Hands Clasped in the Darkness - A Story
This i based on the tale of Aegnor and Andreth from Athrabeth Finrod a Andreth (The Debate of Finrod and Andreth).
Author's note: This is my first story, so be honest, and if you don't like it I won't submit any more.
Andreth ran through the pasture, her dark brown hair streaming behind her in the wind. It gleamed in the sunlight, and her bare feet ran through the lush green grass. She loved the green rolling hills of Dorthonion, and she never wanted to leave them. She was the oldest child of Boromir, son of Boron, grandson of Bëor the Old, and she had dwelt with her uncle Belemir and aunt Adanel (sister of Hador Lórindol) in the hills of Dorthonion since she was very young. Her wisdom had grown with her years, for although she was only 26, she was very wise, yet carefree and joyous, and she found happiness and joy in the smallest wonders of the world, especially in her new nephew, Bregolas, son of Bregor her brother.
But today the hills were silent, and all that could be heard was the baying of sheep and neighing of horses, and all that could be seen was the brilliant golden light of Anar shining upon the green meadows and forests. She climbed up to the top of a hill and sat down to think, for these hills were her favourite place to think in silence.
After sitting and thinking for a few minutes, Andreth heard a soft footfall behind her, and turning around beheld a strong tall man wearing simple hunter's raiment of dark green and brown; but all Andreth noticed at that moment was his long golden hair and bright blue eyes. She thought that maybe he was of the house of Hador, her aunt's kin, for Hador was the peer of Elven-lords, as the folk in that time said, and this man looked tall and mighty like an elven lord, but his face was soft and kind, not stern and serious like an elven prince, and his clothing was that of a simple farmer.
"May I sit here?" he said.
"Sure," Andreth answered. He sat down beside her on the grass and looked down upon the green valley below.
"Sometimes I just like to come up here and think alone," he said. "You know what I mean?" She nodded.
They sat silent for a moment, and then he looked at her and said, "Did you ever notice how the sheep bay incessantly at one another? Do you think they are actually talking to each other, or just trying to annoy us?"
Andreth laughed. "I don't know, they don't seem to do much to but eat all day, so I think they're too dumb to be able to talk to each other."
He laughed - a clear silvery laugh that made Andreth's heart flutter. "Do you tend sheep?" he asked. She said she did. He seemed very interested in it, and so they began to talk.
They sat for quite some time and talked of many things; the Earth, the Sea, the Heavens, and sometimes they just sat silent, staring at the beauty about them, and at the immensity of the sky as the sun began to set. But the man wanted to hear about Andreth and her people, and he seemed interested in the smallest aspects of her life, even to when she brought the cows to pasture in the morning. He listened with rapture as she told him of her life, and of how she had lived with her uncle and aunt since she was young.
Then the thought came to her again that she didn't know who she was speaking to, and so she ventured to ask him who he was when another man came striding through the pasture and up the hill. He looked in face and form like the other man, but he was dressed in raiment of war, with a bright shining helm upon his head with the symbol of two serpents with emerald eyes entwined - one upholding a golden flower and the other devouring it. Andreth had seen that symbol before but she could not remember where. But now the man approached and stood before them. He spoke to the man seated by Andreth, not heeding her.
"Aegnor, the troops are made ready. We must march out at dawn. Will you not come home? The table is set for the meal."
"Indeed, I will come. But first, Angrod, you must meet my friend Andreth. We have spent many hours together talking, and I would bring her to the table with us." He turned to Andreth, "Will you come and sup with us tonight?" His eyes were shining.
Andreth was embarrassed and aghast with surprise and fear. She stuttered "Aegnor!...I, I thought..." she faltered.
He rested his hand upon her arm and looked kindly into her eyes, waiting patiently for her tongue to be untied. "Elven princes need friends just like anyone else," he said, and smiled.
She regained her composure. "I thank you, sir, but I must retire to my house tonight. Already it grows late and I must tend the sheep."
"Alright," he said. The light left his eyes and he removed his hand from her arm. Already she regretted having refused the offer. "Maybe another time then," he said, and turned away with his brother at his side. They walked down the hill, two bright golden dots in the darkening pasture, and she watched them disappear out of sight. She ran back to the cottage and shut her self in her room. Throwing herself on her bed, she wept and laughed at the same time, for making such a good friend but seemingly losing him when his identity was revealed a moment later. She was upset with herself for refusing the invitation, but what would she do, sitting at a high table with noble and majestic elf lords about her, mighty and powerful above her meager bearings? Yet when she had spoken with Aegnor all that afternoon, she had felt differently. He made her feel special, as if she was just as important to him as any elf lord or man. He had listened with interest to all that she said, gazing upon her tender face, and not caring about himself at all. She longed to see him again. But how? The son of Finarfin, ruler with his brother of all Dorthonion? How would she, a meer mortal woman, ever speak with such a lord again, with his great elven armies and palaces surrounding him?
She wept at this last thought, and fell asleep, her face covered with her unhindered tears, and she dreamed of his shining eyes and golden hair.
* * *
Several weeks passed, and often Andreth wandered into the hills hoping that she might see Aegnor again, but she saw no sign of him. Yet one day, as she was preparing the mid-day meal, a soft knock rang on the door. Her aunt Adanel answered it, and after speaking at the door for a moment, came to Andreth in the kitchen. "Dear, someone is here to see you." She said.
"Who is it?" Andreth asked, thinking it was a sheep seller from the town.
"He told me to tell you that he's `your friend from the hills'" replied Adanel, looking rather puzzled.
Andreth's heart fluttered, "I'll go to the door", she said. Hurrying through the cottage, she saw him at the door, dressed still in plain green and brown wearing old worker's boots.
"Lord Aegnor," she said, and kneeled before him.
He looked down at her unhappily, and took her chin in his hand, lifting up her face so she could see him. His shining blue eyes swept away her fear and doubt. "Friends do not bow to friends," he said "They walk beside one another. Would you stand up and walk with me?"
Andreth stood up, her deep brown eyes gazed into his blue ones, and she felt comfortable again, for she knew this was her friend from the hills.
Soon they were laughing and singing together, enjoying the beautiful day and each other's company, and then they watched the sun set in the valley. Aegnor escorted Andreth home, and told her he would come to see her again soon.
As soon as Aegnor left, Adanel asked Andreth, "Who was that, my child? You were out all afternoon?" Andreth told her aunt all about Aegnor, and how they first met, and that she loved him dearly. Adanel said with wonder, "Can such a thing be?"
Aegnor came to see Andreth many more times after, and on one occasion, he took her to a feast at his house. Andreth told him she would feel uncomfortable, and why.
"Don't be frightened," he said "They will accept you just as I have. You are no different to us."
And so they went to the feast. It was at the great house of Angrod and Aegnor, and the walls were hewn of marble and jewels, and the floors were plaited with gold. Aegnor quietly took Andreth's hand, and they walked together into the great hall.
Andreth soon felt at home, for it was not a solemn meal, but one of joy and laughter, with sweet meats and wine, and delicious fruits, for the Siege of Angband still held strong, and all of Aegnor's family was there feasting that night. Finrod greeted her kindly, as did Orodreth, lord of Tol Sirion. And when Angrod saw Andreth, he said "So, Aegnor, this is the beautiful maiden I saw you with on the hills that day!" Andreth blushed and smiled. But Galadriel was strangely quiet that evening. Maybe the foresight of her kindred warned her that the Siege of Angband would soon break, and that her brothers would be slain, or maybe it was something else that haunted her thoughts that night. But nonetheless, she was cordial and friendly to Andreth, yet more serious than her brothers.
After the feast, Aegnor rode with Andreth back home to her cottage, and before he left her, he held her close and kissed her, saying, "I will come back soon, my dear Andreth." Then he departed, riding away like a golden flame on his white horse, until he again reached his house and sought his eldest brother Finrod, the wisest of all the Noldor. When they were alone, Aegnor looked in earnest at his brother, as if seeking an answer in his eyes, and said, "I wish to marry Andreth."
* * *
Finrod sat silent for a moment, looking at his youngest brother with loving concern in his eyes. After a while he slowly began. "How can this come to pass?" he said. "I do not see how. For Eru made two kindreds of Children, and though we are kin, our Fates are separate, and we meet not again in this world."
Aegnor looked at him. "What do you mean?" he said, "Why cannot the Children of Ilúvatar marry? Orodreth is wed - Galadriel is wed. Why cannot Aegnor marry just as they? Andreth is all I ever desire, she is my light is this dark world. When I am around her, all grows clear and darkness fades. How may I not have the joy that they have, that I must forsake my only love in this world?"
Finrod looked at Aegnor with sadness in his eyes - the sadness that the wise posess. "A chasm separates the two kindreds, and none within Eä can build a bridge to unify them. Only Ilúvatar on High might do such a thing, if it is in His will and outside the Great Music, for the Valar never spoke of such an occurance. For a darkness lies between the Eldar and the Atani. You reached out your hands to Andreth in the darkness, and she grasped them, but that darkness cannot be sundered, not any light penetrate it, neither can you cross the abyss that separates you and Andreth, for there is no bridge to bring you together. It is as Ilúvatar designed."
Then Aegnor's beautiful eyes welled with tears, and his face hardened, for he understood, and knew that it was true, and that he could never marry Andreth. "Then I shall never wed!" he cried, and stood up from where he sat. "You left your love behind in Valinor, and may yet win her again, but my love shall never be mine!" he cried, "Bitterness! Bitterness and curses upon all the world!!" Then he turned, and with anguish in his eyes and gentle face, fled out of the room into the dark night.
Aegnor never took a wife of his own kindred, remembering Andreth with her dark hair shining on the hills of Dorthonion, but remained alone until the End. He perished before Andreth, for he was slain in the Dagor Bragollach at the break of the Siege of Angband, and his spirit departed to the Halls of Mandos in the West. Soon after, Andreth died of old age and weariness, and her spirit departed beyond the Circles of the World to a Fate unknown; and Aegnor and Andreth meet no more upon Middle Earth.