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Strange Beginnings by Urloth

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Just so there's no confusion:

This is set before the Eldar were summoned to Aman. (Prehistoric tolkien maybe? Nah. Needs more dinosaurs.)
Imin and Iminyë, Tata and Tatië and Elen and Elenyë were the first three pairs of elves to awaken. Then they went walk about and found other elves. Imin's people became the Vanya, Tata's people became the Noldo after he found not only one group but a second of "tall dark haired" star gazers and Elen hit the jackpot and his people became the Silvan's and Sinda and the Teleri.
Míriel wakes up and knows only that her name is Míriel and she is alone. There are trees all around her, young and virgin like her flesh and she presses a palm to the bark of one and strokes it gently for a few moments. Her hand is tiny. She walks amongst them for a very long time, searching, but she does not know what for. All she knows is that her name is Míriel, and she is young; not even full grown yet.

She walks for untold time and the only light about is the light that comes from her very self, just beneath her skin. She does not feel too afraid, there is a presence that makes her feel safe. She sleeps when she is tired, chews upon herbs she knows will not harm her when she is hungry but she does not know how she knows that. All she knows is her name is Míriel, she is young; not even grown yet, and her hair is silver.

Eventually she finds herself near a fire and pauses in the trees, frightened and unsure. The light throws up flickering snatches of those who sit around it: Hands passing needles through cloth, back and forth, back and forth, till a design emerges and hands swaying in a dance as they guide weft and weave, their looms going whirl-click-hum without pause. But then there is a pause and eyes of many colours blaze in the darkness and stare right at her. There is a movement and someone is walking towards her, a woman tall and beautiful, who kneels before the shaking Míriel and opens her arms expectantly. Míriel does not know why but she falls into those arms and lets the woman embrace her tightly. All she knows is her name is Míriel, she is young; not even grown yet, her hair is silver and her eyes are the same flame colour as the woman who kisses her hair and murmurs soft words till the fear and uncertainty is banished.

They are the women of the Tall Dark Ones and belong to Tatië, it is explained to Míriel. “But do not fear, sometimes we have amongst us hues of starlight…” says Mirillandië, the woman who came for her when terror froze her in the trees, catching sight of Míriel glancing down at her tangled, silver hair in worry. Mirillandië, herself, has hair the colour of the darkest berries they eat when they desire tart sweetness. It is such a vivid mane and parts of it are so dark they seem black till starlight falls upon it and you see that black is simply a hue of red so intense it must hide itself away.

Mirillandië will be her mother, she is told, but only if she wants this to be so. Míriel wants this very much so Mirillandië calls her daughter, kisses her hair and braids it for her. Míriel calls her mother and beams at her when Mirillandië sighs in delight over the silver of Míriel’s hair.

Míriel is taught to weave and embroider by the others. They are all the same here, their hands are deft, their designs and cloth are brilliant and unique to each of them but Míriel’s hands are the quickest and the loom doesn’t just hum but sings when she plays it. They are all curved in the chest and hip, and their hair falls in thick dark ropes down their backs save Míriel’s, which falls in a thick rope but one of starlight. They all sing as they work, the music coming to them naturally and the sound sinks into her and bonds with her bones. Mirillandië makes her a beautiful dress to wear instead of the hide tunic she woke up in, and teaches Míriel the complicated little stitches that will one day make her work the envy of all.

She is Míriel and she grows at an alarming pace, achieving a smaller version of the curves they all have, her hair is silver and her eyes are flame, her hands are the deftest and she wishes she was Mirillandië’s daughter in full.

“But you are…” Marillië of the darkest hair and the warmest smile tells her. They are sitting and watching Nuldahandë coax a girl who is hiding in the trees to her. The girl is as Míriel was when she came to the fire, only half grown by their reckoning. Her eyes are huge and dark and scared and her hands tremble where they clutch the tree she hides behind. She has Nuldahandë‘s red mouth and sharp nose, indeed the likeness is startling.

“I am?” she asks in disbelief.

“There are no more dreamers to awaken beneath the trees. You had to come from somewhere. You came from Mirillandië and her man.”

“What is a man?” she doesn’t know which question to ask first, it all bubbles up inside her in confusion and weakness. Something is aching, on the verge of breaking it feels, deep within her chest, under her budding breasts.

“They are the opposite of us. They live close by. We create cloth and clothes for them and they give us hides and furs in return ” the girl is shivering, there is a dark red scratch on one of her arms and Nuldahandë looks frantic and frightened as she calls and coaxes, arms open and ready for her.

“When a man and a woman come together they create a child. They leave their fires and live together elsewhere till that child is half grown then the child’s memories are taken and they must find their way back to the right fire alone before they can be raised into adulthood.”

“Why?” Míriel asks desperately, rocked and shaken apart by this new knowledge, thinking of how frightened she had been, how confused and sad and anxious.

“I…don’t know…but that is the way it has always been done. Even before Tata found us and invited us to join his people.”

The girl finally flies into Nuldahandë’s waiting arms with a soft cry. A small bird finally coming in to nest safely amongst its ilk.

Míriel returns to sitting beside Mirillandië and sees her like it is the first time. Yes they have the same eyes but they have the same smile, the same gestures, and laugh. Their hands are the same shape and have the same dexterity and Míriel looks to be growing to be the same height as Mirillandië.

“Why can’t I remember?” she sobs.

“You will remember in time” Mirillandië promises.

“Why?” she wails sounding as young as she really is. Not ‘why will she remember’ but ‘why did this have to happen’. She loves Mirillandië, the emotion was always there, a clue she overlooked. To know there is half her childhood lost, precious time she spent with this woman she adores that she cannot remember. It is gutting. And then there is the mystery of Mirillandië’s man.

“Because that is how it is always done.” And she is held till the tears go away. Questions remain. Did Mirillandië not love her?

“I love you with every piece of my being” Mirillandië cries in grief when she is asked this and it is Mirillandië’s turn to cry and be held.

The new girl is called Handenésë and is the closest to Míriel’s age. They sit together often and talk a lot about things they are not comfortable talking to the other women about.

“I saw a man…” Handenésë whispers, gleeful. Of course with their sharp hearing the whole group knows but they smile and let their two youngest talk without interruption.

“Just for a moment…” she adds while Míriel’s heart skips with excitement. “There were no breasts and he was tall, even taller than Meldaventë.” Míriel cannot believe that for Meldaventë is very tall indeed, a full handspan higher than Marillië who is the second tallest. “He was following Calarien, just a little behind her but when he saw me he disappeared.”

Calarien does not return to their fire for quite some time and they both watch for her anxiously. When she does return it is with necklace of small bruises, a dress that is rent across the front and a cloak of the distinct weaving of Meldaventë for no one else weaves that waved pattern or embroiders ferns in that way. She is flushed and looks happy despite how her dress is ruined, so happy she glows and her feet dance even more upon the ground then they did before.

Míriel realises, after looking about, that all of the women who have daughters have a woven cloak from another woman’s loom. Many of the women without daughters also have these cloaks.

“Because we give our sons a cloak to remember us by, and our sons use those cloaks to make sure they do not claim their own sisters…” Mirillandië explains when Míriel touches the arrow patterned cloak, the arrow weave nearly obscured by the twining yellow, white and green vines and flowers embroidered lavishly across it. That weave in the cloak Mirillandië has comes from the loom of none other than Calarien’s mother. Since no woman wears any weaving but her own and always wears a cloak of her mother’s weaving she can see how that might help but once the cloaks are mixed up does that not cause problems?

“No…” Mirillandië explains “… men have cloaks of a different style. A woman with a man’s cloak is a woman already claimed. A man will not try and take her…usually.”

Calarien disappears often after that and then one day she is glowing so fiercely it hurts to look at her and Míriel sees her first man. He comes to their fire and she notices the stiffness in all of the women before she sees him and he is indeed a sight to behold. He is indeed taller than Meldaventë and he has Meldaventë’s sable hair and brown eyes thought his face is not familiar. Those eyes remain on Calarien as she packs all her worldly possessions, kisses her weeping mother on both cheeks and then together they disappear into the trees.

“She is pregnant, they have left to raise their child together.” Míriel already knew that but hearing Handenésë say it makes it seem realer, like she didn’t imagine the broad shouldered giant who stood just a few steps from her.

Soon after she meets a man while she is alone for the first time and it is every bit as momentous occasion as she might have imagined it to be.

One moment she is searching for a certain plant that will yield a fine green dye (and the roots boiled are particularly nice to eat) the next moment he has stepped from the trees and she is whirling around in alarm. His hair is starlight and his eyes are the bluish colour of a new bruise. She finds her own nose on his face, something in the set of his shoulders the same as her own despite the different in breadth.

“You are growing well…” he tells her and hugs her against his chest without warning. It is warm and painfully familiar so she knows that he has held her like this before even if this is the only memory she has of it. His scent is comforting, different from the berry sweet of Mirillandië’s but just as nice.

“I don’t remember…”

“I know. That is how it always is.”

“I don’t even remember your name…”

“It is Ilsalto but you never called me that”

“Father”

“Yes”

“Oh…” she croaks and suddenly she doesknow. She knows everything. She remembers everything. Like fire burns away a creeping shadow or frightens away a lurking wolf, the memories banish the pain that has lingered inside her since Marillië told her that Mirillandië abandoned her and stole her memories.

She remembers being lifted high in this man’s arms when she was much smaller, his laughter and his warmth. She remembers her parents together, the strange ways they danced around one another and most of all their love, both of them, for her. She was loved, there is no question, no way to pretend that they did not, do not, love her with every part of themselves save what they use to love each other. But she also remembers being lead out into the forest after waking and finding her limbs growing tired as she stared into her mother’s fiery eyes…and then awakening without a memory of them left to comfort her in the lonely darkness.

“Why?”

“It is the way it is always done.”

She sighs. That is the answer, every time. It grows no more satisfying each time she hears it but she is coming to accept she will never gain anything more.

“We did not wish to do so… there is a presence in the dark now that sometimes spirits people away. I was always a few trees behind you till you found your mother again.” He sighs against her hair, rocking her as she cries the last of her tears and burrows deeper into his embrace. So he was the reassuring presence then, the reason why the darkness did not frighten her as much as she thought it should. She smiles finally and he laughs in delight to see it.

“You really are growing up well…” he comments later as he helps her hunt the plant she came to find “… it will be a bit longer before you are fully grown but I believe I should start administering beatings to the unattached men now so they know not to covert you.”

There is something in his lively tone that tells her he might not be jesting quite as much as she thinks.

He returns with her to the fire. Her mother stares at him with terror and longing in the same glance, eyes wide and body trembling just a little.

“Come with me…” Ilsalto’s voice gains a depth to it, a richness unheard before “… we have not been together since we left our daughter to the woods” and Mirillandië’s body moves with a sensuality Míriel has never seen before as she gets up to take his offered hand, stopping at the last moment when her gaze finds Míriel again. Míriel takes a seat beside Handenésë. Reassured Mirillandië disappears with Ilsalto into the trees.

Handenésë’s eyes look like they are about to fall out of their sockets.

“Who was that?”

“That was my father” Míriel tells her proudly and the words are delicious when they fall off her tongue. Better than berries and better than honey.

Of course this event does not kill all of Míriel’s questions. No, in fact now she has more. For instance: if men and women live separately, how do the two meet and know they wish to join? And what does joining mean?

For some reason every woman she asks either looks terrified, embarrassed or can’t stop laughing long enough to tell her. It must be something spectacular because her mother seems barely able to walk when she returns with a rumpled, stained dress and multiple necklets of bruises. Mirillandië also returns with a pendant made with the same pale wood as her magnificent loom and she stares at it often with a deeply thoughtful expression.

Míriel’s quest for knowledge continues and her embroidery becomes even more detailed and splendorous in nature since she finds she thinks better with cloth and a needle in her hands.

She ‘blossoms’, as some women call it, fully during this quest for knowledge and suddenly she doesn’t need to seek out answers, the answers come to her.

She can’t leave the fire alone now without feeling eyes upon her; male eyes. They stalk her footsteps, wolves on two legs, engage her in conversations between the trees but thankfully leave enough space so she does not panic. There is only one man that does not make her heart hammer like a rabbit’s and that is Ilsalto who appears often to try and lure her mother into the trees. Most of the time he is successful, despite how Mirillandië always seems terrified when she first sees him, mouth always parting in a gasp and her hands shaking.

“It is like …a fire…” Mirillandië finally, FINALLY, explains. “Men will talk to you, seeking a connection or wanting to simply touch you. Sometimes bodily desire is enough but the longest pairings, the most desired pairings, are both bodily desire and a mental desire. I talked to many men…” she adds, lifting her head proudly “…but never did I let them come close. They were always frightening to me. I did not remember my father for a very long while, not until just after we left you in the woods, because he was taken by the darkness and my mother was through in removing the memories of the taking because they caused me to scream each time I slept. Men were more alien to me then they have ever been to you. Your father did not allow my fear to guide his actions though and he would walk… right beside me, touch my shoulder and though this was the most frightening thing I could remember at the time I put up with it because the more I talked to him the more I wanted to be around him.”

Mirillandië’s cheeks are pinkening and her eyelashes sweep the darkening flesh as she obviously remembers something. “They are the hunters… and sometimes they treat women as the prey… do not pick a man like that Míriel. Pick a man like your father.” She pleads but Míriel can’t help but wonder if Ilsalto is the most cunning hunter of them all, using gentle words and bait rather than running his prey to the ground.

She is becoming quite used to men’s voices now, the depth no longer shocks her and she is able to carry on some conversations but she will admit, she shakes a little when she actually sees one. They are more alien to her then her mother thinks.

Handenésë seems upset that Míriel has grown faster than her but there is nothing Míriel can do to stop this. Handenésë also seems jealous Míriel knows her father and so things are awkward between them for a while. Handenésë’s father does eventually visit and he brings with him a strange device; it is a curved board of wood with long strings made of dried gut stretched over the hollow the heat-bent shape of it makes. Handenésë takes it with hands shaking and runs her fingers over the gut strings, strums them and finds they create pure notes and instinctively eeks out a song she only now remembers. Then she bursts into tears when her memories hit her like a blow to the skull. Míriel cringes for her, knowing what will be happening in Handenésë’s thoughts and the headache she is going to have afterwards.

When Handenésë’s father leaves he turns to Nuldahandë and leans into her for a moment, pressing their mouths together. The way his thick dark hair falls forwards then curtains what is happening between them but Míriel feels her skin get hot and tight over her skeleton from the tips of her toes to the crown of her hair when his large hand smooths over Nuldahandë’s chestnut hair and stops over her nape to cup her head with care and affection. Then he is gone, Nuldahandë’s mouth is wet and swollen looking and most of the women are doing their best to withhold sniggers as she walks back to her loom with a blissful smile on her face. Míriel looks over at Handenésë and sees her erstwhile friends face is possibly as red as her own. Then Handenésë raises her eyebrow and wriggles it in a manner most ridiculous at Míriel and they break into guffaws that cause their stomachs to ache afterwards.

A man takes to following her…everywhere soon after this. She skips bathing a few days because she can’t be sure he’s lurking about or not till her own scent drives her to slipping into a river with a defiant scowl on her face for the dark figure who promptly appears . She challenges him to do something more than act like a shadow, she’s not sure what but anything is better than him dogging her footsteps. He proceeds to tempt her into a conversation about the best way to dye leathers as he takes a seat near the river and averts his eyes politely… the cunning bastard. He is smart, she will give him that, and talking to him is never boring or awkward the way she has experienced it with other men. She no longer shakes when he is about after the river incident. It helps that after that he stops lurking and walks openly beside her so she isn’t using up half her attention to try and catch his movements in the trees.

“Your father has taken to kicking any man he suspects of coveting you into very cold lakes…” he tells her cheerfully on one occasion. His long dark hair brushes her hand as they search, both on hands and knees, for the little red flowers that she needs to make a crimson dye. He has expressed a longing for a tunic of red cloth embroidered with white ivy. She has agreed to make him one provided he gets her two doe skins of good quality. She strokes his hair as it brushes her hand again, finding it silken like the cloth Mirillandië is teaching her to make from carefully unwound spiderwebs.

“That is because he loves me, my mother says.” She informs him. “Aye he does, with good reason…” he agrees and leans in before she can reply, sealing their lips together for a moment in a dry, hot press of flesh before he hands her all the flowers he has found and gets to his feet. “Two doe skins yes?” there is something dark and hungry in his eyes, fine dark eyes with thick black lashes.

“Yes…” she mumbles, body hot from the core, and he is gone in a blink, disappeared into the darkness.

“Lust…” Mirillandië explains patiently when she finds that, that certain place between her legs is dripping clear fluid in the aftermath of the kiss and promptly goes running to her mother, thinking herself on the verge of illness (the heart palpitations and heat through her skin justify this belief. She doesn’t think Mirillandië should have laughed that much once she was done explaining)

She realises as she makes the dye, back at camp, that she doesn’t know his name…and he does know hers, or if he does he’s never used it. However she has embroidery on her side, the embroidery on his cloak to be precise; the amazing spray of stars in perfect constellations over his broad shoulders that devolve into baby breath near the hem, there is only one woman she knows who can embroider such realistic baby breath and that discrete pearled weave in the dark cloth that comes from only one loom.

“One of my sons?” Marillië asks with a raised eyebrow. “You will have to be a little more specific Míriel… I have five of them…”

“Well he has very dark eyes…” they are the first thing she thinks of when she thinks of him, fine dark eyes, like the sky above them when clouds blot out the stars.

“My man has the darkest eyes of all creation…” Marillië’s voice contains pride, longing and is husky, Míriel has now experienced lust and she jolts when she realises she now recognises it in others. No more does it seem like a strange hunger, she knows exactly what is being hungered for. “I drown in them whenever I look into them and all my boys have those eyes too so...”

“Well he has your hair…” Míriel tries again with her eyebrows furrowing. Marillië has magnificent hair, it is the darkest ever seen and invites an onlooker to sink their fingers into it to see if the darkness has an end to it. When there is enough light it gains a blue sheen that almost matches Marillië’s blue eyes.

“Ah well that narrows it down to two…”

“His cloak…” Míriel adds desperately “… has stars on the shoulders and flowers at the hem…”

“Oh…well you should have told me that to begin with, yes I know exactly who you are talking about. He is my second youngest son so far and he is called Finwë.”

“Finwë…” Míriel breathes in delight then pauses because she is not unfamiliar with that name. “Wait… not… ‘that annoying little twit Finwë’?” she quotes with some bemusement as Marillië breaks into loud laughter. “Yes! That ‘annoying little twit’ Finwë… the one that would not leave me be after he remembered me.” Realising soon after she had told Míriel about the practice of the abandonment of children that she had caused the girl some grief, she had offered up stories of her own children finding their way back and remembering to try and cheer her. One of her sons in particular, Finwë, had remembered her the moment he stepped into the firelight of his father’s camp and had promptly gone off to find Marillië. Apparently something being the way they’d always done things was not enough of a reason for him not to visit his mother when he wanted to and so he had visited her as often as he wished. She called him a ‘annoying little twit’ when recounting this but in the most delighted voice.

‘He does not simply accept things being the way they are because they always have been’ Míriel contemplates and is filled with satisfaction and delight of her own.

“Why did you stop visiting your mother … Finwë?” she asks when she next sees him, cooing in delight over the skins he has brought her. She will make boots of the doe skin for her mother and herself and decorate them with the fine chiselled beads her father gave her a while back. There will be enough for other projects too and she is salivating to think of what she will do with them. They are very fine skins indeed. Saying his name seems like the most daring thing in the world and she’s half terrified as the two syllables fall off her tongue. He glances at her in surprise then laughs. “Oh… you figured out who my mother was… Míriel?” he asks in curious delight.

“Well of course… her weaving is unique.” Míriel scolds him. Hasn’t he noticed that not one woman weaves the same? Did he think Míriel was blind?

“I see… and she told you my name?”

“Yes…but how did you know mine?” she asks, her belly having lurched and fizzed hotly when he said it.

“Oh your father boasts about you often” his grin cuts the darkness like a star “…but back to your original question. First I went to seek out the Valar Oromë to tell him of the latest disappearances…” she nods. Yes she knows of Oromë. He has even visited their fire a few times though he seems perilously awkward when he does and of course, being of a male shape, he sets most of the women into a tense watchfulness.

“Then I went to visit my father’s family for a short time. He is not one of the Tall Dark Ones originally.” He explains at her confused look. “He is one of Tata’s sons and so he is of the original group that lives a little distance away. They don’t quite understand the Tall Dark Ones even though Tata made them his.”

“I see…” People speak of the near legendary Tata and Tatië that the Tall Dark Ones apparently belong to but Míriel has seen neither. This explains why she supposes.

“My grandfather is still not sure why his son fell in love with one of the Tall Dark ‘hermit’ women but he accepts he is happy at least…” Finwë comments “… with five sons and three daughters he must be happy despite how strange the Tall Dark Ones are to Tata’s first people.”

She eyes Finwë and tries to see what makes him different. He just grins some more, spreading his arms so she misses nothing. Her face burns hot. His grin fades a little and she sees lust in his eyes again. She swallows and he takes a step forward. Her feet dance away from him and he pursues, taking her arm and drawing her back towards him.

Míriel’s breathing is speeding up and she lets him press their lips together again, shivering as his tongue touches her lower lip and she opens to let it in. They are both new to this and it is a messy, slightly painful experience in the end when their teeth clink and noses bump when they get a little to passionate. She pulls back, rubbing her nose and he rubs his lips and then they catch each other’s eyes and laugh.

“Again…” Finwë suggests “…and this time we’ll watch our teeth.”

They do it better the second try…and the third makes her dizzy. The fourth try has her legs shaking and they slowly lower themselves down to the ground. His hands are trembling on her cheeks as they press their lips together the fifth time and she moans and lightly bites his lip to stop him because everything is changing. Instead he moans as well and their lips seal a sixth time, his body blanketing hers. Their breathing mingles, their fea glow beneath their skin, brighter and brighter the more they kiss. Clothing becomes an annoyance and despite all the care she put into making them, Míriel rips the shoulder seam in her hurry to get rid of her dress.

Bare skin against skin, hips to hip and chest to chest they lie together and kiss a seventh, eighth and ninth time. Finwë’s hand glides across her stomach, up over her breasts and his mouth leaves hers, giving their aching lips a reprieve, so he can explore her breasts, kissing first, then suckling and finally daring to nibble just enough to make her arch under him.

She runs her hands over his shoulders and then down his chest. She maps the strong muscle across his back and delves her hands into his rich dark hair with a shuddering sigh as she brings it forwards so it spills over his shoulders and over her breasts and hips. It makes her wriggle in delight. He grins and she unbinds her braid with soft panting moans when he kisses her throat before sucking hard enough to make the skin ache. Her hair spills down her body to join his and they roll over so she can explore him.

She slides down his body, doing what she has wanted to do for a while; setting her teeth into the proud arch of his collar bone for a moment before she is running her fingers over his nipples till they tighten. Their hips have begun to grind together in a slow effective rhythm and she can feel the largest different between men and women pushing against her belly and almost between the parting of her sex. She pushes her hips forwards cautiously and spreads her legs a little more so it pushes more firmly and moans along with him when his cock catches and drags against the nub of flesh at the start of her vagina.

They rock like this for a while, loosing count of how many times they mesh their mouths. She wants to sink into him and never part from him. He is beautiful and male and he is smart and kind to her.

~Let me have him for eternity~ she begs the world as they roll again and he hovers above her.

~Yes. Have him and be joyful together~ the world replies and she cries out when he sinks into her, not just her body but everything about her, their very essences merging as their bodies entwine as deeply as possible. In the distance she hears him beg the world the same thing but out loud, his voice hoarse and the world replies in the pleasure, in the hot pulse and the instinctively rhythm they find against one another.

Sex is a hot, sweaty and ultimately messy and sticky business but if you do it right you don’t really care about any of that. Míriel comes down from the high of pleasure that Finwë’s hips driving into her and his thumb at the crest of her sex brought her to. Her legs are squeezing his hips hard enough to bruise and he is gasping above her, still shuddering through his pleasure, hips occasionally pushing forwards though he has already given her everything he has and she has taken all of it. She is shaking so much that it seems like the ground is trembling with her and she buries her face in his neck, moaning his name as he finally collapses, crushing her a little though it is pleasant for now.

“I love you…” he breaths into her hair. Yes that is the emotion lodging in her throat, he has named it perfectly. “I love you …too…” it doesn’t seem enough of a reply, too contrite so she kisses him and shows him the very depths of her love for him which matches his. Then they relax into the soft grass to catch their breaths, still shaking a bit, the ground feeling like it trembles with their heart beats…

A sound more horrific then anything Míriel has ever heard shatters the night while a jagged seam of light rips the sky apart above them. Everything is illuminated for a moment. For the first time they see the world filled with light, a white light, before it is dark again. They leap apart and to their feet, staring at the sky which is ominously cloud clad and then the sound pierces their ears again and light surrounds them. The ground is seeming to shake, they realise, it is literally shaking, trembling and pulsing under their feet.

“What is happening?” Míriel yells over the noise as she grabs her clothing and he grabs his. They dress in a hurry and he throws his cloak over her, hiding her torn dress, without a thought. Hand in his they run together but cannot escape the loud noises piercing the night, the light that illuminates everything in a way not even the largest fire could. The white light pierces their eyes, makes them water, and they are nearly blinded when they reach the women’s fire to find everybody is alert and packing their belongings hurriedly. There are men amongst the women, her father for one who is taking apart Mirillandië’s loom and packing the pieces up. A man with pitch black eyes greets Finwë with a barely there smirk as he helps Mirillië do the same. And others, many others.

“We go to join the men… for safety…” Mirillandië pushes the combined pack of their clothes into Míriel’s arms before hefting her loom with Ilsalto’s help and then for the first time in a decade the women’s fire is doused completely and they run, run further then Míriel has ever travelled, run all the way to a fire just like theirs but surrounded by men.

The ground is buckling and churning like it is in agony beneath their feet and the men’s fire is doused as well when the coals from it go flying and nearly set the forest alight. Míriel sees Calarien and her man amongst them, Calarien has a child barely taller than Míriel’s knee in her arms. There is no chance to say hello though. The noises, the light in the sky piercing down into the ground far away, it is coming faster. There is nothing else they can do. They huddle together and Ilsalto cannot even scowl when he finally sees whose cloak is on Míriel’s shoulders. Instead he seems grateful there is someone to hold his daughter while the world tries to rip itself apart.

They begin to retreat into the forest where the trees are the thickest and once they are huddled together they curl about each other and sleep as much as they can though the noise wakes them up each time. More people arrive. Complete strangers that Míriel has never seen before, that look nothing like them. “Those are Enel’s people…” Finwë tells her when he sees her glancing at a group that are shorter then she is used to, slender in limb and with hair in shades of woody browns, dark golds and some with silver hair almost like her own. Their skin ranges more widely then she has seen, from as light as her own to a dark shade that makes her think of honey.

“And those are Imin’s people…” this group is tiny but they stand out for they all have hair of such a yellow shade that her eyes water further when lightening flares and reflects off the colour. Not only that but their hair is … voluminous… it is not straight or lazily wavy but spirals and sticks out all over the place, seems all the more thicker because of the amount of air that has to be stuck in all those curls.

“It’s quite impossible to have a conversation with Imin’s people…” Finwë tells her, lips against the back of her ear, his heart beat matching hers as they lie, her back to his chest, under his cloak where it seems safer.

“Oh?” she asks.

“Yes… it takes forever for them to reply because everything they say they think they need to say in rhyming verse.”

“No!” she protests, muffling a laugh.

“Yes!” he insists with a laugh of his own “…there are only a few that its possible to talk to… there is one now… lets go talk to him, we are not going to sleep anytime soon.” She lets him tug her up and wraps herself in his cloak possessively. She will make him another, but this is her cloak now and they walk over to greet a blond haired member of Imin’s group who grins at the sight of both of them.

“Finwë! My heart rejoices fondly to see your raven touched gaze undisturbed by these momentous happenings!” he greets and Míriel’s eyebrows begin a steady climb towards her hairline.

“Ingwë…” Finwë greets, patient but amused. Another man seems to have noticed them, one of Enel’s people who Finwë also seems to know.

“Elwë…” well that’s a nice symmetry between their names.

“Finwë, I see you aren’t spooking over this… try and panic for once, you might enjoy the sensation…” the grey haired man comments. His hair really is grey, not silver like her own, but the sleek dark colour of river rocks. He tilts his head and glances at Míriel, pausing when he realises what he is seeing.

“And who is this?” he asks with a smile but Míriel stays silent and slightly behind Finwë. She is used to her father and used to Finwë but she’s not ready to begin talking to a man from an entirely different group just yet.

“Ah… this is Míriel, she is my woman…” Finwë wraps an arm around Míriel proprietarily but she lets it stay there. She will remind him he is her man as much as she is his woman later.

The pair exchange glances.

“Your woman Finwë? You mean your wife?” Ingwë asks.

“Keep your fancy words poet." Finwë says with false derision. "She is my woman and I am her man…” oh he does remember “… we belong to no one else.” The pair seem amused and not offended. Míriel stares at them for a while, taking in the differences with a bewildered feeling at how different they all look and yet how alike.

“Felicitations and well wishes upon you both…” Ingwë says “…how long have you been…married?”

Loud noise and illumination of every minute detail.

“We joined ourselves just before this blasted thing began.” Finwë says with an annoyance that Míriel agrees with. Nothing is happening but this noise and shuddering beneath their feet but it is terrifying enough, not knowing anything else.

“Ah… your irritation is justifiable then”

They talk for a while and Míriel leaves after a while to sit with her mother and try to embroider. There is nothing more to do then bear this chaos until it ends.

And end it does, suddenly and without warning. There is a loud roar, the light in the sky tinted purple, blue and red before silence and darkness once more and they tense in expectation for the next crash. The trembles under their feet however, begin to subside and silence cloaks the world. They dare not even breath loudly lest it set off the night mare again. Children are crying softly in their mothers arms, women are hiding their tears against the shoulders of their men and even men are damp eyed at this prolonged torture.

And then

Gently

Cautiously

A cricket chirps

The wind blows softly

And the trembling ceases all together.

Míriel dares to breathe out when her chest aches at what she withholds in fear. It seems the others are of a like mind. Sighs fill the forest and tentatively someone sings a soft prayer to Eru to preserve them from another such an experience. More voices join in, heavy with relief, warbling notes because of the terror that remains but the more who join in the stronger the voices become until they sing all together, every member of the eldar, right down the smallest infant who gurgles and chirps softly along with the music. When at last the song subsides they are left waiting.

They do not wait long.

Oromë comes to them and what he has to say will change their entire existence.

These are the things that Míriel knows: the world is far larger then she realised as a child but she is still named for her mother Mirillandië, her father is known as Ilsalto. She has his silver hair but her mother’s fiery eyes. She is a woman fully grown and her hands are the most deft and skilful at the loom or with a needle and some have begun to call her Serindë because of it. She has given herself to Finwë of the fine dark eyes and when he returns from over the sea they will live together since with the joining of the two fires, many families do not wish to part again. One day she will have his children and they will raise them together, either here beneath the trees or possibly (but unlikely) over the seas where the Valar dwell. They will stay together for the full extent of their children’s childhoods and far beyond that, and their children will never be left out alone in the woods with no memory of the infinite love they will have for them.
Chapter end notes:
There was a tutorial. Rather than talk about german historians we talked about enclosed societies and weird (for some) cultures (because we're not that desperate to graduate). Then I got up this morning and wrote this in one sitting. I meant to finish the next chapter of Weary Feet. Instead this weird, weird, weird thing took over my hands. I wrote more today on this then I have in the past week on Weary Feet. *Sobs*


Yes I'm aware Míriel and Mirillandië use different versions of 'jewel' but using the 'jewel' that appears in Míriel's name sounded dumb in Mirillandië.


Finally Mirillandië is a redhead because I refuse to believe that copper coloured hair faced with someone with black hair (Feanor) managed to migrate solely on one gene (it takes twoooooo baaabe). Then again this is a race with silver and gold hair *contemplates*. Nope. I make a exception for gold and silver but not for red hair.