For Wesley—this is my bunny. His name is Carrot, because I was three and extremely creative. He’s been my best bud ever since Easter of ‘84, when my grandparents gave him to me in my Easter basket. Candy is eaten in moments, but a good bunny is for life. He still sits beside my bed to protect me. A good bunny is a important thing to have, you know.
Túrin looked up, struck suddenly immobile at the appearance of this stranger. His wary eyes followed her for a few moments, and his hand closed fully around the hilt of his knife. There lingered still in his mind some residual fear and wrath toward the swarthy Easterlings, the nightmares of his childhood, and though this woman differed wildly from those hated invaders in a manner far too pertinent for him to miss, he could not quite contain some reflexive bile rising in his throat at the sight of her.
As a result, his reply, when it came, was altogether less cordial than one might have expected. Though that may also have had something to do with an increasing, hair-raising feeling that theirs were not the only eyes that witnessed the scene before them.
"That would depend on what assistance you planned to offer."
The distrust was not unexpected.
The level of disgust she felt from him, however, was.
Perhaps it should not have been. She’d experienced such things before, those who looked at her heritage and saw some inherent evil looking back at them. But no matter how often it happens, can anything really prepare one for such a reaction? She sighed somewhat bitterly. One of those.
She moved forward just another step, seeing how his hand had gone to the hilt of a blade. Her own heavy kukri short-sword hung at her waist, but she quite deliberately kept her hands open and loose and far from it.
"Well, I do count myself a healer, and a skilled one," she answered, a note of amusement entering her voice. She jerked her chin toward his hand. "Seems to me a healer might be of assistance to you just now. If you could find it in you to let a stranger of my ilk touch you, that is."
Let’s play a game.
Type the following words into your tags box, then post the first automatic tag that comes up.
When Berúthiel returned to her chambers, there was a bit of parchment wedged into the thin space between door and frame, rustling slightly in the breeze. She plucked it out, curious, and read over the note, puzzling through the strangely clumsy handwriting and then blinking down at it, confused. Maeglin had written her a note to tell her he didn’t remember what he wanted to ask? And the handwriting—she felt concern prickle at her skin and turned around without entering her rooms, heading off to see if she could locate her friend.
Beryl, though; that was almost sweet, knowing Maeglin’s fondness for mineralogy! She smiled fondly and quickened her steps.
His eyes did not look away from her as she spoke. Had he been sober, however, Maeglin suspected that he would be unable to maintain a sort of bearing in this situation - there was once a time where he longed for these kinds of words and the feeling of acceptance shared through gesture and emotion. Once he had hardened himself and shut himself off, harboring a festering well of bitterness and unconfronted inside a thick shell of armor…
And here he was, sharing thought-speech, memories, and his time with another and enjoying it. The inordinate amount of wine he drank earlier made his awareness more lucid on the matter and loosened his tongue into an answer though his articulation was slow to keep from being muddled. As Berúthiel tightened her grip he shifted weight on his feet towards her for a moment, before starting to walk slowly after she finished speaking.
"Unexpected, certainly," Maeglin started haltingly, the curve of his eyebrows telling of his discomfort of the uncertainty in how to approach the expression of these thoughts. "But… not unwelcome… There are no expectations from those I come across. It is thoughtless, perhaps, but easier to simply make assumptions. And I had assumed you to be mortal and foolish like the rest of them. But you are… different. You have said it well - it feels, not just seems, that we are similar in spirit." Momentarily, his fingertips dug into her arm in reflex to the warmth rising in his face again.
"What I am attempting to tell you… You are intriguing to me, if boldness with honesty is wise. Further, you are beautiful in a way I have not at all expected or seen before. This is all disorienting…” For a second he stole a sidelong glance at her to see her face and see how she was reacting. Then he looked away and was quiet for a moment while choosing his next words. In the end, he could not articulate them but let the thoughts and tangible weight of warm sentiments, friendship, and delight of her companionship ebb and flow towards her. Simultaneously, there was a chill of uncertainty and anxiety welling beneath it all, threatening to overtake the more pleasant exchange. Inexperience, or the one poorly handled experience, developed an instinctual reaction that once kept him uninterested but now it seemed a barrier.
He started once again, on a new subject. “I do not remember what it was I was going to tell you, that prompted that note in your room. Though it may have been that I had witnessed someone make a spectacular fool of themselves…”
Berúthiel listened quietly as Maeglin tried to explain himself. Perhaps it was not the best time to have broached such a subject, when he had been drinking and emotions were already running so high and strange between them. But perhaps, she mused, it was the only time. How might he have reacted, have acted in general, had the wine not loosened those barriers he built about himself? She had her own barriers, high and tight and strong, and she knew how drink could topple them—or at least open their doors. There was a saying among her people—truth waits at the bottle’s end. She wondered if the elves had a similar one.
She watched him carefully as they walked together, her head tilted up and her eyes wide and soft, lips just parted. Few might have ever seen such an expression on her face, in fact, for there were few she had ever trusted enough to show it to before. Her cheeks felt hot despite the cool, damp breeze which lifted off the Bruinen far below them and gusted sweetly through the paths and passages of this little haven. It was that kind of evening; somehow she felt as if they two were the only ones about for miles, so private and intimate did this thing between them feel.
She laughed a little at his words to her, shaking her head. “Oh, but I am mortal and foolish, Maeglin,” she answered him. “In my own way. But I will admit—I am much like you. It is easier to make assumptions. Elves I was taught to be arrogant people, strange and thoughtlessly cruel, thieves of all that made Men themselves. And I have met elves like that, yes, and I—” she broke off, shrugging a bit helplessly. “I know better, but I cannot help but assume all elves will be thus. But you are different, indeed.”
Her chin tilted up another fraction to find his eyes as the emotions he shared with her washed through her in waves. She met them with opened arms and gave him back her own. Affection and gentle warmth, trust soft and dry as cat’s fur. Understanding and support and patience which wrapped themselves around his anxiety and fear like a soft blanket around chilled flesh. And, somewhere deep beneath it all, an offer of more. No expectations, no jealousy or covetousness. Simply—an offer, open and free, should he ever desire it.
And then she smiled, and laughed aloud, and took the change of direction he offered. “A fool of themselves? My, I am sorry to have missed it. You know my terribly feline sense of humor, and there are many here who could use a wee upset to their dignity now and again!”
Perhaps she was even one of them.
"Herbs are fine, though I haven’t had the chance to try much spicy foods. Perhaps today will be my chance," he answered, then drank again, sighing at the rich taste. He’d heard of peppers from far to the east that would make your mouth feel as if it had been set aflame. Hopefully their meal would not be that intense.
Berúthiel laughed a bit and adjusted the seasonings by eye and the skill of long practice rather than by any sort of measurement. “I shall add enough spice for interest, then, but not so much as to overwhelm your delicate senses,” she teased, adding just a pinch of a dark red pepper powder to the mix.
The fashions in Mithlond were more airy and light than in the other elven kingdoms, he had noted. There was no point in wearing an abundance of heavy fabrics when there was a risk of falling the water. It would only tangle up and weigh someone down and it was not fair to assume Ossë or any of the Oarni would be there to rescue them every single time. It was easier and far more comfortable to wear lighter fabrics that resembled the waves and the winds and while some garments were more decorated, the styles themselves were still simple and far less inhibited.
"I did not know, but I think brilliant minds came to similar conclusions," for as far as he knew, they had not been directly influenced through their trade patterns. He recalled them existing before their trade routes reached so far from home.
"Goodness, I could not let you go around and make others think I starve my guests," he laughed as his attention focused on her stomach. "You are certainly clothed well enough to go about Mithlond, shoes would not even be necessary if you do not wish to worry with them," he assured her with a kind smile.
He offered her the crook his arm and his brows raised. ”Would you mind the company of an old man?”
She laughed, and shrugged lightly. “I suppose there are only so many ways to fasten clothing, and these knotted cords and loops have a certain elegance to the design which makes them functional but also attractive,” she offered.
Berú found herself wondering slightly at his use of the words “brilliant minds” to describe the men of the far East—his ancestral enemies, surely? But then, she had already noted on many occasions that Cirdan seemed rather more open-minded than many of his brethren, so it was not all that surprising, in the end.
Her brow raised at his next words; it seemed Mithlond indeed enjoyed a somewhat more relaxed atmosphere than other elven settlements she had visited. She tried to imagine Thranduil walking his stately underground halls barefoot and in only a single simple robe and nearly choked at the image it made. She could see Elrond thus neither, though perhaps some of his household? Shaking her head, she took the offered arm and smiled up at the tall, bearded elf.
"I should be more than happy to enjoy the company of a friend," she replied, "whatever his age!"