Silarië had married Canamírë mostly because there had been no better choice. He had been the least obnoxious of her mother's proposed matches. She did love him in a way, but she lied to herself to say, as others often said of their spouses, that they were destined by the stars to be together for all eternity. Those sentiments seemed too strong to describe what she felt for her husband. Secretly, she supposed her love for him was more akin to the love she felt for cousins seen occasionally at family suppers. This emotional failing might have pained her but for the suspicion that Canamírë was of a similar mind. Indifference suited them.
They had been married easily sixty years but had yet no children. This was likely due to lack of trying. Back in Aman they had enjoyed separate bedrooms, but in Hisilómë, where proper beds were scarce and body heat was necessary to ward off winter's freeze, they shared one small cot in one small room in Alcarwë's relatively large but still small-by-Valian-standards house. The situation was neither comfortable nor romantic. A child could only make it worse. Alcarwë and his wife, Hanessë, considered babies to be a burden on the new settlement's productivity. Or, at least, Alcarwë believed this and Hanessë went along with him for the sake of household harmony. Silarië guessed any child of hers would only strain the delicate balance.
Silarië's chief function in the daily life of Hisilómë was to assist Hanessë. Hanessë had two servants, both Sindarin women whose children had grown and married, but as Hanessë did not speak Sindarin and the women did not speak Quenya, their usefulness was limited to what they guessed they should be doing. They washed the floors every day and took the laundry down to the lake for a scrubbing on the rocks, but never dusted or made bread. These tasks then fell to Silarië. Hanessë did not do housework; she was too important. She was the wife of the newly appointed reeve of the north shore settlement, and as such was expected to spend the better part of her time chatting with other important women about important topics. They discussed the making of yarn dyes from indigenous flora, and how one could reuse old clothing to upholster furniture. Silarië stayed in the kitchen and made flatbread over the fire during these visits. She was not important enough to join the discussion, her husband being considered somewhat useless in the new settlement.
Canamírë was a spice merchant, or had been in Aman. As the fourth child and the youngest son, he was forced to accept a fate of being constantly overlooked. He had no special purpose known to him or anyone else. So when he was old enough, he went to work for his childless uncle, who was in the unremarkable business of trading spices. The uncle would travel to Valmar, taking barrels of salt and bringing back from the gardens of the Valar cinnamon and cloves and even more things with heady, exotic scents. Canamírë remained in Tirion to manage the shop. Toward the end, when Fëanáro was banished and stability started to crumble, business flourished. Few were willing to endure the long journey from Formenos to Valmar for the sake of a jar of pepper when they could just as easily pay Canamírë and his uncle to do it for them.
In Hisilómë, no-one was willing to pay for anything. And even if they had been, there were no spices to be found in this new and wild country. Canamírë, out of a trade, was forced to rely on his brother's charity. And he was miserable for it, being unable even to pay Sindarin locals the small amount they would charge in gold or goods to build him a cabin-style house. Alcarwë was miserable when his familial obligation stretched the small income afforded him by the New King's treasury. Hanessë was miserable that Alcarwë's stretched income did not allow her the luxury to which she was accustomed and thought she deserved. And Silarië was miserable for being forced to act as her sister-in-law's handmaiden.
How easy it had been, she thought, to carelessly slip from a comfortable middling position in Valinor to such lowness in the new settlement. Everyone suffered here, and sacrificed, but it was those without who felt it most acutely. She and Canamírë were without. Their lives were contained to one small, cold room.
She turned over in the cot to look on her husband, pushing away from her face the pile of furs that served as blankets. After five years, they still held the unpleasant smell of animal, and the scent mingled with Canamírë's oil-sweet, unwashed hair. It was late enough that Alcarwë had already left to attend to his daily duties of politicking, and early enough that Hanessë was still asleep. The Sindarin women would not arrive until after breakfast. This left only Silarië to answer the firm knock and call at the door. With a groan, she slid from the bed and pulled a house robe over her nightdress. The floor was cold under her feet. The light in the shuttered house was still dim. She walked more by memory than sight, and squinted against the bright morning sun as she opened the door. Three silhouettes leaned against the doorframe, panting as though they had just run a great distance.
"Morning," she said quietly.
"Canamírë," the nearest gasped through heavy breath. "Is he in?"
"He is sleeping."
"Wake him," said the second. "This is urgent."
Silarië hesitated only long enough to give the strangers a quick appraisal. Then she said, "Wait here," and retreated back into the house, shutting the door behind her.
Canamírë was already sitting up in bed when she returned to him. "Who was at the door?" he asked with a yawn.
"Three men," said Silarië. "They want to speak to you, and say it's urgent."
"They didn't say. But I think they're miners. Their clothes are torn and filthy with grey dust, and the way they look, I'd guess they've just run down all the way from the hills. But why would miners need to speak to you so urgently?"
The colour drained from Canamírë's face instantly. "Where were they? Which mine?"
"I don't know. All they said was that they needed to speak to you. Do you want me to ask while you dress?"
"No," said Canamírë. He had already pulled on his breeches, and he tugged a heavy woollen tunic over his head as he spoke. "Wake Hanessë. Tell her to go to the Court Hall and ask after Alcarwë. They'll have sent a messenger there to report if anything's happened."
"What do you mean, if anything-"
Canamírë turned sharply to look at her. His eyes held an unsettling gloss of fear. "Last night, Alcarwë told me that he was leaving early this morning to look at a site that had prospects of becoming a valuable silver mine, and settle a claim dispute on the land. So when you tell me that three miners have run down from the hills and need to speak to me urgently, I can only fear that..." Unable to finish, he clenched his jaw and swallowed the thought.
"I'll wake Hanessë," Silarië murmured.
"I'll send word back with a runner as soon as I can." Canamírë stepped into his shoes, and was out the door.
Silarië watched him disappear into the trees, still struggling to pin his cloak as he chased the three already sprinting ahead. When they were out of sight, she slowly turned and rationally remembered to fasten the door before climbing the stairs to Hanessë's room. A surreal sort of lightheadedness had already started to settle.
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.