"I didn't think Queen Melian would be feeling too
friendly towards me after we broke our news so I
decided I'd better have that private talk with her
first." Beren continued wryly.
***

He eventually, by dint of much searching and much
asking, ran the Queen to ground above ground. In a
hemlock grove not far from the gates of Menegroth,
sitting by a fountain at its heart. She looked up from
the water at his approach and he bowed.

"My Lady, today in hall I asked you a question -
one unfitted to that time and place for which I
apologize. Now I would ask again, in private. Have you
seen why I was brought here?"

"How could I?" he was stunned by the bitterness in
her voice. "You know more of the One who brought you
here than I. I can only guess at His will."

Beren blinked in shock. "But..but you're a Maia -
one of His Holy Ones. You've seen His face, dwelt with
Him in High Heaven!"

"Long, long ago." she said, still more bitterly.
"In a memory that has faded. Now the Walls of the
World are between us and our Father. We are bound to
Arda and cannot to reach beyond it. The One is become
a stranger to us - save for Manwe who can still ask
for His guidance, but is not always answered."

"Like the Elves." Beren said flatly. "Only worse
because you know what you've lost." wonderingly. "Is
the World really worth such a sacrifice?"

"If you had seen the Vision shaped by the Music you
would not ask that." and for a moment the wonder shone
again in her face, then the light went out. "But that
was before Morgoth, before the Marring."

"Which brings us back to why He brought me through
the Dungortheb to throw me at Tinuviel's feet. What
does it mean? What does He want of us, her and me?"

"That I do not know. All I know is you will take my
daughter away from me, from her father, from her
people." Tears brimmed over in her eyes and rolled
down her face.

Beren's heart ached with pity. He understood loss
very well, too well. "Only for a time. A very short
time by your measure. When I am gone she will need
your love, your comfort more than ever."

Melian shook her head. "No. We have lost her."
***

"She was right." Luthien said in a hard, cold
voice. "I will never go back to Doriath. I will never
see or speak to her or my father again. Not after what
they did to us."

"Tinuviel -"

"Why do you keep making excuses for them, for
*him*?" she demanded passionately. Bitterly to Emeldir
and her new sister and brother by marriage. "My father
raved like a madman when we told him about us. He said
terrible things, unforgiveable things. Called Beren a
thrall - a spy of the Enemy - things he knew weren't
true!"

"Along with things that were all too true," Beren
said ruefully, "I *am* mortal and I *was* landless,
and homeless, with nothing at all to offer any woman,
much less the Princess of Doriath." to his mother.
"Not that I wasn't angry myself at the time, but
looking back I see Thingol's point. He was just being
a father."

"I will never forgive him." Luthien said, trembling
with barely contained rage. "Never, never, never! Nor
my mother either. She just sat there and listened,
didn't try to help us at all!"
****

Thingol knew he was raving, could see the
unbelieving horror in his daughter's eyes, the stern
reproach in his wife's but he couldn't stop himself.
How dared this - this - *mortal* this *mayfly* raise
his eyes to Luthien Thingolien, Princess of Doriath!

There he stood, the mere Man who'd somehow stolen
the heart of Thingol's only child, cold and silent and
formidable. There had to be some way to be rid of the
creature. Surely once he was gone Luthien would come
to her senses! Then suddenly Thingol knew how. Luthien
was his Jewel, the great treasure of Doriath. Very
well then he'd demand a Gem of equal value as her
bride price. A Silmaril from the crown of Morgoth
himself.

And the Man laughed, of all possible reactions the
most unthinkable - and terrifying. "You hold your
daughter cheap, Thingol, to be willing to trade her
for a cold, dead gem, a mere thing of craft. But if a
Silmaril is your price than a Silmaril I will get for
you. Await my return," the Man's pale eyes blazed into
Thingol's with a contained anger somehow more terrible
than any open wrath could ever be. "and never doubt
that I *shall* return, O King."

Then he turned his cold gaze on Melian, and it
softened with something very like pity. The Queen met
it for a long moment, then bowed her head.

Finally Beren turned to Luthien, bent to kiss her
hand. "Don't worry, Sweetheart, it'll be all right."
and walked out of Melian's morning room without so
much as a final glance at Thingol.

Luthien gave him a look almost of hatred, then ran
after the Man. He turned to Melian to find his wife's
eyes swimming with tears.

"Oh Elu, what have you done!"
****

"The bastard." Emeldir said flatly.

"Yes." Luthien agreed, grimly.

"No." Beren said firmly. "You're both being
unfair." to his mother. "King Thingol knows nothing
about Men, I'm the only one he's ever met, and so had
no way of knowing what mad, stubborn creatures we are.
He thought I'd give up and go away. He never dreamed
I'd accept his condition."

Emeldir smiled unwillingly. "No, I don't suppose he
did." arched that left eyebrow again. "Not a very
sensible thing for you to do, my son."

"Don't I know it!" Beren agreed with fervor. "But I
was just as angry as he was - and just as much to
blame for what followed."

Luthien snorted. "I was terrified, afraid I'd never
see Beren again, that he'd get himself killed trying
to meet my father's demands."
***

"Beren! Beren!" He stopped, waited for her to catch
up with him. "Where are you going?"

"Nargothrond." he said flatly, then seemed to come
back to himself and smiled at her. "To King Finrod. We
Beorings always take our troubles to him."

Luthien let out a sigh of relief. "Oh yes, that's a
good idea." her cousin was so wise, so reasonable he'd
keep Beren from doing anything foolish *and* find some
way out of this mess. "Finrod will know what to do."

"That's what I think too." Beren agreed. Then his
face went serious, hands tightening on her shoulders.
"I *am* coming back, Tinuviel. Never doubt that."

"I won't." she promised.