-the-by, pack in four-hundred-going-on-five years' worth of adventures into what seemed like half-an-hour, not to mention all the interruptions and--
[chastened, Angrod raises his hand in appeal, in a gesture and manner very typical of his eldest sibling]
Ingold -- please.
[without any warning a banshee screech of unmitigated fury echoes throughout the entire Hall, startling everyone, though there is no visible source]
[before anyone can do anything beyond react in concern, Luthien herself appears, out of thin air, in a tearful rush, shoving anyone in her path aside and flinging her arms around Beren's neck]
--Beren -- Beren -- you're still here--
[she steps back, looking at him as if she can't believe it, while Huan crowds in as though he hadn't seen her for decades and recognizes that she needs a dog welded to her side, even if she doesn't]
Oh, Beren, dear one, it's no use, there's -- you mustn't trust anyone here, you can't trust my family, it doesn't matter what side of the Sea they're on--
Not even us?
Oh, don't be stupid -- of course you.
Don't -- don't listen to anyone -- else, or let anyone talk you into anything, don't agree to anything, no matter how innocent it sounds, or reasonable, don't -- Oh!
[she shakes her head in outrage, unable to keep going -- he catches hold of her forearm, trying to get her to calm down]
--Tinuviel. --What -- did -- they -- say?
Luthien: [with a convulsive shiver]
He said -- he said you could be -- be put in some sort of suspended animation, unconscious, as though you were someone who'd returned from Exile illegally and that way we'd still be married but I wouldn't have to worry about you and you wouldn't technically be in Aman, you'd be on some islands somewhere, and so it would all be lawful.
[he lets go of her wrist and draws himself up, shocked]
That's what I said. I --
I -- yes.
Unconscious. For how long?
Always! I told them, it was bad enough, you were unconscious for a whole season, why would they think I would be happy with you like that forever?
[he is staring at her in disbelief, rapidly replaced by conviction to match hers that this is not a misunderstanding, while Nerdanel looks at Finarfin and her nephews incredulously and Amarie, frowning, shakes her head in disagreement.]
Honestly. I should have insisted on being present to help keep things in perspective. This is ridiculous -- and I'm going to tell Lord Namo so myself as soon--
[Beren whirls to face them]
Beren: [almost incoherent in his own distress]
No -- you don't understand. None of you! You -- I -- you can't!
Beren: [shaking his head]
There's nothing -- look, my whole life I spend fighting against the Dark, and I lose everything, and when I ask the gods for even a little help, the only choice I get is between exiled to Death now or exiled to the Grey Country forever? What -- kind of choice is that? Why can we not get even the least break? We've been patient, we've trusted the Powers to do right by us, we're not the bad guys, but--
Finrod: [trying to reassure him as before]
Beren, it isn't--
Don't! Don't lie to me now -- there isn't any hope, Tinuviel's right, nobody cares, no one can help us and you do not understand because you're here and you don't have anything to lose, there isn't any place else for you to go and even if Amarie won't listen to you now there's still hope for you, you do have forever, and no matter what -- even if you're right -- and Ages down the road we do get to find each other again, that isn't going to make the forever in between any less of a Hell for us!!
[as Finrod reaches out, upset, he flings him away and storms a short ways off, stopping abruptly to stand, his back to them, fist clenched at his side, shaking. No one quite dares to approach him -- except for Huan, who realizes that it's Beren who needs a canine shadow and additionally to have his ear snuffled and a dog nose shoved under his chin. The upshot of this is to cause the mortal to turn and hug the Hound, leaning against Huan's chest for a moment before wearily but resignedly rejoining the assembled Elven company, ghostly and otherwise (still with a divine Hound practically welded to his side.) After kissing Luthien quickly and she brushing the hair out of his eyes with an anxious caress, he faces the Nargothronders again.]
Sorry. I -- didn't mean to be ungrateful. I just -- lost it and said stuff that felt true but -- I know you can't help it, and you would if -- I don't mean any of that.
Teler Maid: [sympathetic]
I do that sometimes.
At least I did before. It -- it is harder, now, not simply here. Perhaps I am growing up.
I did not mean to call you but a child, my lord.
--Or you, for such a Doom would put any out of temper, I think. Would you not agree?
[this last, innocently put to the newcomers, evokes expressions ranging from pensive to taut to intensely so; Beren, with Huan still "at heel," approaches Finrod & stands before him looking up at him unflinchingly -- despite the circle of witnesses, it is an extremely personal moment]
I cut you awful bad, didn't I?
[the other shakes his head, smiling sadly]
I've dealt with angry Men before. That -- wasn't the worst that any of your family has said to me.
An' . . .?
[the Elf-lord nods, and he sighs again]
--Not so much angry -- as terrified. I haven't been afraid -- not really, not since they said that Carcharoth was dead -- not even here, even before he came--
[scratching under the Hound's jaw]
--but now? I'm scared out of my wits. I don't know what's coming, what to do, and it just keeps looking worse. And that's not going away. Actually--
--yes, angry, and that isn't going away either, but -- now I'm riding it and not the other way 'round.
[he looks around at the Ten earnestly]
Only there's nothing for me to fight or destroy here, and that's sort of all I know how to do. --And wait. I'm good at waiting a situation out . . . but . . .
Steward: [shaking his head]
Oh, little one. --Trust the people who love you.
--Trust our King.
[Huan's tail signals agreement, and Beren nods ruefully, losing more of the frenzied edge]
I guess I shouldn't understimate you all, either, huh?
Teler Maid: [a little too loud]
But of course not!
[embarrassed, she winces, but Finrod smiles at her, and she perks up again]
Thank you for that encouraging confidence, Maiwe.
What, exactly, are they objecting to with regards to your marriage?
Luthien: [flinging up her hands]
Everything! --Nothing. No one seems to take me seriously! They all still treat me like I'm a child -- I feel like I never left home.
[her father's counselor looks away, downcast; Nerdanel reaches out to him before recollecting, and sighs]
Why doesn't anyone pay attention to what I have to say?
Beren: [ducking his head a little]
Look, it's not your fault -- but -- earlier, you know -- you were coming across a little -- well, like my four-year-old cousin when we had to explain to her it was time to let her orphan squirrel go back to the woods.
[as she glares at him, with rather a betrayed expression, the Captain gives a sudden loud shout of laughter, instantly suppressed, and receives the full brunt of her redirected wrath:]
What are you laughing for? There's nothing funny about this!
Captain: [with a placating gesture, struggling not to lose control again]
Sorry -- I -- I'm sorry, Highness, I know, but -- I just couldn't help it, when he said -- just -- trying to not think of that picture -- it's just too wrong, my lady -- you as an angry toddler, holding on to Beren as -- as an orphaned baby squirrel, and scowling at Lady Vaire like that--
Beren: [completely serious]
No, my cousin was older than that, and so was the squirrel, that was the problem--
Captain: [shaking his head]
I know, I know, humans age differently, and -- it -- never mind, it was foolish--
No, it was quite inappropriate.
Now, if either of you had said a young wildcat, instead . . .
[Luthien matches stares with her cousin, and cannot help it -- a reluctant smile forces its way onto her face.]
All right. It is a funny picture. --But them wanting me to -- to set Beren free -- isn't.
No. So we'll just have to make them see reason, somehow.
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.