Flowers of Nimloth - Chapter 17

Chapter 1:
Chapter 2:
Chapter 3:
Chapter 4:
Chapter 5:
Chapter 6:
Chapter 7:
Chapter 8:
Chapter 9:
Chapter 10:
Chapter 11:
Chapter 12:
Chapter 13:
Chapter 14:
Chapter 15:
Chapter 16:

Chapter 17: Scion of Nimloth

The next day was a very long day for the young healer. Late in the afternoon, Vorime and her apprentice had to rush to the shipyards when a large beam fell and crushed a man's leg. They spent several hours carefully bandaging his leg and giving his family instructions for his care. Vorime was unsure whether the man would ever be able to walk again without a cane; it would likely be a few weeks until they would be able to tell. The news obviously saddened the man's family, and his wife feared that she would be caring for an invalid husband for many years. That incident combined with her patients’ continued talk of Sauron’s human sacrifice did nothing to brighten to her mood.

After the healers left the shipyards there were still a few patients to attend to. Thus it was long after sunset when Lienilde arrived at Elendil's home, tired from her long hours of work and saddened by the afternoon's events. At least the wind no longer bore the chill of winter; the coolness of early spring was now in the air and her cloak kept her plenty warm during the walk.

Lienilde was deep in her thoughts when she knocked on Elendil's door, and consequently it took her a moment to recognize the young man that answered her call. "Isildur!" she suddenly gasped, "What -- what are you doing out of bed?" Sure enough, her bedridden patient of four months stood tall and strong in the doorway, as if he had never been ill. A smile lit up his face, and Lienilde realized that he had been smiling ever since he first opened the door.

"I am healed, Lienilde," he answered. Before he could explain further, Lienilde interrupted.

"But how? What has happened? You cannot lie ill for four months and suddenly rise and be well!"

"Oh, but I have!" Isildur replied, the smile not leaving his face. "I think it would be easiest if I simply showed you something, rather than try to explain. You can leave your healer's bag here; you will not need it."

Lienilde obediently placed her bag just inside the door, too shocked to say anything else. Glancing inside the house, she saw Amandil, Elendil, and Anarion seated at the kitchen table, all sharing a smile as if they knew what Isildur was about to show her. Yet they said nothing, and Lienilde knew that she would have to receive the answers to her questions from Isildur himself.

"Follow me," Isildur said, and led her to the out buildings behind the house. They said nothing as they walked, and Lienilde was too dazed to ask any more questions. She simply walked beside him, occasionally glancing up at him, though he was determined in his step and did not return her glances. It suddenly struck her how tall Isildur was; she had never noticed his height since she had never even seen him stand before. Though it should not have surprised her, for the rest of his family was tall as well. His father was known as Elendil the Tall for good reason.

Lienilde's thoughts soon returned to the task at hand as Isildur opened the door to the shed where Amandil and Elendil had planted the seed of Nimloth. That day seemed so long ago, and she suddenly realized that she had not come to the shed since the fruit was planted.

They silently entered the tiny building and Isildur shut the door behind them. Lienilde's eyes immediately went to the dirt at their feet. Though it was dark, there was enough moonlight for her to see a seedling tree growing in the center of the shed. Nimloth's fruit had already sprouted. Small white branches rose from the dirt, no longer than the width of a man's palm, and a single silver leaf rested on the highest branch, shining in the moonlight. Several tiny buds bore a promise of more leaves to come.

"The leaf first opened this morning," Isildur said softly. She glanced up to see that his smile had been replaced with a more reverent look. She felt a sense of awe in his voice, and of gratitude. "When I awoke this morning, the pain was gone, and my fever had left me. Indeed, look--" Lienilde turned as he pulled up his shirt to reveal one of his wounds. The open sore had closed and faded, leaving behind only a tiny scar. "They all look like that."

"Eru has heard our prayers," she replied, finally understanding what had happened. "Your deed was not without reward, then."

"Yes," Isildur replied, then fell silent. They both sensed that no more words were necessary, for each knew the other's thoughts. Lienilde turned, her gaze returning to Nimloth's seedling. Isildur stepped closer, and then gently put his arm around her shoulder.

Lienilde nearly trembled at his touch and she could not stop a smile from forming on her face. There was something surreal about this moment, standing in the moonlight with her miraculously healed patient. No, not a patient -- he was much more than that to her now. He was a heroic man who had risked his life to avert Nimloth's fate, and perhaps even more importantly, he was her friend.

After a moment, though, Lienilde suddenly began to consider what would happen next. She would no longer need to visit him, and though she was thrilled that he had recovered, the thought of not seeing him every day saddened her. She wanted to tell Isildur how she felt, but was not sure how, nor was she sure if he shared her feelings. With a sigh, she said, "I suppose you will not be needing my services any longer."

Isildur glanced down at her, reading her thoughts; for indeed, his thoughts were much the same. He had anxiously awaited her arrival all evening so that he could show her Nimloth's seedling, and while he was happy she was here, he too wondered what the future would hold. However, unlike Lienilde, he had already been pondering such questions all day.

"No," Isildur replied. "I suppose not. However, I thank you greatly for your care these last few months, and -- well, I would be pleased if you occasionally stopped by to visit. You have been a good friend, Lienilde."

Lienilde's face lit up at his words. "Thank you," she replied, finally turning to face him, "I will look forward to seeing you again."

Isildur, his arm still around Lienilde's shoulders, then drew her to him in an embrace. Lienilde was slightly startled but soon relaxed in his arms, and even wrapped her arms lightly around his waist, then gradually held him tighter. All the thoughts that had troubled her earlier that day, and indeed for the past week, vanished as she just focused on Isildur’s warm arms around her, and the rise and fall of his chest as she leaned her head against him.

After a short moment, Isildur released her. "It is late," said he. "Your parents are probably wondering where you are."

"Of course," Lienilde replied, the magic of the moment fading as she realized he was right. She did not want to leave but knew she must. It was a rare occurrence that Vorime would keep her out so late and her parents were surely expecting her home by now. "I should be leaving, just let me fetch my bag--"

"Wait," Isildur interrupted, then nervously smiled, embarrassed that he had cut her off. "That is, may I walk you home? A lovely young woman such as yourself should not be out alone so late at night."

Lienilde felt her face flush slightly at his flattery. Though she knew he was being polite, for she had walked home alone every night after she treated him without protest -- or was it more than simply politeness? She suspected it was. "That would be wonderful," she replied with a smile.

They walked back to the house in silence, though it was such a short distance that the silence did not feel awkward. When they arrived at the house, Isildur stepped inside to fetch Lienilde's bag and to inform his family of his intentions, and they turned to leave.

"You need not carry my bag," Lienilde spoke up after a moment, when she realized that Isildur had no plans to return her healer's supplies.

"Nonsense, I will keep it," Isildur said. Lienilde simply smiled in reply. She had never seen Isildur so cheerful or so, so charming, was the first word that came to her mind, especially considering how depressed he had been as of late. She was still rather flabbergasted and not quite sure how to react.

"What kept you today?" Isildur finally spoke, breaking the short silence. "You were rather late coming to my home; I was beginning to wonder if you would come at all."

"Of course I would come!" Lienilde defended herself, though the tone of his voice told her that he had never seriously doubted her arrival. "There was an accident at the shipyards this afternoon which delayed me." She said no more, not wanting to ruin the happy evening with such tales.

Isildur sensed her thoughts, for he had seen her act this way during some of her visits. Sometimes she did not wish to discuss such depressing cases and simply remained silent; on other days she opened up to him and vented her frustrations, seemingly forgetting that he was a patient himself. Isildur was always happy to oblige, though, for he knew that she had few friends outside of her family, and sometimes a girl just needed to talk to someone besides her mother.

"Say no more, if you wish," he replied. "I daresay that I do not know how you have the strength to endure such a profession. Ship building and mariner work seem simple in comparison."

"Thank you. It is hard some days, I will admit, but the rewards make it all worthwhile." Lienilde was referring to all of her healed patients when she used the word "rewards," but the expression on Isildur's face told her that he had taken it more personally. She did not correct him, though, for he truly was one of her greatest rewards, even if it was Eru who had cured him and not her own care. She was simply glad that he was well.

They walked again for a while in silence. Lienilde marveled that these silences did not seem awkward to her; with any other person they would have. Perhaps it was because they had already spent so much time in silence over the past few months, for they did not always talk much during her visits. They had simply grown comfortable with each other.

"It has been long since I have walked by the light of the stars and the moon, and breathed the air from the sea," Isildur finally said.

"Yes, I am sure it is, though I am afraid that I have taken such things for granted," Lienilde stammered. She did not know what else to say; she certainly could not relate to him being bedridden for so long.

"There is nothing wrong with that; it simply means that you are finding joy in other areas of your life."

"Perhaps," Lienilde replied, and then glanced at her escort. Their eyes met for a brief moment, and they exchanged a smile. Just then, however, Isildur stumbled, and Lienilde instinctively grabbed his arm before he fell completely. He gently fell to his knees and dropped her bag.

"Are you all right?" she asked, leaning over him, her hand still on his arm.

"I am fine," he replied, immediately standing up. Lienilde released his arm as Isildur brushed the dirt from his knees.

Seeing that he was not hurt, she could not help but giggle. "Perhaps we should keep our eyes on the path," she said.

"Perhaps," Isildur repeated, tugging up his pants, "or maybe I should see a tailor about these trousers. I must say, it is rather hard to keep one's physique when confined to bed for a whole season." Lienilde then noticed how loose his clothes were, and realized that he must have tripped on his own pant leg. He had lost a lot of weight recently, and even his baggy clothes could not hide it.

"I suppose it is," she replied, "though I am certain that you will gain your weight back soon. You are certainly healthy enough now."

"Yes, I hope so," he answered, picking up her bag.

"However, I would prefer it if you would let me carry the bag -- I do hope that you have not already broken anything in your little stunt just now."

It was now Isildur's turn to laugh. "I suppose you are right. In any case, I do not feel like arguing anymore about who will carry it." With that, Isildur relinquished the bag to the smiling girl.

They walked a few more steps, keeping their eyes focused ahead this time, when suddenly Lienilde began to giggle again.

"What is it?" Isildur asked.

"I was just thinking, on our last visit you promised me a story when you next saw me--"

"Ai, so I did -- though I am afraid to say I was too distracted today to come up with one!"

"That is all right," she continued after his interruption, "because I was just thinking that this night is better than any story -- and will be a story to remember in itself!" They flashed each other a smile again, or perhaps the smiles had just not left their faces that evening. Lienilde then said, "We are almost there; my house is just up this hill."

Isildur stopped walking and she turned to face him, wondering what had given him pause. "Perhaps I will fare you well here, then," he said. "I am sure your mother already has supper on the table, and I would hate to intrude."

"You would not intrude!" Lienilde exclaimed. "Why, they would love to meet you!"

"Nonetheless, I would prefer to save my introduction for a time that is not so late. Good night, Lienilde, and maybe I will see you again soon."

There was no sense in arguing any more, for Lienilde did not want to end the night on a sour note. "Good night then, and thank you for the escort home."

"It was my pleasure." Isildur nodded, then turned and walked away, leaving Lienilde to walk to the last few steps to her home alone. She was slightly annoyed that he would not come in and meet her family, but that annoyance soon passed. A lot had happened that day, and perhaps Isildur was simply too tired -- from Lienilde's stories, he surely realized that Melde would try to make him stay for supper and talk to him all through the night. Or maybe he really was being polite and did not want to interrupt their meal. In either case, Lienilde certainly could not stay angry with him for long.

With these thoughts, Lienilde entered her house with a smile on her face. She found her parents and younger brother seated at the kitchen table waiting for her arrival, while supper stayed warm over the fire.

"Lienilde!" her mother exclaimed, jumping to her feet. "Where you have you been? Come here and have some supper before it is time for bed." Melde then turned and started serving the meal, not waiting for an answer from her daughter.

Failon noticed his sister's smile and before she could say anything, he added, "You look rather cheerful tonight." She knew that it was a question, not a statement.

"Well, yes, yes I am," Lienilde replied, deciding that now was as good of a time as any to tell them, "because Isildur has been healed."

"Healed?" Mandil asked. "Do you mean, he is getting better?"

"No," Lienilde answered, "he is better. Eru has healed him. It is as if he was never ill."

"Really?" Failon asked, clearly intrigued by the story.

Lienilde's news was enough to make Melde pause her work in the kitchen and turn toward her daughter.

"Why do you suppose he was healed now?" Melde asked, "rather than soon after he was injured? Are you sure it is Eru’s doing and not the result of your months of care for him?"

"I am certain," Lienilde replied. She was not surprised that her family was skeptical; she would be too if she had heard the story. "Yesterday was no different than any other day -- his fever remained and the pain of his wounds kept him in bed. But this morning, the first leaf of Nimloth's seedling opened, and his pain and fever left him. Even his wounds have disappeared; in fact, he even walked me home tonight."

"He did?" Melde asked, still taking in her daughter's news. "Why did you not invite him in? He could have stayed for dinner, I could have added another potato to the pot and--"

"I did invite him," Lienilde interrupted her mother's chatter. "But he was too polite and did not want to disrupt our meal."

"Nonsense!" Melde replied. "Tell him that next time, I will be more upset if he does not come in!" With that, Melde finished serving the meal, and after a while the topic of conversation turned to other things. It was not until later that night that Lienilde realized her mother had spoken as if she was sure that Isildur would be visiting their home again, even though Lienilde had not mentioned their plans to continue seeing each other.


"Then the fruit was planted in secret, and it was blessed by Amandil; and a shoot arose from it and sprouted in the spring. But when its first leaf opened then Isildur, who had lain long and come near death, arose and was troubled no more by his wounds."

-The Akallabeth, from The Silmarillion



Lienilde: "People-loving", a twenty-six-year-old healer’s apprentice.
Vorime: "Faithful" or "Steadfast", healer and Lienilde’s master.
Ardil: "Noble Friend", Lienilde’s thirty-three-year-old brother.
Failon: "Generous, Just", Lienilde’s thirteen-year-old brother.
Melde: "Beloved", Lienilde’s mother.
Mandil: "Good Friend", Lienilde’s father.
Inzil: Adunaic for "Flower", Ardil’s wife.
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