9. White Ladies
B2MEM prompt: The Silmarillion, Aredhel. Thanks to Fiondil for proper accentuation and spelling.
"Our White Lady is drawn by the foreign Man," Gandalf overheard one of the Riders in Théoden's hall confide to another.
White Lady! The words drew a memory into his mind's eye, of days spent in company with Oromë and those of the Children chosen to ride with him in the Hunt. Once it was the sons of Fëanáro who had been chosen to come, and with them came their cousins Turucáno and his sister Írissë, Findecáno having chosen not to come that day for some reason none had ever told. Perhaps there had been an argument between Maitimo and his beloved cousin about the bad blood lying between Fëanáro and his half brothers, or perhaps the ellon'sfather or grandfather had required his attendance that day.
He, Olórin, had held the horses to be ridden by the Children. The red intended to be ridden by Írissë had been restive, and was watchful as Huan followed at his master's heels. Just as the silver-clad elleththrew her leg over the horse's back, Huan had come too close for the red's comfort, and it reared up in temper. Írissë ought to have been spilled unceremoniously upon the ground, but instead she had held on with knees and arms, and by sheer willpower had forced her steed to turn away from the hound it had sought to trample and to settle among the rest. And then she'd begun to sing, calming the horse further, drawing its attention away from its discomfort toward the hound and to its growing bond with its rider. The Maia had been very impressed.
"Ar-Feiniel has mastery over her mount," Macalaurë had commented with admiration in his voice.
"Too stubborn to allow herself to be thrown by a mere horse," agreed Russandol, half-grudgingly. Maitimo had never been particularly fond of Írissë, as Olórin now recalled the scene.
Things had not gone fully well for her in the end, however. Just as Írissë had refused to be thrown by her horse that day in the Hunt, so she'd refused to give in to the cold and dark experienced in the crossing of the Helcaraxë, as stubborn in her decision to survive as had proved Artanis. For one who had ridden freely by the sides of the sons of Fëanáro in Aman, the final retreat into the hidden realm of Gondolin had proved too much, and Aredhel, as she was now named anew, chose to leave her brother's safe haven to seek the company of her cousins once more. But she'd been caught by Ëol and had become his bride, either willingly or unwilling. Gandalf tried to imagine her as she must have been then, the White Lady of the Noldor held to the shadows of the dark Elf's trees. No wonder Aredhel had decided to return to her brother's protection with her son in search of relative freedom once more, only to die so horribly, protecting her brother from her husband's spite and leaving Turgon yet alive, only to be betrayed in the future by her son's successful stab at vengeance.
The Wizard returned to current contemplation of the White Lady of Rohan. Yes, she was following Aragorn's progress about the room with worshipful eyes, unaware as yet that he had long ago given his heart into the keeping of another, and that no matter how courteous and attentive he might seem, it was fatherly feelings toward one so young and valiant rather than attraction that motivated him.
She will be hurt when she realizes that he cannot love her in return,Gandalf thought. He prayed that her end should not mirror that of Aredhel so long ago, to have her shining presence hidden beneath the dark of forests so dense that her light should be stifled.
But not all forests are darksome, he heard in the depths of his heart. And where true love is, dwelling in a foreign land in an unfamiliar setting is not captivity, but freedom to widen one's experiences.
He returned his attention to Éowyn once more, his hope for her strengthened, and his curiosity at her possible future piqued. One he could think of who might bring the White Lady of the fields of Rohan to love the beauty of trees, remembering the sheer happiness a boy had shown when describing for the Wizard his first visit to Ithilien at the side of his brother and father….