[`Dînhith?’ asked Ariengil as she turned around, for her best friend had said something very similar to this the other day.]
`Sorry? I am Nárfin! Wake up Arri!’ *Arri? That is what Dîndîn calls me,* thought Ariengil. Of all the things which were hardest to leave in Menel, Dînhith was the hardest- the closeness between the two friends, the fact that there was always someone to talk to, the good sense of humour they shared, the way they always cheered up when they hugged each other, all of that was gone, all of it was lost. Every single bit of it.
Tears came to Ariengil’s eyes and she had to leave the feast before anyone became suspicious. Ariengil walked towards the fountain. She sat on the edge of it and looked at her reflection.
Ariengil thought she saw Harma, Mereth, Thaliondil, Beleg and Dînhith standing with her, but she was wrong- it was her imagination. *Maybe I should return to them all, especially to Dînhith, what will she be thinking of me?* But Ariengil could not face the embarrassment and harassment of returning.
`Ariengil? Are you all right? Did I offend you?’ asked Nárfin who had arrived behind her.
`Hello Nárfin, no, I am not particularly fine, but you did not offend me.’
`Would you care to talk?’
`If you do not mind.’ Ariengil began her story, starting from when she had arrived in the Undying Lands but was stopped halfway through by a handsome elf asking them to return for many people had requested that the two of them sung to the village.
The girls complied and started off with a duet, then Nárfin sung alone and then finally Ariengil sung a solo. The crowds cheered and cheered until many of them were hoarse and a few children presented the singers with flowers. Ariengil was very gratified and embarrassed.
When back at the little house, Ariengil finished her story and Nárfin sympathised with her. Nárfin felt very trusted to know all about Ariengil and so proceeded to Ariengil about herself.
There was not really much to say, for Nárfin had not had an eventful life. She was envious of Ariengil being allowed to travel so much, for she had always wanted to go on an adventure.
Ariengil hoped to stay in Caranlad for a long time. She developed a close relationship with Nárfin and they found that they had similar interests.
But Harma was still following Ariengil’s tracks, determined to convince her to marry him. He was approaching Caranlad a fortnight after Ariengil had arrived, which was now Nárfin’s birthday.
Ariengil woke early, for she had to prepare her present to Nárfin- she had organised a birthday party in the village and Nárfin was the only person who did not know. Ariengil had also made her friend a necklace of willow with a lovely smelling leaf at the bottom. The leaf smelled of lemon and would smell fresh whenever or wherever the wearer was.
Nárfin accepted the present very gratefully and gave Ariengil a long hug. Her other presents were very fine- a long blue dress, a vase, an ornament and something to wear in her hair.
Throughout the day, Ariengil was running around, trying to look inconspicuous, and by the end of the day, the party was ready. Nárfin had practically been locked into the house- obviously, she had not, but the family kept stopping her from leaving.
But the next time that Ariengil ran out of the house, remembering that she needed to sort out glasses to drink from, Harma and Tincothulé trotted into the village centre. Ariengil gasped and almost tripped up. She ran as fast as possible towards the fountain and hid.
Harma trotted up to the nearest person- and old lady. `Excuse me, have you seen a beautiful lady called Ariengil pass through here?’
`I have seen her, sir, and she is staying in this here village,’ replied the lady.
`Yonder, in that there house,’ the lady pointed to Nárfin’s house, `but they are busy, keep yourself occupied for now, go and help my son please- he’s lifting barrels of wine onto that there cart.’ As the old lady turned around, she smiled in Ariengil’s direction.
Ariengil managed to hide and work at the same time, but it was an inconvenience. By the evening, the party was completely ready; all that was needed was the birthday girl. The young man had told Harma that there was a party, so Harma had tried to look tidy and also came along. Ariengil made sure she left the house with Nárfin so that Harma would not be able to approach her for a long while.
Nárfin had been told that there was another Nabronage in the village and so they had dressed up smartly. Nárfin was wearing her new dress with her hair ornaments and looked stunning. The dress had long, flowing sleeves and a low cut neckline. It fitted her very well and the hairpiece went well with the dress too. It had little roses, made of material, in blue, entwined with her hair.
As the family and Ariengil stepped into the village square, everyone looked up and were in shock. Many of the people there had known Nárfin all of their life and had never seen her so beautiful before. A young elf leapt to his feet and offered to escort her to the front. By this time, Nárfin knew that she had been fooled. She looked over at Ariengil who had tried to put a very innocent look on her face, but had failed. The two giggled slightly, but stopped very quickly at the look that Anormalta gave them.
Suddenly the elf escorting Nárfin stopped and looking around, he asked, `Is no nice young elf going to escort Ariengil?’ With that, a lot of elves stood up, but Harma reached Ariengil first and linked his arm with hers. She sighed but tried not to make it too obvious. The elves who had stood up all sat down again with a distinct look of jealousy on their faces.
`Harma. What are you doing here?’ whispered Ariengil sharply, and then smiled again for people were looking confused. The four sat down at a table, which was at the head of a lot of other tables all joint together with food placed on them.
`What do you think?’ asked Harma.
`Well, I told you I needed to sort out my problems,’ she said. Then, thinking about it, she realised that she had actually just pushed her problems aside; only she knew about the real problem. She could always tell Nárfin, but now was not the time.
The young elf next to Nárfin stood up and held his glass. `I would like to wish good health to this beautiful young lady and hope that she enjoys this party.’ Many people further down the table all cheered then helped themselves to food. The young elf sat down again and turned to Nárfin. This annoyed Ariengil, for she needed to avoid Harma by talking to Nárfin but that would not work now.
`Come home Arri,’ whispered Harma. `I miss you, I know you miss me and Dînhith misses you too.’
`Harma, you should not have come here.’
`I had to. I need you Ariengil.’
`And I need time.’
`I will give you time, just come home, please.’
`I will only come home if Nárfin comes too.’ Nárfin, hearing her name, turned around and Ariengil asked her. `Will you come back to Menel with me Nárfin. This is Harma, he wants me to go home.’
`Wow, I am pleased to meet you Harma, I am Nárfin…’ she trailed off, thinking about the question. `This is a big decision to make, I really do not know. Will you give me time to think? I only need until the end of this party.’
They accepted and Nárfin turned back to her friend and although she seemed to be listening to him, she was actually debating leaving or staying.
Ariengil and Harma sat in a very embarrassing silence for a time, until music started and Ariengil was asked to dance by a elf nearby. She accepted gratefully but could not help noticing the smouldering look on Harma’s face. There were many dances and Ariengil and Nárfin danced with many different elves.
Slow music started and a tall, dark elf asked Ariengil to dance. She was just about to accept when Harma came up and asked if he could take this dance. The other elf accepted and asked another lady to dance. Ariengil and Harma danced together in silence for a while until Harma apologised. `I am sorry that I asked you in front of so many people, but I wanted everyone to know how much I love you, not just you.’
`I accept your apology, Harma. Thank you for apologising.’
As Harma began to say something else, the music stopped and Nárfin ran up. `I have decided,’ she said.