Gold

This is from Haleth's PoV. Italics are flashbacks. Haleth/Caranthir is not canon, but it's fanon, if you like. :) <br /> <br /> ***<br /> <br /> <br /> He arrives when the leaves begin to fall. She has expected him, and makes him welcome. The encampment of her people is crude compared to his, she knows, but he makes no complaint, and does not even cast a glance at the low unlovely houses. She wonders how he can seem so at ease in her land, while she is so nervous in his.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> &lt;i&gt;He first came with the sunrise, after a long night's battle in which both her father and her brother fell. She was seized with a bizarre surge of hope when she saw the grey banner adorned with a star flapping in the gold dawn, knowing that they would survive. The Noldor were dire warriors, and the Orcs-- what remained of them-- fled.<br /> <br /> The lord of the Elf-host was tall and dark, and rode up to her on a dark horse. He looked her up and down appraisingly. She met his gaze unswervingly. He dismounted, removed his helm. &quot;I grieve with you,&quot; he said in his clear flawless speech, the speech of his own people, which she understood but little. &quot;I thank you,&quot; she replied in her own language, and saw a flash of approval in him. <br /> <br /> He offered her lands in his territories. She declined. She was proud, and would not accept such a gift. &quot;I will go east,&quot; she told him, &quot;and we will make our own way.&quot; Again, that grudging admiration. <br /> <br /> &quot;May I visit?&quot; He spoke her tongue now, and she answered in the same. <br /> <br /> &quot;In the autumn, when the harvest comes,&quot; she said, wondering why he woulkd ever come to seek her. <br /> <br /> He bowed, strangely deferential. &quot;Until we meet again, lady of the Haladin.&quot;&lt;/i&gt; <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> They go traveling through the woods, sometimes for weeks. They do not ride, for the undergrowth is too thick. She enjoys walking in the thick forest, her lithe form darting where he cannot easily go, scoffing at his muttered imprecations as he bangs his head against overhanging branches. She catches herself halfway, wondering when she became so familiar with this imposing lord to poke fun at him. But then, he does not look like a ruler. He is earnest, almost boyish, quick to smile as she had never seen him do in Thargelion. <br /> <br /> She hunts, and at night they sit around the campfire and speak of many things. She sees him scanning their surroundings minutely. &quot;What are you doing?&quot; she asks him. <br /> <br /> &quot;Looking for gold,&quot; he replies absently, and she laughs, pelting him with the now-stale bread they brought and teasing him over the strange fascination his kin have with metals and gems. It is only when the fire has died, and she is half asleep in her cloak, that she realizes it is the first time she has laughed since before that night of battle. <br /> <br /> <br /> <br />&lt;i&gt;&quot;You did well to come,&quot; the messenger said. He was tall and silver-haired-- a man of some importance among the elves of this woodland kingdom, or so she was given to understand. He too spoke his own language to her, but she had long despaired that any of these people should know the her speech. &quot;I do not doubt that, had you stayed, the haughty son of FĂ«anor would have used your people relentlessly in battle, and every one of you would have perished ere his folk shed a drop of blood. But my king, Thingol, grants you this land upon the condition that you let no enemy pass it.&quot; <br /> <br /> Is there such a difference? she wanted to ask, feeling the hot anger surge in her. Had he not, in one breath, insulted her judgment, her morality, and the prowess of her people? She thrust the point of her spear deep into the earth. <br /> <br /> &quot;You may say to your king,&quot; she said, her voice taut and dangerous, &quot;Where are Haldad my father, and Haldar my brother? If the King of Doriath fears a friendship between Haleth and those who have devoured her kin, then the thoughts of the Eldar are strange to Men.&quot; <br /> <br /> For some reason, as she strode away, she thought of the lord of Thargelion. &lt;/i&gt;<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> They emerge from the woods of Brethil on the thirty-second day. In the flat, open country, his long legs have the advantage, but he does not slow his pace for her, and for that she is grateful. He scans the land and takes the lead as they travel day after day to nowhere in particular-- still searching for precious metals, perhaps?-- and they journey for the most part in silence. She is glad of this, for she knows that if she were to speak now, she would say too much. <br /> <br /> Four days after, they stop at the feet of some hills. It is his turn to light the fire, but he does not. Instead, he comes up to her, silhouetted in the dim light of an early winter evening. She stands, half-alarmed, her hands still bloody from the rabbit she has been skinning. His expression is intense, serious, almost nervous. <br /> <br /> He presses a wooden ring into her hand, which glows palely golden in the sunset. &quot;I found no gold,&quot; he says simply. <br /> <br /> <br /> ***<br /> <br /> Notes:<br /> <br /> The silver-haired lord is Celeborn. Haleth's words to him are taken directly from the Quenta Silmarillion.<br /> <br /> <br /> On gold and Elven marriages: <br /> <br /> &quot;In due time the betrothal was announced at a meeting of the two houses concerned, and the betrothed gave silver rings one to another... [at the marriage ceremony] The betrothed then received back one from the other their silver rings (and treasured them); but they gave in exchange slender rings of gold, which were worn upon the index of the right hand. &quot; From Laws and Customs of the Eldar by JRR Tolkien<br /> <br /> Caranthir's doings don't seem to comply very closely with this, but hey, he's a Feanorian. :P And this plot-bunny was too good to miss.<br />
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