A/N: Once again, apologies! My sister came to visit and then school started again, and then I simply forgot about it, and then I got sick…you catch my drift, I imagine. And I’m sorry if there are any commas missing in the chapter; the computer has problems with that key. I still don’t own Middle Earth!
Chapter Twenty-Four: Introductions
Will you think of times you’ve told me
That you knew the reason
Why we have to each be lonely?
It was just the season…
—Jesse Harris, Shoot the Moon
Even with my tender shoulder, I was able to get truly clean, a lovely feeling. I dried off and pulled on another set of clothing borrowed from Linedhel. This one was also much too large, but I was not particularly bothered. Rolling up the hems would do, as I wasn’t planning to do anything strenuous in the near future. I couldn’t even walk for more than a minute or two without exhausting myself.
I combed out my hair, which took some time, and leaving it loose to dry I walked with some care to the door of the bedroom. Opening it – Emeryk had resumed his usual perch on my shoulder – I stepped out into the main room.
Linedhel stood at the far end, just finishing up with washing the lunch dishes as he carried on a conversation with a pleasant-looking Elf seated at the table. I made my way over, once again using care, and Linedhel turned, smiling. “Ah, there you are. I was beginning to wonder if you’d drowned in there.”
“Have you ever tried to get two seasons’ and a great deal of sleeping’s worth of knots out of you hair?” I retorted.
He grimaced. “No, and I never want to. But you look much better now that you’ve cleaned up.”
I snorted. “Thanks ever so.”
The Elf, who had been watching with some amusement, turned to my brother. “Linedhel, I presume that this lady is your sister?”
Linedhel laughed. “Yes. Ehtelinde, this is my sister Indil. Indil, Ehtelinde, a good friend.”
Ehtelinde stood and bowed. “An honor, my lady. You are much improved from when I last saw you.”
I awkwardly inclined my own head. “The honor is mine, sir. I stand in debt to all of you.” Linedhel had mentioned Ehtelinde a few times; he was in the band that had rescued me. To be saved by my brother was one thing, but owing my life to total strangers, as well, was a very different – and slightly unsettling – thing.
Ehtelinde waved my thanks away with a smile. “Not at all. It is only decency to help another Elf. And please sit down; I’m sure you aren’t fully recovered yet.”
I seated myself gratefully on one of the chairs. Linedhel finished with the dishes and sat down as himself. “Well.”
It was silent for several moments. Then several more.
Finally Ehtelinde broke the slightly uncomfortable quiet. “What do you think if the Havens so far, lady?”
I tilted my head to one side. “I really haven’t seen anything but the inside of Linedhel’s house yet, though that’s admittedly very nice – ” my brother chuckled “-it’s not really enough to say. And please call me Indil.”
He nodded. “Of course. But then, I’m Ehtelinde to you, and my brother, when he arrives – which really should be shortly – is Sandaquare.”
I smiled. “Thank you. What is the rest of the Havens like?
A knock sounded on the doorjamb a few minutes later – the door itself was open, letting in air and a glitter of the Sea – and an Elf who rather resembled Ehtelinde stuck his head in. “Good day, everyone! But who is this unknown lady?”
Linedhel laughed. “Hello, Sandaquare. This is my sister, Indil.”
The Elf entered, and bobbed his head in an abbreviated bow. “Of course. Forgive me, my lady; our first meeting was lamentably rushed – in fact I would imagine that you do not recall it, as you lost consciousness shortly thereafter – and I hardly recognized you.”
Biting back laughter – Sandaquare certainly was verbose – I nodded gravely. “Not at all, good sir. There is nothing to forgive, and in fact I believe I remember you.”
“Oh?” He raised his eyebrows.
“Yes.” I blinked. “You said that it was all right and I was safe.”
Sandaquare sat down next to his brother. “A moment of unforgivable seriousness. I assure you that such a breach will not occur again.”
“It probably won’t,” Ehtelinde informed me. “He’s impossible.”
Sandaquare smiled serenely. “I try.”
Ehtelinde rolled his eyes. “Linedhel and I were giving Indil a description of the Havens, as she hasn’t seen much yet. Do you have anything to add?”
“Well, that depends on what you’ve already told her about, doesn’t it?”
By then end of the afternoon I’d been given rather a lot of information regarding the Havens and felt quite at ease with the brothers. Linedhel few in a few comments here and there, but seemed content to let us get acquainted.
When they had departed – with many elaborate farewells to both of us on Sandaquare’s part – Linedhel leaned back in his chair, grinning. “Well, it seems I’ll be hard pressed to keep you from getting swept off your feet by some gallant Elf one of these days, little sister.”
I laughed, half amused and half indignant. “I hardly think that likely.”
“Ah, well, you never know. They both seem positively smitten.”
I snorted. “Right.”
“Jesting, of course, jesting.”
If there’d been anything soft with reach, say, a cushion, I would have thrown it at him. As it was, I merely made a face, then leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “In any case, they’d have a hard time prying me away from you, brother.”
He laughed and kissed the top of my head. “I’m flattered.”
The Sun was mostly down, and the breeze coming in through the open door was cooling. Linedhel fixed supper – I tried to help, but was rather firmly told to stay put. The meal thankfully did not include any more fish stew. I did not feel quite up to facing any more of that, and was sure that I would be getting used (as Linedhel put it) to it for some time. Emeryk seemed to like it, though, and ate the bit that was left over from midday.
After that Linedhel and I sat in front of the fire, enjoying the warmth and quiet dance of shadows on the walls. Emeryk had already gone and perched on the cloak rack, asleep. I leaned my head drowsily on Linedhel’s shoulder.
Finally he stirred. “You’ll probably be well enough to meet the Lord and Lady tomorrow.”
“Oh,” I said, apprehensive. “I suppose I should.”
“No, only the fact that I was an assassin and supposed to kill his son, for Nessa’s sake.”
Linedhel shifted to look down at me, concerned. “But that’s why you broke free, Indil. And Tuor is a kind lord; all are welcome in the Havens. It will be all right-“
I was just tired, now. “If you say so.”
“It’ll be eventful, though,” he continued, looking slightly amused. “So you ought to get some sleep. You’re still recovering.”
I straightened, and stifled a yawn. “I’ve been taking up your bed for the past few days. I can sleep out here tonight.”
“Nonsense.” Linedhel did his best imperious expression. “You are the invalid. So therefore it would be ridiculous.”
“No, it wouldn’t.”
“Oh, all right!” I exclaimed, after a bit of this. Linedhel grinned. “I knew you’d see reason,” he said cheerily, and scooped me up, ignoring my half-hearted protestations – “I can walk, you know,” – plopped me down on the bed and tucked the blanket over me.
“Now go to sleep.”
I laughed, already starting to follow his orders. “If you insist.”
The next morning, after trying to make myself as presentable as I could in my brother’s borrowed clothing, we went to meet Lord Tuor. I leaned rather a lot on Linedhel; though I could walk, as I’d pointed out the night before, I still didn’t feel very steady. I had my first real sight of the Sea as we walked through the Havens, and it was breathtaking. I will not try to describe it, the endless, glittering blue expanse, for the many songs and tales that tell of it do a far better job than I possibly could.
We reached a house, not really very different than any of the others, and Linedhel knocked. Although I knew she was married to Tuor, and that it would be very odd to have ladies-in-waiting in such a small informal dwelling, I was still startled – or rather, so shocked I couldn’t really think for a moment – when Lady Idril Celebrindal, daughter of King Turgon, opened the door.
She smiled. “Good morning, Linedhel. Tuor expected you’d come today. This is your sister?”
I swallowed. “My lady,” I managed to croak out, and bowed. Linedhel followed suit, cheerfully. “Yes. `Morning, m’lady.”
A few moments later we were waiting in what could be considered a comfortable room or a very small audience chamber. Lady Idril had excused herself for a moment, and I glanced and Linedhel. “You’re unusually cheery this morning.” Generally my brother was not the early type.
He shrugged. “Put it down to the invigorating sea air, sister, or perhaps your inspiring presence. But don’t worry – that will wear off in a week or two.”
I laughed pretending to swat him, and at that moment Lady Idril retuned with her husband. Tuor. He smiled. “Good morning Linedhel.”
Linedhel bobbed his head. “M’lord.”
Tuor chuckled. “Stop. I know you too well, and it’s too early for that in any case.”
“Yes, sir,” Linedhel answered, almost cheekily. “This is my sister, Indil.”
Not really knowing what else to do, I bowed. “M’lord.”
Despite his objections to the title, Tuor truly was a lord, one who inspires immediate respect and admiration. But I did not, definitely did not, want to approach the subject of Gorthaur’s last order. And Tuor did not ask much, only how I came to the Havens, and Linedhel told most of that. I did say that I’d been captured by Morgoth’s servants. Tuor did not comment on it; I’m sure it was plain that I really didn’t wish to remember it in detail. I had hope here, after all, and did not need to bring up old shadows.
And so I was welcomed to the Havens, and that was that.
As we walked back – slowly, on my account – Linedhel spoke. “It wasn’t that bad, was it?”
I laughed, looking up at the sky. “No, it really wasn’t.”
Please do review! And feel free to badger me about getting the next part typed, as well – I need it!