I AM SO SORRY! This chapter is ridiculously late, and a bit short as well. I have many possible excuses, of course, but none of them are quite sufficient. So the one I will choose is: I was not happy with this chapter – still am not – and therefore had to edit it extensively. And I hate editing my own work. Plus, I added the Emeryk scene, since I thought he deserved it.
If you would like to be in a story involving Silmarillion characters on a morale-boosting picnic, please drop a review to let me know! I do not own Arda, and probably never will. Alas.
Chapter Twenty-Six: The Unexpected Passage of Time
Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.
–Alfred, Lord Tennyson
“Keep your chin up!” Linedhel said.
I coughed, and stood up. We were in the Sea, and the waves came about to my shoulder. “I give up. For now.”
“You really do need to learn to swim,” he pointed out.
“I don’t deny it. But I would like to continue later. Considerably later.”
“Silly.” Linedhel laughed, and snagged a nearby piece of seaweed.
“Oh, no – ” was all that I managed to say before he tossed it at me. Of course I threw it back at him, along with a bit more.
That went on for some time.
We were still soaked when we reached home, after washing off the salt in the mouth of one of the streams running to the sea. Linedhel stayed, repairing something; I’m not sure what. He was rather like Ata in that way, able to put together almost anything under Anar.
I changed into dry clothing, and then went to Tasare’s. It was a fairly uneventful day; one of the Elf-children had sprained her wrist, but there isn’t much to be done for that other than to wrap it and wait.
After that – I was rather looking forward to it – I was to look after Earendil while his parents held council with some of the Elves.
That day, Earendil decided that he wanted to make a kite. We took parchment, two light sticks, and a roll of strong thread down to the beach, where there was a good wind. I constructed the kite, and he did his best to help, holding down the string as I tied the knots.
He was nearly hopping with excitement as the last one was tightened. “Can it fly yet?”
I laughed. “I think it can. Just be sure to hold tight to the string.
On the second try, the kite launched perfectly, sailing up into the calm blue of the sky. “We should paint it,” I said. “Maybe something bright – it’s almost looks like it’s just a very small cloud now.”
“I don’t know,” Earendil answered. “It’s like a sail up there. I like it.”
“A sail.” The odd notion struck me. “It’s in an ocean even larger than this one.”
“It would be cold,” he put in practically.
I laughed again. “So it would, young one.”
When the Sun was beginning to set we brought down the kite, and wound up the string. The tide was coming in, too, and slowly covering the sand of the harbor. I took Earendil home, and stayed for a moment as he showed his parents the kite. Then I walked back to the house. It was evening now, the stars beginning to spread from the East. I took a deep breath of the cool air, and took the last few steps in.
I was home.
Some years after that, in the autumn, I woke to find frost on the windowpane.
I rose and dressed, and it wasn’t until then that I realized that Emeryk hadn’t moved from his perch on my cloak rack; it was his habitual place to sleep. I went over, and gently lifted him down, sitting on the bed and holding him in my lap. “Emeryk?” I said softly. “Emeryk?”
He opened his eyes and croaked faintly. I had a feeling that he was trying to tell me not to be silly as I stroked his head, cradling his old, tired form close.
I’d known that this time would come, of course; I’d always known. But to tell yourself that loving a mortal thing is worth it, and to have the creature that stayed with you through so many different times in your arms, letting go of life, are two very different things.
I began crying, quietly, but not until the faint heartbeat beneath his feathers was almost gone.
“Indil?” There was a soft knock on the door, and when I didn’t answer it was opened. “Indil, what – oh…”
Linedhel came and sat beside me, wrapping his arm around me. I leaned against him, wiping my eyes on my sleeve. But that didn’t really do much good at all, because the tears kept coming.
We buried him on a hill over the harbor, and my brother stayed beside me when I cried.
Seasons flowed past, in a constant stream of quiet, happy days. I saw the tides, the falling leaves and snow, and then the flowers of trees gently drifting down. I watched Earendil grow up. I made friends, had arguments, even had to politely spurn an admirer. I remembered how to make a chain of flowers.
But though the shadows were far away, they were growing darker.
Nargothrond fell, and other, smaller outposts. More seeking refuge came to find the Havens, and of the great elven kingdoms, only Doriath was left. By Sirion and on the Isle of Balar there were really too few of us to think of launching any opposition of Morgoth. Though we continued to love and to live, everyone knew that some day we would have to fight for our home.
But one thing that I had found was that, over the years, the brand of the Iron Crown had faded away. And we heard the Gorthaur was defeated by Luthien of Doriath.
It was spring again. Tuor and Idril had sailed into the West long ago.
Rain was coming down hard: a spring storm. Linedhel was gone, scouting again, but due home. The trips had gradually become longer, and injuries a bit more frequent as well. I was a bit worried for him, though I knew he could look after himself.
It was late afternoon when I heard a stirring outside. Not bothering with a cloak, for a bit of rain has never hurt an Elf, I opened the door to go outside.
I stood quite still for a moment, surprised. If Linedhel and the others were back, I couldn’t see them. Because a great many unfamiliar Elves, perhaps as many as lived at the Havens, were trudging in, looking about.
It could mean only one thing. Another stronghold had been broken.
I bit my lip. I needed to find someone who could explain.
I saw Ehtelinde speaking to an Elf-maid who seemed to be the leader, and somehow obscurely familiar. His presence meant that my brother was back, as well, and so I scanned the crowd for his face. I could tell that the new Elves were all Sindarin.
And I hoped that my first guess was not right.
Then I saw someone I knew. Mothdur.
Oh, Valar, that meant…I took a deep breath and gripped the doorframe.
It meant that Doriath had fallen.