Title: In dreams, To Whom I Never Have: Nothing Like a Dream
Author: Eärillë

Number: B7
Challenge: Occupations: Blacksmith

Sometimes the dream that comes true is more horrifying than the dream itself, and living the said dream is even worse. A seven-year-old Ginny Weasley experiences that first-hand. But perhaps, there will still be a silver-lining even in the worst situation?

Rating: G
Warnings: first draft

Characters: Fëanor, Ginny Weasley, OC's
Genres: Crossover, Mystery
Place: Tirion: outside of
Timeline: Year of Trees: Noontide of Valinor
Word Count (in MS Word): 1,528

Notes: The author originally wanted to post this fic for SWG's Birthday Challenge in 2010, but did not get it in time. With a few additions and tweaks, here it is again, presented anew. And the credit again goes to Dawn Felagund's marvellous work Another Man's Cage, of which the author borrowed many things for this (chaptered) story. It is all in third person limited point of view and past tense, though, unlike in AMC.

In Dreams, To Whom I Never Have
Chapter 1: Nothing Like a Dream

Ginny blinked. The first thing she noticed was the heat, and a cacophony of metallic clanking that grated at her ears. Then the smell hit her nose, and it was all she could do not to vomit. – Sour like vinegar, metallic like blood. – And then she noticed odd people working on what looked like sturdy, crude kitchen counters by each an… open stove?

She pinched her nose and padded closer to one of the graceful, other-wordly people with long hairs, who seemed to be instructing the two others. (However they could hear what he was saying, she did not know.) The heat was nearly unbearable, close to the working area, but she swallowed the discomfort as best as she could. She had to find out where she was, and also the way home. (There was no way she would stay in this horrid place.)

She remembered her mother tucking her in for the night, and it had been such a peaceful night… This was far from peaceful, and it did not feel like a dream at all. Everything was so real, including the grit and filths on packed-dirt floor that pricked uncomfortably at the soles of her bare feet–

Bare feet?

She looked down at herself, and found that she was garbed in her rattiest but most comfortable nightdress.

It was really, really not a dream. Someone had taken her elsewhere, straight from her bed.

But who?

Ginny went into a full-blown panic. And following the frightening discovery, her knees bumped the crude kitchen counter, and she nearly fell on top of it. It was right as the man who worked on that section laid a white-hot bar of metal on it –, straight from the flames of the open stove to the side of the counter. She shrieked.

A pair of lithe but strong arms prevented her from a very, very unpleasant contact with the metal bar. They righted her up on her feet, but she found herself unable to stand straight. Her knees buckled, and she hastily grasped the edges of the counter for support. Her breath choked in her throat as the shock set in. The heat had been so, so intense and so near, as if hungering for her flesh.

A slender finger tilted her chin up, and Ginny looked into her saviour's eyes. Glowing, brilliant grey… almost like the metal bar. – She looked away and whimpered.

What sounded like a woman's voice spoke behind her, seeming to address the man. But the man did not answer. He just stepped aside, bringing Ginny with him, and motioned at the nearly-molten metal bar on the counter. Ginny did not understand what he meant with that, nor what the woman-like voice had said, but the man did not elaborate more, neither with gestures nor words. He guided her away from the working area, firmly but not unkindly, and steered her towards a closed door on the far side of the large room.

What she had hoped was open air, however, turned out to be yet another room; smaller and filled with knickknacks, as if an experiment room of some sort. (She knew, because her father had one in their run-down shed, which her mother was oblivious about for the time being.)

But she did not have chance to inspect the room in detail, since the man swiftly – yet still gently, somehow – turned her around to face him. The door clicked shut behind him, kicked by a booted foot.

Ginny gulped, her lips trembling. Her heart pounded in her chest and ears. This was worse than it had been in the filthy, hot, smelly room behind that door. Her parents' oft-repeated caution and advice about dealing with strangers came up in her mind, but it only made her feel more wretched instead of comforted. She wanted to succumb to tears, but somehow she got the feeling that the man might do worse to her if she did cry.

For now, though, the man only studied her closely. – She could feel his eyes, sharp as an eagle's and glowing like a wolf's, from her (tangled-haired) head to (bare) toes. – What did he find? What was in his mind? She found herself hoping he decided she was unworthy of his attention and dismissed her, now. But she did not know where she was, and had nothing to survive alone…

And then the man spoke. His voice was light, rich, melodious, almost like a woman's. It entranced her, like what Bill had told her about some type of enchantment placed on cursed sites at sea. (It had earned her poor eldest brother a week of punishment, when their mother had found out, after catching her five-year-old self trying to recreate the enchantment on their frog-pond.) Was this the man's way of luring her from her fright, then? What would he do with her after she had truly fallen into his grasp?

Steel entered the man's tone now, sheathed in velvet, as if he could hear her thoughts.

Ginny cringed and cowered away, bumping against what felt like the edge of a sturdy working table. How had he known?

He stepped towards her and grasped her shoulders, although not harshly. With firm gentleness, he steered her towards the door, and reached a hand over her left shoulder to turn the door handle. Ginny wished she knew what he intended to do with her, or where he would bring her; but he did not even talk to her now, perhaps realising the futility of it.

He guided her past the large room, ignoring the other two people's open stares. A double door stood on the other side of the room, and this he opened slightly to let them out.

A well-tended, well-grown lawn welcomed Ginny's nose and vision, looking so familiar and smelling like home and more to her. (It looked more alive, more vibrant than even the most magical site she had ever visited, but it still felt like home.) Stepping out onto the grass, she inhaled the fragrant afternoon air deeply and arched a shaky smile. Like home, definitely, despite everything.

The man noticed it. – His impassive look flickered briefly with an unidentifiable emotion. – But he said nothing, and his pace never faltered.

A house stood a distance away, a sprawling mass on the horizon. It reminded Ginny of the Burrow, her own home. But while her ancestral house looked rather odd, this building was magnificent in its own way. (Of course, it helped that this building did not lean to one side as if about to collapse.) Fields and gardens and woods surrounded it. – And how she longed to play and run free, exploring those enticing, delightful open spaces!

(The familiar yet alien view ignited her homesickness anew, but she quelled it as best as she could. It was easier thinking about how to live her life here than trying to find her way home. Surely a day would not matter? She would resume her attempt then, and she would probably be home before her parents went into a frantic search. Then she would be free of their lectures too, unlike her closest older brother Ron yesterday. (He had been missing for the whole day, and Charlie had found him in their pond near dusk, trying to catch some fish for Mum's birthday.) So, with that thought in mind, her steps became much lighter, and she was even skipping slightly the closer they got to the odd mansion. (Or was that a small fenceless castle?)

She peeked at the man strolling beside her when she became aware of her show of merriment and embarrassed by it. To her dismay, she noticed that a tiny smile was playing on his lips. She read pride for his home on his countenance, like her father had oftentimes displayed in greater measure on his home-coming. But she could also detect another, stronger emotion lurking beneath this man's smile, and that put a damper on her joy. She could somehow sense that it was about her, but she did not know what he was specifically thinking about, and that alarmed her.

She would take all that she could get if the man would not harm her, though. Now that she again remembered how she had ended up in that terrifying hall of open stoves and white-hot metal bars and how odd the people and place were actually, she felt so tired…

It was definitely not home, however faithfully she compared it to the Burrow. And right now, she only wanted her familiar bed at home, with her six older brothers banging around the tilting, rickety house and Mum and Dad silencing the howling ghoul in their attic.

She lagged behind, but the man only seemed to notice her after a few strides. She stiffened when he returned to her, looking oddly baffled, but she did not struggle when he picked her up and stroked her back. Only then she realised that she was crying silently, and now her tears mixed with the man's soot-covered tunic. It was not long though before she went into a light doze.

The man was too much like Dad…