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Of Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax

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The pool is their meeting-place; Nellas wanders the lands, still unfamiliar even after many years, and when she returns—most often at night—she waits, here for Goldberry.


Sometimes, it's so dark that nothing can be seen, but not tonight. Tonight the stars are reflected between lilies in the moonlight, and, as Nellas cups water in her hands and pours it on her face, she sees that the moon itself is full.


“It's a beautiful night.”


Nellas doesn't need to turn; she knows the soft footsteps of the River-Daughter, and shivers as a hand slides across her back. “It is.”


“Where did you wander, star-child? Which far path did you travel today?”


“Deep into the forest, and back,” Nellas answers. “Where else?”


“Where else indeed?” Goldberry's other hand rises to Nellas' cheek, and now she does turn, their mouths meeting halfway in a kiss.


Nellas can taste the forest in Goldberry's mouth, sweet berries and honey and fresh water. Her hand rises to Goldberry's beautiful golden hair.


Abruptly, Goldberry pulls away. “It's a night for dancing, star-child. Would you dance with me?”


Nellas' answer is silent, a hand around Goldberry's waist as she guides them both away from the water.


There is no music but the music of the wind and the trees; they sway to that gentle rhythm, for how long neither of them know. The world is still, holding its breath for this dance.


When the rays of the Sun creep over the horizon, they fall to the ground, and, entwined together, slumber in a bed of moss and flowers.



Goldberry wakes first, in the evening, and it's her fingers combing through Nellas' hair which rouse Nellas.




“I'm here,” Goldberry whispers.


Nellas smiles up at her, blinking sleepily in the golden sunlight. “You are.”


“Not forever.” Goldberry's tone is strange, and there's a hint of wistfulness as she holds Nellas' gaze. “Not forever, star-child. One day you will leave me.”


“I always come back,” Nellas murmurs. “But why so sad, on such a lovely day?” She reaches up to stroke her lover's jaw with a gentle finger.


“Because I remember,” Goldberry says, and the deep sadness in her eyes makes Nellas' heart ache. “You will leave, like those before you. And those after you will leave, too.”


Nellas sits up and turns the familiar face to hers. “I can't promise you 'forever'”—she has lived too long in this broken world for that—“but I will stay as long as I can.”


“As long as you can,” Goldberry says, “And then you will leave, star-child, and it will begin again.” There is a frown on her forehead, but no anger in her eyes, only quiet resignation.


“Come now,” Nellas replies, sweeping her fingers along Goldberry's jaw, then dipping lower, to her collarbones. “You think of something that is likely to never happen.”


“But it will,” Goldberry whispers, and turns her face away. “That is ever my lot in life.”


Nellas goes to argue, but something in Goldberry's eyes dissuades her. “Then forget what's going to happen, and think about now.” When Goldberry doesn't answer, she lifts a hand and takes something from Goldberry's hair. “Look.”


A flower lies on Nellas' palm, small, five-petaled, delicate. “It is beautiful.”


“It was lost in the depths of your hair,” Nellas says. “But here.” She tucks the flower behind Goldberry's ear.


Goldberry smiles. “Thank you.”