Author's note: Certainly not as good as I would have wished it to be.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Don't you find that disclaimers have a disturbing way of resisting all my attempts at trying to give them the smallest bit of originality?
By Le Chat Noir
Never have I wandered as far from the House.
It is getting lighter and lighter by the minute. We ride now at a pace, and there are small spots of something that is not fireflies dancing already between the dark branches. Another kind of fire seems to be blazing above the treetops themselves; a steady light that is of pale gold, and not the burning crimson of dancing fire, but rather drops of honey-rain. I feel a strange feeling of dread creeping slowly into my heart, and my horse must have sensed my fear too, for I can feel the tension in its back. Absently, I run soothing fingers in its mane. My eyes are irresistibly drawn to the eerie spots of gold and silver mixed that appear and disappear as the wind rustles the leaves, and the dust raised by the passage of our horses can be seen in what look like solid shapes, but yet as they fall upon my face and arms all I feel is warmth. An unknown kind of warmth.
But your face is serene, mother, and there is a smile that is not sad on your face. Your calm appeases my rising panic. Maybe, maybe I can recognize a little of that light now, maybe I've seen it already, maybe I've had seen it all along, and have only mistaken it for the stars in your eyes.
Their play on my skin is intriguing. They linger not, their light step half-felt on my clothes, and yet they burn my eyes when I gaze at them too intensely. I can see them as golden threads strung across the air. Hesitantly, I reach out, and try to snatch them into being. But when I warily open my tight fist again, fearing what I may find enclosed in it, there is nothing. You laugh, your delightful, cheerful laugh. I blush furiously at my own childishness. Oh mother, I could spend days and days just listening to you laughing. Is it that kind of happiness I perceive in your laughter that fills the air of Gondolin fairer than the song of the dripping water? Or is it but you, mother, who can laugh like that?
But as I lift my gaze the branches of the trees are beginning to spread looser. There are blinding spots of white between the leaves, which from dark are growing into shades of green and gold. Green… it is a color I have seldom seen before. It is a beautiful one, and pleasant to the eye. But these pale blue areas in the heights forbid me to stare any longer, and I look away quickly, only to feel my gaze be drawn to them again. My eyes are yet unaccustomed to such light, but I have never seen the sky in daylight before.
However, suddenly, clenching my teeth, I have to close my eyes and turn my head away, shunning the light, for the shelter of the trees has vanished and the light is too strong. There is a burning ball of white fire there up in the heights. It feels like a dagger has been run through my pupils, and for a second I am sure to be blind. My steed has patently never beheld such a thing before either, and pulls up abruptly, nearly throwing me off my seat, and neighs in the most frightened way. Suddenly gone wild, it turns around and gallops away into the dark forest again. I have to bend my head and bury my face in its mane to avoid being whipped by the low branches, only half-succeeding. I try to pull on the reins, shouting at it to stop, but the animal won't heed my commands. I hear the dry leaves crackling under its hooves and flying around us in the mad whirlwind raised by its gallop.
And I yell, not even hearing my own voice, but eventually it is not because I have ordered it to that the horse stops. As I jump down from its back, I can feel the sweat on its robe. Passing a hand through my hair with difficulty, I try to untangle the knots in it somewhat, and find with a grimace that several dry leaves and blades of grass, and even a branch, have succeeded into getting stuck in it. Now in an officially bad mood, I seized the reins with a firm grasp, and try to pull the animal forwards, to the north again.
But the horse stays firmly put on the ground, refusing to move, just like a donkey would. After a minute if pulling as hard as I could, to no account, I finally gave up, feeling a sweat drop on my forehead. I angrily throw the reins away.
"Fine. Looks like I'll be going faster without you anyway."
Shoving my hands into my pockets , I stride away. But soon, as I begin to see the dancing white spots again, suspended in the air, my pace slows down, and I feel thousands gazes in the forest watching me, unseen by even my piercing eyes. I stop to listen, but there is nothing to be heard except my own breath, and the beating of my heart.
There is a song rising from the interlaced branches of darkness. I feel like I recall that song, from long, long ago, somewhere, but yet I am sure I've never heard it. Was that the lullaby you used to sing to me, mother, when I was a baby in the cradle? It is not a human voice; but something sweeter, like a silver flute's; and suddenly I realize, it must be the songbird's call. You had told me about these, my mother, you had told me about the nightingales in the King's garden, and yet I had never imagined something so fair and simple and ringing so clear. Even the birds had flown the dark cover of Nan Elmoth when the shadow grew. Even the birds. I listen still, bewitched by the gently rising melody, and then a note, high-perched, one note in the harmony, opens my eyes again and reminds me to walk on; and for a moment I fear no more.
Under the light I stand, blinking, my eyes slowly adjusting to the new blinding sun. Half my body stays still in the shadows, and I feel too cowardly to take a step and come in the full blaze of sunlight. Again I feel warmth against my skin, and I lift my face, with lips half-parted, and maybe I'm trying to drink the sunrays as rich hydromel.
I am barely aware of you taking my hand, and gently pulling me forwards, and I guess more that I see the smile on your face. Precautious, I take some wary steps on the fresh, green grass, following your lead like one with no will.
I see dimly the colors surrounding me, vivid, flashing, so live…
The Sun, the Sun, Anar the Maia, how long have I yearned to look her in the face? How long have I spent trying to imagine her, through the legends and lore? How long have I longed, longed for this day to come? And, and…
You hold my hand no more, and yet I walk on still, staring at the sky, until I can walk no more. And then I fall to my knees.
There is something in my throat and in my head that I cannot define.
Covering my face with my hands in a trembling gesture, I feel the moist tears down my cheeks, and suddenly I laugh, for no reason, I laugh, and like a puppet with no strings I fall on the carpet of grass and flowers. It is all the tears I have never cried and all the laughs I have never laughed that now come pouring out in an unstoppable flood of no sadness nor joy. Yes, under the trees of Nan Elmoth hope can only be bitter, but then today under the sunlight it is the thin thread of hope I had nourished with such care that burns to ashes with its fire.
Yet long as I have yearned to see her, as I have thought her to be the cure to my illness, today I understand that the thirst I have is none that the bright Anar can quench, and I stand not relieved, but vanquished under the white and golden light, for the fire that burns inside me is not that of the Sun.
And slowly my mirthless laugh turns into that of a madman's.
1 – Er, I don't know if elven robes would have pockets…
Sorry for the long wait, but the darn horse was being more cooperative than Maeglin… who absolutely refused to be written. I had to spend hours persuading him that it wasn't that bad, but I hate lying to my characters. Then he accepted, but then insisted on having the story go his own way. This chapter did not come out at all like I expected it to; apparently Maedhros and Maglor are not the only ones who like taking over plots.
Next chapter in Aredhel's POV; just hope it will be better than this one. ::cringe::