“How do you know elvish?” she asked, amazed.
“I learned it a long time ago.” He seemed a little uncomfortable about the subject for some reason, so he went on. “Feeling better?” he asked.
“Very much so. Thank you,” she answered him. “My brother tells me you’re a good fighter,” she went on.
“I’m no better than the rest of the men.” he said, turning back to the fire. “You seem very close to your brother.”
“I am. After… Oh never mind. You wouldn’t want to hear it.” Niphredil said.
“Then you are mistaken. I would love to hear it,” he said truthfully.
“It might take a while,” she warned.
“Then it’s a good thing we have all night,” Dagnir smiled at her.
So Niphredil began telling about the fire, all the way to Thingol’s household. “So that’s why we’re so close,” she ended. “We’ve never really had anyone but each other.”
“You’ve both been through a lot,” he said gently.
“Yes, but enough about me. What’s your story?” she asked.
“I’d rather not say.” he mumbled.
“But I’d love to hear it,” she playfully echoed his words. “You must have had parents. Whee are they?” At his silence, she stopped questioning. “I’m going back to bed.”
She fell asleep looking at his hunched back, wondering what his history was.
The next morning, she summoned up her courage and approached Cadac. “Cadac?” she asked.
“What?” he replied, not interested.
Niphredil took a deep breath. “I was wondering if someone could help me fight.” she said quickly.
“Look,” he said. “We only took you here because you were getting too close. We kept you because we didn’t want you to give us away. We’re not going to waste energy who doesn’t deserve it.”
“Will you please let us go!” she replied, angry.
“I can’t. You could give anyone our location.” he said.
“But we won’t tell,” she tried to persuade him.
Cadac just shook his head and said, “No.”
Upon seeing his almost angry face, Niphreidl knew he would not be moved. She sighed and gave up.
She walked to the front of the cave, and slid down a few feet onto a narrow ledge. She sat down and put her chin into her hands.
She sat there awhile, thinking. She heard a noise beside her, and turned her head to see Dagnir approaching. He sat next to her and asked, “What’s wrong?” he searched her face intently.
“Nothing. I’m fine.” she replied. When she could see he didn’t believe her, she insisted, “No. I’m truly fine. I just don’t want to be idle any longer.”
There was a silence, then Dagnir spoke up. “I will help you with your fighting.” Niphredil lifted her head, and said in disbelief, “You will?”
Dagnir’s heart melted at the sight of her hopeful face. “Of course I will. We can’t have you bored all the time, can we,” he smiled at her, stood up and offered his hand to help her up. She took it, and they went back to the cave, hand in hand.
The next day, they went down the mountain, in the shadows so they would not be spotted. He grinned at her playfully, as if egging her on.
They circled each other, neither one make a move with their weapons.
Niphredil thrust first. Dagnir swiftly parried her move. He struck this time, but she blocked his pass with equal ease.
This went on for some time, but it was only Dagnir who drew blood. Finally, Dagnir unarmed his opponent. He smiled at her mockingly, proclaiming his victory without speaking.
Disappointed in herself, she bent over and picked up her weapon. “Let me try again.” she said.
“No” he said, firmly but gently. “We need to take a break first.
“Please?” Niphredil persisted.
But Dagnir still shook his head.
She sighed and looked around. She spotted someone riding a horse near by. Old fears took her and she backed away to the base of the mountain.
Dagnir saw this movement, however subtle it was, and moved closer. “Are you alright?” he asked, concerned.
Niphredil sighed and sat down, with Dagnir next to her. She didn’t feel there was a need to tell him about Curufin, at least not right now. “Yes, I’m fine. The sun was getting to me.” she lied.
Then, Dagnir surprised her by saying, “I have something for you.” He took from a little nook in the tree right behind them, a golden necklace with a big green stone in the center.
“It’s beautiful!” Niphredil breathed. “Thank you so much.” Then, she kissed him.
They sat in silence, just reliving the sweet kiss they had shared, then Niphredil broke the silence. “How did you come by the Gaurwaith?” she asked.
“Almost the same way your brother did. I was going with my companions somewhere, and we got separated. I went into their cave that night, not knowing they were there. In the morning, they cought me, and kept me because of medicine skill. I’ve been have ever since.” he concluded.
“Do you think they will ever let us go?” Niphredil asked.
“I don’t know,” he said, “But I do hope you will stay,” Dagnir said. He gazed into her eyes and leaned toward her. She leaned forward also, and their lips met. It was the the sweetest sensation Niphredil had ever known. They parted and Dagnir smiled his sweet smile. Niphredil leaned in for more.