1. The Holly and the Ivy
"Some say that Yavanna dies in winter, and each spring revives when Vána and Nienna come to weep for her.
"They have not seen the White Lady walking, clad but in her skin, her hair all dusty ivy, her lips berry red. She goes mourning the kingdom of earth, wailing windy day and night, her bare feet leaving scarlet stains upon the icy ground.
"In the withered fields and stark forests, they bloom in her wake: holly and ivy, to stand and to hold against the days of death – gifts, to save us all against the white despair of winter."
The clouds had spilled westward from the mountains, 'til they clotted all the sky. The fierce winds knifed through furs and wool, 'til heat leached from their blood. In that driving white wasteland, what could two Rangers hope for?
They would die here, the elder thought, too far from Bree or Fornost to reach either…
Then it appeared: a vague, red-decked shadow – Holly! The deer's wallow welcomed them. Knives cut into earth; dry leaves and branches fed their little fire. Snow and berries made tea – bitter, but the cold-fog lifted.
And the White Lady shook her locks, and passed on.
"The land is broad and vast. Beneath the cold, Yavanna lies, dusty and patient as the seeds she's sown.
"To all Men, she has given a seed to tend, and rooted it deep within their hearts. Some come to Spring, and shoot up like grass, swift and fresh; others need many Springs to show their true form, like the oak. Some are sweet as daisies, others fierce as roses.
"And some seeds die. Some grow vicious weeds.
"But to Men in winter, Kementári gives holly and ivy, twined together: holly for boldness, and ivy for loyalty, to succor the world."
She was a Vale-girl – learned all the rose rites, the old hymns and rhymes – and in her springtime, there'd been many who'd courted her. She'd laughed, tried them all – why not? Marriage would cover…
But t'was the caravaner lad who caught her: though City-bound, his eyes and high spirit beckoned, and so they'd pledged, and Imloth Melui's Rose bloomed in Minas Tirith.
A good bed they'd made – joyful, decked with Yavanna's ivy – but never got children.
Now, in the world's eventide, Ioreth, ivy-locked, faces the darkness, and finally understands Kementári's blessing: Thou shalt mother a city, or nothing at all.
"Bless winter, when the land lies fallow
Bless flint and tinder, honor tallow
Bless the grain asleep in sheds
Bless the ploughmen in their beds
"Bless the maslin-thatchèd hall
Bless the hearth a-sheltering all
Bless the roots that keep all fed
Bless the goodwives in their beds
"Bless this land by which we live
Bless the bounty that it gives
Bless Yavanna's growing power
Bless my love, lies in my bower
"Bless the seeds that we shall sow
Bless the children that shall grow
Bless the hearth and bless the snow
A-clothing Lady Misteltoe
Bless our ivy-lockèd queen –
In the Smials, come Yuletide, they gather by the great hearth: men to one side, women facing, and sing.
In praise of holly, hardy, bold, the men belt their songs, taunting: Show us your ivy!
Then the women join hands and lace about them, singing for ivy that tops holly, 'til the company's so thick, a kiss only makes sense.
There's a trick to it, to end by the one you want. After a hard year's siege, Diamond's determined. She twirls free to Peregrin Took.
"I can sing more," she teases.
"No doubt!" he laughs. "Snowberry truce?" She grins.
Notes: The song contest was something gleaned from a Wikipedia reference, which lacks citation unfortunately, so who knows where the idea came from? But it's a fun idea, so I borrowed it. It also handily let me shove "misteltoe" in there.
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.