Eloquent Elvish Stories
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Cold Comfort: 1. Cold Comfort
Men or Dwarves may not remember her as I do, with Elven senses sharp and clear. Her image stands before me now as if seventy years fell away: her golden hair and sweet lips, the smile that ever lit her face when she looked upon any of us.
I was battle-weary and worn that night, yet unable to take my rest. I thought to take an apple from the table. The scent had filled me with some unnamed longing or remembrance from Greenwood. My fingers rested on the fruit and I could almost taste it on my tongue. I was interrupted by the sound of weeping.
I turned and saw her by the fire there, in Théoden's hall, the light glinting golden off her hair. This fine, strong woman who would freely meet the fate that we all feared and never falter. Here was the tender heart who beseeched her love not to leave her to her mourning but take her into doom with him and all of us that followed. She could find no solace in the knowledge that we would take the path without her.
I thought to leave her there to her loneliness and sorrow, but the grief inside her called to me and I could not turn away. She impressed herself upon my heart that night, though I doubt she ever knew it.
The curve of her shoulder was warm against my fingers. Her tear-worn face turned to me as I touched her. I found her beauty as near enchanting as any elf-maiden. Her pain welled up inside me.
"Lady," I began, "I would not see you so grieved."
"I am not grieved." She cleared her throat and squared her shoulders as if to hide the lie, yet her hands fluttered near her breast in nervousness. I captured them with both of mine.
"We shall prevail," I said.
She smiled a little. "How do you know?"
Her voice trembled. I saw the glimmer in her eyes that looked to me for hope. I gave her all I had to offer.
"Because I love him, too."
Her resolve was broken then, I think. This confession that tumbled freely from my lips in such short words could not fall from hers so plainly, though plain I knew she made it to the ones who overheard, including me.
Unbidden, I offered shelter in my arms. I felt the beating of her heart, a wondrous strong yet fragile thing. I hoped the path we were to take ere morning came would find all of us unbroken at the end.
The apple blossom scent of her surrounded me and I wondered what had drawn me to the hall: the fruit or her. I laid my lips against her crown of golden tresses and breathed her in. " Brennil nín," I whispered, and other words in Elvish; sounds that spoke of love and care and consolation. I knew not how to soothe her otherwise.
We stayed there for a little while, rocking, until her sobs subsided. When she turned her face to me again, the tears still ran unchecked, though silent. I caught them with my fingers, and watched entranced as they fell, glittering for a moment in the firelight, then to the floor.
"Do not let him go, Legolas," she whispered. I knew not if she meant to have me make him stay with her or that I should cleave to him on our journey. The former I could not do, the latter I could not but help.
"I can not keep him, malthenil," I sighed and stroked her hair. "But I will see him safe, I promise."
She disentangled herself from me and my heart felt as if it had been emptied out by the absence of her touch. She straightened and met my gaze proudly.
"Then I will take my leave of you this night and hold you to your vow."
She laid a gentle hand against my cheek and I placed my hand upon my heart.
"Namár--" I began to say. She pressed her fingers to my lips.
"Say it not!" she commanded and silenced any other words with one, sweet kiss.
"Well met, Legolas," she whispered and was gone.
I stayed long after she had left. The fire burnt to ash and cinder. The memory of her lingered on my lips.
"Mae govannen, Éowyn," I whispered to the empty hall.
As the sun broke and the quest was again before us, I did not fear the dead. It was the living that would haunt me.
“She was a strong and fair woman,” Gimli said softly.
I did not turn. I would not let him see the tears that ran unchecked.
“Aye.” I answered. A tear fell, glittering for a moment in the sunlight, to the floor.
I stood fixed at the window. The scent of apple blossoms enveloped me from the tree I had planted for her in the courtyard below.
“Laddie?” Gimli’s voice was impatient, but kind. “Are you all right?”
“Seventy years have passed and you still call me ‘lad.’” I smiled and turned to him. “I am fine, mellon nín.” My voice caught in my throat. I could not hide the lie.
“She is laid out,” he clasped my arm gently. “Would you see her one last time?”
“Nay.” I shook my head. “There is no need.”
Notes on Sindarin Elvish:
Brennil nín - My Lady
malthenil - golden one
mellon nín - my friend
Mae govannen - well met
The word that Eowyn stops Legolas from saying is Namárië - Farewell
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