He chases behind her, steadily and determinedly. She laughs wildly at the straight expression on his face. Will her warden be so serious in everything, she wonders with a mischievous grin. Bare feet glance against the solid branches beneath her as she faces forward again, running with the light wind and the heady pounding of her heart.
This moonlit game had become their ritual; a thrilling, unending race through the waving treetops. She revels in the just perceptible, faint sounds of his breath behind her; almost close enough to feel on the back of her neck, but not quite close enough. The suspense sends a shiver through her, a wild exhilaration. It is everything to know that he pursues, to know he could catch and claim her.
It is a feeling she refuses to lose. Waiting until his outstretched fingers can just grasp the trailing skirts of her gown, the last moment before glorious touch, she closes her eyes and dreams at their sudden closeness. And then she drops down amongst the darkness, catching her ragged breath with a smile as she loses him amongst soft shadows until the next night of starry pursuit.
Foul cries and unearthly shrieks fill the night around her. She shivers under the light shawl about her shoulders from where she looks out into the gloom. Never had the woods of her home looked so foreboding, so unwelcome. The boughs and branches appear like wicked arms reaching darkly out towards her. It is only death that chases her now through the fraught woodlands.
And he is out there somewhere. Hunting new prey with deadly intent. Knowing his honour to duty she wraps her arms about herself in some form of comfort: for death would be at his heels too.
She wishes she could creep out to see him, wishes she had courage to traverse the branches once more and just lay eyes on him to assuage her anxiety. But it would not be wise, she would only become a burden, it would tempt a dark fate even more. The battlefield is no place for a forest maid.
The endless unknowing makes the waiting all the more unbearable. Alone in the darkness the shadowy Mellym feel all the more desolate as they surround her pale figure.
They run with garlands and ribbons through the trees around her, bedecking the woods for peace and celebration. Their noise is incessant, irritating and grating against her worry. Her stomach knots with it, as days after the battles she has still not seen him. No word has come; grave or fair tidings of a warden's fate elude her as the over-bright days crawl on. Surely one such as he would be noticed, would be … remembered.
She lingers on old paths, possessed by memories both frightful and glorious. There is no charm in the cool nights, she walks rather than runs along the broad branches, her hair a silver curtain that hides her downcast face. Paths once fair and flower-strewn are ripped and torn with the marks of war and cruel intent. Shadows become pools of blood in the darkness, the twigs on the floor are broken arrows and with every step she sees his face looming before her in death and agony. Cursing herself and her past foolishness she drifts on. If only she'd let him catch her, possess her and be hers in return…
The sun has risen again when she reaches the first clearing, with its sad mounds stretching out into the tree line. Shock floods through her as with wide eyes she struggles to take in the harrowing scene. Cloaks and weapons are laid out upon the raised earth, both testament and honour to their former owners. Courage deserting her she flees weeping through the scarred woodlands, flinging herself against a sturdy trunk for support. For a time she leans there, clinging to the familiar bark and letting her tears finally flow. There is a sound. Breaking off a sob she steels her face, trying to force the emotion from it as she turns.
Utter disbelief and frenzied hope fill her. Her lips tremble with emotion that threatens to overspill yet again as she stares across the clearing to one who stands waiting warily as if he dreams. Frozen in shock they stand apart, a timeless wealth of unsaid words hanging between them. In sudden relief and stunned realisation she unclasps her hands from her mouth and reaches out for he whom she loves. As her legs begin to give beneath her she manages to whisper:
Special thanks to Aearwen & Erluisse for their help!
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.