In Her Shadow
Thanks to Lady Masterblott for beta reading the chapter, and to Finch as well.
Chapter Three: Unheeded.
Once, we were friends. Do you remember? A deep understanding, a passionate thrill ran through our entwined spirits when you held me close, resting your back on the ground and your heart against the open wound of my love for you. I smiled, you smiled; and then we kissed, but you did not blush, no, you did not. Not like when you kissed him and I was watching.
Not like when I kissed him, and you were watching....
Míriel! Why must you make me suffer so much? You cannot speak, yet you do, for you whisper things in my mind, harassing me day and night until you leave me at the brink of madness. I can remember Middle Earth, the forlorn starlit land where you loved and killed me. I can remember that curve of your lips, and the reassuring grip of your hand. Yet I see you, and I know you have forgotten everything except the desire to see me hurting, all love turned into quiet hatred and silent, deadly persistence.
There, there you are again. As beautiful and terrible as always. Strands of silky, dark hair cover a part of your face, while you cross the threshold of my door and wait for me to retreat backwards with horror painted in my features once more. But, do you know what? This time, you will be disappointed, for I am not going to do that now. I have something to say to you; something to ask of you, Míriel Serindë.
First, you will have to listen to me. You will have to know that I have loved you always, beyond question, since I was a little child and you came to us as a dark spirit of the forests. I shared everything that was mine with you, as you did with me, and when you urged me to meet your people I accepted eagerly, even if it meant going away from my own for the first time in my life. Do you remember how afraid I was when we walked through the frighteningly great wood, how I clutched your hand? You told me that I did not have to fear, that the stars were still shining above us even if we did not see them, and began to sing a song with me.
Oh, today, the thought of the smallness of the things that made me afraid then makes me laugh behind my tears. I am laughing now, remembering it, and... could it be? Could it be that you are laughing, too? Oh, yes! You are, I see it, and in your eyes I can see a spark of tenderness flickering as you look at me. How did I love you once, Míriel!
But no, I was being led astray. I know it cannot be true. Your gaze is accusing, as it was before, and I will not back down from you.
There, among the Noldorin people, I saw you and Finwë kissing for the first time, and learned that you were lovers. Nobody else knew it, yet you told me, wishing that I could share your happiness; but I found unexpectedly that I could not. What did you think of me when I was unable to return your smile, to look at you both without choking, and to suppress my pain each time I looked at him; the tall, bright-eyed and handsome nér who took my heart while you gave him yours? I did not understand what was happening to me at the time, believe me. I just had the strange notion that I wanted to be at his side, in your place; and then, that I wanted you gone, horrifying as this sounded to my innocent soul. Frightened, I asked you to bring me back home; and so you did.
Still silent? You do not open your mouth to answer me, or to say this is wrong and I am lying. All right, all right, I will confess the truth: I knew then what was happening to me. I was in love with him, I wanted him; and needed to go away before I caused you harm. Suddenly, you were not the dearest to my heart anymore, and something told me that I had to lose you before I got lost myself.
I was right.
My friend, I am sure that you will not believe me if I say that I tried to do right also, to stay apart from you and let you be happy, but I swear it is the truth. I wore a smile on your wedding day, I congratulated you, but I could do nothing to stop the strange and wicked dreams that kept creeping into my mind. I saw you dead, gone, trapped in darkness, and I saw myself happy with Finwë....oh, it was so cruel that I cried afterwards, so ashamed of myself that I would have gone mad if it had not been for the music and the help of my people. They made me forget, or at least try to, until that very horrible moment when I learned that you were fading, and everything crumbled for me again. Then, as soon as I could, I rushed to the gardens of Lórien to try to hold you back, but the only thing that was left there for me to see when I arrived was your empty shell, the body you once had pressed against mine and that had become now cold, pale and rigid. And you were gone, as in my darkest dreams.
Why did you do that to me?
Oh, Míriel. Slowly, trembling of grief, I recall that I bent over you to kiss your lips, and that before knowing what I was doing I began to sing. I had grown accustomed in those last years to sing whenever I felt I was hurting, but that song I had never sung in Valinor, for it was the song you sang to me when we were crossing the great forests and I was afraid of the darkness. Tears welled through my eyes as I sat and wondered how all could have ended like this, and I had lost all conscience of what happened outside of you and me when, suddenly, something brushed my arm, and I turned back to see the face of someone who was even more broken than I was, if that was possible. He embraced me, I embraced him, and while he wept, I kept singing.
And we betrayed you in our mourning.
How is that? You have never cried before! The only thing you did was to look at me and make me cower, but now I see your tears, and I wish I could cry with you. My nightmare became true, I killed you, denied you your place, your love, your life, even if it was you who said yes to the Valar. I should have the right to cry at your side, yet I know I do not, Míriel. I deceived my conscience at first, saying I was just helping you to do what you, too weary, could not have done anymore; to care for your people, your husband and your son, but in the end, I know, everything comes to simple, undeniable selfishness. And you know it also.
What more can I say? Serindë, dearest friend, I suffered gladly all that happened to me because of my crime. Finwë never could love me as he did love you, and you never allowed me to come near your son or be as a mother to him, always guarding him defiantly against my advances. Even if, yes, I had more sons and daughters with your husband, they never were for him what Fëanaro was. And, as if it was not enough, your presence has been torturing me since the first day I married him, following me everywhere, and staring at me even in my dreams. I never complained or asked for help, nor did I tell Finwë what happened, as much as I wanted him to help me and care for me. I only want to beg something of you now; of you, of the Míriel I knew and befriended in Middle Earth so long ago. Just one thing, that thing, and I will never bother you again.
Please, have pity on me. This is my only request. I know that you are his wife, that he loves you still, and I have learned to be happy just to have him by my side, but do not take him away from me. Those black eyes of yours are summoning him to that faraway place called Formenos where I cannot follow him, just to have him for you alone once more, and if I smiled and told him he could go it was not because I did not mind, but because I know I cannot fight you. Do not condemn me to loneliness, have mercy! His presence, his comforting presence, was all that was left to me, and I am sure that, if I lose him, my fate will be madness. Do you understand? I will go mad.
Míriel, please, come back....
Míriel, forgive me!
(to be continued)
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.