Beruthiel, A Love Story
It is said that those of my kind have three names: the name our mothers give us at birth, the secret name known only to the Allfather, and the name by which we go in life. Of my three names, the one dearest to me is the last, for it is the one bestowed upon me by my beloved, more pleasing than any I might have chosen for myself. I am Beruthiel, daughter of queens.
I was very young when first I laid eyes upon the love of my life. How well I remember the day! I was going about my duties in the King's stable, when in he came with a group of other soldiers, leading his grey gelding. At the sound of his voice, I stopped and stood transfixed at the sight of him, tall as a young tree.
Unable to turn my eyes away, I followed and watched from behind a pillar while he removed his tack and began to rub his mount down.
One of his companions noticed me lurking and laughed. "I think someone is sweet on you, Legolas."
He turned his gaze to me, but his smile was kind. "Hush, Glavras. I think she is very pretty." He came over to me and looked into my eyes. "What is your name, little one?"
In the inscrutable manner of my kind, I made no reply.
"Well, then, I shall call you Beruthiel, because it suits you," he said, brushing my cheek. He rejoined his companions then, and from that moment my heart was not my own.
That night, using my natural stealth, I slipped into the palace and made my way to Prince Legolas's chamber. In the late hours, when he entered his room smelling of wine from the evening's feasting, he found me lying on his bed, waiting. For only a moment he looked surprised. Then he smiled and took me in his arms and kissed me, and that night we lay together, and all other nights thereafter, for I was his.
Sometimes, of course, my beloved's duties took him away from the palace for a time. He often led the patrols that kept the giant spiders in check, and in the woods the orcs, foul minions of the dark tower in the south, abounded. With every return, the night held the sweet joy of reunion.
Then, after a period of time when our realm played gaoler to a miserable creature that polluted the air of the caverns with its stench and the dreams of anyone who heard it with the foulness of its disjointed babble. When the creature escaped, my love set forth on a journey westward to inform the Elf-lords at Imladris. It was to be an absence of only a month or so, but as the first snowflakes flew, his escort returned without him, bearing tales of a perilous mission on which our Prince would go and not likely return.
I lay on our bed, bereft, not eating, barely sleeping, my only wish to see a familiar face at the door. One day that door opened, but it did not reveal the countenance I sought. King Thranduil peered in, and his expression was as bleak as mine. He spied me, and his expression softened from desolation into pity. "Little Beruthiel," he said, "I fear you are fading."
Then he drew me up into his arms and bore me away to his chamber. I spent that night in the King's bed.
Oh call me fickle; call me faithless. It is a charge often leveled against my race. But I will make no apology for taking joy in the King, for both of us were lonely, and we each reminded the other of what we had lost and might never regain. We filled the void in each other's hearts, as we warmed each other's bodies.
The peace we knew when we lay together in the night did not extend to the rest of the realm. Daily, there came messengers from Dale and Laketown speaking of peril from the East, and even once a delegation of Dwarves from the Lonely Mountain sought an audience. The King listened with a sympathetic ear but made no promises of aid, for he had troubles of his own. In the windy month came news borne by frightened scouts of the armies of Dol Guldur marching north and west. My Lord Thranduil went forth to meet them, after leaving me in his chamber and telling me, "You should be safe here, little one." When he returned a fortnight and odd days later, I could still smell the wood smoke in his hair and taste the salt tang of tears on his cheek.
The Woodland Realm was saved, but all seemed hollow, without the one we had lost. At last, as the leaves began to fall, the birds and small creatures brought news of two riders heading northward on one horse. The King stood waiting in the flagstone courtyard before his great gates, with his courtiers assembled. I took an unobtrusive place beside him, rubbing myself against his leg in my nervous excitement as the grey horse and its riders came into view on the other side of the bridge.
They crossed, and I saw my love alight, well and whole, or at least whole enough to satisfy me. He came to the King and laid his head upon his shoulder. "Ada."
When they had done embracing, Legolas turned to me and picked me up to give me a kiss and a stroke.
From the back of the horse, his passenger, a squat bearded fellow said, "You surprise me, Laddie. I never figured you for a lover of . . . that sort."
Legolas merely smiled and murmured into my soft fur, "Beruthiel, my little love, I promise we shall never be parted again."
So now I am heading south to Ithilien, riding in the pannier basket atop the nest of soft furs my Prince has prepared for me, to embark on a new life. I shall be no pampered decoration to the court. I shall hunt and kill the rats that steal the corn from my lord's granaries and the mice that plague his kitchen larders as he strives to heal the hurt done to the land of Ithilien. When the moon comes full, I shall mate with the Gondorian toms, and our cries of joy will rise into the warm southern night. I will bear generations to follow me when I am gone. But my heart will belong to only one: my lord and my love, Legolas.
I am Beruthiel, daughter - and mother - of queens.