The Man in the hooded cloak stood quietly at the open Hall door, waiting. A woman came out to him, young and very beautiful with long dark hair tied back and a face flushed from kitchen heat. "I am Morwen daughter of Baragund," she said politely, "how may I serve you kinsman?" "Impossible!" the Man said solemnly. "Morwen daughter of Baragund is a skinny little girl with eyes too big for her face and freckles on her nose!" The Woman's eyes, which were indeed very large and beautiful, widened in shock. "Beren!" And the Man laughed and pushed back his hood. There were grey threads in the golden brown hair and beard, and lines that would have become the face of a much older Man but the smile, like the voice, belonged to the cousin she remembered. She put out her hands to feel if he was real. "Is it truly you?" "None other." he brushed away a tear with a gentle finger then tapped her nose playfully. "But what about those freckles? I'm sure I remember freckles." "Buttermilk does wonders for the complexion." she answered drily, then: "Oh, Beren, we feared you were dead!" He frowned in concern. "Didn't you get my letter?" "Yes indeed, two full years ago! And not a word since." "I'm sorry," he apologized, "but I had things to do." smiled. "Courting my wife for one." Following the direction of his nod Morwen saw a sleander cloaked figure by the opening in the stockade fence, a giant hound at her side. "And you leave her standing at the gate," she said scandalized, "what will she think of us?" "At the moment she's much more nervous about what you will think of her." Beren's mouth quirked in tender amusement. Dropping his voice he added confidentially. "She's terrified of meeting Mother" Morwen snorted gently. "I don't blame her, anybody'd be afraid of Aunt Emeldir." He nodded ruefully. "I shouldn't have told Luthien so much about her." Morwen disagreed. "She had to be warned. Well don't leave her standing out there, Beren, bring her in." "Forgive me, little Cousin, but I am impatient to see Mother and the rest of the family. Do they live close enough for us to make it there by nightfall?" Her face softened. "Of course I understand. The homestead is about five leagues from here, you should make it easily. Just follow the road, cross the bridge over the Nen Lalaith and a mile or so beyond that the path forks into four tracks, take the westernmost." "Thank you, Morwen." he kissed her. "I expect to see you both again very soon," she warned, "not tomorrow perhaps, but no longer than the second day after!" Beren smiled. "You have my word." *** "What if your mother doesn't like me?" Luthien jittered. Beren sighed. "She's going love you." he said patiently for the hundreth time. "I don't see why she should." added drily: "After all my father didn't like you." Beren grinned. Now there was an understatement if ever there was one. His Elven wife was developing an almost Mortal sense of humor. "You saved her son's life three times over, or is it four? she'll adore you for that alone." "Even when she learns it's my fault you were in danger in the first place?" Beren deliberately avoided reopening the old argument. "Mother's never minded danger, for herself or her children." Huan thrust his great head under Luthien's hand, she stroked it smiling wanly. "Yes, Huan, I understand. Worrying does no good but I can't seem to help myself." "Can this be the heroine who confronted Sauron and the Dark Lord himself?" Beren teased. "That was quite different," she said crisply. "I wasn't proposing to become their daughter and live in their house." "I should hope not!" her husband laughed, continued tenderly. "Dearling, I admit you're not exactly what my mother had in mind for a daughter-in-law, but I don't think she'll have any strong objection to the prospect." "I hope you're right." Luthien replied, but went on worrying silently. If only she didn't feel so hopelessly inadequate. She'd made Beren teach her the rudiments of the Beorian tongue on their journey to Dor-Lomin but she couldn't really claim to speak it. And her husband was the only Mortal Man she'd ever known. She knew nothing of their ways or customs, neither what a Mortal mother would expect of her son's wife nor how to live in a household of Men. But she was sure everything she did know; music and dance and the ways of power, would be useless to her now. She blinked back tears of frustration, grateful for the hood overshadowing her face. Beren on the other hand had known exactly how to conduct himself at the court of Menegroth. Dispite the Northern Sindarin her father so despised his manners had been perfect, equal to those of any Eldarin Lord, she'd been so proud of him. She could only pray she'd be able to make him as proud of her. But Beren had known many Elves. He'd been fostered as a boy by Angrod and Aegnor, and often visited Finrod at Nargothrond. He knew her people as well as he knew his own. She on the other hand had almost never set foot outside the bounds of Doriath, until two years ago, nor known any people but her father's Sindarin subjects save only for her part Noldo cousins. Bleakly she admitted she had only herself to blame. She'd been perfectly happy to dream away the long years of her life sheltered by the power of her mother and father. She could have taken more of an interest in the world beyond Doriath's borders but had chosen not to. Why she'd never even bothered to exchange a word with one the Naugrim craftsmen who came from time to time to make things for her father! What a self-centered little fool she'd been. She raised her head to look at Beren's back as he walked ahead of her, smiled ruefully. And then the Man had come and shattered her beautiful, safe, empty little world. Introducing her to love, anguish, terror, despair, and a piercing joy that made her previous happiness look like the pallid, sickly thing it was. She'd been dreaming all of her life but now she was awake, not only awake but vividly and vibrantly alive. These few years with Beren were worth more than all of the thousands she'd existed without him. She'd given up her rank, her parents, her home for him and never regretted it for a moment, nor would she - ever. Her chin lifted. Was she not her mother's daughter? had not Melian the Maia left her country and her people and subjected herself to the pangs and trials of living flesh all for the sake of Elu Thingol? Luthien Tinuviel would do no less. She belonged to the Folk of Beor now. She would learn how to live as a Mortal Woman, to be a good daughter to her new family and good wife to her husband. And they would be happy. *** They reached the homestead before dark, as the westering sun dyed the land gold and sent the long black shadows of trees and stockade fence streaming eastward. To Beren's eye the house, though built of timber rather than stone like the Lord's Hall at Ladros, looked pleasant and comfortable but what must Luthien, Princess of Doriath, think of it? "It is not the Halls of Menegroth." he said apologetically. "Nor a brushwood hut with a leaky roof." she answered with a dry, sidelong look. He grinned a little. She was right of course a proper house, however lacking royal splendor, was a great improvement over the way they had been living these past two years. A Man came out of the stables, saw them and crossed the yard towards them. Beren's breath caught and his heart skipped a beat. For a moment it seemed to him that Barahir had come back to life, not as the aging Man he had last seen but in the full glory of his young manhood, and was coming now to meet his new daughter. Then sanity returned and he realized who this must be. "Bregon." His younger brother came to a full stop, eyes widening, breathed: "Beren?" He put back his hood, smiled, and Bregon covered the remaining ground between them in a rush to enfold his elder brother in a fierce, bone crushing hug. Beren returned it on the verge of tears. The slight stripling of fifteen he remembered was gone forever. In the six years since he'd last seen him his brother had grown into a Man as tall as himself with the same powerful build, but dark haired like their father and with Barahir's face. "Two years!" Bregon was choking. "Two years without a word! What were you thinking, Brother?" "I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I was busy." "Busy!" Bregon pulled away to glare at him. "With what?" With winning myself a wife for one." Startled Bregon looked at Luthien. He couldn't see much of her, between the lenghtening shadows and enfolding cloak, but he smiled. "In that case all is forgiven. Welcome, Sister." *********************************************** NOTE: The chronology of the First Age is, to say the least, fluid the Professor never having made a final decision in the matter. I have chosen to blend the two chronologies using the earlier dates for Beren's meeting with Luthien and their quests together and the later for their return to Doriath and first deaths, thus making time for a long sojourn among the Beorings in Dor-Lomin. My chronology: 460: Barahir and his companions slain, Beren avenges them by killing the Orc band responsible and carries on the fight single handed. 462: Major offensive by Morgoth, barely checked by the Elves and Men of Hithlum and Dor-Lomin. Beren driven from Dorthonion. 463: Meets Luthien and they fall in love. Their secret meetings are betrayed by Daeron and Thingol sets his bride-price. 464: First attempt with Finrod Felagund and a company of twelve Elves of Nargothrond. Captured by Sauron and all the company slain except for Beren who is rescued by Luthien and Huan. 465: Beren and Luthien together venture into Angband and suceed in cutting a Silmaril from Morgoth's crown but Beren loses the jewel and his hand to Carcaroth. Rescued by the Eagles Luthien nurses Beren back to health. Having fulfilled Thingol's condition, even if they've lost the Jewel, they consumate their marriage at last and decide to make their home among Beren's people.