Summer Memories

Lori inspected her reflection in the looking glass as she finished inserting her earrings. Her lips curved into an unbidden smile when the turquoise beads shone in the sunlight. Wearing these was always a treat; not only were they beautiful, but they reminded her of fond summer memories. She would occasionally miss her scruffy Gondorian sailor, but in the end, they both knew it was better to part on good terms.

She and Tarlanc had acted like a bunch of lovesick teenagers back then; a rush of hormones and fast declarations of love and general impassioned groping. She wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world, but it wasn’t sustainable. They both were too used to doing their own thing, and after that merchant ship sank, it was clear that their worlds weren’t going to be compatible long term. He needed to go back to Gondor for a long time and wanted her to come with him, but she wasn’t ready for that yet. She had a house, a business, an entire life here.

Even though the two of them were head over heels for one another, Loriwen still wasn’t quite ready to settle down, much less have children, with someone she had known for three months! Some of her friends thought she was insane, but she knew it was the right call. They were just starting to get to know one another. What would have happened if, in half a year, they suddenly discovered a serious and fatal flaw in their relationship? He’d probably be out at sea most of the time anyway, and Lori wasn’t willing to live that kind of life.

And so, one late summer night, they said their goodbyes. He gave her the earrings she now admired, and she gave him an amulet she had carved of the lost ship. Hopefully, he still carried it as a reminder.

The door rattled as someone banged on it, jarring her out of the reverie.

“Oi, c’mon Lori. Market opens in a few minutes; we’re gonna be late!” Her oldest friend’s voice rang through the wood.

Lori shook her head and grabbed her sack of trinkets before running to head outside. The sun radiated down on her as soon as she stepped through the doorway. The wet smell of earth rose to her nostrils and she smiled widely, closing her eyes to soak it in for a few moments. Fall was coming!


The door creaked open and a wave of hot air rushed out of the inn, blowing Bryn’s hair away from her face. Incongruous smells mingled, somehow combining to form a symphony of comfort in her mind: pipe smoke, roasting meat, yeasty beers, the rich taste of metal armor in the air. Loud and entirely too hot in the summer though it may be, The Pony was one of the safest and most beloved places Bryn had found. She figured that this was what “home” was supposed to be like.

She stepped inside and walked over to the bar with purpose, head held high and shoulders back. She was a real customer tonight, not just a street rat paying a fair price for a bag of bread and apples. Barliman’s smile when she first sauntered over to his bar was hesitant, but the tight smile quickly turned genuine after she gave him her order.

“’ey Barli, gimme a real bowl’a stew, an’ whatever’s yer best tea.”

Bryn paid out the exact cost of a full meal with a rare smile and headed to sit at the table closest to the bard currently strumming a lively tune on his lute. The young Hobbit had to still be a tween but he had a lot of talent; his song was both invigorating and comforting, much like a warm cup of tea. She relaxed against the wall behind her, watching his bright eyes carefully keep track of his fingers.

Barliman’s hired help, a young woman with curly auburn hair and clear blue eyes, plopped down a steaming mug of tea and bowl of stew. Bryn could barely stammer out her thanks before the barmaid was swaying through the crowd again. This smelled heavenly! Was that onion, carrot, and potato? The meat – probably beef – looked tender and juicy.

…This really must be what a “home” really was supposed to be like.


Deep blue eyes slowly opened, immediately squinting shut once more when golden-red rays of light bore into them. Tegil stretched for a few long, absolutely sublime, moments before getting out of bed. He had managed to fall asleep in the afternoon heat yet again and it looked like he was going to be awake just in time to watch the sun dip below the horizon. He swung his legs off the edge of the bed and grunted as he pushed himself up to a stand.

Sunset was always his favorite time of the day, but particularly here at his estate in Dol Amroth. He especially loved the after effect, the light purples that spread across the sky, welcoming the moon to her evening. He took a deep breath of salty air and exhaled in a smile.

Life was simple here, but it had some challenges. The bustle of the busy street below, the roaring of the waves…the atmosphere was particularly loud. That didn’t work for some, but Tegil was grateful for the change in scenery from Bree-land. He missed his friends, and would still occasionally write them, yet this existence suited him better. As he watched the last of the sun’s light slip beyond the horizon, he mused that it would be nice to have company on his walks along the beaches or forests, though.

He needed to meet people.


Osbeorne pulled another shirt out of his dresser, unfolding it and laying it down on the bed. He found that it was better to roll his clothes when traveling; easier to fit more in the same pack. This trip would hopefully go better than the last one. He had a wicked scar from his mishap during the fight with that asshole and really didn’t want to repeat that if possible. Kieran was a good kid and Os wanted to help out however he was able.

Hopefully, that little girl would come to her senses and leave with them, too. Sure, Kieran was clearly taken with her and that was nice and all, but the thing he kept thinking of was that parents shouldn’t be that way. What kind of mother lets their daughter get treated like that? It wasn’t right. He’d never treat a kid like that, even if the kid wasn’t his. That guy deserved everything he got.

He folded his shirt in half and methodically rolled it into a tight cylinder, taking some of his frustration out on the poor piece of clothing. Stuff like this only made Os surer he wanted to look into that adoption stuff. He wasn’t giving up on finding someone, but it was about time he needed to really look at what he wanted to do with his life. One of the things he definitely wanted to do was to help raise a kid, and what better way to do that than to adopt a poor kid who doesn’t have a family yet?

His ma wasn’t too keen on the plan; she was concerned that any woman who may be interested in him would find a pre-existing kid a huge detraction, but Os wasn’t actually concerned about that. Why would he want to spend his life with someone who didn’t understand and appreciate the value of bringing a kid in and helping them become a productive adult?

Os sighed and tucked the rolled-up shirt into his pack. When he got back from this trip, he’d start the paperwork for being evaluated. Money wasn’t an issue, but he would have to show he could provide a suitable home. He could do that!


A breeze gently played with the hanging braid of midnight-black hair, slowly swinging it back and forth. A sleepy smile came to the lips of the elf to whom that braid belonged; the breath of coolness that danced upon the late summer’s air current was very welcome. Aeldes hummed a soft tune, one long lost to time and tragedy. Nights like tonight gave her bittersweet memories of her time wandering the forests of Beleriand. It was, as always, so long ago and yet seemed as if it were yesterday.

She didn’t mourn the lost lands or those friends of hers who had sailed beyond to never return, but it did fill her with a sad longing. If she hadn’t been bedridden for so long, she surely would have left with them, but alas, she remained and with much of her passion for the land. This “Bree-land” was a particularly rustic but charming area, and it deserved to be allowed to flourish!

Aeldes stifled a yawn of contentment; this was a wonderful green land, but there was wandering yet to be done in her imagination.

Remembering…

(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. “nendir, 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, nendir. 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 nendir 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 nendir, 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.

Letters to Edoras: Hello!

October 23, 2010

Grandmother Eadgifa and Uncle Thurwald,

First, I just want to say something to whoever is reading you this letter. It means a lot to be able to communicate with family so long lost to me, so thank you. Thank you so much.

I suppose I should start out with the most important news of all. I’ve become betrothed! To Tarlanc, of course; the man Thurwald met while here. It’s rather exciting. We think we’ll make a small, private affair of it: just someone to speak the words and a friend for a witness, if one is needed. I can never remember if one is needed or not. Anyway, yes; it will be small and simple. I’ve always thought it was rather sweet to hear of those couples who ran off to be together, but it seems running off looks rather suspect given our age. Ah, well! As I said, it’s really quite exciting. It seems much too soon by the older standards of the area, but to me, it seems as if it can’t be soon enough. I’m so very, very happy. I hope you know that.

All is very, very well here, as I said above. I’ve finished a rather large woodworking project, and the pay from that is going to keep me rather comfortable throughout the winter here. We’re even speaking of taking a trip somewhere afterward.

It’s odd writing to you, I’m really not sure what to write beside that! Fall is real nice here, the leaves are starting to fall off, making beautiful orange, red and yellow piles everywhere. I’ve been thinking about making a real big pile and jumping in it. That sounds a bit silly coming from a grown woman, I’ll bet! In more domestic news, I’m going to meet with Cara, Tarlanc’s young niece soon. She’s going to try and teach me how to bake a Gondor treat, a bread with cheese in it. That will be a fun day, as she is a truly sweet young girl. Her husband was killed last year, sadly, but she does have an adorably chubby little baby girl named Civrennil. The two of them are a delight to visit, and I’m glad we’ll have some time to get to know each other.

I hope to get to know you better, too. After all, you are kin! Kin unlooked-for, but far from unwelcome. It’s a great relief to know of my mother’s family, and of my mother. How are my cousins, and how about my aunt? Are you all doing alright? I wonder about the winter down in Edoras. Is it very cold? Do you see snow close by, or is it only far away on mountains? I wonder if there are any traditions. Here, we exchange small gifts and mull cider. Treats are eaten, as well. The traditions come from the Hobbits nearby, lovely little folk with a great love for food and drink. I love their Yule traditions, and we around the smaller towns have adopted them ourselves. Please, write back (thank you again, for reading and writing for them) and tell me of your customs. I would dearly love to hear more of everything you would like to tell me.

I look forward to hearing from you, and…thank you for finding me. It filled a long-standing void to know of you and that part of my past that was lost.

Loriwen Snowberry

Lost Family: Getting to Know Each Other

This submission is in PDF form for two reasons.

  1. It’s entirely too long to be posted on my.lotro, and it’s not the kind of piece I can break up.
  2. It’s far more comfortable to read it in black on white serif font instead of whatever my.lotro is conjuring up at the moment.

I hope you enjoy this latest piece. If it’s not working for some reason, I’ll throw it up on fanfiction.net or something.

Link to story here.

RP Prompts: A Secret Revealed!

((A great one-shot with Lori yesterday. This is a response to a lovely prompt by the ever-awesome Pumrya. The original post can be found here. After a conversation with Helvia the other day, Lori was given instructions to go visit Helvia’s uncle to ask if he could help look up information about her parents.))

Loriwen shielded her eyes as she carefully continued up the stairs, one step at a time. She’d gotten used to going up stairs normally, but in the case of this exceptionally tall staircase, she wanted to be careful. Lori went up the stairs one at a time, planting both feet firmly on each step. Falling down this staircase would not end well, and the last thing she wanted to do right now was get seriously hurt. Not only was she teetering on the edge of discovering a thirty year secret, Tarlanc could come home any day now. She had just read Kendry’s letter this morning, it came in the mail as well as the politely written note asking her to visit the archives in Scholar’s Stair. A ship sank. Not only did a ship sink, which of course was a horrible tragedy in and of itself, but it apparently had old friends of his on it. He would be devastated, and the last thing he needed when he got back was a banged up her.

Finally reaching the top and taking a couple more steps forward, she turned around and sighed as she looked down at the mass of stairs. That really would have been quite the fall. Shrugging to herself, she turned back around and quickly made her way over to the door of the archives. Taking a deep breath and holding it, she walked into the archives with crossed fingers.

–Later that day–

He told her it was good news. They had found something, something in the tax records. When her father claimed her as his daughter, said she would inherit whatever he had, her mother’s name had to be written down for it to take effect. Helvia’s uncle wrote it down for her, and now Lori sat safely in her yard, looking at the carefully folded page. She didn’t dare look at it until she was home. She wanted to wait until Tarlanc got back, but this was not the time to be gushing about news like this. He was dealing with tragedy, not something as silly as a thirty year old woman who just now realized her mother’s name may be in tax records. Ugh, she really was such a dolt at times.

Squaring her shoulders and pushing her hair back from her face, she held the note with both hands and slowly opened it. The words hit her like a ton of bricks.

Ceolwyn of Edoras

Edoras! Edoras…Edoras?! Her mother was Rohhiric?! Lori looked at the paper in disbelief. She knew it wasn’t wrong, Helvia’s uncle was as precise and methodical as Helvia herself. It had to be right, but that couldn’t be. It just couldn’t. Setting the paper down with shaking hands, Lori’s hair fell into her face again. The afternoon sun caught it, making the hair glow even more golden than red. Lifting a hand to grab the largest lock, she inspected it in the sun, watching the hair shift from a light golden-red to a bright and shining gold as it moved. Maybe he was right, she did get her hair from her mother after all.

Keeping one hand holding her lock of hair, she lifted the page back to her face with the other. Ceolwyn of Edoras. What an odd name. Lori tried her own name in the style of Rohirric and Gondorian tradition. At least, she thought it was tradition. She’d certainly read enough dry books consisting of “Gárulf, son of Gárhelm” or “Beren, son of Barahir.” They wouldn’t constantly go on like that for no reason, she thought. Books were stories, it’s true, but stories always have a tiny bit of truth in them, no? Loriwen, daughter of Ceolwyn.

Lowering the paper again, Lori leaned against her large maple tree and kept her eyes focused on her hair. Slowly letting each strand fall out of her grip and onto her collarbone, she continued to play with it. It was her mother’s hair, as far as she knew: the golden hair of the Rohirrim. It certainly wasn’t normal Bree-hair. Suddenly all the teasing and annoyance she endured growing up was worth it. She may have had straw-hair as a little girl, but it was her mother’s “straw hair.” Lori allowed herself a small smile.

A Promise: Birthday Visits

Morning visits

The early morning sun glistened off her strawberry blonde hair, making it seem more blonde than red for once. The face her hair framed was surprisingly solemn, her teal eyes sad as they scanned the ground for any tripping obstacles. The bright red flowers she carried popped against the light blue shirt she wore.

Loriwen stepped into the cemetery. It was just as devoid of life and empty as it seemed the day they brought her father here. He insisted on being laid to rest in this old cemetery. His father, and his father’s father, and all the rest were buried here and he did not care if it was a run down plot or not. She looked around with a sigh. The day itself was lovely, warm with a breeze and sunny, yet the trees surrounding the cemetery made it dark and uninviting.

The shade engulfed her as she walked over to a stone. Bright red flowers already graced the plot where her father lay, and a sad smile sprung to Loriwen’s face. Anna was here today. Shaking her head a little bit, she placed the flowers next to Anna’s and gazed at the stone for a while.

Rojer Snowberry of Bree
26 Solmath – 16 Mede
55 years

This is always odd at first. Where to start?” Loriwen sat down in front of the flowers, never taking her eyes from the tombstone. “I mind as well start out with the obvious. I miss you. I always miss you. I’ve taken to writing Grams letters; I hope that isn’t too crazy.” She poked one of the flowers, tracing her finger along the petal. “My woodworking is going better than ever. Have a lot of people who know my name and I get letters from many folk in the area, asking for various things to be made. I made a maple lute a few weeks ago. It was lovely, stained dark and white ivory turning keys.”

Mmm, I suppose something I should probably mention is the farmhouse. I sold it. Couldn’t handle that much land and house on my own, and old Wheatley was keen to pick it up. He gave me a more than decent price for it, think he felt bad for me. Still was a good deal for all of us involved, he got to almost double his land and I got enough coin to buy myself a small house with a small garden. Well, more coin than just that, I have a bit of a savings now. It’s good to have padding involved, makes any emergencies that may happen less of a hassle.” She absentmindedly scratched the top of her right hand, sighing to herself when she snagged a bit of a bandage.

She looked down at the hand, fixing the wrapping and looking back up to the stone, a rueful expression on her face. “Still being a clumsy, crazy old woman. That will never change. Do you know I managed to get a black eye from a book a while back? Absolutely unbelievable. I was writing a letter to Grams and tipped my chair back, and hit the bookcase. Looked up to make sure everything was alright, and bam! My right eye took over a week to heal.”

She shook her head, laughing hollowly. “Ah, that will never change. I’ll always manage to get myself into barely real situations. Whether it’s falling off a bridge, being punched by a book, or even as far back as when I got myself stuck in that tree, you know I’ll find an even weirder one to top the last.”

You know, I’m thirty today. Seems so old to my eyes, then again most younger people these days end up married around half my age. Leastways, they did back when I was that age. Seems more and more folk are shacking up and not marrying at all or they’re waiting until they’re older. Times change quickly, it seems. Folk who travel from the South and from the East bring dark words and stories with them. It’s becoming more dangerous around even Bree-land. It’s worrisome, but what can I do? I’m a simple wood carver with a serious case of bad luck.” A memory struck her and she stopped speaking. Slowly exhaling, she brought her hand from the flower down to the grass and ran her fingers through it as if it were hair.

Continue reading “A Promise: Birthday Visits”

Letters to Tarlanc: Snow!

July 7
Loriwen Snowberry, 6 Long Street, Wildore, Bree-land

Ah, Tarlanc.

You managed to stick me with quite a challenge! To write you a story of my life. I’ve been thinking all day, trying to find a memory that I would be able to turn into a story for you, and I think I finally found one. It may not be much of a story, but I promise it won’t be too dull. It’s late, and I couldn’t sleep, thinking as I was. I was suddenly reminded of our conversation about snow, the one we had the night you brought that interesting wine over. It got me thinking about winter, and the fun times I used to have as a child.

The interesting thing with snow is that it manages to be freezing and at the same time, comfortable. One can sit right down in it, laughing at how soft and nice it is to the touch. It melts at the heat of your body and creates, so to speak, a snow glove to your shape. It’s a wondrous and delightful feeling for about ten seconds: then the cold begins to set in! Rolling around in it helps delay the effect a bit, but in the end, it’s going to make you chilled to the bone. Then again, sitting in snow isn’t what I would call a particularly smart way to go about getting warm!

That’s what snowball fights are for. I don’t know how much you know of snow or activities with it, so forgive me if this seems a bit basic to describe to you. Snow keeps its shape well, especially when packed. Children (and some fun adults) often take handfuls of snow and smash them into a ball shape, forming a soft and cold sphere to throw at others. The trick to a good snowball is…well, I’m not going to tell you, now that I think about it. I’ll enjoy having that one up on you! Snowball fights consist of creating as many of these as fast as possible, and throwing them at each other. It’s great fun, gets the blood pumping. The snow isn’t so hard when packed that it hurts when someone throws it at you, so it’s a harmless way to play in the snow.

Spring is by far my favorite season, as you well know, but winter has special memories attached to it for me. Yule was always a fun time in my house, with mulled cider and cookies being made often by my Grams. Mulled cider, I can do; all it requires is cider, some cinnamon sticks, and a pot. If I can make ales, I can make that. I do every winter, too. The cookies, though…well, let’s say those are best left in my memories. Anyway, my favorite thing to do after a long snowball fight (losing horribly, of course) was to trudge inside, strip off my coat and the other things that bundled me up tight. There was nothing more refreshing than feeling the cold lingering on your skin and clothes as the heat rushed in to warm you.

After that refreshing burst of warm air, my Grams would always set down a small plate of cookies and a large mug of piping hot cider. I’d sit by the fire and watch the birds and other creatures play in the snow, warm and content. While I do admit that the thought of a snowball fight and whatnot with you is an incredibly pleasing and fun thing to think of, I look forward more to the warming up. Sitting by the fire in your arms, both of us sipping hot cider and watching neighborhood children finish the snowball fight we undoubtedly left early.. it’s a fond image.

Ah, my hand hurts from writing so much. Look what you did, made me write so much! But in truth, I managed to bang my right hand up a bit. It’s not really your fault. I look forward to seeing you again, I will always look forward to seeing you. I’ll go ahead and crawl into bed now, and dream of warm cider and snow, but most importantly, I’ll dream of you. And before I know it, we’ll be together again. Yours,

L


Letters to Grams: Ramblings

June 21
Loriwen Snowberry, 6 Long Street, Wildore, Bree-land

The wonders of talking.

Ah, my faith in just telling someone how you feel has proven to be the right thing to do, yet again. Not only is it nice to have myself proven right, but everything makes so much more sense in my life. Let me apologize in advance, for this letter is going to be even more dull than the previous.

Oh, wait! I planted some strawberries. That’s how interesting I am. Ah, perhaps I’m a bit too hard on myself. I saw Anna the other day, that was wonderful. I missed her so much, and I think she missed me, too. Gave me a right big hug when she saw me! That was wonderful. I love hugs…not enough people give hugs these days. It’s a shame. But Anna. Yes, I went into town to find a dress for that dance I mentioned in my last letter. The best place to go to get a dress is most certainly Anna’s shop. Her work is fine, and I know she puts her heart into every piece she makes. After fussing over me for a bit, she went into the back and pulled out a special order that had never been picked up.

It is gorgeous, Grams. Gorgeous! The fabric is soft and smooth, flowing beautifully. The sleeves are long, which is good because of how much I manage to mess myself up with running into things. Can’t see any bruises if you have longer sleeves on. The bust isn’t too low, but it’s no average dress, either. The color is what caught my eye, both literally and so to speak. It was dyed a wonderful shade of teal, the exact color of my eyes. Ah, I looked at it in her looking-steel and it was amazing how well it matched my eyes. The only thing that didn’t fit was that it was a bit too long, so she shooed me out of the shop and hemmed it right up for me. My measurements certainly haven’t changed since the last dress she made for me, so she knew what was what.

She also gave me a bit of a talk on not letting a man get away from me if I care for him. I feel so bad for her! How could Dad have never noticed? Well, noticed is the wrong word. Did anything about it is the better word. Poor Anna loved him before he left for his travels, and he married Mother later on. She always did love him.. it breaks my heart to think about it. Even now, she treats me like I’m her daughter. She still has tears in her eyes when she thinks of him. It’s not fair to her! She’s such a wonderful and warm woman, why would he not want her, even years after?

Ah, I don’t understand it, but I guess that’s a foolish thing for me to go on about, isn’t it? I never knew Mother, never even knew her name. Whatever happened to her affected Dad so deeply that he never even considered another woman, even years later. I wish I knew so much! Even people around town didn’t know her, it’s as if she didn’t actually exist. The only description I ever got of her was her long blonde hair and stern face. That’s it! That’s all I know of my mother. Anna is more of a mother to me, so I suppose that’s why I seem so indignant on her part. I know Mother didn’t intend to die, no one truly does…but I’ll always wonder. Did she love me? Did she run away to get away from me? Was it something Dad did? Did she run off and get attacked by highwaymen? I’ll never know. I don’t even know her name. My own mother’s name, I don’t know it.

I don’t even know why she insisted on my name as it is. Loriwen. The only story Dad ever told me of her was that one. I asked why I had such an odd name, as all my friends were named Helen and Sue and other short and normal names. My name had that “wen” on the end. Everyone always called me “Lori” as it was, so why was my name different? He told me that my mother insisted my name carry “wen” at the end of it. She liked the name “Lori” well enough, but Loriwen would be my full name. It clearly wasn’t any kind of fight, as it’s just a name, but he did give in and allow it. He told me it changed my name’s meaning from “leaves” to “lady of leaves.” That it made me special. Then he asked me to help you with the dishes, he had to be alone. Now I can only assume that means he wept, but I don’t know for sure. He was quite sad. You remember that day, don’t you? It’s the day I hopped up to help you with the dishware and told you I was a proper lady, my name even said it. That I was going to marry me a rich man and wear lady-dresses. Oh, what a fond memory! I had forgotten all about that second part until just now. I hope you remember it as fondly as I do. What a typical girl-child I was!

In some ways, I miss those days, and in others, I wouldn’t trade now for then. I do miss you both dearly. So, so dearly. I hope you’re reading these letters as I write them. You two are what I miss about those days most. Childlike innocence is nice, and I think I’ve still retained a bit of it, but what I really miss are you and Dad. I look to the past too much in these letters, I think! Probably because I’m uncertain as to the future. My future’s been certain for a long time: I’d grow old, make friends, carve wood, and grow my garden. These same things have kept me happy and content enough for the past ten years since both of you left. Romance, peh! Everyone wants romance, but every time I even thought of it with someone, they turned me down quite promptly.

Even that Camus fellow. I never wrote you about him, but that was quite upsetting at the time. Quite some time ago, when I first discovered the Broken Cask (that tavern I frequent) I met a cousin of the innkeeper. He name is – was? I’m not sure, I haven’t seen him in months – Camus Locksley. Same surname as Rosie’s before she got married, that’s how I know it. He was a quiet enough man, a bit younger than me, though. I figured there would be no chance, but he took what I thought was an interest in me. He’d actually talk to me without others around, and I thought I’d catch him looking at me. Things were crazy then, what with the flood and plague spreading around. He disappeared for a while, and I was a bit worried he had perished along with so many others. I even found myself a vial of the cure and saved it for him. I saw him one time after that, talked with him for a short while. Gave him the vial, it seemed like he enjoyed talking. Never saw him again. Quite odd, quite disappointing. Ah, but there is a point to this little story. I’d gotten over that long ago. My point is that it has happened to me a lot, constantly thinking a man may have an eye for me but then completely ignoring me or showing up one day with another woman on his arm. I’ve become used to being alone, even began to enjoy it. Could go where I wanted, when I wanted, didn’t have to worry about worrying anyone else.

Why did my thoughts turn here? I promise, there’s even another layer of a point: Tarlanc. I know, my letters seem to always begin and end with him. He is admittedly on my mind very often. Strange that I’d find myself enamored with and being courted by a Gondor sailor of all the types of people in the world, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. He took me aside the other day, told me that the risks I take when I gather my timber concern him. He wants to help, to protect me. I’ve never had someone care about what I do. He really listens to me talk about what I’ve carved. He actually wants to hear stories of you and Dad. Whenever I hurt myself by accident, he softly tells me he wishes I would be more careful. He cares about me. It’s new, and I’m still reeling from it.

He told a lovely story last night at the Cask, a most adorable story about a rainbow fish that could feed an entire village for a year. He modified it a bit, apparently, to be friendly for the Hobbit-lass we were…well, we weren’t taking care of her, but I guess we were. She had fallen asleep and missed her Ma. So I held her and he told her a story to calm and quiet her. The story was adorable…I could tell he has those nieces and nephews he’s mentioned before. I’m beginning to wonder if he wants children of his own. He always mentions his family first, warns me that they’d be asking about children in the first five minutes of meeting me, but he mentions it a lot himself. I wonder if he realizes how often it’s brought up, and always by him, not me. Even as early as our second real meeting, he was mentioning how a woman of my age can carry a healthy child just fine! It scares me quite a bit, Grams. I don’t know if I’m cut out to be a mother, at all. I’m just too clumsy. I’d be more apt to drop them or feed them the wrong food than not. I do love children, but to actually be in charge of one? Oh, no. I just don’t think I could do it. I don’t even want to think about it anymore.

Ah, this letter has gone long, hasn’t it? I really should wrap it up, I have to finish cleaning up my house. I’ll write you again soon, and perhaps even with the length I showed here! Give Dad a hug for me, a big hug.

Your little pumpkin,
Lori

Memories: A Promise

A soundless sneeze echoed through the farmhouse. Loriwen sniffled to herself, rubbing her nose with a sleeve. It was warm, but her Grams insisted she stay under the covers. Best way to get rid of a sickness is to stay in bed, she said. So Lori stayed, miserable, overheated, and constantly coughing.

A well-trimmed mop of red hair with gray speckled throughout it trotted through the doorway, Rojer beneath it with worried eyes. “Hey, pumpkin.” He kneeled down on the floor, sitting on his heels. Running his hand through his daughter’s sweat-soaked hair, he felt her forehead. Burning up still. He frowned. “Here, I got this for you.” Pulling a large bottle of medicine from his pouch, he grabbed the spoon that was in her tea.

Loriwen shook her head, making a scrunched frowning face. Covering her feverishly flushed face, she made it very clear she was not interested in taking the awful medicine.

Pumpkin, please. If you take it now, you’ll feel better later. Don’t you want to feel better on your birthday?” Rojer pleaded softly with his daughter, holding the spoon carefully.

The small girl relented a little, but still didn’t open her mouth.

I’ll ask Grams to give it to you instead.”

That straw broke the girl’s back, and she opened her mouth reluctantly. Making a rather funny face, she eventually swallowed the medicine, it tasting even worse than she had feared. Loriwen looked to her father sadly, pointing to her throat.

I know, I know.. this medicine is supposed to make it all better. You’ll be able to talk soon, I promise.” He patted her hand, smiling sadly. “It’s just a touch of sickness, you’ll get your lovely little voice back soon.”

Unable to speak but understanding, she settled down into bed sadly. The sight about broke Rojer’s heart. He smiled and ran his fingers through her hair again. “Loriwen, let’s make a promise. We’ll always be together on our birthdays, even in silence and without cake.”

Loriwen’s eyes sparkled once again, nodding slowly. She held out her hand with a weak smile. Rojer put on as happy a smile as he could muster, giving her a hand shake.

Eleven years later, now a grown woman, Loriwen Snowberry found herself in the opposite position. Kneeling in the same pose, she sat next to her father’s bed. Wringing a rag in cold water, she placed it on her father’s forehead quietly. After a long time of silence, she reached up and held his hand. Never a good liar, she cleared her throat and managed to choke one sentence out. “Everything is going to be alright, Dad.”

Rojer’s head shook quietly, more gray than red strands falling into his face. A small, sad smile was plastered on his face. He brought his hand up to his daughter’s face, weakly poking her nose.

Loriwen’s eyes began to fill up with tears. “You have to be here for my birthday. We promised. We’ll always be together on our birthdays, even in silence and without cake.”

A raspy, thin wafer of a voice wafted into the air. “We always will. Visit me?” Rojer winced at the talking, lapsing back into silence. His own face had tears running down it.

She nodded slowly, her voice cracking with barely contained emotion. “I promise.” Her lips quivered as she attempted to hold back the tears practically brimming over.

He nodded slowly, lifting his hand to touch her cheek as he gave his daughter one last weak smile before slowly closing his lids.

Unable to contain herself anymore, Loriwen threw her head into the bedspread and sobbed.