A/N: The usual. Don’t own Middle-earth, apologize for lateness, and implore readers to review. And please go read my story/songfic Tol-en-Guarhoth.
Chapter Twenty-Two: Haven
No more memories,
No more silent tears,
No more gazing across the wasted years…
Help me say goodbye…
–Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Phantom of the Opera
The first thing I realized as I regained consciousness was that I was in a bed, with a blanket tucked over me. I frowned, trying drowsily to remember. The last time I’d slept in a bed had been in Doriath, but I’d left there, I was almost to the Mouth of Sirion when I was ambushed, but Emeryk had come back…with Elves?
I opened my eyes.
The room I was in was low-ceilinged and fairly small, but with a large window in one wall. It was open, letting in a breeze with an odd, brisk scent that I could not place. From the sunlight that was just beginning to come in the window I guessed the time to be shortly after sunrise.
I carefully turned over, my shoulder twinging with slight pain. I found that I was wearing a dark green tunic that was much too large for me.
Still too tired to really care where I was, I curled up and was drifting to sleep again when I heard the flutter of wings. I blinked, and looked up to find Emeryk landing on the windowsill. I smiled. “Good morning.”
He gave a small squawk, and swooped down to the bed, nestling down onto the pillow between my chin and shoulder. Almost asleep, I grinned into his feathers. “Thanks, Emeryk.”
The next time I woke someone had lifted me so that I was half-sitting, carefully holding me up while tipping liquid from a cup down my throat. I blinked, pulling myself awake, and found my older brother looking down at me worriedly.
Linedhel removed the cup from my lips, and boosted me so that I was sitting upright. Once I had finished coughing, he asked, “Are you all right?”
I wiped my eyes. “Yes…But Linedhel, what-I thought you were dead! How-“
He pulled me into a tight hug, and I realized that I was really crying, not just from the coughing. He was, too, and we just held onto each other for a long time. It was so hard to believe that he was real, alive, and that I wasn’t just delirious. I took a deep breath and lifted my head from his shoulder. “Linedhel…”
Blinking back the last of his tears, he kissed me on the top of my head. “It’s all right, Indil.”
I sat up, letting out another breath. “What of Amme and Ata and Calien? What happened, after…” I swallowed, hard. “I – I found the ruins…”
Linedhel nodded, taking a long breath himself. “When – when your party never returned…we didn’t really give up until it had been two years…Amme and Ata and Calien and I, we…we missed you, so much. No one wanted to believe it.
“Ten years after you – were gone, Amme bore another child. A girl.”
I sat up straight – I’d had a little sister who I’d never even known existed? Oh, Valar…”What was her name?”
Linedhel bowed his head. “Nyeren,” he said. “She looked just like you, Indil.”
I drew up my knees and rested my head on my arms. A sister, named for me, and I’d never even known…
“Years later,” Lenedhel continued, voice soft, “King Turgon sent seven ships into the West, to seek that Valar’s pardon. My friend Voronwe – do you remember him? – was on board the last.”
“Only he returned, but with a young Mortal, Tuor, son of Huor. He is a chosen one of Ulmo; after living in our city for seven years he wed Lady Idril. It was he who led a fragment of the people through the mountains, when- ” Linedhel swallwoed, “-when Gondolin was overrun, last year.”
“The others?” I asked, though I already knew the answer. “Amme, Ata, and Calien – and Nyeren?”
“They died,” he answered, looking at the floor. “Ata fell defending the walls. He told me to look after Amme and Nyeren and Calien. I tried, but we got separated. I tried to find them, but…there was no way.” He shut his eyes, blocking out an image. “It was horrible, Indil, searching through the streets, trying to avoid being seen – there were so many of Morgoth’s creatures, Indil, so many – and avoid being killed and all the while I knew it was useless and I was too late…I only found Calien. She was already dead.”
“Oh, Linedhel…”Moving carefully because of my shoulder I hugged him tightly. “I am sorry, brother.”
He held me close, letting out a long breath. “It’s all right now, Indil…no, not all right, but I’ve learned to live through it. But what happened to you after you were captured?”
I blinked; I was beginning to feel tired again. “How did you know that happened?”
Linedhel smiled sadly. “What else could have, if you weren’t killed? And besides – ” he took my right hand and gently rolled up the sleeve of the overlarge tunic ” -how else could this have happened?” He looked at me, eyes serious. “You’ve been branded, and scarred, and I don’t know what you’ve survived, or how.”
I leaned back against the pillow. “It…well…Promise not to judge me. Please. Parts of it are horrible.”
He nodded. “I promise.”
I drew a deep, steadying breath. “Our band was ambushed. We were outnumbered, badly, and the fight didn’t last long, but over half of us survived. We were taken to Minas Tirith, and there…you can imagine what happened.”
“I saw the scars when I was treating your shoulder,” Linedhel answered softly. I managed to gather myself, and gave him an unsteady smile. “Everyone…all the others were killed. I was kept just alive; I don’t know why. I’d rather…not go into the details of that, but I was weakened, on the verge of dying…and Gorthaur forced a spell on me.
“I…I had to do his will. And that…I killed his enemies. I could see what I had become, but couldn’t break from it. and it went on…until…” I drew in a hiss of breath. Oh, Valar,, why hadn’t I realized… “Linedhel,” I asked carefully, “what did you say was the name of the Mortal who came to Gondolin with Voronwe?”
My brother had listened, immobile, to my brief account; I’m not sure what feelings he was trying to hold back. “Tuor…”
“And he wedded Idril?”
Linedhel nodded, and I swallowed hard. I was almost certain, but…”Do they have any children?”
I closed my eyes and realized that I was crying.
“Indil?” he said gently.
I wiped my eyes; Linedhel was watching me tensely, and I let out a long, long breath. “When Gorthaur summoned me, for the last time, he told me to kill Earendil…and that is when I broke free of his hold at last. I couldn’t think of it….I was sickened.“
Linedhel unexpectedly slammed his fist into the foot of the bed, and I started. He looked up quickly, eyes bright with tears. “Indil, how did you survive?“
I stared at the blanket. “I don’t know.”
“Do you remember,” he said, “when we were small…I said I’d always look after you…”
I lifted my gaze to meet his eyes. “Linedhel, I grew up. You can’t blame yourself for being wounded and not coming that one time…I would only have had to watch you die as well.”
“I know,” he answered. “But you’re still my little sister..oh, Indil, I wish none of this had happened, to any of us.”
I rested my head against his shoulder; I felt exhausted just from sitting up and talking. “But they did, brother…If wishes were stars then there wouldn’t be night…and we haven’t reached the end of the tale yet.”
Linedhel chuckled sadly. “You’re right, Indil. But all the same I do wish…no matter. I imagine Gorthaur was…ah…displeased?”
I laughed. “No, not at all. He was positively overjoyed, and invited me to take a detailed tour of the dungeons. It would have been delightful, except that I was unconscious.”
Linedhel looked at me beffledly for a moment, and then shook his head, sighing. “You’re overtired, Indil. I shouldn’t have told you all this on your first day awake.”
I tried to sit up straight. “First? What happened after you found me? How did you find me?”
His lips twitched with a slight smile. “We found you because a raven kept pestering us, landing close and then refusing to go until we followed it, and it led us to the bandits’ camp. There we recognized you as an Elf in need of help, and acted accordingly.”
I blinked, hazily – Linedhel was right about my state. “That was Emeryk….who’s we?”
“A scouting band.”
“I remembber you attacking tha camp…what happened after that? I think I heard your name…”
“You did.” Linedhel carefully slid me down so that I was lying with my head on the pillow again – I was too tired to try to resist or do it myself – and tucked the blanket over me. But I wouldn’t give up. “What happened then?”
Linedhel laughed. “Indil, it’s hard to think of all you’ve been through…this is like telling a bedtime tale to an Elfling.”
I grinned sleepily. “I like being an Elfling.”
He sighed, laughing again at the same time. “All right. You were in a bad way when we found you, as I’m sure you know. Your shoulder has what was probably the worst infection I’ve ever seen. We did what we could, and then brought you back home. You’d been either delirious or unconscious for three days, and it was sunset of the fourth when you finally fell into a real sleep. The healer had been working on your shoulder, and it was mostly clear by then. That was three days ago; you’ve been asleep since.”
“Oh.” I burrowed deeper beneath the blanket. “Thanks, Linedhel.”
He smiled. “You’re alive, sister. That’s what really matters.”
I closed my eyes, – I was still drained enough to sleep that way – smiling as well. Linedhel kissed my forehead and was about to leave the room when one last thing occured to me.
“Where are we?”
“The Havens of Sirion, Indil.”
I drifted to sleep, smiling.
That was a very long, explanatory chapter, so REVIEW, dangit, and tell me what you think!