Flowers of Nimloth - Chapter 6

Chapter 1:<br />Chatper 2:<br />Chapter 3:<br />Chapter 4:<br />Chapter 5:<br /><br />Chapter 6: Awakening<br /><br />The next morning found Lienilde in much the same position that her brother was in the previous day -- standing in the center of the front room, while the seamstresses busied themselves with pinning the golden trim onto her dress. Lienilde stood silently as the two seamstresses and her mother discussed the modifications to her dress:<br /><br />&quot;Perhaps we should add some additional trim to the ends of the sleeves?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Oh, I&#8217;m not sure if that is necessary. What if we let out the sleeves a little more, to make them wider?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;That is a possibility. Now what do you think of the neckline? I pinned it here and here, and I think it fits her a little better now.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Ah yes, much better. Lienilde, what do you wish to do with the sleeves?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Excuse me?&quot; Lienilde had heard her name, but suddenly realized that she had no idea of what had been said previously. Her thoughts had been drifting back toward Isildur all morning. She wondered if he had awoken again, and how his family was faring. She recalled Anarion&#8217;s close attachment to his brother, and hoped that he might be able to see Isildur awake.<br /><br />&quot;What would you like us to do with the sleeves?&quot; the seamstress asked, kneeling on the floor and examining the fabric that draped from Lienilde&#8217;s arm. &quot;We could add some additional trim along the edge, and we could also let them out a little more.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Whatever you think is best,&quot; Lienilde replied. At the moment, she cared little about her dress.<br /><br />&quot;Oh, all right then,&quot; the seamstress said, surprised that the girl had no opinion on her own dress.<br /><br />Lienilde&#8217;s gaze then dropped to the floor as she returned to her reverie. Melde stood nearby, studying her daughter. She worried about her change in disposition lately, and decided that if her daughter did not open up to her soon she may have to question her after all. Or perhaps, she thought, she could visit Vorime herself and see what had troubled her daughter so.<br /><br />****<br /><br />After a quick lunch with her mother and brother (for Ardil and Mandil were at the smithy), Lienilde left to check on Isildur. As she walked to Elendil&#8217;s house, thoughts of the wedding quickly left her mind as she began to wonder how Isildur was doing. Had he awakened again? Had his fever gone down?<br /><br />As she walked along the busy city streets, catching glimpses of the ocean in between the houses and shops, she suddenly realized how ironic it was that her thoughts had so quickly turned to Isildur. Just the previous day, as she walked along this same path in the opposite direction she was eager to forget Isildur and focus on the wedding, but now she found it hard to concentrate on the wedding plans when the young man&#8217;s fate was still uncertain. Although in her mind, little uncertainty remained -- surely Eru would not let such a good deed go unrewarded, surely he would allow Isildur to keep his life! As she thought about it more, she was slightly surprised at her own optimism -- when she had left Elendil&#8217;s home the previous day, there had been few signs to indicate that Isildur was improving. Yet a spark of hope had flared in her heart while Amandil planted the fruit of Nimloth, and that spark had nearly grown into a flame since then. By the time Lienilde arrived at Elendil&#8217;s house, a smile had formed on her face as she once again envisioned Isildur&#8217;s dark grey eyes and strong jaw line.<br /><br />However, that smile quickly faded when Elendil opened the door for her. It was immediately evident that Elendil and Anarion did not share her hope, and the sorrow she had felt the previous day quickly rushed back to her. But this time she fought the sadness and tried to keep a little hope in her heart, for such sorrow surely would not help Isildur.<br /><br />&quot;Good morning,&quot; she greeted the men, a slight smile flashing across her face then disappearing just as quickly, though it did not go unnoticed by Anarion. Just as Lienilde could sense the two men&#8217;s despair, Anarion could sense her sudden cheerfulness. He wondered what could have caused her sudden change in disposition, and suspected it was her involvement in the wedding preparations -- surely all girls her age would enjoy the sewing, decorating, and cooking that comes with a wedding. But he had never had a sister or a close female friend, so he could only speculate about the opposite gender.<br /><br />&quot;Your timing is impeccable,&quot; Elendil replied. &quot;We were just going to leave for the shipyards in a few moments.&quot;<br /><br />Lienilde suddenly realized that the men had not visited the shipyards since Isildur came by his injuries. She wondered how they would explain their absence to their fellow shipbuilders, and more importantly, how they would explain Isildur&#8217;s continued absence. Yet she was also glad that they would be returning to their work; perhaps the sea would help lighten their hearts.<br /><br />As they walked toward the back of the house, Lienilde asked if Isildur had awakened again. &quot;No,&quot; Anarion answered. &quot;I spent most of the night with him, and while he did speak in his sleep he did not fully awake.&quot;<br /><br />Lienilde never replied, but did steal a glance at Anarion at his words. No wonder he is so depressed! she thought. She knew how hard it was to stay awake through the night with Isildur -- hard on both the heart and the body. She also suspected that Anarion had spent the night waiting for his brother to wake up, if just for a moment, and he must have been dismayed when that did not happen, for so far Lienilde was the only one who had seen him awake. She thought back to what she had overheard Anarion say to Isildur, of how he would have accompanied Isildur on his task and even died to protect him, and her heart broke for Anarion as she began to see the full extent of his pain. Surely this bond between the brothers was as strong as any love!<br /><br />When they arrived in Isildur&#8217;s room, Lienilde sat at the bedside and put a hand on the wounded man&#8217;s forehead, hoping for a change in his fever but finding none. With a sigh, she began to change his bandages, a task that she could nearly do in her sleep by now. If only he would wake up again! she thought to herself. How long can he continue in such a state, sleeping all day, never eating and hardly drinking? How can he find the strength to recover without nourishment?<br /><br />Almost as if he had read her thoughts, Isildur began to stir as Lienilde wrapped the last of the bandages. Startled, she took a step back and watched as Anarion cautiously approached the bed. &quot;Isildur?&quot; Anarion asked, kneeling so that his eyes were level with his brother&#8217;s face. His voice was hardly more than a whisper. &quot;Can you hear me?&quot;<br /><br />Lienilde suddenly began to feel embarrassed at overhearing Anarion&#8217;s display of emotion. She took another step back and glanced away, unconsciously wringing her hands and trying to decide whether there was anything that she needed to do here or if she should just leave. Her mind told her that she should not feel so uncomfortable, for Anarion knew she was standing beside him, but she was reminded of her eavesdropping earlier and her heart began to fill with guilt.<br /><br />Suddenly, another voice brought her away from her thoughts: a voice that she had only heard twice before, but could recognize without a moment&#8217;s hesitation. &quot;Yes, brother?&quot; It was Isildur. She snapped her head up to see Anarion catch his breath, not knowing what to say. Elendil immediately stepped forward to join his two sons, with a tear in his eye but also a spark that Lienilde had never before seen. She desperately wanted to leave the brother and father alone, yet somehow through all the emotions flooding her heart she remembered her responsibilities as a healer. She grabbed a cup of tea sitting on a nearby table and stood beside Elendil, unwilling to ruin the moment by speaking. Elendil knew her thoughts and took the cup from her hand, and when she looked up at him he gave her a quick smile. Confident that Isildur would be taken care of, she silently made her way to the door. As she shut the door behind her, she glanced back at the bed one more time, and her heart jumped to see Isildur&#8217;s eyes staring right into hers.<br /><br />****<br /><br />Lienilde shut the door to the bedroom and leaned her back against the wall. Her heart was still racing as she recalled all that she had seen and heard in just a moment&#8217;s time: Anarion and Elendil&#8217;s joy upon Isildur&#8217;s awakening; Isildur&#8217;s voice, weak from illness yet with an underlying strength; and finally his eyes, his grey eyes, piercing Lienilde as if he were trying to tell her something. No, that is silly! Lienilde thought. What could he want to tell me? He doesn&#8217;t even know me -- why, I doubt he even remembers my name since he was barely awake when I told him! Her heartbeat began to slow as she tried to rationalize away her emotions, though she could not deny that she had felt something unexplainable when Isildur looked at her. She tried to convince herself that she was overreacting, and had nearly succeeded when Isildur&#8217;s door opened several moments later.<br /><br />Elendil and Anarion stood beside her, no one speaking for a moment. &quot;He is resting now,&quot; Elendil finally spoke, handing Lienilde the cup of tea, now empty. &quot;Thank you.&quot; He said no more, and Lienilde knew he was thanking her not only for her care of Isildur, but also for allowing the two men some time alone with their son and brother. She realized that this time, as she stood outside the door she had not heard a word that was said while they were with Isildur, so caught up was she in her own thoughts. She nearly smiled as the guilt that had ridden her heart quickly left.<br /><br />&quot;Well,&quot; Lienilde began, hating to break the moment but not wanting to stand there forever, &quot;I suppose that is all I can do for now. Perhaps I can stop by again tomorrow evening?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;That would be fine,&quot; Elendil replied, and Lienilde made her way to the door. As she left the house, she could not help but notice the smile that now filled Anarion&#8217;s face and the peace evident in his eyes. She knew then that just like her, the young man had finally found hope.<br /><br />****<br /><br />As Lienilde walked home, her step was light and her heart full with an energy she had not felt for several days. The weather that day only served to lighten her heart even more -- the wind was cool but not cold, and the midday sun shone brightly and sparkled off the sea below. The harbor town was now fully awake, with children running outside to take advantage of these last beautiful days before the winter, and shopkeepers peddling their wares and chatting with their neighbors. Lienilde suddenly laughed out loud, ignoring the glances from a few of the nearby children -- it was if a weight was suddenly lifted from her heart, and all she wanted to do was dance in the sun all day long. On an impulse, she suddenly turned to her right and began walking, nearly skipping, down to the beach.<br /><br />The beach was empty that day, though the nearby harbor was already alive with life. Tossing her shoes aside, Lienilde began to dance and jump through the loose sand, though she never strayed too close to the waves, knowing that the water was cold this time of year. After a few moments her burst of energy wore off and she lay on her back in the sand, content to be still and absorb the warmth of the sun. As her breathing slowed to a more normal rate, she began to realize how silly she must have looked, prancing around in the sand like a child. But it had been such a release -- she had been so exhausted, mentally and physically, over the last few days that she just needed a moment to forget her troubles and play like a child. After all, it was not long ago that she was a child herself.<br /><br />She knew not how long she lay there, her thoughts everywhere and nowhere at the same time. She thought briefly about Isildur, and Anarion, and her brother&#8217;s wedding, but no thought stayed in her mind for any length of time. She was tired of thinking, tired of feeling, and so she just let her mind empty as she lay in the sun-warmed sand.<br /><br />After several long moments, a soft breeze began to blow across the sea. She felt a fine mist of sal!@#$er touch her face, and she reluctantly opened her eyes and sat up. A single white cloud floated across the sky while others loomed on the horizon, and as the cloud momentarily blocked the sun&#8217;s rays Lienilde realized that it was time for her to return home. She stood up and suddenly saw what a mess she was -- sand covered her feet, her skirts, and even her hair. As she made her way to the grass beside the beach to look for her shoes, she tried to brush off the sand but knew it was useless. Only a long bath would get all the dirt out of her hair. She wiped her feet off as best she could, then put on her shoes and began the long uphill hike towards home.<br /><br />****<br /><br />When she returned home, Lienilde was met with much the same flurry of activity as the day before; however, this time it was Ardil who was the center of the seamstresses&#8217; attention. &quot;You look very fine today!&quot; Lienilde told her brother as she entered the house. The groom wore a tunic and pants made of white and silver, in a much more finished condition than Lienilde and Failon&#8217;s half-sewn outfits. Ardil smiled in reply -- clearly he was enjoying the fitting, in contrast to his younger brother the day before.<br /><br />&quot;I do, don&#8217;t I?&quot; he replied, only half jokingly. Lienilde knew that her brother had never worn finer clothes, and the thought of dressing up for his love and marrying her in one day must have been exciting for him.<br /><br />&quot;Lienilde!&quot; Lienilde&#8217;s smile quickly faded when she heard her mother&#8217;s harsh screech in her ear -- she did not know how Melde managed to get so close to her without hearing her approach. &quot;You are filthy! I wanted you to try on your dress again, but you would simply soil it in the condition you are in! What have you been doing?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;I&#8217;m sorry, mother,&quot; Lienilde replied, unsure of what to say. She did not even know herself exactly what had possessed her to go running across the shore -- it was just a combination of her pent-up emotions and the powerful call of the sea. &quot;I, um, I took a little detour to the beach.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Well that much is evident,&quot; Melde replied, her voice softer and a smile appearing on her lips. When Melde had first seen Lienilde, she had forgotten about her daughter&#8217;s saddened disposition earlier that morning and was simply upset at her dirty skirts and hair, but now she sensed that whatever had been troubling Lienilde was gone. If it took a run across the beach to make her daughter happy, she would not complain. &quot;You can try on your dress tomorrow; the seamstresses will already be here to fit me. For now, how about if I draw you a bath.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;That would be lovely,&quot; Lienilde replied, giving her brother one last smile before retreating to her room to change clothes.<br /><br />****<br /><br />Notes:<br /><br />Lienilde: &quot;People-loving&quot;, a twenty-five-year-old healer&#8217;s apprentice.<br />Vorime: &quot;Faithful&quot; or &quot;Steadfast&quot;, healer and Lienilde&#8217;s master.<br />Ardil: &quot;Noble Friend&quot;, Lienilde&#8217;s thirty-three-year-old brother.<br />Failon: &quot;Generous, Just&quot;, Lienilde&#8217;s twelve-year-old brother.<br />Melde: &quot;Beloved&quot;, Lienilde&#8217;s mother.<br />Mandil: &quot;Good Friend&quot;, Lienilde&#8217;s father.<br />
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