Title: Flower of the Wave (was Love at First Sight?)
Title, author and link to original story: Anemone, part 1, Dolphins, by Armariel; http://www.storiesofarda.com/chapterview.asp?sid=3957&cid=15353
Author's Notes: Some indications of attraction between characters. Title changed by request of original author.
Summary: How it was that Anemone was commissioned by Lord Ulmo to seek out Frodo Baggins and perhaps see him as a possible mate.
Word Count: 3,272
Bryseluthea! My Falmalótë!
The she-creature paused in her swim through the depths of the ocean, turning in search of the one who called upon her. My Lord—what is it you would have of me?
Ulmo took shape before her, and she bowed respectfully in response. He, in turn, smiled down upon her. There is one I would have you meet, child, if it pleases you to do so.
She stiffened. Once she had taken to herself a mate, and by him had given birth to many children. But he had listened to the reasoning of the Dark One and his fellows and had fallen into evil. He had begun to treat her and their children with disdain, and sought to lead several of their progeny into war against the rest of the world. Her Greenjade had taken upon himself the name of Darkfin, and with his father’s encouragement now sought out his brothers and sisters to suborn or to kill them. Father and son and those who had joined with them often harassed those who sailed upon the face of the Sea, setting Darkfin’s mate upon a rock in the shape of one of the Two-legs to sing to draw unwitting ships into dangerous waters, then driving the craft upon shoals so as to sink them and drown those sailing them. Some of their victims they would drag upon exposed rocks to torture them, or to leave them there exposed but with no food or water to die cruelly.
And why, she asked slowly and carefully, would I wish to meet yet another, particularly considering how badly my last mating went?
Lord Ulmo’s expression was filled with sympathy. I grieve for that. Our brother’s influence is still felt here within the sea, and perhaps the most strongly as he sought so hard here to suborn the very Music Itself, and the dark themes are still to be heard here within the Music as It is nowhere else.
No, he continued, it is quite a different one I would have you meet at this time, one all of us have good reason to favor. Yes, it is a male of his people, and he is a two-legs, although not of a sort such as you might have seen for many, many years. Only one other of his people has sailed upon the seas in living memory, but never did he sail in the waters where you have ranged. The people to whom he belongs live far inland, preferring to live when possible in homes delved into the surface of the earth itself, carved into the chalk or between the roots of great trees. Few of their sort come to trust water enough to venture forth upon it, much less to swim within it. But this one is unusual in many ways, and he has been sorely tried. He requires peace and healing in the wake of performing a great service against the Dark One’s servant, and so has been granted the right to sail to the true West. There he will dwell upon Tol Eressëa for such time he might know ere he must accept the Gift of the One to leave the Circles of Arda.
She was intrigued. He is a mortal?
Even so, Bryseluthea.
A mortal is to be allowed to come to the lands so long forbidden them? How, then, will he be able to survive there, exposed to the rare airs of the place?
There is a reason, child, why he will dwell upon the Lonely Isle rather than upon the mainland—he and his kinsman who travels with him, and the others who may one day follow their path. Yea—four mortals have been granted this right, and with good reason. For, lo—they traveled in company with great evil and fought it with steadfast will and courage. This one I would have you meet, however—he was forced to bear the focus of that evil upon his person, and to know Its constant company and influence, and at the last was taken by It ere Ilúvatar’s mercy was granted him. Deeply did the Ring scar him, leaving his spirit itself scoured of joy. I would have him find a good portion of the hope It stole from him.
And how might I, being what I am, help to restore his hope?
You have the ability to love steadfastly, unlike so many of your own people. You have also a particularly strong affinity for the Light and the Song, and even an appreciation for the Breath beyond the ken of your sort in ordinary circumstances. Many mariners have you seen returned to the dry land when they ought to have died in the waves, recognizing that there were those who would suffer unduly were they to lose them untimely to death. We would reward this in you, even as we would wish to see this one healed and hope fully restored to him once more. Long did he suffer in the reckoning of his kind, and great was the agony inflicted upon him, body and spirit.
But how could I, being an immortal as I am, help to restore his hope? Would you see me mate with him? Would you then see me bereft when his time came to step beyond the Circles of this world? Already I have had to give over a mating that went badly.
It is the depth of that grief within you we would honor at this time, Bryseluthea. Unlike the others of your kind, you have our own constancy within you, a desire to be true to one mate and to know that one to the depths of his being. Yet he who was your mate chose to cleave to the Darkness, and in the end you recognized that you couldn’t hold to him and remain true to your own nature, for you would not allow yourself to become so debased. So it has been with this one. In the end he could not withstand the full power of that which he bore, and so It took him. He now questions his own purity of spirit and his right to know the love he receives. He needs reassurance that he is worthy of Love, and we hope that if you find yourself able to give him your own devotion he will be relieved of that doubt.
But what of the time he must leave me, and the pain I must know, knowing that I cannot follow him?
There was a moment that the communication ceased, and she felt him weighing her being before he finally responded: And what if it were granted to you to follow him?
Think, child. What if it were granted to you to be able to follow him? What if you were given the right to leave the Circles of the World even as he must, to leave behind the husk of your hröa that your fëa also might go to whatever place Eru has prepared for those who are mortal? I would not mislead you—it is not easy to live as a mortal, and the moment when hröa and fëa are sundered can be unbearably painful. And if you come to the point where you would cleave to him as you have shown yourself capable of doing and as he deserves, at that point you would be bound to one hröa until the time you, too, step beyond the Circles of Arda. And I strongly suspect that you will remain within Arda past his death.
It was much to think on. To learn to so honor a mere mortal she would be willing to give over so much of her nature so as to take his upon herself?
Here her thoughts were interrupted as her Lord sought to impress upon her, There is no mere to be considered. Do not think that Eru loves mortals less than He does those who are considered immortal.
Humbled by the chiding, she asked, And how am I to come to even see, much less to know, him?
Come, and I will lead you to the ship on which he voyages.
So saying, he led her to the place where the ships from Ennor entered the waters surrounding Aman. As they neared the end of the Straight Path, she felt the anger of those of her people who followed her former mate and her son, Darkfin. Their song was bitter and disturbed, singing against those who trespassed upon what they believed were exclusively their waters. But other songs she could hear as well, offered in defiance to the dark ones. A pod of great whales sounded with surprising grace, considering their ponderous size, greeting the Lord of Waters solemnly. Their greeting was picked up by a large pod of dolphins that sported upon the surface, surrounding what she first took to be yet another whale, slender and swift. A second look, however, showed that this was no living creature, but instead a great ship sailing steadily westward. As she approached the surface she saw that its upraised prow was shaped in the likeness of a swan.
Bryseluthea shifted into the shape of the dolphins that played about the ship, and joined the pod, feeling the slide of the water over smooth skin and her flukes, leaping upwards into the cool air and falling back onto the water on her side with a satisfying smack. Before the wave closed over her she saw the face of one of the two-legs watching after her with envy. This one’s face was slender and pale, and she could tell that it was only just recovering from a deep and abiding pain. She surfaced once more, and its eyes caught hers. Gracefully she leapt up and dove into the oncoming wave, while the two-legs leaned harder upon the rail of the ship, watching after her. She circled about, again leaping high above the waves and curving to reenter the water with but the slightest of splashes. Again its eyes followed after her, and she saw that they were the color of the sky as evening falls, bright with intelligence, and again shadowed by a pain or grief that had not fully departed.
This was no Elf, she realized, having seen enough of those upon their ships and in her few visits to the dry land—not to mention those who stood elsewhere upon the deck of this ship. She could hear the Song of him, and there was little of the Sea within it. She heard in it wind in trees and rain upon green growing things, the sleepy reassurance of solid stone and peaceful earth, and water that ran contained through the land rather than dancing freely under the stars of Varda.
When next she surfaced, there was purposeful activity upon the ship, with the sailors running here and there, the sails drawn in and a sea anchor thrown off the stern to slow its movements. A second of the two-leg’s kind stood by him, shorter and rounder—and much older, she realized. There was a resemblance between the two of them, although its eyes were pale from staring into the distant sky for many sun-rounds and the hair of it white as sea froth, its skin ruddier and more wrinkled than that of its taller, more slender companion. The smaller one was arguing with the taller one, but there was an expression of stubborn purpose to the one who’d first drawn her attention, and it was pulling at the cloth that landsmen appeared to feel they needed to hide the greater part of their bodies.
A far taller two-legs now approached and placed a hand on the shoulder of the smaller one, obviously seeking to reassure it. As she reentered the water, Bryseluthea shot downward to the side of Ulmo once more. What is it that they do? she asked.
The Cormacolindo has requested permission to swim with the dolphins, he answered her, and they stop the ship that he might have his wish. There has been little enough he has ever asked for, and they delight to give him the chance to honor this desire, as simple as it appears.
His companion does not wish him to do as he purposes, she noted.
It is not usually in the nature of such creatures to feel free to swim upon the waters, he answered. But Frodo Baggins has done little but to defy the conventions of his people for much of his life, which has worked to the good not only of Middle Earth and its peoples but also for all of Arda beyond. All who know of the great sacrifices asked of him and that he freely gave wish him happiness, including my fellow Valar and myself.
He is no Elf.
Nor is he.
She again took the form of a dolphin and swam up closer to the surface, listening to the excited songs of the pod as they circled about the slowing ship. Now that she was caught in this shape she found she needed to speed to the surface to take a breath, and she breached the wave just in time to see the small creature she’d been watching, with but a thin layer of cloth about its loins, balanced easily upon the rail of the ship. He launched himself into the water, almost as gracefully as any of the dolphins that swam about the ship—--
----And sank deep, deep below the surface, drawn in part by the malice of her son’s followers as they swam below, close to the bottom of the Sea.
She could feel his surprise at the cold and the apparently measureless depths about him as she dove after him. It took precious time to reach him, and she realized he was in distress, for he could not hold his breath much longer. Foolish thing! she thought chidingly as she dove between his legs and bore him upward more swiftly than he could move upon his own. The skin of him felt remarkably smooth and thin against her flanks, which made the cloth appear that much more disturbing to her. Once he could easily make the last few feet to breathe once more, she fell away, and with a feeling of mischief she pulled away that last layer of fabric, leaving all of him to rejoice freely at the healing touch of the waters about him.
And as she let the fabric go, drifting slowly downward to spite the dark ones who circled below that only so much of their desired prey came to them, she scented about him the musk of his maleness. And, for the first time since she’d repudiated her former mate, she felt a tingle within her, exciting her to the chance to once again know the joining of hröa and fëa that had been the delight of the Children of Ilúvatar since they were granted the ability to dwell within bodies and to populate Arda to fulfill the wishes of the Creator.
Then you will consider the commission I would offer you? asked her lord within the depths of her heart.
I will consider it, although I would know far more of him ere I would take a form upon myself with which we could communicate. For I discern he cannot take upon himself any other hröa than the one he bears now.
That is so, Bryseluthea, her lord assured her. It is no simple thing I ask of you.
Again she swam about the two-legs, jostling him with the others as he treaded water and then shifted upon his back to float upon the surface of the waves. She slipped out of the form of a dolphin and returned to the side of Lord Ulmo. He is mortal! He, then, is indeed the one you would have me love?
Yes, that he is. She sensed her Lord’s infinite patience with her need for assurance.
And he will not be able to remain within the Bounds of Arda when his time comes.
Nor does he wish to remain here indefinitely, child.
But, should I choose to mate with him—it would distress his spirit terribly to know I could not follow him beyond the Circles of this world! That is one of the truths of the existence of mortals I have heard them repeat again and again when they have been saved from death and know they may not return to those they love—that they recognize that although they might not be reunited now, yet they will most likely meet anew once they approach the Presence of Eru. It reassures them, and gives them the estel they need to accept the renewed gift of their lives.
Indeed that is so.
She could feel the pride he took in her, and realized that to fully mate with this one he hoped she would come to love, she would indeed have to take on herself the fullness of that one’s mortal nature.
He is all that you have ever wanted to love, Bryseluthea. Yes, you would lose the promise of being tied to the life of Arda you know now; but are you strong enough to accept that perhaps there is an even greater reassurance you could know should you accept mortality? A few of Elvenkind have accepted that Gift and have passed beyond the bounds of Arda, and one more has accepted it and will follow her beloved husband when it is his time to go. Are you able to trust to Eru’s mercy that much?
She watched as a rope was lowered to the small mortal two-legs and he was drawn at last back onto the ship, back to his own world from hers, and found herself tingling with disappointment that this must be so.
Could she love him, take him as a mate, join with him body and soul? But to do so she would have to sacrifice all that she had ever been since she’d awakened as a Child of the Sea. His life was finite—or at least that was so here, within Arda. And as she saw the sea anchor drawn in and the ship once more begin to move with current and wind, again heading for Aman, she knew that although he might sojourn there for a time yet he did not belong there, either, and must in the end leave there, too.
It was much to think on. Almost absently she took leave of her Lord, and paid the dark ones below but scant attention as they tore the fabric she’d sent to them to pieces in lieu of the body they’d hoped to rend. At last she decided, she would watch him there, were it so given to her, and make her decision once she saw what kind of life he chose, what kind of home he took for himself. If he were to take a home within the sound of the surf perhaps she could bear it….
And Ulmo smiled with both sadness and hope as he watched her go and noted her decisions. With one concern eased, he turned upon the dark ones, dispersing them so it would take many cycles of the moon for them to find one another once more. He would not harm any of them, but their willingness to listen to the blandishments of the darkest of his brothers distressed him. He feared that even Darkfin must one day face the ire of those of his kind who had chosen the Light instead….
Author’s notes: “Bryseluthea” is the name originally given Anemone by Armariel, and it means “Perilous Flower”. “Falmalótë” means “Flower of the Wave” and is the dear-name given her by Ulmo in my-verse. I hope that Armariel does not take offense! And thanks to Fiondil for the help in choosing a dear-name for her.