1. A Waiting Game
From behind the trees, hidden with the skill of the elves amongst leaf and bracken, I watch her as she runs without terror. Her feet leap with agility that shames the deer. The shadows conceal me in the orange glow of the fading sun as she passes me by with uplifted eyes, simple joy writ upon her face. This balmy evening is a world apart from the bleak grey day from whence she came.
The wordless terror has passed. She names things now, running from tree to tree, near shouting for joy at a world rediscovered. It is a joy I wish I could share. There is much I cannot rediscover. The once shaking, frail body stands strong and supple. A shaky childish step has blossomed and grown with the summer into a flower that bends and twists gracefully with the wind. I know I do not smile but I am glad she is saved. Better one life kept than yet another maid's lost.
The bleak workings of my mind have drawn me from the present, filtering down the dark paths of the past. Shaking the unchangeable aside I return my focus to the unaware maid who flits alone between the leafy giants. Not a wise thing to do in this wild world. Following her footsteps along the narrow avenue of trunks, I lose sight of her from amongst the foliage. My heart leaps for a second as her form disappears from my world in an instant. Silently, warily, I push past the laden branches to scan the area.
I release a breath I did not know I held as my eyes behold her; crouching down over a white blossom that has struggled up through the leaf strewn floor, clinging defiantly on to life as the season of falling leaves draws in. My mind is drawn to the vision and without thought I take a step forward, heavy boot crunching on brittle twigs. The sudden, coarse snapping makes her flinch, a startled doe in the sights of a hunter. Mentally I curse as I throw my palms up in peace, praying she will not run.
The fright painted across her features holds for a second as her trembling body is poised taut, ready to flee. The tension falls in an instant as her eyes register me. The rose lips part, curving slightly up at the corners, her eyes burn brightly for a flicker of time. She is smiling, and it is beautiful. Coldness leaves me …
Everything seems blue. The world is a wash of peaceful cobalt surrounding us as my eyes adjust to the darkness with each passing hour. She has not screamed in many nights. I have watched her peacefully curled beneath the woollen blankets like a child. I smooth back the fine strands of hair from a calm face. She still grasps my hand before sleep, the slight fingers curling about my own. I notice now how soft they are, how gentle. I have curled my fingers back around hers, once eyes have closed and surrendered to the night.
I could not leave that bedside now even if it was my wish to do so. Her very presence sets a chord resonating within my body so strongly it causes my steady hands to tremble when they tentatively reach for her, as we sit by the fires in the gathering dark. She is my fire, a flickering strand of light that has sprung from amongst desolate grey to warm me, nay, to set me aflame.
We are walking when the first sudden drops of fear fall. They burst fiercely upon my upturned face as the rain batters through the trees around us, sending its spluttering chorus into the air. She freezes, face blanched white as a fresh bed sheet. I curse the unpredictable weather of the season and face her. I cup her face in my hand; I murmur the prayer that is her name softly to her. She comes back to me, her eyes plead for safety that I exist only to provide.
Threading our fingers I draw her alongside me and under the shelter of my sweeping cloak. Stepping as sure and careful as my skills allow I guide my precious charge to shelter. I know an outcropping of rocks that will not be too far. Shelter from the rain they can provide me with at least, but I do not have the power to stop the thunder which may follow. I glance, almost as fearful as she, from left to right at the clouds amassing over us. The forest's colours blur in the sudden downpour into inks of greys and greens that run from a damp parchment. Feeling her shrink against me from the onslaught, I unfasten my cloak without a pause and drape it over her slight form. There is not far to go, my eyes can just perceive the stony grey projections that jut from the earth like the fingers of gods.
Finally it seems we reach them, I can cease to grind my teeth as I usher her under the shelter of two leaning monoliths. It is only a small alcove, but small enough for her at least and that is what matters. I duck under those now sacred stones and shake the wet from my hair like a dog. I look up to find her waiting with a small grin for me. I grin back and slide down against the stone to sit and wait it out. She follows my action, sidling against me, sniffing in the cold and damp. I draw my knees up and adjust the cloak around us both, she shivers and I hold her close to me, wrapping my arms about her delicate frame. She clings tightly to me, gratefully. I inhale the sweet scent of her hair as she sighs peacefully, comfortably. I know I love her.
The stars are aglow above us, a scattering of jewels across a tranquil night sky. This spring night is mild and full of promise. I breathe the fresh clean air with a new heart that thuds within me at her closeness. We walk together, as always now, my stride shortened to match hers. We reach her lodgings all too soon; I glance around for a reason to delay a 'farewell and good night' I am becoming all too frustrated with. Pale blossoms catch the moonlight, gently waving about us in the sudden silence we have come to. This is not a time for parting.
Inches apart we face each other, the words of leave-taking caught within my throat as my hand lightly captures hers. She lingers and looks not to the doorway, not away, but only to me. My breath is baited with anticipation. Slowly she moves, gently, purposefully. Her pale hand draws me near, coming to rest coolly on the back of my neck. I lean towards her, capturing her soft lips with my own.
"Turumbar," she breathes,
"Níniel," I whisper back.
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.