Ariengil gasped and turned around quickly.
‘Oh, Thaliondil! I wasn’t expecting you- I thought you were asleep.’
‘I couldn’t sleep- I was thinking of you,’ he replied.
‘Thall!’ she complained, using his childhood name, ‘you know we are not together any longer. You must stop regretting it. I love Harma now,’ she said and looked away.
Thaliondil, holding her face gently, turned her back to face him. ‘And where is Harma when you need or want him? Fighting with men,’ he spat out the last word, ‘his taste is low-‘ Ariengil cut him off.
‘Men are noble, especially those for whom he serves. The King of Gondor has Harma in his high regards. Anyway, this is not the place for him yet.’
‘When will it be the place for him? Today, tomorrow or in five thousand years? You can wait that long, but I can’t. I have waited for two thousand years for you and yet you still do not love me as you once did. Why? What changed? We were destined to each other.’
‘Oh Thaliondil, I haven’t told you or anyone what really happened because it just seemed wrong to say anything- nobody else would think it important.’
‘I don’t understand.’
‘But nor do I…nor do I.’ Tears flooded her eyes and one slipped down her cheek. She reached up to brush it away, but Thaliondil took her hand and kissed it. Holding her close, he let her cry into his shoulder.
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude,’ Mereth had approached suddenly.
‘You aren’t intruding,’ replied Ariengil before Thaliondil had a chance to speak, ‘we were just coming back anyway,’ Mereth looked at her strangely, but didn’t want to pry, so he smiled and walked off.
‘Arien,’ started Thaliondil.
‘No Thaliondil, just no.’
‘You can tell me anything, you do know that don’t you?’
‘I didn’t, but thank you. I will come to terms with… IT, soon and I will talk to you then. Thank you.’ She said as she walked off. Thaliondil hurried after her and they all sat down to eat a little food. The food was not highly interesting- lembas bread and an apple each. Presently they set off again.
Ariengil became very uncomfortable under Thaliondil’s continuous looks and so she walked with Dînhith and they whispered between themselves. Mereth went to talk to Thaliondil and so the journey progressed.
‘So, where do you and your sister come from?’ asked Mereth.
‘Lothlórien,’ replied Thaliondil, wondering why this annoying elf had followed them and was asking questions.
‘Oh, and Ariengil? I see you like her-where is she from?’
‘Hmm, you don’t say much do you?’ There came no reply, so Mereth carried on. ‘I come from Rivendell. Have you visited Rivendell?’ expecting no reply, he continued, ‘it is a really beautiful place- stunning- the rivers Hoarwell and Loudwater are so peaceful, a bit like the one here; Elrohir, Elladan and Celeborn are still there, they said that we will all be reunited again soon. I hope so. You know Celeborn obviously.’
A murmur was the only reply that Mereth needed, ‘Nice chap really, a bit quite though.’ Once again, there was no reply and seeing as Mereth could not think of much else to say, he was quite again for a while.
The she-elves were still whispering and sometimes throwing sidelong glances at Mereth or Thaliondil. ‘I wonder what they are nattering about,’ said Mereth.
‘What is it to you what they talk about?’ snapped Thaliondil.
‘Very sorry, I was just trying to start a conversation,’ replied Mereth, slightly hurt.
‘Well don’t,’ Thaliondil ran up ahead to get away from the others. He shook himself mentally. *What am I thinking? He’s only trying to make friends. But he is like a child- persistently annoying.* An arm linked through his, which came as a shock, but it was only Dînhith.
‘You should learn to control yourself, brother. Poor Mereth, he seems perfectly nice to Ariengil and me.’
‘And I’m not?’ he replied.
‘Of course you are nice. When have we ever said that you aren’t nice?’
‘It’s just an impression- and Ariengil is saying things.’
‘It seemed to me that it was you saying things- “I couldn’t sleep, I was thinking of you, oh Arien, Ariengil my love, I can’t live without you!” Dînhith exaggerated and made fun of her older brother, but still had to dodge out of the way as he chased after her, shouting and laughing.
‘They are so nice to each other, don’t you think?’ asked Ariengil to Mereth from far behind the siblings.
‘Yes, I am very envious. My brother and sister were never mean to me, but they didn’t make an effort to be nice either,’ replied Mereth sadly.
‘What are they called? Where are they now?’ asked Ariengil.
Pleased that someone was finally taking an interest in him, Mereth launched into his life story.
‘My brother and sister are twins, they were born to my parents- Mananca, son of Manatar, and Malanna, daughter to Prince Angacuru, in the Year 130 of the Third Age. I was born in the Year 241 but was always treated as the unable younger child. My brother was named Beleg- mighty- and my sister is named Culfëa- golden spirit- while I am name Mereth- feast. You can tell from our names that I was the least honoured. My father was slain by trolls in the Year 2930 and so my brother tried to seek revenge by fighting anyone who did anything wrong. He became crazed and no matter what we did, he was always bloodthirsty. The last we heard, he was with the Rohirrim and was lost or slain in a battle with wolves and orcs.’
‘I am so sorry for you.’
‘Don’t be.’ Mereth paused and lapsed into a memory, once forgotten or buried, then began again. ‘My sister was very close to Beleg, and although she did not want revenge, she did want to help other people so that no others would lose loved ones- of course, that is impossible- but she tried as hard as she could. She would follow companies of riders, of warriors, and tend to their wounds. She became known as a legend, a friend who arrives at battle scenes to help. What was it they said? “Culfëa a friend; enemy a foe, she takes away fear; where’er you go.”
‘Of course, this made my mother have even higher regards of her, and lower regards of me. I always tried so hard to win her approval, but it never worked and she always hated me.”
I’m sure she didn’t hate you- no mother can ever hate her children.’
‘I told myself that time and time again, but to no avail. So I then went out to fight with the Rohirrim, perhaps I would win my mother’s approval doing what Beleg did, but no, she said that I was destroying the memory of him, making his death seem pointless.
‘So I left. I haven’t seen her since. I sometimes send her messages, but the messengers never have a reply for me. I do despair.’
‘Your father- he was an elf, wasn’t he?’
‘Yes. My guess is that he will have made his way here- obviously I won’t recognise him for he will be a different person- but I hope to meet him. And I suppose I also look forward to meeting my brother again.’
‘I would very much like to meet them when you see them again.’
‘It would be my honour.’ The other two elves had stopped and waited for Mereth and Ariengil. Thaliondil had a distinct look of jealousy on his face- why would Ariengil talk with Mereth for so long and listen so intently? It seemed not fair. He walked away quickly so that his sister would not be cross with him again.
‘Thaliondil, why do you look so sad? I have not said anything wrong, have I?’ Ariengil linked arms with him for which he was glad- he wanted someone to talk to.
‘No, you have done nothing wrong, it was me doing wrong, for trying to make you talk when you don’t want to. I will not do this again.’
‘You have something else on your mind- what is it Thaliondil?’
‘Why should I tell you, when you never tell me anything?’ he snapped, and pulled his arm away. Ariengil stopped and stared at him. This was so unlike the handsome, kind young elf she had once known. ‘I am so sorry, please forgive me.’
‘Of course I forgive you Thall and I am always here if you wish to talk,’ With that, she walked off, back to Mereth, and Dînhith approached again.
‘Thall, what is it? You are jealous, aren’t you?’
‘I suppose I am. I can’t help it- first Harma, now this Mereth person. Why not me?’
‘She still loves Harma, Mereth is just a friend.’
‘A friend now, but what later?’
‘Thaliondil! I do not want you sulking because we have new friends. Do you understand me?’
‘Yes sir! Right away sir!’ Thaliondil mocked his sister and saluted then lapsed back into his thoughts. Dînhith climbed a nearby tree, right to the top and had a look around. She saw the edge of the forest, and beyond that there were meadows, people, animals and streams.
‘Not far now, my friends,’ she shouted.