Hanessë allowed herself only enough time to dress and comb her hair before leaving for the Court Hall with an ashen grey face and shaking hands. But when she returned a short while later, followed closely by a husband who looked to be neither dead nor in any sort of danger, it was confusion rather than fear that shaped her features. Alcarwë, though, wore an uncertain frown as he stepped through the door and pulled off his cloak.
"What is this, the morning of endless delays?" He looked over a sitting room full of worried faces: Silarië, the Sindarin women, their husbands, and the man from next door who had been hired to build the fence. One of the Sindarin women murmured words of thanks to her tightly clasped hands.
"What's wrong, here? You all look terrified."
"I told you, we thought you'd died," said Hanessë, gently touching his arm. "Died or been badly injured."
"Why would you think that?"
Hanessë gave a small sort of cough. "Silarië thought it. Men came to the door asking after Canamírë, and said... Well, I'm not sure what they said. I was not yet awake. But Silarië came upstairs to tell me that she thought this meant you had been killed."
Alcarwë turned to her with a questioning look. "Silarië?"
"I..." she began. "I mean, Canamírë thought... Miners. They were three miners that came to the door. They seemed very rushed, and asked for Canamírë. He said you had told him you were visiting a mine this morning, and he assumed... was sure that three miners running down from the hills to get him meant that somehow you had been... that something had gone wrong."
"But they said nothing about why they had come," Alcarwë replied. "I think they would have asked to speak to Hanessë, had I been injured or killed."
At his side, Hanessë laughed softly, though the sound was forced. "Of course, of course they would..."
The relief that had coursed through Silarië's blood at the sight of Alcarwë coming up the road turned just as quickly to embarrassment and stupid humiliation. How silly it had been to jump to conclusions and panic like that. Of course the miners would have said something. They would have mentioned Alcarwë's name. One would have stayed behind to comfort Hanessë. But they had seemed so rushed, and Canamírë had been so certain.
"Canamírë was only worried about you," she said quietly. It was justification enough in her mind.
"That is admirable," said Alcarwë. "If excessive."
"He thought you were at a silver mine. It's an easy step to make to think that you might have been in danger..."
"And I would be at the mine now, if not for these constant delays." Shaking Hanessë off his arm, he pulled his cloak back on. "First the guides are late, then a horse turns up lame, and then my wife running down the road to Court like a wild thing in panic over a rumour that I am dead..."
"Oh, don't go now!" said Hanessë. "It's bad luck. Ill thoughts will be on that mine today."
Turning back briefly, Alcarwë paused to kiss her cheek. "I'm sorry, Hanessë, but I must. We're terribly late already, and it's a long ride up the mountain just to reach the site. The others are still waiting at the Hall. If we don't leave now, I won't be home until after midnight. I'll be late enough as it is."
"I am always careful."
With a half smile, Hanessë ran a finger down the scar under his eye. In the next moment he was out the door and gone.