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Years under the Stars

Chapter Text

A new Life

 

Even with everything the Valar had done to prevent Melkor from finding the Firstborn Children of Eru after their Awakening, they knew not where in Middle-earth the Children had woken up or come into being. As such Oromë increased his rides out to the distant Eastern continents, continually hunting the spawn of Melker to ward off dangers for the coming Children. After one such hunt—during which he stumbled upon a nest of wyrms—the Huntsman returned home wearied and scarred.

"Oromë, did you find them ?" a voice called out as Nahar crossed the Pelóri to Valmar. Scarce had he touched than the ground than his wife, Vána, ran out to him, golden hair fanning out in her haste, Varda's stars glinting. As Nahar slowed to a stop Vána reached him, concern etched across her fair face.

Oromë shook his head, wincing in pain.

"Nay, no sign of them yet. Melkor's shadow is too long. I fear that we may not find them in time. My Maiar are stretched thin as it is—ow," he moaned as she placed an herbal cloth to his wounds. "Please, Vána, let me down first."

As the other Valar approached them, following after Vána, Oromë climbed off his steed, simultaneously trying not to fall off and fending his wife's worried hands from dabbing his face. It was a ghastly sight to behold, even with his amazing inner flames. Deep marks from poisoned claw and fang had scored his face deeply, a burn line entwined around his neck, and one of his eyes was permanently closed. Such was his state that Ulmo, instead of focusing his power, blasted him with salt water instead of more soothing fresh water. Oromë howled and Vána shouted at Ulmo as the latter frantically tried to apologize.

Not far behind, as Mandos and Vairë held up a circle-shaped light together, some of their own Maiar showed up behind Oromë, having been dispatched to help in his search for the Children. They too, as the Vala, had been involved in several battles that had left marks on them.

"By the love of our Father… this was not how we hoped for the Children to enter this world in… a world of danger and darkness which they do not know how to protect themselves from…" Mandos whispered in a shaking voice, filled with worry and fear, as he held one injured Maia in his arms. The Doomsman looked around at his fellow Valar, hissing in shock as his mind was suddenly flooded with a vision. While he was no seer, only able to see hints of the future that often were confusing, Mandos had a growing feeling that this vision was important.

"Brother, what is wrong?" his brother Irmo wondered in worry, placing a hand on his brother's shoulder at Mandos' tremors. He rarely had a such violent reaction.

"Spirit… of fire… two different families… shared blood…" At his strange words, Nienna looked around as if searching for something which should have been there. When looking over the numbers of the present Maiar she realized something worrying.

"One of Vairë's Maiar is missing! The little spirit of fire who always lightens up your tapestries while you work on them!" she exclaimed in a panic.

Hearing what she said, Oromë paled in fear at the memory of the unexpected battle against some Valaraukar in addition to the wyrms, which he and the Maiar had done just before coming back to Valinor—this accounted for the whip burn. In the chaos of that battle the Maia must have gone missing either to injury or capture.

"I pray to Eru the spirit of fire has not been captured by Melkor," he whispered. Vána, who held her cloth against his face firmly, looked pale. Manwë answered solemnly, "We'll find him."

 

~X~X~X~X~X~X~

 

Pain. Pain everywhere from the injuries the Valaraukar had given him. Flashes of the landscape passing by in his hurry to get away from the battle, the surrounding chaos as Oromë and his fellow Maiar vanished in a different direction once the fire demon was killed.

"I need to hide and heal," he thought frantically, "before returning to Valinor! I am of not much use with these injuries…!"

Even when being in spirit form, the Maiar could actually be injured by any Ainu, but not outright killed. While most of them knew how to defend themselves, the Valaraukar was a horrible enemy in battle. Being taken by surprise did not really help matters either. Finally, the Maia collapsed to the ground in fatigue, taking the shape of a small fire among the leaves. The shape of faint embers was a sign of that he was dangerously close to unconsciousness, unable to bring himself strength anymore.

"Not good… I can barely move anymore… I need to hide…"

Something moved in the bushes around him, but he could not see what it was. Spiritually, it did not appear to mean any harm, so perhaps an animal curious about the small fire. But what revealed itself from the bushes was rather unexpected—not an animal, or a fellow Maia. It was a young creature, from the size and long limbs for the body; the hair was a rich chestnut brown in colour, seemingly lighter towards its golden bronze-coloured skin and black eyes.

"Papa! There is a little fire here!" the child called, kneeling down and poking on the embers with some dry grass to keep it going. Footsteps were heard before her parent arrived. While his daughter was completely nude apart from a little necklace with a wolf fang, the elder wore an animal skin loincloth to protect against thorns and brambles.

"Well spotted, Beril," he said approvingly. "With some work we will soon have a warm fire in front of our hut." Her father patted her on the head with pride as he bent down to carefully collect the embers with a large piece of bark. As they walked back to the camp, the father gently blew from time to time to keep the small fire alive.

 

When they arrived to a small hut made of tree branches and dried reed hidden amongst the trees, Beril hurried over to her mother to tell her how she had spotted the fire her father carried in his hands. Smiling at the tale the mother gave her daughter some mashed berries to wait while waiting for the dinner. Once they had gotten the fire into a pleasant heat and size, Beril's father prepared three fishes to roast over the fire.

In the light from the fire, the difference between his wife and himself was apparent. Both parents and their daughter were dark skinned, but where Beril had inherited her mother's black eyes it was from her father the brown hair came from. He had very light grey eyes, almost matching the silver of his wife's hair.

"I am hungry," Beril whined.

"Easy, sweetie, the fish is almost ready for eating."

Neither one of the parents was surprised that Beril was hungry; she was a growing child, and needed lots of food. She was not the only elfling in the camp they belonged to, but it had been awhile since the last birth in this group of Elves. They feared the dark beings around, those who could snatch someone away if they wandered too far from the camp alone. Beril did not know about it since she had not been born at that time, but she had already lost an older brother to the Dark Rider when he had been just a little older than her current age.

"It is good that you eat well, Beril, it will help you grow strong as an adult," her father said at seeing that she had finished her grilled fish. After being given some water from a bowl of dried clay, one of her father's own making, Beril started to blink tiredly.

"Bedtime for you, dear daughter."

Removing her own loincloth before picking up her yawning daughter in her arms, the mother took the chance to slightly shake her hips alongside a blink to her husband, who realized the unspoken signal and grinned inside as he stroked the fire with a stick.

"It would be pleasant to possible have a new child soon… Beril would be happy for a sibling she could grow up with," he spoke mostly for himself, unaware of the longing look in his eyes. The loss of their firstborn had been devastating, and they had almost feared the idea of getting a new child only to lose the son or daughter as well. But the clan needed more children; they needed to grow in number so they could protect themselves better. The Dark Rider never attacked large groups.

"Beloved."

He looked up from the fire, smiling as he kissed his wife with deep, honest passion when she bent down over him. Breaking apart because they needed to breathe, faces flushing deeply, he allowing her to push him backwards on the animal fur which laid just beside the hut opening, and almost tore off his loincloth in the touches across his muscular body.

No one had any trouble in seeing a couple involved in love-making out in the open, since it was how the animals did, and the sense of moral decency had not yet made itself known among them. A growing moan in his ear told the husband that he had hit the right spot to give her pleasure as she started to ride him. Neither wife or husband noticed that the heat from the fire outside seemed to grow even stronger in response to their movements, and angled toward them as if pressed by an invisible wind…

 

~X~X~X~X~X~X~

 

Many months later, the wife was in the beginning of labour, being almost ready for delivering her third child out into the world.

"M—Mom?" Beril asked, looking a bit nervous. No big wonder, she was excited about becoming a big sister but was worried for her mother when she had started to show signs of being in pain.

"I am fine, dear daughter. You said something about having chosen a name for your sibling?"

Beril nodded, before almost whispering:

"Mirwë… I thought that Mirwë would fit…"

Both the parents smiled, and nodded at one another.

"A very nice name," her father said. "I am sure that we can grant that name once your sibling is old enough for the naming ceremony where you got your own name, remember?" Beril grinned, recalling when she had gone from her toddlerhood nickname of "little hunter" to given her actual and current name of Beril, which meant Protector because of her habit of trying to help protect the tribe despite her young age.

Her mother gasped slightly. "Time for me to enter the birthing hut. Honey, can you and Beril please prepare a basket for the baby to be carried in while I am there?"

"Of course, dearest."

Giving her an encouraging kiss on the forehead, the father signaled to Beril to come along to the hut's corner where they had some extra animal skins.

"Even if you may not have children of your own, it can be useful to know how to make a warm sleeping basket for a baby. Now, take one of my wicker baskets over there and check so it is not broken somewhere…"

 

Finally, one of the midwives came out from the birthing hut and called for everyone's attention with the words:

"We have a new member of the tribe, and there is no fear for mother and child. Both are well after the birth."

Beril and her father were given many congratulations on the way to the birthing hut, her carrying a wicker basket with the warmest and softest pieces of fur they owned to serve as a very simple cradle.

"You have given the tribe a new son and blessed your wife with a male child of her colours," the head midwife said as she carefully handed the crying baby, wrapped in a soft rabbit skin, to the father who was teary-eyed in joy.

"Waaaah! Waaah! "

"Shhhhh….there, there, son… be quiet… do not fear. Your mother is not far away," the father soothed the baby in his arms, who whimpered a bit but was calmed by the familiar sound of his voice. Father and daughter entered the birthing hut, the small family was to stay there for some time in order to bond properly with the newest family member.

"Look at you, son. You seem to shine different from the other children born in this tribe. Why is that?" The father wondered as he cradled his newborn son.

The mother was tired after birth, but smiled at seeing her family. With her husband and daughter sitting down around the birth bed, she took back her son to give him his first milk. Beril, who had touched one of the tiny little hands with a finger, curiously held one of the small silver locks on her brother's head between thumb and index finger, the hair making his dark skin colour looking even darker than Beril due to the difference in hair colour between the young siblings.

"Why have he not opened his eyes yet?"

"Some babies do not open their eyes right after birth, Beril. They need a little time to open them." her father responded with a smile. She almost pouted in return, just as her brother finished nursing.

"Open your eyes, little brother, let us see what colour they are!" she pleaded softly, in an attempt to sound encouraged. As if hearing, the baby slowly opened his eyelids to reveal a set of stunning silver eyes. The parents laughed in pride.

"Someone here is gonna be a very handsome one as a grown-up. You are going to need to watch yourself from the ladies of other tribes if you catch their eye." The father chuckled while the mother took a careful look at her son's tiny hands. In her mind, she could almost see them grow into a set of slender hands with long fingers, perfect for working on finer details like his father who was skilled in making pots of clay.

"Þerindë ," the mother said clearly, giving her son his mother name, which meant "Broideress". They had first mistaken his spirit for being female because it did not have much male sensation while in the womb and thought that they would be given a new daughter, but it was not unheard of such mistakes given how much spiritual powers it was in this tribe.

Beril, who now had her finger in a steady grip inside a tiny fist, could not help but suddenly say:

"His palms are rather warm, don't you think?"

"He may be still a little warm from the bath to clean him after birth, nothing to worry about."

As they talked, the baby looked around in wonder at them and at the star light from the sky far above the camp. Yet he did not fuss, only tried to mentally come to terms over that he possessed an actual body of the earth instead of one of his own fashioning as when he had been a pure spirit. Even if it had been rather unexpected to become one of the Children in a manner like this, he knew that as long as he was unable to protect himself when he was this young, they would protect him. In time, he would return that favor somehow.

 

~X~X~X~X~X~X~

 

Notes: Mirwë is supposed to be the masculine form of Miriel, the prefix Mir meaning "Jewel" and the suffix -wë a masculine name-ending, like Finwë.