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The Beginning of the End by Urloth

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Amber verse fic. The prequel to Words like Pearls, Love like Life.

 

The rain was making a lovely drumming sound against the tent roof. Dragging a quilt over his shoulders, Liltafinwë toed on his slippers and crept from his bedding, past the partition screen, to hover at the foot of his father’s bed.

At thirty five he knew he was too old to go sneaking into his father’s bed but the rain, despite its soothing drone, had left him feeling startled and uneasy with his surroundings. The pre-dawn darkness (was it even an hour called morning?) did not help.  Everything felt wrong but he could not place his finger on the degree. All he knew was that the wrongness and unease rolled around inside him to such a degree that he was starting to feel sick.

He shivered, watching his breath rise before his face like a mist.

“Lilta,” his father sighed softly, mellifluous voice husky with sleep, “stop hovering and come into bed. Don’t catch a chill.”

Permission acquired, he wasted no time in crawling under the pile of quilts and blankets. He did not stop until he was resting against his Father’s side, one arm thrown over Turkafinwë’s chest.

He could feel the padding of the bandages there, just beneath the night shirt, and hummed softly in worry. His father sighed and turned into his side to face him. In the darkness, Tyelkormo’s cuiviénen eyes swallowed up all the sclera and left nothing but eye shaped pools of black to peer into.  

As a child it had been Lilta’s greatest joy that he had inherited his father’s eyes, but as he had grown older he had noticed his eyes did not expand as far in the darkness, and the black was in fact a intense and dark shade of blue. His disappointment had been bitter indeed.

His father had been practical about it though. “It takes two to make a child,” he had reminded Liltafinwë who had been dealt the double blow of realising there were fine strands of gold mixed with the silver in the cream colour of his hair; rending his hair also no longer that of his father’s. (It was not noticeable unless under bright sunlight, something he avoided for this reason.)

“Nerves?” his father asked.

“I’ve never gone to war before,” he mumbled. He knew better than to glorify it when Tyelkormo’s Lord Lavarisse walked with a limp, Curufinwë’s Lord Sárómë’s beautiful face was covered in slashing scars, and Lilta’s former nursemaid Hlusserë no longer had a sister, though she kept reaching for the missing woman.

And these three women were only a minor representation of the daily on going effects of their lifestyle he saw.

When Liltafinwë finally saw war would he lose an eye like Linquemaril? An arm like Belellen? (though apparently she had lost her arm before the wars.) A hand like Uncle Matimo?

His smile like Uncle Ambarussa?

“I wish you did not have to experience this,” his father mumbled, pressing kisses to his hair, “my little dancer, you were not made for this. I wish I could wrap you up in in Valmarin silk, and twine black pearls, sapphires and diamonds all through your hair, and put you atop of Mindon Eldaliéva away from everything bad in this world but I know that is no way to raise a child.”

The rain chose to pick up, and for a moment they saw the tent-poles of their tent backlit as lightening chose to strike.

“And you would hate me,” his father added as an afterthought. Thunder roared overhead.

“I would be very irritated at you,” Liltafinwë shivered and his father tucked further quilts around him, “but I could never hate you.”

Liltafinwë hooked his fingers in the chain always around his father’s neck, gold with medallions of golden flowers along it, and drew out the flat rectangle pendant of warm white stone. He ran his fingers over the familiar engravings.

He wasn’t sure about the story of the pendant. He knew it had something to do with him. He had vague, incredibly vague, memories of his father gently pressing this pendant to his forehead as a infant and mumbling blessings. And Uncle Curvo had a sketch of Liltafinwë as a newborn, wrapped in swaddling with this necklace over the top.

His father sighed, caught Lilta’s hands and held the pendant with him for a moment before tucking it back into his shirt.

“I’m not a child anymore,” he reminded his father, his fidgeting hands immediately starting to play with the end of Tyelkormo’s long silver and cream shaded braid.

“No,” his father smiled sadly, “but you are not an adult yet either. Stuck between the two, poor you.” He chuckled at Liltafinwë’s pout.

“We really need to get back to sleep,” his father brushed a hand against Gildor’s cheek, the feel of it rough with the bite scars from the many hounds that had attacked his father after Huan’s betrayal.

“I try, I can’t, my heart is beating too fast,” Liltafinwë mumbled.

“MMnnn,” his father sighed.

“Counted sheep?”

“Yes.”

“Counted hedgehogs?”

“Yes.”

“Counted backwards from one hundred?”

“Yes.”

“A thousand?”

“Yes,” Liltafinwë’s voice clicked with annoyance.

“How about this: think of all the enjoyable things you have learned from your uncles and me over the years. If anything it’s revision.”

His father yawned.

Lilta pursed his lips and thought about it. He thought about the fiery mathematics lessons with Uncle Moryo; the intensive lapidary and metallurgy sessions with Uncle Curvo.

Uncle Kana’s hands gently readjusting his grip on a flute, harp or bodhran, and those same hands adjusting his posture so that the air flowed properly as he took a breath to sing.

He yawned.

Uncle Ambarussa teaching him how to shoot a bow and arrow; followed quickly by how to retrieve an arrow from someone’s tent and patch up the hole without anybody noticing.

Uncle Matimo teaching him serati, because that was how his father and uncles had learned their reading and writing; focusing on the history before the function.

It had forced them, as it had forced Liltafinwë, to teach themselves tengwar if they wanted to read Fëanáro’s script. Then Uncle Matimo had taught him a chaser of Doriathrin Cirth, because you never knew when the Þindar of Doriath would try and sneak messages past you written in Daeron’s script.

His eyes grew heavy.

His father teaching him the speech of animals. How to track, hunt and survive in the wilderness.

C…calligraphy.

His body relaxed into the crook of Tyelkormo’s arm.

Uncle Moryo’s history lessons that nearly always dissolved into equally educational arguments with the nearest brother over various historical inaccuracies.

Of the Þerindë, and why he should not listen to the mantra of other Noldor that women were somehow lesser beings by virtue of what resided in their braes.

Not when all of his father's men had abandoned him at Nargothrond,but not his father's women, making the army all the stronger for it.

Philosophy…which had always resulted in as many arguments as his history lessons.

Secretly being taught broidery by Uncle Moryo who always seemed so embarrassed…

Star gazing with Uncle Kana.

Constellations.

Bright stars blazing in unique formations.

He barely felt the warm kisses pressed to his forehead as he fell back asleep.