Author’s notes: The previous chapter can be found here.
To make differenciation for the eye between the past and present easier, the past story has spaces between paragraphs, while the present does not.
As always, I am looking forward to comments! Actually, I love them!
Disclaimer: The entire world, (well, besides Aurelin, Laswing, Calenloth and Belegorn) belongs to JRRT.
Aurelin had started to mumble soon after the changing of horses. At first it had been quiet and incomprehensible and Laswing had thought that she was trying to talk to him.
“Aurelin, please don’t speak! Hold your strength!” he had told her but she hadn’t stopped and soon her words became understandable. It was clear she was in a delirium dream because she spoke of Menegroth and her mother and father and some flowers. Laswing felt tears trickling down his face as he understood that she was feeling even worse than he had thought. He slowed the horse and ripped another piece of his cloak to put against her wound. That done, he urged the big stallion to a gallop once more.
Aurelin was however able only to feel the pain of the present, not hear or see. She drowned again into her memories and another Age because that made the fire less tormenting.
Calenloth was stubbornly not speaking to Belegorn. This had been going on since he had come to Menegroth, now some three turnings of the moon. She was avoiding him as much as possible but seemed to meet him the more she tried not to. He was meeting her challenge and did his best to spite her. They had many arguments and fights, one had been so furious that Nimloth, coming upon the two, had to calm both down and take the angry Calen with her.
“I don’t understand what’s wrong with you, you never behaved the way you have been acting for months now. It has been going on ever since he came.”
Calen was silently listening to the upbraiding and knew she had got too mad at Belegorn again but he had been following her on purpose and then kept denying it.
“I don’t want to see him and if I don’t, then I am not angry too. It is all his fault!”
“And you are entirely blameless? I wonder who started it all,” Nimloth was looking straight into Calen’s eyes. The younger sister didn’t answer and cast her eyes down.
“Alright, let’s end this discussion but you have to stop picking fights with him!”
Calen looked sullen but she promised to behave.
Later, sitting alone on her bed, she tried to think calmly of the situation. To tell the truth, their conflicts were trivial, all had started that day under the holly but Calen was too proud to let herself accept the fact that her haughty manner had created the troubles. So she struggled to come up with reasons why he was to blame but couldn’t think of anything reasonable, try as hard as she might.
The next day Calen was walking in Neldoreth, following an animal trail. She came upon a stream and stooped to see if there were any fish.
The call of her name behind her made the girl startle and she fell into the stream. The water was not very cold and it was not deep but the banks were muddy. A shadow fell on the water and looking up, Calen was not surprised to see Belegorn. She had recognised his voice and who else was going to startle her to fall into a stream anyway.
“Are you all right?” the boy asked.
“Aye but not thanks to you! What are you doing, scaring me out of my wits, sneaking up on me. You did it on purpose!” she cried.
“I didn’t know that you’d fall in. I wanted to talk to you and considering how you usually talk to me, I think we could try it with you in a stream. Maybe you’ll listen now.”
Calen was standing in the water and waded to the bank but it was high and muddy. She tried to climb up but slipped back into the water.
“I’ll help you if you’ll listen,” Belegorn offered.
Calen would have loved to say that she would get out by herself but it was obvious to both that she’d be lieing.
“Talk,” she finally said resignedly.
Belegorn decided to go straight to what was on his mind, “I want for us to be friends. There is no reason for us not to. You just became angry at me the day we met because I was in a place you didn’t expect anyone to be. Everything else was just teasing. I know you best in Menegroth, all my old friends were left in Eglarest.”
Belegorn delivered the adult-mannered peace-offering he had thought about for the last day, working out the wording and all.
Calen was looking up at him, a suspicious glint in green eyes but she saw the sense in his talk.
“I listened, now help me out!” Calen said and came closer to the bank again. Belegorn extended his hand and Calen grasped it. With some difficulty he hauled her up. When she finally stood on the grassy bank, she started to study her muddy, once clean green leggings and tunic. Belegorn was looking at her, expecting some kind of answer.
Calenloth turned to him and with a sudden move she shoved him down the bank, into the water. Belegorn landed with a great splash and heard Calen giggle high up.
“What did you do that for?” he asked, confused.
“I can be friends with you but not if you’d have left this place dry after scaring me into the water.” She was enjoying herself immensely. “Come, I’ll help you out!”
She streched out her hand and struggled to pull Belegorn up onto the bank. When both were sitting on the grass, muddy and dripping wet, Belegorn held out his arm, “Friends?”. Calen gripped his arm with her hand and smiled, “Friends”. She started to laugh again.
“We both look terrible, what our fathers will say and Lótë?” she giggled.
“I believe we do. Calenloth Dúril, how did you get so dirty?” Belegorn imitated a parental tone, as though speaking to an unruly child.
“Oh, I don’t know!” Calen made an innocent face.
Still laughing they got up.
“I think we should go and change into something drier. Otherwise there’ll be no end to the talk that we can catch cold like that. It’s like when I went to swim in late autumn, father was so angry at me.”
Calen pondered this for a moment and then took off.
“The last one is a Petty-Dwarf! See you in Menegroth!” she yelled looking over her shoulder, silver hair still wet and plastered to her head.
It took Belegorn a few seconds to react but then he took off too,
“I’ll catch you in no time. See you, Petty-Dwarf!”
And the two ran under the beeches through the forest, yelling to each other.
They came abreast to the bridge leading to the Thousand Caves and decided that both were the winners of the race. Galathil was surprised to see his little girl come back from the forest like a mud-creature but when she told Lótë that Belegorn was her friend now, the family was happy that at last she had worked things out with the boy.
The two got together not long afterwards, as coming out of her room, Calenloth was met by Belegorn leaning on a wall and they went out again to the forest, Calen promising to show him all her places of wonder.
“See you, Petty-Dwarf!” Aurelin mouthed with a small smile on her pain-wrenched face. Gilgaer had changed horses again. The sun was rising on his left but it didn’t bring any hope. The bright sunny morning felt like a mockery of Laswing’s feelings and Aurelin’s pain. She was deep in her memories of her loved-ones and he feared, giving up on living and thinking of everything that waited for her in Valinor. Trying to hold himself together he kept talking to her, hoping that maybe she’d hear, listen and not leave. He was still less than half way to Weathertop.