Disclaimer: No characters in this belong to me. I am just borrowing them for a short while and playing. No harm or insult is meant to come of this.
Summary: Meleth has to come to terms with the changes of her life after the fall of Gondolin and while fulfilling her duties she loses Earendil... Written for Eveiya.
She had never thought she would find herself by the sea again, the safety of yet another home had been deserted in a hurry. She looked out over the small settlement, counting the growing number of small houses, clinging to the shoreline. Tents still lay scattered further inland, shelters for those who had not yet had time to build homes. The Lady and her husband had been given one of the cottages when they arrived and as the nursemaid of their son she had been welcomed to share the small home.
Tuor was down by the shore, admiring the fishing boats that were being built. There had been a new spring in his step after they had reached the ocean and he spent most of the day outside, helping to build both houses and boats. The Lady still rested, worn out from her journey and mourning the unborn child that she had lost during their flight.
Meleth put down Earendil as he started to squirm. Tiredly she started lighting the fires under the large vats of water that stood in the centre of the small village. She had had to learn many things after Gondolin fell, cooking fell from men to women as the men hunted for food well into the dark hours and washing clothes was done as part of the weekly chores, either by the cold rivers that ran from the mountains or in large pots of heated water.
She looked down at her hands, the skin was rough and red from work, far from the delicately soft hands she had once had, doing no work harder than wielding an embroideress’ needle.
Loud laughter rang from the shorefront which stank of fish and tar. She shuddered slightly, the sailors were a rougher kind than she had become used to but they usually meant well. She failed to understand the love they seemed to hold for the sea and their hard, dangerous work. A few bottles gleamed in the sunlight as they were passed among the seamen and she scrunched her nose in distaste. Hard work was no excuse for drinking. The voices grew louder, calling commands regarding lines and ropes and other things she would not recognise even if she fell over them.
Sighing she turned towards the washing vats again, making certain that Earendil still stayed close. A small smile fleeted over her face as she watched him trying to catch a frog. Not all things were worse in this place.
Light brightened and faded as she worked, boiling the water, stirring the washing and pouring the water out. Hanging the wet clothes and beating the water out of them was the hardest work and her arms and back ached when she finally lowered the broom she had used for hitting. Wiping sweat away from her face she straightened, whimpering slightly as her lower back objected to the movement. Looking around she found herself alone, the child she was meant to mind while doing her other chores was no where in sight.
Panic tightened her throat as she turned around, trying to see him in the dusk. Down by the shores she could see the white gown of the fey queen-child of Doriath fluttering in the wind but Earendil was no where to be seen.
She gripped her skirts as she turned around and around trying to find him. Swallowing her panic she hurried back to the cottage, hoping he had returned to his mother when he had grown bored of waiting.
Idril gave her a pale smile as she entered, the dark hollows under her eyes making her look thin and frail. "Is Earendil playing outside?"
Meleth nodded quickly. "Yes, lady, I only returned to see if you needed something?" The lies tasted bitter in her mouth.
Idril shook her head with another weary smile. "No, Meleth, you already do enough for us."
Meleth nodded and curtsied quickly before hurrying outside again. She waited with calling until she was some distance from the house and grew more and more desperate as no call in reply was heard.
She searched the fields first, hoping he had simply followed one of the small streams in towards land but no reply came to her calls. The darkness had fallen by the time she reached the shoreline, almost walking into a great ship that lay berthed on the sand. Gasping at the unexpected hulk towering far over her head she misstepped, crying in pain as her ankle folded.
Suddenly her arms were filled with the small, warm presence of Earendil. Wrapping her arms tightly around his body she listened to him chattering about seagulls and swans and boats. She wanted to shake him. Shake him and yell at him for scaring her but she did neither. Hugging him close she shifted to stand and moaned at the pain that suddenly shot up through her leg.
"Careful, my lady," a deep voice said from somewhere behind her and a warm, calloused hand reached to steady her. "You seemed to twist your ankle when you fell and the boy is heavy."
The hand was warm and comforting where it rested on her arm and she felt herself blushing as she stood with his help. Turning to thank him her eyes encountered his chest and rose higher, and higher. She was not a short person by any means but this stranger towered above her.
Silver hair shone in the light of the stars but she could not make out much else.
"Allow me to walk you home?" He reached out before she had time to answer, lifting the child into his own arms. "You have a lovely son, he was admiring my ship… I am sorry if he worried you. I believed he had asked permission before coming."
"I do not have children.. I mean.. I am not married… I just… I mind him for Lady Idril" She winced at her own babbling as she hobbled beside him.
The lanterns along the paths in the village were lit, spreading a warm, soft glow across the settlement. She glanced up at her tall saviour, he was muscular and thin, his face bronzed by hours in the sun. Silver hair fell down his back and amused sea-green eyes met hers.
Blushing again she quickly lowered her gaze, brushing a strand of hair out of her face and felt very aware of her bedraggled look after a full days work.
She stopped outside the door to the cottage and shyly glanced up at him again. "Th-thank you…" she mumbled, feeling like a young girl.
He smiled as he set Earendil down. "Now that I know where you live I must ensure to visit the shore more often." Brazenly he bent, brushing his lips lightly over hers. "Farewell for now my sweet Noldorin Rose."
Gasping her hand flew up, fingers covering her lips as she stared at his back as he left.
Earendil was chattering excitedly to his mother when she entered the cottage, her heart still doing strange somersaults in her chest.
Tuor looked at her with a smile while he served the dinner. "Earendil tells me Lord Cirdan has taken a liking to you."