More Than a Weapon
"So," Korben said, tracing the edges of my face with one rough fingertip. His tone was light, but there was concern in his eyes: concern for me, something I was still not used to seeing. "Every five thousand years, huh?" he asked, quietly. "How long you been doing this?"
"Very long time," I replied, turning my face to nuzzle against his hand. I was getting better at speaking his language, but it was still easier to understand it than to put the words together in the right order. I didn't think he minded, though; he always smiled when I spoke. Always, since he had held me as the stones woke and I drove the Evil out of the dark planet, casting his spirit back where it belonged.
"Many times the Darkness comes, in many forms. Always, I am ready to protect," I explained.
"Always," he repeated, softly. "That is a very long time."
His other hand moved up and down my bare back, tracing patterns on my skin; I sighed and wrapped my arms more tightly around him, turning my face again to press an ear against his chest. This was new to me, too; for all the millennia I had lived before I met him, never had anyone dared touch me as though I were more than a weapon-- or less than a divine being. I had not known what I had been missing-- and now that I knew, I never wanted to give it up.
"Yes," I replied, sleepily. "He walks behind the Door of Night; when he returns, he will turn light to dark, make all life suffer." I had heard the litany often enough, from my masters when they made me in the Uttermost West, and from the scholars and priests who woke me each time the Door opened; many details had been lost, but the basic story stayed the same. "I was made to protect; I shut the Door when it opens."
"Hmmm," he said, slowly. "So does that mean you have to go back to sleep soon, to wait for the next time?"
"Soon," I agreed, then smiled against his chest. "But soon can also be very long time."
Soon had been nearly fifteen hundred cycles of the Sun, once. The first time the Door opened my masters were prepared and I closed it quickly, but the Dark One's servants still lived then, and the Valar feared someone might find a way to force the Door again before the set time. They set four precious gems, one for each element, in a sword-- the leeloo mi naï for which I was named-- and left me awake to guard it. I was always alone, in those days; I had food to eat, and water to drink, and the stars to watch, and that was all. I did not know what loneliness was, then-- not until she came.
She came on the wings of a dream; she was mostly human, with long pale hair and cloth wrapped around one of her arms. She was not the first mortal I had seen-- many in those days had true dreaming, and wandered in their sleep-- but she was the first to speak to me. She held a sword in her unwounded hand, and her eyes were cold and hard; she stared at me and said, "I have not died, and the battle still goes on."
She did not come again, and soon after that the lesser Dark One perished. The gems were removed from their settings and placed in rough stone containers, while I was sent back to my long sleep-- but every time I woke I thought of her and what she'd said and wondered if that was all I would ever be allowed to have. To never die, always preparing for the next battle.
I didn't know if she'd ever found her own Korben, someone to teach her of love and help her be strong without breaking. I didn't know if I would ever find one again, later; my Korben was mortal, too, while I would live until the End of Time. But as long as he lived, I intended to stay; I would not miss the smallest moment of the wonder that he shared with me.
"I love you," he whispered, and pressed a kiss to the top of my head. "You know that, right?"
"I do," I whispered back, tilting my head so the next kiss would reach my lips. "And I love you."
Harbinger of Light
We stood on the battlements together, he and I, the wind tangling our hair together; he held me clasped close in his arms, and the imprint of his lips still tingled on my brow. Below us, singing drifted up from the city; before us, the Shadow was breaking at long last, and great shafts of light speared down to limn the landscape in light. Joy and hope trembled in the air, just within my grasp if I would but reach for them.
I was not sure I could; I did not yet know what to feel. The brink of the abyss no longer yawned before me, but its absence did not yet feel real. I had pursued this war, this impossible outcome, but never had I planned for what might come after. I had looked for death in battle, but I had not died, and the battle had gone on-- yet still had I expected this war to claim my life, and the lives of all about me as it already had my beloved cousin and uncle. Yet despite also being imprisoned by the healers through tragedies of his own, the man beside me did not share my despair, and I did not understand it.
This man, this noble man, who looked at me as though I were something wondrous. This man who was not Aragorn, King of Men; this man who dreamed of Númenor, and draped his mother's embroidered mantle about my shoulders.
Did he love me? I was sure he did.
Did I love him? After Aragorn-- after everything-- I was not sure I even knew what romantic love was.
I thought of the woman I had seen in my dreams the night before and stirred, turning a little in Faramir's arms. Did she know? I had seen in her an endless patience, an existence ruled solely by purpose-- but lonely, so lonely. A sword, flashing with gems the colors of autumn sky, summer grass, spring sunlight, and the fires of winter-- but only a sword, and she, eternally vigilant against endless night.
He looked down at me then, stirring me from the memory, a question in his eyes. The songs of victory had quieted as the wind had stilled, leaving us suspended in a pocket of peace; it was as though the rest of the world did not exist.
"You spoke of Númenor," I said then, "of the green land, of the Wave; I too have dreamed of the West, though of another place." The urge to describe it to him-- and the woman, with vivid hair the color of aging leaves and endlessly empty blue eyes-- was very strong, and I let it all spill from me to fill up the anticipatory silence around us.
"I do not know what it means," Faramir told me when I had finished, a solemn light in his gray eyes, "but I do not doubt its importance. Your grandmother was of my people; it may be that you have inherited the true dreaming from her. I have dreamed of the dying of a great light, but it seems likely that you have dreamed of the harbinger of another."
The joy in the air seemed to have seeped into his pores; though he spoke gravely, the light he spoke of fairly shone from him, and I shrank from it a little, clasping the mantle more securely around my shoulders. I suspected he was right, but I still could not see my way forward. Was that light, then, for me? Could I bear its touch? I did not yet know.
Several months later, I dreamed true a second time. This latter vision lacked the immediacy of the other; the woman's strange armor and the jeweled sword were not present, but she could be mistaken for no other. Her vivid hair was the same, though shorter, and the shape of her face had not changed. Yet she was as different from the woman I had seen before as I was from the woman who had stood, frozen by indecision, on the battlements above Minas Tirith at the dawning of a new world: a smile curved her lips, and a light glowed in her eyes where there had been none before.
"Korben," she breathed, turning her face against the chest of the man who held her.
The dream dissipated as I woke, and I smiled, turning my face against the chest of my new husband. "Faramir," I murmured, and my heart sang with joy.