7. Chapter 7
The day has passed, slowly, since Nisrin left. Farielle was all but overwhelmed by visions of water - water spilling down the waterfall outside their house, water gurgling in the brook, water lapping at the shores of the sea, water splashing grey and cool on the pond on rainy winter days, the water in the jug just beside her bed. It was all she could do not to reach over and pour the contents of that jug down her throat. She lay in bed and concentrated with all her strength on something else. Anything else.
She drifted, letting the small sounds of the tent wash in and out of awareness. It was so hot. The sun here must be hotter than the sun at home. Someone laughed, and she was swept into a sudden memory. She'd been 10 maybe, or 11. Lomin had been away to Dol Amroth - the first time they'd ever been apart for more than a few days. But he was to be home any day now, and she had decided to go up the road a little ways to meet him. The sun had been hot then, too.
Spring is come, and everything is rejoicing - the fields have never been greener, the sky never bluer. The sun shines brightly over rippling brooks and wind-blown trees - and one young girl, about 11, who has strewn her hair with flowers and is hanging over a stone fence watching the road.
A small cloud of dust rises down the road, stamped by swift and slender feet. It is Lominzil, just one year older, blue-eyed, wild-haired, and his sister's twin, were he not pink and breathless from running. Indeed, his sprint carries him past the girl...
"Lomin, Lomin!" Farielle shrieks, jumping down and running through the gate after him. Her flowers slip cockeyed on her head, until they are hanging over one ear; her hair is unbraiding itself.
Lominzil screeches to a halt and promptly droops, panting as his thick dark hair slips damply into his eyes: he is long overdue for a haircut. "Fari!" he emits excitedly, then frowns and reaches for the knapsack on his back. It is open.
"Oh," he murmurs, trotting back down the road and away from her, "I dropped my book."
"You are /still/ always dropping things!" she scolds him, smiling hugely. She turns and skips along the road beside him. "What book is it? Did you learn lots and lots? Remember, you promised to tell me /everything/!"
Lominzil picks up the book, child-sized but quite old and dusty, and stuffs it back into his knapsack. "Sir Aramore says I am clumsy as an ox," sighs he, scuffing his boot. "It is about history! About Elves and Men and the West. I would tell you, but Gwaithmir tells better stories."
Farielle stops as the flower crown threatens to loose hold on her head entirely, and readjusts it, frowning with concentration. "You're not clumsy," she says heatedly, then her eyes grow wide. "Elves? Our elves or other ones?" She giggles, tucking her hand into his arm. "I know he does, but I want you to tell it. I will make Gwaithmir tell me other stories."
"Other Elves," decides Lominzil firmly. "There was one called Nolfingol, and his brother made a star. The brother also invented tengwar! But Golfinnol was the one who fought in single combat with the Foe." He takes Farielle's arm, planting a brotherly kiss on the top of her head. "Gwaithmir is going to run out of stories someday!"
"He /made/ a star?" Farielle sounds awed. She walks along beside him, skipping a step now and then. "I didn't know even the elves could do /that/!" Single combat with the Foe doesn't seem to interest her very much as she chatters on. "I have made you a present. To say 'welcome home'. But it is a surprise, and I'm not telling you what it is. Not until after supper! And, Lomin, guess what! The old mare had a foal! Even papa was surprised. He laughed and said he didn't know old Barahun had it in him - he must have jumped the fence."
"I am hungry already," complains Lominzil, his stomach growling like a wolf. "A foal, you say?" he replies, his eyes round as saucers. "Goodness! If it is Barahun's child, it will have a bumpy gait! And then you will fall if you are not careful -- like I did in Dol Amroth," he adds, tugging his sleeve up to show, proudly, a fading scar. "I broke my arm."
"Come on then!" Farielle tugs at his arm. "Mother made ... but that is a surprise too!" She hasn't stopped smiling since she's seen him - or possibly since she woke up that morning - or quite possibly since the foal was born last week. Or maybe since she was born. But she stops in sheer shock and stares at his arm. "You /broke/ it! Lominzil, what were you /doing/?" A sniff and a toss of her hair. "I will not fall off. Is it all healed? It doesn't hurt anymore does it? No one even /told/ me!" She sounds very aggrieved by this last failing.
"I was sparring with another Page," recalls the boy, waving his arm officiously, "and nearly beat him down! But then he swung and I caught it the wrong way. It was sticking out like this." Lominzil demonstrates with great gusto. "The healers say that it will be fine before I become a Squire."
Farielle's eyes are entirely round as her brother demonstrates how his arm looked. "Didn't it hurt?" she asks, awed, then sighs enviously. "You're so brave. I have never broken anything, and I don't want to either!"
"Not very much!" says Lominzil confidently, beaming down at his sister. "Well, yes. Somewhat. Very much so. But I don't remember what happened after that," he admits. "Only that I wasn't allowed to go outside, and had to read many many books in bed. And write with the left hand -- my 'r's will never be the same."
"I bet you were bored," Farielle says wisely. Then she giggles. "Stuck inside reading! Poor Lomin! It is too bad Gwaithmir wasn't there, he likes doing that."
"Yes, but he would never break an arm," Lominzil points out. He adjusts his knapsack and fluffs his hair back out of his face. "Is Gwaithmir well? Eruiglas sends his love from Dol Amroth, of course. He is terribly busy, being a New Knight and all."
Horse hooves on ancient pavers announces the arrival of another to the scene. 'Round one of the old Elven dwellings comes a tall chestnut hunter, simply saddled, though the rings of her bridle bear the star of the Girithlin. Her rider is a comely young man, his pale complexion suffused with the glow of joy so often seen on the faces of the young in spring. The man's tunic is rolled up behind him, leaving him in his shirtsleeves. A small harp is attached to the back of his saddle, where most would carry saddle bags. His free hand, resting on his knee, carries a bouquet of wildflowers.
"Oh yes," she answers sunnily. "He is making up songs again. I think papa..." The sound of hooves brings her head around. "Well, you can see for yourself."
Lominzil spins about, still slightly pink from his sprint. "Oh," he says, tilting his head quizzically. "The air in Minas Tirith must have gotten to him! Are those flowers?"
Bringing his horse to a stop, Gwaithmir raises said flowers as though surprised, "Why, so they are, Master Observant! Your knight must be every day praising your attention to details." Lightly dismounting, Gwaithmir ruffles Lominzil's hair. To Farielle, however, he bows and presents the flowers, "For you, my lady." He gives his little sister a smile that could melt stone.
Farielle turns pink. And more unusually, silent. Eyes sparkling with delight, she curtsies very carefully, and takes the flowers. "Thank you, kind sir," she says gravely. And the dam is broken. "They're for me!" she tells Lomin loftily. "Men are allowed to carry flowers when they are giving them to Ladies! Gwaithmir, Lomin is home!"
"Hello, Brother! He makes me read books and calls me an ox," mutters Lominzil, his hair draping floppily over his face. To Farielle he looks adoringly, scrubbing his grimy hands on his trousers. "I haven't any flowers," he admits regretfully.
Gwaithmir grins at Farielle's enthusiasm, carrying that smile over to Lominzil. "Why this hatred of books, Lomin? They are lovely things. Filled with stories about brave knights, hopeless quests, and beautiful ladies! Being a Knight is more than waving a sword about. You must learn all the courtly graces, too, like Eruiglas. Perhaps I could lend you some of my clothes, a few books, and my harp. We may make a lord of you, yet!" There is a teasing air to his tone, and he ends his suggesting by tickling Farielle's ribs.
"Mmm?" Farielle looks up from admiring her bouquet, clearly imagining she is indeed a great lady. "Oh. Don't be silly, Lomin. You brought you. That's just as good." She looks worriedly up at Gwaithmir - she wasn't insulting his gift, truly! - and then writhes and gasps with unwilling laughter and bats at his hands. "Stop it, stop it!" She darts away from him, hiding behind Lominzil.
"Next time I will bring you flowers," decides Lominzil. He scowls most fiercely and, arms akimbo, plants his scuffed boots firmly before Gwaithmir, squinting up at him. "Stay thy hand, most fearsome villain! For I would not have thee harm the fair lady so!" The effect is somewhat spoiled by his voice, which breaks in the middle.
Taken momentarily off-guard (or perhaps trying not to laugh at Lomin's untimely squeaking), Gwaithmir blinks at his younger brother. And then he draws himself up to full height, "Out of my way, sir Knight! The lady is mine, as just reward for my victory in the...the...harping contest, and I will claim her!" He bends down quickly to pluck up a weaponly twig, which he holds offensively at Lomin.
Farielle giggles. Raising her voice to a higher pitch, she says, "Oh mine brave champion, I should- shouldst give thee a favor!" Holding her bouquet in one hand, she tries to untie her sole remaining hair ribbon with the other - finally managing it after much crossing of eyes and sticking out of tongues. "There," she says triumphantly, draping it over Lominzil's shoulder. "I bestoweth this upon thee, brave sir knight. May - Mayest thou be victorious!"
Patting the ribbon, Lominzil looks over at Farielle and beams reassuringly, scooping up a twig of his own. "Gracious lady, have no fear!" And he darts towards Gwaithmir's knees with a child's agility, poking at the booted shin.
Gwaithmir gives a cry of agony, bending his knee up so that he is now one-legged. "Aaagh! 'Tis only a scratch!" He pokes his stick at Lominzil, ineffectual little jabs that are not meant to land, meanwhile hopping about on his one foot with surprising agility. "Take that, wretch! And that, and that, and that..." The art of the bards has allowed him to twist his whole countenance into one of menace and supreme arrogance - a literary villain, to be sure.
"Yield, sirrah, and thou mayest yet live!" Lominzil whacks the whippy stick about, but it finds a rocks and breaks near his hand! Not to be found at a loss, the boy -- a slender Girithlin, but well-fed and partly trained -- yells fiercely and throws himself bodily at the bigger form of his brother.
Gwaithmir gives a crow of triumph at Lominzil's broken stick. A crow that soon turns into a cry of frustration. One slender Girithlin hitting another, and though Gwaithmir has the advantage of size and height, he is also short one foot. He goes tumbling to the ground, landing hard enough that an involuntary 'oof!' is drawn from him. He pokes at Lominzil's shoulder with his stick, this time meaning to hit, "Thou canst not get the better of me! For I am Lord Gannel of...Ganneldor!" He laughs maniacally.
The girl bounces from foot to foot, then darts in, bending to pick up Lominzil's half-stick. Jabbing it down at Gwaitmir's shoulder, she shouts, "You're dead! I mean - Thou hast been defeated!"
"Oh, I am slain!" cries the page, throwing his head back in agony. "Lady, I have failed you ... eh?" He blinks as the 'lady' delivers the finishing blow to Lord Gannel of Ganneldor.
Gwaithmir gurgles as he is stabbed. "Farewell, cruel world!" he exclaims, fist shaking at the apathetic sun. And then his arm falls, body going slack, head tilted to the side, and eyes staring unmoving at a rock.
Farielle laughs with pleasure. "We have won, Lomin!" But after a minute, her smile starts to fade. "Gwaith?" She drops to her knees beside him, still clutching the bedraggled flowers in one hand, and shaking him with the other. "Gwaith... stop that!" A note of real anxiety has sharpened her voice, for all she knows it is only pretend.
Lominzil also has no answer; he drapes lightly over Gwaithmir's elbow, lashes knit and tangled on a pale cheek.
Gwaithmir doesn't react to Farielle's supplications at first. It's the worry in her tone that calls him to action, turning to smile at her. "No worries, dearest. Just a game. Alas," he gestures with his thumb to Lominzil without stirring the arm on which his brother rests, "I fear your champion was also vanquished."
"Please, Gwaith... Lomin..." Farielle is almost in tears now, until the older of the brothers 'wakes up'. "Don't /do/ that!" she says, relief making her scold. "Yes," she considers, looking at the younger boy. "But didn't he do well? He knocked you over and everything! He will be a great knight, I know it. Lomin, wake up!"
Vanquished champion stirs, bearing a stupidly apologetic smile. "I am sorry. I will not do it again. Oh, Gwaithmir, I have mussed your clothing.
Gwaithmir pushes Lominzil off of him gently. "He will make a fine knight, I am sure. You...you what?" This to Lominzil. Gwaithmir checks himself out quickly, discovering every wrinkle that he then begins to assiduously pat down. "The cost of warfare, I am afraid. What reward would you have for your victory, sir Knight?"
Farielle sits back on her heels, smiling again. "It is all right," she says with an air of lofty unconcern. "It is /good/ for him to have wrinkles!"
"Tell him you want... tell him..." She tries to help Lominzil without really being able to think of anything.
"Dinner," says Lominzil earnestly, accompanied by the growling sound of his stomach.
"I will go and pack us a picnic, then." Gwaithmir gives his horse a considering glance. "I will leave you Heleth. You may wander about Edhellond with her, if you like, but do not let me hear of you racing through the fields, you hear me?" A warning finger is pointed at Lominzil.
"You would have had that anyways," Farielle says disgustedly. "You should have asked for.... for half his kingdom! Or his daughter's hand in marriage! Or... " She squeals. "We can ride Heleth?" Diving at Gwaithmir, she hugs him ruthlessly about the middle.
"He hasn't a daughter yet, and his kingdom is woven of wind and song." Lominzil beams upward at Gwaithmir. "Will there be apples?"
Gwaithmir lets Farielle cling to him for a minute before plucking her up beneath her arms to set her in Heleth's saddle. The reins, that he left trailing along the ground, are collected and set in Fariel's hands. "Be careful, dearest." With that he begins to move off towards their father's manor, "There will be apples!" he calls back cheerfully to Lomin.
"I am /always/ careful," Farielle shouts after him, indignantly. But it melts like ice in the sun as she grins down at Lominzil. "Climb up! Where shall we go?"
The page-boy clambers up into the saddle, peering delightedly over Farielle's head. "To the horizon of that hill, and back!" he exclaims delightedly.
Farielle reins the horse around, and leans forward, urging it into a sedate canter - mindful (for the moment!) of Gwaithmir's instructions about no racing.
Smiling at the memory, Farielle drifted into sleep.
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.