(Stolen from amimain, yet again. <33333 I wrote ENTIRELY too much, but I won’t apologize because this was a really great exercise. I hope you enjoy! ^_^)
Sky quietly slipped out of the room when she thought Luned had finally fallen asleep. Her roommate slept like a log most nights, making it much easier to slide away. She bundled herself up even further before silently exiting the warm house, trading comfort for freezing cold. Feet walked: left, right, left, right, making small crunches in the remaining snow. Every night, she went to this spot and every night she waited. All night. She had no idea if she’d ever see her again, but she’d always try. Was it a dream?
Ruff! A small puppy bounded up to the campsite shortly after Sky lit a fire. Bending down in a mess of limbs, she sat on the ground and held her arms out. The puppy, already freezing in the mid-winter night, quickly ran up to both young woman and fire: both warm. Sky hugged the puppy tight, glad for companionship as she held her vigil.
The little pup reminded her of Olly. Her eyes shifted from the small bundle of fur, over to the fire. As the flames crackled in the night, licked and climbed upward only to dissipate against the harsh coolness of the air, Sky sadly thought of her dear friend. Sometimes at night, she’d hug a pillow just to pretend it was her beloved dog once more. Not many things in this world are more crushing than losing your home, your family: but losing your pet cut deeply. They never found Olly after they escaped their home in the north. It was assumed that Olly died by an Orc’s hand. Her brows furrowed and she broke her gaze on the fire, dragging it to the shaggy creature curled in her lap. He wasn’t Olly, but he’d do. At least dogs liked her. She continued to play the waiting game.
The book slowly closed, shutting the door on all further adventures to the land of Lorien for the evening. Foreign symbols, Sindarin, faded from his mind slowly. It was his favorite book, a book of epic poetry dedicated to the Golden Wood. His hands softly caressed the cover, a faint smile playing on his lips. He’d never forget the first time this book had been placed into his hands.
A mischievous and melodic voice rang in his ear. “Dínendir, come along. I’ll read you your favorite book tonight. Just don’t tell Adar or Naneth!” His eyes widened and he ran to get ready to sleep. The book with all the Elves with the gold trees! No young boy ever cleaned up and got into his sleeping gown as quickly as he did that evening. Plopping into his large and soft mattress, he sat quietly. Eventually his sister slipped into the room, inciting silent but rousing applause from him.
“It’s your birthday today, Dínendir. I’m going to give you a treat, okay?” His eyes sparkled, just like she wanted. The older girl plopped an old, leather-bound book into his lap; it was well-loved, with an etching of a beautiful tree on the cover. It was their favorite poetry book, the one she promised to read to him tonight. Wide blue-gray eyes looked up to her in childish hope, small hands already crawling around to hold it to his chest. “Well, read it! I’m giving it to you, if you can read me the first stanza. Come on.”
Clearing his small, boyish throat, little Dínendir began to recite the long, twisting words written in the book. His Sindarin, even at the tender age of seven, was already properly accentuated. She smiled widely, impulsively leaning over to kiss her younger brother’s forehead.
Ah, Merileth. If there was one person from his family that he truly missed, with every fiber of his being, it was her. His feisty, loud, ever-caring sister. He even missed her nagging at times; he missed her advice most of all. She’s the one who convinced him that he needed to follow his heart and to leave. He would be sure to write her a separate letter next week. Quietly holding the old book to his chest, much like he did twelve years ago, Tegil transformed once more into young Dínendir, if only for a few heartbeats.
Lempi hiccuped so abruptly, the baby surprised herself. She blinked widely and looked to her mother for reassurance. Tuija gladly gave the infant exactly that, bringing her close to her chest. She softly murmured in her language as she handed the girl a crusty and chewy piece of bread to teeth upon. Lempi had learned fast, already weaned off breast milk at the age of eight months. Once that tooth began to come in, Tuija couldn’t handle feeding her any more. Too painful. Lempi loved crusty bread (which helped with her teething pains), so once the bottles were successfully accepted by the girl, everyone was happier.
Tuija kissed the crown of her daughter’s head, then pulled back to inspect the little face as it sloppily gnawed on the large baked good. It always took her breath away to see how Michael’s features were so easily transposed onto Lempi’s face. Her nose, the shape of her eyes…her lips. Especially her lips. Tuija’s were much fuller, more of a pout than a smile. Her daughter had a mouth begging to laugh, just like her father did. Tuija reached down to kiss Lempi’s cheek softly. The baby giggled and moved away; her mother was getting in the way of bread decimation, and that was not acceptable.
Michael loved bread, too. Tuija’s face twisted sorrowfully as she thought on how he loved her homemade flat breads. She remembered an old saying, one her mother would tell her every time she pouted for her duties as a girl. “Ei elämä irvistellen somene.”
“Life will not get more beautiful by making grimaces.”
Her mother was right. Tuija forced a smile.
The sun was shining, the snow was sparkling, and Loriwen Snowberry couldn’t have been in a better mood if she tried. She thought about skipping as she walked into the gate of Bree-town proper, but she wasn’t in that good a mood. It wouldn’t end well and she knew it. Plus, great mood or not, she was thirty. Just a little too old to be doing that in public. She’d skip at home. Alone. Lori turned away from the main road on her way to the lodge. She needed some new nails and her favorite store was around there. They had the best nail smithy, in her opinion. Sturdy but not ugly on the heads.
Just as she was about to bound up the stairs – carefully as always – her ears caught a sound all too familiar to her. Children. Children taunting someone or something. Lori slid her feet to the right, peering down the alleyway next to the shop. Four children stood around a fifth, who was curled into a ball. They were all girls. Her fantastic mood suddenly diminished, leaving a very unhappy woman to stalk down the alley toward them.
“Y’ know what they’re sayin’ ’round town ’bout yer ma, right?”
“Yeah! I heard my pop saying she’s a who–”
A clear and stern voice rang out over the four girls, all of whom couldn’t have been more than eight. It cut them off most readily. “And what is going on here?” The voice’s owner put her hands on her hips, golden hair shining in the remaining shaft of light and teal eyes flashing with barely hidden anger.
The oldest of them, or at least the tallest of them, pointed to Lori and squeaked, “Ah! It’s her! Din’t she stab that guy in th’ Pony?! I heard my da’ talkin’ ’bout her! Quick! B’fore she stabs us, too!”
All four fled in a whirl of ratty ponytails and threadbare skirts, leaving the fifth girl still cowering against the wall. Lori smiled and squatted down, holding out her hand. “C’mon, it’s alright. They’re gone.” The little girl – definitely younger and seemingly prettier than the others – peeked up to stare at the older woman.
“Wh-.. what’re y’ doin’? They gonna get me good later, now..” She did take Lori’s hand, though, and let her help her shakily stand up.
“They do that often? Tease you, I mean.” Holding her hand, Lori led the little girl toward the way she stalked in; away from the the girls’ direction.
A soft nod and a sniffle answered her question. “S’no fair, I ain’t done nothin’ t’ them. Jus’ wanna be their friend.” Vibrant green eyes shone with tears as the small girl – she couldn’t have been more than six!! – looked up to Lori. Now she understood. Those girls were jealous; those were some beautiful eyes, and if there was anyone in the whole of Bree who knew what it was like to be berated for being different in a pretty way, it was Lori.
“Yer a bastard kid with straw hair ‘n eyes like a rotten robin’s egg!”
“Somethin’s wrong with Loony Lori, you ain’t got no momma an’ yer hair’s all weird! Where’d ya come from, Loony Lori?!”
Her brow creased at the memories; she wiped it from her face and squatted back down to face the brilliantly green-eyed girl. “What’s your name, sweetie?”
“Lizabeth…” Another sniffle, then a wiping of eyes. They blinked, focusing on the older woman for the first time. “…Yer real purty. Diff’rent lookin’.”
A soft but wide smile spread across Lori’s face. “Thank you, Lizabeth. You’re real pretty, yourself. You have some of the prettiest green eyes I’ve ever seen. They’re like a Yule tree.”
Those eyes shifted to the ground, a pout making itself obvious. “They all call ’em puke-green. Or rott’n eggs.”
“Well, don’t let them get to you. You have pretty eyes, and when you grow up, you’re going to find yourself the best guy around and he’s going to love them. Those girls will be so busy picking at each other, all the boys will ignore them and they’ll have to settle for living with crazy Ellie in her cat house on the Stairs.”
She was rewarded with a quiet giggle. “Ya think so?”
Lori stood up and mussed the girl’s brown hair. “I know so. I was teased, too, and now I’ve got the best guy ever. He loves my eyes.” She wrinkled her nose to accompany a sweet smile.
Lizabeth bit her lower lip and grinned up to the woman. “Really? You were teased an’ now yer all growed up and married?” Another big giggle erupted and the little girl ran off happily.
Her gaze shifted back to the alley, remembering some of her own little torture sessions as a small girl. One kid stood out in her mind, a boy. Mathias. He was a mean little boy, pulling her hair and sticking honey in her boots at lessons. He said a lot of horrible things to her; some of them still cut deep when she thought about them. Her fists began to clench as she remembered a particularly crude remark about her absent mother. Half-way to a scowl, she blinked and looked down to her hand. Something was digging into her fist. Oh. Oh, of course.
Lori held her hand up in the sun, the old and battered silver ring shining despite its age. Her wedding ring. She smiled to herself. Bah, sod Mathias. She was happier than he was, that was for sure. After all, he had to marry one of the bratty girls who tortured her as well. Now she tortured him instead. Serves him right. She planted an impulsive kiss on the ring, then nodded to herself and went about her business. Time to buy nails.