Aaaah, Elu Thingol, arguably the winner of Middle-Earth's annual Meanest Old Bastard contest the entire First Age in a row (after Feanor died, anyway). I feel so very guilty for liking the jerk. Hopefully, people won't look at me that funny after this piece.

Rejoin the Dance

A tale of the hidden kingdom of Doriath, as derived from the Silmarillion, translated from the Elven tongues by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Historian's note: takes place a number of months after the first death of Luthien Tinuviel, only daughter of Thingol and Melian.

I saw her again today out of the high window overlooking the woods. She was dancing, ribbons and veils swirling in rhythm about her flawless form, nightingales accompanying her as she moved. There was a certain light upon her that I am not sure I can describe, as if she was more alive than usual, if that is even possible. I have no illusions that she may be celebrating, nay, I cannot think she is happy at all. But there is an acceptance in the way she faces the storm that glows in her eyes like sunshine, and is most painfully clear when I look into them, and see my own fading, almost unfamiliar reflection.

She dances a lot of late, and always when I am there to see it.

It is as if she is trying to say something that cannot be conveyed in words, or perhaps she has tried words already in one of the times I was not listening. I listen to her less and less, she says it will be my downfall eventually.

Naturally, she knows, Melian the Wise.

I wonder what she thinks, dancing before me, because she must know I am watching. What is this secret that she has and cannot share with me in plain words? Does she think I will not understand it? Possibly that is what she thinks, my all-knowing Melian. There is such pity in her eyes when she looks at me, but no less pity than in the eyes of all my people. Poor King Thingol, miserable, old King Thingol, who no longer speaks, no longer eats or sleeps unless made to, who wastes away as a mortal man, body and spirit failing, soon to join his dead daughter over the sea.

Luthien! Your mother dances alone here in the mortal lands…

I tried to be angry with Melian, but I cannot. Her beauty as she dances is beyond anything to be seen in those vast lands, save perhaps that accursed jewel the accursed human who ensnared my Luthien brought here. Small price, he said! Toward him, I do feel anger, the only feeling I seem to have left other than melancholy, slow and eating at the spirit. I hate him with a passion I thought Elves were not capable of. All of my soul is spent on hating him, and longing for my child, I feel it gnawing at me constantly.

Except when Melian dances.

It has been a while. She dances again.

She did not dance at first, she did as I have, sat in the darkness and wept for mouths at end. I did not know the Maiar could shed tears, but I did not know I could shed as many tears as I have. Yet she came out of the darkness, walked out of her room, and washed and ate and clad herself in fine robes, and now she lives. And me… they had to force me to do all of those. They still do sometimes.

Sometimes… when I remember Luthien. I would look on something I have seen a thousand times before, a window, a tree, an intersection of corridors, and recall how she would sit by that window, or climb that tree, or hide behind the corner and leap out to surprise me. And then time stops, and I could stand there for days.

At those times, and when Melian dances. Then sometimes I forget.

Does she dance to sooth my pain? Has she conquered her own?

Does she not realize how much sharper it makes the pain when I see her smile?

Luthien… your mother smiles anew…

And I do not, and I do not know if I could ever smile again.

Except when Melian dances.

When she dances, the world stands still. There is no movement but that of her colorful veils, her slender limbs. There is no sound other than the music of the Lomelindi. The air takes on a sweetness, a clearness that I remember distantly from years ago in Nan Elmoth, the darkness of the woods of Doriath becomes deep, dreamlike, soft like velvet or a lover's caress. When she dances, she is so alive everything around her is, and I seem to stop dying, just for a few precious moments. She dances and I can feel the youth of the Eldar flowing anew in my veins, the weight of cruel mortality fall from my bowed head and powerless shoulders. She dances, and I am alive, until I recall how my beautiful Luthien, my lost Luthien, whom I have loved more than the treasures of vast Arda, danced as Melian does, in days too lovely and distant to matter.

It brings the tears back, every time.

She does it again, as she does almost every day now, slipping out of Menegroth and disappearing in the woods to dance. She knows I follow her every time now. I do not know why, why I insist on picking in the open wound, but the tears are real, the tears I expect, and they banish the feeling of age and weariness for a while. I would weep to the end of Arda if I could, but now I fear I would die as a mortal man before my tears are spent.

I follow her slowly into the woods. The guards at the gate smile slightly at each other as I pass, pleased to see me leave my chambers. I look out into the woods, frowning, trying to see her as she plays with the shadows. She runs through the darkness of the forest, and I run with her.

I tire quickly. Once I was strong, and could have caught up to her and sped past her, laughing as I do, hearing her laugh behind me. Now I gasp for air, barely seeing her between the trees. The silvery circlet worn for a crown weights heavy, I tear it from my brow and cast it aside. I cast the ash-gray cloak, long my namesake. Branches tear at my clothes and skin and catch my loose hair; cold wind slaps at my face. I hear Melian's swift footsteps racing seconds ahead of me, but I cannot see her, she fades in the shadows of the trees.

I pursue her to a clearing in the heart of the woods, and there I collapse in helpless exhaustion.

Then she stands before me, and she dances.

She dances the air back into my chest, the swiftness back to my weary feet, she dances the darkness away from the woods…

She dances the life back to my kingdom and the life back into my heart…

For one moment, one moment in which I am happy…

Then I remember Luthien.

The breath catches in my throat, and I fall, seeking to bury my face in the ground, but she dances no more. She comes towards me, and she takes me in her arms, and she whispers in my ear in her voice that is like the song of the Lomelindi…

"Elu, beloved, this is life: sometimes you may weep, but you must join the dance."

And before I can understand those words, she grasps my hand firmly in hers, and she leads me forward into the clearing…

And we dance.

Hours, maybe days later, we return hand in hand to the gates of Menegroth. The guards at the gate smile as they see us together. Perhaps they notice the change in my eyes.

We walk into our palace, and then we part. Melian takes her own path down the corridors. She is weeping.

But I walk the other way, and I sing quietly to myself, one of the songs Luthien would sing when she would happy, and dance to her own tune.

I sing because I am alive; tired, old and burdened with sorrow beyond imagining, I am alive, and sooner or later, I will have to join the dance anew.

Tomorrow I may have to lead Melian into the woods, make her run after me until she feels her heart pound and her lungs labor and the wind on her face, then dance with her in the darkness until we chase the shadows away. Tomorrow, or maybe in a few more days, after she has wept, and her own time comes to dance.

And maybe in time, after we have wept and danced enough, I can feel young again, I can feel the life renewed in my soul, feel that I will go on living. And perhaps, in some distant day, when Melian and I dance in the woods, we would feel Luthien there, dancing with us.


Author's note: One would reason Melian's attitude to death and life to be very, well, Maiar-ish.