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Without Light

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There was nothing to fear in darkness alone. This, Eärwen had known since her earliest days. She had been born to a nomadic people, under a starlit sky. If anything was to be feared, it was the things that lurked in the dark. They were to be driven off with torches and spears. The glinting eyes that stared the Ellalië down in the dark, that was what Eärwen had been taught to fear.

But darkness by itself was nothing evil. In Endóre, the Lindar had welcomed it, the better to see the stars they so loved. In Aman, they loved it still, and thus dwelt outside of the Pelóri, where the light of the Trees was at its dimmest.

However, we loved the Trees as well. To anyone who would call the Lindar too-close kin to the Avari, to anyone who would scorn me for being uncomfortable with the bright light of Tirion, all I can say is this: We loved the Trees as well.

I wanted to go back to those days in Endóre, sometimes. But never at such a price as this…

It was dark outside, and Eärwen shut the door for the sake of the one who lived in this house. She went about, checking that all of the curtains had been pulled shut and no trace of the darkness, unnatural for Aman, could be found here. She checked that all of the torches were lit, and that every shadow that could be extinguished, was. Even as she did this, Eärwen knew that when she found Anairë, she would be in tears.

When she did find Anairë, Eärwen decided that perhaps it was not so bad as she had feared. Anairë was sitting at the table in her bedchamber, a candle lit before her. Her long brown hair was unbound; it fell so that Eärwen could not see her face until she stood close beside her.

Anairë looked up at her with bloodshot eyes and that pale, strained face that Eärwen had grown entirely too used to over the past few decades. No tears, but it didn’t look like it had been that long since last she shed them. Maybe she had even hastily dried her eyes when she heard Eärwen coming up the stairs.

“I feel as though my home is under siege,” she croaked.

Eärwen put a hand on Anairë’s shoulder, smiling weakly. “You shouldn’t,” she said gently. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. If you would come outside and see the stars…”

“What?!” A disbelieving, shaky laugh escaped Anairë’s lips. She hopped up out of her chair, shaking off Eärwen’s touch and staring incredulously up into her face. “Out there? Out there, I feel as though I stand upon the threshold of the Void, and that I will be thrown into that emptiness at any moment. Bereft of light and companionship, forever.” She cast a glance towards the curtained windows of her bedchamber, before shuddering and turning away, hugging herself as though cold. “No, I will not go out there,” she muttered.

Eärwen winced. “I’m sorry, Anairë. I didn’t think.” I had forgotten how dependent some of you are on the light.

For a moment, Anairë stared at her, eyes wide, before she shook her head sharply. “No, no. It is of no concern, Eärwen.” She looked at Eärwen as though seeing her for the first time; namely, seeing the riding gear she wore for the first time. “Oh…” Anairë’s shoulders sagged. “…Are you leaving now, Eärwen?” she asked in a small voice.

She had been planning to leave. There was nothing keeping Eärwen in Tirion, not affection nor family; she could do nothing but return to Alqualondë, where her family was. But the words that spilled out of her mouth were nothing to the effect of explaining this. “No. I’m staying here. I’ll stay here with you, Anairë.”

The look of relief that washed over Anairë’s face was enough to quash any misgivings Eärwen might have felt about staying. Anairë wrapped her arms around Eärwen’s neck, and Eärwen leaned down to kiss the top of Anairë’s head.

She imagined Anairë dwelling here, all alone in this house. The household servants had fled with her husband, and her family was gone. Anairë might well dwell here, alone and forgotten, until she starved out of her fear of the darkness outside. How could Eärwen leave her in such a state?