Betrothed

May Eru Watch

1. May Eru Watch

   
   
   
The king walked along the steep path, surrounded by the scent of white lillies and jazmin. Small grasses and flowers bordered his way -beautiful ones, the kind that he had seen only in Valinor. There were rich, blooming buds that he had learned to recognize from the many times he had visited this place; he noticed the daisies and wildflowers scattered here and there, and he also saw the yellow blossoms whose name was always difficult for him to remember. There were tall trees, too; strong trees that somehow made him feel more comfortable. This place was not his home, nor could it ever be. Yet, he kept coming.

He followed the same road for a while. Lighted by the trees, he could see Aman at its bloom to his back, and if he looked forward, Manwe's heights would greet him. This was a world where he had known great joys, as well as deep sorrows, but all that seemed to be forgotten now -because of the song. It was a melody of surpassing beauty, as nothing he had ever heard. As often as he had listened to that sweet voice before, he thought he had never understood it until that day at the hill when, for the first time, he beheld the vanyarin princess in all her beauty, surrounded by the golden light of the trees that seemed to have been caught on her tresses. Yes, it was then that he truly understood the song's real nature. It appeared to him as though its strains were woven with tales of bittersweet sorrow, or averted joy. It was not loud, nor soft, but it did not fail to reach his ears or pierce his heart. It was not merry, nor sad, yet it filled his soul with so much hope, and longing, and sometimes pain. The melody would haunt even his dreams.

Finwe clenched his fists and frowned. Of late, the noldo had become uneasy about things he did not understand. It was not so in the days of his first youth, when he was bolder, and eager to taste new things before anyone else. He bit his lips as the flowing voice took shape inside his mind, stirring his heart in a furious race of emotions. He thought he had learned to be unfeeling. Now he had to unlearn all that -because of the song, her song.

'This must be stopped' he thought, as he followed the winding path through the slope, 'This is not the healing I looked for. This is not the healing I need! If anything, I am getting worse..." Yet he kept walking, following the singer's inadvertent summons, each time hearing the music closer, and feeling his heart leap wilder. He frowned.

At last, he arrived at what appeared to be the borders of a clearing. There, the beauty of Irmo's gardens seemed to have been captured with a few brushstrokes. To his left, concealed by a thicket of silver leaves, he beheld the owner of the voice sitting on the garden, the white skirts of her gown creating a strong contrast with the green of the grass. Her eyes were half-closed, as they usually were when she sang the songs of Nienna. But suddenly, he realized these were not the songs she had learned in Lorien, but a whole different tune altogether, one that she had learned under the stars, a long time ago, in a language that he had nearly forgotten. He stood there, gazing at the lady as he allowed the song to transport him to a place so buried in his past, shrouded in darkness by the mists of so many years, except by the light of the stars as they glittered over the pool.

"So much has happened since then," he whispered.

"Finwe!" Indis interrupted her song as she perceived the king's presence, "I did not hear you approaching."

"I know," was all he said, and then fell silent.

She stretched her arm to take his and help herself up, but instead of taking it, he walked past her and sat under the eaves of a sapling. The intensity of his stare revealed only a partial share of his deeper thoughts.

"I would not have thought you remembered it; the song, I mean," she said softly, testing his mood. "I am only too surprised that I do. I learned it so long ago!"

"Aye, that is true," he said without blinking. "I wonder why would you choose such a song at this moment, princess."

She was startled by his formal address to herself. Many things about Finwe startled her. After all these years, she did not cease to be intrigued by the noldorin lord. "What song would you have me sing, then?"

He smiled. "What surprises me, Indis, is that after all this time, you still wish to play words with me." He looked at her sidelongs, and realized she had slightly blushed. "Why do you like words so much, I wonder? Since the beginning, you were always eager to learn and devise new ones. I remember-" Finwe shook his head, as if he was waking from a dream. "But, as witty as you have become with all this practice- I am wittier, still. However, if this amuses you, I am willing to play along." He paused. "What song would I have you sing? Nothing else, but the one you were just singing. Except that I wonder at your choice. Your song is a sad song, a pleading song... a lonely song." He lowered his gaze and, for a brief second, the light in his eyes dimmed. "Are you sad, princess? Are you... lonely?"

Indis did not answer at once, but in her silence it seemed to him as though she weighed the question in her own mind. He felt the quiet rhythm of her breath slowly increase, and the constant rustle of her hands against the fabric of her dress.

"Indis... Are you?"

"If I sing a sad song it does not mean I am sad, as much as if I sing a merry song it does not mean I am merry. I sing, that is all."

"That much I know. I would enquire, then, what brings to your mind the old songs of our youth. Have you not learned pretty melodies with Este's maidens? Would they not be angry if they heard you turn back to the past like that? You took me back there... with your song."

"I am sorry."

"No!" he cried, "Do not be. It was beautiful. For a moment it seemed to me that nothing had happened and we were still there, by the pool, under the starlight."

"The world was much simpler then, was it not?"

"Yes, and no." He gazed eastwards, where a few and distant dots of light could be descried in the far-off sky. So many miles away lay their old home, their first home. "We were innocent, unsullied, but obscure dangers crept ever nearer, threatening to crush us with their lean fingers."

"But we were happy," she said in a quick intake of breath, and just as suddenly she wished she could take it back. Finwe looked at her keenly while she covered her mouth with her fair hand.

"We were," he said in a mere whisper, "But we were not safe. How we longed for help to come! And yet, when it did, we were fearful of accepting it. I still remember the look in your eyes when Ingwe told you he would journey with Orome to Aman. So eager as you were to behold the faces of the Powers, you were afraid." He looked at her, searching intently in her features for a trace of that look. Instead, the grey eyes that stared back at him revealed an altogether different person. "You have changed."

"Is there anything you seek here?" Indis asked, a tinge of anger tainting her voice. "What can I do for you?"

"What can you do for me?" he repeated, his voice distant. At last, he shook his head, "I did not come here for any reason, I suppose. I heard you singing."

"How did you know it was me? Everyone sings in Valinor." Had Finwe looked at her, he would have seen the blush that colored her cheeks, a hope that her words did not convey. "Everyone sings in Valinor."

Finwe smiled. 'Yes, everyone sings in Valinor.' The words, even the sounds could be the same, but never the emotions that those sounds stirred within him. Had there been a thousand people singing, he would still have distinguished the sweet, sorrowful tones of her voice.

They remained silent for a few moments, Finwe's gaze lost in the distance, Indis' fixed on the ground. The cool breeze played with their hair and clothes, and far away, a lirulin started to sing.

"This place is always full of mirth and song, is it not?"

"You say it as though you regretted it."

Finwe dared not look back at her. "Did it seem that way? Perhaps so..."

"It is a shame," she whispered, but Finwe sensed the change in her tone, which now was tight and sharp. He had always been amused by the way her emotions could shift so easily between two opposites. Perhaps she had not changed so much as he had thought. He could not help but laugh.

"Do not get angry, fair Indis!" he said, and narrowed his gaze. "So delicate and stern at the same time you are..."

"Why would you laugh, lord?" she snapped, raising her voice, "My brother has asked you to come here in kindness, and has welcomed you into his house. He deserves not your envy..."

"But I do not envy him!" he said, turning abruptly toward her. "I could not. I am glad for him; he has found what he sought when he decided to leave the eastern shore. But you-" he spoke eagerly, his words mixing one with another. "Life is so happy in this place! What need would you have to retreat to Lorien?"

"To learn!" she rose, her cheeks red, "What I do with my time is my own concern. I learned things there that no one else could teach me -things that you should have learned long ago..."

"Do not presume to tell me what to learn!" he cried, waving his arm, "It is not your place. You will never know the state of my heart during the weeks that I tarried there."

Indis flinched and narrowed her eyes, averting her face. Every word seemed to sting. "You need not accuse me."

"I do not," he said, his voice subdued and the line of his back relaxing, his shoulders downcast. "Forgive me."

"Why are you here, Finwe? Did you stray out of your path into this glade?" Her voice was firm, nonetheless her hands trembled and her form sank as she asked him, afraid to hear his answer.

The king's eyes rested heavily on hers. "No! Of course not! You know this, don't you?"

"How would I?" she snapped desperately. "You come here unlooked-for; you start a conversation where you only half-say what you think, and yet you expect me to understand everything about you, to guess, to help! I-"

"Was I really unlooked-for?" He cut in, leaning toward her, "Have you not understood everything about me before? How would you, indeed, you ask?" He flung his arms in the air. The light of Telperion was reflected on his dark hair, but it was not brighter than the sudden flame in his eyes.

"You have no right to do this, Finwe. No right!" She yelled and, standing, turned to leave.

"That is true, because I had no right to have this happen to me! What right is there, Indis? What right?"

"I would ask the same of you!" the tones of her voice raised like an ongrowing wave, "What right do you have of coming here only to hurt me!" The sharp intake of air, and the trembling of her lips, revealed to Finwe that she had not meant to say those words, but it was all too late, for she had said them.

"Who is accusing who, now?" He asked, eyes smouldering, fixed on her burning face. It was the work of a moment, for suddenly he averted his gaze and turned his back to her. For a while, they were both silent.

"I am sorry. I should not have-" She sighed, "You have suffered, I know. But so have I."

"Had I known what awaited me here, I am unsure whether I would have been bold enough to cross the sea in search of the light..."

"Wouldn't you?" She asked, suddenly startled, "Would you not have come? Would you have stayed in Cuivienen, Finwe, in the dark?"

"No," a slight smile played on the corners of his lips, and his eyes twinkled.

"Why are you here?" she asked, pleading, "You have not told me why you have come. The torture of concealed words is something I like not; I deserve it not. Why are you here?"

"Is that so important?" He said, raising his voice a little. Then, he sighed. "I leave tomorrow."

The true purport of his words seemed to fall slowly over her, until at last she sat, her mouth half-opened still, and her hands clasped in a knot in front of her. "Tomorrow," she whispered.

"I have been gone for long, this time, longer than- Curufinwe needs me. I- I have a people to rule, a city to care for. I cannot-" he turned to her, the lines in his face revealing a strained mind, "I-"

"You must leave, yes," her countenance gave him a slight smile. "I understand that. You have... your son."

"Yes, but," He tilted his head and frowned, and his manner was as of one who suddenly awakens. "Have you suffered? You just said you have suffered."

"We all have. From all things I have learned during these long years, if I have learned anything at all, it is that we cannot escape sorrow, not even in blessed Aman."

"Yes," he said, "But the Valar have offered me a chance to redress it! Everything that could have gone amiss! They saw that it was not fit for me to be alone; they saw that this kind of grief should not befall the firstborn; they saw that we should be happy, and we could! If only-"

"If only, what, Finwe? If only things could go just as you wish? But you forget you are not everyone's king, and there are things that simply cannot be, no matter how much we want them."

"Do you want it, then?" eagerness filtered through his words as he asked, reaching for her hand, yet not taking it. "I just need to hear it from you, Indis. I have seen it in your eyes, and I have heard it in your song, but your lips have never said it and I cannot- I dare not say something that would hurt you." The sad look in her eyes made him feel ashamed, guilty, "I could not hurt you willingly."

"Your past would still haunt you, and me; as it should!" she cried, moving away from the closeness of his body, "You have a son."

"Do you think I have not considered this? That I have not considered everything? These many days I have weighed my heart and measured my strength to see if I could, if I dared..." he halted, searching for her eyes. "Do you not wish to hear anymore, Indis?"

"No!" she protested, veiling her eyes, "I do not wish to hear of things that you cannot offer me. Do not make promises lightly, my lord! Do not bargain your word! How could you be so unfeeling as to think only about yourself, forgetting about the rest of us, your son included!"

"How could you say that?" he asked, "I would not have waited all those years after the Valar spoke had I not cared! Do you think I have travelled all the distance from Tirion only to hurt you, and then bid you farewell? I am leaving tomorrow! I did not come here to fight with you! Why do you think that I have come?"

"Yes, why?"

"I have come to tell you that I love you!" he cried, taking her in his arms. This unexpected burst of emotions surprised him. The words he had carefully tried to conceal had at last left his mouth, so suddenly that he did not realize it until he felt Indis' slow breathing so close to his face, her eyes so near, the soft touch of her skin on his hands, the sweet scent of her hair enveloping his whole senses. He tightened his embrace, as if unwilling to let her slip away. "I love you..." he whispered, and leaning closer, he kissed her; deeply, at first, then more slowly as the fingers that caressed his face confirmed this was not a dream.

"How I love you!" she whispered into his ear as she reluctantly moved away, "For so many years I have dreamt of this moment, thinking it could never be!"

"I offer you everything you wish, Indis, everything I am, if you would have me-"

The vanyarin lady smiled sadly as she ran her hands through the fine strands of his dark hair, "Not everything, my lord, for a part of you will always be hers," she looked wistfully away. "After the Valar's doom I hoped, and my heart cheered at the thought that perhaps someday... I felt selfish, and guilty, but how could I train my heart to feel what my mind advised? Yet," she rose from his side, and the parting almost burned him, "Now I do not know how much of you will I be able to share with her memory."

"Even since the first day of my coming to Taniquetil, when I saw you bathed in gold and silver, surrounded by white flowers, I knew that you could gladden my heart again, as you once used to do when the world was younger and simpler. And," he paused to meet her gaze, but her eyes were fixed on the object that he kept fingering in his hands, "Just then, I understood how long had you loved me. Yet I knew you deserved something better than a ner who turned to you only for comfort, and I understood I had to wait until I gained the assurance that I could give you what you wanted from me. And now I am assured, and I have leave to speak freely, and I cannot go away before telling you that not only do I need you, but I love you too, and I ask you again to accompany me to Tirion, not as my friend or my guest, but as my wife."

Indis sat, her form shaking with the emotions that for so long had been denied to her, while her clear eyes watered with tears she never thought would well down her face on account of this unexpected joy. But she said nothing -not yes or no. Her countenance became grim and somewhat hardened, and the quiver in her lip increased.

"Tears?" Finwe asked, running his strong hand as gently as he could over her smooth skin, "Do you not desire this?"

"With all my heart! But my pride forbids me to be second, Finwe!" her pleading eyes fixed on him. "Did you, at least, turn to me with the love of a friend, of a brother, back then, back then as we dwelt in the shadows?"

"You know the answer to that question, Indis!" he said, and he opened her palm, placing on it a piece of carven wood that ressembled a bird. The lady's eyes widened as she realized this bird was from a kind she had not seen in many ages -a kind that did not exist in Aman. She looked at him, puzzled, and then back at the bird. The workmanship was very rough, and somewhat uncouth; yet, there was a certain beauty hidden within the chopped edges of the piece, as though the spirit of the bird had been captured by the craftsman. Her eyes lighted as she recognized it as one of Finwe's old practice works, when he was but learning the art of carving.

"You have improved," she said, smiling.

"Oh! I hope I have!" he said. Then, resting her head on his chest, he began, "I do not know how you came upon this ragged piece of work, yet somehow you got it and kept it. Then Orome came, and he asked us to journey with him to Valinor, and Ingwe wanted so much to see the light! But he wished not to leave you -so much he loved you!" Finwe leaned to kiss her brow, caressing her golden hair. "I realized I could not make the journey without Ingwe. I thought it was unfair of you to prevent his coming, so I went to seek you to try to convince you to tell him that you would be fine and that he should come along. Do you remember? As I turned to leave, I felt... broken, uncertain, afraid. And I recall hearing your voice call me back, and I thought you would beg me to stay. But, instead, you placed this small bird on my hands. 'Finish it for me' you said, 'and bring it back with you as you return to us, safe.' Little did you know that you would love me later, or that I would love you later. I dare say you had forgotten about this little thing!"

By this time, Indis was openly crying, trembling in his arms as he tried to soothe her with the enthusiastic voice she so much loved. "I carried it with me, as you see, and finished it for you when my skill was still unpolished and my hands had not yet toiled. So much happened since then, so much changed..." his voice trailed off, and he tightened his hold on her, "But, this little bird saw the light of Aman, even before you did, and now I give it back to you, as a gift, if you would take it, and ask you to please allow me to show this light to you, as you once showed to me, and as I so much need you to show to me again now. Do not leave me alone, Indis. Do not leave me... in the dark..."

She raised her head and met his eyes, the eyes of the one she had loved for so long. And he saw her countenance change from pleading, to hopeful, and then saw it turn from hope, to joy as she understood that he loved her, in spite of his past, and from now on his heart would have a piece of her too. "By the leave of the Valar will I cleave to you, and will not leave you."

"Then I will be the first to experience this joy in Aman, for the Powers have granted me grace to be happy again," he said, and his countenance was glad and radiant, "May Eru's watchful eye look upon us today as we speak thus. May we find joy again that will withstand all sorrow."

"May Eru watch," she said, and he understood that she was willing to make the promise. His eyes beamed.

"A ring," he said, looking down at his own bare hands, "A ring is needed, a symbol. We cannot pledge without a token."

"Now?" Indis asked, unable to conceal the happiness she felt, "Do you wish to pledge now? Here?"

"Do you not?" he asked in return, the tilt on his head betraying his anxiety. "Of course," he said in a calmer voice, "I realize that a proper ceremony is the only way for a princess. But, I would not leave without making this promise. I shall be back shortly to do things as they should be done, but I will not leave now without pledging myself to you. I could not."

"Then," she said, her teasing fingers running smoothly over his arms, tickling him, and a playful twinkle in her eyes, "No ring would be required until then."

He laughed and, feeling under the collar of his shirt, he grasped a silver jewel whose bright gleam was in the likeness of a star, dazzling and beautiful, bound in a thin chain. He fastened it to her neck with careful, even fearful fingers, as he felt her skin, "I shall be back, Indis; do not doubt it. I shall be back for you, to utter my pledge for everyone to hear. But, today," he said, sinking his voice to a musical whisper, "I pledge myself for You alone to hear." Then Finwe took her hands, and rising, he looked at her full in the eye, and speaking the words that would seal their troth, he said, "Hereby I, Finwe, promise to wed thee, Indis of the Vanyar, according to Eru's designs for his children. And, by thy consent, will my fea and rhoa be bound to thine with a bond that cannot be broken until the stars pass, and all life fails, and Arda be remade, or by Eru's decree you release it. May our love be a part of the song forever."

Then Indis, looking into his eyes without fear, sealed her promise, "So be it."



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.

   
   
   

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Starlight

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Rating: General

Last Updated: 02/06/03

Original Post: 02/06/03

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