Disclaimer: I don’t own Middle Earth or any of Tolkien’s creations and I’m not making any money.
Names/Pronunciations/Misc will come at the end of each chapter.
`*’ signals a footnote
“text” signals dialogue
‘text’ signals thoughts
Well, friends, you have been very patient with me. I know a lot of you have probably dropped off as my post-rate has consistently slowed down. I understand that all to well. To those of you who are still reading: kudos to you, and may this final chapter appease some of your curiosity.
This is indeed the final chapter. Not only of this story, but probably also of my LotR fanfiction writing career. It’s been a fun few years, but real life conspires against me, and so I must go. I will continue writing, just not in this realm.
My apologies to those who were expecting a more lengthy continuation of this story. Part of the reason that it took me so long to post again was because I was in the mindset that the story should include a few more chapters. But I never could figure out what those chapters could be, that would move the story forward. What I eventually decided was that the reason I couldn’t find anything else to say was because there really was nothing left to say. The last chapter brought a conclusion for me, and I felt that anything else that was added would just be frosting… and we all know that too much frosting isn’t good for anyone.
Thank you everyone. You’ve made my sojourn in Middle Earth a real treat. I hope you all continue to write and read and think lovely, whimsical thoughts.
Chapter 18.) The Turning Point of Joy (revised)
I love thee to the level of every day’s most quiet need.
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning
April 21, 210 Fourth Age, Valinor
Drawing close to her, he placed a gentle kiss upon her brow. “I love my wife and you are she. You are my sweetest dream. And I will live by the sea or in a stone city or high up in a bird’s nest to be with you.”
Four months later…
“There goes the cider again,” Danneniûl commented wryly as the small wooden barrel rolled tipsily across the ever-tilting floor of the broad-cart.
The ladies laughed softly, lazily in the sun, unconcerned. Calina stopped the barrel with her foot, considered its squat dimensions, then gave up her seat on the cart rail in favor of the barrel set on its flat end and wedged into the corner.
“There, that’s a proper use for it,” she crowed.
“I wish I had thought of that,” Cora muttered good-humoredly, “This railing does not quite agree with my backside I’m afraid.”
“You could always get out and walk with the lords of the earth, up ahead there,” Ránendë suggested, nodding her head toward the front of the caravan, where the husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons led the way through the valley.
“With them? Never! Look at them strut along in the sunshine. I think they’re all feeling quite god-like today. I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to bear their company for one minute!”
The mothers and daughters laughed and nodded and pursed their lips.
“One can understand, I suppose,” Oiratinwë called back from her seat at the reins. “A winter long as this one was makes the blood grow restless. Lords were never meant to be caged so long.”
“Nor ladies, either,” Calina countered, springing up and dancing a little whirl in the middle of the broad-cart, among the sacks and barrels and crates of provisions. Vaniméra began to clap in time and soon the ladies were taking turns kicking up their heels, while all the while trying not to step on the apples or squash the cakes. Amid the confusion Cora stole Calina’s seat on the barrel, Calina stole Terévlia’s seat on a pile of blankets, and Terévlia collapsed in the middle of the impromptu dance floor, gasping with laughter. They were all still laughing when Oiratinwë pulled the cart up next to the bank of the snaking river, where the others had begun to congregate.
“Have you been at the celebrations without us?” Soronhín accused gently, coming up along side the ladies and reaching into the cart to begin unloading.
Danneiûl, a crate of seed-cakes and dates in her arms, hopped down next to him. “We were merely warming our feet for the long dance, weren’t we, ladies?”
“Oh yes,” Cora said with mock sobriety, “and you and your companions should follow our example. For what if we should out-dance you this evening? Where would you hide your shame?”
“In our mother’s skirts!” Alassar cried merrily, grabbing Cora around the waist and hoisting her unceremoniously out of the cart and across his shoulder.
“Oh, villain! Put me down this instant,” she laughed and tugged at his hair.
“Only if you promise me a dance. A dance I say!” And off he went toward the river with his prize, threatening to dunk her in it if she did not honor him with a dance.
Calina watched with great amusement as her friend was absconded with by Kallindo’s friend. “I hope she relents, for he is the sort that will follow through on his threats.”
“Look sharp, sister dear,” Ránendë trilled, “Here come our husbands and they have a wily look about them.”
Ehtúro arrived first, taking his wife by the waist and lifting her down with a flourish. Calina shook her head at them both and then turned to pick up the forgotten barrel of cider. With cask in hand, she sat on the rail of the cart and put her legs over the side, to hop down. Before she could descend, however, her progress was blocked by the person of Kallindo, standing in front of her and placing his hands on the rail to either side of her.
“Hello, husband. Shall you let me down do you think?”
“And let Ehtúro outdo me? Oh, where would I hide my shame?” He sighed melodramatically.
Calina eyed him with a playful glint in her eyes. “If you lay a hand on my waist, I’ll throw you over my shoulder like poor Cora and go dump you in the river.”
“And should I, a great warrior of Middle Earth, be frightened by such a threat?”
“You know me well enough, I dare say. Judge for yourself the veracity of my claim.”
“I do not think you could do it,” Kallindo averred, catching Calina off guard with a quick kiss to the nose.
“Oh you don’t?”
“No, I don’t.” And with that he lifted her easily from the rail and set her onto the ground.
Calina raised her right eyebrow and set the barrel of cider down onto the grass. “You have brought this upon yourself, husband.”
Soon the small scuffle which began next to the cart turned into an all-out chase among the other carts, beside the river, and up the valley. And if both participants returned to the encampment rather more damp then when they had left, neither would admit that the other had had any hand in it.
“They have done well, have they not?” Denneniûl sighed as she leaned against her husband’s shoulder near one of the fires. Her gaze lay on a small bend in the river. Soronhín turned his head in that direction and saw through the dusky air Calina and Kallindo sitting on the far bank.
“My glass-blowing daughter and my sheep-herding son,” he murmured with a smile. “Yes, they have done well. I am very glad that he has found such suitable employment. I think he enjoys being able to tend and care for growing things. It does him good.”
“And it does your daughter good. They begin to grow with each other and reflect each other. Joy for joy. It is a good match. They have done well.”
“Have we done well, do you think?” Calina poked her husband’s ribs playfully, tilting her head away as he tried to retaliate by tickling her ear with a dandelion.
“Excessively well, I should say,” he responded wryly, “Four months married and you still won’t let me near your ticklish ears. Where is the trust?”
Calina giggled and evaded the dandelion once more before she was caught by Kallindo’s arm and made to hold still as he advanced the offending flower slowly toward her ear.
“No, no, no, no, no – you don’t want to do such a thing to your loving wife!” She cringed and laughed in anticipation of the ordeal.
“You’re right,” he whispered fondly, the dandelion only a hairs-breadth away, “I couldn’t do it.”
The flower was removed and Kallindo laid a soft kiss in its place. Calina melted, nestling her head into the crook of his neck and slipping her arms around his waist.
“Ah, there is the trust,” Kallindo teased, wrapping her firmly in his embrace.
The crickets chirped merrily and, across the shallow river, Kallindo heard the pipes begin to murmur for the beginning of the dance.
“Yes. I think we have done very well.”
Things to Know:
Calina: Q. “illuminated”
Kallindo: Q. “noble heart”
Soronhín: Q. “eagle child”
Danneniûl: S. “fallen embers”
Oiratinwë Calamau: Q. “eternal spark/light hands”
Alassar: Q. “joy stone”
Cora: Q. “encircle”
Ránendë: Q. “moon pool”
Ehtúro: Q. “spear victor”
Vaniméra: Q. “good wish (or desire)”
Terévlia: Q. “fine thread”