The Golden and the Black

The Morning After

Maeglin woke to the roar of rushing waters tumbling down rocks and wind sighing up the hillside, and the sight of the stars above growing faint as the sky brightened over the eastern mountain heights. Her cheek was pressed into a soft mane of shining golden hair and the warmth of a bare, strong shoulder.

The shock almost made her sit bolt upright.

Stunned, her mind a perfect blank, she watched the rise and fall of his chest under the grey cloak covering them.

Then she remembered. Remembered graphically everything, everything that had happened a few hours ago, and cursed long and violently in her mind.

Barely breathing, with infinite slowness, she lifted herself off his shoulder, and ever so carefully untangled the locks of her black hair that were mingled with his gold tresses, and—with some difficulty—extricated the ends of her hair which he was lying on.

He stirred a little, but dreamed on. She began to appreciate how the twins had been able to tie the hair of Ennor’s greatest warrior to his bedpost.

Now sitting up, she winced as she felt her soreness and tenderness. She looked around the ledge, took stock of the bruises on herself. And shades of Mandos, were those bite marks she saw on his shoulder? She groaned inwardly.

What next?

One look at him as he lay peacefully dreaming, more beautiful even than last night, brought not just a surge of renewed desire but a bewildering jumble of tenderness and warmth, and stomach-churning guilt and fear. Everything within her screamed that she should flee. She dreaded looking into those sky-blue eyes and lying. She wanted to sleep with him nightly, yet abhorred the thought of dealing daily with who they had once been, and in a way would always be. Prince and subject. Fellow lords. Brothers-in-arms. Hero and traitor. Adversaries.

And the greatest terror of all. The way he was able, so easily, to slip past all the barriers of her fëa, to invade all the places most secret in her mind and her heart—the places of horror and deceit and darkness she wanted known to none, that she did not even want to face herself.

He had promised not to. It was not enough. It was not that she distrusted him, much though she might always have hated him. Oh, he would keep his word, noble and true as he always was. She had always known that.

No—it was just simply that…he could. The power he had over her shook her, petrified her. Her stomach twisted to recall with what ease he had penetrated those defences, last night. Without even trying, even thinking.

How much deeper he could go.

And how much part of her longed for him to do so.

For all her desire for him, it was not their passion that held her most now, but the moments of closeness and quiet that had followed. The comfort and warmth of his arms. And that moment his mind and hers had been one…she had recoiled instinctively in utter dread and terror. Yet now as she remembered it, it glowed in memory. One brief shining moment. How enticing, how seductive that fleeting flash of communion had been, a glimpse of what she had never known, but had always yearned for deep beneath all her princely pride and aloofness…a haven; a place that felt like home. Fragments of self interlocking with another, becoming one whole. The ultimate lure that whispered to her: that one could actually be known, in one’s entirety, and still be loved.

Fool. It could never be. He knows naught, and must never know.

Quickly, she pulled on her clothes. Flee! She must. It had to end here.


Glorfindel woke up with a start, and saw the first rays of Anor streaming over the mountaintops.

As his mind was swamped by a jumbled rush of memories from last night, the surge of elation and wonder was soon replaced by desolation. She was gone.

And why was he not surprised? In the light of morning, everything that had happened suddenly wore the appearance of disaster. It had been wondrous. It had been mutual. It had unfolded like the most natural, intensely beautiful thing in all of Eä. And it had been totally, unreservedly rash and brainless.

What were you thinking, last night?

The obvious answer, of course, was that he had not been thinking at all. After nine years of perfect self-control, the moment that cloak had slipped to the ground, all thought had gone south to Gondor.

He could now think of several rather important things that it might have been wise to discuss beforehand. Such as: “Before we commit this momentous, life-changing and irrevocable act, might you ever find it in your heart not to hate me?”

And he had not given one thought to all his previous scruples about Elrohir.

In two long lifetimes, Glorfindel had numerous times been confronted by irate, jealous males, both elven and mortal, over his supposed relations with some female or other. He had been challenged to duels, assaulted with angry words, and fists, and weapons, and furniture, and thrown once into a dungeon in Annúminas by the future King Tarondor before being rescued by Elrond.

The thought of possibly having a fallout with Elrohir over Maeglin made his heart sink to indescribable depths. It was not only that Elrohir was among his dearest friends. The difference was this—in all previous situations, his conscience had been perfectly clear, his innocence beyond a doubt.

Now…

Wretched with love, wracked with guilt, desperate to find Maeglin, he snatched up his clothes from where they had been laid out to dry on the ledge, and pulled them on quickly. As he did, he could hear Ecthelion’s lecture on proper conduct and self-control, dished out to him after he had been found, at the age of forty, with three young ellith in his bed after Nost-na-Lothion.

“But—but they just wanted to cuddle. Nothing really happened!” the youngster had protested, after Ecthelion sent the beauties packing.

“Guard your behaviour,” Ecthelion snapped sternly, “or before long something WILL happen. And it may be an angry father jamming a dirk to your throat and demanding you wed a girl you care naught for after compromising her honour. Irresponsible, Lauro. Stupid and irresponsible. One day, you will find the One for you. And when you do, make sure that you have no regrets. Be certain to do everything right by her. Until then, let naught happen that would cause grief to the princess or the king, or you are not so old I cannot still give you a whipping.”

Glorfindel was half glad Ecthelion was not here to witness his folly, half wishing the Lord of the Fountain was here to offer some counsel. Scanning the ledge, he was annoyed and dismayed to see neither his leggings nor his boots. Nor his hunting gear and travel pack.

Had they fallen off sometime during the throes of their passion, or been blown off the ledge by the wind?

Or had she tossed them off herself to slow him down?

She had hidden them, he realized, as a swift search discovered each item tucked away in various crevices at the back of the ledge, his right boot wedged between two boulders in a manner that required contortionist skills for retrieval. That gave him some idea of her state of mind. As he eventually hunted down his travel pouch and strapped on his knives and bow and quiver, he reached tentatively out to her with his fëa. Not trespassing, just sensing. Across the distance, he faintly discerned desperation, and misery.

He swiftly followed her. At places, her light prints showed on the dewy ground. At others, pine and fir and stone whispered softly of her passing to him. He was less than an hour behind her, and she was choosing a winding route southwards, then westwards, through the hills. It would slow her down, but she was avoiding the valley where people were.

And the realization hit him before long. She was heading to the pass in the south-west. She was leaving the valley. And within he knew: she did not plan to return.

He caught up with her before long, saw her running across a clearing into the woods that ran alongside the Bruinen river…

As she ran, Maeglin was remembering her mother, and their journey from Nan Elmoth to Gondolin. How Aredhel had turned her head to look back, and muttered, “He will come. He will not let us go so easily.” Urging on her horse, she had added, almost to herself: “He has no rights over me, none. We said no blessings. We exchanged no rings. I am not bound.” Maeglin had looked into his mother’s eyes and seen the opposite of her words. Seen in the lovely silver eyes that passion and desire that always lurked just beneath her loathing of his father. It was something that bound her to the Moriquendë, warring with her yearning to be free.

Maeglin could understand better, now, that war of passions within her mother. She thought of herself and Glorfindel. We are not bound. We cannot be bound. And yet here she was yearning for him, irrationally, stupidly.

She sensed him before she saw him. When she glanced over her shoulder and saw him behind her, she knew it would be futile to run. But she did anyway, into the woods, and was unsurprised when he overtook and cut in front of her.

She almost skidded to a halt on the dewy moss, as he appeared before her, glorious and golden in the morning sunlight slanting through the branches overarching them. They stood in silence, facing each other, reddening slightly as all of the previous night lay between them.

“Lómiel,” he began awkwardly, really at a loss what to say, “Please—you do not have to run…”

“Do not try to stop me, do not get in my way.” Her black eyes glinted coldly. She moved to skirt around him.

He reached out to touch her arm. “Lómiel—”

“Don’t touch me!!” she snarled at him, pulling away from him.

Every possible profession of undying love died on his lips. “You are leaving Imladris,” he said. “But why?”

“Do not ever touch me again,” she said, ignoring the question. She stepped away, and continued walking.

They went deeper into the woods. He trailed after her, feeling utterly miserable and helpless. “You do not have to leave. We…we could put it behind us, and move on.” What utter rubbish. There is no way I could ‘move on’ from this.

“I am moving on,” Maeglin said shortly, not turning.

He drew up alongside her, to her left, but kept two rangar between them, talking to her through the trees and shrubs that passed between them. “But what about the smithy, the guard—could you just walk away from all that?”

You owe him no explanation. Just leave. “I never belonged here. I knew I would leave some day,” she heard herself say.

“Of course you belong here! What about…about…your friends?” Glorfindel struggled in anguish to try to understand how Maeglin might feel. How would the Lord of the Mole feel, waking up after being bedded by the one elf he hated most?

And yet, surely, after all that happened between us last night

“What about us? Please, talk to me. Tell me what is wrong. I thought you were happy, last night.” You were. Do not deny it. I have never seen you so happy before. “I thought we made each other very happy.”

“Last night was madness. No more than a dream. It is daylight now.” Her profile was hard as steel, her eyes like ice.

Glorfindel gathered his much-vaunted courage. “But—you do realize,”—he spoke cautiously, and there was an edge of desperation in his voice—“that after last night, you and I—we are bonded now?”

Bonded?” She echoed mockingly, her eyes narrowing. “Have you said that to any of the other ellith you have bedded?” Her voice was chilly, accusing.

“What??” he said in outrage and shock as he emerged from behind an oak tree. “’Other ellith’?—what ’other ellith’? How could you think—” And Glorfindel suddenly recalled the occasional murmurs of scandal in the Gondolin marketplace, which he had always ignored as beneath his contempt. And now he realized how a certain lord might have relished the gossip—and believed it. He moved closer to her. “I have no idea what you may have heard, but it was not true. There has only been you! There will only always be you.”

The blazing sincerity in his eyes, the intensity of his voice shook her, but she kept on walking, and put a few birches between them.

“No matter. It was a stupid mistake.”

He might have thought so himself, but he was unprepared to hear it from her lips. Each time he thought it no longer possible, she found a way to break his heart further.

“Yes, it was. A terrible mistake. It should not have happened that way. It was rash, and unthinking, and there are no excuses for how I behaved. I am sorry.” He knew it would be a fatal error to remind her that she had been the one who had taken their kiss further. It was the memory of the tenderness and vulnerability she had shown towards the end, as she had snuggled against him in the moments before sleep, that emboldened him now to throw all caution to the winds, forget about Elrohir, and desperately appeal to her. “I love you. I never meant this to happen—not like this. There are so many things I wanted to say to you first. I wanted to give you the courtship you deserve, and the betrothal, and the blessings, and the gold rings… But it is done, and it cannot be undone. And it binds us. Can you not feel it as I do? We are one now, and I am yours. For always. And though I understand it is not your wish now, I hope that we may yet have blessings and rings in the fullness of time.”

She looked at him, shaken and stunned, and something caught at her throat, and wrenched her heart. Something that wanted what he offered. So badly. Her lips tightened. “Exactly. We have had no blessings. No rings. That means that you are free of me, and I of you. So go away and leave me be! You have nothing to hold me with. There is nothing between us. It was nothing.”

“It was not nothing! Binding does not need rings or blessings. I would wish for them only that the world might be our witness and share my joy, but blessings or no, rings or no, it is done. I am joined with you fae and rhaw for all time and the Valar themselves cannot undo that. If you leave now you tear away half of me with you. I will force nothing upon you. I will not even come nigh you unless you give me leave. Take all the time remaining to Arda if you wish, and if your answer still be nay, I will accept it. But do not go. Please.”

It took all her strength to look into his blazing sea-blue eyes, and twist the knife. “That is a wagonload of orc-crap. I am joined to no one, nor will ever be. I belong to myself alone,” she said, her voice cold and cutting. “This sorry affair should never have happened. And it was nothing to me. You are nothing to me. Begone! Ego!”

She turned away again, and ran through the trees up a slope towards the path leading out of the valley.

The hurt was so great, he could not speak for a while. He would rather have faced the fiery whip of the balrog again a hundred times again than endure this. And out of the pain and desperation of his heart he could only think of one thing to say to her departing back.

“Lómion, wait! Do not leave!” he called after her in anguish. In Quenya.

She came to a sudden halt.

Melin tyë, cundunya. I love you, my prince.”

She froze—stood on the slope as though turned to stone for a heartbeat. Then she turned, and looked at him in shock.

“What did you say?” she whispered, also in Quenya.

“I know who you are. You are Maeglin Lómion. And I love you.” And he walked up the slope towards her.

She backed away and drew her knife.

“Stay away from me!” she snarled, panic and bewilderment in her eyes. “How did you know?” It did not even occur to her to deny it.

“The name, the smithy,” he said gently. “It was rather obvious, cundunya.”

Then it dawned upon her, and she suddenly stopped backing away. Her black eyes flashed and narrowed as she held her ground.

“So you knew!” she said slowly, her voice a growl. “When you gave me the sword, you knew!”

He saw the fire in her eyes, and knew at once that she was now ready to use the knife in dead earnest.

Melmenya—” he said.

“Shut up, you piece of muk!!”

She began to advance on him, her face grim.

She drew a second blade.

“I thought it would please you to receive back something you had made,” Glorfindel said, backing away and staying out of reach of the blades. “How was I to know? I was trapped at that time in the Great Market and the Square of the King, fighting off hordes of Orcs. Itarillë never told me about how she used the sword when you—when she—I only guessed it when I saw the look on your face. I am sorry, I never, ever meant to hurt you.”

He saw fresh horror come over the Lord of the Mole’s mortified face, and she halted abruptly.

“You cesspool of orcshit—last night, you knew! You knew it was me, and you—”

She began to flush a deep red as the acts of the previous night suddenly appeared in a very different light. Everything she had done. Everything she had let him do to her. The way he had turned her into a quivering, moaning mess of need and desire. “Oh, stinking pits of Angband—” the prince and regent of Gondolin muttered, dazed with total humiliation now at the memory, her stomach churning.

“Yes, I knew it was you, cundunya. And I cannot tell you how wondrous it was,” said the golden lord of Gondolin with a luminous smile at the memory. “There are no words for how amazing—how awesome—you were last night—”

At that the Lord of the Mole advanced on the Lord of the Golden Flower with blazing eyes and a hiss, and lunged at him with the knives.

As he jumped away from the slashing blades, Glorfindel wondered if it was ever possible for him to say the right thing.

“You bloody bastard!” Maeglin said in a voice choked with fury.

“I admit it,” said Glorfindel dodging one blade as it whizzed close to his face and jumping back from another aimed lower down. “I can assure you, however, that I am not Turukáno’s.”

“I am going to kill you,” she snarled, “you misbegotten son of a troll!!”

Cundunya—please, do not be angry.” Glorfindel, still completely mystified by her reaction, narrowly missed a stroke that would have disembowelled him. “I thought—I thought you wanted it as much as I did last night—and that you found pleasure in it as I did—you certainly sounded like you did—”

At that, the Lord of the Mole snarled some vehement and highly colourful invectives and sent the Lord of the Golden Flower dodging behind a tree with a series of very purposeful knife strokes.

Glorfindel looked out from behind the tree at her in awe.

“By the mountain of Manwë!” he said admiringly, “you are magnificent when you’re angry!”

A knife came whizzing at him, and he dodged it as it slammed into another tree behind him. That would have gone right into his eye, he thought, as he pulled the blade out of the wood. She meant business.

“Who else have you told, you louse-infested warg-kisser?” Maeglin demanded, her face hot with shame.

“Only Elrond, and he thinks I am insane,” said Glorfindel. “And I have never had a louse in my life.” He held out the hilt of her knife to her in what he hoped was a conciliatory manner.

She looked as though she would explode. “Stick it up your ass!” she snarled, scowling ferociously. “You arrogant prick!” She lunged at him again.

Retreating hastily, he tucked her knife into his belt. “Tell me when you want it back.”

“Don’t patronize me! You always patronized me.” Her remaining blade whizzed close to his ear.

He gaped at her as he dodged the knife. “Lómion, no! I never did—I never meant to.”

“With sword, or bow, or unarmed combat—you were always the superior one, and I the backward pupil you could be charitable to.” The knife slashed close again. They went dancing deeper into the woods. “Did it amuse you, to behold me returned thus by Námo? Did you come so oft to the smithy to glory in my weakness? My abasement? A frail nís dependent on your chivalry?” She spat out the words in rage.

Glorfindel’s eyes widened in shock and his mouth dropped open in horror. He was speechless. The next vicious slash almost got him in the gonads.

“Yet I would not have imagined you could stoop so low as to make a mockery and pretence of love. A game well played, Golden Flower. Your act almost took me in.” Slash. Her eyes flashed angrily with golden fire, as last night now seemed nothing more than the ultimate humiliation at the hands of an enemy.

“No! It was never that! Never! I love you, I truly do,” protested poor Glorfindel, keeping just out of reach of the blade.

“How diverting you must have found it, to connive to add the prince of Gondolin to your countless conquests. Was the revenge sweet? Did you relish the challenge? You will not get to display the trophy, you lowlife scum of Angband!” Her face was flushed with mortification and rage. “Death is too good for you!” Slash slash.

“Lómion—Lómiel—” He was at his wits’ end with desperation. “What must I do to prove to you that I love you?”

“Give it up, filth. The game is over.”

They had come to the banks of the Bruinen. Abruptly, he came to a standstill. She gasped as she almost disembowelled him, her blade swerving just in time.

“Very well, game over,” he said. “Finish this. I will not run.”

Glowering, her eyes still flickering with fire, she took a step forward and pointed the blade at his heart. Her hand held steady, but she did not move.

“Go ahead,” he said. “I shall not hold it against you, as I do not hold the first.” His eyes were blue-grey and serious. “I mean it. If you will not have me, I would rather be with Námo till the Second Music.”

The blade wavered. She lowered the knife, her eyes narrowed. “You contemptible worm. Do you mock me still?” Then suddenly, she aimed a violent punch at his jaw, which he blocked, eliciting a curse from her.

“Sorry, instinct,” he apologized. “I’ll not dodge the next one. I promise.”

She stepped back, glaring at him distrustfully, angrily. “Condescending muk,” she growled.

“Almighty, everlasting Eru!!” burst out Glorfindel in despair. “Strike me, stab me! What would give you satisfaction? What can I do to prove my love for you? Drown myself in the Bruinen? Cut off my hand?”

“Too easy! Cut off your hair!” she shot back.

“Fine!” Azure eyes flashing, he grabbed a handful of his tresses, whipped out her knife, and hacked it off.

She gasped in horror as the golden lock fell upon the grassy riverbank, dropped her knife to the ground, and lunged forward to grab his knife hand.

“Stop it! Are you insane?” She grappled with him as he tried to cut off another lock. “I’ll kill you!”

“You want to kill me for cutting my hair and I am insane?”

“You crazy bastard! Don’t do it!”

“You told me to!” They fell over onto the grass as they struggled together.

“I never thought you would!”

“Do you believe me now?”

“Damn you! Is this another trick of yours?”

“I love you, my prince! If you want my hair before you’ll believe it, you can have it!”

“Stop it! Stop!” She wrenched the knife out from his hand and threw it aside. And as she lay panting on his chest, his arms closed around her. “Let me go, you crazy muk!” She struggled violently.

“Not until you believe that I love you!” As she attempted to manoeuver herself out of his embrace, Glorfindel said, “That won’t work. I taught you how to do that, melmenya.”

Shut up!! Stop calling me that. You hated me.”

“No, it was you who hated me, Lómion. I tried so hard to be friends—well, for the first fifty years, at least.” As she attempted to knee him in the groin, he shifted her body so that her back lay against him, and she found herself gazing at the high blue sky.

“Do not pretend that you even liked me,” she said, her arms pinned to her sides, but kicking viciously at his legs with her heels.

“Yes, my prince. I disliked you very much.” He kissed the sensitive spot on her neck just by her ear. “Always scowling.” Kiss. “No sense of humour.” Kiss.

She began to flush with something quite different from anger.

“Stop it! This is—just—revolting. There is no way this is ever going to work.”

“That is not going to stop me from trying,” he said, leaning the side of his head against hers.

“I hate you, Flower,” she said, but in so toneless a voice she might have been saying the opposite.

“I know, Mole,” he said gently. “But I will always love you.”

“Shut up! You cannot!

“Cannot what?” he said gently into her silken black hair.

“Cannot love me.”

“But I do.” He hugged her more tightly, and planted a noisy, wet kiss on her cheek.

Stop that!” She squirmed and tried to elbow him in the ribs. “Can you not see how wrong this is?”

“Hmm…” he pretended to think. “No. Not at all. Not anymore.”

“The hero and the traitor,” she said bitterly.

“A lifetime ago, and far away. It does not matter.”

She stopped struggling. “Surely you must hate me for…for what I did.”

At that, he gently rolled her off him, turned her to face him, and looked deep into her black, haunted eyes. His fair face was solemn.

“No,” he said softly. “I do not.”

And he captured her mouth in a deep and tender kiss.

A huge piece of darkness that had weighed on her soul for six millennia fell away from her in that moment and vanished into the abyss in the depths of the Halls of Mandos.

And when he kissed her again, she kissed him back.


Mid-morning. Arms wrapped around each other, they sat leaning against the trunk of a great oak tree, and the music of the Bruinen was loud in their ears.

“And did that please you, my prince?” he asked, as he kissed her.

“It was tremendous,” she said against his mouth, as she kissed him back. “Absolutely epic. We should do it again.”

“We certainly should. But I wondered—would you like to join the festivities today? There will be food and dances and games from Gondolin…I know you care not for dances nor games, but you might like the food. There should be a wonderful smoked duck done just as you liked it.”

She looked at him in surprise. “How did you know I like smoked duck?”

“It was the only thing you ever took second helpings of, at the King’s table. No, I’m wrong. You also occasionally took seconds of boneless roast veal. Medium rare. They will have that too.”

She was silent, her fingers drawing patterns on his chest. “Go if you wish. I will remain in the hills.”

“I will go only if you do!”

“You wish for revelry, and song, and merry companionship. And I know you desire to take part in the games. Go! Do not stay away for my sake.”

He knew her impassive face was a mask for unhappiness. “I wish only to be with you. And I do not care if we do not dance or play games—”

She sighed. “I will not go. Elrohir will claim a dance, and I weary at the thought of having to refuse him. He will be persistent, I know.”

Glorfindel looked deeply discomfited. “I must ask. Who is Elrohir to you?”

Maeglin looked at him and quirked an eyebrow. “A friend.”

“And no more?”

Her mouth curled in a familiar smirk. “A handsome and charming friend.”

Glorfindel’s eyes darkened to violet. “I see.”

“He swore he would lift me bodily, carry me onto the sward, and make me join the dances.”

The blue eyes flashed. “If he tries to lift you bodily, I will lift him bodily and drop him into the pond!”

“Is the Lord of the Golden Flower jealous?”

“Have I not reason to be?”

As her obsidian eyes gazed at him, she did not speak for a moment, so strange did it feel to have their roles reversed, he now jealous as she had once been of him, and she wished to savour it for a while. But so tender did her heart feel towards him that morning that she could not find it in herself to torment him longer. “Be at ease. Elrohir is naught to me but a friend, and I to him. Perhaps I intrigue him. Perhaps he likes that I do not desire him to make love to me, as other elfmaids might. But I am no more to him than Arwen is, I believe.”

Relief and gladness washed over Glorfindel. “I shall speak to him when we return, to make certain.”

“No, do not!”

He looked at her quizzically.

“Do not expose our secret.”

It was his turn to raise an eyebrow. “Secret?”

She looked back at him and did not reply. Then looking away, she took up the lock of hair he had shorn off, and began plaiting part of it into a thin, intricate five-stranded braid.

“You do not wish it to be known?” he asked. “But why?”

“It is none of their business. It is no one’s business but yours and mine.”

“It is not because you are not sure of me?”

“It is not.” She frowned. “I hate the thought of the furore it would cause. The nuisance of the endless questions and fussing.”

“Secret lovers it is, then. Rather exciting.” He kissed her, and as they sat shoulder to shoulder, he watched her clever fingers plaiting the slender lock of his hair. “I thought you hated braiding.”

“My own hair, yes. I have nothing against braiding itself. I would never attempt your head, though. I could not better how you do it.” She looked at him appraisingly, and her hand went out to the ragged ends of the tress he had cut off, lying against his cheek. “I still cannot believe you did it.”

He was amazed at how doleful she sounded. “It is hair, meldanya. It will grow back.”

“How will you explain it? There will be cries of horror. It will be the subject of talk for weeks. You know what the household is like.”

He smiled. “I will tuck the ends into a braid, never fear. At the worst, I’ll tell everyone I had an accident.”

The braid she was working on was now a long, slender strand. He took it from her, tied it into a little noose and looped it playfully around her right forefinger.

“With this ring I bless, I wed thee. With my body, I worship thee…” he said, only half in play.

She was silent as the ancient words of blessing hung in the air, and stared at the bright ring of gold on her finger. “So much brighter than any metal could ever be,” she murmured.

“I love you, vesseya.”

There followed a silence that lingered so long it became awkward. “I believe you,” she said finally. And slipped the noose off her finger.

He did not say anything. Taking the braid from her, and drawing a blade, he cut it shorter and wove the ends of the braids together skilfully till a golden ring was formed. Then he casually slipped it back onto her ring finger.

She gently touched the soft golden ring that glowed on her hand. And though she left it on this time, she said, “I cannot wear it before others.”

“It matters not. Do as pleases you.” He shrugged nonchalantly and gave a smile that betrayed no hurt nor anger.

She carefully coiled the remnants of the tress of golden hair and tucked it away into a pouch.

“What will you do with that?”

“What would Fëanáro have done with Artanis’ hair had she bestowed it? I know not yet, but I shall find a use for it,” said the smith.

“What shall we do now? If you will not to the house, shall we away to the hills?” There was a mischievous sparkle in his eyes as he added, “We could go for a swim beneath a waterfall as we did once before.”

She gave him a lazy, wicked, feline smile. “That sounds heavenly. But it can wait,” she said, leaning towards him. Her long, slender fingers trailed down his bare torso. “First, we need more of the tremendous and the absolutely epic.”

And he had no objection to that.


Glossary

Fae & rhaw (S) – spirit & body. It seems to me that the Quenya fëa and hröa are more universally used, thus I’ve opted for that in the narration.

Ego (S) – Get lost

Melin tyë (Q) – I love you

Cundunya (Q) – my prince

Melmenya (Q) – my love

Nís (Q) - female

Meldanya (Q) – beloved

Vesseya (Q) – dear wife

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