21. Enemies and Allies
He pushed open the door, and saw Tathiel jump to her feet and stand, placing the bed between them. He shut the door behind him, and sat down on the chair that sat just inside the door. He said nothing at first, just watched the she-elf, holding the sleeping baby in her arms and watching him warily.
“The baby may stay with you,” he said quietly, watching her relax slightly at this news.
They continued to watch each other, the silence stretching over many minutes.
“Please sit down, if you would be more comfortable.”
Tathiel sat, still rigid, on the edge of the bed.
Tal-Elmar drew in a deep breath, “I will force no female to be my wife, nor to lie with me.”
Tathiel’s eyes opened in surprise at his words. She considered his words for several moments, wondering if he was being honest or if this was a scheme to trick her.
“Your father will be angry.”
“Yes, he will.”
Another long silence drew out between them, Tathiel relaxing again slightly and gently rocking Legolas in her arms.
“What is his name?” Tal-Elmar nodded at the sleeping child.
“Legolas,” Tathiel answered, a small smile on her lips as she gazed down at the sleeping infant.
“How old is he?”
“He was born one year ago,” Tathiel answered, remembering to reckon age as the humans did.
“He walks and speaks very well for one so young,” Tal-Elmar said in surprise.
“His development is as it should be for one of his kind,” Tathiel answered slowly, not wishing to give away too much information.
“My father said that elves age differently than do humans,” Tal-Elmar offered.
“We do,” was all Tathiel replied.
“I have never deceived or lied to my father,” Tal-Elmar said quietly, his head down. “I am afraid that to keep you safe I may need to do so.”
Tathiel gazed at silently, waiting for Tal-Elmar to explain himself.
“I do not know what to do, not yet anyway,” he explained. “I need to learn more of you and your people; know where you come from and how far it is. My father will stay close to the house and watch you closely and I am afraid he will take Legolas from you if he sees you are not doing and acting as he wishes.”
Tathiel again gave no response.
“I will not harm you. I will not lie with you…..in that way,” Tal-Elmar reddened, unable to state his lack of intention more clearly. “But you must act as if we have such a relationship…and have…consummated …….that relationship.”
Tathiel blushed slightly at his words, finally daring to ask, “What do you mean?”
“We must sleep together in this bed, and when you are about the house you must allow me to touch you as a man might touch his wife. I will not be inappropriate,” Tal-Elmar said quickly. “You must act as if you accept the situation.”
“For how long?” Tathiel questioned, still seeing how such actions and words could be used to entrap her.
“Until we figure out what to do,” Tal-Elmar answered honestly. “I know what you think. You are wondering if I am using kind words against my father’s harsh words to make you trust me; and that once you have allowed yourself to trust me I will take advantage of that trust. That is not my intent.”
“Intentions can change,” Tathiel answered softly. “You may not intend to do this, but you may be led to do so by the intentions of your father.”
“I am young, but have never been led easily astray,” Tal-Elmar defended himself. “Yet, all I can offer you is my promise that I will do my best to keep to my original intent.”
Tathiel smiled at the sincerity of this young man. Perhaps she had found an ally.
“Please prepare yourself for bed. I will leave briefly with the excuse of you needing a glass of water. Have you nightclothes?”
“None fit to wear,” Tathiel answered honestly. Her nightgown had been torn into bandages long ago.
Tal-Elmar pulled one of his own nightshirts from a chest, and then one of his mother’s as well.
“You are much taller than my mother, who last wore this. If it does not fit, mine will.”
Tal-Elmar left the room, and Tathiel quickly undressed and put on the nightshirt offered. She looked at the beautiful hand knitted lace of the gown that had been his mothers, and carefully folded it and placed it back in the chest. She was much too tall to wear it, and the expression on the young man’s face made it clear he considered it dear.
Tal-Elmar returned a moment later with a pitcher of water and a cup. Tathiel saw Hazad standing in the hallway, arms folded across his chest as he leaned against the wall. Tal-Elmar quickly shut the door.
“Are Tinánia and Eärundra safe?” she asked him.
“They will be fine. My father will not bother them if he believes you are doing as instructed,” Tal-Elmar replied.
He looked at her standing in his nightshirt, which left little to the imagination, and blushed again.
“Would you mind…..facing the wall while I change?” Tal-Elmar asked politely.
Tathiel smiled at him, a genuine smile that reached her eyes. She turned her back to him, and heard the sounds of clothing being removed and then his words indicating he was done. They stood facing each other, on opposite sides of the bed, in identical nightshirts. What Tathiel had expected to be a terrifying situation had turned slightly humorous as she considered this young…and as it turned out…..rather innocent young man before her. She smiled at him again, and he saw the humor as well and returned the smile.
Tathiel placed Legolas between them, and then lay down in the bed. It was soft and the sheets cool, and she realized it was the first bed in which she had slept in over a year. Tal-Elmar extinguished the lamp, and she felt the mattress sag as he crawled in next to her. He was grateful for the presence of the infant as well, and careful not to touch either of them, he fell asleep.
“Tafiel wake up!”
Tathiel was awakened before dawn by a rather demanding little voice. Focusing her eyes on the small blond elfling leaning over her, his face nearly touching hers, she kissed him on the nose. He laid himself out atop of her, his head on her chest and pointed at the man in the bed with him.
Tathiel grimaced. She would have to make sure they were very careful how they referred to these men in Legolas’ presence. Elflings tended to echo all they heard.
“I do not think so, tithen caun,” she answered truthfully, however. “His name is Tal-Elmar.”
“Talmar,” Legolas repeated, still watching the man dubiously.
Legolas laid on Tathiel for a few moments, watching the sleeping man. Curious, he slid down her side and crawled to the man. He reached out and ran his finger down the stubble of the man’s face. Tal-Elmar’s eyes opened and he froze. It took him a moment to remember who the child was and why he was in bed with him.
Legolas froze as well, fear in his eyes as the man woke. Tathiel watched cautiously, her hand ghosting over Legolas’ back, ready to snatch him to her in an instant. She would judge Tal-Elmar’s words by his actions.
A smile crept over Tal-Elmar’s face and he blew gently into the baby’s face, Legolas’ hair fluttering in the light breeze. Legolas grinned, putting his fingers over the man’s mouth. Tal-Elmar pretended to gnaw at the little fingers while making a slight growling sound, and Legolas laughed. Tal-Elmar blew into his face again, and the elfling giggled. Tal-Elmar sat up, and Legolas scurried back into the protection of Tathiel’s arms.
“Ah, so he is a brave one, but not quite that brave yet,” Tal-Elmar smiled.
He rose, and pulling his clothing from the chest, quickly dressed while Tathiel averted her eyes.
“We must talk, that I might better understand all that has happened,” Tal-Elmar told her as he pulled on his boots. “My father will be watching you closely today. Be careful to speak only in the common tongue around my father. We may be able to talk in this room, or perhaps you can accompany me to the barn as I do my chores. Legolas will enjoy seeing the animals. My father will expect breakfast shortly, however.”
Tathiel nodded, the knot within her stomach loosening as at least, so far, Tal-Elmar had held to his word. “I will nurse him and dress, and then come prepare the morning meal.”
Legolas was already tugging at her nightshirt, so she settled him to nurse as Tal-Elmar left the room.
Tathiel slipped from the room after making the bed, Legolas in her arms. She noted a pitcher of water outside the room next to one she had just left, and quietly opening the door she saw her hopes confirmed. Tinánia and Eärundra sat together on a small bed in too-large boy nightshirts, fear in their eyes, as she opened the door. At the sight of her, they both sighed in relief and rushed to her.
“Tathiel, did he hurt you?” Tinánia whispered, she and Eärundra both throwing their arms around Tathiel at the same time.
“No, he did not,” Tathiel answered, stroking their hair. “I will tell you more later. First, wash up and dress, and then come to the kitchen. I must start breakfast and then we can talk.”
Tathiel took Legolas with her to the kitchen, finding his toys still in their pouch on the floor where he had played the night before. She placed him on the floor near her feet to play. She noted fresh eggs in a bowl on the table and meat set on the stove. Taking all that was laid out before her, she prepared their breakfast.
Tal-Elmar and Hazad appeared just as Tinánia finished setting the table. Tal-Elmar winked at Tathiel as he leaned over her shoulder to see what she had prepared.
“We shall see how that tastes,” he said with a critical eye at the pan. “This is not how we normally prepare our eggs and ham.”
Tathiel bowed her head appropriately, “I hope you will like it. I will learn to cook them as you wish, should you not prefer them done this way.”
At the table, Tinánia stared at Tathiel as if she had grown horns. Hazad smiled, pleased.
Tal-Elmar finished his meal, wishing he could admit how good it tasted. He watched the children eat for a few moments. His father had finished as well.
“After you finish the breakfast dishes, I will show you to the barn,” Tal-Elmar said. “I will expect you two girls to collect eggs each morning before breakfast, bring in water for cooking, and milk the cow. After breakfast you will have other chores to do in the barn.”
He stood, looking down at them. “I will return for you in a few minutes.”
He strode from the room, leaving the house. Hazad watched him go with pride. He turned back to Tathiel and smiled, the look paternal.
“The eggs were fine.”
With that he also stood and left the house.
Tathiel watched the door for a few moments, finally standing and crossing to the window. Both men were already in the barn. She turned to the children and smiled.
“Well, shall we get started?”
Tinánia and Eärundra still appeared confused, but began clearing the table as requested. Tathiel stood behind them as they washed and dried the dishes, and spoke quietly to them of what had happened the night before, and how Tal-Elmar seemed to want to help them.
“For now, just be quiet and do as you are asked,” Tathiel instructed them. “Perhaps you might even enjoy the animals they keep in their barn.”
Tal-Elmar returned to them a few minutes later, and they walked the land with him. He showed them the garden, which they would be expected to tend, and the barn animals that they would be responsible to care for.
There was a pen with sheep, a chicken coop, and in the barn a few cows and horses. Legolas chased the chickens, petted a baby lamb, and stroked the nose of the gentle old cow. He ran through the barn, his toy wolf in his hands, calling ‘baa baa’ like the sheep when Hazad stepped in his way.
Legolas stopped in his tracks, his eyes swiftly rising from the man’s feet to his face, terror in his eyes. Tathiel started for him immediately, but Tal-Elmar gently grasped her arm, stopping her. He strode forward to where the small child and grown man stood staring at each other.
“Father, come see the south field. We cleared it early this spring,” Tal-Elmar clapped his father on the back, leading him away from Legolas.
Legolas turned and ran towards Tathiel, jumping into her outstretched arms. He turned swiftly in her arms and watched Hazad and Tal-Elmar walk away.
“Bad man and Tamar,” Legolas pointed at their retreating figures.
“Hazad and Tal-Elmar,” she gently corrected him.
“Zad and Tamar,” Legolas repeated, clasping ‘woolf’ to his side. His young eyes spoke the truth, however. Zad or Bad man: they were one and the same.
The warm summer days passed quickly. Tinánia and Eärundra learned their new chores and the days of work in the sunshine boosted their appetites and gave them a healthy glow. Legolas learned more words and skills, and the barn became his favorite place. He still feared being near Hazad, but seemed to like Tal-Elmar. Tathiel portrayed the domesticated wife, doing all that was asked of her. She slept in the same bed as Tal-Elmar, and in all those weeks he laid not a hand on her.
Hazad grew complacent as the days went on; spending days working in the fields or cutting wood with other men from the village. Tal-Elmar seemed to have his new family in hand, although Hazad still had reservations about the girl children remaining in the household. But, if Tal-Elmar wished to keep them, well they were useful at least.
“Would you care to come into the village with me, to the market?” Tal-Elmar asked her one morning.
Glad for the change of scenery, Tathiel agreed. She dressed the children in clothing she made from homespun muslin that was kept in the house and they walked the several mile journey into the village.
“The man who owns the store is a good man,” Tal-Elmar explained to Tathiel as they walked. “He has contact with people from other villages, and sometimes travels to purchase goods. If your people are looking for you and have reached any nearby villages, he will know about it.”
“Are you going to ask him if he has heard anything?” Tathiel asked, fear rising in her as to what Hazad would do if he heard.
“No,” Tal-Elmar laughed. “We do not need to arouse suspicion. He will note that I have elves with me; if he hears anything he will come to me of his own accord.”
They reached the town, and conversations ceased as people beheld the elves. Most had never seen an elf, only heard tales of them from their parents and grandparents. Tal-Elmar greeted people on the street, keeping his arm through Tathiel’s at all times. She carried Legolas, and Tinánia and Eärundra walked to her side. No one spoke directly to Tathiel, nor did she speak to them.
They entered the store, the storekeeper greeting Tal-Elmar and asking what he needed. Tal-Elmar told him what he required as Tathiel and the children looked around.
“Tal-Elmar, are they elves?” Sarn whispered to him.
“Yes, they are,” Tal-Elmar replied, laughing. “My father brought them back from Karan this summer.”
A small cry from the back of the store caught Sarn’s attention.
“It is Balwyn,” Sarn said to Tal-Elmar as hurried away. “She is great with child and most uncomfortable.”
Balwyn sat upon a stool, leaning back with her hand over her belly. She was swollen with child, her belly so large that she was unable to sit properly and having a difficult time getting off the stool. Sarn picked her up and set her carefully on the floor. She stood straight, her hand rubbing her lower back, tears of pain in her eyes.
Tathiel had also heard the cry and saw the pregnant woman struggling in pain. Handing Legolas to Tinánia, she walked silently to the women.
“May I?” she asked, her hand hovering above the woman’s belly.
Sarn and Balwyn both stared at her, Balwyn finally nodding. Tathiel touched both hands upon the woman’s belly, her hand moving in ever widening circles as she felt the babies moving beneath her fingers.
“Your babies are very active,” she murmured, continuing her exploration.
“Babies?” Sarn asked, frowning.
“Yes,” Tathiel replied, looking into the young mother’s face. “A son here,” she felt over the woman’s lower abdomen, “and his sister here, behind and above him.”
Balwyn clasped her hands over Tathiel’s, feeling a strange warmth emanating from her soothing touch. “You know this?”
Tathiel smiled. “Will you come lie down? I can relieve some of the pain in your back.”
Sarn began to protest, then stopped and helped Balwyn to their bedroom. Tathiel had her lie down on her side, then pulling up the woman’s gown began to massage her lower back and hips, occasionally running her hands along the belly as well.
Balwyn felt the pain leave her as the soothing hands of the elf brought relief. The tight and overworked muscles of her lower back relaxed and the knots in her hips subsided. Tathiel massaged her scalp and face, and then her feet and lower legs. Balwyn drifted into sleep.
“She has been unable to sleep,” Sarn muttered.
“Her time is near,” Tathiel answered. “The babies are grown to full size and will come soon.”
“Twins,” Sarn said again. “Two babies.” He looked at the bassinette in the corner. “We need two of those.”
“They will both fit in one to start with,” Tathiel laughed. She stood, feeling the babies one last time before removing her hands.
“Your son is not in position yet to deliver. Your midwife may need to turn the child, when the time comes.”
Sarn nodded, still focused on the number two and not hearing Tathiel’s words.
Voices from the store drew his attention and he quickly walked back to the unattended store. Tal-Elmar was in discussion with two large men, both unkempt and dirty. He stood between them and the three children. Tathiel hurried to the children.
“Tathiel, these are two of my brothers,” Tal-Elmar glared at them. “Nurnan and Patel.”
Tathiel nodded at the men. They immediately reminded her of Guryn and bile rose in her throat. All three children cowered behind her.
“This must be the pretty elf Guryn was talking about,” Nurnan said, his eyes running up and down Tathiel.
“Guryn is an idiot,” Tal-Elmar spat. “She is mine anyway, so leave her alone.”
Patel stepped around them, walking toward Tathiel, who had backed herself and the children into a wall. He ran a dirty finger up her cheek.
“She-elf might like a real man,” he leered at her.
Tal-Elmar caught his hand, “Go home.”
“I think we’d like to come back home with you. That is, after all, our home too,” Nurnan grinned at the look of fear that crossed Tathiel’s face.
“You have your own place. Go on. Father is waiting for us,” Tal-Elmar pointed to the door.
Nurnan and Patel left, grinning and commenting on the elf as they left the store.
“You are going to have trouble with them,” Sarn said.
“I know,” Tal-Elmar replied. “I must speak to my father.”
Tal-Elmar led Tathiel and the children from the store, much subdued from when they came. Tathiel found herself watching for the two men and Guryn, now that she knew he had returned. The feeling of safety they had found in the last weeks as Hazad had grown to trust them alone at the house fled from her in that instant.
Tathiel was preparing dinner two days later when a scream from the barn caught her attention; Eärundra and Tinánia were doing their afternoon chores. She gathered up Legolas in her arms and raced from the house to the barn. Tal-Elmar heard the scream as well and was running in from the field beyond the barn.
Tathiel reached the barn first, just as Eärundra came running out her eyes wild with fear. She grabbed Legolas from Tathiel while screaming, “They have Tinánia!”
Tathiel rushed into the darkness of the barn to see Tinánia struggling against Nurnan, Tal-Elmar’s brother. He was holding her by the arms, half lifted off the ground. Tathiel did not hear what Nurnan was saying to the child; she heard only Tinánia’s panicked cries for help.
Tathiel flung herself at Nurnan, knocking him off-balance. He dropped Tinánia, who jumped to her feet, grabbing Tathiel by the hand and pulling her back, “Patel is here too!”
Patel grabbed Tathiel’s arm, tearing the fabric of her dress. She pushed Tinánia away, “Run for the house, now!”
Tinánia fled as told, running not for the house but to find Tal-Elmar.
Tathiel kicked Patel in the shins, wrenching her arm free as he fell. Nurnan was on his feet again, grabbing Tathiel from behind. She kicked both her feet in front of her, throwing her full weight back against Nurnan and knocking him to the floor. She rolled off him and came quickly to her feet as Patel dove for her. She jumped over him and began running from the barn as Tal-Elmar came inside. He saw Tathiel with torn dress, had already seen Tinánia’s bruised arms and a look of rage came into his eyes as he beheld his brothers. He grabbed a pitchfork and started towards his brothers.
“Get out of here!”
Nurnan and Patel backed up, still smarting at having been bested by a female and now being chased off by their younger brother.
“Do not show your faces on this property again,” Tal-Elmar warned them as they finally fled the barn and headed south to their own farm.
Tathiel ran to the house, where she was met by three tearful children. She dropped to her knees next to Tinánia and quickly began assessing her for injuries. Her upper arms were bruised, the handprints of Nurnan visible on her skin. She had a bruise on her cheek and a cut on her lower leg.
“Are you hurt anywhere else?” Tathiel managed, tears still pouring from her own eyes.
Tinánia just shook her head, her arms wrapped around her middle. Tathiel gently pulled her arms down, and saw that the front of her tunic was ripped as well.
“Tinánia, what did they want? What did he do to you?” she gently questioned her.
“He said….if he couldn’t have you……he would have….. me……..,” Tinánia whispered through her tears.
Tal-Elmar was standing in the doorway and heard the whispered words of the terrified child. He went in search of his father.
Tathiel led Tinánia to the large bedroom and had her lay on the bed. The child was physically not injured, but emotionally was very distraught. Tinánia knew when Guryn attacked Tathiel that he meant to force her; she fully realized that Nurnan and Patel meant to do the same to her.
Eärundra crawled up on the bed and wrapped her arms around her sister. Despite the warmness of the sun, Tinánia was shaking. Tathiel laid a blanket over her, and then picked up Legolas, placing him on the bed too. Legolas snuggled next to Tinánia, and she hugged him close. Legolas did not know what was wrong, but he did know something was wrong. Tathiel sat on the bed, her head down and eyes closed, attempting to control the fury rising within her.
She heard Tal-Elmar and Hazad come in and listened for their words.
“They are your brothers; you cannot banish them from this home forever,” Hazad said.
“Father, either they stay away from here or we send the elves home. They are not safe here,” Tal-Elmar argued.
“We can find homes for the girls. They do not need to stay here,” Hazad answered sharply.
“They will not be safe anywhere around here, Father!” Tal-Elmar exclaimed. “I am not separating them from their mother.”
“The older one is getting near marriageable age anyway. Old Ginner’s oldest is but fourteen and he just married her off. Let Nurnan marry this one in another year. He’ll leave her alone until then.”
“I wouldn’t give a dog I liked to Nurnan,” Tal-Elmar spat. “I will not give him this child.”
“It is not yours to say!” Hazad’s voice rose. “I gave you the woman, that is all!”
“The children belong to the woman! You cannot take them from her!” Tal-Elmar yelled back.
The argument ended when a horse and wagon drove into the yard in front of the house at a fast pace, and then a man calling for Tal-Elmar. Tal-Elmar responded with words Tathiel could not understand, then a moment later there was a knock at the door. Tal-Elmar stuck his head in the room.
“Tathiel, Sarn is here. Balwyn’s time has come and there are complications. He asks if you will help.”
Tathiel glanced down at the children; Tinánia was shaking less than she had been. She quickly went through her pack, grabbing her medicine case and then beckoning the children to come with her.
“Tinánia, can you do this? Can you come with me?” Tathiel knelt in front of the child.
Tinánia wiped the tears from her eyes, “They need you, Tathiel.”
Tal-Elmar escorted them to the door, Eärundra carrying Legolas, when Hazad’s voice stopped them.
“The children stay here.”
Tathiel’s eyes flashed, “The children come with me. I am not leaving them alone after what happened.”
“I will be here; they will not be alone,” Hazad replied.
“They need to be with their mother right now,” Tal-Elmar interrupted. “Please, father, Balwyn needs Tathiel’s help now.”
“Children will be in the way,” Hazad argued, not backing down.
“I may need Tinánia to assist me and Legolas will need to nurse,” Tathiel snapped back.
It was Sarn who ended the argument.
“I don’t know what happened earlier, but bring the children with or I may lose my wife and children this night!”
With that, Tal-Elmar helped the children into the wagon with Tathiel, and watched Sarn race from the clearing. He ran to the barn, hitched the horse to the wagon and followed them.
Balwyn was in the throes of childbirth when Sarn arrived with Tathiel. Her mother was present, along with the midwife and several others. Balwyn was exhausted, the labor having gone on for more than a full day already, and her progress was minimal. The midwife was encouraging her to push, and Balwyn did as she was told with what little energy she had left.
“Please, the children must be kept somewhere safe in your home,” Tathiel whispered to Sarn.
“Nurnan and Patel?” Sarn asked.
“They will be down that hall, in the main living quarters. No one will know they are here,” Sarn led her to the bedroom, and Tathiel nodded to the children to follow Sarn.
The women in the room did not notice Tathiel right away. She entered quietly, taking in the scene about her. She walked to Balwyn, who opened her eyes and grasped at Tathiel’s hand.
“I am so glad you came,” she whispered breathlessly.
Tathiel whispered to her, soothing her, one hand on Balwyn’s forehead and the other across her belly. Balwyn immediately felt strength enter her body and the pain subsided. She relaxed under Tathiel’s touch. The room quieted as all the women turned to see the strange elf in their midst.
Tathiel ran her hands over the swollen belly, feeling the muscles tense as another contraction gripped Balwyn. She went to the washbasin then and cleansed her hands, then returned to where the midwife sat.
“May I look?” she asked softly.
The midwife looked at Balwyn, who nodded.
Tathiel checked the progress of the labor, ensuring that Balwyn was indeed ready to give birth. She felt again over the abdomen and closing her eyes felt the child within the womb.
“The first baby is not in position to be birthed,” she explained. “The girl child cannot come until he does.”
There was silence in the room except for the labored breathing of Balwyn, as Tathiel poured forth all her strength into the little one in the womb, and then gently manipulated his position. Opening her eyes, she smiled at Balwyn. “Now we are ready. As soon as the next pains start, push.”
Tathiel continued her ministrations, preparing Balwyn for birth, and a few long minutes later, with only a few additional hard pushes, a baby boy was born. Tathiel handed him to the midwife to tend, and by the time that child was on his mother’s breast, the girl child was ready to be delivered.
Tathiel delivered, cleaned and tended that child; placing her in her mother’s arms before tending again to Balwyn. She finished by mixing some herbs into hot water, and Balwyn drank the tea gladly.
“What is that you give her?” the midwife asked, curious and slightly miffed at the interference.
“It will ease some of the soreness away and help with the bleeding,” Tathiel replied. “I will leave you some and instructions for its use.”
Sarn was brought in by his mother-in-law, and handed his son and daughter. The pride of a first time father beamed from him as a beacon, and then he was kissing and holding his young wife, thanking her and asking her forgiveness all at once.
Tathiel left to give them some time alone as a new family, and found Tal-Elmar playing on the floor with Legolas while Tinánia and Eärundra curled together on a cushion. They looked up as she entered, and she told them of the safe delivery of the twins.
Tinánia smiled at the news, but the smile did not spread to her eyes, which remained haunted and fearful. Tathiel sat down next to her and pulled her into her arms, whispering to her and stroking her hair. Tears came again and sobs shook her body.
“Tathiel, I am scared,” Tinánia whispered.
Tal-Elmar listened in growing frustration over his inability to protect these elves his father had dragged into danger. His father did not understand that the lives of these four were in his hands. Tal-Elmar would not let their blood be on his.
Sarn returned after an hour, and Tathiel took Eärundra and Tinánia to see the babies. Balwyn was a little drowsy from the medication Tathiel had given her, but also happier than she thought possible. She let Tinánia and Eärundra hold her daughter, while Tathiel helped her get situated and learn to nurse her son. Legolas bounced happily on the floor, quickly learning he must sing quietly.
“Baby,” he observed, looking over Eärundra’s arm.
He looked at Tathiel who was holding another baby and walked over, tugging on her dress.
“In a moment, Legolas,” Tathiel smiled at him.
“Just a moment tithen caun,” she shushed him.
“Leges Baby!” he cried, throwing his arms around her knees.
Tathiel finished settling the baby in Balwyn’s arms, and reached down to pick up Legolas. She smiled at him, wiping away his tears.
“Yes, Legolas is Tathiel’s baby,” she cuddled him close, allowing him to nurse as well.
Balwyn’s mother returned a short while later, having gone home to share the news with her husband and Balwyn’s younger siblings. She was very grateful to Tathiel, for her own sister had died in childbirth and she had feared she would lose her daughter as well. Tathiel left Balwyn in her mother’s capable hands, and went in search of Tal-Elmar.
Tal-Elmar and Sarn were in the store, their heads together as they talked. Tal-Elmar didn’t know Tathiel had joined them until the little blonde tornado hit him in the legs yelling, “Tamar!”
“Tathiel, please come and sit. We wish to speak to you,” Sarn gestured for her to sit on the stool near the workbench.
“I have told Sarn about my father stealing you in Karan, near the mouth of the River Carnen. I told him about Guryn, and Nurnan and Patel and how they have tried to harm not only you, but your oldest daughter as well. Sarn knows my father well, and knows that although his intentions towards me were good, what he has done to you is wrong and that he continues to place you in danger. Sarn is willing to help us, Tathiel,” Tal-Elmar explained.
“I will ask discreetly when I go to purchase goods, to see if your people are searching for you. If I can find them, I will bring them to you,” Sarn told her. “Also, I do fear for your daughter Tinánia. If you wish it, she can stay here with us. I am nearly always here and Balwyn can surely use the help with the babies. I promise to protect her. If I must leave, we will make arrangements to see that she is safe.”
Tears welled in Tathiel’s eyes as hope was born anew. She grasped his hand, “You would do this for us?”
“It is so little in comparison to what you have done for my family. I would help you even had we not needed your assistance tonight. But the gift you give me of my children; well, the least I can do is help protect yours,” Sarn responded. “Both girls may come, if you wish.”
Tathiel called the children over, and explained to Tinánia and Eärundra what Sarn and Balwyn had offered them. Both girls were very hesitant at the thought of being separated from Tathiel, yet Tinánia’s fear at returning to Hazad’s was palpable. Tathiel assured them she would be coming to check on Balwyn at least once every day, and that once they had figured out a way to keep Nurnan and Patel away, she would bring them home. She also told them that Sarn would help them get word home, if possible. At this their eyes brightened, and their willingness to stay at Sarn’s house increased.
A bed was made up on the floor of Balwyn’s room, that Tinánia might help her in the night if needed. This freed Balwyn’s mother to return home to her other children, and Sarn willingly slept on the floor of their living quarters. Balwyn helped ensure that Tinánia had plenty to do that night, changing swaddling and helping her move about, that when she finally laid herself down on the bed she drifted fast asleep.
Hazad was less than pleased with the decisions that had been made in his absence, and already he was planning on how he might charge the storekeeper for Tinánia’s help. But, he could hardly argue with the decision, as it had been his idea, after all.
Tathiel slept well that night, with hope.
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.