Masses of Noldor swirl in the square, faces flickering in the torchlight; it is impossible to recognize any one face among them.
There are voices, too; a babbling multitude Elemmírë cannot separate from each other. It was a bad idea, she knows, to come here as soon as she heard of Fëanáro’s arrival in Tirion, but she cannot bear to not have any news of her wife.
A flash of a color she hopes is blue, and she grabs the person.
“Utter madness, who would swear such—” the speaker breaks off as Elemmírë thrusts her torch dangerously near his face. “Elemmírë?”
“I—” She lets go off Ñolofinwë. “I beg your pardon, have you—”
“Lalwen? No.” He shakes his head. “It is chaos here, Elemmírë, it is impossible, and—” he turns back to the people he is speaking to “—cannot be allowed—”
Elemmírë plunges back into the teeming throng; she hears Fëanáro’s distinct tones but pushes past, ignoring him. He will know nothing of her wife. And a rare glimpse of what is unmistakably gold—her heart jumps, again.
But it is Artanis who turns, mid-argument. “—if the princes can—no, Elemmírë, she is not here, but I saw her with Írissë and Niélë—if they can, why can I—”
“Where are they?” Elemmírë calls, but her voice is lost amidst others.
It is impossible; no matter how much she searches, she cannot find Írimë in this chaos. But she cannot—
A flash of gold, again, and an unmistakable voice—
Elemmírë elbows people and pushes, and suddenly that oh-so-familiar body is in her arms, and she cares not for Írissë and Niélë nearby, her face buried in Írimë’s curls, one a hand on Írimë’s back, the other carefully holding the torch away.
“Well,” and Írimë draws away, “You are excited to see me.”
But she has to shout to make herself heard. Elemmírë shakes her head, leads them away, towards the corners where the crowd is thinner, the noise less deafening.
She holds the torch up higher, drinking in the dear face that swims before her, strange in the orange half-light. Dark skin glows golden with reflected torch-light, and the familiar blue eyes sparkle at her. Relief washes over Elemmírë, and she allows herself one desperate sob. “Írimë, I thought you were—”
She stops, unable to continue, but Írimë has no such qualms. “Missing? Half-crazed like the rest of them?” She throws back her head and laughs, a wild, wild laugh. “Maybe I am.”
“No.” Elemmírë shakes her head. “No, Írimë, I thought you were...dead.” The last word is a whispered confession, her darkest fear.
“Listen to me, beloved.” Írimë is suddenly serious, and she cups Elemmírë’s face with her free hand. “Our bond still works, you would know if that were so.”
“I...after everything went dark, I do not know whether...” Elemmírë flounders; her fears seem silly to her, now, but they still lurk: what if, what if, what if. What if she dies. A fear she has never known before, a new fear.
“Elemmírë!” Írimë touches her mind, speaking both inside and outside.
Elemmírë laughs in relief. My love, she whispers. Aloud, “I do not know why I did not think of that.” Then, shaking her head, “I was out of my mind with fear, and all this is too strange...”
“Yes, it is,” Írimë says, but she speaks absently, and Elemmírë is gripped, again with uncertainty.
“Írimë? What is the matter?”
“Nothing.” An impatient shake of her head. “Nothing, ’Mírë, nothing.”
“Írimë.” Please. What is wrong?
“I—” She pauses, sighs. “I—I am going. To Endórë.”
“Listen to me, Elemmírë,” and now Írimë is speaking very fast, her free hand moving with her speech, “Fëanáro has sworn a foolhardy oath, and Ñolofinwë is determined to follow him (he has always been a child about Fëanáro, Elemmírë, and Arafinwë and the Noldor follow the two of them) and I must go with him, you know I must”—I know, Elemmírë thinks, a private thought not meant for her wife—“and besides,”—and here her eyes brighten, or is Elemmírë just imagining things?—“He is right in some thingsl there are wide lands out there, Elemmírë, lands which will be ours, and there is bliss and freedom, Elemmírë. Come away with me, Elemmírë. Come with me; we will be queens together in Endórë. Or you can pursue music all day long, and write what you will, not what the Court demands of you.”
And for one, shining moment, Írimë’s dream is within Elemmírë’s reach. Bliss such as they have in Valinorë, without fear or shame attached, and she and Írimë, together somewhere of their own—But then she thinks of her sister and parents, still weeping by the Trees, and, “I cannot.” Then, because she must, “Írimë, please, stay with me.”
“You know I cannot, I have duties and loves where the Noldor go,” Írimë whispers.
“And you know I have duties and loves in Valinorë.” Some part of Elemmírë has knows, since the sky went black, that Írimë would not be hers again, truly, but these words bring that home.
There is nothing more to say, and they lean their foreheads together, staring at each other for a long time.
It is Elemmírë who breaks the silence. “I will miss you.”
“And I you,” Írimë replies softly.
A tear trickles down Elemmírë’s cheek. A matching one glistens on Írimë’s; Elemmírë reaches out with a finger and catches it, carefully wipes it away. “It is not goodbye. We have our bond.”
“I will feel you every day,” Írimë agrees. But it is not the same as physical touch; both know it will never be.
“I will write songs about you.” Now Elemmírë is delaying the inevitable parting, speaking whatever comes to her mind.
“I am afraid I cannot do that,” Írimë whispers, “For I have no such skill. But I will remember you as I may.”
“That is more than enough.”
There is another silence; Elemmírë hears Írimë’s harsh, jagged breathing, and, as if in from far away, the distant roar of the crowd.
Then suddenly Írimë pulls back, and there is a new fire in her soul and in her eyes. “I will come back,” she vows, looking directly at Elemmírë, and Elemmírë feels pride bubbling up in her at her wife, illogical though it may be, and the pride mixes with the sadness in one long, private song. “This is my oath: I will come back. I swear I will.” Then she kisses Elemmírë one last time, a short, chaste kiss, and leaves.
Elemmírë watches long after the crowd swallows her up.