Bend in the Wind - Ch2: Festering Wound

Disclaimer: see chapter one
Names/Pronunciations will come at the end of each chapter.
`*' signals a footnote
"text" signals dialogue
`text' signals thoughts

A/N: A word on Elvish: `ch' is pronounced in a German fashion (kind of like a throaty `h') not in English fashion (as in "church").

Chapter 2.) Festering Wound

will somebody tell me why people let go.
- e. e. cummings

June 17, 12 Fourth Age

Nessúlë gripped her sides and leaned back precariously in her seat, overcome with laughter. She had just witnessed a glorious war of words between her brother, Lantél, and his new wife, Vírtuima, and to her surprise Vírtuima had won. It was not often that the petite maiden showed the mettle of her spirit, but when she did it was always a highly amusing spectacle. Though it did seem as if Lantél was not quite as amused as the she-folk. He sat rigidly at the head of the simple table, a look of confused disbelief on his fair features.

"I suppose I led myself into that trap," he finally murmured sulkily, placing his knife and fork down beside the half-cleared plate in front of him and folding his hands.

Vírtuima smiled meekly, already stepping down from her place of supremacy, leaning over to give Lantél a consolatory kiss on the cheek. "Yes, I am afraid that you did, my husband."

A silly grin spread across Lantél's cheek as the feather-light brush of his wife's lips
passed across his skin. Without warning he unlaced his fingers and snaked both arms around Vírtuima's waist, pulling her onto his lap. "And what prize will you claim for such a stout victory?" he whispered suggestively into her ear.

Nessúlë rolled her eyes, quite recovered from her fit of mirth and wondering whether the two Elves before her had once again forgotten entirely about her presence. She sometimes made a game of it, to see how long it would take them to realize that there was another person yet in the room, but one could only be entertained by such games for so long. With resigned affection and a short sigh Nessúlë went back to eating the lovely pheasant that Vírtuima had prepared, trying politely to not hear all the silly whispered endearments and soft kisses that were being passed several feet away from her.

"You are mine."

Nessúlë jumped slightly as she heard the soft words flowing from her brother's lips. It would take her some time to grow used to hearing Lantél speak them to his new wife, for he had been wont to bandy the same phrase back and forth with her. She clearly remembered comforting him when he was a very small elfling, still prone to night-terrors: "Don't fret about the monsters, gwador {brother}. They all know that you are mine and won't think of stealing you away." As they had grown, Lantél had adopted the phrase as well, and it became the most common endearment between the two siblings. It had been a great comfort when their family had sailed into the West to know that they would always belong to each other.

`But now he belongs to someone else,' Nessúlë thought while smiling wryly to herself. `And I am happy for him, I truly am.' She took a thoughtful bite of boiled turnip and chewed it slowly. `He has simply found a new joy to go alongside the old one.' She looked down at her plate, on which the remnants of her meal lay cooling. "And now I must find another as well," the words came out of her mouth without much thought, "for I am suddenly reminded of how much more the world has to give."

"Mangaro pennenich, thél {What did you say, sister?}"

Nessúlë started at the unexpected question. With chagrin she realized that she must have spoken aloud.

"Nothing." She shook her head and stood up from the table. "I did not mean to speak aloud. I was puzzling something over in my mind, that is all. I must leave you now for my watch begins shortly." Setting down her napkin and placing one hand over her heart she gave a small bow. "Thank you for the lovely meal, Vírtuima."


Nessúlë paused on the small aerial bridge as she spied a group of determined looking Elves speaking together in the Council Circle of the Great Hall. It looked as though they were gesticulating over a map or some other such document on the table between them. She could clearly see Haldir's profile as he leaned over and pointed to something. Smiling ruefully, she shook her head.

The former Marchwarden was truly a worthy Elf. Nessúlë knew that he would have much rather been with his men on patrol than captive in the city, but the warrior was always willing to be of service to his people. Since Celeborn had grown weary of rule and left to dwell with his grandchildren, a counsel of six Elves had been appointed to oversee the ruling of East Lorien. Haldir was one of them.

A shadow of regret fell down upon Nessúlë as she thought about the events that had brought them to this new situation. In some ways there had been a blossoming of joy and new hope in the Elven kingdoms, but in others there had been a deepening of sadness and longing. There were many Elves who still resided in Greenwood and continued to build and create and thrive. But the work became increasingly harder as more and more of their kindred departed in weariness.

For Nessúlë, there was an acute bitterness in knowing what had become of Caras Galadhon, her brief though beloved home. Before the shadow was lifted from Middle Earth, while she had been away on her journey, Lothlórien had experienced three assaults issuing from Dol Guldor which reeked a sobering damage on the borders of that wood. The interior had remained untainted, but when Celeborn, the Lord and heart of Lórien, had departed, many lost the will to remain. She knew that now there were only a pitiful amount of the Firstborn who still resided in the Golden Wood, and even now their strength and their joy waned.

She and her brother had escaped the decline of Lothlórien, having come to East Lórien to help build the settlement there. In the newly awaked green wood, life still seemed to pulse with a tender hope, and contentment was found for many within the aged trees.

Shaking herself from her reverie, Nessúlë began to make her way once more along the intricate walkways of the settlement. Evil had declined much of late and there was little real danger to the city, but warriors of the Homeguard still stood watch over their kindred, with eyes keen and ears sharp. On this particular afternoon, Nessúlë was to be posted at the base of the ancient tree which housed the Great Hall.

Descending from the trees, Nessúlë walked across the soft mossy ground of the Gathering Circle. Aside from the Great Hall, the city of East Lórien did not house any great structures, and so the wide clearing before the feet of the Hall served as the place of congregation and merriment. On the northern side of the Circle stood the guard post, where two Elves, robed in gray and white, stood somewhat casually.

"You are late," the Elf on the left chided Nessúlë good-naturedly.

"Aye, I am afraid that it is hard to draw away from Vírtuima's culinary delights," Nessúlë replied with a smile. Pleasant bantering always drew her mind away from more sober thoughts and she was quite ready to be merry again. "But I know you, Melcará, and I daresay that you were late in coming this morning as well. Indeed, you almost always are, so you cannot rebuke me."

The Elf smiled cheekily. "Perhaps I was. But wouldn't you agree that a good meal is not nearly so captivating as a new bride? Is not my excuse better?"

"A new bride?" Nessúlë questioned, baffled by his insinuation.

The other guard who had remained silent finally spoke up. "It's hard to believe, isn't it? After ten years he's finally worked up the courage to ask that pretty little elleth of his to marry him."

Nessúlë was speechless for a few moments. "But... but so quickly? How did none of us catch wind of this new development?"

Melcará chuckled as he stepped away from his post, unpinning his white cloak. Nessúlë wordlessly filled his place while waiting for the answer to her question.

"I asked her yesterday afternoon," Melcará finally responded. "We were married before her parents yesterday evening. I have already spoken with the Firstguard to arrange for a leave of absence, but I still had to fulfill my duties this morning... though I was somewhat late in attending to them."

With a dazed expression, Nessúlë watched Melcará saunter off. "I didn't think he would marry for many more years," she finally murmured in disbelief.

Her fellow guard grimaced comically. "I am just glad that I was not posted with him this morning. It was tedious enough having to entertain his bubbling happiness for these past few minutes.

Nessúlë finally relaxed enough to chuckle. "Yes, it is most fortunate."

A comfortable silence settled between the two guards as they took in the calm beauty around them and tried not to relax too much. In the quiet, Nessúlë began to slip back into solemn reflection.

If Melcará was indeed in earnest, that would make for the sixth binding ceremony in East Lórien since its founding. A rather high number considering the current population. The Elves were few, and most of them either had mates or had been bereaved of them. True, there had been some mixing with the Elves from Thranduil's kingdom. But still, it seemed like an inordinate amount of romance was in the air.

Nessúlë shook her head and tried not to think about it. She had never been a fawning maiden, prone to foreplay and coquetry, and had always had a very sensible view of courtship. Having realized early on that the Elven population was waning, Nessúlë had resigned herself quite willingly to the fact that she would probably remain unbound until passing across the sea.

This fact did not disturb her. Or, more accurately, it had not disturbed her till now. Knowing firsthand the felicity that her brother had found made her spirit somewhat restless. She was beginning to feel that there was more to be had from life than standing guard, tending her small home, and meeting with friends on occasion. Something in her longed for more. And this is why she looked beyond the borders of the wood. Perhaps in deeds of errantry and adventure she could find her heart's peace.

She nodded absently to herself. Yes, that did seem to be the best solution. What a grand experience: to see more of this wide country that would soon be lost to all of the Eldar. It would be an outlet for her unsettled spirit, and a stimulating journey.


When Bainsúl landed unceremoniously on her shoulder, Nessúlë had to use every reserve of self-control in order to keep from crying out. She chided herself inwardly for being so unaware of her surroundings.

Gently, she took Bainsúl onto her right hand and slid her finger into the leather pouch lying against his belly. With satisfaction she pulled out a letter and confirmed that it was not her own note returning to her. "Hannon chin, Bainsúl, mae carannen. Carantech flae na tôghansí, penneth {Thank you, Fairwind, well done. But you did ill to bring it here, young one.}" She stroked his fingers affectionately. "I am on watch, I cannot attend to you or the letter now."

With much greater ease than Elrohir, Nessúlë sent the bird away, and tucked the letter within a fold of her uniform. A smile crept lazily across her face. She always liked having something to look forward to at the end of her watch.


June 14, 12 FA (three days earlier)

Elrohir looked at the clean parchment on his desk with a wary eye. He had been grappling with his emotions the entire day and he still could not reach a resolution. Nessúlë's wrinkled letter lay mockingly next to the parchment, as if daring him to reply. He narrowed his eyes and gripped the smoothly carven arms of his chair tightly.

"So that is why you are so distracted."

The feminine voice came from behind Elrohir's right shoulder. Sighing, he turned to his sister-in-law and cocked his head to one side. "You have found me out, lady."

With a sympathetic smile, Oloriel reach out to pick up the worn letter. "Did it arrive in this condition, or is this your doing?" she asked him playfully.

Elrohir rubbed his face and leaned back in the chair. "My doing, I am afraid."

She observed him curiously. "Did it contain unsettling news? She's not to be married, is she?"

The Elf stiffened visibly, and Oloriel winced at her own lack of tact. "I am sorry. That was ill spoken."

Elrohir's face softened after a few moments. "No, do not fret on my account. And no, there was no particular news of any sort. It was merely... a friendly letter."

"Do you mind?" Oloriel held up the letter to indicate her intention. Elrohir nodded slowly, and with this permission, Oloriel began to read. After she had finished perusing it, she placed it back on the desk.


Elrohir looked at her blankly. "What are you inquiring after?"

Oloriel sighed in an exasperated manner and placed her hands over her swollen abdomen. This gesture brought Elrohir's eyes to her rounding form and his face softened considerably.

"Are you going to write to her?"

Elrohir did not answer Oloriel. Instead, he moved the new mother's hands away from her stomach and placed his own there, reaching out with his mind, calling to the young Elfling. He smiled when he began to sense a faint echo of the budding consciousness. After a few moments the tension in his mind began to ebb away, as he sat in quiet with his sister and this brand new life.

Several minutes of silence passed before Elrohir finally drew his hands away. "I do not know," he finally replied to Oloriel's question. "I am divided in mind and heart."

Oloriel smiled softly as she leaned down to kiss his forehead. "But Elrohir, you have never been divided in heart. Your heart has always been certain of its desire."

Elrohir chuckled. "Perhaps you are right. But the fact still remains that my mind is truly divided. The thought of renewing my friendship with Nessúlë is both a wonderful prospect and a terribly horrifying one. I am worn enough by the dull ache in my heart - I have no wish to disturb the wound."

Oloriel rested her hand against Elrohir's hair and mussed it up a bit. "But sometimes the wound must be disturbed, so that it can be cleansed. An infected wound cannot heal, you know this well. You never did tell her of your love for her, did you? Does not this pierce your heart with regret? Will not the missed opportunity haunt your steps for centuries to come?" She leaned close and whispered softly in Elrohir's ear. "Perhaps I am presumptuous, but it appears to me as though you suffer from infection."

"I never wanted to hurt her," Elrohir murmured, his throat suddenly dry. "She was not made for a match, and I never wanted to burden her with the weight of guilt for my suffering. It is best that she does not know."

Oloriel furrowed her brows. "But is it best to be false? I believe that I know Nessúlë quite well. She values honesty and would not shrink from a burden if it meant helping a friend. You underestimate her, make her out to be simpler than she is. No one can be summed up in a few poetic lines, despite how romantically tragic it would be."

With a pat on the shoulder, Oloriel walked slowly, though not ungracefully, from the room, a hand spread out across her belly. Elrohir watched her go with a bemused expression. Oloriel was right - his heart was unified in its desire. She was also very logical, and his mind couldn't come up with many objections to her reasoning. With set features he picked up his quill and looked determinedly at the crumpled paper containing Nessúlë elegant scrawl.

`It is only a letter,' he reminded himself, `A letter that fell from the sky.'

A wistful look crossed his face. Perhaps it was a sign. What it meant he did not know, but it had been sent to him and he was becoming more and more determined to see where it led.

With tense muscles he placed a clean sheet of parchment in front of him. He paused. How should he greet her? His quill hovered over the page for several moments in indecision. He groaned aloud.

"This is a pretty way to start," he muttered sourly.

As he spoke Bainsúl, who had a habit for dropping in unannounced, flew through the open window and landed on his desk. The hawk eyed him impatiently.

Elrohir chuckled. "Yes, yes, I will have the letter for you in the morning, penalag {impetuous one}."

With the hawk watching his every move, Elrohir took up the quill and simply began to write. He decided to use a bantering tone and hope for the best:

June 14, 12 Fourth Age

suilad na chin, tithennaug {greetings to you, little dwarf},

I know that, were I beside you, I would be in grave danger for reviving that pet name, but I found the temptation too much for me, especially when I am writing from such a safe distance. When you spoke of travelling I could not help but think of when I first learned of your brother's name for you, and how he regaled me with stories of your childhood escapades while we journeyed* to Lothlórien. It made me wish that I had known you then...


1. See chapter 21 of "To Dream" for the story of Nessúlë's dwarf-like qualities. = )

Things to Know:

Vítuima (veer-TOO-im-ah): "rose bud"
Melcará (MEL-cah-ra): "strong/mighty arm"
Bainsúl: "fair wind"

man-garo pedo-ch, thél: "What-have spoken-you, sister?"

hannon chin, Bainsúl, mae carannen. Carant-ech flae na tôg-han-sí, pen-neth: "Thank you, Fairwind, well done. Did-you ill to bring-it-here, one(someone)-young."

pen-alag: "one(someone)-impetuous"

suilad na chin, tithen-naug: "greetings to you, little-dwarf"

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