From Out of the Darkness
Summary: Sometimes memories are all we have.
Disclaimer: The characters are Tolkien's creations, not mine. This is all just for fun.
Story Notes: Angst, Friendship, AU. Written for the Edhellond Writing Group Yule Challenge. The main character (OC) belongs to me and Jess and to avoid spoiling the story is revealed at the end. Rating: G.
Thanks to Soledad for reading it over.
He was old. How old, he knew not, for he did not remember his beginnings. But he did know he had lived longer than most of his kin. He knew, because those he had lived with had told him, and for a long time he had been proud of that fact. They said he was not like his brethren, the wild and fierce enemy of the people of the trees. For to the Elves, those of his kind were hated, reviled, killed. He was different, they said, and for that reason, he was loved and cherished. At least for a while, before they locked him away.
And he believed them, for they were the only people he knew. He had never lived with his kind, never even seen their faces. That should have made him sad, but it did not. Time, how much had passed while he was here? Time was a word that had become meaningless to him as he lay, alone, in this dark space, dreaming of the past and reliving his memories. So many resided inside his mind; he would smile over the special ones and cry over the one that broke his heart. But the tears did not wet his cheeks, for they never fell from his eyes.
A ray of sunlight filtered through a crack in the aged wood that surrounded him, illuminating a spot on his torso. Skin, which had once been soft and supple, after long exposure to Anor's light, had wrinkled and browned. Even now, in this dark place, it had not lightened, and he knew that in addition to what the beam of light revealed, there were cracks and hardened areas on its surface. He could feel them.
At one time, such disfigurement would have caused him grief. In his young days, appearance was no small matter, and he had been proud of his sparkling eyes, proud bearing, and muscled figure. But he had long since learned that looks were deceiving, and it was what lay underneath the skin, inside the heart, that counted.
He knew this, because he once had a special friend. It was memories of their time together that sustained him, for his friend had loved him, and he had loved his friend in return. And once one is loved, one is made complete, whole.
Oh, the times they had together, the adventure, the fun. They were comrades, for life they agreed, never to be parted. But one day his friend had changed and what they once had, while not forgotten, was ended. What he would give now for one glimpse of that fair face with eyes the colour of the sky, smiles as bright as the sun, and hair of shining silver.
It was his friend who taught him to love the world around him. They would lie in the tall grasses and watch as tiny creatures scurried to and fro on slender stalk bridges of swaying green. White ships and faery figures would race across the sky as they lay on their backs and bet on which would win, hoping the puffy white cloud that was their own would hold its shape before the ending mark that they had chosen was reached.
Sometimes they raced themselves, through the shadowed paths in the woods, across wide sunlit meadows, down banks of crystal streams whose waters once lay frozen on the slopes of misty mountains. He remembered often the hugs they shared and the warmth of his friend's skin as it caressed his own. And he would feel safe and loved and happy, ever so happy.
Some days, others joined them in their play, laughing children with rosy cheeks and golden skin. At first, they jeered at him and called him names, but gradually they grew used to his presence, knowing that his friend would chastise them if they tried to cause him harm.
He liked it most though when it was just the two of them together, sharing secrets and whispering silly words in each other's ear. They were inseparable, best friends, buddies, for always. They even crossed their hearts and swore that it would be so. But that had been a long time ago, and promises had been broken, cruel words said.
Nights to him now were the hardest as he lay alone in the dark. He missed the closeness and the warmth of his friend, their bodies cuddled close in the shared bed. He missed the feel of his friend's arms wrapped protectively around him, his breath warm and moist against his neck. Theirs had been a special kind of love, built on trust and faith in each other. And he still loved his friend deeply and he knew his love was returned. Oh, why...why then did it have to end!
They were different, of course, as unlike physically as apples and oranges, sticks and stones, and that sometimes caused problems. But they always overcame them. When his friend swam in the pond with the others, he would sit on the bank and watch them to be sure they were safe. He would have loved to join in their play, but he could not.
And when his friend practiced with his bow, firing the swift sharp arrows at the faraway target, he would sit on the sidelines and hope his friend made his mark. Himself, he could not use a bow, his kind never did. They had other methods for the hunt or to bring down prey, and he was what he was. He could not change that.
Years passed and they grew together in mind and spirit, happy in their love for each other. Until one day, that day, when he sat on the bed in their room and heard the voices - loud voices, angry voices. His friend had burst through the door and thrown his arms around him, hugged him tightly, tears streaming down his cheeks. Then the awful words were spoken, for his friend told him that they were to be parted, that his friend was of an age where they could not be seen together anymore. That was the day his heart broke into tiny pieces.
And so, he was locked away, and all he had now were his memories. Oh, how he ached inside. But as lonely and as sad as he was, there were others who had never experienced the bliss of what he once had, and so he considered himself blessed. There was something in that, at least.
There came a day where the air turned cold and crisp and even though he could not see it, he sensed that snow was falling. He remembered its whiteness, how it changed the world around him into a place of wonder and radiance. For the Elves, it was a time to rejoice, a time they called Yule, and he had shared many a Yule with his friend.
He sighed, drifting in his memories. Fires would be burning in all the hearths, boughs of fresh evergreen placed on top of mantles and hung from windows, and the cinnamon scent of mulled wine would fill the air with its sweetness. Tables laden with meats, nuts, fruit and all the bounties of the harvest would wait for the magic hour when all would seat themselves and partake of the Yule feast. And afterward, gifts would be exchanged. Loving gifts that had been carefully crafted and wrapped so that those who received them would not know until the last moment what they were. His friend had received many such gifts, and occasionally, there had been one for him too.
Each day that the cold, invigorating air seeped through the cracks in his small space, he dreamt, wondering if he would be able to smell the fragrances from the Yule festivities when it came this time, hear the joy and laughter that it brought. For in his confinement, he was never sure which day was which. Some years, he believed he had guessed correctly, thinking he could hear the sounds of revelry. And in the early times, when he was first put away, he tried to keep track of all the seasons, even the individual days. But he had long since stopped. It was only this season's unusual cold that gave him the idea to try again, or the boredom. He was not sure which, but it passed the time.
What is it like to know that one might spend forever in the dark, alone, wishing and dreaming for that which would never come? It drove some insane. Was he one of those? He did not know, for he had never seen such a creature, so how could he judge. There were some, similar to him but not the same, who never had that worry. Who never had to deal with the emotions that he felt. But he pitied them. Himself, he did not.
Funny, how this time his dreams seemed so real. Was there a portent in his visions? What would happen in the end? Would he know when it came? Would he even be aware? Or would he one day just fade to dust and cease to exist? Strange thoughts to be having when his memories seemed so clear these days.
"Because you are my special friend, I give to you my heart," his friend had said that last Yule. They had been sitting under a sprig of mistletoe and his friend had hugged him and kissed him and laughed. It had left him warm and glowing, proud to be loved by one so kind and beautiful. Oh, that the pieces of my heart could once again be whole and he would hold me in his arms and say, "I love you."
Eyes that did not cry pleaded to shed tears at the pain that washed through him, and in the midst of his happy and sad vision, a bright light blinded him. Strong arms lifted him up and crushed him against a warm chest, arms that were familiar and yet not. But that scent, he would recognize it anywhere, and if he could have found his voice he would have roared with joy!
It was him; he had come back, and as his vision cleared, he saw the face that he had wished for so long to see. It was the same and yet so different -- the blue eyes and the love that shone from them, the shiny, silver hair, and that beautiful, beautiful smile. The vision spoke to him once again and told him that he loved him. Was it real or was it a dream?
He felt movement as the loving arms of his friend carried him, but he did not see his surroundings, for he had eyes only for that sweet face. All the hurt and the pain he had felt for so long vanished and his heart forgave his friend instantly, so great was his joy and bliss. This was real; he knew it to be true, for although much about his friend had changed, even unto his voice, it was him. He could never mistake that touch.
Soft and welcome lips kissed his nose and cheeks, his brow, and he almost broke inside with happiness. To know for sure that his friend had not forsaken him and still returned his love was almost more than he could bear. He was so lost in delirium and joy that he did not notice as he was gently lowered onto his feet and covered tenderly. His gaze still held with that of his love.
And then suddenly, he was in darkness again, a black so inky and thick he could not see a pinpoint of light. There were no cracks to let in the moonbeams or the rays of Anor. He was once again imprisoned, and this time in a dark and dreary tomb. "No!" his mind screamed, "This cannot be happening! He cannot come for me and declare his love just to shut me away once more!" He waited for his friend to return and tell him it was a mistake, waited ever so long, until he was so weary, he could not keep away the sleep that finally chased his fear away. But that night his friend did not come, nor the next night, nor the next.
The worst was that now he could hear them. Not enough to understand what they were saying, but to know that his guess had been correct and it was close to the day of Yule. How cruel that he would have to listen to their merriment and laughter, to be subject to the sounds of the feast and fun, but not be able to partake. Instead, to lay as if dead, as if buried alive, while those he once held so dear treated him in a way they never would their own.
It came, but he could not see it. He could only imagine the brilliance of the morning snow as he heard the laughter of the children at their play. It was Yule, for there were many voices now as of a large gathering, and some he recognized by their tone and he was sad. All through the day, he followed the progression of the festivities with his ears, longing to be a part and sad that he could not. And though he should have felt anger at the one that caused him such pain and torture, he did not. For even in his despair, he still could not stop his love for his friend.
The feast had ended, for he heard the scrape of chairs, and now, the best part of it all would come to pass. The giving of the gifts had always been his friend and his favourite of the day. "One for you," his friend would say, placing a neatly wrapped package in front of him and in his excitement, would tear off the paper to show him what was inside, before he could do so himself.
"I hurt!" he wanted to say. "Do not do this!" But it would not help, they would not hear him nor would they care. Squeals of delight reached his ears and he remembered how he and his friend would watch each person open their package with wide eyes and much anticipation. Did he still, his friend? Was there another now who watched with him, one who worshipped him as much as he? Could his heart break any more? "I hurt...I hurt so much!"
The tomb that he was in shook and moved and he was tossed about violently and he knew fear and terror. Then all was still. What had happened? Was his friend all right? Had there been an earthquake, some natural disaster? "Please, do not leave me here alone!" he wished to say. "Please, my friend, are you still alive?" He heard voices again, and they were not panicked, so he calmed a little. The voices came closer, louder, reminding him of that awful day when he found he was to be sent away and he wanted to curl up and die. But he could not.
There was a noise and once again a bright light blinded him and he froze. Someone picked him up and he smelt once more the scent of his friend. "He has returned for me!" he thought joyfully and then his friend spoke in a loud clear voice.
"This, Orophin, is the most precious gift of all. It comes from my heart."
Strong arms hugged him once again to that loving chest and he looked up into the face of his friend. As his vision cleared, he saw once again the love that shone from those sky blue eyes, and they were looking straight at him. Then he was turned and he saw a child, one who looked a lot like his friend. The child was looking at him with interest and...smiling.
Haldir spoke once more. "There is a time in every child's life when he needs a friend; a friend who will always be at his side, through thick and thin; a friend who will love him, unconditionally. I have such a friend. Together we shared the world. He is very special and I love him very much. I always will. And now, I give my friend to you, Orophin. His name is Wargy."
Haldir placed the old and worn stuffed Warg into Orophin's hands and the child hugged him to his chest. "Take good care of him, for I will be watching over you both."
Orophin smiled a brilliant smile, and so did his older brother. But the biggest smile of all, as he felt the pieces of his heart knit together, came from Wargy.
Feedback or comments on this story are welcome - email Mirasaui