1. Those Who Remain
This tale was written in honor of WatcherChild’s birthday, January 23rd, 2003
She had never seen the city so quiet. It was an uneasy silence, one that the city wore poorly. She kept her eyes downcast, grateful for the slight chill that lingered in the air and allowed her to don a cloak. Her eyes, blue as the garb of Manwë, and her golden hair, so common among her own kindred, had always marked her as a stranger here. Her features drew even more attention in these dark days than before, for the house of Finarfin, whose children too were crowned with gold, had abandoned Tirion for the distant shores two nights past. And one in particular had taken her heart with him...
Tears burned the back of her eyes. She forced them back, She had not wept when her beloved had told her of his plans to leave, nor had she wept as he rose from the bed they had shared so briefly as husband and wife. She had helped him pack for his journey and seen him depart without shedding a single tear. She would not weep now.
Numbly she walked through the quiet streets, her feet following the same path she had followed countless times over the years. She twisted the ring that graced her slender hand. Silver for promise - for their bonding had been too sudden, too secret, too fraught with the sorrow of immediate separation for either of them to create the golden trinkets associated with such things. She wondered why the ring did not offer more comfort. The intricate craftsmanship, which had always brought her joy, now only brought sadness. It was but yet another reminder of the separation between their two kindreds - her people, for all the grace granted to them by the Valar, had never possessed the craftsmanship of the Noldor.
So intent was she on her own despair that she did not notice the cloaked figure standing in the center of the path, surveying the the fine stone buildings with a curiously detached air. Nor did she notice the deep sorrow that marked his wise gaze; a sorrow which haunted the depths of his dark blue eyes and ran as deep as her own. She stumbled, and he reached out and caught her.
"It is late," he said, his voice barely above a whisper. “Far too late to wander alone."
She stiffened. The voice tugged at her memory, yet the name of it's owner eluded her. She kept her eyes focused on the stones at her feet. "I am aware it is late, good sir," she replied. "And I wander here to seek solitude, and perhaps the wide streets of this city could grant me an answer to the questions and sorrows that plague my spirit." The words tumbled from her mouth. Instantly, she wished she could retract them, but it was too late. She held herself still, not daring to say more lest she reveal too much.
The cloaked stranger shattered the silence that rose between them. “I too seek relief," he said. He gestured to a wide stone bench. "Perhaps you would sit with me for a time?"
She nodded, for there had been a gentle command issued in the question. He settled beside her, his cloak shielding all but a few stray locks of golden hair from her covert gaze. She drew the heavy folds of her own garment closer to herself and gazed into the distance. The city was so lovely, even with the shadow of recent events hovering over the streets. White walls glowed in the soft light, and crystal fountains captured the light and refracted it in the same manner as the polished gems the Noldor held so dear. Tirion upon Tứna was so different from the home of her kin, who dwelt on the wide slopes of Taniquentil, yet she had fallen in love with the bustling streets, sparking fountains, and the houses wrought from white stone. She closed her eyes, remembering her beloved's joy in stone-carving. Some of the Noldor had stayed, she knew – though whether they remained out of love for Tirion or mistrust of the house of Fëanor, she could not say. So many more had chosen to leave this city...
"How could they leave a place of such beauty?" she murmured, hardly realizing she spoke aloud.
"I do not know, " her companion replied softly. Once more, they lapsed into silence. Suddenly, her companion began to speak. "I remember when this city was first built, when the light of Laurelin and Telperion shined brightly and the entire land was lit silver and gold. Days of peace, when the Noldor sought eagerly the aid of Aulë, and we were content to watch and learn, and turn their great works into song." He spoke softly, but she heard the pain in his voice as he spoke of days past.
"As do I, Yet such days will never come again," she said bitterly. "For they march to their doom, and many will return not save through the grace of Mandos. They are too proud to turn back."
"That is indeed the case," he agreed. He gripped the stone bench, knuckles whitening with the force of the pressure he exerted on the stone. “I saw the signs of unrest; yet I chose not to heed them, save to travel with much of our kindred to Taniquentil. I saw, and hoped that the breach that grew between the Valar and the Noldor was but a shadow in my mind."
"They were not estranged from all the Valar," she replied, and her voice held more than a hint of anger. "Fëanor and his kin received the whisperings of Morgoth well enough." She knew the words were not true, but she wanted - nay, needed - someone to blame for the loss of her lover. And she could not find it in her heart to blame Ilứvatar's firstborn son, or his starlit lady, whom she had known and revered since her birth.
"You know that is not true, fair lady," her companion replied gently. "The name you give the great Enemy was coined by Fëanor himself. The loathing of the Noldor for Morgoth goes beyond even our own, for he sought never to sway our hearts, nor did he so eagerly covet our possessions. Even Lady Varda and Lord Manwë have been deceived by Melkor, who in these dark days is Morgoth."
"And yet the Valar did nothing to hinder the departure of the Noldor."
"Even Manwë cannot halt the will of the One, much as we would wish it," he said reasonably. "He is Sứlimo, yet he does not seek to control; only to counsel."
"But are the Valar not merciful?" she cried. "Why must they do nothing, save send tidings of great doom? How are we to bear it?"
"We bear it as we always have," he replied softly. "We weep for the Noldor, and we sing of their glory and remember them, and we guard such treasures as they left with us against the day they will return. Those that departed would find no joy here, with such unrest in their hearts." He caught her hand in his own, his voice strangely intense. "Do not blame the Valar, my Lady, but learn from them. They love the Noldor enough to let them go."
She stared at the ring on her finger once more. He spoke the truth, for it was only the knowledge that Finrod needed to leave, needed to seek the lands beyond the Blessed Realm, that had given her the strength to let him go. Still, that knowledge had not lessened the pain of their parting. Tears rushed to her eyes, yet she held them back. She had shared much with this stranger, yet she was not prepared to share tears. She smiled; perhaps some of the Noldorin pride of Finrod had rubbed off on her.
Once more, she turned to her companion. He stared into the distance, his features still hidden by the simple cloak he wore. Yet there was an aura of power and wisdom that clung to him. It had been there all along, she knew, yet she had not seen it. Or had he merely hidden it from her? "Who are you?" she asked. "You speak the truth that is in my heart - even if I could not see it. How came you to possess such wisdom?"
"I thank you for your kind words," he said, and he would still not meet her gaze. "What you call wisdom is merely my way of handling the sorrow that lies on my heart. I am glad you could not express such thoughts, for only a long journey from the lands of my birth, the loss of dear friends to the Halls of Mandos and the dark words of others whom I hold as dear as my own kin could force me to speak as I now do." She stared at him. His voice held so much sorrow - a sorrow beyond her own; sorrow not only for the loss of those whom he had known, but for the loss of all who had departed these lands. "As to my name...I suppose I hold many, yet most often I am called Ingwë."
She buried her face in her hands. Of course it was he - the High King, and her lord. She remembered her foolish words of anger, and her face reddened. Did he think her a fool? Unbidden the tears spilled out of her eyes - whether of shame or sorrow, she knew not. "My Lord," she said. "Forgive me for not recognizing you."
He lifted her chin up, forcing her to meet his gaze. "Enough," he said gently. "Today I am not a king, but merely a friend, who mourns the departure and doom of those he loved as kin." For the first time she looked directly at him, reading the wisdom and sorrow that lurked in eyes as blue as her own. Tears hovered on the ends of his golden lashes, yet they did not fall. Suddenly, she was aware of the tears that streamed down her own face. She reached into the folds of her garments, searching for a handkerchief to blot her tears, all the while silently berating herself for her weakness. After all, her king, who had lost so much more, did not weep. However, a firm hand stopped her actions.
"There is no shame in tears at a time like this," he told her. "It takes great strength to love one enough to let him go, Amarië of the Vanyar. Finarfin’s son indeed has the blessings of the One, to have earned the love of one so noble." She raised her head, startled. How had he known who she was? He laughed softly at her bemused expression, shaking his head. "Tears will help soothe the pains that lie on your heart. Besides," he added, his tone wry. "I fear I am about to weep myself, and I would be glad of company." He gathered her into his arms, stroking her hair as he would a young child. She leaned against him, her body already shaking with sobs.
And there on a quiet street in Tirion, the golden-haired daughter of the Vanyar and her wise king held each other and wept for the friends they had lost, and the long years to come, and they cared not who saw them.
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.